7:02 pm, 24 December
“So, how long are we doing this for?” Aizawa asked, in between sips of his boba tea.
Yamada frowned. “What do you mean, Shouba-boba?”
Aizawa had stopped responding to the barrage of increasingly stupid nicknames by his third week in the hero course. Instead he gestured to the decorations hidden just behind the frame of the classroom’s door. An alarming number of mistletoe sprigs tied together, three disco balls, four confetti cannons, and rainbow streamers stood ready to drop down and activate at the push of the button by Aizawa’s chair, to say nothing of the speakers and mood lighting candles in the back of the classroom. “I mean, when do we start cleaning up and go home?”
“When someone comes to give me a kiss, of course,” Yamada replied, hesitating as if he expected it to be a trick question. (He did think it was a trick question). He gestures to the flyer in his hand, one of many posted around the school, printed in neon colors. “Come down to Class 2-A this Christmas Eve at 7 pm or later for a special surprise from the school’s most eligible bachelor, Present Mic (aka Yamada Hizashi)! All genders welcome, bring your smoulder, first come first serve! Kageyama not welcome,” he reads off the flyer.
Aizawa sighed. “I mean, if no one comes, what time do we give up?”
Yamada snapped his fingers with a tight smile. “I don’t give up, Shou-Shou Slide.” He tilted his head and cocked an eyebrow. “You volunteered to help me with this, so if you have something to do tonight-”
“I don’t. I decided the best course of action would be to be here if no one came, so I could cut off the sulking as soon as possible. Once you start, you can’t seem to stop; it’s better than dealing with you in a few days when you start sending me another 59 texts in a row about your troubles.”
Yamada’s mouth crinkled at the memory. “Hey, that was one time,” he said defensively. Then, in a lighter tone, “the other times were closer to 30. And jeez, you’re making this sound like a chore.”
Aizawa shrugged. “Well, I suppose I’m a masochist, in more ways than one.” Yamada’s smile grew a little tighter and he stared down his friend, trying to decipher the sentence. Aizawa’s constant dry sarcasm was normal to him, somewhat welcome against his relentless assault of excitement and adrenaline. He knew better than to be insulted by this point, but the second half of the sentence told him that something was being left unsaid. Aizawa pointedly didn’t meet his gaze, instead looking at the pearls in his tea as he swirled the container.
Instead, Yamada put his hands together and his excellent skills with language, social awareness, and charisma to good use, by very unsubtly changing the topic. “So do you think Kageyama will show up anyway, Shoucchi-chan-kun?”
“The question is when, Hizashi.”
(This entire evening could have been a lot shorter if they had expressed their true feelings at this point in time, but they were teenage boys, and besides, where was the fun in that?)
When there was actually a knock at the door less than an hour into their venture, both Yamada and Aizawa were genuinely surprised. Yamada’s expression brightened like a flash grenade, and he erupted forth, first positioning himself beside the door frame, swinging the door open, and dramatically leaning in the entryway, gazing into the middle distance instead of at his visitor.
“Hey there listener, I see I’ve grabbed your interest with my sly note. You’ve called in, my lucky winner, and here’s your prize,” he crooned in his practiced radio show voice. Aizawa pressed the almighty button. Slightly retro pop song with a softly, sexily throbbing baseline came on, disco balls descended with spinning lights accompanying, the cannons fired their neon colored confetti. The final touch, the dangerously large bundle of mistletoe on a trembling string, slid down into place. Yamada turned to see the lucky winner.
He saw no one.
His face blanched until he heard a soft cough from below. “I don’t usually get this...exciting of a request for one of my kisses,” Recovery Girl said drily.
Yamada’s face started to twist in a rush of emotions, namely embarrassment, confusion, a smear of amusement. (It was pretty funny, even if he was the who had goofed.) She smiled gently, and pressed a quirkless kiss to his fingers. “Have a nice Christmas, boys. Although, if you’re going to be hanging around, why don’t you come by my office and help me clean up later?” Her tone made clear that it was not a suggestion. Yamada could only stare as she walked down the hall.
Once she was clear from sight, he let out a very long, melodramatic groan, not unlike a cow trying to give birth, and slid down the door frame. Once he had sat on the floor (gently, for he had little cushioning), and groaned enough times, he looked at Aizawa with unadulterated despair and betrayal.
“You saw who it was! You didn’t say anything!! You even pressed the button, Shou-lo!”
Aizawa, now lazily leaning back in his chair with an empty drink container, shrugged. “Well, we’ve already established I’m a masochist. Why not a sadist, too?” His head was turned away from Yamada so that he almost couldn’t see the tiny smirk. Almost.
