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the scenic route

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In August, they catch a villain together.

It’s stupid hot, the kind of sweltering heat that sits heavy in your lungs when you’re trying to catch your breath, and Hanta tears off his helmet as they wait for the police to arrive, dragging in lungfuls of thick air. Not for the first time, he wishes he hadn’t decided to include a helmet in the initial design of his costume—it’s by far too late to get rid of it now, and his PR agent would tear him a new one if he even brought up such a drastic image change just so he didn’t have to breathe stale air all summer.

“The police are en route, arriving in five,” Iida says, lifting the visor of his own helmet and crouching down to do a quick check-through off the restraints. Hanta overdid it a bit, maybe, but the last thing he wants to do is spend another hour chasing the guy down the street on a hot summer day just because he skimped a little on the tape. “As secure as always, Cellophane. Excellent job.”

“Ah, thanks,” Hanta says, a beat late when Iida stands and smiles at him. He wishes his suit had pockets to tuck his hands into.

“I know a good udon place nearby,” Iida suggests, “Do you have time for lunch after this?”

Truthfully, Hanta had been thinking about dropping by the agency building and grabbing a quick meal with Denki. He hasn’t seen Iida in nearly two months ago, though. The last time was at Yaoyorozu and Jirou’s housewarming, and even then it’d been a brief moment in the foyer, when Hanta had been walking in just as Iida was on his way out.

“Sure,” Hanta says, “I’m down for udon.”

The udon’s good. Iida laughs too loudly when Hanta tells all the stupid puns he’s heard lately from Denki. They split the bill, grab dessert at the crepe place next door, and part ways at the corner for their respective patrol routes.

“Thank you for lunch, Sero,” Iida says politely before he goes, “It was nice catching up.”

Hanta waits until he’s out of sight to dial Eijirou.

“Hey,” he says when the call picks up, “What does it mean when a hot guy asks you to lunch and you split the bill, but he pays for dessert? Keep in mind the guy’s not a stranger and he called it ‘catching up’ and also it was Iida.”

There’s a pause over the line, and then Bakugou snarls, “It means you’re a fucking idiot. Don’t call while Shitty Hair’s in the shower,” and hangs up.

 

--

 

The U.A. sports festival doesn’t change much from year to year, Hanta reflects two weeks later when he’s wandering the stalls with Denki, trying to scan the crowd for a familiar head of blue hair as his friend signs a shirt for a pint-sized fan.

“Whatcha looking for?” Denki asks around the marker cap in his mouth. The kid squeals when he finishes with a flourish, again when he caps the marker and winks.

Hanta digs into his suit pocket for a Sharpie when the kid turns to look at him next, big eyes round with expectation. Denki’s signature took up almost the entire front of the shirt, so he settles for the shoulder.

“Thank you, Cellophane-san,” the kid says shyly when he’s done, and Hanta ruffles his hair before he darts off.

“Iida said he and Todoroki were coming,” he tells Denki.

“Huh, really?” Denki scratches his head distractedly, squinting up at food stalls, “That makes three from Team Peace then.”

“What do you mean?”

“Midoriya’s the guest commentator, didn’t you hear?” Denki points to a signboard, advertising a large image of Deku in costume with his signature smile. Photoshopped in next to him is a grim-looking Endeavor, wreathed in orange flames. “They’ve been talking it up since September at least, about how Deku’s gonna be in the box with his boyfriend’s dad and the hero who was Number One before him. Mic-sensei’s got it tough today.”

Hanta winces. It’s not public knowledge that Todoroki senior doesn’t like his son’s boyfriend, but the timing of Endeavor’s official retirement notice and Deku’s rapid rise in popularity was a little too good to be pure coincidence. Hawks had only held the title for a brief two months before enthusiastically handing it off to Midoriya, and it didn’t take a genius to put two and two together when Endeavor refused to comment on the new Number One the next time he made a public appearance.

“Anyway, you and Iida’re texting now, or what?”

“What?” Hanta looks away from the poster, “No, I had lunch with him last month. He mentioned he was coming with Todoroki to look for interns.”

Denki blinks. “You had lunch together?”

“Just once,” Hanta shrugs, “We ran into each other during patrol.”

“Huh,” Denki’s giving him a narrow-eyed look, the same one he uses when he thinks a suspect is lying.

Hanta frowns, “What—”

“Cellophane! Chargebolt!”

Denki turns, “Speak of the devil.”

Hanta looks in the same direction, spotting Iida making his way through the crowd in full bulky armor. He’s holding a clipboard in one hand, a paper cup of takoyaki in the other, and his glasses glint in the sun as he raises a hand to wave at Hanta and almost drops the clipboard.

“Todoroki’s not with you?” Hanta says when he draws close.

“He has something to do before the first event,” Iida says, glancing up at the screens projecting different angles from inside the stadium. “We should go in without him. I’ll save a seat.”

Twenty minutes later, they’re sitting inside, watching Present Mic make awkward conversation with Endeavor, and Todoroki still hasn’t shown.

“Midoriya’s not here either,” Hanta observes through a mouthful of takoyaki. He ignores the weird look Denki gives him when Iida offers him another piece. “Did they come together?”

“Something like that,” Iida says distractedly, his eyes darting between the empty arena and Endeavor’s dour face on the large screens.

“Maybe they’re stuck in traffic,” Denki suggests, just as a cry of surprise rolls through the crowd and Iida stiffens. Hanta follows his gaze down to the arena, where a familiar figure in a green suit emerges from the student entrance, waving tentatively at the crowd.

“Uh, isn’t he supposed to be in the commentator box?”

Iida doesn’t answer. A moment later, a second figure comes out from the same entrance, just as recognizable as the first. From the look on Present Mic’s face, this definitely isn’t a scheduled program.

One zealous cameraman finally gets a good shot of the pair as they make their way to the center of the arena, where Midoriya gestures for Todoroki to stop and moves to stand across from him. He starts to speak, but without any mics to pick up his voice, it’s anyone’s guess what he’s saying. Next to Hanta, Iida’s gripping the takoyaki cup hard enough to crush the paper.

“Wait, please tell me this isn’t what I think it is,” Denki mutters.

“Hold this, please,” Iida says stiffly, handing both the crushed cup and the clipboard to Hanta, and digs out his phone, aiming the camera at the big screen. “Todoroki asked me to catch it on video.”

It’s the perfect shot. The screens are split half and half—Midoriya gazing lovingly into Todoroki’s face on one side, Endeavor stiff enough to crush diamonds between his asscheeks on the other. A hush falls over the stadium, everyone’s eyes glued on the two figures in the arena below.

Iida clicks record just as Midoriya gets down on one knee.

“Endeavor’s expression,” he whispers in the ensuing silence, pitching his voice low so the microphone doesn’t pick it up. “He wants it for posterity.”

 

--

 

Predictably, the press has kittens.

It’s the wedding of the century. The country’s sweetheart is finally getting married to his high school sweetheart, and gossip rags across the nation are scrambling to shout their two cents about the newly engaged couple.

“I’ve seen at least five pictures of the ring since I woke up today,” Eijirou says groggily when he gets to the office the next morning. He groans in relief when Hanta hands him a cup of coffee. “It’s white gold, apparently. Three millimeters, no stones.”

“There’s a custom inscription on the inside,” Mina pipes up from her desk, where she typing furiously at her phone. “And Tooru says its two and a half millimeters, not three, but it looks bigger on Todoroki ’cause he’s got thin fingers.”

Hanta rubs at his temples, “Um, yeah. How the fuck does she know all that?”

Mina shrugs, “Fuck if I know. She also says that they’re set on having a spring wedding, and that the invitations are going out in a week max.”

True to word, Hanta gets his invite in the mail eight days later, silver ink on creamy cardstock. There’s a set of little tick boxes for the meal options, and when he checks, the date is indeed set for spring. He resists the urge to smell the card for perfume, stuffs it back in the envelope, and makes a mental note to reply before the RSVP deadline.

 

Iida confirms the rest of Hagakure’s arguably illicitly-obtained information over tonkatsu another two days after that, sitting in the back of a family restaurant smack in between their agencies. They’d bumped into each other while Hanta was on lunch break and Iida was on his way back from the police station, looking for somewhere to grab a bite before heading back to work.

“Midoriya asked him in private, before he got a ring,” he tells Hanta, “so they went and bought it together. I’m not sure what the inscription says exactly, but it’s supposed to be the words he said when Todoroki first fell in love with him. He proposed again with the ring in the place where he said them.”

“That’s actually really romantic,” Hanta says, and then, when realization hits, “Wait, this happened at the sports festival?”

“In first-year,” Iida nods, “their first match with each other.”

Hanta blanches. He remembers the match. Everyone remembers that match. “Wow, that’s intense. I can’t imagine falling in love in the middle of any fight, let alone that one. Guess they really are perfect for each other, huh?”

