Categories > Anime/Manga > Inuyasha

Heart to heart

by kirayasha 0 Reviews

An afternoon spent with Renkotsu leaves Jakotsu confused as to what he wants out of life, especially when it sparks another fight with Bankotsu, prompting Suikotsu to get involved.

Category: Inuyasha - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Angst, Drama, Romance - Characters: Bankotsu, Jakotsu, Other - Published: 2006/11/30 - Updated: 2006/11/30 - 11569 words - Complete

Heart to heart

By VegaSailor & kira



Jakotsu, feeling restless and bored, roamed around the inn's far gardens. He was enjoying their seclusion as he found the main part of the inn with its many guests tiresome. What had sounded like a good idea to him when Bankotsu had first proposed it was rapidly losing its appeal. Many of the guests had mistaken him for a woman, which was nothing new for the nineteen year old as he had often encouraged such thinking in the past and had welcomed the attention. But this time around when he came over to sit in the onsen those who had been deceived were not very happy about it and they let him know it. And since Bankotsu was too busy looking for work amongst the guests to have any real time to spend with him, Jakotsu felt lonely and eager to leave. Even pretending to be Mukotsu's daughter had quickly lost its charm. And so with nothing better to do the cross-dresser let his feet wander over the inn's grounds when he spotted a little piece of home. There, just over the little bridge were several hydrangea bushes and Jakotsu felt the pink blooms were calling to him.

He quickly crossed the little bridge and walked into his version of paradise, although the only thing missing, in Jakotsu's humble opinion, was an attentive Bankotsu. He flitted around the garden like one of the butterflies he adored until he found a particularly beautiful spot with a nice view of the garden. He sat and admired his surroundings and it wasn't long before he felt like he was at home enjoying the flowers the way he did in Suikotsu's garden. Sighing softly, he laid down in the grass and soon fell asleep.

Six hours later when Jakotsu still had not returned, Bankotsu was frantic with worry over his paramour's whereabouts. He called together his men and sent them out to look for the wayward cross-dresser. It was not long before Renkotsu found what seemed like the most likely spot for Jakotsu to be. Crossing over the bridge, Renkotsu wandered around the garden calling the cross-dresser's name.

"Jakotsu!" he called out for what seemed like the millionth time. "Damn it!! Where are you?"

"Hunh...?" the cross-dresser said sleepily. He was dreaming about his lover and Renkotsu's terse tone sounded very much like his beloved.

Renkotsu, thinking he heard the cross-dresser's voice, call out to him again, "Jakotsu?"

"Aniki-chan...?" Jakotsu said softly from under the hydrangeas. Rolling over, and cracking his eyes open, the cross-dresser saw a familiar pair of white hakama. In his dream-fogged mind, it was Bankotsu standing a few feet in front of him, and giggling softly to himself, Jakotsu crawled out from under the hydrangea he had rolled under in his sleep. He crept up behind Renkotsu, and reaching up between his parted legs, he grabbed the unsuspecting fire-breather's crotch and fondled it.

"WHAT THE FUCK?!" Renkotsu roared causing Jakotsu to stop in mid-fondle.

"Ren...?"

Oh shit... Jakotsu quickly pulled his hand away and tried backing up to the safety of the hydrangeas. Unfortunately he was not quick enough and Renkotsu whirled around, grabbing the front of his kimono, and hauling Jakotsu to his feet.

"What the hell were you thinking? I swear if you ever touch me like that again, I'm going to take all your stuff and blow it up!!" The fire-breather glared at him.

Jakotsu gulped and squeaked out, "Sorry... I thought you were Aniki-chan..."

Renkotsu stared at him as he paused for a minute, and groaning, he let go of the cross-dresser's kimono. He turned and without a backwards glance, started heading back to the inn.

Jakotsu hurried after him. "Wait! Where's Aniki-chan?"

"He's either back at the inn waiting for your return, or out looking for you," Renkotsu called out.

"Why's he looking for me?"

The fire-breather heaved a long suffering sigh as he stopped, and turning to face Jakotsu, he said, "You've been missing for six hours."

"What?!"

Renkotsu rolled his eyes. "My guess is you wandered in here and fell asleep under the hydrangeas like you do at home."

"Oh yeah..." Jakotsu smiled. "They are just as nice as Sui's"

Renkotsu chuckled at Jakotsu's denseness, his anger evaporating like dew on a summer morning. "Heh. Don't let Sui hear you say that as he prides himself on his hydrangeas."

"But they're pink and Sui's are either purple or blue and since I never saw pink ones before I thought they were pretty and the perfect end to a miserable day." Jakotsu sighed.

Renkotsu smiled and shook his head at the cross-dresser. "Well this certainly has been an interesting day for me; I finished drawing a new project, got a shoulder rub out of Sui, got sent on a wild goose chase after you, had my crotch fondled and no that wasn't the high point of my day," he said dryly. "In fact, I can't wait to see what happens next," he said sarcastically and no sooner had the words left his mouth when there was a loud thunderclap and it started pouring.

Jakotsu giggled. "It sounds like you had more fun than me."

The cross-dresser looked up as the rain pelted them and held his mouth open like a child to catch the drops. Looking back at Renkotsu, he said, "Yea! It's raining! I love the rain...."

The fire-breather groaned and grabbing the cross-dresser's arm, he dragged him through the garden towards a large pavilion. "Come, I don't want get drenched, nor do I want you catching a cold."

"Okay... so where're you taking me?"

"Over there. That pavilion should offer us some cover."

"Looks good to me!"

Renkotsu pulled the cross-dresser along and they managed to take cover before getting too wet. "Kami-sama, I hate the rain!" Renkotsu complained.

Jakotsu giggled. He was standing just outside the pavilion under its wide eaves, and looking back over his shoulder at Renkotsu he said, "I love it! It's so much fun to play in!!" He turned back towards the rain. "And everything smells so fresh when it's over!" He winced as another loud thunderclap sounded.

The fire-breather came over to stand next to him. "Well, I do like the after effects of rain; I just do not favor getting caught out in it, particularly when it's pouring like this."

Jakotsu snorted in amusement. "What's so bad about getting wet?" He held his hand out, letting the rain running off the roof hit it.

"It's a long story," Renkotsu said.

"So, it looks like we're gonna be here for awhile. Wanna tell me?" Jakotsu said impishly, and pulling his hand back, he shook the water from it. Smiling, he turned around and headed inside.

"No," the fire-breather said tiredly as he followed him.

"Okay..." Jakotsu wandered around the dimly lit interior, and spotting another opening leading outside, he walked over to it. "Hey, Look! Isn't that steam coming off that koi pond?"

Renkotsu, following the sound of his voice, turned and said, "If it is, most likely the koi are dead, no, wait, it looks more like..." He came over and had a better look. "...an onsen..."

Jakotsu looked over his shoulder. "Oh... Excellent! Let's while away the time soaking in it, Ren."

"Sure, why not."

As they turned back inside to get undressed, Renkotsu saw an abandoned umbrella lying in the far corner where an old tree had poked its branches through. "Ah... a bit of good fortune to override the bad." Ignoring Jakotsu, he walked over to it and picked it up.

When he opened it, Jakotsu giggled. "Ooh! How pretty! You look really fetching under that, Ren!"

"Thank you," the fire-breather said dryly. He chuckled at the look on the cross-dresser's face as his sarcasm was lost on him. "Well, we could head back to the inn now."

"I was hoping we could stay here until it stops..." Jakotsu sighed. "It's so pretty here and that lil onsen is looks so inviting. Besides, they could have left that umbrella here cuz it leaks."

