Author: Amethyst Hunter
Fandom/pairing: Get Backers, Akabane/Ginji
Rating: PG-13 (implied m/m pairings, minor adult content including innuendo)
Warnings/Spoilers: Very mild hints as to canonical events.
Word count: 9153
Notes: Based on a prompt request for the springkink LJ community. Prompt: "first date - Akabane sets out to create a romantic atmosphere, while Ginji's busy freaking out and wondering how he got himself into this."
- God help me, I wrote…FUDOBANE. A little bit, anyway…
- Complete and total crackfic. Author is not responsible for any brain implosion that may result from reading it. XD
Disclaimer: GB isn't mine.
Summary: Ginji tries his hand at playing Cupid, but winds up with more than he bargained for.
"Check it out," Ban whispered to his partner as they sat gobbling a pizza at their favorite hangout. "Strapless dress. No bra. She's ripe for the plucking," he pronounced richly as they studied the buxom blonde seated at the counter.
Ginji shook his head. "Ban-chan, you're never going to get a date if you keep doing that to all the girls."
"Who said anything about dating? Ginji, we are young bucks in the prime of life. Our sexual peak is at its zenith. Either we use it or lose it. And I, little eel, am not about to waste another ounce of my unrelenting charismatic grade-a top of the line macho-spiced man-sauce." Ban smirked and got up. "Now. Watch me give Hevn her daily jolly."
He crept towards their negotiator, hands raised for his typical grab-and-run maneuver.
Hevn, however, was no dummy. Experience had taught her the best ways to dissuade would-be gropers from completing their objective, and as soon as she sensed mischief in the air she was ready. Without even looking around at him, she calmly reached into her purse and withdrew a small canister. She pointed the nozzle at Ban and shot off a burst of stinging liquid, which he barely managed to avoid taking in the face.
"There's plenty more where that came from," Hevn coolly informed him.
Ban paused, evidently weighing his chances of getting in at least one quick feel before the spray nailed him. He decided his odds weren't good, and reluctantly slunk back to his and Ginji's table, grumbling underneath his breath all the while about negotiators that lacked a sense of humor.
"Told you so," Ginji chirped at him when he sat down, and promptly received a knuckle sandwich in reply.
"At least I'm out there making an effort," Ban growled as he added another set of indentations to his friend's skull. "All you ever do is moon over bratty high schoolers and temperamental witches with perfume. Neither of which is likely to get you laid, pal."
"Not everybody thinks about sex as much as you do, Ban-chan," Ginji said, rubbing the sore spot on his head and sticking his tongue out.
"Oh yes they do. They just don't admit it," Ban said, smirk back in place. "You spend too much time trying to play matchmaker, and not enough time looking out for your own needs. Don't you ever get horny, Ginji?"
Suddenly food was the most interesting thing in the world, Ginji decided, as he ignored the fire-engine heat blazing up the sides of both his cheeks. "…well, yeah…sometimes…"
"So what do you do?"
Wishing Ban would just shut up and go ogle somebody else, Ginji stared at his plate. Had he eaten his food that quickly? Darn it. "…so…you know…!" he whined, halfheartedly making an attempt at a gesture both of them were more familiar with than either cared to be.
"So," Ban said, leaning forward and pushing his glasses higher up on the bridge of his nose, "there are times when a fast yank ain't gonna cut it. You need a partner if you wanna play the game, Ginji."
"I'm sort of waiting for somebody," Ginji mumbled, trying not to let Ban see the way his eyes were wandering automatically to the young woman humming behind the counter, clearing away dirty dishes.
Ban being Ban noticed anyway. He snorted. "Ginji, give it up. You have any idea how long it will take for Natsumi to graduate? By that time the 'ol lightning rod will have dried up and fallen off from disuse!" A thought occurred to him, and he shot the other retriever a look. "Hey, you got laid all the time when you were still leading the Volts…didn't you?"
Ginji wished he could sink into the floor beyond all sight. "Not that often," he muttered, the static electricity his embarrassment was generating causing his hair to perk slightly on ends.
Ban raised a brow. "For real?"
"I was always defending Lower Town against the Beltline, Ban-chan. When would I ever have time for – for that?" Ginji groused.
Ban let out a low whistle. "Damn. Ah well, the bad boy image doesn't suit you anyway." He shrugged. "You're more the boy-next-door type, which you ought to be eternally thankful for. Girls love that kind of cutesy crap. Just forget about the happily-ever-after shit, and you'll do fine."
"I kinda like fixing people up, Ban-chan."
"Get real. If you're such an expert on love, how come my dating pool has decreased significantly ever since we hooked up together?"
Ginji made a face. "I can too matchmake for other people. I helped get Kaito and Miss Hera back together. And if I hadn't been involved in the Stradivarius mission, Shido and Madoka-chan never would have met and fallen in love."
"That's the most terrifying thing I've ever heard in my whole life, bar none."
"What? That I'm good at setting people up together?"
"No. That the monkey-trainer found somebody he'd care to procreate with. That's the scariest thought that wakes me up at night, Ginji. The likelihood that someday there will be little monkey-trainers running around." Ban shuddered.
Ginji punched him in the arm. "They make a perfect couple and you know it, Ban-chan. I can get anybody paired up. I bet I could matchmake you too, if you'd stop squeezing girls' boobs long enough to listen to me – "
"And what's wrong with squeezing boobs?" Ban demanded.
Ginji's face colored again. "Nothing," he admitted, somewhat guiltily remembering the time he'd discovered one of the Mirokus to have a pair of rather pleasant surprises. "It's just…well, I've noticed that girls don't seem to like it very much when you grab their boobs without permission. Sometimes even if you are allowed to grab them, they still don't like it."
"Tch," Ban snorted. "Formalities. I'm not out to breed another dynasty of witches, Ginji. I just wanna knock some rocks off, you know? Why make it any more complicated than it has to be?"
"That's cold, Ban-chan."
"Besides, you nag me enough for two wives, so what do I want with another?" Ban said with wry affection as he elbowed Ginji's side.
