Self-image and personal security

[24 Hour Themes: 1 PM]

Kotetsu always has had little nicks and lines, dotting over his form in some odd array – like stars and disconnected constellations, almost, that Barnaby has been inclined to play connect the dots with since the first time he had the other man naked and close to him.

Now, though, there was a scar of a burn – mottled flesh, wide and broad and on anyone else, perhaps considered ugly, stretched over the side of Kotetsu's chest. It was too wide for a single one of Barnaby's hands to splay over, and he found himself frowning whenever he touched it.

A memory of what they had lost. A memory of what they had gained.

A medal of Kotetsu's experience, if nothing else.

"You stare at it a lot," Kotetsu pointed out, a wry smile on his lips. Barnaby could only sigh and lean back with a shrug.

"It bothers me."

"What about it?"

"It makes me think about how I could have lost you."

Barnaby thought it to be a very valid argument. Instead, Kotetsu merely shook his head and reached out, fingers tracing the bare skin of the blond's right thigh. Scars there, too – the first ones Barnaby could think of acquiring besides a minor scrape. They were definitely ugly, and Barnaby flinched a bit at the touch.

"You'll never lose me," Kotetsu replied instead, and Barnaby's wandering thoughts about his modeling career going out the window courtesy of a hideous mark on his leg flew out the window. "Stop being so pessimistic. That's not you."

"But…" Too late to protest. Barnaby could already feel himself melting down to his bones and he turned his gaze away, even as his hand fell on top of Kotetsu's. Grasping Fingers twining, squeezing. A long exhale escaped from his chest. "Stop being so…"

"Positive? Optimistic? Can't, and won't apologize."

And then Kotetsu kissed him. Long and deep and warm as always, never perfect but always so damnably, genuinely affectionate that Barnaby could do little but yield to such a gesture. Their hands were another lifeline, clinging to one another just as their lips did – breathing each other's air and Barnaby could have collapsed right then, nearly did, even, with his face pressed to the crook of Kotetsu's shoulder.

"Besides," was the murmur between hitching breaths, "you have to admit, the scars make me look even better in my old age."

Barnaby just laughed. What else could he do, when he was the other half to such a ridiculous, flawed, scarred, amazing man?