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You Want it Darker

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Officer Tamakawa looks as if he’s lived through several of his nine lives in the past week. Aizawa feels for him. “I swear, Eraser. Do you get into things like this just to get collected by the police?”

“No, but good idea,” Aizawa replies from his position slowly melting onto the hood of Tamakawa’s car. Ostensibly leaning back against the bonnet as he talks to Tamakawa, Aizawa can feel himself tilting back ever so slightly more and more each moment, but does nothing to stop it. “You are gonna take us to the station, aren’t you?” Shinsou is getting checked out by a medic nearby. Luckily, it seems like the cut to his arm was pretty superficial. In all likelihood he’s probably going to reflect on this moment as his first bloodshed in the line of being a Hero. Something to be proud of – and why shouldn’t he?

When Tamakawa sighs, his ears drop a little, one of them twitching like a nervous tic brought about by fatigue. Aizawa’s not one to talk, but still wonders if Tama’s been getting enough sleep. Wonders why he’s here at all. Yamaguichi was off-duty when she took them to the prison a few hours ago. “Are you working a double shift?”

“Yeah.” Tamakawa gives another tired huff, whiskers flexing, and Aizawa feels a resonant pang of empathy-meets-concern. Tamakawa’s golden eyes fix on Aizawa, then close a little from each side in a truly feline narrow gaze. “Don’t look at me like that.” It’s always odd for Aizawa to be on the other side of this feeling – but he’s always had higher standards of acceptable living for other people than for himself.

“Wasn’t looking at you like anything,” Aizawa denies expertly. Tamakawa is no detective, but as a police officer with a truly feline sense of curiosity, there's no telling what he's dug up in the time Aizawa and Shinsou have been occupied with the mad doctor. “Work keeping you busy?” Aizawa probes innocently, and assumes Tamakawa can guess the rest from context.

“Always does.” Aizawa definitely feels that. “We should catch up.” Tamakawa turns over his shoulder to throw a quick glance at Shinsou standing with the medic nearby. “Grab your…” It's clear he hesitates for a moment, but it's only a moment, “–kid and let’s go.”

Aizawa scrapes himself off the hood of Tamakawa’s car like a wind-splattered insect and has already beckoned Shinsou over when he wonders if he ought to clarify that Shinsou isn't actually his son. Nonsense, he writes off before considering it any further. There’s no way anyone would think that… right?

Aizawa gets into the passenger seat, and a few moments later Shinsou slips wordlessly into the back. After a once-over, Aizawa updates his mental records on Shinsou and concludes that the boy looks tired too. It’s with a weird clarity Aizawa realises that he might be the most well-rested person in this car right now. Which is saying a lot. He’s a little roughed up from the fight in the warehouse, but nothing he isn’t used to. The bleeding on his palm has mostly stopped, if only because he’s taped it to all buggery.

Keeping himself alert behind the wheel, it’s not a minute before Tamakawa starts unwinding to Aizawa like a tightly wrapped spool of wire. “So I’ve been looking into the first victim’s workplace, and they won’t tell me who else they interviewed for his promotion, but I’ve been able to get the names of everyone who would’ve been eligible at that level of the company. Narrows it down to about thirty.”

“How many women in that group?” Aizawa asks to slice the numbers more in their favour.

“Hm… five or six?” Tamakawa recalls with a little effort. The gender imbalance is striking as usual, but certainly useful for narrowing down suspects on this occasion. As well as being the trigger Dr. Shinsou spoke of, it dawns on Aizawa. To be at a constant disadvantage, passed over by people in positions of power with no basis in merit or what’s good and fair. Aizawa can’t help but feel this killer gets angrier with every new victim. To miss a promotion, literally take out the competition, and still get nothing; except sexually assaulted on the train home.

Aizawa narrows it down a little further. “Anyone the given name Shiyoko?”

Shinsou interrupts before Tamakawa can even answer. “That won’t work.”

“Why not?” Aizawa prompts automatically, slipping into teacher-mode like a pair of worn boots.

“Didn’t you hear what the Doc said?” Shinsou states like it’s obvious. “If she’s hiding in plain sight, it probably means she’s not using her real name.”

