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FREEDOM

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Shunichi Ibe breaths a sigh of relief as he steps off the boat. There were some close calls here and there, but they were very fortunate to have made it here to New York in one piece. This was going to be quite the interesting trip as he was a photographer, and was going to do a report on the local street gangs of New York. His friend Charlie had gotten him an interview with the leader's of a local gang who went by the name of "Ash Lynx." Ibe will be the first one to admit that he was very curious to know about the young man, to be a gang leader at such a young age. There must be something more to him than that.

 

"Oh, do you have everything, Eiji?" Shunichi called out to his assistant.

 

A young man comes walking towards Shunichi casually, Eiji was a slim young with black hair and large dark brown eyes. He was sporting a black sweatshirt, with matching pants and boots. By his side was a Siberian Husky with blue eyes that were like ice, piercing through one's very soul should they be foolish enough to look the canine in the eyes.

 

"Don't worry, Shunichi-san, I always make sure I have everything, right Isabella?" Eiji said to the husky.

 

Isabella simply makes a sound in response.

 

Shunichi smiled at the two, "After this, you'll be heading out again won't you?"

 

"Yeah...this time I'll probably head to Alaska." Eiji's voice was soft as he said this.

 

Shunichi doesn't say anything, only stays silent as he sees the look on Eiji's face. For as calm as the boy acts around others, Ibe can see another side to him that he won't show in front of others. This is why he brought him here to New York, even though he knew Eiji would want to keep traveling. In some way he felt bad about pulling him away, but Eiji didn't seem to mind as this. Till this day, Shunichi might not ever understand what it truly means to be a traveler, but being with Eiji helps with that.

 

"Eiji, I really do appreciate you coming here with me. To be honest, I've been wanting to come here to New York for some time now, but this just gave me a convenient excuse to finally come here." Ibe said sheepishly, rubbing the back of his head.

 

"Well, coming here for the sole purpose of interviewing the leader of a street gang seems like a good excuse as any." Eiji smiles, "And who knows, there might even be something else you find interesting along the way."

 

Shunichi blinked a few times before letting out a huff of amusement, "You know, I'm starting to think you might actually be "him" instead of Eiji."

 

Eiji walks ahead of him with his own smile, "That's a nice thought, but I'm nobody but myself."

-Banana Fish-

 

Elsewhere, in a nice looking house there was a bald pudgy looking man was tending to his flowers before a man bursts inside the room. The man had orange curly hair, sporting a lab coat with some glasses on his face. He looked frantic, panting as he stared at the bald man.

 

"Dino!"

 

Dino simply turned to him calmly, "Careful with the doors. It might harm my orchids."

 

"The hell with your damn orchids! We have a problem! It's...gone."

 

Dino's once calm expression suddenly changed hearing that, "What?"

-Banana Fish-

 

Meanwhile in another place, a very beautiful and handsome young man with blonde hair that shined like the sun, and green eyes that would remind anyone of jades was in a different location as he stared at a strange substance that appeared to be white powder of some kind. Without so much as a word, he gets up and head up stairs. Opening the door, he comes face to face with a man that wasn't saying a word, in fact he wasn't doing anything as he sat in the wheelchair.

 

As the blonde approached he started speaking to the quiet man, "What is this, "Banana Fish" you've been mentioning?" He kneels down, placing both hands on the man's knees, "I beg you. The man said it before he died, too." He thought back to how he came face to face with that dying man in the alley, saying the exact same words as the man currently sitting in the wheelchair said. His brother.

 

Banana Fish...

 

What does it mean?

 

There's a connection between it and what happened to his brother, he just knows it.

 

"Did this "Banana Fish" do this to you?" He once again received no answer, "Say something, Griffin." The pleading tone in his voice was heartbreaking to hear from an outsiders perspective. Just what is Banana Fish, and why was his brother and that dead man from last night uttering the words? Does Dino know what Banana Fish is? What a stupid question, of course he knows what it is, and isn't saying anything about it at all.

 

Fine by him, he'll get the answers himself.

 

He stood up, turning to leave the room, but not before giving his brother a soft look before eventually closing the door behind him. For awhile he just stood there, his back pressed against the door, eyes closed as he suppressed the urge to cry right there. No, now wasn't the time for him to give into his emotions. He had other things he needed to focus on right now, like why his men were chasing after that man who was on his last legs, and Arthur's movements as well.

 

'Banana Fish...I'll find out what it is no matter what!'

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Charlie sulked as he was still nursing his hand that currently had bite marks on it. Shunichi stood there with a sheepish smile as Eiji was rubbing the top of Isabella's head. When Charlie had tried to pet her, she bit him without so much as hesitating. Everyone in the station had laughed when it happened, but soon stopped laughing once she did the same thing to them. It was only then did Eiji finally explained why she bit them, its because she doesn't like men all that much, but she loves Eiji and Shunichi.

 

"Sorry about that, Charlie. Probably should've warned you ahead of time." Shunichi says with a nervous smile.

 

Charlie sighed, "Its fine, not like it would be the first time a dog bit me out of nowhere."

 

"Thank you for your understanding, come on Isabella, apologize." Eiji chided her lightly.

 

Isabella just turned her nose up a Charlier like he was common filth that belonged at the bottom of someone's shoes. In other words, there was no way in hell she was going to apologize to him.

 

Charlie sweat-dropped, "Why do I get the feeling she just scoffed at me?"

 

Instead of answering, Shunichi decided to change the subject, "So, were you able to set everything up?"

 

At this, Charlie sighed, "Yeah, and like I expected he was saying just how much of a pain it is, but gave in," he gave Shunichi a piece of paper, "Here's where they frequently hang out."

 

"Thanks, Charlie."

 

"Don't worry about it, and if you ever need anything you have my number, right?"

 

"I do."

 

"Oh, before you two go, I should warn you that the other gangs don't really trust adults all that much, but Eiji should be fine since he looks so young." Charlie warns.

 

Hearing this new information somewhat stuns Shunichi, "Are the street gangs here really all that dangerous?"

 

"It depends on who you're dealing with. The guy you're meeting with, Ash, has sharp senses like a cat. In no time at all, he got control over the neighborhood gangs, being only 17 years old mind you." Charlie explained.

 

"Just 17?" Shunichi questioned, stunned.

 

"Yes."

 

"That's...quite impressive..."

 

Eiji merely smiles as hearing something like this was nothing new to him. As a traveler he'd seen many kids have control over the gangs of their own neighborhood, something their own local authorities could never do. This Ash person sounds very interesting, and his name...

 

Ash...burn to cinders...

 

Somehow the name sounds fitting.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Speaking of said person, he was currently with Dr. Meredith, a doctor who might as well be some back alley doctor. Ash had given the man the white substance, along with his brother. He came back to pay the man a visit in order to ask what he found out.

 

"You said he was drugged in Iraq with something bad?" Meredith inquired professionally as he looked into Griffin's eyes with s tiny flashlight.

 

"Yeah, by a quack at a veteran hospital." Ash made a mental note to try the son of a birth down and put a bullet in his brain.

 

Finished with Griffin's examination he turns to Ash, "Who is he to you anyway? I already have my suspicions, but..."

 

Ash gives his brother a gentle look as he reluctantly answers the doctors question, "He's my big bro."

 

Meredith stares at Griffin's face, "I thought there was a resemblance. Now I'm not an expert at something like this so I can't be really sure, but there aren't any reported cases where a flashback continues on such as what's happening here."

 

"Flashback?" Does that mean Griffin was stuck in an eternal flashback?

 

"Spasms." Meredith elaborated, "He has seizures and says nothing nonsensical stuff, right?"

 

So that's what he meant.

 

"Yeah, "Banana Fish." Ash says with a shrug, "He's always muttering it."

 

"Hmmm, a clever choice of words actually." Meredith hums, "Does your brother perhaps like Salinger?"

 

"Huh?" Was Ash's dumbfounded response.

 

"It's in one of his novels." Meredith clarifies, "If you come across a Banana Fish at sea, you'll suddenly feel like dying."

 

"Die?" Ash says slowly, his voice almost trembling, but he kept his cool, "I didn't know."

 

If what this man said is true, then there's a chance Griffin could...no—there's no way in hell he'll let that happen!

