After a bit of fun in the bath, Bankotsu wonders what ever possessed him to keep the pretty little thing he found there? (my take on on how Bankotsu met Jakotsu) REWRITE OF AN OLD FIC
Author’s note: This is a rewrite of an old fic that was written for a contest. (I came in second, losing out to a drawing. Not bad, as I was the only story. ;p) I decided to rewrite it because I realized I had to leave certain things out because I had to keep it PG.
FYI: Yuya means “public bathhouse.”
Special thanks once again to Jen, for being the best beta ever! (Glomps you)
Bankotsu strolled through the sleepy little town, the Banryuu slung jauntily over his shoulder, looking for the local bathhouse. He was hot, tired, and grimy from the exertions of the day and the thought of soaking his tired muscles was a delicious one. If they have beautiful bathhouse girls, all the better, he thought.
It did not take him long to find what he was looking for. Bankotsu quickly crossed over the little wooden bridge that spanned the canal that ran paralleled to the main road. A short path led to the main building of bathhouse.
After stepping inside the dim interior, he strode up to the front counter and gave the old proprietor a few coins in exchange for a wooden counter which had a number on one side. The owner explained he was to go outside and head towards the bathhouse. All the rooms were marked with numbers and he was to go to the room with same number as his counter. Listening to the old man drone on, Bankotsu examined his counter. He saw he was given room number two and when he turned it over, he saw there was a picture of a snake lying in the grass painted on the back. How odd... he thought, and grinning, he wondered if the girl in room two was a supple as a snake. If she is, then this ought to be really fun. Before he was able to leave for his long awaited bath, the old man made him leave his halberd behind with the promise to guard with his life. Chuckling softly to himself, Bankotsu shrugged and left it in the old man’s care. Walking out the back entrance, he made his way quickly to the bathhouse proper.
Pausing just outside room number two, Bankotsu took a deep breath, before sliding open the door. He stepped inside the dimly lit room and slid the door closed behind him. As his eyes adjusted to the dim light, he saw there was a large soaking tub in the center of the room, a bench off to the side where he could place his things as well as a peg stuck in the wall next to it so that he could hang up his kimono. Gazing around the room, his eyes came to rest on the only other figure in the room. She had her back to him as she bent down to pick up a bucket from the floor, and she was wearing a short yukata that nicely showed off the lower half of her thighs down to the delicate curves of her calves, ending with pair of shapely ankles. As his eyes traveled up her spare form, Bankotsu noticed her firm behind. His gaze moved up the length of her spine as she straightened up, before coming to rest on the nape of her neck. When she turned her head to look over her shoulder at him, Bankotsu was stuck by the beauty of her profile. He never noticed her turning fully towards him as all of his attention was focused on her scarlet pout. She paused for a heartbeat before she bowed. “Hello,” she softly in a husky alto, “I’m called ‘Cho-chan.’ Can I help you?”
The girl seemed to glide towards him as Bankotsu tried to recover his senses. “Hi,” he said as he gave her a quick half bow. The girl smiled sweetly at him as she came closer and before he knew it, she was deftly untying the laces that held his armor together. “Uh, I can do that myself,” he said, his hands moving of their volition to cover hers. The young warrior was momentarily caught off guard by the size of them. Puzzled, Bankotsu drew them closer to him but the girl stepped back, a frightened look on her face. “I promise won’t hurt you.” Bankotsu looked at her hand and marveled at how long her thin boney fingers were as she tried to pull it away. “Don’t tell me you’re a maiden and this is your first time?” He grinned at her. “What happened? Your parents run into a bit of debt?”
“No,” she said softly as he pulled her into his embrace. My stupid mother left me behind as payment, but then you don’t need to know that. Anyway... you’re really cute, if a bit stinky. A tight little smile tugged her lips up into a brief smile as she melted into his arms.
Bankotsu gently nuzzling her neck, whispered, “You sure could have fooled me...” He brushed his lips tenderly across the racing pulse in her neck. Damn, you’re beautiful! And you smell so good too. Like jasmine... He trailed an arm across her shoulders as he moved around to face her. Cupping her cheek, Bankotsu tried to kiss her.
“Please,” she cried softly. “I’m not what you think I am...” She had somehow wormed her hands between them and she pushed Bankotsu away none too gently.
Stumbling backward as he tried to catch himself from falling, Bankotsu grinned at her. “You like to play hard to get, hunh? Fine, I’ll play your little games.” He advanced towards her as she retreated against the wall.
She stood there, her eyes welling up with unshed tears. “Forgive me, kind sir, I’m...I’m not a girl, I’m...” Her words stopped Bankotsu in his tracks.
“Damn it! I should have known...” He shook his head and laughed. “That old fart! He sent me to you on purpose! He knows you’re a boy, no?”
“Yeah...” The feminine-looking boy tittered nervously. Please don’t go! I know I’m not what you expected, but I still think we can have some fun.
Bankotsu’s shoulders shook as he laughed at the situation. When he finally caught his breath he asked, “Do you get many male customers or am I the first?”
The “girl” blushed deeply and now that he truly saw her for what she was, Bankotsu thought he looked even more beautiful than before. “I’ve had my share, but they were always older men who knew what I was. I’m sorry, I thought you knew and when it became apparent you didn’t-” the rest of his words were swallowed up as Bankotsu closed the distance between them and kissed him. His eyes went wide in surprise. Ooh... maybe you are going to stay. Not many boys would, you know.
