Chapter 14: Golden

Ash arrived early to the event, as he would need time to setup Harlow's equipment and speak with Julian.

"What kind of music do you want?" Ash asked, kneeling on the ground before the Dj stand, messing around with the cables. They were currently in the balcony that stood above of the long pool that splayed out in the 'backyard 'of the producer's mansion. It was more like the rest of the land, because Ash could only guess that the line of trees a few miles back was the end of the backyard.

"There's going to be all type of people in this party. Old, young, important." Julian's eyes watched as the staff set up tables and trays of food. He turned to look at Ash with a smirk, and reached out to run a hand through the top of Ash's head. "Play something danceable but not too distracting. You know how it goes, something sexy, just like you."

Ash flinched away from his touch, struggling to keep the red from reaching his face. "Um, yeah, got it."

The tall, longhaired man walked off, shouting some instructions to the staff. Ash bit his lip, watching him go. Maybe Gary was right. Maybe doing this gig wasn't such a good idea.

Pulling out his cellphone from his back pocket, Ash frowned when he saw no new messages or calls.

Dammit, Gary. Ash stuffed the cellphone back with haste, casting off a worried look into the sunset. I'm sorry.

"A drink, sir?" A waiter sent by Julian offered, a tentative look in his face.

"Nothankyousir; No!" Ash hissed in between gritted teeth, nearly biting his tongue off after he said it. He watched the waiter leave with regret, one hand reaching up to pulled at raven hair.

With time people began to filter in the open area, but even then Gary had yet to respond any of Ash's messages. Beginning with a casual, soft beat, Ash let the music play on it own as he wrote one last text message.

'Call me Gary I'm sorry" With one push of a button the message was sent and Ash sighed once more, attempting to focus on the party he was supposed to be dj-ing for. He wasn't drinking because of Gary. Ash knew that after the first drink, he was probably going to end up wasted playing the music and dancing in a stupor before the dj stand, like he usually did. Despite the urge to do that and just forget—Ash knew Gary wouldn't find it too amusing when he would arrive home early in the morning, the smell of alcohol emanating from his body.

Less than an hour later, the night had descended and the party was beginning to shape up. Ash was concentrating hard on the music, trying to avoid the waiters' eyes and unusually aware of the weight of his cellphone, and it's lack of vibration. Gary had yet to call or text.

"Ugh, I'm such a jerk. Why did we even end up arguing in the first place? I don't have a problem with drinking, I just like to drink—"

"Ashy boy!" Ash was pulled out of his thoughts by Julian's hand clasping upon his shoulder. He spun around and found himself in front of a group of five men, one whom he recognized as the producer from that night at Slackline.

"Hey Julian, what's up?" Ash pushed off his headphones, dropping them around his neck. He was unusually nervous tonight. Maybe because of the lack of drinking, and maybe because the memory of the conversation he had with at Harlow earlier today still lingered…

Ash sounded aggravated. "I just don't know why Gary got that way, things seemed to be okay!"

Harlow looked sceptical. "You don't get it, don't you? Maybe Gary's upset because you got wasted, and because he doesn't want you to get hurt! Maybe Gary doesn't want you to go to the party tonight because he's seen the way Julian is, and knows that your going to get wasted again-"

"What do you mean 'the way Julian is'?" Ash blinked, confused.

Harlow made an exasperated sound. "Jeez, Ash sometimes you can be so oblivious. I mean it in the way that Julian doesn't know how to keep his hands to himself! He doesn't treat us like normal people; he treats us employees like toys. As long as we're pretty enough for him he can't stop touching us! Common, tell me you've noticed!"

Julian just threw him a wolfish smile; Ash gulped.

"This is out lovely host, Clay." Julian threw one arm over the producer's shoulders, a thick man with unruly curls of brown hair underneath a wide cowboy hat. "He says he likes the way you've been playing."

"Yeah, you better keep playing that way, kid!" A younger, blue haired man interjected, inducing laughter in the rest of the men.

Ash nodded several times, struggling to conjure a smile. "Thanks! You've got it!"

"But there's something else, Ash." Julian began poking Clay in the chest with one free finger, beer bottle still in hand. "I was just talking about you, and mentioned you're also a frontier brain..."

"I heard you're an experienced battler." Clay said, hooking his finger in on the arm seams of his vest, inspecting Ash thoroughly.

A sense of dread built up in Ash, wishing to avoid the topic. "W-well, I do okay, I guess."

