“I don’t think we’ve been properly introduced,” Crawford remarked when the boys ran inside to collect their fishing nets.
Ken had been expecting the moment but his stomach performed an interesting gymnastic manoeuvre all the same. “This is Reiko,” he started, trying not to sound apologetic, although he wasn’t entirely sure who he’d be apologising to.
“His wife,” Reiko added, putting her arm around Ken’s waist.
“Kaoru’s mother,” Ken finished.
“How interesting,” Crawford replied, after the very briefest of pauses. And then to Ken, in a distressingly familiar, measured cool tone. ”That sounds like a conversation we haven’t had yet.”
Meanwhile, down on the beach.
“I thought your mother was dead,” Shinji said bluntly, when the situation was explained.
“It’s been an interesting week,” Keigo grumbled, while Kaoru pretended to be deaf.
Crawford was upset but naturally he couldn’t admit it, so he just made everyone else’s life miserable instead.
“What the fuck was that for?” Schuldig asked, when Shinji fled crying upstairs. Kunimitsu, being more like his father, had silently stomped off to the tennis court, where the rhythmic slap of a ball being slammed around would shortly be grinding on everyone’s nerves. From his refuge in the kitchen, Nagi fleetingly contemplated inviting Keigo over to finish the job.
“You’ve never mentioned Hidaka’s wife,” Crawford said accusingly.
No situation in the world existed which the American couldn’t blame on someone else.
“No really,” Nagi said on the phone to Mamoru later. “It’s been the absolutely worst trip ever. Schuldig and Brad aren’t speaking. The kids have run away from home. Hidaka’s a wreck.”
He broke off to have a swig of diet coke. Junk food was bad for him but he was celebrating after all.
“I like Reiko, though, she’s a total queen bitch. Who knew that Ken had it in him?”
Mamoru murmured a mild protest. Nagi switched to speakerphone while he helped himself to pizza. “All right, yes, Kritiker’s intelligence isn’t that bad. But you still haven’t met her.”
Ken took Shige to the burger bar after football practice. It was their weekly routine. A reward to Shige for actually practising and the only time, generally, which they just spent with each other. Generally, Ken quite liked it.
This week was possibly the exception.
“Reiko’s very bossy,” Shige was observing, around a mouthful of burger. “But Kaoru isn’t and you’re not, really, so that’s sort of interesting.”
“If you say so.” Ken passed Shige a napkin to wipe ketchup from his fingers.
And Brad’s bossy too,” Shige added, assuming an air of naiveté which would never have fooled anyone.
“You do know where babies come from?”
With the house to themselves, Schwarz were picnicking on the rug in front of the fire. It was just like old times, except for the absence of Farfarello dismembering targets behind the sofa.
“Some of them come from a large vat in a Rosenkreuz facility,” Crawford reminded Schuldig scathingly.
“Very good, I correct myself. You know where other people’s babies come from?”
“Yes Schuldig.” Crawford leaned back against the sofa, sighing deeply. “I realise that Ken sleeps with women. I preferred them to stay out of sight.”
“In the past.” Nagi nodded sagely.
"What are you doing?” Ken asked, when Reiko stepped out of the house wearing one of his shirts and a pair of denim cutoffs.
“We’re building a den,” Reiko replied, brushing her hair behind her ears. “It’ll be fun. Remember that?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Ken muttered to himself. The boys had been collecting debris for days now and there had been lots of excited talk about pirates and tree houses.
Ken leaned on his workbench, watching until they’d all disappeared into the forest. Reiko was fun when she wanted to be. But she never wanted to stick around.