It was the end of another fruitless day for the Get Backers. As always, the restless brunette would make fits of anger and contempt for their penniless outcome of the entire day, while his tired and hungry partner would cry out and suggest that it might be better for them to search for a few part time jobs just to fill their tummies with the longing tastes of beef and pizza.

"Baka! How many times do I have to tell you THAT couldn't be accepted, especially for people such as our status! You are the most stubborn and clueless person I've ever met!" Mido Ban hit his blonde friend in the head so hard that Ginji's eyes almost welled up in tears.

"Itayo, Ban-chan! That really hurts. And well… gomen nasai. It's just that I'm so hungry." The chibi Ginji surfaced from his normal appearance and was weeping because of the punch Ban delivered to him.

Status? Since when did they become folks of high importance?

Particularly when one of them is as stubborn and clueless as he'll ever be.

Paul glanced up from his newspaper and was glaring at Ban, whereas he gave Ginji a pitiful look.

"You know Ginji's right, Ban. Don't forget that you still owe me a large sum of money. Stop fooling around with your pride because first of all, you two aren't earning any money. Second, everybody knows that you guys might end up having ulcers if you don't fill up your stomachs soon. Jeez! Why can't you at least understand that for once?" Paul said with growing annoyance.

"Well, we could have earned millions if people were not as haughty as before. Not to mention that Hevn is also to blame for this. She should at least give us more decent and less dangerous assignments than the ones that have us nearly killed!" Ban said with the familiar tone of exasperation.

"What does the people have to do with your declining business? Why would they go to you for service anyway if you offer them a price that is about 3x more expensive than what have the cops bargained for? Besides, you "promised" everybody that you have superb efficiency and that you'll definitely get the job done, so why does it matter if it's dangerous or not!" Paul was virtually shouting with escalating scorn and impatience for the Jagan Master. Both Ginji and Natsumi were staring nervously at the flushed and arguing duo. They wanted to stop them before they could tear each other apart when the door suddenly swung open and a recognizable and comforting scent filled the air of the Honky Tonk.

"Hi, Ban, everyone. How are you…?" The Lady Poison's voice trailed off just as soon as she saw the two men's red faces and glaring eyes.

"Um… did I interrupt you guys in any way? Well, I'm sorry. I was just about to leave…" Himiko Kudo started to turn around when a cheerful and energetic voice called to her.

"Himiko-san, wait! Don't leave. It's no big deal, really. The two were just fighting over a little thing, that's all." Ginji smiled at her, grabbed her by the hand, and led her to a seat close to Ban.

At this, the two men were fairly calmed. Paul got back to his reading and Ban sat at the seat next to Himiko. He then took out a cigarette and lighted it.

"By the way, I'm fine, and you?" Ban said without looking at her.

"Huh?" Himiko was at first confused by Ban's remark when the realization hit her. Oh, right. I asked him how was he a while ago.

"Uh… yeah, I'm good." Himiko was furiously blushing and she wanted to get up and run towards the door. But failed. It was as if she was magically nailed to the chair.

Natsumi saw her stiffen a little and suppressed a giggle. She didn't want the guys to notice the transporter's anxiety and embarrassment for the abrupt end of their conversation. She quickly went to Himiko's side and asked her what drink or food would she like to order. Himiko was relieved to hear the waitress' gentle voice and told her that she'll have an iced tea.

When the frivolous girl was gone, Ban looked at Himiko from the corner of his left eye and was instantly smacked by a wave of emotions that has always made him feel awkward and weak. He tried to look away, but couldn't. Suddenly, he was caught by the same cycle of memories and feelings that have been chasing him ever since he had laid eyes on those magnetic purple eyes.

The times they spent together were implanted in his head after all these years, that he wished it would all go away. And yet, he cherished every moment of it. He could never forget those damn purple eyes. It mesmerized him for the most part. Not to mention her silky blue-green hair that was once quite long before but was cut short, (but he didn't care. It looked gorgeous on her) her visibly soft lips, clear and dusky complexion, the cute way she handles her vials, the curvaceous body that has matured after three years of separation, and her once-charming smile. Oh how he missed that. Her frequent smile that evolved into a musical laughter had always brought him to grin as well. But now, it was shrouded by a sad, distrustful look that made his heart ache with guilt.

