“Don’t call me ‘mom,’” Barnaby hissed at the teenage girl.
“Then how about you don’t tell me how late I can stay out!” She shouted, slamming her hands on the kitchen table.
“Kaede!” Kotetsu bellowed. After a pause and a forced, stern glare, he said,“Don’t talk back to your mother.”
The old man couldn’t help but to double over laughing.
“YOU GUYS ARE SO WIERD!” Kaede shouted, stomping up the stairs to her room.
It had been three years since they’d all moved in together, and it didn’t take long for Barnaby’s celebrity to wear off for her. The passive-aggressive motheringdidn’t help.
“Let her stay out. She’s a good girl, she won’t do anything stupid,” Kotetsu said.
“I’m sorry, are you saying that you never did anything stupid when you were seventeen?”
“I did lots of stupid things when I was seventeen. But, number one, I turned out fine, and number two, she’s not me. She’s way smarter then I was as a teenager.”
“The first point is debatable. The second I can agree with.”
“I love you too, Bunny.”
“Honestly, does anyone in the house know my real name?”
It wasn’t until seven months later that she came home drunk for the first time.
“B...barnaby?” came a strangled whisper from the door of his office.
“Kaede? Are you alright?”
He jumped up from his desk and caught her just in time as she collapsed through the doorway. The smell of alcohol immediately assaulted his senses.
“Quiet. Can we... I...I don’t want dad to know...” she looked up at him, face twisted in the pain of nausea. “Please. Barnaby?”
After a deep breath, Barnaby nodded, and dragged her over to the half-bath attached to his office.
“You’re lucky I work late,” he said.
“Can you shut up for like ten seconds while I throw up?” she said, head over the toilet.
“I’ll get water and towels,” he said, scrubbing his hand through his hair as he remembered Kotetsu saying the same thing to him years ago after a binge they went on after capturing a serial murderer. Was reconsidering his partner’s statement about Kaede being smarter than him. Figured they were probably more similar than Kotetsu was willing to admit.
“Barnabbbbyyyy. It feels like I’m dying...” she moaned when he returned.
“You’re not dying. You’re full of alcohol. Alcohol is poison and your body is trying to get rid of it.”
“That was really, ugh,” she lurched, “helpful, Barnaby.”
“I can’t believe how much you’re like your father,” he sighed, checking his watch. It was already half past midnight. Hadn’t realized he’d been working this late.
“I don’t think I can throw up,” she said.
“Then lay down and drink water,” he said, helping her up.
“What if I throw up anyway?”
“I’ll give you a trash can. Relax. You’re not dying. Drink.”
She sipped some water and shuddered.
When he lay her in bed, she groaned a little, quietly. He didn’t expect her to hold his hand, squeezing it through the nausea.
“Kaede, listen to me.”
She looked up, attentive in a way she never was whenever he’d spoken to her before.
“Remeber this. Next time you want to have one more beer. Remember how this feels.”
“Ugh,” she said.
After a little while, she drifted to sleep deeply enough that he could pry his hand out of her fist.
He sighed as he closed the door.
She wouldn’t remember.
Her father sure never did.
The next morning, Kaede attempted valiantly to hide her feeling of absolute wretchedness. When Kotetsu (brilliantly oblivious, at least he could be counted on for that) got up from breakfast to use the bathroom, Barnaby equipped her with some painkillers and told her she had better drink lots of water.
“I’m headed out,” Kotetsu said, throwing a coat over his shoulder a few minutes later. His job at the Hero Academy usually required him to be the first to leave. He gave Barnaby and Kaede a kiss on the cheek each, giving the latter a curious look when she tried to smile less than convincingly through her headache.
“I should get going to school too,” she said. Barnaby was about to open his mouth to give her advice on how to handle herself as to not appear as though she had a hangover, but he found her kissing him on the cheek just as her father had done a moment ago.
“Thanks, dad. For everything,” she said, a flush in her cheeks visible only for the second before she turned on her heel and bolted out the door.
Barnaby couldn’t help but to let a smirk ride up the left side of his mouth.
The first nickname he could actually live with.