What an overwhelming response! ^_^ I'm seriously glad you guys got into this idea! I seriously that it was going to flop. Anyway, thanks to all of you who favored, reviewed, and placed this story and myself on your list! It's very sweet of all of you :3 Alright, I didn't come here to talk! I came here to bring you all another kick-ass chapter! Everyone, thanks again and I hope you all are ready for this next chapter! Now, let's get this chapter rolling!
Disclaimer: Tiger and Bunny is under the rights of Viz Media. I am only fulfilling a request.
~Episode Two: Happy Endings and Sad Beginnings!~
"Hey," The wind was pelting the both of them like bullets, but the roar of it still didn't stop Tigress from complaining. "How come I'm the one in the side-car?" She asked, pulling her scouter on top of her eyes as Barnaby lead his motorcycle on a highway near the giant statue, Tigress's motorcycle attached to Barnaby's. After many attempts of convincing her into the side-car (That, and just flat out letting Rock Bison drag her to the damned thing) they were riding over the bridge.
"Looks like it suits you," Stated Barnaby. "A women your age get tired easily, right?"
"I told you, I'm only twenty-five!"
"And that's not changing the fact that you're riding the side-car, isn't it?" The blonde smirked inwardly when he received no reply, deeming that he won this battle.
"Wait, hold on!" Katsuko made a double-take behind her. "You passed it! We're going the wrong way!" The statue made a charge through a lane and rammed it's body into a build board, sending it to the busy streets below. "Are you blind or something!?" Yelled Katsuko, yet it seemed that her new partner was hearing nothing of it.
They pulled into a non-occupant area of the bridge and the magenta-armored hero was busy scanning the area, his fingers gliding along the pink contraptions near his ears.
"What do we do then, sit and watch?" Tigress muttered, folding her hands and resting her chin on them.
"I'm scanning the area, first," Barnaby informed. He could feel Katsuko's eyes bore holes into the back of his helmet. "I just want to make sure we don't rush into this blindly. In order for our plan to reach maximum effects, we must be vigilante and plan ahead."
'"We must be vigilante and plan ahead~" Yeah, yeah, yeah,' Katsuko thought. 'I wonder if he's seen this weird pattern yet. This statue is going pretty rouge, yet it's attacking some advertisement signs that connect. It has to do with some ice-rick star, right? Thing is; why?' Tigress huffed and she glanced over to Barnaby, still taking his time. 'Is he even done yet?'
"What a clown."
Katsuko briefly wondered if she was thinking aloud or if she had meant that to slip. "Oh no, I was just thinking about your brilliant idea!" She praised sarcastically. "Yeah! That's really awesome! We just sit here like morons, watch the city get destroyed, and oh! How about we both get fired while we're at it?" She spat and rolled her amber eyes to him. "A real hero doesn't time for that! There no time when we get crossed with sh-"
"We're live in two!" Agnes interrupted, Katsuko pouting. "Let's put on a good show. And Tigress, stop pouting. You'll get frown lines that way."
"Too late for that."
"Can it, Blue thorn!"
"We're live!" Shouted their boss, all focus drawn to the scene of city's side.
"There, let's get ready," Said Barnaby standing up and stepping off the motorbike.
"Oh, now we're leaving?" Asked Katsuko, biting at innocence. "Sure you don't need to touch up your make-up- YIKE!" She jumped back when something blue and white whizzed pass her, now standing a little away. "Huh? Origami Cyclone?"
The hero she spoke to was dressed in what could be a kimono made of gold, blue, and white metal, covered with a few logos and cut off at the hero's shoulders, revealing her collar bone and her neck. A dark purple obi was tied around her waist, the bow in the shape of a butterfly and a large shuriken was attached to her back.
"Sorry," Whispered a gentle voice, audible since the hero's blue and white mask only revealed her mouth and the back of her head. Fluttering a white and purple fan with a picture of a sakura tree near her lips, the girl's pale blonde hair wispily reached her shoulders ran wildly as she flew down to the scene.
"What was-" A beat of techno mixed with pop hit her ears, and Tigress looked down, spotting roving strobe lights. "Wh-What the Hell?"
"And it looks like the party can finally get started!" Announced the MC of HERO TV, the shots covering the bustling bus that opened with swiveling, colorful lights and fake snow flying everywhere. "The Prince of Pop has arrived! Let's give a hand to our own, Blue Thorn!"
With a coy smirk, the young man cartwheeled off his stage, throwing the white guitar he had strapped on his back over to the front and playing an electrifying chord. His choice of costume was a light blue, prince's tuxedo with silver thorn vines tied around his arms, a blue rose on the lapel of his tux. Along his shoulders were dark blue shoulder pads and on his sky-blue dyed hair was a white and light blue crown, spiky bangs sprawled across his forehead.
"I'm the king who makes you freeze! So prepare to bow to me!" He chanted, smoke and fake snow spilling everywhere like a blizzard.
"Yes!" From the sidelines, Origami Cyclone praised herself. "I made it in time for a shot! Yes!" She said excitedly.
"Seriously," Tigress sighed, shaking her head and silently groaning. "What's with-HEY!" She bristled as Barnaby was already leaping over the buildings, now running along the edge of the bridge. "Wait for me! I thought we were partners!" She kicked her heels together and small wheels slid under her. She skated and jumped near the edge, catching up to Barnaby as the two were keeping up with the giant statue.
"Jerk," She muttered under her breath, pressing a button on one of her armed weapons. "Let me show you how it's done . . . Work, you damned thing!" She punched at the beeping weapon before a grappling line shot out and attached itself to a building. "Ha!" Katsuko tugged at it to test its strength. "See? Just watch and-" She turned and once again, the rookie was gone. "Huh? Now where'd he-"She turned and spotted a pink suit.
