Ever since the heroes had defeated Jake Martinez, Barnaby had been happier – most of the time.
The incidents when Barnaby wasn’t – usually these small moments when Barnaby would stare off into space, his face suddenly pale and tight ¬– always disturbed Kotetsu. They worried him because Kotetsu himself was so happy. Working with a partner was better than he ever could have imagined, and he liked this new Bunny-chan, liked to see him smile and hear him laugh. So whenever Barnaby didn’t, even for a moment, it bothered him.
Kotetsu had talked about this with Antonio at the Hero’s Bar once, but Antonio hadn’t taken it seriously.
“Only simple people like you are happy all the time,” Antonio said to him before taking a large gulp of a frothy mug of beer.
Considering Antonio had known Kotetsu long enough to see him at his worst, Kotetsu didn’t think he was being fair, but Antonio reminded him they’d also known each other long enough for Kotetsu to recognize when Antonio was making a joke.
“Don’t worry about it,” Antonio said. He threw enough Stern Bild dollars on the counter for both of them in an apology. “If Barnaby wants to tell you, he will.”
Kotetsu was not exactly good at leaving something alone, though. So whenever Kotetsu would see Barnaby looking a little sad, he’d make sure to tell him a new joke he thought up.
Once, and only once, it made Barnaby smile. “You’re not very funny, old man,” he said.
He still smiled, so Kotetsu counted it as a success.
But about three months after Jake had been defeated, a dark mood came over Barnaby while the two of them were sitting in his apartment. Kotetsu had gone to work right away.
“… So we knew it couldn’t have been explosives, right?” Kotetsu said, his mouth curled into a wide, toothy smile. “Well, then I saw the guy crouched near the walls of the bank, this big hole carved into it, and then when I found him and saw the bits of brick in his mouth …”
“He was eating through the walls of the bank,” Barnaby droned, pressing his fingers against his eyes beneath his glasses. “He was a NEXT who eats matter. You told me this story five times!”
Kotetsu scratched his cheek sheepishly. “Well, I still think it’s funny.”
Barnaby sighed. Kotetsu would have taken the reaction in stride, but as the annoyance dissipated from Barnaby’s face, he looked positively sad.
“Hey, Bunny-chan, what’s wrong?” Kotetsu asked.
“Nothing.” Barnaby got up off the couch, crossed his arms as he walked to the wide window. “I don’t know.”
Kotetsu followed him. He reached for Barnaby’s shoulder, but Barnaby flinched and stepped aside.
“It doesn’t feel right …” Barnaby said.
Kotetsu’s heart seized. “What do you mean?”
“Now that we’ve defeated Jake, I should feel closure.”
“You mean you don’t?”
“No … Yes. Well, I usually do, but sometimes it just doesn’t feel real.” Barnaby raised his hand to his mouth. “I don’t know. Maybe I’m just having trouble believing it.”
Kotetsu didn’t have any advice, so he said, “Probably.”
“That’s right!” Barnaby said. “That’s right. But why doesn’t the feeling go away when I acknowledge it? Why does it still feel like there’s something wrong?”
“Well …,” After thinking very hard about it for a minute, taking a few seconds out here and there to feel grateful Barnaby had told him what was wrong, Kotetsu shrugged. “I don’t know.”
Barnaby groaned and raked his fingers harshly through his hair. “Of course you don’t know. I don’t know. I don’t know half of what I feel these days.”
“Look, uhhh …” Kotetsu took another step closer. “We had kind of a busy week. Maybe you need some rest.”
Barnaby took off his glasses and rubbed his eyes. “I can’t sleep when I’m like this.”
Kotetsu hesitated. Then he smiled when he remembered something he could do. “Well, I can probably get you to sleep.”
Barnaby put back on his glasses and looked at Kotetsu. “What do you mean?”
