The one-man tollbooth landed smack in the middle of Tokyo - or what would be the middle of Tokyo, 20,000 years ago.
Gone were the skyscrapers, the pachinko parlors and the white Honda civics, the media blitz and the Hello Kitty vibrators - all the strange and shiny things that had become familiar to Kakei in the course of his stay in the 20th century. Now, he was simply surrounded by nature.
Pure, green, man-eating nature.
"We're here," Kakei announced, stepping out of the tollbooth in a refined, dignified manner. The first thing he did upon setting foot on the steady as-yet-unfossilized soil of the prehistoric glade was to take a deep breath of the unpolluted air. Then he fixed the ruffles on the ends of his stiff 18th century English cuffs. Then he fixed his hair.
Close behind him followed Kakei's slightly more sullen traveling companion, in a rugged white t-shirt and late-20th century denim pants... otherwise known (by Kakei) as the tackiest ensemble ever made for man. Good thing Shin filled it out nicely. "Where is 'here'?" Shin gruffly demanded.
"The Japanese Paleolithic age, my friend," Kakei answered, "many, many years before plumbing was invented."
This meant, of course, that Shin should have gone to the bathroom (or, as Kakei called it, the water closet) during their last pit stop before the next wormhole, but Shin decided at the time that he could still hold it in.
And now that the pit stop was thousands of years past, Shin didn't even bring it up. It wasn't very manly to air out one's suffering.
"And you're sure the real Eyeshield 21 is here?"
"Sir, please," Kakei exclaimed, offended. "You pre-Desolation blokes are so distrustful..."
Shin snorted. "Well, you say you've been trying to find the real Eyeshield 21 since you built your time machine when you were 12. And you say the way I accidentally smashed your instruments actually helped, but I don't think it would be so -"
"Hush." Kakei leapt back and laid a finger to Shin's lips before he could say something more embarrassing. "Something's coming."
For a moment Shin suspected nothing was coming. The gothi-eccentric time traveler had pulled that finger-on-lip stunt on him before, when Kakei thought he was being rude. But within the next minute he heard a crashing through the trees and intermittent howls of pain - like a rhinoceros in labor, or something with two legs that didn't have the first idea how to use them.
"What is it?" Shin's hand involuntarily went to the right back pocket of his jeans, where his weapon was hidden.
Suddenly, something burst through the foliage - something tall and hairy and arguably blond, wearing nothing but bits of animal skin (which would still be more aesthetically correct than a white t-shirt and denim pants, Kakei thought, if only it wasn't so filthy) and sporting huge hands and feet and eyes.
It was decidedly humanoid. It was also decidedly confused for five seconds. It stared at them and the tollbooth dumbly, then assumed the crouch of a threatened animal, lumbering towards the two time travelers, swinging its massive arms.
"UGAAAAA!" it screamed at them, making claws out of its hands.
Kakei tensed. "Step back, Shin..."
"I'll handle this."
The dark-skinned young man in the cravat stepped forward stiffly, authoritative and imposing. Then, as Shin watched, nervous and unmoving, Kakei started to say loudly:
"O-ook a-ack ack!"
"Ook?" The creature blinked and tilted its head to the right. WAY to the right. "Ook eep?"
"Eek. Oog-oog acka."
A huge grin broke on the shaggy thing's face. For no apparent reason, it curled into a ball and started bouncing up and down and around Kakei. Quite like a big blond furry pet basketball.
Shin whispered to Kakei, "You know what he's saying?"
Kakei stared at him. "You don't?"
Shin stared back.
"How can you be a time traveler and not know cavespeak?" Kakei asked him.
Shin pulled out a gigantic screwdriver from his right back pocket, waved it around in a manner that Kakei figured was supposed to be menacing. "See this? This means I don't have to learn cavespeak."
Kakei swatted Shin's screwdriver-holding hand. "Put that away, it's a wonder you haven't broken it yet."
(He conveniently failed to mention that they didn't know if it was, in fact, already broken - as Shin only ever used it to whack things, having found it to be extraordinarily stress-resistant.)
Before Kakei could do anything about it, the caveman uncurled at his feet and eagerly took hold of the hem of his jacket. Kakei shuddered at the touch of unwashed skin making contact with his favorite silks, but quickly composed himself.
"Acka. Ook acka. Oooooooooooo..." The caveman started rubbing his face up and down the soft fabric. Oh dear, Kakei said to himself, eyes shut tight, that will never wash off.
"Eek-ook," Kakei said to the caveman, in a gentler tone that made the shaggy thing sit up and listen, wide blue eyes fixed on Kakei's face. "O-ook eck eck racka backaracka eep um..." Lost for words, he raised both hands up to his face, and made what he hoped would pass as a non-verbal gesture for a football visor. "Agooga."
"Agooga?" The caveman scratched his head. Which was somewhere under all that hair. "Ook bagga ooga?"
Kakei nodded. He pointed to the tollbooth. "Packapacka boom."
This set the caveman off again. After a shrill sound that resembled laughter, he jumped up and down ecstatically, clapping his hands. "Packapacka boom! Packa boom!" he chanted.
"Uh..." Shin started to say, but the caveman was already stumbling out of the clearing on two - four - no wait, two legs again, yelping when he crashed into a tree. "Did he just say he found Eyeshield 21?"
"Or someone who looks like Eyeshield 21," Kakei said thoughtfully. "Who came in a packapack - I mean, a device like ours."
"Huh." Shin put the screwdriver back in his right back pocket. "You were right, after all."
"Yes. Well, let's not pat ourselves on the back yet, he may go off again before we can find him." With a triumphant smile and a gallant bow, he stepped aside to make way for Shin to finally take more than five steps away from the tollbooth. "After you?"