A/N: Thanks to my buddy Trin for getting me hooked on this AMAZING series, I love it to bits and she's a great person for converting me~! This is dedicated to yoooooou, dearest~! :D 3

Alright, so this is edited to the absolute minimum, because I don't believe in editing until AFTER you get criticism, otherwise you won't catch some of the mistakes other people caught. So I hope to see some reviews, hope you all enjoy it, and I'll talk to you guys later~ Thanks! :D


"Kaede!" Kotetsu slammed his fist against her door, scowling. "Kaede Kaburagi, open this door now!"

"No! You promised, Dad! You said you'd be there!"

"Broken promise or not, that does NOT mean it is okay to go off without telling your grandmother or me where you're going! Do you have any idea how worried I-?"

"Worried? As if! Worrying about something means you have to care about it in the first place!"

Kotetsu's breath hitched as he stopped banging on the door. "What the Hell is that supposed to mean?" He snapped, his voice slightly quieter than before. "Of course I care, and of course I was worried!"

"If you cared, you would be home more often!"

"Kaede-!"

"If you really cared about me, you wouldn't break promises! You wouldn't let work take over your life! You wouldn't leave me and Grandma on our own for so long! You would come home and stay, Dad!"

There was silence on both ends for a few minutes.

"You can't even-!"

"Kaede. Enough. I love you. I love your grandmother. I care about you two more than anyone in this world. I go to my job and work as hard as I do because I love you two so much." His fists clenched as he sat down, back against the door to Kaede's room. He remembered the point he was trying to make and brought the subject up once more, ending the worse argument that would end badly no matter what either of them said. "Kaede, I am telling you; Never, ever go out without letting at least one of us know. You could get hurt." He shuddered at the possibilities, biting the inside of his cheek as he waited for her response.

There was an irritated sigh from her side of the door before she screamed, "Dad, I'm old enough-!"

"No. You're not, Kaede. You're nine. You're not even in double digits yet."

"That doesn't-!"

"End of discussion, Kaede."

"Dad-!"

"I said 'End of discussion, Kaede'."

"You're the worst dad ever! I hate you!" Kotetsu jumped when the door previously being used as a backrest was kicked. "I hate you!" Again, it was kicked, even harder this time. Over, and over, she kicked it, screeching.

He stood up, brushing wrinkles out of his pants before readjusting his hat. Calmly, he warned, "Be careful. If you kick that door too hard, you'll hurt yourself."

"Maybe I want to hurt myself!"

"You're not a masochist, dear, please don't pretend to be one."

"I don't even know what that is!" She let out a frustrated scream, and a muffled noise was heard. He guessed that it was her stomping her foot against the ground. "You're unbearable, get out already! I don't want you here now!"

Kotetsu tugged his hat down over his eyes, nodding to no one.

"I'll try to be here for dinner tomorrow. I suggest you apologize to your grandmother for worrying her so much. I love you, sweetie."

"Don't call me that! Just leave, don't bother trying to get here again! I never want to see you! Never ever!"

"Bye darling."

He turned away from the room and hurried down the steps, shoving his hands into his pockets. His mother stood at the bottom, eyes sorrowful.

"Kotetsu-"

He forced a smile as he reached her, shrugging helplessly. "Kids these days! So loud and disrespectful, am I right?" He let out a pained laugh, shaking his head in melancholic fondness. "I'll try to be here tomorrow, Mom. Love you." He leaned over, hugging her tightly while sighing. "You, at least, know that much, right?"

The small woman patted his back gently. "Of course I do, Kotetsu. I love you too. I'll keep dinner warm for you, I promise."

"Thank you. Until then, I guess." Reluctantly, he pulled away, smiled at her again, and walked out of the cozy house. His mother ran up the steps to check on Kaede, most likely.

With his hands in his pocket and spirits low, he let his feet carry him down, across, past streets. He knew he had to get back to his house, but he couldn't bring himself to care. He had work in the morning, and staying out late would only tire him out for the upcoming day.

