Return to Fanfiction
Just a vignette, set a bit after the Mugenjou arc, because I like Shido and Ban, fun shounen buddies that they are.
Even on a clear night, the Infinite Castle seemed obscure, as if the unreality it contained extended outside its walls, a mist of illusions and mirages. The organic chaos of its construction did not match the city around it, and yet its presence was so definite that it would not be the same city with it gone.
Shido, taking a walk late at night, found his eyes drawn to it, as they always would be. You could leave the Mugenjou—if you were lucky, that is. You could leave, but it would always be in your heart somewhere, an unavoidable part of yourself.
"Hey, ape trainer."
Shido looked down. Midou Ban was crossing below the overpass, but with one smooth jump he was walking along it at Shido's side, sharp mischief in his vivid eyes. "You still sulking about losing your Emperor?"
Shido glared. "What kind of petty bastard do you take me for? After what you said in there...why you told Ginji to leave..."
"I didn't tell him anything. It was just a suggestion." Midou pushed up his glasses, so the dark lenses obscured his gaze. "But that is what's eating you."
It was a statement, not a question, and Shido stopped. Drove his fist into his other hand rather than into Midou's face, which would just be more trouble than it was worth. "I didn't know," he said. "I didn't have any idea."
"Of course you didn't." Midou pulled out a cigarette, lit it, the flame flickering in his glasses.
"I didn't!" Shido repeated, though Midou hadn't sounded sarcastic. He could hear his voice rising, lowered it. "Ginji—Ginji was my first friend. My first human friend. He was the first person I ever met who made me feel like I could speak."
"Eh?" Midou cocked his head.
"Animals are easy to talk to," Shido said. "If you listen, they listen to you. But people...it was always as if I didn't know any human language. Even when I understood what they were saying, when I spoke it...no one listened. No one noticed, any more than they notice what a crow shrieks to them, or a dog pledges. Except Ginji did. He listened, he answered me. I may not like human beings particularly, but I am one. And that was okay, with him. After that there was Kadsuki, and Emishi, and now...there's more, now. But Ginji was the first."
He bowed his head. "And I didn't even realize I was losing him. That we all could have."
"You couldn't have known." Midou's head was tilted up, toward the dark silhouette of the Mugenjou jutting into the night sky. "You never knew Ginji, exactly. In there, he was always the Raitei, somewhat. Hard to tell the two of them apart, when you were always seeing some of both."
He flicked ash off the cigarette. "Besides. Ginji didn't want you to know. It frightened him too much, what was happening. Losing himself. He didn't want to scare you, too. Because you were his friends."
The changing breeze carried the smoke over to Shido, and his nose wrinkled involuntarily at the noxious tobacco. He swallowed a cough, said, "If we were his friends we should have seen it, whether or not he wanted us to. You realized it, and you weren't his friend."
Midou's eyebrows went up. He studied Shido's face for a moment, then in a short, swift motion stabbed out the half-burned cigarette on the metal railing and tossed it aside. "That's because I wasn't his friend. He told me what he did because I didn't care. Because it wouldn't have hurt me, then. And since I'd realized it already."
"How? When you didn't know him at all, Ginji or Raitei?"
There was something serpent-like in Midou's smile. Poisonous. Shido was coming to recognize that smile as a defense, like a cat puffing itself up to look bigger to a threat. "But I did know Raitei. I fought him, as close to full power as anyone ever has. I saw the true Raitei, and that was enough that afterwards I could see Ginji. Or at least I could see what was there that Raitei wasn't."
"And that's why you told him to leave. That's why you went with him." Shido shook his head. "That's what this has always been about, really. It wasn't just that Ginji left with you."
"It was that Ginji went off with you. That you were the only one who ever got to be friends with Ginji, as just himself...we all respected Raitei, but it was Ginji we loved. Ginji who was our friend. And you got all of him."
"Ginji's your friend now," Midou said. And then he sighed, threw his arms back behind his head and rolled his eyes. "Though why you'd want to be friends with such a complete idiot as that..."
"The same reason you want to be." Shido eyed him sidelong. "Or maybe not..."
Now Midou really did bristle like a cat, which with his hair was impressive indeed. "What's that supposed to mean?"
Shido shrugged. "Nothing." If Midou wasn't going to acknowledge it aloud, Shido wasn't going to make him. Animals didn't need words to speak, and neither did humans, always. Ginji knew, whether or not Midou had ever told him, and for now that was enough.
But words did have their purposes. "Midou. I owe you something."
"An apology?" The blue-eyed man smirked.
Shido shook his head. Would that it were that simple... "No." And he bowed, more than just a nod, from the waist. "Thank you. For saving him."
"It's not like I did anything for you." Midou sounded irritated. Snappish, like a cornered fox. Scared.
"I know," Shido said, straightening up.
"I put up with you because you're Ginji's friend."
"The feeling is mutual."
"I gotta go. I just went out to pick up some smokes, if I don't get back soon Ginji'll do something stupid." He considered. "Actually it's probably too late for that."
"Ginji worries about his friends too much."
"Now that I won't argue. The idiot."
"You do, too."
Midou, halfway down the pass, looked back. "You out to pick a fight tonight?"
"In the Mugenjou, Ginji didn't tell us anything was wrong, because he didn't want us to worry," Shido said slowly. "He's learned better now, I think. But you haven't yet."
Midou turned away again, but his back was rigid as a pointer's. Still listening.
"It can be painful, to see you've upset someone. But sometimes it hurts more if you hide it. He's not as oblivious as he seems, Midou. And he's a lot stronger."
"I know." Midou's whisper was so soft Shido wasn't sure he heard it at all. "I'll try."
Then his hand came up in a jaunty wave, and he said over his shoulder, cheerfully, as he strode down the stairs, "'Evening, monkey man. See you later."
"See you," Shido replied, and turned away from the Mugenjou.
Love to know what you think!
Return to fanfiction