“You know, I love talking about heroes, but I do appreciate how you guys let me do stuff for fun sometimes.”
Izuku spoke to the camera while sitting on the floor of his apartment. He clapped his hands together.
He sing-songed, “So, welcome back to Me Time, starring me and my time!”
(He’d add some sparkles in post.)
Honeydew, his Shih Tzu, lifted her head from where she was laying under the living room table. She boofed once before putting her head down. Izuku smiled.
“So, I was in the mood for something that would be painfully hard to make. Something that I’d obviously fail at making look even remotely okay.”
He spread his arms out with more confidence than he felt.
“So today, I’m making an Ingenium cosplay out of only the stuff I could find in my house!”
Izuku picked up the camera, filming himself in various locations in his apartment looking for supplies. For this video, he mainly wanted to find tinfoil and dark clothes, plus the leftover white paint from when he tried to follow a Bob Ross video using only audio. Izuku set his supplies down on the floor, already feeling anticipation growing in his chest. Some of his most popular “Me Time” videos involved him trying to make hero cosplays out of only stuff in his house, or with a laughably small budget.
They were silly videos, supposed to be a break from the complex mathematics and theories he usually did.
As Izuku laid out a pair of sweatpants and a hoodie on the floor, he tried not to think about how he went to highschool with Iida Tenya, the current Ingenium. Izuku went to work taping sheets of tin foil to sweatpants.
Ingenium was out there saving lives. Meanwhile, Izuku was an Yuuei alumnus and painting pieces of cardboard white on a Friday afternoon. He felt a little pathetic as he wiped the sweat from his brow.
“Okay… so I don’t want to hot glue anything because I actually like this hoodie, but nothing is staying taped to it…”
He ripped a sheet of tin foil that was part of the chest armor. Izuku looked up at the camera, shoulders slumped and pouting.
“This is so sad. Someone please call Cellophane, tell him I need help.”
2 New Messages
Ochako: Did u see Midoriya Deku’s newest video??
Tenya: No, I haven’t. What did he discuss this time?
He knew of the hero analysis Youtuber, although he wasn’t nearly a big a fan as Ochako was. Tenya figured Deku finally did a theory on her Quirk.
Ochako: HE DID ANOTHER ME TIME VIDEO
Ochako: HE TRIED TO MAKE A COSPLAY OF YOU
Ochako: pfjshdkfkrahj it was so sad
Ochako: poor Honeydew she stepped in paint halfway through
Tenya could feel his cheeks grow warm. He was thankful that he was the only one left in the locker room. He wasn’t aware that Deku was a fan of his.
Tenya: Are you sure it’s not my brother’s costume?
Ochako: asdflkjd well it kind of vaguely resembles yours so I’d say so
Tenya: I’ll watch it when I get home. Thank you for telling me.
Ochako: HURRY I WANT TO KNOW WHAT U THINK OF IT
Once he got home, Tenya sat at his kitchen table and opened up his laptop. He tended to stay away from those who talked mainly about heroes, it wouldn’t do well to get a bloated ego, but Midoriya Deku was always on the less pretentious side of the hero critic spectrum. (That is, if he could be considered a critic at all. He behaved much more like a fanboy, although the word felt so childish to Tenya.)
He found Deku’s most recent video. It was almost twenty minutes long.
Me Time #11: Ingenium Cosplay Using Only Stuff In My House (Help Me)
True to Ochako’s word, it was laughably difficult making a costume as complex as Tenya’s using mainly tin foil and a limited amount of cardboard. Halfway through the video, Deku looked up from duct taping his sweatpants. His eyes widened as he rushed to pull his tiny, white dog off a paper plate covered in paint.
Tenya snorted into his cup of tea. Deku grabbed the camera and seemed to sprint through his house to the kitchen sink.
“Honeydew! How could you do this to me?”
The video cut to Izuku scrubbing his dog’s paws, then to him completing his project. Izuku put on the messy armor, showing it off with a surprisingly high roundhouse kick.
“Overall, it’s not going to win any awards but the important thing is that I tried.”
The camera shifted and jolted until it focused on the floor, where Deku’s dog sat licking her now clean paws.
“And Honeydew has officially lost her arts and crafts privileges.”
After the video ended, Tenya picked up his phone and texted Ochako.
Tenya: I watched the video. I thought it was very enjoyable. :)
Ochako: ALSHJDFSKAFHK I feel so bad for deku, he was just doing his best when Honeydew went and Did That
Tenya: That poor, little dog.