His feet dragged against the ground, and he forced himself forward. It wasn't a surprise when thunder boomed in the background. When rain started pelting down on him, he wasn't caught off guard or shocked.

He just kept walking, unwilling to stop, and unwilling to feel, just for a night.


"You look horrible, old man..." Kotetsu flinched, ducking his head away when his partner reached out at him. The hand retracted almost immediately when he spotted the flinch. "What happened to you? Did you go out drinking again?"

Barnaby knelt next to Kotetsu's chair, waiting for an answer as he looked up at him.

"My daughter and I had a fight last night..." He mumbled, rubbing a hand over his face. "She had a performance yesterday evening that I said I'd go to. Because of that emergency last night, I couldn't be there, obviously."

"And then? What started the fight-?"

"I'm getting there, hold up a minute!" Kotetsu snapped, irritated. Barnaby, caught off guard, nodded, mumbling an apology. "I went and visited them after. I wanted to apologize and maybe... I don't know, do something. Watch a movie, eat a late dinner, I don't know what, just... I miss them..." He groaned, burying his face in his hands. "And that's when my mom called me on my cell phone, when I was walking over there. Kaede had run off. It was pure luck that we crossed paths. I had to carry her home, she wouldn't walk with me. The second we passed the front door she ran up to her room, which started a screaming match between us."

Tracing the older hero's form with his eyes, Barnaby's frown deepened. "I see."

"Look, it's nothing, I'm just... A lot of the things she said hit me pretty hard, and I'm trying to think of a way to make this better." Anxiously, he bit his lip and glanced at his partner. "Any chance I can bribe you to cover for me when I leave? I'm going to come back late and work through the night already, but Agnes didn't say I could take the evening off, which is when I'm going to go see them."

Barnaby leaned his head against the chair's armrest, shrugging. "Pay for drinks next time we go out and you've got yourself a deal. I promise not to drink you under the table this time." His lips twitched into a smirk

The small, grateful smile Barnaby caught hiding underneath his hat made a little bit of heat from Agnes completely worth the trouble.

"Thanks, Barnaby."

"'Barnaby'?"

"That's your name, isn't it?"

"Well, yes, but it's always 'Bunny this' or 'Bunny that' with you. Do we need to get your head checked?"

Kotetsu swatted the back of his head lightly. "Brat. I thought you'd appreciate my thoughtful gesture for once."

"'Thoughtful gesture'?"

"I think that was pretty thoughtful."

He rolled his eyes. "Whatever you say, old man."

Kotetsu crossed his arms and huffed, "I'm not old!"

"Like I said: Whatever you say, old man."

At that moment, their communicators beeped, notifying them of an emergency and ending their friendly, now regular and fun, banter.


Kotetsu groaned, leaning his head against his locker as he shoved his arms through the sleeves of his shirt. "I'm going to be so sore tomorrow... So very, very sore..."

"Quit whining, old man," Barnaby snorted, ignoring how true that statement was for both of them. "The only thing that should be bothering you is your arthritis acting up, that was nothing-"

"Arthritis? I don't have arthritis! Don't make assumptions!" He waggled a finger in his face. "And while I'm scolding you, may as well get this out too... You're so rude! You need to learn how to respect your elders, Bunny!"

Kotetsu couldn't help but laugh at the reply he was given. It ignored the majority of his miniature speech and focused on one minor detail. "My name isn't Bunny, it's Barnaby!"

"Bunny, Bunny, Bunny... When are you going to learn, that this nickname-?" He was interrupted, unable to finish his joke when his rarely used cell phone rang. It was one he kept mostly out of habit and paranoia, just in case his mother needed to reach him in an emergency. She had never learned how to use the video phone without Kaede's help, so just as a precaution, Kotetsu held onto his aged, out of style cell phone. "Hold up a minute Bunny..."

There was barely a moment of pause before Kotetsu rummaged through his locker, digging for the phone.

