Bad sushi, Jak's upset stomch, a stupid joke, kittens and hermadingles... Renkotsu wonders nine months later if the truth was stranger than fiction.
By VegaSailor and kira
Renkotsu found Jakotsu just outside their room at the inn, heaving his guts up. The cross-dresser had been quietly getting sick after they had eaten for two days now though he had been pretending everything was fine. But enough was enough in Renkotsu's humble opinion. Sauntering over to his friend, he asked, "Morning sickness?"
Jakotsu looked up at him and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. "No, it's more like morning, noon, and night sickness..." He looked apologetically at the fire-breather before turning back to the garden and retching again.
"Must be carrying triplets..."
"Never mind..." And when the cross-dresser shot him a questioning look, he clarified, "Well, if you're vomiting morning, noon and night, you must be carrying triplets."
Jakotsu laughed weakly. "But I can't be knocked up."
"It was a joke, Jak."
"Not funny, Ren. Besides, Aniki-chan has been so neglectful lately we haven't been doing it as much..." Jakotsu said sadly.
"Tsk, tsk, Ban..."
The cross-dresser sighed. "I wish there was a way of getting him to be more attentive..."
The fire-breather chuckled softly as an evil grin tugged at his lips.
Noticing it, Jakotsu asked, "What?"
"How good an actor are you?
"Well, I used to be a whore so how good an actor do you think I am?" Jakotsu chuckled and Renkotsu was pleased to see he appeared to be feeling a bit better.
The fire-breather grinned. "Think you can pretend to be a woman who's knocked up?"
Jakotsu nodded. "I've seen plenty of them working in the bathhouse..." he thought it over. "So, yeah, I think I can do that... But how is that supposed to make Aniki-chan more attentive?"
"Well, he might be more attentive for a while if he thinks he's knocked you up."
"You think?" Jakotsu laughed. "But Aniki-chan's not stupid, Ren, he knows I can't get knocked up.
"Not if Sui and I introduce some obscure knowledge."
"Yeah...?" Jakotsu thought about it. "Ummm... Ren, what's 'obscure' mean?"
"If something's obscure it means it's not well known."
The cross-dresser laughed. "Oh, you mean like a man getting knocked up?"
"Yup." Renkotsu smiled. "Ever hear of a hermaphrodite?"
"A hermaphrodite. They're people who have the sexual organs of both men and women."
The cross-dresser looked stunned as he took in that bit of knowledge. "There are people like that?"
Renkotsu nodded. "They're very, very rare."
"I see..." Jakotsu nodded. "So we tell Aniki-chan I'm one of those...? But he knows I don't have a bitch crack and thank sweet Kami-sama for that!! Still, I don't know..."
"Well, we can explain that even though you don't have the external parts of a woman, you still have the internal parts, you know, like a womb." He grinned. "Just to be sure, I'll converse with Sui about it. He knows more about it than I do, but I think we can pull this off."
"Okay... if you think so, then I'll do it!" Jakotsu laughed, quickly regretting it when his stomach rebelled again.
Renkotsu knelt next to the cross-dresser and gently rubbed his back as he got sick all over the garden again. "Uh, Jak, can you walk?"
Jakotsu sat up and hugged his sore stomach. "I don't think so... Can you carry me? Please...? I wish I was home..."
The fire-breather sighed. "I suppose I don't have much of a choice seeing as Ban would kill me if I left you here. And don't give me that look. Despite neglecting you very badly, he still cares for you." Renkotsu groaned when Jakotsu's eyes welled up with tears. "And for Kami's sake stop crying! Shit! I said I'd carry you home... Now get on." He turned away from the cross-dresser and waited while Jakotsu scooted closer and threw his arms around the claw-bearer's neck. Renkotsu counted to three and then hefted Jakotsu up on his back. "Ready? And uh, Jak, please let me know if you start feeling sick again so I can put you down and get out of firing range."
"Will do..." Jakotsu said softly as he laid his head on Renkotsu's shoulder. "And thanks for everything, Ren..."
"Hey! Don't get all cuddly; like I said before, I'm only bringing you home because Ban'll kill me if I didn't."
"I won't..." The cross-dresser sighed. "I honestly feel like shit, so you're safe with me this time, Ren. You know, the sad part about all of this will be if Aniki-chan suddenly decides he wants some, because I don't want any..." Feeling suddenly nauseous again, Jakotsu begged to be let down and not a moment too soon. "Excuse me..." he said, and turning away from Renkotsu, he vomited.
The claw-bearer shook his head. "I told you not to eat that sushi. It looked bad and now I can see it was bad," he smirked.
Jakotsu laughed weakly. "I know... but I couldn't help it. You know how much I love tuna rolls! And as much as I love kappa rolls, I had a sudden craving for tuna..."
Renkotsu let out a long suffering sigh. "Are you sure you're not knocked up?"
"Never mind..." Renkotsu said as he helped Jakotsu climb back up on his back. They made their way home as quickly as they could despite Jakotsu's frequent need to stop.
As they sighted home, Renkotsu whispered, "Now when we approach, you don't know you're knocked up yet. You're just really sick like you are now. We'll get Sui to examine you and that's when you explain things to him"
"Okay... Ummm, Ren...? Is there any way you can go faster? I think I'm going to be sick again and I really want Aniki-chan..."
The fire-breather shifted his friend and quickened his pace. "Hold on; we're almost there."
"Okay..." Jakotsu groaned as another wave of nausea hit him. "PUT ME DOWN!! NOW!!"
Renkotsu, in one swift movement, hauled the cross-dresser off his back and set him down, holding his hair back as Jakotsu got sick again. "Shit! How much of that crap did you eat...?" he muttered softly.
"I want to go home..." Jakotsu said plaintively. He retched again and spat, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.
"I know," Ren said as he bent to pick him up. "We're almost there. Look there's the house. It won't be long now, just a lil longer."
"Okay..." Jakotsu said as he closed his eyes and held onto to Renkotsu a little tighter. "Ummm, Ren, next I see tuna rolls remind me about this..."
