It’s after they dodged flurries of bullets, were almost caught dead in the explosion of their chasers, and ended up arresting the last perp on top of an electric billboard miles away from the initial scene of the crime that Barnaby decides it’s not the time to go home yet. Kotetsu is completely and utterly confused enough to stay on top of Fire Emblem kissing a Domino’s Pizza box to listen as to why they shouldn’t be speeding home at the moment. He’s trying not to limp on camera, cursing the NEXT that lit the motorcycle and sidecar, the whole fucking thing, on fire which ended with the older hero’s thigh getting slammed with debris once it blew up. But, he’s more concerned with the way his lover looks like he’s about to fall flat on his face at any moment, along with the fact that the young man may be sporting a few broken ribs.
In short, today was a little more than rough but didn’t completely qualify as an absolute shit show. The arrests were successful, hostages saved, and points earned.
Suddenly, spotlights from the two HeroTV helicopters are on them, cameras coming out from nowhere to capture them both at every angle possible. Kotetsu’s brows are still furrowed, staring at the blonde for answers who only gestures for him to take off the clunky suit. The older man presses the emergency release, sliding out from the open back of Wild Tiger who was now an unlit statue, Barnby’s the same. The younger man grins, walking forward to pull the mask off and letting it drop on the “floor” before putting some distance between them again.
Wild Tiger- well, now without the mask, Kotetsu Kaburagi, is still confused even as his partner smoothly lowers down on one knee before him. In the distance, he can hear some crowd going wild; screaming and hollering, cheering and whistling, all with frenzied clapping. Then there’s chanting for him to say ‘yes’- look, he knew what this was in the beginning in the back of his mind. He just couldn’t imagine being proposed to. The realization makes his eyes start to well up, staring at the ring presented before him in disbelief (he’ll have to ask Barnaby where he hid the box later).
The younger man has sentimental with a hint of ‘know it all’ mixed in his grin. “Do I even need to ask?”
What was surprising was how Kotetsu openly bursts into tears for a couple of seconds before covering his face in his hands. It was sweet and comedic, making their audience coo and laugh. Then he charges forward, his partner quickly standing up to properly catch his tight embrace. The older man shamelessly throws his arms around Barnaby's neck and kisses him like no one's watching before the ring is slid on. The last thing he did was look at the center camera and give a thumbs up, tears sliding down his cheeks. This night alone was going to make him live longer, he was sure of it.
Once returned in their suits, and as if the loyal viewers could get any louder, they get into their signature princess carry before the younger man hops of the billboard. Well, more like the blond surprises his partner with it who didn't mind it so much this time. It was just as the announcer says, “Looks like we have a wedding to look forward to, folks! Congratulations Wild Tiger and Barnaby!”
The other heroes looked up at them from afar, some with their jaws dropped. Fire Emblem squealed and then was dabbing a tear or two, a few of them were concerned whether this would earn them points. But, they clapped along with the faraway crowd, and thought about the wedding that they would all plan.
Their boss, however, was nothing but joyful as she watched the broadcast. Ratings and viewers would skyrocket- she was a simple woman married to her job. Oh, and a proper congratulations was in order. Putting a finger to her earpiece, she got in touch with Mario. “Announce a Q & A with them on Friday, now!”
“A special Q & A with our favorite duo will be on Friday, so stay tuned!”
The eldest of the Kaburagi family stared at the screen with their mouths half open, dinner falling off still forks, then Anju scrambled for the telephone while her son looked for the remote. Kaede only exclaimed a 'finally! What took them so long!?' before putting her clean dinner plate in the sink.
It took a couple tries before Kotetsu picked up the phone. The view he gave his folks wasn't of his red eyes that were still teary and the sappy grin on his face, his was a view of the ring. It was yellow gold, the top cut to look as if there were two interlocking loops. What was there not to love about it? Tomoe's ring was missing- maybe it would come home and be put on her shrine. Her husband did carry out his promise after all, and she would have wanted him to move on by now. “Like it? This is exactly the ring I would have picked out for him! This is not a joke, Ma!”
“Well I obviously saw the broadcast! You're lucky your daughter didn't faint! She was perfectly fine with the whole thing! Was she in on this?”
“No, she wasn't!” Barnaby says, the phone's camera unsteadily putting him into view. The young man was also comfortable in a bed, the cotton ball and tape in the crook of his arm visible. His curls were unruly and he had bags under his eyes. “Excuse me for asking you for your blessing on such short notice while looking the way I do. But...” He looked down for a moment, a smile tugging at his lips. “There's no one I'd rather be with.”
Anju's serious expression didn't change, causing some alarm in the hospital room. “Call me later with all the wedding plans or you're in trouble, young man.”
Muramasa doesn't even shift to show his face, leaving them both hearing from the background. “Hurt 'im, you're a dead man. Literally. Powers or not, I will fuck you u-” Then the phone was hung up.
