KIRIN (working title)

Fanfiction based on characters from GetBackers, created by Yuya Aoki (story) and Rando Ayamine (art)

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"My husband has been abducted by aliens."

Dead silence followed that particular piece of announcement. The only sound in the deserted coffee shop came from the dripper burbling merrily in the corner. Even the Master had stopped his obsessive polishing of the glasses behind the bar. The young waitress idling beside him turned to stare at another woman seated in the stool before the counter, who gave an awkward smile. She pushed back a lock of long blonde hair from her exquisite face and glanced towards the back of the shop, where the only one booth in the small coffee shop was occupied.

"Aliens." The one word was stated flatly from one of the two youths sitting in the booth, facing a middle-aged woman from whom the conversation-killer had come from. A half-smoked cigarette dangled forgotten from one hand as he peered at her from above the rims of his blue-tinted specs.

"As in... little green men... from space...?" Piped in the second youth, his wide-eyed expression caught somewhere between incredulity and amazement. A second later a balled fist caught him painfully upside the head. "Ow! Ban-chan, what..."

The other glared at him and hissed, "Shut up and let the client talk, Ginji." A surreptitious glance at the woman who had dropped her gaze and huddled miserably into herself, and he quickly threw his partner a look that plainly said humor the mad biddy, will you?

At least, until she finished laying out the fee.

"I know you don't believe me," the woman said miserably. Her plain face, pale from fatigue and worry, sagged with disappointment. "No one does. Hevn said that you boys will be different, but... I think I'm wasting both of our time." She gathered her purse and half-rose from her seat.

"Wait, wait, not so fast." The one called Ban leant forward and half-blocked her with one hand, catching the blonde's glare as he did so. He grimaced but turned it into a smile as the 'client' turned to look at him. "We've done a lot of cases, and... believe me when I said this is not the strangest. Look, why don't you sit down and tell us the whole thing from the beginning?"

"Yes, please, Mrs Fuyutsuki. I'd like to hear your story, too. We'd love to help you any way we can," Ginji declared a lot less smoothly but with enough earnest sincerity to charm harder hearts than middle-aged ladies.

With one final look at the blonde, who nodded at her encouragingly, Mrs Fuyutsuki sat back down and took a deep breath. "I'm sorry, but it's been so hard, when no one believes me and no one is willing to help..."

"That's what we're here for," Ban smiled charmingly. "Now, you were saying your husband was...?"

Mrs Fuyutsuki clutched her purse in a death grip. "He disappeared a month ago. He said that he was going to be working late and he told me not to wait for him. But I worry when he comes back late, you understand? So I waited, and when he still hadn't come back by midnight, I called his mobile. It was off, and he never turned his mobile off, so I thought maybe his battery ran out. I called his office but nobody answered. Takeru said that he'd take a taxi, but..."

The story came out flat and rehearsed, as if she had told it so many times that she had memorized every single word. Maybe she had.

"Go on," Ban murmured.

"I waited until past one, then it started raining. I called a taxi and went to his office, some times he just work and work until he forgot, you see? And it's hard to catch a taxi where he worked, it's a factory far from the main road. So when I reached his place, I told the cab driver to wait for me and went in. And I... I saw..."

"You saw...?" It was Ginji who prompted this time, eyes wide as he leaned forward, totally caught in the story.

"I was just going up the staircase to the second floor when there was this bright flash of light, so bright it hurt my eyes. It seemed to come from everywhere. When I could see again... there was this window above the staircase, I could see the rain clouds outside, and..." She hesitated here, fingers twisting her purse, seemingly unaware that she was half tearing the poor thing apart. "...there was a wide circle of red in the clouds, big, as big as.... I can see the basketball court on the courtyard below and it's at least twice as big as that. It's glowing, and I know it's what's causing the flash." She sounded defiant here, as if someone else, several someone else, had questioned here on this point repeatedly.

"The light became weaker, and when it disappeared, maybe two or three minutes later, I ran up the stairs, shouting for my husband. But there was no one in his office. There are papers scattered across his desk, and his cup of tea is still warm, but Takeru... Takeru is not there. I searched the whole building, twice, and still I can't find him. I went to the police, but they didn't believe me..."