That’s what he meant?” Aizawa hadn’t mulled Dr. Shinsou’s words over that closely yet, but it makes sense his son would be better at digesting this breadbasket than Aizawa is. With every passing moment, Aizawa comes to terms with how legitimately useful Shinsou is to have around on this case. Even when he gets caught in the crossfire and has to use his quirk with utter illegality but startling competence. Especially then.

“Jeez, old man, you could at least try to keep up,” Shinsou riffs, paying no mind to who hears the way they go on. Though this is a little more audacious than usual.

“Alright, smartass. Nobody likes a brat,” Aizawa delivers like a verbal cuff around the ear. “If her quirk isn’t registered and she’s using a fake name, what does that leave us with?”

Shinsou’s not the only one in this car Aizawa feels himself pruning like a bush that needs cutting to grow to its fullest potential. Because Tamakawa answers this one. “I checked the addresses of the women against the train station of the second death, and only one of them had any reason to be on that train at that time.”

“Sounds like we should pay her a visit,” Aizawa suggests, testing out Tamakawa’s flexibility like a plastic school ruler.

“Not without a warrant,” Tamakawa lays down the law. Like, literally. “That’s police information, I can’t just leak it to you.” Even if he already has with earlier evidence, Aizawa supposes he can’t begrudge a police officer for drawing the line somewhere.

So Aizawa teases more than he actually complains,  “I suppose that means we ought to speak with a Detective.” Too bad Tama isn’t one, he thinks not for the first time.

“Oh, Chief Tsuragamae wants to talk to you, did I forget to mention that?” Tamakawa surely knows he didn’t bring it up, and has been deliberate in waiting until now, when he’s got Aizawa trapped in a confined space, to spring it on him.

Aizawa resists the urge to talk about throwing the dog a bone and just sighs as he finds the lever on his chair and tilts himself back several degrees. Might as well enjoy this moment of peace while it lasts. “Of course he does.”

“Looks to me like you two have had a rather ruff day,” Police Chief Tsuragame must be trying to throw them off, Aizawa thinks as he sweats a little more than usual in his jumpsuit. This has to be a trap of some kind.

It's not that Aizawa is personally worried, but should the Police Chief decide to want to talk about why an unlicensed schoolkid who isn't even in the Hero Course has been using his brainwashing quirk on criminals, all the way up to the level of his mass-murderer father in maximum security prison they were just at – while also in the presence of a pro Hero who technically should have reported all of this – is something for Aizawa to get a little clammy over.

But maybe that's not it, so Aizawa keeps his poker face stiff and answers, “Not too bad, Chief. How are you?” It's a cheeky fliparound to deflect attention, and might not work, but there's no harm in trying.

Tsuragame answers, “Well, I'm tired of chasing Tamakawa around the station trying to divine what on earth he's working on.” The literal image scarpers through Aizawa's mind and he feels a twitch under one of his eyes from trying to hold his amusement below the surface. “So I believe it's high time to bring this out of the shadows: I hear you think you’re onto a serial killer.”

“Maybe not fully fledged, but potentially… yes,” Aizawa hesitantly confirms. “I already told Tsukauchi it was worth a detective looking into.”

“Tsukauchi is just one detective; I am the Chief of Police.”

Aizawa doesn't stir from his oil-spill slump over his chair. It'll take more than this to ruffle his feathers, and as long as they’re not talking about Shinsou’s involvement, this is a dance Aizawa’s done plenty of times before – the Translegal Tango. “I assumed he would pass on the message.” Evidently, Tsukauchi did pass it up the ranks, it just took a while to reach the right level – the top, in this case.

“When you're using police resources so liberally I should like to be aware of what you're doing with my men.” And women, Aizawa adds thinking of Yamaguichi, even Kuwabara and Dr. Iwaya. All that police resource that’s just been there, ready for Aizawa to make use of. Of course he helps himself when it’s a literal serve-yourself buffet.

Besides, if the police were more responsive to Aizawa’s cues, then he wouldn’t need to sit here explaining it after the fact; the persistent thought sits at the forefront of his mind. But process can’t or simply won’t be rushed. Unfortunately. “So assign the case to a detective, and I'll tell them everything.” Aizawa does dare to sigh. “Again.”

“Micromanaging one of my detectives isn't a solution to this problem, Eraser.” Chief Tsuragame is especially dogged in his approach today. Aizawa does not micromanage. “Let's start with you telling me what you know so far.”

