His mouth tastes like blood. Disgusting, the way the copper saltiness of it seems to seep up from the back of his throat and ooze into his mouth, coating every tooth in its way. He should be used to it, really, but it seems to him like trying to get used to a gun held to your head, like trying to ignore your life’s clock ticking behind you.
Some days he thinks he’s gotten the hang of it. Some days he can hold his better form for more than three hours, can go longer, harder, stronger. Then other days, more often days, he finds himself exhaling out his strength like the steam that rises up off of his spent body.
Toshinori exhales slowly and stares at his hands. The staff room coffee maker drips obnoxiously behind him and his hands curl into fists. They tremble and he makes a conscious effort to relax them.
If he had arrived a minute later. . . if he had left the morning’s incidents for the other heroes to handle. . .
He huffs a bitter laugh at himself. A month after the attack and he’s still here, wringing his hands over it like some fretful old lady. Aizawa is fine, no worse for the wear, so why. . . ?
His mind flashes back to how fragile he had looked, how light he had felt when he had picked him up, and his mouth wells up red again.
He spits grimly into the sink behind him and slouches out of the room, leaving the brewed coffee behind him.
It is both a blessing and a curse that the kids at UA don’t recognize him in his usual form. Aizawa calls it his ‘hobo form’ because he’s a dick and having the shit beaten out of him has loosened his tongue, but it’s a valid description.
Despite the odd looks he gets traversing the clean, polished school halls, there are no overeager fans or paparazzi to avoid. The only one, besides the teachers, who recognizes him is Midoriya, who gives him a quick, furtive smile whenever their paths cross.
He makes his way to Aizawa’s room, slowly fighting against the flood of students heading to the cafeteria. By the time he gets there, Aizawa is already halfway through zipping himself into his sleeping bag.
Despite himself, Toshinori lets out a short bark of laughter. “Couldn’t even make it to the teachers’ lounge?” he asks.
Aizawa shrugs, eyeing him from behind his mop of hair. “It’s too loud in there,” he drawls. “At least I get some quiet here while the students are at lunch.”
Toshinori nods. “Fair enough,” he concedes.
He sits down next to Aizawa on the floor, hissing a bit as his knees pop. Aizawa gives him a slanted, curious look, but shifts to the side to accommodate him. Once settled, Toshinori lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding and closes his eyes.
“What are you doing here?” Aizawa asks, very softly. It’s not phrased like a challenge–no, Toshinori knows that tone of voice well enough. No, Aizawa sounds quiet, concerned, almost. But Toshinori knows him too well for that.
Even behind his closed eyes, he can still see the slashing scar under his right eye, the bloodshot soreness in his eyes.
“I just. . . I don’t know.” He squinches his eyes shut harder, still feeling the deadweight of him in his arms. “I guess I wanted some quiet too.”
There is silence for a long, long moment. Stupidly, he is afraid to open his eyes.
Then, a rustling of clothing and the feeling of a warm shoulder pressed up against his. He waits, heart beating foolishly, irrationally, in his throat, until he hears soft, regular breathing beside him. He opens his eyes.
The relaxed, warm weight of Aizawa just barely leaning on his shoulder as he sleeps is far more welcome than the memories clouding his head.
Toshinori closes his eyes again and allows himself to sleep.
Class 1-A of UA has gone through, quite frankly, some shit. They have struggled through the hell that was UA admissions together, fought off a full-on villain attack together, and perhaps most admirably, conquered the entire trigonometry unit in a week together. That being said, when Class 1-A returns from lunch to see their prickly, apathetic, stubborn grouch of a teacher quite happily sleeping on the shoulder of what looked like some random guy off the streets, they react as a class.
“What the hell?” Kirishima whisper-yells. “Is Mr. Aizawa okay? He’s never like this!”
“Who even is that?” demands Iida, just as quietly. “I don’t even recognize him. How’d he get in?”
“Maybe,” gasps Ashido dramatically, “he’s his secret lover!”
The class falls silent and stares at her.
She stares back, unabashed. “What?” she defends herself. “It’s possible!”
Midoriya, curiously, is silent.
The class files in slowly, careful not to wake the sleeping adults. Once they return to their seats, however, the chatter starts again, gossip and theories beginning at quiet whispers and slowly growing to the dull roar common in classrooms worldwide.
The unnervingly gaunt man is the first to wake, twitching a little then snapping instantly awake as he takes in the class in front of him. His eyes grow wide in what almost looks like panic, and he nudges their teacher awake with an elbow.
