Suikotsu & Jakotsu talk about life, love & "rabbits"...
By VeagSailor & kira
Because everyone loves a rabbit, right...?
Suikotsu looked at his beloved hydrangeas and sighed. They were a mess again as usual because of the two rather large rabbits who liked play in their shady bower. But enough was enough in Suikotsu's humble opinion and he stormed off to seek a bit of solace in Renkotsu's arms.
Renkotsu, who was sitting outside his workshop, sketching, looked up at the sound of his lover's approach. "Let me guess, they were under the hydrangeas again?"
The claw-bearer sighed. "Yeah... They have the best rooms in the compound and they have to pick there!"
Renkotsu chuckled. "It is rather nice over there."
"How would you know that?"
"I spent the morning over there sketching the hydrangeas before the rabbits showed up. And before Jak got any ideas in his head about me sketching them, I left..."
"Good move. But what am I going to do with them? Today it's my hydrangeas, what if they decide to invade my herb garden next? They don't give a rat's ass about what they step on or worse..."
"I know that..." Renkotsu said softly, then raising his voice in case the were any unseen listeners, he said, "Sui, I swear to the gods, the only time I touched Ban was to give him a smack upside the head for joking about us joining him and Jak in an orgy." When Sui looked at him askance, he mouthed, "Trust me and play along."
Suikotsu gave him a long suffering look. "I'm not so sure about how much of a joke that was..."
The fire-breather looked thoughtful for a second before replying, "I don't think Ban would really go for a situation that would have any chance of him having share Jak with his teammates."
"That's true. Although, Jak has been rather flirtatious lately, in fact more than usual... but then he's been dropping hints about being worried Ban is tiring of him. You don't think it's really true do you?" Suikotsu said as he flopped down next to his lover.
Renkotsu frowned. "Not at all." He looked around to see if there really were people listening in, and drawing close to whisper in Suikotsu's ear, all pretences gone, he said, "You must promise not to divulge the forward coming information in any way, shape, or form to /anyone /else."
Suikotsu, intrigued, nodded. "Your secrets are safe with me as always."
Renkotsu whispered, "Okay, you know how I always seemed to have the misfortune of walking in on Oo-Aniki and Jak? Well, they got tired of being interrupted and that's about the time they moved it to the bushes in your garden."
The claw-bearer closed his eyes. "Nooooooooooooo..."
"Now here's the good news," Renkotsu continued to whisper, "And the secret part of the message. Ban came to me this morning, asking me how hard would it be to add an extra room on to main part of the house. You see, he has this lil love nest all planned out, and all he needed was help with technical details. The bad news is we're leaving tomorrow on a 'mission' to get what I need to start building it. And we'll be back in two days, so we'll need you to baby-sit..."
The claw-bearer rolled his eyes. "Oh really?" He thought it over. "Ren, what if you build it away from the house...like on the far side of the garden where no one'll hear them? I'll even help you by moving some of my plants there, so Jak can have a little garden of his own to play in."
Renkotsu smiled. "That's what we were thinking or I was rather hoping you'd say, which is why I didn't think Ban would mind if I told you."
Suikotsu nodded. "Okay, you've got my help," he said softly. "At this point I'm ready to do anything to keep those two rabbits out of my garden."
The fire-breather laughed. "Now you won't have to waste your time building a fence around it."
"No, I'm still going to build it anyway. That way Jak won't suspect a thing... and it'll keep him away from here while you build it."
"Perfect! You are a genius! And I'm a genius too, because I fell in love with you..."
Suikotsu smiled. "Those are exactly the same reasons why I fell in love with you." He leaned over and kissed the fire-breather. "Now if you don't mind, I could use a lil help in the garden..."
The next day was oddly a quiet one as Jakotsu had spent most of it sulking in his room over being left behind, emerging only at dinner time, eyes puffy and red from crying. He remained long enough to grab a few things to take back to his room as he expressed a desire to be alone.
Surprisingly Suikotsu had a good rest that night once he had checked on his cross-dressing friend which was good as he needed the sleep. He had the feeling Jakotsu would spend the day moping around when he wasn't looking for attention from him, so the claw-bearer wanted an early start to his day as he had a fence to build.
It was just as Suikotsu finished putting up the section of fence on the far end of his garden that he spotted the cross-dresser. Jakotsu was smiling like a little kid, holding his hand up to his face. It was several minutes before Suikotsu realized he had a butterfly perched on his index finger. The claw-bearer, briefly pausing to enjoy a midmorning break, watched as his friend closed his eyes and gently blew the butterfly away.
"Oh, hey, Sui!!" Jakotsu waved when he spotted the claw-bearer busily digging a hole.
Suikotsu continued digging. "Hi, Jak."
The cross-dresser, who had been feeling lonely and bored out of his mind, sauntered over. "Whatchya doin', Sui?"
"Building a fence around my garden..."
Jakotsu bent down and sniffed at some flowers. "Why? It looks so pretty without one..."
"Thank you, but I need to keep the 'rabbits' out. They're destroying my garden."
"They are?" Jakotsu frowned as he stood up. "But I thought Kyo ate all the rabbits around here."
"Perhaps... but I know for a fact that there are two rather large rabbits still around," Suikotsu said seriously, although his eyes twinkled with merriment.
"Large rabbits? I never saw any big rabbits around here."
