Yamada Hizashi was finally going to say something tonight. The blond man, better known as the voice hero Present Mic, was going to address what always seemed to be the pink elephant on parade in his apartment. Well, not just his apartment. More like the apartment he shared with Aizawa Shouta. His roommate. His fellow pro hero and teacher at UA High School. His best friend of fifteen years.
The man he’d been in love with since high school.
Not that either of them had ever actually said anything about that.
That, right there, was precisely the Disney reference the radio DJ was making. Hizashi knew there was no way in hell that Shouta didn’t know. He’d never really bothered to hide his feelings in how he acted. He may never have said anything aloud, but if anyone knew how to read what he doesn’t say, it’s the man who rarely says anything aloud.
To be fair, Hizashi could read Shouta just as well. If he hadn’t learned, well, they wouldn’t have much of a friendship, would they? The voice hero knew what Shouta had never said either. He knew his best friend loved him too. From the actions that spoke five thousand volumes compared to his meager verbal communication, he had learned that.
It was… It was time to finally say something. They’d avoided it for long enough. They’d gone long enough without doing anything about those feelings. It wasn’t an easy life being a pro hero, and it was an inevitable truth that some day (or night, in Shouta’s case) they could go out there and never come home again.
The two men were relaxing in their living room, a rare moment of time where they were both off at the same time despite their combined five jobs. It was still early enough in the evening that Shouta still had some time before his patrol. The radio was on quietly in the background as they graded papers for each of their classes.
Each moment that he tried to focus on the English papers in front of him, he felt the opportunities slipping away. He was supposed to be a hero. Where was that bravery right now? He was supposed to be good with words. Why were they failing him when he needed them most? Finally, he put his red pen down on top of the papers and stretched as if he were taking a normal break in the grading. Unsurprisingly, Shouta barely blinked an eye at that.
“Heyyy… Shouta?” Hizashi winced internally as his voice faltered from it’s normal confidence as the erasure hero’s name passed his lips. In all fairness, he couldn’t deny that the dark-haired man would have undoubtedly seen right through the confidence he was trying to hide behind. Shouta was always able to cut through the walls, to see through the persona and see him.
“… Hizashi?” Much as he cursed the shakiness of his confidence, it certainly got the other man’s attention. Where normally Shouta wouldn’t even bother looking up as he grunted an acknowledgement of the question in his best friend’s tone, the paperwork had lost his attention as soon as Hizashi’s voice had cracked. Black eyes met green and Hizashi had to try to control the butterflies that had decided his stomach was a perfect place to spread their wings. Those dark eyes, eternally tired, were trained on him and there was a touch of worry there if he looked close enough. Speaking of worry, the blond himself couldn’t help but worry for the millionth time if the man next to him was pushing himself too hard… but that was an argument (again) for another time. ‘Focus, damnit,’ he thought to himself.
“We’ve been friends for over half our lives now. It’s like… we were meant to find each other, y’know? Despite our differences, we just fit,” He’d taken a deep breath before plunging in, because he knew if he stopped, he wouldn’t actually ever finish what he meant to say. Didn’t mean it was all going to come out smoothly, “I know…. I know you know how I feel about you. I haven’t exactly been hiding it or anything. I’m also pretty sure… that you’re in love with me, too. I think it’s time… that we did something about it.”
As he exhaled those last words, an overwhelming blend of feelings took the place of his breath. Pride that he’d managed to say any of it at all. Embarrassment that he’d tripped over his tongue at the most important part. And, smothering everything else, a vulnerability that the words were now there in the open, said and inescapable and unavoidable and with the potential to change everything or change nothing. It was as though everything was in slow motion or completely stopped, one of the two, as seconds passed like hours and he seemed unable to breathe for the entire time he waited for any sort of response in the deafening silence left behind in the wake of his words. Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he could acknowledge the quiet noise of the radio, the soft shuffle as one of the cats moved around elsewhere in the apartment, but… it was all buried under the silence.
