Shout out- Well sadly this story is coming to an end, but before it closes I need to give out one final round of shout outs. First, thank you to my beta Dr. Person. You really did help round out the edges of this story. Thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed this story and to the 100 plus of you who put this story on your alerts. It really helped encourage me to keep writing, even when my computer ate the story. But most of all thank you to everyone who has read this story. I honestly hope that this story was a fun for you to read as it was for me to write.
Disclaimer- While I would love to own a successful series like Tiger and Bunny, if I did Dr. Peterson would have already showed up your TV.
Chapter 7-Only Five Minutes
It took three days to make the arrangements need to get Kotetsu's family into the city. By that time wounded tiger had been weaned of the vent and was well on the mend. In fact, he was feeling good enough to appreciate some quality family time. Unfortunately Kotetsu's family visit was currently complicating Barnaby's life.
On the other end of Sternbild City Barnaby's day had been…interesting… Nathan had thought the best way to keep Barnaby away from the hospital and thus away from Kaede was to take him shopping for apartment décor. Barnaby had agreed to it thinking it a practical idea. What Nathan had failed to mention was that he considered said shopping trip to be a "date". He also failed to mention that Nathan planed on going on this "date" in drag.
But in true Nathan nature, he had not only shown up to Hero TV headquarters in drag, he had shown up in incredibly flamboyant drag. The other heroes did have to admit that Nathan had the legs to at least pull off the short white, pleather dress with face fur trim accented, but the shoulder length pink wig was a bit much. The fact that the whole outfit was finished off with knee length, sparkly purple boots with three inch heels had the unfortunate effect of making him look like a hooker.
At first sight, Antonio had started laughing, but Barnaby didn't quite know what to say. Keith had asked who 'she' was. Luckily, Karina had been able to convince Nathan that he should leave women's fashion to women, and to change up his outfit a bit. When the two had left headquarters, Nathan was still dressed in drag and wearing a bright pink wig, but at least he was wearing a semi professional looking skirt and jacket.
What followed was 6 hours of shopping with Nathan giving a running commentary of the various designers who had created each item they looked at, during which Nathan insisted on purchasing him a new bed spread. Nathan insisted it matched Barnaby's eyes, a comment which honestly kind of creeped him out. The only thing Barnaby ended up buying was a dish set for six. He only bought those because it was pretty clear that the other heroes were probably going to stop by his house a lot more now that they all knew where his apartment was.
The sun was setting by the time Nathan finally let him get back to the hospital. Once there, it didn't take much time to check in with the nurse's station. The hospital staff warned him that Kotetsu might already be asleep, and that if he was, Barnaby would do nothing to wake him up. But they need not have worried. When Barnaby walked into the room he found Kotetsu very much awake and fiddling with the nasal catheter.
"You probably shouldn't do that?" Exhausted Barnaby sank into the chair next to his partner's bed. It was one of the only times in Barnaby's existence when he was actually glad to sit down in one of the slightly wobbly hospital chairs.
"What are you, the nurse?" Kotetsu groaned, his voice gravely from recent use and dry from supplemental oxygen. "Because if you are, I want the better looking one back."
Barnaby slugged him in the shoulder soft enough to prevent any additional damage, but hard enough for to be real.
"Ouch. What was that for?" The injured hero rubbed his shoulder, while trying to give his best 'I am hurt' expression.
"For being an idiot."
"I am not an idiot." Kotetsu whined.
"Really. Do I need to start listing? Because I can…" Barnaby stated flatly.
"Okay. Fine. I guess I deserve it." It was clear that Koutsu had just backed down, so Barnaby decided to change the subject.
"How was your visit with your family?"
"Good…Tiring…" Koutsu admitted, and then broke into a tired smile "I think Kaede forgave me for not making it home."
"I think you had a pretty good excuse." Barnaby stretched and yawned.
"It is hard for her." Kotetsu eyes glanced across one of the many photos of his daughter he always kept close, then his eyes looked distant. "Kaede hates hospitals. She has ever since she watched her mother die."
"You never really told me about her."
"Neither of us speaks of her much, kind of like how you don't speak about your parents. Kaede and I, and my mother of course, we have each other, so we choose not to dwell on who we don't have."
"You are a good father." Barnaby said softly.
Kotetsu gave a small disgusted laugh. "Barnaby, I am a terrible father. Protecting things is the only thing that I am good at. A safer world is the only thing I can really offer Kaede." He looked up from the bed sheet into his partners eyes. "But to be honest, you guys have also become part of my family. You guys are also part of the reason I fight, and all of you are worth every bump and bruise along the way. Unfortunately, to make the world better I must put myself, my life in danger. I am terrified of the very real possibility that someday in the future I will not move quite fast enough, and I will leave my daughter without someone to comfort her tears."
