Shido had had better jobs. Ones which did not involve rock concerts, stolen wigs, and a thousand screaming prepubescent girls. By now he should know better than to accept the first thing Hevn offered; if he held out she would bring him the good ones, and leave the rest to those foolish and desperate enough to do anything—like, say, the GetBackers. But he hadn't had well-paying work in a few weeks, and while Madoka said nothing—actually that wasn't true. Madoka had said, quietly, that she liked having him around, the last time he had apologized for the slow business. But it didn't stop him from feeling...not useless, exactly; he could always help around the estate. But his friends ate a lot, and even if Madoka could afford it, she shouldn't have to. His responsibility.
So he had taken the job, and it could have been worse; in the end he had gotten a bonus, even. But walking the dark city streets, with the bats overhead squeaking midnight songs, he was looking forward to getting...home, which was a novel word in his human vocabulary, and strange how simple syllables could be so warm...
A rat's frightened flight alerted him first, and then the figure staggered out of the alley in front of him, took a few unsteady steps and bumped into the brick wall. White shirt, crazy dark hair. Shido stopped, studied him. "Midou?"
The man turned. Even in the murky streetlight his eyes were indecently blue. "Ah, monkey trainer. Hey." He pushed off the bricks, made it a good meter before he started listing dangerously and grabbed the wall again for balance. "Whoops. Dammit, stop moving."
He seemed to be addressing the entirely stationary sidewalk. No bloodscent and he didn't look like he'd been fighting...Shido frowned. Hadn't the GetBackers had a job? Hevn had said as much. "Where's Ginji?"
"Ginji?" Midou blinked owlishly at him, waved vaguely at the street. "Out. Following the other guys. Job, y'know." With concerted effort he straightened up. "Well, see you, monkey trainer," and he started down the street again, the confidence of his stride marred by his apparent inability to navigate a straight line.
He wasn't moving like he was hurt—Shido was familiar with how he hid injury, but his unsteadiness now looked less like he was concealing wounds and more like...complete inebriation, actually. Though Midou—whatever else Shido could say about him, which was plenty, the bastard took his work seriously. Somehow he couldn't quite picture him getting plastered when on a retrieval. He caught up with the other man easily, planted himself right in his weaving path and glared down at him. "You snake bastard, what have you been drinking?"
"Drinking?" Midou frowned, swaying slightly in place as he pondered the question with the grave introspection of a philosopher asked the meaning of life. "Drinking. Oh yeah. A Coke."
"Midou, sodas are non-alcoholic."
"Noticed that, did you?" And actually, Shido smelled no alcohol on him, save a faint trace that probably came from his clothes, scent soaked up from a bar's ambience. He leaned forward, raising one wavering finger. "Unless."
"Slipped me a mickey," Midou said, in English.
Shido blinked at the unfamiliar words. "How's that?"
"A mickey," Midou repeated deliberately, with a dignity at odds with his uncertain swaying. Then he pointed to the alley behind him.
Shido looked, saw three men stretched out on the pavement between knocked-over trash cans. All breathing, but bruised and out for the count.
"Thought the damn jagan was all they had to worry about," Midou snorted. "Assholes."
Midou gestured at his own eyes, coming perilously close to poking them. "Can't use it when I can't conen—concenstrate." He grimaced over the word, shrugged. "They must've bribed the bartender. S'posed to be watching them but they were watching me, and things started going round, but I'd already drank most 'the damn coke...I don't even like Coke! Jus' had to stay awake...long night..."
His emphatic gesture tipped his balance too far, but before he ended up sprawled on the sidewalk Shido grabbed his arm and hauled him back upright. "What kind of fool lets the men he's supposed to be following drug him and jump him?" Even if they hadn't been smart enough to do their research and realize the snake's other attacks. Damn Midou. Bastard always gave him a headache. "Where's your phone? I'll call Ginji—"
"No!" Midou drew himself up, shook off Shido's hand. "No Ginji, I'm fine." Which would have been more convincing if he had actually been perpendicular to the ground, rather than tilting at that precarious angle. "Just gotta find my car. S'around here somewhere." He peered around myopically.
In fact Shido could see the Subaru, parked a block away on the opposite side of the street. "Ginji will help you find it, Midou."
"No Ginji," Midou repeated. "Can't—don't wanna mess things up. Like this."
"Midou, Ginji wouldn't hold this against you even if it were your fault."
