“Kirishima Eijirou, Toogata Mirio, Hadou Nejire. Please report to the principal’s office.”
It’s a boring Tuesday morning in Calculus class, and Eijirou had been close to drifting off. But he jolts awake and jumps to his feet as the intercom clicks off. He can feel the eyes of the entire class on him, confused, and he has no more idea what this is about than any of them.
“Sensei?” he asks, but Cementoss just gives him a solemn look. It doesn’t help much, since all his looks are solemn.
“Oooh, you’re in trouble,” Kaminari whispers as Eijirou walks by. Eijirou rolls his eyes at him.
Aizawa-sensei meets him in the hall before he even gets to the office, and ushers him into a room with two couches, where Toogata and Hadou are already sitting. It’s quiet in here, eerily so.
Eijirou takes a seat to the left of Toogata-senpai. Up close like this, it’s hard to ignore how huge and built Toogata is. But he’s struck by the expression on his face—both he and Hadou are pale as ghosts. Toogata’s gripping his pants with his hands balled into fists, and Hadou’s hugging her knees to her chest.
Aizawa-sensei sits down on the other couch, opposite them. “I offer my deepest condolences to all three of you,” he says, and Hadou gasps a small panicked breath. “As a representative of UA, I acknowledge that we have inexcusably wronged you, and failed to keep you safe from harm.”
“Sensei,” says Toogata quietly. He looks downright ill at this point. “Where’s Tamaki?”
Aizawa takes a deep breath and pauses before he speaks.
“Amajiki Tamaki didn’t come back to his dorm last night, and we have received a report that his body was found in an alley this morning. Witnesses report that he interrupted a robbery at a nearby convenience store and followed the perpetrator outside, where a confrontation ensued. Police are still working to catch the culprit.” His gaze is resting somewhere in the middle of the table between them. “That’s everything we know. I’m sorry.” After a second he adds, “He was a hero.”
Hadou cries out, a broken noise that slices through Eijirou like a knife. He feels numb. Not Tamaki-senpai, not the most powerful and capable student he knows, who can control an entire battlefield at once, who doesn’t deserve anything bad happening to him, least of all this. The room feels like all the air has been sucked out of it.
Toogata sobs too, now, silently but with his whole body shuddering, heavy tears splashing to the table. Whatever composure Eijirou was holding onto dissolves. Hadou and Toogata are holding each other, and when Eijirou voices his disbelief— “But, they couldn’t … but, he wouldn’t have …” —his voice is contorted and choked off.
“You three are excused from classes from the rest of the day, if you would prefer not to attend,” Aizawa continues. “I have spoken to the Amajiki family, and I assume they will announce funeral arrangements soon. You of course have leave to attend the wake and funeral.” He stands up, hesitates, and sits back down. “You’re free to go, or you can stay here for a while longer, if you’d prefer.”
Hadou stands up. “I’m going home,” she says. “I need …” She hugs Toogata again, tears streaming down both of their faces. “I need to be with my family right now.”
Toogata stands too. “M’going back to my room,” he mumbles. And just like that, the meeting’s over. It feels like there should be something more, some closure suitable for the weight of the blow they’ve all received. But when Eijirou steps outside the office, there are students laughing in the hall, and all the usual noises of a busy high school. It’s appalling, how the world hasn’t stopped for this.
Eijirou climbs the stairs to his room with legs as heavy as his heart. The dorm, at least, is quiet at this time of day, the eerie silence allowing Eijirou’s grief to swell into the space around him. When he makes it into his room, he just sits on the bed, staring at the floor in the dark room until he loses track of time. He probably shouldn’t be alone right now, but he’s ensnared in a sensation of having to, that the only person who could possibly cure his loneliness is the one who’s gone.
