Author: Rana Eros
Summary: Akabane has a cherished dream.
Warnings: For the inside of Akabane's head.
Title, Author and URL of original story: Black Alley by vr21bast (vr2lbast).
Author's Notes: Betaed in the fastlane by Eliza and Karot. And I admit, I kinda dig that the original was 499 and the remix ended up being 1001.
Black Alley (Akabane vs. G&B Dreamtime reMaster)
Like all artists, Akabane dreams his work. Not the precision of the cuts or fall of the body or the viscosity of the blood; those are the effects, not the art. The art is movement, speed, strength, the anticipation of how an opponent will flinch, so that his strike remains true. Most of the time, Akabane is aware, he's like Otowa Madoka playing street corners in Yokohama, like a Van Gogh hanging in the kitchen of a noodle shop. If he is appreciated, even comprehended, it's in spite of his usual audience. It's rare to find someone who understands what he does, the balance of a person's capacity for terror and pain against the effort to extract it.
He thinks Midou Ban understands, and Raitei, if not Amano Ginji. He thinks one day they're going to stop running from him, from themselves, and then, he dreams, then he'll create his masterpiece.
He dreams that every street, every courtyard, every dock and abandoned warehouse becomes an alley in Mugenjou. It must be Mugenjou, to rouse Raitei, to draw Midou Ban out of his cautious mask. It's dark in the alley, because Akabane sees better in the dark, breathes better when the air is full of night. It's dark in the alley because Raitei sparks bright against the black, and Midou Ban's eyes gleam like stars behind his glasses.
In his dreams, Akabane must be patient. After so many battles, the GetBackers' reticence about unleashing themselves in battle has worked itself deep into his subconscious. He must remind them of the thrill of pushing their limits, driving an opponent to expend himself simply to survive. "Ah," he says in his dreams, "there you are," and must follow it up with enticement and insinuation. He speaks to Ban of blood and predators, of the scent of a killer that never washes off.
"I can tell what you are," he says. "I know my kind."
In his dreams, he can watch Ban's hand grow scales, fingers stiffening like fangs. He can watch Ban's eyes go flat and slitted as a snake's; awake, he doesn't dare risk the jagan in such a fashion ever again. It's a true pity. Ban is beautiful when he looks like what he is, and Akabane likes to watch the possibility of death stalking him. One day, he promises himself. One day, he will find a way to meet Midou Ban's eyes in battle and not succumb to the jagan. One day, he will meet the snake bite with his blade, and see which is stronger, that grip or his own blood.
One day, unless Raitei defeats him first.
He has to court Raitei. The dreams always start with Amano Ginji wide-eyed, backing away or frozen as Akabane approaches him, scrabbling against the alley wall. Ginji will get angry if Akabane speaks to him like he does Ban, but it's not the right sort of anger. To summon Raitei, Akabane has to make Ginji feel helpless, hopeless, like it's better to lose himself in Raitei's heartlessness than keep control. Akabane's still learning the trick of it.
He's tried attacking Ginji, blades bristling out from his body. "I would rather battle Raitei," he says. Ginji just shakes his head, even when Akabane pins him, cuts him, presses the wounds open. Akabane can take Ginji apart and not manage to find Raitei in all that determined innocence.
He tries another tactic.
"Do you need incentive?" he asks, dropping his hand to Ginji's shorts. Ginji reddens, but doesn't move as Akabane undoes his waistband, slips fingers inside to touch skin that's hot, but not electrified.
Akabane presses in, touches light and teasing. "Aren't you going to stop me?"
Sometimes he sees a spark, then, but it's Ginji fighting back, Ginji driving him away enough to run again. Personal danger rarely seems the thing to call forth Raitei. Akabane wakes, and considers his options. When he can arrange it, he sets himself in the path of the GetBackers, studying their reactions to threats great and small. They are fiercest in defense of others, but leave each other to fights they deem fair. What they consider fair raises his estimation of their prowess, makes him more eager to challenge them at full capacity.
When he dreams again, he faces Ban and Ginji together. He's certain this would be the best way to reach Raitei, if he could defeat Ban before Ginji's eyes, if he could out-wait Ginji's wild grief. It would call on everything he has, every ounce of skill and power, every ruthless instinct. Truth be told, he's not entirely certain he could manage it, but oh, the possibility of trying. He would have to separate them, incapacitate Ginji and wear Ban down. Midou Ban thrives in Mugenjou, but it doesn't feed him like it does Raitei; he can be beaten there. Akabane will find a way.
He'll find a way, and he'll want to take those eyes, want to carve himself into Midou Ban's flesh, but the ominous crackle at his back will mean that he'll have to wait. He'll move at full speed under cover of the dark, twist and jump and call on the pulsing in his own blood, his own heart, to pull the jagged edges of his desire up into the world in the form of the long, red blade. He'll feel the heat, see the ripples in the air as he turns.
In Akabane's dreams, Raitei is ruthless, relentless, the personification of the hunger that drives him, that drives them all to fight so very hard: life, and the death that must follow. In Akabane's dreams, he meets Raitei's gaze, and those eyes are too full of lightning, too empty of self-awareness, to see anything but his own reflection. He raises the sword against himself and sees it mirrored, himself coming for him on a tide of flashing light in a dark, dark place.
"Ah," he says in those dreams, will say when the time comes, "there you are."