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Ringing It In

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     A year of pining — of watching Shouta grump, smile, sleep, teach — and Toshinori decides that it’s about high time he be a little brave.

 

     He’s not All Might anymore, but Yagi Toshinori has never been known to back down from what scared him. And Toshinori is scared. Shouta made no secret of his dislike of All Might in the beginning and, while they’re on better terms now, Toshinori still wonders if some of that dislike has stuck around. Regardless if Shouta dislikes him, or even simply doesn’t feel the same as Toshinori himself, Toshinori knows that keeping his feelings secret is only doing them both a disservice. 

 

     Nana had pushed everyone away in her grief and Toshinori had followed in her footsteps for some time. But if he’s really going to twist fate then Toshinori needed to put in the effort to better his life. 

 

     Including admitting to his affections. 

 

     School was on break for the new year holiday, but the staff without family would be getting together to celebrate among themselves. It would be hosted at a little bar, tucked away from the cold winter of the world. According to Ectoplasm they even rented a karaoke machine. It wouldn’t be the most ideal venue, but having a few days apart would help to ease the awkwardness after he finally confessed. It would give him a bit of space to hide if nothing else. 

 

     And finally, the day came.

 

     Toshinori dresses simply— a white, fitted button-down shirt and an oversized brown cardigan that Shouta had once said suited him— before hemming and hawing over what to do with his hair. He’s usually too frazzled in the morning to bother doing anything with it, and it seems to have a mind of its own for all its ever willing to cooperate with him. In the end, Toshinori decides simplicity is best and wrangles his bangs to loop down and around his ears before gathering the hair to the back in a small pony-tail. 

 

     He looks ridiculous. He feels ridiculous. He feels nervous but also excited. Butterflies fill his chest. 

 

     ‘Foolish old man’ he thinks, ‘getting worked up over something as simple as a confession.’

 

     Toshinori shakes his head at himself and leaves before he undoes everything in a fit of pique. Mittens, scarf, and jacket all found and adorned, Toshinori leaves the security of his little dorm room and makes his way to the den where they’ll be meeting. 

 

     At first, Toshinori thinks he’s the first one there. Unsurprising, given the anxiety fueling him. That is until he hears shuffling on the couch. A peek over makes Toshinori’s heart flutter. There Shouta is, sprawled out on the couch. Nemuri and Hizashi seem to have wrangled him into something other than his jumpsuit— a warm looking blue sweater and jeans — though his hair is still strewn about. He always has his particular style and had most likely put his foot down when his friends had tried to tame it. Toshinori smiles fondly to himself and stifles a chuckle. Shouta appears asleep, and Toshinori would be content to let him if he didn’t have plans of his own. 

 

     Gently, Toshinori reaches down and lightly shakes Shouta’s shoulder. 

 

     “Aizawa-kun,” Toshinori says, voice gentle. “Wake up, Aizawa-kun— I don’t think you wish to be asleep when Yamada-kun and Kayama-san come down.” 

 

     Shouta grumbles, turning towards the newly offered heat source that is Toshinori. 

 

     Cute

 

     Toshinori chuckles, shaking his head. That more than anything seems to get a stirring out of Shouta, who squeezes his eyes tightly in protest of waking up before blinking blearily up at Toshinori. 

 

     “Yagi-san…?” 

 

     It’s a treat to see Shouta wake up so slowly. Normally, he’s awake and asleep at the drop of a hat. He must have been truly tired to fall so deeply asleep. 

 

     “If you wish to stay here and rest, I’ll make sure the others don’t bother you,” Toshinori offers, smiling fondly. Shouta shakes his head, sitting up slowly and rubbing at his face.

 

     “No, it’s fine. I’d rather the hassle now then the hassle there’ll be if I skip,” Shouta says it so blandly and accepting that Toshinori can’t help but grin. Shouta looks up at Toshinori then, smirking lightly. “Already bundled up? You’ll overheat.” He tugs lightly at the edge of Toshinori’s jacket. 

 

     Toshinori laughs a little, swatting Shouta’s hand away. “Well, yes I suppose I’m a little excited,” Toshinori admits, scratching his cheek and ducking his head. “It’s been a while since I’ve gone out like this, is all.” 

