Perchance to Dream

In the Mugenjou, there was no such thing as a full night’s sleep. Even with the protection of your group, letting yourself fall too deeply and long into sleep was close to suicide. After two years, Ginji still usually just catnaps off and on and spends the rest of the time resting without sleep. He likes this, though, because here is only the soft quiet of waiting for morning. When he breathes, there’s only the smell of cigarettes and leather and Ban-chan, and none of the fear, pain, or unhappiness of that other place.

“Ban-chan?” Ginji whispers into the darkness. He receives no answer except the soft sound of Ban-chan’s breathing.

Sometimes Ban is partially awake, and he always sounds grumpy when he tells Ginji to go back to sleep. Other times, he’s all awake and touches Ginji’s head with a featherlight hand. “Go to sleep and let me think,” he says, during those times.

“What do you think about?” Ginji asked once.

“Lots of things,” Ban-chan had said. His silhouette leaned back and crossed its arms behind its head. “You should try it sometimes, too.” A shift of movement, and then a bright flash of blue–because if there’s even just a little light, Ginji can see the bright color of Ban-chan’s eyes exactly–and a sound halfway between a snort and a chuckle. “You’re not stupid, Ginji, but you never think.”

Ginji doesn’t think he’s stupid either, but he thinks Ban-chan is a lot smarter. That’s part of what makes the GetBackers so great–whatever he can’t do, Ban-chan makes up for. He knows, intimately as blood and breath, that even if he somehow falls short, he never needs to worry, because Ban-chan is there.

Sometimes, Ginji stops long enough to think about how peculiar their situation is. Repossessors rarely–if ever–work together in units; stealing and delivering and repossessing are all solitary, self-centered businesses. An ally for one job easily becomes an opponent when enough money is involved. Certainly sometimes Ban-chan acts very mercenary, but Ginji knows him too well to believe that’s all the truth.

Ban-chan doesn’t talk about himself much, though he lets more slip than he thinks, especially late at night, when they’re both half-asleep and the dusk makes his face hard to see. Ginji has pieced together enough to know that Ban-chan has only had two other real friends before him, and he lost both painfully. Even after making up with Himiko-chan, he still doesn’t quite trust her like he used to. But he doesn’t let it drag him down, though it pains him occasionally, like old scars in the rain. Whatever happens to Ban-chan in life, he picks himself up, dusts himself off, and goes forward with confidence.

That alone, Ginji thinks, whenever he wakes up at night and sees Ban-chan’s dozing face in the other car seat, could keep him by this person’s side.

He only remembers bits and pieces, really, of the first time he and Ban-chan met–the angry crowd, the cold-eyed stranger, the epiphany, and the first person who’d said his name with gentleness in years. Like the carrot, it beckoned him out of the darkness of the Mugenjou and into the blinding glow of the real world.

After a year, he realized not everyone understood Ban-chan’s kindness. What comes so instinctively to him passes others by, as though it doesn’t exist–they’re too busy being annoyed or afraid.

One or two have questioned Ginji, because they can’t add one and one to make two. Ginji says it’s because they both understand what the true treasure is, and have different ways of appreciating it. While Ginji’s style is to share it, and have his happiness reflected back in every smiling face, Ban-chan prefers to horde it, and only dole it out to people he deems worthy. Three people in this life have earned it, and only Ginji really knows what it looks like.

Usually, he’s not selfish. But there are always times where he’s secretly a little glad that not even Himiko-chan has ever seen this Ban-chan.

He looks over. Ban-chan has sunk low in his seat, and his head slumps forward. It gives him awful neck cramps, but it’s also the least vulnerable position. Ban-chan doesn’t like showing his throat to anyone, but the fact that he willingly sleeps with Ginji less than an arm’s length away says everything he needs to know.

“Ban-chan,” he whispers again into the darkness, “good night.”

Ginji traces an “S” into the shoulder of the car seat and closes his eyes.

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