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curiosity killed me my dear (but you brought me back)

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"Eraserhead, Present Mic, report." The words, tinged with the static that always came with calls, burst over the earpiece Shouta had in, disrupting his attempts to count the number of people in the warehouse they were watching by sound alone. "Have you managed to get a rough estimate of how many?" Luckily for him, he had a partner who specialized in sound.

"Hey, now, c'mon, yo! Never doubt the teamwork of Eraserhead and Present Mic!" Hizashi near cackled into his mic, voice boisterous and full of energy even with how quiet he managed to keep himself; something that made Shouta feel as impressed as he did exasperated as he rolled his eyes. "We've got sixteen heads in sight and… what? Six down below?"

Taking a moment to enjoy the familiar pressure and warmth as Hizashi leaned against him, Shouta shifted and braced himself against Hizashi, one hand resting on the man's shoulder as he took another peak into the warehouse. They were hidden up on a fire escape that had seen better years, pressed as close against the warehouse wall as they could get to avoid detection. No one had noticed them yet, but Shouta wasn't certain that would last for much longer.

"Seven," Shouta respond to both Hizashi and the rest of their team on standby. He could feel Hizashi's little wiggle under his hands and knew the man was thinking something along the lines of, Look at how smart my husband is! "Altogether we have twenty-three, as reported, with an estimated dozen children in whatever cellar they managed to carve out. Midnight on standby?"

"She arrived a few minutes ago and is ready to proceed at the signal. Are you two in position to move?"

Shifting to look down at his husband, Shouta gave him a small nudge to get his attention, waiting until he was sure his eyes had adjusted before his hands were signing out a quick, 'Ready?'

'As I'll ever be.' Hizashi signed back, stealing a soft kiss from Shouta before he was sitting back and winking. 'Want a distraction before you go in?'

Shouta didn't have to answer, Hizashi already working at the window they had been leaning against, pushing it up softly enough to not be heard by anyone down below. Shouta leaned back, tapping at his earpiece, mumbling out a soft, "Going in."

As soon as the words were out, he was slipping through the window and taking to the rafters as silently as he could get away with, scanning the crowd below him. There were only a couple of mutation quirks with the majority seeming to be emitter - something that would be all the better for him. Seeing a flash of blond hair and black leather, Shouta smirked as he lowered his goggles to cover his eyes.

It wasn't often that he and his husband were able to work together, considering that Shouta was an underground hero and Hizashi was the very definition of a media hero, but there were some cases where their teamwork and ability to communicate and adapt were necessary - although Shouta would like to work on a case with his husband that wasn't human trafficking for once.

The warehouse they were in had been marked as a villain hideout for weeks, now, but they had only realized it was part of a smuggling ring a few nights ago when they had managed to grab proof. It shouldn't be surprising that human trafficking was still alive and well so far into human history, especially with the rise of quirks, but it was heartbreaking nonetheless.

Children with promising quirks had long been sought after, captured, bought, and sold off to those who had use of them.

His thoughts were disrupted by his earpiece again, Hizashi's voice ringing out even as he managed to stay quiet enough for no one in the warehouse to hear him as he crept along the warehouse catwalk. "I don't know about you all down there, but I think this place is just a little too quiet for my tastes."

As he talked, Shouta studied the space they were in. Depending on where Hizashi started his attack, Shouta would either be in perfect position to help fight back, or to get the kids out of there before they brought Midnight in. More than one of them were worried about the kids being used as a shield.

"For starters, though, I don't think I want anyone to miss out on hearing tonight's show! So, then! Why don't we get this party started!" Hizashi's loud voice echoed throughout the warehouse, Shouta hiding a smile against the bands of his binding cloth before he was pushing himself forward and was on the move. If Hizashi was trying to get the attention of everyone in the warehouse, that meant he was trusting Shouta to get the kids out first.

"Hey, hey! I know you all are some rabid fans, but I think it would be a little polite if you backed off!" The last two works were filled with Hizashi's quirk, pure sound blasting across the room and sending a few of the unprepared ones to their knees. Shouta, already used to sudden loud noises in battle, winced minimally before using the moment to wrap some bands around a metal pillar and swing himself down towards the backroom where the door was ajar.

A quick count showed everyone in the warehouse was now charging at Hizashi or getting ready to. If this was at the start of their career then Shouta would have been worried, but as it was, he ducked into the room and pressed his back against the wall, a high-pitched whistle shooting through the room and knocking out everyone's balance besides his and Hizashi's.

"Remind me to thank support for these new earpieces managing to block out you," Shouta mumbled loud enough to be picked up by the comms as he tapped them to activate, grinning when he heard Hizashi's bright laughter followed by a cheerful shout, the second part of his attack that was crowd focused. By now everyone was either on the floor or, if they were lucky, unconscious - which meant Shouta wasted no time in closing the door and looking to were rough stairs were carved down into the ground. "Heads up, we have someone with an earth shifting quirk."

Grabbing a flashlight from his belt, Shouta quickly edged his way down the stairs, lighting up the area to see that it was filled with terrified children that ranged in ages, but couldn't be older than ten or eleven. The younger ones had been shoved to the back and the older ones were staring at him with wide, scared eyes even as they looked ready to fight. It was as heartwarming as it was heartbreaking.

Tapping his earpiece, Shouta spoke quickly. "I have sight of the children. Eighteen of them in an underground space carved out under the warehouse. More than we thought." They thought there had only been a dozen, but apparently the villains upstairs had been busy. It was nice to hear Hizashi's screams get louder. "Show of hands, who here knows about Present Mic?"

While the older kids shared looks and kept glaring at him, the younger ones raised their hands, one girl looking excited and near jumping up and down as she raised her hand in the air as high as possible. Shouta couldn't stop at least a small smile, keeping his voice soft, "Then you know about his quirk, Voice. All that screaming upstairs? That's him. Him, me, and some other heroes are all here to help get you home."

"Prove it." The child who seemed to be the oldest spoke up, taking a step forward and looking ready to fight for the others. "I know pro heroes and you don't look like any hero I know!"

"Hey, yo, Eraserhead, what's it lookin' like down there? Cause I dunno about you, but I'd rather not collapse the warehouse on a bunch of kids."

"Hang on," Shouta responded before pulling down his goggles and digging out his hero license, holding it out to the kid in front of him and waiting patiently for him to creep close enough to read it by the light of the flashlight. "I'm an underground hero, see? I also teach at U.A. in the Heroics course."

"Oh! You're the Mummy Man from the Sports Festival!" A little four or five-year-old shouted, running over to him and latching onto him before Shouta could respond. She no doubt had only just received her quirk judging by how young she was. "Do you fight with bandages?" Little hands tugged at one of the bands of his cloth, Shouta trying his hardest not to snort as he put his license away.

"Something like that. We good?" Shouta asked, looking back to the eldest, who gave a quick nod of his head. Giving a nod of his own, Shouta tapped at his earpiece. "We're good. Beginning to escort them out, now. We're in a room pressed against the back of the warehouse on the northwest corner. Make us an exit."

"Understood. Present Mic, backup will arrive as soon as the children are clear of the building." Unsettling, but necessary. Better to let the traffickers think there was only one pro there. "Eraserhead, we're en route to your location."

"Roger. Alright, you lot, let's go." Shouta quickly stood and began ushering the children out and up the stairs, keeping an eye on the door that led back to the rest of the warehouse even as one of the pros began tearing down the outside wall of the warehouse like it was paper. He was new to the scene, but he was popular enough to have children flocking towards him at once in trust.

"We're almost done, Mic," Shouta said over the comms, ducking back down into the cavern to make sure all the children had climbed out. "Hang on just another minute or two-"

"Thank you, Mummy Man!" Shouta blinked as the little girl, the youngest of the lot, waved at him as she was the last to be led away.

"Did I just hear a little kid call you Mummy Man?" Hizashi sounded absolutely delighted and Shouta huffed to cover up his laugh.

"Just focus on the fight. How many left?"

"Twelve left in fighting condition- Yo, fuckin' watch where you throw those things you ninja rip off piece of shit!" Another slew of swears burst out over the comms and Shouta was mildly glad that this was an undercover mission instead of Hizashi's usual city fights that always made the news. There was a reason Hizashi's shows were usually late at night. "Eleven left."

"Backup is on the way in. Let's take this lot down." Shouta pulled his goggles back up and crept back into the main part of the warehouse, taking stock of the situation quickly. A quick twist of his bands snagged one of the eleven left who had been looking at Hizashi and left him immobile, Shouta activating his quirk and watching the panic in the man's eyes before Shouta was pulling him in and rendering him unconscious with a quick punch to the face.

"Ten left," Shouta said over the comms, purely to hear Hizashi's bright laugh. Looking back to the others, who hadn't even noticed one of their allies going down, Shouta smirked and readied his weapon again. There were definitely benefits to working with a media hero who took up all the attention in the room.

The arrival of the other heroes served to wrap up the fight even quicker, Shouta taking down another one before glancing over to see that pros were quickly restraining the traffickers with cuffs and bands, Nemuri moving between them to knock them out with a dose of her gas.

Overall the warehouse raid was a success, Shouta letting himself relax when he failed to spot anymore stray quirks or fighting. Hizashi seemed to come to the same conclusion the fight was over, waving at Shouta from across the room with a loud shout. "Eraser! Let's go get something to eat after this!"

Tapping his earpiece, because Shouta was not in the mood for shouting across a warehouse teeming with activity, Shouta rolled his eyes with a soft, "We have paperwork, after this." The pout was easy to see even from across the room. "We'll do takeout." There were a few stray laughs considering they were on comms so everyone could hear, but Hizashi's smile was worth the embarrassment.

"Alright!" Hizashi started to shout something else over to him, but the words faded into a low buzzing in the back of his head as Shouta saw a flash of movement over Hizashi's shoulder. He took a second too long to identify what it was before Hizashi was screaming not with his quirk, but with pain, dropping to the floor as if he was a puppet with broken strings.

"Hizashi!" The cry came from him and Nemuri both, Shouta's eyes locking onto a man that had a hand pressed against Hizashi's back and was grinning far too smugly. The count had been wrong - their information had been wrong because there was no physical description that matched the man in front of them which meant they didn't know what his quirk could do. That didn't mean Shouta couldn't stop it, though.

The burning in his eyes began the moment his quirk activated, the man stumbling back and looking off balance before his eyes widened. Shouta made sure he didn't have time to recover before his binding cloth was wrapping around him, dragging him to the ground even as he shouted at Nemuri, "Knock him out, now!"