"It seems intact enough..." He looked longingly at the onsen. "But that is the kind of water I like."

Jakotsu nodded and said softly, "Me too...You know, I bet it's the perfect temperature. Not too hot and not too cold, and what's great is it doesn't smell bad like some onsen. And it is partially covered so the rain won't get you. "

Renkotsu smiled. "Why not? I could use a little soaking."

"Yeah... me too," Jakotsu nodded in approval. "...as that sounds heavenly." He sighed, and tugging on his obi, he started to undress.

Renkotsu turned away and tugged on his own obi. He chuckled softly to himself when the cross-dresser called out impatiently to him to "hurry up!" What he did not expect was a naked Jakotsu trying to get him hurriedly out of his clothes.

"Hey! Stop pulling my clothes off!" Renkotsu slapped the cross-dresser's hands away. "If you're in that much of a hurry, go ahead and start without me."

"I can wait." Jakotsu giggled.

"It's alright; go on. I have my own way of doing things." The fire-breather tried waving Jakotsu away.

"It's okay, I'll wait."

"No, I'm serious! Go on ahead or you'll have to go by yourself. I told you, I have a certain way of doing things and I don't like to deviate from it."

"You sure? I'm not cold and I don't mind waiting, really I don't." Jakotsu stood there, watching the fire-breather intently as he eased out of his armor.

"No, that's okay. Besides, I feel weird with you standing there watching me like that."

"That's why I said to let me help."

"No."

"Ren, I used to do this all the time; it's nothing to me, really it isn't," Jakotsu said. He was lying through his teeth as he was thrilled with the prospect of getting Renkotsu naked and they both knew it.

Heaving a heavy sigh, Renkotsu said, "Look, the only person privileged to remove my clothes is Sui, okay?"

Jakotsu rolled his eyes, clearly annoyed with Renkotsu's stubbornness. "Fine." The cross-dresser stalked off towards the private onsen, where he quietly sulked in the water.

Renkotsu continued removing his armor, as several scenarios ran through his head concerning the cross-dresser, himself, their nakedness and the "no good" they would get up to. As he stood there, holding his armor, one particular scene played itself out vividly in his mind...

The fire-breather, having successfully entered the onsen without any lewd comments from Jakotsu, started to move towards him with the intent of sitting next to him when he slipped and wound up nose to nose with the cross-dresser.

"Careful!" Jakotsu had cried as he caught Renkotsu, who had somehow managed to neatly pin the cross-dresser against the side of the onsen.

Renkotsu, his face flushed from falling on the other man in a very intimate way, struggled to right himself without moving.

Jakotsu swallowed nervously as this was so unlike Renkotsu and yet so much like his wildest fantasy concerning him, that he was caught completely off guard. It did not help that the fire-breather was rubbing himself suggestively against him as he tried to stand up.

"Ren...?"

"Ugh, sorry about that..." Renkotsu said as he finally righted himself.

"Yeah..." The cross-dresser looked away as the fire-breather backed away towards the other side of the onsen.

"I slipped..."

Jakotsu nodded. "It's okay..." he said softly.
Slipped my ass! You pounced on me! He gave Renkotsu a funny look as if he did not believe a word he said.

"Don't give me that look! I really did slip!"

"I believe you, Ren..."

"No you don't!" Renkotsu huffed. "You know if I had wanted to kiss you, I'd have just come over to you and did this..." He quickly came back, and taking the cross-dresser's face in his hands, he brought it close to his own and kissed him long and hard...


That was when the scene in his head started to resemble one of Jakotsu's more perverted fantasies. Shaking his head to clear away the obscene thoughts, Renkotsu set his armor down, and before Jakotsu could come looking for him, he walked toward the onsen. Sitting on the edge of the hot spring, Renkotsu dangled his feet in the water. "I knew I shouldn't have taken my clothes off..." he said to himself.

"Hunh? Why'd you say that when you're not even naked?" Jakotsu said as he playfully shook the fire-breather's foot in an attempt to get his attention. "Ren...?"

"What?"

"Why were you complaining about taking your clothes off?"

"I was what?"

"Complaining about taking your clothes off."

"Oh... sorry. I decided not to as it was just asking for trouble that we would be better off avoiding," Renkotsu said, hoping the cross-dresser would drop the matter.

Jakotsu nodded, a smug knowing little smile tugging at his lips. Changing the subject, he said, "You know, I can't wait to show this to Aniki-chan tomorrow."

Renkotsu chuckled. "Well, can Sui and I go first just in case you and Oo-Aniki want to do more than soak?"

Jakotsu laughed. "Sure, although doing that in an onsen isn't all that advisable, Ren; too many very hot water currents. That's better suited to a tepid bath or a stream. Or a nice place like under the hydrangeas..."

The fire-breather grinned. "Believe me, I know..." he smirked.

"You've nookied with Sui under them too? They're like the best place, eh?"

"Yeah..."

"So, anyway, what were you thinking about when you complained about taking your clothes off..."

"I was thinking about what would have happened between us if I did... Oh shit! You did it again, you devious lil bastard!"

"Did what?" Jakotsu asked innocently.

The fire-breather sighed. "You got me to do something I had no intention of doing... just like in my day dream."

"Really? You were day dreaming about me?" Jakotsu giggled. "What I'd do?"

Renkotsu, not wanting to go into too much detail, said simply, "Well, I got in and I slipped and fell on top of you..."

The cross-dresser's eyes widened. "Yeah? And what happened next? We kiss?"

Renkotsu pulled one of his feet out of the water and massaged it. After deciding to make the long story short, he said, "No... we uh... Sui came in and saw us both together..."

"Are you sure...? I know if you fell on top of me, I'd kiss you and maybe even let my hands wander and then if Sui showed up, I'd ask him to join us."

I bet you would... Renkotsu thought as he rolled his eyes.

"Wait, was Sui mad at us?" Jakotsu said.

"Well, I can't remember if you did kiss me, but knowing you like I do, I'd say that's most likely what happened and Sui saw it. And all I remember is running away from him before he sliced us to bits."

Jakotsu's eyes went wide as he imagined it. Giggling, he said, "I must have enjoyed running behind your naked ass!"

"Ha-ha... you're too funny." He was trying to be sarcastic but he also found the whole situation amusing.

Jakotsu laughed. "Yeah...?"

The fire-breather nodded in reply. "You know what could really use a good soak?"

"No, what?"

Renkotsu held out his hands. They were blistered and burned and covered with tiny scars. "My hands."

"Why? What's wrong with them?"

"They get used a lot." Renkotsu shifted so that he could put his hands in the hot spring. Before he did so, he held one out to Jakotsu.

"Oh..." the cross-dresser said as he took Renkotsu's hand. He looked it over, carefully tracing his finger over the scars, cuts and burns. "You really should be more careful with them..." he said softly as he gently massaged Renkotsu's hand. "And your hands are rough too."

Renkotsu closed his eyes as the massage felt really good. "I try," he said softly. "But with the work I do, injury to them can't be avoided."

"That's true... Let me see your other hand."

Renkotsu, pulling his hand away, and shifting from a seated position onto to his stomach in case Jakotsu decided to playfully pull him in, held out his other hand.

"Ren, this one's even worse than the other one... how'd you do that?" Jakotsu gently rubbed his thumbs over a large burn scar on the back of Renkotsu's hand while massaging his hand.

Renkotsu smiled ruefully. "I was molding a piece of hot metal and I was a bit tired so my precision was off."

"Ouch! I bet Sui was beside himself over it!"

"Oh yeah. He was fussing and berating me for not being careful and working while I was tired." He smiled sheepishly. "And also for waiting so long to come to him for treatment for it."