"You can be sure I will."
As they made their way towards the house, Jakotsu said, "I think I see Aniki-chan... Hurry, Ren."
Back at the house, Suikotsu and Bankotsu were sitting outside, playing go in the late afternoon sunshine. They had been waiting for their comrades to return home from negotiations with a local daimyo, and Bankotsu was starting to worry as they should have been home yesterday.
"Oo-Aniki, there they are! I told you they'd be home today. You see, you were worried over nothing."
"Hunh?" The young leader of the Shichinintai looked up from the go board. "Oh good. I can't wait until they get here. Do you think I should show Jak the pavilion now or wait until after dinner? I hope he likes it..."
"Why don't you save the surprise? And I'm sure he'll love it. It looks like your rooms at the house, so what's not to love?" The claw-bearer chuckled softly over the pavilion's resemblance to the local bordello. "Here they come now."
"Hey, where's Jak?"
"It looks like Ren's carrying him... that can't be good. I wonder if he's sick and if he is, he must be really ill if Ren's got him."
"Shit!" Bankotsu swore as they hurried over to them. "He was fine when they left a week ago."
"Sometimes it takes a few days for an illness to make itself known."
"Sweetness...?" Bankotsu, who had hurried ahead, said to Jakotsu as he came over to them.
"Sorry we took so long, but your girlfriend's knocked up," Renkotsu said.
"What? Who's girlfriend?" Bankotsu said softly. He was upset over Jakotsu's listlessness and pallor and he could not wait to get him inside so Suikotsu could look him over.
"Yours..." Renkotsu motioned with his head towards the cross-dresser.
"What?! He can't be knocked up, you idiot!" Bankotsu said with a laugh.
Jakotsu moaned softly. "Aniki-chan... I want to go lie down... I don't feel too good..." He sighed dramatically.
"Are you okay, Sweetness?"
Suikotsu took that as his cue to see to the cross-dresser. "What's wrong, Jak?"
"No, Aniki-chan... Sui, I'm tired all the time and my stomach feels sick. I can't keep anything down...And I feel like I want to faint..."
"Come here," Suikotsu said softly as he helped the cross-dresser get off Renkotsu's back where he collapsed into the claw-bearer's waiting arms.
"What's wrong with me, Sui...?"
Suikotsu picked him up. "Let me take you inside and figure it out."
"Okay... you wait here, Aniki-chan, in case I'm sick with something really bad..."
The claw-bearer nodded. "That's a good idea. We don't want it to spread too much." He frowned as he could see there was something definitely wrong with the cross-dresser, but he had also seen the subtle shake of his lover's head, signaling there was something more going on here.
"Okay... Let me know what's wrong with him as soon as possible, Sui." The young leader of the Shichinintai turned to his second-in-command. "Ren, while they're inside I want to know what the daimyo said. "
The claw-bearer nodded. "He wants us to break through the defenses of rival's fortress. He'll contact us in a week's time with more details."
"Good! It sounds like a job to me!" Smiling, he suddenly grew serious. "So what happened to Jak? He was fine when he left here...They didn't poison him, did they?"
"No." Renkotsu assured him. He turned the conversation back to their latest mission. "So I'd say in about another week we should have the first payment along with instructions on where to go."
Meanwhile Suikotsu was busy inside tending to Jakotsu.
"Jak, did you eat anything bad?"
The cross-dresser nodded. "Yeah... I had some tuna rolls that turned out to be bad, but I don't want you telling Aniki-chan that."
"Why not? Or is there something else going on here that I should know about?" Suikotsu asked as he examined Jakotsu.
"Well, Ren said we should tell him I'm knocked up cuz he's being a real shit and neglecting me... He said there's nothing like a baby to get your lover to pay a lot of attention to you! Please, Sui... I miss him and all..."
Suikotsu stopped examining him, sighed, and looked at Jakotsu strangely. "Explain that again and I'll pretend it makes sense."
Jakotsu smiled and took a deep breath. "I ate bad tuna rolls and got sick, which I think I'm going to be again..." He closed his eyes and grabbed his stomach, prompting Suikotsu to hand him a large basin to get sick in. Wiping his mouth, Jakotsu said, "Ren said I should pretend to be knocked up as it would be a good way to get back at Aniki-chan. He said too that you know it's possible and if you said it was Aniki-chan'll believe you..."
"So this is all supposed to be a joke?"
"Yeah... I guess so. That's what Ren said it was. I don't get it, but if it'll make Aniki-chan pay more attention to me then I'm willing to do it. So you'll help me...?"
Suikotsu sighed as he doubted the wisdom of this, but he understood the reasoning behind it. His lover, Renkotsu, had been complaining for the past two months that their leader was making him crazy with all the demands to hurry up and finish the love-nest he was asked to build as a surprise for his beloved cross-dresser, as well as poor Jakotsu, who was sick with worry that Bankotsu was thinking of leaving him because of all the neglect. "Well, if Ren is in on it, then I suppose I should, although I want you to know I don't think it's a good idea."
Jakotsu smiled weakly. "Thanks, Sui, I really appreciate it..." he closed his eyes again and swallowed. "Now is there anything I can do to stop throwing up?"
"It sounds like you have the sickness you get from eating spoiled foods. It's a kind of like being poisoned by one of Mu's lil goodies." He smiled. "Throwing up is just your body's way of getting rid of the bad food."
"But I ate that bad sushi days ago..."
"It takes time to get it all out of your system. However, I do know of something I can give you to make you feel better."
"You do...? Thanks Sui! Oh wait... if I'm supposed to be knocked up, I have to keep throwing up, right?"
"Not necessarily. "
"I could tell Oo-Aniki the medicine I'm giving you to relive your symptoms is a common remedy for women in your condition." He chuckled.
"Thank you, Sui, I owe you big time!"
Suikotsu smiled and shook his head. "Now how the hell am I supposed to explain how you got impregnated?" At Jakotsu's questioning look, he clarified, "Knocked up."