"Is that- Why yes! It's our new fan favorite, Barnaby Brooks Jr." Barnaby smiled coolly at the camera with a salute, a small and charming laugh following.
"Heh," Katsuko made a nasal-like laugh along with the imitated salute, rolling her eyes as she tested her grappling line again and giving a pull to snap it back. "Geez, that's starting to bug me," Shaking her head, she bought back her line and aimed her gun at the moving statue. "Alright, big and ugly, let's make this nice and quick!" The grappling line shot forward and swung in the air, grabbing at something. "Ha! Got ya!" She yanked on the line and heard someone yell. "Wait, what-"
Barnaby flew right at her and the two tumbled and tangled in Tigress's line, the hook bouncing everywhere and coiling around the both of them. The both of them landed on their feet, tied together.
"What the- What was that for!?" Shouted Barnaby.
"Me?!" Katsuko scoffed. "You're the one who-" She stopped in mid-rant, something pressed at the tip of her nose and deep and cleansing smell causing her to shiver. Something rushed into her cheeks as she and Barnaby pressed up together, chest-to-chest, faces only one inch away and golden locks nearly framing her face. "Who . . . Got in the way . . ." Katsuko was at a loss, all anger thrown as Barnaby's deep green eyes looked back at her own. Who knew that eyes could be this shade of green? Like two ponds filled with lillypads?
Their heart beats were strumming faster than plucking violin strings, scents mingling with one another's. Barnaby's tongue felt coated, and his hands were twitching. Up close, he was now able to see that his new partner looked young for her age. High cheek bones with a button nose, and brown hair framing her face with her domino mask wrapped near her honey-brown eyes.
'Years have been kind,' He thought, though unaware that his own cheeks were gathering color. 'Twenty-five, huh? Only two years . . . What does that have to do with anything?' He balked and raised a brow as Katsuko looked up. He followed, gazing up at the dropping, rock fist.
"GET DOWN!" He shouted at the last second, shoving his partner to the ground as the strike was shot. In that last moment, Katsuko screamed and pressed herself to Barnaby for dear life.
'This is gonna hurt!'
" . . . OK, Mr. Lloyds, I really need to talk to you about this," Katsuko leaned on the balls of her feet before sighing. "I just can't work with the guy!"
"By "guy", I assume you mean Barnaby."
"No, not "yes"," Her boss sighed as he sat at his desk, looking at his new employee. "You really don't seem to grasp the situation of this, don't you?" At Katsuko's raised brow, he decided to go on further. "Listen to this; You were lucky when that statue was placed on snooze mode not a second later, otherwise you and Barnaby would have been stains on the sidewalk. Which is why I'd like to make this clear right now, even if I have to spell it out to you in black and white," Lloyds leaned forward and hissed. "You and Barnaby are not just partners. As part as your debut as a team, the two of you were made as Barnaby and Tigress, Sternbild's newest hero and sidekick." He stated.
"Wait, what now?" Katsuko gripped at her hair and nearly pulled some out. "I'm his sidekick? T-To that cocky-ass showboat!?" She yelled.
"Yes!" Lloyds barked. Katsuko recoiled back at his annoyed look. "Katsuko, you're a has-been! You were great once, but you've gotten soft. Barnaby is fresh and new, someone that everyone in and out of Sternbild likes. The two of you bring together the old and the new," Realizing how unprofessional he looked, Lloyds straighten his tie and sat back in his seat, looking at his television. "By the way, you should probably see this."
Still a little stunned by his outburst, Katsuko looked back to the TV, just in time to see the shots focusing on a still tied-up Tigress and Barnaby, the large fist just foot-high from crushing them.
"Folks, your TVs are in no need for a change! Yes, you see it right here! Looks like the newest rookie, Barnaby, has thrown his body over Tigress at the last second, in hopes of giving up his life for his partner!" Another screen shot showed the two of them in freeze-frame, the moment where the both of them were red in the face. "It seems that Sternbild has its first ever super-hero couple! Aw, don't these two make a cute couple?" The announcer gushed, the screen tinting with a pink coloring with a few hearts surrounding them, romantic violin music playing the background.
"What . . . The Hell . . .?" Small noises of disbelief escaped Katsuko's throat, the hit of the media's sudden discovery causing her to fall on her back side. She shook her head, cheeks tingling from the blood rushing to them. She groaned as the music echoed in her ears and she buried her face in her hands, wondering if some force above her took a liking to screwing with her life. "This . . . Cannot be happening! No! No! This is a disaster!"
"It would be, if we didn't look at this from another angle."
Piqued by his tone, Katsuko looked up, one of hair "ears" folded curiously. "Another angle?"
"Yes," Nodding, the silver-haired man stood and looked at his new employ. "At first, I was thinking that this incident would bring us to the gutters. However, ratings and demands for HERO TV have shot up since the show now has more emotion."
"More emotion?" Katsuko rubbed her head. "What do you mean?"
"I'm going to have to spell it out in black and white again, aren't I?" Sitting on his desk, Lloyds crossed his arms and leaned forward, the sickly-sweet smile on his lips almost creeping the veteran.
"People see you and Barnaby as Sternbild's newest super-hero couple," He said slowly, Katsuko jumping back at the word. "They now want to see the two of you acting love-struck. It's what we call a "Romeo-and-Juliet" Scenario. Meaning that two people, in an environment where it seems impossible to show any emotions, develop feelings for each other. From where they see it, Barnaby is the "young and dashing" rookie sweeping the "mature yet distressed hero's" feet away in a world where good and evil battle it out."
