Goo's Notes- Um.... besides that this is the last Goshoku chapter, no notes today! *Does a little jig, hoping to distract from the fact she hardly remembers any of the characters' attack names and she sucks at writing battles.*

Wilhelm's Manuscript

Chapter Four: Get Backers vs. the Goshoku Sisters

By A Girl Named Goo

Ban looked around the dark, sterile room. It smelled heavily of cleaner and medicine, and besides the sounds coming from one monitor he could hear the clicking and whirring of various equipment. The man who had greeted him had now lapsed into a severe coughing fit, and after he threw away the tissues in his hand he grabbed an oxygen mask.

"What's going on here?!" Ban snapped, the shock of the sudden coughing fit having worn off.

The man wheezed into the mask before removing it from his face, his voice sounding like it belonged to a very old man on his deathbed. "Your friends.... will not be harmed....," he reassured. He had a shorter coughing fit, this time just barely reaching the tissues in time. When this coughing fit had passed he said the next sentence all in one breath to keep from interrupting it with coughing or wheezing. "I am repaying a debt."

The man's eyes remained fixed on the monitors. Ban remained standing in one spot for a long time, waiting for the man to speak again. Finally, he gasped out "Come and....watch. It's.... not contagious." Ban swallowed and walked over to the wall of monitors, hoping to find any answers. His eyes immediately fixed on one, where Ginji was trying to open a door, Kaneko slowly approaching him. The monitor was black and white, and obviously had some sort of night vision on.

"Who are you?" Ban asked, looking down at the man in the black desk chair, who had slowly wheeled himself into the darkness of the other side of the room when he had approached the monitors.

"Professor Amaya.... Hajime," he said slowly, coughing hard into some tissues again. He slowly wheeled himself closer to the monitors now that Ban had chosen a spot. Ban had to admit he was surprised by what he saw. He had expected an old man, from the sound of his voice and poor health. Instead, in the chair, sat a man who couldn't even have been thirty yet. His hair was slightly wavy, but stringy from sweat and lack of care. His eyes were silvery grey and bloodshot, and his face was gaunt and skeletal. He wore a simple black kimono that was slipping off his thin shoulder. On and around his lips were flecks of blood from his coughing. He was so shrunken and frail Ban had to wonder how he could still be alive at that moment. He paused to cough into his tissues again, wiping the blood off of his mouth afterwards. "I own this.... establishment," he choked out. "Enjoy...the show."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kadsuki glared at Kozeniko, holding his bells between his fingers in a way similar to the way she was holding her coins. Jubei had also drawn his needles in preparation for the fight.

"The Damakei Coin Technique," Kadsuki said, almost contemptuously, looking at the coins Kozeniko was holding. "No one has learned that style in fifteen years. No one has used it since the Damakei patriarch died five years ago."

Kozeniko laughed bitterly. "So my father finally died? Good." As Kadsuki raised his eyebrows at this remark Kozeniko continued her mirthless laughter. "Hmm....this should be interesting. How well can the Damakei Coin Technique fair against the Fuchoin String Technique and Kakei Needle Technique at the same time?"

"Why are you doing this?" Kadsuki asked. "What did we ever do to you?"

Kozeniko suddenly stopped laughing, her golden eyes narrowed. "I don't like you," she said simply. "Either one of you. You're nosy, you extorted information from my sister, and you don't like to leave the past where it belongs: in the past."

"Your sister could have chosen not to talk to us," Jubei pointed out.

Kozeniko's grip on her coins tightened. Suddenly, she held up her left hand and flicked her wrist. The four coins she had been holding sailed toward Kadsuki and Jubei, spinning wildly. They barely had time to register what she had done, and as Kadsuki used two strings to knock the two heading toward him out of the air, Jubei managed to deflect one with a needle. The other was about to hit his shoulder, but Kadsuki stopped it with his string. Kadsuki turned to glare at her. She already had more coins between her fingers, poised to release them...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Sorry? Sorry for what?!" Hevn cried out. Kusakiko sighed and lifted her arm from her side, slowly, up to her shoulder. Vines had begun to shoot out of the walls. Hevn stepped on one of them, but another wrapped tightly around her. Himiko saw this, quickly reached for her disintegration scent, and released it on the source of the vine holding Hevn, causing it to fall limply to the floor. Spinning around, she gave the one coming up to get her the same treatment.