A burst of Nemuri's sleeping gas and the man was going limp within the binding cloth, Shouta taking only a moment to make sure there was no more movement besides breathing before he was untangling himself and running to Hizashi's side, bending down and aching to touch, but resisting only just. "Hizashi? Hizashi, c'mon, Sunshine, look at me. What's wrong?"

There was a soft mumble; a sound far too soft for someone as loud and bright as Hizashi. Shouta didn't have too long to panic, however, before Hizashi's voice croaked out a quiet, "Bad. Worse than the hangover after our third anniversary."

Feeling tension drain out of him at the teasing tone, Shouta only let his sigh shake before he was carefully helping Hizashi out of his curled-up position and onto his side so he could start to sit up. Instead of relief at seeing his husband was okay, though, Shouta felt his heart almost stutter to a stop, burning and dryness of his eyes near forgotten as he stared at Hizashi.

"Damn, that fuckin' hurt," Hizashi grumbled, pushing himself up weakly before Shouta watched him pause, looking at him with a frown before he was reaching up slowly and tugging down Shouta's goggles that he had forgotten about. "Shou? I don't like that look. What's wrong?"

"Shouta? Is Hizashi… Oh." Nemuri trailed off and stared, Shouta watching Hizashi look confused before he swayed, Shouta's reflexes reacting at once to catch him the moment he dropped. "Hey! We need medical over here! And ID this one's quirk, now!"

As Nemuri shouted for assistance, Shouta wasn't sure whether to laugh or cry as he stared down at where Yamada-Aizawa Hizashi, collapsed in his arms, had what was clearly cat ears the color of his hair with a tail to match, ears collapsed backwards against his skull in what was pain or agitation while the tail lashed through the air, Hizashi groaning out a soft, "No take out, then?"

"No," Shouta responded, slowly moving to sit on the floor himself. "I don't think the hospital is gonna allow me to bring in take out." Hizashi's groan seemed to sum up the situation perfectly. "Don't worry. You'll be alright."

Even as he said the words, Shouta swallowed as he felt Hizashi collapse more against him, no doubt passing out from a mix of the hard fight and the pain of whatever the quirk he was hit with had done to him. It was no doubt temporary, but… Shouta had a bad feeling.

Thankfully it didn't take them long to get to the nearest hospital and, since Hizashi was a pro hero injured while on duty, he was seen as soon as a doctor was available. All in all, it took less than an hour since check in for Hizashi to be seen, looked over, and for the specifics of the quirk to arrive.

Animal Morph. The police had ID'd the man not long after they had arrived at the hospital and the quirk was a powerful one, in its own right. It was a morphing quirk that forced the person's body to revert into the species of the last animal they had come into contact with and with Hizashi that meant their pet cats at home that had been sleeping on him before they got the call that the raid was about to begin.

The dangerous part of the quirk, Shouta had found out, was that all changes, complete or otherwise, were permanent. The reason Hizashi was only halfway shifted and not an actual cat was because Shouta had interrupted the process halfway through with his own quirk. It could have been a blessing, but it also meant that Hizashi was now stuck in a body that in no way could feel like his.

Shouta could tell that Hizashi was anxious and overwhelmed by the news and his now empty hospital room in the way he was playing with his hair, long ago fallen out of his 'Present Mic style' and hanging around him in ruffled, knotted waves. A quick pat down and Shouta managed to dig his phone out, flipping to one of Hizashi's more favored songs that he often played when needing something to focus on besides whatever was running around in his head. Shouta heard a shaking breath slip out of Hizashi as he set the phone down, but a glance up showed that he at least no longer looked ready to fall apart.

"You know," Hizashi finally managed, trying to be cheerful. "I thought you would be more excited by this." Looking up at Hizashi properly, Shouta tried to figure out how the hell Hizashi could be so calm in a situation like this. "C'mon, Shou-chan, am I not a good enough kitty for you?"

"Is this really the time to be making jokes?" Shouta muttered, trying to focus on his anger at the situation rather than the worry and fear he could already feel clawing at him.

"Are you kidding? This is the best time for jokes! Hey, you think the Wild, Wild Pussycats will ask me to be a part of their group, now? Because I'll have you know that Sosaki-san wanted me to join when we were all still in school! She said I would look cute with the ears, which, now we have proof that I do, but I turned her down because, hello, if I'm going to be part of a hero group it would be with you, Nemuri, and Tensei, yo. Hey! What if we formed a duo? I mean, I know you shot me down, like, twenty times before, but I really think-"

Listening to Hizashi ramble and ramble and ramble like he always did when he was scared, Shouta finally snapped out a desperate, "Hizashi." Pretending like this was all okay was only going to make it hurt worse later.

Instead of responding properly, Hizashi instead shifted on the hospital bed until he was sitting on the side and freeing up space, looking at Shouta with hopeful eyes. They had been confined to hospital beds enough times over their careers that Shouta didn't even hesitate, instead climbing into Hizashi's bed and too afraid to touch him and cause any unexpected pain. At least one of the doctors had mentioned an increase in sensitivity.

"You, my hero, take the blame for things that aren't your fault far too much," Hizashi said softly, a tired smile on his face as if he didn't realize this was all Shouta's fault. "Shouta… I would be a lot worse off right now if you hadn't stopped that quirk when you did."

"It's because of me that you're half cat." Shouta didn't shout, but it was a close thing. As it was, he could only stare up at where Hizashi's ears were now cat ears, furry, pointed, and on the top of his head. The tail to match was curled around Hizashi's waist as if even he didn't know how his body language screamed scared.

It was in the way the tail curled closer, the ears folded back for a few moments, and Hizashi began tugging at his hair again, picking out another knot that no doubt wasn't even there. It felt like an eternity before Hizashi looked back at him.

"Shouta," Hizashi said softly - so softly. Shouta couldn't have stopped himself from looking away if he had tried. "Shouta. This is not your fault. Our information was wrong. It was as simple as that."

Ready to argue because this actually was his fault this time, Shouta instead snapped his mouth shut as Hizashi's palms lightly slapped against his cheeks, forcing him to hold still and making him unable to properly look away as Hizashi continued, "No. You're the one who's always saying how much of a 'genius' or whatever I am, right? With the information we were given and the measures we took, we did everything right, Shouta. I've run over everything in my head a hundred times since I got pretty much shackled to this bed-"

"You are not shackled to the bed, Hizashi," Shouta interrupted, Hizashi just raising his voice to compensate.

"Since I was spiritually chained to this bed!" Ah, his ridiculous husband… "There were only two ways this could end, Shouta, and I think I prefer the option where I'm not stuck as a complete cat."

Shouta was silent, finally mumbling what had been playing on repeat in his head since they had arrived, "I should have reacted quicker. If I had, then you wouldn't be here like this."

"You did everything right, baby," Hizashi sighed, tugging Shouta closer and bracing their foreheads together, Shouta relaxing at the touch and moving to tangle his fingers with Hizashi's, earning a gentle squeeze back. "Now, really, you're allowed to show a bit of excitement about this."

"I'm not obsessed with cats like you seem to think I am," Shouta scoffed, pulling back after a few more moments of enjoying the contact. He shifted a little to get more comfortable, trying not to admit that he might have been studying the cat ears just a little.

"Mhm," Hizashi hummed, completely disbelieving as the song Shouta had turned on finally ended. Reaching over, Shouta grabbed the phone, flicking through until he started the playlist that Hizashi had been favoring at home lately. "You can touch them, you know."

It took a moment to realize what Hizashi meant, but when he did, Shouta felt his fingers twitch just enough to give him away. "Hizashi-"

"Please?" Hizashi asked quietly, looking away when he saw Shouta's surprise. "I just… really need you to act like everything is normal right now, Sho."

Hizashi, still looking away, sat perfectly still and silent. It was a look that didn't suit him and Shouta was moving before he could even fully think it through, reaching a hand up and lightly skimming his fingers down the edge of one of the ears, grinning at the soft, sleek fur that rubbed back against his fingers. He repeated the motion a couple of times before he noticed something that almost had him laughing.

"Are you… purring?" Shouta asked, Hizashi finally tilting his head to look back at him. Shouta couldn't stop a grin as he rubbed a bit harder. "As if the cats needed any more reason to love you more than me."

"It's because I feed them the good cat food!" Hizashi laughed, Shouta feeling something inside him finally start to uncoil. There was no doubt that things would be difficult for a while, but at least they would be okay.

It took until evening the next day, but Hizashi was finally released from the hospital and the two were able to make it home with a slew of aftercare instructions and checkup appointments and the knowledge that Hizashi had been given a week off from not only his pro hero work, but also his teaching and the radio station. It didn't take much to tell that Hizashi was aggravated at the fussing and Shouta had no doubt that forced leave from all three of his jobs was driving him crazy.

"I'll be fine, Shouta!" Which is how they made it to where Hizashi was trying to reassure Shouta who was very seriously debating calling in sick for his usual night patrol that he was supposed to leave for; soon. "I'm safe at home with doctor issued pain meds if anything gets too overwhelming!"

"Right." Shouta looked to where Hizashi's tail was lashing through the air and his ears were pressed back against his head. His entire posture was tense and it was years of knowing Hizashi, and years of knowing cats, that made it easy to see Hizashi was reaching his tolerance limit. "Hizashi."

Hizashi twitched before some of the tension leaked out of him, the man shuffling forward and dropping his head so it was resting on Shouta's shoulder. Shouta was wrapping his arms around him at once, frowning at Hizashi's shudder before he remembered the increased sensitivity.

"If you need time to yourself to adjust then that's fine," Shouta finally said quietly, running a hand through Hizashi's hair. "You don't need to lie to me and say you're alright." Whatever remaining tension was left seemed to drain out of Hizashi, the man near collapsed completely against him as Shouta held him just like always; just like he always would. "Don't overdo it with whatever you're planning."

There was a muffled snort and Shouta gave a pleasant shiver as he felt lips pressed against the edge of his jaw. "I'll take it easy," Hizashi said softly. "I just want to do a few tests of my own to see what changed." Hizashi pulled back, staring at Shouta before leaning in to give him a soft kiss, Shouta feeling some of his own worries and tension drain out. "Go on then, hero."

"I'll be back at my usual," Shouta said, pulling Hizashi back in for another kiss that turned deeper with just the slightest tilt of his head, smothering Hizashi's worries and complaints until the man was giving a soft whimper that had Shouta pulling back before he could forget that he really did have a patrol to do. "I'll be back."

