Saturday evening finds Ochako sprawled on the floor of one of the empty rooms in the girls’ side of the dormitory. Aizawa had given them permission to convert one of the rooms into a hang out spot since it wasn’t being used for anything else, and tonight the girls joined forces to transform it in the biggest, fluffiest, softest pillow fort in existence.
There’s pillows, bean bag chairs, futons, and soft blankets covering every inch of the floor. A couple board games are stacked to the side, not too far from the television and gaming system they set up.
Yaomomo somehow was able to produce a flatscreen TV to install in the room, and Ochako could have kissed her. If she’s going to kick ass at Mario Kart, she wants to win in HD.
There are a couple of bedsheets hung overhead to give off the effect of a tent, soft fairy lights strung along the edges with adjustable brightness because Yaomomo is a genius.
As soon as Ochako had walked in, she wanted nothing more than to stretch out, roll herself into a blanket burrito and nap for the next two days. The only thing keeping her from doing just that had been Eri standing close to her and looking at everything with wide eyes, bare toes wiggling into the softness of blankets.
Eri likes soft things, Ochako has noticed. It’s not hard to when she had spent the entire time running her little hands through the fluffy blanket she had been given, putting it against her face, wrapping it tightly around herself.
It was adorable, and Ochako had snapped a couple of pictures to send to Deku, who had immediately replied with endless crying emojis, quickly followed by a whole paragraph about how happy he was that Eri looked happy.
Eri isn’t looking so happy now, and Ochako doesn’t know what went wrong.
They played games, taught Eri old playground songs as they gently guided her to an intricate slap of hands. Momo braided Eri’s hair into something overcomplicated but adorable. Mina had even brought with her the completed box set of an old cartoon that had all of them looking attentively at the television with the same rapt attention that they all had at age five, gasping and cooing along with Eri.
Ochako has some experience babysitting kids. She used to take care of some of her neighbors’ brats when she lived back home to earn some extra money for her parents. There were some kids that stole money from their parents’ wallets. Ochako put money in her parents’ wallets.
And because she’s used to babysitting she knows the importance of keeping to a schedule as closely as possible, of tiring kids out but letting them wind down before bed, and when the time had come, Momo had dimmed the lights and pulled out a heavy looking tome of fairy tales with gilded edges, and started reading from it.
They’re in the second story, waiting for Eri to fall asleep with little success.
“Do you not like the stories, Eri-chan?” Ochako asks in a whisper.
Eri is curled up on herself, hands in loose fists pressed to her chest, and an apprehensive little frown on her face.
“I like them,” she says in a voice just as quiet.
“It’s okay if you don’t, you know? We can read something else.”
Eri shakes her head, curls her kitten-pattern pajama clad legs to her chest. “I like them,” she repeats.
“Eri-chan,” Tsuyu calls, propping herself up on an elbow so she can look at Eri from Ochako’s other side. “Is this your first time sleeping without Aizawa nearby?”
Eri chews on her lip, and then nods slowly.
“You don’t need to be afraid, Eri-chan. We’ll keep you safe,” Tsuyu says.
“Do you want us to call Mr. Aizawa?” Momo asks, having stopped reading when she hear them talk.
Eri looks over at her and minutely shakes her head.
“Is there anyone else you want us to call?” Ochako asks gently, and Eri chews on her lip and looks down and away. “Do you want me to call Deku?” Ochako pushes, and it’s worth it for the way Eri’s head snaps back up to her, eyes wide with hope, before she looks away again.
“I’ll send him a text!” Mina pipes up, already having her phone out and typing rapidly on it. “He’s just on the other side of the building, Eri-chan,” she waves the phone at her with a wide smile that squints her eyes shut. “All done, he should be here any min-“
The door to the room slams open, making them all jump and jerk their heads towards it. Ochako brings her fists up instinctively, heart hammering in her throat.
“What’s wrong with Eri?” Deku demands, standing in the doorway, green lightning sparking off his skin, eyes shifting around wildly as if looking for a threat, body braced in a battle stance.
“She can’t sleep,” says Tsuyu, who recovers from the shock quicker than the rest of them.
“Oh,” Deku says, and straightens up, face coloring red. He shifts a little in place, looks away from them, rubbing at the back of his neck self-consciously – a habit he no doubt picked up with Shinsou. “Um. Sorry for barging in like that.”
Mina breaks the tension by laughing. “Damn Midori that was fast!” The rest of them laugh a little too to shake off their nervous energy.
It’s not the first time she thinks this, but it’s kind of unsettling to have the intensity Deku usually reserves for villains and other threats turned on them.
