Title: That's Showbiz!
Word Count: 4810
Topic: T&B Anon Meme Prompt.
Type: AU, set in a futuristic early 1900's setting.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Tiger and Bunny. Tiger and Bunny belong to Sunrise and their respective creators.
VTM: Another short update before I run to work!
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. So expect some things like slang from that kind of era and other such things. Also, 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 honestly advise not to read this fic. Other than that I really hope that on with the show!
It was late in the morning as Barnaby made his way down the sidewalk. Even with being in the city for a while he barely had a chance to explore. Much of that had to do with his busy schedule. He was either busy going on tours, performing shows, trying to learn what he could about Ouroboros, or was just too tired. It was hard trying to relax and just be himself. Keeping up appearances with the public persona that he put up for his audiences could be rather tiring.
Barnaby stopped in front of a building that he recognized, it was a closed down shop that was boarded up to keep out vandals. "So this place is closed down now, huh?"
The paint on the door was peeling and a thick layer of dust could be seen on the windows. The name of the store, that was painted on the window glass was slowly disappearing time. It was an old toyshop, one of the few places that Barnaby was sure that he could remember. He had gotten a birthday gift there with his parents when he was little. They brought him to that place so he could pick out a toy for himself. He even still had it somewhere in his belongings. A little blue toy robot with yellow eyes. He remembered being so proud of it because it reminded him of something that he saw once before. Something that had to do with his parent's work.
Barnaby remembered little about them. What he did know was that they were very intelligent and they loved him dearly. He also remembered seeing a place that they would sometimes take him to. It had a lot of technology there. Big machines some that could make a lightning and once Barnaby could have sworn that he saw a robot like as little blue friend. Of course Maverick told him that those were just dreams or fake memories. Even the therapist that Maverick had sent him to when he was little confirmed his uncle's assumption. It was one of things that always left the blond curious. He knew so little of his parents and Maverick didn't talk much about them either. Barnaby didn't even know if he had other relatives in Sternbild. If he did, maybe he could go talk to them and learn a little more about his family.
However, now wasn't the time to be thinking of such things. Barnaby reminded himself why he had gone out that day. He gave a short sigh and pursed his lips with disapproval. He spoke in a mocking version of his uncle's voice, "It's time to go on one of your 'play dates'."
Barnaby grumbled as he continued on his way down the sidewalk. Taking little note of his surroundings by that point. Save for a nearby clock that read which displayed that it was close to noon.
It had been about a month since he and Kotetsu started having their little 'play dates'. It sounded as though Barnaby were a child forced to play nice with another child. It was aggravating. Not just because the two of them would occasionally clash, but also because it felt like Maverick didn't see him as an adult at all.
Barnaby didn't have a whole lot time to dwell on that thought though. He could see the Kaburagi house just in the distance. He had to admit it was a charming house, the few of times that he had been there he found it was rather comfortable. As he approached the pathway that led to the porch, Barnaby could see the hunched form of Anju tending to the garden.
The elderly lady stood up from her work and gave a small stretch. She looked over her garden and then up towards the sun. It seemed like a good time to take a break. She was about to go inside the house to fix up some lunch and tea but paused when she caught sight of Barnaby. Her look of surprise shifted into a smile.
"Good morning Mrs. Kaburagi!" Barnaby called out to her as he walked up the pathway.
"It's a bit late for morning, if you ask me." Anju replied as she dusted the dirt off of her. She rather liked Barnaby, his visits often made things a little more lively. "How are you doing today, dear?"
"The same as usual, it's nice to see you again." Barnaby said with a small smile. He had some respect for Anju. It was surprising how hard working woman like her could be the mother of somebody as laid-back as Kotetsu. "Is Kotetsu still asleep? I'm here for one of those 'required' visits."
Anju laughed a little. "No, he's wide awake. In fact he's practicing right now, so I'm afraid that you might have to wait a little while."
"Practicing? Practicing where?" Barnaby asked with a blink.
