They had a routine.
Hizashi wasn’t quite sure when it started. He’s pretty sure it was back when they first decided to room together post graduation, before their separate crushes had been revealed through fumbled, messy confessions and their lives were filled with nothing more than sleepless nights and restless days spent repeatedly trying to make a name for themselves as new pros. In all honesty, age and experience hadn’t changed those habits much. They both still barely slept, were almost constantly overworked, but at least they’d managed to find the time and courage to add some jewelry to their fingers and a mortgage to their shared expenses.
Back then, in their early twenties, he’d barely paid attention to it. He simply knew that when all the caffeine had finally drained from his system, and the crash was coming faster than his heavy limbs could stand, Shouta was always easy to find. When he just couldn’t shoulder the thought of slipping into sleep when people were out there still getting attacked on the streets, when his hero agency had sent him home, telling him “if you really want to keep this internship, you also have to keep your head,” but all it did was remind him he still had so much to improve , Shouta was there.
Time after time, he’d knock at his roommate’s bedroom door and be greeted with a grunt of acknowledgment. He’d push it open and step inside, shucking his jacket and gear and glasses, and crawl up onto the bed. He’d find his place beside his friend, trying not to think about how the few inches between them were still too much for him to bear, and sink into the pillow. Without a single word exchanged, Shouta’s lips would part and he’d begin to read aloud from the book in his hands. They weren’t particularly entertaining stories. There was never any adventure, always some sort of practical book or something to do with history or science. To Hizashi, they were incredibly boring texts.
They made his mind feel numb.
That was exactly what he needed in those moments, as Shouta’s soft voice recited line after line until Hizashi’s eyelids fell shut and his body finally, finally got to rest.
At the time, he’d simply assumed Shouta read before bed every night.
When they’d finally started dating, and sharing a bed became customary, he’d realized this practice wasn’t for Shouta at all.
It had always been for him.
Even at thirty, Hizashi sometimes couldn’t manage to get his mind to shut off long enough for some proper sleep, and after fifteen years in each other’s company, Hizashi supposes he shouldn’t be so surprised that Shouta could practically read his thoughts. Still, it was a little incredible when his husband just knew , and without prompting, would pull out one of those old books, turn to wherever they’d left off, and begin to read to the quiet room until Hizashi’s light snores peppered in between all the spoken text.
They’d never talked about it.
It was just one more thing that made Hizashi feel lucky, one more thing that made him look at Shouta and think the world doesn’t deserve you.
This week had been running them both thin, and Hizashi was beginning to feel that familiar itch, that constant static at the back of his mind that said, here comes another sleepless night . He knew Shouta would be digging around for some history book tonight, was almost planning on it, that is, until he entered the staff room and saw his husband’s head tucked into his arms, face down on his desk.
He shot a side glance at Midnight, but she wasn’t paying attention either, her own eyes closed as she pinched the bridge of her nose. It had been a difficult year, villain attack after villain attack, both inside and outside school grounds. The dorms, which each teacher took shifts supervising, were eating into personal time, as was the increasing criminal activity in every sector of the city. There had been a big practical exam for the first year hero courses today, most of the teachers involved in one way or another. Hizashi had gotten out of it due to the third years’ English final prep course he’d had to develop on the fly last week when it became all too clear some of the young U.A. graduates weren’t going to look very good on paper with their current test scores. Principle Nezu had not been pleased. They couldn’t very well call themselves the best school if their students were all flunking out.
Hizashi gives the staff room a once over. Practically every teacher in the room looked like they hadn’t seen sunlight or a proper meal in a year.
They all needed a break.
As he makes his way over to his husband, and his own desk beside the hunched over man, he knows there’s nothing he can do to help everyone in the room, but certainly, he could do something for Shouta.
Hizashi reaches a hand out, trailing a finger over Shouta’s shoulders, causing the other man to shiver. He sits down in his seat and that messy head of black hair starts to move, shifting until he sees Shouta’s tired eyes, a little more pink than usual, staring at him from between the loose strands. Hizashi brushes them away gently, Shouta’s eyes fluttering shut for a moment as he does so. Their marital status was no secret, though they certainly didn’t flaunt it, in the same way their coworkers didn’t get more than a peck on the lips from their partners when they came to drop something off or pick them up for lunch on occasion.
Shouta sighs when Hizashi pulls his hand back.
He opens his mouth and Shouta’s gaze shifts to it. He almost asks, long day ? It’s incredibly obvious it had been, so he thinks better of it, going instead with, “Just a little bit longer and we’re out here of here, babe.” He whispers the words, leaning in close.