“Well, uh … it’s been awhile. I’m kind of out of practice, but there’s this thing I do that’s …” Kotetsu laughed in an attempt to quell his nervousness. “Heh, I’ve never heard any complaints, anyway.”
Barnaby blinked. “Ah …” he said quietly.
“So, if you want me to show you …”
“Yes,” Barnaby came very close to Kotetsu.
He was about to respond but Barnaby laid his hands against the sides of Kotetsu’s face. “Yes,” Barnaby said again, then kissed Kotetsu so hard he could feel Barnaby’s glasses pressing against his nose.
A few strong, persistent feelings came upon Kotetsu. The first was panic. He had no idea Barnaby felt this way. The second was confusion. He’d been thinking about how he used to massage Tomoe’s back to help her fall asleep. The third was a cautious, but persistent excitement, and he was reminded of how he hadn’t been kissed in years.
Barnaby pulled away, although he kept his hands on Kotetsu’s cheeks. “This … this is what you mean, isn’t it?”
Kotetsu wondered if Barnaby could feel his face burning. His head felt dizzy and when he spoke his tongue seemed to be moving on its own. “Yeah. This … this is what I meant.”
Barnaby let out a long exhale and embraced Kotetsu, kissing him again. “I didn’t mean to tell you like this.”
Kotetsu tried to return Barnaby’s hug, scrambling to find the right place to put his hands before settling on one around his back and the other around his waist. “It’s okay …”
“I’m not sure how it happened,” Barnaby continued. “I’d been so obsessed with finding who killed my parents, with becoming a hero, and now I know, and I am, and when the dust settled these feelings were what was left.”
Kotetsu didn’t know what to say. His mind was torn between thinking “Yes! Yes!”, “What have I gotten myself into?” He’d never say he hadn’t felt anything for Barnaby, but there had been so much else going on, so much else to worry about, and he had such an unclear sense of what he wanted, it had been easy to push it aside, to lock it away …
“Yeah,” Kotetsu said at last. “I know what you mean.”
The next few minutes passed in a muddle. Kotetsu followed Barnaby to his bedroom, almost stumbling as he went. He sat on the bottom right edge of Barnaby’s bed as he took off his hat, tie and vest. After he pulled his shirt over his head he grabbed his wedding ring, preparing to yank it off, then stopped. He didn’t need to be ashamed of this, and he wasn’t going to throw away something that would always be a part of his life, either.
Kotetsu removed his socks, watch and bracelet. He was unbuckling his belt when he looked back at Barnaby. His partner had already undressed and slipped beneath the covers. He laid there as stiff as a board, his eyes locked on the ceiling.
Realization hit Kotetsu, and he gasped. He leaped onto the bed and climbed on top of Barnaby, straddling him. Barnaby scrambled backwards against the headboard as Kotetsu pointed at Barnaby.
“You … You’re a virgin,” Kotetsu exclaimed.
Barnaby’s mouth opened. If Kotetsu had sprouted a second head, his eyes still couldn’t have been any wider.
Kotetsu chuckled to himself. “Well, don’t worry. I, Kaburagi T. Kotetsu …” he tossed back his hair, “… will be your greatest lover ever!”
Barnaby’s previously horrified expression turned into a glare. His cheeks were red as he pushed Kotetsu. “Get out of my bed!”
Kotetsu slipped on the covers and fell back on the floor, hitting his head with a thud. He groaned and rubbed it as he picked himself back up and looked over the side of the bed. Barnaby was sitting up with his legs against his chest, his face still sour.
“I was just trying to make you laugh, Bunny.”
Barnaby turned his head away. “You’re embarrassing, not funny.”
Kotetsu sighed and climbed back onto the bed. Barnaby tried to pull further in on himself as Kotetsu laid a hand on his knee, but didn’t push him away. It was strange, Kotetsu thought. Only moments ago he’d been so stunned by Barnaby’s offer that he barely knew what to do, but now that he’d figured Barnaby out he instinctively knew what role he should take.
