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Viper's Nest (13-Finale)

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Ash and Shorter have no other choice but to head back to your apartment and regroup. Now that Ash knows where Eiji is he is determined to rescue him at all costs. They head back to your apartment with haste, and let themselves in with Shorter's key. When they open the door they find someone other than you sitting in your living room and Ash throws his knife at the supposed intruder without even looking to identify who the intruder is; Blanca anticipating Ash's aggression defends himself by blocking the knife with a book he had laying on the coffee table.

"I see I caught you at a bad time, Ash."

Ash, now realizing who is speaking, feels remorseful for attacking so suddenly, "Sorry." As Ash is heading over to the kitchen to separate himself with his thoughts Blanca walks over to Shorter who is closing the door behind him, "I apologize for the intrusion. I had some business with your Lotus tonight."

"Where is she?" Shorter asks.

"She went to sleep about an hour ago."

"Then why are you still here?" Shorter stared at Blanca with fierce eyes. Ash was on the same wavelength with Shorter and stared at Blanca as well waiting for Blanca to answer.

"I was actually waiting for you two. Ash, I assume you were in pursuit of Rolando and Jamie?"

Ash starts to speak with his arms folded, "Yeah, but shit happened. Rolando and Jamie are dead. Dino managed to hire mercenaries and they have Eiji. He wants me to go to his charity auction which is happening two nights from now; since he is holding Eiji hostage I have no choice but to go. That's where we're at right now."

Blanca walks over to the coffee table which is covered with papers, a tea cup, your laptop (that he managed to unlock), and of course a book he was reading with Ash's knife now bound to it. He gets a few papers from the table and hands them to Ash, "The 'charity auction' you were invited to is not what it seems." Blanca sits back down in the living room and continues, "This charity auction is actually a cover for a black market auction for the now completed 'Banana Fish' as well as selling children to the highest bidder."

As Blanca was speaking about the auction, Ash went through the papers that were given to him. They were profiles of people that were affiliated with Dino Golzine recently including Eduardo Foxx. Ash can feel his heart rate increase with anger and adrenaline when he saw Foxx's photo. He utters "Foxx" under his breath and Blanca hears Ash.

"Is that someone you know?"

Ash snaps back into the conversation, "Um, no. He was Rolando and Jamie's boss and is working for Dino. He has Eiji." Eiji's distressed state he heard earlier starts to haunt him.

Shorter, who is leaning up against the door, tries to keep Ash from going crazy about losing Eiji, "Ash, you good?"

"Yeah, Shorter. I'm good." Ash looks at the phone with the auction information and asks, "Blanca, it says here that masks are required. Any input on that?"

"The masks are for everyone's protection and privacy. Also, this keeps the auction unbiased as no one will know who is there to get their hands on any of the items sold."

"So not only is it an auction; it's a masquerade party too, huh? Pfft...fuckin' Golzine."

"All of this is for his financial and personal endeavor to join in the political race to become Governor in the next election. With selling 'Banana Fish' alone could raise him enough money to run a campaign; the other financial gains are extra."

"If Golzine gets his hands on all of New York he'll run it to the ground."

Shorter adds, "All of us would have to run for cover. He'll make damn sure to take us all out and takeover every turf in the five boroughs...Chinese Mafia, Black Sabbath, you name it."

"Fuck that. We gotta stop this and save Eiji" Ash says with the utmost determination.



"What's up, Eiji?"

"Come to Japan with me. You wouldn't need to kill to survive, and you could live a normal life."

"Heh...I envy people that can live a normal life. I don't know if I could. I've been in this messed up world for so long."

"You can change your fate. I can help you" Eiji offers his hand to Ash. Ash goes to take Eiji's hand until Foxx appears behind Eiji. Ash takes his gun and aims it towards Foxx as he screams for Eiji, but is fatally shot as his body hits the ground and blood starts to pool around him. Eiji couldn't speak and tries to run to Ash, but Foxx drags him further and further away until Ash's body is out of his sight. Eiji manages to yell...


