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The Loneliest Whale In the World

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Kayama sends him the video. Shouta figures it’s porn from the preview image, which is just someone’s naked chest, drenched with water, or maybe sweat. Kayama sends him plenty of videos, and at least one out of every three are just weird and out-of-context scenes from porn. Another third of them are cat videos, and chances are he’s usually seen them already.

Kayama adds, in another text, he’s such a dork :heart eyes: :sparkle-heart: :whale: The whale gives him pause. If it is porn, he’ll probably want to pour bleach into his eyes after watching it, and since his eyes are his quirk…

Shouta puts off watching it until several hours into a night patrol near Shinjuku Station, when it’s evident that any villains or criminals are staying home. There’s a lot less crime at 3:45 in the morning than one would think, and the lack of activity is making him drowsy.

Shouta leans against a wall on a deserted corner and texts Kayama: is that video you sent me porn? i can’t watch porn while i’m working

sHOUTA, she replies, nearly immediately. She must be patrolling as well. EVERYONE watches porn while they’re working.

He sighs, not interested losing this argument to her again, and is about to pocket his phone when it flashes an alert at him. Another message from Kayama.

Anyway it’s Hizashi.

He wonders for a moment if Hizashi is in porn now, which wouldn’t really surprise him, and then decides to open it.

It’s a short video produced by something called Greenpeace. The opening seems like a trailer for an action movie, all quick jump cuts and an exciting soundtrack. There are a lot of Westerners on a ship that seems to be called the Rainbow Warrior, and they all look very determined and purposeful, despite the fact that they’re all just standing around on a ship doing nothing. Seriously, they’re not even mopping the deck or steering the ship. They’re all just staring off at the horizon.

Hizashi comes on-screen about two minutes in and… Shouta pauses the video.

Hizashi looks -- he looks really good. He’s tan, he doesn’t have the ridiculous gel in his hair, he’s grown out his stubble, and he’s put on a little bit of muscle. He also looks incredibly stoned. He’s smiling -- not a wiseass smile, not a smirk, not a cheesy grin. It’s something more relaxed than any of those, crinkling the corners of his eyes. It’s not a smile Shouta remembers from their classes, though he vaguely recalls it from sharing a joint in the landslide area at USJ that one time.

Shouta’s too enrapt with looking at Hizashi to follow along with the subtitles, so he’s utterly confused when the next shot shows Hizashi diving into the open water. The camera follows him underwater, where Hizashi opens his mouth and--

wtf is this kayama, he texts, pausing the video again.

HE IS SINGING AT WHALES SHOUTA. SINGING. AT. THEM. :whale: :musical note:

The subtitles explain that Hizashi is reproducing the warning signals of some kind of whale, trying to get them to stay away from areas that whaling ships frequent. There’s more explanation, but Shouta finds himself ignoring it in favor of watching Hizashi emerge from the water, pink-skinned with cold, nipples small and hard and--

Enough of that.

Hizashi grins at the camera and shoots a double-thumbs up. That seems much more familiar.

Shouta actually downloads and saves the video, filing it under the “future blackmail” folder on his desktop.

***

A month or so later, Hizashi emails him and Kayama that he’s back in town for a night, and invites them out for a drink. Shouta’s got patrol that night -- he’s got patrol nearly every night, since he’s the newest at his agency, and also hates working with other people -- but he mentions that an old friend is back in town to StarLight, and she offers to switch with him. He looks at her blankly for a moment. “You want to take my night shift?”

“Sure. Catch up with your friends. I might ask you to return the favor at some point,” she says lightly.

Shouta can’t help but be suspicious whenever anyone is suddenly nice to him, but he can hear Hizashi and Kayama yelling at him in his head, so he nods his head. “Thanks,” he says.

Kayama and Hizashi know there’s no way that he’ll come to a club, so they meet at a karaoke bar. Kayama sneaks in some whiskey, and she and Hizashi take turns singing increasingly ridiculous songs. It’s...nice, being with the two of them. Shouta realizes that it’s been months since he physically talked to anyone besides other heroes at his agency, or occasionally the police. Hizashi is full of stories about his travels abroad, while Kayama and Shouta have plenty of war stories from their first year as sidekicks. He feels loose, relaxed, with Kayama on his left and Hizashi on his right, both of them jostling him. A year ago he would have sat on a different couch just to ensure he’d have enough personal space, but it’s like some knotted muscle has finally relaxed, after being tense for so long that he’d gotten used to the ache.

