It had become a habit of theirs on long days. The days where work took up all of their time, never letting them rest until most of the stores had closed up and the only thing left for them to do was either go to some 24 hour fast food restaurant or go home. They knew there was more though. More to the night than the faint sound of sirens and the dim light in the streets.
They’d walk along the sidewalk, sometimes in silence, sometimes chatting quietly, always appreciating the calm, a rarity in their turbulent lives. Kotetsu would lead Barnaby to new places every day it would seem. Little beautiful gems, small hiding spaces, places they’d never visit on any normal day. Or maybe they would. Still, it was those small moments that Barnaby thought back to whenever he needed an escape.
To anyone else, Kotetsu’s fascination with the world, and his love for the town would seem childish. His behaviour could easily be mistaken for naivety or ignorance. To Barnaby however, this trait was just one of the things he’d grown to understand. Kotetsu was smart, brave, loyal, and so many more things that people never gave him credit for. This man would do anything for those he loved, and Barnaby understood why Kotetsu was always acting so ‘childishly’ about the most boring things.
It was an escape. A way for him to bring a smile to everyone’s faces. After the worst days, Kotetsu would always try his hardest to make the other heroes smile. He never wanted them to dwell on pain. He knew that feeling all too well. In the darkest hours of the night, a drink in his hand, he may have confessed that if he had dwelled on the pain, he’d never have lived. Barnaby would remind him that he’d gone through so much loss, that a small amount of pain wouldn’t kill the others. Kotetsu would smile sadly and shake his head.
“That’s not the point.” He would say. Eventually Barnaby came to understand that Kotetsu was simply keeping a promise.
And so now, they walk in the dark, until they reach an empty park with nothing but a swing set in the middle. A new hiding spot. Another escape. Kotetsu drags him over, insisting that he sit so that he can push him. Barnaby will roll his eyes, affectionately call him an idiot, but sit down nonetheless. Kotetsu will push him, gently, as Barnaby swings higher and higher off the ground.
Back and forth, he’ll begin to smile.
Back and forth, Kotetsu will laugh.
Back and forth, Barnaby will laugh along with him.
Back and forth, their troubles will leave them, if only for a little while.
And as Kotetsu slows his movements to a stop, they’ll sit in comfortable silence, before Barnaby rises from the swing to turn and hug him.
“Thank you.” He’ll mumble into the soft material of Kotetsu’s shirt. Kotetsu will hug him a bit tighter, but say nothing. If he did, he might give away his own pain. Barnaby knows that later in the night, he’ll be dwelling on his pain again. The blond will still be awake, even if Kotetsu thinks he’s asleep. He always is. And like every night, he’ll roll over and hug the older male close, a gesture that always seems to relax him.
Barnaby will begin to drift off soon after, and he knows Kotetsu will soon follow. The brunet is always easy to read, at least to him. As the sounds of the city at night begin to fade, he’ll never tell a single soul, but he could swear he hears a soft female voice tell him “thank you”.