By Any Other Name…
A Get Backers Fanfiction by Aoikami Sarah
It was a full week before Mido Ban was seen in the Honky Tonk again. One rainy Monday afternoon he walked in slowly, his eyes fixed on the back of the room and wordlessly took a seat. Natsumi and Paul exchanged looks but let him alone. Ban sat with his back to the door and read a newspaper.
Shortly afterwards the bell over the door jingled.
“Hello, Hevn-san,” Paul greeted the middlewoman.
“Hi, Paul. Oh good, he showed.” She sauntered to the back of the restaurant. “Hi Ban. How are you?”
He didn’t answer her. She seated herself on the other side of the booth.
“I’m glad you agreed to…”
“I said I would listen to you,” he said quickly. “That’s all.”
She shuddered as his piercing blue eyes met her golden ones briefly. “Right.”
Hevn gave him the details of a job, which he turned down, giving her no reason. She didn’t argue. It was too early for him. Ginji had only been gone for a week. She said good-bye and left without a fuss.
Natsumi stared at the back of Ban’s head, trying to will him to turn around and talk to them. Worry creased her brow. Finally, she filled his personal mug with coffee and took it over to him.
“Ban-san,” she began meekly. “If you want to…”
“I don’t need your sympathy!” he barked. Natsumi jumped back in surprise and started at him for a moment before turning to run away. His hand clamped down on her wrist.
“Natsumi-chan, I’m sorry,” he whispered. “What
were you going to say?”
She sighed. “If you want to talk… I’m here.”
He looked up for a moment and gave her a small, sad smile. “Thanks.” She knew he’d never take her up on the offer, but it felt good to put it out there: to let him know that she cared. She smiled back and went to make a fresh pot.
The bell over the door jingled again. A woman rushed in to avoid the rain and stood close to the entrance for a moment before moving towards the bar. She was of average height but a little shorter than Natsumi. Her blond hair stuck out in random directions. It and her clothes were dirty. She wore a large ‘I Heart Tokyo’ tee shirt, a small pair of shorts and hiking boots. She was nearly soaked to the bone. “Excuse me,” she began in a timid voice. “Is this where I can find the Get Backers?”
Paul and Natsumi looked from her to Ban. He didn’t move. Paul shook his head slowly. “Sorry, kid. Not right now.”
A look of devastation fell across her face. She stared at Natsumi as she poured the fresh coffee into a carafe to keep it warm.
“Would you like some coffee?” Natsumi asked.
“Oh!” The young woman covered her mouth, embarrassed to be caught staring. “No, I don’t… No thank you…”
Paul slid a cup towards her. “On the house.” He watched Ban out of the corner of his eye. “You look like you could use it. You’ve got rain in your eyes…”
Ban turned his head just enough to look at her but to their disappointment he turned back to his paper.
She thanked Paul and warmed her hands on the mug. When she had finished, she thanked him again and made to leave.
At last Ban got up. “Please wait.” He pushed his glasses up on his nose and folded the paper under his arm. “I’m Mido Ban of the Get Backers. How can I help you?” She looked up at him and a glimmer of hope returned to her eyes.
“I need to find a missing person…”
Ban scoffed. “Then go to the police.” He walked past her.
“I did!” she choked. “The missing person is me!”
Ban sat across from the young woman and watched her with a raised brow. “You are the missing person?”
“Ok, you better tell me the whole story.”
“Well,” she started. Paul and Natsumi were leaning over the bar listening with interest. “A few days ago I woke up in a park, I think… I was… I didn’t have any clothes on… and I was all beat up,” she said in a quiet voice. “I found a garbage bag and wrapped it around me… then I found a car… I mean a ride. I flagged a car down. Finally one stopped. The lady driver asked me my name… and I didn’t know it. I didn’t know where I lived, what school I went to, nothing!
“The nice lady took me to the police. Then the Police took me to the hospital. The doctors said I hadn’t been… um… molested or anything,” she said gingerly “but I had to have a lot of bandages and stuff.” She shook her head a little to bring herself back to the telling of the story.
“So anyway I was sitting in the hospital bed, sure that the cop was going to come in and say ‘oh yes, So-and-so, everything is going to be ok…’ when I heard him just outside the door talking to the nurse. He said that my prints and DNA came up blank! I wasn’t in the records. Then he said that it was prob’ly ‘cause I was yakuza or something and that they were gonna take me back downtown and lock me up till they found out who I was!” Tears came to her eyes. She balled her fists. “I got so freaked out I ran away. I still don’t know how I did it, but I jumped down this fire escape. Must have been two stories!” she laughed nervously.
“So, Miss… Eh…” Ban began.
She pouted. “Might as well call me what the cop called me.”
“Jein. You have no idea who you are,” he said plainly. “How do you expect to pay me?”
Jein lowered her head. “I’ll give you everything I have once I know. Name your price.” She looked up and stared calmly into his eyes. “I’ve been staying in homeless shelters for the last few days. There’s all sorts of people there. They may not have anything; no money, no home, no future even, but they have their name: their identity. I don’t care if I ever remember my past, especially if the cop was right and I’m some sort of underworld scumbag. I want my name back. Will you help me?”
Ban blinked a few times as he stared into her wide, brown eyes. “Sure. I got nothing better to do.” He stood and nodded his head. “Come on. I’ve got a shower back at my place.”