 

-Banana Fish-

 

"So this is it, huh?" Shunichi looks at all the writing on the walls as he and Eiji follow after the boy named "Skip" who guides them. As soon as he saw Isabella he asked to pet her, Eiji lets him, and not once did she try to bite him and simply lets herself be petted and hugged by the young boy. Charlie pouted slightly as he watched Skip be sparred by being bitten by the male hating dog, much to the amusement of Shunichi.

 

"Not what you were expecting?" Eiji inquires.

 

The man shakes his head, "No, I don't know how to explain it exactly...its like stepping into uncharted territory."

 

"You start to feel nervous and unsure, yet at the same time you can't help but be intrigued about what you might see, right?" Eiji guessed.

 

"Took the words right out of my mouth, Ei-chan." Shunichi smiled.

 

Skip turns to them, "You coming or not?"

 

Isabella barks at them.

 

"Yes, yes, we're coming." Eiji says in amusement.

 

Shunichi made sure to stick close to Eiji, once Skip opened the door to the bar they both walked in, and the older Japanese male had to keep himself from flinching as all eyes were on them. Isabella was eyeing them like a predator, just waiting for one of them to try something. Shunichi was vaguely aware of Eiji patting him on the shoulder he followed after Skip with that smile of his, showing no fear. It was times like this the man almost felt rather pathetic for he was the adult, and it was his job to make sure Eiji stayed secured and safe, not the other way around. Even though he promised the boy's grandfather he would watch over him, that protective role would always fall on Eiji instead.

 

"Here they are, Ash."

 

Shunichi was brought out of his inner thoughts as Skip brought them to another room, and addressed the very same person he had come to interview.

 

"Your guest from Japan, and his Assistant." Skip introduced.

 

Ash stopped what he was doing and turned to them, Shunichi stared at the boy's features and was almost in disbelief at how this boy could possibly be 17 when he looked much more older than that.

 

"Right."

 

Eiji was also staring at Ash, and had to admit that he did indeed didn't look like your average 17 year old, as he carried the air of someone much more older. the reason he thinks this is because he can tell by the look in the boy's eyes.

 

Eyes that look like they've seen the full ugliness of this world.

 

Shunichi was the first one to initiate the conversation, "I'm a photographer from Japan. I want to ask about your gang for a magazine article."

 

Ash eyed the man, "What do you want to know?"

 

'Gosh, he's so intense!'  Shunichi thought with a nervous smile, Eiji meanwhile thought he was looking at a wild cat that was simply showing why it was the alpha male of the pack.

 

"Can I take a few pictures first?" Shunichi asks.

 

Still eyeing them with distrust, he turns his head away from them, "Not the face."

 

There must be a story as to why he didn't want any pictures of his face, but concluded that not everybody wants to have their face taken, so he lets it go.

 

"Sure, Eiji, get ready."

 

"Okay."

 

Ash went to sit at the bar while Eiji prepared to get the equipment ready, "Do you use kids for assistants in Japan?"

 

At this, Shunichi laughs nervously, "Actually...Eiji's only two years older than you, he's 19. He gets mistaken for a kid a lot because of his young looks."

 

"Oh, well excuse me, didn't mean to offend." Ash teases.

 

Eiji grabs the equipment before turning around with a smile, "No offense taken...little boy."

 

Silence quickly fills the whole bar at Eiji's words, and Shunichi couldn't help but sigh. Eiji could careless if someone comments about how young he looks, but if they make fun of him for it that's another story.

 

"Here." Eiji ignores the sudden tension in the air as he gives Shunichi the rest of his equipment.

 

"Thank you, Eiji..." The man sighs.

 

Eiji yawns, "If you don't need me for anything else I think I'll take a cat nap."

 

"Fine—Eh? A nap?!" Shunichi exclaims, "You mean you're still tired?!"

 

"Yes, I am." Eiji replies simply as he walks over by a table, sitting down in the chair, "Then..." As soon as he places his head down on the table he was fast asleep.

 

Skip poked his shoulder, "He really feel asleep..." he sounded bewildered by the fact that Eiji could fall asleep just like that, especially since he was surrounded by a bunch of gang members.

 

Isabella lets out what sounded like a sigh as her ears droop slightly.

 

Shunichi's shoulders slump.

 

"Hey, old man, what the hell's his problem?" Ash finally asks, he was taken back when the guy called him "little boy," but he then found himself curious as he just falls asleep surrounded by all these gang members.

 

"Nothing, Eiji...just gets that sleeping habit from his grandfather." Shunichi finally admits, ignoring the "old man" comment, "If I didn't know any better, I'd swear I was looking at the man right now."

 

Ash didn't say a word as his gaze was still on the sleeping form of the boy known as Eiji.

 

After that tense air, Eiji unknowingly created, things went back to normal inside the bar. Isabella allowed herself to be played with by Skip again, as all she did was growl at any other male in the vicinity. Suddenly though, she walked away from Skip and walked over by Ash, her eyes not on his back but on the gun he had strapped to his waist, without hesitation he grabbed it and skipped away from him.

 

"Hey!" Ash hollered.

 

"Ah, no Isabella, give that back!" Shunichi yelled.

 

Isabella ignored them as she bounced over by Eiji, nudging him with her nose, trying to wake him up. Getting a groan in return, Eiji reluctantly sat up with a small yawn, "...What?" He mumbled. She nudged him again with her nose, it wasn't until he finally saw the gun in her hand that he figured out why she woke him up in the first place.

 

Oh...

 

He takes the gun from her, but not before wiping it clean of her saliva before inspecting the gun. From what he can tell its in good shape, well maintained, and all in all, a very good gun.

 

"Good shape...well maintained...nothing wrong..." He lets out a sleepy smile, "Such a heavy burden..." He gives it back to a silent, and bewildered Ash, "Going back to sleep..." That was what he intended to do, but Isabella had other plans as she nughed him again, he just dismisses her with a wave, "Go away..."

 

Annoyed, Isabella barks loudly in his ear, nearly scaring the living hell out of everyone in the bar. Sighing, Eiji decides to wake up fully, but not before letting out a loud yawn, stretching his arms above his head, "I'm up...happy now?"

 

A snort was his answer.

 

"You shouldn't take other people's things, apologize."

 

Isabella took one look at Ash before snorting, turning her head up in the air.

 

Ash's eyebrow twitch, "Did this mutt seriously just scoff at me?"

 

What the hell was with this mutt?

 

Shunichi chuckles a little, "She did the same thing to Charlie after biting him. She hates men, so don't take it to heart."

 

Ash raises a brow at him, "She seems fine with Skip, and this guy." He was referring to Eiji.

 

"That's because he raised her, and Skip is a child, so he gets a pass." Shunichi helpfully explains.

 

"What the hell is that?" Ash complains, placing his gun back in its spot.

 

"Hey, Eiji are you from Japan, too?" Skip asks.

 

"No, that'd be Ibe-san, but I am of Asian descent. I'm also a traveler, so I don't really have a place of origin." Eiji answers, rubbing Isabella's head, scratching it a little bit.

 

"Seriously?! That means you get to go wherever you want right?!" Skip asks, eyes filled with excitement.

 

"Mm, I was about to head off the Alaska when Ibe-san stopped and asked if I wanted to come to New York with him to be his assistant, so I'm taking a little break right now." Eiji says.

 

"Woah, Alaska? But why do you want to go there? Its really cold there, isn't it?" Skip innocently asks.

 

Eiji gives the boy a wistful smile, "The cold doesn't really bother me...can't say the same thing for the snow though."

 

"Really, I kinda like snow. You can make snow men, and have snowball fights." Skip excitedly says.

 

Eiji just sits there and smiles as Skip, watching the boy describe just how much fun the snow can be, and the many things you can do with it. Shunichi could tell that the topic of snow was still a sore spot for him, even after all these years.

 

"Hey, Eiji, you seem to know about the gun Ash was carrying, do you know about guns?" Skip asks.

 

"I know some stuff about them thanks to my grandfather. He had all sorts of weapons around the house, never let me touch a single one until I was 13." Eiji answers.

 

"Really?"

 

"Yep, this time when he was preparing lunch I tried to use what I learned in our training sessions to get a sneak attack on him, but it backfired as he had already sensed me coming and pulled a gun on me from my left side." Eiji smiles fondly at the memory.

 

"So you didn't even get the chance to attack, huh?"

