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The Definition of Home

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“Hitoshi, duck!”

That could mean one of two things, coming from Denki. Both required urgent action, but only one really meant he was actually in danger.
And a brief overview of his surroundings – calm, light, the absence of screaming – suggested with 99% certainty that it was the other thing.

Sighing tiredly, Hitoshi assumed the well-practised position, putting his leg forward and his centre of gravity backwards in order to brace himself.

A weight crashed into his back not a second later, almost knocking him over with its speed, but the familiarity of it all sent a spike of serotonin and dopamine throughout his neural connections. He hooked his arms under the legs wrapped around his hips just as he registered the tickle of hair at his cheek and unrestrained laughter in his ear.

“You’re gonna break my back one of these days. You know that, right?”

“So tell me to stop.” Denki teased, absentmindedly running his hands through Hitoshi’s hair.

Hitoshi didn’t even dignify him with a touché.

He stayed silent, and for the moment, Denki seemed happy enough to just carry on running his fingers along Hitoshi’s scalp. It put him into a state of calmness – one in which the part of his brain that constantly reminded him he should always stay vigilant was muffled, leaving only white noise.

He was distantly aware that they must have looked ridiculous, just standing there like that, doing nothing but taking in each other’s presence. Not that Denki would notice or even care, of course.

And, as if that thought had miraculously summoned him, Aizawa suddenly appeared in Hitoshi’s vision, stark as a lighthouse despite his darkened appearance.

“Distracted, Hitoshi?” he deadpanned with a raised eyebrow, leaving it ambiguous as to whether he was genuinely pissed off or just teasing. Hitoshi knew him well enough to bet on the latter – not that that made him any less exasperated with the situation.

Gripping tighter onto Denki’s legs, he drew himself up to his full height.
“None of your business. We agreed that you wouldn’t act weird, dad. Remember?”

“You’re assuming that I’m referencing your personal life, when I merely wanted to point out that your stance could use some work. Kaminari almost knocked you over, and that was with warning.”

The snort in his ear sounded a lot like betrayal.
He couldn’t believe his dad and boyfriend were ganging up on him like this.

“Yeah, sure, old man. If you’re going to keep taking every opportunity to embarrass me then I’m gonna stop giving you the privilege of being called dad.” Hitoshi warned bluntly, turning away.

“Maybe you should.”

Hitoshi froze.

He didn’t know where the light had been coming from before – but he was almost certain some of it was snuffed out at those words.

He shook himself, ignoring the pit in his stomach that had no business in being there.

“Yeah, sure, dad. See you later.” He said, desperately trying to sound as easy as the conversation had been only a few seconds ago.

“No. I’m serious.”

The warm weight on his back disappeared, and for some reason he didn’t question it.
Something kept snuffing out the light. He was becoming blinder with every one of his own heartbeats.

He turned towards Aizawa, scared, reaching out, but found only a shadow in his place.

“It makes you sound desperate. Like you don’t have your own real family, so you latch onto the first adult that makes you feel special about yourself.” The shadow taunted him, taking the air out of Hitoshi’s lungs with how similar it sounded to Aizawa’s voice.

“It’s pathetic. Everyone can see that, Shinsou. They know. And they feel sorry for you.”

Hitoshi couldn’t get enough air into his lungs to drown out the voice with his own.
His limbs reacted, though only barely. His fist drew back frustratingly slowly, and then flew forwards, falling through the shadow and turning it into mist before taking the rest of his body with it through the floor.

He woke with a jolt, heaving and scraping at his chest to knock off whatever was weighing him down, crushing him, rendering him unable to breathe.
It took his a few seconds of scratching at nothing to realise that there was no weight.

breathe 4 seconds in.
Hold for 4 seconds.
Then breathe out for eight.
Repeat.
Repeat.

“Fuck.” He said to the darkness, wiping at his eyes.

It was one thing to hear those things in his head, being said by his own voice.
It was another thing entirely to hear it in… well… that voice. One he didn’t have any authority over in order to silence it.

He knew whose voice he really wanted to hear right now, but it was 4 in the morning and lord knows Denki needed all the rest he could get before his make-up math exam later on in the day.
So instead, he picked up his laptop and selected the bookmark that led him straight to that stupid remixed interview starring his dumbass boyfriend making a fool of himself.

It was a decent substitute on nights like this.


Hitoshi wasn’t expecting to be beckoned over to where the Bakusquad were having breakfast, especially when Denki wasn’t with them yet, but he’d had enough caffeine to decide he was awake enough to tolerate them.

“Sup.” He said shortly, setting his coffee on the table.

Ashido was loud and instantly in his face, as usual.
“Hey Shinsou! You know if Kami is up yet?”

“I checked on him earlier and he’s just doing some last minute studying. Why?”

“Wow. Studying alone. Not roping you into it by asking for help when really he just wants a distraction. You might actually be onto something here, Mina.” Sero said incredulously.

“I know, right?” she responded with equal enthusiasm.

Hitoshi rolled his eyes. Of course there was ulterior motive to calling him over this morning.

“It’s just that – we reckon you have a calming effect on him, bro. It’s a good thing.” Kirishima supplied helpfully, only to be growled at by Bakugou.

“Don’t involve me by saying ‘we’, shitty hair.”

“Aww, come on, you have to admit-”

“Pikachu’s caused two dorm blackouts in the last week alone.” Bakugou stated, glaring pointedly at Hitoshi, as if he knew exactly who’d had caused that.

Not that he was wrong.
It was accidental on Denki’s part. Hitoshi, not so much.

“I’m going.” Hitoshi said coolly, stepping away before he could be exposed in front of multiple people who would definitely not stop pestering him about it afterwards.

“Wait – come back! We’re not finished here! It’s about Kami’s brother!” Mina called.
“Also, you left your coffee here!” Sero added.

Damn it. Now he was actually interested in going back and hearing what they had to say.

He’d seen a single picture of Denki’s little brother before, and Hitoshi had to admit he was a cute kid, even if he did have a slightly rabid quality to him. He was a mess of yellow hair with black streaks, wild eyes and worn out clothing – kind of like a younger, more insane version of Denki.

Denki joked that Hitoshi would probably need a whole week to recover his energy after meeting him.

Hitoshi sighed and turned around, checking his watch.
“You have about two minutes to say what you gotta say before Iida drags me off to school early. Use them wisely.”

“Great! Basically, we wanna conduct a scientific experiment to see if Shinsous have a calming effect on Kaminaris. The younger Kaminari brother really needs a massive chill pill right now, what with his whole ADHD plus speed quirk shebang making it impossible for him not to crash into walls on a daily basis. What did you say he looked like again, Sero?”

“A yellow blur.” Sero said with his mouth full.

“A yellow blur, Shinsou.” Ashido repeated solemnly. “Plus, our Kami is worried for his little brother. So say, if you had a younger sibling, we could totally arrange a play date and maybe Kami’s little brother would actually be able to sit still enough for the nurses to vaccinate him and stuff.”

Hitoshi almost snorted at the last part. Denki had told him in detail about what was henceforth known as ‘vaccine-gate’ after it took 5 nurses plus 3 members of hospital security to ensure Denki’s brother got his required vaccinations.
Denki adamantly announced that it was the most iconic thing anyone in his family had ever done whilst vehemently ignoring everyone’s weary glances.

Plus, what could Eri do for the younger Kaminari? Half of him was intrigued about whether it would actually work (after all, she did like Denki’s vibe), and the other half wanted to spare her of the trouble. But…

Oh.

Huh.
That’s stupid.