"Please tell me this is mom asking me to pick up milk again and Kaede is just at a friend's house, please, please," He prayed, fumbling with the device for a moment before answering. "Hello? Mom? What's going on? Something happen?"

Barnaby could barely hear the panicked voice of a woman on the other end of the line, making out only a few, meaningless words in the midst of her rushed sentences.

Kotetsu's face had paled and, only stopping long enough to grab his shoes, he started towards the exit. "I'll start looking around the neighborhood. You stay home, just in case she comes back. I'll have my phone on me, call if you think of anywhere she could be or if she comes home. Okay? No, don't call the police, not yet. They wouldn't do anything anyway, not until she's been gone longer- Okay, okay. Bye, see you." He shoved the phone into his pocket, rushing out. He still wore his Wild Tiger mask and the under-suit he was required to wear when in his mechanical suit, only his slacks thrown on over top of it. Jumping on one foot, he struggled to get his shoes on, swearing loudly.

"Oi, Tiger, what's going on?" Barnaby ran after him, his clothing situation nearly the same as the older man's. "Is everything-?"

Kotetsu finally stopped long enough to get his shoes on properly, answering quickly. "Kaede's disappeared. Mom said that she came home and went up to her room right away, and when she went up to call her down for dinner, she wasn't there. Probably left through the window in her room, I knew we should have installed a lock on the damn thing-!"

"What can I do?"

"Just..." He struggled for words, thinking of what his partner could possibly do in the situation. He tried not to linger too long on how his offer made his stomach twist into knots. It was rare to see Barnaby show concern, and while he might revel in it any other time, he had to find his daughter. "Just tell Agnes that an emergency came up," He eventually spat out, mentally cursing whoever invented shoelaces. "I don't know if I'll be back for the night shift I said I'd take and I'll make it up later. If I don't come back by the time you're done with things around here or I call you, I could probably use some help finding her. Get directions from Antonio, he knows where Mom and Kaede live." He finished lacing up his shoes and continued his sprint out, waving over his shoulder.

Barnaby watched him run, waiting until he was out of sight before jumping into action, yelling for Agnes.


"Kaede! Kaede! Where are you?" Kotetsu called out, running. His feet sloshed through puddles, getting the bottoms of his pants soaked. Water had seeped into his shoes, but he did his best to ignore it.

It had been at least an hour since he started searching. She hadn't been anywhere he had hoped she would be. The school grounds were devoid of any life, the park was left empty, and the normal hang-outs she and her friends would visit were closed with no sight of his daughter.

"You are grounded when I find you, you hear me?" He tore down the streets, feeling his throat close up. "A-and I'll make sure that Mom doesn't sneak you dessert like I know she always does when you're grounded! Because you'll come to my house for the entirety of your grounding and I'll watch over you twenty-four seven! Got it, Kaede?"

There was no answer.

Another hour passed. Kotetsu was no longer running, but he was walking at a fast pace, calling for his daughter a little more quietly. He had never taken off his mask, and he was starting to feel cold, basically only wearing his thin body suit, a pair of pants, and his now-soaked through shoes.

"Kaede, I'll... I'll buy you ice cream, your favorite flavors, a giant portion of it. You won't be grounded, I promise... All you have to do is come with Papa now, and he'll take you home and we can talk about this..." He pleaded, shivering when he recognized the section of town they were in. Most of the mid-level crimes the heroes had to take care of took place around the lower part of the city. They were usually taken care of by the police, but there was occasionally an attack or bank robbery that the heroes would be called in for if they were having a slow day.

Either way, Kotetsu was not comfortable with his daughter being in this area completely alone.

He wandered, looking every place she could possibly be hiding in. His voice was starting to go hoarse, his loud calls for Kaede causing an unpleasant scratchy sensation to cover his throat. Still, he didn't stop, forcing himself to shout more. He asked a few strangers if they had seen any little girls alone, but only a few were able to give him any information that might be useful.

