Barnaby couldn't explain exactly how he managed to get into this situation.

That was a lie, he knew the precise reason he was lurking at the newsstand across the street from a quaint cafe located in the heart of Sternbuild. He knew the reason, but he was having a very difficult time coming to terms with it. The streets bustled with citizens that Barnaby had spent his days protecting with the assistance of his goofy, older, clumsy partner, Kotetsu Kaburagi, who incidentally was the root of Barnaby's current problem.

Kotetsu was excactly the same man who Barnaby had happened to spot in the aforementioned cozy looking cafe before he (for reasons Barnaby wanted to pretend didn't exist) dashed toward the newspaper stand, clutching a Sternbuild Times paper firmly in front of his face.

He was hiding from Kotetsu. Definitely hiding.

Barnaby scowled behind the newspaper, his face forming into a frown that he knew Kotetsu would refer to as 'not cute at all'. The older man had always found ways to try to turn Barnaby's mood around; Barnaby hated to admit that Kotetsu's stupid techniques almost always worked perfectly. That was one of those things Barnaby thought about late at night when he was trying to think of anything but Kotetsu. Those and the hundred other sickeningly adorable habits the veteran hero seemed to have.

Reluctantly, Barnaby flicked down one edge of the paper, peering past it into the cafe where Kotetsu was still sitting, sipping on a mug of something. Coffee, perhaps. The weather was cooler than usual; it was finally starting to feel like December. People were adorned in their winter clothing, wool hats, mittens, heavy boots and winter jackets. Barnaby was no exception to the cold climate, and he too wore a classy and expensive winter jacket and bright red scarf.

I should go say hello, it's only polite. Barnaby thought to himself, but the mere idea tied his stomach into knots of nervousness. This wasn't the first time something like this had happened, and Barnaby was certain more unwelcome feelings would work their way out of the depths of his body. I'm really an idiot.

Forcefully folding the paper back to its original state, Barnaby tossed it back onto the newsstand, smiling curtly at the man who glanced up at him over a magazine.

As he walked as confidently as he could muster at the moment, Barnaby felt his heart thundering in his chest harder than a jackhammer. At least getting his blood pumping was making the weather easier to bear. The young man huffed out a particularly aggravated breath as he strode along the busy sidewalk.

Not untypical of the norm, Barnaby heard people whisper whilst pointing to him. Generally it was things such as 'Is that Barnaby from Hero TV?' or 'Should we go ask for an autograph?' and things of the like, and usually Barnaby would stop to talk to these fans, happily obliged to their photo or autograph requests and move along. But not right now. Barnaby was on a mission of his own. A mission that wouldn't be broadcasted on Hero TV.

The door of the cafe had a bell attached to it and jingled loudly as Barnaby pushed open the door. The clerk at the counter smiled warmly at Barnaby as the blonde walked up to the counter. The aroma was almost overwhelming. Pastries and coffee were the two most pungent smells in the café, but the scent of hot chocolate and a hint of what smelled like alcohol also were noticeable.

"Just a coffee, for here, thanks," Barnaby said quietly, still trying to hide the fact he was in the cafe.

"No sugar, rum, or cream?" The server asked while pouring the freshly brewed coffee into a mug.

"No, fine as it is," Barnaby responded shortly. Rum. That explained the faint smell of alcohol Barnaby had noticed moments before. Barnaby handed the man a ten dollar bill, already aware the price was five dollars and forty five cents.

"Here you go, sir," the man responded, handing off Barnaby's mug. "And your change..."

"Keep it," Barnaby said, quickly turning on his heels and walking towards where Kotetsu was seated. As he walked off, Barnaby thought he heard the man say a small 'thank-you', but it sounded somewhat surprised and slightly ingenuine. It's near Christmas, so aren't people generous with their tips this time of year anyway?

Unimportant, trifling nonsense. Barnaby chastised himself internally. He occupied himself with a fictional script for the conversation that was about to erupt with Kotetsu.

While he walked, Barnaby took careful eye of Kotetsu, who looked as though he was reading a newspaper, but Barnaby was almost certain the older man was daydreaming. Another frequent and adorable habit he had. A nervous smile set itself on Barnaby's lips as he finally reached the table.

The sound of Barnaby's boots clacking against the earthy-coloured tiles of the cafe floor must have snapped Kotetsu out of the daydream him because his head lifted from the newspaper he was pretending to be reading.

"Ah, Bunny!" Kotetsu exclaimed as his face changed from neutral to pleased upon recognizing his partner. "I didn't expect to see you here!"

