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ACT I

 

In a weird, slightly disturbed way, Dino’s death was Ash’s rebirth. His turning point. The dawn of a new day.

Ash finally was free. For maybe the first time in his life, he could be his own person. Not someone else’s plaything or sugarbaby or son, his own being. He felt like life was a vast ocean: flooded with hope and possibilities, filled with adventure and danger and joy and pain. Just the way life was suppose to be lived.

But before he could savor all of the wonders of life, Ash had to settle to scores.

Ash Lynx needed to end the violence where he had started it. He needed to dissolve the gang, but to do so, he needed to pay his debts. Give the gangs back their power, pay off whoever in his gang wanted an out, and give them the safety net they never had. 

Of course, all of this required money he didn’t have yet. Ash had a large sum of his “father’s” fortune waiting for him but that meant Ash needed to get Dino’s affairs in order. He had to take care of business like a businessman: make people happy, amend propositions, cater to their whims. He could play by Dino’s rules if it meant no gilded cage. He could break off from the world he had grown in, start his new life well compensated for his struggles. 

He figured it was the least he could ask for.

 

____________________________________

 

“Hey Ash,” Sing smiled, bright and brilliant. “Part of the crew is heading to Chang Dai, want to come?”

“Sure, let me check the post office first,” Ash spoke, ruffling the kid’s hair on the way out.

Since the weight of responsibility had been slipping off of his shoulder and back to the respectful bosses, Ash felt more able to himself. He had made friends out of the other gang leaders and regulars, blending in with them more as an equal rather than a superior. Sure, he didn’t weigh any of them with his troubles, but he was more open with his emotions. He gave sass, compliments, his dignity; even letting them tease him about his boyfriend.

“If there’s any of those good pencils, save me one,” Sing pointed at him, walking off in the opposite direction

“I will,” Ash called back, checking the time on his phone and calculating what time of day it would be in Japan. 

Eiji.

Ash could see his face, spread into a warm smile that rivaled the sun. The freckles that dusted his cheeks from their prolonged adventures in the summer sun. The hair that was a shade too brown to be black, flecked with grass particles from when they were wrestling on the ground. The dot of sunscreen on his nose, nuzzled with dirt. The big, brown eyes, brimming with joy and affection, staring right into Ash’s heart. 

Ash never talked about how he felt about Eiji. He didn’t need to. Everyone knew Ash Lynx would conquer death, steal the stars and the moon, walk to the corners of the earth, all in the name of Okumura Eiji. 

Ash clicked through his phone to dial Eiji. It was a Saturday; the only days of the week his boyfriend didn’t do school work and stood to be prime time to talk with his boyfriend giving him the proper attention.

“Nandeshou?” Eiji retorted back, his voice disgruntled and Japanese tired and frustrated. 

“Geez, I should have figured old men like you go to sleep so early,” Ash teased, his boyfriend groaning in response. “What’s got you in a grumpy mood?”

“I’ve been up since four in the morning and I’ve been working on a group project for six hours.”

“Didn’t we yesterday talk till one, your time?”

“Yes,” Eiji moaned, sounding terribly tired.

"Ouch,” Ash hissed, feeling bad for waking up his boyfriend. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine. It’s my fault anyway.”

“You know, science says that when you can’t sleep, someone is thinking about you.”

“Thanks for that Ash,” Eiji grumbled, clearly not as amused as Ash. 

“Hey, I was trying to be smooth,” Ash laughed, opening the door to the post office to access his P.O. box.

“Be smooth when I’m awake, whatever that means,” Eiji grumbled, yawning on the other end of the phone.

“It means flirting but in a cool way,” Ash explained, a person behind the desk perking up from their phone. 

“...You know you can’t use cool as an adjective for everything.”

“Look it up, it’s a colloquial thing,” Ash tried to explain, putting his hand to the phone to say, “I’m here to pick up a package for Aslan Callenresse.”

The employee went behind a wall, giving Ash time to put his ear back the phone.

“Could you repeat that?”

“I was SAYING that I don’t know what colloquial means,” Eiji restated exasperatedly.