 

"Not at all. I remember sulking the whole day because I thought for sure I had him." Eiji chuckles.

 

"Did you get him the next time?"

 

"Nope."

 

"He got you again?"

 

"Got me every time, he's the only person in the whole world I'll never be able to defeat." He didn't sound bitter about this, just happy.

 

"Keep trying, I'm sure you'll get him next time." Skip encourages.

 

"Thank you, Skip."

 

"Don't mention it! I bet if you want up against Ash you two might have a draw." Skip says.

 

"I don't know about that."

 

"I'm sure, the great Ash Lynx isn't feared just because he gives people a nasty look, it's because he's strong, and really good with a gun." Skip brags.

 

"Ash Lynx, huh."

 

"It's just a nickname. It means "wildcat." Skip explains, "Nobody can tame him. He's totally wild. It's the perfect name for Boss."

 

Eiji smiles at Skip, "You really do look up to him, huh?"

 

Skip gives him an embarrassed grin.

 

"Eiji." Shunichi walks over by the two of them.

 

"Did you get to talk to him?"

 

Shunichi rubs the back of his head, "Nah, he's not much of a talker. He's a young gang leader. There's got to be more to him." He slumps slightly disappointed.

 

"He probably has his reasons for not wanting to say too much about himself, try not to pry too much." Eiji tells him.

 

"I know."

 

Ash was still sitting by the bar casually when she gets a phone call, taking it out of his pocket he saw it was Shorter that was contacting him, "What's up, Shorter?"

 

"Get out of there, now. It's Arthur."

 

Ash's eyes widen.

 

"He's rounded up some guys and he's coming for you!"

 

Isabella's head shoots up, alerting both Eiji and Shunichi that something was wrong, and sure enough she was right. The door slammed opened and in came pouring in were some thugs that Arthur had gathered up.

 

"Ibe-san, get under the table." Eiji tells the man.

 

Shunichi does this, "Be careful, Eiji!"

 

Eiji doesn't say anything back as he finds some thugs heading right for him.

 

Meanwhile, Ash and the rest of his gang were too busy fighting off the thugs.

 

"Damn it, there isn't enough room for this." Ash complains as he takes down thug after thug, he get up on top of the counter as he avoids getting hit with a baseball bat, "Must you all do this here?" He jumps in the air before kicking a thug in the face.

 

At this point Charlie comes busting in, along with another fellow officer, "Freeze, police!" His eyes widened as he saw some thugs be sent flying across the room, and by Eiji of all people.

 

"Ah, Charlie, good timing." Eiji calmly says elbowing a thug, who had a knife in the face, then spin kicked another on in the face as he tried to get at him on his other side. Another one came at him from behind, but Isabella had jumped up and got a hold of his neck, biting down on it hard until she drew blood. Jumping down from the man's body, she growled at any other thug that tried to get near Eiji. None were brave enough to try and get close, not after they saw her literally go for someone's windpipe and drawing blood.

 

"Well...I'll be damned." Charlie finally said.

 

"Charlie!" Shunichi calls out from under the table, bumping his head in the process.

 

"Stay down, Ibe-san." Eiji tells him as he keeps more thugs from trying to grab at him for some reason, Isabella kept going for either their ankles, wrists, or windpipe's.

 

"Damn you!" Skip grabs a bottle from the counter before slamming it into one of the thugs heads, then proceeded to kick him in the face, "Eiji, this way!"

 

Eiji follows after Skip, "Isabella, stay with Ibe-san!" He orders, following after Skip

 

She barks in response.

 

"Eiji!"

 

"After them!" Someone calls out.

 

Ash looks back and understands what their true intentions are, "I see what you're after now." He dodges and kicks some thugs out the way, "Skip, get back here. It's a trap!" His call was too late, as they were both already gone.

 

Skip and Eiji opened up an escape door, neither of them see anybody so maybe the close is clear for now.

 

"Hey there, Skip."

 

Skip grits his teeth as he saw two of Arthur's thugs greet them.

 

Back in the bar, the brawl was still going on. Shunichi was worried because Eiji had now gone off on his own, and he has no idea what will happen to him.

 

"This way, Ibe!"

 

"Charlie, Eiji's gone!" Shunichi frantically tells the man.

 

Isabella bites down on another thugs jugular before heading up the stairs, Ash not too far from behind her, "What, you worried about your master?"

 

Iseballa barks at him, but keeps running till they reached the top of the stairs.

 

"Skipper!" Ash yells as he sees the young boy be forced into a car.

 

Isebella barks, probably trying to say "Eiji."

 

"Ash!" Skip was forced into the car by the unknown men.

 

Isabella and Ash run after the car, until he stopped suddenly, taking his gun out as he aimed for the car. Taking a deep breath, he made the shot, aiming for the back of one of the thugs heads.

 

Eiji ducked down a little as the now dead body of the thug slumped over. Nice shot.

 

"Damn it, he got Jack."

 

"I know, the devil himself."

 

"Hey, get your damn hands off of Eiji!" Skip tries to hit the guy as he had his hands on Eiji, pulling his phone out of the boy's pocket and tossing it outside.

 

Meanwhile Ash and Isabella saw Shorter appear, "Ash, you're alive. Huh, what's with the dog?"

 

"Shorter, I need this." Ash takes his helmet and moves him out the way.

 

"Eh?"

Isabella barks as she had already taken off running in the direction where she believed the car headed off towards, Ash matching her speed. Trust Arthur to be a damn coward, and kidnap a kid and a civilian just to get to him. Which begs the question, why the hell did that other guy let himself get captured right along with Skip? He could have easily escaped, from what he saw back at the club the guy was a decent fighter, he looked calm as he watched his opponents and took them down easily, aiming for the pressure points and other areas to take them down like they were nothing. That mutt of his was no slouch either, speaking of mutt. His eyes traveled over to her running form as she was able to keep up with him like it was no big deal, even on the highway. Weird mutt.

-Banana Fish-

 

"That's right, Asian, 19 years old. Names, Eiji Okumura. Send out squads to find him, now!" Charlie ordered on his radio.

 

Shunichi was looking far too worried for his own good, he had made a promise to Eiji's grandfather and now look what happened. He knows Eiji can take care of himself just fine, but still...

 

"I'm sorry, Ibe. This wasn't supposed to happen, I said I'd bust if something happened, but..." Charlie tried to apologize.

 

"No...I know. Eiji may not look it, but he can take care of himself, so I'm not all that worried..." Shunichi trailed off as he tried to reassure himself that Eiji was going to be just fine.

 

'You better not die on me, Eiji.'

-Banana Fish-

 

Shorter meanwhile was organizing his own search and rescue party, "Round up some guys and find Arthur. Go!"

 

"Got it!"

 

Shorter watched them go and wondered if Ash had found out where Arthur's hiding at, 'Don't do anything crazy, Ash.'

-Banana Fish-

 

Ash arrived at the hideout, along with Isabella. He saw the car, but didn't see Skip or that Eiji guy anywhere. This feels like a trap, which it probably is, but he needed to settle things with Arthur anyway. Getting off Shorter's motorcycle, he walks forward, Isabella right by his side, following his steps.

 

"I know you're here, Arthur." Ash calls out, "Show yourself."

 

Speak of the devil and he shall appear, Arthur came slithering out from his hiding spot, hands in his pockets, with a smug that displays arrogance.

 

"Wassup, Boss." Arthur smirks, "You know it's a trap, right?"

 

Isabella growls at Arthur, her teeth on full display, she wanted to attack him so badly, but she first she needed to make sure Eiji was okay.

 

Arthur's raises a brow, "What's with the mutt? You recruiting animals now?"

 

Ash smirked this time, "Be careful, she likes to go straight for the neck."

 

"Is that so?" Arthur wasn't convinced at this at all, "Why did you come?"

 

Ash loses his smirk, "I knew I'd have to settle it with you sooner or later. Where's Skip?"

 

Arthur was still smirking, "I hate to break it to you, but it's not just about us anymore." The abandoned garage door opens next to him, revealing a tied up Eiji, and Skip, along with two goons.

 

"Ash!" Skip cries out in relief.

 

Eiji's glad to see Isabella here, too. For having her here will work out for what he has in mind.

 

"Welcome, Ash Lynx." An unknown man greets with a smirk.

