Description: One meeting was planned. And yet... it's interesting, how quickly a plan can change.Now, the Pacific High student is meeting a whole new contact. And this one is only concerned with what a boy does when put between a rock and a hard place.
He'd had not a wink of sleep. First he'd risked life and lovely limbs serving as a lookout for Raiza and then then there'd been all that running away. Not to mention the hiding! Staying crouched in a small space for a long period is not comfortable, especially when you're six feet three inches tall. Still, he'd survived it, like the brave little schoolboy he was.
Arriving back in his dorm room, he'd taken care to be stealthy, so as not to wake the sleeping roomate named Ryan. He of the imaginary mental health crisis, though sometimes the dark haired British boy's gaze was just a little too on the intense side, so you never know. He's lying on his back with his mouth open, letting out occasional little snores, so it seems safe to say that he's soundly sleeping. Exhaling, Rafferty sits down on the edge of his bed and finally prises his fingers open. He's been holding them in position so firmly since he took control of the USB that it takes some effort to straighten them and there's a dull ache in his knuckles. Wiping the plastic device clean of his sticky sweat he peers at it curiously. How could a little thing like this be worth all this drama?
Despite its obvious importance, he is not tempted to try and view the files held on it. It doesn't enter his pretty little head that they are probably encrypted anyway, he just wants to operate on a need to know basis and there's some things he is glad he doesn't need to know. His adventure is not quite over yet though. There's the promise he made Raiza.
Taking out the plain white envelope from the pocket of his tracksuit top he opens it, starting to digest the contents inside.
The instructions on the folded-up piece of paper seem simple enough. They don't include any street names - probably in case they fall into the wrong hands - just landmarks and basic directives.
They also omit any sense of distance.
Or where they lead.
On the bright side, three hours later, Rafferty would discover the majesty of a sunrise view from a Japanese mountainside.
On the less bright side, by that time, he'd also be wishing he'd brought a winter coat, or snow boots. Such are the trials of the less-than-adventurous Californian fashion icon-to-be.
Soon he would become lost in snowed-over forest paths, and as the cold, hunger, and exhaustion start to creep in, Rafferty would eventually rise to the challenge of his quest by doing what he does best:
When he wakes up, he's greeted by the sight of a familiar set of eyes glaring down at him from behind a mask.
"Damn. Looks like he's alive after all."
As his own piercing blue eyes open, his long dark lashes flutter whilst he comes face to face with his fiendish foe, the one who tried to kill him!
A startled scream escapes his lips, which are worryingly feeling on the dry side. Where's his Vanilla Honey ChapStick? Starting to panic he pats at his pants pocket but alas, there is no sign of the tiny tube.
"I've lost it" he sighs sulkily then suspiciously asks the dark haired boy looming over him "Did you steal my ChapStick?"
"Hisashi-kun~ Stop tormenting the poor boy! And give him back his ChapStick!"
Hisashi is hip-checked out of frame by a second familiar figure: Hiroko-sama.
Or, as Rafferty remembers the short, elderly firecracker, Raiza's tennis coach (?), currently dressed in a fur-lined robe.
"It could be a recording device," Hisashi protests. "Or a tracker."
"Don't be paranoid, Hisashi-kun. This young man is far too sweet and delicate of a flower for such skullduggery," Hiroko-sama chides Hisashi.
"And how many men would have said the same about you, back in the day?"
The third voice that comes from behind the pair of Edo ninja has an aged and rich quality to it.
The delight on Hiroko-sama's face is evident -
"Oh, Masayoshi-sama~" - for about three seconds.
"What do you MEAN, back in the day?!"
A sudden roundhouse slap is narrowly ducked by the bald, white-bearded ninja master as he's revealed by the motion. The pair exchange a lightning-fast series of strikes and deflections until both Master Masayoshi and Mistress Hiroko backflip away from each other to land in ninja stances.
"I only meant that some of us know better now, Hiroko-chan," Masayoshi says with a subtle wink.
"Oh, don't make me blush in front of our guest, Masayoshi-sama," Hiroko says, palms pressing shyly to her cheeks as she swoons.
