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Feet First Into the Water

Chapter Text

It’s drizzling outside, the sky a murky grey. Shōta contemplates the droplets hitting the window of the office and sighs, shrugging his capture weapon more comfortably around his shoulders as he returns to his desk.

“You look pissed,” Hizashi comments, flicking through a book. His feet are on Shōta’s desk, Hizashi himself lounging in Shōta’s chair. He sets the book down with a bored frown, wheeling around until he faces Shōta, hands on his lap.

“It’ll take me twice as long to get home,” Shōta comments dryly, though they both know that’s neither here nor there in the grand scheme of things.

“Sure, sure,” Hizashi says, waving a hand in the air. “And nothing to do with the fact you agreed to go out with Nemuri tonight, sure, sure.”

Shōta rolls his eyes at Hizashi, refusing to admit he’s hit the nail on the head. In a moment of weakness (an almost 47-hour stint of being awake, a 3-hour block of Hizashi talking and a 20-minute lecture from Nemuri on the importance of texting her to let her know he’d gotten home safely the night before, could cause even the strongest of wills to cave), Shōta had promised to accompany Nemuri to a singles’ bar tonight.

“You might get laid?” Hizashi ventures, though he can’t contain his smile.

“Sure,” Shōta agrees. It’s one reason he’s gone before, though more often than not, it’s the promise of free coffee, food, and something to fill the awkward time between work and underground hero-ing. He lives in a quieter part of the city, though it makes for an annoyance when commuting the nights he works both jobs.

“It’s a soulmate single’s bar though,” Shōta finishes and can’t help but smirk at the horrified look on Hizashi’s face.

“She got you to agree to a soulmate bar!?” he screeches, though his quirk is inactive. Shōta sighs, ducking his chin into his capture weapon, nudging it to cover half of his face.

“I was going to cancel…” Shōta trails off, closing his eyes and shrugging. It’s not that he believes he’ll find his soulmate, if he even wants to, but he promised, and Nemuri wants to believe in all that crap, so why not?

“You’re such a softie,” Hizashi comments, stretching his arms up. There’s a pop and a sigh of relief, and then Hizashi jumps up, grinning. “You’re going because you think Nemuri wants to find her soulmate, while she’s going because she thinks you need to find yours.”

Shōta doesn’t reply, doesn’t even dignify Hizashi with any semblance of a response. He’d figured out that much when Nemuri had messaged him the day after he’d agreed, after he’d finally slept and not had an earful from each of his friends. Of course Nemuri was trying to set him up, to find his happiness as she put it, and Shōta was defenceless against her kindness.

“You’re invited too,” Shōta tries, but Hizashi just laughs.

“Text me,” he says instead, grabbing his bag and heading for the door. “I’ll see you on Sunday for brunch, bye bye!”

The train is packed, commuters avoiding the rain, and getting to the location of the bar takes about as long as Shōta had predicted. The event is in full swing by the time he gets there, his jumpsuit soaked through and capture weapon hanging limp, but he texts Nemuri dutifully, as promised, announcing his arrival. She takes all of thirty seconds to head outside, hair flying everywhere as she grabs him in a hug, pulling back and shaking her head at his appearance.

“Good thing it’s a soulmates event then,” she says, gesturing to the swirl of ink on her shoulder, pulsing with the steps she takes to drag Shōta inside. “Not that you’d see a thing with that jumpsuit.”

Inside, it’s warm. Shōta lets himself be dragged to the bar, and Nemuri orders him a beer. It’s cheap and cool, and they lean against the bar, surveying the room together.

“They’ll be doing the touch-test in a short while,” Nemuri comments, and Shōta hums into his bottle. “Make sure you stay for that at least.”

It’s a ridiculous way to spend an evening, but Shōta has to admit it’s one of the few ways to spend time with Nemuri right now. She’s busy with a big hero case, top secret apparently, and it’s even taken her away from their standard weekly brunches. She’d apologised, of course, but this singles night had been an olive branch. Shōta suspects she’s on the job, a thought confirmed by the fact that the fruity drink Nemuri is sipping on hasn’t even seen alcohol, much less contains it.

“You’re not in danger,” Shōta says, and Nemuri looks at him sharply, understanding it to be a question. She smiles, all deep red lipstick and white teeth, and shakes her head, hooped earrings clinking against each other.

“It’s observation only. The risk is minimal, but it was a great opportunity and could be the big break we need. I can’t tell you how sick I am of working all this overtime,” Nemuri giggles as someone passes by, leaning into Shōta as if he’s telling her a ridiculous story. She sways, as if tipsy, and Shōta steadies her, squeezing her side in assurance he will be there if she needs him.

The singles’-night-turned-case is boring. Someone with a microphone announces it’s time for the touching, and Shōta shudders at the thought. They line up, moving around the room one at a time and letting their hands graze each other, until everyone has touched everyone. No one’s hands show the bloom of soulmates, and while there are some disappointed murmurs, the likelihood of one finding one’s soulmate in a dive like this is low, and they all know it.

Now that they have the potential soulmate-or-not issue resolved, the room can return to doing what drunk people do best; trying to hook up with one another. It’s something Shōta has done in the past, more often than he’d admit, but he’s not feeling it. There’s a strange atmosphere around, and he hopes it’s just Nemuri’s words grating his nerves. Shōta doesn’t like not knowing the worst case scenario on a case, and if Nemuri’s evening goes south, he has no idea what worst case could be.

“I have a name,” Nemuri says, about an hour later. Her lipstick has worn slightly, and Shōta saw her sneak to the bathroom with an older man a short while ago. She blinks at him, and Shōta loops an arm around her shoulders, guiding them out of the door. Nemuri slips gum from her handbag, leaning into him as she offers him some.

“After weeks of stalling, one blowjob got me further in this case than anyone else has.” Nemuri’s cheeks are pink, and Shōta pulls her closer. He knows she enjoys the thrill of seduction, even enjoys the sexual acts she performs, but she hates the way others talk about her and her skills.

“It’s just another skillset,” Nemuri had said, years before, squashed between Hizashi and Shōta on their raggedy couch. “I enjoy punching, and I enjoy swallowing down a dick, I’m good at both of those things. One of them gets me the information I want more times than the other, so why-“

She’d been crying, still young and eager to please the world. She’d gotten her job done using all the means she felt happy using, but her reputation and, well, the fact she was a woman, had done more damage than not. It was an attitude that hadn’t changed, but Nemuri had. She kept her seductions quiet, enjoyed them as she could and was a hundred times more brutal in extracting exactly what information she wanted from the encounters.

“Let’s stop by the 24hr convenience store,” Shōta says, and Nemuri hums in agreement. “You can pay,” he says, and she laughs, stepping out of his embrace.

“You know how to treat a girl,” Nemuri jokes, and Shōta sees the moment she decides she wants to discuss his (lack of) love life in the way her face shutters, caution crossing it.

“You know,” Nemuri begins, and Shōta tunes out. He’s not interested in finding his soulmate or forming any kind of emotional bond. He has his friends, he has his students, he has his coworkers. There’s nothing else Shōta needs. What could a soulmate provide that he did not have?

There are a few people in the store when they enter. Out of habit, Shōta checks them all briefly; a tall, skinny man stands before the canned produce, a group of teenagers is whispering by the magazines, a harried woman with a sleeping baby strapped to her chest is pouring over the medicines with the store clerk, shaking her head. There’s another man, elderly and making his way through the same aisle they’re in, but that’s it.

Nemuri picks up instant noodles and some other bits she claims to need, dragging Shōta to the fresh produce section. They pass the skinny man, still weighing up two different types of canned vegetables, and Shōta notices the flicker of an inkblot, travelling down the man’s arm, spiralling around his elbow and pausing. It’s an odd thing to notice, and Shōta catches himself staring as Nemuri pillages the fresh fruit, claiming a sudden craving for strawberries.

It’s the wrong time of year, but Shōta is too busy wondering what the fluctuating inkblot at the skinny man’s elbow means to tell her she’ll be getting tasteless lumps. He’s never seen anyone’s soulmate mark behave like that, as if it is trying to escape the man’s skin altogether, and he goes to tap Nemuri’s shoulder, to ask what she thinks this means, when there is a huge bang, and the entire convenience store loses its gravity.

Fucking kids, Shōta thinks, for the kids are all holding onto each other, one in the middle with their arms thrown out and a cocky grin on their face, rooted to the floor.

“We’re robbing this joint!” one of the teenagers shouts, and Shōta almost doesn’t have the heart to erase the gravity quirk. They’ve learnt all of this from some shitty American movie, that’s for sure, and Nemuri laughs as the kids start to shuffle over to the till.

They don’t, of course, get their chance to steal the money. As Shōta uses one of the shelves to manoeuvre himself through the store, there is a scream from the baby. Except the baby doesn’t just scream, it projectile vomits, bright green liquid pouring over the teenagers. It’s gross, Shōta feels his stomach pull tight as the smell washes through the store, but it does the job. The teenagers break concentration to freak out, and everyone is dropped to the floor.

“Well that was different,” Nemuri comments loudly. She’s close to the elderly man and begins to help him up. Shōta has migrated closer to the skinny can man, both of them sprawled ungainly on the floor.

“Are you alright?” the skinny man asks. He’s sitting up, and Shōta is amazed to find that both cans are still in his hands. He blinks, the man peering at him cautiously, and Shōta nods.

“And yourself?” he returns, and the man gives him a soft smile, holding the cans up and smiling. His elbows are free of his inkblot, Shōta notices, and he tries to ignore the curiosity that stirs in him. He’s not going to ask this stranger about his soulmark, that’s not something anyone does, no matter how weird Shōta thinks it is.

“As good as I’ll ever be. I’ll take it as a sign to get both cans, I think,” he adds, and Shōta finds himself smiling.

Though he aches slightly after being dropped so unceremoniously on the floor, Shōta stands. The man also makes his way to his feet, though it looks like a painful effort, and twice Shōta almost moves forward to help. He doesn’t, and turns to survey their surroundings, noting that Nemuri is already securing the teenagers. It’s probably an overkill to restrain them, what with being covered in quirk-vomit and all.

“What a useful quirk,” the skinny man comments, and Shōta huffs a laugh.

“I’m glad we weren’t on the receiving end,” he says, looking to his companion. There’s a shadow of movement under the shoulder of the man’s white, baggy shirt, and Shōta wonders what it is about this man’s soulmark that is so alive it is practically jumping off of him.

“I am so sorry,” the baby’s mother says, rushing around the corner to the two of them. The baby is settled against her chest, sleeping peacefully, and Shōta envies it a little. If only vomiting on things solved all of his problems.

“Please, let me cover your groceries,” the mother says, looking for all the world as if she is about to cry. Shōta has no idea what to say, but he doesn’t have to.

“Thank you, ma’am,” his companion says, the swirl of his soulmark briefly dipping to his elbow before slipping out of Shōta’s view entirely. The man has taken the woman’s hands in his own, pressing tightly. It calms the woman, and she smiles instead of cries, and when their hands fall, places one on her child’s head.

“Your baby is a hero,” the man says softly, and Shōta looks away, afraid for an absurd moment that he is intruding. He decides to leave the strange man, moving through the shop and wrinkling his nose as the smell of vomit intensifies as he joins Nemuri, who is in full swing of explaining the situation to the police.

He just wants to go home now, so Shōta settles their grocery bill with the bemused shop clerk, telling him to keep the change, and takes himself off to wait for Nemuri outside. He half hopes he’ll see the skinny man before Nemuri appears, and when the door opens, Shōta forces himself to keep still, lest he reveal himself.

“Come on you,” Nemuri says, linking their arms together as they continue on their evening adventure. “My mouth tastes of dick and vomit, I’m crashing at yours tonight.”

Shōta expected nothing less; his apartment has the better shower. They carry on into the night, trying not to smell the vomit clinging to them and doing their best to avoid the weird looks they receive. Shōta doesn’t dwell on the man with the strange soulmark.

Or, rather, he tries not to.

.

At brunch, Shōta mentions it in passing as something that has happened to someone he knows. Both Hizashi and Nemuri see right through his question, of course, but they’re both polite enough to ignore it for now. Or, Shōta thinks, they want to know the juicy details and don’t want to scare him off of telling them why exactly he wants to know about moving ink marks.

“Well,” Hizashi starts off, drawling the word out for a good ten seconds. He sips his coffee and taps the table as he thinks. “Ink marks only move for soulmates.”

“Close,” Nemuri says around a mouthful of rice. “They move towards soulmates when they are in the same area. So if any of us were soulmates, the closest part of our bodies would now host our soulmark. If I put my hand by you, my fingertips would hold my ink mark.” She swallows, wiggling her fingers in Shōta’s direction.

Shōta knows this. This stuff is what they learnt in their early days at school, but it doesn’t explain the man’s mark.

“Then why was this man’s mark being weird?” Shōta asks, raising an eyebrow and trying to make his point.

The table is silent, and Shōta’s eyes flicker to Hizashi, who is staring at Shōta as if he’s said something unbelievably dumb. Usually it’s Hizashi on the receiving end of the look, and Shōta hates it.

“What?” he asks, fingers curling around his coffee mug. “I’m not lying about what I saw.”

“Shōta,” Hizashi says slowly, carefully, as if he’s dancing around a delicate issue. “We don’t think you’re lying.” He shoots Nemuri a look, and when Shōta looks in her direction, she’s hiding a smile.

“Think about it,” she says, moving to eat some more of her food. “The soulmate ink mark only moves towards soulmates. I doubt you were paying attention to your own, but you noticed this man’s moving…”

Shōta blinks. He thinks about it, and then blinks again, realisation flooding him.

“You have got to be shitting me,” he says, and both Hizashi and Nemuri burst into a horrifically ugly cackle. They are the worst friends Shōta could ever have asked for.

“What’s his name? I doubt you got his number, but I can call in a favour at the police station,” Nemuri says, and Shōta grips his coffee mug tighter, the realisation that he’s met his soulmate sinking in.

“Shōta?” Nemuri probes, Hizashi still snorting into his breakfast.

“I have no idea,” he says blandly, and Hizashi chokes on his mouthful of coffee.

“Dude, come on now,” Hizashi says, eyebrows raising as Shōta looks at him, not even a hint of a joke on his face. “Seriously Shōta?”

Instantly, Shōta feels defensive. It’s not his fault he forgot what moving soulmarks mean, or was distracted by the vomiting super-baby or thinking about Nemuri buying cheap shit for dinner.

“You know, for a smart guy, you’re really dumb,” Hizashi says, sighing as he butters some bread.

“And that’s coming from a guy who wanted to know where ‘abroad’ was, because everyone was going there on holiday,” Nemuri says with a wince, crossing her arms over her chest. Hizashi looked up, scandalised, before nodding in acceptance.

Shōta feels like an idiot.

“Look, we all know how you feel about the soulmate thing, so who cares! I know loads of people who are dating outside of their soulmarks, and they’re as happy as anything. If you want to try and track this dude down, I’m all for it, but you’ve never cared before.” Hizashi looks at Shōta with narrowed eyes. “The vomit-baby can’t have made you believe in love at first sight, right?”

Shōta sits back in his chair, thinking.

“Maybe I’ve been wrong this whole time,” Shōta comments. He’s never cared about soulmates and ink marks before, never really thought about it enough to have an opinion. Shōta had never really assumed it would happen to him and so had never dedicated energy to it.

“Told you he was soft,” Nemuri says, though there’s only fondness in her words. “There are plenty of platonic soulmates too. Your soulmate is someone who should be in your life, romantically or otherwise. It won’t hurt to find him.”

That is something Shōta has an answer to, at least, and he shakes his head.

“I’m not chasing him down,” he says, and drains his coffee cup.

“A soft-hearted bastard,” Nemuri adjusts her earlier comment, and Hizashi raises his cup in toast.

“To Shōta Shōta: the only dipshit brave enough to let the only person who could ever put up with him go!” Hizashi shouts, and Shōta rolls his eyes as Nemuri slaps Hizashi’s arm, berating him for his volume, not the choice of words.

Shōta is content to drink his coffee and let his mind drift, unexpected thoughts still caught up with the idea of having a soulmate.

.

Three weeks after Shōta meets his soulmate, Shōta meets All Might.

They have met, technically, before, though Shōta doubts All Might remembers it. It had been a huge case, one Shōta had briefly been asked to consult on before they brought in the big guns. Instead of a covert operation, brute force had been used, and for once, Shōta had agreed with the tactic. He’d passed All Might in a corridor, been introduced along with the handful of other heroes he was with, and that had been that. Nothing for All Might to remember.

This time, it’s a bit more dramatic, and involves what seems to be half the top heroes in the area. The emergency alert had lit up Shōta’s phone just as he was thinking about heading to bed, the highest level alert they could get.

Heart in his mouth, Shōta had fled his house, scanning the night sky for a sign of an explanation. Something this huge, something that would cause all heroes within a ten mile radius to get there ASAP, had to be something obvious, right?

“Five coach loads of school kids are in this warehouse,” the Chief of Police, Kenji, says, ten minutes after Shōta arrives. The room isn’t as crowded as Shōta had hoped, and he keeps his focus as Kenji details the case.

“We’ve received a tip that there are six other warehouses, each with the same amount of kids inside. Some of them have been driven from halfway across the country to be here, though we still don’t know why they have chosen Musutafu for this attack. Others are being briefed at other locations.” Kenji has a presentation up on the wall behind him, and the next slide clicks on.

“The reason we called so many of you in is because they are in the possession of a deadly chemical that could end life as we know it.” Kenji’s frown deepens and Shōta feels his stomach churn. IF this goes south, things are going to be Very, Very Bad.

They’re given their plan, to infiltrate the building, get the hostages out, and get rid of the chemical. It sounds easy on paper, but Shōta knows how quickly things can go wrong.

“Eraserhead,” Kenji says, and the room turns to him. Shōta straightens, coming out of his capture weapon a little more, and nods.  “You will be leading the infiltration.”

Shōta’s stomach sinks, but he nods his head all the same. He’s not great on the front lines, but he will manage.

“All Might will be your back up, you two are to secure the hostages,” Kenji says, turning to someone Shōta knows as having an air manipulation quirk, detailing the plan for them to deal with the chemicals.

The room moves, teams forming, and Shōta waits. He’s already seen All Might moving around the room, his characteristic smile darting out only briefly as he apologises for pushing past people. By the time he’s at Shōta’s side, his mouth is set in a grim, determined line, eyes full of fury.

“Eraserhead,” he greets Shōta, offering a hand to shake. “I’d prefer to make your acquaintance under better circumstances.”

Shōta takes the firm, gloved hand, his hand itching under his own gloves. All Might is too big, too warm, and Shōta needs to get his head in the game to save these kids. He’s a professional, a teacher to boot, and he takes a breath, grounding himself as his hand falls to his side.

“I’ve been on the core team the entirety of this investigation,” All Might explains, setting papers down. Shōta hadn’t even registered they were in his free hand and curses himself. Now is not the time to be distracted by All Might, and he looks at the plans and diagrams as All Might looms over him, drawing his attention to the important bits.

“I’d feel more comfortable with you leading based on the intel we have,” All Might says, finally taking the seat beside Shōta.

Shōta takes a few minutes to read the information again. It’s not much, but he works out an entry point and from there can formulate a plan. They’ll have to trust their instincts more than ever, and if there’s any whiff of their intrusion that gets back to the villains, it’s game over. He tells All Might the scrapped together plan he has, and the smile returns. It fills Shōta with confidence. They can do this.

They moved out as a group, though they split off when they reach the warehouse. Shōta makes one last check of his earpiece, shoots one, small smile at All Might, and then they head into the mission.

They scale the warehouse and break in through one of the windows, All Might pulling the window clean of the frame as Shōta prepares to deal with anyone who might notice the small pop. No one comes running, so they continue, though it’s a tight fit for All Might. Shōta pauses, about to ask if All Might is okay, and receives a thumbs up as he finishes clambering through, as if this is a relatively safe mission at U.A.

They move in surprising silence, and Shōta is impressed at how silently All Might carries himself around. He shouldn’t be this surprised, but All Might’s public persona is so full of pomp and attention that it is hard to believe the same man is sneaking about a warehouse with Shōta.

He feels shame prickle the back of his neck at the thought. Of course All Might can do this. All Might didn’t get to be the Number One by brute force alone. He’s smart, smarter than Shōta has ever given him credit for, and he is someone Shōta could trust now.

They locate the hostages, let the rest of the team know, and begin moving into place, ready for when the chemical team is ready to strike. It’ll be a coordinated attack, one they have to make sure is made in synchronicity with the attacks on the other warehouses. Kenji might not have gone too far into detail about the chemical, but if one of the warehouses leaked they were being attacked, another could release it.

“No pressure,” All Might breaths beside him, cocky grin on his face. Shōta huffs a laugh, nodding his head.

They’re crouched together in the rafters, Shōta poised to swoop down and get the kids while All Might deals with the five villains they have guarding them. It’s an oddly peaceful moment, a calm before the storm, and Shōta takes a split second to blink, preparing himself for a night of chronic dry-eye.

And then they get the go-ahead.

They explode from the rafters, Shōta coasting down his capture weapon. All Might has already handled one of the villains and is onto the next one, quick and silent. The kids, and all of them have to be below seven, look at Shōta as he smiles at them, doing what All Might can’t right now.

“It’ll be alright,” he says, and Shōta will never, ever, admit he says the next words. “All Might is here.”

It works, and the children that had been about to bolt calm, eyes drifting to where All Might is wrestling against tentacles. They’re compliant now, some even smiling and clapping as All Might pushes the villain back, and Shōta herds them together, looking for his opening.

There’s a door to the side and, as Shōta points to it, trying to keep the group of around fifty kids together, he uses his communication device to call the support team. They’ll be waiting for the kids, and Shōta can help All Might finish the job.

He spins on his heel, narrowly missing a blob of acid as it splashes against All Might’s arm. He’s taken the brunt of the attack, grunting at the strain his arm is under, and Shōta moves forward.

“Get the other one,” he orders, quirk active as the acid-villain tries to vomit more up. And, really, what is it with the vomit quirks lately?

All Might hasn’t even hesitated to follow Shōta’s orders, pummelling the other remaining villain to the ground and ignoring their weak attempts to manifest their speed quirk. Too slow, Shōta thinks, and grins as his acid-villain crumples to the floor, wrapped in his capture weapon.

There is quiet in the warehouse as All Might draws back, dusting his hands off on each other. He’s clearly held back on the villains, but the damage is clear. The only one capable of speaking is the one Shōta has, and he’s not unwrapping their mouth anytime soon, jaw shut tightly.

“Nice work,” All Might compliments quietly, eyes staring down at the villain, and Shōta wonders how heavy that gaze is. “The police should be here any moment.”

As he says it, the main door to the warehouse flies open, officers streaming in to contain the villains and start the clean up. All Might is beaming, hands on his hips as he declares everything is alright, and Shōta relaxes his weapon as his villain is detained, winding it slowly back around his neck. All Might is busy talking to the police, so Shōta waits, unsure what his purpose is here now.

As he’s speaking, All Might turns slightly, throwing his acid-burnt arm behind him, gesturing to the warehouse. The motion catches Shōta’s eye, not for the burnt skin or reason for waving, but for the inked mass swirling, creeping down All Might’s arm, closer to Shōta.

What the fuck?

Shōta blinks, watching as All Might returns his arm to his side, the mark vanishing back under his suit to, presumably, the closest bit of skin All Might has to Shōta right now. There are too many questions running through Shōta’s head, so he steps forward, again and again until he is closest to the back of All Might’s arm, staring at the back of his elbow intensely. For his credit, All Might glances his way, smile crinkling the corners of his eyes for a brief moment, before launching into his description of Eraserhead’s tactics. It means Shōta doesn’t need to speak, and he focuses on the inkblot curling its way down the back of All Might’s arm.

There isn’t an easy way for Shōta to pull his gloves off, but he does it anyway, taking both of them off, moving his arms until they’re no longer the closest part of his body to All Might, and tucking them in his belt. He glances at All Might, and the police officer, to make sure they’re occupied, and lets his hand wander to his side.

Shōta doesn’t look down right away. He plays it cool, builds up his courage, and resists the urge to snatch his hand back when he does look down.

There, dancing over his fingertips, is his inkblot-soulmark. He grits his jaw, glad for his capture scarf, and makes to ease his hands back into his gloves. All he has to do it avoid being close to All Might’s injured arm and Shōta can pretend none of this ever happened. It sounds like a good plan, at least until All Might claps him on the shoulder.

Electricity bursts through Shōta and he straightens, sure his eyes are as wide as dinner plates. The police officer, still bent over their notepad, hasn’t noticed, but Shōta meets All Might’s eyes and feels panic breeze through him. All Might’s smile hasn’t faltered, he hasn’t moved in amazement that he’s found his soulmate, and Shōta feels himself un-tense. All Might can’t have realised what Shōta was doing, but he needs to get away Right. Now.

“I’m going to check the kids are okay,” he mumbles, All Might’s hand slipping from him as he backs off. The smile All Might wears tones down just a notch as he watches Shōta turn away, and Shōta tries not to feel too guilty about running away from All Might. He knows how much All Might likes thanking the team, and Shōta was the driving force of their plan. Usually there would be at least a drink offer, or something, and Shōta imagines All Might isn’t used to rejection.

Shōta just cannot deal with this right now. Fuck, he can’t even deal with the fact he met his soulmate in a convenience store where a baby hacked its guts up to save the day. Now he has to contemplate the existence of two soulmates, and how he’s never fucking heard of such a thing.

Of course it would have to be his life.

The children are fine, a little shocked and scared, but they watch Shōta without fear as he crouches down, making sure they are okay. The medical team are making their way through the group, and Shōta is glad to see that they’re all physically untouched.

There’s one more stop to make before Shōta can check out, and he finds Kenji surrounded by officers, nodding as reports file into him. He’s in full decision-making mode, but he holds a hand up for Shōta to come closer, everyone moving back a step.

“I’m heading off,” Shōta says, jerking his head to the warehouse behind them, hands tucked into his pockets. “All Might is giving our report. He could do with a medic looking at his arm; we had an acid villain,” Shōta adds, and Kenji regards him carefully, nodding after a few seconds.

“Thank you for your help,” he says politely. “We will organise payment to be sent within the week. You did us all a great service.”

The words are warming, but Shōta doesn’t need them. He was doing his job, nothing more, nothing less.

It’s late when he enters his home. He strips down in the middle of his lounge, kicking a pile of clothes, accessories and shoes close to the couch. Shōta groans as he feels the pull of his muscles kick in, his body finally realising it’s been pushed into action when all it wanted to do was sleep. He scoops his phone out of his pocket and moves.

Forcing himself across his apartment, Shōta crawls into bed in his underwear and socks. He toes them off after a minute, sighing as his phone rolls off the bed. It’s effort to reach out and grab it, but Shōta needs to call an emergency meeting tomorrow break time.

Keying in his message, Shōta’s eyes fall half-closed, though his mind wanders. He doesn’t know what it means to have two soulmates, and he needs Nemuri to tell him. She knows about all this shit, can tell Shōta he’s just having a stress-related moment. Shadows can look like inkblots, right, so it could have been that.

While he knows he’ll regret it in the morning, Shōta doesn’t bother hooking his phone up to the charger. Instead, he closes his eyes, grabs one of his pillows to stuff over his head to block the world out, and shuts his eyes.

.

 

Chapter Text

“He’s alive,” Hizashi’s voice shouts, and Shōta groans, tucking his knees closer to his chest as he hears rummaging around in his room. “Come on, lazy daisy! Rise and shine, princess!”

“Get the fuck up!” Nemuri’s voice interjects, and Shōta obeys Hizashi’s previous commands, knowing any hope of more sleep is dashed. He glances at his alarm clock, remembers it hasn’t actually been working in weeks, and then sits up, blinking at his home invaders.

“You didn’t show for brunch,” Hizashi offers in explanation, sitting on the bed. He smells of coffee and pastries, a sign that they weren’t worried enough about him to sit out on brunch.

“I knew you got home safely after last night, I had to go in this morning to begin the closing paperwork,” Nemuri says, and Shōta stifles a yawn, brushing his hair out of his eyes and wincing at the waft of his own morning breath he’s subject to.

“I didn’t charge my phone,” he offers, and Nemuri rolls her eyes.

“You’ll have about 200 messages from us. We figured you were exhausted after last night.” Nemuri pats Hizashi’s head, fingers twirling his hair around. Hizashi is smiling in bliss, and Shōta smiles to himself, glad to have the pair of them.

“We’re gonna get your breakfast ready. Please shower and clean up then meet us in the kitchen,” Nemuri says, and Shōta can’t say no to that.

Shōta showers quickly, more of a quick scrub and rinse than anything, though he does wash his hair properly. He brushes his teeth, remembers to moisturise, and then heads out in a plain t-shirt and sweatpants, hair tied up. True to her word, Nemuri has made breakfast for him, and Hizashi is busy pouring coffee as if he’s Shōta’s housewife.

“Here you are, darling,” Hizashi comments, leaning on the counter in what he probably imagines is a seductive pose. He snorts in laughter before leaving the counter entirely, moving to the couch to sprawl, feet on the coffee table.

“Now the case is over, I can finally enjoy some peace,” Nemuri says as she and Shōta head to the couches. “Thank you for your help in it,” she says, and Shōta nods. He’d suspected last night that it was Nemuri’s case, and perhaps she had worked with All Might and would be able to answer his questions.

“Thirteen was on my team,” Nemuri continues, lounging back in the armchair, arms over the back. Shōta nudges Hizashi until there’s enough room on the couch. “I heard you got All Might.”

She is curious, of course, as all of them are whenever All Might works amongst the common folk. Everyone is fascinated by All Might, Shōta is no exception, and he’s sure both Nemuri and Hizashi want him to spill the beans on how amazing All Might’s muscles were as they fought villains side by side, saving the day together.