"Hold," Katsuko shook her head. "W-Wait, don't just-"
Lloyds waved his hand with a sigh. "Cliché, though it can give us a chance to improve your images and it gives us some new direction."
"W-Wait, hold on-"
"Now, we have some planning to do with this. We first need to promote the debut of the two of you becoming an official couple. Somewhere private yet available for reporters to catch on. We can even have a real franchise going on if we caught you two with a staged kiss and-"
"I SAID WAIT, DAMN IT!"
Paused, Lloyds looked at her as she held out something between her fingers, the piece gleaming under the florescent lights.
"Know what this is?" Asked Katsuko suddenly. Lloyds took a closer look.
"A cheap wedding band," He shrugged, uninterested. "What's your point?"
"My late husband happened to spend every pay cheque he had since high school, since the month after we began dating, in order to buy this and propose to me," Holding the silver ring to her chest, Katsuko glared with a fire in her eyes. "I've never taken this off. Not even after he died. This proves that I still love my husband, and he is the only man I will ever love. But now," She shook her head and glowered at the floor. "But now, you expect me to stage some sort of "Romeo-and-Juliet" Scenario, as you put it, with some fake-ass, egotistic, pretty boy- costume clown that must be the worst son of a-!"
"Yes, I do!" Slamming his hands on his desk, Lloyd's gave a look crossed between enraged and loan-shark-like. "Call him whatever you like, that still doesn't change the fact that people will be forgetting Wild Tigress since she's a has-been!" Breathing deeply, he stood up straight and fixed his tie. "I'm not telling you to fall in love with him. I'm just placing you two together in order to draw in some more appeal. The more attention, the better. And the more attention on you two, the more recognizable you'll be," Rubbing his temples, her boss sat back. "Look, just think about it for now, at least? Take this time to get to know Barnaby."
"B-But-" Ring still held tightly in her hands, Katsuko gave a sigh in defeat.
'Getting to know that guy? It's like you're asking me to crack a walnut with a stick of pencil lead.'
"Speaking of costumes," Katsuko jumped at the finger pointed at her. "Report to the labs. There's someone there who needs to talk to you about your suit."
"Huh?" The brunette tilted her head. "What about it?"
" . . ."
" . . . Hm?"
" . . ."
" . . ."
Katsuko craned her neck and walked closer to the stumpy man dressed in a white lab coat, crouching since he was on a stool. "W-What ya say? Wait, don't tell me, I know it's a four letter word! S-Soap? Soda? . . . No, no! Suit! Final answer!"
"You don't seem to understand me," The man whispered, barely audible, even with his fish-like lips a centimeter from the old-hero's ear. "I said my name is Saito."
"Oh . . .OH! Alright, I see!" The woman nodded.
"You need to understand that we must look over your new suit and introduce you to the capabilities you haven't understood about it yet." Saito whispered.
"Hey, give me a break," Katsuko pouted. "I've only worn it for one day."
"Let's still continue the test I have prepared, with your new suit, and that crap-suit you use to wear." Saito spun in his chair and displayed the two different costumes hung on dual suspended mannequins on the containment of room of the lab.
"It's not a crap-suit!" Katsuko muttered, crossing her arms. "I've worn it the day since I started my career."
"It's a piece of crap."
As soon as the tests began, Katsuko groaned and turned red as her costumes were incinerated, the zip lines were sawed at with chainsaws, and they were stretched at full capacity, each copy of her old blue suit destroyed while the first copy of her new suit still remained. Groaning at the last test, Katsuko covered her face and began to whine.
"Alright, alright already!" Sighing, she twirled one of her dark locks with a blush. "You've made your point already."
Saito looked back and gave a breathy laugh. Katsuko couldn't help but give her own weak one.
"Geez, you're a weird little guy, huh?" Another laugh was her reply.
"Knowing that you can maintain your "Hundredth Power" for five minutes, I have added another enchantment to your suit." Saito said, using one of the cranes on his mechanical keyboard to bring one of the robotic hands in the caution room near the gauntlet of her suit.
"Oh, what does that-" The watch on her wrist suddenly began to beep and Katsuko cursed, hopping madly. "Crap! I lost track of the time! Look, tell me some other time!" Racing to the door, Katsuko gave her regards to the small scientist. "Thanks a lot, Mr. Saito!"
"Kaede, I swear I'm on my way!" Flinching when she picked up an old toy she got as a gag gift, Katsuko shuffled the things in her locker as she spoke to her daughter through the phone. "I'll be on my way in a heartbeat."
"Mom, you said you'd be hear on time."
"I know, I know I did. It's just- Whoowee! That's not what I'm looking for!" Brushing away the old bento box, the veteran felt around for a few things. "It's just that work caught up at the wrong time. Sweetie, believe me that I'm gonna be there."
"Well, what time are you coming, then?" Asked Kaede on the other line. Katsuko hopped on her foot and pulled down something, whining at the feel of the wilted leaves dropping from the browning flowers.
"Not the flowers!"
"U-Uh-" Katsuko gulped. "What I meant was-"
A sigh was heard and the mother gave an assuring smile.
"Baby, I'm gonna be there, I swear," She jumped and reached, grabbing the wrapped gift she got for Kaede and snuck it in her bag. "Hey, when do you really go on?" She asked.
"You're not coming, are you?"
"I am, Kaede, I am!" As she zipped up her bag, an alarm went off in the changing room she was in. "Wait, hold on a second, OK?" Placing her cell phone on hold, Katsuko sat back as an announcement went off.