“Okay, okay,” Kayama says eventually. “I have to ask. Hizashi. How the hell did you end up on that Greenpeace boat?”

Hizashi laughs, long and fondly. “It was completely random. I met someone in Australia who worked on the boat. Once they found out what my Quirk was, they decided that they could use it.”

“So you just… screamed at whales,” Shouta says.

“It was more complicated than that!” Hizashi replies, offended. “You know I can control frequency as--”

“As well as amplitude,” Shouta and Kayama say together. It was a familiar refrain during their classes, Hizashi wanting people to know he had more than one trick up his sleeve.

Hizashi harrumphs. His cheeks are starting to flush with alcohol. “Well, it’s hard to weaponize frequency control. Aside from that one thing--”

Shouta left his capture weapon at home, but he glares at Hizashi in a way that hopefully conveys that he can still strangle him bare-handed, and hisses, “We agreed to never talk about that again.”

“Ooh, what did we agree to never talk about?” Kayama asks, leaning into both of them.

Hizashi shoots a panicked look at herat Shouta, and says, “Sorry, Nemuri. I've been sworn to secrecy.”

She turns her curious grin on him. Shouta says quickly, “What were you saying about frequency control?”

Kayama pouts, but Hizashi picks his story back up. “It’s not good for much as a hero, so I mostly use it to impress cute guys at bars.”

“I wish my quirk impressed people at bars,” Kayama says. She’s got plenty of stories about accidentally sending her hookups into a premature sleep. Shouta raises his glass to her wearily. Nothing about Shouta tended to impress people at bars.

“But George -- the Australian -- asked me if I could do low-frequency too, or replicate non-human sounds, and one thing led to another…”

“And you ended up screaming at whales,” Shouta said. “Did it work?”

Hizashi shrugs. “Honestly, we only tried it a couple times, and then three different navies and some branch of the UN threatened to arrest me.”

Shouta almost inhales his drink, and Kayama screams with laughter.

“You look stoned in that video,” Shouta points out once they’ve both calmed down.

Hizashi smirks. “That’s the natural high of being on a boat full of hot, pansexual people and getting laid regularly.”

Kayama sighs. “I can’t scream at whales, but maybe I can send the whalers to sleep?” she says.

He shoots fingerguns at both of them. “I can send you George’s email. He’s bi.”

Hizashi starts evangelizing about the all-vegan diet that George cooked on the boat, Kayama queues up another song, and Shouta steals more of her whiskey. They stumble out of the karaoke bar around 11, and Shouta’s ready to call it a night and catch a train back to his apartment. But Hizashi slings a warm arm around him, and slurs, “Shoutaaa. You should come out dancing with us.”

“When have you ever known me to agree to dancing.”

“When’s the last time you actually went out?” Kayama asks, sidling up to his other side. “I worry about you, you know. You don’t want to end up like that one lonely whale.”

“The what.” They’ve started walking with Shouta -- not towards his train station, but towards the main drag where all the clubs are in this district. He could get loose of them, but he lets them carry him along for now. The warmth from their bodies feels nice against the chilly, misty air.

“The sad whale!” Hizashi yells. “No! You don’t want to be the sad whale.”

“What are you guys even talking about?” Shouta asks. He wonders if they’re drunker than he is.

“There’s a whale that sings at 50 hertz,” Hizashi says. “George told me about it. It sings at a frequency no other whales do.”

“It’s the loneliest whale in the world,” Kayama adds. “I watched a documentary about it.”

“What does 50 hertz even sound like?” Shouta asks, because he’s not interested in having another discussion about his tendencies to be a hermit. Hizashi grabs his hand and presses it against his throat. He can’t quite hear the sound Hizashi is making, but there’s a gentle vibration under his fingertips. It catches him off guard -- Hizashi’s warm skin, the prickle of stubble, the sharp bulge of his adam’s apple. If it’s been months since he’s talked with someone face-to-face, it’s been even longer since someone touched him, outside the occasional fight with a villain or criminal.

He looks up at Hizashi just in time to see him mouth Don’t be a sad whale, Shouta. Hizashi’s throat rumbles as he shapes the words. Shouta rolls his eyes and pulls his hand away, pretending that the flush on his cheeks is from Kayama’s whiskey.