Tamaki. Gone, forever. It’s still unbelievable. No warning, no last words, just “Sorry, your friend’s dead,” and being sent back to his suffocating dorm room to somehow try to process this. He wonders what the last thing he ever said to Tamaki was. Probably something vapid, like “see you later.” He checks his phone for his messages with Tamaki, and for some reason that overwhelms him in another wave of tears. Their last conversation was about what time they needed to meet at Fatgum’s agency. The last message Tamaki ever sent him was “2:30.”
He lets the phone fall from his hand and wraps his arms around himself to try and ease the loneliness. No, he shouldn’t be alone right now. And, he thinks, Toogata probably shouldn’t either.
It isn’t hard to see how close Toogata and Tamaki are—were, he corrects himself with a small stab of pain. Tamaki’s best friend was one of a few subjects that would bring him out of his shell, allow Eijirou a glimpse of one of those rare smiles that seemed to light up the whole world. He’s pretty sure Tamaki had a crush on Toogata, based on a few times he caught him staring while they hung out together at school. He suspects the feeling was mutual.
He stands up and wipes his eyes. He should go to Toogata.
The 3-A dorm is just as lonely inside as the 1-A dorm was. Eijirou reads each name panel as he wanders through the halls, not knowing which one is Toogata’s. He passes Tamaki’s room, of course, and wonders what will happen to all the things inside, sitting undisturbed, waiting for their owner to return.
Finally he arrives at Toogata’s room and gives the door two soft knocks. Toogata’s eyes are red when he opens it, and the soft smile he gives Eijirou seems painfully forced. “How are you holding up?” he says.
“I didn’t want to be alone,” Eijirou says, the truth spilling easily out of his mouth in defiance of Toogata’s imposing presence. He’s a little less intimidating now, with his hair disheveled and his eyes puffy with the aftermath of tears. He looks more human than Eijirou wanted to see.
“Yeah,” Toogata says, his smiling facade fading to nothingness. “Why don’t you come in? I can’t say I’m having a great time being alone myself.”
Eijirou nods. He’s struck by the urge to hug Toogata and he does, with a little too much force. Toogata gasps and squeezes Eijirou tight in return. His ribcage shudders under Eijirou’s hands, and he hiccups against Eijirou’s hair.
“Sorry,” Toogata says as he pulls away. “I’ve been— It’s just been really rough, I—” He sniffs softly as he tries to compose himself.
“Hey, I know how much he meant to you,” Eijirou interjects. “You don’t have to apologize for being sad.”
Toogata visibly shudders again at that, and then he closes the door behind Eijirou and goes to sit on the bed. His head drops into his hands.
Eijirou sits down beside him and puts an arm around his shoulders. “It’s— Well, it’s not okay, not at all. It’s okay to feel like it’s not okay because it’s not, it’s cruel and unfair and—”
“Why did it have to be him?” Toogata says in a voice barely above a whisper. “It’s selfish of me, I know, but why couldn’t it have been anyone else? Why couldn’t it have been me? Or anyone besides Tamaki?”
“I …” Eijirou bites his lip. “I don’t know. It does seem extra awful, that someone like him …”
“We were gonna be heroes together,” Toogata chokes out through a sob. “He … he worked so damn hard to get to this point, he’s the reason I stuck with it through everything …” This time Toogata leans against Eijirou, his body weighing against Eijirou’s chest.
Eijirou’s quiet. What could he possibly say that could even begin to address what Toogata’s feeling?
Toogata turns and hugs him back. “I know he meant a lot to you too.” His voice seems heavy, tired, now that the worst of the tightness has drained out of it.
And just like every time Eijirou’s thought he had the flood of tears under control, the dam breaks again inside him. Suddenly he’s sobbing against Toogata’s chest. “Not him,” he says into Toogata’s shirt. “He didn’t deserve this. How,” and he swallows the lump in his throat so his voice will keep working, “how could anyone do something like that?” He thinks about what the fight must have been like, but the thought is so painful it feels like it’s cutting through his brain. He flinches.
Toogata’s hand is rubbing circles against his back.