Eri wasn’t relevant.

She wasn’t really his sister, was she?

“I don’t have siblings.” Hitoshi said simply, eyeing his coffee.

“You’re kidding.” Sero said.

Hitoshi raised an eyebrow and fixed him with an unimpressed look. Sero just brushed it off and replied with an easy smile.

“Dude, I’ve seen only-child syndrome up close and personal. You don’t have it.”

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean, tape face?” Bakugou immediately interjected, slamming his hands on the table.

Just as they began bickering pointlessly back and forth, Hitoshi caught the movement of a familiar hand swiping his coffee from behind him.
Just as it did most mornings.
And like most mornings, he let it happen.

“Woo boy, today’s gonna suck.” Denki said cheerfully after downing the coffee at an alarming speed.

Hitoshi was about to remind him that they were having hero training with Present Mic after his math exam, arguably Denki’s favourite teacher, but Ashido had unfortunately chosen that moment to acknowledge Denki’s long-awaited arrival.

“Kami! You agree that your little brother could use a calming dose of Shinsou bloodline, right?”

Denki blinked.
“Mayhaps?” He said slowly, in his signature ‘I don’t get it but I’m gonna agree anyway’ voice.

He laid his head on Hioshi’s shoulder while Hitoshi sighed in exasperation and interweaved his hand in Denki’s hair.

“They think I have a calming effect on you.” He supplied quietly, amused.

“Ha. That’s because they don’t have any stethoscopes on hand. Because believe me babe, if they did, they’d just hear my heart doing an insane drum solo every time I’m within 5ft of you-”

“Can you not?” Hitoshi interrupted, suddenly very aware of the badly hidden grins and single grimace amongst their audience.

“Oh. Right. PDA. Gotcha. In other news, how does my brother come into this?”

“It doesn’t matter now anyway, bro. Shinsou doesn’t have siblings so we can’t test for the Shinsou effect.” Kirishima said.

“Oh come on, we can’t give up that easily! Shinsou, work with me here, you must have, like, cousins or something? Or are the rest of your family just not anything like you? Be honest.” Ashido blurted, looking at him expectedly.

In fact, they were all looking at him expectedly.
It was starting to feel cruel. It felt like the entire world had stopped with bated breath, just to listen in on his answer.

Just to hear him admit that he didn’t have a family – not really.

But with vague answers like that, came obligatory explanations into the messy details. And yeah, his past was messy, but at the same time he knew it was a lot better than it could have been.

He just didn’t know how to condense that into a short, non-dramatic answer.

More importantly, he didn’t want to talk about it.

“Don’t be silly, guys.” Denki said seriously, just before the silence became noticeable, “We all know Hitoshi here is the product of Aizawa drinking too much coffee one day and accidentally asexually reproducing.”

And just like that, things were easy again.

It struck Hitoshi in that moment that maybe, after weeks of being in Denki’s company and defending his abstract form of intelligence, Hitoshi had gone and underestimated him in the worst way possible anyway.  
The only time Denki had ever asked him about his family, under the covers of Hitoshi’s bed, well past their curfew, Hitoshi had distracted him with pictures of his cats. He’d claimed jokingly that they were his family.
And to his relief, Denki never asked again.

But… Denki hadn’t been distracted at the time, had he?
He was just better at picking up on social cues than Hitoshi thought.

“Jesus Christ, man.” Sero wheezed out in between laughter. “You’ve been spending too much time with Todoroki.”

“And what? His Midoriya is All-Might’s secret love child theory has its merits! Y’all are just sceptics!”

“For the last fucking time, quit sayin’ Deku’s mom had a fucking affair!”

“Ok. Uh.”

The new voice had everyone’s heads whipping around to see for themselves that yes, Midoriya had indeed heard that.
Nobody jumped in to offer an explanation, and the silence was broken by Midoriya clearing his throat nervously.

“Do I want to know?” he directed the question at Hitoshi.

“No. We going now?”

“Yeah, unless you want to stay a bit longer-”

“Nah. I can see Iida getting antsy. I’m coming.” Hitoshi stated before turning back to Denki.

And god, did he hate public displays of affection, but sometimes his whims overshadowed his pride when he looked into those golden eyes and saw that stupid grin of his.

He left with a chaste kiss on Denki’s temple and a whispering of ‘thanks’ in his ear.

Because Denki knew. He didn’t know it all, he couldn’t possibly, but somehow he still just knew.
And despite how uncomfortably exposed that made Hitoshi feel, he was glad it was Denki.

He would always be glad it was Denki.

Chapter Text

The first time it happens, Denki’s the first to react.

He was on the couch, upside down, head lolling off the seat, making a valiant effort to sit still and wait for his turn to race against Bakugou in Mario Kart, when Hitoshi appeared right next to him, sitting quietly on the floor.

“When did you get here?” Denki asked, perking up.

He couldn’t tell whether Hitoshi looked amused or worried at that. Maybe a bit of both.
“I’ve been here for a couple minutes. Thanks for noticing.”

“Oh. That’s new.” Denki replied with a tilt of his head. “This must be what Midoriya was talking about the other day – the psychology of gaming. The Nintendo overlords play excitable music and show a load of bright colours – simple minds like mine are vulnerable to the hypnotism of it all. I’m a victim, Hitoshi.”

It was only then that he realised Hitoshi was eyeing him in a scrutinising way.
And with his face so close, Denki began to wonder whether asking Hitoshi for an upside down kiss, classic Spider-Man style, would count as an ‘inappropriate’ public display of affection.

“Did you stay up all night studying for that make-up math exam? You don’t look like you slept much.”

Denki scoffed.
“Didn’t you see me in hero training today? I was on it. Kendou would’ve needed a trip to Recovery Girl’s office if I hadn’t caught her in time when the floor gave way. She gave me a high-five afterwards with her giant hand. Almost broke my wrist. It was amazing. Not to mention, I was the fastest out of the non-speed quirk types in the endurance terrain race – I thought Present Mic was gonna burst my eardrums, he was so impressed-”

“I asked if you slept.” Hitoshi interrupted him softly.

And Denki couldn’t bring himself to lie.
But with half the class surrounding them, he couldn’t bring himself to bring down the mood either.

“Sleep? Ha. I don’t know her. Besides, it’s not like I’m lacking energy, right? And I can always catch up on sleep later.”

Hitsohi glared at him, unconvinced.

“Don’t worry babe, I don’t plan on taking your trademarked resident insomniac title. That’s all yours.” Denki continued, affectionately poking his boyfriend’s cheek.

“You better have passed that fucking test, Dunce face. I didn’t lose three hours of my week tutoring you for you to fucking exhaust yourself before taking it.” Bakugou growled, eyes glued to the screen as Sero desperately tried to overtake him on the last lap.

Denki knew that the correct answer to that was silence.
His mouth just didn’t get the memo.
“Oh, that’s what you call it? Tu-tor-ing? Felt more like being hit on the head with a ruler repeatedly, but sure-”

“Hey, Kami, come on. He was just trying to help.” Kirishima interrupted him.

Denki sighed and sat back down at Kirishima’s placating tone, unused to it being used with him. He didn’t remember standing up.
Actually, he’d been chuffed when Bakugou himself actually agreed to help him for once. So chuffed he went out and bought Bakugou a gaudy #1 teacher mug and everything (and nearly cried that one time Bakugou actually used it).

And Bakugou’s tutoring did help, a little bit. But…

“How mad would y’all be if I said it all kinda just fell out of my head during the exam? Asking for a friend.”