“It was…” Shōta looks for the right word, sipping his coffee. “Odd.”

“Odd,” Hizashi repeats, tilting his head as Shōta glances his way, and he doesn’t know how he’s supposed to explain he might have All Might as a soulmate, that he might have two soulmates.

“Is it…” Shōta pauses, frowning and setting his coffee down. He hasn’t touched his food yet, but he doesn’t think he’ll be able to unless he gets this off of his chest. “Can you have more than one soulmate?”

Instantly, Nemuri has moved forward, making worrying noises. Hizashi, likewise, has shifted, sitting upright next to Shōta, both of them circling him in support.

“If this is about the convenience store guy, sure he wasn’t your typical type, but as I said, he might be the platonic kind of soulmate. And I’m sure we can find him, it’s not like you only have one chance to meet your soulmate and it’s gone forever, you know? There will be security footage and-“

Shōta interrupts Nemuri with a raised hand and the shake of his head.

“I don’t mean… it’s not that I…” Shōta sighs, closing his eyes.

“There was an acid-spitting villain last night,” Shōta begins, ignoring the way Hizashi stiffens, as if he’s dying to ask whether that was Shōta’s soulmate and that is why he’s asking for a do-over. “He spat some acid on All Might’s arm, enough to ruin his suit enough for skin to show.”

There was silence, and Shōta winced. He’d hoped that would be enough for them to understand what he was getting at, but apparently the one time he wanted them to be sharp, their brains were elsewhere.

“I saw his soulmark. I tested mine too. They moved to each other,” Shōta says hurriedly, eyes still shut tightly. He doesn’t see the reaction, but he hears the sharp inhales.

“What,” Hizashi says quietly, and Shōta opens his eyes to see Hizashi turning his head to Nemuri, back to Shōta, and then to Nemuri again. “What?”

For once, Nemuri just shrugs, mouth open slightly. She looks as lost as Shōta feels, and the uncomfortable feeling in his gut grows. Neither of them can help him, and Shōta hates it.

“You’re sure about this?” Nemuri asks, pulling her phone from her pocket. She’s no doubt busy searching the internet and posting on message boards, and Shōta reaches for his food, suddenly starving.

“I’m sure I saw convenience-store-guy’s mark move, and I’m sure I saw All Might’s mark move,” Shōta confirms.

“Two soulmates,” Hizashi murmurs, tapping the side of his jaw, “that’s something straight from a soap opera.”

“Hizashi!” Nemuri snaps, still tapping away at her phone, but Shōta laughs, surprising even himself. Of course it would be his luck to not only find and then lose his soulmate, but to gain another in just a few weeks.

“It is!” Hizashi hisses, and Shōta shoots him a sympathetic look. It’s true.

“It’s not possible, is it?” Shōta asks Nemuri. She taps at her screen a few times, shakes her head, taps a few more times, and then sighs.

“I’ve never heard of it,” she admits, and the knot in Shōta’s stomach tightens. “Whatever bond a person has with their soulmate, platonic, romantic, sexual, everyone has one person they can connect with. There is one person out there for all of us, that’s destiny,” Nemuri parrots from an old advertisement they all used to mock as teenagers.

“But you have two,” she says, and the words hang heavy in the air.

“At least you know who the second dude is,” Hizashi points out, and Shōta wants his couch to eat him. How on earth can knowing All Might is the ‘second dude’ be a positive for Shōta. He says as much, and Hizashi shrugs.

“All I’m saying is if you want to talk to one of your soulmates, you lost barf-baby guy. All Might is your easiest option, my man,” Hizashi says, patting Shōta’s shoulder twice. He’s got the condescending look on his face that Hizashi is convinced looks sympathetic. Shōta’s made it clear before it’s not.

“There is no way in hell I am going to All Might,” Shōta responds. He can appreciate All Might. He can work with All Might. He can even think All Might is a damned good – if flashy and sometimes irresponsible – hero. He can not go to All Might, however.

The look on Hizashi’s face is, Shōta realises, disappointment, and it stings, cutting through the knot of terror in his stomach. Shōta turns to Nemuri, hoping for some sympathy, but she’s tapping her phone absentmindedly, eyes narrowed as she stares at Shōta.

“It’s not a bad idea,” she says, and Shōta has no idea why he bothers having friends when they’re as useless as this.

They’re not supposed to gang up on him and agree he should go and pursue this All-Might-Soulmate-Thing. They’re supposed to laugh, tell Shōta he obviously had worked too hard, or been hit by a weird quirk that made him see things.

“Think about it Shōta,” Nemuri says, taking Shōta’s hand and gripping it tightly. She’s moved forward on the couch, eyes bright and, dare Shōta say it, hopeful. She really wants him to be happy, and clearly is taking this as a sign for greatness.

“Even if nothing happens, you have All Might as a soulmate. Think of the doors that could open. Think of the pay raise you would get if you told Nedzu you could ask All Might to consult for the school.” Nemuri’s eyes light up and her nails dig into Shōta’s hand. “Think of the pay raise you would get if you told Nedzu you could ask All Might to join as a teacher at the school!”

Shōta rolls his eyes. All Might teaching?

“You’re being ridiculous,” he says, though the idea of a pay raise isn’t such a terrible thing. It’s not enough to tempt him, even for a moment, and Nemuri knows it.

“You convince him then,” Nemuri says, waving her hand at Hizashi. He blinks and turns to Shōta with a limp smile on his lips.

“Shōta,” he begins, and Shōta stands, depositing his breakfast fully on the table and heading to the kitchen. He doesn’t have enough coffee to continue listening, and he quit daytime drinking last time he ended up scaling a statue of a mermaid.

“You seemed interested in the idea of having a soulmate before, with barf-baby man,” Hizashi says, and it’s true. The idea hadn’t been fully repulsive to Shōta, and he might have imagined convenience-store-guy in his apartment, stretched out on the couch, listening to Shōta bitch about his shitty annoying friends.

“Except barf-baby man got away. With All Might…” Hizashi pauses. “We’re not saying you need to date him, but what harm could it do to talk to him? All Might has always avoided the topic of soulmates, he probably would hate to see you too, but you guys need to meet.”

“It’s destiny,” Nemuri interjects, and Shōta resists the urge to hurl his coffee mug at her.

Shōta understands what they’re getting at, he does. But it’s All Might , and he’s Shōta. He doesn’t want a beefcake of a soulmate, thank you very much, that’s strictly fantasy territory. Stepping into All Might’s office would be something out of a nightmare, and to open his mouth and acknowledge that they have some weird bond is out of the question.

Both Nemuri and Hizashi look hopeful, however, and Shōta sighs heavily, pouring himself a black coffee and closing his eyes.

“If I go, brunch is your treat for the rest of the month,” Shōta grates out, hating the flopping of his stomach and the way his heart pounds in his chest. The two of them agree with big grins, and Shōta has the vague feeling of being fucked.

.

All Might’s agency is, predictably, the personification of the man himself. Inside is bright and gaudy, achievements lining the coloured walls, staff smiling widely, and everyone calm. There is the air of process going on, of things happening and ticking over, and Shōta shudders at the sense of organised, public heroism he is draped in from setting one foot over the threshold.

“Hello sir,” a polite voice says, one of the ‘greeters’ stepping forward with a tablet, tapping the screen to no doubt log whatever Shōta was here for. “How can the All Might agency help you today?”

The attendant, a young woman with feathers for hair and dark eyes, smiles, sincerity shining through. It’s a good effort, and Shōta wonders if every employee has to go through smile training when they’re hired, or whether they vet that in the interviews.

“I’m here to see All Might,” Shōta says, shrugging his capture weapon higher on his face, a barrier against the building.

The attendant’s smile breaks slightly as she taps at her tablet, glancing up at Shōta and then back down. She’s about to break the news that Shōta doesn’t have an appointment, and he schools his expression. Even if she can barely see any of his face, it’s amusing to see the panic on her face as she tries to think of the right way to let Shōta down gently. Of course he didn’t have an appointment with All Might. No one just walked in and claimed to have an appointment with All Might, or so Shōta assumed.

“It’s Eraserhead,” Shōta says, leaning forward slightly. “He really will want to see me.”

The attendant taps a few more things on her screen before adopting a calm, professional and apologetic look.

So much for Hizashi’s plan then!

“I’m so sorry, sir,” she begins. “All Might isn’t with us today, he has other commitments.”

A lie, Shōta is sure. And no, he doesn’t know that because he’s been looking at message boards, and he certainly hasn’t downloaded the All Might Tracker! app that notifies users when All Might is in their area. Okay, maybe he’s guilty of both of those things, but he had to know when the best time to visit All Might would be. He only has enough courage to enter this building once.

“I’m sure,” Shōta presses, feeling like a dick for doing so, “that if you just mentioned my name-“

The attendant blinks as her tablet buzzes. She scans whatever it says quickly, feathers raising in surprise.

“All Might isn’t here right now, but his secretary is. Please go to level 3, someone will meet you there to take you to the secretary.” She pressed a card in his hand after touching it to her tablet. “This is your pass. Please do not lose it, or it’ll cause trouble for us.” Shōta took the card, nodding as the attendant’s smile powered up to full-All-Might-wattage.

“Have a nice day!” she finishes with, and Shōta blinks, heading towards the elevator, a little taken aback by the fact that he really is going upstairs. Part of him had hoped he’d be rejected and that would be the end of it.

There is no music in the elevator, thankfully, and Shōta avoids looking at himself in the mirror panel at the back. He rides alone, discomfort growing the higher the elevator goes. What probably is a ten-second ride feels like minutes, and when the elevator stops, Shōta is glad to exit.

There is someone waiting for him right away, a young man. He is holding a tablet too and wearing a stern frown, though it fades to a smile as he meets Shōta’s eyes.

“Hello sir,” he says, bowing. “If you’d just follow me, I shall take you to Yagi-san.”

They walk in silence, passing spacious offices. Some have occupants, though they are all busy, and Shōta wonders what exactly so many people have to do here. He knows, logically, that All Might is involved with numerous causes and charities, and he has a brand to maintain on top of that, but this building seems crammed full of people, people who seem as if they actually work full-time. Being Number One is tough.

Though Shōta isn’t sure what he is expecting from the office of All Might’s secretary, perhaps a giant red door, fireworks spurting from it as everyone walked through, but he’s greeted by a plain brown, open door. The light inside the office is warm, there’s the low hum of the radio, and the man Shōta is with taps on the door, back ramrod straight. He has to be an intern looking to impress, Shōta deduces.

“Yagi-san,” the intern calls, shooting Shōta a smile. “I brought Eraserhead-san here.”

There’s a bump and a muttered English curse, and then a startlingly familiar figure comes into view, eyes half-closed in an apologetic smile, shoulders hunched and hands behind his back. He’s wearing an oversized blue suit, but Shōta recognises him in an instant.

“Barf-baby,” Shōta mumbles, and while he’d hoped it had been too quiet for the intern to hear, the sharp turn of the head he receives lets Shōta know that perhaps he wasn’t as discreet as hoped.

“Thank you, Takashi,” Yagi says kindly to the intern. “Come back later, and I’ll show you how to use the reporting systems as I promised.”

The intern seems to glow at Yagi’s words, and Shōta has the vague feeling Yagi is a helper amongst the staff here. He must know the inner workings of the agency like the back of his hand, and he takes the time to show interns things when they need help. Shōta can’t help but respect a man like that, even if All Might’s agency was the last place he expected to find his soulmate. Well. First soulmate.

“I was hoping you’d come here,” Yagi says, gesturing for Shōta to come in. He closes the door and Shōta looks around the office. It’s cosy in here, a large sofa taking up one corner of the room and the desk cluttered with work. There is a wall dedicated to All Might memorabilia, but it’s the more tasteful stuff, and Shōta can only see one figurine.

He turns to Yagi and blinks as he realises he’s being watched. Yagi has a slight pinkness to his cheeks, and he tilts his head at the figurine.

“Sentimental value,” he comments, and Shōta nods, inviting himself to sit on the sofa.

It’s then that he registers the bloom on Yagi’s hand, curls of black ink spreading to the tips of his fingers, seeking Shōta out. He moves his own hand closest to Yagi, fascinated as his own soulmark bubbles to cover his nails.

“I wasn’t sure whether to contact you,” Yagi says, and Shōta looks up, noticing the fond look on his face, as if this is all he’s ever wanted. Perhaps it is, Shōta thinks, and he hates how jumpy he feels, his stomach churning and heart pounding. For someone who has never cared about soulmates, now he has his before him, Shōta is excited .

“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you my name before, but I figured that if you wanted this and the opportunity presented itself again, you’d know where to find me.” Yagi takes a seat beside Shōta, patting his knees. Their soulmarks have vanished, and Shōta is glad for one less distraction.

“I know I’m not much to look at, and on top of that there’s my work and a bucket list of health issues, but-" Yagi breaks off into a cough, and Shōta watches as he reaches for a handkerchief, clearly used to this. He waits, there’s no point in offering to help, watching and taking in a man he barely registered the time they met before.

It goes without saying that he looks ill. There are dark shadows under his eyes, he’s a little disproportionate – too tall and too skinny – but it’s hardly a deal breaker. Shōta, as Hizashi and Nemuri have commented on many times before in jealousy, isn’t picky when it comes to looks. It’s the personality and their ability to keep up with him (put up with him Hizashi would interject) that matter.

And it isn’t as if Yagi isn’t attractive. He could use a few decent meals, but there is something there that makes Shōta want to keep looking. He has fire in his eyes, high cheekbones and a strong jaw, and Shōta suspects he has more muscle under there than he first suspected.

“Thank you,” Yagi says, and Shōta lifts his head out of his capture scarf, offering a genuine smile.

This really isn’t what he expected to find at All Might’s agency, but it’s a hell of a lot better than admitting to All Might that they’re soulmates. In fact, Shōta can just ignore the mess that was the All Might soulmark drama. It probably was just a shadow – of course it was. There’s no way in hell someone can have two soulmates, and Shōta is glad Yagi is his.

“I haven’t introduced myself,” Shōta says suddenly, and he thinks that his mother, who is very aware of how shit his manners are, would have hit him over the head for that. “Aizawa Shōta.”

“Yagi Toshinori, and I would like it very much if you could call me Toshinori, given the circumstances,” he says, blowing Shōta away again with one sentence.

If anyone had asked Shōta what he’d been expecting from barf-baby-convenience-store guy, it wasn’t someone who seemed comfortable in himself and leading the conversation. Shōta would have suggested that Yagi Toshinori was blindingly shy and unable to make a decision, and while Shōta could have handled that, he is glad Toshinori is different to what he’d anticipated.

“Do you want to go for dinner? I have some work to finish up, so talking now isn’t really convenient, but I would like to get to know you and discuss what our options are.” Toshinori smiles, and there’s something familiar in the look, but Shōta can’t place it. It fills him with calm, however, and he nods.

“I’ll give you my number. I’m working tonight, but I don’t start until 11pm in Musufatu city central.” Shōta holds his hand out, and the sight of his inkmark moving so vividly surprises him. It usually lays over his heart, moving only slightly out of time with his own heartbeat, a fact that Nemuri romanticised years ago by saying it was following his soulmate’s heartbeat. Shōta had rejected the idea back then, scoffing, but wants to find out.

“I finish up here at about 5pm. I can make the commute to Musufatu easily, I’ll find somewhere and make reservations?” Shōta nods, and Toshinori beams, passing his phone to Shōta. “I’m looking forward to it, Shōta,” he said, and a warm feeling spreads through Shōta’s body at the sound of his name on his soulmate’s lips.

He leaves after that, nodding to Takashi the intern and even smiling at the girl who had welcomed him into the building. Shōta feels like a changed man, a ridiculous sap of the man he used to be, but he can’t bring himself to care. There is a connection to be made with Toshinori, and whatever it’ll bring excites Shōta. He has a date , and that’s a first in a long while. His phone chimes with the message alert, and Shōta feels his breath catch as he reads the name, even though he just added it to his contacts. Fuck, he needs to get a grip.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Here’s the address of a place I know is pretty quiet on a weekday but serves the BEST! yakitori. I’ll meet you there at 6:30pm?

Shōta’s never had an opinion on yakitori before. He thinks he might love it now. He even ignores the huge, personalised All Might emoji that is giving him a thumbs up. All Might agency employees were strange.

To: Yagi Toshinori

Sounds good. See you then.

He gets an All Might smiley emoji and another thumbs up in two separate messages, and Shōta holds his phone screen against his leg for a moment, feeling like a teenager in love. Which is ridiculous because there’s no way to say if Toshinori will even want this to go further than platonic, and Shōta himself isn’t even sure-

He can’t finish that lie. He wants and he wants and he wants. As a kid, before U.A. and before Hizashi came barrelling into his life and before Shōta quite realised he wasn’t made for grand declarations and limelight-heroics, he’d begged his mother to play soulmates with him, to read him the most famous stories of soulmates meeting, and for her to tell him all about how she met her soulmate. As a kid with few interests and no desire to make friends, Shōta had loved the idea of soulmates, had clung to the idea that someday he’d have a family of his own after meeting his own soulmate, someone who would want to be friends with him.

Of course, Shōta had grown up, met friends who did like him, had boyfriends and one night stands, and he’d been fine with that, happy even. That little kid Shōta who had dreamt of adopting 200 cats with his soulmate had never died, though, and Shōta feels the urge to start looking at what recent shelters have to offer in the ways of pets.

He opts to open the group chat he has with Hizashi and Nemuri instead, before he can get too excited. It’s the newness of it, Shōta is sure he’ll return to his normal self after their dinner.

To: Fake Adults

Guess who has a date tonight.

-S

There’s a pause of about ten seconds before his notification alert starts going off. Shōta silences his phone as he gets on the train, rolling his eyes as he reads the messages.

From: Fake Adults

What

Wait what

???????

?!?!?!?!?!??!

Is this for reals you’re not shitting with us?

-H

Ohhhhhh boy

If you can get it, GET IT

GET IS GOOD Shōta GET IT GOOD

-K

Date date date date date

-H

For reals though

How did AM take it???

-K

Yeah!!!!!!!

Did he grab you in his big muscly arms and say he’s been waiting for you all his life

Because I could totes see that Shōta

-H

Wait no

I bet he was in his office chair and you walked in all smooth and he was all I see you found me

All serious like

-H

Shōta turned the notifications off, not wanting to hear more about how he was going to bone All Might or Hizashi’s fantasies about how the meeting went down. He isn’t really sure how he can tell them he didn’t even get a whiff of All Might, let alone talk about the soulmate-mistake.

He caves after five minutes and ignores the barrage of messages they’d left in his absence.

To: Fake Adults

I’ll be at my place in 20. If you want to know anything bring snacks.

They’re both already at Shōta’s by the time he gets there, setting up a snack buffet on the coffee table. Or, that’s what Hizashi claims, but really it’s an assortment of chocolates and a packet of bar snacks.

“So,” Nemuri says, drawing the word out and peering at Shōta as she curls up on her sofa. Hizashi is beside Shōta, practically bouncing in excitement.

“So!” Hizashi parrots, and Shōta claims three chocolates, shrugging.

“I didn’t meet All Might,” he says, and delights in the confusion of his friends. “I met my soulmate.”

Nemuri makes a noise of annoyance and disgust, while Hizashi sits back, sighing.

“No need to be cheesy,” Nemuri says, reaching for food.

“Barf-baby man,” Shōta adds, and whoever said he wasn’t as much a drama queen as his friends was wrong. Shōta is just a lot subtler about it.

“WHAT!” Hizashi shouts, and Nemuri drops the food she grabbed. “BARF-BABY!”

So Shōta explains himself, even going so far as to detail how nice Toshinori is, and he only stops when he realises both Nemuri and Hizashi are silent. They’re looking at him with smiles, eyes wide as if they have never seen this Shōta before.

To be fair, the closest Shōta has ever been was in his high school days, and he had a short-lived but very exciting romance with one of the guys in the class above him. It had been secret and mysterious, and for the three weeks they snuck around, Hizashi had gotten to enjoy Shōta being a little starstruck.

“You like him,” Nemuri says, her voice fond. Shōta doesn’t deny it, but he sighs.

“I’m getting ahead of myself,” he admits, sitting back on the couch and closing his eyes. “It just… it would be really nice.”

Hizashi’s hand claps his shoulder, and then he’s engulfed in a huge hug. There’s the sound of Nemuri standing, and then she’s joining the hug too, both of them telling him they’re so proud of him, and happy for him. It’s ridiculous, but Shōta smiles, wrapping them in a hug. They’re his best friends, have seen him through thick and thin, and he’s so glad he has them to experience this with him.

They ask him about Toshinori, and about the All Might agency, and then they start to distract Shōta from the fact he has a date. They watch half a shitty movie before Shōta acknowledges that he has to leave soon, and the nerves kick in a little.

“I want this to go well,” he says, and Nemuri tucks a bit of hair behind his ear while Hizashi tidies the mess of the lounge up.

“We know you do, and it will. Just be yourself, be honest, and who knows what will happen!” She hugs him, and Shōta is so glad he has her in his life.

The weather holds as he leaves, though the skies look like they’re threatening to rain. Shōta manages to get to the restaurant before the skies break, and he lingers in the entrance. He scans the room, can’t see Toshinori anywhere, and pulls his phone from his jumpsuit pocket. No one approaches him to ask if he wants to be seated, something for which Shōta is thankful for.

He notices Toshinori darting through the rain a moment later, head down and no umbrella to be seen. He enters the restaurant with a huff, clearly winded from the mad rain dash, but when he straightens to greet Shōta, he’s smiling, eyes bright and for Shōta alone.

“You made it,” he says, as if he’s been expecting Shōta to stand him up. “I’m glad,” Toshinori adds, head turning to where one of the servers stands close by. They take the booking and lead the two of them to the back, to a small booth. It’s private, and while Shōta usually doesn’t like booths as they restrict his observation capabilities, he wants his attention to focus on Toshinori tonight. They have a lot to work through.

They choose their food and drink in silence, and it’s only when the drinks have arrived that Toshinori seems to pick up on the fact that Shōta is plenty happy to sit in silence. It’s scared off some of his old potential partners before, and Shōta needs to know that Toshinori won’t be put off by silence.

“I should probably explain a few things before we talk about any big decisions,” Toshinori begins, fingers tracing the condensation on the glass of water before him. He’s avoiding Shōta’s gaze, and Shōta hums in interest.

“Obviously you’re probably wondering about all this,” Toshinori says, gesturing to himself with one hand. It’s a weird thing to say, but Shōta has been wondering about ‘all that’ so he nods.

“Three years ago, give or take a few months, I received a life-changing injury. I can show you the scar later, it covers most of my left side.” Shōta raises his eyebrows, tilting his head. Toshinori still isn’t looking at him, but that’s okay. Evidently this is something that has been an issue in Toshinori’s past.

“I had to have a few organs removed. I’ll spare the details, but it meant that my… capacity shrunk. I can work for a limited number of hours, though my secretary duties have increased.” Toshinori nods to himself, looking Shōta in the eye.

Shōta isn’t sure where to begin, so he shrugs.

“If I was bothered about something as superficial as that, I wouldn’t be here,” he says, which is a shock to Toshinori and a surprise to himself. It is sincere, though, for Shōta doesn’t care about what made Toshinori the man he met as he was debating two canned goods. Toshinori is who he is, and he’s here to see if they can work something out with the people they are right now.

It seems to be a relief, for Toshinori lets out a huff of laughter, nodding his head.

“I’ve heard a few things about you, or rather about you when you are Eraserhead,” Toshinori says. “One that keeps cropping up is how blunt you are, and I appreciate that.

“There’s no point wasting words when I know what I want to say,” Shōta says, sipping his drink.  

They both seem to relax, as if a weight has been lifted, and Shōta finds himself beginning the next conversation.

“It was a… surprise to find you,” he says, and Toshinori grins.

“Not what I’d been expecting, should we thank the vomit-quirk baby?” he replies, and Shōta smiles. That has to be a record for the amount of times he’s smiled on a first date, and they haven’t even gotten to the food yet.

“I was wondering what you wanted from this. I know some people keep their bonds platonic, others just acknowledge it and then leave it, and others… well, the most common is romantic and sexual.” Shōta keeps eye contact with Toshinori, noticing the slight flicker in his gaze when he mentions sexual. It makes sense, considering how worried he was to how Shōta would receive news of his injury. It’s not a deal breaker for Shōta.

“I’ve never believed that I’d find my soulmate,” Toshinori begins. “So I’ve never really thought about it.”

There is a pause, and Shōta slips one of his hands underneath the table, closing tightly against the fabric of his jumpsuit, out of sight. The dreams of young-Shōta are slipping further away, and he hopes they will at least get a chance.

“If you’d asked me four years ago, I would have wanted to keep this platonic, if anything.” The words cause Shōta’s hand to relax, and he leans forward, interested.

“And if I ask you now?” he says, his voice low. Toshinori leans into the table too, eyes soft and smile gently.

“I think, if you were willing after tonight, I would want to explore the romantic side of things.” He coughs, turns his head to the side and presses a fist to his lips, and adds quietly, “And potentially the sexual side too.”

Shōta sits back with a grin. This is what he wants. He wants Toshinori, and he wants to explore a future with him. He wants to date, to experience, and to have someone who understands him. Toshinori knows what hero work is like, he works for the Number One, he’s kind and gets Shōta.

“I’d like that too,” he says, hoping that he’s managed to keep his tone calm.

As food is brought over, they begin to dig a little into their lives. Shōta explains that he’s a teacher at U.A., to which Toshinori looks visibly excited by. He explains he used to go there, Shōta assumes in the general studies course, and can’t imagine that it’s changed much, and Shōta actually offers to give him a tour before they start the new school year in a few weeks.

“It’s not often I get to walk down memory lane like that,” Toshinori says, taking small bites of his food. He offers some of his plate to Shōta, stating he won’t be able to eat it all, and the act feels wonderfully intimate. Hizashi and Nemuri never share food like this, they in fact go out of their way to prevent any food swapping.

Shōta learns that Toshinori has been working with All Might since the beginning, or at least that’s what he assumes with the stories he touches on. None of them go into fine detail, but it’s clear that Toshinori likes his employer and has been around most, if not all, his hero career.

It’s a strange thought, that All Might has such a long-standing secretary, but life is an odd one, Shōta supposes, thinking on the fact his two soulmates (or one soulmate and one anomaly) work in the same building.

They have a good evening, and it’s definitely the best date Shōta has ever been on. They pass on dessert, but stay talking to each other right until Shōta absolutely has to leave to head out on patrol.

“Here,” Toshinori says as they reach to pay the bill. “I’ll get it this time, you can get the next one.”

Shōta doesn’t argue, just shoves his wallet into his utility belt and wraps his capture weapon around his neck. He has about ten minutes to compartmentalise his date and get his head in the game before he goes out to fight crime.

“I really enjoyed this,” Toshinori says as they walk outside, shoulders brushing as they stand under the entrance of the restaurant, peering out at the rain drizzling down.

“Me too,” Shōta agrees, and he wishes he’d thought to bring an umbrella, just so he could give it to Toshinori. He needs to take better care of himself, and Shōta plans to help there.

“My schedule is a bit more flexible than yours,” Toshinori says, turning to Shōta. “If you let me know when you’re free, I’d love to do this again.”

Shōta feels small as Toshinori moves closer, shuffling his capture weapon a little, a time-filler, a distraction for what he really wants to do. He’s so tall, and Shōta doesn’t think he can reach to kiss him easily. There’s another way, and he pulls Toshinori down by a shoulder, slipping his arms around his neck.

It’s just a gentle kiss, a warm press of lips, and Shōta pulls back quickly, before he pushes too much. He lets go of Toshinori’s neck, fingers making sure to graze as much skin as possible, and he can’t help but smile at the flush on Toshinori’s cheeks, visible even under just the dim light from the restaurant sign.

“Shōta!” Toshinori admonishes, and Shōta laughs. “I wasn’t prepared,” Toshinori mumbles, and he moves forward again until he’s close to Shōta, leaning down for another kiss.

This one has a tang of fire to it, a harder press that coaxes Shōta to open his mouth ever so slightly, to move as Toshinori brings a wave of emotion and a burn of desire with him. It’s over before Shōta can get invested, and he licks his lips as they part, Toshinori taking a step back.

“Good night,” he says, fond smile on his face as he turns his coat up as much as possible. “Please let me know when you get in from patrol.”

It’s little things like that that make Shōta’s stomach wibble in excitement, and he has to wait until Toshinori had disappeared across the street before he can move.

It’s been one date, less than a day of knowing each other, and already Shōta is in too deep. He wants to take back anything mocking he’s ever said concerning soulmates. Perhaps this is actually how it is supposed to be.

.

Predictably, when Shōta is trying to get to the kitchen to make a coffee, he’s intercepted. Sekijiro’s eyes widen as he sets them on Shōta, and practically manhandles him into the kitchen, closing the door behind them. They’re alone and Shōta raises an eyebrow. Sekijiro’s never acted like this before, not even during the sports festivals when their classes are competing.

“It’s for your own good,” Sekijiro mutters. “Mic and Midnight have been prowling the corridors this morning. I have no idea what time they got here, but if I have to listen to Midnight wail about how she wants to dig her claws in you and make you pop unless you give her the deets from last night.” Sekijiro shudders and Shōta lets the tension in his shoulders drop.

“Standard Midnight stuff then,” he mumbles, and Sekijiro shakes his head.

“She said if I didn’t find you she’d tell me the details of her last night at the bar I really like, and what happened to one of the patrons in the bathroom.” Sekijiro is looking into the distance, and Shōta isn’t one hundred percent sure whether he’s scared to find out is Midnight fucked someone in the bathroom or murdered them. Either way, Sekijiro clearly doesn’t want to have to find another bar, and Shōta takes pity on him.