“From that first time!” Eijirou almost shouts, the words ripping out of him harshly. “When he asked me, ‘Did I do okay?’, I thought, Why is this amazing hero asking me what I think? I thought, I don’t want him to be hurt, ever. But then he was, and …”
“Tamaki told me you jumped in front of a bullet that was aimed for his head.”
“That’s not— It wasn’t—” Eijirou wipes at his eyes with the back of his hand. “With my quirk, it wasn’t a big deal.”
“It meant a lot to him, though.” Toogata’s crying again when Eijirou looks up, tears silently running down his face. “He told me he might not have stuck out his internship for the second year if you hadn’t joined. Your kindness mattered.”
Eijirou sobs again, his voice choked off by the way grief wracks through his body, and doesn’t say anything.
They stay there for a while, holding each other on the edge of the bed, until they can almost breathe normally. Maybe half an hour passes before Toogata speaks into the quiet of the room again.
“Are you going to the wake? It’s going to be tomorrow night.” Eijirou doesn’t answer immediately, and Toogata continues, “I called my dad when I got back to the room.”
“Is he okay?” Eijirou asks. He doesn’t know what kind of relationship Toogata has with his dad, or how he felt about Tamaki, but from the fact that he already knew more than Aizawa, he guesses that Toogata-san is probably hurting too.
Toogata nods. “He’s … he’s over at the Amajikis’ house … they’re not doing too good, he said.”
Eijirou can’t imagine.
“I thought I’d stay here tonight, and go home tomorrow. I don’t know—” Another look of pain flashes across Toogata’s face. “I don’t know if I can face them just yet.”
Eijirou wraps his arms around him, and decides that nothing bad should ever happen to Toogata, either.
They mostly stick together through the afternoon and evening. The word’s out to the rest of the school by the time classes let out, and Eijirou’s glad he doesn’t have to be the one to tell his classmates.
The support that floods in from his friends does a lot to take the edge off Eijirou’s anguish. Kaminari and Ashido leave him with no shortage of affectionate touch, and a little of the weight of it leaks away through every arm wrapped around him and hand squeezing his. Bakugou quietly cooks dinner for him, with enough leftovers that Eijirou can stuff his face with no qualms. Midoriya, looking like he’s already cried his eyes out and is threatening to do so again, offers to do his homework for the next few days.
But it’s Toogata’s room where he finds himself just as he’s about to head towards sleep.
Toogata lets him in with a soft smile and another hug. His eyes are still red.
“It’s rough, realizing how few of my friends really knew Tamaki well,” he says, the words bursting forth as if he’d been holding them in for Eijirou to release. “They don’t understand what kind of person he was.” He takes a deep, shaky breath. “I don’t know how to explain how it feels that he’s gone, that there’s this gaping hole in my life where he used to be. I can’t even wrap my head around the fact that he’s not going to text me any second now or show up at my door asking to hang out.”
The silence weighs in the room when he stops to breathe.
“It’s always been him, you know?” he says, quieter. “Whenever something bad happens—when I thought we couldn’t save Eri, or when I lost my quirk, or after what happened with Nighteye—he’s right there, and that’s what makes it okay.”
“Are you going to be okay tonight?” asks Eijirou. He knows how things get worse in the dark.
He watches another tremor roll through Toogata’s body. “Ever since I started training my quirk seriously,” he says in a weak voice, “I’ve gotten nightmares about falling through the ground. And Tamaki … he would bring his futon into my room and we’d lay them side by side on the floor, so I could hold his hand if I woke up afraid.”
It’s another layer of pain—of course a person’s death creates this many ripples of sadness, but it makes Eijirou feel even worse. Quietly, he says, “Would it help if I stayed over tonight? I know I’m not Tamaki, but …”
Toogata throws his arms around him in a wordless yes.
Eijirou wakes up to someone holding his hand, and a harsh sound of scratching.