“Yes, they are, aren’t they?” Iida takes off his glasses and wipes them on a handkerchief. “Speaking of the wedding, will you be attending?”

“Me?” Hanta shrugs, “Yeah, sure. I haven’t RSVP-ed yet, but they’re good friends, you know?”

“Yes, I do.” Iida puts his glasses back on, then picks up his utensils, only to set them down again. “That’s good. I will be going, too. Obviously, because I’ll be in the wedding party. Maybe we’ll see each other there.”

“Probably, yeah, if we’re both going,” Hanta laughs, “I don’t think the venue’s big enough for us to miss each other the entire night.”

“Yes, of course,” Iida purses his lips. For a moment, Hanta thinks he’s going to say something else, but then he picks up his utensils again, cutting into his tonkatsu with a fervor. “Would you like to get ice cream after this? Uraraka took me to a creamery nearby recently, and I have been wanting to go back to try more of their flavors.”

“Sure,” Hanta agrees easily, looking down at his own plate, “I could go for ice cream.”

 

Over the next week, Hanta sees Iida five more times. They eat three of those five times, Hanta’s busy in the middle of an arrest once, and the last time, they only have time to get juice boxes from a vending machine before Iida has to start his patrol shift across town.

When Hanta runs into Iida a block away from the agency building only hours after the juice, he’s more than a little suspicious.

“Have you been following me?” he asks wryly after Iida stutters his way through a half-baked excuse for why he’s been loitering on the sidewalk for the past half hour.

“I got your work schedule from Hagakure,” he admits shamefully.

Hanta sighs, “Wanna talk about it over drinks?”

Half an hour later, they’re sitting at a corner table in an izakaya down the street, and Hanta’s patiently sipping at a beer as he waits for Iida to stop staring at the karaage and start talking.

“I have a favor to ask of you,” Iida finally says.

Hanta nods, “Okay, shoot.”

Iida takes a deep breath and clenches his hands into fists. He says, through his teeth, “Would you go with me to the wedding next May?”

Hanta frowns, “You already know I have my own invitation.”

“I am aware,” Iida grinds out, “I meant. We could go together. If you would like.”

“Um,” Hanta blinks. A flush builds on Iida’s face, from the neck up. Hanta feels a little stupid and a lot embarrassed for even thinking it, but with the lunches and the hesitance and now Iida’s flustered stuttering, he can’t help but hope— “Like a date?”

“Yes!” Iida says quickly, even as he turns impossibly redder, “Yes, exactly, like a date. You see, my brother, he asked me—there was a bet—”

Hanta’s stomach sinks.

“—of course, it’s not just because of that, but my family has been worried, seeing as I’ve been unattached for a while now, and my brother just had my best interests in mind when he dared me, and I didn’t want to disappoint or worry them. I really didn’t know if I should, but I thought, you’ve always been very kind, and it wouldn’t hurt to ask—ah, you really don’t have to accept if you feel uncomfortable with the idea, of course, but—”

“Okay, I think I get it,” Hanta says weakly, holding up a hand. Iida’s mouth snaps shut with an audible click. “So you want us to pretend, right? Is this just for the wedding or like, do you want us to act like we’re going out for a few months on top of that?”

Iida stares at him. He opens his mouth, then closes it. Swallows.

“I mean, I’m okay with either,” Hanta scratches his head, “I did it for Denki back in high school, when he was coming out to his family, so I guess I’ve got some experience? And I don’t mind if it’s you.”

Iida makes a sound close to squeak, and Hanta’s face heats with embarrassment.

“I mean like, I know that you’re a nice person, and it’s pretty cool that you don’t want your family to be worried for you and stuff,” he says hurriedly, “It’s definitely not the worst reason to ask someone to fake date you. Denki told me I’m okay at acting like a good boyfriend, so you don’t need to worry about me fucking it up in front of your brother or anything. And, uh, it’s not like I do this all the time, but I don’t mind if it’s a favor for a friend, you know?”

“...yes,” Iida croaks after a pause. “That would be perfect. Thank you.”

 

--

 

They set ground rules over the phone.

“So, like, is your brother expecting a boyfriend or a casual date or just a plus one for the wedding? I can do any of those, but a boyfriend would definitely take a little more planning and setup before the actual event.”

Hanta’s sitting on top of his bedsheets, taping up a sore ankle from a botched landing while chasing after a villain. He waits as Iida thinks for a moment, ripping another piece of tape off his elbow, and positions it carefully over the rock tape their physical therapist had put on earlier that afternoon.

“I would prefer not to just bring a date to the wedding,” Iida finally says, “But I will not force you to meet my family, or anything as extreme as that. Only my brother will be attending the ceremony, so it will probably be enough if I introduce you to him there. Beyond that, I can just mention you in passing as someone I’ve been seeing for a few months.”

“Okay, nice and vague,” Hanta nods, “And I guess we can pretend to break up once the wedding’s over and all the hype’s died down.”

“That sounds logical.”

Hanta frowns as a thought occurs to him. “Should we tell our friends?”

“I would prefer not to lie,” Iida says immediately. Even through the phone, his voice sounds disapproving.

Hanta scratches his head. “If this was just a family reunion or something, I’d agree, but you know our entire class is going to be at the wedding, right? Like, I don’t like lying to them either, but some of them are really bad at faking it. And your brother’s friends with Aizawa-sensei, so what if he catches wind that we’ve been pretending?”

Iida hesitates. “...I did not think of that.”

Hanta fiddles with a strip of tape. “Um, I guess it’s okay if you tell Midoriya and Todoroki and Uraraka or something. We can just, uh, keep it from everyone else?”

“That would be unfair to you,” Iida says immediately, “I cannot ask you to lie to your closest friends while informing my own. If we must fool our classmates, then we will fool all of them.”

“Oh,” Hanta bites his lip, fighting down a flush, “Okay. Thanks, man. That’s really nice of you.”

“You are the one doing me a great favor,” Iida says, “It is the least I can do.”

“It’s not a big deal,” Hanta scratches his ankle, willing away the embarrassment.

“It is a big deal. You are very kind to accomodate me so,” Iida says, “I will do my best not to cause you any discomfort. Please let me know about any boundaries you would like to set for the duration of our ruse.”

“Oh, okay then, um. I guess I don’t have a lot,” Hanta forces an awkward laugh, “I’m not really the type to show a lot of physical affection with my partner in front of others, so we don’t really have to worry about going very far. We can see as we go.”

“I see,” Iida pauses over the line, “Then I will endeavor not to do more than necessary.”

Hanta doesn’t feel disappointed, because that’s stupid. He says, “Okay, I won’t either.”

 

Iida suggests dinner for their first— date —test run. It’s a good idea—casual, private, and not that far off from the few meals they’ve shared in the past month. Only they actually set a date and time. And Hanta takes a shower beforehand and wavers in front of his closet for half an hour, a chair blocking the door so Mina can’t walk in and catch him in the act.

They meet up at a gyoza place a short train ride away. In the end, at Iida’s insistence, Hanta just wears what he normally does when he’s off duty—a baseball cap to cover his face and an old black sweatshirt big enough to hide his elbows—and they sit in the corner, where it’s dark and quiet.

“You sure this is okay?” Hanta asks as they’re waiting for their food. “I don’t think anyone’s gonna notice that we’re even here. Shouldn’t we try to, I dunno, attract a little more attention?”

It’s hard to tell in the bad lighting, but Iida flushes a little, staring down at the sticky tabletop. “This is already more than enough, Sero. This restaurant is where I would go if I was on an, ah, date, and I don’t want it to seem too unnatural when my brother finds out. If you would like, we can go somewhere else next time.”

Hanta ignores the way his guts churn at the mention of next time. “It’s fine,” he shrugs, “I’m a pretty laid-back guy, so this place is perfect.”

The gyoza’s great, piping hot with just the perfect amount of crisp in the fry, and Hanta likes all the fillings Iida recommends. Between the casual atmosphere, good food, and better company, it’s really not that different from all their lunch meet-ups and Hanta quickly relaxes. At the end of the night, Iida pays for the both of them and walks Hanta home all the way to his apartment building, insisting that it’s only proper.

He watches Hanta buzz himself in and only when Hanta’s about to reach for the gate does he say, “Thank you for tonight, Hanta.”

Hanta gapes at him, the gate forgotten, and hopes desperately that the heat in his face doesn’t show in the darkness.

“I’m sorry, was that presumptuous of me?” Iida rubs the back of his neck. “I thought it would better convey intimacy if we addressed each other by our given names. Of course, if it makes you uncomfortable, I can—”

“It’s fine,” Hanta blurts. “It’s cool, most of my friends call me that already, so it’s okay.”