The cross-dresser shook his head at him. "Well, Sui did have a point there... why'd you wait so long? It must have hurt like hell."

Renkotsu shrugged. "I wanted to finish what I was working on."

They had, by now, become so comfortable in each other's presence that they were almost nose to nose with each other.

"I knew if I had gone to Sui immediately he wouldn't have let me finish."

"That's certainly true..." Jakotsu nodded. "And I guess working with a bandaged hand and a Sui underfoot isn't all that great either, hunh?" He smiled. "You know, I really love that little butterfly Aniki-chan had you make for me. It's too beautiful..."

"I'm glad you liked it..."

They remained together in companionable silence, easing the tensions of the day away.

"You know what I was working on when I got that burn?" Renkotsu asked, breaking the silence that had stretched between them.

"What...?"

"Sui's aqueduct."

"Yeah...? I love the aqueduct. But I only go there with Sui or by myself as I promised him I would behave there." Jakotsu smiled.

Renkotsu smiled slightly in return.

The cross-dresser's smile broadened as they lapsed once again into silence. He knew it was their special spot, hence his promise to the claw-bearer to behave.

Renkotsu's voice pulled the cross-dresser from his reverie. "Heh, that's the only water I don't mind falling on my head."

"It's nice, isn't it? Ummm... Ren, how come you don't like the rain?"

Renkotsu sighed sadly. "It's a long sad story that I'd rather not talk about."

Jakotsu, remembering how he told Suikotsu about his own miserable childhood, said softly, "Telling sad stories sometimes helps, Ren." When the fire-breather failed to answer, he added, "If you want, I could tell you something sad about me..."

Renkotsu thought it over. "Fair deal."

"Okay... do you want to go first?"

"How about you tell me a little bit, Jak, then I'll tell a little bit and we'll go back and forth until our stories are finished."

"Okay..." he hesitated. "Ummm... how do I start...?"

"Anyway you'd like."

"Okay..." Jakotsu took a deep breath and let it out slowly as he suddenly found sharing his past hard to do. "Ummm... when I was six I became a man... my mother had abandoned me and I had to take over her duties and pay off her debts as well as mine..." he said softly.

"You were six..?" Renkotsu felt his mouth hang open at the thought.

"Yeah..." Jakotsu frowned. "You seem shocked."

"Well, I knew you were young, but... not that young..."

Jakotsu shrugged as if it was nothing.

"I suppose it's my turn now...ummm..." the fire-breather sighed. "I don't think I can top your miserable life, but we'll see."

Jakotsu smiled sadly.

"It was raining the day I was thrown out of the monastery..."

"Yeah? What happened to get you thrown out?"

"My fire abilities."

"Oh... But why would they get you thrown out, Ren?"

"When I turned thirteen, that's when my fire powers first appeared, I was carrying some sort of flammable liquid, I think it was for the lamps or something. Well, I dropped it and when I attempted to clean it up, I coughed and it ignited."

Jakotsu blinked and looked concerned. "You didn't burn yourself?"

It was Renkotsu's turn to shrug as if it were nothing. "A little, but most of the monastery caught fire because of it."

"You burned down the monastery? Incredible..." Jakotsu grinned. "Should I tell you more about myself, now? Or do you still want to go on?"

Renkotsu smiled and shook his head as he continued with his story. "That might have been it if they hadn't found out it was me. And when they did they thought I was possessed by a demon."

The cross-dresser's eyes went wide in shock. "They what? Shit! They didn't exorcise you, did they?"

"They did," Renkotsu said somberly. "Two times or was it three...? I can't remember."

"I'm sorry...That must have been awful especially since you weren't possessed... far worse than anything that happened to me..." Jakotsu trailed off softly.

"When they failed to exorcise me they called me a hanyou." Renkotsu pointed to his forehead as Jakotsu nodded. "And they branded my forehead so people would know my 'deception' and see through it."

Jakotsu, smiling sadly, reached up and gently touched the mark. "Damn... I wish I knew where that monastery is... I'd like to go kick some monk ass."

"Me too, but I think it was already destroyed by an earthquake or some other natural disaster."

"Really? That's too bad as I'd like to have helped you."

Renkotsu snorted in amusement. "I think you got them back in spirit when you seduced twenty-one monks in three days."

Jakotsu laughed as the mood briefly lightened. "Yeah? That was so much fun! So you think it was a fitting revenge?"

The fire-breather chuckled.

"I take it that's a yes?" Jakotsu grinned.

"Yeah. It serves those hypocritical bastards right!"

"Yeah..." The cross-dresser sighed as the mood was broken. "Hey, what if we find that old bathhouse I used to work in... and you happen to 'cough?'"

Renkotsu grinned. "Why, I would be happy to burn your enemies alive."

"Thanks!" Jakotsu's expression softened as he looked the fire-breather in the eye.

"What?" Renkotsu said as he quirked an eyebrow at him.

Instead of answering him, Jakotsu gently cupped his cheek and kissed the fire-breather lightly, almost chastely, on the lips.

Renkotsu was surprised, but since the cross-dresser did not try to assault his mouth, he was not in the least bit offended. Scooping up some water in his hands, Renkotsu poured it on the top of Jakotsu's head and chuckled. "What no tongue?" he asked playfully.

"What?" Jakotsu smiled. "You wanted me to give you some?"

Renkotsu pushed himself up into a seated position. "No, I think that's a boundary we shouldn't cross anymore."

The cross-dresser sighed softly.

"We don't want to get in trouble with Sui and Ban again."

Jakotsu nodded. "Yeah... Although, it's a pity as you're fun to kiss, Ren." He shyly looked up at the fire-breather.

"Well, coming from you I guess I will take that as a compliment." Renkotsu grinned. "Too bad we didn't meet before we found our respective lovers, eh?" the fire-breather said jokingly.

Jakotsu, not hearing joking tone, giggled. "Yeah..." Growing serious, he looked away and said softly, "Sui's a very lucky man..."

"Sui deserves whatever good luck he gets; his heart and mind have a lot of scars on them..." Renkotsu sighed. He had completely missed the intimacy Jakotsu had meant for him as he had never expected it. He looked at cross-dresser and smiled. There was something about the way Jakotsu looked at him that made him feel uncomfortable especially when he sighed.

You do too, Ren... Disappointed the fire-breather had sat up, Jakotsu said softly, "Yeah..."

"As do you, Jak...as all of us do one way or another."

The cross-dresser, not trusting himself to speak, nodded. He wished Renkotsu would lie down again as he was dying to kiss him, but the fire-breather merely nodded and kept his distance as he had read the cross-dresser correctly. So they let the silence stretch between them again and watched the rain falling in the uncovered side of the onsen. Renkotsu took off his bandana, looked at it and snorted in amusement, pulling Jakotsu from his reverie.

"What's so funny, Ren?"

"I was just thinking of all the things this bandana has stood for me," Renkotsu said as he tied it back on his head.

"Really? Like what?"

"Well, when the blacksmith took me on, we used it to cover up that mark on my forehead. You know, a sort of cover up for the sin."

Jakotsu shot him a puzzled look. "But you didn't sin..."

"I know I didn't, but the mark would tell people that I did. In a way, though this bandana was helping me cover it up, it was kind of another mark of chastisement for me."

"How so?" Jakotsu was still confused, but he was so happy Renkotsu was taking the time to open up to him that he hung on the fire-breather's every word.

"The bandana was covering up a sin I hadn't committed, for the sake of not being shunned again."

"People actually shunned you...?" Jakotsu looked up at him in surprise.