"In the basement, dear. My son and his wife turned it into a practice room after they bought the place." Anju explained as she made her way towards the side of the house. She motioned for him to follow her. "In fact, if you follow me this way..."
Barnaby followed Anju. As he did, he could hear the faint melody of music playing somewhere. Anju led him to a open window that led to the basement. When they came to a stop Barnaby could hear the music more clearly and the familiar sound of dance shoes tapping away. He got close enough to where he could peer into the window.
Just as Anju said there was a decent sized practice room, Barnaby could see that the floor had seen a lot of use over the years. Scuff marks and scratches were visible in the floor. On one of the walls there were old pictures and news articles put on display. In some of the pictures, Barnaby could see what he figured was a younger Kotetsu and his wife. He had to squint but he could almost make out a little of what some of the headlines said.
Right at that moment, Kotetsu danced right past the window and startled the blond. He seemed to be in much better form than he was weeks ago. He'd shuffle, leap, kick, and catch himself if he was about to slip up. What surprised Barnaby most was that even Kotetsu made a mistake he quickly recovered and improvised. The older showman would make it look like it was just another part of the routine. Barnaby smiled and rolled his eyes, Kotetsu seemed to be hamming it up.
The laughter of a little girl signaled why. Seated on a nearby bench was Kaede, who was serving as her father's audience during his practice session. She applauded and cheered Kotetsu on as he tried different dance tricks. She would call out names of certain moves for him to do, as if she was quizzing him. Kotetsu would then do them to the best of his ability if he remembered them.
"Come on sweetheart, help your Papa with some practice." he motioned to Kaede to come over and join him on the dance floor.
Kaede got up on her feet and hurried over to stand next to her father. They started to dance together, Kaede doing her best to mimic her father's dance steps. Kotetsu tried to keep his movements easy for her to follow and progressed to more advanced dance steps.
"Good girl!" Kotetsu cheered as Kaede took his hand and he led her into a turn. "Now big finish!" He then hoisted her up into his arms and spun with her.
Kaede squealed and laughed at the same time. Not being able to decide whether to scold her father or admit that she was having fun. However, Kotetsu's dance shoe suddenly slipped and he ended up landing hard on his behind. He cringed as he felt a strange tingling in his tailbone and his face heat up as he blushed from embarrassment.
"Ah, sorry Kaede, I think you might be getting a little too big to do that with your Papa." Kotetsu said sheepishly. He then felt Kaede give them a firm hit on his shoulder; he couldn't help but laugh at the pout on her face.
"So he really does practice at home? All this time I thought he was fibbing." Barnaby smiled as he watched the two get up off the floor, he then looked to Anju. "Once in a while I'd catch him practicing on tour now and then, but I never saw him move like that."
"He was probably embarrassed to practice in front of you. Sometimes he has issues with self-confidence, a little surprising with how prideful he can act." Anju said with a fond smile. While she would have preferred Kotetsu getting a different job, it was good to see him passionate about something again.
That thought never had occurred to Barnaby. As Anju said, Kotetsu did act very prideful. Sometimes he came across as a real blowhard. It was ironic that it might have been just a cover to hide how he was really feeling. Barnaby wasn't sure why but it hurt a little that Kotetsu would keep something like that from him. "He could have said something to me..."
"Hmm, to be honest, you're not that easy to approach, young man." Anju pointed out to him. She was blunt and honest as she recalled Barnaby's past visits. "The first time you came over you were rather cold. It took a little while for you to warm up to us."
"I was?" Barnaby blinked, he tried to think back on his first visit to the Kaburagi house. He remembered being nervous. Perhaps his coldness was an act of instinct, an act of defense. "I'm sorry, I didn't realize."
"Real life is different than what you show the public, isn't it?" Anju said with a smile. She moved to give Barnaby a clap on the back but refrained when she noticed the dirt on her hands from gardening. Last thing she wanted was to ruin the boy's fine clothes. "Thanks to Kotetsu's shenanigans over the years I've gotten a pretty good idea of how show business people are."
