A/N: Last chapter. Nobody kill me.
Epilogue: And So It Ends.
Last Child, Voodoo Child,
Doomed to live, then die.
Last Child, Voodoo Child,
Fated to destroy.
It ends like this?
She knew, before she opened her eyes. The very real feeling of warm stone at her back and arms secured together above her head gave her the clue.
Himiko opened her eyes slowly. Yes, as she suspected: she was at the Aztec Temple once again on the altar, about to be killed.
Amaya and Shinya towered over her, silent and forbidding. Their expressions were unfathomable.
A tear slid out of her eye and down her cheek. She shut her eyes. I failed…
Voices were calling her name frantically. She could distinguish them: Ginji, Shido, Kazuki…Ban. From far, far, away, faint and fading.
A shuffling step, and she opened her eyes to see the executioner, hooded and clothed as a high priest. A huge axe was in his hand. But no Ban this time, because the hands the gripped the handle were gnarled and scaly, with lethal claws, and the eyes that glowed behind the mask were eerie yellow.
Blue eyes and grim scowl; sorrow and anger.
Are you just going to die like this? A defiant voice sprang up in her head. Her resolve flared a bit, and brightened. Are you giving up?
Himiko flailed around inside her, for her power…and found it. Gathering it up, she let it whirl around within her, and glow somewhere that seemed to be her center. She took a deep breath, and struck…
Magical bindings enveloped her body, cramping her muscles and holding her back. She bit her lip against the pain and felt blood trickle from the cut.
Again, she tried, but the bindings held. Amaya and Shinya watched her struggle, faces stony and cold.
It ends…like this… Despair came over Himiko, and she closed her eyes. Like this…
I'm so sorry. That was all she could think of, all she could say, as she thought of her brother and Ban and Ginji and the rest of her friends, who had given up so much and tried so hard to save her…
The executioner stepped closer, as she opened her eyes. At least, I won't die weak.
Blood-red light glinted off the blade of the axe as the executioner raised it for that one blow.
It came cracking down, into her and through her.
A terrible pain gashed through her spirit, and she screamed.
Bright metal blade cut and sliced…and darkness lifted away from her soul, leaving a mass of pure silver brightness.
Himiko opened her eyes, startled. The axe was glowing, and transparent, embedded into her body right over her heart. A weird, lightheaded feeling spun her out of her normal self, and blackness oozed out around the axe, spilling out of her body and onto the stone floor…
Her curse stood, apart from her, dark and twisted and huge. And the red eyes were filled with an indefinable sort of pain; the clawed hands were trembling out of a certain fear.
The executioner pulled the axe out, and there was neither blood nor pain on Himiko's breast. Then he turned to the curse, and there was a flare of magic and a blinding smoke…and then both the executioner and the curse disappeared.
Amaya and Shinya's faces were twisted, once more, with hatred.
She was too stunned to notice that the bindings were gone.
Another form loomed over her: a tall, thin man with a dead, icy aura. She sat up quickly: Pluto.
The sorcerer nodded at her, and then turned to the sorceresses at her sides. "The rest of your line has come to me," he said pleasantly. "You two are long overdue in the Halls of Death."
A blue light seeped through the air. The inner part of the temple was suffused with it; a portal into the Land of the Dead. Doorways to the underworld…
Amaya and Shinya stepped away, a look of almost panic on their faces.
Pluto bowed and smiled at them, teeth glistening. "Ladies, shall you go, or shall I make you?"
A wind tore howling through the temple, and Himiko felt herself nearly blown over. Amaya and Shinya shrieked one last time, with rage…and disappeared into the portal.
The wind subsided, and rested to flutter in little bursts around Pluto. The air was still cold, and the sorcerer turned his smile to her. "They were never the easiest to deal with," he remarked. He tilted his head a little, as if to look at her clearer. "Should I take you, too?"
