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: Yoru Mo Hippare is a real Japanese music program that airs on Saturday nights. It’s a karaoke program featuring celebrities past and present singing the top ten hits of the week. Its popularity stems from the fact that it can either be very good depending on the guest, or very bad.
Tiffany’s the famous jewelry store in New York recently opened a couple of boutiques in Tokyo.
Toriyoshi Dining is a real yakitori pub designed for dates. Originally it was a place for business men and office girls to grab a quick dinner before heading home late on the train. Toriyoshi, its sister restaurant, still serves their famous wings.
Oneesan means “Miss” in Japanese as well as sister. Here it’s used as “Miss.”
“S” is for Serious
Bankotsu cracked open his eyes, and reaching across the warm body in the futon with him, he grabbed the ringing cell phone. Flipping it open, he answered it. “Hello...” he said sleepily.
“Sorry.” The person hung up.
Bankotsu hung up the phone and set it down. Yawning softly, he snuggled up against Jakotsu. He was drifting off to sleep when the phone rang again. Sighing wearily, he reached for it again and answered it. “Hello...”
“Sorry.” The line went dead again.
Once again Bankotsu hung up the phone and set it down. Rubbing his forehead tiredly, he settled back against his lover, thinking how nice it was going to be waking up with Jakotsu each morning. As his pleasant thought gave way to the beginning of a dream, the cell phone rang again. Growling, Bankotsu reached for it. Flipping it open, he hissed, “Who the hell is this?”
“No it’s not Jak!” he whispered into the phone. “Jak’s sleeping and I would be too if you didn’t call here every two minutes!”
The person on the other end said softly, “I’m sorry, I’m his friend, Suikotsu. I was calling to see if the move went okay. I was supposed to help him, but I was put on call yesterday when another doctor had an emergency and I just got home.”
“Oh... sorry. It’s Ban.”
“Bankotsu. Kusao Bankotsu.”
“I’m sorry, Kusao-san. My brain’s a bit fuzzy from the thirty six hour shift I just pulled.”
“Ban, please call me Ban, okay?”
“Ban. And if you’ll hold on a sec, I’ll wake him.”
Bankotsu sat up and nudged his lover with his free hand. “Wake up, Sleeping Beauty,” he said softly.
Jakotsu mumbled something incoherent and rolled over onto to his side.
Bankotsu tried again. “Wakey, Wakey...” said as he gave the sleeping cross-dresser another gentle shake. “Come on, Jak, wake up.”
“Jak...Jakotsu... wake up, Sweetness...” Bankotsu said a little louder. “Sui’s on the phone.”
“Hunh...?” Jakotsu cracked open an eye.
Bankotsu chuckled. “Your big sister wants to know how your date went last night. Now get up...”
Jakotsu rolled onto to his back and stared bleary-eyed at his boyfriend. “Who...?”
“Sui. He called a few times.” Bankotsu handed him the phone.
“Oh...” Jakotsu took the proffered cell phone and answered it. “Sui?”
“Hey, Jak. I’m sorry I woke you, but I just got home. I wanted to know how the move went.”
“Good... it went good, Sui.” The cross-dresser yawned.
“If I had known you had company I would have slept first and then called.”
“That’s okay... Ummm...” Jakotsu looked over at his lover.
“Jak? Want me to go?” Suikotsu asked.
“No, Sui... Ummm... ‘Serious,’” Jakotsu said impishly.
“‘Serious...?’ But you’ve only known each other a short time.”
“I know... But this one is ‘Serious.’” Jakotsu gently cupped his lover’s cheek when he frowned. “I feel like I’ve known him forever, Sui.” He smiled at Bankotsu.
On the other end of the phone, Suikotsu frowned. “But that’s what you said about Naraku and look at what a disaster that turned out to be.”
“I know, Sui... But this is different. It feels... I don’t know...” He giggled. “Different.”
Suikotsu snorted in amusement. “So he’s good in bed,” he said flippantly, before continuing more seriously, “But that doesn’t mean-”
Jakotsu cut him off. “I know, Sui, but this feels like the real deal. And once you get to know him, you’ll see that.” Jakotsu sighed softly. “He’s a keeper, Sui.”
