Book four: Chapter two, 2016, just another Christmas

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Midsummer'sday, 2040, noon

By noon even the most die-hard party-goers from the night before had woken up. A few nurtured a serious hangover, but youngsters these days normally didn't have to be told to avoid alcohol. For them that was the drink of old people, which made parenthood a lot easier.

Noriko's oldest, however had chosen to make an exception to that rule and apparently stole a bottle of strong liquor sometime during the night.

Christina watched him receive a verbal lashing of an epic scale from his mother. He deserved it, and it had to hurt twice as bad given his headache.

James, keep your kids in check! Because the real perpetrator had to be one of James' two kids. Around twenty both of them but with the sensibilities of high schoolers. Mix with an easy-going aura and it made for a bad combination.

Noriko, my friend, we grew apart in the end, didn't we? And yet Christina still considered Noriko one of her best friends. Throughout these last twenty five years they'd shared the most important moments, not all of them good, but important nonetheless. For very different reasons both were relatively young mothers, which was a mixed blessing to those kids.

Smiling Christina looked at the main reason why Noriko's son had chosen to drink himself into a stupor. Her daughter who stood on the hilltop looking down.

Sorry kiddo. I know you have a crush on her, but she's in love with someone else.

Noriko's son accepted the last of her scolding and threw Christina's daughter a sullen look. Then his face twisted into rage and when Christina turned she saw her daughter's boyfriend climbing up the hill.

It hurts, I know it does, but at least you have the blessing of your parents to love and hurt for all you're worth. Savour that freedom!

Chapter two,2016, just another Christmas

Finals came and went as did any reasonable chance for the golden couple to spend much time with each other.

Together with his sister Ryu created small windows of opportunities. They owed those friends at least that much.

With the help of Yukio and Kyoko Ryu managed to turn the club into a dating central for Urufu and Kuri, and despite failing to make most of those dates come true a few fell through the tightening net around the two of them.

This was one of them, or rather this wasn't one of them but it was. A freezing morning saw the student body line up for five respectively ten kilometres of wet depression. While the girls ran a different course than the boys everyone still gathered at the same place before the start. That place being the soccer field.

"Boring!" someone shouted from somewhere in the middle of the crowd.

Got to agree with you on that one, Ryu thought, but he knew he'd place among the best of the first years. Maybe among the top fifty in the school, which was more than decent considering juniors and seniors participated as well.

"I'm worried," Noriko said.

"Worried about what?" Ryu replied and threw a sidelong glance at his sister.

She looked back at him, eyes hidden under bangs plastered to her forehead by the stubborn rain that seemed to have gone on for over two weeks straight by now. That wasn't true, but there hadn't been many days in December without a downpour, which made for the wettest winter month he could recall.

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