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Tiger & Bunny: Of Blood and Water

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AU for LJ prompt: Kotetsu's evolving NEXT powers make him a target of Maverick's schemes. Can Barnaby rescue him before it's too late or is it already too late?



Chapter 1



The soft rain mixed with the blood slipping down pale and cooling skin. The blood slowly dispersed with each droplet, but the gentle rain couldn't fix the shattered bones, couldn't heal the gaping wound were the man's neck had been. More droplets fell from the numb and trembling fingers of the figure hunched over the prone form. The eerie red glow had faded, replaced by the shine of water and blood on tan skin and dark hair.


“Not again . . . oh god, please tell me not again!” The raw wail echoed, unanswered as it descended in to sobs. The rain increased into a steady pounding rhythm as the man staggered to his feet. He held his hands out away from his body as if he couldn't believe they were part of himself. They were still stained with blood, cut and bruised from the fight. Stumbling away from the body he tried to avoid looking at the other bodies scattered around the field. The grass was trampled and missing altogether in places. Through the sheets of rain sweeping across the field he could see his other 'comrades'. He shuddered, hanging his head. How did this happen? How did I go from being a hero to being a contract killer, a murderer . . .


“Move it Kaburagi or we won't make the extraction point.” The barked command snapped him out of his thoughts.


Oh yes, that's right. I wasn't given a choice. Shedding the blood and rain soaked military vest he let the cold rain pound against his back and shoulders as he walked the thin cotton t-shirt doing nothing to protect him. No, Albert Maverick had given him two choices.


“You can stay and help make the world a safer place or I can have you permanently confined as a dangerous next. Of course if you choose the later, we can never allow visitors.”


Admittedly, he pretty much quit listening after that, choosing not to think about what he'd have to do in order to continue to see his family. Bunny.


* * *


The young blond stood perfectly straight in front of the large wooden desk, his eyes never leaving the plump figure lounging behind it.


“I would really like to know, sir. He was my partner for over a year and-”


“And you think you have some obligation to him? Is that it?”


“Well . . . yes, I mean he did help me defeat the man responsible for my parent's death. I think it only right that I reciprocate in some fashion.”


“You seem to be under the impression that he's in some sort of distress.” Albert Maverick leaned forward the leather chair groaning in protest. “I assure you that when I reassigned him I took great care in choosing his new mission. He's still doing what he loves to do and doing it quite well actually.”


Barnaby's shoulders slumped almost imperceptibly though his expression betrayed nothing. This was a mistake, I should have trusted Kotetsu when he said he was fine, but . . .

“So when will he be back?”


Maverick's eyes narrowed slightly and he looked down at the desk calendar splayed before him. “They just finished some relief work in Peru. His new powers, although very destructive, come in quite useful in situations like we faced there.”


Barnaby nodded in agreement, though something nagged at the back of his mind. “Thank you for talking with me, I'm sorry to have wasted your time.”


“You know I always enjoy our visits, Barnaby, but I promise I'm taking good care of Wild Tiger.”



Sipping a dry red wine, Barnaby sat glaring at the computer screen before him. It wasn't that he didn't trust Maverick, but something just seemed off. Maybe it was the fact that Kotetsu hadn't been in contact with anyone, not even his family or Lopez in almost three months since being reassigned. Or maybe it was just his own selfishness in wanting to satisfy his curiosity as to exactly what his former partner was doing. Looking up recent news on Peru yielded very little. Part of the rural region of the country had experienced a natural disaster, but there was no mention of a corps of NEXT arriving to assist survivors. Frustrated he shut down the search engine. Three months and nothing. Kotetsu was not the type of person to just leave and not keep some kind of contact.


Laying back in the chair, Barnaby took gulp of his wine trying to think. When they had worked together, Kotetsu had called Kaede almost daily, sometimes more than once a day. From talking with Dr. Saito he'd discovered that the Kaburagi's had called Appollon repeatedly asking to speak with Kotetsu. Each time they were told he was out of the country and unavailable. It just didn't add up.