Renkotsu laughed mirthlessly. "Oh yeah. After I was exiled, I went from village to village looking for a home, but I was always chased out, because the poor fools didn't want a hanyou living among them."

"That's awful, Ren... I'd have let you stay with me if I had known. I'd even take on your debt too."

"Would you?"

"Yup! Although, I probably wouldn't have seen much of you cuz I worked hard every day... but knowing you were there waiting for me at night would have made the days go by quicker." Jakotsu smiled sadly. "It would have made life less lonely too..." he trailed off softly.

"Too bad I was many ri away from you."

"Yeah...Although, I don't know what you would have done there for fun. And I would have hated it if they put you to work, so maybe it's a good thing you weren't there, hunh?" When Renkotsu didn't answer him, he said softly, "Whoring isn't as easy as people think it is..."

"It doesn't seem easy at all."

Jakotsu sighed. "It's not... It's not even glamorous."

Renkotsu chuckled, trying to lighten Jakotsu's mood. "Although some of the people who are experts at it tend to be 'easy.'" Grinning, he playfully splashed some water at Jakotsu with his foot.

The cross-dresser giggled and grabbed Renkotsu's foot. "I only give it away for free to those I like." He smiled. "I like you, Ren..." Jakotsu said softly.

Renkotsu laughingly tried pulling his foot out of Jakotsu's grasp. "Yes, and maybe a little too much for our own good. No offense, but I'd rather not go through Sui's brand of punishment again. Only this time he would probably use his blades on the front side of my body and it would be my intestines showing instead of my back bone."

"That's okay... I won't force you. Besides, I don't want Scary Sui to kill me. He threatened to kill me that time and Aniki-chan might think it's funny to let him..." Jakotsu said with a smile as he hung onto Renkotsu's foot.

"Like you could force me," the fire-breather said calmly. "I'm much stronger than you are. Come on now, and let go of my foot before I kick you in the head."

The cross-dresser giggled. "I actually don't need to use force... a simple reasonable request does the job," he smirked as he tugged on Renkotsu's foot.

The fire-breather positioned himself as best he could in case Jakotsu tried pulling him in. "True you didn't use force that time, but you did have the help of a good deal of sake."

"Yeah!" Jakotsu giggled. "We should do that again... getting drunk together, that is."

"I don't think so... That might be dangerous."

"How so...? It's only sake."

"We might end up in the closet again."

Jakotsu's eyes went wide as he remembered and he said, "Yeah... Then let's make sure we only drink in places without closets." He laughed.

"I think you're missing the point, Jak. If we get drunk together again we might do what we did last time, and end up in even more trouble."

"Oh..." Jakotsu said softly as he thought about it. "Maybe we should ask Sui and Aniki-chan to come drinking with us and keep us out of trouble." He smiled impishly.

Renkotsu smiled back at him. "Now you're thinking, if they were with us they would be just as responsible, so they couldn't get mad. We should try that sometime."

"Yeah... Uh, Ren, if we had nothing to worry about from Sui and Aniki-chan, would you get drunk with me...?"

Renkotsu grew silent as he thought it over and Jakotsu could see by his expression that he really was considering it. "Yes, I think I would, you're a rather entertaining spectacle when you're drunk."

"I am...?" The cross-dresser, thinking Renkotsu would sleep with him again by saying "yes," gave the fire-breather's foot a gentle squeeze as he smiled happily at him.

"Though I don't I would sleep with you again," Renkotsu said and he felt bad about upsetting the cross-dresser as Jakotsu's face fell when he heard that.

"No...? Why not...?" Jakotsu said softly, letting the hurt he felt bleed into his voice.

"Because I think too many people have sat and drank with you for only that reason, to get you drunk enough to pleasure them."

"Oh... So I guess that's all I'm good for, hunh?" Jakotsu let go of the other man's foot and turned away, willing himself not to cry as his past came back to haunt him.

"Well, I had hoped I would be different in that. I'd love to just sit with you and drink and talk, with no strings attached."

Jakotsu was surprised to hear that. "You mean you'd just want to sit and talk to me...?" he said as he turned to face Renkotsu.

"Yes. Your views and perspectives differ from mine so greatly, it makes for fascinating conversation."

Jakotsu smiled. "Yeah...? You find me interesting? And you like talking to me?" He shook his head as he could not believe it. "Not even Aniki-chan wants to sit and talk to me for long... It's always, 'Shut up and kiss me, Sweetness,'" he said sadly.

"Honestly, Jak, I really didn't like it very much before as all you did was flirt with me and grope me, as it got really tiresome after a while."

The cross-dresser sighed sadly. "But that's all anyone really wants from me..."

"But I don't, so it's not required of you to do so when we talk."

"Okay." Jakotsu nodded. "But I'm so used to doing that that I don't even know I'm doing it..." he said softly.

"Oh, I'm sure it's second nature to you by now."

"Yeah... like now. It's really hard not to come back and run my hands up your leg...Gods, I'm so pathetic..." He sighed.

Renkotsu, wanting to lighten the mood, said, "Well, if you want to you may, but no higher than my knee."

Jakotsu smiled as he came over to him. "Okay." He gently massaged Renkotsu's foot, slowly moving his way up to the fire-breather's calf.

"Hmmmm, that's quite nice."

"Thanks... Here, let me do your other leg..." Jakotsu moved to the other side as Renkotsu extended his other foot.

"No, thank you for this, you've turned a rather unpleasant day into a pleasant one," Renkotsu said.

"Really? Thanks..." the cross-dresser smiled up at him.

The fire-breather sighed appreciatively. "Ah... you've found my weakness, my feet."

Jakotsu giggled. "I always knew you were odd."

Renkotsu chuckled. "Guaranteed way for Sui to get me to loosen up when I'm tense."

"Yeah?" Jakotsu giggled. "Hmmm... you don't feel tense or sound tense any more."

"You see?" The fire-breather grinned.

"Told you I was good with my hands..." Jakotsu playfully smirked.

"Well, the key to my relaxation is my feet and my feet really seem to like your hands."

"My hands like your feet..." Jakotsu looked up at him. "You have really beautiful feet, Ren."

"I do?" Renkotsu laughed. "I must say, I've never had a compliment like that before."

Jakotsu smiled. "You do. They have a nice shape to them, they're not rough or calloused, you can see you take very good care of them... and they're not dirty." He giggled.

"Thank you," Renkotsu grinned. "To be able to keep my aim straight I need a sturdy stance to withstand the recoil from my shoulder canon. And since my hands get so abused, I felt I owed good care to the other parts of my body."

"You're welcome," Jakotsu said as he kneaded the muscles in Renkotsu's calf, before working his way back down to his foot. "Ren, is your shoulder canon as heavy as it looks?"

"Yes. Heh! Speaking of hands and feet, you know Sui's weakness is his hands."

"They are? You know, he really shouldn't wash them so much as he's drying them out. You don't even need to touch them to see that."

"I know, but it's a requirement for him as a doctor and as a psychotic it's compulsive." When Jakotsu looked at him blankly, he said, "Would some sort of lotion help?"

"It can't hurt..."

"Hmmm... but getting him to consistently put it on would be the trouble as doctors make the worst patients."

Jakotsu laughed. "I was just thinking of what he could use... I'm wondering if he could make a balm using beeswax. I know Sui was trying to entice some bees into the garden, maybe they could make some wax and honey for him."

"Would beeswax really help his hands?"

"I think so. And he could do it too, Ren, he's made me some massage oils..." Jakotsu giggled like a girl.

"Really?" Renkotsu looked up at the sky and as he thought about it, a smug, almost seductive smile spread across his lips.

