Title: Kiss Me Deadly
Fandom: Get Backers
Pairing: Akabane Kuroudo/Himiko Kudou
Theme set: Alpha
Rating: PG – PG-13 (violence, adult themes)
Warnings/Spoilers: General spoilers for story arcs and character histories.
Notes: A series of singles for the LJ comm. 1sentence, centered around two transporters.
Summary: Familiarity breeds contempt, but sometimes attraction as well.
#1 – Comfort
At first, it was of little comfort to Himiko that Doctor Jackal was a selective sociopath; dead was still dead, any way you looked at it, but his saving grace was that he spared his victims the kind of agonizing slaughter she'd seen lesser thugs engage in, and came to understand that, for reasons of his own, he was committed to shi no jundo - the art of the kill.
(Note: "Shi no Jundo" means 'The Purity Of Death,' which is Akabane's theme song.)
#2 – Kiss
It was rare for them to disagree, rarer still for their disagreements to escalate into true arguments, and when they did Himiko knew she could almost always expect to feel at least one blade lick hot-cold across her skin as Akabane would warn her in no uncertain terms that she was tempting his boundaries – boundaries which she secretly had grown addicted to pushing.
#3 – Soft
Even though he'd cut through it countless times, Akabane never failed to be somewhat surprised at how easily human flesh was damaged, and it bothered him - in ways he wasn't certain he wanted to examine – that Himiko's mortality should be made all the more apparent when the rival protection service unleashed a hailstorm of bullets upon them, and one (un)lucky stray clipped Lady Poison's arm.
#4 – Pain
That she had taken his teachings very much to heart became awkwardly obvious when Himiko collapsed on the ground, unable to bear the crushing weight in her chest from the pneumonia she'd contracted, and after the cargo was delivered Akabane carried her straight to the hospital himself, all the while gently scolding her about the wisdom of enduring pain to one's tolerance, not past one's limits.
#5 – Potatoes
On occasion, Akabane's scalpel-wielding abilities were helpful to have around, and when at her request he cheerfully sawed open the can of potatoes, Himiko found herself wryly thinking how lucky the transporters were to have their very own human can opener.
#6 – Rain
Doctor Jackal's Bloody Rain was a spectacular show, Himiko knew from past witness, but it was made all the more stunning when that storm collided with the Lightning Emperor's explosive current, and Himiko prayed that the both of them would survive the hurricane intact, for while she had no true hatred of Ginji, maybe even liked and respected him a little, she also didn't want to see the flicker of what passed for Akabane's soul snuffed out as cruelly as his knives cut short another's life.
#7 – Chocolate
Doctor Jackal did not mind sharing when occasionally asked for a piece of chocolate if he had any available, but he was quite chagrined to learn, the hard way, that his associate Lady Poison preferred not to share hers.
#8 – Happiness
Akabane has always believed that one's happiness is important; therefore, he isn't bothered by the fact that Himiko finds happiness where he does not, and vice versa.
#9 – Telephone
Himiko would die before she'd admit it to anyone, but whenever it was necessary to speak with him over the phone, the silken sinfulness of Akabane's seductive purr would linger in her ears for weeks afterward.
#10 – Ears
Himiko didn't even question why she turned away from the pair of dazzling long earrings that had first caught her attention in the store; she'd seen the way Akabane's eyes had narrowed and (correctly) guessed that he was still nursing a bit of a grudge against that insufferable Kyouji Kagami – which, she had to admit, was not entirely unjustified given Kagami's unnerving interest in her.
#11 – Name
Himiko is a witch, born of witches, and she knows that names have power; they are spells formulated to summon forth the true essence of a person, which is why she is always very careful to invoke Akabane when she merely wants to talk to her fellow shadow and Jackal when she has overstepped her limits and requires assistance to get the job done.
#12 – Sensual
Akabane is given to sensation; he whittles everything he encounters into stimuli he categorizes as either exciting or boring, and God help the person he's dealing with if he isn't interested enough to permit some sensations to linger, for then he moves with the fluid grace of a dancer except so much faster, and Himiko who watches him from the side is loath to admit that she finds the macabre ballet he performs fascinating, in its own sinister way, for he is a natural predator, he excels at it, and like all predators exudes a subtle sensuality that she can't help but be attracted to.
