By Max Fauth and and Bernardo Sanguinetti

This takes place in the last week of January, 2034

The next day, Jeremy waited by the entrance to Reiko's school as the school finished. He watched the students emerged, leaning on his rented car. He was wearing a loose, casual suit and a fine new cologne. Soon enough he saw Reiko emerge, last of all the students. She glanced around as she left the school gates, and spotted him straight away. She walked up to him and bowed.

He smiled and bowed to her in response. "Hello, how was your day?"

"Very good, sir. The class was glad to have their usual teacher back."

"Why?" He laughed a bit

"Because the work wasn't so hard," she replied, smiling.

"Ahh well, I tried to do my best." He opened the door of his car to pick a folder and hand to her. "Here you are"

"Thank you, sir," she said, accepting the folder. She opened it up and skimmed through the pages.

"Well, you will prove to yourself you are a genius." He smiled

"I doubt that, sir." She looked up again and added "When do you want the answers?"

"When you want to give it back to me. My phone number is on the last page"

She nodded. "It may be a while, though. It looks tough."

"Well, I was going to have lunch now. Would you like to go with me?"

"That would be nice sir. Thank you."

"Please." He opened the door of the car for her, waited for her to get inside and closed it. She had suggested a nice restaurant that was not far from her school, so he followed her instructions.

They drove in silence for a few minutes, before Reiko abruptly turned to him. "I thought about that question you asked me, sir."

"Which one?" He turned to her.

"About changing my life."

"And what conclusion did you reach?"

"I think it would be hard to explain, sir."

"Please try"

"Hmm... Sir, did you grow up in a corporate household?"

He almost told her the truth about him but managed to keep silent and only smile at her question. "No, why?"

She ignored his question for the moment, and asked him another. "And how did you decide what to do with your life?"

"I followed my instinct, my aptitudes I think"

She nodded quietly. "Then that is what I would like to change, sir."

"That is very interesting. Do you know how to start?"

She shook her head. "I feel it is too late anyway, sir."

"Well, it is never late, I only decided what to do with my life after I graduated"

She smiled and shook her head. "It's my birthday this weekend, sir."

"Oh, congratulations." He smiled. "I hope I can see you then"

She nodded. "My parents are holding a celebration... of sorts." She pulled a slip of card from her bag, and handed it to him.

"Thank you. I would open it now if I wasn't driving. I believe it is going to be very formal isn't it?"

She nodded. "I think you'll understand better after the celebration."

"Well I promise I'll try, since it is hard."

"Harder than any problem you've given me," she replied, and her smile slowly faded.

"Don't you consider this a challenge?"

She slowly shook her head. "A challenge can be defeated. A contest can be won. This is neither."

"And what is this?"

"I feel that it is like theft... As if something's being taken from me, and I cannot do anything about it."

"You always can do something, believe me."

She smiled again. "It would be nice to believe so."

"And why don't you believe?"

"I think you'll understand after the celebration. You'll get a chance to meet my parents there."

"I hope I can meet them, they seem to be very busy"

"They're making time for this. Please, do come."

"Of course I will." He smiled. "Have you told them about what present you want?"

"They already have something for me."

"And you know what it is?"

She shook her head. "Not yet."

"Surprises are very good." He started to park the car.

She stretched out her arms and said "Then surprise me!"

He laughed a bit and moved out of the car to open the door for her.

She bowed slightly to him as she exited. "Come on," she said, holding onto his arm. "You order for me."

"Humm, sure." He held her arm and entered inside the restaurant asking for a table for two. Arriving on the table, he pulled the chair for her.

"Thank you, sir," she said as she took her seat.

"Well, what you would like to drink?"

"Anything," she replied. "Anything at all."

"Okay." He smiled and ordered two juices for them and an appetizer.

"You'll find my parents fascinating people. Quite unlike you."

"Why unlike me?" he asked quite curious looking at her eyes.

She gazed back at him. "They are so stiff and formal, really."

"Well, it is hard to be formal all the time. If they do this, well, I appreciate it."

"But everyone should relax from time to time. They might have their own way to relax, playing sports or something like that."

"You're right, I'm sorry."

"Nah, no need to be sorry. I never even knew what my parents did in their free time."

Reiko simply nodded.

"Well, what do you think about eating shrimp?"

