Strangely, when she arrived in the Honky Tonk café, there was no soul around. Not even Paul, who could usually be found behind the bar and reading his daily dose of news. Her eyes went back to the sign. The 'PLEASE COME IN, WE'RE OPEN' sign was posted on the door somewhat prominently, although she doubted whether it would help the customers who could have happened to walk into the establishment that late afternoon.

Her mind panicked. Maybe the guys ran into trouble again. Danger was the other half of being a Getbacker. There were always risks—from doing the mission, being tricked by their clients, facing both new enemies and old ghosts in their broken lives, and their trusty ramshackle they dare call a car getting towed for the nth time.

All her worries disappeared though when she saw a barely visible wisp of hair from behind the bar. Dark brown and spiky.

Her breathing calmed.

"Ban!" She headed for one of the stools by the table. "Hey, Hevn told me that you guys have new clients! Get up and meet them!" When she detected no movement from him, she proceeded to bending over to peer over the bar. "Ban? Oh."

The ever sardonic Midou Ban was resting his head on the table, fast asleep. Beside him was a note, apparently from his more cheerful partner, Amano Ginji.

Carefully, she picked up the handwritten note.

Gomen, Ban-chan! You were sleeping so soundly that I didn't have the heart to wake you up. Know what, you look so cute when you're sleeping. You look like a kitten…demo, I have yet to meet a chain-smoking kitty. Hey, I hope you don't mind that I ate Natsumi-chan's egg pie already. Two of them actually. Too good to resist, I'm afraid. Ah, you can always ask Himiko-chan! I'm sure she'll be happy to make you one. Er, everyone's telling me to hurry up with the note already. Ahahaha, I was just going to tell you that we are already in the skating rink. If you want to join us (I know you do, Ban-chan!), you can catch up with us there. That's Master's treat for us because we were good dish washers!

Her mouth twitched. Typical Ginji. Sweet, thoughtful and laidback Amano Ginji, belying any proof of his dark past in the sewers of a towering city.

Her gaze went to the man still fast asleep, snoring softly even. This man was the exact opposite. Awake, Midou Ban was as mysterious and forbidding as the famed triangle of Bermuda. His demeanor would not reveal anything about him. Even his cold, passionless smile was always impersonal, always business-like. Yes, he would laugh. Yes he would scowl. But she could never be sure if those emotions reach the windows of his soul. Those damn dark shades were like a wall, telling everyone to be satisfied with the surface he would show.

Only a few people had the privilege to see through that wall, Ginji being one of them. Her eyes fell on the note once more. She wished with all her heart that somehow, she could have the same power as the tangerine head does. To be able to talk to him so merrily, to call him 'Ban-chan' without getting snapped at, to merit those slaps on the nape or punches on the head or those headlocks…

Because they all showed one thing: fondness.

Ah, what she would give for that.

Her head sank on the crook of her arms, stooping lower to gaze more closely at his face.

The sunglasses had fallen from the bridge of his nose. Some of his bangs had fallen over his closed eyelids, prompting her to instinctively brush them away daintily with her fingers. His soft, rhythmic snores filled her with unexplainable warmth.

Sometimes it would boggle her that this stiffly cold and untouchable male was the same boy that she grew up with, the same boy who would steal her last piece of chicken skin that she was saving in her plate, the same boy who would knock his fist on her shoulder when he just feels like it…

"Why did you become a man too soon?" she heard herself ask the sleeping figure quietly. "Why did you have to make me see that you killed my only family I ever have?" Her fingers aimed for his cheek, but stopped in time from actually touching him. Her hand dropped down in resignation. "Why do those things affect me so much?"

It was clear though that the person before her, although possessing the answers, would not give her one. She sighed sadly. She would keep guessing then. For how long, she had nary an idea.

But for now, she would just have to be happy having him near her. It was what matters most.

"I'll bake you a cake too, Ban. If you will only ask. I'll wait for that…no matter how long it takes." After a moment of hesitation, she bent down and planted a brief kiss on his lips, giving voice to the bittersweet longing she had repressed for so long.

She didn't notice anymore how his Adam's apple moved slightly, or how his lids moved, or how his breath blew one note more audible.

As if nothing had happened, she got up and out of Honky Tonk café.

As always, containing the absurd emotions only this man could beckon.

- the end