"No. I can't do that. I… can't. No!" Ban was full of dread and hated Yamato for compelling him to kill his best friend. But he knew he had no other choice. He had to do it for the sake of Yamato. And maybe Himiko."

"Ban, kill me. Kill me, damn it!" Yamato had difficulty in uttering those words filled with sorrow. His once low and assuring voice enormously changed into an inaudible, rough and almost alien-like sound that made Ban feel sick and cold to the bones. "Please…. Take care of Himiko for me. Promise me, Ban."

"I…I promise." With that, Ban squeezed his eyes shut and thrust his right hand into the flesh of the other. A voice full of terror and pain was elicited from Yamato and Ban felt like he wanted to kill himself for this horrendous act. He wanted to stop. Go back in time and stop it. But it was too late. Yamato Kudo was dead.

"Ban? You okay?" Ban was snapped back into reality as soon as he heard Himiko's inquiry and was shocked to have realized that he was looking straight at her during his brief time travel to the past. And in addition to that humiliation, he saw Paul, Ginji, Natsumi, Hevn, Kadsuki, and Shido looking curiously at him.

How did the other three come in without me noticing it? Oh, shit! Now Ginji is giving me that funny look again. I wonder if I stared at her for a long time. No, no please. Ah! Stupid. I knew it that I shouldn't have looked at her.

"Um… I… I… just remembered something. Ginji, you idiot! Why didn't you remind me that we have to meet a client by 7:30 tonight? And it's already 7:23, for goodness' sake!" Ban got up, grabbed Ginji, and stormed out of the cafe before Ginji or anyone else could protest at his weird behavior.

As Ban started the engine, Ginji said, "I didn't know we were going to meet a client. I don't even remember meeting one today. Are you sure…?" Before Ginji could continue, Ban stepped on the accelerator so hard that the car bolted out of the curb with a squeal of tires and a thud from Ginji's head that had hit the passenger's window.

"Ouch! Ban-chan! What did you do that for? It's the second time you hit me today and this one really hu…"

"Uruzai! Will you stop complaining for once? You are such a baby." Ban said.

"But it really does hurt." The chibi Ginji declared with those same pathetic eyes that have always annoyed Ban.

"Um…. Ban. You lied about the client thing weren't you? It was kinda obvious that you were covering it all up because we all saw you looking at her. Don't be mad or anything, but I think you should ask her out or something. I mean, you two have been friends for a long time, and it seems that you like her and she likes you. Don't hide it Ban, cuz you and I both know that you really do like her."

Damn you, Ginji. Why do you always have to be so observant all the time?

"I simply don't know what you're talking about. Just to let you know, Himiko and I are just friends, nothing more, nothing less. You got that?" Ban gruffly replied. But it was odd. Even as he told Ginji that he and Himiko are just friends, he felt an inexplicable feeling in his heart. A part of him wanted her, had to have her. But the other part was also telling him that love would only lead to self-destruction, pain, and loneliness. He also knew that he couldn't afford to love her. She was a Voodoo Child and was cursed to die. He felt like the air grew thicker by the second and was unable to breathe. He immediately parked the car in front of a restaurant and killed the engine. He slumped on his seat and closed his eyes. Unexpectedly, a known voice called to him, not from Ginji or someone from outside the vehicle, but someone from his head. Just when he was about to open his eyes to see if it was his imagination playing tricks on him, a blinding white flash emerged out of nowhere in his mind's eye and had developed into a room wherein he found himself standing in it. He tried pinching himself, thinking that it must be a dream, but it was futile. Out of the blue, an identified form appeared before him.

It was Yamato. Alive. Well, maybe an apparition of him, but he looked downright real. Nevertheless, he was relieved and distressed to see his friend standing before him after all these years. Guilt took hold of him once more and when Ban tried to say something, his words were stuck in his throat. He loathed himself for acting this way right now.

"How you doing, Ban?" Yamato said with a smirk that made Ban feel delighted and mischievous to play the little game the two guys had always played to amuse themselves with, and this was by annoying each other with witty jokes or nasty statements to one another.

"Oh, I don't know. Why don't you give me some time to solve this problem? Hmmm. Let me see. We were a happy and prosperous team for about a year or two, and then you forced me into killing you, so, certainly our small group disintegrated and Himiko and I were separated for 3 years. She's been keeping a grudge against me for what you've forced me to do, while I've been living as an unsuccessful Get Backer with Ginji ever since. But it wasn't as bad as Himiko's state right now; it left her with no friend at all because of the bitterness she's been living with all this time."

