Synopsis: Working Title – Cold Ghost Joel was just a regular ol’ park ranger, minding his own business when Yukihiro burst through a window and into his life. Now, he’s trapped in a web of deceit and danger that goes beyond ‘hilarious misunderstanding’ and driven straight to ‘mortal peril’. Will Joel survive the adventure? Will Yukihiro ever explain what it’s all about? Or will everyone just be eaten alive by bears?

 

Previous Chapter: Chapter 1: Hot Gossip

Index

Next Chapter: Chapter 3: Don’t Dream It’s Over

Chapter 2: fake star

Chapter 2: fake star

“Attention all passengers on Air Canada flight AC4731 to Toronto, your flight has arrived and is currently being prepared. There will be a short delay to allow for disembarkation and clean up. If all passengers requiring assistance and all passengers with small children could please make their way to Gate 5A, our crew will…”

How much longer did he have to wait? It was bad enough he’d had to ditch that first flight out of Hawaii, but he only had limited cash on him and he hadn’t wanted to start using his fake cards until he was another few thousand miles away from Japan. Probably couldn’t afford yet another last minute flight to somewhere far away if things got tight, he’d have to skip off some place local and reach the meeting point via slower means.

Yukihiro flicked through the U.S. Financial Times as he waited on boarding to open for the Toronto flight, drumming his fingers on top of the carry on duffel bag that sat on the chair next to him. To glance at in a busy airport, he was like a nondescript young wage slave on a business trip, with dark hair and a plain dark suit and white shirt. Only his hair was a tad long for most self-respecting pay scale climbers and not arranged and combed back carefully, and his eyes were a light brown. His shirt had no tie, and had not one but several buttons undone at the neck. People looking at a glance would only see someone tired-out and frustrated by flight delays like all the other waiting passengers.

Yukihiro was hoping no one saw an idiot on the lam hiding out in the open, like a guy hiding under a tree in order to avoid lightning storm.

Luckily for him, he was stuck in O’Hare Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world and a pretty good place to get lost in, at least for a few hours. And if he was very lucky, the false paper trail would make it look like he’d run off to Rio to live the good life, and no-one would think to try for any pseudonyms. If he was very, very lucky, they never would and he would spend the rest of his days until his meeting in a magical palace by the sea doing fuck all but enjoying good food and reading trashy over-sexed romance novels. In that same world, he probably also owned a Pegasus called Feathers who did battle with Gamera, but that would still be a pretty sweet world to be able to inhabit.

He could do with a Pegasus right now; it would have saved an awful lot of money in fake IDs and plane tickets. He’d probably have ended up spending the same amount of money in keeping the creature properly fed…

There were financial crises, hostile take-overs and the price of fish had gone up yet again. Hmm, there was nothing very interesting in this newspaper for him to read. It was all very important news to be sure, but Yukihiro was finding it hard to even pretend to be engrossed by the depressing news round-up. It did not help that he had spent the past seventy two hours living off of energy drinks and junk food on the quick; it made it difficult to stay sharp and focused. He needed to be on the lookout, but not to be seen as too edgy or too wary; he could not be seen as standing out by trying too hard to conceal himself.

This was getting very complicated.

Yukihiro stretched out his arms above his head and glanced around himself; there were mostly tired holiday makers with fractious screeching children who should have been in their bed hours ago, people impatient to get home for the holidays. The tension created by sheer boredom was building up highly. He hated these kinds of places – the noise, the smell of too strong coffee, the chill of over-active air conditioners. It felt like a more pampered holding cell for cows about to go to a slaughter house.

Trying to keep himself awake, he tried to recount his steps. Getting to Narita had not been too bad, and his old friend in Immigration had been very accommodating. The real bitch had been Hawaii; it had been bloody farcical, like an old-time comedy sketch.