 

Ash glares at the man, "Marvin...so that's what's up. That's low even for you, being tamed like the old man's dog."

 

"You're always too soft. Drop the gun." Arthur demands.

 

"Don't, they'll kill you!" Skip warns.

 

"Let them go."

 

"Ash." Arthur gives him a warning tone.

 

Eiji keeps his eyes forward on Isabella when Arthur comes strolling up to him, "Who's this boy? I heard Skip had taken a liking to this guy." He was standing in front of Eiji, analyzing him.

 

"Keep your hands off Ei-chan!" Skip threatens.

 

Isabella growls even louder at Arthur's close proximity to her boy, but didn't try to engage just yet.

 

"Kill him." Arthur orders.

 

Eiji stays calm when the thug points a gun at his head, something that surprises Ash slightly, but didn't show it.

 

"Hold it. You and your ways disgust me." Ash tosses his gun away.

 

Arthur smirks at Ash, approaching him, "What an admirable boss, looking out for his boys."

 

Isabella got in between the two of them, her teeth showing as she dared Arthur to get any closer to him.

 

"What the fuck is wrong with this damn dog?" Arthur complains sending a kick to Isabella, but was surprised when she ducked and got his wrist, biting it, hard, "Arrgghh! What the fuck, let go, you fuck—ow!" She bit down harder, enough to draw blood.

 

Eiji then made his move, crouching, he tripped the thug who had the gun pointed to his head, making him fall backwards before easily getting out of his bindings before pulling out his 1851 Colt Navy .44 caliber from behind his back and shooting the downed thug in the shins, he then did the same to the one that was holding Skip. Marvin tried to shoot at them, but Eiji was quicker on the draw as he shot the gun out of the man's hand.

 

"Wow..." Skip said in awe.

 

Just for a little payback, Eiji shot Arthur in one of his butt cheeks for his nasty behavior.

 

"Ow—you son of a—!" He didn't get to finish his sentence as Ash took this opportunity to punch him in the jaw before going for his gun.

 

"Isabella, come here!" Eiji calls out as he grabs Skip's bound hands before running away from Arthur and the rest of his gang.

 

Isabella follows him, with Ash right behind them.

 

Arthur was in pain, in both his ass cheek, and his wrist, "Those fuckers...kill them! Kill all of them!" He calls out to the rest of his gang who were hiding in the shadows the whole time. All of them went after Eiji, Ash, Skip, and Isabella on Arthur's orders.

 

Marvin was nursing his hand, "Unbelievable...who the hell was that damned Asian brat?"

 

Arthur slowly stood up, seething with rage, "Don't know...but that fucker is dead!"

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Skip couldn't help but laugh when he saw how Eiji got Arthur in the butt, "That was amazing, Ei-chan! You should have seen his face, serves him right!" Eiji had finally untied Skip, freeing his hands.

 

Eiji was inspecting the boy's wrist, "No marks...does it hurt?"

 

"Nope, I'm pretty tough!" Skip rubs underneath his nose with a grin.

 

Eiji smiled at him, "That you are." The young male was then licked in the face by Isabella, "I'm fine, good job coming here with Ash, good girl." She rubs up against his face in response.

 

The four of them were currently hiding in an abandoned building as they laid in wait. No doubt Arthur was furious at both Eiji and Isabella and wanting to kill all of them as payback. In Eiji's opinion, Arthur seems like the vindictive, petty, and low down type of human being who can't stand his pride being broken by someone of better skills, which probably explains why he has such a deep hatred for Ash. Because he damaged his pride, and now he either wants to bring Ash down or kill him. Arthur's just like an other type of person he sees in different countries.

 

They're all the same.

 

Ash had stayed quiet for awhile now, but couldn't any longer, "Who the hell are you?" He finally asks.

 

Eiji was checking to see how many bullets he had left in the barrel before answering with a smile, "Eiji Okumura...a traveler."

 

A traveler...with skills like that, there had to be more to him than that. Those shooting skills of his were top notch, if not almost on his level.

 

"If you can shoot like that, why didn't you try to escape before?" The blonde asks.

 

Eiji didn't hesitate to answer, "Well I couldn't just leave Skip behind with them. Unlike other gang members who have codes they follow, they wouldn't hesitate to have killed Skip if I had just left him behind. That's why I stayed, so they would draw their attention on me instead of him, since they don't know who I am."

 

Skip gives Eiji a hug, "Thanks for the save back there, Ei-chan!"

 

"You're welcome." Eiji hugs him back.

 

Ash was actually speechless, so he stayed behind for Skip's sake? He let himself get captured on purpose just so he could protect someone he doesn't even know, without even expecting anything in return. Are all travelers like this?

 

"We should get ready, he's probably already sending some more of his members to hunt us down." Eiji says as he gets ready.

 

Ash snorts, "Arthur's a coward, he'll send his guys in first before trying to come at us himself."

 

"That works just fine for me, doesn't really matter." Eiji says.

 

"Does anything bother you?" Ash curiously asks.

 

"Cockroaches, I can't stand them." Eiji shivers at just the thought of ever having to encounter one, "The way they move, what they eat...just everything about them makes my skin crawl."

 

Ash and Skip both give him bewildered looks before snorting and laughing in his face, "C-Cockroaches...you got kidnapped, had a gun pointed at your head, and the thing that bothers you...are cockroaches...!" Ash had to hold his stomach, as did Skip. Whatever he was expecting Eiji's answer to be, it certainly wasn't that!

 

Eiji pouted, "Its not funny. Some people actually eat them, you know."

 

"S-Seriously...!" If anything, hearing that just made Ash laugh even harder. God, how long has it been since he got to laugh like this?

 

"Go ahead and keep laughing, but when one crawls up your shirt you won't find it so funny then, now will you?" Eiji turns away in a huff, still pouting.

 

Ash had to wipe a tear from his face, "You're something else..."

 

"Coming from you I'll take that as a compliment." Eiji honestly says.

 

"Did you find them, yet?"

 

"No."

 

"Search this way!"

 

Ash pulled his gun out, "No time for laughing, huh."

 

"Isabella, stay with Skip." Eiji ordered.

 

She barked in understanding.

 

"Go get 'em, you two." Skip encouraged.

 

Ash and Eiji stick their heads out to check and make sure it was safe, seeing the close was clear they slowly walked forward, making their footsteps be as light as possible if possible. It wasn't long before rushed footsteps could be heard coming in both directions, since Ash their front covered, he shot two men in the head, Eiji had their back as he got two in the chest. The gunfire will soon draw more to their attention.

 

"Gathering like a bunch of ants." Ash clicks his tongue as he starts running, the others following his lead.

 

Eiji shoots two more shots from behind him before taking off after Ash, Skip, and Isabella.

 

"I'd rather not kill them if I can help it, but since they have weapons on them..." Eiji trails off.

 

"No choice but to shoot!" Ash says as he shoots three more guys in the heads.

 

Eiji got two more from behind them as they kept on running. It was a repeated cycle of the two males shooting their enemies at their rear and front. So much killing just so they can survive this encounter, but this was nothing new for Eiji, who had his far share of encounters with people who were trying to kill him. Traveler or not, he seems to always attract the mean types of people.

 

The constant ringing in his ears, the sound a body makes when it falls limply to the ground like a puppet with its strings cut, and the smell of gunpowder in the air. New York was like a different place all together, he's dealt with thugs before, but not like this. Looks like they'll be at this all night.

 

And sure enough, as he looked at his clock, he saw the sun was about to rise. They've been fighting them off all night, persistence is a scary thing indeed.

 

Ash placed a new cartridge in, his gaze going over towards Eiji, who was still looking very calm, but the blonde could tell he was starting to get tired with all the shooting.

 

"Take Skip and run away, I'll draw their attention." He said to him.

 

Eiji looks over at him, "I'm not tired if that's what you're worried about. I've pulled all nighters before."

 

"That's not it." Ash sighs at the black haired boy's comment.

 

With a smile, Eiji decides not to put up much of a fuss, "I'll cover you then, there aren't that many of them left, I'll leave Arthur to you since I got my payback."

 

Ash snorted at the reminder of Eiji shooting the pain in the ass blonde in his butt cheek, "Follow behind me, make sure they can't see you."

 

"Will do." Eiji promises.