Barnaby broke eye contact with Anju for a moment, feeling a little guilty. He didn't really want to think that he was also part of the problem when it came to getting along. However the more he thought about it, he was starting to see Anju's point. Perhaps it wasn't just Kotetsu had to work on his part of the teamwork.
"I know my son can be a bit of a fool but he does take his job seriously. When he and his late wife were starting out as an act, they didn't get along well either." Anju said as she reached out and gently turned Barnaby's head so that he would make eye contact with her. "But if you give him a chance and a bit of a push, he'll do his best to work hard for you."
Barnaby felt a little more at ease after hearing what Anju had to say. He felt that he was starting to understand Kotetsu a little more as well. Barnaby was about to say something but he was interrupted by a loud growl from his own stomach. He promptly shut his mouth and looked rather embarrassed. He could feel himself blush when he saw Anju laugh.
"My, it seems you're rather hungry as well." Anju then turned around and started to head back towards the front of the house. "Come inside and help me fix lunch and tea, I'm sure those two are going to be starving by the time they're done."
It was almost one in the afternoon when Kotetsu and Kaede came up from the basement. They were greeted by the scent of food and made their way to the kitchen. Kotetsu stopped in his tracks when he walked in and saw Barnaby seated at the kitchen table with his mother.
"Huh? Bunny? What are you doing here?" He asked, canting his head to the side.
"Barnaby!" Kaede said excitedly with a wide smile. "Are you here to join us for lunch?"
Barnaby couldn't help but laugh a little at Kaede's excitement and gave a nod. "I'm sorry to drop by so suddenly."
Kotetsu blinked and looked a little confused. There wasn't the usual 'bite' in Barnaby's words, not that he was complaining but it was a little new. Dare he say it, the kid almost seemed a little charming. Kotetsu scratched his beard as he wondered just what had gotten into the young man. His thoughts were interrupted when his mother caught his attention.
"Kotetsu, don't just stand around there gawking, it's rude." Anju said in a warning tone that only a mother could master. "Wash up and sit down to eat."
"Alright Mom, I will." Kotetsu said as he scratched the back of his head and walked towards the kitchen sink.
It wasn't that long before all of them were seated at the kitchen table, eating lunch and chatting away. Barnaby had to admit that lunch with the Kaburagi's was much different than what he was used to. Whenever he had lunch with his uncle Maverick, they were usually a lot quieter and often businesslike. Yet, the Kaburagi's were rather lively, even when they were eating. They had the peculiar habit of switching languages in mid conversation. Most of the time they would speak in English, then suddenly they would slip into fluent Japanese. Barnaby could have even sworn that he heard Kotetsu utter a few Spanish phrases as well. The topic of conversation would constantly change. From things like the weather, to work or school, and their family's store. Despite the chaoticness of it all, Barnaby found it oddly relaxing. It felt like a real family lunch, even if he just was a guest.
"Who's Muramasa?" Barnaby asked after hearing the name bounce around a few times.
"He's my uncle!" Kaede chirped. "He's also my dad's big brother."
Barnaby looked at Kotetsu a little surprised. If one of him was hard to handle as it was, what would it be like to have two?
"They're nothing alike." Anju said reassuringly. It wasn't that hard to figure out what Barnaby was thinking. "Muramasa is the opposite of his younger brother."
"Yeah, he's a real stick in the mud." Kotetsu scoffed before he took a sip of his tea. "We get along just like oil and water."
"That may be true Kotetsu, but your brother cares about you in his own way." Anju reminded him with a knowing look.
Kotetsu didn't say anything more, instead focused on eating his lunch. He wouldn't say it out loud but he knew exactly what his mother was talking about. Even if the Kaburagi Brothers usually didn't get along, it didn't mean that they didn't care about each other. After Tomoe's death, Muramasa was the first to offer Kotetsu a job at the store. Out of worry if his brother would find new work and to keep an eye on him after being dealt such an emotional blow. Of course Kotetsu refused, his pride wouldn't hear of it. Regardless, he was still secretly thankful for the offer. That was just how the Kaburagi Brothers were. Neither were good with feelings but they still came through for each other when it counted.
