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Genos woke up from the sound of his master’s heart rate increasing. He quickly acknowledged that there were no signs of danger, just his sensei mumbling in his sleep.

It was rare for the older man to dream so intensely. The last time it had occurred was about a cabbage monster who ended up truly terrorizing a park. Whatever it was this time, he’d managed to discard his blanket in the process.

Genos wondered if he was dreaming of another foe, suddenly speculating on the utilities of dream combat and the potential of it being a clue to his master’s incredible power.

He rolled over in his futon to watch him intently. He wanted desperately to take notes but he needed more insight in to if he was in fact training in his sleep or not. Upon inspection, his dear master’s face was flushed, smiling, and perfect as always despite the drool.

He was skeptical. It didn’t look like he was facing an enemy down. His eyes wandered down his body, his arms were sprawled out, close enough to touch. His shirt ridding up, revealing his beautiful stomach, and only a little lower, to his surprise, a massive erection.

He shifted uncomfortably at the sight. He'd never seen him hard before. Eyes darting back up to ensure he hadn't stirred yet before returning to the silhouette making a tent out of his boxers curiously.

Genos felt he should cover him up. Afraid to even to reach over him to retrieve the blanket, freezing in place when the man moaned through his senseless mumbling. He’d never heard his master make a sound like that before.

It was nothing like the pleasurable sounds he’d make while defeating a particularily challenging game, or while savoring a meal, or even soaking at the hot spring. It was unbelievable to hear something so soft and vulnerable come from the man he revered.

He couldn’t help himself from inching closer, watching, listening. He could feel his core speeding up despite his efforts to remain quiet. He could not risk spoiling such a rare phenomenon.

Saitama moaned again after mumbling something else incoherently. Whatever it was he was dreaming about, it had to be divine to make him sound that way.

Genos tentatively reached out and trailed his fingers down the man’s outstretched arm. When he reached his wrist he trailed back up, following the lines of his muscles to his shoulder, moving over his neck and then cautiously to his face, stroking his cheek.

He couldn’t believe he was really touching him despite everything inside him telling him to stop. He knew it was wrong, shifting closer to watch his expression silently. He slid his fingers back down his neck and to his chest.

As his hand caressed his chest through his shirt he could feel himself getting incredibly aroused. He knew it wasn’t something that was meant to be physically possible for him, but his master had been bringing out urges in him that he hadn't know existed for some time now.

And until that morning he’d been able to control them by pretending they simply weren’t there. After all, they were inappropriate. He was his teacher. This was highly inappropriate.

Still, he continued, trying desperately to make out what his master was mumbling about while he explored his every muscle. Terrified he would wake up he slid his fingers hesitantly further down past his perfect abs and over his erection.

He swallowed hard as something surged through him when he finally felt his cock through his boxers. He felt intoxicated with pleasure after desiring it for so long, after wishing he would touch him first.

Saitama moaned again, longer this time while fingers traced his cock delicately through his boxers all the way down to his balls before stroking their way back up his length.

His voice sent shivers down his artificial spine. He needed to stop. He would certainly wake him up at this rate and it would be all over, except that touching him felt too good to give up just yet.

Stroking him slowly he shifted closer. He wanted more. He knew he’d violated his trust and that there was no way he could possibly excuse it. He'd have to accept the consequences, then he may as well enjoy it a moment longer, right?

“Genos..”

Saitama moaned his name suddenly and he froze, terrified to look back up, but the man was definitely still asleep. His unchanged heart rate and euphoric expression confirmed it, yet, he’d said his name.

Genos thought he was imagining things. He was engrossed by the look on his face as he stroked him slowly. He could feel him move in to his touch now, moaning deeply again.

“Saitama-sama..”

Genos whispered back, his voice more timid than he’d intended, bitting his lower lip. He wanted to hear more, unable to stop himself from leaning in closer.

“Mmmm.. Genos.”

Saitama moaned again, mumbling something else after his name, but there was no question this time that he’d heard it again. He had really said his name.

He couldn’t believe he was in his master’s dream. He trailed kisses down his jawline, nuzzling in to his neck in bliss. He felt himself overheating, steam threatening to escape.

“Genos?”

He’d been too busy kissing his neck softly to realize that it had been a question this time, except when the man shifted from his touch he was suddenly alerted to look up.

“Wha-”

Saitama started, confusion clearly all over his face. He’d woken him up. It was over.

Genos panicked and instead of moving away, instead of apologizing for his decidedly despicable actions, he leaned up on an arm to kiss him.

His master let out a surprised sound, but as soon as their lips met he simply leaned back in to his pillow.

He felt guilty. He wanted to enjoy it, but he felt like he was going out of his mind. The taste of his lips just as soon pulled him back to the complete pleasure of being in contact with him.

He felt strong hands move over his rigid body, horrified that his master was about to push him away. Instead they simply rest on him, a hand against his chest and the other sliding up the back of his neck.

His lips were infinitely softer than he'd expected. Having clearly underestimated how good they would feel should he ever be bestowed the honor of touching them, he felt powerless to stop.

Yet he had cheated fortune. He couldn't help but think that he really must be a demon. Steam billowing out of his vents, eagerly returning to stroking him while they kissed.

“Genos.”

Saitama moaned his name again between kisses. The last thing he had known, the cyborg had been beneath him, and now he was on top of him, but it felt too good to question why.

He felt his synthetic tongue run across his lower lip after he’d sucked on it before sliding it in to his mouth. It felt hot and tasted surprisingly enticing, sliding over his, both moaning in to their kiss.

Genos couldn’t help but smile, pulling away for an instant to make sure he wasn’t near a meltdown. His core was shinning bright through his thin shirt, but it could barely be seen in the morning light already filling the room.

He hovered over the older man, studying how red his face had become before being pulled back down in to another deep kiss. He could still feel him moving in to every stroke, squeezing him harder in response.

“Saitama-sama."

Genos breathed again, kissing down his neck while he moved to get in to a better position. There was one more thing he’d wanted to do for a long time now.

“Genos..”

His master moaned his name again and he felt his fingers slide through his hair as he moved lower.

“What's gotten in to you?”

He finally questioned, watching him with wide eyes, but Genos only glanced up at him while kissing his stomach.

“This is what you need. Right, master?”

Genos studied his expression for any sign that he was wrong. When he pulled his boxers down to expose his erection he only watched him fall back in to his pillow again. He licked him tentatively and felt his entire body tense beneath him, producing even more delightful moans.

Each sound that escape from his sensei was a reward he cherished as he carefully licked his length. Teasing him with only his tongue before taking him in to his mouth. He caressed his exposed stomach with one hand and slid the other down his thigh.

He couldn’t stop touching him while he sucked him slowly. His master's gentle fingers moving through his hair were reassuring as he trailed his hand up his shirt to caress his chest while the other slid back up his thigh to grip his ass.

He could feel his Saitama-sama's heart rate increasing still, but mostly he could hear his moans getting louder as he moved in to his mouth easily.

Getting in to a better position, he started to suck faster. He tasted so good to him, yet he couldn’t believe what was about to happen. Taking him deeper down his throat he knew he was close.

He felt Saitama's other hand reach up for the one he was busy caressing his chest with. He was about to reach in to pull it out, but he quickly responded, sliding out of his shirt to meet his, their fingers intertwining tightly.

Saitama moaned again once he'd gotten hold of him. He sounded so close. He felt him squeezing his hand until the last few deep thrusts sent him over the edge.

His hand slid down the back of his head, holding him firmly in place as cum shot down his throat. When he let go he still felt cum filling his mouth as he slowly pulled back. He made sure he’d finished before releasing him, swallowing everything while still holding hands.

His master’s grip had loosened on his hand and he looked entirely spent, smiling at him. He hoped he’d never forget that look.

Genos wiped his mouth, albeit ineficiently, and slowly moved back up to lay besides his master, still holding his hand across his chest. He bit the inside of his cheek hesitantly, wishing he knew what to say.

“That was amazing.”

Saitama breathed out, exhausted, rolling over to face him.

“I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

Genos admitted quickly.

“It was really..”

Saitama nuzzled closer, pulling their entertwined fingers up to his face.

“really..”

He continued sleepily, giving the back of his metal hand a kiss.

“really, amazing.”

Saitama admitted back, blinked slowly, closing his his eyes as soon as he’d finished speaking.

Genos watched with a joy and calm he never even knew was possible as the man simply fell back asleep. He watched him peacefully for some time before tucking him back in and moving on to his chores.

He opened the patio door a crack to change the air from all the steam. There was a light breeze and it was truly a beautiful morning despite finding it incredibly hard to believe that things had finally changed between them under less than optimal circumstances.

It was some time before Saitama stirred back awake. He glanced at the curtains swaying in the breeze before hazily remembering the events of that morning.

"Good morning, sensei."

Genos called from the kitchen, but he'd already jolted awake, shoving his blanket aside for any proof of what had happened. Except he found none. He was fully clothed again and there were clearly no signs of their heated encounter. Had it only been a dream? Did it really happen? He couldn't believe what he was even remembering.

"Why'd you let me sleep in so late?"

He questioned instead, turning his attention to the clock, irritated by his own inability to recall if he'd actually just lost his virginity.

"You looked like you needed it, master"

Genos answered simply, but there was something in his tone of voice that unnerved him.

"Don't call me that."

He snapped back. So that was it? Nothing happened? What if it had? Saitama found himself panicking while heading to the bathroom.

"Don't worry, sensei. There's still plenty of time to make that sale on squid today like you wanted."

Genos attempted to reassure him as he rushed by.

"Right, right."

Saitama brushed off, locking himself in the bathroom the next instant. He looked at himself in the mirror and wanted to scream, but he couldn't. If he'd really fucked him then this was as much his fault.

He thought he'd be happy to finally do it with someone. But this was as far from how he pictured it happening as possible. He hadn't even pictured it in years for that matter. Besides, he'd read that virginity was a social construct.

Even so. What had he done? And with his disciple at that? He couldn't recall how it had even started, all he remembered was kissing. Hot. Hot, insatiable kissing, and touching, and then.. Then what?

He was riddled with doubt. Suddenly reminded of the Subterraneans, he worried it may not be just a twisted dream. What if it was another premonition? If they hadn't just had sex, were they about to? And would it be a complete let down, just as all his fantasies were?

He couldn't breathe. He'd never felt this way before. It was worse than when he thought he'd be fired for not meeting his quotas back when he was still C-Class.

He couldn't possibly do something like that to Genos. He just couldn't stomach how badly he wanted to. He hung his head in defeat, urging himself to find the resolve not to mess everything up.

He washed his face and calmed down enough to take a piss, trying to convince himself that either way it was best to just avoid it to save himself the embarrassment.

Chapter Text

Genos tied on his trusted apron and started cooking breakfast. He'd gotten everything ready for when his master would wake up, expecting to make their morning as special as possible.

It hadn't exactly started as he'd expected. He couldn't help but worry as to why he hadn't appeared to calm down when he reassured him about the sale. The only remaining correlation was that he was upset about their first time after all.

The realization had him reeling with doubt. He felt horrible. He wanted to apologize to him, beg for his forgiveness, anything to alleviate the tension he'd instilled in him.

He feared that despite how he felt about what he’d done, everything may not have occurred ideally. He was terrified that asking would just make things worse. He'd said it was amazing earlier, then what was he missing?

The longer he spent in the bathroom, the deeper he regretted not sleeping in with him that morning. He hadn't had anything particularly important to do, even prep for the omelettes had only taken a few minutes.

If they'd woken up together none of this would be happening, would it? He couldn't help but question himself. He didn't understand why he'd thought anything else would be more important than staying in bed with him.

He flinched when he heard the bathroom door open again, watching from the corner of his eye as his master made his way back to the living room to roll up his futon, going about his routine with a surprising calm.

"Breakfast is almost ready, sensei."

Genos announced, as he always did when he cooked. Anxiously trying to measure the older man's mood while garnishing their omelettes.

"Ok."

Saitama responded, stacking his futon in the corner and pulling the table back out, setting things up for their meal before turning the TV on.

Genos watched him anxiously while he finished cooking. He reached for the ketchup and almost started drawing a heart on his master's omelette and froze. He couldn't do something so arrogant when the man had clearly been distressed only moments ago.

He settled for drawing Saitama's face on his, as he'd done in the past to his amusement, and a toaster on his own. Things seemed fine, he hoped, taking off his apron before carrying out their plates and taking his place at the table.

"Looks good."

Saitama said before digging in. He was using the simple tactic of keeping his eyes on the perfect omelette instead of his disciple to placate his inner turmoil.

"Thank you, sensei."

Genos answered the same way he always accepted his sensei's compliments. Even so, he couldn't help but observe him for a moment longer. Whatever internal conflict he'd had that morning, it appeared to have vanished.

Yet something was still making him uneasy. He ate even though he didn't feel like it as to not arouse suspicion, pretending to watch the news until his master finished eating as well, eager to busy himself with washing the dishes.

Their routine had become so comfortable he'd never questioned it at all. He'd always just gone along with what his sensei said was best.

Before he could get up Saitama had already finished and gathered their plates to head to the kitchen. He had forgotten it was his turn that day and felt ridiculous for being so anxious about such a minor mistake. Evidently he'd made one that was far more critical that he'd yet to remedy.

He continued to stare at the TV, wondering what he should do next. Unable to come to terms with how to apologize he wished he'd never touched him. He couldn't cope with the guilt of hurting his master to the point that he would ignore him.

"Hey, uh. You ok?"

Saitama asked, now wearing jeans and a t-shirt. He'd somehow finished the dishes and gotten changed without him noticing.

"Yes, sensei."

Genos answered automatically, looking up at him from his place at the table. He hadn't moved an inch and must have gotten lost in thought for some time now.

"Let's go check out that sale."

Saitama offered, rubbing the back of his neck nervously.

Genos nodded, relieved he did still intended on making the sale. Quickly getting changed himself. He checked over his shoulder to see if his master was watching, but he was getting the reusable bags from the kitchen he'd suddenly insisted on using after seeing a powerful anti-plastic bag ad campaign on TV last month.

