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1. 'Red'

Aizawa's knuckles throbbed, he tightened his grip on the capture scarf. That punch he'd thrown was his sloppiest yet. It left his hand bruised and bloody from where he'd slammed it into Hizashi's glasses thoughtlessly.

He gritted his teeth, his eyes stung and his hair had long since burst right out of the hair band he'd tried to tie it up with.

In front of him Hizashi took a step back, still reeling from the hit. The red dusting Hizashi's face started to deepen. He'd stopped babbling on, instead a hoarse noise like he was breathing through punctured lungs trailed out on the tail-end of Aizawa's own ragged breaths.

Aizawa should go for another hit.

It was the perfect moment. All of his senses screamed to strike right as Hizashi took another step back- the other student's guard was down his hands flew up to protect his face, the heels of his boots just paces from the out-of-bounds line.

The crowd at the sports festival died to a hush, simmering down into a tense suspense. Pros and other students leaned forward in their seats to see what might happen next.

Aizawa had the strands of his scarf pulled out, As Hizashi took in another flimsy breath he hunched, tensed and ready to pounce.

Ready to end this fight.

But he stumbled as Hizashi's glasses clattered to the ground- the blood-orange glass cracked and the frame bent at the middle. Red eyes looked right back at him, as red as the blood dripping from Hizashi's nose. They were wide and scarlet, like the sun rising in the early morning. A calculating almost predatory appearance, pinned right on Aizawa.

The spirals tightened. Aizawa's hair fell, he blinked, and a bloody, red smile bloomed across Hizashi's face.

Hizashi took in a gulp of air- coughing like he'd just breathed in a glass full of saltwater.

Aizawa couldn't activate his quirk in time for Hizashi's shrill scream, “Yo, you fight dirty!”

The brunt of the attack knocked Aizawa back, but he only stumbled, reflexively slamming his hands over his ears. It was like trying to stand up against the winds of a typhoon.

The sports festival crowd roared back into action as the fight picked back up.

Hizashi coughed again as Aizawa glared at him. The cough was dry, barking, like he'd just been pulled from a riptide.

“I'm trying to win,” said Aizawa, almost breathless sweat making his hair cling to his face.

Hizashi's eyes lit up at Aizawa's word- like red lights at an intersection, halting Aizawa's thoughts for a moment.

This fight had gone on too long. Both of them sounded like they'd fought their entire respective classes instead of just one another.

Harried and devolving into impatience, Aizawa hadn't bothered fixing the capture scarf where it had slipped down over his shoulders.

What the hell made this kid so happy to get his ass kicked?

Aizawa reactivated his quirk and Hizashi fell back into a choked silence hands flying to his throat. Even choking, that smile smeared back over Hizashi's face. Aizawa’s expression melted into an annoyed scowl.

Practically snarling at that damn smile, Aizawa threw out his capture weapon. It wrapped around Hizashi's middle.

Nowhere near as practiced as he would be with the support item in the future, the strand he’d used snaked its way around the outside of the arm Aizawa had used to aim with. As it tightened it caused his arm to be pulled across his body, twisting his forearm. It was like the sharp tug on a fishing line. Some of the strands of the scarf that had snaked their way downwards cinched tight around his ribs and shoulders.

Hizashi took in a shaky, wet, breath, one arm stuck in the capture scarf the other trying to claw his way out of it. Tears formed at the edges of his large, red eyes. He tracked his gaze along the scarf strands between them. They landed on Aizawa who was squirming in the trap he'd tangled himself in.

Hizashi wrapped a hand around the strand between them a smirk tilted at the edge of his smile. He tugged like he was pulling a catch from the water. The line went even more taut.

Aizawa was forced to take a few bumbling steps forward. His arm was now at an awkward angle in front of him he couldn't raise his other hand to help correct it.

The strands tightened like a boa around Aizawa's upper chest and ribs. He pulled out with the arm stuck by his side- it only served to tighten the scarf more.

Aizawa blinked, fear trickled into his veins like the first ice over the surface of a lake.

Hizashi started laughing, a choked chuckle. But he didn't immediately use his quirk. He tugged sharper this time.

Aizawa fell, the crowd lit up again as he crawled to get back up. Bristling Aizawa bit out his next words, “Just end it,” he said.

Freed from erasure Hizashi just said, “I don't want to be thrown out of bounds with you.”

It was the quietest thing Aizawa had heard Hizashi say so far. “You’d just win anyway. So it doesn’t even matter,” said Aizawa spitting the words out like they were a hot brand on his tongue.

At the edge of the stage, the ref blew the whistle around their neck. They flashed a sign in the air above their head. The crowd kicked up a notch.

Aizawa snapped his head to look over at the ref.

The announcer box boomed to life cutting in over the noise of the crowd. “It seems things are a little tied up down there! And our match has almost reached the time limit. This'll be the first time in five years there's been a draw between year-1 students.”

“Yeah!” Screamed Hizashi, eyes wild and blood dripping from his nose onto his chin. His voice was angled just far enough upwards it wouldn’t send Aizawa flying right out of bounds.

Aizawa hissed, unable to cover his ears he flinched away.

“We're a little tied up!” Hizashi’s voice leaped and jumped at the edges as he tugged hard enough to send Aizawa twisting to the ground.

Captured by his own weapon, Aizawa was forced to look down at the ground, sweat dripping off his nose his breath hissing out of him as the scarf tightened around his ribs. “It's going to end in a tie,” said Aizawa. He shouted, probably a little too loud, but he could barely hear himself think.

“Do you get it?” asked Hizashi, his spiral eyes fixed on Aizawa still on the ground. He pulled at the scarf, “It's going to be a tied match!”

“Oi, what’s your deal? Just untie yourself,” Take the win already. “Why the hell are you playing with me?”

“I want a challenge,” said Hizashi. His voice was a little quieter, as if saying a secret out loud for the first time.

“How am I supposed to be a challenge like this?” said Aizawa, he couldn't pick himself back up.

One arm was pulled out towards Hizashi, the other held fast at his side. He was forced onto his knees, his face dragging against the rough ground of the stage. His head was turned so he could keep an eye on Hizashi, but he still needed to use his goddamn forehead like a brace to keep himself from being dragged across the stage. He felt like a lassoed hog at an American rodeo. This was certainly not how Aizawa planned to make his debut as a general studies student. Especially not as one who made it past the elimination rounds.

Hizashi pulled at the line.

Aizawa spoke before he could think, his voice coming out a little panicked. “Don’t pull anymore dammit!”

What the hell was Hizashi doing? He could just untie himself whenever he wanted to.

But even as the crowd started counting down with the announcer Hizashi just watched Aizawa. Not using his quirk, calmly holding the strand with one free hand. His red eyes the only thing Aizawa could focus on as the ref blew the final whistle.

The announcer’s voice washed over the arena, “And that brings an uneventful end to our match, folks!”

Hizashi let go of the scarf, easily twisting himself out of the end he'd been wrapped up in. He tossed the folds across the space between them. They landed near where Aizawa had slumped against the ground.

“Are you stupid?” asked Aizawa staring down at his capture weapon. He pushed the strands away from himself and over his head, backing his way out of it like squirming out of a too tight t-shirt.

“Oh, me?” asked Hizashi his voice a little hoarse.

“Yeah,” said Aizawa looking down as he gathered up the scarf. “You could've-” he said as he looked up, meaning to stand and stalk away- his plan was to get the fuck out of this situation as fast as possible.

Hizashi stood over him, hand out, red eyes up-close and so warm Aizawa felt like they could burn away any shred of pride he had left. Blood still dribbled out of Hizashi's nose. Hizashi used the sleeve of his shirt to wipe at it. The same nose Aizawa had shattered with his fist. And then he smiled extending his hand again- that ridiculous smile, like they hadn't just tried to throw each other out of bounds.

Like this wasn't a match with Aizawa's whole future on the line.

Aizawa pushed Hizashi’s hand away and stood up. As he walked past Hizashi, he said, “I don't need your help. Congrats, on your win or whatever.”

Hizashi started saying something, but it morphed into a coughing fit. Unable to catch his breath he didn't say what he wanted to before Aizawa made his escape.

The announcer’s voice slipped through the air. “Looks like one of our tie-ees is going to need medical attention before out next match!”

Some camera bots rushed past Aizawa with a stretcher.

Aizawa walked down the steps trailing off from the stage. The scarf bundled in his hand- whole body aching already-still stuck on that heaviness in Hizashi's eyes as the crowd had counted down.

Later, after he checked the support item back in at the Support Students kiosk, he went to sit in the stands wit the rest of his class. For the rest of the festival he couldn’t help but notice the angry, red blooming over his knuckles. Periodically, he glanced down throughout the final matches and wiggled his fingers. He turned over his hands, wrapped his fingers over the torn skin, and wondered if blood was always this red.

 

2. 'Orange'

 

It wasn't long after Aizawa’s transfer that he got the chance to spar with Hizashi again. For Aizawa this was the rematch he’d been itching for. It seemed for Hizashi, it was just a thrill. He even let out a breathless laugh as Aizawa whacked him in the face. Losing his balance, Hizashi fell on his ass. His glasses knocked off, and hands and legs trapped by his sides.

Aizawa’s hair fell as he deactivated his quirk, he pulled the swimming goggles up to his forehead so they no longer covered his eyes.

The match was over, the first one to fall lost. And this time Aizawa won.

Hizashi’s eyes were exposed again, just like they had been at the Sports Festival. At first, when he made eye contact with Aizawa after falling down, he glanced away as if something trapped in Aizawa's eyes had burnt him. He squirmed in the capture scarf before he met Aizawa’s intense stare again.

“You sure like to aim for the face!” said Hizashi, his voice hoarse, a cough following his words. He gestured with his foot towards the glasses on the training mat.

Aizawa,unimpressed, pulled with more force than necessary on the capture scarf. “You should’ve remembered that,” he said as Hizashi, wrapped up in it, flailed.

“Hey!” said Hizashi, flipping over from the force of the pull. Looking more like the sloppy catch of a streetside fisherman than Aizawa’s self-proclaimed rival.

“You let me win. I don’t like being needlessly underestimated, you could at least use your head when you fight me.”

“This isn’t the same as the Sports Festival,” said Hizashi, standing up and snatching up his glasses. He held the frames away from him, frowning at the cracked glass.

Putting them on a small smirk twitched at the edges of his lips, “I let you win then.”

Aizawa grit his teeth, his shoulders fell into a tense line, his hands clawed into fists at his side. “I didn’t even win. We shouldn’t have tied.”

Hizashi just shrugged as Aizawa tightened the strands of the scarf. He walked over to where they had sat their water bottles by the side of the mat.

Aizawa didn’t sit, his face was still twisted into the after-image of a scowl. And he was trying, as much as humanly possible, to make every motion as prickly as he could. Maybe then Hizashi wouldn’t invade his space, and his god damn thoughts, so easily.

Aizawa had one arm crossed over his body as he took a sip, staring forward instead of at Hizashi who plopped down at the edge of the mat to watch him.

Hizashi had taken his glasses off, and wiped at his forehead with the back of his hand. He sat back on the edge of the training mat. One leg splayed out in front of him the other crooked up. The glasses dangled casually from his hand as he bounced them up and down slightly.

He looked pretty damn content despite the red mark on his cheekbone, like a cat settling into its favorite lookout spot on the windowsill.

Aizawa didn’t give Hizashi eye contact he just concentrated on making it look like he was more invested in drinking than talking.

Hizashi tilted his head, with his short hair in that ridiculous style he looked more like a budgie. He tilted his head the other way then back again. He slid the glasses back over his eyes, seemingly not too concerned about the way the bent frame laid crooked across his nose.

Aizawa hunched his shoulders even more. If he didn’t look down then eventually Hizashi would just get bored and they'd end up back in the ring. That was all Aizawa wanted to do anyway.

He glanced down for half a second while the water bottle was at his lips and met faded red eyes- the orange glasses cracked like lightning across the spirals.

Hizashi grinned.

Aizawa quickly snapped his eyes up to look towards the gym entrance. A sigh trickled out of him, “Why’d you let me win?”

Hizashi’s smile grew, he was triumphant.

Aizawa practically felt the energy buzzing off Hizashi. He’d wanted to get Aizawa to talk since he’d agreed to train with him after class. But all Aizawa wanted to do was get from point A to throwing a punch in Hizashi’s smug face as fast as possible.

“Just answer me,” said Aizawa a growl at the edge of his words.

“You didn’t look away,” said Hizashi. And Aizawa had to practically strain to hear him. Leave it to Hizashi to bust out his ear drums and then start whispering below a reasonable pitch in the next second.

“You’re whispering,” said Aizawa.

“No, I’m not!” His voice jumped right back up again and Aizawa winced. It was either too little or too much. “I said,” and his voice dipped down after he dragged out the phrase. “You didn’t look away from me.”

“Why would I?” That was the single dumbest reason Aizawa had ever heard anyone deliberately throw a fight for, and it made his blood boil. “You don't look away from your opponent. That doesn't even make any sense.”

Hizashi pushed his glasses up with a knuckle he curled his legs up so he sat criss cross. Gaze a little lopsided from the glasses, he looked up at Aizawa, his eyes masked in orange and hands on his knees.

He took in a deep breath, and sighed. For a moment Aizawa could've sworn he was looking in a mirror - Hizashi wasn't the type to sigh.

“Most people look away,” said Hizashi.

“Well they’re just asking to get hurt then.” What kind of hero looks away from his opponent in the middle of a fight? Aizawa certainly couldn’t take that risk once he got his license.

“Most people look away,” said Hizashi. He fidgeted with his glasses, only making them more crooked. His shoulders slumped a little, he nervously rubbed a hand over the spiked edges of his hair. Some strands bent out of place, and in the half lighting the edges seemed to be traced in an orangish hue, like blooms of new rust.

“You don’t care though,” said Hizashi, taking his glasses off. He tapped at the glass, like his finger would magically seal up the crack across the orange lense. “That’s different.”

Aizawa gripped his water bottle tight. Something about the way Hizashi was holding himself made Aizawa’s skin crawl. “You’re being cryptic, I really don’t like talking to people who can’t be straight up with me.”

Hizashi just shrugged, “You want a rematch right?”

Hizashi was back on Aizawa’s wavelength. Aizawa sat his water bottle down and with one hand on his scarf he stepped back onto the training mat. At their feet a circle fashioned crudely out of tape ensnared the both of them.

Hizashi glasses were still in his hand when he leaped up to stand, putting all the flourish of a game show host into the movement.

“You’re really gonna wear those things?” asked Aizawa. “ All they do is break, it’d be more logical to just wear nothing- your quirk doesn’t even rely on your eyes.”

Hizashi slipped them on, cracked and all, a broken orange stare- his red eyes muted behind the glass. “Hey, better then you totally erasing your field of vision with those clunky things, Eraserhead!”

Aizawa had just been touching the goggles he’d perched on his forehead. A scowl twisted at his lips, and defiantly he placed them back over his eyes.

A smirk danced at the edges of Hizashi’s mouth. Aizawa held up a hand, “I get it, ha.”

“No enthusiasm at all!”

“If I was totally honest I have to say I’m not exactly thrilled for this.”

“Oi, afraid of a rematch?”

“Tch, no.”

“Don’t lie you know you can’t touch me I’m downright upward compatible.”

“You shouldn’t be so cocky in front of your opponent.”

Hizashi just winked, and it was like Aizawa’s body betrayed him, a smile leaping across his face as quick as a wildfire. He dipped his chin down so he could hide it behind his scarf.

“Are you smiling, Eraser?”

“No,” growled out Aizawa, his mouth tucked away. With his nose peeking over the thick capture scarf he looked like a gator drifting, and just barely concealed, as it watched the shoreline. “Be serious, whenever I erase your quirk you just about choke to death. The point of this was to challenge you so you couldn’t predict my quirk. But it’s pointless you’re not gonna run into erasure in your hero work.”

“What if I do?”

“Unlikely,” said Aizawa, huffing out the word like smoke and jamming his hands in his pockets.

“Unlikely is just another kind of likely,” said Hizashi. “If you’re so worried,” Aizawa didn’t like the way he dragged the word out. “Then don’t use it.”

“I changed my mind,” said Aizawa.

Hizashi nervously bared a smile in return, a hand at his neck as Aizawa adjusted the goggles on his eyes.

“Besides,” continued Aizawa. “You haven’t died yet. And what’s the whole point of this school anyway?”

“Plus Ultra!”

“Yeah,” said Aizawa, fixed on cracked orange glass. “Show me whatever that is- don’t hold back on me this time.”

 

3. 'Yellow'

 

There was always a lull before Lunch Rush. Every Thursday- an English lecture ended just a little too early, and not long after classroom chatter bubbled up from underneath the spare fifteen minutes.

Most everyone talked. And Aizawa, while he wasn't most everyone, listened. But this time he wasn't listening- he was five papers deep, his pen painstakingly dragging across the desk as he flipped the papers on his desk, one way and the other.

Totally immersed in drawing, Hizashi for once snuck up on him.

One second he was drawing- fleshing out an arm, filling in the sleeve of a black jumpsuit. And the next he was jolting back in his chair. He'd only glanced up for a second and he caught Hizashi practically perching over the side of his desk looking down at the paper.

Aizawa slid his arms over the paperwork covering it up.

“Is that your hero costume?”

“Yes,” said Aizawa, there was no point in lying- Hizashi was far from oblivious.

“You're gonna have to speak a little louder!”

“Yes,” said Aizawa again, a little louder, his words sharper. He almost glanced to see if the students around them had turned their attention towards them.

“Yo,” said Hizashi putting a hand up to his mouth, as if initiating a secret conversation. “You concerned people are eavesdropping?”

Aizawa leaned over towards Hizashi, still very much covering his costume design. Playing along, he dropped his voice. “It's not like your hand would stop anyone from hearing what we're saying.”

Aizawa darted his eyes from Hizashi's hand up to his curious, red eyes. Aizawa quirked an eyebrow, his expression barely changing overall, like it was anchored down by the lack of rebound sleep he desperately needed.

Hizashi took that as a cue. “Hey!” He dragged that word out just enough to be awkward when it died off.

People were definitely looking now.

“You're the one usually napping during this time!”

“Please,” mumbled Aizawa, closing his eyes and resting his head down on top of the paper on his desk. “Be quiet.”

“What're you working on your hero costume for? I thought you didn't care about that sort of thing?”

Aizawa cracked open an eye, still resting on his desk he only tilted his head to face Hizashi. Not bothering to try and sit upright he said, “Did you even hear me?”

Aizawa let his eyes slip shut for a moment when Hizashi didn't answer at first. This he learned quickly, was a mistake.

“Yeah!” Hizashi's voice ripped up the air like a koel just moments before dawn. Shrill and unwanted.

“I said, be quiet,” said Aizawa, hissing the words like a cat might spit out a warning.

“That's a bit of a hard request, listener!”

Aizawa turned his head back so he was face to face with the top of his desk. He curled his arms a little closer- like a turtle tucking into its shell. He mumbled into the papers and graphite smudges, “It's unbelievable. I think you've gotten louder since you got that DJ gig.”

Hizashi took the liberty to leap up, voice at the ready, fingers pointed in Aizawa's direction- his smile radiant and his bright, ridiculous hair only accented how loud he was.

If Aizawa had more energy he'd have pulled Hizashi back down in his seat by now. The best he could do was scowl and sigh. He'd lifted his head up, but still stooped over his desk, ready to duck down the second the worst of whatever this was, was over.

“Eraserhead: The Erasure Hero! He can erase your quirk using his eyes, but what he should really be stealing is some style, yo!”

“Alright!” Aizawa said as he shot up, sitting upright in his chair. His hands were curled into fists threatening to snap the pencil in his hand. He watched the front of the room.

Their English teacher waved a hand at the both of them to quiet down, not even glancing up from their phone as they stood at the podium. Quieter this time Aizawa said, “If I let you look at it, will you shut up?”

Hizashi slipped back into his seat, quiet now but buzzing with energy, his leg bouncing up and down as he leaned towards Aizawa. There was a bright smile on his face when Aizawa looked over at him, as if forgetting momentarily the silent gesture from the teacher Hizashi said, “Hell yeah!”

Hizashi was smart, but smart didn't mean he was great at self-regulation. A little softer, but still well above the minimum threshold of a whisper Hizashi said, “That's the spirit.”

As if unsure of what to do under Aizawa's gaze, Hizashi brushed his fingers over the short crest of his hair. Aizawa's eyes trailed up to it for a moment, then back down. Hizashi's smile had receded back to something more restrained.

Hizashi looked down, Aizawa moved his arms away for a moment.

Immediately Hizashi had some criticism. “You should add some color,” he said.

“Why would I add color? I told you, I don't want to be noticed.”

“Here,” Hizashi pointed towards the pencil in his Aizawa’s right hand. He made a grabbing gesture in the air. “Let me show you.”

Aizawa slid the papers together- neatly and so only the top was on display. It was just a general chart for shipping information among other tidbits. Nothing as exciting as the specs Aizawa had just hidden. He bundled the papers closer to him, covering them all with his arms again.

Hizashi pouted, and made a move to get a closer look, practically crouching in a ridiculous dance, half in and out of his seat.

“Nope,” said Aizawa, sliding the papers to the far side further away from Hizashi. “I let you look at it already. Seriously, I'm just going to put it away.”

“Come on, Eraser. You need to add color somewhere!” Hizashi leaned forward as his voice flew upwards like a bottle rocket suddenly shooting up into the sky. It made a sloppy end to his sentence.

Hizashi was trying to see more of the design, and Aizawa was keenly aware of this. Wherever Aizawa twisted to cover up the pages, Hizashi would go the opposite. Aizawa tried to match his movements. He gave up and picked up the pages off his desk, rolling it up he held it close and protective, pencil still in his hand.

“Stop,” said Aizawa, knowing his eyes had flared red by the choked smile and unsure tilt of eyebrows that flitted across Hizashi's face.

Hizashi sat back, relaxing and a little defeated, he pointed towards Aizawa, eyes narrowed behind their orange lenses. “I thought you said you were getting rid of those swimming goggles?”

“I am,” said Aizawa smoothing out the request forms back on his desk. “These are going to be different.”

He'd turned back to an item sketch page. Aizawa hadn't finished drawing out his supplementary items.