“Alright then,” Iida gives him a small smile, “I hope you have a good night, Hanta. Please let me know when you are available for our next meeting.”

“Yeah, sure, I’ll text,” Hanta swallows, reaching for the gate again. “Good night, uh, Tenya.”

He escapes into the building before Iida can see how red he is.

 

‘Dating’ Iida— Tenya —is nice.

Not that Hanta thought it wouldn’t be nice. He’s aware that Tenya’s attractive—he doesn’t live under a rock —and he knows that Tenya is considerate and kind to the people he cares for. On top of that, he’s extremely competent at his job and passionate about his values—he’s the whole package, really, and Hanta’s seen enough of thirst Twitter to know that he’s not the only person to make this realization since the second Ingenium’s debut.

The thing is, Hanta’s always been under the impression that Tenya was the type of person to show his affection very overtly. He’s certainly never hesitated to proclaim his admiration towards his fellow classmates and Pro Heroes loudly and effusively, and it was only natural for Hanta to assume this behavior would carry over to his romantic relationships. It’s not that Hanta finds his praise disingenuous or that he dislikes Tenya’s straightforwardness, but rather that he himself prefers not to be as...conspicuous when he’s dating someone.

He’s pleasantly surprised to find that Tenya is, in fact, really good at being subtle when he wants. He researches Hanta’s interests and takes him to places that are out of the way and private, where he can relax without the fear of being caught by paparazzi, and almost always ends up walking Hanta home, leaving a careful space between them the entire time. As loud as his hero persona is, he always speaks to Hanta in a quiet tone, as if his words are only for Hanta to hear, and more often than not, he’s content to sit in companionable silence when they’re both tired from long days at work.

“We should go somewhere or do something you like,” Hanta tells him once, “You don’t have to cater to my preferences or anything. Let me know if you want me to, like, buy you flowers or something. If I’m going to be a good boyfriend, I should do things for you that you like too, right?”

From the way he flushes, Tenya’s certainly not opposed to the idea, but he only says, “We are supposed to be dating in secret right now, and it would only be a waste of money to buy flowers for each other. And I enjoy myself plenty when we meet for meals. I think our relationship is already very convincing as is.”

“Oh. Okay, then,” Hanta nods and tries not to feel guilty when Tenya suggests going to a movie that Hanta mentioned he’s been wanting to see for months.

 

--

 

The engagement party falls at the beginning of October, and Hanta spends two hours in his living room arguing with Mina about what constitutes proper attire. In the end, he settles on a plain dress shirt tucked into black slacks, submitting himself to be strangled by Mina’s favorite blue and gray striped tie.

The celebration’s at a small house on the edge of town that Todoroki bought for his mom a few years back. It’s built in the traditional Japanese-style, all wood and tatami, and reminds Hanta of Todoroki’s room back in the UA dorms.

By the time he and Mina get there, most of the guests are in the modest but impeccably-maintained garden already. He recognizes most of his old classmates, a few UA upper- and under-classmen, Aizawa, and All Might. There’s a group of people that Hanta recognizes as Todoroki’s sidekicks and a couple of other Pros. Given that neither Midoriya nor Todoroki have many relatives in attendance, almost the entire gathering is, in some part, involved in the hero world.

Midoriya and Todoroki themselves are off to the side, surrounded by their immediate family and a lopsided circle of well-wishers. Midoriya lights up when he spots Mina and Hanta, pulling them inside the circle immediately.

“Wow, I know I already said it at the sports festival, but congrats, man!” Hanta says after recovering from a rib-crushing hug.

Midoriya beams at him, bright enough to power small households. Next to him, Todoroki’s smile is smaller but no less happy, and both of them are red-cheeked as they introduce Hanta and Mina to Todoroki’s mom and siblings. Hanta’s already met Midoriya Inko a few times, and she comes over to pinch his cheek and ask if he’s been eating enough and staying safe at work.

After that, Hanta retreats to the veranda to let other people take their turn talking to the couple and Mina wanders off in search of food. He’s zoning out a little, staring out into the tiny koi pond, when Tenya squeezes his way out of the crowd and takes a seat next to him.

“Hanta,” he greets, sounding out of breath, “Sorry I’m late. My brother insisted on picking up Midnight-sensei on his way here.”

“Dude, did you run here?” Hanta eyes the sweat beading on his forehead. “Don’t you live, like, across the city?”

“Mic-sensei drove us, but we had to park a few minutes away. My brother insisted on racing the rest of the way here,” Tenya says, looking a little peeved. “He just got his new wheelchair, and he’s been breaking in the booster engines all weekend.”

Hanta whistles. “Shit, really? Is it that new model Hatsume came out with last month?”

Tenya shakes his head, “The basic features are the same, but it’s custom. The armrests have seven degrees of freedom and the controls are detachable, so he can use his quirk with the engines. He’s still having trouble coordinating his arm and wheel output, though, so he can’t turn very fast.”

“You think Mei’s gonna add those to her next model?”

“It’s hard to say,” Tenya frowns, “she’s still finetuning the controls, and the engines are too strong for day-to-day use. Nii-san will be sending her his thoughts once after the first two weeks.”

“So she’s using him as a guinea pig?” Hanta laughs, “Must run in the family.”

Tenya scowls at him, and he laughs harder.

“Is it alright with you if I introduce the two of you today?” Tenya asks when he quiets down.

“Like as your, uh,” Hanta looks around, checking if anyone’s listening, “As your boyfriend?”

“No!” Tenya flushes, “No, I haven’t told anyone yet. I just thought I could introduce him to you first, and maybe tell him later. After the party’s over.”

“Are you sure he’s gonna believe you, if no one else knows about it?”

“Yes, absolutely,” Tenya nods, “I would not date someone seriously if I did not have his approval. Nii-san knows how much I value his opinion, so he would not find it strange at all if I chose to introduce my boyfriend to him before anyone else.”

“Oh, okay then,” Hanta tries not to sound nervous, “We can try that, if you want. I guess it’s good to start early, in case he doesn’t like me. Then you can find someone else, right?”

“I am confident that he will like you,” Tenya says firmly. “He is a good judge of character.”

“Oh.” The back of Hanta’s neck heats up. “Thanks.”

It takes a good twenty minutes to find Iida Tensei. Midoriya and Todoroki had only invited people close to them, but the garden’s tiny and jam-packed at this point, and Hanta tries not to lose Tenya as he wanders around, eyes peeled for his brother.

When they find him, he’s sitting next to Aizawa, who’s slouched on a lounge chair, looking like he’s about to pass out at any moment.

“Aizawa-sensei! Thank you for taking care of my brother, as always,” Tenya’s loud greeting is acknowledged with a grunt. He turns to his brother next, “Nii-san, I wanted to introduce you to a friend.”

Aizawa’s gaze slides to Hanta, eyes narrowing a little. Hanta puts on his best ‘act dumb’ face, the one that never got him out of detention back in high school.

“We were in the same class for three years at UA,” Tenya’s introduction continues, “His name is Sero Hanta, and he currently works as a Pro Hero—”

“Tenya, I know who Cellophane is,” Tensei interrupts, sounding amused. “He reached seventeen on the rankings last month, and the kids wouldn’t shut up about it.” He turns to Hanta, offering a hand and a smile, “Iida Tensei, formerly Ingenium the first. Tenya’s probably told you about me, but I teach at UA now.”

“Uh, yeah, he has,” Hanta shakes his hand. His palm is big, just like Tenya’s, and his grip is firm. “You’re teaching Foundational Hero Studies now, right?”

“Yeah, I am!” Tensei’s smile widens, “Did Tenya tell you?”

“Oh, no, I heard from Asui—uh, Froppy? I think you had her little sister in your class last year?”

“I did! Asui Satsuki, right?” Tensei lights up, “Wow, she really does look so much like her older sister, though. Shouta showed me your class photo from first year, and they’re like carbon copies, it’s crazy! Right, Shouta?”

Aizawa gives a grunt, and his eyes slip shut. His sleeping bag’s nowhere in sight, but Hanta has no doubt that he would be wrapped up and fast asleep by now if he had it.

After that, the conversation goes surprisinglyl well, once Hanta gets past the initial nerves. Tensei’s animated and loud, quick to laugh and even quicker to tease Tenya. He even promises to give Hanta a proper demonstration of his motorized wheelchair some time, when there’s more open space.

“He liked you, see?” Tenya says afterwards, once Present Mic comes looking for him and Tensei excuses himself. He smiles, “I told you, my brother is a good judge of character.”

“It’s just because he doesn’t know yet,” Hanta says, but grins back anyways.

 

--

 

It’s not until late November that they start laying the bait. There’s still months until the wedding, plenty of time for Tensei to start getting used to the idea of a boyfriend, and they both agree that they should start with slowly suggesting the idea to their classmates for a more convincing reveal.