He soon followed his sensei out of their apartment. He couldn't help but feel stupid for thinking that anything would change between them just because they'd had sex. Just because he wanted more intimacy, didn't mean he deserved more.

Saitama glanced at him as they walked side by side, unnerved by how quiet his disciple was being. His eyes seemed transfixed ahead, unaware that he was even looking at him.

He kept wondering if he should say something, or do something, but it was all too stressful. The cyborg's expression was as impossible to read as always, but his lips, they. He caught himself staring at them and looked away. He couldn't let himself start thinking about things like that just because of one crazy dream.

Saitama decided that he should just enjoy the quiet for once, struggling to convince himself to forget about all that other stuff. They made it out of their abandoned neighborhood without a word, heading towards the grocery store in R-City.

He read over the flyer again to make sure he hadn't missed anything before stuffing it back in to his pocket. Despite his resolve, he couldn't stop thinking about how to bring up that morning, the dream, or whatever it had been, even though he couldn't.

He'd already decided not to. If anything, it certainly wasn't something to talk about in public. Still, he kept going over how to bring it up, failing miserably at thinking of anything else. It was starting to irritate him.

"Sensei, I believe this is the place."

Genos announced. He'd stopped at the door but his sensei had just kept walking.

"Huh?"

Saitama spun back around, looking up at the name of the store and sighed at himself.

"Right. Sorry."

He huffed, walking in and grabbing a basket only to find it caught on another. Struggling to detach them for a moment without breaking them he handed the second one to Genos.

Genos hadn't said anything. His master was practically pouting when he handed him the basket and the look of frustration on his face over such a minor inconvenience was both adorable and terrifying. He hated when he was upset with him, but it had never been this bad before.

Saitama looked over his shoulder to make sure no one else had seen him struggle with the baskets. Calming down from the sudden threat of complicated plastic objects attempting to ruin his life he moved on to start shopping.

He glanced back at Genos who was methodically scanning all the products to find the best deals as he'd taught him to do. He tried to avoid looking at him while he worried about keeping his thoughts straight.

Despite some awkward glances they silently made their way through the store. He realized that he didn't care about embarrassing himself in front of the younger man like when they'd first met. Sure he'd given up on making a good impression right around the time he'd been dubbed a fraud, but it was more than that.

His disciple had seen everything there was to see about him after all this time together. He couldn't help but wonder when he'd started to see him differently, and vice versa. That dream couldn't of just come from nowhere.

Saitama stared at the products, but he couldn't concentrate. When had everything changed from a tentative business engagement to something else entirely?

"Would another strawberry cream cake interest you, sensei? The strawberries are at a good price today."

Genos suggested tentatively after inspecting the state of freshness of said fruit.

"Ok."

Saitama answered plainly, moving on down the aisle.

Genos followed after depositing them with the basics he'd selected. He'd gotten so used to the task, but he'd never felt so out of place doing it before.

Of course things were hardly as exciting as when he'd first taught him the art of bargain shopping. He wondered if he should of suggested a different desert. Something new, but he didn't know much else that could be done with strawberries. All he knew for sure was that his sensei enjoyed them.

He wondered if that was part of the problem. The man was so easily bored of things, he shouldn't have suggested the same desert he'd already made. He suddenly worried that now that they'd gone all the way that there was no appeal to it anymore to him.

They finished the rest of their shopping in record time and Genos felt crushed. Without another word between them they continued on their way back from the supermarket. Passing several crowds of people who gesticulated at him, but he couldn't care to even look at them.

"I didn't know you had so many fans in R city."

Saitama commented in a bored tone, but he had nothing to say in response. The rate and quantity of fanmail they received had remained about average, although Saitama was starting to get more positive ones.

Nothing had changed with the way his master saw his fans. Not even his tone when it came to his own excessive admirers. It was only when remarks strayed to the man besides him that his eyes searched for the culprit.

"Who's he with anyways?"

Genos stopped and turned towards one person in a group that had just passed them by after failing to gain his attention.

"Don't you know?"

Genos asked, sarcastically.

The person froze and the rest of the group started nervously chattering.

"He responded! Demon Cyborg never talks to fans!"

"B-Class, rank 7!"

Genos gave them the answer, but they only stared back, confused.

"Caped Baldy."

He clarified impatiently.

"Who's that?"

They called back, followed by muffled laughter as they tried asking him different questions instead. Genos could feel his core whirling out of control, struggling to remain calm from the lack of respect.

"Let's just go, or the squid won't keep."

Saitama had put a hand on his arm just before he'd stepped towards the group. He knew he must have read his anger easily and he was embarrassed, dropping the issue immediately.

"Right, sensei."

He turned back with him and had entirely forgotten about the civilians that had dared speak in ignorance of his master because his hand was somehow still on his arm.

Genos couldn't tell if it was just because he didn't want him engaging those people further, or if it was more than that. His fingers had wrapped around his upper arm and even though he'd successfully guided him away, remained.

It took another moment but Saitama realized he'd still been holding his arm and quickly avoided the curious stare he'd received, lowering his hand immediately. He just didn't want to think about it.

Genos had to stop himself from catching his hand when he let go. He wanted to say something. Even just apologize for snapping at those fans, but he was too ashamed he'd wanted to hold his hand in public to say anything.

He could still feel where his fingers had brushed at his joints and over the soft material along his inner-arm. Even though his armor plating wasn't touch-sensitive, he could feel pressure if he was struck anywhere and was able to gauge if he was damaged. The only places he could really feel were his head and the black synthetic skin that lined the rest of his limbs.

He regretted staring and ruining the moment. He missed his touch and wished desperately that he'd of taken more time with him that morning. How he'd touched him during his maladroit attempts at pleasuring him were still so vivid in his mind, but it only left him feeling incredibly ignorant to have assumed he'd also want more intimacy when he'd never shown signs of it before.

They had made it all the way back to their deserted neighborhood when Saitama stopped suddenly. He was alarmed before realizing that he'd simply seen a cat and knelt down to try to pet it.

Genos had seen him do it a few times in the past, but he'd never found it so endearing before. He'd just assumed that the man liked animals, or at least cats, yet the way he was reaching out to this one had a gentle quality to it that he couldn't handle at the moment.

"It looks like it must have lost its owners. It’s so skinny."

Saitama commented after several moments of trying to reach the cat, finally getting to pet the animal even though it seemed scared and reluctant to engage.

"Shall we adopt it, sensei?"

Genos suggested, with a bit too much enthusiasm.

"We could call it Saitama Jr."

Genos continued, already imagining how beneficial a cat could be for his sensei. He’d even started researching top 10 reasons to have a house pet in preparation for some hesitation, not realizing how much the suggestion had soured his mood.

"No."

Saitama refused sharply and Genos was taken aback for a moment before he elaborated.

"I just meant that. Maybe we should get it food, or take it to a shelter, or something.."

Saitama said, albeit unsure by the end of it. He pet the cat for a moment longer before digging in to his shopping bag.

"I will look up shelters and their policies, sensei."

Genos assured, watching his master peel open a can of plain sardines that had also been on sale and place it on the ground for the stray.

Saitama gave the cat one more pet as it dipped in to the food before getting back up, resuming their walk back home.

"Several shelters in M-city and O-city would accept the cat, sensei. Shall we retrieve it after lunch and deliver it to them?"

Genos offered, hopeful for another excuse to stay busy instead of think of the mess he'd gotten himself in to. A monster attack would be better, but this would have to do.

"Ok."

Saitama agreed while looking back at the cat over his shoulder.

Chapter Text

They got back to the apartment and unloaded the bags on the kitchen counter as they always did together. Sorting all their purchases out to their proper places and usually, talking.

Genos found himself hesitating often. He couldn't bring himself to come within a certain proximity to the other man. Over-analyzing every gesture was disorienting him.

Lately they'd often bumped in to each other. Whether he'd been too focused on something, or if Saitama was particularly sleepy, and it had never been a question of discomfort before.

If anything, he wanted to touch him. To pull him close, just as he had that morning. It had been such a relief, but he couldn't bring himself to do it again.

He couldn't shake the realization that he'd imposed on him and felt like anything else between them would be as wrong. At this rate he knew he needed to apologize soon, otherwise he would regret it forever.

"What would you prefer for lunch, sensei?"

Genos asked as steadily as he could while fetching his apron. He managed to kept his distance in the limited space, placing the squid in the fridge while they decided what to cook.

"Dunno."

Saitama responded, still stacking some items on to a shelf. He'd looked back at him only for a second before seeing him tie his apron on and immediately wishing he hadn't looked at him again.

He bit his lower lip and turned back to the shelf. He was embarrassed he'd never noticed how charming he looked wearing it before. He started worrying that maybe he could of had feelings towards him for a while now and didn't want to believe he still wasn't sure if he'd already ruined everything or not.

"Grilled, or fried? Spicy or-"

Genos started questioning when Saitama didn't elaborate. It had always been easier to talk about things like food than anything else with his master. He hopped to narrow down the many choices when he cut him off.

"Whatever is fine."

Genos didn't know what to say. All he could do was move out of the way when Saitama finished putting everything away and turned towards him to go to the living room without looking at him.

It wasn't the first time he'd have to chose for him, but things were definitely different between them. He'd seen the older man close off like this before, avoiding eye-contact, and speaking plainly, but it had never lasted for very long and it was usually for obvious reasons.

He hesitated, wanting to follow him and confront him on their profound experience. Still, he couldn't think of what to say. Unnerved by the tension, all he could do was try and not observe him while he lounged about watching TV.

He settled on spicy, grilled, with vegetables, and a side of rice. Busying himself cooking was always enjoyable, but he feared not being able to diffuse their situation after all. He was far too terrified to talk about what had happened while he was so distant, and fear wasn't usually in his range of emotion.

Saitama laid about. He'd stopped paying attention to the TV moments after turning it on. There was nothing exciting going on anyways, there never was. He decided to move on to a manga instead.

He read so many he forgot which were released when sometimes. It didn't really matter since he didn't mind waiting to buy used copies. Even so, reading about an alien invasion was a lot less interesting after they'd just experienced one themselves.

Sighing he put the manga back down and glanced back at the TV, desperate to keep his thoughts occupied even though he found himself glancing back at him in the kitchen, hoping it was all in his imagination.

He couldn't stop thinking what it was about the younger man that could have corrupted his thoughts towards him to that point. Sure he'd always thought his body was cool, but when did cool become something else?

It couldn't be his body, he decided stubbornly. He changed it every other week anyways when he got in a scrap. That would just be crazy. How could he be attracted to something that changed all the time?

He tried not to picture every version of his body so far naked with great difficulty. There had to be another reason.

His voice. That was a better excuse, right? There was definitely an attractive quality to it, he reassured himself. But. it wasn't real? Wasn't it? He shifted uncomfortably again, changing the channel, more confused than before.

"Lunch is almost ready, sensei."

Genos called and his voice cemented his realization that he did enjoy the sound of it a great deal even though his tone sent a pang of guilt down to his stomach. He stared up at him for a moment again, at a loss before realizing he'd hesitate too long.

"Thanks."

Saitama answered despite the timing being terribly off. Something came over him the next instant and he got up to meet him in the kitchen. He'd wanted to say something all this time, but Genos only stared back at him, skillet in hand and wide-eyed.

He'd lost whatever courage he'd ran with. Unable to confront him he turned to boil some water and make tea instead. He could defeat anyone with a punch, but he couldn't handle one wet dream. He felt like an idiot rummaging through the tea cupboard.

Genos had to force himself to stop staring. He'd been so surprised he'd almost let the squid cook too long. Hesitantly preparing their plates he tried not to look at him even though he was soon ready to carry them out. He swallowed hard, anxiously waiting for him to say something.

When all his master did was get two cups while waiting for the water to boil he accepted that he must have misunderstood . He may as well be going crazy. Opting to move past him, he set the plates and chopsticks down on the table and sat waiting for him.

Saitama managed to calm down while picking out what tea to make before returning with the cups and pipping hot teapot moments later, setting them out as he sat back down. He then picked up his chopsticks and gave him a faint smile despite his resolve not to look at him.

"Looks great."

Saitama complimented and Genos couldn't help but smile back.

"Thank you, sensei."

He responded as easily as he always did, but he still hadn't found his appetite. He felt awful because he knew he couldn't back down from talking about it. Even so, his resolve vanished and lunch went by in as much as a daze as breakfast had.

Saitama regretted letting himself get caught up in the moment when he'd rushed to him earlier. After thinking about all those messed up things he thought he'd done or wanted to do to him. He couldn't trust his own impulses suddenly.

Even just his smile had him questioning himself again. He ate quickly, trying to figure out how to ask him if it had been real without really asking him. Persuading himself that there had to be a way to ask him so that if it had only been a dream, he wouldn't know what he was asking.

Relief washed over him as soon as Genos finished eating as well. Gathering up their plates he retreated to the kitchen to do the dishes again. He kept trying to think of a way to approach the subject but nothing came to him except frustration.

Frustration and incorrigible lust. He kept imagining Genos in various styles of aprons, and only the aprons. Getting turned on while doing the dishes certainly was a new one for him, and he hated it.

He couldn't believe himself. He blamed all the manga he read for the poor taste in aprons currently ruining his life. But above all, he couldn't believe he was really attracted to a cyborg, let alone a male cyborg.

Sure he hadn't thought he was in to guys. And it wasn't that he saw Genos as any less human, it was just, all the metal. And synthetic or not, he was still his disciple and far younger than him.

The panic that threatened to take control only made controlling his daydreaming harder. The guilt set in while he found himself praying Genos wouldn't come to the kitchen. He didn't know what he'd do if he saw him like this.

He had to stop thinking about him that way. It took some dedication to cool down. He'd never wanted a boner to go away faster before, but it took cleaning up the rest of the kitchen to cement the idea that he could never treat his live-in disciple that way.

He decided to boil more water for the tea, finally repressing his inconvenient fantasies enough to return to the table. He added more hot water to the teapot and refilled their cups, noticing that Genos had barely touched his and doing everything in his power to keep his eyes off him.