Mr. Aizawa cracks open an eye, takes in the raucous class before him, and promptly closes them again. He slouches deeper in the sleeping bag and lets out a groan loud enough to make even Bakugou notice.
“I spend my nights grading papers and writing lesson plans, only to be thanked by obnoxiously loud students?” he asks, voice muffled by the sleeping bag. Somehow, he manages to convey the utter disgust of rolled eyes while keeping his eyes closed. “Quiet down.”
The noise level in the classroom decreases exponentially and he nods. As he gets to his feet, Yaoyorozu and Jirou share a raised-eyebrow look. Midoriya flushes and pretends to write busily in his notebook.
“I will not tolerate rank gossip in my classroom,” Mr. Aizawa says icily. The glare he casts over the class is frigid even without his Quirk behind it. “Please keep your petty conversations to outside of this room.”
As the class mutters their apologies and grudgingly cracks open their textbooks, they are too busy to notice the yellow-haired stranger get up and quietly slip outside of the classroom.
“Yamada?” Shouta stares very hard into the beer in front of him.
“Yeah?” His friend looks over, his hair somehow still retaining its stiff upright form even in the close atmosphere of the bar.
“Tell me this is all just a silly fixation.” He takes a long pull of the beer.
“What?” Yamada gives him a Look, but they’ve been friends since high school– there’s very little Shouta can say to shock him. He sips his drink. “A fixation? You’re not going crazy in your old age, are you?”
“I’m thirty, you dick. Just tell me.”
Yamada sighs and lightly bumps his shoulder. “All right, don’t tell me. Whatever this is, it’s just a silly fixation and you shouldn’t worry about it.”
Shouta finishes his beer and slowly, carefully, lowers his head until it rests on the cool, slightly sticky surface of the bar. Then he begins to bang his head quietly and repetitively on the wood.
“Whoa, whoa, whoa.” Yamada carefully sets down his drink and grabs his shoulder, pulling him away. “That seems a little excessive, even for you. What’s wrong?”
Shouta glares at him through bloodshot eyes. Despite his loud-mouthed Quirk, Present Mic knows when to keep his mouth shut and frankly, Shouta will go out of his mind if he doesn’t get this off his chest.
He stretches his arms out in front of him and leans back, wishing he hadn’t finished his drink so quickly. “Yamada, I am thirty years old and I am acting like a lovesick fool,” he says very, very quietly. If the ground were to swallow him up right now, he’d be exceedingly grateful.
Yamada quirks an eyebrow so high it’s almost swallowed by his hair. “Aizawa,” he says very slowly, as if he’s trying to talk down a volatile villain. “Do you have a crush on Midnight?”
Shouta looks at him. “Yamada, you have known me for twenty years,” he drawls. “Nothing, and I mean nothing,” he says, and oh no, he is definitely more drunk than he thought, “I do is straight.”
Yamada grins lopsidedly. “Right,” he says, taking another sip of his drink. “My bad.”
They sit in silence for a bit, Yamada slowly getting more and more curious and Shouta slowly getting more and more antsy. “So?” Yamada finally asks. “What’s going on?”
The bar had slowly emptied around them and Shouta finally moves, throwing a few crumpled bills on the bar and standing up. “Come on,” he says shortly. “I want to be outside and moving around if I’m going to talk about–” he shudders– “emotions.”
Yamada follows him out of the smoky bar without a word and god, he is so lucky to have someone like him to deal with his shit. He should really be nicer to him. He should really be nicer in general.
God, he’s so tired. Why does he do this?
The cool night air feels good on his skin. Summer break is coming, and the teachers at UA are about as strung-out as the students. Only a few more weeks, he tells himself, then mentally winces at the stack of essays he has waiting at home to be graded.
Yamada slides up next to him, walking with a loose, easy stride far different from his slouched pace. “Talk to me, Aizawa,” he says. “I haven’t seen you like this for a while.”
Shouta shoves his hands in his pockets and begins walking aggressively. “I think,” he grits out, “I have a–“ He stops himself. He can't say it. This is so humiliating. He tries again anyways. “A cr–”
“Take your time,” says Yamada.
“I have a cr–” Infuriated, Shouta takes a deep breath and says, exasperated, “I have a crush!”
Yamada stops dead in the street, a delighted grin splitting his face, and Shouta thinks that finally, he's managed to shock him.