“It means idioms. Like who ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’ or your weird thing with bodies and minds.”

“Oh, you mean itai dooshin? It’s not weird.”

“Different bodies, same mind? Pretty weird to me.”

The employee came back with two packages, Ash pinching the phone in between his shoulder and his ear.

You’re weird,” Eiji retorted. 

“You’re weirder,” Ash threw back, working on signing for the packages and paying the person with one hand and 10% of his attention.

“Ash.”

“Yes?” Ash spoke back, taking the phone in his hand at the seriousness at Eiji’s tone.

“Can I go back to sleep?”

“Sure,” Ash smiled, a little relieved. “Take care of yourself and call when you wake up.”

“Will do. Kisses.”

“Kisses to you too,” Ash hung up, looking at the employee who was tapping away at the screen.

“Sorry about that,” Ash smiled, feeling the embarrassed grin on his cheeks. 

“Not at all,” the employee smiled, handing off the receipt. “Sounds like she makes you happy.”

He is pretty amazing,” Ash stated, taking the package in hand. 

The employee didn’t say anything, instead leaving Ash to walk out in judgmental silence. But he didn’t care, not when had a care package waiting for him to open and a lovely boyfriend a phone call away.

Well compensated indeed. 

 

____________________________________

 

It had been about a month and a half since Dino had died. The conglomerate Dino ran had slowly been crumbling to the ground, and after the scandal, the stock prices had dropped the worth of the company to dirt. 

Ash, being the beneficiary of Dino’s funds, found himself in the position of deal-breaking with Dino’s board of directors—a group of fat, self-entitled men with an uncanny resemblance to a certain recently-deceased ringleader.

They agreed the circumstances of Dino’s demise was hurting the company and it would be safer for everyone if they all took what they had left and ran. However, there was one man on Dino’s board, pudgy and balding like the rest, that was insisting on keeping the company running, saying they would come back. Nothing they said swayed his decision, and seeing as he was the chief financial officer, they couldn’t take their shares without getting him on board.

“Is there anything I could do that would convince you to leave the company as it is?” Ash practically pleaded once the rest of the members had left. 

The man thought for a moment. “I wouldn’t mind meet up for dinner, discussing the future of the company.”

Ash grinned, catching sight of his final leg, his last hurtle, his finish line. 

“I would be happy to attend.”

____________________________________

 

“Eiji, why do I have to do everything?” Ash complained to the mirror, a phone line open.

“Because then you don’t have to be a boss if you have money.”

“Yah,” Ash sighed, throwing on a tuxedo that he had rented. It was onyx black with a starch white shirt. It was fit for him, not a hair or feature out of place. (It reminded him of something Dino would buy for him.)

“Well, after you’re done be civilized, call me. I had something-”

“Boss! A limo is here.”

“Eiji I have to go,” Ash called back, tapping his phone off of speaker mode and putting the phone to his ear. “I know I’ll call after...sayanora...okay, I’m sorry, I won’t use that word again...yah, okay BYE.”

Ash ended the call, looking at Cain’s smug expression after Ash aggressively hung up on his boyfriend. 

“So this is it?” Cain asked, walking out with Ash.

“Should be.”

“After this, you’re stepping down?”

“It’s not like I can be the boss for the rest of my life,” Ash shrugged, stepping outside to the purring beast of a limo. 

“No, it’s just...it feels a little too good to be true,” Cain pointed out, as Ash opened the limo’s door. 

“You think?” 

“I don’t know, maybe it’s just me being paranoid.”

Ash looked at the hood of the limo. 

He didn’t want to think about what could go wrong when everything forward was going to be right. Aslan Callenresse had been shoveled under years of daddy issues, trauma, depression, and suicidal tendencies and for the first time in his life, he felt like was finally clawing himself out of that grave. One thing was for sure, Ash was not about to let Cain’s random paranoia crush his newfound optimism. 

“Well, take care,” Ash waved off, climbing into the limo. 

“You too.”

