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Prince Charming and the Ugly Duckling

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Hizashi is going to tell him.

After two years of awkwardly sort-of-crushing on Aizawa Shōta, Yamada Hizashi is going to ask him out.

As Hizashi walks through UA High School’s front gate, he braces himself. It’s the beginning of their last year of high school, and he doesn’t know if he and Shōta will even end up at hero agencies in the same city, so if he’s going to confess, he has to do it now. Heroes are supposed to be brave, after all, and he can’t be a coward and let this chance pass him by.

“Hey, Shōta, do you maybe wanna try going out with me?” Hizashi mutters under his breath as he walks towards the new classroom. “You know, because we’re good friends, you’re pretty cute, I’m pretty cute, all that jazz.”

Thankfully he’s early enough that there aren’t many people around yet, except for some of the more anxious first years. They’re too worked up about their first day of classes at UA to really notice Hizashi muttering to himself, though, and the few who do notice him mainly just look at him with wide eyes. He was the runner up for the second years’ sports festival last year, after all.

“And I’m cool and athletic!” Hizashi mutters to himself, mentally adding it to his list of ‘Why you, Aizawa Shōta, should try dating me.’ “And you’re cool and athletic! We can be cool and athletic together!”

Hizashi finally cuts himself off as he gets to the classroom door.

He already knows that he and Shōta are in the same class again this year (three for three!) and he’d texted Shōta to meet him before school this morning, but he’d never actually gotten a reply. There’s a fifty-fifty chance Shōta’s waiting for him behind this door, and Hizashi takes a deep breath before pushing it open.

As Hizashi enters the classroom, his eyes immediately zero in on a familiar head of dark, messy hair.

A grins spreads over Hizashi’s face as he makes his way over to Shōta, who’s slumped over one of the desks, his head resting on top of his arms and his face hidden. Although they texted each other over break, Hizashi hasn’t seen Shōta at all over the past two weeks and Hizashi practically bounds over to Shōta, eager to see his face again.

“Shōtaaaa!” Hizashi announces, maybe a little too loudly. “Good moooorning!”

“It was until you started yelling,” Shōta grumbles, but there’s no real bite to his tone. Hizashi has a retort on the tip of his tongue, but then Shōta pushes himself up into a sitting position, stretching languidly and brushing his bangs out of his face.

Hizashi stares.

For a moment, he wonders if he’s talking to the wrong person – someone other than Shōta. Hizashi can’t think of who else would be sleeping in the classroom, though, and his hair looks about right, along with his general personality and posture.

“Hizashi?” Shōta asks, and Hizashi realizes he’s gawking.

Last term, Shōta had taken to speaking even less than usual due to how much his voice kept breaking, jolting back and forth between high and low pitches, but now when he talks, Shōta’s voice comes out as a smooth, low baritone.

“Shōta!” Hizashi squawks, his cheeks heating. “Wow, you, uh. Changed. A bit. I think.”

“Oh,” Shōta replies, blinking at Hizashi, a look of mild surprise on his face. “Yeah, I think I grew a few centimeters. I’m probably about as tall as you now.”

That’s not what I meant, Hizashi thinks, but doesn’t say aloud.

Hizashi knows that growth spurts can happen quickly, but he didn’t think that two weeks were enough for an entire Cinderella-worthy transformation. Shōta’s always had a bit of a childish face, pudgy with baby fat, but there’s no trace of his cute little cheeks anymore. Instead, his entire face has slimmed down, his jawline sharp and prominent, no longer swallowed up by the round curve of his cheeks.

The patchy stubble that had started cropping up on his chin has evened out a little too. It’s still far from well maintained, but at least now it no longer looks like Shōta had tried to shave off some spots but not others. It adds to the more adult look of his face, and he no longer seems quite so much like an awkward fourteen year old, but closer to the seventeen year old he actually is.

Of course, Shōta’s face isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Hizashi swallows thickly as he notices how tightly Shōta’s blazer is stretched across his shoulders, much broader looking than they were at this time last year. Honestly, that jacket can’t be comfortable. Shōta definitely needs a size larger, maybe two.

And whereas Shōta’s shoulders had been too narrow, Shōta’s hands had always been a little too big. Watching him try to coordinate was a little like watching a puppy try to walk with its oversized paws, but with Shōta’s new growth spurt, they seem to fit the rest of Shōta’s body.

So Hizashi can’t help but stare.

He’s always been a little attracted to Shōta, but it was in more of a, “He’s kinda cute and I wouldn’t mind kissing him,” sort of way.

Right now, Hizashi’s thoughts aren’t quite so innocent.

“Hizashi?” Shōta says, finally bringing Hizashi back down to earth.

“Yes!” Hizashi squeaks, hoping that Shōta doesn’t think much of his staring.

“Are you alright?” Shōta asks, a frown marring his face and his forehead creasing in concern. “You texted me saying there was something you wanted to talk to me about this morning.”

