“You have got to be kidding me.” You cup the phone between your ear and shoulder, glancing at the digital clock sitting at your desk. Three a.m. it glares mockingly as half the sheaf of test papers from your class remain ungraded. “You’re telling me, Yamada, that Aizawa is drunk?”
“Yes, and I’m not pulling your leg or anythiiiing!” Yamada cries, and the shrill static makes you wince away from your phone. Judging by the sound of his voice, you’re pretty sure he has also had a few too many. Somewhere in the background, you can hear a wild medley of raucous singing and screaming. “He went overboard with the drinks! Again! You have to go down here,” he pleads. “I need serious backup—“
“I’m in the middle of grading essays,” you say curtly. “All Might’s there, isn’t he? He should be more than enough.”
“He already left! Urgent business!”
“How about Kayama?”
“Midnight’s already wasted as fuck, my friend!”
“Then Sekijiro should—“
“Vlad King’s weeping at the bar counter!”
“And the others?”
“Either passed out or butchering another stupid pop song!”
“Fucking hell.” You sigh. A burst of maniacal laughter echoes from the other line, but is immediately drowned out by a chorus of off-key singing.
When the majority of the UA faculty decided earlier today to go karaoke as a grand culmination of a tiring work week, you had been wise enough to say no. You said no not because of the obvious workload you still had on your plate, nor was it because you didn’t feel like going out. It mostly had to do with the fact that you were precisely avoiding this kind of situation.
At least, that’s what you tell yourself.
Because the fact of the matter is, the only situation you’re avoiding, if you were to be completely honest, is one that would ultimately involve seeing Aizawa.
“Look—“ Yamada clears his throat, the tone of his voice suddenly serious— “I don’t know what happened between you guys, but please? Make an exception? Just for tonight?”
A strained pause. Frankly, though you are more inclined to deny this absurd request, it’s not everyday you get to hear a pro-hero like Present Mic asking for help—let alone relying on a Quirkless teacher like you from the Department of Management to get this group of drunk heroes out of their shitty situation. But you have to hand it to him for taking you by surprise; he may seem like an excitable airhead most of the time, but for him to decipher the meaning of your hesitation with tact and thoughtfulness is, quite admittedly, the last thing you expected from him.
After careful consideration, you find yourself saying, “Fine.” You let out a defeated exhale. “You owe me big time here, Mic. I’ll be right over.”
The bar-slash-karaoke joint—Cantina, it is called, all decked out in flashing neon lights in the middle of Tatooine District—is already closing up shop by the time you arrive: a scrawny looking manager is barking orders on the phone, waiters busily cleaning tables, a couple of bartenders mopping up the vomit off the rainbow-striped linoleum floor. The stench of cigarettes is nauseating. There seems to be no other customers left. Most of the booths have been vacated, save for the last one down the hazy, fluorescent-lit hallway where a familiar voice belting out a rock song bellows like a cry for help.
You press onward. As soon as you open the door, it feels like you have stumbled upon an unsettling scene with the pro-heroes, all in their corporate attire and at the peak of their inebriation: Present Mic on the small dais, serenading an already sleeping Midnight; Cementoss snoring the night away over at the couch; Vlad King chugging on another whiskey bottle while in tears; Thirteen swimming on spilled vodka; and Eraserhead casually sitting on the corner, having a conversation with his empty mug of beer.
Yamada drops the microphone the moment he sees you by the doorway.
“You’re here!” He hurtles toward you and wraps you in a hug. He smells strongly of sweat and alcohol. “Thank fuck! Now we can go home! Please tell me you brought a car.”
You shrug his arms off of you. “No, Mic, I walked all the way from our UA dorms to get here.”
“Are you serious—“
“Of course I have a fucking car with me,” you sneer. “You know, I’m actually surprised to see that you’re the last man standing.”
Yamada grins proudly. “Well, I know I don’t look like it but I am actually really responsible and kind and amazing—“
“Okay, don’t push it.”
“Oh, fine.” He rolls his eyes. “Now I’ll help these idiots out. You take Shouta with you.”
“Uh, hold up—“ you raise a hand in protest, and you briefly scan the mess of a room— “how about I take Kayama with me while you take the rest of the guys? Aizawa can walk by himself.”
“You kidding me?” Yamada shakes his head. “Look at him. I know that’s his everyday bitch face but that bitch face of his is dead drunk. He’s been giving out compliments to everyone before you got here.”
You quirk a suspicious brow. “Really?”
“Yeah. Check this out.” He turns to Aizawa and says, “Yo Eraser, you think I can beat All Might as the top hero?”
Aizawa looks up at Yamada with a sluggish smile. “You can do anything, Mic. You’ve always been the best.” Then, he turns to you and his red-rimmed eyes widen. “Hi. You’re very beautiful.”
You blink. “Yup. He’s drunk.”