"Hmph! Stupid Muramasa." Kotetsu grumbled between bites, he prodded and moved his food around his plate with his fork. When him and his mother were alone he would have to ask her how he was doing.
"Does Muramasa dance as well?" Barnaby asked. He was trying to get a mental image of what the man was like.
This time Kaede was the one to add to the conversation. "Nope, dad is the only one that can dance but grandma and him think he should get another job."
"Kaede..." Kotetsu said with a tone of warning. It was obviously a subject that he did not want to talk about.
Kaede blushed a little, feeling embarrassed that she almost got scolded for such a silly thing. She was just telling the truth, wasn't that what adults were supposed to do?
"Oh, by the way, I figured we might as well try going out for a drink again tonight." Kotetsu announced, changing the subject.
"Oh no, not after what happened last time." Barnaby said as he shook his head. "I don't need to hauled into court again."
"It's not my fault you can't handle your liquor." Kotetsu complained with an exaggerated sigh. He was a little disappointed with the kid's objection.
"Me!? You were the one that-" Barnaby paused when he looked at both Anju and Kaede. He debated for a second if he really wanted to say what happened in front of them. He decided to refrain from mentioning it, wanting to spare everyone from the embarrassment. "You remember what happened last time, so I don't think it's a good idea."
"Hold it!" Kotetsu said as he held up a finger hushing Barnaby. "Now just hear me out for second, I have a surefire way to make sure that mess won't happen again."
Barnaby gave Kotetsu a skeptical look. The older man put up a confident front but for all Barnaby knew he could have just pulled an idea out of the air. "I really doubt that."
"Come on, it's a real easy idea. We'll just have another guy with us as the sober guy." Kotetsu explained with a shrug. "The third person will keep an eye on us. See? Easy!"
Barnaby thought the idea over for a moment. Surprisingly it actually did make sense and it was pretty simple. Maybe it was safe to trust Kotetsu this time. "Alright, let's give it a shot then."
"Great! I'll call Tonio to join us then, he's pretty sensible." Kotetsu said as he clapped his hands and grinned. "The three of us can be drinking buddies!"
"That giant brute of a man? Last time he said he would fold me in half..." Barnaby mumbled as he remembered when he met that 'Tonio' guy. "And wait a second, you said he would be the sober guy. He's not going to drink, got it?"
"Aww, come on the guy can hold his liquor pretty well." Kotetsu insisted. "A couple of drinks wouldn't hurt him."
"No." Barnaby said with a tone of finality. He crossed arms over his chest and gave Kotetsu a stern look to emphasize his point.
"Hmph..." Kotetsu pouted and continued to prod his food with his fork. "Careful kid, you're going to end up being a stick in the mud just like my brother."
Lunch continued on for a little longer. Barnaby helped the Kaburagis clean up after they were done and had a chance to look at the practice room in the basement before he left. He and Kotetsu wouldn't see each other again until they met up at TopMag bar. Antonio was there as well, at first Barnaby and him were a little cold with each other. It didn't take too long for the tension to die down a little though. Ben was a great help with that by telling some of the old stories of the 'Terrible Tiger' and 'Brazen Bison'. Much to both Kotetsu and Antonio's embarrassment. Yet they were all able to laugh about it in the end, with the help of a couple of drinks of course.
"So you're an opera singer?" Barnaby asked, a little surprised.
Kotetsu slung an arm around Antonio's shoulder and grinned. "Yep! He loved the opera back when he was just a wee little punk!"
"Hey, I think this is my story to tell. " Antonio pressed a finger to Kotetsu's cheek and firmly pushed the man back a little distance. If he wasn't going to be drinking then he didn't need the smell of alcohol breath in his face. "My mom had a few records that she would listen to it night when my sisters and me were all going to sleep. Some of those songs were my lullabies when I was growing up. I didn't fall in love with the opera though until I saw show for myself."