“The guy pissed himself after Midnight turned him down,” Shōta explains, and Sekijiro’s eyes snap to him. “Thought he could pick her up and drag her to the bathroom easy-peasy.”

“Go Midnight,” Sekijiro murmurs, nodding in approval.

“And you can hand me over to Midnight too, if it makes you feel better,” Shōta offers, and ignores the look of suspicion Sekijiro settles him. “She’ll find me at some point, best to get it over and done with.”

There’s a pause and the click of the kettle. Shōta dumps water on his instant coffee and grabs his mug, cradling the warmth to his chest.

“You really did have a good time last night,” Sekijiro comments, and Shōta bristles. What is that supposed to mean? He can be nice without something having to happen to him, can’t he?

Shrugging, Shōta leads them out of the kitchen and into the office. Nemuri is there, a true understander of Shōta’s morning routine, and she smiles sweetly at Sekijiro before clamping a hand around Shōta’s forearm.

“Thank you,” she says sweetly to Sekijiro, offering him, of all things, a lollipop. Shōta watches him take it in confusion, and Shōta shrugs in solidarity. At least none of them have any idea why Nemuri is handing out sweets.

“I’m trying a new thing,” Nemuri says when she’s hauled Shōta to his desk and taken the seat next to him. “Good behaviour gets lollipops.”

“You’re training people, you mean,” Shōta says, and glares at Nemuri as she holds a lollipop out for him, beaming.

“I got a bunch of candy treats as a reward for consulting on a hero with a candy quirk’s case. I have no use for them, I’m not going to rot my teeth out,” Nemuri says, and Shōta takes the lollipop. It’s strawberry flavoured, tastes awful coupled with his coffee, and Shōta doesn’t care.

“So,” Nemuri says, twirling her hair around a finger. “Since you never messaged Hizashi or me, what happened?”

There was one conversation Shōta had had last night, and it had started with a message he’d promised to send and ended with a goodnight, coupled with a kiss emoji.

“Shōta!” Nemuri says loudly. Sekijiro, the only other person in the room, looks up, nodding at Shōta when he sees him eating his lollipop. Shōta likes Sekijiro. He minds his own business unlike other people.

“You’re smiling. Why are you smiling.” Nemuri pauses, her nails digging through his jumpsuit and into his skin. “Did you get laid? Oh my god, I was only joking about getting you laid quickly, but did you?”

Shōta rolls his eyes.

“I didn’t get laid. We had dinner, and then I went on patrol.” Shōta wrenches his arm away and boots his computer up. Despite what Nemuri might think, he does have work to do. “It was very enjoyable.”

The information seems to be enough to sate her curiosity, and Shōta watches from the corner of his eye as Nemuri gets her phone out, tapping away. When she’s done, his own phone beeps with a message, and that’s how Shōta knows she’s updated Hizashi on the situation in their group chat.

“When are you next seeing him?” Nemuri asks, and Shōta shrugs.

“We’re taking things organically,” Shōta says, a phrase that he’s heard Nemuri boast about before. She huffs at him but does, for once, take the hint and retreats to her own desk. Shōta knows she’ll be back to meddle in his life later on.

He’s able to do the work he needs to do and heads to his class before Hizashi can find him. His class are well behaved, and at lunch, Shōta notices almost three quarters of the class have lollipops. He sighs to himself, shrugging his sleeping bag over his shoulder and heading for the roof. There’s an unused stairwell only accessible by the roof, and it’s a prime nap spot.

Just as Shōta is settling in for a nap, his phone beeps with a message alert. He sighs, waiting for the barrage of messages from the group chat, and grows suspicious when there are no further messages. It’s not like his friends to send a solo message, and Shōta takes his phone out, zipping himself in his bag fully and blinking at his screen in the darkness.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Hope your day is going great!!!! I’ve had to run out of town until Saturday… want to meet for dinner on Saturday?

His phone vibrates in his hand, a photo of a lake opening at the press of a thumb. There’s ducks on the lake, tens of them, and a message comes through after.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Ducks! The scenery isn’t bad at all, makes up for the boring meetings I’ll be stuck in.

There’s a duck emoji at the end, and Shōta huffs a laugh to himself, dropping his phone on his chest and smiling to the fabric of his sleeping bag. One date, just the one, and he’s already mush.

To: Yagi Toshinori

Your challenge is to find and send me a photo of a cat. Think of it as a secret mission to get you through the boring meetings.

Shōta sends it, and then remembers he never answered the question.

Saturday sounds great. I’ll pick the place this time?

His phone informs him that Toshinori is writing a message, and Shōta waits. He watches his phone as Toshinori types, stops, and then starts again. It goes on for five minutes before Shōta catches himself wondering what on earth he is doing. If it was anyone else acting how he is right now he’d laugh at them.

From: Yagi Toshinori

I’d love to! If you send me the name of the place I’ll check their menu out and let you know if I can eat there. If it doesn’t work, I can always cook for us at home.

It’s a surprise, a brave offering, and Shōta understands why it took him five minutes of deliberating. It’s not easy to invite someone over, especially considering Toshinori works for All Might and no doubt has to sit through ridiculous security briefings and meetings.

To: Yagi Toshinori

I wouldn’t want to put you in a difficult position, considering the circumstances. I’ll link the restaurant – you’re always welcome around my place too, though that does run the risk of my friends barging in at any hour of the day.

Shōta’s never offered to have anyone over his place unless they were there solely for a hookup. His heart beats heavily in his chest, and Shōta swallows thickly, throat dry. He likes Toshinori. An awful lot.

From: Yagi Toshinori

There’s lots I can eat! Having health issues sure take the fun and spontaneity out of restaurant dates, sorry for the trouble Shōta.

Shōta doesn’t mind, and he replies as much.

From: Yagi Toshinori

We’ve been invited to an onsen. I’ll have to cover myself up, luckily they allow for bathing suits here, one of those all-quirk-no-judgement places, but it’ll be nice! Maybe we can go to an onsen one day, it’s been a long while since I’ve been to one ‘as myself’.

Shōta assumes he means outside of work, and marvels again at the world when one works for a pro hero. He assumes there have been a lot of countryside-onsen-mountain-relaxation bonding trips for Toshinori, and briefly wonders if All Might is at the same meetings Toshinori is. He resists the momentary urge to check the All Might Tracker! app, realises he really doesn’t care what All Might is up to.

To: Yagi Toshinori

Enjoy. And I’d love to go together someday.

There, Shōta thinks. He’s admitted he would like a future with Toshinori. He wants to have a date in a restaurant on Saturday, go back to one of their homes and not even have sex. Shōta wants to cuddle in bed, nothing else. Or rather, he’d be happy for more to happen, but he wants to cuddle regardless of sex or no sex. He wants them to go to the mountains and visit an onsen. He wants to relax with Toshinori, to laugh as their soulmarks dance around their bodies, and eat a ridiculous amount of good food before falling asleep way too early.

He doesn’t have much time left before class, and Shōta closes his eyes, trying not to think of his future. He sleeps.

 

Chapter Text

The week passes in a blur of text messages and evenings with Hizashi and Nemuri. He’s even managed to spend a few lunchtimes on the phone to Toshinori, talking about the beauty of the mountains and how Toshinori loves the forest around them, and Shōta discusses his students and their fears of the world, now that they’re coming close to graduating.

“I think one or two have applied to work at your agency,” Shōta says one lunch, sipping a juice pack in the gloom of his abandoned stairwell. Toshinori’s on video chat, eager to show Shōta the scenery from his room.

“Have they?” Toshinori turns the camera back to himself, and though Shōta’s face is barely visible in the gloom, he can tell Toshinori is peering at him, glad to see him. “I’ll oversee their applications personally. We’ve had a lot of UA students coming through the agency in the past, but if they’ve been raised by you, I feel they must have a lot of potential.”

Shōta smiles to himself, ducking his face into his capture weapon to hide his smile.

“I’d prefer them not to get special treatment,” he says instead of glowing at Toshinori, and he hums in consideration.

“How about if they make it through, I’ll thank them myself,” Toshinori says, beaming proudly, as if his students want nothing more than to meet Toshinori once landing their dream job. Shōta smiles regardless, melting a little at how nice and caring Toshinori is.

“You’ll spoil them you mean,” Shōta says, and Toshinori laughs, a sound that comforts Shōta. He feels warm and relaxed, happier than he has been at lunch all week.

“Well, you know how it-“ Toshinori pauses as someone says something inaudible in the background. It’s clear from the tone that something is happening, and Shōta assumes it has something to do with the reason they went to the onsen in the first place.

“I have to go,” Toshinori says hurriedly, and his face is serious, all traces of humour gone. “It looks like we’ve gotten the break we were waiting for, and All Might is needed.”

Shōta doesn’t really understand Toshinori’s role in All Might’s battles, but from what he’s been able to piece together, there’s a lot of paperwork, a lot of clean up, and a lot of travelling around after All Might.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at 8pm then,” Shōta says, and Toshinori smiles, waving bye as he disconnects their call. It leaves Shōta in semi-darkness, surrounded by juice packets and alone. He’s never felt like he was lacking anything before, but now he wants Toshinori to finish their call properly, when Shōta has to leave and teach.

Shōta thumbs his message app open, opening Fake Adults and sending his plea for help.

To: Fake Adults

My place tonight. Bring booze and stuff to sleep over, I threw all your crap out last month, so don’t expect your dirty pjs to be at the bottom of my laundry basket again, Nemuri

-S

Shōta sets his phone on his lap, biting the inside of his cheek.

YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAS TEQUILA SHOTS SHOTS SHOTS!!!

-H

Shōta closes his eyes until it’s time for class, and he wanders back down, ready for the afternoon to be over, and Hizashi’s promise of tequila shots to be happening.

The three of them decide to head to a bar first, and while it means they’ll certainly end up crashing at the nearest home – Hizashi’s – and both he and Nemuri will borrow Hizashi’s stuff, it’s way more fun than Shōta loitering in his apartment until his friends get there.

“And get this, get this,” Hizashi is saying, hands gesturing wildly as he continues his story. “Turns out the reason she’d been screaming was because she caught her roommate fucking her brother. HER BROTHER!”

Even Shōta laughs, a testament to how many drinks he’s had, at Hizashi’s story of his neighbour’s wild escapades last night.

“The best bit is she didn’t know the brother was fine taking it up the ass, and the brother didn’t know they were housemates! Apparently had never visited his sister’s place before.” Hizashi downs the half-drink he has left, slamming the glass on the table with enough force to rattle the empty glasses.

There’s a commotion at the bar, anticipation spreading, and Shōta is aware of the TV sound getting turned up. Although it’s a Friday night, everyone stills as All Might comes into view on the live TV report, hands gripping at the jaws of some huge crocodilian thing.

“Hey hey hey,” Hizashi says, tilting his head. “That’s too crazy!”

The news reporter is saying something, but Shōta just stares, unblinking, as the crocodile thing slips from All Might’s grasp just a little, enough to sink a few teeth in his left arm. All Might is still smiling, still laughing, loud enough the cameras can pick it up, and he surges forward, sending the crocodile thing upwards with just one swing of his arm.

Even through a TV screen it’s an impressive sight, and the bar explodes into cheers and chatter, people clinking glasses together as if All Might’s achievement is something they should share in. Their behaviour disgusts Shōta.

“And that’s your soulmate,” Nemuri says, sipping at a cocktail she poured herself, snatched from the glasses on the table. Most of it was paid for by Hizashi, and she’s already threatened to make Shōta one. “He’s an impressive one.”

Shōta shakes his head, feeling sick at her words.

“It was a mistake. Toshinori is my soulmate,” he says, and pulls his phone from his pocket to fire off a message, asking if Toshinori is okay, how involved he is and-

“Shōta, look at me,” Nemuri says, and she’s blinking heavily behind her glasses. It would make Shōta laugh and accuse her of being drunk if he himself wasn’t tilted slightly sideways.

“There’s something weird going on,” she says. “I know you like Toshinori and all, but I really think you need to involve All Might too. It’s his bond as well, and you’re just… denying him the option of even knowing.” She looks so sad, and Shōta feels the tiniest shred of sadness for a brief, brief moment.

“Nope,” he replies, looking over to Hizashi for support. Hizashi isn’t there, and a quick glance shows him by the jukebox, shouting merrily along to an old song with a group of people. He’s in his element and has abandoned Shōta. Great.

“I like Toshinori,” Shōta says instead, fiddling with his glass. “I don’t like All Might.”

Nemuri lets out a sigh. “Have you at least told Toshinori you have two soulmates? It’s going to come up at some point, and what if it damages your relationship?”

Shōta hadn’t thought of that, but he doesn’t think it’ll be an issue. He doesn’t have feelings for All Might. He respects him, is appreciative for him, but he doesn’t like All Might outside of the fantasies Shōta knows everyone has had in their lives.

“We’re doing great Nemuri,” Shōta says instead, crossing his arms over his chest. “We’re going on our second date tomorrow, and we’ve video-chatted.” Shōta feels like a child justifying something to his mother, and Nemuri shrugs, clearly unhappy with what he has to say.

Shōta wishes she would just tell him why she’s so upset about it all. Shōta isn’t keeping secrets, he’s not being a liar or a sneak. He doesn’t want All Might as a soulmate, doesn’t need him, and Toshinori doesn’t need to know about it.

“I just don’t think it’s fair,” Nemuri says, and Shōta feels alarm overtake him as she sniffs, tears streaming down her cheeks. “You can’t lie to your soulmate.”

There’s something more here, and Shōta’s eyes widen as he moves closer to her, arms outstretched, unsure whether Nemuri wants a hug or whether he’ll just make things worse. Where the fuck is Hizashi when Shōta needs him?

“I just…” Nemuri inhales deeply, taking a long sip of her drink and wincing. “I’m fine. I just can’t believe Yuki is lying to Aoba.”

Shōta moves back, eyes narrowed. He has no idea who Yuki or Aoba is, but the names…

“TELL ME ABOUT IT!” Hizashi says, flopping down and rubbing at his eyes, lips down turning as Nemuri turns to him. “Last night’s episode was brutal and cold ! How could Yuki do that to him?”

Shōta blinks.

“Wait,” he says, but it’s lost to Hizashi and Nemuri leaning against each other, crying over their favourite TV show, apparently.

“This isn’t about me then?” he asks, trying to clarify the confusion of the past few minutes.

“Darling!” Hizashi drawls, and Nemuri rolls her eyes. “You don’t know the true love of Yuki and Aoba,” he says, and a drink is suddenly pushed in front of Shōta. It’s the remains of Nemuri’s cocktail, and he drinks it just to have something to numb his brain to the idiots before him.

“I do think you should tell him,” Nemuri says, though doesn’t elaborate which him he should tell what to. “But no, I’m not overly upset about you and Toshinori and All Might and you and…” she trails off, frowning.

“We’re happy you’re happy Shō-chan!” Hizashi shouts, earning a cheer from the majority of the bar around them.

Shōta loves his friends, he really does. They’re good people deep down, even if they want to wind him up and laugh at him most of the time. These are the people he’s chosen, and Shōta realises that he’s chosen Toshinori too, even if they are soulmates.

He doesn’t want to think too hard about that though, and tunes into the conversation around him. It’s a heated debate about who someone from their TV show is going to end up with, and Shōta sips at Nemuri’s hideous cocktail as he watches the debate descend into chaos. They’ll probably end up kicked out (again), and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

.

By the time Shōta wakes up in Hizashi’s bed, the news about All Might fighting the crocodile thing is all over the news. It turns out there’s more than one crocodile thing, and that there are more things too. Shōta sees three different reports on his news feed about a snake thing, a emu thing and a horse thing. He isn’t sure how he feels about fighting those things in comparison to a crocodile, but Shōta shoots Toshinori a message over a bowl of cereal.

To: Yagi Toshinori

Hope you’re all okay. I heard about the fight up your way… guess you’ll be stuck with a shitload of paperwork.

He sends it before he can think too much about it, and refuses to look at his phone. There are no alerts for ten minutes, and Shōta checks it to make sure it hasn’t run out of juice. He’s still on 27% power, unfortunately, and Shōta sighs as he sets his phone down again, angrily spooning his cereal into his mouth.

“Shōta, can you keep your anger to yourself quietly,” Nemuri moans from the floor in the lounge, on the other side of the room to Shōta and obscured by the couch. “Some of us actually get hangovers you know.”

“I get them too,” Shōta says, but his version of a hangover usually sorts itself out after he pukes in the toilet. The rest of it (headache, eye ache, tiredness) is just Shōta’s usual state of living.

“Whatever, demon boy,” Nemuri says, sitting up slowly, holding her stomach as she does so. She might be moaning now, but after one glass of water, Nemuri will be back to 100%, no hangover in sight. She’s a monster, Hizashi always says, and Shōta has never found reason to disagree.

It takes a while before Nemuri joins him, and by that time, Hizashi has rolled out of the bedroom, fully showered and dressed, though looking miserable.

“What the fuck was in that cocktail, Nemuri!” he moans, clutching his stomach as he does so. “You guys get one hour then I’m kicking you out to go back to sleep. I have work later, and I refuse to barf over my radio equipment.”

They turn the news on as they grab food, and Shōta focuses on scanning the background of the All Might news, trying to see past All Might’s huge bulk for any sign of Toshinori. There are no reported casualties, so he has to be alright, but Shōta still can’t fully relax. He hasn’t heard from Toshinori in almost 12 hours now, something that hasn’t happened yet.

“Stop fiddling with your phone,” Nemuri says as she clears their plates and cups, turning the water on for another round of coffees. “He’s fine, most likely caught up with paperwork and making sure All Might doesn’t get some shitty infection from the bites he got.”

“I imagine being All Might’s personal secretary is a pretty hefty job. He doesn’t seem like an easy man to look after, and the paperwork must be a nightmare,” Hizashi comments, and Shōta doesn’t want to tell them that they’re not actually helping the situation. No, he does want to tell them, and he is about to, when his phone’s message alert goes off.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Drowning in paperwork and only just got out of the hospital. Those bite wounds were pretty nasty, and there’s no Recovery Girl out here!

Shōta lets his head fall against the back of the couch as he sighs in relief. Toshinori is okay, he’s replying to texts, and Shōta was being over dramatic about the entire situation.

“Shit dude,” Hizashi says around a swig of coffee. “You’re in deep, aren’t you buddy?”

It’s said without any joke, not even the hint of a smile, and Shōta sits up, sighing.

“It hasn’t even been a week,” he says, and Shōta will deny that he whined that for the rest of his life. “It’s been a week, and I’m already worried about him not answering my message. He’s a grown man, a capable man if he’s kept up with All Might for all these years, and I’m a nervous wreck.”

Nemuri hands Shōta his coffee and smiles down at him.

“It’s puppy love,” she says, curling up at his side and resting her head on his shoulder. “That’ll fade at the first argument you guys have, and then you’ll realise you either really like the guy, or it’s not worth it.”

“It’s normal Shōta,” Hizashi says. “Especially when it’s your soulmate.”

“Dating sucks,” Shōta replies, and he’s met with a murmur of agreement.

He keeps up a slow but steady conversation with Toshinori throughout the day. Everything is very short and simple, and Shōta gets the impression that Toshinori is doing his best to complete the work he has to. He offers to cancel the date, but is met with an enthusiastic answer, that Toshinori has been looking forward to meeting with him all day.

It isn’t a surprise when Shōta is still alone at the restaurant twenty minutes after their proposed meeting time. He checks his phone; no messages. It doesn’t bother him, Shōta says to himself, though as the time nudges closer to an hour, he gives up on the idea of sharing food and orders for himself.

By the time Toshinori arrives, Shōta has finished his meal and is contemplating paying. He looks up in surprise as the door bursts open, and his stomach drops as Toshinori’s head swings around, clearly looking for Shōta. He raises his hand, and Toshinori hurries to his table, apologies already spilling from his lips. He looks tired, Shōta thinks, and it’s clear he’s come straight from work, judging by the baggy, garish suit he’s wearing.

“I am so, so sorry, Shōta,” Toshinori is saying, his head bowed so low that it’s practically resting on the table. “I was busy trying to sort out the mess of last night and lost track of time. I’m ashamed to admit I fell asleep in the middle of my papers, and-“

“Toshinori,” Shōta cuts in, amusement filling him as he realises that he doesn’t care Toshinori was late. He’d expected it, he guessed, but he knew that Toshinori was okay and that was enough. Hero business is hard work.

“It’s okay. A message would have been nice, but I bet you just rushed over here when you woke up.” Shōta smiles, sitting back in his chair.

“Shōta,” Toshinori says, raising his head and gaping at Shōta. He looks like he might cry, and Shōta leans forward, setting his hands over Toshinori’s on the table.

“I like you, you idiot,” Shōta admits, watching their soulmarks dance across their hands. Shōta’s is on their left and Toshinori’s their right, flush against skin. “And I know what hero stuff is like. It would be unreasonable of me to be prepared for something like this.”

Toshinori’s mouth is open, his stare focused on Shōta. He’s silent, still, and then he turns his hands, gripping Shōta’s tightly and bringing his left hand to his mouth.

“I like you too,” Toshinori says, kissing Shōta’s knuckles gently, soulmark dancing over his bottom lip. His lips are cold, and it’s no surprise. He isn’t wearing a coat, and the night is cold enough to see breath in the air. It’s things like that which show Shōta he’s valued, rather than punctuality. Toshinori forwent a coat in order to get here quicker.

“And I am sorry. There are no excuses, and I promise this won’t happen again. Even if I have to cancel, I will message you,” he promises, lowering their hands as his soulmark slinks away from their lips and back to their hands.

“Have you eaten?” Shōta asks, and Toshinori shakes his head. “Do you want to head back to my place? You look like you’ll fall asleep if we stay here for food, and it’s warmer. You can stay over too, unless you need to be at work early?”

Toshinori shakes his head, and then nods, rubbing the back of his neck as he smiles awkwardly.

“I mean no, I don’t have to be at work, and I’d love to come over. Truth be told I feel a little out of place in this,” he says, gesturing down to the baggy blue suit he wore. Shōta nods, grabs his wallet, and moves to pay for his food.

They manage to get on the right train just before it pulls away, and then it’s just a twenty minute ride to his apartment. It’s a quiet time of night, before people are heading out for the night or coming home after a night drinking. They sit side by side, and it isn’t long before Toshinori’s head has dropped to Shōta’s shoulder.

He wakes blearily at their stop without Shōta needing to nudge him, and they walk in silence, hands clasped as Shōta leads. He barely registers anything on the walk other than how warm Toshinori’s hand is, and how firm his grip. It feels nice, even if Toshinori is practically a zombie right now, and Shōta delights in taking him into his apartment.

“It’s not much,” he says, and Toshinori stifles a yawn, looking around in interest. There’s a book cabinet with framed photos, and Toshinori’s eyes linger on it for a moment before he starts taking his shoes off.

“It’s a nice place,” he says. “My apartment was chosen for me, and, truth be told, it’s too big for one person. The lounge echoes, and no one can relax in a space that echoes.” Toshinori laughs, though it turns into a yawn, and Shōta smiles, unlacing his boots.

“Are you hungry? We can just head to bed if you’d prefer.” He’s being kind, Shōta registers, and he leads them to the bathroom when Toshinori nods, too tired for words.

They scrub up and brush their teeth, bumping elbows from the moment Shōta hands Toshinori a new toothbrush to the moment they rinse their mouths. Toshinori takes it in stride, laughing when Shōta sighs, and it’s a domesticity Shōta shouldn’t be comfortable with after less than a week. He supposes that is the power of soulmates, knowing the world has determined you to be a positive match in some way, shape or form for someone else. Their inkblots smooth over the awkwardness.

“I probably have something that will fit you,” Shōta says, trying to think of any item of clothing he has that will fulfil his promise. Toshinori shakes his head instead.

“As long as you don’t mind, I prefer to sleep… well I’ll keep my underwear on,” Toshinori amends, a flush filling his cheeks. He yawns, swallowing thickly, and Shōta nods.

“Do you have a spare blanket? I’m afraid the throw on the back of the sofa might not be enough as I have a tendency to get cold in the night,” Toshinori says, heading towards the couch. Shōta has slept on it enough times to know that a person can have a decent night’s sleep if they’re tired enough, but he refuses to make Toshinori sleep out here.

“Take the bed,” he says, hoping his voice is stern enough to leave no room for arguments. Shōta sees Toshinori weight his options up for a moment, but he backs down with a nod.

“On one condition,” he says, and Shōta looks at him, curious. Toshinori is looking at him with fire in his eyes, and it’s so easy to see that this man has bared All Might through his life. He’s confident, so sure that Shōta will not refuse him, and he’s dead right.

“You join me,” Toshinori says, his eyes closing a little, and Shōta melts. No one, not even in his wildest fantasies, has ever looked at Shōta the way Toshinori does. Shōta is it in Toshinori’s eyes, and the thought sends a thrill through him.

“Fine,” Shōta says with a smile, taking Toshinori’s hand and leading him to the bedroom. “But you have to sleep. You’ll need to work a little harder to get a leg over,” he says with a leer, and Toshinori laughs, shaking his head and squeezing Shōta’s hand.

“Flowers and candlelight,” Toshinori says, his eyes resting on Shōta as he undresses. His socks are the last to come off, and Shōta stands in the gloom of his room, the only light from the streetlamp next to his window streaming through the open blinds. His inkblot is over his heart, thrumming just out of time with his hammering heartbeat.

“Shōta,” Toshinori says, and they’re still close enough that he can reach his hand out to brush Shōta’s chest, knuckles cold as they press against Shōta’s bloom. His fingers curl into darkness, and Shōta smiles, catching Toshinori’s hand and bringing it to his mouth. He kisses his hand tenderly, waiting for what Toshinori is trying to verbalise.

“I’m not…” Toshinori’s hand is limp in Shōta’s hold, his eyes tracing the movement of their soulmarks. “I’m not whole. I’ve healed, the best that is possible, but it’s left me…”

“I won’t push you to show or tell me anything,” Shōta promises, pushing down the curl of curiosity. He knows Toshinori is ill, and it’s such a strange way of describing it. Of course Toshinori is whole, there’s no part of him that is missing.

“I just want you to bear it in mind. People tend to… react,” Toshinori says, gently extracting his hand from Shōta’s hold.

He unbuckles his trousers first, and they fall to the floor with a loud clank, too big and belt too heavy to stay up once opened. His legs are slim but muscular, and Shōta takes a moment to admire his thighs. They won’t crush any watermelons, but they are a sign of a man who takes care of himself, who can take care of himself, should push come to shove.

Toshinori’s hands are steady as he begins unbuttoning his shirt, slipping the jacket off before he gets halfway down, as if he forgot it entirely. He lets it fall to the floor in a heap, and then finishes unbuttoning his shirt. There is a flutter of fabric, and Shōta catches a glimpse of Toshinori’s side before he shrugs out of his shirt, and his eyes widen a fraction.

He understands instantly why Toshinori might not feel whole. His entire side looks like it’s been blown out, and something like that has to take bits and pieces with it. Shōta marvels at the man before him, at the definition to the muscles over his body and arms, at how he’s fought for the body he has, trained despite his injury, and Shōta cannot help but wonder how much pain Toshinori is in.

“I know it’s ugly,” Toshinori says, shaking his head and looking down, avoiding Shōta’s gaze. “I can wear my shirt if it’s-“

“I should have known you were a stubborn idiot from the sheer amount of paperwork you must have to get through,” Shōta says, and Toshinori looks up slowly, frowning. “Only a stubborn idiot could survive through that and then worry what other people think about them.”

Toshinori’s frown fades, but he’s no less confused, letting it show clear as day on his face.

“What I’m saying is it’s a terrible injury, no mistake about it. I’m sure you looked great before it, probably had to beat everyone off with a stick, right?” Shōta grins as Toshinori laughs, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. Good, Shōta thinks. “But I never knew him.”

Shōta sighs, shifting his weight onto one foot and crossing his arms over his chest. He’s never been the best at being open, but Toshinori has seen the best of him so far. He wants to be the best he can, all for Toshinori.

“I know you. Yagi Toshinori who had a life changing injury three years ago and is still suffering for it. That’s the man who is my soulmate, the man who I want to get to know, the man I…” Shōta swallows thickly, looking at the bed, the floor, anywhere far, far away from Toshinori. “The man I want to fall for.”

Toshinori doesn’t say anything, and Shōta is about to feel like an idiot when there’s a shuffle, and then he’s engulfed in the biggest hug of his life. He’s tucked neatly against Toshinori, arms wrapped tightly around his back, and it takes Shōta all of a second to unfold his arms and wrap them around Toshinori’s waist. He feels Toshinori flinch as he brushes the scar, but Shōta keeps holding him, knowing if he was hurting, Toshinori would say.

“Thank you,” Toshinori says, and Shōta smiles into his shoulder, running his hands up Toshinori’s back lightly, marvelling at how sensitive his skin is. There is so much to find out about Toshinori, and he is excited to get started.

“Come on,” Shōta says when Toshinori presses a kiss to his temple. “Bed.”

They clamber in, bodies pressed together, trying to warm the cool sheets. Toshinori shivers, a combination of tiredness and the chill, so Shōta pulls him closer, hooking a leg over Toshinori and nuzzling into his chest.

“Move me if it’s not comfortable,” he mumbles, shifting his pillows a little until he is warming up and comfortable. Toshinori takes a moment to settle his hands, and Shōta smiles against his skin when he finally relaxes, a deep breath huffing from him as he gives himself to Shōta.

They don’t do anything that night, which is a first for Shōta. He’s never slept in a bed with someone he’s been romantically or sexually interested in and not had any sexual contact. But then he’s never wanted onsen trips with anyone else before. Toshinori has brought about a change in Shōta’s life, and it’s because he cares.