"Don't you mean prisoner?" Hisashi says gruffly.
"Our ally," Masayoshi corrects, folding his arms behind his back and approaching the blond boy. He's dressed in a set of ninja armour, though he wears no mask or helmet. "Greetings, Rafferty-san. I believe that this is what Raiza entrusted you with?"
Bringing a hand around, he holds up the USB stick that Rafferty had been carrying with him.
Stifling a yawn, the blond boy takes a glance at the time on his newly purchased iPhone. The recent retail therapy thrill still lingers and he takes a moment to admire the curves and contours of its casing. He made sure to arrive for his meeting at the mall early so he'd have time to replace his fractured phone and grab a frothy coffee at a chic cafe whilst he set the cell up. Since doing so he's already posted seven new selfies.
He's changed out of his earlier attire into a pair of slim fitting Blue Blue Japan jeans which he's teamed with a cream ribbed sweater, a brown suede bomber jacket and a pair of brown nubuck loafers. A scent that is both spicy and woody surrounds him. He's just about got the feeling back in his extremities and his pale skin has lost the blue tinge brought about by his brief jaunt in the mountains. It had been good to see Hiroko the tennis coach again, less so the angry young man that is Hisashi.
The model scans the faces of those who pass him by. A group of Pacific High girls throw some smiles and waves in his direction and he returns in kind, but it's not their youthful faces he's seeking. He's looking for a man named Hideo Shimazu.
According to Nena, his contact is a forty three year old teacher at Justice High. Rafferty doesn't know too much about the school, though he did have an encounter with one of their students named Kishimoto. He was a handsome sort and had even challenged Rafferty to a battle of perfect skin! The Pacific pupil had upped his already extensive skin care regime in preparation, but alas he hadn't crossed paths with the other boy again. Still, his pores were in premium condition so it wasn't totally in vain!
The photograph he's seen of the professor showed a plainly attired bespectacled man. There's several shoppers who bare a passing resemblance but none of them are quite right. He continues to wait...
The company was, as always, quite exacting in their requisitions.
Unfortunately for the times, less so for his tastes, he rarely dealt in meetings. The sharp charactered exchanges and briefings in dark boardrooms and production-floor interviews were left on the wayside. That was the sort of thing he reserved for his trusted subordinates, which were fleeting and few. Oh, there were a few flashier agents who still cared to put a face to the orders, but he'd made his career being a little less overt. The executive communicates with the board as he'd always had; 'an e-mail will suffice.'
In this case, the adventure prior was a relatively sterile list of names he could digest on a company issued tablet over his morning coffee.
And then, here.
You know, it never did require anything so fancy as a fingersnap. Just an app loaded on a phone to send a signal off into the airwaves. Enough so that just a tap on his smartwatch will do. There was something theatric about it enough, though. People in the mall stop where they're walking as their favorite apps crash or hang, depending on how graceful they are with the sudden cessation of their code. Bars go to one, then zero, then an exclamation mark. It's really not all they're doing with the networks, to be frankly honest, but it's enough for the moment.
The man whom strides up to the young Pacific High blonde is exact-to-the-hair opposite of the grizzled salaryman Rafferty was told to expect. Tall, slender to a dangerous extent, and dressed in the exquisite cut of a business suit that would have been considered expensive if it were sold used three years in. The long-haired man with the sharp-angled face has a disposition that does not really speak to an overture of aggression, but of a coalescing disarmament that is, were one to focus on it overmuch ... deeply penetrative.
He never greets Rafferty, at least not officially, as he adjusts his slacks to better sit by the boy, a sigh slipping loose of his chest long and slow as he does. He busies himself for a moment, smoothing the wrinkles from his slacks with the backsides of gloved hands before they become untoward, his eyes partially hidden behind dark glasses as he goes on with the ritual, as if it were only expected. And instead of a formal greeting, he breaks the tension with an explanation, delicately but firmly placed.
"You should probably clear your appointment book. Shimazu-san isn't coming, regrettably, though I am sure he sends his regards."