“Why?” One word. One soft question. It sounded like the crack of the sound barrier in the silence surrounding them, and it wasn’t exactly the response he’d been hoping for.
“Why? Why shouldn’t we?” The words were out of his mouth before he could think.
Shouta snorted, “Let’s look at this logically. Our hero work would be jeopardized. Any villain who found out about us being romantically involved would automatically be able to exploit that weakness against either of us. You’re so involved in the media that it would be nearly impossible for the information to not get out. You would resent having to keep the relationship a secret, or you’d let something slip on accident. Furthermore, if it did come out, it would potentially have a negative impact on your media persona, and could cost you a lot more than it would cost me. You would regret it in the end... The world, the lives we lead, would just end up pushing us apart. It wouldn’t change too much of how involved we are in each other’s lives. The risk, logically, is much greater than the reward.”
He gaped like a fish as he processed the words that had flooded the room so easily. Some part of his mind had the need to acknowledge that, clearly, he was not the only one who’d been thinking about this for quite some time. He couldn’t deny the risk that villains would be to their relationship, but that was already a risk for them. It was part of why they didn’t work together often as heroes (the other part being Hizashi’s own preference for working in the daytime compared to the underground hero’s need for the darkness).
His involvement with the media… he wanted to deny it, but he knew how much the press could hound him about the slightest bit of information, vultures that they could be. He didn’t care about any effect their relationship might have on his on-air persona. The listeners who truly enjoyed what he did wouldn’t care, and anyone who would care… well, they had their own problems to deal with then, didn’t they? What worried him more was something that felt unsaid. You would regret it in the end… there was an unspoked fear there. Did… Did Shouta ever really think he’d regret him? Ever?
“Shouta… The villains already pose a risk to us, and we don’t patrol together for that reason. I don’t give a flying fuck what the media, what the world has to say about me. Just… let me say that you’re mine. I know keeping it a secret would be hard. I know you can’t really have the media exposure. Please, just… give us a chance. I could never regret you. I would never regret us, if there could just be an us,” Damnit, there were tears welling up in his eyes. He blinked rapidly, bowing his head so he wouldn’t have to meet that dark gaze. His papers were blurry in front of him, and strands of hair that had started to escape from his half-bun fell into his face. If he wasn’t careful, his glasses would start fogging and misting and then there’d be no hiding this.
He should’ve remembered who he was dealing with. The rough, calloused hand that had reached out to cup his cheek, gently pulling his gaze back to the man next to him was proof enough there wouldn’t be any hiding this. For a brief moment, his eyelids fluttered shut, heart stuttering at the contact. That small patch of skin seemed like it could almost be the only real, physical part of him in that moment. Any time he made skin-to-skin contact with Shouta, even if it was just a brush of the knuckles, his heart would skip a few beats and the feeling would linger. No matter how long Hizashi lived, he doubted that would ever change.
The blond’s willpower was running low, which was probably why he took what might be his only chance to lean into that unexpectedly tender touch before meeting the hooded eyes he’d tried to avoid. At least that willpower was still in evidence enough that he kept his own hand from covering the larger, rougher one, let alone turning his head to kiss that hand. He was already vulnerable, and this… didn’t seem to be going the way he’d hoped.
Exhaustion was touched with a tenderness he would sometimes see in those eyes he loved so much, but this time there was a sadness and acceptance there too, deep and unrelenting, as if Shouta had come to this conclusion long ago. As if the other had never said anything to spare Hizashi the pain that had been felt on that realization, the pain he felt at this moment.
“No one can rewrite the stars, Hizashi,” the quiet words, holding every ounce of what he had seen in those eyes, fell like stones in a still pond. The hand connecting them fell away, taking with it any of the hope the DJ may have felt.
Hizashi’s heart shattered.
And yet, the need to act like everything was okay was still strong, despite the pain that stole the breath, rendered the thin lips unable to speak and the lean body unable to do anything but curl into a ball. He ended up at a middle ground.