“Sorry,” Deky says, coloring further. He chances a glance up and locks eyes with Eri, gives her a little helpless smile and a tiny adorable wave. “Hi, Eri-chan. Are you having fun?”
Eri nods. “Everyone’s really nice,” she says, and Deku’s posture relaxes a little further. “We watched Totoro and Doraemon and Sailor Moon.”
“I’m really glad,” he says, and gives her that eye-squinting smile.
“Why don’t you come in, Midoriya?” Tsuyu suggests. “I’m sure Eri-chan would have an easier time falling asleep with you around.” She punctuates the sentence with a croak.
“I, uh-“ Deku says, looking between all the girls hesitantly, before his eyes land on Eri. “If that’s okay with everyone?” His voice pitches up higher than usual.
“It’s okay, Midoriya-san,” Momo assures him. “Come in.”
Deku steps carefully into the room with a, “Pardon the intrusion.” He climbs over pillows and both Jirou, Hagakure, and Mina, who are stretched out between the door and where Eri is laying on a veritable mountain of pillows and blankets.
He sits down on Eri’s other side, and Eri immediately scoots a little closer to him, grips the hem of his sleep shirt, which in true Deku fashion has “pajama” written across the chest. Deku instinctually puts a hand down on the floor behind her back, giving her more space to press against his side.
Ochako suddenly remembers the training camp and how Deku had been the first one to try to greet Kouta. Remembers him always looking around for the boy with a little frown and a twist to his mouth.
She knows, probably better than most, that Deku seems to have a sixth sense when it comes to people who need help. He can’t bear seeing anyone in pain, can’t bear knowing he can do something about it and just stand by idly.
She also knows that later, when she asked about what made him approach Kouta in the first place, his answer would have a “Besides, I always wanted a little sibling,” bashfully tacked on to it.
“Momo was reading a story,” Ochako says. “Why don’t we all lay down and listen to the rest of it?”
Deku looks down at Eri and whispers low enough that only her and Ochako can hear it by virtue of how close to Eri she’s sitting, “Is that okay?”
Eri nods again and wiggles until she can lay down again. Deku lays down next to her, scarred hand between them, palm up, and Eri takes it just as Momo starts reading again.
Ochako has seen Deku punch through walls with that hand. She has seen him punch through a great deal of many things, she has seen him defeat villains single-handedly, she knows what those hands can do, the power behind them, the brute strength. Deku often breaks his chopsticks at lunch because he gets a little distracted and forgets to manage his grip strength.
And yet, the way he curls his fingers, crooked and scarred as they are, around Eri’s hand is so unbelievably soft and gentle, it makes Ochako’s heart ache a little.
She closes her eyes and lets Momo’s warm voice wash over them.
When she opens them again at the end of the story and looks over, Eri is fast asleep, hand still firmly in Deku’s even if his fingers have fallen lax in sleep too. Deku already has a fairly baby-ish face, but that’s even truer when it’s slack with sleep.
They both look so peaceful, Ochako wants to snap a picture.
“Float me, Ochako,” Mina whispers, phone already in hands. “I want to get a good shot.”
So Ochako does.
Momo prides herself of many things, and one of them is helping her peers in anything they need.
And while Eri isn’t her peer, exactly, Momo still takes great pride in helping her catch up on everything she missed by not being able to attend pre-school. She has a lesson plan and teaching aids. She has a schedule. She has… acquired a truly ridiculous amount of stationary and arts and crafts supplies, because her allowance is big and every time she goes into a stationary store she thinks, “Maybe this will be a good motivational tool for Eri,” and buys it.
Her room is overflowing with them, but Eri delights whenever Momo brings her something new, and Momo maybe melts a little bit. Granted Momo isn’t great with children, especially difficult children, but Eri is an easy child. She’s a joy to be around, well and truly.
“You’re doing very good, Eri-chan,” she praises warmly.
Eri gives her a tiny smile and blushes a little. Eri melts under any kind of praise, blossoms under it, so Momo is sure to pile as much as she can on her.
“Thank you, Yaomomo-san,” she says quietly, and then looks down at the table bashfully, picks up a slice of peeled tangerine that Midoriya has not so subtly been pushing her way ever since they sat down.
All of Eri’s work smell like tangerines and are stained with their juice, no matter how many wipes Momo pushes into Eri’s hands.
Momo guesses this is what she gets for putting a kotatsu in the common room and choosing it as a place of study.
“Why don’t we take a little break?” Momo asks. “And then we can do some drawings. Does that sound okay?”