Tenya mostly listened to Ochako as she continued to talk about how funny the video was. Tenya smiled at her enthusiasm. She was a fan of his since they graduated high school, and was still waiting for the day Deku would (hopefully) talk about her.
Eijirou pressed a hand to his mouth, grinning underneath. How could someone be so cute?
He pressed play on his phone, resuming the video and watching Deku strut around in his apartment wearing something only somewhat resembling Ingenium. Honeydew, the cutest dog in the world, followed after her owner, nipping at his socks.
“What’re you smiling at?”
Eijirou paused the video again, pulling his headphones off. Katsuki was staring at him from the kitchen, holding a bowl of instant ramen in his hands. (A mutual guilty pleasure.)
“Just Midoriya Deku’s newest vid.”
As expected, Katsuki tsked and rolled his eyes. He sat on the couch next to Eijirou and began eating.
“Don’t know why people obsess over that nerd.”
“He’d pretty funny.”
And pretty in general. His freckles were adorable.
But Eijirou knew Katsuki had some sort of thing against Deku and left it at that.
Katsuki went back to eating. Eijirou leaned back against the couch arm, pressing play on the video. At the very end, it cut to Deku at his desk, cleaned up from the paint and sweat he managed to accumulate.
“So, that was an utter disaster, but at least I had fun doing it.”
“But now I just wanted to remind you guys that my new book on out for sale right now!”
The cover of his book, a bright yellow volume with the profile of All Might in his prime flashed on the screen.
Hero Analysis by Midoriya Izuku
Eijirou was surprised that Deku wasn’t using his pseudonym for the book, but then again, he couldn’t easily imagine most people wanting to read a book by someone named Deku.
“It covers a ton of hero history and Quirk theory about some of the most influential heroes of all time, interpreted and written by yours truly!”
Eijirou wasn’t the biggest reader, and barely had time for it as a pro Hero, but he pre-ordered as soon as he found out Deku was writing a book. (And that there would be a chapter about Crimson Riot).
“That’s not all, stop by the Spilled Ink in Musutafu on September fifteenth, anytime from one to five, and I’ll be there to sign it!”
The address of the signing popped on screen. It wasn’t the first time Eijirou wished he could go.
A light blush started spreading across Deku’s cheeks. He rubbed the back of his neck and smiled. Deku, almost unanimously decided by his fanbase, was cutest when he was flustered. (Which, to be fair, seemed to be at least half the time he was on screen.)
“And I just want to thank everyone who watches my videos! Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this in the first place. I never would have imagined that anyone would want to read my rambling without anyone to watch them first.”
When the video ended, Eijirou felt a little flutter in his chest. He loved Deku’s videoes, although, he wondered. Deku was probably one of the smartest people Eijirou’s ever seen. Who wouldn’t want to listen to him?
His best friend texted him at two in the morning.
Hitoshi: saw your new vid. Tell Honeydew I love her
Izuku smiled. He rolled onto his back, holding his phone close to his face. The little dog in question was sleeping on a pillow at the foot of his bed.
Izuku: She’s a bad and naughty girl that should be punished for her crimes
Hitoshi: are you really that mad at her?
Izuku: no :(
Hitoshi was Izuku’s first subscriber, back when he first started his channel in high school. They were in the General Education class together, until Hitoshi started training with Eraserhead and got bumped up to the hero course.
Hitoshi: So, how’ve you been?
Izuku: Good! Why?
Hitoshi: you were making an awful lot of self-deprecating jokes this video. More so than usual
Hitoshi knew him too well.
Izuku: No, I’m fine! Sorry for making you worry
Hitoshi: Don’t apologise. I just wanted to know if you’re okay
His fingers hovered over his phone screen, not knowing what to say. His palms were getting clammy from making Hitoshi worry over him, but Izuku really did think he was fine. There wasn’t any reason for his friend to be worrying over him.
But he still hadn’t typed anything yet. Three little dots appeared and vanished as Hitoshi sent his next message.
Hitoshi: Do you want me to come over sometime this week?
Izuku fumbled with his phone, nearly dropping it on his face.
Izuku: You don’t have to do that! I don’t want you to stress out over this, I promise I’m okay!!
Hitoshi lived over two hours away. Izuku didn’t want him taking off from his patrols or leaving his own house to take care of him again.
