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find a way to make you mine

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Hizashi groans, flopping face first down on the table.

Shōta blinks at him slowly, unimpressed, and sucks absentmindedly on the straw poking out of his soda cup. Next to him, Tensei pops a fry into his mouth.

“I got dumped,” Hizashi mumbles, his cheek still squished against the McDonald’s table.

“You were dating?” Tensei asks, his eyebrows rising up towards his hairline. Shōta sucks on his straw harder and tries to look uninterested.

“The guy from Higashi Tech?” Hizashi answers, twisting his face around slightly to look up at Tensei. “I dragged you with me to see his band perform at that coffee shop?”

“The guitarist with the lip ring and the godawful dye job?” Tensei replies, and Shōta clenches his teeth slightly, suddenly glad that he’d refused to go to that particular concert. The last thing he wants is to watch Hizashi moon over yet another guy in a half-rate attempt at a band.

“Hey! His hair wasn’t that bad,” Hizashi sputters, finally picking up his face off the table. Shōta tries not to notice the way his cheeks have turned slightly pink.

“But you admit it was at least a little bad,” Tensei counters, looking amused.

Hizashi grimaces and doesn’t attempt to protest.

“I just got my heart broken,” Hizashi finally says, his cheeks puffed out in a pout. “Aren’t you supposed to be consoling me?”

“You wouldn’t get your heart broken if you stopped going after the bad boys,” Tensei sighs, unsympathetic. “You see a piercing and you lose all capacity for rational thought.”

“I do not!” Hizashi sputters. “I just – sort of have a type, okay? What’s wrong with that?”

“A type?” Tensei repeats, a smirk tugging at his lips, knowing and mischievous enough to make Shōta frown. “Are you sure ‘bad boy’ is your type? It’s not messy hair and – ”

“Yes, I’m sure!” Hizashi blurts out, his face flushing bright red and his voice squeaking a little at the end. Shōta frowns, chewing at his straw as he tries to interpret what Tensei could possibly mean about ‘bad boy’ not being Hizashi’s type.

After all, Shōta’s pretty sure he hasn’t seen Hizashi so much as flirt with someone who doesn’t have at least a single stud earring. Which, of course, always seems to be accompanied by dyed hair, boots out of season, and the smell of cigarette smoke which they claim is because their parents smoke, and not because the convenience store worker doesn’t bother to card if they’re out of their school uniform.

Shōta startles slightly, broken out of his thoughts, as Tensei reaches over to wrap an arm around his shoulders, tugging him closer, and says, “You should try dating someone like Shōta. He’s a good boy but also way cooler than those yakuza wannabes you go after could ever hope to be.”

“If you call me a ‘good boy’ again, I’ll kick your ass in training tomorrow,” Shōta says dryly, trying to ignore the way his heart flutters slightly at the thought of Hizashi dating him.

“Wholesome?” Tensei suggests, looking over at Shōta contemplatively.

Shōta glares.

“We should be focusing on our studies, not on dating,” Shōta finally says, shrugging off Tensei’s arm. It’s something he tells himself whenever he catches himself daydreaming about the impossibly green color of Hizashi’s eyes, but it’s much easier said than done.

“See,” Hizashi sighs. “Good boys like Shōta don’t have the time to date me.”

There’s something almost wistful about Hizashi’s tone, and it makes Shōta frown slightly.

“Three rounds tomorrow, Yamada,” Shōta announces, pushing those thoughts out of his mind and sucking up the last of his soda. “I won’t go easy on you.”

“Eh? What?” Hizashi replies, blinking at Shōta with wide eyes.

“I said that if someone called me a ‘good boy’ again, I’d kick their ass in training tomorrow,” Shōta snorts, reaching over to snag a fry and pop it in his mouth.

“I thought you were just referring to Tensei!” Hizashi sputters, sitting up ridged in his seat. “This is only my first offense!”

Shōta gives him an unsympathetic look.

“C’mon, Shōta, don’t be so mean,” Tensei says. He pauses, a smirk tugging at the corners of his lips and adds, “Hizashi might fall for you.”

“Why do you two have to pick on me like this?” Hizashi whines, plopping his head down onto the table again, cheek pressed up against the plastic. Idly, Shōta wonders how thoroughly the staff had cleaned it earlier.

“Tough love,” Tensei replies easily.

“Next time one of you has a breakup, don’t expect any sympathy from me,” Hizashi huffs, glaring up at the two of them from behind his sunglasses.

“Did you actually like the guy that much?” Tensei asks, his tone sobering a little. Shōta’s chest feels a little too tight and he reaches for another fry to distract himself.

“Well,” Hizashi says awkwardly, “no.”

“Then what’s the big deal?” Tensei replies. He leans in a little closer, propping his elbow up on the table and resting his cheek against his hand.

“I just want someone to like me, you know?” Hizashi complains. “I want someone to, like, look at me and think, ‘Wow, I wanna date him,’ and then actually put some effort into getting my attention and stuff. I don’t want to keep putting all the work into going after people only to get dumped in a week.”

“And I’m telling you you’re going after the wrong guys if that’s what you want,” Tensei sighs.

“At least they never tell me I’m too loud,” Hizashi grumbles, his cheek somehow going even flatter against the table.