"Alright, then." Clay slapped Julian in the back, giving him an agreeing nod before looking back at Ash. "Participate in an exhibition match with another guest of mine, prove you're worth! You might be up to level, granted you bear an official status as a Pokémon battler."

"Wait, what?" Ash nearly doubled back. "I can't possibly battle, I'm supposed to be Dj-ing—"

"Don't you have your Pokémon on you? Or what is it?" Clay cut him off, his stern eyes upon Ash.

"Yes but—"

"Then Ash, just do it." Julian's voice came off as exasperated, a slight whine in it. "I promised Clay you would battle, don't be so hard to deal with."

Julian's commentary erupted laughter from the men once more. Ash tried to remember the days when he would have never refused a Pokémon battle, of better days when his life was lit by excitement. Gathering a small amount of determination, Ash nodded.

"Alright, let's do this!"

Julian made a sound of glee, clapping his hands together. "Well then, its all set! Let me gather the people, and your opponent, obviously! I think you have a very good shot of standing a chance! Everybody else here is too afraid to battle him!"

"Battle him? Battle who?" Ash asked, but Julian was already striding off, catching Ash's wrist and tugging him along. They stopped at the top of the stairwell, much to Ash's dread.

Ash felt himself go white when Julian began clinging at his beer bottle with the ring on his finger, calling all the guests attention. Everybody hushed, and turned to look. The flash of a camera went off.

Oh god, people can't know I'm here, I can't have them talking about me or having my picture published…

"Ladies and gentlemen! I am very happy to introduce you to Ash Ketchum, Battle Frontier Brain of Saffron City!" Julian held up Ash's wrist, much to his embarrassment, as the crowd gave him a round of restrained applause. He nodded along, wishing he could disappear. Gary was right. Doing this gig was a definite bad idea.

"Let just say that he'll be a worthy opponent tonight, for the other guest of the night…. Lance, Kanto League Champion!"

This time the crowd applauded heartily, some even crying out in enthusiasm. Ash felt something drop in his chest. He was battling Lance?! Lance the freaking champion?

"Lance, get on up here, don't be shy!" Julian was waving for someone in the crowd to come forward, but Ash couldn't quite see him. The flash of the cameras with were blinding him from seeing-

And then, he was there, standing right in front of them. Ash recognized him from when he was younger… His strong build, his red hair, his golden eyes- Which were looking straight at him with a glint, a grin upon his face. Lance held out a hand.

"Ash. We meet again."

Ash shook his hand but said nothing, still in much shock. Lance's grip was tight and firm, before falling back and waving at the crowd, smiling for the cameras.

Their battlefield would be the long stretch of land that followed after the pool, the people gathering around the edges of the field, the air sparking with anticipation. Ash couldn't remember the last time he had been as excited or as nervous about a battle as he was feeling at the moment.

"Lance, Kanto League Champion, versus Ash Ketchum, Battle Frontier brain!" Julian, as the referee, announced to the crowd. "This is a one on one exhibition battle! The Pokémon who is first unable to battle loses!"

"Good luck, Ash!" Lance called out, a poke ball in hand and a gleam of excitement in his eyes. "I want to see how far you've gotten since we've last met!"

A sense of unease caused by Lance's comment unsettled Ash, but he decisively ignored it. "We're going to give it all we've got!"

"May the battle begin!" The referee's whistle went off; both champion and trainer threw out their pokeballs, illuminating the scene with bursts of red light.

"Feraligatr, I chose you!"

"Dragonite, come out and prepare to battle!"

The two Pokémon materialized from their pokeballs, both fearsome and growling. The crowd watching made sounds of awe, an airborne Dragonite before them, and a powerful, growling Feraligatr nearby.

"A dragon type, of course!" Ash remembered first seeing a dragonite in lake rage. Feraligatr was barely a totodile back then. But somehow this one looked smaller and of less bulk. Ash wondered if it was the same. "Feraligatr, use ice beam!"

"Dragonite dodge, use dragon dance!" Lance called out. The charging ice beam from Feraligatr's maw was swiftly avoided, the Dragonite charging to a side with a battle cry. Around it, purple and red energy started crackling in the air, swirling around the beast.

"Oh, really?" Ash taunted, unfazed. "Feraligatr, use dragon dance as well!"

The crowd made a sound of surprise as the air around the steady Feraligatr began dancing with purple and red energy as well, the gator's glaring eyes following the Dragonite as it flew near the edges of the field.

"Impressive, Ash!" Lance smirked, crossing his arms. "But the game has just begun! Dragonite, dragon rush!"