Shouta’s eyelids slowly fall closed.
“I finished grading,” he mumbles out.
“Oh wow, good job!” Hizashi exclaims, genuinely surprised. His own work had been piling up relentlessly.
“Mhm…” Shouta hums. “Let me know when you’re done and we can go.”
Hizashi tilts his head, frowning in question. As if sensing the minute shifting of air around the blond’s body, Shouta answers without prompting, “I shifted some assignments around. Figured we could both use a break tonight.”
Hizashi’s frown deepens.
Of course Shouta was already twelve steps ahead of him. The other man probably ordered takeout and had a movie picked out for later too.
Pouting, Hizashi opens his desk drawer to bring out the grading he hadn’t finished yesterday. He sets the heavy folder down and flips it open. Shouta shuffles next to him and he turns to see his husband burrowing into his arms, getting a little comfier, settling in.
Hizashi looks back down at the tests.
Gritting his teeth, he shuts the folder and pushes out of his chair.
Shouta’s head lifts up immediately, an eyebrow raised when he turns to look at Hizashi.
“I’m ready, let’s go.”
“What? I thought you had more to do,” Shouta asks, looking down at the large stack of papers.
“It can wait.”
“ Can it? ”
Hizashi bites the inside of his cheek.
The kids were already failing, right? What was one more day not knowing if they improved on the last test?
“Yeah, yeah, it’s fine!” he answers, smacking on a grin and waving it off. “Come on! Let’s go before we both end up falling asleep here.”
Shouta looks like he very much doubts Hizashi’s answer, and rightfully so, but the scruff on his chin that is bordering on a light beard at this point, and the darker bags under his eyes, both win out over his desire to insist Hizashi complete his duties. The other man slowly rises, and Hizashi doesn’t miss the way his hand shakes a bit in the air before it meets the back of his chair when he pushes himself up.
He’s more exhausted than I thought, Hizashi frowns, watching carefully at how Shouta’s body bends to reach his bag. When the erasure hero turns back around, he makes sure a private, gentle smile is waiting for his husband.
Shouta returns it easily, despite his spent energy.
“Come on,” Hizashi says, tugging at his sleeve.
They tell their coworkers goodnight, wishing them luck on their various arduous tasks, and head home. They get a quick dinner from Lunch Rush in the cafeteria, neither really feeling like waiting for food or making their own, Shouta having not ordered takeout after all. Shouta sleeps against the passenger side mirror, letting out little grunts and mumbles every time the car stops and starts at stop lights and stop signs. It makes Hizashi wish they lived in a more rural area, so he could just let Shouta get some proper rest.
It’s alright, though, he has plans for that.
It was Shouta’s turn to be doted on, to be cared for. Hizashi did his best to keep his husband happy and healthy, but their work lives didn’t always leave a lot of room for extra indulgences. So they made time for them. They carved out spaces in their lives for one another even when time and responsibility fought them at every turn.
Because that’s what you do when you love someone.
Hizashi looks over at Shouta’s sagged frame, snoring quietly, and reaches out a hand, placing it on his husband’s leg for a moment, just above the knee, to stroke his thumb in a soothing circle.
That’s what you do, what Shouta had always done for him.
It was his turn.
When they get home, Hizashi jostles the other man awake and they make their way inside. They don’t say much, both going to the bedroom to get dressed down and wash off the day’s grime. Sometimes that was nothing more than a quick rinse to get off all the germs that seemed to follow teenagers around, and other times it was a more involved process, like when Shouta plans a demonstration for the hero course involving the faculty.
Thankfully, today was a fairly easy day for Hizashi, having missed the hero course activities, but while he was combing out his hair, Shouta let him know he’d be taking a longer bath tonight. Whether that was for sore joints, a few punches from one of the students he hadn’t quite been able to dodge, or just a desperate need for relaxation, Hizashi didn’t know.
When he’d gotten all the hairspray and gel out, though, he slipped into the tub with Shouta and rattled on about nothing, just to fill the silence, to see the way Shouta’s lips perked up with a delicate smile when Hizashi told him about some prank his intern had tried to pull this week.
The bath seems to seep some of the rigidness from Shouta’s body and Hizashi is happy to run his hands, draped in one of their puffy towels, over those scarred shoulders and have a content sigh fall from Shouta’s lips this time. When he moves the cloth away, he briefly kisses Shouta’s upper back, peeking out from behind his damp hair to stare at his husband’s eyes in the reflection of their mirror. Shouta’s upper cheeks are flushed from the warm bath water, his eyes drooping, blinking a little more than usual. It’s obvious he’s already on the verge of sleep.
