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.”
Inspired by some brief scenes in several of my doujinshi... if only I knew what they were really saying.
“M” is for Marriage
“Uh, Sui, what’s it like to be married?” Jakotsu asked as he reached for another rice ball. They were sitting on the veranda, having lunch, while taking a break from their respective chores. Since it was harvest time, they were unable to get any village girls to come clean up their home base and they were forced to do it themselves.
Suikotsu quirked his eyebrow at the cross-dresser, and swallowing the onigiri he was eating, he said, “How can I put it...” The claw-bearer paused as he thought it over. “I was lucky in that my parents chose a woman that I knew and came to like very much. Most people, including my friends, are married off to someone they don’t know, or may not even like, simply for political or economic gain.” At the cross-dresser’s blank look, Suikotsu clarified. “Their parents married them off because they were poor and the other family had more, or the other family came from a more powerful clan. Sometimes both reasons were true.”
“Yeah, and sometimes you go out and find your own spouse if there’s no women available for marriage in your own village that could help you advance in life. Such as if you weren’t your father’s heir, finding a woman who only has sisters could be an advantage.”
“And despite outward appearances, Jak, marriage is really a partnership between you and your spouse. In exchange for providing a roof over her head and food in her belly, a woman will run her husband’s household, help defend it when he’s away, and give him heirs to carry on his name.”
“Yeah...?” Jakotsu held out the plate of onigiri and Suikotsu took one.
“If you’re lucky, one of the best parts about being married is you’re never lonely.”
“Oh...” Jakotsu said thoughtfully.
“Yeah... so, uh, are you thinking of leaving us to get married?” Suikotsu said teasingly.
Jakotsu laughed. “Nah... unless I can really marry Aniki-chan...?”
“Sorry, but that’s not possible.”
The cross-dresser sighed sadly. “I know...” He slid off the veranda and stood up to leave.
“Yeah?” Jakotsu turned to face the claw-bearer.
“You still have all the benefits of being married without it being recorded.”
“Yeah, Oo-Aniki’s put a roof over your head and food in your belly,” Suikotsu picked up a rice ball and took a bite.
Jakotsu smiled. “I do defend the place when he’s away, even if he asks Ren to help him run things,” the cross-dresser said ruefully.
“That’s only because you weren’t brought up to do that.”
The cross-dresser giggled. “Yeah, I was brought up to do other things.”
“That’s the big reason why everyone wants to marry a geisha.” Suikotsu chuckled.
“Yeah...” Jakotsu’s smile faded. “But what if Aniki-chan wants an heir? I can’t give him one.”
“True, but many men stay happily married to their barren wives.”
“Yeah... and how many of them go looking elsewhere for that heir?” Jakotsu said bitterly.
“A few, but there are also just as many who’ll adopt another man’s son who has no prospects in his own clan as well as those who simply chose an heir from amongst their nephews.”
“Yup. So stop worrying about it. Right now, you know as well as I do, that Oo-Aniki is too much of a free spirit to settle down with anyone,” Suikotsu gently chided.
“I know, but I can’t help worrying.”
“That’s because you’re becoming a man, Jak.” Suikotsu held up a hand. “I mean really becoming a man, with a man’s worries and responsibilities. And it sounds to me like you’re ready to settle down and get married.”
“Yeah...? But I don’t want to marry some stupid woman, Sui.”
“I know. But there is another option.”
“Continue just as you have with Oo-Aniki. Let him gain the confidence to rely on you for the things he relies on Ren for. He’s growing older too, and you might just find he spends the rest of his days with you.”
Suikotsu nodded. “Yeah...” He smiled. “Unfortunately, I have to get back to work and you should too. We can talk about this later if you want.”
“Okay... Later then!” Jakotsu smiled and with a quick wave of his hand he set off to finish hanging up the clean bedding.
“Good... that’s the last of the bedding...” Jakotsu said to himself as he hung a thin cotton blanket.
“Sorry, Jak,” Renkotsu said as he came up behind him with a basket full of laundry.
Jakotsu turned to face him, a sour look on his face.
The fire-breather chuckled. “Now you know why Momo-chan was complaining last time she was here.” He grinned.
