It started innocently enough when they were watching television after dinner one night. The show was documenting something called "extreme couponers." They were people would collect and strategically use dozens of coupons during sales to stockpile large collections of necessities. People were very dedicated to the deal.
"Woah. I didn't know that was a thing," Saitama commented, leaning forward with interest.
Genos should have known then. He should have taken note of the unusual sparkle in Saitama's eyes, but he had been performing some small bit of maintenance on his arm and that spark of interest passed unnoticed. His moment of inattention would come back to haunt him.
Genos was out fighting a monster the first time it happened. He came home in one piece, feeling quite excited about defeating a monster without losing a limb. He walked into their shared apartment and stopped short. There were boxes everywhere.
"Sensei?" Genos called confused. Was Saitama moving out?!
Saitama's head popped up from behind a box. "Oh, Genos. Welcome home! Look what I got." He spread his arms to indicate all of the boxes.
"What is it?" Genos asked, carefully walking forward so he wouldn't disturb any of the boxes.
"Two hundred boxes of curry mix, three hundred tubes of toothpaste, two cases of paper towels, a case of canned smelt, and fifty bottles of shampoo."
The words "But you don't even have hair!" were at the tip of Genos' tongue, but he wisely did not let them escape. Sensei would pout for at least a day.
"Guess how much it all cost?" Saitama asked cheerfully.
Genos did the mental calculations. "Approximately $1,830."
"No! It was only $30.52!" Saitama beamed.
Genos blinked. "But...but how?"
"Remember that show? The one with the coupons? I tried that."
Genos cast back and dimly remembered the extreme couponing program. "Ah. But...what are we going to do with it all? Our apartment is not that big."
"Hmmm, well, I thought we could share some with our friends. I'm sure Mumen and King would like some curry and smelt."
Genos nodded and fervently hoped so. They managed to give away about half of the haul, but boxes of curry would fall out of every cabinet in the apartment for months to come. After all, one could only eat so much curry a week.
Unfortunately, it didn't stop there. Genos would come home to find eight hundred packages of ramen, seventy boxes of bandages, or thirty gallons of motor oil.
"Sensei, I can't use this brand of oil," Genos said with an exasperated sigh.
Saitama shrugged. "Give it to the Doctor. It only cost me $8," he said, almost flippantly.
It was such a strange turn for the man who was so frequently frugal before. Now, he'd buy all sorts of things simply because he was getting them for a song.
"Sensei! Neither of us has a menstrual cycle. I don't understand why we need one hundred boxes of tampons!"
"Well, I was going to get pads, but I remembered someone saying that tampons were good to use on bullet wounds," Saitama explained.
"Bullets cannot harm you," Genos reminded him.
Saitama shrugged. "Maybe Fubuki can use them."
"I think she will be decidedly unimpressed at the reminder of her womanhood. Besides, I feel that it is some sort of unspoken rule that menstrual products be delivered alongside chocolate," Genos said.
"Oh, don't worry," Saitama said, waving his hand dismissively. "I have three cases of that. You like Meltykiss right?"
The excess of stuff was becoming a problem. Genos began to discreetly move things into the vacant apartment next door. Some of the things, they used regularly, but others were untouched. There was only so much stuff they could give to their friends. The apartment next door was beginning to look like the stockroom of a grocery store. Genos tried his best to keep everything neatly organized, but the things Saitama brought home were quite random.
"I was unaware that Borsch flavored potato chips existed," Genos said, staring into the case of potato chips Saitama had brought home. They were in shiny foil bags with cute little smiling beets on the package.
"I didn't know that either," Saitama agreed. “But here they are.”
"Was it necessary to buy thirty bags of them?" Genos asked.
Saitama shrugged. "They were on sale and I had coupons."
"Sensei, we are running out of room for all of these things. I don't mind the occasional splurge on the essentials, but what are we going to do with 30 bags of Borsch flavored potato chips?"
“Eat them,” Saitama said.
Genos sighed. “Have you even tried them? They sound awful.”
Saitama picked up a bag and opened them. The smell that wafted up from the bag was a mix of dill and beef with a hint of beet. Saitama fished out a disturbingly red colored chip and popped it in his mouth. He chewed it contemplatively then nodded. “It’s good.”