Genos was grateful his master decided to enjoy another cup with him despite their situation. Yet, he couldn't help but feel like his presence mattered little to him at this point. He wanted to say something, but all he could think to do was take a sip of tea.

It was so hard even to look at him anymore. Wishing he could caress his perfect skin again, or kiss those lips he knew he'd never forget the taste of. He realized he never should have if it meant he never would again.

He kept his eyes on the TV instead. All day he'd felt his core heating up and he could only hope he wouldn't notice. He'd been manually readjusting his baseclock settings to prevent himself from letting his core go in to overdrive and it made paying attention to much else difficult.

He couldn't let him see that he was having trouble containing himself just because of what happened between them. He'd put on a thicker, sleeveless of course, black sweater, knowing things wouldn't be easy after that strange morning. Even though he couldn't hide his arms easily, at least he couldn't see his core threatening to shortcircuit him.

"So.."

Saitama started, still avoiding eye-contact and awkwardly pausing.

"Yes, sensei?"

Genos asked, immediately setting his cup down. He had his full attention but the fact that he still wouldn't meet his gaze sent a chill down his artificial spine. He wasn't ready to face what he had to say. He didn't want to know why he'd failed him. He was too afraid of why he'd ignored him all morning.

"What-"

Saitama started and Genos cut him off.

"What of the skinny cat, sensei?"

Genos redirected the conversation nervously, leaning away in an effort to gain some control over the situation.

"What?"

Saitama felt his heart stop. He'd been just about to try to bring up the question he'd been agonizing over all morning and he interrupted him. He couldn't help but stare back in surprise before remembering he'd agreed to all that earlier, sighing at the hassle.

"Do you no longer wish to shelter the cat, sensei?"

Genos asked too steadily, unsure he'd even worded that correctly. It came off as indifferent and he wished he hadn't said anything else.

"Of course I do!"

Saitama shouted back, embarrassed that he always managed to overreact around him. It was the right thing to do, wasn't it? He couldn't adopt it, but he could do this.

Chapter Text

Saitama was irritated he'd cut him off. He'd worked up a lot of nerve to try to ask him about their uncertain personal discoveries. Even so, he easily guessed that a cat in need was more important than whatever he had been imagining all morning.

After being hand-picked to find a lost cat a few weeks ago he couldn't help but question his self-worth and how people at the Hero Association saw him. He even almost punched the ungrateful cat once he'd found it but this was different. It was partially his fault if it was homeless.

Genos could only feel relief that his diversion worked even if it had been cowardly of him. He didn't waste a moment once he'd re-confirmed their mission status, nodding before sharing his typical research.

"Good, sensei. Since last time the cat did not cooperate, I've been reading about the best practices for safe cat catching and sources confirm that the most effective way is to squish it. Either against the ground, or against one's body to carry it."

Genos was happy to be talking about anything at all. It felt like he'd finally been able to breathe for a second, until Saitama's disapproving gaze turned right back on him.

"What?! That can't be right. Where did you get that from?"

Saitama appeared distraught and Genos regretted not adding more detail vs. word count for once.

"Not.. crush the cat, sensei. It says a gentle squishing motion by pressing down on them is the best form of entrapment."

He explained calmly, demonstrating with both hands by pretending there was a cat at his knees.

"Like this, sensei."

Genos attempted to clarify but his master only looked more frustrated, getting up in a huff.

"Right! Of course. Gentle squishing! Who says that?"

Saitama walked past him while complaining before groaning and then adding under his breath.

"Let's just get this over with."

He grabbed his keys from the hallway and stuffed them in his pocket before putting his shoes on.

"Who? A veterinarian in Skakatoon, Canada, sensei."

Genos had started answering his question before realizing he intended to leave immediately, getting up to follow him in to the hallway.

"Who cares!"

Saitama snapped before stepping out of the apartment the next instant.

"Sensei?"

Genos called, but all he got in return was the door slamming shut. He was shaken, but he didn't have a second to spare. He couldn't let him down on their first mission after progressing in their relationship.

He slid his shoes on and hurried out the door after him. He'd fret about blaming himself for quoting inappropriate tutorials later.

Anytime he lost sight of the man recently he'd feel a pang of terror. He couldn't help but fear the worst; that his beloved master would go somewhere he couldn't follow again, like the moon. He hated being left behind.

Thankfully it hadn't been difficult to find him, dragging his feet down their block. Even so, the pain persisted when he'd reached his side. He thought he'd known all suffering by now, but the icy silence between them was a true feat. He seriously wondered how long he could withstand it while he followed him diligently down the street back to where they had encountered the cat earlier.

There was nothing to see, the can was empty and the cat was gone. Saitama eyed the road down on either side and saw no signs of it. Sighing he rubbed the back of his head. He was frustrated with how he'd acted all morning and the inevitable disappointment that he had no clue where to look for stray cats.

He just wanted to go back home. He knew they wouldn't have any luck from the start, but he'd wanted to try anyways. He never had any luck with animals unless it was to eat them.

That's when it dawned on him. They must all be weary of him because they sense that he's just some sort of predator. They must be able to tell how many many harmless animals he'd killed. He couldn't believe hunting had somehow changed him.

He let doubt creep in, worried about what he'd been doing to himself and his soul. And if that was true, then what about all the monster corpses he'd re-purposed? He couldn't believe what he was thinking. Dead monsters weren't magic, they couldn't make him a monster.

He wasn't sure about feeling like a monster, but he definitely felt like an idiot. Feeling guilty he turned back to Genos who had been waiting patiently for his next move, attempting to hold his gaze.

"Sorry."

Saitama said sincerely, rubbing his own arm.

"For what, sensei?"

Genos was surprised to say the least. They were on a mission. He'd never calculated he might try to bring things up again so soon.

"For snapping earlier, again."

Saitama explained calmly, glancing away momentarily before looking back up to see him walk past him. He'd had so much to say, conflicted on if he should even say anything at all. It felt like he'd towered over him in that instant, dismissing him just as he had.

"It's not a problem, sensei."

Genos said plainly, easy to forgive as always while he tracked several small heat signatures in the radius in order to complete their objective.

"Let's keep searching."

Genos offered and Saitama could only sigh in response, realizing he was only thinking of the mission. Still, he'd never wanted to argue more with the guy in his life. Of course yelling at him was a problem. But, he couldn't exactly yell at him to convince him of it.

It would have to wait, even though he felt that if he didn't make sure things were still as they'd always been between them that he'd do something he'd regret. The highs and lows were disorienting him and he wondered why he'd never questioned why he was the only person able to do this to him before.

He hadn't thought twice about if he was being rude to him when they'd first met. He wasn't exactly fond of most people, and he especially hated having to tolerate people in his space for too long, even relatives.

Somehow that had all changed with one person. He'd found him so odd at first. Sure he was intense, but he couldn't help from wondering what it felt like to give up your body entirely, even though he'd hardly felt anything in so long himself until now.

It hadn't taken long for him to see that the younger man felt on a grander scale than he ever could. He knew that all the praise he received was undeserved. He was the one who was admirable to give up everything in order to prevent another genocide.

It had been bothering him more recently, pretending to be a teacher, and so he'd been making an effort to be more considerate towards him. He hadn't expected to fall back on his resolve so fast. He felt incredibly cheap following him not even knowing where they stood anymore.

Genos came to a crossroads and turned back to him, studying his solemn expression for a moment hesitantly before indicating their options.

"There are several targets matching the size of the cat from earlier, sensei. Should we go north, west, or south?"

Saitama looked back at him when he had to make a choice. He hated relying on his shit luck. Shrugging he pointed west.

"This way, I guess."

Saitama mumbled, wishing he could get rid of the tension. Everything was so off he couldn't tell where to start. He knew there was no way he could be imagining all of this.

He'd never felt more conflicted in his life. He wanted to confront him but he couldn't muster the same courage as earlier. The thought that there might be a reason Genos didn't want to talk about that morning seized him instead.

They continued down the street until they spotted a cat in the distance, except it wasn't the same one. He could tell from the color, but it made off so quickly he couldn't even make out if it was alright or not.

"That one seemed fine."

Saitama said with little assurance.

"The next nearest one is this way, sensei."

Genos indicated without missing a beat. Refusing to let his master despair for even a moment he pressed on in the next direction.

Saitama followed sluggishly. He suspected that they'd be at this for a while. What were the odds they'd find the same cat again?

They made their way through the limits of their destroyed borough and Saitama couldn't help but be reminded of why parts of so many cities had been destroyed in the first place.

He was always too late. No one every told him anything. Even the meteor, Genos didn't call him. He'd only found out when they'd sounded the alarm.

He knew he'd told him to rank up, but if it was something that crazy, he should know, right? Like when those aliens attacked, it was just chance that he was invited that day with Bang and Genos.

Nothing big had happened since then. Sure a titan-sized pig monster, and a weird B-Class threatening him, but nothing that had wiped out another city. All things considered things had been pretty quiet since the aliens.

He kept glancing down every road they passed, following Genos' instructions. When he thought he saw another cat he dashed out to catch it, accidentally frightening it.

It dashed off and he lost sight of it. He hoped up on a ledge to get a better look at what direction it had fled in, but he couldn't tell.

Genos had been surprised by his sudden initiative, although quick to continue tracking their target. He ran past him, pointing in the direction the feline was heading.

"This way, sensei!"

Genos shouted and Saitama grinned. Maybe they did have a chance of finding it again.

"Left!"

Genos instructed when Saitama had come to a crossroads ahead of him and still didn't see it. He was happy to see he was serious about catching the cat, hoping a small victory would help alleviate the precarious mood.

Saitama followed his directions and caught glimpse of the cat rushing in to an alley. They managed to corner it and before it could escape, he knelt down to make sure he'd be able to catch it. Pausing for a moment while the cat desperately looked around them for a way out.

"It's not the same one."

Saitama stated sorely.

"Isn't it?"

Genos asked, except it was more of a whisper since he really couldn't tell. He hadn't paid that much attention to the original cat they'd crossed paths with besides it's size. He was always so focused on his master he had forgotten so many crucial details to ensure the success of their mission.

Saitama was annoyed it was the same color as the other cat, but he couldn't tell if it was fine to let it go. It didn't have a collar either, but it wasn't dirty or scratched up, and it didn't look that skinny either. When he stood up the cat zoomed past them, disappearing back down the alley.

"Oh well. We tried."

Saitama muttered, turning to go.

"The next target is only 4 km north of here, sensei."

Genos insisted and his master sighed in response, crossing his arms.

"Even if we catch it. How are we going to get it all the way to M-City?

Saitama questioned and Genos took a quick look around the alley, grabbing the sturdiest discarded box he could locate.

"The tutorials also suggested using a carrier or a box, sensei"

Genos offered simply.

"Good idea."

Saitama conceded, following him out of the alley. He didn't know why Genos was so invested in saving that cat when it had been his idea in the first place, but maybe that was part of why. He was just terribly confused.

Genos guided them down abandoned streets, carrying the box under his arm casually. He kept wondering what justification he could give for bringing the cat back to their home instead of the shelter once they'd locate it.

"There it is!"

Saitama exclaimed when suddenly he saw it again. It was crossing the road ahead of them and stopped when it heard him shouting. He crept forward, but as soon as it had seen them it ran off, forcing them to chase it down.

He easily cornered it, lifting the animal carefully while Genos readily held the box open. Despite it's condition the cat started scratching and trying to wiggle itself out of his grasp while Saitama struggled to calm it down.

Genos could only watch in horror at the injustice his master was faced with. It even bit his hand while he placed it gently in to the box. He knew that something that size couldn't harm him, yet it looked like it had.

As soon as he'd secured the box, he was surprised to see Saitama had also placed his hands on it to make sure it wouldn't escape, brushing up against his hands, both holding the box cautiously between them.

Genos immediately reached out with one hand for the one it had bitten, attempting to inspect the damage while Saitama froze at the touch.

"Are you okay, sensei?"

Genos asked, turning his hand over just to be safe, but there were no signs of bites or scratches. Saitama then nervously pulled his hand away, letting him handle the box.

"I'm fine."

Saitama mumble back and he felt ridiculous for worrying over such a small incident. His master had withstood the greatest beings on this planet, even from across the universe, and had come out with less than a few bruises.

Confused and distressed meowing began from the box. He watched Saitama give it another concerned look before trying to figure out which way they needed to go next to get to the shelter.

Genos was embarrassed he'd judged the situation solely from the look on his face and let himself get carried away like that. Even so, he couldn't help but wonder if he cared more about how the animal reacted towards him than he let on.

"Are you sure you do not wish to adopt Saitama Jr, sensei?"

Genos asked, holding the box carefully while they made their way towards M-City.

"I'm sure. And stop calling it that!"

Saitama yelled back, saying one thing, but the way he hung his head next left him worrying. He hated speaking against his master's wishes, but he'd already invested himself in understanding his complicated interests.

Ever since he'd seen him jump in front of a truck once for what he thought had been a cat, he started to wonder if there was more to them. It appeared that he'd cared more about the possibility of an animal's death than the truck driver's.

Luckily the airbag deployed correctly and since he'd lifted the truck up so quickly after impact with his master, it prevented a pileup from the next few vehicles. Even if the driver made it out of it with only a few cuts and a sprain, it could have been worse.

He was having trouble wrapping his head around why he'd refused his proposition to adopt. The cat continued to meow lamentably and Genos could only hope to figure it out before they made it to the shelter.

"May I ask why, sensei?"

Genos pressed, desperate for any clues, but the man merely glanced back at him with the same frustration as earlier.

"You may not."

Saitama shut him down and he could only follow dejectedly, holding the box close to his chest, wishing he knew what to say.

Chapter Text

They'd made it all the way to M-City and easily found the shelter they were looking for, but something still didn't feel right.

"Sensei, wait."

Genos pleaded, stopping in front of the building as soon as they'd reached it

"What is it?"