Suikotsu, unable to contain his laughter, chuckled softly.
"What's so funny about large rabbits... do you think we can catch them? I'd love to have another pet..." Jakotsu sighed. "I still can't believe Kyo ate my cat..."
"Yes. Poor Toraneko-san..."
Jakotsu sighed. "Yeah... I wish I had another pet."
Suikotsu laughed. "Jak, you already have one of the rabbits I am referring to as a pet."
"Hunh? I don't have any pet rabbits." He looked at the claw-bearer like he had three heads.
"Oh that's right; Ban's your 'dumpling.'"
"Oh yeah!" Jakotsu giggled. "What I wouldn't give right now for a bowl of those dumplings..." he trailed off wistfully, before looking up at Suikotsu impishly. "Ooooh! Sui, I can't take this! I'm so lonely without Ban!" He grabbed the claw-bearer's arm. "You gotta help me!" he teased.
The claw-bearer eyed him nervously, although he was a little annoyed with the cross-dresser's antics. Heaving a heavy sigh, he said, "There's nothing I can do about that, Jak, so get that look out of your eyes." He playfully gave his friend a shove.
Jakotsu stumbled backwards and landed on his butt with a soft thud. "Hey!"
"Get up and quit lazing around, there's work to be done," Suikotsu chuckled as he helped the cross-dresser up.
"Okay..." Jakotsu said as he dusted off his behind. "Seriously, I really miss him. Don't you miss Ren too?"
"I do, but at least I have a memento..." The claw-bearer fondly looked over at his aqueduct.
Jakotsu followed his gaze. "It's really pretty and I have to say your garden never looked better, Sui, but it still doesn't take away from the fact he's not here."
"Yes, but..." Suikotsu looked down at the ground, distantly lost in his thoughts. "When I put my head under the falling water," he said softly, "it feels as though his fingers are running through my hair."
"Yeah...?" Jakotsu said with a smile.
The claw-bearer blinked, slowly coming back to himself. He smiled ruefully at the cross-dresser. "Uh...yeah, it sounds silly... I know..." He felt his cheeks heating up.
"No it doesn't!" Jakotsu said earnestly. "I think it's very romantic..." He smiled. "I wish I had some special place to go that reminds me of Aniki-chan..."
"Well, if you want to go sit near the hydrangeas where you two like to behave like rabbits in the past, you may."
Jakotsu face's lit up. "You don't mind?"
"Nope, as long as you don't crush my plants you're welcome to sit there."
"Thanks! I promise I won't, Sui. You know, it's one of the best spots in your garden. I love it because there's always a lot of butterflies."
"Yes... they seem to like that bush."
"I love butterflies too. When I was little I used to play with them as I had nothing else to play with..." Jakotsu rambled on, heedless of Suikotsu was saying.
"I think that's because of the scent of the flowers draws them there. Sedako-chan always liked those flowers too, because they would always bring the butterflies."
"She did?" Jakotsu said, finally paying attention to his friend, he reached out and put a hand on Suikotsu's shoulder. "What was she like?" he said softly.
Suikotsu smiled sadly and closed his eyes as he pictured his deceased wife. "She was very kind and beautiful." He opened his eyes and looked at Jakotsu, pleased he was genuinely interested in hearing about her. "Happy... Sedako-chan always seemed to have a smile on her face."
"Yeah...? You know, Sui, I wish I knew her... you look so happy talking about her."
"Yes... that was one of the happiest segments of my life," the claw-bearer said softly.
"What about now...? Aren't you happy? What about Ren? Doesn't he make you happy?" Jakotsu asked anxiously.
Suikotsu smiled. "I said it was one of the happiest segments of my life, not the only one."
Jakotsu sighed. "I only have one really happy moment, aside from some lil happy ones..." he said softly.
"Though I was very unhappy, Jak, between the time when she died and when I came to find solace in giving my poor heart to Ren."
Jakotsu nodded and smiled knowingly. "He's been very good to you, eh?"
The claw-bearer smiled. "Yes he has."
"I'm glad..." the cross-dresser said sadly.
Suikotsu knitted his eyebrows in concern as he looked at friend. "Aren't you happy?"
Jakotsu looked away. "Oh yes, I'm very happy with Aniki-chan, although, I do worry that one day he'll leave me for a woman..." He sighed, and looking back at Suikotsu, he smiled sadly. "So I do everything I can to make sure he's very happy so that day'll never come..."
"Jak, do you believe he doesn't love you as much as you love him?"
The cross-dresser shrugged. "I don't know any more... I think he does, but then he still goes whoring every so often..."
Suikotsu frowned. "Have you asked him to stop?"
"No... I mean how can I?" He smiled ruefully. "I'm not exactly a woman..."
"So... Just tell him what you fear."
Jakotsu, quirking an eyebrow at him, mulled it over. "You think I should...? But I was always told you never let a man know when you've fallen in love with him as it makes your job harder to do..." he said softly. "Not that being with Aniki-chan is a job," he added quickly. "But... I don't know... sometimes the things I learned when I was little makes sense and sometimes they don't..."
"Well, I know I stopped my nightly 'outings' when I knew I had fallen for Ren. I had always found it so unsanitary, but then at time, I really didn't care about my body or what happened to it, or whether I lived or died, until I found someone to live for."