____________________________________

 

Ash clambered out of the limo as gracefully as possible, noticing how away from the towering city he was, the city lights a backsplash to the gated residential area filled with pristine mansions, towering fences, and manicured lawns. The limo had dropped him off at a mansion coated in shining white paint, roman columns, and rigid architecture. It didn’t appeal to Ash’s taste but he was always someone who enjoyed a nice brick building or a worn, moldy apartment—something loved and lived in.

Ash stepped up to the door and rang the doorbell, hearing the chime on the other side of the door. While he waited for someone to admit him in, he fiddled with the bottle of wine he had brought as a peace offering: a smoky pinot noir wine from Dino’s more expensive selection that Ash had been able to find at a local wine store. 

A maid opened the door, smiling brilliantly and welcoming him in. She was a pretty thing; perfectly constructed bun, delicate hazel eyes, youthful. Actually, she looked was fairly young to be a maid, maybe in her high twenties and low thirties. 

The maid took the bottle and told him Mr. Jameson would love it, checking the label and setting it down on a nearby table. 

“Mr. Jameson is finalizing the dinner plans. He’ll be out shortly,” she explained.

“Thank you, Ms-?”

“Ms. Briggs,” she introduced, tucking a stray hair behind her ear and letting a tender blush tickle her cheeks.

“Nice to meet you, Ms. Briggs,” Ash held out his hand, pressing a kiss to her hand like a gentleman.

He finally had a moment to take in his surroundings, Ms. Briggs going through her tour of the home: its history, its celebrities, its worth. She constantly looked back at Ash and once he would make eye contact, she would go back to gesture to all of the artwork, the architecture, the various rooms, her voice more enthusiastic. 

Ash was aware that the woman was flirting with him, catching her eyes flitting to his ring finger and back up to exchange a warm smile. If Ash hadn’t already signed away his heart, his affection, his soul, his PTSD, his desperate need for attention, and his many oversized shirts to Eiji, he probably wouldn’t have felt guilty about asking her out to dinner. But he loved his boyfriend with all of his being, and no one and nothing would destroy that.

Ash continued to walk through the home, thinking of Dino’s mansion with its endless, carpeted hallways and intricate layout. It felt about the same, boasting a three-story library, a few spare homes on the premise, and several centuries of extensions and renovations. In Ash’s direct eyes was the burgundy carpet, crystal chandelier, various expensive artworks: family portraits and paintings in golden frames and priceless vases filled with bouquets of anemone, rhododendron, tansy, and hollyhock.

(Ash had gotten quite good at identifying flowers after spending time with Nadia.)

“Mr. Callenresse, a pleasure to see you,” Mr. Jameson greeted, stepping out of an empty hallway.

“Pleasure to see you too,” Ash shook, feeling the pressure of the Mr. Jameson’s sweat palm. 

“I apologize, there were some matters I had to deal with,” Mr. Jameson spoke, pulling out a cigar from his breast pocket of his jacket.

“Everything work out well?” Ash asked politely, watching Mr. Jameson light the cigar and smoke inside without a care. After all, it wasn’t his job to pleasurable; it was Ash’s job.

“Yes, everything was sorted out in the end.”

“I hope my presence isn’t much of a burden on you,” Ash excused politely, going through his mental checklist for flattery. 

Make them feel good. Put yourself down. Ask about themselves. Come off as insecure. Don’t be an asshole.

“Not at all. Your company is most welcome. Come, the first course should be out soon.”

Ash followed Mr. Jameson to the spotless dining room, a white table cloth set with candles, a chandelier of intricate glass, and a dark wood interior to wrap the setting in a civilized, formal feeling. There were already two bottles on the table; the one Ash had brought and another expensive brand Ash had had once. 

“I hoped we could have a sip of wine before we get started on the dealings,” Mr. Jameson explained, uncorking his selection. “Have you ever had this?”

“No sir, I do not think I’ve had this bottle before,” Ash lied, swirling the wine around as if to check for its sediment.

“It’s quite expensive,” Mr. Jameson bragged. “A bottle of this goes for about twenty five million dollars.”

