Disclaimer: I do not own GetBackers... I have lots of dreams, but not even one of Ban-chan's could give me that delusion. :)

Bring on the Ran

Nocturnem's Koneko

It was raining again.

Not the enjoyable kind of rain that leaves you breathless as you watch it fall, but that cold drizzly rain that chills you to the very marrow of your bones. Amano Ginji sighed. No lightning, no thunder, just a steel grey sky and the constant feel of water on his skin. His clothes had been soaked through yesterday. He was starting to chill again, his teeth chattering softly as he walked aimlessly through the city streets. He was at a loss for what to do. He looked around him, trying to determine a plan of action, but his muddled mind wouldn't let him concentrate on anything except the ache filling his heart. He stopped walking standing in the rain his head lowered. Not able to breathe, not able to think, he sank slowly to the concrete beneath his feet. His eyes closed as the tears he had been fighting started to fall again. He caught his face in his hands and pulled his knees up to his chest. Ban's words replayed themselves for the thousandth time through the vaults of his tired brain. "I don't need you, Ginji. I have never needed you. Just leave, and don't look back." Ban hadn't sounded mad. His tone had been flat, almost tired.

Of course, the latest fiasco had been his fault. He knew that. He hadn't meant to fry the laptop they'd been retrieving. The client hadn't been happy at all, paying them only a quarter of the agreed upon fee. They made just enough to cover expenses, pay off part of their tab at the Honky Tonk, pay another months rent, fill up Ladybug's tank and buy a few groceries. Ban had been boiling mad after that, but he had thought Ban-chan gotten over it. They'd gone home, patched up their wounds from the fight for the laptop and settled down to watch a couple programs on their battered black and white television. Things moved on as usual. All had seemed forgiven. And then, Hevn had called Ban-chan with a job, but said that she wanted to speak with him alone.

Ban-chan had gone, and come back a couple hours later. He'd known that something was wrong the moment Ban stepped through the apartment door. The look that Ban had given him was flat, unemotional. He'd pushed his glasses all the way up onto his nose, like he did when they were around people he had no trust in. Then, Ban had spoken those words. He had never in his life felt so much pain as he had felt as Ban-chan held the door open for him. He hadn't even argued, though he had paused to look at Ban-chan right before exiting their home. His sunglasses still in place as if armor between them. He had pulled out his keychain and laid the keys to the apartment and to Ladybug in Ban's hand, then left hastily, running as quickly as he could to try to outrun the pain that was building in his chest and the tears welling up in his eyes. Butm it hadn't worked. As soon as he had heard the door click closed behind him, he'd lost it, crying as he ran into the darkened city streets.


Midou Ban woke slowly to find himself in a mirrored oddly shaped room. He shook his head, trying to clear the cobwebs from his brain. "Where in the hell am I?" he whispered softly to his reflection trying to recall what had happened to get him to this place.

** Flashback**

Hevn had called with another job. Though they'd still been nursing the wounds from the previous one, Ban had figured that maybe they'd be able to make up some of the lost income by taking this one. He'd thought it a bit odd that Hevn had told him to come alone, but went anyway, leaving a fairly depressed Ginji to wait at the apartment. To be honest, he hadn't been too happy to leave Ginji by himself. He had already been upset that the laptop had been broken and he'd caused them to only get part of the payday they should have gotten. Truth be told, while Ban had been upset, he'd gotten over it. Ginji'd done what he thought best. Both of them had been injured fighting the transporters hired for the job. It really wasn't Ginji's fault that the laptop had suffered the damage it had when he'd released the pulse that had dropped the people they'd been fighting, so they could make a quick escape. He'd been planning on taking Ginji to a museum or maybe to a movie to cheer him up. But a call for work couldn't be ignored, so he'd left, telling Ginji he'd be back as soon as he got the details for the job.

He'd arrived at the meeting place that Hevn had designated. An old abandoned warehouse near Mugenjou. He'd walked in to see her standing in the ill lit area with another person hidden in the shadows behind her. She'd turned hearing him when he entered to building, a smile starting across her face that had been totally at odds with the look in her eyes. She looked terrified though she was making a valiant effort to hide it. "Ban-kun," her voice held a note of something that he'd never heard in her before. It would sound cheerful enough to those that didn't know her well, but they'd been through a lot together over these past couple of years. It was fear, layered with warning. Something wasn't quite right here. It was enough to put him on the defensive.