Jein blinked at him several times but didn’t get up. Natsumi dropped a coffee mug.
“You smell like a dumpster.”
“Oh!” she piped and scrambled after him as he left the shop. It had stopped raining, for now.
When Jein got out of the shower, Ban was sitting in a dilapidated chair with his feet up on the table smoking a cigarette. She clutched the towel to her gaunt frame and cleared her throat. “Ano, Mido-san. Do you have a big tee shirt or something I could wear?”
He crushed out the smoke and crossed to the dresser. Clothes were hanging out of the drawers. Ban hesitated, then pulled one open. “Here.” He tossed her a white tee and a pair of men’s shorts as well as a pair of clean tube socks.
“Thanks!” she chimed and ducked back into the bathroom. When she came out, Ban didn’t look up at first. “Ano, Mido-san… Is there anything smaller?” She hiked up the long shorts which only just rested on her bony hips. She practically swam in the tee shirt.
“Be thankful you got that much,” he muttered and lit another cigarette.
“Oh! I am! I didn’t mean…”
Ban waved, dismissing her error. She sat down on the floor of the little room and tried to keep the wide neck of the shirt from showing too much off.
“So,” he said in a puff of smoke. “Where do we start? Where did you wake up?”
“I think it was a park…”
“I don’t know.”
“Then you flagged a car down. On what road?”
“A big one…”
“Four lanes? Six? Ten?”
“I... I’m not sure…”
“Which police station were you taken to?”
Jein shook her head.
Ban sighed, exhaling a large plume of smoke in the fading light. “How ‘bout the hospital?”
“Ah!” she cheered. “University!”
“Good. That’s in Bunkyo. That’s a start.” He leaned over a map of Tokyo. “There are at least two police stations close to University Hospital.” His fingers traced the lines radiating from the hospital to the police stations. “And plenty of ‘big roads’ around both. The person driving you, did they seem to know where they were going?”
“Yes. She said something like ‘I’ll take you to the nearest police.’ It was a short ride, I think.”
Ban nodded and continued to study the map. “So from this station there’s one, two… three parks along the major roads, and this one… There’s only the one park. It’s mostly an industrial district…” His finger came to rest over the location of Genco Industries. He hadn’t noticed her come over to the table. When he looked up, the cigarette drooped from his lip as he stared into a pair of huge, brown eyes. Jein smiled.
“Then we should start with the parks, right, Mido-san? Maybe something will trigger my memory there.”
Ban swallowed deep. “Yeah. Let’s.”
The fourth park they visited was just as anonymous as the first three. She couldn’t find even so much as a familiar trash receptacle. They sat on a bench and watched the sun bleed across the sky. “I’m sorry, Mido-san.”
“It’s ok,” he sighed and tried not to look at her. ‘What was that back there?’ he wondered, remembering her bright eyes flashing at him. ‘She’s nothing like…’
“Wai!” Jein shouted, breaking Ban’s reverie. “Look, look, Mido-san! Duckies!” She was a good ten feet away, crouching in the grass, surrounded by geese from a nearby pond. They honked happily and she laughed like a child.
‘Alright. She’s very much like him….’ Ban blinked a few times and had to look away for a moment. “Hai, hai,” he moaned. “Get up from there! You’re gonna get goose shit on you.”
The next day the little 360 pulled up outside the research facility. Ban looked out the window at the building and squinted. ‘Well, let’s see if I get any answers today,’ he thought.
“Ano, Mido-san…” Jein whispered.
“You want me to help you or not?” he grumbled as he got out and slammed the car door shut.
“Well, yes, but…!”
“Then you help me. This is child’s play. Come on.”
The elevator pinged and the doors opened on the 4th floor. Ban strode out wearing a white lab coat and a mask over his face. His wild hair and purple sunglasses made him stick out a bit. He started down the hall, but noticed he was alone. Hitting the button, the elevator doors opened for him again. “Come on. All you have to do is stand there and look cute.”
“I’m not coming out. This is prostitution!”
“It’s distraction!” he hissed and grabbed her. “It’s just for a few minutes while I get some info.” Jein skidded into the linoleum hall on five inch stiletto heels. Her nurse’s uniform was clearly made for a dwarf and her ample bosom protruded from the extraordinarily low cleavage. She pulled the skirt down and glared at him. “You look great!” he grinned and slipped into the DNA lab.
In moments Ban had skimmed the records for the test he put in. Sample 3254-A yielded no match in the national database.
“No match!” he snarled. “Who the hell was that red-head bitch?!”
Jein poked her head in the doorway. “Mido-saaaaan!” she whispered pitifully. “If one more doctor tries to cop a feel I’m gonna seriously freak out!”
“Yeah, yeah. Come here for a sec.” He motioned her over. She started to thank him but cried out in alarm instead. Ban pulled the needle out of her bum and walked over to the test unit.
“Are you crazy?!” she sobbed.
“You said the cop couldn’t find a match, right? Well, I’m just curious what the pattern looks like.” Her soft whining didn’t sound convinced. “It could help me find out who you are.”
“I thought you were working on another case?”
“I am. Nothing says I can’t do both at once.” He gave her a reassuring grin and sent her out to distract some more.
END Chapter Two