“It’s only me who’s seeing this,” Kotetsu said. He craned his neck toward Barnaby and kissed him on the cheek. When Barnaby said nothing, he did it again and again. As he kept kissing Barnaby he could hear him breathe heavily. Then Barnaby began to kiss back.
Barnaby locked his arms around Kotetsu’s neck and pulled him down to the bed so Kotetsu was resting on top of him. They continued to kiss like that, Barnaby opening his mouth and moaning until Kotetsu stuck his tongue inside. Barnaby let out a satisfied whimper, and Kotetsu could feel Barnaby’s burgeoning erection nudging against him. Kotetsu moved his right hand between their bodies to stroke it.
At Kotetsu’s touch, Barnaby arched his back. Kotetsu could feel his own body stir as Barnaby let out strained, pleading grunts. Then Barnaby suddenly stopped and took hold of Kotetsu’s right hand.
“Wait,” Barnaby breathed. “I don’t want it this way.”
Kotetsu blinked. He didn’t understand. “Is something wrong?”
“You said you could get me to sleep,” Barnaby said, sitting up on the bed.
Kotetsu raised an eyebrow. “You’re telling me you want to miss your first time?”
“No!” Barnaby snapped, his lips curling in disgust and his face reddening again. “I want … I want …” Barnaby buried his face in his hands.
Kotetsu didn’t press him. He rubbed his hand up and down Barnaby’s bare back and let Barnaby sit there until he was ready. Finally, Barnaby spoke.
“The feeling won’t go away. Even with everything you’re doing it tugs at my mind,” Barnaby raised his head and looked directly into Kotetsu’s eyes. “I want to forget.”
Kotetsu’s mouth went dry at Barnaby’s words. He desperately wanted to help, but it had been so long, and Tomoe was so different from Barnaby and he wasn’t sure any of his tricks would work.
“I’m … I’m really out of practice, Bunny.”
Barnaby rolled his eyes. “What happened to the greatest lover ever?”
Kotetsu froze like he’d just been slapped, then he frowned. Mouthy little brat, he thought.
With a swift motion Kotetsu grabbed Barnaby’s left wrist and pinned it behind him. He pushed Barnaby down on the bed, using his knee to hold him fast. Then Kotetsu waited to see what Barnaby would do. Barnaby cried out and squirmed, but didn’t activate his powers. Kotetsu took this as a sign that what he was doing was okay. He leaned down over Barnaby and whispered in his ear.
“Hey, you’re real pushy for an uke.”
Barnaby made another showy but not very serious struggle to free himself. As he strained against Kotetsu’s grasp, his eyes seemed far away, like he was being hypnotized and was just on the verge of going under. “And if you were a true seme you’d already be fucking me,” Barnaby said.
“I’m getting to that!” Kotetsu protested. He pressed a hand against the back Barnaby’s neck, threading his fingers through Barnaby’s hair. Having pulled back his hair, Kotetsu kissed the exposed flesh of Barnaby’s neck along his vertebrae, moving slowly down his back.
Barnaby was still under Kotetsu’s attentions. Occasionally he moaned softly. When Kotetsu touched his shoulders, though, Barnaby felt stiff.
Yeah, Kotetsu thought, he could definitely use this.
He began to massage Barnaby’s back, moving his hands slowly but firmly across Barnaby’s shoulders, then downward. By the time Kotetsu’s hands were down around Barnaby’s waist, Barnaby was moaning again – much louder this time. Kotetsu frowned. He was glad Barnaby was enjoying this, but his partner still felt as tight as a drum.
“Fuck me …” Barnaby moaned.
Kotetsu stopped. “Ehh?”
Barnaby twisted himself so he was looking over his back at Kotetsu. “Fuck me!”
Kotetsu shook his head. “You’re crazy. You’re so tense I’d hurt you.”
“I can take it.”
