“Nemuri for the last time,” Aizawa said, slurring his words just a little. “Just because I’m drunk doesn’t mean you can trick me into- hic- into doing something stupid.”
“Okay,” Midnight nodded solemnly. “I understand. I won’t try to make you say anything stupid. I promise. But also hear me out - what if you find a nice person that loves cats almost as much as you do?”
“Psht,” Aizawa muttered, looking to one side and crossing his arms. There was no one out there that loved cats as much as he did. Despite the fact they didn’t love him back.
“And what if,” Midnight continued. “They can help cats warm up to you so you can actually pet them?”
Aizawa stiffened slightly, his breath catching at the thought. If there was someone out there that could actually get a cat to come up to him and see that he meant no harm and just wanted to love and pet them, that could change everything. He could get more cats to trust him and he could adopt as many as he wanted. But he also had to play it cool and not come off as a crazy cat person. Okay. Maybe this wasn’t such a bad idea. He could sell his hero bit, mention in passing how much he loved cats, and maybe... someone would... Some guy would actually...
Maybe that was getting his hopes up too far. Maybe. Would it be illogical to add that to a dating profile? That he was interested in men? Would it make the hero world take a second look at him? Treat him differently? Not that he cared what they thought... more like he didn’t want the extra attention brought to him. God the questions would be annoying.
But if he found a guy that liked cats as much as he did and could help them warm up to him... wouldn’t that be worth the risk?
“Okay fine. One video,” he decided. Midnight clapped her hands giddily.
“Oh this is going to be so great! I can’t wait!” she giggled as she made her way to the desk and grabbed her laptop. She set up the camera and placed it in Aizawa’s lap. He straightened up slightly and smoothed down his mess of hair in his camera image, and cleared his throat.
“What should I say?” he asked before she pressed record.
“Just be yourself and tell them about yourself,” Midnight replied. Aizawa blew out his cheeks in thought, then nodded his okay. Midnight pressed record and Aizawa began rambling a bit.
“Hello, my name is Shouta. This is my first attempt- hic- oops at a HeroHarmony video for online dating. I’m a little nervous, so I’m gonna just... start talking about what I like and hope I get some replies.” He smoothed back his hair again nervously, some of it falling back into his face. “So I am a recent Hero grad from Yuuei. I... love... cats...” He took a breath and remembered one he saw sitting in a box on the side of the road in the rain and how he’d placed an umbrella over it to keep it dry. He hesitated, already feeling his eyes prickle a bit. “Um... I just-” he quickly wiped his eyes. “Sorry, I’m getting emotional...” he muttered under his breath. “I love cats... I love every kind of cat-” His voice caught as the tears threatened to spill. God if they only knew he wanted to love on them rather than being afraid of him, his world would be a different place. He wiped his face furiously. “Sorry- I just I really love cats. And I just want to hug them all but I can’t cause that’s crazy. I can’t hug every cat but I want to.” He sniffed trying to get a hold of himself. “I want to... I want to.” He took a steadying breath. “Um... I’m sorry I just... I get... any time I hear cat I just... I love cats.” He wiped his face again. “I promised myself I wouldn’t cry.”
“Oh my god,” Midnight mouthed to herself as she watched him descend into this crazy mess.
“Anyway,” Aizawa said, clearing his throat. “I am a cat lover, and I love to run-” he paused again, making a face. “I’m sorry I’m thinking about cats again.” He let a small sob escape. “I think about how many don’t have a home, and how I should have them. And how cute they are - and their cute little ears and their whiskers and their nose.” He took a breath and barreled on, full on sobbing. “I just love them and I want them! And I want them in a basket! And I want them to have little bowties! And I want them to be on a rainbow and just in my bed! And I just want a house full of them and I just want us to roll around - I can’t I just- I can’t-” He waved the camera away and Midnight stopped the recording.
“Are you okay Shou?” she asked, setting the laptop aside after saving the video.
“You don’t understand Nemuri,” he cried. “They don’t like me! But I love them! I want to pet them all but they hiss and run and it breaks me every time but I have to keep a brave face on because who wants to be saved by a hero that cries over being rejected by cats? What would the villains do? Bring cat after cat to disappoint me until I broke down in front of them? If it weren’t for my dry eye I’d be a sopping mess most of the time, but for some stupid reason I’m a bawling mess right now because I just remembered this one cat-” his words became a dribbled mess of sobs as Midnight comforted him, patting him on the back.
