Chapter five, 2016, falling in love

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Midsummer's eve,2040, poolside

Ulf wasn't entirely certain that it was safe bathing in the pool given how drunk most of them had become, but Christina had it all planned. The swimming pool stayed closed, but the small spa pool was running.

He walked across the large wooden veranda, listening to the hollow sounds under his feet for every step. Good, pool's covered. Don't want people drowning there come night.

A few of the guests were making good use of the spa, most of them belonging to the younger generation. They sent him polite nods with the message: "Please go away old geezer!"

He shook his head. The spa was smaller and safer, and warmer, but it still counted as the pool début for the year. Rather late this year. And on midsummer's eve, the Swedish version of a summer festival.

Sudden memories made him grin at first, but then his smile turned sour. It had taken him so many years to finally be a part of this world, and those memories from his second youth carried the taint of a desperate need to escape.

Chapter five,2016, falling in love

Club activities ground to a halt as midterms came crashing down on them. That two way presentation they shared with the Swedish club had already been one activity too many.

The club members made good use of their room for studying after school, even though officially there were no club hours.

There wasn't a teacher who cared. Noriko didn't expect to find a teacher who would willingly tell the students not to study for exams just because they sat in their club room.

She had just opened the door to the Stockholm Haven Café when she heard agitated voices from the inside. It was too late to change her mind, so she entered despite recognizing Kuri-chan's voice as one half of a quarrel.

For once something was uglier than the tacky interior.

"I told you not to come here evenings."

"Look, you brat. I was free now so I came here to collect my money. None of your business."

The middle aged woman that the voice belonged to stormed out of the café.

"Who was that?" Noriko asked Kuri-chan. She nodded affirmatively when the barista questioningly held up an empty coffee cup.

Kuri-chan gave the exit a long stare. She sighed and turned to Noriko. "That was my legal guardian."

"Collecting money?"

"She's also my landlady since a few months. Let's just say she's running a dirty business on the side with orphaned teenagers. Suits me perfectly, but I'm a bit worried about a couple of the other tenants." Kuri-chan shrugged. "Not my business really. She leaves me alone in exchange for some cash."

Shouldn't you be worried about yourself? "For some cash?"

"I have a job that pays rather well, but I had to lie about my age. She's backing the story."

Noriko nodded at the door by the counter. "Want to take it inside?"

Kuri-chan shook her head. "No need. Your coffee is done. Let's sit down by a table here." She grabbed her glass of water and walked away from the counter.

They were almost alone in the café, so Kuri-chan was probably correct when she said that the extra privacy the inner room offered wasn't needed. Noriko rounded some chairs and tables as she followed her rival and friend.

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