“Uh,” Hizashi replies awkwardly.

There’s no way he can ask Shōta out now. Hizashi had been planning on spinning this as a, ‘We’re best friends! Let’s have a cute high school romance!’ sort of thing, but Shōta no longer looks like ‘cute high school romance’ material. God, what if he spent his entire break having flings with super attractive people, due to his newfound hotness?!

“Seriously, what’s wrong?” Shōta presses, standing up to move a little closer to Hizashi. “Are you sick or something?”

“No!” Hizashi says quickly, automatically taking a step back, away from Shōta. “No, I’m fine.”

“Then what did you want to talk to me about?” Shōta asks. He looks at Hizashi intently as he waits for Hizashi to answer, and idly Hizashi’s grateful that at least Shōta’s eyes are as sleepy and bloodshot as usual.

“Oh, I uh,” Hizashi starts, scrambling for an answers. “I just wanted to see how you were doing! You know, find out what you were up to over break and stuff. I mean, I haven’t seen you in a whole two weeks, so...”

“You already know what I did,” Shōta snorts. “My dad has a photoshoot in Guam for a travel magazine and let me tag along.”

Hizashi supposes that Shōta’s skin tone does look a little darker than usual, but it’s mostly overshadowed by the rest of his… transformation.

“Yeah, but you didn’t send me any photos or anything,” Hizashi whines. “You did take photos, right? I mean, your dad’s a photographer, so he probably made you take all sorts of photos.”

“You’re right, my dad photographed everything,” Shōta snorts, leaning back against his desk. “I don’t have any on my phone, though.”

“I can’t believe you went on a vacation to Guam and you didn’t even take any photos,” Hizashi sighs. “If it were me, I’d have taken so many. Maybe next time I can get your dad to take me instead, so I can actually have fun instead of just hanging around here and doing chores.”

“I know for a fact that you spent half of your time playing arcade games with Tensei,” Shōta says dryly, giving Hizashi a flat look.

“Okay, but arcade games versus Guam,” Hizashi whines, a little of his anxiety dissipating the more he talks with Shōta. Shōta’s the same person he always was, just hotter.

“Actually, I might have one photo of me at the beach,” Shōta says, digging his phone out of his pocket and scrolling through it. “My dad took it.”

He hands the phone over to Hizashi, and Hizashi suddenly regrets asking for photos of Shōta in Guam. He swallows thickly as he stares at the high definition photo, eyes glued to Shōta napping on a beach towel in nothing but swim trunks.

He’s so screwed.

---

“Holy shit, is that Shōta?”

Tensei’s eyes are wide as he looks across the classroom and Hizashi groans, slumping down on his desk. Unfortunately – or maybe thankfully – Hizashi’s desk is on the opposite side of the classroom from Shōta’s this year, so Shōta’s well out of hearing range.

“I know, right?” Hizashi grumbles, his voice a little muffled with his face pressed against the table. “It shouldn’t be physically possible to get that hot in only two weeks. Does he have, like, a secondary quirk or something? Magical hotness gaining abilities?”

“Well, he’s not that hot,” Tensei says, although he doesn’t sound like he entirely believes himself. “It just seems drastic because he looked like a fourteen year old before.”

“I saw a photo of him shirtless on a beach,” Hizashi groans. “He really is that hot now.”

“That’s just because you already had a crush on him,” Tensei snorts, and Hizashi lifts his head up off his desk to shoot Tensei a flat look. “By the way, how’d it go?”

“How’d what go?” Hizashi asks, the corners of his lips turning down in a slight frown.

“You were going to ask him out, right?” Tensei says, and Hizashi lets out another strangled sound before plopping his face back down on his desk.

“I can’t do it anymore. It’s impossible,” Hizashi whines. “He probably had people throwing themselves at him all the time during break and I was completely banking on his standards being so low that he’d agree to date me.”

“Oh, come on,” Tensei replies, leaning against Hizashi’s desk. “If people have to lower their standards to date you, it’s because of your personality, not your looks, and Shōta’s already gotten used to your personality.”

“You’re so mean to me,” Hizashi complains, shifting his head slightly to look up at Tensei with his bright green puppy-dog eyes. “Also, my attractiveness is based on my boyish charm. I’m cute. Shōta look like someone you’d want to ravish on fancy silk sheets.”

“I did not need that sort of insight into your mind,” Tensei says, grimacing slightly. “Seriously, though, you’re blowing this out of proportion. He’s not that – ”

“Holy shit, is that Aizawa?” Saotome asks, slamming her hands down on Hizashi’s desk and making him jump. “Talk about a glow up.”

“See?” Hizashi says to Tensei, giving him a flat look.

“Hey, Yamada, if you convince Aizawa to come to karaoke with me, I’ll give you ¥1000,” Saotome says. “Also if you happen to not show up, I’ll give you another ¥1000.”