The game paused.
Bakugou turned towards him.
And… yep. Yeah, no doubt. There was murder in his eyes.

“What did you say?” He seethed, drawing everyone’s attention.

Denki gulped. Being alive was nice while it lasted.
Oh, well. If Bakugou didn’t maim him, he was pretty sure Aizawa would anyway when he eventually marked the test.
Might as well get it over with.

“I said it all fell out of my head and I’m pretty sure I failed again.” Denki said casually.

He winced as Bakugou’s controller dropped to the ground.
“Then why did I fucking bother? Why did you ask me for help if you’re just gonna get distracted by some fucking squirrels outside instead of taking it fucking seriously-”

“I’ll have you know that Aizawa covered up the windows beforehand so that wouldn’t happen again-”

“Even now you’re not taking it seriously! What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Denki felt the stab of those words hard, and before he knew it, both Kirishima and Hitoshi were on their feet.
Kirishima was talking in low tones – ones which usually worked on Bakugou – but Hitoshi’s voice drowned him out.
“Do you have an attention deficit disorder, Bakugou?”

Bakugou paused before squaring up to him.
“What the fuck? No I-”

It was only when Denki heard Hitoshi taking a single deep breath in the silence that he realised Bakugou had been brainwashed.

“Didn’t think so. Go sit in the corner and sing… I’m a little teacup. I guess.” Hitoshi ordered half-heartedly, lacking his usual confident drawl. He waited for Bakugou to take his first step away before turning back to Denki.
“You want some air?”

Denki didn’t know how to respond in a way that would lighten the mood of the room. Maybe if he left, they’d just go back to business as usual.
“I could use some, yeah.” Denki answered, walking towards the exit with Hitoshi by his side.

But that was when they heard it.
And boy, was it bizarre.

Bakugou usually stuck to singing rock anthems during karaoke nights. Every once in a while Kirishima could encourage him to sing pop rock, but he never went any softer than that.
To hear him softly singing the words ‘I’m a little teacup’ was something that Denki, despite his current grudge, really wished he’d had the foresight to film.

But then Bakugou continued singing the lyrics, complete with actions, and an uneasiness at the pit of Denki’s stomach stopped the laughter threatening to leave his mouth. Especially after feeling Hitoshi freeze like a statue next to him.

And then it hit him.

Hitoshi hadn’t explicitly ordered Bakugou to sing the rest of the lyrics.
His quirk didn’t work like this. It didn’t use existing knowledge from the victim’s head.
At least, it wasn’t supposed to.

And yet, the childhood lyrics were being plucked from Bakugou’s brain and leaving his mouth without his will, with the correct melody and everything.

That was the first time it happened. And Denki was the first to react.
By spontaneously taking off his shoe and throwing it across the room at Bakugou’s head to break him out of it.


The aftermath wasn’t nearly as dramatic as it could have been.

Hitoshi apologised and left for air with Denki, Bakugou refused to talk about how it felt no matter how much pestering Midoriya did, and Hitoshi eventually told Aizawa what happened.

“Aizawa doesn’t get it either. I’ve tried getting stuff out of villains’ heads before, even recently, but it hasn’t worked except for that one time with Blasty. He told me to try it again, if I want to.”

Denki set his phone down and moved to sit cross-legged across from Hitoshi on his bed.
“Fine, if you insist. I’ll be your guinea pig.”

Hitoshi leaned back, searching Denki’s eyes for something. Denki wasn’t sure what.
“I wasn’t - Doesn’t it scare you? I don’t know the limits to this. I could accidentally make you say things you don’t want to.”

“Maybe it should scare me, but then again, I’m not really a secrets kinda guy, you know? And you’ve told me before that my underlying secondary quirk is that I don’t feel shame.” Denki said with a grin as he leaned forwards to make up for Hitoshi’s retreat.

“You don’t have much self-preservation instinct, either.” Hitoshi said dryly, and Denki responded by rolling his eyes and placing Hitoshi’s hand on his own cheek.

“Hitoshi, you’re literally my boyfriend. I’ve accidentally baptised you with sleep drool on multiple occasions and you haven’t breathed a word of it to anyone. I mean, that’s probably for your own integrity rather than mine, but still. Do I really need to say that I trust you?”

Hitoshi’s lips were on his before he could really register what was happening, but in hindsight he should have seen it coming. Sincerity brought Hitoshi’s soft side out as well as intense stupidity. And the moon, apparently. Oh, and shooting stars. Denki was keeping a list.

And for some reason, Denki’s brain, instead of melting like it usually did when Hitoshi got like this, decided to point out something that seemed… off.

“You called Aizawa Aizawa.”

Hitoshi lurched forwards slightly at the loss of contact and blinked.
“Uhh-”

“Yeah, like, a minute ago. You called him Aizawa. I haven’t heard you not call him dad in months.”
“Why are you thinking about this in the middle of making out?”
“I asked first!”
“You didn’t ask anything.”
“Fine. What gives? Are you guys fighting again?”

Hitoshi looked away from him at that, his hand on the back of his neck.
“You know, Midoriya’s already confronted me about this.” He said.

Denki then realised it was going to be one of those conversations. A conversation in which Denki asked, and Hitoshi avoided the question.
He tried not to mind. He had fun making up various conspiracy theories about Hitoshi’s mysterious past and motivations anyway. Todoroki had blown air out of his nose furiously at at least half of them.

“He noticed that I stopped replying with ‘yes, dad’ to the register about a week back and then shoved me into the locker rooms and accused me of being Himiko Toga. Resident batshit crazy chick of the league of villains. He almost cried when I finally convinced him I was me.” Hitoshi continued with a snort, ignoring the awkward atmosphere. “It’s really not that deep, Denks. The joke’s just run its course.”

Denki wanted to say that Hitoshi could trust him, too.

Instead, he leaned back, and he played along.
“Huh. Hey, if Toga stole my blood and she was fighting me and claiming she was the real me, how would you know which one of us was telling the truth?”

Hitoshi thanked him with his eyes.

“I’d wait for the real you to reference that two spidermen meme.”
“Hey, come on, I’m being serious. Let’s say she’s learnt how to copy quirks too. I’d know it’s you because I can’t take my eyes off of you when you fight. It’s mesmerising, you know? Like a ninja but, like, more fluid. You could kick my ass and I’d thank you for it, whereas if Toga stabbed me I’d just be generally bummed out-”

When Hitoshi kissed him this time, it felt more like an attack.
Not that Denki was about to complain about that.

But then he felt Hitoshi moving his lips towards his ear, and everything else in the world just kinda stopped registering.
“I’d know it’s you, because who else would short circuit at this?” Hitoshi whispered, sending shivers up Denki’s spine.

Denki was wrong. He was definitely registering Hitoshi’s hand on his chest.
He knew exactly what his asshole of a boyfriend was trying to do again.

“Don’t you dare.” He threatened, trying to sound as serious as he possibly could. “The rest of the class are gonna barge in with their pitchforks and torches if I cause another blackout.”

Hitoshi leaned back, hands up in a surrender, chuckling.

And, lord help him, that was the most beautiful thing Denki had seen all day.


The second time it happens, Denki’s brought back to that one time he nearly set his entire house on fire.

Hitoshi’s fighting style was partially based on self-defence techniques, Denki realised, as he peeked stealthily around the corner from an alleyway.
The thing about self-defence is that you’re taught what to do only after you’ve already been grabbed or attacked. Which meant that Hitoshi was really having to change up his fighting style in order to avoid being slapped and yeeted into the atmosphere by a tight-lipped and scarily determined Uraraka.

