I like being around you.

The words don't quite come out, and Barnaby's glad, settles on a simple, "Kotetsu" instead. Even that is too difficult to roll off of his tongue – unfamiliar, saying his name and not simply old man. New, too, and as startling to him as it is to Kotetsu (thank god).

I want to stay around you.

"Yeah, Bunny?"

That's familiar, at least. The nickname makes his lips quirk into a smile when not a week ago, it would have made him glower. "Well – nothing. Thank you."

Kotetsu shoots him a quizzical glance, and Barnaby glances away, wishing he were anywhere else even if Kotetsu's presence is what he wants. His face burns and he wishes, acutely, desperately, that he had the same drive to reach out to this man as he did to seek revenge.

Maybe if he waited a little while, one would replace the other, now that it's over and done with.

Barnaby hopes so, because he longs to the point that his hands shake at the thought of it – of Kotetsu, warm and sure and steady near and maybe against him, strong, broad hands dragging over his hips, lips and teeth against his throat. It makes him that much hotter, makes him flush and makes him lick at his lips as he shakes his head again (for what reason, he doesn't know).

He's fine, until Kotetsu sets a hand upon one shoulder, squeezes, almost-kneads.

Too much then, and he exhales a breath that he doesn't quite remember holding.

"Dunno what you're thanking me for, Bunny, but you're welcome. I'm just glad to see you act happy for once. You're a lot cuter when you smile!"

I need to be around you, for that to happen.

Revenge replaced by another kind of wanting wasn't such a bad thing after all.