Book three: Chapter five, 2016, days of waiting

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Midsummer's day, 2040, dawn


James woke from the morning chill. During what passed for night here someone had draped him in a blanket, and he passed a thankful thought to whoever that was.

An endless dawn broke over the island, but the growing daylight brought little warmth with it.

James shuddered and drew the blanket tighter around himself. Even though his bladder told him he needed to get up and find a toilet the rest of his freezing body ordered him to stay put for a little bit longer. In the end bladder won that contest, and shivering from cold he rose and shuffled indoors.

Maybe some coffee later to warm me up, he thought after obeying his bladder. He'd make it the weak Swedish style, because hot water was more important than proper coffee right now.

Besides, it's always good to have some prepared for when the next person wakes. That thought took him back to the year he got to know his hosts. You came over almost every evening that autumn. Or had it really been the entire autumn?

James shook his head in confusion. Well, it mattered little. During that autumn his Haven café became a second home for more than a few of those kids. But one of you was absent for some time. Funny that, I forgot what happened.



Chapter five


One grey day in mid-October Kyoko left the funeral with lips a thin line on her face as she tried to keep her thoughts together.

In difference from most her age she wore a set of proper mourning clothes; one morbid benefit of being raised as a proper girl.

It took some time to accept the black irony. More than just time if she was to be honest with herself. The unexpected death of a friend left her strangely empty and more than a little ashamed.

One misstep during an act of celebration was all it took. One relieved laugh too many and one glance in the wrong direction.

Three of them were hit by a drunk driver. One of them died on his way to the hospital where the other two shared a room next to Urufu's, the very person they were on their way to visit when fate dealt them a dirty hand.

Kyoko knew she should feel grief, but she didn't. She never got to know Urufu's and Yukio's dead classmate that well to begin with, and from the little she had seen he was a rather shy member of Kuri-chan's fan club, one who hadn't chosen to join the club to get closer to her.

There was the matter of her shame as well. The reason her heart was full of relief rather than grief. That day Yukio had pulled her back when she almost stepped into a puddle, and in doing so he spun around just enough to avoid the swerving car. Or almost avoid it, because a rear mirror caught his blazer and tore it off him.

Kyoko still remembered her entire world filled with cloth and Yukio's surprised shout. She hadn't even seen how Yukio's classmates were mauled by the car.

They hadn't told Urufu yet. He was still unaware of the two classmates only a wall away from him, and in the end Kyoko found herself forced to cajole Yukio into telling his best friend the bad news. And that was the reason she was on her way from a funeral to a hospital with an unwilling boyfriend in her tow.

"If you don't I will," Kyoko said to Yukio. "Tell him, that is," she continued just in case she had understated the obvious. He wasn't going to wriggle himself out of it this time, and with her in mourning dress he didn't stand a chance.

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