Breaking the kiss, Bankotsu said, “What’s your name?” he quirked an eyebrow at him. “Or am I going to have to call you ‘Kawaii-chan?’” he teased.
“It’s Jakotsu, but I love butterflies so I decided to call myself, ‘Cho-chan,’” the boy said with a smile.
“Aah... So that’s why there’s a picture of a snake in the grass,” Bankotsu quipped as he winked at him. Oh hell! I can’t believe I’m flirting with him like that... and yet, he seems to be really enjoying it. I guess everyone treats him like he’s beneath them or something...
Jakotsu blushed prettily at the innuendo. “Yeah.” He giggled. “You’re not upset are you?”
The young warrior shrugged. “Nah...you’re pretty and in the dim light, I have to admit I was fooled. I don’t know why... but I really don’t mind at all...” Maybe it’s because you’re so pretty... or maybe it’s because I’m dying to know what you’re going to do to make me forget you’re a boy... “But if you feel you need to make it up to me...” Bankotsu grinned. And in this light, I can see you’re not much older than I am... I wonder how long you’ve been doing this and why?
Ignoring his last comment, Jakotsu said shyly, “Well, I believe I still owe you that bath...” Just what am I supposed to do with you? Treat you the same as any of the girls here, or have a bit of special fun with you, since you don’t seem to mind... He sighed softly as a slight frown creased his forehead.
“Yup... Wait! I know!” Bankotsu snapped his fingers. “You can join me. The tub certainly looks big enough for two and don’t tell me you don’t do that sort of thing with your customers.” The younger boy waved his finger at him. “You were all ready and willing before, so what’s the matter, I’m not old enough for you?” He folded his arms neatly across his chest and tried his best to look sternly at the older boy.
It was all Jakotsu could do not to laugh. “Umm... well, ummm...fine. But you have to let me do all the work.” Jakotsu smiled sweetly.
Grinning wickedly, Bankotsu said, “Alright! Now where were we?”
“I was about to help you get ready for your bath,” the older boy said, stating the obvious.
“So, what are you waiting for?” Bankotsu said imperiously and Jakotsu hurried forward to help him undress. As he helped remove each piece of Bankotsu’s clothing, Jakotsu took the time to fold it neatly, before setting it on the bench. Walking over to the discarded bucket, the feminine-looking boy filled with water from the tub, before setting it down at Bankotsu’s feet while the younger boy undid his long braid.
“Please wait here,” Jakotsu said before quickly leaving the room. He was back minutes later with a small stool for Bankotsu to sit on. “Have a seat,” the older boy said as he set it down and Bankotsu complied. Picking up the bucket, Jakotsu poured the water over Bankotsu’s head. He set the bucket down before gently washing the young mercenary’s hair. Having finished, Jakotsu got up to get another bucket of water to pour over Bankotsu’s head. “Feel better?” the older boy murmured.
“Yeah... I feel cleaner, which is nice.”
“Now that you’re hair is clean, it’s time to wash some of the grime off of you.” Jakotsu reached over to grab a small bag of rice bran that was mixed with some herbs to give it a pleasant scent.
“I can do that myself,” Bankotsu said, suddenly feeling uncomfortable with the idea of another boy touching him.
Jakotsu gave him a funny look. “It’s okay; it’s my job.”
“Uh...” Bankotsu tried hard not to blush and failed miserably.
“Just close your eyes and pretend I’m the girl of your dreams,” the older boy said saucily. Without waiting to see whether or not Bankotsu closed his eyes, Jakotsu started rubbing the bag all over Bankotsu as he bathed him.
The younger boy was surprised to find the other’s movements easing the soreness out of his body, as well as cleansing the stench of death that Bankotsu imagined hung over him. While he enjoyed his work as a sword for hire, it was lonely and the close contact felt good. Closing his eyes, he took Jakotsu’s advice and imagined a beautiful bathhouse girl was taking care of him. He could see the slim outlines of her body in his mind’s eye but when his dream girl looked up at him it was Jakotsu’s face he saw. Opening his eyes in surprise, Bankotsu got the shock of his life when the dream became reality.
Jakotsu was kneeling at his feet, washing his thighs. He too looked up at Bankotsu, although he wore a puzzled frown on his face. “I’m sorry,” Jakotsu said softly. “Did I hurt you?” he asked, his hand resting lightly on a half healed scar on the younger boy’s thigh.
“No, I was just thinking about something...” Bankotsu said distractedly as he tried to sort out his feelings. He found his attraction to the boy at his feet puzzling as he had always loved girls and never once gave any of his male friends a second thought. And yet, this boy who knelt at his feet, pretending to be a woman, had captured his fancy in way no girl before him had ever had.
Bankotsu watched as Jakotsu worried his lower lip, his stark white teeth contrasting sharply with the deep crimson he had painted them. The thick fringe of his lashes, resting against his cheeks, when he closed his eyes made Bankotsu think of smoky black butterflies. The delicate curve of his cheek, as Jakotsu turned away to pick up the bag of rice bran he dropped, reminded the younger boy of a crescent moon, hanging in a rain washed sky. Heart racing, Bankotsu leaned forward and gently took Jakotsu’s face in his hands. Tilting it upwards, and closing the distance between them, the young mercenary kissed him softly, almost chastely, before he kissed him again, this time a bit more roughly when he deepened it.