Eiji suddenly wakes up in a candlelit room bound to a bed in what seems to be a spacious room given he can hear his heavy breathing echo from wall to wall. He thought he was alone until he heard Foxx's voice bounce off the walls with a terrifying vibration...

"Are you finally awake, my little blue bird?"

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Eiji's heart pounds as he hears the deep resonating voice fill the room with trepidation, however he cannot see Foxx in the pitch black that hovers over the candlelight around the bed. Foxx falls silent and indulges in the fear taking over the helpless Japanese boy. Eiji's erratic breathing that echoes in the darkness, the sound of the rope tightening onto his skin as he struggles to break free, and his doe-like eyes that flicker with the light catching every bit of adrenaline and paranoia sends chills down Foxx's spine as he just stands there breaking Eiji from the inside with just the mere sound of his voice. Foxx starts to move around and Eiji hears his boots slowly walk across the floor; he finally reveals himself to Eiji at the foot of the bed with a devilish stare.

"Don't be frightened, Eiji..." Foxx walks from the foot of the bed to the side of the bed where the candles are sitting on the nightstand, "...Papa Dino gave me strict orders to not touch you...not one finger."

Foxx takes his pointer finger and drags it alongside Eiji's body barely touching him. Eiji could tell in his eyes that he wanted to break so many rules, but the restraint of his actions made him more aroused than losing control which scared Eiji the most.

Foxx stops his finger and tells Eiji as he chuckles, "You know they say a game without any rules is never fun. Dino knows how to ruffle my feathers, but I'm always up for a challenge." With his other hand Foxx takes his knife out of his pocket and the loud click of it being armed startles Eiji.

Foxx asks with a sweet tone, "Would you like to play a game with me, Eiji?"

Eiji builds up enough courage to say, "When Ash saves me and finds you, you'll be sorry you've ever captured me let alone crossed paths with him."

The knife's edge is dragged softly onto Eiji's pale skin starting from his neck down towards his pink buttoned up shirt collar. "Oh, I know Ash will come try to save you..." Foxx says as he slowly takes the knife and slips it under the first button,"...but not tonight."

The knife cuts the button away and reveals more of Eiji's collarbone. The knife slips under the next button but Eiji can feel the cold steel against the hot surface of his skin. Eiji's breathing becomes more erratic the deeper Foxx presses the knife onto his skin and even catches himself from making distressing noises. Foxx quickly lifts the knife to cut away the next button and receives a yelp from Eiji. Foxx chuckles out of excitement...

"Both you and Ash are very interesting. How does a sweet, little bird as innocent as you tame a fearsome wildcat like him?" Foxx moves onto the next button which is near Eiji's navel, "It's a shame that you won't last long in our world...unless...that is..."

Foxx teases Eiji's navel as he makes circles around it with the knife's edge, "...if you'd like to stay with me I would keep you alive so you can be with Ash for the rest of your days."

"And live to be your slaves? In the words of my best friend...Go fuck yourself."

Foxx's smile turns into a frown after hearing Eiji's reaction. With that, he roughly pulls the knife away cutting the button as well as unbuttoning the rest of the shirt exposing Eiji's entire torso without cutting him. He then raises the knife in the air high up for Eiji to see; Eiji can't help but think if his words now have cost him his life as he closes his eyes and fears for the worst. Foxx proceeds to stab the bed close to Eiji's side having the knife placed there for safe keeping. When Eiji opens his eyes he sees Foxx with one of the lit candles and is looking at him with devious intent.