The blond took off his sunglasses and looked up at the ceiling. Any drama had been undermined by the fact that his usual pair had been replaced with the tackiest, most distasteful Christmas-themed sunglasses that he could find, with glittery snowflake-shaped rims that constantly shed glitter. (Glitter, the herpes of art supplies). “You ruined the set-up, dammit! I paid the support course kids a lot of money to make this, uh...” he said, trailing off as he struggled to describe the device that had 19 cords connected to the button Aizawa held, to roll the whole tacky event into action.
“Monstrosity?” Aizawa supplied.
“Yes! I mean no! It’s the perfect romantic enhancer! And you’ve wasted it!”
He started to get out of his seat. “Everything can be reset except the confetti cannons, which I told you were too much in the first place. Just help me clean up the crap, and we can get ready to try again.” The blond, still pouting, kicked at the offending mess. “No, that is not cleaning, that is being a baby.” Yamada stuck his tongue out.
The clean-up ended up taking over an hour, owing to trying to find the evil little bits of paper, and trying to convince the disco balls to retract. Yamada eventually texted the support class students he had hired, and that alone took half an hour as the irritated engineer tried to specify that it was the button on the top, what do you mean it’s not working? tell me what it looks like, no that’s not a button, the top of the REAL buttons, back and forth, all while her classmate, a computer programmer, kept insisting that they delete system 34. Yamada knew too many memes to fall for that last one.
When they were finally done, Yamada fell into a chair with a dramatic sigh. “That was exhausting.”
“We do more labor-intensive work for ten hours a day, six days a week.”
“Yeah, but this is boring. Aren’t you bored, Aizawawawa?”
The tired teenager scowled. “You’re the one who set this up, so I don’t know why you’re complaining. I’m the one who’s doing this for nothing.”
With the most over-dramatic wink he could manage, Yamada replied, “You get to spend more time with me, your favorite dreamboat.”
Instead of coming up with a cutting reply, Aizawa’s face began to pucker up instead. Just a little at first, then all at once, like grain entrapment. A slight blush came over his face, spreading from his nose to the tips of his ears. It was totally endearing and Yamada suddenly realized he was on the precipice of an important revelation when-
There was a knock on the door. He found himself irritated, but brushed aside the unexpected emotion in search of a Christmas kiss. He tried the same routine as he performed for the unexpecting Recovery Girl, but this time the device did not activate. Confused, he looked the newcomer in the eyes, startled back, and then glared.
“Kageyama, I know it’s difficult, but you have to read the whole thing.” He reached behind himself, struggling to grab at the flyer he kept. Helpfully, Aizawa picked it up and handed it to him so he could smash it into the intruder’s face. “Kageyama. Not. Welcome,” he said, punctuating each word by smacking the paper as hard as possible into the offending face. (It was not very hard, given that it was a piece of paper, but it was the thought that counted. Probably.)
When he lowered the paper to resume glaring, Kageyama only responded with a toothy smile. “I just wanted to see if one of your desperate attempts to get more groupies had accomplished anything. You’re always looking for desperate people to make yourself feel important.” He made a show of looking around the room. “Looks like no, unless you’ve finally resorted to the Gen Ed kid. Make sure to wash later, you don’t know where he’s been. Merry Christmas, by the-”
Finally, a fist connected with the shitty, shitty teeth. The sheer satisfaction of watching the smug face twist on impact and feeling the crunch of a nose where it didn’t belong breaking under his knuckles was the best Christmas present Yamada had ever had, and he was giving it to himself and it wasn’t even Christmas. The follow-up of Kageyama stumbling back on his ass and cradling his bruised jaw was the second best.
Trying to hold back the blood streaming down from his nose while standing up, Kageyama managed to spit out “Punching me doesn’t make me wrong. You’re still a self-important prick and Aizawa’s still your filthy little pity case.” The effectiveness of the insult was undermined by him spluttering through though blood and retreating down the hallway. Yamada slammed the door with a flourish, and scanned the room for something to wipe his hands with. Instead, he noticed Aizawa with an uncharacteristically blank expression. He was normally stoic, but this was...something else.
“Shouta? You doing alright?” He scooted a chair up to sidle up next to his friend. For a few minutes, Aizawa only looked down at his lap, idly crinkling the plastic cup he should’ve thrown away a long time ago. His mouth twitched as if he were about to say something, but remained tightly shut. Yamada had seen this once before, and that was...bad. He simply sat silently, not pushing his friend to speak before he was ready, only waiting. He didn’t understand closing off when something bothered him--it made him want to scream and kick and curse, but doing any of those things wouldn’t help his friend out right now.
Eventually, Aizawa spoke. “Sorry.”