They start with a phone call at the agency, on a slow day at work. It’s technically Hanta’s day off, and he’s only in the office to finish off some of the paperwork that’s been piling up. He walks to the breakroom close to noon and hovers in the corner, phone in hand and ready to dial, until Denki comes in to refill his coffee.

“Hey,” Hanta says when Tenya picks up, half-turned so he’s facing away from Denki. “How’s your day been going?”

“Hello,” Tenya replies, sounding amused, “It’s going very well. And yours?”

“Not much happening,” Hanta hums. “I just wanted to check if we’re still on for dinner tonight.”

“Of course, I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” Tenya says, his voice warm. He’s definitely playing it up for whoever is eavesdropping on his end, but Hanta can feel his face heat up anyway. In the corner of his eye, Denki perks up. “Meet me at the station?”

“Yeah, that’d be great,” Hanta nods. “I haven’t seen you in days. Six-thirty?”

“That sounds perfect,” Tenya says, “See you then.”

“Yeah, okay,” Hanta smiles, “Bye.” He turns after hanging up and pretends to start when he sees Denki. “Oh hey man.”

“Hey,” Denki says slowly, his eyes narrowed over the rim of his mug. “Who was that?”

“Just a friend,” Hanta says and tries not to smile as he walks out. Hook, line, and sinker.

 

Neither Hanta nor Tenya make it to the station at six-thirty because they’re called to handle a nearby villain with a strength quirk. To be clear, they’re both called to handle the same villain.

“Oh good, now I don’t feel as bad about cancelling on you,” Hanta says when he finds Tenya on the scene, his engines already steaming.

“Did you not receive my voicemail?” Tenya glances at him.

“I was too busy running to get here,” Hanta shakes his head, “Which, why is no one else here? Neither of us are even on call.”

“Traffic, apparently,” Tenya says. “Mt Lady’s the closest but she can’t expand without crushing cars, so she’s on foot and normal-sized.”

Hanta sighs, “Okay, well, we’re definitely missing our reservation, but you can come over for takeout or something if you want. There’s a nice pizza place down the street from our place, and they do delivery.”

“That sounds wonderful,” Tenya nods, “Let’s get this done quickly, and we can go.”

Hanta doesn’t team up with Tenya as much as he does the other heroes in his own agency, but they still work together pretty well. Hanta works well with a lot of other heroes, mostly because his quirk is versatile and perfectly suited for support and restraint, and Tenya, with his speed, is a perfect match-up.

“I don’t think I can keep him tied down for long,” Hanta says, watching the guy tear up a street lamp, “I’ll slow him down and you can just wait until you see a good opportunity to knock him out, sound good?”

Over the years, both of them have had good practice fighting against strength quirks, given that they spent their high school years beating up and getting beaten up by Deku himself. Compared to Midoriya, this villain’s a stroll in the park, and Hanta quickly sets up a sticky trap to limit his mobility, jumping out of the way as Tenya comes barreling in with a heavy kick. After that, it’s pretty easy for Hanta to bind him up Eraserhead-style.

“I think I still have Bakugou’s Netflix password,” Hanta muses as they wait for the police make their way through rush-hour traffic, “But we have to erase the watch history afterwards, or he’ll change it again.”

“Will any of your housemates be home?”

Hanta shakes his head. “Denki’s out with Shinsou and Mina’s on night shift.”

“I see,” Tenya looks thoughtful. “We should think about how to break the news to our classmates. I would prefer we properly discuss our strategy for each person before approaching them.”

“Dude, that’s never going to work,” Hanta snorts, “The second we tell one person, they all know. Once Hagakure catches wind of a secret, it’s not a secret anymore.”

Tenya grimaces.

“Yeah, we have to be careful. And convincing.” Hanta looks up at him from the corner of his eyes, swallowing, “Wanna hold my hand when we go home today?”

Tenya squints at him, “Are you making fun of me?”

“What?” Hanta frowns, “No, seriously, we should practice, so we don’t look weird. Denki acts like a dumbass, but he can always tell when I’m lying, so we should take the chance to practice while we’re in a private setting.”

Tenya thinks for a moment and then nods, like Hanta just said something that made sense and not some bullshit excuse to hold hands with a hot dude. “I see. You’re right, it’s important to practice for any performance.”

The police come fairly quickly after that, followed by a crabby-looking Mt Lady who ran through twelve blocks of traffic for nothing. They take everyone’s statements, struggle to cut through wads of tape so they can stick quirk-nullifying restraints on the villain, and are off with a quick apology to Tenya and Hanta for calling them so suddenly off-duty.

Hanta phones the pizza place on their way back and very graciously lets Tenya use the shower first while he digs through his clothes for sweatpants big enough to fit comfortably over Tenya’s calves. The food comes while Hanta’s in the shower, and he comes out to the smell of hot cheese wafting through the air.

They eat on the couch, flipping through Bakugou’s Netflix movie selection until they find something that they can both agree on, which happens to be a nature documentary. Hanta wipes his hands on a napkin when he’s done and scoots closer to Tenya, grinning.

“So, practice?” he holds up a hand, wiggling his fingers.

“You wiped off all the grease, right?” Tenya inspects his palm suspiciously.

“Yeah, duh, I’m not gross.”

Apparently Tenya doesn’t believe him, because they both have to wash their hands in the bathroom before he’s ready to settle down on the couch again, closer than last time, and slide his palm into Hanta’s. It’s rough and warm—only slightly smaller than Hanta’s—and he curls their fingers together with awkward care, like he’s scared of messing up.

“Have you never held hands with anyone before?” Hanta asks, squeezing a little to show Tenya he can handle his grip strength or whatever it is that’s making Tenya treat him like glass.

“Never with hands bigger than mine,” Tenya admits. He rubs at one of the many tiny scars on Hanta’s knuckles. “It feels different.”

“Mm,” Hanta tries to sound casual, “You have nice hands. Not as many scars.”

“I wear gloves,” Tenya shrugs, his thumb still tracing little circles in Hanta’s skin. “Your scars should be a point of attraction. They are proof of your hard work and dedication to your duty. I personally find them to be very handsome.”

“Oh,” Even to his own ears, Hanta sounds strangled, “Thanks.”

Tenya nods, then pulls both hands into his lap and turns his attention back to the documentary. “You’re very welcome.”

 

Hanta swallows as he stares up at the Ingenium Hero Agency building, clutching a limp paper gift bag in his hand.

Like a lot of their classmates, Tenya had gone the traditional route and started an agency once he debuted, working in teams with other heroes for larger operations. However, unlike most of them, he had been in high demand with sidekicks from the start after announcing that he would adopt a recruiting approach similar to his brother’s. Sero is technically the head of Cellophane Offices himself, but given that he hasn’t taken on any sidekicks yet and shares the building with the rest of the Demolition Crew, it’s easy to forget he’s the founder of his own agency most days.

He squares his shoulders and marches in.

The reception desk is easy to find, despite the number of people running around inside. Hanta winds his way through the organized mess and tries not to look ruffled as he waits for the receptionist to finish a phone call.

“Cellophane-san! Welcome to Ingenium Hero Agency, how may I help you today?” she asks, flashing a professional smile so wide it’s nearly blinding. Hanta tries not to squint.

“Um, yeah, hi,” he looks at her name tag, “Saitou-san. Is Ingenium in today? I have something for him.” He lifts the gift bag to show her, trying not to feel too exposed. It’s clear from the little blue and white stars on the sides that this isn’t hero business.

“He’s currently at the police station, but he’ll be back in about half an hour,” she says. She still sounds perfectly professional, but now her eyes are sparkling, “We can hold onto it for you until he gets back, or you can wait in his office if you would like to give it to him yourself.”

“Um, that’s okay,” Hanta mumbles, handing over the bag. At least he’d had the presence of mind to tape the top shut. “I have to get back to work soon.”

“I’ll be sure to let him know you dropped by as soon he gets back,” she reassures him, and he tries not to fluster.

“Ah, it’s no rush, but thank you,” he manages to get out before turning stiffly for the door.

He’s already halfway back to his patrol route when Tenya calls.

“I got your gift,” he says, sounding a little breathless, like he’s just been running. “You really didn’t have to, Hanta.”

Hanta shrugs, “It’s the least I could do, with all the nice dates you’ve been taking me on. And you can take it home, put it somewhere your housemates can see.”

Tenya laughs, “I’ll be sure to find a nice, eye-catching vase. How did you know I liked daisies?”

“I did a little research,” Hanta admits, embarrassed, “You mentioned them in that interview you did with Hero Monthly, the one with your brother? It’s been a few years, so I hope that information wasn’t outdated.”

“No! Definitely not,” Tenya says, “Thank you, Hanta.”

Hanta bites back a smile, “You’re welcome, Tenya. I’m glad you liked them.”

