Ban has left for parts unknown, and Ginji's picking up the pieces. Unrequited shounen-ai. (Written for the theme 'A Cold Rain' in the 20themes community on LiveJournal.)
His apartment, paid for by regular work at a nice steady job. He had a real bed to sleep in every night, and even months after moving in, it was still frighteningly new to him. He hadn't slept in a bed regularly since he'd left Mugenjou with Ban. He hadn't slept alone at all, since then. Always, there was Ban in the car next to him. Always, there were the reassuring sounds of deep breathing and the odd mumbled curse as Ban tried to find a more comfortable position and banged his knee into the gearshift.
The apartment, by comparison, was depressingly empty.
What he needed was a girlfriend, he thought. Or maybe a boyfriend... No, bad idea. He wasn't really adverse to the possibility, but being with a man would remind him too much of Ban, and Ginji didn't like to dwell on things he'd never had. It wouldn't be fair to ask some stranger to live up to his fantasies of Midou Ban. No one real could match the things he dreamed about, anyway. Probably not even Ban himself.
Six months had passed since Ban had disappeared without a word, leaving Ginji to fend for himself. He'd thought about continuing in the retrieval business, but decided against it. Without the "s" in "GetBackers", he was just Amano Ginji. And so he went to Paul, who knew about money and normal jobs, and asked for help.
What followed was a crash course in finding a job, getting a bank account, all those things which had been so terribly unimportant before. He needed records for schools he'd never gone to, legal identification... A fictional life created just for him. Paul had been happy to help, perhaps feeling sorry for him, perhaps just seeing that, with a regular job, Ginji could begin to pay off the huge tab he and Ban had accumulated. And it was Paul, oddly enough, who proved the most sympathetic.
Paul had sought out contacts Ginji never knew he had, and finally told him that Ban had probably gone back to Europe, that he likely felt he had things to take care of there. What he couldn't explain was why Ban hadn't taken Ginji with him. Ginji's other friends had been less understanding. From them, all he got were variations on "I knew he'd screw you over eventually." Himiko had been the worst of all.
"Haven't you figured it out by now, Ginji? Fire is hot. Water is wet. And Midou Ban is a betraying bastard. Just get over it, already."
Ginji's response had come in a flat voice, anger and hurt and sheer frustration all rising, warring, and finally cancelling each other out, leaving only exhaustion. "Why should I, Himiko-san? You haven't."
She hadn't spoken to him for weeks, after that. When they did start speaking again, he didn't apologize, and she didn't ask him to.
Ginji had mostly adjusted to life without Ban, but there were still nights when he woke confused, wondering why he wasn't in the Ladybug, and where Ban was. And then there were nights like this one, colder than they should be, when he half-believed that one of those figures scurrying through the rain would be the Invincible Midou Ban-sama, coming back to bitch at him for giving up the GetBackers in favor of some mundane toy store job.
Ginji let himself imagine it: Ban would appear out of the torrential downpour like some vengeful (or at least very grumpy) ghost, and head inside the building, up to the second-floor apartment. He'd drip water all over the floor and curse the weather, the traffic, the fact that his cigarettes were soaked. And Ginji... Ginji would brush away the wet tendrils of hair that clung to Ban's face. He'd slide his hands under Ban's soaked shirt and the equally soaked tank top beneath it, savoring the feel of the chilled skin under his hands. When they kissed, he'd taste rain and tobacco smoke.
Right, he thought. And then the sky would turn green and it would start raining strawberry Pocky. And maybe puppies would appear out of nowhere to frolic around them in some kind of cosmic recognition of their True Love.
He laughed to himself, equal parts wistful and bitter, tasting tears on his own lips.
"Hey, Ban-chan." Ginji pressed hand and forehead to the cold glass of the window, looking west through the curtain of rain. He spoke in little more than a whisper. "You always used to hear when I called for you. You could always feel when I was hurt or in trouble. Can you hear me now? Can you feel how much I miss you?
"I think about you a lot. Tonight especially. Don't ask for the details; they'd probably just make you hit me. But I'm doing okay. I'm still working at the toy store, and I got some new mecha figures today. I wish you were here to laugh at them. I set them up around my bed, so it looks like I'm sleeping in the middle of an epic robot battle." He laughed again, his breath fogging the glass in front of him. "Dumb, huh?
"There's not much else to say. Everyone's doing fine, and the only thing that's really new is that Madoka's pregnant again. She and Shido don't waste any time, do they? They're probably going to end up with ten millon babies by the time they're done. Sometimes I think of having kids of my own, now that I've got a normal job. I'd just have to find the right girl. But I don't know if most people can have more than one right person. Kazu-chan does, but he's special. And I think I've already found mine.
"...I miss you so much. I'm sure you had a good reason for leaving. And I guess that's okay. But nothing feels real anymore now that you're gone. I keep thinking I'm going to wake up and see you there, and the past six months will have been just a dream. Like you used the Jagan on me as a really bad joke. So whenever you want to come back and be the GetBackers again, just stop by, okay?
"I don't care how long it takes. Just come back."
Ginji stared out the window a moment longer. The slightest of shivers ran down his spine; maybe a presence, maybe an answer. Maybe it was just cold by the window.
It was time for him to go to bed, anyway. He had work in the morning, and he'd stayed up late enough already. As he curled under a blanket, hugging a pillow to his chest, he thought of blue eyes behind purple lenses, and the smell of smoke. He thought of a warm body in the bed next to him.
And he debated the merits of giving up hope.