His worry and anxiety had not lessened throughout his search. If anything, they continued to grow and build off of one another.

"Kaede!" He cupped his hands around his mouth, shutting his eyes tightly. He couldn't break down, couldn't be weak, not when his daughter needed him. His eyes burned, and he could feel the frustrated, helpless tears build up behind his eyelids. "Kaede, please!"

When there was no immediate answer, he buried his face into his hands, taking in a shuddering breath.

She had to be around there somewhere, he could feel it in his gut. Instinct was his greatest ally, and it was screaming she was close.

"Daddy...? I-is that you? I... I think I'm ready to come home now." His head shot up and he spun around to the direction the voice was coming from.

There she was. His baby girl, she was standing there and trembling, looking terrified.

For a split second, Kotetsu felt happiness and relief flood through him. Preparing to walk towards her and hug her, all the while promising that everything was just fine, he stopped, even taking a step back at the confused expression on her face. Before he could figure out why she was looking at him so oddly, his eyes locked in on a sliver of metal, steadily approaching Kaede's small form in the dark. Light from one of the street lamps had shone down on it, making it much easier to spot for a short period of time.

He didn't think before he acted, which, for once, was for the best.

"Kaede! Get down!" He snapped, sprinting forward. The girl startled, eyes widening at his sudden approach. He ignored it as he grabbed her and forced her into a duck in front of him, just as that metal shot forward. A choked gasp involuntarily left his throat as the knife dug through his skin, slamming through his shoulder.

He stiffened, just for a moment, before taking a deep breath. He stood up away from his daughter, making sure nothing had hit her. Slowly, he brought his gaze up.

"My, what do we have here?" Kotetsu's back was ramrod straight, his head held high as he sneered at the man. "Were you really just trying to attack a little girl at night? What kind of man are you?"

There was a gasp from behind him, and he prayed that he wasn't bleeding as much as he feared. He would be fine, he had handled much worse, but he didn't need his daughter to be mentally traumatized.

"What's it to you, old man?" A voice spoke from underneath the dark sweatshirt the thug was wearing. "Get out of the way, like Hell I'm letting a bastard like you stop me."

He opened his mouth, preparing to tear into him, only to be cut off by the man digging around in his pockets, backing away from them. His eyes flickered behind him to Kaede's trembling, tense form.

"What are you doing? Kid, hold up." Kotetsu ordered harshly. "Whatever you're doing, stop. If you come quietly, I'll tell the police to go easy on you and we can end this fast."

He held his hands out, attempting to look less threatening as he stepped forward.

Later, he would rage about what an idiotic move he made in that moment. He would scold himself for making that step and inadvertently antagonizing the man.

Before his brain could comprehend what was happening, a gun was pointed at his daughter and he was diving in front of her, shielding her from the bullet. Briefly, he heard a scream, but there was no time to guess who had made the noise.

Running on adrenaline, he focused on tackling the man to the ground without giving him time to shoot again. He watched himself grab the gunner's arms and bring them behind his back, bending them at an angle that should have been impossible. The gun clattered to the ground, and now there was a new scream echoing in his ears.

There was a slight tinge to his vision, and it took him a solid thirty seconds to realize he had activated his NEXT powers.

Two broken arms were held in his hands, crisscrossed behind the unknown man's back. Slowly, he reached to feel for a pulse, his mind hazy.

"He's just unconscious," He heard himself say quietly. Although it took his brain a moment to get with the program, he let out a sigh of relief when he realized the statement was true.

He released the tight grip he had on those arms. It was with difficulty he pulled himself off of the body, and he groaned as both of his injuries were aggravated. He stumbled backwards, catching himself with his arms before he could land on his back. His power would be wasted in three minutes, if he estimation was right.

"Kaede," He called quietly. "Sweetie, I need you to come over here. I know it looks bad, but I'm counting on you now-"

"H-how do you know my name?"