"No," a voice said from behind her. A hand was laid on her shoulder; Himiko turned to see the white-haired, regal form of the Witch Queen. The woman raised her eyebrow at the other. "Not even by natural law is she supposed to be dead. And not because I'm presently healing her." Himiko felt, then, a spreading warmth through her body, its source the hand on her shoulder.
Pluto raised his eyebrows in return. "Is that so? I was under the impression that all that magic aimed at her was the height of Amaya and Shinya's power."
"Had she used the first shield she constructed…the one to block the power completely, the impact might have killed her," the Queen said calmly. "As it was, the second shield was—purely out of instinct and luck—a filter rather than a shield. It diluted much of Amaya and Shinya's power, injuring her considerably less than it should have. She got hurt, a lot more than Ban and Ginji did, but she's alive. Her body is healing as we speak…although those around it cannot tell, right now."
Pluto laughed at the disgruntled expression on Himiko's face. "And we are talking as if she weren't here," he said cheerfully. He bowed to her. "Congratulations, Himiko. Now, I must leave you…although, before I do, I'd like you to know I do not like what you and the boy did to my boatman and guard dog. Charon will take forever to replace, and Cerberus too much time to awaken. Tell that to the Midou boy…he takes too much after his grandmother." Pluto ignored the Witch Queen's unwomanly snort, and with a last oddly eerie smile vanished, all remaining of him a cold stir in the air. The blue light began to fade, and normal sunlight dominated once again.
Himiko looked up tentatively at the lady at her back. "Majo-sama?" (1) she asked quietly.
Blue eyes glanced down at her. "Yes?"
"This means my curse is gone?"
The Witch Queen smiled. "Yes," she answered. "The ritual was performed a while ago, as you see."
There was a silence as the witch continued to heal her. Then Himiko asked, "How will I get back?"
The woman released her shoulder and let her arm fall to her side, but the girl noticed that the witch's right arm still glowed faintly. "I will take you, if…"
A rippling seemed to settle into the air, and a few moments later, there was a distinct crack as magic announced someone's arrival…at the bottom of the steps, leading up to the temple.
The Witch Queen smiled faintly and turned, going down the steps. "Never mind, he's here. Stay here a while, until I tell you to come." She disappeared.
He? Himiko heard labored breathing as someone ran up the steps, and then the Queen said something in German. The running stopped abruptly, and a familiar but hoarse voice rasped out, "Baasan!"
"You took you time," the Queen said dryly. "Was it hard getting here?"
Ban was panting. "Damn blockades. A little. Baasan, where is she?"
"Up there." A pause, and then, "Wait."
"I have something to show you." There was the faint, bright glow of magic, shooting up in the air…and then a familiar hiss. Himiko's soft cry of joy mingled with Ban's astonished, "Aesclepius!"
"You, spirit idiot, must not try that again," the Queen's voice said sternly. "The internal damage to the Birthplace will take forever to repair, and I nearly could not save you."
The snake's hissed thanks was sincere, and the Queen spoke again to Ban. "It was hard healing the Joker and the high school girl, but they'll be all right."
"Thank you," Himiko heard Ban say, still hoarsely, and for a wonder there was no arrogance in his voice. "Baasan."
She thought the Witch Queen smiled. "Listen well, because I'm actually going to tell you…I'm proud of you, Ban."
And then there was a large snake's head appearing at her side, and a smooth, uninjured body coiling around her in what might be called a hug. Himiko laughed and stroked the spirit's scales, saying, gratefully, "Thank you for saving me…and everyone else."
When she raised her head, Ban was there, an expression of intense relief on his usually sharp face. But he forced his features into a scowl when she looked up. "You little idiot," he told her in what was meant to be a rough voice. "You're lucky you aren't dead."
"As are you," she shot back, and he grinned.
"Aa." He held out a hand to her, and raised an eyebrow when she looked at it in surprise. "Can you stand by yourself?"
Shrugging, she took it, and carefully raised herself up. Ban kept hold of her hand, however, once she was safely standing.
"I'm going to take us back," he told her. "Don't let go, your spirit may get lost."
