Applied Sciences and Fine Arts
by Rana Eros
Two interconnecting series of five drabbles each, written for the stagesoflove LJ community and combined here in the order they're meant to be read. The first series is based on the five stages of love, the second on the five senses. Many, many thanks go to Eliza, who helped me brainstorm the series titles, the drabble titles, and who betaed the results.
Testing to Destruction
Ban doesn't pay much heed to rumors, but he's still startled when Raitei proves to be just a boy his own age. Granted, a boy with a hell of a lot of power and not much choice in using it. Ban knows what that's like, so he gives Raitei --Ginji-- a choice.
Ginji took it. Ban was surprised; he's not anymore. Ginji's more different from Raitei than he looks, and he thrives on sunlight the way Raitei thrived on storms.
He also seems to thrive on Ban's company, which Ban still doesn't get.
He doesn't question it too closely, though.
Soul in the Work
Ginji's still no expert on paintings and sculptures, but he remembers what Clayman said about masterpieces, the way their true value is in how they make you feel.
Not that he needed Clayman to tell him that.
Ban stirs his coffee slowly, his chin propped up on his right hand. His hair is soft, dark chaos, and the sun flashes off the glasses nearly sliding off his nose; his eyes are half-lidded, following his spoon, immeasurably blue. They dart up to Ginji, watching silently, and the corners of Ban's mouth quirk almost reluctantly.
"What're you looking at?"
"You." A masterpiece.
Building Up a Charge
It's insane, Ban thinks. He's insane, partnered with an electric eel and wrestling for pizza just to wipe that pensive look off his face.
"Ban-chan, that's the last piece!"
"You snooze, you lose!" He's not even particularly hungry, and not only do Ginji's strikes sting, they've done bizarre things to his hair. But Ginji's grinning as they shout at each other, manhandling him with rough affection, and at least the hair's distinctive.
Then Ginji gets him down on the bar, laughs and starts eating the pizza out of his hand.
Not the shock he was expecting.
Ban's not the quietest person Ginji's ever met. He might, in fact, be one of the noisiest. Ban's loud and brash and prone to yelling, and Ginji has to talk him down a lot. Ginji doesn't mind, though; it means Ginji can be as loud as he wants, and that's okay.
It also means most people haven't heard the way Ban's voice can get so soft, husky from smoking and yet somehow still melodious to Ginji's ears.
That Ban plays the violin is a surprise to Ginji, but he already knew Ban could make music.
Yeah, that's the note.
Bodies in Motion
Ban expects Ginji to be enthusiastic; he doesn't expect Ginji to be experienced. Ginji seems to know what he's doing better than Ban. Later, Ban might be bothered by that.
Not now, though.
Ginji's hands are almost always warm, like his eyes, like his smile. And now Ban knows his mouth is warmer still, warm and wet and more addictive than nicotine. Hands, eyes, and mouth are all focused on him, and he's shaking under the onslaught, melting under it.
The best he can do is try to keep up.
"Ban-chan!" Ginji's shaking with him, melting with him.
Texture Adds Depth
Ban wears his life on his skin, scars and calluses and an ever-changing array of bruises, cuts, blisters, puncture wounds. Their work is dangerous, and Ban will only let Ginji protect him so far.
There are places, though, where the skin looks untouched, paler than Ginji's and unblemished. Those places are all the softer for the contrast, all the more sensitive. Ginji likes to press his hands there, his mouth, and feel the way Ban responds. He only does it when they're alone, and Ban allows that protection.
Those places look untouched; Ginji's become very good at keeping Ban's secrets.
Ginji hugs everybody who lets him get away with it, but Ban's the one Ginji treats like an oversized stuffed toy. When Ginji's upset, he reaches for Ban. When he's really happy, he reaches for Ban. When he's sad, hungry, lost, confused, pleased, excited, or just generally breathing, he reaches for Ban.
Ban originally let Ginji cling to him on the theory some fights just aren't worth having. He gripes about it, of course, but Ginji seems to think that doesn't mean anything.
He could be right.
Ginji reaches for him. Ban makes sure he's always within reach.
Redolent of the Moment
Ban smells less like cigarettes than anyone would think, given how much he smokes. Most scents just slide off him, and maybe that's the snake, because what lingers is earth, salt and dust and deep roots, secret water. Ginji's not sure of the reason, but he likes it.
He especially likes the way that scent intensifies when Ban sweats, when he flushes and his skin heats up. Ginji presses his nose to Ban's neck, inhales and feels the whole world re-settle around him. It's...well, grounding.
Ban would say that's stupid, so Ginji doesn't tell him.
Just breathes it in.
Paul says something about the inevitability of friends growing apart. Ban misses the exact phrasing because Ginji starts a fight over their food, but it doesn't matter. They're not friends; they're partners. They're the GetBackers, and getting each other back when necessary isn't habit, isn't instinct, it just is, like a pulse. And there's only one reason the pulse will ever stop.
No point in worrying about it. They've got business to drum up, jobs to do, money to make. Scores to settle. People to harass.
Ginji kisses him after Paul kicks them out.
They've got this too.
To Be Savored
Ban's got a keen sense of taste that he passes off as smell so as not to weird people out. Ginji's palate is more limited, but he works with what he has, and it's generally enough.
It's enough to notice the difference between Ban's left earlobe and his right. Enough that he picks up more salt from the small of Ban's back in the summer, where sweat gathers. Enough that he knows what part of Ban's richness is coffee, and what part is just Ban.
With practice, he thinks he'll pick up more subtleties.
He's more than happy to try.
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