“Really?” Genos asked, disbelieving. Saitama offered him the open bag and Genos hesitantly took a chip. He popped it in his mouth and let his receptors break down the flavor. Actually, it wasn’t that bad. Saitama would probably have them polished off in a month, if not sooner. But still, there were so many other things that could not be taken care of so quickly. Such as the shampoo collection that had gone from fifty bottles to three hundred. He wasn’t sure exactly why Saitama was buying something that he has no use for, but to top it off, things like conditioner, hair spray, and brushes had made their way into the collection. Genos needed a special shampoo for his synthetic hair, so the collection of product was useless to him. He used a single brush to run through his hair now and then, but he really didn’t have a use for seventy-eight of them!
“Still, while I think you will likely eat all of these chips, may I remind you that we have filled the adjacent apartment with hundreds of items that we really can’t use. We’re going to have to do something about them.”
Saitama continued to munch on his chips. Genos frowned and opened his mouth to make a stronger hint, but he was interrupted by their daily delivery of fan mail. He turned to retrieve the mail.
When he came back, Saitama tilted his head. “Maybe I could send care packages to my fans,” he said.
Genos liked the idea, but the sad fact was that Saitama received very few genuine fan letters. He received more hate mail than anything, so sending care packages to actual fans would not take care of much of the collection. He didn’t say any of that though. “That would be very nice Sensei,” is what he did say.
Saitama smiled. “Yeah, it would be.”
And so, Saitama began selecting collections of things to send to his fans. Surprisingly, he has a lot of housewife fans. They liked him because they saw him in the markets quite often. They liked to trade stories of braving sales with him and thanking him for the times he saved them from random grocery store monsters. So of course, care packages from Saitama with household items and the occasional coupon were a hit. But once people realized that Saitama was giving things away, fan mail to “Caped Baldy” began to increase, causing his popularity to rise quite alarmingly.
Suddenly, instead of just housewives trading war stories and tips with Saitama, there was a whole new demographic, moochers out to score something for nothing. But mixed in amongst the moochers and housewives, there was something a bit more dangerous. Single women. Single women who realized that even without hair, Saitama was hot. Women that realized under his ridiculous outfit, Saitama was ripped. Women who really appreciated getting a care package with tampons and chocolate and wrote as much in their letters.
“Caped Baldy, you treat me better than all my previous boyfriends combined and we haven’t even met. Would you like to get dinner with me sometime? It can be a small intimate affair. ;)”
Genos burned those letters. He didn’t need Saitama sending them anything else and encouraging their antics. But as more such letters began to pile up, Genos decided that something else had to be done.
Saitama looked up from his manga, his lips were stained red from the borscht flavored potato chips he’d been snacking on. Genos tried not to focus on that. “Hmm?” Saitama looked at him curiously.
"I know that the care packages to your fans have been very popular, but at the rate things are going out, we still have a large surplus of things we just can’t use. I was thinking that you might like to donate some things?” There were always charities looking for donations after a monster left a swath of damage and devastation behind.
“Oh, that’s a good idea. Care packages have gotten troublesome,” he admitted. “It was fun when I was doing a few a weeks, but now there are dozens a day. And shipping is more expensive than what I paid for most of these things!”
Genos nodded sympathetically. “I think you could do the occasional care package for your loyal fans, but donations to disaster relief might be a better way to go. Plus, I think such donations are very heroic.”
Saitama tilted his head. “Yeah, they are kind of heroic aren’t they?”
“I will research the best charities to donate our items to. Perhaps we can start clearing things out this weekend?”
Saitama nodded. “That sounds good. Thanks, Genos.”
Genos smiled. “It’s my pleasure Sensei.”
Over the weekend, they were able to cut down the large hoard of stuff to only a small stockpile of the basic necessities that fit in their apartment. The charities were overjoyed to receive the donations. Genos had quietly stayed in the background, letting Saitama soak up the positive attention for once. When they got home later that night, Genos looked around their much less cluttered apartment with approval.
Saitama collapsed at the table and sighed. While he had near boundless energy when it came to dealing with monsters, dealing with people and social situations took it out of him.
“Would you like some tea, Sensei?” Genos asked.
