|With Enemies Like These
Author: X-parrot PM
Akabane picks a fight, and Ginji begs to differ.Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor/Adventure - Words: 1,831 - Reviews: 33 - Favs: 35 - Follows: 1 - Published: 07-20-03 - Status: Complete - id: 1435468
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
There's now a Get Backers section! Yay!
Minor spoilers up through episode 33 (the Venus de Milo arc), and you should have at least seen the end of the Mugenjou/Infinite Castle storyline.
With Enemies Like These
There is a thin line between fun and obsession, and Akabane of late had the inkling that he was dangerously close to crossing it. Choosing jobs based on the likelihood that he would run across the Get Backers was all well and good; if he didn't have some sorting mechanism he would be quite inundated with contracts. But waking nights with the taste of blood on his lips, and the feeling of static raising the hairs on the back of his neck, or the vivid ice cool of far-too-blue eyes meeting his...
Well. He had never been one to run away from a problem.
He might have flipped a coin to decide, but that wasn't his style. So he took a week off instead to deliberate, and finally decided that Midou would be the one. Raitei he had almost fought, in the thrilling unreality of the Mugenjou; outside its charged environment he was unsure if Ginji, delightfully unpredictable as the boy was, could give him what he craved. But Midou...Midou he had never seen at full power. He suspected no one had. Like Akabane Kuroudo, Midou Ban was a force unknown even to his own self.
So, Midou it was.
He picked the battleground carefully, a mountainside in the wilderness, neutral for both, and not even so much as an underground powerline for more than a mile. He waited for a clear day, without the possibility of a storm. Then he made the call, set everything in motion.
And now they were standing on the dirt track, facing each other at the classic thirty paces, with his trump card nicely bound in rubber impervious to his electric charms and a ceramic blade to his throat. No need to explain anything to Midou; he understood the instant he arrived and saw his partner's vulnerable situation. The azure fire in his eyes was enough to boil Akabane's blood. A shame he dared not meet them for more than a fraction of a second, but the Jagan would end this game most unsatisfyingly.
Midou's aura was almost visible, the coils of a great serpent strangling the cool mountain air. As he crouched to charge with all that awesome strength, Akabane slid away from Ginji and braced himself for the ecstatic agony of summoning the Bloody Sword--
"Akabane-san, why are you doing this?!"
Akabane glanced back, confident that Midou would not strike a distracted opponent, but ready for an attack should he chance act out of character. "I should think it quite obvious, Ginji-kun. Your peril is the most direct route to rousing Midou-kun's rage, and thus his strength."
"But why, Akabane-san? I thought you were our friend!"
Akabane paused, arm still extended to bring forth the sword.
Midou, halfway to tearing out his throat, also paused, hand still drawn back to land that crushing blow.
Ginji blinked at them both earnestly from under the black rubber hood.
"Er...whatever have I done to give you that impression?" Akabane finally inquired.
"Well, you're always so polite, and you always seem so glad to see us. And you always say good-bye with something like, 'I'll see you soon, don't get hurt.' Like you worry about us. And now you're inviting us over."
"I 'invited' you here to capture you, in order to induce Midou-kun--"
"See? You wanted Ban-chan over too! And you're doing it off-hours, so you can't just say it's the job."
"Ginji-kun," Akabane said carefully, "I have had the feeling in the past that you do not care for me overly much, and in fact that you are somewhat afraid of me."
"I am," Ginji admitted with a complete lack of shame. "But I'm scared of Ban-chan sometimes, too. Hell, I'm scared of myself! We're all really powerful guys. And I didn't like you much at first--you enjoy killing too much. But you don't kill anyone innocent--"
"I don't kill anyone weak," Akabane corrected.
"Well, you do kill people weaker than you, but that's almost everybody, anyway. Everyone I've seen you kill is kind of...bad guys. And I don't like that much, but I've killed, too, so I can't really judge. And in the Mugenjou you stopped me from hurting Sakura...I know it was 'cause you wanted to fight Raitei, but if you had let me do it..." He shivered, brightened again almost instantly. "And after that you worked together with us."
"For a job."
"And he had just betrayed us," Midou put in.
Akabane raised an eyebrow. "I do not betray. It is impossible, since I have never sworn loyalty to anyone." He inclined his head politely. "Much less friendship. I have never been accused of betraying a friend, since I do not have friends."
"Do you think friends are like diamonds?" Ginji asked. "Like you can just not buy or steal or inherit any, so you won't have them? It can be hard to make friends, you can't force it...but sometimes it just happens."