He’s on a futon on the floor of Toogata’s bedroom, and Toogata is curled up next to him, relaxed in sleep. Eijirou can almost imagine that they’re ordinary friends having a sleepover, and that none of the past 24 hours have actually happened.
The scratching is coming from the door. There’s a quiet “meow”.
Eijirou gets up from the futon and walks over to the door, blinking sleep and confusion from his eyes. How would a cat even get inside the dorms?
As soon as he opens the door, a small, soot-black cat darts inside and curls up where Eijirou was, meowing again.
“Shh! You’re going to wake Toogata!” Eijirou whispers sharply, but it’s too late—Toogata’s already stirring, blinking awake and then squinting in surprise at the creature in front of him.
“Sorry, it just got into the room before I could stop it,” Eijirou starts to say, but the cat steps forward to nuzzle against Toogata’s face, and Toogata smiles back at it. Maybe this is what Toogata needs. Maybe—hopefully, probably—their teachers won’t be mad at them for letting a cat into a dorm room, not now of all times.
Eijirou sits back down on the futon and loses track of time as he watches Toogata play with the cat, who seems all too happy to snuggle against Toogata’s chest and purr softly. They’ll have to get up, eventually, and eat breakfast and pack black suits into overnight bags to be ready to catch the train back to Ishikawa, but for now, they have time. Any reprieve from the oppressive cloud hanging over them is surely an opportunity worth taking.
The cat wanders over to Eijirou after a while, and butts its head against his leg. The cat feels even smaller than it looks, fur and skin stretched over bones. Eijirou can’t tell if it’s a kitten or just a small adult. Kittens are more affectionate, though, aren’t they? And this cat seems determined to shower the both of them in affection.
Eijirou can’t help but feel like it’s trying to assure them that life goes on.
“I was planning on catching the noon train,” Toogata says softly, his voice still tinged with the heavy cadence of sleep. “I didn’t know if you wanted to come with me, or follow later and be there in time for the wake. I’ll probably just be visiting Tamaki’s parents with my dad for a few hours, and helping with anything they need.”
Eijirou has met Tamaki’s parents once, when Fatgum invited them out to dinner to congratulate Tamaki on earning his professional hero license, an occasion that Tamaki had mostly spent hiding from the waiters and looking uncomfortable at being celebrated. He’s never met Toogata’s dad. He wonders if he’ll end up being an intrusive presence, hovering awkwardly while the Amajikis and Toogatas try to grieve. “Do you want me to come with you?”
“Yeah,” Toogata says quickly. He scritches the cat, who turns to him. They almost look like they’re staring into each other’s eyes for a minute before the cat tucks itself against Toogata’s chest again. “I don’t know if I can—” His eyes squeeze shut.
Eijirou shifts a little closer.
“I feel like I failed them,” Toogata continues. “I always protected Tamaki, and he protected me. We were always there for each other through the worst times. And I wasn’t ...” He seems to shrink into himself. Disturbed by the movement, the cat starts headbutting at his chin. It seems to soothe Toogata, just a little. “Tamaki said, when I lost my quirk, that he felt it the moment it happened. That he knew he had to come get me.” He’s not crying, not yet, but his voice is becoming choked. “But I wasn’t ...”
“You had no way of knowing,” Eijirou says, putting his hand on Toogata’s arm. “None of us did. Tamaki didn’t know what he was getting into that night either. You can’t blame yourself.” He’s surprised how forceful his words come out. He has to comfort Toogata, though, if he can’t have Tamaki back. And maybe he’s reassuring himself, a little, too.
“I loved him so much, Eijirou,” Toogata says, face turned into the pillow. “I wanted to be like that forever. I wanted ...” Now Eijirou can see the tears start to leak from his eyes again. “I didn’t tell him everything I should have. I didn’t want to be too much.” He takes a breath, and takes hold of Eijirou’s hand. “I’d give anything if I could just tell him, ‘I love you, and I want to be with you forever.’”