Saitama turned his head to glance at him. “Yes please.”
Genos nodded and quickly made some nice hot tea. He brought it over to Saitama, who sat up and took a slow sip.
“Thanks, Genos.” He smiled, still clearly tired, but content.
Genos smiled back. “You’re welcome Sensei.” He settled down across from Saitama and took a sip of his own tea. He didn’t need to drink it, but having tea with his sensei felt like bonding.
Saitama looked around their apartment, then back at Genos. “I think I’m done,” he said.
Genos blinked. “Done with what Sensei?”
Saitama waves his hand a bit. “The crazy couponing. It’s not that much fun anymore. And stores have started making new policies against it. So I’ll just go back to how we shopped before.”
Genos beamed. “That sounds wonderful.”
Saitama gave him a sheepish look. “Sorry I made you have to deal with all of that stuff.”
Genos shrugged. “Sensei was just trying out a new hobby. You know I support whatever you do.”
Saitama smiled at him again. “Thanks. You’re the best.”
Genos felt his internal temperature rise. His ventilation system kicked in and released a small hiss of steam. “Thank you, sensei.”
Saitama nodded. “But without all that coupon clipping and sale researching, I’m going to have lots of time on my hands again. I guess I’ll need to find a new hobby to fill that space.”
“Did you have something in mind Sensei?” Genos asked, before taking another sip of tea.
Saitama shook his head. “I guess I can just read more manga.”
Genos smiled. “That sounds good. You do enjoy your manga. And there are many titles out there.”
“Yeah.” Saitama nodded and sipped his tea.
Genos thought the situation was settled, but two days later, he walked into the apartment to find Saitama carefully applying tiny stamps to a small stamp book. “What are you doing Sensei?”
Saitama looked up and smiled. “Oh, this is a new thing my fans told me about. When you shop at certain stores, you get these stamps for every item you buy and you can save up the stamps to get prizes. There’s a whole catalogue of stuff you can get. I’m already halfway to a new set of pans.”
This time, Genos recognized the gleam in Saitama’s eyes and despaired. “That’s great Sensei,” he said faintly, wondering if he should start re-organizing the cabinets now for the inevitable flood.
“You should check the catalogue to see if there’s anything you think we need. I think a new set of pans and some dishes would be good,” Saitama said.
“Only pans and dishes?” Genos asked cautiously.
“Well, yeah. We pretty much have everything we need. And we already saw what happens when you get too much stuff right?”
Genos beamed as he walked to the table and sat down across from Saitama. “Right Sensei,” he chirped.
“Although,” Saitama said, before trailing off.
Genos tilted his head. “Although?” he prompted.
“This fighter jet is only seven million points.” Saitama pushed the catalogue over to Genos and tapped on the picture of the plane. “It could be handy since I can’t fly.”
“Sensei, no,” Genos said, eyes widening.
Saitama laughed and Genos huffed. He snatched up the catalogue and attempted to swat Saitama over the head with it. Saitama was instantly across the room.
“Stay still so I can punish you,” Genos grumbled, threatening Saitama with the catalogue.
“I’d let you use it too,” Saitama said, grinning mischievously. “I bet we could put a lot of groceries in a jet.”
“Sensei is the worst!” Genos tossed the catalogue at the man.
Saitama caught it. “Careful, I still need the serial number for the pans.”
Genos rolled his eyes. “If you buy one more bottle of shampoo, I might have to take drastic measures.”
Saitama had the grace to blush a little as he sat down at the table again. “No more shampoo, I promise.”
“Ok, then tell me more about the stamp program so I can participate with you.”
Saitama grinned as he set the catalogue back on the table and pushed the stamp book towards Genos. “For every $5 spent at F-Mart and Super C, you get a stamp. And sometimes, they’ll have a bonus buy, where you get a certain item and it will double your stamps up to a certain amount. Today’s bonus buy was shrimp. I bought some so we could have tempura for dinner.”
Genos nodded attentively. This, he could deal with. And maybe, if they were doing it together, he could ward off any more bouts of extreme shopping. After all, they still had at least 50 boxes of curry squirreled away in the apartment. He would have given it away, but Sensei really did like curry, and he liked to make Sensei happy.