Setting the glass down, he let out a heavy sigh. This was getting him nowhere. They had to let the squad come home to Sternbild sometime and then he'd find a way to talk to Kotetsu and make sure for himself that he was adjusting alright.


Two weeks later he found himself standing before Judge Petrov for the first time since he'd become a Hero.


“This is highly unusual for you Mr. Brooks.” Judge Petrov tilted his head to the side and Barnaby fought the urge to fidget under the piercing gaze. “I'd like to know what precipitated this . . . accident.”


Blowing out a soft breath Barnaby readjusted his glasses. “First I would like to apologize to the court and to the citizens of Sternbild for my . . . oversight in this matter. It was not my intention to cause such structural damage.”


Elegant eyebrows raised and Barnaby braced himself for the diatribe. “I appreciate your apology, but you did not answer my question Mr. Brooks. If I may point out, this is the first time you've ever appeared before me and I must say that you are the last Hero I expected to see regarding property damage.”


“Y-yes sir. I-I . . . have no excuses for my actions.”


“Then is there a reason?”


Barnaby flinched subtly surprised by the Judge's keen perception. “Sir, I am ashamed to admit that I have been distracted lately.”

“This is unfortunate Mr. Brooks. Please pay more attention in the future.”


“Yes sir. Of course, sir.”


Later that evening Barnaby was shocked to find an email waiting for him from one Yuri Petrov.


Mr. Brooks,


I would like to discuss your case further. If you are available please call and set up a time with my secretary.





* * *


The transport was dark, the occupants silently swaying with the movement of the vehicle as it traversed the uneven terrain. Kotetsu kept his eyes closed. It was the easiest way to avoid anyone noticing he was awake. The last thing he wanted to do was talk to any of the other NEXT in the squad. There was nothing to talk about. Most of the other men and women were as worn and exhausted as he was and chose not to speak either. For all of Maverick's supposed good intentions it was blatantly obvious that they were simply a mop up unit. No one had been able to combat them or even really slow them down in the three months since he'd joined. There is only so much conventional weaponry can do against super powered NEXT protected by space-age body armor and weaponry.


He grunted softly as they were jostled particularly hard, the harness keeping him secured digging into his neck. Shifting back in the seat he looked up to see the man across from him staring at him. He smiled a bit lopsided, unsure what to do or say and looked back down. He knew in normal circumstances he would have said something witty or goofy to try and break the tension, but this situation was anything but normal.


“You killed Mike.”


Blinking Kotetsu looked up trying to make out the man's expression in the dim light. He didn't remember actually killing anyone, only . . . after and the bodies. “Eh . . . who?”


“Mike McIvers, he was the guy with the electromagnetic power.”


Kotetsu looked up and down the transport and spotted three empty seats. His chest suddenly felt tight, a sharp ache blossoming under his sternum. “I . . did?”


“All he did was step in front of you and you literally took his head off.” There was a soft shuff of cloth and the man leaned forward as far as the harness would let him. “We might all be killers, but we don't kill our own.”


“I-I . . . it-I can't control it-I never meant t-to . . .” He stuttered to a stop as the ache wound it's way up, choking him and making his eyes sting.


“Whatever. You might be fucking invincible when you activate but we all now you ain't shit otherwise.”


Kotetsu gulped trying not to let his dread get the better of him. He let his head drop until his chin rested on his chest. Tomoe . . . I failed. I'm a murderer, not a hero. How can I ever face Kaede or Barnaby again knowing what I've become? Maybe . . . maybe it's for the best that I don't return. Closing his eyes he felt the tears slip free. All those years working so hard to protect people and now he was reduced to this, someone that even other killers despised. There was nothing he could do about it, no way to stop himself. He'd tried, refusing to activate his powers and even trying to starve himself so that he was too weak to activate them, but Maverick had out maneuvered him at every turn. All it took as the simple shock collar and strapping him down at night with an IV drip and they'd kept him fed and forced him to activate when they needed him. It was humiliating and degrading on every level. He felt more like an attack dog, conditioned to perform when called upon. He'd never hated anyone in his life like he hated Albert Maverick. The man had literally taken everything from him.