“No.” Kotetsu pushed Barnaby so he was lying face down on the bed again. Barnaby tried to pull himself free, and Kotetsu countered by tickling Barnaby’s right side.
Barnaby spluttered out a “What?” but whatever he tried to say next got strangled. Barnaby strained against Kotetsu, making low, strangled noises that Kotetsu could tell were attempts not to laugh. Finally Barnaby pushed back hard, breaking free of Kotetsu’s grip.
Kotetsu caught Barnaby again, grabbing him around the torso and trapping him so he was sitting between Kotetsu’s legs, his back against Kotetsu’s chest. He then tickled Barnaby hard, and while Barnaby still didn’t laugh, he let out a high-pitched noise that signaled he was just about to lose all composure.
“You think you can beat a Dad at this?” Kotetsu grinned as Barnaby wrestled against him.
“Kotetsu …” Barnaby gasped as Kotetsu tickled him again, then finally broke down. He laughed helplessly, shaking in Kotetsu’s grasp, unable to struggle anymore.
“Please!” Barnaby begged, “Please!”
Kotetsu finally took pity on him and stopped. Barnaby slumped back against him, panting as he rested his head against Kotetsu’s. Kotetsu ran the edge of his nails lightly against Barnaby’s side, which made Barnaby momentarily shudder, then relax again when Barnaby seemed to realize Kotetsu wasn’t going to tickle him.
For a final test, Kotetsu kissed Barnaby lightly on the shoulder, then gripped his lips around a bit of Barnaby’s flesh and sucked. Barnaby hissed, but didn’t try to pull away. When Kotetsu let him go, a bright red mark was left on Barnaby’s shoulder. The side of Barnaby’s mouth twitched a little when he saw it, yet when Kotetsu tried to kiss him he didn’t pull away. He only opened his mouth and docilely offered up his lips and tongue.
“Will you fuck me now?” Barnaby asked, his eyes half-lidded, his mouth wet with spit.
Kotetsu felt a lump climb into his throat as he nodded. He reached a hand beneath Barnaby’s chin and wiped his thumb across his bottom lip. Barnaby whimpered and Kotetsu kissed him again.
“There’s lube in the drawer,” Barnaby said when they had stopped.
Kotetsu let Barnaby settle back onto the bed as he went to get it. His heart was pounding as he did so. He hadn’t thought that would work, not really. He certainly didn’t think it would work like that. Whenever he’d try to massage or tickle Tomoe she would like it, if they had sex afterward she would smile or laugh more than usual. But the same thing seemed to turn Barnaby into sort of zombie. Kotetsu guessed he needed it. Barnaby had said he wanted to forget and now it seemed like he’d have trouble remembering how to write his own name.
Bunny’s tough, Kotetsu reminded himself as he opened the drawer. Still, he hoped he wasn’t in over his head.
“Kotetsu …” Barnaby urged.
“Coming.” Kotetsu grabbed the bottle and got back on the bed. He smiled, trying to put his worries behind him. Although Barnaby was lying there naked and looking up at Kotetsu like he would lick Kotetsu’s feet if asked; that made it easier. Kotetsu ran a hand down the muscles of Barnaby’s chest, then licked them. It felt good, and he was starting to get hard again, but …
Barnaby groaned loudly. “Will you get on with it, already?”
“Okay! Okay! Sheesh …” Kotetsu popped open the bottle of lube and squeezed, accidentally dropping a generous goop onto the bed sheets in the process. He winced, tried to pick up some with his first two fingers, then rubbed the liquid against Barnaby’s entrance. With a tiny bit more his fingers went in easily. Barnaby twisted and moaned as Kotetsu moved his fingers inside him. Kotetsu tried to push further.
“I thought old men were supposed to be quick!” Barnaby said.
What the hell? Kotetsu thought. He pulled down his pants and spread some more lube onto his cock, yanking it harshly. “Have it your way,” he said, and pushed inside.