"I see you have some fire in you." Foxx hovers the candle over Eiji and tips it slightly as he pours a small stream of wax onto Eiji's chest. The heat from the wax starts to burn on Eiji's skin, and all Foxx hears is the sound of pain echoing back and forth on the hollow walls. Unable to escape, Eiji's attempts to struggle out of his rope restraints are in vain as Foxx continues to look at the Japanese boy writhe around and let the wax trickle down from his chest to his abdomen and his sides. In time the wax cools down and solidifies; Eiji lays exhausted from screaming with tears running down his face. Foxx pulls the knife out from the bed, moves the knife towards Eiji's abdomen, and presses down in the wax. He starts to slowly scrape off the wax from Eiji; the steady and gentle hand seems to be more frightening to Eiji than Foxx's ice cold stare. When Foxx was done scraping all of the wax off from Eiji's body he says in a low tone...

"I have many ways to extinguish that fire. If you push me hard enough there's no telling what I might do. Do we understand each other, Eiji?"

Eiji stares at Foxx angrily while Foxx cleans his knife with Eiji's pant leg; he walks away knowing that training Eiji to submit to him is off to an easy start. He closes the door and is met by a petite, young Chinese boy with feminine features. With his willowy voice he says...

"Are you satisfied?"


"The poor boy. Didn't stand a chance."

"Your plan worked, Yut-Lung. I'm thoroughly impressed by you and your men."

"OUR plan worked, Mr. Foxx." Yut-Lung takes Foxx by the arm as they walk through the lit hallways of Golzine's manor. He leans his head on Foxx's shoulder and becomes affectionate as he closes his eyes in a trusting and loving way. Foxx sees his affections, and kisses Yut-Lung on the forehead.

Yut-Lung continues, "Ricardo and Jamie were an unfortunate loss."

"That played in our favor. They knew the gravity of their assignment and took the necessary risks. Obtaining the Japanese boy was of the utmost importance and they followed through until the end."

"Now, Ash is reduced to a mere house cat. Auction night should go swimmingly for us." Yut-Lung stops walking as he has some insecurity about the events to come, "Mr. Foxx?"

"Yes, Yut-Lung?"

"Once all of this is over you will uphold your end of the bargain, won't you?"

Foxx turns to face Yut-Lung, "I have no reason to betray you, my Moon Dragon. You will get everything you have asked for and more. Don't you worry about that; you have my word." He smiles at the beauty before him and touches his cheek lightly; Yut-Lung smiles back. "For now, we still have gears that need turning. It's getting late; we don't want to keep Papa Dino waiting."

Foxx continues walking ahead to meet with Golzine as Yut-Lung stays standing in the hall watching Foxx with a different expression from before. Yut-Lung can't help but smirk as he was also turning gears, but for his own ambitions. Wu, his assistant, walks up from behind him to speak to him in his native tongue...

(Master Lee, I apologize if I'm interrupting.)

(You're fine, Wu. Foxx just left. What is it?)

(We just got word from the conglomerate that your brother, the Chairman, has decided to attend the auction.)

(Perfect. Did you tell him what I told you exactly?)

(Yes, Master. Was there a reason to lie to your brother about Golzine being a threat to our business?)

(I don't think of it as a lie; more of a half truth. One thing I have learned in this life is there's no such thing as a fair fight. I will let the animals kill themselves over their measly scraps and in the end I will be the only one standing.)

(Even if it means killing your own family?)

Yut-Lung starts to walk, (They were never my family, Wu. Remember that.)

Wu follows behind Him, (Yes, Master Lee.)

While the enemy is moving around him Eiji laid still in the cold bed. In the dark he cried to himself and whispered in vain, "Ash".


"Ash? Ash! Take a look at this." Blanca tries to get the distracted Lynx's attention; Ash was too busy thumbing through the papers that were given to him earlier along with thinking about Eiji. Ash snaps out of his thoughts and heads over to Blanca with Shorter and they both hover over him looking at the laptop.