 

Ash begins to move once again, and it isn't long before more of Arthur's goons start shooting at him again. Eiji covered his blindside, making sure to take them down swiftly and quickly. This isn't something he likes to do, killing others, but if they come at you with the intent to kill then its only fair you respond in kind, right? He seems to think so.

 

As the sun began to rise, they hit a wall. Literally.

 

"Shit!" Ash curses.

 

"What do we do, Ash?" Skip asks.

 

Eiji checks and finds that he has one last cartridge left, better make it count, "I can hear them coming. I've got one cartridge left."

 

"Same here." Ash says.

 

"Better make it count then!" Eiji starts running over by some downed boxes, jumping high in the air as he can before aiming, shooting at four thugs this time, watching them go down quickly.

 

"Wow...its like he's flying..." Skip stares.

 

Ash couldn't help but stare as to him, Eiji looked like he was literally flying through the sky like a free bird, not bound by anything. Maybe that's what Eiji really is in disguise...a black bird that's free to do as he pleases, untainted by the world below them.

 

Landing safely, and putting his gun away, he comes at them with a knife he had hidden in his boot. Without hesitating he slashes at one's throat, and repeats this, Isabella joins him as she keeps going for the windpipes. Ash stared in what could only be described as complete awe at the way Eiji moves, his movements were relaxed, the way he twirled around, weaving out of the way to avoid being stabbed or hit. It was as though he were dancing instead of fighting.

 

He looked...beautiful.

 

Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Marvin show up, gun in hand, aiming right at him.

 

"Damn—!"

 

BANG!

 

Ash found himself knocked down, arms wrapping around him protectively as he and the other person hit the ground. Who the hell...

 

"Ei-chan!" Skip cries.

 

His blood turned cold, opening his eyes he looked up and saw Eiji had indeed been the one to take the bullet for him. Eiji hovered above him, his expression displaying slight discomfort, which is to be expected since he took a bullet for him. Ash could see that he got shot in his arm, as his black jacket got a tear in it.

 

Eiji gives him a pained smile, "Better put getting hit by a bullet on my list of things to be more careful of." He said as an attempt at a joke. With a grunt he got up slowly, holding his arm, trying to assure Skip that he was just fine and that the bullet just grazed him.

 

Something in Ash snapped as he slowly stood up and turned his enraged glare on Marvin, who froze in place, "Bastard..." In the distance, police sirens could be heard, not only that, but Shorter managed to find their location and brought in some backup. Ash wasn't focused on that though, his sights set on Marvin, who took off in a car, and Ash didn't hesitate to follow after him. Eiji was under no obligation to take that bullet for him, but that also meant he didn't deserve to be shot at by that son of a bitch Marvin.

 

That bastard will pay for this!

 

"Ei-chan!" Shunichi came out of Charlier's police vehicle, running straight for Eiji, "Your hurt!"

 

Eiji gives in a pained smile, "Its nothing serious, the bullet just grazed me, that's all."

 

Isabella whimpered for him, but he assured her he was okay.

 

"Eiji, where's Ash?" Charlie came up to them as Shunichi placed a cloth on the black haired male's shoulder.

 

"I'd like to know where he headed off to myself." Shorter commented, walking up to them.

 

"He took off after Marvin after Ei-chan got shot!" Skip explains.

 

Shorter raises a brow, "He did?" His gaze went over towards Eiji who was trying to calm Shunichi down, "What about Arthur?"

 

"Don't see him around, he must've ran away after Ei-chan shot him in the ass!" Skip grinned.

 

Isabella barks in agreement.

 

"Eh...?" Shorter and Charlier both say.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Ash shows up at Marvin's place, entering the room with the intentions of beating the man to death, only to freeze in place as he saw the man was already dead. There was a gunshot wound to his chest.

 

"Dead...? Who the hell..."

 

"Freeze! Police, hands in the air!"

 

'Son of a...'


Two Boys, Intertwined Fates

Chapter Text

Eiji has seen many things while traveling, has seen many different people, but he can honestly say he's never seen anyone like Ash Lynx before. Appearances aside, his personality was a breath of fresh air for someone who has never met him before. That's what he felt like when saw the blonde show up here, knowing it was a trap in order to save Skip. As rough as he acts around strangers, he's caring towards his comrades, reminding him of a king in a way. Someone who care deeply for his subjects to the point where he would sacrifice himself for them without hesitation. Ash reminds him of the kind of people his grandfather told him about, a rare human that can only be found if one does not expect to find them.

 

Ash fits that description perfectly.

 

Speaking of Ash, he was no longer here as he'd ran off after that Marvin person, enraged after he had willingly taken a bullet for the blonde. He may be a traveler, but he was still a human being, that's why he didn't hesitate to take the bullet for the blonde. Ash did look quite angry though, hopefully he won't do something rash, he might beat the man within an inch of his life, but that's probably all he'll do.

 

He was slightly worried about that.

 

"Are you sure you're okay, Ei-chan?" Ibe asked the boy once again.

 

"Yes, I'm okay." Eiji says patiently to the man, "New York sure is something else, isn't it, Ibe-san?"

 

Ibe looks completely floored by what Eiji just said, the boy had been kidnapped and possibly threatened, yet that didn't seem to bother him. Ibe was starting to wonder just what exactly had Eiji seen while he was traveling to different countries to be so unfazed by all of this.

 

"I'm more worried about Ash, he seemed pretty angry when he was going after Marvin." Eiji changed the subject.

 

Ibe could see what he was doing, but decided to just let it go for now, "Don't worry about Ash, Charlie's gone after him."

 

At this, Eiji breaths a sigh of relief, "Good..."

 

Ibe frowns though as he remembered hearing the full story from Skip. Both Eiji and Ash had to kill some of the gang members just to survive and escape. Eiji's grandfather once confessed to him that should his grandson choose to become a traveler, then he needs to be prepared for the darkness the world keeps hidden. That means Eiji needed to learn to fight and protect himself from said darkness...that includes killing. Eiji is a such pure, kindhearted soul that the very thought of taking someone else's life makes him sick to his very core. There's no telling how many people he's had to kill to save himself from being killed in return, and yet despite all that, he was able to smile. But Ibe knows that deep down Eiji hates having to kill in self defense, he just hides it behind a smile.

 

Ibe can only hope that coming here to New York will awaken the darkness in Eiji's own heart that he keeps locked behind a soft smile, and kind heart.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Ash was pissed.

 

Scratch that—

 

He was beyond pissed! That fucking arrogant cop displaying his past out in the open like that with a fucking smile on his face. He was tempted to beat the shit out of him, but there would be no point. No way in hell he was going to give that son of a bitch the satisfaction of getting a reaction of him. Now here he was in a damn hospital bed because Charlie insisted on him being here because he wanted to make sure he wasn't injured, which he wasn't.

 

"I totally get it." Charlie said, trying to sound sympathetic.

 

You totally get it, huh?

 

Bullshit.

 

Charlie couldn't even begin to understand the power Golzine has over the city of New York, the people he knows, and has under his thumb, lawyers, cops, just about everyone is an enemy.

 

"A couple of people who know Golzine have committed suicides this year. We want to catch him for sure this time."

 

Catch him?

 

And how the hell are you going to do that? Just what the hell do you morons think you can do against him anyway?

 

"This has to do with him, right?"

 

Ash didn't even bother answering him.

 

"You might have a knife under his nose without even knowing it." Charlie was trying to get Ash to talk about something that wasn't very simple to talk about. Just like a cop to care more about a potential case than the victim. Makes him wanna puke, "Are you listening, Ash?"

 

Finally having grown tired to listening to the man's ramblings, Ash turns his head to him angrily, "I know nothing." With an evil glare, he sits up, "I don't care about your game of tag. I didn't kill Marvin, but if somebody else hadn't, I would have."

 

Charlie says nothing.

 

"What can you guys do anyway? How do you plan to indict Dino?" Ash counter questions.

 

Charlie seems to hesitate in answering, "D-Depends on what you tell us."

 

"As if it'll be of any use. He has a team of big shot lawyers. Your high and mighty "rights" are nothing against him," Ash points this out at him, "Even a stupid-ass punk like me knows that. Lock me up for murder if you want I'm just another worthless hoodlum anyway." Having had enough of this conversation, Ash lays back in bed, turning away from Charlie, "Leave me alone."