Jakotsu responded by snaking his hands around Bankotsu’s waist, and pushing his way between the younger boy’s legs in an effort to get closer to him. Breaking the kiss, Bankotsu shyly parted his legs, letting the older boy move closer to him. He cautiously placed his arms around the older boy, pulling him close.
Resting his head against Bankotsu’s chest, Jakotsu listened to the beating of his heart. For the first time since he was abandoned here, he felt happy and secure until he realized that his would-be lover would be gone when his allotted time was up. Easing himself out of younger boy’s warm embrace was hard to do, as he longed to stay there forever, but somehow he managed it, and shaking his head sadly, he finished washing his client. Jakotsu stood up and reached for the empty bucket. Grabbing it, he playfully swayed his hips as he walked to the large soaking tub. Bending over, Jakotsu smiled as he heard the sharp intake of Bankotsu’s breath when the young mercenary caught sight of his kimono riding up over the back of his thighs. He straightened up slowly and spun neatly on his heel, before sashaying back. Smiling impishly, he poured the final bucket of water over Bankotsu, before helping him into the large soaking tub.
The young mercenary let the hot water finish soothing the ache in his tired muscles. He sighed softly, his mind whirling with conflicting thoughts over what had happened. Try as he might, there was no denying the tension in loins that permeated throughout his body. He wanted Jakotsu and badly but he figured it was just his curiosity about being with a boy combined with a definite lack of female companionship. But what had really surprised him, was the fact that Jakotsu seemed to want him as well. Bankotsu knew the boy had had male lovers before him, but those men were simple dalliances in the line of duty. Or maybe he doesn’t often get someone his own age as a client... he thought disappointedly, his fifteen year old vanity crushed by the thought that maybe the older boy was stringing him along. Still, he clung to the hope that he was wrong and that Jakotsu genuinely liked him. That thought led to several others that were equally as pleasant while he soaked.
“Ummm... Why don’t you join me?” Bankotsu said lazily and only when he heard Jakotsu’s soft “okay” did he realize he had spoken out loud. He let his eyes wander over the older boy’s spare form as he quickly divested himself of his yukata. Bankotsu could see how his nearly hairless body could give the illusion of girl even when naked unless one let their eyes wander downwards towards to the soft tangle of curls above his thighs.
The older boy chuckled softly when he caught his client staring, pulling Bankotsu from his reverie. Maybe he does like boys... Noting the blush that spilled across the other boy’s cheeks with smug satisfaction, Jakotsu winked at him, before sitting down to wash himself. Yup! I think he does! he thought smugly. This is going to be fun!
Bankotsu quickly averted his eyes. He thought Jakotsu was the prettiest thing he had ever seen, male or female. Even his older sister, Fumiko, who everyone said was a beautiful woman, paled in comparison and the young mercenary did not think he would be surprised at all to find the older boy had a lot of return clients vying for his attention. That thought left him feeling strangely jealous, so he let his mind go blank while he watched the older boy bathe.
Watching Jakotsu drag the little bag of rice bran up and down his outstretched arm, Bankotsu was horrified when he felt a familiar stirring in his lap. I can’t be attracted to him; he’s a boy! But he’s so pretty and girly... and why is he rubbing himself there like that? Doesn’t he know I’m watching? What hell?! Why am I watching him?! Maybe I got hit in the head during that last battle...? I don’t remember it happening... but that’s got to explain it, right? Bankotsu quickly looked away.
Just then, a loud splashing sound pulled Bankotsu away from his troublesome thoughts. Jakotsu had picked up the water bucket and poured it over himself, the water hitting the bathhouse floor with a loud splat. He gave the younger boy a flirtatious smile, before getting up and sauntering over to him.
When Jakotsu sat on the edge of the tub, Bankotsu reached up and pulled him in and they both laughed at the resulting splash. The younger boy had him sit next to him while they soaked, although Jakotsu was sorely tempted to try and sit on his lap. Instead, he leaned over and kissed the young mercenary on the cheek. When Bankotsu turned his head to face him, Jakotsu leaned in and kissed him again. However, this time the younger boy surprised him by snaking his arms around him, and deepening the kiss.
“Ummm... You want to sit on my lap?” Bankotsu asked shyly after breaking the kiss.
Jakotsu’s look of surprise quickly turned into a smile. “Okay.” He giggled as he eagerly complied. Leaning against the younger boy, he sighed softly, and taking Bankotsu’s hand, he placed it on his chest. “Go ahead...” he murmured huskily.
“Play with it...” Jakotsu, his hand still over the younger boy’s, gave it a gentle squeeze.
Bankotsu blushed, yet he hesitantly complied.
“That’s it...” the older boy whispered. He gently nuzzled the younger’s cheek, his breath blowing hot and cold against Bankotsu’s skin, before kissing him. “Let’s get out of the tub and have some fun...”
“Fun?” Bankotsu said breathlessly between kisses.
“Yeah... I want to feel you inside me.”
“You what? But how? You’re not hiding a-?” he squeaked when the older boy took his hand and wrapped it around his erection.
Jakotsu chuckled. “You’re really cute, you know,” he said, making the younger boy blush. “I’m nearly ready, and it wouldn’t do to dirty the water...”
