Disclaimer- Get Backers isn't mine. The assorted OCs and the plot is, though. On the off chance anyone wants to use them, they can ask me.
Quick Note- I spell-checked this time, but I haven't been able to drag my beta-reader online to read this for me so please ignore any and all embarrassing grammatical errors and just enjoy the story, all right?
Chapter One: Get Back Wilhelm's Manuscript!
By A Girl Named Goo
Natsumi looked out the shaded window that separated Honky Tonk from the outside world as she wiped a glass. "Master, should we leave them out there? I think they're melting."
Paul looked up from the newspaper's weather forecast and out the window, where Natsumi was staring. "The air conditioner is for paying customers only. Maybe they'll find a job while they're sitting out there passing out fliers."
"But Master, they're not handing out fliers anymore. I think they're dead."
Paul finally put down the newspaper and walked around the counter over to the window. Outside, Ginji was sprawled face-down on the sidewalk, seemingly melting into a puddle of goo. Ban was sitting on the curb, meekly holding up a flier before finally collapsing spread-eagle between the sidewalk and the road, fliers spilling around him. A sweaty man in a business suit looked down at them and dropped a few coins on Ban's chest.
"They have money now! Can't we let them inside for a few minutes?" Natsumi asked. Paul sighed and walked back behind the bar.
"For a few minutes. That's all they can afford."
Natsumi quickly ran over to the door, feeling a blast of hot air like a furnace as she did so. "Master says you two can come in for a few minutes!" she announced, holding the door as Ban crawled into the restaurant on his belly with the change in his hand and Ginji sort of oozed in behind him. As soon as Natsumi closed the door they stood up, breathing in the cold air.
"Thank you so much, Natsumi-chan!" Ginji cried, rushing over to hug her. Ban grabbed him before he could embrace her.
"We're only in here for a few minutes," Ban told him firmly. "Don't get so excited."
Paul picked up his paper again. "Right. And you have to pay."
"What?! Just to use the air conditioner?!"
"You still owe me money. The air conditioner is for paying customers only. So pay."
Ban looked at the coins in his hand before walking over to the counter, dropping them and muttering to himself. Paul looked at the coins on the counter. Less than ¥100, but better than nothing. Ban sat himself on a stool, breathing in the cool air. His hair had started to go limp, the gel that held it in place melting in incredible heat. Ginji, now completely solidified, sat in the stool next to him and leaned over the bar.
"Ne, Ban-chan, it's too hot," Ginji whined.
Ban lit a cigarette. "What do you want me to do about it? We haven't had a job in weeks, we can't get the Bug's AC fixed until we do-"
"And you can't stay in here unless you pay your tab," Paul reminded them, glancing at a clock. "Two more minutes."
"Damn, this heat's making you cranky," Ban observed, taking a drag off his cigarette. Ginji was looking between the clock and the front door, not bothering to comment on how Ban had also been more irritable than usual since this heat wave began and the air conditioner in the car had decided to give up on them.
Natsumi also looked at the clock, then at the door. "Master, if I buy them something to drink can they stay just a little longer?"
Paul looked at the petite part-time employee from behind his sunglasses. "Didn't I tell you to stop doing them favors?"
Natsumi nodded. "Yes, Master, but it's so hot out there. If they went outside and melted it would be so sad, not to mention very messy."
The owner of Honky Tonk looked at the Get Backers, who now looked like a pair of puppies waiting for a treat after performing a trick. He sighed and looked over at Natsumi again. "They can stay until they finish their drinks. And I'll be making sure they don't just sit there with full glasses or take little sips."
Natsumi smiled and made a mock salute. "Yes, Master!" she told him, scrambling behind the bar and pouring them both glasses of iced tea, adding slices of lemon and placing them in front of the currently unemployed young men.
"Thank you, Natsumi-chan!" Ginji cried gleefully, quickly finishing the drink. Ban wanted to tell him to go slower so they could stay longer, but Paul was watching them and he didn't want to test him while he was in a bad mood. He could always be a little slow about it, he decided, as he squeezed the lemon into the cold beverage. He noticed Ginji was trying (rather unsuccessfully) to eat his own lemon slice.
Paul opened his news paper again. "This weather's going to last all week, according to this. No word on after this week."
Ban sighed and took a sip of the iced tea. "Ne, Natsumi-chan, did you make this?"
