When doesn't he feel like he needs to apologize to Kotetsu?

The holiday season reminds him of this so very acutely. It's between the sparkling Christmas lights, the glitter of ornaments decorating a dozen trees – between the twist of garland and the heavy scent of pine in the air. All of it reminds him of all of the things he's caught Kotetsu up in, that Kotetsu has suffered through because of him, and it settles in his chest as a deep, resonating ache.

Barnaby wonders if he is being selfish, hurting because he's afraid he's hurt someone else – knows he's hurt someone else. 'Probably' is the answer, but fixing it is another story entirely.

In moments like this, Barnaby tends to linger at the man's side – especially the eve before the eve of Christmas, watching Kotetsu gleefully announce something about fried chicken and cookies and enough soda that Barnaby wants to wince from the thought of what it will be doing to his arteries. But he doesn't. Instead, he sits,lingers, sulks, even, in his own little ring of worrying.

Kotetsu notices, of course. He always does, even if he doesn't say something right away.

So it's at the end of the night that Kotetsu draws him aside, looks him in the eye – warm, golden, soft, and Barnaby struggles not to melt at that gaze and accordingly, break down into something like a puddle on the floor.

"What is it, Bunny?"

And there go all pretenses. That's all Kotetsu has to say, because he's Kotetsu, and Barnaby is burying his face into the man's shoulder, huffing out short breaths as he tries not to sob, tries not to wail, but can't stop crying, of all things. He thinks he sort of explains it along the way – that he hates these damned holidays, that he's so,so nervous about being around Kotetsu's family, that he's sorry for everything he's ever done to make Kotetsu's life more difficult because he isn't worth it and he'shorrible

Kotetsu shuts him up with a kiss, and Barnaby chokes back a sob, grips tight to Kotetsu's hair, and falls back into bed with him, sniffling and clinging to him and feeling every damned inch the orphaned, disillusioned, exhausted brat that he definitely is.

Maybe Barnaby still thinks he isn't worthy of this man, but god, does Kotetsu know how to make him feel like he is. Like he's on a pedestal that is Kotetsu's own, set there for him to stroke and soothe and love.

A bittersweet holiday, perhaps, but as good as he's ever had.