Eri nods, and immediately scrambles around the table to go sit next to Midoriya, peeking over his arm to see what he’s doing. Midoriya lifts his arm to let her duck under it so she can have a closer look.
Midoriya sits in on every tutoring lesson. He brings his notebooks and homework and does it next to Eri, and it works wonders to keep Eri relaxed. He offers extra encouragement when Eri struggles with something, steps in to help Momo when she’s explaining things in a way Eri isn’t getting.
He’s dubbed himself Momo’s teaching assistant and Momo can’t say she minds. Midoriya is a lot of help, even if he keeps sneaking Eri food. Though to be fair to him, he also keeps sneaking Momo food.
A peeled tangerine is pushed her way, and when she glances up Midoriya is already peeling another, teaching Eri how to do it. She struggles to break the skin with her short nails, and Midoriya trades tangerines with her so she can finish peeling off his and he can start on hers.
The whole thing is fairly domestic and it makes Momo think of how much of a good brother Midoriya would make. How much of a good brother he already seems to be, unofficially as it is.
Momo eats her tangerine because she doesn’t want to be rude, and then she gathers every work sheet in a neat pile and gets up. “I’ll be right back. I bought some new things for Eri to try.”
Midoriya and Eri both nod in acknowledgement.
“Thank you, Yaomomo-san,” Eri says with a little smile, which is definitely worth the money Momo spent on a high quality set of a 120 markers.
She plans to go get them in her room and then come back, the whole thing shouldn’t take her more than five minutes, but she gets derailed because Hagakure lost one of her contacts and asks for help to find it, and then Jirou informs her that Kaminari is taped to the ceiling again, and then Satou intercepts her with a freshly baked tray of cookies which she can’t really pass up.
So a five minute trip turns into a fourty minute affair, and when she comes back to the living room she finds Eri asleep, cheek pressed against Midoriya’s side and drooling into his shirt.
Midoriya either hasn’t noticed yet, or doesn’t mind because he has an arm around her back, propping her against him and making sure she’s comfortable.
Momo feels bad that she took so long that Eri grew bored enough to fall asleep. She presses her lips together and sits down across from Midoriya.
“I’m sorry for the delay,” she says earnestly.
“No worries. Eri-chan was tired, she’d probably have fallen asleep either way.”
Momo isn’t sure if he’s just saying that to make her feel better or not, but she doesn’t know Midoriya to be a liar and she’s trying to be better about not beating herself up for minor things, so she takes his words to heart and tries not to worry.
Instead she says, “I didn’t know you were left handed.”
“Oh, I’m not,” Midoriya says, right arm still firmly wrapped around Eri. “But I’m working on being ambidextrous,” he flexes his fingers a little, “just in case, you know?”
Momo does know, but she really wishes she didn’t. There’s something perturbing about one of her close classmates having to make plans in case he stops being able to use one of his arms.
She doesn’t know how to reply to that. Luckily, she’s spared from having to do it by Shinsou walking into the living room, taking in the scene, and asking, “Oh, we napping?” before promptly laying down with his head on Midoriya’s lap.
“Hey, what am I? A pillow?” Midoriya asks, but there’s a laugh in his voice and he doesn’t sound terribly put out by it.
“It’s free real estate,” Shinsou says, voice a little muffled, and Midoriya stifles a laugh, looking over at Eri when he’s done to make sure she’s still asleep.
They spend the next hour in relative silence. Shinsou falls asleep too, and Midoriya keeps working on his notebook, handwriting messier than usual.
Momo works on study guides she promised Mina and Kaminari, and when Eri wakes up, she shows her the new markers she bought along with the brightly colored sketchpad and watches, beyond pleased with herself, as Eri’s eyes widen in awe and she dumps all the markers on the kotatsu, touching each of them with reverent fingers before she sets on drawing.
Momo, very valiantly, only tears up a little when Eri presents her with a drawing of the two of them.
They all have bad days.
Eijirou knows this maybe better than anyone, because Eijirou is everyone’s friend, and because he’s everyone’s friend, he does his very best to help them in any way he can. He cares about everyone so deeply, he’s fought alongside them, he’s seen them grow and be better, he’s helped and been helped in their communal journey to become heroes, to become great.
Eijirou has stood beside his classmates countless times ready to do whatever it took to make sure everyone came back breathing.
His mother used to tell him that he cares too much about too many things. Not in a mean way, not in a scolding way. She used to say it while petting a hand through his hair, cuddling him close to her body, worried about how much of himself he gave away.
He still hasn’t found that balance between helping and making sure he doesn’t break while doing it.