"You had better," Hizashi mumbled, giving him a fleeting kiss before pulling out of his arms, some of his unease soothed away to show a softer smile. "I'll be okay, hero. I have something to keep me busy, after all."

If nothing else, Shouta supposed, at least he knew that Hizashi would see this condition as a new project. He just really hoped Hizashi didn't get carried away with any of his 'tests.'

It took two minutes before Shouta was out of hearing range. It took two minutes and three seconds before Hizashi punched the wall of their living room with more force than he should have, a shaking breath hissed out through his clenched teeth as he stared at the spiderweb cracks that spread out from the impact. His knuckles were already burning and red and Hizashi could only hope that Shouta wouldn't ask when he noticed later.

"Right," Hizashi mumbled to himself, feeling how his ears twitched at the sound of his voice. He knew his voice hadn't changed, a small mercy, but the sound was different to him in a way that he couldn't yet explain. It didn't help that even more noises were layered overtop the sound of his not-quite-changed-but-might-as-well-have-changed voice.

There was the sound of ticking antique clocks that were just a step out of tune with each other, there was the drip-drip-drip of the faucet from the bathroom, and there was a sharp, vibrating buzz of electricity zipping through the wall. If it was even just one of those sounds then maybe he could have adjusted and been alright, but there was just so much.

Sucking in a slow breath, Hizashi absently rubbed his sore knuckles as he took a moment to center himself. He knew it hadn't done much, but it was the thought that counted. He hoped.

"Right," Hizashi repeated to himself again, forcing a smile on his face as he saw Snowball, their largest and friendliest cat, wander into the room curiously. "I guess we can check off improved hearing on my list of things to test, huh?"

Snowball's meow was a near screech as always, Hizashi snorting and bending down to scratch the silly thing behind the ears. "At least now I know why you like this so much," Hizashi teased, laughing as Snowball purred like an engine before flopping over and looking up at him cutely. "I don't suppose I changed enough to understand you or you understand me?"

There was a moment where Hizashi was well and truly hopeful that his cat was about to whisper some secret on how he truly felt about him, but then the screeching meows returned and Hizashi didn't need to speak cat to know Snowball was asking for more scratches.

"Check that one off the list, too, then," Hizashi snorted, giving Snowball one last scratch before standing up and nervously dusting himself off. "Right. Time to get to work, then."

Hizashi was a media hero and could be silly, but he also had a fondness for engineering and lists, so it wasn't too hard to make a list and keep track of the changes he noticed as the night went on.

The first, of course, had been his hearing. He no longer needed his hearing aids, which was as thrilling as it was terrifying, and he heard more sounds than he could ever remember hearing. The way he heard also reminded him of surround sound headphones, but not in a bad way. No, the bad part of it was that Support was still trying to figure out how to make headphones that would protect his even more sensitive ears from his quirk. Hizashi was, too, but so far he hadn't had any luck, either, besides toying with the idea of earbuds.

The second change he really took note of was his sight. He still needed his glasses, sadly, but it had changed to where movement was sharper and clearer than things that were stationary. There was a word for it, but Hizashi was mostly focused on the fact he now had night vision and would now be able to make it to the bathroom at night without waking up Shouta too badly. There were also some color differences, but Hizashi had no idea how to explain it beyond different.

The next was taste because Hizashi had gotten hungry and then he realized that his tongue was different; or at least, the taste buds were. He was relieved beyond all measure to find that he didn't have barbs on his tongue, at least, and for more reason than one, although he noticed his teeth were, well, not exactly human-like anymore. They weren't monstrous, but they were definitely sharp. It wasn't likely anyone would notice too much when he talked, but his smiles were going to be more terrifying than Shouta's.

Those were at least all of the major changes, he had noticed. Everything else was… not small, but easier to adjust to. He couldn't exactly test his quirk when he was at home with the cats, but he remembered he had purred involuntarily in the hospital, so he could probably make other cat noises - not that he couldn't before, but it might be easier, now, he mused.

His balance seemed better, but it was hard to tell without something like a sparring match, which wouldn't be for another week since he had been given leave from all three of his jobs and put on bad rest. Other than that his nails were slightly sharper, he felt more sensitive to touch, and smells were so much stronger - which wasn't a bad thing, he found, when he wrapped himself up in one of Shouta's night shirts before bed and found that the scent near drowned him.

Overall, after a couple hours of adjusting on his own without any nurses or doctors or worried husbands, Hizashi realized that his new changes weren't all that bad. Different, perhaps, but he just needed to think of it like a new quirk.

A new quirk wasn't much of a bad thought.

At least, it wasn't until he realized just what this new quirk of his really meant over the following week.

It would have been fine if he maybe had almost any other quirk, but having his body change - having his ears and vocal folds change - when his quirk was Voice? It was a disaster and he couldn't even test how much.

Shouta had been hovering and worried, but Hizashi could barely fake a smile around him because he was still on his week-long lockdown and he couldn't do anything.

He couldn't go on patrols or even test his limits or his quirk without the equipment he would need to protect his ears. He couldn't grade or work on his lessons plans or do any paperwork at all without getting a headache because he had yet to get new glasses and every time he tried to read the words would just blur. He couldn't even go to the radio station and prepare for his show because everything was too much.

Hizashi couldn't even walk in a straight line without his completely screwed balance forcing him to walk into a wall or trip over something he hadn't noticed; one trip having been because of his tail; and hadn't that been fun to feel pain from a limb he hadn't had in all of his previous years of living.

The situation could have at least been salvaged if he and Shouta could joke about it, but an explosion of crime had been picking up across the city and even with all of his free time Hizashi barely saw his husband. On top of all that, as if it wasn't bad enough, they could barely touch without Hizashi feeling overwhelmed.

So, as if he wasn't pathetic enough, Hizashi was collapsed on the bedroom floor in a pile of his clothes, bitter tears streaming down his face as cool air and nothing else pressed against his skin.

It wasn't like this was his first time with sensory overload, but he was usually able to put on some soft shirts and relax somewhere until everything started calming down. Now, though, he couldn't even do that because everything he owned was either too rough or just didn't fit. All of his clothes were tailored and, with all the changes Hizashi's body had gone through, they didn't fit.

And, as if to make it worse, instead of sighing and going to get new clothes, because between him and Shouta and the five jobs they worked they could certainly afford it, he was crying like it was the end of the world.

It wasn't even the clothes that were the problem. He knew it wasn't. It was just the final shattering from the pressure that had been weighing down on him since this whole mess had begun.

He could have adjusted if it was just little changes or even some changes, but the fact his hearing had changed; he was afraid to use his quirk again. There was a reason he used to need hearing aids and now, as a thirty-one-year-old pro hero, he was terrified to ever use his quirk again. Everything else was just the icing on top.

"'Zashi?" Hearing Shouta's voice in the doorway, and too tired to try and pretend it was all okay to the man who knew him better than anyone, especially after his week, Hizashi only kept glaring down at the clothes on the floor around him, tears rolling down his cheeks. "You know, usually it's me destroying the closet trying to find something."

"They don't fit," Hizashi mumbled, hoping that would be enough to explain why he was on the floor now made of clothes while crying and wearing nothing but a pair of new boxers that allowed for his new tail. "None of them fit."

"Then we can go shopping," Shouta said, no hint of pause or hesitance in his words. Just a simple solution for what was a simple problem. "You love shopping and now you can try even more clothes that you couldn't before, and whatever you really want to save we can get altered to fit you again. Right?"

Hizashi flinched as he felt his tail lash out and thwap against his skin, reminding him that it wasn't just the clothes that was his problem. "I can barely walk a straight line because everything is different. How am I supposed to patrol, to fight, like this?"

"Easy. We'll train more until we figure out a new way for you, like we did when I couldn't use my binding cloth as well." The memory of Shouta re-learning new ways to use his quirk and binding cloth after USJ had Hizashi giving a small shudder before he noticed Shouta's voice was closer, Hizashi finally looking up only to have fabric dropping over his head, Shouta pushing and nudging at him for a minute until Hizashi was soon wearing an overly large sweater that was soft and warm and settled the restless itching of his skin.

Tucking his hands into the sleeves of the sweater, Hizashi felt like little more than a pathetic child as Shouta wiped his cheeks clean softly. Shouta shouldn't have to worry about this when there was already so much on his plate-

"Hey," Shouta scolded, pinching at his cheek and causing Hizashi to whine before he even fully realized it. "Your thoughts are as loud as you. No blaming yourself."

"I'm not- I should be able to control this. It's a lot of changes, yeah, but it's not- This shouldn't be so overwhelming!"

"We knew it was going to be difficult to adjust," Shouta said softly, Hizashi hating it and then immediately hating himself and why was it so much? "We'll get through this, 'Zashi, just like we have everything else."

"Shouta…" The clothes would easy to fix. The physical training would be harder, but it was nothing Hizashi hadn't done before. The little things like the new ears and tail he could learn to be okay with, but… "I can't use my quirk like this."

His vocal folds had changed and they had no idea if his quirk was going to be more powerful or less powerful because of it. There was no way to even test it with his new ears, bulky and awkward and too dangerous around loud noises. If Hizashi wasn't careful, then he could go completely deaf with just one scream. He had been hard of hearing before, but he had still been able to hear, and his hearing aids had been made to restore almost full sound. The idea of going completely deaf and never being able to properly use his quirk again without risking damage and harm was too awful a thought.

"And since when has a quirk decided who you are?" Shouta's hand settled on his jaw before lifting his head up, Shouta's entire focus solely on him. "How many fights have you been in where you won and didn't use your quirk?"

"I- Those were specialized cases or training exercises or times where I just got lucky, Shouta, it doesn't mean-"

"And since when did you need your quirk in order to do your show? As far as I remember, they hate when you use your quirk on your show; and you hate it because it damages the equipment."

Hizashi bit his lip, silently conceding that he did have a point with that, at least. Hizashi didn't need to use his quirk to still be a DJ, which he would be able to go back to as soon as all his sensitivity went down.

"You also don't need your quirk to teach your students. In fact, I think they'll appreciate that you can only scream at them normally when they fall asleep instead of quirk screaming at them-"

"It was one time and that little punk had it coming," Hizashi defended himself, slightly startled when Shouta's hands tangled with his, palms clasped together and grip tight on his own. For the first time in days, it felt like Hizashi could breathe again. "Shouta…"

"Since when did you ever need your quirk to be Yamada Hizashi?" Shouta gave him a soft, fond smile, bumping their foreheads together and startling Hizashi into giving a wet laugh. "This isn't the end of the world, Sunshine. Isn't that what you told me all those months ago?"

