What Do You Think, Natsumi-chan?

(Get Backers Fanfic)

by symphonic wind


Natsumi rested her hand on her slightly moist palm, breathing deeply while she stared at the empty wall across the room.  Her eyes didn’t focus at all, but she was too lazy and too tired to bother to clear the image.


The door opened suddenly, and Natsumi excitedly widened her eyes, standing up and pushing her chair recklessly backwards, sending it tottering madly like a boy bitten by a tarantula before landing helplessly on its back.  Selfishly ignoring the chair, Natsumi leaned forward to get a closer look at the visitors, pressing her body against the edge of the table.  Dejectedly, Natsumi concluded that the guests weren’t the Invincible Getbackers. With a long sigh, she bent down to grasp the top of the toppled chair and right it up again.


Something had changed over the past few weeks, but Natsumi had just let the unsettling feeling lay fallow while she savored her adventures that, she though proudly, no other teenage waitress would ever have.  But now that the duo hadn’t visted the Honkey Tonk for three straight days (oh, how irritating it was!), she couldn’t help but ponder the depth of her loneliness.  To say the least, Natsumi worked hard.  What time she didn’t spend at her part-time job (though it would be more appropriately called a full-time job considering that she was the only worker there besides her boss), she spent studying for class.  She certainly didn’t plan on being a waitress for the rest of her life.  And that was precisely the problem.  She desired something she just couldn’t put a finger on.


All in all, though, things were going well in her life – she’d never calimed to the contrary.  Rather than there being something necessarily turning for the worse, she felt that she just longed for something to turn to the better.


“Na-tsu-mi!” shouted Paul, rudely interrupting her idle musings like a cow marching through school.  “There are customers here.  You know better than to stay on break when people are waiting!”


“Hai,” replied Natsumi grudgingly, resenting the sudden end of her introspective self-indulgence.


Mechanically, Natsumi asked the two businessmen who sported identical gray suits what they wanted to drink; one had iced tea, the other, coffee.


[If only it were Ginji or Ban asking for the coffee!] Natsumi cried to herself, pretending that the plain, off-white mug she held were Ban’s special cup.  But it wasn’t the same.  Ban’s cup was sitting over in that third wooden shelf, probably covered by cobwebs by now.  [Now, now,] Natsumi thought to herself, a light repremiand.  [No need to be worked up about three days of neglect.]


She served the drinks, straining her face to smile.  What resulted was a strange twitch of her lips between a smile and a frown – but not that anyone was really paying attention, anyway.  To the businessmen, she was just another waitress.  And maybe she was.


An hour passed; the Honky Tonk had been without customers for thirty minutes and counting.  Natsumi watched Paul read his newspaper, occasionally lowering it to tap off the ash from his cigarette, which he did without ever turning his head to look at the ashtray.  Personally, Natsumi could not stand the acrid smoke that drifted around whenever Paul smoked, but she dared not complain for fear of getting fired – which in itself wasn’t so bad, she admitted, except that she’d never get to see Ginji and Ban again.


At 7:45p, fifteen minutes before she would go home, the door suddenly creaked open,, and two large sea urchins of hair – one blonde and the other brown – thrust forward into the petite café.


“Ginji-san, Ban-san!” greeted Natsumi hysterically.  Paul didn’t even bother to look up from his paper; he could hear the two coming from a mile away.


Natsumi’s ebullient smile fell when she saw how battered the duo appeared.  Had they been in a serious fight?  Did they fail their mission?  She asked what was on her mind but received only a grunt from Ban as a response.


“Please?  It’d be better if you shared your troubles with someone else,” begged Natsumi.


She frowned ashamedly at how eager she was to hear some stroies as entertainment, not ever considering how horrifying the events would have been to experience.  With that thought, she backed off and let the two sit down.  She brought out Ban’s cup, which actually did not have cobwebs, contrary to popular opinion on Natsumi’s part, filled it with coffee, and then asked Ginji what he wanted.


The former thunder emperor remained silent.


[It’s odd of him to be so crestfallen; he’s usually so chirpy after long jobs,] Natsumi thought.  [It’s so out of character!]  She stared at him – how his sweat had weighed down many of his gelled spikes of hair, how he squinted his left eye because of a mild cut on the top of his left cheek, how his left hand clutched his upper right arm incessantly.


And suddenly, something started to make sense for Natsumi. It was an awkward situation – her two best friends (she more than once realized that her school friends seemed so insignificant in relation to these two, though they were separated by a mere year) were sitting right in front of her and there was still no conversation.  She couldn’t bear the hostile tension that hung in the air, so she began to pace around, looking nervously at her watch.  The second hand counted in a particularly evil fashion, reminding her that she had to go home in just fifteen minutes.


What could she do, though?  She made a mental list of possible topic igniters, but she gave up hope after she realized that Ginji and Ban probably didn’t feel like being cheered up with a few empty words.