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Yagi doesn’t know exactly what he was expecting when he meandered over to Aizawa’s place at seven with a covered platter of roasted salmon skewers and grilled vegetables for dinner. He thought they might dutifully ignore the events of the past few weeks in favor of forcing a semblance of normalcy. Or perhaps they would awkwardly fumble around a new dynamic which neither knew how to handle, and part ways early after eating, content that they had at least given it a try even if it didn’t work out.

Either way, he didn’t expect this . But here they are.

The kotatsu where they usually work together has been pushed aside in favor of the kitchen table, which is… set? With actual cutlery? And plates? Real ceramic plates, not paper ones. And a modest little arrangement of flowers. Yagi is flabbergasted when he sheds his shoes at the door and comes in to find this. He didn’t think Aizawa even owned a real set of plates, let alone a flower vase. And there’s even music in the background, which is something they usually only do when they’re working over in Yagi’s apartment. Since when does Aizawa own a sound system at all, let alone a nice one?

Himawari trots up to him a moment later, startling him out of his daze. She doesn’t meow for attention, quiet little thing that she is, but she is already purring when he crouches down to pet her.

“Hi there babygirl, how ya doin’? It’s good to see you,” he greets. A moment later Aizawa’s voice calls from the back room,

“That you, Yagi?”

“Um, yeah! I’ve got dinner!”

“Just set it on the table, I’ll be out in a minute.”

The retired hero gives Himawari’s head a last scratch and then goes to do as he’s told, setting the platter on the folded-up hand towel that’s obviously meant to hold a hot serving dish. He hesitates, glancing around for a moment, before taking a seat at the place setting across from Aizawa’s usual spot. He notices that the lights in the kitchen are dimmed about halfway: not an uncommon thing, of course, since Aizawa often keeps the light low in his apartment to go easy on his aching eyes and occasional migraines. But considering the circumstances, he can be forgiven for wondering.

All doubt is dispelled when, a moment later, Aizawa emerges from the bedroom carrying what looks like a scented candle in a squat glass container. He’s scowling at it, but Yagi is a little more preoccupied with what he’s wearing. Usually the man just dresses his hero uniform down a little at the end of the day, losing the belt and boots and scarf, and unzipping the collar a bit. Or he changes into sweats, comfortable lounging clothes for an evening of grading.

But tonight he’s in fitted blue jeans and a soft-looking tee: black, of course. His sleeves are rolled up like he’s been busy with something or other, which exposes the pale lengths of his scarred forearms, traced with the occasional contour of a faintly purple vein. His hair is half tied-back in a loose bun, a few wavy flyaways springing free. And the way the v-neck strains around muscled shoulders has got to be illegal, or at least unfair.

Yagi jolts back into himself when the underground hero thunks the candle on the table next to the flowers and, still scowling at it like he can’t believe it’s even there, lights it with a match.

“Had to rummage around to find it, but I knew I still had one,” he mutters, a terse explanation of the candle’s presence. Yagi spares it a glance: the wax is inky black, no surprise there, and the label says ‘midsummer night’. Apparently the candle company has decided that a midsummer night smells like a slightly spicy men’s cologne. It’s not bad, though: the scent is actually reminiscent of the way Aizawa smells.

Which, of course, Yagi became intimately familiar with not long ago.

This thought, of course, has him freezing up and blushing a moment later for no apparent reason. There’s the awkwardness again. Those thoughts and memories he still can’t get rid of. He has to dig his nails into his palms under the table to keep his head on straight, since Aizawa is still talking to him as if nothing is wrong.

“Thanks for bringing over dinner, it looks good. Is that salmon?”

The older man forces a nod and a thin smile.

“Uh, yeah! I um… didn’t have much time after training with Midoriya so I just grilled it up fast. It was supposed to be something we could eat quick and easy while we were grading, I, erm… I didn’t realize we were, uh, having a nice dinner or I would’ve done something more–”

“–Yagi,” Aizawa interrupts, fixing him with a gaze that could be amused or fond or just plain perplexed. It’s always hard to tell with him. “This is fine. Simple is good.”

The other man just nods wordlessly in response, watching as Aizawa takes a few skewers on his own plate and has a bite. Yagi takes one or two to start with, though he has to work through his food much slower.

For the next few minutes they eat quietly, letting the background music do the work of easing the silence. The melody seems to swell and flutter in the spaces between them, in time with Yagi’s racing pulse.

Dim lights… flowers… a candle… the effort to look nice. To MAKE things look nice. Just for… for me?

Their food is done, or almost done, by the time Yagi finally gets up the courage to ask,

“Aizawa is… is this a date?”

The younger man pauses mid-chew, then seems to force himself to swallow, throat bobbing with the effort of it.

“Well, I… I mean, we should still get work done tonight, but uh… y-yes? If you want it to be.”

If you want it to be.

“And… if I don’t?”

Aizawa looks down and away, twirling a stripped-clean skewer stick idly in his fingers.

“Then, it’s just two friends having dinner, I guess. No uh… no hard feelings.”

Now it’s Yagi’s turn to swallow, and hard. He doesn’t like the sound of that. No hard feelings ... like it means nothing to him, when it so clearly means everything.

Slowly, hesitantly, Yagi’s hand creeps across the table to touch the back of Aizawa’s clenched fist. The younger man un-tenses at the light brush, and after a moment of coaxing, lets his and Yagi’s fingers entwine. The older hero squeezes lightly and, gazing down at their joined hands, decides he likes the way they look. They way they feel. He glances back up and finds Aizawa’s dark eyes trained unwaveringly on his face. Waiting.