"Just lemme go."
Shido considered. On the one hand, if the bastard wanted to be left alone, who was he to stop him?
On the other, if there were more guys after him, or if the others revived...he must have taken them down before the drug really took hold, because he definitely was in no condition for a fight now. And if something happened to Midou—Ginji would be upset. And Madoka, who had a soft spot in her heart for the GetBackers. If Madoka found out Shido had been here...she likely wouldn't be angry with him. But her disappointment would be far harder to bear.
Nothing to be done. "All right, Midou. I'll bring you somewhere to sleep this off."
"Damn monkey trainer, don't need—"
Shido sighed and raised his hand. "Midou, how many fingers am I holding up?"
Midou squinted at him, his head weaving back and forth, less like a serpent than a mesmerized rabbit. "Uh. Can't count that high."
"That's what I thought. Come on." Gripping his arm to keep him on a straight line, he led Midou down the street to the car. Taking the keys out of his hand—he wasn't getting them anywhere near the lock anyway—Shido opened the passenger door and pushed him in, then went around to the driver's seat himself.
Sitting seemed to clear Midou's head somewhat. "What are you doing in my car, monkey trainer?" he demanded.
"Midou, you're not going to be driving anywhere."
Midou blinked, a little comprehension filtering over his confused expression. "Oh yeah."
Shido had gotten his license a few months before, under Emishi's instruction, but the 360 wasn't nearly as smooth as Madoka's expensive vehicles. It stalled as he pulled into the street, the gears ground, Midou squawked, and Shido briefly and fervently hoped that the snake bastard wouldn't remember any of this in the morning. Their rivalry was one thing, but he didn't want to face the man sober with him remembering what he'd done to his car.
Once they were on their way the car's motion seemed to lull Midou, if not asleep, then into a sort of trance, sitting up in his seat and swaying with the bumps and turns. He didn't say anything, seemed hypnotized by the road passing before them, blue eyes glassy. Truth be told, it was a little unnerving. Shido was accustomed to dealing with Midou in three states—loud, pissed off, or unconscious, of which the last was definitely preferred. He'd hoped the man would just succumb and drop off, but whatever they had dosed him with apparently wasn't entirely a sedative. Or else Midou was fighting its effects, which wouldn't surprise Shido. He was as wary and untrusting a bastard as you could find, outside of those habituated to the everpresent dangers of Mugenjou. Only Ginji seemed to have any of his trust, and even that...apparently wasn't as strong as Shido had thought.
Shido glanced over. "Midou?"
"Looks cool. The lights. They're flashing."
They were driving under an array of streetlights, the illumination blinking in and out as they passed under each separate beam. "Is Ginji doing that?" Midou asked, muzzily.
"Ginji's not here."
"What?" Midou sat up so abruptly he almost banged his head on the sunroof. "Where is he—is he—"
"He's on a job, Midou. You told me not to call him. Remember?"
"Job. Right." Midou subsided. "No Ginji. I'm..."
Stoned out of your skull. Shido sighed. "You're pretty out of it, aren't you, snake bastard."
"Guess so." That strange sound might have been a giggle, if Shido cared to think of Midou Ban giggling, which he did not. "Bastards gave me the good stuff, at least."
They pulled into Madoka's estate, drove around to the servant's entrance in back. By this late everyone had retired, no one to disturb in the kitchen. There was a padded bench in the corner for Midou to crash on, but he resisted when Shido tried to get him to lie down. "Not gonna—gonna—where are we anyway?"
"Oh. She's not—"
"She's asleep. Everyone is. So keep it down, okay? I'll get you coffee or something."
"Down, yeah. Don't want to wake your lady." Midou rocked his head back against the wall. Even under the bright light his pupils were so dilated that his eyes were black pits, rimmed in that unnatural blue. "When you gonna ask for her hand, monkey trainer? 'Should, before she gets away."
"Snake bastard..." But for once Midou's tone wasn't mocking, usual acerbic sharpness blurred as his words. Shido shook his head, opened one cabinet and located a mug, then poked through the pantry. Didn't coffee come in cans as well as coffee makers? He didn't really drink it himself, and the contraption on the far counter was easily as complex as the one at the Honky Tonk. He found a box of tea bags which would do instead, brought it back to the table and filled the kettle, put it on over the smaller stovetop.