Hizashi ushers him along into the bedroom and pulls out some comfy sweatpants for both of them. When Hizashi turns around, stretching his arms out above his head and popping his back, he sees Shouta reaching for one of the many books tucked away in the cubby beneath his nightstand.
Before the other man can take a seat on the bed, he says, “Wait!”
Shouta jumps a bit and turns to look at Hizashi, who is covering his mouth with his hands, realizing he’d sounded more frantic than what he’d intended.
“S-sorry,” he laughs out, lowering his hands. Shouta raises a brow, but otherwise doesn’t comment. “Can you...can you uh...go make us a snack?”
Shouta looks at the clock. It’s already past 9 PM.
“Just something little, you know? Maybe some tea? Something sweet?” Hizashi asks, tilting his chin down and jutting out his bottom lip.
Shouta relents, setting the book on the bed. “I think we might have some frozen mochi. Is that good enough?”
Hizashi smiles and nods, throwing his arms open in an arc, requesting a hug, which Shouta easily slips into. He’s pleased when he feels the other man’s scruff drag against his cheek before a kiss is placed there.
Shouta backs away and heads for the door and Hizashi waits only a few moments before jumping into action. He knows he doesn’t have much time. As quietly as possible, he walks out of the room and ducks into the guest room next door, pulling the many decorative pillows and large comforter off the bed. He drags the items back to their room, pausing briefly, a smaller pillow corner in his mouth, arms already stuffed full of the others, when he hears Shouta call out.
“Strawberry or green tea mochi?”
“What?” the voice gets louder and Hizashi panics, opening his mouth and letting the pillow drop.
“Green tea!” he shouts quickly.
The floor creaks around the corner and then he hears Shouta moving away.
Hizashi kicks the dropped pillow into their room and shuffles in with the rest, making sure to close the door behind him without making too much noise. Looking at his pile, though, he realizes he isn’t going to have enough time.
He opens the door and shouts, “Can you use the kettle to heat up the water? I think it tastes better than the microwave!”
He hears a grunt from the kitchen, probably Shouta rolling his eyes, but no further complaints. He takes this as an affirmative and quickly gets to work, pulling harshly at the edge of their comforter to free it from where it is tucked into the bottom of the bed.
Shouta barely manages to save the mochi before it falls to the ground, the plate he’d had resting on his forearm, two mugs in his hands, tipping precariously. He’s lucky he is standing by the counter, the soft little green desserts rolling onto the clean surface rather than the floor. He sets the mugs down and gathers them back onto the plate. Assessing the situation, and deciding he doesn’t particularly want to try holding two mugs of boiling hot tea in one hand and risk burns on an already stressful day, he rummages around in their cabinets until he finds the tray Hizashi had used a few anniversaries ago when he’d made Shouta breakfast in bed.
Speaking of, he hears a creak from their bedroom again.
He’s not sure what Hizashi is up to in there, the tea and desserts were an obvious excuse from the moment the words left the blond’s sheepish mouth, but Shouta was willing to play along. He wanted to see what Hizashi thought he was being so clever about. So he took his time making the drinks, letting the tea steep. He hadn’t even been considering using the microwave when Hizashi had insisted he didn’t.
Now, about twenty minutes have passed and he’s officially about of reasons to hang out in the kitchen.
He sets everything on the tray and starts slowly toward their bedroom, hoping he’d bought his husband enough time for whatever he had planned.
“Hizashi,” he says, raising his voice to be heard over the shuffling just beyond the door. “Let me in, my hands are full.”
“Just a sec!”
Shouta lets out a soft sigh and smiles down at the mochi. While he gravitated towards small, quiet displays of affection, Hizashi was one for large, impossible to miss ones. Shouta quite enjoyed their different styles of love.
He wouldn’t have married the man if he didn’t.
He waits patiently outside until the knob jostles and Hizashi’s face pokes out around the door. His face is a little pink, as if he’d been working hard, and more questions start popping up in Shouta’s mind.
“I uh...I thought we could do something a little different tonight,” Hizashi says.
With that, he steps away and pulls the door open, moving to the side to present the room to Shouta.
What he sees makes his eyes go wide and his mouth pop open.
Hizashi had always made the most of every minute, but this was unbelievable. In the brief moments Shouta had given him while preparing their snack in the kitchen, the blond had miraculously transformed their bedroom.
From the foot of the bed, Hizashi had draped several blankets over their desk chair, the computer chair from the office, a hamper, and what appeared to be one of the nightstands. The blankets were parted at the front. Inside were piles and piles of pillows, every single one from their bed, and all the little textured and patterned ones of every shape and size from the guest room next door.
