Ash didn't want to admit how anxious or nervous he was to step out of the train and come face to face with Eiji again. He was beyond excited, thrilled even, but the thought of him possibly bringing more harm to Eiji by coming here was a thought that kept nagging him since the plane landed. As hard as he tried to not succumb to the dark depths of his mind, it was inevitable; he would always fall victim to himself. The memory of Eiji getting hurt and nearly dying still haunted him. The sound of the gunshot that caused a bullet to pierce straight through the person he most cared about reverberated in his ears as the train came to a screeching halt. The commotion of the passengers getting up and dispersing brought Ash back to the raw reality;
He had just arrived in Izumo.
Suitcase in hand and duffel bag slung around his shoulder, he followed the others and exited the train. His eyes instantly darted around for any sign of Eiji, since they had texted earlier and he had said he would be waiting for him at the stop, and he could start to hear the drum of his heartbeat thump against his ears. He hated crowds, they always put him on edge. He wasn't sure how long it was going to take for him to get domesticated and get used to people. How long was it going to take to accept the fact that he no longer needed a gun? Or that he no longer needed to be so defensive all the time?
How long was it going to be until he could finally be... normal?
The amount of doubt in his system seemed to be doubling by the second, and he suddenly felt the urge to just turn around and get right back on that train and just return to where he came from.
I don't belong here. I can't be what Eiji wants me to be. I'll only cause more trouble for him. He doesn't deserve that, he deserves to be happy without m—
He turned his head in various directions as he desperately looked for the source of that familiar voice he had so longed to hear for what seemed like years. It had only been four months, but it had felt like a whole lifetime since he had last seen Eiji.
And then there he was.
A smile stretched from ear to ear, chocolate eyes that were now turning glassy, and his face contorted with an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Ash forgot all about his doubts when he saw that angelic face again, forgot about New York and forgot about violence and guns and gangs; this was Japan. He was in Japan with Eiji. He wasn't just here but he was going to live here. This was his new start. This was his chance to throw away being Ash Lynx and to start being Aslan Callenreese.
Ash felt every single feeling of anxiousness melt away as a wave of pure joy washed over him. He made his way over to the Japanese boy, and instantly, Eiji's arms were wrapped firmly around the taller American. Ash could feel Eiji's light cries as his arms tightened around him and he clung onto his shirt for dear life. Ash respectively did the same, tucking his head into the crook of the older boy's neck and keeping it there as an indescribable emotion filled the both of them. Deep down Ash knew the real reason behind Eiji's clinginess. Sure he was happy to see him, but he knew that those tears weren't just because of that. He had almost died, after all. But he didn't want to remember that. He didn't want to think about New York, not now and not anytime soon he hoped. He just wanted to forget about it all and start here, fresh with Eiji. That's all he wanted.
Finally, after a few minutes of embracing each other, they reluctantly pulled away. Ash watched Eiji as he quickly wiped any remnants of tears away from his face and let out a nervous giggle.
"I-I'll help you with your bags." He quickly sniffled and took Ash's suitcase from him.
"My home is not far from here, but it is best we get a ride." The blonde nodded and grinned down at the other male, who in response blushed, then quickly ushered them out of the airport.
We're finally going home.
The Okumura house was small but filled with an odd yet comforting warmth. Eiji's mother was the first at the door, greeting her son as they stepped into the home and then greeting the new stranger that was trailing Eiji's footsteps.
Eiji had already warned him that his mother's English was extremely limited, so he wasn't surprised when the only thing she was able to say was, "Hello, welcome."
Ash flashed a smile and bowed, using the Japanese phrase Eiji had taught him on the way here.
The smaller woman grinned then turned to the Japanese boy and spoke some words that Ash couldn't quite catch. Then he heard a loud thud upstairs and then footsteps shuffling. He averted his gaze to the stairs to see who was causing such a ruckus.
His brow raised at the feminine voice, and then he saw a smaller girl come running down from the steps and dashing towards them.
Mrs. Okumura shouted, a thick trace of frustration in her voice. The raven haired girl stopped and scowled, now walking over to them rather than running. As Ash studied her further, he realized how similar she was to Eiji.
Ah. That's his little sister.
He looked over to Eiji who also wore an annoyed look on his face. He smiled then looked back over to his sister.
She pushed her eyebrows together and crossed her arms as she stood right in front of Ash.
"I speak English," she said bluntly.
She neared closer to him and narrowed her eyes.
"Eiji said you were pretty," she smirked, "He was right."
