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Tea at Midnight

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It’s strange, when they first move into the dorms, seeing all of his classmates in casual clothing doing domestic things. It’s… homey in a way that his life with Endeavor is not. He expects himself to feel awkward, but he can’t bring himself to feel anything other than relieved.

It’s… fun. He gets roped into group activities like movie nights, study sessions, and the occasional class outing. His favorite moments are those he shares with his individual classmates, though. A sedate morning with Iida, both sipping their respective hot drinks in companionable silence. Listening to Jirou teach Yaoyorozu how to cook and getting dragged into it to taste test some egg and pancake creation. He slips into a mild routine, interacting with the people around him and edging his way closer to the family feeling that class 1-A gives him.

He’s settling in fairly well, he thinks, save for one glaring exception.

Shouto has always been restless at night, and he quickly realizes that he’s not the only one when he goes to the kitchen to make himself a cup of tea and finds someone already there.

Sitting in the dark, legs pulled up to his chest at the kitchen table is Midoriya. But what jars him the most about the scene before him is the utter vulnerability on his face. He looks tired, and the shadows under his eyes leaves the impression of a night haunted by dreams. And then there’s the huge swath of clothing pulled loosely around the boy, a warm gray hoodie, with the hood pulled up around his face and slipping forward over his forehead.

The image he makes, sitting curled the way he is, makes something in his stomach lurch. Maybe that’s why he calls out to him instead of backing slowly from the room before he can notice.

“Midoriya.”

His head tilts under the hood, and he has to push it back to see clearly when he says “Oh, Todoroki-kun. I didn’t see you come in. You can’t sleep either?”

Shouto hums in agreement and goes through the motions of making his tea in relative silence. He could probably boil water in a cup just sticking his finger into it, but going through the familiar steps soothes him. Once he has his own steaming cup, he sits at the table adjacent to Midoriya. He expects companionable silence, like Iida in the mornings, but he should know better. This is Midoriya after all, so he strikes up a meandering conversation while Shouto tries to make the appropriate noises in the right places to show he’s listening.

He’s surprised to find that this is soothing too. Different from Iida, and a far cry from the nights he’s spent down here sipping his tea in solitary silence. It’s… nice, actually. The lights are dim and cast cool shadows across the tiled floor. Midoriya talks softly and expects nothing from his end, and before he knows it he’s leaning forward in his seat with his arm propping his head up.

“Todoroki-kun?”

“Mm?”

“You’re smiling,” Midoriya says shyly.

He can’t really find the energy to care, but shrugs all the same, mouth twitching up a bit more. Midoriya settles deeper inside his cloth cocoon and Shouto does his best not to stare at the way the loose neck of the hoodie slips down to his collarbone. Shouto knows from training together, fighting next to each other, that Midoriya is not fragile, but the hoodie engulfing him makes him look so small that he can’t help but think that the freckled skin of his neck looks vulnerable.

He remembers then how the boy looked when he first came in, and takes stock for a moment. Midoriya is still curled into his chair, but his posture is more relaxed, his face still drawn with the tightness of a late night but no longer haunted looking. The color seems to be returning to his cheeks and he fidgets with the soft sleeves of his hoodie.

“Midoriya. Why did you come down here tonight?”

Green eyes snap up to meet his, then quickly away. “Ahaa. I uhm. I couldn’t sleep. Sorry. Am I bothering you?” He twists his hands nervously.

“No,” Shouto responds simply. He’s not sure why he adds on “I like listening to you talk.”

Midoriya's face gradually pinkens and Shouto watches with interest as he brings his hands up to his face. His hands… He can see the crooked and scarred fingers of his right hand peeking out barely from under the over long sleeves as he drags the material in a sweet susurrus over his freckled cheeks.

Cute, he thinks, unbidden, and then nearly bites his tongue off when his chin slips off his hand. What?

After that, he finds that he can’t sleep far more often. It becomes part of his routine, Midoriya becomes part of his routine, Midoriya in his soft hoodie, with his soft voice. They meet in the kitchen, sip their tea, and Shouto listens to him talk about everything and nothing until they can’t keep their eyes open any longer. It’s the only part of his routine that doesn’t sit comfortably in his mind; he gets strangely jittery thinking about seeing Midoriya in the dim light of the kitchen, watching him through the fine steam of their mugs as he waves his hands and his sleeves flop over, bunch at his elbows, rub at his eyes.

It’s not every night, of course. They do need some sleep, and there’s no real guarantee that Midoriya will be there on any given night. Until one night, sitting together, Midoriya suggests exchanging numbers.

“Midoriya… I already have your number. You texted me in Hosu.” Shouto does his best to keep any expression from his face as Midoriya scrambles.

“I know! I mean, I remember. I just, I meant that… we could text? When you can’t sleep. I know that there are nights I’m not up and you are and, well. If you ever want company, you can- I mean, if you want!”