Normally, Ash wouldn’t have flinched at the numbers. He had handled far more than that, but was playing pleasant guest, so he had to acted surprised, pretend to refuse the cup, say he wasn’t worth the price.

But something was going on funny in Ash’s head. His fingers were starting to feel fuzzy and his feet morphed into flippers.

“I’m terribly sorry sir, but do you have I’ve just come down with something. Is there anyway you could get me a ride home? We can-”

“No.”

Ash’s vision was tilting, but he could still feel the hand steadying his lulling head as his limbs slowly stopped working properly.

“Wha?”

“When I heard Dino Golzine left a son, I knew you weren’t biological,” Mr. Jameson explained. “You were too beautiful to be Dino’s. No, you are something else, aren’t you?”

Ash’s head was starting to fill with static but his eyes closed, but he swore that past the static, past the cotton in his ears, past the hunger in Mr. Jameson’s eyes, he heard Cain’s voice speak.

It feels a little too good to be true. 

 

____________________________________

 

Aslan Callenresse, known leader of the gangs in New York, had been called in missing by a concerned citizen. According to the citizen, a Max Lobo, Ash had been missing for five days now, last seen in a rented tuxedo on his way to a dinner with a business associate. The police were hesitant to help until two detective vouched for Ash, setting off a raid that consisted of two dozen officers.

When the police crashed in, the young man had been sprawled naked out on the bed and compliant with the officers and medical staff on the scene. 

Henry Jameson was arrested for sexual assault and kidnapping (and thrown in the back of a cop car with not a stitch on his body).

Aslan Callenresse gave a detailed account how he had been drugged, restrained, and molested several times during the past four days (he didn’t even realize it was four days). He hadn’t had food, water, and after admitting his statement, he didn’t speak to anyone. 

Aslan Callenresse was admitted to a hospital. He was treated for dehydration, malnutrition, and a small anal tear.

After seventeen hours, Aslan Callenresse was released from the hospital and the police had completed their report and filed charges. 

 

____________________________________

 

Ash was standing back in his clothes from several days prior. 

It felt laughable, standing where he was five days ago talking with Cain about how all of this was too easy. 

Now look at him. 

He was back to being a shell of a human being. 

Not really human. No...something less.

It felt like he was too open. Despite how he now had clothing on his back, it all felt too bare. His instincts were screaming at him, screaming that he had eyes trained all over his back. All the nerves on his neck pricked from the waves of wind, like they could sense the ghost floating around him. Even his finger tip coursed with uneasy, looking for something to pull, to tear, to tighten. 

Everything felt wrong. He couldn’t distinguish up from down, darkness to light, existing to living. He wasn’t sure if he was blinking or breathing or circulating blood. His body felt like it was standing in front of another building, on another block, in another city, but his mind was stuck here, looking at the brick building he was calling home.

Ash didn’t remember walking up the stairs to the living room. Only that he got there. 

He felt Alex, Sing, Cain, Bones, Kong and three other gang members, all staring at him. Analyzing him, trying to make sense of him, trying to burn their eyes straight through his soul.

Sing had always been the quickest to jump. He was the first one out of his seat, running towards Ash like he as going to embrace him.

But all Ash could feel was the press of heat, the people rushing towards him, the breathes, the alcohol, the sweat, the skin, and he panicked. 

Coursing with adrenaline, he backed up and pulled the switch knife, slicing where Sing’s face would be, cutting under his eyes and across his nose, through the cartilage and nerves and nicking against the bone.

Ash didn’t hear the curse that slipped from Sing’s mouth, only saw as the outreaching hands coming to his bleeding nose, how his eyes scrunched up from the pain and tears mixed with the blood on his face, the crowd looking at him in disgust, despair, pity, shame, terror, fear.

And then Aslan saw the switch knife connected to his hand. 

And he ran.

 

____________________________________

 

The door to Ash’s room slammed, everyone tending to Sing’s cut nose. 

“Damn, he got me good,” Sing laughed, clutch the air for something to stem the bleeding. Someone handed him a clump of paper towels.

“What was dat for?” Kong grumbled, holding the towels down delicately where Sing was trying to hold them down.

