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D R A M A

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“You love ‘im, don’t you?”

Everything in Barnaby’s world that day stopped. He wasn’t even talking to anyone, no one said this to him, he just overheard that question when he walked into work that morning. He stopped just before the security gate and looked over his shoulder wide-eyed for whoever said that. The woman who probably was the culprit was on her cellphone, walking out the doors.

“Mr. Brooks?” The guard called, pulling the hero out.

As soon as Barnaby looked back at what he was doing, the world continued. Time wasn’t slowed down, the noises of a busy morning carried on, and the bright light dimmed. The warm wind created from the door closing further brought him back to Apollon, even as the gust brushed lightly through his curls. His pale fingers were still clutching his keycard as he was just about to hand it over to be scanned.

“Oh, sorry.” He mumbled, finally letting the guard do his job.

He walked briskly to the elevators, and was contemplating taking the stairs because he knows what’s going to happen on the ride up. That damn question was going to circle around in his head a thousand times like an annoying, buzzing fly. He walks into the empty box anyway, eyebrows furrowed in thought as the doors closed, green eyes looking at his recently polished shoes. The only thing that didn’t go back to normal was the pounding of his heart.

“That’s because it’s true,” His brain said, talking to him as if he were an idiot. “You do love him. You have for a long time and didn’t realize it. Aren’t you supposed to be the smart one?”

Heaving a sigh, the elevator dinged- time to get to work.

“Oh, hey!” Kotetsu greets once his partner arrives to his desk. “Look who made it early!”

“I must be dreaming then or you’re an imposter.” Barnaby feels the tongue being stuck out at him from that remark as he sits down. “Have an interview or something?”

“Well, sorta.”

The younger man looks at him this time, not keen on waiting for the bad news. He even spun his chair around to face him. “...what did you do?”

“Nothing!”

Green eyes narrowed, his arms crossing.

“I’m serious! I didn’t do anything! I just...got a job offer.” And before his partner could raise a little hell, “I’m not quitting! One of the company’s casting directors wanted to see me for a new movie that’s coming out next summer. She thinks I’d be perfect for the part, but...”

“You’re not sure.”

“Yeah. She says that my look and me being bilingual is exactly what the director and the writers are looking for.” Then he sighs defeatedly. “But I suck at anything ‘performing arts’ related and it’s gonna be so much work. ” He whined.

“Hey,” Barnaby says suddenly in a stern tone. “Your poor performing arts skills were enough to fool me and everyone around you for months, if not the entire time you worked here.”

Kotetsu rolled his eyes, knowing that he was talking about the whole thing with his powers and showing up during the Martinez fight. “Oh, wow, thank you.” He spits sarcastically as he folds his arms on his desk to rest his head on them.

His partner snorted, opening up his laptop. “I think you should go for it.”

The veteran’s head pops up. “Huh?”

“It would be a good experience for you. Besides, you’re in need of a popularity boost with our younger audience. Kaede would love it too.” The reflection of the screen scrolling through documents lightly swiped on his glasses. “And it’s not like you’ve never acted before. Last year, you played the voice of the fox in that kid’s movie.”

The part that made him really consider doing it was his daughter loving it. In thought he lightly scratched the tip of his nose out of habit. “You may be right.” He mumbled.

“I’m always right. Now, stop complaining and do the paperwork you’ve been ignoring.”

Although mocking the last part Barnaby said, the older man opened his laptop as well.

Little did the rookie know that he’d come to regret those words.

Just a little.

At midnight, a red cellphone sitting lonely on a modern nightstand glows and rings it’s loudest tone. For Kotetsu’s contact, its owner put his calls as the only one to break the silent mode with the loudest, blaring tone. This was only in case of a problem-

Barnaby finally sits up, quickly snatching his cell and answering as soon as he could. Out of breath and worried, “Hello? Everything okay?”

Kotetsu makes this breathless laugh, oblivious to his partner’s worried tone. “...I got the part!”

“What?”

“I got the part! For the movie, remember?”

The blonde breathes a sigh of relief, but inhaled irritation. “Weren’t they going to give it to you anyway?” Had the same tone of, ‘don’t you have any idea what time it is?’.

“That’s the thing! They were considering another actor before me. I met up with the casting director, she had me say a few lines in front of the whole team, and they gave it to me right then and there!” He laughed again. “It’s a leading role too! They didn’t tell me that part.”

“Well, congratulations. I was sleeping, so we can talk about this more tomorrow, okay?”

“Oh, yeah, sorry, Bunny. I’m really excited and you’re the first person I called! I had to tell somebody! Now, go sleep, you’re always sleep deprived. Love you, bye!” The phone is abruptly hung up before Barnaby could even say his goodbyes back.

As soon as he reaches to put it back down, it rings again.

“What?” He asks, now not trying to even partly hide his annoyance.

“I have to get my ears pierced tomorrow.” The older man says in a rush, almost like he was admitting something he didn’t want to. “I forgot to tell you-”

Barnaby knew there was more to just that. “And?”

“You’re coming with me!” Then the phone was hung up for the night, Barnaby sighing into the silence before putting his phone back.

He felt himself smiling when laid back down, feeling all the warm and fuzzy feelings he tries to ignore. As soon as he’s on the cusp of sleep, ‘love you’ echoes in his head.

Green eyes open again.

Three o’clock the next sunny day inside an overpriced tattoo parlor with red painted walls. Kotetsu sat nervously in the client’s black chair. His partner was sitting in an uncomfortable, waiting-room chair next to him, trying to ignore the metal music that was a little too loud. From reviews, this was the best place for any kind of body modifications, although it looked a little sketchy.

“So, why are you getting your ears pierced, again?” Barnaby asks, not remembering there being an explanation.

The brunet nervously drummed his fingers on the arms of the leather seat. “The character I’m playing. He looks like a real hoodlum- grew up around pirates, I think.” He watched the young employee set up all the various sharp tools on the table close to him. “The director’s having me do this now so I’m all healed by the time we film.” His eyes widened a little when he saw latex gloves being put on. “Didn’t think it’d be too bad until my mother told me how much it hurt.”

“Wouldn’t it have been easier to get them pierced closer to filming and then just use your powers?”

“Yep. I thought of that. But, I don’t know how much it’ll heal-” A wet cotton ball began cleaning Kotetsu’s ear lobes with alcohol. “Ha, that is cold. Or how much it’ll regenerate. I don’t want to have to go through this again.”

Sheila or Shay, the older man couldn’t remember her name, pulled up a metal clamp. She smiled and sweetly said, “Please turn your head this way for me.” Before using the tool to pinch the hero’s ear.

“Oh, shit, it’s happening.” Kotetsu mumbled, his hand reaching for Barnaby who grabbed it. Their hands clasped tightly together, and now the younger man realizes why he had to tag along.

It was just the veteran’s luck to get hit in the ear with some child’s ball on the way back to the company.