Shōta wakes in the early dawn. They’d forgotten to shut the blinds, and he squints as the streetlamp flickers off, the sunlight warming the covers weakly as it begins to shine. Toshinori is fast asleep, hair skewered across the pillow, still facing Shōta. His brow is furrowed, one shoulder visible to the world, and Shōta tucks him back in, smoothing his brow with his fingers.

 

He can’t help himself, and when Toshinori’s brow relaxes, he moves his fingers down to play with his arm. The muscle there is compact, veins and scars dotting the skin. His arm tells a story, of a hard-won life and multiple hospital visits, but it’s not like Shouta isn’t used to that with his own body. Toshinori’s skin is smooth, and Shōta lets his mind wander into nothingness as he trails his fingers up and down, his eyes closing once more.

The next time he wakes, Shōta’s phone is blaring an alarm. He grabs it from under his pillow blearily, heart thumping as he sees it’s the brunch alarm, cuts it off and groans. Toshinori woke, sitting up with a hand over his mouth as his back hunches. He’s trying to stifle the coughs, and Shōta sits up to join him, aware these coughs aren’t just a regular person’s coughs.

His hunch is proved correct as he sees a drop of red through Toshinori’s fingertips, and Shōta’s off to the bathroom in an instant, grabbing a roll of toilet paper. He returns, kneeling on the bed beside Toshinori, and he meets Shōta’s gaze with a miserable, apologetic look.

“Here, here, here,” Shōta mumbles, grabbing a wad of tissue and moving Toshinori’s hand from his mouth. Blood spills down onto the sheets and Toshinori makes a sound of anguish, but Shōta doesn’t care about his covers.

“Stay still,” he says, pressing a wad of tissue into Toshinori’s hand and bringing another ball to his mouth, dabbing away at the stain across his chin.

Toshinori stills at the motion, his dirty hand curled in a ball between them. He watches with wide eyes as Shōta dabs at his bottom lip, free hand holding his jaw in place, scanning Toshinori’s neck and body for anything he needs to clean up. When he’s done, Shōta moves forward, pressing a soft, warm kiss to Toshinori’s lips. He feels resistance and moves back, letting his hand drop to Toshinori’s shoulder.

“Why would you kiss me?” Toshinori bursts out, face pale. He huffs up a cough, a small one, and wipes at his mouth with the back of his hand, playing with the bloodied tissue as he does so.

“I probably should have asked whether you had any blood-transferrable illnesses,” Shōta admits. “Though I feel you would have told me already… so I guess… my answer would be that I wanted to.”

Toshinori blinks, as if he can’t believe the reason Shōta would do something is merely because he wants to.

“You wanted to,” he parrots, and Shōta nods, standing and grabbing the dirty tissues. His fingertips come away red when he throws them in the bin, leaving the bedroom door open to the lounge/kitchen.

“I really wanted to,” Shōta amends, washing his hands. “A bit of blood isn’t going to put me off.”

Toshinori joins him tentatively, hovering in the bedroom doorway, duvet bundled up in front of him.

“It wasn’t just a bit,” Toshinori says, puffing the covers in his arms up. “It happens a lot too. I’m not… tidy. It’ll get worse the more I push myself, the doctors say, and in as little as two years… well…”

Shōta’s heart hammers in his chest at the way Toshinori trails off, and he wants to ask what he means when he says two years, but it’s not his business. Not right now, not in this moment. He’ll find out what happens in two years when they go through it together, and he’ll pull Toshinori through it. Two years isn’t enough time, and Shōta is selfish.

“I needed to wash the sheets anyway. I should have changed them last night, but then I’d have to admit what a dirty hobo I am.” Shōta rolls his shoulders. “Deal breakers are things like you’re actually a secret super villain who wants to murder everyone or you have a weird granny fetish, you’re using me as cover, and you’re going to break my heart.”

Toshinori laughs, and Shōta smiles.

“Sometimes I’m too harsh on everyone. Sometimes I don’t want to talk and will isolate myself. Sometimes I’ll lash out at people I care about because they want to help me, and I’ve always thought I could deal with my own shit. I’m not perfect, so who cares if you have a shitty cough or a few scars more than me.” Shōta shuffles across the room until he’s before Toshinori, the duvet between them. Toshinori drops half the covers to brush Shōta’s hair back, tilting his head in a soppy smile.

“Going back to the granny fetish,” he says, and Shōta hits him gently on the arm, pulling the covers over to his washing machine.

“It’ll happen at some point,” Shōta says a short while later, when they’re dressed. Toshinori’s borrowing a pair of his underwear and sweats, though has opted to keep his shirt. He looks good, relaxed, and it makes Shōta want to do something a little reckless. “But how would you like to meet my friends?”

Toshinori perks up instantly, setting his tea down and beaming.

“I’d like that very much,” he says, and Shōta almost feels sorry for him.

He has no idea what is coming for him.

.

Shōta, being Shōta, doesn’t bother to warn Hizashi or Nemuri that he’s bringing Toshinori with him, and he watches their faces with hidden glee. Hizashi goes from calling Shōta’s name to squawking, and Nemuri drops her fork, the nibbles she’d ordered in her boredom of waiting for Shōta falling to the floor.

“Barf-baby, it’s barf-baby guy,” Hizashi is saying, and Shōta rolls his eyes.

“He can’t help how loud he is,” he explains to Toshinori, who looks amused at the name. He waves a hand, sitting in an extra chair Shōta moves from the table beside them. He’s waving politely to Nemuri, and begins his introductions.

“My name is Yagi Toshinori, and as you undoubtedly know, I work at All Might’s agency. Secretarial work only,” Toshinori says, winking and turning to Shōta, smiling as if he did something outrageous. Shōta shrugs, leaning his arm against the back of Toshinori’s chair as Nemuri snatches at his hand, shaking it enthusiastically.

“It’s so good to meet you, Yagi-san!” she croons, fiddling with her glasses and shooting glances Shōta’s way. “We’re the only people who have been able to tolerate Shōta this far through his life, and we’re very pleased to welcome you to the club!”

“We should get T-shirts made,” Hizashi says, leaning an elbow on the table and pointing at Shōta.

“Stop being rude,” Shōta says, voice low and eyes on the menu as he looks for something Toshinori will like. He ignores Hizashi taking the piss out of him and instead points to a few things for the waitress who has just joined them.

“Shōta has told me a lot about you,” Toshinori says politely, and Shōta fights the urge to snort. Shōta has told him everything he needs to know in regard to how annoying his friends are, and what to avoid in conversation if one wants to keep it public-appropriate.

“You’re too nice,” Nemuri says, whirling to Shōta. “How did you end up with someone like Yagi-san as a soulmate? He’s nice!”

Her words have no bite to them, and Toshinori laughs at what she says, clearly as far from offended as he could be.

“We all know Shōta is a soft-hearted bastard really,” he says, and Nemuri lights up, as if it’s her birthday. Even Hizashi looks delighted at the phrase, and Shōta knows these three will be friends for life if he and Toshinori are going to be a thing.

“I’ve heard what Shōta has to say about you, but I’d like to learn more about you two. How is the radio show, Yamada-san?” Toshinori asks, and Shōta just sits back, adding what he needs to when required, but otherwise enjoying the atmosphere.

“Here, here, here,” Hizashi says over eggs, shoving his phone in Toshinori’s direction. “Look how grumpy he looked. I’m sooooooo glad I downloaded this folder onto my phone when I found out you guys were together, I knew it would come in handy!”

Shōta doubletakes as he catches sight of the images on Hizashi’s phone and his stomach drops.

“Break his phone,” Shōta says, fingers reaching for the phone as Toshinori stands, raising his arms as he flicks through the folder, laughter growing with each swipe.

“Hizashi,” Shōta says, quirk active as he glares at Hizashi for causing this suffering. He gives up on trying to wrestle his giant of a soulmate and instead reaches for his fork, ready to hurl it at Hizashi’s face.

“You were adorable, Shōta!” Toshinori says, finally setting the phone down. Hizashi wastes no time in snatching it back up, and Shōta lets him, eyes narrowed and fork still touching his fingertips. “And I can’t believe you actually wore that costume!”

Hizashi’s secret vault of Shōta blackmail material consists of one (1) drunken, half-naked selfie (top half only, but Shōta cringes at the fact he had sent it to Hizashi and not his then-current squeeze, and thank fuck it was just the top half) and approximately two thousand (2000) photos of Shōta back in their UA days, dressed in a tabby cat costume he’d agreed to during a dare. Shōta had lost, Hizashi had profited, and he’d never lived down.

“You make a cute cat,” Toshinori says, tapping Shōta’s hand gently, disarming him and moving the fork out of the way. “I once had to wear a lion costume for work.”

It’s said so casually that no one picks up on it, too busy at Shōta trying (and failing) to fit into the boy’s bathroom in his huge tabby cat mascot costume. When the words finally do trickle in, the table is silent and Toshinori rubs at the back of his neck, smiling.

“It was before I went pro, I did some really low-level advertising. I must have been…. 17 tops?” Toshinori nods to himself, smiling at the memories. “I don’t have any photos and the ad campaign never really took off, but I think my old teacher has a photo or two stashed away somewhere. I’ll email him tonight, and let you guys know!”

The conversation drifts then, and Toshinori is overjoyed at hearing the inner workings of UA. He asks after a few teachers, most of who are retired now, and integrates so well into Sunday brunch that it’s hard to believe it’s his first.

“I have to go and prepare for an interview,” Hizashi says when they leave the café, and he heads out after hugging Shōta and high-fiving Toshinori. Nemuri makes a similar excuse, and Shōta knows the pair of them are lying through their teeth. Nemuri reserves Sunday afternoons for catching up on trashy TV and slobbing, and Hizashi already prepared for his interview two night ago, based on the messages he sent to their group chat. Still, he appreciates what they’re trying to do, and isn’t surprised when Nemuri pauses before heading off.

“You are good for each other,” she says, fixing both of them a look. “Just remember to take care of each other, alright? You both look like you could use it.”

She presses a kiss to Shōta’s cheek, hugs Toshinori, and then she’s off. It’s just the two of them then, and Shōta smiles gently, catching Toshinori’s fingers with his own.

“I don’t suppose you have any plans today?” he asks, hoping for casual but knowing it comes off eager. Shōta doesn’t have the energy to care.

“I wanted to pop home to grab some clothes, but after that…” Toshinori looks at Shōta hopefully, and he ducks his head down, looking away as he pulls Toshinori towards the train station.

“The sooner you get home, the sooner you can come back,” Shōta says at the platform, and he pretends to be unaffected when Toshinori kisses his forehead, almost missing his train just to give Shōta a hint of the affection he’ll shower down later.

Shōta, for his part, wanders the entire way home with a smile on his face.

Chapter Text

They have their first major disagreement three months into things. Shōta can’t even remember how it starts, perhaps they’re passing by a shop with papers blaring the latest news, or perhaps there was a kid with an All Might figurine, or maybe both. However it started, Shōta knows how it panned out.

“It’s an inappropriate abuse of a hero’s power,” Shōta finds himself saying, shrugging his capture weapon further up his shoulders, burrowing his face in it. “Too much publicity and the media think they own you.”

“The media are the media,” Toshinori replies, voice a little snipped. He’s smiling, though, and continues. “Not everything the agency does is in the media’s eyes. There are plenty of cases that pass by unnoticed because we make sure they stay unnoticed. Regardless, there needs to be a symbol.”

Shōta grunts.

“And that’s the problem,” he says, and Toshinori’s smile drops.

“I don’t suppose you really remember a world without a Symbol of Peace,” Toshinori replies, and Shōta rolls his eyes.

“You really aren’t massively older than me, you know,” he says, elbowing Toshinori gently. “But we shouldn’t have to rely on one pillar of support. It’s inevitable that it’ll topple, you know that, right?” Shōta asks, wondering whether Toshinori really is star struck by All Might after all.

“Of course I know that, it’s something I live with every day Shōta,” he says, and there’s a touch of anger and embarrassment to his voice. Shōta frowns, but they keep walking.

“Then you should agree that it’s ridiculous to adhere to the press as much as All Might’s agency do. I swear you guys have a camping area for journalists in your lobby, and as for All Might…” Shōta’s lip curls in annoyance. Everything he does is possible because he is subtle and hidden. Everything All Might does is for show.

“So you don’t think showing up at a rescue scene and telling people that it’s okay because I’m here now is a good thing?” Toshinori says, and Shōta looks at him sharply. His voice is tight, cheeks pinched with anger, and Shōta knows they’ve crossed the line now.

“I’m saying that everything in our hero system is shit. All Might exists because of a bigger problem, and you guys are doing nothing but fuelling that problem by giving the press exactly what they want.” Shōta shoves his face into his capture weapon, frustration rising inside of him. He isn’t explaining himself properly, and he really doesn’t want to dig into what he hates about the hero world in public.

“You think All Might is a problem?” Toshinori says, and of course that’s the only thing he takes from it.

Shōta rolls his eyes and digs his keys out of his pocket as they arrive before his apartment building.

“No, there’s a bigger problem. All Might is just one of many things fuelling it.” Shōta closes his eyes, wishing for his eyedrops. They’re upstairs, forgotten, just how he wishes this conversation could be.

“Do you have a solution?” Toshinori asks, and he’s steps away from Shōta, at the bottom of the steps up to the door, eyes bright as he looks up. It’s a challenge, and Shōta looks down, hair clouding his view.

“No,” he admits. “The best I can do is to train the students to their potential, even if it means throwing out the ones who have none. They’ll hate me, but it’s better than them ending up dead chasing ridiculous dreams.”

There’s the sound of feet moving, and Toshinori swings an arm around Shōta’s shoulders, leading them away from the lobby and to the elevator. Shōta blinks, Toshinori smiles, and when the elevator doors close, Shōta finds himself pressed against the mirror panel, Toshinori kissing him soundly. Perhaps he does understand Shōta’s issues with the hero system after all.

“You’re doing your best, in your own way,” Toshinori says when they part, their noses resting against each other. Shōta steals a kiss before he continues. “I just want you to know I’m doing my best, in my own way too. Let me have that much.”

Shōta sighs, leaning against the elevator as it moves up, Toshinori crowding him against the wall.

“It’s hard. I want to retire peacefully one day, and I want the same for you,” he says quietly, and Toshinori seems to sink, his lips brushing Shōta’s cheek gently.

“I can’t make a promise,” Toshinori says, “But I can try.”

They get out at Shōta’s floor, shuffling towards his door. They’re tangled together, Shōta walking backwards, kissing like teenagers after their first date. It’s sweet in a way Shōta hasn’t seen Toshinori, as if he’s trying to be earnest and open. He wants Shōta to see him, and Shōta wants him to know he’s accepted wholly and completely.

“I want you always to be honest,” Toshinori says as Shōta jiggles the door open, key sticking in the lock. He’s half tempted to leave it there, if Toshinori is going to keep standing right behind him, mouth at his ear. “I need you to be honest with me, always.”

The door gives. Shōta pulls Toshinori in by the shirt, wasting no time in kicking the door shut and pulling him to the bedroom.

“I’ll always be honest,” he promises, kissing Toshinori gently, hands brushing against his forearms. Toshinori’s skin breaks into goosebumps and he inhales shakily, pupils wide as he meets Shōta’s gaze.

As Toshinori lifts his shirt up and off, Shōta unravels his capture weapon. They throw them on the floor, peeling Shōta out of his jumpsuit, and Toshinori smiles down at him, eyes soft as he kisses Shōta’s collarbone.

Shōta inhales slowly as Toshinori presses gentle kisses to his skin, working along his clavicle until he reaches the dip of his throat. It’s soft, sweet, and Shōta loves it, but it’s not what he needs right now.

“Too gentle?” Toshinori asks as he pulls up, on all fours above Shōta. His hair brushes Shōta’s cheek, and he smiles, teeth flashing in the slight gloom of the bedroom. The clouds have collected in the skies and Shōta thinks it will rain.

“Stop me if I get too rough then,” Toshinori says, and excitement bubbles in Shōta’s chest. He returns to kissing Shōta’s neck, this time nipping the skin gently, enough to pepper Shōta’s pale skin with the tiniest of red marks. It feels good, a slight tinge of pain, and he arches his back, rolling his hips a little.

It works. Toshinori presses down against him with a lazy sigh, pulling back to look down at Shōta. He feels so powerful to Shōta like this, above him, and Shōta thinks it is such a shame the world has never gotten to see Yagi Toshinori. He’d do well with power, Shōta thinks, and he reaches to pull him down, kissing his lips deeply.

Toshinori is pure energy as they kiss, shifting until his thigh is between Shōta’s legs, one arm smoothing the soft skin of Shōta’s belly, dipping down his navel and teasing his fingertips at the hair above the waistline of his pants. Shōta huffs into his mouth, ready to accuse Toshinori of torturing him, but he pauses. This isn’t torture, not when they’ve barely started, and there’s a look in Toshinori’s eyes that says he has something to prove.

Fingers toy with the hem of Shōta’s pants and he tilts his hips, hoping Toshinori will take pity on him. What he gets instead is a kiss to his shoulder, and then Toshinori’s hand is gone, squeezing his hip instead. His hand is large and strong, and Shōta shivers, eyes meeting Toshinori’s. He receives a grin, and then Toshinori lowers his head again, kissing Shōta’s jugular.

He is gentle at first, as always, and Shōta exposes more of his neck as Toshinori bites down. His teeth sink down and one of Shōta’s hands comes to tangle in Toshinori’s hair, holding him there as he sucks, tongue lapping the sore skin when he pulls back. It’ll be enough to bruise and it thrills Shōta, to have marks on him that Toshinori put there. And he has decent enough concealer to avoid awkward comments from friends and students.

Toshinori leaves Shōta’s neck the moment Shōta begins grinding against his thigh, and he looks to happy when Shōta opens his eyes in protest. He cradles Shōta’s head in his hands, kissing him on the lips, and Shōta wraps his arms around his shoulders. Toshinori’s thumbs press the hollows under his cheekbones, and then his hands are gone, finally, finally cupping Shōta through his underwear.

He doesn’t move his hand, has no need to, but he lets Shōta grind, kissing him as if it’s his only way of getting oxygen. It’s Shōta who has to break them, back supported by one of Toshinori’s arms and his dick dripping through his pants. If he cared whether he looked shameless or not, Shōta might feel embarrassed, but he can see the desire and excitement in the way Toshinori licks his lips.

His thumbs hook Shōta’s pants down, and he takes his time to trace his fingers against Shōta’s thighs, then over his knees and finally free of his legs altogether. They disappear like the rest of their clothes, and Shōta blinks as he realised Toshinori is fully naked too. His eyes shutter closed fully as Toshinori moves them, and their cocks are together now, soft skin turning hot and wet. It feels good, and Shōta lets Toshinori do as he wants.

There is a pause, Toshinori pressing apology kisses to Shōta’s brow before he moves over him to dig around in the bedside table. Shōta makes the most of the opportunity to hook a leg over Toshonori’s waist and cling to him, mouth mapping the musculature and bone of Toshinori’s chest. He settles on Toshinori’s nipple, teeth catching the sensitive skin, and Shōta grins as Toshinori shudders, hand clutching something and pulling it out of the drawers.

“This will have to do,” he mumbles, referring to their smallest and shittiest bottle of lube, as well as a condom. It’ll do indeed, Shōta thinks, and grins as Toshinori slaps the bottom of the lube, not even trying to take this slowly. He is eager, and so is Shōta.

They move until Shōta has a blanket piled up under his hips, and it’s hardly the most comfortable thing, but he doesn’t care. Not when Toshinori has three slicked fingers inside of him and he’s pressing his ass back into them, hands stretched up to clutch the pillows. He feels full, comfortable, and twinges as Toshinori pulls back, stroking the skin of Shōta’s ass lovingly.

“Let me know if I go too quickly,” Toshinori says softly, and Shōta winces as he presses his cock in, slowly and steady, ever the gentleman. It isn’t long before he’s moving, and Shōta closes his eyes, heart swelling with him with every move.

Shōta shudders as Toshinori presses into him, eyes closing as he pushes up with his arms, grinding back. Toshinori goes hard, elbow on the back of Shōta’s shoulders, forcing him back down. Shōta’s cheek mushes into the bed as Toshinori pulls back, thrusting in again smoothly, and he shivers. It’s good, the sensation of being overwhelmed and kept down is something Shōta doesn’t usually get. He wants it, and curls his hand up, hoping Toshinori sees.

He does, of course he does. In an instant he’s shifting, not once breaking the pace of his thrusts – and Shōta thinks he needs an award for that at the very least – to change arms and thread his fingers with Shōta’s. Kisses pepper the nape of his neck, and Shōta hums as Toshinori slows just a touch, a little more direction to his thrust.

“More,” he manages out, and he hears Toshinori huff, though Shōta isn’t sure whether it’s from humour, pleasure, or exertion.

“Yes, boss,” Toshinori says brightly, and Shōta shifts one of his thighs, destabilising them. Toshinori flops over him, fully inside Shōta, and laughs in his ear.

“Not your style?” he asks, and Shōta rolls his eyes, letting go of Toshinori’s hand and pushing up onto all fours. He settles himself, grabbing each of Toshinori’s hands and placing them on top of his own. There’s enough of a size difference for it to work, and Shōta throws his head back, pressing a kiss to Toshinori’s cheek.

“Fuck me,” he demands, and Toshinori cranes his neck, planting a wet kiss on the corner of Shōta’s lips. He looks as if he’s about to make another stupid comment, but Shōta rocks back, and that’s that sorted.

“Fuck me ,” Toshinori replies, in English and whispered into Shōta’s hairline. He inhales sharply and then moves, thick and full inside of Shōta. He’s slick, pulling back until he’s almost out, and then curving up and in delectably. He knows what Shōta wants, what he needs, and Shōta’s head stays back, breaths coming sharp and short as Toshinori pushes back, hard and fast.

He’s huge, Shōta thinks, and he feels overwhelmed by the sheer size of Toshinori above him. If possible, he’s grown, bearing down with more force and will, and Shōta’s breath hitches as he feels himself grow close. He bites his lip as Toshinori moves one of his hands, sending them tilting, but he wraps the hand around Shōta’s cock, and he can hardly complain. He moans, in fact, and feels a tight curl in his stomach, pleasure building until he comes as a gasp.

Shōta is barely aware of anything, the bites on his neck pulsing with his heartbeat, body sinking as his arms quiver. Toshinori catches him as he rolls over, and Shōta smiles.

“Did you come?” he asks softly, though he can tell by the flush to Toshinori’s cheeks and the way his chest is rising rapidly as he catches his breath that he did. Toshinori nods, presses a kiss to Shōta’s bicep.

“I think I missed the bin when I threw the condom,” he admits, and Shōta snorts in laughter, shuffling back so they’re pressed together, all gross, sweaty and blissed out of their minds.

“It’s not often I hear someone criticising the hero industry, in particular All Might,” Toshinori says, and Shōta brings a hand over to play with the muscle on Toshinori’s stomach. He doesn’t really get why it made Toshinori hot and bothered, but he enjoyed it, and unless he’s asked to dress up like All Might in some weird roleplay, Shōta thinks he can cope.

“Well, aside from Endeavor,” Toshinori mumbles, and Shōta’s cock stirs as he presses a kiss behind Shōta’s ear, moving down to graze his teeth against the bites he placed a little earlier. The skin is sore and Shōta’s breath hitches with desire all over again. “Not that that is a fair criticism,” Toshinori continues, and Shōta surges up and over Toshinori in an impressive display of coherence.

“Keep talking about Endeavor, and you won’t get to find out what I’m going to do to you,” Shōta says, and Toshinori gulps, eyes widening. He traces Toshinori’s face, memorising the eagerness and the confidence he can see, and Shōta feels pride swell in his chest. He leans down, kissing Toshinori deeply.

“It’s natural to have different opinions,” Shōta says when he pulls back, distracted ever so slightly by the fullness of Toshinori’s lips. “But it’s never personal against you. If I cross that line, I want you to call me out on it, please.”

Toshinori’s smile is bright in agreement, and then he’s pulling Shōta down, their thoughts slipping away entirely.

.

It isn’t often anymore that Shōta’s on the floor of Nemuri’s apartment cradling an alcohol bottle, but tonight is an exception.

“He’ll never come back,” Shōta whispers, and Nemuri grins down at him, pulling at the bottle. Shōta reacts sluggishly, reaching after the bottle as Nemuri tucks it under her own arm.

“I think that’s more than enough for you Shō-chan!” she giggles, and then somehow ends up on the floor too, though Shōta blinked the moment she fell. Obviously he’s a lot more drunk than he ever intended to be tonight.

“Toshinori’s gone,” he says instead, and Nemuri pulls a sad face.

“Gone!” she says, eyes wide and tearing up. “No!” Nemuri giggles again, slumping against Shōta. He can hear Hizashi’s party in full swing, and is glad he’s in Nemuri’s hall and not roped into a drinking game. Again.

“Only for the week,” Shōta amends, and Nemuri passes him the alcohol, patting his shoulder.

“That’s alright then! No problem!” she shouts, slumping back down. She’s an erratic drunk, and Shōta’s just glad she’s not shaking him or shouting at him for one thing or another. “He wants your babies, you know,” Nemuri confides, smiling brightly as she turns Shōta’s face to her.

“But I want his babies,” Shōta mumbles, and Nemuri laughs loudly.

“Have a surprise baby swap then,” she says, and somehow manages to bounce upwards until she’s standing (again it happens in the time Shōta takes to blink), and Nemuri offers him a hand. “Now stop wallowing out here. Yagi-san will be back soon, and next year he can be the one moaning with you in the hall about how you two can’t physically carry babies yourselves.”

“We can get cats,” Shōta mumbles, and a little tension he was holding inside of him releases. They’re going to be okay. Toshinori and him can’t have babies in the traditional sense, but there are options . Of course there are always options!

“Thanks, Nemuri,” Shōta says, leaning heavily against her as they move back to the lounge. A few people have peeled off home, but the party is pretty much still in full swing, and Hizashi is standing on Nemuri’s couch, shirtless and dancing with three other people, none of whom Shōta can recognise.

He does what any sensible person would and seals himself inside Nemuri’s bedroom, falling dead-asleep in the corner after grabbing one of the blankets she has thrown over the floor.

It’s a few hours later that he wakes, his phone buzzing as he also hears a rhythmic thumping from the middle of the room. Shōta groans, the world dizzy. He’s still completely trashed, but he feels like he might be able to string a sentence together, at least enough to answer his phone.

“Hllll,” is what comes out of his mouth, and Shōta closes his eyes, lying back down on the floor as he lets the phone fall away from his ear slightly.

“You sound like you’re having fun,” Toshinori says with a laugh, and Shōta groans. Music is still thumping away in the other room, he can hear someone having sex near him, and Shōta sits up quickly, pulling as face as he sees Nemuri grinding down on someone, whoever it is obscured by bedding.

“Fucking hell,” Shōta says down the phone, accepting his fate and lying back down. “I passed out on Nemuri’s bedroom floor, and she’s in here fucking someone.”

There’s a whiney moan to accompany Shōta’s words, and he pinches the bridge of his nose. He’s 28 years old and way too old for this kind of shit. Toshinori laughs down the phone as the moan turns practically porn-style, and there is no way Nemuri isn’t faking that.

“Help me Toshinori, I can’t take this,” Shōta says. “Please.”

“I’m not sure how I can help,” Toshinori says, and there’s a rustle in the background. It sounds like bedsheets, and Shōta curses. He has no idea what the time is, but it has to be late.

“I’m not keeping you up, am I?” Shōta says, though he’s sure only half of it comes out as eloquently as he wants. Nemuri moans again, and Shōta closes his eyes, gritting his teeth. He had two options; rejoin the party outside, which has probably turned into half an orgy anyway and not be able to hear Toshinori over the music, or stay here in the corner of Nemuri’s room, unnoticed thus far and able to talk to Toshinori.

He knows which one wins, even if Nemuri is busy making her partner whimper.

“Not at all,” Toshinori says, and Shōta knows he’s grinning. “This is the most exciting phone call I’ve had in a long while, though I’m not sure how I’ll be able to look Midnight in the eye next time we meet.”

That’s fair, Shōta thinks, remembering the first time Nemuri fucked someone while Shōta was in the same room. They’d been teenagers, not too long out of school, and Shōta had watched in growing alarm as Nemuri had flirted with one of her classmates, someone she’d been after for ages. They’d got down and dirty under the table, and Shōta had stood guard, anxious someone else would notice and say something.

No one except Shōta ever did notice, and he still doesn’t know what that means.

“Yes!” Nemuri shouts, and Shōta hunkers down a little more in the corner, pulling the blanket over his head. It’s a feeble barrier, but it gives Shōta some semblance of privacy.

“How was your day?” Shōta asks, and Toshinori huffs.

“I was planning on telling you all about how exciting the court meetings were for this particular case, don’t get me wrong,” Toshinori says, and he sounds a little winded, words slightly disjointed. Shōta feels less drunk in an instant and his eyes widen.

“Toshinori, you can’t be serious,” he hisses, and Toshinori laughs, cutting off into a slight groan. “Nemuri mimicking a porn star cannot be turning you on right now.”

Shōta clutches the phone to his ear tightly as Toshinori breathes heavily, struggling to find the energy for words.

“Not Nemuri,” he says, low in his throat. “It’s not unwanted, but thinking of her doing something led me to thinking of you doing something, with me.”

There’s a pause and Shōta wastes no time in unzipping his pants and shoving his hand inside. He’s half-hard, cock heavy against his thigh, and he bites his lip as he feels himself filling with desire.

“Hearing her moaning… I want to do that to you.” Toshinori sighs, a shudder flowing through Shōta as the tip of his cock presses against the fabric of his pants. “That’s a bit weird, isn’t it?” he asks after a moment, and Shōta grins, licking his lips.

