I found a piece of art of this pairing called 'Tiger Rose - The Morning After', on Pixiv by T. The image depicts Kotetsu and Karina in a very compromising position. For anyone concerned about age, I'm placing this story when Karina is around the age of 17/18, finishing off her last year of high school. One more quick note - this is my first hetero story, so please be kind. There will be yaoi involved in this story. So, if that isn't your cup of tea, then I take no offense if you don't read any further. ^_^

As always, I own nothing. These wonderful characters belong to Sunrise, Ltd.

She stood underneath the spray of the shower, letting the water wash away the evidence of the Heroes last fight. She sighed, hating that she only had received a measly hundred points for removing a civilian from danger. Why did they have to show up?

"Oy! Blue Rose!"

Karina let out a loud squeak as she heard the familiar voice speak to her from across the locker room. One half of the duo that was just on my mind. Oh, who am I kidding? He's always on my mind. "What are you doing here? This is the girl's locker room!" She panicked, covering her body up, even though she knew that no one could see her behind the closed door of the stall.

"I'm not looking!" Kotetsu said, his voice high-pitched. "We're going to the Heroes bar. I wanted to know if you wanted to join us."

Blushing madly, the teenager went back to washing her hair. "Maybe. I've got homework."

"Awww...come on, Blue Rose! You need some time off, just like everyone else." Kotetsu whined.

"Just go away. If I have a chance, I'll meet you guys." Her face still flush with the thought of spending time with her crush, no, obsession, was making her become more and more flustered. "I can still hear you!" She called out, knowing that the man was still standing across the room.

The man's soft chuckle drifted through the large room. "I hope to see you there."

Envisioning herself at the bar with him, sitting next to him, listening to him talk about the most mundane things, had her showering quickly. Since both he and Barnaby had rejoined the first league of heroes, Kotetsu always wanted to go out with all of them. Karina couldn't understand why, maybe he just wants to make up for lost time with all of us. As soon as she was finished, she walked over to her locker and pulled out an article of clothing she had purchased awhile before, but never had the guts to wear it. However, she felt now was the appropriate time. Pulling a small pink bag out, she looked at the matching bra and panty set, blushing as she toyed with the g-string. This can't be that comfortable. Sighing, she slid the pair of panties up her legs, grumbling at how it felt ridiculous. Putting her extra-cleavage bra on, she looked at herself in the full length mirror. Grabbing the much larger bag, she pulled out the black sheer slip, slipping it over her head. She then grabbed the black mini-dress she had purchased at the same time as the slip and let it fall over her head. Looking down at her body, she smiled, pleased with how she looked.

Looking through her bag, she found her cell phone. She sent a text to Emily, asking her to cover for her for the night. Not that she was expecting anything to happen with the older Hero, but she was hoping that it might. She'd rather be prepared than not. When her phone chirped, signaling a text message, Emily's response made her giggle. "USE PROTECTION." She knew her friend would cover for her, no problem.

Sliding her phone's screen to become unlocked, she brought up the number pad and pressed the number '2', which was the speed-dial for her parents' home number. "Mushi mushi!" Her mother said on the second ring.

"Hi, mom. I'm staying at Emily's tonight. We've got a project to work on. Don't worry, I've got extra clothes." She took a breath, hoping that it hadn't sounded too rushed. She didn't like lying to her parents, for they were already so accepting of her NEXT abilities, but there were just some things that they didn't need to know about. Her stomach began to feel funny, hoping that the lie would be believed. She took another deep breath. "Mom? Did you hear what I just said?"

Her mother finally spoke. "Alright, Karina-chan. If you get called out, be safe. We'll see you tomorrow after school?"

She hated that it was so easy to lie to her sweet mother. "Hai," she said. "Talk to you later." She waited for her mother to say goodbye to her, then hung up on the call.

Grabbing her purse, she slipped on a pair of black strappy sandals, bought at the same time as the other new items of clothing, hoping that they went alright with her outfit. She turned off the light in the locker room, sure that she was the only Hero that was left in the building. She headed through the dark hallway, heading to the elevator. If she wasn't a NEXT, she would have found this to be a bit unnerving. But she knew that if she had to, she could use her power of manipulating ice to combat any assailant.