Hitoshi: But I’m always here if you need me
Izuku: I know, it’s why I love you
Hitoshi sent the emoji of the sick face with a medical mask on it.
Hitoshi: love you too. Goodnight
Izuku smiled. He sent back his own goodnight message, with enough moon, star, and heart emojis to fill up a few lines.
The Spilled Ink was a bookshop in Musutafu. It was quaint, easy to manage, and about thirty minutes away from his mom’s apartment. But it wasn’t exactly what Izuku envisioned himself doing with his life beyond the internet.
He went to college after graduating from Yuuei. He double majored in History and Theoretical Heroics, a subject about laws regarding Quirk use and theoretical Quirk application. It was primarily for analysts hired by hero agencies, but here Izuku was, working in a bookshop part time.
He told himself again and again that this was his choice. Multiple hero agencies reached out to him to be an analyst once he graduated, but Izuku declined every one. It would have been too painful, to work in a building with heroes and not be one himself. He was even offered a position and at Ground Zero and Red Riot’s agency, and refused almost immediately. He was sure it was some agent trying to hire him, certainly not Kacchan, but Izuku couldn’t imagine walking into work one day and having Ground Zero ask why he was there.
Not after they went to the same high school. Not after they both tried to become heroes and only one succeeded. He would’ve died of humiliation.
(And in the end, he refused any agency employing a hero he went to high school with. Which was, it turned out, all of them.)
Izuku regretted that choice now. Youtube and working at the bookshop were nice, but his heart still ached for more.
He sat behind the checkout counter, sighed, and flipped through the pages of his latest journal.
Hero Analysis #22
(The For the Future part got cut off at #15.)
Izuku spun the pen in his hand, going back to the sketch of Uravity he started yesterday. He’s seen her lift literal tons of weight, and always wondered if she needed to focus mentally on keeping it all in the air, or if her touch was really all it took. He propped his chin up with his other hand and sighed as he doodled. He wasn’t trying to slack off on the job, but the manager was out for the day, and it wasn’t like there was a whole lot for him to do otherwise. The shop wasn’t usually very busy, and it was partially why Izuku agreed to do the book signing here. It was a nice gesture of his boss to set this up for him, but honestly, he wasn’t really expecting anyone to show up. The bookshop was very low-key, and Izuku wasn’t exactly the most popular face on the internet.
Not that he didn’t appreciate the following he did have, though. He certainly did! Izuku made most of his income online, and he’d certainly never be upset with the one million followers he did have.
(It was actually closer to two million, but that wasn’t important to Izuku.)
It’s just… out of everything a person could decide to do, why choose to meet him?
Izuku pushed that thought away, trying to focus more on his journal.
Any thoughts of a certain famous Youtuber slipped from Eijirou’s mind for the next week.
There was a series of bank robberies that no other hero was able to stop, orchestrated by some B-list villains and their cronies. Most of them were easy enough to defeat for Eijirou and Katsuki, but one got away, taking most of the stolen money with her.
She was hard to find, with a Quirk that let her teleport. She already evaded the police and every hero sent to capture her. The only conclusive thing that they knew was that she relied on shadows in some way to travel.
Not even Katsuki, with his mobility and explosions, could catch her before she left Tokyo entirely. And as much as he appreciated his best friend, Eijirou wasn’t exactly happy to hear Katsuki complain about having to partner with another agency in Musutafu.
Eijirou tried to look on the bright side. They knew she was spotted in the shopping district, and had even more people looking for her than before. (Katsuki did not share this sentiment.)
Their first goal in his mind was capturing their target. The second goal was to keep Katsuki from saying anything too rude to the heroes they were partnering with. Eijirou thought very little of Midoriya Deku.
Izuku honestly wasn’t that surprised when the book signing amounted to only a dozen or so people in the first hour. He really wasn’t ~that~ popular, and he actually preferred it this way. He got to meet his fans (and wasn’t that thought intimidating?). He was able to talk to them more personally, express theories with other hero enthusiasts, and feel good for once about the amount of effort he put into his work.
At the end of the first hour, the last person in line was girl with a copy of his book clutched to her chest. Her skin was a pale shade of gray, her eyes completely red, and she couldn’t have been out of middle school yet. She didn’t really speak much, and Izuku could relate to that. He asked for her name, signed her book, and handed it back without giving her too much hassle.
“Actually, I was hoping I could ask you a question.”
Izuku blinked. He set down his pen.