 

     Shouta nods, accepting his reasoning. He eyes Toshinori carefully, and it takes Toshinori a moment to realize he’s staring at his hair. Toshinori touches is a little self-consciously. 

 

     “Is it strange?” Toshinori asks, tugging lightly at the strand. “It’s not my usual style I know but…” 

 

     “It’s fine,” Shouta interrupts. “Quit messing with it, you’ll pull it apart.” Toshinori drops his hand, cheeks flushing at being scolded. “You ought to stop messing with your hair like that altogether, it’s a bad habit,” Shouta continues, although he sounds fond as he says it. Or maybe just amused. Still, it’s embarrassing that anyone noticed Toshinori’s bad habits at all. He hadn’t realized he’d been so obvious with them. 

 

     “My teacher used to scold me the same,” Toshinori offers, fiddling with his fingers instead. “Said I’d go bald before I hit thirty if I kept it up.” 

 

     Shouta snorts, and Toshinori smiles at having drawn the noise out at all. 

 

     “Well, it seems you managed to avoid that fate, at least. Unless you’re wearing a wig, of course.” Shouta eyes Toshinori’s hair as though trying to determine if it’s a wig. Toshinori chuckles. 

 

     “That’s a trade secret I’m afraid,” Toshinori says conspiratorially. 

 

     “Heeeeyyyyy my favorite listeners! Did energy-saver-chan fall asleep again?” Hizashi thunders out as he enters the room. He’s wearing a festively bright sweater that’s absolutely garish to look at. Nemuri walks in soon after wearing a matching atrocity. Toshinori wonders whose idea it was to wear a couple’s outfit. 

 

     “Don’t call me that,” Shouta grumbles, standing up and shoving his hands in his pockets. “Or I’ll remind everyone of that time in High School Heroics when you— “ 

 

     “ Anyway, All Might! My man! You’re gonna boil if we don’t get going soon so why don’t we do that and leave mean old Eraserhead behind where he can’t blab about things better left forgotten?” 

 

     Shouta smirks, crossing his arms and eyes alight with mischief. Toshinori doesn’t doubt that Shouta plans to tease Hizashi all night about whatever it is that Shouta has over him. 

 

     “Will the others be joining us?” Toshinori says, tilting his head to the side. 

 

     “Ectoplasm went ahead to set up the karaoke,” Nemuri explains, tapping away at her phone. “I’m pretty sure Snipe is with him, but who knows with Snipe. Thirteen is on their way down now, but they said that fifteen minutes ago. They’re a bit scatter-brained sometimes.” 

 

     “Hey!” Thirteen calls from the landing of the stairs. “I take offense to that, senpai.” 

 

     “You know it’s true~” Nemuri sings back, wrapping an arm around Thirteen’s shoulders and leaning on them, nuzzling the side of their helmet. “You’re a space-case through and through!” 

 

     Thirteen chuckles, letting Nemuri use them as an armrest. “Fair enough,” they chirp. 

 

     “Come on, come on, let’s go!” Hizashi corrals them, encouraging them towards the door and positively vibrating with excitement. “You know Ectoplasm likes to get started early!”

 

     Toshinori smiles indulgently, glancing Shouta’s way only to see that Shouta is already glancing towards him. They share a look as Hizashi carries on and it makes Toshinori flutter all the way down to his fingertips. Calling upon the bravery that’s served Toshinori well for so many years, he purposefully brushes his shoulder against Shouta’s, delighting in the pressure as the other leans into him for the briefest moment. 

 

     Toshinori turns his gaze ahead, though his smile doesn’t leave his face. 

 

     When they arrive, Ectoplasm has indeed already started, singing a peppy pop-song to the near-empty bar like there was a full crowd. Hizashi orders a round of drinks, which Toshinori politely declines, and the festivities begin with an enthusiasm only UA teachers could muster. 

 

     It’s early yet, but Toshinori knows the crowds will be there soon. Even this little out of the way bar will be full during New Year. Hizashi sets up at the DJ station — the apparent exchange between the owner and Hizashi was that Hizashi would DJ that night in exchange for two reserved booths — and begins the night with some catchy songs Toshinori knows to be popular on the radio. Ectoplasm had been disappointed to be kicked off the stage, but Nemuri and Thirteen both assured him that there’d be more singing later in the night.