"Hevn-san." He'd inclined his head toward her as he approached, watching her eyes flick back to the person in the shadows. He schooled his face into its usual scowl. "You said you had a job Hevn-san, lets get a move on already, I don't have all day."

It was then that the figure in the shadows decided to move out of them. "Ginji?"

Ginji had walked out of the shadows wrapping an arm around Hevn's waist and placing a hand to her face. "I would not come any closer Ban-chan, I would hate to have to ruin her pretty face."

He'd just stared at the two of them in shock. What was Ginji playing at? Then he'd looked closer. The body was Ginji's, but the eyes were not. Even when Ginji was Raitei, his eyes were not colorless. They glowed with the power running through him. "Who the hell are you and what kind of game is this supposed to be?" Ban had all but growled those words.

Ginji looked at him a moment, letting the electricity between his fingers crackle across Hevn's face. For her part, she looked ready to faint.

"I am Amano Ginji, Ban-chan. Only I am the part of him that doesn't get out very often. I am the part of him that likes blood and likes pain, and enjoys seeing both, flowing like the arcs of an electrical wave."

He'd raised an eyebrow at that and snorted. "Well, then, this side of you also has a much better built vocabulary than the Ginji we know, as well." He tugged his glasses down, meeting Ginji's eyes with his own. Once the contact was established, he smiled as he changed the shape of his own eyes to release the Jagan. There was a flash of light and a moment of recognition. Suddenly, he was the one seeing the dream.

**Return to the present**

Ban was pulled from his thoughts rapidly as a soft moan tore through the silence. He pulled his sunglasses off his face looking into the deep shadows of the room. His eyes finally falling on Hevn's disheveled form in a not quite corner of the room. Once the other presence was identified, he took to scanning the room. It wasn't round but it wasn't square, someplace in between with no sharp edges. The whole room jerked suddenly and he could feel the room itself start to lift as he tumbled to his knees, impacting on the mirrors beneath his feet.

Suddenly, Ginji's voice filled the room, "Ah, Ban-chan, it was fun while it lasted, but I fear our time is done. I wouldn't waste any energy on trying to escape. This room was built with your rather unique abilities in mind. You've got approximately twenty-four hours of air in that room, now that we've disconnected the venting. If you don't waste it on futile efforts to escape, of course. I'd suggest that you simply use your time wisely, and make peace with whatever you call a God." Then he laughed. It was mocking and maniacal. It left Ban's blood running cold. Ginji, what are you doing?


Akabane Kuroudo entered the warehouse in time to see a large glass container that looked surprisingly like a fish tank being lifted onto a truck. As he walked closer he could hear Amano Ginji's voice speaking to someone, though he was not quite sure to whom. His voice had not sounded quite right. Coming around the truck, he saw Ginji standing watching the truck lift the container onto the flatbed trailer behind it and then the image of Ginji slid away leaving a tall wiry man with tousled black hair and a pale complexion. The man turned to face him.

"Ah, Akabane-san, just in time."

A smile as cold as his own crossed the man's face. Akabane simply looked at the man. The man slipped his hand into his jacket pulling from it a substantial amount of money. He walked to Akabane without the usual fear that Akabane had grown used to seeing from his employers. He held out the money to Akabane.

"The rest will be paid upon arrival of the container to its new location. It's there already in a briefcase, awaiting your arrival."

Akabane took the money, sliding it into the inner pocket of his overcoat. He looked at his employer with some distaste. This was more than a simple container transport. Somehow, he knew there was a deeper game here, one he didn't want to play a part in. The man looked at him, apparently figuring out that Akabane was not happy with the transaction.

"Akabane-san, is there some problem? The job is simple enough. Simply transport the container and its contents to the specified location. If you are not able to do the job, I can find another who can, though it would be highly unprofessional of you to back out at this late date.