Eiji's face immediately flushed. He quickly snapped something back in Japanese causing his sister to frown. She stepped away from the blonde as she let out a small huff. The older boy rolled his eyes and slid his shoes off as Aslan did the same.
Ash smiled as Eiji tugged on his arm and led him to his room upstairs, setting his suitcase by the closet.
"I'm sorry it's not much, but–"
"Eiji." Ash stopped him before he had the chance to ramble some silly apology. "This is perfect," he reassured. He sat down on the small bed and took the chance to admire Eiji's room.
Photos of nature were scattered across the walls, some manga posters, and then an old calendar that had a bunch of writing on it. Ash stood up from the bed and made his way to it, his finger tracing the writing in the small box of September 15th.
A nostalgic feeling rose in the pit of his stomach as his heart fluttered a bit.
"This was when you came to New York for the first time."
Ash heard Eiji hum behind him as the sound of an unzipping suitcase and shuffling around filled the room. He should be helping him unpack since it is his stuff after all, but he was too caught up in looking around the room.
He was happily admiring the different photographs that Eiji had taken when something particular caught his eye.
"What's this?" Ash asked and ran his finger over the gold medal that was hanging from the wall.
"Pole vaulting," Eiji replied bluntly. His voice was off, and it contained a tone Ash couldn't quite put his finger on. Disappointment? Resentment? Anger? Sadness?
He had remembered Eiji explaining to him and Shorter how he could no longer pole vault professionally due to some type of injury, but Ash wasn't sure if he believed that. He did jump over a wall to save him and Skip and he seemed to do it with ease. Ash thought about asking, but he decided against it. Eiji didn't seem too fond of the topic right now, so maybe he'd ask him later.
The noise of drawers sliding open and closed pulled him back to the ground.
He turned around and saw Eiji standing in front of his suitcase with a dumbfounded look on his face.
He raised a brow and glanced over.
His underwear was the only thing left to put away.
Ash chuckled lightly.
"I'll help with that, onii chan~"
"I told you that I'm not letting you sleep on the ground! This is your room, Eiji."
"And you're the guest! Therefore I am sleeping on the floor."
They had been at the same argument for what seemed like hours now and Ash was starting to become impatient.
How can someone be so stubborn?
"Eiji. I am sleeping on the ground—"
"No, I am!"
Ash pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a dramatic huff. Eiji puffed his cheeks out in that cute little pout of his and crossed his arms defiantly.
"So it's settled?" Eiji asked, a bit of a playful dominance in his voice.
The blonde smirked, knowing exactly how to direct this.
"Or we could just both sleep on the bed?"
Eiji blushed and flicked his eyes away from Ash.
"If you want..." his voice came out as a small whisper, but Ash was close enough to hear it. Ash chuckled and threw his arm around Eiji's neck teasingly.
"Aw, come on onii-chan! I was kidding."
Eiji raised his gaze back up to the American and glared. Ash smiled small then pulled away, looking towards the bed.
"So it's settled?" Ash said, mimicking Eiji. The older boy rolled his eyes and replied with a dry 'yes.' With that, Ash grinned warmly and got ready for bed with Eiji. He was exhausted even though he didn't want to admit it when asked by the older male earlier, but the bags under his eyes said otherwise.
Some good night's sleep was definitely needed, especially since Eiji wanted to take him around his hometown tomorrow.
Golzine's large, filthy hands were wrapped tightly around Ash's wrist pinning him to the mattress beneath him.
"You're beautiful," he whispered, trailing slobbery kisses down his neck then bare chest. Ash kicked and wriggled trying his best to get out of his reach but wasn't strong enough. He never was.
Then he was being flipped over and pain was filling him. An intense sharp pain that he almost couldn't bare. His lungs felt frozen and his chest hurt, and he suddenly felt like he was drowning. He clawed at the messy bed sheets and screamed hoping someone would hear him.
Ash sprung forward and clutched his chest, sweat dripping down his forehead and his eyes leaking tears. He couldn't see. Everything was black. He was scared. Where was he anyway?
He felt hands wrap around his wrist and he instinctively flinched and tried to yank them away, but the grip around him tightened. He felt his hands being moved until they meet soft, warm skin.
"Aslan, it's me."