“Three people have died in as many days.” Shinsou busts into the conversation full of impatience and a lack of respect for authority; Aizawa's almost proud of him, if only his timing were a little better. “All staged to look like suicide, but it's actually someone with a brainwashing quirk taking them out.”

Chief Tsuragame glances at Shinsou then across to Aizawa like he means to say, “Is this yours?” What he does say is, “And you are who exactly?”

“This is… Jack,” Aizawa puts in before Shinsou comes around to answering. “He’s helping me with my work.”

“You’ve actually accepted help?” Tsuragame remarks. “I’m impressed.” Aizawa resists the urge to fidget in his seat. “I assume he’s licensed.” The Chief makes it sound like he doesn’t assume this at all. First landmine, Aizawa thinks with a cagey sidewards glance at Shinsou.

“Not… yet,” Aizawa finds himself offering. It could be true, which makes it not a lie, technically. “I’m taking full responsibility for his actions in the field.”

“Never thought I’d see the day you take on an intern, Eraserhead.” There’s no denying that Tsuragame is an exceptional Police Chief, it’s just that Aizawa would rather avoid these kinds of grillings around his Hero work. For a teacher who is constantly assessing the ability of others, Aizawa’s always been utterly atrocious at allowing others to monitor what he’s doing.

“They say there’s a first time for everything.” This comes from Shinsou, who Aizawa suspects gets bolder and bolder the more he learns how unique his position with Aizawa really is. Boy better not get an ego – more of an ego – about it. “So unless you have any more questions, Police Chief, might we get back to the serial killer on the loose?”

There’s a chill in the way Shinsou says it that’s uncannily like… his father, Aizawa realises with a peculiar pang of recognition. Something not necessarily good or bad, but unstable enough to go either way and then be back again in time for breakfast.

The moment of stunned silence lands like a butterfly, holding itself still for a moment before taking off into the air again. This could go one of two ways, but thankfully it goes the one where Chief Tsuragame breaks into a woofy chuckle. “I see why Eraser’s taken you on, young man.” He folds his fingers together and leans over the desk. “So tell me about this killer of yours.”

Aizawa has resisted the urge as long as he can, but right after they come out of the Chief’s office, Tamakawa catches his eye across a hallway and mimes two fingers in a smoking motion in front of his mouth. With a single gesture, Aizawa’s willpower dissolves like alkaline in acid.

Managing to slip away from Shinsou without an overt reason behind the need for his temporary absence, Aizawa heads out the front door of the police station, then makes a beeline around the building for the alley. By the side-door he finds Tamakawa, a cigarette already lit in his mouth as he holds a half-empty pack out to Aizawa.

“So what did the Chief say?” Tamakawa wastes no time in pouncing, but Aizawa takes a lighter out of his belt and lights the cigarette he sets between his lips. Takes a nice long drag first, tipping his head back to blow the plume of smoke upwards before coming around to answer.

“Tsukauchi is going to ‘look into it’.” Aizawa attempts not to let this sound as dour as he feels about this result, but it’s not very successful. It’s natural that a whole organisation is slower than a single individual, and all the detectives have multiple cases to juggle. But if it isn’t frustrating to be paces ahead of them trying to hurry the horse-and-cart along before anyone else dies.

“That’s something.” Tamakawa hardly sounds thrilled either, and Aizawa wonders how things would differ if Tama made detective. In theory, Aizawa never consciously plays favourites, but in practice he tends to discover his attachments to individuals long after the bond has already formed. Hizashi, for one. Aizawa was bleeding out and full of broken glass in a gang hideout before he realised quite how important his best friend was to him. The person he wanted one last word with before he died. Still does.

Aizawa drags on his cigarette again and lets the nicotine rush push back his residual frustration with how slowly things are moving. He’s doing everything he can, which is all he can do, and that has to be enough. Even if it doesn’t feel like it. “Just about.”

“Cheer up, Eraser. We’ve been trying to break that smuggling ring you stumbled onto for months.” Tama’s trying to be uplifting, but he’s faking it and looks like he’s due several consecutive catnaps. “If you were an officer, you’d probably get a commendation.”

Aizawa shrugs and pulls again. Accolades don’t mean anything to him and never have. He just wants criminals stopped in their tracks. Let everyone else have the credit, and he’ll take the satisfaction of a job well done.

At the end of a silent-but-comfortable pause in their smoke break, Tamakawa starts more conversationally than most people would give him credit for. “So about your kid.”