Natsumi nodded. "Yes. Just this morning. Why? Is there something wrong with it?"
Ban looked at the glass and took a bigger swallow. "No. It's good." He looked over the glass as he was about to take another sip at Natsumi's grinning face. "What? What's in it?"
"No one can resist my iced tea!" she suddenly exclaimed proudly. Ban looked over and noticed Ginji tipping the glass up, trying to get the last drops and nearly choking on the ice cubes. He was surprising to find he was taking deep swallows himself. He stopped with only a little bit left in the glass.
"Seriously, what's in it?" he demanded, itching to finish off the glass. This was definitely not normal behavior for him, but he had to restrain himself, lest they get thrown out.
Natsumi held up a bag of blue powder. "Master gave it to me. He said it makes anything taste so good people always want more, and will pay any price for it."
"Drugs?!" Ban cried, choking and looking at the little plastic bag.
Paul sighed and put down his paper again. "More like an old family secret. It's perfectly legal and works like a charm. And if you want more of that you have to pay for it. I am not letting her buy you two any more."
Ban looked at the last drops in his glass, using all of his restraint to keep from finishing it. They couldn't go outside so soon.
"Ne, Ban-chan, can I have the rest?" Ginji asked.
"No!" Ban barked. Then he cleared his throat. "I mean no, I'm going to finish it."
Paul got a wicked grin on his face. "Oh really?"
Ban looked between the glass and the owner of this place. It was taking everything he had to keep from swallowing it all in one gulp. Just a little longer....
The door to Honky Tonk banged open, and everyone looked over to see what was going on. Hevn was leaning in the doorway, wearing even less than she usually did (a feat in and of itself) with an almost non-existent pink bikini top that left nothing to the imagination and a very short, very tightly fitting pair of shorts. She leaned against the wall, the door shutting behind her.
"Hevn-san!" Ginji cried out, running to her. She held up a hand to motion for him to stop and continued to pant.
"Where....were....you....two?!" she finally managed angrily.
Ban looked at her nervously, standing up from his stool and completely forgetting his craving. He began to back as far away from her as possible. Unfortunately, she seemed to have gained her second wind and was starting to approach him.
"I've been looking everywhere for you two since this morning!" she shouted. "I've looked up and down most of Shinjuku, on foot, in this God forsaken heat for you!"
"We were just handing out some fliers this morning," Ban said quickly. That was a half truth. Before passing out in front of Honky Tonk after an unsuccessful plea to be let inside, they had been just outside of the main portion of the city (the trip that had killed the Bug's air conditioning) swimming in a pool that belonged to a couple that were spending the day in the city. Or so they thought, before they almost got arrested....
"You're damn lucky that I found you when I did. I have a job for you two, and you're client will be here any minute!" Hevn continued. She looked at Ban's glass of iced tea, reached over and finished it off. Ban made an interesting choking sound as she put the glass down onto the counter. "I am going to take five percent this time to cover this little incident! You're lucky I don't sue!" Ban was looking at her like she had just run over his puppy. She noticed and shook the glass, making the ice in it rattle. "No arguments this time, or I'll take the client and go elsewhere. You're lucky I didn't give up and give the job to someone else." She looked at the glass again. "And this iced tea is really good. Do you have any more?"
"No!" Ban and Ginji shouted at the same time, causing Hevn to look at them strangely.
"Natsumi, give her some," Paul said. "From the other pitcher."
"All right!" Natsumi said cheerfully, refilling Ban's glass. Hevn started drinking it immediately.
"Why isn't she hooked?" Ban asked, glaring at Paul.
Paul shrugged. "She only had one sip. That craving only lasts a few minutes. You two each had a whole glass. If you ignore your craving it'll last about an hour. It'll be longer if you have another glass. I was hoping you two would actually break down and pay for more."
Ban muttered something unsavory under his breath and lit a cigarette. He turned to Hevn. "So when will this client be here?"
Hevn looked at the clock on the wall. "I set the appointment for three, so any minute now."
The door opened again, and everyone looked over to see who it was. They heard a familiar jingling noise first, but in the haze of the heat outside they couldn't focus until the door was closed. Standing in the restaurant was Kadsuki and Jubei.
"Are we late?" Kadsuki asked. He looked amazingly unruffled in the intense heat of the afternoon sun. Jubei looked relatively unphased as well, for he was wearing the jacket he usually wore.
