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I would do anything for him.

Ash isn't sure where the thought came from. The spatula he was washing rattling as it falls in the sink. He's not being forced to think this. This words aren't being fed to him. .

He would do anything for Eiji.

Maybe his actions have always shown that before he himself realized. From the beginning.

Ever since the naive boy (he can't think of him as an adult) asked if his gun was real. He's been drawn to him ever since. Eiji. Eiji who meets him where he is. So full of kindness, even through everything Ash has put him through. He could've blamed him for everything. Expected it even. Still is. Like Sing. Like Max, even if he hides it well. He's the fuck up. The one who let's everyone close to him get hurt, or die for him.

He never does.

Eiji who asks for nothing in return. Even when he owes him so much. Probably more than he will ever know. He gives and gives. Still smiles at him, is still here with him. Choosing him over and over again.

I cherish him more than anyone else.

A voice slowly calls him back. Eiji is near standing beside him, calling out his name. His arm is outstretched, hesitant to touch him.

He gives him a reassuring smile. Makes a jab at him acting like a mom that feels forced from his lips. In his eyes he can see that Eiji notices the same thing. But he lets it go. He always does. Knowing when to push and when to let Ash sort things out himself.

How did he become so lucky? After everything. He never thought he could have something like this, someone like him. If he was a little less broken, and a little more of a dreamer, he'd think they were soulmates. They understand each other so well. Keep each other in check.

He knows what he wants, what he knows he feels. He'll only let himself admit it in the middle of the night, when dreams bleed into nightmares and he searches for Eiji's face in the moonlight. To ground him. Know that they're both ok. He can always see his face, Eiji never sleeping on his left. Even though he knows he prefers that side.

It's his way of saying I'm here. Without breathing down his neck. Comfort in a way that won't constrict him. Pin him down.

Ash knows what he feels is love.

Eiji always meets him where he is.

Is it okay if I can sit next to you?

Can I hug you?

Ash will never be able to put into words how much it means to him. For Eiji to just understand who he is, what he's been through. There will always be hesitancy when it comes to affection for him, boundaries that maybe will never be lifted. But Eiji still treats him like something that deserves. Kindness. Comfort. Happiness. Treated like a human instead of something to be pitied, something broken. Treated with love.

He wishes he could tell him just how much it means that Eiji takes that extra step.

How is he so lucky?

You can touch me whenever you want. I give you permission.

Ash doesn't believe him. Not for a while.

When he lays in his lap that first time, he thinks Eiji didn't mean this. That Eiji will be disappointed that the high and mighty Ash Lynx can't keep himself together. But when he decides to peek a glance up at Eiji and sees only a warm smile, he knows Eiji never thinks such things.

He wants him. All of him. To be together, for as long at Eiji will want him. Maybe it'll only be for a little longer. But he'll gladly take it. Anything Eiji is willing to give. It's already more than he ever deserved. For the blood he's spilled, the friends that died because of him.

In a different life, he'd ask for more and more. Be selfish and ask Eiji to be with him forever.

That's why he never expects it. Dreaming about it sure. Imagining a different timeline, one where he isn't so dirty, so used up.

Can I kiss you?

He almost blurts out why. Why would anyone want to kiss him just because? So many have taken what they wanted. Demanded. Kisses. And more. He's not something anyone should ever want to kiss him because of what he's done. Of who he is.

He says no. He wants to. He wants nothing more than to kiss someone that cares for him as just Ash, and not a play thing. For a second, he thinks there will be a fight, maybe this will be the final straw and Eiji will leave. For God's sake he can't even kiss him, when he's done it hundreds of times in the past.

Even when he's only asking, he thinks about all the things people demanded from him. Took without any regard for him. Someone asking for his permission is new. Asking instead of demanding. Not like everyone else that took what they wanted.

It warms his heart, makes it flutter a bit. But he's still not ready. Not now, when half his mind is stuck in his past. The things he had to do to survive.

There's not a hint of disappointment or anger from Eiji when he tells him. He accepts. Continuing where he left off. Walking across the living room with mugs in hand, pulling Ash away from his thoughts with easy banter. He almost wants to change his mind; to get up and kiss him right now. But he doesn't want his first kiss to be tainted by the things that haunt him.

Eiji treats him like he's worth something. Treasured. Instead of something to hoard, to look at and use when seen fit.

Every day he's thankful for every moment they have. He knows he can't ask for much more than that. Eiji by his side.

He's already saved him. They've saved each other. Over and over again.

He squeezes Eiji's hand, pulling Eiji's focus towards him. His eyes gleam, sparkle as he looks back at him. Sometimes he thinks their relationship isn't fair to Eiji. That Ash gets so much more than Eiji ever can from him.

But when Eiji looks at him with unadulterated joy, he knows he's wrong.