“This is stupid.”
“What are you, scared, Aizawa?” Kayama leered, leaning in too close and poking at his side.
Shouta swatted her hand away. “Why would I be scared?” he scoffed. “They’re just mirrors.”
“Spooky mirrors!” Hizashi copied Kayama’s movements, leaning in close and knocking their shoulders together, but this time Shouta allowed it. “On the creepiest night of the year!”
“They are kinda unsettling,” Tensei admitted, taking a step closer to the group. Not that they could spread out too far anyway - the maze of mirrors was tight, full of tunnels and corners and dead ends. “Has anyone else seen anything… weird, in the reflections?”
“Besides Yamada’s hair?” Kayama snickered over Hizashi’s insulted gasp. “But honestly - yeah, I keep seeing something moving in the background. Could someone else be in here with us?”
Hizashi fidgeted, leaning closer in a way that would be imperceptible if Shouta weren’t ridiculously over-aware of him. “The place looked deserted when we came in… maybe we should leave? We could still make it to Onishi’s party!”
“We can’t leave without solving the maze,” Shouta said, irritably. The last thing he wanted to do was go to a party, particularly that one. Onishi’s crush on Hizashi was obvious, at least to Shouta, and she was cute and bubbly in a way Shouta couldn’t hope to match. But the worry in Hizashi’s eyes softened his tone. “Besides, it’s nothing really scary. They probably have a light or something behind the mirror, to make it seem like something’s moving around behind us. Just tricks like that.”
Hizashi’s face relaxed, and he smiled tentatively at Shouta, who couldn’t help returning it just a little. In the back of his mind, he couldn’t help imagining Hizashi leaning closer, still nervous, and Shouta offering to hold his hand, just until they got out of the maze-
“Where’s Tensei?” Kayama interrupted his thoughts. “Did he get lost?”
“TENSEI!” Hizashi yelled, just loud enough to send Shouta and Kayama covering their ears.
“Hey, watch it!” Kayama complained, shaking her head to clear it. “If you bust these mirrors they’re sure to charge us!”
Shouta held up a hand for silence, trying to listen. He couldn’t hear any answering call from Tensei, or the echo of his steps. “He must have gone back to the entrance,” Shouta guessed. “Maybe he was more creeped out than we thought.”
“Aww,” Kayama’s expression softened. “I didn’t realize it would bother him so much. We should go back for him.”
Shouta glanced around, trying to figure out which way they’d come from. “If you think you can find the entrance, be my guest. Otherwise we’ll probably make it out faster if we keep moving forward.”
At Hizashi’s hesitant nod of agreement, they started moving again, continuing the rest of the way down the tunnel of mirrors and trying first one turn, then another. It seemed like no matter which way they went, or how far they backtracked, they couldn’t find a way that didn’t lead to a dead end.
“This is getting scary guys,” Hizashi said after a while. “I just saw a ton of spiders in that mirror!”
“It’s not real,” Shouta said, trying to sound reassuring. “They probably have a projector set up or something. We came here to be scared.”
Hizashi stopped walking, pulling Shouta to a halt by his sleeve. “Yeah, but…” he bit his lip. “This doesn’t feel right. Why are we the only ones here? This place should be packed on Halloween! And - and where’s Kayama??”
Shouta blinked. Where was Kayama? “She must have gone after Tensei,” he suggested, not sure when he’d lost track of her. “She didn’t pass me.”
Hizashi frowned, clearly unconvinced. “Alone? Without saying anything?”
“Yeah…” Shouta was having a little trouble believing that himself. But what else could have happened? “They must have gotten out, or we would have bumped into them by now. Maybe it’s easier to find the way we came in?”
“I guess so,” Hizashi said, still sounding troubled. “Couldn’t hurt to try.”
“All right,” said Shouta, turning around and trying to remember which tunnel they’d just left. It was the one on the right, he was pretty sure. Or maybe the one after. “Hizashi do you remember which way? Hizashi?”
But when he glanced behind him, Hizashi was gone. Shouta was entirely alone. “Hizashi!!” he yelled, not sure what had happened to his friend but entirely certain Hizashi hadn’t just decided to strike out on his own. “Hizashi, say something!”
“Over here,” came a voice from around the corner. Shouta followed it as quickly as he could, nearly collapsing in relief when he nearly bumped into his friend.
“Don’t wander!” Shouta snapped, wincing at his harsh tone. But surprisingly, Hizashi didn’t seem hurt. He seemed angry.
“Don’t yell at me!” Hizashi said sharply. “This is all your fault anyway!”
