Standard Disclaimers apply.
This is my first Ban/Kazuki fanfiction. I have watched only up to Episode 12 of Get Backers as of the moment so there'd probably some OOC-ness here and there since I'm writing the characters from what I've seen and observed so far and I may be wrong. Oh, and this is unbeta'ed. Anyway, enjoy!
There are some things in life that a person couldn't possible live without. For some, it would be a person – a loved one, a close friend, a relative. For others, it'd be material things like money, paintings, the latest mobile device. Still, for others, it'd be such abstract things like dreams, acceptance, achievement. Some things that hold no value for others may be another's greatest treasure. People are different; thus, they value different things. And for one Midou Ban, that thing would've been cigarettes.
It was a nasty habit, smoking, even Ban had to admit – a nasty habit that has been slowly eating away at his body systems and burning his lungs for years, that he wouldn't really be surprised if he'd wake up dead one day from an undiagnosed tumor or something. Not that he would've cared particularly. It was a habit, something familiar, something he took comfort in. It made him feel good, made him momentarily forget things, just enjoying the feeling of nicotine-flavored smoke entering his mouth and moving down his windpipe, watching the smoke dissipate into thin air as he exhales, like an earth-bound spirit finally put to rest.
And thus did he happen to find himself once again standing outside the Honky Tonk at one o'clock in the morning, smoking a cigarette (cancer stick, one more eloquent than himself had endeavored to call it), gazing unseeingly at the almost empty street and the occasional late night cabs passing by. It was another habit, almost a routine, and normally, he would've been left alone. Normally.
"You're smoking again, Ban-kun," a calm, almost amused voice broke his almost trance-like reverie. "One day, it's going to kill you."
Ban snorted into his cigarette at hearing his thoughts put into words and thrown back at him in that all-knowing tone that he has grown so accustomed to. "Right. And wouldn't you be a happy little camper then?" He resisted the urge to roll his eyes, moderately aware of the presence of his companion as the other padded gracefully to his side. He sighed. "What do you want, Kazuki?"
Kazuki, as his companion was identified, smiled, brushing away a stray strand of brown hair in a carelessly elegant manner that, for some reason, infuriated Ban even more. "Kazuki, now, is it? Not Thread Spool or Yarn Ball or Itomaki?"
Ban shrugged, taking another puff from his cigarette, and said nonchalantly. "I don't like you. You don't like me. You're obviously not here just for some fresh air. Cut this shitty attempt at conversation, tell me what the fuck you need and get the hell back to Juubei or Shidou or to who-fucking-ever you're screwing and leave me be." Blankly. "Thread Spool."
His long-haired companion simply shook his head, suppressing a smile. "Well, if you put it that way, Ban-kun, then no. For one, the only reason I'm here is because I'm having trouble sleeping and usually, fresh air does help." He gave Ban's lighted cigarette a sidelong glance and wrinkled his nose in disgust, a gesture that Ban had to admit was just too damn cute. "Thus, I do not have any ulterior motive whatsoever in engaging you in this 'shitty attempt at conversation.' For another, if ever I was, how did you put it? 'screwing' someone, what would make you think I'd leave their company in favor of yours." A pause. "Like you said, I don't like you and it's very much obvious that the feeling's mutual. But then…" At this, he giggled and Ban had to raise a brow at the decidedly girlish sound.
Kazuki eyed him thoughtfully, brown eyes shining with uncharacteristic mischief. "You're fun to piss off."
Ban gave him a long-suffering glance and replied, sarcasm dripping from his voice. "Well, thank you. That makes me feel so much better."
Ban gritted his teeth and fell silent, willing himself not to fall for Kazuki's bait. There was something about the effeminate guy that grated on his nerves since the first time they met, and he'd be damned if he'd give the other the pleasure of knowing just how much he could affect him. It was different from the annoyance he felt for Shidou and the justified hostility he felt for Akabane. There was this… tension, for the lack of a better word, between them that kept Ban wondering, kept him from subjecting the Fuuchouinryuu master to one of his more morbid nightmares. And it was also this same tension that kept Kazuki from wringing the Jagan master's neck during their more heated, albeit unfounded, arguments – that and his loyalty to his Raitei, of course. Ban made Ginji happy in a way none of the former Volts members could and Kazuki dare not take away said happiness, even if something inside him ached at the thought.