Aizawa is about to jump in with “he's not my actual kid” when the side-door opens and the brat in question steps out with a smug mile-wide grin. As if he's the teacher who just caught his students smoking behind the gym. “I knew it.”

Aizawa takes a vindictive pull on his cigarette and says, “Yeah yeah, you got us,” on the exhale. “What?”

Shinsou looks a little assaulted by this inquiry. “Nothing. I just didn’t want to wait for you alone in a police station,” Hitoshi explains sheepishly as as he slips out the fire-escape door, letting it swing almost-shut and bounce off a well-worn wedge behind him. Aizawa feels a little guiltier, if not quite guilty enough to actually put out his cigarette.

“Say, kid, I was about to ask,” Tamakawa picks up after his latest puff on his own machine-rolled health hazard; Aizawa’s not a wholly positive influence, he accepts that. But nobody’s perfect, and vices that are good for you aren’t really vices. “What’s your quirk?”

For a moment, Aizawa could swear he hears pure white noise. An insane deafening blare that makes no sound and literally pauses his ability to think for a moment. It seems to be centred around Shinsou, but when Aizawa’s actually able to try and think about what it was, the moment’s already passed. He’s stuck trying to remember something that wasn’t even there in the first place.

“Nothing,” Shinsou says with a voice that’s pure control. There’s no way Shinsou could have, or would have, used his quirk on Tamakawa. But even if he’s not using his quirk, a naturally commanding tone can be just as effective in some settings. “I’m quirkless.”

“Really? Then you must be pretty special for Eraser to take you on.” Pretty suspicious, Aizawa corrects icily in his head. Here’s something he didn’t expect having to deal with. After being ‘busted’ by Shinsou for sneaking off with Tamakawa, now he needs to sneak off with Shinsou. Perhaps that’s exactly what the too-smart brat wants.

“What can I say?” Shinsou has a vindictive little twist at the corner of his mouth when Aizawa meets his gaze. Like he knows exactly what he’s doing, and relishes doing it. “I’m a special guy.”

The conversation starts with the subtlety of a breezeblock swinging on the end of the chain. “So. Quirkless, huh?”

They’re at the school gates, dropped off out back of UA by a weary Tamakawa who’s simultaneously at the end of his shift and wits. Aizawa can finally broach the subject with Shinsou that’s been burning on his tongue like a cigarette almost burned to the stub.

“People talk,” is Shinsou’s weary answer. It’s late enough to be well past dinner, but Aizawa’s never been one for adhering to much of a routine. The boy should eat, though, and Lunch Rush has promised that he’ll always have a hot meal ready for Aizawa at any hour of the day or night. So in spite of it being quite clearly going-home time, it’s towards the canteen they both walk in stilted chunks of awkward conversation and stony silence.

“Tamakawa can be trusted.”

“By you.” Shinsou’s unwavering on this point. “Not me.” Aizawa remembers the shock of white-noise mental energy – that’s what he thinks it was, now – that Tamakawa’s question had generated. A defence mechanism maybe? If Shinsou’s even aware that he did it. If he did do it.

“Not yet,” Aizawa amends in his finest 'teacher does know best' tone of voice. Shinsou rolls his eyes and tries to move his arm then stops himself. The medic said the cut wasn’t deep, barely a quarter of an inch. He’ll just need to go easy on it in training.

“No matter who they are, people always talk about my quirk,” Shinsou clarifies with all the gravity the subject matter calls for. “I don’t want the police knowing about me.”

“Yeah.” Aizawa softly chuckles, more of an engine that tries to start and fails to get going. “That makes two of us.”

Shinsou fires Aizawa a doleful look, and they walk a little further in electric power-line tight tension, cruising quietly until the next break into conversation. “Back there, you said I wasn’t licensed yet,” Shinsou picks like a thread he’s had his eye on for a while.

“So you better pass the provisional license exam.”

The hope in Shinsou’s voice is like embers under a blanket of ash. Just a breath and they’ll light. “I’m allowed to take it?”

“If you’re there, and show them you have what it takes to be a hero, there’s no way they'd be able to refuse you,” Aizawa speaks from the more animated, fist-banging-on-the-table angrier section of his gut. “I’ll make sure you’re there. You have to do the rest.”