"Attention, Barnaby and Tigress! Report to Main Street of Sternbild! The giant statue is attacking once more! Repeat, Barnaby and Tigress! Report to Main Street of Sternbild! The giant statue is attacking once more!"
"Mom? What was that?"
Katsuko paled, relealizng she didn't place her phone on hold. She quickly bought her phone to her ear.
"A-Ah! Silly boss man, huh? Keep it down with the live-action role-play, huh?" The brunette laughed and wiped away an imaginary tear. "I swear, my boss throws down ten-sided dice faster than he does with work orders." She prayed to all she knew and hoped that her daughter. bought what she said.
"O . . . Kay?" Shrugging off suspicions, Kaede pressed on. "Anyway, mom, you will not guess who's here!"
"Hm? Who, honey?"
"The world-renowned, junior figure-skater, Isaac!" The smaller brunette gushed. "He's so cool and dreamy! I've always wanted to meet him and he's going to be in the competition today! Mom, I'm so excited!"
"That's great," Standing up, Katsuko knew she had to get changing. "Well, I'll see you in a bit. I better not see this new boyfriend of yours getting handsy with you."
"Mom! You're so embarrassing!"
Giggling, Katsuko said goodbye and left to get ready.
'Out of all the rotten-' Jogging down the steps in her costume, Wild Tigress stopped when she spotted Barnaby, dressed in his suit, standing near their parked motorbikes. 'O-Oh.'
"Uh . . . Hey!" Cursing to herself with the lame greeting, she jogged over to the blonde. "Um, have you been waiting long?"
"Only three minutes of my life that I'll never get back," Replied Barnaby with a small, teasing smile. "But hey, it's understandable that you want to cover up the crow lines you got."
"Jerk," Katsuko muttered, adjusting her scanner. "Look, let's just get over there, alright?"
"Of course," Barnaby surprised her further when he suddenly grabbed her hand and led her to the side car, giving a gentleman's bow. "Ladies first?"
" . . . What are you doing?" Even as she sat down, she had a confused look. Barnaby took his own seat and gave an expectant look.
"What? Gotta act nice to my new girlfriend, right?" He asked bluntly.
"Hold on . . . You're actually agreeing to that staged romance stuff Lloyds and the Media and going on about?!" Shrieked Katsuko in shrugged nonchalantly.
"It's not like I have to be in love with you," He said, starting the engine. "Publicity is publicity, nothing more to it. What the Media sees is what they speculate. They see us as a couple, and that gives me some time to score some points for whatever time we have. Although," Barnaby flashed a smirk with shining green eyes. "I would have asked for a younger co-star, if I could."
" . . . You're going to be enjoying this, aren't you?" Growled his partner.
"Whatever. Just drive."
Barnaby smirked again and did as he was told.
Reaching their destination, Tigress and Barnaby sat up as many people screamed and ran past them, trying to get away from the raging statue.
"Wait," Katsuko growled as she was stopped by Barnaby, who was once again scanning the area. Deciding to do the same, Tigress followed in suit and search the monster's structure, gasping when she caught the outline of a child's body with curly pigtails and a glowing blue lights. She jumped out of the twin vehicles, but was stopped in mid-step when Barnaby jumped in front of her.
"What do you think you're doing?" He asked.
"What do you think?" Asked the cat-themed hero with a snarl.
"Just wait a second-"
"That thing's got a little girl! She could get hurt!"
"Or maybe, it's the other way around." Barnaby suggested.
"What are you-" Sighing, Tigress tried to move again. "Just get out of the way!"
"Maybe it's not the kid in danger," At the sight of his new partner scratching her head, he explained further. "Look, what we're dealing with here is probably a NEXT with telekinetic abilities," He scratched his chin. "That could explain why the statue isn't functioning without robotic engineering or nuclear product."
"Great. Now we know! We also know that this girl is in danger of hurting herself and we need to help her!" She made it pass the blonde, yet a strong grip caught her wrist and pulled her back to Barnaby. "Let go!"
"Hold on, old bat," Said Barnaby. "We don't want to do anything to hasty. Remember what happened the last time?"
"Th-That . . ." Tigress looked away from the serious gaze, almost shivering in shame. "That was just an accident."
"You know, I'm beginning to question your logic," Barnaby shoved her aside and stood stiffly. "If it weren't for the sponsor's asking this, I would drop this partnership in a second."
With a burning feeling going down her throat, the older hero nodded and looked away. "That makes two of us." She muttered, something paining her insides. The ground below them caused their steps to flatter, and the team looked up to see the statue in front of them.
Katsuko was pulled to the ground with Barnaby's arms wrapped tightly around her at the last second. She closed her eyes and gasped as the heavy and rocky fist was bought down upon them.
'Mommy . . . Big bro . . . Where are you?'
Bullets flying in the air like fireworks. Choruses of screams filling the air. Hands tied above heads and the smell of acid-gas strong enough to burn noses off. Collective memories formed the perfect hostage situation, said hostages gathered in fright at the shooting bank robbers. Multiple rounds of bullets were shot again, and the screams were stopped.
"Don't move, or you're all dead!" Shouted the leader of the robbing trio. Pass his sunglasses, his eyes met a pair of glaring, bright-amber eyes. The little girl was small with short brown hair messily reaching her shoulders, her cheek pressed against the fabric of a stuffed-tiger plushie she carried.
The sound of crashing glass turned his attention away from the little girl, and he and his lackeys fired off at the man that flew right through the window. Dressed in red and blue with a yellow cape and a black mask, the mysterious man walked straight to them with a blue light glowing around him, bullets bouncing back and squarely hitting the robbers.
