“So, what did you want?”
In front of him, Yagi shifted, fiddling with his hands and darting his eyes around. Shouta almost rolled his eyes for the inevitable fumbling question about- work, probably.
They’d been getting closer recently: having lunches, going out to the occasional dinner. It was a good chance for Shouta to air his grievances about the way Yagi taught, though the other man seemed grateful for the incidental advice he was getting. Yagi had even dished out his own topics, asking about hero work or school work or the weather.
“I, uh,” Yagi said.
Problem was, it took him about ten minutes to speak his inquiries.
“You see,” Yagi continued, “we’ve been- getting closer, in the past few weeks, and I was kind of wondering- could we, maybe—if I’m not reading the situation wrong—become... more? Like, you know.”
He made an incomprehensive gesture with his hands. Shouta absolutely did not know.
“Become what?” he asked.
“You know,” Yagi insisted. He blushed, his hands were doing nervous acrobatics around each other, and Shouta decided to put him out of his misery.
“Yeah, alright,” he said.
Yagi beamed, still blushing, said a quick “I’ll see you later then!” and went off to teach his class. Shouta walked back to the staff lounge for his afternoon nap.
“So, what did he want?” Hizashi asked knowingly from the couch. He was smirking. Shouta hated that smirk.
“He was just asking if we could be friends,” he answered. He couldn’t see the smirk slip off of Hizashi’s face and fall into confusion from where he was in his sleeping bag.
“He thinks All Might was asking if they could be friends,” Hizashi said to Nemuri later that night.
Nemuri downed her drink and said, “That fucking dumbass.”
The conversation lulled when she went to get more drinks, but the moment she returned, Hizashi was on her again.
“Friends,” he said, as if stressing the word would make it less real.
“I heard you the first time,” Nemuri said. “Look, I know I just called Shouta a dumbass, but he’s not that stupid. He’ll figure it out when All Might tries to hold his hand or something.”
Hizashi put a sympathetic hand on her shoulder. “Nemuri, my bro from another hoe-”
“-you clearly overestimate our boy’s ability to function with, like, emotions and stuff. Did you know I had a crush on him in high school?”
“Everyone except him.”
Nemuri blinked in surprise. “I thought the two of you dated for like a year?”
“Nope!” Hizashi said. “I did everything—gave him chocolates, invited him to a fair, wrote him a confession letter—he thought it was all just friend stuff.”
“He thought a love letter was friend stuff?”
“Confession letter,” he corrected. “And he thought it was a joke someone else convinced me to try and play on him. He got pretty pissed.”
“Damn.” Nemuri considered her drink. “Damn.”
Hizashi nodded sagely. “Exactly.”
“All Might is going to think they’re dating for five years and Shouta is still going to think they’re being friendly.”
“They could get married, Hizashi,” Nemuri said. “They could live together and have sex once a week and adopt five kids and Shouta is going to think it’s regular friend stuff.”
“You seem oddly stressed by this.”
Nemuri thunked her head on the table. “They’re gonna live in a house with a white picket fence and a golden retriever and Shouta’s not gonna know they’re dating.”
“I think you’ve had enough to drink.”
She groaned and said a final, “This is going to be a nightmare.”
Shouta met Yagi at the gate after school. Yagi smiled and perked up when he saw him and, when Shouta got close enough, hugged him.
He hugged back after a moment of hesitation. Yagi seemed like the kind of person to be really affectionate toward his friends.
They stayed like that for an almost uncomfortable amount of time, before Yagi gave one last squeeze and pulled away. The smile on his face was softer, but no less affectionate.
“Where do you want to go tonight?” he asked.
Shouta shrugged and answered, “Wherever.”
Yagi set a hand on his chin as if he was about to stroke an invisible beard. It looked ridiculous. Shouta had to watch himself to keep from smiling.
“I could go for some burgers,” he suggested.
“Eh,” Shouta said, “I went to McDonald’s last week.”
“No, I mean a good burger place,” Yagi insisted. “Trust me.”
They walked to the train station side by side, close enough to brush arms. Sometimes, Shouta thought he could feel Yagi’s hand press against where he kept his in his pocket, but whenever he looked over Yagi had his head turned the other way.
The train station was empty. They stood together in silence, Yagi fidgeting and Shouta bored.
Shouta turned to look at Yagi. His face was flushed.
