Title: Stuck On You
Author: Amethyst Hunter
Rating: PG-13 (language, minor implied m/m)
Warnings/Spoilers: Minor ones for the Venus de Milo arc; key plot spoilers for the Jason Statham movie.
Notes: This is what happens when I watch Transporter 3 and Get Backers in the same weekend.
- The manga and anime use different translations for mafioso Ryuu Mouen's name; I'm going with the anime's version just 'cause I like it better.
Disclaimer: I do not own thine GBers. The song 'Barbie Girl' belongs to Aqua. The Transporter movie and its script and characters all belong to Luc Besson or whomever else created them. All references therein are used strictly for nonprofit amusement. Yay crackfic!
Summary: Ban and Akabane are made an offer they can't refuse. With a double-crossing client, the Undead, cops and angry mobsters alike after them, completing this mission will take every bit of strength they've got – if they don't kill each other first!
Ban Midou had woken up in a lot of odd places before. This was the first time he'd ever woken on the diving board of a swimming pool, and he knew damn well he hadn't been drunk in order to get here.
He struggled to sit up. His head felt woozy. A few minutes sitting upright and a good shake of the head seemed to clear some of it out. He reached up to rake his fingers through his hair and that was when he felt something metallic bump his forehead.
The bracelet – more a manacle, really – was plain, thick, and surrounded his wrist. The back of it was a bulky-looking thing, while the top part held a lighted display with variations of a color strip. Currently the visible section was green. The bracelet's ends fit snugly, with only the barest of seams to indicate how it fastened. There was no apparent lock. Ban tugged at it. It wouldn't budge. It was on there good.
Waking up at someone's swimming pool with a mysterious gadget attached to him without his consent amped up his unease factor considerably. He'd been in enough sticky situations in his lifetime to recognize the difference between the morning-after-party-blank and the deep-dog-doody-blank.
Ban tried to recall last night's events. He'd gone to the Honky Tonk. Shot the breeze with Ginji. They'd gone to a sidewalk stand to bum a few leftover hot dogs after Paul had refused them another tab. Lucked out and got not only food but free drinks from the proprietor...
Anything after that was coming up empty. His eyes narrowed. "Ginji?"
No answer. Ban looked around again at his surroundings. Whoever owned this joint was loaded, judging from the elaborate poolside décor. Mafia, he decided, studying the overwrought statues standing guard around the lush gardens. They loved that fancy expensive-looking crap. But which mobster called this outfit home?
He eased back along the diving board until his feet could touch concrete. Ban got up, testing his footing. Aside from some leftover fuzziness he felt all right physically. He heard a door open and turned around.
"Ahh. Our guest is finally awake."
Ban clenched a fist as he automatically assumed a fighting stance. "You," he hissed. "I thought they were raking you over the Aphrodite coals in the pen."
Ryuu Mouen – he of the infamous drug trade, late of Mugenjou's underworld – smiled magnanimously as he avoided his guest's stare and slid on a pair of sunglasses. "Call it early parole for good behavior."
"Yeah?" Ban studied the group of men – bodyguards, fellow yakuza – that had gathered around Mouen. Hard to tell if they were carrying firearms or not. Most likely. He wasn't sure he could make a break for it with these odds. "Who'd you bribe and what am I doing in your backyard?"
Mouen chuckled. He looked none the worse for wear from his stint in prison, his bald head gleaming in the sunlight. "The first is inconsequential. The second, I can answer. I'm hiring you."
"I'm hiring you," Mouen repeated, "because you boast of your high success rate. A rate that upon investigation checks out, according to my sources. And because you owe me a great debt. I thought it fitting that you should be the one to return to me that which you once stole."
Ban stared at him, a sneer curling his lip. "I reserve the right to reject deadbeat clients. Especially poison peddlers. Find yourself another stooge." He remembered his extra addition, and held up his arm to show Mouen the bracelet. "I don't work for anybody who tags their hires like pets."
"On the contrary, Midou. I think this time you'll make an exception." Mouen smiled again, but there was no friendliness in it. If Ban could have seen his eyes, doubtless they were cold black stones in his face. "You're an expert on distraction, aren't you. Well, I've arranged it so that your focus will be better occupied carrying out my request. That transmitter guarantees your undivided attention."
