Chapter 1: A Fresh Start
The flight from New York was long and filled with dread, Tokyo was a wonderful city however she had no idea what she would be walking into. There was a possibility that she would end up working in a tiny office and living in a rabbit hutch. Sam sighed this was a major degradation from chasing scandals and crime, to cover human interest pieces was something a rooky did. Not a tempered reporter. Even if it was on the reconstruction of Japan after the tsunami and earth quakes, it was still a down grade. She had managed to sail through customs and pick up her luggage; all that was left was to get to the office. She walked through the doors to the entrance and noticed men and women lined up holding their signs as always, their names in Japanese and she sighed. Standing on the end was a stout woman with blond hair holding up a sign with her name in English on it. She smile brightly as Sam looked at her, "You must be Samantha Ono, I'm Leila Blum," she said brightly. Sam was confused for a moment and looked at her, "Who are you?" asked Sam slowly. Leila tilted her head and replied, "The relocation specialist." Sam simply stared at her in confusion and asked, "You?" She nodded and said, "This way, I called a cab in advance, I'll be taking you to you're living accommodations." Sam fallowed however she still couldn't shake the feeling of being met by a blonde woman, who claimed to be the relocations specialist, "What's wrong?" she asked. Sam laughed and responded, "I was expecting someone with darker hair." Leila shook her head and replied, "Not everyone is Japanese." Sam began to regret every saying what she had been thinking. Leila walked over to the cab and shouted in Japanese the destination at the driver, "You speak Japanese?" asked Sam. She was slightly impressed and Leila looked at her curiously, "Of course, can't you?"
Sam was silent and slipped into the back seat of the taxi; Leila came jumped in the other side and looked at her. "This apartment isn't a rabbit hutch right?" she asked. Leila looked at her and glared, the bridge of her nose wrinkled and she asked, "You doubt my abilities?" she asked. Sam leaned her arm on the door of the cab and replied, "I don't know you that well." Leila looked at her and replied harshly, "Obviously you don't know a thing about Japan." Sam was about to refute when she looked out the window, there was steel and glass everywhere with the accentuation of concrete. She had lived in New York for entire life; however she never expected another city to look like this one. The cab slowed and Leila smiled as she stepped out, her blond hair flew in the breeze as she walked around the car. Sam slowly opened the door with her bags in hand, she had spent her entire life on Manhattan this was really the first time she was asked to go anywhere that wasn't in that vicinity. "This is the first residential building, I was trying to get something quiet where you could work and unwind when necessary," said Leila, there was a note of confidence in her voice as she walked over to the glass doors of the building. Sam entered cautiously, the lobby was pristine there wasn't a spec of dust in sight. Not only were the floors polished but the furniture as well. Leila got in the elevator and Sam closed her eyes, "This complex is brand new, it was just completed, the apartment has two bed rooms, a bathroom, living room and kitchen," she said with a sense of accomplishment.
Sam nodded and opened her eyes as the doors slid open; she walked through the hallway to the door and waited for Leila to open the door. "This is it," she said as she slipped off her shoes and entered, "It's furbished as well, to make it easier for you to move in right away," she commented as she walked through the entry way and entered the main section of the apartment. Sam fallowed and stared in shock, it was massive, there was a great deal of open space and she slowly walked around. The furniture was pearl white and she noticed the assortment of throw pillows about, wooden floors and the latest in sound proofing. "Wow," she whispered as she wandered into the bedroom to find a massive bed. "I'm glad you like it," said Leila, Sam placed her bags on the bed and wandered into the bathroom. It was honestly a luxury apartment in Tokyo through and through. "I'll take it," said Sam decisively, Leila was beaming with triumph and she said, "Well this is the contract and," before she could finish there was the familiar roar of construction above their heads. The sound of a table saw ripped through the air and hammers driving nails fallowed. Sam looked at Leila and pointed to the ceiling, "What's that sound?" she asked.
Leila looked a littler nervous and looked at her hands, "Ah that would be construction, I was told the building was finished though," she commented. Sam twitched at the word construction, "No way, no, not happening," she said angrily, "How am I supposed to get anything done?" she asked. Leila looked spooked and said, "This is Tokyo, of course there is construction going on, I have other listings to show you." Sam looked at her, she pinched the bridge of her nose and was about to reply when she heard her cell phone ring, "Hello this is June I'm the editor's secretary and I was wondering if you will be able to make the meeting today at two," said a cheerful feminine voice from the other side of the phone. Sam looked down at her watch and back to Leila, "Yes of course I'll be there," she replied and then hung up. She turned her attention to Leila and said, "I'll take this one." Leila's eyes widened and she asked, "Are you sure?" Sam's blue eyes were filled with impatient as she replied, "I don't have time, besides I'll sue them if they don't stop." Leila sighed and shook her head, "I don't think that will work, I can just show you the other listings. I would be more comfortable doing that then having you stay in a place you can't work in," said Leila. Sam walked into the bedroom and replied, "Its fine just get the contract ready." She nodded and walked into the other room, Sam clapped her hands before running to take a shower. Once she had finished she threw on a fresh change of clothes and sprinted down the hallway. Leila held the contract out and said, "Okay sign on the line." Sam snatched the pen from her hand and was quick to sign the lease agreement before grabbing her messenger and camera bag and running down the stairs.