Without another word, Jakotsu got up and climbed out of the bath. He leaned over and helped the younger boy out. Smiling impishly, he said, “Do you want watch me or finish the job yourself?”
“Finish the job myself...?” Bankotsu stupidly repeated.
Jakotsu, taking that as a “yes,” lay back on the bathhouse floor and spread his legs. Taking his swollen member in his hand, he held it upright in invitation. “Whenever you’re ready...” he murmured, closing his eyes.
“Uh... yeah...” The younger boy timidly moved into place. Oh hell! I don’t want to do this... But he’s so pretty and so much nicer than that stupid lieutenant, who offered to pay me for the same thing... What do I do?
As if hearing his thoughts, Jakotsu said languorously, “Just take it into your mouth and... suck...” Sensing the younger boy’s hesitation, he added, “I promise it won’t bite you.” You on the other hand, I hope won’t bite me... He moaned softly when Bankotsu complied. “That’s it... up and down; just watch your teeth...Oh....” The more sure of himself Bankotsu became, the more Jakotsu relaxed and enjoyed himself. It was not long before he climaxed catching the other boy by surprise.
The hot bitter salty taste made Bankotsu gag and he pulled away sharply, dragging his teeth against the delicate skin of Jakotsu’s member.
“OW! Careful! You bit me!” he complained, and opening his eyes and hiking himself up on his elbows, Jakotsu saw the younger boy wildly looking around for a place to spit. “Just swallow it...” he said peevishly.
Bankotsu quickly complied. “That was...”
The older boy held up a hand. “Good... except when you bit me,” he said wryly. “Now it’s your turn. I can suck you off, or better yet, let you inside me.” Jakotsu licked his lips seductively.
“Yeah...” The younger boy felt his cheeks heating up.
“You’re very cute when you blush.”
“Uh, thank you...” Bankotsu mumbled as his cheeks heated up even more.
“You’re welcome, but I really should be thanking you. I really enjoyed it.” Yeah, you really weren’t too bad for your first time and I don’t care how much you say otherwise, I know you never did that before, because how many girls have one? “Come’re and kiss me...” Jakotsu said, lying back on the floor.
His young client shyly complied, blanketing the older boy, and as they kissed, Jakotsu’s hands wandered down the length of his back. He could feel the younger boy’s tension melting away as he relaxed and gave into the pleasurable sensations that radiated out from deep within his belly. Jakotsu playfully caressed the clef of his bottom, making him squirm and press himself deliciously against the older boy. When his panting became deep throaty moans, Jakotsu whispered, “I want you in me...”
Bankotsu loved the faint scent of perfume that clung to Jakotsu despite his hasty bath. Inhaling deeply, the young mercenary desperately wanted to bury his nose in the soft flesh between Jakotsu’s neck and shoulder. The older boy smelled like jasmine and he was soft and pale from a lifetime spent indoors, so it was easy to forget he was not a girl. His lips on the younger boy’s were just as soft and the kisses just as sweet, so Bankotsu forgot about wanting to be with a real girl as his lust clouded his brain. He simply reacted to Jakotsu’s gentle touch, and let the older boy guide him towards his tight entrance. A few missed tries later, he managed to poke inside, but it was just too much for him and Bankotsu quickly climaxed from the pleasurable overload.
He lay there, panting softly as Jakotsu held him tight, whispering little words of love into the top of Bankotsu’s head. When he slowly came back to himself, Bankotsu rolled off him and sat up.
“Are you alright?”
“Yeah... That was...” Incredible! Wow... If it was this good with you, imagine how great it’s going to be with a girl...Bankotsu smiled.
“Good...?” Jakotsu finished for him.
“Thanks...” The older boy sat up.
They sat there as the silence stretched between them. When he got up to clean himself off, Bankotsu stared openly at the beautiful boy. “You should clean off too,” he said, breaking the silence. “Or I could do it for you, if you want?”
Jakotsu grabbed the bucket and filled it with warm water from the bath. Bringing it over to Bankotsu, he took a small cotton cloth, and carefully wiped the remains of their love-play off of him, before cleaning himself up. He smiled impishly when the younger boy grew hard at his touch. “Wanting more, hunh?”
“Maybe next time,” he said sadly.
Giggling softly in an attempt to recapture the mood, Jakotsu casually reached up for the hair pin that held his hair in a bun. Giving it a gentle tug, he released it from its resting place and his hair fell in gentle cascade about his shoulders. With his hair down, Jakotsu looked even more like a girl, especially when he pouted slightly. “Something wrong?” he asked as he looked at Bankotsu. Jakotsu had a worried expression on his face and the younger boy felt badly about staring so openly at him.
“Iie, it’s just that, ummm...you’re ummm, very beautiful....” Bankotsu trailed off softly.
“Yeah...?” Jakotsu blinked in surprise as his eyes welled up with tears.
“At first I thought it was a shame you weren’t really a woman, but now I think if you were, you wouldn’t be half as pretty.” The young mercenary flashed his best smiled at him, and taking Jakotsu’s face in his hands, he gently wiped away the tears that spilled down the older boy’s cheeks. “Don’t cry... I meant it as a good thing,” Bankotsu hastily assured him. Not knowing what else to do, he pulled the older boy onto his lap.