For a moment Yagi balks, a familiar fear turning what’s left of his guts upside down. It’s hard to undo years of self-enforced isolation in a single moment, after all. But he thinks it might take time for him to unlearn that. He remembers warmth and safety and a quiet, amused voice, amplified into a soothing rumble by the proximity of ear to chest.

I guess being a bunny is good for your confidence, huh. Human-Yagi could take a hint from bunny-Yagi. It’s not a crime to ask for something every once in awhile, you know .

The man takes a deep, steadying breath and then asks the obvious question, just because he needs confirmation, needs to know he’s not imagining or misinterpreting it. That this isn’t some fever-dream born out of longing and a quiet, life-long pain. That someone does actually want him, even now, even like this.

“Do… do you want this to be a date, Aizawa?”

A pause, and then a hesitant nod. Yagi closes his eyes and sways in place, thinking he might faint on the spot from relief, though the feeling of Aizawa squeezing his hand back keeps him upright somehow.

“Please, I… please say it, I need to hear it,” he whispers, feeling just a little pathetic for asking. But then, didn’t Aizawa tell him to ask?

And the man’s answer is to get up from his chair, which scrapes a bit on the tile floor, and come around the other side of the table. He separates their hands briefly, but makes up for it a moment later when a pair of warm, strong, familiar arms encircles Yagi’s shoulders and draws him close. Even sitting, the retired hero is so tall that when he returns the embrace, his forehead rests against Aizawa’s shoulder. The v-neck is as soft as it looks, and smells so comforting. Plus, it does a very good job of soaking up Yagi’s overwhelmed tears before they even fall.

“Yes,” Aizawa says, breath hitching as he exhales shakily. “I love you, you big idiot. It took me fucking long enough to figure it out, but I love you. Please date me. Properly, as a human. Because as cute as you were as a bunny, I like you better this way.”

The retired hero gives a shaky laugh, leaning back just far enough to wipe his eyes dry again before he stands from his chair. He nods, hands coming to cup the smaller man’s face gently.

“Right, right… properly this time,” he murmurs, grinning ear to ear through his tears. “I think… I think I’d love nothing better.”

Neither one really kisses the other, per se, but their lips meet in the next moment and it’s glorious. It’s natural, it’s beautiful, it’s everything they ever needed and all Yagi can think is… if he knew it was going to be like this, he would’ve kissed this man much, much sooner.

There’s a whole lot of different conversations the pair should probably have, sooner rather than later. Conversations about needs and wants and boundaries, about pasts and presents and futures. But by mutual, silent agreement, they decide that tonight is not the night for them. Tomorrow probably isn’t either, though they will talk about it soon. Yagi just needs a little time to get past the obstinate disbelief at the idea of him, finally getting to date someone. Someone he could be happy with. It’s a foreign concept, more than he ever dared hope for.

And Aizawa just wants time to bask in the fact that, after so much time and so much struggle, he finally gets to call this man his . With everything they’ve been through, a little basking shouldn’t be too much to ask.

When dinner is finished and cleaned up, the pair retreat not to the kotatsu, but to the couch. Yagi, too shy to ask for anything much louder than a quiet murmur but still asking all the same, whispers in Aizawa’s ear as they’re settling in. The teacher can’t help a smile tugging at the corner of his mouth when he hears the request. Without a word, he sets the grading work they’d intended to do aside and instead stretches out, half-sitting up against the pile of ratty throw pillows that pad one arm of the couch. Yagi lays back across his chest, hesitant at first, but melting into it soon enough. The contented look on his face when Aizawa wraps his arms around him and hugs him close spreads an unfamiliar warmth over the teacher’s whole body. He wants to see that look again and again and again. It’s what spurred him to take the plunge, after all, with setting up tonight the way he did. The desire to see Yagi smile again, for him. Not the way he used to, but in a new, better way.

God , he’s so glad this worked out. For the first time in months, he breathes out and feels his bones settle in his body, the tension flooding out of him at once.

Maybe this is what he needed all along.

He sighs as they get comfortable, listening to the music with his cheek pressed to Yagi’s feathery hair.

“Hizashi and Nemuri are gonna be insufferable about this,” he mutters under his breath.

“Mm… why’s that?”

“Ah… no reason.”

They don’t mean to, but they fall asleep like that.

And when they wake up a few hours later with aching necks, Yagi moves them next door to his bedroom rather than try to do work or part ways for the night. Grading can wait until tomorrow. His western-style bed is easier on his back, he says, and it’s clear that Yagi wants Aizawa to come with him if the shy blush and the vice grip on his hand is any indication. They abandon their plans in favor of just… well, sleeping. Together. Just sleeping.

Aizawa couldn’t care less where Yagi sleeps, as long as it’s with him.

They fall into the covers together in a routine that is almost familiar. Just under different, better circumstances. It takes a little shuffling, a little wriggling, to figure it out. But they do finally end up comfortable, with Yagi laying in what must be his usual mountain of fluffy pillows, and Aizawa plastered over his left side as if to protect it. The younger man rests his head on Yagi’s chest, where the regular pulse of his heart is as soothing as any lullaby.

He’s almost completely asleep, just slipping away from the last dregs of consciousness, when he hears Yagi’s voice murmur,

“I… I think I love you too.”

The only reply Aizawa can muster before he drops off entirely is a faint smile, but it’s enough and Yagi sees it. He falls asleep smiling just like that.

It’s the best rest he’s had in years.