Hitoshi was technically Denki’s teammate for this exercise (by chance or by Aizawa’s favouritism for his favourite problem child, Denki will never know) but Aizawa had added a new twist rule at the last second; there can only be one winner.

Momo had wasted no time in questioning the point of establishing teams in the first place, but unfortunately Aizawa had already crawled back into his sleeping bag to ignore them.
Classic Tired-zawa.

It must’ve been some kind of complicated strategy thing, Denki thought, as he watched some teams act like opponents from the start, whereas others worked together until they were the last two standing and then had to fight each other.
When Denki and Hitoshi were called up to go against four other teams, he decided to stop overthinking it – the only truly wrong solution was surely being generally bad at communication and not discussing whether you were gonna act like teammates or opponents.
Right?

“Hey Hitoshi?”
“Mhmm?”
“If we’re gonna fight, do you wanna save that ‘till the end?”
“Sure. We working together before that?”
“I don’t know, man. Let’s improvise.” Denki replied with a shrug, whilst Hitoshi nodded and pulled up his mask.

As it happened, they found themselves splitting up into different directions upon seeing multiple opportunities to fight at once.

Which led to Denki’s current dilemma.
He was pretty sure Uraraka was the only one left standing other than him and Hitoshi.
So should he help take Uraraka down, and then fight a battle-ready Hitoshi, or should he wait for one of them to become exhausted after beating the other, then swoop in to take the easier victory?

On one hand, Hitoshi was his boyfriend and teammate and he really should do the honourable thing and help him.
On the other hand, Denki generally liked winning. He had a streak going.

Hitoshi glared daggers when he finally made eye contact and saw that Denki had ultimately chosen to lean lazily against the wall, enjoying the show with a shit-eating grin and a teasing wave.
He continued fighting though, dipping and dodging and kicking and occasionally trying to get just the smallest verbal reaction from Uraraka.

She was having none of it.
Finally, with an underhanded move that drew a low whistle from Denki’s mouth, she managed to just about scrape the tips of her fingers against Hitoshi’s knee as he drew back from a kick.
The loss of gravity disorientated him and Uraraka wasted no time in pushing him up.

She then turned around and fixed Denki with a stare that, in all honesty, terrified him. Sometimes he wondered where she kept this version of herself tucked away, all manic eyes and an alarming post-fight glow, when she wasn’t on the battleground.

Her slow smile alerted him of the fact that she had a plan.
Her fingers inched closer together, slowly, as she stood there, watching Denki, and Denki was half shocked and mildly impressed when he realised that she was going to use Hitoshi as bait.

The scenario suddenly played out in his head; she releases Hitoshi, he falls, and Denki being Denki has no choice other than to run to try to make sure his boyfriend doesn’t faceplant the damn concrete. Right towards Uraraka’s waiting hands.

Was it a bluff?
Probably not, with Recovery Girl waiting on the side.
Did he have a choice?
Nada.

“Savage.” Denki uttered to himself with a small laugh, already running forwards.

He only came up with a countermeasure the split second in which Hitoshi started falling and Uraraka’s hand was centimetres away from his fast-passing body.

And it’s a damn good thing that electricity travels fast and was practically already leaking out of his pores from the thrill of watching Hitoshi fight.

Uraraka probably didn’t have a choice but to follow through with her movement, only for her arm to sink into the electrical field surrounding Denki’s body. She spasmed and yelped before sinking back, but Denki didn’t get a chance to look at her face as he flew past her, holding his arms out to try to catch Hitoshi in a princess carry.

Which, in theory, could have totally worked.

…Nah, who was he kidding?
It worked out in practise just as it would have in theory; with Denki underestimating gravity, and also underestimating the speed at which he was going, and ending up slamming into his boyfriend, rolling on the ground and ending up with half a dozen bruises and a groaning body crushing at least half of his ribs.

“Hitoshi, honey, when you said you fell for me, I wasn’t expecting a practical demonstration.”

Hitoshi coughed and drew himself up, meeting Denki’s eyes.
“God, I love you.”

Denki checked all his teeth were still there before grinning openly. Would making out with Hitoshi in the middle of a hero class exercise with all of their classmates and teachers watching count as an ‘inappropriate’ public display of affection?

Whatever the answer to that was, the moment was lost at the sound of approaching footsteps. With one last nod at each other, the two scratched-up boys got to their feet and apprehended a pissed off and slightly burnt-smelling Uraraka.

The fight from that point on was stacked entirely unfairly in favour of the close-range fighting style of Hitoshi and the long-range support from Denki.
Uraraka knew this, of course, but she was the type to squeeze as much out of a fight as possible. Just like how she had some magic ability to squeeze every last miniscule atom of toothpaste from its tube, even after the entire class had sworn down that it was empty. She did seem to have some weird complex over wastefulness. Denki had even seen her snap at Todoroki for attempting to throw out overripe bananas. He’d never seen him look so sheepish.

Wait, wasn’t he supposed to be fighting?

Denki suddenly leapt backwards upon seeing a hand coming for his face, and instinctually sent a small lightning bolt towards it, knocking Uraraka off her feet.

“She’s gonna get up again, isn’t she?” Hitoshi sighed.

Denki watched as she did, indeed, and smiled up at his partner.
“Don’t pretend like you don’t enjoy fighting her, Hito-”

Denki’s mouth froze, and he forgot what he was saying.

Probably due to the sudden fog in his mind.

For a split second he wondered whether this was a slow reaction to overusing his quirk, but he wasn’t even close enough to his limit to warrant a ‘thumbs-up, brain cells down, WHEYYY’ incident.

Which meant…

“Don’t worry, Denks. I’m still saving you for the end.” Hitoshi teased.

…That asshole.

Denki didn’t know why he hadn’t expected to be brainwashed before the final hurdle, especially after his atrocious effort at being a good teammate earlier. At least Hitoshi hadn’t brainwashed him using memes again. Denki swore he would staple his own mouth shut if Hitoshi continued quoting classic vines (Road work ahead?) that Denki couldn’t help but complete (Uhh, yeah, I sure hope it does).  

Oh well.
At least he could still watch Hitoshi, now using his capture weapon to try to get the last of the fight out of Uraraka. She was finally getting to the stage where she was genuinely starting to crumble with exhaustion.
Denki found himself wondering whether Hitoshi would knock him out of the brainwashing before he fought him, or just take the easy win.

And that was when he heard it.
New, heavy footsteps, coming from behind him.
Oh. So there was someone standing other than the three of them, huh? Not being able to turn around to greet them was downright torture.

“It’s about fucking time!” Uraraka shouted, the swear word being said in her voice sounding spiky to Denki’s ears.

He could see the way Hitoshi’s eyebrows furrowed with focus as he took a second to glance in the direction of the approaching figure. Uraraka took advantage of this, perking up with a burst of energy from nowhere and suddenly putting Hitoshi on the defensive.

Denki recognised this as another strategy; Hitoshi’s focus could only stay on Denki’s frozen body for a split second before it had to be drawn back to Uraraka in order to prevent her from using her quirk again.
Which meant that Hitoshi was in no state to give Denki specific orders to successfully apprehend whoever the fuck was really taking their time to reach them.

“Use a different quirk and help me!” Uraraka practically growled, reaching for Hitoshi’s capture weapon and only managing to snag it with two fingers before it was wrenched out of her grasp.

“You’re handling yourself just fine, Uravity. There’s no use rushing in this heavy state to take out a brainwashed dummy.”

Denki knew that taunting voice, and it drew an internal groan from him.
Classic Monoma.