Kusakiko dropped her hand, tears shining in her eyes. "I am not a fighter. I am not even a healer. What good is a doctor that cannot cure?"

Himiko looked at her oddly. "What are you talking about?"

Kusakiko swallowed. "I was the Miracle Worker. I could save anyone. And when that little girl was brought to me... I tried everything, I really did! But.... she was gone. I wasn't a healer. I was a fraud."

"What does that have to do with anything?" Hevn cried. Another pair of vines grabbed her wrists and pulled her against the wall. Himiko raised her perfume again to have it struck from her grasp. The bottle rolled just out of reach, but when Himiko dove for it the cement in the floor burst, and a large, angry-looking carnivorous flower sprouted in front of the bottle. She shrunk back from it.

"No one wanted someone who could do this," Kusakiko continued, her voice sad and detached. "I ruined my older sister's life by making her leave out family with me. And for what? So she could protect a freak like me? A freak who can't help anyone?"

Himiko dodged another vine and grabbed her flame scent, inhaling it and blowing fire at the vine. It immediately shriveled up. She applied this same treatment to two more vines, but when she tried it on the carnivorous flower it just recoiled a bit, then began to snap at her.

"I won't fail this time!" Kusakiko shouted. Suddenly, several pods that had been blending in with the vegetation on the wall burst open, revealing several different coloured flowers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ban looked back at Amaya, cracking his knuckles. The man in the chair didn't even flinch. "You didn't answer my question! What's going on here?!"

Amaya paused for a coughing fit before he spoke, blood still trailing from his mouth. "I owe.... Jakob Grimm... a favor. He told me.... to find.... the negotiator-" another coughing fit. "Of the Get Backers. He would.... tell her.... about.... this place. I would.... handle.... the rest."

"He told her about this place?! Hevn met Jakob?!" Ban cried out.

Amaya shook his head slowly. "Not that.... she knows." He collapsed into coughing again, and Ban turned back to the monitors.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Akabane smiled as he looked into Kuroko's eyes. They were entirely black. No irises, no whites. He might of been unnerved, had it not confirmed his suspicion of the girl that he had had the entire time he had been at the hotel.

"Tell me, Kuroko-san, how long have you been dead?" he asked simply.

Kuroko didn't seem too surprised that he knew this. She answered coldly, evenly, "almost ten years."

Akabane nodded. "And how did you die?"

"I killed myself."

"The souls of suicides do not rest. Why did you take your own life?"

Kuroko lowered her eyes again. "Love."

Akabane raised an eyebrow, his smile not wavering. "Love?"

"I was forbidden from seeing the boy that I loved most. We were to die together. After I started, he panicked and ran. He told everyone that I had been attacked. I couldn't rest. I had been betrayed, my cause of death was a lie, and I had taken my own life."

Akabane nodded slowly. "And so in the end you died for nothing."

Kuroko didn't move. She simply said, slowly, "Can you lay me to rest?"

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Nice room, Etsu- er, Kikaiko-chan," Emishi noted sarcastically, looking at the tanks of insects. Shido looked at him for a moment, and then back at Kikaiko. The edge of her mouth was twitching slightly in anger.

"All you had to do was apologize," she said quietly. "You never tried. You told me to lighten up, that I had to forgive you, that it was long ago, but you never apologized! You never admitted you were wrong!" The glare off her glasses vanished. The look on her face was one of pure rage. "I trusted you!"

She opened her mouth, but kept her teeth tightly clenched. A loud buzzing noise filled the room, and all of the tanks fell over, the insects held within them scrambling out and climbing down the tables the tanks had been on, onto the floor and toward Shido and Emishi.

"Do something," Emishi hissed into Shido's ear. He tried to whip the insects, but they parted just as it was about to strike.

"Do what?" Shido asked back. He kicked off a hissing cockroach that had climbed onto his boot, but more began to climb up his other.

"Anything! You're the Beast Master!"

"These are insects. I have no power over them."

Emishi looked at Shido, who was allowing the insects to crawl up his legs, and then back at Kikaiko. He suddenly leapt from the insects that were trying to crawl up his legs toward her. The buzzing stopped as the whip struck her arm, and the insects began to wander around aimlessly, some changing their course and leaving Shido alone.

"You should not have done that," Kikaiko said through clenched teeth.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Kaneko-chan, please open the door!" Ginji begged her, trying to get it open. He suddenly had a very bad feeling about being alone in a room with her, and he didn't want to find out the reason for it.