 

--

 

November passes, and most heroes start switching to their winter gear. Hanta’s suit, which already has a built-in thermoregulator, has fewer modifications than most for the transition into colder weather.

Off-duty, he just layers a padded jacket over the usual sweatshirt. Tenya, on the other hand, bundles up to his ears with a red scarf wrapped way too many times around his neck. His glasses constantly fog up from his own breath, and Hanta has to stop himself from laughing every time they meet up.

Wearing so many layers makes them virtually unrecognizable, and Hanta gets braver in public. On the way home from dinner, he sidles up to Tenya and slides a hand in his pocket, curling their fingers together.

“Practice,” he says the first few times, until Tenya just huffs in annoyance and tells him, “You can stop using ‘practice’ as an excuse to warm up your hand, Hanta. Honestly, you need to start carrying gloves with you when you leave the house, if you’re always this cold.”

Hanta never wears gloves, because they’re a bother when he tries to handle his tape. Instead, he keeps a steady supply of hot packets through the cold seasons, stuffing them in the pockets of all his clothes. He’s not about to tell Tenya about that, though, so he takes to leaving them at home on days the two of them meet up for dinner.

He finds himself reveling in the anonymity of it all. It’s only until the next step in the plan begins, but for a few weeks, Hanta has Tenya all to himself. It sends a thrill through him, the idea that this Tenya is a secret that only Hanta keeps.

 

Apparently the Ingenium Hero Agency is more tight-lipped than Hanta had thought, because he doesn’t hear so much as a peep about his visit to Tenya’s agency. He starts to drop in weekly, until Satou takes to greeting him by name. He always tapes the bags shut, but from the look in her eyes, she probably already knows what’s inside.

“I put this week’s flowers on the kitchen counter,” Tenya tells him during one of their breakroom calls. “Midoriya won’t say anything, but I caught him snooping around the vase yesterday morning, looking for a note.”

Hanta snickers and today’s blatant eavesdropper, Eijirou, leans forward in his seat. “Tell him they’re from your boyfriend.”

Eijirou spits his coffee all over the floor.

After that, Hanta only manages to fend off Mina and Denki’s increasingly invasive questions for another two weeks before capitulating and agreeing to introduce them at the 3-A reunion.

“We should mess with them,” Hanta tells Tenya seriously, “Pretend I’m actually going to bring a stranger, or something. I don’t think I’m ever going to have a chance to pull a fast one over Jirou again in my life.”

Tenya only sighs, “As long as you tell them all it was your idea.”

Hanta grins, “Deal.”

 

Although their former class tries to do a reunion every year, it’s hard to carve out a good chunk of time where all of them are free to meet, especially as they all grow more and more popular as time goes by. This year’s falls in the middle of December and doubles as a Christmas celebration, which is how Hanta finds himself hiding in the middle of Shinsou and Aoyama’s kitchen, drinking spiked punch with Ojiro and avoiding Mina.

“This is disgusting,” Hanta grimaces, smacking his lips together and frowning. “What’s in it?”

“About half of Tooru’s liquor cabinet,” Ojiro says dryly, “Which is why I’m sticking to water tonight.”

“Yeah, that’s probably a good idea,” Hanta nods, grabbing a new cup and filling it from the sink. “So how’s your year been? I heard you and Tooru got two new sidekicks this year, right?”

Ojiro nods, “Yeah, last year's new grads. They’re good kids. I think one of them’s thinking about starting her own agency in a year or two, but the other one’s down to stay long term.”

Hanta whistles. “She’s what, eighteen right now? That’s fast.”

“Said she wanted to do it like Deku,” Ojiro shrugs, “Honestly, I don’t think she’ll make it in a year, but I promised to recommend her to a bigger office if she wants to build up a good rep under someone more popular.”

“You’re already in the twenties,” Hanta points out, “It’s gonna be hard for her to get a better offer.”

“I guess,” Ojiro just shrugs again. “You know how it is. Maybe she’ll stay a little longer if I make it under twenty next year, I don’t know. Tooru’s always worked best alone and I’m not really looking to get a whole bunch of sidekicks like Iida or anything, so we’ll probably just stick with the one for now. What about you?”

“Still on my own for now,” Hanta says, “I dunno, I kinda like being by myself. I’ll keep an eye on this year’s UA grads and see from there, I guess.”

Ojiro nods, and they lapse into silence, watching the living room get louder as the punch sets in. The doorbell rings and Satou is ushered in, a massive tray of cookies in one hand and a cheesecake in the other. He weaves through the crowd carefully, balancing the tray overhead.

“What the fuck did they put in the punch?” he mutters once he’s safely in the kitchen, cookies settled on the table. “It’s still eleven and Iida can’t even see straight anymore.”

Hanta frowns. “He’s here?”

“He came in just after I did,” Ojiro grabs a cookie, “I think he was with Midoriya? They were in the living room an hour ago.”

“Got up to pee,” Satou adds. “He’ll probably go back when he’s done.”

Five minutes later, they’re not in the living room. Hanta surveys the drunken mess sitting around the room and moves on to the bedrooms before Mina can spot him. He doesn’t get an answer when he knocks on the first door, but Shinsou opens up when he checks the second.

“Hanta!” Denki crows from over his boyfriend’s shoulder, smiling widely. “Come play old maid with us!”

“Dude, you’re so drunk,” Hanta grimaces when he smells Denki’s breath. “Why old maid?”

“He couldn’t remember the rules for anything else,” Shinsou says wryly, stepping aside so Hanta can come in. Inside, Midoriya, Uraraka, and Tenya are sitting in something loosely resembling a circle, and Tenya’s face lights up when he spots Hanta.

“Hanta!” he says loudly and wow, he’s really red, “I was waiting for you!”

Hanta can feel his neck go hot when he hears Shinsou quietly choke out, “Hanta,” behind him. He ignores it, sitting down in the empty spot next to Tenya instead.

“You were?” he hums, “What’s up? Need help playing old maid?”

“Not old maid,” Tenya says impatiently. His breath smells too, but Hanta lets him lean in close anyway as he tries and fails to whisper, “Kaminari keeps asking about you.”

Hanta blinks. “Me? Why?”

“You know,” Tenya scowls, “You know.”

Midoriya’s looking at the two of them with naked interest. Uraraka’s giggling quietly with Denki about something on the cards, only half listening, and Shinsou raises an eyebrow as he takes the last empty spot next to Denki.

“Um,” Hanta turns back to Tenya, “Oh. Okay. So did you tell him?”

“No, I was waiting for you,” Tenya shakes his head, then sways towards Hanta’s shoulder. “You said we should um, pull a fast one. Over Jirou.”

“Please don’t say that in front of her,” Hanta mutters, catching Tenya and repositioning his head more comfortably on his shoulder.

Denki might be too drunk to notice when Tenya wraps an arm around Hanta’s waist, melting into his side, but the rest of the room definitely isn’t. Uraraka’s eyes are bugging out and Shinsou’s eyebrows look like they’re about to climb off his face. Midoriya’s got a hand over his mouth, and he squeaks when Tenya pulls Hanta in closer to his side, nuzzling into his shoulder.

Hanta wants to die.

“Iida,” Shinsou says slowly, “Do you have something to tell us?”

Tenya looks up. His glasses are crooked, but he makes no move to adjust them as he smiles at the circle of waiting faces.

“Hanta sends flowers to my office every week,” he confides happily, “He’s very good at being a boyfriend.”

 

--

 

The class takes it well, after the initial shock.

Which is to say, Mina tries to throttle him for not telling her it was Iida, Jirou nearly does throttle him for trying to pull a fast one over her, and Denki cries the next morning when he realizes he was right there for the big reveal and managed to miss it anyway. Everyone else just congratulates them with varying levels of enthusiasm.

“Wow, but you and Iida? I never would’ve guessed!” Eijirou says after pounding Hanta’s back with a manly fist and giving him a big hug.

“Don’t be fucking stupid,” Bakugou growls, rolling his eyes, “Anyone with a fucking brain would’ve noticed their fucking tutoring sessions in high school.”

Hanta balks, “What—”

“Oh yeah, that’s true!” Eijirou laughs, “I shoulda guessed, after Hanta stopped asking Yaomomo for help!”

“No, what?” Hanta protests, “He made the offer for everyone back then!”

“This is a fucking waste of time,” Bakugou mutters, stomping off to get himself another drink.

“Dude, you don’t have to be embarrassed,” Eijirou says sagely, resting a hand on his shoulder, “Everyone knew Iida was awful at explaining things. You were the only one who actually took him up on it.”

“No, seriously,” Hanta tries to say, but Eijirou just laughs again and walks away.

Tenya himself just hugs Hanta, whispers a slurred good night in his ear, and lets himself be draped over Todoroki’s shoulder to go home. Hanta’s ear burns for hours afterwards.