Suikotsu sighed. “I wish I shared your optimism.”
“Look, we both got burned, but we both have to move on and get over it.”
“I know that, Jak. But...”
“But nothing. You’re tired and I’m tired and now’s not the time to discuss this. Look, why don’t you get some sleep and come over later for dinner. And ummm... I hope you don’t mind boxes all over the place.”
“No. Wait, you mean to tell me your kitchen’s clean and unpacked already? I guess this really is ‘Serious.’”
Jakotsu laughed. “It’s ‘Serious,’ but we never got around to that yet. After we moved my stuff in, we went over to his place and start packing a few of his things up.” Jakotsu giggled. “Now I have two apartments! One here and one on the other side of Tokyo!”
Suikotsu laughed. “I thought you wanted a summer home in Osaka.”
Jakotsu laughed. “Anyway, I’m going to go so you can get some sleep. Give me a call when you wake up, okay?”
“Sure... Uh, Jak, before I go, do you want me to bring something over for dinner?”
“That’s okay, Sui. There’s a little Chinese take-out place down the block. I’ll order from there.”
“Okay. Later, Jak.”
“Bye, Sui...” Jakotsu hung up the phone and set it down. “Sorry about that, Ban.”
“That’s alright. From the way you’ve talked about him, I had the feeling Suikotsu was a good friend.”
“Yeah... that he is.”
“So uh, what’s all this about ‘serious’ if you don’t mind me asking?”
“Not at all. Serious was a code word, Sui and I had from way back, that we used whenever we found someone that we liked a lot and wanted something more from them than just a good time,” Jakotsu said.
“Yeah... We’ve both had our share of disastrous ‘seriouses,’ but this time I know I’ve got nothing to worry about as I have a good feeling about this one...” Jakotsu gently stroked his lover’s cheek.
Bankotsu reached up, and pulling him close, kissed him.
Bankotsu sat in his office at the record studio, toying with his cell phone and staring at the calendar. He had spent the past ten minutes having a mental debate as to whether or not to call Suikotsu. The record producer took a deep breath and flipped open his phone. He keyed the menu function and seconds later the phone was busy dialing for him. Holding the phone against his ear, Bankotsu counted the rings. One... two... three... Pick up, Sui... four... five...Damn it! Where are you?
“Yes...? Everything alright, Ban?”
“Yeah... Look, are you free for lunch?”
“Yes; why? Are you sure there’s nothing wrong, Ban?”
“Yeah... I need to ask you something. I’ll send a car around to pick you up. Are you home or at the clinic?”
“I’m off today.” Suikotsu looked at his watch. “So I can expect the car in half-hour?”
“Yeah. Thanks, Sui. And uh...”
“Yes?” There was a note of amusement in the pediatrician’s voice.
“Don’t let Jak know we’re meeting for lunch if he calls.”
“Okay. But isn’t he working today? I thought he said something the other day about appearing on Yoru Mo Hippare.”
“Yeah. He’s supposed to be taping today, but I have no idea how long that’ll take and since he’s so good about not bothering me here...” Bankotsu trailed off.
“You have the feeling he’d call me for lunch,” Suikotsu finished for him. “Okay, you have a date, my friend.”
Bankotsu laughed and hung up his cell phone.
Thirty minutes later a car pulled up and when Suikotsu got inside, he was surprised to see Bankotsu.
The car pulled away and headed back towards to heart of Tokyo’s shopping district, the Shibuya. The two men made small talk during the trip and Suikotsu had the feeling his best friend’s lover was dancing around the real reason why he was invited on this little excursion. When they pulled up in front of Tiffany’s newest boutique and got out, Suikotsu shook his head as he followed Bankotsu inside.
“Ban, if you don’t mind me asking, why are we here?”
“I ummm... I wanted to get Jak something from here. He said you two visited the place when you were in New York.”