A pouty look appeared on Kaneko's face. "Why, Ginji-kun? I thought we were friends. I just wanted to show you my room." Kaneko looked into Ginji's eyes, smiling sweetly. "Why are you afraid of me? Is it how I look?" Her voice suddenly got lower. "Or is it because I can do THIS!" Ginji narrowly missed her hand, which collided with the metal where he had been standing. When she drew it back he realized in horror that the metal was now flattened in the shape of her hand.

"Iron grip," she said softly, smiling. Ginji looked at the handprint. If she wasn't as strong as Ban, she had to be close. He turned around quickly, just in time to her hand heading toward his neck.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ban looked angrily between the monitor and Amaya, who was holding his blood-spattered mask to his mouth again. "What is she?!"

Amaya lowered his mask. To Ban's surprise, he was smiling. "She is.... a miracle," he said simply, coughing hard into the wad of tissue in his hand.

"A miracle?" Ban asked, staring at him like he was insane.

Amaya nodded slowly. "She is.... free from all....pain. Free from all-" he coughed again. "All illness.... Free from.... death. She.... is.... perfection. Youth.... life.... and yet, emotion.... and feeling..."

Ban looked at the screen again. Kaneko had her hand flat on Ginji's chest, pressing him against the wall.

"What did you do to her?!" he demanded, glaring at Amaya.

Amaya took several deep breaths of the purified air in his mask before he spoke. "When I.... first got.... sick. I need.... a cure. She was.... a runaway. She needed.... a home. So I took-" he coughed hard into the tissues and discarded them, grabbing another handful. "I took her... here, and changed.... all of her cells. Permeated... them with.... metal. Indescribable. Ageless."

Ban turned around and leaned over Amaya's chair. "She's a machine!"

Amaya continued to cough into his mask before speaking. "She.... is what...medicine was created.... for. I have.... found the secret...of life. And youth." He coughed again, this time into his tissues. "It's.... a secret that.... shall go to the.... grave with me. If you wish."

Ban backed away from him. "What do you mean, 'if I wish'?"

Amaya gestured at the monitors. "All of this. My.... girls. My debt. They mean.... nothing. I will...be dead soon. With Kusakiko-" He coughed into the tissues. "Kusakiko prolonging.... my worthless life, I still.... have no more.... than a couple weeks. I'm.... suffering. It's-" He coughed again. "It's my...fault I am.... like this. I.... accept that. And....I don't wish.... to live anymore."

Ban already didn't like where he was going with this. He didn't want him to say those words. He had to distract him...

"How is this your fault?" he asked quickly.

Amaya attempted a hoarse laugh, which disintegrated into a coughing fit. "I...was a man of science. In... my lab we were....experimenting with....a rare virus. There...there was an accident. And then.... I was infected." He coughed into the tissues and reached for his mask, taking several deep breaths before he continued. "It's been.... eating me from the.... inside out. My skin...became unable to...handle any light.... but the filtered light...of my monitors. And my bones.... are collapsing." He coughed into the tissue harder now, and Ban could see it was now covered in blood. "Now.... my lungs are being...eaten by it. I.... can’t breathe. It hurts.... to talk...and all-" He coughed hard again before his voice got shockingly loud, echoing in the mostly empty room. "All I do is cough!"

Ban looked at the screen where Ginji and Kaneko had been fighting, but the screen had gone blank. "Ginji!" he cried, running to the door and trying to pull it open. He began to pound on it with all of his strength, and while it was dented he couldn't budge it.

"Kaneko.... didn’t like.... being in here...at first," Amaya explained. "You are.... stronger than she.... is. But I.... didn’t know...how strong she...would be. So that.... that door. That wall. This whole room.... you’d need twice your.... strength to break out. A nuclear.... warhead couldn't.... destroy this place."

"Let me out!" Ban told him warningly.

"I have.... the switch to.... open it on my.... person. I will.... open it if...you will do one thing for me."

Ban knew what was coming next. "What? What do I have to do?"

Amaya coughed hard into a new wad of tissue. "Kill me."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ginji was shoved against the wall with the force of being hit by a car. He could feel his ribs beginning to crack beneath Kaneko's hand. Realizing he had no choice he released all of the electricity he'd been building inside of him at her, filling the room with blinding flashes of light, destroying the camera. The hand moved off his chest, and Ginji was sure that it had worked...until he looked over at her.