#13 – Death
That Doctor Jackal is a portent of death is unquestioned; he wears the dark shroud of it as easily as the night skies lace themselves with the stars – but if only others could see what he does in his partner, Lady Poison, they would realize that death has many forms, and sometimes it also takes the shape of a fire-breathing young woman who, when angered, will bewitch her puppets into dancing by the licks of flame at her whim until their lifeless husks fall as ashes on the ground.
#14 – Sex
Blood sings; it has its own enchanting melody whether throbbing in Himiko's veins or spraying from the wounds left by Akabane's scalpels, and the rush they both glory in during the whirlwind of battle leaves them breathless, aching, longing for more – and although Himiko averts her eyes and tries to present an aloof façade afterward, she knows that Akabane, with his coy smile, is aware of her guilty secret and is greatly amused, which makes her wonder whether temptation's forbidden pleasures would be worth the sacrifice.
#15 – Touch
Himiko treasures the brief moments that fall unexpectedly as snowflakes do into her lap, and she savors the memory of Akabane's warm, smooth skin, unfettered by those accursed gloves, when once his bare fingers had tended a cut on her cheek with all the skill and subtle care that she'd come to expect from a former physician.
#16 – Weakness
No one is without their personal demons, and Akabane and Himiko are not alone in this respect; however, the weak spot they share may taunt them from the edges of the darkness they flirt with, but their reasons for wanting to eliminate it stem from very different past histories.
#17 – Tears
Akabane quietly offers Himiko a handkerchief from the breast pocket of his coat and sits silent, watchful, thinking as she valiantly hides her tears in the folds of cloth, for he doesn't mind when on rare occasion the stress simply is too much for a mortal to bear and Lady Poison cannot maintain Himiko's burden indefinitely; indeed, he finds it fitting that she cries and he does not – for long ago, he spent all of his own tears, and now relies on others to shed those precious blood diamonds for him.
#18 – Speed
In normal circumstances Himiko can't match Akabane speed for speed even in top form; the difference in their abilities is simply too stark – or was, until the day he discreetly presented her with a new bottle of acceleration perfume, one augmented by his unusual blood, and now she flies like lightning on the wind, furious and invincible, no longer bound by the physical limitations that prevented her from making full use of this particular perfume.
#19 – Wind
One night Akabane asked her what the appeal was, so Himiko said she would show him: he fit his tall, lanky frame as best he could into the sidecar and she gunned the engine of her motorcycle as they tore along the open highway like the gates of hell were clanging apart behind them; now in the breathless tension of exhaust fumes and blurring pavement and glimmering lights amidst the backdrop of the night, the speedometer needle pushes its limits while Himiko searches for and finds that perfect moment of transcendence when she feels so incredibly alive, which is matched only by the husky growl of Akabane – who for once has removed his hat, the better to let the wind whip his hair into a frenzy – as he brushes his lips near her ear and encourages her to go faster, faster!
#20 – Freedom
Ginji argues that she can't possibly be happy working with a man who kills for pleasure, but he doesn't know the half of it – he doesn't know that Himiko is profoundly grateful to Akabane for his ever-silent, ever-constant presence at her back, the only time when one would want to have Doctor Jackal at their back, for he is not the demanding or controlling type and although he has his…eccentricities, and can be a downright manipulative bastard when he wants to be, he is dependable (for the most part) and courteous (to a fault) and though he warns Himiko when it is his turn to take the reigns of a job, he has never once failed to give her freedom of choice when it comes time to decide the course her destiny must take.
#21 – Life
Akabane was surprisingly easy to talk to; there was nothing, no matter how taboo or explicit, that he would not discuss with Himiko if she asked him, and he would obligingly speak in detail, using the same soft-spoken tone and delicate phrasing he always did, if the subject held enough interest for him to merit more than a passing commentary on it – but there was one topic he was adamant about not sharing the particulars of, and when Himiko once pressed him as to what he had done before becoming a transporter, he effectively stunned her into silence by coldly replying, "The person you used to be found death in a bloody hell too, did she not?"
