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the best part about me is you

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(Saitama could divide his life into three sections.
 
The first section was dull and boring; he was just a regular kid, trying to fit into a world that had no space for him. Like a square peg being forced into a round hole, Saitama chafed against everything; his parent’s expectations, his siblings’ snide derision at his uselessness, his classmates’ flighty whims. The only concrete thing he remembered about his childhood was his strong desire to become a superhero.
 
Looking back on it, Saitama knew that this dream was born out of his desire to escape his dull, boring life. There was no excitement there, no stimulation. The days were monotonous, and his attention wandered easily in the classrooms, which hurt his grades as a result. So whenever his teachers scolded him, whenever his parents frowned disapprovingly, whenever his classmates laughed at him--he imagined himself soaring into the sky, escaping from everything.
 
This period of his life continued on for more than twenty years. He passed middle school and high school (barely), then attended some low-level college to satisfy his parents wishes. And then, one day while job searching, Saitama met a giant crab creature and saved a little brat from getting killed.
 
Thus began the second section of his life.
 
This section started out far more exciting than his first one; he was training every day, straining himself to the brink to try and achieve his dream. For the first time in his life, he felt like he was doing something right, like he was finally making a space for himself. And he fought--oh, he fought. He felt lots of incredible emotions, like fear, exhilaration, triumph--and he had never been so alive. He had never belonged more than he did when he was bruising his knuckles on some asshole’s face, and winning.
 
And then one day he went bald, and it all went downhill from there.
 
There was no rush anymore, no fear, because he could destroy all his enemies with one punch. And what was the point of that? Where was the fun in that? Sure, he continued to fight because people needed saving, they always did, but there wasn’t anything in it for him. And soon the rest of his emotions faded too, and the world became just as dull and monotonous as when he was a kid, and he wondered if in pursuing his dream, he had lost some important part of his humanity. Sometimes.
 
And then a dumb kid wandered into his life, eyes bright with grief and rage.
 
And so began the third section of his life, the one he calls ‘Life after Genos.)
 
--
 
When the weird robot child had said that he wanted to be Saitama’s apprentice, Saitama hadn’t taken him seriously. Why would he? They had only just met, after all, and being as strong as Saitama wasn’t actually all that interesting. The kid would get over his delusion that infinite strength was a good thing and hopefully never talk to him again.  
 
Predictably, the kid showed up on his doorstep a week later, looking as good as new.
 
“Um,” Saitama said, furrowing his eyebrows at the blond-haired cyborg, looking for any evidence of the serious ass-kicking he’d gotten the week before. There was none, weirdly enough.
 
“Master!” The kid shouted directly in his face, looking for all the world as though he had no idea that anything was amiss. But there was definitely something amiss--this kid apparently knew where he lived! And had just shown up! Randomly!
 
Saitama shifted awkwardly, wondering if it would be too rude to slam the door in the cyborg’s face. But he looked so earnest with his big gold eyes and his spiky blond hair; it felt way too close to kicking a puppy. So he sighed a little and stepped back, figuring he could just humor the kid for a couple of minutes before chasing him off. “We can talk inside.” Then, belatedly, “And don’t call me Master.”
 
The kid...for lack of a better word brightened, and strode past Saitama into his shitty apartment with the confidence of one who was determined to get what he wanted. Saitama watched him tiredly, already knowing that this conversation was going to be hard on his short temper, and went to go make some tea.
 
The kid’s name was Genos. The kid also had no idea when to shut up.
 
“Cut it down to twenty words or less!” Saitama shouted at Genos, feeling not even remotely guilty about interrupting the guy’s unending monologue about his tragic past. Yes, it was very sad, but did he really need all the details? No, he did not. If Genos is actually going to be my apprentice, Saitama thought, rubbing his temples, then we’re going to need to have a discussion about--
 
Wait. Am I actually considering taking him on as my student?
 
Saitama glanced up at Genos, who was watching him with a contrite, somewhat wary look on his face. He was young, almost painfully so; the world was black and white to him, uncomplicated in a way Saitama had never known. If Saitama could mentor him a little, turn him away from violence and toward something more productive…
 
So what if he hadn’t had a real conversation with another human being in the past five years? He could definitely teach.
 
Yeah. Definitely.
 