Hizashi wasn't actively trying to look, but he still piped up. “They look just as uncool.” He gave two dramatic thumbs down to accent his words.

Aizawa tapped his pencil eraser against the page. He turned it back over, hovered over the page, looked over to Hizashi, and then sighed. The tip of the pencil was still poised over the page when he said, “Well I'm not exactly good at this sort of thing.”

He was just being honest. The amount of time he’d put this off was testament to that fact. It was the threat of having the designer he'd chosen come up with something totally random that had spooked him into starting. Sometimes fear was his best motivator, and he dreaded letting some stranger come up with what he'd wear for the rest of his hero career based on his quirk and hero name alone.

“I don't care what I wear as long as it's functional,” said Aizawa, further hammering in his point. He started sketching again, tentatively, barely re-shaping the outline of the goggles.

Hizashi could've asked a million other questions- interrogated Aizawa on why someone who didn't care was putting in so much work, but he didn't. It seemed his focus lie elsewhere.

“Then why include lenses?” asked Hizashi.

“What?” asked Aizawa, voice practically dripping with that almost breathless absent mindedness. He'd finished buffing out his sketch. It was as good as it would get, albeit rough. His pencil and focus was now trained on the specs checklist adjacent to his first sketch.

It didn't take a genius to figure out he was checking black down the line for the color of every supplementary component. Maybe a gray here or there- but certainly overall a request for a lack of vitality.

“Oi, you're always on me about my glasses,” said Hizashi.

Aizawa glanced over at him for a moment, and saw Hizashi wiggle his glasses at him. He had one hand perched on a pointed corner. He was looking at Aizawa over the orange lenses. The glass was chipped as usual, and scrapes peeled away at the white coat of the frames

Aizawa stuttered to a stop. His pencil hesitated over the paper. He moved, just flinching it like he was about to leap back into writing. But he stopped altogether and sat the pencil down. He trapped it in place between his fingers, but now turned his full attention to Hizashi.

“Fine,” he said. “You seem to have a better idea. What is it?”

Hizashi pointed at the pencil. “Are you done?”

“Huh,” Aizawa pushed the pencil with his fingers. One way, then the other.

He calmly watched Hizashi. Hizashi hadn't gelled his hair up as neatly today, some of the yellow strands bent awry, curling down to touch his forehead. Hizashi leaned in closer, breaking Aizawa's focus. As he pointed Hizashi repeated his question, “Are you done? I can draw it for you.”

“Yeah,” said Aizawa and he held the pencil out towards Hizashi. “Whatever you want to do.”

Hizashi took that as a cue to practically snatch the papers right out from under Aizawa. He slapped them down onto his own desk having plucked the pencil out of Aizawa's control. He tapped the pencil against his desk. Tilting his head he scratched the eraser end against his temple- he paused. Red eyes glanced over to Aizawa, the pencil had drifted towards Hizashi's mouth.

“Chew on that and I'll never trust you again,” said Aizawa.

Hizashi let the pencil drop sticking his tongue out at Aizawa as he hovered it over the paper. Cocking his head like an owl might swivel to hear a mouse better he made a, “hm,” sound. Way too long and loud for Aizawa's liking.

Aizawa secretly wished he could somehow intensify rolling his eyes, just so it'd be a worthwhile action in response.

A smirk quirked at Hizashi’s, his expression slipped on something more serious- and he erased Aizawa's entire sketch.

“Thanks,” said Aizawa, crossing his arms and glowering at Hizashi's disrespect.

Hizashi hunched up his shoulders and stooped his eyebrows lower, it was almost comical seeing him try to scowl. “It was an illogical design,” he said, a rusty imitation of Aizawa, his voice dropping to a deep monotone.

When Hizashi finally started to sketch it was like he was channeling a different frequency. The tension in his legs and shoulders smoothed out like the still surface of a lake. He would occasionally twist or turn the paper, but other than that he was totally engrossed. Aizawa didn't speak, he hardly wanted to breathe too loudly if it meant disturbing the image in front of him.

Aizawa glanced down at Hizashi's desk. Hizashi's drawing was way better than his own. It made Aizawa a little hot under his uniform collar to watch him, embarrassment marching across his neck and up his face like little match-footed ants. Aizawa sketched like a goddamn toddler compared to Hizashi. How the fuck did Hizashi even learn to sketch? Not once had Aizawa seen Hizashi even doodle in class.

Hizashi lifted the pencil, he perched a hand on the papers, ready to turn it towards Aizawa. But he hesitated, pulled it closer to himself. “Okay,” He said, and slipped it back onto Aizawa's desk.

“I…” Aizawa stooped towards the paper scrunching his brows. “I don't hate it.”

“Aw, that seemed hard for you to say, Eraser!” Hizashi stretched one arm over the space between their desks, practically hanging out of his chair just to tap on the paper with the end of his pencil. “And look, no lenses. No broken glass, yeah!”

Hizashi was out of his own chair and crouched besides Aizawa's desk before Aizawa could protest. He dragged the papers a little closer and in the table next to the goggles sketch he checked a box and started writing.

Aizawa snatched the pencil from him. “What're you doing?” Defeated, Hizashi slipped back into his chair.

“Hey, come on!” said Hizashi, defending himself. “You need to take this lame design up a notch. I'm reccing you a color.”

“Sheesh,” he was way too persistent. “I'll just choose one then. The last thing I want is a randomized color that I'll have to wear on my face for the rest of my hero career.”

“Soooo, what's it going to be then?” Hizashi threw up his arms in anticipation, like he was ready to announce Aizawa's choice to the whole of UA.

“I don’t know,” said Aizawa, voice even and serious- his face resolute, like he'd already spent a long time pondering the question and came up truly answerless.

Hizashi's arms fell, he looked like he'd just accidentally celebrated a goal for the wrong team at a soccer game.

“How did you choose your-” Aizawa pointed towards Hizashi's arms with the pencil.

“It has to be meaningful,” said Hizashi.

Aizawa sighed, he set the pencil back down on his desk with a clack. “That doesn’t help.”

Hizashi spurred on by his need to be of some help, stood up to make his next point. “It’s like a reminder of why you’re doing this!” He flung his arms out gesturing to the classroom. He then tapped at the elbow of one of his arms, Aizawa cocked his head and just blinked. “Something upbeat,” He pumped a fist in the air, “and exciting a reference just for you.”

He sat back down, after his explanation the silence that followed was only further dragged out by the look on Aizawa’s face. Like Hizashi's words had flew right over Aizawa’s head- he was just getting a tired stare in return. “Just choose someone you admire. That’s what I did!” Hizashi’s voice leaped up, a little mismatched with his nonchalant shrug.

Aizawa blinked again, slow, his eyes closed like he’d just fallen asleep right there. He took in a breath one hand at the back of his neck. He opened his eyes and looked down at the space between his and Hizashi’s desk. Exhaustion dripped like sap at the uncertain edges of his words, “You chose the red for your costume... because you admire someone?”

Hizashi’s face went a little red, he laughed- a little too sharp- the heads of the other students snapped to look at them. One student with horns clasped a hand over on ear, a glare dancing across her expression.

Hizashi smiled, small, more like he was awkwardly baring his teeth. “Don’t get it twisted, Eraser,” he said waving his hands way too quick for Aizawa. Following the movement with his eyes almost made Aizawa want to give up and sleep just like he originally intended to. “It doesn't have to be just that. You make it sound like you have to love them. Just pick a certain hero!”

“Hm, I’m just going to go with black.” Aizawa checked the box off, and wrote the request next to the line.

“Whyyyyy?” asked Hizashi, obnoxiously dragging out the word.

Aizawa stood up, “I admire it.” He folded the request forms and slipped it into the pocket of his uniform. He didn’t exactly care if the forms were crumpled.

“Hey, leaving before the bell?”

“Lunch is in like 60 seconds, Yamada.”

“Yo, just say one minute!”

Aizawa scowled and crossed his arms. He was eager to get this over with and his request turned in. It was the last possible day he could’ve finished it, his homeroom teacher had said, “Any later and it will be impossible to get your costume expedited.”

Aizawa wanted to at least wear a hero costume like the rest of his classmates. It didn’t have to be anything grand, just something better than the UA gym uniform and his capture scarf.

“Hey, I have an idea!” said Hizashi as dismissal began. He dogged at Aizawa’s heels, following him out with the other students.

“I no longer need,” want, “your help.” They had both made it out to the hallway and he was already walking away in the opposite direction of the Lunch Rush crowd.

Hizashi couldn’t take a hint, so he shouted his suggestion at Aizawa’s back, regardless of if he was listening or not. “You should have the back of your hero costume say, ‘catch these claws’! Cause you like swiping for the face, yo!”

Aizawa tensed up, practically bristling, his hair lifted from his shoulders, his eyes blazing red. As he kept walking towards the computer room he thought, “I only like aiming for the face so you’ll shut up.” But he didn’t bother saying this outloud.

It didn’t take long for Aizawa to reach the computer room. He hesitated in the hallway, right before the open entrance. It would take just a second to drop it off, then he could sleep away his lunch break.

He fished the request forms out of his pocket. He was still holding the pencil. He looked down at it- then out towards the windows that ran along the hall. The computer room was on an outer edge of one of the main building’s wings. Outside, a flock of warblings had taken residence near where the forest surrounding UA met the gardens trailing along the campus walkways. They flitted back and forth, Aizawa couldn’t hear them, but he knew they were not known to be quiet.

They flashed courageous yellow bellies as he stepped closer to the window. They never touched the ground, as if the moment they did, they’d wilt. It was hard to imagine what they would look like with all their energy zapped right out through their clawed feet. They flew in a string from the trees to the flowering bushes, then moved back.

Yellow and vibrant- something familiar in the unabashed way they flared their wings, displayed their chests and flitted up into the air again, white-ringed eyes flashing in the late afternoon sun.

Something he admired.

He unfolded the request form, and used the window to erase what he’d written on the line next to the goggles. He paused, moved the paper he had braced against the window, and looked out to the warblings again.

He sighed and wrote yellow on the line.

The creation and shipment of his hero costume was successfully expedited. It was a little bit of special treatment, but Aizawa appreciated that his homeroom teacher wanted him to wear a costume like the rest of his class at their joint training session.

After they dressed out, Aizawa's classmates decked out in all manners of ridiculous and impractical attire, Hizashi approached him. Without hesitation, he honed in on Aizawa’s goggles that perched on Aizawa's forehead.

“Yellow,” he said, and Aizawa had never heard disbelief in Hizashi’s voice before. Hizashi quickly recovered though, that uncoordinated smile taking up his face as he asked, “You paying homage to Mighty Boy?”

“It's All Might,” Aizawa corrected Hizashi reflexively. And there were a million things he should've said instead of, “Sure, I guess.”

He couldn't help but stare at the way Hizashi’s hair seemed to catch fire in the sunlight as they walked to Ground Beta. The yellow vibrant and streaked with gold. He slipped his goggles over his eyes and dipped his chin down behind the folds of his scarf. Hiding the smile that possessed his face as he walked side by side with Hizashi.

It wasn’t long before Hizashi started to point out the students from the B hero course.

“Giving me an advantage by explaining their quirks, huh?” asked Aizawa, by the time Hizashi had practically gone over every student’s quirk.

Hizashi turned pointing his fingers at Aizawa he said, “I'm just leveling you with us, listener.” His smile didn't fade even as they continued walking side by side. Hizashi radiant and yellow, and Aizawa his shadow.

Chapter Text

4. Green

 

Aizawa’s phone pinged, a short, automated tone he never bothered to personalize. He whipped his phone around in his hands so fast that the intern, leaning against the side of the building opposite to him, gave Aizawa a strange look.

It was just Emi, he swiped the notification away without even opening the email.

The intern tried to talk to him again. Aizawa didn’t respond- this intern was really useless they didn’t even have an access key to Musutafu FM, the least they could have done was get inside and set up the studio room before Hizashi got there. Aizawa would prefer that, now without access and a late host, they were going to barrel right into the regular showtime with absolutely no plan.

Thankfully, Hizashi would do most of the talking… at least once he was here. And what was the point of this intern then? The fact that Hizashi had an intern for his small presence as a radio show host was impressive. And more than likely this was a testament to the effects of not just being a Pro Hero, but a public one.

“He’s not usually late,” said the intern.

“I know,” said Aizawa, before checking his texts again. There was nothing on Hizashi’s end, just Aizawa’s own texts. The most recent one he sent taunted him from the screen, in clean symbols it read, “Are you okay?”

There really should be an option to delete a text from another person's phone after it was sent. The texts Aizawa had sent before it were no better, maybe a little less desperate- but still littered with pointless updates on Aizawa’s end.

Did he really need to tell Hizashi he was going to wear something nice? Like twice. He was honestly just hoping Hizashi would answer at least those messages- but based on the rolodex of emails with no responses, it hadn't worked.

Aizawa was stuck on a message he’d sent three hours ago that read, “Patrolling early, I’ll make it,” when his phone pinged again.

It was from Hizashi, “Here,” was all it said. No explanation, no apology- so curt it could’ve been ghost-written by Aizawa himself.

The intern pushed up from the wall, dusting themselves off- Aizawa raised an eyebrow and followed their gaze to Hizashi- his leather backpack was in one hand held by his side, a rolled up poster in the other. As Aizawa stood up from his stiff-legged crouch, he noticed how sloppy Hizashi looked. Like he’d gotten dressed in the dark with one hand tied behind his back. Hizashi gave him a small smile, his shoulders stooped a little- he was clearly embarrassed at looking worse than Aizawa on a bad day. His hair was an absolute mess- it looked like he'd torn a comb through it when it was spiked up, and now lay in clumpy, stiff sections- sticking in odd directions- half of it secured with a hair band.

“Hey,” said Hizashi his voice cracked. Hizashi's green eyes went a little wide behind his plain glasses hand he brought the backpack in front of his knees, almost as if shielding himself. “You dressed up,” he said, voice falling back to normal, but still rusty around the edges.

“Yeah,” said Aizawa, watching Hizashi balance the poster under his arm as he fished for the access key in his pocket. The intern grabbed for the poster- Aizawa put a hand on the back of his neck and said, “It’s not a big deal.”

Hizashi nodded to the intern, and flashed a smile in Aizawa’s direction- the access key held proudly in his hand. It was late out- the lighting outside the station not the greatest, but as Hizashi titled his head just right, Aizawa could see the band aids slapped onto his face. The uncovered cuts twisted as Hizashi spoke, “It’s a radio show. Could’ve just shown up in your pajamas, Eraser.”

“I knew that,” said Aizawa as Hizashi swiped the key card to open the station door for them.

“Well I appreciate you dressing up just for me,” said Hizashi, passing the door off to his intern, and shooting a wink back at Aizawa.

Aizawa hated that he had to walk by the intern red-faced and seething. The intern’s lips curled up, and Aizawa shot him a glare- it extinguished instantly.

As soon as they had reached the studio used for ‘Put Your Hands Up Radio’, Hizashi dumped his stuff on the nearest chair outside the recording room. Hizashi seemed distracted a little harried, and when the intern flicked the lights on Aizawa could clearly see what must’ve made Hizashi so late.

Hizashi’s hands were covered in cuts- and they were shaking, loose, not the usual way they were chock full of energy. Less fluid, like little strings guided him through each movement. He fumbled to unroll the poster before holding it in front of him proudly- blood smeared across his face from a cut on his eyebrow. Was that glass in his hair? “Check it out,” he said through a split lip, grinning like it didn’t even phase him- “It’s cool,” his voice cracked leaping up, only to be swallowed up by the soundproofing. He cleared his throat again, his voice trailed back out in a hoarse question, “Right?”

“You sure you can host tonight sounding like that?” asked Aizawa, his tone a little sour. A question burned on his tongue, shouldering away all other thoughts, when Hizashi met his eyes. But when some blood from Hizashi’s fingers trickled onto the poster it shattered his question, and a new one took its place. “You look like shit. What happened?”

“I can take over the show,” said the intern. “We don’t have a lot of time before it starts.”

“No one cares about the god damn show,” said Aizawa slipping the poster out of Hizashi’s hands.

“Yo, it’s not a big deal,” said Hizashi, his spiral eyes a little loose behind the clear lenses of his glasses.

“Hizashi…” said Aizawa, laying the poster over the back of the chair.

“Yeah?” said Hizashi, his eyes still distant, he wasn’t looking directly at Aizawa, even when he was making eye contact. His eyes were glassy, the same as when he’d already had one too many large beers on a Saturday night. Hizashi lacked common sense sometimes, but drinking on patrol was dangerous and Hizashi was overall as smart as a whip- he knew not to risk being totally vigilante. So intoxication was out of the question, but something had caused him to become hurt and possibly lose focus while on a regular patrol.

“What happened?” asked Aizawa.

Hizashi’s face turned red, then the color deepened, like he was holding his breath, his eyes wide. Finally, he took in a breath and said, “I...can’t.”

“Stop being stupid, you look like you were thrown through a window.”

The color drained from Hizashi’s face, and Aizawa grabbed Hizashi by his arms. Just a soft hold, nothing pressing- only grounding. “Don’t hold your breath like that.”

Hizashi just half nodded his head, the movement stuttered, changing course until he was shaking his head back and forth. His eyebrows twisted down like he couldn’t quite piece together what his body was doing.

“Starts in two,” said the intern, their voice trickled in, and Aizawa was prepared to turn on them and tell them to leave. But as he snapped his head around- Hizashi spoke up.

“Let’s get this show on the road,” said Hizashi, face brightening up again- no longer an absent tug at the edges of his mouth. He looked at Aizawa who quickly let go of Hizashi’s arms- and took a step back, unable to meet Hizashi’s eyes for a second.

Hizashi started rolling up the poster. He was a little slow to get it rolled all the way up, his hands not quite obeying him.

As Hizashi pushed the end in so it would be rolled up evenly, Aizawa asked, “Wait, it’s a radio show right?”

“Duh,” said Hizashi, pushing the poster out of the way and grabbing for the headphones in his backpack. “That’s an unusually stupid question for you, Eraser.”

As he pulled them up to settle them around his neck, Aizawa said, “Get your first aid kit out.”

“Okay,” said Hizashi, way too quick for Aizawa’s liking, his voice robotic and flat. In that moment a shiver went down Aizawa’s spine- like little fire ants nipping down his back- the same feeling he might get when (armed with only his quirk and scarf) he was face to face with the barrel of a gun.

Hizashi took out the kit and held it, he was still hunched over the backpack, like he’d reach the end of a program- and needed more of a script to piece together another movement.

Aizawa just touched the corner of the first aid kit, and Hizashi looked at him and pushed the kit into his hands.

Hizashi straightened up, and it still threw Aizawa for a loop how they were practically the same height now. He’d been accustomed to looking up at Hizashi all of highschool- now he didn’t even have to strain to see the glass jammed into his hairline and roots.

Aizawa’s hands tightened on the first aid kit. “Let me patch you up,” said Aizawa, his voice a little quiet, like this was more than just him asking to help. “While you speak or whatever, just enough so you don’t bleed all over the studio.”

“That means you’re on the soundboard,” said Hizashi pointing to the intern.

The intern nodded.

“So,” said Hizashi, fishing out his access key- he swiped it through the pad next to the recording room’s door. He held the access key out to the intern who grabbed it before going back to the soundboard. “Have any experience at being a radio show host, Eraser?”

“I thought you were the host?” Aizawa ducked into the recording room after Hizashi.

“You’re not just my nurse for the night, you’re also a guest on my show.”

“I have no experience,” said Aizawa, matter-of-factly as he sat at the small table, across from Mic’s set-up.

“Perfect, that’s how I like ‘em.”

There wasn’t much talking- which was great for Aizawa. Non-stop music on Friday nights was Hizashi’s thing, but it didn’t mean he didn’t talk at all. He did, and of course there was an intro to the show, which Aizawa immediately messed up.

When Hizashi introduced him all Aizawa did was bow his head slightly. His mouth opened slightly, frozen on the edge of a phrase- he realized a beat too late this was a radio show. But Aizawa's correction caught in his throat when Hizashi flashed him a wicked smile from behind his own mic. Aizawa knew it was coming before Hizashi said it. So in the middle of Hizashi further introducing him as this night’s, “Scaredy Cat,” He made sure to press alcohol into an open cut on Hizashi’s finger.

Much of the of the broadcast was uneventful- mostly lining up calls, or taking calls in the interim as Hizashi carefully controlled his voice, despite Aizawa fishing glass out of his arms. They’d really have to clean up the table before they left, it was littered in bloody glass and band aids Aizawa had stripped off Hizashi.

It was near the halfway point that Hizashi started to change. He’d pretty much pushed himself as far from Aizawa as he could. Aizawa claimed it as a small victory that Hizashi let him help as much as he did. At least his hands and arms looked a little more cleaned up, but Aizawa knew full well that was a small portion of the total damage. He was in the middle of broadcasting a request call. It was from some kid with an overeager voice. They sounded far too young to be pushing two in the morning, but the time didn’t seem to take a hit at their energy.

Hizashi’s voice kept stopping and drowning into a whisper as he tried to keep up with the kid, thanking him for being a fan of Present Mic. Aizawa leaned closer to his microphone, he hadn’t used it all- a silent guest for the night. But he was prepared to cut in.

Hizashi winced as he stuttered over his words, his eyes flicked to Aizawa, then he looked back down at the iPad he had in front of him- electronically keeping track of requests for his intern to line-up. He danced a little in his seat, like he’d been doing for the past hour and a half- his arm gravitated to holding himself across the middle as he thanked the listener for his request.

“Hey, young listener,” Hizashi paused, face scrunching up in concentration, he’s starting to sound a little breathless- Aizawa can see the sweat beading on Hizashi’s forehead. “Thanks for your request, and your love of Present Mic- your request is in, don’t forget to put your hands up when you hear it!”

“End the show,” said Aizawa as soon as the music took over the station again.

“What?” said Hizashi, “Why would we do that?”

“You look like you’re going to pass out.” Aizawa stood up and leaned over the table to knock on the glass separating them from the rest of the studio room. “Hey,” said Aizawa, waving a hand.

“He can’t hear you,” said Hizashi, scrolling mindlessly on the iPad, as if he was trying to play everything off.