"What did you see?" Barnaby asked as he leaned in just a little closer, interested in hearing more.
"I got to see 'Don Giovanni' by Mozart." Antonio said as he smiled fondly at the memory. "It sounds ridiculous but it was love at first sight. I've always wanted to be in that one but I lose auditions to bigger names. I have to build up my reputation a little more. I bet that this all sounds lame to a kid like you though, huh?"
"No, not really. To be honest, I love opera. I used to see more of it in Europe." Barnaby smiled as he thought about some of the shows that he went to. He had certain fondness for the power of the music and the stories they were often told in the way only opera could tell them. It was nice meeting somebody that shared that interest. "I haven't had chance to see one in a while. I've been so busy; it's hard to have some time to myself."
"Is that so? Well, I guess you're not that bad of kid." Antonio said with a little reluctance. He didn't want to admit it but he was starting to like Barnaby, a little. "Maybe I can get you in to see one of my shows someday."
"Hee, hee, hee! Isn't that cute, you two are becoming friends!" Kotetsu chimed in with a cheeky grin. He playfully poked Antonio in the arm, perfectly content with being a pest. It was clear that Barnaby and him had been drinking for a while at that point, as Kotetsu was getting a little tipsy. "Watch it Tonio, I might start getting jealous with you being that cute."
"And you still need to go to one of my damn shows!" Antonio reached up and caught Kotetsu in a headlock and pulled him in close. "I keep asking you to show me some damn support and you won't come! Stupid!"
"Bunny! He's picking on me! Help!" Kotetsu blurted out as he tried to wriggle free from Antonio's grip. "Quit it Bachelor Beef!" Kotetsu went limp as he gave up the struggle and pouted. His face looked ridiculous as it was squished against his best friend's leather jacket.
Barnaby shook his head and laughed at the sight. He had to admit that he was enjoying himself, he couldn't remember the last time he enjoyed drinking with others that much. "The way you to act, you guys could have a comedy act of your own if you wanted."
"Oh! Wait a minute! I wanted to talk to you about that!" Kotetsu said as he finally slipped a hand under Antonio's jacket and tickled his side.
Antonio squeaked and jerked as he tried to pull away from the offending fingers. Only to end up losing balance on his barstool and falling right off.
"Maverick, we had talked about that guy." Kotetsu said firmly as he tapped his finger against the bar counter to emphasize his point. "Honestly, I can't take his suggestions anymore. I get it, I'm supposed to be a glorified clown but let me have some respect!"
Barnaby blinked and canted his head to the side. He looked as though he had no idea what Kotetsu was even talking about. "What you mean? Uncle Maverick said that you have been agreeing to it all."
"Are you kidding me? Would you agree to be slapped with the fish? Or having your ribs elbowed three times a show?" Kotetsu pointed at Barnaby accusingly. He paused before he went on, according to Maverick Barnaby was perfectly fine with all of his suggestions. Did the kid really not know what was going on?
"Well, no I wouldn't." Barnaby answered honestly. "All I had to go on was what uncle Maverick told me. I did worry that it was going too far but if you were okay with it then I thought it was fine."
Something about the kid seemed sincere, it seemed like Barnaby really didn't know. Kotetsu sighed and started to calm down, he couldn't be mad at him if that was the case. "Then we need to talk more. Maverick might call the shots but we still need to think on our own a little. No offense, but the act is going to get stale and people are think we're a one trick pony."
Barnaby looked thoughtful for a moment. He never thought it would be necessary to question his uncle's choices. However, Kotetsu did raise a good point. If they just kept doing the same thing there was no doubt the people would get tired of it after a while. Even if Kotetsu himself was a little old-fashioned, he probably had some useful ideas.