“No pressure.” The older hero jokes before going back to fondly looking at his new ring. His wife's ring was shifted to his right hand for the time being, at least until he and his fiance returned to Oriental Town.
Barnaby only gave a breathless laugh, leaning back into the bed. “Yeah, 'no pressure'.” He hears sniffling. “Are you still crying?”
“Shut up.” His partner's voice breaks.
The rest of the week flew by, almost as up the city itself was too anxious to wait for Friday.
“Wild Tiger and Barnaby Brooks Jr., the famous dynamic duo of justice! From barely acquaintances to lovers, let’s see how it happened! Coming at you live from the studio, we have a HeroTV Special! For the twenty-two million citizens of Sternbild, the wait is over!”
“Presenting to you the heroes in love and recently engaged: Wild Tiger and Barnaby Broks Jr.!” Mario says, the spotlights revealing the two heroes with their TV personalities on, although Barnaby wore it a little better.
As the audience applauded, Mario shook both of their hands before motioning for them to take a seat in the black leather lounge chairs. Going back to his small desk, he taps the few cards he has on it as he takes a seat. The entire building silences.
“Well, that escalated quickly.” He comments, his guests and the audience breaking into laughter. “And to think, just a few years ago, Barnaby was asking Wild Tiger to not to touch him.” More laughter, Kotetsu feeling a little more relaxed. “So, why don’t we cut to the chase? How did it all happen? You both kept your relationship under wraps until late last year, so we never got any idea.”
Barnaby answered first, his partner glad that he did so. “Throughout our partnership we became extremely close. We ended up developing feelings for each other as time went on.”
“How did you know that you were in love?”
“F-For me, at least, it started with noticing the little things, besides for realizing that I can’t live without this person, but,” He waited for the collective ‘aw’ to cease, his face heating up and regrets flying through his head. “I mean, this is going to sound so dorky and not a big deal, but he carries around one of my epinephrine pens. I’m severely allergic to bees, so every summer that I have to order them, he takes one.” The audience cooing as Barnaby slides one out of his pocket. “The fact that he does this has always moved me a lot.” He says with a sappy grin but still obviously not over some of the shyness he has for the camera.
The younger man answered next once the attention shifted. “Shortly after we retired, he went back to his hometown and I missed him more than anything. So, when he surprised me with coming back to the city, I was overjoyed and made my comeback as well.”
Agreeing with the audience, “That’s incredibly sweet. Another thing that a lot of our audience wants to know is who confessed first.”
Collective laughter began when Kotetsu’s hands flew up to briefly cover his reddening face as his partner proudly answered, “I did, sort of.”
“Sort of?” Mario asks.
The duo looked at each other for the answer, but realized neither of them had one. But, Kotetsu beat Barnaby to the punch. “We’re not sure who confessed first, really, but I may have been the one. It started just by saying ‘I love you’ before hanging up the phone or leaving which I have a habit of doing when I’m with someone I...love.” He felt his cheeks flare, looking away from touched eyes. “Sorry, I don’t know how else to put it.”
“Was it a romantic ‘I love you’ or a platonic one?”
“Does it matter?” Barnaby challenges, still with a smile on his face but an eyebrow raised. “We didn’t put a label on it. It was just the definition.” A few romantic sighs. “After a while, I wanted more and so did he. It's as simple as that.”
“I absolutely couldn’t believe it when he told me.” The older man.
His partner groaned slightly upon remembering. “We went in circles about it for thirty minutes straight. He asked me several times if it was a prank. It was ridiculous.”
“No it wasn't!”
“Yes it was.”
Kotetsu glared at him. “Well then let's ask them!” He gestured towards their audience. “Did any of you think that we would ever be together, let alone be getting married!?”
A little more than half yelled 'yes!', making the veteran throw his head back in exasperation.
Trying not to laugh, Mario switch his note cards around. “Moving on, our viewers want to know some activities you do as a couple.”
“We do activities normal couples would do. Though, we're both homebodies, so we tend to do stuff at home when we get a chance. Watching movies, cooking, letting him mildly annoy me-”
“Hey!” The brunette protests, waiting for the laughter to die down. “I mildly annoy him just as much as he mildly annoys me.” Kotetsu laughs slightly as the audience does so, realizing what he just said. Barnaby shakes head while wearing an amused grin.
The host’s eyebrows raise. “Really? Do tell!”
“He will sometimes pick me up randomly, for no reason at all. Like, I could be in the kitchen making coffee and suddenly gravity doesn’t apply.” Mario puts a hand to his mouth as he laughs, Barnaby looking away as he does so. “Last night for example! I got up from my desk to leave for the day and I was just standing there waiting for him to close up shop. When he’s done, he slowly leans forward, hugs me around the waist, and stands up. At that moment, I knew that I was betrayed.” He throws his head back this time. “He carried me over his shoulder all the way out to the car. Again, just for shits and giggles? I don’t know!”
Barnaby chuckled out a, “Yeah, that's exactly why!”
