Ban wondered sometimes what would happen if Ginji knew that Ban loved him. Would Ginji reject him outright? Would he shun him silently? Would he scream words of perversion and leave Ban forever alone?
"Ban-chan!" Ginji threw himself into the car with all the decorum of a five-year-old. Ban straightened from his slump and pushed his depressing thoughts away.
"About time," Ban said, flicking his cigarette butt out the crack in the window. "We need to find work."
Brown eyes alight with mischievousness Ginji thrust his hand under Ban's nose. "Smell."
Ban jerked his head back and focused on the thing in Ginji's grasp. It looked like one of Himiko's glass vials that held her poisons. Whatever had been in there, he'd inhaled a good whiff. He panicked. "Ginji!"
Ginji laughed and stoppered the vial. "Now Ban-chan won't be afraid to go after Himiko."
Ban didn't feel the any of the normal effects from Himiko's seven poison perfumes, which should've hit him already, and his mad scramble from the car halted. Combined with Ginji's statement, he was confused as hell. "What did you have me smell?"
"Himiko's Love Perfume." Ginji held the vial up and the sunlight coming through the open sunroof made the pale pink contents sparkle. "She gave it to me to use on you."
"Did she now?" Ban glanced out the driver's side window and saw the shadows of Himiko, Paul, and Natsumi inside the Honky Tonk. He knew there was no such thing as a love perfume. Why would Himiko have pretended to give Ginji one?
"Yes! It'll make you reveal your true feelings to the person you love."
Why that little… Ban shook his head and hid a smile. Obviously, his feelings for Ginji had been picked up on by someone. And despite their falling out, Himiko still treated him like her second brother.
Ginji appeared proud of himself and shoved Ban towards the car door. "Go on. She's waiting for you."
"Ginji…" Ban started to tell Ginji that the perfume was a fake, but paused. It was the perfect opportunity to get something he'd wanted for a long time without fear of the consequences. After all, he couldn't be held responsible for a botched love perfume.
Ginji's eyes widened when Ban suddenly threw his arms around him. "Ban-chan?"
"Ginji," Ban said, trying for overly dramatic but unable to hide the longing in his voice. He covered by closing the distance between them and taking Ginji's mouth in a kiss.
Ginji made a small noise in the back of his throat, but he didn't shove Ban away. Ban's breath hitched upon contact and his eyelids fluttered shut. He became lost in the feel of his lips sliding against Ginji's, the tingles of electricity he'd expected and the roughness he had not. The chapped lips made it all the more real and he exhaled shakily through his nose. Ginji…
Reluctantly, Ban drew back and tried to quell the racing of his heart. He returned to his own side of the car, removed his sunglasses, and pressed his thumb and forefinger hard against his suddenly stinging eyes. He shouldn’t have done it, because now he knew what he was missing and not having it would ache more. His tone was rough with emotion when he blamed his actions on a lie. "You idiot, that makes you love the person you're with, no matter who they are."
"Oh." Ginji didn't question why Ban was rational without being dunked in water, the cure-all for Himiko's perfumes. Ban was thankful for Ginji's trusting nature, gathered his reserve, and opened his eyes.
Ginji was staring at the vial, a frown tugging the corners of his lips. "Himiko tried tricking me, then? Why would she do that? Ban-chan already loves me."
Ban's jaw dropped and he goggled at Ginji. "You know?"
"Of course. Ban-chan loves Ginji, Ginji loves Ban-chan." Ginji unstoppered the vial, sniffed, and wrinkled his nose. "It smells like washing dishes."
Ban became pensive over what Ginji had said. Did Ginji mean love as in romantic love, or love as in brothers? Friendly love? The same type of love he had for food?
Distracted by his worried thoughts, he was surprised to find Ginji suddenly in his face. Twisting over the center consol, Ginji tilted his head slightly and studied Ban. "What are you doing?" Ban said, pushing back against the headrest, trying to put space between them.
"Himiko's Love Perfume doesn't make me want to kiss you," Ginji said.
Ban threw up his defenses and cuffed Ginji. "It doesn't work on brainless fools like you. You'd kiss anyone who'd asked."
Ginji stayed perched over Ban, staring at him expectantly. Ban grew more uncomfortable and barely refrained from squirming. "What?" he blurted uneasily.
"I'm waiting for you to ask."
Ban's heart slammed in his throat. He heard the faint crunch of glass under the rushing in his ears.
"Ban-chan! Your sunglasses!" Ginji grabbed Ban's clenched hand and pried open his fingers. Glass shards and bent wire filled his palm. Ginji made a sad sound, cradling Ban's hand between them. "They're broken."
"Ginji," Ban said in a tight voice, ignoring the mess in his hand. "Kiss me."
Ginji's gaze shot up and he stared at Ban. A beat later, a smile played over his lips. "Okay."
Ginji leaned forward as Ban straightened up, and they met halfway between. A low rumble reverberated in Ban's chest when their lips met for the second time. Ginji sighed happily and curved his hand around the back of Ban's head. Ban dropped the pieces of his broken sunglasses on the car floor and clutched Ginji closer. The taste of Ginji thrilled him and Ginji's enthusiastic reciprocation sent shivers down his spine. Ginji threw his whole self into the kiss, like he did everything else, and Ban was swept away in the onslaught of sensations. It was not a chaste kiss that one would give a brother or just a friend.
Ginji's bumping the horn as he attempted crawling into Ban's lap startled them apart. Breathing heavily, Ban met Ginji's dazed eyes and a smile spread slowly across his face. "You'd better get back on your own side, before we're fined for indecent acts."
Pink ovals appeared on Ginji's cheeks and he scrambled upright on the passenger seat. The glass vial clinked as it was knocked between the seats. Ginji dug it out and held it up in the light. The liquid sparkled in the sun. "What should we do with this?"
Ban grabbed it and chucked it out the open sunroof. "I don't think we need it, do you?"
"No." Ginji peered past Ban out the driver's side window. "But I think Himiko would've preferred us handing it back to her."
Ban turned his head and saw Himiko on the sidewalk beside the car, a lump on her head and dishwashing soap dripping down her face and hair. Ban jammed the key in the ignition and peeled away from the curb. Laughter bubbled in his chest and filled the empty spaces in his soul.
"Ban-chan, what's so funny?" Ginji asked.
Ban didn't answer, instead he hooked his arm around Ginji's shoulder and enjoyed how right it felt. He aimed the car for the nearest convenience store. "I need to get a new pair of sunglasses."
"But Ban-chan, we don't have any money," Ginji pointed out.
"We'd best find some work, then."
"You'd think more people would lose things they wanted back," Ginji said, leaning into Ban's half-embrace. "I lose things all the time. Sometimes, I even get lost myself."
Ban laughed again and ruffled Ginji's hair fondly. "Don't worry. I'll always get you back."
Outside, midday traffic passed by the windows, while inside the car, Ginji's chattered away. Ban listened contentedly, happier than he'd been in a long time.
He'd wondered sometimes what would happen if Ginji knew that Ban loved him. He should've figured Ginji would simply love him in return.