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Name Calling

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"Ouroboros" was the whisper, the chant of vengeance that filled my home and left me feeling bitter as I drifted off to sleep, sinking into my dreams like a stone through water. It was a name I detested with every fiber of my being, and it consumed my life and soul in a thirst for righteous destruction. All of my dreams had been engulfed in flames of wrath, fire that danced behind my eyes at my most ferocious moments. It is a name that torments me with its worst nightmares, and chains me to a loving past that I will never be able to reclaim. My parents will never live again because of Ouroboros, and that was all the more reason to hold onto my hatred.

"Barnaby" is the reply wrenched away from the fire. It is the name I donned in honor of my parent's memory, one that reminds me of happy days visiting their workplace, and loving nights spent listening to their bedtime stories. It is a name of persistence, a name that screams in the face of the man who thought he had right to define their mortality with a gunshot, a name that asserts that my parents cannot be forgotten, that their legacy lives on through me. It is a war cry against him, to declare that if the snake dares to bite, the rabbit will bite back harder.

"Bunny" was its cheap, crappy response.

It was a name of mockery, and three wasted minutes of waiting. It was name of utter disregard, contempt, and pettiness. It was a name formed by an immature, unthinking partner waving his hands over his head. It was a retort against the nickname I'd branded him with: "Old Man", but still young at heart as I came to find out, still valiant and optimistic despite hardship, ever enduring of the struggles that come with living life while accepting someone else's death. There was a commonality of loss between us, but a disparity of loneliness. My fire snuffs out at times when I try to focus on points, leaving me void of light and full of ashes. Somehow, he made his way in between work hours, swept away the burnt dust, and lit me up once again, this time with fire that spread embarrassingly across my cheeks, thankfully concealed by the mask of my hero suit. I could easily see the same fire in his eyes though, the warm, tender flame of a candle. And those eyes were fixed on mine as I stripped away the mask.

"Bunny" is a treasure to me.

It's a name of teasing with a side of fried rice, of endearment and a couple more cans of beer. It's a symbol of our bond, our partnership. It's a name that shows me how much he cares. It reminds me of close conversations tossed back and forth in the lockers at work, and the pleasant scruff of his beard against my face at home. It's a name of levity, and of intimacy, one of warm nights spent in his bed and in his arms. It's a name that softly passes his lips when I am hurt or happy, one that makes me shiver in the best possible way as his breath falls against my own lips, one that summons to mind the supportive pressure of his hand on my shoulder. It gives me strength and keeps me warm on the nights I spend alone.

"Kotetsu" is the whisper that fills my quiet home now, as I drift off to sleep feeling like I'm floating on the air. He's supported me through so much, held me up before I could crash through despair, stood by me when my whole world was shattering on the cement of a hospital roof. It's a name I adore far more than the nickname he'd given me, not that I'd admit it aloud. He helped me sift through the ashes and uncover new dreams for myself, inspired me to live for more than vengeance, to live a life where I'd be free from the burdens of my past to make my own decisions. And in the end, I choose him. We choose each other, because we won't dare let the precious flame between us die out so easily, not when our time is so limited and our lives so fragile. And that's all the more reason to hold onto his love.