“It’s okay Shou,” she smiled. “We’ll find you someone that brings all the cats to the yard.”
“Really?” he whined into the pillow on her bed.
“Really really,” she promised. “Someone calm and nice and laid back who loves cats and the peace and quiet - you’ll see.” She rubbed his back some more.
Aizawa sniffed. “Okay,” he said, his voice muffled by fluff.
“YO WHAT UP DEAR LISTENERS!” bellowed Hizashi as he catered to the HeroCon crowd. “HOW’S EVERYBODY DOIN THIS EVENING?” A cheer ran across the crowd. “THAT’S WHAT I LIKE TO HEAR!” Behind Hizashi a screen was being rolled down for a video to play. “WE GOT SOMETHING SPECIAL FOR YOU TODAY! You sent us a bunch of videos of heroes doing various things for us to pick a winner to remix into a song, and TODAY~ We reveal the WINNER!” Another cheer rose up. “SO WITHOUT FURTHER ADIEU~”
Across the speakers blasted a man’s gravely voice. His image popped up on the screen with his face blurred out for protection. Hello, this is my first attempt at a HeroHarmony video, and I’m nervous so I’m just going to start talking about what I like the video began before the remix and auto tune kicked in and the beat dropped.
I love cats, I love every kind of cat, I just wanna hug all of them, but I can't,
Can't hug every cat, Can't hug every cat
I'm thinking about cats again, and again, and again, and again, and again,
I think about how many don't have a home, and how, I should have them...
I think about how cute they are, and how their ears--
And their whiskers and their nose.
I just love them, and I want them, and I want them in a basket, and I want little bow-ties--
I just love them, when I want them, to be on a rainbow,
And in by bed, and I just want us to roll all around, to roll all around, round-*meow*
Sorry, I'm getting emotional.
The chorus kicked in again about loving cats and the crowd was jumping and bouncing to the beat, loving every second of it. When the song finally ended, they cheered, laughed, and begged for it to be played again. It was an instant fave and when it reached online, the song went viral in a week. Present Mic was in the top of the music charts for three solid days with his new remix before it finally got back to Midnight.
“Oh god,” she said, her blood running cold. “Shouta is going to murder me.”
“Why?” Aizawa asked, entering the hero lounge at their agency. “What’s going to make me murder you this time?”
“Uh nothing,” Midnight said, hiding her phone.
“Nemuri,” Aizawa said slowly, unblinking should she try to escape with her quirk. “What. Is it.” A command, not a question.
Midnight took a deep breath. “So you remember the other night when we got drunk at my place and I talked you into making that online dating profile?”
“Vaguely,” he said dismissively. Honestly he hadn’t thought much about it since that night or checked his messages. It was a drunken mistake after all. He was fine. No one had asked him about it, though he had gotten a few odd looks at first. He chocked it up to worse bed head than usual from being hung over, and ignored them. “You know I don’t remember much when I drink.”
“Yeah about that,” Midnight said slowly. “You ah... agreed to record a video, and-”
“I what?” Aizawa said, furrowing his brow. He already didn’t like where this was going. “That doesn’t sound very logical of me.”
“Well to be fair I bribed you with cats and we were very drunk,” Midnight defended.
“Fair, continue,” he said pointedly. Best to quit stalling and get to the bottom of this. He’d need to blink soon.
“Well in the video you started crying about cats, and how much you loved them,” Midnight said, wincing.
“And you posted the video, did you?” he guessed.
“Well that and someone found it,” Midnight hesitated looking to the side.
“Someone found it?” he repeated. What did that mean? Had someone asked him out on a date because of it? Why was she avoiding his eye contact?
“Yes,” she said slowly, looking down and raising her eyebrows guiltily.
“And?” he had to prompt again when she wouldn’t continue.
“Well,” Midnight said, taking a breath. She sighed and handed him an earbud. “Just listen.” Aizawa hesitated. Listen? Listen to what? Someone making fun of him or...? She pressed play and he heard his voice start, then some music kick in.
“What the-” he watched the entire video spliced together with his voice auto tuned into a song, his mouth open as he watched dumbfounded. Someone had not only found his dating profile, but - judging by the views - had made it a viral music video about cats and loving them and... what was that bit about rainbows? Had he really said that? Just how drunk had he been?
“Maybe it’s not as bad as you think,” Midnight said. “Your face is blurred out for protection! Maybe no one realizes it was you?”