"Oh that's easy! Ren said you know all about hermadingles," Jakotsu said and Suikotsu looked at him like he had three heads as he silently mouthed "hermadingles."
"You know, Sui, the people with the boy and girl parts...?"
"Oh, hermaphrodites, well I suppose I could say you are a rare form of one where a uterus is connected to the rectum. Luckily for you, Ban knows about as much about anatomy as you do."
"Ummm... yeah..." Jakotsu lay back with his eyes closed, feeling happy about the whole situation. Soon he would have his beloved Bankotsu doting upon him again as well as merciful relief for his rebellious stomach as soon as Suikotsu made him something for it. As far as he was concerned, everything was starting to look right in the world again.
"I'll be right back with that remedy" Suikotsu said softly, leaving Jakotsu alone with his thoughts. As he stepped out of the room, the claw-bearer saw Bankotsu and Renkotsu waiting outside for him. Putting on his best look of "surprise at seeing a ghost," Suikotsu tried to "ignore" them as he headed outside, towards his herb garden.
"Sui, what's wrong? Is Jak okay? Can I see him?"
The claw-bearer paused and addressed his leader, "Ummm... how do I explain this...?"
Bankotsu paled, and swallowed nervously. "He not going to... die?" he said softly and Suikotsu felt a strong desire to smack his lover upside the head for worrying their leader over nothing.
"No! No! No! He's not going to die!"
The relief he felt was clearly seen on Bankotsu's face. "Then what's wrong with him?"
"Jak is ill because..." Suikotsu paused to take a deep breath. "Because he's bearing your child."
Bankotsu's look of surprise quickly dissolved into laughter. "Good one, Sui!" he wheezed out between laughs.
The claw-bearer, who shared his leader's opinion on this, tried his best not to laugh and he was surprised he was able to keep a straight face as he said, "No, Ban, I'm serious..."
"But he's a guy and well guys don't go around bearing children. Making them..." Ban laughed again. "But bearing them? How the hell is that possible?"
Renkotsu stood amongst the shadows, biting his lip, in an effort to hold back his laughter.
Suikotsu took a deep breath and looking his leader straight in the eye he said, "Jak is different... He's what you'd call a hermaphrodite."
"A hermawhat? What the hell kind of shit is that, Sui? I know he acts weird at times, but that's part of his charms..."
The claw-bearer cleared his throat as he choked back a laugh. "A hermaphrodite is a person who has both male and female parts..."
"No shit!" Bankotsu exclaimed as his shaggy eyebrows shot up under his bangs. "So that's why he acts like a girl, cuz he really is one?!"
"Wait! He doesn't have a woman's thing..."
Suikotsu tiredly rubbed his forehead. "No, he doesn't have the external parts; however he does have a womb, and I'm guessing it's somehow connected to his rectum since he doesn't have a vagina."/ I can't believe I just said that.../
"His what?" What the fuck is he talking about...?
Suikotsu heaved a long suffering sigh. "The opening where you enter Jak."
Bankotsu felt his cheeks heating up. "Oh yeah... so his ass is connected to his womb?"
The claw-bearer nodded. "Essentially, yes." /I hope you're enjoying this, Ren.../he thought as he stole a quick glance at his lover.
"Wow... So he's really knocked up? And I did it?" Bankotsu looked at the claw-bearer with the same goofy smile on his face that he had seen hundreds of times on expectant fathers' faces. "Can I go see him?"
Suikotsu sighed as he felt this had gone on long enough, but he continued to play along against his better judgment. "He's still a little sick right now, but I think he would like your company while I make him something to relieve his symptoms."
"Okay!" Bankotsu grinned broadly. "Here that, Ren? I'm going to be a daddy!" he said smugly as he followed Suikotsu back into the house.
Renkotsu smiled. "Congrats, Ban!" he said and as soon as they were safely inside he turned on heel and headed towards his workshop. He got about halfway there when he burst out laughing. "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!"
Ginkotsu, who had heard they back and wanted to hear how the mission went, hurried over to his friend. "What's so funny, Ren?"
Renkotsu sat down outside the workshop. "Nothing..." he squeaked out, his eyes dancing with merriment.
Ginkotsu, unable to smile with his metal jaw, smiled with his eye instead. "It doesn't sound like nothing..."
The fire-breather grinned. "Only the best joke in the world!!" he laughed.
"What?" Ginkotsu, finding the fire-breather's laughter infectious, chuckled.
Renkotsu was nearly doubled over with laughter, and finding it hard to speak, he gasped, "Sui told...HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!! He told Ban...HAHAHAHAHA...He told Ban... Jak was knocked up!" The fire-breather roared with laughter.
"He didn't?!" Ginkotsu laughed. "But how can Jak be with child? He's a he! Oo-Aniki can't possibly be stupid enough to believe it!" He laughed.
Between snickers, Renkotsu choked out, "No he's not... it's just a joke...hehehehe... between me and Jak and Sui.... Sui told...Ban Jak's a hermaphrodite.... HAHAHAHA!! You know a person who's got male and female parts..." He sat there, laughing. "Sui was really clever...and...hehehehe Ban believed it! You shoulda seen his face!" Renkotsu burst out laughing again.
Ginkotsu joined him in his laughter. "He didn't?! I wish I could have seen it, Ren, it must have been funny!"
"It was!" Renkotsu replied. "I mean how many times have you seen me prostrate with laughter?"
"Not many! HAHAHAHA! Did he get all goofy on you?"
"How do you mean?" The fire-breather giggled.
"All new fathers get this goofy look on their faces as if they can't believe they've actually made a baby!" Ginkotsu chuckled.
The fire-breather thought about it. "Sweet Kami he did!" He held his stomach and doubled over with laughter.
"Damn! I wish I saw that!" The half-metal man chuckled. "So how's the lil mother doing?"
Renkotsu shrugged. "I don't know..." He giggled. "Hey, how about when I get control of my body I sketch Ban's face for you?"
"Please do!! HAHAHAHA!!"
