Author’s note: The following is a series of Jakotsu-centric challenge fics written from a list my dear friend and writing partner, Vega-chan, came up with for me. It’s is based on Killa Kay’s awesome collection of Gravitation short stories called “A to Z.” (You can find them in my favorite stories section.) Due to the nature of the word given, they can either be what I call “canon timeline” which is set before their first deaths or AU which is set in modern times and will be set in the “world” I created in my story, “Homecoming.”
FYI: Tattsuke-bakama is the type of hakama Bankotsu is seen wearing. In fact, all of the Shichinintai who chose to wear hakama wear this type as they were worn by the military because of their ease of movement.
A furoshiki is a wrapping cloth, like the one Sango uses to carry her things around in.
Takoyaki are fried octopus balls.
An obiage is a pretty silk scarf-like sash that peeks out the top of one’s obi, when dressed in formally in a kimono; it’s not worn with an informal yukata. If you are familiar with “Ruroni Kenshin,” the character Kaoru, when dressed in her “street-wear,” wears one.
“H” is for Hope
Jakotsu wandered the marketplace, looking for the perfect gift for Bankotsu. The others were also there, taking the time to enjoy themselves, and spend a bit of the earnings from their latest mission on various trinkets and necessities. The cross-dresser, however, had something different in mind. He was busy looking for the perfect gift to give Bankotsu; one he hoped would convey exactly how he felt about their leader.
While the cross-dresser knew Bankotsu had some feelings for him, he was unsure if it was merely friendship, and the fun they had shared in and out of the futon was simply because there were no girls around to get in the way, or it was, as he had hoped, love. So he wandered around by himself, looking at the various merchandise, in the hope of finding the perfect gift. Several times he thought he had found it, only to have something else catch his eyes. Just when he thought all hope was lost, he spotted it.
Jakotsu quickly set down the armguards he was holding and walked over to the merchant selling kimono. He searched the bamboo racks for the flash of white that had caught his eye. There, hidden amongst the other kimono, was a simple white kimono done in the peasant style with tighter fitting sleeves and a bit of indigo spreading out across the left shoulder. It’s perfect! And it’ll go great with the new armor Aniki-chan is having made.
Smiling sweetly at the merchant, Jakotsu said as casually as he could, “How much for this one?”
“And if I wanted a pair of hakama too?”
“Add another thirty mon and they’re yours.”
The cross-dresser blinked as he tried to figure out much he would owe. He desperately tried counting on his fingers, holding up both hands as if they would somehow tell him the correct answer. Just as the merchant was starting to wonder how much he could cheat the cross-dresser out of, salvation arrived when Jakotsu looked up and saw Suikotsu.
The claw-bearer looked around for several minutes, and spotting his friend, he came over to him. “Hey, Jak. Whatchya doing?”
“I ummm… saw this kimono and I thought it’d be perfect for Aniki-chan.” Jakotsu fingered the softly cottony folds of the kimono.
“I see… I think he’d like one very much too.” Suikotsu smiled, his eyes twinkling with amusement.
“Yeah…?” Jakotsu smiled back as Suikotsu nodded. “I want to get him some hakama too, since he ripped the ones he’s got now.”
“Good idea.” Turning to the merchant, Suikotsu asked, “How much?”
“Twenty mon for the kimono and another thirty for the hakama.”
Suikotsu turned to Jakotsu and said, “That’s not unreasonable… but I think Oo-Aniki would be a lot more comfortable if you got him a pair of tattsuke-bakama instead.”
“Yeah…? But these are so pretty…”
“Jak, those would look better on you because you’re taller.” Suikotsu smiled.
“Yeah? But I don’t like covering up my legs…” He sighed. “Okay. So how much for these?” Jakotsu walked over to a pair of white cotton tapered-legged hakama and held them up. I hope they don’t cost too much…
The merchant smiled nervously as Suikotsu folded his arms across his chest and stared at him just as expectantly as the cross-dresser did. Coughing to hide his discomfiture, the merchant replied, “How about forty five for the set?”
“Thirty five,” Suikotsu said. “My wife wishes to buy her brother a present and forty five is a bit much, especially for such simple garments.”