 

Two days later, Hanta wakes up to a text from All Might. He only makes it past the first line— Hello my boy! Present Mic told me the good news! —before he’s frantically dialing Tenya.

“I think the entire UA teaching staff knows,” he says just as Tenya breathes, “My brother just messaged asking me why Aizawa-sensei is asking if he’s heard about my boyfriend.”

Hanta rolls over and muffles a moan into his pillow.

“At least we know we’re convincing as a couple,” Tenya says pragmatically. “Aizawa-sensei is hard to fool and doesn’t normally listen to gossip.”

Hanta rolls back onto his back and stares at his dry, crumbling ceiling. “I can’t believe we’re lying to All Might.”

There’s a pause over the phone. “That does seem quite taboo, somehow,” Tenya finally admits.

Hanta bursts out laughing, only stopping when Mina pounds on the wall between them. Right, it’s five in the morning.

“Hey, you wanna stay over after work today?” he says, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.

“You mean. At your apartment?”

“Yeah, you’re free tonight, right?” Hanta sits up, “Unless you don’t want to. It’s okay if you don’t, you don’t have to feel pressured or anything.”

“No, no, I understand,” Tenya says, “Now that your housemates know, we don’t have to sneak around anymore, right?” Meaning: they’ll expect us to sleep over once in a while.

“Yeah,” Hanta says lamely. He kicks around his room, looking for clean clothes, and tries not to sound nervous. “Is that okay?”

There’s another long silence as Tenya thinks. “...you still have Bakugou’s Netflix password, right?”

Hanta laughs, the pressure sliding right off his shoulders. “Hell yeah. We could get pizza again?”

“That sounds perfect.”

“Okay,” Hanta grins stupidly down at a pair of mismatched socks on the floor. “Cool. I’ll see you tonight.”

 

Tenya shows up at eight with a bottle of wine in one hand, his overnight bag in the other. He’s wearing the red scarf again, shoved up to his nose. His cheeks bunch up in a smile when Hanta opens the door.

“It’s cold out,” he says as he shuffles into the foyer, pulling the scarf down and handing the wine to Tenya. He leans in to press a kiss to Hanta’s cheek, slowly so that he has time to move if he wants. “Okay?” he asks softly when he pulls away.

“Okay,” Hanta says and leans in to kiss Tenya in the same spot, just in time for Mina to walk out of her room and see.

“You’re letting out all the warm air,” she grumbles, ambling around the living room and collecting the pieces of her suit scattered around.

There’s only an hour in between when Mina leaves and Denki comes back, and Hanta takes the time to show Tenya around and put his stuff away. They settle on the couch afterwards with the wine.

“We’ll probably have to sleep on the same bed,” Hanta says apologetically, “There’s an air mattress, but the lock on my door doesn’t work and Mina and Denki like to barge in in the mornings when I’m still asleep.”

“That’s okay,” Tenya reassures, “Your bed is perfectly fine.”

Denki finds them dozing on the couch an hour later, sleepy and warm, and they shower and go to bed soon after that, if only to make Denki stop gagging every time he catches them so much as looking at each other at the same time.

It feels like Hanta’s stomach is about to eat the rest of his internal organs by the time he turns off the lights and settles on the bed, his face only a breath away from Tenya’s. He smells like Hanta’s shampoo.

Before he can think too much about it, he reaches out and finds Tenya’s hand under the sheets. His skin is warm, damp and soft from the shower. Tenya doesn’t say anything, just rubs at Hanta’s knuckles with his thumb.

“Hey,” Hanta says softly, “I don’t think I ever asked.”

“Hm?”

“Why’d you ask me to the wedding? I doubt it’d be that hard for you to find a date, like a one-time thing.”

Tenya just looks at him for a moment, then turns his eyes down to their joined hands. He says, slowly, “Hypothetically, if I were to bring someone to my best friends’ wedding and introduce them to my brother, I wouldn’t want to bring just anyone. It would have to be someone I knew very well, someone I was serious about.”

“Oh,” Hanta chews his lip. Tenya’s thumb is still stroking his knuckle, back and forth over the same tiny scar. “That’s really sweet of you.”

Tenya’s eyes are on him again, his expression inscrutable in the darkness. “Thank you for agreeing to go with me, Hanta,” he says quietly. “I’m glad I asked you.”

“It’s no problem.” Hanta’s voice sounds thick around the lump in his throat. “I really don’t mind.”

 

--

 

New Year’s comes and goes. Patrol at the start of the year is always a nightmare, and Hanta throws himself into hero work even more than usual. Then he goes home for two days—sleeps in his childhood and spends time lazing around the house with his family—and then he comes back and life resumes and everything is just as he left it.

Pretending to be with Tenya isn’t that different now, compared to before. They still go out to tiny restaurants, still hold hands on the way back home, and when Hanta stays over at Tenya’s, there’s still a miniature bouquet in the kitchen, resting in a crystal cut vase.

The only difference is the kisses. Those are dangerous. It’s like once he starts, Hanta can’t stop. He kisses Tenya on the cheek when he comes over, his nose when it’s the only thing visible from under that big red scarf, his forehead when he’s about to fall asleep on Hanta’s couch, glasses frames hopelessly crooked on his face. The worst is when they’re outside and he sticks his hands in Tenya’s pockets and Tenya pulls them back out into the bitter cold, only to thread their fingers together and kiss the back of Hanta’s hand.

Somewhere in the back of his head, Hanta knows he’s headed for disaster. It’s still winter though, still early. May’s not for another five months, but Tenya’s right here, pressing kisses to Hanta’s hands and smiling at him like he means it.

May’s not for another five months, Hanta repeats to himself. He still has time.

 

It rains for two days at the end of January, and all the snow in the streets turns to slush. Hanta spends his days wet and miserable and goes home to curl up under his sheets, not wet but still miserable.

“My tape doesn’t stick to anything, and I almost fell off the side of a building yesterday,” he complains over the phone, then blows his nose into a tissue, “Also I’m sick.”

“Are you running a fever?”

“Yes. No. I don’t know, our thermometer says I’m forty-five degrees, and I’m too tired to go out and get a new one.” He rolls over on the bed and sniffles. “Let’s go with no.”

“I’ll come over with a new thermometer.”

“No,” Hanta rolls back onto his stomach, frowning, “It’s pouring outside. You’ll get wet and sick, too.”

“I have an umbrella.”

“It’s cold.”

“I’ll wear my suit, the one with the new thermoregulators.”

Hanta closes his eyes. His head feels hot and slow, and a steady ache throbs in his joints. He misses sleeping next to a warm body, even though he slept next to one just two nights before. It feels like a sickness all in itself, the missing.

“Promise you’ll wear a hat and scarf, too?”

“I promise.”

“Okay,” he mumbles into the pillow. “Come quickly.”

There’s silence over the line. “I will.”

He drifts in and out of sleep. The next time he wakes up, there’s a cold hand on his forehead. He smells warm metal, hot iron and rust.

“Should’ve made you wear gloves, too,” he mutters, eyes still closed.

“Sorry,” the hand disappears, “I was in a hurry and forgot them.”

Hanta opens his eyes. Tenya’s in full hero getup, his messy hair stuffed inside a knit cap. A matching scarf is wrapped tight around his neck, all the way up to his nose, and his glasses are still fogged.

“You look funny like that,” Hanta tells him seriously, pointing at the glasses.

“I think you have a fever,” Tenya replies.

“Yeah, probably,” Hanta scoots over on the bed. “Wanna catch it?”

“I should change first,” Tenya says, looking down at the exhaust pipes winding around his waist. “And shower. Why don’t you take your temperature while you wait?”

He helps Hanta wrap the thermometer and stick it in his mouth. By the time he’s done showering, the thermometer’s beeped twice. He walks back into Hanta’s room when he hears it the second time, and his damp hair drips onto the sheets as he bends over to squint at the numbers.

“You’re slightly feverish,” he announces. “Do you feel cold?”

“Very,” Hanta tells him, “You should come warm me up.”

Tenya blinks. “Have you had dinner?”

“No. I could eat, though,” Hanta wiggles his eyebrows and very pointedly lets his eyes drop below Tenya’s waist.

“Right,” Tenya straightens, “I’ll go heat some okayu. It’s from that place you like across the street.”

“Mina hates okayu,” Hanta moans.

“That’s alright, she won’t be the one eating it.”

He eats the okayu after it’s been heated, and then takes some cold medicine, washed down with a glass of water.

“Wow, I’m gonna need to pee so bad when I wake up,” he mumbles, splayed out on the mattress. His head lolls to the side, and he cracks an eye open to peer at Tenya. “Are you wearing my shirt?”

“It’s important to stay hydrated when you’re sick,” Tenya says, “And yes, I borrowed clothes because you made me run here in my hero suit.”