Suikotsu, who had been in his herb garden digging up some ginger root, looked up at the sound of their laughter. He sighed angrily and strode over to them. "It wasn't that funny, Ren."
"It sure sounded like it, Sui!" Ginkotsu chuckled.
Renkotsu looked up at his lover and smirked, "The hell it wasn't!"
The claw-bearer stood there and closed his eyes. He could picture their leader's face when he heard the news and try as he might, Suikotsu could not hold back his laughter. He chuckled low in his throat, his muffled laughter finally erupting in a large guffaw.
Renkotsu looked him straight in the eye and said, "AHA!" before the three of them collapsed with laughter.
Back in the house Bankotsu searched for his lover. He first went to their room and when there was no sign of him there, he quickly headed to Suikotsu's room. Knocking softly on the inner shoji, he said softly, "Sweetness...?"
Jakotsu, who was outside getting sick in Suikotsu's tiny courtyard garden, said softly, "Out here..."
Bankotsu, following the sound of his voice, was by his lover's side seconds later. "You okay?" he asked softly as he sat down next top him and pulled him close.
The cross-dresser shook his head and sighed. "My stomach's being mean to me again."
Bankotsu gently rubbed Jakotsu's back and the cross-dresser appreciated the comforting touch.
"Awe...you poor thing." Ban held him closer. "Sweetness, Sui told me that's because you're with child," he said softly.
Jakotsu swallowed hard. "Yeah... Sui said I was one of those hermadingle people...
His beloved leader kissed his cheek. "I know. I always knew you were special and this just confirms it." Bankotsu gently cupped his lover's cheeks, and drawing his face closer, he kissed him on the nose.
Jakotsu, feeling guilty about tricking him, stiffened under his touch. "Yeah..." he said softly.
Bankotsu noticed the change in his lover's demeanor, but chose to ignore it. Instead, he smiled at him and said, "I'm so happy we made a baby. Sweetness, I wish you were feeling better as I have a special surprise for you. It was something I was planning long before the baby came along. But I am glad that despite my being preoccupied and a terrible neglectful lover, we still found the time to make a baby."
"Yeah..." Jakotsu suddenly looked up at Bankotsu in surprise. "What is it?"
"Can you walk? I'll take you there."
"I think so..."
Bankotsu helped his lover up and together they made their way to Suikotsu's pleasure garden. But instead of going in there, Bankotsu lead his beloved along the outer perimeter to a small building set in the shade of a large pine.
Jakotsu felt his eyes well up with tears as he recognized some of his favorite plants from the claw-bearer's garden were also planted around the building. The building itself was rather simple in design, and yet it complimented the main buildings as well as sitting beautifully in with the landscape.
Taking Jakotsu by the hand, Bankotsu lead him up onto the tiny veranda, towards the shoji leading inside. He let go of his lover's hand and slid back the door, reveling an opulent room. "Come..."
They stepped inside and Bankotsu quickly unrolled a futon and made his beloved as comfortable as he could. He could see that something besides his upset stomach was troubling the cross-dresser and he waited patiently for his lover to enlighten him.
Jakotsu looked around the room from his position on the futon. It finally dawned on him exactly why Bankotsu had been spending so much time alone with Renkotsu and why he was often sent off on missions with the others while they remained behind.
"I'm such a shit!" Jakotsu said sadly. "And I don't deserve someone as wonderful as you!"
"That's not true! It's me who doesn't deserve you! I'm the shit, Sweetness. I'm the one who neglected you and probably made you sick with worry over it. I'm sorry..." Bankotsu finished softly.
"No, I'm the one who should be sorry... I ummm... lied to you, Aniki-chan. I'm not knocked up..." Jakotsu trailed off and looked away, trying to hide his tears from his lover.
"I know that," Bankotsu chuckled.
Jakotsu looked back at him in surprise. "What? How'd you know?"
"I knew cuz there's no such thing as a hermadingle, that's how. I figured it was some bullshit Ren made up and talked Sui into going along with. You shoulda seen his face when he told me. I could see he wanted to laugh." The leader of the Shichinintai chuckled. "They think I'm stupid, and I don't want you telling them otherwise, Sweetness, but I do know a thing or two," he said, tapping himself on the temple.
Jakotsu smiled. "I know! I could see you were very smart when I first met you... I'm glad you're not mad at me or Sui and Ren, right?"
"Yup... I'm not mad. I deserved the whole thing and then some." Bankotsu gently stroked his lover's cheek. "I've neglected you so much that you went and got knocked up..." They laughed as Bankotsu held him close. "And I probably made Ren crazy with all my demands to have this ready as soon as possible for you."
The cross-dresser sighed. "I love you so much, Dumpling..." He kissed his lover long and hard.
"I love you too, Sweetness..." Bankotsu said as he broke the kiss. Grinning at his beloved, he said, "So how about we break this place in and have some fun? Unless you're still feeling sick...?"
"I'm feeling much better now that I'm here with you, but we can't nookie."
"Why not?" Bankotsu said; the surprise and hurt he felt clearly heard in his voice.
Jakotsu giggled. "Nookie's for making a baby, my lil dumpling..." he said saucily.
"Part of the fun of making a baby, Sweetness, is in the trying and failing so you get to try again and again..."
"I know that, but you're forgetting one thing, Aniki-chan." The cross-dresser smiled slyly.
"What's that?" Bankotsu frowned.
"I'm already knocked up..." Jakotsu giggled.
"Are you starting that again..?"
"What do you think...?" the cross-dresser said mysteriously. His smile quickly fading as a wave of nausea washed over him, Jakotsu sat up. He struggled to his feet, and he dashed outside, leaving a stunned Bankotsu behind. Despite what his beloved had told him, Jakotsu was more inclined to believe the others, and yet, he truly wished his lover was right as he was tired of being sick.
Bankotsu sighed and followed his lover outside. He was soon at Jakotsu's side, murmuring little words of comfort. Bankotsu pulled him into his arms, and holding him close, he said softly, "Come, I think you should go lie down inside while I go see what's keeping Sui with that remedy."