Ah, but he had forgotten. Hizashi wasn't alone in dealing with all of this. It wasn't pleasant, and it would probably never be pleasant, but he wasn't alone. He really had been having a bad week if he had forgotten that.

"Maybe, but you said it better." Hizashi tilted his head up to give Shouta a chaste kiss, fears and worries chased away by Shouta once again. "At least I'm even better looking than before, right?"

As he had hoped, Shouta let out an actual laugh, shaking his head as he tugged at Hizashi's left hand, tangling their fingers together before brushing his lips against his wedding ring, Hizashi feeling his heart skip a beat even though they had been together for years. At this point, they had known each other for a little over half their lives, and yet Shouta still always managed to make him so flustered.

"We'll get through this, Sunshine, just like we've always done. Together." For the first time since the raid gone wrong, Hizashi felt something in him finally settle.

"Oh, what the hell, that's so unfair! You can't just swoop in and sweep me off my feet like that, Shouta, that's unfair! Stop being unfair!" This time, the tears weren't bitter as Shouta laughed brightly.

As sweet as Shouta's words, though, that didn't mean everything solved itself instantly.

Once his week of being quarantined was up Hizashi had thrown himself back into his usual routines to prove that everything was great and he could handle the changes that had happened to him, which would have been great if it were true.

"You were unconscious! You're supposed to be a long-distance fighter so please, I'm begging you, how do you end up allowing a jewelry thief close enough to knock you out with a punch?!" Hizashi loved his interns at the radio station, truly, he did, but sometimes he wished they had an off switch. Especially Suki.

"Hey, Suki-chan, I know you're hyped up on about five different kinds of energy drinks, but could you maybe lower your volume just a little tiny bit while I wallow in my grief and exhaustion?" Hizashi aimed for a dramatic tone of voice, but most of it just came out tired as he leaned back in his comfortable office chair in his recording booth and pressed the ice pack he had scrounged up against the black eye he had acquired a few hours ago while on patrol.

"I would, but Aizawa-san said that I'm allowed to be cruel when I think you deserve it, and I think you definitely deserve it if you're doing hero work after everything!" Suki's yelling had Hizashi's ears twitching, the sensation starting to become familiar; or, at least, Hizashi was able to appreciate when he could press his new ears down against his head and block out some of the noise. "He also sent a message that he would be here to walk you home."

Hizashi groaned and sunk down in his chair even more, mostly due to guilt about throwing himself back into his hero work when he really shouldn't have, and partly because his husband was the most adorable, stubborn man in all of the world.

As if the man could read minds, which Hizashi wouldn't put past him, his phone buzzed with a new message. He still had half an hour until the playlist ended and he would have to go back on air for a segment, but for the moment it was all too easy to toss his ice pack, now melted, onto the floor and away from any cords as he grabbed his phone.

'Takada says you're being an irresponsible idiot. What did you do?' It took a moment to find his new glasses and shove them on so he could actually read the text, but when he did he was immediately glaring over at Suki where she was monitoring the show and equipment from the outside of the booth, the line open and window clear.

"Are you a spy of my husband?" Instead of a proper answer, Suki pointedly drank from a container of coffee that came from one of the more expensive coffee stores in their part of town. 'How dare you turn my interns against me! Now I must purge them!' "Now you're getting the cheap American brand of coffee come Christmas!"

'You wouldn't dare you care too much.' Aah, Shouta knew him so well! 'And Takada would become a super villain and give you even more work.' So very, very well.

'Ah, yes, the true reason to keep her employed. It has nothing to do with how fond you've become of her. How's patrol?'

'Fine.' Staring down at the single word text, Hizashi showed his displeasure with a slew of emojis. Shouta may have been a man of few words, but that was ridiculous even for him. 'How's the station?'

'Fine.' There, see? Hizashi could do it, too! 'Except I hate my new glasses they're curved all weird because of the LACK OF EARS where there should normally be ears like if my vision was going to change why couldn't it get just good enough to not need glasses this is horrible Shou-chan I'm dying and it's all over for me.'

As soon as the message was sent, Hizashi looked down at his phone, sighed, leaned back, made sure his tail was out of the way of his office chair wheels because once was far more than enough, and then held his phone out and accepted the call that popped up before it could even fully ring. "You, sweet Starlight, are far too predictable."

"Glad to know it goes both ways." As it always had and no doubt always would, Shouta's voice had something in Hizashi uncoiling as he slumped down in his seat even more. Even his bruise seemed to ache and burn less - which was a definite improvement. "And Takada didn't turn anymore spy than usual. Nemuri sent me some news clips from today."

"Ah." Hizashi was surprised there was any room left to sink down, but he still managed it, playing with the earbuds around his neck that he had slowly been getting used to. Any ideas on actual headphones had been scrapped for his new ears, but Hizashi and the Support workers he could bribe had been playing around with the idea of earbuds and ear plugs that would seal the ears as soon as his quirk reached harmful decibels. "I don't suppose the excuse of-"

"No, it wouldn't work." Shouta sounded a mixture of tired and amused, with, thank god, amusement winning out. "The condition of being back on patrol meant you were supposed to be careful, not run into every fist you see."

"I was being careful!" Hizashi whined, drawing out the words to make Shouta laugh and Suki twitch and yell at him to stop being annoying. "I think the plugs still need some work, though. They didn't fail, but they felt uncomfortable as hell."

If he were being honest with himself, which he tried not to be too often, the plugs were a big reason of why he had been so distracted with his capture that day. He was still adjusting to the overwhelming noise of the city and, well, being a media hero… He was caught off guard more than he wanted to be.

There was a soft laugh from Shouta over the phone, Hizashi wishing he could hold it up to his ear to hear the sound even better like he used to. There were still so many things to adjust to. "At least you kept up on your physical training from what Nemuri showed me."

"Yeah, well, it's not like I can punch my students," Hizashi snorted, rubbing at his eyes for a moment. "I'd love to, though, Shouta, I really, really, really would. A lot of them are idiots, Shouta, and while some of them are cute, well-meaning idiots, they're still idiots."

There was more laughter coming from Shouta and Hizashi soaked up the sound like he would a favorite song of his. In a way, Shouta's laughter was his favorite song. "I'm serious, Shou-chan! It's not like the teachers are any better, either! Don't get me wrong, I love Yagi-san, but he's so…" Trailing off, Hizashi was torn as his lips screwed up into something between a grimace and a grin. "How much of a hypocrite would I be if I said he was loud?"

"Incredibly. Not so easy now that you can't just turn your hearing aids down, huh?" Aah, so Shouta had known about that. "Did Nezu say anything?"

"Not much. Welcomed me back, was glad to see I was doing alright, and told me to let him know if I need any help or more time off or something like that. Apparently he's just been waiting for me to use up my sick days- Don't laugh at that! You're even worse than I am!"

Hearing tapping on the glass window, Hizashi flicked his gaze up to see Suki looking expectant before calling out, "Unless you wanna broadcast you being all sweet and loving with Aizawa-san, then you might want to hang up. We're live in five minutes."

"I don't wanna go back on," Hizashi whined, clutching his phone as if Suki would come in and take it away from him. He wouldn't put it past her, the little gremlin. "Let me talk to my husband in peace!"

Hizashi's dramatics were awarded with another one of Shouta's low chuckles before he was speaking again. "Go on. I'll still hear you. I always do."

"Yo, what the hell, you can't be that sweet when I'm at that station, Shou-chan, we've talked about this! The last thing I need to do is cry live on air!"

"I'll see you later tonight, Sunshine." The words were nothing less than a promise and Hizashi knew he was now going to be distracted for the rest of his show. He loved it. "Love you."

"I love you too, Shouta," Hizashi said softly, ending the call and adjusting his earbuds to catch the last song on his setlist. Getting ready to flip himself over to his microphone, Hizashi took a moment to calm himself down.

While his eye was still throbbing and his ice pack had only lasted for so long, this, hosting his show and connecting to an audience that loved to listen, was something he would always be able to do.

Hero work, however…

The next few patrols after his first one back showed that he desperately needed more training, both to focus on new ways to use his quirk and to improve his hand-to-hand combat.

He hadn't expected that to lead to him gasping for breath on the floor in one of the school gyms, struggling to try and remember that he wasn't going to die and that his friends had no understanding of the word mercy.

"You're doing great, Hizashi, you just need to move faster next time!" Tilting his head back just enough to glare at Tensei, Hizashi flipped him off. "That's what your husband is for!"

"Oh, yeah, move faster coming from the one in the wheelchair," Hizashi grumbled to himself, rolling his eyes when Tensei only laughed. "Moving with an entirely new body is harder than it looks, you know!"

Groaning when his side was nudged with a familiar boot, Hizashi squinted up at Nemuri before frowning. "Why are you crooked?"

"That would be your goggles, baby, not me-"

"Are you saying you're not crooked, Nems? We all know that out of all of us you'd be the super villain-"

As Tensei and Nemuri started fighting, as always, Hizashi smiled tiredly as Shouta knelt and adjusted Hizashi's goggles - the only solution they had when it came to his poor vision. His new curved glasses may have worked when he was at home or at the station, but not so much when he needed to fight.

"Looks like we're matching more and more," Hizashi joked, accepting the hand to help pull him up. "How am I doing so far?"

"Better," Shouta smiled. "Much better. How are your ears? Any problems so far?" Before Hizashi could answer, he felt Shouta lightly rubbing at his ears, Hizashi feeling the rumble in his throat that signified he was purring. "I'll take that as a no."

"You're just lucky you're cute," Hizashi managed to mutter, not even trying to fight the delightful feeling. "I dunno, my normal attacks cause more pain than they should, but I can still use the high range set. Echolocation, disorientation, everything infrasonic, basically."

Shouta hummed, looking thoughtful as he dropped his hand and tugged at the bands of his binding cloth. He probably wasn't even aware he was doing it, which made it all the cuter. "You were starting to have trouble with your more powerful attacks, anyways."

"Yeah," Hizashi sighed, trying to make it as dramatic as possible as he collapsed against Shouta's front, stretching his arms out over the man's shoulders and nuzzling at the cloth where he would usually be pressing kisses against bare skin. "We always knew my career had a time limit, I guess."

Shouta gave another soft hum, a hand moving to play with the ends of his hair that he had pulled out of the way in a simple ponytail. While he loved his usual Present Mic look, it had been destroyed considering his ears and new skin sensitivity. Half his classes still couldn't recognize him in the halls, now, and Nemuri had held a 'funeral' for his typical Present Mic hairstyle which, for her, had been an excuse to insult it for two hours.