It helps that he has people who are willing to give just as much back, people he can trust with his life and with his heart, people he can trust with all his bad days.
This is not a bad day for Eijirou, but it is one for Midoriya.
They all have tells.
Eijirou’s is getting quiet, he’s told. Bakugou’s is reverting back to those first months at UA, pushing everyone away by any means necessary. Sero’s is cleaning his entire room, isolating himself.
Midoriya’s is haunting around the dorms like a ghost, walking up and down the hallways with dark circles under his eyes that betray how little sleep he’s been getting, sitting by windows watching attentively the scenery outside like he’s scanning for threats.
Eijirou wants to help. He wants to help so much it’s almost a suffocating thing, but he doesn’t know how.
The thing about Midoriya is that he’s a lot like Eijirou in one aspect. He gives too much of himself to others. Midoriya has made himself into the sort of person you go to for help if you’re in trouble. Some of them will even go to Midoriya faster than they will go to Aizawa, because they know that when push comes to shove, when things start looking dire, there’s always Midoriya there pushing through limits and breaking himself blue and bloody.
It’s a dangerous thing to depend on someone like that.
It’s an unbearably heavy load to be depended on like that.
Sometimes Eijirou looks at Midoriya and sees a heaviness to him that looks crushing, and every time he tries to make it better.
He’s a little lost as what to do today. He’s tried talking to him, tried pulling him into a friendly match of Mario Kart, tried to put on his favorite hero documentaries on in the main room if only to force him to sit and rest.
Nothing has worked so far, and Eijirou is getting worried.
He’s not the only one. They’ve become like a family and when one of them hurts it’s felt through the whole dorms, especially when it’s someone like Midoriya.
“Do you know what’s wrong?” he asks Shinsou, keeping his voice pitched low.
Shinsou looks tired too, but not overly so, just normal Shinsou levels of tiredness.
“He hasn’t been able to sleep for a couple of days,” Shinsou says, voice just as quiet, mouth twisted in a worried frown, “a civilian got hurt during his last patrol,” he continues and Eijirou winces because yeah, that’s- that’s a lot. “And Eri has been in and out of doctor appointments for the last few days. I think that’s what’s making him lose sleep on top of everything else.”
“No wonder he’s like this,” Eijirou says, feeling his heart clench. “Is Eri alright?”
“Yeah, it’s just, you know, routine stuff, but she really, really hates it. She keeps calling asking for him but he can’t really go to her, so he feels like he’s failing her.”
“Is there anything we can do?” Eijirou asks, worrying his lip between his teeth.
He hates seeing Midoriya like this.
“I don’t know,” Shinsou says, and the sigh he lets out sounds weary. “I’ve been trying, but I think he’ll only be able to rest when she comes back.”
“Is she coming back soon?”
“Either later today or tomorrow. I’ve been trying to distract him, but…”
“Yeah.” Eijirou had tried that too, with little success.
They watch Midoriya pace back and forward quietly for a couple more minutes before Eijirou makes up his mind. He doesn’t really like doing this, because it feels vaguely dirty to use one of Midoriya’s weaknesses against him, but-
“Hey, Midoriya,” he says, walking up to him with what he hopes is an easy going smile. He waits for Midoriya to turn to him, eyes tired, face pinched. “I’ve been really struggling with History of Heroics lately, can you help me out with it?”
Midoriya chews on his lip, glances towards the window and then back. “Right now?”
“Yeah. Please? I’m really worried about falling behind. I can’t really afford to score badly on another test,” Kirishima tells him with a wince when he remembers his score on the latest one.
Nothing he’s saying is a lie. He does need help, he struggles a lot with subjects that require more memorization than anything else, but it still feels a little wrong to use Midoriya’s inability to say no when someone needs help to distract him. Even if it’s for his own good.
Midoriya looks at him for a second, stares with uncharacteristically dull eyes straight into his soul, and Eijirou knows Midoriya knows what he’s trying to do. But still he nods, he sighs, he says, “I’ll help in what I can.”
Midoriya is a lot like Eijirou in this too. When he’s feeling bad, helping others helps.
“Thanks, man, you’re a lifesaver,” he says and claps him on the shoulder a little, throws an arm over him to lead him to his room.
He looks over his shoulder at Shinsou while he steers them towards the elevators, and gets a thumbs up and a mouthed “thank you.”
Midoriya’s a good teacher, and he does help Eijirou where he’s struggling. They spent a couple of hours going over stuff before their stomachs rumble and they decide to stop for the day and go downstairs.
