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Come Listen!

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Everyday on the way home from school, Hitoshi passed by a record store.

At first, it was because it was on the way to the train station, when he’d take the train to the town his foster home was in. It was the fastest way to get from UA to the station, so Hitoshi passed it every day on the way there and back.

When he was adopted by Aizawa and Yamada, though, Hitoshi didn’t change his path, even though it meant that he was now going out of his way to pass by the store.

Each day, Hitoshi would take the same route home. He walked a totally different way to school, when he was almost always accompanied by one or both of his new parents, but he was oftentimes alone walking home. When he was, he’d walk the same path he had to the train station and every time, he’d stop for a few moments in front of the same record store and peer inside.

He’d look at all the shelves full of music, at the decorative instruments hanging on the wall. His eyes would search over the thousands of records and fall on the familiar covers that just by looking at, he could almost hear the telltale “Hey, Hitoshi, come listen to this one with me! It’s my favorite!”. Over time, Hitoshi grew more and more familiar with the music within the store as the weeks went on and each time, he’d stop and look for longer.

He’d never actually go inside.

When Hitoshi had moved in, he’d been afraid that he wouldn’t be able to bond with Yamada at all. The thought of it had terrified him—Hitoshi had always wanted parents and now he had two of them, but one of them was a near-stranger who Hitoshi barely knew and who, to put it simply, wasn’t really the type of person Hitoshi would usually hang around.

It wasn’t that he didn’t like Yamada. It was the opposite, actually. He was just a stranger who Hitoshi knew, who he wanted to get to know, but who he was terrified he wouldn’t be able to connect with. After all, Aizawa had been the first adult Hitoshi had ever been able to trust and the first person Hitoshi had ever really gotten close to. Part of that had been because Hitoshi had already been such a longtime fan of Eraserhead. Yamada was new, though, and Hitoshi didn’t have that existing bias towards him, and because of that, he’d been consumed with the fear that they wouldn’t be able to connect, that Yamada would end up rejecting him because they were just too different.

But then on that first day after the papers had been signed and the adoption had been finalized—

“Hey Hitoshi!” Yamada had grinned at him from where he was sitting on the floor in front of the bookcase in the living room, a crate of records pulled out from the bottom of it and spread on the floor around him. “Come listen to this record with me! It’s my favorite.”

Hitoshi had gone, but not without a moment of hesitation. He’d looked towards Aizawa, who’d been hard at work just a few moments ago on the living room couch grading, but was now watching the two of them. He’d nodded at Hitoshi and Hitoshi had gone, going to where Yamada was and sitting down on the floor with him amidst a sea of scattered records.

Hitoshi had glanced around and said, “You have a lot of these.”

He hadn’t known what else to say.

Yamada had just grinned wider, though, “Of course I do! What kinda music do you like?”

Hitoshi frowned, his hands tying themselves in a knot in his lap. He’d been stiff, wondering what to say or do. He didn’t want to disappoint Yamada, but he didn’t want to lie, so he’d told the truth— “I, uh—I don’t really know. I used to listen to the radio sometimes but I’ve never really... listened to music a lot.”

To his surprise, though, Yamada’s smile hadn’t faltered, “Great! Then I get to show you all kinds of music and we’ll figure out which one you like best! Let’s start with this one!”

That had been that. Yamada had showed him a record player he’d said Aizawa had gotten him for his birthday a few years before. He’d proudly proclaimed this record to be his favorite and he’d sat with Hitoshi on the floor listening to it, never really expecting Hitoshi to say much. Somewhere between the third song and Yamada’s nonstop stream of facts about the band, Hitoshi had found himself relaxing.

The next day, Hitoshi had stopped in front of the record store for the first time and stared inside in wonder.

 

“Hitoshi! Come listen to this one with me! It’s my favorite!” Yamada had called out to him a couple days later, sitting in the same place with the same box of records, but holding up a completely different one.

This time, Hitoshi hadn’t hesitated, though he’d still glanced over at Aizawa and gotten that same short nod as he watched the two of them.

“I thought the other one was your favorite,” Hitoshi said as he sat down on the floor in the same place as before, looking over the new selection of records that was scattered on the floor.

“It is!” Yamada answered with that same huge grin. “They’re all my favorites! I only buy my favorite records!”