The golden dragon preformed a vertical swirl in the air, gaining momentum, as a purple energy field began cascading and building up around its body. Feraligatr lifted itself up onto its rear legs with a cry, awaiting orders from its trainer.

"Stop it in itss track with hydro pump!" Ash called out. Opening its massive jaws, a mass of water built up before Feraligatr before shooting forwards, full speed ahead, colliding into the incoming Dragonite's charge. Bursting through a wall of water, Dragonite met the Feraligatr in a stumbled smash, both reptiles falling backwards. Feraligatr's feet dug into the ground, just barely sliding along the ground from the impact while the dragonite struggled to gain it's equilibrium and fly away to safety.

"Both Pokémon receive damage, though Feraligatr has taken the attack with fair ease!" The Julian confirmed, the crowd cheering in awe.

"Feraligatr, Ice beam! Again!" Ash didn't wait for Lance's order. "Follow it this time! Don't stop until it hits!"

Another beam of ice surged forwards from Feraligatr's maw, tearing forwards, following the dragon's airborne movements.

"It looks like the champion is in trouble, ladies and gentlemen!" Julian shrilled.

Dragonite dashed forwards, the ice beam trailing just behind it.

"Block and attack it with hyper beam!" Lance shouted.

All eyes followed the dragonite in movement, the streaming ice beam close behind. From within its jaw, a ball of hot white energy grew, until it burst forwards in a trail of light. The two streaks collided, the ice beam shattering and faltering. Feraligatr stopped in surprise and out of breath.

"Feraligatr! Don't stop! Dodge! Run!" Ash cried out, but the hyper beam neared its target: it was too late. The beam struck the ground before slashing right through the gator. With a garbled cry, Feraligatr was thrown into the sky, suddenly masked by a chaotic cloud of dust the lifted itself from the ground.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, what a hit! Will the Feraligatr still hold up after that powerful hyper beam?"

Ash had to cover his eyes with his forearm, the cloud of dust rushing towards him. Finally he spotted Feraligatr still standing among the rubble, panting and severely scratched. It gave out a challenging cry, its narrow eyes watching the Dragonite above.

"Alright, Feraligatr!" A spark of hope invaded Ash, cheering Feraligatr on, though he knew Feraligatr wouldn't withstand another attack. "We've made it this far! Once again, Dragon Dance!"

Lance frowned. "It's no use, Ash! You only have special attacks and dragon dance only raises physical attacks! Dragonite, hyper beam, again!"

Ash knew Lance didn't want to risk another hydro pump to the face, thus he would stay at a distance. Once again, the ball of energy within the dragon's jaws began charging. The swirl of red and purple energy around Feraligatr crackled until coming to an end, Feraligatr crying out in determination.

"You're right, Lance!" Ash called from the other side of the field. "But it also raises speed! Feraligatr, dodge!"

With an unprecedented swiftness, the Feraligatr burst from its spot, seconds before the hyper beam landed. It moved as if it were on water, dashing towards Dragonite. The crowd gasped at the lethal speed and swiftness.

"Feraligatr, use dragon claw!" Ash's order came to a surprise to everybody as well. The blue reptile jumped into the air, where the still recovering Dragonite remained in its spot.

"Dragonite! No! Dodge it!" The champion called out, but it was too late. The overpowered attack laded straight on its face, sending the dragon down into the ground with a pained cry. It collided heavily, lifting another cloud of dust into the air. The audience gasped, murmurs filling the air.

"Dragonite takes a super effective hit!" The Julian's voice floated from beyond the dust cloud. "Will Dragonite withstand?"

The air cleared, and in the middle of the field, lay dragonite, struggling to stand itself up while was Feraligatr on his rear feet, claw still raised.

"Come on dragonite, I know you can do it!" Lance encouraged, his hands bunching up into fist.

"Feraligatr! Ice beam!" A strange panicked frenzy overcame Ash. To him, it didn't matter whether the Dragonite was still struggling. In his reeling head, there was no Dragonite, rather a Garchomp ready to aim a powerful dragon rush towards Ash's chest, ready to shatter several of his ribs and send Ash flying into the ground, where he'd be unable to breath or call out for help. He couldn't let that happen.

The Feraligatr seemed to hesitate…

"Finish it! Now!'

…But shook it off, charging another ice beam within its maw. Dragonite was struggling onto it's feet, shaking—

"Dragonite, fly!" Lance cried out, but it was too late. The ice beam collided into the dragon's chest, sending it soaring backwards. Lance merely avoided the Dragonite's body by jumping aside, as it skidded across the field until it finally halted.