 

Charlie does just that, he gets out the chair and heads for the door, but before he could leave he turns to look at Ash once more, "For what it's worth...whoever did kill Marvin...did the whole world a favor." With those parting words, he left Ash alone in that bed.

 

Ash showed no reaction to the man's words as he was still looking out the window.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Back at the scene where there were still police officers swarming around, a crowd was starting to gather. It boggles the mind how humans like to gather at crime scenes out of pure curiosity.

 

"Excuse me, miss?"

 

The lady in question turned to the person who was addressing her, only to gasp when she came face to face with a handsome young man with long black hair that was tied in a low ponytail, large dark brown eyes, sporting a black coat that hides what he has covered, black boots, and carrying something long in a black carrying case on his back.

 

"Um, yes...?" She finally answered, but not before ogling the man in front of her.

 

"Can you tell me what happened here?" He politely inquires.

 

"Oh, sure, from what the police are saying it was just another gang related incident, honestly I hope they all wipe each other out! They cause nothing but problems!" She huffed.

 

"I see...thank you for telling me."

 

"Oh, you're most wel—huh, he's gone?"

 

The mysterious man had already walked away, having gotten the information he needed. That wasn't the whole story though, he knew that there was a kidnapping of an Asian male...Eiji Okumura. He knows about it because he had lingered in the area of a bar last night and heard a man mention the name. Placing a black helmet on his head to hide his face he walks over by his motorcycle, getting on it and starting it up.

 

'You just can't seem to stay out trouble, can you?'

 

He speeds off away from the scene as he leaves to track down where a certain Asian male might be.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Said Asian male was currently with Ibe as Charlie asked for them to meet him somewhere. Neither male minded this as they were eager to get some fresh air, Eiji more so than Ibe. Ibe had practically kept the boy locked up last night, refusing to let him leave at night, despite him having double protection (Isabella and his gun) on hand. Not wanting to argue, Eiji decided to listen to Ibe and stay inside a hotel room they had booked last night at the last minute. Eiji decided to take a shower first before giving Isabella a bath afterwards, one his head hit the pillow, he was out like a light. Completely dead to the world until Ibe had to literally shake him awake the next morning. Not long after they had breakfast, Charlie called Ibe and asked if he and Eiji could meet him at the hospital.

 

"How are your injuries from yesterday, Eiji?" Charlie asked.

 

Eiji smiled, "Just fine. Since the bullet only grazed me it didn't take that long for my injury to heal."

 

Isabella growled at the reminder that it was Marvin who had pulled the trigger in the first damn place.

 

Charlie gives him his own smile, "I see..."

 

"So, what's going on?" Ibe pops the question.

 

Charlie's face becomes serious, "Right, we're pulling out for now after what happened. It's too bad, but we'll head back tonight after we go meet Max in prison."

 

Eiji takes a sip from his drink before asking Charlie something, "And...why did you want me to come here with Ibe-san? I already gave you may statement yesterday."

 

"Yeah, about that."

 

Just hearing the hesitation in his voice gave Eiji enough of a clue to know the true purpose of why he was asked to come here with Ibe.

 

"This is about Ash, isn't it?"

 

Charlie doesn't even try to deny it, "Yes, he's planning to fight a mafia don with just a single trump card. A trump card that might not be enough. He's going to be killed for sure before he even gets the chance to try and use it."

 

Ibe looked worried for the boy, Ash may be the leader of his own gang, but he was still just a 17 year old kid. He should be in school, worrying about what normal teenagers should be worried about, like grades, teachers, and girls. Not mafia don's. But then he had to remind himself that Ash wasn't a normal teenage boy...just like Eiji.

 

Eiji had his own thoughts about Ash, a normal seventeen year old wouldn't be that skilled with a gun unless they had training. Meaning there really was more to Ash that meets the eye. There's no telling what horrors Ash might have had to go through to make him the person he is today, but Eiji didn't want to open up that can of worms. And yet, there was a part of him that wanted to connect with the blonde for reasons not even he quite understands.

 

"Eiji, I need you to convince Ash to give us his "trump card." Charlie desperately begs.

 

"Even if you ask me that, I'm not really sure what it is you think I can do. Besides, Ash and I aren't that close, so its possible he might not tell me what it is. Also, I don't feel right trying to get information out of him just for your benefit." As bad as Eiji felt for Charlie, who looked like he was at his wits end, he wasn't just going to convince Ash to do something because Charlie asked him.

 

Ibe decides to ask Charlie something, "What is this "trump card?"

 

Charlie leans back against his chair, "I'm not sure, but Golzine is persistently chasing after Ash. He must have something serious."

 

"People are at their most terrifying when persistent about something," Eiji knows this from personal experience, "But still...why me?"

 

"Because you saved him."

 

Eiji blinked a few times at the man's answer.

 

"You saved him, even if it meant at the very cost of your life. Skip told me yesterday how you stayed captive for his sake, and how you protected him and helped Ash avoid getting recaptured by Arthur. I'd say that's more than enough reason for why he might lend an ear to you than anyone else right now." Charlie was secretly hoping Eiji would agree with him and try to talk some sense into Ash.

 

The Asian male could see where the man was coming from, Ash doesn't trust adults, that much he already knows, but there's also a chance that the blonde wouldn't want to listen to a single thing he has to say. A whine got his attention as he looked down to see it was Isabella who was giving him those eyes. So she was worried about Ash then, it amazed him just how much she's taken a liking to him in such a short amount of time.

 

Guess he'll have to see Ash now.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Ash was staring at the clear blue sky, a bird was perched on the window stand as he simply watched with a bored look. This was pretty much all he could do, since there's no chance in hell they'll let him leave his hospital bed any time soon. His ears picked up the sound of the door opening as he turns his head in that direction, what surprised him was seeing Isabella come into the room. She headed straight for his bed, placing her paws on it as she gives him what he can only guess was a happy look.

 

He blinked a few times before looking at the door then back at her, "Did you learn a new trick or something?"

 

A laugh is his response, "No, but I am trying to teach her how to do that though." Eiji comes walking in, closing the door behind him, "I'm surprised, she's taken a liking to you in just a short amount of time."

 

This was proven by the fact that Isabella lays her head down on Ash's lap.

 

With a huff Ash places a hand on top of her head, "Oh, not looking down on me anymore?"

 

Isabella lets out a snort.

 

"Don't push it," is what she said." Eiji translated.

 

Ash raises a brow, "You understand her?"

 

"She's been with me since we were both little, I can always tell what she's trying to say or think." Not even his own grandfather and Ibe-san can fully understand what goes on inside her mind, but him. He found her as an abandoned and abused little puppy, taking her in and nursing her back to health. She was free to leave, but refused to do so, opting to stay with Eiji at all times, acting as both his bodyguard, and traveling companion.

 

Ash hums in thought, "So you've been together for a long time now."

 

Eiji takes a seat in front of the bed, "I found her when she was just a puppy, she had been beaten and left abandoned out in the rain, so I brought her back home with me."

 

Ash releases a cynical snort, "What a peaceful world we live in. Her owner was probably some random scum, explains why she hates males, except for you."

 

"That includes you, too." Eiji reminds.

 

Ash looks at Isabella, rubbing her head. The blonde doesn't say anything else, but just watching him rub Isabella's head with that look on his face almost made him look like a normal seventeen year old, but the harsh reality is that Ash was not your average seventeen year old. If one were to simply say otherwise because of his appearance, but should they happen to witness what Eiji did back at the bar, and when he was shooting Arthur's men to protect him, their opinions would surely change.

 

"...How's your arm?"

 

Eiji wasn't surprised Ash asked him about his wound, a flesh wound he should say. For as hard as he tries to be on the outside, he was soft person on the inside.

 

"Nothing to worry about, it'll heal quickly," He assures him, "How are you feeling?" Ash didn't suffer from any injuries, so there's no need for him to be in this bed in the first place, but they probably brought him here just to make sure he was really okay.

 

"Look who's asking." Ash retorts with an amused snort, "You were the one who got shot."

 

"Just a graze, so its not a big deal." Eiji shrugs.

 

Ash looks up at the ceiling with a smile, "That was an amazing jump you made when you shot at Arthur's lackeys. The way you fought, when you made those shots...I had no idea you had such talent."

 

Eiji closed his eyes, "You can thank my grandfather for that. He didn't want me to go out into the world unprotected."