Shouta blinked. “What? No, I-”
“I wanted to go to the party!” Hizashi said, eyes hard. “I only agreed to come to this stupid funhouse because you didn’t want to socialize, as usual!”
“I’m sorry,” Shouta said, shocked. It wasn’t like Hizashi to yell, not like this, in anger.
Hizashi rolled his eyes. “Sorry doesn’t get us out of here! You’ve been leading us in circles for hours. What kind of hero can’t even find his way out of a maze?”
“I-” Shouta couldn’t argue - could only squeeze his hands into fists and try not to let his eyes water. “I thought-”
“What did you think, Shouta!” Hizashi said, his voice climbing with every word. “Did you think I’d rather be here with you, instead of at a party with all my friends! I only ever hung out with you out of pity anyway! And look what that got me! Trapped in a maze with 1A’s least likely to succeed!”
Shouta doubled over, covering his ears and trying not to scream. It was his worst fear - for the first entire year of their friendship, he’d wondered why Hizashi was doing this, why he’d bother spending time with Shouta when he had so many other, better friends. And now Shouta knew, his suspicions had been true all along. Hizashi had never liked him, nobody did, he was useless, he ought to just give up-
“Yeah, that’s what I thought,” Hizashi sneered. “Just what I expected. Say it. Say you give up!”
“I - I-” Shouta choked, thrown off-balance by the suddenness of Hizashi’s change in demeanor. Hizashi never yelled at him and -
Hizashi never yelled at him. Never. Not when Shouta accidentally swung too wide during sparring practice and gave him a black eye for a week, or when he’d stayed too late tutoring Shouta and missed a concert he wanted to see, or even back in the beginning, when Hizashi had tried so hard to be friendly and Shouta had ignored him, still waiting for the catch. Hizashi’s patience was endless.
“You’re not Hizashi.” Shouta straightened, speaking slowly, like he was testing the words. In the distance, he heard a sharp crack like the shriek of breaking glass.
“Really? That’s what you think?” Hizashi jeered. “Isn’t it more logical to just accept that I’m tired of dragging you along behind me?”
“What are you?” Shouta demanded, rolling up his sleeves. “Where are my friends? Do you have Tensei and Kayama too?”
There was another crack, another echo of glass, and the figure - Shouta wouldn’t call it Hizashi again, because this was not Hizashi, threw back his head and laughed. It didn’t sound like Hizashi’s laugh at all now - it was cold, and harsh, and mean, and Shouta wondered how he could ever have been fooled, even for a moment. “Your friends? That’s hilarious. You don’t have friends, Aizawa. You have people that put up with you. But they’re tired of it - you’re a drain, a drag! Is it any wonder they’d fuck off and leave you here?”
“Where is Hizashi!” Shouta demanded. “This is your last chance!”
“HE DOESN’T LOVE YOU!” The figure wavered, Hizashi’s image melting away and reforming into Shouta’s reflection, face spiderwebbed with cracks, like a shattered mirror. “HE’LL NEVER LOVE YOU!” The figure reached for him, arms stretching forward, fingers grasping, reaching through what Shouta now realized was another mirror. “GIVE UP!”
“NO!” Shouta struck fast, slamming his fist into the mirror as hard as he could. He ducked as shards of glass rained down around him with a tinkling clatter, and when he looked up again, he was staring at the wooden back of an empty mirror frame. “Hizashi!” He called, kicking out at another mirror, shattering it too. “Kayama! Tensei!! Whatever you’re seeing, it’s not real! It’s a trick! IT’S A TRICK!”
“Hizashi!!” Shouta ran through the maze, shattering mirror after mirror. His hand hurt, so he quickly pulled off the scarf Hizashi had loaned him earlier, when he thought Shouta had looked cold, and wrapped it around his fist before punching another of his jeering reflections. “Hizashi!”
“Aizawa!” Kayama careened around a corner, gasping to catch her breath. “The reflections - they’re not real - they’re-”
“I know!” Shouta kept moving, beckoning her to follow. “Where are the others - did you see them?”
Kayama shook her head. “No! I saw - the mirrors, I think they show us what we’re scared of. At first I just saw myself, like a normal mirror, but then I - I was tied down, I couldn’t move, and I swear I felt it! It was so real!”
“But it was a trick,” Shouta finished, ducking out of the way as Kayama smashed a few mirrors. “We’ve got to find Hizashi and Tensei!”
“THERE!” Kayama pointed down the corridor, and Shouta squinted, trying to make out what she saw as he started running. After a moment, the shadowy figure came into focus - Tensei, kneeling before a mirror and sobbing.