For a brief, brief moment, Shōta wants to say something stupid like, I’m right here, but he manages to catch himself. After all, he’s seen the way Hizashi hangs off of guys he’s into, and if Hizashi was actually interested in him at all, he would have received a few flirty comments by now, at the very least.

Clearly he’s just not Hizashi’s type.

(A small voice in the back of his mind points out that if Hizashi wants someone to put effort into wooing him, there’s nothing preventing Shōta from becoming his type.)

---

Shōta has been staring at the display of DIY ear piercing kits for the past fifteen minutes.

He hadn’t intentionally sought them out. He’d been looking for nail clippers, actually, but then the earrings had caught his eye and, well.

“Do these even work?” Shōta mutters to himself, reaching out to pick up a kit and read through the description on the back.

Piercing kits probably wouldn’t be sold so commonly if they didn’t work or were a severe health risk or something, but Shōta still regards the package suspiciously. It boasts simple instructions and cute starter jewelry, and as Shōta studies the dark red of the glass stud included in the package, he wonders how much it would hurt to pierce his ears himself.

As soon as the thought crosses his mind, though, he freezes.

It’s not as if Hizashi would become suddenly, magically attracted to him if he pierced his ears. If anything, their friendship is too important for him to do stupid things like piercing his ears in order to become another one of Hizashi’s ‘bad boy’ disposable boyfriends, but –

But Hizashi had said he wants someone to try for him. Someone who really likes him, who likes him enough to put effort into wooing him, and if piercing his ears isn’t enough of a statement, Shōta doesn’t know what is.

Shōta buys the kit.

Thankfully, his father’s away on a business trip, so there’s no one to try to hide the kit from, and Shōta heads directly for the bathroom, the piercing kit clutched tightly in his hand. A bit of digging through the bathroom cabinets reveals disinfectant wipes, and soon he finds himself facing the mirror, all of the necessary supplies laid out on the counter in front of the sink.

As soon as he catches sight of his reflection, though, he pauses.

There are so many reasons not to do this.

It’s against the UA dress code, for one. Some students are able to get away with dying their hair because in the age of quirks, it’s hard to tell whose hair color is natural and whose isn’t, but piercings are a much easier to spot violation.

Of course, he could always hide it with his hair. He normally wears it down, and it’s long enough to conceal his ears, without being quite long enough that he’s required to tie it up during practical training sessions. So it really wouldn’t be that hard to keep the starter jewelry in for the necessary couple of months without getting caught.

His father would probably be mad too, but again, he’d have to actually notice first.

And then there’s the stigma against piercings, all that stuff about professionalism, and the small voice in the back of his head that reminds him that unnecessary accessories will only get in the way of hero work.

Really, there’s only one reason to do this, compared to a million reasons not to.

Shōta picks up a disinfectant wipe anyway.

He carefully cleans his left earlobe and then picks up a black marker to draw a dot at the spot he’s going to place the piercing. He inspects the placement in the mirror for a moment, trying to ignore the slight uptick in his heartrate, before finally reaching for the piercer.

It takes a few moments to line it up with the dot, but eventually he manages it.

Shōta hesitates for a spit-second, and then presses.

Somehow, it hurts both more than he’d expected, and less. It’s certainly more than a prick, and more than getting blood drawn, but less than a punch to the face by Tensei. It’s actually one of the less painful things he’s experienced since starting hero training, but for some reason he still feels tears prick at the corners of his eyes, his chest suddenly too tight.

He pulls away the piercer and sets it down on counter, wiping the back of his hand hastily across his eyes, before leaning in to inspect his new piercing in the mirror.

However, he freezes as he notices a small drop of blood oozing down his earlobe.

It wasn’t supposed to bleed, he’d thought. Then again, it wasn’t as if he’d done a lot of research on piercings beforehand.

A dull panic grows in his chest as he wonders if he’d done this all wrong and has now permanently scarred his ear. The stud seems to have entered his earlobe properly, and when he glances back over the piercing instructions, it seems like he’d followed them correctly.

But they also don’t say anything about bleeding, and almost before he realizes what he’s doing, he’s picked up his phone and called Hizashi.

“Shōta?”

Shōta freezes as Hizashi’s voice reverberates through his non-bleeding ear. He opens his mouth and then closes it again, and for a moment, he contemplates just hanging up, but there’s no one else he can really call for help about this.

“I pierced my ear and it’s bleeding.”

Now it’s Hizashi’s turn to go quiet.

“Wait, you, like, cut your ear on something?” Hizashi finally manages, confusion evident in his voice.

“I pierced it,” Shōta repeats, a little tightly. “I bought a DIY piercing kit.”

“You pierced your ear?” Hizashi asks, and the incredulity in his voice makes Shōta feel hot with shame. He’d known it was a stupid idea, but he’d been so desperate for Hizashi’s attention that he’d done it anyway and –

“Yes,” Shōta grits out, trying to focus on the issue at hand. “And it’s bleeding. Is this normal?”

“How would I know?” Hizashi replies, a little hysterically.

“You’re the one always going on about piercings,” Shōta huffs. He reaches out to snag a tissue with his free hand and presses it against his ear, trying to clean up the slow ooze of blood.

“Yeah, but it’s not like I have any!” Hizashi exclaims. “I know people with piercings, not anything about piercings!”