"What?"

"You know, if we could make those massage oils more medicinal for his skin, I could make applying it a little more pleasant."

Jakotsu giggled as he imagined them together. "Yeah..."

"What are you giggling about?"

"Wouldn't you like to know...?" Jakotsu giggled again.

"All right, now that you have those dirty thoughts in your head, would you please let go of my foot?"

Jakotsu, giggling, let go of the fire-breather's foot and playfully grabbed his calf.

"Ha-ha, very clever..." Renkotsu said wryly and Jakotsu giggled again in reply. "You're just a sack full of giggles, aren't you?"

"Yeah... but that's because you make me happy, Ren." The cross-dresser smiled.

"All right, all right, let's get you out of there before you get all wrinkly and Oo-Aniki pitches a hissy fit." Renkotsu stood and turned slightly away while he waited for Jakotsu to leave the warm confines of the onsen.

"Okay." Jakotsu hauled himself out of the water, shivering in the cooler temperature of the evening air. He used his hands to dry off as best he could and looking over his shoulder, he asked, "Ren, would you mind 'drying' my back? I can't really reach it and I'm cold."

"Sure." The fire-breather walked over to him, and after briefly hesitating, he took his kimono sleeve and started drying Jakotsu's back.

"Thank you... although, you didn't have to use your sleeve, Ren."

"Cloth is more absorbent and will dry you off faster."

"Yeah...?"

Renkotsu nodded. "Yes..."

"Ummm, okay, just give me a bit to get dressed."

Renkotsu respectfully turned away much to Jakotsu's amusement.

"I don't care if you watch, Ren, it's not like you haven't seen me naked before..." Jakotsu bent and retrieved his kimono. He slipped it on, feeling a bit warmer in its soft cottony folds. Picking up his obi and tying it on, he said, "All done!"

The fire-breather turned towards him and shook his head. "I know; but turning my back was more out of courtesy than necessity."

Jakotsu gently cupped his cheek. "Thank you..." he said sweetly. Smiling, he added, "Shall we go? It looks like the rain stopped."

Renkotsu nodded and the two of them started to leave when Renkotsu reached out and for a minute Jakotsu thought he was going to grope his bottom. Chuckling at the look on the cross-dresser's face, Renkotsu grabbed the umbrella and held it up. "Just in case the rain decides to come back."

"Yeah..." Jakotsu gave him a funny look. You were going to grab my ass, weren't you?

Renkotsu grinned and balanced the umbrella on his shoulder like he was carrying his canon.

Jakotsu, noticing, laughed. "Expecting trouble out there?"

"One of my second nature habits," Renkotsu said with a chuckle.

"I see... and the other one being?"

Renkotsu said dryly, "Acting like I'm a person with a stick up my ass."

Jakotsu giggled. "That can easily be fixed, you know." He smiled impishly. "And don't worry; I'll pass that knowledge onto Sui."

"Oh, I don't know if it can be completely fixed; it's part of who I am."

"Well, you could always have fun trying, no?"

"Perhaps..."

They had been slowly making their way to the inn, talking about various things, and before they knew it they were nearly there.

"Look, there's the inn up ahead."

"Yeah..." Jakotsu said softly.

Renkotsu looked at him out of the corner of his eye as they walked along, and he noticed something was wrong, although he could not figure out what. Hoping to pull the cross-dresser from his funk, he said, "One of these days you need to teach me how to give Sui a proper hand massage."

"Okay, I'd like that..."

They had reached one of the side entrances to the inn when Jakotsu abruptly stopped. "I don't want to go in."

"Why not?" Renkotsu said; quirking an eyebrow at him.

Jakotsu looked at him sadly. "I was having a nice time with you and when we go in you'll go off with Sui while I go off with Aniki-chan..." He looked away. "Not that being with him is bad, but I suddenly don't feel like having fun in the futon."

"Really? I never thought I'd live to see the day when you'd say that." Oh kami no...Is he falling for me? That can't be it, can it? Oh shit... if he is, then this is bad... really bad...

"I know..." The cross-dresser sighed softly. "I have no idea what came over me..." I wish Aniki-chan would sit and listen to me and not act like I'm stupid and only good for one thing...Sui's sooo lucky to have someone like this... "Damn it! I don't want to go inside..."

"We really should go inside, Jak, and let the others know you haven't been kidnapped or something."

"Yeah..."

Jakotsu stood there listlessly and Renkotsu could plainly see his reluctance to go in.

"Jak, despite his maturity in battle and leadership charisma Oo-Aniki is very much a child. Children tend to not want to just sit around talking, they prefer action and activity. And that's why I'm the one doing the technical details."

Jakotsu looked at him as he thought about it. "Yeah..." he reluctantly agreed. The cross-dresser felt like he wanted to cry in frustration, but he kept it all inside, sniffing as rubbed under his nose. "You're very good at it too," he said softly.

"Thanks... You know, you used to be like that too, but you have grown up a bit." The fire-breather smiled, hoping to lighten Jakotsu's mood.

"I have...?" the cross-dresser's voice caught in throat and he felt his eyes welling up with tears.

Renkotsu nodded and reaching out, he gently wiped away the tear that slid down Jakotsu's cheek. He felt bad for the cross-dresser and he hated to see him hurt, but he knew he had to discourage him while building up the friendship between them. "If you wish for some more adult conversation, Sui and I are almost always available. But I think it is up to you to help Oo-Aniki to grow up too. He won't listen to subordinate like me in this instance, but he might listen to his lover's worries."

"You think so...?" Jakotsu wiped under his eyes as he composed himself and Renkotsu nodded. Smiling as he pretended everything in his confused heart was alright, he said, "Then I will be sure to come visit you for more adult conversation. Thank you, Ren. Oh look, it's Aniki-chan..."

Renkotsu spotted him too and waved. "Oo-Aniki! I found him!"

Bankotsu waved back. "Great!" He hurried over to them, and taking hold of Jakotsu's shoulders, his concern for his paramour's whereabouts was clearly written all over his face, he said, "Where've you been? I've been looking all over for you and worried half to death!"

Jakotsu smiled weakly, "I fell asleep in the garden... I'm sorry."

"I'm going to head inside, my hands are getting cold," Renkotsu said, feeling suddenly uncomfortable.

Bankotsu nodded as he looked over at him. "Sui's looking for you too." Turning back to his paramour, he said, "Sweetness, are you sure you're alright?"

Jakotsu nodded as he let his lover lead him inside. He cast one last longing look at Renkotsu's retreating form as he headed back to the room he shared with his lover.


Suikotsu smiled as he came over and greeted his own lover. "There you are! Where have you been all this time? I was worried someone had also abducted you."

"I missed you too, Sui," Renkotsu teased as his lover's greeting had echoed their leader's greeting of his paramour. "Seriously, Jak and I got caught in the rain and we took shelter in one of the inn's pavilions." They were also heading back to their room, although they took the quieter outdoor route.

"Well, the rain did last a long time."

"Yeah, and you know how much I hate the rain... I love the afterwards though."

Suikotsu nodded. "You smell so clean..."

"Thanks."

They walked along, nodding at passing guests, enjoying each other's company.

"Ren?"

"Yes...?"

"Jak looked a little down." Suikotsu stopped and looked at his lover sternly. "Did you yell at him or lecture him about something?"

"No... We had a rather interesting time together." I know... I hope it's not what I think it is.../He mentally sighed. /Poor Jak...

Suikotsu quirked an eyebrow at him and said, "An interesting time, hunh? What did you do?"