Eijirou makes food for both of them and makes sure Midoriya is eating.
It’s during their early dinner that Eri comes back, dragging her feet through the door besides Aizawa, head downturned and clutching a well-worn All Might plushie that Eijirou knows for a fact is Midoriya’s.
As soon as he sees her Midoriya drops his chopsticks and speeds walks towards her.
“Eri,” he says, relief palpable in his voice.
It makes Eri look up, eyes widening and filling with tears before she drops her plushie and runs at him. Midoriya catches her easily, holds her tight against his chest as her shoulders start to shake.
Midoriya’s whispering to her, Eijirou can hear the soft cadence of his voice, but he can’t really distinguish the words, can only see Eri nodding against his shoulder, hands griped tight on his shirt. It kind of breaks Eijirou’s heart.
Aizawa leans down to pick up the plushie Eri dropped and walks over to them, lips pressed together in apprehension, and eyes looking even more tired than usual. He taps the plushie against Eri’s hand and she peers up at him.
“Do you want to stay here for a little bit?”
Eri clutches harder at Midoriya, nods.
Aizawa offers her the plushie and she takes it, tucks it against herself.
“I’ll pick you up later, then.” He says, and starts walking away. “Midoriya I’m trusting her to you.”
“I’ll take care of her,” Midoriya says gravely, with a firm nod that seems to put Aizawa at ease as he drags himself away.
Eijirou averts his eyes for a moment, feeling like he’s intruding a little bit as Midoriya comforts Eri, rocks her in the same way he’s seen Midoriya do to himself in a self-soothing method, pets a hand down her back as he keeps whispering.
He comes back to the table a handful of minutes later, and Eijirou silently gets a serving for Eri too, who only picks at her food a little from Midoriya’s lap, one hand always clutching to him like she’s scared he’s going to disappear.
Sometimes Eri will look up at him and Eijirou will do his best to give her reassuring little smiles, close-lipped just in case his teeth startle her. They don’t, usually, but you never know with kids.
When the food’s all gone, Midoriya stands up, Eri on his hip and looks between her and the plates on the table, a little frown etched on his face.
“I’ll take care of the dishes, don’t worry,” Eijirou says, because it really costs him nothing, and he thinks he’d need to be a special kind of heartless to separate those two right now.
Midoriya chews on his lip a little bit, looks down at Eri, and then nods.
“Thank you so much, Kirishima-kun. For everything. Really, thank you,” and he sounds so unbearably earnest that Eijirou’s heart both clenches painfully and grows two sizes.
There is very, very little Eijirou wouldn’t do for his friends.
“Anytime,” he says.
It’s easy being kind to Midoriya, especially when kindness costs so little with him. Especially when he knows Midoriya gives kindness back just as easily.
Everyone has bad days, and when Kirishima has them, Midoriya never hesitates to help in whatever he can.
Midoriya and Eri wander off towards the couches, while Eijirou takes care of clean up.
When he’s all done, he wanders after them, just meaning to check if they need anything and if they want to be left alone or want some company. What he finds is Midoriya laying down on the couch, passed out asleep, mouth slightly open as he breathes deeply, Eri equally as asleep on his chest with one of his arms over her to make sure she won’t fall down.
Eijirou can’t describe how much relief it brings him to see Midoriya actually resting. He doesn’t want to risk waking them up, so he lowers the volume of the television and grabs a blanket off of one of the other couches, draping it gently over them.
He dims the lights of the living room on his way out, and writes a quick note next to the entrance warning the others to be quiet coming in.
The next time he walks back into the living room is to Eri’s muffled giggling and Shinsou’s gentle teasing voice, and it makes him breathe a little easier.
Tsuyu sits under the shade of a tree next to Aizawa and watches passively as Midoriya runs around the playground, Eri-chan sitting on one of his shoulders and Tsuyu’s little sister on the other.
To be frank, and she always is frank, she didn’t know what to think when she had been asked if they could organize a playdate between Eri and her sister. The issue of Eri not having many friends close to her age was brought up, and with the intent being her joining a normal classroom at some point in the future, they wanted to expose her to more kids her age.
Tsuyu’s little sister, Satsuki, is shy around strangers, so Tsuyu wasn’t sure how effective having the two girls meet would be. She had forseen a lot of awkwardly sitting around, unsure how to proceed. You can’t really force two kids to interact if they really don’t want to.
She had, of course, not accounted for Midoriya being there, like she should have.
Midoriya is a bit of a natural with children. It had taken him exactly ten minutes to win Tsuyu’s little sister over, and now, almost one hour after that, the playground has been filled with both Satsuki’s and Eri’s laughter as Midoriya coaxes it out of them.
