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A Final, Lengthy Discussion
Six Months Later
"I hate ties." Ginji muttered as he sat on the barstool, pushing his glass back and forth between his hands. As the big day approached he was getting more and more worried, more so because Ban was becoming more and more irrational about the whole thing. He was in charge of keeping Ban in line after all and right now there were a lot of jobs he'd rather be doing. Like facing off against Jackal in a battle to the death for one. Okay, so maybe it wasn't that bad but it was certainly right up there. Needing to take his mind off that fact, Ginji contented himself with bitching about his recently acquired addition to his wardrobe. "I don't see why I have to wear one since I'm not the one getting married. It's outside, for Christ sakes. Who needs a tie outside?"
"You know, there are better things to be complaining about other than having to dress up." Ban pointed out from his seat beside his partner. They were both bone tired after a particularly exhausting mission and neither intended to get out of their seat any time soon. Thankfully the Honky Tonk was never busy enough that they couldn't just sit there for hours without being shooed out. Unless their tab as too high for Paul to tolerate their presence.
"You're just mad because Shido didn't ask you to be part of the wedding party."
"I wouldn't have even if he had asked me. That's not the point, Ginji. The point is that in two days Monkey Boy is going to marry one of our very best friends and we can't stop it because she'd never forgive us!" Looking the picture of a condemned man Ban didn't know what was worse, having to attend the wedding or refusing to attend and than seeing how hurt Madoka would be afterwards. Not to mention the fact that Volts members would be lining up to kill him for ruining her day, Ban thought darkly.
"You need to get over this whole objection thing." Used to this argument by now since Ban had been bitching about it for months Ginji didn't even bother to try and defend Shido. It always went right over Ban's head anyway.
"Over my dead body."
"It will be if you keep talking like that."
Turning in his seat to glare at Himiko Ban saw his day going from bad to worse. Ginji you could argue with but Himiko was another story. She never listened to him and took delight in contradicting him just for the hell of it. "What do you want?" He asked rudely, giving her a dark look from over his purple shades. "Shouldn't you be off somewhere poisoning someone or something?"
"I just got back from my final dress fitting." Was her smug response, knowing how much the idea of the wedding was irking him. She'd been honored when Madoka had asked her to be one of her bridesmaids and she had no intention of standing around and letting Ban ruin everything. As it was, she'd go easier on him then any of the groomsmen. "Now quit whining like a baby, will you? If you keep this up you're going to have no friends left by the end of the ceremony. This wedding is going to happen whether you like it or not so just suck it up and be a man for once in your life."
"You know your mouth is moving but I'm not hearing a word you say." Was his response to that as he smirked over at her. "And Ginji would never desert me, right, Ginji?"
"I'm counting down the hours till they're married so that you'll have to stop all your ranting."
"There you go." Sliding into the seat on Ginji's other side Himiko patted her blond friend sympathetically on the shoulder. "And hey, just remember that the reason he's in such a lousy mood is because Madoka would have never figured out the whole twitterpation thing if he hadn't come up with that whole cookie analogy."
"Ah yes, the cookie analogy." Paul said with a fond sigh as he came out from the back, having heard the bell above the door chime. "Someone really should write that one down. What can I get for you, Himiko?"
"It is not my fault those two got together!" Grumbling bad temperedly while Himiko gave her order Ban couldn't imagine what he'd possibly done to deserve this. Everyone was against him on this but any fool could see that this wedding was so very wrong. Madoka could do so much better than Monkey Boy and as her friend wasn't it his duty to tell her that? But no, everyone got mad whenever he tried and in the last week alone they'd turned him black and blue from all their whacks and elbowing.
"Maybe we just need to find Ban a cookie?" Ginji suggested, trying to be helpful and defuse a possible fight before things got any worse. "I'm sure there will be lots of girls at the wedding party that you could hit on, Ban. There's something to look forward to huh?"
"Yeah, watching him get shot down is always amusing." Himiko agreed with a faint scowl, not liking the idea of girls converging on Ban, who could be really hot when his hair didn't look like Ginji had electrocuted him. Not that she'd ever admit that out loud of course. He could also be a charming bastard when he wanted to be too, she thought darkly, her good mood fading away to one more akin to Ban's current one.
"And the guys are just going to line up to dance with a tomboy like you." Was Ban's sarcastic response to that catty remark, thinking not for the first time that he really had to do something about adjusting Himiko's attitude before she ended up an old maid before she was twenty. Not that he particularly cared for the idea of her dating some punk but at least than she'd have something better to do then make his life a living hell whenever possible.
Seeing the sparks begin to fly Ginji quickly put his hands up in self defense. "Oh come on you, two, can't you guys behave yourselves for once, please? You're both great and I'm sure you'll both be very popular at the party and have to fight the opposite sex off with sticks." Laying it on thick Ginji was desperate to stop a fight before he got dragged into the middle the way he always was when there was no one else around to help him break them up. He and Ban couldn't afford to pay damages!