The cross-dresser nodded in agreement. "I hate it too when I have to go 'work' for something as I know all about the nasty things you can get sick with." He made a little face of disgust. "But what if he really is with a woman while he's away...?"
"Well, when Ren realized I had stopped going, he started going less and less, and he hasn't gone out lately with the others."
"I know...I can sometimes hear you two over Mu's whining about being left behind." He smiled impishly.
Suikotsu blushed." Hear me... us?"
Jakotsu nodded. "Yup. You and Ren can be quite loud, if you know what you're listening to..."
Suikotsu, realizing he was only teasing, teased back, "No louder than you, and besides, you do it a lot more often."
Jakotsu giggled. "That's because I enjoy it and so does Aniki-chan! Besides, I'm merely voicing my pleasure," he said smugly.
"Heh!" Suikotsu chuckled.
Jakotsu let the silence briefly stretch between them which worried his friend, before he found his voice, "But I still worry it's not enough... What if Aniki-chan wants an heir? There's no way I can give him one, no matter hard I might wish it so..."
"Jak," Suikotsu sighed as he wondered where that idea came from. "There are many men who marry just for that purpose, but the paramour is the one they love with all their hearts."
"You think?" Jakotsu brightened and just as quickly became sad. "But I think I would still be very sad if he did get married, Sui."
"Heh, I don't think he will. Oo-Aniki is too much of a free spirit."
"Like a butterfly...?" The cross-dresser smiled.
The cross-dresser turned and hugged him tight. "Thanks Sui, I feel a lil better..." he said, releasing his friend from his embrace.
"Good," Suikotsu said as he patted the cross-dresser on the head like a child.
Jakotsu's smile broadened. "Oh...look!" he cried as he pointed towards the flower bushes.
"Heh. White butterflies."
"Aren't they beautiful?"
"They remind me of Aniki-chan," Jakotsu said softly. "I never feel sad when we're apart and I see them, although I wish Gin wouldn't eat them," he said testily.
The claw-bearer laughed and as he started digging another hole. "Gin doesn't eat butterflies, Jak."
"Yes he does, Sui, I saw Aniki-chan feed him one before they left."
Suikotsu paused in his digging and looked up at Jakotsu. "It was a joke. Oo-Aniki was mad Gin ate all the dango..." He smiled ruefully. "A bad joke..." he left it at that when something just behind the cross-dress's head caught the claw-bearer's eye. "Hold this..." he said softly, handing the shovel to Jakotsu. He slowly approached the fluttering bit of white, and carefully wrapping his hands around the butterfly; he brought it over to Jakotsu. "Put that away and let's go sit for a bit. I have something for you..."
Jakotsu grinned and dropped the shovel as Suikotsu shook his head at him and rolled his eyes. The two of them walked over to the shade of a lacy maple that grew in the garden and sat. Suikotsu slowly opened his hands.
Jakotsu gazed in wonder at the butterfly, who seemed perfectly content to sit in the claw-bearer's hand.
"Thank you, Sui..." he whispered. "He looks like Aniki-chan..."
"Yeah..." Suikotsu slowly moved his hand next to Jakotsu's. The butterfly fluttered its wings and for a second it looked as though it would fly away, but then it crawled over onto the cross-dresser's hand. "See...? It's sign that Aniki-chan still loves you."
"You think so?"
"I know so..."
Just then the butterfly took off and they watched it disappear from sight. Jakotsu turned back towards his friend and threw his arms around him. "Thank you sooo much, Sui! I feel even better now!" he said, his eyes bright with unshed tears. "But I still miss him..."
Suikotsu sighed. "Two days without sex isn't going to kill you, Jak," he said as he untangled the cross-dresser's arms from around his neck.
"I know that, but it's just that I miss him sooo much that two days seem like forever."
"Don't worry; it's only two rises of the sun."
Jakotsu sighed as he hugged his knees. "I know, but it's sooo boring without Aniki-chan. I have nothing to do. At least you can amuse yourself by reading..."
Suikotsu sighed. "I could try to teach you how to read, but Oo-Aniki'll be back long before you'll learn more than a handful of words plus I don't have any children's scrolls." He thought about it for a minute. "You know what? I think we need to find you a hobby that doesn't involve Oo-Aniki."
"Like what?" Jakotsu asked, his curiosity piqued. "Aniki-chan is my hobby..." He giggled.
Suikotsu opened his mouth to say something then closed it as shook his head. "I don't know... What other things are you interested in besides Oo-Aniki?" He chuckled.
Jakotsu smiled. "Well, I do like butterflies."
"Then you could study butterflies."
"Study them how? They never really stay in one place for too long..."
"Well, you can watch them and see if the current butterfly has the same markings or patterns of behavior as the last one you saw."
Jakotsu frowned. "But they all look and act the same to me. Maybe I'm too stupid to notice the difference?"
"You just haven't taken the time to really watch them, but once you do you I'm sure you'll start to see the differences," the claw-bearer said in the same tone a parent would use with a child.
The cross-dresser smiled shyly. "You think so?" He loved when Suikotsu would treat him patiently like this as it made him feel smart. "I do know they like the hydrangeas." He giggled and Suikotsu chuckled along with him.
"Yes they do, so maybe you can find out why."
"It smells nice over there. Maybe they like the smell? I know I do..."
