A/N- Written for a prompt on the T&B Anon Meme~
The direct prompt was (And yes, I quoted this from the website):
"I'd like a fic where Barnaby and Kotetsu are in a relationship. Except Barnaby can tell that Kotetsu will never be able to love him as much as he ever did with Tomoe, even if Kotetsu doesn't admit it.
But Barnaby doesn't care, because he'd rather have a small part of Kotetsu than none at all."
So here you go, anonymous prompter! I posted this on LJ, but I don't know if it went through. If I don't see it on there in a few days, I'll be putting it on there again.
Also, if anyone is curious, since this is rather vague, I have a loooong explanation of why both Barnaby and Kotetsu do what they do and act the way they do in this if anyone wants to hear it. Chances are, you'll be able to figure it out after reading it, but just in case, drop me a review or message and I'll happily respond. (Lord knows I love to rant about my headcanons and such for this. XD)
Oops, better not forget warnings and disclaimers. Obviously, I don't own T&B. If I did, it would not be nearly as good as it is. XD
Warnings; Possible sensitivity on the topic of unrequited love, implied darker themes, mild/implied slash. And I think that's it. It's not that bad, I swear. I just don't want to be yelled at for not giving enough warnings. XD
At first, Barnaby had been ecstatic.
Truly, the confession hadn't been thought of beforehand. He hadn't stared in a mirror and repeated it over, and over again until he thought it was perfect. The words hadn't been painstakingly picked. He hadn't fought tooth and nail to think of the "right" way to tell him.
All he did was speak his mind with as much honest as he could muster.
"Kotetsu, I'm in love with you. You are the most spectacular man I've ever met. I admire you so much. I'm not... I don't expect anything from you. Please don't think that I want you to do anything after this. I just wanted to tell you. I'm tired of hiding everything about me, and I figured this would be a good place to start owning up to my feelings. I love you."
Kotetsu's response had surprised him. He hadn't been expecting a response in the first place. Internally, he had mulled over the idea of what would happen after his declaration.
Kotetsu ignoring the situation and pretending it had never happened was the best scenario he could come up with. The worst case would be Kotetsu never speaking to him again.
His shock at being wrong was only outmatched by his utter joy.
"Bunny, I really... I love you too. Heh, don't look at me like that, were you hoping for a different answer? Hold still for a minute, will ya? Let me prove it to you if you're so surprised."
He felt his eyes be drawn to the wedding ring on the tanned hand more than once. He tried to pretend he didn't see Kotetsu's eyes flash to the ring also, more so than his did. The bittersweet edge to Kotetsu's actions didn't escape him completely.
He convinced himself afterward that it was just because Kotetsu probably felt some form of guilt over moving on. From the bits and pieces he had learned about the late Mrs. Kaburagi, Kotetsu had adored her. He had fawned over her at every chance he received and clung to her side. Tomoe Kaburagi had been his wife, and Barnaby would never be able to take that place.
He accepted this fairly easily. He wasn't Kotetsu's first love, nor would he be his only love. He would never be Kotetsu's wife. Tomoe would forever hold that position, even in death, and Barnaby was fine knowing the truth.
Having the chance to hold Kotetsu, to kiss Kotetsu, to be with Kotetsu, to spend time with Kotetsu, was more than he could hope for. He never wanted anything else. He had no right to ask for anything else.
And that was okay.
"Kotetsu, I love you so much. I love you."
"Aheh, you're such a sap, Bunny. Come on, want to grab a bite to eat?"
"Ah, sure... Whatever you want."
"Awesome! Are you in the mood for Italian? Italian sounds like it would really hit the spot right now!"
"That's fine with me."
Barnaby did his best to be understanding. He tried not to expect too much from the silly man. Kotetsu wasn't observant, so if Barnaby wanted something, he had to tell the older hero.
Romance, as much as he wanted it, was nonexistent between them. They didn't go to fancy restaurants together. There weren't any moonlit walks. If they watched a movie, it was with the other heroes and usually a publicity stunt.
The lack of romance wasn't from lack of trying. Barnaby offered many opportunities-
"I was thinking- Er, if you want to, I mean- Maybe we could go to the park? I'll put a basket together-"
"A picnic, you mean?"
"Yeah. I thought it'd be something... Different, for us to do. Just us."
"Eh, I'm not too sure. It's pretty hot out, and eating outside is a pain."
"Oh. Okay. It was just an idea."
but Kotetsu shot them all down. Eventually, Barnaby gave up with the ideas and moved onto different aspects of their relationships.
He started to leave little gifts for Kotetsu everywhere. Whether it was small, like a cup for his pens after he complained about losing them at the office, or something bigger, like a new watch he had been eying at the mall the day earlier, he would leave whatever he thought would brighten Kotetsu's smile.