"Well, ummm... How do I explain...?" The fire-breather rubbed his temples with one hand. Dropping it and looking his lover in the eye, he went on, "We found an onsen and while Jak went for a soak, I dangled my feet in to keep him company and we talked..."

"An onsen? Ah... that's why you smell so clean. What did you two talk about?"

They started walking again.

"He started to tell me about his childhood, and then somehow I wound up talking about mine. And he massaged my hands and ummm... feet..."

Suikotsu stopped. "Your feet?"

"Yeah..." Renkotsu, looking really uncomfortable about admitting that, chuckled.

The claw-bearer tried not to smile. "Perhaps it was payment for you sharing your past life; we all know what a clam you are about it."

"Yeah... You know, you should talk to him about it, he's pretty good and with your hands and that kind of skill..."

Suikotsu leaned in and kissed his lover on the cheek. "Maybe I will, and if you keep your feet nice and clean, maybe they'll get a nice surprise." He smiled.

Renkotsu, feigning indignation, said, "Hey! It's not Ban you're talking about here! My feet are always clean." He pulled his lover close.

"You do have very nice feet, good thing you take better care of them than your hands."

Renkotsu laughed. "Jak, oddly enough, said the same thing."

"Well, you do!" the claw-bearer said as he wrapped his arms around his lover's neck.

"Thanks..." Renkotsu kissed him.

Suikotsu, kissing him back, could tell something was bothering the fire-breather. "What's wrong, Ren?"

"I don't know..." Renkotsu said hesitantly. "I might be imaging the whole thing, but I think, ummm... nah! It's crazy; forget it."

"What? Come on, Ren, what's troubling you?"

Renkotsu sighed. "It has to do with Jak. He was acting kind of odd..."

"Odd, how?"

The fire-breather sighed heavily. "Well, he did kiss me... but it wasn't at all like what I would have expected. It was short and he wasn't trying to shove his tongue down my throat. It was almost like he felt sorry for me and was trying to make me feel better the only way he knew how..."

"Oh... One of those pity kisses."

"Yeah... but it didn't feel like it, which was the weird part..."

"How did it feel?"

Renkotsu sighed. "It felt like one of those 'I like you but I'm not sure how to tell you I do' kind of kisses... It reminded me of our first kiss, Very light, very chaste and very quick."

Suikotsu's eyes widened. "Oh kami... he's in love with you...?"

"That's what I'm afraid of. He seems a bit dissatisfied with Ban... Oh hell! I hope Ban doesn't drag him off to the futon..." Renkotsu looked upset.

"Are you in love with him?" the claw-bearer said softly.

"No!" The fire-breather sighed heavily and rubbed his temples with one hand. "I told him I liked talking to him and that I didn't see him as a sex-object, and he seemed to really like that... But I have the feeling if Ban decides he wants a bit of fun it's going to cause a shit-load of problems..."

The claw-bearer breathed a sigh of relief as his worries over where Renkotsu's affections lie were eased, but just as quickly his faced clouded over with worry. "I see... He is growing up a bit..."

"Yeah... but the trouble is Ban hasn't."

"Yes..."

"I told him to tell Ban his concerns, but now that I think about it, that may not have been such a good idea. What if that causes trouble more than it helps?"

"Hmmm...Ban can be very defensive."

"I know... what the hell am I going to do? I don't need a repeat of, you know, especially when neither one of us did anything wrong."

"At least you'll have me on your side this time."

"Thanks... But I still feel badly about the whole thing. It just sort of happened and I swear I never saw it coming. If I did, I would have discouraged him from the start... Why the hell did I pick that time of all times to take the stick out of my ass...?" Renkotsu rubbed his throbbing temples.

"Would there ever have been a better time?" Suikotsu said as he started walking again.

Renkotsu shrugged and hurried after him. "I don't know... He's so damned sneaky and devious and he has this talent for getting you to do things you shouldn't..."

"Yes, he's very clever, maybe even clever enough to pull Oo-Aniki onto his side."

"You think?"

Suikotsu nodded as they entered their room. He slid the shoji closed behind Renkotsu, and turning; he came over and sat across from his lover.

"I hope so... The gods helps me, but I really do want to see him get a lil of the happiness that I know with you..." Renkotsu said softly.

"Yes, he does deserve to know that kind of happiness."

"Yeah... Especially after what little he told me about his childhood."

"Yes..." Suikotsu began to palm his lover's thigh comfortingly. "Though you didn't have such a great one yourself."

Renkotsu closed his eyes. "Mine was actually a helluva lot better than his was. He was six, Sui... six. When I was six, I was playing with the other acolytes, not earning a living... Gods and what a living too..."

Suikotsu, attempting to break Renkotsu out of his self induced guilt trip, said, "At least he wasn't forced out of a home he loved into the cold and rain."

"True, but I think he might have welcomed that, don't you?"

"Yes, but I was talking about being thrown out of a house you loved. 'Loved' being the key word here."

Renkotsu sighed. "Yeah..."

Suikotsu shook his head at his lover. Smiling wryly, he said, "You're just determined to be miserable, aren't you?"

"Sorry." Renkotsu grinned sheepishly. "First the rain and now this, hunh? Maybe I should go look for something to blow up..."

Suikotsu laughed. "Just make sure I'm out of firing range, okay?"

"Okay..." Renkotsu chuckled. "But I could be tempted to stay here, especially if you keep massaging my thighs like that..." he leaned in and kissed his lover.

Breaking the kiss, Suikotsu said, "Maybe you should try and sleep it off a bit and let your mind work it out."

"Okay, as long as you'll come lie with me... Maybe when I wake up, I'll realize I was mistaken about the whole thing." He sighed. I hope so... The last thing I want is for someone to end up hurt over this.../Groaning, he thought, /Oh gods! I'm such an idiot!

"Anyway, if Jak gets upset with Oo-Aniki he'll probably come running to our room, and it'll look like he came running to me, which he does a lot."

"Good." Renkotsu nodded, before hitting himself on the forehead. "Oh shit! Sui, I just remembered an off hand remark I made to him..." He looked at the claw-bearer with a guilty expression on his face.

"What?" Suikotsu looked at him sharply. "What did you say?"

"I said something about if things were different and we didn't have our respective partners... I might have been interested in him."

"Well, that's something one often wonders; there's no sin in that..."

"You sure? But what if I made him think I really do have feelings for him? He's not so bad when he calms down and behaves himself. And I did have a nice time with him, but I don't really want that on a permanent basis. I want something calmer..." He reached out and cupped Suikotsu's cheek. "Something that I never have to worry about up and leaving me for another pretty face... Now that I think about it, I feel like I've betrayed you even though we did nothing but talk... And I'm sorry; I hope I didn't hurt you."

"Betrayers don't tend to be this honest."

Renkotsu smiled sadly. "You're too kind to me, Sui. I feel like a real shit over this and here you are so understanding and all." He leaned forward and kissed him.

"That's all I can be, or else I would be as miserable as you are," Suikotsu said softly as he took Renkotsu's face in his hands. Pulling it closer, he kissed the fire-breather on his forehead where the symbol was.

The fire-breather snaked his arms around his lover, pulling him close. He held him, lightly stroking his hair as he whispered, "Thanks..."

"You can't help what others feel for you, Ren," Suikotsu said softly. "I mean no one can resist loving you when you open up to them like that."

"You're making me blush."

"Good," Suikotsu said, and Renkotsu could hear the smile in his voice, "That means you're feeling something other than guilt."

"Yeah, I'm feeling how much I love you and desire you..." Renkotsu tilted Suikotsu's face up to look at him and just as he was about to kiss him, someone knocked on their door. Pulling back, Renkotsu growled, "Damn it! What the hell do you want?!"