“No way dude, you ha-”
“Kageyama only came here to rile us up; he proved unable to accurately assess the situations of others or take reasoning into account last time, so there is no reason I should take his words to heart. No matter what the evidence in front of him is, he adheres to his previous stances, which are usually spiteful and antipathetic. He obtains pleasure from demeaning others. There is no merit to what he says.” The words came out in a rhythmic monotone, without meeting Yamada’s eye. The plastic cup was now mangled in his hand, and he rocked slightly in his seat.
The blond was quiet for a moment. “Well...I’m glad you know that. But...that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt. Especially when it feels like, uh, like something some people might actually think about you, that aren’t just out to bully. Or like, um, like it might even be true. And I mean it’s not of course, because, I do like you. You’re my best friend. I thought you were cool and needed friends so I did it. I made friends with you.”
The gears in Aizawa’s mind almost visibly turned as he thought through the words. After a few moments, he said, “That is true, and I can tell because you remember things about me, things I like, things I don’t like, and when you tell me I did something well you provide specific examples, and you text to ask how I’m doing, and-” his voice caught for a moment, but he resumed, “and I know it’s not just you who likes me, because Iida and Kayama also talk to me, even when you’re not there, which leads me to the conclusion that you...you must care about me. So I must have positive qualities that make people feel happy in my presence.” He looked up as Yamada squeezed his hand gently, nodding.
He continued. “And therefore, he’s wrong about you too. You wouldn’t do all that for me if I was simply here for your vanity. Moreover, you have plenty of other concrete accomplishments to let you know that you have worth.”
Yamada smiled, feeling the warmth of his friend’s hand.
“While we’re here, and there’s a speaker, do you want to hear that album I’ve been talking about?”
“And apparently the producer was asking for them to cut the song in half, but then they went and cut the producer’s favorite pair of pants in half and asked how he liked it! Of course, now the producer is trying to get rid of them…”
“I can see why you like them.”
“So my sister, Aika-”
“I know who Aika is.”
“ANYWAY, she asked me how to say “I want to learn English with you” in English, and what I told her to say is [I’m here to kick ass and chew bubblegum], and she actually said it to the teacher! I was grounded, but damn, what an impression to make!”
Aizawa scrunched up his nose. “What does that mean?”
“Shoulene!” he gasped. “Not only do you suck at English, you can’t recognize a fine vintage meme! How can I have failed you like this?”
His response was an elbow to the side.
“I’m texting Iida, he says he’s going to bring us some fried chicken.”
“Why do you and Iida have such good butts?”
“It’s alright Hizashi. People can love you for something other than your butt. The rest of you is...good.”
“Yeah, uh, you’re pretty good too.”
There was a silence, cut off by a buzz from Aizawa’s phone. Yamada turned away, feeling a little light-headed, and missed the shorter boy stopping by the door to fix something before he went to meet Iida.
There was a knock on the door for the final time that night. Aizawa let himself in this time, balancing the bucket of fried chicken in one arm while opening the door in another. After looking at Yamada expectantly for a moment, he cleared his throat.
“Something up, Shou Thing?” he said. Aizawa only awkwardly gestured for him to come to the door. As he came forward, he asked, “What? Do you need help carrying the bucket or something?” Aizawa shook his head.
“I believe you’re standing under the mistletoe with someone.”
Yamada noticed the still huge plant hanging over them, and started glancing between Aizawa and the plant. A look of confusion and apprehension passed over his face, making Aizawa’s heart plummet for a horrifying moment.
Yamada shrugged, and leaned down to kiss the bucket of chicken with a wet smack. Aizawa was so gobsmacked that he could only stare dumbly as his friend started rooting around in the bucket for the largest, crispest piece he could find. “No, not the bucket!” he snapped.
In the moment when his frustration finally overcame his fear, Aizawa gripped Yamada by the lapels and pressed a kiss to his lips.
He only could lean back for a moment before Yamada came back for more, this time firmer and more insistent. Neither of them was very good, but the emotional shock from what had happened plus the addictive feeling of another person’s body spurred them to smash mouths anyway. In their excitement, some chicken fell out of the bucket that was being squeezed out of the space between their bodies. The sound of the annihilated meat on the linoleum snapped them out of their hormonal trance.
“Shouta, how long have you felt like this?”
“That’s a weird answer.”
28 December, 3:36 pm
Both boys sat in Recovery Girl’s office, meticulously removing cotton swabs from their packaging and packing them into a jar.
“Hizashi, I don’t think this is a normal first date.”
Recovery Girl glanced over at them from her paperwork. “You boys promised.”
“I don’t think we did.”
She smiled instead of responding, which was answer enough. Yamada stuck his tongue out at the back of her head, and rubbed his new boyfriend’s knee under the table.
They were happy where they were.