A taxi was parked outside of the building, much to her chagrin. "Take me to 8th and Brox," she said, knowing the exact location of the bar. Why they always frequented the bar that watched them do their Hero work, and place bets on them, was a mystery to her. The cab arrived in no time flat, making her nerves that had been building in the car suddenly attack her gut full force. She paid the cabbie, tipping him generously, and began to walk towards the entrance of the bar. She could hear people hooting and hollering, the sound of music blaring at alarming decibels. Looking down at herself once more, adjusting 'the girls', she stepped through the entrance.

"OY!" She heard the familiar shout of the man she constantly thought about as she walked into the bar. "OVER HERE!" She looked over at where she could see the other heroes gathered, all quite rosy in the cheeks. Looking down at her feet, she began the short journey to where they were all gathered.

"Karina-chan!" Nathan cooed, his right arm draping over her, his breath reeking of scotch. "So nice of you to join us! And you look so sexy!"

Blushing, she shrugged off his arm from her shoulders. "Do not," she said quietly. She looked around. "Uh...where's Barnaby-san?" She tucked some of her hair behind her ear, doing her best to not hyperventilate at her great fortune that Kotetsu's partner was not there at the moment. As much as she enjoyed the other Hero, she felt like she was always competing for Kotetsu's attention whenever he was around. Not that it's that big of a problem...more of just an inconvenience. She bit her lower lip, waiting to hear the answer.

"Oh, he went home already," Ivan said, his words slurring a bit. "Tiger-san begged us to stay until you showed up. We were all about to call it a night." He hiccuped, setting his empty rock glass down on the bar.

Her eyes widened. "You got him drunk?" She turned and faced Kotetsu, the man's hands already up in the air.

"Hey, I didn't force the drinks down his throat!" Kotetsu said, grinning. "I thought it would be nice to treat everyone to a nice time tonight." He produced a champagne flute from behind his back, handing it to her. "I insist."

Taking the offered beverage, Karina looked at the effervescent liquid. "What is this?" She examined the glass, not sure what it was that had just been handed to her.

"You're telling me you've never had champagne before?" Kotetsu titled his striped newsboy cap back onto his head, grinning at her. "It's good! Try it. Please? If you don't like it, I can get you something else."

She took a hesitant sip, not wanting to disappoint the man in front of her. The liquid tickled her nose as she swallowed it down, the champagne immediately making her warm. "Ehh? Not so bad, is it?" Kotetsu still had a silly grin on his face, making her giggle. "Ah! There's that smile!"

Her eyes narrowed. "I smile!" She lowered the glass.

"Not often enough," Kotetsu said, turning away from her to talk to Antonio. She felt the heat quickly rise to her cheeks, unable to say a witty comeback.

"You've got it bad, sweetie," Nathan said, emitting a soft giggle. "You be careful with him." Nathan set his empty glass down on the bar. "Antonio~! Ready to go?" The two had been spending time together, whether it was romantic or just a bromance, no one could tell. No one wanted to ask either way, for they did not want to deal with Fire Emblem's wrath if they chose the wrong answer.

The larger man who had been in a dialogue with Kotetsu grunted and nodded. Karina rolled her eyes, sipping more of her champagne. It's actually pretty tasty, once you get past the sweetness. Looking over to her left, she could see that Ivan was pretty much toasted, holding on to Keith. Everyone is pairing up except for me. She sighed, hating that she felt like a third wheel, when all of her comrades were here - save Barnaby and Pao-Lin. She heard Keith laugh, the sound pleasing to her ears.

"Karina-chan, we're going to be heading out as well. You have a very pleasant evening. I'm very glad that you came out and joined us." Keith bowed to her, his bright smile bringing a small smile to her face. "Come on, Ivan." Keith led the smaller man out, keeping his hands on top of the smaller blonde's shoulders. Ivan turned and gave her a goofy smile, waving at her frantically as he was led out by the larger man.

Sipping her champagne, she looked at the back of the bar, unsure of what to do now. She heard someone sit down next to her on the unoccupied bar stool. "Would you like another glass? My treat!" Kotetsu said, the man more relaxed than she had seen him in some time.