“Can we,” he started again, “uh, can we hold hands?”
He couldn’t keep his head flinching back in surprise or his eyes from widening a little. Yagi, still flushed, rubbed the back of his neck.
“Um, sorry,” he said. “Never mind. I didn’t mean to make you... uncomfortable.”
Well, Shouta thought, Yagi must like physical affection. It was probably within reasonable bounds to hold hands; it wasn’t as if he’d had too many friends in his life to compare.
“It’s fine,” he said. “I just didn’t expect it.”
Then he took his hand out of his pocket and wiggled it expectantly, and Yagi enthusiastically but gently grabbed it, linking their fingers together. His hand was clammy and warm, though it wasn’t an unwelcome feeling with the chilly air.
The two of them stood like that, not talking, until the train came. Shouta didn’t know when he was expected to stop holding Yagi’s hand, so he decided to wait until Yagi decided to let go.
They ended up holding hands all the way to the restaurant. It got pretty sweaty after a while, and Shouta would’ve liked to have a moment to at least wipe his hand off, but it might be rude to let go without any warning. At any rate, Yagi seemed fine with it.
(Toshinori was not fine. He was feeling both ecstatic to touch Aizawa and self-conscious at the way their palms slid with sticky moisture. He’d rather have a moment to wipe his hand off. Since Aizawa didn’t seem to be making a move to let go, though, he figured that he’d just have to suffer.)
“How many are we seating today?” the hostess asked with a bright smile. Her eyes darted briefly to their linked hands, but did not react otherwise.
“Two,” Yagi said.
She nodded and said, “Right this way.”
They were led to the back of a restaurant to a small booth. Shouta awkwardly hesitated before disentangling their hands and sitting down opposite of Yagi.
Yagi looked at him, looked away, then second guessed himself and determinedly stared into Shouta’s eyes. He stared back, not blinking.
Neither of them talked. His eyes began to burn. A flush was making its way onto Yagi’s face, and tears started to visibly pool in his eyes when the blush reached his ears.
The burn in his eyes got worse. His scar throbbed on his cheek.
“Fuck,” he said, and blinked rapidly. He got his eyedrops out from his pocket and squeezed a liberal amount into his eyes.
“Ha!” Yagi yelled, throwing his arms in the air. “I win!”
“Win what?” he asked.
“The, uh,” Yagi stuttered. “The. Staring contest?”
“Oh,” Shouta said. “Was that what it was?”
The blush, which had receded, returned full force on Yagi’s face. Shouta sighed.
“Relax,” he said tiredly. “I’m joking.”
They awkwardly fell back into silence. Yagi’s eyes were darting from him to the tabetop, his fingers fiddling with his bangs. Shouta decided to pick up his menu the same moment the waiter arrived.
“Decide on anything yet?” the waiter asked with the meniac grin of someone nearing the end of their shift.
“Uh, not yet?” Yagi said.
“Can I get anything to drink for you then?”
“Um,” Yagi said, finally picking up his own menu. He skimmed through the options on the back. “Can I get... water?”
The man nodded and jotted a word down on his notepad.
“And for you, sir?” he nodded at Shouta.
“Tea,” he said.
The waiter wrote it down, thanked them, and left. Shouta and Yagi went back to not talking.
The restaurant’s specialty was burgers, but it also had things like ribs and steak and a small selection of ramen. Shouta would have prefered a bowl of ramen. Since Yagi took him there for the burgers, he thought he should go with one of those.
When he made a decision, he closed his menu and put it down. Across from him, Yagi still hadn’t opened his.
“Aren’t you going to order some food?” he asked.
Yagi’s eyes jumped up from where he was fiddling with his shirt sleeves.
“Huh- what?” he said.
“Food,” Shouta said slowly, gesturing at the menu. Yagi blinked.
“Ah,” he said. He coughed. He picked up the menu, opened it, and gave a half-hearted sweep before putting it back down. “I’m actually not that hungry, so I’ll sit this one out.”
Shouta pointedly looked him up and down, lingering on his stick-thin arms and gaunt face. “Really,” he drawled.
Yagi hummed and nodded.
“Not hungry often?”
“When was the last time you ate?”
Yagi crossed his arms and leaned back against the booth.
“This afternoon,” he said shortly.