 

     Between the two booths, there’s more room to sit than there was last time they all went out like this. Some simple foods are brought out to them from the kitchen and Toshinori eyes them warily. 

 

     “It’s okay,” Shouta assures him, popping one of the little shrimps into his mouth. “We made sure that only stuff you could eat would be served.” 

 

     Toshinori blinks, surprised. “You didn’t have to go through that trouble,” he protests, fiddling with his fingers. 

 

     “It’s illogical for us all to be out to enjoy ourselves if one of us can’t even eat the food,” Shouta says with a shrug. He pops another piece of food into his mouth, this time a piece of fried tofu.

 

     “That was smart thinking senpai!” Thirteen says jovially, already giddy from their first drink.

 

     “It wasn’t,” Shouta protests with a mumble. “It was mostly Mic anyway.” 

 

     Shouta’s ears are flushed— he doesn’t do well with excessive praise, Toshinori knows. Toshinori also knows that the only person who the details of Toshinori’s food restrictions is Shouta. He smiles at himself and takes a bite of one of the pieces of Tofu that Shouta was just eating, savoring the taste and the way it melts in his mouth. He puts on a little show of enjoying it, feeling Shouta’s eyes on him.

 

     “It’s good!” Toshinori says after he swallows, and it’s true. It may be simple bar food, but the thought that Shouta thought of him and his needs in advance makes the taste that much better. He snags a piece of shrimp with his chopsticks and pretends not to notice the way Shouta’s shoulders relax.   

 

     Softie .

 

     After an hour of chatting and snacking on the food, people start filing in, drawn by Hizashi’s enthusiastic DJ-ing and the idea of a night out. Snipe appears at their table at one point before drifting off to the other. Ectoplasm is enthusiastically talking to a small crowd about something Toshinori can’t quite make out. When Ectoplasm lifts his leg to show his prosthetic, Toshinori guesses it might be about some Hero battle or another. 

 

     A quick scan shows that people are overall happy and in good spirits. There’s a few by the bar who look rather miserable, but there’s always some who don’t have anyone to spend the holidays with. That was Toshinori just last year, after all. He hopes the new one treats them kinder. 

 

     Drawing his attention back to the table he’s at, Toshinori is startled to see Shouta watching him with a smirk on his face.

 

     “Still can’t turn it off, huh?” Shouta asks knowingly. Toshinori scratches the side of his face with a chuckle. 

 

     “No, I suppose not! I think I was a Hero too long to be able to, honestly.” 

 

     “I get that,” Shouta says with a nod. “But there’s other Heroes here tonight, even besides us. It’s okay to relax.” 

 

     “If I do, will you?” Toshinori says, a note of mischief in his voice. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed you keeping an eye on all of us, Aizawa-kun.”

 

     “Someone has to keep an eye on these children,” Shouta grumbles, inclining his head to where Ectoplasm is now lifting someone by his prosthetic while Snipe eggs him on and Thirteen cheers. 

 

     Toshinori chuckles, conceding the point. 

 

     “Hey, listeners! It’s only one hour left until the new year, so let’s greet it with a ‘YEAH’!” 

 

     The crowd echoes Hizashi, growing louder as he plays what’s a popular dance song as people begin filling the empty space in the middle of the floor. Leave it to Hizashi to turn what was supposed to be a quiet night out into a dance party. The closer they get to midnight, the rowdier the crowd becomes. The third time someone nearly trips over Toshinori he’s had enough. 

 

     It’s easy enough to slip out, the others having long since abandoned the tables for either the bar or the make-shift dance floor. The cool air makes Toshinori shiver, but it’s nice compared to how over-heated he was feeling earlier. The bass of the music inside still makes Toshinori’s chest thrum with the beat. Quietly, Toshinori debates just going home, plans be damned. The night isn’t quite going the way Toshinori had anticipated, though what he was expecting he isn’t sure of. 

 

     “Hey, you okay?” As though summoned by the thought of him, Shouta steps outside, the loud music pouring out with him until he shuts the door, muffling it once more. 