She bit her lip.
“My Quirk is… I can make people sad. Kind of like how Ms. Joke can make people laugh? But I just make everyone feel awful.”
Izuku didn’t know where she was going with that. He stood up and sat on the table, feeling weird if he wasn’t eye to eye with her. If the girl was surprised, she didn’t say anything.
“And… I just wanted to ask you if you think I could still be a hero with a Quirk like mine.”
Izuku blinked. (He remembered being in a tunnel, the feeling of cold slime squeezing his body, in his nose, in his mouth, in his lungs, feeling like dying the sensation of being saved the sight of All Might, flying through the air, being on a skyscraper, pouring his heart out, hoping with everything in him-
He couldn’t be a hero.)
Izuku blinked again. He smiled at the young girl, even though he felt his heart pounding.
“Of course you can! The kind of Quirk you have doesn’t matter as long as you know how to use it.”
The girl looked surprised, like she was expecting Izuku to deny her. He felt this warmth in his chest, a shy, budding sort of joy at making her happy. Izuku looked around, making sure that no one was paying attention to them. Then he leaned in close and whispered, “Can you show me?”
She stiffened, eyes wide. “What?”
Izuku raised his hands defensively.
“You don’t have to if you don’t want to, but I’d love to see what you could do. I promise, I won’t tell anyone.”
The girl looked down at her hands, then back at Izuku.
“Are you sure?”
Izuku nodded. “Can you control it well? Can you just show me a little bit?”
The girl nodded back.
“Hold out your hand.”
Izuku watched as she took his hand, only touching him once before pulling away. But for a single second, where their skin touched, a dark gray aura manifested. Izuku’s breath caught in his throat as he immediately began crying.
(“Believe you’ll be born with a Quirk in your next life, and take a swan dive off the roof.”)
The echoing voice in his head and the sense of sadness faded in a few seconds. Izuku blinked, wiping his tears on his sleeve. Not bad, for what was supposed to be a low-dose. There were definitely more painful things Izuku could have remembered.
His stared at the girl. “That was incredible.”
Definitely an unpleasant Quirk, but with plenty of potential. Izuku wished he had his journal on him. The girl blushed.
“Thank you, Deku.”
The warmth in his chest returned, even stronger than before, and he blinked away the tears that still threatened to fall from his eyes. Before the girl left, he realized something else. He called after her.
“By the way, you should trying checking out this really cool underground hero. I don’t know if you know him, but he goes by Hitoshi. He’s got a Quirk that some people think is scary too.”
And in the smallest way, Izuku felt like a hero.
Izuku spent the rest of the time allotted to his book signing catering to a small number of people, but really, he was never very good at sitting still. He got up from time to time when no one was around to check on the shop. Izuku walked through the aisles and went into the back room, just to look through their shelves and storage boxes. He checked his watch as he walked out, noting that it was the nearing the end of both his signing and his shift.
The bell above the front door rang. He looked up.
Izuku’s eyes widened, not daring to believe his day could get any better. He ran across the store as politely as possible before flinging himself into Hitoshi’s arms. His best friend hugged him back, chuckling.
Izuku smiled. When Hitoshi called him by his pseudonym, it was never to acknowledge his fame (or to be an insult). With Hitoshi, it was the nickname he grew up with.
Izuku suddenly remembered that he was in public, and still on the job, and quickly pulled away before anyone could see.
“Um, what are you doing here?”
He winced internally. That sounded so rude. But Hitoshi didn’t seem to mind
“Well, you see,” he reached inside his trench coat, “I was hoping I could get this signed.”
He pulled out a copy of Izuku’s book and he immediately flushed red from his face to his neck. Izuku buried his face in his hands.
He asked, “You didn’t.”
“I would have given you a copy.”
“I wanted to support my favorite Youtuber.”
Izuku thought he was going to cry (again). He peeked at Hitoshi from behind his hands.
“You’re lucky you caught me, my shift’s about to end.”
He didn’t sound nearly as sarcastic as Hitoshi could in his sleep, but Izuku tried not to dwell on it as he grabbed a pen from the checkout counter.
“You seriously want me to sign it?”
Izuku was still blushing as he wrote his name. He hesitated for a second, then covered the page with his other hand. Hitoshi tried to lean over his shoulder, but Izuku quickly wrote under his name,
Thank you for being such a good friend.
He added a few scribbled hearts and shoved the book into Hitoshi’s hands.