The sound of the door to the Honky Tonk opening preempted any statement from Ginji, but even if he had thought of something to say he probably wouldn't have been able to spit it out – he was too busy turning bedsheet-white and sputtering with terror upon seeing what kind of patron had entered the shop.
Doctor Jackal must be on furlough again.
"Cut it out, you dork," Ban hissed to the quivering lump of mass next to him. "It just turns him on even more when he sees how freaked out you are. Besides, it doesn't look like he's here on business anyway, so as long as you don't go picking any fights he's not liable to start any himself."
This was of course scant comfort to Ginji, who remained huddling miserably beside Ban.
For the moment Akabane didn't appear to have noticed them. He was engrossed in mild chatter with Paul, as he requested a cup of coffee and a newspaper. After paying for those items he settled in a corner booth, apparently uninterested in anything other than his drink. Still Ginji continued to eyeball him nervously, waiting with bated breath to see when the other shoe would drop and the good doctor would approach him or Ban with scalpels hinting at renewed bloodlust.
Ban saw this, and it irritated him further. "There's someone else who needs to get laid," he muttered, more to himself than to Ginji. "Bet if Jackal spent a few rounds in bed with someone crazy enough to screw his pale ass he'd back off the knifeplay for a while…"
Oho! Inspiration lit up the inside of Ginji's mind like one of his proverbial lightning bolts. "Ban-chan! You're amazing!"
"Was there ever any doubt?"
"No, Ban-chan! I think - I know how we can make Akabane-san stop killing!"
"Yeah, do it to him," Ban replied without missing a beat.
"Noooo!" Ginji groaned. "I was just thinking, Akabane-san is always by himself all the time. Maybe if he had someone to be with, he wouldn't be so cold and creepy and might behave more like normal people."
Ban had to freeze himself in the act of lifting his cup to his mouth, lest he choke on the huge gulp of liquid he was planning on taking. "I really should stop beating you up," he said at length. "You're starting to show signs of brain damage from my pounding your dumb head into the pavement one too many times."
"I'm serious, Ban-chan."
"So am I."
"I told you. I can match up anybody. Anybody, Ban-chan…"
"Including a homicidal transporter who gets his kicks from practicing his penmanship on other people's flesh?"
Ginji faltered for a second, only now realizing the scope of the potential mission he had inadvertently proposed. "Um…well…I was kind of assuming that we'd be in this together, Ban-chan. Because, um, we're the Get Backers? You know? Partners in every job, looking out for each other?"
Ban chortled with evil glee. "Oh no, my electrically-inclined friend. You're supposed to be the Warrior of Love. You brought it up, you deal with it. I'm not touching this one with a hundred-foot pole."
Feeling an all-too familiar sinking sense of doom at the thought of confrontation with the deadly Jackal, Ginji grasped at straws to convince his partner to stick with him. "Ban-chan, Akabane-san might pay us really well if we can make him happy. I heard Himiko-chan say once that he's got a lot of money saved up somewhere…"
"And what happens when we can't make him happy?" Ban leveled a glare at pleading brown eyes. "Forget it. I already learned my alphabet as a kid. I don't need a refresher course."
Ginji melted into a puddle of goo in abject defeat. When would he ever learn to keep his big fat mouth shut?
As if in agreement with Ban, Fate decided to make life even more miserable by immediately presenting him with the aforementioned situation, when Akabane looked up from his paper and spotted the two retrievers in the back of the shop. A pleased smile blossomed on his face and he rose from his seat to go and greet them properly.
"Hello Ginji-kun, Midou-kun. How are you today?"
Ban made some grunted reply. Ginji blinked at him with tearful eyes and whimpered, "F-f-fine, Akabane-san."
Akabane's eyes twinkled with his typical merriment at such chance encounters. "That's good to hear. I hope the retrieval service has been treating you well. I must say it's been a rather long time since last we've been able to meet. I do so enjoy seeing you two, regardless of what capacity either of us happens to be acting in," the slender man purred.
Ginji was silent, aside from a few blubbering noises of dismay.
Ban poked him in the ribs. "Okay, Casanova, you wanted it, you got it. Fix this weirdo up with some other weirdo so we can get us some damn money," he hissed in Ginji's ear as they stared at Doctor Jackal.
Resigning himself to a most unpleasant duty, Ginji swallowed his misery and steeled himself to ask Akabane a question that would likely earn him a bloody rebuke from the annoyed transporter. "Um, Akabane-san…I was wondering…"
Akabane's smile widened just a bit. "Yes, Ginji-kun?"
"Are you…I mean, do you…um…that is…could you…do you have…plans…for tonight?"
Purple eyes grew large with a hungry anticipation. "Why, Ginji-kun…are you asking me out on a date?" Akabane murmured.
In his seat, Ban bit back a snicker. Next to him, Ginji just barely repressed a groan of horror. Not the way he'd intended to present his proposition!
"Well – I – uh – that is – uh – "
"I would love to go out with you, Ginji-kun," Akabane sighed with undisguised delight. "How fortunate it is that I happen to have a free schedule! Hmm?" He clapped his hands together. "I'm so glad I decided to come to the city today, even though I don't normally venture into this part of town."
Lucky me, thought Ginji, shrinking in his seat.
"So, then." Akabane adjusted his hat and beamed at him. "What shall we do on our date, Ginji-kun?"
Not fight? Ginji was going to say, but all that came out was a strangled "…nuuhhgghhh…"
"I know," Akabane said. "Perhaps you might enjoy a movie. Or we could go out to dinner – no, wait. I'll make dinner," the transporter cooed. "How about that, Ginji-kun? A pleasant evening spent on the town, culminating in a cozy candlelit dinner at my place. It's perfect, no?"
Ginji managed a sickly half-smile.
Akabane was all smiles. "Well. Shall I return in several hours and pick you up here, Ginji-kun? Of course, you're welcome to accompany me to the market for some grocery shopping, if you'd like. I wouldn't mind at all," he added with a flirtatious lowering of his gaze.