Bankotsu stormed off towards the main house after he had seen to it that the cross-dresser was resting comfortably back inside. He spotted subordinants laughing it up outside the fire-breather's workshop and he paused to rein in his anger, before sauntering over to them.
"What's so funny?"
"No?" Bankotsu said; quirking an eyebrow at them. "Can I see it, Ren?"
"It's nothing, Ban."
"Come, Oo-Aniki, I have Jak's remedy ready," Suikotsu said as he motioned for their leader to come inside.
The leader of the Shichinintai narrowed his eyes at his second-in-command and his friend, before turning on his heel and following the claw-bearer.
"Oh shit, we're in trouble now, Ren," Ginkotsu said.
"Not necessarily, if Jak is still heaving his guts out and Ban thinks we're laughing about that, then all we need to do is explain we were laughing at something else. I can always do a few quick sketches to show him later."
"I don't know, Ren..."
"Don't worry about it, Gin. Besides, he had it coming to him with all his demands. I've had to hire several work crews to get it done because he was such a pain in the ass about it they kept quitting on me."
Bankotsu and Suikotsu had walked about half way to the claw-bearer's room when he turned to his leader and said, "You know don't you?"
"Yeah... You had me going too, right up until you started with all that shit about hermadingles. But it's not funny any more cuz Jak honestly believes you."
"Yeah," Bankotsu said tersely. "So how are you going to explain it? I'll admit I deserved it as I'm sure was a bit of pain there, but I'm not going to be happy if Jak winds up hurt because of it."
"No, and I wouldn't want that either..."Suikotsu said. "Ban, he was worried about losing you and oddly enough, Jak was wondering if you were looking for an heir."
"I wish I was."
Bankotsu sighed. "At this point in my life, that's the farthest thing on my mind. There'll be time enough for that when I'm an old man." He chuckled.
"Okay..." the claw-bearer trailed off, lost in thought. "Ban, why not give him a 'child' to take care of?"
"I thought we already established the possibility of that happening, Sui."
"No, not a real child as you would definitely need a woman and that would complicate things. No, you need something else that'll be more of a substitute child. It'll still fulfill the same need to nurture something, yet be totally independent at the same time and I know just the thing."
"Alright, I'll bite. What's this child thing that isn't a child?"
"A cat...?" Bankotsu looked at the claw-bearer like he had three heads. "How the hell is that supposed to work?"
"Trust me it will, especially if it came from you. I know for a fact Jak was upset when Kyo ate Toraneko-san and I thought about finding another cat for him after that. And oddly enough, I did find one that's going to have kittens."
"Yup, and let's go, the ginger tea's ready and I'm sure Jak's probably fretting about you taking so long. Honestly, Ban, he claims to have eaten some sushi that was most likely bad and now he's paying for it along with some guilt over worrying about you leaving him. What I suggest you do is simply do as you always do and pamper him and indulge him and if he's still going on about it, I'll explain to him what it's like to be in labor and combine that with some major constipation..."
"And he'll be pleased to find out he's not really a hermadingle?"
Six months had passed by uneventfully as everyone settled down for the winter months. Bankotsu and Jakotsu had moved permanently into their love-nest and rarely left the place, which no one seemed to notice or care about. So no one knew for sure whether or not Jakotsu actually did grow big with child as the fire-breather had joked about.
When spring arrived, Bankotsu left his paramour behind to go into town to pick up his present.
He entered the little shop where Suikotsu had treated the owner's son last winter for a broken arm and inquired about the kittens.
"Yes, they're ready to go, Bankotsu-sama. Have you decided which one you want?" The shopkeeper's wife asked as she led him to the back of the store where her family slept.
"I thought the little black and white tom cat is cute...and I think Jakotsu will like him a lot."
"I think so too," she said as she picked up the kitten. "It's a pity his other cat died so suddenly like that."
"Yeah..." Bankotsu said, feigning sadness. "And I thank you for letting me pick one out before anyone else."
"You're welcome, Bankotsu-sama. And please tell Suikotsu-sama that his new kimono is ready."
"I will," Bankotsu said as he took the kitten and carefully tucked him inside his kimono.
The little black and white ball of fluff settled in happily and the young leader of the Shichinintai was able to smuggle him home without any trouble.
"Hunh...?" Jakotsu said with a yawn. "How long have I been sleeping?" he asked as he sat up and stretched.
"Just long enough for me to slip into town and back. I've got your present."
"Really?" Jakotsu smiled in anticipation.
"Close your eyes..." Bankotsu waited as he did what he was bidden, he said, "And hold out your hands..."
The cross-dresser sat there, wondering what his lover was going to give him, when he felt a fuzzy warmth in his hands. Opening his eyes, he squealed with delight, "What a cute lil kitty?! Thank you, Dumpling!"
"You're welcome. I hope this makes up for all the nonsense you went through and worry I caused you..."
Jakotsu nodded, and looking up at his lover, he gave him a shy little half smile. "And I'm sorry about all the nonsense too, Dumpling-chan...."
"So what are you going to call him?"
"Baby..." Jakotsu said impishly.
"Yup, cuz I think it's cute you finally gave me one."
Bankotsu laughed. "What? A cat?"
"No, silly, a baby..."
A few days later Bankotsu was sorry he had ever brought the kitten home because all his paramour did was dote on the stupid thing much to his annoyance. So when Jakotsu teasingly asked if he wanted to have some fun, Bankotsu heartily agreed.
He chased his paramour around the room amid much giggling on the cross-dresser's part as he playfully avoided him.
"You can't catch me!" Jakotsu smirked.
"The hell I can't!" Bankotsu grinned wickedly as he feinted left and quickly moved to the right, catching the cross-dresser off guard.
Jakotsu squealed in surprise and as he dashed out of the way he tripped over Baby and went sprawling onto the floor. Landing badly on his arm, the cross-dresser unleashed a torrent of curses, scaring Baby, who took off for the safety of his basket.
"Sweetness, what happened? Are you alright?" Bankotsu said as he knelt and helped his paramour sit up.
