It got worse.
Something rigid and bony slams into my right cheek, the impact of the wooden floor following shortly thereafter.
I must have said that out loud.
I would have yelled at her, and possibly even returned the punch tenfold had it not been for what happened next.
"Sakura!" the eldest woman scolds. "You greet a guest with a bow, not a punch."
"But, he's--!" she stops herself and pauses for a moment in wide-eyed thought before she does a full, 40-degree angled bow and says, "I'm sorry for punching you."
I blink stupidly for a moment before the realization settles in. Ah, so she never told them.
"It's fine." I reply. "I've been through worse."
"You'll have to forgive Sakura." the woman continues with a nervous laugh. "She's very impulsive." - she then turns to the young woman - "Sakura, show this nice young man where he will be staying."
Annoyance flashes across her face before she replies, "Alright, sis." - she turns to the two teens standing behind her - "Harlan, Kairi, wait here with Auntie and Uncle, okay?"
The kids respond, albeit reluctantly, "Okay."
The hallway is narrow.
It can barely fit two people, let alone three, as it had managed to do so for a moment earlier.
"Is that anyway to greet an old friend?" I ask, rubbing my sore cheek.
"Hmph. Aren't friends supposed to be there for each other? As far as I remember, you didn't stay, you bastard."
"I was young."
"So was I, but I wasn't a coward like you. The least you could've done was stay for breakfast."
"I'll make up for that with 17 breakfasts."
"Shut up." she frowns as she slides the room's doors shut behind her.
Her irises are now drained of colour. The last time I saw her, they were a vivid ebony, but I find myself staring at the foggy eyes of a dead cod in the supermarket now.
"Why the hell are you back here in Karakura?"
"Is it illegal to travel between the Old and New World?"
"Answer my question."
I frown. "The New World has many caretakers and bodyguards. And almost every noble and middle-class family has at least one. I came here looking for a job, but I did not expect you to be my first client--."
"Oh, is that what I am?" she interrupts. "A client? Well, so much for friends then, huh? Can't be a friend, one-night stand and a client now, can we?"
"Are you still thinking of--?"
"Yes, I'm still thinking of that night!"
Her sudden outburst surprises me, and I can feel a band of spiders scurrying down my spine.
The moment is broken when the sliding door flies open. The woman is there, a stern expression on her face.
"What's going on here?" the woman demands.
"Nothing." my client replies, giving one final, fiery glare. "Nothing at all."
The young woman storms out of the room, leaving me and her sister to stare after her.
"Keep my sister safe and healthy. If you do anything else to her..." - she gives me a piercing glance, her amber eyes resembling that of a retreating tiger's - "...I will deal with you personally."
I force down my bubbling adrenaline. "Yes, ma'am."