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It's Not A Competition

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Kotetsu scowled down at the glossy front cover of a magazine propped up on the edge of the small shop’s check-out counter. It was purposely flashy, difficult to work out with all the bubbles and text and arrows pointing to nonspecific things with vague labels. But there, plastered on the front cover as the main picture, was a shot of Kotetsu and Barnaby suited in their armor, as close as the suits will allow, and facing each other; Kotetsu’s hand rested on Barnaby’s shoulder, and though it was blocked by the angle of the shot, Kotetsu knew Barnaby’s hands were on his chest and holding his waist.

“You can look at the picture even longer if you buy it,” the shopkeeper said, and Kotetsu suddenly recalled that he was in a store, a public place, and there was a quiet young man waiting patiently behind him.

“Oh.” Kotetsu reached into his pocket and pulled out some spare change as he grabbed the magazine and his bag. “Thank you!”

“Wait, your change—!” The shopkeeper’s yell was cut off when Kotetsu slipped out the door.

He stuffed the magazine into his bag and managed to withhold from attempting to read and walk at the same time on the busy streets of Stern Bild. When he arrived home, he quickly tossed the bag onto the table and spread the magazine out.

It wasn’t like the picture itself was a shock. He knew exactly when it had happened. There had been a particularly brutal fire eating through a building on the Bronze Stage, and the heroes had been called in. Kotetsu disregarded all of Agnes’s warnings about structural integrity to pull one last woman trapped beneath a fallen beam out the window with him. He set her down with the EMTs before realizing Bunny was nowhere to be seen.

Blue Rose kept him from leaping back into the turmoil of the building as it slowly collapsed inward on itself, piece by piece. He went to move and found his foot frozen to the ground. He yelled at Fire Emblem to burn him out, that Bunny was still in there. Blue Rose put a hand on her hip and gave him a cold look.

It was a terrifying few moments when nothing happened, and the only things Kotetsu could hear were the rumbles of the falling building and the thundering of his own heart. But then there was a loud crash, and Bunny dropped to the ground from one of the windows with a small boy in his arms. Paramedics swarmed them both, and Blue Rose didn’t release him until she assured they were done.

Kotetsu charged between Barnaby and Blue Rose and pulled Barnaby close. He was asking a flood of questions into their shared mic – Barnaby’s was down, apparently, as were other effects from his armor – but he was alive.

When his mask came up, the first thing Barnaby said was, “I couldn’t hear you either,” and Kotetsu realized that Barnaby was probably just as terrified as he was. His hand rested over Kotetsu’s heart. Kotetsu had no intentions of letting him go.

To him, the pose seemed undeniably romantic – hand over his heart, his and Bunny’s arms on each other’s waist – but apparently that was not what Heart Focus Heroes Magazine saw.


The picture had managed to capture Blue Rose in the background, her eyes wide as she took in the two of them staring at each other.

Yeah, he had shoved Blue Rose away from Barnaby, but it was so he could get to Barnaby after she had prevented him from doing so.

He flipped the magazine open, skimmed the table of contents, and flew to the page where the main article was held.

There, splayed across a two-page spread, was the full title of the article again, and then:

It appears our two favorite Heroes may have had a slight falling out.

Yesterday, a raging fire broke out in the Bronze Stage, and the Heroes rushed in to save the citizens of Stern Bild. During the chaos, it appears that partners Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks, Jr. lost track of each other, and Wild Tiger emerged first from the scene.

After landing, Wild Tiger appears to have exchanged words with Blue Rose, followed by Blue Rose freezing his foot to the ground. Could he have made an advance the Queen of Ice didn’t take too kindly to? Or did his rash antics in the dangerous situation cause turmoil in his girlfriend’s heart?

Not long after this exchange, Barnaby Brooks, Jr. landed on the scene with a citizen he handed over to medical professionals. Blue Rose immediately descended upon him, and the two can be seen in the photograph to the right exchanging words very close together. Perhaps stating “I love you’s” following the brush with danger?

Yeah, they were standing close, because Bunny’s mic had been broken! Kotetsu’s scowl deepened.

It appears we were not the only ones to notice this, either! Immediately after being unfrozen from the ground, Wild Tiger charged at the pair and broke between them, grabbing Barnaby Brooks, Jr. by the shoulders and dragging him close. It almost looks like Wild Tiger went from potential love interest for Blue Rose to protective father figure sensing a potential romance between her and Barnaby Brooks, Jr.

Well, that was entirely wrong, he relented. Blue Rose was far too young to have a boyfriend, especially one as old as Barnaby. Maybe she could date Ivan… in a few years.

We will be waiting anxiously to see what new drama unfolds on Hero TV following this blatant show of emotion. Is there a love triangle between Blue Rose and her suitors, Barnaby Brooks, Jr. and Wild Tiger? Or does Wild Tiger sense the developing romance between the two and has stepped in as a parental figure to keep them apart? If so, will their romance survive?

“Why are you reading a tabloid?”

Kotetsu jumped, hurriedly trying to stuff the magazine away, but Barnaby snatched it from his hands before he could move so much as an inch. Kid was always too fast.

Barnaby glanced over the article, an eyebrow arching, and then he chuckled and tossed it to the side.

“What?” Kotetsu asked.

“Nothing,” Barnaby said. “It’s just – it takes power, really, to be that oblivious.” He gave Kotetsu a wide grin.

“None of it bothers you?” Kotetsu asked warily.

Barnaby shrugged it off. “Of course not,” he said. “I’m used it.”

“But… Blue Rose? I mean, would you—?”



“I’m gay.”

“Oh, yeah.”

Barnaby looked back down at the magazine, gleaming on the countertop. “It does get some things right though,” he relented.


“You are a good father figure for Blue Rose.” Barnaby’s smile was warm now, and directed entirely at Kotetsu, and he felt like he had just stepped outside into the sun. “I’m relieved to know you’d kick my ass if I so much as flirted with her.”

“Oh, I’d kill you,” Kotetsu agreed.

“That’s sweet,” Barnaby deadpanned.

Barnaby stepped away from the counter, tossing his bag on the couch as he walked around Kotetsu into the kitchen. Kotetsu glanced back down at the magazine, and asked, “So, is their romance going to survive?”

“Oh, sure,” Barnaby said. “I think Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks, Jr. are going to be together for a long time to come.”