But I would. Ginji started, his heart seizing in mid-beat when he'd thought he'd spoken those words aloud. Then his heartbeat resumed its normal trepidation around the transporter once he realized that his brain-to-mouth filter was working properly for a change. Ginji scrambled to think of an excuse to buy some time. "Umm, that's nice of you, Akabane-san, but I probably should – should spend some time getting ready, and, you know, stuff…"
At least he didn't look upset. "Of course," Akabane said, still smiling.
Ban chose that moment to give Ginji a rough shove. "Aw, come on, Ginji, go to market with him! If he's gonna cook for you, might as well take advantage of it and pick out the best things, right?" He grinned ruthlessly in the face of Ginji's blistering glare. "Think of it as a getting-to-know-you phase before the big date."
Ginji's look could have peeled every inch of wallpaper from the Honky Tonk's walls.
"Midou-kun has a point," Akabane chuckled. "Wouldn't it be nice to learn some new things about each other? After all, I'm afraid I'm not quite sure what you'd like to eat, Ginji-kun, and I do want to make a wonderful meal for you to enjoy."
It looked like defeat was inevitable. Ginji hung his head, resigning himself to a day with Doctor Jackal. "…okay. You go on ahead, Akabane-san. I just – just gotta use the bathroom a sec," he mumbled.
"As you wish," Akabane said, stepping back to allow him room to exit the booth. He granted Ban a smile and a tip of the hat. "Good day, Midou-kun. It was lovely chatting with you. I hope to see you again soon."
"I don't know if I'll be able to contain my excitement."
They watched the transporter sashay outside, coat flowing with the twitches of his hips. "You can't tell me that anybody who walks like that isn't playing both sides of the fence," Ban snorted to Ginji.
Ginji was in no mood to ponder the good doctor's sexual proclivities. He flexed his fist and pointed at Ban. "If I survive tonight, it's the electric twister for you!"
Ban cackled. "Sticks and stones, baby." He nodded at the door. "Better not keep your boyfriend waiting. You know how he hates being bored!"
"No fighting in the shop!" Paul bellowed, just as Ginji sprayed Ban with a web of bolts.
At least, Ginji thought later, as they walked the streets to market, the prospect of a fight was diminished somewhat. The main rule to keep in mind was never to challenge Akabane on anything whatsoever. The transporter might misinterpret the slightest disagreement according to his own whimsical motives, and Ginji could wind up on the business end of a scalpel. So he made sure to defer to the good doctor every time Akabane posed a question to him.
"I know you like pizza quite a bit, Ginji-kun. I could put together a homemade one," the man was saying now. "The interesting thing about pizza is that one can put so many different kinds of toppings on it. I don't usually eat it myself, but when I do, I often enjoy anchovies on mine. Perhaps we could try that." He looked at Ginji with a raised brow.
Ginji plastered a smile on his face. He hated anchovies – a fact which Ban, who loved them, got a kick out of tormenting him with. But if Akabane liked them too, well, he had no choice. "Whatever you'd like, Akabane-san," he answered meekly.
The market was busy as usual, vendors hawking everything from foods to finery. Ginji found himself momentarily distracted by all the sights and sounds, and he barely noticed when Akabane picked up a basket and gently towed him into the fray. Crowds were never a problem – somehow the throngs of people parted to permit passage as soon as they caught sight of that big black hat.
Ginji longed to try the free samples being offered at several booths, but he didn't dare linger for fear of losing Doctor Jackal. Not that he would have minded giving Akabane the slip, but for all he knew the man would pitch a temper tantrum, complete with a Bloody Sword, at having to search for his 'date.' Since that was exactly the kind of disaster Ginji hoped to avoid, he made sure to stick close to that black trenchcoat.
"Hmm, what's this?" Akabane paused before a booth and Ginji cautiously peered over his shoulder to see what it was that had caught his interest. Instead of food, the scent of some type of lotion wafted forth from the opened bottle that the vendor proffered.
"Guaranteed to enhance your torrid nights of passion!" the woman told Akabane.
"Is that so," murmured the transporter with slightly raised brow. He accepted the bottle to have a closer look, and as he turned it over in his fingers Ginji paled. On the label below the brightly-lettered brand name was the description of the contents: PERSONAL LUBRICANT.
Ginji was naïve, but not stupid. He knew what personal lubricant was for – Ban and a handful of girlie magazines had made certain of that.
Okay. Get a grip. Don't freak out. It's just lubricant.
LUBRICANT IS NOT A PIZZA TOPPING!
Calm down. Deep breaths. There could be a perfectly logical reason why Doctor Jackal might be interested in the stuff. After all, he was an actual doctor, or so rumor had it…right? Doctors did use things like lubricant when they were doing doctory stuff…right?
"Hmm," Akabane mused aloud, looking over the bottle in his hand versus the larger size on the vendor's table. "I do believe in being prepared…what do you think, Ginji-kun?" he asked, turning to his terrified companion.
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO – "…eep?"
"You're right. The larger one is more economical," Akabane said, and turned back to the proprietress. "I'll take two, please."
The vendor wrapped up his purchases while he paid her, and thus laden with his basketful Akabane escorted Ginji along. "Thank you, Ginji-kun," the dark man told him sweetly.
"F-For what?" Ginji stammered, not liking the way that Akabane's free hand was patting the wrapped lotions. Please let it just be for his knives, please let it just be for his knives…!
"For helping me to make my decision. I find it useful sometimes to consult with others," Akabane said. He leaned closer suddenly, playful spark alight in his eyes, and murmured, "I think that lady back there at the booth must have thought we were lovers. She seemed rather eager to make that sale, did you notice?"
Ginji turned beet red and squealed. "But we're not – not lovers!" Too late he remembered his vow not to do or say anything that might anger the other man, and he shrank back in expectation of a volley of incensed scalpels.
Fortunately, such did not appear imminent. "Not yet, anyway," Akabane chuckled.
That caught Ginji's attention, and he recalled Ban's earlier words. "You mean…you, uh…like guys too?" Not that he really wanted to know, of course.
