Author's Notes: And here's the end. A whole fourteen pages worth!
Wow…I hope it's all okay. I've stayed up all night writing it to get it done in time. Anyways, thanks for reading everyone!
Chapter 9: The Greatest Gift of All
Friday morning came without so much of a fuss.
Bankotsu had woken up at the usual time, showered and now sat on the couch waiting for a knock at the door.
He hated to admit he was waiting for Jakotsu, but deep down- he knew he was. It had become natural during the past week for his friend to come and visit. And now, as the incessant ticking of the clock droned on, Bankotsu began to worry.
"Should I call him? Maybe he just overslept…"
The reasons and worries kept piling up until the light tapping on the door stopped them.
Bankotsu practically jumped up and rushed to the door, but much to his disappointment- there was no one there.
Eyes darting to the floor, he spotted the small white envelope. Snatching it up, Bankotsu looked hopefully towards the other door. It was closed.
Uneasily, he opened the note and read it.
Bankotsu, today…I'm giving you the gift of space. I know that a lot of things have been happening, so I want to give you the chance to think it all over. I'll should be here at my apartment if you need to call, and you can leave a message if I'm not here.
As he skimmed it over, his eyes dwelled on one word.
"Love? I know he's attracted to be but…"
Making his way over to the couch, Bankotsu shakily sat down.
"Does he really feel that strongly for me?"
Re-reading the note, he found himself thankful for the time and space to think things over. With this latest development, he had a feeling he was going to need it.
"It's strange to me to even find myself liking him… but over this week…" Bankotsu thought back on all the days he'd spent with Jakotsu, each day moving them closer together, "It just seems…right."
Boring. The whole day had been so boring, that Jakotsu had actually found himself cleaning up the apartment out of pure boredom.
Each hour seemed to go by at an excruciatingly slow pace, only making his situation more irritating.
"This is worse than not being able to touch him!" He fumed inwardly as he flopped down on his bed.
It had been- he glanced at the clock- almost twenty hours and twenty seven minutes since he'd last seen Bankotsu.
"Mou… this is pathetic. I'm counting the minutes…" Jakotsu muttered to himself as he rolled onto his side.
Eyes catching sight of the eight-ball sitting atop his dresser, he picked it up.
"Okay, I know I can't call or talk to him, but is my day going to get any less boring?"
He shook it and waited for the answer to materialize.
"Good? How good?"
But before he could pose another question to the all-knowing ball, a light knock sounded on his door.
"Could it be…"
Hoping that the eight-ball was right, he rushed to the door. Opening it quickly, he took a step back on seeing who it was.
"Bankotsu…" Jakotsu paused to find the right thing to say, "So, did you…think things over?"
The younger man nodded, "Yah. I was wondering if…well, do you know any good clubs or places to go?"
"Outlook good, eh?" Jakotsu smirked, leaning against the doorframe casually and glaring at the mistletoe briefly in hopes it didn't interfere again.
"Are you- asking me on a date?"
Bankotsu's gaze dropped to the ground, "If you want it to be one… It's just after all you've done for me this week, I thought I should do something for you."
"Outlook is fucking awesome!" Jakotsu's thoughts exclaimed as he reached out and took Bankotsu's wrist.
"Okay, a date it is. But first you'll need a new outfit."
The black-haired man frowned, "What wrong with my current one?"
Jakotsu gestured to wait one second and rushed into his room to retrieve a familiar box. Returning with it, he held it out.
"I was hoping there'd be an occasion for you to wear it."
Pulling the paper off, Bankotsu opened it; his eyes recognizing the shirt as the teal one from the day before.
"It's that shirt…"
"Silk and cut just right for your figure," Jakotsu remarked, still attempting to contain his merriment.
"Thanks,"Bankotsu's confidence seemed to return with his smile; even though a light blush still threatened to creep through, "I should give you an early gift as well then…"
Jakotsu had a feeling it would be the purple shirt, and waited patiently while Bankotsu went back to his apartment to get it. While waiting, he tried to figure out how to give the appropriate surprised reaction.
Returning with two boxes, Bankotsu held them out.
"Two?" Jakotsu was confused, why would you need two boxes for one purple shirt?
Opening the first box, it was indeed the silk purple shirt that matched the teal one.
"Okay there's the one you saw already," Bankotsu seemed amused, almost mischievous as he handed over the other box.
"What did you find me? Did you go to Victoria Secrets and get me something naughty?"
Bankotsu laughed at that, shaking his head in the negative, "Nope, but I do think you'll like it."
Jakotsu quickly tore the paper off and pulled back the tissue paper. On what was inside, he just gaped.