Saitama turned back to him, confused, albeit still staring at the box instead of him. The meowing had subsided but he knew the cat probably wanted to get this over with too.

"Is it because of me, sensei?"

Genos voice was low and Saitama had to move closer just to hear him on the busy sidewalk.

"What?"

He asked, looking up at him for an instant before staring back down at the box.

"Why you don't want to adopt, is it my fault, sensei?"

"No."

Saitama corrected dryly before adding.

"Of course not."

He then reached to take the box out of his arms, impatient to complete the task.

"If you require space for the cat, I can move out, sensei."

Genos offered, watching him freeze once he'd taken the box from him. He knew it wasn't his place to insist on what he should do, but he couldn't help blaming himself for his apprehension.

"You want to move out?"

Saitama asked, but the tone in his voice indicated he'd misunderstood his offer.

"No, sensei. I would never want to."

Genos corrected quickly.

"I just thought it might be a factor. I don't want to hold you back from any opportunities that you may be considering."

Genos brought his hands up to his strong arms holding their precious cargo. He had only wanted to reassure him, but Saitama looked back down at the box as soon as he'd touched him.

"I only meant that it's up to you, sensei. I know you are adverse to feeling cramped, but cats are small, and I could move temporarily. Or we could relocate to a larger unit.. I don't mind covering the cost difference, Saitama-sama."

Saitama still hadn't looked back at him and he felt he'd made a grave mistake again. Mostly because he was always letting himself get carried away, trying to make decisions for the other man. But also because he kept addressing him that way against his wishes like an incorrigible bastard. He just wanted what was best for him, but obviously this wasn't it.

He'd lost his train of thought, staring down at his flustered master when he saw him suddenly look up and stare past him. He'd been trying so hard to read his reaction to fix things that when he saw King standing a few feet away, staring at them, all he could do was let go of his master's arms and crossed his own immediately.

"Am I interrupting?"

King asked with a glacial stare despite his confusion as to why the two heroes were huddled over a box in his district. It looked like Genos was upset and he knew that couldn't be a good sign.

"Huh?"

Saitama stared back in confusion before glancing up at Genos besides him who looked incredibly upset their conversation had in fact been interrupted. He sighed and looked down at the box in his arms, explaining quickly.

"Just dropping this runt we found off at the shelter."

Saitama said and King's expression quickly changed, stepping closer to see. He opened the box just enough for the tall man to peer in to.

"Oh, a cat."

King commented, looking up at the shelter next. It was on the way from his favorite manga shop and he'd never noticed it before.

"Why don't you keep it?"

He asked , but as soon as he had he saw Genos' eyes shoot back to his master's face expectantly.

"Nah. Too much trouble."

Saitama shrugged, staring down at the box when the cat started lamenting again.

"Looks like you're not sure."

King commented and Genos gave him a sharp nod in agreement.

"Huh?"

Saitama eyed the both of them suspiciously before turning back to the shelter.

"No, I'm sure."

He clarified, irritated that King had taken Genos' side somehow. He turned back towards the shelter only to be stopped again.

"Hold on."

King called, tucking the latest volume he'd purchased under his arm before reaching out for the box.

"I'll take it."

King decided and Genos thought he was going have a heart attack. Just because he was well respected S-Class didn't mean the man could just take the cat his master intended to give away.

"What?"

Saitama and Genos both asked.

"I've never had a pet before. Could be fun."

King justified plainly, although his heart started racing again from the look Genos was giving him.

"Oh, ok."

Saitama commented before handing over the box to him and Genos had to remind himself that sometimes he got unjustifiably angry on behalf of his master. It was best to let him decide what to do right now.

"Besides, this way if you change your mind, you'll know where to find it."

King offered and Genos immediately dropped his guard. He couldn't believe how kind he was being. He knew Saitama enjoyed his company and that they trained recklessly at different types of games, but he had no idea the other hero would be willing to go this far for his sake.

"I won't!"

Saitama was quick to correct the tall man, stuffing his hands back in his pockets.

"If you take it, you're stuck with it man."

Saitama warned him.

"If you say so."

King added, looking down at the box when the cat started meowing again.

"I'll take care of it. Drop by whenever you guys want."

King offered before turning to go. Genos wanted to say something to the man, but he wasn't quite sure what. Saitama had already turned to leave himself, except Genos followed King instead impulsively.

"We named it Saitama Jr."

He announced awkwardly as soon as he reached his side, but King simply stared down at him, too afraid even to blink.

"Really?"

King finally managed and to his relief Genos nodded and thanked him before jogging off in the other direction back to his teacher.

When he caught up with him he could tell that he was still upset. His hands in fists his pockets while staring at the ground. He wanted to say something positive, something thankful, or anything at all even. Struggling to organize his thoughts through so much compound anxiety he chose the wrong direction.

"I didn't realize you and King were that close, sensei."

Genos said, falling back not to see his reaction, regretting his own statement. He didn't want to sound jealous, yet he'd felt far too transparent.

"What?"

Saitama questioned, glancing back at him, but it had been too quick for him to tell what he was thinking.

"It's just nice, of him to do something like that for you."

Genos attempted to correct himself, screaming internally.

"I don't know what he was going on about. If he wants the cat then whatever."

Saitama minimized the situation as best he could. He didn't care what King did, and he couldn't grasp that Genos could be jealous of a man like that in the first place.

"My apologies, sensei."

Genos apologized. He felt ridiculous for always letting himself say inappropriate things without thinking. From what he'd seen of the mysterious hero's interests, Saitama didn't exactly appear to be his type.

Saitama was irritated by the thought of Genos thinking he'd think of anyone else that way when he was the only person he'd ever wanted that way. He still didn't know what had really happened and he felt lost again.

"I'm not close to anyone."

Saitama admitted only moments later without breaking his stride. Genos however, felt his core threaten to shut off at the same instant. Losing power to his knees first, he felt like he was about to fall before freezing at his next words.

"Except you."

Saitama added after realizing he hadn't been entirely accurate. He looked back over his shoulder timidly when he hadn't received a response, only to see the cyborg standing several feet back on the verge of tears.

"Uhh.."

Saitama tried to correct himself but struggled, unsure how exactly to tone a statement like that down. He walked back towards him before hesitating and rubbing the back of his head instead. He couldn't help but feel self-conscious with all the people still walking past them.

"I'm just so honored, Saitama-sama."

Genos finally choked up, regaining his strength enough to take a step back towards him.

"Well don't be."

Saitama retorted, turning back as soon as he realized he was blushing profusely, eager to get back home.

"And I told you not to call me that."

Saitama added after a moment of pouting, doing his best to avoid the younger man's stare when he rejoined his side.

"It's a privilege to be close to you, sensei."

Genos said fondly.

"Didn't we talk about buttering me up?"

Saitama asked, irritated, but tried to soften his tone instead.

"Besides, it should be the other way around."

Saitama argued anxiously, hoping they'd make it back through all these other cities to their own quickly.

"What do you mean, sensei? I've accomplished nothing as your disciple yet."

Genos was ashamed he'd suggest he deserved his praise. He knew his sensei hated being complimented, especially in public, but he just hadn't been able to help it. Even so, he didn't know why he'd suddenly question their status.

"Maybe, but you're like 3rd in popularity polls, and stuff.."

Saitama hated bringing the stupid polls up, but he'd checked yesterday and it was still bothering him evidently.

"2nd, actually."

Genos corrected, after fact-checking automatically.

"Wow, all the way up there with Amai Mask. You should face off or something."

Saitama said sarcastically, letting his unease get the best of him.

"What do you intend, sensei? It would be useless to engage someone with a lower hero ranking in combat, even for publicity."

Genos was at a loss, worrying if this was some sort of warning that he did have competition for his attentions.

"Nothing."

Saitama pushed the subject away, exasperated that he'd managed to make things worse.

"If you wish for me to beat that jerk down I will, sensei. It is not my place to question your desires."

Genos naively attempted to regain his favor but Saitama only looked more irritated.

"What desires!"

Saitama snapped back with little composure. He caught himself raising his tone again and focused on the way home instead, feeling lower than ever.

"Look. I just meant, like a product contest, or something. Not a real fight. Why would I want you to fight another hero?"

Saitama clarified. He felt like he'd owed him an explanation for getting angry again, even though Genos really needed to dial it down.

Genos only felt ashamed he'd misunderstood. It was the second time he'd assumed the worse about his master's intentions, just as he had at the onsen with the Zombieman incident.

"My apologies, sensei."

He apologize again, but his master only pouted the rest of their way home.

"I know I said get in to the top 10 of S-Class, but you need to chill a little."

Saitama said suddenly, when they crossed in to their abandoned borough.

Genos didn't know what to say. He always considered that he was correct, but it wasn't the first time he'd told him to tone it down and he knew it wasn't a good thing. It was almost dinner time now. Thankfully their mission had taken up a good chunk of the day, but even though their goal had been attained, the cat was fostered, he still felt as if he'd failed.

Things felt worse than before when they finally reached their apartment again. Genos found himself anxiously tidying up the apartment even though nothing was out of place.

Saitama gave him a few questionable glances, but he hadn't noticed. Watching him rearrange their few possessions while he attempted to play a game was getting on his nerves, but really he just felt guilty for telling him to chill out when evidently he couldn't.

"Genos."

Saitama started, turning his handheld console off and setting it down.

"Yes, sensei?"

Genos called absently, returning from the hallway where he'd moved on to rearranging their shoes.

"Have you thought of what you want for supper, sensei?"

Genos questioned first, nervously standing in the doorway to the hall.

"No, not yet."

Saitama answered and Genos looked around, trying to think of something else to say to stall or redirect the conversation.

"Sit."

Saitama said, although it came off more as an order when Genos did so in such an automatic fashion, kneeling before him hastily.

"I should of asked this morning."

Saitama started, nervously shifting to lean back, trying to appear calm. He'd finally settled on a question and there was no backing down now.

"Was it your first time?"

Genos struggled to meet his eyes. He thought facing what had happened would allow him to fix everything. Instead he was acutely aware of how complicated he'd made things. He clenched his fists resting on his knees, feeling light-headed.

"When would I have ever.."

Genos started, besides himself from the direct question. He'd already told him everything. After the eradication of his city he'd began his augmentation surgeries to become a cyborg at 15 and had been fighting ever since.

"I'm sorry."

Saitama apologized immediately, feeling guilty for even asking. He could have picked any other question, but he still couldn't believe that what he'd thought had been a fever-dream had been real, or at least, some parts must have been.

"No, sensei. Don't be."

Genos crawled forward when he saw his master lower his head further despite his reassurances, reaching for his face while leaning on one arm.

"Genos.."

Saitama started again, only looking up when he felt fingers caress his cheek. Surprised by how close he'd gotten, all he could do was avoid his eyes.

"We really?"

He questioned, at a loss for thoughts when Genos was staring right through him, sliding his hand down to the back of his neck next to pull him closer.

"If you wish, I can remind you, sensei."

Genos said, studying his face expectantly. He felt awful for suggesting, but he wanted him so much again. He just wanted to pretend that whatever they'd suffered through hadn't happened.

Saitama could only stare back. He recognized that look. He'd seen it before, but now he finally understood that look. He felt like he was gravitating towards it, but truly his disciple had.

Genos met his lips gently. He was surprised by how stiff he was at first and was about to pull away to apologize for being too forward again when he slowly felt him lean in, kissing him back.

When his tongue slid over his bottom lip he willingly let him back in. Tasting his warm synthetic saliva again reminded him of exactly how good that morning had been, even if he still had no idea how it had started.

Genos moaned eagerly in to their kiss when he was granted passage. He was more than ready to forget about how agonizing their distance had been and relish in pleasuring him once more.

Saitama loved the sound of his soft moans while their tongues did inexplicable things. The next thing he knew his other hand was on his thigh, leaning in further to kiss him deeply.

He felt the need to touch him, but when his fingertips met his rigid frame he was rudely reminded he had no idea what he was doing. Despite how good the kiss felt, he found himself pulling back in doubt.

"Wait, hold on."

Saitama interjected, attempting to collect his thoughts even though all he could think of was how attractive his still parted lips were. He felt weak. He was flustered that he'd let him come on to him so easily without even knowing what he wanted himself.

"What's wrong, sensei?"

Genos asked calmly. His bright eyes blinked back at him in confusion since breaking the kiss, self-consciously taking his hands off him next and holding them in his lap stiffly.

"Nothing. I mean, I don't know."

Saitama avoided nervously before regaining his resolve.

"How did it start?"

Saitama asked simply but Genos only stared back.

"I didn't just push myself on you, or-"

Saitama elaborated with great effort, turning redder by the second as Genos smiled at the thought before lowering his head in shame.

"No, sensei."

Genos said reluctantly, finally realizing where this was going and that he couldn't put it off any longer.

"I can't, really remember."

Saitama was embarrassed to admit it, but he needed to know. He wanted to tell him how much he'd enjoyed it, even though he knew he shouldn't. He struggled with the fact that Genos had been ready to get right back to it and how much it was turning him on.

"I."

Genos started, moving back further, returning to seiza.

"I kissed you first, sensei."

He admitted and Saitama leaned lazily to one side to think, trying hard to remember.

"While you were still asleep, sensei."

Genos admitted, bowing in shame.

"I'm sorry. I never expected to do such a thing, sensei."

Genos apologized immediately following his mortifying admission, lowering his body further to pray for his forgiveness as silence took over.

"You came on to me while I was sleeping?"

Saitama questioned after a long time. He couldn't believe it. It all sort of made sense now, even though he wished he could stop picturing how good his mouth all over his skin had felt.

"I'll accept any punishment, sensei. It was not my place to be so forward, Saitama-sama. Please forgive me."

Genos continued to plead, even though hearing his own voice crack up was never a good sign.

"I'm not going to punish you! Stop talking like that!"

Saitama left his daydreaming and shock aside to snap at him for always exaggerating his authority. He turned away to hold his head in his hands for a second to steady his resolve.

"I'm supposed to be your teacher. How could you think that way?"