“Fine,” Shōta says, wincing slightly as he jostles the stud in his ear. “I guess I’ll just see what I can find on the internet about – ”

“I’ll be over in fifteen.”

The statement catches Shōta off guard, making him blink.

“Just sit tight, okay?” Hizashi continues, and despite the anxiety obvious in his tone, there’s something strangely soothing about it. “I’ll come over and take a look at it and we can try to research it together.”

Shōta hesitates for a moment, and then mutters, “Okay.”

“I’ll be there soon,” Hizashi replies, and then hangs up.

For a moment, Shōta just stands there, staring at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He takes a stumbling step backwards until his back hits the bathroom wall, and then slides down to sit on the floor.

“I’m such an idiot,” he mutters to himself.

---

Hizashi arrives at the door looking like he’d run the entire way.

“Bleeding?” he demands, his voice breathy and his green eyes wide.

“It’s stopped,” Shōta mutters, standing awkwardly in the doorway.

“Oh,” Hizashi replies. It’s a distracted noise, his eyes trained firmly on Shōta’s exposed earlobe and the shiny glass stud protruding from it, the surrounding skin puffy and crusted with a bit of dried blood.

Shōta turns to lead Hizashi into the apartment, more as an excuse to get his new piercing out of Hizashi’s sight than anything else. It’s ridiculous, considering the whole reason he’d done it in the first place was to get Hizashi to look at him, but now it just makes him feel desperate and obvious, like with that single look Hizashi will figure out about his massive crush.

They end up back in the bathroom, the evidence of Shōta’s piercing attempt littered out on the counter in the form of scattered disinfectant wipes and a couple of bloodied tissues.

“Sit down and let me take a look at it,” Hizashi demands, tugging Shōta over to sit down on the closed lid of the toilet. Shōta goes with him easily, trying to ignore the feeling of Hizashi’s fingers around his wrist, along with the way his heartrate reacts to having Hizashi so close to him.

For a moment, Hizashi’s quiet, studying Shōta’s newly pierced ear.

“It looks like the bleeding’s stopped,” he finally says, reconfirming what Shōta had stated earlier.

He reaches up a hand to Shōta’s ear, and Shōta can’t help the way he flinches slightly as Hizashi’s rough fingertips brush against his earlobe, still sore and tender.

“Sorry,” Hizashi mutters, but he doesn’t take his hand away from Shōta’s ear, eyes focused intently as he inspects the edges of the new hole in Shōta’s ear. “The bleeding is probably because the skin tore a bit.”

“Should I take the earring out?” Shōta asks, his body tense as Hizashi continues to poke around the site of the piercing.

“I did some googling on the train over and it looks like you should be fine,” Hizashi answers. His face is close enough to Shōta’s ear that his breath brushes over Shōta’s skin, and a shiver travels up Shōta’s spine. “You just have to be careful that it doesn’t get infected. Did you read the aftercare instructions already?”

“A bit,” Shōta mutters. By which he means he’d glanced over them briefly.

“Okay, well, you’re going to have to clean and disinfect the piercing two or three times a day, okay?” Hizashi says, and the firm steadiness of his tone eases some of the anxiety building in Shōta’s chest.

“Three times a day?” Shōta repeats with a grimace.

“You’re the one who decided to pierce your ear,” Hizashi huffs, finally pulling away from Shōta. Shōta doesn’t know if he appreciates the extra personal space, or if wants Hizashi to come closer again.

“I didn’t think it would be so much of a hassle,” Shōta grumbles, his face heating. “It’s just a little hole.”

“Shōta,” Hizashi says flatly, “you punched a hole in your body with a ¥1500 DIY kit.”

Shōta scowls at him.

“Seriously, I can’t believe you actually did this,” Hizashi continues, his expression hovering somewhere in between incredulity and concern. “Like, did someone force you to or something? You’re not being blackmailed, are you?”

“I just thought I’d try something new,” Shōta mutters, breaking eye contact with Hizashi.

“Try something new,” Hizashi repeats. “You barely even bother to shave! The last time we went out somewhere you just wore your school uniform because you didn’t want to put in the effort to pick out an outfit! I mean, when was the last time you even got a haircut?”

“I told you, I didn’t think that a piercing would be this much trouble,” Shōta replies, trying to ignore the embarrassment flooding him. When he’d decided to do this, he’d been imagining Hizashi calling him ‘cool’ or something, not lecturing him about piercing aftercare.

“It’s against the dress code!” Hizashi wails.

“Can we just drop the subject?” Shōta finally snaps, gripping the edge of the toilet until his knuckles blanch. “I’m not bleeding anymore and I don’t need to go to the hospital so it’s fine. I’ll try to remember to disinfect it.”

For a moment, Hizashi just stares at him.

“So you’re keeping it.”

Shōta frowns at Hizashi, his forehead creasing.

“I already went through all this trouble for it,” Shōta huffs. “And my hair is long enough to hide it so I should be fine at school.”

Hizashi continues to stare, his bright green eyes wide. Shōta clenches his jaw, resisting the urge to fidget, and wonders if this is the universe’s way of getting back at him for wishing that Hizashi would look at him.

“Does it look that weird?” he finally mutters, ducking his head slightly.