#22 – Jealousy
She had no idea whether or not he had any leanings of that sort; it wasn't as if he encouraged casual flirtation or made a habit of discussing his sex life (if he had one) with her – even so, Himiko was shocked to feel the slow burn of envy when she saw the way that Akabane shamelessly propositioned Ban as he tried to tempt him into a fight, and even though she knew it was the challenge that was getting him off more than anything else, she still ground her teeth in irritation while she watched Akabane wrestle body-to-body with Ban.
#23 – Hands
Akabane's hands were a source of great fascination for Himiko, and not just because of the lethal surprises that could emerge without warning from them; those long, slender fingers were capable of precise, elegant movements and that pale skin was as soft and supple as any mortal man's in its prime, and there was even a tragic beauty in the way the starburst scars branded each palm as if to announce his guilt – so small wonder, then, that Doctor Jackal chose to hide his hands in the perfect purity of innocent white gloves.
#24 – Taste
Himiko and Akabane both know what the other smells like; they've worked together for so long that the familiar scents – blood, spices, metal, perfumes – are second nature in recognizing one's presence, but every once in a while, each of them catches a whiff of intrigue on the other and finds him or herself wondering what it might taste like, if their respective skins will have the flavor of the substances they deal in…or surprise one another with a new delicacy.
#25 – Devotion
Some people (Ban and Ginji) might argue that Akabane is at best an erratic partner to have; if his interest is sidetracked (Kagami) he has no problem abruptly switching gears in the middle of the stream, so to speak, to happily pursue those interests, but Himiko knows better, even if it is one of Akabane's more infuriating habits – he doesn't do it out of malice or forgetful neglect, and she is made bolder by the knowledge that if one such as Doctor Jackal, with his fondness for worthy opponents and proper observance of protocol, feels the inkling to temporarily leave Lady Poison to her own devices, it isn't so much because he doesn't care what happens to her – it's more that he trusts in her strength to see the night through.
#26 – Forever
It was bound to happen sooner or later although they were each careful never to think consciously of such a possibility, and to both transporters, the heart-stopping moment when they faced each other on opposing sides of a job seemed to stretch out an endless horizon; in the retelling of this epic tale to those that know them, Himiko is closemouthed as to whether she just got lucky with that shot of flame perfume, and Akabane's enigmatic smile refuses to reveal a clue as to where exactly his scalpels were aiming, for both of them know that some secrets are best kept forever.
#27 – Blood
Akabane's blood ran just as red as any other mortal's, and so Himiko found that she couldn't be entirely upset with him when he managed to finish one last J before collapsing in a pool of his own crimson after being drilled by a weapon at point-blank range; out of a peculiar courtesy to her fallen comrade, Himiko finished off the rest of them with her corrosion perfume and watched with grim satisfaction as they vomited up more than enough blood to equal what they'd robbed from Akabane.
#28 – Sickness
"Doctors are the worst patients," Maguruma had once told Himiko, who thought for the longest time that he was joking – until Akabane came down with a nasty cold while he and Himiko were stranded on assignment one snowy weekend, and she had to use up her entire bottles of puppet and sleep perfumes in order to get her uncharacteristically grouchy cohort to take the foul-tasting medicine she'd purchased, which he'd pointedly (emphasis on the point) refused, and then for good measure a hefty swig of oblivion perfume so he'd never remember what she'd made him do.
#29 – Melody
Himiko squirms in the seat of the truck as she studies the dashboard with its control panels; the truck is a well-maintained vehicle and Maguruma keeps it so, for there is nothing out of the ordinary in the white noise that Himiko hears, but all just the same, she feels on edge but can't pinpoint why – and then she realizes, of course, that what's missing is the eerie lullaby she's become used to – the icy, hissing snick-click of Akabane's scalpels when he shifts them as he fidgets, because he wasn't hired to accompany them on this job.