“Looks good on you,” Hanta yawns and pats the bed. “Come closer and lemme see it off?”

“You’re about to fall asleep.”

“Sure am, you should hurry.”

He tries to leer when Tenya climbs onto the bed next to him, but his eyes are already drooping shut and he’s crashing.

 

He wakes up sweaty and uncomfortably warm, with an alarm shrieking in his ear.

“My head,” he groans, clutching it with both hands.

“Sorry, I’ll turn it off.” The bed shifts, and a weight lift off of Hanta’s waist. A moment later, the alarm turns off. “How are you feeling?”

Hanta slowly cracks open an eye. His blinds are drawn tight, but there’s no sunlight in the cracks, so it must be early. He looks down and sees Tenya squinting up at him, his hair flat in the back and sticking up straight in front.

“Like my bladder's about to burst,” Hanta says after a moment’s contemplation, and Tenya obediently rolls off the bed so he can half-hop, half-run over the cold floor to the bathroom.

He finishes relieving himself first, then brushes his teeth and washes his face in the sink. When he walks back out, Tenya is standing in the middle of the room, blinking sleepily at his suit folded neatly in the corner.

“Do you still feel cold?” he asks.

“No, I think the fever’s mostly gone,” Hanta says. “By the way, did I hit on you last night? Like, really badly?”

“Yes.” Tenya combs a hand through his hair and rubs his left eye. “It was a quite a fever.”

“Yeah,” Hanta says, scratching his neck. “Fuck dude, I’m really sorry if I made you uncomfortable. That was way out of line.”

“That’s okay,” Tenya says distractedly, still staring down at his suit. His eyebrows draw together in a frown. “Do you mind if I borrow some clothes for today and leave this here?”

Hanta blinks. “The suit?”

Tenya nods. “I have a spare in the office, so I don’t need it for work, but I don’t particularly feel like wearing it on the subway again, and I don’t want to carry it around all day.”

“Yeah, that’s fine,” Hanta glances at the clock. “Why don’t you go get ready, and I’ll find some clothes for you? You’re gonna be late if you wait any longer.”

While Tenya’s in the bathroom, he digs up the largest pair of sweatpants he can find, a pair of thick socks, and a coat that he only wears layered, its shoulders falling too big on him normally. He lays them out on the bed, neatly folded so Tenya will know they’re for him, and wanders into the kitchen to make coffee.

Ten minutes later, Tenya rushes into the kitchen in Hanta’s clothes, drains his mug, and drops a quick kiss on Hanta’s temple before rushing out to catch the subway. It’s only after he’s gone that Hanta realizes no one else was home the entire night.

 

--

 

It takes twelve stops for Hanta to get from the agency building back to his apartment. Depending on the time of day and how many other people are squeezed onboard, it ranges from a pretty short trip to unbearably long. On Tuesday afternoons, right before the evening rush, it falls smack in the middle.

“Hey, can you wake me up when we get there?” Hanta yawns, burrowing into Tenya’s side. They’re both wearing bulky clothing—Tenya to cover his calves, and Hanta his elbows—and the layers makes Tenya’s arm really comfortable to lean against, even more than usual.

“We’re in public,” Tenya sighs, but obediently sits up straighter so Hanta doesn’t have to crane his neck as much to rest against his shoulder.

“Wow, how is your scarf so squishy?” Hanta mumbles, burrowing his face into it and inhaling the clean scent that he associates with Tenya.

“Please stop sniffing it so loudly, Hanta, we’re in public,” Tenya hisses, jostling his shoulder until Hanta removes his nose from the scarf.

“Mm, sorry, you just smell good,” Hanta sighs contentedly. “Hey, does your entire apartment use the same fabric softener?”

“Yes, we do. Please don’t go around smelling my housemates. It could very easily be misconstrued as sexual harassment.”

Hanta lets his eyes drift closed to the train’s rhythmic rocking. “Haha, are you jealous? Don’t worry, I won’t sniff anyone but you.”

“Thank you.” A weight drops onto the crown of Hanta’s head, and he doesn’t have to open his eyes to know that it’s Tenya’s cheek.

A while later, he wakes up when the train screeches to a stop, and his head is jostled on Tenya’s shoulder.

“Are we there?” he blinks sleepily for a moment, before realizing Tenya has stiffened underneath him.

He sits up, fully awake, as the pre-recorded announcement for an unscheduled stop comes on, barely audible over the murmurs passing through the car. Before the announcement’s even done, the entire car rocks with the sound of an explosion in the distance.

Hanta only needs to exchange a glance with Tenya before they’re both standing up, digging into their pockets for their licenses. Hanta sheds his jackets rapidly until he’s wearing only the usual sweatshirt, thin enough to push up past his elbows. He snickers as he watches Tenya rip the Velcro bottoms off of his pants to expose his calves.

“Oh my god, you own stripper pants,” he says when Tenya glares in him.

“I can’t use my quirk without ruining my clothes otherwise,” Tenya mutters, adjusting his glasses. “Come on, we should find the conductor.”

Neither of them want to risk opening the train doors, given the periodic rocking from explosions, so they make their way up to the conductor car by car, showing their licenses whenever they’re stopped. Even out of costume, they’re easily distinguished by their exposed limbs, and they’re let through fairly quickly. Three cars from the front, Hanta’s phone chimes in his pocket.

“Yo, Jirou just responded,” Hanta tugs on Tenya’s sleeve, reading the message. “She’s outside with Bakugou. He’s fighting a villain with some sort of rock manipulating Quirk? Kinda like Cementoss, but with asphalt. They’re worried about the structural integrity of the bridge.”

Tenya frowns. “How far away are they?”

“Don’t know, she doesn’t know which train we’re in,” Hanta starts stripping down to his suit. He didn’t bring his shoulder plates or helmet from the agency, but neither of them are strictly necessary for his tape to be fully functional. “As far as I know, I’m the only Pro in the area with a compatible Quirk. I’ll go on ahead and start on the bridge. You try and get in contact with Todoroki, and then start getting people ready to evacuate the train.”

Tenya already has his phone raised to ear when Hanta looks up. He nods and leans forward, giving Hanta an absentminded peck on the cheek before turning back to the receiver.

“Uh,” Hanta says. Around them, the panic has died down as the entire car stares.

Tenya freezes in realization. He blinks at Hanta, eyes wide as saucers, and a tinny voice in his speaker says, Iida? Are you there?

Another shudder runs through the train car, and Iida snaps out of it, speaking brusquely into the receiver, “Yes, Todoroki, I’m on the Metro near Ground Zero’s agency building, and there’s a villain—”

“Right, we can talk about it later,” Hanta says and kicks his ass back into gear, running for the next carriage.

The conductor’s nice enough when Hanta finally gets to the front and explains the situation. He’s also about to shit his pants with the railway literally crumbling before his very eyes, so Hanta shuts up and shoves the window open, using his tape to clamber out.

It’s pretty simple work from there on out, using his tape to keep the surrounding support structures from crumbling and wrapping the train car to the railway. He weaves a net down below to catch falling debris, then jumps back up to start pulling people out of the train.

By the time Todoroki arrives on the scene to ice what’s left of the bridge and build a ramp down from the train, the villain’s already dusty and knocked out under Bakugou’s watchful eye, and Hanta leaves the evacuation zone to secure him more thoroughly.

“Yeah, so, tell Minami that her life’s about to get a lot harder when you get back to the agency after this,” Hanta tells Jirou when he’s done, slumping down next to the villain and watching as Tenya and Todoroki guide the last passengers out the window.

“I’m not calling your PR agent for you,” Jirou says flatly, “What’d you do.”

“Okay first of all, I didn’t do anything,” Hanta scowls, “Tenya was the one who kissed me in the middle of a full train car.”

“He did what?!”

“It was an accident, I dunno,” Hanta shrugs moodily, “We were trying to figure out what was going on, and he was distracted on his phone, and I said I’d go ahead and he wasn’t really paying attention, so he kissed me on the cheek before I left.”

“Wow,” Jirou whistles, “Cute, but Minami’s gonna skin you alive when she hears about this.”

“Yeah I know, don’t rub it in,” Hanta swallows, “I still need to talk to Tenya when he’s done.”

Jirou grimaces. “Ouch. Sorry in advance about your privacy. If it makes you feel any better, you get used to the press. They’re not gonna stop following you places, but you get better at ditching them as time goes on.”

“Mm,” Hanta leans back on his hands, watching as Tenya slips gracefully down Todoroki’s icy slide, landing on his feet. He stops to say something to Todoroki, gesturing back at the train. “It’s a little more complicated than that.”