“I’m sorry; I can’t help it, no one’s ever said I was pretty before...” Jakotsu turned and cried softly on Bankotsu’s shoulder. “Most of my clients just use me as a way to satisfy their lust and then I’m tossed aside when they’re done. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a few coins of my own and if I’m really lucky, I’ll get a repeat customer.” Jakotsu picked his head up and looked the young mercenary in the eye. “If not, I get beaten for my troubles...” he said softly. Oh hell! Why am I telling him my troubles? I’m supposed to be listening to his! And yet, there’s something about him, something that tells me it’s okay to burden him like this...He turned away and wiped his eyes. “Forgive me...”
“Shit! And the old man does nothing?” Bankotsu said as he shook his head in disbelief. How could anyone want to hurt him? Or be disappointed in him? He’s beautiful, he’s sweet and charming, and he makes me feel like a man...
“Yeah...” Jakotsu sighed. “He’s the one giving me the beating. It’s not he treats the other girls any better. You disappoint a client, you get a beating. It’s how it is around here.” A slight frown creased the skin of his brow. Don’t you know anything?
Without giving much thought to the consequences, Bankotsu replied, “Unbelievable... Alright! Then you’re coming with me!” Jakotsu’s look of surprise at his words was mirrored on his own face. What the hell am I thinking? I can’t take him with me. Or can I?
“Really?!” Jakotsu’s look of surprise quickly melted into a smile. “Thank you so much!” He threw his arms around Bankotsu, hugging him tightly.
“Yeah... Besides, I could use the company. Are you any good with a sword? And I don’t mean that one,” Bankotsu teased as he threw caution to the wind and ran his finger down Jakotsu’s chest and stomach before resting it in his lap.
Jakotsu giggled happily. “No, sadly that’s the only swordplay I’m good at, but you can teach me, no?” he said saucily, before covering his savior’s face with little butterfly kisses. I can’t believe I’m getting taken away from here by a client too, just like you, Haha-ue...
Pushing him away, Bankotsu said with a confidence he did not feel, “No matter; I’ll teach you.” What the hell am I thinking? It’ll be years before you’re any good and don’t get us maimed or worse. “Now let’s get dressed and get the hell out of here,” he said huskily, “before I decide to give you a lesson in swordplay.” And now I’m flirting with him? Why don’t I just ask him to marry me too while at it. Oh crap! What the hell did I just get myself into? The young mercenary mentally smacked himself in the forehead as he plastered a smile on his face.
Jakotsu slid off his new patron’s lap and stood up. He practically flew over to the bench where Bankotsu had left his things, and grabbed a small cotton square to use as a towel. Hurrying back, he gently, yet briskly, rubbed the water off Bankotsu’s body as he dried him off; polishing his skin so that it enhanced the rosy glow he got from the bath and the bit of fun they had afterwards. Wringing it out, Jakotsu used it on himself while Bankotsu sat and watched as he got dressed. Finishing first, the younger boy reached over and picked up Jakotsu’s yukata, gallantly helping him into it. Picking up his armor, Jakotsu helped the younger boy into it, his deft fingers tying the laces that held it together along the sides. Grabbing Bankotsu’s obi, he wrapped it around his waist, tying a huge bow in the front. “There...” Jakotsu said as he smoothed the folds of Bankotsu’s kimono with his hands, before helping him with his arm guards. “You look even better now that I know what you look like underneath...” he said saucily.
Before Bankotsu could reply, there was a knock on the door and a sharp male voice called out, “Hurry up!” They heard him laugh along with a woman, who told him “to leave Cho-chan alone; she’s busy.”
“Yeah, yeah! I’m almost done!” Bankotsu called out to the retreating footsteps. Pulling Jakotsu close, he let his hands wander down the boy’s back which made the older boy giggle, especially when he grabbed his bottom. “Say goodbye, Cho-chan,” Bankotsu said releasing the older boy from his embrace and stepping away. When Jakotsu frowned, he quickly added, “Don’t worry; I said you were coming with me and I mean it.”
“Really?!” Jakotsu clapped his hands together in front of chest and Bankotsu chuckled at how feminine he looked. He picked up a small leather pouch that jingled as he hefted it, tucking it into the folds of kimono.
“Yeah! Now let’s go, unless you’d rather stay...” the young mercenary teased.
“No! I mean ‘yes!’” Jakotsu said. “Come on; what are you waiting for?” Grabbing his new found friend’s hand, he pulled him towards the door, pausing just long enough to open it, before dragging him through. Jakotsu chatted on excitedly about nothing in particular until Bankotsu abruptly stopped. “What’s the matter?”
“Nothing; you just talk too much.” The younger boy laughed. Wow, you’re even more like a girl than I thought!
“Please forgive me, kind sir,” Jakotsu said contritely.
“And you can stop with all that ‘kind sir’ shit too. If you had taken the time to ask me, Cho-chan,” Bankotsu wagged his finger at Jakotsu, “like I asked you, what my name is, I would have told you,” he said playfully.
Jakotsu laughed and grabbed his finger, kissing it. “What’s your name?” he asked sweetly, smiling flirtatiously at the young mercenary.
“Bankotsu...” Jakotsu repeated softly. “I like it, especially since it sounds a bit like my real name, Jakotsu.”
Bankotsu looked at him quizzically. “Bankotsu, Jakotsu...?” he said as he quirked an eyebrow at the boy.