"Could be..." The claw-bearer reached into his kimono and pulled out a small bundle. Unwrapping it, he handed the cross-dresser a rice ball. "Here, have some morning snack."
They ate quietly, watching the butterflies dance in the midmorning sun.
"Those flowers are pretty too, like the butterflies, but Aniki-chan said I'm prettier..." The cross-dresser sighed softly as he thought about the time he was lying naked in those flowers after making love with his beloved.
"I'm sure he did." Suikotsu chuckled softly.
"What's so funny about that?"
"Nothing. You know, I'm surprised at you. With all your worrying about Oo-Aniki and some woman on this trip, you're not worried about him having a liaison with Ren."
"What?!" Jakotsu blinked. "They wouldn't, would they?" he asked worriedly.
"Is that fear I see on your face," Suikotsu teased.
"Yes..." the cross-dresser said softly as he nodded. "Aniki-chan has been a bit distracted and distant lately."
"He didn't seem that way to me."
"That's because you don't know him as well as I do."
"So you don't think they would do you?" Jakotsu asked timidly as he was dreading hearing the answer as he was sure his worst fears were correct.
"No, but you know, that's how I was feeling about you and Ren there for awhile..." Though I was going a bit more crazy...
"I'm sorry, Sui... But if you remember, you scared the shit out me sooo badly, I was afraid to go near Ren, let alone be alone with him for weeks afterwards. So I have decided because I'm still a lil afraid, as much fun as it is to tease Ren," he giggled, "he's not as yummy as Aniki-chan." Jakotsu sighed heavily. "You don't think they find each other yummy, do you?"
"No, and as for you, my friend," Suikotsu wagged his finger at the cross-dresser, and was pleased when he smiled in return, "My other sides and I came to realize that Ren was just a conquest for you, a challenge per se..."
The claw-bearer nodded. "And once you had him you were done with him and I had nothing to worry about."
"You know, I think you're right. It's just not as much fun teasing him as it used to be... But I want you to know; I would never use him and toss him aside. Still, I have decided I like my intestines inside me where they belong, thank you very much!" He winked at him and Suikotsu laughed.
"Now that I know it was just a conquest, I don't have to worry about you coming after him again in a weak moment and I'm glad to hear that you're not finding it as much fun to tease him."
"Uh, Sui...? Ummm... Why do you flirt back at me when I flirt with you? Aren't you afraid Aniki-chan'll get mad at you? Or have you suddenly taken a fancy to me?" Jakotsu eyed his friend saucily.
The claw-bearer shook his head. "I do it because it's the best way to get you to stop," he said matter-of-factly.
Jakotsu looked over at him in surprise. "Really?"
"Yes, really. Besides, Oo-Aniki knows I would never go after you, nor would I let you be so foolish as to come after me."
"That's true... But I don't like the idea of Aniki-chan going off with Ren instead of me." He pouted like a small child. "What if Aniki-chan decides to find out if Ren is yummy? They've been spending a lot of time together and they're always alone and they always get real quiet whenever I come by... and Ren always has this guilty look on his face!" Jakotsu cried as his eyes welled up with tears.
Suikotsu looked away. "Hmmm..." He gazed far off into the distance in the direction Bankotsu and Renkotsu would take if they were coming home, and suddenly his little joking thought did not seem so funny any more.
"Well...?" Jakotsu asked anxiously.
Suikotsu looked over at him and frown. "Damn it! Now you've got me worried!"
Jakotsu, looking really upset, said, "There's something to worry about?"
Ignoring his question, Suikotsu growled, "And Scary Sui is giving me a headache..." He stood up.
"Can't you make Scary Sui go to sleep...?"
"No. Just sit there. I've got to go kill something now..." The claw-bearer reached around behind himself and removed the heavy leather bag that hung at his waist. Opening it, he pulled out his claws and quickly strapped them on, before storming off towards the nearby forest.
"Wait! Scary Sui's not going to kill me, is he?" Jakotsu asked nervously.
"Am I walking towards you?" Suikotsu called out over his shoulder.
"No..." Jakotsu got up and started to trail after him.
Suikotsu called out, his voice becoming deeper and more edgy. "Then obviously he's not, but don't press your luck!"
"Okay... what if I stay here and watch the butterflies...?" the cross-dresser asked, before he turned around and headed back to where they had been sitting.
Jakotsu sat, facing the garden. "Ummm... how long should I watch them for?" He felt badly about upsetting his friend, but fear of his darker side kept the cross-dresser firmly rooted to spot.
He jumped when the claw-bearer called out, "As long as you want!"
"Okay... Ummm, Sui, when you're done killing something, will you come back?" he called out the to claw-bearer's retreating form.
"YES! Why wouldn't I?" Suikotsu paused just before he got out of ear-shot.
"I don't know... I thought maybe Scary Sui was going to go and hunt them down and I wouldn't want him to do anything rash..." He smiled wickedly at the claw-bearer. "Besides, I want the fun of gutting Aniki-chan!"
Suikotsu turned and smirked at the cross-dresser. "Don't worry; once I get some blood on my claws I'll be fine. But if we're not back in an hour or so, grab Kyo and Mu and come get us." He continued trekking towards the forest.
"Okay!" Jakotsu shouted. "Be careful Sui, and have ummm... fun?!"