Taking a moment to curl closer and relax at Shouta's scent, which was stronger and far more earthy since this mess had begun, Hizashi finally pushed himself back and gave a smile. "Right, then! Let's keep going, yeah?"

"You sure?" Shouta studied his face quickly and easily, Hizashi snorting when Shouta looked suspicious. "They'll probably be fighting for another half hour, at least."

"I'm sure, Shouta," Hizashi smiled, snagging a quick kiss that deepened when he felt Shouta's tongue trace the seam of his lips, slipping in before Hizashi could even think to deny him. It didn't help when he felt fingers dragging down against his scalp in just the right way to have a wave of shivers rushing over him.

It took longer than it should have before Hizashi managed to pull back, panting against Shouta's lips and muttering a weak, "That's not going to make me want to keep sparring."

"Mm, no, I think it'll give you just the motivation that you need," Shouta smirked before moving so his lips were pressed against the edge of Hizashi's jaw, teeth catching at the skin.

Then, just like that, Shouta was gone and heading towards the other side of the gym, Hizashi shaky and trying to get his balance back under him as he took a few deep breaths.

Shouta was smirking at him as he always did after distracting him before their next sparring match, Nemuri and Tensei were loudly arguing about who was to blame for their last outing that ended in food poisoning for all four of them, and Hizashi felt like his heart was fit to burst with how many great people he had in his life.

He supposed that, if nothing else, he would always have these three behind him. For now, though, Hizashi adjusted his goggles, made sure his earplugs were in position, sucked in a steady breath, and grinned.

Present Mic still had a few more years left, as far as he was concerned.

Shouta was used to working when he was sleep deprived considering the fact he was a teacher and an underground hero; not to mention he now also had dorm duties thanks to U.A.'s new living system. Overall, he was busy enough that he was used to sleep deprivation and he was used to thinking and working through it.

No matter how long he stared down at Shinsou Hitoshi, though, Shouta couldn't figure out why the kid was there - there being his and Hizashi's on campus apartment that was only a few minutes' walk from the 1-A dorms. The teen was his mentee, one that he and Hizashi both had grown horribly and overwhelming fond of, but as far as Shouta was aware, there was nothing that would have him in front of their door this late at night, and he could at least rule out an emergency because Hitoshi was looking more embarrassed than panicked.

Finally, after a few minutes of nothing being said, Shouta sighed and opened the door more. "Hitoshi, why aren't you in your dorms when it's past curfew?"

Interestingly enough, Hitoshi's embarrassment seemed to get worse, the teen finally muttering out a weak, "Getting lost isn't a right answer, there, huh." As usual with him, his tone flattened the words, making it so there was no chance of it being a question. Shouta felt a brief flash of rage for every adult who had ever made Hitoshi think that he couldn't ask a simple question before Hitoshi was speaking again. "Is Yamada-san home?"

Oh. Now that was interesting. Staying silent, Shouta waited until Hitoshi broke and started rambling, unable to stand the awkward silence. It was a great trick to get him to talk. "See, okay, so, I was watching the hero news before I go to bed because, you know, I'm in a school made for heroes, and stuff, so it's a good thing to do, right?

"So, uh, I was watching the news and all these clips and I saw Present Mic's latest interview about the raid and stuff where he, uh, yeah, and, well, um, I was- I wasn't worried, but, uh, you know that I like cats, and stuff, and I know he's a media hero and loves the spotlight and stuff, but his ears and tail kept reminding me of a cat ready to attack or something the longer the interview went on and I just wanted to come by and check if he was alright because I know what's it like to keep getting pushed to answer questions you don't want to answer."

In the ensuing silence as Hitoshi gasped for breath, having rambled for longer than he had air, Shouta nodded to himself before stepping back, opening the door completely, and dragging Hitoshi inside.

"He's on the couch. Shoes off and then you can go talk to him. He's been sulking." Shouta made sure the kid took his coat off, too, hanging it up before following after him to the living room where Hizashi was curled up on the couch and looking dejected, eyes on the TV where his latest interview was playing - one that he had been ambushed for right after a fight that had gone poorly once again.

"Present Mic, have you thought about retiring due to recent circumstances that have left you unable to fight?"

"'Present Mic, have you thought about retiring,'" Hizashi mimicked, Shouta fighting back a laugh as Hitoshi seemed to be doing the same. "I can fight well enough to take down villains without causing property damage like some heroes!"

"Probably why you went up a couple spots in the hero rankings last week," Hitoshi said in way of a greeting, Shouta unable to hide a snort as Hizashi jumped, ears pricking up. "A lot of people think you're gonna join the Wild Wild Pussycats, though."

Hizashi looked between Hitoshi and Shouta for a few seconds before scooting over and freeing up some more room on the couch, Shouta feeling something in him relax and warm when Hitoshi went over to sit down without being asked or nudged or pushed. Hizashi seemed to feel the same, fond expression on his face before he was launching into his favorite story about almost joining the hero group when they had just graduated from their third year.

As Hizashi talked and Hitoshi listened with rapt attention, Shouta moved and started 'cleaning' to make it look like he was busy, instead mostly watching the two as Hitoshi laughed and talked freely and Hizashi seemed to relax and come out of his depressive attitude that he had been stuck in since getting home.

It was nice to know that if Hizashi got to force Shouta into being 'positive' about everything and then not take his own advice, then Hizashi got to deal with a worried Hitoshi; who was now sprouting off cat facts and new ways Hizashi might be able to fight and use his quirk.

Shouta wasn't aware of how caught up he was in watching them until he was rolling his eyes as Hizashi cooed over Hitoshi, hugging the teen tightly before looking over to Shouta and chirping out a cheerful, "Shouta, don't we have such a great kid!"

"He comes all the way to check on you and instead you torture him? So much for being a hero," Shouta snorted, watching as Hizashi only tugged off his 'depression blanket' and dropped it on Hitoshi, who seemed all too glad to have a reason to hide his face. "Hitoshi, which teacher is on dorm duty for 1-C tonight?"

"Oh, uh, Midnight-sensei." Hitoshi poked his head out from under the blanket, wrapping the rest around him and looking one step away from falling asleep under it, especially with the bags under his eyes that were as bad as Shouta's. "She gave me permission to come over and said she'd text you."

"She did?" Shouta frowned, patting at his pockets before digging out his phone and staring at the empty screen. Pulling up Nemuri's contact, Shouta sent a quick message asking her if she knew Hitoshi had left the dorms.

"Hang on, it's already close to eleven," Hizashi frowned, looking up to glance out one of the windows where night had already fallen. "Did you walk all the way over here in the dark?"

Hitoshi stared at him for a long moment before averting his eyes and clearing his throat, finally muttering out a quiet, "Maybe."

Hizashi was already laughing as Shouta's phone buzzed with a new message, Shouta rolling his eyes. 'Oh yeah I forgot to tell you! Hitoshi-chan is coming your way he has permission to stay with you if you don't wanna send him back!'

"Hitoshi, Nemuri says you have permission to spend the night in our guest bedroom if you want to stay instead of walking back," Shouta said, shoving his phone away and collapsing on the couch on Hitoshi's other side, watching the teen carefully to see the indecision. "One of us will walk you back, if you want, but I think we'd prefer it if you stayed here considering the time."

"You're not as subtle as you used to be, Sensei," Hitoshi said, Shouta trying to smother the proud grin that wanted to come up. It used to be that Hitoshi would just nod along to whatever was 'less troublesome.' "You guys wouldn't mind if I stayed?"

"Of course not!" Hizashi said, wrapping Hitoshi up in another tight hug that the teen didn't even try to fight against. "We'd love to have you stay here, Hitoshi." Hizashi made a sound that was almost like an actual chirp, Shouta slowly raising his eyebrows as Hizashi nuzzled the top of Hitoshi's head in a move that was far too like what one of their cats would do when scent marking them.

Hitoshi seemed completely baffled as if he had realized the same thing, looking to Shouta and asking a weak, "Should I be fighting against this or just let it happen?"

"With him? You don't have the energy to fight against him," Shouta snorted, making a mental note of another new 'cat trait' of Hizashi's.

Shouta hadn't thought much of it when Hizashi had worn Shouta's shirts or rubbed their cheeks together or rubbed at his neck since it was far from the first time, but watching him ruffle Hitoshi's hair before starting to comb his fingers through it after nuzzling him, well. The scent marking shouldn't be too surprising. It was at least tame compared to some of the other new traits.

Glancing at the time again, Shouta turned down the volume on the news station that was still playing, sat back, and waited.

It took half an hour before Hitoshi was completely asleep against Hizashi, blanket tucked around him and hair a fluffy mess that made him look so much younger than he acted. Seeing the soft, fond look on Hizashi's face and the fact the man's tail was wrapped around Hitoshi, Shouta didn't bother feeling guilty about taking his phone out again and snapping a picture.

"You had better share that one, Shou-chan," Hizashi pouted, looking up at Shouta before that fond look turned to worry. "Summer isn't too far away… Do you really think he'll say yes?"

Thinking about the question for a moment, Shouta stared at the two before sighing. "I hope he will, but I'm not sure. It could go either way. It's… From what his caseworker said and what he's told us, it doesn't sound like he's really had a family before - at least, not in a long time."

"He's almost sixteen, too," Hizashi grumbled, ears flicking and pressing back, but not fully. The tail, meanwhile, curled more tightly around the sleeping teenager. "It's not like he'll really need parents for very long."

"No, he won't," Shouta agreed, gaze drifting up to meet Hizashi's. "But maybe he'll want them." A moment passed where Hizashi looked terribly fond before Shouta cleared his throat and stood up. "Besides, who wouldn't want a half-cat dad."

"Says the one who almost got adopted by Nezu when we were still in school. Didn't he even have the paperwork drawn up, at one point?"

"Still does," Shouta laughed, lightly patting at Hitoshi's cheek for a moment. The teen didn't so much as twitch. "I'll carry him to his room. He needs the sleep."

Hizashi snorted, stealing a kiss when Shouta leaned over to scoop Hitoshi into his arms. Shouta managed to give him a decent glare even as he flushed, careful when he stood back up. Stepping away, he paused at seeing Hizashi's grin, something soft and warm and so loving. "What? What's with that look?"

"I just…" Hizashi paused, quiet before he shook his head and got to his feet, kissing Shouta's cheek softly. "I guess I just really love our family."

