On the Brink of Forever

[500 Themes: 409]

Adventures in the multiverse

Effervescent candlelit closeness

Plus, I feel like I've just got the hang of this living thing

Barnaby finds that he loathes winter more and more with every passing year.

It isn't a difficult thing to hate, with his birthday falling just as the weather begins to chill. It isn't difficult at all, not when holidays come and go, and he's left with another Christmas Eve to face – another Christmas day, something he meets with a shut door and as stony and sharp of a barricade as he can muster.

The latter is easier said than done when Kaburagi T. Kotetsu lingering at his heels.

Upon the eve of Christmas Eve, he is forced out into the open, dragged along in a heavy coat and scarf and huffing his breath into the open air just to see it fog as he fumes near-audibly. Kotetsu is trying, always is trying, so very hard to make him crack a smile, and Barnaby find himself patently ignoring him until a mug of hot chocolate is shoved into his grasp, purchased by some run-down vendor that Barnaby would have never, ever approached himself.

It's probably the best hot chocolate he's ever had, as strange as that is.

The steam rising from the cup wisps 'round and around, and Barnaby can't help but imagine – as they settled onto a park bench and Kotetsu casually slings his arm over the back of it, almost touching his shoulders but not quite – that steam as some string, unspoken and ever-tangling, that binds them together.

It's a nice thought, at least.

It's a nice thought, to have something that binds him to Kotetsu when he feels so white and pale next to him at times – so much like a ghost when enveloped in the other man's hold, shadowed so heavily by his warmth. Barnaby sips at his drink, gazes upward, frowns at the splatter of snow upon his glasses, and wonders if Kotetsu ever thought he was a ghost – wisping through some pale shade of a life.

He wonders if that is why Kotetsu drags him out on days before the days that are the worst anniversaries of things, to make sure he doesn't become a ghost yet again.

Maybe it's a little easier to imagine the steam rising from his cup as something more tangible – maybe something like a string, bound from pinky to pinky, red and as blood-stained as the entirety of both of their lives.

Barnaby does like that. He likes that they have both have had their share of tragedies. He likes that they can breathe and bond and talk about such things, no matter how it hurts, no matter how they couldn't do as much at first. He likes that they have grown capable of doing such things.

He likes to think they'll keep growing more, and that some day, he won't cling to Kotetsu so incessantly. He likes to think that at some point, he will be fine when Kotetsu goes wherever he pleases – that he will be able to fully feel every twang and stretch and vibration of that red string, no matter where or what Kotetsu does.

Barnaby wonders, then, if Kotetsu has similar thoughts.

Setting his mug aside, Barnaby carefully pulls his glasses off, frowning at the watery smudges upon them that were once delicate snow. Annoying to clean with leather gloves making his fingers fumble, and so he simply leans back with a sigh for a moment – and then, eventually, to the side with his head coming to rest upon the other man's shoulder.

"Even without my glasses," he says, soft and calm, "I can see you like this."

It's kind of a lie. Kotetsu is a bit blurry, but long-memorized features are supplied by his mind's eye all the same. Warm features, dressed in earth tones of brown and black and green and tan – safe colors, not the vivid work of nature attempting to warn him away from something poisonous. No, Kotetsu has always been safe, first and foremost.

"You're a liar."

And Kotetsu leans in, then, lips pressing – still warm, how are they still warm in all of this cold? – to his own. Barnaby honestly can't see that well, and so kissing is always a bit disorienting sans glasses, but –


In this moment he is content to let Kotetsu do as he will.

"I can see you well enough." To know that you are the man I love.

Unspoken, but unneeded.

Perhaps this winter will not be so very cold after all.