Title Like Living Ghosts
Fandom Banana Fish
Character(s)/Pairing(s) Ash, Eiji; Ash/Eiji if you choose to take it that way
Word Count 1,813
Disclaimer Banana Fish c. Yoshida, Flower Comics, Viz, MAPPA
Summary Sometimes the reflections in things are reflections of others, another self in another time always lurking. The Ash and Eiji of the past and the Ash and Eiji of the future sometimes glimpse the others' world like spirits haunting one another.
Notes Since watching the first PV for the anime, I've been thinking about how to translate iconic scenes from the 80's into the 10's like a mirror almost. I guess it must have influenced me because when I was folding clothes last night I suddenly got ALL THE WORDS and wrote up the first draft of this in the span of about three hours. I took some time to rework it. The break between sections indicates a shift in POV, which sometimes means a shift in time. I wanted the transitions to be clearly marked so it wouldn't get confusing.
Like Living Ghosts
There was another world in reflections. If someone chose to pay attention, only for a moment, they might see another life, another universe out there somewhere staring back at them. The world in these reflections was cleaner, but not safer. Even if Ash wanted to imagine that the two teens he saw huddled over some kind of over-glorified calculator from time to time were better off than they were, he could not believe it. Even if the sidewalks, benches, buildings – everything – was cleaner, there was no way the people were cleaner. The boy with the longish hair obscuring his vision had seen everything Ash had seen. Ash knew this.
Ash leaned against a corner of the windowsill and rested his head against the glass. It was dark and even the gang activity had dropped off for the night. He could hear Eiji sleeping from the bed closest to the window. Ash closed his eyes and after a long time, he heard Eiji sit up, get out of bed, and walk towards him. Ash opened his eyes and looked away from the window, not in the mood to see other faces.
Eiji stared at the city out the window, leaning against the part of the sill Ash was not using. He murmured something in Japanese and after a long pause clarified in English, "It is alive." Even at the quietest, deadest the city ever got there was activity everywhere.
Ash followed the moment of Eiji's eyes as Eiji took in the city in the early hour. Ash continued to lean against the windowsill, both of them existing in the same space. Ash was not sure how he let it become like this, but he also had no desire to move away from Eiji either.
Eiji stifled a yawn with a murmur that was not quite English but not quite Japanese either. He stopped leaning on the windowsill and rubbed his face. "Not awake," he said.
"Then sleep," Ash said. He stood up and ran his hands through his hair. "Not like we have to be anywhere."
Eiji opened his mouth, but only managed a yawn before nodding and flopping back down on his bed. He was soon asleep.
Ash watched him a moment and then left the bedroom, moving deeper into the apartment. He opened the bathroom door and stared at the face in the mirror. It was the same dark circles, the same lips pressed into a thin line, the same eyes staring through the reflection, but it was not him. Ash shook his head and splashed water on his face. He had a lot he needed to do.
New York was as impressive as it was in the movies and on TV. As the fog of all the things he lost due to injury lifted, Eiji marveled at the reflection of the sky on the buildings, but remained mindful of the people they passed on the streets. He stuck close to Ash who navigated the flow of people. They stopped with the crowd at a crosswalk and Eiji felt his phone rest against his fingers in his pocket. He could still remember one of the first things Ash did was help him disable the tracking on his phone. Ash said that it was too dangerous and intrusive. Eiji was reluctant to let Ash tamper with his phone, but now that Eiji had been at Ash's side for a month, he was glad he did not accidentally attract bad people to their door.
A bus turned in front of them and Eiji's free hand touched his hair, checking to see if it really was that wild as it seemed in the reflection. He frowned a little and looked at Ash's reflection. "Indiana Jones…" he murmured to himself and the bus pulled away. Not the rugged Jones, but the younger one in that one movie one of his friends liked.
"What?" Ash asked.
"Nothing," Eiji said. He must have been looking at the wrong people, but he knew he was looking right at them, another them. There were always times Eiji swore his hair stuck up at all ends in a mirror or he looked more like one of the field boys than track for a split second if he saw himself in a parked car when out running. Maybe it was his own spirit haunting himself, almost like some kind of iriryō, but without the manifestation or vengeful intent.
Eiji's phone vibrated and he checked it. It was a text from his sister he could answer later. He put his phone in his pocket and then took it out again, looking at his reflection in it. No matter where he was he never saw the other Eiji reflected on his phone. He glanced at building they passed and for a brief moment, Ash was stockier and Eiji wore jeans instead of slacks. Eiji looked back at his phone, but he was still himself. He was always himself when reflected in video game screens growing up too.