"That was cruel," Shouta grumbled, feeling the heat in his cheeks as he quickly walked away from Hizashi's stifled laughter.

Shaking it off and getting to the guest bedroom, which looked more like a bedroom for a teenager who loved heroes and soft things because both he and Hizashi were far too weak, Shouta went to the bed and set Hitoshi down carefully, blanket and all. Tugging out the others from under Hitoshi and then setting them on top of him, Shouta sighed and crossed his arms.

"You know, it's more convincing if you make it seem like you're almost waking up, especially when being moved around." Shouta watched as Hitoshi cracked his eyes open, looking bleary, but still decently awake. He also had a small smirk that Shouta had to fight to not laugh at. "You can eat breakfast here, but we'll make sure you get back to your dorm before classes."

Halfway to the door, Shouta stopped and turned around at Hitoshi's quiet, "Sensei?" Waiting patiently, Shouta watched as Hitoshi's gaze flicked around the room before settling on him with a type of resolve he hadn't seen since the teen had vowed that he would be a hero. "I'll say yes."

"Oh?" Running back over their conversation from earlier, Shouta tried to figure out what Hitoshi could be saying yes to before he was speaking again.

"This summer. When you… When you ask me… I'll say yes." Oh. Oh. Shouta stared, utterly speechless for a moment before Hitoshi laughed and turned around so he was even more wrapped up in his blankets. "Goodnight, Sensei."

Somehow managing a quiet goodnight as he left the room, Shouta shut the door gently before looking to where Hizashi had been leaning against the wall and listening, hands now covering his mouth and eyes wide with quickly forming tears. Everything about him screamed nothing except joy.

"Well," Shouta finally managed, grin tugging at his lips. "Guess this makes it easier since you were scent marking him half the night."

Laughing at the squawk of outrage, Shouta quickly dodged the playful swipe and dragged Hizashi along to their bedroom, mind racing. They had a lot to get ready before they brought their son home for the summer, after all.

Of course, some of what still needed doing was working on Hizashi's quirk.

It had been a couple of months since the raid and while Hizashi was adjusting, there were still things he could no longer do with his quirk, and it wasn't hard to see he was having a harder time fighting in public areas where everything was loud, bright, and overwhelming on a good day.

Their sparring sessions had gone down now that Hizashi seemed to have a decent time with his new flexibility and movement, fighting styles all altered to fit and now able to land on his feet when he was falling - even if it was back first - but his ears… Shouta had a feeling hearing aids for cat ears were a lot harder to come by.

Shouta sighed to himself, trying to stop thinking about Hizashi's patrols as he worked on his own, eyes scanning familiar streets and late night wanderers who were making their way home. A flash of blonde hair from a laughing woman surrounded by friends had his mind going right back to Hizashi, though.

If they couldn't figure out a way for Hizashi to safely do his hero work, then the days of Present Mic might be reaching their end. The thought alone had Shouta giving out a bitter laugh, unable to help the thought of how he was supposed to be the one who retired first - especially considering how the USJ incident had gone. There had to be something they could do.

A shrill scream broke the night and his thoughts and Shouta was already on the move before it fully registered, bands snapping out to wrap around one of the streetlamps and bring him to ground level just as he saw a male figure roughly his height disappearing around a corner and into an alleyway with something clutched in his hands, a woman a few feet away collapsed on the ground and looking panicked.

Shouta stopped by her for half a moment, checking her over for any damage and seeing nothing more than a cut on her arm that looked to be shallow. "Hey- Are you a hero? He stole my bag- My whole life is in that thing!"

"I am and I'll help you get it back as best I can. Do you still have your phone? Can you call the police?" When he got a shake of the head, Shouta tsked and tossed his own phone towards her after unlocking it. "Call the police and explain the situation. I'll be right back, ma'am."

Shouta left before she could get anything else out, heading down the alley and swearing to himself when he saw it empty. It didn't feel empty, though, and that meant a quirk that allowed the thief to hide - which was good. Hiding was something Shouta could work with.

"Oi, oi, a purse snatcher, really? Don't you have some candy to steal from babies, instead?" Shouta drawled, eyes scanning for any sort of movement and ears straining for sound. "Should I have had your parents called instead of the police?"

There was the slightest noise behind him and that was all Shouta needed to spin around and quickly cross his arms and hold them up, catching the boot that had almost slammed into his back. The thief, male, black hair, black eyes, pale, roughly in his twenties, looked surprised before he was jerking back. He only managed a few feet before Shouta had his cloth snapping out, two of the bands wrapping around the thief as Shouta reached for his quirk, not quite activating it but ready to at a moment's notice.

"Next time, kid, you might want to stop and think before committing one of the most cliché crimes there is." Instead of paling further and making excuses or threats as typically happened, the kid grinned.

"You must be Eraserhead." Fuck. It was never good when they knew his name. "My mentor told me about you. Said that you patrolled this area. Guess he was right."

Trap.

"Good job, Shade." There had been no sound or movement in the alleyway besides him and 'Shade,' but the voice was right behind him and it took everything Shouta had not to tense up. "Flushed out like a rat, don't you think, Eraserhead?"

Shade squirmed and Shouta tightened the bands on instinct, taking a moment to re-think his plans and what he could do. Police were already on their way, so he only had to keep the two busy for so long. That should be simple enough - although it depended on who he was up against.

"What? No greeting? Where are your manners, Eraserhead?" Whoever was behind this sounded like he knew him in some way or another. That usually made things worse.

"I keep asking him the same thing, yo, but he never answers!" Freezing at the voice that he knew better than his own, Shouta wasn't sure whether to laugh or yell at the fact Hizashi, no doubt on his way home from the radio station, had found the exact alleyway he was in. "Oi, oi, a party I wasn't invited to? Eraser! I'm hurt!"

"Who the hell-" Not letting the man behind him finish, Shouta activated his quirk before gripping the bands tightly and moving to throw the one he had captured into the one behind him, loosening the cloth just in time for the two to both go tumbling to the ground, Shouta almost smiling at Hizashi's bright laughter.

"Looks like U.A.'s favorite hero duo is back in action!" Hizashi cheerfully shouted, Shouta making sure the two villains were distracted before he was digging out a pair of ear plugs from his belt and slipping them in. He had worked with Hizashi too often in the past to not be prepared. "What do you say, Eraser, fancy a team up?"

Shouta finally looked up to see Hizashi stalking forward with one of his Present Mic grins, looking the part of yakuza more than anything else; or worse, considering his smiles were now filled with sharp, dangerous teeth. Shouta couldn't help a snort as he readied the binding cloth again with a quick, "You're not my first choice, but you'll do."

Hizashi's laugh was the only signal he needed before they were both launching into action, Shouta more pleased than he would have thought at being able to fight by Hizashi's side again. There had been a reason, he mused, that no one in their third year would go up against them during matchups.

Five minutes, if that, had the two villains tied up in a bright spot, mostly due to Shade's ability to hide in the shadows, the stolen bag returned, and the police on their way.

"You know," Shouta said as he nudged at Hizashi softly. "You don't make a half bad underground hero."

Instead of laughing and waving the compliment off, Shouta felt something like dread as Hizashi perked up before grinning. "You think? Because, now, I know you've shot me down time and time again about the whole hero duo thing, but, I want you to hear me out on this one!"

Shouta paused as Hizashi went off into his 'argument,' thinking about it himself. He had always shot Hizashi down about being a duo purely because while their quirks and fighting styles matched up, everything else… didn't. Present Mic was a media hero who was always in the spotlight, but now that spotlight was damaging him. If he were to become an underground hero, though, well. That made it different.

Not only would Hizashi be relying on the infrasonic parts of his quirk instead of just pure shouting force, he wouldn't be dealing with the overwhelming sights and sounds of the city when it was awake. His new fighting style in thanks to his 'new quirk' as he kept calling it would only make it easier, especially since he now had the skills to not only keep up but catch up. A hero duo between the two of them wasn't such a bad idea anymore.

Looking to where Hizashi was still rambling, Shouta stole a glance at the villains, making sure they were knocked out completely before cutting Hizashi off with a soft kiss, muffling the words until Hizashi was making a small noise and then kissing him back. It was a delight to pull back and see Hizashi looked completely distracted, tongue darting out to lick his lips as he managed a quiet, "What was that for?"

"Compensation since you don't get to choose the final name for us," Shouta hummed, pleased when it only took half a second before Hizashi seemed to catch on. "You'll need a new hero costume."

"Between you and me," Hizashi sighed dramatically, winding his arms around Shouta's neck. "Leather was never such a good idea to begin with."

Shouta hummed, running a hand through Hizashi's hair and hiding a smile as he heard the approaching sirens. Hizashi, he knew, had come to the same conclusion he had. Present Mic's days as a media hero were over, but that didn't mean Present Mic was over.

The panic over the last few months had finally settled down and their lives could continue as they always had.

At least, that was the plan before Eri came along.

They had started the school year with no children and the mistaken belief that everything would continue as it always had. Now it was a few weeks into summer, they had two children who Shouta would kill for without question, and he and his husband were an underground hero duo that couldn't be beat.

"I think Hizashi-san has gotten a little carried away with the whole parent to a little girl thing," Hitoshi mumbled, pushing over the half full coffee pot the moment Shouta sat down at the table. "They've spent the last hour running around as magical girls and 'vanquishing' the darkness."

Shouta hummed, looking to where he saw a flash of laces and ribbons running past, accompanied by Eri's bright giggles that were still rare enough to be precious. Looking back to Hitoshi, who was half-asleep like a sensible person and tucked under one of the blankets they had bought him, Shouta asked a simple, "Pictures?"

Hitoshi almost looked offended as he answered. "Of course. I already uploaded them to Hizashi-san's online album or whatever it is." They had wonderful children and Shouta had the distinct feeling that he would go to war with anyone who said otherwise. "You might wanna talk with Eri, later, though. She was asking me quirk-related questions, like how to use a quirk and control it and stuff."

"At least she's healing enough to be curious about quirks again," Shouta pointed out, draining half his cup in one go. Hitoshi raised an eyebrow and pushed the pot closer towards him. "Anything I should worry about?"

Hitoshi scrunched up his nose and thought about it, the expression horribly similar to Hizashi when he was thinking over something himself. "I don't think so. I think… I don't know. I think she might be getting more comfortable with her quirk."

"Seems to be a common theme in this family." Shouta drained the rest of his cup, hiding a smile at Hitoshi's eye rolling. "Alright, I'll go check on her and Hizashi and their quest to 'vanquish the darkness.' Don't go back to sleep, yet. Nemuri's coming over for lunch."

