Barnaby's doorbell rang at a quarter past midnight, and his immediate thought was that something had happened to Kotetsu.
By the time he'd crossed his apartment, a half-dozen worst-case scenarios danced through his head. Barnaby took a deep breath, steeled himself as best he could, and opened the door.
He had only just registered that Antonio was standing in the hallway with Kotetsu beside him when Kotetsu gleefully shouted, "Bunny!"
A split second later, he had a very drunk, very cuddly Kotetsu wrapped around him, burying his face in Barnaby's neck.
Barnaby's arms automatically went around him, and he tried to reconcile this—Kotetsu here and apparently fine—with the cold dread he'd felt at hearing his doorbell ring. "What are you doing here? It's after midnight."
You gave me a heart attack, he did not say.
"I wanted to see you," Kotetsu said, his voice slurred and muffled. "Wanted to say good night."
"Sorry," Antonio said, his voice much less slurred, although by the glassy look in his eyes, he wasn't any less drunk than Kotetsu. "He gets really clingy when he's drunk."
Kotetsu started playing with the hair at the back of Barnaby's neck.
"So I noticed," Barnaby said dryly.
"We were about to leave the bar and he wanted to see you," Antonio said. "I told him we should call, but he wanted it to be a surprise."
Barnaby glared at him. "And neither of you stopped to think that visiting someone after midnight usually means something bad has happened?"
Antonio looked appropriately cowed. Kotetsu either didn't hear him or didn't care, because he only snuggled even more onto Barnaby.
Which, Barnaby could admit, he didn't really mind.
"I can take him home," Antonio said apologetically.
Kotetsu felt like he was falling asleep, given the way his body was getting gradually heavier. Barnaby shook his head. "It's fine. He can stay here. I'll take him home tomorrow." He frowned. "Are you okay to get home?"
Antonio waved the question away. "Oh yeah, we took a cab to get here. It's still downstairs."
That, at least, was good. "Thank you for bringing him here. I know it was pretty far out of your way."
Antonio scoffed. "Please. This isn't even close to the hardest thing he's asked me to do while he's drunk."
"Oh?" Barnaby asked.
Antonio's eyes widened, like he realized he'd said something he shouldn't have, and he rubbed the back of his neck. "Oh, uh, nothing. Don't worry about it," he said quickly. "Have a good night, Barnaby."
With that, he was on his way back to the elevator, leaving Barnaby vaguely confused and still holding Kotetsu.
He sighed and shuffled back so he could close his door, pulling Kotetsu along with him.
Kotetsu clung to him tighter. "Mm, Bunny, dance with me."
"You're falling asleep on me," Barnaby said.
"No, I'm not," Kotetsu said, and then immediately yawned right in Barnaby's ear.
Barnaby rolled his eyes.
"I'm not," Kotetsu said again, and this time, he straightened and dropped one hand to Barnaby's waist.
His face was flushed and he smelled overwhelmingly like whiskey, but he smiled like the hopelessly romantic idiot he was and Barnaby was done for.
He laced his fingers with Kotetsu's free hand and slid his other hand to Kotetsu's shoulder. "Fine. We can dance."
Kotetsu lit up like the damn sun, and Barnaby fell a little more in love with him.
He didn't bother to point out that there wasn't any music; it didn't seem like that would've been a deterrent to Kotetsu, anyway. They swayed in the middle of his apartment, close enough together that Barnaby could rest his forehead on Kotetsu's and close his eyes.
He had very little frame of reference for what a relationship was supposed to look like. He remembered bits and pieces of his parents' marriage, but so much of that was lost to time. Based on books and movies, he'd always thought a relationship would be more about grand gestures and declarations, but so far, his and Kotetsu's had been more like this: small, private moments where they were simply together.
It filled a void in him that Barnaby hadn't even realized he'd had before they'd started dating. But then again, he'd apparently had a Kotetsu-shaped hole in his life for years and hadn't known it.