“Fuck you're such a cunt,” The man's gruff voice snapped him out of his thoughts. “If it wasn't for that stupid beard I'd think you really were a bitch.”


Kotetsu reached up and wiped away the tears. “I'd think that being able to express some emotion other than anger would be a good thing in our situation.”


“Fuck you.” There was a click and a snap and the shadowy figure lurched to his feet. Despite himself, Kotetsu pressed back against the side of the transport glancing around at the others. No one met his eyes some turning away while others watched with mild interest. Reaching up he fumbled with the clasp only to yelp in surprise as his arm was grabbed and pinned over his head. He turned his face away as hot breath on his cheek made his skin tingle unpleasantly.


“You reek of blood, what did you do, bathe in it?” The question was growled in his ear making him flinch. He gasped as his hair was grabbed by thick rough fingers, his head thudding against the metal behind him. Blinking away stars he glared up at the man. Dark eyes under heavy brows regarded him with something just shy of hatred.


“What do you want?” He managed from between clenched teeth.


“I want to see you bleeding. I'd like to kill you like you did Mike, but that won't solve anything now will it?” Unable to suppress the shudder, Kotetsu tried to pull away from the larger man, but the grip on his wrist tightened until his was nearly writhing with the pain.


“You think I don't wish I could have stopped myself! I don't get to choose when I activate!” Kotetsu was ashamed to realize he'd raised his voice and took a breath trying to get himself back under some semblance of control. “You see this collar?”


He gestured to it with his free hand, careful not to touch it. “That's how they make me activate. I don't want to be there, I hate what they make me do, but right now I have no choice.”


“There is always a choice.” The man informed him. “None of us want to be here, I'm sure most of us have other things we'd much rather be doing, but we chose this for one reason or another.”


The grip in his hair lessened and a brief flicker of hope sprang up. As much as it pained him to admit it the man was right. He had his reasons for choosing this over the other option Maverick had given him. Though now it didn't seem like the better path. If he'd went with lifetime incarceration at least he wouldn't be a murderer. Either way it seemed that the chances of ever seeing his family or Barnaby again were slim and getting slimmer each day he was gone. They probably don't even notice I'm not there. It's not like I was that involved in Kaede's life as it was and Bunny . . .


“You ignoring me?” Fingers tightened and his head was wrenched to the side, exposing his neck in a way that had panic surging through him.


“N-no! No, I was just thinking that-that you are right.” His voice trailed off as he found himself pinned by the dark expression in the man's eyes. The subtle red glow was just enough to illuminate the small space around them.


“D-don't do this!” Kotetsu pleaded with the man his eyes wide as he shoved against the massive chest with his free hand. He had no idea what this man's power was or what might happen if he used it in the small space.


“Calm down Eric!”


“Shit dude, don't activate here! You'll kill us all!”


“Calm it down back there or I'll tranq you Martin. Sit your ass down!”


Kotetsu bit back a yelp as his head was slammed back again, the glowering presence of the other man fading. Gingerly rubbing the back of his head he kept his eyes on the floor. Letting the muttered comments of the other passengers wash over him he tried not to think too hard about the encounter. It was difficult when he could still feel the man glaring at him from across the narrow aisle. The red glow faded once again leaving the transport in darkness.

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You really did it :D


Can't wait to read more *_*

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A Tiger & Bunny fanfic!!!!! Thank you! :Red_fox11:

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Chapter 2



The sky was deceptively clear, the air biting through the thin body suit as Kotetsu stood looking out the door of the transport. It had been less than a week since their last assignment and now they were half-way across the world in a small country he'd never even heard of before. He'd been left behind with two others to keep an eye on the sensor readouts while the rest of the squad did recon. They never took him on recon. For obvious reasons. Sighing, he blew his bangs out of his eyes and glanced back in the transport.