Dumbstruck, Kotetsu looked over at her. "How could I not? Sweetheart, it's-" Realization washed across his face. His masked face.

With a wince, he lowered himself into a sitting position and used his freed arms to remove his mask.

"It's Papa, sweetie."

A sound, half sobbing, half screaming, echoed in his ears before Kaede ran forward, scrambling over to his side.

"Daddy! Daddy, y-you're hurt, w-what just happened? Daddy-!" Tears poured from her brown eyes, and Kotetsu felt his heart break when she stopped and knelt next to him, her hands shaking as she tried to find something to do.

He snatched both of her hands, holding them in his own. She flinched, her babbling stopping almost immediately.

"Honey, I need you to calm down. Okay? Take a deep, slow breath."

"Daddy-!"

"A deep, slow breath," He repeated patiently, rubbing circles into both of her hands with his thumbs. "You need to calm down. Just breathe, darling. Breathe."

Her head bobbed up and down for a second before she took in several, shaky gulps of air. Her hands trembled underneath his steady hold, even as she squeezed his fingers in her hands.

Kotetsu waited, breathing with her. His head began to feel light, but he forced himself to stick through.

"Better?"

Shakily, she nodded again. "Y-yes..."

"Good, good." He released her hands after a moment, holding his wrists out to her. "Now, sweetheart, I need you to do this for me. I can't move right now, so you need to be Papa's hero right now." He let that sink in for a moment before continuing, "You see the bracelet I'm wearing? Answer me with words, please don't nod."

"Yes, I see it..."

"Now, I need you to take this bracelet off of my wrist. It is a communicator. I need you to call the first speed-dial when I tell you to. Can you do that, dear?"

"Yes Daddy."

She made a move to take it, but he pulled his wrists back, shaking his head.

"Not yet, Kaede. First,I need you to find out where we are. The street names are right behind me, do you see them?" He jerked his head in the direction he meant, and Kaede's eyes followed.

"Yes, I see them."

"Good, you're doing swell, dear."

She laughed, a touch of hysteria in her tone. "No one says swell anymore, Papa!"

He smiled, shrugging to try and ease her worry. "What can I say? I'm an old man, so I'll still say it." His powers were starting to fade, he could feel it. He couldn't feel pain as long as they were activated, which was definitely helping him stay calm. "I need you to tell me what street we are on, though. Can you do that, dear?"

Kaede clumsily got to her feet, her knees weaker than she originally thought. With a deep breath, she walked forward to look at the signs.

"We're at... The intersection of Lucille Avenue and Jordan Drive..."

"Good, perfect, sweetie, thank you." Kotetsu bit down on his tongue when his NEXT power receded, pain smashing against his entirety. As soon as he was composed, he spoke up once more. "Now, the next thing you'll need to do is call the first speed dial . When the man picks up, you need to say, 'Mr. Brooks, my name is Kaede. Papa Kotetsu is hurt and we need you at the intersection of Lucille Avenue and Jordan Drive. Please hurry.' Can you do that for me, darling?"

"I-I can, I promise Daddy."

"Good girl. Now remember, call the first speed dial number."

He shut his eyes tightly, his teeth gnashing the inside of his cheek. His body was throbbing, and he could feel blood trickling down his arms, his back, his legs-

"H-hello, Mr. Brooks?" He heard Kaede speak, her voice unsteady. "M-my name is Kaede, a-and Papa Kotetsu is with me, a-and he's hurt-!"

"Kaede, sweetie, tell him where we are," Kotetsu reminded her gently, his voice hoarser than he would like. "The intersection of Lucille Avenue and Jordan Drive, remember?"

"W-we're at the intersection of Lucille Avenue and Jordan Drive, and we need your help, p-please hurry!"

Kotetsu's arms began to feel weak. He tried to lower himself to the ground carefully, but he ended up falling, curling on his side.

"Daddy-!"

Kotetsu shushed her, shaking his head. "Papa's fine, darling. Watch out for Mr. Brooks and prepare to wave him down." He coughed, covering his mouth with both hands. "Are you still talking to him?"

