Book three: Chapter four, 2016, the long, long night

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Midsummer's day, 2040, pre-dawn

Pre-dawn lasted forever, just like dusk's afterglow went on for over an hour the evening before.

The morning chill had nothing of summer in it, or at least nothing that Ryu associated with summer.

He dressed James, who had fallen asleep in a chair, in a second blanket and walked over to the other side of the house. The music had changed character, and he guessed a lot of the kids called it a day by now. A few probably spent the rest of the morning in pairs doing things they incorrectly believed their parents knew nothing about.

Kids! It's about time you got a clue how you came to be our kids in the first place. He smirked and stared down at where the party was still going on. Well it's your party. I'm too old for that crap.

Pre-dawn. He once spent one waiting for a friend to wake up all those years ago, but that time the party ended long before that.

Damn you scared the hell out of us. The magic couple to the rescue. Ryu smiled at the memory. A good one born from something bad. The magic couple, huh. Guess you still are.

Chapter four

With the unexpected arrival of trucks carrying everything in her wish-list, Noriko dared lean back in her chair and sort out other problems in her enormous inbox.

Stay busy. Stay occupied. Make sure you don't have time to worry about him.

She leaned further back and rested her head on Nao's shoulders. He sat on a chair behind her and hugged her. Had done so since she forced herself to shoulder the broken remains of Urufu's planning. Not once did he comment on how her mind was full of another man.

"Noriko?" Her radio crackled, and the led light stared accusingly at her.

She smirked and pushed the button. "Noriko here."

"Kyoko here. You can move half the security from the service gates. I don't think the police will leave it before the festival ends. Over."

"Thank you." For once Noriko remembered Urufu's instructions from the day before. "Over and out."

She split the four students from 9:1 into two pairs, had one take a break and the other carry supplies to the stalls needing it most. With a scowl she realised that was just about every stall on the main street.

"Nao, help me," she said. She sighed and rose from her chair with the help of her arms. All strength long gone from her limbs, she needed physical support to move from their office area to the lounge part.

He didn't answer, but he put his right arm around her and held her waist with his hand. It probably looked a bit indecent, but it allowed her to sag in his embrace without falling to the floor.

It's time for some bad acting. Here goes nothing. "Guys," she said facing the club members. "We don't have time for apathy now. Urufu worked his arse off to make this work, so why the hell are you sitting here you lazy bastards?"

She only wanted to join them, but in the long run that wouldn't make anyone feel better.

"Shut up bitch!"

"I'll shut up when you start working again. Urufu and Kuri are absent. That puts me in charge here. Get the hell out of here and fill up the stalls!" Does that make me sound arrogant enough? Did I make them angry enough to care again?

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