A/N: Finally, I gave in to the inner voices within me and succumbed to a Getbackers fic. Be kind and criticize gently for any OOC depictions.
Amano Ginji was meekly washing the plates when she arrived that afternoon. His tall sturdy frame tied in peach apron that Boss Paul had bought for her just this week, he certainly was a sight to behold, his cheerful whistling and humming and all.
"You weren't able to pay for your tab again, Ginji?" she asked smilingly, placing her bag down on the counter top.
He immediately looked up, face stretched in his usual cheerful grin. "Natsumi-chan! I'm glad you dropped by here!"
"Um, I work here."
"Oh yeah!" His grin was unfazed.
Her eyes went to the bubbly sink. "Hmm…you poured the whole sachet on it again, didn't you?"
He blinked. "Wow…you knew?" Not missing a beat, he held one soapy hand up and cupped his mouth, as if what he was going to say was CIA –confidential stuff. "Don't tell Master, okay?"
The helpless look on his boyishly handsome face made her giggle. "He would still notice."
He looked crestfallen. "Oh no! What will I do now? I mean, I didn't…I was…it had never occurred to me why they put too much powder on retail sachets…" His shoulders drooped. "Now the master will kick us out of this establishment definitely! We won't get to meet with Hevn anymore and we'll lose our clients. We won't get to eat anymore. We will live on the streets, starving and shriveling in chill, only comforted by our ramshackle car that we would be bound to sell to buy Ban-chan's cigarettes. And when he runs out of cigarettes, who knows what would happen to my partner?" wailed the tangerine-headed man.
She was doubling over in laughter, but somehow a part of her was admiring him secretly. Even in his gloom and doom forecasting, what he still worries for wasn't himself. It was always 'we' and 'Ban-chan'.
He is…a very kind-hearted man.
"Well for that not to happen…" She rolled the sleeves of her school uniform up and held her invisible biceps up at him. "We'll wash all the dirty plates in the kitchen, and then Boss wouldn't mind that we used too much soap, okay?"
Ginji paused, and then saluted cheerfully. "Aye, aye, Captain!" He had to like this lady's attitude—always ready to help anyone out even without being asked. The first time they met in this café, he already sensed that she was one of the few people in the city with a wonderfully warm heart to give for all those in desperate need of it.
"Ginji, you put soap on your forehead," she sighed, and then took the hem of the apron he was wearing. Carefully, she tiptoed and rubbed gently the part of his face slightly covered by his dripping wet bangs.
A smile slowly formed on his face, especially when he saw the concentration on her face, as if what she was doing was the most important thing in the world for her right now.
He knew at that moment that she would make a wonderful mother someday.
"So why are you doing this all by yourself?" Natsumi decided to ask while Ginji was scrubbing the bottom of the frying pan enthusiastically, because she was thinking it would divert some of his vigor into the conversation. She didn't want him to get too energetic and shatter the cooking utensil in the process. One sachet of soap would be enough trouble to deal with for someone like Boss Paul.
"Well, actually, it was my fault also," he said sheepishly, scratching his cheek. "See, Ban-chan and I were not having much customers ever since Hevn decided to spend a whole week in a cruise. She told us that she could get us potential clients there, but so far, we haven't heard from her yet, and she still has the money our last client paid us for. Ban-chan forgot to ask her for our pay."
"Ban forgot? Are we talking about the same Ban Midou I know here?" she asked, unable to suppress a cocked eyebrow. The Evil Eye user's reputation regarding money was not unheard of among his friends.
"Tee hee. He won't admit it, but Himiko-chan is getting into him more than he acknowledges!" His smile widened. "I told him that Himiko-chan has a mission as a Transporter. He shrugged. I told him it was a solo mission, and he replied, 'So what?'. When I told him that her client, a MALE client, would be working with her closely, he took off, saying something about him going with her to get a cut from her mission's pay."
She handed him another pan to be scrubbed. "You shouldn't have teased him too much. Miss Himiko will just transport some kindergarten-aged son of an important goodwill ambassador to the airport."
"But it's fun pulling his leg! He's too shy around girls!"
She nearly choked. Ban Midou? Shy? She would have taken it better if he told her that the earth was square instead. Yet there was an amount of truth in what he said. Even with his snappy attitude towards the blue-haired woman, Ban was undeniably fond of her. The shades may protect the windows of his soul from baring that fact, but the rest of him was an open book to the people who watch them together, especially his best buddy.
Ginji accepted the next pot she handed him. "An active lovelife can help him lots so he would stop being so grouchy!"
"But you are never grouchy," she mused out loud. "Ergo…" Her face turned crimson when she realized how tactless she may have sounded. "I-I mean…"
His crisp laughter filled the room. "A love life is only one of the many things that can make a person cheerful." He tipped his chin with his soapsuds-filled finger. "But I can say with all honesty that I love a lot of people. I guess that makes me happy."
She recovered from her earlier embarrassment. Nodding quickly, she passed onto him the next cooking pot. "As everyone loves you too." A twinkle of teasing shone in her eyes. "Akabane-san is quite demonstrative with his affections for you, ne?"