“Yeah! We have the same ending; like brothers!” Jakotsu said happily as he clapped his hands together in front of his chest. “Ummm...can I call you, ‘Aniki-chan?’ Please?” He pouted prettily like a girl and Bankotsu shook his head at him as he tried not to laugh.
“Okay...now let’s go, Jakotsu,” Bankotsu said, and grabbing Jakotsu’s arm he led him to the bathhouse’s entryway.
“Ummm... where’re we going?”
“Away from here. I told you I was taking you with me, but ummm...”
“You’ve changed your mind,” Jakotsu said sadly, his eyes welling up with tears.
“Don’t cry! Ummm... wait! That’s it!! Cry! I want you to cry and carry on like I’m leaving you here, oaky?”
“Umm... okay...” the older boy said as he choked back his tears. “Why?” he asked as a puzzled frown settled over his features.
“Because I want them to think I don’t want you,” Bankotsu replied as he tried to piece together the beginnings of a plan. “If I don’t and you turn up missing, then they won’t follow us. I know it’s a stupid plan, but it’s the only thing I could think of.”
“Oh... okay. I’ll do it.” Jakotsu suddenly grabbed the younger boy’s arm. “Please don’t go! Take me with you!” he wailed. “Like that, right?”
Bankotsu gave him a funny look, before playing along. “Yeah...” he said softly. “Get off me, you idiot! I don’t need some stupid fake girl coming with me!”
“No! Now let go!”
They argued back and forth all the way to the main building of the bathhouse. Occasionally, a girl or two would stick their heads out and call out to Bankotsu, asking him to take them instead, but most of them made disparaging remarks about Jakotsu. As they stepped inside the main building of the bathhouse, Bankotsu was finally able to pry the older boy’s fingers off his arm. The look he gave Jakotsu made him really think he was going to leave him behind and the older boy fell to his knees, crying.
Bankotsu strode up to the old man, who watched disinterestedly as the little drama played out and demanded his halberd back. With a grunt and as dismissive wave of his hand, the old man indicated he could come and get it. “Get up, Cho-chan, and go back to your room,” the old man said when Bankotsu made a show of leaving Jakotsu behind. “He doesn’t want you.” And if you don’t stop your crying, I’m going to give you a reason to cry when he’s gone.
“No! He promised he would take me with him!” Jakotsu wailed. “I can’t stay here any more! I won’t stay! You’ve gotta take me with you!” he cried. “Please!!”
The old man simply shook his head at him and Jakotsu felt a moment of fear that this was going to go horribly wrong.
Oh hell!! You’d better not be lying, Bankotsu-san! Because once you leave, he’s going to beat the shit out of me for making a fuss out here! “No!! Don’t go!” Jakotsu sobbed, throwing himself at Bankotsu’s retreating form.
The young mercenary looked down at the older boy, momentarily taken aback by how real his performance seemed. “Fine,” Bankotsu sighed. He disentangled the older boy’s arms from around his neck, and turning towards the old man, he walked over to him. “I want to take the 'girl' with me. Will this do?” he asked, reaching inside his kimono and pulling out a little leather pouch. Opening it, he shook a few coins into his hand and handed them to the old man.
“No, she’s one of my best girls and is like a beloved daughter to me,” the old man lied. He walked past Bankotsu to the hysterical Jakotsu, where he lovingly threw an arm around him.
“Well it’ll have to do, as I know she’s no girl, old man. Come, Jakotsu-san,” he said as he removed the old man’s arm from around the boy. “Let’s go.”
“I’m afraid not, boy,” the old man countered. “He owes me more than you’ll ever see in a lifetime.”
Bankotsu laughed. “And I’ve seen plenty so far, old man,” he said cockily. “So you’re going to have to be satisfied with that and like it. Now if he really was a girl...” Bankotsu shrugged. “I’d guess I’d have to pay what you’d want, but since he’s not...” he trailed off, grinning smugly.
The old man thought it over. He spoke briefly to his men, before turning back to Bankotsu. He smiled pleasantly at the young mercenary, although the smile never reached his eyes, and said, “Okay, boy, he’s yours.” He held out his hand while Bankotsu handed over the handful of coins he had been holding. “Just remember how kind I was to you, Jakotsu, when he tires of you and sells you to an eelhouse,” he said as he counted the coins.
Jakotsu’s eyes went wide as his gaze shifted from the old man to the young mercenary and back as he wondered if it was a good idea to leave after all.
“Don’t listen to him, Jakotsu-san,” Bankotsu said, and taking him by the arm, he propelled the older boy towards the door. “Oh, and, old man, I’d tell your thugs to stay behind if they know what’s good for them. I’ve killed before and for less of a reason,” he called out over his shoulder, jiggling his Banryuu on his shoulder for emphasis. Once outside, he left go of the older boy’s arm.
Jakotsu, happy to be free of the bathhouse, threw his arms around him and hungrily kissed Bankotsu. “Thank you so much, Aniki-chan!” he whispered. “How can I ever repay you?”
Bankotsu pretended to think it over. “Ummm... I don’t know, right now. Just shut up and hurry,” he said as they quickly made their way from the bathhouse towards the little bridge and “freedom.” Crossing over it, they soon entered the street, where Jakotsu paused. He had never been this far away from the bathhouse, and it frightened him. Taking courage from his new found friend and savor, he hurried to catch up to him.