It’s like a stab to Eijirou’s gut. Something twists inside of him, a guilt that’s been collecting for months. He knew—there was no way he could have missed it—that Tamaki and Toogata were meant for each other, and it was only a matter of time before they realized it. And yet he’d never been able to quash the feelings that bubbled up in his chest every time Tamaki approved of his technique or thanked him for his help.
“I know,” he says, and his eyes are wet too now, as he curls up miserably under the covers. “I know. I couldn’t help but love him either.”
“Oh, Eijirou,” Toogata says, leaning forward to wrap his arm around him. There’s no judgement, no resentment, just empathy. It’s a moot point now, Eijirou supposes.
The cat hasn’t run off, still settled warmly between their bodies, though it’s letting out the softest mews Eijirou’s ever heard.
“He cared about you a lot, you know,” Toogata says. “He wouldn’t have had anyone but you as his kouhai.”
“He loved you so much,” Eijirou whispers. “He talked about you all the time.”
Toogata winces as if in pain. “I want—” His hand makes a fist in Eijirou’s shirt, against his back. “I want him back, Eijirou.”
Toogata looks up at Eijirou, and their faces are suddenly so, so close. It feels like neither of them initiates, but suddenly they’re kissing hard, the sensation hot and overwhelming, as if for a moment they can pretend it blocks out the pain of Tamaki’s absence. That they both wish they were kissing Tamaki is a fact so painfully obvious it feels tangible, a hot iron pressing into Eijirou’s side where Toogata’s arm rests.
They part, and pant into the silence of the room. The cat nestles against them, its face pressed against Eijirou’s stomach.
“Sorry,” Toogata says.
“Don’t apologize,” Eijirou says quickly. “That was— Well at least—” It was a miserable kiss, and they both know it. “I wish you could be kissing Tamaki like you want.”
The cat lets out a mournful yowl as if to punctuate his statement, and Toogata presses his face into Eijirou’s shoulder as tears threaten his eyes yet again. “I ... you know I wouldn’t care if he was with you, so long as he was happy and alive.”
“I know. Because you love him.” Eijirou lets his head fall forward, pressing against the cat’s fur and Toogata’s chest. “It wasn’t fair,” he says again.
“Yeah,” Toogata agrees softly. “None of this is.”
When they leave for the train station, the cat follows them, and even more surprisingly, darts onto the shinkansen when the doors open, eventually settling into a crouch under Toogata’s seat where it watches the other passengers warily. It follows them the whole way to the Amajikis’ house and paces in front of the door impatiently.
“It seems like bad luck to leave it outside,” says Toogata. More quietly, he continues, “It feels like ... it’s watching over us, somehow.”
“We can’t bother the Amajikis with a strange cat, though,” says Eijirou, biting his lip, and Toogata frowns.
At that moment the cat jumps unexpectedly, knocking over the white paper lantern that’s been placed on the step. Toogata and Eijirou exchange an unhappy look, and Toogata reluctantly shoos away the cat while Eijirou hastily brushes the dirt off the lamp and replaces it in its position.
Toogata’s father lets them inside, and the Amajikis are nowhere to be seen—probably in Tamaki’s room with the body. Toogata-san takes their bags to set aside for now, and their condolence money to give to the Amajikis later. Then he hugs Mirio, a tight embrace that goes on for minutes, while Eijirou tries to figure out what to do with himself.
They’re talking, but very quietly, and Eijirou can’t hear what they’re saying.
On the other side of the room, a door opens, and Tamaki’s mother and father step into the room. Mirio was right—neither of the Amajikis look like they’re holding up well. Tamaki’s mother, in particular, looks like she hasn’t slept a wink, and her eyes are red and swollen. Mirio gives them each a hug, then quietly introduces Eijirou, who shakes their hands and gives them as genuine a smile as he can muster. They do not smile back.
“I’m sorry,” Eijirou mumbles. “He was an amazing hero,” he adds, even though he knows that doesn’t begin to address the depth of the loss they’ve experienced. “I’m sorry ... sorry for your loss.”