Ban and Ginji exchanged a look, Ginji's one of concern, Ban's more of exasperation. Ban carefully said, "And you think that an alien is doing this?"

"Who else can it be?" Mrs Fuyutsuki shouted, her eyes wild with grief, and to Ban's eyes, looking just a tad bit psychotic. "Haven't you ever seen 'Encounters of the third kind' before? It looked exactly like that, I'm telling you."

Ginji blinked and went "huh" at the movie reference while Ban closed his eyes with a pained grimace. "Old gaijin movie," he muttered aside to Ginji, "don't ask now. And it's blue, not red." Ginji gave him a curious look but accepted him at his words. Ban felt a pang of not-quite-pity as he remembered that Ginji's experience with movies was limited solely to what the two of them had managed to rent (just that one time, before the money disappeared into repairing their thrashed Beetle), 'borrow', or scrounge from throw-away bins of rental stores. And one particularly memorable instance where Ban had splurged one shot of Evil Eye just to get them both tickets to see "X-Men". That had not gone too well, but at least they'd gotten a full ten minutes of Hale Berry, Famke Janssen and Romijn-Stamos goodness before getting booted out, literally, with extreme prejudice.

He was pulled out of a pleasant contemplation of Hale Berry in skin-tight white leather by Mrs Fuyutski's answer to one of Ginji's inquiries. "Of course, the police said that they will keep on looking, but it's been one week without any clues. And they refuse to see other possibilities. They kept asking me if my husband has any enemies, if he owed people money, or if... if he was seeing any other woman." She sounded outraged and hurt at that.

Poor Ginji could only laughed awkwardly while shooting Ban a look that screamed for help.

"So you want us to get your husband back for you," Ban interjected smoothly.

Mrs Fuyutsuki visibly pulled herself together. "Yes. I understand from Hevn that it's what you do. 'Get-backers', isn't it?"

Ban smirked. "Yep. That's me and Ginji here. We get back anything that the client requests, emphasis on anything. And we have 100% success rate, satisfaction guaranteed, with excellent after-service for free. Of course," he continued breezily, as he entered the part of the conversation he was really interested in, "that kind of excellence needs to be properly valued and compensated. Satisfied clients have rewarded us up to seven figures for our services..." Never mind that the client in question reneged on the contract and tried to get them killed. "Or repay us with priceless items for recompense." And let's just really ignore the fact that a post-humous Van Gogh piece by a medium channeling dead men had about as much chance of being rated genuine as their long-suffering Beetle being rated a work of art.

The woman hesitated, managing to somehow sense the predatory glint behind Ban's glasses. "Um, yes. I understand from Hevn that your services are not cheap." Ban's sharp ears caught the Master muttering says who to himself and mentally flipped the man a bird. "I... I am not a very rich person, but I do have some funds from my parents' inheritance. Is this," she fished out a cheque from her purse and slide it across the table to Ban, "sufficient for retainer? I will write you another cheque after you have found my husband."

Ban managed to, not quite, snatched the cheque from the table. His attempt at cool, though, was ruined by Ginji rubber-necking eagerly beside him. "Ooh, how much, Ban-chan? Enough to cover the Beetle's tow fees? Oh, and how about that Sushi platter we saw last week? Ban-chan?"

"Urgh." Ban was having trouble getting his tongue to articulate properly. For that matter, he was pretty sure his eyes were bugging out way too much to maintain his proper coolness. He had to get a grip on himself quickly, or their client would probably think of them as cheap hicks who'd never seen a seven-figure cheque before and slashed their fees.

"ONE MILLION YEN!!" Ginji shrieked in his ears.

Of course, he could always leave it up to Ginji to shove the whole thing into the toilet bowl.