The crowd was hushed quiet. After a long moment, it was evident the dragonite was no longer moving.

"Dragonite is unable to battle! The winner is battle frontier brain Ash!"

The crowd erupted into applause. Ash remained in his spot, dazed. He had just won? There was no longer any Garchomp in sight. Once again, Ash was back at the party, and the battle had ended. Only when Feraligatr had rushed towards him and tackled him down did he snap out his stupor.

"Ugh- Feraligatr! We won, Feraligatr! Can you believe it? We won!" Ash wrestled with the overly excited gator that attempted to snuggle him, licking Ash's face. Only now could one recognize the powerful Feraligatr as the same as the hyperactive totodile it had been in its youth. Ash couldn't help but laugh, struggling to get up.

"Take a nice rest! You deserve it!" Ash finally returned Feraligatr into its pokeball, and wiped off the dirt from his clothes. Lance, on the other side of the field, was also retrieving his Pokémon. Ash took notice of the fainted Dragonite, suddenly wondering if he had gone overboard.

For a moment, I panicked… Ash realized, the image of the feral Garchomp still clear in his head. Despite the crowd of people gathering around him to congratulate him, Ash rushed forwards to the champion's side.

"Lance!" Ash skidded to halt just before him. "Is your Dragonite okay?"

The champion offered Ash a smile, clipping his pokeball into his belt. "He'll be alright. Nice battle, Ash. What an unusual move set for a Feraligatr."

"Too bad it wasn't an official battle, right?" Julian stepped in, placing one arm around Ash's shoulder. Ash grimaced, caught in between the need to move away and remain polite. "That would've made national news, huh? Kanto league champion, dethroned!"

Lance's eyes had just grown very narrow, watching Julian with a cold look.

Ash couldn't hide his embarrassment. "Julian, please! Lance could've won anytime, any day! I just got lucky. "

Lance released a merry laugh, catching their attention. "You should be happy, Ash. You just defeated a champion. You're one step closer to your dream, to be a Pokémon master!"

The red hue that escaped onto Ash's face was inevitable. "I – I – um, yeah!"

"Ash Ketchum!" From a short distant, Clay the producer called out.

"My, my, you sure surprised everyone, kid." He arrive just as Ash uncoiled from Julian's arm, a group of three other men following close behind.

"You said Ash Ketchum was your name..?" Asked one of the men, a thick haired brunette wearing a washed out tank top that failed to hide his buff arms.

Ash's mouth went dry, and he had to force his voice out. "Yeah, that's me!"

The men seemed to nod and hum, all sharing a look. The producer examined Lance's face for a brief moment, before turning back towards Ash.

"Lance, you seem to know this young man." The skinny one with lilac, long wavy hair stated, though his words sounded more like an inquiry. His eyes watched Ash from behind round, clear glasses, unnerving Ash to no end.

I shouldn't be receiving this much attention; I honestly didn't think I could win! Then, with a sinking realization, he realized exactly what he had done. It left him breathless. Ash had just beaten the Kanto League champion in a battle!

"…We met when he was still a trainer, near Mahogany town." Lance's eyes were now on Ash as well, his words cathcing Ash's attention. "I have to say Ash, you've impressed me, what have you been doing all this time?"

Oh, actually I haven't participated in any leagues or nothing like that; I've just been running from a psychopath that wants to kill me.

"I've been training the some of my original Pokémon again." Ash said.

A waiter shuffled over to them quickly, spotting Clay waving towards his direction.

"Get this young man whatever he wants. Something strong to celebrate." Clay glanced towards Ash. " You look like you could use something strong. Whiskey? Yes, whiskey please."

Ash didn't even get the chance to refuse. The whole situation was surreal.

"I've got to go, we got to get the music back on, right?" And Ash dashed from his spot and went back up to the dj-stand, fleeing the inspecting gaze eyes of all the men.

"Quite a guy, huh?" Julian said, placing a hand upon Lance's shoulder, who had watched Ash dash up the stairs in haste. "How did you he would be up to the challenge?"

"I didn't." Lance smirked, looking back a Julian. "I just hoped."

Back at the dj stand, Ash played victory music to fill his feeling of emptiness. Yes! He had won, but why didn't his victory feel like one without Pikachu by his side? Springing from his shoulder, into Ash's arms, the yellow rodent would've probably tried to hug him, making sounds of glee. But instead, Pikachu was far away, unable to witness his recent victory.

Checking his cellphone, Ash hoped at least Gary had answered his messages. Nothing.