Jakotsu watched the claw-bearer disappear into the woods. The area went deathly still before it erupted in a blood curdling scream as the birds exploded upwards into the sky. The cross-dresser winced at the sounds and despite his fears, as he was unarmed; he walked slowly towards the trees. "Sui...?" he called out tentatively. "Sui...? Are you alright...?"
The claw-bearer emerged from the woods, minutes later, right in front of the startled cross-dresser. His hair was standing on end, signaling his violent form was still in control and Jakotsu shivered at the way he calmly licked the blood from his claws. "Quite..." He grinned smugly.
Jakotsu gulped his voiced going up several octaves as his worst nightmare smiled at him. "Good... I was afraid something had happened to you..." he tittered.
Suikotsu reached out, and using his claws, he gently almost lovingly tilted Jakotsu's face up to look at his own, the way a lover would do before kissing his sweetheart. "Awwwe... How kind you are." He leaned forward and whispered in the cross-dresser's ear, "It's very nice of you to worry about me, Jak, but I was never in any danger," his sweet, yet deadly, tones melting into a deep throaty laugh as he pulled away from the trembling cross-dresser. Chuckling softly, Suikotsu walked off in the direction of his aqueduct, leaving Jakotsu to stand there, opened mouthed as he gently grasped his throat.
The cross-dresser took a few wobbly steps before his fears and relief at coming out unscathed overwhelmed him and he fainted. He woke up on his own several minutes later and sat up. Jakotsu looked around for the missing claw-bearer and when he did not see him, he got up and cautiously headed towards the house. The cross-dresser got as far as the end of the garden when he thought he saw the claw-bearer on his knees with his head stuck under the falling water of the aqueduct.
"Sui...? You there...?"
The claw-bearer came out from under the water, feeling slightly more clean and refreshed. He shook the water from his hair and sat back, watching the water in the aqueduct fall.
"Sui? Where'd you go?"
Jakotsu, following the sound of his voice, found Suikotsu kneeling there with his head back under the falling water. He gently laid a hand on the claw-bearer's back and said softly, "Sui... you're getting all wet. Here..." He stepped back, and taking the silk scarf from around his neck, he held it out to him as he waited for Sui to come out from under the water. Jakotsu felt badly about his own fears upsetting him, and he figured the scarf would make a good peace offering as it was his favorite present from Bankotsu, and besides, he was miffed at his lover's neglect so he did not care if it got ruined.
Suikotsu, emerging from under the water fall, looked at the scarf and then at Jakotsu and smiled. "Thanks, but I don't think it's going to do much good."
"You can at least use it to wipe your face. It's okay if it gets wet," Jakotsu said with a wave of his hand as if to dismiss any protesting from the claw-bearer.
"You sure...? Isn't that the one Oo-Aniki just gave you?"
"Yes..." He nodded and when Suikotsu held out his hand for it, Jakotsu gave it to him. "We wouldn't want you to get sick..."
Suikotsu, appreciating the sacrifice, chuckled to lighten the mood. "No we wouldn't."
"Nope." Jakotsu smiled. "Feel better now?"
Suikotsu took the scarf and used it to wipe his face. "Yes." Throwing it over his head, he toweled his hair dry. "Sorry if /he /scared you before," he said from under the scarf.
Jakotsu shrugged. "That's okay... It's probably my fault/ he/ was there in the first place." He sat down next to Suikotsu. "I didn't mean to upset you, but I was worried and I thought if I talked to you about it I'd feel better. I just never knew/ he/ felt the same way..." He smiled apologetically.
Suikotsu sighed. "/He'/s the jealous type, and so am I a little..." He frowned as he looked over at his friend.
Jakotsu smiled and patted the claw-bearer's shoulder. "Oh... I can understand that. I get very jealous and possessive of Aniki-chan too... especially when he's whoring." He sat there lost in thought, before turning to Suikotsu, his fears written all over his face. "But what if he's whoring with Ren instead of a woman this time?
Suikotsu shot him a long suffering look. "Now don't start that again. I just got/ him /to calm down."
Jakotsu's eyes widened at the subtle warning. "Okay... Fine with me. I don't want to see him for a loooooooong time. Not that I don't like you, Scary Sui, but I like Calm Sui a lil better..." He smiled nervously at the claw-bearer.
Suikotsu sighed. "I suggest you quit while you're ahead, Jak."
The cross-dresser gulped. "Okay..."
Suikotsu ran the damp scarf over his face again. "Wait, wasn't this your favorite scarf? I remember how happy you were the day Oo-Aniki gave it to you. "
"Yeah... but it's okay." Jakotsu flicked his wrist as if to say "it's nothing."
Suikotsu looked down at the scarf. "Oh dear, I didn't wash off as much blood as I thought. I think some of it was still left in my hair."
"Want me to help you wash it?"
"Nah...I'll get it later." Suikotsu handed Jakotsu the ruined scarf. "I'm sorry, I stained it."
"That's okay. I can always get another one." He flicked open the scarf. "You know what? I think it looks better this way with all the water marks and bloodstains."
Suikotsu laughed. "That may be, but I still don't think Oo-Aniki is going to be happy about it."
"Don't worry about it," Jakotsu said with a shrug. "Besides, he's so busy doing whatever he barely notices me any more..."
"I think you're taking it too hard."