"No, you're on time," Hevn told them. "The client isn't here yet."
Ban looked between the pair that had just entered and Hevn. "You said you didn't give the job to anyone else!"
Hevn sighed and took another drink of her iced tea. "I said I didn't find someone else to replace you in this job. That doesn't mean I didn't hire some back-up for you two. It's a big job."
"That's what you say about all our jobs," Ban muttered, taking another drag off of his cigarette.
"It's too hot to argue with you," Hevn said at last. "If you don't want this job, then I'll go find someone else."
Ban kept his mouth shut. Ginji ran over to Kadsuki and Jubei happily.
"Jubei-kun!" he cried out. "When did you get back? I thought you were gone!"
Jubei shrugged. "A few days ago."
Ban finished his cigarette and smashed it out on the counter. "Don't tell me you're a retrieval specialist now, too."
Jubei shook his head. "Kadsuki was hired for this job. I'm just coming with him. I can't protect him very well if I'm sitting at home alone while he works."
"Whatever," Ban muttered, sitting on a stool again and leaning over the counter. Ginji was now in his tare form, tugging on Kadsuki's pant leg and saying "Kadsu-chan!" over and over. Hevn just sighed and muttered something about a career change. Natsumi looked around the room, sweat-dropped, and picked up Ginji's empty glass.
Everything in the room suddenly went quiet as the door opened again. Once again the sun and heat outside made it difficult to figure out who it was standing in the doorway. The door closed, and standing in front of it was a young man wearing a blue suit, dark sunglasses, and holding a briefcase. His hair was brown and cut into a stylish hair cut, and as he walked further into the restaurant and toward Hevn he seemed to exude poise and aristocracy.
Hevn stood up as he approached. "Mr. Hamrich! We were expecting you!" She turned to everyone else in the room now. "This is our client."
Hamrich extended his hand to Ban. "Karl Hamrich," he said simply. He had a thick European accent that Ban had to guess was German from his name.
Ban hesitantly shook the man's hand. "Midou Ban. If you'll come this way, we can talk business."
As Ban lead the man over to a booth Ginji appeared next to him. "He smells funny," he whispered in Ban's ear.
"Shut up. He's our client," Ban snapped. But now that he thought about it, the man did seem to have a peculiar odor. It wasn't unpleasant, but it wasn't normal. He shrugged it off, deciding he was probably wearing some weird European cologne. He sat down on one side of the booth, Ginji sliding in next to him, as Hamrich took a seat across from them, Hevn sitting next to him. Kadsuki and Jubei stood in front of the table.
"This is my partner, Amano Ginji," Ban clarified. "Over there is our colleague Fuchoin Kadsuki and his partner Kakei Jubei." He put a strange emphasis on the word "partner" that made Kadsuki glare at him. "And I think you know Hevn-san."
"Yes, I do," he said simply. He reached up to his sunglasses and snapped the front of them off, revealing a pair of normal wire-framed glasses. His eyes were intense and deep, forest green. "If you forgive me for getting right down to business, we really do not have much time."
Ban nodded for the man to continue, noticing how nervous he seemed as he opened the briefcase. Everything about this man was odd. His dress, his odor, his glasses, and even the way he spoke, with a tone of voice that was soft, as if he was unsure of himself, but with words that were precise and no-nonsense.
"Are you familiar with the Brothers Grimm?" he finally asked, pulling out some papers and setting them onto the table as he closed the briefcase.
Ban looked at him oddly. That was a peculiar question. But without even thinking, Ginji supplied an answer.
"They made up all of those fairy tales, right? Like Cinderella and Rapunzel and Little Red Riding Hood and the Little Mermaid," Ginji listed.
Ban sighed and looked at the papers. "Actually, Hans Christian Anderson wrote the Little Mermaid," he pointed out. Hamrich took the papers into his hand and nodded in agreement.
"They did not make up the fairy tales," Hamrich further corrected. "They wrote two books that complied them, only one of which was published in their lifetime. The other was called Kinder- und Hausmärchen, or Children's and Household Tales. The first was printed long after their deaths. But it is the second book that I am here today to talk about."
