Title: Going For The Gold (ch. 21)
Author: Amethyst Hunter
Fandom: Get Backers
Theme: #7 – “superstar”
Rating: R (language)
Warnings/Spoilers: None other than standard canon.
Notes: Many thanks to you, wonderful readers, for your continued appreciation. :)
~ Standard disclaimer: please, if you are of legal age to do so, consume alcohol in a responsible manner. (Seriously, folks.)
~ Bit of OOCness with drunk!Akabane, but let's face it: knives and booze and blood don't mix very well. >;)
Disclaimer: GB & gang belong to the wonderful Aoki-san and Ayamine-san, not me. I just play with them for fun. And unlike Akabane's scalpels, I'm harmless. ;)
Summary: Ban and Akabane struggle to amass funding for their trip to Europe, efforts that receive an unexpected boost when old enemies cross paths with retrievers and transporters alike.
Ban took a few minutes to dwell on that. He decided he liked the sentiment with which Akabane currently regarded him. He thought of all the times he and Ginji had had to curl up with each other in the car on cold nights – and some frigid mornings. Knowing that someone real was there with you, that you weren't lost on your own...there was something to be said, he thought with a shade of chagrin, for a certain companionship.
He recalled the instant the Get Backers had catapulted themselves off of the unfinished highway overpass. When he'd felt the little car start to drop in the air, he almost could have sworn that he'd felt the whisper of wings by his cheek, and the first person whose face had flashed into his mind, as if in a kind of unspoken prayer, had been Akabane's. And the first thought after that was not the fear of imminent death, nor the ire of a job botched, but the stinging regret that he hadn't told his other partner of his feelings for him one more time.
“You know...in spite of tonight's bullshit with this case...I had a good time with you too, Jackal. I have more good times with you than I'll ever admit to another soul,” he muttered, softly, so that only his intended would hear.
Or would have – if Akabane hadn't shortly dropped off the deep end into a drunken slumber. Dark eyelashes fluttered against pale skin, but the transporter's eyes never opened as he sagged further still against the retriever.
“Huh. Guess it's true - you can't teach an old dog new tricks.”
Ginji found that hilarious. He started to laugh, then keeled over when he got stuck on a hiccup and couldn't stop coughing.
His two favorite idiots. Ban snorted, then smiled and shook his head, amused by the absurdity of it all. He might be a bum, but at least he was a loved bum. He reached for one last Jagerbomb.
He downed it at about the same time the clown cavalry returned to the table. A still-steaming Kazuki, flanked by Juubei and a squalling Emishi, caught up with Maguruma, who was grousing over the extra charges the trio had inflicted upon his wallet. “Aren't you supposed to be some kind of royalty or something? For crying out loud, all you had to do was keep your court jester off the mikes, it would've saved me a bundle!”
“Hmm, 'jester.' Maybe that oughta be my new title instead of Bloody Joker,” Emishi mused.
“They should've paid me just to get you to shut up,” Maguruma growled.
“Clearly you don't know who you're speaking to,” Juubei informed the driver in a frosty tone. “There is a reason Kazuki has been called the Prince of Battle Terror!”
“Yeah, and it's not just 'cause he needs an army of rubber bands to do up his hair!” Emishi would have smirked just then, but a hard smack on the back of his head from the glowering Kazuki turned it into a wince. “Ow!”
“I would've pegged PMS as the culprit myself,” Ban drawled, staying put in his seat even when Kazuki looked ready to charge him. “Oh, please, bring it, needle-nipper. Because showing up with a couple threads to a knife-fight would be so very much in your best interest.” He nudged Akabane. “Right, Jackal?”
Akabane's only response was to droop his head further down on his chest, a quiet murmur of a sigh escaping his lips.
Ban scowled. “C'mon. You're making me look bad here.” He poked Akabane in the ribs, to no avail.
Maguruma stared while Kazuki tried to revive an unconscious Himiko, also without success. “How much did you pour down his throat?”
Ban blinked as he surveyed the table. “Uh...” He gestured at the assorted glasses, mugs and tubes littering the crumb-strewn and puddle-splattered wood.
Kazuki forgot his fury with the retriever long enough to be stunned. “Wow. He drank all that?”
“He is gonna have one helluva hammerhead in the morning,” Emishi said, awed by the amount of booze that had apparently been consumed by one man.
“Don't forget,” a red-faced Ginji half-hiccuped, half-burped as he stumbled upright. “The tubeys, those Star things. Me and Akabane-shan got wasted-loaded!”
“An' everything in between,” Ban agreed.
Maguruma just shook his head. “It's your funeral. By the way, Midou, you owe me another ninety-four-thousand yen.”
The mention of money cleared Ban's booze-addled brain like nothing else. “The hell I do!” he all but roared as he staggered to his feet, Jackal in arm and Ginji shouldering him on the other. “The truck, fine, I can deal with that, but since when am I paying out the nose for another ninety-four-thousand worth?!”
“Since spark-plug and booze-hound there ran up the tab trying to see who could get lit up the fastest!”
Ban turned to a shrinking Ginji and lasered him with a glare. “Ginji...how much were those tube-drinks?”
“Uhhh...” Ginji did what he always did when targeted with the blame – he attempted to shift it, or part of it, onto another unsuspecting sucker. “Akabane-san drank as much as I did! Maybe more,” he added, seeing Ban's thunderous expression. “Yeah, in fact, I bet it was more 'cause I remem – I remem – I remember he asked for two more when I was having my sixth one and then he had three more after that 'cause he liked them so much and Ban-chan please don't - “
The fist thudded down squarely on his head.