As Rafferty waits he amuses himself with scrolling through social media. Nothing too unusual for one his age, but he's more commited than most. The likes are starting to come in for his most recent selfies and he's about to hit a flirty reply to a flattering comment when...
The look that appears on his smooth skinned face is one of confusion. Why is his phone lagging so bad? He's just bought a brand new one and the signal is always fantastic here. He makes an attempt to switch to the network of the cafe, but that's a no go too. What the fudge?
He looks up from his screen, seeking comfort or explanation in the faces of those around him but he finds neither. Their expressions mirror his own and several of the more determined souls are repeatedly hitting refresh in the hope that the outcome will be different. There's a hint of hysteria brewing.
So caught up in the network nightmare is he that it takes a while for Rafferty to register the man's presence. When he does, he looks at him with admiration. The boy is an aesthete. He appreciates the angles of his new companion's face, the long locks and the way the expensive fabric of his suit hangs from his fashionably thin frame. He looks like a somebody, but the platinum tressed Pacific student can't seem to place him.
"Have you been in a movie?" he wonders, blue eyed gaze attempting to break through the dark lens of his shades.
But then the mesmerising man speaks and things become a little more clear.
"Oh, you've come to bring me a message" he responds, nodding his head.
"Are you his stand in or something then? You don't really look like a teacher. As for my appointment book, I'm all good for this afternoon, because I knew I was coming here, but I've got a job on tomorrow!"
The appreciation is not returned. Or really, if it is, it's exquisitely hard to tell. The man sitting at length from him is not one particularly given to bouts of sudden expression -- the type well disposed towards a betting man's card game, nigh unreadable beyond a peerless disposition that finds its way into everything, up to and including when he's mistaken for being in a movie.
Though the executive does not move overmuch, one glove's fingers interlacing with the other loosely over his lap, there is a supernatural aura about him that slowly permeates, something beyond the clean and unobtrusive water scent that slithers betwixt the boy's comparably heavier spice. Barely recognizable, it's something that folds in over the heartbeat, the affair of a fist laid on the soul, as if every heartbeat in the mall were the same except yours. It's the sort of thing that cannot be put to words, and is not caused by any noticeable tremor or vagary produced by the man in the suit, because he provides none.
So still and calm is he, that the slightest curious incline of his head can be taken as an answer, lines of sheened black hair looping low with the movement, until his shades catch the overhead lights in relation to Rafferty's searching, foiling the attempt with such timing that it could be accused of being purposeful were it not for the nonchalance he takes with the boy.
"No," he replies simply.
As he leans, the slack in the cuff of his wrist betrays him; the very edge of his smartwatch can be seen, a gleaming black glass thing with an otherwise nondescript casing. If you look, just closely enough, you can see the stylized tactical 'U' logo of an influential technology company in dim repose just behind the glass watchface. It's one of those details that is present only now, and only for a moment. As to whether or not it is purposeful....
"Shimazu-san had other business to which he must attend... but I'm not here for his sake, regrettably. I'm here for you. It turns out, you're a very important person to the people I represent. And not even for one reason, either. Mmn."
The executive takes a moment after the thought is presented aloud, looking up and across the mall. If you take it for the minutes that have passed already, the immediate area's crowd is starting to thin out of people -- a natural side effect of having no signal in a specific area. In today's cellular world, it almost guarantees everyone else is going to be paying attention to something else. It's enough, at any rate, to assure that they're not overheard.
The executive doesn't look back to the boy, appearing for all the while as an unconnected bystander looking over the crowd. "You're not going to make that appointment, though I'm sure an effort will be made to cancel for you."
One finger is finally raised, as if to quell any thought of being indiscreet.
"Now," the as-yet-unnamed man continues smoothly, "I'm told you would prefer being gently handled, for the sake of your aspiring career. And.. I'm not opposed to doing things simply. But, you will have to come with me of your own volition. Is that understood?"
Rafferty feels somewhat woozy. Maybe it's the delayed effects of being at a high altitude, but he swears things are starting to swish and sway including the supernaturally still and smooth speaking man next to him. He reaches a hand out in front of his own face, staring at it and then resting it back on his denim clad thigh.