“So,” Izuku asked, so he could keep Hitoshi from reading the note, “Are you planning on doing anything while you’re in town?”
Hitoshi shrugged. “I just wanted to see you.”
He wasn’t mad. He didn’t think he could ever be mad at Hitoshi, but Izuku should have figured his friend wouldn’t have listened to him.
“I said I was fine.”
“I know,” Hitoshi said, “but am I not allowed to visit a celebrity?”
Izuku’s blush deeped.
“Don’t call me that.”
“Why not? You have more fans than I do.”
Izuku looked away, his face now a darker shade of red. It was still hard for him to grasp that Hitoshi, a pro hero, had a smaller following than him. It felt wrong, for more people to pay attention to him than to someone who actively saved lives. (Regardless of whether or not Hitoshi was an underground hero.)
His eyes caught motion on the TV screen behind the checkout counter. He looked up. It was muted, but there was footage of a hero running after someone across rooftops. They passed by a shopping mall.
Izuku recognized that mall, and the plaza that came after it. The chase was happening nearby, only a few blocks away.
Hitoshi followed his gaze to the TV. He signed like he couldn’t believe a criminal would be rude enough to interrupt his day.
“I should help with that.”
Izuku’s shoulders slumped as he turned his attention back to his friend. He nodded.
Hitoshi put a hand on his shoulder.
“I’ll meet you back here later.”
Then he ran out of the shop, heading for the location of the villain. Izuku felt empty, watching his best friend run into danger while he stayed in the bookshop.
He turned away from the door, figuring he should at least keep himself busy. Izuku cleaned up the table used for the book signing, putting everything away in the storage room. But his mind was still on Hitoshi and the villain.
Why did Izuku want go too?
You’d only get in the way.
He went to the checkout counter, opening and closing his journal several times. Thinking about writing but not wanting to do it.
You don’t know how to fight.
He knew some self-defense, but nothing on par with that of a pro. Izuku started biting his nails, checking his watch every minute. Waiting for his shift to end.
What could you even do?
Izuku felt his palms sweat.
No matter what, you aren’t a hero.
“Midoriya?” His manager asked.
He looked up from his watch too quickly. “Yes?”
“That man was your friend right? If you’re worried about him, you should go.”
The words replayed in Izuku’s head, not being fully processed.
His manager, a middle aged woman with pink hair, smiled.
“Your shift’s almost over anyways. Go ahead.”
Izuku was bowing before he even knew he was moving.
“Thank you so much!”
He grabbed his jacket, then started sprinting in the direction Hitoshi left in. He tried to ignore how right it felt, to be moving without thinking.
Hitoshi pulled out his phone, checking for updates.
The target had a teleportation Quirk, making their last known location hard to pinpoint. But he’s worked with less information before. Hitoshi strayed from the sidewalk, cutting across alleys. He wished he had his capturing weapon, but he’d make do without that too.
He found a fire escape, jumping up to catch the bottom of the ladder and hauling himself up. He got to the roof, spotting a woman on a building a few streets over. She was wearing the same black jacket as the criminal on the TV. And she seemed to have lost the hero that was previously following her.
Hitoshi started running in the same direction, thinking of how to get to her. If he was lucky, there was another hero nearby and he could just corral her to them. Or, if she was dumb, he could corner her and make her respond to him.
The sound of explosions echoed through the air. Hitoshi saw a bright red ball of light speeding from the other side of the criminal. He squinted.
Was that Bakugou? What was he doing here?
Hitoshi blinked and the next moment, the villain was gone. He slowed down, trying to see where she’d teleport to next. He heard a shout from the street below. He looked over the edge of the roof, finding her pushing through crowds of shoppers. She crossed the street, and Hitoshi realized she was trying to get to the alley in front of him.
He smirked. It seemed that Ground Zero was corralling her to him.
He sprinted, jumping from the edge of the roof to the fire escape on the building across from the alley. He dropped down onto the ground, cutting off his target’s escape just as she entered the alley.
She stopped, breathing hard. Maybe she didn’t realize he was a hero in his civilian garb.
“Get out of-”
Her body went slack, her eyes unseeing. Hitoshi smirked. All this fuss over an escaped villain, and this was what it took to capture her? Bakugou was going to be furious.
It wasn’t as hard as Izuku expected to find Hitoshi. He just followed the sound of police sirens and the growing crowd of spectators.