A decidedly smug tilt appeared at the edges of Akabane's smile. "I like you, don't I?" was the purred reply.
"But we couldn't – couldn't possibly – I mean – I'm not your type, Akabane-san, and – and – and this is just a first date and all - !"
"You never know," the Jackal replied with a mischievous twinkle in his eye. "I already think of you as someone very special to me, Ginji-kun…I'm certainly open to taking our relationship to a new level of intimacy…"
"…couldn't we just be pen-pals or something…?!"
Akabane gave him a coy glance. "There's no need to be shy, Ginji-kun. We're both consenting adults."
Ginji's panicking brain struggled to come up with a rebuttal that wouldn't get him killed on the spot. "…hey, there's a carnival! Maybe they have cotton candy!" Before rational sense could argue that this probably wasn't the best thing to do when one was accompanied in close quarters by a homicide-happy transporter, he took off running down the street.
"Mustgofastermustgofastermustgofaster - !" Ginji took the people and booths in his path by leaps and bounds, ducking-dodging-weaving in and out, up and down, until he was fairly certain his 'date' was well out of knife-throwing range. He sagged against one tent and wiped his brow.
"Heavy crowds can be a bit warm, can't they, Ginji-kun? Don't worry, I have just the thing."
Ginji goggled at the miniature hand wipe being offered to him from a white-gloved hand. How did the man do that?!
Akabane beamed. "Feeling well, I hope? I would hate for our date to end so soon." When Ginji made no move to accept the proffered packet he slipped it back into his pocket and helped the retriever to stand. "I know you're excited to see the sights, Ginji-kun, but you really mustn't run off like that," Akabane told him affectionately, putting an arm around Ginji's shoulders and pulling him a little closer than polite contact might dictate. "This is a large area, and there are many people here." He gently tapped the pad of his index finger against the tip of Ginji's nose. "Something bad might happen to you if you get lost. You wouldn't want that, would you?"
"Noooooooooooooo," Ginji whined, tears streaming down his face.
Akabane patted his cheek. "Stay close to me, then, please." He picked up the basket of goods he'd been carrying and escorted Ginji out into the throngs of fairgoers. "I couldn't help but notice that the amusement attractions must have caught your attention, hmm? Perhaps you would like to go on one?" Without waiting for an answer, he steered Ginji towards a large Ferris wheel, where he bought two tickets at the booth and they were promptly boarded.
Ginji momentarily forgot his fear when the ride began moving. Park rides were a luxury that he and Ban seldom could afford, and Ban always liked to go on the ones that made Ginji sick. Ferris wheels were kinder fare, and he squealed with delight every time the revolutions took their compartment to the top.
"Wow, you can really see the whole city from up here, huh, Akabane-san?"
"I suppose you might find it an interesting view," Akabane agreed. Before he could say anything more, however, the wheel suddenly shuddered to a stop in mid-cycle, signaling a period of momentary stillness while the machinery prepared to launch into a reverse turn.
Ginji idly rocked the compartment back and forth. As luck would have it, theirs was on the very top when the wheel had stopped. "This is so cool! Ban-chan won't go on this ride, 'cause he says it could stop and leave us stuck forever, but I told him I can just zap it into moving again."
"Is that so," Akabane murmured. "Ginji-kun, do you know what else is fun to do on a Ferris wheel?"
"Uh…enjoy the nice view?"
Akabane gave a little chuckle. "It's romantic tradition on a date," he said, closing his eyes and leaning into Ginji's side.
"Akabane-san…what's wrong with your li – hooohhhh crap," Ginji finished on a whimper when he realized what the man wanted. He looked around frantically. The engineer was focused on the controls of the wheel, and the other riders didn't seem to notice them. He was trapped like a rat in Paul's diner, and Akabane was waiting..!
Ginji hastily considered his options:
a) Shoot Akabane-san with a bolt, which leads to b) a fight and most likely c) getting killed. No good.
b) Jump off the Ferris wheel and land with a meaty splat on the ground below, most likely breaking bones and incurring an expensive hospital bill which will almost certainly lead to c) the wrath of Ban-chan. Cross that off.
c) Kiss Akabane-san and hope he doesn't complain about how short it is. Risk of death: lower as compared with options A and B.
d) Does it HAVE to be on the mouth?!
Ginji took a deep breath and braced himself. One…two – He quickly leaned forward and brushed his mouth over the skin of Akabane's cheek, immediately thereafter backing up against the side of the ride's compartment as far as space would permit.
Akabane's eyes opened and he touched his fingers to his face, looking up with a little smile that was indistinguishable from either aww, how adorable! or that's IT?! How boring! He started to reach for Ginji –
Danger, sharp stabbing things about to touch my hand here..!
- and the wheel lurched into motion again. Ginji offered a forced grin, as if to say whee, isn't this entertaining so please don't kill me? Akabane adjusted his hat and frowned when a gurgle from his prospective romance's side preempted any further conversation.
"We should return to the market stands and finish our shopping after this, Ginji-kun. After all, I want to have plenty of time to prepare our pizza dinner, hmm?"
"You still want to cook for me, Akabane-san? You don't have to, you know – I mean, I'd hate to be any trouble to you - "
Purple eyes caressed him longingly. "Oh, but I really want to do this for you, Ginji-kun. It's been so long since I've had any worthwhile visitors to enjoy." Akabane's smile was almost feral now. "But, if you aren't that hungry, we could always just have fun testing each other's battle skills – "
The ride wound to a close. Ginji leaned back in his seat and let his breath come whooshing out. Fighting to the end with Doctor Jackal or dinner at Akabane's place. Did he really have a choice?
"Pizza will be just fine, Akabane-san!"
Home for Akabane, or what he called home when he came to the city on business, was an apartment in a nondescript section of town. Ginji was somewhat heartened to notice that there was a police station right across from the building; in the event the date turned deadly he had a place to run to for help.
He ruthlessly silenced the giggly little voice in the back of his head that warned bullets weren't much use against a transporter whose speed rivaled their flight.