"Drop the guns," He ordered, just as the men hit the floor and the weapons were kicked away.
"My, it's Mr. Legend." An elderly man whispered.
"He's here to save us!" Cried a woman with joy.
"Shut the Hell up or the kid gets her brains blown out!"
Mr. Legend gritted his teeth at the head robber who didn't get hit. The criminal held the little girl who glared at him in a headlock, his arm tightening and ready to snap the child's neck like a pencil. Tears gathered in the little girl's eyes, and before anyone knew it, she suddenly screamed and began to tremble and turn bright blue.
"What the Hell is with this kid!?" Shouted the robber before being blasted off by the magnitude of the power, crashing him to the counter of the bank. Mr. Legend blinked.
"Well, what do you know," He mused, walking over to the little girl. She sat on her knees with her arms wrapped around herself, still glowing with her shoulders trembling. "Say, what's your name?" He asked.
"Kat . . . Katsuko Kaburagi. . ." She whispered, recoiling when the blonde-haired hero held a hand out to her. "Please, s-stay away."
"Why?" Asked Mr. Legend. Wide eyes that were once a bright brown looked at him in fear, tears threatening to spill again and her bottom lip moving with her chattering teeth.
"Y-You don't want to be around me when I'm like this!" She wailed and pressed her hands to her eyes, tears welling past the cracks of her fingers and small sobs making her hiccup. "P-People get scared when I start to gl-glow! D-Daddy left because of me! He said he didn't want to be around a fr-freak! I hurt people when I get angry on accident! And I hurt mommy and big bro a few times, too! B-Big bro still has his cast!" She cried.
Even in the silence, Tigress could hear the accusations of being called a monster whenever her NEXT abilities were activated. Her classmates had shunned her and those who didn't were told by their parents not to get near her. Whenever a disaster struck because of her power, people grew afraid of her and ran away. She did not want to hurt the man who just saved many people's lives, including her own.
Something nudged her runny nose, and she looked up and stared at her tiger toy. It had dropped out of her hands when the robber had grabbed her. It's button eyes looked so innocent, and it was bought closer to her by Mr. Legend, who smiled at her.
"Now that's not true," He bent down and picked her up, moving her to sit on his elbow with his other hand on her back. "With those powers of yours, you can save people," The toy was placed in her lap and Katsuko held it close to her with wide eyes. "After all, you saved me. That makes you a hero, too." Smiled Mr. Legend.
A small smile twitched on her lips, before the little girl nodded with a grin, bumping knuckles with her hero. As she nuzzled her toy, Mr. Legend led her and the other hostages out the back, a police squad running in the bank and a crowd of people gathered. As the cameras flashed around them, a woman came out of the crowd, looking extremely worried. She spotted Katsuko and gave a cry.
"Katsuko, my baby!" She cried, a ten-year old boy next to her. He had brown hair, dark brown eyes, and was sporting a broken leg. Despite this, he was grinning at Katsuko.
"Mommy! Big bro!" Cried Katsuko, waving. Lifting the young NEXT to sit on his shoulder, Mr. Legend grinned.
"Let's get you back to your family, shall we?"
Senses waking into her, Wild Tigress groaned as she sat up with her visor running again. Her vision blurred before it regain focus and she gasped as her entire frame was trapped in a vice-like grip.
"Had a nice nap, old hag?" Looking at her side, she glared at the sarcastic Barnaby, who was also stuck.
"Funny," She looked around and up at the stilled-statue. "You mind telling me what happened?"
"The statue grabbed us, then stooped again." Replied Barnaby.
"And you're just sitting here!?" Tigress waved her free arm about. "Then why aren't you escaping!?"
"Well, I can't."
"Without using my power, I mean."
"Then use it, you idiot!" Shouted the green-suited hero, feet barely kicking. "What are you waiting for?"
"We've only got five minutes. I wanna save till I really need it." Explained Barnaby.
"Unbelievable!" Katsuko slapped her forehead with her hand. "Well, suit yourself, lil' bunny! I'm out of here!" She shouted, closing her eyes to activated her abilities.
"Whoa-whoa-whoa-whoa! Hold it!"
"What did you call me?" His head was tilted, and Barnaby was sure that something of anger was bubbling in his stomach. "Did you just call me, bunny?" He asked, making sure that even this older woman did not just refer to him as some furry, big-eyed creature.
"Yeah, why not?" Katsuko rested her chin on her hand and wiggled a lazy figure at him. "You're suit's got those little and long, pink bunny ears and you're always hopping around-" Realizing that she hit a bull's-eye, Tigress grinned with victory. "You're just like a cute lil' bunny." She cooed with a giggle.
"I am not a bunny!" Barnaby snapped, a vein popping on his forehead. "My name is Barnaby!"
" . . . I am not a bunny!" Katsuko mimicked a nasally voice, her hands folded to her temples like rabbit ears. "I'm a Barnaby!"
"I don't talk like that!"
"I don't talk like that! Na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-"
"Heads up, you two!" The both of them stopped and listened to Agnes's report. "We've got another statue going on a rampage. This a lion statue heading to the new Morgan District."
"What!?" Katsuko gasped. "That's where the new ice-skating rink is!" Wasting not another thought, Katsuko gathered an enormous strength of power and blasted the stoned fist away, brushing off red dust.
"Mind getting me out, too?"
"Hm?" She whipped her head to her partner, who turned his head away.
"Well, you're all powered up and everything. . ."
"Huh?" Tigress looked at herself before nodding. "So I am." She shot her arm the other way and fired her zip line, throwing Barnaby a mock salute his way before flying off, much to the blonde's anger.