"What do you mean, 'my spirit'…"
He smiled grimly. "If I'm not mistaken, right now Ginji and my body are trying to revive your body in the Birthplace."
The Witch Queen appeared at their side. "Be careful," she told them. "Spirit ways can get very confusing."
Ban grinned down at Himiko. "Don't worry. We have a guide."
Himiko was puzzled, and then her eyes widened with joy as another figure materialized beside Ban.
Himiko practically threw herself at her brother, who grinned and returned the hug. "I'm glad you passed," he said. "You scared me for a bit there. Both of you, actually," he said, glaring at Ban.
The other man shrugged. "Oi, what would you have had me do?"
The Queen was still looking at them, eyes twinkling slightly. And then she raised her head, as a wind stirred the place, and seemed to listen to something. At Ban's questioning look, she shook her head ruefully and raised a hand. "I am being called, to somewhere else. Visit me sometime, Ban, and bring Ginji if you want." She tilted her head in Himiko's direction. "It would be nice to see you again, too."
Himiko thought she saw a bit of reluctance in Ban's eye, but he just shoved up his glasses and gave a sort of smirk. "Aa. Ja, then, 'baasan."
To her amusement, the old lady gave what looked like a pretty painful tug on Ban's ear. "Be more polite, young rip." The Queen smiled at Himiko and her brother. "Goodbye, you two. And congratulations, Himiko."
Himiko bowed, as did Yamato, who said, "Goodbye, my lady." Aesclepius gave a little bow of his own, too.
The Queen smiled, and gave one last look to her grandson. Then she disappeared.
The three—well, three humans and one snake—were left in front of the altar, and the wind began to drop and silence settled again.
Himiko looked at her brother, who looked so alive and so solid, and Ban, who had his hair slipped down around his face and his glasses perched uncaringly on his nose…and she almost thought, for one faint, bittersweet moment, that it was the three of them again, years ago, one team and one family.
Then Ban's eyes caught hers, and the thoughts blew away, as she remembered with a sudden gratefulness the friends and the teammates that were waiting for them presently, back at the Birthplace of Curses.
Yamato tugged on her hand and motioned her to take Ban's. The other man's fingers curled around hers almost protectively…quite uncharacteristically. Before she could think more on this, however, Aesclepius had twined himself around their wrists, and the elder Kudo had given a smile. "Get ready."
A door opened before them, a familiar one to Himiko, covered with markings and writings and images. It was the door she'd first entered on her first trial: the door to the ways of the spirits and through the worlds.
In an instant, they were gone, and the doors swung shut.
His panic and Ban's had been great when they'd turned the girl over and found that she had no heartbeat. They had called her name, relentlessly, and the others had crowded around, calling, too. Then Natsumi and Emishi had arrived, and it had distracted him, for a while. And then his panic intensified tenfold when he realized that Ban, who had been gripping at Himiko's shoulders to keep her upright, had gone deathly cold, and was no longer breathing.
"Ban-chan!" he cried, shaking the other as roughly as he dared. His partner's grip on Himiko had slackened and he fell limply against Ginji. Kazuki had to catch Himiko quickly as she, too, slumped to the ground. "Ban-chan! Himiko-chan! Ban-chan!"
The prickling feeling of magic, and Shido stood. "What's…"
There was a snap, and suddenly, great coils encircled them again.
Everyone stared. "Aesclepius?"
The snake's head came into view, adorned with something like a grin. "I'm back."
Before they could rejoice at this, Ginji cried out in relief. Ban stirred, levered himself up, and knuckled Ginji on the head, a grin on his face. "You idiot. You worry too much."
Ginji rubbed his head in protest. "But you weren't breathing!"
A slight moan from Himiko drew all attention, and they turned their heads to the girl, leaning against Kazuki. She opened her eyes, and blinked. "Ouch."
"Himiko-chan!" Ginji glomped her, just happy to see her alive. Himiko let out a squeak of protest. "Ah! Ginji, I'm okay!"