About then, the door to the lounge burst open, a group of heroes entering and singing highly off key the very song Aizawa had just finished listening to. The group, led by Kan, looked up and grinned at Aizawa brightly.
“SHOUTA!” Kan called. “I had no idea you loved cats so much dude! I love this song that DJ made of your video! Can we see the original, man? I wanna see what else you said!”
“What’s his name?” Aizawa demanded.
“Huh?” Kan asked. Shouta took three strides, grabbed Kan’s shirt and got in his face.
“What. Is. His. Name?” he demanded again. The other two heroes backed away and Kan felt a bead of sweat drip down his back.
“Uh,” he stammered. “P-Present Mic I think, why?”
“What agency does he work for?” Aizawa demanded, recognizing the hero name.
“I-I dunno! I swear! I think he works for Hands Up Radio though,” he added quickly. “Come on Aizawa it’s just a video. It’s all good fun.”
Aizawa’s eyes squinted at Kan. “Fun.”
“Yeah-yeah fun,” Kan said nervously.
“Uh huh,” Aizawa said quietly.
“You didn’t have to throw him into the vending machine, Aizawa,” Midnight said, keeping pace with him as they walked down the hall and to the front doors. “Now it’s going to take weeks for them to replace the glass!”
“You just pine over the food you never buy Nemuri, what’s the point?” Aizawa snapped.
“The point is I’m winning against temptation to keep this womanly figure thank you very much,” she said. “But with no glass in the way the temptation gets stronger.”
“No I meant the real point, Nemuri,” he replied.
“The real point, and probably the less important one right now,” she added under her breath. “Is that you can’t go around throwing people into vending machines just because you’re angry! It’s not logical as you always seem to put it!”
“I’ll decide what’s logical and illogical when it comes to my personal affairs, Nemuri,” Aizawa snapped again. “Simple as that. Now, we are going to the Hands Up Radio station and confronting this asshole for making such a video of someone who was daring enough to show a vulnerable side to themselves to find a date.”
“Maybe he wasn’t thinking of it like that,” Midnight tried to reason. “Look,” she said as they turned a corner and Aizawa scoffed. They were already half way down the street, the Hands Up Radio station not two blocks from where they worked. “I know I can’t stop you from going down there, but at least give the man the benefit of the doubt! Ask him why he posted that remix of yours rather than just going in there and beating him up!”
“I don’t care why he did it I care that he did,” Aizawa replied.
“Okay but at least he blurred out your face! The people that work with you may recognize you but no one else in the hero world will because you like to keep a low profile, and I think that’s a kind gesture to keep your identity a secret, don’t you?” she tried to reason again.
“Don’t try to talk me down Nemuri, I know what I’m going there to do and there’s nothing you can do or say to stop me -” he paused in his murderous march and turned on her, pointing a finger in her face and startling her to a stop. “and so help me if you try to put me out with your sleeping gas, I will fill your apartment with frozen shaving cream blocks so that when they thaw they fill your entire apartment and you’ll drown in foam!”
He turned on heel and marched up to the building with the radio’s logo on it and straight to the receptionist.
“I need to speak with Present Mic,” he said calmly. Much more calmly than he felt.
“I’m sorry, do you have an appointment, sir?” she asked, confused by his dishevelled look.
“He’ll want to see me. I’m the...” he paused, not believing what he was about to say. “I’m from the cat video remix.”
Her eyes lit up. “One moment sir, I’ll call up there and see.”
There was a few moments where they waited, Aizawa pacing in the lobby and trying to make it look like he was checking out the decor. It wasn’t working very well, but he was at least trying. It wasn’t long however before the elevators dingged and a very rambunctious man in black and red leather garb with fierce yellow hair styled into a tall, pointed hairdo came waltzing out grinning from ear to ear.
“Where is he? The man of the hour?” Then he seemed to catch sight of him. Moving over to him energetically, Present Mic grabbed Aizawa’s hand eagerly and shook it with both of his. “I can’t believe I’m meeting you this is amazing! I can’t tell you how grateful I am that you submitted your video for us to use! I have never had a song go this viral this quickly and it’s all thanks to you opening up and showing us a side of heroes that we never get to see! Amazing!” he repeated. “I’m so thrilled to actually meet you!”
“Present Mic-” Aizawa began, casting a look at Midnight who suddenly wanted the floor to swallow her whole. So he hadn’t just stolen the video... it had been submitted.
“Please call me Hizashi!” he responded.
