Band of Eight

By Anonymous Laughter

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters created by Rumiko Takahashi.

Chapter Thirteen

The months passed and Kagome grew closer then ever to her family in the past. The reputation of the Hachinintai was pretty good for a group only half a year old or so. Since she had learned the worth of her money in the future Kagome was able to give most of her earnings to Yota so he could start establishing enough funds to start an orphanage. One late fall morning three days after one of Kagome's returns it began to snow, arousing Kagome from her slumber. Usually when Bankotsu woke up he would try waking her up in annoying and increasingly devious ways, including one chance when he tickled her awake with a long feather.

Kagome quickly dressed in a green woolen hakamas and a white modern down jacket on top before tying her hair up in a high ponytail with a white ribbon. Since Bankotsu didn't attempt to wake her up in the morning Kagome wandered around until she found him sitting on a fallen log staring into the sky.

"Good morning, Bankotsu-kun," she said with a sleepy smile.

"Kagome," Bankotsu said with an almost tragic curve of his lips, he didn't look very happy, "You'll never guess what day it is."

"December first." Kagome replied with a teasing smile causing him to frown slightly. Usually when he felt upset or angry her teasing would make him cheer up but he didn't want to be cheered up this time around.

"No, not that. It's my birthday today," Bankotsu said with a solemn sigh, "I am now thirteen, meaning now I'm not two but three years older than you."

"And yet I'm still smarter than you," Kagome said shaking her head in playful shame, "But really Bankotsu it's really your birthday?"

"Yes, I'm always a year older when it first starts to snow."

Kagome smiled and gave him a friendly hug, "Better stay away from the tropics then or you'll never grow up. Why didn't you tell me sooner?"

Bankotsu frowned slightly. "I'm telling you now aren't I? I don't even know why I mentioned it. I haven't liked my birthday for years." With that he walked away.

Kagome was confused. Bankotsu wasn't one to brood a lot. If he became upset about something he was usually vocal about it. It worried her that he wasn't telling her what was on his mind. She walked back to where the rest of the Hachinintai were camped and absently stroked Aza on the top of his head. Until the stirring of another brother stirred her attention. "Good mourning, Kagome-chan," Jakotsu said as he roused quickly from sleep, "How did Bankotsu-aniki try to wake you up this morning?"

Kagome looked over at her older 'brother' and with a thoughtful frown said, "He didn't. The snow woke me up. Bankotsu-kun's acting strangely today as well. Stranger then usual anyway. He said it's his birthday but he doesn't like it."

Jakotsu stretched and cracked his back with a sigh before saying, "Well, that's his business I suppose. Coming of age is his own business and he should be left alone today if he doesn't want to celebrate."

Kagome nodded but in her mind couldn't quite agree. It was something deep that was disturbing Bankotsu and Kagome longed to find out what it was. She said farewell to Jakotsu and set out once again to find Bankotsu.

It took while for her to find Bankotsu but thanks to Aza she did. He stood in a clearing that was covered in a light dusting of snow. At the rate it was falling it would be only a few inches deep by sunset. He stood looking up at the falling snow, much like she had seen him earlier.

"Bankotsu," she whispered, her breath fogging in the crisp air, "Please Bankotsu. You are my brother and my best friend. Pleaseā€¦ tell me what's wrong."

Bankotsu's fist clenched and he looked over at her. Kagome was surprised to see a sign of foggy moisture glistening in his eyes. In all their time together she had never seen him this near to tears. "When I turned four I still lived with my mother and father. But that morning when it started to snow my father learned my mother was the daughter of his daimyo's enemy. He married her for the sake of her beauty I assume. I loved my mother very much but only held a grudging respect for my father. He was strong but was always obvious when he took consorts and despite being a respectable samurai I knew his true self as well as my mother. He was an old drunk fool."

Kagome was crying as she listened to his story, "What happened?"

Bankotsu turned to look back at the sky and said, "I did nothing to save her. How could I? I was too young and weak to avenge her that time and every year I tried to kill him as he would desecrate her grave. He called me a fool and allowed me to live and I became stronger every year, hoping one day I would be able to kill him. Last year I got my chance. I finally killed my father and avenged my mother's spilt blood. He told me he was proud of me. I avenged my mother and he took it away from me. My birthday is only harbinger of death."

"How is that bothering you?" Kagome asked as she placed a hand on his shoulder, feeling more then slightly confused.

"You. You and everyone else are more then my comrades. You are the only family I have and I don't want you to die. If you die I wouldn't be able to imagine ever being happy again. I never want to be any sort of Lord. Lords don't care for their comrades; look at all these battles we are getting wealthy off of. Everyone is cutting ties and trying to gain more then anyone else. I just don't want to have to bury you and everyone else one year on my birthday."

"You really are a good leader, Bankotsu," Kagome said with a smile, before snapping her finger. She carefully untied the ribbon from her hair. "Keep this as a promise that I will always be your best friend even if we pass into death, whether together or apart."

Bankotsu smiled and took the ribbon from her outstretched hand. "Thanks Kagome."

She smiled and a wicked glint entered her eye, "I can't wait to tell everyone about your sensitive side."

Bankotsu scowled, "Don't you dare tell anyone. This is none of their business."

"Then I'll just have to tell them I found you crying in the middle of the woods."

"Don't tell them that either! If you tell anyone I'll demote you and then Renkotsu can be my second-in-command."

"Oooh, so scary, what would I ever do if that happened." Kagome said with a triumphant grin, Bankotsu was back to normal.

"That's it since it's my birthday you have to spar with me until I say we're done," Bankotsu demanded.

The two began their practice katas and before long the rest of the Hachinintai joined in one big family fight. Bankotsu smiled the most when Kagome would shout happy birthday to him at random intervals, almost like a war cry. It was good to be thirteen.


Le exclamation! I actually updated! And a heavenly choir of angels begins singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I humbly beg for your forgiveness. I have no excuse other than I am a collage student with a one track mind going in ten different directions. My dad tells me that if and when manics like me get true focus we become multi-millionaires.

Merry Christmas!