-------------
 
The problem with most of Saitama’s decisions was that he never really thought them through as well as he should. Move out of his parent’s house and into a shitty apartment in a fit of teenage pique? Sounds great. Start training his ass off to become a super strong hero because actually working is boring? Well, sure, not like he’s got anything better to do.
 
Become the mentor to a super strong grieving cyborg child who’s hellbent on revenge for the death of his entire family? Despite the fact that Saitama was the most awkward human being on the planet and couldn’t actually teach? Good decision. Yeah, he was the master of ‘bright ideas'.
 
The first few times Genos had showed up at his house, ready for ‘training’, whatever he expected that to be, Saitama had protested. Because this was his apartment, right, his personal living space, where he went when he needed privacy. Which was like, all the time, really. So no, he did not want Genos randomly showing up on his doorstep, not even if he helpfully started doing the chores that Saitama neglected to do because he really did not care.
 
As the weeks passed, however, Saitama began looking forward to Genos’ visits, if only because they were a break in the endless monotony between villain attacks. The kid, while bright, was a bit dense and therefore fun to mess with. Though Saitama always filled him in on the joke eventually, just because the hesitant look of heartfelt confusion on Genos’ face never failed to make him feel guilty.
 
Three weeks into Genos being his ‘apprentice’, Saitama stopped giving him shit for coming over every day because it suddenly occurred to him that Genos was essentially homeless. The kid had lost his entire village to an evil cyborg, right? So where did he stay every night, if his home had been destroyed along with everything else he knew and loved?
 
At that thought, Saitama stopped telling Genos to go home in the evenings. Instead, he put out an extra futon, and didn’t say a word when Genos eyed him uncertainly, like he thought he knew what Saitama was silently suggesting but wasn’t quite sure about it. Upon encountering no resistance, Genos took the futon as an invitation to stay, and promptly moved in, bringing along with him all his belongings.
 
Genos had very few belongings. Saitama felt so bad for him that he bought him a new notebook to replace the old one, which was mostly full. Genos thanked him earnestly for it, Saitama told him not to worry about it, and things were predictably awkward. Business as usual.
 
----
 
“Master,” Genos said from somewhere behind him.
 
Saitama sighed loudly, but didn’t look up from his manga. “Don’t call me master, that makes me feel old.”
 
There was a pause, just for a second, before Genos said, more confidently this time, “Saitama-sensei--”
 
Saitama was never going to win. Genos had been playing this game for almost two weeks, replacing master with shishou with sensei. If he had any hair left, Saitama would’ve started pulling it out in frustration. But since he couldn’t do that, Saitama just slammed his manga shut and rolled over, so he could properly see his student. “Genos, what is it--”
 
Then he stopped dead, squinting.
 
Genos blinked back at him, innocently.
 
“Genos…” Saitama began slowly, tilting his head from side to side, as though changing the angle of vision would dispel the hallucination he was currently witnessing. Because certainly, this was a hallucination. “What are you wearing?”
 
It looked like he was wearing a frilly pink apron over his usual sleeveless muscle tank, but that was ridiculous. Clearly Saitama had finally gone round the bend--maybe the stress was getting to him?
 
Genos looked down at his clothes, appearing a little confused. He studied them for a moment...and then a proverbial light bulb appeared over his head. “Oh, this?” He hooked his fingers through one of the lacy sleeves looping over his shoulders. “I purchased this because I was concerned about getting dirt on my clothes as I was cleaning.”
 
Saitama pursed his lips as the minor issue of the apron slid to the more pressing issue of the cleaning. His apartment wasn’t...that terrible, certainly not bad enough that he needed an intervention. Sure his dishes piled up every once in awhile, and sure his clothes missed the hamper every now and then, but that was no reason for Genos to do anything.
 
Saitama tapped the table compulsively, then winced and stopped when he heard the wood creak ominously. “Genos,” He began carefully, because if he said what he wanted to in the tone of voice he wanted to, Genos would sit seiza and give him the kicked puppy dog look the rest of the evening. Not only was that annoying, but it made Saitama feel low-key extremely guilty. “You know you don’t have to clean anything, right?”
 
Genos frowned lightly, as though not understanding the question. “But...you’re my sensei. Also, I would feel bad if I did nothing to contribute.”
 