Blanca continues, "I managed to get a blueprint of the hotel where the event will be held. OK, from what I've gathered the whole hotel is reserved for this auction which makes it easier for us. There will security on all 40 floors including on the ground to secure all entrances and exits. The invited guests are instructed to enter the main entrance of the hotel and staff along with any other persons that are not guests that night to enter the loading dock entrance. All auction items are said to be present on location..."

"Including Eiji?" Ash asked.

"Yes, however the actual location of Eiji, the children, and/or Banana Fish within the hotel is unknown. The safest bet is here in the lower level event space where they are away from public eye. They can be transported secretly through the loading dock entrance without any of the guests knowing. After all items have been sold the highest bidders have the choice to either leave with their prizes or stay in the hotel to use them as they see fit once all financial transactions have been successful of course. This is where we come in; hopefully, we can stop all of this and save Eiji if we have a plan...and have a team."

Ash has been thinking about plans since he first looked at the map, "This seems easy enough, but with this many eyes around we need as many eyes on them as well. The invitation states that there will be a valet service available on the ground floor where they will take guests cars to the garage located behind the hotel across the street. Shorter, think you and your boys can take over the valet and security? We need ground control; be our eyes from the outside."

"I'll handle it", Shorter replies.

"It also states in the invitation that all highest bidders will receive a complimentary suite for them and their prizes to stay for one night; these suites are reserved on the highest 4 floors. Lucky for us, Dino reserved the suites that are located on the east side of the hotel which has not only beautiful views of New York, but several buildings that have beautiful vantage points from any window."

Blanca smiles "Got you covered."

"You and Shorter will both be paid for what we're doing; my word is bond. $500 each when all this is done. Unfortunately, when Blanca leaves the building I won't have any backup."

"What the fuck am I?! Chopped Liver?!" You come from your bedroom wearing only Shorter's yellow hoodie and his extra pair of sunglasses while holding one of Shorter's guns. You cock the gun loaded, "You said you need backup?"

Blanca looks at you and says, "You'd be a perfect fit, Princess."

Shorter starts to laugh and yells, "THIS IS WHY YOU'RE MY GIRL! I FUCKIN' LOVE YOU, LOTUS!"

Ash smiles at you and chuckles, "I think we got ourselves a helluva team."

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Eiji wakes from his sleep in the lit bedroom still weakened after only being given soup to eat for the 2 days he's been at Dino's manor. He has tried to break free from his bondage before, but now can barely even move; all he can do is stay alive for Ash. He hears the door open and not to his surprise sees Foxx coming to check on him.

"How are you feeling, Eiji?" Foxx says with a deviant yet consoling tone. Eiji can't even handle seeing Foxx's face anymore as he quickly turns his head away. Foxx grins accepting Eiji's rejection as consent to keep playing "Cat and Mouse" with him; Foxx calmly sits on the night stand...

"It's OK if you don't look at me. You'll always be able to hear me regardless; there's no running from me, boy."

Eiji responds, "Who says I'm running? I'd just rather see your face when Ash puts a bullet through it. Dino might do it first if he finds out what you've been doing to me. You may be a fox, but you're not clever like one and you'll never get me or Ash to submit to you; not in a million years."

Foxx grabs Eiji's face forcing him to look into his eyes. Eiji can see the rage built up in Foxx, but Eiji would rather keep fighting if it means getting closer to being around Ash again. He can't quit now; he knew Ash wouldn't quit if he was in the same situation. Foxx didn't care that he was breaking a rule set by Dino; all he wants is power and those he considers weak submit unconditionally to him.

Foxx says to Eiji, "I can't wait to clip your wings, little bird. Believe me, when that moment comes I will enjoy every single second of it. Your high and mighty days will be over soon."

"FOXX!" Dino is heard from outside the door as he walks in to see Foxx has disobeyed orders, "It would be wise of you to remember your place."

Foxx releases Eiji from his grasp never dropping eye contact, "My sincerest apologies, Monsieur."

"Now then, the event is going to start soon. We should start preparing him for tonight. Ash has been patiently waiting for him; we better give our Wildcat what he wants. Foxx, I'll leave the preparing to you."