"I figure you miss me a lot, huh?"

"Hell, yes. I could just drop down to my knees and kiss your feet with such adoration like a dog licking his master's feet."

"And you're blaming me for her bitterness just because I asked you so nicely to kill me in the gut? Did you know that in the world after this, I wasn't able to recover from the wound you gave me? I had ulcers every now and then, my intestines would suddenly pop out like a jack in the box, and my bladder would suddenly explode and by then I wouldn't have time to go to the bathroom. And so I usually pee in my pants. Man, was I the laughing stock or what. So I believe that you owe me big time, Ban.

"Oh no. That's where you're mistaken my friend. You told me to kill you. So I had no other choice but to do just that. To kill you right in the gut. Why, if I drew a hole into your heart, then what will be left of you? I'm guessing if you were intended to go to Heaven, and if they see that you have an empty hole in the center, they'll immediately send you to the underworld because of your potential to be a heartless demon. You should be at least happy that I was very merciful to you."

"Actually you could be right about the demon part. I'm known to be a very bad boy in the world I'm now living in. I guess it's because I'm right here talking to you. I'm not allowed to talk to any mortal, but hey, I made friends in high ranks, you know. I'm a very sociable person. I think that you know that too, huh?"

"So why are you here anyway? To tell me that you love me? Well, I'm really sorry, Yamato. You see, I don't know about you, but I'm straight. I'm perfectly straight and I tend to stay that way for eternity, mind you."

"Oh, I perfectly know that you're straight. In fact, you're in love with this really cute girl now aren't you? Let me refresh your memory. She has purple eyes, green hair, carries vials full of her perfumes wherever she goes, and loves you too. I was even disappointed to find out that you're in love with my little sister. But hey, your partner seems nice, caring and cute."

Ban liked the latter part of the joke as it almost made him laugh, but he concealed it. He felt hot all over by the descriptions Yamato said about his sister and his heart skipped a beat or two. A mental picture of Himiko appeared in front of him and he stood as motionless as a stone. This time his heart's pounding was the only sound he could hear.

Yamato beamed at him. Ban hated it when Yamato clearly won this round. Just as soon as he wanted to say more, Yamato interrupted him. "Ban, this'll only take a minute or two for I have to go. There's a chance for Himiko to be saved from the curse. You do remember the place I told you before where we've been born and later escaped from. Well, I must warn you that your life would be at stake if you want to save her for you would have to face some trials in order for you to take hold of the antidote that'll relieve Himiko from the curse. The medicine woman of the tribe would conduct the whole obstacle. She's the same woman who has cursed us both. She has powerful magic but that only comes from a magical staff that has been passed down from one medicine woman to the next. None of the Voodoo children could touch it. But you can. Only someone who… loves one of the Voodoo Children can break the curse. It would, however, cost you a few drops of blood to make the medicine, but after that you'll have to face the trials she has made for you. So… are you up for it? It may even cost your life, and I suppose I can understand if you re…"

Ban abruptly stopped Yamato from going any further. "Of course I'm up for it, baka! I can never break a promise on behalf of a great friend. Besides, I… I… owe your sister so much. It'll help me break free from my guilt for killing you and never telling her the truth." Ban quickly lowered his head and hunched his shoulders a bit. Obviously, he was hiding his flushed cheeks from Yamato.

Yamato just smiled at him and was slowly turning into a semitransparent being; he looked more like a ghost now than their first meeting a few minutes ago. And soon he disappeared, along with the eye-stinging white background that had surrounded them. Everything was the color of the night. Right at that moment, he heard Ginji's worried voice and at last opened his eyes.

Ban was looking into the chocolate-brown eyes of his partner and was relieve to see those shapes overflowing with emotions. "Ban-chan, are you okay? You just closed your eyes a minute ago and now you're sheathed with sweat. What happened to you? Is it because of me? Gomen Nasai! I shouldn't have…"

Ban waved a hand in front of Ginji's face that indicated that everything was all right. After a minute or two, Ban said, "Let's go back to the café."

Ei! Hope you enjoyed it. It's my first fanfic by the way. Please review.