“Something bad happened. Do you think we could get in touch with Max and see if he knows anything?” Cain asked Alex.

“Sure I could reach out.”

Alex was about to dial up Max when there was a loud clatter in the hallway made everyone jump, followed by a door slamming. 

“Jesus, wha was dat?” Bones asked, Alex getting up to check. 

Ash’s door was shut, but there was a new dent in the wall and Ash’s phone, laying facedown on the ground a few meters away, lining up with the trajectory of the hole in the wall.

As Alex walked up to pick it up, he heard it. Ash’s crying. Loud enough to hear through the door. Ash Lynx, crying. It sounded so heart-wrenchingly human, Ash’s tears. Sure, Alex and the crew had seen him quiet or stuck in his head, but always put an unbreakable seal on his emotions. Maybe he didn’t feel the need to be strong around them, Alex thought hopefully, or maybe this time was so much worse then whatever else had happened...

Alex picked up the phone, swallowing the lump in his throat, and flipping over the phone. The screen was obviously cracked but it seemed to still work. When Alex hit the home button he saw what Ash was crying about.

 

 

Missed Calls (34) - (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ                                now

Missed Call and Voicemail

 

Messages (202) - (づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ                                  1h ago

Slide to See Notifications

Sunshine please talk to me

 

SNAPCHAT                                                                3h ago                              

from nori bitch

 

Missed Calls (21) - dumb pink (alex)                      17h ago

Missed Call

 

Messages (11) - dumb pink (alex)                           1d ago

Slide to See Notifications

I’m seriously about to call the police can you please answer your damn phone?

 

TWITTER                                                                    2d ago

nori4life

Direct Message: Ash, please, I don’t know what I did wrong. I don’t know if you hate me or why, but can we please work through this together?

 

INSTAGRAM                                                                2d ago

norinori1984: Different body, same mind.

 

INSTAGRAM                                                              2d ago

norinori1984: I can’t lose you Ash. You’re part of me. 

 

INSTAGRAM                                                                 2d ago

norinori1984: I’m trying to be patient but Ash, I’m so tired. No one knows where you are and I am terrified. 

 

INSTAGRAM                                                               2d ago

norinori1984: I’m sorry

 

INSTAGRAM                                                                 2d ago

norinori1984: What did I do wrong? Was it because I decide to put my education first? Are you mad that I have a life and you don’t have one? Is that it?

 

Messages (3) - crackhead jr (sing)                             2d ago

Slide to See Notifications

Look dude, people are worried, can you please just call?

 

Missed Calls (7) - crackhead jr (sing)                         2d ago

Missed Call

 

Messages (1) - able (cain)                                           4d ago

Alex said you didn’t get home last night?

 

Ash’s phone rang again, a candid picture of Eiji waving underwater flashed onto the screen. The water was green and the quality was amazing, showing off his smiling face and whispers of midnight brown hair that spiked out from Eiji’s head. 

Alex looked at Ash’s door, almost checking to see if he had permission, took a deep breathe, and put the phone to his ear.

“Hello?”

“ASH?!” Eiji shouted from the other end of the phone.

“No, sorry, it’s Alex,” Alex responded, stepping away from the door to handle yet another crisis.

“Alex, is Ash safe?” Eiji asked, straight to the point.

“Yah, he just made it home. Reaped alotta chaos when he got back though.”

The receiver on the end picked up more static and clattered a moment later, followed by a steady relief of Japanese. 

“Can I talk to him? Please?” Eiji plead, sounding just as desperate as his text.

“I don’t think he’s takin company for a while,” Alex explained, glancing in the direction of Ash’s door. He settled himself on a window sill on the far side of the hallway while he talked to Eiji.

“What do you mean? What happened?” 

The state Eiji was in. He sounded so concern, frantic, truthfully hysterical.

(Alex was aware how Eiji had a delicate heart towards Ash, just as Ash did for him. After all, Ash Lynx doesn’t beat up many people in the name of someone else, but if anyone dared to call his boyfriend anything worse than ‘that Japanese kid,’ he would would be glad to show them who the boss was. [A guy called Eiji the f-word and almost lost his dick in the process. Ash was visibly fuming for the rest of the day and banished him from New York. No one knows where he is now.])