"Why is Barnaby-san not here?" Karina couldn't help but ask the question that had been plaguing her. She wanted to hear it from him, and not just the plastered Ivan.

The man next to her shrugged his shoulders, his hat slipping forward on his head. "He said he didn't feel like hanging out. Why? Got a crush on him?" The man teased her, the smile that had momentarily disappeared had resurfaced. "You know, I could put in a good word for you..."

"What?" She stared at him, shocked. "No! I do not have a crush on him!" She shook her head, giggling softly as she drank the rest of the champagne that was in her glass. "You sure you don't mind buying another round?" She looked at him, battling her eyelashes. In one of the books she had read about trying to pick up men, it had said to make your eyes look vulnerable. I hope this works.

Kotetsu tilted his head. "Do you have something in your eye?" The man began to look around for a napkin, while ordering another drink for her and himself. He handed her the napkin. "Here you go."

"Arigato," she said softly, embarrassed that it hadn't worked. She took the offered napkin and dabbed her eyes with it, cursing herself silently. The bartender placed another champagne flute in front of her, filled to the brim. He set down a small glass filled with a light liquid in front of Kotetsu. "What are you drinking?"

Kotetsu raised his glass. "This? It's called Soju. It's like vodka." He held it up, gesturing with his other hand for her to do the same. "Pick up your glass, I want to toast with you!"

"Okay?" Her fingers wrapped around the thin stem of the glass and giggled as the man tapped his glass against hers. "What are we toasting to?"

"That smile finally making another appearance," Kotetsu grinned, bringing the glass to his lips. She watched as he took a little bit of that clear liquid into his mouth, causing her breath to hitch for a second. Not wanting to draw attention to herself, she sipped her champagne, the bubbles tickling her nose more.

"Are you trying to get me drunk?" Karina asked, giggling softly. Kotetsu shook his head rapidly.

"I would never!" Kotetsu said, placing a hand over his heart. "I just...I like seeing you relaxed and happy, that's all." Karina looked down at the bar, not sure of what to say in response to that. She sipped her champagne some more, the liquid quickly disappearing.

Another round was ordered after they had finished their drinks. Karina was feeling a bit loopy and could not stop laughing at everything that Kotetsu was saying to her. He talked mostly about past foes, and how he and Barnaby could never see eye to eye. When he brought up how much he had enjoyed singing and dancing with her, her stomach began to flip-flop.

"How are you feeling?" Kotetsu said, always smiling. That's what she liked about him the most. His pleasant smile. "You like my smile that much?" Oh no! Did I say that out loud?

Karina blushed deeply. "You have a nice smile." She shrugged her shoulders. Standing up from the stool, she wobbled, almost falling over had it not been for Kotetsu's strong arm grabbing her quickly.

"Come on, I think it's time we get out of here," Kotetsu said, still holding her arm. "Can you walk?"

"Of course I can," she said with indignation in her voice. She began to walk, only to find that her legs did not want to do what she wanted them to. Kotetsu was right there, holding on to her arm to keep her steady. "Alright, maybe not so well..."

The older man laughed. "It's fine." He put some money down on the bar and began to walk with her out of the bar. "Do you want me to call a taxi?"

"I..." Her cheeks became flushed once more, unsure of how to ask what she had running through her mind.

Kotetsu shook his head. "You probably don't want your parents to see you in this state, huh? I remember when I was your age, I was the same way. Come on. My house isn't that far from here." He walked over to where a taxi had just parked and opened the door for her. "In you go."

She held her purse tightly to her chest, unable to process what was happening. Without her having to say anything, he had invited her back to his place. Because of her current state. Not because he wanted her to go home with him. She felt like a silly girl, the man of her dreams only being nice to her because she was drunk. She heard him tell the driver where to go and they were off.

I hope he can't feel how nervous I am right now. With him being so close to her in the back of the cab, all she could do was think about how close his body was to hers. His body heat seemed to be the only thing she could feel in the car. They were mere inches apart, his leg so close to hers, yet stayed politely on his side of the car. She hoped that they would take a sharp turn so that her body could 'accidentally' fall into his, but that chance never happened. After a brief ten minutes driving, they had arrived at Kotetsu's home. The man got out of the car, letting her get out as he paid the cabbie for their ride. She wobbled a little as she walked up the few steps to his front door.