“Hey, you’re not the one wanking in the corner of her room on the phone to your boyfriend,” he says, humming to himself as Toshinori stutters, heaving out a breath. His voice sounds a little clotted as he speaks, but he’s still breathing heavily so he can’t be too put-out.

“What are you wearing,” Toshinori says, and it’s such a classic line that Shōta snorts in laughter, shifting his legs apart for better access.

“My nicest jumpsuit,” he says, thumbing the tip of his dick and covering his head with fluid. He bites his lip, imagining that it’s Toshinori’s hand, that he’s the one teasing him right here right now.

“I’m naked,” Toshinori offers, and there’s a rustle of sheets. “I wish you were here, spread-eagle on this huge western-styled bed. They have thick pillows, enough to get lost in, but that’s not what I’d want to bury my face in,” he says, and dear god if he’s going to carry on like that, he better make good on his promises when he returns.

“Next year when Nemuri hosts Hizashi’s party, I want to fuck you on her bed, porno style noises and everything,” Shōta says, and he lets out a moan as he moves his hand over his cock, pumping slowly.

“Yeah?” Toshinori says, voice wavering slightly. “Imagine I’m holding you, and you can feel my cock between us.”

Shōta wets his lips, curling his hand and arching his back a little, just enough to take it off the wooden floor.

“It’s all for you, Shōta, and what you do to me. I like to imagine you grinding back on me, and you know that there’s nothing else in the world that can undo me like you do,” Toshinori says, and Shōta presses his eyes together. His fingers must be white where they’re gripping the phone, and he forces himself to relax so he doesn’t break the screen.

“Tell me what you’d do to me,” Toshinori says, his voice like sin across the phoneline, and Shōta gasps, hips twitching.

“I’d start by kissing you softly, only on the mouth,” Shōta says, imagining Toshinori under him, skin flushed and skin so responsive to his touch. He imagines Toshinori curving up as he moves down, inkblot following the places Shōta kisses and leaves, chasing him all the way down until his nose is pressed to Toshinori’s cock.

“I’m not going to touch your cock though,” Shōta whispers, opening one eye slightly, sweat beading on his brow. “You’re going to have to beg me for it.”

“How will you make me beg?” Toshinori replies, breath coming quick and short. Shōta could leave him, string him along, tease him, do a hundred and one things, and he revels in it. He’s done this to Toshinori, and become this because of him.

“I’ll use my mouth across the rest of you first, discover your sensitive places,” Shōta promises, biting his bottom lip at the thought. His hand stalls, Toshinori’s breathy moan over the phone sending shivers through him.

“I’ll kiss you until you’re begging,” Shōta says, and moves his hand again, imagining there is a warm body behind him, Toshinori’s hands on his hips. “I want you to be rutting against me like an animal,” Shōta continues, and Toshinori hums in amusement.

“I’m sure I’ll be very obliging,” he offers, and Shōta cups his balls, squeezing gently. Toshinori’s hand would be better, spreading Shōta open, letting Shōta press him into the floor, letting Shōta do anything and everything he’s even dreamt of.

“And when you’re begging,” Shōta says, thighs quivering as he strokes his cock, his stomach clenching in anticipation. “When you’re begging, I’ll wait until all you can think about is me, opening you up, plunging into you, filling you-“

There’s a noise down the line and Shōta grins, curling his wrist and moving his hand quicker as he hears Toshinori stutter. He comes, a moan bursting from his throat, and Shōta feels on top of the world.

“You’ll be the death of me,” Toshinori says, breathing still ragged. He seems to sense that Shōta isn’t finished, or can hear the movement of fabric and skin despite Nemuri’s growing whimpers, and his tone turns coy.

“I’ll need a demonstration of what you meant of course. No one’s ever made me beg before, but I’d go down on my knees at your slightest command,” Toshinori says, and it’s all Shōta needs, the image of him looking up from Shōta’s knees, all his to look after.

He doesn’t quite black out, but Shōta’s awareness drifts for a moment, ecstasy pulling at him. It pools all over him, despite the floor that is determined to do his back in and Nemuri’s shrieks. She’s having fun, that’s true, but Shōta still isn’t convinced she’s being honest.

“…I hope her partner does at least reward her with the minimum of two orgasms with that performance,” Toshinori is saying when Shōta’s brain catches up.

“Hey,” he interrupts, and Toshinori laughs, a deep bellow that sends a flush through Shōta.

“Hey yourself,” Toshinori replies gently, and Shōta can imagine what he looks like. His hair will be ruffled, naked and sat up in bed with moonlight spilling over him from a nearby window. He’ll look beautiful, everything Shōta’s ever wanted for clandestine phone sex.

“I miss you,” Shōta admits, half-expecting a laugh as a reply. He’s definitely still drunk if he’s admitting shit like that, though, and Shōta is glad he has something to blame.

“I miss you too,” Toshinori says instead of laughing. “After this I might be able to take a day or two as holiday. We should do something!”

They murmur a few plans, but Shōta can tell Toshinori is tiring. He decides to say goodnight, plans to shuffle further into his corner and ignore what has to be the climax of Nemuri and nameless paramour. He gets as far as saying goodnight, but before he can hang up the phone, there’s shuffling on the bed and the door opens, a figure slipping quickly back to the party.

“Don’t think I don’t know you’re there, Shōta,” Nemuri says, and Shōta rolls his eyes, not bothering to shift. He hears Toshinori wish him a good luck, a laugh echoing through the line, before he hangs up, leaving Shōta to face Nemuri alone.

“That was a quick finish,” Shōta snipes back.

“He was done ages ago darling,” Nemuri drawls, and Shōta just wants to sleep now. “Get up on the bed like a proper human being.”

Shōta doesn’t argue. He knows he’ll be dragged there whether he likes it or not, so he might as well acquiesce now, before Nemuri physically hauls him up.

“How is Yagi-san?” she asks, and Shōta contemplates missing the bed entirely and joining the party outside. He can smell weed, however, and Shōta knows if he wanders in now, he’ll end up dealing with a blazed Hizashi, and all a blazed Hizashi wants to do is tell embarrassing stories about Shōta.

What’s better, embarrassing stories to strangers or opening up to Nemuri?

“You two are always welcome to come over and I can watch you or something,” Nemuri says with a grin, and Shōta decides he’s too tired for either options, but Nemuri comes with a bed.

“I don’t think we’re into that,” he mumbles, slipping under the covers. Nemuri snuggles up to him immediately, and Shōta almost wrinkles his nose at the fact she’s naked. Except then he’d have to focus on the fact he’s covered in his own come, and really he’s not sober enough to address either issues. Sorry morning Shōta.

“Well, let me know,” she mumbles. “I know we’ve done some weird shit over the years,” Nemuri continues, and Shōta blinks slowly, brain struggling to follow the conversation with the lull of a warm, comfortable bed.

“He’s good for you though. You really, really like him, don’t you?” Nemuri says, but Shōta doesn’t have an answer. He’s too tired, and instead shuts his eyes and finally drifts.

.

When Shōta wakes, he can hear three voices and the bed is moving. He doesn’t jump up, hoping Nemuri hasn’t decided on a round 2 with whoever she fucked last night, but it’s a close thing.

“He’s going to be pissed when he wakes up,” one of the voices says – Hizashi. Okay, so Nemuri’s not having sex, but that begs the question of what they are doing.

“You should have handcuffed him so he can’t run after you,” comes a voice, and it’s fucking Toshinori over the phone.

Shōta’s eyes snap open and he does sit up, glaring at where Nemuri and Hizashi are on the edge of the bed, Shōta’s phone in their hand, giggling away at Toshinori.

“Oh-oh,” Toshinori says, and the others whip around, fleeing the bed as they notice Shōta is up.

“What have you done,” he hisses, and the others run , fleeing the room like fucking kids. Shōta sighs, hating the fact he chose to keep these two idiots as his friends, and ducks into Nemuri’s wardrobe. She has spare clothes for him, at the bottom by her boots, and Shōta grabs black sweatpants and a white top.

When he heads into her bathroom, it’s clear what Hizashi and Nemuri have done. A cock drawn in permanent marker sits on his forehead, and there are cat whiskers on his cheeks. He closes his eyes, counts to ten, and then opens them again. Nope, still there.

It takes Shōta thirty minutes to shower and then scrub his face with Nemuri’s rubbing alcohol. His face stings as he heads out to the lounge, and Shōta stands in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest, wrinkling his nose at the smell of stale weed and party debris. The windows are open, for all the good it’s doing.

“You can see the skyscraper from here, right?” Toshinori is saying, and both Hizashi and Nemuri are crowded by Shōta’s phone. “That’s where they filmed the confession scene, there’s a little plaque on the rooftop.”

“I can’t believe you’re there!” Nemuri croons, gripping Hizashi’s arm. “The place where Aoba and Yuki first got together!”

“Oi,” Shōta interrupts, derailing Nemuri’s trail of conversation. He doesn’t want to hear about her ridiculous TV show again. “Give me my phone back.”

He stalks towards them, but Hizashi shakes his head.

“You need to share Yagi-san more, he’s been showing off so much cool stuff!” Hizashi says, and Shōta is amazed at the fact his friends are just huge children.

“Yeah! You always get Yagi-san, and you barely bring him to brunch.” Nemuri whips back to the phone. “Yagi-san, you’re invited to brunch every week. Even if Shōta isn’t there.”

Shōta would complain at the fact his friends are monopolising his boyfriend, but he really doesn’t mind. He squeezes in between Nemuri and Hizashi, takes the phone from Hizashi and sits back on the sofa.

“So which one of you assholes decided to draw a cock on my head,” he says, noting Hizashi shuffle away.

“I’ll admit the whiskers were my idea,” Toshinori says, coughing lightly as he laughs. Shōta smiles at him, before grabbing Hizashi’s arm. “I can’t say who decided on the penis,” he says, all professional.

“What’s your schedule today?” he asks Toshinori, gripping Hizashi’s arm tighter. There are ways to get a confession, and Shōta knows how to make Hizashi sweat. Restraining and ignoring him works a treat.

Toshinori seems a little bemused by it all.

“More meetings, and then we’re supposed to be doing some training. Or rather I’ll be running through a training programme with some graduates here and monitoring them.” Toshinori takes pride in the thought, and Shōta thinks it is a lovely idea. He knows Toshinori has spent a lot of time devising training plans, and the group he’s gone to help All Might assist asked for training plans specifically. He wants heroes to look after themselves while they’re becoming their best potential, and Shōta takes pride in the fact that there is at least one person in All Might’s close circle who cares.

“It should be interesting. We’ve already managed to reduce the petty crime level in this area by 40%!” Toshinori gives a thumbs up, and Shōta lets his hand relax slightly. Hizashi twitches.

“I need to talk to Hizashi now,” Shōta says, and Toshinori laughs, bright and cough-free. He’s having a very good day, and Shōta likes to think it’s because he had a very good night. “I’ll speak to you later.”

As soon as Toshinori is gone, Shōta turns to Hizashi. Nemuri vanished some time ago, though she pokes her head out of the bedroom as soon as she realises that Toshinori is gone and Hizashi is going to face Shōta’s wrath.

“It was just a bit of fun!” Hizashi says, grinning. “You’re a dickhead most of the time, it was appropriate!”

He chuckles as Shōta pushes him off the couch, rolling onto the floor.

“We like Toshinori you know,” Hizashi says, and he’s now got his head by Shōta’s feet, fingers playing with the frayed fabric at the ankle of his sweatpants.

“I know you do,” Shōta replies, closing his eyes and smiling to himself. “I like him too. Now get the fuck up, or I’ll stomp on your stupid face.” Which, when Shōta actually looks at Hizashi, is missing half of his moustache. He looks over to Nemuri who shakes her head, eyes wide.

Well Shōta certainly isn’t going to be the one to tell him. He grins, and Hizashi pales, shooting upwards and running to the kitchen. Sometimes the best kinds of revenge were the ones where Shōta didn’t even have to do anything at all.

.

Sometimes Shōta worries that all of this is too easy. There has to be a catch somewhere, surely, so when things start to snag, Shōta knows it was just a matter of time. He resigns himself to it, tries to tell himself the niggling in the back of his head is nothing, but that hardly works.

It starts with a business trip in the autumn, Toshinori kissing Shōta goodbye at his apartment. He’d slept over as Shōta’s was closer to the city centre, and he leaves quickly and quietly. Shōta rolls into the warm patch on the bed, not ready to accept he has to get up for classes soon.

The trip itself is part of a case Toshinori has been working. All Might had, apparently, been requested by a friend of Toshinori’s for this case, so that meant Toshinori was working very closely with the police. It didn’t bother Shōta, and he’d even been invited to dinner with Tsukauchi, though politely declined. He liked Tsukauchi, after all, and didn’t much want to be at a table sharing dinner with All Might and discussing business. Their worlds were far too different.

“I’m sorry I can’t tell you more,” Toshinori had said, days before he left. “I won’t be gone long, hopefully.”

Toshinori, Tsukauchi, and a handful of other heroes and police had headed out to the next city over. The All Might tracker! app has a handful of appearances in the city, but a few scattered all over Japan, as usual. Nothing to highlight that they were focusing in one area.

Shōta has half an ear on the news between classes. There’s been some fighting in the next town over, rumours All Might is implicated, but it’s not enough to make Shōta take any notice. Toshinori messages him sporadically over the day, and he doesn’t mention anything about fighting or having to hunker down on paperwork.

These rumours continue for a few days, until the entire nation seems a little perplexed by what is happening. Shōta catches his class talking about it before he starts teaching. He’s slumped on the floor, unnoticed yet by the class, and he listens as they discuss what All Might is doing. There’s one theory he’s trying to flush a cluster of villains out, another that he’s been brainwashed, and one more that says he’s filming for a show. Shōta chooses his moment after that to appear to his class, clambering up out of his sleeping bag and glaring at them.

It’s a week since Toshinori left that Shōta gets a clue about what’s happening. He’s on his morning commute when his phone buzzes.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Should be back tonight, want to get food?

Shōta smiles at his phone, glad that, regardless of the mystery, he’ll have Toshinori back.

To: Yagi Toshinori

I’ll order food. See you tonight.

Shōta’s thumb hovers over a heart emoji, and he can’t seem to commit himself to it. He sighs, sends the message, and then sends a yellow heart emoji before he can chicken out. Toshinori will like it, even if Shōta feels like an idiot for using it.

He doesn’t hear back all day, and that’s not unusual. There’s a stir in the staffroom at lunch, some of the teachers crowding the TV as Tsukauchi’s face appears on it, discussing something to do with explosions and All Might. Toshinori isn’t there, as usual, most likely bogged down by paperwork, so Shōta ignores it.

Shōta still hasn’t heard from Toshinori by 9pm, and that is a problem. He’s at home, waiting, food sitting in front of him on the coffee table. He’s tempted to message Hizashi and Nemuri and ask for their advice, but he’s an adult. He can’t just ask his friends for help when something doesn’t go to plan. Okay, he can, but he’ll look like an idiot if Toshinori is just about to walk through the door, so he puts a pause on that. He’ll figure it out for himself. Or, well, wait 24 hours and then run to the group chat.

Shōta’s sent three messages in the past two hours. They haven’t been seen, and Shōta decides he can ring Toshinori. He dials, the phone rings, and it just keeps ringing. There’s no mailbox, no apology message, it just keeps ringing and ringing and ringing.

“Fuck,” Shōta says, tapping his foot on the floor. “Fuck,” he repeats.

He emails Tsukauchi. It takes Shōta twenty minutes of backpedalling and throwing his phone on the couch, but he does it. He hopes Tsukauchi is well, and wonders if everything with Toshinori is fine, as he can’t contact him, and apologises for the inconvenience.

Shōta isn’t surprised when he doesn’t get a reply, and knows he isn’t going to sleep tonight. Being in the apartment isn’t going to help, either, so he grabs his capture weapon, makes sure he has enough supplies, and hangs his goggles around his neck. He’s going patrolling.

His idea reminds him of an email sitting unopened in his inbox. It’s from the Hotta brothers, and Shōta hasn’t had the energy to deal with them yet. Last time they emailed him they were asking for bail money, and the time before they were looking for help stashing some outdated porno magazines they’d stolen. They’re useful when they’re useful, which is perhaps 4 times out of 10, and while they get themselves into trouble, they are useful company. Even if this is another hare-brained scheme, Shōta could use the distraction.

The email’s contents are serious, a tip off about a drug they think might be trading as Trigger. Ichiro says they haven’t touched the stuff, haven’t heard of anyone who has , but there have been rumours. Rumours are enough for Shōta.

Shōta is greeted with nods as he walks through the Hotta territory. He’s kept in good terms with a lot of the underground, and it isn’t long before Jiro finds him.

“Yo! Eraser!” he says, waving a hand as Shōta walks towards their main warehouse. A few of the men around them move away, offering some modicum of privacy, and Shōta nods his thanks.

“Been a while,” Jiro says, and he slaps Shōta on the shoulder, beaming. “Miss us?”

“You haven’t been in trouble for a few months. Thought I’d come and check in, to make sure you’re alive,” Shōta replies, and Jiro snorts in laughter.

“Bullshit Eraser!” he laughs, shaking his head. “Come and have a drink and you can tell us what you’re here for. Ichiro’s inside the office, he has a great imported whisky you should try.” Jiro rattles on, and Shōta ignores him in favour of mapping the building the best he can. They’ve upgraded their security, that’s for sure, but everything else is the same, give or take a few furnishings.

Ichiro looks serious when Jiro introduces Shōta, though he does crack a small smile.

“You got my email then,” he says, and Jiro blinks, as if he’s just remembering that was something they sent. “Took you awhile.”

Shōta doesn’t say anything. There’s no need. If Ichiro was that worried, he would have sent more emails. If Shōta felt guilty, well. He’d make a shit hero.

“Have there been any updates?” Shōta asks instead, thinking of the years of quiet with this case. It’s been a long while since Trigger’s surfaced, though he knows it’s still circling the very lowest underbellies of society in weaker forms.

“Not much,” Ichiro says, setting his pen down. Jiro’s busy pouring drinks, and Shōta takes the glass he’s given thankfully. “There have been a few… odd attacks across the country. They don’t look linked to the outside, but we’ve had men look into connections and stuff, you know.”

Shōta didn’t know, at least not from the viewpoint of the Hotta brothers. Still he nods, waiting for Ichiro to continue.

“We suspect there’s a batch of super powered Trig. One of our guys managed to link all these random attacks together, back to a shifty dude we think is supplying the drug.” Ichiro rifles through the papers on his desk and Shōta takes a sip of his drink. It is good whisky, he admits, and it burns his throat as he swallows, mellow and soothing.

“Here’s his picture. Cleanest record we could find, but his quirk is registered as something chemical related. We didn’t really understand it.” Ichiro smiles helplessly, Jiro nodding along.

“We don’t have the smarts to get evidence or nothing,” Jiro says, “but we have a hunch and our hunch tells us this dude is producing superpowered Trig, and he has plans.”

Shōta looks at the image, of a nondescript guy. He looks like a thousand other people Shōta’s seen on the streets, and he sighs.

“Anything else? I can get the police to look into it,” he says, and both Ichiro and Jiro seem to relax a little at that.

“No names or nothing,” Jiro says, apologetically. “We think the business All Might was involved in today is part of it. You heroes are supposed to talk to each other, right? Maybe he knows something.”

Shōta tilts his head slightly, not bothering to give a full reply. Talking to All Might is an option he’ll save until last.

“I’m not going to reopen an investigation on a hunch,” Shōta says, finishing his drink. “But I’ll keep an eye on it. I’ll talk to a detective and put feelers out to All Might. Keep a low profile, if this is Trigger, you’d do best not to be dragged into it.”

Despite everything, Shōta does like the Hotta brothers and their gang. They’re dumb, and they are criminals, but they’re decent boys at heart. They can help him much more out of jail than they can inside of it, as a bonus.

With the tip, Shōta prowls on. Every interaction he sees on the streets becomes a possible Trigger case, and he sighs. He’s back a few years now, trying to catch a glimpse at peoples’ tongues, running ragged trying to protect everyone. He decides to email Tsukauchi again, this time strictly work related.

There’s no answer from Toshinori and, at 4am, Shōta decides to call it quits. All this night has done is given him more to think of, and Shōta could use a bit of a blackout, truth be told.

His apartment feels too quiet when he returns, and Shōta grabs his sleeping bag, camping out in the lounge rather than venture to the bedroom. He stuffs himself in the corner of the room, zipping himself up, and zones out. It takes him a while to sleep, Shōta resisting the urge to check his emails every few minutes, despite having his alert turned on.

He rolls over eventually, face pressed against the wall. He’ll do something about it when the sun’s up.

.

It’s Sunday brunch when, after managing not to talk about it for an entire 24 hours, Shōta speaks about Toshinori. Or rather, Toshinori’s silence.

“How did the date go on Friday!” Nemuri asks, sipping juice that Shōta isn’t 100% convinced is virgin.

“It didn’t,” he replies, and Nemuri pauses. Shōta isn’t looking at her, but he knows she’s looking at Hizashi, as if there are many answers to be had and Hizashi has them all. “I haven’t spoken to Toshinori since Friday morning.”

There’s a pause, and then Hizashi hums.

“I know there were a lot of people involved in All Might’s latest fight,” he says, fingers drumming the table. He doesn’t want to suggest that Toshinori might be in the hospital, Shōta knows, but he’ll say it anyway because it’s something that needs to be said. “Could he be in the hospital? Or swamped with work?”

“I’m sure there’s a logical explanation,” Nemuri adds, and Shōta shrugs.

“You two have gone more than 24 hours without talking to each other,” Nemuri says. “You’re a reasonable man, Shōta. You know he wouldn’t do anything stupid.”

Does he know that? Shōta has no idea. Toshinori has such grand views of heroes and protecting people, Shōta could easily see him jumping in front of someone to save them. He has the heart of a hero, and Shōta would be proud if he would just let him know he is okay.

“We were supposed to meet on Friday,” Shōta says. “And one of my sources is worried a super form of Trigger is loose on the street.”

Hizashi sits back with a sigh.

“I wanted to tell you guys all about the cute puppy I saw on the way over, and Shōta’s hitting us with like proper adult shit stuff,” he says, and Shōta looks up. “Yagi-san, despite his looks, is a strong guy, and you know that. He’s also mad about you, to the point where I don’t think being bedridden is hospital would stop him from replying to you.”

That doesn’t make Shōta feel better, and Hizashi hastens to add more.

“What I mean is I bet his phone is broken or some stupid shit like that. He’s probably battling paperwork and trying to get a train back, or whatever. You’ll go home, and he’ll be on your doorstep or something ridiculous like that, and no, before you start,” Hizashi says as Nemuri opens her mouth, “just because Yuki came home to that scenario on last night’s episode does not mean it’s impossible for it to happen to Shōta.”

Shōta shrugs his capture weapon up, refusing to outwardly acknowledge that might happen. It’s logical and it might happen, but it feels too easy.

And, true to Shōta’s instincts, Toshinori isn’t there on his doorstep when he gets back. He isn’t inside, and Shōta actually enters his name on the internet. Nothing out of the ordinary appears, which he had expected too. Toshinori is privy to All Might’s secrets, of course he can’t be plastered all over the internet.

It leaves Shōta back at square one, and he spends the night stress-cleaning his apartment, phone on high volume and set to alert him for any emails and messages. His nerves fry at least 17 times as spam rolls in, and Shōta throws his phone on the floor when Nemuri and Hizashi start messaging him. He cracks his screen, but Shōta doesn’t really care, not when something could be terribly wrong with Toshinori and he has no idea how to even find that out.

His answer, somewhat surprisingly, comes just before 9am on Monday morning. It’s a polite email, though there’s a little confusion to it, as Tsukauchi replies to both of Shōta’s messages from the weekend. He starts off by saying he has been looking into possible Trigger scenarios, and that he will be extending the Force’s offer to Shōta for him to join the team in a few days. He apologises for it, but will explain in more detail, and Shōta has to force himself to digest what Tsukauchi has said, eyes desperate to skim to the bottom, where he’s seen Toshinori’s name printed.

It says that he hopes Shōta was able to get the information from someone else, but that Toshinori was taken to hospital Friday afternoon. Nothing overly serious, Tsukauchi assures, but Shōta pauses in the corridor, ice freezing his limbs. He has a class to teach, but how can he when he knows that Toshinori is in a fucking hospital, alone.

Shōta tucks his phone in his pocket. Tsukauchi gave him the name of the hospital and their number. He’ll sort it out later, but his kids have to come first. He’s a teacher, and he’s spent all weekend without Toshinori, a few hours more won’t hurt. He compartmentalizes to the man he was before believing in soulmates and he gets through the morning.

“Someone sure pissed you off this morning,” Sekijiro comments as they’re both walking to the staff room, fresh off quirk training. “Need anyone to talk to?”

Shōta looks up. It isn’t Sekijiro’s fault, not one bit, but he’s made the mistake to try and help when Shōta really doesn’t want anyone’s help. He shakes his head curtly and turns on his heel, ignoring the grumble of his stomach and pounding behind his eyes. He has a juice packet or two in his pocket, that’ll have to do.

He returns to his hiding place on the roof and fumbles for his phone. Shōta is nervous, unsure of what is waiting for him on the other end of the line, but he’s never been a coward. He copies the number and dials it, biting the inside of his cheek as it rings.

It answers just as he thinks its about to drop, a cheerful voice stating the name of the hospital and asking what Shōta’s business is. He asks about a patient, and while the voice refuses to say if they are in the hospital, visiting hours are over at 8pm and Shōta is welcome to come to the hospital for further information. It’s more than he’s had over the past three days, so Shōta thanks the voice and hangs up, plan formulating.

The hospital is the next city over, a decent hour ride on the train. Shōta can get there in time for visiting hours, all he needs to do is head home and grab all the ID he can. It’ll be on the way, just a short detour, and then he’ll see Toshinori, and everything will be okay .

The rest of the day is a blur, though Shōta decides to waive the test he was going to push on his students. He’s too harsh today to deal with any idiotic answers, and his class do cheer him up a little when they cheer, exuberant happiness clear on every one of their faces.

Shōta leaves quickly, nodding to Sekijiro and dodging any places he might come across Hizashi or Nemuri. For his plan to work, Shōta needs to leave now and not talk to anyone who might break down his carefully constructed walls. He can do this, he just has to do it quickly.

Except it all goes to hell when he enters his hallway, a voice echoing down the corridor. He knows that voice, and Shōta swallows thickly, wondering if Hizashi’s stupid soap-opera plot is actually happening.

It is, Shōta sees, and his foot falters, shoes rooted to the ground as Toshinori turns around, a phone pressed to his ear.

“Ah shit,” he curses, “I promise it’ll be done tomorrow, okay, but I have to go.” Toshinori doesn’t even bother to wait for a reply, he simply hangs his phone up, arms resting at his side. He looks tired, hair tousled and a deep, purple bloom around one eye. He stands still, and so Shōta moves.

“I phoned the hospital,” Shōta says when he reaches Toshinori. He pauses, reconsiders, and leans past Toshinori to unlock the door. “Inside,” he says quietly, and Toshinori nods, the first to enter.

The apartment is silent as they take their shoes off. Shōta hates it, and he heads to the kitchen to get two glasses of water, something to hold in his hands while they talk. They end up on the counter as Toshinori stands in the doorway, uncertain and nervous.

They don’t talk about the dangerous part of the hero business. Not when Shōta’s come home and needed stitches, and not when Toshinori’s made it clear he was on the front line of an All Might battle. They don’t talk about it because they both know they’ll disagree about it, but they can’t afford to ignore it now. Not when Shōta has to look into Toshinori’s swollen eye and tell him how worried he was.

“There was a slight complication,” Toshinori starts, and Shōta presses his lips together, forcing himself to stay silent. “We didn’t realise the villain had… fanatics. Dangerous followers who weren’t afraid of causing damage. I ended up taking a few hits too hard to save some kids and,” Toshinori gives a soft smile, gesturing to his eyes. Shōta’s heart melts for a moment, because of course Toshinori would help kids.

“My phone broke,” Toshinori continues, holding out the blocky replacement he’s found. “Completely split in two. And you know how Yamada-san’s been telling me to get the Cloud thing?”

Shōta’s shoulders relax slightly, and he picks up one of the glasses, holding it out for Toshinori.

“I haven’t got the Cloud thing either yet,” Shōta says, and he feels his nerves chip away. They peel back to expose the worry he feels, the unsettled silence of not knowing. Hizashi was right, and Shōta was an idiot, but he doesn’t care.

“I was out for most of it,” Toshinori admits, fingers tapping the side of his glass, a revelation that he is just as unsettled by this as Shōta is. “There was a small rupture,” he begins, and Shōta’s head whips up, eyes narrowed.

“It’s fine,” Toshinori hastens to add. “I’m fine, they patched me up easily and let me go with just a week’s course of antibiotics and pain meds. I’ll be right as rain this time next week.”

Shōta rests his hand on the counter, looking at his glass for a moment. He’s been drained this weekend, full of worry and fright, and he knows that months ago he would have cut everything and run. He feels so much for Toshinori, and there was a chance he could have lost him this weekend and never known until it was too late.

“I was so worried,” he admits, and his hand falls from the counter as Toshinori surrounds him, arms tight.

Shōta wraps his arms around Toshinori, pressing his nose to his chest and inhaling deeply. His hands clutch against Toshinori’s skin, pressing into bone and muscle, trying to combine their souls. He doesn’t know where their soul marks are joined, and perhaps they’ve stretched all across their bodies, to thin they are invisible to their eyes. Shōta doesn’t care about marks, not when he has so much to say to Toshinori.

“I thought the worst when I got no reply,” he mumbles, and Toshinori shifts, leaning back against the counter with Shōta resting against him. “I even emailed Tsukauchi-san”

Toshinori laughs at that, squeezing Shōta harder. He cuts off with a cough, pulling a handkerchief from his pocket, and Shōta takes it, pressing it to the corner of his mouth when he finishes, wiping away the blood gently.