“I’m not pimping him out!” Hizashi sputters, his cheeks turning a little red.

“Pity,” Saotome sighs, her eyes still fixed on Shōta. “Looks like I’ll have to do things the old fashioned way, then.”

With that, she yanks off her tie and then undoes the top few buttons on her shirt, revealing far more skin than is probably allowed by the school dress code. Then, she makes her way across the classroom towards Shōta.

Hizashi watches on in horror. He’s never had any competition for Shōta’s attention before, because most people are so off-put by his standoffish personality that they don’t bother with him. Hizashi had been a little worried about Kayama when she’d first started hanging around with Shōta, but in the end she hadn’t shown any clear romantic or sexual interest in Shōta, and she just graduated anyway. But now…

Hizashi looks down and pats at his chest awkwardly. How’s he supposed to compete with people like Saotome? Start prancing around shirtless, displaying his skinny little chest? Corner Shōta against a wall and gaze deeply into his eyes, hoping that Shōta doesn’t punch him in the face on reflex? (Well, or on purpose. They’re probably equally likely.)

“Wow, that’s…” Tensei says awkwardly, watching on as Saotome flirts shamelessly with a very confused looking Shōta. “You better ask him out soon before other people start trying to sink their claws in.”

“It’s useless,” Hizashi groans. “It’s already too late. Why would he agree to go on some lame date with me when he has people like Saotome trying to have sex with him in a karaoke booth?”

“Again, not a mental image I needed,” Tensei snorts. “But come on, being his friend has got to be an advantage, right? He’s pretty prickly to people he doesn’t know well.”

“Fuck, I’m his friend,” Hizashi mutters, slumping over on his desk again. “What if he expects me to be his wingman or something? What if he wants me to be the best man at his wedding? How am I supposed to deal with that?”

“I think you’re getting ahead of yourself,” Tensei replies, a look of mild concern on his face. “I’m pretty sure Shōta’s not going to get married anytime soon.”

“No, that’s how long I’m going to pine,” Hizashi grumbles. “I’m going to be thirty and still regretting not asking Shōta out before he got hot.”

“Well, if you think you’re going to regret it for that long, then you should go ahead and ask him out now,” Tensei says, and while the logical part of Hizashi knows he’s right, the emotional side of him disagrees. “That way if he rejects you, you can move on.”

“So you think he’s going to reject me,” Hizashi mumbles.

“You know that’s not how I meant it,” Tensei replies flatly.

For a moment, Hizashi’s quiet, but then he says, “I’ll think about it. But when he rejects me, you’re going to have to buy me tissues and chocolate to console me.”

“If he rejects you,” Tensei corrects him. “Not when.”

Hizashi looks over at Saotome, who’s practically shoved her chest in Shōta’s face at this point. Shōta hasn’t tried to call for help yet, though, so Hizashi doesn’t try to intervene.

Shōta’s definitely going to reject him.

---

Hizashi spends the entire school day moping.

Every single person in their class – along with some people outside of their class – seems to have taken an interest in Shōta’s newfound transformation. Hizashi even catches Taguchi staring, and Taguchi’s hated Shōta’s guts since the sports festival their first year.

It looks like Hizashi’s chances are dwindling with every passing moment.

“Hizashi.”

Hizashi pauses in the middle of packing away his notebooks in his backpack, and looks up to find Shōta standing by his desk, shoulders slouched and hands shoved in his pockets. Even his terrible posture can’t quite hide the newfound broadness of his chest, though, and Hizashi finds himself staring for a moment.

“Yeah?” Hizashi finally manages to ask as he remembers he’s supposed to respond.

“Do you want to,” Shōta says haltingly, “go to the arcade or something?”

For a moment, Hizashi just blinks at him.

“You don’t have anything else to do?” Hizashi asks, trying not to think about Saotome draping herself all over Shōta earlier.

“Not really,” Shōta mutters. “If you don’t want to, you don’t have to – ”

“No!” Hizashi blurts out, bolting up into a standing position, startling Shōta slightly. “No, I can definitely hang out with you. I just wasn’t sure if – ” Hizashi cuts himself off. “You know what, never mind. Let’s go!”

It’s rare for Shōta to ask if they can hang out. Normally Hizashi’s the one who’s always pestering Shōta about going to the arcade or studying together or whatever, although Hizashi supposes he usually tells Shōta in advance if he won’t be able to hang out, so normally there’s no reason for Shōta to ask if they can hang out. It occurs to Hizashi that, unintentionally, he’s been avoiding Shōta today.

He better pull himself together before Shōta starts figuring out why.

The walk to the arcade seems longer than usual. Shōta loosens his tie as soon as they’re past the school gates, and while Hizashi knows it’s something he’s always done, this time Hizashi finds his eyes straying to the exposed sliver of Shōta’s throat far more often than normal.