“Excuse me, excuse me, I’m so sorry…”
Izuku pushed his way to the front of the crowd, finding that the woman from TV was handcuffed and being lead into the back of a police car. He sighed in relief and looked around. Hitoshi was showing his license to an officer, looking like he was explaining himself. He didn’t appear hurt.
Izuku waited for him to finish. Hitoshi turned from the policeman and caught his eye. His shoulders tensed. His eyes widened. Izuku frowned, dread growing in his stomach as Hitoshi jogged over to him.
“What are you doing here?”
Hitoshi put both his hands on Izuku’s shoulder, ignoring both the awed and confused looks he was getting from the crowd.
A flash of bright red hair caught Izuku’s eye. Hitoshi kept a hold on his shoulders, not letting him turn.
“I was worried about you.”
Which was true, but Izuku also felt the need to be there. To know what was happening.
Hitoshi said, “Well, I’m fine. So how about you and me get some dinner, huh? I’ll pay.”
Izuku tilted his head to the side.
“You don’t need to give the police a statement or something?”
“Already done. We can leave now.”
Hitoshi started urging him into the crowd, but Izuku tried to pull himself out of his hold.
“What’s going on, Toshi?”
Why did he want to go so badly? Was it the news van parked on the street?
Izuku’s breath caught in his throat. That voice sounded familiar.
He saw the way Hitoshi squeezed his eyes shut, exhaling sharply, before turning around. He kept one hand on Izuku’s wrist, keeping him behind him.
“What do you want?”
“Just wanted to thank you. We, uh...”
Izuku was too curious for his own good. He leaned to the side, peeking past Hitoshi’s shoulder.
He gasped. Red Riot stood not even a few feet away and -oh no- they made eye contact and now Izuku might have to talk to him but he couldn’t not after all these years and not like this and not when he’s so sweaty and not when Hitoshi is essentially holding his hand and if Red Riot’s here then he might be here too-
Izuku jerked his head back, so thankful that Hitoshi was still much taller than him.
“Don’t worry about it.” Hitoshi should be given an award for how deadpan he sounded.
The hand holding Izuku’s wrist squeezed tighter. Izuku breathed in and out, trying to reason with himself. There was probably no way such a big hero knew remembered him from high school. Or knew about his Youtube channel. No way. Red Riot definitely had much better uses of his time than to watch Izuku ramble. He was overreacting, for sure.
(But then, why is Hitoshi trying so hard to hide him?)
“You want to come with us to the agency we teamed up with? You can fill out a report there.”
See? Red Riot had more important things to worry about than Midoriya Deku. He was fine. He was fine. He was fine.
Hitoshi said, “I actually have somewhere else to be, so if you don’t mind-”
The thrum of the crowd- the murmurs and shouts and footsteps- all died down. Izuku knew that voice too. He knew he shouldn’t have, but he looked past Hitoshi’s shoulder again. He thought his heart was going to stop.
Ground Zero was walking over to them (to Red Riot and Hitoshi, he corrected himself), his infamous sneer in place. His attention was trained on Hitoshi, but for half a second, Izuku thought those red eyes looked at him.
But he wasn’t sure. He recoiled instantly, grabbing the back of Hitoshi’s jacket with his free hand. He knew why Hitoshi wanted to leave now.
Ground Zero asked, “Where do you think you’re going? Who is that?”
Fuck, fuck, fuck, he saw Izuku. Did he recognize him? He couldn’t have. Izuku was too forgettable.
“I’m just going to get something to eat with a friend.”
Hitoshi took a half step back, urging Izuku into the crowd more than he was retreating from the other hero. And if he was in any other state of mind, Izuku would have started applauding Hitoshi’s ability to calmly face the number six hero’s temper.
As it was, the dam at the back of his mind dedicated to suppressing everything Bakugou Katsuki’s ever said to him was dangerously close to breaking.
“What? Too good for us?”
“Zero,” Red Riot scolded.
“Actually, I’m just trying to get out of your hair, Ground Zero. I’m sure you have much more important things to take care of.”
Without waiting for an answer, Hitoshi turned around. He wrapped one arm around Izuku’s shoulders, keeping him moving forward without letting him look back.
Ground Zero called out, “Wait, who-”
Hitoshi called over his shoulder. “Bye, Zero. Riot. I’ll see you when I see you.”