Kaede glanced between the communicator and her father before answering, "Y-yeah Dad."

"That's good, keep talking to him."

"Why-?"

"Please sweetie, keep talking to him."

Kotetsu glanced over at Kaede, a smile quirking at his lips as he watched her talk to Barnaby. Reassuring as it was to watch his daughter well and conversing only slightly shakily, he couldn't bring himself to keep his eyes open. They fluttered closed, even as he tried to pry them open.

"Kaede, dear?"

She scrambled over to his side at the inquiry, brown eyes filled with concern and worry. "Yeah Papa?"

Kotetsu kept his eyes closed as he asked, "You weren't hurt at all, were you?"

"No Papa. I'm fine."

"Good, good. And Kaede?"

"Yeah Papa?"

"I love you, sweetie." His voice was quiet. He tried to make it sound louder, more confident, but it was taking all of his energy just to get the words out.

There was a pause, which made the silence between them incredibly obvious. There was no one else to be seen, no one to interrupt or help them until Barnaby arrived.

Kaede took a deep breath before whispering, holding her father's face with one hand. "I love you too, Papa. I'm so sorry, I didn't- You weren't supposed to get hurt-!"

Kotetsu chuckled, shaking his head. It flopped to the side after he was done. "It's fine. As long as you're safe, it's fine. I just want you safe."

His voice died out after the last sentence, and he winced as Kaede unintentionally brushed against the wound caused by the gunshot.

He didn't realize when he drifted off. He didn't hear Kaede yell for him, her screams becoming louder and louder when he didn't respond. He didn't see Barnaby run up to them, assessing the situation quickly before helping Kaede onto his motorcycle. He didn't feel Barnaby pick him up and deposit him into the green side car as carefully as he could. He didn't notice when Barnaby went well over the speed limit to get him to the hospital.

Kaede's terrified sobs and Barnaby's grim expression were unable to be seen beneath his closed eyelids as he was taken into the emergency room.


It was hours later when they were allowed to see Kotetsu. Barnaby had called Kotetsu's mother, informing her of what had happened and assuring her that Kaede was just fine, but Kotetsu was not. She had been surprisingly calm, saying she would come to pick Kaede up whenever Kaede wanted to return home.

Barnaby and Kaede talked scarcely. Mostly, it was about Kotetsu.

"Your father is a good man," Barnaby had whispered at one point, seemingly out of nowhere. "He's a very good man."

Kaede curled her knees up to her chest, wiping her eyes. "I never knew... I always thought he didn't care, that he didn't love us."

"He does," Barnaby responded immediately. "He loves your grandmother and you more than anyone. He tries so hard to visit you two. I can vouch for that."

She didn't have any ideas on how to answer that, so she stayed silent.

Almost an hour later, she started a new topic of conversation. "So he's really Wild Tiger? He's really a hero?" She glanced over at him, expression nervous.

Barnaby nodded, running a hand through his hair. "Yes, he's Wild Tiger. And he's not just a hero."

Kaede's eyebrows furrowed. "'Not just a hero'?" She parroted dumbly.

He shook his head. "No, not just a hero. He's the best hero."

It was completely silent after that.

Eventually, a woman appeared in front of them, her face weary.

"You can see him now," Her voice was soft as she wrote down the room number he was staying in. "Try to stay quiet, it's late and other patients are trying to sleep."

Kaede ran to the room while Barnaby was thanking the woman and shaking her hand. Her footsteps echoed in the hallways, and her breathing was heavy, but she didn't stop running until she reached his room.

She stared at the closed door, dread filling her entirety.

She wanted to walk away. She wanted to pretend that none of this happened, and her father was just still at work, ignoring her and her grandmother. She wanted to go back to hating him. She wanted to turn away and force herself to believe this was just a nightmare.

"Papa..."