“Hizashi?”

“What?” Hizashi sputters as he’s brought back down to earth by Shōta’s voice.

“I asked you if you finally beat Tensei’s high score on Street Fighter over break,” Shōta says, but his forehead creases with concern as he studies Hizashi closely.

“Ha, no way,” Hizashi snorts, trying to keep his voice steady. He tries to focus on the conversation instead of getting distracted by how cute Shōta looks when he’s worried, but it’s… difficult. “I’m pretty sure if I spent the rest of my life playing only Street Fighter I still wouldn’t beat him. He still can’t complete DDR songs on Trick level, though, so it wasn’t any fun trying to play without you around.”

“Well, I’ll make sure to kick your ass today,” Shōta drawls, shooting Hizashi a smirk.

Normally Shōta’s smirk is kind of cute and it usually fires up Hizashi’s competitive spirit, but today it makes his legs feel weak, and he has to bite his lip to keep from saying something embarrassing like, Please kick my ass.

Thankfully they arrive at the arcade before he can say anything self-incriminating, though.

“DDR first?” Hizashi asks. He hopes that dancing around for a while will help keep his mind off of Shōta.

“Sure,” Shōta replies, and starts heading over to the DDR consoles. His pace is brisk and Hizashi has to scramble to keep up.

Hizashi deposits his bag on the floor and then hops up onto the dance platform on the right, taking a moment to stretch. His legs are still a little sore from the strength exercises they did in hero training earlier, but hopefully it won’t affect his performance too much. And anyway, as much as he enjoys gloating about his win streak, the most important part of this has always been having fun with Shōta.

“Can we warm up with an easier song?” Hizashi asks as he inserts a few coins into the console and scrolls through the song menu.

“You need a warmup to beat me?” Shōta replies, quirking an eyebrow at Hizashi, a smile tugging at the corners of his lips.

“Actually, the warmup is for your sake,” Hizashi huffs, but his tone is teasing. “It’s been a while since you last played, but I’ve been training for the past two weeks straight. We wouldn’t want me to crush you too badly.”

“I thought you said you couldn’t play because Tensei sucks at DDR,” Shōta snorts, but he doesn’t protest when Hizashi selects a lower level song.

“I played on my own a bit,” Hizashi replies, shrugging.

“I bet this place was packed, then,” Shōta says, and Hizashi blinks at him for a moment, confused.

“What do you mean?” Hizashi asks, but he focuses his eyes back on the console screen as the song starts.

“People always stop to gawk at you when you do songs on Trick and Maniac level,” Shōta mutters. “I’m surprised you don’t have a fan club or something yet.”

“Oh,” Hizashi says, his lips turning down in a slight frown as he thinks. “Yeah, I guess sometimes people watch for a little bit. I bet people would stop to watch you too if you ever played on your own, though.”

Especially considering how you look now, Hizashi adds mentally but doesn’t say aloud.

Shōta lets out a little snort of disbelief, but doesn’t protest verbally.

Both of them finish the first song without missing a step, so Shōta must not be that rusty, even after not playing for a couple of weeks. As Hizashi starts scrolling through the songs to find a good one for a harder difficulty level, though, out of the corner of his eye, he sees Shōta start to tug on his tie again. However, this time instead of just loosening it, Shōta tugs it all the way off.

Hizashi finds himself staring, song selection forgotten, as Shōta then proceeds to unbutton his jacket and tug it off. Even though it’s not all that warm out, Shōta’s wearing the short sleeved version of the uniform shirt and Hizashi swallows thickly as his eyes track the flex of Shōta’s arms. Shōta’s always been fit from hero training – even more so that most UA students, considering his quirk – but his muscle mass never seemed to quite fit with the rest of his awkward body.

Now it really does. Hizashi feels a little dazed.

“Hizashi?” Shōta says, dragging Hizashi back out of his thoughts.

“Yes!” Hizashi yelps, stiffening as he realizes he’s been caught staring.

“Are you feeling alright?” Shōta asks, his lips turning down a slight frown as he looks at Hizashi. “You’ve been zoning out a lot today.”

“I’m fine! Really, I’m fine,” Hizashi says quickly. “I guess I’m just having a hard time adjusting to being back at school, you know? I’m still in vacation mode.”

Shōta doesn’t look entirely convinced, but thankfully he doesn’t make any further protests.

“C’mon, I’m sure DDR will help wake me up,” Hizashi continues, turning his eyes back to the song selection screen. “You ready to get your ass kicked again?”

“Are you?” Shōta snorts.

“You wish,” Hizashi replies.

---

Hizashi wishes he could say that day two with suddenly-turned-hot Shōta goes better than day one, but it really doesn’t.