"Your place is really nice, Akabane-san."
"Thank you," Akabane replied as he hung up his coat and hat. "Please don't forget to leave your shoes by the front door there." He set about removing his own boots. "Do make yourself comfortable, Ginji-kun. May I get you something to drink?"
"I'm fine, thanks."
"Very well." Akabane picked up the bag of groceries and smiled. "I'll be in the kitchen if you need me."
While he started work on the pizza Ginji prowled the apartment, letting curiosity get the better of him. He was careful to restrict his investigations to visual inspection only, not daring to poke into drawers or closets. For all he knew Akabane kept the spare corpses in there along with the mop and cleaning supplies.
His interest was piqued when he approached the table unit that held Akabane's television and media. Ginji plunked himself down and began flipping through the DVD titles, rejecting them in short order. "Masque of the Red Death…Death Takes a Holiday…A Kiss Before Dying – yeesh. Doesn't he have anything with live people in it?" Ginji grumbled.
He pulled forth a case that looked somewhat interesting. "Arsenic and Old Lace," Ginji read aloud. "What's arsenic?" He shrugged, deciding it didn't matter. What was important was the fact that the cover's summary contained no references to death, blood or the likes thereof.
He was about to pop open the case and start up the movie when Akabane entered the living room. He spotted Ginji and smiled. "Oh, you'll like that movie, Ginji-kun. It's my favorite."
"It is?" Ginji looked from the DVD in his hand to Akabane. "Is it good?"
"Oh yes, it's very amusing."
"Great, a comedy. What's it about?"
"Two charming little old ladies that invite guests into their home for dinner." Akabane paused, and his smile seemed to broaden. "Then they kill them."
He'd already turned his back by then, so he didn't get to watch the DVD landing with a quiet plop on the carpeted floor. Ginji carefully picked it up by its corner and set it back on the shelf, slowly pushing it into place with a fingertip. He took several big steps away from the television unit and stared at the spot where his host had just been.
"I'm gonna die. Ban-chaaaaaan. Where are you when I need you?!"
Then he remembered. It was his partner who had abandoned him to the far-from-tender mercies of the terrible transporter, knowing full well that Ginji would have to suffer his presence out of sheer manners alone.
"…I hate you so bad right now, Ban-chan..!"
A not-so-subtle mental nudge told him it might not be a good idea to leave Akabane alone and unsupervised with the food that Ginji was supposed to eat. Horrified by the thought, his feet propelled him towards the kitchen before his terrified half could argue the wisdom of willingly putting oneself in close proximity, alone and unsupervised, with Doctor Jackal.
He found the man industriously slicing up toppings to garnish the pizza with, dressed in a bright red apron with Kiss The Cook on the front of it, humming a catchy little tune. "Um, Akabane-san? Is there…anything I can…h-h-help you with?"
Akabane looked up, a pleased smile blossoming. "I appreciate your offer, Ginji-kun, but it's not necessary. As you can see, it's almost ready to be put into the oven." He gestured at the pizza, which did look promising. He'd even added extra cheese the way that Ginji liked. He brushed off the excess bits dusting the large, lacy frills on his apron and reached for another tomato.
"Um, Akabane-san…I was wondering…"
"Well, I was just curious…" Ginji made a sawing motion with his fingers. "You know…" he mumbled.
"Why aren't I using my scalpels instead of a kitchen knife?" He lightly tapped the flat tip of the blade against his fingers. "One ought to use only the proper equipment for a job. Different knives are designed for different functions."
"However, exceptions can be made in the name of convenience." Akabane smirked as four glowing blades snicked into visibility. "I must admit, it is much easier to make perfect cuts with these…"
The pizza, once baked, turned out to be very good. Akabane had set their places at the table – Ginji was relieved to see that his dish was laid opposite Akabane's so they weren't sitting right next to each other – and now the wine was being poured. Ginji sniffed at it.
"Merlot," Akabane offered. "This one goes well with pizza, or so I was told when I purchased it. Do you like wine, Ginji-kun? It's an acquired taste, so I recommend taking small sips first until you get used to it."
"Not bad. Ban-chan would probably like it. He knows about wines and stuff."
Akabane's brows squiggled together slightly and Ginji made a mental note: don't make a jealous transporter upset by mentioning other people. He slapped a smile onto his unwilling facial muscles. "Everything's really good, Akabane-san. This is delicious," he added, cramming several slices at once into his mouth to prove the truth of his words.
Akabane's good cheer was instantly restored. "I'm glad you're enjoying it, Ginji-kun. It's been a while since I've had such pleasant company. Perhaps after dinner, we could play some games for fun? I could teach you how to play poker…"
"Already know that one," Ginji said around a mouthful of pizza crust. "Ba – lots of people say I cheat, but I don't. Just 'cause I win every time doesn't mean that – that – " When the next tickle registered he sat up straighter in his chair, eyes wide. What the heck was Akabane-san's foot doing between his legs?! "Uhhh…"
"Do go on," Akabane said with a large smile. "I believe we were discussing your card game."
"Well…ahh…" Ginji struggled to think, no easy task while the bulk of his attention was focused on safeguarding his crotch from an insistent set of toes. "It's just – easy – for me, because I guess I have a natural – natural talent – for pressing – pressing my luck, and even though I don't get a lot of the – rules – the game's not – not – not hard – for me, because for me, it's all about having – having fun."
Akabane chuckled. "I quite agree, Ginji-kun. Games can be very stimulating when played with a proper partner." He rose from the table. "I think we ought to test your acumen. I've yet to meet someone who can play poker as well as you say you do."
"But what'll we use for stakes?" Ginji asked, trying to discreetly tug his shorts back into place from where the wandering foot had pushed them up. "I don't have any money."
"We don't need money," Akabane said as he came around the side of the table to stand next to him. "We'll use something else."
