First Date

It was a clear and slightly cold day in Shinjuku. The sun was shining brightly reflecting off of the windows of the many skyscrapers and a chilling wind blew through the trees of Central Park. Ginji tried to fall back asleep in the Subaru. But a tiny ray of sun was determined to disturb him. He clenched his eyes tighter, tried to block out the bright light and failed miserably.

Big sleep-filled, brown eyes opened, glazed and unfocused. He rubbed the sleep from them, yawned loudly and stretched to the best of his ability in the confined space of the Subaru. Instinctively, blindly his right arm stretched over to the driver's side to poke his partner.

"Wake up, Ban-chan," he whispered hoarsely.

In his sleepy daze he poked the driver's seat for a good minute before realizing that it was not Ban's shoulder he was prodding but the leather seat – not that the two textures were anything alike. Ginji turned to face the driver's side and stared at the empty seat.

He titled his head to the side, "Ban-chan?"

He turned around and looked in the back seat for Ban. But, he wasn't there either. Completely confused, Ginji stepped out of the Subaru and into the cold air. Ban never left without telling him or at least leaving a note. He shivered slightly as the cold wind blew by him. Ginji hugged himself against the hyperborean gale. There were goose bumps on his arms and running down his spine. He tried to warm himself with the electricity flowing through him but, that didn't work.

'This is definitely not the weather for shorts,' Ginji mused with a wry smile. If Ban had been standing next to him he would have smacked him in the back of the head and told him this was no time to be grinning like an idiot. For some reason the cold always made Ban grumpy. The wind whipped around about him, crawling up his pant legs and chilling him to the bone.

"Ginji, are you insane or just plain stupid?" a deep, familiar voice growled from behind. "Don't stand there grinning like an idiot. You'll freeze to death."

Ginji turned around to ask Ban where the hell he had gone. But, when his eyes locked on his partner he just stood there stupefied. Ginji guessed that he had given Ban just the reaction he had been looking for because he stood next to him with a smirk on his haughty lips. It was a look Ginji was far too familiar with. It could say 'You dumb shit,' or 'I'm gonna kick your ass,' or 'You're cute,' all depending on the situation.

He wasn't wearing his usual attire – his white four-tailed shirt. Instead, Ban sported a black turtleneck, a gray coat and a black scarf hung around his neck. Ginji couldn't help but stare. Not only were his clothes different, but his hair was different too. It wasn't in his usual spikes; it was down and lying softly against his head. It looked soft. Ginji had the urge to reach out and touch it. But, he knew he would most likely get smacked.

Also, he wanted to say, 'You look great.' But, he thought that would make Ban uncomfortable. In fact, Ban appeared a little uncomfortable now. His look was piercing but, somehow not unpleasant. He was not familiar with this expression on Ban's face. Thus, he wasn't entirely sure what Ban would do next and when Ginji wasn't entirely sure of what Ban was going to do next there was usually a good chance that whatever it was it would be violent.

So, he quickly broke silence before Ban had a chance to break it by yelling or throwing a punch, "Where'd you get the new duds? I mean – how'd we afford them?"

He waved the question aside. "That doesn't matter. These will be a lot warmer than your shorts and vest," Ban handed Ginji a shopping bag while lighting a cigarette. He flicked his lighter shut. Ban seemed to be in a hurry, "Well? What are you waiting for? Get changed already."

If Ban had wanted to get somewhere he should have woken him up earlier. Ginji followed the order immediately even though he knew he would be smacked for it. He peeled off his green vest and t-shirt all in one lithe wriggle. And he was unbuttoning his shorts when Ban realized what he was doing.

"Hey, hey, hey!" Ban growled smacked Ginji on the head – hard. "What the hell do you think you're doing, idiot?"

"Changing?" Ginji's eyes sparkled petulantly. "You told me to change. So, I'm changing."

Ban growled again – almost affectionately. "I meant that you should change in the car. Do you want to get arrested for public indecency?"

"Public what?"

He then grabbed Ginji's arm with his strong hands and shoved him into the car, shutting the door behind him and leaning his back against the side, "Don't play dumb with me, you passive aggressive son of a bitch. Change in there."

