Full Summary: "Your name shall be Yukiji from now on," he spoke, voice low and confident, "and you belong to me, understand?" That was how she had met the man known as the young leader of the notorious Band of Seven, his great halberd rested on his shoulders and her fate in his hands. This is the tale of the young mute, Yukiji, and her faithful encounter with this man.

When I think of Yukiji, the song "Midori no Za" by Masuda Toshio (taken from the Mushishi soundtrack), comes to mind. Actually, pretty much both soundtracks (as there are two), help me write this story since it sets the mood so well—in my opinion at least -laugh-

Yukiji: Snowy Road (hence the title and Bankotsu's reasoning behind her name)

Plain italics within the story = Yukiji's thoughts. Just felt I should point that out before anyone gets confused haha

Chapter I.

Blood Stained Snow

The smell of iron filled the air, the white blanket of snow that covered the land was beginning to be stained with red and a young girl sat in the middle of it all. She sat there, still as a doll and face as pale as the snow itself. All around her lay the dead bodies of men, who—not too long ago—were her attackers. She had been walking along the snowy path when a group of bandits (or so they claimed) ambushed her along the way. Why she was on that road alone even she did not understand.

Evidence of this were her disheveled hair and clothing, her kimono opened slightly to reveal her left shoulder and collar bone. Her black hair, as dark as the night sky, was now a mess atop her head due to their rough handling and there was a small cut at the side of her cheek. Blood trickled down the girl's cheek but she did flinch in pain nor did she seem to even notice it. The nameless girl sat with her hands at her side, not even making an attempt to try and fix her appearance.

She was far too shocked by the sight before her to even think about such a trivial matter.

Her eyes, which were a dark brown color, were glued to one particular man who was not dead at all, but was the very man who had killed the bandits. He stood there, eyes gleaming with self satisfaction as he twirled his giant halberd in one hand with expertise. He wasn't looking at her, actually, she was not sure if he even noticed her at all. From where she sat, she could tell that he was not at all tired nor bothered by the sight of the dead men.

Unbeknownst to the girl, this man's name was Bankotsu. The notorious young leader of the Band of Seven.

"Hmph," Bankotsu sneered, "now that wasn't satisfying at all." It was then that he turned his attention on her, as if just realizing she had been sitting there the entire time. For a moment, the two simply stared at each other, silence overtook them and the man regarded her with mild interest.

"You, woman," he said finally, pointing his great halberd at her, "what is your name?"

The girl did not answer. Muddy brown orbs stared back at him as if she were surprised by the very fact that he had even asked her such a thing. He scowled then, realizing the girl was taking far too long to answer him. He was, by nature, not a very patient man.

"I asked you a question," he seethed, "now you either answer it or I chop off that head of yours!"

At this, the girl made an attempt to speak but no words came out save for a few strained noises. Bankotsu frowned, as if confused by the girl's reaction. However, before he could speak any further he was interrupted by another voice. One that he recognized quite well.

"Big brother!"

Straightening up, the young leader seemed to forget about the girl for a moment, turning his attention to his approaching comrades. To her surprise, he smiled. It was a strange sort of smile, not at all like the one he had worn during his slaughter of those men.

"Hey, took you guys long enough," Bankotsu greeted, lifting his free hand to wave back at his approaching brothers. One of them, a peculiar looking man (in the girl's eyes), approached Bankotsu with a satisfied grin.

"We just finished cleaning out that village," Jakotsu replied, placing his blood stained sword onto his shoulder. "Why did you leave?"

"Oh that," Bankotsu said, now turning towards the girl and making a gesture with his head. "I found something far more interesting, so I had to check it out."

As if on cue, Jakotsu scrunched up his nose in disgust as he regarded the filthy creature before him with disdain. The girl, in turn, simply blinked back with curiosity, wondering if "it" were a man or a woman. She was not all too sure but, she concluded, eyes trailing over to the sword resting on his shoulder, "it" was probably not a nice person. Even more of them came now and she found that they were all covered in blood. They each wore the same satisfied grin on their faces, as if they had relieved themselves of some form of stress. She was not at all curious as to how they did it.

She had a hunch, judging by the smell of smoke in the air. The one who seemed to appear to be a woman but a man as well had mentioned a village. Perhaps...?

"What is that?" Jakotsu said, breaking the girl out of her thoughts.

"It's a girl, Jakotsu, haven't you seen one?" Suikotsu replied simply.

"I know that, but what's it doing here?" Jakotsu snapped back.

"That's what I want to know," Bankotsu said, grinning now, "and I'm going to find out once she starts talking."

"Big brother?" Renkotsu said, now approaching the two.

The girl felt a sense of fear and anxiety, realizing that there were more of these men made her feel uncomfortable. If anything, she felt more at danger with these men than the bandits. Although they were distracted she was sure that even if she attempted to run they would have no trouble in trying to get her back. Thus she simply cursed her horrible luck and her naïve decision to go alone to the next village.

She had assumed everything was going to be alright since it was daytime but—apparently, she was looking at the world through rose colored lenses.

Oh how do I get out of this now?

"Hey, woman," Bankotsu spoke, now approaching the frightened girl. She shrunk back as he grew closer, eyes widening with fear and she grabbed hold of her kimono to try and cover herself up.

Oh—what does it matter how I look like—it's not like these guys care anyhow!

