Determination, especially in matters that seem to hold you back

[ 24 Hour Themes: 3AM]

He was still warm, even in death.

Barnaby was, in spite of all of his realism, one for false hopes. Wasn't that why he chased after a ghost of a murderer for years, even when he didn't have as much as a single glimpse of a face? But there was no chance for a false hope here, not with Kotetsu in his arms, limp and with his heart still.

Even though Kotetsu was still warm.

How did the man manage that? Barnaby tried not to let his thoughts wander to the way Kotetsu felt in his arms in every other situation other than this – how warm and strong and sure he was, no matter how clumsy. If anything, he deserved to be the one in Kotetsu's arms like this, because wasn't all of this his fault?

Kotetsu had been forced to be his partner.

Forced be caught up in all of this. Forced to follow at his heels, pick up the pieces of his life.

Kotetsu had been forced to leave his family for his work.

Willingly helped him through everything, so very, very willingly stayed behind and put off quitting, and if he had just quit and left, none of this would have happened because Kotetsu wouldn't have been here, but instead he had stayed behind for Barnaby and oh, god, did that ache, especially when a young girl that Barnaby recognized from countless, countless photos shoved into his face ran into the room and saw her father like this.

It stung. It was far too close for comfort.

"Hello, Barnaby."

And then, there was Maverick. Barnaby couldn't even see him through the wash of his tears and he knew, knew that sickening drawl of his name that made him sick, sick, sick to his stomach.

His head bowed and his breath washed over Kotetsu's forehead, a mockery of a kiss as Barnaby set him aside as gently as he could and rose to his feet.


He would face the murderer of his parents – alone, once again. Back to square one.