“What? No!” Hizashi blurts out, catching Shōta off guard. “It looks – cool. You look cool.”

“If it looks bad, I’d rather you tell me now so I can take the earring out and let it heal back up,” Shōta huffs, narrowing his eyes at Hizashi.

“You don’t have to take it out,” Hizashi insists, leaning in a little closer. Shōta has to resist the urge to lean away in response. “I mean, I was surprised because, you know, you called me out of the blue saying that you’d pierced your ear and it was super sudden and stuff but – ” He cuts himself off for a moment, face going a little pink. Then, he says, “It looks good.”

There’s a breathy edge to his tone which does uncomfortable things to Shōta’s insides, and briefly Shōta wonders if maybe this wasn’t a complete failure after all.

“Thanks,” Shōta finally manages, trying not to sound too pleased.

He’s pretty sure he fails miserably.

“But please take care of it properly and do the whole three times a day sterilization thing, because I really don’t want you to lose an ear over this,” Hizashi continues, narrowing his eyes slightly. “That would not be cool.”

“At least I wouldn’t have to hear you talk as much,” Shōta snorts, a smirk tugging at the corner of his mouth, and Hizashi lets out an indignant squawk.

“I can’t believe you’re being so mean to me after I practically sprinted over here to make sure you hadn’t died or something,” Hizashi whines, looking up at Shōta with those bright green puppy dog eyes of his. “See if I come help you the next time you try piercing yourself with a DIY kit.”

“Don’t worry,” Shōta says dryly, “There won’t be a next time.”

“Good,” Hizashi replies.

Part of Shōta wishes Hizashi sounded a little more disappointed.

---

The next morning at school, Hizashi slams his hands so hard down on Shōta’s desk that Shōta wakes from his nap and startles enough that he nearly falls out of his chair.

“Oh my god, is it for a boy?” Hizashi yells, loud enough that Shōta’s pretty sure the entire building heard him.

Shōta stares at him blankly.

“The – ” Hizashi starts, at roughly the same volume, but then seems to catch himself, hissing out a whisper. “The piercing.”

“I thought we agreed not to talk about this at school,” Shōta huffs, glancing around the classroom to see if anyone’s been eavesdropping. The last thing he wants is for news of his delinquency to hit the gossip mill.

Shōta,” Hizashi whines, like a petulant child. “It occurred to me at like midnight last night and I haven’t stopped thinking about it and I need to know.”

“Know what?” Shōta asks.

“If you pierced your ear because you’re trying to get some guy’s attention!” Hizashi answers, barreling on like a steamroller. “I mean, you barely even shave so there’s no way you just randomly decided to pierce your ear and the other day you got mad at Tensei and me for calling you a ‘good boy’ and so maybe you want to seem cooler because there’s someone you’re into and that’s why you’re always so weird about going to concerts with me.”

When Hizashi finally stops talking, Shōta finds himself frozen.

For a moment, both he and Hizashi just stare at each other.

“Holy shit,” Hizashi finally says, his voice breathy and his eyes wide behind his sunglasses. “Holy shit, you did.”

“Maybe,” Shōta mutters, breaking eye contact. He can feel his face heating, and he’s sure it’s already starting to turn a very unflattering shade of red.

“Who is it?” Hizashi demands, looming over Shōta’s desk and into his personal space. “It’s not Kanya form class B, is it, because he’s an ass who should have never been admitted to the hero course and – ”

“It’s not Kanya,” Shōta says, attempting a glare. It’s undermined by the redness of his cheeks.

“Is it someone from another school then?” Hizashi asks, his forehead creasing as he looks down at Shōta.

“I’m not talking to you about this,” Shōta huffs, sinking further down in his seat to try to put a little more space between his face and Hizashi’s.

“But – ” Hizashi starts, but he’s cut off by the bell.

“Yamada, go back to your seat,” their homeroom teacher calls from the front of the classroom. For a moment, Shōta thinks that Hizashi’s going to actually try to protest, but in the end, he just sighs and makes his way back over to the other side of the classroom. For once, Shōta’s glad that their desks aren’t next to each other.

Despite the distance between them, though, Shōta spends the whole day conscious of Hizashi, and although Hizashi usually attracts attention, today’s different. He seems anxious somehow, fidgeting in his seat, zoning out in class, and sneaking what he probably thinks are subtle looks in Shōta’s direction.

Unfortunately, they’re not the sort of looks Shōta had been hoping for, concerned and confused instead of interested or flustered.

And, by the end of the day, Hizashi looks like he’s about to combust.

“I’m going home,” Shōta announces, shoving his things into his bag once their final class is over and starting for the door, but Hizashi manages to block his path before he can escape.

Shōta,” Hizashi whines, grabbing onto Shōta’s arm and digging his heels into the floor. “You can’t just tell me you pierced your ear for a guy and then expect me to leave it alone!”

“Yes, I can,” Shōta huffs, straining against Hizashi’s grip. Unfortunately, Hizashi’s improved his strength immensely since they started training together, and stubbornness increases his grip strength exponentially.

“I’ll use my quirk and tell the whole school about it if you don’t tell me,” Hizashi threatens, his cheeks puffed up in a petulant look.

“You wouldn’t,” Shōta says, narrowing his eyes.

