Assistance for others, focusing on concrete matters

[24 Hour Themes: 9AM]

Barnaby Brooks, Jr. wasn't pouting.


He definitely wasn't.

He also wasn't sulking, he also wasn't annoyed. He was, however, aware that others would perhaps perceive this differently, especially when he dropped himself down into his office chair with a heavy thump, slammed his bag down onto the table, and came just shy of kicking the file cabinet when it decided to not open right away.

Peripherally, he was also aware of Kotetsu staring at him.

"What?" came the blond's snap, and Kotetsu's hands immediately rose, attempting to mitigate some of the hostility tossed towards him.

"Nothing, nothing. You just seem… a little put off this morning."

Barnaby glared, Kotetsu winced, and there was an awkward silence that followed. Barnaby took that time to slam his coffee down onto the desk as well. Fortunately, it didn't splash.

"… Did you not sleep well or som-"

"I dumped my girlfriend last night."

Awkward. Everything about this was awkward. Telling Kotetsu this was awkward, explaining this to him was awkward, but more awkward was the stare that Kotetsu gave him.

"I didn't… realize you had a girlfriend." Pause. "Ah, that's… well – "

Barnaby suddenly realized he shouldn't have said a thing. "It doesn't matter. Now you know."

There was that silence again – that probing gaze that made Barnaby shift uncomfortably and reach for his coffee in an attempt to look like he didn't care. And then suddenly, Kotetsu's expression shifted wry.

"Are you sure she didn't dump you?"

The coffee was promptly choked upon. "I – that is not what happened."

"But you're pouting." Barnaby ground his teeth at having such a thing pointed out to him. "Pouting and acting so wounded – and you know, the fact I didn't even know was telling! If you don't show a girl off once in awhile – "

"It wasn't like that." Green eyes sharply fell upon the older man, a disapproving frown in place. "We weren't even that close. I'm not upset, I'm certainly not pouting, and I would appreciate it if you didn't continue to talk about it."

Kotetsu seemed to contemplate this – at least, for a moment. A frown of his own slid into place. "… If you weren't even that close, why are you upset?"

"I'm not – " Exasperated. He was starting to get stares from their secretary and dear god, if that wasn't embarrassing. Barnaby set his face into one hand for a moment. "… It isn't that she dumped me." There. Admitting it. Maybe that would shut the idiot up. "It's that she dumped me. Barnaby Brooks, Jr. I mean, how – "

And then, Kotetsu started laughing.

Barnaby could have killed him in that moment.

Perhaps he could have phrased it better, but he doubted the other man would have even begun to understand. The relationship itself, after all, had been a publicity stunt; draping a model upon his arm would look good, or so said his sponsors, and so said Mr. Maverick. It didn't by any means point to enjoyment of the woman's company upon Barnaby's part. It didn't by any means point to enjoyment of expectations that went beyond the public eye, or that awkward, horrible moment when he was expected toenjoy having some woman that he cared so little for that he could only half remember her name as she was draped over his bed in nothing but –

He supposed in the end, it was no small wonder that she dumped the name that was Barnaby Brooks, Jr.

No, Kotetsu wouldn't understand any of that – especially when Barnaby sort of bitterly, with a large wave of frustration, wished it was Kotetsu draped over his bed, wearing even less.

To hell with all of it.

"… Get your paperwork done, old man. I'm going to train."

"Ahhh, don't be like that."

The sudden grasp upon his wrist made Barnaby equal parts want to jerk away, lash out, and revel in the sensation of calloused fingers curling against his skin. Barnaby barely stopped the too-heavy exhale that wanted to escape.

"You know, I could give you some tips, if you want. For dealing with – "

"That's unnecessary." And salt to the wound. A jerk of his wrist within Kotetsu's hold followed. "You can let me go now."

"You know, Bunny," Kotetsu continued as if the latter statement had never been spoken, "you're a good guy. You just need to take someone else's advice once in awhile."

In that instant, Barnaby wavered.

Why was Kotetsu capable of saying such simple, obvious, stupid things and making them sound so good to his ears? His teeth set to his lower lip briefly, worrying it in his frustration – and his panic, because if he stayed, he would say too much, and if he went, he might lose an opportunity to get closer, closer still

His knees bent before he could process the action and he sat back into his chair.

"Go on, already, then."

If nothing else, he could sort of imagine Kotetsu's words out of context, and play a game of make-believe by thinking of them as how the old idiot would pursue him.