“See anything?”


“Not since you asked two minutes ago.” Came the gruff response.


With a small pout Kotetsu looked back out at the copse of trees were they'd hidden the transport. They could be anywhere. Leaning back against the door frame he wondered what everyone else was up to, Kaede should be in school. Barnaby, Antonio, Nathan and the others would be working as Heroes. Barnaby was probably racking up points like crazy. A soft, sad smile twisted his lips and he hung his head for a moment. He'd never thought he would miss fighting for points and having to go to interviews and just being a public figure. He'd always imagined that when he officially retired it would be back to Oriental Town to help his mother raise Kaede. The half-hearted smile faded and he rubbed a hand over his eyes, brushing his hair back.


“Daydreaming, are we?”


Kotetsu jerked, startled and lost his footing falling out of the door and landing with a thud. Groaning he rolled over to see his reflection in highly polished boots. He scrambled to his feet, brushing at his uniform as he smiled sheepishly trying to hide his disgust for the man before him. How had they missed his chopper arriving? He hadn't even heard anything.


“Mr. Maverick, I didn't think you were coming this time . . . sir.” He was careful to avoid looking the older man directly in the eye.


Maverick's smile sent a chill through him and it took all his will power not to flinch away as the man patted him on the shoulder. “Its a surprise visit. Excuse me while I go talk with the Lieutenant.”


It was only after the broad form had disappeared into the transport that Kotetsu allowed the disgust to show. He found a spot in the shade and sat down where he could watch the door. He knew better than to trust Maverick. The man was eerily well prepared for any contingency and Kotetsu knew this visit was no whim.


“Kaburagi, Mr. Maverick wants to speak with you.”


Muttering softly to himself, Kotetsu got to his feet. Something just didn't feel right. “Yes, sir, coming sir.”


He blinked a few times as his eyes adjusted to the dim lighting of the interior.


“Have a seat Mr. Kaburagi.” Maverick's voice was like oil, slick and cloying. “There is something I wish to discuss with you.”


Perching on the edge of the seat Kotetsu regarded his employer. “Yes, sir?”


“I've been doing some research into your powers and have found some interesting information. It seems you are quite special indeed.”


Brows knitting in frustration, Kotetsu finally looked Maverick in the eye. “I don't understand.”


“My researchers didn't either until your last assignment.” Maverick grinned seeming genuinely pleased. “You killed more guerilla's in less than five minutes than I ever through possible. There was that unfortunate incident with the other NEXT, but it can't be helped.”


Kotetsu's fingers were aching with how tightly he was clenching them. “I-I don't-don't want to do this anymore Mr. Maverick. I don't want to kill people.”


“We've been over this before, Kotetsu and besides you haven't heard the best news yet.”


Trying to swallow the bile in his throat Kotetsu nodded once, his eyes on his boots.


“From the data gathered by your suit it seems that your new powers are unlike anything we've seen before. You kill anything that crosses your path in a most spectacular fashion, but that isn't even the best part! It seems that you can channel the energy around you into yourself and redirect it where you wish. Once this assignment is finished you'll be coming back to Sternbild so that more research can be done.”


Hope suddenly fluttered to life in his chest and he almost wanted to curl around it protectively. “I .. . I'm going home?”


“Well back to the Appollon headquarters, yes. Just complete this assignment satisfactorily and there might even be a couple of day passes in it for you too.”


Nodding Kotetsu was almost afraid to show too much enthusiasm worried that Maverick would revoke the offer. “Thank you sir.”


“Don't thank me yet.” The soft words rendered the hope to ash, the dry bitter taste coating his tongue. “I want you to activate voluntarily tonight. Don't make the Lieutenant force you again.”


“Mr. Maverick you can't-”


“You can do this and make things much easier on yourself Kotetsu.”


Hanging his head Kotetsu squeezed his eyes shut, after a long moment he slowly shook his head. “I'm not going to willingly murder people.”


“Either way, they will still die. You might was well save yourself some pain.”