“Hizashi,” Aizawa said slowly. But now his anger seemed deflated. It wasn’t Hizashi that had stolen his video and presented it to the public, it had been someone else. And now he wasn’t entirely sure what to say. Hizashi had just been the messenger. “I... um...”
“Oh! Before you say anything, that reminds me!” Hizashi burst out. “I was actually going to start searching for you because we wanted to give you a little surprise!” He gestured for Aizawa to follow him and when he led them to the elevator, Aizawa hesitated. “Come on up, dear listeners! Don’t be shy! I promise you’ll love this!”
Aizawa followed with a nudge from Midnight who he cast one last glare at before following the loud blonde man into the tiny room.
“So I know this is short notice, but we were listening to your video, and we were all touched at just how much you loved cats, and we wanted to do something to give back to you and show you how much we appreciate you and your love for them.” As Hizashi rambled, the doors to the elevator opened and they were brought into a studio where a group of people were working in a booth. “Cementos, do you happen to know where the uh... where we put the box?”
“The box?” Cementos asked curiously then his eyes lit up when he noticed Aizawa. “Is that-?” Hizashi nodded and grinned. “Oh man - I think we put it in the office next door.” He said pointing to a door. Hizashi nodded and told Aizawa to follow him. When they reached the door, he closed it behind them and started looking around.
“So we were collecting a donation for all the local animal shelters in the area thanks to the sales from the song and the fans that loved it so much at HeroCon where we released it, and we were going to give them a year supply of cat food each as well as an out reach program to help get as many cats as we could adopted. But we wanted to take it a step further, and-” he said looking behind a desk and coming up with a large, empty box. “Uh oh...”
“Uh oh?” Aizawa repeated.
“Hold on, I learned a trick that can help,” Hizashi said. “Okay so there’s this sound that dogs absolutely hate, but will make another animal come flocking to you to see what’s wrong, and it’s going to be slightly annoying for a second, so I apologize in advance.”
Taking a deep breath, he let out a high pitched whistling noise that made Aizawa wince and shiver and in seconds he heard a mewling noise that came from across the room to break up the sound. A tiny, black fuzzball with a straight tail came waddling across the room from under the couch mewling in concern and made its way over to Hizashi as quickly as it could.
“This little fella is for you,” he said, scooping up the tiny kitten and bringing it over to Aizawa.
“I can’t,” Aizawa said, tears threatening to well up in his eyes.
“Don’t worry, we’ve got all the supplies you need to take care of him for months and all the toys he could possibly want.”
“No, I mean-” he began, but as Hizashi approached Aizawa the fuzzball took one look at him and began hissing and spitting. “That’s why...”
“Whoa, hey, shhh,” Hizashi said, lowering his voice. “It’s okay little listener,” he said, scratching the top of the growling kitten’s head. “He’s not here to hurt you, he loves you already. I can see it in his face.”
“It’s no use,” Aizawa said, deflatedly. “No matter what I do, cats hate me. It’s why I got so sad in the video.”
“Shhh,” Hizashi was saying to the kitten still. He reached out with his free hand and took Aizawa’s, holding it up for the kitten to watch. “See there?” he said, stroking his thumb across Aizawa’s knuckles. “He’s not going to hurt you. He’s a friend. Shh-shh-shh,” he quieted. Slowly the kitten stopped growling and watched curiously. “Want to smell?” Hizashi released Aizawa’s hand and let the kitten smell the fingers that had held the other man’s hand. The kitten sniffed experimentally, letting out a few more silent hisses before letting Hizashi pet him with the hand. He repeated the process, taking Aizawa’s hand in his and letting the kitten sniff his fingers and petting it a few times before bringing Aizawa’s hand to it to smell.
When it didn’t hiss, Aizawa’s heart leapt into his throat. And when it let him pet it, even going so far as to purr, he almost collapsed right then and there into tears. Hizashi had not only brought the cats to himself with the strange whistling noise, but helped one come to like Aizawa.
“You wanna try holding him?” Hizashi asked. With shaking hands Aizawa nodded, taking the kitten and letting it sniff and climb all over him experimentally. He wanted to act cool in this moment, but he could already feel the tears streaming down his face.
“Wow you really love cats, don’t you?” Hizashi breathed. He was touched.
“Thank you for this,” Aizawa whispered softly, wiping off his face.
“You ah... wouldn’t want to grab a coffee at a cat cafe and see if we couldn’t try this again with other cats sometime, would you?” Hizashi prompted.
“Please,” Aizawa said perhaps a bit too quickly. “That would be the best day of my life."