"Ahaha!" He suddenly morphed into his chibi form. "H-He likes me, you think? But if he likes me, why does he derive so much joy from creeping me out?"
She sweatdropped. "Well, people have strange ways of expressing love sometimes." She smiled at the thought. "Miss Madoka expresses her love for Shido-san by playing her violin for him."
"Yep! I think she wanted to love him through cooking too, but thankfully, he had discouraged her from doing so," supplied the man helpfully. "Ban-chan said that it happened quite at the nick of time, before Shido bade his last breath away."
"She's not a great cook, but the motivation behind her desire to cook…that's what counts!" insisted Natsumi. She ticked another finger. "Look at Ban and Miss Himiko. The Great Wall of China will collapse into dust before the two would admit that they need each other's presence and meddling in each other's lives, but even the visually-impaired Miss Madoka knows how the two cares for each other."
"No arguments about that."
She raised her fist proudly. "Yes! The great shining power of love…of all-powerful commanding passion…this is every person's reason to exist!" Her eyes turned to meet his gaze, only to realize a few seconds later that she got…well…too carried away. As quickly, she placed her clenched fist down, blushing hotly. "Er…"
The amusement on his face was unmistakable. "Yeah," he said softly. "I know. I believe you."
She couldn't explain the sudden rush of her blood to every part of her face. It could have his gently uttered words, or it could have been the huskiness that she had heard from him only now. She honestly didn't know what to think.
"I grew up in a place where believing is a sin. Everyone there lives to deceive and to lie. But even then, a part of me believes in something wholly." He looked up at the open window, smiling serenely. "I believe in love and its power above anything else I hold my trust in." His gaze went back to her. "Well, Natsumi-chan? Do you?"
Slowly, she looked up at him, unsure of how to reply. Regrets flowed in moments later when she understood that even if it was the same old Ginji Amano gazing at her intently, the twinkle in his eyes were far more reminiscent of the challenging Thunder Emperor—one she had only heard in tales of her friends over coffee and finger foods.
His eyes were laughing at her in some kind of private joke only known to him, and even if that was very frustrating, she still couldn't help but drown in his deep-set orbs.
Her eyes widened when she thought she detected the gap between their faces decrease. Yet her body awaited in calm repose, as if what he was about to do was the most natural thing in the world.
And then his thumb gingerly touched her forehead. She flinched, surprised by what he did.
"Soapsuds," he explained sheepishly, wiping it. "You've got soap here."
She sweatdropped, and her cheeks burned at the same time. Her embarrassment was masked with annoyance. "Ginji, your hands still have soap! You'll only spread it more!"
He blinked, and then slapped his forehead. "Oh yeah! Why didn't I think of that—oops! My forehead! Ouch! I think it got into my eye!!! Waaa, I'm going to be blind!!!"
"Ginji, don't move. I'll take it off, okay?"
"Waaa, it hurts, it hurts!!!"
Sighing, she pulled him down closer to inspect his face more. She used her other hand to scoop water from the faucet and onto his eyes. "There, there. It's just a few little bubbly stuff, ne?" She peered at him closely after she washed off the soap. "See? Feeling better now?"
"Yep! Much better!" He beamed at her. "You know, you're really good at this."
"Taking care of people." A tender look crossed his face. "What a blessing you will be to any man, ne?"
Her heart nearly skipped a beat. She felt that he had just paid her the highest compliment of all, and for that, she couldn't think of any appropriate reply. Trembling slightly, she looked away as Ginji gentlemanly stepped back, kind enough not to give further comments that he knew would just make her all the more uncomfortable.
Just then, Paul barged into the kitchen, stunned. "Why wasn't I consulted when someone built a pool in my kitchen?" His gaze went to the sink overloaded with soapy bubbles, dishes, and overflowing water from the continuous running water of the faucet. "What the…Honky Tonk will now include a water theme park in its amenities?"
"B-Boss…actually…" Natsumi racked her mind for possible alibis to explain the mess.
"Hahaha! Actually, I had decided that after washing all your dirty utensils, I will begin scrubbing the floor!" announced Ginji proudly. "That way, Ban-chan and I could get another credit line from you, oh great Master!"
Paul didn't look like he believed the orange head, but he relented. "Fine. The mop is at the back of the door. Happy scrubbing. I'll start appraising your work after an hour." The door slammed behind him.
She could only smile inwardly when Ginji groaned, and then turned to her, a V sign on his hand. Her eyes went back to finishing the remaining few plates, not wanting to display any more of her proverbial schoolgirl blushes.
Ginji Amano was like a maze, with only too many different hidden twists and corners within him. He could be a child, and yet he could be a man immortalized by his mere enigma. However, he shed light on one part of his intricate personality: he loves love, and for that, she was only too willing to discover the man behind the labyrinth, even if it takes longer than what she reads in romance pocketbooks.
Too Much Dishwashing Powder
A Ginji x Natsumi oneshot