Vaguely uncomfortable--especially since he hadn’t taught Genos anything besides his training routine, which wouldn’t work on him anyway, since he was a cyborg--Saitama floundered for an argument. But he came up blank, because even though he’d told Genos that he was a hack, that he had nothing to teach, Genos didn’t believe him. Genos still took notes, looked up to him and followed him around faithfully, despite him being such a rotten mess.
 
Saitama felt...he felt….
 
“Do what you want, I guess.” Saitama muttered and rolled back onto his side, flipping open his manga.
 
Genos must have heard something much different, however, because he sounded far too happy when he said, “Yes, sensei!”
 
-----
 
Saitama was sprawled across the floor, surfing the channels for something interesting to watch.
 
Genos walked in, feet still smoking a little from his flight across town. He shook out his hair, sighed quietly, and sank onto the cushion next to the kotatsu.
 
Saitama shuffled aside a little, so they both had room to sit.
 
----
 
Genos was a pretty decent roommate, all things considered.
 
He didn’t sweat, so the only scent he gave off was oily and chemical, which was way better than gross body odor. He didn’t actually need to eat; just plug him into a wall, and he recharged relatively quickly, which saved food money (though he sometimes sampled Saitama’s meals, because food was delicious and he still had taste buds). Even though he was obsessively clean, he didn’t give Saitama any crap for being kind of a slob. In fact, every time Saitama made a mess and forgot about it, Genos dutifully cleaned it up; even seemed to take some pleasure in it, the weirdo.
 
But like any roommates, they had their issues.
 
Because sometimes Saitama got petty; because he was just a tiny bit sore about being a C class hero with a quota hanging over his head. Because sometimes Saitama got mean, and Genos was convenient and there, and sometimes Saitama wasn’t fast enough to save everyone and that made him hurt. It made him want others to hurt others too, which could leave Genos tight-lipped and cold and Saitama almost too guilty to bear.
 
Genos’ idiosyncrasies were luckily tame by comparison.
 
“Genos.” Saitama said, appalled. “Genos.” He shook his red t-shirt--well, his ex-t-shirt, now--in the cyborg’s face. Genos looked away sheepishly, his face pouting in such a manner that made him still look like an embarrassed child.
 
“I am sorry, sensei.” He said after a moment, contrite.
 
Saitama knew that Genos was earnest, knew that he meant his apology, but seriously. For such a smart guy, he could sure be a moron. “What the hell, Genos? Seriously, what the hell? If you wanted to borrow a shirt, you could’ve just asked!”
 
Genos looked up quickly, expression shifting through a kaleidoscope of emotions, most of which Saitama couldn’t place. He eventually settled on neutral, which was marginally better than angry or annoyed, Saitama supposed. “I didn’t think the sleeves would get ripped off.”
 
“Why were you even trying on my shirt?” Saitama muttered, unwrinkling the material so he could get a better look at the print on the front. All things considered, things weren’t as bad as they could have been--it was a shirt he hadn’t worn in a long time. The band logo was pretty faded, which was kind of cool, but other than that it wasn’t a huge deal. The only reason he was so annoyed was because Genos had been going through his stuff in the first place.
 
Genos muttered something Saitama couldn’t quite catch.
 
“What?” Saitama asked, setting his shirt--well, Genos’ shirt now, he supposed--aside.
 
“I thought I could discover what gave you your strength if I tried on your clothing.” Genos admitted, and if he could still blush, he would’ve been as red as a tomato by now. “I can see now that my reasoning was flawed, and--”
 
Saitama stopped him with the wave of his hand--that was enough, he understood enough, no more explanation necessary. He knew what Genos would say, anyway--it seemed like a good idea at the time, and I didn’t really think it through before executing my plan. More or less. That was Saitama’s life in a nutshell, anyway.
 
“Okay, listen up, Genos.” Saitama said, which caused the boy to straighten abruptly, so rigid that for anyone else other than a robot, it would’ve been painful. God, he hated that. But whatever, at least he knew Genos was paying attention. “You can use whatever you want of mine, but you have to tell me first, and if you break it you’ve got to replace it, okay?”
 
Genos just stared at him, eyes wide, as though he’d never heard anything so strange in all his life.
 
Saitama wondered the last time someone had honestly told him, ‘what’s mine is yours’.
 