Everyone was watching Hamrich now as he shuffled his papers. For the time Ban noticed everything on them was written in German. "The Brothers Grimm wrote many books in their lifetimes. Sometimes together, sometimes apart. Most of their pieces they wrote together were not published in their lifetime, and were almost all about folktales and fairytales. Separately they wrote many analyses and essays about linguistics and folktales. Kinder- und Hausmärchen was the last book they wrote together, written after they tried unsuccessfully to sell their first manuscript. This lead to many arguments. The eldest brother, Jakob, thought the stories were too graphic and that was why they couldn't sell their manuscript. He thought Kinder- und Hausmärchen should be toned down to appeal to children. Wilhelm, on the other hand, thought that the stories needed to be told the same way they had been told to him as a child."
Hamrich held up a piece of paper covered in German script. "The legend has it that the brothers got into a dispute. Because Wilhelm was doing most of the actual writing, he made them graphic. However, it was Jakob who was supposed to see them published." He handed the paper to Ginji, who pretended he could read it. "Jakob altered the manuscript and it sold. Wilhelm was furious when he saw what his brother had done and they never spoke again. They both wrote their own books, and Wilhelm wrote a collection of stories as they had been told to him, but it never sold. Today scholars know about these graphic alternate versions of the stories from the first unpublished manuscripts and essays by both brothers, but Wilhelm's manuscript was never found."
Hamrich took the paper back. "That is, until recently. There was some reconstruction being made at the house the Grimm Brothers shared before their disagreement when Wilhelm Grimm's manuscript was found in the floorboard of what had once been his room. He apparently intended to hide the manuscript after it wouldn't sell so that his brother would never know he was right. According to this, the manuscript has been on a world tour before it will be put on display at the Grimm House, which is now a museum. But while on a ship from California in the United States to Yokohama, Japan, word of foul play got out. People kept on their guard, but there was nothing they could do. The ship was destroyed ten kilometers away from Yokohama, and the manuscript, which had been placed in an air-tight steel safe for safe keeping, sunk to the bottom of the ocean."
"But who would do that?" Kadsuki asked, taking the paper and attempting to read it. He had briefly studied German when he was younger, but was far from fluent in it.
Hamrich shook his head. "Jakob."
Kadsuki put down the paper to stare at the man. Everyone else was also looking in his direction. Even Jubei had turned to face his general direction.
"Jakob? As in Jakob Grimm?" Jubei finally asked, breaking the silence.
Hamrich nodded again. "A man calling himself Jakob Grimm wanted to destroy the manuscript. He claims the original Jakob Grimm never wanted it to be seen. Also trying to retrieve the manuscript is a man who calls himself Wilhelm. He wants to add it to his personal collection until it can be published because he doesn't think the original Wilhelm Grimm would want it on display without it being read." He readjusted his glasses. "I will pay you anything to get that manuscript before they do. The museum...the German Historical Society....they trusted me with it and I failed them. Fortunately I was able to cover up the accident. No one died. But if I do not get it back I will be a disgrace to my entire county."
There was a long, tense moment as no one said anything. Finally Ban spoke up. "Let me get this straight: you want us to go all the way down to Yokohama and search the bottom of the ocean for a steel safe?"
Hamrich sighed. "I know it is a big request, but I cannot risk hiring a salvage crew and I heard you have a reputation for being discreet. And it will be very dangerous. Your ad said that you would take any job and you had a nearly 100% success rate. I will pay for all of your expenses while you stay in Yokohama. Please."
Ban looked at Kadsuki, who nodded once and placed the paper on the table. He then looked over at Hevn. She also nodded. "I already found you a place to stay down there. All I have to do is call and confirm."
Ban gave one last look to Ginji, who shrugged, before sighing and turning toward Hamrich again. "We'll do it," he finally said. "We'll negotiate the fee later."
"Thank you! Danke!" the man said, shaking Ban's hand quickly. "I will call your negotiator periodically to check on your progress. Danke soviel! Thank you so much!"
And with that, Hamrich left.
"You should have told me your air conditioner was broken," Hevn complained, opening the pink drawstring bag she had with her and removing a pink battery-operated fan.
"You should have told me you planned on taking the Bug all the way to Yokohama," Ban shot back angrily. It was bad enough they would have to drive a whole day to get to Yokohama from Shinjuku, but with five people and no air conditioning in a VW bug in the middle of a heat wave even he was starting to feel claustrophobic.
"Do the windows open any more?" Kadsuki asked. He was wedged rather uncomfortably between Hevn and Jubei in the back seat, conspicuously keeping himself pressed closer to the latter than the former.
