It is the duty of a hero to fight that others might live , Yagi Toshinori types, his hands shaking badly enough that he will be lucky if his message is even legible, later. To sacrifice in the name of the greater good, in the hopes that what regrets may come will be counteracted by the good we have done. With this duty comes the knowledge that there may come a point in a young hero’s life when they must die so that others will live.
That was good, right, profound and wise? Not too stuck up, but not too bogged down with emotion for a young man? He hopes so - there is not enough time for him to begin again. Sinking deeper into the depths of his hiding space, he draws a slow, careful breath and resumes his work.
My boy, I know that when the time comes, you will be an even greater hero than I! Your courage, your wits, your indomitable spirit - my deepest, truest regret, is that I will not be there with you, when the time comes. You have made this life worth living, and I am so very proud of -
The words are whispered in his ear, a taunting whisper laced in venom. Toshinori drops his phone and screams, surprised and terror-filled, and hopes that no one would ever judge him for doing so. Discovered in such a vulnerable moment, if he lives through this he will dare anyone to argue that his reaction is anything less than appropriate. That said scream causes his chest to lurch, and the blood ever collecting in his airwar to spew across the walls of his hiding place, is also appropriate, if not slightly more pathetic.
He will take pathetic if it helps him live through this.
“S-Shōta! My man! It’s so ah, ah, s-surprising to see you!”
Well, not see him, exactly. Even with the limited visibility of the darkness, he can see that Shōta isn’t anywhere near him - on the ground, anyway. It takes craning his neck up and back to see the man, and the sight nearly makes him shout all over again.
His fellow teacher is suspended from the ceiling, the lengths of his capture weapon from a gap in the vents that had granted him entry, their strength allowing him to hang upside down easily. His hair, the faintest brush of which might have given away his plans, had been bound into a tight bun at the nape of his neck, and his eyes, exhausted as always, gleam a brilliant red as he glares down at Toshinori.
There is, of course, one thing Toshinori has forgotten to mention: that his fellow teacher’s hair was currently, even in the dark, a bright, bright shade of yellow.
“Very, very surprising to see you. Did - did I know you could use your capture weapon this way? It’s impressive! Very, very - impressive - “
With every second of that prolonged stare, Toshinori could feel his fear grow. Surely, it was not normal for a person to be able to go so long without blinking, or be able to hang upside down for so long, or to maintain the awkward, terrified atmosphere of silence that is even now crushing him without mercy. He is not certain how long he can last. He is not certain he will ever see the light of day again, but the silence - the silence will kill him long before Shōta does does -
“I ah, heard s-screaming earlier. Don’t suppose you know what hap-”
“Kaminari.” Red eyes flash with sadistic pleasure. “Brave fools die young, isn’t that the saying?”
Poor Kaminari. May his soul find peace in the next life. He swallowed once, hard, and looked to the door of the closet. Just two feet, three buckets, and a mop away. He had been the number one hero! Surely he could -
“If you move, I will drag you into these vents and make sure that no one ever finds your body,” Shōta says casually, as if they were talking about the weather, or expelling a student.
Toshinori swallowed again, raising his hands in surrender. His phone was already lost in the darkness near his feet. He could only hope that Izuku would find his message someday, and forgive him his failures.
“I would never. I know that I’ve earned your wrath - that whatever you do with me is justified.”
The Erasure hero snorts, taking pity on his own eyes - and Toshinori’s - by blinking. When he reopens them, his eyes are dark once more, but still sharp with anger. “Oh, I know I’m justified. But don’t act as if you’re innocent. You knew what you were doing.”
“It was an accident!” Toshinori, you fool, why are you protesting? Grovel man, grovel for your life!
“Of course it was an accident. You just mixed bleach and blond hair dye into my shampoo. And accidentally let me walk into our class. And accidentally joined in their laughter.”
Laid out like that, it sounded bad. Worse, in fact, than he had ever intended. Why, oh why, did no plan ever work out like he wanted it? Scrambling for words, aware that he was gaping like a fool, he thought back to this just an hour ago, when everything had gone horribly wrong.
Any morning that started with Shōta awake before him was a bad one. It was a law of the universe, in the same vein as gravity, and the rotation of the earth about the sun - consistent, true, and proven. His lover woke early only for a handful of reasons: nightmares, emergencies, and worst of all, nights of hero work that lasted so long he did not get a chance to climb into bed to begin with. Judging by the pile of black clothes and off-white cloth that made up Eraserhead’s hero suit, Toshinori could guess that this was a case of the latter. This would definitely, most certainly, be a bad day.