“Leave him, right now you need to-”

“Denki, fight him!” Hitoshi yelled over her, and then had to duck an approaching kick before regaining his stance and going in for a punch.

And then Denki found himself turning around.

The movement – the movement was still automatic. That’s something he’d become accustomed to, after fighting Hitoshi multiple times in hero training.

But this time, in his head, it was almost like… digging. The fog was still there, and strong, and Denki had to concentrate to even really keep track of what was happening, but it was going deeper than he knew possible this time. Like it was searching for something that was missing.

And then flashes of… things crossed his mind, as if triggered by the word ‘fight’; stuff like the first time he ever fired his quirk away from him rather than having it just orbit around his body. His mom had rushed in with a fire extinguisher ten seconds later and they had to replace all the furniture in the living room. His dad had been so proud.

This was it, Denki registered vaguely.
This was the second time Hitoshi had been able to use his quirk in this way.

The fog then focused on the word ‘him’ and Denki was suddenly aware of an entirely silver Monoma approaching him. Tetsutetsu’s quirk, his brain whispered to the fog.

Denki’s arm raised by itself, and his quirk left him just as it had that fateful day of his childhood; messy, uncontrolled, and destructive.
It struck the ground, the fire hydrant to his left, the STOP sign to his right, and right smack-bang in the middle of Monoma’s chest, all within the blink of an eye. And that was all Denki saw before he himself was blown back from the force, landing with a thud on his back.

He blinked.
The fog was gone.
As was half of his intelligence, after being forced to teeter on the edge of his wattage limit, but that was old news.

The first thing he did was scramble to his feet, ignoring the ache in pretty much every joint and muscle he owned, to run over to where Monoma was still slightly twitching.
Twitching was good, right?

And upon feeling the strong pulse under his fingers, through skin that was no longer silver, Denki tilted his head back and sighed in relief.

Accidentally murdering Monoma would’ve sucked. Hitoshi was fond of him.

Hitoshi.

Denki’s head swerved around to where he remembered Hitoshi and Uraraka had been fighting.
It was an eerily still sight.

Hitoshi was standing, breathing hard, eyes wide and disbelieving.
Uraraka was on the floor, knocked out.
Hitoshi’s eyes darted down to her, and then back up to Denki’s.

His eyes and stance changed.
And Denki grinned.

Hitoshi was suddenly approaching him fast with his (insulated) capture weapon, meanwhile Denki kept his distance, looking for an opening to strike with the last dregs of his electricity.
He could tell Hitoshi was exhausted and half beaten-up by Uraraka, which complimented Denki’s two remaining brain cells perfectly. It was anyone’s game.

For a minute or so, it was very much a back-and-forth of the capture weapon slipping off and lightning bolts missing their target. Denki couldn’t help but laugh at how dishevelled Hitoshi looked as he got more and more frustrated about Denki slipping from his grasp.

Maybe it was the lack of functioning brain cells, but Denki thought it would be funnier to stop attacking and instead keep evading. Hitoshi might just lose his shit. It would be hilarious.

That was definitely his downfall.

His wrist got wrapped up just tight enough to prevent him from slipping out, and along with that came more loops wrapping around his head, midsection, legs, and arms.
His winning streak was about to shatter before his eyes.

But then an idea hit him, and he had to do it. He just had to. It was too funny not to.

Instead of pulling away, he used what little remaining leg motility he had to run towards Hitoshi. The capture weapon went slack as he approached. Hitoshi’s smirk dropped and his eyebrows raised.

Denki couldn’t contain his laughter as he launched himself right into Hitoshi, gripping onto him like a koala, before unleashing 90% of his remaining electricity.

Which wasn’t a lot.
But Hitoshi must’ve been hiding just how exhausted he was, and Denki’s last brain cell reminded him just in time to grip back of Hitoshi’s head to keep it from hitting the concrete too hard on his way down.

Everything became still after that.

If you didn’t count the shaky finger guns aimed at an approaching Recovery Girl and Aizawa, the latter of which looking like he really needed a coffee.


“Kaminari, I completely understand if you don’t want to talk about it – Kacchan refuses to and I completely respect that, but I have to ask-”

“Chill, Mido-bro.” Denki said, gripping Midoriya’s arm to lead him into his room. “I don’t know if I can describe how Hitoshi’s new special move feels like, without, like, maybe making up a few new words along the way – it was hella weird - but I’ll try my best.”

“Ah! Thank you so much, Kaminari, and that’s fine! I wouldn’t expect any different!”

Denki held up a hand.
“If.”

“If?” Midoriya repeated.

“If you answer a query I have about my quirk. Nobody else will take me seriously.” Denki confessed, grabbing a pen to twirl in his fingers.

Midoriya’s expression softened.
“Of course. I can’t promise I can answer everything, but I’ll be happy to brainstorm quirk-related stuff with you, any time! Even if you refused to tell me about Shinsou’s quirk – I should really stress that this is just kinda my hobby. You can always come to me, OK?”

Wow. Would you look at that. Todoroki has some damn fine taste, Denki had to stop himself from blurting out loud.

“Ok, so, I read this thing online a couple days ago.” Denki started, “It was about defibrillators – you know, those things that can re-start the heart using electricity if someone’s in cardiac arrest.”

Midoriya’s eyes lit up.
“Kaminari! That’s such a good idea! Have you looked into the wattage and voltage that you’d need?”

“Uh. For what?”

“To be a human defibrillator.” Midoriya exclaimed, before hesitating. “That… that is what you were suggesting, right?”

Denki put his fist to his mouth in thought and nodded.
“A human defibrillator. Holy shit, Midoriya. I could save lives. You’re a gosh-darn genius.”

Midoriya blushed at the praise, but frowned at the same time.
“That wasn’t what you wanted to ask, though, was it?”

“Oh, right. Yeah, the article also mentioned that people can lose their entire nipples if they have nipple piercings and a defibrillator is used on them. Crazy, right? Sounds painful, too. And as someone with future plans to pierce a nipple or two, I’m now kinda second guessing it, you know, because of my quirk and everything. Don’t want my nipples zooming across the room when I’m tryna fight baddies, right?” Denki finished with a whooshing motion as he threw his pen across the room.

And then he glanced at Midoriya.
Who looked like he was struggling to form words.
He was also very red.

… At least he looked like he was thinking about it instead of laughing?

“I mean, I like your idea better. I’m totally gonna look into how defibrillators work and stuff.” Denki carried on hurriedly, “I just – do you think my quirk would mess with piercings and stuff? Do you think I should just abstain from them completely to be safe?”

Thankfully, Midoriya’s eyes became clearer and more thoughtful upon hearing that.
Maybe Denki should’ve started with the whole ‘staying safe’ pitch instead of leading with flying nipples.

What followed was a conversation about Denki’s quirk in which Midoriya absolutely refused to say the word ‘nipple’, followed by a lightning round of giving advice and thanking in return, followed by Denki’s account of what the new and improved fog of Hitoshi’s quirk felt like.
Denki asked Midoriya why he didn’t just ask Hitoshi to use it on him.
And gathered from his half-hearted, mumbled excuse of not wanting to bother his friend that maybe he had secrets, too.

He eventually left Denki’s room with a soft smile and promises of a follow-up discussion.

Meanwhile, Denki patted his nipples and reassured them softly that Midoriya was smart and would keep them safe.


The third time it happens, Denki’s not there to witness it. 

But he’s there to witness the aftermath, as Hitoshi bursts into his room, slams the door behind him, and breaks.

