Monday, 23 May 2016

Chapter two (segment three), 2016, December, Ulf

Aren't you going dating on Christmas?”

As in going out? Why?”

Yukio stared at him. “Lover's day, you know?”


Christmas eve. One of the number one dating days in the year.”

It is?”

He received yet another stare.

Well, unless you've been living under a rock you'd have known that.”

Now when you mention it. No, I haven't been living under a rock. Christmas is family in Sweden. You don't go out.” Ulf thought about it for a moment. “OK, I don't know about youngsters these days, but for me Christmas is a day you spend at home with those most important to you. You can ask Christina. I think she'll say the same thing.”

Ulf thought about it. Japan wasn't a nation with a Christian background. Christmas and Easter came with traditions back home. If they were celebrated here at all they had to be purely commercial events. Kind of like Halloween in Sweden. Besides he'd spent last Christmas cooped up in that juvenile delinquent institution they sent him to after he got expelled from Red Rose Hell.

And no, he didn't intend to spend Christmas out. Christina had already agreed to spend it with him and Amaya. First she said something about staying home, but Christmas alone was just too sad a thought for him to accept. So he nagged until she caved in.

Yukio looked back at him from across the table. Soon they'd leave their soon to be former club room and walk down the stairs and to the gym for the year's end ceremony, and after that two weeks of winter break.

Former? By now most of what they needed had been moved to Stockholm Haven café, and the room looked pretty much like any other classroom in the school. Apart from the table and the sofa that didn't make the move. Ulf guessed someone would clean those out during the break.

What about you?” he asked in return.

Kyoko,” Yukio said as if that explained everything.

Ulf rose from his seat and beckoned to his friend to do the same. “I guess this is it,” he said and left for the door.

We made a lot of memories in here,” Yukio said.

The sound of the door sliding shut behind them signalled the end of something. And a new beginning? Well, they certainly had experienced a lot in the room they left. “Yeah,” Ulf said at a lack of words. “The best hangout for second term.”

Man, what's with that depressing voice?”

Depressed. I guess it shows, but it's not about the club. Ulf forced a smile to his lips. Not going to burden you with my problems. Have a great holiday!

Nothing. Just gonna miss the old place,” Ulf said and hoped he sounded sincere enough for Yukio to buy the lie.

They walked down the stairs to the entrance floor and were joined by second and third years heading for the gym. A stiff thousand students inside the gym was cramming it, but it was doable. Ulf wondered how they planned to solve that problem come April, but they must have done so many years ago when all thirty six classrooms were in use.

Three more months until I've done my second stunt as a first year high school student. He shrugged and slapped Yukio's back to remove those kinds of thoughts. Real first years didn't think about April just prior to winter break. Real first years only thought of the break ahead of them.


Hurry up kiddo. We're running late.”

Yeah yeah, whatever, baldy,” Yukio said, but his grin belied the insult.

Soon they were hugging the school building and freezing now when the unseasonal rain finally had abated and the temperature dropped to more proper and miserable levels.

More or less any other day he'd change in the boys' locker room and walk out the other side of it before going to the gym, which cut the distance to almost nothing. Now the entire school was heading there, and both locker rooms were off limits.

Ulf wrapped his arms around himself when a sudden gust of wind told him they'd rounded the left wing and were heading towards the football field.

Man,” Yukio began, “did you ever find out why the Red Rose bastards jumped you?”

No,” Ulf answered. Because there probably wasn't an easy answer. By now he was certain it really had nothing to do with Red Rose, or at least nothing to do with the corporate part of Red Rose. “Friends of friends I guess,” he continued.

Both boys walked almost sideways to avoid the worst of the wind, but it did little to prevent Ulf from freezing his arse off.

Friends of friends?”

Yeah, even bastards have friends you know.”

I don't get you, man,” Yukio said. The words came out a bit whiny, but Ulf chose to attribute that to the bone-chilling wind rather than any dissatisfaction with his explanation.

We put the guys who attacked Noriko through hell, remember?”

Yukio nodded.

You'd better. You helped carry two of them away. And as far as those people are concerned I'm responsible for that suicide. “I believe it was as simple as revenge. They just wanted to beat the crap out of me.”

Anything else didn't make any sense. Ganging up on an arrival was inviting disaster. Ulf couldn't see anyone creating a covert organisation for handling the likes of him and Christina and then just accept when their investment was sent to hospital.

But there sure are people who hate us now. I'm afraid we haven't seen all the crap hitting the fan yet. Which was the bad thing. He could handle crap, and if he was honest with himself, so could Christina. It was just that he wanted to protect her. Her needing protection or not just didn't come into the picture. I guess that makes me a chauvinist pig. Then so be it. I love her, I want to see her happy. If that's old fashioned then I'll refuse to become modern.

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