The cross-dresser cried out in pain. "No, I'm not fucking alright!"
"Where's it hurt?"
"My shoulder, it hurts like hell... and my arm feels weird...Hurry up and get Sui..." he gasped through gritted teethed.
"Okay, I'll be right back. Just don't move your arm, okay, until Sui gets a look at it."
"Aniki-chan, it hurts so fucking bad, that the very thought of moving my arm is making it throb with even more pain.... hurry... please!"
Bankotsu nodded and quickly took off for the main house. He was worried as he had never seen Jakotsu react that way to pain before and he wondered how seriously he was hurt. Worry lent speed to his feet as he raced across the compound and minutes later he hurried up the two steps leading to Suikotsu's room. He knocked briefly and entered without waiting for the claw-bearer to respond.
Suikotsu looked up from where he sat, sorting his dried herbs. "What is it, Oo-Aniki?"
"You've gotta come quickly! Jak's in a lot of pain!"
"What?" The claw-bearer tried to hold back the joke in his head but could not as his leader reminded him very much of an expectant father. He also had the feeling Renkotsu was listening to every word they said even though he was pretending to be engrossed in his sketching. Sighing softly, Suikotsu said, "Is he in labor already?"
It was enough to calm Bankotsu down, and rolling his eyes at the stupid joke, he said, "Yes! Now hurry up and get your ass over there!"
"Let's go!" Suikotsu got up and followed his leader across the compound to the love-nest. "I'm sorry, Ban, that was bad... What really happened to him?"
Bankotsu chuckled. "That's okay; it was worth the look on Ren's face when you said it..." The two of them laughed. "Seriously, he tripped over Baby and hurt his arm and shoulder. He can't move it and he's holding it kind of funny and he's wailing worse than a woman in labor. It's got to be bad with all that drama..."
"He tripped over what?"
"Baby. That's what he's calling that damned cat."
"Cat? Oh right, you were going to get him one."
"Yeah..." Bankotsu made a little sound of disgust. "I don't know if that was such a great idea, Sui, as all he's been doing is playing with that damn thing and cuddling it and I swear he'd dress it up like a real baby if he could..." He rubbed his forehead as they stepped up onto the love-nest's veranda.
Suikotsu chuckled. "Jealous?"
"Jealous? Me?" He looked at him in surprise.
The claw-bearer smirked. "Jealous of the cat..." he shook his head. "It would seem the tables have turn, my friend."
"Yeah..." Bankotsu said sarcastically. "As if I'd be jealous of that thing."
Just then Jakotsu let out another barrage of curses.
"Oh hell, I think we'd better hurry." He slid open the shoji. "We're here, Sweetness."
"Hey, Jak," Suikotsu said as he followed his leader inside. "What seems to be the problem?"
Jakotsu, looking very pale and drawn, tears of pain streaming down his cheeks, wailed, "It hurts!! IT FUCKING HURTS!! And did I say it HURTS?!"
Suikotsu winced as he knelt down next to the cross-dresser and took his injured arm and moved it ever so slightly.
"AAAAAAARRRGH!! WHAT PART OF IT 'FUCKING HURTS' DON'T YOU UNDERSTAND, SUI?"
"Sssh...." The claw-bearer soothed as he carefully reached up and put a hand on the cross-dresser's shoulder.
"AAAAAARRRGH!! DON'T TOUCH ME!!!" Jakotsu wailed. "IT FUCKING HURTS!! AND IT'S ALLYOUR FAULT TOO!!" He glared at his lover.
Bankotsu, meanwhile, had knelt by his paramour and held his hand, wincing every time Jakotsu cried out in pain and squeezed it.
"Jakotsu, deal with it!" Suikotsu said sternly. "I have to figure out what the problem is."
"I can't! I've never felt anything like this before and it hurts so fucking badly that I want to die!! Can't you give me anything?" the cross-dresser whined.
"Listen; you're going to be okay." Suikotsu said as he gently examined the cross-dresser's shoulder. "Hmmm...You've dislocated your shoulder. And if you be quiet and just let me fix the problem first, I can give you something for the pain afterwards because I don't have time to make you something right now. But for now, you're just going to have to bear it!"
"I don't want to bear it!" the cross-dresser wailed. "I want my Baby!"
"Calm down or you'll crush your baby! You're already crushing Oo-Aniki's hand!"
"But it hurts!!"
"Deal with it!"
"I don't want to! I just want the pain to go away!! NOW!! Besides, it's all his fault I'm hurting in the first place!"
"What? I didn't do anything! You're the one who wanted some nookie!"
Suikotsu took a deep calming breath, and ignoring their outburst he said, "Oo-Aniki, help me with this. I need you to push down over here." He pointed out an area on the cross-dresser's shoulder.
"Sure, anything to get him to shut up and stop whining."
"I'm not whining!!"
Ignoring Jakotsu, the claw-bearer said, "Get behind him, and on three I want you to push while I pull!"
Bankotsu nodded as he moved into position. "Ready..."
"One... two... three... PUSH!"
"AAAAAAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHH!! It hurts!! Stop it!!"
As Suikotsu pulled on Jakotsu's arm, Bankotsu carefully pushed on the top of his shoulder. Despite Jakotsu's screams of pain, they had to do it several times before it popped back into place. As he collapsed into Bankotsu's arms, Baby came over to see what all the fuss was about.
Meanwhile, Renkotsu, who had hurried over to the love-nest as soon as he could without alerting his leader or the claw-bearer, waited outside with Ginkotsu.
"Oh sweet Kami-sama..."
"He really is in labor..." Ginkotsu finished as they stared in horror at each other.
The fire-breather paled. "He really is a hermadingle... err...dite."
"Apparently so..." Ginkotsu winced when the cross-dresser screamed in pain again.
"I can't believe this..." Renkotsu said softly. "It was... supposed to be... just a... joke..."
"Yes... Poor Jak..."
"Wait! This is a big problem, we're mercenaries! We can't have a kid running around!"