"You do...?" Jakotsu sighed sadly. "But then I guess Ren pays better attention to you so you don't ever feel neglected." He twisted the scarf in his hands. "No, I think Aniki-chan has found someone else, it may not necessarily be Ren, at least I hope not! But there's definitely someone coming between us..."he trailed off softly.
"If you have concerns, why don't you talk to him about them?"
"I try to, but he brushes me off like it's no big deal and I'm being silly. And next thing I know he's decided to go away without me..." Jakotsu said plaintively. "What am I supposed to do, Sui? Accept it? Or fight back? I would but I don't even know who the enemy is..."
The claw-bearer, placing his hand on Jakotsu's head, gently ruffled his hair. "Talk to him and if he tries to brush you off, make him listen, and if he still won't listen, call me and I'll help you pin him to the ground and make him listen."
Jakotsu's mood brightened and he smiled happily. "You will? Thanks, Sui!" He turned and threw his arms around the claw-bearer.
"Meh! What's a parent for, eh?"
Jakotsu pulled away from him and said sadly, "I don't know... I never knew who my father was and I can barely remember what my mother looked like. All I remember was one day she was gone and that was the day my childhood ended..."
Suikotsu gently stroked Jakotsu's hair as the cross-dresser smiled sadly and leaned into him. He loved the affectionate touch as it was something he had never known until he met Bankotsu.
"What was your childhood like...?" Suikotsu asked softly. He had heard some stories about Jakotsu working as a child prostitute, and he often wondered how deeply wounded he was by it. However, he decided not to press the issue when he felt Jakotsu stiffen under his touch. "You don't have to tell me if you don't want to."
Jakotsu shook his head and said bitterly, "It was really shitty..."
"I can imagine..." Suikotsu said softly.
The cross-dresser nodded. "I grew up in a bathhouse with all the other whores and their brats, but unlike the others I wasn't a girl." He sighed. "Kami-sama alone knows why my mother never strangled me at birth, I mean let's face it, I'm not exactly what they want working there. Anyway, I, ummm... started working when I was six because my mother..." He choked on the word. "My mother ran off with one of her clients and I was left behind as payment for her debts."
"Your mother worked there?"
"Yeah... that's why no one knows who the hell my father was. Shit for all I know, he could have been the guy she ran off with. The bitch took my lil sister with her though..." Jakotsu started crying. "She fucking took her, but I was left behind like I was garbage! Why'd she do that, Sui?"
"I don't know... I can't imagine why any parent would ever abandon their..." He trailed off and swallowed hard as the memories of Sedako's labor and subsequent death giving birth to their child washed over him. "...child."
"I thought she loved me, that she wanted me, and then Sumiko was born... and after that she never had time for me any more..."
Suikotsu sat in silent sympathy, gently rubbing circles on Jakotsu's back with one hand as he let him cry.
"I wanted to kill her... She was so defenseless lying there in a basket, you know, I used to watch her sleeping while my mother was working and I remember thinking how nice it would be if she died because then my mother would want me again..." He leaned further into Sui and clung to him as the claw-bearer put a comforting arm around him.
"I'm glad you didn't," Suikotsu said gently, "It's no more her fault than yours..." He sighed. "It's unfortunate that children can't choose their parents."
"Yeah... You know, it was hard at first working there, the things I had to learn how to do and do them so that the client would feel valued and loved, and how hard it was being different from everyone else... the girls were always so mean and they always treated me like shit! Like they were better than me..." He took a deep ragged breath and let it out slowly, calming himself. Smiling, Jakotsu said, "Then this guy came in and the bathhouse owner decided to play a trick on him and I got him as a client..."
"Yeah..." Jakotsu's smile broadened. "Aniki-chan... I entertained him and gave him a bath." He giggled at the memory. "And Aniki-chan must have liked it very much because the next thing I knew I was kissing that hell-hole good-bye... It was the happiest day in my life! I know I will never forget it as long as I live!" Jakotsu tried to smile, but could not and he started crying again. "And now like everyone else I've known, he's going away..." The cross-dresser cried softly into his friend's chest.
"Ssh..." Suikotsu soothed as he gently stroke Jakotsu's hair. "I promise you, he'll be back in two rises of the sun."
"I know... that's what you said earlier, but what if he's only coming back to say good-bye...?" Jakotsu said softly.
Jakotsu picked up on the certainty in the claw-bearer's voice. "How do you know that?"
Suikotsu, annoyed that his violent jealous side wanted to believe Jakotsu's fears, knew Bankotsu was coming back with Renkotsu to build his beloved Jakotsu a love nest. He knew the only way that would be untrue was if Renkotsu had lied to him, and he shook his head to clear away those disturbing thoughts. Still, his violent side seemed to be clinging to a corner of it. Frowning he said, "I just know." And when Jakotsu looked up at him questioningly, he added, "Parents always know." If I'm wrong, then I'll try and gut Ban myself...
Jakotsu relaxed in Suikotsu's arms as he wiped away his tears. "Thanks, Sui..." he said softly.
"You're welcome. You deserve a little happiness."
"Thanks, but I think you deserve it more than I do. You're always so good to me, Sui... I really wish I hadn't, you know..." he trailed off softly, feeling extremely guilty over his little tryst with Renkotsu that had occurred six months ago.