Aizawa knocked again and made a beckoning motion. The door opened a moment later the intern poked in- “Everything okay?” he asked.

“End the show,” said Aizawa.

“Why?” asked the intern.

“That’s what I was asking!” Hizashi’s voice cracked at the end.

“I’m taking you home,” said Aizawa.

“What?” asked Hizashi, offense dancing in the question.

“Alright,” said the intern, “I can interrupt the music and we’ll transition to an early sign-off.”

“Do you work for him?” asked Hizashi, leaning over the table, a hand pointed at Aizawa as he glared at the intern.

“No, but I agree with him,” said the intern. “Sorry, Mic.”

The intern left and Hizashi crossed his arms. He sounded like the oxygen in the room had been cut to half- breaths fast and cut-up. When he spoke next, his shoulders twitched as if he was trying to stop himself from shaking. “Fine, you want to end it- you can do the sign-off.”

“Alrighty,” said Aizawa, packing up the first aid supplies in the little plastic kit. He’d make sure to swipe the junk on the table into a trash can before they left.

Hizashi was quiet, Aizawa looked up at him. He was definitely shaking, he looked less like he was in a comfortable, room temperature studio, and more like he was on a train platform at the height of a Hokkaido winter.

Hizashi pursed his lips, watching Aizawa, he synched his arms a little tighter around himself. Leveling his gaze, he twisted around his own microphone to tilt his head as if questioning Aizawa's ability to do this right. It was cockiness, an unfortunate symptom of underestimating an opponent, something Aizawa hadn't trained out of Hizashi yet.

Hizashi didn't know Aizawa's past, at least not enough of it to really matter. They were close but not that close. And while Aizawa often ranted, full on pontificating high-horse rants, about how much he hated public figures, and spin doctors, and the cesspool that blathered what some might call the news- he'd spent his childhood years, young and growing up unhappy in the countryside. His escape had been radio shows. He'd climb up to his roof- the night air littered with fireflies, knowing if he was caught, whatever punishment came his way would be worth what his old handheld radio could offer. He never had headphones just dialed it up barely loud enough, and held it close to one ear- listening as nightbirds’ songs bubbled up from below. He'd lose sleep just to hear the show hosts on Tokyo FM- sometimes an AM voice would bounce in, touchdown all smooth and sultry and charming. And Aizawa was charmed- charmed enough to listen to it every night like a ritual. So, he knew all too well what a host sounded like- could still hear it humming in the background of his mind- the buzz of evening cicadas framing it.

Aizawa smirked at Hizashi. Hizashi's own cocky grin wavered, as the music cut off- bleeding into his transition. Aizawa's heart kicked up a notch, beating fast like he was a teen about to ask their crush out- it was unbelievable that impressing Hizashi here, as the other man bled out, sickly and pale across from him, mattered so much to him. Guess he had always had a thing for radio show hosts.

Hizashi was closed mouth as Aizawa started the sign-off- Hizashi’s spiral eyes narrowed as he tried to hide a particularly wet cough as it bubbled up deep in his chest.

“Hey there, listeners,” said Aizawa, a little quieter than he intended at first. Hizashi's mouth twitched up- as if he'd caught Aizawa. Aizawa kept his voice even, channeling it a little deeper in his chest. As smooth and deep as black silk- “I'm your non-talkative host, Scaredy Cat, patching in with an unfortunate message, it seems your navigators for the night are going to have to sign-off. We'll leave you with one last song as a send-off. Put your hands up on this last one.”

There was a knock on the glass immediately after Aizawa awkwardly backed away from the mic. Aizawa had played plenty of characters even in his budding hero career, undercover work was his specialty after all.

“I think I'm into it,” said Hizashi as soon as it was safe to talk. His eyes went wide, his face turning so red he looked ridiculous. “Uh,” he said, “I meant, you should be a guest host on my show more regularly.”

“I prefer listening,” said Aizawa, expression unphased, even as Hizashi struggled to recover from what he just said. He stood up, Hizashi watching him, face so red Aizawa was legitimately concerned the man was suffering from a particularly horrible fever. “We need to get you home,” said Aizawa. He made to go around the table to help Hizashi.

Hizashi shot up- holding the iPad to his chest, eyes wide like Aizawa had just threatened to come at him with a cattle prod. Aizawa backed off. “I can get myself home,” said Hizashi, before he swayed where he stood. He slammed one hand down onto the table to catch himself.

Holding the first aid kit in his hand, Aizawa said, “Sure, walk yourself home when you can barely even stand upright.”

Aizawa ended up helping Hizashi out of the room. Hizashi's legs had lost all their adult certainty, he walked like a newborn lamb. The whole time Aizawa was pressed up against his side one arm around him, he could tell Hizashi’s breaths kept stopping and then starting- he might have a cracked rib or two. He would need to be more careful. He couldn't tell if Hizashi was in pain as he let Hizashi go to grab his backpack since he couldn't get a good reading on Hizashi's face, the man wouldn't look at him.

Hizashi didn't sling his backpack over his shoulder, he held it in his hand again and let it hang by his side. A suspicion crawled its way into Aizawa's head- he'd need to get Hizashi's back checked, preferably at a hospital.

“I should take you to a hospital,” said Aizawa, handing the first aid kit over to Hizashi so he could put it in his backpack.

“No!” said Hizashi, voice notching up so fast and uncontrolled both the intern and Aizawa slammed their hands over their ears. Reflexively, Aizawa activated his quirk, it felt like tiny hooks clawing at his eyes, his hair pushing out of its neat bun- the hair band snapped. His hair drifted back down, letting Hizashi free so the man could gasp for air, his hair fell to his shoulders.

“You need to go,” said Aizawa, one hand on his ear- a ringing kicked up on the edge of his thoughts. “If this happened on a patrol and you haven't gotten looked at yet, you could end up in a lot worse shape.”

“I don't know if that's-” started the intern, but stopped as soon as Aizawa flashed him a red-eyed stare.

“I can't… I can't,” Hizashi said, voice dripping into a whisper, out here the light just hit Hizashi's neck right. Red marks littered across his throat where the headphones didn't cover it. They snaked around his neck and ate up the scar tissue over his Adam's apple- “I just can't,... you understand, please.” Aizawa didn't like the way it sounded like Hizashi was begging.

“Okay, let me just,” said Aizawa mentally running through his options- he needed to gauge Hizashi’s reaction carefully. “How about the police, a clinic, a drugstore?” Anything?

Hizashi shook his head to all of them- Aizawa wasn't about to drag a man with a quirk that could blow out the windows of an entire block into any of those places. Just their mere mention made it seem like Aizawai had just asked Hizashi if he'd rather eat coals or take a bullet to the foot. Even if Aizawa forced him to go, he would have to erase Hizashi's quirk long enough to get him properly looked at- and by then Hizashi would be dead from asphyxiation. It had been awhile since Aizawa last erased Hizashi’s quirk, but judging from his reaction- erasure still had the same effect on Hizashi.

He was trapped. There was one solution. “Can I- look,” he took in a breath- there was nothing he wanted to do more than sleep- just because he patrolled nights didn't mean he was off from work in the mornings. Paper work in all its unglamorous glory existed for every hero. But he needed to help Hizashi- he shouldn't let him go home alone. Not right now. “Let me walk you home, I'll stay for a bit- see what I can do then make sure you're okay before I leave.”

Hizashi nodded, but just like earlier it turned into a silent no. His mouth morphed into a grimace, his grip on his backpack becoming white-knuckled.

Aizawa looked over to the intern- they had their hands in their pockets and looked between the two of them. The intern shrugged, “Don't worry bout it, I can close up-” They gestured with a nod of their head towards the recording room. “And clean up too.”

Hisashi held the backpack up at his stomach his arms wrapped around it. “Can you hang up my poster? I got it designed for this place and everything, man. Sucks to let this night ruin it, ya know?”

The intern bowed their head.

*

Getting Hizashi home was tricky. He lived just a little southeast of FM Musutafu station- closer to Dagobah beach. They ended up taking a taxi, the trains wouldn't be back up until 5 am- Aizawa didn’t want to wait that long and Hizashi couldn't.

Hizashi fell asleep after he said he'd pay for the fare his eyes glassy again. He was clammy with sweat as he slumped against Aizawa. When Aizawa woke him up once they reached their destination he didn't remember his promise to cover the fare. It was so unlike Hizashi that Aizawa pushed the wrinkled yen into the driver's hands fast enough it could've been lit firecrackers he was passing over.

He hauled Hizashi towards his complex. It was certainly something nicer than Aizawa could afford. Well lit- a little bit less stray cats than Aizawa would want. But it smelt nice, clean and swathed in ocean salt, Dagobah beach was only just a block or two away. There was a homely sort of feel to the apartments- tightly packed and just a bit too tall, like everything in Musutafu, but pleasantly colorful. And clean, like the few people who lived here gave a damn. It certainly wasn't the tightly packed, cell-block towers of Aizawa's place.

“Hey, which floor?” asked Aizawa. He could just guess, their were only two floors to the green complex, however it was more practical to ask.

“Here I'll just lead you to it,” said Hizashi, picking up his pace a little.

“Alright,” said Aizawa, letting Hizashi guide him as he kept two supportive hands on Hizashi. One at his chest the other at his back.

Hizashi pulled Aizawa towards the doorway on the first floor- the farthest to the right, the staircase to the second floor all the way to the opposite side of the building. Must be nice not to hear people clambering up and down the steps all night.

As soon as they were inside, shoes kicked off (Aizawa helped Hizashi untie his), Hizashi fell onto the couch. His place was a mansion compared to Aizawa's. The vibe of it part modern, and part traditional.

Hizashi smiled up at Aizawa from the couch.

Aizawa scowled down at him. Hizashi squirmed, wincing when he moved at just the wrong angle, he lazily spread his legs slumped against the sofa back, practically hanging off the cushions. “Damn, Eraser,” he said, voice still raspy like he'd gargled nails. “Is this what it takes to bring a guy like you home?”

“Not funny,” said Aizawa.

Hizashi went to speak, but jolted upright, hissing as he did. “Fuck,” the words slid out of his mouth and he held a hand to his side. His posture slumped a little, “Everything hurts.”

“Yeah, I know,” said Aizawa. “Come on,” Aizawa hooked his hands under Hizashi's shoulders to help him stand up. They hadn't even turned on the lights, they just stumbled in the dark using the night lights Hizashi had set up to guide them.

Damn, with such a big place the designers could've left some room for the bathroom. Aizawa swiped a hand at the light- he was practically standing toe to toe with Hizashi, Aizawa having cornered him so that Hizashi could lean up against the sink- the back of Aizawa’s heels just a pace away from the shower. Hizashi stretched his legs out, crossing his arms as he leaned back against the counter, not making eye contact with Aizawa, instead looking at the sliver of tile floor between them.

Hizashi looked horrible, to put it simply. Aizawa was the champion of dark eye circles- but here, in the glow of chipped mirror lights, Hizashi looked like he'd accumulated negative sleep in the past 24 hours. One of his eyes was all over red, swirling strangely with his green iris. Seeing it made a question burn itself at the tip of Aizawa's tongue again, but he caught a glimpse of the back of Hizashi's crumpled yellow shirt in the cracked mirror and it fizzled away- replaced by a more pressing thought. To help. And make sure Hizashi was okay even if Aizawa’s eyes stung. A heavy sleepiness itched over his lids- his side ached from where he took a kick to the side during a mission with Emi earlier that day. He'd give anything to just curl up and sleep all his aches off, but this was his job now. More than that this was a choice he hadn't just make, but needed to properly live. He couldn't walk away from anyone hurt like this, especially not Hizashi.

“Alright,” said Aizawa, pulling his hair up into a bun as he spoke. Aizawa paused, and Hizashi pulled a hair band off his wrist to hand over. “Pull your shirt up, or take it off, it doesn't matter,” said Aizawa as he secured his hair.

“Coulda treated me to dinner-” Aizawa didn't even take a beat of hesitation he grabbed at the middle of Hizashi's wrinkled dress shirt, and started to pull it up from where Hizashi had haphazardly tucked it in. “Yo, eager much! Let a man undress himself,” said Hizashi- pink ghosting across his nose, hands already working at the buttons.

Aizawa let go, his hands up, “Hurry up- you're practically bleeding through it.”

Once his shirt was off Hizashi held it bundled up in front of him- he rubbed a thumb at where it was dotted with blood, looking down at it his lips downturned and eyebrows scrunched together.

Aizawa could see some of the damage in the mirror, but he needed a better view. “Turn around,” said Aizawa gently taking the shirt.

“That was my favorite,” said Hizashi, handing it over still not turning around crossing his arms like that would cover him up. And frankly, the bruise across Hizashi's ribs alone gripped Aizawa's heart in a tightening vice. It looked like a python had wrapped itself around Hizashi and squeezed.

“Buy a new one,” said Aizawa, dropping it onto the tile in front of the toilet.

Hizashi pouted, looking at it for a second, “It's just not the same, yo.”

Hizashi rolled his eyes at Aizawa's insistent ‘turn around’ hand gesture. Arms still crossed, Hizashi turned around.

“You forgot something,” said Aizawa, hooking his fingers under the headphones around Hizashi's neck and tugging just a little bit under the headband- the garish word ‘Hage’ practically glared back at Aizawa. Hizashi tensed up flinching at the action, his brow scrunched up his lip curling in an after-image of a grimace- he didn’t look at Aizawa, instead he looked down at the sink, leaning forward. Aizawa carefully trailed his hands around to the front of the headphones, so that he could pry them apart and slip them off without hurting Hizashi.

“Careful,” said Hizashi, making eye contact with Aizawa in the cracked mirror.

“Yeah, I won't hurt them,” said Aizawa, setting the headphones down gently on top of the shirt.

“How-,” said Hizashi, and his shoulders twitched as he took off his plain glasses setting them on the sink counter. He seemed fine until now- it was like he suddenly stopped being able to hold himself together, a sheen of sweat flashed across his shoulders and forehead as Aizawa stepped back behind Hizashi. He noted the hitching way Hizashi had started breathing again. “How bad is it?” asked Hizashi.

It was bad- bad enough to make Aizawa curl one hand by his side- as if he was prepared to smash it into whoever did this. Hizashi’s back wasn’t littered in glass like he’d suspected. There was a clear divide where Hizashi’s cropped leather jacket had protected him. His neck was littered in fresh cuts- gashes and glass pieces jutted out of the abused skin. Whipped across his lower back a similar pattern emerged- blood pooled in the gashes there- the cuts a little deeper. Ensnared around his entire back were bruises like pockmarks. A cut sliced across the middle of Hizashi’s back- shallow, thankfully- but jagged. Like rows of tiny uneven teeth had tugged at it. Another tooth-pocked cut intersected that one.

A purposeful ‘X’.

To Aizawa it appeared brand-like. He wondered what Hizashi’s jacket must look like. It was thick, hero-grade material, designed specifically to protect against the toughest blade- whatever had caused the ‘X’ had managed to tear through it.

Green-edged bruises outlined Hizashi’s spine- a stark contrast to the angry red and purpling marks wrapped around his back like a brace. One curled around the back of his rib cage. A silent memoriam to a previous fight Hizashi had walked away alive from. Aizawa hovered a hand over the green halo that encircled the bruise by his rib cage, he didn’t touch Hizashi- his hand close, but with notable distance.

Aizawa had his own trophy case of bruises across his skin, but seeing them on Hizashi set something aflame in his chest- it only grew worse as he realized this wasn’t the first time Hizashi was hurt like this, and this wouldn’t be the last.

“Is it that bad?” asked Hizashi, breath getting snuffed out in his throat, like he was trying to speak through a mouthful of cotton.

“It’s manageable,” said Aizawa, looking at the cracked mirror, pulling his hand away a bit as he made eye contact with Hizashi. “Is it okay?”

Hizashi, just shook his head- slow and absent of his usual energy. He shivered as he did, tightening his crossed arms. He breathed out a clipped and contradictory, “Yeah.”

Aizawa took the permission to lay his hand down at the edge of one of the green-edge bruises. He inched closer, fingers dancing, towards the X. “Mic,” said Aizawa pulling his hand away splaying his fingers out before running a thumb over the tips of his fingers. “What's on your back? It's like-” Aizawa caught Hizashi's green-eyed stare in the mirror. Hizashi's face was flushed, mouth trembling- not in a tearstained way- but like he couldn't quite keep it tamed, a fever rattling through his whole body.

Hizashi turned around as Aizawa lifted a hand again, about to touch the bruised skin again. As quick as a viper strike Hizashi turned around, Aizawa backed against the shower and looked down between them where Hizashi had caught his wrist- his grip too tight to be friendly.

“Sheesh, you're burning up,” said Aizawa, trying to defuse the situation by keeping his voice neutral and channeling the shell shocked look out of his face. “I'm serious,” said Aizawa- letting Hizashi keep a hold of his wrist. He touched the back of his palm to Hizashi's forehead. Hizashi swatted his hand away, still not letting go- grip tightening even more.

Aizawa grit his teeth, it was getting a little uncomfortable for him, but he could handle it. Aizawa looked at the back of his hand that had touched Hizashi- what he thought was sweat, shined across the back of his knuckles. It was almost reflective. He tilted his hand reds and yellows twirled arm in arm with green- like light spiraling across the surface of an oil spill. And at just the right angle, the colors disappeared.

“What the hell are you covered in?” asked Aizawa. Hizashi blinked- looking through him, an eerie absent spiral stare. Aizawa clawed at Hizashi's grip, somehow it had tightened even more, there was no way Hizashi possessed this much strength on a normal day. “Let go,” he said, voice armored with barbed wire.

Hizashi obeyed instantly, eyes focusing on Aizawa again.

An idea creeped its way into Aizawa's head, he needed to act fast. “Nod your head,” he said, adding more spikes to the edges of his words.

Hizashi nodded his head- eyes focused but expression still loose.

“Get in the shower,” said Aizawa.

A hint of a smile looped across Hizashi’s face, but he obeyed without shooting Aizawa a quip.

Okay, shit, he was actually doing what Aizawa said.

Aizawa slammed open the cracked mirror door of the medicine cabinet as Hizashi, half-clothed, shuffled into the shower. There were tweezers- he grabbed them and a washcloth that hung along the wall. He hesitated looking up down, left, and right- how long until whatever the fuck made Hizashi so compliant wore off? He grabbed the hand soap in the same hand that held the tweezers. Hizashi was just shaking, waiting to be tugged around again by a command, shirtless and a little exposed- bruises streaked across his chest.

Aizawa closed the shower door behind him. It was small- a tiny squarish cell, with only a raised edge to keep the water from collecting on the tile of the bathroom floor. Unlike Aizawa's own flimsy shower curtain- Hizashi's shower was walled off by solid glass.

Hands full, and busy looking for a space to put what he held down, Aizawa snapped his attention to Hizashi when the man spoke. “What now?” asked Hizashi.

“I'm chasing a theory,” said Aizawa. “Do you trust me?”

Hizashi watched Aizawa set the soap and tweezers down on the shower ledge. He held the washcloth aloft, and at first, Hizashi just stared at in Aizawa's hand- not answering.

Aizawa couldn't believe this was the same cocky kid he'd socked in the face in highschool when they first met at the sports festival. Like Hizashi was utterly drained of the energetic silhouette of his youth. Sometimes, even earlier that night, when Hizashi’s voice would spiral up and he'd shoot Aizawa a wink, he had seen the Hizashi he once knew. But here now, there was no trace of that Hizashi, wings clipped and posture too tilted and unsure. Aizawa wondered if he also looked so reluctantly grown up.

Hizashi had backed right up against the shower wall- Aizawa's hair lifted slightly, ready to activate his quirk any moment. “I'm not here to help you,” said Aizawa, letting the lie trample the tiny bit of space between them. Even though it was obviously false, Aizawa holding a washcloth at the ready in his hand, it still eased the tension in Hizashi's shoulders. He reached a hand over to their left, and turned the shower on- letting the water run cold.

Hizashi's eyes darted around, he jolted- almost slipping, Aizawa caught him, and it was the first time Hizashi had looked at him within a frame of certainty. His face went red, full on- at realizing where he was, it clashed with his green rimmed bruises and spiral eyes. He looked Aizawa up and down, eyes flicking, calculating, then to Aizawa's hands wrapped over the lacerations of his arms, holding him steady. His eyes finally stuttered to a stop on Aizawa's dress shirt sleeves as his hair started to melt out of its ratty tangles under the water. “What about your dress shirt?” asked Hizashi, a million other questions threatening to spill out.

“I don’t care,” said Aizawa, letting go now that Hizashi was stable.

“Isn't it your only one?” asked Hizashi, an impish pinch to his smile.

“That's correct, but it's just a shirt, Mic.” Aizawa watched the way the slime coating Hizashi clung to him, even under the water- he could just barely see it, rippled, barely noticeable streaks across Hizashi's skin, smearing over and around his cuts and bruises.

He grabbed the hand soap, Hizashi's eyes loosened again, focusing on it like Aizawa was coming at him with a 7-gauge needle.

With soap on the washcloth, Aizawa held it down by his hip, like he really wasn't going to do anything with it- his hair was starting to stick to the sides of his face. As the water continued to pelt down on them, he could feel his shirt picking up weight on his shoulders.

Hizashi was still shivering- his shoulders twitching he'd crossed his arms, pressed back up against the solid wall of the shower. Aizawa was no better, one push or stumble and he'd go flying right out the shower door.

This wasn't exactly made for two people. But Aizawa wasn't uncomfortable. This was necessary.

“Just stay calm,” said Aizawa, his eyes glued to the distinctly finger shaped bruises around Hizashi's neck. “I'm serious,” he said, Hizashi didn't even flinch when Aizawa, the washcloth bundled up in his hand, touched Hizashi's shoulder.

Aizawa thought he was in the clear. Then Hizashi looped his fingers around his wrist as Aizawa dragged just the corner of the washcloth over the edge of a bruise. He didn't pull or push or squeeze, just held onto him. The palm of Hizashi's hand felt like it was coated in hot oil, even as cold water beat down on the two of them.

The spot on Hizashi's shoulder looked clear of the film, but Aizawa needed to know for sure. There wasn't exactly enough space to maneuver his other hand across his body without threatening to bump it against Hizashi's injured chest. Instead, Aizawa swiped his thumb over the space, feather-light, feeling like a wildfire was trailing across his own skin with the movement. There was traction again, Hizashi's skin no longer coated by that slime.