“I panicked,” Shōta admits. “I’m not used to having someone I love get hurt.”

Toshinori tilts his head curiously at that, and Shōta takes his hand, cleaning it and then threading their fingers. He sets his head back on Toshinori’s chest, ear pressed to his heart, tension seeping from him with every beat.

“It’s not so different to Yamada-san and Kayama-san, surely?” Toshinori says, and he sounds so puzzled. Shōta looks up, frowning.

“It’s very different,” he says. Toshinori can’t actually be serious. “They are capable of handling themselves and-“

Toshinori pushes him back gently, and Shōta’s jaw clicks shut. There’s anger in Toshinori’s eyes, but it’s the hurt there too that punches low in Shōta’s stomach.

“I wanted to apologise for not getting in contact. I did think it was a little far fetched to think you’d be able to track down the hospital I was in, though I did hope. I wanted to make everything right again, Shōta,” Toshinori pauses, and Shōta feels as if everything is crumbling beneath his feet. He’s speechless as Toshinori steps away, back to the doorway, as if the past few minutes were nothing.

“I’m not ready to do this right now,” Toshinori says. “I don’t need to be reminded of my weaknesses. You of all people should know that,” he says, and then he’s moving to the entryway, slipping his shoes on and grabbing his back.

Shōta wants to ask him to stay, wants to apologise and make things better, but he doesn’t know how. He isn’t sure what the problem is, and he’s not going to offer half-assed apologies.

“Look I’ll…” Toshinori trails off, running a hand through his hair. His hand falls to the door handle after, and he sighs. “I think we’re going to be joining the same case. Please don’t let things between us make it odd. I just need… a few days, I think.”

It feels like a breakup. It’s not, because Toshinori would be honest and direct if that was the case, but it’s all Shōta can do to stand there and wait.

“We’ll go out on a date at the weekend, okay?” Toshinori says, and he looks Shōta in the eye as he says it. The hurt is still there, and that kills Shōta, but there is hope still. He nods, Toshinori lingers for a moment, and then he’s gone, slipping from the doorway and away.

Shōta lets him. He isn’t entirely sure what just happened, but he knows the best way to deal with it.

Ten minutes later he’s in the bathtub, zipped up in his sleeping bag with his phone’s morning alarm in the sink. He doesn’t have to deal with complex emotions if he’s asleep.

.

Chapter Text

Shōta might feel miserable, but he’s an adult and has responsibilities. He crawls out of the bathtub at 4am, drinks three coffees, aware he has to get through the day without dying, and gets to work at 5:30am. He can get in without the need to alert security, and he does, heading to the teacher’s offices with hunched shoulders. There’s not going to be anyone around right now but Shōta’s not going to take the chance someone might want to try and engage with him today.

It works well. Shōta keeps a constant stream of coffee going as he towers paperwork around him. Some of it was completed ages ago, some of it unfinished, but it all contributes to Shōta’s wall against the world. It works well enough that both Nemuri and Hizashi glance at him once and then away again.

His students are the oasis in the desert. Some of them are downright fucking annoying, but they are the future, and Shōta likes them all, despite what he projects 90% of the time. Their education comes first, and while he’s hardly overly chatty or sympathetic, no one leaves his classes crying or muttering he’s an asshole. At least no more than usual on the asshole front anyway.

Shōta stays late after work. He leaves when he deems it okay to go on patrol, and he sleeps for a few hours in his bathtub again. He ignores messages from Hizashi and Nemuri, and thanks their busy schedules that they all have too much going on for them to barge into his apartment at the same time he’s there. He knows they tried it on the Wednesday as he comes in from patrol to see his sleeping bag hung up, airing in the lounge.

“Busybodies,” he mutters, snatching the note on the kitchen counter. It’s Hizashi’s writing and Shōta crumples it, throwing it into the bin right away. He’s still not thinking about it.

Thursday sees a familiar number calling Shōta at lunch. His heart skips a beat before he reads the name, composing himself to speak to Tsukauchi. It’ll be the call asking him to join the task force, Shōta guesses, and he’s right.

Tsukauchi is curt and polite when he speaks, and despite him being Toshonori’s friend, he shows no ill will to Shōta. Which was a bit ridiculous of Shōta to worry about; they’re all professional adults after all, but worry about it he did. Shōta accepts the invitation easily, agreeing to join the meeting after school.

Shōta isn’t surprised when Nemuri catches him at the station, patting him on the shoulder.

“You got called in too?” she says, and Shōta thanks her for at least attempting not to talk about why he’s been sulking.

“It’s related to the Trigger case,” Shōta replies, and Nemuri hums, turning away as the train approaches. They climb on with the school traffic, and Shōta nods to the few students from U.A. who have boarded with them. He knows Nemuri is going to talk to him, and he hopes she’s at least discreet enough his students don’t get an earful.

“What’s up?” Nemuri asks, linking her arm with his as they board the train. They manage to sit down far away from the students, with Shōta at the end of the bench and Nemuri next to an office worker with heavy metal blaring from his headphones. It’s as safe a space as Shōta’s going to get from eavesdroppers.

Shōta sighs, closes his eyes and opens them to stare down at the floor.

“I said something shitty to Toshinori,” he says quietly, and Nemuri tilts towards him slightly. “It came out wrong and instead of doing anything I just let him leave and…” Shōta breathes through his nose, closing his eyes.

“Hey,” Nemuri says, quietly. “I’m sure it wasn’t that bad. Everyone says stupid shit, you do it to Hizashi and me all the time.”

She’s trying to be positive, trying to be a good friend, but she doesn’t know what Shōta implied and how Toshinori’s face looked after Shōta had said it. He feels his chest constrict as he remembers the way Toshinori had closed off from him, something he’s been trying not to think of all week, and bites the inside of his cheek, glancing at Nemuri’s knee.

“No, it was shitty. He probably should have ended it with me.” Shōta says it and Nemuri sighs, leaning back.

“You can be overdramatic sometimes,” she starts. “I’m sure it was serious, especially if Toshinori left, and you clearly haven’t made up yet, but maybe it’s not as bad as you think.”

Shōta nods. He’s told himself that, and he’ll keep telling himself that. It doesn’t change anything though.

“Have you talked to him? You said you just let him leave when you didn’t want to, but if you haven’t talked to him, you’re still letting him leave, right?” Nemuri takes her glasses off, cleaning them on her skirt. She leaves them on her lap, fingers toying with them.

“People do shitty things. If you’re in a relationship, you have to accept that you probably will fight, disagree, say crappy things, but it’s what you do after that counts. If it’s something that can be saved, you need to do it Shōta.” Nemuri slides her glasses back on, tapping Shōta’s arm gently. “But you know that. So get over yourself and do it.”

Shōta laughs, and he knows that it must catch the attention of the students down the end of the carriage. He doesn’t care though, scrubbing at his eyes with his hands, feeling too rough and too raw.

“It’s not that simple,” he replies to Nemuri.

“Why not?” Shōta doesn’t have an answer and Nemuri stands, the train slowing for their stop. “It’s Thursday Shōta. You’ve left it too long already, just deal with it. I hate to see you like this, and I can’t imagine how Yagi-san feels if you really did say something shitty. Imagine if you were in his place.”

She says everything so candidly, as if Shōta isn’t a horrible monster who ripped Toshinori’s heart out. And, okay, maybe he hasn’t actually dealt with anything properly the past week so maybe he’s overthinking and making everything twenty times worse, but it doesn’t change the fact that Shōta is scared of so many things.

“I don’t want to lose him,” Shōta says, muffled into his capture weapon. The train doors slide open, and Shōta moves forward, trying to ignore the look of shock on Nemuri’s face in favour of getting lost in the crowd. It works for all of two minutes, and then she catches up with him at the train station gates, eyes wide.

“Then fucking do something about it, dumbass!” she says, swinging an arm around his shoulders. Shōta winces at the motion, Nemuri pulling him down as they walk together. “Get your phone out now or I will, and you won’t like the text I’ll send him.”

They pause at the side of the street as Shōta does as told. His thumb hovers over Toshinori’s contact information, and he’s horrifically aware of the sunflower and yellow heart emojis he decorated Toshinori’s name with a few weeks ago when they’d had a slightly boozy movie night. Shōta’s name has had black cats and red hearts next to it for months in Toshinori’s phone, it was only fair Toshinori had stated. Thankfully, Nemuri resists her comment, instead standing as Shōta types out a message, deletes it, and then types again.

To: Yagi Toshinori

I should have sent this earlier. Can we still meet up this weekend? I need to apologise properly.

Shōta hovers over the send button and presses it, Nemuri smiling at him when he looks up.

“That’s good Shōta,” she says, and in another situation he might have felt like a kid being praised, this time it feels cathartic. He’s been awful all week, and Shōta wraps his arms around Nemuri, hugging her tightly. She’s startled, with good reason as Shōta rarely initiates hugs, but softens and hugs him back.

“There, there you big softie,” she says into his hair. “Yagi-san will appreciate the message, and you guys will talk. What happens next is up to you, but I’m proud of you for making this step.”

She’s so nice, and Shōta kicks himself for waiting until Thursday to do something about his life. What’s done is done, and Shōta lets go of Nemuri, straightening up. They have a job to do, a meeting to attend, and Shōta feels better. His head feels clearer, and Shōta feels productive for the first time this week. Maybe he’ll even sleep in bed tonight.

As they walk towards the police building, Shōta’s phone chimes with a message alert. His pulse quickens, and, under Nemuri’s watchful eye, Shōta pulls his phone out. It’s from Toshinori, and he doesn’t say he hates Shōta.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Of course!! How about the yakitori place for lunch?

Shōta breathes a sigh of relief at the smiley emoji tacked on the end. It’s no heart, but it’s a good sign. He hasn’t fucked up completely, and he goes to reply to Toshinori.

From: Yagi Toshinori

I think we might see each other this afternoon, but I have back-to-back meetings so don’t worry if I don’t say hi.

Shōta’s fingers pause. He should have prepared for the possibility that Toshinori might be there, but the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind. He hopes he’ll see Toshinori, even if just to wave from across the room.

From: Yagi Toshinori

Also… I miss you. See you soon.

There is a heart emoji with this one, and Shōta presses his lips together, unsure whether he wants to smile or cry. He settles for bottling his emotions up, aware they’re entering the building, and fires off a quick reply.

To: Yagi Toshinori

I miss you too. Lunch sounds great, Saturday? Don’t work too hard, I’ll see you soon.

He tucks his phone away as an officer greets Nemuri, directing them to the room their meeting is to be held in. The precinct is busy, but Shōta barely notices where he’s being led, too busy thinking about Toshinori to focus. As he has been all week.

“We’re here,” Nemuri says in his ear, and Shōta looks up. They’ve arrived at a large conference room, designed to hold anywhere between fifty to one hundred people. There’s a large group already present, members of the police and heroes, seated facing a screen.

“Eraserhead, Midnight,” an officer greets, handing them both a handful of papers each. “Please take a seat. We’ll be starting when the last of our team has arrived.”

They do as told, glancing warily at the team assembled. There are a lot of familiar faces, people who were in on the last Trigger case and those who have quirks that will be useful, but there are some unfamiliar ones too. Shōta suspects that a few are new heroes ready to debut, and what a time they’ve picked. Or they’re on work experience.

“It’s a pretty big group,” Shōta comments, taking a seat at the side, a few rows in from the back. Nemuri pushes past to sit beside him, tucking her hair behind her ear and crossing one leg over the other, looking at the papers they were handed.

“It’s because no one has any idea if this is Trigger, or some random with a dangerous ability,” she replies, and Shōta scans the papers himself. A list of recent cases, a lot of them to do with All Might, and a brief history of Trigger and what to look for.

There’s a ripple of something in the room, and Shōta looks up to see the entire room turned towards the door. He follows suit and freezes as All Might steps through the door. He’s huge, as always, and his smile gleams. Everyone seems to relax as he laughs at something the officer at the door says, and Shōta watches him take the papers carefully, though they are dwarfed in his large hands.

He is a man and a half, Shōta thinks, and turns away. He might not always agree with the All Might agencies politics and media tolerance, but he is grateful towards All Might.

“Eraser!” Nemuri hisses, grabbing one of Shōta’s arms and hurling it over the back of her chair. “Get your gloves on and keep either your arm or foot closest to him.”

Shōta blinks and then frowns, taking his arm back from the chair and pulling gloves out as instructed. He still doesn’t quite understand why until he sees his soulmark disappearing from his fingertips, and horror floods Shōta.

Two soulmates.

“Shit,” he says, and turns slightly, monitoring where All Might is in the room. If he can keep an arm out, or even a foot, he’ll be able to stop his soulmark crossing his face again. It’ll be difficult, especially as All Might seems determined to greet the entire room, but Shōta is glad to see the only skin on show for All Might is his own head and part of his neck. If he pays attention, no one has to know.

Nemuri, for her part, looks like she wants to tell Shōta she told him so. In Shōta’s defence, he’s always thought of his and All Might’s worlds too far apart for this to be an issue, and he’s confident they’ll get through this without alerting anyone (including All Might) to the fact there’s a pair of soulmates in the room.

“Welcome everyone!” Tsukauchi calls, moving to the front of the room. His powerpoint presentation loads, and those that were standing begin to take seats. Shōta tenses as All Might moves, but he circles the other side of the room, taking up by Tsukauchi.

“I’d like to introduce myself and All Might as the team leaders for this task force. Today we’ll be briefing you all on the case and asking for contributions to the plan. We ask for your cooperation to deal with this possible threat as quickly and quietly as possible.” Tsukauchi bows and then looks to All Might, nodding and taking a seat in the front row.

All Might is quiet, eyes searching the crowds. He’s smiling, though it’s a dimmed, professional smile, and he begins by talking about the history of Trigger. The room is captivated, and Shōta has to admit that All Might is a talented speaker. The room laughs as he peppers the serious briefing with small jokes, nods when his smile dips as he discusses the severity of what they’re potentially faced with, and listens intently. His eyes seem to keep falling on Shōta, though he assumes that he’s one of the focus points All Might has chosen so it looks like he’s speaking to the entire room.

Tsukauchi takes back over when All Might is done, and he takes a seat at the side, right in Shōta’s line of vision. It’s hard to look away from his back, shoulders tight as he nods along with Tsukauchi’s words, and Shōta snaps out of his musings when Nemuri taps his thigh, a warning she knows exactly how much he’s staring.

“We’re hoping to set up a night patrol, and would like those with underground experience to let us know which areas they can cover and when.” That’s Shōta’s job covered then, and his eyes drift back to All Might, frowning. The more Shōta looks, the more something feels off, but he can’t work it out for the life of him.

More plans are detailed, and Shōta knows they’re to meet up on Monday once they’ve looked for information. It’s not often there are big information dumps like this where everyone is pulled together, so it’s clear to see that this is a big threat that needs to be stamped out as soon as possible.

The meeting wraps up, and everyone begins to trickle out. Shōta glances at All Might once more before he leaves, and his heart jerks in his chest as their gazes lock. All Might is surrounded by people, smiling blandly, but his eyes are locked on Shōta, and there’s something familiar and haunting in his gaze that Shōta actually pauses.

“Eraser?” Nemuri calls, and Shōta shakes himself, dropping All Might’s gaze with a frown. He turns away, fights the urge to look back, but feels as though that heavy gaze is resting on his shoulders.

He has no idea what it’s supposed to mean.

“I have a few questions,” Nemuri says, and Shōta resists the urge to groan. He’s a grown man, though, and so hums thoughtfully as they exit the police station. “We’re eating dinner out.”

They find a shitty restaurant, somewhere cheap and quick. It’s a far cry from anything healthy, but it affords them some privacy as it looks a little shady. They’re able to sit in their uniforms and eat in peace, and Nemuri gets to question Shōta on his life. Again.

“Why do we never talk about you,” Shōta mumbles into his fries. It’s the first proper food he’s had all week, and his stomach grumbles, telling him to hurry up.

“Because fuck all is happening in my life,” Nemuri says cheerfully. “And I have a deep-set fear of commitment and haven’t met anyone who has challenged that. Unlike you,” she says, pointing a chicken nugget at Shōta’s face.

“But I want to talk about All Might,” she says, lowering her voice. The nugget is gone in one bite and she slurps her drink. “And you. What the fuck was that about?”

Shōta chews on a fry.

“I don’t know what you mean,” he replies evenly, and Nemuri rolls her eyes.

“You two couldn’t keep your eyes off of each other. I saw it Shōta,” she says when Shōta opens his mouth to deny it. “Like, what the fuck? Is this how you pissed Yagi-san off? Did you tell him about All Might?”

Shōta wants to find a nice hole, crawl into it and die.

“I wasn’t looking at All Might like that,” he says. “I was trying to figure something out,” Shōta finishes, and he’s got no appetite for the rest of the fries.

“And All Might has nothing to do with Toshinori and me,” Shōta adds, pushing his fries away and sitting back, arms crossed over his chest.

Nemuri doesn’t look convinced, and she rolls her eyes again.

“You need to tell Toshinori. You’re going to end up working with All Might again and again, it’s inevitable. At some point, your soulmarks are going to reveal themselves, and then what? You owe it to Toshinori at least, don’t you?”

She’s right, and she always has been, and Shōta hates it. He loves Toshinori more, however, and knows that he needs to be fully honest and open for this to work. Toshinori does deserve to know, of course he does, and Shōta has to do it.

“I’ll tell him this weekend,” he says, and Nemuri nods, though she doesn’t seem happy.

“I want you to be happy,” she says eventually, licking her fingers clean. Shōta pushes his fries closer to her, and she starts to eat them, knowing well enough he’ll just throw them away otherwise. “And I really like Yagi-san, but if it’s All Might who you want to be with then-”

“I don’t want to be with All Might,” Shōta hisses, angry that Nemuri could even think something like that. “We wouldn’t get along, our politics are completely misaligned, and he’s just a sexual fantasy object.”

Nemuri shrugs her shoulders. “You were looking at him as if it was just the two of you in the room. I’m just telling you how it is. Maybe you need to think more about it.”

Shōta does, because how can he not. That night he starts curled up on the bed, thinking about what he’s going to say to Toshinori, how he’ll apologise for not speaking properly. He has no idea how he can even breach the subject of All Might being his soulmate, doesn’t want to think about the fact that exists in his life, but he will do it for Toshinori.

Shōta closes his eyes, sounding words and ideas out in his head. Nothing works. Nothing cushions the blow, nothing reassures Toshinori that he is the one. Nothing is good enough, and it never will be.

Shōta doesn’t linger on whether that makes him good enough or not.

He returns to the bathtub at 3am.

.

Not surprisingly, Shōta is first to the yakitori place. Despite being regulars, they don’t have a preferred seat, so Shōta takes a booth well in sight of the entrance, sits facing the door, and waits. He declines service twice, though does order water the third time a waitress passes, fingers tapping the table as she pours him a glass. He thanks her and returns to staring at the door, waiting for Toshinori.

It hasn’t even been a week since they saw each other, but Shōta’s heart skips in his chest when Toshinori ducks through the entrance. He’s wearing a large, light blue shirt, looks like he’s run the last street or so, and he is utterly beautiful to Shōta. He meets Shōta’s eye immediately, heading over, and Shōta glances down briefly to watch his inkblot twirl against his fingers erratically, as excited to see Toshinori as he is.

He stands when Toshinori reaches the table, feeling as awkward as a teenager on a first date. His knee hits the table, and Shōta catches his water before it can jump off the side, and he looks to Toshinori with wide eyes.

“It’s good to see you,” Toshinori says. He looks tired, dark circles under his eyes and cheeks hollow. He slides into the booth opposite Shōta and, when Shōta has sat back down, stretches his legs out. They’re long enough that his knees settle between Shōta’s legs, and Shōta feels the tension drain from him.

“I missed you,” he admits. It’s harder than saying it by text, and he reaches his hand across the table. Toshinori meets him, lacing their fingers together. He looks as though he’s about to speak, but Shōta has more to say first.

“Can we order food first? And then I have a few things I’d like to say,” he manages, fingers stroking the back of Toshinori’s hand, soulmarks dipping up and down fingers and tendons. It almost makes Shōta think their soulmarks can travel between them when they dance like this.

They skim simple conversation topics while they wait for food. Toshinori asks about classes and a few of the kids Shōta has moaned about. He laughs at their antics and reactions to Shōta cancelling a test, squeezing Shōta’s hand when he grows quieter as to the reasons why.

In turn, Shōta asks Toshinori how work has been, and while the answer is a little strained (fair enough, Shōta thinks, they’re going to talk about it in a moment), his love of the job shines through. He talks about a minor rescue of a cat he was involved in, and Shōta smiles as he imagines Toshinori clambering up a telegraph pole and grabbing the cat stuck halfway up it. He must have looked ridiculous, but it’s the kind of heroics that don’t bring up odd feelings for Shōta. It was within Toshinori’s capabilities, and that’s where the troubles start.

“I want to talk about what I said on Monday,” Shōta says when they’re a few bites into their food. Their hands have separated to eat, but their legs are entwined. If Toshinori pulls back, that’s when Shōta knows he’s fucked up beyond repair.

“Okay,” Toshinori agrees, and he doesn’t look as haunted when he finishes nibbling a piece of carrot. “I’m listening.”

Shōta doesn’t launch into what he’s been thinking of right away. He composes his thoughts, tries to, and sighs.

“I know I messed up. What I said… what I implied…” he trails off, reaching for his water and taking a small sip. “On some level I did mean what I said. I don’t want to think about you getting hurt, I don’t want to think about you lying in hospital without me knowing,” Shōta cuts himself off with a deep breath. He’s not good at this.

Toshinori doesn’t push. He waits patiently, picking at his food when it’s clear Shōta needs a moment. He isn’t quick to anger, isn’t trying to counter whatever Shōta is saying. He is patient, kind, and Shōta knows beyond a doubt he’s absolutely in love with Toshinori.

“I don’t care about people much.” Shōta frowns and corrects himself. “I don’t admit to myself I care about people much. It’s easier to look after students and friends if they’re not throwing themselves into danger.”

Toshinori sits up straighter and tilts his head.

“Yamada-san and Kayama-san don’t fit into that category, though,” he says, lips a thin line, and Shōta shakes his head.

“They do. Of course they do,” he says, eyes tracing the rim of his plate. “We fumbled through the starting up as heroes thing together though. I didn’t have time to worry about them getting hurt because I had to worry about myself getting hurt,” Shōta says, but he doesn’t think he’s explaining himself clearly.

“I don’t understand how I’m any different, especially considering I’ve been doing this a lot longer than you have,” Toshinori says gently. Shōta bites the inside of his cheek and shrugs. His capture weapon is next to him, a move he made so he couldn’t hide away during this conversation. It was a smart move, but Shōta hates it.

“I like having people in easily defined boxes,” Shōta says slowly. It’s something his mother said to him once, when he was a lot younger, but it’s stuck with him. “Students, friends, colleagues… I understand my boundaries. If a student oversteps their capabilities, detention. Hizashi or Nemuri? I might not like it when they get into trouble, but I know how to react to it. Usually it involves alcohol, but for the more serious ones, we know how to contact each other in emergencies. I think that’s part of why I handled it so badly, the not-knowing.”

Shōta closes his eyes for a moment. When he opens them, he looks into Toshinori’s eyes and smiles softly.

“I haven’t had a serious romantic partner ever. Maybe one or two potential people, but you… you’re something else entirely, Toshinori.” Shōta looks down at his food, and he doesn’t feel the urge to hide. He’s not ashamed of his feelings.

“It’s unfair of me to ask you to not put yourself in danger, and I’m never going to be good at expressing how I feel about this. I just want you to know…” Shōta swallows thickly. “I care for you, a lot. And it’s… hard for me to admit this and know I won’t be there to protect you from everything. I was scared last week, but what I said was unfair. I’m not going to stop you doing what you need to do, and I will try not to take my fear out on you, but it doesn’t change the fact I said what I said.”

Shōta stops talking, eyes wide. Should he continue? He’s not sure if it’s enough of an apology. He blinks then, realising he hasn’t actually apologised yet.

“I’m sorry,” he says, fumbling to follow it up with more words. “I shouldn’t have said it, I shouldn’t have let you go, I shouldn’t have waited so long-”

Toshinori laughs. His face drops when he realises Shōta has stopped talking and he looks horrified, cheeks colouring as his smile falls.

“I didn’t mean to laugh,” he says, and Shōta’s nerves calm a little. “But you don’t need to apologise. I get what you’re saying Shōta, and I knew even when you said it that you didn’t mean it from a place of malice.”

Toshinori sets his hand on the table, wiggling his fingers for Shōta to take. He does so, relief flowing through him at the soft squeeze Toshinori gives.

“I was tired, you were hurt, and we reacted badly to the situation. If you feel like you need to apologise more, we can talk again later. I’ll get the appropriate forms so the hospitals are cleared to phone you in emergencies – that one’s on me for not thinking of it.” Toshinori takes a bite of food, unwilling to let Shōta’s hand go. “It’s selfish of me, all things considered, but I’d rather put this behind us for now. We’ll both be busy in the next few days with the case, and I want to make up for lost time. I really have missed you.”

And Shōta waited almost a week for this?

“I’ve been sleeping in the bathtub,” he admits, and Toshinori’s jaw drops.

“Shōta!” he admonishes. “I was debating the idea, but that settles it. You’re staying at my place tonight.”

Shōta’s been to Toshinori’s home before, but it’s not a common occurrence. It’s outside the city, accessible by train but a little of an awkward, long commute for someone fitting Shōta’s job description. It’s a nice home, a surprisingly small flat decorated with bright and warm colours, but the outstanding feature is Toshinori’s bed. It’s a huge, Western affair and the last time Shōta visited, he’d stayed in bed all day, even when Toshinori had had to hurry out for work.

“The bathtub,” Toshinori mutters, shaking his head. “That’s how I know you regret what you said. You punish yourself the most,” he says, and Shōta feels his cheeks heat.

There is something else, though. He has to do it, has to tell Toshinori about All Might. He slips his hand free of Toshinori’s grip, searching himself for courage he really doesn’t have. He’ll make do anyway.

“There’s actually something else,” he says, and he looks up, into the deep blue of Toshinori’s gaze. He’s kind, loving, and Shōta hates what he’s about to do. “I don’t really know how to say it,” Shōta says, and Toshinori slides his hand back into his lap, smiling pleasantly.

“Take your time,” he says gently, and Shōta hates how much pain he’s going to cause.

“I have…” Shōta inhales sharply and reaches his breaking point. Fuck it, he’s come this far. “I have two soulmates.”

Toshinori’s face draws tight in confusion, and then his jaw loosens, eyes widening in shock. He coughs, splutters even, and Shōta’s stomach clenches as Toshinori turns to the side, coughing into a handkerchief.

“I don’t understand,” he says, the words drawn out, puzzled. Toshinori tilts his head and Shōta looks away, hand coming to rub the back of his neck.

“I have two soulmates – I met you first, at the convenience store, and then a few weeks later there was a case-“ Shōta breaks off as Toshinori’s phone practically vibrates off the table, loud, All Might ringtone proclaiming there is an emergency. Toshinori’s face pales and he reads the message alert, standing from the table at once.

Shōta’s phone begins vibrating in his pocket. He has an idea what this might be about. Of course, of all times for them to be summoned, it had to be now.

“It’s not Trigger,” Toshinori says, throwing down money on the table and pulling his jacket on. He’s humming with energy and Shōta barely has the time to check his phone, read the emergency summon to Musufatu city central and stuff it in his pocket before Toshinori is almost out of the restaurant door.

“We can make the frontline easily,” Toshinori says as they exit the restaurant. He’s busy looking around for something, and Shōta winds his capture weapon around his neck, preparing to sling himself up onto the closest rooftop.

They can hear the roar from here, and it’s easily a ten minute walk into the main city centre.

“Looks like our chemical friend has been experimenting on animals, not humans. It’s linked to the case where that damned crocodile ripped a chunk out of my arm,” Toshinori says, and Shōta blinks at him, wondering when exactly that had happened. All that rings in Shōta’s memory is All Might’s very public fight months ago against a variety of animals, and Toshinori hadn’t said anything about being bitten by a fucking crocodile.

“You’d be better suited for crowd control,” Toshinori says, taking Shōta’s arm and hauling him towards the side of the road. His destination looks likely to be a deserted alley, and when they get there, Shōta looks up, wondering if Toshinori will be boosting him onto the roof.

“I’ll handle the beasties I suppose, though if you find the one in charge, let me know, okay?” Toshinori says, and Shōta’s about to laugh at the idea when Toshinori kisses him. It’s soft, a good luck wish, and Shōta closes his eyes for the briefest of moments.

The air around them shifts, the space of the alley almost shrinking, and Shōta feels Toshinori shift under his hand and lips. He startles, taking a half-step back, but has no time to think as Toshinori no, not Toshinori slips his free arm around Shōta’s waist and crouching low.

“It’s the quickest way,” fucking All Might says, and Shōta barely has the mind to wrap his arms around All Might’s shoulders as he leaps into the air.

What the fuck, Shōta’s brain says on repeat, but it’s sidelined as he glances down, eyes drawn to the rampage chaos of the city centre. He doesn’t have to deal with All Might being Toshinori and Toshinori being All Might because he has a job to do, a job where he can hit things and not think for at least twenty minutes, if he’s lucky.

As soon as they land, Shōta moves, scarpering like an alley cat. He hears All Might’s battle cry, his proclamation that he has arrived, and Shōta feels like a fucking dumbass. It doesn’t matter that his voice is booming across the city or that people are cheering as he smiles down on them, Shōta can hear Toshinori in All Might, and if he were to turn around and look, could probably see him too. How the fuck did he miss that?

