He once met a man who claimed killing was art, that the sculptor of a single human death was to be elevated, exalted as a creature to be venerated and emulated.

This man believed, with the bloodshot eyes and spit-flecked lips of the faithful, that the world had been created as his canvas, each human being nothing more than artistic potential. In the end, he only valued them as tools, worth nothing more than a painter’s palette or brushes. In Doctor Jackal, he believed he found himself a kindred spirit.

“You–could bring them to me, yes,” the man pleaded, his fingers cool on Akabane’s slim wrist. There was a covetous sort of lust in his pale eyes, and a reverence to his gentle touch. “You could bring them to my side, and I–I could make them beautiful.”

Akabane carefully removed those clinging soft fingers. “I’m sorry,” he said calmly. “The truth is, I have no interest in this sort of arrangement.”

Not everyone could be the GetBackers, after all, and find a happy medium between two such different people. Akabane found no appeal in playing the role of final shepherd for this person. He took a degree of pride in his own work, but he did not agree that beauty came from the death alone.

Beauty came in the fighting leading up to the death, the stress and strain that always ended too soon–the fury and the movement and the poetry of muscle over bone–

(beauty was the blankness of Amano Ginji-kun’s large eyes, as kindness and warmth bled away and exposed the lightning-violence of the ruler underneath)

–and beauty came in the purity of the final moments of death, when aggression and battle arrogance found itself cut short and bloomed into silence, the exact moment of and every stifled heartbeat after that–

(beauty was Midou Ban-kun’s consuming rage, the blood-scented aura that flared around him when the serpent was roused to killing fury)

–which meant the intricacies of torture simply held no interest for him.

The man wept and clung to Akabane’s coat, bleating like a lost lamb when it finally pulled out of his grasp, and the transporter agent disappeared into the night. It felt much like one of those silly daytime shows that sometimes played, the occasional times he watched TV. He tried to imagine Ginji-kun in that man’s place, just for amusement’s sake, and dismissed that as ridiculous. Ginji-kun, without Raitei’s blood or not, had much more dignity than that.

Polite to the end, Akabane tipped his hat to the man as he left, and wished him luck in finding a more suitable partner for his specific needs.

He once met a man who killed to create the beauty otherwise lacking in his life, and had not killed him when that man became too familiar.

There was no challenge to killing a man who could only express his appreciation for death when the victim was helpless, no enjoyment to be taken from snuffing out one small sad life, too lost in its own complexities to threaten anyone who was not tied down.

The irony of that still amused him, even now.

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