A few people who weren’t quite bold enough to try talking to Shōta the day before try to strike up conversation with him, but thankfully Shōta doesn’t really pay them much heed. In fact, if anything Shōta seems wary of his newfound popularity, and maybe it’s just Hizashi’s imagination, but Shōta almost seems to be using him as a buffer, as if hanging around Hizashi enough will make the others less likely to approach him.

Still, that doesn’t deter everyone, and Hizashi can’t help but cringe at some of the excruciatingly obvious flirtations that Shōta receives throughout the day. It makes Hizashi a little annoyed, actually, that suddenly so many people are all over Shōta when they barely gave him a second glance before.

I liked him first! Hizashi wants to yell. Honestly, he almost wishes that Shōta hadn’t gotten hot and had just stayed his cute, somewhat scruffy, standoffish best friend instead. Then maybe he’d still have a chance.

“Hizashi.”

“Hm?” Hizashi replies, dragging himself out of his thoughts.

They’ve skipped the arcade today and are instead hanging out at a nearby café. Shōta’s notebooks are spread all over the table, and Hizashi been trying to explain the new grammar they learned in English class, but apparently he’s zoned out again. It’s hard to concentrate when Shōta’s working his way through a slice of fluffy strawberry cake, and Hizashi swallows thickly as Shōta idly licks frosting off his fork.

“Everyone’s been acting weird lately,” Shōta grumbles, picking at his cake. “I don’t get it.”

“You don’t… get it,” Hizashi repeats slowly. He can’t help but stare as Shōta brushes a few strands of hair out of his face.

“Do you know why everyone’s suddenly talking to me?” Shōta asks, his forehead creasing slightly as he looks across the table at Hizashi. “I’ve been trying to get them to leave me alone like usual, but it hasn’t been working.”

“Ah, well,” Hizashi says awkwardly, fidgeting in his seat. “It’s because your appearance kind of changed over break, you know?”

“I only grew about three centimeters,” Shōta replies, frowning. “It’s not like I’m suddenly the tallest person in the class or something.”

“By ‘appearance’ I don’t really mean your height,” Hizashi mumbles, and now it’s his turn to pick at his food. The chocolate frosting looked a lot more appetizing before he started mashing it into the cake with his fork.

“What do you mean, then?” Shōta asks. He looks genuinely confused, and Hizashi almost feels bad for him.

“You know, like,” Hizashi fumbles with his words, gesturing awkwardly at Shōta, “your attractiveness and stuff. I mean, I’m not saying that you weren’t attractive before! But now it’s like – bam! Caterpillar to butterfly!”

“You think caterpillars are attractive?” Shōta snorts, arching an eyebrow at Hizashi.

“That’s – ” Hizashi sputters, his cheeks turning a little pink. “My analogy isn’t perfect, okay? I’m just saying that, you know, a lot more than your height changed over break. Congrats on getting hot, I guess?”

Shōta mulls over Hizashi’s words for a while. Meanwhile, Hizashi keeps his eyes trained on his cake and hopes that he didn’t say too much. Honestly, he doesn’t understand how Shōta hadn’t noticed on his own. It’s not like the change was exactly subtle or anything, and people have been flirting with Shōta practically nonstop, saying cringe-worthy things like, “Hey hot stuff,” and “We should have some fun sometime.”

(Which, okay, it’s mainly Saotome saying those lines while the rest of the class is less direct, but still.)

“You think I’m hot?” Shōta finally says, dragging Hizashi out of his thoughts.

“What? No! I mean – ” Hizashi flounders for the right words and his skin prickles as he feels Shōta’s heavy gaze on him. “Objectively, you’re attractive, I guess.”

Hizashi’s heartrate increases as he lies through his teeth. There’s absolutely nothing objective about it.

“Objectively, huh?” Shōta mutters, almost too quietly for Hizashi to hear.

For a moment, neither of them say anything. Hizashi shoves a forkful of cake into his mouth and desperately tries to think of some way to change the direction of the conversation before he sticks his foot further into his mouth.

“So when Saotome asked me to go to karaoke with her, she didn’t actually mean karaoke,” Shōta says, and Hizashi cringes a little.

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure she’s just looking for someone else to mess around with after that upperclassman that she was interested in graduated,” Hizashi replies. “Not that there’s anything wrong with fooling around with people or whatever. She’s pretty experienced, so – ”

“You’ve fooled around with her?” Shōta interrupts, and Hizashi blinks at him for a moment. Shōta’s jaw is clenched and Hizashi frowns, trying to interpret Shōta’s expression.

“No, I’ve just heard things through the grapevine,” Hizashi replies, propping his elbow up on the table and resting his cheek on his hand. “I’m pretty sure I’m not her type anyway.”

“You’re attractive, though,” Shōta says, catching Hizashi off guard.

For a moment, Hizashi just stares at him. Shōta doesn’t seem to see anything wrong with what he just said, though, sticking another forkful of cake into his mouth nonchalantly.

Objectively attractive. Right.