Instead of dwelling on the fact he’s been dating All Might for the past half a year (give or take), Shōta launches into saving people and distracting beasts. There’s three giant ones (a boar, a tanuki, and a crocodile respectively), but plenty more smaller ones. Shōta doesn’t really want to hurt them, even when a crane practically launches onto his shoulders, and doesn’t really know if they are real animals or some creations. He focuses on subduing them (a few empty cars end up with interesting passengers) and rounding people up and away, all the time searching for the culprit.

“Eraserhead!” someone shouts, and Shōta nods as Sekijiro joins him. It’s not exactly his territory, but he’s in civilian dress, a shopping bag hanging from one elbow.

“Unlucky enough to be caught in this then?” Shōta asks, stretching his leg out and wrapping his capture scarf up, checking for any breaks.

“Unfortunately,” Sekijiro comments. “I was here when they arrived, I think the main bulk of them came from over there,” Sekijiro says, pointing towards one of the high-rise malls. Shōta closes his eyes slowly, sighs, and then nods. There’s plenty of heroes arriving on the scene to deal with the remainder of the rampaging animals and carnage now, so Shōta can divert his attention.

“I’m going to find the fucker that started this,” he says, and Sekijiro hums in agreement.

“I’ll deal with this lot. More backup’s on the way and the police are already handling civilians.” Sekijiro sighs as a horse spots them, flicking its ears back as it begins its approach. “Why horses,” he mumbles, and Shōta decides it’s time to head off.

The tanuki and crocodile have been taken care of, and as Shōta sets down on a lamppost, All Might is busy wrestling with the boar. It’s on its back, legs kicking and a horrific squealing escaping its mouth, but it’s not as loud as All Might’s laugh.

“Go down well, my friend!” he shouts, squeezing, and there is a huge plume of smoke, the boar shrinking down until it’s no bigger than a dinnerplate. It’s a piglet, then, and Shōta thinks it looks utterly adorable cradled against All Might’s huge chest.

No, Shōta thinks, they still have this weird villain to go after. Thoughts about All Might (Toshinori)’s chest need to wait.

“All Might!” he shouts, hopping down from the lamppost, closing the distance between them. “Blood Vlad thinks the villain is in the mall,” Shōta says, staring at the piglet instead of up.

“Ah,” All Might says. “How would you feel about accompanying me then, Eraserhead?”

Shōta isn’t picked up this time, thankfully, and they make it to the top level of the mall in moments with All Might leaping, and Shōta pulling himself along with his capture weapon. The entire front of the mall has been smashed in, and it’s no trouble to find the very top floor. There are people, unconscious but alive, and Shōta fires off a message via his phone, cursing as the crack in it makes it harder to text.

“Here,” All Might says, passing Toshinori’s phone over. “Passcode is my birthday,” he says, taking a few steps into the mall, eyes critical and pig still cradled against his chest. Shōta envies that pig.

Nope, Shōta thinks, get back on track. He shakes his head as he thumbs in Toshinori’s birthday, and if there was ever any remaining doubt in his mind that his Toshinori was All Might, it fades as his home screen opens to a picture of the mountains from Toshinori’s last trip that way. He remembers Toshinori lamenting one evening when they were out. They’d taken a cute picture in front of a summer festival storefront, and Toshinori had wanted to set it as his background. He’d decided against it, in case anyone stole his phone and got any devious ideas, and it makes so much more sense now, Shōta thinks.

Shōta’s cheek twitches as he sends the call for backup to look after the people here, and he tucks the phone away in his pocket, following after All Might as they venture into the depths of the mall.

It’s strange to be here when it’s so quiet, and Shōta keeps a close eye out, keeping his head moving to avoid his goggles’ blind spots. All Might is huge beside him, and Shōta tries not to notice how he’s stroking the piglet, calming it, but fails. He opens his mouth to suggest Toshinori set the pig down when he feels a change in air pressure.

“Shit,” Toshinori mumbles as Shōta grabs his shoulder and tugs him down, a ball of fire narrowly skimming across the top of them. “This is some cartoon-villain shit,” he mumbles, and Shōta fights the urge to laugh. Here, hidden away in the darkness of an empty mall, All Might has dropped his usual persona, and Shōta feels privileged. Not many people get to see All Might like this.

“You are still holding that pig,” Shōta comments, and All Might blinks, laughing as if he’s only just realised.

“Would you mind? I’ll be right back,” All Might says, and Shōta takes the piglet, watching as All Might heads off in the direction the fireball came.

He wonders briefly if he should be the slightest bit worried, but then Shōta hears a loud laugh, a clang, and then silence. All Might has this, Shōta thinks, and he wonders how the rest of the members of the case team will feel when they find out their mastermind villain isn’t much of a mastermind after all. Thankfully. All that preparation, all the worst case scenario planning, and their chemical dude is a flame-thrower wielding animal fanatic. What an idiot.

“I’ve got him, Eraserhead!” All Might announces cheerfully, stepping over glass and clothes, villain sprawled over one huge shoulder. “Shall we join the police?”

Shōta can see All Might’s soulmark, dancing over the forearm that is holding the villain up. His eyes trace the pattern it makes, circling lazily, and he shakes his head.

“Take this one,” he says, handing the piglet over. All Might crooks his free arm across his chest, and Shōta settles the piglet back against the blue shirt. “I’ll see you at yours later.”

Shōta leaves quickly, before All Might has a chance to reply, heading to the roof and vaulting across town until he reaches his own apartment. He figures he has a few hours before All Might is free, enough to send an emergency text to Hizashi and Nemuri.

Except Shōta pulls All Might’s phone out of his pocket with his own, and he unlocks it again, thumb hovering on the messages app. He balks, chooses photos instead, and his heart beats soundly as he scrolls through the main album.

There’s a lot of useless Toshinori junk on there, photos of signposts and scenery, things Shōta doesn’t see much merit in keeping images of. There’s some food, dinners Shōta’s cooked, some they’ve eaten out, and then there’s the photos of Shōta himself. There’s some of him alone, some selfies he’s sent to Toshinori, some of them together. It’s damning evidence that the two soulmates Shōta thought he had are one, but it’s still mind boggling.

How can Toshinori be All Might? Toshinori, quirkless, a secretary, a hero in his own right, and All Might?

“Fuck,” Shōta exhales, scrolling through the photos. He doesn’t feel anything, not really, though he should probably say something about Toshinori keeping personal photos on his work phone. Or, perhaps, if he’s going to have the photos anyway, making one his background doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things. It should bother Shōta, but he can’t muster up the energy.

Shōta packs an overnight bag, shoving in anything he thinks he’ll need, and that includes his sleeping bag. He doesn’t intend to leave Toshinori’s place tonight, but he thinks he might end up in the walk-in shower if their conversation goes sour. It’s a defence mechanism in any case, and Shōta hauls his bag on his shoulder, heading out for the train.

On his journey, Shōta doesn’t think, and he avoids messaging Nemuri and Hizashi. It’s easier said than done, especially since the commute is hardly engaging. Shōta watches people, tries to contemplate their lives, and gets off the train with a muffled headache pounding behind his eyes. He feels like shit by the time he’s at Toshinori’s apartment, but he knows it’s just downhill from here, so waits outside, flicking through the photos on Toshinori’s phone. On a whim, he chooses the photo Toshinori had been debating setting as his background and replaces the mountain scenery. He nods, satisfied, and locks the phone as he spots Toshinori arriving out of the corner of his eyes.

His blue shirt is wrinkled and there are a few questionable marks on it. Toshinori looks tired, but he smiles at Shōta, even as he brushes away an odd, brown stain against his chest. It must have been from the piglet, and Shōta blinks as he realises Toshinori doesn’t have the pig anymore, and that’s a ridiculous thing to think. Toshinori isn’t going to bring the piglet home, is he?

“Don’t ask,” Toshinori says as he opens the door to the lobby, holding it open for Shōta with one broad hand, soulmark flitting across it briefly, vanishing under his shirt. “I’ve already been approached by the farmer’s association to do some campaigning on their pigs.” He rolls his eyes at Shōta, and Shōta smiles gently. Maybe this won’t be so bad after all.

What would the Shōta of this morning thought of that conversation? Would he just have accepted it as something All Might’s secretary does?

“There are photos already doing the rounds,” Toshinori says tiredly. “It’s a cute pig, I think it’s already got a YouTube channel or something, but I wish she hadn’t decided to call it Pork Mighty.”

The power of All Might, Shōta thinks. Would he just have assumed the Toshinori of this morning was handed Pork Mighty and had to deal with it? He’ll never know. Shōta isn’t sure he wants to.

For all his discrepancies with All Might, Shōta has never disliked him. Found him gaudy, too much, a scapegoat for everything that is wrong with the hero system perhaps, but never disliked. Now that he’s seen All Might as something other than the pomp and circumstance, Shōta thinks differently. Now that he knows there is a man behind the body, Shōta knows differently.

“Well then,” Toshinori says, unlocking the door. They take their shoes off and Toshinori stretches, spine cracking as he lets out a sigh. “That was a day.”

Shōta hums in agreement, arms itching to hug Toshinori, lips tingling to kiss him, but he knows he can’t. Not yet, not when they never got to finish their conversation from earlier.

“I met Naomasa-kun before I left,” Toshinori says, shuffling across the wooden floor and to the lounge. He sat heavily down on one of the huge couches, Shōta taking the smaller armchair. “He says there will be a briefing on Monday evening, but that they don’t think there was anyone else involved. Case closed nice and neatly,” Toshinori says with a tired smile.

He’s avoiding what they should be talking about, Shōta realises, and his stomach drops. The way they’d left it, what Shōta was saying – Toshinori has no idea Shōta had no idea. Of course not! Toshinori’s been crystal clear this entire time, and Shōta’s been too fixated on having two soulmates he didn’t draw the most obvious conclusion of them all.

“About what I was saying at the restaurant,” Shōta says quickly and quietly, eyes focused on the floor. It’s a dark wood, varnished beautifully. He’s always liked Toshinori’s floor.

“Yes,” Toshinori replies, voice small and, when Shōta glances up, face tight. He thinks there is someone else, that Shōta isn’t his entirely and completely, and the thought hurts so much. Shōta has been too blind and too cruel.

“This is embarrassing,” Shōta admits, and can practically feel the confusion bouncing off of Toshinori. “I made a mistake when I said I had two soulmates.”

Shōta waits, hands clenched in his lap, hoping it’s enough for Toshinori to understand. It’s not, he knows it isn’t, but it’s easier than saying it aloud.

“I don’t understand,” Toshinori says, and he runs a hand through his hair. He’s tired, and Shōta kicks himself for never realising that the very Symbol of Peace has been leaning on him while he has been criticising him. “If… if this isn’t what you want, please, just-“

“I didn’t know you were All Might,” Shōta blurts out, eyes wide and heart pounding. It is perhaps the most terrifying thing he’s ever said, and Toshinori’s mouth closes slowly, a frown crossing his face as he tried to puzzle out what Shōta means.

“I didn’t know you were All Might. So I thought… When I met you in the convenience store, I didn’t get we were soulmates until Hizashi and Nemuri told me. Then, on the warehouse kidnapping mission, I saw our soulmarks reacting, but you were All Might.” Shōta hangs his head, stomach twisting and jaw clenching as he fights to get the words out.

Toshinori bursts into laughter. It’s closer to All Might’s laugh than the usual one Shōta hears, but maybe that’s because he knows now. He laughs so much that he wipes at his eyes hurriedly, and only cuts off as he coughs, blood staining his lips as Shōta crosses the room. Shōta pulls tissue from his pockets, hands it to Toshinori, and sits miserably by his side as he regains his breath.

“What are you talking about Shōta?” Toshinori says, sitting back on the couch, an arm slinging over the back by Shōta. “You came to the agency to find me. I thought you knew?”

Shōta lowers his head until it sits in his hands, elbows resting on his thighs. He draws in a breath and shakes his head, unable to speak.

“So… what did you think all the little emergencies were? Secretary work isn’t that dangerous or urgent,” Toshinori says, and Shōta looks up quickly. He feels embarrassed, too hot and too close, but there’s a hint of a smile on Toshinori’s face. He’s teasing.

“It’s not funny,” Shōta mumbles, sinking back on the couch and closing his eyes. An arm slips around his shoulders and he lets himself be pulled against Toshinori’s side, a kiss pressed to the top of his head.

“All this time you had no idea that Yagi Toshinori and All Might are the same person?” Toshinori asks softly, and Shōta shakes his head.

“It’s obvious now,” he says, tilting his head to press his temple to Toshinori’s jaw. “And in our fight today, I could see you so clearly in All Might. Just as I can now see him in you.”

It’s true. Toshinori may not have the muscle mass or beaming smile presence of All Might, but he is the base a legend is built on. He has the strong jaw and the piercing gaze, the presence of a man who knows how to be heard (when he wants), and he is comfortable in himself, despite the tragedy he’s been through. Shōta was always surprised by the confidence Toshinori has in himself despite his looks, and he knows everyone else who first meets him is surprised too, but it makes sense.

Toshinori is the man who holds the entire world on his shoulders. Shōta is just an idiot who never saw it.

“The day I came to the agency, I was looking for All Might,” Shōta confesses, feeling shame burn in him.

Toshinori is silent for a moment, and then he shifts. He manages to haul Shōta to the side slightly, slip a leg around him, and then sit back. Shōta settles with his back pressed to Toshinori’s chest, the two of them laying the length of the couch, Toshinori’s arms wrapped tightly around him. He sets his head back, looking up as Toshinori stares ahead, soft smile on his face.

“All this time,” he murmurs, and Shōta sighs, closing his eyes. “I’ve been worried that, one day, that’ll be it. I always thought that one day you’d wake up, realise I can’t be All Might anymore, and everything you know to be wrong with the hero system swallows us up, and we’re powerless.”

Shōta opens his eyes, unsure what exactly Toshinori is trying to say.

“All Might will fall one day,” Toshinori says quietly, his voice barely more than a broken whisper. “He will fall, and all that will be left is Yagi Toshinori.”

Shōta brings one of his hands up to grip Toshinori’s arm, squeezing gently.

“I knew you had your discrepancies with All Might and the hero system, and how interesting that will be to talk about now,” Toshinori says, a hint of a smile in his words, enough to make Shōta roll his eyes, fingers stroking Toshinori’s forearm. “But, at the very centre of it, I thought you knew who I was.”

Toshinori inhales deeply, and when he lets his breath out, he sounds relaxed his shoulders slump, body going boneless under Shōta, and Shōta twists in his grasp until he’s straddling Toshinori’s waist, his hair a curtain around them against the outside world. Toshinori brings a hand up, the back of his knuckles stroking Shōta’s cheek, and he smiles, soft and tired.

“What I want to say, Shōta,” he says quietly, his fingers smoothing gently into Shōta’s hairline, past his temple. These are hands that could crush Shōta without a second thought, but they have always been so tender, so soft and so loving. Shōta leans into the touch, eyes half-closing.

“What I want to say is that I don’t need to worry anymore,” Toshinori says, and he smiles, wide enough that Shōta sees gums. It’s nothing like All Might’s smile, it’s not a saving grace, nor a protective field. This is happiness in its purest form, and Shōta sinks down, unable to help himself.

“You chose me, Shōta,” Toshinori whispers, eyes bright with unshed tears. “You chose Yagi Toshinori. Not many people have done that.”

The words pull at something in Shōta’s chest, and he clutches Toshinori tightly, every nerve in his body afire. This is bigger than Shōta acting like an idiot and becoming the king of miscommunication. This is about the world raising their Symbol up and forgetting the man behind him. Shōta has misunderstood Toshinori, but they can make this work. He can amend for his mistakes, be everything Toshinori needs and more. He doesn’t want a life without Toshinori.

“I’m still going to be terrified if you end up in hospital,” Shōta says against Toshinori’s skin. “Just because you’re All Might doesn’t give you a get out of jail free card, alright?”

Toshinori’s hand moves to cup the back of his head, stroking his hair gently. He hums, Shōta feels him smile, and he nods.

They stay there for a long while, basking against each other. The light in the room dims until the moon is high, and Shōta blinks, unaware he’d dozed off. He looks down into Toshinori’s bright eyes, and sits up, wincing at the pull of his back.

“Bed,” Toshinori says gently, tucking a strand of hair behind Shōta’s ear. “I’m excited to wake up next to you.”

He fucking beams, and Shōta feels too exposed, too in love, too sappy, and he knows he’s bright red. Toshinori has the simple ability to knock air from his lungs, and Toshinori knows it, judging by the laugh he lets out as he sits up.

“I’ll even make breakfast in the morning,” Toshinori offers, and Shōta holds his hand out, helping Toshinori stand. They hobble to the bedroom, Shōta stripping and ducking under the covers while Toshinori headed to the bathroom. He’s done in ten minutes, teeth flossed and skin moisturised, and Shōta admires his ability to stick to bedtime routines no matter what.

“Goodnight, Shōta,” Toshinori says as they settle against each other. He’s in the crook of Shōta’s neck, arms wrapped tight as Shōta buries his chin against the crown of his head. It’s probably going to be too warm in the night, too close, but it’s perfect.

“Goodnight, Toshinori,” Shōta replies, and he can feel himself drifting already, sleep easy when he knows he’s safe and loved. Toshinori’s feet twitch, knobbly knees resting between Shōta’s thighs, and then Toshinori goes soft, warm and comfortable in Shōta’s embrace.

It’s all Shōta’s wanted all week. Things aren’t perfect, but they’re working on it.

.

They don’t leave the apartment Sunday. Aside from answering mandatory phone calls and emails, both Toshinori and Shōta spend the day in bed, tangled up in each other. This is falling madly, deeply, and truly in love, Shōta thinks as Toshinori leaves the warmth of the bed to go to the toilet, and he leans into the warm spot left behind.

“Kayama-san just sent you a text,” Toshinori calls from the kitchen, the sound of the kettle being turned on explaining why he’s out there and not in here. Shōta groans, knowing he probably should have messaged Nemuri or Hizashi yesterday, and asks Toshinori to bring his phone in.

Toshinori reenters with two mugs, phone tucked under his armpit. He passes one of the mugs – perfectly brewed coffee – to Shōta and moves his arm, the phone falling onto Shōta’s lap. He presses a kiss to the top of Shōta’s head and then moves to the other side of the bed, sighing as he gets back in the warmth.

“It’s not even cold out, stop being ridiculous,” Shōta mumbles, but he’s shuffling sideways until his hip bumps Toshinori’s, bare calf draping over Toshinori’s bony shin.

“You really should message Kayama-san back,” Toshinori advises, sipping at his tea. He winces, muttering that it’s hot, and Shōta hides a smile as he grabs his phone and flicks through the messages Nemuri’s sent to the group chat.

“She wants to know if I’m alive,” Shōta comments, which is a fair and regular question for Nemuri to message him. “Says she’s also been to my apartment, and that it’s a dive, and if I plan on taking you over there I should hire a cleaning crew to save you the eyesore.”

“Nice of her to think of me,” Toshinori comments, tilting his head to read the messages as Shōta scrolls through them. “Though she used a few more curse words than you,” he adds, and Shōta begins tapping his reply.

To: Fake Adults

Yeah I’m fine, stop messaging me.

-S

He pauses, considers, and glances at Toshinori.

To: Fake Adults

Toshinori says hi. We’re not coming to brunch today, I’ll bring him next week.

-S

Shōta tucks his phone under his pillow, ignoring the buzz he gets. It’s no doubt one of the monsters asking how his talk with Toshinori went, wondering if he’s at Toshinori’s now, and whether it’ll be the last brunch they see Toshinori at or if things are absolutely fine.

And, of course, where All Might factors in all of this.

“Do Kayama-san and Yamada-san know?” Toshinori asks, and Shōta blinks.

“I hope not,” he mumbles, trying to think of any occasion either of them might have been dropping hints. “They would have told me outright. They love it when they can prove I’m actually an idiot, especially when they reveal it.” Shōta shuffles down, sprawling out on his side and watching Toshinori.

“Do you want to tell them?” Toshinori asks, looking down. He’s serious, and Shōta shrugs. “I never talked about it because I thought we were in a silent agreement, but it’s better that All Might isn’t involved with anyone publically. For friends, though, I have to admit I don’t particularly enjoy hiding who I am.”

Shōta nods. It makes sense, it’s what he’s been thinking of asking, and he’s glad Toshinori said it first. They don’t need to make their relationship publically official, it wouldn’t benefit either of them. Friends are another matter, and Shōta lets ideas tick over in the back of his mind, wondering if Toshinori has ever wanted to reveal his identity in a certain way. His friends live for the drama, even if they’re the butt of the joke this time.

“We’ll have to be careful to make sure our inkblots are hidden when we’re together professionally, but we’ve managed it so far.” Toshinori pauses, sipping his drink. “You must have had no idea I saw the marks move with the acid villain too,” he muses, and Shōta winces.

Toshinori’s never going to let him live that down, and that’s fair.

“I thought I was being sneaky,” Shōta says, thrown back to the warehouse and reporters, and the one very brief moment he caught All Might’s gaze as it flickered away.

“Not sneaky at all, my love,” Toshinori grumbles, and he sets his tea to the side quickly, launching himself to the side to half-crush Shōta, fingers going for the ribs as he begins kissing Shōta’s neck. When Shōta hauls him up, laughter dying in his throat, he tastes of honey and lemon, sweet and bitter.

“Would you tell me the full story,” Shōta asks gently when they pull apart. His fingertips linger at the top of Toshinori’s collar, thumb curling to trace his pectoral, hand trailing down to the very tip of Toshinori’s scar. “I didn’t want to pry before, but it’s important, isn’t it?”

Toshinori nods and makes no moved to clamber off Shōta. He sinks down, adjusting them so that his weight, such as it is, isn’t completely crushing Shōta’s torso. His cheek ends up pressed to Shōta’s chest, and Shōta’s fingers begin tracing shapes on his shoulder blades.

“Not many people know this, but I was born quirkless,” Toshinori says. Shōta doesn’t react, doesn’t need to, and instead focuses on the way their soulmarks are dancing across Toshinori’s back and Shōta’s fingers. “I inherited the quirk that helped me become All Might.”

Shōta listens as Toshinori explains his past, his quirk, and All For One. He listens as Shimura Nana dies, listens as Toshinori is burnt up and left for dead, listens through the months of painful recovery. Not once do Shōta’s fingers still, though his eyes ache as tears well up. He thinks of Toshinori alone, in pain, wondering if anyone could ever accept him as he is now, and Shōta never wants to let him go.

“I love you,” Shōta says, once Toshinori has paused. He can feel tears on his chest and wonders how many other people have had the privilege to hold Toshinori like this. He feels empty at the thought, and Shōta vows that he will always be there to pick Toshinori back up, no matter what happens.

“Shōta,” Toshinori replies, and he stirs. He wipes his cheeks as he sits up, eyes wide. “Oh, Shōta,” he replies, and he kisses Shōta so softly, so gently, that it barely feels like he is there at all.

“I love you too,” he whispers against Shōta’s lips, and then he presses down again. Shōta closes his eyes, one of his arms wrapping around Toshinori’s shoulders, and he feels utterly complete, more of a person than he ever has been.

From under the cushion, Shōta’s phone buzzes, an incoming call disturbing them. He sighs, but then Toshinori’s phone buzzes too, and they know that business calls.

“Don’t forget your coffee either,” Toshinori chides as he rolls back to his side of the bed, grasping for his phone. He answers in English and begins a high-paced conversation with someone, as if he hasn’t just been spilling his secrets against Shōta’s heart. He is the epitome of a professional.

Looking at the name flashing across his screen, Shōta accepts the call, fingers reaching for his mug at the same time. It’s on the edge of being too cool, but he takes a sip as he greets the caller.

“Tsukauchi-san,” he says, taking a larger gulp. “How may I help you?”

“I apologise for calling you, but we were wondering if you could get to the station a little earlier than the meeting time tomorrow to help file the reports. All Might informed us you were crucial to detaining the villain, and we need a statement.” Hero work never sleeps, Shōta knows that, so he isn’t annoyed to be bothered on a Sunday morning.

“Of course, I should be able to ask for the afternoon off. I’ll clear it with Nedzu-san and get back to you tomorrow?” Shōta says, wincing as Toshinori lets out a loud laugh.

“Ah,” Tsukauchi says, laughing lightly. “Pass on my thanks to Toshinori-san too. And make sure he takes you to the new American restaurant that’s opened up in town. I recommended it to him, but I think he felt a little embarrassed about it, considering his past and the fact he’s never found a decent American-style restaurant here. This one’s different, though, so get him to take you there as it’s worth it!”

Shōta smiles, thanking Tsukauchi. He’s a good man, and a good friend to Toshinori.

Toshinori’s still on the phone, looking abashed at something, so Shōta settles back down in bed after setting his empty mug on the side. He scrolls through the news on his phone, ignoring the messages Hizashi is sending (he’s been locked out of the studio due to protests that don’t have anything to do with his station or show), waiting for Toshinori to finish.

“I wasn’t lying when I said I had to consult idiots as a large part of my job,” Toshinori says a few minutes later, frown deep and hand clenched tightly around his phone. “If I ever get to the point of retiring, I’ll be on my deathbed before they stop asking me stupid questions.”

Shōta snorts.

“That’s the way it works,” he comments, and Toshinori takes a small sip of tea. He seems hesitant, so Shōta waits.

“Now that you know I’m All Might,” he starts, taking a deep breath. “Now that you know I’m All Might, does it… change things?”

Shōta raises an eyebrow, unsure how to reply.

“I mean,” Toshinori continues, fingers fiddling with the covers. “You’ve always been vocal about your criticisms of the hero system and the part I have to play in it. You didn’t know it was me then, though. So… does it change your mind?”

Shōta understands now. He’s never given Toshinori any reason to think he particularly likes All Might, and it’s a heavy weight to bear. He smiles gently, sitting back and shaking his head.

“I like All Might. I might not always agree with his actions or what will happen when he – you – retire, but you’re necessary in the system we have today. You’re brave, foolish, outstandingly amazing, but don’t expect me to go easy on you.” Shōta turns to Toshinori, fingers wiggling for Toshinori to take. He does so, softening at the touch as he drains the last of his tea.

“It means we just have to work harder, both of us. There are kids that are suffering in this world because of the hero system.” Shōta tightens his grip and Toshinori leans over, planting a gently kiss to his temple.

“I want to change,” Toshinori says, and Shōta pulls him close and back under the covers. “I want us to change the world.”

“Slow down, old man,” Shōta says with a wink, and Toshinori gives a huff of laughter, nodding his head slowly in agreement. “You have to survive through Hizashi finding out you’re All Might first.”

.

Monday is a grey day, rain drizzling down in the morning and clearing to clouded skies. It leaves puddles everywhere, and Shōta sighs as he sluices his way to the police station in the afternoon, wondering when he got a hole in both of his boots and how he’d missed that.

“Eraserhead!” calls a familiar voice, and Shōta, barely two steps in the door, can see All Might waving at him from about as far away as he could be. “We’re in here!”

Shōta ducks his head into his capture weapon to avoid anyone seeing his smile, heading to the small room where All Might is holding the door open. He notes Toshinori has a pair of smart, leather gloves on, and he nods, glad he made the move to put his own on during the train ride.

“Nice to see you, Eraserhead,” All Might says, and there’s an edge to his grin, a gleam in his eye, and as Shōta passes, the door shuts, and All Might is behind him, much closer than necessary, a hand skimming Shōta’s ass gently to rest against the small of his back. There are a few others in the room, all officers, and Tsukauchi smiles at the both of them, nodding for them to take a seat and begin recounting the events of Saturday.

Shōta doesn’t contribute too much, in all honesty. He takes responsibility for damaging so many cars (apparently woodland animal shit stinks and is hard to clean off of seatbelts), briefly touches on the pig – Pork Mighty, who Shōta can confirm is a YouTube sensation and he may or may not have subscribed himself and liked a video of Pork Mighty running around the house in what his owners called a Bacon Smash – and recounts his brief, non-existent involvement in the final battle.

“The villain is actually wanted internationally. European, responsible for a lot of low-scale terror offenses and high-end criminal ones. Not a nice guy, as I’m sure you can appreciate.” Tsukauchi closes his file, nodding to himself. “We have a load of paperwork for you, then I’d like you to meet us in the briefing hall to close the case. Not everyone was able to attend but we have a fair amount of heroes attending.”

There’s a stack set down on one of the tables in the centre of the room, and Tsukauchi looks apologetic as the rest of the officers leave. It’s a hefty stack, and Toshinori sighs, shooting Shōta a put-upon look.

“I’ll lock us in,” Tsukauchi says, making good on his words before setting to pouring coffee from a table at the side of the room. “Feel free to relax,” he says, and Shōta turns to Toshinori, wanting to see him change.

It’s alarming and strange, to see someone shift from a beloved public figure to the face Shōta has pressed many kisses on. He coughs, blood dripping down his bottom lip, and Shōta moves forward, knowing Toshinori doesn’t have anything but his sleeve to wipe his mouth on.

“Here,” Shōta says, and he’s very aware of Tsukauchi watching them closely. Toshinori’s soulmark dances over his lips as Shōta presses a wad of tissue against skin, looking Toshinori pointedly in the eye.

“Ah thank you, Eraserhead,” he mumbles as Shōta steps away to the desk. “And apologies Naomasa-san. I, er, didn’t expect that reaction.”

Whether Toshinori means the blood or Shōta cleaning him up, they’ll never know. Tsukauchi coughs politely, and Shōta would bet money on the fact that what Toshinori just said was a full-frontal lie.

“Well,” he comments, passing the coffees around to their side of the table. “I’d recommend finishing up the paperwork, and then perhaps the American diner I suggested.”