'Yeah . . . I should have seen this coming . . .' He thought with an annoyed sigh.
"C'mon, c'mon!" Katsuko swung her body past sky scrapers and high ways, her cell phone clenched tightly in her hand. At the last ring, she received her daughter's bubbly voice mail, and she groaned and pocketed her phone. Leaping off a trail of cars, she landed on the ground and sprinted onward. "Hold on! Mommy's coming, Kaede." She whispered, only to stop as the stone lion Agnes had reported about.
"Tigress, you read me?"
"Loud and clear!" Tigress yelled as she raced after the lion, aiming her wire gun at the running beast.
"Don't use your wire gun!"
"The statue is a historical, cultural artifact," The television CEO explained. "The government doesn't want it damaged."
"Tell them that's too damn bad!" Yelled Tigress, jumping over the trunk of a car. "Saving the lives of innocent people is what matters more right now!" She shouted.
"You break it, you buy it!" Katsuko sulked at the tone, though that didn't stop her running. She spotted the little girl riding the lion and that boosted her speed.
"The statue's a national treasure. Do you have any idea how much that's worth?"
"Point taken." Katsuko rounded a corner and stopped, only a few feet away from the growling lion and the little girl. From her best guess, the girl looked to be Kaede's age, red-brown curly hair tied into pigtails with blue grey eyes.
"Kid?" Her call caught the girl's attention, and Katsuko gave her friendliest smile. "Hey, come on. Get down from there. I'm here to help."
"No!" The girl shook her head and glowed brighter. "Stay away!"
Her lion leaped over the green and white hero and charged down the street.
"Wait, stop!" Tigress raced after her, trying to keep up.
The little girl spotted the towering ice rink and her hands gripped at the edges of her lion's curved mane.
"Leo, start jumping!" She pointed to the glass dome and her lion did as it was told, leaping over ledges, fire escapes, and sky scrapers. Throwing it's paws in the air "Leo" crashed through the glass dorm and landed on the ice, breaking and causing creases to crack everywhere. Everyone in the area screamed and Katsuko barely made it in time as she jumped through the cracked window and lifted debris that blocked the only exit.
"Go! Hurry, evacuate!" She yelled, everyone running out and getting to safety. Tigress looked behind her and gasped at the girl wearing the pink and black polka-dotted leotard and tutu that laid on the floor, knocked out.
"Kaede!" She called out, pushing away the fallen rubble and running to save her child. A topple of iron bars fell from the sky and Tigress screamed as she skated to save her daughter, only to be a second too late. The ice and rubble met and crushed together, nothing able to survive that attack.
"N-No . . ." Hands trembling, Katsuko bought them to her eyes and fell on her knees, sobbing quietly into her hands. Her whole world before her was torn away. Life held no meaning at that moment. She was too late. "Kaede . . . M-My baby . . ." She cried silently.
"Oh wow! Thanks so much, Mr.!"
The weeping woman flinched at the voice and turned her head, gasping as she saw that Kaede was safe. Not only that, but Barnaby was there as well, placing Kaede on her feet. At the last second, he must have saved her before the rubble could crush her.
"You get home now, alright?" Asked Barnaby, mask removed and smiling kindly at the girl. If Katsuko didn't know any better, she could say that was the first real smile the rookie have ever made.
I sure will! Thank you!" Kaede smiled and ran out of the dorm happily.
"Hey . . ." Katsuko walked over to him, mumbling something to herself before bowing her head at the bewilder Barnaby. "Thanks for doing that."
" . . . Doing what?" Barnaby was confused at the gesture. Didn't she just abandon him to plan his own escape ten minutes ago? "I didn't save your life."
"W-Well," Katsuko was glad her helmet hid the blush on her cheeks. "It-It's kind of like this-"
"GAAAHHHHH! LET ME GO!"
At that shout, the two of them turned to see a blonde teen skater held by the mouth of the stone lion. He was thrown like garbage and Tigress managed to catch him before he was thrown into the sky, bringing him back to the ground. She and the two males stood as the girl on the statue gave them a blank look, blue eyes glowing with a mix of apathetic-anger.
"Stay out of my way." She warned, fingers curling and uncurling. Leo growled in agreement.
"Why are you doing this, kid?" Asked Katsuko. The little girl suddenly pointed at the boy.
"He knows! Isaac knows why!" She yelled. "He and the others!"
"What do you mean?"
"They hate me! All my life, if ever glowed like this, my friends ran away! Their moms and dads told them to stay away from me! All my classmates shunned me for what I did!" She balled her hands into tiny fists. "And him! My best friend even left! He called me a freak! A monster!"
"N-No," Isaac shook his head, his blue eyes holding fear. "Not your whole life. Just when you started to make things move." Anger suddenly flew into his eyes. "Normal kids can't do what you do . . . I mean, it freaks us out! Who wouldn't be freaked out?! We don't hate you! We're afraid of you!"
The girl stepped back. Katsuko could've sworn that it looked like her heart dropped. It wasn't long before her eyes darkened with anger.
"I didn't ask for these powers!" She screamed. "I didn't ask to be a freak!"
"Just stay away!" Isaac yelled. "Just disappear! Go away! No one wants a monster like you!"
Something snapped, and the little growled with fury. "No, you're going away! I'll make you disappear!" She snapped her fingers and her lion began to prowl forward, large footfalls causing light tremors.
"Kid, you gotta stop this!" Wild Tigress shouted, reaching out to the young NEXT. "I know what you're going through!"
"No, you don't!" Screamed the girl.