"I think it's quite tasty."

"Excellent." He smiled as he called the waiter to make the order of the main dish, watched him leave and turned back to her. "What is your favorite food Reiko?"

"I'm partial to seafood, but it's not my favorite. Hmm..." She trailed off, pondering the question.

"Well, don't be afraid of telling me your favorite food"

"I'm just trying to decide." She smiled again. "I can't claim to be starved for examples, certainly."

He laughed. "Well, do you like chocolate?"

"Doesn't everyone?" She replied, laughing.

"There are some crazy people that don't. You seem to be able to eat dozens of chocolates at once." He laughed a bit.

She tried to stop laughing, and turned red with embarrassment. "I have, once or twice," she confessed quietly.

He tried to contain his own laugh and drank a bit of his juice. "I am getting hungry, very hungry."

"Just talking about chocolate does that. But..." She looked up, thinking for a second. "Rice. Plain, boiled rice."

"Is this your favorite food?"

She nodded. "People often overlook the simple things."

"Yeah, why?" She shrugged. "One day we will understand." He smiled as he watched the waiter come with the food.

"What do we have?" She asked, peering at the plate.

"As my father used to say, don't see, taste," He said while preparing to eat.

"Well then," She said, and took a bite.

He just watched her eat. "Like it?"

She gave a brief hum of delight, then said, "It's very nice. Thank you."

"Glad that you liked." He smiled, and kept eating.

From this point both kept eating in silence with Jeremy just gazing at her from time to time and made sure she noticed that. She eventually shied away from his gaze, smiling all the while. "You're embarrassing me," she said softly.

"Sorry." He looked somewhere else thinking how cute she was. He was getting afraid of falling in love with her but hopefully it would never happen.

"I..." She looked back up at him nervously, then began again. "I'm afraid I'm going to be busy all this week. I probably won't be able to see you until the celebration."

"Oh, I understand". He sighed. "Unfortunately there is nothing I can do"

"But I would like to see you again afterwards," she said, blushing some more.

"Me too, on your party we will see each other"

She nodded. "I hope so."

"Do you like dancing?"

She shook her head. "I've never tried, I'm sorry."

"Ohh, come on, not even on your 15th year old party?" Again, she shook her head. "Would you like to try?"

She shied away from him once more, flushing red. "I'd be terrible, I'm sorry."

"I am not good too, so?" He raised an eye brown asking her once again.

"It would be so embarrassing..."


"We'd be stumbling around... If people were watching us..." She trailed off.

"And what is the problem in being watched?"

She glanced up at him, and looked away again. "I just don't want to show myself off. I prefer it when it's quiet and I'm alone."

"Okay, I understand." He kept eating his food slowly.

"I'm sorry."

"I understand you. Want another juice?"

She nodded. "Thank you, sir."

He called the waiter and ordered a juice for her. "Do you know a good place for desert or here they serve a nice one?"

"I do, sir. There's a... Well," She smiled. "It's rather indulgent..."

"Come on, say it" he said smiling

"It's called..." She laughed nervously, "'Death by Chocolate.'"

"Humm, the name is suggestive" he laughed.

"I don't often go there, but when I do... Well..."

"What happens?" He asked curiously

She rubbed her hands with glee. "You've got to start with their Chocolate indulgence, sir. It's a few scoops of chocolate ice cream, topped with this beautiful, rich chocolate fudge."

"You seem to be fanatic for that place." He laughed a bit

"It's my one indulgence, sir."

"Okay, we are going there after here."

She smiled broadly. "I know you'll just love it!"

"Yeah, I will," he said finishing his meal. He waited for her patiently as she finished, and called for the waiter to bring the bill. "Is this place far?"

She shook her head. "It's a short walk away."

"Ah, excellent." He smiled as he handed the waiter his credit card. She waited for him to finish up the transaction. The waiter handed him the credit card back and thanked them for coming. Jeremy turned to Reiko. "Shall we go?"

She nodded, and stood with him. "I'll show you where it is, sir."

"Not sir." He walked with her, at her side

"I'm sorry, Brian."

"Good, better this way." He smiled.

She smiled, and leaned close to him, holding onto his arm as they walked. He held her close to him, happy that his plan was working.

"Brian?" She asked.


"How long will you be in Tokyo for?