“With your help.” Shinsou doesn’t say this with insecurity, like he’s looking for validation. He says it like he knows damn well that Aizawa’s fully committed to helping him and just doesn’t want to admit it.

“Until you wear out my patience.” Aizawa lifts his arm and looks at the back of his wrist as if he’d have a watch on it. “Which will be any minute now, if you keep this gloating up.”

“Alright, teach,” Shinsou chuckles, but not sincerely. “I get it, you’re an ego-crusher.” They take a few more steps in the echoing arena of an empty school playground. “You know, I’m actually kinda glad you’re not my real teacher.”

“You couldn’t hack it,” Aizawa baits, inviting Shinsou in the best possible way: come and prove me wrong. Show me how much better you are.

“Maybe you couldn’t,” Shinsou suggests with a far too crafty air. Yet again, Aizawa visits the notion that he does not want this little mentalist provocateur in his damn classroom. Let Vlad have him.

“Maybe we’ll find out one day,” Aizawa concedes with a shrug. “Until then, you need to go easy on your injury, but that doesn’t mean you can drop physical training altogether. Especially not if you expect to take the provisional license exam next term. Keep up that 5k run every morning. Aim to get it under 30 minutes.”

“Eugghhh, you really don’t let up, do you?” Shinsou groans worse than when he’d had his arm cut open by a crazy trafficker earlier this day, worse than before meeting his mass-murderer father. It occurs to Aizawa that this teen could be quite accurately described as fucking lazy, at least with regards to physical training.

“Heroes don't let up,” Aizawa brings back around. “Amateurs quit when they're tired.”

“Guess that explains why you always look like that.”

Aizawa doesn't do this kind of thing often, but when he does it's always on impulse he's got no more say over than asking the wind not to blow. He reaches across the buffer of space between him and Shinsou, walking parallel to each other like a set of rails, and gives him a (friendly) shove. “You're one to talk, brat.”

Shinsou starts a laugh, but settles fast like gravel stirred up from a riverbed. “Aizawa… thank you.” He hesitates a moment before specifying. “For the opportunity. For taking a chance on me.”

“A chance?” Aizawa quotes back, and he's never been much good for mushy moments. “I can count three you made me take on you today.” Allowing Shinsou to lie to a police officer (1), not questioning his need to use his quirk in self-defence (2), and perhaps most notably, arranging to meet Dr. Shinsou and picking a mass-murderer’s mind for case details together (3).

Shinsou sniggers and it sticks this time. “Fine. For taking as many chances on me as you do.”

“Then don't let me down,” Aizawa replies. Shinsou hasn't yet, but that's no reason to let him get comfortable. They reach the cafeteria, and Aizawa knocks on the shutter. “Yo, Rush. Can I have two of those emergency bentos you promised?” Aizawa glances at Shinsou and thinks about where he’s going back to, what he knows about the kid so far. Not much, but some. “Make it three, and to go,” he adds as the shutter rolls up.

Lunch Rush bobs his head wearily, but still gives a thumbs up. Another workaholic: always in the kitchen coming up with some wild new dish, even after hours. Aizawa’s had more 4:00 a.m. breakfast-dinners with Lunch Rush than either of them would likely care to count. They sit in complete silence, which gives Rush the honour of being the faculty member Aizawa has spent the most time with and knows the least about – therefore his favourite. After Hizashi.

Shinsou ribs, “Did you miss lunch or something?” Aizawa tries to remember if he did, but draws a blank.

“For your mother. You said she works, right?” Aizawa returns, and Shinsou looks so mollified by it that he could even be said to have blushed a little. Trust a teenage son not to think of something like that.

“... Yeah. Thanks.”

“Thank Lunch Rush, not me.” Aizawa knocks his knuckles idly on the counter as he leans against it, eyeing the matching cuts where the double-edged dagger he grabbed sliced his palm in perfect symmetry. It’s going to be annoying for a few days; he could ask Recovery Girl to heal him, but the lecture he’ll have to endure might be more burdensome. Aizawa can repair himself the old-fashioned way.

“Thank you,” Shinsou repeats more politely to Lunch-Rush, who gives a completely identical thumbs up.

Aizawa's phone rings embarrassingly into another comfortable lapse back into silence. It's hard to tell, but Lunch Rush’s shoulders shake as if in silent laughter. The novelty seems to have worn off for Shinsou, who just looks like he might fall asleep standing up if he’s left unattended for too long. Aizawa answers.