Ban's eyes grew harder. "Explain."
"It's very simple." Mouen chuckled, and the group around him echoed in a quiet ripple of amusement. They had him and they knew it. "You are the retriever, I am the client, and whoever has the money makes the rules. Mine are easy. You will travel to Fukuoka to pick up a delivery I'm expecting, and return it to me in Shinjuku."
Mouen snapped his fingers and a pet thug stepped forward. He was holding a large padded manila envelope, which he handed to Ban, who – after seeing the way some of the other yakuza fingered their respective weaponry in warning – reluctantly accepted it.
"In there you'll find complete instructions, including an itinerary, expense fund, and the addresses you'll require." Mouen paused. "I've also taken possession of your cellular device. But not to worry. You'll get it back once you complete my assignment. In the meantime I've included one of my own in the envelope for you to use. The only number you'll be able to dial is my own. I had it preprogrammed." He smirked upon seeing Ban's ferocious glare. "After all, I can't have my employees wasting precious travel minutes on chatty phone calls."
"The transmitter," Ban prompted with a growl.
"Ah, yes." Mouen strolled around him, careful to keep a safe distance and avoid eye contact. "Your car has been fully prepped in anticipation of your journey. Full tank of gas, fresh oil, new tires...I even had the windshield wiper fluid checked. The transmitter on your wrist, Midou, is to ensure I have your complete cooperation. I will know where you are at all times. If you stray from your mission even just a little, all I have to do is send you a reminder of where you should be going and what you ought to be doing."
God, how he wanted to wipe that smug face across the pavement. Ban's scowl was pure stone as he eyed the former drug kingpin. "What kind of reminder?"
Mouen chuckled. So did his fan club. "Let's just say that there isn't enough upholstery cleaner in the world to repair the damage that will be done to your seats if you displease me."
He swept his arm in the direction of one of the outer buildings. "Your car is ready and waiting. Any questions before I send you on your way?"
"Yeah, I've got one." When Mouen looked at him, Ban said, "You want your ass original-recipe or extra-crispy when I come back to fry it?"
The mobster snorted, all pretense of friendly professionalism vanishing. "Get going. You don't have time to play at bad jokes. I want to see you back here in short order."
Bad jokes. That should be the territory of that ridiculous clown joker, Emishi Whassis-face. Who the hell did this asshole Mouen think he was fooling? He, Ban, was apparently stuck in the worst joke of all right now. Muttering under his breath all the various obscene scenarios of what he'd like to do to the bastard, Ban followed the trail towards the garage that Mouen's men were pointing him to.
"Oh, Midou, one other thing."
Ban resisted the urge to grind his teeth. He turned around and glared. "What?"
"Drive safely. I doubt you'll want to make use of the doctor's services if you have any accidents."
He was still trying to decipher that parting shot miles down the road. As he watched the towers of Shinjuku disappear in his rearview mirrors, Ban dug new furrows in his brow as he thought of the knowing way Mouen and his men had laughed. They were up to something, and he needed to figure it out fast before they sprang their trap. That the whole mission was an obvious setup had never been in doubt; what bitter end they had planned for him as Mouen's vengeance, Ban hadn't yet been able to come up with any clues as to its nature.
The more he pondered his situation, the angrier he got. Drugged and roped into a suicide mission, and worse, he had no idea what had happened to Ginji. He'd asked before driving off, and all Mouen had said was, "You can explain things to your partner once you return. He's probably still sleeping it off back at your little coffee shack." It could have been the truth. It could have been a lie. Either way, he had no means of contacting anyone to find out for sure.
He swore softly and hammered the steering wheel with a fist. "First chance I get I'm giving that scumbag an Evil Eye straight into hell."
"My, my. That sounds like it could be interesting."
The fey voice crooning near his ear didn't quite register at first. Then Ban looked up into the rearview mirror, thinking that he couldn't possibly have just heard what he thought he had, and instead of his own dazzling blue a pair of luminous purple eyes winked back at him over his shoulder.