Midou was talking again, mumbling but intelligible. "She's a girl but she's real lady, y'know, they wouldn't want her with someone like you, but if she's picked you then she's picked you and they can't do anything, that girl's like that..."
"Midou, you should shut up," Shido advised, seating himself on the tabletop across from him and crossing his arms, "before you say something I'll have to hit you for."
"Jus' try it, monkey trainer," and Midou was standing, more or less, arms braced in a recognizable approximation of a fighting stance.
"Midou, sit down. I'm not going to fight you now."
Shido regarded him evenly. Somehow it was hard to get truly angry with the bastard when he was this...blunted. Usually Midou pricked like a needle, a viper's fangs, and he always aimed for the weakest points, impossible to ignore even when you knew he was doing it on purpose, for whatever damn reasons. Without that precision his antagonism was too obvious to take seriously. "Midou, if you can remember why we're supposed to fight, I'll fight."
"Um." Midou blinked, mouth open like a beached fish. "You...uh..."
Shido slipped off the table, took the man's arm and helped him back down on the bench before he fell flat on his face. "You really are a stubborn asshole. Why don't you just go to sleep? You'll feel better when you wake up. Hell, you probably won't even remember this." He pitched his voice low, the tone to soothe a confused predator, and Midou blinked, drowsily wavering.
Then the blue eyes snapped wide and he grabbed Shido's vest, hauled him close enough bite his nose. "Don-don't use your damn—I'm no monkey, bastard—"
"Midou—" His glare was enraged but unfocused, and he blinked again, shook his head as if trying to dispel the drug's fog. The tea kettle's whistle cut through his befuddlement, and Shido pried off his fists, went to pour the water.
When he returned with the mug Midou was sitting propped against the wall, staring at his own right hand, raised before his eyes, as he flexed his fingers. "They're all there, right?" he asked, very seriously.
"Uh, sure they are, Midou."
"That's good. I can't feel all of 'em." He let his hand drop. "Where's Ginji gotten to?"
Shido massaged his temples through his bandana. Definitely a headache. Maybe he should have the tea himself. Or a good stiff drink. "We've been over this. Or do you want me to call him now?"
Midou squinted his eyes shut. "No...I'm..." He went silent for so long that Shido thought he might have finally dozed off, was returning the steaming mug to the counter when he sat up. "Madoka!"
"That's why we're fighting. Madoka." His brow wrinkled. "...which is dumb, really."
"Dumb?" Shido felt himself bristle automatically.
Midou eyed him hazily, almost cross-eyed with the effort to focus. "S'not like I mind you and her. You're a kinda cute couple."
"...Midou?" Or maybe he'd had a few drinks already and somehow forgotten.
"Nice to see you together," Midou was babbling. "Happy. Good things for her. Her music, the bia—viori—the fiddle. She plays even better, y'know? Even if it's just you. And you love her too. S'cute to see."
Or maybe he'd been drugged as well. This was positively surreal. "Snake bastard...I think you should be quiet before you say something that you'll have to hit me for."
Midou giggled, undeniably. His head lolled back, thumped against the wall, and he giggled again. "S'okay, s'okay, we won't remember anyway."
"Uh. No. You might not, but—"
"'Sides, monkey trainer, I really was glad." He sat up again by means of grabbing the edge of the bench and pulling himself up, something serious abruptly in his face, a gravity showing through the fog. "'Cause I am a bastard. Like you say."
Hard to break away from the power of that gaze, even when it was so muddled. "What do you—"
"Ginji liked her, see. He did. Madoka-chan, 'cause she's cute and kind and strong and sweet, just like him. He really liked her, but she likes you."
"Ginji...did?" He had never—of course Ginji liked her, Ginji liked nearly everyone, and was it even possible not to like Madoka? But the way Midou implied...not now, he couldn't mean, Shido would have noticed something when he saw them together. But when they had first met, when she had hired the GetBackers. He remembered Ginji's eagerness helping her. His determination. There had been so much else going on then, and he hadn't been used to looking and seeing only Ginji where Raitei once had stood, but...
"He did." Midou's head bobbed emphatically. "Not now, monkey trainer, don't worry. She's his friend and you're his friend and he's so happy for you, because he's Ginji. But he did then—but she liked you. And I was glad. Because he...Ginji, he finds someone to be happy with, they'll be happy, and then there won't be an S anymore, just Midou Ban, and I can't—don't—"
"What are you talking about?"