In response, Hizashi opens his mouth, a dangerous glint in his eyes, and yells, “Aizawa – ”

Shōta erases his quirk before he can get any farther, slapping a hand over Hizashi’s mouth for good measure.

“Do you want to get me in trouble for violating the dress code?” Shōta hisses, his face flushing from a combination of embarrassment and irritation.

Hizashi narrows his eyes in challenge.

Which, consequently, is how Shōta finds himself sitting at a table in the very back corner of a bubble tea shop, hoping that if he fills his mouth with enough tapioca pearls, Hizashi won’t be able to make him talk.

Unfortunately, persistence is Hizashi’s specialty.

“So,” Hizashi says with utmost seriousness, his milk tea sitting untouched on the table, “you pierced your ear for a guy.”

Shōta chews on his mouthful of tapioca.

“Who is it?” Hizashi demands.

Shōta chews more slowly.

“Oh, come on!” Hizashi whines, giving Shōta his best puppy dog eyes. They’re very tempting, but after two years, Shōta’s built up a bit of an immunity.

Only a little bit, though.

“I’m not telling you,” Shōta finally replies, after swallowing his tapioca.

“Why not?” Hizashi huffs.

“It’s none of your business,” Shōta says, which is technically a lie, but Hizashi doesn’t need to know that.

“But you’re my best friend,” Hizashi protests. The declaration shouldn’t hurt so much – if anything, Shōta should be happy that Hizashi considers him a friend – but it still makes Shōta clench his jaw, trying not to think about how he wouldn’t have pierced his ear in the first place if Hizashi had seen him as something other than a friend.

“You don’t tell me about your boyfriends,” Shōta snorts, taking another sip of his bubble tea in order to distract himself.

A strange look flits across Hizashi’s face, before he mutters, “It’s not like you ever ask about that sort of stuff.”

Why do you think I don’t? Shōta wants to snap, but he manages to keep it in.

The two of them fall into silence for a moment.

“So, uh,” Hizashi finally says, looking down at his bubble tea and fiddling with the cup. “He’s your boyfriend?”

Shōta hesitates, but then says, “No.”

“So you’re trying to seduce him or something?” Hizashi asks, his forehead creasing and his lips turning down in a frown.

“Please don’t use the word ‘seduce’,” Shōta snorts, giving Hizashi a flat look.

“But you are trying to get his attention,” Hizashi replies. It’s a statement, not a question, and Shōta sucks up another mouthful of tea to keep himself from saying anything stupid.

“It probably won’t work,” Shōta mutters around his straw.

“No way!” Hizashi blurts out, loud enough that Shōta startles a little. When he looks up, he makes direct eye contact with Hizashi, sunglasses slipped far enough down to reveal bright green and soft blond eyelashes, and Shōta’s heart skips a beat. “There’s no way someone wouldn’t notice you!”

Shōta stares, hand still clutched around his cup and straw squished between his teeth.

“Or – I mean – ” Hizashi stutters, his face turning red. “You’re already so cool without a piercing that there’s no way this guy wouldn’t notice you. I think.”

With that, Hizashi shoves the straw protruding out of his own bubble tea into his mouth, probably in an attempt to stop his motor-mouth, for fear of choking on tapioca.

“Thanks,” Shōta finally manages.

The two of them fall into awkward silence again.

“What’s he like?”

The question catches Shōta off guard, making him blink.

“The guy you’re into, I mean,” Hizashi rambles, his voice a little muffled around the straw in his mouth. “If you’re piercing your ears for him, does that mean he’s a delinquent? Because, like, I support you getting a boyfriend and stuff because you’re awesome and deserve a good boyfriend but you shouldn’t get mixed up in the wrong – ”

“Blond.”

Now it’s Hizashi’s turn to blink.

“Like,” Hizashi replies, “dyed blond?”

“He gets into fights at school sometimes,” Shōta continues, vindictive amusement building as he watches Hizashi’s eyes go wide. “He tried to convince me to go to a club with him last week.”

(Hizashi doesn’t need to know that the ‘fights’ are just school-sanctioned hero training. And maybe calling the indie coffee shop Hizashi had tried to drag him to a ‘bar’ is a bit of a stretch, but there was a band playing and a cover charge, so that has to count for something, right?)

“He’s always trying to get me try new things.” Like seasonal Starbucks frappuccinos and weird foreign candies. “The last drink he gave me was supposed to be good for beginners but it was too fruity for me. He said he’d give me something stronger next time.”

Hizashi gapes at him.

 “And he’s into guys with piercings,” Shōta finishes, trying to sound unperturbed. “I don’t know if just an earlobe will be enough to get him interested, though.”

At this point, Hizashi looks a little like he’s going to faint.

“I take back what I said earlier,” Hizashi finally manages. “If I ever see your boyfriend, I’m going to call the police.”

Shōta ducks his head to hide a smile.

---

Piercing his ear has actually made Hizashi pay more attention to him, although not quite in the way Shōta wants.

“Is this really necessary?” Shōta huffs as he opens the front door to find Hizashi waiting outside, rocking back and forth on his heels impatiently.

“I’m just trying to make sure your ear’s not going to get infected,” Hizashi protests, following Shōta into the apartment. “I mean, you don’t want to have to get it amputated or something, right?”

“I can take care of it myself,” Shōta says, narrowing his eyes at Hizashi.