"I do," That was stated calmly by Katsuko, with brief memories flashing through her eyes. "It happened to me, too. I was about your age when I found out I was a NEXT."
The little girl gave a surprised look, digging the heel of her palm to Leo's neck and stopping him. Tigress placed Isaac down and took a step forward.
"My friends turned on me. I hurt my own brother on accident when I got angry. Like you, adults told their kids to be careful around me, or to stay away from me. I hated my powers. And soon, I started hating myself. But then," A smiled tugged on her lips and she stepped forward. "A hero named Mr. Legend told me something. "With those powers of yours, you can save people."" She quoted. Barnaby looked at her, never seeing this light of his first partner.
"My powers can't." The young NEXT whimpered.
"Why not?" Asked Katsuko.
"Because they're not like a real hero's powers," The girl wrapped her arms around herself and shook. "All I can do is make stuff move."
"Trust me," The cat-themed hero gave a nod. "One day, you'll find a use for them. I promise"
"Y-You mean it?" Asked the girl, a tiny smile on her lips at the new light directed at her.
"Yep! You'd be a great hero one day with what you could do!"
"Really?" The girl's face brighten.
"Sure!" Katsuko offered her hand. "C'mon down. Let's get out of here and call your parents, hm?"
"What are you doing?" Right, she forgot that "Bunny" was still there. "If we don't arrest him, we don't get any points!"
"Oh, shut up, Bunny!" Shouted his partner, appalled by his childishness. It was a little of a happy boost when the blonde flinched. "Alright, kid," She turned back to the new NEXT. "You wanna be a hero? This is your first step! What do you say? Wanna come down now?"
The girl stared at them, unsure and hesitant. She was about to step on a new path, and she was nervous.
Police officers held their guns at the ready. The little girl hid behind Tigress's leg while the latter petted her curly-haired head.
"It's gonna be alright, Tina." Assured the veteran.
"Tina!" A man and woman were trying to pass the crowd. The man's eyes were the same color as Tina's and the woman had a curly mop of hair. "Tina!" They cried out. Tina looked up to Tigress, who nodded in return. Smiling, the little girl raced down the steps.
"Mom! Dad!" She cried, jumping to her parents' arms, receiving kisses from her father and tear-full whimpers from her mother.
Katsuko smiled and leaned back, Barnaby meeting her gaze. For a while, she didn't mind the stare. For now, she was happy that Tina was safe.
She then felt felt something land on her head, she and Barnaby looking up at time as they saw that the ice skating rink was about to collapse. Three of the heroes were already off in the air, ready to brace the building.
"HELP ME!" Everyone soon realized that Isaac was still stuck in the building.
"ISAAC!" Tina screamed, afraid. Barnaby made a move to activated his NEXT ability, yet his partner beat him to it.
"I got this!" Katsuko called over shoulder. "Save it for later!" Jumping ledge after ledge, she braced her hands on the surface of the falling building in between Rock Bison and Sky High.
"Need some help?" She grunted, biting the inside of her cheek as the pressure intensified at every second.
"Hey," Rock Bison nodded in her direction. "Glad to see that you can make it."
"You have a kind heart, Miss. Tigress!" Praising this, Sky High nodded at her with a warm voice. "The sweetest type of woman with a heart of gold. Thanks, and thanks again!"
"Oh, save that for your honeymoon!" Shouted the Blue Thorn. He notice that the female of their quadruplet was pushing the base of the dome with her shoulder. "Tired already, Tigress?" He teased.
"I-I!" Gasping suddenly, Katsuko's face turned flushed. "My power's g-gonna run out!"
The male heroes gasped, trying put more of their strength.
"Seriously?" Rock Bison groaned. "We gotta do something!"
"Tina!" Katsuko sudden shouted, catching the young girl's attention from down below. "We can't hold it! I-It's gonna fall! We need your help, Tina! We need you, NOW!" She shouted.
"I can't . . ." Whispered Tina, cowering in her mother's arms.
"Please, Tina!" Tigress yelled from above. "I know you can!" She pushed her head to the stone, her feet slipping the slightest. "Tina! PLEASE!" Breath stilling near her throat, Tigress was sure she was about to fall. "Power fading in five . . . Four . . . Th-Three . . . T-Two . . .!" All the heroes gave a gasp as the pressure was suddenly lifted from them, everyone in the area lifting their heads as soon as they saw the giant hammer statue hold the dome. On its head, Tina sat upon it along with Leo. She waved and giggled when Leo licked her.
Katsuko smiled, stumbling a little suddenly.
"Miss. Tigress!" Sky High caught her. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine," Katsuko panted tiredly and picked herself up, giving a smile. "Just a little dizzy. Never better." She looked up and waved back at Tina.
'Yep, never better.'
Once back on the ground, Katsuko smiled at Tina, who sat in her parents' car with police escorts ready to drive them to settle things.
"If I'm not mistaken, I think you just saved the day, Tina." The latter beamed and Katsuko smiled and leaned forward. "You know what that means?" At that small tilt of the head, Katsuko petted her head. "It means you're a hero."
"I'm a . . . A hero?" Asked Tina. Nodding, Katsuko held her fist to Tina, who got the message and met the old hero in a fist bump. The car took off then, and Tigress waved as it began to drive.
At that call, the driver suddenly stopped and Tina opened the door, blinking when she saw it was Isaac.
"I-Isaac?" She asked, gasping when the boy pulled her into a hug. "I . . . Isaac?" She whispered again, blushing brightly.