"I thought you could wear it with your purple shirt…"
It was a simple black-tank top at first glance, but on closer inspection you could make out the faint silver stitching on it making up a snake-print pattern.
"It's gorgeous…" Jakotsu finally managed, forgoing the box and hugging the shorter man, "Thank you. You outdid yourself."
"I figured you deserved it after all you did this week."
"Well, I did cook…" He reasoned, the two laughing lightly before realizing that they were still in very close contact with one another.
Moving apart abruptly, the two casually coughed to regain composure.
"So…are we going?" Bankotsu questioned, still not certain as to which place Jakotsu had in mind.
Handing over the teal shirt, the taller man smirked, "Once we've gotten changed, we can go to a club I know that's tame enough for you to ease into things. Is that all right?"
"Uh…Jakotsu, what kind of club is this?"
Jakotsu narrowed his eyes, "What kind do you think is going to put up with us dancing together if we feel so inclined?"
Bankotsu paled, "A gay bar. Oh gods, how am I going to make it through this?"
"See- you survived. You're home safe and sound," Jakotsu proudly announced hours later as they returned to the apartments.
"I think every person in that bar would have danced with me had you given them the chance."
"They probably wanted to do more than just dance."
Bankotsu frowned, "Please don't remind me…"
"Aww, come on. It was fun, wasn't it?"
He looked up at the other man,Jakotsu's eyes seemed bright and his colored lips seemed to be constantly in a smile.
"Okay, it was fun. Just next time put a sign on me that says I'm taken or something…"
Jakotsu's smile became a devious grin, "I could arrange for that."
"Jakotsu! I'm joking!"
"I know, I know. Just teasing ya," He reached down and ruffled Bankotsu's hair, "We should do that again sometime."
There was a pause, then quietly, Bankotsu replied.
The awkward silence returned, and with it the reminders that everything had changed between them.
"This has been some Christmas, hasn't it?" Jakotsu said, trying to break the silence.
Bankotsu nodded, "Yah…yah it has."
"Well, I'd better get some sleep," He yawned, stretching his arms, "See ya tomorrow."
Jakotsu started to step away, then paused; quickly leaning down, he left a chaste kiss on Bankotsu's forehead before smirking and turning to go.
"Goodnight…" His sing-song voice echoed across the hallway.
Visibly flustered for what had to be the hundredth time that night, Bankotsu couldn't help but smile.
Going into his own apartment, Bankotsu yawned and headed for the bathroom. Wearily looking in his bathroom mirror, he sighed. Sure enough, there was the fresh imprint of Jakotsu's lipstick on his forehead. He started to reach for a washcloth to clean it off, then stopped himself.
"I'll worry about it in the morning," Bankotsu thought to himself, making his away into the bedroom.
He spotted the teddy bear vigilantly sitting on the nightstand and picked it up.
"This has been some Christmas indeed."
It was Christmas Eve, and everything in the apartment was bustling with life.
Every year it was the same, all seven of the guys would go down to the orphanage and help Suikotsu get everything ready for the children's Christmas morning.
As for Jakotsu, he found himself grateful for all the work that morning to keep him busy; his mind was still trying to formulate the best way to give the last of the gifts to Bankotsu.
"Honesty. He needs to know how I really feel. There's more than just 'like' here, and well… it's now or never. He has the right to know after all that's happened."
"Jakotsu! Watch out!" Suikotsu called out from across the room, Jakotsu just barely missing the falling garland as it feel onto the floor.
"Sorry, I wasn't paying attention…"
Getting back to his thoughts, Jakotsu slowly began to plan them out. He wasn't going to just rush into things and go off impulse again, after all the hard work he'd done messing it up now wasn't an option.
"Mou, Suikotsu- can I talk to you for a bit?"
The brown-haired man walked towards him and sat the box of decorations aside.
"What is it?"
Jakotsu motioned him into the nearby hallway and slumped against the wall.
"I wanna tell him."
Suikotsu's eyes widened, and he looked about to make sure Bankotsu was busy elsewhere.
"Yah," Jakotsu cut him off, not wanting the word spoken aloud, "So can you, help a bit?"
Making sure that the others were all handling their tasks, Suikotsu motioned Jakotsu to follow him down the hallway.
"We can talk in the side room over here. Wouldn't want anyone to overhear, right?"
Looking back over to where Bankotsu stood helping the others decorate the tree, Jakotsu stuck his hands in his pockets and followed.
"Well, here goes nothing…"
It took him the rest of the afternoon and until the early evening to get it composed. He'd written out several copies, most of which now littered the floor around his trashcan, and finally had gotten down what it was he planned to say.
Now Jakotsu faced the hardest task of all- actually saying it.