The merchant eyed Jakotsu as he thought it over. He desperately wanted to ask if Jakotsu was really a woman as he had his suspicions, but something in the way the claw-bearer kept eying him, made him keep silent about it. Instead, he agreed to Suikotsu’s price just to get them both out of there. “Fine, thirty five it is…”
Jakotsu was delighted and with some help from Suikotsu, he counted the coins and handed them over. After Suikotsu paid the merchant another ten mon for a furoshiki, Jakotsu walked away happily clutching Bankotsu’s present to his chest. Suikotsu left with him, his eyes bright with amusement as Jakotsu had unwittingly bought their leader a gift that signified his acceptance of Bankotsu as his future husband. What the claw-bearer had found even more amusing was that Renkotsu had told him he had seen Bankotsu buying his paramour a gift more suited to a future wife than a friend even though the cross-dresser would love it just as much.
“Hey, Sui?” Jakotsu said, pulling the claw-bearer from his thoughts.
“Can you…ummm… keep a secret?”
The claw-bearer nodded. “Yes… What’s wrong, Jak? You’re not sick or hurt, are you?”
“No!” the cross-dresser cried. “I just wanted to tell someone why I got this for Aniki-chan… and well, ummm…” Jakotsu trailed off helplessly as he struggled to voice his hope.
“Okay, as long as you’re alright, go ahead and tell me your secret,” Suikotsu said as they walked over to the large ginkgo tree that stood in the middle of the marketplace. Surprisingly, no one else had thought to rest in its shade.
The two of them sat down, and Suikotsu waited patiently until Jakotsu had worked up the courage to tell him what was wrong.
Jakotsu, meanwhile, played with the ends of the knot used to tie the furoshiki closed. Just when the claw-bearer figured he was not going to tell him a thing, the cross-dresser said softly, “I ummm…”
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Suikotsu said just as softly.
“It’s okay; I need to tell someone…” Jakotsu looked over at him and Suikotsu nodded for him to continue. “Well, ummm… Aniki-chan always used to buy little gifts and stuff for me, but he hasn’t been doing it lately…”
“He hasn’t? I’m sorry, Jak, I never noticed. Normally I’d ask Ban about it, if it were me in your place, but it’s poor manners to inquire about getting gifts.” At Jakotsu’s blank look he added, “Ask about stuff like that.”
“Oh… yeah.” The cross-dresser smiled. “At first I thought it was because we never seemed to have enough money and all... and then after a while I thought maybe Aniki-chan didn’t want to cuz he didn’t want to have to buy everyone a gift and all…”
“It’s possible that’s the reason why.”
Jakotsu nodded. “So I didn’t really worry about, but then he started paying all this attention to all the stupid girls we come across…” he said peevishly.
“And you’re worried he doesn’t like you any more?” Suikotsu asked.
“Yeah… And I thought if I got him something nice he’d see that I still like him… a lot…” Jakotsu trailed off so softly Suikotsu wasn’t sure he had heard him correctly.
“Yeah…” Jakotsu sighed. “I really hope he still likes me, Sui, as I don’t think I could stand it if he didn’t… That’s why I want to give him this gift so badly it hurts, but he told me he wanted to be alone. What if he’s really gone off with some girl?” The cross-dresser blinked back his tears.
Suikotsu patted his friend’s knee sympathetically. “I’m sure he didn’t. Ren told me he saw him wandering around the marketplace.”
“I hope not…” Jakotsu said tartly. “I mean I don’t care if he’s shopping for stuff, but if he’s looking for girls…” he finished darkly.
“I doubt it. I saw some pretty village girl making ox eyes at him before and he completely ignored her.”
“Yeah…?” Jakotsu brightened as he clung to the hope that maybe Bankotsu really did like him better than any stupid girl they came across.
The claw-bearer smiled “Yeah…”
“So you think when I give him this, Aniki-chan’ll see that I like him a lot?”/ I hope you say “yes.”/
“Most definitely.” Suikotsu chuckled and Jakotsu quirked an eyebrow at him.
“What’s so funny?”
“You do know that gift is something a girl would give to her future husband?”
“No…” The cross-dresser blinked in surprise. “Really?”
“Yeah. My Sedako-chan made me a lovely pair when we became formally engaged. She also made me a kimono to go with them and I wore them on our wedding day.”
“Yeah…?” Jakotsu giggled.
“Yup!” Suikotsu grinned, pleased that Jakotsu was feeling better. “I’d probably still be wearing them to this day if I hadn’t ruined them while I was /him/…” he said ruefully.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Sui… I know how much she meant to you,” the cross-dresser said softly as Suikotsu nodded. “Ummm, Sui, do you think Aniki-chan knows what kind of a present this is? What if he doesn’t like it cuz he thinks I want to get married?”
Suikotsu gave his friend a funny look and said, “Jak, I don’t think you have anything to worry about there… men don’t usually get married to each other.”