"Got it, not in a movie. Maybe I've seen you at..."
Where the male model may or may not have seen Magi isn't spoken since he becomes distracted by the device on his wrist. There's something about that logo on it that seems familiar, but before he has chance to gather his thoughts, it's out of sight again.
"You're here for me?" he questions, his tone one of curiosity. His body language betrays his pride at being referred to as important, but he at least makes an attempt to keep his cool.
"If you want to hire me, then you are supposed to go through Masako, my agent. I can get you her number if you like."
He starts to reach into his wallet, continuing his chatter.
"I guess you've heard I'm both a model and an actor. I've not got a lot of experience with the latter, but I'm gonna be a big star one day. Even Johnny Cage said I can be in a movie with him."
He barely even registers that the patrons of the mall have moved on. Even the sight of an arguing couple fails to attract his attention.
As they dissapear in a sea of angry exchanges, things become strangely silent other than the words spoken by the eerie executive.
"No, you see that would be unprofessional" he protests. "If you start to let people down, then they may hesitate to hire you next time. I have an immaculate record for such things. I'm a consummate professional."
He opens his mouth to continue stating his case but something about the older male's demeanor stops him in his tracks.
"Why are you going to handle me at all?" he asks in wide eyed wonder.
"This isn't a pick up is it? I know some models are available for that kind of work, but I'm not one of them."
He starts to get to his feet, but whether it's to make an attempt to flee or follow the stylish stranger is unclear.
"Let me stop you, there."
The executive leans over, the affair of an inch or two, as his hands rest back on his lap. He doesn't speak again for moments after that, doesn't move. He is engaging, in a fine way, but there is a certain tone to the method in itself that would be sorely lacking in anyone else in the moment -- his size, his build, his demeanor. It's something in the way he looks at Rafferty, something in his scent, something about him, specifically, that impresses upon the time the gravity of the moment itself. The beat itself is the well to fall into, the rhythm of the thing.
"It behooves you not to take things unseriously," the long-haired man continues, in some delicacy. "Luckily, I like to take people at their word. I find it's better to start from a position of mutual cooperation. I'm sure we're not going to have to pursue alternative means. Still. I'm sure even you recognize an absurd assumption when it's posited."
Yes, the slender executive is not here to pick Rafferty up. Though his eyes don't miss much -- that the youth is reaching in his wallet is one of many details the older man is aware of, but he doesn't follow the model when he starts to stand. In fact, he doesn't do anything more than glance at him with the faintest annoyance. The ghost of a raised eyebrow. The breath of a sigh checked. His disappointment is muted everywhere but in the air, damnably, intoxicatingly so. It might as well be a censure in and of itself.
Unerring, the command. As if to belabor the point, the executive slides his hands down his legs, until his wrists are relaxed, gloves between his knees. Candidly, he continues. "But when you leave here, it's going to be with me, in one form or another. This isn't the type of situation where a refusal, however polite, is going to work out well for you. Please keep in mind that I'm fully authorized by my employer to break every bone in your body if you don't cooperate, however drastic the measure may seem."
Honestly, he doesn't look like much, but glancing at the elaborately dressed older man, it's not hard to see that though his suit probably costs more than what most salarymen could make in a whole year, his gloves are noticeably worn, even while otherwise appearing new.
"I ... appreciate it's going to take a moment for you to process this," the nameless suit admits. "And that's fine. You're allowed. You can take a moment to think it over, if you like. But you only get to go in one direction when you stand. And that direction is: The one I tell you. I hope I'm making myself abundantly clear."
Maybe it's the the commanding presence of the man, maybe it's the mention of broken bones. Whatever the reason, Rafferty finds himself rising to his feet, his blue eyes locked on the expensively attired executive at all times. A simple nod of the head and he's ready to do the man's will, satisfied that he won't be used as a sex slave, but uncertain as to what his fate will be.
As the incessant beat seems to vibrate through his whole frame he fights to focus himself, taking care over each step he makes. All thoughts of the business card he sought in his wallet are abandoned now, the matters of modelling seeming less important than the matter in hand.