Ginji snapped his fingers. "Scalpels!" he said, pleased with himself for having thought of that. Already he was forming his strategy. They'd play a few rounds, Ginji would give him a run for his money while at the same time divesting his opponent of Many Dangerous Anti-Ginji Weapons, and then he'd purposely lose so as not to annoy Akabane. It was a perfect plan.
"I'm afraid that wouldn't work so well," Akabane said with an apologetic little smile. "If I empty out that many at once, we might have an unfortunate accident in these closed quarters. And I don't have enough bandages in my first-aid kit to cover an emergency that dire." He shook his head. "Why don't we play for each other's clothes? That way we can get more comfortable and have fun at the same time."
"But – but – but – " I'm dead! "That's not fair! You're wearing more clothes than me!" Ginji pointed out.
"Well, then, we'll just have to remedy that, won't we?" Akabane winked at him. "I'll be right back."
Ginji counted off the seconds before he could safely flee to the nearest small enclosure and whip out his cell phone. Even with the lighted display screen, it was difficult for him to see clearly enough to hit the numbers in his anxious state, and after several tries he managed to get through. Unfortunately the dispatcher was less than helpful, apparently unable to grasp the severity of Ginji's crisis.
"No, no, you don't understand! I want to report a hostage situation – yes, I'm at the scene now. No, nobody's dead yet. We just finished having dinner! What? No, I'm not his accomplice! I'm Ginji! Look, can you please send somebody to come save me? What am I in danger from?! I'm trapped in this nice apartment with this crazy guy who cooked me a delicious pizza and wants to play strip poker with me because he thinks we're on a romantic date! I'm serious! This is an emergency! Akabane-san is very dangerous! He wants to do bad wicked perverted things to my body! Quit laughing! Why you – I oughta - !"
Snarling, Ginji crushed the phone in a fireworks show of electrical current and stomped on the ruins. Some people had no sense of priorities whatsoever! How hard was it to understand the mortal peril of being locked inside the same building – the same room – as a scalpel-happy and amorous transporter who didn't take rejection well?
His troubles were far from over. "Oh, Ginji-kuuuun," came that deadly croon. "I'm ready for our playtime."
Ban-chaaaaaaaaan! I'm about to go under the knife that I don't even want! Then it hit him. Akabane wouldn't be interested in a weak or sick opponent, right? And Ginji was already halfway to the nausea point anyway from utter fright, so faking a full-out illness shouldn't be terribly hard. He put on his best suffering look and crawled out of the closet he'd taken refuge in…
…only to find Akabane silhouetted in the hall, wearing only a plain silk robe with outlines that made clear he had nothing on beneath it. He'd even taken off his gloves.
The transporter smiled. "Will this give you more of an advantage, Ginji-kun?"
Don't go there, brain, don't go theredon'tgotherenonononononoAUGH – "Ak-Aka-bane-san, I'm not feeling good," Ginji moaned, all the more convincingly because it was the truth.
Akabane came closer. "You should chew your food at least twenty-four times before you swallow, Ginji-kun. It's not healthy to eat so fast. But don't worry, I know how I can make you feel better."
"It's okay!" Ginji tried to wave him off. "I'll just go back to the Honky Tonk and lie down and have some chicken noodle soup for a few days! Maybe weeks, you never know how these cold germs travel, right?!"
Akabane kept coming nearer to him, Ginji kept backing up, until the wall put a halt to their proceedings. "I don't think you should be roaming the streets of Shinjuku in your condition, Ginji-kun," Akabane purred. "I think you should spend the night with me, if you aren't feeling well. You can sleep in my bed. I promise I won't keep all the covers – "
ESCAPE! ESCAPE! FLEE! RUN! HEEEEEEEEEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLP!! "I have this weird illness, see, it only gets better if I go running in fresh night air! Like right now, actually – mmppphhh!"
Akabane raised his head and smiled seductively. "You're fortunate, Ginji-kun. I don't usually kiss on the first date. But you're unique." He pressed his body against a quivering Ginji's, running his palms over goose-pimpled skin. "Did you know that in some ancient cultures, the warriors would battle together in the nude? Doesn't that sound exciting, Ginji-kun? Imagine you and I, locked skin to skin in passionate combat together, tasting each other's sweat and blood as we struggle to see who'll come out on top…" Akabane blinked and caught the other man's drooping body in his arms. "Oh my, Ginji-kun. You do look awfully pale. Are you chilled? Poor dear, I can warm you up – "
"ENOUGH WITH THE FOREPLAY ALREADY!!" In any other circumstance Ginji never would have submitted to such an outburst, but Raitei was swelling within and Raitei felt it was way past time to put the kibosh on seduction. Ginji's nerves snapped like a brittle twig when Akabane tried to stroke his face and he couldn't stop himself from shoving the man away and rolling on like a river in flood. "You fed me and that's all I expected, and now you want to play games?! You're the most incredibly demented insane psychotic fiendish masochistic sadistic bloodthirsty battle-lust-crazed death-dealing maniac I've ever met in my whole entire life!"
Silence dropped upon the room like a hundred-ton boulder. Akabane and Ginji stared at each other. Neither moved.
A panting Ginji, in a stunning moment of clarity, realized the enormity of what he'd just said and nearly collapsed on the spot as his heart turned to pure ice. So much for staying alive.
"Ginji-kun." Akabane's voice was as soft as the whisper of one of his blades.
Ginji tried and failed to swallow the huge lump of clotted fear in his throat. There was nowhere to run. Nowhere to hide. No one to save him from his folly now. He was as doomed as doomed got, and it didn't get any more doomed than one very pissed off Doctor Jackal, doom-wielder extraordinaire of the scalpels of instant doom.
"Oh, Ginji-kun." Akabane's eyes, wide and blazing, turned upon him. He stepped in again, hand raised.
Ginji shut his eyes. He felt the doctor's breath hot upon his face as the words kissed his skin.
"That's the most romantic thing anyone's ever said to me."
"I – what?!" Ginji's lids peeled open just in time to see Akabane wrap his arms around him in a firm embrace. "Akabane-san - !"
