247 – The Other Returnee
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"Mister Smith! Where's Jenny?!"

"Can I have your autograph?!"

"Who's the young girl?!"

"Where's your wife?!"

John let out an internal sigh but kept a smile on as he looked out at the crowd.

...A mistake. Because he wanted to not draw any attention to himself being superhuman... and because he didn't want to get into the habit of solving all his problems with supernatural abilities, he decided to take the elevator down and walk outside.

Of course, he forgot two things.

One: he was famous AND infamous now due to a combination of being the CEO of Myth Incorporated and the concert where he revealed himself as Jenny.

Two: People *really* wanted to know more about his personal life.

...Oh. Three. It was actually three things he forgot.

Three: Being famous sucked when it came trying to maintain some privacy.

It didn't help that most of the people here were foreigners visiting for the expo instead of the usually reserved Japanese people.

Usually.

Some high school girls and guys didn't fit that bill, but they were exceptions.

But anyway... Crowd of people trying to weasel stuff out of him.

John looked out at the crowd and adjusted his cuff links. He smiled. And then he released a bit of killing intent.

...That wasn't technically breaking his rules. That Shin guy and Kai could release killing intent too, so it was fine.

The crowd immediately shut up, some people hastily backing up to give John space.

He chuckled and lowered his hands. "My, I didn't realize how popular I was. But I'm busy at the moment so... How about this?" He scanned around the room and met each person's eyes. After that, he walked forward into the center of the lobby.

The crowd parted, giving John a wide berth. It wasn't rational. After all, John didn't have any weapons on him. He didn't even look that dangerous.

But killing intent did a weird thing to people's heads, especially people who weren't used to life-threatening situations.

Like looking down the barrel of a gun. Even if the safety was on and it was completely safe because there weren't any bullets in it, you'd still be cautious. At least, if you knew anything about guns.

There were idiots who didn't care about dangerous things like that and did it anyway, but Darwin usually said hi at that point.

But whatever the case, John had room. And from how the crowd reacted, he was fairly sure he could just walk out and it would be fine. But things would get annoying later on, so he decided to try something out.

Raising his right hand, John stuck up his index finger and said, "One person. I have time to talk to one person right now. So... let's play a game." He smiled and said, "The first person to think of the number that I'm thinking of between one and a hundred gets to have that chat. And no worries, I'm great at picking out voices, so make as much noise as you want. But you have ten seconds to do that, starting..." He rolled back his sleeve, revealing a diamond watch, and said,

"Now."

Immediately, noise filled the air. People screaming and shouting random numbers. Excited shouts. Desperate pleas for attention...

But none of the numbers were right.

And then a calm male voice cut through the noise.

"37."

Silence.

Just like when John calmed down the crowd with his killing intent, the crowd was quieted by the presence of the person who spoke up.

John was surprised as well when he saw who it was.

An unassuming Japanese businessman in his early thirties or late twenties. Ordinary looks, a soft and friendly smile.

Akira Yato.

John blinked, but then met the guy's smile with his own. "Seems like we have a winner."

Akira chuckled and said, "Seems like today's my lucky day."

The crowd looked disappointed, but it seemed like people got the message that their chance was up. And it also seemed like the combined presence of John and Akira was too formidable since nobody else stepped forward.

It also made John more curious about Akira's background, but he had more important things to consider at the moment.

John looked to Akira and said, "Do you mind chatting while we walk? I really am busy."

Akira waved his hand and said, "I don't mind at all. In fact, I'm also pretty short on time."

John nodded and then walked out of the hotel.

Akira followed beside him.

When the two stepped outside, Akira looked to John and said, "You seem used to handling crowds, Mister Smith."

"For helping me out of that mess, John's fine, Yato-san."

He smiled and said, "Then Akira is fine with me, John."

John smiled back at Akira. But then he frowned and said, "What are you doing here, by the way? Visiting the expo?"

Akira shook his head. "I actually have a presentation. I was quite inspired by Project MirAIs and Myth Incorporated's recent events, so I rushed to assemble everything in time. Fortunately, I know the person who runs the show here and managed to get a slot of my own on the last day."

"Really?" John blinked and said, "A week's pretty fast considering you were just thinking about it last week."

Akira chuckled. "Well, it is a bit of a rush job... but I think it should take the world by storm. I hope you don't mind me jumping off a bit of your momentum?"

John laughed. "A little friendly competition is always good. ...As long as you aren't hurting anybody. Or my people."

Akira waved his hand. "Don't worry. My little project is purely altruistic. Though... Well, I believe that you'll see what I mean when Shield Corporation's presentation starts."

"I'll definitely be looking forward to it."