Chapter Text

When a crude figure came sauntering out of the shadows towards him, Hitoshi just sat there, wondering what had possessed him into arranging this again.

Maybe, in some way, he missed these little meet-ups they used to have.
The school break between first and second year of UA had been a time of grand discovery – starting with the nice surprise of finding out he lived in the same area as Denki.
Not that they had been dating at the time, of course. Hanging out with him as a friend outside of school had definitely laid out a solid foundation for their relationship, is all.

The second surprise had approached him with an annoying laugh and an insult at hand just as he’d been walking home through his local park one day.

Turns out Monoma had just moved into the area, too.

So, Hitoshi rolled his shoulders, flipped him off, and insulted him back.

And thus, a weird kinship was born in which they would occasionally meet up in the park just around the corner from Hitoshi’s house, verbally abusing each other to the point of laughter.
Monoma had said things to Hitoshi that he would have decked anyone else for saying, and Hitoshi was sure he’d stooped just as low.
It was just their thing.

Plus – riling people up enough to get them to talk was a cornerstone of Hitoshi’s fighting style. It was good practise.

So yeah, maybe he missed it.

“Hey, homo. Like what you see? Do remember that my eyes are up here, though.” Monoma taunted as he approached Hitoshi, raising an eyebrow and smirking in the most annoying way possible.

Hitoshi’s comeback was fast and monotone, as always.
“Not particularly. You break any mirrors recently, Monorail?”

Monoma’s eye twitched.
Yeah. Hitoshi had definitely missed this.

“That’s Monoma-Senpai to anyone whose hero experience is inferior to mine.” He drawled condescendingly, slipping into the seat next to Hitoshi. “And, not that you can relate, but with my dashing good looks, mirrors love me.”

“At least something loves you, Monobrow-Senpai.  I’m happy for you.”

“Not everyone wants to settle for the love of an oaf. How is Kaminari, by the way? Still getting the hang of his ABCs?”

“Funny you should stay that. As I recall, he knocked you out cold the other day with a move he figured out when he was six. So, even if he was still getting the hang of his ABCs, he’d still be able to beat your fragile ass.”

Monoma’s comeback didn’t come straight away. Instead, he turned to glance at Hitoshi appraisingly.

“I can hardly award that win to him when it was you who had him brainwashed, my dear rival. Unless there is more to your quirk than you have let on?”

Hitoshi fiddled with a loose thread in the sleeves of Denki’s favourite hoodie, the thrill from their offensive exchange ebbing away.
“I don’t know. I think there is more to it. That’s why I called you here, I guess. You up for helping me figure it out?”

Hitoshi watched as Monoma’s eyebrows dropped and his mouth opened.
Then his eyes hardened, ever so slightly, and he closed his mouth again quickly.
It took Hitoshi a split second to realise why.
He tried not to let the flash of hurt show on his face as he rolled his eyes.

“I wasn’t going to test it on you, idiot.” He clarified stiffly, shoving Monoma. “If someone’s gotta be a guinea pig for my quirk, I figure it should be me. And you have a copy-cat quirk. So, have at it. This is like a dream come true for you, right?”

“… Oh?” was all Monoma replied.
And one glance confirmed that he did indeed appear to be thoroughly apprehensive.

Hitoshi sighed and shrugged.
“Listen, we can just go back to ripping each other to shreds if you really want. I understand not wanting to brainwash someone. Trust me. But I want to figure out the basics without fucking with someone else’s mind, okay?”

He half expected Monoma to go back to insulting him then and there, during the silence that followed.

“So you want me to, what, ask you questions?”

The side of Hitoshi’s lip quirked up slightly.
“Within reason. Just ask about what I had for breakfast, or something. Anything too personal and I will have to finish what Denki started and murder you.”

Monoma snorted, and the tension broke, just a little.
“Astounding.” He muttered. “Does this mean you actually trust me, Shinsou?”

The question was sincere, disguised with a jokey tone.
And the truth is, Hitoshi had thought a lot about that question before calling Monoma here. Did he trust Monoma not to make him say stupid things like ‘Class B is far superior class A’? Absolutely not.
Did he trust him not to ask Hitoshi actual, uncomfortable, invasive questions?
Surprisingly, yes.

Even when saying malicious things to each other, Monoma always seemed to know when not to go too far.

Hitoshi took a deep breath before replying.
“I guess I do.”

The fog barely gave him enough time to finish the sentence before taking over his mind and leaving it blank, just as he’d anticipated.
He tried to stay calm under its hold. He’d been mentally preparing himself for this for days now.

“Stand up. Don’t slouch.” Monoma ordered, and Hitoshi’s muscles moved to do so instantaneously.

He watched as Monoma stood in front of him, using his hand to measure the distance between the tops of their heads.
He would have rolled his eyes if he could.

“Well, that’s just upsetting. I thought there was only an inch between our heights, but no. You just have bad posture. You’re a tree.” Monoma said, stepping away from Hitoshi. “But, I digress. Let’s start with this – what is your name?”

The fog did nothing to make Hitoshi answer.

“Ah, that’s not an order. I’ll rephrase. State your name.”

This time, the fog did move, digging, just as Denki had described it. It didn’t have to dig far, though.
“Hitoshi Shinsou.” His vocal chords supplied after two seconds.

Monoma’s eyes glinted in the light of a nearby street lamp.
“Fascinating. Now tell me what you had for breakfast this morning.”

This answer took at least twice as long to come.
“A black coffee.”

“Tut, tut. Tell me what Aizawa would say about your poor breakfast choices.”

“Problem child.” Hitoshi answered a few seconds later.

Monoma laughed at that.
“Indeed. Hmm. I’ve heard a rumour that you have humorous names for all of your phone contacts. Tell me what my name is in your phone.”

“Disaster Milkybar Kid.” the fog make Hitoshi reply, making Monoma splutter indignantly.

“I do not look like the milkybar kid. That’s just disappointingly unfunny. I expected better.” Monoma sulked, before looking at Hitoshi slyly. “Here’s an idea – tell me what Kaminari’s name is in your phone.”

Hitoshi tried to fight the fog. He really did.
“Attractive sleep paralysis demon”

“Ohoho. Not as erotic or cheesy as I’d hoped, but it’ll suffice. Tell me why Kaminari’s name in your phone is ‘attractive sleep paralysis demon’.” Monoma ordered with a shit-eating grin. He was enjoying this way too much.

“I thought I was experiencing sleep paralysis. It was Denki sleeping on my chest. He is more attractive than my sleep paralysis demon.”

Monoma snorted, while Hitoshi internally debated ordering Monoma to forget everything once this was over.
“Mhmm. I would offer you my condolences for experiencing something as awful as sleep paralysis, but I’m still salty about that one time you pretended to mistake me for your personal demon.”

Ha.
Hitoshi was still proud of that one.

“Tell me, Shinsou…” Monoma started slowly, before pausing, and tilting his head. “Say ‘yes’ if you think of me as a friend.”

The fog in Hitoshi’s mind dug into not only his memories with Monoma, but the way he felt in his presence. It was… complicated. A lot of what he felt around Monoma was pure annoyance. But at the same time, there was a very clear answer.
“Yes.”

Monoma’s eyes widened slightly at that and he exhaled.
A part of Hitoshi felt sad at how relieved he looked.

“You should have been transferred to the B class, Shinsou. Maybe then, we wouldn’t have ended up rivals. I’m so, terribly sorry you have to put up with those rowdy peasants in the A class. You deserved so much better.”

Fight me, Hitoshi wanted to retort.