"Ginji-san, let her breathe," Kazuki smiled, but his hands tightened on Himiko's shoulders in thankful greeting, too.
After a whirlwind of hugs, back slaps, and questions, Himiko cried out that she did want to breathe, even for just a while. Nearly everyone laughed at this: relieved, nervous laughter, but still laughter. The girl's smile, however, was sincere, if almost a little…shy. As the others gave her space, she took a deep breath and looked around at them. "Thank you," she said softly. "I owe you all my life."
With smiles on their faces and gladness in their voices, the others told her it was nothing, or something to that effect; minutes later, Ban was looking up at Aesclepius, and giving the order to bring them home.
The spirit nodded with a sort of grin, then coil upon coil surrounded them, spinning, shifting, slipping fainter. Suddenly the Birthplace melted away as if it had never been, and Aesclepius slid back into Ban's arm, leaving a final, whispering farewell in everyone else's minds. All of them were left standing in Himiko's apartment, safe and sound on plain earth once more.
They didn't care anymore what neighbors would think of men and women straggling out of an apartment, clothes torn, bodies wounded and limbs bandaged. Kazuki and Juubei left; Shido towed Emishi away for bedrest at Madoka's house. HEVN told Ban and Ginji to meet her in a day or two, for a new job, before she left with Paul. Ginji offered to take Natsumi home…the girls' house was empty, with no one to guard it, as her father was away on a trip.
As the four trooped towards the door, Himiko felt a wave of sudden weakness wash over her. Natsumi and Ginji cried out in alarm when she stumbled against the doorframe and clung to it dizzily. The world seemed to be fading into black…
There was a half-surprised, half-exasperated grunt from behind her, and then a sigh. Before she could protest, two arms were scooping her up and cradling her gently, securely, and Ban told Ginji to drive Natsumi home on his own (and be damn careful about the car). As if through a dim haze, she heard the sound of the door shutting, and Natsumi and Ginji shuffling down the steps. Then the sense of movement: Ban carried her carefully to her room, and set her down on her bed. The last thing that registered on her mind was a soft, "You've gone and worn yourself out, baka," before she drifted off into a deep, healing sleep.
She was somewhere that reminded her of the Birthplace. It was different, though, because the stars were not so grand, not so frightening. They were still awe-inspiring, but nearer, calmer, more beautiful. Stars were not the only things here: also color, light, movement, beauty…an almost tangible beauty that was so unearthly and sweet it made her heart ache. It almost reminded her of the false angel that had tried to capture her two trials ago…but this place was real, through and through, no fake echoes, no suspicious things. She wondered, now, how she could have mistaken the false angel for a real one. When the real thing touches you, you won't mistake anything else for it, ever.
But this place was not for her…not yet. She was waiting for someone.
He was in front of her, all of a sudden, seated mid-air and smiling. She smiled back. "Hi, aniki."
"This may be the last time I'll see you," Yamato said gently.
Sadness pierced her, but a happiness, too. Because it was nearly impossible to be sad in this place. For a mortal, someone still living, like her, it was sad…for him, it would not be.
"Maybe the last time," her elder brother said. His eyes twinkled. "If I get bored, I'll still be dropping by, checking in on either you or Ban."
"I'd like that," she said softly.
Yamato smiled. He was standing suddenly, and enfolding her in a hug, and she hugged him back, for all she was worth. "You will be happy here," she whispered softly.
"Of course," he murmured. "It's impossible not to be." He let go and looked down at her. "I'm proud of you, imouto. Very proud."
"Thank Ban. And everyone else."
"I will." Yamato stepped back. Things around her, including her brother, began to fade, to move away. "I love you. Take care of yourself…you will be happy, too."
The beauty of the place left, but not completely, because she would always remember it until it was time for her to go there.
When she awoke, blankets were pulled up around her shoulders, and she felt bandages and medicines on her injuries. To her surprise, magic still throbbed inside her...clean, now, free of the curse. It made her feel good, a little...she'd gotten use to the feel of magic under her skin.