“See?” Yamada laughs. “But drunk words are sober thoughts, no? Besides—“ he nudges you by the elbow— “he’s been talking about you nonstop all night.”
You say nothing. The withering glare you cast in Yamada’s direction is more than enough for his cheeky grin to falter.
“Okay, fine, I get it!” He raises both hands in surrender. “None of my business! Let’s get outta here!”
The walk from the karaoke booth to your car becomes one effortful affair. Knowing he does not possess the physicality to carry his peers, Yamada wakes both Ishiyama and Sekijiro up by screeching on their ears. A questionably rude way to use his Quirk to wake someone up, but considering the situation at hand, courtesies be damned, you suppose. How Yamada manages to pacify their immediate irritation is beyond you; how he even manages to command them to carry both Kayama and Thirteen is much more bewildering at best.
Meanwhile, you pull Aizawa on his feet, sling his arm around over your shoulder, your one arm around his waist. He may possess such a lanky appearance, but he sure is heavy. And made out of sturdy materials. You know this. You know this because you have seen everything he is hiding beneath his usual ragged attire after many sleepless nights in his bed—
Not the time for that, self.
As you drag him out into the parking lot, he tries to lean his head on yours, but you shake him off. Still, despite your unreasonable annoyance, you find yourself looking up at him. A stray lock of his hair has fallen away from his sloppily tied half bun and over his face. You reach for it and tuck it behind his ear, and he looks at you as if it is the first time he is seeing you with a nameless awe and wonder. He smiles. Not his wry and mocking smile, the one he offers to his most aggressive students to teach them a lesson or two. Certainly not that. The smile he gives you is so foreign on his face, so exceptionally rare that your heart misses a beat.
Not the fucking time for this—
“You’re… so short,” he says with a hiccup. His breath reeks of alcohol, but his shirt smells strangely of fresh laundry.
You grimace. If he hadn’t been this hammered, you would have kicked him right in the shin. “Thanks for pointing out the obvious.”
He lets out a small laugh. “But you’re also soft and warm.”
A cold breeze drifts but your cheeks are warmer than ever. “Um, thanks?”
“And you smell really nice.”
With everyone squeezing themselves together in the backseat, dozing off and snoring in chorus, the rest of the drive heading back to the UA premises is almost preposterous in its silence. It is already five-thirty in the morning, and a hint of dawn is spreading like a rosy veil throughout the highway. Over the horizon, the city lights are unblinking witnesses to this misadventure. However, in the passenger seat, Aizawa is wide awake and spends the whole ride staring out the window.
As much as you want to start a conversation, a large part of you decides against it. Or, more accurately, your wounded pride is adamant to keep your mouth shut. The last time you spoke, he was sober and you demanded to define this nameless relationship the two of you had been tiptoeing for months. There should be a line—nay, a Great Wall of China—between being friends and lovers, but whatever boundaries that stood have already been demolished with all the secret dates, the secret gifts, the secret nights tangled up in your sheets.
Was any of it real? It all felt real to you, at the very least. No one would have suspected Aizawa to be capable of such generosity; he is quiet, reserved, extremely private. But within the four corners of his strict privacy, there is an abundance in his affections, a side of him you rarely see with the way he is with others. A side of him you wish you could keep to yourself.
But you suppose that doesn’t matter now. It doesn’t look like whatever this nebulous affair between the two of you mattered to him, anyway. He made that very clear when he walked out of your door just like that. You wish he had said something cruel to hurt your feelings instead. At least that is a pain you can bear better rather than him not saying anything at all.
You almost miss the turn to Heights Alliance when Aizawa speaks up. No, not everything is a much more honest answer, but he is looking at you with tired eyes that you doubt if he could catch you lying through your teeth. Instead, you spare him a glance and with high-pitch brightness, you say, “Yeah, everything’s fine.”
After dropping the others off in their respective buildings—which, to your relief, is relatively easier compared from the struggle back in Cantina—you decide to accompany Aizawa back to his room. He is still a bit woozy, that’s obvious enough; he stops along the way to talk to the rose shrubs and tulips out on the lawn, calling them his students which, despite its sheer hilarity, makes the climb to the front steps of his dorm a monumental challenge.
“Wait—“ Aizawa untangles himself from you as you enter the building— “let me talk to Midoriya for a sec.”
You watch him unsteadily ambling his way to the potted plants by the entrance. “Huh, Midoriya isn’t here. Everyone is still asleep—“
“You should stop getting yourself injured,” he says to no one in particular. “Recovery Girl can’t keep healing you all the time.”
“Shouta, you’re talking to a cactus. C’mon.”
He turns to you with an impish grin. “Hi. You’re pretty. I like you.”
You groan in both exasperation and exhaustion. The lord is truly testing my patience. As you haul him back up, he holds your hand and presses a kiss on the back of your hand.