Eyes still shooting sparks in Ban's direction Himiko forced herself to relax and return to her seat for Ginji's sake, changing the subject for all their sakes. "So, Ginji, did you ask Natsumi to go to the wedding with you?"
"She's going with some guy she knows." Was his sighed response to that one though he shrugged it off as casually as he could manage. He really liked Natsumi after all but she probably wasn't the right sort of girl for him anyway. Given the way he attracted trouble like crazy it was probably better if he dated women like Himiko who could handle themselves in tough situations. Natsumi would try and he didn't want to think about the sort of problems and complications she'd cause. He caused more than enough as it was.
"That's too bad." Patting him on the shoulder again sympathetically Himiko could perfectly understand. If it weren't for the fact that most of Shido's friends were bachelors and wouldn't be bringing dates either she'd have been totally depressed about going to the wedding alone. As it was, there was likely to be more single people there than couples. Amused by that Himiko couldn't help but comment on it. "Hey, Ginji, why do you suppose all of our friends are single and Shido of all people is the only one of us with marriage ahead of him?"
"Huh...I never really thought about that before. Why do you think that is, Ban?"
"You have to ask? Because who would want to marry any of the people we hang out with. Madoka's literally blind when it comes to Shido, there aren't that many people walking around in the Limitless Fortress like that who live very long." Was his dry answer.
"That's not true, we have lots of nice girls at the Limitless Fortress." Ginji argued, standing up for his former home which wasn't paradise but was in some ways better than some other places in the world he'd read about in the paper. "Makubex spends all his time with Sakura so he just doesn't meet most of them and you know that Kazuki and Juubei aren't interested in girls. For that matter Emishi loves girls, plural!"
"I don't know if nice is the word, Ginji. A lot of them need charm school and a shrink more then Himiko here. Talk about your violent tendencies."
A definite twitch appearing under Himiko's right eye she was definitely feeling violent as she grinched her teeth. "Well keep this up and when they arrest me for your homicide I'll have to see one whether I like it or not."
"Can't we just all get along?"
"No!" Was Himiko and Ban's simultaneous answer which caused them to glare at each other venomously.
"And they are at it again." Emishi noted with a grin as he opened the door, holding it open for Kazuki who led Juubei in with Makubex taking up the rear. Everyone taking a seat Himiko quickly filled them in on the argument, leading Emishi to launch into a long winded speech about how great the women in his clan were and how Ban was just jealous since the only women he hung out with on a regular basis were Natsumi and Hevn. This sparked an even larger debate since Ban had to defend himself by bringing the terrible love lives of the others into question to which they all had heated rebuttals. Soon everyone was yelling at everyone and Ginji was the only quiet one, hunched over his drink as he tried not to think about what his friends were saying about each other. Even Makubex was getting into it for Christ sakes.
Seeing that everyone got their orders Paul did his best to stay out of it, moving over to Ginji who looked positively miserable where he was. "Anything else for you?" He asked, seeing a way to give Ginji an excuse for not joining in the conversation. One, it was getting really bad and two, Ginji just wasn't in Emishi or Ban's league with the ladies.
"Maybe I should just ask one of my old girlfriends to go with me." Was Ginji's reply after a thoughtful pause, wincing as Ban gave Emishi a very creative suggestion as to what he could do with his whip.
"Well maybe one of them would go with me. Plus, if I bring someone with me, she could help me keep an eye on Ban." Looking quite pleased with the idea Ginji was glad to have something constructive to do that would also keep him out of harm's way once the punches started coming. "Could I have a pen and a piece of paper please?"
Curious Paul gave Ginji what he asked for, watching the blond man get up from his seat to go to one of the booths, writing away in what looked to be a list with the occasional scribbling out.
Meanwhile, no one noticed he was gone until Ban moved to get Ginji's assurance that he'd back him up in his plans to kill Emishi by stuffing one of Himiko's poisons down the bastard's neck. Since Emishi had made the mistake of calling Himiko a figureless tomboy she already had the flame perfume out and in her hand and ready to go. Turning to see his partner's seat suddenly empty Ban blinked in surprised confusion. "Where the hell is Ginji?"
"He's over there making a list." Makubex informed him, having left the fight since he really didn't have much to add anymore. It was really mostly between Emishi, Himiko and Ban now. Everyone else was just rooting for one or the other.
"What? Ginji, what the hell are you making a list for?" Ban demanded to know, temporarily forgetting that he was supposed to be killing Emishi.
"Of girls to ask to the wedding. I've got about twenty good possibilities and about another twelve that I might have a chance with if I really kiss up to them."
Everyone turning to stare at Ginji in surprise Himiko couldn't help but ask the question that was on everyone's minds. "And how do you know all these girls?" They were all probably former clients, she thought with a pitying look in the blonde's direction. Either that or former Volts members who would go with him because he was their former Emperor.