“Even if I was the Sad Whale, you’d still be able to call out to me,” Shouta says. “And annoy me by talking about veganism.”

Hizashi stops dead in his tracks, yanking Shouta and Kayama to a stop as well. “Guys,” he says. “How far are we from the beach?”

Shouta stares at him. “There’s no way you’re actually that drunk.”

Kayama pulls her flask out of her purse. “That’s easily taken care of.”

They take the train to Odaiba Park, finishing the whiskey on the way. Shouta refuses to go into the water, so he’s the first to get spotted by the security guards. He sighs, blinking against the bright beam of the guards’ flashlight. “All three of us are professional heroes,” he says. He hands over his license. “We are technically trying to help someone, right now.”

He wonders, is a sad whale a someone or a something? Either way, Hizashi insisted that it was their duty to help it.

Hizashi stands in the water then, flipping his long hair back dramatically. He looks like a deranged mermaid. “I’m bringing a message of love to all the sad whales out there! Yeah!”

Luckily, Kayama comes out of the water looking like a goddess emerging from the sea, and shamelessly flirts her way into getting them all off with a warning. They end up back at her place, which is closest, wearing her pajamas while their brackish-smelling clothes are in the wash.

“Why is it that whenever the three of us get together,” Shouta asks, “We always end up nearly getting arrested, and Hizashi always loses his pants?”

“I didn’t lose my pants,” Hizashi argues. He’s wearing a pair of Kayama’s soft fleece pants that barely come halfway down his calves and one of her baggier shirts. It rides up a little in the stomach, exposing the bones of of his hips and a pale sliver of belly. “I know exactly where they are.”

“Don’t pretend you’re so innocent, Shouta,” Kayama says from the kitchen. She’s pulled more whiskey down from her shelves, and is trying to find glasses that are clean enough to drink from. “That time at the field trip to the zoo was definitely your fault.”

They argue back and forth over more drinks, and Shouta gives up pretending that he’s going back to his apartment. At least Kayama and Hizashi don’t bring up going out to a club, though they do set up Dance Dance Revolution in Kayama’s tiny living room. He’s drunk enough that he lets them convince him to take a turn, though his score is even more abysmal than it was when they dragged him to arcades in school.

“How can you be so light on your feet and so shit at this game?” Kayama asks, petting his hair after he collapses back on her couch. The windows in her tiny apartment have steamed up from their exertions, and the street lights outside are soft smears of color.

“Shouta has no rhythm unless someone’s trying to kill him,” Hizashi says, which he can’t really argue with. Hizashi drops onto the couch next to them, cuddling up unselfconsciously to Shouta’s side. He’s handsy when he’s drunk; he reminds Shouta of the street cat that had lived in his neighborhood as a child, who happily curled up with anyone who let it in at night.

Kayama wriggles up next to him, and Shouta finds himself pressed in from both sides by his friends. It’s warm and comfortable and only mildly awkward. He’s not quite sure what to do with his hands, so he curls them against his chest, thinking again of the cat that kept him company on some nights as a child.

“Hizashi, can you purr?” he asks.

There’s a gentle vibration against Shouta’s back. More of a hum than a purr, though. It kind of tickles.

“Guess not,” Shouta mutters, a little disappointed.

“I missed you guys,” Hizashi says. “I’m the real sad whale.”

Kayama snorts and starts laughing. “Poor baby!” she cries. “Poor sad whale.”

“Hey, I’m serious!” he whines. “I’ve been off traveling in all these places, and I liked it when I was doing it, but now that I’m here... I didn’t get homesick until I was back home.”

“And now you’re leaving again,” Shouta says.

Hizashi sighs again. Kayama slides her arm across Shouta’s body and wraps it around Hizashi, which has the not-entirely-unpleasant but still unwelcome side effect of pushing Shouta’s face directly into Kayama’s boobs. He squirms around until he can at least breathe normally, though she is really comfortable to lie on. He wonders when exactly the three of them ended up horizontal on this couch, stacked on each other like firewood. It’s hard to keep his eyes open.

“Sad whales can always find each other,” he mumbles. He really can’t remember the last time he felt this warm.

Kayama’s chest bounces with laughter. “Shouta, are you asleep?”

“No,” he says, but then he is.