The sun was shining bright in the window. It must have been about mid-afternoon.
Everything seemed so normal, so ridiculously quiet…Who could have guessed, that the day before, they had been fighting in another, surreal world, for her life and for the future of many?
It's over already?
The day before had taken forever, and yet, it seemed so fast…
The quiet convinced her, a little, that everything was back to normal. Or whatever normal could be, in her life and her world.
Himiko raised herself onto her elbows, and as she shifted her legs, bumped something. Glancing down she saw, to her surprise, Ginji, seated on a chair beside her bed. His head was pillowed on his arms, and he was fast asleep. On a low stool beside him was what looked like a tray of covered food…from the faint scent she caught, it had just been cooked.
Slumped in another chair set against the wall was Ban, glasses sliding down his nose, and snoring gently. He had apparently found some gel somewhere, because his hair was up in spikes again.
She looked down again as Ginji moved, yawned, and opened his eyes. He caught sight of her immediately. "You're awake!"
She smiled at him, a little uncertainly—she feared another glomp, and she wondered…what were they doing here? But Ginji just smiled back quietly, eyes twinkling. "Are you hungry, Himiko-chan?" he whispered, gesturing to the covered plate beside him. "Ban-chan said you should eat, when you wake up."
The girl's stomach growled audibly, and she grinned sheepishly at the other. Ginji chuckled. "Heh, it's okay, I know how that feels."
With as little noise as possible, so as not to disturb Ban, the blond Get Backer placed the tray on her lap and promptly began to feed her. After a few mouthfuls, Himiko took the spoon, whispering a protest on how she was old enough to feed herself. Ginji smothered a laugh and retreated to his chair, sitting quietly as she ate.
"You're unusually quiet," she remarked after a few minutes of this.
Ginji smiled and jerked a thumb in Ban's direction. "He's asleep."
"Did you get to sleep?"
He nodded. "Un." He grinned sheepishly. "Sorry, Himiko-chan, I wanted to help Ban-chan take care of you when I got back from bringing home Natsumi, but I was really tired, and Ban-chan made me sleep…"
Himiko stopped him with a shake of her head. "Ginji, it's okay, you two didn't have to stay at all…"
The tone of her voice was so embarrassed, and yet so surprised…
Ginji looked startled, and what she might have called shocked. "You think we'd leave you alone, Himiko-chan?"
Himiko stared back at him, and couldn't say anything. She dropped her eyes, ashamed. Had she really thought that? She hadn't expected them to stay…Patch her up, maybe, but not stay until she awoke to make sure she was all right…
She wasn't used to people caring so much, for her.
It struck the former Emperor that she really hadn't expected them to do anything at all. Just like she hadn't expected them to show up at her doorstep and make her accept their help, and hadn't expected everyone else to show up at the Birthplace, with the intention to help her in any way they could.
Ginji closed his gloved hand over Himiko's idle one, resting on the bedspread. She looked at him in surprise, and he shook his head at her. "Himiko-chan, you're our friend. We…Ban-chan and I, wouldn't leave you alone if you needed help, ever." He looked earnestly into the girl's eyes. "Everyone else wouldn't, either. Kazu-chan and Shido, and Master and Natsumi, and HEVN and Emishi and Juubei and…and even Akabane-san." Himiko smiled a little, at the way the man stuttered the doctor's name almost fearfully. Ginji grinned, then continued. "They've all called already, asking if you were all right, and saying to tell them when you woke up. Even MakubeX and Sakura-chan called from Mugenjou, to check on you, and they're sorry they couldn't leave the place to help." A thought crossed Ginji's mind, and he rubbed the back of his head in an almost sheepish manner. "Eh…Kagami-san called too, but I don't know if you want to hear that…"
Himiko shuddered. Ginji pressed her hand again. "The point is…you have people who care about you." His eyes seemed to gain a faraway look, as he said the next words. "In Mugenjou…you learned how to value friends. Friends were hard to find, hard to keep…outside, the same, only with more malice and more betrayal, because in Mugenjou it was simple and harsh: life or death, this side or the other's. Out here, there's politics and feuds and deceit and many other complications, all hidden under a mask of normality. It's harder to spot, out here. But in both places, once you find a friend, a real friend, that friend is not going to leave." Ginji's smile was gentle and sad, and happy remembering. "No matter what happens, no matter what comes. That's what real friendship is…what we tried to do, in the Volts. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone really got happiness out of it…but at least in the Volts, Himiko-chan, you never had to worry about being alone.
