Tokyo Demons Book 3: Chapter 7, Part 2
A downloadable package of this chapter (.pdf, .epub, and .mobi) is available in the Sparkler Monthly Issue #034 back issue.
“Touya’s heart stopped when he got to T. Hospital…but the doctors resuscitated him. He’s unconscious in a patient room labeled ‘unidentified male.’”
Jo’s words rattled around Ayase’s brain, like a trapped coin in a sealed can. The frustration, the helplessness, the endlessly loud reminder made her teeth grind together in swelling fury.
She tried to tap out a text message on her phone, her body bobbing on Adam’s back as he ran through the subway station. With her arms draped over his shoulders, she wasn’t having much luck leaning over and bracing the phone against his chest.
It wasn’t until after he leapt through a closing train door that his body finally slowed to a stop. He dropped Ayase into an open chair, where she frantically typed the rest of her message.
“Did Mitsuko get back to you?” Jo gasped, panting and doubled over from running. He caught himself against a pole as the train swayed to a start.
“No. I’m trying Daniel-san now.” She grimaced. “I’m not sure the one I sent to Mitsuko-senpai got through on her end, if the reception’s that bad in T. Hospital…”
Sachi wiped sweat from his face and flipped open his phone. “I-I’ll try Hatsumi-san, since I think she was at the hospital with Nick. Kiyoshi, is your sister there?”
“Yeah, I’ll text her!”
Ayase could hear murmuring from the busy train around them; an old lady in the next seat shifted to be further away from Ayase’s aborted thigh. Ayase no longer cared if they drew attention, or even if a bystander called security on them. Adam could punch their way out of it. It wouldn’t stop them.
Nothing would stop them now.
She glanced quickly out the window, at the waves of dark tunnel that streaked past the glass. With the Core/Yakuza gunfights causing traffic and police barricades aboveground, she hoped Jo was right–and the underground subway would get them closest.
She pressed send, her eyes fixing on the single bar of reception she had in the tunnel. A little progress bar popped up, filling with agonizing slowness.
Ayase wished, yet again, that Shouri could be the one sending messages from her hiding place back in S. Hospital. But with the stakes so high, the woman needed to keep one hand on the gun Nakajima had lent her. Even if Fujito was tied up, Shouri couldn’t text without letting down her guard.
“Forty minutes,” Jo warned, checking his phone. “Until Touya wakes up and goes after the Pitch.”
Ayase grunted her frustration. “How exact can that be, anyway? If it’s just the doctors’ prediction of when he’ll wake up–”
“Forty minutes,” Jo repeated, his voice hard. “Trust me.”
Sachi’s brow furrowed as he adjusted Adam’s staff strapped to his back. “Your contact who saw that can’t tell us what room Touya’s in? So we can at least warn our friends?!”
“No. He’s trying to follow Touya to the Pitch–if Daniel or someone interferes, we might lose Touya’s trail.”
“He can’t follow Touya for another forty minutes, anyway–and we’ll be there by then!”
“That’s not…!” Jo trailed off, plowing a hand up his hair. “Look, I can’t possibly explain it to you, but trust me! Don’t mention Touya or the Pitch or any of that shit–just tell our freaking injured friends that attacks might be coming and they have to protect themselves!”
Sachi let an angry hiss out through his teeth as he tapped on his phone. He swayed too hard with the train and stumbled; Adam grabbed his arm to steady him.
Kiyoshi was silent, his face closed as he texted into his own mobile. Jo watched him for a moment, sweat dripping down his temple, then opened his own phone. He appeared to read something there for a few long seconds.
Ayase angrily dropped her gaze to the still-filling progress bar on her screen.
Beside her, the old woman on the chair checked her watch. The glass face caught the grayish light beaming from the ceiling of the subway car.
Thirty-nine minutes left.
The announcement came sooner than Jo had wanted–a “public safety” diversion mandated by the police. The subway would still leave them a few blocks short of the hospital, and probably dump them into the havoc of other corralled crowds.
Whatever–we’ll fucking take it.
The second those train doors opened, Adam shifted Ayase onto his back and burst out onto the crowded platform. Jo darted into the mass of confused civilians, ducking around nervous salarymen and crying children. He tripped over some junior high girl curled up in a panicked ball, her backpack jutting out to catch Jo’s shins.
A few loud bangs leaked in from aboveground, causing people to scream. The crowed shifted around Jo, surging back toward the train tracks as Jo tried to push in the opposite direction.
“Keep calm!” a policeman cried from a line of officers by the stairs. “You’re safe down here!”
Jo shoved his way past an office lady and wondered if his lab coat would get him through the cops. But it didn’t matter–Adam was already running toward an unmanned employee entrance, piggybacked Ayase bobbing over the heads of the crowd. Jo ran to follow.
The employee entrance was locked, but Jo picked it in less than a minute. Adam flew up the stairs, Sachi right behind, as Jo panted and stumbled up behind them.
He coughed hard, his lungs burning in his chest. He angrily swallowed saliva that still held a faint hint of tobacco.
