There are things which Ginji is scared of; Akabane-san is one of them. It's not just (just?) the scalpels and the blood, not just the smile and the calm assured certainty and the trail of death. By now those are so woven into the whole concept which he has of the man, every blood-smeared memory, that sometimes just the tilt of a hat, the poise of a shoulder, is enough to recall the whole man as a single piece and make him shiver.

Surely it's only sensible to be afraid of psychotics? Ban would agree with him. Ban's as disturbed by the lunatic as Ginji himself is.

He's going to speak very severely indeed to Hevn when all this is over, when he's out of Mugenjou, but -- he's not out of Mugenjou. He's deep inside Mugenjou. Mugenjou is all around him, and his blood sings with it. It pulses for him, for him, for him, him, him. The electricity running through its walls whispers to him (and sings to Raitei) and when he breathes, he breathes it in.

This is Mugenjou. History is rolling back over Ginji like a blanket, embroidered with the faces of a hundred friends. He's expecting them to walk through every open door, and he wants to open his arms and say, yes, I'm back, everything will be all right now, he wants it so badly that it cramps in his stomach and hurts, and at the same time he can feel Akabane-san's eyes on him.

Akabane-san -- Ginji would not think of him without that careful title, it puts a convenient distance between the two of them -- has strange eyes, grey-purple like water with a wash of ink. Colour spreads through them like blood in water. They remind him of eyes that he has seen elsewhere, but he can't remember whose eyes they were, or when he saw them, or why they had been looking at him with that calm, acquisitive, insane hunger.

No. Not insane. Akabane-san isn't insane. It's a bad idea to think about Akabane-san being insane when Akabane-san is just behind him.

Better to think about Mugenjou, and not listen for the sound of steps behind him which he never hears. Such quiet feet, cat feet, shadow feet -- here in Mugenjou the shadows follow him, just as the darkness follows the lightning, and however much he cries out against it, they will not go away. Raitei knew how to deal with such things. He is afraid to call Raitei again. To be Raitei again.

The air crawls against the back of his neck like the near-touch of a hand, sends shivers down his spine. He isn't going to turn around, he isn't, he won't, he can choose not to, he will not answer that desperate twitching urge to turn around and say something --

Ginji chews on his lip. Perhaps he could ask Akabane-san to go ahead. Scout. Something like that. It's easier to be watching Akabane-san than to have Akabane-san watching him. That's the excuse.

Why couldn't it have been anyone else who rescued him? My partner, Akabane-san calls him, and smiles until Ginji can taste his own fear. Well, he isn't Akabane-san's partner. He isn't anyone's partner except Ban-chan's. What he was to Shido and Kazuki was something else, something which Raitei understood better than Ginji did, because Ginji isn't going to let anyone make him lead (lead the way, Ginji-kun) again, because that weight of responsibility (for me) isn't what he wants, because his hands are tightening and Mugenjou is humming around him and he can breathe power in and in and in and the lightning is dancing in him and

and he has to find Ban-chan

and then everything will be all right again.

He isn't afraid of Akabane-san because Akabane-san kills people. He isn't even afraid of Akabane-san because Akabane-san likes killing people. He is afraid of the way that Akabane-san is interested in him, the way that the caressing voice speaks his name as though it were a possession, the way that those white hands, white behind the white gloves, move to fondle steel, the way that those eyes --

he can feel them fixed on his back, again

-- the way that those eyes watch him.

He's counting Akabane-san's breaths now. He can hear them if he focuses, above the murmur of Mugenjou, the heartbeat of the Infinite Fortress.

It's just the two of them in here.

There is a fever in his blood, and he is afraid that Akabane-san knows its name.


Fanfic Page