"When you have friends…when you have friends, you don't have to worry about things like that…being alone, being abandoned, having no one left. You will, you probably will, but it's not for anything. Because friends just make everything easier, friends are just there, to help. That's just…what they do." He wasn't looking at her, and he was rambling, now…but Himiko felt tears prick at the back of her eyes, and a lump form in her throat. "And we'll do it for you, Himiko-chan, and for each other, always…
"And even if Yamato-san's not here anymore, and things have changed between you and Ban-chan…Ban-chan's the one who made us all get into action, did you know? You have us, the Get Backers and everyone else, and we'll…Ack! Himiko-chan! Why are you crying!"
Silent tears coursed down the girl's cheeks, and yet she let out choked laughter at the look of panic on Ginji's face. "G-ginji…"
"Aah! Did I say something to make you cry! Himiko-chan, what did I do, I'm sorry I…"
A light thwack on the top of his head stopped him. Ban rolled his eyes as huge puppy-dog ones turned to him. "Ban-chan, I didn't mean to, what's wrong with her?"
Ban sat down on the edge of the bed, and his hand came down to rest lightly on Himiko's back. "You just reminded her that others really care, that's all," he said dryly. "Though I don't know how she missed it, after yesterday. Well, that and she's also exhausted beyond belief." The girl had buried her face in her hands by this time, trying to control her sobs. The hand on her back moved up and down, calming and soothing, like her aniki used to do. "It's a good thing, actually, don't get so screwed up over it."
"Are you sure, Ban-chan?"
Ban leaned back against the wall, and turned his gaze on the bowed, green head. "Let her cry, Ginji." His eyes softened. "She needs it."
They stayed the rest of the day in her apartment, and the rest of the night, too. When she was feeling better, though, she scolded them good-naturedly for cleaning out about half of her food supplies, while she was unconscious. She laughed when the two protested that they'd been hungry.
She called those who had checked on her, to tell them she was all right. Her heart was warmed at the way they reacted upon hearing her…they had been worried, she realized. More worried than I thought.
When he heard this, Ban had rolled his eyes and called her a baka. Ginji shocked him for it, and Himiko laughingly kept them apart.
The Get Backers got a call, the next day, from HEVN, telling them of a case, interesting and relatively urgent.
"I hope she fixes us a good pay," Ban complained, as they washed lunch dishes.
Ginji was soaping, and Himiko drying. She raised her eyebrows at him. "I hope you finally have luck with money."
"Hidoi, Himiko-chan!" Tare-Ginji wailed.
Ban growled and flicked water at her. "Shaddap."
She snickered and hit him on the side of the head with the washcloth. "Baka."
They were to go right after lunch. Both Ban and Ginji stopped in the doorway, though, reluctant to leave. Himiko looked on curiously. "HEVN's waiting…"
"Will you be all right?" Ginji blurted out.
Himiko smiled as she looked up at them. "I'm sure I will." Her eyes twinkled. "I'm free, remember?"
Ban nodded, a pleased grin on his face. "Aa. Hopefully, nothing else comes chasing after you." His face grew serious. "If, though, anything does…"
"I'll call you two," Himiko promised. "My magic works, still. In case the phone doesn't."
"I'm surprised, actually," Ban told her. "But it's a good thing."
Ginji beamed brightly at her. "You take a rest, okay? We're going to check on you again when the job is done."