“We don’t know. He just showed back up after disappearing for five days. We hadda get Max to call the police but we were aboutta check with him when Ash threw his phone.”

Eiji was quiet on the other side, the thinking almost audible. 

“What happened when he showed back up?” Eiji finally asked, cautious of his words.

“He looked like a mess. Like he came home from a night of partyin too much. Everyone’s just happy to see him alive but what got everyone was when Sing runs up. Usually Ash doesn’t care about Sing being Sing, right? But as soon as Sing was in arm's length, Ash cut him, on his damn nose. Lotta blood, lotta cursing, and as soon as Ash was there, he was gone. Like a ghost. It was a little terrifying. He’s in his room now, but...I swore I heard him crying.”

Eiji was thinking for a moment before he gasped. 

“Oh korosuzo please don’t be what I think it is,” Eiji grumbled, following a string of harsh Japanese. 

“Eiji, what are you thinking?” Alex pressed, unsure what to do with the groaning mess of a man. 

Eiji seemed to get all of the cursing out his system before the line went too quiet for too long.

“Hello?”

“Yah, sorry,” Eiji sniffled, making a sound of displeasure. His voice sounded rawer, more torn up, like he had been crying. 

“Whatta yuh think happened?” Alex asked carefully, unsure if he wanted to know what Eiji was predicting.

“I don’t think you’re going to like it.”

“Well fuck, it’s not like I got any otha info!” Alex shouted, realizing his mistake as soon as it left his mouth.

“You don’t think I fucking know how that feels?!” Eiji lashed out, voice rising in volume and anger. “I’ve gotten radio silence for five days. No calls, no text, no video chats. I’m halfway across the world and you’re complaining about lack of information?!”

“Eiji-”

“Alex,” Eiji started, his voice sounding less angry and more desperate, more yearning, more hurt. “I can’t sleep. I can’t eat. I can’t function because all I can think about is what happened or if he’s dead and now...I should have here from him. I should have not come back to Japan. I should have ran away with Ash from the hospital-”

“Eiji, stop. You soundin like a crazy person.” In all honesty, Alex was flailing. Eiji was more out of control than he would have expected answering this call (he didn't know what he had expected but definitely not this). Alex had vainly hoped to tell him what had happen, give him over to Max, and then have married man deal with the relationship advice. Alex was aware that Eiji had a right to be insane, but damn was it scary. 

“I feel like I’m going crazy! I can’t stand this! I can’t stand myself. I should have been there now.”

“Eiji, no. You still gotta go to school,” Alex attempted to calm, but apparently, that added more fuel to the flame.

“Fuck school! It’s not like Ash isn’t already rich. I don’t need an education.”

Fuck this, time to man up. “Eiji, calm down. This is gettin outta hand and you need to take a deep breathe." Alex was aware how harsh it sounded, so he prefaced it with, "clearly, you’re going through some stuff and I don’t blame you...Just, take a deep breathe.”

The several deep breathe passed through the receiver.

Until Eiji's breathing started to shake, and fall into a pattern of broken breathing. A thunk heard on the other end of the phone line. 

“I miss him,” Eiji’s voice cracked, followed by more breathy noises.

Oh... Alex realized. Eiji's crying...

“I miss him so much,” Eiji repeated, like he needed to prove his love. Like he couldn't express all of that in all of his two hundred and two message and thirty four calls.

“I know. He misses you too." 

They all knew it was true. It was why the boss smiled brighter days before he left for Japan every few weeks. It was why the boss frowned darker after he came back. It was why they sent jackets back and forth in the mail. It was why the boss was attached to his phone all of the time, constantly sending text messages, pictures, memes, consistently calling and videochating at absurd hours of the night. Sometimes, the clothing, the words, the pictures, they bring you closer to each other, even when you're halfway across the world.

“He’s always there for me, now I’m not there for him.”

