Speak Not the Secret You Bear

[500 Themes: 440]

Barnaby was sure nothing would come of anything.

There was a simple reason for his way of thinking, even as he stretched out in Kotetsu's too small bed late at night, wrapped up in linens that smelled of nothing but the other man – clean, and pleasantly, softly musky. Kotetsu's arm was a loop around his waist, warm and secure, and Barnaby should have been sleeping – should have found it easy to be sleeping.

Instead, he was staring, wide-eyed and unseeing, at absolutely nothing.

Perhaps, though, he was staring at the elephant in the room, the ghost in their parlor – the simple and raw fact that Kotetsu would never be his, not completely. There was that tight ring of silver that undoubtedly had left a mark on Kotetsu's finger as clearly as the woman it symbolized had upon Kotetsu's life.

It stung, being compared to a dead woman.

That being said, Barnaby could never ask Kotetsu to stop. He could never ask the man to stop loving the woman that he obviously had loved so deeply; he could never tell Kotetsu to remove that ring that haunted him, that seared over Barnaby's flesh when Kotetsu brushed his hand over Barnaby's cheek, dragged his fingers through his hair, grasped his hips and pulled him closer.

It was never close enough.

No matter what, there would still be that ring.


Kotetsu's voice, hoarse from sleep, cut through his thoughts like a knife, and Barnaby jerked, blinking rapidly in an attempt to clear his thoughts. "Mm? What?"

"Why are you still awake, aibou?"

The address was soft and teasing, and Barnaby sunk down into the mattress, nerves melting as he considered the meaning behind the single word. Didn't it stretch so much further than a simple 'partner' did? Barnaby wouldn't claim to understand the complexities of his lover's language fully, but the warmth – the familiarity behind the term was easy enough to grasp.

Such a word likened one to family.

"… Because maybe I like watching you when you sleep sometimes, aibou," was the affectionately returned murmur, and Barnaby shifted forward, face burying itself into the crook of Kotetsu's neck.

"That's kinda creepy." Even so, Kotetsu grinned, albeit sleepily.

"Sorry. I'm sorry. I'm going to sleep now."


As quickly as his insecurities could befall him, Kotetsu seemed just as adept at sweeping them away. There was no way this man was human.