"Yes, Monsieur." Dino leaves to head to the hotel leaving Foxx with Eiji once more. Foxx gains his sanity back and chuckles for the night is about to get more interesting; "By the end of tonight, I will make you regret your actions towards me. You will subservient, you will be obedient, and you will be everything I'll train you to be; Ash will cater to my every whim like the whore he is... and you will join him. Best friends forever."


A black Audi is parked in a nearby parking garage unseen by the guests below that are entering in Dino's hotel. Through the binoculars Blanca is able to see guests more clearly and from the looks of it there are a wide diverse group of people from different nations.

"As expected, this is definitely NOT just your normal charity auction", Blanca passes the binoculars to Ash.

"From some of those body types I can tell who is there regardless of them wearing a mask."

"How can you tell, Ash?" You ask.

"I've slept with them" Ash gives the binoculars to Shorter.

"Valet doesn't look too tight. Me and the boys can handle 'em easy."

Ash responds, "Good. Your boys ready for this, Shorter?"


"Alright. We're counting on you."

Shorter passes the binoculars to you, "There's the 'Life of the Party'. He's got his bodyguards with him, of course, but still no sign of Eiji." To you everyone looks the same; just white collar criminals looking for some entertainment. You pass the binoculars back to Blanca as you all walk back to the car.

Ash continues, "I managed to get some gifts for us tonight thanks to 'The Fly'. Blanca, open the trunk". Blanca opens the trunk and Ash takes out a black briefcase and inside are what appear to be earrings and other accessories.

Ash gives you a pair of earrings and a brooch, and he gives the others respective items to wear. Ash continues, "These are headsets that are customized to look like jewelry and other accessories. Some of the hottest in communication tech; no one will ever suspect anything." Ash wears his earring headset which looks like a set of cascading jade gems that sit along his outer ear; you were rather jealous of the way his looked, but your matching diamond heart set works well with your black cocktail dress. You all do a sound check for each headset and once you were all clear Blanca gives more input on the event...

"The event schedule is going to be slightly flexible to Monsieur's liking; whatever he says goes when it comes to when certain things start and end. Once the auction is about to start I will take my leave and set up my vantage point; you two will be alone to your own devices. Shorter, I will let you know when I'm leaving the party so you can bring the car around. We can do this."

Ash hands out masks, "We got the will (Ash looks at you), the skill (Ash looks at Blanca), the heart (Ash looks at Shorter), and smarts (Ash combs his hair with his fingers). We're ready."

Ash closes the trunk and you all get in the car to head to the auction. Shorter is dropped off nearby to get his guys ready; you, Blanca, and Ash are in the car with the silence haunting your thoughts.


You snap to reality again, "Yeah?"

"You'll be fine tonight. Remember you are not alone; we're all in this together." Blanca says to keep you from being overwhelmed in your insecurity and nervousness. Every member of your team is used to the silence before the action, but not you. It felt maddening to hear your own thoughts in silence even among people you trusted. It helped that Blanca was sitting in the driver's seat next to you holding your hand. He can feel you shaking a bit while you attempt to settle your nerves and take deep breaths. You eventually accept his words in your psyche and felt the nervousness wash away.

"Lotus, baby. Can you hear me?"

"Yeah, Shorter?"

"I love you. I know you're gonna kill it out there. I'll be around." Shorter says through your headset.

"I love you too, Shorter. Be careful." You hold back your emotions from having such a supportive group. You look in the backseat at Ash who is looking outside the window and keeping himself quiet tending to his thoughts.

Ash sees you in his peripheral vision, "We'll be fine; don't overthink it, OK?"

"OK." You give him a smile; he winks back at you, and looks back towards the window. The energy seemed to have picked up and you don't feel as nervous anymore. Blanca sees the hotel in the distance, "We're almost at the hotel. Masks on."