Akabane lowered his head a fraction. "I can complete the job. Do not bring my skills or my professionalism into question. I am just curious as to why I was chosen for so simple a job. I am getting the feeling that you are failing to tell me something that could be important to my success… Shifter-san."

Shifter eyed Akabane with a seeming wariness. He had been counting on Akabane's suspicions. They would lead him to check things for himself. A small smile came to his face. "Let us just say that what you are transporting is very possibly one of the most dangerous things in Japan. If it were to escape the container, I would not guarantee your safety."

Akabane bent his head lower, looking effectively at his feet. That information had been singularly useless. When he got the truck to its destination, he'd satisfy his curiosity. Normally he would not care, but there was something about this that was not sitting well with him. Once his curiosity was assuaged, he'd decide what to do from there, if he did anything at all.


Three hours later, Akabane pulled into the rear entrance of another warehouse, carefully maneuvering the truck to the location some men in coveralls designated. As soon as he parked the vehicle, he climbed from the cab to the flatbed trailer with a cat's grace and walked with deceptive casualness to the glass container. After all, one had to make sure that the goods were delivered in the same condition as they'd come to him. Several people had swarmed the glass container after he'd pulled in, wrapping lines about it for the heavy equipment to attach to so that it could be moved.

The workers stepped back as he approached, their eyes widening with fear. Akabane ignored them as he arrived at the glass walls. The container wasn't transparent. It had a dark tint to it, much like on of those examination room windows in a police department. He leaned forward slowly scanning the container for its contents. His eyes widened slowly as they finally found their quarry. Shifter-san had been truthful at least in his description of what he was carrying.

There wasn't a single sign of his shock as he turned away from the container, leaping gracefully from the truck bed to the concrete floor below. He swept up the briefcase holding his payment as he landed walking at his usual languorous pace as he exited the building. His interest in the situation had been peaked, brought on by the unanswered questions that he still had. Why was Shifter-san holding Midou Ban-kun in what looked like a giant fish tank? Why had he also placed Hevn-san there? And where was Ginji-kun? The GetBackers were an inseparable force…this situation was definitely interesting.


Ginji watched the sunrise over Mugenjou from below the bridge where he often stood reflecting on his past life. It seemed that for the moment he was out of tears. His face and eyes were sore from the tear tracks running down his face and the rest of him was cold past the point he could ever remember feeling cold. There was a deep mist over everything and the sunrise had been but a glow in the mist, concealed from the prying eyes of the world. He had to start to think about what to do. If he continued down the path he was walking, he'd freeze to death in another couple days.

"Ginji-kun?" The disembodied voice traveled up out of the mist. Ginji looked up and around him. He knew that voice. Following hard on the heels of the voice, Akabane's form slid into view. "Ginji-kun, what are you doing here?"

Ginji just looked at the man, tears threatening again. Akabane had sounded genuinely concerned. He just shrugged at the words however, not ready to give Akabane a play by play of the dissolution of the GetBackers.

Akabane pressed on. "Ginji-kun has something happened? Something must have for you to be here and Midou Ban-kun to be where he was last night."

Ginji's head flew up and he met the transporter's eyes with his own tired ones. "What do you mean, 'where he was last night'?"

"I transported the container he was being held in to a warehouse last night."

Ginji got to his feet. "If he was in trouble, why didn't you help him?!"

"Ginji-kun, I am a transporter. I transport that which I am hired to transport. And secondly, I was not aware that you did not know that he was in need of you, I had assumed that you would be coming to the rescue in short time."

Ginji thought about Akabane's words, and then Ban's words. "I knew something was wrong. I could feel something was wrong, but…"

Akabane took in Ginji's appearance from the soaked through clothes to the tear tracks on his face. Shifter must have said or done something in Ban's form to the boy.

"Ginji-kun, given the amount of time for the transport, the amount of time spent getting back here and the amount of time I have spent looking for you, I would say from what I overheard that your partner has only about five hours to live. Not only that, Hevn-san is with him. She has the same fate as he."

Ginji's eyes grew wide. "Where are they? How do I get there?"

Akabane smiled softly and gave the directions to the warehouse where Ban and his container were located.

"But Akabane-san, I can't get there in time on foot."

