Title: Hack and Slash

Author: Amethyst Hunter

Rating: PG (language)

Word count: 920

Warnings/Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: The GBers aren't mine.

Notes: Inspired by my recent weekend brush with a computer virus/spyware. Let this be a lesson to y'all, folks: BACK UP YOUR DATA!!

Summary: Poor Akabane needs to defrag and destress when his computer gets hacked.

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It would have been just another ordinary day in the lives of transporters and retrievers, except that this day the two sides were united due to the specifics of a joint mission. As a result, everyone was gathered – crammed, actually - in the crowded hotel room they were sharing, waiting for the call that would announce the beginning of their duties. Cheap clients were a royal pain in the gluteous maximus.

Each had, however, in his or her own way found a method of entertainment to pass the time. Ginji was watching cartoons on the television. Ban and Himiko were playing cards; Himiko was winning, a fact made patently obvious by Ban's loudly repeated swearing. Gouzou Maguruma was stretched out on one of the beds, reading a Stephen Hawking book on the theories of particle physics. As for Akabane, he was content to wander the wilderness of the internet on his laptop, searching for homespun remedies that dealt with the perfect removal of protein-based stains from fabrics.

Or he was content, until -

"What the hell's that noise?" Ban lifted his gaze from his dwindling handful of cards, scowling as the sound increased in volume. "Someone slam the door on the tail of a cat in heat?"

It took them a second or two before they realized that the thin, high-pitched and piercing squeal was coming from Akabane. He was sitting at the desk, back stiff as a board, and if his hair had stood on end nobody would have been surprised. He was staring at the flashing alert message that had frozen his laptop into a very expensive paperweight.

"This. Is. Not. Good," Ginji whimpered from beneath the safety of a nearby bed, having taken cover at the first broadcasted Jackal alarm. He knew just enough about computers to understand that whatever had elicited wordless fury from Akabane meant big trouble and a fast-rising body count.

Maguruma laid aside his book and got up to see to his fellow transporter's emotional state. Carefully, so as not to garner any unwanted quills, he pulled a rigid Akabane away from the laptop and the desk and helped him to stand. "Easy, now. Take it easy," he said in low, soothing tones, petting Akabane's shoulders the way one might to calm an anxious pet. "Nice and easy. Good boy, you're doing fine..."

"He had the same look right before he J-ed those government dumbbutts that hired us for the IL," Ban muttered to no one in particular.

Akabane's blank gaze was locked on the laptop. His control might be admirable, but Himiko recognized the twitches of diamond rage in his tightly-clenched fingers. Indeed, she wasn't at all shocked to see eight deadly knives explode from his hands as Akabane hobbled towards the infected laptop and raised a slow, trembling fist.

"If you kill it, we can't fix it," Maguruma pointed out.

Akabane whirled, pinning him with an icy stare.

"Can it be fixed?" Himiko whispered to Maguruma.

"Sure. What's the name of that computer whiz kid you guys are always talking about?"

"Makubex," Ban managed to choke out, his eyes like everyone else's riveted on the murderous man in black.

"Yeah. All we have to do is drop the thing off at his place and he'll take care of it. I'm sure it's not a big deal," Maguruma said, the latter half of his comment directed at Akabane. "Computer trouble happens to everybody sooner or later."

Akabane's eyes took on daggers.

"Does anyone have Makubex's number?" Himiko said quickly, moving to the doctor's side and shoving an opened bottle of lavender-scented perfume under his nose.

"I do!" A phone shot out from underneath one of the beds – coincidentally, the same one where Ginji happened to be hiding.

"Coward," Ban grumbled as he scooped up the device and scrolled through the contacts book, displaying a yellow streak of his own when a white-gloved hand lightly tapped his shoulder and held out its palm in silent demand. Ban shoved the phone into Akabane's grasp and took several large steps backwards.

Everyone waited with held breaths as Akabane – who seemed to have regained his composure somewhat thanks to Himiko's relaxation scent – quietly described the problem to Makubex and waited for an answer. When he was satisfied that he would receive the results he desired, Akabane passed the phone back to Ban without another word.

"There goes our damned commission," Himiko groaned to a nodding Maguruma, both of them knowing only too well what kind of therapy their cohort would engage in to work off his frustration.

"Not necessarily." Ban winked at her and spoke into the phone. "Hey, computer brat. Any chance you could, say, track down the creator of this malware garbage while you're at it?"

He held the phone up to Akabane's ear so the doctor could hear the response. Body temperatures took an instant nosedive at the sight of a pair of purple eyes narrowing to razor slits and a fanged smile splitting apart Akabane's lips, as lethal promise purred from his throat.

"You know, despite what he does, I almost feel sorry for the poor bastard," Maguruma remarked. "Some of those codes are nasty buggers."

A tuft of blond poked its fuzzy strands out from the bedskirt. "Yeah, Akabane-san's taking this awfully well for a homicidal maniac," Ginji said.

Everyone stared at him. Maguruma snorted. "I wasn't talking about Jackal."

"One-hundred percent satisfaction rate, baby," Ban cackled. "We Get Backers do aim to please!"

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