"Alright, there?" Kotetsu said, chuckling as he appeared behind her on the small front porch. He stuck a key into the lock and opened the door for them. "Welcome to my home."

She wandered inside, still stumbling a little. She giggled, unable to stop herself. "What's so funny?" Kotetsu asked, flipping on the lights. She dropped her purse by the door, looking around. She slipped off her shoes, leaving them next to her purse.

"It's not what I expected, that's for sure," she said, gasping a little at the blatant honesty that had left her mouth. "I mean, I didn't mean it like that!"

Kotetsu laughed. "Relax. I knew what you meant. Or maybe I didn't. Do you need to call your parents and let them know where you're at?"

"No," she shook her head as she flopped down on the couch, relishing in how soft it was. "They think I'm at a friend's house, working on a project." She giggled, wrapping her arms around herself.

Kotetsu sat down next to her. "Oh? But I thought you had homework?"

"I lied." The honest answers just kept tumbling from her mouth. "I mean, I didn't lie lie, but yes. I actually had my homework finished."

"So...you were just trying to give me a hard time. I see how it is." Kotetsu smirked, setting his striped cap down on the coffee table. "Would you like some water to drink? Or did you want more champagne? I do have some here." Kotetsu got up from the couch, untying his black tie, the white dots becoming a blur as he threw it onto the coffee table where his hat had gone.

Karina shrugged, not sure what she wanted. A part of her wanted another drink, but then she also wanted to be in her right mind should anything happen between the two of them. She felt her breath leave her chest as she saw that Kotetsu had unbuttoned his vest, the ivory fabric a stark contrast to the green shirt. He had undone three buttons on his shirt, exposing his throat. Oh, I'm not going to be able to keep it together. She could feel herself become flush with how attractive he looked at the moment.

"How about I just get you some water?" Kotetsu smiled, heading to the small kitchenette. "Drink some of that first, then maybe we can have some more to drink. I don't want you throwing up. I'd hate to think that I'd ruin champagne for you." As the water poured into the glass, Kotetsu kept talking. "You know, you look very pretty in that dress. I don't think I've ever seen you wear something simple, yet elegant."

"What?" Karina couldn't tell if he was being nice or facetious.

"Wait, no! That isn't how I meant it!" Kotetsu groaned, turning around and walking over to her with the glass of water. She found it humorous that he used almost the same phrase as she had when she had mentioned what she thought about his home. "I just meant you looked really pretty."

Her mood changed instantly. She sighed softly. "Pretty, huh?" She took the glass, looking down at her lap. "I'm always just going to be a girl to you, aren't I?"

"Don't say that, Blue Rose..." Kotetsu sat down on the couch next to her.

"You can't even say my name!" Her anger was getting the best of her, the alcohol in her system fueling her into saying things she normally would never say. "You never call me by my name! You didn't even use it once at the bar tonight!"

Amber eyes widened in silent shock. "Karina-chan, of course I know your name. I just...I don't know why, but I like calling you Blue Rose." His hand raised up off of his lap and began to scratch the back of his neck. "Please don't be upset with me. I'm an old man, you see."

"You're not old!" She said, punching him on the shoulder. He let out a grunt, rubbing the area where she had just punched him. "You're not! You're handsome and wonderful and any woman would be lucky to have you in their life." Crap.

His eyes widened a bit more. "You find me handsome? But...but I thought you had a crush on Bunny-chan."

"You're an idiot!" She screamed, standing up. She couldn't take it anymore. "I'm going home. Thank you so much for the drinks this evening. Thanks for the compliment on my dress. I bought this for you, Kotetsu. I thought that maybe if I wore it, I'd catch your eye. But no, you look at me as a little, lost teenager than has absolutely no hormonal drive." She walked over to the door, only to be stopped by the man she had just been verbally berating.

Kotetsu wrapped his left arm around her waist, keeping his hand against the door. "Karina...I know that you're a beautiful woman. I just...I don't want to take advantage of you. You've had too much to drink. How would it be fair of me to do anything to you with you not at one hundred percent?"

