The forest was shortly long behind them, and Bankotsu was long since lost in his thoughts.
They seemed to stay on his encounter with that demon, and he wasn't entirely sure why. It left him with questions, undoubtedly. He considered telling Jakotsu about it before deciding it wasn't important enough.
"Oo-aniki, how do you expect we find more members?"
Bankotsu didn't really have an answer, mostly as he hadn't thought about more members until Jakotsu had asked in the first place.
"I'm not sure. I guess we just look for strong opponents." Bankotsu answered honestly.
For a few minutes, they walked without any noise aside from their footsteps, both unsure of what to say during this walk. Jakotsu eventually spoke once more, always being quite talkative.
"Alright." Jakotsu said, seemingly with no reply. The whole idea of a band of mercenaries seemed new to him.
The silence resumed, and it wasn't until the sun began to set that it was broken once more.
"Perhaps we should camp out here." Bankotsu thought aloud, observing the area. It wasn't particularly great, but he noticed it wasn't terrible. It was a short matter of time before they sat staring into the flames of a fire.
The warmth of the fire started to seem more appealing when it started getting colder.
"What about... After we get the members?" He asked quieter than usual, "Will you name it? Are people going to hire us?"
"Probably." He laid back, "We'll get there."
"Okay." Jakotsu replied, "You're right. We'll figure it out."
"For now, though, we should probably get some sleep so we can make more progress tomorrow." Bankotsu proposed, "We'll figure out everything eventually."
"Yeah." Jakotsu agreed, watching as Bankotsu put the fire out. The two got comfortable and cuddled up a bit, both with a view directly at the stars. Jakotsu turned his head to look at Bankotsu.
'We'll figure it out.' He thought.
And they both soon drifted off.
It seemed like any time at all had passed when they got up and prepared to set off. Jakotsu combed through his long hair before tying it up once more and watching Bankotsu do the same with his hair, only braiding it.
The two set off once more, the day quiet as it could be.
Jakotsu was less talkative than usual, deep in thought. Bankotsu didn't question it since he had things to think about himself, particularly regarding recent events. He had already decided who his second-in-command would be, and wondered briefly if anyone would change their name to have 'kotsu' in it.
There was no doubt that they had a lot of things to work out, like with ever or not they should have the other members get tattoos.
Bankotsu looked around his surroundings, noticing the area contained quite a few flowers and butterflies. It was mostly surrounded by trees, however, and it was an oddly quiet walk.
After a while, an hour or so, he arrived at a promising destination. He looked ahead, seeing what looked vaguely like a village in the distance.
"Hmm. Guess it's a good start, huh?" Bankotsu looked over at Jakotsu.
"Looks as good as any." Jakotsu looked deep ahead, before turning to Bankotsu, "With any luck we'll find someone there."
During the walk, Jakotsu seemed to have finished with whatever deep thought process he had been in, as he was back to his usual talkative self. It was almost refreshing, just talking and laughing together.
When they arrived in the village, it seemed far too plain and uninteresting. The sun was now starting to set, even though it felt like barely any time at all had passed since they set off.
"It doesn't look like we'll find anyone here." Jakotsu commented, observing the area.
"It's too peaceful." Bankotsu agreed, "Well, at least we can find a place to stay."
Jakotsu glanced at the sky, "It is getting late."
"Huh, guess we better find one, then." Bankotsu said, beginning the search. Jakotsu followed close by.
He couldn't help but think he had been ridiculous earlier, 'How silly of me, it's not like I could ever actually tell him.' He thought to himself, 'He's my friend.'
Jakotsu pushed the thought out of his mind while they found a place to stay the night, sitting in silence.
'He's not gonna like me back.' He thought fiercely 'There'd just be no point!'
"Hmm?" Jakotsu quickly abandoned his thoughts to look at his friend, who was walking over to him.
"How many members do you think we should have?" He inquired.
"Why are you asking me that?" Jakotsu asked out of curiosity.
"Well, you're my friend." Bankotsu said, and offered Jakotsu a cup, "Sake?"
Accepting the cup, he continued, "Yeah, but you're the leader."
"Oh right, almost forgot." Bankotsu said, "You should be second-in-command."
"What?" He looked at his best friend, "Me? Wouldn't someone else be more suited for the job."
Bankotsu took a sip of his drink before saying, "Perhaps. But I have yet to meet said person. I think you'd be good at it."
"Well, okay." Jakotsu agreed, taking a drink of his sake, "But what if you do find someone better for it."
"Hmm..." Bankotsu thought, "Well, I guess I could make them second-in-command instead and you could be third."
Jakotsu laughed, "I guess that works."
The two barely noticed how much time had passed by the time they had fallen asleep, and it felt like mere minutes before they were setting off once again, and while finding a new member was priority, that didn't stop them from killing mostly everyone they came across, especially warriors.
It was several weeks before they reached another village, though they supposed there were aspects that made it worthwhile.
