Here's a part two, since you guys wanted it :) Part one is here! It would make sense if you read that one first :) Enjoy, my lovelies <3 ✨
Ash didn't know exactly how long he had been standing outside as he tried to process the question Eiji had just asked him. It felt like a damn eternity. Was Eiji teasing him? Yeah. That seemed reasonable. But a part of him imagined the reunion going in a whole other direction. Full of hugs and tears and laughter.
Not confusion and awkwardness and pain.
"Good joke," he laughed nervously "What's next, forgetting that you came to New York? Do you really hate me that much, Eiji?"
That came out harsher than intended. It was the sleep deprivation talking, mainly.
"Um.." He looked for any signs of recognition on Eiji's face. His jade eyes scanning over the other boys features, finally stopping at his eyes. His lovely doe eyes that Ash would lose himself in, more often than not.
The same eyes that had looked at him with so much love all of the time. When Ash knew he didn't deserve it. But, confusion was the only thing he could swimming around in the two pools of chocolate.
Ash then turned to Ibe in growing alarm, who glanced at the blond boy with the same pitiful look, that Max had given him hours earlier, etched into his features as if he'd shown it many times before.
The tension had grown significantly as the three of them stood silently.
Ash decided to glare at Ibe, looking for answers. The latter noticed and cleared his throat; interrupting the song of the crickets in the bushes a few paces away from them. "Ash, why don't you sleep in Ei-chan's room. Is okay you with you, Ei-chan?"
They both looked at Eiji for confirmation- who nodded in reply, smiling and beckoning them both inside. He explained that he'd get the other bed ready and be right back down, bounding up the stairs and down the hallway as they heard a door click shut.
Ash whirled on the other man, arms crossed. "Care to explain? Why the fuck doesn't he remember me?"
In response, Ibe only let out a sigh. He looked extremely tired. Ash only then noticed the dark bags under the man's eyes, aging him up significantly (despite only being in his late 20's).
"Look, I'll explain everything in the morning-"
"It is the morning."
Ibe shot him a somewhat desperate look. It was amusing to tease him, sometimes "Later today. You can meet everyone tomorrow too. Eiji's mother and also little sister-"
Eiji appeared on the stairs again, inviting Ash upstairs, oddly excited. Ash bid Ibe farewell and trekked upstairs and into Eiji's bedroom, who followed behind eagerly.
This was a sight he never thought he'd see.
The room seemed fairly normal and generic: a single bed on the far side of the room, (a newly placed futon beside it), a desk with books piled on top untidily, posters and pictures adorning most of the walls.
It felt strange. The only rooms he was used to were the rich, fancy huge bedrooms with silk covering the double beds. The draft still reaching him no matter how far into the covers he would retreat. Never left alone, no matter the day or occasion-
"I used to be a pole-vaulter." Eiji's voice came timidly from behind (sounding slightly unsure of his own statement), shaking Ash from his stupor as the smaller boy retrieved a picture from his desk, handing it over to the blond.
Ash's breath hitched. It was the picture. The one that sparked Ibe's fame in the photography world; the picture Eiji promised to show him.
The picture that he never thought he would get to see.
It was beautfiul. He had never been into photography but this photo... It was astounding. It had been caught mid-jump. The pole just a few millimetres away from Eiji's hand, as the boy had manoeuvred himself in a way that guaranteed him a high place on the scoreboard. Ash even picked up on the faint smile that graced Eiji's lips, knowing that he had made it over.
All frozen in time.
"Were you good?" Ash asked, as he slowly approached the desk to place the photo back. He didn't want to disturb anything else with his already intruding presence.
Eiji bashfully fiddled with the hem of his shirt, avoiding Ash's gaze that was not even focused on him "According to Ibe-san, I was 'the best there ever was'. But weirdly, I don't remember doing it. So maybe I was... Maybe I wasn't..."
"I bet you were..." He placed the picture gently down, roughly from where Eiji had retrieved it from, noticing a piece of paper. Scribbled onto it was basic details:
19 years old
My birthday is May 2nd 3rd
I think I was a pole-vaulter. Im a photographer now?
I have a sister??? She's a brat. But she's also very nice. Ak
Who is the man with purp
Ash's mind berated him. That could be any person with purple hair, idiot. Averting his eyes, he went over to the futon laid out neatly for him and lay down. Eiji hurried over to settle onto the bed above and peaked his head over the end, resting his head in his hand, seemingly not wanting the conversation to end yet.
"I've never seen you before... What brought you to Japan?" Eiji asked curiously, tucking his hair behind his ear with his other hand.
Oh but you have seen me before (Ash was desperate to say) through both my highs and lows... Instead, he thought of a plausible excuse.
"Oh... I'm uh- I'm a photography student back in America. Yeah! I was deeply inspired by Ibe's works and decided that I wanted to learn his ways." He applauded himself for that excuse, throwing his arm behind his head.
Eiji grinned "I'm currently learning his ways too! I guess we're both classmates now."
"But you're so old compared to me." Ash teased.
"I'm... 19." (it pained Ash to witness how long it took for Eiji to remember trivial things such as his own age).
"One year older than me, grandad." He smirked "You should sleep soon, you can't miss taking your morning strolls. That's hazardous to your health!"
Eiji rolled his eyes at that statement. "Well, you can bond with my little sister in the meantime. You two are on the same level of immaturity." Ash laughed.
Still as good with his retaliations as always. At least that hadn't been taken away.
Eiji held out his hand "Eiji Okumura. Nice to meet you, fellow classmate. And you are?"
Ash lifted one of his hands to meet Eiji's in a handshake. "Aslan Callenreese. Though, you can just call me Ash. Pleasured to make your acquaintance, Eiji."
Ash could look at the positives here. This Eiji had no idea of what his past was like. As far as he knew, Ash was a curious photographer from America seeking guidance from Ibe. Eiji had no knowledge of the blood on his hands. He didn't have to know...
For the first time, in a while, he drifted off into a dreamless sleep.
Only to be woken by Eiji shaking his shoulders enthusiastically, informing him that breakfast was ready. Ash grumbled in his reply; of course Eiji didn't remember that he was not a morning person.
He rose after a few minutes of negotiations with Eiji, having being promised some coffee to help him wake up. He was going to need it.
After all, Ibe had promised to tell him about the incident.