#30 – Star
One doesn't even have to use the entire billing; all it takes is a hushed mutter – "Jackal" – and everyone in the agent business instantly knows who the speaker is referring to, and they will usually tremble visibly as they dare to mention his name, perhaps fearing that to simply speak of the devil is to summon him from ether, or perhaps worried that the mistress of poison perfumes who often accompanies him will appear to chastise them severely for taking such liberty, and Himiko finds a grim amusement in sharing this notoriety with Akabane because it greatly cuts down on the number of enemies she has to deal with – but on the other hand, when she does have to face an opponent, it's almost always the worst kind.
#31 – Home
Akabane always insisted – politely, of course – on escorting Himiko home after they'd worked a job together, and it amused her to no end when one night he was sorely disappointed to discover that the intruder they thought had entered her loft turned out to be nothing more than a curious raccoon – which she made him take with him when he left, since she didn't want any more bloodstains seeping into her carpet.
#32 – Confusion
Being a cursed child herself, living beneath a deadline of future uncertainty, Himiko couldn't stand Akabane's cavalier attitude about death…and it frustrated her even more when he would treat her with such inexplicable gentleness and courtesy, as if he valued her life beyond just that of a work partner's convenient presence.
#33 – Fear
Akabane was used to having people fear him; it came with the territory, after all, but he was pleasantly surprised, somewhat puzzled and more than a little aroused to discover that Himiko didn't seem to hold him in the same terrifying regard as the rest of humanity did.
#34 – Lightning/Thunder
If Ginji is the lightning rod of their duo, Ban is booming with energy as he makes his displeasure with his partner's tardiness loudly known to the rest of the Honky Tonk, and while the Get Backers squabble over the empty cookie jar on Paul's countertop, Himiko and Akabane look upon the eye of the storm with amusement from a corner booth, and share a sly smile as they enjoy the last two cookies they'd bought moments before the other pair had entered the shop.
#35 – Bonds
Some bonds are thicker than water or blood, as Ban once found out much to his discomfort why it wasn't a good idea to pick on Himiko's lack of sizeable chest when she was feeling hormonal and happened to have a fellow transporter along who possessed a fondness for sharp objects and a gentlemanly protective streak for his sometime work partner.
#36 – Market
They work together not just because it happens to turn out that way when a client decides to hire more than one transporter; some things function better in pairs and they complement each other nicely, the Lady and her guardsman, the witch and the warrior, which is why most of their regular clients prefer this particular pair to do the job since they've all but advertised themselves as such.
#37 – Technology
At best, failure in his chosen pursuits disappointed Akabane and usually left him feeling vaguely cheated; at worst, he wound up indulging in a murderous round of therapy to assuage his frustrations, and even though he was grateful for the assistance, he was still very put out to see that after hours of his futile endeavors, with a few simple manipulations (and a phone call to Makubex), Himiko had succeeded in retrieving the lost data on his laptop computer.
#38 – Gift
In contrast to her seventeenth birthday, Himiko's twenty-first was one of the happiest celebrations she could remember, for she received an astonishingly large number of wonderful gifts from the Honky Tonk gang she'd come to associate with, but the best one of all was when she returned home later that night to find Akabane waiting for her in her bedroom, lying on the bed, wearing nothing but his hat and his gloves and that ever-present, maddening come-hither-if-you-dare smile.
#39 – Smile
To most people, Doctor Jackal's smile wasn't a reliable barometer of his mood, but over time Himiko had learned to interpret the subtle difference between his regular, I-tolerate-you-because-you-amuse-me-with-your-foibles-silly-person smile and his just as frequent, I'm-happy-because-in-two-seconds-you're-going-to-be-dead smile, and she took pains to see that Akabane was kept sufficiently distracted whenever she noticed the latter threatening an appearance.
#40 – Innocence
She knew he'd been taking lessons from that simpleton Ginji; only problem was, Akabane simply didn't have the sweetly endearing appearance or mannerisms to successfully pull off the guise, and despite the solemn, polite demeanor of his quiet denial, the twinkling in his eyes was how Himiko knew that he'd pilfered the last piece of Honky Tonk pizza the transporters had ordered when her back was turned.
