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April, Come She Will, or For the Record

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April, come she will,

[video loading...]

“Hello? Is this thing on? I think so.

My name is Okumura Eiji. It’s April 17th, 1987- for the record. I’ve heard that’s something they say here. 

I just arrived in America! The city- New York, isn’t it?- is enormous. Larger than anything in Japan. Everyone is moving all the time and no one says excuse me. This city makes me a little bit nervous. But who wouldn’t be?

I’m not entirely sure why I’m here, though. Ibe brought me along as his assistant as a way to get me out of Japan and I’m grateful for that. I don’t really know what that means for me, but it’s better than being at home. His project sounds really interesting too! Like, who else has gotten firsthand experience with American street gangs? I think I should be a little more scared than I am considering I’m diving headfirst into this world I know nothing about, but I’m just excited! I don’t think anything too bad will happen since we’re just in gang territory on business.

We begin tomorrow with a gang leader named Ash. I can only imagine what he looks like. Ibe said he’s nothing to be afraid of, but I’m not sure. Everything I’ve seen on gang leaders, on TV and in movies and stuff, all make them out to be big scary men. That’s another reason I should probably be a little more afraid than I am, but I just can’t. They’re people just like me. How much different can we be?

Either way, I hope everything comes out okay. If there’s no video for tomorrow… suppose I’m kidnapped or dead! Eiji, signing off.”

[click]

When streams are ripe and swelled with rain…

[video loading…]

“It’s Eiji. It’s April 18th, 1987- for the record.

Today was the first day of Ibe’s new project. Um… sorry, I have no idea what to say about today.

Ash is… nothing like I thought he would be. He was my age- younger than me, even! And he’s a gang leader! And- and he’s really pretty. He’s really pretty. That was the strangest thing. He was so pretty and his eyes were so pretty but there was so much pain behind them. I just wish I could help him. I want to get to know him. I want to help take that pain away. He shouldn’t be feeling that much hurt at his age…

I’m talking to myself. What am I even saying? I think I’m just tired.. Yeah, that’s it. I’m exhausted and I’m talking weird because I don’t know what I’m saying. Maybe that’s enough for today. Maybe I need some sleep. Yeah, that’s what I need.

Oh! But before I go, Ash let me touch his gun. An actual gun! That shoots! I’ve never handled one before! It was lighter than I thought it would be, and Ash didn’t mind helping me. He didn’t laugh too much when I didn’t know how to do anything. He was so gentle and...

No! No! That’s enough! Go to sleep!”

[click]

May, she will stay…

[video loading]

“Eiji again. It’s May 6th, 1987. For the record.

A lot has happened. 

Remember how I said I wanted to get closer to Ash?

I did. Listen to this.

We live together now. How’s that? We are living together and I haven’t even known him for a month.

I’m not complaining, though. He’s a wonderful housemate and just as good a person as I thought even if he doesn’t believe that. We’re working on it. 

And I suppose it’s better for both of us that this is how it is. Considering he got arrested, I got kidnapped, and we both almost died. A couple of times. But that’s too long a story to get into right now. It’s been a bit of a wild month

I’m slowly understanding the hurt in his eyes too. He told me about his past, or some of it, and it just makes me want to hold him and never let go. That sounds so cheesy, doesn’t it? I don’t mind. Ash is out on “business” anyway, business because he never tells me what he and the gang are doing. Either way, it means he can’t tease me for this. I just hope he never finds these. I’d never hear the end of it.

Oh, is that the door? It’s probably Ash. I’d better go greet him before he thinks I died. We’re working on that too.

Ash? Hi! How was-“

[click]

Resting in my arms again…

[video loading]

“May 20th, 1987. It’s 2 in the morning, so I have to be quiet, because-

[camera shifts down]

Look! Ash Lynx, asleep, hugging me!

He usually never lets me touch him. Not often, anyway. And he certainly never touched me first. I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for someone. Or for me. I can’t say that there’s not a little bit of selfishness behind this video. 

[interference]

Ash, sh. Sh, sh sh, I’m here. Did I wake you up?”

[click]

June, she’ll change her tune.

[video loading]

“June 12th, 1987. Um… How am I even supposed to talk about this?

Ash.. he wants me to leave. To go back to Japan.

I don’t understand why! I mean, he says it’s because “he wants to keep me safe”, but that’s bullshit! Bull fucking shit! I’ve told him over and over again I’m not useless. I can handle my own. But he refuses to listen! He just says I should go back, over and over again, until I get angry and he has to leave and then I feel guilty because what if something happens and he never comes home and the last thing I said to him is- is angry.

That’s why I can’t leave. This is home. Here, with him. Waiting for him to return and hugging him when he does. 

I don’t know when home started to feel like this. I don’t know when I started to revolve my life around Ash Lynx. I don’t know when I started to… to want his company all the time. To want to hang onto him every time he leaves so he won’t. To want to go with him so I know he’s safe. I can’t stand not knowing if he’s safe.

But Ibe agrees. He thinks we should go. We should just leave everyone we’ve come to know here just so we can be safe. I don’t want to be safe if they aren’t. If-if Ash isn’t.

And I know it’s dangerous here. I’m not saying I’m as able to protect myself as Ash is. I’m not saying I belong here, in-in Ash’s world. I’m not even saying I want to. But I want to stay anyway. 

I’ll talk to him about it when he comes back. I’ll make him understand that I’m not leaving, no matter how much he pushes me away.”