When the waiter came with the whiskey he had thought he had evaded, Ash downed it without second thought. It was only when the blood rushed to his head, and the sting of alcohol burned within his nose, did he regret it.

Oh no, I swore I wasn't going to drink! Ash choked, slamming back the glass onto the waiter's tray.

For a while, it was hard to focus, but several minutes and several songs later, Ash was getting into the mixing mood. He focused solely on the music, his head rocking to the rhythm and his hands working the station. Down below, the guests had begun dancing, some even jumping into the pool.

Ash hadn't moved from the station for an hour until Julian crept up on him again. Long, skinny hands moved along Ash's arm, catching him off gaurd. He spun around, his heart leaping for a short moment. Ash had been completely focused on the music, not really paying attention to his surroundings.

"Julian? What's up?" Ash hanged his headphones around his neck, looking up towards the tall, leather dressed man.

"Ashy boy, everybody wants to meet you!" Julian flashed him a wide smile, his eyes twinkling. "People want to know the dj that defeated Lance the champion! Everybody is talking about you!"

Ash had to blink several times. He had been so intently focused on mixing good music, the moment he had spun around to face Julian, the world gave an unsteady spin.

Woah, I shouldn't have moved that fast. Ash rubbed the side of his head, trying to snap out of it.

"Julian, you know I don't like to be in the spotlight. Please talk them out of it. I just want to finish and head home." Ash tried to sound adamant, but screwing his eyes close to stop the way his head was spinning wasn't helping at all.

"What, you're not having fun?" Julian questioned, hands at his hips. "That's exactly why you need to come! Look, just leave a mixed playlist on and say hi to a couple of friends! That's it!"

Soon enough, Ash had departed from the station, and was guided into greeting several groups of people.

"Amazing! I never thought the champion would've gone down as easily!"

"You must be very talented!"

"To think I had this genius as my employee!" Julius would laugh. From a distance, Ash spotted the red figure of Lance, leaning against the corner of the bar. He was looking their way. Catching Ash's eyes, the man smirked and waved briefly.

Finding an opportunity to escape, Ash mumbled 'excuse me' and made his way towards the dragon tamer.

"Lance! It's been so long! How are you?" Ash asked, offering a side looped smile. Though the dizziness had slightly subsided, a nauseated feeling still weighed Ash down.

"Very true. Long time, no see, Ash. I'm great." Lance shifted his body towards Ash; looking at him intently, a smile upon his lips. "Still licking my wounds from that loss, though."

Ash nearly choked on the club soda he was drinking. "Heh, well, it wasn't a totally fair battle, you see."

Lance's eyebrows rose slightly. "How so?"

Shifting his gaze down towards the ground, Ash scratched the back of his head. "Well, Feraligatr's sort of my dragon check."

"You mean his move set is especially made to counter dragon types?" Lane chuckled, shaking his head. "Yeah, it sure seemed like that."

"Yeah, that's why it feels like the battle was unfair." Ash shrugged, looking out to the party. People were merrily dancing. Groups of men were scattered about, talking to each other, while others seemed to indulge in the younger guests at the party.

"Hey Ash." Lance's sultry voice caught his attention. He looked back to his side, but the look Lance was giving him caught him off guard. Lance's eyes were of an intense gold, somehow exaggerated by the dim lighting, searching within Ash's own.

"U-um," Ash faltered. He knew Lance was handsome, but being this up close was certainly another ordeal. He had sharp high cheek bones, and his hair, smoothed back down, was of a tone Ash was unsure of calling plain red, more reminiscent of a bloody sunset, a tone he was had only seen elsewhere in team magmas goons, but he knew for sure those guys painted their hair. Dark, thick lashes lined his hawk-like eyes, whose gaze pierced right through Ash, almost holding him in place.

"What are you doing here, Lance? Shouldn't you be saving the world somewhere?" Ash chuckled, suddenly weak in the knees.

"Ash, you've grown quite a bit since the last time I've seen you." Lance's sweeping gaze examined Ash from the shoes up, bluntly ignoring Ash's question. "There something quite mysterious… yet beautiful about you."

Ash suddenly gulped, hoping moments later it hadn't been too obvious. He remained stunned, unsure of what to say.

"I want to know what happened to you... What are you doing here?" Lance's hand reached out to touch him. Ash's mind was racing. Somehow, the scenario with Ritchie replayed itself all over again.