"Thanks, Bunny! This is perfect, I really needed one of these-!"
If it only gained him a kiss on the forehead from his lover, he wouldn't complain. Reciprocation wasn't necessary. If a word of thanks and a peck of a kiss was all he would receive, Barnaby would be happy.
Kotetsu wasn't as affectionate as most people would expect, but that was hardly a problem. Barnaby wanted whatever Kotetsu could give him.
Kotetsu was putting his best efforts into loving Barnaby, and that is all he could ask for.
One time, though, Barnaby was selfish.
"Kotetsu, your ring-"
"Isn't it gorgeous? Tomoe picked them out. I had them engraved for us."
"It's very...very beautiful. But..."
"But how would you feel about having two rings from now on?"
Kotetsu had been so angry. In hindsight, Barnaby realized he should have kept his mouth shut. Daring to ask Kotetsu such a question was self-centered. He shouldn't have brought the traitorous idea up in the first place.
He had become greedy, wanting more of Kotetsu than the man had to give. It was inconsiderate, heartless, and selfish.
Sleeping eluded him for weeks. He begged for forgiveness every day, both in person, over the phone, through emails, letters, and text messages.
Kotetsu didn't spare him a second glance. He didn't respond to any of his apologies.
Barnaby fell through the ranks on the show faster than should be possible. Agnes was furious, while Maverick was confused and concerned.
"Barnaby, has something happened? You look exhausted. Are you ill?"
"No, Uncle Maverick."
"Please, talk to me. Tell me what's wrong."
"It's... It's nothing. I just made a mistake. I'll be better, I promise."
One day, out of the blue, Kotetsu appeared with a small smile. His lips sought out Barnaby's forehead, and blond hair was ruffled by calloused hands.
He couldn't breathe for a few moments. His mind poked at him, taunting him and convincing him that he was dreaming. He closed his eyes and savored the gentle touches, hoping for the forgiveness he had been fighting for.
"I missed you, Bunny. Look at you, you're a mess. What have your stylists been doing, kid? Come on, let's get you to bed. Maybe that'll help."
"Kotetsu, I'm so sorry, I'm so, so sorry-"
"Let's go. Come on, get up, we're going home. The city will survive without you for a day, Mr. Dead Last."
Kotetsu pulled him out of his depression and put him back on his feet. His points went up faster than ever. He was King of Heroes for the third season in a row. Ratings went further up, thanks to the scare he gave all of his fans.
Life was back to normal with the two, and Barnaby never suggested his greedy desires again.
By that point, though, Barnaby wouldn't deny that he was curious.
In a horrible, horrible way, he was wondering how Kotetsu had been like when Tomoe was around.
It was a dangerous line of thought, one he tried to ignore.
Surprisingly, it was Nathan who pulled him aside and informed him more about Kotetsu and his wife.
If Barnaby was expecting a discussion about his lover with anyone, he had expected it to be with Antonio. Everyone knew that Antonio and Kotetsu were close friends. It was common knowledge that they met at a young age and stayed friends ever since.
Nathan, though, held more of a role in Kotetsu's life than Barnaby dreamed of. He gave him more information than Barnaby knew he had access to and more than information than Barnaby wanted to know.
"I love him, Nathan. I really do. I just... I love him so much. Don't ruin this for us by putting doubts in my head, please, Nathan."
"And I understand that, Handsome. But you need to know this. It's going to hurt, but you need to know."
"Kotetsu will never, ever be in love with you. He'll say it, to make you happy. He'll pretend, basically. Tomoe... She was the only person he would ever be in love with. Now I'm not saying he doesn't love you, don't get me wrong. He loves you very much. He's just not in love with you."
"How cliched. He loves me, but he's not in love with me. Is that what you're saying?"
"Yes. I'm telling you this now before you get in too deep. He's going to hurt you."
"And how do you know this?"
"Does that really matter? The fact is, is that I do know. It is the truth."
Barnaby didn't try to deny the truth. He didn't fight what was right in front of him.
Kotetsu would never love him as much as he loved Tomoe.
Nathan didn't need to tell him. Barnaby had known from the beginning. Tomoe was Kotetsu's one and only true love.
He had tried. He did as much as he could, trying to make Kotetsu fall in love with him. He was aware he would never measure up to Tomoe. She was an ethereal being, never to be equaled.
Pushing past the dangerous, dark part of his heart, he smiled and clutched Kotetsu's hand tighter, snuggling into his side. An arm wrapped around his shoulder, and his smile widened.
No, he would never match up to Tomoe. No, he would never be the first person on Kotetsu's mind. No, he would never have Kotetsu's full love.
He had as much as Kotetsu could give him, though, and it was more than he had dreamed of.
Tears, both of rage and sorrow, had no place in his eyes when he had so much more than he deserved.