Inspired by Yves Duteil, edited by X-parrot, encouraged by Shayera and Gnine. Thank you.


Streetlamps overhead flashed in a repetitive pattern over the Ladybug's windshield, light and shadows chasing each other across the dashboard. The flickering artificial illumination drowned all colors in a uniform orange, only changing when the headlights of occasional oncoming cars pierced the night ahead.

The little car was a contained universe unto itself, the world outside only an illusion, or so it seemed to Ban's tired mind. The only sounds he had heard since Ginji fell asleep were the droning of the little car's engine, and the wind around them, making the windows thrum faintly. It had a hypnotic quality that only reinforced that impression of being alone in the world.

It had been a long day, and promised to be a long night if they wanted to make it back in time to get the bonus offered for a speedy retrieval. A successful retrieval. The satisfaction Ban felt at that was more than enough to make up for a weary body and weird late-night thoughts. This was how things should be for the Get Backers.

He glanced at Ginji. His partner had been just as exhausted as he himself and despite a brave effort to fight yawns and stay awake, the familiar motion of the car had lulled him to sleep some time earlier. Like everything else, the blond hair flopping over Ginji's eyes looked orange. For one second, trick of the light made him vanish entirely, washed away by that same strange glow.

Ban quickly fixed his eyes back on the dark road, seeing only the white markings flowing into each other before him. Maybe he was more tired than he had thought. Ginji was there, he knew. He only had to turn his head to see him - there. Mouth slightly open, face turned toward the driver's seat. Asleep, relaxed. There.

He kept his hands on the steering wheel, drove on in that otherworldly silence, filled with all those noises a car makes on a road at night. Time and distance passed, bringing them closer to their goal. There would even be time for breakfast at the Honky Tonk before the client showed up.

Ban took a right turn, the road familiar to him now, and felt something bump gently against his side. Startled out of his reverie of Paul's hot coffee, he was amused to find a blond head slumped against his shoulder. Ginji was still fast asleep, and his body must have shifted with the car's movement to rest against Ban. The warmth of Ginji's skin through his shirt was a surprise, though. He hadn't noticed that a pre-dawn chill had seeped into the car before that touch spread a pleasant tingle through his arm. If not for that, he would have nudged Ginji awake and away. But it really did feel good, like a thick blanket on a harsh night.

So instead of waking Ginji, he carefully shifted so that he supported more of his partner's weight - not a difficult thing to do in the tight confines of the Subaru. The solid presence now pressed up against him was unexpectedly comfortable, despite the slightly awkward position.

Shinjuku was not far away now, and the darkness was lifting. Soon the sun would chase away the night's chill, but right now the only warmth Ban had was Ginji. Another right turn, and this time he looked down at his partner, pressing one hand lightly against his chest to steady him in the sharp curve. Wouldn't do to have the idiot slam his face in the dashboard just because he wasn't awake to catch himself. The body under his hand only shifted slightly, but Ginji's head slid up, and coming out of the turn Ban ended up with Ginji's face nestled against his neck. Slow, steady breaths tickled his skin, distracting in their closeness.

He tried to be annoyed, and failed. Badly. Instead of a scowl he could feel a small smile threatening to break through, his heart tightened almost painfully as he once again looked down to see Ginji resting so trustingly against him. Still, vulnerable. Not words he'd ever associate with his partner when awake and thinking right, but in the world that was only them and the car moving through the first grey of morning, they were the words that came to him. And then, because he was neither quite awake nor thinking straight, he thought that if the rest of his life was just this long curve, if the road went on forever, and things could be like this, just like they were right now for the rest of his days, then he would never want anything else.

The sun was rising when he pulled up outside of the Honky Tonk, and Ginji was still asleep. Ban was stiff, his eyes felt gritty, and his fingers were itching for a cigarette. But the fragile early-morning tranquility when he turned the key and shut off the engine was such that he didn't want to shatter it just yet. Didn't want to wake Ginji just yet. The silence would do that soon enough, and the stillness. He could wait, before becoming part of the rest of the universe once more, where he wouldn't be the only person in Ginji's world.

Sure enough, Ginji started stirring once his body registered the change around it. Finding something warm and comfortable so near, the first thing he did was to snuggle closer to Ban. Spiky yellow hair tickled his chin, and Ban automatically brought a hand down over it. Ginji stopped moving and made a questioning sound. He tilted his head back to look at Ban, brown eyes blinking sleepily. Then, just like that, he smiled. With a jolt, Ban remembered his midnight thoughts, about life and eternity, and realized he'd been mistaken. The rest of his life would have meant nothing, nothing at all if it wasn't for that smile. Lightheaded, exhausted, Ban could do nothing but smile back.

"Good morning, Ban-chan!"

It was.