Title: That's Showbiz!
Word Count: 2964
Pairing: Kotetsu x Tomoe
Topic: T&B Anon Meme Prompt.
Type: AU, set in a steampunk early 1900's setting.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Tiger & Bunny. Tiger & Bunny belongs to Sunrise and their respective owners.
Warning: This is an AU fic in the setting of a more advanced 1920-30's type of era, like how Sternbild is an advanced version of the 1970's. Please take note that the characters are in different situations and living different lives than they are in the show. In this case many of them are performers, dancers, and actors. Hence why it is an AU, so if this kind of thing is really not your cup of tea then I'd advise not to read this fic. Other than that I really hope that you enjoy the show!
Important Author's Note: The entire fic is being revised and rewritten for better quality. As soon as I finish the other chapters I will finish the next chapter and put it out there for you. I apologize for the inconvenience. Also a huge thank you to my good friend Clarobell for all the help she gave me for the rewrite of this chapter.
It was safe to say that there weren't a lot of places quite like Sternbild in the world. To many it was considered the place to be. A shining metropolis, decorated with lights that glittered like jewels and where the latest technology could be found. Steamships and airships could be seen around the city as something common. Whereas in the countryside, such sites were rather rare. Even the skyscrapers seemed like something otherworldly. Many were adorned with sculptures and carvings of creatures and Gods that had been long since forgotten. Science did away with such beliefs.
To many Sternbild was considered a city of dreams, where almost anything could happen. People sought to earn their fortune in the city, from the countryside or from other countries entirely. They made their way with stars in their eyes and dreams in their hearts. Many came in search of fame, while there were others that searched for freedom. But as much as it was a city of dreams it could also easily be a city of nightmares. Though its face was full of promise, underneath all that glamour and glory the city was rife with darkness and corruption. Its streets were bright with tempting neon attractions but Sternbuild's underbelly harbored crime like festering rot. Its back alleys were like cracks in its shiny façade, glimpses of the seedy underworld that lay beneath. Often that darkness seeped out into the streets like poison. Shifty people weaving through a sea of dreamers, a dirty rock amongst diamonds. If one was not careful one could see themselves swept away and eaten alive by the city.
The low rumble of thunder echoed through the sky; it had been raining the entire day. It had been a light rain. Fairly gentle most of the time, though on occasion the light patter would shift into a sudden downpour before returning to the gentle melodic patter that slowly soaked the streets of Sternbild. The clouds above threatened the city with a storm but never quite saw through with that threat.
Music drifted out from the open doorway of a Silver Stage district theater in one of the classier parts of Sternbild. It was coming from one of the practice rooms. Inside two forms glided together gracefully, dancing to an old show tune - a favorite in many parts of the city. The rain fell heavier and pattered noisily against the open window pane but the occupants of the practice room neither seemed to notice nor care.
Their feet clacked at first in unison as they danced along the hardwood floor of the practice room. After a few minutes they began to tap individually, taking turns as though challenging one another playfully. The partners were a young couple in their teens. One was a girl; fair skinned and slender, yet well toned from years of practice and performance and dance. She was refined with long dark brown hair that added to her graceful look. Now though, her hair was tied up in a bun so not to accidentally whip the other teen with it in the face. Her partner was a young man; he was very tan and had a worker's build from labouring both on and off the stage. He wasn't as refined as she and he had long spindly legs that he had to keep mindful of. His hair was an attractive reddish brown, though his most fetching feature was his amber colored eyes.
The pair danced very well together. Their moves were timed well, save for a few stylistic differences, and they seemed to instinctively know what to do when the other improvised a part or two. The young woman jumped into the young man's arms, he held her aloft as she stuck a graceful pose. She set down, but she held onto her partner's hand for longer than she meant to and accidentally threw off her partner's balance. One of the young man's tap shoes suddenly slipped and he landed hard on the floor.
"Come on Kotetsu! You're not even trying!" the girl scolded her dancing partner. She looked down at the fallen boy and sighed. They had to get this right, the show was too close. "We have a show tomorrow, so we have to be sure that we're ready, especially since there are going to be critics there. A good review would give our reputation of great boost."
Kotetsu sat on the hardwood floor where he landed. His behind felt a little sore from how he hit the floor. He looked up at Tomoe a little tired because they had been practicing all day without a break. "You know Tomoe, it probably wouldn't have happened if you didn't throw me off balance like that."
"Don't blame me for your mistakes you should have been prepared." Tomoe argued.
She knew that she sounded harsh but it was going to be a big show for the both of them so there was no room for mistakes. It wasn't that she didn't trust Kotetsu's skill, she knew that he was very capable. The two of them had been dancing together as an act for a couple of years. Even if they bickered once in a while they did trust each other.
"It was your mistake this time!" Kotetsu countered, he didn't want to be blamed for something that he didn't do.