Finally mustering the courage to go across the hallway, he found himself staring at the door and trying to bring himself to knock.
"Come on. Come on. It's Christmas Eve! I'm not going to spent it alone."
He knocked… and waited.
"Jakotsu- hey…" Bankotsu paused on seeing his friend's serious expression, "Um, is something wrong?"
"I kinda need to tell you something."
"Okay…what?" He said, not fully comprehending the seriousness of what it was.
"Perhaps we should sit down."
Wordlessly the two walked into the apartment and sat side by side on the couch. Jakotsu turned to look at the other man then bowed his head when he realized that he couldn't keep eye contact.
"I'm sure you're wondering why I've been doing all these things for you this week. Well, part of it of course, is in apology for what happened. But it's also to show that I truly didn't mean that as a joke."
Bankotsu's eyes widened at the admission, but he remained silent.
"When I woke up that morning, I was…how should I put it- touched? Confused? It was a lot of different things. I've always wanted to wake up like that with someone as handsome as you."
Willing down his blush, Bankotsu nodded- unsure what to say but wanting Jakotsu to know he was listening. And not wanting to lose his nerve to say what he needed to, Jakotsu continued on.
"I guess I just needed an answer as to what it meant to you, but I didn't feel right asking. So, I kissed you. You can read a lot in a kiss, and I know I got more answers than I really wanted to."
Reaching over tentatively, he clasped his hands around Bankotsu's; his anxiety lessening on seeing that the other man made no attempt to pull away.
"I might not understand what you're going through. I mean- I never had to grow into it. I'm okay with who I am and the fact that I like other guys. But I do understand one thing that you're feeling very strongly."
Throat constricting with his nerves, Bankotsu barely managed a raspy "What?" in response.
Smiling lightly, Jakotsu's face turned serious.
"I understand what it's like to be in love with your best friend and desperately wanting to do something about it before it drives you insane."
Blue eyes widened at that, freezing Bankotsu into place like an animal trapped in the oncoming headlights.
"Jakotsu…" His voice quaked, and he diverted his eyes in an attempt to shake the strange feeling that just overwhelmed him.
Yet even though, the whole thing seemed terrifying and new, Bankotsu wanted- no- needed to know one thing for certain.
"You… you mean- me?"
Jakotsu nodded lightly, his voice barely above a whisper and he struggled to find the right words.
"Who else could I possibly be talking about…except you?"
He raised his gaze then, catching Bankotsu's surprised one and forcing himself to hold it with all the sincerity he could muster.
Blue eyes began to well with emotion, the slightest hints of a tear tracing down his cheek.
Without a second thought, Jakotsu moved his hand to rest against Bankotsu's cheek. His thumb slowly brushing the tear away.
"What are you crying for?" Jakotsu asked; his voice remaining calm.
Bankotsu shook his head, eyes darting away.
"I don't know," He moved an arm up to wipe his face in case another tear decided to surface, "Touched. Confused. I'm not sure...But, it's not bad."
On hearing his own emotions echoed like that, Jakotsu pulled Bankotsu into an embrace; wrapping his arms around him and resting his chin atop his head.
They stayed like that for a few moments. Each just enjoying the silence laced with the beating of their two hearts.
Figuring it was now or never, Jakotsu pulled back. Taking a deep breath, he started to lean forward.
He paused, pulling back and deciding it was better safe than sorry.
Bankotsu felt his words catch in his throat. He knew the question, but the answer eluded him. Finally, he gave a slight nod.
Jakotsu could tell he was still uncertain, so he made mental note to try and hold back as much as he could. Leaning in, he gently pressed his lips against Bankotsu's, moving his hand up to brace the other man's head. Bankotsu tensed at first, still not completely used to it. But Jakotsu continued moving slow, now beginning to trail kisses down his neck, pausing every few moments to see if Bankotsu was going to voice a protest.
And on still not getting any, he sat back and looked at the other man.
Bankotsu diverted his eyes, and muttered under his breath.
For a second, Jakotsu was a bit worried. Then he noticed two things. One, being Bankotsu not-so well disguised embarrassment. The second, being his word choice.
"Weird. I'm weird. Being in bed with me's weird. I'm beginning to see a pattern here."
"Weird, in the good, me-kinda way, right?" He asked, his voice wavering on realizing how nervous he was to hear the answer.
There were no words exchanged, but the light nod of Bankotsu's head said everything.
"I'm rushing him again; he needs his space still…" Jakotsu's mind berated him, as he shifted further away on the couch.
But before he could retreat completely, Bankotsu's hand darted over and grasped his wrist.
"You don't have to…"
Jakotsu paused, slightly confused as to what he meant.
"I don't have to…what?"