He’d forgotten that Yoshida’s half-brother, Eddie the Barracuda owned a lot of the dodgy businesses on the island and had an illegal shipping operation that worked out of the main airport. The Barracuda didn’t have any big weigh on domestic matters of the Yoshida family, but he was known throughout Kabukichō as a violent man. Yukihiro had known it would only be a matter of time before news broke out of his ‘late night departure’, and The Barracuda certainly did not begrudge his older brother a favour here and there. He’d nearly walked slap bang into some domestic liaisons that were out in Hawaii working for the Barracuda as a courtesy, and spent the entire day dancing around them. He had had to switch flights at the very last minute, and then hide out from the Yoshida goons in a disabled bathroom for two hours. If they’d recognised him, he would have been dead there and then.

Rather than get on the swish first class seat to LAX, he’d ended up in steerage on a flight to Seattle. Then in Seattle, weather conditions had screwed him over royally, and then the wing of the damn plane fell off. They’d had to wait on a replacement plane being found, or Flappy getting repaired.

And so now he waited on a flight to Toronto, which would take him out of the U.S. for a while and hopefully very far away from Yoshida or The Barracuda, where the long reach of the Clans would not be able to touch him. Most foreign links for the Clans were based on the west coast of the U.S., or in cities like Hong Kong, London or Taipei. No-one would think to look for him in a country mostly famous for winter sports and comedians that most people didn’t realise weren’t U.S Americans. It wouldn’t be as cosmopolitan as  Tokyo or Hong Kong, but he’d at least have some breathing space for a while.

“This is an announcement for Air Canada Flight AC4731 for Toronto. We would like to thank our passengers for their co-operation and patience. If the passengers holding tickets for rows twenty through to forty could please make their way to the boarding gate, we will be checking your tickets and seating you very shortly. I repeat, if passengers for…”

That sounded like it was time then – Yukihiro took his time folding his newspaper back up, and tucking it under his arm before slinging his bag across his shoulder. He was anxious to get onto the plane and into the air as quickly as possible, but it would foolish to attract attention now. He’d come so far, and it was barely days to go until he spoke with Gao Liu.

“’Scuse me. Excuse me, Sir?”

No guarantee that it was him they were talking to. They didn’t specify a name. Just dust down your jacket, keep moving, don’t stop, but don’t pick up your pace either. Do not attract attention, whatever happens.

“Sir, please wait!”

Keep walking – doesn’t matter. Can’t be important, just stay calm; be cool. He’d managed this for nigh on over seventy-two hours; he could manage it a little bit more. Then a hand reached out, touched his shoulder. It took a lot of forced calm and self-control not to slip into automatic pilot and wrench the wrist, snap the elbow and then elbow the kidney. Slowly, he stopped and then glanced back. It was an airport attendant, he had a piece of paper in his hand, must be a page of some kind, oh fuck had the Barracuda found him, he was going to hand him over to Yoshida, the entire jig was up now, fuck fuck fuck fuck-

“Are you, err… Mr Yamamoto of Ikari Heavy Industries? There’s a call waiting for you from Mr Marks of Spencers Robotics. He says it’s urgent.”

Oh thank fuck for that, they weren’t looking for him; they didn’t even have any of his aliases. It took a lot of strength not to hyperventilate or weep from joy. Instead, he just smiled slightly and shook his head, stepping away from the hand on his shoulder.

“I am sorry, no; you must have the wrong person. If you would excuse me, I need to get on this flight…”

He kept walking, but gave the confused steward a little wave as he did so. Poor git deserved that much anyways. His walking speed picked up greatly, and he power walked over to the queue waiting to get on the flight, holding on all the more tightly to his sports bag.

Alright, it would be alright. He only had to hold it together for a few more hours until he got over the border and into Canadian territory where Yoshida could not reach him. Then he could rendezvous with Gao Liu in a few days, they’d settle over the item and then he would be done.

Only thing was, he’d have to stay out of trouble and sight for those few days. He hoped that that worst of his journey was over for now. Although if hope did not work, bullets could be a pretty good substitute.

Previous Chapter: Chapter 1: Hot Gossip

Index

Next Chapter: Chapter 3: Don’t Dream It’s Over

 


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