He wondered the last time Genos had been close enough to someone for them to tell him that.

But that made him sad, so instead he just tossed the ruined red shirt at the cyborg and muttered a hasty, awkward excuse to leave.
 
(But it wasn’t really an excuse if it was true, right? He had a weekly quota to fill. No seriously, fuck the quota, fuck the Hero Association.)
 
(Two days later, Genos walked into the living room wearing the bright red shirt Saitama had given to him. Saitama felt weirdly proud.)
 
----
 
For the first time in a long time, Saitama felt a little guilty about being overwhelmingly more powerful than anything else on the planet.
 
Because Genos was strong; he was so strong, both his resolve and his attacks. He fought harder than half the people Saitama had ever met, and his reason to fight was as just as they came. And yet, he wasn’t nearly as strong as Saitama; he wasn’t fast or durable, got ripped apart by small fry like that stupid mosquito lady.
 
Really, Saitama had to wonder who had decided that he, bored and unmotivated as he was, should be the strongest man in the world. What reason did he have to fight, besides sating his boredom? Didn’t Genos deserve that title more, so he could defeat the people who had killed his family?
 
There was no sense dwelling on it; this was the way things were. Saitama was the strongest, and Genos was the hapless fool who thought he had something to learn from a walking disaster.
 
He didn’t seem to broken up about it after their short fight, however; in fact, he was eagerly slurping down udon like it was a professional sport. Saitama had expected some sort of mulishness, a quiet grudge that wasn’t obvious but gave all their interactions an uncomfortable edge. But Genos was acting like everything was normal, like Saitama being overwhelmingly more powerful than him was okay.
 
Slowly, bit by bit, Saitama relaxed.
 
----
 
After Saitama walked away from the Tank-Top Tiger Brothers--
 
After he left the screams and jeers of the mob behind him--
 
After he followed Genos home, feeling as though his lungs were caving in, empty and painful all at once--
 
He sat down at the kotatsu, momentarily unable to breathe, eyes wide and unseeing. He did not say a word, he did not make a sound; his face didn’t twitch from his usual, neutral expression. His outer appearance remained wholly unaffected, while his insides slowly dribbled from his being, creating a river of useless emotion on the ground.
 
Pull yourself together! He wanted to scream at himself, but the words got lost in the buzzing in his head.
 
He didn’t know how long he sat like that, staring at a knot in the wood of the kotatsu in front of him, unwilling (or unable?) to move. There was a constant drone between his ears, and his fingers tingled oddly, like he had jammed them into an electrical socket. He had no idea what was going on--if someone had attacked him at that moment, he wouldn’t have reacted.
 
Then, suddenly, he felt a gentle hand drop to his shoulder.
 
Saitama jumped a little, shocked out of his daze by the light touch. He looked up at--who else, Genos--who was staring at him with no small amount of concern, his big gold eyes as earnest as ever.
 
“Sensei…” He said quietly. Normally Saitama would’ve shaken him off, but. Today he felt too unsteady, like Genos was the only one anchoring him to the real world. Like if he let go, Saitama would tumble from the ground, gravity meaningless and ephemeral compared to the solid weight of Genos’ honest concern. “I’m sorry.”
 
And just like that, Saitama felt himself snap back into place. He still felt unsteady, and his hands shook as he waved Genos off, but he no longer felt so displaced from his own body. It took him a moment to formulate a response, and yet another to be able to deliver it in his usual casual tone, but eventually he managed, “What are you sorry for? Nothing happened.”
 
For some reason, Genos did not look reassured by that. Instead, he just appeared to be more frustrated, tightening his grip on Saitama’s shoulder. Saitama watched, fascinated, as Genos opened his mouth, closed it, seemingly fumbled with himself for a second--
 
And then he let go of Saitama’s shoulder (he almost rose to follow), but he didn’t go far; instead he knelt in front of his master, eyes furrowed with determination. And yet, this was the first time Saitama had ever seen that determination when he wasn’t fighting, or trying to learn. Genos took a deep breath, his fingers curling into his knees for a second before--
 
Saitama saw it coming from a mile away. He was sure Genos knew that, so if he wanted to, he could pull away. When Genos leaned in for the hug, however, Saitama remained still, let the two metal arms wrap around his back and pull him in close.
 