But it was not until the sounds of rushing water in the washroom ended and the door was thrown unceremoniously open, that he realized just how badly this day was going to go.
Because Shōta’s hair is not the dark, rich fall of black he was used to seeing after the man showered. No.
Shōta’s hair is instead a pale, rich, fall of yellow, and he didn’t seem to have noticed a thing. His eyes were still mostly shut, one hand rubbing water away from his face with a towel, the other adjusting his drawstring pants and t-shirt, no doubt trying to tug away moisture. He was yawning, exhausted, undoubtedly ready for breakfast and then a late morning sleep.
Toshinori wonders how long, exactly, he can expect to stay alive. He wonders if it will be long enough to explain. He wonders if it will be long enough to apologize. He wonders, frantically, why he hadn’t updated his will, because now his lover was going to murder him and not even be able to claim his portion of Toshinori’s wealth.
And then, as if some cruel higher power is setting this all up to ensure that Toshinori’s life ends as painfully as possible, Shōta doesn’t head for their bed. No. He heads for the door. The public door. The one that lead to the common rooms that the students shared. The one that would ensure that anyone from 1-A who was awake at this very moment would see everything, and immortalize the cause of Toshinori’s untimely death.
A strangled noise leaves his throat. “S-Shōta?”
“Coffee,” Shōta mumbles, or maybe yawns, or maybe grumbles, or maybe it’s some unholy combination of the three. “‘M tired.”
“I can get it!” His voice is a strangled shout. “You’ve had a long night why don’t you let me take care of everything - “
The door is closing. Shōta is walking through. His life flashes before his eyes, every heart-wrenching and heartfelt moment of it. This is it. This is how he’s going to die. He’s going to die and go to hell for this.
The door is closed. Shōta has gone through. All Toshinori can think about is the bottle of shampoo, no doubt half empty and still open, with its sticker tag promising to bring the color back to any tired, faded hair. Promising to be worth the price. Clutching his very, very yellow bangs and tugging sharply, Toshinori can’t help but think that no hair is worth this.
A muffled sound floats through the door - voices, familiar ones, all beginning to ask questions.
I really am a dead man, he realizes, Izuku, my boy, I’m so sorry.
And then he rushes down the stairs, as if a demon is nipping at his heels, hoping he’ll get there before Shōta really does expel someone.
“I know it looks bad,” Toshinori says in the present, finally snapping his jaw shut. Remembering why and how he’d gotten into this mess brought his strength flooding back, determination brightening his eyes. “But I never meant for this to happen, Shōta. I swear to you, there’s an excellent explanation for all of this, and it doesn’t involve pranks, taunts, or torment of any kind!”
A moment of silence, as Shōta stares him down. Sweat rolls down the back of his neck as he wonders what Shōta will do to him. After what seems like an eternity (but is still only one minute), he hears:
“Fifty-eight seconds now, Toshinori. Well? What’s the explanation for this?” He points irritably at his hair, and finally, finally, swings to the ground, capture weapon releasing it’s grip so he can land on his feet. He has to look up to meet Toshinori’s eyes now, and his hair is messier for the sudden change in orientation, yellow strands beginning to come loose from the bun.
“Oh! Right - right, well.” He sucks in a deep breath, channeling all his courage. “The truth is that I dye my hair.”
Well. At least that didn’t sound like rage, anymore. It’s enough motivation to continue, even if the words make his voice shrink. “My hair's going grey. It has for a while, and I just - I didn’t want to look old. It’s bad enough I am old…”
And this isn’t supposed to be a pity party - truly, it’s not - but saying the words out loud stings. Hasn’t he had enough to deal with, and adapt to, and now his hair decides to start going grey, as if to prove he’s old and done with, a has-been chasing glory days. Broad, bony shoulders slump. “I’m sorry Shōta. I must have left my shampoo out by mistake, and it’s a color treatment shampoo, and… I’m sorry I laughed at you, and -”
Toshinori probably would have gone on forever, finding more and more words ready to spill out of him, except that Shōta was there, stepping up and tentatively wrapping his arms around him. It’s hard for a man of his size to feel small , but Shōta’s always managed to do it. Right now, it feels nice.
“I haven’t forgiven you yet,” Shōta mutters, face pressed into Toshinori’s chest, “But I’m thinking about it. Carry me to bed; if anyone gets the old man privileges around here, it’s me.”