Ash puts on a mask that has the shape of a lynx, you put on a white mask that has a purple lotus beautifully adorned to the side as if the lotus is in your hair, Blanca puts on a classical antique mask, and Shorter with his boys put on black masks.

You all arrive at the hotel and Blanca parks the car curbside for valet. The valet opens the door for all three of you in an elite fashion. You, Blanca, and Ash walk together along the red carpet that is laid out which leads into the main foyer where some of the guests are mingling with each other. One of the female guests comes up to Ash amused by his choice of mask...

"Excuse me, but what kind of cat is your mask?"

"It's a lynx."

"Ah! It's very beautiful. You wouldn't happen to be Ash Lynx, would you?"

"I am he. I'm sure Dino has been putting my name in everyone's ears tonight."

"He most certainly has. With you being his heir, why wouldn't he? Oh, I apologize, I have to go. We will talk at a later date?"

"If the fates allow."

"Have a good evening."

Ash rolls his eyes as he detests being called Dino's heir, and catches a glimpse of you and Blanca staring during his conversation. Blanca smiles, "You took that well, Wildcat. Who taught you how to talk so elegantly?"

"Blanca...I don't need your shit right now."

"I'm just merely complimenting you. I can't compliment my former student for heeding his teacher's advice for once?" Blanca and Ash share looks at each other that resemble a headstrong child talking to his sarcastic father. You can't help but feel the light-hearted energy between the two, and you giggle a bit.

Ash perturbed walks ahead, "Fuck it. Can we just go in?"

Blanca offers his arm to you, "Shall we, Princess?" You take Blanca's arm, and you all walk into the main event area. This area is so big that it is broken into multiple sections: The bar area, the dance floor, and the auction space which has chairs and tables to sit at. You all stand in the doorway surveying the party; from taking quick glances over the crowds there's no way you could be able to pinpoint Dino or even find Eiji.

"I think it's best to temporarily split up to see where the important parties are so we can keep an eye on them", Blanca says to Ash.

"Good idea. You take the auction space, I'll take the dance floor, and Lotus will take the bar. We'll meet at the bar in 30." You all vanish into the crowds of people blending in like chameleons with no one aware of what you and your team are capable of and what you are about to do.

On the outside of the hotel, the lead valet had told one of his coworkers that he was going for a smoke break. The lead valet walks away from the hotel to smoke, and as he's passing a shadowy alleyway he is grabbed and silenced by Shorter. After a few minutes, Shorter comes out of the shadows dressed in the lead valet's uniform, and tells his boys...

"Some of you head over to the valet car garage and the others stay in the area. When you guys are in the garage, you do things quick and quiet, wear their uniform and come back here, you understand?"

His boys in unison reply, "Yeah, Boss."

Blanca, while walking casually around the auction space, manages to spot the VIP table. There he found Dino with Foxx, Yut-Lung, his bodyguard Wu, and Chairman Lee making conversation with each other. He sits down as close as he can to the VIP table without being noticed, and tries to listen in (and lip read) any conversation that he came across.

Yut-Lung chuckling at a compliment that was said earlier, "Monsieur Golzine, you jest! My innocent nature can be rather deceiving. I am most certainly the troublemaker of the family."

Chairman Lee adds, "Speaking of 'troublemakers', Monsieur, I had heard that your heir, Ash Lynx, is attending the auction tonight?"

"Yes, he is, indeed. I have something precious of his that he would like returned back to him. This is a rather special night for the both of us", Dino replies.

Blanca hears what he needed to hear and goes off to find Ash who, so far, has not found anything that furthers his goal of finding Eiji.

"Ash, are you still on the dance floor?" Blanca says through Ash's headset.

"Yeah, did you find something?"

"I found Dino with some familiar faces, pun intended. I'm headed over to you."