"Your car is in a warehouse near Mugenjou." He proceeded to give directions to the warehouse. Ginji nodded at the information, he knew, at least, exactly where that warehouse lay.

He was moving at his top speed before the directions were complete. And then he stopped, and looked back at Akabane. "Thank you, Akabane-san" was all he said before heading off again.

Akabane watched the boy leave. He knew without a doubt that he'd played his part in whatever game Shifter-san had designed. Normally, he didn't like to be used in such a way and he would have allowed things to go to their end without his interference. But, with the Getbackers there always seemed to be a but, he couldn't just sit back and let those two people who were so interesting pass from this world in silence.


Ginji got to the warehouse in record speed, though still not happy with how long it had taken him, panting as he entered. Ladybug was sitting in the center of the building. Now that he was thinking again, he knew that this was just wrong. If a person goes to the trouble to kidnap another person, they do not typically leave transportation for the person that will be coming to rescue them. He walked around to the driver's side door and opened it cautiously. Ban-chan had taught him the rudiments of driving her, but he wasn't very good at shifting gears. He slid into the seat looking at the column for keys. Sure enough Ban-chan's own set still hung in the ignition. Something on the passenger seat caught his eye. A map.

He picked it up surveying it carefully. This map gave him directions to the warehouse where Ban-chan was being held. Well, that clinched it, someone obviously wanted him to get there. He thought about it as he pulled out of the warehouse, changing gears with a minimum of grinding from the transmission. Ban-chan would most likely be madder at him than before for interfering in his job, but he had to get to him and make sure he was ok.


Contrary to Ginji's words, Ban had tried to escape, several times. But, eventually a sore hand and a thought to Hevn's safety finally got it through his head that he would be better off just waiting for the other shoe to drop. Ginji would come eventually and let him out. Ban spent the next few minutes of his stay in his prison thinking about exactly what he would do to his partner, well at this point former partner, once he did just that.

Hevn had woken not long after they'd arrived wherever they'd been transported. She'd simply watched as Ban had tried to decimate their prison with no success. Given his mood, she'd decided that not speaking was probably the best idea until Ban had calmed down. Finally, she spoke into the emptiness.

"Ban-san?" Ban looked over at her a storm in his face. "What's going on?"

"I don't know, Ginji's…."

She broke in, "But that can't be Ginji can it? I mean, you left Ginji at your apartment, and you had the car. How could he have gotten there before you or me?"

Ban just looked at her, glasses sliding down his face 'til his eyes met her own. She looked straight at him, her eyes holding his. She was right. There was no way. Not unless Ginji'd been holding out on him about some kind of transportation of his own or some other ability. He thought back to the initial meeting. Something had been off.

It had sounded like Ginji. The voice had been a little high, like when Ginji was on a sugar rush, he'd simply shrugged it off as that. He had looked like Ginji, except for the eyes. Except for the eyes. The eyes held a window to the soul, as Ban knew all to well. Ginji had offered an explanation for that but it really hadn't held water to be honest. Ginji might hold Raitei within him, but he wasn't a multiple personality. Raitei was more like a symbiotic life form or something that was truly possessing his partner.

Ban hammered his hand into the glass again, causing Hevn to jump at the sudden violence. The hit simply skittered across the glass, finding no purchase on the mirrored surface. Ban hated to be messed with, hated mind games. And this was a very big game apparently. Would Ginji, the real Ginji, be coming for them, or had that pretend 'Ginji' done something to him as well.

Ban finally answered her, feeling like a complete idiot for not having seen, himself, what she was saying before she'd brought it up. He felt like a fool, a right royal fool for having had so little faith in his partner. "That's not Ginji, and I'm not sure what the plan is, but I do think that whatever is going on is something that none of us are going to like in the end. What bothers me most is that it's very possible that this bastard has done something to Ginji while using my form. We might well die here, after all."

Hevn's eyes widened at that last, but she didn't utter a word. They had to have faith in Ginji and his love for his partner. Ginji would come through for them in the end.


It took Ginji a little over three hours to arrive at the place marked with an X on the map. He pulled the 360 into the building and parked her taking the keys from the ignition. The building was dark, with no windows for light and only a few of the overhead lights actually working. Ginji opened the car door and stepped out, only to jump at the sound of the large garage door he'd entered through, slamming to the ground, and then the click of a lock.