"I can confidently assure you that I have never made a friend in my life."
"Neither did Ban-chan, for a long time. But now he has. Neither did Shido-kun, and Makubex thought he couldn't..." Ginji frowned. "Huh. Actually a lot of my friends are like that."
"That's because you're an idiot about choosing us," Midou said, very fondly, and not sounding at all angry anymore, to Akabane's frustration.
"If I may interrupt," he said, "we were poised to fight--"
"And Akabane-san," Ginji said eagerly, "you know us so well, you must think about us a lot. I mean, you figure out what I can do with my powers almost as soon as I do it, and you've pretty much learned how to avoid Ban-chan's Jagan, which isn't easy. But you knew that Raitei wasn't exactly me, and you also know that the way to get Ban-chan mad is to try to hurt me--"
"I should think any of your frien--er, people in close association with you would realize that."
"And on the ship, you told me that Ban-chan was fine, because he wouldn't die that easily, and I knew it too, but it really helped to hear it. And Ban-chan said you wouldn't fight him when he was hurt."
"I have little interest in unchallenging battles."
"So you're always unhappy when you see us injured. Just like I'm unhappy if Ban-chan's hurt. I like Ban-chan to be strong, too."
"But you don't want to hurt him."
"No," Ginji conceded, and then immediately went on, "but you don't want to hurt him, you want to fight him. That's different. Shido wants to fight Ban-chan, too, though I've been stopping them, since they could get hurt...but Shido is still Ban-chan's friend."
"He is? Since when?!"
Ginji ignored Midou. "And you don't mind when we screw up your assignments, and you've helped us out or ignored us a couple times when you didn't have to and probably shouldn't have, and--"
"Ginji-kun." Akabane politely raised his hand to quiet him. He had just that realized that over Ginji's increasingly loud babbling there was another sound, a rhythmic, growing, thwap-thwap-thwap...
"Yeah," Midou said, with a sudden sharp grin. "Ginji, you're a genius. Completely insane, but a genius. How'd you know Hevn was sending a bird?"
"You wouldn't come out here alone, no matter what Akabane told you," Ginji cheerily replied.
The rubber bonds were not doing anything to restrain the laughter in those bright brown eyes. Akabane smiled, even as he flexed his hand in preparation of snapping out the scalpels. "So, I'm to understand, you were only buying time?"
"No hard feelings, right, Jackal-chan?" Midou asked, and Akabane swung around--
But Midou had either moved like lightning or thrown his voice; either was possible, or else Ginji had been an even greater distraction than he thought. At any rate the dark-haired man was a good two feet away from where Akabane had placed him, right out of the arc of the blades, and his eyes were open wide, the glasses down--
Midou had a wicked streak--something Akabane was already quite aware, but it was still irritating to find himself in a field of flowers, with birds chirping idyllic songs, and the faintest outline of a fairytale castle in the distance. Akabane sighed, tilted his head up to the nonexistent sun smiling overheard, and enjoyed the gentle breeze wafting his coat, until it shattered into the explosive chopchop of helicopter blades.
"Just ippun da!" Midou caroled down, waving from the copter with Ginji, already untied, at his side. "Did you have a nice dream?" The copter banked abruptly, and Midou grabbed the frame to avoid being thrown out. He cursed the pilot, and then the helicopter swooped off over the mountains, leaving Akabane standing on the dirt track alone.
Well, that had been...unpredicatable. He retrieved his hat from where the copter's wind had blown it, brushed off the dust and perched it back on his head. By then even the propeller's rhythm had faded, leaving no trace of the Get Backers.
Not a lost battle, perhaps. But they always seemed to have the upper hand in these draws.
His phone rang, proving the satellite service to be well-worth the price. One of his more reliable mediators, not bothering with niceties, launched into an immediate overview of a particularly tricky transportation. Akabane listened to enough to get the gist, before inquiring, "Will there be any Retrievers involved?"
"As a matter of fact, I've been told that the client's...business rival is looking into hiring just that--"
"Please anonymously fax this rival one of the Get Backer's fliers," Akabane requested.
"So you'll take the job?"
"You may so inform the client. Thank you."
"Thank you, Dr. Jackal!"
"Not at all." He disconnected.
And found himself wondering what Ginji might think of him sending extra business their way. The two always were in sore need of it, to judge by the condition of their car.
"Friends, hmm?" Akabane asked, thoughtfully, of the wilderness. Then he turned and began walking down the track. It was a good hike off the mountain, and he would like a full day's sleep. Tomorrow night's assignment promised to be fun...