"No, they don't. They broke during our last job. We've been meaning to get them fixed..." Ban mused, making a mental checklist of all of the repair work the Bug needed. It was true that in the end it would probably be cheaper to just buy another car, but he loved this one too much to let it go without a fight. Even if they would need to use a sizable chunk of their payment for this job to cover the repairs.
Ginji struggled with the handle to the window on his side for a moment, attempting to force the window down. When it snapped off, he laughed nervously and put it in the glove compartment. Ban glared at him, but didn't say anything. It was too hot, and that wasn't the first time that handle had broken off...
"Did you get gas?" Jubei asked him, if for no reason than to be included in the conversation.
Ban gritted his teeth. "Of course I got gas! What kind of idiot do you take me for?!"
Hevn had given up holding her fan and wedged it at an angle in her cleavage so that it would be aimed at her face. "I think that's a good question, seeing as you insisted you only take back roads that you aren't familiar with."
Ban growled lowly. "What is this?! 'Everyone Gang Up On Ban' day?! I am taking back roads because less traffic and no cops means we can drive faster!"
"Ban-chan, watch the road!" Ginji cried out quickly. Ban looked in front of him and quickly turned back onto the road moments before they could hit a storm fence. Everyone in the back seat sighed in relief.
"I'm sorry, Ban-san, but the heat is making us all irritable and it's too cramped back here," Kadsuki offered as a meek apology, hoping that would keep Ban's attention on the road.
Ban sighed deeply. "Do you think I want to be driving right now? If any of you think you can do better, then let's switch." Ginji, Hevn, Kadsuki, and even Jubei raised their hands to that offer, regardless of driving ability (or physical handicap). "No one? All right. Then keep your mouths shut for the rest of this trip."
"You said you got gas," Hevn reminded Ban. "You told us that an hour ago. Don't you remember that?"
Ban was outside the Bug, listening to Hevn tell him off through the barely open window. He walked around back and opened the panel concealing the car's inner workings. "It was full," he told her through gritted teeth. "The gas gauge said it was! We must have a leak in the gas main..."
"You must have a leak in your head," Hevn muttered. She was hot, sweaty, and her fan had died long ago. She picked up her cell phone and prepared to call for help before she noticed it said they were out of their service area.
"The gas gauge says it's still full," Kadsuki observed. He was trying to keep his tone neutral and maintain his poise, but truth be told he'd never held up very well in heat.
"Shit!" Ban cried, slamming the back of the Bug shut. "It must be broken!"
"Brilliant deduction," Hevn muttered. Ginji put the final touches on his sign and using medical tape from the first aid kit in the glove compartment put it up on the window.
Ban noticed this and walked around to the passenger side of the car. In huge writing it read "STRANDED. GET HELP."
"Ginji, we are not stranded!" Ban told him firmly. "We just need some gas!"
"I think that counts as stranded," Kadsuki told Ban.
"Do you think you can get us out of this?!" Ban shot back at him.
"Maybe I can," Kadsuki said evenly. He stood as far as he could in the tiny vehicle, reached around the driver's seat, and opened the door. "Come on, Jubei. Let's go find a gas station." Jubei nodded and climbed out of the car first, followed by Kadsuki.
"You two can't be serious," Ban told him.
"It's better than sitting in the car and waiting for you to do something," Kadsuki pointed out. "Do you have a spare gas tank?"
"No," Ban told them. He actually wasn't sure if he did, and Murphy's Law dictated that if he were to look for one after they left he would find one, but he didn't feel like opening the trunk.
"Kadsu-chan, will you be all right?" Ginji asked as Kadsuki started to walk away, Jubei following close behind.
Kadsuki smiled at Ginji wearily. "Of course we will. We can take care of ourselves."
Ban laid himself on the front of the Bug as they all watched the pair disappear into the horizon.
Kadsuki stuck his thumb out as another car approached....and passed. He sighed, and lowered his hand to his side and continued to trudge forward, Jubei close behind him. "What ever happened to common decency?" Kadsuki wondered out loud. "No one will stop to help us."
"Some people have stopped."
"They don't count."
The people Jubei was referring to had been the three cars that contained young men who tried to flirt with Kadsuki while under the impression that he was a girl. Usually good natured about that mistake, he was too hot this time and not in the mood to be civil.
