Title: Walking on that Fine Line
Word Count: 1549
Topic: T&B Anon Meme Prompt: Kotetsu is trapped in an ideal dream world by a Next, and his mind is trying to wake him up.
Type: Canon setting, after the series, In Kotetsu's head (Setting-ception!? Sorry, I'll stop now.)
Genre: Drama, Psychological
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Tiger and Bunny. Tiger and Bunny belong to Sunrise and their respective creators.
VTM: A one shot that I wrote for a prompt of my own. It's for a particular scene that would not leave me until I wrote it. This is the only thing I will write for this prompt, but I really hope that it will still get filled. I apologize if any characters seem OOC. I hope you enjoy the show!
It was late, Kotetsu was on the couch of his living room watching the rerun of that night's "Hero TV" broadcast. At least it was something to do at this hour of the night. Kotetsu gave a half glare at the bottle of prescription pills on the coffee table. He hadn't been able to sleep well with the medication that he had been put on. It was hard adjusting to such a thing, he'd rather not take them at all, to be honest.
"Then just don't take them." said a voice that sounded almost exactly like his own. "It would do us both a favor."
Kotetsu grabbed up the prescription bottle, took out two of the pills, promptly tossed them into his mouth, and swallowed. Though he wouldn't look at the figure that was in the room with him, he could have sworn that he saw him wince from the corner of his eye.
"You can sit there and ignore me all you want, but I not leave you alone." said the figure that shared his face. "The intruder is just giving you an illusion of things that you wish were true."
'What I wished that were true?'
As if the figure in the room could read his thoughts, he suddenly answered. "You know, all those little thoughts that you'd never talk about with anyone." he began. "Like those times you'd be forced to break your promises with your daughter, when you envy other complete families, or those really dark times, when you drink a bit too much, how you sometimes resent being a hero."
Kotetsu's body tensed slightly, his voice almost escaping him in a defensive shout. He caught it just in time though, but thinking about what he was going to say left him bothered.
"I'd never resent being a hero!"
'Why was I going to say that...? I'm not a hero at all.'Kotetsu tried to regain some of his nerve. This encounter with the "other him" was getting to him a lot worse than the other times before.
"Of course you resented it sometimes, you're human after all." Kotetsu's double pointed out. "Especially after Tomoe left us. Heroing was never the same after that, was it? Sure, it's good to save lives, but sometimes people can be a bit cruel. You missed out a lot on Kaede's childhood because of your obligations and she resented you for it. Those were times where you hated being a hero."
All the while the man said this, images flashed in Kotetsu's mind, one was of him and Kaede, both dressed in black, they were at a funeral. Another was of a kid scolding him because he didn't kill criminals and then giving him a good kick to the shin. And another was of Kaede glaring at him over a video call, then yelling at him because he couldn't go for a visit that he had promised. The man could feel his heart beat quicken, he could feel his stomach churn, and his head starting to feel light. But then all of the images were suddenly pushed back, back into the dark recesses of his mind. Kotetsu blinked a couple of times and shook his head, trying to shake the odd panic he had felt for that one moment away.
"I can't say I blame you for wanting to keep a life like this." the "other Kotetsu" said suddenly. There was a weary smile on his face. "It would have been a good life. But it's time to wake up now..."
Kotetsu bit his lip and tried to focus his thoughts. The therapist said that these hallucinations were just all in his head. That the "other him" he had been seeing for the past few weeks and the strange images he were seeing were not real. They were all just hallucinations, he was going to beat this, he was going to have control.
"Just like how you had to gain control of your powers as a kid?" A voice said in Kotetsu's ear. He dare not look at the man it belonged to. Kotetsu then felt a pair of hands take hold of the sides of his face and forced his head to turn. Making him look his double right in the eyes. "It is time to face just what has your heart quickened in pace..." The "other him" said in an almost mocking tone. "The others are waiting for you...Are you going to roll over and let this illusion beat you? "Wild Tiger"?"
"...W-Wild Tiger...?" Kotetsu said with a confused blink. That name was very familiar, but why?
"How about this name? Wild Tiger!"It was another memory, he they were picking out names for...for what?
'That was the hero name she helped me pick out...'Kotetsu suddenly pulled away from his double. "Go the hell away! You're not real!"
The "other Kotetsu" held up a hand and wagged his finger at the man. "No, that's where you are wrong, I'm just as real as you are. We're two sides of the same coin." He moved closer and grabbed Kotetsu by the front of his shirt. "So there is no escaping me, I'm here to get your ass out of this mess!"
"Why the hell do you keep saying shit like that?" Kotetsu snapped. "Strange shit only started happening when you started to show up!" He was suddenly yanked almost violently, being brought mere inches from his double's face.
"Think about it...Isn't it strange how you can't seem to remember chunks of your life?" The "other him" asked, his tone was less condescending by this point, but still firm. "Like just how you met your wife? How or why you came to this city? Or why you can't seem to remember the faces of people like your best friend? Doesn't this just all seem a little strange to you?"