The two of them walked along, Bankotsu’s arm thrown protectively around the older boy, and when they were out of sight of the bathhouse house, he said, “Well, I’ve decided that you’re going to learn how to use a sword properly.” Chuckling at the delighted look on his new companion’s face, he added seriously “And I don’t mean that sword either...”
“Okay!” Jakotsu said with a smile and to the casual onlooker they looked very much like a young couple in love, especially when he stopped and wailed, “My pretty hairpin!! I’ve left it behind!”
“Don’t worry about it; I’ll get you another one. I promise,” Bankotsu said. They were in town, a place Jakotsu had never been before, so Bankotsu slowed their pace so that the older boy could look at the various stalls that were set up for the merchants to hawk their wares. While he worried they were being followed, the younger boy could not help getting caught up in his new friend’s excitement over the place. So he carefully kept an eye out for trouble while Jakotsu oohed and awed over everything he saw.
Stopping at one of the stalls selling hair accessories, Bankotsu asked, “What about this one?” He held up a pretty hair pin with a tiny butterfly painted on the wooden ball that decorated the end of it. At least this is the least gaudy of his wares; hopefully he’ll choose this one... The fact that the merchant had set up shop mere steps away from the local brothel amused him to no end, not to mention it was on the main road. There was an inn as well as a place to eat just down the road, indicating that the town was bigger than Bankotsu had thought. Turning back to Jakotsu, he watched him look at several other hairpins before noticing the one Bankotsu held in his hand.
“OOH!! It’s beautiful! Thank you, Aniki-chan!” Jakotsu said. He leaned over and kissed Bankotsu’s cheek. “I love it!! How’d you know I like butterflies?”
“Just a guess, Cho-chan,” Bankotsu said dryly as he pried Jakotsu’s arms away from his neck. “Let’s go,” he said as he paid the merchant while Jakotsu piled his hair up in a bun. After a few more stops and the older boy had a pretty kimono and obi to replace the shabby yukata he was wearing as well as a pretty shawl that caught his eye.
As they made their way out of the village Jakotsu caught sight of a girl showing her new geta to her friends. His mouth hung open as he watched her parade around her friends. But most of all he loved the distinctive slap they made as she walked when her foot and sandal alternately hit each other. “Aniki-chan, can I please get a pair of those? Please? I promise to practice really hard with my swordsmanship!”
“No...” Bankotsu rolled his eyes. “They’re not good to walk in over long distances. A pair of zori would be better for you.”
“No! And if you don’t listen, you can march yourself back to the bathhouse, understood?”
Jakotsu nodded disappointedly.
“Maybe one day if we settle down somewhere. And I’ll get you a hundred kimono as well, so you can have fun parading around in them too, okay?”
They walked around the market place before they finally found a sandal maker. Jakotsu tried on several pairs before he found one that he liked. As he paced back and forth Jakotsu longed to hear the brisk slap of his feet against the straw bottom as he walked, but the way the sandals were made, they fit close to his feet like a second skin. It may not have been as exciting to walk in as the geta, but Jakotsu soon realized they were better than his tender bare feet. I wonder how he manages to walk and fight like that... he thought as he looked down at the younger boy’s feet. “Don’t you want a pair too?”
“Nah... I’m used to walking around like this. Now let’s go.”
Jakotsu smiled prettily at Bankotsu and the young mercenary wondered exactly what he had had gotten himself into by taking the older boy as his companion. “We’re leaving now, and I don’t care what pretty things catch your eye, you’re not getting any more. Understand?” He looked at Jakotsu sternly and his expression softened when he contritely nodded. “Good. Now let’s go.” They started again on their way out of the village, Bankotsu leading the way while the older boy followed a few paces behind.
“Ummm... Where are we going?”
“Dunno; wherever they need a sword, I suppose.”
“Oh, I see,” Jakotsu said. “It sounds like fun. Is it?”
Bankotsu thought about. “It is and it isn’t. There’s a thrill you get when your blood’s racing in the heat of battle that’s exciting, but there’s also the aches and pains you get from your wounds. Then there’s the empty days of looking for work that’s filled with endless hours of practice...” He looked back at Jakotsu and winked. “Then there’s the long lonely nights that are eased by wenching.”
“Oh...” the older boy said, and it was clear form his tone that he was not interested in hearing about that.
Bankotsu laughed. “I forgot; you don’t like girls.” He elbowed the boy playfully in the ribs. “I suppose we could find an old man or two for you...”
“Yeah...but I’d rather be with you,” he trailed off softly.
“What are you so worried about? You’re with me, right? And?” Bankotsu arched an eyebrow at him.
I wonder if he thinks he’s supposed to do that... But he doesn’t have to; besides, I rather have a girl keeping me warm at night. And yet, he is pretty like one... Bankotsu stole a glance at his companion, only to discover Jakotsu had fallen behind. The young mercenary paused as he waited for him to catch up. “You keep stopping like that and I’m going to leave you here.”
“Sorry!” Jakotsu hurried over to him.
“Come, I’d like to be some ri away from here before nightfall.”
“Okay...” Jakotsu smiled. “So what are you waiting for?” he teased. Taking Bankotsu’s hand, he pulled him along playfully until he tripped and fell, dragging a startled Bankotsu down on top of him.
“Sorry, Jakotsu-san. Are you okay?” Bankotsu whispered in his ear.