Kiyoshi’s hand clamped over his forearm. “I’ve got you,” he murmured, his grip pulling up under Jo’s armpit so strongly that Jo’s heels lifted from the floor. Jo scrambled to keep up as Kiyoshi half-dragged him up the stairs.
“I-I’m okay,” Jo stuttered.
“We’re almost there.”
The evenness of Kiyoshi’s voice made Jo nervous again–a reminder of how quiet the guy had been since Fujito. Jo glanced over and saw that darkness still lurking behind Kiyoshi’s eyes.
Jo tripped. Kiyoshi caught him, but not before Jo’s knees and one hand scraped against the concrete stairs. Jo cursed and shook Kiyoshi off him.
“I…I can do this!” Jo insisted, his voice betraying some of his panic. “Just…take it easy, okay?! We’re gonna get to the Pitch before Touya!”
Kiyoshi stopped for a second, one hand still outstretched. “Huh?”
“I just mean…” Jo wiped a hand against the sweat pouring from his face. “I know after what they did to you, you want to end this–and I can’t tell you what I’m doing, but we can make it! And…” Words surged up his chest, spilling past his lips before he could stop them. “I know you wanted to kill Fujito back there, but don’t give them the satisfaction of really turning you into a…!”
Jo regretted the sentence before he even finished it; the breath turned to acid in his mouth. He winced and twisted toward Kiyoshi, his hands trembling.
Kiyoshi’s eyes widened.
“Shit, that’s not what I…!” Jo gritted his teeth and forced his aching legs up more steps. “Never mind, let’s just go!”
After an agonizing second of silence, Kiyoshi’s footsteps echoed up after him. “Jo,” Kiyoshi called as he ran past, grabbing Jo’s arm again. “Let me help you.”
“I said I’m fine–”
“Quit being a baby, shit!” Kiyoshi looped Jo’s arm around his shoulder and heaved Jo to his tiptoes. “And I was acting! With Fujito!”
“…?” Jo mumbled a non-response, his feet scraping up stairs as Kiyoshi heaved him up.
Kiyoshi shook his head in clear frustration. “I figured you wanted me to act tough with her! I mean, of course I freaking hate her, but you didn’t really think I was gonna kill her, did you?” Kiyoshi growled as he lugged Jo up the steps. “Crap, Jo! I thought you knew me better than that!”
Jo didn’t know how to respond. He could only stumble up the last few stairs, embarrassed into silence.
Kiyoshi finally released him, allowing the heels of Jo’s sneakers to settle back on concrete. He shook out his arm and threw Jo a glance.
The glance was even, and dark, but it no longer made Jo’s stomach churn.
“I’m not a murderer,” Kiyoshi said flatly. “None of us are.”
Jo twitched at the vibration in his pocket. He swallowed hard, then dug out his phone and ran with Kiyoshi through the exit.
The setting sun outside beamed directly into Jo’s eyes. He squinted and tilted his phone away the glare until he could read the screen.
Touya’s after Doctor Kagome.
Jo’s fingers tightened. The phone vibrated several times in his hand–more messages pinging him in his new, aboveground reception–but he ignored them and just scrolled through the message from Kado.
When he wakes up, he’ll run through the hospital to find Kagome. Don’t do the same thing until I tell you what he finds. T. Hospital will go into lockdown, but they’ll let you in at the northeast staff entrance.
Lockdown? Jo thought worriedly. When?
He knew Kado was following Touya’s future, trying to stalk Touya’s next move in the hospital…and they only had the brief period that Touya was unconscious to actually get ahead. Jo wondered, yet again, how the hell Touya could run around an hour after his heart had stopped.
But the “how” didn’t matter. Kado had already seen that future, and he couldn’t interfere–not if they wanted to see what Touya did with the information about Doctor Kagome. All they could do was get there fast enough to move on Kado’s next order.
The clock on Jo’s phone beeped a ten-minute warning.
“Oh, hey!” Kiyoshi blurted by his side. Jo turned to see him reading his own phone. “Nee-san said she’s with Daniel-san! They’re trying to meet up with Mitsuko-senpai to make a plan…”
Jo let out a small breath of relief. “Mitsuko can take care of them if shit gets crazy in there.”
Sachi called for Jo from a nearby alley. Jo ran after the sound, glad that this small stretch behind the train station was deserted.
Ayase was still on Adam’s back, gesturing Jo closer. “Touya should be getting up in ten minutes,” she warned. “Should I fly my bugs ahead?”
Jo shook his head. “Save your focus for now–we don’t even know where to send you in the hospital. We’ll head for the northeast staff entrance first.”
“Then let’s go!” Sachi cried as he ran down the street.
Jo coughed again, spitting onto the pavement. As he straightened, Kiyoshi caught his eyes.
“I can carry you,” Kiyoshi offered, his voice quieter than before. The darkness in him retreated slightly.
Something spread in Jo’s chest–a warming balm on his aching diaphragm. He shifted his feet.
“I can run,” Jo replied. “I feel…better now.”
Proceed to Chapter 7, Part 2, page 2–>