Hizashi watched, a lucid fraction of interest swam its way through his gaze, as he glanced to Aizawa's finger at his shoulder. “Thank you...,” was all he said, voice croaking, as he slipped his hand away from Aizawa's wrist.

“It's just my job,” said Aizawa, and that was true. “You think we can get the rest of this off of you?” Aizawa grabbed for the hand soap again, awkwardly twisting to reach towards the ledge behind his legs.

Hizashi shook his head, and Aizawa paused. “Yeah…,” said Hizashi the voice snuffed out as he continued to shake his head, his mouth moved, like he was still talking, little whispers that never caught in the air over the sound of the water.

At some point, the tension yoked across Hizashi's shoulders loosened, even as Aizawa dabbed at a particularly deep cut, prying free glass and dropping it beside them on the shower floor. By the end of it, he'd created a minefield of swirling blood and tiny glass pieces at their feet. Aizawa's socks were stained a whole new color, his dress shirt no better- he was thoroughly soaked through, and as Hizashi stopped shivering, the cool water tampening down the heat laced across his skin, it was Aizawa's turn to start feeling the cold. Having thoroughly cleaned Hizashi's torso- and after re-touching his arms- the shower water was turned off. Both of them slumped down onto the floor, half of Aizawa's back against the door of the shower, the other against the sturdy shelf- the hand soap, tweezers, and red-soaked washcloth sat on the bloody glass he'd pushed into the corner.

Aizawa's head was kicked back, he didn't know he'd let his eyes slip shut until Hizashi spoke, entranced by how strangely warm it was to have his legs tangled with Hizashi as the man sat on the opposite side of the shower with little room to spare between them. While the shower head was off, there was still a distinctive drip of water that accented Hizashi's words, “I think my phone is totally fucked.” There was a little chuckle, sleepy, slow as honey, but distinctly Hizashi.

“Shit,” said Aizawa, eyes opening and lifting his head. He tried to fish a hand into the water logged front pocket of his pants. He held his phone in front of him. It still turned on, but a moisture warning flitted across the screen. “Great.”

He held it in his hands, pinkish blood and whatever the fuck he'd just washed off of Hizashi smeared over his fingertips. Making eye contact with Hizashi, the man mirrored how thoroughly soaked through and tired Aizawa was, the question that kept surfacing since this night with Hizashi began threatened to bubble up. His question, that burning, stinging question he’d forgotten about- it came rolling, tumbling, roaring out of his mouth like a tidal wave to cut down whatever else he should’ve asked or said or did. It swallowed up the tension practically strapped across their shoulders, consuming it and spitting out a question that derailed Aizawa’s current mission. “Are you wearing contacts?” he asked, and paused, looking towards the glass shards on the shower floor. “That wasn’t what I wanted to say… I mean that’s not important right now.”

His grip tightened on his phone as Hizashi laughed at him, a little choppier than usual, but Aizawa felt nostalgia boil up in his chest. Letting Emi make him the butt of her jokes didn't quite feel the same.

“It’s funny seeing you get tongue-tied, Eraser” said Hizashi. “And these are totally natural, obviously”- Hizashi winked, and grimaced right after. He’d used the eye full of burst blood vessels. Deflated he hunched a little bit hands still crossed over his bare chest. “I think I have glass in my eye,” he said, much softer, his words echoing off the glass walls.

“Do you always wear contacts on patrol?”

“I have since we graduated,” said Hizashi.

And it really wasn't important, nor any of Aizawa's business, but something about the ungodly hour and having just pried glass out of Hizashi's skin for the last hour made his inhibitions pack up and head out for the moment. “Why?”

Hizashi shrugged, “Better public image.”

“That's bullshit,” growled Aizawa.

“Yo, you wouldn't know, Eraserhead .”

“Whatever, look the pay sucks, but at least I don't have to worry about some popular column on ‘Most Villainous Looking Heroes’ cutting into my salary.”

“Tch,” was the only noise Hizashi made.

“I like them,” said Aizawa, apparently his tongue was still surfing on the tide of sleep deprivation. He paused, he was going to lecture, that seemed to be how he coped with shit especially his feelings. It just helped to think it all out sometimes- he never minded Hizashi's red eyes. In fact, it made him seethe a little, skin crawling when Hizashi deliberately looked away if he was caught without his glasses on. Aizawa liked his eyes, they were the first, and most clear memory he clung onto, the beginning point of the timeline that stretched out between them. But it wasn't his place to deny Hizashi some peace from the public. Hizashi looked at him, eyes green and full of a different wave of vibrancy than his red ones. “I just like them better red,” he said, and it made Hizashi break eye contact for a moment.

“It doesn't matter what you like, yo. You're not…”

“Important?” asked Aizawa, a little bit of bite to the question.

“Sorry, that came out wrong man,” said Hizashi. It almost hurt to watch him be so quiet, and uncertain, he moved and talked slow like all his energy swirled down the drain with the pinkish water.

“Whatever,” said Aizawa, trailing his eyes up Hizashi's wet pants leg. “You got cuts on your legs too?”

“Yea,” said Hizashi, “But I really don't want to, you know. Dude, I'm just tired.”

“You wanna tell me what happened?”

Hizashi looked like he'd just been caught in the headlights of a car pushing 60.

“Come on,” said Aizawa, he sighed holding his phone in between his crooked up legs. “At least give me a name?”

Hizashi's face twisted, and Aizawa was prepared to activate his quirk. But Hizashi didn't inhale, just breathed, once then again. Face turning red, and cycling into something worse as if he was trying to speak but his voice choked out before it could be commanded by his tongue. “Chain-” he started voice rattling, his teeth clacking together like his mouth was trying to shut itself on the words. His teeth chattered as he said the word, frustration prickled through the way Hizashi moved his body. Hizashi clawed his hands into his knees and finally managed to spit out a name, “Ch-Chainsaw.”

Hizashi let out a breath all at once, panting as if the name had been a one hundred pound weight on his tongue.

“Toxic Chainsaw,” said Aizawa, piecing together the puzzle in his head. “I've heard the name…” He was lost in thought, trying to piece together if he had a connection to the name, a face, a quirk, anything. All he knew for certain was Toxic Chainsaw was a villain.

It was like a floodgate opened on Hizashi's end, he started rambling. “I'm sorry, I fucked up, I should've told you, I could've- I just couldn't, what kind of fucking pro am I, yo? I couldn't even fight back…”

“What happened?” asked Aizawa, his eyes focused loosely on the wall right beside Hizashi's head, the cuts and blood smeared in his hairline and on his cheeks, unwashed and all so red, blurred in his peripheral.

“I don't know it's all a blur, I was there one second some supposedly quick raid and then I woke up with his fist around my neck," Hizashi pointed to his neck. Aizawa's eyes trailed over the marks.

Hizashi's green eyes were heavy, like storm clouds. But finally, his spirals were tethered to the present. He barreled into talking more, a little breathless like he couldn't quite keep up with what he wanted to say. "Yo, Chainsaw is huge... I had no idea. He should've killed me, I know I'm just lucky.” Hizashi’s words sounded like he was spitting up black stones. “But he just told me to not tell anyone, jammed this slime all over me- told me to, ‘kindly, crawl back home’ and not let anyone patch me up.” Hizashi let go of his knees and threaded his hands together in front of him, as he looked down. “I thought that was stupid, like I could fight it the second I got a chance and that I'd call for backup and kick his ass. But I woke up on the ground and I just couldn't do it. Like I didn't even want to. I feel so fucking weak, man. What the hell kind of hero am I? I didn't even fight back. Like I just let him..."

Hizashi cut himself off. "Yeah," he said and couldn't meet Aizawa's eyes. He coughed, ugly and strangled. "I guess it's okay now, huh?"

Aizawa wasn't one to offer fake promises. He didn't even know what he could say, he was still stuck on Toxic Chainsaw's command. If whatever was smeared into Hizashi's cuts held the power behind Chainsaw's quirk, then it meant at the very least Chainsaw was some kind of time-release emitter. A villlain harboring the ability to make a command of his victim that had a long enough half-life to sway them for hours after.

Aizawa didn't like the prospect, his erasure didn't seem to eliminate it- meaning once Toxic triggered it, it was active in the victim. Aizawa would have to erase the command at the source.

Even Aizawa was able to order Hizashi around. What the hell kind of quirk was this? Hizashi logically, should've died at the villain's hand. "I don't think it's okay," said Aizawa.

Hizashi, looked pitiful. The water clung to his yellow hair, softening it.

Hizashi and Aizawa both curled against their respective walls, their legs tangled up on either side of each other. Hizashi hunched, looking like a prize vase that had been sloppily glued back together. Aizawa tapped at the moisture warning on his screen, his whole phone would be locked up until the warning timer was through counting down.

He needed to know one last thing, "Look, you should go to a hospital."

Hizashi flinched mouth opening as Aizawa's eyes flashed red. Aizawa held up a hand and deactivated his quirk as Hizashi coughed. “So, whatever that command was to not get help is still active.”

Hizashi just nodded, a hand rubbing at the front of his neck.

"Let me clarify one thing you, need to go regardless. Just maybe once whatever this is wears off. There's no way I can help beyond what I've already done. Just do the responsible thing and get looked at.”

“Yeah,” breathed out Hizashi, leaning his head back against the shower wall and looking up.

“Do you know anything else about Toxic Chainsaw's quirk?” asked Aizawa, as Hizashi's eyes slipped shut.

Hizashi shrugged, “All I ever heard was that heroes get really sick- especially when that shit on his body gets in a wound.”

Aizawa breathed in, noting how Hizashi wasn't shivering as much anymore after washing the slime off his body. “Alright. Nothing about… some kind of brainwashing?”

“I don't know,” said Hizashi. “Damn, I'm the dumbest Pro… I should've been more aware- I'm sure someone's experienced it before. I thought he was just-”

“Some thug?” asked Aizawa. “Don’t talk about yourself like that. He's just some run-of-the-mill villain to me too.”

“Yo, how the hell does a quirk like that fly under the radar?”

It was Aizawa's turn to say, “I don't know.”

“We sure don't know a lot,” said Hizashi. “So much for being at the top of our class in high school.”

“I think you're referring to yourself there, I was never too bright- logical maybe, but not naturally intelligent. So I'm allowed to not know things.”

“Hey, that's not fair.”

Aizawa stood up slowly, “I don’t make the rules.”

Hizashi looked up at him, water dripping off his hair. “Yeah,” he said, a shadow of his normal voice. He tilted his head, still using the wall as his support, his neck totally exposed- he eyed the glass in the corner by Aizawa. “We real deal fucked my shower up, yo.”

“A little bit,” said Aizawa. “You can clean it in the morning.” Aizawa made a get-up motion with a hand, swiping it upward through the humid air.

“Can't I just sleep here?”

“Hell no,” said Aizawa. “Did Chainsaw knock your brains out too?” Hizashi winced at the question, looking Aizawa in the eye like the man had just cursed his family name, and Aizawa quickly mumbled a, “Sorry.”

Getting Hizashi out of the shower wasn't as hard as trying to put dry clothes on him. Aizawa helped him to his bedroom then awkwardly stood there, Hizashi swayed in front of him, before falling back onto the edge of his bed, wet jeans and all.

“Shit,” said Aizawa, helping Hizashi stand up before he could do anymore damage to his clean sheets. He dragged him over to the dresser that wasn't far from the bed- the room smaller than expected, maybe the living room was just uniquely spacious. Hizashi used the dresser as support, watching as Aizawa rummaged through the already haphazardly open drawers in the space Hizashi left between the wood and his legs.

“Just pick whatever,” said Hizashi.

Aizawa hadn't dried off and he was acutely aware of how both he and Hizashi were pooling water on the wood floor.

“You can change into something too,” said Hizashi after Aizawa handed him some clothes.

“It's fine,” said Aizawa, knowing he looked ridiculous. “I'll just-” Aizawa pointed to the doorway, and Hizashi just shrugged, not caring he was already sliding his pants off.

“Did you pick this on purpose?” said Hizashi as he tugged on the shirt. He smoothed a hand over the UA symbol.

“No, I just grabbed it,” Aizawa didn't end up leaving the room. He had his arms crossed trying to figure out just exactly how many different CDs and records Hizashi stacked along the shelves trailing along the bedroom walls. “I don't know how you can still fit in it.”

“Some of us hit puberty early, Eraser.” Hizashi was fully dressed- Aizawa hadn't grabbed a dry pair of underwear, the outline of the wet fabric started to dot along sweatpants. Hizashi didn't seem to notice, so Aizawa wouldn't bring it up.

“You gonna stay?” asked Hizashi. Crawling into bed- he sighed eyes closing, “This feels so good.”

“I'd rather sleep in my own bed,” Aizawa patted at his wet pants. “Plus I'm soaking wet.”

“Your loss, yo,” mumbled Hizashi, wet hair tangled over his pillow, blood already smearing into the cotton. He opened his eyes, expression pulled into something more serious as he looked at Aizawa standing at the foot of the bed- “You gotta make a promise with me man, especially with that face your making.”

“Huh,” said Aizawa, trying to tame his expression back into something more neutral.

“You're not gonna go after Chainsaw. Like we both gotta be more careful, stop doing deliberately suicidal things, yo.”Hizashi's voice lilted up on his words, spiraling and grinding down into something slower, and so serious it chilled the blood in Aizawa's veins.

Hizashi meant this.

“You're asking for a lot… we are heroes, Mic.”

“At least not Chainsaw. Like if you run into him on a raid then fine. Just don't go tailing him unheeded or face him alone. I know you're not that dumb.”

“Alright,” said Aizawa, barely above a mumble. He wasn't quite able to offer a full promise.

“Kay,” said Hizashi, a sleepy mumble.

It didn't take him long for Hizashi to slip off even with the lights on. Out of courtesy, Aizawa flicked the lights off.

He was going to leave. Fully prepared to in fact, Hizashi was perfectly capable of taking himself to the hospital once he woke up. But Aizawa paused after slipping one foot into a shoe.

He slipped it back off, and trailed back into Hizashi's bedroom, an anxiety fluttering in his chest as quick as a hummingbird.

Was it okay to just let Hizashi sleep? It was something Aizawa had done more than once, and while he was certainly in pain more often than he should be, he was still alive.

Hizashi was curled towards one side of the bed. Even soaking wet Aizawa settled, as quietly as he could on the side farthest from Hizashi. He didn't lay down just perched, back to the headboard, watching the electronic clock on the dresser across from him. Watchful, but not clinging too close. He'd stay, just to make sure Hizashi wouldn't stop breathing as he slept.

A message came in from Emi, it was thirty minutes to five. He would need to head out for work soon. He looked over at Hizashi, sleeping, a pause hovering around him- in the dark Aizawa would never guess he was injured.

The floor of Hizashi's room was a mess- it was dark but Hizashi had a nightlight just barely illuminating the floor. Aizawa imagined he always lived like this. He caught sight of Hizashi's directional speaker tossed at the side of the dresser and he slipped off the bed to investigate. He'd been more concerned with getting Hizashi into dry clothes to note more than the harried state of the dresser.

Aizawa picked up the directional speaker, mindful of the cracked speaker dish that tumbled out of it. The whole thing was busted, like it'd been ripped off Hizashi’s neck in one tug. Glass jammed into the plastic- and threatened to slice into Aizawa's hands. However and whatever Hizashi was thrown through- his directional speaker must've been tossed out along with him. Aizawa sat it back down- careful to make it look like he hadn't touched it. He crouched, wet pants clinging almost almost painfully to his thighs.

The torn hem of a sleeve poked out from under the dresser. Aizawa grabbed it and tugged, pulling out the rest of Hizashi's hero costume from under it. He didn’t pick up the pants or the shirt, and unlaced the jacket from the belt as he picked it up- cracked red elbow pads and all.

Glass fell off of the jacket as he held it up. The back of it was ripped open- in that ‘X’ formation- the arms a little thicker than the cut on Hizashi’s back. He poked at it, and that strange slime came away onto his fingers as the glass littered across the leather scraped at his fingertips. His skin practically buzzed when he touched it, a tingling set a pace over his palm. It was the same as when he’d set a hand on Hizashi's back, tracing the way old green bruises framed the fresh ones. A calmness settled down Aizawa’s spine, like slipping down to the bottom of a swimming pool, and looking up to the surface, the world above quiet and dull for once.

Aizawa dropped the jacket. He shoved it under the dresser again, crouched on his hands and knees he pulled at the pants- they were just as torn up. Fuck, so was the shirt. It looked like Hizashi tried to pull them through a paper shredder. There was absolutely no trace of his orange-lensed glasses.

He looked back to where Hizashi slept, Aizawa’s own breaths a little uncontrolled. Soaking wet, his eyes tracing the cuts on Hizashi’s face just barely lit by the soft nightight- he crashed into his decision.

It would hurt Hizashi. He knew it would, the best thing he could do was not tell him. If anyone could beat Chainsaw it was him, he knew the type, and they were often too reliant on their quirk. They wouldn’t know what hit them.

Aizawa stalked to Hizashi’s front door- already hammering out a text to Nemuri. “Can you take Hizashi to the hospital? He’s at his place. I’ve got to go.”

Nemuri immediately tried to call, she was probably at her agency reviewing paperwork. He dropped the call, and pulled his shoes on. A beat later a message pinged on his phone. The email said, “Well good morning to you too, Aizawa. What happened to Yamada?”

“Ask him yourself,” was all Aizawa’s response read. He didn’t bother to read the answer. Nemuri would show up regardless, he didn’t need to worry about that.

*

Later that morning, thirty minutes after seven, Aizawa crawled into the shared agency he worked under- he was very late, and was almost not let past the front desk. He just flashed his hero license at them as he passed, a security officer shrugged, like Aizawa wasn’t the first to show up looking like he’d just slinked away from a street fight. He knew he looked like shit, and Emi thought it was appropriate to immediately leap onto how he was wearing a blood-stained dress shirt.

“I prefer the pajamas,” she said, smile wide and eyes flashing green from the unwelcome sunlight streaming in through the windows. “This screams serial killer.”

“Keep it up and I might become one,” he growled, pouring himself a fifth cup of coffee, he’d practically taken the pot from the breakroom, no one dared challenge him on his ownership though. Not when he looked like he’d forgotten what sleep and common decency were.

She continued to talk, sometimes cutting in to correct him on a mistake he made on his own paperwork. “Don’t you have your own office?” asked Aizawa, finishing his most recent cup of coffee, he tilted it as if more would magically appear.

She paused then, a smaller smile on her face. Her eyes looked eerily familiar, as green as Hizashi’s when the light had just shined right under the chipped lights surrounding a cracked mirror- Aizawa’s thoughts practically blurred together, he knew he was dry, but it almost felt like there was a weight over his whole body again- like he never walked back out of Hizashi’s shower, like a part of him still lingered there.

His phone buzzed where he had it next to the stack of papers. Another call from Nemuri.

Shit, he forgot to have Hizashi take his contacts out. Sheesh, his mind kept getting stuck on the most unimportant things.

“No, but seriously,” said Emi, voice dropping, as she adjusted her orange bandana. “What happened to you last night? You look like you’re about to drop asleep.”

He looked at her, the morning sun finding its way into Emi’s eyes, flaring them green again. It pulled a question right out of the jumbled sea of thoughts in Aizawa’s head. A question he wasn’t quite able to satisfy after he left Hizashi’s that morning. “What do you know about Toxic Chainsaw?”

Chapter Text

5. Blue

 

It was the beginning of next year's rainy season when Aizawa caught a good lead. A drop-off point, an exchange where Toxic Chainsaw was hired as expensive and fullproof muscle.

As far as Aizawa understood from a few back-alley interrogations with Emi standing watch- Chainsaw didn't personally show up to every job, and certainly nothing just for the money. He enjoyed his work- and resented putting in the effort for petty jobs. His regular operation-style was hands-off, mob-like. He hung back and somehow got paid as if he had been there all along.

At first the information had put Aizawa in a tailspin, he would have to resort to turning over every god damn rock in Japan just to find Chainsaw. Or wait until he ran into him by chance.

Both options featured too much risk.

But thankfully, Chainsaw wasn't above getting his hands dirty, that was why Aizawa's lead was so important. He needed to face Chainsaw in person, not some proxy.

He could have thought it through more. Could’ve brought Emi, alerted the police or just simply waited- done anything except rush in, eyes flaring red and steel-capped boots first. He could’ve done a lot more than let the thoughtless, demanding worm of anger throw him at Toxic Chainsaw’s feet.

But he did none of those things. He only fooled himself, thinking he’d won, believing he had-

Believing he had done anything else but lose.

“Motherfucker!” Toxic Chainsaw put as much bite into the word as the hooked teeth he wielded.

The chainsaw still sputtered for a moment, it grinded against the ground, making a nasty sound that grated across Aizawa's skin as Toxic peeled himself away from the metal.

There was a squishing noise, and the titan stood up tall again- wrenching his head off where he'd been staked through the eye.

Aizawa stumbled, falling onto his hands and knees, quirk dying down. He was bleeding out, a jagged gash across his outer thigh. Too deep, too red, and gushing down his leg too fast to ignore.

He tried to push up- get out of the way, roll and scramble as Toxic hefted his chainsaw again. One orange eye pinned on him, the other sloughed right out of the socket.

Aizawa got up, leg trembling, arms barely lifting him off the ground- he didn't have much time Toxic was-

“Get the fuck back on the ground, Eraser.”

Aizawa dropped back down. He tried to fight it. He needed to crawl, something, anything . Toxic loomed over him, blood dripped over his neck, staining his slick skin. Incandescent lights danced like an oil spill over Toxic's expression as he tilted his head.

“Stop crawling,” said Toxic, a whip-like quality to the words lashing off his tongue.

Aizawa did, hissing air out through his grit teeth.

Fuck he needed to move. Had to. His eyes were wide, he was a lamb staring down a hooked knife as he activated his quirk. It pulled at Aizawa’s eyes, he could barely keep them open for a moment.

But he still couldn't move, just shaking frozen in place, crumpled on the ground- he could feel his own blood pooling by his knee.