“Don’t look at me; you’re the one who wanted to be a little housewife.” Renkotsu laughed at the cross-dresser’s puzzled expression. “Sui said you two talked about marriage.”
Jakotsu rolled his eyes and heaved a long suffering sigh. “All I did was ask him what it’s like, Ren. I thought maybe if he remembered something happy about it, he wouldn’t be so sad.”
“I know...” Renkotsu sighed. “This time of year is always bad for him. At least I’ll be around this time instead of away like last year.”
“Yeah...” Jakotsu bent down and picked up a kimono and carefully strung it on the pole Renkotsu was holding, before repeating the process with another one. “And he seemed happier when I told him I wanted to marry Aniki-chan.” The cross-dresser giggled.
Renkotsu laughed. “Poor Ban. Not only do all the village girls want to marry him, he’s got you wanting the same thing.”
“Well, what’s wrong with that?” the cross-dresser asked as he quirked an eyebrow at him in annoyance.
“Nothing, except no matter how much we dress you up like a girl, you’re still...uh, you.” He chuckled.
Jakotsu stuck his tongue out at the fire-breather, before bending over to retrieve a pair of hakama from the basket. Hanging them on the pole Renkotsu had set up next to the one that held the kimono, he said dryly, “Very funny. Besides, Sui said me and Aniki-chan are married, well, sort of...”
“Hunh?” Renkotsu looked at the cross-dresser like he had three heads.
“Yeah. Sui said Aniki-chan put a roof over my head and food in my belly and umm...”
“Well so did the monastery I used to live in not to mention the blacksmith that took me in when I was thrown out of there. But, Jak, I wasn’t married to either one of them.”
Jakotsu hung up some more laundry as he thought it over. Turning to the fire-breather he said sweetly, “Did you nookie with them?”
“What?!” Renkotsu sputtered.
“Oh, never mind...” the cross-dresser teased. “Unless it’s recorded somewhere you’re not really married, right?” He smiled impishly at the fire-breather.
“Yeah,” Renkotsu said dryly. “And don’t get any ideas about me writing anything down for you either. There’s a whole ceremony you need to go through first. There’re many blessings to be said and gifts handed out, and don’t look at me like that!” He shook his finger at Jakotsu. “I’m not a monk any more, nor do I think you’ll find one stupid enough to go through with this anyway.” He softened his tone. “Just enjoy what you have with Ban and leave it be. And if you want to play dress up; I’ll buy you a pretty kimono to dress up in. Anything else you can forget!”
“Okay, okay...” Jakotsu pouted.
“Seriously, Jak, Sui was right; you two have all the benefits of marriage without all the pain. Just enjoy it and don’t fret over things you can’t change.”
The cross-dresser nodded.
“Well, that’s all the laundry. I’m going to see what else there is to do.”
“Bye, Ren.” Jakotsu said as he picked up the baskets and watched the fire-breather walk away.
Bankotsu’s face lit up when he spotted his paramour heading his way. “Hey, Sweetness!” He was standing under the covered veranda, just outside his study, sweeping the dust and dead leaves away.
“Aniki-chan...” Jakotsu waved.
“Nothing... I’m just tired.” Jakotsu flopped down on the floor next to his lover’s feet.
“Yeah? You’re not getting sick are you?”
“No. I’m just tired of looking at laundry,” Jakotsu wearily.
Bankotsu laughed. “I know. I’m getting tired of sweeping and washing floors myself.” He turned and leaned the broom against the wall before coming back to sit next to his paramour. “I don’t know how the hell girls can do this shit all the time and not complain.”
“Sui says it’s because they’re married.”
“Sui said when you’re married you do things because you’re partners and you get stuff in return for it.”
“Yeah...?” Bankotsu laughed.
“Yup!” The cross-dresser giggled.
“You think we should get some girls so we don’t have to do this any more?”
“Not unless I can cut them up afterwards,” Jakotsu said impishly as he played with the end of his lover’s braid.
Bankotsu chuckled. “That’d be a waste, Sweetness, as we’d have to get more girls.”
“Oh yeah...” Jakotsu laughed. He leaned backed and lay on the floor of the veranda, his legs dangling over the edge.