"Did you hear?" A villager spoke to another, "They say there's a demon who eats other demons!"
"No, I heard it was a human!" Another human added in, "It's a human doing that!"
"What kind of human is capable of that?"
Listening in, Bankotsu let out a simple 'huh' before going up to talk to them.
"You say there's a human who eats demons?"
"Yes, he's enormous!" Another man claimed, "I saw him myself, barely escaped!"
"Must be pretty strong, then, if he's eating demons." Bankotsu thought aloud, "Which direction?"
"Which direction is he? He's that way." The man pointed, "But he'll devour you too if you go!"
"Ha, I don't think so." Bankotsu smirked, before turning to his friend and second-in-command, "I guess we have a lead."
"Hopefully this guy is as strong as they say," Jakotsu followed his friend, "Otherwise, I'd just be disappointed."
"Well, he better be."
A week passed since they had set off to find the giant man the villagers spoke of. Particularly late at night, Jakotsu sat alone near a river.
He picked a flower and sighed, playing around with it.
'Does this mean... I really love Bankotsu?' He asked himself, 'Why is he different?'
Tossing the flower away, he stared into the water, 'I don't know, this doesn't make any sense.' He thought, resigned, 'I want to tell him.'
He looked up at the sky, hopelessly, 'But... I just can't. I know he won't return it, and it'll just ruin everything.. Our friendship..'
Jakotsu had lately often thought about this. He realized his feelings only so long ago, before Bankotsu had decided to start a band of mercenaries. There was things about it he just didn't understand.
'Why do I even love him?'
He gazed at the water, 'Why is it Bankotsu?' He asked himself.
It was easy to answer, when he thought about it, 'He's strong, and handsome and..' He contemplated, 'He's honest, loyal and calm..'
Jakotsu sighed, and for a while, sat in silence.
The water reflected the moon, giving a beautiful shine to it. He didn't understand why it was so hard to just stop thinking about it and move on. He knew perfectly well that the feelings would never be returned, he accepted it.
He knew it just wouldn't work, though he was hopeful.
'Jeez...' He thought, looking at the sky, 'It's late. I should get some sleep before it's daytime.'
The next day they set out early as they could. They even ran into some more opponents, which made them glad.
The minutes went by quickly when they found some entertainment. Days passed by without even a single sign or rumour about the man, and it started to make them worry that they spent all this time for nothing.
The days seemed uneventful.
Weeks had passed before they, at last, had found the giant.
From a distance they could hear screaming and what sounded like trees crashing to the ground.
"Sounds promising." Bankotsu said, going towards the direction fast as he could. Jakotsu followed him, his speed just about equal.
When they arrived, they couldn't help but feel a bit of relief as their search came to an end. Bankotsu placed his halberd down, grinning, "Ah, so this is the guy they were talking about."
Bankotsu didn't bother asking, knowing it'd be pointless for a guy like this.
The man looked down at them. He truly was very large, and upon seeing them began to walk towards them, "How nice of you to stay still for me." He laughed, "That'll make this much easier for me!" He swung his arm at Bankotsu, as if to grab him. Bankotsu dodged out of the way, with ease. The man continued laughing, trying again. Bankotsu smirked and got close to the giant.
Jakotsu watched as Bankotsu punched the man, quickly, and repeated immediately.
He watched as Bankotsu kept punching the giant, far stronger than the other. After a while, it became too much for the large man, as he fell to the ground looking desperate and in pain.
Bankotsu stopped, and walked slowly to the, now intimidated, giant. The giant thought for a while, before asking, "How about we team up and travel together? We could kill far more people."
"Teaming up.." Bankotsu repeated, "That's exactly what I came here for."
"You came here for us to team up?" The man asked.
"Yes. I am Bankotsu, soon to be leader of a band of mercenaries." He smirked, "I came here because of the rumours, so I suppose you're probably pretty strong."
The giant laughed, "I am! I will join your band of mercenaries!"
"Alright then." Bankotsu turned towards a different direction, "Though, we should give you a name like ours..."
By the time that it was night, they had a nice campfire and a new comrade.
While they discussed together what they name the new member should have, Jakotsu's mind was another place.
Glancing at Bankotsu, he couldn't help but think about him. Just looking at his friend, the man he loved. He smiled.
Jakotsu felt cheerful, even if Bankotsu didn't return his feelings. He knew that tonight was special, it was the member they had searched for weeks to find, it was the first member other than Jakotsu to join.
He took a drink of his sake, talking with his friends happily. There was a lot to work out.
Many hours had passed before they put the fire out and it became quiet as they all got comfortable and tried to sleep. Jakotsu glanced at Bankotsu, smiling. They already had a new member and soon they would be setting out to find another.
Though, Jakotsu had realized, he never did answer the question about how many members. He wasn't even sure how many there should be.
'I guess we'll figure that out.'