“I mean, I’m more of the ‘cute, boyish’ type, you know?” Hizashi says with an awkward laugh. “She’s more into, uh. Sexy?”

“I’m sexy?” Shōta asks, making Hizashi swallow thickly. Hizashi doesn’t know if it’s just his imagination, but it seems like Shōta’s leaning farther over the table now, a little more in Hizashi’s personal space.

“Maybe sexy isn’t the right word,” Hizashi says quickly, as he carefully avoids Shōta’s eyes. “I mean, it’s not like you suddenly look like a 20-something year old movie star, but you look… less young? Than before? I don’t know what I’m saying, please stop asking me questions.”

Shōta lets out a soft, vaguely amused snort, and Hizashi feels his cheeks heat.

“So people who weren’t attracted to me before are now attracted to me,” Shōta says. The contemplative tone he uses makes Hizashi’s chest feel a little too tight, and he wonders if this means that Shōta’s going to try to use his newfound hotness.

“Yeah,” Hizashi replies. “I guess they are.”

He doesn’t say that some people were attracted to Shōta even before his transformation. It’s not like it matters now, he supposes.

Thankfully, their conversation heads back into safer territory from there. Shōta seems to act a little differently for the rest of the afternoon, though, and Hizashi doesn’t know if it’s just his imagination, but it feels like Shōta keeps getting farther and farther into his personal space. At one point, Shōta decides that it would be easier for Hizashi to explain English sentence structure to him if they were both sitting on the same side of the table, and Hizashi’s heart feels like it’s on the verge of beating out of his chest as Shōta presses up against him.

Briefly, Hizashi wonders if Shōta’s using him as a guinea pig to test out his new powers. Hizashi does his best to hide his reactions, though, and sincerely hopes that Shōta doesn’t start acting like this all the time.

He doesn’t know what he’s going to do if Shōta starts playing around with their classmates next.

---

Honestly, at this point Hizashi doesn’t know if the world just has it out for him, because when he comes into class the next morning, there’s a letter on Shōta’s desk. It’s nothing particularly fancy. The stationary is plain and it hasn’t been dipped in perfume or anything like that, but there’s no mistaking what it is.

“Hey, looks like you’ve got your first love letter, Shōta,” Hizashi says, trying to keep his tone light as he pats Shōta on the back. “Look at you, Mr. Popular!”

“Does one love letter really make me popular?” Shōta snorts as he picks up the envelope, inspecting it warily. “You got like five last year.”

“But none this year,” Hizashi sighs overdramatically. “I’ve been usurped by an up and coming star.”

“It’s only been a week,” Shōta says, his tone dry. “I’m sure you’ll get plenty of love letters as the year goes on. We’re third years, so you have even more underclassmen to charm now.”

“Wow, Shōta, does this mean you think I’m charming?” Hizashi asks, shooting Shōta a smirk.

“No,” Shōta snorts. “I actually know you, unlike the rest of your admirers.”

“Ouch,” Hizashi replies, mock offended. “That really hurts, you know. I’m plenty charming. Hey, if I’m Prince Charming, does that make you Cinderella?”

Shōta kicks him in the shin, which Hizashi takes as a, “No.”

Instead of continuing to bicker with Hizashi, though, Shōta picks up the letter off his desk and opens it. Hizashi does his best to avert his eyes and not read over Shōta’s shoulder, but it’s hard when he wants to know what it says so badly.

Finally, though, Shōta shoves the letter back into its envelope.

“So, did Taguchi finally confess his love for you?” Hizashi asks, trying to keep his tone light. “I mean, his behavior for the last few years could sort of be classified as pigtail pulling, if you squint.”

“I’m pretty sure Taguchi still wants to push me off a cliff,” Shōta snorts. “And the letter didn’t say who it was from anyway. They just want me to meet them behind the school after class.”

“Wow, talk about cliché,” Hizashi laughs, although he can tell that his voice is strained. “I bet it’s going to be some stammering underclassman who can barely make it all the way through their confession.”

“You think I should go?” Shōta asks, the corners of his lips twisting down in a slight frown as he looks away from the letter and over at Hizashi.

“Were you not going to?” Hizashi replies, caught off guard. “I mean, it would be kind of rude to not even hear them out, right?”

“Do you meet with everyone who sends you a love letter?” Shōta asks.

“Well, yeah,” Hizashi answers, shrugging slightly.

“But you’ve never dated anyone,” Shōta points out, and Hizashi stiffens up automatically. “You mean you’ve turned down all of them?”

“I – ” Hizashi starts, but then he cuts himself off. He hesitates for a moment and then says, “I usually just tell them I’m flattered, but I already have someone who I like.”

“You have someone you like?” Shōta asks, his forehead creasing as he looks at Hizashi.

For a moment, Hizashi doesn’t know what to say. If he says too much, then Shōta might figure things out, but at the same time Hizashi doesn’t want to make it seem like he’s been lying to everyone who’s confessed to him.