Shouto is… having heart palpitations. Something in his chest squeezes tight. If I have a heart attack, Midoriya will probably keep my head from hitting the tile and cracking open, he thinks as he ignores his erratic heart beat.

“Are you sure? I don’t want to keep you awake,” he keeps his voice as flat as he can so as not to let on to the stuttering in his chest.

“It’s fine! I don’t mind, really, and I sleep better after this, anyway. And maybe,” his voice is quiet in the darkness, like a confession. “Maybe I could text you, too? If I can’t sleep?”

Shouto bites the inside of his cheek, hard.

“I’d like that.”

The moment passes and they both seem to lapse back into silence until-

“Thank you, by the way,” Midoriya is struggling to meet his eyes in the dim lighting, fidgeting under his gaze. When Shouto’s brows furrow, he continues. “You came to help me in Hosu. I don’t think I ever really said thank you for that. You… I really appreciate that you came. I don’t like to think about what could have happened, had you not shown up when you did. I was… really scared,” he huffs out a breath and pushes a hand through his green curls. “But then you were there, and it was just a little bit easier to breathe.”

“I was scared too,” Shouto admits in hushed tones before he decides to. “When I can’t sleep, sometimes…. It’s because I can’t stop imagining that I got there too late.” And he’s never said it aloud before, but it’s true, and the words feel raw in his throat. He dreams about being too late, about finding Iida with a sword in his chest, about Midoriya, green curls matted with blood-

He does his best to shove those thoughts away. He can’t imagine living in the dorms and missing Iida’s boisterous voice as he tells the class to settle down, or Midoriya’s muttering when they’re paired together in exercises.

Midoriya is looking at him, eyes wide and mouth parted. They feel closer after that. Their midnight meetings seem more private, and sometimes when Shouto receives a text it’s nothing more than a steaming mug emoji. Most of the time when they meet late at night it’s the same meaningless chatter that eases them, but now, once in a blue moon, they listen to each other talk about what keeps them up.

Closer, indeed.

Shared nightmares do that.

Only now, Shouto notices those are lessening, replaced instead with blurry images of green hair and a soft gray hoodie. He pretends not to notice that his heart palpitations seem directly related to seeing his friend in said hoodie.

 


 

It’s purely coincidental that Kirishima notices Shouto’s feelings.

“Dude, you like him.”

Shouto is not an idiot, and catches the upward inflection with an irritated look at Kirishima. It doesn’t stop him trying to deny it though.

Kirishima is vibrant and bull headed and so well intentioned that it’s almost painful. It reminds him uncomfortably of Midoriya, but where Kirishima is boisterous laughter and rough housing, the other boy is capable of a softer, quieter kindness that appeals to him. But the similarities do stack the deck against him, and sooner than he’d like he’s talking to Kirishima about everything he thought he could bury soundly.

“It’s his hoodie….” he mutters mulishly one afternoon after classes.

“Hoodie? Oh, the gray one? Yeah, it’s pretty cute. He’s like a little kitten!”

Shouto doesn’t feel possessive of Midoriya, not really, but he’s glad anyway that Kirishima is so openly affectionate about everyone with no true designs on Midoriya. And besides that, he gets the feeling that…

“Kirishima. Would I be correct in assuming that your feelings for Bakugou are of a similar nature?”

Kirishima has the decency to look a little pink around the ears when he says “Well, that’s kind of how I noticed your feelings for Deku, actually. I mean, it takes one to know one? Isn’t that the saying?”

“We’re both fools. But you especially, Kirishima,” Shouto says without venom. “Bakugou is going to crush you.”

“Ah, well, I hope so?”

Shouto does him the courtesy of pretending not to hear that.

Their unlikely friendship comes with many benefits. Kirishima turns out to be an excellent sparring partner, and they make it a biweekly event to set up in a secluded grassy field off the side of the track on campus early in the morning. In between rounds, they discuss their shared misery and the indecencies of pining. Shouto learns more than he ever wanted to know about Kirishima and Bakugou both, but Kirishima seems to respect his boundaries when he isn’t ready to talk about his...condition.

He comes to regret some of the things he does share, though. For example, one evening Midoriya comes into the lounge wearing his (ridiculous, too big) hoodie and tries to talk to him as if Shouto's not about to faint. He’s used to seeing him in his hoodie in the kitchen at night, but they always keep the lights low and he’s always just a little groggy but now, in the bright lights of the common area, he can fully appreciate the way the zipper is half undone, one half slipping down his shoulder, his sleeves pushed up to his elbows revealing strong forearms, and god, he can hear Kirishima snickering behind his hand.

“Not a word,” Shouto hisses through his teeth after Midoriya has gone to bed.

“Dude,” Kirishima says anyway, “You’ve got it so bad. I thought you were going to go up in flames when you adjusted his hood like that!”

He covers his face with one steaming hand and tries not to think of the sweet embrace of death. Midoriya’s hood was… it was inside out, and he couldn’t help it he just reached out and…

“It was so soft…” he says finally with heavy angst.