"I want him to be happy. Ginji. I want him to be, but not...I can't..."
Shido sighed. "Midou, Ginji is happy." It should have stung to say it, but that was something he was getting used to over time. Impossible to deny, so he was learning to accept it. And it was hard not to enjoy Ginji's smiles. "He's happier now than he ever was back in Mugenjou—he's happier as a retriever than he could have ever been leading the Volts." There was another corollary as well, that he was happier being this bastard's partner than he had been just being any of their friends—but Shido wasn't up to saying that much. Enough that he acknowledged it in his own head; didn't need to tell Midou things he had to already know—it wasn't as if Ginji were that subtle about them.
"You really think so?"
Even if this wasn't quite Midou now. At least not the Midou Ban he knew. Stripped of more than just his equilibrium and his jagan—dazed, without that cynical overconfidence with which he usually faced the world, he seemed vulnerable in a way that went beyond his physical incapacity. It made Shido uncomfortable. Like a wolf rolling over to reveal its underbelly, but it wasn't a conscious choice, Midou being far from his right mind, and even if the man could do with some humbling, Shido wasn't about to accept a surrender this awkward and fundamentally unwilling.
And Midou hadn't yet shut up. "...want him to be happy but sometimes, you can't tell, it's Ginji, he tries too damn hard to be all...skippy and bouncy but y'know, it's not always real, even if it is a lot..."
Shido considered just leaving him alone, mumble to himself if he wanted, but Midou being Midou he'd probably try to wander off, raise a ruckus in the sleeping house. At this point the kindest thing Shido could do probably would be to hit him—punch him out and let him sleep this off. Before he said or did any more to demolish that image he tried so desperately hard to maintain.
But then, being kind to Midou had never been a pressing concern of his. Hadn't he done enough to bring him here, make sure he didn't stumble into traffic or off a building? Moreover, this was about the closest he had ever come to having a civil—if somewhat incoherent—conversation with the man.
It probably wasn't fair, taking advantage of his condition this way. "Why don't you want Ginji here? Is it just your damn pride, you don't want him seeing you like this?"
"Like...this?" Midou gestured vaguely at his own head. "High as a kite, ya mean?" and he cackled like a hyena, then shook his head, so violently he threatened to fall off the bench. "S'not pride. Don't care 'bout that. Not with him. Don't mean anything to Ginji anyway."
"Then why?" Shido demanded. "I've seen you do it before. You won't let him see you vulnerable—he's your partner, Midou, shouldn't you trust him that much, at least?"
"Trust?" Midou's stare was intense enough to pierce through his daze. "I trust Ginji," and he enunciated every syllable with elaborate and obvious effort. "Trust him with my life, an' everything else. He's my partner, ain't he?"
"'Cause it's Ginji," Midou said. "And Ginji...that guy wants to protect everything and everyone, he wants everyone to be happy, he'll do anything to help everyone, and he was, and it was killing him. An' I told him he didn't have to, not always, not all the time, not that bad, but it's how he is, he can't be happy if anyone else isn't, an' they need him, you all do...even if it's killing him..."
"Midou..." Those blue eyes weren't quite able to focus on him and yet Shido was still unable to meet them. Not when he could too clearly see Raitei, that power they had all relied on, that strength they needed to survive, and Ginji had given it freely, and lost a bit more of himself each time. If he hadn't gone away he would have kept giving until there was nothing left, and even in Mugenjou they could have seen it had they cared to look, how every day their emperor's eyes had been a little emptier, but for the golden age of the Volts to continue there had been no choice.
And Midou Ban had destroyed that, had introduced a little of his selfishness into Ginji's selflessness, and they hated him for it, rightfully, righteously, but the cost if he hadn't...
"Shido." Midou lurched forward, dropped a heavy hand on Shido's shoulder. Startled by the contact and that address, Shido jerked up his head, looked him in the face, and saw no accusation, not even derision, Midou's usual insolent smirk submerged with everything else. "S'not your fault. His fault, 'cause he's an idiot. Should've known better. He was stronger than any of you could be, in that place, 'cause of what he is. Stronger than me, even. And that place, that place is bad. You did need him. He could've done it better, though.
"But you get it, monkey trainer? That's why...why I can't...everyone needs him. So I'm the one that doesn't, that one he doesn't have to protect. Can take care of myself, always have. So Ginji doesn't have to. He'd die for anyone else but he's not gonna die for me, ever. Won't let him."