"I'm going to be late," she groaned as she walked over to a shop and bought a map. Max had thought of everything except giving her directions to the Tokyo office in English. People marched in every direction and she found herself standing in a five way intersection, "Oh man," she moaned with a hint of defeat. Her eyes darted about in search of something which even resembled a News Paper's office. She turned to the right abruptly and felt something hard hit her; she stared in shock as something wet and hot covered her chest. She fell backward and looked over at the other man who was staring at her, he was clearly irritated, and without hesitation he was yelling at her in Japanese. Her eyes widened with terror as she whipped out a dictionary, she flickered through the pages in an attempt to keep up only to realize it would be useless, since she didn't even know the kanji. "You don't speak Japanese do you?" he asked and she froze and looked at him. He had a British accent and yet he spoke Japanese so fluently. He sighed, and closed his almost black eyes, his fingers ran through his short hair in an attempt to put it back in place only to realize that she had been staring at him for the past few minutes. Once he was standing she realized how tall he was and noticed his powerful build. He sighed, his eyes floated to the map and he shook his head, "You don't even know enough Japanese to speak let alone read street names," he commented, his oxford accent was stronger than she anticipated. She suddenly looked down at her shirt and then stared, she was covered in coffee. "Ack I can't go in like this," she said in shock. He looked at her and handed her a handkerchief, "I'll pay for the dry cleaning, however I don't have the cash now," he said as he reached in his pocket. "Call me using this number and I'll cover the fees," he said before turning his attention to the pages which were now sprawled across the pavement. Sam held the business card in her hands and shook her head. She was really regretting not knowing any Japanese.
She watched as he slowly picked up the pages which had flown as a result of their collision. It was as though he could tell what she was thinking and commented, "My information is on the back in English, I haven't gotten my new cards yet." Sam turned the card over and stared, "You're Kato Akira?" she asked. He simply nodded as he straightened the pages in his hands. "Um do you know where this place is?" she asked as she held out a business card. He plucked it from her fingers and looked at it, "Hm, you're looking for Haru huh," he muttered. He looked at her and then above her head, "Are you certain you're lost?" he asked. Sam crossed her arms, he was beginning to try her already paper thin patients, "Yes I'm sure," she spat. His lips curled into a smile and he snickered. Her eyes narrowed and she asked, "What?" he tilted his head and she looked even angrier, "What?" she asked again. He tilted his head again and replied, "You really are clueless." She looked at him and wrinkled her nose, "What?" she asked again. He chuckled and replied, "Figure it out, usagi-kun." Before she realized it he was walking away, "Wait a sec!" she shouted and he simply held up a hand to wave good bye. She groaned and turned around to notice what he had been gesturing to, she was standing right in front of the building and she turned several shades red, "Oh," she said before buttoning her blazer and walking into the building. She was impressed by the number of people moving about; they seemed even more professional than the New York Office. She began to walk through the lobby; it was a well known fact that articles of greater importance were published twice, once online and once on paper. However in Japan the people got their news directly from the website so there was little printing involved.
Sam was about to stop at the front desk when someone shouted, "You must be Ms. Ono, I've been waiting," it was a loud and rather obnoxious voice. She turned around to find a middle aged man with steel gray hair and black eyes. "Yes I am," she said as she bowed, it was the one lesson she remembered her uncle teaching her. "I'm Morimoto, you're sempai," he said as he returned her bow. She looked at him with a hint of confusion when he said the word and immediately reached for the dictionary, he looked down at the book and then back to her. There was a hint of disbelief in his eyes as he commented, "I thought he was joking." Sam ignored him and continued to flicker through the pages, "Sempai means senior in English, basically I'll be advising you," Morimoto said after a moment. She nodded and closed the dictionary before shoving it back in her bag. He gestured for her to continue across the lobby and said, "I'll take you up stairs so you can meet the rest of the team and the editor." Sam nodded; as she walked she glanced around and noticed the flat panels which covered the building, each of them covered different areas of Japan and even the globe. Three different news tapes were fed across the bottom, one for Japan, another for Asia and the third covered the stock market. "Whoa," she whispered, Haru stopped before the elevator doors and waited for it to arrive, "We keep those on all day, it's so we can stay plugged in twenty four seven," said Haru. Sam didn't understand what he meant by that, their job was to discover the news why was what was occurring reported by others so important. She shook her head it was clear that things were done very differently in Japan. Morimoto glanced down at her and asked, "Why do you smell like a cappuccino?" She immediately blushed and said nervously, "Someone spilt it on me by accident." Morimoto was less than amused and shook his head, clearly this was one of the worst first impressions she could make. "Well there's no helping it," he said, his face was expressionless. It was as though he had asked her out of obligation rather than concern. It was strange, people were expected to look and act a certain way and yet they didn't have to have any emotion behind their actions.