 

Ash actually chuckles at this, "Sounds like he was a real badass back in the day."

 

"Back in the day?" More like he's still very skilled, even in his old age. Take my word for it, he's not someone you'd want to challenge." Eiji warns as a joke, but a part of him was serious about it.

 

"Got your ass handed to you, huh." Ash teases.

 

"No comment."

 

Ash softly laughs, the very sound made Eiji's heart warm at the very sound of it. Such a sweet laugh.

 

"Hey, Eiji..." Ash starts, but Eiji already knows what he wants to say.

 

"Yes, Charlie sent me in here, but you're under no obligation to tell me anything you don't want to. But I did want to come check up on you though, so this actually worked out." Eiji did want to see how Ash was feeling, but that was all. It's not in his nature to force others into doing what they don't want to do.

 

Ash smiles anyway, "Did you hear about my past from him?"

 

Eiji frowned at the question. He knew nothing about Ash's past, a part of him believes that he shouldn't know.

 

"No. It's your story to tell, not his or anyone else's." Eiji looks out the window to see two birds flying around eachother, he could feel Ash's eyes on him as his gaze was more focused on the outside.

 

"I envy you." Ash finally breaks the tense silence of the room.

 

"You shouldn't." Eiji instantly says.

 

"Why?"

 

Eiji removes his gaze from the window to Ash, "Being a traveler isn't so bad, but...sometimes it feels like there's something missing..." It's something that goes through Eiji's mind, but he doesn't say anything about it to anyone.

 

"What do you mean?"

 

Eiji shakes his head, "I can't explain it it very well, just that there are times where I feel..."

 

Incomplete...

 

Eiji says as he stands up, "You should get some rest, come on, Isabella."

 

Isabella looked as though she didn't want to move, but did so reluctantly. Ash's eyes were trained on Eiji the whole time he was heading for the door, just as Eiji placed his hand on the handle, he stopped.

 

"No matter what sort of past you have...no one has the right to judge you for it." Eiji turns to smile at him as he says this before leaving the room. Ash keeps his eyes on the door Eiji left through with a newfound feeling in his heart.

 

Ibe and Charlie saw Eiji walk towards them, "Eiji how was it?" Charlie was the one to ask.

 

Eiji gives the man a smile, "I didn't ask him."

 

"What?"

 

"Sorry, Charlie, but I refuse your request." Eiji firmly says.

 

"But—!"

 

"Goodbye." Eiji walks past him without another word.

 

"Wait, Eiji—!"

 

Isabella barks at him as a warning to stay away before following behind Eiji. Ibe sighs as he watchs them leave, "Something told me this would happen. Eiji is too stubborn and strong willed to comply with a request like yours."

 

Charlie rubs the back of his head, "So it seems..." he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket and answers it, "Yes?" His eyes widened, "What?!"

 

Ibe gives him a questionable look.

 

Eiji leaves the building, Isabella by his side as always. He stops before giving the building another look, whatever Ash has in mind he's already decided to settle it himself. Ash is someone who doesn't know how to ask others for help, and even if he did, he probably felt like he couldn't count on them, or they let him down when he needed them the most. What Ash needs is that one person to tell him that he is not alone, that he has allies who will back him up when he needs them.

 

Isabella nudges him with her nose.

 

Eiji smiles down at her, "Let's go eat."

 

Isabella barks in agreement.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

Arthur was seething with rage as he was in his own hideout that also had a bar. He was beyond pissed off, the reason for this was because of that damn Asian, who had thought was some weak, naïve foreigner, only to find the tables turned on him as the Asian proved to be more much more that meets the eye. Not only did he have that damn dog with him that bit his wrist, but to add insult to injury, the little prick shot his ass! Just where the hell did Ash find him from anyway?

 

"Boss!"

 

Whatever it was his grunt had to say he was in no mood to hear of it right now, "What?" He made sure to glare at the idiot just to show how annoyed he was feeling right now.

 

"One of our guys just spotted that Asian guy walking around."

 

At this, Arthur raised a brow, so the guy actually had the guts to walk around in broad daylight? Was he lucky last night or just stupid? No, that punk let himself keep being a hostage on purpose, so who's to say that he wasn't walking around out in the open on purpose, too.

 

"What should we do?"

 

"Follow him, then take him out." Arthur ordered.

 

"Out in the open?"

 

"Of course not, dumbass! Take him out when he's in a secluded area, I don't care what you do, just make sure he's dead!" Arthur yells.

 

"R-Right!"

 

As the guy left, Arthur sat there with a smirk, "I'll get you back for this...you fucker!"

 

-Banana Fish-

 

"ACHOO!"

Isabella looks up at Eiji as he rubs his nose, "Someone must be talking about me, probably Ibe-san." The traveler decided to get a hotdog for lunch, and got Isabella something else. As he unwrapped his hotdog, he thought back to everything that's happened so far. In every country he's been to since he was about 15, this was the first time he had to tangle with a street gang so early on. Getting accidentally involved with gangs and the mafia was nothing new to him of course, but it usually happened after he spent about a month or so in the country he's visited. And in those accidental involvements he was traveling with two other people, and if they were here with him right now he was sure they'd also agree it was too early for the chaos to be happening to soon.

 

Chaos, indeed.

 

He took a bite out of his mustard covered hotdog with a satisfied hum, leave it to New York to have some pretty good tasting hotdogs.

 

"Ah, I knew it! Ei-chan!"

 

That's a voice he recognizes very well, looking up he saw it was Skip, with three people Eiji recognizes to be a part of Ash's gang. One of them was a male with shortish brown hair and thin eyebrows. He was wearing a light blue jacket that he wears unbuttoned over a dark top underneath. Next to him was another, slightly shorter male with long pink hair that is tied into a braid as well as wearing gray suspenders with one strap hanging. This covers a pink undershirt with a green square motive. And finally, next to him was another male who has somewhat of a mohawk based hair style with the sides of his head shaved. He is quite large and wears a tan yellow tank top and a chain around his neck. His trousers are supported by striped red and white suspenders.

 

Eiji smiles at Skip, who comes running over towards him along with the other three, they must be acting at the boy's bodyguards, "Hello there, Skip. How are you?"

 

Skip grins up at him, "I'm good! Man, am I glad we ran into you!"

 

"You were looking for me?"

 

"Of course we were! I was worried Arthur might have sent some of his guys to go after you as payback after what happened last night!" Skip tells him. Poor kid must've been really worried, probably couldn't sleep last night either because he was worried about him.

 

"You don't have to worry about me, I may not look it, but I am tough." Eiji says, with a cheeky smile

 

"I know, I was just telling these guys everything you did yesterday! Oh, Isabella, too!" Skip bent down and rubbed up against her, "Sorry, didn't mean to leave you out."

 

Isabella snorts at him.

 

"She says don't worry about it." Eiji translates.

 

Skip looks at him with amazement, "You speak dog now?!"

 

"Sorry to disappoint you, but I only understand Isabella." Eiji said.

 

"That's still cool."

 

Eiji laughs, "Thank you, by the way, are these three your friends?" He was referring to the three silent guys who all kept looking at him like he was some kind of abnormal anomaly.

 

"Yeah! These guys are part of Ash's gang, they were at the bar, but you probably don't remember them! The pink haired guy is Bones, the tall guy is Kong, and the plain looking guy is Alex." Skip introduces.

 

Alex gives Skip an annoyed look, "Who're you calling plain, Skip? Bones looks just as plain as I do, even with that ugly looking hair color of his."

 

"Hey, pink is awesome!" Bones defended.

 

"Its ugly, and you know it is!"

 

"Oh, fuck you, Alex!"

 

"Sorry, but you're not my type."

 

Kong got in between them, trying to place peacemaker, "No fighting you two."

 

Eiji gives them an amused look, "Ash has some pretty funny friends."

 

"Yeah, I like them, too." Skip agrees.

 

Isabella makes a grumbling sound at the three idiots. So far the only intelligent humans she respects are her boy, and Ash, Skip was okay, but that's only because he's a child.

 

Eiji finished off his hotdog then addressed all of them, "Skip, you wouldn't know of a good place that has some tasty sweets do you?"

 

Skip gives him a smug look, "You're in luck, Ei-chan! I know just the place!"

 

If possible, Eiji's eyes looked more excited than ever before.