"Cool. I'll just stay up and then pass out at the table once she and Hizashi-san start one of their 'debates,'" Hitoshi yawned, grabbing his own cup of coffee and stumbling off towards his room. "Or I'll go into a coma, first."

Shouta snorted and drained the rest of his own cup before gathering the few dishes scattered about and placing them in the sink, taking a moment to make sure the kitchen wasn't about to devolve into total anarchy before heading off towards Eri's room where he could still hear faint giggles of laughter.

"-really happened only a few months ago? You seem, um… It fits." At Eri's soft, stumbling words, Shouta peered around the corner, still mostly out of sight, to see that Eri had a small hand wrapped around Hizashi's tail, the girl being careful to stroke the fur in one direction. Hizashi, wrapped up in a soft sweater and a few pink ribbons, gave a soft noise that was between a purr and a hum as one of his ears twitched.

"Yep! It happened because of my hero work where I was helping other little kids who were trapped - like you! It doesn't hurt anymore, and I've learned to make the most of it." Hizashi looked around dramatically, Shouta watching as Hizashi caught his gaze for a half second before grinning and bending down to whisper to Eri, the two of them sitting on the floor with Eri bundled in his lap. "You know, I actually think of it like a second quirk. How cool is that?"

Eri giggled as Hizashi wrapped his arms around her and hugged her close, a soft, warm smile on his face that Shouta had only seen directed towards him, and now, of course, their kids. He was ready to leave it at that and head back to Hitoshi's room to make sure the teen was really awake, but he paused at hearing Eri's soft, "Do you ever wish you could go back? To before you were changed?"

Hizashi seemed as surprised as Shouta, opening and closing his mouth before giving a thoughtful little noise that Shouta knew meant he was completely surprised. "Well… I guess I've thought of it a few times, back when this first happened and everything was still so new and overwhelming. Why do you ask, sweetie?"

"Oh, um, well…" Eri shifting and squirmed like she did when she had something she wanted to say and didn't know how to say it, but Shouta wasn't worried. Hizashi was more patient than anyone he had ever met, and he seemed all too content to play with Eri's hair and rub her back as she fought with her words. "I've… been thinking about my quirk and practicing during the sessions with it and… I'm getting better." There was no 'I think' before the words and Shouta knew his expression was as stupidly fond as Hizashi's.

"I'm getting better at rewinding things before it gets too much, and- And you told me it hasn't even really been a year," Eri continued, hands clutching at her dress before she looked up at Hizashi with as much determination as she could muster. "I think I can rewind you back to before you were like this. Do you-"

"No." The answer was as quick as it was soft, Shouta creeping closer and not sure if he or Eri were more surprised by the answer. "Oh, Princess, don't get me wrong, I'm so happy that you're starting to see the good you can do with your quirk, but I don't need it."

"But… you said it hurt. When it happened, you said it hurt, and you told me once that you still hurt from it all sometimes! Aren't you supposed to want to get better when you're hurt?" Eri crossed her arms and pouted up at Hizashi and Shouta had to bite the inside of his cheek to stop himself from laughing or, possibly, crying. A pouting Eri with puffed up cheeks was so much better than when she had been silent and still and blank.

"Of course! You should always try to get better when your sick or hurt, but this… is a bit different." Hizashi wrapped his arms around Eri and cuddled her close, Eri accepting the affection at once and relaxing in his arms. "How do I put this…" Hizashi proceeded to make a series of ridiculous noises that showed he was 'thinking,' Eri laughing all the while before Hizashi snapped his fingers. "It's like a scar!"

"A scar?" Eri frowned, patting at his tail again as she seemed to take a moment to think, Hizashi waiting on her patiently as his tail seemed to curl around her, keeping her close. Shouta could relate to the feeling. "But scars hurt, sometimes… Does this hurt sometimes?"

"Sometimes. Less so than when it first happened, but it's like a scar in the way that I can't go back in time and just change it; although maybe you could," Hizashi winked before his smile softened at Eri's bright burst of giggles. "No, it… It reminds me that being a hero can be dangerous, but that it's worth it. This happened to me because we were rescuing a group of children that were in a dangerous situation. I'll never regret that.

"It also reminded me that I needed to be more careful." Hizashi's voice grew quieter, his gaze flicking up to meet Shouta's own before he was bending close as if telling Eri a secret. "You see, I was always a bit reckless with my quirk when I thought I was needed. I ended up getting hurt more than Shouta, some days!"

"But I thought Dad always hurt?" Eri's question was filled with innocent confusion and Shouta wasn't sure whether to feel emotional over the fact she had so quickly latched onto calling him her dad or if he should be annoyed that even his youngest knew about his chronic pain. "How did you hurt more than him?"

"It was a talent," Hizashi snorted, shaking his head. "But that's not my point! You see, these ears and this tail and all these little changes, they reminded me that risking my own safety over someone else's wasn't a good thing. Because I have a husband that I love and never want to leave, and a son that's growing up and still has so much he needs help with, and a beautiful little girl who I want to spend as much time as possible with."

Eri went silent as she digested the information with a serious expression, Shouta watching the two of them with more love than he ever thought he was capable of. His family may have been ragged and mismatched, but Shouta knew he wouldn't change them for the world; he wouldn't change a second of this for anything.

"I think I get it," Eri finally said, looking up to Hizashi with young eyes that had seen far too much. "But let me know if you ever hurt and I'll be extra careful!"

Hizashi laughed, his eyes wet and words choked as he managed a soft, "I promise." A second later and he was hugging Eri tightly, Shouta pushing himself off the wall to finally go check on Hitoshi, content that everything was just as it should be.

Hizashi had come to realize that there were some 'cat traits' that none of them had expected or recognized until they were obvious enough that even Eri could tell they were odd. The most recent, Hizashi had admitted to himself, was that he had the overpowering urge to drag all of their blankets and pillows into their decently sized closet and then kidnap their children to hide away when either of them looked the slightest bit overwhelmed.

It was easy enough to ignore the oddity of it when it was just Eri he was bundling up in blankets and dark spaces until she calmed down from her nightmares of bright lights and open spaces. It was harder to lie to himself that it was perfectly normal when he had kidnapped Hitoshi and currently had the teen curled up against him asleep under a couple blankets with Shouta staring down at them from the closet doorway.

"If you think about it, this could be just a normal me thing." If Hizashi spoke first, he could curb some of the embarrassment before it really began. Hopefully. "You know, relaxing on something soft during attacks and everything."

"In the closet," Shouta said flatly, opening the door a bit more and raising his eyebrows when Hizashi made a disgruntled noise that even he admitted was closer to a hiss than he wanted it to be. "Is Eri in there with you?"

"Er, possibly." Hizashi shot a glance to a bundled-up pile of blankets that were rising softly every few seconds with Eri's gentle brerathing. "You know, hiding in closets and sleeping in the sunspots around here really isn't the worst thing when you compare it with everything else, don't you think?"

Shouta snorted and nudged at Hizashi's ankles, Hizashi confused for only a moment before he grinned and shifted to free up some more room. Not even a second later Shouta was slipping into the closet and shutting the door until only a sliver of light came in, careful as he sat down while cursing under his breath, ending with a muttered, "Why do we have so many clothes?"

"Because some of us wear more than the same outfit every day, dear," Hizashi said sweetly, biting back against a laugh as Shouta gave him a disgruntled look even as he pulled Eri into his lap, the girl completely sacked out and limp in his arms and her bundle of blankets. "Any idea what set Hitoshi off today?"

"He was fine during the training classes today," Shouta sighed, absently braiding Eri's wild mess of hair even as the girl began drooling on him. "It's possible something triggered a memory for him in one of his other classes. Whatever it was, it couldn't have been pleasant considering you scent marked him the second we were home-"

"I do not scent mark our children!" Hizashi hissed, only just remembering to keep his voice quiet. "I was giving him a supportive hug at the most!" The lie was obvious even to him, but there were some things too embarrassing for even Hizashi to own up to.

"And rubbing your cheek against the top of his head just like you've done to me and Eri countless other times." Shouta's grin was far too smug and Hizashi decided that if they were granted the gift of a reincarnated life, Hizashi would find Shouta just so he could be sure the man suffered from the effects of a cat-shifting quirk as well. "Don't worry, Sunshine," Shouta snickered. "It's cute."

Curbing the urge to smother Shouta with a blanket until he stopped moving, Hizashi returned his attention to Hitoshi. The tense lines around his mouth from earlier had disappeared, face smooth and relaxed and so young as he slept soundly. When he heard a quiet laugh, Hizashi tilted his head up to look at Shouta, who was grinning at him in that besotted way that he swore he didn't do.

"You look like a dad with his newborn when you're looking at them sometimes," Shouta said, as if he didn't act the same damn way around Hitoshi and Eri every single day. "Should I worry that you're just going to start picking them up and carrying them around everywhere?"

"Oh, as if you don't carry Eri around every time she so much as looks at you," Hizashi complained, immediately soothing Hitoshi's hair down when the teen made a quiet noise and shifted and squirmed around for a few moments. "I can and will hide those jelly packets of yours, Shouta."

"They're nutrition pouches, first of all, and second, you know I'll dose your morning coffee with catnip if you even try." The threat was empty, but it still had Hizashi shuddering at the first and last time he had tried catnip on a dare from Nemuri.

Settling for giving Shouta a light kick, Hizashi settled down in his blanket crafted den with a soft sigh, smiling as he heard and felt Shouta do the same. He knew it wouldn't be long before he was the only one left awake.

He was proven right when he heard Shouta give a tired little mumble, Hizashi biting back a laugh as he nudged Shouta's leg with his foot, the two sitting with their backs to the side walls of their little closet. "Sorry, Starlight, but you'll need to repeat that one."

"It doesn't feel real, does it?" With the way his eyes were now, Hizashi was easily able to focus on Shouta's face in the darkness of their closet, fondness overwhelming him when he saw the sleepy eyes that were half-lidded. "Hitoshi, Eri, us… It doesn't feel real, sometimes."

In the way that Hizashi had always known what Shouta's words meant, he knew what Shouta was leaving unsaid. It didn't feel real to be so happy after so much bad had happened over their years as pros. It didn't feel real to suddenly have a family that they loved and adored and two kids who loved them as fiercely as Hizashi and Shouta loved them back. It didn't feel real to be so happy.