Slowly Saitama’s own arms came up, hesitantly curling in the back of Genos’ shirt, tentative because he hadn’t been hugged in--forever. He didn’t know when. The kid was warm, abnormally so; and Saitama didn’t think hugs were supposed to be this hard, this angled and rigid. Yet, Genos smelled like oil and electricity; like the cleaner he used for the counters. His spiky blond hair tickled the sides of Saitama’s head, comforting and familiar.
 
Saitama let out a soft sigh, jamming his nose into Genos’ shoulder. He let himself relax, boneless, into the hug, feeling the events of the morning become distant; like a bad dream.
 
When had oil and electricity, counter cleaner and spiky blond hair, become home?
 
-----
 
Saitama was sprawled across the floor, surfing the channels for something interesting to watch.
 
Genos walked in, feet still smoking a little from his flight across town. He shook out his hair, sighed quietly, and sank onto the cushion next to the kotatsu.
 
Saitama didn’t move at all, instead letting his elbow knock lightly into one of Genos’ knees. Neither of them seemed to notice.
 
----
 
Saitama wasn’t even entirely certain as to how they had gotten on the subject.
 
Genos had been interrogating him again about his powers--how he’d gotten them, what he’d been doing the day before he got them--and they had gotten a little off track. Because honestly, Saitama had to explain that he was flesh and blood and Genos was a freaking robot, he couldn’t improve his body the way Saitama had. He could add upgrades, and he could add more parts to him, like more high-tech weapons, but he couldn’t improve his strength or speed through training.
 
“...see Genos, that’s why it would make no difference if you did my training schedule!” Saitama finished, exasperated and totally done with the conversation. He had talked more today than he had in a really long time, and it was agitating him. He wanted about twenty feet more personal space and a couple hours to recharge his social battery.
 
Genos was quiet for a couple seconds, seemingly digesting his words, so Saitama figured that they were done. He was a smart kid, after all; to be honest, it shouldn’t have taken that long to convince him in the first place.
 
“Saitama-sensei…” Genos’ voice said quietly from somewhere behind him, and the tone of it made Saitama freeze. Genos usually sounded so self-assured, so focused and determined and at peace with his place in the world. This was the first time Saitama had heard Genos...shaky? Unsteady? “Am I...do you think I’m still human?”
 
Saitama’s immediate response was don’t be ridiculous, you’re the most human person I know.
 
But when he turned to look at Genos, hunched over the kotatsu, eyes hidden behind his bangs--this was the first time Saitama had ever seen him look so small. And as he watched Genos curl into himself, Saitama realized that if he said that, dismissive and callous with no other explanation, it wouldn’t be enough. This was obviously something that had been gnawing at the kid for a long time, the worry that because he was now mostly a cyborg, he was no longer entirely human. He needed something more than Saitama’s half-baked bullshit.
 
Saitama walked over and let himself flop onto the cushion next to Genos’, stretching his legs out comfortably beneath the kotatsu. Genos watched the movement dully, obviously not expecting for Saitama to have a legitimate response. O ye of so little faith.
 
“When you lived in that village,” Saitama began, startling Genos and making him lift his head fully. “Did you feel fear? Did you get sad?”
 
“I--” Genos said, furrowing his eyebrows in confusion. “Of course I did.”
 
“And now,” Saitama continued, tapping his fist lightly against the left side of Genos’ chest, where his heart should be. “Do you ever feel fear? Do you still get sad?”
 
The confusion morphed slowly into thoughtfulness, the irises of his bright gold eyes whirling mechanically as Genos thought. Saitama was content to let him consider this, leaning his head back and staring at the ceiling as he waited.
 
He was brought back to reality when Genos said, “I was sad when those people were unjustly cruel to you.”
 
He had...not expected that response.
 
….whatever.
 
“Well, there you go.” Saitama said, still struggling to get past what Genos had just said, but determined to ignore it, for now. “And you still feel happy, or proud?”
 
“Yes!” Genos said, more enthusiastic now.
 
Saitama smiled. “Being human isn’t about what you’re made of. It’s about what’s up here,” He tapped his head, “And in here.” He gently knocked his knuckles against Genos’ chest again. “If you experience empathy and emotion, if you have dreams and desires...well, that’s unique to humans only.” Saitama pulled back, and for once didn’t feel so uncomfortable about the way Genos’ eyes were shining at him, staring at him as though he had all the answers.
 