[click]

In restless walks, she’ll prowl the night…

[video loading]

“June 25th, 1987. I’m not entirely sure where we are, but the important thing is that Ash has finally dropped the subject of me returning to Japan! For the most part, anyway. I think he still believes it’s safer for me there. Which isn’t entirely wrong, considering we’re in some underground bunker with gangs who could probably kill each other and me at any time. Either way, I insisted I wasn’t going, but I asked Ash to come with me when I do. His face got so red when I said that! I wish I had filmed it. He looked really cute then. 

I think he’s considering it though! I’m even teaching him some Japanese tonight! Speaking of which, I should probably go find him. He might change his mind if I don’t sit him down and hold him there. 

See you later!”

[click]

July, she will fly,

[no video available. searching for next available video feed]

And give no warning to her flight…

[video loading]  

“Hi. I’m Okumura Eiji. A little worse for wear, but it’s still me. It’s July 16th, 1987. 

I’m leaving. I’m going to Japan. Saying I’m going home still isn’t right.

But on the bright side, Ibe is my servant! I’m a little laid up at the moment, so he’s got to push me around. Ibe, say hi!

Ibe! Say hi! 

Hm? Who’s on the phone?

[interference]

He- what? What do you mean?

[muffled voices. Interference]

No. No, there’s no way. He’s not... He can’t. There’s no way.

[interference]

Turn around. No, Ibe, turn this chair around right fuc-“

[click]

August, die she must…

[video loading]

“Ash. It’s Eiji. I’m making this for when you wake up. I know you will. A little stab wound isn’t enough to take you down! Because you’re Ash Lynx, fearsome gang leader, and you’ve been through more than this.

But… Oh, God, but you know what? You aren’t a gang leader. I mean, you are, but you’re more than that. So much more. You hold such a burden on your back without asking for anyone’s help. You shoulder it all on your own when you didn’t even need to because you didn’t want to burden anyone else. Don’t you know you aren’t a burden, Ash? You aren’t a burden. You don’t deserve what happened to you. And we want to help! I want to help. If you’ll let me.

You’re the bravest man I’ve ever met in my life. You know that? No matter what, you throw yourself in the line of fire every time. Especially for your friends. Especially for.. for me. It broke my heart to see you do that. And then the one time you needed me, I was leaving. I was about to leave , Ash. Imagine if I had. I’d have never known you were here. I would’ve just wondered about you from a million miles away and wanted you the same way I did when I was here.

And another thing. You’ve been through hell and back and still find it inside you to be a good person. A kind person. You say that you aren’t, yes, and you put up this freezing cold facade, but you care. For me and everyone else. You wouldn’t be the leader you are otherwise. 

Maybe one day I’ll show you the rest of these tapes. Just to show you everything that you are. To tell how much you mean to me. Because you mean so much to me and I never was able to tell you. Now I’m a scene out of some cliche soap opera, confessing my feelings in the hospital room to a person who can’t hear it because it’s the only way I can confront them. 

What are my feelings? There’s a word for them. I know what it is. I want to say it. I want to tell you so badly. But I refuse to let this be that scene from a soap opera. I want to save it for when you’re awake. This time, I think I will film your reaction. I don’t want to miss a moment with you anymore.

So wake up soon, okay? I’ll be waiting. However long it takes.”

[click]

The autumn winds blow chilly and cold…

[video loading]

“Eiji.. Jesus Christ, get off! And stop filming everything!”

[off camera] “But you’re smiling!”

“Yeah, maybe I am. So what?”

[off camera] “I love it when you smile!”

“Shut up.“

[off camera] “You know you love it!”

“I know I love you!”

[off camera] “...Well, I love you more!”

“Oh, really? Prove it!”

[click]

[end of available video feeds. Press START to replay.]

September, I remember…

Eiji is settled on the couch, nestled in Ash’s side. His heart is warm, like the tears threatening to spill over his cheeks. Watching those videos always tug at his heartstrings. Feeling Ash’s body, alive and okay, next to him, was something he thought he’d never have, and yet here they were- living together in Japan, decades removed from their gang ties. Though they often visited New York, they always returned home.

Home. Home was Japan once again. Home was in Ash’s arms as they cooked together, or hand in hand as Eiji showed him the wonders of his country. Home was them, together, no matter where, no matter what.

And right now, home was on their couch, watching videos that compressed months of pain and sorrow into minutes of looking back on how much had changed and how far they’d come.

“So,” Ash stated, startling Eiji out of his thoughts. “You thought I was pretty?”

Eiji looked at his husband incredulously. “Really? You see the video of me pouring my heart and souls out to you on what could’ve been your deathbed and that’s your takeaway?”

Ash chuckled. “Well anyway, I thought you were the prettiest boy I’d ever seen.”

Thought?!  What’s with the past tense?”

“Well…” Ash smirked as Eiji stood up indignantly.

“Oh, don’t start with me, you little-”

He laughed, stopping Eiji short. Ash grabbed his hands and pulled him close, laying his head on his shoulder.

“You’re the most beautiful man I’ve ever seen. That’s what’s with the past tense.”

The black-haired man couldn’t help but melt at those words. It never took much of Ash’s sweet talk for him to cave, after all. “I love you. So much. Just for the record.”

Ash burrowed closer into his neck, his voice muffled as he confessed, “I love you more.”

“Oh really?” Eiji smirked, biting his lip. “Then prove it.”

And Ash did. Over and over and over again. 

It was May once again, and so it would be for the rest of their lives.

A love once new has now grown old.