“My god, it makes me sick how you’re weirdly affectionate when you’re drunk. Who would’ve thought that a fuckton of drinks would warm up your cold-hearted ass?” you say, heaving his whole body by your side. “Now let’s go before one of the kids wake up—“
A low voice that neither belongs to you or Aizawa startles you into a sudden panic. You turn, and you see a tall, muscular boy with glasses and in his pajamas staring at you as if he had seen a ghost. Then he looks at Aizawa. His face pales.
“Is… Sensei alright?” the boy worrily croaks. “And does he—you two are—“
“You’re Iida, right?” you ask carefully. You look around the living room and exhale a breath of relief to find that he is the only student in the room.
The boy nods. “Do you need, um, help—“
“No, we’re fine,” you answer quickly. “Can I ask you for something, though?”
Iida nods again, vigorously this time. “Yes, of course!”
“You never saw or heard anything. Is that understood?” There is a silent threat in your voice that makes Iida squirm in discomfort.
“Yes, uh—understood!” He salutes nervously. You spare him a small pat on the back as you shuffle past him, onto the stairs, and into Aizawa’s room.
The afternoon sun drags Aizawa awake in a throbbing daze. His head hurts as if he had been beaten with a thousand pinpricks, his mouth too coppery for his taste. The stream of sunlight filtering through his windows paints his barren room in a thin veil of gold that at first glance, he thinks he is somewhere else entirely. But there is no mistaking that this is really his room: the soulless furnishing of a simple bed, a desk, and a worn-out couch, and the startling emptiness of his space is easy enough to recognize as his own. Still, it does not make any sense. How did he manage to get here? As far as he can remember, he was at the Cantina with All Might and…
A sharp panic jolts him out of the sheets. He looks down on his hands, his body. Okay. Thank god he is fully clothed. No injuries, too. As he ties his hair back into a pony, he scans the room for something out of the ordinary, something to jog his memory of last night. Nothing seems to be out of place until his attention falls to a figure lying on his couch.
Aizawa rubs his eyes. He is unsure if the sight of you sleeping on his couch is a product of his hangover, but the faint sound of your breaths only proves it otherwise.
As far as he is concerned, the last person he could ever expect to be in the same room as him is you, not after he left so callously after that last argument without saying another word. He knows you deserve better than the way he has treated you. He knows you deserve better than him. You have been patient enough to thaw his cold indifference, brave enough to see past through his sharp edges. He is not easy to like, but you made him believe that he is worth the time. And in the short time he has spent with you, he finds himself wanting more, and the more he tries to make sense out of it, the less he understands this gnawing, aching feeling that never fails to leave him gasping for air.
He walks over to you, sits on the edge of the couch. For a moment, he watches you sleep. He finds solitude in your peaceful face, in the tender rhythm of your breathing. You shift a little. And when he hears his name leave on your lips, his breath stops for a second. An unnameable feeling spreads over him with the warmth of a forest fire, with the ferocity of a storm.
God, you’re so beautiful.
Not a little longer and he sees you stir. When you open your eyes, the first that you see is him.
“Hi,” he says with a small smile.
You sit right up in a panic. “Hi. Fuck—I’m sorry.” You fix your hair and wipe the drool on the side of your mouth. “I, um—I hope you didn’t mind that I crashed here to sleep.”
He shrugs. “It’s okay. Yamada called you to pick us all up, didn’t he?”
“Thank you. And sorry for the trouble.” He reaches for the back of his neck, looks away. Then, he asks: “I didn’t happen to do something stupid last night, did I?”
You laugh. “I don’t think you’d really want to know.” In a sudden hurry that startles him, you get up and begin to gather your things. “Anyway, there’s a bottle of painkillers in the bathroom, in case you still have your headaches. And please eat something decent. I should get going—“
“Wait.” The word leaves him sharply that it slices throughout the room.
You stare at him, eyes searching and urging for him to continue.
“I…” He falters. With a heavy breath, he braves through the silence and says, “I was hoping if you could stay.”
You purse your lips, shaking your head. “You know, since we’re here, I think it’s about time that we stop this… whatever this thing we have.”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I’m tired of this. Besides, for a Quirkless like me, I’ll only be a liability to a pro-hero like you—“
“You were never a liability to me.”
“Then what am I to you?”
“The fucking love of my life.”
In long, steady strides, he closes the space between the two of you and he takes your face in his hands. He lifts your head and lets his lips graze your forehead, your cheek, the tip of your nose, as if this is the only way for him to memorize the warmth of your skin on his.
“May I?” he whispers under his breath. “I’m sorry if my breath stinks—“
“Just kiss me, you asshole.”
He smiles. And in this scorching tenderness, he presses his mouth on yours, kissing you as if this is the only time he has left, as if you are the only rational and logical thing that could ever matter in this life or the next.