She looked up at him and he asked, "Did you get the contact information of the person who spilt it on you?" Sam nearly jumped out of her skin and replied quickly, "Yes he told me to call his office." In seconds the white card was in her hands and Morimoto took it from her fingers. There was silence and his eyes widened, "You ran into Kato Akira?" he asked in shock. Sam nodded and shrugged, "Yeah we kind of collided." Morimoto shook his head and looked concerned, "You've been here for less than an hour and you're risking your career," said Morimoto. She was taken back, she hadn't expected any visible expression on his face, "Why is he so important?" she asked. He simply shook his head and mumbled, "Never mind, you'll find out soon enough." She was about to ask another question when the elevator stopped at their floor and he got off, "Saved," she muttered. Clearly the man who gave her the card was more important than she thought, even though he was carrying papers and a coffee. She thought he was a normal business man, she didn't think much of him. In fact he seemed so ordinary that the thought of him being important confused her. The rich were always dressed in designer's suites and never carried anything but their personal bags in New York. There was no way he held a position of importance, not the way he acted.
Morimoto pushed open the doors of the office and she stared in shock, like every other paper, people were rushing about with copies of drafts, calling sources and even scrambling after photographers. "I apologize but we're in the midst of posting this section's articles," said Morimoto. Sam smiled and nodded she was about to comment when she heard, "Unbelievable, who leaked the story to the Tribune!" roared a voice. Sam winced, it sounded as though her uncle had screamed it. Everything ceased and she noticed how their eyes were locked on the door with the word Editor across it. She stared and watched as a young man walked out, his black hair was perfectly combed and not a wrinkle was in his suite, he was the epitome of cleanliness and order. His eyes were hidden behind a pair of glasses and he gently pushed them in place, "I wish I knew who on earth was leaking all of our stories to them," he said angrily. Morimoto said stiffly, "This is Sawa Haru, he's the editor." Sam paused and remembered Kato had said something about meeting Haru, however she couldn't believe this man who was towering over her was to be her editor. He looked at Alex and commented, "So this is the niece of Asami huh, there is some resemblance." Sam was silent and the editor turned his attention to Morimoto, "Okay I take it you are going to be her sempai, since you're here for a few months you will have a desk but not an office," Sawa stated. He turned abruptly and began to walk through the room, "This is the main room, since you only have a desk you may work on your article at any point and time, we do mainly digital publishing so there isn't a concern about making the Late Edition however I won't take a late article," he said quickly. A young woman held up a stack of pages as he passed by and Sawa took them with out even looking at her, "I expect the article to have at least 3 drafts, you will be responsible for all photos whether you take them or not," he said coldly and she stared as he plucked a pen from his pocket and began looking over the article in his hand. "All the articles are written in English and our biggest competitor is the Tribune. Now you're Pass for the New York Times will be helpful but not as much as our press pass. This department specializes in human interest pieces and cultural arts," he said as his scanned the page and he glided toward his office. "We have a strict policy about appearance and being late, so next time drink the coffee and please don't wear it," said Sawa.
Sam stood there stunned and was about to refute, but Sawa slammed the door of his office closed and she was left standing there confused. They had literally walked a massive loop around the room. He went over the major policies and then disappeared; he didn't even give her an assignment. Morimoto looked at her and said, "This paper is about intuition, your first assignment is a qualitative assessment. You're to go out and write an article about an artist and his exhibit and write an article, which will tell us what we have to work on." Sam looked up at him and noticed how uninterested he was in going any further in detail, "Um is he always like that?" she asked cautiously. Morimoto nodded and said softly, "Usually." She looked at the door, even though it was a different style compared to the one her Uncle hid behind in New York, there was an element of nostalgia to it. "It's a tough job," she commented, Morimoto looked at her and shrugged, "I suppose," he replied. Sam shook her head and continued, "No it really is." She could remember the late nights her uncle spent in the office and how tired he looked. However he was always proud to see the next edition of the paper on sale. Clearly things here were going to be very different from the New York Times.