“You’ve been washing it at least twice a day?” Hizashi asks, arching an eyebrow at Shōta.

“Yes,” Shōta answers flatly.

“Really?” Hizashi presses as he follows Shōta down the hallway. “Because you can’t even manage to shave once a day.”

“My face isn’t going to get infected if I don’t shave,” Shōta replies, pushing open the door to his bedroom. “I’m not going to jeopardize my health just because it’s a pain in the ass to deal with.”

However, Shōta pauses, as he realizes that Hizashi’s stopped following him.

“What?” Shōta asks, frowning back at Hizashi, who’s hovering awkwardly in the doorway.

“We’re not doing this in the bathroom?” Hizashi replies. He’s clutching his hands together in an uncharacteristic display of nervousness.

“My dad’s home,” Shōta answers. “It’ll look weird if both of us are in the bathroom at the same time. I brought all the supplies in here so it should be fine.”

“Oh,” Hizashi says, a little haltingly.

The two of them fall into silence for a moment.

“I should go wash my hands first,” Hizashi blurts out, before turning on his heel and heading back down the hallway.

Shōta watches him until he disappears into the bathroom and out of sight, and then sighs, plopping himself down on his bed. It’s been a little over a week since he pierced his left ear, and Hizashi’s insisted on checking on it at least every few days. Unfortunately, the incessant attention seems like it has more to do with his concerns about Shōta’s personal hygiene than any real interest in the piercing itself, and part of Shōta wonders if he should just remove the earring and be done with it.

He likes Hizashi fussing over him too much to do that, though.

Eventually he drags himself back upright and busies himself with setting things up on the nightstand. He’s already prepared a bowl of saline solution and some gauze, and he’s in the middle of contemplating just starting the cleaning process himself when Hizashi comes back into the room.

“Okay, I’m ready,” Hizashi says. It sounds more like he’s talking to himself than to Shōta. He hesitates for a moment, but then closes the door and makes his way over to Shōta.

“Let’s just get this over with,” Shōta mutters as Hizashi settles down on the bed next to him. He tries not to think about how he and Hizashi are on the bed together, with the bedroom door closed.

He doubts Hizashi’s having the same issue.

“Alright, let me see,” Hizashi says, leaning in and reaching out to take Shōta’s earlobe gently between his fingers.

Shōta doesn’t know if Hizashi is too close, or not close enough.

“It’s not bleeding and it doesn’t look like it’s infected or anything,” Hizashi continues. “So I guess you really have been cleaning it.”

Shōta tries to glare at him, but it’s a little difficult with Hizashi still holding on to his ear.

“Do you want to soak it directly or do you want me to use the gauze to clean it?” Hizashi asks, finally releasing his grip on Shōta’s ear.

“I don’t care,” Shōta replies. Briefly, he wonders if the tips of his ears have turned red enough for Hizashi to notice.

“Alright, let’s go with the gauze then,” Hizashi says. With that, he reaches over to take a piece of gauze out of the box and drops it into the bowl of saline solution. He lets it soak for a couple of moments before picking it back out and then brings it over to press against Shōta’s ear, surrounding the piercing.

It’s been long enough that it’s not sore anymore, but it still feels a little strange, and Shōta digs his fingertips into his thighs in order to keep from squirming.

“Five minutes,” Shōta mutters.

“I know,” Hizashi replies.

During the cleaning, Hizashi’s relatively quiet. He counts down the seconds under his breath as he switches out the gauze every thirty seconds, but he doesn’t try to initiate conversation, too focused on the process of taking care of Shōta’s piercing.

Even if it’s not the attention Shōta had wanted when he’d pierced his ear, it still makes him feel strangely warm inside.

“And we’re done,” Hizashi announces, breaking Shōta out of the moment.

“Thanks,” Shōta mutters.

“No problem,” Hizashi replies, as if he didn’t waste his time coming all the way here just to spend five minutes cleaning Shōta’s piercing.

For a moment, Shōta hesitates, but then says, “Does it look weird?”

Hizashi blinks at him.

“I already told you it doesn’t look infected – ” Hizashi starts, his forehead creasing.

“I don’t mean that,” Shōta huffs, giving Hizashi an annoyed look. “You were staring earlier, when I put my hair up for after school training. Does it look that weird on me?”

“What? No!” Hizashi blurts out, leaning forward in what must be an unconscious move. “You look really – ” He cuts himself off, face flushing, and Shōta stares, fascinated. “I mean, you already know I like piercings.”

“But does it look good on me?” Shōta asks, leaning in so close that he imagines he can feel Hizashi’s body heat.

“Uh,” Hizashi answers, backpedaling as he finally seems to realize how close the two of them are. “I mean. I think I already told you that you look – cool. Because you’re cool and piercings are cool so you’re extra cool. And stuff.”

“Cooler than your ex?” Shōta asks, the words spilling past his lips before he can stop them.

Hizashi stares at him with wide eyes.

“I – ” Hizashi flounders, his mouth flopping around uselessly and a look in his eyes that almost seems like panic. “That’s – ”

“Is that a yes?” Shōta presses, trying to suppress a smirk. There’s something strangely thrilling about teasing Hizashi like this, watching him for once at a loss for words.