“It’s okay Eiji. I’m sure he understands.”

Eiji tried taking a deep breathe. Maybe to center himself, Alex doesn't know. (He hasn't dealt with this much emotion since he broke up with Ella Monroe, and that was three years ago.)

The breathes were shaky, but they were breathes all the same.

“...I think Ash got raped.”

“What?” Alex stumbled, a small panic building in his chest. 

“Ash, he..." Eiji sighed, collecting whatever was built up in his chest, and pushing out the air. "He doesn’t talk about it but if something sets him off, he get snappy or runs away. Gets panicked super easily. Doesn’t like to be touched...It just sounded like what happened with Sing.” 

Alex ran through the scenario with the context in mind. It made sense; Sing did almost jump on him and before Alex could look up, Ash was gone, but to have the instinct to cut a person? 

“Okay, but has he ever hurt you during one of these states?” Alex asked, fearing the answer at the other end.

The silence all but confirmed Alex’s question.

“It wasn’t his fault."

“Like hell it is!” Alex yelled, angry at himself, at Ash, at the damn world. Ash almost cut Sing's nose in two! And that shit wasn't getting healed with the power of love (whatever fucked up love those two had). “First he hurts you, now Sing, what’s next? Murder?!”

“YOU HAVE NO IDEA WHAT YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT!” Eiji screamed into the phone, set off like a pack of C-4.  “HE’S TRAUMATIZED! HE’S BEEN RAPED SINCE HE WAS SIX! GIVE HIM A FUCKING BREAK!”

Eiji panted out the last of his anger, slowly letting the tension in his lungs out. Alex waited to hear the drone of static before he deemed it was safe to talk. 

“I’m sorry Eiji.”

“I’m sure you are,” Eiji bit back, clearly not in the mood anymore to be comforted by Alex. 

“Do you need me to get you in touch with Max?” Alex asked, clearly deferring emotional support to Max. Max and Eiji were closer, and clearly Alex is out of his emotional depth.

“Sure.”

“Okay, I’ll send you his number...I’m really sorry Eiji, I’m just worried about him.”

“I know,” Eiji sighed. “I’m sorry for blowing up at you. Just, you don’t need to be his right-hand man, just be his man.”

“I thought you were his man,” Alex teased, Eiji sighing again on the other end. “Too soon?”

“A little.”

“I’m sorry man.”

“It’s okay. We’ll get through this." There was a lull in the silence, like a build up to something. "And, when I said it wasn’t his fault-”

“Forget it," Alex waved off, tired of fighting. (Knives and guns were easier to deal with than tears and shouting.) "As long as no one dies, we won’t talk about it.”

“Okay…”

“...Is there something else you want to say?” Alex asked, sensing the words on the tip of Eiji’s tongue. 

There was shifting on the other side of the phone line. 

“I’m studying abroad next trimester.”

“Really?” Alex startled.

Because that mean Eiji was coming back. Eiji would be back in America. 

It sounded exciting, seeing Eiji again. Two years and all they had to show of him was whatever Ash had gotten. Maybe a few scattered photographs between Bones and Kong but there was little physical evidence. Just the jackets, the pens, the short-lived candies. But having the physical person there was going to fun; maybe not as fun as it use to be and significantly less life-threatening, but still exciting.

“Yah. At a campus in New York. I was going to tell Ash, but...it doesn't matter. I’m still coming.”

“When will you be here?”

“In two week.”

“Well, send us your info. We’ll send a greeting committee.” 

“It’s okay, I’ll come to you all. Easier for one person to move around than a group of people.”

Alex didn’t fight back from Eiji’s politeness; he sounded like he had any fight left in him. After all, he had plead, cried, screamed, and consoled all in one phone call—anyone would be emotionally spent.

“I guess...Okay, I’m going to check on Sing,” Alex spoke, setting himself off of the windowsill. It was pretty dusty and now had a shoe print and a butt imprint.

“Okay, text me with any news.”

“Okay. Take care Eiji.”

“You too.”

(づ ̄ ³ ̄)づ

[Call Ended 1:02:32]