Title: When Waking a Tiger
Chapter: 1 of 4
Disclaimer: I do not own Tiger & Bunny
Warning: Some explicit content. Possible spoilers if you haven't gotten through Episode 13 (the conclusion of the Jake Martinez arc); however, this is set at no particular point in time.
A very special thanks to calloutyoru for her help, guidance and inspiration in completing this.
I'll never love another.
Barnaby Brooks, Jr., woke suddenly, covered in sweat, his heart racing at an unnatural pace. It was a familiar feeling—the same way he had awakened hundreds of times before, as he dreamt of the murder of his parents over and over. However, that dream had not plagued him for quite some time; instead, a new dream had shocked him out of his slumber.
Now that the dream was over, a single, haunting phrase ran through his mind. "I'll never love another," his partner, Kaburagi Kotetsu, declared. His low, teasing voice seemed to resonate from all around. Even as Barnaby came out of his dreamy hazy, the phrase still continued repeating in his mind.
The dream was about an incident that had happened recently, during an uneventful evening when Kotetsu and Barnaby had gone out for drinks.
It was a typical evening after work. The two men sat at the end of the bar, sipping drinks while they quietly conversed. Yet at some point, the conversation took an unusual turn, and the older man made mention of his deceased wife. Usually, this was a topic that Kotetsu refused to discuss. Barnaby understood that it was off-limits, and he never so much as alluded to it. But for some reason, tonight, his partner was willing to say a few words about her.
Barnaby realized that although his partner knew so much about his own tragic past, Kotetsu seldom spoke about anything negative that had happened to him. Even when he spoke of her tonight, he tried to sound upbeat, but Barnaby knew him too well to miss the profound sadness behind his eyes.
"I'll never love another," was the last comment Kotetsu had made about her, grinning foolishly to mask the pain that he must have been feeling in recalling memories of his wife.
Barnaby nodded quietly and stared down into his drink, trying to act unaffected. Yet inside, he felt like he had been struck in the chest with a hammer. He struggled to force the breath in and out of his lungs.
Oblivious to any of Barnaby's inner turmoil, the dark haired man sighed, and rested his chin on his hands. Barnaby could not help but fixate on the wedding right he still wore on his finger.
That was the moment when Barnaby had finally come to terms with a feeling that had been growing in the back of his mind for some time. He had being trying to ignore or deny it, but at that time, the pain he felt cleared any last suspicion he had. Despite how goofy and clumsy this partner of his was, somehow, in the time they had spent together, he had grown to feel affection toward him that was far greater than friendship...
I can't keep denying that I'm in love with Kotetsu-san, he agonized.
This was only the first of many reoccurring nightmares that Barnaby had about that evening.
Once again, Barnaby had retreated to the rooftop of the Justice Tower. It was all he could do when he felt himself slipping; he didn't want anyone else to figure out that he was struggling to keep his feelings in check. Too often in the past, he had let his emotions betray him.
He stared out at the horizon, forcing himself to take deep, steady breaths until his pulse began to return to a normal rate. Finally, he felt himself start to relax. He sighed heavily and leaned against the railing. Engrossed in his thoughts, he failed to notice another approach him.
"What's wrong, Bunny?" he heard a rumbling voice behind him, too close to his ear. He felt a familiar hand gently touch his shoulder.
Barnaby spun around and started to pull away, but his gaze locked with Kotetsu's intense eyes and he froze. As always, the older man's expression reflected an unbearable amount of emotion. The concern and care that reflected back at him, which felt like it was meant only for him, was too much for the young man to take. He averted his eyes as he felt his cheeks grow warm.
Kotetsu removed his hand from Barnaby's shoulder. He leaned against the rail, a bit too close to Barnaby for his comfort.
"Why are you here?" Barnaby finally snapped. "I wanted some time alone."
"I'm your partner," Kotetsu glanced over his shoulder, grinning nonchalantly. "Is there something wrong with me being concerned?"
More than you realize, Barnaby thought bitterly. He crossed his arms and stared down at his feet, trying to think of an excuse that would make his partner leave. Absentmindedly, he gnawed at his lower lip.
Kotetsu turned to face him, and gently brushed his hand against Barnaby's jaw.
The blonde man flinched in surprise. "What are you doing?"
"You were biting your lip," Kotetsu replied, his expressive eyes carefully scanning Barnaby's face.
"You know," Kotetsu started, "there was a time you didn't want to talk to me about anything, but that was quite awhile ago. I know you've learned since then you can talk to me about whatever's on your mind." He smiled broadly, raising his hand in a thumbs-up gesture, using the protruding thumb to point as his chest. "So, you should tell your partner what's on your mind," he concluded boldly.
"I can tell my partner anything, huh," Barnaby repeated flatly.
"Yeah, anything. Don't take all the burden on alone," Kotetsu said, placing his hands on his hips and widening his grin.
Barnaby felt his patience start to slip. He had already been on edge before the older man appeared before him. He could only endure so much more before his temper was going to flash.
"We've been together too long for you to make this mistake again," Kotetsu continued obliviously.