"You understand so well, Ginji-kun." Akabane was smiling so brightly that he looked like he was on the verge of something resembling twisted joy. "You're right. Let us cast aside all these silly pretenses of civility. We both know what we want, hmm? Nothing would give me greater pleasure than the opportunity to oblige your desire."
"Huh? Akabane-san, I – hey, what are you doing with my shorts, I don't – woah." Ginji's eyes crossed at the first deft, damp caress of a tongue on his bare flesh. Could doctors perform an examination that way? Still in shock that he remained all in one piece and no bodily fluids were leaking – at least, not ones he wouldn't have enjoyed seeing exit – he stood tilted against the wall, mouth hanging open and eyes rolling back in his head. Wow. This felt amazing –
NO! BAD GINJI! BAD! AKABANE-SAN - SCARY DANGEROUS PAIN, NOT HAPPY FUN GOODNESS!!
"Ooooohhhhh…" Ginji twitched as little sparks of voltage began dancing off of his form. "Can you do that again, Akabane-san?"
A throaty chuckle affirmed the request, as well as sending its asker into spasms of ecstasy from the vibrations. Ginji's head jerked backwards and he groaned loudly, all thoughts warning of dire consequences swiftly overrun and smothered by new ones that whimpered their wholehearted approval of Doctor Jackal's oral talents. Traitorous body that he owned, it signaled to Ginji in no uncertain terms that this was definitely fun and should be encouraged, so he began thrusting, Akabane kept pace, and before long they'd established a steady rhythm working towards fulfillment.
One particular sensation made him rear back violently, moaning at full volume until he hit the wall. "Ow! – hey, what – yikes!" Ginji ducked out of the way in time to avoid the falling debris from the shelf above that his pounding had dislodged, hoping he hadn't broken anything important.
Akabane was not as lucky. Too engrossed in his current activity, he failed to see the potted fern zeroing in on his head. It struck him with a sound clomp and he released his objective, flopping out cold onto the floor like a clubbed fish.
Ginji gulped audibly. Crap, what had he done now?
"Um…are you okay?"
Ginji whined. "Akabane-san…I don't mean to be pushy or anything, but…could you please get up now and finish what you were doing?"
The man continued to lie in a dead spread-eagled unconsciousness. Obviously that wasn't happening. Ginji scowled. "Why do these things always happen to meeeee…" He scrambled for ideas. Akabane had been hit on the head, head injuries could be serious. He had to get him to a hospital – no, wait, first he had to tie up loose ends. He stumbled inside the bathroom, shorts still bunched at his ankles, and –
"GAH! What're you doing here!" Ginji yanked down his shirt over his groin and glared at the two brand-new bottles of lubricant bought earlier that day, sitting on the sink's countertop with their gaily-decorated labels looking accusingly at him. "It wasn't my fault!"
He turned his back on them and tried again to complete business. It wasn't working. "Grr. I can't do this with you watching me!" He snatched up the lubricants and threw them through the nearest convenient receptacle, ignoring the clatter they made outside as they toppled down from the apartment's window.
A few quick adjustments later and he was feeling vastly better, having unleashed a howl that had shaken the very building, or was that just his imagination - ? He flushed the toilet and paused.
No, the building WAS shaking..!
"Yow! Earthquake!" Ginji managed to do up his shorts in record time and flew out of the bathroom. He grabbed Akabane's limp body and tried to drag him to safety. "Ugh, for such a skinny guy, you're kinda heavy," he grunted. He hadn't thought that scalpels could be that solid. Did ceramic weigh as much as metal?
The door exploded inward. Ginji shrieked and dove for hiding as a great hulking behemoth of a red-faced man stormed into the room, his long curly blond ponytail and flapping coat dripping with the recent slickness of something wet poured over his head. One hand was jumping and flailing in some kind of seizure, and when the stranger ripped his glove off Ginji saw that it was a mechanical gimmick designed to resemble a human hand. He shuddered.
"WHO DARES DUMP THEIR GARBAGE ON ME?! WHERE'S MIDOU! I'LL KILL HIM AND DRINK HIS BLOOD!"
Ginji shriveled into a ball when that baleful lone eye landed on him. "He did it!" he squeaked, pointing at Akabane, who as luck would have it had begun to stir with a sleepy but perky-sounding "…blood, Ginji-kun? Where?" on his lips.
The giant one-eyed wonder bellowed and charged, three immense daggers shooting out from between the digits of his artificial limb. Ginji screamed and scooted out of the way, blazing a trail toward and out the shattered exit with the furies raging behind him and the clash of blades striking blades ringing much too loudly for his liking in his ears. The date was officially over.
He didn't slow down until he'd put several blocks' worth of distance between him and the disaster area. Even now he could still hear the roar of an active fight. In spite of all odds he'd somehow managed to survive a job where he'd spent the majority of his youthful energy being scared out of his wits numerous times, braving Doctor Jackal's cutting cuisine and Akabane's obsessively intimate invitations, enduring threats from jealous scalpels and treacherous taunts from personal lubricants, and to top it all off some cybernetic-adorned nutcase had decided to break into Akabane's apartment with the full intent of causing the very mayhem Ginji had wanted to avoid.
He'd totally failed the mission he'd invented, but he was otherwise unbroken. That had to count for something…didn't it? And at least Akabane was probably happy now that he'd been able to indulge his favorite pastime.
"Getting back romance? Hah! You can take that job and shove it straight where the good old Shinjuku sun never shines in Mugenjou!"
Morning dawned upon the Honky Tonk's inner sanctum with its sunny eagerness. Most of the patrons accepted this token in the good faith in which it was offered, but two people in particular remained indifferent to the bustle of the hour. Ban was well into his third cup of coffee, requiring a significant amount of caffeine to function in a semi-coherent manner before beginning his day, and Ginji was still irked by the catastrophe he'd been manipulated into. A Get Backer was supposed to finish the job, not get chased off from it..!
"Damn Paul, he always forgets my toasted bagels. Be right back," Ban grunted to his partner as he got up from their booth to go hassle the shopkeeper.