His head dropped as he rocked forward, caught himself on Shido's shoulder before he fell but their foreheads were almost touching. "Wanna know a secret, though?" he muttered, only a whisper.
"S'not true. Even if I try. Not strong enough. Don't need him to protect me—don't need anyone to protect me. But him. Just him. Need him."
He pushed Shido away abruptly, slumped down on the floor with his back against the bench. "So that's why, too. Like this," and he waved loosely down at himself. "Can't do anything to screw it up. Can't risk it. Might say somethin'...do somethin'..." His head lifted, fuzzy gaze tracking to Shido standing over him. "'Cause things...not quite straight, y'know? Like here. Talkin' to you. Maybe I shouldn't but it doesn't make sense now. You're a friend, right? Ginji's friend."
"Midou." Shido crouched, put his hand on Midou's shoulder, awkwardly mirroring how he had reached out before. "You wouldn't hurt Ginji. Even now."
"'Course I wouldn't!" Midou's outrage was too quick not to be sincere, even if he had had some modicum of self-possession left. "Wouldn't hurt him—never hurt him. Not really. 'less I had to. If he needed me to. Could then. I'd have to, for him."
He frowned. "Wouldn't hurt him, but I might...it's Ginji, y'know? Hard not to...you seen him, monkey trainer? With those eyes and that body and...he's too damn...tell myself he's my friend and he's a guy but it doesn't always work. Good thing that park fountain's so cold..."
"...Midou?" His head had dropped with the last couple sentences, and his voice as well, so they were garbled and almost inaudible to the point Shido wasn't sure he'd heard correctly. And wasn't sure if he wanted to have even if he had. Decided he was better off not thinking about it. "Snake bastard, if you're finally going to sleep you'd be more comfortable on the bench," he said quietly, watching the dark head droop.
But when he went to pick him up off the tile, Midou blinked, opened his eyes and forced them wide, batted away Shido's hands. "Not sleepy."
"So you usually doze off on the floor when you're awake?"
"...really don't like you sometimes, monkey trainer," Midou muttered, sulky as a wet cat.
"Sometimes?" Shido would have raised an eyebrow, had he any. "Thought you pretty much hated me all the time."
"No." Midou shook his head. "Don't like you always, but you're not...you're one of the good guys. There's only one guy I ever really hated. And I can't even hate him anymore. —Whazzat?"
Something buzzed, short and pointed, buzzed again. Midou sat up, twisted around and with surprising coordination dug into his pocket and extracted his celphone, automatically flipped it open and put it to his ear. "Hello?"
"Ban-chan?" Shido heard, tinnily, through the phone's speaker, which was at Midou's mouth.
Sighing, Shido reached over, turned the phone around the right way and put it back in Midou's hand. "You there?" Ginji was saying. "It was these guys after all. I got the envelope from them, no problem...well, a little problem, they're kind of shocked now, but they're going to be okay. So guess the guys you were following were a plant after all, like you thought—Ban-chan? Are you there?"
"I'm here," Midou said. "Midou Ban-sama, right here."
"Uh, Ban-chan? Is everything okay?"
"M'okay, Ginji. And you're okay so everything's okay. Totally fine."
Midou sat up, more or less vertically, and frowned at the phone. "Tol' you, fine. Absolutively."
Shido took the phone before it slipped from his clumsy fingers, put it to his ear. "Hey, Ginji?"
"Shido?" Ginji's voice was clear enough that Shido could almost see the concern in his face. "What are you doing there? Was that Ban-chan? He sounded kind of...umm..."
"The snake bastard's fine. He's just...a little confused at the moment. Those guys he was following gave him some trouble."
"Where are you?"
"He'll be okay, Ginji. He's not even hurt."
"At Madoka's," Shido admitted. "Go around back to the kitchen."
"Good, I'm not too far. I'll be there soon!"
Midou was glaring as Shido closed the phone and stuck it in his shirt pocket for him. "You told him."
"Otherwise he'd just worry about you anyway, snake bastard. Did you want me to lie to him?—Midou, what are you doing?"
He had set his hands on the bench and was ineptly levering himself to his feet. "Have to go."