"Children make mistakes, Jak. And Ren is partially responsible as well. Just don't make them again. Remember you're not in the bathhouse any more."
The cross-dresser nodded. "I won't... I never want to go back there again. Shit! I'd rather die first. That's not a life anyone should have to live, Sui..."
"No it's not," Suikotsu said somberly, "Particularly if it's not their choice."
"Yeah... So what was your childhood like Sui?"
The claw-bearer smiled. "I don't think you want to hear about it."
"Why not? Are you afraid it wasn't as glamorous as mine?" Jakotsu teased. "I want to hear a nice story, Sui, about what it's like to have a childhood..." he finished softly.
Suikotsu briefly hesitated as he did not want to rub his happy childhood in Jakotsu's face. But then he decided to tell him anyway because he hoped it would lift their somber mood. Taking a deep breath, he began, "Well... I remember I lived in a village by a lake and it was me, my mother, and my father... My father was the physician there."
Jakotsu nodded. "That's why you're so smart!"
Suikotsu chuckled. "Heh, at least in the ways of medicine, I am."
Jakotsu giggled. "Hell, you're smart in everything!"
The claw-bearer felt his cheeks heating up at the compliment. "Well, I wouldn't know how to build an aqueduct."
"But you picked Ren and he knows..." Jakotsu sat up and smiled impishly at him and Suikotsu felt better knowing his friend's spirits were lifting.
"I guess you're right." The claw-bearer laughed. "Do you want to hear more?"
"Please... So did you have lots of friends and toys to play with?"
"I don't really remember, but I do recall playing with my father's things and making believe I was also a physician. Though my mother was always afraid I would hurt myself."
"Your mother worried about you?" Jakotsu sounded amazed at the concept of a concerned parent.
"Yes," Suikotsu said carefully, "Particularly when I went swimming."
Jakotsu laughed. "I used to go swimming in the baths."
The claw-bearer nodded. "But I think it came from one time during the winter when the lake froze over and the other kids and I were sliding around on the ice. Well I fell through some thin ice."
"Shit! You're lucky to be alive! I remember there was some story going around about a stupid woman who went walking on the ice, you know, where I used to live, and she fell in and they didn't find her body until the next spring. It was the big excitement at the time aside from my idiot mother running off and Kohana having twins... So what happened?"
"Fortunately, I was able to grab onto some thicker ice around the hole and my friends were somehow able to pull me to safety."
Jakotsu smiled. "I'm glad you were okay."
"Yes....though I'm sure my many victims would have preferred I'd drowned then."
Jakotsu, unsure of what to say, nodded for him to continue.
"I remember I got really sick afterwards and my mother was frantic, and she was so happy when I recovered, she was convinced I was near death, but my father said it was never that extreme. But then he might have just been comforting her hysteria."
Suikotsu chuckled. "She wouldn't let me go anywhere near the lake for a long time.
"I bet!" Jakotsu laughed. "But you turned out to be a good swimmer, eh?"
"Yes, as my father finally convinced her that since I had a brush with death and was allowed to survive it was unlikely the gods wanted me dead."
"Think they wanted you alive so we could be friends...?" the cross-dresser said softly.
"Perhaps..." he smiled. "Or perhaps they wanted me to live so I could remove the stick up Ren's ass."
Jakotsu laughed. "That must be his version of a maidenhead, eh?"
Suikotsu frowned. "Maidenhead?"
The cross-dresser laughed. "Some doctor you are! You what that is! It's the thing women have before they have sex for the first time." He laughed again. "You mean I know something you don't? That's scary, Sui..."
"Oh, I know what you are referring to but I have never heard it call that before, though I suppose it makes sense..."
"Yeah right!" Jakotsu chuckled.
The claw-bearer smirked and said in a mock-parental-scolding voice, "Are you laughing at me, young man?"
Jakotsu hugged himself tightly, trying hard to hold back his laughter. "No..." he giggled.
"I think you are!" Suikotsu grabbed the cross-dresser in a head-lock as he gently rapped his knuckles on his head. Jakotsu playfully struggled in his grip as he laughed himself silly. Suikotsu let go and they sat there, laughing.
Finally calming down enough to speak clearly, Jakotsu said, "Thanks for cheering me up, Sui, I really appreciate it..."
The claw-bearer smiled. "You're welcome. Now let's go inside, my hair is still wet and I don't want to catch cold."
"Okay! If you get sick, forget Scary Sui, Scary Ren'll have my ass!" The cross-dresser stood, and turning towards Suikotsu, he reached for his hands and tried to pull him to his feet.
The claw-bearer chuckled as he stood. "Yes, he can be quite an angry little dragon."
They walked back to the house, the fence they were building forgotten in Jakotsu's concern over the claw-bearer's health.
Just as they reached the house, a voice called out to them from the distance, "HEY THERE! WE'RE BACK!!"
"Aniki-chan!! He's back, Sui!" The cross-dresser's smile quickly melted into a frown like snow on a warm spring day.
"Where's Ren?" Suikotsu asked.
"He and Gin stayed back in town to get some stuff we needed," Bankotsu said, and turning towards Jakotsu, and noticing his frown, he said, "Hey, what kind of reception is this?" the hurt clearly heard in his voice.