Then they were in the thick of the crowd and out of it as most of the spectator’s attention turned to the two more public heroes. Izuku thought he only started breathing again when they were a block away. Then he felt empty, as all the adrenaline and sweat and anxiety that he spent the entire encounter stockpiling drained away. He blinked, already feeling warm tears start to well up in his eyes.
“I’m sorry, Toshi.”
Hitoshi looked down at him. “You have nothing to apologize for.”
“I caused a scene.”
“Bakugou caused a scene by opening his big mouth. You did nothing wrong.”
Izuku hated how close he was to crying.
“I think they saw me. Will they bother you about it?”
Hitoshi shrugged. “I doubt it.”
He took his arm from around Izuku’s shoulders. They were getting a few looks, and Izuku was in no mindset to be stared at.
“Look, how about we go to your apartment and get some take out tonight? Maybe watch a movie.”
Izuku wiped his eyes and tried to smile.
Having Hitoshi over was nice. Izuku bundled himself in a thick blanket, tucked against Hitoshi’s side, with Honeydew in his lap. They ordered too much food for two people and a dog to eat, and lazed around on the couch watching multiple Pokemon movies in a row (Izuku needed something inherently cute and utterly harmless to calm himself). He and Hitoshi argued over which movie was the superior film, and Izuku found himself laughing hard enough to cry. Honeydew made a valiant effort to lick his face clean of sauce and tears.
It was almost midnight when they decided that Hitoshi should just spend the night.
“You want to shower?”
Hitoshi ran a hand through his hair and yawned. “Yeah, you still have some of my clothes here?”
Izuku nodded. “I can get you some pajamas.”
They both got up from the couch, stretching while Honeydew yipped at them, urging them to go back to giving her attention. Hitoshi gave her a pat on his way to the bathroom. Izuku went to his bedroom, flicking on the light and rummaging through his closet.
He and Hitoshi were never together, they were too good of friends to ever date, but there was a time in Izuku’s life where Hitoshi pretty much lived with him.
Izuku found a pair of sweatpants too large to be his own and an Eraserhead t-shirt he knew belonged to Hitoshi. To his utter embarrassment, Izuku also found a pair of clean boxers he knew didn’t belong to him. He took the clothes and knocked on the bathroom door. He could hear the sound of running water, but was surprised when the door opened just a crack. Izuku averted his eyes, just to be safe.
“Found some of your stuff.”
A hand took the pile of clothes. “Hey, I’ve been looking for this shirt.”
He hummed in acknowledgement, letting Hitoshi close the door while he went back to the living room. Izuku started cleaning up the mess they left behind, dangling the occasional piece of leftovers in front of Honeydew for her to take.
After he finished, Izuku washed his hands in the kitchen sink. He heard the bathroom door open. Hitoshi found him in the kitchen and frowned.
“I would have helped you clean up.”
Izuku said, “Oh, it’s fine. Don’t worry about it.”
He dried his hands and yawned. He was tired now, and looked forward to cuddling in bed with Honeydew. But first…
He turned from the sink, finding Hitoshi crouched down and petting his dog.
Hitoshi looked up. “Yeah?”
Izuku shifted his weight from one foot to another. “Thanks, for before.”
For hiding him during his meltdown in front of two other pro-heroes.
Hitoshi stood up.
“You don’t have to thank me.”
Izuku wanted to smile. “Still, I just… I thought I’d be better around them.”
It’s been years since Izuku has seen anyone from high school, aside from Hitoshi. He skirted around the pro-heroes at all costs. And, he hoped, that after hiding from Kacchan for all of their third year of high school and almost six years after, that he’d be forgotten.
(But, oh god, imagine if Ground Zero remembered him? Recognized him, even? Harassed Hitoshi for it… Why couldn’t he just stay in the bookstore?)
Was he muttering? Oh fuck, he was muttering.
Hitoshi was never the most expressive person, but Izuku knew him well. His best friend never pitied him, never mocked him when he wanted to be a hero. (For still kind of wanting to be a hero.) He was patient with Izuku during the days when he didn’t have the energy to eat or bathe. And now, his dark purple eyes were boring into him.
“You weren’t expecting them to be there. I wasn’t either.”
He walked up to Izuku and put a hand on his shoulder.
“Don’t worry about what they think of you. And you shouldn’t worry about me. I can give Bakugou as much of a hard time as he can try to give me.”
Hitoshi smiled. “And if he gets persistent, I’ll just brainwash him into doing something embarrassing.”
Izuku snorted, bowing his head.