"Believe me; I am not going to allow that to happen."
"I don't think you can really make that promise."
"Don't you trust me?" Hurt bleed through his tone.
Kotetsu chuckled without humor. "No…it isn't that. Like you said earlier, it is me I don't trust."
Barnaby opened his mouth to speak, but Nurse Henderson stepped in first. "Well visiting time is over. Our patient needs to get his rest."
"Can't I stay just a little longer?" Barnaby almost pleaded.
"We already bent the rules to let you stay as long as you did. The patient needs to sleep so they can heal properly." The nurse gave a soft but stern smile that indicated that her position wasn't going to change.
A glance at his watch showed that it really was getting late. "Sorry, I guess I kept you up past your bedtime…and we wouldn't want to lengthen your stay because you got sick from lack of sleep would we? I will be back first thing tomorrow, though."
"I am not going anywhere." Kotetsu half heartedly joked.
With one final smile Barnaby turned, leaving Kotetsu in the soft glow of monitors, listening to the hum and hiss of various machines. Alone Kotetsu façade cracked.
"Barnaby, Superheroes are not immortal." Kotetsu said to the darkness that surrounded him. "And I only have five minutes…only five minutes separating me from those I civilians I fight so hard to rescue."
It was just over two weeks since Jake's terrorism had swept panic across the Sternbild, and things were just starting to get back to normal. In fact, Barnaby was returning to start work again tomorrow. It would be light work, mainly paperwork and interviews, but it was work. He also had an incentive to be satisfied with staying in the office. Dr. Peterson had given him the lecture that if he tried to chase after any criminals the first week she would personally drag him back to the hospital and strap him to a chair for the remaining week…He honestly didn't doubt she would try to.
Barnaby was pushing the primary reason he didn't mind the office stint, in a wheelchair. After a week in the ICU, a second one in a regular bed in the hospital, and finally Kotetsu was starting to look and behave like normal. In fact, according to nursing staff, he was becoming a downright pest.
The doctors had stated that his condition would be delicate for the next few weeks. His lungs and ribs still had a lot of healing to do and that healing would take time…at least six weeks of time. There was a long list of things he was not supposed to do until he was better. Some of the forbidden activities, like swimming, made Barnaby laugh because he knew that Kotetsu sank like a stone in water on the best days. Others, like swinging from buildings, lifting, and generally being a hero, Barnaby took a lot more seriously, primarily because he knew Kotetsu would actually try to do those things. Luckily, Kotetsu had friends who would step in when wounded hero's brain decided to take a coffee break.
The doctors had also stated no bike for at least another month, which is why they were using Antonio's truck at the moment. Barnaby was going to start shopping for a vehicle tomorrow, as it wouldn't take long for Kotetsu to insist he was fine and could walk everywhere like he normally did. The problem was he wasn't fine right now. He still got winded going up the smallest flights of stairs. Barnaby was planning on driving him to and from all of his appointments, while he worked overtime protecting the idiot 'old man' from his own stupidity. It would be a challenge, but Barnaby was starting to like challenges.
While Barnaby had taken on the responsibility making sure that Kotetsu got to where he needed to be when he needed to be there, Antonio was in charge of providing housing. At first Barnaby had fought the idea, but Fire Emblem had pointed out that Barnaby didn't have a guest bedroom and Kotetsu apartment complex lacked an elevator. The arrangement meant Barnaby would not be able to visit his partner as much as he would have liked, but Kotetsu was so thrilled to spend some extra time with his old friend that Barnaby didn't have the heart to argument against it.
Barnaby did have to admit that having Kotetsu stay with Antonio did have some benefits. Because of his neck injury, Antonio was banned from the office an extra week so he would be able to keep an eye on Kotetsu. Plus Antonio lived closer to Karina's house, which would allow for her random checks to make sure the bachelor pad was remaining alcohol free.
It was going to be a long month and a half. Especially because he was going to play the lone hero for most of it, but Barnaby could live with that…After all, he still had a partner.
Medical Term of the Post- ICU. Definition-Intensive Care Unit, a medical unit specifically designed to provide care for patients who are high risk of rapid life threatening complications. ICUs generally have a more nurses to patients, more monitoring and life support systems, and a lot less privacy. Example-A good portion of this story took place in the ICU of the hospital.
Author's Closing Notes- Well welcome to the end of the story. Again I want to thank you for reading and would welcome any comments you have. I would especially welcome them because they can help me make the next Tiger and Bunny story entitled Endgame even better. Expect that mystery to come out in the coming months. But to hold you over I did write couple of scenes for this story that I pulled out because of flow. They are not perfectly polished, but I do plan on passing on some of those scenes to those who have reviewed. If you would like to read them scenes and but don't want to review pm me and will pass them along. Think of them as extra special thank you cookies.