Tamaki’s mother inhales like she’s going to start crying again, and Mirio steps forward so she can fall into his arms.
The other guests filter in gradually. They’re mostly members of Tamaki’s extended family, though Mirio’s older sister also arrives, looking considerably more stoic than her father or brother. Nejire arrives, too, wearing an understated black dress and a pained expression, which both look wrong on her. And Fatgum is there, looking a little smaller than usual, his face set in a grim line.
Each arriving guest offers condolences to Tamaki’s mother and father. The new arrivals seem to be a relief to the Amajikis, who let more distant relatives take care of all the tasks that need to be done, particularly setting up the seating and the altar.
The altar’s empty now, as the guests take their seats, but Eijirou dreads the moment the coffin will be brought out. The Toogatas sit up front with Tamaki’s parents, while Fatgum, Eijirou and Nejire sit several rows back, among his more distant relations.
The door to Tamaki’s room opens. Nejire takes Eijirou’s hand and squeezes it. All the sound drains out of the room. The smell of incense chokes the air.
Tamaki’s mother makes the first shuddering sob, and then Eijirou’s crying too.
Tamaki’s father is the first to approach the coffin to say his farewells, and the room is small enough that Eijirou can hear what he’s saying. His words are a bit stiff and formal, and Eijirou can’t help but get the sense that he’s keeping a stiff upper lip for his wife’s sake. It’s her turn next, and she leans on her husband as she walks to the altar.
“Tamaki,” she says, and despite her tears, her voice rings clearly through the room. “From the time you were a little boy wishing to be a hero some day, I carried this fear. I always wanted to protect you, when so much in the world hurt you. A mother cannot be so selfish as to keep her son from his dreams, but I’m selfish. I selfishly wish I had kept you here, safe. I selfishly wish we had more time with you, even at the price of denying you your dreams. Could you not have been kinder to your mother, not to take away her only son?”
There’s only silence, of course.
The next few mourners are older—Eijirou assumes they’re Tamaki’s grandparents. As they describe scenes from Tamaki’s childhood, Eijirou watches Mirio, who looks to be the next in the order. He’s leaning against his dad, his body shaking with tears again. The tear tracks on his face reflect the candlelight as he approaches Tamaki’s body.
He picks up Tamaki’s hand, staring at the body for minutes before he finally speaks. “Tamaki ... you’re the whole reason I got into UA, and the reason I kept going after I lost my quirk. You meant a lot more to your friends, and your family, and the people you protected, than you ever knew, and I wish I had told you how much you meant to me. You should be at UA right now, studying for the next test. You should be looking forward to a long life of heroism and bravery. But I also wish I could tell you ... you’re already a hero. To Eri, and to so many other people, and to me. And I want you to know that I’m not going to give up, even after this. You’ve done so much for me, and now I can’t ever give it back to you, but I can make sure that nothing you did in your life will ever be useless. I love you, more than anything in the world.”
His face screws up again, and Toogata-san walks up to help guide him back to his seat.
Aside from the handful of people who were closest to Tamaki, most of the guests don’t have much to say. Nejire, on the other hand, can barely contain her anger.
“Tamaki, this world is rotten to the core,” she rails, “if something like this can happen in it. You of all people didn’t deserve this! It’s cruel and useless and unfair! You don’t know how badly I want to smash this whole altar, knock over all the incense, and pull you out of that coffin and back into the world of the living where you belong. I want to hunt down your murderer and make him hurt, Tamaki. I want him to feel your pain, and my pain, and the pain of everyone in this room combined. How dare he not know! How dare he go on living while you’re dead!” Her fists banging against the coffin startle the mourners, and then her head droops in defeat. As she walks back to her seat, tears drip from her face onto the floor.
It’s Eijirou’s turn. He’s unsteady as he walks to the front of the room, knowing he’s a crying mess, knowing everyone here has known Tamaki far longer than he has. He has no idea what he’s going to say.