Ginji nodded and drifted off into his own world of half-awakened thoughts, until a large shadow blocked the window he'd been staring out of.
Akabane had come to pay a visit. He was not alone. An impossibly large man with an eyepatch followed him inside the café, where they made a beeline for the booth with the retriever.
Ginji almost wailed, almost bolted for shelter in the back storage room – but Natsumi was happily sweeping nearby, and he had no wish to scare her. He sat frozen to his seat as the two men came right up to the table. "Hey! We got something for you, punk!" the bigger man grinned devilishly.
"I'msosorryIdidn'tmeantoitwasanaccidentohGodpleasedon'tkillmeAkabane-sanandwhoeveryouaremister – " Ginji couldn't bear to watch as Akabane reached behind his back and brought out a very large, very red –
"Here you are, Ginji-kun. I hope you enjoy it!" Akabane set the package on the table and beamed at him. "I wanted to properly express my gratitude to you for having granted me such a lovely experience last night."
Ginji peered through his fingers at the box. It didn't have any sharp points sticking out of it, it wasn't making any suspicious noises and a delicious citrus scent wafted from the wrapping… "Eh?" He blinked up at the two. "But – your apartment was trashed – I accidentally busted your shelf and you got bonked on the head by a plant – "
Akabane waved his hand carelessly. "Pfft. What are a few tiny bumps on the road to enjoyment? You more than made up for it with the gift you gave me."
"Why of course! I got to spend a whole day with you, a rare treat in itself. There was that lovely dinner we shared, and then there were the sweet words you said to me afterward. And then you introduced me to your friend here." Akabane sighed with fond remembrance. "It was so wonderful. I wish you could have seen it. We spent the most exciting time together! We stayed up all night fighting until the sunrise. It was truly a magnificent time." He favored Ginji with a fresh smile. "I have you to thank for these memorable pleasures!"
"Well…" Ginji shrugged, not sure whether he should be thankful or worried that he'd had any success in his efforts after all. "I'm happy I could help, Akabane-san. That's what us Get Backers are here for."
"Let's go, Kuro-chan. I crave fresh-squeezed snake's blood for breakfast," growled the big blond. "I'll tear the ragged, dripping meat from his bones, then grind those into pulp and chew them for a snack!"
"Oh, Takuma-kun," Akabane giggled as they departed side by side, arms linked. "I love it when you talk bloody to me."
Ginji half-rose from his booth, watching them stroll out of the shop and down the sidewalk. He shook his head. The package beckoned, and he carefully poked at the wrapping before getting up enough courage to open it. Inside was a beautiful fruit basket.
"All right, food!" Ban whistled at the arrangement. "Where'd this come from?"
"Akabane-san," Ginji said with a swell of pride. "He said it was a thank-you for finding him a partner last night in the course of our date." He hadn't yet told Ban the whole epic, and figured that in light of a certain exchange between him and Jackal it was probably best to edit some of the more titillating details. "See, Ban-chan? I can match up anyone!"
His partner raised a brow. "Well, damn. I guess you can. Way to go, Ginji." He grinned and ruffled Ginji's hair. "I guess I'll let you stick around a little longer."
"Dibs on that orange. It'll go great with the bagel spread – " Ban made a face as he looked down at his plate. "Aw, for – Paul! Where's my blueberry jam?!"
"Sorry, Your Highness," came the droll reply from up front. "I ran out the other day and didn't have time to open a new jar. It's in the back. Give me a minute with this newspaper article…"
"Never mind, I'll get it," Ban sighed. "Back in a sec." He got up, taking the orange he'd claimed with him in search of his bagel topping.
Ginji wasted no time in digging into the rest of the basket. He'd laid waste to four bananas before Shido entered and took the booth across from him. "Hey, Ginji. What are you up to lately?"
"Ban-chan owes me," Ginji told him smugly. "He bet me that I couldn't be a successful matchmaker, and I just proved him wrong!"
"Good on you," Shido grinned, giving him a thumbs-up. "Make sure he pays up in full. As sore a loser he is, he'll try to weasel out of it." Something caught his attention outside, and he leaned over to peer out the window. "Holy smokes. Is that..?"
Ginji looked as well and saw that his fruitful benefactors were still within sight. "Yep. Akabane-san has a boyfriend now. That should keep him busy for a while so we can do our retrieval jobs without worrying about our opposition!"
Shido shook his head. "I can't believe it. Even if they do have a lot in common – insanity, bloodlust, freaky gloves – how did Dr. Jackal end up with Fudou, of all people?"
Ginji gave him a curious look. "Who's Fudou?"
Shido gestured in the direction of the murderous couple. "The big guy. Some freak I ran into at Mugenjou that time when we were all contracted to find the IL. Total psycho. All he wanted to do was scream about how much he wanted to kill the snake bastard." He snorted. "I told him that was my job, right before I kicked his ass and he busted up some of my ribs. Hell of a fighter, that monster. I'd hate to see him on a bad day, that's for sure." He clapped Ginji on the back, oblivious to the swiftly melting puddle of tare-distress. "Well, I'll see you around. Got a retrieval job of my own I need to take care of." He tossed some change on the counter and swiped one of the donuts off of a center counter display on his way out.
Ginji blubbered a tubercular farewell, his eyes still trained on the distant figures of Akabane and Fudou. He should have known. He remembered now, hearing the tales of the Spaz-Crazed Mechanical Pimp Prosthesis, as Ban had once dubbed it. He should have known. Why, oh why, hadn't he just run off before that spike-studded mass of bolts and cables punched through the door, instead of wasting precious time indulging his baser gratification? Why in the name of all that was sacred and pure and holy had he gone and blamed the potted plant disaster on Akabane? If Ginji hadn't scattered that lie like spilled rice grains he and Fudou might not have met and discovered their mutual interests, one of which included -
"Oi, Ginji! I'm back and we've got hot coffee on the way courtesy of Paul. Now, tell me all about how you hooked up our mutual physician-stalker with the love of his life!"
Ban-chan was going to kill him.