"How long have we been walking?" Jubei asked. He paused for a moment to remove his jacket, and Kadsuki waited for him to do so.
"I don't know. A couple hours, by my guess."
Jubei also removed his goggles. "And still no gas station?"
"Do you want to rest? You never were any good in this kind of heat."
"No. I think I can make it a little further."
Kadsuki could hear another car approaching and put out his thumb. A rusty red car came up over the dusty road and slowed to a stop in front of the pair. When Kadsuki noticed there were two young men in the front seat, he almost groaned.
"What's a cute girl like you doing walking in the hot sun?" the one driving asked, flashing a set of cigarette-yellowed teeth as he grinned.
"I'm a guy," Kadsuki told him, annoyance creeping into his voice.
"Oh, well, um...sorry to bother you, then," the driver said quickly. He went to drive away when Kadsuki reached through to open window and grabbed his arm, squeezing a little harder than he had to.
"You're going our way. We've been hitchhiking for hours. Give us a ride and we won't have to hurt you," he said through gritted teeth. He knew what he was doing probably constituted as car jacking, but at the moment he didn't care.
The man looked over at his companion, who was giving them doubtful looks. Kadsuki took his bell off his hair tie and aimed it at a fence post. A string streamed out and lashed the fence post, causing wood to splinter in it's wake. Kadsuki withdrew the string and replaced the bell.
The men looked at each other for a few moments. Kadsuki still had one of his hands on the man's arm. Jubei leaned over to him so that he could whisper in his ear.
"Is this really necessary?" he asked.
Kadsuki sighed. "We've been trying to get a ride for hours. I'm through with playing nice."
"Get in," the driver finally said. "Just...don't try anything funny, okay?"
Kadsuki urged Jubei over to the door that opened to the back seat and made him open it and climb in before releasing the driver. He didn't want to risk the driver driving away before they could get in the car. Jubei made his way over to the other seat so that Kadsuki could climb in behind him, and after the door closed they were off.
"Ban-chan, why won't anyone stop?" Ginji whined from his place in the front passenger seat. Ban was still laying across the front of the Bug, face-down to keep from getting sunburned, his arms and head resting on the windshield. His shirt was in the front seat of the Bug, although the glass and metal were merciless on his bare arms and the sun was heating up his black tank-top.
"Because they're all assholes," Ban said simply. His life was now slowly flashing before his eyes, which probably wasn't a good sign but at the moment he didn't care. Hevn was either asleep or passed out in the back seat. (Ginji had told him matter-of-factly that she didn't smell yet so she couldn't be dead.)
"Ban-chan, do you think Kadsu-chan and Jubei-kun found a gas station?"
"I hope so. They've been gone for three hours. The only alternative is they died of heat exhaustion."
"Ban-chan, are we going to die?"
Ban thought about that seriously. "Yes. Eventually. But out here? I guess it's possible."
They were both quiet for a very long time. Finally, Ban inhaled deeply before speaking again. "Um...Ginji?"
"If we don't make it out of this alive, I just...I just want you to know...um..."
His voice was suddenly drowned out by the roar of a motorcycle engine as said mode of transportation pulled up alongside the Bug. Both Ban and Ginji blinked, not sure what to make of this turn of events. They were even more surprised when they noticed who was driving the motorcycle....
"Himiko-chan!" Ginji cried, pressing himself against the glass of the window next to his sign. Himiko looked at him for a moment, then at Ban, who had spun himself around and was now sitting up on the front of the Bug.
"Let me guess: you forgot to get gas," Himiko said at last.
Ban put his forehead in his hand. "I didn't forget to get gas. The gas gauge said I had a full tank."
"Himiko-chan, are you here to help us?" Ginji asked hopefully.
Himiko gave Ban one last glare before looking over at Ginji. "Sure. Get in the side-car."
"You're trusting someone who generates electricity with their body around flammable chemicals?" Ban asked her.
"I trust him more than I trust you!" Himiko shot back. She looked into the back seat. "How about her?"
"She won't wake up," Ginji explained, reaching behind him and poking Hevn for effect. Fascinated by the way she jiggled, he did it again.
Himiko leaned against her bike, appearing to be deep in thought. She looked as if the heat hadn't phased her much, and on her motorcycle it probably hadn't. She occasionally looked up at Ban, who was giving her puppy-dog eyes, and back at Ginji, also giving her puppy-dog eyes. She had to resist the urge to pat them on the head and give them a treat.