"Ginji…" Himiko began. Then she sighed, and smiled when the two shot her oddly identical 'you-don't-have-a-choice' glares. "Thanks."
Ginji gave a last wave, and turned to go, as did Ban. "Smile, Himiko-chan!"
Himiko lifted her hand to wave back…and stopped. "Ban, wait! I forgot!"
The Get Backers turned curiously as she darted back to her apartment.
She dashed to the hamper where she threw used clothes, and began to rummage in it. Locating what she'd forgotten, she quickly made her way back to the door, object clutched tightly in hand.
Ban raised an eyebrow at her. 'What?"
She opened her mouth, then looked around, confused. "Where's Ginji?"
Ban shrugged. "I sent him ahead."
"Oh." There was a short silence, and then Himiko plowed on. "Anyway…here."
Ban opened his hand automatically, and into it she pushed a familiar-looking lighter. It was then she noticed that she did have a scar in her palm, from the lighter burns…many scars, actually, criss-crossing and spiraling, but they didn't hurt…Ban must have healed them completely. There was also, barely visible, a blurred KY. Souvenir, from her seventeenth birthday. She grimaced, and turned her attention back to Ban. "Thank you for this. It saved my life in the second to the last trial, actually. And helped in the other…"
He stared at it, and then tried to give it back. "You keep it."
She shook her head and pressed it firmly into his palm. "I won't use it," she said sharply. "It'll go to waste here. I told you, I'd give it to you later, and it's later now…I'm glad there is a later."
"Come on, Ban." Himiko's face was determined, yet gentle. "I don't need an object to remember aniki. The lighter belongs to you."
Ban looked at her, then at the lighter, and then he slipped it into his pocket. "Thanks," he muttered.
She grinned. "Think of it as my thank you…and his, for keeping your promise." She grinned wryly, and tried to joke. "You don't have to bother yourself with me, now."
Ban looked up sharply. "Oi."
She stared. "What…?"
He looked down at her, piercing and clear. "Just because that promise of mine is fulfilled, doesn't mean I'm not going to stop running after you, or checking up on you. Got that?"
"Ban, I was joking," she protested.
He raised his eyebrows. "Not really, you weren't."
Himiko met his gaze, and then looked down.
Ban's voice reached her ears rough in tone but not ungentle. "Himiko, remember what Ginji said. We didn't come after you because I made a promise to Yamato." He bent so that his face was level with hers, and she was forced to look him in the eye. "We did it because you're our friend." He gave something almost like a grin. "Ginji's too soft-hearted to leave a friend in danger." His grin faded away. "I…was wrong, the first time. I left you, after Yamato was killed, because I didn't think it was danger I was leaving you in…"
"Stop that," Himiko interrupted, voice fierce. She swallowed. "I wasn't nice to you…"
"I killed your brother. Who would be?" His voice rose.
She shook her head roughly. "Ban, I know why now. It wasn't your fault. I…I made peace with you already, for that." She bowed her head. "I…hope I did."
There was a silence, and then Ban said softly, "Yeah, you did." When she looked up, he tried to smile. "What I was trying to get at, is…I won't leave you, either."
Himiko gulped and felt prickling again, at the back of her eyes. "Ban…"
"After all, someone has to save your ass from all the trouble you get into," he finished dryly.
Himiko made an indignant noise and aimed a swipe at him. "Baka!" She scowled as he grinned mischievously. "I don't do it on purpose!"
He smirked. "Sometimes, I wonder." He laughed as she swung at him again, like she used to when they were younger, and avoided her easily before trapping her in a headlock…something he hadn't done since she was thirteen. "Gotcha."
Himiko struggled, complaining. "Ba-an! Get off! I'm not a kid!"
To her surprise, Ban's hold relaxed, and his voice came out a little strange as he agreed, "No, you're not."
And she was startled to feel his arms slip around her, and his cheek press lightly down on her hair, as he caught her and held her firmly against him in a brief moment of relief and gratefulness, that she was alive...Then he let go, and disappeared down the stairs with something like a muttered, "Be careful with yourself."