“Well, now that we’ve addressed that!” Hizashi made his voice overly cheery, maybe a touch louder than specifically necessary as he stood, “Goodness, is that the time? I’d better turn in. You’re probably heading out for patrol soon. Well, hope everything goes well. Come home safe!” As he fought against the evidence of tears in his voice, words almost blurring together, he busied himself getting his papers cleaned up and put away for the night. It wasn’t really that late at all, but he had to get back to his bedroom, try and put some distance between them.
Shouta sighed, starting to get up as well, “Hizashi-”
“It’s fine! Everything’s fine! Have a good night out there!” Hizashi shook his head, a smile plastered on his face that was a little too wide and didn’t go anywhere near his eyes. He bolted towards his bedroom, barely hearing Shouta before he shut the door behind him and collapsed on his bed.
The next week went by in a blur, and Hizashi was grateful for it. He kept himself busy enough that he rarely saw Shouta (which was a feat when you shared a job and an apartment, even with their insane schedules). He did his grading at school, or at the studio. He went home mostly to sleep and got up with the sun. He prerecorded a couple extra shows in addition to the live one he hosted. When he did have to speak to his best friend, he acted as if everything was normal between them, and didn’t give him a chance to argue. After fifteen years together, he was pretty used to dodging that capture weapon when he needed to. The trickier part was dodging its owner.
Holy hell, was that hard to do. After fifteen years of always having someone to bitch to about your day, of having someone who knew you better than anyone else and understood… it was strange and felt completely wrong. Half of him wanted to rebel against the avoidance, wanted the comfort of having his best friend back to talk to. The other half of him was what spurred the avoidance, trying to cocoon his wounded and battered heart behind a thick, protective shell of ‘nothing to see here!’ He was pretty sure it wasn’t working well. And he was incredibly lonely.
Oh, he could go talk to Kayama Nemuri, his friend and co-worker who was better known as the pro-hero Midnight, but she’d notice right away that there was a problem. The fact that he was complaining to her rather than Shouta would be number one on the list, and she’d undoubtedly noticed him avoiding the other man as often as possible. Nemuri was like a big sister to the both of them, despite barely being a year older than either of them, and had always tried to push Hizashi to say something about their mutual feelings. He really didn’t want to hear her reaction to what actually happened when he finally did.
Talking to Iida Tensei would be almost as bad. He completed their circle of friends, and was about as bad as Nemuri in terms of pushing the voice hero to make a move. Tensei, however, also wasn’t as accessible as Nemuri. While he was still only a train ride away in Hosu, it still wasn’t as close as someone he worked with almost every day. Besides, Hizashi could easily make the excuse to himself that Tensei was busy with his hero agency and being the pro-hero Ingenium. He didn’t need to be bothered by his friends’ love lives. That, though, was a total lie and he knew it. The turbo hero would probably be pissed he hadn’t been told as soon as something was said.
Oh well. If he couldn’t go to the two of them, like hell he’s gonna go to anyone else. Nemuri would kill him. Though, judging by the looks he was starting to get from the 18+ only hero, she might end up killing him anyways.
It seemed like a normal day. There was a note about 1-A going to the USJ that day, but other than that, nothing was really out of the ordinary. It was business as usual for everyone else.
Until the moment it wasn’t.
Until Iida raised the alarm on the main campus.
Villains in the USJ.
Like every other pro on campus, Hizashi bolted to help protect their students, to help Thirteen and Shouta. All Might, it seemed, had encountered Tenya before he’d made it to the rest of them and was already on his way. He was sure there wasn’t going to be much to worry about when they got there. After all, each of the pros teaching 1-A were perfectly capable heroes. They could handle themselves against some villains. They could protect the students.
Snipe had gotten off a couple shots almost as soon as they walked in (Hizashi would later find out that those shots saved the lives of some of the students, as well as drawing attention to their arrival). Hizashi started taking in the situation around them, only to be halted in his tracks by one of the sights that greeted him.
