No man is an island

[500 Themes: 229]

Barnaby was less than thrilled about the coming of his birthday.

He was never fond of the date to begin with – it was terribly awkward to have been born on Halloween, but the season itself meant the approach of holidays he was rather inclined to forget. Halloween was just the start of it, and it left him sighing from where he was lazing about on their couch, gaze trained to the cityscape beyond the window.

So much for thinking this year, with Kotetsu and Kaede by his side, would make it any easier.

"What's that face for?"

A thud followed Kotetsu's sudden inquiry, and Barnaby glanced up with a startled blink. Not only was Kotetsu's presence a surprise, but the appearance of one rather large pumpkin set upon a nearby table was … well. Odd. Barnaby's brow furrowed.

"… It's nothing."

A bald-faced lie. Kotetsu's own expression turned mildly put out, but he didn't press. He never pressed. He always waited, and Barnaby could only sigh, a mix fond and exasperated.

Of course he waited. Kotetsu always heard what was bothering him in the long run, after all.

"Well, if it's nothing, then you can help me carve this. I was thinking of making a little tiger or something!"

And now Barnaby was simply bemused. "… Isn't it a little early? It'll rot – and I thought we were going to do this with Kaede." It was a tradition he could get behind much easier than trick-or-treating nonsense, after all.

"We're going to do another one with Kaede," Kotetsu easily announced, visibly brightening with the recollection. "This one is a surprise for her. Also – " he continued before Barnaby could roll his eyes up towards the ceiling. "Afterwards, we're going to roast the pumpkin seeds together, and watch some old sci-fi movie, and relax. Because you look like you need it."

In that instant, Barnaby couldn't recall why he thought this holiday season would be so incredibly unbearable.

The softness of Kotetsu's expression, the warmth of those words – the blond sunk back into the cushions, averting his gaze as he drew in a calming breath. It didn't start the leap of his heart into his throat, the pleasant flush of his skin, and it certainly didn't stop the thundering of his pulse when Kotetsu moved closer, leaned down, and pressed a kiss – soft and affectionate – to the corner of his mouth.

"… Sound good?" It was a quiet confirmation, but to Barnaby, it might as well have been another blanket of perfection to drown out everything else that was wrong with the world – everything that was wrong with him.

"Yes." Equally low, a little breathless, but no less fond, especially with the smile that dared tug upon his lips. "Yes. That sounds nice, Kotetsu." Thank you.