Gary! Gary! An alarm in his head blared. Why couldn't they just be happy? Ash thought of emerald eyes, of a soft gaze looking into his own eyes. He remembered the sound of Gary's laughter when Ash made him laugh. He remembered how he was incredibly handsome, and how each time, when his body pressed up against Ash, they would forget everything else and indulge solely on each other.

But Lance's intense gaze trapped him like prey fallen into a trap. Lance was so different… Older, taller and so exotic. While nobody could deny that Gary was handsome, there was something deeply intriguing and attractive about Lance, something Ash couldn't quite put his finger on. How had he never noticed this before?

Suddenly, Ash flinched when Lance touched his neck; cold fingers lingering over his scar. Ash's hand flew up to grasp his wrist, stopping it in its tracks.

"Ever since you were a kid, I knew there was something about you." Lance's eyebrows knotted, eyes darting towards Ash's halting hand. "I was never quite able to explain it to myself."

"Stop." Ash warned, his eyes going cold. With that, he spun around before dashing away. "I've got to go!"

Lance watched him rush off again, golden eyes following the raven-haired until he dashed inside of the mansion, disappearing from sight.

Ash burst into the bathroom, shaking. It was like running around fast only made the dizziness return in a worse bout, nausea riding up his chest. He leaned on the sinking, regaining his breath. The spinning had reassumed, and Ash was almost sure that in any moment he would throw up.

Ash recalculated. Why was he feeling that way? He hadn't had another drink since the whiskey he had downed earlier, but maybe his dizziness was a result of not having eaten since breakfast and a generally bad day.

With shaking hands, Ash pulled out his cellphone from his pocket. The screen read one in the morning. Maybe Gary would answer him if he called.

After several rings on the other side, suddenly, Gary's voice was on the phone.

"Ash." Gary stated rather grimly.

"Gary, thank God." Ash doubled over with relief. "It so good to hear you're voice."

For Gary, who was back home curled in his bed, failing to concentrate on his book, hearing Ash's words made his eyes soften, only to be filled with feelings of hurt moments later.

"Don't you know what time it is? Aren't you concerned about waking me up?" Gary said, not pointing out his inability to sleep, folding his book into his lap.

"I'm sorry, Gary. I didn't mean too, I just wanted to talk to you, you know?" Ash's voice sounded strained and worried. "I want us to be okay. I'm sorry I was such a jerk—you don't deserve it. It's like all you do is take care of me and I practically spit in your face as thanks. I'd understand if you mad."

Gary clicked his tongue, eyebrows knotted. He didn't answer.

"I just miss you, alright?" Ash sat in a corner bench of the bathroom, pressing a hand upon his stomach. He felt very sick and lightheaded. "I'm sorry, I get it now."

"Ash, are you okay?" Gary's voice lost its edge, concerned instead. "You sound off, have you been drinking?"

Ash shook his head, debating whether to lie or not. "Gary, I just want to see you. You were right. This place sucks."

A slight surge of anger returned to Gary, wondering whether he should still be mad and punishing towards Ash. "You not okay. You're drunk, aren't you?"

Ash dragged on hand across is face. He sure felt drunk, but in a bad way. In a way that too many drinks took away your clear eyesight and agitated one's stomach until bile was lurching up one's throat. But how?

"I had one drink, Gary." Ash said in between gritted teeth. "I didn't want to drink because I wanted to show you—"

"But you did drink." Gary's voice was sharp as a knife.

"Yeah, but it was only because—"

A loud knocking on the bathroom door interrupted his train of thought.

Muffled voices spoke in between bangs. "Hey Dj, you in there?"

"Open up will ya? What you doing in there anyways?"

Ash stood up from his spot, inhaling deeply. He had probably been in the bathroom for a long time.

"Ash?" Gary sounded distantly, as Ash checked himself once more in the mirror. He looked pale and green.

"Wait a sec, Gary. I've got to move—" Ash opened the bathroom door, only to me greeting by three men. He recognized them as the men who accompanied Clay the producer.

"Hey kid, we've been looking for you." The tall, tanned blue haired leaned on the doorframe, blocking Ash's way out.

"Excuse me—" Ash made to move out, but the slim, lilac haired man grasped Ash's arm tightly, in such a way that it actually hurt.

"Where do you think you're going?" He leered, and the buff brunette by his side laughed.

"We just wanted to talk with you, son."

Ash glared at the man holding his arm, his voice going cold. "Let go of me, now."

"Loosen up, baby, we're just here to have some fun." Blue haired closed in on Ash from behind, tan arms wrapping around Ash and grasping at his chest.