“That's cute you think your little trick is gonna work on me with that cut o’ yours.” Toxic used the back of a hand to wipe at the blood underneath his eye socket. A snarl left him, something fringed in disgust, he scowled down at Aizawa like Aizawa was nothing more than a nasty roach.

Toxic crouched down. The chainsaw’s teeth had stopped leaping to life across the blade. It was held close to Aizawa’s arm. Too close. A silent threat. “You can deactivate your quirk.”

Aizawa's eyes closed shut. He opened them again, hair settled around his shoulders. Toxic grabbed his face with a bloody hand- like someone might when roughly inspecting a fighting dog.

“Shit, you took my fucking eye, and ruined my god damn night. I could,” Toxic dug his fingers in. Toxic then stood, letting go of Aizawa. Sharp and rough, he scowled and looked at his hand for moment. Like when he touched Aizawa he had wrapped his fingers around the bottom of a shoe.

He swung the painted chainsaw so the still blade rested right above Aizawa's head. It only took a beat for it to drop away, angled back down held loosely by Toxic's side. “But I don't think dokudoku would like that.” A smile wound up the edges of Chainsaw's mouth, a shark swimming into view with its teeth bared. “You ever heard of an eye for an eye, Eraserhead? Let's kindly put a twist on that, huh.”

Aizawa's vision rolled back, as Toxic grabbed him by the neck to haul him up, crushing him through the capture scarf.

The last of Toxic's words had set a drumbeat over his skin, radiating out from that epicenter on his thigh, tiny insect legs spreading over him. Swallowing him whole, they dulled his senses.

It was a precise snuffing out of any connection he had to himself, his gasping, struggling self, as he dangled in the air.

That eye, a pupil slashed across its middle- the tight gaze of a deep-sea predator, pinned on Aizawa. It held only passive interest as it willed him to lose focus of everything, even of the hand cinched around his neck.

*

Aizawa was adrift, a sleepwalk swim he'd grown accustomed to- there wasn't much to guide him, deafened sounds and noises couldn't break through to him as more than a light tap.

Mostly there was a voice, muffled, buzzing humming, but never too sharp. The only clear thing he anchored himself to, even if it was tacked with barbs.

At one point, after the voice had needled its way deep enough- it successfully ripped through his calmly ebbing thoughts, and lashed across his skin. Disturbing the game of otedama he’d started to play with his worries.

So loud and sharp, a hornet curled up by his ear, sinking its jaws in, stinger at the ready.

The voice hissed and rattled, close and plunging poison through his veins. Igniting him with a need to flush it out- to do what it said, just to free himself from its buzzing wings.

It flew in, hooked legs cutting him as its voice jabbed, tugging at the strings anchored deep in his veins. "Kindly, show this slut how we treat unwelcome guests- huh, Eraser."

His name, his actual name, dropped in after, but it was drowned out by a buzzing hum, sharp wings whipped away what Aizawa wanted to hear.

Aizawa searched for his name after that- the one not whispered by that hornet crawling and stinging at the back of his neck. But he couldn't rip free of it. Entranced by the watered down reality it offered. He was unsure of where he was- a sea of colors and sounds and occasionally pain that swirled across his consciousness like a typhoon he couldn't bring to order.

Sometimes the pain grew so sharp, the hornet making good on its threat it dug his stinger into the shell of Aizawa's ear. And Aizawa would snap awake, breach the surface, his world clear and screeching back to the forefront of his mind, demanding to be heard.

It didn't last long his vision would focus and his world would tilt dangerously his eyes rolling back. Clarity becoming loose as fingers pushed their way into his thigh, slicing through an open gaping wound. And he’d let the hornet crawl its way back up his neck to settle by his ear again. Aizawa was lulled back under that dull comfort.

He preferred sinking, over the sound of his own voice cracking, yelling- hoarse.

It was cold when he finally came to the surface again- at first it was small, just bobbing his head. The hornet barely nipped at him. It had become withered, weak, whispers no longer flying off a silvertongue- instead it lashed like barbed wire across his abdomen.

Once then twice- the roar of swarming insect wings behind the cuts. "Get fucked, Eraserhead," it drawled, dragging on far too long, an echo chamber in Aizawa's own mind. It shivered within his own body, and slipped out with the rest of him.

He lost himself. He was losing himself, each breath like dragging icicles through his lungs.

He wrapped his arms a little tighter around his body, a thousand more shadowing his movement. Digging their way over his arms, his legs, dragging nails across his skin, curling inside him- they tore him open. He was dissected methodically but with certain brutality.

Snipped threads still lingered, like cut stitches dangling from his skin. He could feel them as he sank back down into numbness- curling into himself like he could slip into the molted shell of an exoskeleton.

But there was no protection- only the after-image of the hornet's last words. The words were a flame that straddled its way across his hips and trailed up to his abdomen. An inferno inside him, coating his body- pushing away the pressing cold that demanded a space in his carefully distilled thoughts.

He could feel the hornet at his leg. It dug little hooked legs in, trailing along his inner thigh, he was shaking shivering as it crawled. It dragged its stinger over him- it took purposeful inching steps.

He flinched and the hornet took flight, swallowed up by the cold air- it was really nothing more than a husk. There was no hornet anymore, only memories crawled their way over Aizawa's body.

They flickered at the corners of himself, burning Aizawa away. Into embers, into nothing but charred edges.

There was a slam- hands grabbed him.

This time real and rough, he was pulled up too fast. They ripped him upwards, like sloppily tugging a catch out of the water without a level of carefulness. The line snapped and Aizawa plunged back into that blurred fort he'd constructed around himself. But the hornet was no longer there to help him strap on his blinders.

"What are you doing in here?” It couldn't have been the hornet that owned the words.

Some more slipped in. "Yo, was there seriously someone in the freezer- holy shit, that's a lot of blood-"

"Drop a pin," said the hands wrapped around Aizawa's arms he was half tugged up from the ground. Colors swirled meaninglessly above Aizawa- he didn't need to catalogue it, his mind already overwhelmed, trying to catch up with the cold that creeped across his skin.

“He doesn't look like a villain.”

"I don't know what this is god dammit-" Aizawa was hoisted up totally, the epicenter of his pain shifted, spinning around his stomach, spilling out towards his toes. "We'll let the heroes handle this."

He was on his back a minute later. That was all he knew- that was all he wanted to know. There was a warmth carried by the rain beating a lullaby around him.

He could sleep. He should sleep. But he had been sleeping- how could he still be so tired?

"Aizawa," it was the voice he wanted to hear. The one he'd been chasing, low and sultry- a purr he'd wanted to whisper to him when the hornet became too much. But here it sounded heavy, like a weight was strapped to the back of his name.

He opened his eyes, the world flooded in blue light, a hand wrapped protectively over one of his shoulders. The other pressed at his abdomen. His head was laying in someone's lap. He craned his head up, and met an intense stare, upside down and framed by red glasses.

He tilted his head down trying to see who owned the hands over his stomach.

Hizashi met his eyes, Aizawa trailed his gaze over Hizashi's forearms, down to his own stomach. Hizashi pressed a bundled up shirt there, blood painted his fingers, staining the skin not covered by his gloves.

"Where the fuck are the paramedics?" asked Hizashi, green eyes melting in the light from the club's neon front. It glared and flashed overhead- mostly blue and some garish red shining light over Aizawa laid out on the walkway.

The red behind Hizashi's lenses almost bled through, it made for a sickly green. An eerie effect that traced the edges of Hizashi's serious face sharpening him in neon light. Hizashi appeared oni-like, a childhood nightmare with its hands, finger-deep in Aizawa’s stomach. The yokai, finally looked at him- blue cutting across its jawline, dancing at the temples, almost as if horns would sprout between the strands of his gold hair. Rain dripped down Hizashi’s face, his waterlogged hair pressed down to his forehead.

“Yamada," said Aizawa, the name swallowed up before it could fully form.

He used to hate Hizashi, remembered how much he wanted to see Hizashi beat down. Wanted him to hurt, to feel what Aizawa felt trying to claw his way up past all the naturally gifted. Wanted him to know what it was like to work harder than everyone else and only ever just come face to face with mediocrity.

He'd wanted that , and still craved seeing Hizashi get his ass handed to him one day, just so he'd stop being so damn cocky. And Hizashi had come close, Aizawa had been there helping Hizashi through his longest night. But that look in his eyes wasn't there when they sat on the shower floor. And it wasn't there the days after.

Yet, here swathed in blue light, glowing, bloody hands, and bright green eyes Aizawa wanted to swallow up his god damn wish. Bury it, sink it- never acknowledge that he wanted something like this. When Hizashi looked at him Aizawa saw a kid looking back at him.

He'd seen it before. On the faces of civilians, looking at the destruction around them. A snuffing out of vibrancy behind their eyes. A crashing, unyielding realization, a curtain pulled back, their life exposed as fragile, temporary- and they slid into their armor, strapped it across their shoulders, so they'd never be blindsided by that awareness again.

Hizashi was no longer perfect, shattered coming apart as he was holding Aizawa together.

They weren't adults- they hadn't been, they were kids strapping on costumes and getting paid for it. A steel curtain laid itself across Hizashi's expression, it was the one Aizawa wanted to be responsible for. But not like this. He wanted Hizashi to be humbled, but never like this, not because he was dying.

He couldn't do this to Hizashi.

"I won't-" started Aizawa, unable to finish, air had no traction for him.

Nemuri hummed, brushing his hair back as he shivered on his back, time and blood ticking away. He watched as Hizashi's face seemed to slowly change shape in the blue light, an intensity settling in his spiral eyes.

It didn't die down. Not even when Hizashi had to step away, new hands descended on Aizawa. Asked questions as Aizawa convulsed for air- as he tried desperately to call back out for that hornet again, for it to take him away from this burning feeling. The one that demanded to be satisfied.

He needed Hizashi's hands on his stomach again, those fingers sloppily lacing him together.

He needed even as he was loaded into an ambulance. Hizashi leaped in with him the neon blue light nipping at his heels- Aizawa needed him .

*

That night, bleeding into the early morning, after the police finally left and Aizawa was no longer in critical condition, the hero Recovery Girl finally packed up her case. In passing as she patted a yellow glove on Aizawa's arm said told him she couldn't do much else with the venom still in his blood.

Hizashi stayed with him, still in his hero costume- hair loose from the rain as he walked into Aizawa's hospital room from the blue-lit hallway, a nurse by his side.

Aizawa watched them warily, stitches littered across his skin, holding him together. A sloppy substitute for Hizashi's hands. The pain was barely dulled by what they'd pumped through his veins.

Aizawa hadn't yet talked to Hizashi, hadn't done anything besides growl and fight off the nurses since they'd snipped the last thread that held his abdomen together. He was a sweaty, shaking mess, and Hizashi watched him, eyes red and cataloging every visible mark on Aizawa's mark.

From Hizashi’s vantage point he couldn't see that Aizawa's thin sheets and hospital gown concealed the worst of it.

At some point, with enough valium in his veins to sedate a horse, he just watched Hizashi, and Hizashi watched him- his own breaths rocking out at a foreign pace as he shivered, still shaking even under the three sheets layered over him.

Hizashi didn't try to talk, strangely quiet, he eventually fell asleep, head kicked back against the sill of the window right next to Aizawa's bed. The window’s blinds were drawn hiding the night sky, and brushing against Hizashi's hair as the man twitched only slightly on the long seat. A water bottle sat at his feet, his boots so close, threatening to knock it over if he so much as flinched in his sleep.

It was that night, as Hizashi slept that Aizawa slipped out of his hospital bed. He'd ripped the IV catheter out of his arm, pushed the clear line off the bed- and slipped onto the ground.

Aizawa took sloping steps, bare feet peeling slowly across the tile floor, slightly hunched- poised back coiled and ready to strike. The cracked door provided low light, outlines and barely there colors for Aizawa to use as his lead line.

Hizashi didn't notice Aizawa standing in front of him. There was no startling awake as Aizawa loomed over him. Hizashi’s throat totally bared, mouth slightly open.

Eyes dark, Aizawa held a hand over his stitches like his guts were going to spill out, a blank expression held fast on his face. Sweating, shivering, a red-eyed Aizawa took a step closer.

Hizashi didn't wake up at first. Not even when Aizawa clambered on top of him- slipping his legs on either side of Hizashi. Straddling him in the hospital gown, he grabbed Hizashi's face and angled it away from where it rested on the windowsill. Looking down at Hizashi like he was about to devour the man.

Hizashi woke up slowly. His eyes drifted open, red and mirroring Aizawa's own.

Then it hit him all at once, like a wave crashing his body into motion. He shot awake- his eyes wide, he looked up at Aizawa making a choking sound under the hold of Aizawa's activated quirk.

His leg kicked out, knocking over the plastic water bottle and it rolled away soft plastic scrunching against the hard floor. Hizashi's spiral eyes looked up at Aizawa. The low light just barely sketched out the outlines of his face, and with it the expression that settled across it.

"You're half-naked," said Hizashi as if that was the strangest thing about Aizawa pressed over his lap.

Aizawa couldn't speak - his breaths so quick, and his body shaking like he couldn't even control it.

"Aizawa?" Hizashi wrapped his hands around Aizawa's wrists he didn't pull away just held him. Aizawa's fingers practically clawed into the sides of Hizashi's head, digging and pulling at blond hair.

"I have to," started Aizawa, his voice shaking like he was a leaf clinging onto a branch in winter. His words clipped and dipping into something breathless. "I-I," he swallowed, "I have to..."

His sentence died off. He swayed, shifted on Hizashi's lap, Hizashi froze up, red eyes looking away from Aizawa for a second.

It was like Aizawa was fighting with his body, like he wanted to move closer and leap away at the same time.

Aizawa's head snapped to the side looking at the door to his hospital room, it was propped open- blue light trickling in from the hallway.

"Yo," said Hizashi, trying to pull Aizawa's hands off of him- and squirming under him. "Hey, it's fine, Eraser."

Aizawa still looked out to the hall- his whole body kept twitching like he couldn't control it- his mouth twisted, opening for a second then closing like he was whispering.

"Aizawa," said Hizashi. Instantly, Aizawa turned his attention back to Hizashi.

A flicker of recognition wavered in Aizawa's eyes, they were red for only a moment- flashing like coyote's eyes beside a midnight highway.

Aizawa slumped forward like a puppet that had suddenly had its strings cut. Hizashi made a noise, something between a cough and a strangled sigh as he still held Aizawa's wrist. They were now bundled at his front- his face buried in Aizawa's shoulder for a second- he was so still not even fighting back against Aizawa.

Aizawa's nose was pressed to the side of Hizashi's hair- he could smell his shampoo, green apple and obnoxious.

Hizashi below him, Aizawa's name frozen on his lips as he tensed, slipped his hands away from Aizawa's wrists. They found a perch on Aizawa's thighs, grip loose and non-existent for the moment.

Aizawa trailed his head down, nose brushing against Hizashi. Hizashi kept trying to say it, Aizawa could hear him. But only the beginning or the end of Aizawa's name found its way into the nonexistent space between them.

Aizawa was so god damn hot, burning up like lava had been poured over his skin. And Hizashi, Hizashi was so cool, always cool, but here literally cold, and everything Aizawa needed in that moment.

To Aizawa, Hizashi's skin was soft and refreshing, like pressing his lips to the condensation on the rim of a glass. He pushed his face into the crook of Hizashi's neck, twisting trying to get a better angle, his legs shaking as he straddled Hizashi, trying to keep himself up.

He opened his mouth at the skin of Hizashi's neck, just to get a better taste of something that would cool him down. Desperate, hungry shaking like Aizawa needed this contact or he'd fall apart, panting body and lips pressed up against Hizashi.

He could do more. He needed more. The pain buzzed across his abdomen, tearing across his skin and sinking like a sword all the way to the base of his spine.

Hizashi let out a strangled, "Eraser," as Aizawa's fingers tugged at the waistband of Hizashi's tight leather pants. "Eraser, Aizawa, Eraserhead!" He kept his voice even, two-toned whispers, he could dial it up at any moment.

But he didn't.

He just cycled through names like he was stringing together an incantation- yet not able to banish the shivering demon slipping their hand down his pants.

Hizashi's hands tightened on Aizawa's thighs- and Aizawa was fully aware Hizashi could push him away at any moment. But he didn't and Aizawa; his mind making frenzied circles around one sole goal, the same one that lead him to this moment. The moment where he tried to shove a hand down the front of Hizashi's pants.

He wasn't stopped.

Hizashi dipped into silence, only tensing up as Aizawa squeezed his hand through the tight gap between his leather pants and the cold skin of Hizashi’s stomach.

Hizashi's hands slid over Aizawa's thighs, the tips of his fingers edging at the hem of the pushed up hospital gown. Hizashi inched into applying pressure, unsure his hands ghosting at the edges of the gown his thumb threatening to wrap over Aizawa's inner thigh.

Then Aizawa dipped a little lower, hot breath ghosting over Hizashi's jaw- the hands tightened and the way they dug into the muscle practically ignited Aizawa, it felt like Hizashi's hands were live wires- sending his head into a spinning shellshock.

He could feel himself, rattling in Hizashi's lap threatening to topple over, Hizashi's hands clawed into him- his lifeline. And Aizawa, Aizawa was burning up.

"Shota," said Hizashi- the name just lightly brushing against the air over Aizawa's harsh breathing.

It was the first time Aizawa heard Hizashi say it.

The name pulled him up from under the surface of boiling water- Hizashi was in front of him.

Beneath him.

Aizawa pulled away, pushing with one arm against Hizashi's chest his eyes shooting down where he had a hand down the front of Hizashi's pants. He pulled his hand up- silently watching his own arm move like he was observing a particularly risky surgery.

Aizawa pushed away even more, now using his free arm to further brace himself up. His eyes were wide. Hizashi looked at him, his red gaze an off-color blur in the blue light. Hizashi's eyes were half-closed, like maybe he had slipped back asleep for a moment.

"Sorry," was all Aizawa said a first. A mumbled, "I don't feel like myself,” chased the phrase.

He slid off of Hizashi's lap, practically crashing onto the rest of the cushioned couch chair beside Hizashi. Almost as if he hadn't just been slobbering wrapped over Hizashi. He sat next to Hizashi, his back almost slid all the way off the longseat’s back- his legs strewn out in front of him. Casual and still, his eyes looked towards the cracked door.

Aizawa caught the movement out of his peripheral, Hizashi had glanced down- Aizawa's hospital gown had ridden up, dangerously close to exposing more than just his upper thighs.

"You're a mess, Eraser," said Hizashi, looking back towards the doorway his leg bouncing up and down hands kneading together pushed over his lap, he squirmed like he couldn't get comfortable.

"I know," said Aizawa, breathing the words out his eyes dark now, and watching the blue light filter in through their doorway.

"You should probably get back in bed," said Hizashi, still at a whisper.

"What's got you so quiet?" asked Aizawa, wincing as the words pulled at his middle.

Hizashi flashed his wrist at Aizawa- he tapped a finger against the watch screen. "It's late... or early, look I'm trying not to get kicked out."

"Huh," said Aizawa, the sound died off, swallowed up by the dark room.

"Why'd you-" started Hizashi. He laughed a little, Aizawa didn't like the unsure sound of it. "Why'd you climb on me like that?”

"I made a mistake," growled Aizawa. Hizashi looked over at him, Aizawa met his gaze- the soft blue light clashed oddly with Hizashi's red eyes again. Hizashi's eyes dipped down to Aizawa's stomach.

Aizawa followed Hizashi's gaze. "Shit," he said, blood blossomed through the hospital gown. His face twisted, he was irritated- and still sweating fucking bullets, he just wanted out of this goddamn hospital- he was too exposed. Vulnerable. "This whole fucking thing is my fault," he said.

Hizashi just shrugged- he slid up a little, sitting up straighter the leather of the cushion crackling under him as it shifted against the pants of his hero costume. His hair wasn't even in a disastrous bun, it was tangled, dried in slightly matted waves courtesy of the rain. "It's not really your fault," he said.

"You're just saying that," said Aizawa. "I made an assumption about Chainsaw's quirk," there were footsteps and voices in the hallway. Aizawa continued, "And assumptions get you killed."

Hizashi just nodded, the line of his mouth tight.

Aizawa continued, his upper body twitched, he tightened his hands into fists and braced them by his side. "Fuck," he said, and squirmed wincing from the open stitches. "It feels like my body's on fucking fire. I can't, I can't erase it."

“That’s what his quirk does,” said Hizashi, clicking the pieces together.

"Yeah," said Aizawa. "I think it's still on me somehow... I feel like," he stopped. "I feel like an alien."

Hizashi laughed, a little sharp- it echoed in the room. "Nice choice of words, Eraser."

"Whatever," said Aizawa, he pushed one foot across the tile floor, feeling how cold it was across the bottom of his foot. His toe knocked against the water bottle. He sat up straighter, sliding up on the cushions and not caring what his hospital gown decided to do as he leaned forward to wrap his fingers around the water bottle.

“Yo don't,” said Hizashi trailing off when Aizawa sat back up, already opening the bottle. “You're gonna fuck those stitches up even more.”

Aizawa just glared at him, hand shaking as he drank from the bottle, fast and sloppy like the water was the only thing that could free him from the heat entrenched in his bones.

“I don't care,” said Aizawa crushing the now empty water bottle. And setting it down next to him.

“That's obvious,” said Hizashi, his usual sarcastic bite not tied to his words- instead it was almost monotone, like Hizashi's attention had drifted off somewhere else.

Both of them sat in the dark for a few seconds. Not looking at each other- eyes almost slipping closed in sleep. An avoided question floated between them. Aizawa felt it snare its way around his neck, tightening as Hizashi still didn't talk, his arms crossed, staring forward.

He had lied to Hizashi. But even he couldn't will himself to bring it up, as if it would shatter the air between them.

Aizawa spoke up first, voice trailing out from underneath his too quick breaths.

"How'd you get rid of it?" asked Aizawa. "You were under it too."

"I don't...," said Hizashi, "remember."

"So, it just goes away, huh?" Aizawa's voice sounded a little ragged- he sat close to Hizashi- the side of Aizawa's leg and body pressed up against him.

Hizashi felt so damn cold- like he was sharing space with a cadaver.

"I think it depends on the suggestion," said Hizashi. Hizashi shifted a bit- his leg pressed up against Aizawa's a little more. "What'd he tell you to do?"