"Cellphone cellphone in the hand…" Ash said with a small smirk.
Eiji put his phone back in his pocket. "It said I am fairest," Eiji said, the corner of his mouth moving upwards as he grinned. "You are not."
Ash snorted. He led them down a street that would lead them to the place they promised to meet Max and Ibe. Eiji looked over his shoulder after Ash looked behind them. He was not sure who or what to look for. He did not see anyone resembling Arthur or anyone else that caused problems. He took a deep breath. He had a feeling things would get more hectic before they would get better.
It was always out of the corner of Ash's eyes, a dirtier world that reflected how he felt. The rain seemed to strengthen the conduit effect, sustaining the image of the other world especially when Ash wished to keep looking at it. It made no logical sense, but just being able to see any of it at all in a reflection already lacked sense anyway. Ash stared at the reflection in the window. Not only was he stockier with his hair swept away from his face, the apartment also changed. His apartment was rundown but the reflection of the walls and the appliances seemed to be worse and significantly older. The rain poured and he could hear someone in the next apartment struggling to breath against the smog.
Eiji walked over to him. In the window, his hair seemed to stick up on end like a chick's feathers and he looked worried. Ash sighed and turned to look at Eiji, catching that same worried gaze, but with cuter hair.
Eiji set a mug full of tea down in front of him. "You are worried," Eiji said.
"Just thinking," Ash said. He touched the handle of his mug. It was blue, but in the window's reflection, it had been white. Ash looked back at the window, but the reflection was accurate now.
Eiji rested his hands on his own mug, letting the porcelain warm his fingers. "I am worried," he admitted. "You do not sleep."
Ash looked away from the window. Eiji's gaze was on his face. Ash sighed. "I sleep," he said. He did, though he could not remember the last time he slept more than a few hours a night. He had been bad at sleeping since elementary school. With everyone happening lately, it only seemed to make it harder to stay asleep.
"Not enough," Eiji said. He sipped his tea. "We are in this," Eiji paused and emphasized, "forever."
Ash opened his mouth and closed it. Ever since Eiji promised to stay, Ash pointed out that Eiji did not have to make it forever, but Eiji insisted. He sipped his tea, preferring the taste once it cooled.
"You begin to agree," Eiji said, his lips turning into a smirk.
"Maybe," Ash said. "Don't get cocky."
Eiji's grin widened. Ash could almost hear the dick joke coming, but Eiji closed his mouth and then checked his vibrating phone. "I should talk," he said.
Ash nodded. He watched Eiji get up from the table and take the call, speaking in Japanese to the caller. Ash sipped his tea again and looked at the window. The other him looked back until a flash of lightning disrupted the reflection, leaving Ash with only himself.
Eiji put his hands in the pockets of the varsity jacket he borrowed. It was a cold rain and everyone on the sidewalk moved faster. Ash was dressed in preppy clothes, both of them blending into the university crowd at the library they just left. The rain was steady but not heavy and the people around them moved faster along the sidewalk. Eiji stuck close to Ash. He found his attention going to the store windows they passed. Every reflection seemed to be them but not them. The clothing and hair were not right, but somehow Eiji knew the reflections were connected to them.
Ash's posture tensed. "What is it?" Ash asked.
"Other spirits," Eiji said. He could feel Ash's eyes on him. Eiji tugged Ash towards one of the shops much to the annoyance of the other people on the sidewalk. He maneuvered them so that they stood in front of the shop window where they could see themselves easily and then asked, "What do you see?"
Ash looked at the window and then said, "Us."
"Yes, but not us," Eiji said. "My hair is…not right. Your hair is long. Our clothes are wrong." He looked away from the reflection to Ash.
Ash's eyes narrowed and he put his hands in his pockets. He looked at Eiji and then back at the window. "Now it's us," he said.
Eiji nodded. "They leave quickly," he said.
Ash nodded and they rejoined the movement of the sidewalk, working their way back to the apartment. Ash avoided looking at their reflections, but Eiji watched as the reflections seemed to oscillate between themselves and the Ash with his hood up and the Eiji who was dressed closer to how the Ash standing beside Eiji was dressed currently. It was almost hypnotic.
They reached the apartment complex and Ash let them inside. They headed towards their apartment as they always did, both of them keeping watch for what might be lurking behind or in front of them. They entered the apartment cautiously and checked for threats but there were none.
Eiji passed by the opened bathroom door and paused. The other Eiji looked back at him through the mirror briefly before Eiji blinked and his normal reflection appeared. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. No matter how many times he saw his other self he could not get used to it, but he could not helping hoping that all of them would get through this.