Book two: Chapter two, 2016, southbound

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Midsummer's eve,2040, preparing the grills

Kyoko watched as Yukio poured half a sack of briquettes onto the grill. There was a lot more soot and black hands compared to Urufu's handiwork just a metre away. Apparently even something as simple as preparing the barbecue was a learned skill.

It taught her two things she hadn't thought of before. That what's mundane for one person is exotic for another, and that Swedes spent far too much time burning food and eating outdoors during summer.

If they're frantic enough to learn all this, what are their winters like? A picture of Hokkaido came unbidden to her mind, and she shivered despite the warm summer's evening.

"What time is it?" Yukio asked after looking at his hands and his mostly white shirt.

Urufu grinned and helped wipe his hands off. Then he looked at the sky. "Nine, give or take fifteen minutes."

Yukio shook his head. "And the sun still gives warmth. This place is a miracle."

"You're just unused to it. Just like I was back then during the beach trip."

Do you mean the first or the second one? Kyoko thought. I wonder if you really remember very much of the first one to that Wakayama place. She was overflowing with memories, and along those memories followed the intense infatuation she had shared with Yukio. But it grew to real love, didn't it? she thought and hugged her husband from behind.

Chapter two,2016, southbound

Something had broken between Urufu and Kuri-chan, but strangely enough their ties with each other grew stronger as well.

And Kyoko was filled with shame. And so was Yukio. So now they shared both new-found love as well as shame.

But I have to make a choice, and you're the most important to me, Kyoko thought and threw Yukio a guilty glance. She received one in return.

They were shaking along the rails on a regional train to a resort where the Wakayama parents had called in a favour to find the club a hotel they could afford. The Shinkansen was the better alternative, but most members in the club wanted to avoid the premium cost.

Our first field trip. Because four days and three nights by the sea counted as their first field trip together.

Two rows ahead Urufu and Kuri-chan sat nestled together sharing silence. Kyoko could only guess what it contained, but she felt it wasn't empty. Silence filled with meaning, like the one she shared with Yukio, and yet nothing at all like it.

She went through their schedule in her mind again. The most important part of it. After they chose their rooms and settled in Urufu promised to give them a more coherent explanation of what had happened. He had to. The entire club regarded Red Rose Academy as a personification of everything bad and evil, but Kyoko believed that was too simple a description.

She had spoken about it with Yukio, but he remained adamant that Red Rose Hell, as he called it, was indeed evil incarnate, and so she wanted Urufu's side of it. Loving Yukio didn't mean she took everything he said at face value.

This was too important to be analysed by teenagers only. Urufu would have an adult's insight, and Kuri-chan could be counted on to share her pool of experience as well.

If it wasn't for that silence.

Since the night he drank himself to a stupor, with most of the club members sitting in the next room, Urufu hadn't spoken much. Kuri-chan forced a promise from both Yukio and Kyoko not to leave his side when she was away on her modelling sessions, but Kyoko wondered how smart that really was. Urufu never got any time alone.

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