"You—oh." Shido pulled him up. "There's a toilet off the laundry room down the hall, can you...never mind." Midou listing against him, he walked him out of the kitchen down the dark corridor. "You can stand long enough for that, right?" he demanded, and Midou nodded with grim determination, taking firm hold of the wall. Shido shut the door and waited until he finally heard water running and stumbling on the linoleum. He opened the door in time for Midou almost to tumble into him, caught him and bore him upright.
Midou's look had the crossness of a poked badger. "I," he announced, too loudly, "am not enjoying this at all."
"Makes two of us," Shido muttered. "And keep it down."
"Right. Shhh. Ev'ryone's 'sleep. Where are we again?"
"Ah. That's why you're here." Midou nodded with an inebriate's unsubtle logic. "...so why'm I here?"
Punching him out was sounding like a better idea all the time. Except that Ginji would probably want to know why his partner had a broken jaw when Shido had just said he was fine. "Ginji can tell you," Shido said as they got back to the kitchen. "He'll be here soon."
Something unexpected in how Midou's face brightened at that. "Good." Then his brow furrowed. "Wait..."
Better to head him off before his meandering mind found its way back to its previous tracks. "Midou—what were you saying before?"
"You said, uh—there was someone you hated. That you don't now. Why not?"
"Oh. That bastard. Can't now. Wouldn't be right." Midou's mouth quirked into something that might have been a grin, or a grimace. "He's Ginji's partner, y'see, and Ginji doesn't hate him. Ginji's his friend. So there's gotta be something good about him, if Ginji likes a guy like that."
Shido stopped, abruptly enough that the other man lurched against him. "Midou..."
Outside he heard a clatter in the foyer, and then the kitchen door swung open and Ginji burst in, brown eyes wide and worried. "Shido? Ban-chan?" He was out of breath; must have sprinted to make it here so quickly, and probably hopped the wall rather than deal with the gate, though Madoka had given him the combination.
"Ginji?" Midou blinked at him, swaying indecisively. Then he took an unsteady step in his direction, reeled and might have planted his face on the tile, but before Shido could grab him he had fallen into his partner instead, thanks to Ginji's lightning-fast lunge.
"Ban-chan? Are you okay?"
"Mm," Midou said into Ginji's chest, not especially trying to move.
"Er..." Arms loosely circling his partner, Ginji peered over Midou's mess of dark sea urchin spikes to Shido. "What...?"
Shido sighed. "They slipped him some drug. He needs to sleep it off."
"Oh." Ginji glanced down at his partner. "Ban-chan?"
"I'm fine. Just fiiine. Oops." Midou made an attempt to stand, tripped on his own feet, and Ginji quickly wrapped an arm around his waist to hold him up. Midou sagged against him. "Totally okay. Jus' a little...little..."
Ginji smiled slightly. "Okay, Ban-chan. How about we go to bed now? It's pretty late."
"Hmm." Midou's eyes were closed, his head drooping on Ginji's shoulder. "Ginji?"
"I'm right here, Ban-chan."
"Yeah. M'fine. Really."
"Ginji Ginji Ginji," Midou mumbled, settling against him.
"Come on, Ban-chan. The car's right outside. You'll sleep okay there, right?"
Shido followed them out, opened the passenger door for Ginji to shuffle his partner inside. Midou curled up in the seat, put his head down and was snoring within seconds.
"That bastard." Shido shook his head. "He wouldn't even shut his eyes before."
Ginji shrugged, his smile apologetic. "Ban-chan doesn't like unfamiliar places. He's more comfortable in the car. Shido, thank you. For taking him here like this. He might've gotten in trouble otherwise."
"Yeah, he probably would've." Shido followed Ginji's gaze to his sleeping partner. "Ginji? If he wakes up and doesn't remember anything..."
"I don't really need to tell him he was here."
"Yeah. That'd be best. And...if he does remember...
"...You could give Madoka a call. Before he. Umm."
Midou shifted, twisted in the seat and muttered unintelligibly. Before he could roll out of the car Ginji put a hand on his shoulder. "It's okay, Ban-chan. Just sleep. You'll be better in the morning." He looked up at the dark mansion. "We should probably drive elsewhere, I guess."
Ginji closed the door, went around to the other side and climbed into the driver's seat. "Good night, Shido."
"Good night," Shido said, and turned to go into the house. Stopped and looked back as Ginji started the engine, called over it, "Ginji?"
His friend looked at him through the lowered window. "Yeah?"
"Take care of him."
Ginji grinned. "Always," he said, and drove them away.