Title: Birthday Surprise

Author: Amethyst Hunter

Rating: PG (mild gore)

Word count: 1290

Warnings/Spoilers: None

Disclaimer: I do not owneth GB.

Notes: Done for a friend's birthday.

Summary: Ban gets an unexpected 'bonus' for his birthday.

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Ban-chan wasn't happy about getting older, even though I pointed out that he was only a year off from me now. I knew I was in for another head-slam if I let his special day pass without some sort of surprise, in spite of his loud declarations that he didn't want anything and he'd kill us if we dared make a big fuss.

So we got (begged, actually) Master Paul to let us put together a party at the Honky Tonk. Natsumi-chan was so sweet, she helped me hang up all the streamers (as did Kazu-chan, who I suspect only did it because I asked him and not because he was interested in Ban-chan's birthday). Shido was a little (okay, a lot) harder to get, but he finally agreed to show up as long as there would be cake. Emishi and (with a little coaxing) Juubei offered to perform, but after a unanimous vote we decided other entertainment was in order.

That was when Shido got this funny look in his eye, and volunteered to set up something. Since he'd done nothing but grumble about how "that worthless snake bastard doesn't deserve a birthday party," I was touched by his sudden generosity. He asked me who was making the cake; I said I was buying it from a caterer that Hevn-san had given me the number to. (Cost me a LOT of money, and Ban-chan wasn't going to be too happy with me when he found out I'd blown my half of our last recovery fee, but he deserved a nice treat on his special day.) Shido got the number from me and when he was done with his phone call I asked him why he'd hired a male stripper instead of a female one.

"Trust me, Ginji," he said, giving me a rare smile. I still thought it was weird, but the idea seemed to go over pretty well with Hevn-san and Himiko-chan. Natsumi-chan too, but Master Paul said she was too young to be involved with "displays of debauchery." Whatever that meant...

I was, however, less than thrilled when I learned how the cake and its contents would be arriving. But I had to admit, much as I hated to, that Natsumi-chan was right when she said it would be rude not to invite Akabane-san. Himiko-chan did make me feel better though, when she said that he might not even stay for the party since there wasn't any fighting going on. And Hevn-san did have a point about getting the cake here safely – if anybody could protect an important delivery, it was Akabane-san, all right!

When the moment of truth came Ban-chan was plenty mad, but not so mad that he couldn't take me aside for a second when nobody was looking and give me a bone-cracking hug. He was growling at me when he said "I'm gonna kick your ass for this, Ginji," but his eyes were warm and – I think – suspiciously damp. All I could do was grin, knowing that I'd made him happy and that the best was yet to come, even if it was likely that Ban-chan would be more annoyed than pleased by Shido's spontaneous gift.

Shortly after everyone had come to the cafe the cake showed up, wheeled in by one long dark streak of shadow. It was amazing how fast silence could take over a room whenever Akabane-san was around. We all just kind of smiled and nodded hello at him when he gave us his favorite little smile and said hello back in that spooky-soft voice of his. Fortunately Ban-chan saved the day with his greedy demands for the treat, and the rest of us were quick to follow hoping that this distraction would bore Akabane-san and make him leave, or at least keep him entertained long enough to avoid a battle.

"I'm so very glad I could be with you to help celebrate your birthday, Midou-kun," he said, every bit as dangerously sweet as one of those ice cream cones from my favorite dessert shop in Shinjuku. "I hope you don't mind, but I took the liberty of slicing it up for you in order to make it more convenient for serving."

Ban-chan shot him a dirty look. "I find one missing piece on my cake and you're a dead man, Jackal."

Akabane-san smiled and clucked his tongue disapprovingly. "It's not nice to make promises you don't intend to keep."

"It was so nice of you to bring it to us!" Natsumi-chan cheerfully passed a generous helping of cake over to Ban-chan, and he stuffed it down in two bites before she'd even picked my piece out to hand to me. "Here, Gin-chan! It's really good, isn't it?"

I dribbled a mouthful of crumbs with my reply, which was best translated as, "Especially the frosting! The red food coloring makes it taste kinda funny though." I thought for a minute. "Red? Wait a sec – aww, the caterer's screwed up! It was supposed to be blue frosting, for Ban-chan!"

"Blue, red, hell, what's the difference?" Ban-chan said, spraying me with bits of pinkened cake. "You did good on this one, Ginji!"

"That's nothing. Wait'll you see your extra-special present," Shido cackled, and clapped his hands together as he suddenly ripped off the top of the cake and yelled, "TA-DAAAA!"

We all stared when the expected surprise didn't show. Finally Hevn-san said, "Is something supposed to happen?"

Shido frowned. He waved a hand at the cake again. "Ta-DAAAA!"

Ban-chan blinked. Then he started to laugh. "Oh, okay, I get it. Y'all chipped in to get me some toys for my birthday! I guess maybe there's hope for you being heterosexual after all, monkey-trainer."

Shido was too busy scowling to take much notice of the jibe though. He pulled up one of the barstools and stood on the lower rung, peering down into the base of the cake. "Hey! Wake up in th - " Suddenly he got a very green look on his face and dropped the cake top with a ripe splat, nearly falling off the stool as he backed away.

"Uhhmm...Doc..." he mumbled to Akabane-san. "Can I have a quick word with you?"

"Certainly." Akabane-san glided over to him and Shido pointed to the inside of the cake, gesturing for him to look. We all paused in our eating and watched, curious to hear what was going on.

Akabane-san didn't need a stepstool; he rose on tiptoes and peeked inside. Underneath his big black hat, his eyebrow twitched a bit. "Oh my...isn't that interesting..."

"Was that guy in there -before- you cut up the cake?" Shido hissed.

Akabane-san frowned and put a white-gloved finger to his lips in thought. "Oh dear. Now that you mention it, I do recall the itinerary listed something about an extra package. But no one told me it would be inside the cake." He smiled again and gave a little shrug. "Oh well. No need to let a small misunderstanding ruin such a lovely party, hmm?" He swabbed a dab of frosting off one of the middle tiers and licked it, quick and delicate like a cat, from the scalpel that was now poking between his fingers. "It's really quite good," he insisted. "You know, in some cultures, the blood of an enemy is considered a very powerful aphrodisiac and a path to greater strength..."

And that was why, from then on, we never EVER put Akabane-san in charge of birthday cakes.

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