There were only two people in the whole world who knew how weak Hitoshi was for affection. Affection was never something Hitoshi got a lot of when he was growing up. His parents were firm believers that vulnerability would only aid in you getting soft and getting yourself killed out there in ‘the real world.’ When he was four, not long after his quick manifested, all of the early affection he received to keep childhood development on path disappeared altogether. Maybe every now and then, his mother would ruffle his hair when she’d finish a long shift at the hospital - too tired to even remember her hatred.
At school, without friends, Hitoshi didn’t get to experience friendly hugs. He didn’t have that one friend who’d practically vibrate in their seat when he’d enter the room in the morning, calling out his name with greetings and asking all about his previous afternoon. That one friend didn’t exist so they never pulled him close in between classes, an arm thrown over his shoulders, talking loudly in his ears to combat Hitoshi’s natural silence. That one friend who understood that Hitoshi didn’t feel comfortable talking - not with his quirk as villainous as it was, not with his quirk putting up the risk it did merely by interacting with anyone. That one friend who’d sit next to him at lunch, against a tree, their entire body shoved against his side - completely foreign to something called personal space.
What he got instead were people leaving the seats around HItoshi empty every year, too afraid to go near the kid with the villainous quirk and the absent parents and the snarky personality. They whispered behind his back rumors about how he was the one that leaked the test results two weeks ago, he was the one that made Miyuki punch Kako in the fact yesterday after she hung out with him. The only kind of company and touch Hitoshi received were pushes in the hallways and jumpings behind school. Instead of hair ruffles Hitoshi’s hair would be held tight in a fist to maneuver back to punch him in the face. Instead of hands holding his, feet ground against them until he broke his promise to not show signs of weakness. Instead of hugs, arms kept him from slumping to the ground hit after hit landed.
After a while, Hitoshi stopped expecting to get affection from anyone. It became easier to expect the worst, assume that anyone who got close only wanted to hurt him. Unfortunately, it made Hitoshi’s life easier - knowing the world already wanted to hurt him prepared him for the worst. It prepared him for when his parents up and left two weeks before he started UA - no real explanation, just a final argument between him and his father that ended with Hitoshi silently heading to his room and hiding. When he came out for his work-out the next morning, their rooms were empty and money was left on the counter.
Life really became lonely after that. School was awkward and quiet - coming home to an empty house made it seem even worse. At least when his parents were still around, one of them would be home by the time he got back from school. They wouldn’t greet him but at least Hitoshi knew someone was there. Now though, there were no one to glance in his direction, to eat dinner with, to awkwardly stare at when they found each other in the middle of the night doing their own thing. He had the entire place to himself.
Then Eraser-head started mentoring him. After the Sports festival, being pulled aside during homeroom to talk to his favorite hero had felt like a fever dream. The minute he walked away, Hitoshi pinched his arm three times just to be completely sure that it wasn’t. Starting up training had been learning where Hitoshi’s boundaries were, being taught how to use Aizawa’s - Aizawa, Hitoshi gets to call his favorite hero by his name/i> - original capture device, and figuring out their own dynamic. Every minute kept Hitoshi on his toes, exhausted with lack of sleep and too much working out, but more energetic and happy than he’d been in years.
Their interactions started out as just mentor-mentee. Aizawa was trying Hitoshi to get into the hero course, to get enough strength and control to impress the Board, Hitoshi was learning everything he could from his idol. It was strictly business. And then Aizawa broke first, offering Hitoshi a trip to get some food and water down at a cat cafe, not even two blocks from the school. Hitoshi had flushed, unused to any sort of attention from the hero outside of these training sessions. He had agreed without thinking too much and for the next two hours, Hitoshi found himself pouring out more information about himself than he’d told anyone in his entire life.
Two days later, Hitoshi perfected one of the hardest maneuvers to learn after only a month. Aizawa had given him that weird smiling-but-not-smiling thing of his and reached out. He initially flinched away, expecting the worst but the hand just slowed down. A moment later, it dropped onto his head and ruffled his hair. Hitoshi did not tear up. He didn’t, really. If there was one lesson his father taught him that stuck was that crying meant vulnerability and weakness. However, Hitoshi did feel lightheaded at the sudden affection.
Aizawa ever-observant kept it on his head a moment or two too long before letting go, nodding in the direction of their jungle gym, telling him to get going.
The next couple of months passed pretty much the same. Slowly, Aizawa integrated casual affections into their interactions. Whenever Hitoshi did something well, Aizawa ruffled his hair. When Hitoshi smiled, Aizawa gave it back. Eventually, when Hitoshi started to open up, Aizawa did the same - it was a sign of trust. They were going good - Aizawa and Hitoshi had what he was slightly afraid to call a father-son dynamic, Hitoshi was already admitted into the hero course, Aizawa was getting through physical therapy steadily and surely.