Barnaby made a sound like the wind was knocked out of him. It was loud enough for Kotetsu to feel badly for what he did, to think about stopping. Yet Barnaby was so warm and tight and Kotetsu hadn’t done this for so long that he couldn’t help but fuck Barnaby hard. For the first couple of minutes Barnaby laid there, letting himself be pushed along by Kotetsu’s thrusts. Then he wrapped his arms around Kotetsu’s neck and clung there.
Kotetsu pushed hard and Barnaby moaned, hooked his legs around Kotetsu’s waist. Barnaby’s grip felt so warm, so incredibly strong. It was unreal, Kotetsu thought. He hadn’t felt these sensations in years except in dreams, but Barnaby felt so present, so real, that he knew it couldn’t be a dream.
Barnaby strained so he could rub his cheek against Kotetsu’s neck. The two of them kissed again, breathing into each other’s mouth with the rhythm of Kotetsu’s lovemaking.
“I …,” Barnaby whispered, then panted for a few moments and moaned before speaking again, “I trust you, Kotetsu.”
Kotetsu sucked on Barnaby’s lips. He wasn’t sure if Barnaby meant just that or if he was trying to tell him something deeper but it made Kotetsu’s heart flutter. Odd, he’d been almost mad at Barnaby before, had allowed Barnaby to make him angry. Yet it seemed to all be what Barnaby wanted.
Well, Barnaby was far from shy about making his wants known. Kotetsu felt Barnaby’s legs tightening around him. Then Barnaby dug his nails into Kotetsu’s shoulders. Kotetsu hissed. He shut his eyes and kept fucking Barnaby through the pain. Barnaby dug his nails in deeper.
“Ow!” Kotetsu grabbed Barnaby’s wrists, pushed them up over his head. Barnaby gasped as Kotetsu pulled out of him. Kotetsu ignored it.
“Stop that,” Kotetsu said. “Tell me what you want.”
Barnaby threw back his head and whimpered. “I want to lose my mind.”
Kotetsu sighed. He had no damn idea how to do that, and he was unsettled by the idea that everything they were doing still wasn’t enough for Barnaby to forget.
Maybe he needed a way to make Barnaby concentrate. Kotetsu took Barnaby’s right wrist and moved it down to Barnaby’s cock, had him wrap his fingers around it.
“Make yourself come,” Kotetsu said. “For every fifteen seconds you don’t, I’ll tickle you.”
Barnaby blinked and looked up at him. “What?”
Kotetsu darted a hand toward Barnaby’s stomach. Barnaby yelped and curled in on himself.
“Fine! I’ll do it.”
Barnaby spread his legs, planting his feet on the bed, and began to stroke his cock. Kotetsu grabbed onto Barnaby’s thighs and hoisted him up so Kotetsu could enter him again. As he started to fuck Barnaby again, he counted backwards from fifteen.
“Three … two …”
Kotetsu tickled Barnaby anyway, which made Barnaby jerk himself harder. He still failed a second time, then a third. By the fourth time his sounds of pleasure and anger were indistinguishable from each other. Kotetsu tried not to smile. Part of him felt bad for torturing Barnaby this way but it was also really, really fun.
Then after the fifth tickling, it began to happen. Barnaby’s moans became longer, more high-pitched. He started to snap his hips up toward Kotetsu, which felt wonderfully tight on Kotetsu’s cock. Kotetsu was very, very close, thought he was almost ready to come himself…
There was a noise and Kotetsu felt himself suddenly jolted backwards. He fell back onto the bed, a bit dazed. When he righted himself he saw Barnaby sitting at the top of the bed, his hands over his mouth, come splattered on his stomach and his body suffused in a blue glow.
“I’m sorry …” Barnaby said. “Kotetsu, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to do that …”
Kotetsu got on his hands and knees and crawled closer to Barnaby. His head felt like a fog had settled into his brain. He tried to say “What do you have to be sorry about?” but it came out as something far less coherent than that. He hadn’t come, and every nerve of his body seemed hell-bent on reminding him.