Monoma winced subtly and rubbed his forehead before continuing.
“This is quite peculiar, you know. All this power and yet I can’t think of a suitable method of testing the limits of this. All I can do is test to see whether it works, which I have already done. If I go any further, I feel as though I wouldn’t be a very good… friend.”

He then walked up to Hitoshi and laid a hand on his shoulder.

“If we do this again, I should hope we do it properly. I know your class enjoy jumping into fights and running around like headless chickens, shooting their quirks around as they please, but my class have learned about a little thing called preparation. You should come back to me with a list of questions varying in complexity and depth. But until then-”

Monoma stepped back, waving a hand.

“I’m tired. And this quirk is giving me a headache. Go home, Shinsou. High-five the wall when you get inside – that should break you out of the brainwash. And most importantly, be safe.” Monoma drawled with his signature condescending tone, before turning and walking away.

The fog searched Hitoshi’s brain for where home was, and he thought of his house just around the corner. He could spend the night there instead of the dorms, he supposed. As long as he texted Denki to let him know he wouldn’t be back tonight.

But then, the fog began digging. Really digging. Hitoshi would’ve described it as painful, but it had nothing to do with his pain receptors.
Images flashed before his eyes as his memories were triggered.

A dying plant on the front porch.

A black door with three different locks.

The sound of cats purring.

The smell of freshly brewed coffee.

Short nods.

High-pitched laughter.

A stable hand on his shoulder.

Ribbons and hair ties.

Dusty shaving cream cans.

The adoption scene in Matilda, rewinded.

“I’m proud of you”.

Curious eyes, plaited hair.

Dark eyes, a scar underneath.

Hitoshi’s body chose that moment to move, even though his mind was frozen.
And he began walking in the direction opposite to his house just around the corner.


Denki didn’t know what had shocked him more: the flash of purple bursting into his room when he’d been too hyperfocused to register the sound of them approaching; looking at the clock and realising it was suddenly 4am; or subsequently losing concentration in hanging a makeshift hammock across his room and crashing to the ground unceremoniously.

One more glance at the purple flash, though, made him forget about all of that in an instant.

Hitoshi stood there, his back against the door, trembling, with a look in his eye that Denki had never seen before.
And maybe, in an alternate universe where Hitoshi was some kind of escaped convict who’d finally managed to escape the police after a long, arduous chase, Denki would have some context as to why he looked so… tired and wrecked and guilty.

But, this was his Hitoshi.
Which means that something very bad must’ve happened.

Denki was already readying himself to ask what happened and then launch into suggestions to fix it which varied widely from ‘sleep on it, you’ll feel better in the morning’ to ‘I’ll help you bury the body’.

But in the end, he didn’t manage to get a single word out.
All he could do was flinch when Hitoshi opened his mouth and began speaking, almost shouting, the sound deafening in the dead silence of the night.

“It makes no fucking sense, Denks. He asked me what I was doing there and I couldn’t fucking answer because I don’t fucking know and my quirk fucked up and I panicked because none of this makes any sense. I don’t want-”

He took a pause to breathe, and Denki noticed just how tightly Hitoshi’s fists were clenched.

He didn’t know what was going on.
It didn’t make sense to him, either.
And he hated it. He hated seeing Hitoshi like this.

Denki wanted to walk up to him, thread his fingers between Hitoshi’s so his nails wouldn’t dig into his palms like that, but he only got as far as standing up and taking a tentative step forwards before Hitoshi continued.

“Listen, I have a house, ok? And it’s fine. I’m not fucking homeless or anything. And my foster parents are good. They helped me when I was a difficult kid and I’ll never stop owing them for that. I’ve lived there since I was ten, Denks.”

Hitoshi’s voice broke, and Denki took another step forwards, not daring to interrupt him.

“So when I asked Monoma to brainwash me, and he told me to go home, why the fuck did I end up in Aizawa’s apartment?”

Denki stopped and stared at him, wide-eyed.
There was a lot to unpack, but now wasn’t the time for it. Hitoshi was looking at him expectedly, his eyes wet and pleading.
Pleading for what, Denki didn’t know.

“You think of Aizawa’s apartment as home?” He eventually said slowly. It seemed like the only safe thing to say.

“Of course I don’t. I’ve slept on their couch once, and that was an accident.” Hitoshi reasoned, and Denki noted a hint of… something. “It must’ve been a fluke, right? My quirk messed up, or Monoma just didn’t know how to use it properly. It was a one-time fluke, like that time Midoriya managed to escape from it. Right?”

Denial.
Hitoshi was in denial, Denki realised, as he took the last few steps forwards and wrapped his arms around Hitoshi’s shoulders in a hug.

The answer to all of this was obvious to Denki.
And, perhaps for reasons Denki didn’t know, Hitoshi didn’t want to hear it.
He had to say it, though. This was one thing he couldn’t go along with and brush under the rug.

“Sometimes, people are home, Hitoshi.” Denki whispered.

Hitoshi’s breath hitched, and Denki could only assume the dam had burst, judging by the way Hitoshi’s head was buried into his shoulder.

Denki nearly crumbled, himself. He had questions – so many questions – like, why had Hitoshi been so quiet about being a foster kid? What, was he ashamed? That was downright boring compared to most of the other potential backstories Denki had created for him. And why was he asking Monoma to brainwash him? How did Aizawa react to the late night home invasion?
But, most importantly-

“Is that a bad thing?” He asked Hitoshi, reaching up to stroke his hair. “You love them, they’re home to you, it’s human-”

“Stop. Just- stop.” Hitoshi said, his voice thick.

Denki never was one to take orders, though.
“Bear with me here. Eri’s a damn treasure and Aizawa’s – well – Aizawa. Which is a good thing, depending on how you look at it. So why are you acting like this is bad?”

Hitoshi let out a wet laugh, tinted with sadness, and he leaned back to wipe his eyes.
“It’s a matter of wanting something I can’t have, Denks. It’s stupid.”

“Whoa whoa, hold up, the only stupid things in this room are me and that damned hammock I failed at putting up earlier. That’s a long story, by the way. I was feeling particularly jealous of Sero today, with his fancy hammock. He never lets me sleep in it, you know.” Denki said, before slapping his forehead for getting distracted, “But, back on topic, human emotions aren’t stupid. And why on earth do you think it’s something you can’t have?”

“Well, I don’t see Aizawa filling out any adoption forms, do you?” Hitoshi said with mirth, pushing away from Denki’s arms to sit on his bed, head in his hands.

“He let you call him dad for months, Hitoshi. And Eri has only ever referred to you as her brother.”

Denki didn’t realise he was smiling until Hitoshi fixed him with a look that was so heartbreaking, his face instantly fell.

“They’re just a bunch of long-running jokes, Denks. I told you that. And I’m just a sad kid who got too caught up in it all, because, I guess I can’t deny it now – apparently, I want it. I want it to be real. But it’s not real for them. After I graduate UA and my foster parents retire and can travel the world like they’ve always wanted to, things will change. I’ll become another one of Aizawa’s past students that he maybe bumps into now and again on patrol, Eri will be able to look after herself, and I’ll be alone.”

Hitoshi finished with an air of finality, his voice sinking back into monotone. The only evidence left of his breakdown was the slight redness around his eyes.

Denki wondered if it was worth arguing with Hitoshi; telling him he was wrong, and things would turn out better than that, and he’ll get the happy ending he’s always wanted.
No chance.
It would sound cheesy and insincere to Hitoshi, even if Denki did believe it.

“I wasn’t in on it.”

“What?”