Sighing, Himiko climbed back onto the motorcycle. She knew she would probably regret doing this in the long run, but she just couldn't help herself. "All right. Get in the side-car," she said to Ban. "But I am only taking you to the gas station. I'll be damned if I have to turn around and inconvenience myself because of your mistake. And if you touch me I swear to any and all Gods that I will throw your ass out onto the side of the road."
"Deal," Ban said excitedly, jumping into the side-car. "Why do you have this, anyway? I thought you only used it when you knew you were going to have other people with you."
"I'm on my way to pick someone up for a job. Now shut up and hang on," Himiko snapped, starting the bike and easing herself onto the seat.
"Hold down the fort, Ginji!" Ban shouted behind him as the bike sped off onto the road.
"How much longer until we reach the next gas station?" Kadsuki asked from his position in the back seat. This car also had no air conditioning, but at least the windows rolled down all the way.
The driver shrugged as the passenger said "Hell if I know."
Kadsuki sighed and leaned back into the seat. The full effect of walking in the heat was finally taking it's toll on him, and he was fighting to keep his eyes open. Deciding sitting up required too much effort, he leaned against Jubei's surprisingly cool bare chest to no complaint from his companion.
"Is the heat finally getting to you?" Jubei asked simply.
Kadsuki nodded against his chest. "I don't work well like this. I was born in the winter. I'm designed for cold climates."
"What's going on back there?" the passenger snapped at them, turning around to face the pair in the back seat.
"He's sick. We've been walking in the hot sun for hours, and before that we were in a car with no air conditioning or windows that rolled down for at least two hours. He needs something to drink," Jubei explained evenly.
The passenger gave him a strange look, apparently unaware of the fact that he couldn't see it. "What are you two? Some kind of queer couple or something?"
"I'm hot, I'm sick, I'm irritable, and we're both armed. I don't suggest you make any more comments like that," Kadsuki warned, annoyed at the remark. Although not ashamed of his relationship or his sexuality, he had issues with people who brought it up to be an insult.
The passenger was apparently not worried about any of the things he'd listed as he waved his hand in front of Jubei's face. "What's your deal, anyway? Can't you open your eyes?"
Kadsuki started to reach for his bells, but Jubei put an arm around him to keep him from doing so. "No, I can't. I'm blind," he said simply. Kadsuki had a wounded look on his face as he said this, which he aimed at the floor.
The passenger turned to the driver. "Get this: we're being held up by a couple of queers! One's a scrawny, girly thing dying of heat exhaustion and the other one is blind!"
The driver stepped on the brakes, sending the passenger, Kadsuki, and Jubei flying forward. "Get out," the driver ordered.
Kadsuki removed his bell and held it up weakly. "Excuse me?"
"I said out. I'm not afraid of any damn string. You don't have the balls the use it, anyway."
Jubei lowered Kadsuki's arm. "Fine. We're leaving."
Kadsuki gave the men in the front seat one last glare as he reattached his bell, then opened the door and climbed out. Jubei picked up his jacket and goggles and followed suit, following the sound of bells to where Kadsuki was standing. As soon as they were clear, the car took off down the road.
"So now what?" Kadsuki asked, watching the car drive off into the distance.
"Now we keep walking. We can't be that far from a gas station now."
Kadsuki nodded. "That sounds like a plan."
And with that, he passed out on the side of the road.
It didn't take long for Ban to wish he had a helmet. He was sick of picking the bugs out of his teeth, the wind hurt his ears, and he wouldn't put it past Himiko to pull the pin connecting the side-car with the bike and sending him careening to his certain doom. Every once in a while he could feel Himiko glance down at him from the corner of her eye before returning her full attention to the road. If looks could kill...
Already feeling a little queasy from Himiko's reckless driving habits, Ban very nearly lost what little he had of his lunch when the bike screeched to a halt. He grasped the front of the side car to keep from flying onto the dusty road. "What the hell was that all about?!" he cried out, mentally praying to any and all deities thanking them for allowing him to live through that.
"Look," Himiko ordered, pointing to the side of the road as she climbed off the bike. Ban did as he was told. Kadsuki was in a heap on the side of the road, with Jubei close by, leaning against a fence post. Although Kadsuki was clearly unconscious, they couldn't be sure about Jubei. Ban climbed out of the side-car to check the pair's vitals while Himiko took a bottle of water out of the bag on the bottom of her side-car.