They danced together until Kotetsu drooped against him once again. Barnaby kissed his temple. "We should go to bed."
Kotetsu pulled back and grinned. "We should."
Barnaby recognized that grin. "To sleep," he clarified. "I'm not having sex with you after you've been drinking for four hours."
"Bunnyyyy," Kotetsu whined.
Barnaby was not even remotely moved. "What's my real name?"
Barnaby scoffed. "My real name, old man."
"Barnaby," Kotetsu said. "Brooks. Kaburagi."
"The last one is your last name, not mine."
"Could be yours," Kotetsu murmured. "If you wanted."
Barnaby froze. Had Kotetsu just—? "What?" he asked, to be certain he'd heard right.
Kotetsu let go of him and backed away, eyes darting off to the corner of the room. He scrubbed a hand through his dark hair and chuckled. "Heh. I've had more to drink than I thought. You're right. We should get some sleep."
He disappeared into the bedroom before Barnaby could recover. A moment later, he heard the rush of water from the shower.
Barnaby stared after him, trying to parse what he'd said. He was fairly sure, in some roundabout way, Kotetsu had just proposed. And then...taken it back?
They'd only been dating officially for a few months, although sometimes Barnaby wondered if it hadn't actually been since the Jake incident. That was when he'd realized, consciously, how much he wanted Kotetsu to be in his life, and he was pretty sure Kotetsu had felt it then as well, although it had taken him longer to come around to the idea.
And if he were being perfectly honest with himself, if he'd thought the answer would've been "yes," he'd have asked Kotetsu to marry him instead of just asking him on a date.
Barnaby got a glass of water from the kitchen and set it on the bathroom counter, and then folded the clothes Kotetsu had left scattered on the floor and set them on top of the toilet. "Be sure to drink this water before you go sleep," he ordered.
"I'll be fine," Kotetsu said from the shower, in the tone that Barnaby recognized as meaning he would do exactly what had been requested as soon as Barnaby wasn't looking.
He went back out into the living room and finished turning everything off and putting things away; he'd been just about ready to head to bed, anyway, when the doorbell had rung.
By the time he got back into his bedroom, Kotetsu was already curled up in bed. Barnaby flipped off the light in the bathroom and crawled in behind him. He hesitated for only a moment before he put his arm around him, and Kotetsu melted back into him with a sigh.
Barnaby pressed his nose into Kotetsu's damp hair and pulled him closer. He loved this, loved falling asleep with Kotetsu, loved holding him or being held. It didn't entirely stop the nightmares he still struggled with, but it did make it easier to fall back asleep when he woke up with Kotetsu's arms around him and his rough voice saying, "Hey, Bunny, are you okay?"
It was just one of the many, many reasons he loved him; one of the many, many reasons he would do anything to keep Kotetsu in his life.
"I'd say yes," Barnaby whispered. "If you ever asked me for real, I'd say yes in a heartbeat. You're it for me, Kotetsu. You have been for years."
As he'd expected, there was no response except for deep, even breathing.
Barnaby smiled to himself, kissed the back of Kotetsu's head, and settled in to sleep.
Kotetsu woke up and had absolutely no idea where he was. Damn it. He hadn't had that much to drink last night, had he?
He rubbed his eyes and opened them again; this time, it clicked that he was in Bunny's bedroom.
He had a fuzzy memory of telling Antonio he wanted to see Bunny to say good night, a few vague flashes of riding in a cab, and the next thing he remembered with real clarity was hugging Bunny. He'd honestly thought it was a dream.
Huh. Antonio had actually listened to him for once.
He rolled onto his other side. Bunny was sitting up in bed beside him, glasses on and typing at his laptop. Of course he was already working.
