Title: Shadowboxing

Author: Amethyst Hunter

Fandom/pairing: Get Backers, Akabane/Kagami

Word count: 2499

Rating: PG (minor swearing/violence)

Warnings/Spoilers: Just itty-bitty teeny-tiny canon mentions.

Notes: Based on a prompt from the springkink LJ community. Prompt: "mirrors and reflections"/"there is no escape from my eyes here"

Disclaimer: GB isn't mine.

Summary: Kagami gets more than he bargained for when he takes on Akabane in a fight.

--

It was his own fault, he would later reflect when he had the time. He should have known better; should have remembered that the Jackal was at least as cunning as himself. He'd been so caught up in the thrill of the moment that he'd lost sight of his original intentions, and had dared much more than he normally did. Stalking serious prey required serious attention, and so Kyouji Kagami could not entirely blame the other man for taking his bait and using his own hook to land the Observer right where he wanted him.

All this, of course, was little comfort at present. And blood was hell to get out of white fabric.

Kagami carefully edged backwards, towards the hidden exit to the room, keeping his eye squarely on the advancing Akabane. Both men were smiling, but one's was more a front for bravery while the other's reeked of feral lust.

"I hope you aren't thinking of running away on me again." Akabane's voice was quite at odds with his violent persona: it was soft, gentle, soothing even, and couched in nothing less than complete politeness. One of Kagami's wishes was to see if the good doctor could ever be made to raise his voice in emotion. Assuming he even had such things as emotions, of course.

"I'm sorry to say that's exactly what's on my mind," Kagami replied, as cool and calm as his opponent. "My job is strictly to observe, not to engage, and I'm afraid I've done a bit of rule-bending in your case."

Jackal's chuckle rippled in coquettish amusement. "I am honoured. But what are rules for if not meant to be broken? Where is the fun in playing it safe all the time? Don't you find that boring after a while?"

Truthfully, Kagami would have agreed with Akabane on that one. Having to hold back could be more exhaustion than it felt like it was worth sometimes. But he had his priorities. "That depends on what one finds most stimulating." The panel, it had to be close – he didn't dare turn his head to look. "For you, it is the fight; for me, it is the view."

Akabane paused, clicking the knives in his hand together almost thoughtfully. "Mm. This is true," he conceded, and then his smile edged into a devious Cheshire that made the hair on the back of Kagami's neck stand up in an unpleasant way. "Let's do something about that right now, shall we?"

He lifted a hand to throw his knives; Kagami pulled out some glass to retaliate as he sprinted to evade the attack. Too late he realized that Jackal wasn't aiming at him – the scalpels were flying into the lights above. A cracking and tinkling of glass later, and the whole room winked out into total blackness.

Shit.

This was not good.

From somewhere – not the same place, he was certain – Kagami heard a low chuckle. "Much better," was the doctor's pronouncement. "You cannot see me. I cannot see you. Makes for a rather interesting match, don't you think?"

Kagami was silent. He wasn't about to give himself away by speaking. He didn't like the dark, though he sometimes served in it. Very few people were aware of this weakness, and he'd commanded those select never to mention it upon pain of death. He was a Child of the Light, born to reflect true power.

Akabane spoke again, from a different place. "I was most disappointed by your lack of enthusiasm during our last meeting, Kagami-kun. Most disappointed indeed."

Too bad, Kagami wanted to say. He held his breath, straining to pick up some sign of the other man's movement that would betray his whereabouts.

"This time – " damn it, he couldn't even hear the Jackal's footsteps, so stealthy was the doctor – "I will not permit that insolence to ruin what could be such a beautiful encounter. It's only polite to humor a guest who has come calling, no?"

Kagami refrained from pointing out that Akabane was hardly his guest, though he supposed to the other's curious mentality, it would seem so – he did, after all, reside in the topmost towers of Mugenjou and the transporter was only here because of a mission. Kagami had caught wind of his presence and had gone to investigate; a chance meeting resulted in the current game of cat-and-cat. The question was, which one would claim turf supremacy in the end?

Another low chuckle, this time disturbingly close. "Are you having a problem, Kagami-kun? Your mirrors aren't helping you very much, are they? You need light to cast your spells. I'm afraid you're in my element now. I know the darkness as my second skin. There is no escape from my eyes, not here."