Ash spun around, elbowing the man in the face.

"Hey! Get off me! Don't touch me!" He snarled, the blue haired stumbling back with a cry. Ash pulled away and made a run for it, but the other two men bounced forwards, one catching his shirt and pulling him back into the bathroom. Ash spun around and threw a blind punch, straight into the skinny one's glasses. He cried out, the glass shattering on his face.

"You little shit!" The third one attacked him from behind, wrapping his buff arms around Ash tight, catching Ash's arms and lifting him from off his feet. Ash struggled madly, his feet kicking up in the air, thrashing to get free.

Blue haired was barely standing again, when Ash's feet found his chest, and kicked them with force off. Buff guy restraining him stumbled back, back crashing into the mirror. The wall shattered and thick arms finally released Ash, and the man slid to the ground, the air pushed out of his lungs. Ash burst from his spot and ran past sniveling lilac haired man, into a hallway that led further into the house.

Ash reached a staircase, but stumbled on the steps, his footing missing. He fell with an 'oomph!' but immediately pushed himself up. The world was swirled worst than before, and he barely made it up the stair, crashing into the wall before him. He could no longer walk by himself. Through the music still playing, Ash could hear the sound of the men shouting, and his own heart beating furiously.

Ash found himself inside a small bedroom, and locked the door behind him. Suddenly looking down, in his blurred view, he saw he still had his phone in his hand.

"G-Gary?" Ash realized his voice sounded shakier than he remembered, but was unable to control it. "Are you there?"

"Ash!" Gary's voice sounded panicked, and Ash could hear shuffling on the other side of the phone. "What happened? What's going on?!"

Like a shiver, another wave of nausea attacked Ash once more, and he doubled over, stumbling towards the bed. He felt heavy and tired.

"Gary, I don't feel so good." Ash said into the phone, allowing himself to fall into the bed, onto his side. "I think I'm in trouble..."

"Ash, tell me where you are!" Gary ordered. Ash didn't know Gary was already in the garage, running for his car. "I'm coming to get you!"

Ash's eyes felt heavy, but the spinning feeling wouldn't go away even if he closed his eyes. He swallowed heavily and tried to remember what he had told his taxi on the way there. "Fairview lane… House sixty-four…"

"Okay, Ash, now stay on the line, alright? I'm on my way! Where are you? What happened? I heard the commotion!"

Struggling to keep his eyes open, Ash breathed in unsteadily. "I'm in a room… Julian's friends… Julian's friends wanted something… Then…"

The line fell silent, much to Gary's panic. "Ash? Ash! Can you hear me? Ash!"

Ash had passed out on the bed.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

"Hey! Open up! Whose in there?"

Bang! Bang! Bang!

Ash's eyes slowly opened, the muffled banging noise and the sound of men calling from behind the door awakening him. Confusion in his mind, Ash attempted to sit up, unaware of where he was. His body felt like gelatin, his arms barely getting his chest off of the bed before giving out, shaking.

Suddenly it became obvious. Ash nearly laughed. He had been drugged! How had he not thought of it before? This was Julian's party. That man always hung around a lot people who trafficked or consumed drugs.

He tried to sit up once more, the banging behind the door become relentless. His world spinning, Ash's lifted himself into a sitting position before collapsing onto his back. He felt so heavy; like his whole body was weight he couldn't carry. Keeping his eyes open hurt more than not. Ash had to fight the sudden bout of nausea that attacked him once again, curling onto his side.

What am I going to do?

"I know a trick to open these doors." A voice said from the hallway. "Stand aside."

To Ash's dismay, seconds later the drumming sound of music flooded the room. His skin prickled as he felt the presence of others gather around him, before the door was closed once again, muffling the music, and the click of the lock went off.

"Oh, Now the drug is working." The highpitched voice of the skinny one said. "We could've waited so he wouldn't of had busted glasses into my face."

Laughter ensued. "Don't worry Lucian, now we can bust his face in.

Grabbing a fistful of black hair, one of them pulled Ash up into a sitting position. Ash made a sound of pain, his body cringing, his eyes fluttering open only to see a blurry figure before him.

They laughed at Ash's predicament. "Oy, he's still in there!" one of them remarked. "Get his poke belt, before he tries anything!"

"No!" Ash squirmed, one hand clawing at the fist in his hair, the other trying to grasp at his belt. This became hard to do, as his hands missed their intended target, Ash's vision a triple image of reality overlapping itself. With a sinking feeling in his chest, Ash felt his belt slide away and out of his grasp. Why hadn't he thought of that before?