Saitama scolded, albeit poorly, getting up the next instant and pacing across their impressively small living area.

"I don't even know why I was so in to it."

Saitama denied, disillusioned from stress.

"How long have you thought that way? What got in to you?"

Saitama finally remembered his question from that morning, and how the younger man had arrogantly taken him in to his mouth instead of answering.

"I don't know, sensei. You looked so.."

Genos began, wishing he could fix his mistakes, but he understood exactly to what extent he'd broken his trust. He couldn't bring himself to make any more excuses, crushed with dishonor he couldn't continue.

"So what? You see me every day for fucks sake!"

Saitama groaned from frustration at himself for snapping again. Unable to filter his emotions when he'd thought he'd done something unforgivable all day, even though he wasn't sure if the opposite was.

Panicking, his mind spiraled to every other reason they shouldn't be engaging in intimate acts. He couldn't entertain the idea when he didn't know anything about what he wanted.

"I don't even know your real name."

Saitama stopped pacing at his own admission.

"I'm sorry, sensei."

Genos began, struggling to control his voice from cutting out.

"I've told you everything else. I'll never keep anything else from you, sensei. It isn't important anymore."

He tried to clarify shakily, but he could tell he was still upset.

"It is to me."

Saitama said dryly.

"You can call me anything you wish but that name is dead to me now. Please forgive my continual insolence, master."

Genos begged, but lifted his head when he detected the man had suddenly walked away. He followed only to see he'd already put his shoes on and was reaching for his keys next.

"Where are you going?"

Genos asked, alarmed by his imminent departure.

"For a run."

Saitama announced, only giving him an apprehensive look before leaving.

Chapter Text

Genos watched his master step out and close the door behind him without another word. Unable to resolve the issue at hand he was left standing in the hallway crying for a long time.

He didn’t know what he should of done or said differently to avoid this outcome. All he knew is that he couldn’t lie to him. He deserved better than what he’d been able to provide so far and he knew if he kept twisting things in his favor that he’d never forgive himself.

He regretted failing him in ways he never should have thought he had the right to attempt. He knew that he’d ruined any hopes of learning the secret to his power and that he’d surely expel him. He’d just have to get stronger another way. Except it wasn’t having to return to his doomed to fail mission that scared him, it was never being forgiven by the man he adored for what he’d done.

He’d never known failure to be this painful before. He knew he’d never give up on his and Dr. Kuseno’s goal to stop the mad cyborg. He just still wasn’t strong enough. Nothing had changed in his performance despite his training and the doctor’s continued efforts to develop new weaponry for his body.

He almost didn’t believe he’d been naive enough to think he’d come anywhere near attaining the power it would take to defeat the mass murdering psychopath he’d set out to incinerate so long ago. He hated feeling sorry for himself, but even so, he felt incredibly weak.

Kneeling in the hall, staring at the door, he didn’t know why he hadn’t eagerly offered his dead-name as he had everything else to the man. He barely remembered what his human body had been like. All he could remember was the pain, dragging himself through a ruined city looking for his family.

Guilt overwhelmed him, even though he’d been clear about his appearance meaning absolutely nothing multiple times, he couldn’t help but feel like he’d mislead him. None of who he was before meant anything anymore and he couldn’t bring himself to dredge up such suffocating agony simply to placate his curiosity when he had to accept he may stop being his master altogether.

He could only wonder why he’d been so desperate for a teacher after wandering alone for so long. Staring at the pool of oil that had drained from his eyes to the floor made him realize just how inconvenient he’d become. Eventually pulling himself from the ground to clean up.

Feeling frail and unhinged was torment enough, he didn’t need to bring more dishonor on to himself by crying in front of his soon to be former master. He didn’t deserve anything from him, especially not his affection, and he wasn’t about to ruin his floor in addition to everything else he'd screwed up.

While meticulously scrubbing the wood floor he briefly searched master-student relationships and wanted to ram his head through the floorboards when he understood that on top of failing to respect his authority entirely, the practice was widely frowned upon. Even though ultimately he didn’t care what people thought of them, he hadn’t imagined the position he’d placed him in.

There had only been one thing he’d been intoxicated with for so long. When it would happen. He hadn’t realized he’d been so sorely under-prepared as more tears threatened to overflow. He wanted nothing more than to set them on fire despite the significant risk of internal-combustion and consequently self-destruction.

He didn’t want to be a burden, and he certainly didn’t want his farewell to be blowing up his apartment. He washed up again and returned to the living room to wait. He couldn’t let him see how difficult all this was for him just because he was his first. He refused to push any of what he was feeling on to him anymore. He just needed to figure out how to dismiss himself respectfully.

Saitama ran as fast as he could through deserted streets. He knew all the areas that were still destroyed and chose them over the chance of running in to anyone else he knew. He just couldn’t shake the feeling that everything was going terribly wrong.

He didn’t want to handle anything except running. Except that with the distance he was covering he inevitably came across a few monsters. Even if he was clearly preoccupied and not wearing his suit he punched them anyways.

He’d been trying to convince himself he was a professional hero lately, but that wasn’t true. He still felt like it was just a hobby. Nothing he ever pursued made him happy, nothing until that strange guy asked to be his disciple.

He thought running would clear his head, but all it did was the opposite. Thinking every detail over and over made him worry he was doing everything wrong. That’s why he’d walked out again. He used to be the type to walk away at the slightest inconvenience until he became a hero.

He couldn’t bear to think of the ethics of what he’d done anymore. It was real and he couldn’t keep up the charade of being his teacher anymore. He wasn’t exactly sure how Genos would react to the bottom line, but he had to accept he had nothing to teach him anyways.

It was over an hour later before Saitama returned home. He’d finally worked up the nerve to face the nature of their conversation again, but to his surprise Genos hadn’t greeted him when he entered the apartment. He took off his shoes and hurried to the edge of the living room, worried he’d left while he was out, but Genos was sitting in his usually spot staring straight ahead.

“Genos?”

Saitama called when he didn’t move, not even to look at him.

“Genos, are you ok?”

He urged again, alarmed by his absent state he stepped forward and placed a hand on his shoulder only to flinch when he responded immediately.

“Welcome home, sensei.”

Genos greeted, looking up at him as if he’d just walked in to the room. All he saw was confusion on the other man’s face and he blinked, realizing he’d failed to greet him sooner.

Saitama sighed in relief, choosing not to worry too much about it and promptly removed his hand. He took a step back but hesitated to speak again when he noticed his face was streaked from oil residue. He’d been crying while he was out and had done a poor job of cleaning it off.

He felt horrendous for hurting him, forcing himself to sit in front of him to steady himself enough to speak. He didn’t know what to do about how hard all of this was, wishing he was still out running, but it wasn’t right to delay the inevitable any longer.

Genos was worrying about his escalating accumulation of malfunctions. He rarely froze that way anymore. He’d thought it was behind him, but when he was overwhelmed with a problem, or a challenge, he tended to focus on it to the point that he lost all connection with his surroundings. It wasn't exactly the risk you'd want to bring to battle. And it wasn't what he should be subjugating anyone else to.

“I’ve dishonored you, sensei.”

Genos started gravely, causing Saitama to flinch again before looking back up at him.

“I know there’s nothing I can do to make up for what I've done, but please forgive me, sensei.”

Genos begged, staring at him as oil pooled in his dim eyes.

“It’s fine.”

Saitama attempted to placate but Genos only continued pleading.

“Please, sensei. It’s clear that it isn’t fine. I have no justification for doing anything without your explicit blessing. I’m sorry, Saitama-sama. I’m sorry. It’s unforgivable.”

The more he apologized the lower he bowed, gritting his teeth not to let himself spill anymore tears.

“I forgive you.”

Saitama forced, eager to get on with the conversation.

“You-”

Genos started, but was clearly at a loss after looking back up at him.

“I do."

Saitama insisted and Genos could only stare back, fighting himself not to ask why or how.

"But, now that that’s clear, we can’t keep doing this.”

Saitama clarified quickly and Genos could only feel a sharper pain overtake him. An agony that had no specific destination, it encompassed him to a point that he didn’t know how he’d lost his senses once again.

Saitama’s look progressed from neutral, to somber, to worried the longer the younger man failed to respond. He knew this was hard, but he hadn’t expected things to be so complicated.

“And I'm sorry about what I said earlier. You don’t owe me any information on your past, master or not.”

Saitama attempted to backtrack, to re-evaluate what had happened before things became unmanageable, realizing that none of this was getting through to him. He leaned in closer to confirm that his dim eyes weren’t focused on anything anymore.

“Look, I don’t know why I got that upset earlier. I just needed to clear my head. I don’t want to make this any harder than it already is.”

He wanted to reach out to him, anything that would make him see that he wasn’t angry with him anymore, but he felt too guilty to resort to stirring a response from him.

It felt like he’d vanished again, staring down at his hands. He didn’t want to force the conversation but at least he’d said what he needed to. He decided Genos just needed some time to get through it and taking a break was fine.

“We don’t have to talk about everything right now, and I wreak so I’m going to go take a shower. Just, don’t go anywhere.”

Saitama said, trying to make light of the situation as best he could before stepping away. Soaked in sweat from his run and self-conscious that he he was still handling everything poorly, he quickly grabbed a change of clothes and a towel before retreating to the bathroom.

He didn’t usually sweat that much during that short of a run, but he’d ended up over doing it and everything that had happened today was unsettling him. He didn’t even know how far he’d ran before running back to mess this all up even more.

He showered quickly, trying to wake himself up from a haze of failure with cold water. When he walked back in to the living room he braced himself for the worst, but Genos appeared to be alert once more. He sat back down in front of him and they stared at each other in silence for some time.

He worried he should of seen all of it coming and felt incredibly naive for not being able to tell the difference between admiration and obsession. He wondered if he should admit that it had been his first time as well, losing track of the goal of the conversation momentarily.

Even though he had to say something he found himself thinking of all those awful suspense and horror movies he’d been watching around the time they first met that were about psychopaths forcing themselves on to unsuspecting people and their lives and he worried he’d made a similar mistake.

He knew it wasn't possible that Genos would try to murder him for expelling him, but he had to steady himself not to panic, especially when Genos continued staring back patiently. He wasn’t sure why he’d even enjoyed everything they’d done so much when he felt like he’d failed some sort of cosmic morality clause.

Genos looked away suddenly when he picked up on his distress, staring down at his own hands in his lap. Saitama knew he had no choice but to try and start the conversation again. Swallowing hard he tried to remain neutral.

“We have to talk about this.”

Saitama insisted.

“Yes, sensei.”

Genos agreed, glancing back up at him only to see that Saitama had already crossed his arms to assure himself through his next words.

“When I said this, I meant all this. I can’t.”

Saitama elaborated but Genos’ eyes only lowered again.

“Please, sensei. I still have so much t-.”

Genos begged shamelessly.

“I can’t be your teacher anymore.”

Saitama interrupted plainly, but the serious look on his face made his intentions clear.

“Sensei, y-”

Genos started shakily, knowing all too well he had no way of changing his mind when he interrupted again.

“Stop calling me that. I never was.”

Saitama corrected immediately, the apathy in his voice turning in to something else.

“Don’t say that.”

Genos struggled to control his voice. He could barely recognize his own guilt through the pain that had taken it’s place. All he knew is that he couldn’t continue to contradict him like this.

“You knew since Kabuto I had nothing to offer, but you still decided I had some secret. I don’t even know why I went along with it.”

Saitama felt obligated to give his side of things, but regretted his words when all he could do was watch the younger man fight back tears.

“I understand.”

Genos gave up, getting up he walked to the closet to get his bag.

“I didn’t say get up and go!”

Saitama snapped, crumbling after only a few seconds of watching him pack. He got up in protest but Genos had already turned back to him.

“I’m no longer your student. I’ll be out of your way.”

Genos' voice was low and he'd just as soon turned back to finish packing before shutting the closet and moving on in to the hallway. He didn’t own very many things and had already gathered most of them.

“I told you from the start there was nothing I could teach you. You wouldn’t believe me.”

Saitama justified, following him down the hall.

“I’ve learned so much under your tutelage, Saita-”

Genos started, but stopped before he could finish because he realized he had no idea how to address him properly anymore. There was nothing left that was proper between them and the look on his face told him he didn’t want him to keep talking either way.

“You’re always exaggerating!”

Saitama shouted back, letting his own anxiety get the best of him again. He struggled to steady himself, trying to stay calm, to be reasonable. He couldn't remember the last time anything had ever felt so important to him.

“Listen, just because I can’t help doesn’t mean no one can. You need a good teacher. I’ve been thinking lately, about how you get pretty mangled up in fights. What if you tried some self-defense training? With an actual teacher?”

Saitama hesitantly proposed what he’d had in mind but Genos only stared down at him, his expression clearer than it had been all day.

“I don’t need self-defense, I need power!”

Genos argued as he had before, rarely leaving his anger unchecked. He'd been obsessed with getting stronger for so long, and even though he'd briefly been interested in magic, he found himself doubting his quest for strength. All he could do was turn to go.

“Fine.”

Saitama gave in, but he didn’t want him to go. Standing immobile watching him move towards the door he felt powerless for the first time in too long.

“Wait, Genos. This isn't fair.”

Saitama tried instead and Genos looked back over his shoulder, waiting.

“You usually hear me out.”

Saitama complained openly.

“You’re right.”

Genos conceded, turning to face him once more.

“Go on, Saitama..san.”

Genos added anxiously, unable to take in how calm his former master was despite everything falling apart.

“I just thought that a better suited teacher in evasion would be good for you. You’ve seen me in combat, I’m wide open. I used to get messed up a lot too, but then I got strong. I don't have some secret and when it comes to fast teachers obviously that Sonic kid isn’t qualified to mentor anyone either, but I was thinking maybe someone like Bang could give you some pointers.”

Saitama explained in a hurry, clearly stressed by his own rambling.

“Bang has nothing to teach me. You’d agreed in the past, Saitama-san.”

Genos refuted easily, turning to leave once he'd heard him out.

“Yeah, but-”

Saitama tried again but Genos’ look back at him had him frozen.