And especially if Akira was going to make use of his strange powers like John suspected. Though the guy was definitely a good person at heart, so it shouldn't be anything bad...

Shouldn't.

...Just in case, John needed to remember to remind Titor to keep an eye out. And his sisters. And Bai and Qing.

Just in case.

The men rounded the street corner, moving onto the line of shops by the hotel.

Some people noticed John and started to move towards him. But when they saw Akira, they hesitated and backed off.

John blinked and looked towards Akira. "Are you a boogeyman or something?"

"Pardon?"

"People seem afraid to approach you."

Akira laughed. "That. Well... I've always been told that I can come off as pretty unapproachable... Despite my best attempts otherwise." He sighed.

John clicked his tongue. "Wish I had that problem. People always seem to want to ruin my day."

Akira smiled and said, "Well, you do seem to have an air of mystery around you, John. Maybe that's what draws people in?"

"Mm... I'd say the same to you. But I guess there's a pretty clear difference between us..."

John was objectively handsome, rich, and had a well-trained body. Not to mention his voice had a weird timbre that made people want to listen... mostly because he spent a while training it to have that effect and couldn't turn it off anymore.

Anyway, in contrast Akira was an unassuming Japanese businessman with a 'kind uncle' face, slight wrinkles from smiling, and a thin body.

They were both wearing suits. But John came off as someone important who you shouldn't ignore. Meanwhile, Akira seemed to come off as someone important who you definitely should ignore and not bother.

Kind of in the whole 'potential lawyer' or 'powerful businessman' who could ruin your life kind of deal while smiling.

...Maybe John should learn from him- Ah wait. It was too late for that.

Dammit.

"In any case," Akira said. "Thank you for taking the time to talk with me, but if you're busy, I don't mind parting here."

John stopped in front of a konbini and smiled. "Thanks again. We need to have that chat sometime... Maybe over lunch? Or a drink in the evening?"

"That would be great. Then..." Akira waved. "I will see you around, John."

"Take care, Akira." John waved and then walked into the konbini.

And Akira did the same.

"..."

"...Were you buying something to eat too?"

John laughed. "Something for my daughter, but yeah. You?"

Akira grabbed a basket by the door and said, "I'm buying something for my wife, actually. She insisted that I get her ice cream after watching a video about Hokkaido milk dairy products." He sighed and said, "I told her that it would be hard to find some here of all places, but she wouldn't take no for an answer."

John grabbed a basket too and chuckled. "I know how that is..."

Yue could be very insistent about trying out certain things in bed.

Very.

Even if John thought that she really shouldn't be doing those sorts of things or taking those sorts of poses... but if his wife wanted to, he wasn't going to refuse-

Wait.

John blinked and looked at Akira. After that, he checked the guy's left hand. And sure enough, there was a wedding band there. Nothing fancy, just a titanium band with the word 'Aurora' etched on it. "You're married?"

"Hm?" Akira noticed where John was looking and then laughed, raising up his left hand. "I am indeed. It's been an eventful five years with my wife... and she can be a bit of a handful, but I love her dearly." He paused. "...Though I often wonder why she chose to follow me home instead of staying with her family."

"...We really do need to have that chat." John started walking towards the frozen food section in the back. "It seems like you have a lot of interesting stories to tell."

Akira smiled and walked beside John. "You could say that. And I'm certain that a great man like you has quite a few as well-"

A vibration echoed. And then there was another one.

John blinked and pulled out his phone.

Akira did the same.

John held up his phone and said, "Do you mind?"

Akira waved his hand. "It's fine. I should take this as well..." He opened the fridge and grabbed some ice cream cups before dropping them into his bucket. After that, he started walking off and answered his phone. "Hello?"

*Aki-kun! Where's my ice cream! You promised me ice cream!*

"I'm at the store, Dear. I just ran into a friend."

*Gasp! You have a friend? Since when? Introduce me! Is he single? I'll get the other girls!*

Akira smiled. "He's not. But it might be a good idea to introduce them sometime... Oh. What did you want to do for dinner today?"

John shook his head and then answered his phone as well. The moment he did-

"DAD! Where's my ice cream!?"

John laughed. "I'm almost back, Meggie. Wait five minutes."

"You said that when you left!"

"No, I said I'd see you soon."

"It's been ten minutes already! And my stomach hurts, and there are all of these cringey pictures and videos of me and I'm annoyed and I want my ice cream!"

John grabbed a few cups and tossed them in his basket before heading to the check out. "I know, I know. So just chill out and stop screaming."

"I'll scream if I- Wait."

John smiled.

"...I hate you."

"Love you too, Meggie. Be back in a bit."

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