She was standing perfectly still in front of him, her clothes burnt but otherwise unharmed. In fact, the electricity was still crackling through her body as she stared at him, her eyes sparking with the current. Her headband had shattered, causing ruby-like pieces to fall to the floor and cling to her silvery hair.

"Were you trying to hurt me, Ginji-kun?" she asked, genuine hurt tingeing her voice. She clenched her teeth and pulled her right hand into a fist. "That wasn't very nice!" she shouted, charging at him. Ginji narrowly dodged the punch, and Kaneko's fist buried itself into the metal wall, the electricity flowing through her body flowing out of her and into the wall as she did. The lights flickered off momentarily, and there was a loud clicking noise. But before anyone could register what that meant, the lights turned back on and another loud clicking followed.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kadsuki blinked in the momentary darkness before he dodged another coin. He wanted to put up his string barrier, but Kozeniko wasn't giving him enough time. He looked over at her as the lights flickered back on, and she had released eight more at them. Jubei managed to pierce two with his needles, and as they clattered to the floor Kadsuki could see the needles were still piercing the gold coins. In this moment of distraction he felt one collide with his shoulder and roll over it, ripping his sleeve and cutting his shoulder open. He almost dropped his bells, and narrowly missed another.

Jubei had also taken some damage to his arm from two of the coins. He threw more needles at her, and again they pierced her coins. Kadsuki sent a string to her, which successfully wrapped around her wrist, but a stray coin broke the string. Realizing she was now unarmed, she reached over and broke one of the cases of coins with her bare fist, reaching in for the coins the case contained. Kadsuki saw his chance and released more strings toward her, just as she had released two handfuls of coins. Their attacks both connected, Kozeniko landing on the floor wrapped in a tight string cocoon, Jubei and Kadsuki both sinking to the floor as the coins embedded themselves into their legs.

Kozeniko looked over at them contemptuously. "It doesn't matter," she said, struggling slightly against her string prison. "I was only supposed to distract you, not kill you." She laughed, a dry, harsh sound. "You're not going anywhere until my boss says you are."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Emishi took a step back, not liking the sound of Kikaiko's voice one bit. She held up both of her hands, and her fingernails began to grow very long. "Bee sting!" she cried out, and the long fingernails shot at Emishi. He deflected them with his whip, but realized at the last minute he had just landed in a group of retreating insects. The buzzing noise filled the room again, and they all changed their course and began to scurry up his legs.

Suddenly, Kikaiko was knocked to the ground, the buzzing noise stopping again. Her shirt and vest had four long gashed across the front of them, and her glasses had been cast askew. She quickly reached up and adjusted them, looking at Shido, who had a feral look on his face. Slowly getting back to her feet, the buzzing noise began again. This time, however, all of the insects crawled away from Emishi, this time making their way toward her. Shido's beast transformation faded as he watched them all crawling up her legs. She didn't even flinch as they climbed higher and higher, until she was completely covered with insects. Only her glasses were insect-free, protecting her eyes as she glared at the two men, daring them to attack.

"That's not good," Emishi assessed.

Shido had changed again. He made rapid slashing movements at Kikaiko, only to slash through the insects as he connected. More covered the place in her arm that had been shed. Emishi aimed at her and managed to connect with her legs, causing her to fall to the floor, the insects scurrying away to avoid their demise just in time. The buzzing stopping, and the insects fled from her body, leaving her on her knees on the floor.

"Had enough?" Emishi asked her, a self-satisfied smile appearing on his face.

Kikaiko looked up at him, a smile also on her face. She let out one humorless laugh. Then the room filled with a loud buzzing, joined by still more buzzing sounds. Emishi lunged at Kikaiko again, but missed as an insect flew toward him and stung him in the shoulder. He glanced upward and saw a large swarm of angry-looking red wasps above them. Kikaiko raised her hand, and several flew toward Emishi and Shido. The swarm, after each one took their turn stinging them, flew back into the back of the room.

"Now I've had enough," Kikaiko said. She began to pace around their forms, which had sunk helplessly to the floor. "Their venom isn't toxic. At least, not enough to kill you. It took a lot just to paralyze you like this. It'll wear off in a few hours." She suddenly took a bottle out of her vest pocket and threw it so it was just out of Shido's reach. "That's the antidote. When it starts to wear off, take that and you'll feel fine. Kusakiko prepared it. You'll have to thank her."