Kotetsu tucked his arm under his head and studied Bunny's face, the long lashes and blond curls and how severe he looked when he was concentrating on something. Bunny really was beautiful, and it didn't feel like Kotetsu got a lot of chances to appreciate that. Sure, they spent a lot of time together, but so much of it was while they were at work and he had other things to focus on. It was nice to have a moment to lay here and just watch Bunny without having to think about anything else.
"How are you feeling?" Bunny asked, without taking his eyes off his computer.
"I'm fine," Kotetsu said. "Believe it or not, I know how to handle my liquor."
Bunny's lips twitched. "And how much do you remember from last night?"
Kotetsu scoffed. "I wasn't that drunk."
"You thought my name was Bunny-chan," Bunny said dryly.
"I was teasing!"
"Mm-hmm." Bunny didn't sound convinced. "Then you remember we're engaged?"
Kotetsu choked on nothing. "We're what?!"
"Engaged," Barnaby repeated. "Unless there was something else you meant when you asked me if I wanted your last name?"
"I..." Kotetsu started, but he didn't really have an answer.
That was what he'd meant, but it was too soon to ask. They hadn't been together that long; it was too soon to suggest marriage, even though Kotetsu had been thinking about it for weeks. When he fell, he fell hard and fast and he didn't waver; it was one of the reasons he genuinely hadn't expected to ever find this again.
But he also knew most people weren't like that, and he didn't want Bunny to feel pressured. Things were perfect the way they were, and Kotetsu didn't want to change anything about their relationship.
He'd hoped Bunny hadn't picked up on what his comment had meant, but of course he had. Bunny was too smart for that. Then again, saying "my name could be yours, too" wasn't really subtle.
"Did you mean it?" Bunny asked quietly.
Kotetsu's first reaction was to brush it off, to say he'd been drunk and just saying things. But despite popular belief, he could learn from his mistakes, and one of the things he'd learned over the past few years was that Lying To Bunny was Bad.
"I didn't mean to ask you like that," he finally grumbled.
Bunny raised his eyebrows. "By telling me I could have your last name and immediately taking it back?"
"I didn't take it back!" Kotetsu said.
"You didn't wait to hear an answer."
Oh, that was a lie. "Your answer was 'what'."
Bunny shut his laptop and turned his full disapproving scowl on Kotetsu. "Because I didn't think I'd heard you properly. And then you ran away."
"I told you I didn't mean to ask you like that!" Kotetsu buried his face in the pillow. "Proposals should be more romantic."
"I don't need romantic," Bunny said.
"Yes, you do." Kotetsu lifted his face back up. "You deserve romantic."
Bunny stared down at him, a small, wondering smile on his face. "You're hopeless," he finally said.
By now, Kotetsu knew what that meant. He grinned. "I know."
"I'll say yes," Bunny said. "Just so you know."
Kotetsu's heart thudded hard. "You will?"
"Of course I will," Bunny said frankly, like it was impossible to suggest otherwise.
Okay. Kotetsu had to kiss him now. He ran his hand up Bunny's arm and tugged at him until Bunny put his laptop away and bent down.
Bunny kissed cautiously at first, like he wasn't sure what to do with it, because he never knew how to handle it when he wasn't perfect at something and even after two months, he was still unsure about kissing. It always took some coaxing to get him to relax and just go with it, and this, at least, was an area where Kotetsu felt fairly confident.
You don't have to be perfect, he tried to say. I like it when you aren't. I love you, Bunny-chan, just like you are. You don't have to try to be anything else with me.
He didn't feel like he was very good with words most of the time, but he did his best to show it so that Bunny would know. He needed Bunny to know.
You're important to me. This is important to me. And I want this, every day, for the rest of my life. For the rest of our lives.
Maybe he wasn't asking today or even tomorrow, but someday soon he would. Someday soon, he'd figure out how to say it right, how to say it romantically, how to give Bunny the proposal he deserved, how to make it clear just what Bunny meant to him in a way that Bunny would understand.
But for now...
For right now, lazy morning kisses and a promise for the future would have to be enough.