“Oh yeah…” the cross-dresser said with a laugh. “I’m being stupid again, hunh?” he said sheepishly.
Suikotsu chuckled. “No, not stupid, just cute as Oo-Aniki would say,” he said as he ruffled the cross-dresser’s hair.
“Oooh!!” Jakotsu said impishly. “Does this mean you love me too, Sui?” he asked as he leaned into him.
“Don’t get your hopes up too high…” Suikotsu gently chided, pushing the cross-dresser away.
Jakotsu giggled as he sat up and stuck his tongue out in reply.
“Hey, Sweetness, Sui!” Bankotsu called out as he walked over to them.
“Aniki-chan!!” Jakotsu waved.
“Whatchya doing?” Bankotsu said as he flopped down next to his paramour while being careful not to damage the bundle he was holding.
“Nothing… just sitting here, resting. Why?” the cross-dresser said as he eyed the small furoshiki that his lover was busy pretending was not there.
“Oh no reason... it’s just that I was looking all over for you.”
“Really?” Jakotsu smiled happily.
Before the cross-dresser could go on, Suikotsu coughed. “If you two will excuse me, I promised Ren and Gin I’d meet them over at the food vendor. Ren said saw they had takoyaki there.”
“Okay… Tell them and anyone else you see, I got us some rooms for tonight at the inn,” Bankotsu said.
“Will do,” Suikotsu said as he stood up to leave. He briefly met his leader’s gaze, before winking at the cross-dresser if to say, “I hope it works out for you,” and without another word he disappeared into the crowd of villages that roamed the marketplace.
“What’s wrong, Sweetness?”
“Nothing… I, ummm… got you something,” Jakotsu said as he thrust the furoshiki, he had been holding, towards his lover. “I hope you like it…”
“I’m sure I will… and thank you.” Bankotsu smiled. “I, ummm, got you something too.”
“Yeah… I’m hoping you’ll like it too. I’m just sorry I couldn’t find it in purple, cuz I know how much you like that color,” Bankotsu said as he handed over the small bundle he was carrying.
“Thanks…The color doesn’t matter, Aniki-chan… I know I’ll like it no matter what! So, can I open it?”
“Sure… as long as I can open mine too.”
Jakotsu nodded. Smiling shyly at his lover, the cross-dresser carefully opened the bundle. Inside, he found a soft grey silk obiage. “It’s beautiful, Aniki-chan…” he whispered as he draped the scarf-like sash around his neck.
Bankotsu looked up and said, “You’re supposed to wear it around your waist… ummm…yeah…” He sighed at the look on his paramour’s face. “Never mind, you don’t wear your obi the way you should for you to wear it properly… besides, I like it better this way, it’s different, like you are.” Bankotsu grinned.
The cross-dresser kissed his lover’s cheek. “I’m glad...” he said shyly. “So do you like your gift?”/ I hope so…/
“I love everything you give me, Sweetness.” The young leader of the Shichinintai smiled as he opened the furoshiki. He frowned, and held up the kimono. “Sweetness, this must have cost you a fortune…”/ I hope they didn’t cheat you too badly./
“Really?” Jakotsu smiled. “Nope… And Sui did help me count out the coins, so I know I gave him the right amount.”
“Good…” Bankotsu handed him the kimono and smiled. “And you got me new hakama too? Thanks!”
“Yeah… those are all ripped and it wouldn’t do for you to be walking around like that.” Jakotsu stuck his fingers in the hole on Bankotsu’s knee and giggled.
Bankotsu felt his cheeks heating up. “Yeah, I know. And I can’t wait to change into this.”
Jakotsu smile lit up his face. “Yeah…?”
“Yup! I just wish I could have found you a nicer kimono too…”
“Don’t worry about it, Aniki-chan. This one is fine.” The cross-dresser ran his hand along his thigh, smoothing the cottony folds of his yukata. Though I hope you still like the way I look in it …
“You sure?” Bankotsu asked and Jakotsu nodded in reply. “Anyway I was kinda hoping you were finished buying stuff as I’d like to go back to the inn for a while.” A wicked grin slowly spread across his face.
Jakotsu giggled happily. “You know, I was kinda hoping you’d say that…” he said as he stood up to go. Holding out his hand, Bankotsu took it and the cross-dresser helped haul him to his feet.
As they made their way over to the inn, Bankotsu slid his arm around the cross-dresser’s wait, letting his hand fall to cup Jakotsu’s buttocks. Throwing an arm around his lover’s shoulders, as he giggled merrily, Jakotsu realized that his hope had become a certainty…
Author’s end note: Next up is “I” is for Impatient.