Aizawa's leg shook against Hizashi, he was breathing way too fast. Hizashi looked over at him.

The water hadn't helped.

Aizawa could only think about how fucking hungry he must look. He was practically starving, and the meal he wanted sat right next to him. Sweat pooled under him- the pain across his abdomen only worsened.

"Uh," said Hizashi. He slipped away- standing, but slightly stooped a hand held out like Aizawa was a dog baring its canines at him. "I'm gonna grab someone, we need to get you back in bed."

"He told me to get...," Aizawa got trapped on the word, voice chattering as his teeth clacked together, hospital gown riding up even more.

Hizashi was already approaching the door, a nurse had popped in a chart in hand. They saw Hizashi heading for the door. Flicking on the lights exposed the scene, and Aizawa's empty bed.

A scowl twisted her face when she looked at Aizawa, Aizawa looked down at his stomach- more blood had collected there. He had stopped feeling it. He touched a hand against it like maybe that would bring the pain back to his consciousness.

With Hizashi's back to him, the nurse ducked out to get more help, Aizawa said, "He told me to ge...et f-fucked, Yamada."

Hizashi went stiff- his hands slightly raised and clawed out by his sides. He didn't whirl around- just froze up for a moment at Aizawa's words.

The nurses asked Hizashi to leave the room. Hands wrapped around Aizawa, this time different a little more weight behind their grip.

Aizawa didn't fight them off. Even though they didn't feel the same as Hizashi's. That shivering, slobbering, sweating, desperate part of Aizawa wanted Hizashi's hands on him again.

He watched Hizashi trail out into the blue light of the hallway, he didn't even look back. His focus swung like a pendulum, Hizashi’s receding silhouette bouncing across his vision.

Even as he was laid on the bed, pain ripping through where his stitches had torn open, he kept watching the blue hallway, hoping the light would be broken by Hizashi. But Hizashi didn't come back, not even once the nurses left. His stitches now cleaned and re-threaded.

Aizawa watched the blue light- shaking through the dark morning. Nemuri's phone pinged to life only once, a message from Hizashi. It rested on the nightstand by the bed- Aizawa's own phone long since lost.

He picked it up- squinting at the sticky note that had Nemuri's password.

Once he got the lock screen out of the way he read the message.

"Sorry," said Hizashi, without his usual energetic texting style. "I didn't want anything to happen that we'd both regret."

When Hizashi visited the next morning, he asked why Nemuri's phone was on the ground by the couch, a huge crack across the screen.

Aizawa just mumbled a response- caring more about how the blue sky framed Hizashi as he smiled and shook his head, setting Nemuri's cracked phone at the foot of the hospital bed.

Both of them still danced through the air around Aizawa’s dishonesty, neither finding it in them to touch down on it, or anything else left unsaid. As if doing so would burn them the second they did.

Chapter Text

6. Indigo, part 1

Almost two weeks out from the USJ incident, Aizawa still found his students’ handwriting a strain on his healing eyesight. He sighed, practically hunched over the desk to the point of pushing his nose up against the pre-term evaluation that barely brushed against the keyboard pushed towards the computer monitor.

“Careful, Aizawa,” started Kayama, a mug of morning tea in her hand, “Eating your students’ papers won't help you read them better.”

He turned his head. His face was still too close to Denki Kaminari's scrawled handwriting, the corner of his reading glasses clipped the computer desktop. They slid off his face as he sat back up- pen perched over the paper- he caught them with a hand, fingers deftly curling around the arms. The flimsy reading glasses gave the slightest creak in protest as he folded them down on the desktop.

He took a second to lace just the right amount of annoyance through his words, before saying them outloud. “Don't you all have anything better to do than eavesdrop and gossip all morning?”

“Not really, Eraser,” huffed out Vlad, his arms crossed and chin angled down. “We're all caught up, and watching you try to figure out how to use those reading glasses like they're some kind of alien tech is pretty entertaining.”

“Aw, but he took them off,” pouted Kayama, avoiding Aizawa's question and running a painted fingernail around the rim of her mug, “I liked them- Yamada made a good choice.”

“He took them from a hotel in Sapporo.” Aizawa hadn’t even asked. One day Hizashi dropped them off and left them there, no other explanation, his headphones on and already walking away. It took Aizawa confronting him after they remained the next three days. And later, at some point he’d put them on, and scowled when Hizashi caught him and grinned.

“He didn't choose anything,” said Aizawa. Not lingering on the pack of faculty long, he turned his attention back to the same sentence he'd been trying to read since he rolled in from a patrol that stretched far too long into the early morning.

“I can help you get better ones. Better than what you could swipe from a reception desk,” offered Ectoplasm, “I know a guy.”

“I know one too,” said Kayama, a hand wiggled her own red glasses. “Actually, all three of us can hook you up, Aizawa.”

Aizawa stopped again, he swiveled back to the side, but he looked past the other teachers his line of vision landed on Hizashi, who sat, totally unaware, headphones over his ears cancelling out the noise of the room with whatever music he was tapping the beat out to with his foot.

Kayama hummed, following Aizawa's gaze.

Hizashi glanced up for a second, eyes flicking between them both.

He'd been doing that for the past hour, Aizawa would glance over and catch Hizashi watching. And everytime, totally caught in the act, Hizashi would smile, sheepishly wave, and then look back down at his papers- pen flying across the page, almost out of place, sitting at the farthest possible computer monitor from the entrance to the teacher lounge.

In fact, he had been doing it for longer than just the past hour. Aizawa couldn’t count on two hands the amount of times Hizashi had virtually spied on him since USJ.

“He probably could do better than bagging you free glasses, Aizawa.” Nemuri’s voice dropped as she stealthily pointed towards Hizashi with one of the fingers she had curled around her mug.

Aizawa could have sworn he caught Hizashi's pen pause. But otherwise Hizashi didn't show any signs of having heard the conversation change its direction towards him.

“It doesn't matter to me. It's just temporary anyway,” Kayama gave him a small smile after he said that. He turned back towards the desk, jaw already hurting from the amount of times he’d been biting down a little too hard, gritting his teeth, a tension that was starting to become less isolated and more widespread as the morning ticked on.

It was only temporary, he thought as he slid the glasses back on. “I don’t need anything fancy- just something for the moment.”

“Keep telling yourself that,” Vlad growled out from where he sat to Aizawa's left at the computers. “And you'll end up with bad vision like the rest of us, permanently.”

“I'm sure that's a slim possibility at best,” said Ectoplasm.

Vlad just puffed out a breath in retort.

Aizawa grit his teeth, he leaned a little closer to his paper.

The glasses weren't working, none of this was. He'd read the sentence at least ten times now- he just needed silence.

Ever since he'd gotten his head bashed into concrete he hadn't been able to find a moment of quiet, not even when he was alone- his own thoughts, rattling, buzzing, digging in like the ghostly impressions of fingers wrapped around his skull and a lingering weight over the back of his hips and the small of his back.

Even Hizashi was quiet- and while that would normally unnerve Aizawa, it'd been happening often enough the last week and a half, that he didn't question the change in Hizashi's routine.

In fact, he appreciated it.

He never liked being behind, and he certainly was when it came to his duties as a teacher. What he needed was to catch up, even if that small rational part of him whispered that making a headway on grading wouldn't snap away the haunting pain that curled its way around his elbow or solve the bills looming over him like a guillotine ready to strike as he itched for not only a return to his regular patrol schedule, but an insurance pay out.

Turning his attention back to Kayama he asked, “Can you all find something better to do than talk?”

“Sure, sure, Aizawa. Anyone want more tea?” asked Kayama standing up.

Vlad and Ectoplasm grumbled that they wanted some, and all of them stood to shuffle over to the open style break room adjacent to the computer room. Both a little too slow at taking the hint that Kayama wanted to move them away from Aizawa.

Kayama hesitated, hovering by Aizawa's chair. She put a hand on his shoulder.

He tried not to flinch at the contact.

She slid her hand away almost immediately, “You want any, Aizawa? I know you've not gotten much sleep since you started transitioning back into patrols and since…”

“I'm fine,” he said, tilting his head to look up at her, a weight sinking in his chest as her blue eyes scanned his face. Her expression appeared muddy from behind the reading glasses, but he still clutched onto the way her mouth slipped into a frown at the corner.

“Aw, those really make your ‘I’m lying’ face seem so full of young rebellious spirit,” she patted a hand on the desk by his elbow. “I'll make you a cup.”

As she started to walk away, Aizawa shot over his shoulder with a little bite, “Just leave my cup in the kettle. We're not supposed to have that stuff near the computers.”

“Bah, you're like the only faculty who follows that rule, Eraser,” boomed Vlad's voice from behind him.

“I don't even follow it,” said Ectoplasm, voice low and deep, a chuckle chasing his words. “And I'm a stickler.”

“I don't care what you choose to do personally besides being quiet,” said Aizawa, facing the darkened computer monitor again. “And what I don't understand is how that is so hard for you Pros who are supposedly good at your jobs.”

“Oh, come on boys, cut Aizawa some slack. We'll be quiet, and if you're not I'll whip you both back into silence.” The sound of Kayama running the tap wasn't loud enough to drown out the awkward shuffling of soft indoor slippers as both Ectoplasm and Vlad fell into a reluctant quiet.

Finally, Aizawa got what he wanted.

He glanced just one more time over at Hizashi. Green eyes stared back at him.

Hizashi didn't have on his glasses today. He hadn't for three days now, just a series of healing cuts on his cheek, another slashed across the bridge of his nose, accented by an almost indigo bruise that carved a crescent under one eye.

All a poor substitute for the orange-tinted glass.

Hizashi's gaze quickly darted back down, pen in action again, one hand perched beside the ear piece of far too shitty headphones, a distinct downgrade from the his usual hero gear.

Not catching Hizashi’s eyes again, Aizawa returned his attention to his own task. Shoulders still coiled tightly as he trailed the red pen down the page.

Aizawa was aware of that he was asking for too much from his fellow faculty, but as long as the silence lasted he was able to at least get to Kaminari’s next main idea on the pre-eval essay. It was just inevitable that as soon as he started to pick apart some threads of coherency, the whispering that had kicked up behind him bled into full blown talking.

There was the clink of a mug being set down on the counter. “Ach, watching that clip makes me so uncomfortable,” said Vlad.

“I agree,” Aizawa's pen paused at Ectoplasm’s words.

He wormed his fingers under his glasses, unseating them to pinch at the bridge of his nose and leaned back a bit from his vulture-like stoop over his grading.

“I think it's necessary,” said Kayama.

“I have to disagree, I don't think it's appropriate,” said Ectoplasm, his voice a little louder.

“How else would the safety commission get public support for a raid so close to USJ?”

“Hm,” said Vlad. “Ya got a point, Midnight, but it's over-sensationalized I mean their whole careers are shot to shit. This stuff's pretty fuc-messed up.”

“Yeah, Kan, what isn't over-sensationalized these days…”

Vlad made a noise that could've been a grunt in agreement.

“I just can’t believe this is happening right after,” Nemuri's voice was almost a whisper- concealing carefully her last word.

“Guess All Might can't even crush a roach like Toxic Chainsaw,” growled out Vlad.

Aizawa clacked his pen down against the desktop, dropping it like it was hot iron against his fingertips.

He had all intentions of pushing back around just to glare them all back into silence. But as he turned he caught Hizashi staring at him, and stopped dead in the middle of swinging around in his chair. The man was already standing and sliding his papers back into his file folder, his headphones still on.

There was a stiffness trapped in Hizashi's movements. A scowl twisted at his eyebrows as he tugged his headphones down, took one last sip from his mug, and bundled the file folder in his arms.

He wasn't looking at Aizawa, instead he watched the gaggle of faculty in the joint break room. Dangling by his side was his leather backpack. Th top strap hooked in the same fingers that held the folder.

There was something acidic in his green eyes, perhaps Aizawa would have ventured into what it was, but he had more pressing material to decipher.

“Heading for homeroom already, Yamada?”

This wasn't Aizawa's business.

He pushed the glasses up a little higher and went back to hovering his pen over Kaminari’s lopsided sentences.

“Sheesh, you've got like a half hour, Mic,” said Vlad.

“That's not much time, King,” he said, voice leaping up but not edged in its usual enthusiasm. “Just need to get these English plans hammered out for the young listeners.”

“Were you not able to find the answers on the internet?”

Hizashi drew air through his teeth in a short hiss, and Aizawa could imagine him jumping his hand through the air as he spoke. “I just want to see if the library might have a better answer.”

Aizawa tried not to let his grimace take over his whole body at the airy tone of the words.

He'd heard Yamada lie before, and this sounded like an eerily similar punch to the gut. If he'd been facing them they would've caught onto his discomfort, but instead, the computer screen was the only witness to his expression.

”Have fun, we'll keep an eye on Aizawa for you,” said Nemuri, her voice was playful and light, a welcome contrast to Hizashi's almost clipped tone.

Aizawa whipped around in his chair, mostly to defend himself. “He's not my-”

“I'm not his-” started Hizashi at the same time. Hizashi’s gaze dragged over to Aizawa, both of them a little wide eyed, but neither tried to over-step the other.

Hizashi curved his fingers through the air, his eyes left Aizawa to tilt his head towards a watching Nemuri. “I'm not his keeper, yo.”

“I agree,” Aizawa crossed his arms, the entire scene a little off focus from the reading glasses.

“Oh, sure,” Aizawa despised how unconvinced Nemuri sounded. “Well anyways have fun, Yamada.”

“You gonna be there Monday, Mic?” Vlad asked catching Hizashi at the sliding door.

“Yeah, yeah, I will.” Hizashi really wasn't keen on sticking around.

Aizawa couldn't help the frown that tugged at his mouth. The way Hizashi had rushed out left a sour aftertaste.

“Seems to be in a bit of a mood,” said Ectoplasm, his phone out and scrolling absently as he leaned against the counter next to Vlad.

Nemuri shrugged, she took a sip- “Probably just busy. He's got way too much on his plate.”

“Unlike the rest of you apparently,” growled out Aizawa, slowly trailing back around to face the computer again. He picked up his pen.

“I take offense to that,” said Vlad.

Aizawa just lifted a hand, lazily dismissing Vlad's words with a wave.

“Yo, Eraser,” Vlad barreled into a conversation with Aizawa despite the obvious disinterest from his colleague.

Aizawa swore some heroes would talk to a brick wall if it meant hearing themselves blather on.

“Please just talk amongst yourse-” started Aizawa.

Vlad interrupted him, probably overeager with the knowledge that Aizawa was willing to respond. “You going to the raid meeting Monday? Or do they still got you sprung out on hero work?”

“Yeah,” said Nemuri, answering for him. He was silently grateful. “Aizawa’s back on patrol, he's probably signed up for a seat through his agency.”

“You're right,” said Aizawa, voice low, not engaging beyond that.

Shit, where was he again with this paragraph?

He stopped trying to smash the text into his face and held the paper up and out over the computer monitor in front of him as he narrowed his eyes.

“Kinda wish I could go now,” chuckled Vlad.

“Is that why you keep asking about it?” Ectoplasm's tone was beyond unimpressed.

“Aw, don't worry Kan I'll fill you in on all the juicy details.” The way Kayama said juicy gave Aizawa pause. He mouthed the phrase, trapped on her word choice instead of anything more important.

Alright, it was final. He couldn't focus here.

He still had twenty minutes to spare plenty of time to find somewhere actually quiet and get a lead on his grading.

Setting the paper down he stood up, slow, a little rigid, it was strange how even just sitting in one place felt like more than enough strain on his body- the bruises on his side from his patrol weren't doing any wonders either. Only giving this morning even more barbs to snag and irritate the edges of his patience.

“If I'm being honest,” said Aizawa, concentrating on bundling his papers together. He stashed the pen in his pocket. “None of you should be talking about this so openly. And I hope Vlad hears nothing about the raid. That's a direct violation of the conditions pros sign on under.”

“Sheesh, Eraser- you'd have to live under a rock to not know the focus is Toxic Chainsaw.”

That name flying off Vlad's tongue sped up Aizawa's actions. He shoved the neat stack of papers in the sleeping bag he had slung over the back of his chair. His phone, untouched and a virtual comfort blanket at this point, followed.

He almost forgot to take off his reading glasses, turning around to find the scene a little messy, he pushed them up through his hairline hooking them in his sloppy bangs.

With his sleeping bag bundled up and held under one arm he addressed all of them, “Just be responsible pro heroes,” and adults thought Aizawa. “Don't talk about it anymore. Or at the very least, don’t talk about it around me. I'm not opposed to going through the formal procedures to make sure sensitive information is kept confidential.”

“Typical class A killjoy attitude,” Vlad ground out the words as Aizawa went to make his exit.

“Hey wait, Aizawa,” said Nemuri, finally breaking the pensive silence she had fallen into. “You want to take some tea with you? The water's still hot I could pour you some.”

“No,” said Aizawa.

“I'll just leave it in the kettle for you, feel free to grab it before homeroom,” she cooed to him as he slid the door shut. “Sorry for disturbing your work, Aizawa.” She offered the apology seconds before the door was totally closed.

Aizawa barely registered it.

As he walked, sleeping bag in hand he reasoned with himself. His goal was to find a place to grade, even if he only got through Kaminari’s paper.

It was imperative he fix the damage Yagi had inflicted on his grading system before his students progressed into the rest of the year, the greatest risk was that they would become lazy with the knowledge they would be graded leniently.

Aizawa couldn't have that, not from hero hopefuls.

Twenty minutes was plenty of time to find a spot. A spot that would loosen the whiplash tension in his neck. He wanted to banish that feeling. Even for a moment. He knew the perfect place. And there would be no threat of unintentional eavesdropping- no names or questions hot on everyone's lips.

Nothing directed at him, just the sun and silence- and twenty odd minutes to spare finally at peace.

His phone pinged as he left the side door of one of Yuuei’s arms. Leaving the main building, he walked along the forest on the west side. Warblings watched him ignore the message notifications escaping the thick fabric of his sleeping bag from the treetops. Their white-edged eyes tracked him as he took the walkway towards the greenhouse nestled on the outside of Yuuei's main building. It was a sturdy structure- a white tent-like hallway leading into a glass-roofed pyramid. As he grew closer the walkway gradually became edged with more flowers. Creeping, lopsided bushes cast their looping vines beneath his socks.

Sweat prickled under his capture scarf as he ducked under the pitched overhang leading up to the greenhouse entrance. Even outside the door, the air was already humid and heavy, the hearty smell of wet soil curled itself around Aizawa, almost comforting- to him it smelled like the rain on the steps of a secluded shrine.

A place buried in his childhood memories.

His phone pinged again as he squinted, trying hard to not mess up swiping his access card.

He couldn't exactly check his messages- whoever was emailing him must've forgot the memo that when it came to electronic screens, his eyes were temporarily out for the count.

Stepping into the greenhouse was like being plunged underwater- sounds muffled, the air hung like a heavy curtain- humid and perfectly drowning out Aizawa's senses. Only the pet projects of the Support students, and the lush hydrangeas of general studies surrounded him. The sun, early morning and bright, slashed across the mist. Exposing it where it hung in the air.

He let his feet guide him pacing through his highschool memory of the greenhouse while he clutched onto the sleeping bag. He found himself meandering towards the edge, the farthest spot from the door.

Slightly off center. Somewhere he could watch the way in and out while he worked through the essays.

There was a nice spot near the newly potted hydrangeas- these hadn't yet been added to the rest of the collection, they were a different shade from the soft reds and blues that lined the greenhouse, instead they were indigo, a royal purple- a color that snaked around Aizawa’s heart for a moment.

It was the same color painted under Hizashi’s eye.

Aizawa would need to tell him to be more careful on hero patrols. That is if he got the chance.

It didn’t help that while Hizashi hovered, he’d been keeping a wide berth, conversations short, curt, or always about something that never really mattered.

Hizashi had always been good at wasting Aizawa’s time, but lately he’d become an expert at it. As if actually talking to Aizawa about anything serious would be like forcing Hizashi to swallow hot coals.

Aizawa bundled his sleeping bag on the ground, tugging out the pen, phone, and essays before smoothing it out even more, and coiling it into a makeshift bed. He fussed over the little nest he made surrounded by clay pots and bags of soil. A wilted flycatcher threatened to itch at his elbow as he braced himself against the wood board propped against the hydrangea filled display table.

He crossed his ankles, dirt covered socks glaring back up at him. He hadn't bothered to take his indoor slippers out from under the computer desktop he’d kicked them off under. They weren't the only thing that was dirty. He’d wash both his socks and the sleeping bag (eventually).

He leaned back, closed his eyes for a second, the morning sun shyly tricking through the glass roof.

When he opened them again he was already reaching to drag the papers onto his lap. Pen in hand. He took a moment to look back up at the sky, clouds drifting by, white wine stains creeping over the blue curtain sky.

It was a warm spot indeed.

So warm that he knocked his head back against the board, pen perched in his hand, glasses in his hair, pushing and prodding into the wood board.

He closed his eyes, just briefly, the warblings just barely audible.

And woke up long after his start-of-homeroom alarm went off. He blinked, small at first, as disoriented as resurfacing from anesthesia- time a little loose at first. He could track when he closed his eyes, but nothing in between. The longer he dwelled on it the more the uncertainty pricked tack points across his skin.

His back felt stiffer than when he'd first sat down. He peeled himself away from the board when he heard a meow.

Glancing up, the sun struck through the glass roof, harsh, and bristling with a high noon heat.

His glasses fell forward as he angled his chin down and tried to get a better look at the direction of the meow. They clattered away from his hair, and onto the papers still in his lap.

A calico peered back at him from behind the unplugged circle fan across the way. The calico stalked forward. Slow, head slightly stooped. Watching Aizawa warily, as she approached.

He looked up towards the glass ceiling again. “There goes my morning-” he sighed out.

Across his lap the papers were strewn about, some shifted spilling off. His pen long since scattered and his reading glasses straddled over his socked feet. The remnants of restless sleep.

He might as well do something productive now that he was left awake and dangerously close to Lunch Rush.

He picked up the glasses, hooked them back onto his face. And just as he reached for the pen, the calico bounded forward and crawled right into his lap.