There, draped over the shoulders of one of his students, was Shouta. He was beaten and bloody, clothing torn and ragged. He wasn’t moving. Hizashi’s heart stopped at the sight. Then, he heard the sound of some of the villains thinking they could fight back.
Like. Fucking. Hell.
Stepping up to the edge of the stairs without hesitation, the voice hero proved his name, unleashing auditory hell and probably shattering the eardrums of many of the villains beyond repair. But he didn’t care. Aizawa Shouta, his best friend, his other half, the person he loved most in the whole fucking world was in the worst shape he’d ever seen him in, and they might be too late to save him. If he didn’t do something to take out these goons, he would lose himself in that thought. He would be crushed under the weight of the idea of a world without…
He focused himself, helped the other teachers with reining in and taking out the various villains. He forced himself to push his worry, his terror, his sense of loss right now to the back and take care of the situation at hand. That was the logical thing. That was what Shouta would want him to do. Take care of the students. Take out the villains. Secure the school again. Focus.
It was only when all of that was done, once it all went by in a blur he wasn’t entirely sure he’d ever be able to remember clearly, that he raced to the hospital, to Shouta’s side. Oh, now you can be around him.
They tried to tell him he’d recover, that it would just take time. That was hard to reconcile with the sight he’d seen at the USJ, with the sight before his eyes now. He tried to tell himself it would be alright, that they’d gotten through worse before. But they hadn’t. Not really. And you threw away your last days with him avoiding him.
He was just grateful that no one told him he couldn’t be there. Hizashi was pretty sure that both Nedzu and Recovery Girl had something to do with that. He was slumped in a chair at Shouta’s bedside, just… watching, waiting. His hand slowly, shakily reached out to gently rest on the ever-messy black locks that were the only sign of his best friend under those bandages. They were soft, and without even realizing what he was doing, he began gently carding his fingers through the dark mane spread out on the pillow like a halo.
He could’ve lost him.
That was all that raced through his mind, behind his eyelids. The possibility that he would never again get to laugh with his best friend, that there would be no more late-night movie binges over take-out cartons, no more companionable silences as they graded papers. All of the little things, the routines, the traditions, the staples of their lives… gone. It all could’ve been gone in an instant.
Hizashi’s whole body was shaking as he leaned in closer to the unconscious form on the hospital bed. Shouta always liked it when he would sing, at least when it was something soft... He thought back to that night, to the words Shouta said to him. The words neither of them wanted him to say, and yet that he felt he had to say anyways.
“Please let me rewrite the stars,” The words fell from his lips, the melody soft and shaky and perhaps slightly waterlogged, “Wish I could say you were mine. Nothing should keep us apart. You were the one I was meant to find…” He cut himself off with a slightly choked noise, any further words or notes strangled by the lump of emotion clogging his throat.
He stopped trying to hide the tears, letting them flow down his cheeks. He knew he was a mess, but he couldn’t bring himself to care. His carefully styled hair had started to sag, and the leather he wore was getting unbearable. Even his directional speaker, built specifically for him, was feeling way too heavy and almost like it was starting to chafe. But he was here… and he’d stay here as long as he could, until either Shouta woke up or they dragged him from the room kicking and screaming.
Doctors came and went. Recovery Girl did too and tried to insist Shouta would be fine, and that Hizashi himself should go home. He could’ve sworn that, when he refused to leave, she’d muttered something about “stubborn lovesick fools”, but he let it go. The woman had been patching the pair of them up since they were students themselves, especially her current patient.
Those high school days of their own… Shouta had as little regard for his own health then as he did now. It worried Hizashi even then, that maybe he was pushing himself too hard to fight those who always said he’d never make it as a hero. There was no question he’d fallen in love with the quiet boy who’d transferred in from general studies pretty early on, even if it took him until their third and final year for him to recognize it.
