slovak vampire (numisma) wrote in iyfic_challenge,
slovak vampire

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Teamwork Oneshot

Title: Follow the Leader
Genre: Angst/Drama
Rating: R for violence, gore and Jakotsu
Pairing lightly implied Jakotsu->Bankotsu
Sumamry: [Bankotsu centric]They may have been the Shichinintai, the Band of Seven, but they still acted as seven instead of one, with seven minds instead of one, and they began to lose jobs to those who did it betterfastercleaner. Strategy was needed.
Word Count: 1100, I think

A/N: didn't quite come out the way I wanted, but oh well.

Follow the Leader

The snow soaks through the fabric of his hakama, sending a chill through his legs, but the numbing coldness he feels is the farthest from his mind. Only slightly closer is the rope burn that itches at his wrists, for it is something he can feel, moreso than one can feel numbness or any lack of feeling, but he stopped tugging and worsening his aching, sore, ready-to-bleed wrists long ago. Not even the dark brown crust flaking from his bruised face and split lip -from that swift punch to his jaw for spitting in the daimyo’s face, or the punch after that for spitting spit and blood and a tooth or two in the face of said fist’s owner- can take the place of the betrayal seeping through the cracks and freezing him where he stands - better than icy winds ever could.

From the corner of his eye he chances a sideways glance, something he hopes their executioners won’t notice, at the others kneeling in the snow. Each one of them is following in his example. They don’t notice his hidden gaze.

The feeling in his shins is slowly slipping away, like his body heat, but for a moment Bankotsu distracts himself from the bitterness coating his tongue, thoughts veering toward the days of old, when all he wanted was to hold men’s mercy in the palm of his hands- and crush it like a bug.

At first it was just he alone, staining his Banryuu with the blood of whoever would pick a fight with him -and there were many- because no one would believe a thirteen year old boy no matter how many he claimed to have killed, because no one would hire a boy to do a man’s work.

It was a stroke of luck when he came across Jakotsu. Pairing up with such a man in love with the sight of blood and pain brought them the semblance of a reputation, because work became cleaner -but bloodier- and quicker. When Suikotsu joined, they soon knew better of men’s vital spots, and he became insurance for survival.

There was that time when a target had nearly slit his throat, but instead split open his shoulder and chest, soaking his clothes in red brightness and revealing the white of bone. The doctor-mercenary was responsible both for healing him and keeping Jakotsu’s bloodlust at bay -those hungry, hungry eyes only slightly hesitating at the bloody sight of him- while he patched him up. He gave him the task of naming their group; they had dreams of high demand for their slaughter skills, and those in high demand would have less difficulty attracting work.

By the time Jakotsu came up with The Deadly Three, they were four and more dangerous. He needed to come up with something better, because The Deadly Four didn’t quite have the same ring as the former.

But as four became five, six and seven, it became apparent that more may be merrier, but did not necessarily equal to better. Near casualty upon near casualty was suffered within. All the bandages are soaked in blood, and they have mastered the arts of mending garments and of removing bloodstains from clothing of many types, and by now Ginkotsu is more machine than human and the air is so thick with blood, both theirs and not, that they can‘t help but feel nauseous from the stench, even Jakotsu, and Suikotsu seems like a different, weak little man at times and they can‘t do a thing when the Suikotsu they know has disappeared for a while, and Jakotsu’s Jakotsutou needs half its blades refinished, and Bankotsu is restless because they cannot work mercenary missions while half of them are out of commission. They may have been the Shichinintai, the Band of Seven, but they still acted as seven instead of one, with seven minds instead of one, and they began to lose jobs to those who did it betterfastercleaner.

Strategy was needed. It was needed, and so seven minds became one, after much hardshipconcentrationorganisation.

It was a strategy and a goal taken none too lightly - and Mukotsu takes out the weak in the villages with his poisons and Suikotsu claws men’s faces apart, then cracks open their skulls and Renkotsu turns houses into funeral pyres and Kyoukotsu feasts upon bones and bones and living flesh and bones, his belly a bottomless and always hungry cavern, and Ginkotsu is a walking half-human piece of technology, the technology of destruction and the future, decimating all who cross his path as the air fills with gun smoke, and Jakotsu coils his proverbial but deadly snake tail around the more attractive of their targets, the blades of his sword sinking through fabric and muscle and bone with a flick of his wrist, and at the head of it all is Bankotsu, calling down lightning that illuminates his face -he looks like a demon- and driving his Banryuu into victims’ stomachs as he drives their reputation into their doubting minds - though it won’t matter because the doubters are all but corpses now. It was those who came across the charred and bloated and bloodsoaked remains who would no longer doubt.

But a warm, moist hand is pressing upon his neck, thick nails digging into his skin, fingers grabbing at his braid and yanking Bankotsu up off of his knees, and his mind becomes blank. He hides the wobble in his legs as he’s led forward, then lets out a grunt when his chin meets the chopping block and his knees -though he can’t feel it- hit the snowy ground. The gritting of his teeth is almost painful enough he needs to keep his eyes shut. But one look at his comrades, the other six of his Band of Seven, as they stare back at him -forced to watch their leader go first- and he forces his lips to curve into a smile.

Then his hair is moved aside, and Bankotsu is so numb he barely feels the blade tap the back of his neck as the wielder tests his sword and aim, but he certainly feels it when it slices painfully -and less than cleanly- through the flesh of his neck -fleshboneflesh- into wood. His last thought is which would be worse: seeing one’s comrades beheaded one by one, or one’s comrades seeing their leader offed first.

The blade is stuck in the wood from the force at first. Later, when the executions are over, the half-frozen men return to the castle. It takes three men to transport the Banryuu there.
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