#41 – Completion
Himiko doesn't like doing it, but she knows that sometimes it really is the lesser of two evils (especially if it's her they're after), and on the few occasions she's forced to attack with lethal intent she will always first give to her opponents a final warning to stand down, a kind of mercy that her partner is never inclined toward, to give them a chance to escape with their lives, but when they disregard it (as they usually do) she will carry through her threat without hesitation – because she is a woman of her word and honor is as important to her as it is to Akabane, whom she knows will respect her unspoken wishes enough to permit the less foolish ones to survive.
#42 – Clouds
The topmost spires of Mugenjou pierced the clouds as cruelly as Akabane's blades did flesh; a surprised Himiko, when she learned of his origins, asked him why he'd left the infamous City, and was even more intrigued when he cryptically replied that sometimes one person's heaven was another's hell.
#43 – Sky
The sight of a black silhouette against the backdrop of a bright blue sky made most people's mouths run dry with terror; for Himiko, it just meant that here was Akabane, fashionably late as usual for another job.
#44 – Heaven
Himiko could respect the mediator, if for no other reason than that Hevn was just as professional in her dealings as were the transporters in theirs, but it still grated on her that the other woman attracted fawning attention like honey did insects, so as startling as the revelation was when it came, she was secretly thrilled when Akabane put his lips to her ear and wondered in a soft murmur if Hevn's exhibitionism suggested that she wasn't as secure in herself as was Himiko – that, and he thought that Himiko's breasts fit better into his hands as opposed to the other woman's.
#45 – Hell
The keys shone in the sunlight as they dangled enticingly from the ignition, and to entertain themselves while they waited for their absent coworker to return Himiko and Akabane spent several mildly amusing minutes daring each other to touch what was forbidden, though they both knew neither of them was insane enough to risk Maguruma's wrath by attempting to drive his precious truck themselves.
#46 – Sun
To be one of the Last Children, those legendary souls marked by the blood of voodoo magic, is to exist on a plane that offers so much more than this dubious designation might imply; Himiko is a child of the Sun, and every day must have its accompanying night, thus Akabane attends her faithfully as any proper steward would in keeping vigil for a queen's light, that its strength may continue to warm the recesses of his soul that remain perpetually unlit.
(Inspiration for this one comes from a Wikipedia entry - there really was a Queen Himiko who evidently had many females as servants, but only one man as her attendant; the name Himiko literally means "sun-priestess." Also, Himiko's mirror opposite in the Voodoo Child arc is Queen Himiko, and the first half of Akabane's name – Kuroudo – means "keeper of imperial archives." Imperial in this case being Himiko, of course!)
#47 – Moon
One out of two wasn't bad, Himiko reflected, though she'd never expected it to happen this way, what with the both of them hip-deep in a fight, he drenched with blood and her reeking of various perfumes, both of them with clothes torn and skin bared and hair askew, and in the chaos of moonlit battle Akabane had impulsively grabbed her and pressed his hot mouth against hers for the barest of seconds; nonetheless, it was even more as exciting and passionate and tender than she'd imagined her first real kiss would be.
#48 – Waves
Occasionally, a client might invite them to stay at his lodgings when they were hired for a job; in one of these instances this was how Himiko and Akabane found out that neither of them much liked waterbeds after the alarm clock signaled its morning shrillness and Akabane, head still buried beneath the covers, had reached out with a scalpel to silence it…
#49 – Hair
Himiko envied Akabane his glorious mane of hair almost as much as she did his shapely figure; the good news was that he permitted her free reign to play with either as she desired.
#50 – Supernova
It's been years since she took up the gloves of a sorceress, and Himiko has always known, as her half-blood brother Ban warned her, just as the hunters came for him, so too would they seek her out to finish what they began all those centuries ago in Europe – even as the fire set by their enemies rages all about them, Akabane plunges into the blazing glare with his sword burning true, and watching his intended sacrifice Himiko realizes then what she's felt all along; she cannot, will not let him go – a witch without her familiar is like the sun without its moon, and she wages war with as little mercy as her counterpart because this time, she's fighting not just for her soul but his as well, and when at last it is done, amidst the smoke and the ruins and their bloodied, soot-covered, torn forms embracing – the queen asks her knight for his hand everlasting, and he smiles truth for perhaps the first time ever in his life as he accepts, and together, they pledge their blood oaths to one another for eternity.