“I mean,” Hizashi finally manages. “You don’t have a bad dye job, so I guess, uh. You’re cooler than him?”

Shōta wants so badly to lean in and kiss him right then and there.

Instead, he says, “I better not pick up the guitar, then.” He smirks. “You’d definitely fall for me.”

A circuit seems to blow in Hizashi’s brain.

Maybe he’s making more progress than he thought.

---

The subtle flirting Shōta’s been easing into his conversations with Hizashi seems to actually be working. Or at least he’s been able to make Hizashi’s face flush red a couple of times, which has to count for something.

But unfortunately, it hasn’t been quite enough to make Hizashi bite. Shōta’s never actually seen Hizashi go after a guy – most of the time he avoids going out to concerts and other events where Hizashi goes boyfriend hunting – but judging by Hizashi’s oversharing, he normally makes an effort to attract guys, through clothes or compliments or physical contact.

It occurs to Shōta that maybe it’s because he hasn’t created the right setting.

Which, consequently, is how he finds himself with two tickets to an indie rock concert, hoping that the night won’t be completely unbearable. The things he does for Hizashi.

It’s hard to say if the concert is really the worst part of the night, though. He’s known Hizashi long enough that he’s developed the ability to tune out loud noises, but the feeling of the tight jeans squeezing the life out of his legs is a little harder to ignore.

Part of him wishes he’d just worn his workout sweats instead of letting Kayama pick out an outfit for him.

“What are you wearing?

Hizashi’s exclamation only confirms this.

“Clothes,” Shōta says dryly, trying not to notice the way Hizashi’s own pants cling to his legs. “You’re late.”

“Only by like a minute,” Hizashi huffs, hurrying to catch up as Shōta starts walking at a brisk pace. “And maybe I would have been more careful about being on time if you actually told me where we’re going.”

“You’ll know when we get there,” Shōta replies. He tries to shove his hands in his jeans pockets, but they don’t fit very well.

“I would ask if you’re taking me to some secluded place to murder me, but unfortunately I know you wouldn’t dress this nicely for my murder,” Hizashi says, finally falling into step beside Shōta.

“Maybe it’s to make myself less recognizable,” Shōta counters, trying to suppress the smile threatening to spread over his lips.

“Well, you’re certainly doing a good job of that,” Hizashi mutters under his breath, more to himself than to Shōta. Shōta feels his heartrate increase slightly, watching out of the corner of his eye as Hizashi gives him a slow once-over, from his ‘accidentally stylish’ boots (Kayama’s words) to the bright red stud in his ear, on display for once, with his hair pulled back into a stubby ponytail.

Hizashi pesters him about where they’re going for the entire walk to the station, along with the train ride afterwards. The closer they get to the concert venue, the more agitated Hizashi becomes, sneaking suspicious looks at the surrounding buildings and asking, “Are you sure we’re going the right way?”

In fact, it’s not until Shōta pulls out the tickets that Hizashi finally shuts up.

“I don’t really know the band,” Shōta admits, when it becomes clear that Hizashi’s only going to continue staring.

“We’re going to a concert,” Hizashi says, as if he’s only just now realizing that they’re standing in line in front of a theater.

“No, we’re at a cat cafe,” Shōta replies with dry sarcasm.

“We’re at a concert?” Hizashi repeats, looking at Shōta like he’d suddenly turned into an alien.

“I thought you were supposed to know about concerts,” Shōta huffs, starting to feel a little self-conscious. He’d thought that maybe Hizashi would start catching on by now, but maybe he’s even farther off Hizashi’s ‘potential date’ radar than he’d thought. “You go to them all the time. That’s the whole reason I brought you along.”

“Oh,” Hizashi says. His tone sounds strangely hollow, and Shōta frowns.

“If you don’t want to – ” he starts.

“No! No, it’s fine,” Hizashi insists. He smiles, but Shōta knows him well enough to tell that it’s forced.

“Hizashi – ” Shōta tries.

“C’mon, the line’s moving forward,” Hizashi interrupts, pressing at Shōta’s shoulder. Part of Shōta still wants to protest, to figure out why Hizashi is acting so weird, but –

But maybe this is actually a good thing.

Maybe the reason Hizashi’s freaking out is because he is starting to see their relationship in a different light and isn’t sure if he wants to or not. Maybe Shōta just needs to give him a little bit more of a push for him to accept it.

Eventually they get to the front of the line and hand over their tickets. The theater employee hands them drink tokens and then stamps their hands with the air of someone who knows they’re going to get drunk anyway, before waving them into the venue, as if they’re supposed to know what to do from there.

All of this is unknown territory for Shōta and he tries to ignore how much he’d really like to just go home.

“Should we, uh, get something to drink?” Hizashi finally says, breaking the awkward silence.

“I’m not breaking any laws tonight,” Shōta replies, giving Hizashi a flat look.

“I didn’t mean it like that!” Hizashi sputters, his cheeks going a little pink. “They have non-alcoholic drinks too!”

“Oh,” Shōta says, feeling like an idiot.

“I’ll just go get us some water or something,” Hizashi sighs, before all but fleeing from the scene. Shōta watches him go, and for a moment, he considers following, but in the end he stays put.

Instead, he leans up against a wall and hopes that he manages to look aloof instead of as awkward as he feels.

