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They Graded

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He could see it in the way his shoulders were tense all day and his smiles were delayed that it was a bad day.

He wanted to make Hizashi talk to him because Hizashi's better at feelings, but Hizashi had escaped the school quickly for his radio show.

He thought about asking one of the other teachers, but bad social skills kept his mouth shut.

He was left alone with a man in pain and large piles of paperwork for the both of them.

He chanced it after a big gulp of coffee warmed his chest and determination clenched his fists.

"Are you alright, Yagi-san?" he asked. He was stiff. People didn't like stiff. People, especially, didn't like stiff from the person comforting them. That uncertainty made him stutter out a ramble, more vulnerable than he would've liked: "I…I just mean, I've noticed over the day that…. I was just wondering if I could…help. Or listen?"

Yagi didn't meet his eyes, but eye contact was weird so he was okay with that. He looked at his face, maybe at the scar under his eye. He wasn't sure. His words were so careful, so polite. "Thank you for the offer, Aizawa-kun. I guess…I'm not okay."

He waited for more. There was none. "Oh. Well. You could talk to me, if you'd like."

"Thank you for the offer," he repeated again. He was being genuine, or at least, he thought that was a genuine look in his eyes. "I really do appreciate it. I don't think I can, though. It's not you, I think it's just us. We're not quite ready for that level of closeness."

"Oh." Oh. What did he say to that? He was a bit relieved, if he was being honest. He wasn't too good at comforting. He didn't think he'd like to talk about his bad days with anyone other than Hizashi. "Okay." He was supposed to say something after this, what was he supposed to say? "I understand."

Yagi nodded. "Thank you, again."

He refilled his mug like he was going to. He sat back down. The silence in the room wasn't awkward, but he didn't much know the difference between awkward or not. Maybe it was awkward. He felt okay with it. Hopefully, Yagi did as well. He went back to grading.

It occurred to him, fifteen minutes later what he should've said.



"Do you have someone on that level of closeness?"

He didn't speak for a moment.

He couldn't see him and he couldn't guess what he was thinking. He waited.

"...No, I suppose I don't." 

"Oh." Oh. What does he do now? How does he help him? "Maybe you should see a therapist. I don't see a therapist, but Hiz–Present Mic says I should. I think I will eventually. Present Mic says it takes some strength. I'm still gathering it."

There was no answer.

"If you don't want to see a therapist, maybe you can get a friend. I like talking to Present Mic. He likes talking to me. It feels comfortable. Do you know someone that you could be comfortable with?" He realized, belatedly, that he was oversharing. He didn't like people who overshared and it turned out he was one of them. 

Hm. He would think about it later. 

Yagi's clothes rustled on the other side before he responded. "I don't think so. Well, I can't see myself being comfortable. I would like to be comfortable, one day."

He nodded and then remembered he couldn't see him. "I understand." He winced at his repetitiveness. "In the meantime, you can focus on your healthier unhealthy coping mechanisms. Things that give you relief for a moment. Food, places, people. I like to sleep. Sometimes, when you can't get the best help, you have to settle." 

"That was very insightful of you, Aizawa-kun. I never thought to rank my unhealthy…habits. Maybe I've been relying on the worst ones."

He didn't have anything else to say. "That's all."

He went back to grading.

A minute later, the scratching of a pen became the scratchings of two pens. 

They graded.