Book four: Chapter four, 2017, dark and bitter

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Midsummer's day,2040, swimming

Yukio joined his wife when she prepared to try the waters.

"And you promise this is safe?" he asked Urufu who stood on a cliff a bit further away.

"Yeah, counts as a beach here in Sweden. Water's not too warm though, just telling you."

Suddenly Yukio saw Kyoko break the surface, diving into the water in a way that told him she had more than a little experience.

But you told me you used to go swimming with Kuri. I should have known.

"Gah! It's freezing!" she shouted when she came back up for air. "But it's good!"

"She wants me to get into that?" Yukio said to Urufu and pointed at Kyoko in the water.

Ulf smiled back. "You want your wife telling you that you didn't dare?"

Yukio growled. "That's easy for you to say who just stand..."

The next splash announced Urufu entering the water. He dove as gracefully as always, which was like watching a brick falling into water.

Crap! Well, this counts as summer here, and it's not like I'll be back any time soon. Yukio jumped into the water and landed with a shriek. It was freezing. A little like February back home.

Chapter four,2017, dark and bitter

January went by in a rush, and when the juniors vanished for their week long trip to Kansai, Noriko decided she'd had enough. Kuri spent all her free time modelling, which meant she had no free time at all, and if she had no free time, neither did Nao. If Noriko couldn't get time with her boyfriend then she'd be damned if she couldn't get some with her friends. And that meant outside club hours.

A day earlier she tried to have her father pull some strings, and to her surprise he did so with a malicious grin on his lips. While he placed a few phone-calls, Noriko's mother rang a few friends of her own, with a gleeful expression just as creepy as her father's.

Sometimes Noriko wondered about her parents. She had a feeling they would have made better friends with her brother than her, if they met when they were all high schoolers. There was a lot of Ryu in her mother, and sometimes she saw an echo of Urufu in her father. I should ask, one day. Or maybe not.

The most important right now was that Kyoko would be discharged within the week, but before that Noriko planned to spend an evening with Kuri. Two in fact. The first to plan a later sleepover with all four of them. The boys could spend that night at one of Yukio's two homes for all Noriko cared.

To that end Kuri had been called to a business meeting with her father. It was to set up her new company, CAMODE, or something like that. Apparently some kind of pun in Swedish. And to avoid any complaints Noriko made certain that her father and Kuri would actually have a meeting.

Amounting to well over quarter of an hour.

A little cockroach inside her head poked at her soul and reminded her that a bad consciousness isn't so easily stomped out, but she slammed a pair of mental feet down on it, just as she had all since she started planning. The thing was, if she could wrestle some time out of Kuri's schedule for herself, then she could have done so for Urufu; probably for Kuri as well if Noriko was to be perfectly honest with herself.

She didn't intend to be. Honest that was. Honest was for those who didn't get things done, like her idiot bro.

The sound of an engine on the street brought her back to reality, and when she went to a dark room and moved aside the curtains, she recognised the car that brought Kuri to school every morning.

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