“ - hit me.” Ginji recoiled from the impact, spun around twice and promptly threw up the last of his alcohol and snacks...
...all over Akabane's boots.
Dead silence took over the bar for a few seconds. Then Ban said, “You're so lucky he's out cold for this.”
Ginji's eyes rolled back in his head, but he swayed upright again and wiped his mouth with a quivering half-smile. “You're not gonna tell him...aw, come on, Ban-chan!”
“Tonight you party; tomorrow you work!” Ban told him with a merciless grin. “Between you and the brat, I'm gonna make a mint off of shakedowns!”
“Says you,” Maguruma reminded him. “It's all going to pay for my repairs anyway!”
“Yeah, yeah, No-Brakes...”
The two taxis they'd ordered were waiting in the parking lot. Maguruma knew quite a few people who owed him favors, as it turned out. As they filed out of the bar Kazuki asked Ginji, “Wait – what did Himiko-san do that Mr. Cheapskate has on her?”
Ginji frowned, trying to cull something from his liquor-saturated mind. “I dunno...Ban-chan, why are you gonna blackmail Himiko-chan?”
Ban didn't look back as he hoisted Akabane over his shoulder and dumped him into the first cab. “She kissed my man.”
“Yeah, but she was kinda drunk, ya know. And it was on a dare,” Emishi, who'd witnessed the incident in question, pointed out unhelpfully. “During that bottle-spinning game, I heard you say it - “ The rest of his words were cut off as Kazuki shoved him into the second car and then pushed Juubei, who was mumbling something about a boy from the sticks who needed some licks, in after him.
“She knew full well I meant it as a joke,” Ban grumbled, adjusting Akabane's limp body so that he and Maguruma could pile into their car while avoiding the mess on Jackal's feet. Maguruma, who was carrying Himiko, put her next to Akabane. She was still wrapped in his coat. The black hat was still on Ginji's head, and Gouzou snatched it with one hand while bulldozing Ban into the cab with his other, blocking the doorway with his body.
“That's so you don't get any bright ideas about welshing on me,” No-Brakes said when Ban complained about being squashed.
“Since when does the great Midou Ban ever welsh on a deal?”
“Since Paul's always telling you to get a real job and pay him the tab that we owe at the Honky Tonk,” Ginji offered, ducking the shoe Ban threw at him.
“You can just ride home with the threadspool and his fellow tools!”
“I hope he pukes chunks everywhere and they all have to float back in a pool of vomit. Ninety-four-thousand yen drinks my ass,” Ban snarled softly as his partner ambled off towards the second cab. He clambered halfway over Maguruma and stuck his head out the window. “And you better bring back my shoe, too, eel!”
Ginji, who had climbed almost completely inside his ride, squirmed and flopped his way back out again. He floundered around on the ground for Ban's shoe, found it and waved it in the air with a triumphant hoot. He got up and turned to get into the car again and wound up tripping, falling face-first into Kazuki's lap.
“You know, sometimes I have a hard time believing that you guys really are the world's number-one retrieval service,” Maguruma remarked when both cars had secured their passengers.
Ban let out a belch, ignoring the cabdriver's raised eyebrow in the rearview mirror. “Believe it, buster. We might not be a pretty sight, but we get shit done, lemme tell you that.”
“Yeah, but can you collect on the deal when all is said and done? That's the part that always seems to trip you fellas up.”
“Speak for yourself,” Ban retorted. “Every time we have to go up against you transporters you guys end up chewing dust. You'd think that if you're supposed to be some kind of 'Dream Team' you'd be able to drop-kick a couple of retrievers, but even with Jackal at his peak you still choke.” He smirked.
“Maybe.” Instead of getting upset, Maguruma smiled. “None of us can ever really say that we've seen Akabane at his best. Not even you. I know you've got some snake god you tote around, but Jackal's got a whole pantheon of weapons to choose from. You sure you want to go up against him when he's like that?”
Ban thought he had a good comeback for that, but the alcohol made it difficult to form the words straight. He kept silent and glanced at the still-sleeping Akabane. In the dim lighting it was easy to believe that he was a mere mortal at rest, dreaming of nothing more sinister than the average stardust that formed the inner landscaping of most people's minds. But Ban knew such was not the case. Not with his Jackal, no matter how much hard liquor he'd placated him with.
Somewhere, within, the beast still slumbered...but it could rouse at any time. He looked at Akabane's hands. One was clad in black; the other, pale skin bearing a starburst mark of darkened scar tissue flashed into view. Proof enough that safeguards could no longer be left to chance. Something nipped at the back of Ban's mind then, a tickle of warning prompted by Maguruma's words, but he filed it away for later dissection when he was capable of thinking without the alcoholic haze clouding it.
Well, he was no mere mortal either. A warlock wasn't necessarily immortal, but his patron certainly was. And Aesclepius was no slouch in the devastation department. Dear old grandma, and later, Ban, had seen to that.
He just hoped that the serpent hadn't met his match made in hell.
Ban blinked away some of the fog creeping in around the edges of his gaze and tried to focus on Maguruma. “Eh, lighten up, No-Brakes, before you ruin what's left of my buzz. Just kick back and dream of all the money we're gonna get from this job!”