She stared after him, eyes a little wide, face a little red. Then she shook herself, and shut the door, a soft "Thank you" still on her lips.
Downstairs, the blond-haired man grinned at the brown-haired man, who glared murderously at him before softening and saying, thank you, for helping. And the blond Get Backer said, it was what friends were for. Like…the S in Get Backers. And the other half of the duo grinned and punched him lightly, for being so heartwarmingly and meaningfully cheesy.
And far away, in the lands no one alive has roamed in, a spiky-haired spirit-man relaxed, and smiled.
Thank you for keeping your promise, Ban.
…Thus ends: The Promise…
(1)Majo-sama is "Lady Witch". Something like that.
Feb 10. Happy Birthday, Himiko! –laughs-
I know this chapter was no action at all…and much like the Prologue. Really fast, and short. It basically just tells you how it ends, after all.
To those I didn't fool with the cliffhanger in the last chapter: Heh, you know me too well. :D Author's note at the beginning meant: Nobody kill me for it being the last chapter.
It's done. I looked at the publish date and was like…"I spent half a year on this? Woah."
Hope you all enjoyed reading this rendition of Himiko's curse. :) Got no other GB chapter fics planned…yet. Make that, got no other chapter fics planned (apart from Pretty With a Shockwave and the Where Do Babies sequel, but that's with Riyuji and according to our time and creativity). Maybe I'll write more, sometime. It all depends…and I also want to get back to my poor abandoned other personal stuff. :D Oh, but I got quite a few one-shots left, all GB, so…yeah. Keep watch for those.
I'm going to miss writing this, though.
For the reviewers:
snow-baby: Worst cliffhanger? Thank you. :D Fic's over. ToT Oh well. Thanks for reviewing, snow-baby! Hope to see more of you in the future:D
marbles: Sorry…Feb 10, in honor of Himiko's birthday. Yeah? What's the most boring topic on the face of the earth? Oh, and you haven't emailed me yet. XP Hope you liked this…See ya!
machanbanlover: Here's the last chapter. …Araw-araw, yeah? 0.0 Woah. Go you. Good luck with school…see ya!
Hyoni:You actually have manga to read? Luuucky… :D Share! Just kidding. Hope you enjoyed…bai bai!
limelie: Last chapter. n.n Hope you liked. I can help in your death:D Just kidding. Ja, limelie, see you!
Wat3ry-ch4n: Nope, she hasn't died. This is relatively faster that I've been updating…hope you liked! Bye!
Atropos' Knife: Saw that your computer is fine, again. Glad to hear so. :D Now, you go and put up chapter six of "The Prize". n.n Okay? Yay! Ja, Atropos-san!
sakura: First GB-fic you've read? Thanks for the honor. :D Hope you enjoyed.
undeniably evil: Oo, sayang malapit matapos. :c Don't worry, honey, I always finish what I start. So if I do write another chapter ficcie, you can be sure I'll do it to the end. :) Bai bai! Thanks for reading!
Elle30: Hm, not exactly dramatic, but hopefully you liked what he did, too. :D don't worry, I have more Ban/Himiko fics, and…yeah. Stay tuned for them and the other one-shots. …I think you did mention you were from Tondo at some point. Oh well. :D Bye, Elle, thanks for reading…see you!
YunCyn: -grins- Oops, did I disappoint you that much?Hehehe… :DGlad you liked the nine chapters…tell me you didn't read them in one sitting. 0.0 If you did…woah.
-whistles innocently- You see what? I have no idea what you're talking about. n.n Weeheehee. Hope you liked the ending, at any rate. Thank you. :D Oh yeah, and before I forget...drop by the account of Riyuji.Raicho, and read "Where Do Babies Come From?", drop a review or some, if you feel like it (Riyuji and I are shameless in advertising) and wait for the sequel. I think you'll like Chapter 3 of Where Do Babies, and you will like how we open the sequel. XD Which will hopefully be up sometime. Hahaha. Bai bai!