"I know! What are we going to do, Ren?"
Renkotsu thought it over. "Well... we could take it to the village to be cared for, though I bet Jak is going to have a hissy fit over that..."
"Oh yeah! But I also don't think Oo-Aniki's going to be too happy about that as well."
"Well, he's just going to have to listen to reason, Gin!"
"Very true, but I wouldn't want to be the one to tell him."
"Neither would I, but he's got to know it's far more dangerous for the child to be with us."
Ginkotsu nodded. "Hmmm... perhaps we could get a woman to come here and care for it. You know, they might go for that especially if Oo-Aniki decides the child is to remain here. That way they'll both be able to fight alongside us as usual."
Renkotsu smiled. "Hmmm... That's not a bad idea, good job, Gin."
The half-metal man nodded. "Thank you... Now the question is; who's going to tell them?"
"I guess I'll have to... or wait! We could have Sui tell them as Ban's less likely to bash his brains in."
"Excellent idea, Ren! We'll ask him to do it when he comes out. That way, when Oo-Aniki and Jak are enjoying getting to know their new baby, Sui can come back and break the news to them."
"Hey, the screaming's stopped..."
"You're right... But I don't hear any crying."
Inside the love-nest Baby came over to them and mewled softly.
"Wait..." Renkotsu held up a hand for Ginkotsu to be quiet. "I think I hear it."
"You sure? I can't hear a thing."
The fire-breather nodded. "My hearing is a little more acute than yours; anyway, I think I heard it again."
"That's true," Ginkotsu said. "So what does it sound like, a boy or a girl?"
"I can't tell, as I can barely hear it. Shit! That poor baby must be weak."
"Noooo... That would be such a tragedy if something happened to it. Maybe it's got a soft cry because it's a girl...?"
Renkotsu, thinking it over, grinned. "I will laugh so hard if it is a girl."
"Yes, that would be funny if Jak had a daughter!" Ginkotsu chuckled.
"It would serve him right!"
"Yes it would!"
They laughed, quickly containing it when Suikotsu emerged.
"Gin? Ren what are you...?" the claw-bearer started to ask, when Renkotsu brushed past him and entered the room.
"I've got to see this!" the fire-breather said to no one in particular.
"See what?" Bankotsu said as he looked up over his paramour's shoulder. Jakotsu was happily resting between his legs, looking very much like a woman who had just given birth.
"So is it a boy or a...?" Renkotsu paused when he saw the little black and white kitten crawl out from between Jakotsu's legs. The tiny ball of fluff looked up at him expectantly and meowed softly. Renkotsu stood there speechless, opening and closing his mouth in disbelief, looking very much like a koi out of water, before his eyes rolled back in his head and he fainted.
"He's a boy..." Jakotsu murmured. He opened his eyes when he heard a loud thud. "Aniki-chan, what happened to Ren?"
"Mew...?" Baby meowed as he pawed the bottom of Renkotsu's foot.
Suikotsu reentered the room when he heard the thud. Looking down at his lover, he said, "I think he just had an illogic overload."
"A what...?" the cross-dresser said as Bankotsu sat there, laughing softly in his ear.
"It's kind of like that time he caught Scary Sui making daisy chains."
Jakotsu blinked owlishly at him. "What?"
"That was so funny!" Bankotsu chuckled.
"The poor thing can only deal with so much illogic at one time," Suikotsu deadpanned, although his eyes twinkled with merriment.
"Yeah... Poor thing." Bankotsu laughed.
Ginkotsu, deciding to see what all the commotion was about, knocked and cautiously sticking his head inside, said, "Oo-Aniki? Is everything alright?" When Bankotsu nodded he entered the room. "How's Jak and the baby?"
The claw-bearer sighed wearily. "Jak didn't have a baby."
"Nope! That's cuz I already have one..." The cross-dresser smiled. "Come're, Baby!"
"Mew!" the kitten meowed.
"Jak has a pet kitten that he named 'Baby,'" Suikotsu said as the kitten came over to Ginkotsu, and rubbing against his leg, he purred.
Jakotsu beamed like a proud parent. "Isn't he cute?"
Ginkotsu nodded as he bent to pet the kitten, carefully tickling behind his tiny black ear. Baby purred loudly, voicing his pleasure.
Straightening up, Ginkotsu asked, "So why all the screaming, Jak?"
"He dislocated his shoulder tripping over Baby and Ban and I had to push it back into place," Suikotsu answered for him.
"Yeah..." Bankotsu said as he held his paramour.
"It hurt like hell!" Jakotsu complained.
"We know, Jak, you about killed my ears with your screaming," Suikotsu said as he checked the cross-dresser's range of motion in his arm.
"But it fucking hurt!" He pouted. "Still does... Ow!" Jakotsu tried jerking his arm back but the claw-bearer held it tightly. "Even when you touched my wrist earlier I thought I was going to die from the pain!"
"Well you're not in pain any more."
"Not really... and I thank you, Sui."
"No problem. And, Jak, please be careful with it until it heals fully or it'll pop out again."
"Okay..." Jakotsu patted his chest. "Come're, Baby!"
"Mew!" The little kitten bounded up onto the cross-dresser's chest, playfully batting at his hand.
"Isn't he adorable?" the cross-dresser cooed.
"Very..." Bankotsu said as he rolled his eyes, eliciting a soft chuckle from the claw-bearer, who mouthed "jealous" at him.
Suikotsu got up, and turning his attention to his prone lover, he knelt and checked his vital signs, frowning when he realized Renkotsu had gone into shock. "Oh for Kami-sama's sake! He's out cold! You'd swear he'd been severely wounded on the battlefield, instead looking at a lil kitten..." The claw-bearer fussed over his lover.
"Really? Is he going to be okay?" Bankotsu asked.
"Yeah, we just need to keep him warm until he wakes up and he'll be fine."
"Okay..." Bankotsu said as he moved away from Jakotsu. Easing the ache in his thigh muscles, he asked, "Do you need a blanket?"