"Say it," Shido hissed softly to Emishi.

"Say what?" Emishi choked out, trying to move and finding himself unable to.

"This is all your fault."

Emishi looked at Kikaiko, who had started to walk to the unlit back of the room. "I'm sorry," he forced through clenched teeth.

Kikaiko froze in her steps. "What?" she asked.

"I'm sorry," Emishi repeated. He mustered up all of the strength he could and shouted, "I'm sorry!"

Kikaiko fell to her knees.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"What?" Ban said softly, facing the small figure of Amaya.

"Kill me," he repeated. "I will let.... your friends go...if you will promise to kill me."

With a flash, an image of Yamato on the floor, in pain, demanding that Ban end his life for him...

Ban shook his head, trying to clear the image from his mind. "The power already went out once. It won't be long."

Amaya smiled softly. "There...hasn't been...any more power...surges. You don't.... know what.... your friend is doing.... right now," he pointed out. "You are.... a nice enough man. Reasonable. I.... am suffering. You would.... be doing me.... a favor."

Ban glared angrily at Amaya. How dare he do this to him? To his friends? "No," Ban told him. "I won't kill you. They'll get out on their own."

Amaya laughed again, and again it dissolved into a coughing fit. "Do you...honestly want to...take that risk? My girls.... they are strong. Just say-" He coughed into the tissues. "Say it, Midou Ban. And....I will let them.... go."

Ban punched the door with all of his might. Another dent formed in it, but it again didn't move. "I won't kill you," he repeated firmly.

Amaya nodded. "Then your friends.... will die."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Akabane smiled to himself. "Put you to rest?"

Kuroko nodded. "You must know how. You knew I was dead. You know why I can't rest. End this. Please, end this."

Akabane pretended to think this over. "Why should I?" he asked finally. "Where is the fun of killing someone who wants to die? Who is already dead?"

"You must have some compassion!"

"What would you say if I told you I didn't know how to lay you to rest?"

Kuroko stepped toward him. "I don't believe you!"

"It's the truth."

"NO!"

Kuroko lunged at Akabane, blood suddenly smearing the front of her white kimono, streaming from her eyes, covering her hands...

Akabane dodged neatly and held up his scalpels. "You are being punished. I cannot interfere with that. However, you could still be fun."

Kuroko's dark eyes were now nothing but hollow sockets. The flesh on her face was sinking in, clinging to her skull. She screamed and lunged at Akabane again, more blood covering her as she did so. Akabane slashed her neatly with his scalpels, and her kimono fell off, revealing her skeletal frame, her flesh hanging off of her in strips. The candles flickered as she dove at him again. This time he allowed her to hit him and bounce back to the floor ineffectually. As she lay on the floor her skin and kimono became whole again. Kuroko got on her knees and stared at her hands. The only wounds that remained were the gashed down her arms, and she stared at them both, screaming into the dim room.

Akabane looked down at her, his smile gone. She collapsed into tears, whispering things like "end this" and "put me to rest".

"You aren't as interesting as I thought you would be," Akabane told her simply. With one sweep of his hand, he knocked over all of the candles and ignited the flowers.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Kusakiko had tears running down her face as the flowers bloomed around her. Hevn squirmed in her vine prison, try to get away from the ones closest to her. Himiko just stood in the center of the room, not daring to move toward any of the blooms. Kusakiko looked up and met her eyes.

"They were watching you," she explained, sniffing loudly. "If you use one of your scents, they'll emulate it. They're ready to counter your every physical attack. They all just want to protect me."

Himiko looked at the vines that were poised to grab her, at the blooms ready to return her scents, at the carnivorous flower that seemed to have sprouted companions. She finally looked up at Kusakiko, who was crying, waiting for the fight to finish.

"Why are you doing this to us?" Himiko demanded to know, stepping on a vine that had reached out to snake around her ankle.

"Because this is my home!" Kusakiko cried out. "If I want to keep living here I must do as I was told! I'm not free like you are!"

"Free from what?" Hevn asked. A vine snaked over and covered her mouth.

"Just hold still until it's over!" Kusakiko ordered Hevn sharply. She turned to Himiko. "I don't want to hurt you, but if you try to hurt me then I'll have to. My only instructions were to keep you here until I was told to let you go. If you...if you wait just a little while longer then everything will be okay and you can go whenever you like."