“Oh...” Suikotsu waited for his best friend’s lover to join him on the sidewalk. “But you’re mistaken on that one, Ban. Jak went to Tiffany’s; I only heard about it when I got back to the hotel room.”
“Oh...” Bankotsu frowned.
“It’s okay, Ban. Jak’s going to love whatever you get him. I remember he bought a bracelet from Tiffany’s New York when we were there, and he was so upset too when he lost it. I know he kept meaning to buy another one, but he never did.”
“I was thinking of something else, Sui.”
“Yeah? Like what? A watch?”
They were wandering around the store looking at the various displays.
“I was thinking of something that would show him how serious I am.”
“Serious?” Suikotsu asked and Bankotsu nodded. The pediatrician smiled.
“Yeah... I mean we have been together for a while now.”“
“Ten years, my friend, is more than ‘a while.’” They laughed. “So, I take it you want to look over at the rings, hunh?”
Bankotsu nodded and they left the bracelets to have a look at the rings.
“What about this one, Ban?”
“No... I’ll know it when I see it. I want it to look like an engagement ring.” He sighed.
“Then let’s look at engagement rings.”
An hour later, they left Tiffany’s, a little blue box safely tucked away in Bankotsu’s pocket.
“Not only is he going to love it, Ban, he’s going to know you’re serious beyond a shadow of a doubt.”
“I hope so...”
“I know so.” Suikotsu smiled reassuringly.
Bankotsu sat in the restaurant with Jakotsu’s parents, nervously toying with his food. While he was sure Jakotsu’s mother was enjoying herself, he could see his father was getting impatient. Taking a deep breath, and praying he did not mess things up, Bankotsu blurted out, “Hibiya-san, I have something I wish to ask you.”
“What is it, Kusao-san?”
“You know Jak and I have been together for a long time...”
“Yes?” Jakotsu’s father prompted.
“Well, if ummm... things had been a little different, I’d ummm...”
“What is it, Kusao-san?”
Bankotsu looked down at his plate, before looking up at his lover’s parents. “What I’m trying to say is had your son been a daughter, I’d be asking you for permission to marry him. But since he’s not, I want your permission to formalize our relationship.”
“I see. And what does your aunt have to say about this?”
“My aunt said if it makes me happy, then it makes her happy.”
“And why is she not here?”
“She’s not well, sir. And she’s been staying with my cousin and her family. She sends her regrets and wishes to meet with you as soon as she can.”
Jakotsu’s parents exchanged glances. “Why isn’t Hirata-sensei here?” his father asked.
“Hunh?” Bankotsu’s confusion was clearly seen on his face.
“Is he not your go between?” Jakotsu’s father said; quirking an eyebrow at Bankotsu.
“Oh... No, actually he’s keeping Jak busy so I could meet with you in private. I really wanted to speak with you in person since this is a most unusual circumstance.”
“Fair enough.” Jakotsu’s father looked at his wife, who smiled. “When should my wife call her niece and ask for her wedding kimono back?”
“You’re saying you don’t mind?”
“You make our son happy and that’s the important thing. Besides, I have given up a long time ago trying to figure out my son, Kusao-san.”
Bankotsu smiled. “Tell me about it...”
“You look beautiful...” Bankotsu said softly when Jakotsu entered their living room.
“You think?” the cross-dresser said saucily.
Bankotsu got up came over to him, and snaking his arms around Jakotsu’s wait, he pulled him close. “Oh yeah. Maybe we should skip going out and just stay here,” he teased.
“Nah-uh!! You promised me a night out and we’re going out!” Jakotsu said, playfully pouting.
Bankotsu grinned wickedly at him. “Okay, you win. We’ll go out.”
“Good. So where are you taking me?”
“It’s a surprise...”
“Oooh! I love surprises.”
“I know you do, Sweetness, and I think you’re going to especially love this one.”
Jakotsu smiled. Taking his lover’s face in his hands, the cross-dresser gently tilted his face up and kissed his forehead, careful not to leave any lipstick behind. “Now get your hands off my ass so we can go,” he said playfully.