“Shoooooootaaaaaa,” Hizashi drawls in the way he loves to maximise the use of. “Where are you?” After almost a decade calling each other Aizawa and Yamada, the transition into using given names had been like a duck to water – for Hizashi. For Aizawa, it was more like a just-hatched duckling wearing swim-fins and a snorkel set. Sometimes, he’ll still spit out a “ goddammit, Yamada!” when he's yelling, and Hizashi will get all upset and distracted from whatever they were fighting about. Works like a charm every time.

“I just got back to school.”

“I hate to break it to you, babe, but school doesn’t start for another eleven hours. Try coming home.”

“I have a lot of work to do.” Knock-on effect of spending all the time most teachers spend grading and planning lessons talking to deranged doctors and fighting crime: Aizawa spends time catching up on work while other teachers use that time to have lives.

“That ain’t my problem, honey.” Hizashi sounds like he’s on speakerphone, and is periodically bashing pots and pans together. Attempting to cook, most likely. Aizawa’s safer where he is.

In spite of it not having been all that long since Aizawa was home, he feels the roosting urge to return much stronger than usual. It's been a weird day, but rather than staying away from his sanctuary, Aizawa wants to crawl into it and curl up in the fetal position. Funny how that works. “I’ll be back later.”

“So, I should expect to find you asleep under your desk in the staff room tomorrow morning?”

“Usually, yes, but I mean it this time,” Aizawa insists.

“Why? What's different?”

A picture flashes into Aizawa's mind: Shinsou slamming his hand against the glass of his father's cell and yelling “you never loved her!” while Dr. Shinsou smiles like he's watching the boy's first steps. “Nothing,” Aizawa as good as lies, needing to appendix it with, “I'll tell you later.” Aizawa isn't good at telling people he needs them. But Hizashi understands that more than anyone else.

“Alright, Shota.” There's an important gravity in his tone that says ‘I get it’ far more than his casual, “See you later,” would suggest.


With impeccable timing, Lunch Rush sets a stack of three bentos on the counter, nods, and then gives Aizawa another emphatic thumbs up. A double-thumbs up.

Aizawa takes the first off the top and announces, “Alright, kid. You're on your own.”

“Just like that?” Shinsou sounds like he's been conned. “Not even a bye or goodnight?”

“Bye. Goodnight.” Aizawa only just remembers not to tuck the bento under his arm like a book and holds it flat, picking up a capped styrofoam cup of miso soup with it. “Try not to get in any trouble on the way.”

“Should be easy without you around,” Shinsou retorts, but the lively cynicism falls flat when he breaks into a yawn. Aizawa wonders how far from home the boy lives and if he’ll stay awake on the train home. Lunch Rush bags the couple of hot dinners for Shinsou and passes them over with a solemn nod that the boy returns.

When he turns his gaze back to Aizawa, Shinsou wears an expression that could be mistaken for a mirror. Aizawa could peer into those violet-bagged eyes and be eye-to-eye with himself, fifteen years in the past. Looking for Heroes in a world of villains.

Shinsou’s hand lifts and he waves gangly-long fingers before he turns away, a puppy with paws slightly too big for itself. “G’night, teach.”

With a smile on his face shielded behind the heaped coils of his capture weapon, Aizawa waves first and realises he’s done it later, as though the thought didn’t come from his own mind.

Eating bites of Lunch Rush’s bento in-between marking write-ups of his actual student’s exercises in Hero class, Aizawa has a running itch of a thought. Just how many leagues away are these exercises, designed to test the ability of twenty-odd kids in a fully artificial environment, from being cornered in a warehouse by more armed traffickers than Aizawa had originally anticipated?

As he reads through every page of analysis – or five in Midoriya’s case – Aizawa finds himself considering what each student would have been like in the situations he’s been through with Shinsou in the past couple of days. Who would have fared better, or (more likely) worse?

Aizawa could try to apply the same rules to Shinsou as he does to his day students’ homework, but reality is a simple pass/fail – with a little room for notes. There would be no point in grading or having Shinsou write up what they’ve been up to. Not when it can be broken apart in the quiet moments among all the other things happening. And besides, no one wants a paper trail.