"Yes, please, though I wouldn't worry too much as his body is probably used to this by now."
Bankotsu stood up and went over to his futon. Picking up a blanket, he came back and handed it to the claw-bearer. "Probably..." He chuckled when Suikotsu draped the blanket over Renkotsu.
A few minutes later, Renkotsu groaned as he woke up.
"How you feeling?" Suikotsu said softly.
The fire-breather rubbed his hand over his face. "I had the weirdest dream..."
"Yeah... I dreamt Jak was really a hermaphrodite and that he gave birth to a kitten."
"Really...?" Suikotsu said as he and their leader both tried their best not to laugh.
"You mean Baby?" Jakotsu said as he held up his kitten.
Renkotsu, who had sat up, looked over at the cross-dresser. Eyes widening in shock, Renkotsu scooted backwards, clutching the blanket as if that could protect him. "Kami-sama! I'm still dreaming!"
"No, you're not dreaming," Suikotsu soothed. "His name really is Baby, and he's Jak's 'baby.'" The claw-bearer chuckled.
"That's right. Go give your Uncle Ren a kiss, Baby!" Jakotsu giggled as he held his kitten towards Renkotsu.
Renkotsu, thinking he was still dreaming, cried, "Gah! Stay away from me!"
"Why...? Don't you like cats?" Jakotsu said softly as he held his kitten close.
Bankotsu, heaving a long suffering sigh, turned to Suikotsu and said, "You see what I've been putting up with for the past few days?"
The claw-bearer shook his head, chuckling, and turning to the fire-breather, he said, "Ren, get a hold of yourself; you're not dreaming."
"Ha! That's what you want me to think! You... you... you dream Sui, you!"
Looking at his lover apologetically, Suikotsu slapped the fir-breather across the face. "Are you dreaming now?"
"Ow!!" Renkotsu rubbed the side of his face. "That hurt, Sui! Shit! And what are you staring at?" He glared at Jakotsu.
"Nothing..." Jakotsu looked over at his lover and said softly, "He's even scarier than Scary Sui, Aniki-chan."
"Ren, let me explain the whole situation," Suikotsu said calmly. "Jak has a new cat that he decided to name Baby, he wasn't pregnant and never will be, and the screaming you heard earlier was Ban and I trying to fix his dislocated shoulder."
The fire-breather sighed and gave his lover an "I'll believe you because the alternative is too strange to think about" look. "Okay... So that explains the screaming and the baby, but how did I wind up on the floor...?"
Jakotsu giggled. "You died of cuteness!" he said, hugging his kitten close.
"You fainted," Ginkotsu added helpfully.
Suikotsu nodded. "I think your logical brain couldn't stand all of the illogical thoughts suddenly entering your head and you passed out."
"Oh..." Renkotsu said sheepishly.
"Yeah..." Bankotsu laughed. "I wish you could have seen the look on your face, Ren, it was priceless when Baby crawled out from between Jak's legs... hehehehe..."
Renkotsu sat there, his eye twitching.
"Really? Damn it! And I missed it too!" Jakotsu said as he tried to keep a straight face only to wind up in a giggle fit.
The fire-breather who was clearly not amused, said, "Well at least that solves the problem of having a kid in our midst."
"Yeah..." Ginkotsu agreed.
"Yes..." Suikotsu said, giving his lover a tiny half smile.
And just when Renkotsu thought he was going to live this down, Bankotsu said, "Tell me, Ren, just out of curiosity... Suppose Jak really did have a baby, what do you think was going to happen?
The fire-breather, whose head was hurting from the fall and who really did not want to take a chance on arousing his leader's anger, said softly, "Well..."
"As it is your child and you are our leader," Renkotsu said as he looked Bankotsu in the eye. "It would have ultimately been your decision."
"True..." Bankotsu said. "But what if I asked my second-in-command for advice?"
/You're setting me up, aren't you? Damn it! I hate you so much sometimes! /"I would have said..." he paused as he chose his words carefully, "'It is much too dangerous for the child to be reared here, what with our current occupation being so...ruthless.'"
"Hey!" Jakotsu chimed in. "You don't think I'm capable of raising a child?!" he said indignantly.
Bankotsu sat there, smugly enjoying the turn of events.
"That's not what I said, Jak."
"What do you mean that's not what you said? You just said it was too dangerous for us to rear a child!"
Bankotsu looked over at the claw-bearer and grinned.
Suikotsu chuckling softly, mouthed, "You set him up, didn't you?"
The young leader of the Shichinintai nodded in reply as he watched the little drama play out.
"It's dangerous! Our world as mercenaries is a very perilous one."
"Idiot! Who said I was bringing our child with me? I was going to stay home and take care of him!"
Renkotsu, rubbing his temples, said softly, "Please stop shouting, Jak." He was about to point out to the cross-dresser the problems with that plan, but decided that for the sake of his headache he was not going to get into a tiff much to Bankotsu's disappointment. "Yes, I suppose that would solve the problem."
"You're damn right it would!" Jakotsu said smugly.
Bankotsu looked over at the claw-bearer and mouthed, "Nice counter move, agreeing with Jak like that, and just when it was getting good too."
Suikotsu smiled and mouthed back, "He figured it out."
Bankotsu, continuing their silent conversation, mouthed, "Damn it! He's getting better!"
"Hey wait a minute!!" Jakotsu narrowed his eyes at the fire-breather. "You honestly didn't believe that shit about me being knocked up, did you?" He laughed. "You said it was a joke!"
"No, of course not..." Renkotsu said.
"Oh yes you did!"
"No, I..." Renkotsu quickly searched for a plausible excuse while trying not to laugh at the smug expression on the cross-dresser's face. "I thought a nekoyoukai had put a spell on you or something..."
"Yes, as that would explain how you birthed a kitten, if you had," Renkotsu said with mock seriousness.
The cross-dresser mulled it over. "Oh yeah... Imagine that..." He smiled.
Renkotsu, breathing a little sigh of relief that he got out of that one, said, "Yeah... imagine that..."