"Hey! Don't fight!" The man who held him by the hair growled, just before delivering a stinging blow to Ash's face. Stunned, Ash fell back, unable to do anything.

"Not so feisty now!" The one called Lucian taunted. Ash felt the bed sinking with new weight. With a surge of panic, he tried to crawl away, withholding the urge to throw up, but rough hands grasped at Ash's arms and ankles, pulling him back.

"Hold him up! That little prick nearly broke my nose." Ash recognized the snappy voice of the blue haired man behind his ear, and immediately Ash was forced up, one man on either side holding him by his arms. "Since your awake now, we might as well play with you! Byron, show him how we do it, alright?"

Once again, they all shared a laugh, while Ash failed to find the situation amusing.

"Who do you think you are…" Ash sneered, his glazed over eyes attempting a glare. "Let go of me…"

Third man, the buff brunette standing before him, delivered a blow that hit Ash square in the eye before he could even se it coming. Pain Blossom where it struck. Ash tried to shrink away, recoiling from the hit with a yelp.

"We can do whatever we want, kid. There's nothing you can do about it." Strong hands grasped Ash's chin and forced him to look at him, just before delivering another blow, straight in his stomach. Ash bent forwards, breathless. "Next time, don't fight us. We could've avoided all of this."

"Hey Brycen, check it out!" Ash felt the man to his left bundle up the sleeve of his shirt, all the way up to his elbow. Long fingers ran across Ash's scars. "This kid likes the knife, I take it!"

"Fuck you!" Ash seethed, attempting to struggle in vain. The grasps around his arms became tighter, holding him still.

"You little perv. I bet you actually get off from cutting yourself." The man in front of him breathed into his face, leaning forwards and sticking his hands up into Ash's shirt. Cold hands ran up Ash's abdomen and chest.

"Don't touch me…" Ash threatened.

"Don't worry, Kid, I got just the thing for you." Blue haired laughed, pulling out something from his pocket. Despite his blurry vision, Ash could recognize the movement of a switch knife even from his peripheral view. He felt his heart leap in his throat, dread invading him.

Ash's breathing became unsteady, a flash of fear coursing through him…

Oh God, please no more marks..!

Suddenly, there was knocking at the door.

"Open up!" A voice with authority called from behind the door. To Ash's relief, the bearded brunette withdrew himself from Ash, his hands slipping out from underneath his shirt. Blue hair Brycen stashed his knife back in his pocket.

"Whose that?" One of them whispered.

"Help!" Ash called out, before blue haired smothered him with tan hands.

"Shh!" He ordered, grasping Ash close to his chest as the other released him.

"We're busy in here!" Byron said, attempting a serious voice near the door. The all awaited for a response…

"…Maybe he left?" Lucian said, a hopeful note in his voice.

A second later, the door burst open, striking the buff man in the face. He stumbled back onto the floor with a cry, grasping his nose. A commotion ensued as the two men at Ash's side jumped onto their feet, releasing Ash back onto the bed. Eyes squeezed shut to quell the spinning sight before him, Ash heard the men struggling, crashing sounds breaking out, as well as cries of pain.

"Leave." Another, new voice ordered, sending a shiver down Ash's back. The anger in his voice was clear and frightening.

"Calm down, man!" Ash heard blue haired cry out, fear in his voice. "We're leaving! Let's go!"

The sounds of retrieving footsteps sounded around him, until Ash was almost positive they had left. For the last time, Ash struggled to sit up, shaking.

"Whose… There..?" He asked weakly, his blurry vision providing him no answers.

"There, There…" The presence of another man became evident as a hand reached for Ash's wrist, before pulling it over strong, sturdy shoulders. With a heaving motion, the man helped Ash up onto his feet, a steady hand finding Ash's waist.

Ash looked up, only to see striking golden eyes looking back.






Yes! I decide to end the chapter there. Sorry it took so long to update (lol I don't know if apologizing even makes a difference)

Ash and Gary were mad at each other in my mind for a long time. I swear sometimes they write themselves out and while I want them to be all snuggles and love all the time it's simply not happening.

NEWS HEADLINE: Fanfiction author taken hostage by her own characters.

Lol jk. Anyways, I kept this chapter short for faster uploading, so maybe not all my followers will stop reading my story, since my updating schedule sucks.

PLEASE REVIEW! I appreciate it so much. Imagine me writing this story is the SEX, and the reviews are the ORGASMS. XD

Okay, I'll stop scaring you guys! Remember, everybody can do with more orgasms!