Title: Catch a Tigress by the Tail
Word Count: 2491
Pairing: Tetsuko/Tomo (Kotetsu/Tomoe), hints of others
Topic: T&B Anon Prompt
Type: Genderswap AU
Disclaimer: I don't own anything from Tiger and Bunny. Tiger and Bunny belong to Sunrise and their respective creators.
VTM: Originally this was going to be a short oneshot, but instead it developed into a chapter of a longer story. This is my first genderbent fic for this fandom, so opinions or if you have any helpful suggestions you'd like to share, I'd love to hear them and would appreciate them.
It all started a normal evening as any; Antonio was enjoying drinks with Tetsuko at the hero bar, they were watching the replay of that night's HeroTV broadcast.
"Look at you!" Tetsuko said with a laugh. "They shot you at a skyscraper!"
On the screen was Rock Bison, frozen stiff with fear as he clung for dear life to a gargoyle on one of the buildings. Luckily Skyhigh was nearby and was kind enough to get him down to safety.
"Mistakes happen, damn it." Antonio grumbled before he took a swig of his drink. He had to look for something to change the subject to, or else he'd be hearing about it all night. "So I've been hearing rumors of them possibly wanting you back in the first league..."
Tetsuko gave a confused blink; the statement soon clicked and she then looked away from Antonio, deciding to focus her attentions on her drink. "Wrong, they want Barnaby back in the first league." She pointed out. "But he's giving them a hard time; he won't budge from the second league with me there. He's insisting that I be brought back too."
"What is he thinking? With your powers in decline, wouldn't that be dangerous for you?" Antonio was a little surprised to hear that. He always figured that Barnaby was very logical, as much as it would be nice to see Tetsuko working with the first league again, it wouldn't be work putting her in danger. "Please don't tell me you're actually considering it..."
Tetsuko sipped her drink; she had a thoughtful look on her face. There was obviously a little more to the story than she was telling. "Saito has been working on modifications for my suit that would hopefully compensate for my power loss." Tetsuko's mood seemed to darken a little. She wasn't too happy with the idea of having to rely on something like that to be a hero, but if it allowed her to continue to keep her promise to Tomo, even if just for a little longer, then she'd accept it. "HeroTV is still unsure about it though, so Bunny's continuing being stubborn."
"Well that's great about the suit, but I can see why the people at HeroTV would still be uneasy." Antonio said as he looked at the liquid in his glass. "I mean say if you're powers were completely gone eventually, and if something went wrong. Everybody loses, HeroTV would look really bad, Barnaby would lose his partner, I'd lose my best friend, and Kaede would lose her mother."
Tetsuko placed her arms on the bar counter, folded them, and buried her face in them; she peered out only to give Antonio a glare. Leave it to Antonio to hit the nail on the head; while she would love the opportunity to rejoin the first league, those were the exact reasons that had her second guessing herself. "Stupid cow, why do you have to make so much sense?"
Antonio laughed; he then reached out and lightly ruffled Tetsuko's soft hair. "Because I'm you're sensible, dashingly manly best friend?"
"Don't get cute with me, Lopez." Tetsuko said stubbornly with a pout.
"Who, me? Never!" Antonio said with a hint of playful sarcasm.
Tetsuko sighed and grumbled. "Barnaby seems to be eager about the idea though, so I might give it a try."
"Well, I know you're not really the type that likes to listen to what others tell you, so all I have to say about it is just be sure it's what you want." Antonio pointed out. He didn't was to stir up any trouble between the two, but he it had to be said. "Barnaby's not the one with the kid to think about, you are. So even if he is eager about this idea, you have to make the decision on what you think is best for you and Kaede."
Tetsuko then sat up and rested her face in the palm of her hand. "Look at you being all "noble"..." She said with a teasing tone as she poked him in the arm. "It's a wonder why you're still single."
"Hmph." Antonio took another swig from his drink. "You're one to talk, fans and tabloids have been speculating over your relationship with Barnaby. Many have been raising the question why you two just don't get married."