Jakotsu said timidly, "Can I come in, Ren...? Please...?"

"This had better be important, Jak."

"It is..." Jakotsu said as he entered. "Sui...Ren...." He took a deep breath and swallowed. "Aniki-chan is being impossible..." The cross-dresser's eyes welled up with tears.

Renkotsu annoyed at being interrupted took a deep breath and blew it out slowly as his lover smiled apologetically at him, before getting and going over to Jakotsu.

"What happened?" Suikotsu hugged the cross-dresser.

"All...he...wants..." he sobbed. "...is...nookie...he... got... mad... when... I... wanted... to... talk!" Pulling away from Suikotsu, he sat down and the claw-bearer sat next to him.

Renkotsu covered his face with his hands. "Oh... Hell...." he said softly.

Jakotsu looked over at Renkotsu. "You said I should talk to him about it..." He sniffed, rubbing his finger under his nose, before wiping away a stray tear from his cheek. "Now he's pissed off at me cuz he thinks we were up to no good again." He leaned into Suikotsu and cried on his shoulder.

Renkotsu came over to them. "I think I gave you the wrong advice. I'm sorry, Jak..."

Jakotsu looked up at him in surprise. "What do you mean...? You told me to tell Aniki-chan I don't want to be seen as a sex object. Why didn't he listen to me, Ren? And why did he get so pissed off and yell at me like that? He's madder than he was the time we actually did get up to no good..." He wiped at the tears that ran down his cheeks.

"No you didn't, Ren. Jak, Ban is just being a selfish child!"

The cross-dresser looked from one to the other, completely confused. "Hunh? Why is he selfish? He said I was..."

Suikotsu sighed. "Because he's not listening to you and considering your feelings," he explained patiently. "What exactly did he say to you when you told him?

Jakotsu sniffed as he rubbed under his eyes. "He laughed and asked if I was joking and when I said 'no,' he got angry and asked if I nookied with Ren, cuz there's been times before when I've nookied because we needed the money and afterwards I didn't feel like having nookie with him... But that's cuz I wanted a bath first or sometimes I was too sore..." He looked over at the fire-breather and said, "Well, since you said I should voice my feelings, I did. And when you said I had interesting viewpoints, I wanted to know if Aniki-chan thought so too..." the cross-dresser rambled on. "I don't always want to nookie with him, not that I don't enjoy it... but I thought I left my whoring days behind me..." he trailed off softly.

"You have, Jak, and he of all people should remember that!" Suikotsu exclaimed.

Jakotsu nodded. "I know..." He moved away from Suikotsu and stood up to leave. "But now he's gone and thrown me out of our room. Not that I would go back anyway as I'm kinda mad at him for yelling at me and accusing me of doing something I didn't do." He shrugged. "I guess I could stay up all night in the entrance or sleep outside our room..."

"That's it!" Suikotsu said angrily as he stood up. "I'm going to go drag him in here and we're ALL going to have a talk."

Jakotsu shrank back from the force of the claw-bearer's anger. "You are?" He blinked in confusion as he sat back down on the floor. He was happy the claw-bearer was going to stand up for him, although he doubted it would do any good.

"Yes!"

"Okay..." The cross-dresser rubbed under his eyes, and looking over at Renkotsu, he asked, "Are you staying here, Ren?"

"I probably shouldn't..." Renkotsu said as he stood up to go.

Jakotsu nodded as he sat there, looking lost and forlorn. "Yeah..."

"You should stay, Ren. It would look even worse if you couldn't be trusted to stay alone in the same room with him."

"All right."

Suikotsu turned and stormed out of his room. He headed down the hall to his leader's room, trying hard to rein in his anger as he did not want his darker side dealing with this. When he got there, he paused just outside the door and slowly counted backwards from ten, and feeling somewhat calmer, he knocked on the shoji. "Oo-Aniki!"

"What?" Bankotsu slid back the shoji. He was upset over his fight with Jakotsu, and he was hoping the cross-dresser had come back. So he was rather disappointed to find Suikotsu standing there.

"Why must you be such a jerk sometimes?"

"Excuse me?" the young leader of the Shichinintai said, quirking an eyebrow at his subordinate.

"Jakotsu is away from the people that only viewed him as just a whore and now that he's finally starting to realize that, you're treating him like one."

"I am not! Since when is wanting some nookie from my lover treating him like a whore?" he narrowed his eyes at the claw-bearer. "We used to enjoy it until Ren put some shitting nonsense in his head about talking!" He tried to look past Suikotsu to see if Jakotsu was standing behind him.

"It's not shit, Ban!"

Bankotsu was a bit taken aback by that. "Yeah...?"

The claw-bearer continued more calmly, "Yes. There's more to a relationship than sex, and Jakotsu does have more than feathers in his head, but so far no one has let him show it! I admit I was guilty of thinking that at first, hell we all were, but I've changed my view on him. And yet, the one person whose opinion matters the most to him, is the last person to see it!" Suikotsu sighed as Bankotsu opened and closed his mouth a few times, although nothing came out. "Stop acting like a fish and let me know whether you've acknowledged what I'm saying or not."

"Yeah... But I, ummm..." Bankotsu frowned. "He does...?"

"Yes," Suikotsu said patiently. "But your one-track mind seems to have been blind to it."

Bankotsu flushed under the claw-bearer's gaze. Suikotsu's demeanor reminded him of his father's when he would discipline him and his brothers and it made him feel younger than his sixteen years. "But we like it, so what's wrong with it?" he said defiantly.

Suikotsu sighed. "There's nothing wrong with it in and of itself, but don't let it be the only thing that holds you two together."

"Why would we?" Bankotsu eyed the claw-bearer suspiciously. "Wait...How do I know you're not saying that because you're jealous Ren won't nookie with you whenever you want?"

"Because it's usually me refusing him."

Bankotsu laughed. "Old man's losing his desire, eh?" he said before growing suddenly serious. "But how do I know Ren isn't trying to get from Jak what he can't get from you?"

The claw bearer rubbed his forehead with the fingers of one hand. "It would be kind of stupid for someone who wants to get some nookie out of someone else to tell them you don't have to have nookie all the time," Suikotsu said wearily.

"True... But he could just be sweet talking him. You know as well as I do, that Jak'll sometimes do something he didn't want to do if he thinks he doesn't have to do it. Plus Ren's not stupid, and he knows as well as everyone else that if you flatter Jak enough, he'll happily do what you want just to please you. Besides, they did it before, so what's to stop them from doing it again?"

"Ren never makes the same mistake twice and he has four scars on his back to remind him of that."

"But Jak doesn't and if he thinks Ren wants some he isn't going to let a lil thing like that stop him."

Suikotsu looked at his leader sadly. "He's changed since then."

"Yeah? And you know this how?"

"I know."

"Care to elaborate?"

The claw-bearer nodded. "Yes, because I think he understands how much it would hurt everyone if he did."

Bankotsu, not wanting to let go of his jealousy, said, "Wait... he's always running to you." He narrowed his eyes at Suikotsu.

"Because I listen to him when you won't."

"Yeah...? That's all you do; listen?"

Yes." Suikotsu sighed wearily as all three of his personalities wanted to knock some sense into his young leader. "See? This is the exact problem! You're defensive and quick to jump to jealousy! Now I know that's all about being sixteen as I've been there, but if you want to keep the leadership of this unit successful, and have an equally successful relationship with Jak, then you're going to have to grow up!"