He understood Genos far too well, after all.
 
So now he felt comfortable saying, “You have nothing to worry about, Genos. You are the most human person I have ever met.”
 
----
 
 
Genos came back two weeks after his encounter with the Sea King looking as good as new.
 
During that time, Saitama had never been so stressed out in his life, not even when college finals had been swift approaching and he hadn’t remembered a goddamn thing. Genos’ injuries had been way more serious than normal, Saitama knew that, so he hadn’t known for certain whether or not Genos would even survive the encounter. He had worried, constantly.
 
Well, he had worried up until the moment Genos appeared on his doorstep, eyes still too bright, too earnest. The boy was wearing a shirt Saitama had never seen before, probably because his old one had been destroyed in the fight, but he appeared otherwise unchanged.
 
The little knot of anxiety that had been pulsing in Saitama’s chest like a primed bomb unraveled slightly, though it didn’t fully dissipate until he reached out and gently ruffled Genos’ unruly hair. The boy frowned a little bit and batted Saitama’s hand away, but didn’t say a word of admonishment against the gesture.
 
“Sensei, I have returned.” Genos said in that too-serious voice of his.
 
“Well yeah, I can see that.” Saitama responded, mostly satisfied with the visual once-over. He stood aside, to let Genos into the house, feeling somehow more relaxed than he had all week. “You’re okay, though? No...complications?”
 
Genos waved his hand a little, as though shooing the question away like an annoying fly. “No, I am fine. Doctor Hakase warned me to be more careful, however.”
 
Saitama definitely agreed with that sentiment--Genos got hurt far too easily. He had such a young attitude, letting his guard down and thinking he was some immortal being who never got injured. It was going to get him killed one day--he was less durable than he thought he was. Saitama wasn’t sure what he’d do without the kid, at this point. Before Genos had moved in, Saitama couldn’t have imagined having a roommate, but now he couldn’t imagine a life without one.
 
“He’s right, you know?” Saitama admonished as Genos strode past him into the apartment, apparently not listening. “You could get yourself killed if you’re that reckless all the time.”
 
Genos turned to look at Saitama, his brows furrowed in an expression of mild surprise, like Saitama being concerned for his health was something worth noting. He hesitated for a second, then said quietly, “Sensei...were you worried about me?”
 
“What kind of a dumbass question is that?” Saitama demanded, resisting the urge to slap the kid over the head. Of course he was worried, Genos had been essentially beaten half to death, and then got partially dissolved by acid to boot. Not only did that sound physically painful, it also sounded mentally traumatic. “You almost died! Of course I was worried!”
 
Genos blinked at him owlishly, but didn’t respond, though his hands hovered uncertainly over his thighs. His fingers twitched minutely, wiggled a little, before settling back down at his sides. Saitama watched the movement in silent, detached fascination, wondering what was going through the kid’s mind.
 
“As you can see,” Genos said quietly, tucking his fingers under the hem of his tank top, “I’m perfectly alright.”
 
That isn’t the point, Saitama wanted to say, wanted to scream at Genos. The point is that you’re going to destroy yourself one day, and you don’t even seem to care. The point is that you’re the closest friend I’ve ever had, and I think I might cry if you died.
 
So please, please…
 
Oh, fuck it.
 
Saitama strode forward and before Genos could react or protest, gathered the kid up in his arms and gave him a good, solid hug. It didn’t matter that Saitama wasn’t tactile in the slightest, or that hugging Genos was about as comfortable as hugging a mini refrigerator. What matter was that Saitama had been worried, dammit, and right now the only thing that was going to reassure him of Genos’ good health was the solid weight of him, surprised but whole.
 
The more he thought about it--
 
The more he remembered--
 
The skeletal frame of Genos, half-devoured by the acid, lying in a tangled heap on the ground--
 
Bright red muscle peaking out from behind the ruined skin, more of Genos’ humanity lost in the battle--
 
“The monster even took out an S-Class hero!”
 
“You’re not invincible, dumbass.” Saitama said fiercely into Genos’ shoulder, ignoring the cyborg’s unreadable silence. If the kid was going to get hurt this often, he could put up with Saitama’s anxious worrying. “Stop being so reckless!”
 