Tsuyu has no idea what they’re playing at now, she just knows it involves the girls riding on his shoulders, pointing at different parts of the park and making Midoriya run over, crouch down to examine some leaf or bug or tree, before they point somewhere else and he dutifully heads there.
It’s good to see all of them having fun. Tsuyu was never under illusions of how heavy a toll being a hero takes, so she knows to treasure moments like this, moments of stillness and happiness.
Aizawa gets up slowly, patting his jumpsuit free of grass, and Tsuyu looks up at him, blinking widely. “Time to go, sensei?”
“Yes,” Aizawa says on a sigh, and there’s a hint of reluctance to it. He doesn’t want to stop Eri’s fun, Tsuyu knows.
She gets herself up too, grabbing their backpacks, as Aizawa calls Midoriya over and tells them it’s time to go, being met with three almost identical murmurs of disappointment.
“Five more minutes?” Midoriya asks hopefully.
“We were supposed to be heading towards the station half an hour ago.”
“Oh,” Midoriya says, blinking a little in astonishment. “Thank you for the extra time, sensei!” he then says with a sunny smile, and starts lowering himself down, until both Eri and Satsuki can comfortably hop down from his shoulders.
“I wanted to play more,” Satsuki frowns, but lets Tsuyu slip her tiny backpack over her shoulders. “Can we come play again?”
“Another day, Satsuki,” Tsuyu says, because given how well this went there’s no way Aizawa won’t plan another one of these outings.
Satsuki pouts a little but doesn’t complain, looking ahead where the rest of their group is already walking towards the exit to the park. She runs after them and grabs Midoriya’s free hand, making him startle a little bit, but smile when he realizes it’s just Satsuki.
Eri peers at Satsuki from Midoriya’s other side, one hand firmly in his, and the other in Aizawa’s.
Tsuyu takes out of her phone and snaps a couple pictures, sending them to the class’ group chat immediately, because it’s really too good of an image to pass up, before she follows after them.
The train ride isn’t ridiculously long, put Satsuki and Tsuyu have been out since early morning, first running errands for their parents, and then playing, so it comes as no surprise when she falls asleep.
Tusyu opens her mouth to comment on it with Midoriya and then closes it again when she sees him nodding off, head bobbing gently with the rocking of the cart, one arm thrown over each of the girls as they both have passed out against him.
It makes her smile a little.
She takes out her phone, and takes another picture.
Hitoshi loves nights like these the most, when everything feels quiet and mellow and unhurried. When he can lay down with Izuku and just breath, taking comfort in each other’s presence without the need to fill the silence with conversation.
It's a much needed break from how hectic their usual day-to-day lives are.
Tonight everything feels so soft and slow that Hitoshi feels like he could almost fall asleep. Izuku, for someone who's so tightly packed with muscle, makes for an excellent pillow. A pillow who likes running his hands through Hitoshi's hair, only contributing for his mellow state.
Hitoshi idly thinks he could stay like this forever.
And then, just as he thinks it, because Hitoshi’s life is a long-winded joke with no punchline in sight, there's a knock on the door.
They both stop their scrolling through their phones and look up towards the door.
"Are you expecting anyone?" Hitoshi asks, tilting his head to look up at Izuku.
"No?" He says, looking at the door with a little confused frown.
"Are you going to open it?"
"You’re on top of me," Izuku tells him as if he doesn't know. "I can't get up."
"Yesterday, you threw me over your shoulder during rescue practice."
"I did. And?”
"You could push me off."
"Hmm, you’re right," Izuku says, and Hitoshi barely has time to register the mischievous glint in his eye before he’s being pushed legs firs onto the floor.
He stumbles a little, but manages to stay standing. He gives Izuku a betrayed look.
"Oh, Hitoshi, now that you're up can you open the door, please?"
"I'm breaking up with you," Hitoshi tells him, but goes to open the door. "You're a terrible boyfriend."
Izuku's response to that is to stick his tongue out at him. Hitoshi sticks his tongue back at him and opens the door, then blinks when he doesn’t see anyone. He looks to the left, then to the right, and wonders if someone really just tried to prank Midoriya at eleven at night.
“Um,” a tiny voice says, bringing Hitoshi’s attention down.
Eri stands there in her pajamas, twisting the hems of her shirt in her fingers, looking unsure and a little scared. Hitoshi immediately softens and crouches down.
“Hey, Eri-chan, do you need something.”
“Um,” she repeats. “Is Deku here?”