Jakotsu sighed. “Thank you so much for taking me to Toriyoshi Dining. I just love this place.”
“I know,” Bankotsu chuckled. “We’ve been coming here for what? Years?”
“Yeah... They used to have the best wings, no?”
“Oh yeah! But I kind of like the way its menu has evolved.”
“True...But then the food’s always been good here.”
“I know... I guess that’s why it’s your favorite place, hunh?” Bankotsu smiled, and reaching across the table, he put his hand on top of Jakotsu’s.
“Yeah...” Jakotsu also smiled.
“You feel like dessert?”
“Of course. You know how much I love their chocolate cake.”
“Sweetness, you love everyone’s chocolate cake.”
“If you’ll excuse me, I need to go tinkle,” Jakotsu whispered. “I’ll be back in a few. If they come for the dessert order, get me a slice of cake and a cup of cocoa. I’ve been craving the stuff for days now.”
“You’re not pregnant, are you?” Bankotsu teased.
Jakotsu laughed. “I think I’m a little too old for that at forty.”
“Plenty of women have children that late in life.”
“True...” The cross-dresser tapped his finger on his lower lip. “But last time I looked I was missing the necessary equipment.”
“That’s okay; I still love you.”
“You sure? I mean if you want a real woman to give you that family you want, I’ll understand...” Jakotsu trailed off softly as his eyes welled up with tears.
“Sweetness... Whatever gave you that idea?” Bankotsu frowned in confusion.
The cross-dresser stood up to leave. “Look, I need to go, Ban. I’ll be back, I promise.” He turned and hurried off towards the Ladies’ room.
Damn it...Bankotsu sighed and watched him go.
“Everything okay, sir?” the waiter asked.
Bankotsu looked up at him blankly as he had never heard the waiter approach. “Yes...” Before the waiter could go, he added, “The lady and I would like a slice of your chocolate cake and a cup of cocoa, thanks.”
Twenty minutes later, Jakotsu emerged from the bathroom and sat down as if he had only been gone a few minutes. It was clear he had been crying, but Bankotsu chose to ignore it, especially since he seemed happy to have the chocolate cake. Things were going good until the cross-dresser noticed the little blue box to the right of his plate.
“Someone go to Tiffany’s without me...?” Jakotsu said testily.
Bankotsu sighed. “Yes.”
Jakotsu frowned. “Yes? Why?”
“It was a surprise. Now open it.” Bankotsu took a bite of his cake and ate it.
Jakotsu picked up the little blue box and carefully untied the white ribbon around it. Setting the ribbon down, he opened the blue box and slid the inner jewelry box out. “A ring box...?” he said softly, half to himself and half to Bankotsu.
“Yup. Open it.”
Jakotsu nodded and did as he was told. “Oh my word...” he said in the same soft tones he used before. “It’s beautiful...” He looked up at Bankotsu, teary-eyed.
“You like it?”
“Like it...? I love it!” The cross-dresser slid the ring with the heart-shaped diamond on. “And it fits perfectly too!”
Bankotsu smiled. “So will you stay with me forever? I’d ask you to marry me, but since that’s not possible-”
“Shut up and kiss me...” Jakotsu said, playfully using one of his lover’s favorite lines.
“Not until you tell me your answer...” Bankotsu leaned across the table, meeting his lover half way.
“Yes...” Jakotsu whispered as he captured Bankotsu’s lips with his own.
Jakotsu stood in the kitchen and dialed home. Tapping his fingernails on the counter, he waited patiently for one of his parents to answer.
“Haha-ue! It’s me, Jak...”
“Hello, Jackson... How are you?”
“I’m fine and you?”
“I’m fine too. And how is your friend, Kusao-san?”
“He’s fine, Haha-ue. How’s Chichi-ue?”
“Good... Is there anything wrong? You don’t normally call so early.”
“Yeah, things are fine, Haha-ue! In fact they couldn’t be better! Ban asked me to be his life-partner! Haha-ue, I got a ring too! He said I should ask you about your wedding kimono.” Jakotsu held up his hand and looked at his ring. “Although I think he was just teasing me.”