Tamaki’s body is dressed in a white kimono, right over left. The color has gone out from even the tips of his ears, but his expression is maybe more relaxed than it ever was in life. That’s Tamaki, and he really is dead. Maybe subconsciously he’d been holding out some hope that this was a giant mistake, or an elaborate prank, but the body is finality. This is his last chance to say goodbye, and tomorrow Tamaki’s body will be burned, and then all that’s left of that face will be ashes and pictures and memories.
Surrounding his body are dozens of origami butterflies.
“Hi, Tamaki ... I miss you so much. I don’t know how I’m going to go back to Osaka without you. You did so much for me, and I don’t know if you understood how much I looked up to you. You and I aren’t the kind of people whose bodies move without thinking, so I know that every day you were a hero, it was because you chose to be. I know that you died because you were the bravest person in that convenience store.”
He means to go on, but the sound of the door opening distracts everyone for a moment. It’s the priest, bowing and apologizing for his tardiness. But all Eijirou sees is the black smudge darting around his leg and running straight toward the coffin.
“I’m so sorry, it followed us here—” Eijirou starts to explain, but he’s cut off when the cat leaps up onto the altar in front of him. Before Eijirou can stop it, it climbs into the coffin, landing a paw on Tamaki’s pale face.
It instantly drops dead.
For a moment, a chill runs down Eijirou’s spine.
And then Tamaki coughs and sputters to life.
There’s a roar of sound from behind Eijirou as everyone starts moving and talking at once. In front of him, Tamaki struggles to breathe, and Eijirou fumbles to remove the cotton from his mouth and nostrils. After a deep gasp, Tamaki rolls over and presses his face into Eijirou’s chest.
“Please get me out of here,” he says in a wheeze.
Eijirou nods and picks him up out of the coffin, holding him close to his chest. He tells himself it’s so Tamaki can hide from the whole room’s attention smothering him, and Tamaki does in fact tuck his face into Eijirou’s shoulder, refusing to meet anyone’s eyes. Eijirou can’t deny, though, that the reason he holds Tamaki quite so close is that he never wants to let him go.
“He’s fine, I’m just getting him away from the crowd!” Eijirou shouts above the rapidly-growing din. He can’t really blame them. They did just see a dead body come back to life.
Tamaki’s coughing against Eijirou’s blazer, and still seems like he’s having trouble breathing. Eijirou gets him into his bedroom and lays him on the futon, which is still surrounded by flowers and incense. It’s probably terrible luck to lay him back on his corpse’s bed, but if Tamaki doesn’t care then Eijirou doesn’t.
His mom runs into the room and drops to her knees beside the futon. “Tamaki, Tamaki, Tamaki, please tell me you’re okay, please say we’ve woken up from this nightmare.”
Mirio runs into the room right behind her and closes the door, shutting out the commotion in the living room. He rushes to Tamaki and pulls him into a hug, both of them squeezing each other so tight Eijirou almost feels he should look away.
“I’m okay, please don’t worry about me,” Tamaki says, muffled.
Tamaki’s mother is stroking her son’s shoulder. “I asked everyone to give you your space for a while.” She turns to Eijirou with an apologetic smile. “Thank you for taking care of him, but Tamaki would rather not have a bunch of people around right—”
“Kirishima-kun can stay,” says Tamaki. He starts to relax back onto the futon, but immediately starts coughing again.
“Are you alright?” asks Mirio, arms still around Tamaki.
“I’m fine,” Tamaki says, but then he shudders, so intensely that it’d be impossible not to notice. “Actually, I think I need to go to the hospital.”
And only then does it occur to Eijirou that Tamaki’s body has been dead for almost two days, and that can’t have been good, regardless of how the quirk works. (It had to have been the villain’s quirk, right? People don’t actually just come back to life because their friends and family wish for it hard enough.)
“I’ll be fine, don’t worry,” says Tamaki, closing his eyes and lying down.