"What do you feel for Ginji?"
Ban frowned at the change of topic, and looked at his companion, thoughts swimming with its implications. "Ginji? What do you mean?"
Kazuki sighed and turned away from the intense scrutiny. "You make him happy, Ban-kun. You make him feel complete." Another sigh. "He loves you, Ban-kun."
The unexpected admission took the Jagan master by surprise and then it hit him. "Is that the reason why you wanted to talk to me?"
An indifferent shrug. "Maybe."
"And is that the reason why you hate me so much?"
"Would that make so much a difference?" Kazuki met Ban's stare evenly and it was his turn to look away.
"I care for Ginji," he said, ignoring the last question. "He means a lot to me, reminds me of what I've been missing out on. He's the only one who can look me in the eye and not be afraid. I'd give up everything to protect him, if he'd let me."
"So you love him, too?" It was not so much a question as a statement, and acknowledgement, and there was an alarming calmness to Kazuki's tone that made Ban look back into expressive brown eyes.
"Yeah," his voice sounded hollow, but there was another something in the eyes looking back at him that made him continue. "But I doubt if I'm in love with him."
"Oh," was Kazuki's only reply, as he averted his gaze. "I see."
The silence that followed was heavy and oppressive, both looking at everything other than each other.
"God, why the fuck am I telling you this?" Ban suddenly growled, raking a hand roughly through his unkempt hair in frustration. It shouldn't have bothered him, really, it shouldn't. But there was something in Kazuki's tone that just… "You're not going to tell him any of this, are you, Thread Spool?"
Kazuki blinked, surprised and yet thankful at the return to the familiar, and smiled. "Of course not, Ban-kun. Far be it for me to ruin your reputation. Though I doubt he would believe me even if I did tell him that I had what passes for a heart-to-heart to conversation with a certain Jagan master, let alone that said Jagan master admitted to value something that isn't round and shiny and sparkly."
Ban sighed, equally grateful that his companion didn't pursue the topic.
"I'm so glad at least one of us finds amusement in this thing because I certainly don't," he replied sarcastically, and he had to control himself from smiling at the pout slowly blossoming on his companion's lips. He took a long drag from his cigarette, losing himself to the taste of nicotine upon his tongue once again. He was surprised to notice Kazuki watching him intently.
"Why do you do that?"
Ban blinked at yet another unexpected question. "Do what?"
"Of course not."
"Does it bother you?"
"More people die from second-hand smoke, you know."
"And I should care because?"
Kazuki frowned. "You didn't answer my question."
Ban smirked. "You asked a question?"
Kazuki gave him a long-suffering gaze.
"You know, you're cute when you're annoyed."
Ban's smirk grew as he noticed the faint pinkish tinge across the Fuuchouinryuu master's face. Kazuki may have bested him at most of their verbal sparrings but he always managed to gain the upper hand when their conversations turned into something that resembled… flirting?
"You're pretty, Thread Spool," he continued, and almost laughed as the pinkish tinge blossomed into an undeniable blush. "Too bad you're deaf."
Ban took another drag from his cigarette, the smirk still upon his lips and offered it to his still blushing companion. "Want to try?"
This time, Ban did laugh. "Ne, Kazu-chan? I would've expected your vocabulary to be a little bit more extensive."
Kazuki frowned, even more annoyed, though one couldn't tell if said annoyance were directed at the smugly grinning Jagan master in front of him or at himself for letting aforementioned Jagan master affect him so. "Shut up. Don't call me that. And, no, I do not."
Ban shrugged. "Suit yourself, princess."
"Ban…" Kazuki seethed. Being reminded of just how feminine his looks were never really bothered him in general but when said reminder came from one Midou Ban… "I'd have you know that I'm in no way…"
"Then prove it," Ban challenged, holding the tip of the cigarette in front of soft-looking lips.