"Hello," the smiling Akabane said.
Ban slammed his brakes and pulled the car over, swearing a solid racket amidst the startled horns of passing traffic. He leaped from the car and stormed to the other side, yanking open the door. "OUT!"
In the back seat, Akabane blinked as he righted himself from the sudden stop. His hat had fallen off and was mashed between his knees and the back of the driver's seat. "Beg your pardon?"
"You heard me!" Ban roared. "Get out of my car!"
He waited with fists planted at his sides while a long, thin stream of hatless black unwound itself and slunk out from the back seat of the Ladybug. Kuroudo Akabane, the infamous Jackal, stood facing him with an arched eyebrow and no inclination to move out of the way. "Is something wrong?"
"Go play in traffic!" Ban snapped as he stalked around to the driver's side. "What the hell are you doing in my vehicle? The last thing I need is your skinny ass hitching a ride!"
"If you would allow me to explain – "
"Get out of here! I'm busy!" Ban started to get into the driver's seat and the passenger door opened again. "What do you think you're doing? I said get lost!"
He shoved at Akabane, who was attempting to get back inside the car. "Midou-kun, it's all right, I'm – "
"No it is not all right!" Ban got out again and went to drag his unwelcome companion away from his beloved set of wheels. "I'm a retrieval service, not a taxi one. You want to go road-tripping, do it on your own damn time! I don't ferry around homicidal physicians – "
He froze as Mouen's previous words suddenly slapped his mind into clarity. Drive safely, Midou. I doubt you'll want to make use of the doctor's services if you have any accidents.
"Son of a bitch." Ban stopped pulling at Akabane's coat and stared at him. "He put you up to this. Ryuu Mouen. You've been hired to escort me to Fukuoka, haven't you?"
A pleased smile curved across Akabane's mouth. "That is correct."
Ban wasn't smiling. "Well, now I'm firing you. The only partner I use is Ginji." He jerked a thumb at the highway. "Take a hike, Jackal!"
Akabane shook his head. "Ginji-kun is not here right now, Midou-kun. He's currently resting in Shinjuku, so you'll have to make do with me. But I assure you, I will be a suitable traveling companion."
Says who, Ban thought with a sneering lip. "How do you know where Ginji is?"
"I took him back to the Honky Tonk café at our client's request, of course," Akabane replied. "The poor dear was dead to the world, but that's not so surprising, considering what Mouen's spy dosed you two with. Pharmaceuticals are unfortunately very easy to administer improperly if one has only an amateur's knowledge of them."
Ban considered this. Jackal liked to bend and stretch the truth to suit his whims, but since Ban had known him he'd not yet caught the man in an outright lie. Besides, Akabane had a thing for Ginji, or more precisely, Ginji's lethal alter-ego, and unresponsive prey didn't trigger the transporter's deadly instincts. Odds were good that Ginji was right where Akabane had said he'd left him, in Paul's capable hands. That was a load off Ban's mind, at least.
But he still had a big problem. Two big problems, counting the black shadow that had attached itself to him without his finding out till now. Well, that was easily taken care of. He pushed Akabane aside and shut the passenger door. "Fine. That's all I need to know. Later, sucker."
He started to get into the car again and Akabane spoke. "I would advise against abandoning me here by the side of the road, Midou-kun."
"What's the matter, scared you'll get turned into road pizza if I'm not there to hold your hand while you cross the street?"
Unruffled, Akabane said, "You need me in order to fulfill your assignment."
Ban snorted. "In your dreams. Give me one good reason why you think I should haul your sorry butt cross-country."
Akabane smiled. He held up a wrist and tapped his gloved finger on an all-too-familiar adornment encircling his arm. Its green light matched the one emitting from Ban's own accessory.
His eyes fell shut. He really wanted to wake up out of this nightmare now. Ban thumped his forehead on the top of the car. "I. Do. Not. Need. This. Shit. Today," he groaned, more to himself than Akabane.
"Look on the bright side, Midou-kun. We'll have plenty of time to get to know each other better. They say that if you really want to learn about people, you should take a trip with them. Won't that be fun?"