Aizawa doesn’t have time for one-to-one pep-talks with every kid in his normal class, but the night-class of one has no contest on his attention – apart from the criminals they’re dealing with. Without meaning to think it, a kind of unconscious shuffle in Aizawa’s head sets Shinsou aside because he’s obviously different from all Aizawa’s other students. Just for a moment, Aizawa feels glad things are the way they are. Like everyone is in the place they’re meant to be.

Sort of, Aizawa amends with a glance around the wonderfully peaceful teacher’s lounge, emptied of the nuisances he calls colleagues.

Aizawa’s phone doesn’t ring. He doesn’t even get a message. Long enough passes that he’s conscious of the fact that it hasn’t gone off. If Hizashi isn’t pestering Aizawa, he’s either found a suitably engaging way to occupy himself or he’s asleep. In Aizawa’s experience, the odds are about 50-50 each way.

So it’s Aizawa’s lack of patience for reading any more laborious over-descriptions of the same damn exercise that gives out in the end. He leaves the homework but picks up a wad of school-something-related paperwork and unopened mail that he’s seriously got to go through, and just goes home like an almost-normal person.

Knowing that half an hour’s free run is about as far as Aizawa is willing to go before giving up and sleeping in his bag, Hizashi was sure to find them an apartment Aizawa can usually be bothered going back to. If he’s not up to the run or simply too far away to make it worthwhile, Aizawa still sleeps wherever he damn well pleases – and is almost never disturbed. Whereas at home, Hizashi is sure to disturb him almost endlessly, if in a good way.

There’s an inevitable amount of glorious time-wasting when he and Hizashi are together outside work. The slowing-down moments of just living their lives around each other, trying to keep some semblance of synchronicity; Aizawa tends to slip in and out of rhythm with Hizashi’s own, regular snare-drum tempo.

When Aizawa gets home the lights are on, but Hizashi isn’t around – at least, not in the main room or bedroom where Aizawa might expect to find him. Narrowing it down to one location – also the only place Hizashi wouldn’t hear Aizawa coming home – Aizawa makes his way across the apartment until he gets to the studio.

Now, it’s worth remembering that Hizashi spent an indefinite amount of time picking out and fitting-out this place before Aizawa ever got close to it. Which means Hizashi’s home-studio might as well be called the grown music-man toybox; Hizashi does his radio show from here, as well as endless tinkering with instruments that only occasionally results in an album. How Hizashi keeps up so many hobbies amazes Aizawa. So when he comes into the studio and catches Hizashi behind the mic, he doesn’t dare to interrupt.

Aizawa waits for the song Hizashi’s singing – English, and therefore incomprehensible to him – to finish. By which point, Hizashi’s wearing a grin bright as a chest full of diamonds behind the soundproof glass. Taking off his headphones, he pops straight out of the insulated sound booth, a custom-built cubicle Hizashi had built at one end of the expansive studio that Aizawa’s pretty sure takes up at least one-third of this apartment’s floorplan. Not that Aizawa needs the space for anything anyway. His possessions all fit in the broom cupboard – just about, if you prop the door shut. He did it once, to prove a point, and won’t hesitate to bring it up if Hizashi is sniffy about Aizawa's things being in the so-called “wrong place” again.

“You waited for me to finish,” Hizashi purrs like he’s impressed. “You never do that.”

“I do so.” Aizawa receives Hizashi in his arms simply by lifting them, holding himself out like a scarecrow to be hugged, waiting slightly impatiently for Hizashi to wriggle his way into the sweet spot of being fully entwined with Aizawa, before dropping his arms to complete the hug. Hizashi’s just the right height for Aizawa to try and hang himself from like a wet towel on a towel rack – blanket mode, Hizashi calls it.

But Aizawa’s only ever been like this around Hizashi, some soporific effect of Hizashi’s proximity that always sets Aizawa at ease. Actually being relaxed when he sleeps has been an almost Hizashi-exclusive experience for Aizawa, running many years longer than they’ve actually been together.

“Hard day at the office, dear?” Hizashi teases, then draws a sharp breath as Aizawa scrapes his bristles clumsily across Hizashi’s bare neck – uncovered when he’s at home. Hizashi’s tattooed all the way around his throat with the opening bars of his first single. He'd almost crushed Aizawa's hand having that bit of ink done.

More invested in forming himself around Hizashi like plaster taking a cast of a sculpture, Aizawa just murmurs, “You don’t know the half of it.”