They lapsed into companionable silence. After awhile, Jakotsu broke it. “Aniki-chan...?” he said as he moved to lay his head in Bankotsu’s lap.
“Ever think about getting married?”
“Hunh?” Bankotsu looked down at his paramour.
“Ever think about getting married,” Jakotsu repeated.
“Nah! Why the hell would I want to get married for?” he said, quirking an eyebrow at his paramour.
“I don’t know... why does anyone get married?”
“Who knows?” Bankotsu shrugged. “And why the sudden interest in marriage, Sweetness?”
“No reason...” Jakotsu said airily. “Well,” he said as he looked up at his lover. “Sui was married and he always gets so sad at this time, because he misses Sedako.”
“Didn’t she die a long time ago?”
“I don’t think so...” The cross-dresser thought it over. “Sui said she died just before we met him.” He counted on his fingers. “What’s that, three years ago?”
Bankotsu laughed. “You’re holding up four fingers.”
“Oh...” Jakotsu looked at his hand. “Anyway, I know he loved her and that’s why he gets so sad in the fall. Last time you were away with Ren and Sui told me she died around this time. He was so upset he was drinking, Aniki-chan.” Jakotsu sighed. “And he said I remind him of her.”
“Does that bother you, Sweetness?”
“No.” Jakotsu smiled ruefully. “I’ve been told many times that I remind a lot of men of their wives.”
“Is that why you cut them up?” Bankotsu teased.
“No!” The cross-dresser frowned.
“I don’t know...” Jakotsu trailed off softly.
Bankotsu shrugged. “I don’t know...” He sighed. “They’re being married and you not?” Bankotsu teased.
“Nah.” Jakotsu giggled. “I have you, don’t I?”
“So what more can I want?”
“A wife to do the laundry for you?”
Jakotsu laughed. “Nah... I’d rather have you,” he said softly. Reaching up, he gently stroked his lover’s cheek.
“Yeah... I’d rather have you than some stupid boring old wife too.” Bankotsu grinned and grabbed his paramour’s hand. “You’re much more fun!”
“I’m prettier too,” the cross-dresser said impishly.
“Hey, Ren,” Suikotsu said, He patted the veranda floor next to himself as an invitation for the fire-breather to sit with him.
“Thank goodness the work’s finally done,” Renkotsu said as he came over and sat down.
“Oh yeah!” The claw-bearer smiled.
“I had the strangest conversation with Jak today.”
“He asked you about marriage too?”
“Yeah...” Renkotsu looked over at him. “He said he was trying to cheer you up. He succeed?” I hope so...
Suikotsu nodded. “Yeah, he did actually. He made me realize that the things that were taken away from me were really given back.”
“Yup. Well, they’re not in the way I would have expected, but they’re there.”
The claw-bearer smiled. “Uh-hunh. You know our lil butterfly is growing up.”
“Does that mean we have a wedding to plan?”
“Not yet, but one of these days,” Suikotsu said. “Anyway, what did you two talk about besides cheering me up?”
“Nothing much, I just told him I couldn’t marry him because I’m no longer a monk.”
“Was he upset?”
“No more than he normally is when you tell him he can’t do something, so don’t worry about it, Sui.”
Suikotsu nodded. Getting up, he said as he held out his hand to help Renkotsu stand, “Come; let’s go eat.”
They walked along the outer corridors of their home base, all the while chatting about nothing in particular. As they turned the corner they spotted the leader and the cross-dresser lounging on the veranda, talking quietly.
“Planning the wedding?” Renkotsu teased as they approached.
Jakotsu was about to snap out a tart reply when his lover silenced him with a look.
“Yeah, we were and we decided a week from today would be nice,” Bankotsu teased, although he sounded dead serious.
“What?!” Renkotsu sputtered and even Suikotsu looked surprised.
“Gotchya!” Jakotsu said. He and Bankotsu looked at each other and laughed. “Ren, you looked so funny when Aniki-chan said that!” He giggled.
“Yeah!” Bankotsu roared with laughter.
“You’re never going to live that down, Ren,” the claw-bearer said sympathetically.
“Tell me about it...”
As they walked away, they could hear their leader and his paramour laughing.
Author’s end note: Next up is “N” is for Nothing.