“Yeah,” Hizashi finally answers, forcing a small smile. “But I missed my chance with them, so I guess it doesn’t really matter much anymore.”

“They graduated?” Shōta asks, his frown deepening.

Hizashi just shrugs, unsure how else to reply.

Thankfully, before Shōta can interrogate him any more about his crush, Tensei enters the classroom and makes his way over to the two of them. Hizashi forces a smile on his face and waves to Tensei, chirping a morning greeting. He can feel Shōta’s eyes on him the whole time, but Shōta doesn’t try to ask him for more details, and Hizashi breathes an internal sigh of relief.

The rest of the day passes in something of a blur. He catches Shōta staring at him a few times, but thankfully Shōta doesn’t try to ask him about his crush again. Hizashi does his best to immerse himself in classes to keep his mind off of the confession Shōta is undoubtedly going to receive after school, but he’s not very successful.

Finally, though, classes end.

“Hizashi – ” Shōta says, and Hizashi looks up from where he’s been packing away his books, to see Shōta making his way across the classroom.

“Don’t worry, it’s okay if you skip out on the arcade today,” Hizashi interrupts, shooting Shōta his best fake smile. “I actually have some things I need to help my mom with, so I was going to head home early anyway.”

“Ah,” Shōta replies, and the way he says it is a little stilted.

“Good luck with the whole love letter thing,” Hizashi says, patting Shōta on the shoulder. “I hope you get someone really cute! You totally deserve someone cute to date.”

With that, Hizashi slings his bag over his shoulder, shoots Shōta one more smile, and then heads towards the classroom door. He almost thinks that he can feel Shōta’s eyes on him as he leaves, but that’s probably just his imagination.

When he finally gets home, he collapses face first on his bed and tries not to think about how maybe if he’d just been a little quicker to confess, he wouldn’t have lost his chance.

---

The last thing Hizashi’s expecting is to receive a text from Shōta the next morning, asking if they can hang out.

It’s a Saturday and Hizashi’s schedule is relatively free, so he doesn’t hesitate to say yes. He’d blown Shōta off the previous day in order to give Shōta some time to spend with whoever was going to confess to him, but he genuinely does enjoy spending time with Shōta.

Hopefully he’ll still be able to spend this much time with Shōta now that Shōta’s dating someone else, but, well, maybe he shouldn’t be so optimistic.

“Hey, Shōta!” Hizashi announces as he spots a familiar head of dark, messy hair. Shōta’s standing in front of the café they’re supposed to meet at, but once he turns to look over at Hizashi, Hizashi can’t help but be caught off guard.

Shōta’s never really been the sort of person who cares about his appearance, and normally when he and Hizashi hang out on the weekends he just wears a plain black shirt and jeans. Today, though, he’s wearing a cream colored jacket over a red shirt, and while he’s still has a pair of jeans on, they’re a lot more fitted than the worn out, baggy things he usually wears.

“Wow, you’re dressed up,” Hizashi says, forcing a light tone as he comes to a stop next to Shōta. “You have a hot date later or something?”

“Not really,” Shōta mutters, shoving his hands into his pockets. “Come on, we should head inside. It’s chilly out.”

Personally, Hizashi doesn’t think it’s quite that cold, but he follows Shōta into the café anyway. It’s small and quaint, and he and Shōta get seated at a table in a secluded corner, next to one of the windows. There’s a vase full of colorful tulips on the table, and Hizashi can’t quite help the way his lips quirk up into a small smile at how strange Shōta looks, surrounded by delicate floral patterns.

“What?” Shōta says, eyeing Hizashi warily as he picks up a menu.

“Nothing,” Hizashi replies, still smiling. “I was just think you should start a tulip garden.”

Shōta gives him a strange look, but doesn’t reply, instead fixing his eyes back on the menu.

“The pancakes are good,” Shōta mutters, his face half-hidden by the menu.

“Yeah?” Hizashi asks, looking down at the glossy photos on the menu. “You’re not getting cake?”

“It’s too early for cake,” Shōta replies.

“But it’s not too early for chocolate chip pancakes covered in a ridiculous amount of whipped cream?” Hizashi teases, arching an eyebrow at Shōta. Shōta glares back.

“I never said I was getting chocolate chip,” Shōta replies. “And the strawberry ones have less whipped cream.”

“Strawberry, huh?” Hizashi says as his eyes are drawn to a photo of fluffy, golden-brown pancakes topped with neatly sliced fruit. “I could go for that.”

A waiter comes over not long after and the two of them order. They make light conversation as they wait for their food, although to be entirely honest, Hizashi’s itching to prod Shōta about who confessed to him the other day. Hizashi’s not sure how to ask about that without seeming overly invested, though.

But by the time their food arrives, Hizashi can’t help himself anymore.