Kagami ground his teeth in silence. He had indeed underestimated his prey. He needed to remove himself from this equation fast, before the good doctor did it for him with considerably more mess. He still had diamond dust, and for a split-second he debated whether to use it as a getaway strategy. The dust wouldn't stop Akabane but it would slow him down, which would give Kagami just enough time to locate the secret panel and escape through the concealed exit.

Carefully, quietly, he reached into his sleeve and grasped a handful of grains, letting them stream from his palm out into the air. The shards quickly multiplied and thickened, saturating the room in their deadly crystalline poison.

"Ahh, there you are," purred the Jackal.

Even as Akabane was moving so was Kagami, bolting for the exit that he remembered was secreted in the walls nearby. His hands smacked solid surface and he fumbled, trying to recall where exactly the switch was – in the darkness, it was impossible to tell up from down – and at last his fingers scratched over the correct sequence.

The door opened, but by then it was too late. Kagami froze as he felt the razor kiss of a scalpel nicking the side of his neck in warning.

"Why hello there," the sinister chuckle tickled his ear. "Fancy meeting you, Kagami-kun."

This wasn't right. The diamond dust should have at least sent Akabane into a fit of hacking and coughing. Even if the man was somehow able to negate its effects in short time, the dust should have bought Kagami the time he needed.

"It might interest you to know," Akabane murmured, "that my colleague Lady Poison has been ever so helpful in teaching me how to employ the breathing techniques she uses to avoid your sparkle dust."

Kagami held back a sigh. He should have known, truly. "How thoughtful of her," he managed to say without faltering.

"Yes, wasn't it?" Akabane agreed, the smile ripe in his tone. "No doubt you are wondering how I was able to track you so well, even in this gloom. It's quite simple, really."

"Do share," Kagami drawled. He wondered if he could surprise the doctor with a flash of glass in the face – then decided against it. The scalpel was too close for comfort, and another one was even now coming around to rest against the front of his throat. He'd never get the mirror formed before Jackal sliced his head clean off.

"With pleasure." Akabane slipped an arm around Kagami's waist and moved in closer, the heat of his breath caressing Kagami's cheek. "I can smell your blood, you see."

To prove it, one of the knives – the one that had stopped Kagami's flight – dragged its fang in a shallow hiss across the skin. Kagami had to fight the urge to flinch at the tiny burn, but when Akabane bent his head and slowly licked the thin streak of blood welling to the surface, he couldn't help himself.

"Funny, I hadn't figured you for one of those," he said, hoping it sounded more nonchalant than he felt.

Akabane sniffed. "Vampirism is a trite and incorrect explanation for my artistry. I do not require blood to survive. The pleasure I find in bloodletting comes from hard-won experience, the skill necessary for a successful hunt. Nothing compares to the throb of pressure, the scent of exhilaration in cold terror."

He put his lips to Kagami's ear, just above the cuff of his earring, and bit the flesh. "I need no mirrors or diamonds to guide my path. Mine is the instinct of true death – that which seeks out life."

This would, Kagami decided, be far more enjoyable if the threat of instant death wasn't present. For all his coldness, Akabane possessed a peculiar sensuality that, if tapped correctly, was liable to set both him and his victim aflame.

Then again, he thought with wry amusement, perhaps it wasn't so much anything on the doctor's part as it was his own emotions running riot with him. Fear was a double-edged aphrodisiac.

He wondered if Doctor Jackal could be made to feel fear. Now there was an interesting experiment. Assuming one lived long enough to see the results, of course.

Kagami always had had a secret passion for living dangerously.

"I should like to have a closer look at one of those blades of yours, if you wouldn't mind," he said smoothly. "I do admire fine craftsmanship, you see, and it would certainly be a comfort to know that I may be dispatched by a true professional."

Flattery could get one almost anywhere, and Akabane was no exception. With a pleased purr he acquiesced to the request. "You may examine it but do not touch the edge, Kagami-kun. It is very sharp," he warned, withdrawing the knife that had been at Kagami's throat – the other had vanished to whereabouts unknown when the man had cut him – and laying the flat side of it against the Observer's fingers...though he did not release it entirely.