"Leave. I don't mind if you…"
Blue eyes darted towards the bedroom, hoping Jakotsu didn't get the wrong idea.
Smiling, Jakotsu moved his hand to give Bankotsu's hand a light squeeze.
"I was kinda enjoying this but if you're ready for bed so early, I guess I can oblige."
Bankotsu glanced down at their hands, then slowly trailed his eyes up to meet Jakotsu's.
"So much has changed but… I can't exactly turn back or hide now."
Foregoing any other words, he let the impulsive decision take hold of his movements. Clumsily, his lips pressed against Jakotsu's and he pushed all his fears and questions to the back of his mind.
He pulled away after a moment, a hushed admission under his breath, "Me too…"
It was a delayed answer, but Jakotsu found himself touched all the same.
The two stared at each other for a moment. Then, figuring it couldn't hurt now, Jakotsu stood and quickly swept Bankotsu up into his arms.
"Jakotsu! What are you doing!" He protested, not sure what exactly Jakotsu had in mind.
"We can finish this in the bedroom…" The taller man said with a smirk.
"Finish…what?" Bankotsu countered, still struggling to be put down.
Leveling him with a serious gaze, Jakotsu sighed.
"Okay, I won't do anything you don't want me to. Just the basics- kissing, hugging, etcetera."
Blue eyes narrowed as he felt himself placed on his bed, "Is that a promise?"
Jakotsu reminded silent, as if he was truly thinking it over.
"Okay, okay. I promise. Nothing unless you give the okay."
Whatever it was Bankotsu intended to say got cut off as Jakotsu joined him in the bed. Wrapping his arms around him, Jakotsu rolled Bankotsu on top of him.
"You first," The dark-haired man said, starting to unbutton his shirt.
Jakotsu smirked deviously, "Whatever you want…"
Christmas morning came all too soon, and much to Suikotsu's dismay, he couldn't get ahold of Jakotsu that morning.
Worried not only about the conversation they'd had the day before, but also the fact that it was a few hours until the Christmas party, Suikotsu found himself outside of Bankotsu's apartment.
"I've been calling Jakotsu all morning without an answer. I guess I'll just see if he came over here to visit early."
He knocked and waited, finally hearing footsteps coming.
But on seeing who it was that answered the door, Suikotsu couldn't help but look surprised.
There stood Jakotsu, clad only in boxers and a hastily pulled on shirt, yawning and answering the door as if it was his own.
"Jakotsu, I thought I told you not to take advantage of him when he's in an emotional state!" Suikotsu reprimanded him.
"Whaa….But I didn't…"
"Jakotsu? Who is it?" Bankotsu's voice interrupted as he walked out from his bedroom looking equally disheveled as Jakotsu was.
"Bankotsu- tell him we didn't do anything you didn't want," Jakotsu demanded, pulling the braided man up beside him.
"Ummm…" Bankotsu just blushed, his eyes darting to the floor, "It's okay, Suikotsu. Jakotsu didn't do anything that I…" He gulped, "…that I didn't want to."
The brown haired man, looked between them once again, then sighed.
"Okay, sorry for the assumption. Anyways, the party is in two hours so I figured you might want to be awake. I'll leave you two to get ready then…"
Still giving them semi-suspicious looks, yet looking happy for them all the same, Suikotsu turned to go.
Once the door closed, Jakotsu casually draped an arm around Bankotsu.
"I think we could use a few more hours of sleep, right?"
Bankotsu crossed his arms, "Jakotsu. We really didn't do anything last night that would warrant extra hours of sleep."
Smirking, he began to walk with Bankotsu back towards the bedroom.
"Okay, does the excuse of just wanting to crawl back in bed and curl up with you count then? It is Christmas morning after all. Can't I get my present?"
Jakotsu paused and pecked a quick kiss on Bankotsu's cheek, "I've been a good boy."
Bankotsu frowned and pointed to the purple mark on his neck.
"I think I have proof otherwise."
"Why, but I thought we didn't do anything last night!" Jakotsu said, feigning innocent as he plopped down on the bed.
Reaching up and yanking him down onto the bed with him, Jakotsu couldn't help but laugh.
"Let's make them think we did something. Can't you agree that seeing Suikotsu's face was worth it?"
Bankotsu thought back to the expression on the usually calm man's face and couldn't resist a slight smile.
"Fine fine," He agreed curling up beside Jakotsu, "We can sleep for a little while longer."
The two laid there awhile, just content to be in one another arms enjoying the peace of it all. Jakotsu ran his hand down the length of Bankotsu's braid and found himself fidgeting with the end of it.
He smiled at that and cuddled closer.
"Same to you, Jakotsu."