She roamed in a circle, pushed her head against one of the hands that he now held up and away from her. The calico turned again and he paused. She nudged a nose at a paper then plopped down.

Aizawa slowly grabbed the collar around her neck, he inched the tag around so he could read it. A knuckle pushed at his glasses, keeping them from slipping as he narrowed his eyes.

“Oi,” he said as he dropped the tag, “You're too friendly to be pest control.” He cocked his head and pushed a little bit at her side. Just a gentle prod on her side, bereft of any serious intentions of pushing her from his lap.

Nezumi-tori's ear twitched as she curled her tail tighter- not budging. She sat her chin down on the papers, firmly claiming her place. They crinkled, like dry grass brushing together in a harsh wind.

Aizawa's phone pinged- “Sheesh,” he said, finally picking it up where it lay next to the flycatcher’s painted pot. He squinted, held it way too close to his face.

He moved it aside when he heard a mewl. Nezumi-tori had twisted her head around to look up at him.

“Like you could read it any better,” said Aizawa.

Emi's name swirled around the screen. He couldn't tell if she had called or emailed- but notifications from her were stacked up among others- little urgent blocks on his screen.

He stretched his arm out, looking over his glasses- hoping maybe he could take advantage of his far-sighted vision to see. Just as he had got the screen to focus some the outer doors to the greenhouse beeped as someone patched through with their Yuuei ID. He quickly dropped his arm, in favor of surveying the entrance.

Aizawa could see Hizashi, a blurry mess with too tall blond hair, awkwardly shuffling behind the strip door dangling in front of the outer doors. There was a beat before Hizashi pushed aside the vinyl sheets hanging down from the low rafters and waterlines. As if he was trapped between stalking back outside and continuing inside.

Aizawa hooked his glasses on his collar as Hizashi stepped onto the concrete, boots creeping around fallen dirt and vines that had twisted out of control.

With Hizashi pacing around the hydrangeas, Aizawa couldn't get a good reading on his expression. Mentally he stood upstream, trying to net anything tangible in Hizashi's green coated eyes.

When he finally saw Aizawa sitting on the ground, Nezumi-tori in his lap- he tried to contain the huge grin that crossed his face.

He cleared his throat, and sat down in front of Aizawa. The overflow of potted hydrangeas surrounded them. Hizashi adjusted a manila folder in his lap, hands curling around a photo tacked to the front side.

"Skipping out on lunch," said Aizawa, stashing his phone in the outermost hip pocket of his utility belt.

Hizashi's eyes darted to the space under Aizawa's eye. His gaze lingered there- and Aizawa fought the urge to put a hand over the fresh scar.

He held off, his arm just twitched.

That scar didn't matter, it was just the fallout of Chiyo going overboard with her treatments.

“Skipping out on teaching?” asked Hizashi. “This is just more ammo for my argument that you’re the worst teacher at Yuuei.”

“At least I’m more observant. If you had disappeared I would’ve known where to look.”

“I did,” said Hizashi, voice and smile dropping, he squirmed his fingers around the shitty headphones around his neck. The wire dangling down the front of his shirt swayed with the movement. “I came in as soon as your students got ahold of Vlad King about your absence during homeroom, I let Nezu know you were here so any students working in the greenhouse would avoid you.”

“I knew that you came by,” said Aizawa the lie juggled like glass shards on his tongue. His hands wrapped in fists at Nezumi-tori’s sides.

He'd left himself be vulnerable- the feeling was like fingers tracing their way around the back of his skull. The fact that people had been milling about him all morning while he was unaware sat with him about as well as a live wire against the skin.

“Why didn't you wake me up?” asked Aizawa, needling his anxiety towards Hizashi. “You’re the reason I missed my classes.”

“Oiii, I didn’t make you fall asleep. You do that on your own.”

“But you could’ve woken me up.” That would’ve made sense.

“Yo, you need the sleep,” said Hizashi. “You looked kinda peaceful…” Hizashi at least had the tact to go quiet.

“Did someone-”

“Yeah,” Hizashi waved a hand, “Your classes were covered.”

“Just in time.” Usually Aizawa would juggle one of two options during Lunch Rush, sleep or grade.

Aizawa grabbed for the papers, unorganized and spilling over his lap and the floor from where he’d slightly shifted in his uncomfortable sleeping position.

He caught the corner of the folder in his peripheral, and trailed his eyes up to where Hizashi had moved his hand away.

A picture was clipped to the front, there was a student with indigo hair- almost familiar.

Absentmindedly, Aizawa gathered the papers in a sloppy stack, eyes still glued on the picture. The reading glasses hooked on his collar, his hand drifted towards them.

Hizashi raised an eyebrow and looked down.
Aizawa hadn't realized he'd started leaning forward trying to see it until Nezumi-tori squeezed her way off his lap, freeing herself from the papers and the pen poking her in the chest fur. She pushed up and slipped off his legs, rubbing a cheek against the hydrangeas by Aizawa’s knees as she watched the both of them with green eyes.

Hizashi unclipped the photo. “You probably can't see it that well,” he handed the photo to Aizawa.

Aizawa could just barely make it out.

He held the photo out and up just like he had been doing with his phone.

Hizashi trailed his eyes up to look at it too- the tall crest of his hair tilting.

“Is that Shinso?” asked Aizawa.

“Yeah,” said Hizashi, way too excited throwing his hands up with the folder. He looked like he just celebrated a winning goal. “Guess your vision and memory aren't that bad, yo.”

He winked, and Aizawa shoved the picture back towards Hizashi not acknowledging the strike to his healing body and mind. “What's the big deal?” he said, eyes tracing the yellow sun cutting across Hizashi's cheek and laced across his stiff hair.

“Do you remember his performance?”

“Yeah he was the…” Aizawa paused, he'd been looking over at Nezumi-tori who was licking a paw.

He looked up at Hizashi, he met green eyes- something liquefied in them, a lulling current pushing the words right out of his head and downriver.

“The brainwasher,” supplied Hizashi in the wake of Aizawa's silence. His eyes lit up, his legs bounced a little bit.

Aizawa continued his own phrase, “The general studies student. He lost,” the words came out with clipped wings.

Hizashi's energy drained right out of him. “Listen, listen, yo,” he said, casually patting Aizawa on the knee.

Aizawa looked at where Hizashi's hand had been like it had left a burn mark through his pants.

“Okay, I already was,” Aizawa crossed his arms. The skin on his elbow stung- it was still sensitive even after it had scarred over.

“I've been working with him,” said Hizashi.

“Mic-”

“Whoa, hold the lecture, Eraser and let me finish!” said Hizashi holding both his hands up, the folder like a makeshift stop sign trussed between them. “I've just been seeing where he is with his quirk. But I think,”

Hizashi paused here, voice dropping down he sat the folder back down in his lap. His fingers trailed around the edges of the folder, picking at a furled corner like he was trying to piece together how to finish his sentence. Green eyes met Aizawa's. “I really think understanding his quirk might be important.”

“Our students are not science experiments.”

“It's for him too,” said Hizashi, his words a little rushed, tripping over them as he stumbled trying to make Aizawa understand. “He wants to transfer out of General Studies.”

Hizashi held up two fingers, a thumb and his pointer finger. He pulled his thumb back in, “Train him to use his quirk well enough for him to transfer.” Then his pointer followed, “and use the opportunity to understand how to break free of a mind control quirk.”

Aizawa scowled, Hizashi's words dumped over him like ice water.

Hizashi got no real response. Just Aizawa’s unchanging scowl, as he gripped his arms a little tighter and leaned back into the board.

Hizashi barreled into his next words, as Aizawa dipped his chin down into his scarf. “Yo, don't get me wrong, I wouldn't bring this to you unless I had a reason, wouldn't want to waste your time, Eraser.”

“Then why bring it up to me?”

“I think you need to train him.”

“No,” said Aizawa.

“Ahh, come on you say no right off the bat. Think about it.”

“I did and it's..., a bad idea. He's leagues behind my hero students, and being with 1-B won't help with his bitterness. The semester has just begun, and already those kids have had to do what most heroes don't face even ten years into their career. I'm not about to put a kid in a situation where there's no chance to climb their way up. I'm not cruel.”

“It's not just for him,” said Hizashi.

“Then what is your true motive?”

“Toxic Chainsaw,” said Hizashi, blurting the name out- his face was a little red, almost beginning to match the permanent flush to his eyes. But after saying the name his expression bottomed out, watching Aizawa like he’d just prodded a hungry bear with a stick.

Aizawa snapped up, he went to stand. “I'm out,” he said, planning on leaving Hizashi hanging.

He could just get his sleeping bag later.

Hizashi grabbed his wrist, Aizawa's eyes flared red- instinctual, a reflex meant to banish whatever the hell was on him with a warning.

Hizashi's hand let go and flew to his throat.

With his wrist free Aizawa just stood there. He let Hizashi free from his quirk.

He didn't want to sit back down, just wanted to leave. But something bubbled up in his veins as Hizashi coughed, not making eye contact with Aizawa.

“What the fuck is your motive?” asked Aizawa.

“I told you,” said Hizashi, voice leaping up rattling the glass panels on the roof.

“You told me and I don't get it.”

Hizashi scrambled up wrapping a hand around Aizawa's forearm he said, “Hey, it's okay, Eraser.”

Aizawa wrenched his arm away, “Let go of me,” he hissed the words out grabbing for his scarf, like he was ready to wield it.

“Why are you scared of training him?”

“I'm not,” he bit the words out, they felt like tacks dripping from his mouth. “I just think it's a bad idea. With-…”

Where the hell were the rest of his words?

Hizashi just nodded, holding the folder close to the front of his leather jacket. “Okay.”

Aizawa's eyes darted over to his sleeping bag. He walked over kneeled- as he dusted dirt off the yellow he didn't look back at Hizashi.

He knew the man was still at his heels, hovering over him, beside him, watching him.

Aizawa paused, he looked over at Hizashi and sighed. “How would this help?”

“With whom, Toxic or Shinsou?” asked Hizashi settling back down on the ground where he'd been.

Aizawa was on his knees, he slumped back settling on his legs- sleeping bag loosely in his hands. “How would this help with Toxic Chainsaw?”

His eyes traced over the wilted flycatcher. After the name slipped past his lips it settled like a curse around the back of his neck. He rubbed a hand a hand over the spot. “I just don't understand,” trapped under his breath,”It's like no one has the decency to shut up about him today.”

“Have you watched the news?”

“No,” said Aizawa. Even if he could properly see the screen, he didn't want to watch his own failure smeared across every channel. He hadn't watched the news for almost two weeks now, he was completely lost on any updates sent to his phone either.

His sleeping bag was almost rolled up, he tightened his grip on it.

Aizawa looked over at Hizashi when he didn't get an answer. His own hands paused on the sleeping bag.

Hizashi pursed his lips eyes darting over Aizawa calculating his words carefully, “All Might didn't get a good enough hit on Toxic.”

The energy zapped out of Aizawa. He uncurled his legs, sleeping bag in hand he sat back against the wood board he'd been asleep on.

It was still warm.

He pulled his knees up, the rolled up sleeping bag between his body and legs.

“You've signed up for the raid team, so you know there's something happening at least,” said Hizashi.

The computer room talk swam back to the forefront of Aizawa's mind. “I'm aware. I figured I would just be filled in on Monday. No need chasing after info that NHK probably twisted just to get more hits. Or worse yet, risking word of the raid plans ending up as gossip between villains.”

“Well regardless, I think they're going about it all wrong.” A passionate upkick rooted itself in Hizashi's words. “They have no idea, and if we understood more about his quirk then we could-”

“Could beat him? Be more efficient? Stop throwing darts at a proverbial wall.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“However, I don't disagree with you. It would make sense to try and understand his quirk as more than a loose concept before going into a raid.”

Hizashi went tight-lipped, “That's why I signed up. Perhaps if they had insight from previous victims that would mix up their approach.”

Aizawa crossed his arms resting them over the sleeping bag perched across his knees. “I had the same intention.”

His fingers twisted in the wire chord of the shitty headphones. “You really haven't watched the news…”

“I don’t bother with it. I prefer receiving information from more reliable sources.”

“Huh,” mumbled Hizashi, growing so quiet Aizawa wanted to pull the words right back out of him.

“I'll train Shinso,” said Aizawa, looking straight forward- red hydrangeas swimming over the center of his vision, indigos encroaching on his peripheral as Hizashi swallowed up the center.

Aizawa tapped his head against the wood board for a moment. He set the sleeping bag next to him, positioned his legs in a criss cross sit, and pushed back towards the wooden board.

Hizashi zapped back to life, finally filling the silence starting to buzz at the fringes of Aizawa's sanity. “Yo, really?”

“Yes,” said Aizawa, eyes slipping shut. “What should I know?”

“I brought the details,” Hizashi slapped the folder against one hand. Aizawa cracked open an eye watching Hizashi open it up.

It was a different file from the one he’d had this morning. “There’s not much you need to know, really…”

“Just give me the most important.”

“Well his name is Shins-”

“Mic, be serious. We both oversaw the first years at the sports festival,” Aizawa grumbled out.

Nezumi-tori who’d been inching back towards Aizawa paused, the hair starting to rise on her back.

“Okay, okay,” Hizashi flipped a page over the folder. He ran a finger over the page. “So he’s doing really well in his classes, good enough for the transfer to be approved. Granted they are general studies courses, but if he can do well in those he can handle hero coursework.”

“What about the more physical courses.”

“Uh, general PE…” said Hizashi, “It’s his only below average grade.”

“How do you even perform below average in PE?”

Hizashi shrugged, “The young listener is capable- I’ve had him doing some endurance training.” Aizawa raised his eyebrows, “But not too much, he’s not a hero student, nor have I even asked for Nezu’s permission to have him officially start training to transfer.”

“Why don’t you just continue training him then? It seems he can work with you.”

Hizashi closed the folder, “To be totally honest, I think our personalities clash.”

“I can’t imagine why,” said Aizawa, huffing the phrase out like he’d been holding his breath.

“Plus you inspire him,” Hizashi’s words slipped out smooth as honey, said simply despite the gravity they possessed.

Aizawa felt his face get a little hot, a smile touched down on Hizashi’s lips.

“Why?” asked Aizawa, the question crashing out immediately.

“I told him you had been a general studies student too. He’s an even bigger Eraserhead fan now.”

“I don’t have fans.”

“Hey! You’ve got one,” said Hizashi holding up a finger. Then he pointed towards his own face, “Or maybe two.” Hizashi winked as soon as the words died off.

Aizawa tried to hide his expression in his scarf.

Hizashi waved his hands up and down in tandem, fingers brushing through the air between them, as if trying to dismiss what he just saw. He rested a hand on the side of his face, casually propping his head up by an elbow on his knee.

“Yo, no matter how many times I do that you still react the same.” It was like Hizashi had stumbled upon a fascinating scene, like a fairy circle hidden in the woods, and tried to loosely piece it into words for someone who hadn’t been there.

“Just get to the point,” said Aizawa, his chin still tucked into his scarf as Nezumi-tori climbed back in his lap.

“Well,” Hizashi dragged the word out, his usual energy plucking him back up so he sat up straight. “He doesn’t need someone like me training him anyway.”

“Just another hero with a flashy quirk?”

“Yeah!” Hizashi enthusiastically agreed with Aizawa, voice bounding up to shake at the roof panels. “He’s got a vendetta against flashy quirks. Come to think of it, he's a lot like you when you were younger, Eraser.”

“Hm,” hummed out Aizawa as he rested his head back against the wood. He slipped his eyes shut, soaking in the last of the sun.

There was a scuffling in front of him. Aizawa cracked open an eye when something just tapped against his knee. Hizashi had scooted closer, the folder sat to the side and no longer in his lap. One of Hizashi’s knees barely brushed Aizawa’s.

Aizawa watched Hizashi’s hand hover over a pot of hydrangeas next to them. He plucked an indigo flower, gently, just barely pulling. A little smirk hooked at a corner of his mouth, he leaned forward and tucked the flower into Aizawa’s scarf.

Both of Aizawa’s eyes were open now. He lifted his head up from the board and fixed Hizashi with a less than impressed stare.

“What’re you doing?” he asked.

Hizashi was silent as he picked another flower. He tucked this one a little higher up on Aizawa’s scarf.

Tracing the movement, Aizawa moved his hand up to grab it, his hands hovered over it like there was a wasp trapped in his scarf. Fingers not brushing it, hesitant, like if he did the petals would sting him.

Hizashi pouted, eyes too big and green for Aizawa to ignore. He could never read him as well with the contacts in, the spirals mostly obscured by normal shaped pupils, blocked by a false iris.

Aizawa’s hand stopped, it had just barely brushed against the petals. “Alright, fine,” he said, sighing the words out.

Hizashi already had another flower plucked, deftly sliding into the tangles of Aizawa’s hair.

Aizawa stayed very still, not even breathing as if it would shatter the moment they were both trapped in.

“It feels like USJ was years ago,” said Hizashi, his tone fringed in stinging nettles. His own words turning on him, sharpened as soon as they hit the air.

Finished tucking the flower near Aizawa’s ear, he let his hand fall. It just rested on Aizawa’s forearm, Hizashi’s fingers angled towards Aizawa’s injured elbow.

It was there for a second, and Aizawa’s mind was consumed by the contact. And then it was gone.

Hizashi’s fingers gently cradled another flower.

Hizashi wasn't weak, that was evident in the way his leather jacket tightened across his upper arm as he took the flower to hold it in front of himself. Aizawa couldn't help tracking the contrast in front of him. His hands belonged to a body trained and capable of inflicting damage. And his fingertips clutched under the plucked stem of a hydrangea. Holding it, far too soft and careful to match the memories of deep cuts etched across Hizashi’s fingers.

“Yeah,” said Aizawa, breathing out the words as Hizashi slotted the flower into his scarf. “I don’t want to admit it, but I feel the same.”

It was strange having already healed scars and bones. Any place else, any other time he'd still be in a hospital bed. A machine helping him breathe, half slipped into a coma. Yet he walked around like he hadn't been one more slam into the concrete away from death.

It was surreal.

Maybe he wanted to see if time would help him heal. Now he felt like it was outside of his right to even talk about the attack. USJ was still salient and hot on society’s lips.

But not in the way Aizawa wanted it to be.

It was just another cool fight to fawn over. All Might coming to save the day again. It was unfortunate that Aizawa didn't feel saved. He was trapped in a body that was already healed, the rest of him struggling to catch up.

Hizashi continued to pluck flowers from the hydrangea, he would turn the petals over green eyes searching over them, then flitting up to Aizawa- considering how to arrange this next flower.

With a choice made he would plant them on Aizawa. In his scarf in his hair, tight-lipped concentration smeared across his face the whole time, humming as he worked, his eyes melted of any harshness- a soft trance loosening the muted spirals.

Hizashi had just tucked a flower into the tangle of Aizawa's bangs. It fell down into Aizawa’s lap. Aizawa stared at it, the color glaring up at him a stark contrast to his pants.

As Aizawa looked down Hizashi broke the silence that had sprouted between them. “Is it cool if I?” asked Hizashi, question leaping up- his hand pulled away from where he'd placed a flower.

It lingered near Aizawa, and Hizashi laughed curling in his fingers. “Naw, that’s whack, nevermind,” he said as he moved to pull his hand away entirely.

His eyes met Aizawa's when fingers looped around his wrist.

“What?” asked Aizawa, as he held onto Hizashi. There was a different sensation curled across the back of his neck as he held on. It banished the dagger-like fingers of a phantom that constantly hovered over his skin.

Aizawa let go of Hizashi's hand, Hizashi pulled his hand away. It was quick, like a fish darting away from the side of a boat after being unhooked and tossed overboard.

“Don't put me on the spot, Eraser,” said Hizashi picking a flower. “This is embarrassing,” the words almost didn't tumble out of Hizashi’s mouth. His concentration allotted to the flower held between his fingers, pressing little crescent moons into the indigo petals with his nails.

“Oh, now you have to tell me what you were thinking.”

Hizashi fake pouted, eyes still stuck on the indigo flower, “I really don't.”

“You tell me yours, I'll tell you mine.”

Hizashi looked up, and Aizawa stashed the victory away in a trophy case he’d since learned to neglect.

“Sharing secrets,” Hizashi set the flower down on top of the yellow sleeping bag by Aizawa’s side. A tiny colorful blessing, “are we teenagers again?”

“Well, this is the secret sharing spot.”

“Was,” Hizashi pointed a finger at him and then made a sweeping gesture to the greenhouse around them. “I don’t know why too many bugs and dirt… “ Hizashi scanned the greenhouse as if looking for any hidden stragglers.

There's no one else there. Not now. The only company is the mist in the air, the fallen leaves curling on the ground and petals smashed into the concrete. And the sentry watchers, creeping winding leaf-covered vines inching towards the rafters and pipelines, swathed and painted in a frame of tie-dye flowers.

“It's a little different now,” said Hizashi, settling back on Aizawa again.

“So…,” said Aizawa, making sure to mimic the way Hizashi would obnoxiously drag out his words.

Hizashi leaned forward, as he spoke he created air quotes, voice dropping, “Isn’t this a ‘waste of your time’.”

“Already wasted my whole morning. What’s a little more? I’ve gotten used to having more time than I know what to do with. I can tell when a bad habit is forming, and getting regular sleep for the first time in-”

“Forever?”

“I guess,” he sighed, “Just spit it out.”

“Bwah, hey just like that, what’s with you being so pushy?! Ahhh, Eraser, what were you going to say? You didn’t even finish your sentence...”

Aizawa concentrated on petting Nezumi-tori, looking down at her, he couldn’t help but feel a warmth settle over him like a blanket. “Now you’re wasting my time,” he said, low and even.

“Come on!” Hizashi’s voice was starting to reach a fever pitch wine, Aizawa glanced up wondering if spider web cracks would start inching their way across the glass panels. “How do I even know if your secret is worth it?”

Aizawa shrugged, snaking his fingers under Nezumi-tori’s chin, she tilted her head up, eyes pressed closed.

“Yo, that’s some lousy incentive,” he pointed an accusing finger at Aizawa, before he retreated and readjusted his headphones.

“Fine,” said Aizawa, figuring he didn’t have much to lose, he was more interested in what Hizashi was hiding anyway. Perhaps, he could solve the mystery of why the blond was so banged up without aggressively questioning him. “I’ll tell first.”