A figure stepped out of the shadows to stand beneath the glow of one of the few remaining lights of the building. "Ah, Amano Ginji-san, or should I say 'Your Majesty'. You are after all the Thunder Emperor of Mugenjou."

Ginji squinted at the man trying to get a better view of him. "I'm not the Thunder Emperor anymore, everybody knows that." The man stepped closer to him, walking to the point that they could see one another's eyes. Ginji examined him as he drew closer. He was tall, easily two meters in height. His hair was black and tousled. He had a wiry frame and was wearing a smile that could have matched Akabane's in creepiness. The suit he wore was a deep purple, with tones of amethyst at the ends of the sleeves and the shirt he wore. They matched the color of his eyes. His steps made a staccato click as the heels of the boots he wore hit the concrete beneath their feet.

"But that is not a title that one can just throw away, Ginji-san."

"What have you done with Ban-chan?" Small electrical arcs were starting to play around his hands.

"Ah, Midou Ban is currently at the end of the maze, there." As he pointed, a glowing outline of walls appeared, seeming to not notice the heightened electrical field collecting around Ginji's body. "If you truly want to "get him back" you have only to traverse the maze and get him. But I warn you, the way is dangerous, and given your "partners" lack of self control, he has only an hour and a half, at most, of usable air left to breathe."

Ginji looked at the man, and then headed toward the maze at a sprint, not looking back to see Shifter fade from view.


Shifter walked to the container in which he had placed Hevn and Ban. He placed a hand onto the glass. "Midou-san, can you hear me?"

Ban's head jerked up at the sound of his name. It wasn't a voice he recognized. "Yeah, I hear ya, you bastard. So, have you decided to end the mind game and be who you really are?"

"Tsk, Midou-san, language. I just came to let you know that the calvary has arrived. I had begun to worry for your safety, but Amano Ginji-san has come through in the end. It seems that even after you dissolved your partnership and relationship with him, he still cares enough to come rescue you."

Ban simply sat quiet in shock as the words washed over him.

"I do think however that it's time to make my exit from the scene, I will as always observe and take note as my masters in Babylon City have bid me. We shall see how strong Ginji-san is outside of Mugenjou, once and for all." He laughed and the laughter faded into the sound of the clicking of heels on concrete."


Ginji stood at the entrance of the dimly lit maze and peered down it as far as he could see. He braced himself visibly and started down the corridor moving quickly, yet cautiously. After turning down one dead end corridor and then another, he came to a stop. This was useless and getting him no where. In fact, it was succeeding only in getting him frustrated. And the more frustrated he became, the more the energies that he controlled grew within him.

"Ok," he thought to himself, "what am I going to do? I'll never get there in time like this." Then he remembered something that Ban-chan had said. He could hear Ban-chan's voice in his head as if he were standing right next to him. "Ginji, everything has a different energy signature, kind of like a fingerprint. As good as you are, you should be able to identify anyone or any living thing by the electrical field it generates." Ginji could do that, he'd practiced and practiced long hours after Ban-chan had brought it to his attention. It took an enormous amount of control and effort, but he'd thought it worth it, being able to know where Ban-chan was whenever they were doing a job and in different places.

He closed his eyes, slowly building the field he was generating around him. Beneath his eyelids, his eyes began to glow softly. He filtered out the various energies that he found that weren't the one he was looking for as he expanded the radius of his search. When he reached the point where his own energies were unable to sustain the field, he began to pull from the energy sources around him. The lighting of the maze blinked out. Finally, he found what he was looking for as Ban's own electrical field pinged back to him. He opened his eyes. Thunder began to roll outside. The glow of his body was enough to see by and he moved forward following the pull of Ban's own energy to his.


