Book two: Chapter one, 2016, crescendo

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Midsummer's eve,2040, after dinner

Walking up the hill they were greeted by a crimson sky and a tapestry of shredded clouds clad in gold and black. The setting sun painted them from below with a divine beauty.

Then they reached the crest, and below them the western archipelago opened up, red sunbeams playing along waves and islet after countless islet, making each a precious gem.

"No way!"

"Yes way," Christina laughed.

"It looks like the land of gods."

She turned and flashed him a smile taking twenty years off her. "It looks like home." I'm happy here. I'm happy in this world. I'm happy that it gave me a transition and restart.

Chapter one, 2016

They sat in her room. Christina's futon lay rolled up against a wall and Ulf used it as a backrest. His seat was the tatami mats, and she sat between his legs with him as her backrest.

Her hair smelled fantastic even in the sweltering August heat, and he could stay here forever feeling her fingers caressing the backside of his hands as he hugged her. Ulf revelled in the luxurious mass of golden hair draping his fingers whenever she moved her head.

The talk, however, had taken a turn for the worse.

"I have family. It's problematic." He hugged her closer.

"How so? And you never told me."

They were sharing memories again. In Swedish, but no longer distant memories from Sweden.

"Well, my daughter..."

"Daughter!" Christina turned and pushed herself away from him. Stunned rage played in her face. "You got a kid here?"

Ulf blushed. "N, no, it's n, not that way..." he stuttered. I'm an idiot! "She's my guardian."


Careful now Ulf. Tread lightly or she'll never forgive you. "I was assigned a legal guardian as part of my background story in this world."

Christina's jealousy abated. A little. Very little.

"You never told me."

"You never asked." And that was a supremely stupid thing to say.

Once again Christina looked like she was going to explode. A moment later he received a hard slap.

I deserved that.

It took him the better part of half an hour to calm her down, and he had to run after her into the streets before she agreed to listen to him. By the end of it it was all out in the open.

"How old is she?"

They stood beneath a scattering of trees hugging one corner of a playground. Ulf's clothes were soaked with sweat. No cosy cuddling on her floor any more.

"Thirty. Works as a beat cop, or however the system works here in Japan. Uniformed anyway."

"Your legal guardian is a police officer, and she's your daughter?"

"She's thirty," Ulf said glumly. He knew it didn't really make sense.

He had sweated all through his casuals and now he was drenched from the inside out. Hugging was out of the question, and even though he had a hard time letting go of Christina, the heat outside proved that her asthmatic air conditioner made some difference. Hugging her he'd soak her clothes as well.

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