He could hear Ban flicking his lighter open and closed with an impatient fidget as struggled to change in the cramped car. When he emerged from the Subaru he saw Ban glance at him for a long second, glance away then glance back again before he adjusted his glasses and they started walking. Ginji still wore his baggy white t-shirt. But, instead of his green vest, he wore a hunter green coat with wooden buttons and leather loops to fix them in place. And, place of his beige shorts, he now sported a pair of jeans that fit his toned legs perfectly.

"I feel cute and all. But, these pants are seriously riding up my ass," Ginji complained as he shamelessly pulled at the jeans.

"Cute? Only girls and Itomaki look cute," Ban scoffed. "And you'll get used to them sooner or later. Or would you rather freeze your balls of in your shorts?"

The pair walked down the streets of Shinjuku, making there through the morning traffic that packed the sidewalks. Ginji watched as the people as they passed on their way to work or school. Ban passed their usual turn to get to the Honky Tonk. Ginji was starting to become exasperated with confusion.

"Ban-chan. The Honky Tonk is that way," Ginji reminded while indicating the street to the left which they had just passed.

"We're not going to the Honky Tonk right now," Ban corrected as he continued to walk down the street. He grinned and adjusted his glasses, "Besides, the day I follow your sense of direction is the day I die. Right street, wrong direction. The Honky Tonk is to the right."

"Oh," Ginji felt like an idiot. He really could get lost in a closet. But, he was still confused, "Didn't Hevn-san have a job for us today?"

"Already taken care of," Ban reached out and poked the side of Ginji's head. "I took care of it while you were still asleep."

Ginji's confusion turned into slight irritation. He paused on the street, "Ban-chan, we're supposed to do the recoveries together. How can we be the GetBackers if you go off and take solo missions?"

Ban paused too, rolled his eyes, "Don't tell me that you think that just because I took one mission without you that we aren't a team or something inane like that."

Ban could be a real jerk sometimes. Ginji sighed, "No. I just get worried about you."

"Did you wake up extra stupid today or something? I never lose. Remember? So you don't need to worry about me." Ban flashed his most attractively cocky grin, "But, it's sorta sweet that you worry – I guess." He turned and started walking down the street again. Ginji was about to continue the argument but, Ban called over his shoulder, "Let's get a move on or we'll miss the train."

"Train? Sweet!" Ginji's eyes widened and sparkled with happiness. Not only could he get lost in a closet but, he also had the attention span of a goldfish. Ban didn't seem to mind much though. "Where are we going, Ban-chan?"

"Well," Ban paused. He watched Ginji come up to walk beside him from the corner of his eye. Ginji couldn't help his curiosity and excitement. He didn't want to admit it. But, he had never been on a train before – at least not that he remembered. "I thought that we'd take today off and go to Saitama. I've been meaning to take you somewhere outside of Shinjuku for a while now and it is too cold for the beach and it's been awhile since I've been to Saitama so I thought we'd go there for the day."

The two waited for ten minutes for the Saikyo line to arrive at the station. Ban and Ginji walked onto the train once it arrived and settled themselves in one of the seats, Ginji sat next to the window with Ban sitting to his left. Ginji stared out the window unashamedly mesmerized by the scenery that flew by the window. He did not go so far as to press his face to the glass but, his eyes darted back and forth trying to see as much as possible. The train ride flew by, Ginji was too captivated by the scenery to notice and Ban was to busy watching Ginji to care. When the train stopped at Shintoshin Station, Ban had to pry Ginji off of the window in order to get him off the train.

"Let's do it again!" Ginji pleaded.

"Let's not," Ban sighed impatiently. "Jesus, you act like you've never been on a train before."

The partners walked down the stairs and when they made it out of the station, Ginji felt his eyes widen with astonishment and wonder. He knew Ban was smirking but, he didn't care. What the hell was that thing?

Ban answered Ginji's silent question, "That's a torii – a gateway that leads to Shinto shrines."

There were no Shinto shrines in the Limitless Fortress. Ginji walked a little closer to the huge torii and stared and its structure.

"This torii is the first of three that lead the way to Hikawa Shrine. We'll see the other two on our way there."

Ginji nodded. He knew Ban was talking but that he wasn't really listening to him. Ban sighed. He had probably noticed the glazed over look in his eyes.