You were perusing the guests that were at the bar and didn't see anything of importance. Disappointed you get a drink and wait for the others until a tall, broad shouldered gentleman with a silver, metal mask appeared alongside you asking for a drink as well. He looks at you wondering why you were alone, and he speaks to you, "Are you having a good time, Miss?"

You try to play up your amusement as to not look bored, "Oh yes, very much! I've been to lavish parties, but not to one this grandiose."

The silver masked man chuckles, "It is a bit on the large side. A person can get lost if not careful." You both share a light hearted laugh as you happen-chance stare into each other's eyes. You wonder who this guy is, and why he's taking a liking to you.

Meanwhile, Blanca managed to meet up with Ash on the dance floor, but in order to not look suspicious they danced while they were speaking to each other.

"What did you find, Blanca?"

"Dino is looking forward to seeing you as well as a few others it seems like. He's got more on his team than we thought."

"That's no big surprise, what else?"

"He said it was a big night for the both of you."

"The both of us?"

"I don't know what he's planning, but we best keep on our toes. There's still no sign of Eiji."


"Maybe if we gain an audience with him head on we can get more information on our current situation."

"That sounds like a plan, and I assume you wanna get his attention in the best way we know how?"

Blanca nods, "Do you still remember the steps?"

"I don't know, do you still remember you stepping on my foot the last time we did this?"

Blanca guffaws, "I believe you have me mistaken for someone else."

"Forgetfulness is a sign of senility, Pops."

"Pops?" Blanca walks over to the string quartet in the corner of the dance floor and gives an announcement for the whole floor to hear including other areas as well, "Ladies and Gentleman, if I may? I would like to request a dance to my partner in crime. I apologize for any inconvenience."

Never losing eye contact, Blanca walks over to Ash. All of the dancers parted and made way as the two created an energy that filled the room. Blanca takes Ash by the hand, and they walk to the center of the dance floor. Wondering what the commotion was about Dino, Yut-Lung, Wu, and Chairman Lee head over to the dance floor and made their way to have a clear view.

"Maestro?" Blanca shouted to the head of the quartet, and they started to play a beautiful melody. As the music played Ash and Blanca moved as one gracefully gliding across the marble floor. As they captivate everyone on the floor they had also captivated the other areas as if the world stood still just for them. Dino was entranced. Dino could not take his eyes off of them. He knew who they were. His heir, Ash Lynx, had finally revealed himself.

"Chairman Lee, you wanted to see my 'Troublemaker'? There he is...In all his majesty."

"Amazing. You have one hell of an heir, Monsieur."

"...That I do..."

During their dance Yut-Lung had managed to get away from his brother, and was walking around the crowd. In the corner of his eye, he had noticed a man leaving the event, but in a frantic urgency; his curiosity wondered if it was someone he knew given the man's body movements as he left. As Yut-Lung goes to follow him out, Chairman Lee catches a glimpse of his brother in pursuit.

When Ash and Blanca end their entrancing performance they share a smile with short banter between them...

Blanca chuckles, "Who stepped on whose foot this time?"

"I did it on purpose."

"On purpose? Or did you forget the steps, old boy?"

"That's strike one, Pops. Don't push me tonight."

They bow for the audience as they hear the loud applause for their excellent entertainment. Dino walks up to Ash and Blanca also giving them praise with applause, "Bravo! Bravo. It's good to see the mentor and his student reunited again. How are you, Blanca? I'm so glad that you could make it."

"I am doing well, Monsieur. I see you are doing well, also."

"Indeed! This will be a night to remember for years to come; isn't that right, Sweetheart?"

Ash looks at Dino with slight disdain as to not fully show his feelings, "I didn't come here for your amusement, Dino. Where's Eiji?"

"I'm glad to see you too, my little wildcat; still unrefined as always. Patience is a virtue, Ash. Your friend will show up in due time. For now, enjoy the party; this is just as much as your night as it is mine."