Hitoshi had paused, but only hesitated a moment before he said exactly what was on his mind, “You have a lot of favorites, then.”

“I do,” Yamada had answered with a laugh. “Why just have one favorite when I can have a ton of favorites? Let’s listen to this one; I bet you’ll love it!”

He’d been right; Hitoshi had really liked it.

The next day, he found himself looking at the record store for even longer. He was quick to discover that the store had the very same record he’d listened to with Yamada on display on the wall closest to the window.

 

After that, it became a routine.

Yamada was often home before Aizawa was. Hitoshi was usually the first to the house though.

Everyday, Yamada would come home, take off all his hero gear and wash the product out of his hair, and then he would tell Hitoshi to take a break from his homework so they could listen to music together. Hitoshi would find himself waiting for it, counting down the minutes until Yamada would be home.

Listening to music with him took Hitoshi’s mind off of everything else. And soon enough, Yamada’s talk about music while they listened together evolved into conversations about anything. Hitoshi started asking more questions about what Yamada had him listen to and that made him open up, getting him more comfortable with talking to him until he felt like he could say anything that was on his mind to him.

Hitoshi started to feel like it’d been silly to ever think that he wouldn’t be able to connect with Yamada.

He’d been so afraid. Hitoshi was a lot like Aizawa. It was easy to get along with him because of how similar they were. But to Hitoshi, Yamada was a total opposite. It wasn’t bad and Hitoshi had never disliked him, but he’d been terrified that they were too different to be close. He’d been very wrong, though, both about Yamada and being too different to be close.

Hitoshi quickly found that he was actually similar to Hitoshi—and oddly enough, Hitoshi was discovering that he liked a lot of the same things Yamada did.

The issue was that he’d never had a chance to explore the things he liked beforehand.

 

Within a couple weeks, it was obvious that Hitoshi’s taste in music skewed heavily towards punk, and that was exactly what Yamada liked, as well.

About a month into living there, Yamada’s record player broke.

Hitoshi had nearly had a panic attack. He was still working on a lot of things mentally and in that moment, the only thing he could think was that he’d be blamed. That it was his fault and now they wouldn’t be able to have their daily time together since he’d broke Yamada’s treasured record player.

In reality, the needle had hit a record groove wrong and snapped. But to Hitoshi, anything that bad happened could be blamed on him.

All Yamada had done was give him a little smile and ask, “Wanna see how to replace the needle? It’s pretty cool to see the inner workings of it.”

So Yamada had shown him how to replace the needle on it. He’d opened the machine up and showed Hitoshi the inside. He’d explained each piece and mechanic and shown him how they all worked together. The panic had dissipated, and Hitoshi had hung onto his every word.

The following week, Yamada took him to the radio studio when he was doing his show.

He’d taught Hitoshi how the control panel worked and how everything in the radio station was put together. Hitoshi had watched as he’d simultaneously talked and controlled everything on the broadcast by himself. He gave Hitoshi a pair of studio headphones and even let him control the song selection for a couple hours.

Being interested in broadcast was never something Hitoshi ever thought he’d like. But before now, he’d never been allowed to explore his interests. The only thing he’d ever known about himself was that he wanted to be an underground hero like Eraserhead. Now, he was learning more and more about himself.

Hitoshi went to the studio with Yamada every week after that. The others at the radio station got to know him well, always greeting him excitedly and showing him around more.

While Hitoshi wasn’t really into talking on the radio, like Yamada was, he was entranced by the technical side of things, and Yamada was more than happy to indulge him and show him everything he knew.

 

By the time Aizawa had to go away on his first mission since Hitoshi had moved in, Hitoshi had gotten comfortable enough with Yamada that he could talk to him about anything. He was grateful for that, because Hitoshi was a mess and he had no idea how he would’ve gotten through that weekend if it wasn’t for him.

“I get really worried when he goes away, too,” Yamada had told him that first night he was gone, when Hitoshi was huddled in the living room corner with a blanket pulled over his head, unable to get himself to calm down. Yamada had sat next to him and just talked to him. “It can be really hard. Not to mention nerve-wracking. I’m not gonna tell you not to worry, because I know that’s impossible. Maybe we can worry together, though.”

Hitoshi felt himself relax a little.

Yamada patted his shoulder and without saying much, got up and put a softer, quieter record on, letting the music fill the silence. He sat back down with Hitoshi and the two of them listened together.