“I didn’t-” he hiccuped. “I couldn’t-”
As Shouta watched, arms reached out from behind the glass, growing longer and longer, reaching for Tensei. Just as they were closing their grip on his shoulders, Kayama screamed, rushing past Shouta with a burst of speed and knocking Tensei to the side, kicking out to shatter the mirror as she fell.
“I’m sorry!” Tensei sobbed, covering his face with his hands, not bothering to get to his feet. “I’m sorry Tenya!”
“Tensei!” Shouta grabbed him by the shoulders, giving him a quick shake. “Your brother is fine. None of this is real! It’s the mirrors! We’ve got to find Hizashi and get out of here!”
“How?” Kayama pushed herself to her feet gingerly before reaching back to give Tensei a hand up. “This place his huge! He could be anywhere! He could be…” She trailed off, glancing at the shattered mirror beside them, but her meaning was clear. It could already be too late for Hizashi.
“No!” Shouta yelled, hands shaking with adrenaline. They couldn’t be too late, Hizashi had to be all right. He’d been standing right next to Shouta when he vanished, Shouta should have seen- “HIZASHI!” Shouta screamed, as loud as he could, his throat burning with the effort. “HIZASHI! IT’S NOT REAL!! WHATEVER YOU’RE SEEING, IT’S A TRICK! YOU’VE GOT TO BREAK THE MIRRORS!!” He gasped, out of breath, then tried again. “HIZASHI, WHERE ARE YOU!”
“Aizawa,” Kayama said, quietly but urgently, grabbing at his sleeve. Shouta paused. Something wasn’t right. It was like the air itself was trembling, Shouta could feel it start to creep up through the ground and into his very bones.
“Cover your ears! DO IT NOW!” Tensei ducked, hands pressed tight to the side of his head, Shouta and Kayama following barely a moment behind. Just in time - even through his palms, Shouta heard the high pitched banshee shriek that echoed through the tunnels and corridors of the maze, and the subsequent rattles and crashes of every single mirror shaking into pieces in their frames. One after the other they shattered, spiderwebs of cracks blooming across the glass a moment before they burst apart. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds before silence fell, leaving Shouta and his friends standing alone in a river of broken glass.
“Hizashi!” Shouta called again, because there was only one person that could have done this. And sure enough, from not too far away, a wobbly voice replied:
Shouta knew he should stay with Kayama and Tensei, that they ought to keep the group together, because whoever was responsible for all this was no doubt still lurking around. Splitting up was a stupid idea that had gotten them into this trouble in the first place, Shouta knew that.
But he didn’t care - he was off like a shot, in the direction of Hizashi’s voice, his real voice.
“Hizashi!” Shouta rounded a final corner and there he was, kneeling on the ground in front of a broken mirror, fresh tear tracks running down his cheeks. Shouta skidded to a halt, dropping down in front of him and checking him for injuries. “Are you hurt anywhere?”
“Shouta?” Hizashi said, tentatively, like he wasn’t sure.
“It’s me,” Shouta said, once he was satisfied Hizashi was whole and unharmed. “It’s really me. See? I have your scarf.” He pulled it off his hand, grimacing as it came away bloody. “Sorry.”
“You’re hurt,” Hizashi took his hand gently, brushing his fingers lightly over the red knuckles. He looked up at Shouta, eyes wide. “I heard you calling me.”
“What did you see?” Shouta asked, linking their fingers together.
Hizashi blinked. “I-”
“MY BABIES!” A demented scream echoed through the maze, and the sound of heavy footsteps approached rapidly. “What did you do? WHAT DID YOU DO TO THEM?”
Shouta shoots to his feet, putting himself between Hizashi and the rapidly approaching stranger that he quickly recognizes as the creepy ticket vendor who’d let them into the funhouse. “What were they going to do to us!”
“I’ll feed you to them,” the man says, stalking towards them. “Then you’ll be in the mirrors, and they’ll be alive!”
Wishing he had his capture scarf, Shouta bounced on the balls of his feet, ready to fight - the man was big, but Shouta had taken down bigger, and he wasn’t about to let him one step closer to Hizashi.
But before Shouta could engage, the man dropped to his knees, eyes rolling back in his head before they fluttered shut, and his body hit the ground with an ominous thud. “Take a nap, bitch,” Kayama said, stepping out from around a corner and waving a few wisps of her purple mist away. “Well?” She said, looking at Shouta impatiently. “Let’s get the hell out of here and call the pros!”