Maverick chuckled. “I knew you'd say that, but I thought I'd at least offer. He's all your's Lieutenant.”


Perplexed, Kotetsu looked up as Maverick got to his feet. Before he could say anything there was a sharp sting in his arm. Grunting he jerked away looking up at his superior officer in horror.


“What are you-”


“It's best not to fight it Kaburagi. Its really for your own protection. Once the others realize they can use you to increase their own powers . . . well, things could get nasty.”




“Didn't you understand what I was telling you earlier Kotetsu?” Maverick's tone was condescending as if to a child. “You are a catalyst, and once I figure out how to harness your power you'll be of great use to me.”


“No . . .” The word was softly breathed, Kotetsu not even realizing he'd spoken until Maverick laughed.


“You cannot stop me, even with all your vaunted power, you cannot stop me.”


“No!” Kotetsu leapt to his feet and promptly collapsed his heart racing too fast, breathing suddenly difficult.


“Ah now, don't be like that Kotetsu, after all I am paying you extremely well for your . . . services.” Again that low hateful laughter that made Kotetsu grit his teeth. The instant he activated it would be over for them but that would mean he'd chosen to become a killer. Could he do it . . . should he do it? No, no matter how much he hated them and what they were doing to him he couldn't bring himself to kill them for it. It would make him no better than Lunatic.

I could really use you right now, Bunny.


* * *


Shifting slightly in the plush leather chair, Barnaby tried to conceal his agitation. He'd debated with himself for quite some time whether or not to call for an appointment. He'd finally done so and know, three days later sat before Judge Petrov. The man himself minus his robes somehow seemed less imposing yet not any less intimidating. Maybe it was that shrewd gaze that Barnaby had to force himself to meet.


“Thank you for seeing me Judge Petrov.” Barnaby inclined his head his eyes never leaving the figure before him. “How may I assist you?”


Petrov's smile sent a slight chill through Barnaby but for no reason he could discern. “I wanted to speak with you privately about your current . . . performance for Hero TV.”


“Ah, yes . . . that.” Suddenly self conscious, he readjusted his glasses. “I'm afraid it's entirely a personal problem.”


“That's understandable. We all bring aspects of our home life to our work.” Barnaby wasn't sure what to make of the brief wry smile that crossed the Judge's lips. “I'm aware that you've been asked to take on a double work-load since Wild Tiger was reassigned.”


Barnaby pressed his lips together and nodded, a short jerk of his head. “True though that might be it's no excuse for my getting sloppy at work. I will gladly pay any fine you determine is reasonable, Judge Petrov.”


“You are correct that it is no excuse, but it is a reason. As I stated the other day in the courtroom, there is a reason behind your current state and I for one would rather not have to fine the King of Heroes for preventable damages.” Again that enigmatic smile. “If you were still partnered with Tiger this would no doubt be a non-issue. Things haven't been quite the same since he left.”


“No-no they haven't.” Barnaby looked down for a moment. “I'm sorry Judge Petrov, but I'm not certain why you called this meeting-”


“It's simple. I oversee the goings on involving Hero TV and Appollon Media and lately something seems a bit . . . off so to speak. I'd rather not launch a full investigation . . .”


“But why involve me?”


Nearly white hair spilled over a dark suited shoulder as Petrov cocked his head to the side. “You are already involved, I only wanted to bring it to your attention. Have you heard from Tiger lately?”


Perplexed by the sudden change of subject Barnaby sank back in the chair one hand coming up to grip his hair for a moment. “No . . . no I haven't. Not since the first month he was reassigned.”


“Interesting.” Was the only comment. After a long pause Barnaby finally ventured to press the issue.


“What are you getting at Judge Petrov?”


The soft smile sent the oddest jolt of pain through his chest. “No one has Mr. Brooks. No one.”