 

-Banana Fish-

 

 

They couldn't believe what they just saw.

 

For as small as Eiji looks, the fact that he could eat that many sweets and not throw up, let alone look sick was the most astonishing thing they've ever seen.

 

While they were looking both disgusted, and amazed at the sight, Eiji was busy rubbing his stomach with a satisfied smile on his face, "No regrets..." he let out a satisfied smile, leaning back against his chair.

 

Alex still couldn't believe what the hell he just saw, "He ate all of it..."

 

"Amazing..." Kong stared.

 

"I don't think even the Boss has been able to do that before." Bones commented.

 

Eiji sits up and looks at them, "That was really good, thank you for telling me about this place, Skip."

 

"You're welcome, but wow can you really eat, Ei-chan!" Skip compliments, "You should compete in those all you can eat contests! I bet you'd win!"

 

"Oh, I already did that."

 

...

 

...

 

...

 

Wait, he's serious?!

 

"For real?! Did you win?!" Skip eagerly wanted to know.

 

"I did," Eiji confirms, "It was being held in London, and I just happened to be passing by the city where it was being held. They were picking people from the audience to come up and see how many sweets they could eat before passing out. By some sort of luck, I was chosen at random and ended up winning, if I recall...I had about 56 plates left. The other competitors had already passed out by my 27, or 32 plate?" Such fond memories of that time they were.

 

"You ate that much?! Damn!" Alex was impressed, if not still a little disturbed.

 

"Dude, give me some tips!" Bones practically begged.

 

"How can your stomach even eat that much?" Kong was the one to pop the question.

 

The Asian male couldn't help, but chuckle at their antics. These are the guys Ash treasures, and looks after. He deeply cares about these guys and wouldn't want anything to happen to them, and they respect him just as much. He's lucky to have them.

 

"Hey, Ei-chan? Did you get to see Ash?" Skip quietly asks, but there's a hint of worry in his tone.

 

Eiji decides to reassure him, "I did. I don't know why, but Charlie has him hold up in a hospital even though he wasn't injured at all last night. My guess is, he's probably keeping him there because it's safer."

 

Alex crosses his arms, "That makes sense, but Arthur can try to get to him there, too though."

 

Eiji frowns as he thought back to what Charlie told him about Marvin, "Charlie told me and Ibe-san yesterday that some of the police officers believe he shot Marvin."

 

As expected, the others were shocked and angry.

 

"That's a load of bullshit!" Alex growled.

 

"That's right, the boss didn't kill that guy, we know he didn't!" Kong defended.

 

"He's being framed!" Bones declared.

 

"You don't think he killed Marvin, do you Ei-chan?" Skip asked him.

 

Eiji shook his head, "Ash didn't kill Marvin. Someone else killed him, Charlie believes the mafia don they're trying to put away had Marvin killed himself, and framed Ash because he knows something he's not supposed to."

 

"Golzine..." Alex growled in anger.

 

'Golzine...' So that's the man that runs the mafia here in America.

 

Skip looked angry, "I really hate that guy! Ash is gonna take him down, so he's scared and decided to frame him!"

 

"Doesn't surprise me." Alex commented.

 

"Should we try to break the Boss out of the hospital he's staying at?" Kong suggested.

 

"We probably shouldn't." Bones said with a shake of his head.

 

Knowing Ash, he's probably already thinking about his next move. While it's definitely true they will probably send him to prison on the false charge of murder, Ash will be spending his time there thinking about what move he should make next. Since this Golzine person framed the blonde for murder, there's a strong possibility he'll have someone from inside the prison they'll be sending Ash to kill him while he's in there. That's what has Eiji worried, all of the prisoners could be the ones hired to try and kill him while he's in there. He wasn't saying Ash couldn't take care of himself, let alone take anyone taller than him down, he was still worried they would be able to get a sneak attack on him.

 

As he set his drink down there was movement out of the corner of his eye. Standing there in one of the alleys, right across the street from the sweet place he could see four males watching them, while hiding in the shadows. Arthur's men, no doubt. Must've been following him the whole time, unfortunately for them, Eiji was always on his guard because if there's one thing he's learned from his grandfather is that you should never let your guard down, even if you're just relaxing and having a good time. Arthur really is a petty person.

 

"Huh, where are you going, Ei-chan?" Skip questions, the other three give him questionable looks as well.

 

Eiji smiles at them, "Sorry to just up and leave like this, but we're being watched."

 

Alex didn't react, but did discreetly turn his eyes in the direction of the alley across the street, and sure enough did see some suspicious looking guys looking their way.

 

"Its Arthur!" Hey growled.

 

Eiji's places money on the table, "Thank you for hanging out with me today."

 

"Eh, wait, Ei-chan—!" Skip tries to stop the male, but Eiji was already out the door, Isabella right on his heels. Eiji decided to lead them away, so they wouldn't hurt any civilians. He saw them following him out of the corner of his eye, which was good because that proved he was their only target and nobody else. Looks like they were ignoring Ash's gang, and Skip, too. What he plans on doing now is luring them away from a crowded area, and the only place to lead them to would be...

 

Footsteps were soon heard, as they were heading towards the direction Eiji and Isabella had disappeared to. As they ran to the entrance of an alley however, the running stopped.

 

BANG!

 

"Argh!"

 

One of Arthur's lackeys falls to the ground, clutching his shin as it was shot at by none other than Eiji, who was standing there with Isabella by his side, gun out.

 

"I'm sorry for shooting you all of a sudden, but because you're with Arthur I can't let my guard down." Eiji said calmly, as his arm was still raised to shoot at them. Isabella was growling at them.

 

"Sneaky son of a—!" He was cut off however as he was hit upside the head with a pole, courtesy of someone else.

 

"What the—!" Another thug was cut off again with a punch to the face by someone else. Soon the alley was filled with more thugs, only they weren't here for Eiji.

 

"These are Arthur's guys, get 'em!" Alex ordered as the newcomers started beating up some of Arthur's guys. Eiji stood there surprised, but impressed with how fast Alex managed to gather these guys up to help him.

 

"Ei-chan!"

 

"Skip?"

 

Skip came running towards him, "You okay? They didn't hurt you did they?"

 

"No, I'm fine, but how..."

 

Skip grins at him, "I'm good at finding people, and the other guys wanted to thank you for treating them to some sweets earlier and wanted to thank you. Alex gathered everyone up to come help you."

 

Eiji was still surprised Alex would even do such a thing for him, but was touched by the thought. Ash has some amazing friends.

 

The fight didn't drag on for long though, as the members of Ash's gang took down Arthur's men very easily. Eiji was impressed, yet at the same time wasn't as these were the people under Ash. It was clearly obvious who was the better leader, because only the better leaders have the better fighters.

 

Alex grabbed one by his collar, bringing his face closer to his, "Did Arthur tell you guys to stalk and kill Eiji?"

 

"...fuck you..." The guy spat.

 

"I'll take that as a "yes" then. Go to sleep!" Alex punched the guy into unconsciousness.

 

Eiji sighed, "Arthur really does seem like the petty and vindictive type."

 

"No kidding," Skip agreed before giving Eiji a worried look, "You okay, Ei-chan?"

 

"I'm okay, they didn't lay a hand on me." Eiji assures him, "Thank you for coming to my rescue."

 

"Don't mention it." Alex was the one that spoke, "You protected both the Boss and Skip for us, the least we can do is return the favor, and help you out."

 

"Thanks for treating us to some sweets earlier." Bones thanked.

 

"They were very good!" Kong complimented with a grin.

 

Just as Eiji was about to say something, his cellphone went off in his pocket. Charlie found both his and Skip's cellphones on the road yesterday, and while his didn't have a cracked screen, Skip's was a different story. He took it out of his pocket and saw it was Ibe, "Yes, Ibe-san?" Eiji frowned as he heard what Ibe was telling him on the other side of the phone, "I see...thank you for telling me, Ibe-san."

 

"What's wrong, Ei-chan?" Skip saw the expression on Eiji's face and guessed something bad must've happened.

 

Eiji didn't know how to break it to them, and just decided to say it, "That was Ibe-san, Ash has been sent to the State Prison."

 

Skip, Alex, Bones, and Kong's eyes widened at the news.

 

Golzine has made his first move against Ash.


Across the River and into the Trees, The Traveler in Chinatown, and Wandering Man in Black