As instructed he is listening "Where are we going?" he wonders, silently hoping it's to a fancy restaurant or maybe even a bar. Somewhere deep inside though, right down in his gut he realises it's unlikely this is the case.
"So you are a professional, after all."
The man's formerly somber nature winnows to a point of thin, muted satisfaction. He never emotes more thn the ghost of a smile; reservation is in his nature. Despite it, his excitement is palpable, that siren string of heartbeats levellling quickly as opened hands straighten and gesture slow -- the idea of a straight corridor is evoked, giving a shape to what he says next.
"It's refreshing when reason ... the thing itself ... prevails."
The executive stands to the occasion, letting himself feel the stretch as he moves to follow the younger model. As implied, he doesn't so much as lay a hand on the boy for as long as he doesn't run or try really anything untowards. "Now, as you may have guessed before you even asked, I have limited liberties. Among them is where you're going. What may or may not be obvious to you is that certain elements of your investigation are pursuant to and infringing of the protected trademarks and processes of a trade secret classified by my employer. To that end, I am under a discretion agreement."
But then, the unintroduced man leans over, long strands of his black hair shifting and gathering in curves off his shoulder with the motion.
"But since you've decided to cooperate, I'll give you a little hint," he confides, secretly.
As he does so, he opens a hand, indicating a grouping of black cars idling in the distance, just on the outskirts of the mall grounds. That's where they're going -- the immediate -- though he softens the cynical edge of his timing mercifully, after only a beat. "We're going to go somewhere extremely comfortable," he assures.
"Where ideas have real, true value."
"I mostly don't want my bones broken" the boy admits, pushing back a stray strand of hair. Despite the potential for peril, he can't help but smile as he senses the executive's excitement, even though it may be at his own expense.
He begins to look baffled though as the dark haired man divulges some information, his pretty face contorting with confusion.
"Is this about the school thing? Do you know the fox lady?"
He's starting to wish he'd never agreed to help Raiza, even if she was his heroine.
"I like the sound of comfortable, but I'm also kinda creeped out."
His eyes shift to the direction of the black cars. "Because don't they use black cars at funerals? Although, I suppose dead people don't really need ideas any more, so you're probably not going to kill me."
Rafferty's ramblings are followed by a nervous laugh. "True value is good though. I like having valuable things, because you get what you pay for in my experience."
"I'm so glad we agree."
And his smile is such a slippery thing.
The model's conversation partner gathers his composures in the meantime. As Rafferty tries to make sense of what he says, the man seems mostly content to smooth out the wrinkles in his suit, though more out of a sense of fastidiousness more than any real need. "Though I'm certainly sure I've no idea what you're talking about....."
By the time he gets to pulling the hem of his jacket down straight over his frame, his appearance is mostly flawless. "You should cheer up. There are a lot of people who are having a lot worse time of it than you will, even as we speak. Maybe there's a shape to this that you can turn to your advantage, in the long run. I suspect it's just a 'one foot in front of the other' situation, asides. And besides..."
With a measured degree of that ruthless sort of helpfulness, the executive leans over Rafferty's shoulder, his incline almost imperceptible.
"You have to ask yourself," he continues discreetly, "...are you more curious about where you're going to end up if you go, or where you're going to end up if you don't go?"
"Come along, now. We've appointments to keep."
The platinum locked poser plods along behind his companion, his lips forming into a petulant pout.
"I'm not miserable" he protests. "I'll have you know I'm a very positive person. I even post inspirational quotes to my feed! It's just, you've got to admit this is a strange situation."
Nevertheless he lets his feet continue to follow, guiding him to wherever his fate may lie.
"I'm more curious about where we're going I suppose."
His striking gaze scans the suit as it's smoothed and he starts to mirror Magi, straightening his already perfectly in place suede jacket.
"Will we be travelling in one of those cars? I wanna get a car of my own soon. I'm thinking maybe a Chevrolet Corvette in Hypersonic Grey. What do you drive?"
..And it goes on like that.
Log created on 15:01:50 02/10/2022 by Magi, and last modified on 04:17:46 03/16/2022.