"The feeling is mutual," Barnaby replied calmly, but he felt his voice waver slightly and he hoped it was imperceptible. He pulled out the chair opposite to Kotetsu, and the table at which they were seated was a little small for the two of them. Barnaby set his legs to the side, avoiding the awkward contact of their knees colliding.

"So, what're you doin' out here?" Kotetsu asked, picking up his own mug of coffee and taking a large gulp. "Tryin' to make some more of your fans Christmas dreams come true, right?"

"Not exactly," Barnaby laughed a little, wondering if that was truly what Kotetsu thought he would do. It was a joke, though, of course, no reason to get upset or hurt. Why am I being so sensitive? I'm ridiculous today.

"Gettin' me a Christmas present, then?" the brown haired man joked, lightly pushing Barnaby's arm and winking wryly. "I like expensive cars and giant mansions, just so ya know."

That smile could melt hearts. Barnaby swooned, unintentionally leaning forward against the table to get closer to Kotetsu's face.

"Oi, watch out, you'll fall outta your chair," Kotetsu warned in an almost fatherly way. "What, did you get rum in your coffee or somethin'?"

"What, no, of course not," Barnaby straightened his composure stiffly and narrowed his eyes at the older man. "You did though, didn't you?"

"Well," Kotetsu grinned cheekily, taking a sip of his drink and emphasizing a refreshing breath after it. "Sorta hard to resist it when they offer."

"Don't go getting drunk in a public cafe now, you've got no one who cares enough to drag you home," Barnaby cautioned, wagging a finger in Kotetsu's direction. He tossed Kotetsu a patented snide Barnaby smile.

"I have you to count on for that, don't I?" Kotetsu said, his voice carried a hint of hopefulness.

As a blush began to creep along his face and warm his cheeks, Barnaby reached across the table, snatching Kotetsu's mug from him. "We've got each other for it," Barnaby said, as he took a drink out of Kotetsu's mug.

Why does he have to be so cute? Barnaby thought idly, as he finished off the rest of Kotetsu's drink as the older man protested adamantly.

"You drank it all!" Kotetsu gaped, upon finally grabbing the mug from his young partner's clutches. "You know, you're payin' for my second one."

"Don't be ridiculous." Barnaby said, feigning innocence.

"But you're the one who drank my coffee."

"I'll make you coffee at my place, I actually have something to ask from you," Barnaby tried to sound serious, as though Kotetsu's refusal would not be an option.

"Your place? Right now?" Kotetsu seemed to look torn, and he remained seated despite Barnaby raising to his feet. "I still have some Christmas shopping to do …"

A strange pang of jealously struck Barnaby hard at that moment. And for a second, he was unsure of what to say or how to respond. Reacting quickly, as he had always trained himself to do when unpleasant emotions surfaced, Barnaby turned away from the older man.

"I see, well if you must," Barnaby responded quietly, beginning to walk away, headed for the door. "Contact me later, if you can."

"Whoa, wait, Bunny," Kotetsu urged, stumbling from his chair as he snatched his jacket off the back of it. He caught up to Barnaby as the blonde was pushing open the door.

They exited the café side-by-side, and Kotetsu struggled to pull on his winter coat as their pace quickened. "Can it wait, or is it important?"

Important. Barnaby smiled, despite his desire to show no emotion. Confesstions like this are more trouble than they are worth. Barnaby knew what he was thinking about Kotetsu was absurd and he also knew it wasn't important. Selfish definitely, but important, not exactly. Even though Barnaby wanted to say yes, he simply shook his head and uttered a quiet "No."

Kotetsu didn't seem to understand and he stared at the younger man.
"As in, no it can't wait, or no it's not important?"

At that Barnaby stopped dead in his tracks, and Kotetsu matched. "Both."

Kotetsu frowned in confusion.

"Come to my place tonight around nine. Certainly that should give you enough time to finish your Christmas errands, shouldn't it?" Barnaby said, but there was finality in his voice that said: You will come to my house regardless.

"Yeah, I guess but-" Kotetsu began, still sounding dumbfounded.

"Perfect, I'll see you tonight then," and with that Barnaby pressed forward through the crowd, determined to become lost in the array of people. He heard Kotetsu protest in the distance, but refused to turn around. And for once, Barnaby was thankful for the overly populated streets of Sternbuild.

A/N: This will most likely continue if I can stay interested in writing. I'm not a writer, so I'm certianly not very good, but I hope someone can enjoy this too :)