“That’s wonderful, Jackson. Your father and I always knew he was a good man. I’m glad you will happy with him.”
“You didn’t say anything when I mentioned your wedding kimono...”
Jakotsu could feel his mother smiling on the other end of the phone. “Because Kusao-san came and asked us for permission to formalize things, or whatever it is called. He seemed to think you’d want to wear it.”
“Yes... He took us for a nice lunch the other day and that’s when he told us.”
“Oh... So you don’t mind?”
“Jackson honey, I don’t have a daughter, but the gods in their infinite wisdom have blessed me with a son who is as much a daughter as any woman could want. So I would be pleased if you wore it. Do you know when you’ll need it?”
“No... we haven’t set a date yet. I just want something small with just the family and a few close friends. Well the family treats me like I belong...”
“I understand, my son.”
“Yes... At least with a small wedding, it’ll be easier for you to afford it, no?”
Jakotsu laughed. “Haha-ue, I can afford the most lavish of weddings and still have money left to have a wonderful honeymoon and a house to live in.”
“Just save your money for a time when you may need it.”
“I will, Haha-ue...”
“Is that all, Jackson?”
“Yeah... Love you, Haha-ue...”
“I love you too, my son.”
“What about this one?” Jakotsu pointed to a simple platinum band.
“It’s nice, Sweetness. Can we please see this one, Oneesan?” Bankotsu asked the salesgirl.
“Of course.” She took the ring out and placed it on a velvet pad to show them.
Jakotsu picked it up and slipped it on the tip of his ring finger. “What do you think?”
“I like it.”
“Then let’s get it.”
“Oneesan, is it possible to get them inscribed?” the cross-dresser asked.
“Yes. Please give me a minute to get the paperwork.”
While they waited, Jakotsu held onto Bankotsu’s arm. “I can’t believe this is happening,” he gushed.
The cross-dresser sighed. “I’ve got a million and one things to do now.”
“At least one thing is done, no?” Bankotsu said with an amused smile.
“Yeah.” Jakotsu giggled.
“What would you want them to say?”
“On the one it should say, ‘serious about my Sweetness’ and on the other ‘Dumpling is my serious.’”
The salesgirl wrote it down and had them double check the spelling. After Bankotsu paid her, they left.
They made their way leisurely to the train station, window shopping along the way. Once inside the station, Bankotsu bought them a can of coffee from a vending machine. “You happy about all this?” he asked.
“Yeah...” Jakotsu smiled. “Deliriously happy...” He sighed. “I keep thinking I’m dreaming.”
“And you don’t want wake up?”
“Nope!” The cross-dresser giggled, before growing more serious. “Ban, you know the press is going to have a field day with this.”
“So?! You don’t think two high profile men getting married, because no matter what we’re calling it, that’s basically what it is and you know it, isn’t news worthy to the point of creating a media circus?”
“Sweetness, we’ve been living together for ten years now and it hasn’t hurt either one of our careers. In fact I think you’re even more popular now with the ladies than you were before when you were pretending to be straight with no time for a relationship. And getting married is like the icing on the cake for them. Women love this wedding crap,” Bankotsu said, and when he noticed the upset look in his lover’s eyes, he quickly added, “and I mean that in general sense. Weddings on soap operas always garner the most ratings, and even when one of my pop stars gets married, their record sales go up.”
“But men aren’t supposed to marry each other.”
“But nothing. Even though we can’t legally have that paper saying we’re married, not to mention putting it in the public record, we can still have a monk bless what we have.” Bankotsu held up his hand. “Monks bless all sorts of contracts, Sweetness, and marriage is basically a contract between two people so stop worrying about it, okay?”
“Now drink your coffee, Sweetness, before it gets cold.”
Jakotsu nodded and they both took a sip as they sat in companionable silence.
Smiling impishly, Jakotsu reached over and took his lover’s hand. “Serious...”
Bankotsu, grinning in reply, brought their entwined hands up and kissed his lover’s fingers. “Serious...”
Author’s end note: Next up is “T” is for Time.