"What the hell are you planning, Dino?" Ash gets up close to Dino where they are eye to eye. What he really wants to do is take him out here and now, but with so many people around he keeps his composure with a fiery rage in his eyes. Dino simply stares at his former toy with a smile on his face as if he knows he has the upper hand.

At the bar, you keep the conversation with the mysterious man in the silver mask. You, also, start to get a bit nervous as you haven't seen Ash and/or Blanca in a while but you have to stay put. The man begins to get closer to you the more you both talk; this is making you feel awkward. He shocks you by saying, "You know? I've been watching you since you walked through those doors. I'm very enthralled by you and that Lynx you were with."

You now realize how much danger you are in; could this possibly be that Foxx guy Ash was talking about? You try to back away from him, but he grabs you by the waist and you feel something sharp being pointed at your stomach.

As Foxx presses the small knife against you he coos, "We wouldn't want to get blood on your beautiful dress now, would we?" Your breathing is quickened as the fear takes over as well as his hand slowly caressing the lower half of your body. Foxx growling in your ear is driving you insane, but no matter how much you want to move the knife's edge keeps in you in check. With him being near your ear it activates the headset to turn on as well as the microphone; he starts to whisper...

"You look awfully fine tonight, Miss. I wonder if your lover would be so kind as let me have a taste of you after tonight?"

Ash and Blanca are now listening to the man in their headsets; Blanca is not happy with whoever has a hold of you, but remains stone faced in front of Dino while Ash had the look of shock as he takes a few steps back to stand next to Blanca knowing that Foxx and Dino were a few steps ahead of them. You are now held hostage with Ash and Blanca unable to save you.

Foxx continues, "I know you can hear me. I know you both can hear me. Tonight is my night. I will have everything I desire; Banana Fish, the heir to the throne, and his little bluebird who I have been thoroughly enjoying my time with the past few days..." He chuckles out of confidence, "...Don't worry, Ash, he's still intact. I'll promise not break him until after the auction once I've won him that is. Oh, this night will be one for the books for sure; May the best man win."

While you were distracted by what Foxx was saying in your ear he manages to press his lips against yours, and grabs your backside with both of his hands dropping the knife. He thrusts himself into you making you feel his aroused member through your dress. You've had enough so you roughly push yourself away from him and storm out of the bar and head back to the entrance.

Dino's smile is even bigger seeing Ash put the pieces together in his head. What did Foxx mean when he said he'd "win" Eiji? Ash didn't want to think about what he meant, but knew that what was going to happen next is not going to be a happy sight. Dino was getting too excited so he lets Ash in his thoughts of tonight, "Since you seem rather eager of OUR plans, we can definitely speeds things up a bit. You want to know where your friend is? Be careful what you ask for, Sweetheart."

Dino walks over to the auction area, stands on a podium with a microphone and announces, "Everyone, gather 'round. I have a rather special added item to this auction on this festive evening. I believe for some of you this prized possession is indeed a rare find..." Ash looks on with fear as tears begin to fall on his cheeks. "...I give you, from the exotic lands of Japan, this beautiful treasure."

Next to Dino was a giant red curtain; no one had paid attention to it the whole night since it just looked like part of the scenery, but it had hidden the most valuable secret from view. The curtain comes down to reveal a human size, gold bird cage and in it was a Japanese boy kneeling dressed in a ripped tuxedo, bound with his arms behind his back by steel chains and gagged with his eyes covered by an eyeless mask shaped as a domestic bird. In the cage was eloquently decorated with a withered tree, sand on the cage floor, and angelic wings attached to his back as part of his bondage that reached the top of the cage.

"His name is Okumura Eiji. Please do marvel at this specimen of innocence before he goes to auction in less than an hour. Thank you."

The crowd applauds, and proceeds to eat, drink, and revel in tonight's events. Some go to Eiji's cage to take a look at him and the masterpiece that surrounds him. Ash says under his breath as he stares at his captive best friend...