"Been together," Barnaby growled under his breath. His choice of words is just too terrible, he thought as his feelings continued to boil.
"Your problem is my problem."
And then, Barnaby felt it ignite inside of him; that uncontrollable frustration he could no longer suppress.
He reached out and violently grabbed Kotetsu by his vest, clutching the fabric tightly. "You think you have the same problem as me? That you can just start your meddling, and suddenly we share all the same feelings?"
Kotetsu reached up and scratched the side of his head. "I guess what I mean is, I'll make it my problem, too, even if it has nothing to do with me—"
"That's just it—it has everything to do with you!" Barnaby exploded, cutting him off.
Barnaby clutched his vest tighter and yanked Kotetsu closer to him, until his face was just inches from his own, glaring at him angrily. A wave of concern passed over Kotetsu's face, but he made no move to try to pull away.
Instead, Kotetsu reached forward and pressed Barnaby's shoulder firmly, almost tenderly. "Oi, if I did something to make you this upset, then tell me what it was. Otherwise I won't be able to figure out how to make it right."
"You won't be able to make it right anyway," Barnaby snapped, still tightly clutching the other man's vest.
"Because of this," he replied angrily. He pulled Kotetsu against him and pressed their lips together. Barnaby let go of his vest and determinedly grabbed onto Kotetsu's shoulders, holding him in place so he could not escape. At first, he kissed him apprehensively, then more forcefully, and held him in the kiss for what felt like an inordinately long amount of time.
When he let go and pulled away, he was not sure what kind of expression he expected to see. Kotetsu was the kind of man who could not help but openly wear every single emotion he was feeling. Surely, Barnaby was about to see a kaleidoscope of anger, disgust and outrage.
Yet when he pulled away, Kotetsu wore none of those expressions. At first, his mouth was slightly agape in surprise, his brown eyes wide. He stared at Barnaby speechlessly.
Then his expression softened, and he looked at him with a mixture of understanding and relief, a small smile crossing his face.
"Ah, is that it, Bunny," he rumbled softly, reaching out toward Barnaby's face to brush a stray strand of hair off of his cheek. The gentleness of his touch and voice sent a shiver down Barnaby's spine.
"I see why it was hard," Kotetsu continued, resting his hand on Barnaby's cheek. "You're right, it does have everything to do with me." His rough hand felt warm and comforting against his face.
Kotetsu leaned forward and gently pressed his mouth against Barnaby's lips. As the seconds ticked by, he pulled Barnaby closer and closer to him, pressing his lips and body more firmly against him, until there was no space left between the two of them.
Barnaby's pulse raced wildly. He desperately tried to make up his mind whether he should pull away or continue, but he could not think clearly, and instead let Kotetsu continue to guide him.
The older man started to move more eagerly, deepening the kiss. His tongue adeptly explored his mouth, playfully pressing against Barnaby's. The blonde man could not help but let a few muffled moans of pleasure escape. For as clumsy as Kotetsu was in most things he did, Barnaby was surprised at the skill of the kiss.
Unconsciously, Barnaby pressed his body more tightly against him, pulling him as close as possible. Then, as he pressed against Kotetsu's lower half, he felt that telltale sign of pleasure press against his own erection.
Barnaby suddenly pulled away, shocked back into reality. He forcefully pried the older man away from him. He panted heavily, out of breath. His body ached for more, but he willed himself to widen the distance, so that they were no longer touching.
"I'm not sure why you just did that," Barnaby said, trying to quell the shakiness of his voice. "No matter how you look at it, this isn't logical."
"Eh? What does that have to do with anything? I always say you have to go with your gut—and that applies even more when it comes to something like this." Kotetsu scratched his head thoughtfully.
Barnaby scowled. "What part of another man kissing you would make your instinct be to kiss back?"
"Well, it's just..." Kotetsu trailed off, gazing upward in thought.
"It felt good, and I have no reason to not want to do that sort of thing with you."
What the hell does he mean by no reason not to want to do this with me?
"Even if you say that now, I'm sure once you've given it a little bit more thought, you'll wonder why you didn't knock me down for that," Barnaby concluded.
Kotetsu shook his head negatively. "No way."
Barnaby desperately fought the urge to flee from Kotetsu's penetrating gaze. He did not want to keep experiencing the twisting, apprehensive feelings deep in his stomach. And perhaps worst of all, he knew that if he did not cool down, his temper would lead to him saying something he would regret.
Yet all of Barnaby's willpower was not enough to stop it from flashing. "Then why don't we test that out," he said haughtily.
Dammit, shut your mouth, you fool, he though inwardly. He stared at Kotetsu, trying to maintain a fierce expression.
"I'm not sure entirely what you mean," he said, tilting his head curiously. "But I guess whatever you have in mind, I'm alright with it."
Don't just say you'll go along with anything! Barnaby bit down on his lip, hard, trying to suppress a tremble. "Then be at my place tonight at nine."
Kotetsu smiled. "Ah, is that it? Alright, I'll be there." To Barnaby, at that moment, the brightness of his smile felt almost blinding.