Kotetsu wiped his fingers along Barnaby’s abs. He stuck the come-stained fingers in his mouth, then felt a surge of warmth across his body as he activated his Hundred Power.
Barnaby’s mouth dropped open slightly. “You can’t be serious.”
“Serious?” Kotetsu chuckled. “It’ll be fun. Or can you not keep up with an old man?” He pointed his index finger and spun it around.
Barnaby snorted but turned around so he was on his hands and knees. He gripped the headboard. “You might be evil.”
Kotetsu laughed. He gripped hard onto Barnaby’s hips and pulled as he entered into him, fucking him hard.
The difference was immediate. The creaking of the bedframe echoed through the room like screams. The headboard slammed against the wall like a cannon. Barnaby, too, was much louder than before, punctuating each thrust with something that sounded close to a howl. He was much easier to fuck now, too. Kotetsu threw back his head and growled. It felt amazing.
“You see?” Kotetsu said. “You didn’t believe me. Now I’m really a Wild Tiger in the bedroom.”
Barnaby moaned loudly. “Why do you say such stupid, embarrassing things?” He strained again and the headboard cracked in two beneath his grip.
Kotetsu laughed again. He leaned over and licked the back of Barnaby’s neck. “You’re insatiable like a little bunny, too.”
“Will you shut—?” Barnaby gasped as Kotetsu gave him a slightly quicker thrust, then he stopped talking entirely.
It was fine. Kotetsu was finding it hard to speak himself. His orgasm gripped him all at once, so intense that he was starting to have second thoughts about this plan, but it was far too late. He almost screamed as he came, spurting his come into Barnaby, his vision a haze of blue.
He slumped onto the bed when it was over, feeling weak as the last of his power leeched out of him. The loss was enough to make him want to go to sleep, but he knew he couldn’t just yet. He looked at Barnaby and – hey, weren’t they closer to the floor? Kotetsu thought. They must have broken more than just the headboard.
Barnaby looked even more worn out than Kotetsu felt. He was covered in sweat, seemed to struggle to keep his eyes open. Kotetsu ran his fingers through Barnaby’s hair. Barnaby slapped his hand away.
“Do you have to destroy everything?” he snapped.
Kotetsu pouted. “What? I didn’t break the headboard!”
“It was your idea. You’re responsible.”
“Sheesh. It’s just a bed.”
Barnaby sniffed and reached for his glasses. “I paid a thousand Stern Bild for this bed,” he said as he put them on.
“A thousand Stern Bild and it can’t withstand two NEXTs?” Kotetsu scoffed and folded his palms behind the back of his head. “What a ripoff! I’d take it back, Bunny.”
“You’re buying me a new one!”
“I’ll pay half.”
“Kotetsu …” Barnaby hissed.
Barnaby sighed. “Fine.”
Kotetsu smiled. Whatever, he still thought it was worth it. He rolled his shoulders a bit and closed his eyes, shifting to avoid where the springs had sprung loose in the mattress. He felt warm in a way that he hadn’t for years. A momentary sadness struck him, and he was suddenly cognizant of the hard metal ring squeezed between his fingers. It was time, he thought at first, then rejected that. It wasn’t really “time.” There hadn’t been an hourglass turned when she’d been gone, and Barnaby didn’t just happen to be there when the sands had run out. All the events that happened after she had gone were what brought them together.
He turned to watch Barnaby move next to him on the bed. Barnaby kissed his cheek, laying his hand over Kotetsu’s heart as he did so.
“Thank you,” Barnaby said.
Kotetsu smiled and moved his left hand so he could lay it over Barnaby’s. “I really care about you,” he said.
He couldn’t say what that really meant yet either, but maybe that would come later.
Barnaby laid his head on Kotetsu’s shoulder and closed his eyes. He soon fell asleep, an uneasy smile on his face.