"I'm fine." Her voice was breathless. Out of all the scenarios she had planned out in her head of this moment, this scenario had never crossed her mind. She let out a soft sigh as she felt him tighten his grip around her waist. "Are you going to let me leave, old man?"

His lips brushed against her hair, causing her pulse to quicken. "Do you really think I'm handsome?"

"Yes," she whispered, closing her eyes as he felt his body press against her back. Her hormones were running wild, her body burning hotter and hotter as she thought about the position she was in.

"Do you want to go home?" Kotetsu spoke quietly, his breath ghosting against the shell of her ear. Biting her lower lip, she shook her head, letting out a soft moan as she felt his arm tighten around her waist. "Karina? May I ask you a question?" Unable to find her voice, she nodded her head, silently praying to whatever God there was that it was going to be the question she had been dreaming of him asking her for so long. "Have you ever been with someone before?"

If her blood could boil, it would be doing so. "No..." The heat that had been in her cheeks was now a different sort of heat, embarrassed that she had never had experienced anything before. She never had had the chance to date boys her own age. She was always busy working on her singing career, or making sure that Sternbild was protected as her alter ego, Blue Rose. Boys were just a passing fancy. However, she had read many steamy books, and had imagined all sorts of things happening to her with the man that was currently holding her close to him. I'm dreaming. I have to be. This can't be real.

Soft lips pressed against her neck, making her body shiver. "Tell me, Karina...have you thought about kissing me?"

"Yes." She knew she had to seize this moment. There was no turning away from this. Everything she had done this evening was in hopes of something like this happening. And here it was, happening as if their lives were some silly movie. Taking a deep breath, she turned her body around, pressing her supple chest against Kotetsu's. Her hand shaking slightly, she took her right index finger and let it trail down the exposed part of his chest, eliciting a soft groan from the man's mouth. "Is that a bad thing?"

She never received her answer. As she was pulling her hand away from his chest, Kotetsu lowered his head and let his lips graze against hers. She let out another soft moan, her knees growing weak as she felt his soft lips continue to barely brush her own. "Please," she whispered, unable to stop herself for the simple request.

His lips covered hers, the kiss gentle. She pressed her lips against his, enjoying how their mouths seemed to fit together perfectly. Kotetsu gently opened his mouth, letting his tongue rub against her lower lip, causing her to open her mouth in shock at the unique sensation. Taking advantage of the situation, the older man slipped his tongue into her mouth, the pink muscle rubbing against her own. She gripped the green cloth of his shirt tightly, moaning into his mouth as their tongues touched one another. She could feel herself becoming light-headed, unsure as to why, and really didn't care. She kept moving her tongue against his, loving how it felt against her. Kotetsu broke off the kiss, making her gasp for air.

"Karina-chan..." Kotetsu said, panting softly. "Do you...do you want to go upstairs?"

It was a loaded question. She knew that she could refuse and just keep it as a simple kiss. But her body was on fire, aching to be touched in the ways she had read about in those books. She thought about the alternatives to her current situation, and could really see nothing wrong with any of it. She gave Kotetsu a soft smile. "I do."

He picked her up, making her squeal in delight. "Oh, thank heavens. I was afraid I was going to have to convince you to stay with me." He held her in his arms tightly as he began to ascend the stairs up to his bedroom. She had wrapped her arms around his neck, feeling more secure.

When they entered the bedroom, he laid her down on the soft white cotton sheets. "So..." He scratched the back of his neck again, a nervous tick that made Karina giggle.

Blushing a bit, she spoke softly. "I...That was my first kiss. I...I'm not saying I don't want it all tonight, just...take it slow."

Kotetsu gave her a genuine smile. "Your wish is my command." He walked over to the bedside and switched on the small lamp. Once it was turned on, he turned the overhead light off, making the room dim, with only the small lamp's bulb lighting the space. "Don't be nervous, Karina. I promise to be gentle this evening. And if you aren't comfortable, then I will be a respectful gentleman and respect your wishes."

"Arigato," she said, sinking back against the pillows. Her heart was racing, her body about to burst into flame from how nervous she was feeling. Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes. "I'm ready whenever you are, Kotetsu."


A/N: Up next, the good stuff. ^_^ Thanks for reading!