“Is that Eri-chan?” Izuku calls from inside. “Let her in!” he says.
Hitoshi dutifully steps aside, and lets Eri through, watching her scurry towards the bed, and only hesitate for a second before she starts climbing up, accidentally digging one of her bony knees into Izuku’s gut and making him wince, even as he helps boost her up and over him.
Hitoshi resigns to having his spot stolen.
“Everything okay?” Izuku asks, sitting up a little.
"I couldn't sleep," she whispers. "Aizawa-san is working so he said I could come here."
"I see," Izuku says, pitching his voice into a whisper too. "Do you wanna watch a movie?"
Eri nods enthusiastically, eyes sparkling.
"Is it okay if Hitoshi sits with us?"
That gets another nod, a little more hesitant but still firm.
"Hitoshi, can you get me my laptop, please?"
Hitoshi grabs it from Izuku's desk, and turns back to see him arrange himself and Eri on the bed so there's enough space for Hitoshi to sit. He pats the freed space when he's done and looks at Hitoshi expectantly.
Hitoshi places the laptop in Izuku's lap and sits down, lifting an arm and putting it over Izuku’s shoulders so he can lean back more comfortably and have that little extra space.
"What do you wanna watch?" Izuku asks, looking over at Eri.
After a couple beats of indecisive silence from Eri’s side, Hitoshi says, "Little Witch Academia."
"Oh! That's a great idea, you'll love it, Eri-chan," Izuku says enthusiastically, already navigating his laptop to pull up the movie.
Hitoshi feels very quietly smug that Izuku liked his idea. It turns out to be a good one because Eri loves the movie so much that Izuku pulls up the series next.
She watches with rapt attention, eyelids drooping as episodes fly by until she falls fully asleep pressed against Izuku, mouth slack and drooling.
Hitoshi isn’t sure if Izuku doesn’t notice Eri’s fallen asleep or if he doesn’t care because he’s just that invested in the show.
Hitoshi doesn’t remember falling asleep. He was more or less expecting to spend a fitful night, but when he wakes up again his phone reads 10 a.m. and he’s alone in Izuku's bed, cuddling a pillow.
He gets up slowly, mouth uncomfortably dry and with a dull headache from sleeping more than usual.
Blinking blearily, he makes his way into the half-bathroom in Izuku’s room, grabbing the spare toothbrush he keeps there to get the taste of morning breath off his tongue, and washes his face. Only when he feels a little more human does he drag his way out of the room and downstairs for some food.
He hears voices from the living room and plans to just say a quick greeting on his way to the kitchen, but then gets caught with his mouth half open to speak at the scene in front of him.
“It worked!” Izuku cheers.
“It worked!” Uraraka crows, holding her hand for a high five that Izuku happily gives.
“Why is Eri floating on a broom?” he asks, watching as Eri weightlessly sits on their dorm’s worn broom, both hands wrapped tightly around it and smile wide and excited. Midoriya has one hand on the broom so it doesn’t completely float away.
“I’m a witch!” Eri says.
“She’s a witch!” Izuku beams.
“You’re a witch!” Hitoshi says and Eri beams. “And I need some breakfast.”
“Oh,” Eri says, and then turns to Izuku. “I’m hungry.”
“To the kitchen!” Izuku says, and starts pulling the broom towards the kitchen, Eri still comfortably perched on it, floating mid-air.
Hitoshi exchanges an amused look with Uraraka and follows them.
Shouta still remembers what it was like to spend the weeks between terms alone in his apartment, eyes hurting from looking at a screen for too long as the quiet blanketed him. He still remembers falling asleep on his couch and waking up with a crick in his neck.
He thinks back to those times now as he hears something break in the kitchen and Hizashi’s not-quiet-enough cursing, and does not miss it one bit.
“No one come into the kitchen! Shouta get the cats!” Hizashi calls.
Shouta pushes himself off his desk, stationed in the living room at Hizashi’s insistence, and goes looking for the cats.
“What did you break?”
“Was it my mug?”
A telling pause. “No.”
Eri pokes her head out of her room and peers down the hall.
“Don’t go into the kitchen, Hizashi broke something.”
Eri nods seriously, and then frowns and asks. “Is he in trouble?”
One of the cats wanders out of her room towards Shouta and he picks it up to make sure there are no accidents. The last thing they need right now is a trip to the vet.
“We’ll see,” Shouta says ominously. “Have you seen the others?”
“I think Lotte’s in Hitoshi’s room. I’ll get her!” she says, and rushes off towards Hitoshi’s room.