“I don’t need it.”

Genos stated coldly before reaching for the door.

“Is this it?”

Saitama asked plainly, but he didn’t bother to turn back again. Genos knew there was nothing else to say, so he conceded.

“You said you can't teach me anymore.”

“Right.”

Saitama confirmed, surprised by how low and distant Genos' voice was.

“I’m sorry my dedication to you wasn’t enough to prevent me from what I’ve done. I understand why you no longer want me as your disciple.”

Genos’ words hung somber for a moment before he reached for the handle, opening the door.

“Bye?”

Saitama attempted, at a loss from the awful tone their affairs had ended on. Watching him leave without a goodbye had him questioning all his decisions again. Staring at the door, he experienced more suffering than he’d ever felt from any adversary. Clutching his chest he knew he'd made a mistake, but he couldn't bring himself to go after him.

The pain wasn’t something he could isolate. All he felt was that he’d ruined everything they had. He turned on a dime and walked back in to the living room, unable to stop asking himself the same question over again. Was this really it? He thought he’d tried to do the right thing, but nothing ever seemed to work out for him.

Chapter Text

Saitama was used to things not working out quite right by now. He had an average family, but they weren't close. He'd graduated, but could never hold down a job. He became a hero, but no one knew who he was.

He'd fallen in love, but realized it too late. He knew he'd made a mistake letting him go so suddenly, yet he couldn't bring himself to call him. It had been days since he'd stopped trying to convince himself to just do it.

The phone rung once but it'd only been King asking if he wanted to come over which he'd declined. King had a way of looking right through him and he didn't want to talk about what had happened, especially not with him. He didn't want a conversation where he might try to justify his own preferences.

Thinking of anything else never lasted long and waiting for him to come back had turned from a naive hope in to morbid torture. His own guilt and arrogance had trapped him in a state he knew was unsustainable. He'd gotten to low points in his life before, but this was unprecedented. He thought he'd be fine letting him go, but every day only got worse.

He only accepted he needed to see him again when he'd come across some notebooks he'd left behind and found himself looking through them. His ramblings about things he'd said to him were barely legible, but all the sketches he'd drawn of him that he used to find so creepy had him crying instead. He'd never taken a good look at them before.

They'd started off as technical drafts but the sketching had turned in to something else entirely. He couldn't understand why it hurt so much to see the way he saw him etched out page after page. He couldn't remember the last time he'd even cried. He knew he had before, when he was little, like anyone else. But it wasn't the same, it wasn't anything like these hot painful tears that felt like they were going to dissolve him.

Despite all the pain he couldn't bring himself to pick up the phone. He convinced himself he still wasn't being rational and needed to find something else to focus on. He lost track of how many days he'd spent waiting. Rarely leaving the apartment for anything, effectively cutting himself off from the world.

He felt weak and wondered why he'd let himself get so bad again. It took longer than it should have for him to realize he hadn't eaten in some time and had run out of food. He took a shower, got dressed and set out. Once he'd gotten something to eat and forced himself to devour it by necessity, he continued to wander.

After so many days in complete silence save for the hum of the TV he felt disoriented by the busy city streets but he couldn't bear to go back to nothing just yet. He tried not to look at anything, or anyone, trying to convince himself he wasn't looking for him.

Wherever he'd gone, it surely wasn't the streets of V-city. He wondered if he'd avoided calling him because he'd been hoping for a monster attack all along just as an excuse to possibly see him again, awful worried about what kind of hero that made him.

He'd wandered for a long time before he noticed people halting all of a sudden. Frozen in place, staring at their phones or nearby TVs broadcasting an incident. He approached one to figure out what was going on, feeling incredibly guilty that he'd just jinxed some city by mistake.

It appeared there was a threat in M-city and the anchor could only confirm that they were unable to reach local S-Class resident King to remedy the situation. They had just sent an alert to all heroes in the vicinity and were assuring citizens that it would be under control soon.

Saitama knew why King wouldn't show up. Feeling responsible he felt he should intervene in his place, running in the direction of M-City. Besides, if something happened to him that would mean Saitama Jr too and he wouldn't stand for it.

While he rushed through the streets he could hear the same anchor now announcing to locals that B-Class's 1st, Blizzard of Hell, had responded and was on her way to the scene. Somehow he didn't feel reassured.

It was only several TVs later that he caught a glimpse of Genos and the monster. He had to stop to make sure he wasn't seeing things. The anchor was clearly gushing over how their favorite S-Class had made it to the scene in record time but he had no clue how it was possible.

He didn't even know if he should still go, despite wishing for the chance. He wasn't even in his hero suit and he couldn't remember the last time he'd put it on. Still, he couldn't risk that the monster could be stronger than his former disciple, deciding to go for King and that cat and the other citizens too, in case things got heated.

Genos had actually only been in the area because he'd decided to go see Saitama Jr. Unable to cope with his failure and the thought he'd never be allowed in his former master's presence again, it was the only thing he could think to do. He'd been tracking down and eliminating any threat anywhere he searched for weeks now questioning anyone he found suspicious about androids. Still, he hadn't been able to keep his mind off what had happened. He was irate and tired, not having properly recharged in days, anxious about even seeing King again.

He took a direct hit from the monster that called itself a demon, careening off the pavement and in to a nearby building. The crowd that had gathered to watch him when he'd first confronted the threat had fallen back and only a brave reporter and their camera crew had remained. The next thing he knew cars started flying through the air at the demon. He quickly shoved himself out of the rubble and ran back in to battle, only to see that irritating newbie-crusher shouting at him.

"Stay out of this!"

Fubuki shouted, not getting a good look at him until after hurling more large objects at the monster who easily evaded her attacks.

"You're the one intervening!"

Genos yelled back, going in for a strike while the monster was distracted. The reporter ran over to Fubuki to inform her that Demon Cyborg had already engaged the monster that had emerged from the underground and murdered everyone on it's path, calling itself a demon from a mysterious beings group. They were reporting the crisis as a Demon vs. Demon fight even though it was only a Tiger level threat so far.

"That's ridiculous!"

Fubuki complained but the reporter only shook his head.

"The ratings are off the charts! Sorry B-Class, but you aren't needed this time."

The camera crew was following the fight intently. Genos had already taken some damage. More reckless than ever, he reasoned that getting a few more blasts in at close range was worth getting his stomach punched through. Sure he'd just lost functionality to the rockets encased in his legs but he didn't care.

The supposed demon appeared surprised by the lack of blood and general lack of screaming before he attempted to incinerate it only to have it jump back, evading his attack. Genos got up, momentarily inspecting the damage it'd done before rushing back in. He wanted to get it over with already.

"The Mystery Demon impaled Demon Cyborg but nothing can stop his flames of justice!"

The reporter cheered, attempting to keep a safe distance. The camera crew followed, praying for their lives while Genos got in another clean punch, but they couldn't abandon their coworker and he didn't look ready to quit.

"Another amazing punch from Demon Cyborg! This stupid underground low-life has nothing on our hero!"

Genos hadn't taken Saitama's concerns for his safety to heart, falling back to his old ways as soon as he'd been cut loose. Pushing himself was the only way he could stop thinking of him even for a moment.

Fubuki was still standing off to the side watching the fight go down and some people had even returned to watch despite the damage being done to their surroundings as Genos struck down the demon through the nearest building.

Saitama finally arrived at the scene, but stopped when he noticed Fubuki standing near the camera crew. Genos looked mostly intact, so he decided to inquire first, stopping besides her.

"Is he winning?"

Saitama asked the overdressed woman who almost jumped at the sight of him.

"Did you just get here?"

She scoffed, frustrated she'd let her guard down because of the intensity of the fight.

"You're already too late anyways."

Fubuki added before he could answer, crossing her arms, irritated she hadn't gotten a chance to fight it herself, but knowing deep down that she'd been lucky the S-Class was already here.

"Too late for what?"

Saitama asked, confused while he stared back out at Genos keying in a series of vicious strikes.

"For any credit."

Fubuki complained, turning back to watch the fight as well.

"I was the first to respond, how did he even get here before me?"

She questioned, but the truth was that both supposed Demons had come looking for the also supposed strongest man for very different reasons. Genos kept fighting, but finally noticed Saitama had arrived on the scene. He'd wanted to call out to him immediately, but he refrained, seeing him speaking with Blizzard of Hell.

He felt a rage he'd rarely felt before. An all-consuming need for destruction at the sight of anyone speaking to his master too closely. Ex-disciple or not he'd retained the defect it seemed. He focused his agony on the horrendous creature before him instead. Convincing himself that he couldn't assume the privilege of speaking to him if he couldn't defeat it first.

He punched harder than he ever thought he could. He barely knew anything about her but he couldn't understand why his Saitama-sama would continue fraternizing with her after her futile attempt to crush him. He didn't want to think of what they could be discussing. Even so, he couldn't help but try to listen in, losing his focus and getting struck down brutally again.

"Shit."

Fubuki cussed under her breath, nervously eyeing Saitama for his reaction, which from the looks of it, wasn't good either.

Genos managed to fire another raging inferno between himself and the demon, forcing it to evade, but not before it managed to rip off one of his arms and strike him down with it in retaliation, shattering one side of his face.

Saitama stepped forward, ready to intervene as Genos pulled his dismembered body back up when he felt a hand on his shoulder and turned back to see the reporter pleading with him.

"Are you crazy? Don't go out there! Let the S-Class handle it!"

He glanced at the reporter before looking back out at Genos, worried.

"It's fine. I'm a hero too."

Saitama explained but the young man only laughed, waving the crew to continue focusing on the fight instead. The only problem was that Genos was ready to die fighting rather than let Saitama save him again. And even though he knew he was desperately wrong, he could only try to steady his core and brace himself to block the demon's next strike.

He'd spent the last few weeks searching for clues to Metal Knight's hideout, but a lack of leads had him draining himself on basic threats. He felt he had no other purpose. He hated getting damaged and having to return to Dr. Kuseno empty handed, especially when all he did since he moved back was ask questions, but it looked like he would have no choice this time.

He punched as hard as he could with the only arm he had left, thoroughly disarming the demon long enough to fire everything he had left point-blank. When his fuel cells were depleted and he'd reached the critical reserves of his core the so-called demon was nothing more than a burnt corpse.

Cheering erupted as the crowd surrounding either side of the boulevard once the threat had been eliminated and the reporter eagerly acclaimed his stunning victory in great detail. Except Genos wasn't listening, he fell to his knees exhausted as the shouting suddenly subside. He hadn't even realized he'd collapsed until he felt Saitama's hand on his chest, holding him up from hitting the ground.

"Sensei?"

He asked weakly, doubting his own vision for an instant before his beloved smiled in a way he knew could never be imitated by any illusion.

"Hey.."

Saitama greeted timidly before steadying him to get a better look at the hole clean through his stomach and the crack all along one side of his face. Worried, he even made sure his head wasn't caved in.

"Are you ok?"

His tone was serious, but Genos could only be surprised by his concern despite their current standing. He didn't feel nearly as damaged as he'd gotten in previous battles. Leaning against the hand still on his chest just for the sake of his touch he wanted to smile back at him, although he only felt like crying.

"I'm fine."

Genos placated, trying to get back up from his knees while Saitama held his arm for support, only causing him to feel weaker by the second despite his honest intentions.

"Who the hell is that?"

In the distance, the reporter asked his crew, but when none of them had any answers Fubuki sighed and stepped in.

"He's B-Class, Caped Baldy."

Fubuki informed, but the look on the reporter's face only made her crack up. It was probably what she'd looked like when she found out they lived together and she couldn't help but laugh at how they all underestimated him. The crowd continued to stare, confused as unrest spread despite Fubuki's generous clarification. The cameras were still rolling, but Saitama had forgotten all about them.

"Are you sure?"

Saitama fussed, making sure he was standing properly before letting go of him. But when he didn't answer immediately he insisted.

"Do you need help getting to Kuseno's or whatever?"

Genos only went from staring at the ground to the confused crowd in the distance.

"It's not a problem. I can make it."

Genos assured dryly, knowing he had no right to say anything more to the man despite how much he wished he could make up for everything and resume his tutelage.

"You really went hard on that demon."

Saitama commented, trying to relieve his own anxiety, but he was genuinely surprised by how thoroughly he'd disposed of it.

"He said more were coming, se- Saitama-san.."

Genos confided, albeit still reticent to accept his unfitting title. Feeling guilty he'd rendered himself useless when he'd know there may still be danger.

"More demons?"

Saitama blinked, wondering if they had anything to do with the sub-teranians that he'd chased off all those months ago.

"See, this is exactly why I said you can't afford to get mangled up all the time. What if he hadn't showed up alone?"

Saitama added, reaching up for his cracked face and trailing his fingers down the painful fissure. Genos knew the gesture hadn't been meant to torment him, but he couldn't help himself from turning his face away in response.

"I have to go."

Genos said coldly, trying to move away but Saitama reached for his remaining arm instead, holding on to him again.

"Wait, Genos."

Saitama pleaded, before anxiously catching a glimpse of the crowd who's whispers had only devolved in to full-out unrest as people started pressuring the reporter for answers since they failed to acknowledge them.

"What's going on?"

The reporter asked desperately several times, but didn't dare approach them. When no answers came he quickly turned his attention back to the other B-Class.

"Blizzard of hell, what does that bald B-Class want with Demon Cyborg? Is he one of your henchmen?"

Fubuki only shrugged.

"No clue. And not yet. But he'll realize he needs the Blizzard Group to advance soon enough."

She answered briefly, enjoying her short time on camera before they swiveled it back to the awkward scene before them.

"Can I come with you?"

Saitama asked, ignoring the crowd. He wasn't so much worried he wouldn't make it since he seemed to have regained his balance. He more or less just knew they needed to talk for some kind of closure.

"No."

Genos declined, shocked by his own lack of tact at the question. Dr. Kuseno had been asking to meet him, but he couldn't handle that right now. Not like this.

"Can I at least see you after?"