He frowned at Tomoe but it wasn't long before his expression softened a little. They were both nervous, it was a grander show than usual. A high class theater for high class entertainment. The audience that they were to entertain was going to expect a lot from them.
"I'm not mad or anything, but you've been a little flaky lately. Are you okay?" Kotetsu suddenly received a small wrap on the head from his partner. "Ow!"
"I am not a flake! I'm fine! I've just had some things on my mind lately." Tomoe finally admitted with a a little stubbornness. She then cast Kotetsu look and pointed to him. "And you're one to talk! You've been acting really strange lately, and it's starting to show in your dancing."
"W-well that's…That's another matter entirely!" Kotetsu stuttered nervously. He couldn't look Tomoe in the eye without blushing after that. He could feel butterflies fluttering in his stomach as he felt embarrassed. He looked away from her and scratched the back of his head.
"Ben's been saying you've been running off with Antonio a lot lately too." Tomoe added with an as a matter-of-fact tone.
She had nothing against Antonio and Kotetsu hanging out together. However the problem was that Kotetsu couldn't afford pulling his usual strange shenanigans. They'd be in big trouble if he got himself locked up and forced to miss the show. There would be time for that after the big day.
"You two better not be causing trouble, remember what happened last time? You both ended up in a police station holding cell and it took both of our pay to get the two of you out of there."
"Well you didn't have to pay for Antonio." Kotetsu grumbled as he thought back on that miserable little incident.
"He's my friend too, Kotetsu!" Tomoe proclaimed. She was a little shocked that he would even say such a thing. "We're all friends; neither of us would have left you to rot in there."
"…Y-yeah, I know." Kotetsu admitted.
Guilt weighed down on him when he realized just how much he must have sounded like a jerk. He couldn't help it if he was a little blunt. But then again, with what Antonio had been helping him with, it was still a lousy thing to say. The guilt then felt even worse.
"Antonio's been helping me with something, that's all." He finally admitted. "I'm not telling you what it is yet."
Tomoe nibbled on her bottom lip nervously. Kotetsu was keeping secrets like this was nothing new but she still wished he'd tell her what was going on. In all honesty, she was getting a little worried that he was searching for a new act. There were rumors that talent scouts and other agents were looking at the both of them. Kotetsu had enough skill and stage presence where he could attract the eyes of people looking for new talent. As did Tomoe for that matter; her skill and discipline were something that would be highly valued.
She would notice when Kotetsu was talking with Ben or when strangers approached him trying to talk business with him. Tomoe was starting to get offers too though, some of which were very tempting. Things like shows on Broadway and opportunities to join famous dance companies. They were things that she used to dream about when she was still in dance school. Yet, Tomoe wasn't willing to just leave the act and what she had with Kotetsu. They had worked so hard to get as good as they were. They were a team. Maybe even something more than that.
Tomoe felt herself blush at the sudden thought. There had been times when Kotetsu and her were easily more than just friends. Moments where they clearly felt something for each other but didn't have the words or courage to say it. It as easy as one would think, saying three simple little words. They were both very stubborn. It was an unspoken agreement that the two of them were in love. Maybe that was the real reason why neither of them would accept new contracts. But if that was true, then why was Kotetsu talking with other agents?
"Hello? Tomoe? Tomoe!" Kotetsu called as he snapped his fingers in front of her. He was a little worried, it wasn't all that often she would space out like that. Perhaps a break would be a good idea for the both of them.
"W-what?" Tomoe said with a blink. She was taken a little off guard, she had been so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't realize that he was talking to her still.
"You were starting to scare me a little there; you just went off into some dreamland." Kotetsu said with a weary smile. He was getting a little worried about her, maybe she had been working too hard and needed a rest. Maybe she needed to talk, though admitedly, he wasn't best at such things but he did his best to listen. "I'm sorry for all the trouble, I'll work harder. But are you okay? If there's something on your mind, you can tell me, you know?"
"You're not exactly an open book yourself, Kotetsu." Tomoe pointed out. "You never like talking about your own problems, but you keep getting involved in everyone else's. Don't you think you're being a bit of a hypocrite?"
"Ouch! As usual you hit me right where it hurts!" Kotetsu jested as he dramatically put a hand over his heart. He did it in hopes of getting Tomoe to laugh a little.
Instead, it backfired on him. Tomoe was none too impressed with Kotetsu's childish behavior. "And you are still just a silly circus clown."
That time Kotetsu really did look like his feelings were hurt. He scratched the back of his head and looked away from his partner. "I guess the circus never really leaves you, huh?"
There was a long, awkward silence between them. Tomoe knew that she hit a nerve that time. While a lot of people in show business got their start in various ways, some were seen as a little more embarrassing than others. Kotetsu wasn't really proud of his days in the circus. It was a part-time job along with working in local theaters as a janitor and being stagehand. Compared to Tomoe's prestigious background, it made Kotetsu a little self-conscious. She had the opportunity to study dance at a professional school. He had to pick up tricks from whoever was willing to teach him and improvise. There was no contest between the two.