"You aren't listening. Are you, goofball?"

"True art doesn't need any explanation," Ginji rationalized with one breath.

Ban only looked frustrated that he didn't want to listen to him, "I'm really starting to think that I regret the fact that we ever got involved with that Clayman chick. Come on."

Ban took him roughly by the hand and pulled him through the gateway. Ginji winced but, didn't say anything. He thought that maybe Ban would be a little bit gentler with him if he didn't heal so fast. Even if Ban's touch was forceful to bruise him, the marks never actually marred his skin for more than fifteen or twenty minutes.

Ban's grip softened. Ginji's curled his fingers around Ban's hand tightly. It seemed for a moment that Ban wasn't dragging Ginji like a child but, guiding him like a lover. Ginji picked up on this before Ban, who was determinately and rudely pushing through the crowd. He didn't say anything but, he blushed slightly and quietly let Ban lead him past another torii.

They followed the wood trail that led them towards the last of the three torii. The third torii was closest to the main building of an elegant Shinto Shrine that was surrounded by many ancient elms. Ban stopped on the other side of the torii, in front of the shrine and let go of Ginji's hand. Ginji looked at the shrine and stared at the ancient elegance that it possessed.

"Wow!" exclaimed Ginji, unable to say much else.

"Yeah," Ban replied. "I believe that that was the first thing I said when I first saw Hikawa Shrine, too."

"Oi, Ginji!" Ban questioned in an annoyed tone, disentangling their hands.

"Oh! Sorry, Ban-chan," Ginji apologized instinctively.

"You better be," Ban growled.

Ginji winced slightly. Was he mad because he hadn't been listening or mad because he had been holding his hand so closely? Ginji concluded that it was the latter. There was no way that Ban Midou, would want to go on a date with a guy. Ban had always been sort of prudish about that kind of stuff. They were just partners and close friends and that was all it was ever going to be.

"Geez, pay attention to me when I'm talking to you for once," Ban growled again.

"I'm sorry, Ban-chan," Ginji said sincerely. Maybe, he was wrong. Maybe, Ban was just mad because he hadn't been listening.

"Yeah, yeah," Ban rolled his eyes. "Come on, there's something I want to show you."

Ban grabbed Ginji's hand again and pulled him passed Hikawa Shrine. He had definitely been wrong. Were they on a date? Ginji jumped slightly when hands came up to cover his eyes.

"Ban-chan?" Ginji's voice was filled with worry when he spoke.

"Don't worry, Gin," Ginji heard Ban reply from behind him. "It's a surprise so just relax."

Ginji relaxed and let Ban guide him forward. They walked for a few feet, all the while getting weird looks from the locals and tourists. Ban just brushed off the looks and continued to guide Ginji forward from behind him. They came to a stop a few moments later.

"Ok," Ban smirked. "Open your eyes." He removed his hands from Ginji's eyes and stepped back.

The sight that met Ginji's eyes when he opened them was one that would be forever engraved in his memory. Thousands upon thousands of cherry blossom petals were dancing around in the wind in front of Ginji and Ban. The duo stood in a clearing filled with cherry blossoms and there were no other people in sight. Ginji watched as the petals got swept up in the cold breeze.

"This is beautiful, Ban-chan," Ginji's voice was filled with awe. He stared for a full minute before turning his dreaming eyes back to his partner.

"Sure is," Ban replied, as if taking credit for the entire scene.

Ginji swept Ban up in a big hug, chanting 'thank you' over and over into Ban's ear. Ban smiled despite himself and wrapped his arms around Ginji, returning the hug. Ginji pulled his head back to meet Ban's eyes and was bout to lean forward to kiss him when Ban pushed him away.

"Get off me you big lump," Ban said in a somewhat affectionate tone. "Let's get some lunch and then we can come back and check out the rest of the park."

"Ok, Ban-chan," Ginji replied, hiding the slight disappointment in his voice. He followed Ban out of the park, that he found out was called Omiya Park, and back onto the streets of Saitama. They stopped to have lunch at a ramen stand that Ginji had pointed out. After eating five bowls of ramen each, they headed back to Omiya Park. Ban showed Ginji more of the park while explaining about the Shinto shrine and the Kami that was enshrined in it.