"I don't know, as long as they keep me here. Why?"

She shrugged. "Just wanted to know."

"Okay." He looked ahead and asked her, "Is that the place?"

"There it is," she replied, smiling broadly. "I'll order for you, okay?"

"Sure" he said opening the door for her as they arrived.

She nodded to a booth and said "Sit down. I'll go to the counter."

"Okay." He sat down on a table for two. She briefly ordered at the counter, then made her way to the booth. "What did you order?"

"You are getting the Chocolate Indulgence I told you about. I ordered a 'Casa Blanca,' which is flakes of white chocolate and vanilla ice cream."

"Ah... hmm, I hope I can eat all of it" he laughed.

"If you can't... Well," She grinned broadly.

"It's yours," he replied and laughed a bit more. Again, she rubbed her hands in delight. "Come on, are they going to be long?"

"Not at all. Should be just a minute or two."

"I can't wait to taste it." He smiled. She smiled to herself and stretched her arms. "And by your expression you too can't wait"

She giggled briefly, and nodded. "I've never brought anyone else here, you know."


She immediately looked down. "I um... I don't really have many friends, sir. In fact..."

"Well, it can't be hard for you to make friends." She went quiet, looking down at the table.

At that time, a waiter arrived at the table. "Here ya go!" he announced loudly. He placed a large bowl, containing mounds of chocolate ice cream, fudge and butterscotch sauce in front of Jeremy. "One choc indulgence," he said, then turned to Reiko and continued, "And one Casa Blanca." Hers was a much more delicate looking treat, with curled flakes of white chocolate scattered over scoops of ice cream and a waffle.

"It seems delicious." He picked his spoon.

"It is," she replied. "I always feel better when I come here." She picked up her spoon and tucked into her dessert.

He started to eat his dessert after her. "Hmm, really good."

She smiled warmly. "I doubt anyone could turn this place down."

"Unless he is insane." He smiled.

"Well, who doesn't like chocolate?"

"No idea. Nobody I guess." She chuckled to herself and continued eating. He kept eating quickly. It was a really good dessert.

And all too soon, they were done. Reiko put down her spoon and stifled a small belch, flushing red with embarrassment.

"Wow, I guess I won't even have dinner."

"Excuse me," she said softly, holding her hand in front of her mouth and trying hard not to giggle.

He called the waiter and asked for the bill.

"I'll pay for you, sir."

"No way," he said smiling, almost laughing.

"I insist, sir."

"No, please, I invited you to have lunch and dessert so I am paying."

"But I dragged you to this place, sir. I should pick it up."

"No" he smiled, "I won't let you pay"

"You pay for everything else, sir. Besides," she added, smiling, "It's not like I'm a poor girl."

"Well, I know but it is somewhat of a gentleman's act."

She chuckled to herself. "Sir, this *is* the twenty-first century, you know."

"Bah, but there are some manners that are still nice to be followed"

"But not this time," she replied. She watched the waiter closely as he approached with the bill.

He quickly picked his wallet to pay, not giving her time to even draw her money.

As the waiter departed, she blew a raspberry at Brian.

He only laughed. "Well, maybe next time ok?"

She slumped back into her seat and sat quietly without responding.

"Ahh, come on, don't be angry" he smiled.

"It's not that sir, it's..." She trailed off and shook her head.


"There may not be a next time, sir."

"Well, there will be a next time." He smiled and stood up, "Let's go"

She nodded. "Sure," she added and stood with him.

"Are you in a hurry?"

"I should be going soon, I'm afraid."

"Oh, I can take you home if you want?"

"I would like that, sir."

"Okay. Oh and before I forget, is there any problem in bringing my sister to your party?"

She shook her head. "Not at all, sir. I would be glad if you did."

"Excellent. You will like her. She is very nice." She nodded quietly. "Her name is Vivian, she is here on holidays. Damn lucky."

"While you have to work," she said, chuckling to herself.

"Yeah, life is not fair." He laughed.

Again, she suddenly fell quiet.

"Well, why did you suddenly fall quiet?"

"It's true, sir," she said quietly.

"Ahh, try to see the good in everything."

Jeremy stood up and helped her, pulling the chair for her. "Well, I better take you home then" he smiled and offered her his arm, which she gladly accepted.

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