Shouta had been a little worried when he officially adopted Hitoshi and brought him into his house. He didn’t really know how Eri would react to sharing her safe space with another kid, but letting Hitoshi go back into the foster system for vacation and holidays was ridiculous, so.
He didn’t need to worry. Eri and Hitoshi already got along from the time they spent together at the U.A. dorms and seem to share the same love for magical girl anime. Shouta would say that the only thing that makes him rethink his decision, is how Hitoshi keeps trying to teach Eri to be a little shit and play pranks on them, but that’d be a lie.
Shouta hears the distinct sound of the front door opening, quickly followed by one of his cat’s mad dash towards it, and he rushes over. He does not feel like walking up and down the entire neighborhood looking for his cat. Again.
“I’m home,” Hitoshi calls, cat safely tucked in his arms. “I brought Izuku.”
“Pardon the intrusion,” the Problem Child says, peering around curiously. “Is Eri-chan around?”
“I knew it,” Hitoshi says with a mock sigh, “you’re only dating me so you can see Eri during vacation.”
“Damn, you caught me,” Midoriya says, a hint of amusement in his voice, and Shouta very privately thinks it’s good to see him relaxed and not so high-strung that he seems one word away from shaking himself apart. “I wanna see my little girl.”
As if on cue Eri comes down the hall with a disgruntled cat in her arms. The thing is so big, she can barely hold it, and Shouta wishes he had his phone at hand to take a picture. Turns out it’s a good thing he had one hand relatively free because as soon as Eri sees Midoriya she puts the cat down with a happy shout of, “Deku,” and flies at him.
Shouta scoops Lotte up, as Hitoshi says in a weirdly sing-songy voice, “Here she comes,” and Midoriya catches Eri in his arms in a hug.
“Okay, the kitchen is clear!” Hizashi yells out, wandering into the living room. “And I need to go out on non-mug buying business.”
“Subtle,” Hitoshi says.
Hizashi kisses Shouta on the cheek and rushes out the door with a, “Bye, my beautiful family, don’t miss me too much.” The door shuts behind him.
“What ha-“ Hitoshi starts, and is cut off by the door opening again and Hizashi poking his head back in.
“Did we get a new kid?” he asks, squinting at where Midoriya, Eri and Hitoshi are standing.
“No, that one is just visiting.”
Hizashi finger guns at him, “Gotcha,” he says, punctuating it with a wink, and closes the door again.
They collectively stare at the door for a couple of seconds before Hitoshi puts the cat down and starts herding Midoriya and Eri down the hall.
“We’re going to my room.”
“Do I need to tell you to leave your door open?” Shouta asks, mostly just to embarrass him.
“How would the cats get in if I closed it?” Hitoshi asks.
“Good answer,” Shouta says and puts his cats down, watching them zoom different ways across the living room.
“Can we watch DoReMi?” Eri asks Hitoshi, and then to Midoriya, “Hitoshi says I can only watch new episodes with him.”
“Is that so?” Midoriya asks, giving Hitoshi an amused look.
“Hush,” Hitoshi tells him as they disappear down the hall and into Hitoshi’s room.
Shouta sighs and shakes his head a little, going back to his work.
Hizashi comes back at some point, badly hiding a small shopping bag behind his back, as he edges his way into the kitchen, and then walks back into the living room with a brand new mug similar to the new he no doubt broke filled with coffee.
Shouta sips his coffee and doesn’t say anything about it.
His mug is almost empty when Eri tugs on his sleeve, and with wide eyes says, “Help.”
Shouta’s senses immediately go into overdrive. “What’s wrong?”
“I can’t reach,” she says, sounding dismayed.
Shouta breathes out harshly and gets up, takes a second to stretch his stiff back before he follows Eri down the hall and towards the closet. She stands in front of it and points up to a high shelf, standing on the tips of her toes.
“You want this?” he asks, touching one of their soft extra blankets.
“Yes, please,” she says, and Shouta gets it down for her.
She bundles it in her arms, the bulk of it almost too much for her and carries it down the hall. Shouta closes the closet door before he follows her, peeking into Hitoshi’s room.
Hitoshi and Midoriya are passed out asleep in Hitoshi’s bed, slumped against each other. Eri is on her knees on the bed next to them, stretching the blanket out over them to the best of her abilities, trying to tuck them in.
She nods to herself when she’s done and climbs back off the bed, taking Shouta’s hand on her way out the door and tugging him away. There have been very few moments in Shouta’s life where he felt this warm, but they’re becoming more and more frequent.
They go back to the living room, and leave them to rest.