 

Hizashi clapped his hands together, “I’m all ears,” he said.

It was astonishing how he could make even the simplest action so loud. Aizawa raised an eyebrow, partially regretting not just dismissing Hizashi and returning to grading.

“It’s not riveting, if that’s what you’re hoping for.”

Hizashi just nodded, too quick and fast and much, green eyes eager as he made a beckoning gesture.

Aizawa threaded his fingers under Nezumi-tori’s collar, he absently twisted it around, rolling it over his fingertips, watching it he spoke, casual tone, but less casual words, “I haven’t cried since USJ.”

It wiped the smile straight off Hizashi’s face. He tilted his head, looking like a cockatoo that had cracked open an empty peanut.

Aizawa looked up, “What?” he asked, voice sharpened with insecurity.

“You cry?”

“Really?”

Hizashi waved a hand in the air, corralling his own question away, “Sorry. Just-” he started counting on his fingers, then held his hands out in a shrug. “I’ve never…”

“I’m human,” Aizawa ground out. “Besides, it’s not often. I’m just aware of when it might be necessary.”

“Yeah but-”

Aizawa didn’t want Hizashi to keep chasing after questions. He already chose to bear himself enough. “I just don’t want anyone to see my cry. It’s not some public display, and having dry eye doesn’t make it pretty.”

Hizashi stared.

“It just happens.”

Hizashi continued to stare.

“Mic…”

Hizashi frowned, short brows creasing.

Aizawa’s rubbed his knuckles over Nezumi-tori’s head, tracing her calico pattern, trying to block out the green eyes boring into him. “Whatever your secret is, it better be worth this wait.”

Hizashi was transfixed by the flower in his hand, pinching it with his neatly trimmed fingernails he ripped at the petal edges. “I don’t know if I want to tell it. Why do you- do you feel like crying?”

“I couldn’t tell you. Better not to dwell on it.”

“Huh,” Hizashi’s voice is distant, his shoulders tense. He’s shit at masking his expressions, he never had a good poker face.

Aizawa had seen Hizashi annoyed before, usually at the expense of some unlucky reporters straying too close to Yuuei- this was so similar it made Aizawa snap to a quick decision to get Hizashi to talk properly again. “Don’t think you’re getting out of telling your secret.”

Hizashi blurted it out then, as if the brakes on his inhibitions had locked up, it crashed right into the air between them, “I don’t want to see you get hurt anymore.”

“You can’t exactly stop that. I understood what I was getting into when I transferred into heroics. Maybe all those good grades and book smarts barred you from understanding that it’s just a part of the job.” Hizashi looked crestfallen, looking to the side like he was one of Aizawa’s students who had just been scolded.

Aizawa paused, willing the boiling pulse in his veins to drain out, the last thing he needed was to give into anger. Leveling his tone he asked, “... was that your secret?”

“I guess.”

“Oi, fess up.”

“That’s it.”

Aizawa sighed, this was like pulling teeth with bamboo chopsticks, “Mic.”

“There’s more, yo,” said Hizashi, quiet and honest. “But it doesn’t matter. That’s how I feel. I don’t know when the next time you’re gonna-” He flipped his hand over in front of him, palm flat and facing upward. “I just can’t deal with that.”

“We could both die at anytime. That’s just how it is.”

“I know, I know. It doesn’t mean I’m happy about it.” Hizahsi stretched, moving forward to place another flower in Aizawa’s scarf.

“How you feel about my hero work is inconsequential.” Aizawa went to pluck the flower away. Pushing his chin down into the scarf he looked down to see himself dotted in flowers.

“Leave them. Please, Eraser.” Hizashi smiled, mouth tilting up more on one side, one eye narrowed as he said, “Adds a little bit of style to your totally drab look.”

“Well, good thing I have Present Mic to help me. He is the ‘prince of style’ after all.”

A wider, sloppier grin wound its way across Hizashi’s face.

“What’d you wanna do earlier?” asked Aizawa cutting straight for the throat. His question instantly silenced Hizashi, sweeping Hizashi’s smile away in minute steps, until it was altogether gone.

Aizawa shouldn’t be pursuing this, but he is. Guided by a feeling that maybe this was a step closer to Hizashi’s real secret.

“It's weird,” muttered Hizashi.

Aizawa rarely found a moment that Hizashi was worried about coming off as weird.

“Can’t be as weird as you putting flowers all over me.”

Hizashi breathed in sharply, he glanced to the side, “I wanted to see your scar.”

Aizawa immediately lifted the arm Shigaraki had grabbed and started to pull back the sleeve. “This one?”

“No,” said Hizashi, eyes dropping to the height of Aizawa's utility belt. “The other one.”
He couldn't mean the one under his eyes, at the very least that was something not inflicted out of malice. Aizawa's hands fell to where his black shirt was tucked into his pants. His fingers slid over the utility belt, barely pawing at the buckle.

“Yeah that one,” Hizashi's voice fell out like water spilling over a lake edge.

Nezumi-tori, disturbed and envious that Aizawa's hands weren't on her anymore, licked a paw and slinked off his lap meowing as she pushed against one of Hizashi's knees and padded away.

Aizawa breathed out an, “Okay.”

He snaked off his utility belt, setting the sheathed knife by the bundle of pouches. He went to pull up on his shirt and stopped, “It's not,” he paused.

“Not what?”

“Nothing,” Aizawa moved up to where he sat back on his feet, his leg folded underneath him, kneeling in front of Hizashi. Hizashi mirrored him, setting the folder aside. No longer in a criss cross or slumping. On his knees, pushed closer to Aizawa, who was watching Hizashi as he sat up hands on his untucked shirt.

Hizashi bit his lip, lost in thought, green eyes met Aizawa’s and then traveled down to his hands.

Aizawa rolled up the hem of his shirt a little more, “Are you sure? I don't care honestly, I'm just concerned you might-”

Hizashi nodded, mouth a tight line. The action silently reassuring.

Glancing down, Aizawa lifted his shirt, this time not holding back. He pulled it up to the base of his sternum.

He hadn't taken the time to look at it recently, in fact he hadn't done more than glance at it since the stitches and dressing and red-snaking lines had cleared from his skin.

Sometimes it had caught his eye, maybe in the shower or in his mirror. And for a moment, always when he paid attention to it, it was someone else's skin.

But here with Hizashi staring at it, and up at him, and back down, the spirals of his eyes tight- there was a crashing realization that this was his skin, and the careful distance he had placed between himself and it shrank within seconds.

Always his skin.

The destruction owned by someone else, but he’d die with it on his body.

“It's a-" Hizashi made an ‘X’, crossing his fingers.

“Yeah, yours is too.”

“Mine’s barely there. That's…”

Still looking down at the scar Aizawa said, “He cut deep.”

Hizashi had a hand lifted up, trapped in the space between them.

Aizawa started to settle his shirt back down, warily watching Hizashi's fingers as they curled just slightly.

“Is it okay if I-” started Hizashi, catching Aizawa in the middle of rolling the hem back down, stopping him. He looked at his hand, sentence derailed. “Is it okay if I touch it?”

“Yeah,” breathed out Aizawa. The scar rode low on his abdomen, slashed up across his stomach- two intersecting lines. The bottom legs of the X dipped down under the waistband of his pants.

Hizashi pushed forward, one hand on the ground in front of of his knees as he just brushed a thumb across the scar.

Aizawa flinched away at first.

“I don’t have to,” said Hizashi, pulling his hand away.

“No I just,” Aizawa willed himself to relax, a wildfire blazing along the lines of the scar. “I'm fine. It's fine.”

Hizashi took the cue, regained his position, fingers brushing over Aizawa's skin. He traced up to the end of one leg of the X.

Aizawa could feel every movement, it played across his skin, trickling along his spine, chasing away any phantom pain that radiated out from the pink and raised scar.

Hizashi was closer, closer than he should be. Aizawa could smell his hairspray- something intoxicatingly comforting. It lured his mind to wander towards questions he had long since cut loose.

“Do you remember that night?” asked Aizawa watching Hizashi's fingers as they painted across the skin just under the edge of his rib cage.

Hizashi tilted his head. Hand frozen on Aizawa's stomach, over the epicenter of the ‘X’, fingers splayed out.

A part of Aizawa didn't want him to let go. The scar had always hurt, even after it healed over- pulling and tugging at a sensitive piece of himself that wanted to make itself known as a crack in his armor. And Hizashi's palm felt like glue and gold leaf, piecing it back together. Maybe not as strong as before, but transforming it into a transcended form.

“The night we found you?” asked Hizashi, clicking the pieces together.

“Yeah.”

Hizashi slipped his hand away. And Aizawa knew he looked stupid, sounded dumber with his one word answer and eyes lingering on Hizashi's torn and bruised knuckles like he was about to snatch up the blond’s hand and attach it back over the scar. Like he was desperate for Hizashi to not stop, still holding his shirt up.

“I should've told you I was sorry. For all of it. Not just the lying, but what I did that night.” Aizawa finally dropped his shirt. “I could've done more controlled myself at least. I think about it a lot. It'd be more logical to not dwell on it… I just want to change it.”

“I think about it a lot too.”

“You shouldn't,” said Aizawa, too quickly, biting it out and bowing his head slightly in apology.

Hizashi had a hand on the back of his neck. It slipped away, and he plucked up another flower. Still sitting on his legs, he said, “I could've pushed you away. I know you didn't ask for my permission but I didn't want you to stop. And I almost took advantage of you… I thought about just letting you-” He laughed an uncomfortable, humorless and half-strangled noise. “But you were hurt, and I didn't know if that was really Toxic or you.”

“I-” Aizawa looked over to the potted hydrangeas. “I can’t tell you for sure. I think some of it was me.”

“Huh,” Hizashi perked up, hands wrapping around his knees, flower wrapped bewteen his fingertips- still sitting back on his feet. “Oi, What am I supposed to do with that information, Eraser?”

“Do whatever.”

Hizashi just smiled in response and held out the flower he had picked.

Aizawa took the offering and held the flower over his thighs, nose angled down towards it as he spoke. “I don’t make a habit of talking like this...”

Hizashi shrugged, “Lay it on me anyway.”

Aizawa tucked the flower in his scarf close to his throat. Hs looped his hands around the freed utility belt and started to wrap it back around his waist. “It's not important,” he said tucking his shirt back under the utility belt.

“Ah! Now I'm in suspense, don’t be like this.”

His eyes narrowed. He was concentrating, trying to pluck the right words out of his brewing thoughts. “I didn't want you to stop touching my scar,” and while that was as honest as Aizawa could be, it all came out wrong.

Hizashi's face was so red it looked like he was choking.

Aizawa felt the need to clarify, “I meant I like being near you, I think- hey.” Aizawa came to a dead stop mid sentence. He ran a hand over his hair, disturbing any hydrangeas there, checking to make sure his quirk wasn't activated, sometimes, when he became emotional it would get away from him. But it hadn't happened for years now, not unless he was shit-faced drunk. “Mic?”

“You do?” Hizashi's voice sounded small. Too small.

“Sure. You feel safe. It's something in contrast to-"

“Being hurt,” said Hizashi filling in the rest of Aizawa’s sentence.

That wasn't what Aizawa was going to say. But it fit. Hizashi had a funny way of wording things better than he could. “Yeah, sort of.”

Aizawa’s shoulders stooped a bit, as hs said, “I think I got so used to pain I thought that was about as extreme of a feeling as I'd ever get. Guess that was short-sighted of me.”

Still uncharacteristically quiet Hizashi said, “Yo, I feel the same.”

“Good.”

“Oi, you say it all so matter of factly, Eraser.”

“That's because it is fact.”

“Well,” Hizashi cocked his head, raised his hands out beside him, “Now what?”

Aizawa shrugged, crossing his arms, and dipping his chin down into his scarf.

Hizashi squirmed his legs a bit, placing his hands back down on his legs, he tips forward a bit, towards Aizawa. “Are you going to be more careful?”

“Are you?” Aizawa immediately shot back.

“Okay,” Hizashi sat back, “I see what you're getting at. Let's make a pact then,” he held out his hand.

Aizawa took it, grabbing onto it like it was a lifeline between them.

“That was fast,” said Hizashi. “I usually have to bribe you-"

“Okay, what's the pact, Mic?” asked Aizawa, cutting him off and looking down at the concrete ground beside their clasped hands.

Hizashi winked, Aizawa would never admit it but he held a breath in, waiting. “No more scars!” said Hizashi, loud and exuberant, squeezing Aizawa's hand.

Aizawa kept a hold of Hizashi, his shoulders slumped a little bit. “Of course that's what it is, that's pretty unrealistic.”

“Fine, fine, let me remix it.” Hizashi put the pointer finger of his free hand to his temple. An obnoxious thinking pose. “Alright, no more near death experiences.”

Aizawa shot that down with no hesitation, “Also unrealistic.”

“Yo, you're making this hard.”

“I'm not the one with bad ideas,” said Aizawa still holding on tightly, fingers laced around Hizashi. A piece of him entertained the possibility of reeling Hizashi in closer. He cut the thought away, trimming it loose as Hizashi supplied a new idea.

“No more picking fights we aren't capable of winning.”

Aizasa narrowed his eyes. Hizashi let out a puff of air already making an assumption of Aizawa’s response.

“Alright,” said Aizawa, mostly to get Hizashi to stop.

“Yeah!” Hizashi's hand tightened on Aizawa's.

“But, this isn't one-sided,” Aizawa placed his free hand on one of Hizashi’s knees and leaned in close. Hizashi gawked down at it. Aizawa tugged Hizashi’s upper body towards him, hands still clasped together. Aizawa’s voice dropped as he tilted his head, close to Hizashi’s ear as the blond watched him, as still as a mouse no longer struggling under a cat’s paw. Aizawa’s fingers dug in, squeezing Hizashi’s knee as he said, “Stop being so cocky.”

Hizashi’s face was so red and hot next to his, it matched the noon sun and scarlet hydrangeas tracing the greenhouse walkways.

“Huh,” breathed out Hizashi, lost for words.

Aizawa pulled away untangling his hand, but very much still in Hizashi’s space.

Hizashi snapped back into motion, “Now you’re being unrealistic!”

Aizawa’s phone kicked up into a vibrating buzz in his utility belt as Hizashi’s obnoxious alarm sounded.

Lunch rush was over, and so was this moment.

Hizashi deactivated the alarm on his electronic wristwatch, and hiked his headphones back over his ears, but the wired chord remained unplugged. “Hey, we gotta go, Eraser.” He moved to stand, saying, “Oof,” as he unfolded his legs.

Standing, he watched Aizawa jam his papers back in the sleeping bag. “Can you imagine what would happen if we were both late?” asked Hizashi.

“Yes,” Aizawa said, rolling up the sleeping bag one last time the papers secured inside.

“Bet Midnight would have a field day.”

Both of them grew quiet, Aizawa stood, shoulders hunched, sleeping bag wrapped under an arm by his side- reading glasses pushed up into his hairline bangs sprawling wildly around the lenses and frame.

“You hosting tonight?” asked Aizawa, both of them not yet moving towards the door.

“Yeah,” Hizashi placed a hand on the collar of his leather jacket, fingers pinching it. “I'm actually doing a collab tonight… see how things go, trial and error.” He swiped his free hand high up through the air, like he was flicking away a cobweb, Aizawa’s attention drifted up towards the movement and then fell back down when Hizashi's arm was no longer raised. “But you understand, that's how showbizz can be. Hm, wanna be my guest host?”

Aizawa tilted his head- a healthy amount of distance between them. His eyes darted down Hizashi's face.

Hizashi mirrored him.

“No,” Aizawa slipped his hand in his pocket and pulling the sleeping bag in closer to his hip. “I prefer listening,” he was practically entranced by Hizashi's lips, not looking anywhere else as he spoke.

Hizashi crossed his arms, breaking Aizawa’s concentration. “Come on, I haven't been able to get you back in the studio for so long. You've gotta give the listeners what they want.”

“I'm positive no one has been asking about Scaredy Cat.”

“Maybe one or two have!” Hizashi’s voice stair-stepped into a whine, two fingers held up.

“Stop flattering me.”

“Yo, I'll get you back in one day. Maybe,” and he dragged the word out. Aizawa sighed, started to walk forward the sleeping bag held in front of him, hoping to get past Hizashi. But Hizashi grabbed him, gentle but certain hands wrapped around Aizawa’s shoulders, stopping Aizawa for a moment and causing the sleeping bag to be trapped between them. “You could sit in on this one?”

Aizawa pushed forward with his sleeping bag making Hizashi let go. “No,” he said, now closer than he intended to be, “I've got patrol.”

Hizashi raised an eyebrow, an impish quality to the curl of his lip. “You don’t have to…”

“I do,” said Aizawa, breaking free and walking away. He stopped, noon sun illuminating the dust sifting through the air in front of him. Without turning around, and in a voice more professional and curt than what Hizashi had been witness to he said, “Just text where and when I can meet Shinso tomorrow.”

He was tired. He always was. But more so now that it felt like he'd flayed off his own skin, a methodical undressing of all his defenses. One that he'd taken part in with Hizashi.

Aizawa left before Hizashi could respond, and he doesn't check nor care nor try to make sense of the fact that Hizashi silently followed him.

As he stalked back to his homeroom class, ready to break them out for their afternoon gym lesson, his fingers snaked under the bottom of the capture scarf. Almost absently tugging it away from his skin as tiny insect legs pinched at the nape of his neck.

 

*

Sitting on a rooftop edge, cigarette smoke trailing up from the alleyway beside the club- neon bleeding across his vision, Aizawa adjusted his wireless earpiece, toggling a dial on a small handheld device.

At first, what drifted through the earpiece was radio chatter, and then idle static- no pins dropped yet- he dialed till a clearer, different voice pierced his consciousness.

He'd never listened to Hizashi's radio outside of catching up on his Sunday mornings, but he found himself practically hooked. Listening to it live was different. Intimate. A source of comfort when he was bandaged and stiff, and out of hero work. His nights filled with more time and less pain than he could properly juggle.

It seemed he wasn't perfectly capable of reigning his focus back in. This habit would be hard to break.

He flitted back to the original channel for a moment, and then back to Hizashi's radio show.

As he listened to Hizashi joke with his co-host he felt the ever-present itch for an actual case. He felt like nothing more than a bone-starved vulture leering over the roof, waiting for a stale scrap to be thrown his way. But Tsukauchi and his precinct had yet to thrown him a healthy, ustripped bone. The same reasoning cited again and again.

The recent incident was a given, but the hold-up with insurance over-seeing the amassed treatment costs and damage from USJ had thrown Aizawa for a loop.

He could devour work, freelancing as any Underground Hero often did, but a true case would only be offered with insurance. Tsukauchi gave him the same spiel, that he wasn't cruel, and that Aizawa would virtually walk away penniless if he let the National Police entirely dictate any pay-out. He could always conduct private investigations, but that required some level of trust, and after USJ even hero teams were wary to let outsiders hitch onto their work- let alone an underground hero hungry for a job. Not that he would truly consider the option outside of desperation.

Too much publicity.

A pin was dropped, and there was a notification ping in the wireless earpiece. As he pulled out his phone, he dialed back to the original frequency- reluctantly dropping away the trance music that had started to play on Hizashi’s station.

He stashed the radio receiver away.

It was a Lawson robbery. Something small, and he was fully aware there would be little to no pay-out from his agency. But he wasn’t desperate for money yet, nor was he back up on rooftops solely to put food on the table.

He might as well kill two birds with one stone. Bag the baddie, and take any free food the cashier might offer. He’d skipped out on lunch after all.

There was something slightly, if very satisfying, about being rusty.

Just too slow to get swiped by a sloppy hit. And smarting, and stinging, and feeling the hit even well after he’d trussed up the robbers in his capture scarf.

He tried not to get stuck on the high it gave him as the cashier voided Aizawa’s entire transaction.

Waiting for the police he wondered what it meant, but didn’t linger on it too long as he leaned back against his makeshift backrest of robbers outside the Lawson door, tearing open an energy packet. The sting was undeniably exhilarating it was nothing like the numbness he was aware he had been wearing around himself like a cloak.

 

*

Sometime after midnight, in the hours of the early morning, Aizawa didn't consciously remember falling asleep while grading.

He remembered waking up stringing out, sitting up, trying to banish the image of Hizashi beneath him red eyes pleading, and it falling deaf to him as he ignored his begging, mercy chased away by the hornet whispering in his ear- his own hands cruel, and fast, and clawed.

Hizashi's eyes bulging, bloodshot.

His white-knuckled fists, snuffed him out, the metal of his capture scarf starting to grind and slice into Hizashi.

He sat up in the dark of his room, looking down at his fingers in the dim light of the lamp arched over the futon. Fingers stiff, as if he had actually had them cinched tight around the end strands of his capture scarf- the snaking body wrapped around Hizashi’s neck.

He stayed on his futon, and slumped back down.

Laying down yet with no intentions of going back to sleep he lolled his head over to the side and came face to face with the grading he hadn't finished.

His phone buzzed from where it was locked away in the distant kitchen drawer.

The phone buzzed again.

He pushed the papers away with the side of his arm, stretching out, banishing temptation. He could at the very least sacrifice one debt for another, he figured it wouldn't be long until his alarm went off to head out to Yuuei.

He wouldn't sleep, but he could rest for the two odd hours he had to himself.

Pulling his pillow out from under his head he turned on his side plopping it over his ear.

He could still see, past the edges of the pillow, past the papers and laptop and scattered pens, shadows danced on the walls.

Darkness morphed by the buzzing of his phone- message notifications and calls he would miss -bringing it to life. The sound summoned a phantom, grinding whir in his head. Sharp-toothed and stinging, as hot breath ghosted along the backside of his neck and cruel fingers wound themselves up in his arms and hair.

They led him into a witching hour of his own memories.

A seance where he was his own medium and the dead were the two cruel titans that haunted him, bleeding into hooked shadows in the relative safety of his apartment. Threading themselves into the afterimage still fading from Aizawa’s head.

Of Hizashi, held fast by the capture scarf, a tight grip pulling outward on the strands, cinching it taut, and cutting off any noises Hizashi might have made as the indigo hydrangeas, still trapped in the grey strands, were crushed against bruised and cut skin.