Himiko knew she had no choice. She was surrounded. Her primary weapons were useless, and physical attacks would be equally fruitless. She had no choice but to trust Kusakiko's words and stand perfectly still.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ginji rolled out of the way of another of Kaneko's punches, breathing heavily and staring at her. "Why, Kaneko-chan?" he asked her, not sure how long he could keep avoiding her.

"Because I have to!" she shouted, aiming at him again. He rolled out of the way onto the floor and she glared at him. "If you were my real friend you would understand that!"

"You don't have to!" Ginji insisted, jumping out of the way of a low punch. "No one can make you do this!"

Kaneko shook her head, putting her hands over her ears. "NO! I am not going back out there!"

Ginji pressed himself against the wall for stability. "Out where?" he asked, edging toward the door. If he could just distract her for a moment...

"I'm not like you!" she screamed. She was clearly crying, shaking her head as if it would make this all end. "What he did to me...I won't forgive him! He made me a monster! A machine! A freak! And now he wants me to be his slave!"

Instead of asking her who she meant, Ginji felt the doorknob and gripped it, firing all of his remaining electricity into it. The fluorescent lights burst, and with a loud click the door was unlocked. He threw the door open and ran toward the only room Kaneko wouldn't enter...

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Lights flickered off all over the hotel, and all of the doors opened. Jubei and Kadsuki rushed from the room they had been trapped in followed by Shido and Emishi (having been given the antidote after Emishi apologized). Seeing her opportunity, she used the flame scent on the vines restraining Hevn, grabbed her hand, and ran out the door, joining Kadsuki and Jubei who were following Ginji in the hall. Himiko looked behind her and noticed Akabane was behind them, walking briskly rather than running with them. Ginji pushed open the door at the end of the hall, which was pitch black, and Amaya looked up at them, Ban hovering over him, barely visible in the faint light from the electricity still crackling through Ginji's body.

"Who is this?!" Hevn all but screeched, looking at Amaya.

Amaya smiled faintly, his shock from the sight of the crowd having worn off. "Amaya Hajime," he gasped out. He coughed hard into his tissues. "Midou-san...here...was just about to.... finish my life."

Ban gave everyone an apologetic look, then pulled his hand back, ready to strike when...

"STOP IT!" a voice shouted from the back of the crowd, which promptly parted. The Goshoku Sisters ran into the room, lead by Kusakiko. Kozeniko was still pulling remnants of string off of her, Kuroko was carrying a candle, Kikaiko's vest was torn, and Kaneko was bringing up the rear, approaching slowly.

"I'm his doctor!" Kusakiko told Ban furiously. "I can't let you kill him! I can't because.... because as long as there's life then there's hope! I could find a cure! I just have to look! But he's not your patient! You can't let him die!"

Amaya looked at Kusakiko, eyes wide with shock and emotion. He looked back at Ban, who drew his hand back again and plunged it into his chest....

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

Ban lit a cigarette as he looked down at Amaya, who had fallen to the floor. "Just one minute," he told him plainly. Amaya gasped and stared at Ban, then looked behind him. On one side of the room were the guests of his hotel. On the other were the Goshoku Sisters. None of them looked any worse for wear.

"Kusakiko-san was most informative," Kadsuki explained. "She told us what you planned to do with us right after breakfast. All of it. She brought us into the kitchen so that you couldn't see us on the cameras. She also told us she thought you were going to end your life. She didn't want you to die, so she all but begged us to help."

"I knew I had to get in here somehow," Ban continued. "So we agreed to make it look like we fell for your trap. That way you could also show Jakob the tapes of the fights and say you paid off your debt, which Kozeniko-san told us all about."

Ginji finished the story. "After Kaneko-chan returned my electricity to the wall the power went out, just like we planned. Then Ban-chan started using his jagan on you while we all made our way back here."

Kusakiko approached Amaya, helping him back into the chair. "Amaya-san, you can't die yet," she told him softly, tears in her eyes. "I don't want to just treat you anymore. I want to cure you."

Amaya was silent. He looked at Kusakiko, then the other sisters, then the Get Backers, and finally at Ban, who smiled and stepped out his cigarette. "So tell me: did you have a nice dream?"

Amaya nodded slowly. "Yes. Yes.... as a matter of fact.... I think I did."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"Thank you so much," Kusakiko said, embracing Kadsuki suddenly. He barely had a chance to register what she had done before she released him. "Oh...and this belongs to you." She handed him a videotape. He blushed and quickly knelt down to put it in the bag by his feet.