Kazuki glared at him before grudgingly leaning forward to take said tip into his mouth. Ban could only watch, mesmerized, as lips enclosed the end of the slender stick, and found himself holding his breath. Kazuki, totally oblivious to the strange look he was currently subjected to, slowly and tentatively inhaled the smoke into his mouth… only to draw away and cough as it went down the wrong way.
"That was… cough certainly… cough unpleasant," he wheezed, failing utterly at his glaring attempts, and was surprised to feel a strong hand rubbing his back soothingly.
"Shit, Thread Spool, you okay? God, just how much…"
Kazuki tuned out the words, the badly disguised concern in Ban's voice oddly comforting. He coughed for quite a while until he recovered enough to say, "I swear, I am never touching any of those things again."
Ban laughed, more out of the need to extinguish the inexplicable distress he had been feeling just seconds ago, and surreptitiously moved his hand from where it was resting on the other's back. "Well, I guess smoking just doesn't agree with you, does it, Kazuki?"
"I'm so glad at least one of us finds this amusing because I don't," Kazuki snapped back, before realizing that he had just repeated Ban's earlier words.
Another tense silence passed, broken only by the occasional cough.
"But, you know what?"
"I doubt you would've had the same reaction if we had done it my way in the first place."
Kazuki quirked a brow, both curious and apprehensive at the same time. "Which is?"
Ban took another long drag before throwing the cigarette away and surprising the both of them by roughly pulling Kazuki towards him and kissing him, breathing the smoke into the other man's mouth. Kazuki froze, too shocked to react at first, until he felt a probing tongue teasing his lips and he parted them instinctively. Ban tasted of smoke and nicotine and something else altogether that made him open his mouth a little bit more, moaning. The kiss went on for a few more minutes, growing more passionate, hands roaming and exploring, both participants losing themselves in the tastes and sensations of one another until the need to breathe finally made them break off and move away.
"Damn," Ban managed, voice husky with breathlessness.
"That was…" Kazuki began, equally breathless, staring at his companion with half-lidded eyes.
"Yeah," Ban replied. "Changed your mind yet?"
Kazuki paused, brown eyes meeting violet ones shining with something akin to… He shook his head.
"I still say it's a bad habit, Ban-kun," he said carefully. "Though I don't really blame you for indulging yourself."
"Smoking?" Ban's tone was light, almost teasing, and yet…
Kazuki shrugged nonchalantly. "Whatever did you think I was referring to?"
Ban looked at him once again, in a way that made him wonder if he didn't just dream all of this after all.
"Bad habits die hard," was the Jagan master's only answer.
Ban sighed, not knowing what to make of his companion's curt answer. "Go to sleep, Thread Spool. We have a long day ahead."
"I could say the same for you."
"Yeah, yeah. Oyasumi."
Ban waved dismissively and Kazuki took this as his cue to leave. He opened the door to the café and stopped.
A late-night cab passed by, stirring both hair and shirt into motion and distracting him for a moment as he turned to face his companion.
"What is it, Kazuki?"
"If you want to kiss me, just say so next time. It would save the both of us a lot of trouble."
There was an almost playful tone to Kazuki's voice. Ban blinked.
Kazuki just smiled mysteriously before turning back. "Yeah, next time. Bad habits die hard, don't they?" And with that, he was gone.
Ban just stood there for some time before an uncharacteristically goofy grin began spreading across his face. Unconsciously licking his lips, he took out another stick of cigarette from his pack and lighted it, watching the smoke from the lighted tip rising into the heavens, like threads of silk carelessly woven together. And he smiled. His routine was broken slightly but then...
Kazuki's taste lingered on his tongue, as sweet and addictive as his beloved cigarettes…
And he decided he could get used to it after all.
I haven't really written in quite a while and my writing skills are rather rusty so please review and tell me what you think. I'm willing to do a sequel given the proper prodding so… hinthintwinkwink Ja!