"About as fun as having a colonoscopy with a rusty drillbit," Ban retorted. Then he paused. Maybe there was a way out of this mess. "Wait a minute. We've got the perfect toolkit handy." He looked at Akabane. "Gimme a scalpel."
Akabane frowned slightly. "Whatever for?"
"To pick my nose with, whaddya think?" Ban scowled. "Just give me one so I can cut these damn things off and we can each go our own ways. I'm surprised you haven't thought of that yourself."
To his great annoyance the transporter declined, shaking his head gently. "Oh, I'm sorry, Midou-kun. You are correct in assuming that that was my first reaction as well. But I cannot do as you ask."
"Our mutual client was very specific about the terms of our engagement. Any attempts to tamper with or remove our accessories will result in some rather messy complications, I'm afraid."
Ban's look could have melted steel. "How messy?"
Akabane thought. "Messier than one of my Bloody Hurricanes, but not as thorough as an implosion lens."
"So we're dealing with something incendiary. I figured as much. Shit." A thought struck Ban then, and he said, "What else should I know about these things that that rat Mouen didn't bother to tell me?"
"I do not think it a good idea to wander too far from one another." Akabane came closer and touched Ban's manacle, holding his own alongside it. "These are sister devices. They can be programmed to maintain a tracking frequency with one another to prevent detonation, so long as the devices are not separated beyond a certain limit. I believe the number our client mentioned to me was in the vicinity of a hundred feet."
That explained the color monitor on the bracelets. The green range meant they were okay. Yellow, some risk; orange indicated the danger zone and red...well, that was self-explanatory. "Fuck," Ban groaned out as he sank into his seat. "I need this job like I need a hole in the head right now."
"If I may suggest," Akabane said, "perhaps we ought to resume our trip, lest our client take it upon himself to do exactly that to you. Which would, in all honesty, Midou-kun, disappoint me greatly."
"So sorry to put a crimp in your weekend plans," Ban grumbled. "Dying wasn't on my agenda either."
Undeterred, Akabane continued, coming around to take up residence in the passenger seat. "Unless I am mistaken, you have not yet identified what plot Ryuu Mouen has concocted. It may be that the only way to learn of it is to undertake this mission and discover clues along the way. So. What do you say...partner?"
Add Akabane's to the present list of faces whose grating smiles he'd most like to punch to dust, Ryuu Mouen's still earning the top slot. Ban slow-roasted him with a look. "All right. I guess I've got to go along with this charade. For now."
He pointed at Jackal. "But get this straight. This is my car. I'm the driver. We play by my rules. That means you get in, you sit down, and shut up. Don't do a thing till I tell you to, got it? No smiling, no helpful advice, and for damned sure no knifeplay!"
Throughout this tirade Akabane said nothing, merely blinked in minor surprise, as if puzzled to find himself the target of Ban's outrage.
"You screw this up for me, Jackal, so help me, I'll break every bone in your scrawny body faster than you can put on your own casts."
Ban shut his door and started the car.
"Fair enough," Akabane said. "But if I must adhere to your rules, I would like for you to abide by some of mine in return. Starting with that," he said, leaning over to pluck the cigarette that Ban had just been about to light from his mouth, and fling it out the open window in one swift strike.
"No smoking in the car. I don't like it, and it's unhealthy." Akabane patently ignored the death wish in two smoldering blue eyes that was being aimed in his direction. "If you must indulge your foul habit, kindly pull off to the side of the road and get out to do it."
A tic made one side of Ban's face jerk and twitch, but he found he didn't have words profane enough for what he was thinking. He put his lighter back in his pocket, put his foot on the brake and shifted the car into drive.
"Seat belt," Akabane suddenly prompted with a fresh smile. Naturally his own was already clicked into place. "Safety first, don't you know."
Ban thought about tossing the bastard out on his black-clad rear end and driving off without him anyway. Decided that getting blown up into bloody chum wasn't quite worth it. Still radiating acidic destruction at Akabane, he dragged the belt into place. Then he took his foot off the brake again and stomped the gas.
It was going to be a long drive.