Sometimes he wondered if he would’ve tried to make a move had he known at that point that the feelings were returned. He hadn’t realized until they were a couple years out of UA that in the moments no one was looking, Shouta’s eyes held his heart as they watched him. There was a gentleness in his hands as he tended to Hizashi’s wounds after a rough encounter on patrol, a deeper worry in his eyes whenever he’d end up in the hospital. There was always the feeling of something unsaid that maybe took the more vocal man a bit of time to recognize, but it was something that most people wouldn’t have noticed at all.
What if he’d said something back then? Would they have had all this time together, all these years of the kisses and touches and more he’d dreamed about more nights than not? Would there have been date nights, and mornings waking up still wrapped up in each other? The whirl and ache of what-ifs surrounded him, the quiet of the hospital providing as perfect a breeding ground for them as his silent bedroom in the middle of the night.
He didn’t know how long he sat there, running his fingers through that black hair and occasionally humming to fill the silence. It was probably hours, if he had to guess, but days might be possible too. Shouta would’ve probably laughed to see him this silent. The corners of his lips kicked up the slightest fraction. He’d make some quip, something about it just taking him almost dying to shut Hizashi up. He’d elbow the shorter man, and throw back some comment in his own defense about Shouta actually laughing. But that would be if everything was normal.
If Shouta was awake.
It felt like more hours/days had passed as his eyes started to try to drift shut. He fought them, fought his own body to stay awake. He had to be awake if Shouta woke up, he had to.
The blond practically gave himself whiplash, his head snapped up so fast at that sound. It was just his name, muttered so quietly it could’ve been nothing but a groan. But that meant…
“’Zashi…?” The sound was a bit more definitive this time. Clearer, no mistaking that underneath those bandages his mouth was moving. He was awake. He was alive.
“I’m here Shou, I’m here,” Hizashi finally managed to bring himself to respond. His voice was rough and cracked, his throat dry. Didn’t really surprise him after the crying and the long period (for him) of silence.
“Kids?” Hizashi’s voice wasn’t the only one that was dry and cracked, but that was to be expected with everything Shouta had gone through. Just like he couldn’t help but smile a little at the question. Of course, the hard-ass teacher was asking if his students were okay.
“You saved them all, Shou, it’s fine,” His hand, he realized, had never stilled in his hair, continuing to provide them both with the silent comfort, “Midoriya busted himself up with his quirk, but nothing new there. They’re all alive. They’re all safe. Thirteen is pretty beat-up too, but they’ll pull through.”
The response was a grunt of relief. Much like the relief that coursed through Hizashi’s veins at hearing that rough, scratchy voice. It was a voice that, crazy as it may seem, reminded him of the mornings when they’d both be standing in the kitchen bleary-eyed and barely awake as they waited for the coffee to brew.
Shouta’s voice was always rough just after he’d woken up, and more than once, that low roughness had sent a shiver of pure desire down the blond’s spine. Hizashi generally figured the man to whom that voice belonged had no real idea what his voice was able to do to him. Maybe, if there was an actual chance for them at some point, then he’d tell him. He knew what he’d be opening himself up to, because there was an absolutely wicked sense of humor underneath all that exhaustion, but playing with him like that would be part of the fun, and if anyone ought to know that particular weakness of his…
“Hey ‘Zashi…?” He was speaking again. Even though he knew he should tell the wounded man to stop, the English teacher’s heart was clinging to every word spoken. If Shouta had more to say to him, he’d listen. He’d listen forever.
“Migh’ be ill… illogical… but… wanna… rewrite th’ stars with you…” Hizashi’s heart stopped at those words, and tears built up in his green eyes again. It was hard to believe this was happening, that he hadn’t fallen asleep and was dreaming. Biting his lip confirmed he was, in fact, still awake.
“I wanna rewrite them with you too, Shou. Now sleep so you can get better. We can talk more when you’re not covered in bandages,” Even knowing he couldn’t see him, Hizashi gave the bandaged man a watery grin. They had time now. They could talk about it. But… Shouta was alive. That was what mattered. Anything else could get sorted out. They had the chance again. It was time to take it.