"Y-yeah, but what you're saying is just crazy!" Kotetsu mentally cursed himself, he was arguing with a hallucination. A pretty real feeling hallucination. A hallucination that did have a point. 'Fuck! No, no, no! He's not right at all!'Kotetsu tried to think back on what his best friend looked like, just to prove his double wrong. He could remember that he was a big man, but that was it, everything else about the man was clouded, as if it were being blocked out.
"See what I mean?" the "other Kotetsu said suddenly. "You can't remember, can you? Not even your best friend, who you were in the hero business with for all those years."
"I...I..." Kotetsu's voice came out weakly, he was clearly shaken. It was then that he felt something being placed in his hand. Looking down, he could see it was a large kitchen knife. He stared at it, horror goring on his face.
"That's not the real Tomoe, you know it, I know it." His double said in a more solemn tone. "Our wife is dead, and that bastard is using her image as a tool to try keep you under their control."
Kotetsu's grip on the kitchen knife tightened, he felt anger starting to burn inside him. Something in his double's words now spurred a kind of growing outrage within him. Not because of him saying it, but because now somewhere, in the deepest darkest part of Kotetsu, he knew that there was truth in them.
"Kotetsu...?" said a woman's voice from behind, she sounded very concerned. "Who are you talking to?"
Kotetsu looked over his shoulder and saw Tomoe, looking back at him with the most worried look on her face. Kotetsu could feel the anger within him begin to falter. He tried to keep a tight grip on the knife, for what he was about to do. It had to be quick, it just had to be.
It was then that Tomoe's eyes caught sight of the sharp instrument. "Kotetsu, what are you doing with that knife?"
If she only knew what he was thinking about doing. But his anger was quickly dying down as he saw her face become fearful. Tomoe was afraid, afraid of him, the thought that she would be afraid of him made his heart sink. Kotetsu could feel his heart start to ache. His grip on the knife became looser. He then looked back for his double, perhaps for some sort of reassurance that this really was all a dream. But he was gone.
Arms wrapped around Kotetsu from behind, as Tomoe pressed her frame against his in a secure hug.
"It's okay Kotetsu, please put the knife down..." Her hold on him tightened, she held him as tightly as she could. Wanting to pull him away from whatever dark thoughts were going through his mind.
Kotetsu could feel a tear leak from one of his eyes. "...I'm...I'm really going crazy, aren't I?" he said with a short, forced laugh.
Tomoe slipped one of her hands down to the hand that Kotetsu was now barely holding the knife with. She took hold of the menacing tool and cast it aside. She then returned to hugging Kotetsu securely, lovingly. "No, don't talk like that...I'm here for you, okay?"
Kotetsu's body shook as he tried to hold back with everything he had from openly sobbing. He couldn't tell what was real and what he wanted to be real anymore.
Author's Note: In case if you can't tell what is going on in this bit, the actual prompt was this:
One day Kotetsu wakes up to find Tomoe alive, Kaede living with them, and they are a happy family. He is not a Next, not a hero, but maybe works for the hero division for the company that he's working for. For the most part life is pretty good, it's mostly peaceful, Kotetsu's able to spend time with his family, and they are comfortable and happy.
But after some time, Kotetsu notices that his memory is a little fuzzy in some areas. Tomoe is quick to fill in the blanks, but as time goes Kotetsu can't help but feel that there is something wrong. It doesn't help matters when he starts seeing another version of himself (black Tiger, perhaps?) start to appear when no one else is around, telling him to kill his wife. He confides this to Tomoe and he ends up in therapy, the therapist he is sent to looks oddly familiar, but he can't quite put his finger on why.
Kotetsu starts having dreams or flashes of memory that seem to be trying to tell him something. The "other Kotetsu" can't visit him as often with the medication that he's been put on, but he still talks about how the world is not real and that he needs to "wake up". And that the only way to do that is to kill his wife, as it's the only thing that would probably shock him enough to do so. Kotetsu thinks that he is slowly going mad, as he starts noticing people around the city that he feels that he should know (Antonio, Nathan, and Karina) but doesn't. At times they seem to know him, trying to tell him things that shouldn't make sense, but do. Talking about events that he can't fully remember, making Kotetsu all the more aware that there is something terribly wrong. Meanwhile Tomoe and others seem to be trying to "help" save him from his apparent mental breakdown before it's too late.
In reality, Kotetsu is in a comatose state caused by a criminal Next that he and Barnaby were fighting. The Next escaped by linking themselves to Kotetsu's mind and is effectively holding him hostage. The Next can kill Kotetsu in the real world at any time if the heroes try to pursue them. They are keeping their link with Kotetsu by giving him a dream that is based off of desires, wishes, and feelings that even Kotetsu might not be consciously aware of. However, part of Kotetsu's mind (represented by the "Other Kotetsu" and some of the more bizarre happenings in the dream) is trying to free him from the criminal Next's hold.