Shōta grins into his capture scarf as Toshinori wrinkles his nose, and begins a commentary on how he’s never found an American restaurant that truly captures the spirit of Texas. Shōta knows, through the grapevine, that Tsukauchi’s suggestions aren’t one hundred percent altruistic. There’s a bet on whether any of the officers can get All Might to visit the American restaurant, and Tsukauchi’s time limit is up on Sunday. If he could get Toshinori in there once, he’ll get All Might in there in another time Tsukauchi is confident, according to the grapevine.

The paperwork is boring, but they’re thorough and they get everything signed and stamped as heroes are arriving for the debrief. Shōta hates the bureaucracy involved in daylight heroing, and despite having more to do with it from now on due to Toshinori, he vows to avoid it like the plague. Too much paperwork, too much inactivity. It’s an evil necessity.

“We should probably join the debrief,” Toshinori says eventually, collecting their dirty coffee mugs and taking them to the side table. Tsukauchi shoots Shōta a look, and he smiles in return.

Toshinori turns to them after straightening the tablecloth, throwing a wink at Shōta and transforming. It’s not as alarming as before, and Shōta can appreciate how seamless the change is. Toshinori smiles, wide, and flexes a bicep, to which Shōta can’t help but raise an eyebrow. That’s his boyfriend.

They leave the room together and enter the debriefing room without fanfare, but it’s not enough to stop the All Might effect. The room seems to turn to them, and Shōta feels exposed as everyone softens, some even smiling. It’s an odd feeling, to see everyone at ease with Toshinori’s mere presence, and it’s something to contemplate.

Nemuri’s already sitting down, though she turns as the room notices All Might. Shōta peels himself away, heading for her instantly, and prepares for the barrage of questions he’s likely to receive. She’ll have sense to keep her mouth shut on his personal relationships – at least until they’re out of here – but she can question him all All Might all she likes.

“Eraserhead,” she greets cordially, and that’s how Shōta knows she’s annoyed. Which is fair. He barely replied to her yesterday and managed to avoid both her and Hizashi at work. He’s been avoiding it because he hasn’t decided how he wants to tell them about Toshinori, and it’s easier to ignore the entire situation than worry about his friends and the biggest secret of the century.

“Midnight,” he greets back, sitting heavily in the seat and stretching his legs out.

“Working closely with All Might?” she asks, and Shōta glances at her from the corner of his eye, remembering all the times she’s somehow managed to accidentally dial him during sex, all the times she’s gotten him absolutely shitfaced on grotty cocktails and all the times she’s vomited on his carpet.

He could have a little fun with this secret, right? At least until they can be somewhere with privacy suitable for such a big secret.

“Paperwork,” Shōta grunts in reply. “Not exactly the stuff of fantasies,” he says, rolling his eyes.

“You do realise I’m interrogating you later,” Nemuri says, patting Shōta’s arm not-too-gently. Her nails are at the end of their manicure run, and Shōta is thankful for small graces. If Nemuri’s nails were fresh, he’d probably be bleeding by now.

“Sure, sure,” Shōta comments, and he’s pretty certain he’ll be able to slip away without her. It isn’t too difficult, and he has a feeling Nemuri will let him get away.

“You look… good,” she says, head tilted to him to make sure no one else hears. “You’re okay?”

For a brief moment, Shōta feels bad for not telling her. All jokes aside, he doesn’t want to lie to Nemuri, but he also knows it’s impossible to tell her anywhere but in private. And with Toshinori with him. It’s not really Shōta’s secret, after all.

“I’m good,” he replies as Tsukauchi heads for the front of the room, Toshinori in tow. “I promise I’ll explain everything later,” Shōta says, and Nemuri nods, turning her attention to Tsukauchi.

Shōta watches Toshinori as he delivers a short report of his actions. He leaves Shōta out of it, as requested, and also doesn’t take the opportunity to do some Pork Mighty promo, which is, if you ask Shōta, a little rude. He slips his phone from his pocket and links the Fake Adults chat to Pork Mighty’s YouTube channel, satisfied he’s done his bit for now.

“I just want to thank you all for your cooperation,” Tsukauchi says, bowing to the crowd. “I’m glad this turned out as well as it did, and I hope I don’t have to see all of you so soon again.” There’s a rumble of laughter through the crowd, and they’re done. It’s almost a waste to bring everyone out here, but Shōta knows a lot of the heroes here use it to network, and the police get to check up on their local heroes and write notes on who to add to which case.

“I was thinking we could grab food and storm Hizashi’s studio, he’s got this fancy new system he can barely drag himself away from, seriously Shōta I think he wants to dick it down, and I want to fiddle with it to piss him off and-” Nemuri pauses in her high-speed sentence and her eyes widen.

It isn’t hard to see why, not with All Might’s bulk at Shōta’s side. He almost holds himself like a shy kid, and Shōta takes pity, standing up with a sigh.

“I was hoping to borrow Eraserhead,” All Might says gently, smiling sweetly at Nemuri over Shōta’s shoulder. “I’ve been asked to visit Pork Mighty, and I thought you might like to see how he’s doing.”

Toshinori definitely knows Shōta’s an avid subscriber then, and he shrugs, feigning indifference. He pointedly ignores the stare Nemuri fixes him as he nods.

“I’ll message you,” he offers to Nemuri, and he almost winces at the look she fixes him. She’s not happy, not one bit, but Shōta has the option to run away with the Number 1 Hero, and he’s going to make the most of it.

With a nod to Tsukauchi, Toshinori leads Shōta out and up, heading for the roof. He grins, opens his arms, and Shōta sighs. It is the quickest way to get around, he supposes, and they won’t have much time before it gets dark, which is when Shōta presumes Pork Mighty goes to sleep. That’s what non-domesticated animals do, right?

“Up we go,” Toshinori says gently, scooping Shōta up. He can’t help but press a kiss to Shōta’s temple, and it should bother him, it really should. It doesn’t. And while they are careful, Shōta thinks, deep down, that if the press took a photograph and their relationship blew up over the media, he wouldn’t care. Toshinori means more to him than anonymity, and he’s sacrificed himself so many times, perhaps Shōta can do the same. He’s underground, but there’s always a risk of revealing his identity. If he ends up doing it for love then, well, Shōta’s friends have always called him a sap.

The journey is a breeze, and Shōta thinks it’s amazing that Toshinori can navigate from the top of the world. Shōta watches his face as they fly , and it’s amazing. Toshinori looks overjoyed, years and duty melting from him, eyes bright and wrinkles smoothed a little. He looks free, and Shōta presses tighter against him, happy to be pressed against Toshinori’s chest for the ride. He has no interest in seeing the world below.

They land remarkably softly, and that is something Shōta doesn’t think he’ll get used to. They’re just outside the main city of Musutafu, and Shōta blinks at the sight of a small house. It’s got a pretty garden at the front, and Toshinori leads the way up the cobbled path.

“Oi,” Shōta says, darting forward before Toshinori can leave him behind. “This is someone’s home .”

“Yep,” Toshinori replies, ringing the doorbell as Shōta stands behind him, feeling absolutely alien in this situation.

“All Might can’t just ring someone’s doorbell,” Shōta says, shaking his head, watching the door with a frown. All Might doesn’t make house calls.

“I can, and I shall,” Toshinori replies, reaching behind himself to tug Shōta forward, just as the door opens. Shōta blinks at an elderly lady, and she smiles up at Toshinori in delight.

“Sorahiko was just saying you weren’t eating enough and looked like skin and bones!” she says, and Toshinori winks at Shōta as he’s pulled inside the house. It’s ironic, considering Toshinori is still in his All Might form.

 

Shōta’s left to follow, half wondering where he can find the piglet and half wondering who on earth is caring for the piglet. They know Toshinori somehow, and Shōta tries to think of a Sorahiko in Toshinori’s life.

“Auntie!” a voice comes from inside, and Shōta can see a woman a little older than him trying to pry the elderly woman’s hands off Toshinori. “What have I told you about greeting guests properly. Toshinori’s brought a friend!”

The elderly woman turns, face breaking out into a smile as she meets Shōta’s eyes.

“Hello, hello,” she says, beckoning Shōta close. He starts taking his boots off, but she shakes her head. “Keep them on, we’ll be heading back out in a moment.”

“This is Sumiko-san,” Toshinori says. “She’s my old teacher’s sister, and this is their family house.”

 

Shōta blinks at that, and it doesn’t take long to pinpoint the photos on the walls. There are many children, many smiles, and Sumiko seems to take pity on him. She passes Shōta an old photograph, colours leached from it by the sun. It shows a young Toshinori holding chicks, a man Shōta takes a moment to recognise as Gran Torino beside him, Sumiko herself patting Toshinori on the shoulder. It’s a remarkably sweet photograph, and Sumiko smiles, taking the picture back when Shōta offers it.

“It used to be the countryside, but the city grew around us!” Sumiko says. “We have enough land here for a few chickens and our latest additions – we’re gifted with air-related quirks though, so hopping over to the rest of our fields further out is no trouble. We have a small holding a little further out, but we like to keep the chickens and any abandoned babies here.”

“Hanako-chan setting up that account on YouTube has helped massively too, they keep telling me at the farm shop. Everyone’s a fan of our latest addition,” the lady, who must be Sumiko’s daughter, says. Shōta assumes Hanako-chan is her own daughter, and he wonders how many people live here currently.

“Head out to the stables Toshinori,” Sumiko says. “We’re not far off eating if you’ll stay. There’s plenty for the both of you.”

It seems they’re staying, and Shōta isn’t sure what he thinks just yet. Toshinori doesn’t say anything as he leads them out the front door and around the house, out and around until they come to a small block of stables and a large pen. He’s happy, Shōta can tell, and he’s happy if Toshinori is.

“All Might!” a voice calls, and Shōta spots a girl of about 13. She’s by the side of the pen, throwing chopped vegetables around. A group of 7 piglets are trotting around snuffling away, and Shōta focuses in on Pork Mighty’s boar colouration right away.

“Who is this!” the girl calls, though she seems more excited than anything, waving the arm holding the bucket. Food tips everywhere, much to the piglets’ delight, and there is a large squeal as they converge on her boots.

“Oops!” the girl says, and she lifts her arms up as Toshinori approaches. He pulls her up and out of the pen.

“This is Eraserhead,” Toshinori introduces, and Shōta shakes the hand the girl offers. “He’s a very good friend of mine.”

“Oh,” the girl says, tilting her head. “I’m Hanako. I’ve lived here for three years. I help look after the piglets and I showed everyone how to use YouTube. We’ve had loads of donations to help kids like me since it started, Sumiko-mama says.”

Shōta nods, and Hanako looks back at the pigs.

“Pork Mighty is like the real All Might,” she says, and leans over the fence to grab at the piglets. She hauls Pork Mighty up, tickling his belly as she does so, and Shōta watches as he goes limp, in complete bliss at her ministrations, wondering if he should start tickling Toshinori’s belly, if Pork Mighty is truly like the real All Might. “Loves a good cuddle. Here,” Hanako says, holding Pork Mighty out for him to take.

If you’d have asked Shōta this morning what he thought he’d be doing that evening, holding internet famous Pork Mighty and talking to a curious child would not have been high on that list. It’s refreshing, something exciting, and Shōta has discovered a new love of pigs.

“Smile!” Toshinori says, and Shōta has a moment to settle the piglet in his arms before Toshinori is taking photos. It takes a moment for Pork Mighty to get comfortable, but he becomes a warm lump when Shōta begins running his hands over his sides.

“He’s cute,” Shōta can’t help but say, and he looks up as Hanako laughs.

“Hanako-chan!” a voice calls, and they turn to see Sumiko a little way off. “Go help set the table.”

She nods, leaving instructions on how to put Pork Mighty back, and then runs back to the house. Shōta’s glad she’s not in his class with that energy, and he hopes she’ll never lose it.

“We take care of everyone here,” Sumiko says, standing beside Toshinori. A hand reaches out to stroke Pork Mighty’s head, and Shōta watches as the piglet closes his eyes, in sheer bliss.

“Outside of Sorahiko,” Sumoko says with a roll of her eyes, “Toshinori’s never brought a friend to meet me. You must be very important to him,” she says to Shōta, and her eyes seem to follow movement for a moment. Perhaps its Shōta and Toshinori’s soulmarks, perhaps it’s a fly catching the dim light of the evening, but it leaves her smiling.

“He’s very important to me,” Shōta says, and his belly warms as Sumiko nods, as if that’s all she’s been waiting to hear.

“Dinner will be soon,” she says gently, patting Toshinori’s shoulder. “Make sure you wash your hands, and then perhaps your young man can tell us about himself.”

She walks off slowly, age clear in her bones, and Shōta smiles to himself. This place seems like a warm home, and he wonders how much time Toshinori spent here as a youngster.

“Sumiko takes in a lot of kids,” Toshinori says, turning back to the piglets, wiggling his fingers. Pork Mighty grunts in Shōta’s arms, and Shōta keeps scratching, watching his little eyes close. It’s hard to believe he was a monster capable of crushing cars less than a few days ago.

“I helped out when I could, when I was younger. She… helped me after Nana-san died. I wasn’t here, but she made sure to phone me every day, without fail.” Toshinori peers over Shōta’s shoulder, fingers coming to play with Pork Mighty’s ear. “I wanted this little guy to be taken care of properly.”

Shōta understands, and he’s glad, both for Pork Mighty and Toshinori.

“We should name the large black after you,” Toshinori says, and Shōta rolls his eyes. “Eraserchop. Eraserbacon. Eraserham.”

“Stop it,” Shōta says, setting Pork Mighty back in the pen. He’s zooming off immediately, squealing to his friends, and Shōta refuses to acknowledge Eraserham as he speeds off away from the fence too.

“You like it really,” Toshinori mumbles, and he pulls Shōta’s close. He’s huge, still in his All Might form, and Shōta feels his face heat as Toshinori presses a kiss to the top of his head. He’s used to being dwarfed by Toshinori, even experienced intimate contact with his All Might form, but there’s something about the intimacy of the little farm, the piglets Shōta’s bonded with, and the setting sun.

“Let’s not disappoint Sumiko-san,” Shōta says, and Toshinori gives him a gentle laugh, slinging an arm around his shoulders as they turn to head back to the house.

He’ll come back here with Toshinori, Shōta thinks. It’s the kind of place he’s always wanted to retire to, and he shoots the piglets one last, wistful look. Maybe he can ask Hanako to send him updates of the pigs.

They’re not cats, but they’re damned cute, Shōta thinks.

Dinner is casual and warm, which surprises Shōta. He’s used to Toshinori setting the mood for the room, but today he seems relaxed and open, taking a backseat as Sumiko asks Shōta about his work. She relates stories of Toshinori’s youth and the table laughs. It feels like a family dinner, and Shōta wonders if this is the true power of Toshinori’s quirk, the power to bring people together so warmly.

“I really got lucky,” Shōta says later, when they’re cresting All Might’s jump, the moon high and bright above them.

“How so?” Toshinori asks, and for someone who is currently free-falling, he looks the vision of perfection and his voice is remarkably clear. Just another reminder of how much a professional Toshinori is.

“I got you,” Shōta says, and he’s glad Toshinori can’t see the flush of his cheeks. Too much company, good food and conversation have made him soft, and Shōta pretends to ignore the laugh Toshinori gives as he sets them down, on the roof of Shōta’s apartment.

“Would you like to come in?” Shōta asks, as if he really has to. He knows Toshinori doesn’t have to be anywhere until 10am tomorrow, and while Shōta has work, he also has other plans tonight.

“I’d love to,” Toshinori replies, and as he swoops down to kiss Shōta like something in those ridiculous, American movies, Shōta’s mind loses any complex thoughts other than how much he’s missed Toshinori.

 

.

The American-style diner is, Shōta thinks as they enter and someone greets them in heavily-American-accented English, tacky. He gets why Toshinori is reluctant to come here, and if not for the source of their recommendation, Shōta would have headed for the exit already.

“Howdy y’all! If all y’all would follow me,” their host says, still in English, and Shōta can just about understand. He’s been around Hizashi enough to hear ridiculous sentences but it always throws him. The host repeats in Japanese, detailing the ordering system (remote, though you can request a server if you wish) for their private booth.

“We hope you enjoy!” the host says, and smiles politely as they slide into the booth. They leave and Toshinori settles in, looking down at the electronic menu screen embedded in the table. He swipes through, ordering drinks for them both.

“They have pink gin,” Toshinori comments, looking to Shōta for confirmation. Shōta nods, and it’s pretty cute that Toshinori not only knows his go-to drink, but that he’ll always walk the dangerous pink gin path if offered.

“Are you sure about this?” Shōta murmurs, and Toshinori presses the confirm order button, turning to Shōta with a smile.

“I trust them,” Toshinori says, and Shōta looks down. That’s not what he means, and he knows Toshinori knows it. Shōta’s asking a lot for Toshinori to reveal his secret to Nemuri and Hizashi.

“Did I ever tell you the story of how I revealed myself to Naomasa-san?” Toshinori says, and Shōta shakes his head. He’s assumed he told Tsukauchi due to business. Toshinori takes his hand under the table, tapping the back of Shōta’s hand as he speaks.

“Well, let’s say I got carried away,” Toshinori says. “But I remember feeling relieved. Sure we were still work buddies, but Naomasa-san was always going to be a friend, and I don’t have many of them.”

Part of the wall closest to Toshinori opens slowly, their drinks sliding out neatly. Shōta takes a sip of his gin and tonic, nodding as the slide closes and Toshinori takes a huge gulp of his monster-sized cola.

“I’m looking forward to telling them,” Toshinori says, tilting his head towards Shōta. “It’s nice to have good friends, and they’re not going to blame you for not telling them.”

And that’s the bit Shōta is worried about. It’s not his fault he’d kept a secret from them, but he still feels bad. It’s not an easy secret either, and Shōta hasn’t exactly been a good friend as of late.

They make small talk as they browse the menu. It isn’t long before Nemuri swoops in, hair half-falling from its bun as she flings her handbag down, rolling her eyes.

“You will not believe who I met on the way over,” she moans, launching into a story about a hero who used to share the same agency as her. “She always hated me,” Nemuri says, tapping away at the drinks orders, barely looking at Shōta.

“I mean,” she says, pulling her hairband out and finally sitting back, drink ordered and annoyance dying down. “She was always jealous of me because she was lazy and never committed to anything, but she had the audacity to stand there, ask what I did now – as if she doesn’t know! – and then slander U.A.” Nemuri rolls her eyes, letting out a deep sigh and finally looking up with a bright smile.

“She’s going to end up failing at the interview she’s in town for anyway. There’s no way All Might’s agency will hire someone like her, even if she’s just trying to get in for secretarial work. She has no initiative, no drive, just wants an easy ride.” Nemuri shoots Shōta a pointed look as she mentions All Might, as if she’s trying to lead into getting the gossip about that relationship.

So far he’s managed to avoid both Nemuri and Hizashi. It’s not been too hard – it’s Friday and they’ve all been busy with school and patrols this week. Or, in Shōta’s case, school, patrol and then hiding at Toshinori’s house. He’s ignored texts, dodged lunchtime gossip catch ups, and promised to tell everyone everything on Friday. Which is why they’re here.

“Hello!” Hizashi says as the host smiles politely behind him, and he sits down next to Nemuri with a grin. “How are y’all!” he says in English, and Shōta feels the nerves in his stomach dislodge. Toshinori was right; he has nothing to worry about.

“Good, good, we’ll start ordering,” Toshinori says, in English, and Hizashi’s eyes light up. They talk about a few dishes in rapid-fire English, and Shōta glances to Nemuri, glad she’s just about as lost as he is. Hizashi, on the other hand, looks to be having the time of his life, hands flailing as he begins a different story – or Shōta thinks.

“But anyway, how has your week been going? Nemuri caught me up on your weekend madness, Shōta, and I bet it wasn’t easy for you either, Yagi-san!” Hizashi says, switching to Japanese and tapping away at his menu screen.

There is a pause as they order, and then Shōta sits back. They’d already agreed that Toshinori would be the one to explain, and he sits forward, drawing Hizashi and Nemuri’s attention.

“It came to my attention last weekend that we needed to discuss something,” he begins, and Shōta tucks himself into his capture weapon, eyes darting over the serious look on his friends’ face. Nemuri shoots him a look with panic in her eyes, clearly thinking about his behaviour with All Might on Monday, before she turns to Toshinori, brow furrowed.

“Before I get any further, I want to ask your permission in keeping this a secret,” Toshinori says, and Shōta slips a hand onto his thigh. It has to be hard revealing yourself, even if it is to friends, and Shōta is both proud and thankful of Toshinori for doing this for him. “It is a secret of grave importance, and you have the chance to walk away.”

Hizashi smiles, wide, and shakes his head.

“Yagi-san,” he says, throwing his hands up in a shrug. “What are friends for?”

“We’re staying,” Nemuri adds, and Shōta’s never been prouder of his two best friends. Even Toshinori seems a little taken aback as he turns to Shōta. It makes Shōta’s heart ache a little to see how happy he looks at the prospect of close friends, and Shōta’s hand tightens on his thigh.

“Then I shall tell you,” Toshinori says, sitting up a little taller. His hands rest on the table, and he seems so calm. Shōta lets his gaze drift to the other side of the table, where his friends look a little concerned and a little bored by it all. Shōta almost smiles. Perhaps he can enjoy this.

“There’s been a little misunderstanding,” Toshinori says, lacing his fingers together. “It seems Shōta has been convinced he has two soulmates, but, as he discovered this weekend, I am both of them.”

There’s a pause, and Shōta tenses, eyes flickering between his friends as they struggle to get it. Thank fuck it’s not just Shōta who needed a moment.

“I am All Might,” Toshinori says, and Shōta thinks it’s unfair that he transforms right there and then, thigh expanding around Shōta’s hand. He fights not to slide his palm anywhere inappropriate, and then decides to just remove his hands from Toshinori entirely.

Hizashi and Nemuri haven’t moved. Or rather, their jaws are open, eyes are wide, but they themselves are frozen. It’s a sight to see, and Shōta narrows his eyes at Hizashi, wondering if he’ll need to swoop into action and use his quirk.

There’s a buzz from the wall and, as the food hatch opens, Toshinori makes a noise of delight and shrinks down again. He’s engrossed in whatever is on his plate, and Shōta smiles tightly when two pairs of eyes come to rest on him.

“So,” he says, reaching for his knife and fork to tackle the potato and meat monstrosity on his plate. “Any questions?”

“Any questions!” Nemuri repeats, voice high. “I think a million fucking questions! Shōta, what the fuck?”

Hizashi is silent, eyes still wide, teeth still on show, and Shōta wonders if this is the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

“I’m glad I went with the steak,” Toshinori cuts in, eyes closed in delight as he lowers his fork. “Really glad.” He takes another bite, opening his eyes and looking around the table.

“Ah, yes,” he says, as if he’d forgotten his announcement. He’s too clever to have forgotten for real, and Shōta will never stop being impressed at how well Toshinori works people. He understands them, has the patience to deal with them, and he sets to work explaining.

“To cut a long story short, and because I owe you two the better explanation, I was in a fight with All For One. The outcome left me heavily injured and, well, in decline, for lack of a better term.” No one except Toshinori has touched their food, and Shōta finds himself drawn in by the story too, even though he knows far more details than Hizashi and Nemuri ever will.

“I’m able to transform into who I was for a number of hours each day by pushing the limits of my quirk. My time will run out, one day, but for now it is enough.” Toshinori smiles. He sounds so matter of fact and so pleasant about the situation, no one really knows how to reply.

There’s silence for a while, and Shōta tucks into his food. It’s good, like Tsukauchi promised, and Shōta definitely thinks All Might will make an appearance here over the weekend. When the silence breaks, it’s Hizashi who speaks, calmly and quietly, and Shōta immediately tenses.

“That’s cool and all, I think I’ve just about digested that my friend, but what I really want to ask about, if you don’t mind, is that little bit you said about Shōta discovering this weekend ?” Hizashi is looking at Toshinori and a smile spreads over his mouth, until Shōta can practically see his gums. It’s disgusting.

It’s also how Shōta knows everything is going to be alright, even if he has to put up with teasing for the rest of his life.

“Oh yes,” Toshinori says, and Shōta hates him as he laughs. “Let’s say we’ve had a few miscommunication errors over the last couple of weeks,” he says, and Shōta loves how their issues are simplified so easily. They’re not issues, at the end of the day, at least not issues he knows they can’t talk and move past together.

“Miscommunication!” Nemuri barks, finally picking up her fork with a shake of her head. “You mean to tell me I’ve been stressing that Shōta is going to break your heart because he was too scared to tell you about you ?” She stresses each ‘you’ with a bob of her head, eyebrows raised at the ridiculousness of it all.

“It’s hilarious,” Hizashi comments, and he’s already tucking into his food with full gusto. “I can’t believe you dated All Might for half a year and had no idea Shōta!”

It’s not his finest moment, Shōta admits, and he sits back in his seat, sighing.

“Hey, hey, hey,” Hizashi says, and Shōta feels his stomach drop. “You should come and do some special lessons at U.A.!”

“Shōta’s been to your workplace, it’s about time you came and watched him teach in return!” Nemuri adds, and Shōta closes his eyes. “We can talk to Nedzu and try to arrange something if you could.”

Toshinori laughs, and he sounds bright, happy. One of his hands reaches for Shōta’s, taking it gently and squeezing.

“Perhaps I will, though I’ll let Shōta organise that one,” he says, and Shōta ignores the smile Nemuri shoots Hizashi. She thinks she’s subtle, but Shōta knows her looks. This is the one that says Shōta’s found his happiness and he’s going to get married and adopt 200 cats and maybe even a kid one day .

The conversation drifts, and by the time they’re eating dessert, Toshinori brings them back around to their first topic of conversation.

“This old acquaintance of yours,” he says as they pile empty dishes back into the food hatches. “Did I hear correctly – she’s interviewing at my agency?”

Nemuri’s eyes widen, and she nods slowly, giving the name of the woman.

“And your assessment of her?” Toshinori asks, and Nemuri turns to Hizashi instead.

“You’d be better at filling Yagi-san in,” she says, and Hizashi leans forward, a toothpick in his mouth.

“I had the misfortune of working a case with her a few months ago. She’s still in the hero scene, could have a lot of potential if I’m honest, but her attitude is all wrong.” Hizashi takes the toothpick out. “We were supposed to watch each other’s backs and help civilians but she did neither. Someone got hurt, ended up in hospital.”

Toshinori nods slowly.

“Well. I can tell you now she’ll fail her interview,” he says brightly. “We’re not interested in that sort of person, let me just send an email now.”

Nemuri is shooting Shōta looks, as if she can’t believe this is happening, and Shōta gives her a smug smile. He’s sure they’re still processing the fact Toshinori is All Might, sure that they won’t really get it for a long while, but moments like this will help. They’ve all known the softer, quieter side for a long time, now they can all get to love the real Toshinori.

“You’ll love this too,” Toshinori says, and he hands his phone over to Nemuri, smiling. “It’s where we snuck off to on Monday.”

It’s probably a picture of him and Pork Mighty, Shōta thinks, and he lets them have it. Nemuri and Hizashi coo over it, ask whether this is The Pork Mighty, and Shōta feels a little victory in having met such a famous pig. It’s worth whatever embarrassing pose he’s pulling in Toshinori’s candid photo.

“It’ll take us some time to get used to it,” Hizashi says when they’re outside, peering at the drizzle outside of their small canopy. “But thank you for trusting us. And thank you for everything you’ve done for us all.”

Toshinori’s cheeks flush at the words and he brings his hands up in denial. Something shifts and Shōta knows he decides against denial, opening his arms to pull first Hizashi and then Nemuri into tight hugs. He pulls back sheepishly, and Shōta thinks Hizashi is on the path to tears.

“Next time you’re beefed up you should hug him,” Shōta suggests, and Hizashi sniffs.

“I’d like a hug too in that circumstance,” Nemuri says with a wink, and she cackles when Shōta glares at her. “I’m not here to steal your man, Shōta, even if he is Number One.”

There is a comfortable pause.

“But I agree. Thank you. Your secret is safe with us.” Nemuri says, and there is such warmth in her voice. Shōta is proud of them all, and if he was the crying sort, he knows he would be crying now. He’s lucky to have these people in his life, lucky that for all their mistakes and fumbles they are still in his life.

“I promised the Midnight Boys I’d meet them for drinks,” Nemuri announces, and Shōta knows she’s about to have a wild weekend.

“Tell us about it on Sunday, right?” Shōta says, and Nemuri winks dramatically. She’s off after that, sprinting out into the drizzle and hailing a taxi. Shōta has no doubt she’ll fix her makeup and potentially even change outfit in that taxi, and he spares a thought for the poor driver (probably) about to get an eyeful of Nemuri’s tits.

“Radio show for me,” Hizashi says, but he makes no move. He looks between Toshinori and Shōta, a wistful look on his face.

“We were worried about you guys,” he says, catching Shōta’s eye. “Like mother-and-father levels worried, which is never good if I’m thinking I’m Nemuri’s husband.” Hizashi shakes his hands, as if trying to rid himself of the thought.

“So Shōta, don’t screw this up. And Yagi-san, don’t forget to save yourself too, ya’know? There’s at least three people who want you happy and healthy.” Hizashi grins at that, and then he’s gone too, though the studio is an easy enough walk from here.

Their friends can be inappropriate, irritating dicks at times, but they are very, very good friends. Shōta takes Toshinori’s hand silently, staring out into the street as the rain begins to thicken, politely ignoring the couple of tears making their way down Toshinori’s cheeks.

There’s no need to move, not yet anyway, and Shōta tucks himself under one of Toshinori’s arms. The rain is calming, and he waits until Toshinori’s arm tightens around him, a kiss pressed to the crown of his head.

“Shall we go home?” Toshinori asks, and Shōta nods, leaning against Toshinori as they make their way to the train station. It doesn’t matter whose house they end up at, all that matters is it’s the two of them.

Home, together, sounds like the best idea.