He occupies himself with people watching, scanning the crowd of concert-goers. The band’s apparently not popular enough to completely pack the small theater, but there are a decent number of people, and briefly, Shōta wonders who Hizashi would try to flirt with if he’d come here on his own.

Compared to the college-age guy with the nose ring and the petite woman with the neck tattoo, Shōta’s single stud earring is pretty plain. But, well, at this point it’ll have to do.

“Which one is it?”

The familiar sound of Hizashi’s voice breaks Shōta from his thoughts, and he glances over to find Hizashi holding two plastic cups.

“Which one is what?” Shōta replies, accepting one of the cups from Hizashi. A tentative sip reveals the contents to be coca cola.

“Your new boyfriend,” Hizashi says, leaning against the wall next to Shōta. “That’s why we’re here, right?”

The statement makes Shōta blink, caught off guard.

He hesitates for a moment, and then says, “He’s not my boyfriend yet.”

“Well, you’re all dressed up and looking cool with your new earring and all, so I’m sure you’ll be able to snag him easy,” Hizashi replies. He tries to grin, and Shōta’s never seen him fail at a smile so badly. “Although I also feel obligated as your friend to say that I don’t think you should be going out with some delinquent who gets into fights and encourages you to drink.”

“And I’m sure none of your exes have ever gotten into a fight or made you drink with them,” Shōta drawls, taking a sip of his coke.

“That’s – ” Hizashi starts to protest, but he cuts himself off when Shōta shoots him an unimpressed look. “You deserve someone nice.”

“And you don’t?” Shōta asks, frowning slightly.

“That’s not what I meant,” Hizashi sighs.

For a moment, Shōta’s quiet, but then he says, “He’s not a delinquent. And he wouldn’t make me do anything I truly didn’t want to do.”

Hizashi doesn’t reply, just stares down into his soda.

“He only gets into fights for good reasons,” Shōta continues, before he even realizes what he’s doing. “And sometimes he tries to act wild but he actually studies more than me. He just doesn’t want anyone to know how hard he works for it. His hair isn’t even dyed, it’s naturally – ”

“I can’t do this.”

The words are soft, muttered, and crack a little at the end.

And, when Shōta looks back over at Hizashi, he finds Hizashi scrubbing tears from his eyes.

“Hizashi – ” Shōta starts.

“Fuck, sorry,” Hizashi says, his voice wet. “I just – I don’t – I know this is important to you, but I just can’t be your wingman, when I – ”

Before he can finish that thought, though, Shōta leans in and presses their mouths together.

It’s wet, awkwardly so, more from the tears still clinging to Hizashi’s cheeks than any tongue action, and Hizashi lets out another little sob before he finally seems to realize what’s happening and goes rigid against Shōta. For a moment, Shōta thinks Hizashi’s going to push him away, but Hizashi seems too dazed and confused to do much of anything, so Shōta decides to take the lead, awkwardly moving his mouth against Hizashi’s.

Unlike Hizashi, he’s never actually done this before, and he’s pretty sure he’s doing it wrong, but part of him is scared that if he pulls away now, he’ll never get another chance at it – so he takes Hizashi’s lower lip between his own and sucks clumsily.

That finally seems to make Hizashi get with the program, and Shōta’s heart hammers in his chest as he feels Hizashi reach out, fingers tangling in the fabric of his tightly fitted t-shirt.

Hizashi kisses back tentatively at first, but it’s not long before he takes the lead, kissing Shōta open-mouthed and wet in a much more satisfying way than before. A soft moan involuntarily escapes Shōta’s throat, and his face flushes hot, but Hizashi seems emboldened by it, dragging Shōta in closer and kissing him hard enough that Shōta’s almost worried his lips are going to be bruised.

Somewhere on stage, a mic screeches, and the two of them break apart abruptly.

“What about the guy you like?” Hizashi pants, staring at Shōta dazedly.

“Who do you think it is?” Shōta huffs, giving Hizashi an indignant look.

Hizashi blinks at him blankly, before realization finally seems to dawn, and he blurts out, “Wait me?

“I don’t know why I like you,” Shōta mutters. He’s glad that the dim theater lighting probably makes it difficult to see how red his face has flushed.

“But – why didn’t you – ” Hizashi flounders. “I’ve liked you for forever!

Now it’s Shōta’s turn to be caught off guard.

“The only reason I dated so many guys was to try to get my mind off of you,” Hizashi groans, burying his face in his hands. “And I didn’t want you to notice my huge pathetic crush and get all awkward around me.”

“You’re an idiot,” Shōta says, for lack of any better way to sum up the situation.

“You’re the one who pierced your ear just to get my attention,” Hizashi huffs, glaring at Shōta from between his fingers. “When I was already into you.”

“It worked,” Shōta mutters.

“I,” Hizashi says haltingly, “guess it did.”

For a moment, the two of them fall into silence.

Then, Shōta says, “Do you think I should do the other ear too?”

Hizashi turns bright red and Shōta smirks.

---

(“You know,” Tensei says, “when I was trying to get you guys to date, I thought that you’d set Hizashi on the straight and narrow.” He pokes at Shōta’s earring. “Not become a delinquent.”

“Hey!” Hizashi sputters.

“He’s a bad influence,” Shōta agrees.)