Barnaby doesn't like Christmas. He's unimpressed when there's a tree in his living room, undecorated with Kotetsu waiting, grinning that customary grin at him, and Barnaby has the mind to walk the hell out right then and there.

And he tries, without batting an eye.

"Ah, wait, Bunny – c'mon, don't be like that – "

Barnaby grinds his teeth. Kotetsu should know better, should know he doesn't want anything to do with the holidays or Christmas or celebrating it

But there he is all the same, looking up at him, a little anxious, a little hopeful. Barnaby sighs, sags back onto his heels, and doesn't, at least, pull away.

"What do you want, Kotetsu?"

"For you to help me decorate this tree."

It's a particularly tall tree and as Barnaby eyes it, he realizes it'll take some time. That aside, it's something he hasn't done for – well. Since he was a child. Since his parents were alive. Since a lot of things that he doesn't want to remember, along with the holidays.

"… Fine."

And yet he relents, because it's Kotetsu, and a good hour later, they're almost done – Kotetsu babbling out loud at how fun the holidays will be with the rest of his family, the things he wants to get Kaede, trying, so obviously, to make Barnaby crack a smile. It doesn't really work, and Barnaby's terribly annoyed by the end of it all, ready to leave and hide behind a laptop screen for the rest of the evening.

"Ahhh… I really got a tree that was tall this year, didn't I? Where's that step-stool already…"

Moments of fumbling later – leaving Barnaby wishing he had snuck out while he could – Kotetsu comes up empty, and might as well be pouting, glaring at the tree like it is an arch nemesis. Barnaby is inclined to tell him to just find a chair to stand on and get it over with to put that final star on top, but –

Instead, Kotetsu, as per usual, makes things come out of his mouth that he'd never expect.

"… Come here."

Exasperated, but fondly so, and Kotetsu doesn't have a moment to spare before Barnaby snatches him up by the hips and hefts him upward. "Put the star on already so we can be done."

The pout is gone, Kotetsu is practically beaming at him (more like a puppy than a tiger, that's to be sure), and Barnaby can't quite put him down once the star is in place. Kotetsu flops back against him quite easily, and Barnaby sighs, adjusting his hold, wryly thinking about how comfortable Kotetsu is with being held like a princess at this point.

He looks pretty happy, at least.

"I'm glad you're here for the holidays this time, Bunny."

"… Me, too." And he means it – seals it with a kiss, even, no matter the weary sigh to follow. "But next time, get a smaller tree."