"You were awesome," Whispered Isaac, pulling away before bowing his head. "I-I'm sorry . . . For everything! I shouldn't have been a jerk! I-I shouldn't have left and forgot about you when I started my career. Tina, you have every right to be mad at me. And I understand if you don't wanna be fr-"
The corner of his lips were pecked at, and he stared at Tina with wide eyes as his cheeks began to tint.
"I-If you're trying to say we can be more than friends, then-" Tina looked away and her whole face gained color. "I w-wouldn't mind . . ."
Isaac turned a little more red himself, overwhelmed by that innocent kiss, before nodding and smiling.
"Yeah," He pointed to the car. "Let's go. I'll be with you on this thing."
Tina smiled, tears gathering in her eyes. "Isaac-"
"Hey," Isaac winked. "I'd be the worst if I didn't, right?"
Katsuko smiled as she watched the cute scene form, the young more-than-friends hopping into the car and driving away with sirens booming around them. She was a little worried that Kaede would be disappointed, but she knew she'd get over it.
"Oh please," Katsuko turned and cocked her head at Barnaby. "You have plenty of power, you old hag."
"Huh?" The older woman jerked, surprised that she was caught. "W-Well! Isn't this a . . . S-Sudden turn of events!" She laughed weakly, the blonde turning his nose on her. Typical stubborn rabbit.
"You said that out loud, old bat."
"Did not, Bunny!"
"I told you, my name is Barnaby!"
"I'm telling you," Barnaby sighed, sitting back on a leather couch of the penthouse office of Apollo Media. "That woman is a loose cannon. This is not working out."
"On the contrary," Albert Maverick himself answered this, smiling. "It's working out perfectly."
"She is a veteran, a face that people remember. She was one of the first to join the heroes at a young age," Maverick said as he held his hands behind his back. "Seventeen-years-old. Now that is just something. With the two of you side-by-side, your publicity widens. Barnaby, there's a reason you revealed your identity, correct?" Receiving no answered, he smiled. "You're not going to let all of your careful preparation go to waste, are you my boy?"
"No, sir," The blonde answered briskly, resting his head in his hands. A whole two days around Katsuko, and the woman had already turned his life upside down. She was so reckless and hasty. And she didn't even care a thing for the points! How idiotic was that? His blood boiled at her foolish exclaims. How heartfelt and deep they were as Katsuko's face would darken with passion and how her eyes glowed to bring some holy light.
Barnaby cough and shook his head. Now where did that come from?
Katsuko nodded as she held her home phone to her ear, making herself a late dinner as she talked to Kaede.
"I'm just glad you're alright, honey." She assured, piling the fried rice onto her plate and taking a seat on the couch.
"I'm fine, mom. Really." Her daughter assured. "It was scary, but I'm fine!"
"Great. Oh, did you get the gift I sent? Sorry that it had to be delivered."
"Yeah!" Katsuko wondered if Kaede was wearing the small charm bracelet at this moment. She had picked every charm carefully, from the ice skating princess, to the cherry blossom, to the silver music note, and the shiny maple leaf. "It's really nice, mom. Thank you."
"I'm glad you like it. But you know, if I were there, I would have ran and got you out of there like that!" Her mother said firmly. "A mom's always ready to protect her baby."
"Oh, I had plenty protection, mom!"
"This guy, Barnaby Brooks Jr., saved me!" Katsuko did not like how the young brunette started that off. "You should see him up close! He's so cool! And really, really cute!" Kaede sighed suddenly. "But they say he's alright dating someone he's working with. Another hero. Wild Tigress," She sighed again. "Man, you'd never think he'd be attracted to older women, huh? Man, all of the cute guys are already dating! That's not fair!"
"Um . . . Yeah . . ." Groaning, Katsuko fell back in her seat.
'Great . . . Dear, if you can hear me up there in Heaven, please listen. Please forgive me! I don't want my own daughter thinking I stole her future boyfriend! Have mercy on me!'
In a dark and expensive-looking room, Barnaby stood near a large glass window over-looking Sternbild. Instead of looking at the amazing sight however, he looked at the picture he held in his hand. A family of three smiled back at him, one smile belonging to a younger version of himself while the other two belong to a couple. The woman was lovely with a honey-sweet smile while the man gave a proud smile that matched his powerful stature.
Mint-green eyes flickered to a laptop, the screen glowing with a drawing that looked like a serpent being sliced in half by a sword, right through its middle.
"Ouroboros . . ."
The glass of the picture frame shattered under Barnaby's fingertips.
Barnaby: This is Barnaby, the member of Tigress and Bunny who wears the glasses and- Hey! Who went and planted the bomb!? I'm right in the middle of a freakin' interview here! Not to mention I gotta take the old bat on a date, debuting our "confessions" to each other. Geez, the things I do for points! Barnaby. The bomb. Focus! Next time, on Tigress and Bunny; This Above All: Be True to Thy Jest. See ya!
Tigress and Bunny: Episode Three: This Above All: Be True to Thy Jest!
Man, that was fun to type! I'm glad I had to re-type their earlier since there were some parts I wanted to change XD All and all, this chapter ended on a pretty interesting point.
I really do feel that in a situation like this, Barnaby would be amused by being paired up with Fem!Kotetsu. It seems a little OCC, but as it appears in the english dub, he's a little more free-willed and young. Plus, it would be really funny to see an flustered Katsuko all because Barnaby is screwing her head up with points on the line, and for his own amusement X3
Anyway, thanks to you who have read and reviewed! I hope you all are ready for the next chapter! I think all of you might enjoy Barnaby and Katsuko's, heh-heh, date X3 Please make sure to read and review and feel free to give out suggestions! I'd love to hear what you guys have to say! Till then, bye-bye!
This is me saying, Peace!