"Hey Tomoe, how long have we been partners in this act?" Kotetsu asked.
Tomoe looked at Kotetsu a little surprised. "What brought that up?"
Kotetsu smiled a little. "I just want to know, I guess. Is that a crime?"
"I'd say about over two years now." Tomoe said in a matter of fact tone. She turned away from Kotetsu, her expression softened a little. Kotetsu had been asking all sorts of strange questions at the strangest times lately. It only continued to feed her suspicions that things between them were coming to an end. Things such as how she felt about them being partners or why she's been turning down other more well paying contracts. She tried asking Ben what was the reason for Kotetsu's behavior. Strangly he would suddenly clam up and tell her it'd be best if she asked Kotetsu about it herself.
Tomoe tried to avoid that option for a while but now was as good a time as any to get to the bottom of this. Even if it was an answer she didn't want to hear. "What's been with you lately? You've been acting stranger than usual. You've been messing up more during practice and asking all sorts of silly questions. Just tell me already, it's driving me crazy!"
Kotetsu seemed a little surprised that she brought the subject up. He then seemed to think it over for a moment. "Well, I've been thinking, we've been together for some time now. Both of our careers are starting to take off." He then laughed a little at some of the memories. "It sure wasn't easy though, we argued quite a bit at the beginning. But you always kept me on track. I know I complained a lot, but I really appreciated it. When I think about it, I probably wouldn't have even gotten this far without you."
Tomoe felt her heart beat quicken, she was starting to feel a little flattered and nervous at the same time. Hearing that he appreciated what she did meant a lot, especially since she'd worry if she was too harsh with him at times. But the unnerving part of it was that Kotetsu was talking about things in all past tense. Did that mean that he didn't feel the same way anymore?
"We've been together for a good while now, I kind of want to try a new kind of partner-" Kotetsu stopped when he heard Tomoe sniffle. "H-hey, are you…are you crying? Why?"
Tomoe's face was red with her blushing; she looked like she was on the verge of tears. "…I don't want to break up our act." she finally said, a short sob escaped her.
"Huh?" Kotetsu looked completely confused. He mentally went over what he had just said. "Who said anything about that?"
Tomoe frowned and gave a stubborn sniffle. "That's what you've been trying to talk to me about all this time, wasn't it?"
"What? No! No! No! I've been trying to find a way to ask if you'd marry me!" Kotetsu froze for a second after the words left him. He clapped a hand over his mouth while his face flushed a rosey tint from embarrassment. That wasn't exactly the way he wanted to tell her. Weeks of planning had went down the drain all over stupid slip of the tongue.
"W-what did you say?" Tomoe's eyes went wide; it took a moment for what she heard to click. "Marry you?"
Kotetsu scratched the back of his head in a sheepish manner and looked away from her. "S-so no, I wasn't thinking about breaking up the act. I was thinking that we could make it a more 'permanent partnership'." He then bit his bottom lip, saying this was more painful than he thought it would be. Kotetsu couldn't help but think that he probably sounded really lame.
Tomoe was quiet for a while as she wiped the tears from her face. She no longer looked like she was about to cry but she had an unreadable look on her face.
Kotetsu gave a nervous half laugh and swallowed. He felt light headed and his heart hammered in his chest. Who was he kidding? Like she would honestly want to marry a clown like him. "So I guess that must be a 'no' then, huh?"
He felt a little sick to his stomach, he was sure he had messed things up pretty good this time. First he made her cry and now here he was sounding like a moron talking about marriage. Kotetsu T. Kaburagi felt like a jerk, he was pretty sure his life was over in that moment. But before he could apologize and even start to take back what he just said Kotetsu found himself trapped in a hug.
"Of course I will you idiot!" Tomoe said against him. She then pulled away a little so she could look Kotetsu in the eye. There seemed to be a new determination burning in her. "But that doesn't mean I'll go easy on you! So come on, let's finish practice and we'll talk more about this, okay?"
Kotetsu was dumbfounded. He gave a confused blink as his mind tried to catch up with what just happened. He want to pinch himself just to be sure it wasn't some dream or a cruel hallucination. But no, this was real, he was sure if it. When he looked at Tomoe seeing how happy she was, there was no way it couldn't have been real.
"I wouldn't want it to be any other way." He then leaned in and gave her a kiss on her forehead. "It's you and me, right?"
"That's right." Tomoe declared with a confident smile. "Okay, enough of this mushy business! We got a crowd to wow tomorrow so we have to get this routine right!" She then looked down at Kotetsu and gave him a cheeky wink. "After all, we'll be debuting as the future Mrs. and Mr. Kaburagi!"
-End of Chapter-