“What else? I could listen to this all day! How about you guys?” The audience cheered in response.
“If I have to leave the bed while he’s still in it for any reason, he will trap me.” A pause with a little disbelief. “I’m serious! He’ll roll over on my arm and I almost can’t tug it out from under him, or there will be a sudden death grip on me and I’m dragged back into bed like in Paranormal Activity!”
“Where do you need to go?” Barnaby asks jokingly, his partner only answers with laughter that was drowned out by everyone else.
“What about you, Barnaby?” Mario asks. “How does Wild Tiger mildly annoy you?”
“Oh, boy,” Laughter, the brunette looking back at him with a faux, loving smile. “It honestly would take all day to list the ways...Besides for making terrible puns, there are many times where, if I’m working on something, he will not only get in between what I’m doing and myself, but he will make it difficult to finish whatever I was working on. He once snatched a book out of my hand, threw it across the room, and then hugged me for ten minutes.” There was a collective ‘aw’, blonde brows furrowed at the culprits of the sound. “Why are you encouraging him? Anyway, besides that, if we’re eating dinner together, he will steal one or two bites off my plate just because he’s able to do so.”
“Okay, first of all,” A pause to wait for the laughter to die down. “Someone has to come get you or you will work yourself to death. Second, you provide me with all of those opportunities to be this annoying. How can you provide me with tools and not expect me to use them?”
There's giggling and an applause, the host looking at the nearest camera to announce the commercial break. “We'll be right back after this!”
It was almost midnight by the time the two heroes stumbled into their shared home that rested on Gold Stage and overlooked the shore. The silence from their absence made the sound of waves crashing barely audible. The city's lights of life kept the place barely lit, their shadows cast on the doormat and hardwood floor as soon as the door opened wide enough. Kotetsu tossed his hat on the coat hanger, hissing a 'yes' when it landed perfectly on one of the hooks. In tow, Barnaby turned on the foyer's warm lights and closed the door behind them.
“I'm gonna go take a shower.” The older man announces as he toes off his dress oxfords which makes the younger man cringe. “C'mon, no one on TV or anywhere else is going to notice the heels of my shoes.” He throws over his shoulder, making for the stairs.
“Wait a minute.” Barnaby says suddenly, making his partner pause on the second step.
Amber eyes looked worried. “Is something wrong? I didn't say something stupid, did I?”
“No, no you didn't. I'm surprised you talked at all.” He gives a temporary half smile. “But...did you really think that I wasn't going to marry you?”
Kotetsu's face became serious too, now shifting around to sit down. “Well...no.” He answers like it couldn't be more obvious.“I never thought you'd want to.”
“Why would you?”
They stared at each other for a couple seconds, waiting for answers. Barnaby ends up giving in. “Because I can't be without you. You're everything to me, you...Did I not express this? Have I given you the impression that I didn't-”
“No! Not at all!” The veteran exclaims, now seeing how his question sounded. “It's not about you...it's about me. I just don't see the good in you being with me. I guess, I don't see what you see, if that makes any sense...” He stands, walking towards his lover. “I'm not anyone special, I'm untalented, I'm not even attractive, we're a decade apart, I'm a father of a little girl who's about to be in middle school. But you...you can have anything and anyone you want. I just don't get why I'm your first pick.” Setting clammy palms on blazer clad shoulders before him. “You have redefined love for me. You love me in a way that I have never experienced before. Even if this does sound cheesy and even if the others were just joking when they said it, but I do think you're my soulmate. I'm just not...entirely sure why.” He dropped his hands, nervously waiting for the response.
Barnaby ran his fingers through his hair. “You're still worried about this?”
“Still?” He asks, genuinely confused as he's being pulled close to his fiance by his waist.
“This was our first argument, remember?” He almost has this reminiscent smile, looking down at his partner fondly. “Listing all the untrue reasons as to why you weren't good for me. Besides for having a daughter and being a decade apart...but even then, you're wrong. We're only nine and a half years.”
Kotetsu snorts into laughter. “Why do you know that?” He looks down, trying to hide his eyes welling up from view. “...why do you know that?” His tears finally fell, making his lover's heart ache.
“Why are you still emotional?” He questions jokingly, pulling the older man into a hug. “I want an actual answer this time. I'm not just being a smartass.”
The older man lifted his head, not caring about the tear tracks forming on his cheeks or the pinkness in his eyes. “Wow...can't believe you admit that you're a smartass. Has Christmas come early this year?”
“I hate you.”
“Aw, I hate you too, dear.” He says warmly, still crying. “I'm just happy and still can't believe that this is happening. Besides that, I don't know why I keep crying...maybe I'm very pregnant.”
Barnaby held either side of his fiance's face, his thumbs brushing away tears, laughing as he did so. “Shut up. I regret asking now.”
“Don't deny your unborn child.”
The younger man chose to not acknowledge that or even confirm that his partner was going to take a shower. He simply picked Kotetsu up, ignoring his protests as he traveled up the stairs.