Ban was standing at a glass wall his fingers splayed across it trying to find a weak point in the glass when he felt the soft caress of an electromagnetic pulse brush his body. Another followed it, stronger this time. It felt like a small ping on his senses. He smiled. Ginji was here. He turned to look at Hevn to give her the news only to have the lights above them suddenly flash and then go out. Hevn let out a yelp. Ban looked to the area of the room where she sat, seeing her as a heat source with his snake-like eyes. The smile slid from his face. Ginji was pulling energy from outside himself. It was only a matter of time 'til Raitei was fully loosed. Would Ginji save him to only lose himself? "Don't worry about the dark Hevn, it only means the calvary has really arrived. What we should both fear is exactly what the light will bring when the calvary reaches us."


Ginji released another electrical burst, knocking his attackers to the floor. He didn't have time for finesse; he just threw pure raw power at whatever got in his way. This was the second group that had jumped him. The first group had been enough of a surprise to actually do him some harm before he'd managed to put them all out. He touched the bullet wound in his shoulder. It was still bleeding sluggishly. And the bullet was still lodged within him. He sent a bundle of energy to the hand touching the wound. The bullet had to come out or it could do more damage. Manipulating the energy into a small magnetic wave, he tugged the bullet out slowly the way it came in. It was by no means the most comfortable thing; in fact it hurt a hell of a lot. But, the pain in that shoulder was a bit less once he felt the pop of the bullet dislodging and falling to the floor with a hollow plink. He ripped a section from the bottom of his t-shirt wrapping the shoulder carefully with the strip of cloth and tied it tightly.

Then he paused to check direction. The pull was strong still; he hadn't lost that in the fight. And he continued his run. Slowly, he began to hear voices. Voices he hadn't heard since his childhood. "Ginji will protect us." "She died because you failed." "You are the Thunder Emperor." "You killed them." The images that the voices evoked in his mind circled slowly at first and then faster swirling around in his head like leaves in a hurricane. The energies about him became brighter and more chaotic. The thunder outside crashed in a crescendo and then the lightening struck. He skidded to a halt, throwing back his head, screaming as he grabbed it within his hands…."NOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!"

The echo bounced down the halls. As Raitei overwhelmed him, he clung tightly to his goal, running on down the corridor, now led by a singular obsession. The pulses of Ban's "signal" were becoming stronger yet and he was getting closer to his goal. He moved forward mowing down anything that came in this path. Finally, he came to a door. And in front of that door, was an obstacle that was more difficult to deal with. Hishiki Ryuudo, the Undead.

Hishiki met Ginji's entrance with a roundhouse punch that sent him flying into the wall behind him, cracking the concrete. Ginji slid down the wall, shaking his head to clear the haze that filled his eyes and looked up at his opponent. He did not have time to play with this guy. The pulses that were his only link to Ban-chan were getting weaker, almost as if Ban-chan's own electrical pulses were fading. That could only mean one thing. Ban-chan's life forces were fading. If his partner was weakening, what kind of condition was Hevn in? He jumped up facing the behemoth in front of him dodging another punch from the man. Unfortunately that dodge, brought him directly into the line of fire for the other hand. It snaked out grabbing his arm and twisted, tearing his already injured arm from its socket. Ginji gave a silent scream as he felt the bullet wound reopen and the joint pop painfully. Then his eyes flared with electrical light. His whole expression flattened and his hair raised up and back on his head. With a roar he leapt up onto Hishiki's head and wrapped his legs tightly around the man's neck. Then he raised his good arm, calling the lightnings to him. The lightning crashed down through the ceiling of the warehouse and the ceiling of the maze to that upheld hand. Ginji let the energy flow through his body and into Hishiki. Finally, the man fell. Ginji crawled to his knees and then up to his feet, holding his injured arm cradled in the good one. He walked to the door. It opened with a simple push.


Ban had moved next to Hevn when the air had started growing thin. They'd stayed as still as possible, slowing their breathing down so as to conserve air. But, even with their best efforts, the air grew thinner and thinner. He had watched Hevn slip off into dreamland. He hoped that Ginji would arrive before the dream became an unending one.

Ban was fighting loss of consciousness for as long as he could. Each breath was thinner than the last and he was all but gasping for air. He could hear nothing outside, the glass insulated things far too well. He had to stay conscious, he had to stay alive. He could not die before Ginji got here. He couldn't leave Ginji not knowing what had really happened. He lifted his head slowly, knowing that the only thing that was going to keep him awake was stubbornness. It was then that a glow entered the room and he lost his battle with the thinning air. Ginji was here, he'd save them.