His vision focused and his heart slowed down at the tenderness of the voice, and he looked up to be met face to face with Eiji. He dug his face in between the space of his head and neck and sat there letting the last of his cries out. Eiji rubbed slow, gentle circles on his back and murmured some things like 'you're okay' or 'I'm here'. Ash fisted the fabric of Eiji's pajama shirt and cried out, "I'm sorry." The Japanese boy pulled away and looked at the other, his brown eyes full of an emotion Ash couldn't quite describe.
"Don't apologize, that's what I do," he smiled briefly, "You have nothing to be sorry about anyways." Ash didn't feel like arguing back with him right now so he just nodded and lay back down with Eiji, the raven-haired pulling him close to his chest so he felt more secure. Ash bathed in Eiji's warmth and the feeling of pure horror he had a few moments ago vanished as he felt fingers combing through his hair soothingly.
"Try to sleep, yes? You're tired."
Ash hummed in agreement and snuggled in even closer, his breathing now slowing to soft huffs as he let himself drift to a peaceful sleep while being covered in Eiji's warmth, acting as a blanket of security.
Ash woke up the next morning to the light smell of coffee as well as muffled Japanese chatter. He sat up in bed and glanced over to the alarm clock on the bedside table.
He internally groaned but got up anyways and shuffled downstairs.
"Good morning!" Eiji smiled brightly as he started heating breakfast up for him. Ash greeted back and brushed his hair down to not appear like a total slob; he didn't want to give the Okumuras a bad impression.
Ash ate breakfast and not too long after they got ready for the day and head out.
Izumo was remarkably beautiful, the trees swayed softly with the wind and the overall aura was exceptionally peaceful. It was definitely the opposite from what Ash was used to. If this peace was the only thing Eiji had ever known, Ash couldn't imagine what it was like for him to be thrown into the world of gangs and violence.
How did he adapt so quickly?
And why would he ever trade such tranquility for living under constant risk of getting killed in New York?
Other questions Ash would have to ask later, but for now, he was focusing on Eiji pointing out different landmarks, like the grocery store they usually visited, the small park they could go on a walk on later, and his high school.
When they reached his school, Ash gave in to the small bubble of curiosity that rose in him.
"Do you still talk to your friends from high school?"
Eiji usual smile faltered a bit but then shook his head.
"I haven't talked to anyone since I was seventeen."
"Why?" Ash asked, quickly realizing that that was probably too blunt of a question to ask. It also seemed to make Eiji uneasy, so Ash spoke lowly, "You don't need to answer. I shouldn't have asked."
The raven-haired hummed as they continued down the sidewalk, the gentle breeze tousling Eiji's dark curls and colored leaves gently trickling down from the trees above them. Ash spotted a cafe on the corner and nudged his friend.
"Wanna grab a bite?"
Eiji perked up and nodded.
"I'll pay, yes?"
The American rolled his eyes.
Not this again.
When they got home it was already a bit late, and they were already filled with the food they had had at the cafe earlier so they excused themselves from dinner. The two went up to Eiji's room and got ready to clock out just like they had done the night prior. They climbed into bed and snuggled up close to each other.
Silence fell over them and the sound of Eiji's light breathing was the only thing audible to Ash's ears. The Japanese boy's hands were running through his blonde locks and he hummed in delight at the light touch.
"I'm sorry for last night, by the way," Ash muttered. Eiji almost chuckled.
"Don't apologize. I said I'd be here forever, right?"
The room fell quiet again and Ash decided to shift the topic.
"Your sister is cute."
Eiji scoffed, "She's annoying."
Ash chuckled at his child-like response.
"She looks a lot like you."
The Japanese shrugged, then flushed when he realized the real message behind those words. Ash grinned amusedly when he watched the reaction of the indirect flirt unfold on Eiji's face. Flustered, Eiji just mumbled some words in Japanese, which was something he quite commonly did when he became embarrassed without knowing it. It made Aslan's heart soar.
Ash sighed in content as the moonlight seeped from the window nearby and shone on Eiji's face just perfectly, the browns of his eyes now appearing like pools of honey. The blonde listened to the other's faint snoring and was left alone with his thoughts, which was never a good thing.
He frowned because today he realized that he barely knew anything about the person he most cared about. He didn't know what Eiji's life had been like before New York, he didn't know what made him so uneasy about talking about high school, and he didn't know what really happened when he was seventeen and cut off communications with his friends from school. What if Eiji had problems previous to coming to New York? What if he was hurting too? Ash wouldn't know; it had never occurred to him to ask.
And what happened to Eiji's father? He didn't seem to be at home or mentioned at all.
Ash wrapped his arms around Eiji's body and pulled him close.
I want to know everything about you.