Jakotsu looked away and back, and smiling sadly he lied, "Sorry, Aniki-chan, my head hurts and I'm worried I might be getting sick..." Jakotsu hugged his beloved, his tight little smiled betraying none of the warring emotions he felt at his return.
"You want me to make you some tea, Sweetness?"
"Sui, Ren should be back soon, he had some inspiration for a new project and wanted to go ahead and get new materials for it."
"What is it?" Jakotsu asked.
"Sorry, Sweetness, he said it was a secret."
"But he told you, right" The cross-dresser pouted.
"Yes...I think it might be another surprise for you, Sui." Bankotsu grinned as Suikotsu shook his head.
"Ooh, that's nice, Sui. I wonder what it is..."
"Ren told me," Bankotsu said, "But it's not for me to betray a confidence."
"Fine! Then don't tell me!" Jakotsu said peevishly.
Ignoring his paramour's outburst, Bankotsu reached into his armor and pulled out a small lacquered box. "Sorry I've been such a bad lover, Sweetness, but I've had a lot stuff on my mind," he said as he handed the box to Jakotsu who took it.
The cross-dresser suddenly brightened. "Thanks..." he leaned over and kissed his beloved, before opening the box. "OOOOH!! They're soo pretty! Look, Sui!" He showed his friend the box of hairpins. "Butterflies!!"
"Very lovely, Jak."
"Thanks..." Smiling happily, Jakotsu reached up and pulled the pin from his hair. His hair cascaded down his back in a neat coil, and then looking in the box, he chose another hairpin to wear in its place.
"Perfect," Bankotsu said of his lover's choice. "Oh good, I do have some fashion sense."
Jakotsu laughed. "That's because you've been paying attention when I tell you things..." He handed the box back to his beloved, and sticking the hairpin in his mouth, he reached around and quickly twisted his hair back up into its familiar coil, neatly pinning it place with the beautiful hairpin. "What you think?" he asked his lover, as he gave his hair a few pats.
"Very pretty," Bankotsu and Suikotsu chorused.
The cross-dresser smiled coyly. "Thanks..." he said demurely.
Bankotsu looked at the claw-bearer as if noticing him for the first time. "Hey, Sui, why are you all wet?"
"He was washing his hair in the aqueduct." Jakotsu giggled. "I want to try that some time..."
"Promise me that's all you'll do, Jak," Suikotsu said. He heaved a long suffering sigh at the impish look on the cross-dresser face.
"Of course, I promise not to anything other than wash my hair and maybe Aniki-chan's in the aqueduct. Besides, I'd rather have fun the hydrangeas." He giggled, and pulling his lover close, he whispered loudly in Bankotsu's ear, "Let's go do it later when he goes to change..."
"I heard that!" The claw-bearer groaned. "I'd better change quickly and finish my fence."
"Oh yeah..." Jakotsu said. "I'm sorry, my Dumpling, but I promised Sui I'd help him finish building his fence. While you were gone, Sui spotted these giant rabbits in the area. I think they're mad Kyo ate their friends..."
Bankotsu looked at his paramour like he had three heads. "Giant... Rabbits..."
Suikotsu, somehow managing to keep a straight-face, looked at the lovers. "Yeah... two of them..."
Jakotsu nodded. "Oh yes! Very naughty rabbits too! They keep squishing poor Sui's plants, right, Sui?"
"Yes...they do... And they're starting to make Sui really, really, really angry..." The claw-bearer said as he headed inside to change out of his wet clothes.
"And we don't want to make Sui angry... It's a pity those poor rabbits don't have a special place of their own..."
Bankotsu grinned. "Yeah... it's too bad."
The cross-dresser sighed. "I wish I had a pet rabbit... one that loved me and only me..." Jakotsu trailed off sadly.
Bankotsu, cupping his paramour's cheek, said, "Well, if I'd known that I would have caught one and brought it home to you."
Jakotsu's face lit up. "You would have?" He held his beloved leader close. "Let's go see if we can find those rabbits... I think I saw them under the hydrangeas."
"Okay, then let's go while he's inside ..." Bankotsu grinned.
"Yeah." Jakotsu giggled and taking his lover by the hand, he dragged him through Suikotsu's garden to their favorite spot, where they spent the late morning acting like rabbits.
Suikotsu finally emerged from the house, and sighing softly, he looked out towards his garden and the wide expanse of fencing that still needed to be built. He was about to head over to where he had left off when he noticed some movement in the area of his beloved hydrangeas.
"Oh, Sweet Kami-sama! No!! Not my hydrangeas again!!" He groaned as he headed towards them. "Out! Out! Out!"
"Hurry, Aniki-chan, before he kills us!" Jakotsu said as he looked up over his shoulder at his lover.
"I'm trying, but I'm not into having an audience and an angry one at that!" Bankotsu replied. He paused, still holding on to his paramour's hips, as he debated with himself the wisdom of continuing.
"Well? Are you going to finish or not...?"
"Those are my wife's favorite plants, you assholes!! Get the hell out of there!"
Jakotsu looked over at the angry claw-bearer. "Really?" he said conversationally, heedless of what he doing with his lover. "Are you done yet, Dumpling?"
"What do you think?" Bankotsu asked as the wisdom of stopping and finishing elsewhere won out over staying put.
Jakotsu picking up on his lover's decision said, "I think we should get the hell out of here before Scary Sui kills us!"