Bankotsu grew quiet as he thought about it. He was not happy at all about being chewed out by his fourth in command over a private matter, but he realized he had it coming to some extent. The claw-bearer had taken a paternal interest in the cross-dresser after working closely with him on a few missions and he could be just as fiercely defensive of the cross-dresser as a bitch with a litter of pups, so Bankotsu decided to take it to heart. "So you think I need to grow up?"

"Yes."

"And I can do this by listening to Jak and not nookiing with him so much...?" Bankotsu gave him a look as if he did not really believe him, but was willing to give it a try.

"Not just that; but it's a part of it."

"Yeah? And what else?"

"Well a good relationship is about give and take, and you try to keep that give and take as equal as possible."

"Okay. I'll try..." Bankotsu capitulated as he wanted to see his paramour. "So, ummm... where is he?"

"In our room."

"Shall we?"

Suikotsu nodded and stepped out of the way as Bankotsu left his room. He closed the shoji behind him and they headed down the hall to the room Suikotsu shared with his lover Renkotsu.

While Suikotsu was busy trying to reason with Bankotsu before bringing him back to the room, Jakotsu and Renkotsu waited anxiously for their return.

"Ren, do you think Sui can talk some sense into Aniki-chan?" the cross-dresser said softly as he nervously picked at his kimono sleeve. He was worried he had made a mistake by listening to the fire-breather's advice.

"Don't worry, Jak, I'm sure Sui'll give him a good talking to." Renkotsu was also worried he may have made a bad decision by giving Jakotsu bad advice, only realizing too late that what would work for him and Suikotsu did not necessarily mean it was going to work for the cross-dresser and their young leader.

"Yeah... But what if he doesn't want me any more because I refused him... I don't want to be lonely... I... ummm..." Jakotsu trailed off softly as he tried sorting out his fears from his feelings. He had just realized that Renkotsu might not want to give up what he had with the claw-bearer and he was terrified of ending up all alone. The cross-dresser was on the edge of panic as he had no idea what to do.

"I don't think Ban could ever truly leave you and if he does, he's a fool to give up someone so devoted to him."

"Yeah....?" Jakotsu said distractedly. He was trying hard to keep his emotions in check and as he was not paying attention to the fire-breather he asked, "Why's that...?"

Renkotsu was about to snap at him for not listening, when something about the forlorn way Jakotsu sat there made him change his mind and simply repeat himself. "He would be a fool to leave someone so devoted to him."

Jakotsu looked up at him and said, "You think...?" He wiped away a stray tear. "I know I want to be with him forever and ever... Even if he doesn't want to talk and listen to me..." the cross-dresser rambled softly.

The fire-breather smiled. "Like I said before, Ban would be a fool to give you up over some petty jealousy shit."

The cross-dresser nodded in reply, stifling the urge to hug Renkotsu for making him feel better. It was a good thing he did as the shoji slid open and Suikotsu entered followed by Bankotsu. Jakotsu's face lit up when he saw him. "Aniki-chan..." he said softly although Bankotsu refused to acknowledge him which was not lost on the claw-bearer.

"Now, I'm getting tired of all this tension and jealousy shit, so we're going to sit here and talk this out." Suikotsu sat and folded his arms across his chest as he waited for their replies.

"It sounds good to me," Renkotsu said.

Bankotsu, looking very much like he would rather be elsewhere, rolled his eyes. "Yeah... me too," he said.

Jakotsu merely sat there and nodded.

"Okay, good. Now, Ban, Jak, what were you two arguing about?" Suikotsu said as he played mediator.

The two exchanged glances before Jakotsu spoke. "Ummm... I just wanted to talk sometimes..." He looked over at Bankotsu. "Ren said I have interesting ideas..." Jakotsu said before turning towards Suikotsu. "And Aniki-chan only wanted to nookie and I didn't feel like it so he got mad..."

Suikotsu quirked an eyebrow at him and said, "Is this true, Ban?"

The sixteen year old leader shrugged. "Yeah..." he said, and turning to his paramour, he continued, "But I like being with you like that, Sweetness."

"Yeah....?" Jakotsu said softly and it was clear from the looks they gave each other that all was forgiven.

Suikotsu, however, was not about to let the matter drop as it was just a matter of time before their leader and his paramour were fighting again over the next trivial matter, and he was getting tired of it. "Are you two willing to find a compromise in this?" he said sternly.

Bankotsu and the cross-dresser exchanged looks and nodded.

"Okay, so who wants to begin with their part of the compromise?"

"Ummm... I can go first." Jakotsu reached out on placed his hand over his lover's. "I promise I'll try to be more willing to nookie when you want some, Aniki-chan... And I'll try not to annoy you by wanting to talk first."

"Perhaps some after nookie talk, then?" the claw-bearer suggested.

Jakotsu smiled. "Yeah... I like the sound of that!"

Bankotsu, rolling his eyes, sighed and mumbled, "Me too... And ummm, Sweetness, I'll try hard not to be so demanding when it comes to nookie..." Oh hell! I can't believe I'm saying that in front of them.

Renkotsu, who had been sitting there, quietly sketching them, picked up on the sixteen year old's discomfiture. "Oo-Aniki, I saw nothing, I heard nothing, and I know nothing."

Suikotsu nodded as if to say, "You can trust Ren to not take this any further than this room," much to Bankotsu's relief.

And just when Suikotsu thought it was all over, the cross-dresser innocently asked, "Sui, Aniki-chan... is it okay if I spend time talking with Ren?"

Renkotsu looked up from his sketch. "Now is not the time, Jak."

"No! No! No!" Jakotsu waved his hands at him. "I didn't mean now! I meant whenever I felt like talking and you weren't busy, Ren."

Suikotsu looked over at his lover and back at the cross-dresser. "I've decided I'm going to trust you."

"You do?" Jakotsu smiled when the claw-bearer nodded. "What about you, Aniki-chan? Do you trust me with Ren too?"

When the sixteen year old said nothing, Suikotsu prompted, "Ban?"

Bankotsu thought it over. He was not sure if he could say in all honesty that he trusted his paramour alone with the fire-breather, but he decided he would say so just to get away from this embarrassing situation. "Yeah... I suppose so."

"At the very least, Ban, you can trust that Ren isn't going to forget those scars on his back."

"Yeah..."

"Aniki-chan, I swear I won't do anything with Ren that'll upset you!" Jakotsu had laced his fingers together and held his hands just under his chin as if pleading with Bankotsu to believe him, and the sixteen year old had to admit he looked rather cute doing it.

Suikotsu chuckled. "Oh, Ban, how can you resist that face?"

"I know..." Bankotsu said as a goofy smile spread across his face. He was dying to kiss his paramour and as he leaned towards him the claw-bearer coughed.

"Okay, now that we have this all settled you two, get out... I want my own Ren time."

Jakotsu looked at his lover and giggled. Standing up, he said, "Okay!" as he held out his hand to Bankotsu and pulled him to his feet.

"Bye!" they chorused as they left the room and headed back to their own.

Renkotsu chuckled as he set his sketchbook down, and making his way over to his lover he said teasingly, "Good, they're gone. Let's nookie!"

Suikotsu pouted. "But I want to talk!" he teased back.

"But I want to nookie!"

"And I want to talk. Hmmm..." Suikotsu smiled at his lover. "Perhaps we should talk about nookiing and see where it goes?"

"Sounds like a good idea to me..." Renkotsu grinned.

"Hmmm... yeah..."

And as Suikotsu recited a list of things he would like to do to his lover, Renkotsu reached out and grabbing his chin, he squished the claw-bearer's lips together. "Shut up and kiss me..." he said huskily, and letting go of his lover's face, he leaned in towards him.

"Okay..." Suikotsu murmured as he closed the distance between them and did so.
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