Saitama asked, his voice lower and hesitant, as if expecting to be rejected again. Looking away momentarily, he could only look back up from his preemptive dejection when he saw him leaning in.

Genos let another lapse in judgement risk tearing them further apart. He couldn't justify why the way he'd asked to see him again had left no doubt in his mind that a simple yes couldn't suffice to express how much he'd wanted just that.

Saitama hadn't expected it, but he hadn't move away either. His lips were dusty from the fight, but he didn't care. He felt too good to care until the next thing they knew the reporter started shrieking and the rest of the crowd followed suit.

"Fuck."

Saitama whispered, breaking the kiss at the sudden mayhem, shocked by how calm Genos remained.

"Ignore them Saitama-sama. I promise I'll come see you after my repairs. I'll show you everything then."

Genos promised before fetching his discarded arm that'd been cast aside earlier, leaving him to the irate crowd.

"Huh?"

Saitama could only question what he'd meant by everything. Looking around himself when Genos had departed, feeling his momentary happiness vanish as soon as he saw Fubuki grinning while running towards him with the reporter in tow.

Chapter Text

"What the hell was that!?"

Fubuki shouted excitedly as she finally reached Saitama.

"Since when have you two.."

She asked, grabbing one of his arms when he tried to walk away from her suddenly.

"What was what?"

Saitama questioned back, trying to play dumb, and entirely ignoring her second question. He easily pulled his arm out of her grasp, if only to make a point, and turned to leave again. Except he was blocked next by the reporter and the crowd that had gotten closer as well.

"What? That kiss you potato! What else?"

Fubuki insisted loudly before the reporter suddenly shoved a microphone up in his face, interrupting him from asking exactly what she'd meant by potato.

"Why would the?"

The reporter failed to form a coherent question, evidently distressed, while several people in the crowd persisted in shouting awful things following by cheering as usual.

"Uh.."

Saitama didn't know what to say, scratching his cheek absently as he stared at the camera. His heart was still beating out of his chest from the sudden kiss, but he couldn't concentrate on answering their questions while being hounded by people for no reason.

He couldn't stop thinking about what Genos had said, and if it was really such a bad thing that people had seen. He could still feel his lips on his, ever so slightly, self-consciously bringing a hand up to cover them.

He just wanted a way out. He wanted to deny the whole thing but for all he knew everything had been caught on camera. He could only feel relieved that they weren't officially teacher and student anymore. Even if only Fubuki and a few other S-Class knew about any of that. He could only hope none of them would bring it up.

Which meant that all these people were angry for another reason. Probably because they were all in love with him too. For a second he felt like just another sap, conned by his impossible good looks and almost let himself laugh at the thought. It was so much more than that and there was no reason he had to justify himself to them. Besides, seeing how dispirited Fubuki got by the unthinkable things people were shouting at him cheered him up somehow.

"You kissed Demon Cyborg!"

The hysteric reporter finally came out with it and Saitama couldn't help but smile.

"Technically he-"

Saitama attempted to correct cheekily, despite his exhaustion from the crowd's awful energy and the lack of sleep or general nutrition from the past few weeks.

"But you're B-Class?"

The reporter cut him off, questioning urgently.

"Right."

Saitama said before swallowing hard, still eyeing the crowd. Getting out of this was starting to feel harder than it should be and his smile had soon faded. He just needed a chance to duck out without looking like he'd made a run for it.

"But Heroes dating is against the rules!"

The reporter shouted and Fubuki laughed, moving closer to Saitama's side immediately despite having shied away at all the negativity he'd been barraged with.

"It was just a kiss, that doesn't mean they're dating, right?"

She directed her question at him, but he couldn't tell if she was trying to help or if she was just being condescending. He stared back plainly for a long time. He had no clue there were even rules on their personal lives. He worried what else he'd missed in those stupid contracts before forcing himself to look back at the reporter calmly and opting to take her lead.

"Right?"

Saitama shrugged, not knowing what else to do. No one ever talked about any rules like that. Then again, most of the heroes were men. Then again, that didn't matter anymore did it? He felt like an idiot for not even knowing that much about himself.

He wasn't exactly sure why it was being taken so seriously either, or why the reporter was so angry, but he knew it was probably just more Hero Association bullshit. Ready to take his leave he eyed the crowd for the easiest way out again.

"Well?"

The reporter snapped, poorly concealing his jealousy while insisting on a real answer.

"Are you?"

The young man practically growled, shoving the microphone closer, causing Saitama to take a step back.

"What?"

Saitama asked, only to regret still standing there. It was just like every other time he'd been hated on a presumption when none of them knew who he was.

"Dating?"

The reporter practically spat out the question, leaving him frozen in space. He wanted to be angry, but he just couldn't understand why heroes wouldn't be allowed to date in the first place.

"Well?"

Fubuki insisted curiously when he failed to answer, suddenly unfazed by the rowdy crowd or the reporter who continued glaring at the both of them.

"No."

Saitama answered honestly, to the crowd's euphoric relief. Somehow it still felt like he'd lied and he wondered how the crowd would react if he told them they'd been living together until recently, or that he'd pretended to be a master to the young prodigy since joining the Association.

"Good! Because, just because you kissed him doesn't mean you had the right to. It's not in the public interest! And besides, how dare you think you can fool around with an S-Class when they're responding to a crisis! Especially if you're just a B-Class!"

Saitama couldn't believe how angry the reporter still was and he was running out of patience for being talked down to.

"Get it girl!"

Fubuki teased encouragingly, but Saitama only got more irritated.

"I'm not getting anything!"

He shouted back at her, letting his frustration get out of hand for a second before rolling his eyes at himself and turning to leave.

"Get back here baldy!"

The reporter shouted when he tried to leave, but the insult was too grave and all he could do was snap back around at him and incidentally Fubuki who had decided to follow.

"Who are you calling a baldy!"

The amount of rage he'd accidentally let out had silenced the entire crowd, and even sent a shiver down Fubuki's spine so profound she'd thought she'd been about to die right then and there.

Frozen in place she stared at him as the ground slowly began to shake. She regretted getting involved just to get more camera time more than ever while everyone looked around in confusion at the strange sound approaching.

"Another demon?"

Saitama asked apathetically while the crowd started screaming at the suggestion, fleeing for their lives. Even the reporter didn't want to take another chance now that Demon Cyborg was out of commission and fled along with the rest of them.

"Worse. My sister."

Fubuki clarified bitterly, looking up at the sky.

"That brat?"

Saitama asked plainly despite how panicked she appeared.

"If you call her a brat she'll kill you. Haven't you seen how she is? She stabbed Zombie Man for fun once! She! Look, you should just get out of here."

Fubuki warned, still staring up at the foreboding sky.

"Uh, ok."

From what he remembered of the onsen trip she was right, he probably didn't want to deal with whatever this was either. He turned to go only to come face-to-face with said floating green nuisance. The speed at which she'd flown to them had sent anything in her path flying away with little regard to further damage to the city.

"You again!"

Tatsumaki accused, crossing her arms immediately and Saitama could only stare back, wondering if he should be grateful she chased the jealous reporter and angry crowd away or if this was in fact worse.

"What the hell are you doing to my little sister!"

Tatsumaki's incessant shouting was barely comprehensible to him.

"Little?"

Saitama turned back to Fubuki, clearly doubting his own hearing.

"He didn't do anything. The demon was already defeated, and I'm fine, see? You should just go. Stop checking on me for every little thing. I can handle it."

Fubuki shouted, trying to cover up his naive question. After seeing her own sister knock out all her allies she didn't want to see it happen to a prospective one.

Tatsumaki quickly circled her to confirm her statement, but didn't appear satisfied.

"You must be getting weaker. You're afraid of losers like him now?"

Tatsumaki scolded. She hated wasting her time on false alarms, and if she wasn't hurt she didn't know why else she'd felt such intense dread overwhelm her through their bond.

"Wait, you're the little sister?"

Saitama had to ask again, clearly perplexed.

"Yes I am."

Fubuki snapped back.

"Tatsumaki is 5 years older than me."

She clarified calmly, trying to give him a look that meant cut it out but Saitama still seemed at a loss.

"But-"

Tatsumaki was fuming and just as soon as he'd attempted to speak again he was encompassed in green light and flung across the city.

"No buts!"

Was all he could hear Tatsumaki shout before disposing of him.

He crashed in to a building miles away, thankfully not hurting anyone on his less than graceful incoming. His favorite hoodie got ripped up, reminding him why he wore that suit in the first place. After promptly excusing himself from the mess he'd made, he hurried back home. He knew Genos' repairs would take time but he had to be there when he returned.

 

Genos entered Dr. Kuseno's lab, salvaged arm in hand, but the old man could only sigh at the sight of the hole clean through his stomach.

"Again, my boy? How many times has it been this week?"

Dr. Kuseno sounded tired. But to be fair, he had been a great nuisance to his research lately, being forced to build new parts so often instead.

"I'm sorry, Dr. Kuseno. This time it was an actual demon."

He explained, trying not to let his exhaustion show, but the doctor raised an eyebrow.

"A demon?"

He asked and Genos nodded.

"Yes. That's what it said anyways, before I incinerated it."

Genos clarified and the doctor nodded back.

"Probably just empty words. No such thing."

He attempted to reassure, uncertain why Genos appeared to be worried by the encounter compared to so many others.

"Let's get you fixed up."

The doctor reassured before turning to get to work as they always did, except he didn't follow.

"That may not be necessary, doctor. I need to know, are any of my older models still viable?"

Genos asked steadily, despite feeling whatever was left of his core falter when he accepted what he was about to do.

"Certainly. I've had to reuse some parts, but most of the ones you left behind intact I've preserved. Why?"

Dr. Kuseno turned back, perplexed by the question.

"There's something I have to do."

Genos offered vaguely, waiting for the doctor to show him where his past selves were stored but the old man only seemed concerned by his request.

"Do what? The few models from the Genos series I preserved have lower overall output and performance. They're far inferior to your current design or even the series I'm currently building, my boy."

The doctor tried to understand, but there was another reason he was worried and he had a terrible feeling he'd just misspoken.

"It's not about a fight, doctor."

Genos stated, trying to remain calm despite the steady decent of his core to critically low levels.

"Then what's so important all of a sudden?"

The doctor attempted, trying to remember if he'd hinted at anything during his last visits but couldn't think of anything. He'd been more distant than ever and he worried instead about how long it was taking for him to answer his question.

"I feel as if I've forgotten who I was. I need to go back."

Genos answered absently, after agonizing whether to explain at all or not they realized what they were really afraid of since Saitama had asked for their name. They didn't know who they had been long ago and didn't want to forget.

"I know things have never been easy, but is going back to the Genoko series a good idea? I thought you were happier now."

The doctor continued to worry aloud, but when Genos gave no indication that it was true, he could only keep fretting.

"I did my best to give you as close to a human experience as I could. I did not protest when you wanted more modifications, and eventually more weaponry than flesh. And when you wanted other fundamental changes, I supported you too. But you don't have to go back, I can build you a new body."

Dr Kuseno tried his best to reassure the young cyborg that he'd come to treat as his own child. Evidently concerned by their sudden decision, he wasn't just considering their emotional state, but the physical constraints of making a sudden downgrade.

"I appreciate everything you've done for me all these years, but it can't wait, doctor."

Genos said, having trouble remaining neutral. It was a harder choice than they'd envisaged. They couldn't imagine themselves as that person anymore and felt as though it was the only way they would understand why they'd given it all up in the first place.

"Why don't we run a few tests and make sure everything's alright before we get started?"

The doctor offered, but hadn't meant to sound patronizing.

"That won't be necessary."

Genos insisted coldly and the old man conceded, leading them further in to the lab and down in to a storage area where a dozen models he'd completed over the years were suspended.

Approaching the first parts they'd used and remembering how painful the surgeries had been was difficult. They hadn't expected the doctor to be so nostalgic as to preserve their progress this way, but staring back at old selves was chilling.

When the doctor had originally saved them, most of their body had actually been intact. Despite their many scrapes, burns and broken bones, only their arms and a foot had been unsalvageable. Staring at the hollow frame their first arms were attached to filled them with a sense of emptiness.

Soon they hadn't had much of a choice, but they'd still given up all they had left. The goal hadn't been to turn them in to a fighting machine, only an advanced human able to fight mad machines. Dr.Kuseno hadn't expected to go so far, but when their organic body started rejecting the augmented components rooted throughout to fix broken bones and replace limbs they agreed to abandon their humanity for their cause.

By then the only thing keeping them alive was spite for why they'd gone through so much pain. Thy could have cared less what they looked like. Except over the years it did end up mattering more than they had remembered. Dr. Kuseno used a genetics algorithm to project what they would look like as they aged, except it never felt right.

They'd gone from being a volatile 14 year old girl they could barely remember from all the pain to being a literal weapon they could no longer recognized themselves as. From a mangled body, on the verge of death, to regaining full mobility and back again. They never knew it would be possible, they just never stopped pushing themselves.

Everything that came after was just as difficult and they'd blamed it all on being trapped in a synthetic body, a pallid version of existence, but there was more to it than that. They'd started by asking for more of their body to be armored and weaponized as a way to cover up their doubt instead.

They agonized over the idea for a long time, but about a year ago they'd anxiously asked the doctor to attempt a new series entirely. They hadn't specifically requested to be made male, but when the good doctor got the gist of the request and ran another projection of what they'd look like had they aged as a man instead, they felt like there was only one way to find out.

When their new body was ready they'd quickly adapted to it. Profiting from a fresh start, especially when the amount of interruptions they received while trying to accomplish anything had diminished greatly. They hadn't wasted any time in deciding to keep the body and adjust their name.

Unaware of their newfound privilege, they were immersed in the sensation of vanishing momentarily. Embracing the gratuitous authority in their way of speech after being scrutinized for their mere existence for so long. The less attention, the better.

They'd learned how to ignore what people had to say about them early on, but the silence their new face granted with one look of contempt was a blessing. Slight changes in width and pitch had accomplished so much that they never questioned it, even though they still felt like they were missing something.