Ginji listened inventively to what Ban was saying. True, he didn't understand some of it, ok a great majority of it, but he understood that it was something that was interesting. The partners walked around Omiya Park before settling down beside a small pound. They sat in silence for a long time, watching the sunset slowly through the petals of the cherry blossoms. Ban and Ginji had fallen to the grass and were lying side by side while Ban pointed out some of the constellations to Ginji.

"Ban-chan," Ginji spoke softly since he didn't want to break the calm serenity that had fallen over them.

"Yeah?" Ban whispered in reply. He seemed to have the same idea as Ginji.

Ginji thought for minute. He had wanted to ask Ban if this was possibly, maybe, hopefully a date but there was a little voice in the back of his mind scolding him for thinking such nonsense.

"Never mind. It's nothing," Ginji said quietly. He decided not to ask. It'd be better if he didn't since if he did ask and
Ban said no, then things would be weird between them. Ginji didn't want that to happen so he decided that it was for the best if he never brought up the subject out loud.

Ban looked at Ginji out of the corner of his eye. He wasn't going to pressure Ginji into telling him what he had wanted to say. Ginji would get around to telling him sooner or later. Ban looked at his watch and cursed inwardly.

"Come on Ginji, we have to leave now," Ban said as he pulled himself up from the grass and brushed the grass off of his jacket.

Ginji followed Ban's lead and pulled himself from the grass. "Why?" Ginji asked after getting all the grass off of his coat.

"Our train is going to leave in less than ten minutes and I don't know about you but I really don't want to sleep outside tonight."

Ginji nodded and the duo took off at a run through the now vacant park. They dodged people on the streets as they made their way back to Shintoshin Station. When they arrived on the platform, the doors to the train cars were just starting to close. Ban and Ginji were able to slip between the doors as they closed. Ginji plopped down in a chair next to a window and Ban settled on his right.

Before the train had left the platform, Ginji's head was nestled into the crock between Ban's neck and shoulder. His left hand rested against Ban's right arm and soft snoring sounds could be heard coming from Ginji's throat. Ban looked over at Ginji and smiled at the content look on his face. It was one of those looks that graced Ginji's features that Ban knew that only he could take credit for. He was the only one who was able to make Ginji as content and happy as he was now.

Ban titled his head slightly until it rested against Ginji's. His lips curved into a soft smile, one that he wasn't going to hid behind a smirk or rude comment. Ban's eyes slipped closed and his breathing became deep and even. The two slept peacefully as the train traveled down the tracks branching off to access the west side of Tokyo, heading straight to Shinjuku.

The train's chime, that stated that the train had stopped in Shinjuku, pulled Ban from his light sleep. He looked around blurrily before he noticed the doors opening. He nudged Ginji, trying to wake up him up. When Ginji had woken up, he gave a mumbled, incoherent remark as Ban dragged him off of the train. The pair walked down the streets of Shinjuku and then turned down the familiar street that the Honky Tonk was located on. Just before they reached the door to the café and away from the café's large window, Ginji put his hand on Ban's shoulder, making him stop walking.

"What is it Ginji?" Ban asked as he turned to face him.

"I just wanted to say thank you for taking me to Saitama," Ginji said quietly to Ban before letting go of Ban's shoulder and walking towards the door to the Honky Tonk.

Ginji stopped walking when Ban grabbed his arm and turned him around. Ginji was about to ask Ban what was wrong when Ban pressed his lips to Ginji's. Ban held Ginji's face in his hands and kissed him tenderly but firmly.

A minute later, Ban pulled away for air. He smirked at the look on Ginji's face. Ginji's eyes were glazed over with shock and a little bit of hope. His cheeks were flushed a slight pink and he had a goofy smile playing on his lips.

"Ban-chan?" Ginji's eyes lost their glazed look and were now filled with confusion and slight pleading for an answer to the thoughts that had been swirling in his head all day.

"Your welcome," Ban said silently to Ginji, his breath brushing against Ginji's lips. He stroked the side of Ginji's cheek with his thumb as he spoke the next sentence. "It was a date, Ginji."

Itomaki Thread spinner - Kazuki