"Sure going to miss having you all around," Kozeniko added, reaching out and pinching Himiko's rear. When she spun around and looked at her, her anger subsided as Kozeniko winked at her.

Kaneko jumped up onto Ginji, who fell over beneath her weight. "You'll have to come and visit again soon when you're not working!" she told him. Ginji, unable to breathe with the weight on his chest, just nodded.

The Get Backers and the Goshoku Sisters were all in the reception area of the hotel, saying their good-byes. At least, most of them were...

"Where'd Emishi go?" Shido asked suddenly, scanning the group.

Kozeniko also seemed to be doing a head count. "Kikaiko isn't here, either."

Ginji, finally free to stand up now that Kaneko was off him, looked around as well. "Hey.... isn’t she....?"

Ban stepped on Ginji's foot, remembering how Kadsuki mentioned that three of the sisters had come from Mugenjyou but didn't want the other two to know. He cried out and turned to glare at Ban. "What did you do that for?"

"Wait until we're in the car."

~*~*~*~*~*~*~

"So after all this time you're finally willing to admit you're wrong," Kikaiko said softly, looking at Emishi.

He shrugged and looked around the empty dining, rubbing the back of his head. "Yeah, well, ya know...I was just thinking about it.... and I guess it was my fault. I'm also sorry you got caught up in all of this mess."

Kikaiko sighed and looked down at her feet. "Maybe...it's better things worked out this way. I believe things happen for a reason sometimes. Just like you and me meeting here again."

Emishi nodded. "Maybe you should come with us. The pay's not great, but we're totally free and hey, we always were a great team. Shinjuku won't know what hit it!"

"I can't come with you," Kikaiko explained. "My place is here with my sisters." She suddenly smiled at him. "But you're right: we were definitely something." She kissed him on the cheek and then pushed open the door to the reception area. Emishi was frozen for a few moments, before turning and following her.

"Shido-kun! She smiled! I won the bet!" Emishi cried out. "See? She-" He looked at Kikaiko, whose face was frozen in its cold expression again.

"I didn't see it so it doesn't count," Shido told him briskly.

"But...but she was smiling in there! Tell him, Kikaiko-chan! Tell him!" Emishi cried, looking at Kikaiko. She looked at him like he was crazy.

Hevn's cell phone rang, and everyone went quiet as she reached into her cleavage and pulled it out, flipping it open. "Moshi moshi," she said. She was quiet for a long time, her face growing steadily grimmer as she listened. "All right. I understand. I'll tell them." She closed her phone and put it back in her "storage compartment". "Jakob Grimm salvaged the manuscript while we were busy here this morning," she announced. "But Wilhelm's men intercepted it afterwards. Now it's in Wilhelm's mansion. On the other side of the city."

Everyone was quiet for a long time, as if processing this news. Finally, Ban heaved a huge sigh. "Well, then I guess we'd better get going."

After another round of exchanged good-byes. As Ban was about to step out (being at the rear of the crowd), Kusakiko put a hand on his shoulder. "Midou-san, I usually give this to all the guests who stay here, but we've been too busy lately to make more than one," she explained, putting something in his hand. "It's very special. I'm the only person who can grow the kind of herb used for it." As Ban walked out into the brutal summer sun he looked down at the object in his hand: a pale green bar of soap.

Everyone began to head to their respective modes of transportation; Hevn, Kadsuki, and Jubei climbing into the back of the Bug (rather warily) as Ginji and Ban took the front seats, Emishi and Shido getting into a rather questionable looking pick-up truck, and Himiko getting on her motorcycle as Akabane got into the side car. Emishi happened to glance at the doorway of the hotel as he pulled out and noticed Kikaiko was standing there, smiling and waving at him.

"Shido-kun! Look! She's smiling now!" he cried out, hitting the brakes and pointing at the door. Just as Shido looked up Kikaiko retreated into the hotel.

"Stop goofing off and drive," he ordered. Emishi stammered helpless for a few moments, then finally, still sulking, stepped on the gas to follow the others out onto the road.

End of Chapter Four

*Cue Goo's Stupidity*

Next Chapter of Get Backers: "Endloser Palast, Inside the Fortress of Wilhelm Grimm". Look forward to it!

Any similarity between anyone living or dead is purely coincidental unless other wise noted.