Eijirou squeezes his hand and believes him.
One person is allowed to ride in the ambulance with Tamaki, and he chooses Mirio. For the rest of them, there’s a lot of explaining the situation to worried friends and family, a small kerfuffle with an aunt who wants her condolence money back, and finally, piling into two cars to drive to the hospital. Eijirou ends up explaining exactly what happened about ten times, since everyone wants to hear it, everyone wants to be sure that he’ll be okay.
There’s a long wait for them in the lobby before they get any news on Tamaki, and then there’s a limit to the number of people allowed in the room, so Eijirou ends up sitting on a bench with Hadou while the Amajikis and Toogatas visit. She’s already somehow pulled out of him the whole story, with him and Mirio and sleeping in the same bed, and the cat and the kiss, all of it. Eijirou was naive to assume that meant she no longer had any questions in her.
“That sure was a nightmare, huh?” she says, her voice a bit muted from her usual overflowing energy, and yet still out of place for their sterile hospital surroundings. “But it’s not all bad, to have a scare like that, and realize some things you would have regretted never doing or saying, don’t you think?”
Eijirou nods, and wonders what words are being exchanged between Mirio and Tamaki.
Tamaki makes an astonishing recovery, and is back at UA by the end of the week. There’s no question of where Eijirou’s going to be the very first night he’s back—he runs over to Tamaki’s dorm room as soon as classes let out. But there’s no answer to his knock at the door.
Ah. He continues down the hall to Toogata’s room, and Toogata opens the door with a wide smile, a flushed face, and the top button of his uniform undone. “Kirishima-kun! Come in!”
Tamaki runs to Eijirou and smothers him in a hug. “Thank you for everything,” he says into Eijirou’s hair.
For a minute Eijirou’s stunned at the open affection, but his heart leaps at how healthy and happy Tamaki looks. “You look so much better! I’m so happy!” His face is a little warm when he pulls back, and he adds sheepishly, “Sorry I kissed your boyfriend.”
Tamaki kisses him.
It’s just as overwhelming as kissing Toogata had been, in a completely different way. Tamaki is insistent and unpracticed, and confusion is flooding through Eijirou alongside euphoria. When they finally part, Eijirou feels dizzy, and it takes all his self control not to dive back in immediately.
Toogata puts an arm around his shoulder and leads him further into the room. “Why don’t you take off your slippers and stay awhile?” he says cheerfully. Eijirou’s head is still spinning as the three of them lie down on the combined futons that are still spread out on the floor, and he can’t take his eyes off Tamaki.
He’s just as flushed as Eijirou and Toogata are, his face pink and vibrant and full of life, and Eijirou doesn’t know if anything could be more beautiful. He’s smiling softly, and the tension in his movements seems more like excitement than nerves. The sun spills in from the window, making even his dark hair seem to glow.
The narrowness of the space means he’s a bit squashed between Eijirou and Toogata, and he looks wholly content with it, pulling Eijirou in closer as he nestles back against Toogata.
“I really like you,” he says, a giddy nervousness to his voice. “I’m sorry I made you worry, but you care about me so much, and that means a lot to me. Do you want this? Would you be okay with all three of us like this?”
As if Eijirou would complain about any arrangement that involves Tamaki being alive and safe and happy, as if getting along with Toogata is any kind of chore, as if Eijirou wouldn’t hang the moon and stars for Tamaki no matter what.
“I mean, I did already kiss him, didn’t I?” Eijirou replies, teasing but ever so lightly, still staring into Tamaki’s eyes and wanting to never look away.
Tamaki kisses him again, like he wants to devour him, while Toogata’s eyes sparkle like it’s the most wonderful thing he’s ever seen. “Your turn to make up for lost time,” he whispers, his hand stroking Tamaki’s side while he kisses in Tamaki’s hair.
Outside, the sun falls behind the skyline, and then sets. The lights of the city go up as the world goes on, and the three of them treasure what small part they have in the rhythm of life.