“Yeah...” Jakotsu said breathlessly. “Although, I wish we could stay like this forever.”
“Yeah, me too, but we’d better get going. There’s plenty of time for that later.” I can’t believe I said that... He winced mentally. Plastering a smile on his face, Bankotsu eased himself off the older boy and helped him up, after turning down a few offers of help from some passersby. “We’re fine,” he said, brushing the dust off of Jakotsu’s kimono.
“You’re welcome. It was nothing...” he trailed off softly at the look on the older boy’s face. Damn it! Don’t cry. You’re turning out to be a bigger pain my ass than my sisters!
Jakotsu whispered, “No one’s ever been this kind to me before...” Eyes welling up with tears as he was deeply touched by the younger boy’s kindness, he tried hard to keep from crying.
Bankotsu sighed. “I don’t see why not. You’re not such a bad person...” he smiled at Jakotsu’s look of surprise. “It’s true and I wonder if you have it in you to be a good swordsman. I’d really like to have you by my side, but if you-”
“Please!” Jakotsu begged. “I’ll try my hardest to do whatever you want! Just don’t leave me here. I really want to go far away from here and never come back!” Looking up at the mercenary earnestly, he said, “I’ll practice every minute I get and I’ll do whatever you say and-”
Bankotsu reached out placed a finger Jakotsu’s lips, silencing him. “You talk too much, just like a stupid girl! I gave you my word I’d keep you around, and I always keep my word. Anyway, I can see you’re limping from all the walking, so let’s stop for a while over there under that tree.” He put an arm around the boy to help support him as they walked, “Here lean me and we’ll go slowly.”
“Okay...” Jakotsu said softly as he complied. “Thank-”
“Don’t mention it.”
The older boy nodded in reply.
“Just a few more steps and we’re there...” They walked slowly towards the shade of a large maple tree. When they finally made it there, Bankotsu sat first, pulling the older boy onto his lap. He sat there, holding him like he would a girl, and whispered sweet nothings in his ear that made Jakotsu laugh. For the first time in his life, Bankotsu felt as though he had found a soul mate in this strange boy who pretended to be a girl. He remembered being disappointed when he found out that he was not one, but now that he held him close, he realized this was a much better situation. He now had something, no someone to fight for and to have fight by his side and that made him feel oddly happy. I could easily get used to this... he thought as he listened to Jakotsu’s breathing. Cupping the older boy’s cheek, he gently turned his head to face him, before kissing him. Jakotsu deepened the kiss, shifting his weight to straddle Bankotsu’s hips.
“Oh no you don’t!” The young mercenary cried as he pulled away from him. “As cute as you are, we’re not going do that on the side of the road!”
Jakotsu sighed. “A pity...” He pouted prettily and for one brief moment, Bankotsu was sorely tempted to let him have his way.
“Yeah... Now go sit over there and while I take a nap and if you feel tired, wake me up, okay?”
The older boy nodded in reply.
Good; he’s learning to keep quite... Bankotsu nodded back in approval and they kissed again, before Jakotsu got up off his lap and sat across from him, singing softly to himself.
I think I’ve finally found what I’d always been looking for and it’s nice... Bankotsu thought as he closed his eyes and leaned back against the tree he was sitting under. What’s nice is he feels the same way too judging by the way he keeps thanking me... He sighed when song finished and the older boy started to thank him again for rescuing him.
“Thank you, Aniki-chan... I really appreciate what you did for me... I really, really do.”
“Uh hunh...” Bankotsu murmured softly. He let his thoughts drift back to the bathhouse and the strange boy who sat across from him, prattling on like a girl. I hope having company is going to be worth all this...he mused tiredly. Left alone with his thoughts, Jakotsu’s ramblings became a song that nearly lulled him to sleep. Cracking an eye open, he surreptitiously stole a look at his new companion. Yeah... I think it will be and then some...It’s not all that hard pretending he’s a girl, especially when he opens his mouth... He mentally groaned. Sweet Kami-sama, don’t you ever shut up? What the hell was I thinking?! You were thinking how nice it is to have someone in your life... Oh yeah... He smiled.
Jakotsu rambled on, watching the younger boy as he pretended to be asleep. He was the best thing that had ever happened to him in his miserable life, and he knew he would never tire of telling him that. The truth was he was scared because he had never gone farther than the yard around the bathhouse. He was also used to being at everyone’s beck and call, no matter the hour or if he was sick. As long as he was not laying there half-dead, he had a job to do and he did it. Now that he had a measure of freedom it frightened him and he was determined to stay by Bankotsu’s side. If that meant expressing his gratitude or keeping the younger boy happy and his lust satisfied, then he would. The last thing he wanted was for Bankotsu to leave him behind somewhere in favor of a girl.
What neither one realized at the time was that they simply piqued each other’s curiosity. Jakotsu, who never knew friendship and real love, was dying to know why Bankotsu chose him as a traveling companion, while Bankotsu wondered why the older boy was so eager to leave what looked like an easy life behind him. Plus he could not for the life of him figure out why he was so attracted to Jakotsu. His eyes closed, Bankotsu could see his naked form and he felt the familiar stirrings his loins. He shifted slightly; glad his armor covered his lap while Jakotsu droned on and on with his “thank yous.” And yet, he was happy he wandered into that town, covered in grime from traveling, and stopped to take a bath...