There was something about not being told to not worry that helped—like the fact that him being worried was alright made things better. Hitoshi had leaned into him and eventually, talked to him, and together, the two of them made it through that weekend until a very exhausted but perfectly safe Aizawa came back home.

 

Hitoshi’s birthday had been about a month later.

Hitoshi couldn’t remember ever celebrating his birthday. As a kid, he’d sometimes have teachers or the occasional classmate wish him happy birthday, but besides that, no one at home had ever celebrated.

This year, Aizawa and Yamada baked him a cake. He knew it was both of them because half the cake was obviously lopsided and looking as if it was going to topple over at any second, which meant that Aizawa had definitely helped bake it. The ‘Happy Birthday, Hitoshi!’ written in frosting was in Yamada’s handwriting, while the little drawing of a cat face was clearly Aizawa.

Seventeen candles were stuck in the cake and for the first time in his life, Hitoshi was allowed to blow out birthday candles and make a wish.

There were gifts from the two of them—gifts that made Hitoshi cry. A heartfelt letter from both of them, a scarf Aizawa had made him, a cat plush they’d both picked out, and among a few other things—a new record and leather jacket from Yamada.

“To start your own collection!” He’d said, pointing at the record. “I picked out one I knew you’d like!”

Hitoshi had looked from the jacket to the record, trying to take it in. The jacket looked just like Yamada’s many non-hero costume leather jackets. The record from a punk band they’d discovered Hitoshi liked.

“Yeah,” Hitoshi smiled, trying to wipe the tears away from his eyes. “It’s my favorite.”

Yamada had cried after that, too. Hitoshi swore he saw Aizawa tear up. He, of course, denied it.

 

A little less than a week later, Hitoshi found himself at the record store again, staring inside from the window, just like he had every other day for months.

Today was different, though.

Yamada’s birthday was just a week after Hitoshi’s.

Hitoshi had spent the last few days listening to the record he’d given Hitoshi nearly nonstop. He put it on while he was doing homework. He put it on at night. He put it on in the mornings before anyone else got up. Any chance he got, Hitoshi listened to that record. He was pretty sure that he knew it by heart now and yet, he just wanted to keep listening to it over and over again.

Hitoshi had his hands shoved in the pockets of the leather jacket Yamada had gotten him, and his fingers were wrapped around his wallet.

Today’s the day.

He’d been preparing for this all day. He’d been trying to get ready for this. There was no reason for walking into a store to be this hard, but here he was, standing out in front, trying to convince himself to go in and get what he wanted. He’d spent the entire day thinking about this. Planning. Now, all he had to do was go inside.

Finally, Hitoshi tore his gaze away and stepped the the front door. He drew in a deep breath and pushed it open, hearing the bells above the door jingle as they announced his arrival.

He froze, but he forced himself to keep going.

After all, he knew exactly what he wanted.

-

He only had to wait a day to give his present. He was absolutely grateful for that, since the last thing he wanted to do was lie or hide anything from his parents, so only having to hide a gift for a day was ideal.

He wrapped it and hid it in his closet and waited, and when the morning of Yamada’s birthday came around, Hitoshi was the first one awake. He was ready and sitting at the kitchen table before Aizawa and Yamada’s alarm clock ever went off and by the time the two of them wandered out of their room, Hitoshi had been thinking about this too much to let either of them get a question or even a single word in edgewise.

He sprung out of his chair, gripping his clumsily wrapped paper hard, and held it out to a still very tired-looking Yamada.

The moment he registered what Hitoshi was handing to him, he seemed to immediately fully wake up.

“I... know you have a lot already, but I thought I could maybe pick out a new favorite for you,” Hitoshi said as Yamada took it from him , his voice quiet, unsure. He’d spent a week thinking about this, planning and hoping and deciding. All he wanted was for it to be perfect.

“Oh, Hitoshi—” Yamada’s voice was maybe the softest he’d ever heard it. “It already is.”

Without unwrapping the gift, he pulled Hitoshi into a tight hug, and Hitoshi a bright smile blossom onto his own face. He wrapped his arms around Yamada’s neck and hugged him close, and all he could think was how horribly wrong he’d been to be afraid of not being able to connect with him.

Yamada meant every bit as much to him as Aizawa did, and Hitoshi wouldn’t have it any different.