Now that whatever quirk had haunted the place was out of commission, the exit was insultingly easy to find. In fact, the whole maze seemed smaller, less impressive, and Shouta wondered exactly how much of it had been inside his own mind all along.
Once summoned, the police arrived quickly to round up the villain and take their statements. “And you’re sure about what you saw?” The head detective asked, taking down notes. “In the mirrors - it was something you were afraid of?”
“My worst fear,” Tensei corrected, and Kayama nodded.
“What did you see?” The detective asked, looking at Hizashi.
Hizashi, still more subdued than usual, paused before answering. “I saw… bugs. It was like they were crawling all over me. I panicked.”
Shouta put a hand on Hizashi’s shoulder, giving it a squeeze. He’d suspected as much, there were few things that would put Hizashi out of commission faster than an insect. Hizashi glanced at him gratefully. “Can we go?” Shouta asked, looking back at the detective to hide his blush. “It’s been a long night.”
“You can go,” The detective nodded. “We have your contact information if we need anything else.”
Shouta and Hizashi left together; their houses were in the same direction, and Shouta wasn’t too eager to let Hizashi go alone anyway, not after everything that had happened tonight. “I guess we should have gone to the party, huh?” Shouta said, after they’d walked in silence for a few minutes.
“Ha!” Hizashi snorted, looking more like himself as a small smile made its way across his face. “I never thought I’d hear you say something like that.”
“If it’s a choice between a party and confronting my worst fear…” Shouta smirked. “The party wins. Barely.”
He expected Hizashi to follow up with a joke of his own, but instead he frowned. “I lied to the police,” he mumbled, voice barely above a whisper.
“What?” Shouta stopped walking, and Hizashi pulled him by the sleeve into a nearby alley.
“I lied,” he repeated, once they were off the sidewalk and out of sight. “I didn’t see bugs.”
“You didn’t? But - what did you see?” Shouta stuttered. What scared Hizashi more than bugs?
Hizashi opened his mouth to speak, then closed it, then took a deep breath. “I saw - I saw you, Shouta. You - you laughed at me. You called me a joke. And I know you’d never say that, I do, but it felt so real. And I just - I need to hear you say it one time. That you don’t think that.”
“I don’t.” Shouta said, firmly. “You’re not a joke, you’re - you’re amazing. You’re so smart and your quirk is so strong and even with all that you’re still nice to everybody. To me. You’re the furthest thing from a joke.”
“Oh,” Hizashi closed his eyes, half-collapsing against the wall of the alley. “Oh.”
“I saw you,” Shouta said, not sure if it was to reassure Hizashi further, or because he was envious of his obvious relief. But either way, he kept going. “You said you only hung out with me out of pity.”
Before Shouta could blink, Hizashi was pressed closed, his hands on Shouta's shoulders, green eyes wide and serious. “No no no! Never! Never ever! You’re my best friend, Shouta! There’s no one I’d rather be with than you!” Shouta didn’t have time to answer before Hizashi’s arms wrapped around him, pulling him into a tight hug. “You’re really afraid of that?” Hizashi murmured into Shouta’s hair.
“No - not so much anymore,” Shouta stammered, heart beating hard. “But… it would be the worst thing. I couldn’t - I couldn’t-”
“But you beat it,” Hizashi said, pulling back slightly and smiling in relief. “You knew it couldn’t be real.”
Shouta nodded, still off-kilter. “Yeah. I guess so.”
“Shouta…” Hizashi said, and his arms held Shouta a little tighter. “I gotta confess something…”
Shouta held his breath, his face inches from Hizashi’s, waiting for whatever it was Hizashi was going to tell him. But Hizashi faltered, gaze dropping, as one moment stretched into another. Finally, just as it seemed Hizashi was ready to pull away, Shouta leaned forward, closing the distance between them, pressing their lips together into a brief, warm kiss. “Was that what you wanted to say?” he asked, as they pulled apart slowly.
Hizashi blushed bright enough that Shouta could make it out even in the low light of the streetlamps. “I - uh - yeah,” Hizashi said, leaning in to kiss Shouta again. Two kisses became three, then four, until finally Shouta knew he had to either pull back or lose count.
“We can keep talking about this if you want,” he said, smiling as Hizashi tried to tug him forward again. “But let’s finish getting home first.”
Hizashi grinned. “No, I refuse to let our first date be that creepy maze! Let’s go to that cafe you like, my treat!”
“Can’t say no to that,” Shouta smiled back. Hizashi linked their fingers together, and off they went.