"No, it doesn't feel real," Hizashi agreed, lips pulling up into a smile as Shouta's eyes fluttered shut. "But in the best possible way." It was possible, of course, that it was always going to end up like this even without the path they had gone.

He had little doubt that it always would have ended up with Hitoshi, Eri, Shouta, and Hizashi all tangled together and sleeping after a rough day. Maybe in another life he and Shouta wouldn't have been heroes, or Hitoshi wouldn't have gone through as much as he did, or Eri never would have had to suffer to find the place she belonged, but…

It was all going to end where they were now. Maybe there could have been different beginnings, but Hizashi had to believe with everything in him that it was all going to end the way it was now.

Besides, even if their own beginning was difficult, Hizashi wouldn't have changed it for anything. What fun was a world where he didn't get to teach quirk-powered teenagers who were eager to become the next generation of heroes?

Then again, there was something to be said for normal high schools.

Hizashi had adjusted quickly to how chaotic U.A. was with his new senses and abilities, but that didn't mean anything when even before his change he was liable to get headaches from how loud and chaotic the students he taught were - especially those in the Hero and Support courses. At least the hero students didn't just blow things up to see what they did.

Some days, however, were cursed, and Hizashi knew when to tell if a day was cursed or not just by how the first class of his day went. The general education students were the calmest of the lot; they were supposed to be, at least. Sending three of them to Recovery Girl because a fight had broken out during class was not what he considered calm, and it only got worse as the day went on until he started teaching Shouta's class.

"That… That's not how proper English works, Ashido." Hizashi was staring down at Ashido Mina's paper in pure horror. He loved jokes and the deconstruction of language as much as the next language enthusiast, but he should not, as a teacher, have to grade an entire essay written entirely in outdated memes. "How much slang from different decades did you mix together?"

"Seven," Ashido said proudly, puffed up and looking delightedly proud. Hizashi had to fight to not break down in either laughter or tears - especially since he wasn't sure which one would win. "It all works in context of what you asked us to write, though, doesn't it!"

"It really doesn't," Hizashi sighed, handing Ashido's paper back to her. "Please read the notes I made before writing your next paper. Please."

The girl huffed and snatched the paper before stomping back to her seat, Hizashi sighing as he took a moment to rub at his eyes. Maybe if he rubbed hard enough, he would go blind and never have to grade another English paper again.

"Sensei? What are we supposed to be doing again?" Slowly looking up at Sero's voice, Hizashi was gratified to see the teen flinch. "I mean, obviously I know what we're supposed to be doing, but, uh, what are the full… parameters? Of the assignment?"

There was an outburst of snickering at his table and Hizashi reflected on the fact that these students used to be in awe of him when they first started. He had been a celebrity to them; the famous Voice Hero Present Mic! Then again, he had changed a lot since his 'new quirk,' with brushed out hair tucked away in a half-bun, soft sweaters, and pants that weren't made of leather. Ah, well. At least they still feared Shouta if Hizashi needed to scare them into behaving.

"Pick one book that's been printed in Japanese and translate a full chapter into English. You'll then pick a book printed in English and translate a full chapter in Japanese - and no, you cannot use the same book for both translations or use the same book by anyone else doing the assignment, which is why I had you write down two books at the start of this."

Sero stared at him, slowly blinked, and then nodded. Hizashi already knew what was coming before he asked the question. "So, just to be sure I have everything-"

"The books you signed up for are printed on this piece of paper that has been taped to my desk for the past week."

There was a snort of laughter from one of the brats, and Hizashi was half-certain it was from Hitoshi. The kid wasn't looking at him, but his sense of humor was as vicious as Shouta's when he wanted it to be.

Maybe he should just make a list of the top students in his class and tell everyone else to talk to them during open study periods. That would save him the trouble and Kaminari, he knew, would delight in being seen as one of the ones in the top of the class. Honestly, how that boy could be fluent in three languages and then walk into glass was the true mystery of Class 1-A.

"What?! You're kidding me!" Uraraka's exclamation had Hizashi's ears pressing back against his head, Hizashi himself sighing and ready to scold her before he saw that she had slammed both of her hands on her desk during her outburst. The desk was already floating and halfway up towards the ceiling before she noticed.

For as amazing and brilliant as Class 1-A was, Hizashi was absolutely certain that all of them were, in some way, dumbasses.

It was a shame he couldn't say that about them when he was on the clock, but at least the teachers agreed with him. "Uraraka-"

"Already on it, Sensei!" Uraraka beamed, touching her fingers together and seeming to forget about the fact the desk wasn't going to gently float down as it had when going up.

It was like a train wreck, Hizashi already halfway out of his seat as the desk crashed to the floor right on an unaware Bakugou who, if Hizashi had to guess from action alone, thought he was being attacked.

Class 1-A's English lesson ended with twenty scolded students, three destroyed desks, two detentions given out, Hizashi cradling a bruised and squished tail that was aching with pain, and five extra credit points to four students for knowing fifteen different English swear words.

After his escape, Hizashi was doing his best to not wince as Shouta wrapped his bruised and battered tail at their desks in the teacher's lounge as Nemuri cackled over his misfortune.

"Oh, Shouta, your homeroom this year is a riot! Do you think we can weaponize them all as a force of good in the world?"

"You're as stupid as them if you think they haven't weaponized their stupidity already," Shouta snorted, tightening the bandages before looking to Hizashi. "Are you sure you don't want to see Recovery Girl?"

Hizashi shook his head, moving his tail carefully and pleased when most of the pain had already faded. "C'mon, Shou-chan, I can't go crying to Recovery Girl when it's just a little bruise!"

"Oh?" Nemuri purred, Hizashi glaring at her as she stepped closer. "So are we not counting the time you went running to her when you broke a nail-"

"I had a TV interview later that day and you know it!" Hizashi hissed, the sound becoming an actual hiss when Nemuri simply blew him a kiss before strutting away. "Shouta, Nemuri is being mean to me!"

"You know, when you first told me that when we were students, I thought that at the most I would only have to put up with it until Nemuri graduated," Shouta drawled, slouching down in his seat and closing his eyes. "Should I ask Nezu if he'll hire Tensei so we have our peacekeeper back?"

"Ha, ha, you're hilarious," Hizashi muttered, unable to stop himself from the burst of fondness he felt as Shouta already started to drift off. "Well, at least we can always hope that things will be better in the future."

"You think?" Shouta cracked his eyes open and gave a small smile. It was the same smile Hizashi had seen on Shouta back when they were young and had just graduated and managed to get their first apartment, both of them excited for whatever the future would bring to them. "I thought we were already there."

Unable to help his laughter, Hizashi shook his head as he turned in his seat back to his desk, letting it sink in that they really had made it. They were a successful underground pro hero duo, they had two beautiful kids, they taught at U.A. of all places and, more important than anything else, they were happy.

The future wasn't a bad place at all, really.

Not when the uncertainty of it all faded to show that the future was in good hands, Hizashi prouder than words could describe as he saw their students grow and learn and become stronger - better - than every dark force that was out there.

"For the last time, Nemuri, knee-length dress means that your dress must be at least knee-length," Hizashi argued into the phone that was resting on the coffee table and on speaker, Nemuri's whining filling up the living room as Hizashi tried to fix Shouta's mess of a tie. "For once in your life try not to be a slut!"

"That's impossible for her," Hitoshi muttered, Hizashi cuffing Shouta on the head when the man looked nothing but proud. "Are ties really-"

"Yes, they are required. You and your entire class are graduating and I will make sure you look presentable if it's the last thing I do- Nemuri. This will not be like our graduation."

"You take all the fun out of things, Hizashi-chan. Fine! I'll dress 'appropriately.' Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a hot date to pick up."

The call disconnected with a cheerful goodbye, Hizashi rolling his eyes as he finally fixed Shouta's tie. When he looked to Hitoshi to fix his, he paused at seeing it was already done perfectly, Hitoshi responding with a shrug when Hizashi raised an eyebrow. "Just because I don't like them doesn't mean I don't know how to tie one."

Huffing a laugh, Hizashi pulled Hitoshi off the couch and gave him a quick hug and definitely not scent marking him no matter what they all said. "This is why you're better than Shouta. Go grab your sister? If we hurry we can get there before it begins and you can be disgustingly cute with your true love."

"As if you have any room to talk," Hitoshi grumbled, cheeks flushed as he quickly fled to Eri's room. It was far too cute.

Hearing Shouta come up behind him, Hizashi sighed dramatically and 'collapsed' backwards, laughing when Shouta gave a startled grunt before catching him. "Do you always need to be the most dramatic one in Japan at all times?"

"Part of my charm," Hizashi winked, kissing Shouta's cheek quickly before bounding back up. "I can't believe Hitoshi is graduating today! It seems like it was only yesterday you dragged him home like the scruffy kitten he was."

"I just sped things up from where he would have eventually followed me home," Shouta waved off, wandering over towards the couch to no doubt collapse and ruin his suit. Hizashi decided that he would let Nemuri deal with him and then maybe he would learn a lesson. "How much longer until I'm rid of my class?"

Hiding a smile, Hizashi decided that one or two wrinkles wouldn't ruin the day too badly before he was sliding into the spot next to Shouta and curling up to him, purrs rumbling out of him the moment he felt Shouta's fingers begin stroking his ears.

"You know, it'd be easier to get rid of your students if you didn't offer half of them internships with us," Hizashi managed to get out, shivering at a particularly nice scratch before his tail was moving to curl around Shouta's waist. "And the half you didn't give internships to you made sure they had ones lined up."

There were grumbles and mumbles of 'doing his job' and it was work to hide the laughter that wanted to come bursting out of him, Hizashi instead hiding his smile against Shouta's chest. "I can hear your smugness," Shouta complained, hand moving to stroke Hizashi's hair and garble his reply into a series of hums and purrs.

"You know," Hizashi managed. "I think you were on to something with the whole future is now thing, but I think you missed something even more important."

"I did not say 'the future is now,'" Shouta snorted, looking down at him. "Go on, then? What did I miss?"

"Well-"

"Alright, we're ready!" Hitoshi called, Hizashi sitting up just as Hitoshi came in with Eri firmly latched onto his back and dressed adorably in one of her new dresses. "The leech isn't letting go, though."

There was an offended screech from Eri at being called a leech and Shouta groaned before he was nudging Hizashi off of him and going to play peacekeeper. Hizashi curled up on the couch and watched them, unable to help a burst of delight at seeing his family, safe and happy and together.

Shouta had been right in saying the future was good, but, well… the happily ever after was even better.