Kagami had no doubt that Akabane could still deal a fatal wound, close as he was, even though he now no longer faced the threat of an impromptu tracheotomy. Surprise was everything here, so he remained in place, resting his hand carefully over a gloved one in order to touch the proffered scalpel. In the darkness, it was impossible to tell what exactly the thing looked like, though the blade glowed an electric blue that gave him just enough light for his purposes.

"A superb rendition indeed," Kagami remarked, as though he were critiquing a portrait. "Very elegant. Very efficient. You really form them from your own bloodstream?"

"Oh yes," Akabane replied, sounding delighted by Kagami's compliments. "Once an element is introduced into my blood, I may form as many weapons from it as I wish. That's how I was able to employ your own diamond dust against you, you see."

"Ahh," was Kagami's languid answer. "Yes, I admit, that was quite a surprise for me. I must wonder, however, what happens if you receive too much of that element at a time."

"Hmm." The frown in the other man's voice was subtle confusion. "I cannot say that I recall such a thing ever having happened to me before. I suppose it's one of the unknown variables that makes my existence unique, yes?"

"Quite likely," Kagami agreed. "Why don't we find out?"

Jackal stiffened, a low hiss streaming past the Observer's ear that swiftly turned into a grunt of pain when the piece of glass shard found its way into his thigh. He stabbed at his attacker and growled when the body dissolved into broken mirrors – irritation that suddenly became shock when he felt the real Kagami pouring – flooding – diamond dust into his femoral artery.

Akabane's choked cry was high and thin, like the wail of a distressed cat, and in the gloom of the scalpels' dim illumination Kagami caught a glimpse of what almost looked like a keen betrayal in the doctor's eyes as the man crumpled to the floor. Odd, that one who had been designated the requisite traitor of the game should feel such notions. Although it wasn't entirely off base to suggest that there was still some honor among thieves of his ilk.

The transporter was squirming like a half-crushed bug on the floor, coughing, gagging, vomiting up what looked to be like bloodied clumps of misshapen weapons. Kagami knew he should go, should retreat while the other was momentarily incapacitated, but he found the sight weirdly mesmerizing. A shame he wouldn't be able to use this injection technique a second time if they met again in the future, though. Such was the pesky drawback to learning from one's mistakes.

Having garnered enough information for his satisfaction, Kagami turned to exit through the escape door with a nod to the injured man. "I do appreciate your generous cooperation in my studies," he chuckled as he idly stroked his earring. "Though I apologize for the damage to your garments. Good tailoring is so difficult to find these days." He didn't think the wound he'd dealt Akabane was lethal, but the transporter would probably find the next several hours quite uncomfortable, what with as much dust as Kagami had pumped him full of. It was something worth keeping an eye on, at any rate.

Wisely, he did not turn his back completely on that wounded animal when he made his exit, and it was none too soon because Akabane had evidently expelled enough of the noxious glass to recover for a sufficient attack. He lunged at Kagami with a fistful of knives; only by good timing and good fortune did Kagami evade the strike that would have amputated both his legs above the knees. He slipped through the passage and shut the door smartly in Jackal's face.

With the doctor left to ponder his illusions in total darkness – Kagami was unconcerned that he might try to follow; that door was specially sealed and its location constantly shifted to prevent outsiders' discovery – all that remained was for Kagami to report back to headquarters on his gatherings. He smiled congratulations at himself for not only having cheated death but also gaining some valuable observations as well.

He tripped the main switch in the hall and nascent overhead lighting briefly stung his eyes before the level adjusted to a comfortable view. Still smiling, humming a contented tune under his breath, Kagami started to stroll along the corridor and gasped when his knees gave out from under him.

Pain lashed a bitter chord through his legs. He rolled, cursing, and put a hand to one of the backs of his knees. It came away slick with red film. He gingerly explored the edges of the wound with his fingertips, tracing the unmistakable signature he'd come to recognize. Well. This was going to be fun for the Trust's medical team to fix. He thanked his lucky stars that they would be able to fix it – Kagami's brief recklessness notwithstanding, a man of Doctor Jackal's expertise might have gotten in the last word after all.

Interesting, that.