Title: Nothing is as Burdensome as A Secret
r: Hikaru Relume Kudou
Tiger & Bunny
Chapter: 1/3

Warnings: None that I know of...except maybe slight OOC.

Disclaimer: Standard disclaimers apply.

Summary: Barnaby/Kotetsu. Some secrets are well kept, but the same can't really be said about these two...Alternative title: Five times they totally exposed the nature of their relationship in a span of 24 hours. Ongoing.

Author's Notes: Title is based on a French proverb.

1# Training Gym, Morning

"Good morning, everyone!" greeted Nathan cheerfully in a sing-song voice.

As it turned out, only Pao Lin and Ivan gave him a response, unfortunately not sharing his level of enthusiasm. Further away were the tag team duo, who were doing push ups and actually competing with each other. They were already panting heavily, face flushing and wet with perspiration, but the determination radiated from them as if they were releasing a dangerous battle aura.

They were too busy and too focused with their training to mind Nathan.

"Sorry I'm late, I had a meeting to attend to earlier. Did you guys miss me?"

Pao Lin raised an eyebrow, while Ivan chuckled.

"We were wondering where you could be. Most of them left though...except for them." Pao Lin flicked her thumb towards the two men.

Nathan cooed in amusement. "How long have they been at it?"

"Twenty minutes," Ivan supplied.

"Oh? Who is leading?"

He shrugged. "They're not counting out loud. We were keeping track, but at one point I lost count and Pao Lin got bored." Ivan grinned sheepishly. "Well, we're off. See you around!" He waved and the two exited the gym.

Nathan approached the remaining Heroes. "Aren't you two in top form! Count louder for our benefit, will you-Bunny?"

Barnaby continued with his push-ups, not looking up. "It's Barnaby."

Nathan stared at this unexpected response. Before he could say anything, Kotetsu spoke, albeit breathlessly, "What, too scared to know if I'm ahead of you, Bunny?"

Barnaby snorted. "As if."

"That must be it. By the way, I thought you're calling him 'Handsome', Nathan, why the sudden change?" asked Kotetsu.

"Aww, is Tiger jealous?" Nathan teased.

"Why should I be-Argh!" Kotetsu stopped his exercise, instead banging his head on the floor. "You made me lost count! Bunny, we need to start again!"

Barnaby had what could be considered as a smirk. "No. It's your fault for getting distracted in the first place."

Kotetsu gasped. "Nathan, you're in league with him! You did it just so I would lose!"

Nathan grinned. "I did no such thing, but I am happy that Bunny beat you."

Barnaby sighed and stopped his push-ups. "Fire Emblem-san, my name is Barnaby. And Oji-san, I did beat you even before your...mistake."

"Were you keeping an eye on me, Bunny?" Kotetsu exclaimed.

"I surpassed you three minutes before you slipped up."

"You can't be right! You were slower than I was for a full five minutes, you couldn't have beaten me!"

As the two squabbled further, Nathan suddenly felt that he was neglected. The fact that Barnaby would not have him calling him by the nickname that Kotetsu had given him was disheartening and difficult to accept.

Nathan sensed a sob coming. Weren't they all friends? Did Handsome hate him for something he did? Why the double standard?

Then it struck him. Apparently Barnaby-kun only accepted the name coming from Kotetsu. Perhaps it was due to their partnership, or perhaps it was because Kotetsu was the one who came up with it.

Nathan stopped himself, digesting the revelation even further. He continued to gaze at the two, as Kotetsu explaining to Barnaby that it was virtually impossible for anyone to be counting two different sets of numbers in one's head at once and Barnaby insisting calmly that he found that Kotetsu's push ups were already slowing down towards the end.

Nathan caught sight of something else, though. There was a tinge of blush on Barnaby's cheeks, and he looked like he was suppressing an imminent smile.

Nathan inhaled loudly and squealed in high pitch. He clutched his hands in front of his chest, and he stared at Kotetsu and Barnaby with an overjoyed expression. "Oh, you two are such a tease!"

The two in question stared back at him, Kotetsu in perplexity and Barnaby with some dread.

"I can see it!" went on Nathan, oblivious. "How beautiful! Love is in the air!" He laughed, drowning Kotetsu's denial and paying no heed to Barnaby's increasingly crimson face.

~ end of 1# Don't Call Me Bunny ~

2# Heroes' Common Room, Morning.

The noise was excruciatingly grating, it was a wonder their sense of hearing was still intact so far.

Barnaby and Kotetsu were seated side by side on the long settee, the former typing into his laptop while the latter was leaning sideways, reading what was on the screen as he enjoyed a lollipop.

Knowing Kotetsu though, his manner of enjoying a lollipop made it look like he was ravaging the poor candy, biting pieces off and crushing them into tiny, tiny pieces in his mouth. From the size of the lollipop, no doubt Kotetsu would be at it for some time.

At the other end of the room, Karina gritted her teeth. The earphones that she was wearing were not blocking off the sound from Kotetsu's direction. Even if she was having a crush on the veteran hero, it did not mean she could let him go off easily. "Could you just eat your lollipop normally like the rest of us? I can't hear my music player...I can't even hear myself thinking!"

"Hmmm?" Kotetsu, the lollipop stick jutting out from his mouth, stared quizzically at her.

Karina would not admit that he looked adorable at that particular moment, in that particular pose, because that would mean instant defeat.

Barnaby's typing speed had lessened, and he was looking at the scene playing in front of him with some curiosity and quiet interest.

"You know, just...suck on it. Quietly." She emphasised the last bit, the most important one.

"But that's boring!" countered Kotetsu, almost pouting.

"Well, it'll be safer for your teeth, and your dentist will thank me one day."

"My teeth are fine, being a tiger and all, you know?" He chuckled at the joke. "And my dentist is not complaining about my teeth."

"Barnaby-san, aren't you bothered by it?" asked Karina. Kotetsu's attempt to change the topic would be in vain, if she could get Barnaby to side with her. "You're seated closer to him, after all."

"Well..." Barnaby, feeling awkward to be dragged into this little conflict, shifted his glance between his own partner and the girl. Karina was frowning, looking very much like a schoolteacher stuck with a troublesome student, while Kotetsu was definitely, definitely looking at him with innocent puppy dog eyes. Or tiger cub eyes, which would be more apt in Kotetsu's case.


"Bunny!" wailed Kotetsu.

Barnaby sighed. "She does have a point."

Simultaneously, Kotetsu gasped dramatically and Karina smirked at her victory.

"But Bunny-chan!" Kotetsu amplified his wailing, now opting for the desperate, pitiful look. "You were supposed to be backing me up! You're my partner!"

"Hai, hai..." Barnaby closed his laptop. "If you want to eat it that badly, you'll have to take it from me." With that, he plucked the half-eatened lollipop stick out of Kotetsu's mouth, and placed it into his own. Still maintaining a calm appearance, he walked out of the room with his laptop, leaving a stupefied Kotetsu and a shocked Karina behind.

Finally released from the spell, Kotetsu yelled out "Hey, come back here with my lollipop!" and rushed out of the room.

Karina thought she imagined Barnaby's answering "It does taste good. Mind if I share it, Kotetsu-san?" from beyond the door. Shame she could not decipher the subsequent splutterings on Kotetsu's part though.

~ end of 2# The Sound Effect ~

Author's Notes: Thank you for reading, and please look forward to the next update!