"Uh, you must really... love... your husband, Mrs Fuyutsuki," Ban managed to choke out, trying desperately for damage control. "This is, a rather large sum for a standard search for missing people, but considering your rather... extraordinary... circumstances, the fees are just about... right." He grinned at her rather maniacally and quickly slipped the cheque into his pants pocket before she could change her mind. "Rest assured, we will get into the bottom of this. With us Get-Backers on the move, you'll see your husband back in no time at all!" He ignored rather loud snorts from the direction of the counter and Ginji's attempts to sneak a peek at the cheque, and stood up to shake hands vigorously with a bewildered Mrs Fuyutsuki. "There's no more need to trouble yourself with the case. I'm sure Hevn has all the details we need. We'll get the information from her and contact you when we have fulfilled the contract. Douzo, let me send you to the door." He herded her expertly towards the front doors, determined not to let her have a moment to re-think the situation. "Thank you for the business," he sang out as he opened the door for her and send her, somewhat confused, on her way. His smile continued all the way until she disappeared around the corner.

Then he slammed the door and pressed his back against it. He met Ginji's wild-eyed look for an instant or two, then a big, insane grin spread itself across his face.

"WE. ARE. RICH."

"Wai!!" Laughing like a mad man, Ginji threw himself around Ban, his weight bending him almost in half, but he did not mind. After two years of partnership, he was more or less used to Ginji's exuberant displays of emotions, and Ginji was at his most touchy-feely when he was happy.

"Two million yen, two million yen," Ban chanted almost giddily.

"Sushi platter, Teppan-yaki, steak house, the Beetle out of the pound!" Ginji threw back at him just as excitedly.

"Excuse me." A dry voice interrupted their impromptu celebration. "I hate to throw cold water on you two, but that money is only yours if you can actually find this missing man, Takeru Fuyutsuki."

Ban waved a hand carelessly at the pretty blonde, Hevn, their mediator. "Aah, how difficult can it be? This guy, I'm sure he's hold up somewhere with a young mistress, enjoying his post mid-life crisis puberty."

"Wait a minute, Ban-chan," Ginji halted, confused. "You mean, we're not really going after aliens?"

"Ahou-ga! There's no such thing as aliens." Ban twirled a finger at his temple. "That woman is whacked. And I can't believe you actually buy that. She's obviously in denial. Aliens, right," Ban snorted. "She's been watching too many X-Files. Or Steven Spielberg."

"Then how do you explain the red light?" Hevn cocked her head at Ban, crossing her hands under ample breasts which strained against skin-tight silk blouse. "I've talked to the cab driver, and he saw the same blinding light and the glowing cloud cover. Sure, they may have collaborated their story, but to what purpose? If they want insurance money from the husband, it will be in their interest to convince people that the poor sod is dead, not being held captive somewhere by little green men."

"Lightning, spot lights, air craft passing through," Ban said dismissively. "Could be someone playing pranks. I don't know yet, but we'll find out. But I can tell you for sure, it won't be aliens." Then he grinned exuberantly, still in a damn fine mood and not about to let Hevn ruin it for him. "Let's talk about work later. For now, we have a car to get back from the Traffic Police HQ. Come on, Ginji."

"Hey Ban," the Master called out before they left, "you might want to set aside some of that money to pay your tabs here."

"And my weekly cake money," the young waitress called out. "You two owe me a cake a week after losing that bet, but so far I haven't even seen one slice yet."

"Oh ye of little faith," Ban grinned at them cockily, "our tabs won't even make a dent in that one million. And the other million that will be coming our way. Oi Ginji, let's celebrate. We'll stop by that Sushi place on the way back and buy a cake back for Natsumi."

Another happy shout and a glomp from an ecstatic Ginji, and the two exited the Honky-Tonk coffee shop.

"You know," the Master said thoughtfully. "How many of you think that this is too good to be true?" Two hands were raised in silence. "I thought so." The Master sighed mournfully. "I'll never see any of that money."

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Author's note:

Hmm, let's see if I can update this regularly. An experiment in writing-whatever-comes-to-mind, with only the vaguest of plot aside from making Ban and Ginji's life hell EG. Therefore be forewarned of miss-spells, grammatical errors, story that may or may not make sense ^^;;. Oh gods...