"Geeze! Don't remind me..." Tetsuko said with an irritated sigh. She then started to play with her wedding ring. "It's not nice to tease a married woman, Antonio."
Antonio had to admit, it was something that had would end up on his mind now and then. It wasn't like he was jealous, Tetsuko was just his best friend, but sometimes he couldn't help but find himself wondering on the nature of the hero duo. Though the thought of Tetsuko falling for a guy like Barnaby was a little hard to believe, to him at least, he didn't know what the fans saw that he didn't. But then again, during the early days of their friendship he had no idea that Tetsuko was even a girl.
Antonio and "Tetsu" were walking home together. They'd usually meet up after their schools had ended for the day, they would do a little sparring or just hang out for a while, and then walk home. It was a regular evening like any other save for the questions floating around in Antonio's head. Earlier that day he was told by one of the punks in his gang that they saw Tetsu and Tomo behaving strangely. Aside from their usual banter and bickering they seemed to be becoming rather close; maybe a little too close for comfort in the world of teenage boys. Of course Antonio had them swear on their life that they would say nothing to anybody about the matter and tried to push what he had heard to the back of his mind.
Tetsu and Tomo were his friends; Antonio wasn't going to judge them. But he knew all too well that the world could easily be a cruel one, so he couldn't help but worry a little. Antonio glanced at Tetsu as they walked, taking in some of his friend's details. He had to admit that Tetsu was a handsome guy, dare he say it, even cute in an odd away, with his young looking face and honey golden eyes. Antonio shook his head when he caught where his thoughts were going.
"You okay Antonio?" Tetsu asked. "You've been a real space case today, if there's something on your mind then spill it already."
Antonio was taken a little off guard; he wasn't even sure where to start on such a subject. "You know, there are rumors going around that there's something between you and Tomo."
"And? So what if there is? You got a problem with that, Lopez?" Tetsu said in a defensive tone. There seemed to be a hint of blush on his face. "Don't tell me you're going to give me grief about that. That's the last thing I need right now, I've been getting enough crap this week from the school!"
"The school's giving you a tough time for going out with Tomo?" Antonio said with a little worry.
"No, why would they? It's about their stupid dress code..." Tetsu explained.
Antonio blinked and looked a little confused. "Huh? What does that have to do with anything?"
"They..." Tetsu looked a little uneasy saying it. "They want me to start dressing in a "proper girl's uniform". They say that I either do it or face getting expelled, but I have to graduate if I want to go into the hero business..."
"Wait, what was that?" Antonio wasn't sure if he had heard that correctly. Was that some kind of strange Japanese thing? While Antonio was learning a lot about the culture since his family moved out to Oriental Town, there was still a lot that he didn't really understand. "Why'd they want you to wear something that?"
"Because it's not considered "appropriate for a girl", that's what this new teacher at school is saying at least." Tetsu said with a small huff. "It's really stupid if you ask me, I don't see anything wrong with the uniform I'm wearing."
Antonio stopped dead in his tracks. "So wait a minute, are you saying that you're a GIRL!?" He said with the most dumbfounded look on his face. Antonio could barely say a simple "hello" to person of the opposite sex without messing it up in some way, now it turns out that he's been a rival and a friend with one this entire time?
Tetsu stopped walking by this point as well. Tomo told her that she should have just told Antonio from the beginning, but she liked the friendship that they managed to form. Tetsu liked sparring with Antonio; she couldn't really hurt him with his powers. It was nice to be friends with another NEXT. She didn't want Antonio to see her differently because of her gender. "...Yeah, I am, my full name is "Tetsuko". But don't be getting the wrong idea Lopez! I can still kick your as six ways to Sunday!"
"Bullshit! This has got to be some kind of a joke! Prove it!" Antonio demanded. There was no way such a thing could be true, but then again, what good would it do Tetsu to lie about something like that?
"Fine, I will." Tetsu said in a blunt tone as she started to open her shirt.
"H-hey, what are you doing?" Antonio suddenly looked a little uneasy. He was then greeted by the sight of Tetsu's wrapped down chest. He then stood there for a moment, staring and letting what he was seeing sink in, and finally when it hit him he then reached out and closed up Tetsu's shirt. "You idiot! What if someone sees!"