"Well I've either dated them or slept with them or both. Mostly both." Ginji explained, looking up from his list. "I've crossed out most of the ones that I just slept with though since obviously I didn't like them enough to date them too. Those were in the good ole days when I was too shallow to know better." He explained with a grave expression on his face. "Now I always date them first."
Suddenly knowing how a father felt when he learned his daughter was no longer a virgin Kazuki was grateful he was sitting down. "How could he be dating women without us knowing?" He muttered to no one in particular, everyone else sharing the sentiment exactly.
"He was the Lightening Emperor." Juubei pointed out, the least fazed of the bunch. "It does stand to reason that he could have had any woman in our territory he wanted. They threw themselves at all of us after all, and we were just his underlings."
Faced with the horrifying fact that his partner might have had more women than him Ban got to his slightly shaky feet and numbly walked over, taking the list from a surprised Ginji to then quickly read down the list. There were a number of names scribbled out and he got the sinking feeling that his earlier fear was quite possibly correct. His best friend, the blond bubble head, had had more women than he had. Sitting down in the booth beside Ginji Ban could feel the life draining out of him.
"Hey, Ban, are you okay?" Ginji wanted to know, poking his unresponsive friend in the shoulder.
"This is going to really amuse Sakura later."
"That's it!" Makubex's words causing a light bulb to go off Ginji's face lit up as he forgot about Ban and yanked out his cell phone, quickly punching in numbers while his quietly fascinated audience watched him like hawks. "Hi, Sakura?" ... "Yeah, he's fine, he's here with me right now."... "Sorry to worry you. Anyway, the reason I was calling was I was wondering if you'd be my date for Shido and Madoka's wedding?" ... "No, I'd much rather go with you than anyone else but if there someone you want to go with I understand and..."... "Oh, really? Great! Than I'll see you there. Oh! And what color is your dress so I can bring you one of those flower thingies you put on your wrist." ... "Of course I'm going to. A beautiful woman deserves beautiful flowers and I want to get you one."
"He's not talking about our Sakura right?" Emishi said slowly, looking at the two former Kings for guidance. "I mean it's Sakura!" Sakura was like the mother/sister most of them had never had and all of them had brotherly feelings towards her that didn't allow them to think about her as a woman, much less one they could date or see romantically. There was just no way.
"No, it couldn't possibly be my sister." Shaking his head Juubei refused to believe otherwise. His older sister and the Emperor were just too different and Sakura wasn't interesting in dating anyone, especially a younger man. "He would never ask her out on a date."
"Yeah, and it's not like she's the sort of woman you date after all." Makubex chimed in, in perfect agreement that there was no way Ginji could possibly be making a date with his personal assistant.
"Boy you guys are really pissing her off." Ginji said in a hushed tone, holding his phone slightly away from his ear as Sakura's muffled but obviously furious resorts came blasting out. "You are all so dead." He added, just in case they didn't realize that. "She says she's going to find the most revealing, figure baring formal dress she can get her hands on for the wedding and show you all just how much of a woman she really is."
Several faces going pale as Ginji tried to smooth Sakura's ruffled feathers the atmosphere quickly became as depressing as it had been during Ban's rants against the upcoming marriage. This was not good. Definitely, not good.
"She wouldn't really do that, would she, Kazu?" Juubei asked, clutching Kazuki's slender hand for support as he stared unseeingly in his lover's direction.
"She is stubborn enough." Feeling mildly ill at the idea of seeing Sakura, who was practically his own sister, in that sort of clothing Kazuki didn't know what was worse, finding out his Ginji wasn't as innocent as he seemed or the mental images of what was to come once Sakura got ahold of them. Juubei wasn't the only one who knew how to use needles after all.
Trying to comfort Himiko leaned over to pat Jubbei's other hand. "Don't worry, I mean look at what she normally wears. She isn't the type to wear anything you couldn't handle seeing your mother in."
"You're so lucky she hung up before you said that." Putting his phone back in his pocket Ginji shook his head at the lot of them. Boy were Makubex and Emishi ever in for it when they got home! Sakura had even been talking about painting Makubex's room pink when she'd gotten off the phone. She was mad enough to do it too. "And I don't understand why you guys are so bent out of shape about this. What's wrong with asking Sakura out?"
"Oh great, now you have a date and I don't, just to cap off this wonderful evening." Was Ban's muttering which was barely heard over Makubex, Emishi, Juubei and Kazuki, who were all trying to explain to Ginji why Sakura was off limits.
Once everyone paused for breath Ginji took the opportunity to speak up in his defense. "Come on guys, it's okay, really. It's not like this is really such a big deal you know. Just because Sakura is my kind of cookie doesn't mean that anything is going to come of this. If it makes you feel better, I promise I won't even nibble on the cookie until Sakura says it's all right."
And once again, there was silence in the Honky Tonk, only to be broken by one of Ban's very loud, very familiar, "DAMMIT, GINJI! WHY DID I EVER COME UP WITH THAT STUPID ANALOGY!"