“The joke.” Denki supplied, sitting close to Hitoshi. “I mean, it probably doesn’t mean much coming from me, but I never knew it was a joke. It always seemed pretty legit, and like, right, to me, you know? Actually, one of my potential backstories for you was that Aizawa is actually your biological father and you’ve both been fucking with everyone this entire time.”

That didn’t do anything to cheer Hitoshi up like Denki was hoping it would, but it did make him look up from the floor. That was something.

“Why wouldn’t it mean much coming from you?” he asked quietly.

“I’m slow. Jokes go over my head all the time.”

“Whose words are those?” Hitoshi asked, a slight edge to his voice.

“My own, man. Don’t need someone else to point out that I ain’t the sharpest tool in the shed for me.”

Hitoshi just sighed.
“It actually means a lot, coming from you. It’s nice knowing you didn’t spend the last few months secretly thinking that I’m some pathetic kid who latched onto the first adult that made me feel special.”

Denki hissed.
“Whoa. Dude. Harsh. Whose words are those?”

Hitoshi didn’t respond, but Denki knew the answer anyway.
This time, it was his turn to sigh.

“Listen, Hitoshi, I love you, but you’ve got issues.” Denki said, grabbing onto one of Hitoshi’s hands and squeezing. “Maybe your mysterious past affects how you process things, I don’t know, but you can’t go around saying you’re pathetic and you’re gonna be completely alone in the future. Like, where do you think I’m gonna be? Space?”

“I mean, maybe, if you keep causing power outages when Uraraka’s drying her hair-”

“Hey, humour is my defence mechanism. Go get your own.” Denki quipped, following the line of veins running up Hitoshi’s wrist with his fingers.
He wasn’t expecting to see Hitoshi’s lips turn up slightly at that, but he’d take it as a victory nonetheless.

“Defence mechanism, huh?”

“Yeah. Like how you use misdirection to avoid talking about your family.”

Denki’s hands and heart froze as soon as he said it.
Where the fuck had his filter gone?

“Shit, sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“It’s ok, Denks. Really.” Hitoshi interrupted him, frowning at the floor. “I know I do that.”

“And it’s fine. I’ve searched up what it’s like to be in witness protection and I know you can’t tell me anything-”

“Wait, wait. What? You think I’m in witness protection?”

Denki just grinned at his confusion.
“It’s my most valid theory at this point.”

Hitoshi pinched the bridge of his nose, hiding his face.
“And your least valid theory?”

“Rude. They’re all very valid. But according to Todoroki, it’s the alien one. Basically, you’re an alien from another planet who wanted to learn about people on earth, which is cool. And now you don’t want to go back to your home planet because you’ve become attached.”

Hitoshi took a deep breath. Denki didn’t know whether it was exasperation or an attempt to prevent laughter.
“What about me suggests I’m an alien?”

It was the perfect set-up. Denki couldn’t resist.
“Because, babe, you’re out of this world.”

Denki felt his face being pushed away but all he could do was laugh in response.

“You’ve had fun with this, haven’t you?” Hitoshi accused, eventually letting up and allowing Denki into his personal space again.

“Had to do something to satisfy my curiosity, babe.”

“My mysterious backstory” Hitoshi said mockingly, using air-quotations, “is nowhere as near as outlandish as that. Trust me.”

Denki half-smiled and leaned against Hitoshi’s shoulder, again checking the time.
God, he’d be tired tomorrow. Was now a good time to ask Hitoshi for his special coffee? Or would he be able to guilt him into finally revealing the origins of that coffee? Denki hadn’t been able to find anything about it online, despite his efforts.

“Things got a lot better after I got into foster care. The stuff before that was… messy, and could easily get mistaken as a sob story. You know how much I hate those.” Hitoshi said, breaking Denki out of his through process.

Denki spent a few seconds looking at Hitoshi, surprised, wondering whether he should speak; wondering whether it was his place to start asking questions.
Against all odds, it looked like Hitoshi wanted to continue.
So Denki kept silent.

“My biological mother must’ve left shortly after I was born. I don’t think she was interested in being in my life. The feeling is mutual.”

Denki took a deep breath upon hearing his boyfriends’ low, monotone voice talking about something so fragile.
This was actually happening.
Hitoshi was telling him about his backstory.

“My biological father stuck around. And maybe when I’m 18 and allowed to contact him, I’ll send him a letter or something to let him know that I forgive him for his fuck-up. I stopped thinking of him as my dad a long time ago, though.”

“Forgive him?” Denki asked, unable to stop himself.

Hitoshi sighed and close his eyes.
“His quirk was like mine, but weaker. He had the power to persuade rather than brainwash – people still had a decent amount of free will under its influence. Now and again he’d use it to get discounts, which I know, is illegal, but I still to this day kind of see it as a man stealing bread to feed his starving family. He wasn’t a villain.”

It took Denki a few seconds to figure out where Hitoshi was going with this, and what needed to be forgiven.
His stomach dropped.
“He used his quirk on you?” He asked quietly.

He heard Hitoshi swallow.
“Yeah. It was never malicious though – he just stopped tantrums and got me to go to bed earlier-”

“Cool motive. Still illegal. And bad parenting.” Denki interrupted him sternly.

“I know.” Hitoshi responded with a sigh. “But, what he didn’t know at the time was that his quirk gets exponentially stronger, the better he knows the person he’s using it on.”

“…Oh.” Was all Denki could say as he began to understand. “So… your free will-”

“Didn’t have any. At least not at home. He’d tell me to do my homework and go to bed, but he didn’t know that would mean I wouldn’t do other things, like eat. He essentially had me brainwashed.”

The tightness in Denki’s stomach was threatening to become nausea.
“Holy fuck, Hitoshi. It sounds like a prison. You were a kid.”

“I got out of it, though.” Hitoshi said quickly. “A supply teacher whose name I don’t even remember noticed I was acting out in school and they contacted the right people. Then I ended up with my foster parents whose job it was to deal with kids… like me.”

Hitoshi hadn’t made eye contact with Denki the entire time he spoke, until then. And whatever he saw staring back at him must’ve put him at ease, because he released a breath Denki didn’t even know he was holding.

“That’s it. That’s the backstory.”

It took a few seconds, but both boys released their tense muscles and sunk against each other in the silence that followed.

Denki was halfway to falling to sleep when it registered just how much Hitoshi had opened up to him that night. It was more than he ever had before. And it sure as hell couldn’t have been easy.
Hitoshi didn’t have to do that, but he did.
“Thank you for telling me.”

Hitoshi hummed in acknowledgement.
“I’m sorry I had to put an end to your conspiracies. I’m sure you’ll miss them.”

Denki snorted and grinned at his boyfriend, but saw that Hitoshi was staring at his bedside table. Transfixed on the packet of pills that lay there, which Denki hadn’t touched in weeks.
He had a frown on his face.

Denki wondered why he didn’t just ask.

Then again, he was too tired to explain now anyway.

“Hey, Hitoshi?”

“Yeah?”

“Please brainwash me into turning off the light. I want to sleep but I have no willpower to stand up.”

“No. Why don’t you just cause another blackout?” Hitoshi teased.

After a brief, lazy argument, they laid in Denki’s bed, ignoring the sunrise shining through his curtains.
A thought came to Denki, and came out of his mouth in a slurred voice before he could think twice about waking Hitoshi.

“Hey, babe, what if your new quirk powers don’t work on villains because it’s like your biological father’s quirk? Like, it only works on people you know well?”

Sleep took him a second after he finished getting the words out.
He didn’t hear Hitoshi’s response.