“So, who confessed to you yesterday?” Hizashi asks, stabbing a strawberry with his fork. “Anyone I know? Was it really Taguchi?”

“It wasn’t Taguchi,” Shōta replies dryly, after he swallows a mouthful of pancake. “And I don’t know if you’d know him. He looked vaguely familiar, but I can’t remember his name.”

“He confessed to you and you can’t even remember his name?” Hizashi sputters, and he can’t help but feel sorry for the poor guy. “Wow, that’s harsh.”

“I’m not good with names,” Shōta mutters, his eyes trained on his pancakes.

“Well, I guess you’ll have to learn his name when you start going out,” Hizashi muses. “I mean, it would be kind of sad if you didn’t even know your own boyfriend’s name.”

“We’re not,” Shōta says curtly.

“You’re not what?” Hizashi asks, blinking at Shōta.

“We’re not going out,” Shōta elaborates, stabbing a strawberry with probably more force than necessary.

“Why not?” Hizashi asks, although internally he can’t help but feel relieved. He does his best to school his expression, though, so that it’s not obvious.

For a moment, Shōta’s silent.

Finally, he looks up from his pancakes to meet Hizashi’s eyes, and says, “Because I already have someone else I like.”

Whatever relief Hizashi was just feeling vanishes. He opens his mouth to ask Shōta who, but Shōta continues before he can get a word in.

“You said that you missed your chance with the person you like and I don’t want to miss my chance too, so – ” Shōta takes a deep breath. “ – will you go out with me?”

Hizashi stares at Shōta.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to. I won’t try to pressure you or anything,” Shōta says, finally breaking eye contact with Hizashi again. “When you told me that I’d become – attractive, I was hoping that maybe things would change between us, but…”

“You’re the person that I like,” Hizashi blurts out, finally able to form words again.

Shōta’s head snaps back up and he stares at Hizashi for a long moment.

“I thought you said you’d missed your chance,” Shōta says, his forehead creasing in confusion.

“I thought I had,” Hizashi replies, fiddling with his fork. “I mean, I was going to ask you out on the first day of school, but then I saw how much you’d changed, and I just – I couldn’t say it.”

“You don’t like how I look now?” Shōta asks, frowning slightly.

“No! No,” Hizashi says quickly, his eyes going wide. “I just – I was kind of hoping that you’d agree to date me because you didn’t have any other options, which sounds kind of shitty when I say it out loud, but then you got hot and everyone else was throwing themselves at you, so. I thought you’d choose someone else.”

“You,” Shōta replies, “are an idiot.”

“Hey!” Hizashi sputters.

“I wouldn’t need to lower my standards to date you,” Shōta says, and Hizashi blinks at him for a moment, caught off guard. “Your grades are at the top of the class, you were runner up in the sports festival last year, and you’re… very attractive. I’m not going to get a better offer from anyone in the class. Or outside of the class.”

“Oh,” Hizashi replies, feeling a little dazed. “Wait, when you were hanging all over me the other day, were you trying to – ?”

“I was just trying to gauge your interest level,” Shōta mutters, but his cheeks have turned bright pink, and Hizashi can feel a grin tugging on the corners of his lips.

“Oh my god, seriously? And you didn’t figure out that I was into you from that?” Hizashi asks, and Shōta glares at him.

“Shut up,” Shōta huffs, crossing his arms over his chest defensively. “You didn’t really act any differently than normal.”

“Well, that’s because I’ve always been into you,” Hizashi says simply. “I mean, maybe there wasn’t quite the same level of, uh – physical attraction, I guess, but I like you. I like you a whole lot.”

For a moment, Shōta’s quiet, but then he says, “I like you too.”

“You know, I was actually kind of mad at everyone for suddenly being interested in you once you got, you know – ” Hizashi gestures vaguely at Shōta. “You’ve always been an awesome person and not enough people recognize that.”

“Well, I am antisocial, standoffish, and only reply half the time when people try to talk to me,” Shōta snorts, but there’s a small smile tugging at his lips. “I can’t really blame them. The only reason you got through was that you talk so much that it’s impossible to reply all the time anyway.”

“Hey!” Hizashi protests. “I’m not that bad. And you’re not that bad either.”

Shōta shrugs in reply.

“So, uh,” Hizashi says, biting his lower lip. “Does this mean we’re dating?”

“If you want to,” Shōta replies.

“Definitely! I really, really want to date you,” Hizashi says. He pauses for a moment and then adds, “Also, can I kiss you now? Because I know I said I wasn’t only in this for your looks, but I’m not not into this for your looks, if you know what I mean.”

Shōta lets out a little snort, but instead of protesting, he leans across the table and presses his lips to Hizashi’s in a brief, chaste kiss.

“I need a second date before you can get any more,” Shōta says as he pulls away again.

“I think I can do that,” Hizashi replies, a little dazed.

Shōta smiles ever so slightly.