Even after all this time they still didn't accept themselves as a man, nor did they feel like the woman they should have grown up as either. They just didn't feel human at this point and wondered why all of it even still mattered so much. Walking past each model, looking at past selves at 15, 16, 17, 18 and finally stopping on the last Genoko model before they'd transitioned.

"I thought you were satisfied with my latest designs. Please tell me, have you been reconsidering for long without telling me?"

Dr. Kuseno still sounded worried and they started to feel sick to their absent stomach.

"No, Dr. Kuseno. That's not it."

Genos tried to dismiss.

"Then why? I can design something entirely new if you'll tell me what's going on."

Genos sighed at the doctor's offer despite his kindness.

"There's no time."

Genos didn't exactly inspire confidence and Dr. Kuseno took a step forward to place a hand on their remaining arm.

"For what? Did that Saitama you're always going on about ask you to do this?"

Genos didn't want to tell him anything about that, or why they were so anxious to get back to their former master, looking down at their own damaged body for a moment instead.

"If he did I'd like to have a word with him before you make a rash decision like this."

Dr. Kuseno insisted again, worried he'd been too stern, but he had a hunch Genos was questioning their past for the wrong reasons.

"He did not."

Genos responded before stepping out from his grasp, moving closer to unlock their old body from the rack to the doctor's dismay. They could never lose their temper with the good doctor, but they didn't appreciate being called rash.

"Look, I can handle the procedure on my own. You don't have to assist if you do not wish to, doctor."

Genos said coldly, still convinced that this was their last resort.

"Nonsense."

Kuseno conceded.

"I will certainly not let you do this on your own."

Chapter Text

The doctor followed solemnly as Genos carried their old body unceremoniously over their shoulder to the part of lab equipped for brain and core transfers. They immediately started prepping for the procedure and didn't exchange another word.

This Genoko was the last model developed when they turned 18. It was then they'd accepted they couldn't look at themselves anymore. They remembered that realization, but they couldn't remember why it had been so imperative.

Their old body was shorter than the current Genos series, but had the same face, albeit with softer features, and basically the same hair. They'd always kept it short, for as long as they could remember. Not much had changed besides the proportions of their build and the skin to weapons ratio.

All they could remember was hating how artificial they looked. Saitama wanting to know more was a reminder that were was so much left unanswered about their life. Even so, they worried they couldn't go back to that name.

None of this was how their life should have turned out. It felt desperate, but if there was even a chance that the gamble of starting over could offer redemption, they had to try. It didn't matter how painful the choice was when the hope it offered was stronger.

Genos replaced their missing arm with a temporary one before getting to work. They agreed to make minor adjustments to their old body to accommodate for more firepower. Incineration technology had advanced greatly in the past year, and so they exchanged life-like arms for a pair the doctor had upgraded recently. It took precision and patience to ensure that they wouldn't accidentally explode when connected and they were thankful the good doctor was helping.

Once everything was ready, Genos took their phone and some cards out of their jeans, set them on a table before taking their tattered shirt off and casting it aside. Climbing in to that machine in particular always made them feel anxious. They hated thinking about the process of their mind being temporarily disconnected from anything before being reposited in another body.

Dr.Kuseno approached and placed his hand above the metal plating encasing their core. He stared at it instead of them for a moment and Genos didn't know what to say, flinching when the doctor finally spoke up.

"Are you sure about this?"

Genos wanted to reassure the good doctor, but they honestly didn't know if they were doing the right thing. All that mattered is that this way at least they had a chance. They simply reached for the adapter to finally connect to main power for core extraction and gave the old man a nod to proceed.

The warning indicators that had plagued their vision since the battle vanished, allowing momentary relief before the fear of being dismantled crept back in. They were used to being rebuilt, but moving between forms had always been unsettling. Their chest was opened and their core exposed, only feeling pressure on their skull before everything went dark.

Reconnection was always a jolt. No matter how many times they did it, it always felt indescribable. Like waking up from a nightmare and not remembering why it'd been so terrifying. When they could finally look around again they felt too disoriented to get up.

Everything felt wrong, but they refused to accept it. It had been so long since they'd felt this way they'd almost forgotten the sensation. Quick to blame it on having ten times more synthetic skin than they were used to, and having to see their former head sawed open besides them.

They looked down at themselves, inspecting the range of motion in one hand to ensure they were fine even though they couldn't shake the dread. They'd thought that looking more human again would help them understand, but it had been too long since they'd felt it. Disoriented, they disconnected themselves from the machine.

"Not so fast, your readings are awful. I need to run a few more tests right now."

Dr. Kuseno protested, fretting over them, but they walked back to where they'd left their things and gathered them up. He tried to explain the poor results from the process but they weren't listening.

"Genoko? Is it alright for me to call you that again?"

The doctor asked when they failed to get any other response out of them over their operating capacity.

"Genoko is fine."

They answered once they could breathe properly again, convinced this was the only way to face their past. Looking at themselves in the nearest reflective surface, wondering why they used to dress like this. All they had on was a black leather bustier, skirt, and boots.

"Why won't you tell me what's so urgent? Even your core is still bellow 50% charged. You should rest first."

Dr. Kuseno continued to fret.

"I feel fine, doctor. I'll check in with you later if you wish to reconfirm."

They dismissed concerns about their poor synchronization readings or combat-readiness, forgetting how much higher their old voice sounded. Despite it being a subtle change, the difference was painful with perfect hearing.

They went to their old room to get a clean white shirt next, pulling it on self-consciously. Even though they'd returned often for repairs, they hadn't actually used their old room for anything besides storage since they'd become well obsessed with their mission years ago.

It wasn't that there was anything wrong with it's contents, it just felt like it wasn't theirs. It felt like waking up outside themselves, if that was even possible. They wondered if in a way they were undead like Zombieman while they made their way out, but the doctor was waiting for them.

"Are you sure you're alright?"

With the way the old man was staring at them, it was clear he feared the worst for them. They hadn't seen that look in a long time, not since the old man got so used to them showing up busted up.

"Just come back safely, okay?"

Dr. Kuseno insisted they they received no response, supportive as always despite the odds.

"I will. Thank you, doctor."

Genoko managed politely. They were grateful, but they couldn't stand how much their decision appeared misguided to him when it was the only way they could think to start over.

Once they were outside they headed for their former home as quickly as possible. Once a good distance away they turned their phone back on, having shut it off before reaching the lab to preserve it's location.

They were surprised to see they had twenty three missed calls. The first two were from the Hero Association, but the rest were all from Amai Mask. Sighing internally, wondering why that unpleasant man would be calling them when suddenly their phone rang again and they almost dropped it before answering.

"What is it?"

Genoko asked impatiently, insulted that Amai would think calling back a twenty second'th time was acceptable, momentarily forgetting their voice.

"Hello? Who is this?"

Amai Mask asked from the other side.

"I'm calling for Demon Cyborg."

He specified after receiving no answer.

"This is Demon Cyborg."

Genoko sighed before answering, forcing their voice to sound lower.

"Whatever. Listen, you need to come in to HQ right away. Where have you been?"

Amai huffed, short as always.

"Why?"

Genoko didn't want to waste any time if there really was an emergency, glancing around to figure out if they were closer to Z-City or to HQ.

"Have you not turned on a TV since your little media fiasco this morning?"

Amai reproached.

"I have not."

Genoko answered, wondering what he meant by fiasco since he'd beat the demon when they realized it could only be the kiss. They hadn't known they'd still been filming them, or more accurately, they hadn't cared and then they'd left him alone with all those people.

"You need to clear this up asap or your ranking will suffer."

Amai ordered, but they hung up in response. They could care less about their hero ranking unless they could become his disciple again. And if they did, then they'd figure out whatever fiasco they'd caused together.

When Amai only called back they turned their phone off. They felt selfish. Selfish for kissing him despite an audience, selfish for expecting to start over just by changing bodies, and most of all, selfish for wanting their simple life back.

They could barely contain their fear as they approached their old home. Walking up the steps of the apartment only made them acutely aware of how much lighter their body was without literal compact rocket launchers in their chest. They felt better, if only for an instant, before continuing to worry when they faced the door.

Somehow they'd assumed certain aspects of their past self would be to their advantage. But the longer they stood in front of the door, struggling to stand up straight, and unable to announce themselves, the more they realized they didn't know what they wanted to prove.

They barely even knew who they were supposed to be when they'd lived as Genoko. All they remembered was the pain of mourning their family and the decay of their body along with their past.

They'd jumped at the chance of a new identity back then, and was starting to feel as if they'd made the wrong choice this time. Unable to turn back either, they tried not to think of the worst while summoning the courage to speak up.

Saitama had fallen asleep on the small living room table while waiting. He'd frantically cleaned up the apartment all afternoon, stressing over what would happen next, only to pass out with the TV on.

"I'm here, Saitama-sama."

The familiar voice woke Saitama up with a jolt. Worrying about why he'd fallen asleep and what he was going to say while he rushed to the door and opened up.

Genoko could only look down when they saw he wasn't particularly pleased, having gone from expectant to shocked and staring at them like a deer in headlights within seconds.

"Ge.."

Saitama managed, but very well couldn't believe his eyes.

"Up until a year ago my name was Genoko."

They said, standing before him anxiously in the silence that followed.

"Genoko?"

Saitama repeated.

"May I come in?"

They asked, forcing themselves to meet his eyes for an answer.

"No, yeah. Sure."

Saitama choked out nervously. Wondering if he was concuss from Tatsumaki throwing him several cities away, or if he was dreaming again. He moved out of the way to let them pass, but despite the obvious changes what surprised him most was how slight the difference in their voice was.

They used the same tone, but they sounded so different. He pinched himself as soon as they'd entered to be sure. They had asked to talk, but he never would have guessed this is what they'd meant by showing him everything.

Genoko stepped in and slipped off their boots. Without them they were closest to his height for the first time, anxiously making their way in to the living room they froze when they saw the TV. Not expecting to have to see the broadcast so soon, yet there was their kiss for the world to see.

"I'm sorry."

They offered when Saitama moved past them and immediately reached for the remote, shutting off the TV in a rush. Except they'd still managed to hear that he'd plainly said they weren't dating. The remaining issue appeared to be hanging on the fact that they were still unable to reach them for a quote on the kiss.

"Forget about that."

Saitama dismissed, pacing after setting the remote back down.

"What's going on?"

Saitama asked, doing his best to stop staring. He'd seen their body before. Well not this particular body, but even if they were different, he attempted to reassure himself that what was underneath was sensibly the same and that it was fine.

"You asked what my name was before all this. I've had a few. I was Genoko for years before changing it again to Genos. I needed you to see what I may have looked like, had I aged normally."

Genoko explained, trying to remain calm, but the doctor had been right about the performance constraints on their core.

"Oh."

Saitama blinked, finally understanding enough to have to sit down. It was a lot to take in and he didn't want to say something out of place.

"You didn't have to do all this just to show me your past. I'd have believed pictures too."

Saitama couldn't help but feel guilty somehow, looking back up at their former disciple uneasily when they knelt before him.

"I needed to prove to you that I'm not holding anything back anymore. It wasn't enough to tell you everything, I wanted you to know I can be anyone for you."

Genoko explained, sitting as politely as they always have in seisa despite the grave urgency in their voice.

"I can never be human again. But, back then my name wa-"

"Wait."

Saitama reached out, taking one of their familiar hands in to his. He couldn't tell, but they'd replaced the arms on the old model to those he'd used in their first sparing match. They were the only pair that had the level of fire power needed that fit the old joints.

"You don't want to know anymore?"

Genoko asked, perplexed yet distracted by the sudden gesture, staring back expectantly.

"Yeah, no. I do, but you didn't sound like you wanted to say it and I only want to know if you're sure you want to tell me. Just Genoko is fine."

Saitama explained, staring seriously to make his point before looking away once more when all Genoko could do was stare back, speechless that they'd prioritized their weakness over his desires once more.

"Look, I just want you to be you. I don't want anything else. Okay?"

Saitama questioned, his worry clear from the way he squeezed their hand.

"Okay."

Genoko repeated, crushed by the connotation that anything else meant everything else too. They looked down at their hands bridging the distance between them, yet It felt like they weren't there. Like they were watching from the doorway instead.

"So, you definitely didn't do this because of that stupid hoodie I always wear, right?"

Saitama questioned, too embarrassed to look at them but he didn't let go.

"Of course not."

Genoko dismissed, but they finally realized why they'd hated it so much until now.

"Right! Because it's just a joke. I don't have some weird obsession or whatever. You looking like this doesn't change anything. Okay?"

Saitama rambled on nervously, almost raising his tone as if they'd insulted his dignity unintentionally, but the story behind it was long and he didn't want to get in to it.

"Okay."

They repeated again, realizing that they were making him uncomfortable. They let go of his hands to try to contain their unease, tugging on the baggy shirt they were wearing instead.

"Will you stay like this?"

Saitama asked next, but Genoko didn't want to answer. They realized that they'd wanted him to answer that for them and it wasn't right. They knew they'd always feel out of place if they didn't understand why they wanted him to decide for them.

"I must look so strange to you now."

Genoko whispered to themselves instead of answering, wishing they'd thought about why they'd needed to attempt this so urgently when it was bound to fail. It felt like they'd just taken the wrong gamble.

"No. You don't."

Saitama corrected, awkwardly rubbing his own arm.

"You look as annoyingly cool as always."

Saitama added, trying to lighten the mood, but flushed at how stupid the compliment must have sounded.

"Really?"

Genoko asked and Saitama shrugged, trying to think of something less cheesy to say.

"Well yeah, you can look however you want, right? That's cool. Anyway."

Saitama elaborated, but worried he wasn't helping at all.

"All this time apart, my only wish was that we could start over, sensei. I won't make the same mistakes again."

Genoko said suddenly, no longer able to delay the issue they'd agonized over since leaving any further.

"We've been over this."

Saitama avoided.

"I want to go over it again."

Genoko insisted, clutching their hands on their knees and bowing as if their life depended on the negotiation.