On the drive back to his apartment, Barnaby kept going over the short conversation in his head. Nothing was making sense, why wouldn't Kotetsu keep in contact. Even soldiers in the military where allowed calls home on a regular basis. Why wouldn't Kotetsu want to keep in contact with his family? If there was anything he knew about Kotetsu it was that the man valued his family and friends, sometimes to an annoying degree. So why? Had something happened to him and he was unable to contact them? Surely if he'd been injured in the field his family would have been alerted and he'd have been brought home to recover. Yet Maverick had assured him that Kotetsu was just fine and that nothing was amiss. Why would he lie? Why indeed?


At the next cross street, Barnaby made a u-turn and headed back for the city center and the Apollon Media headquarters. It wouldn't be too late to catch Maverick before he left for the day. The windshield wipers turned on automatically, rain pattering softly. The street lamps are flickering to life in the rapidly descending dusk and he has the disquieting feeling that he's too late for something. Tires skidding to a halt on wet pavement he bounded up the stairs, briefly flashing his badge at the guard who waved him on.


He spotted Agnes chatting with two uniformed men he'd never seen before and slowed to a walk. Agnes glanced his way flashing him a smile.


“What great timing Barnaby! I was just telling these gentlemen what an asset you are to our city and to Hero TV.”


Forcing a smile and extending his hand Barnaby tried not to sound hurried as he greeted the men. He turned to Agnes his smile only slightly more genuine. “Is Maverick still here? I needed to speak with him.”


“Yes, he and Lloyds were just going over this quarter's expense reports.”


“I see, thank you and it was nice to meet you gentlemen. Please excuse me.”


Agnes' voice carried clearly down the hall as he walked away. “He's done so much better since Tiger left. That idiot was such a distraction.”


He's most definitely a distraction, but he's no idiot. Shaking his head surprised at his own thoughts, he trotted down the hall. Coming to a stop outside Maverick's office he took a deep breath to calm himself and knocked. He didn't wait for an invitation before opening the door and stepping inside.


“Ah, Barnaby what a pleasant surprise. I wasn't expecting you.” Maverick smiled at him from his seat on the couch. Lloyd's pleasant grin as he shifted forward in the arm chair did nothing to disspell the unease tightening Barnaby's gut.


“I'd like to ask a favor sir.”


“Of course, anything for our star Hero.”


“I want to talk to Tiger.” Was it his imagination or did the temperature of the room seem to drop, Maverick's eyes narrowing behind the thick glasses, though the placating smile never waivered.


“Ah, missing your old partner?” Maverick lumbered to his feet and walked toward his desk. “Let me see where he's at currently. He's scheduled to return to Sternbild next week I believe, as long as things go well. I received a report from his supervisor just yesterday, actually.” He scrolled though several files and selected the one he was searching for. “Here it is. Yes it seems Wild Tiger is doing quite well.”


“Oh . . .” Barnaby suddenly felt at a loss. Had he been mislead? But why would Judge Petrov lie? What could it possibly benefit him?


“You are such a loyal friend Barnaby. Still worried for your former partner's well-being aren't you?”


Numb and unsure, Barnaby nodded slowly. “I'm sorry to have interrupted, I just . . . something I saw on the news concerned me and I just wanted to make sure he was alright.”


“Completely understandable, son. Other countries are dealing with a lot of anti-NEXT sentiment so your concern is justified, but don't worry Wild Tiger isn't in any danger.”


“Yes, sir thank you sir.” Somehow he wasn't quite mollified. The explanation had seemed too slick, too practiced. When did he start doubting the man who'd taken him in and practically raised him? Maybe it was when he realized that he could relate to other people besides Maverick. Closing the door softly behind him he looked down at the phone in his hand. Touching the icon on the screen a sad smile crossed his lips as he looked at the goofy picture Kotetsu had taken of himself all those months ago. The smile faded as the pain in his chest solidified into a full blown ache.


“I'll find you . . .”

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Great story! I just love the way you write and love Tiger and Bunny, of course :D

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please do more wow that is one hell of a story you got there

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This story is so great! looking forward for an update.


glad to read a fanfic about tiger&bunny~!

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