"I see your point." Barnaby finally admitted. "I wish you told me sooner. I guess I didn't think about how you felt, I'm sorry."
Kotetsu crossed his arms and looked thoughtful, still a little tipsy but thoughtful nonetheless. "Okay then, how about we start over? And this time, let's try to be a real team. Whaddya say?"
Barnaby smiled a little, he was happy to hear that. It could have also been because he was probably getting a bit drunk himself by that point. He noticed that Kotetsu was offering him his hand, waiting for a handshake. Barnaby looked a little uncertain at first, remembering how their first handshake went. Yet that uncertainty soon faded as he took Kotetsu's hand and they gave a firm handshake in agreement. Starting over sounded like a brilliant idea, this time they would do it right.
"Okay!" Kotetsu called as he let go of Barnaby's hand and pumped a fist in the air. "What do you say ya shmucks and me go out and paint the town red?"
Ben suddenly paused from what he was doing and looked at Kotetsu. That was an all too familiar line that usually led to nothing good. "Uh oh..."
"Come on kid!" Kotetsu called out as he locked arms with Barnaby and tugged him out of his seat. "Tonio and me are gonna give you a real tour of the city! Come on Toni, get up off your ass!"
Before Ben could say anything to stop them Kotetsu, Antonio, and Barnaby had all made their way out of the bar. The TopMag owner slowly shook his head, he could feel in his bones that trouble was brewing. "Well, I know where they're gonna end up by morning."
The next morning in Sternbild was a beautiful one. The birds were singing, the sun was high in the air and bathed everything in its warm glow. It was another glorious start to what was going to be a prosperous day in the grand city. However, there were three that were not enjoying the lovely morning in Sternbild. Kotetsu, Antonio, and Barnaby all got to enjoy the ever friendly hospitality of the Sternbild police station. They were a complete mess from a wild night that landed them in a jail cell. Each woke up with hangovers, aching bodies, and little memory of what they did that got them arrested.
"Tonio, you were supposed to be the sober guy." Kotetsu groaned as he held his aching head. He was lying on the cell floor, feeling downright sorry for himself. "What the hell happened?"
"I...I don't know!" Antonio was seated in one of the corners of the cell. His back was faced to the two little bastards that caused him so much trouble. "Just don't talk to me!"
"I'm never drinking with you two idiots ever again." Barnaby groaned. He was leaning against the bars of the cell. He kept an eye out for Maverick in case he came to bail him out. He wasn't sure how he was even going to face the man with him being such a mess.
It was then that they heard a door open from down the hall and footsteps approach their jail cell. It wasn't Maverick that came to visit them. Instead Barnaby found himself staring eye to eye with judge Yuri Petrov. Barnaby jumped after a delayed reaction and move back from the jail cell door.
"Gentlemen..." Yuri's eyes narrowed as he studied each of them. They finally landed on Kotetsu and lingered there for a moment. "This is rather disappointing Mr. Kaburagi, I was hoping that you turned your act around."
Kotetsu rolled over on his other side and faced away from Yuri. He could still feel the judge's eyes on him which sent a shiver up his spine. He was sure that Yuri was going to have some choice words for him later that day in court.
"Um judge, I'm sorry to ask but what exactly did we do last night?" Barnaby asked as he rubbed his sore eyes. His hair was disheveled and stuck out at odd angles. He was such a mess that he was barely recognizable as the famous rookie star.
"You don't remember?" Yuri said with a little surprise, as if it should have been the most obvious thing in the world. He then opened a file that he was carrying and looked through the papers. "I don't know all the details myself but it was a night to remember, that's for sure. Let's see, it involved five cans of paint, several stolen shop signs, a 'borrowed' policeman's horse, and a lot of tapioca pudding."
The three of them stared silently at the judge in disbelief. They then cast questioning glances at each other, in vain hope that one of them remembered the night before.
"Sometimes it's just better not to know." Yuri said with a small nod. "I'll see you later in court gentleman, enjoy your morning."
-End of Chapter-