There was a brief pause. Saitama still couldn’t read the atmosphere, didn’t know Genos’ opinion of this impromptu hug. For a second he worried that he had overstepped, and that Genos was just about to yell at him for being weird.
 
But then, oh-so-slowly, Saitama felt Genos’ arms curl up around his shoulders, a little hesitant. He dropped his head, letting his bangs brush against Saitama’s neck, and sighed so deeply that his entire body seemed to droop. Saitama hadn’t even realized that Genos had been this tense until the kid all but melted against him.
 
It was then that Saitama realized why Genos’ hands had been hovering so strangely.
 
“I’m sorry I worried you, sensei.” His voice was muffled a little against Saitama’s sweatshirt.
 
“Yeah, well.” Saitama said dismissively, though he didn’t let go of his apprentice. Genos seemed far too unsteady, like if Saitama let go he’d just drop to the ground. “Don’t do it again.”
 
-----
 
After the battle against Lord Boros, in which Saitama saved the world (yet again), Genos sat in front of his teacher and said, very seriously, “We need a new TV.”
 
Saitama blinked in surprise at the cyborg, momentarily surprised by the impromptu statement. But then he glanced at his old one--the tiny one with shitty reception, the only one he’d been able to afford when he’d first become a hero--and remembered that he had just saved the world. Again. That had gotten the both of them a significant bonus.
 
So he said, “Yeah, sure, okay.”
 
Compared to the old TV, the new TV was fantastic. More than that, it was actually probably the nicest thing in their apartment at the moment, beating both the refrigerator (which randomly stopped working at least once a week) and the washing machine (which periodically shrieked in a terrifying way that made it sound possessed).
 
Saitama had allowed the purchase on the sole condition that he have nothing to do with both the buying process and the setup. It made him feel a little bad that Genos was doing all the work, but he was also extremely relieved, since detangling all those wires looked like another headache he didn’t actually want or need. Honestly, Saitama had no patience for such things--more than likely he would’ve just torn all the wires apart and called it a day.
 
But now that they had their new TV…
 
“What do you want to watch first, sensei?” Genos asked him as Saitama flipped through the channels, marveling at the quality of the graphics on the new screen. Even the anime looked superb, the colors vibrant and flashy where they’d been dull and drab before.
 
“Huh?” Saitama asked absently, before the question registered. “Oh, yeah. Um. Why don’t you just pick something?” He waved his hand at his bookshelf, half of which was dedicated to movies, though he had hardly ever watched them because his TV had been terrible.
 
Genos, because he was still a teenage boy and was therefore predictable, went straight for Saitama’s collection of Western superhero movies. He bypassed Batman and Superman, pursed his lips at IronMan...and then his fingers paused over the original Captain America.
 
“I want to watch this.” He said firmly, pulling the DVD from the shelf.
 
There were worse choices, Saitama supposed.
 
As Genos set up the movie, Saitama decided to make a bowl of popcorn, because no movie was complete without popcorn. He drizzled the fluffy white kernels lightly with butter, and was just adding some salt when Genos called him back into the living room. Before he left the kitchen, though, he checked the fridge for some coke--but as he hadn’t been expecting this movie night, he was therefore unprepared. Sighing in defeat, Saitama thought, next time.
 
Genos was already sprawled out on the floor under a thick blanket, lying on top of several more, which were spread over the tatami. When he noticed that Saitama had entered the room he lifted one corner of his blanket, a silent invitation to join him. Saitama grinned, set the popcorn bowl in front of them, and slid next to Genos, squishing up to the kid so he got the full effect of the comfortable, artificial heat he gave off.
 
For the first half of the movie, the two of them were mostly alert; Saitama periodically threw popcorn kernels at the screen, while Genos asked poignant, curious questions about the historical period, which Saitama had no answer to. But they were both warm and comfortable, and felt safe with where they were. Covered in blankets, the soft light of the movie casting shadows over their exhausted faces, the duo began to lose steam.
 
Several hours later, the TV screen dark and the house quiet, Saitama woke. Genos was half sprawled on him, and the only sound was the mechanic whirring of Genos’ systems.
 
Still half-asleep, Saitama smiled down at his friend, and reached over so he could pull the blanket up and over their shoulders. And then he closed his eyes, and went back to sleep.