So he didn’t like it when people tried talking to him about how he ate. With the way he looked, Shouta wasn’t surprised.
“Was it a meal?” he asked insistently.
Yagi shrugged, face blank. Shouta rolled his eyes.
“You’re acting immature. Just pick something; I’ll pay.”
At that, emotion flooded back into Yagi’s eyes.
“You don’t have to do that!” he practically yelled. “I was the one who asked you to come here, so let me-”
“And I’m the one making you eat something,” Shouta said.
“You don’t have to,” Yagi told him.
“Maybe not, but I’d prefer you stay healthy.”
Yagi stared at him. Shouta stared back, though he didn’t really want to start another staring match.
Luckily, Yagi blinked before long. A small, sincere smile made its way onto his face, and he relaxed against the back of the booth. Shouta found himself absentmindedly smiling back.
That’s been happening more and more often around Yagi. It might turn into a bit of a problem, but he didn’t want to worry about it then.
The waiter returned long enough to get their orders—Yagi ended up getting a small caesar salad, which was good for his peace of mind—and the silence wasn’t nearly as awkward when he left.
“So,” Yagi said. He paused to cough and clear his throat. “So, I keep on wanting to ask about the students and their progress, but, well, we talk about that enough during our breaks, don’t we? I don’t really want to bring up work here.”
“Maybe not the best for this kind of outing,” Shouta agreed.
“Right,” Yagi nodded. “I, uh, don’t really know what else to talk about though?”
He shrugged. He was never much for conversation; Hizashi and Nemuri usually had that more than covered.
Yagi tapped his chin. “Well, we could always start simple.”
“How?” Shouta asked.
Yagi smiled at him and said, “What’s your favorite animal?”
A grin creeped on to his lips. Now, this was something Shouta could talk about all day.
Their food and drinks arrived without much fanfare; the waiter didn’t even say anything, since they were so entrenched in conversation.
They discovered, among other things, that they both liked cats (Shouta had two and Yagi had one), they weren’t huge fans of sweets, they lived off caffeine, and they had an unfortunate inclination for cheesy rom-coms, though Shouta wasn’t willing to mention this until Yagi told him about his favorite movie.
When the conversation started rolling so did the time. It wasn’t long until their food was gone and Shouta was finishing up his second cup of tea.
“You two ready for your check?” a new waitress asked them.
Shouta was about to answer no, when, with a start, he realized that their plates were empty and there was nothing keeping them there.
“Yeah,” he said.
The waitress left. Neither Yagi or Shouta made a move to talk, but the air was comfortable and speaking didn’t feel like an obligation. Yagi’s finger was tracing patterns on the table, gradually getting closer to Shouta’s hand. He didn’t think much of it until Yagi’s fingers started playing with his.
He furrowed his brows. Even Hizashi, touchy-feely as he was, never did something like that. Yagi must be more affectionate than he thought.
Of course All Might would take friendship as an invitation to get cuddly, he decided.
The check arrived, Shouta paid it—despite Yagi’s half-hearted arguments—and they were out in the fall air.
He shivered. He forgot how cold it was.
“Do you, uh,” Yagi stuttered. “Want. An arm?”
“What?” Shouta asked, giving him an uncomprehending look.
Yagi covered his mouth and cleared his throat. The blush was back. He’d been blushing a lot that day.
“Do you want me to put my arm- um- around you? Over your shoulder?”
Shouta pulled out his phone and looked at the time. “Nah,” he answered. “I need to head home now. See you tomorrow.”
Yagi shoulders hunched and his hands were shoved in his pockets. “Oh,” he said. “Would you... want to do this again? Sometime?”
“Sure,” he said, shrugging. He turned to walk off, but was stopped by Yagi.
“Wait!” he shouted. “Shouldn’t we trade... numbers? To text? And such?”
Shouta raised an eyebrow and said, “I’m surprised you know how to text, old man.”
Yagi seemed mildly insulted and opened his mouth to protest, so Shouta distracted him by shoving his phone at him.
“Here,” he said, “type in your number.”
That did the trick. Yagi grabbed his phone, slight forgotten, and tapped at it for a couple seconds before giving it back. Shouta saved his number under the contact name “off brand bunny”.
He sent a quick “hey,” nodded, and walked off with a, “See you later.”
Shouta wasn’t really much for socializing, but having Yagi as a friend was alright so far.