"Dad," Kaede says out of nowhere as she stares at something on the wall – a picture, Barnaby guesses, all while he shifts uncomfortably on the couch, trying not to think about how his hot cocoa mug is nearly burning his hands or how the lights on the Christmas tree are giving him headaches with how fast they're blinking. "Dad, you need to take this one down."
"Huh?" And Kotetsu goes over to her, scratching the back of his head – honestly looking perplexed as he glances down at his daughter. "What do you mean? It's a masterpiece, of course I wanna keep it up!"
Barnaby glances over his shoulder, then, taking in the sight. They're standing in front of some picture Kaede has drawn for her father – framed and hanging on the wall, among the first things they had put there upon moving into their new place. Kotetsu told him the story a dozen times of how he had been given the picture in question; how Kaede had lept after him when he was already on the train, thrust the picture into his hands, how he had nearly sobbed when he had unrolled it and seen the thing –
Ah, awkward. Awkward. He has never felt so awkward. This isn't his family, not at all – definitely not his family gathering.
"But I drew a new one, so you have to put it up instead. This one's not entirely accurate."
She says it like some young professional, and Barnaby guesses that is the influence of one too many law books she's been reading lately (courtesy of a certain judge, without a doubt). He can't help but continue to watch, curious as she thrusts something rolled up and tied in a good dozen sparkly ribbons – appropriately festive for the holiday season, Barnaby bitterly supposes.
Kotetsu unrolls it after gently prying off each ribbon, and Barnaby turns around entirely as he watches his lover's face change from confusion to – well. He isn't quite sure he's seen that expression. It's so very soft – so very warm, and he watches Kotetsu swallow hard, watches him blink hard to keep back what Barnaby doesrecognize as a sharp oncoming of tears.
"… Yeah. Yeah, you're right, Kaede. This one's perfect."
Rather than hang it, though, he turns around, leans over the side of the couch, shoves it in Barnaby's face and presses a kiss behind his ear as he does it, all to whisper:
"I think this is as official as it gets."
Barnaby blinks and leans back a bit to really see what's in his face – and Kaede really has redrawn it, Tomoe in the background, Kaede on her father's arm, andBarnaby there, too.
"… Oh," Barnaby whispers weakly, and Kotetsu just grins, kisses him again, and a whirlwind as always, sweeps around to scoop his daughter up and do the same before pulling the framed picture off the wall to hang the new one.
Maybe this is his family after all.