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The Background Boys Week collection

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Ojiro comes home to find two of his housemates sitting in the kitchen, and the other two making the ceiling shake with rhythmic thumping noises from upstairs.


“Again?” he asks, eyes raised to the roof.


“Third time this week,” Sato complains, trying to focus on some paperwork from his agency. Ojiro grabs a drink from the fridge, pops the tab on the can and sits with them at the table.


“I think we should say something,” he tells them.


Shouji shakes his head.

“It would only embarrass them, and I don’t think we should discourage them from this.”


“But it’s not fair for us to have to put up with the noise.”


From the floor above, they hear Tokoyami’s muffled voice shouting, “Keep going, we’re almost there!”


Sato abandons his paperwork and throws his pen on to the table.


“It’s weird,” he says, prompting Shouji to roll his eyes.


“It’s not weird. Unconventional, maybe, but still perfectly healthy.”


“You didn’t see what Tokoyami was wearing when he went to Kouda’s room.”


Ojiro crosses his arms, tail twitching behind his shoulder.

“I’m going to say something.”


Above them, the thumping finally stops. Tokoyami’s muffled voice is heard once more, apparently congratulating Kouda.


“See,” Shouji says, getting up from the table to start dinner. “It’s over now.”

“They were at it for nearly an hour,” Sato tells Ojiro. “I can’t take much more of this. Can’t they go somewhere else to do that? There are places built just for that, so they don’t have to disturb us.”

“Those places cost money,” counters Shouji. “And support heroes don’t exactly earn a ton of money. Why else would we all still be sharing a house instead of having our own apartments?”


In the following silence, they hear a door slam, and someone running down the stairs. When Tokoyami comes into the kitchen, everyone tries to look busy, but Ojiro can’t help noticing his outfit as he goes to grab some bottled water from the fridge.


“Good work-out?” Ojiro asks.

Tokoyami uses the hem of his T-shirt to wipe sweat from his neck. Technically, it’s Kouda’s shirt - baby-blue with a pink cartoon rabbit on the front - but the collar and sleeves have been cut off to make an oversized sleeveless top that leaves much of Tokoyami’s torse bare. His vivid purple cycling shorts show off musculature he never had during their school days. There’s a retro-style striped yellow sweatband on one wrist.


“We burned many calories today,” Tokoyami answers as he shoves a straw in his water bottle. “Aerobics is a surprisingly effective means of staying fit.”


“You know,” Sato says, trying too hard to sound nonchalant, “they run aerobics classes at my gym, with trained instructors.”


“But the Internet has work-out videos available for free. Plus Kouda feels self-conscious exercising in front of strangers.” He takes a long drink from his water, before catching on to the tension from his housemates. “We weren’t disturbing you, were we?”


“No,” Shouji insists at the same time that Sato mutters, “So much.”


“Maybe you could use the living room next time?” Ojiro says, trying to find some middle-ground. “It’s just… the stepping sounds carry so easily through the thin walls here. When you’re directly over the kitchen, it’s hard not to hear everything.”


Tokoyami has the good grace to look embarrassed. Or, at least, he ducks his head and starts picking at the label on his water bottle.


“I didn’t realise. Perhaps we will...explore other options.”


He takes a second bottle of water from the fridge before heading back up to Kouda’s room.


Sato lets out a long-suffering sigh.


“Why can’t they just go running like normal people?”