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Ryu wondered what the sounds of laughter was all about and climbed the hill side to find out.

When he reached the house he heard gales of laughter from the wooden deck. Shaking his head the turned around a corner and peeked.

It was Yukio with a cigarette in his hand and Kyoko cradling a cup of tea, and she was laughing so hard some of it spilled.

I wonder what’s so funny. Ryu allowed himself to be seen.

They didn’t even notice. Yukio and Kyoko laughed so hard they had to cling to each other for support. By now over half of that tea lay on the wooden deck.

What’s up,” Ryu asked. He was less interested in the answer than giving them a heads up they weren’t alone any longer.

Ryu! Great! Kyoko’s going on about hatsumode.”

Ryu stared at Yukio. “Hatsumode? That’s half a year away.”

No, not now. I mean then. Second year.”

Second year? What are they… “I’m out of here,” Ryu said when he remembered.

Oh no, you’re staying. You never told us all the details.”

And we really want to know what happened in your end,” Kyoko filled in.

There’s a reason I never told you, Ryu thought frantically. There had to be a way of getting out of this. “Nothing special,” he tried weakly. “I mean nothing worth remembering,” he added. That was true in a way. Hatsumode during their junior high school year was very much worth forgetting.

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StenDuring

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