She could not shake the feeling of dread, although she held nothing to her name she still feared for her life. She still wanted to live—to live freely and find something worth living for! Biting her bottom lip, she averted her eyes away from his heated gaze as he now stood before her...afraid to look him in the eye. Without so much as a warning, rough, calloused hands took hold of her delicate chin, forcing her to look up at him whether she wanted to or not.

Dark blue eyes bore right into hers and she felt as if her very soul was being read by this horrible man. It felt as if he could read every thought that was coming to her mind and that made her frightened beyond belief. What was it about this man that scared her so? And yet, at the same time, she could not help but feel a sense of wonderment.

"You never answered me," he informed her, "I don't like being ignored."

His voice was low, deadly even, as if he dared her to repeat the same mistake as before. Gulping nervously, she wished with all her might that she could do what he asked but found it harder than ever to go through with it. Her voice caught in her throat, as if choking on air and she felt tears brimming her eyes. This, however, only seemed to annoy the man as his grip on her tightened.

Panicking, she quickly shook her head, brought her hand up and pointed at her throat. Her soulful eyes stared straight into his, as if trying to communicate to him in some way. His brows furrowed in curiosity, releasing her from his hold and turning his attention to the one named Renkotsu.

"Hey, Renkotsu, you're the smart one here, what's she trying to say?" He asked, jabbing his thumb down at the silent girl.

Renkotsu seemed taken aback, not at all expecting his leader to bring him into the situation before glancing down at the girl. It was the first time he noticed her, truthfully. She was a dirty little thing, small and weak looking. Delicate almost, as if she would break if you held her too roughly. Her eyes, however, were large, doe eyed and held a sort of emotion within her that confused Renkotsu greatly.

As if she had a million things to say but couldn't...

"I..." Renkotsu muttered, "well—I suppose it has something to do with her throat?"

"Her voice, maybe?" Suikotsu interjected, his attention now on the girl as well.

"Oh what does it matter, anyway? Just kill the damn thing and let's be on our way! It's freezing!" Jakotsu huffed, folding his arms across his chest with irritation.

"Voice, huh?" Bankotsu said, more to himself than to any of his brothers.

Suddenly, he felt a tug at his hakama pants and looked down. She was looking up at him now, one hand gently holding onto his pants and another pointing at the ground. The girl had written something down onto the ground, it was rough but he could understand it to a certain degree. Just to be sure, he called Renkotsu over to read it for him. As he neared the two, Renkotsu took a quick glance at the writing and turned his head towards his leader with a nonchalant expression.

"It says, 'no name', that's all," he stated.

"Oh, I see," Bankotsu said, putting his hands on his hips. "Well, that's not going to work now is it?"

"Big brother?" Renkotsu asked.

"She needs a name if we're going to keep her," he concluded, now looking at her. "Hmm...what should be good?"

Why is he treating me like I'm some sort of kitten he found on the road?

The girl frowned a bit, not liking the way the mercenary was treating her. She, however, could not help but feel a little curious at what name he would think of. A name—it was something quite foreign to her. For as long as she could remember, a 'name' was something never associated with her.

"K-Keep her?" Renkotsu repeated, confused. "What do you mean...?"

"You're not serious, are you?" Jakotsu interjected, unhappy with this revelation.

"But why, Big brother?" Suikotsu asked.

"Shut up! I'm the leader so I get to decide what we do!" Bankotsu said, eyes still on the girl. He knelt down to get a better look at her, taking both her and his brothers by surprise. "I met you on this road...so perhaps...Yukiji?"

The girl opened her mouth only to close it soon after, as if surprised by his decision and even if she could talk she would be at a loss for words. He only smirked back at her, his decision now made final in his head.

"That settles it. Your name shall be Yukiji," he spoke, voice low and full of confidence, "and you belong to me, understand?" He then scooped the girl up with one hand and his halberd in the other. His arm was wrapped around her, holding her as if she were a sack of rice as she faced downwards, her small fingers gripping nervously at the hand on her stomach.

"But—wait, Big brother, why keep the girl? Why not just kill her?" Renkotsu protested, not sure why his leader had taken such a keen interest in such a dirty little girl. If it were a beautiful maiden, he would understand, but a tiny thing like that? What good could possibly come from such a girl?

She was even smaller when Bankotsu held her in his arms and he was by no means a tall man. The girl looked no older than a child, if anything, and she was filthy. He could see the bruises and dirt stained on her otherwise porcelain like skin and her kimono was ragged, dirty and torn.

"Because," Bankotsu replied, "she's an interesting one—I can tell."

"What...?" Suikotsu asked, but decided it best not to argue with their leader. As the three remaining members of Bankotsu's band of mercenaries silently grumbled their disapproval, he carried on with the girl in tow.

Truth be told, even he did not understand his reasoning. She was not to his liking looks wise nor was her body anything to behold—no, if anything she was a small, frail little thing that made him irritated just looking at. Yet it was her eyes...those eyes of hers that spoke a thousand words. Hidden deep within her dark brown orbs, behind the fear and sorrow, he could see it.

The life inside the girl which was begging to burst from its shell.

He smirked, thinking about it now. Once it happened—he was going to be there to claim it as his.

C.C.: I assure you, Yukiji is of reasonable age. Just wanted to make that clear before people start thinking Bankotsu has a Loli fetish haha (well, your Mileage May Vary, depending on how you see it). I hope you all like this :) and I shall be working hard on the chapters that follow. Their relationship will probably develop very very slow and my mind may change on the status of said "relationship" as time goes on. Who knows? But, regardless, I hope you all enjoy this.

Thank you for reading!