Blinking tears out of her eyes, she threw the door open and stumbled in, hurrying to Kotetsu's side. He was covered in tubes and wires, bandages covered most of his skin, and he looked paler than she could ever remember seeing him.

She sat down on the bed next to Kotetsu, sniffling as she watched his chest move up and down.

"That's good, isn't it, Papa?" She spoke out loud, despite knowing he wouldn't hear her. "You're breathing, that's good. That means you're still alive, and that's really, really good."

For a moment, she listened to the monitor's heartbeat. It was loud and obnoxious, but she wouldn't trade that sound for anything in the world.

Her face crumpled as she leaned over, laying her head down next to Kotetsu's.

"I'm so sorry Daddy, I'm so, so sorry..."

Barnaby quietly closed the door, giving the girl privacy with her father. He crossed his arms and leaned against the wall next to the door, waiting.


It was an hour later when Kaede's grandma appeared to pick Kaede up. She took a moment to look over her son, press a kiss to his cheek and mumble, "Kotetsu, get through this, you idiotic child..." before ushering Kaede out of the room.

Barnaby waited until they left before he walked in, standing over the unconscious man.

"Old man," He sighed, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Why do you always have to worry me? I nearly had a heart attack when Kaede called. Do you know how distressed she was?"

There was no answer, as expected.

"You're going to make my hair turn prematurely gray, with all the worrying you cause me." Barnaby muttered, shaking his head. "Sometimes, I just want to strangle you. Do you have any idea how worried I was? How worried I am?"

He paused, as if waiting for a response.

"No, of course you don't. Because you're an idiot, that's why."

He leaned over Kotetsu, leaning in close and sighing. He could feel the older man's breath on his face as he moved in closer.

"But that's why I love you so much, isn't it?"

Kaede convinced her grandmother to wait a little longer before leaving. Hurrying back inside and up to her father's room, she prayed that Barnaby was still there.

He had helped her father, he had managed to keep Kaede from being overly worried while they were waiting, yet not once did she bother to thank him.

Her feet glued themselves to the ground as she reached the doorway. Her eyes widened, and she covered her mouth with a hand to stifle a gasp of shock.

Barnaby was kissing her father.

It wasn't a passionate kiss, or a desperate one. In all actuality, it didn't look like any kiss she had seen on television or in the movies, which were the only references she had to kisses.

He was kissing him gently, and as she squinted to get a clearer picture of the scene, she could see their lips were just barely touching.

Kaede didn't quite understand what she had come across, returning to the room and seeing such a tender moment. She wanted to ask Barnaby what was going on. Even more, she wanted to ask Kotetsu. She wanted to talk to her dad and have him explain everything to her.

She wanted her dad awake.

It was with a heavy heart she turned and walked away without a word.

Barnaby pulled away from Kotetsu's still lips and brushed chocolate-brown hair out of the pale face beneath him.

"Come on, Kotetsu," He gave him a small, lopsided smile. "You better be awake by the time I'm back here tomorrow. You can beat this, I know you can."

His red boots clicked against the floor as he left the room, shutting the door closed behind him.

Moonlight shone on Kotetsu's face, illuminating it and giving it a ethereal appearance.


Kotetsu awoke the next morning, smiling widely at what he saw.

His daughter was sitting on his left side, grinning excitedly as she watched him stir. His mother stood at the end of his bed, grinning at him knowingly. His lover sat on the right side, grinning fondly as he squeezed Kotetsu's arm.

His family was there, safe, and in one piece.

In the end, did it really matter that he was harmed? As long as those grins were directed towards him, and as long as they were protected, he could take a few hits.

Life was perfect, in that moment, when he awoke.


A/N- Bwaaaah, so sappy, I know~ Thanks for reading, you guys are awesome~ I tried not to rush through this, but I think I did. So I guess I'm sorry about that, I didn't mean to rush through anything, but I was just so excited to write this idea, and yeah. XD Again, thanks for reading, leave a review if you can, and I'll see you all next time!