Ginji ran to the container sitting in the center of the room and peered within, to see both Ban-chan and Hevn lying on the floor, not moving. A pain ran through him, he was too late. TOO DAMNED LATE. He unleashed a wave of electricity, only to watch it slide off the glass to no effect. He hurled more at it and more. The electricity slid off the glass and arced around the room bouncing from the metal walls to the iron rafters. It wasn't working. He slid to the floor, pounding on the glass with his fists. Damn it! He looked up at the ceiling and then at the glass container. It would have to be perfectly timed and perfectly done. He rose to his feet and walked away from the container letting Raitei take him completely as he pulled lightning to him again and again filling his body to the limits of its capacity. He felt himself lifting into the air. Then he released it, carefully, pulling one of the rafter beams from it's place in the ceiling and bringing it down edge first to sheer the edge of the glass at a corner. Shards of glass exploded outward at the impact. He could only react to the rain of glass by covering his face as the shards impacted his body. And then he fell and saw nothing but darkness descending upon him.


Shifter stepped into the room from surveying the damage and the fallen. He smiled to himself. This would be an interesting tale for his masters. The Thunder Emperor was still a force to be reckoned with, even outside of Mugenjou. He walked out of the room by a back door and into the night, whistling softly to himself as he faded from view.


Ban opened his eyes slowly, inhaling deeply as he stood, albeit shakily He looked around quickly to see the whole side of the container he was in smashed to bits and an iron rafter laying on the floor. He turned to see that Hevn was coming around also. Ginji! He ran from the container looking around the room for his partner. Ginji was lying on the floor covered in glass, one arm laying at an angle that wasn't possible normally, his shirt covered in blood. He crossed the room quickly kneeling beside his partner. Hevn walked up behind him. "Ban-kun, is he ok?" Ban ignored the question as he laid a hand on Ginji's back and shook him lightly. "Ginji! Ginji!" Ginji opened his eyes slowly, and a slow smile crossed his face. "Ban-chan, you're ok?" Ban only nodded. "Let's go home Ginji." This time it was Ginji's turn to nod.


It took both Ban and Hevn to get Ginji to the car. After fishing the car keys from Ginji's pockets, he'd driven back to Mugenjou, using the map Ginji'd left laying in the passenger seat. Ban dropped Hevn at the warehouse where her car was still parked and then drove both he and Ginji back to their apartment. Ginji was out cold when they'd arrived, so Ban had carried him up the stairs, grumbling good naturedly at how much his partner weighed, more happy than anything that Ginji was alive and still here with him. He'd stripped his partner and started tending his wounds when there was a light tap at the door. Covering Ginji hastily, he went to the door and opened it to find Akabane, holding a briefcase, standing at the threshold. "What do you you want, Jackal?" Akabane smiled serenely. "I am simply delivering what I was told to deliver." He handed Ban the briefcase and an envelope. "I'm glad to see you and Ginji still in one piece. The world would be lost without so interesting a pair." With that he turned to leave. Ban closed the door, setting down the briefcase. He ripped the envelope open, to find a note and Ginji's keys inside.


The briefcase holds the fee for a job well completed. Thank you for your services.


Ban looked at the briefcase and then to his partner. The money could wait. He dropped the letter and the keys to the floor as he walked back to the bed. Working in silence on Ginji's bandages, he slowly began to feel a pair of eyes on him. He looked up to see Ginji's soft brown eyes brimming with tears. "Ban-chan…" Ban laid a finger to his lips. "Shhh… it was all a lie, Ginji. Whatever that monster told you it was a lie. I know he said... things... to you pretending to be me." Ginji looked at Ban, the confusion plainly in his eyes. "Here, let me tell you while I finish taking care of these."


Ginji woke with a start from the dream he'd been dreaming. He looked over at his partner, lying next to him. His body was screaming with pain and he was tired. But, it was all worth it. He moved a little settling his head on Ban's chest. Ban was still with him. He wasn't alone. They'd made it through again. Love, it seemed, really did always find a way.