"They're alive," Ban told her calmly. Although he didn't have much sentimental attachment to them, Ginji did.
"I could have told you that," a voice told him coolly. He turned around to see Jubei slowly pulling himself to his feet. "And please tell me I am talking to Midou Ban and not a mirage."
"That's Ban," Himiko assured him. "And I really am Kudo Himiko. I have some water."
"Give it to him," Jubei instructed her. "I'll be fine. Better off than him, anyway. But he needs it."
Himiko nodded and crouched over Kadsuki's body. She knew him pretty well from their experience at Mugenjyou, but did she know him well enough to pry his mouth open and force water down his throat? She hoped so as she pulled on his jaw gently, forcing his mouth open, and pouring a minute bit in, waiting to see if he swallowed or if she would have to tip him on his side to keep him from drowning. Much to her relief he drank the water, which encouraged her to pour more into his mouth.
After a few repetitions of this, Kadsuki finally sputtered and coughed, turning onto his side on his own and spitting out the last mouthful of water. He slowly sat up, looking around him at all the people who were standing around him.
"What the hell?" he asked, coughing up a bit more water. "Where am I? And what are you doing here?"
"You're in the middle of nowhere, and we're here to save your life," Himiko explained, a bit insulted that he didn't thank her.
Kadsuki looked at her, noticed the bottle of water in her hand, and smiled. "Oh. Thanks, I guess. I passed out?"
"A while ago," Jubei confirmed. "No one has been stopping, either."
Himiko looked at them both, then over at Ban. Then she mentally cursed herself for being too nice. "I can give you two a ride if you're willing to share a side-car."
"And where am I going to ride?" Ban asked, pretty sure this meant he was going to be left on the side of the road.
Himiko glared at him again before pointing to a place on her stomach, just above her navel. "Your hands stay here. Any higher or any lower I throw you off my bike without stopping it. Understand?"
Ban raised an eyebrow. She was actually going to let him touch her? Well, heat did strange things to people...
Jubei helped Kadsuki over to the side-car, and Ban got on the back of the motorcycle, making sure he didn't touch any of the off-limits regions, and with that they were off.
"That was nice of Himiko-chan to give you all a ride," Ginji said. The sun had already set, and they were just now back on the road, this time making sure they had an extra tank of gas. Hevn was also awake, but Jubei and Kadsuki had fallen asleep.
Ban tried not to think of the painful bruises dotting his body from when he had jokingly told Himiko that being that close to her on that bike had done things to him. Fortunately she had agreed to give him a ride back, as long as he got in the side-car and Kadsuki rode on the back of the bike. "Yeah, she's a real doll," he muttered through gritted teeth. Although the air conditioning was still out of commission, by kicking the door of the Bug he had managed to get the driver's side window to roll down, letting in the rapidly cooling night air.
"Remind me to never travel with you two again," Hevn told them. "You're both bad luck. You're bad luck with money and you're bad luck with traveling."
"Gladly," Ban told her, taking his pack of cigarettes from his jacket pocket and lighting it. The lighter was new, having left his usual one in the car. It said "Nowhere Gas" on it, and when he tipped it upside down the lady's clothes fell off. No one else had found it amusing on nearly as many levels as he had.
They were quiet at Ban took an appreciative drag from the cigarette. Stars had begun to dot the night sky. It was a calming effect, almost making him forget the stressful day he had just had.
"Ne, Ban-chan?" Ginji asked softly.
"Hn." Ban acknowledged, not really in the mood to speak.
"When we though we were going to die, you started to tell me something. Um...what were you going to say?"
Ban thought it over. Should he tell him now that they were probably going to live? Nah. Save it for the next time they thought they were dying. "I don't remember. Probably just the heat making me talk."
"Oh. Okay," Ginji told him with a nod, disappointment tinging his voice. Ban tossed his cigarette out the window, which ignited a passing tumbleweed, which rolled off to cause destruction and mayhem elsewhere....
End of Chapter One
*Cue Goo's Stupidity*
Next Chapter of Get Backers: "The Hotel of the Goshoku Sisters". Look forward to it!
Any similarity between anyone living or dead is purely coincidental unless other wise noted.