 

     “Yes! I’m sorry for worrying you, I just needed some air.” Toshinori answers quickly, with a smile. It’s easy to smile for Shouta. Or perhaps, easy to smile because of him. 

 

     Toshinori expects Shouta to head back in after being reassured but to Toshinori’s surprise, he leans against the wall next to Toshinori instead. Seeing his look, Shouta shrugs. 

 

     “I could use some air too,” is what Shouta offers. Toshinori smiles again. Always so protective.

 

     “Do you have any wishes for the new year, Aizawa-kun?” Toshinori asks after a moment. Shouta hums thoughtfully while he ponders the question. 

 

     “Maybe one,” Shouta eventually says, glancing at Toshinori from the corner of his eye. “You?” 

 

     “Yes,” Toshinori thinks of Izuku and his constantly breaking bones, and his students’ tendency to find trouble, “a few, actually.” He pauses for a moment, hesitating. “Would you like to come to the temple with me tomorrow? It’s a bit old fashioned, I know, but…” 

 

     “Sure,” Shouta interjects when Toshinori trails off. “I don’t have any Yukata that fit anymore, though.” 

 

     “That’s fine, plenty of people come in plain clothes.” 

 

     “Will you be wearing one? A Yukata?” 

 

     “Yes,” Toshinori admits sheepishly. “I’m afraid I’m as old-fashioned as the tradition is!” 

 

     “You’re not that old,” Shouta snorts in response. He pauses a moment, gaze lingering on Toshinori. “You look good, by the way. I meant to say so earlier.” 

 

     Toshinori flushes, glancing down. “Thank you. You too.” 

 

     For a few priceless moments, they simply enjoy one another’s company. Inevitably, however,  peace is broken when they hear the countdown begin inside. 

 

     “You should go back,” Toshinori says at the echo of ‘thirty-three’ rings out. “You wouldn’t want to miss it.” 

 

     “I’m fine where I am,” Shouta replies, settling in more comfortably. “It’s too loud in there anyway.”

     Toshinori chuckles, nerves alighting within him. ‘ No more excuses! ’ he tells himself. 

 

     “Aizawa-kun…” Toshinori begins at ‘nineteen’, “Have you heard of the tradition of greeting the new year?” 

 

     “Which one?” 

 

     sixteen!

 

     “The one where you spend it with someone you care for.” 

 

     “Hmm, might have heard something,” Shouta tilts his head to the side. It’s hard to make out his expression in the night light. “Why do you ask?” 

 

     thirteen!

 

     Toshinori shifts off the cool concrete of the wall. His hands are shaking as he turns so he’s facing Shouta in full— Shouta is already looking at him

 

     Eight! 

 

     “Aizawa-kun…” six! “ Could— could you close your eyes?” Toshinori feels like his heart might burst.

 

     There’s a pause that felt like an eternity. Suddenly, Shouta’s hand snaps out with alacrity, catching up with one of Toshinor’s and twining their fingers together. His dark eyes blaze with all the words of the previous year left unsaid before he finally grins.

 

      “I think I’d rather see this coming.” 

 

     Three! 

 

     Toshinori takes a breath.

 

     Two!

 

     He leans in close— from this distance he can smell Shouta’s cologne. Something woodsy. 

 

     One! 

 

     Shouta tilts his head up, eyes half-lidded. 

 

     Happy new year! 

 

     Fireworks go off in the air and within Toshinori’s heart. The kiss is soft, chaste even, but beneath it, a roaring fire slowly builds as they linger. Toshinori pulls back slightly only for Shouta to chase his lips and kiss him again. And again. And again. Small butterfly kisses filled with so much tenderness that Toshinori is sure his heart is going to burst with it. 

 

     Slowly, they drift apart, but only far enough so they can look in each other’s eyes. 

 

     “Aizawa-kun… will you spend the next year with me?” 

 

     Shouta smiles, tilting his head in that cat-like manner that Toshinori has grown so fond of. His thumb trailing on the corner of Toshinori’s lips. Slowly, carefully, Shouta leans closer until only the space of a single breath lies between them. 

 

     “I thought you’d never ask.”