And then Aizawa came into their usual weekend breaks to the cat cafe with a manilla folder. Hitoshi was pressed against the back of the cat cafe, sipping at the strong coffee he had ordered when he arrived, stroking the back of the tabby on his lap, reading the latest comic he got his hands on. When the little ding of the door closing rang out, he lifted his head out of the pages to see who it was. Aizawa lifted a hand in greeting, heading straight to him rather than get his usual strong coffee and retrieval of his favorite cat.
Immediately, Hitoshi felt a pit rise in his stomach. This was it, this was where Aizawa decided Hitoshi wasn’t fit to be in the hero’s life anymore, wasn’t fit to be a hero, that he had come to his senses and Hitoshi would be nothing more than a low-life villain. He stuffed the comic back into his bookbag, careful with it despite the way his hands were starting to shake and he was getting light-headed. “Aizawa-Sensei? Is everything okay?”
Aizawa slid into the seat across from him, “Everything’s fine, Hitoshi. Take a deep breath for me, okay?” He didn’t want to take a deep breath. What he wanted was for Aizawa to just rip the bandage off so he could leave. One of Aizawa’s hands disappeared from view for a moment before coming back with one of the fidget toys he kept around for his kids. In a sign of peace, he put it in the middle of the table and Hitoshi took it, swiftly working it over with practiced ease.
It worked well to calm him down enough to hear what Aizawa wanted to tell him. “What’s in the folder, Sensei?”
The teacher flipped it around so that it was facing Hitoshi before opening it. “See for yourself, kid.” Staring back at Hitoshi in big bold letters were the words ‘Report of Adoption.’ The world stopped as Hitoshi read through it all. His biological parents had been contacted and had signed over custody already, Aizawa and Yamada’s information were nearly completely filled out except for the very last signature, which left only Hitosh’s section empty.
“Are...Are you serious?” He couldn’t look away from the papers, going through them over and over again just to make sure he wasn’t missing anything. Surely, there was his mother’s signature and then his father’s. On the other page, neat Shouta Aizawa stood above Hizashi Yamada.
Aizawa nodded, “I’m completely serious. It’s only logical considering your living arrangements and the multitude of arising issues as you enter the hero course next year. Hitoshi, you deserve to have someone who cares about you and whether you make it home safely or not. Hizashi and I have already spoken it over and we’ve contacted our lawyers. Before we continue anything else, I needed to tell you. Do you consent to being adopted by Hizashi and I?”
Did he consent? Did he consent to being taken in by the hero that kept Hitoshi going his entire childhood? Did he consent from having to leave the one place that was always home to him to move to a brand new location, a brand new layout, a brand new family? Everything between them would change again. He would have to readjust, find himself and where their limits were - surely, they would have rules and strict No’s for him. Maybe they’d regret adopting him not even a week into their legal adoption and then it’d all be for nothing. Maybe Eri would fear him and he’d leave. Not that he’d mind it. Eri and her had interacted plenty of times but he knew he made the little girl uncomfortable.
But Hitoshi wanted it. He wanted it more than he’s ever wanted anything in his entire life. Hitoshi wanted to wake up to Hizashi’s singing in the mirrors as he cooked breakfast. He wanted to wake up to his own cat pressed against his side. He wanted to step out of his room in the morning, dressed for the hero course, and see Eri leaving her own room, smiling up at him while he smiled down. He wanted to be able to walk home with Aizawa after training rather than have to go separate ways every day. Above all else, Hitoshi just wanted to be loved.
“I- I consent.” Aizawa’s smile was toothy and a little lopsided but Hitoshi didn’t really see it past his own tears. He hadn’t cried since he was six and had scraped his knee badly enough to need a hospital trip. This was the biggest thing in his life, the biggest change surpassing the hero course with ease.
The cat had already scurried off, leaving Hitoshi’s hands and lap free once he dropped the fidget toy. He stood up, rounding to Aizawa’s side. The hero stood up as well, and Aizawa reached a hand out to ruffle his hair no doubt. No more did Hitoshi flinch but he didn’t let the hand reach him. Instead, Hitoshi threw himself forward, wrapping his arms tight around Aizawa’s shoulders, tucking his head in the crook of his arm and Aizawa’s neck. Aizawa returned the hug, holding on even tighter than Hitoshi was, one hand on his back and the other curled around purple hair.
He let the emotions and relief finally escape him, completely silent sobs racking his body as he went limp, letting the hero hold his weight for him. Aizawa grunted, planting his feet more strategically before shushing him, “I’ve got you, Hitoshi, you’re safe, you’re okay.”
Aizawa didn’t budge under Hitoshi’s weight - even if the teen was nearly as tall and as heavy as the hero was, steadily starting to surpass him even. For nearly five minutes they stood there, Aizawa supporting both their weights, talking softly to Hitoshi the entire time, telling him to let it out, that he would be there and so would Hizashi no matter what Hitoshi needed. Unfortunately, Aizawa’s straining muscles eventually caused them to both slide to the floor, still gripping each other tight, Hitoshi slack in his arms.
They didn’t need to move anytime soon so Aizawa let the kid remain there. After all, it was about damn time Hitoshi got some well-earned affection.