The large, comfy looking pillow fort was not the most impressive part.
It was the thousands of sparkling, beautiful stars twirling over every inch of the hideaway and sneaking out from the cracks in the blankets to fill the surrounding walls and ceiling of their darkened room.
It was the well-used, dog eared, cracked binding copy of the History of Tool Crafting he’d read to Hizashi nearly every week when they’d first moved in together, sitting open to where he’d last left off among the pillows.
Shouta feels the tray in his hands shift and tears his eyes away from the twinkling scene to look down and see Hizashi’s hands gently sliding the food from his grasp. His gaze shifts up to his husband’s face, now covered in stars too, eyes brighter than he’d ever seen them, two little curved crescents as Hizashi beams at him.
Just like that, as Hizashi takes the burden from between his fingers the same way he takes so much else, the weight of the week is lifted.
“Hmm?” Hizashi questions as he brings the tray over to the fort and sets it inside. The mugs clink a bit, but otherwise nothing spills.
Shouta watches as his husband crawls in as well, settling among the pillows, picking up the book to pat the space next to him. On any other day, he might roll his eyes, tell Hizashi this is so unnecessary, put up some sort of grumpy fight just to concede and admit he loves it.
Tonight, though, it’s perfect.
It’s exactly what he needs.
It’s a tremendous gesture that has Shouta’s heart skipping happily in his chest.
He closes the bedroom, making the room a little darker, the stars a little brighter, and crouches down to slip beneath the blanket roof. He lies down beside Hizashi, careful not to hit the tray of food, and wriggles around until he’s comfortable, settling in and wrapping an arm around Hizashi’s shoulder, pulling the blond close against his side. Hizashi’s warmth feels wonderful against him, some part of his brain already beginning to clock out, thinking, you’re safe, you’re home.
He takes the book from Hizashi’s lap and opens it with the hand not slowly stroking its fingers up and down Hizashi’s waist. He leans into the other man and feels the blond snuggle in closer, turning onto his side a bit and throwing a leg over one of Shouta’s. Hizashi slips one of his arms behind the small of Shouta’s back and the other over his front, rubbing slowly over Shouta’s belly with his thumb. Every miniscule movement is relaxing, soothing, and after all the years of bringing out this book to calm Hizashi’s racing mind, to lull his lover to a proper rest, he thinks he might be the one dozing off a few minutes in this time.
Shouta turns to where they’d last left off, but pauses before he begins reading. Looking over at Hizashi and then leaning in to kiss his temple.
The blond smiles up at him.
“This is amazing, Zashi. Thank you.”
“Anytime, baby,” Hizashi says, then pushes up a bit to reach Shouta’s lips, pressing them together gently. When he pulls away, he whispers, “I love you.”
“I love you too,” Shouta answers.
Hizashi shifts positions, sitting up slightly and causing Shouta to sink lower against his side. He rests his head on the blond’s shoulder and feels the weight of Hizashi’s fall gently atop his. Finally, he looks down at the text on the page, it taking a few minutes to focus, his vision already getting blurry around the edges.
Yeah, he wasn’t going to last too long.
Still, he begins reading aloud, his own low, monotone voice feeling a thousand miles away in his ears. He hardly registers what he’s saying, feeling only the slow, consistent rise and fall of Hizashi’s chest against him, the dragging of his husband’s thumb along his waist.
He begins to think he could spend his whole life here, under these blankets and stars, Hizashi’s warmth seeping into his muscles and bones, and never once get tired of it.
This was all he could ever want.
The book starts to fall backwards in Shouta’s hands, the pages having not been turned even once, as his husband’s fingers begin to loosen their grip. Hizashi catches it before it falls, holding back a chuckle as he feels Shouta’s weight get a little heavier against his side as the other man falls asleep.
It had to be a record.
Shouta had read two and a half sentences.
Hizashi pulls the book from the other man’s hands, closing it and setting it aside while trying to keep as still as possible. He pulls one of the blankets he’d left in a pile next to him just for this purpose over their bodies. Shouta wriggles a bit, lying lower, and Hizashi sinks down with him.
Tonight, he’s not going to need some boring book to shove away all the worries of his work, all the nagging duties he’d left back at the school or his studio or agency.
No, he felt light and happy, his brain flooded with memories just like this.
Moments of perfect silence, with Shouta filling all the empty spaces, bringing him back down to Earth, chasing away all the responsibilities and fear and pain, and replacing them with something else.
He reminisces about all those little moments like this, beneath the stars in one way or another, replacing them with love, with peace, with rest.