"If you weren't such a thick headed cow I wouldn't have had to do that, jackass!" Tetsuko shot back at him.
"Who are you calling a jackass, jackass!?"
"You! That's who, you dumbass!"
"Want to fight!?"
"Bring it on!"
-End of Flashback-
Antonio couldn't help but laugh a little at that memory.
"What's got you so giddy all of a sudden?" Tetsuko asked before she took a sip from her drink.
Tetsuko's affiliation for cross dressing didn't end with her high school days. She went on to become the hero "Wild Tiger", with a little technology, stage make up, and her usual attitude it wasn't hard for her to pull off the ruse. It was only after she started working for Apollon that she had to reveal her true gender. The forums and tabloids exploded of course, some people accused her of not being the real Wild Tiger, others thought it was some kind ploy by Apollon to add some sort of romance aspect to HeroTV.
"Eh, it's nothing really. Just kind of wondering if it's possibly true." Antonio said in a teasing tone. He then received an elbow in his side. "Ow...! What was that for!?"
"It's not! Now shut up!" Tetsuko was blushing a little by this point. "Bunny's a nice kid when you get to know him, but he's still a kid. What interest would he have in an older woman like me?"
"He's not really a kid and you know it." Antonio pointed out. "It sounds like to me, that you don't want to think of him as a grown man so that it's easier to decline him." Antonio took another sip from his drink and continued. "Are you sure that there's nothing between you two? Even if it's just from his perspective?"
Tetsuko looked thoughtful for a moment. "Well, he did start to change after the Jake incident...He started to become a little friendlier and eventually we got to the point where we are now." She began; she then finished her drink in one last sip. "I'm not going to lie; I did kind of wonder about it. Sometimes, when I've caught him looking at me with a weird look...I guess I've been a little suspicious."
"You?" Antonio said with a small smirk. "That's a little hard to believe, Tomo would tell me it took you forever to realize that he liked you."
"Yeah well Tomo was different! He was always quiet about it!" Tetsuko said as she started to blush. Soon she smiled and a dreamy tone in her voice as she thought back on her late husband. "He was a real gentleman that way, it was cute. But Bunny's not that cute, he's more direct, even when he's trying to be subtle." Her voice slowly became more serious.
Antonio picked up on this and his attitude soon became more serious as well. "He's not giving you any trouble, is he?"
"Hmm? No, it's nothing like that. I just wonder if he does like me in that way, then what do I do?" Tetsuko said as she ran a finger along the rim of her empty glass. "I mean, he isa handsome man and I trust him with my life as a friend and hero but..."
Antonio wasn't too sure just how he felt when he heard that. He only had himself to blame since he pressed the issue, of course. Antonio was fine when it came to them being partners and close friends, but the ox of a man was starting to find the idea of Barnaby pursuing a romantic relationship with his best friend was stepping into uncomfortable territory. "Well, like you said, he isa bit young."
"And like you said he isa grown man." Tetsuko reminded him with a weary smile. She then dug into one of her pockets and placed some money on the bar counter. "I'm going to head out early; all this talk about possible romance is ruining the mood."
Antonio felt pretty lousy at that point. "I'm sorry; I didn't mean to get you upset."
"It's not your fault." Tetsuko said as she rubbed the back of her neck. "Truth is, mom's been getting on my case saying I should remarry. She says that it'd be better for both me and Kaede, I just don't know though, but it's given me a lot to think about."
"Well, do you feel like you're ready for that?" Antonio asked. He wasn't sure why, but he was starting to feel a little nervous now. However, there was a little voice in the back of Antonio's mind that teased him, saying that he did know why his heartbeat had suddenly started to pound harder and faster. Antonio mercilessly stomped it out.
Tetsuko didn't give him an answer; instead she just smiled and said: "I'll see you tomorrow, Tonio." And with that she left for the door. When she stepped outside her smile was gone, Tetsuko then looked down at her wedding ring, lifted it to her lips and planted a small kiss.
-End of Chapter-