Treachery Runs Deep

[500 Themes: 382]

Kaede has never thought much beyond 'thank goodness Dad is happy again', when it comes to Kotetsu's relationship with Barnaby.

There was a moment of awkwardness – for all of five minutes. It mostly consisted of that strange transition from having a crush on her number one idol to realizing the man was her father's boyfriend, and so there was some whittling down of her dreams and ideas to be Barnaby's bride.

But she's a sensible girl, when it comes down to it. She knew, from the get-go, such a thing would never happen – so it's not much to banish the thought, to sigh and admire nonetheless, to be happy that her father is happy, and oh, is it obvious that he is.

She's young, but she's not stupid. She can see the looks shared between them, the way their hands subtly brush, the way Barnaby doesn't even blink when Kotetsu's tired and yawning and leaning sideways to rest his head against his shoulder. She knows before Kotetsu even tries to explain it to her – well, mostly knows, anyway. It's good to hear proof of it so she's not just guessing.

It doesn't occur to her, really, that others would think any differently about their relationship – that others wouldn't want them to be happy.

Why wouldn't someone like that? Obviously, there are awful people in the world – people that want to hurt others, people that don't care, as demonstrated many times over. But still – her father and Barnaby aren't hurting anyone, being together like this. They're happy, they're in their own little world, and Kaede is so sure, so very sure that her mother is even happy, because it's obvious that Kotetsu hasn't been happy in so long and now that he finally is -

Kaede's happy, too.

So, yes, it is a surprise to hear the mutterings, the glances, sideways and judging and cold when Barnaby and her dad take her out for something as simple as ice skating. It isn't a commonplace thing, and usually it's so brief she doesn't notice or they don't notice or both, but today, it's loud enough that she hears it the moment the pair of them turn away as she's pulling on her skates and simultaneously contemplating taking them off to throw them at the offenders' heads.

"You'd think retired heroes would be setting a better example."

"Right? It's disgusting, he's got a daughter. They even drag her around when they're together like this – "

"It's probably all a publicity stunt, anyway. Acting like a bunch of fags, just to feed the tabloids – sick, just imagine if his dead wife was alive what she'd think – "

At that point, Kaede goes past contemplating, and chucks said skate with all the force she could muster.

Not much, but it's enough to sail between them, to make them jump and scatter and stare at her as if just noticing she were there.

Kaede sees red.

"You're the ones that are disgusting!" And she's crying on top of seeing red, on top of shaking so hard that she can barely even pull off the second skate and prepare for another wind-up. "My dad and Barnaby love each other – they're happy together and for you to say things like that about them – to say things about my mom like that – "

"Kaede, that's enough."

Kaede's still shaking even though her father's hands are firm upon her shoulders, even though his voice is low and soothing. "I'm happy with them!" she spits out nevertheless, even though the pair talking about them, insulting them has turned away, rolling their eyes. "I'm happy that they're together, so you can't just s-say things like that when you don't know anything – "

"Kaede, it's fine."

Her father sounds so calm that it makes her even angrier, and she's whirling in his arms, glaring up at him, face tear-streaked and red. "It's not fine, they shouldn't – "

"It's fine," Kotetsu repeats, even though his voice shakes a bit as well, and his smile is strained as he kneels to grab her into a proper hug. "You said it yourself – they don't know anything, right?"

"… Doesn't make it okay for them to say things like that."

Her face buries itself into Kotetsu's shoulder all the same, her hands clinging to his back and she's so glad that she can do that. She doubts, without Barnaby in his life, in her life, she would be here with him right now – because Barnaby is who has made the difference. For no one to understand that – oh, god, it makes her angry. Makes her shake that much harder and sniffle and sob as she clings to her father for dear life.

"Everyone has an opinion." And that's Barnaby – long, gentle fingers on the top of her head, stroking her hair. He sounds tired, annoyed, but far from as anxious as her father. "It'll be okay, Kaede." He pauses, and then adds: "Just work on your aim next time."

She sniffs hard, half-laughs. "I wasn't even really looking."

"Don't encourage her to throw things at people – "

She can almost hear Barnaby's bland stare. "They deserved it."

"… At least don't throw sharp ice skates at people."

"Mm… well, it is better to ignore people like that, overall."

Or, Kaede decides for next time, it is better to try touching either Kotetsu or Barnaby, and then opting to throw a car instead.