“What, you two?” Jirou glances at him. “I mean, yeah, you’re both pretty well-known, but it’s not like you’re the first gay hero couple to come out, or the most popular. Neither of you are the type to have many fans that send death threats, either.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Hanta says dryly, more out of habit than offense. It’s not like Jirou’s lying. “It’s not about that. We just—I dunno. It’s complicated,” he repeats.

Tenya starts jogging over, his engines giving him little boosts every few steps, and Hanta stands up.

“Okay then Mr. Mysterious,” Jirou gives him a long look, “I can tell Minami, just this once, but you’d better have your phone out ready to answer when she calls.”

“Thanks, Jirou,” Hanta gives her a hug, maybe a little too tight.

She shrugs, “Good luck with your guy, I guess.”

Hanta nods, trudging over to meet Tenya.

“Hanta,” he says, looking pained. “I’m so sorry.”

Hanta gives him a tired smile, catching his elbow before he can keep going. “It was an accident.”

“I was careless.”

“It happens to the best of us.”

“Really, Hanta, I am aware that there is no way for me to undo what occurred, but I can ask my publicist to make an announcement—”

“There’s no way to spin it differently,” Hanta says quietly. “The best thing to do is keep up the act for a few months, then make an announcement that we’ve broken up once the wedding’s safely over.”

Tenya presses his lips together and lets out a long sigh, closing his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

Hanta pulls him in by the elbow, and he goes willingly, resting his forehead against Hanta’s shoulder. Hanta lays his palm against the back of his head, flattening his hair in short, soothing strokes.

“It’s okay,” he says, trying not to dwell on the sensation of Tenya’s hair between his fingers, “We’ll get through it.”

 

They go back to Tenya’s apartment afterwards, where Hanta strips out of his suit and steps into the shower while Tenya calls his PR agent. Then it’s Tenya’s turn in the shower and Hanta’s to get verbally flayed.

All in all, Minami is merciful. She only scolds him for ten minutes, and he doesn’t even have to do a press conference afterwards.

“Just make a Twitter post,” she says, “Something cute so your poor, jilted thirst fans can have closure now that you’re officially off the market.”

Hanta snorts, “Yeah, ’cause I sure have a ton those.”

“You’d be at least as popular as Ground Zero if you did!” Minami shouts, and that descends into another few minutes’ rant about building a good brand for himself.

Afterwards, Hanta wanders out of Tenya’s room and shares a commiserating look with Todoroki, who’s eating Cheerios on the couch in nothing but a t-shirt and green bunny-print boxers.

“Got any more of those?” he asks, and Todoroki points to one of the pantries.

“Milk’s in the fridge.”

Hanta pours himself a bowl and digs a spoon out of the drying rack.

“How’s wedding prep going?” he asks, slumping down on the other end of the couch.

Todoroki closes his eyes and shoves another spoonful into his mouth.

“Okay,” Hanta says, “Mind if I watch something?”

Todoroki shrugs, his eyes still closed. Hanta finds the remote and turns the TV on.

—this picture caught by a fan on the scene, our favorite Turbo Hero, Ingenium, shares a racy kiss with his secret—

He flips through channels for a while, settling on what looks like a documentary about penguins. It looks innocuous enough, and he lets himself get sucked in until his cereal is soggy. Distantly, he registers that the shower’s been off for a while.

Todoroki finishes eating and stands to leave, giving Hanta an eyeful of the word SMASH printed across his ass. He washes his dishes and doesn’t come back.

Eventually, just as Hanta’s eyelids are getting heavy, the bowl of milk is plucked from his hands.

“My cereal,” he says groggily, but doesn’t move as Tenya sits down next to him and curls up, resting his full weight across Hanta’s chest.

“Thank you,” he mumbles, and Hanta wraps both arms around him, stroking whatever skin he can touch until his eyes slip shut. He plucks off his glasses with clumsy fingers, folds them on the coffee table, and kisses Tenya’s hair before closing his own eyes.

 

--

 

Hanta spends the next few weeks getting chased by the media. It’s not that bad going to and from work—he’s been trained by Eraserhead in stealth and he can handle scaling a few buildings if that’s what it takes to lose a bunch of reporters—but he’s stuck with his hands tied when he’s out during the day, doing hero work.

It’s not hard to get ahold of patrol schedules for any Pro—the heroes around the city have started coordinating shifts to some degree over the past few years, so Hanta can’t really just change his entire work schedule without a horrifying amount of paperwork. He can ask for police assistance in getting them off his back if they’re really interfering with his ability to do his job, but paparazzi are good at skating the fine line between annoying and dangerous when it comes to hounding Pro Heroes. So he just sucks it up and resigns himself to walking around followed by a mob of flashing cameras for the foreseeable future.

“Jirou keeps asking me if we’ll do a feature on her radio show,” he says when he visits Tenya Saturday night. He had to climb in through the window after dark, scaling up the side of the building. “And Minami said that we’ve gotten twelve different requests for interviews.”

Tenya looks tired. He’s had a rough week too, Hanta thinks, and something in his chest pulls tight at the way his face falls at the news.

“I’m sorry,” Hanta says, “This really got out of hand, didn’t it?”

Tenya doesn’t even look at him. “It’s not your fault, Hanta. If anything, it’s mine and I should be the one apologizing for dragging you into this mess.”

“It’s not—”

“But it is.” It’s been a long time since Hanta has heard Tenya’s voice so hard. It brings back bad memories, from before the peace. “I was the one who asked you to go with me to the wedding, and I was the one who insisted we lie to all our friends, and I was the one who got careless in public. This entire time, you’ve just been dealing with all of my mistakes, acquiescing to all of my requests, and all it’s brought you is trouble. This whole farce has been for my benefit, and I really cannot fathom why you’re still here, still playing along for my sake. Really, Hanta, what are you gaining from all this?”

Tenya’s breathing harshly by the end of the outburst, and Hanta’s heart has climbed into his throat. He opens his mouth, then closes it again.

What can he say? That all of those dates Tenya planned, they were all for him? That all of those kisses, he stole for himself? That every moment Tenya spends with him—walking him home, sleeping next to him, keeping his hand warm—he’ll keep even after everything’s over? All of these things are fake, as far as Tenya knows, and there’s nothing that Hanta can say without giving himself away, so he doesn’t say anything.

“I’m sorry,” Tenya finally says, closing his eyes. “I didn’t mean to speak so forcefully. It’s been a long week, and I let the stress get the better of me. Do you mind if we sleep early today?”

“Yeah, of course,” Hanta replies. Two months left—he doesn’t have to start counting the days yet. “I’m pretty tired, too.”

 

--

 

For the first time in nearly a year, Hanta wakes up from a nightmare.

It’s not the first time that he’s dreamed of the war—not by far—but it’s the first time in a while that he’s had this dream in particular.

It’s a real memory, from the last few days, when the hopelessness was at its sharpest. There were Noumu crawling all through the city, and Hanta had been swinging through the streets for hours, searching for scattered survivors, when he found Tenya still fighting alone.

It was an awful sight—Tenya with his arm limp at his side, the flesh gaping open in one long, jagged cut to the white bone. His engines sputtered, the pipes in both legs twisted and broken and still, he stood, facing death with nothing but pride and duty to hold him up.

Hanta twisted trap after trap, fending off the Noumu until he and Tenya could escape by the skin of their teeth. They hid in the dark shadow of a crumbled building and Hanta ripped strips of tape off of his elbows and slowly put Tenya back together. It felt like hours as Hanta splinted and fixed his arm, straightened and taped his pipes. And then, in the thin hours of early morning, long after Tenya had fallen unconscious, he crouched and lifted Tenya onto his back so he could carry them both to safety.

Hanta sits up, puts his head between his knees, and breathes against the rush of blood in his ears.

“Hanta?”

A large hand, gentle on his back. He leans into its warmth, closing his eyes. His heart is still thudding too fast, too hard. He breathes in through his nose, counting slowly. One, two, three, four. Out for eight, then again. One, two, three, four.

When he opens his eyes, Tenya’s sitting next to him, his expression concerned.

“Nightmares?”

Hanta nods. He knows Tenya understands. Over the years, he’s run into Denki and Mina wandering through the apartment late at night, dark bruises under their eyes, too many times to count.

“Do you want a glass of water?”

He nods again. His voice rasps when he says, “Thank you.”

After he’s done drinking, he settles back down in the bed and Tenya wraps an arm around him, pulling him close. Hanta knows from experience that it’ll be hours until he falls asleep again but he closes his eyes anyway, turning his face into Tenya’s chest and listening as his breath slowly evens out into sleep.

 

In the morning, Hanta calls Minami and tells her to decline the interviews. He texts Jirou and says that they want to take it slow for a little longer before going public with the details. When he leaves for work, Tenya’s still sound asleep on the bed.

He walks to the office in plainclothes, head ducked to avoid recognition, and changes once he gets there. No one bats an eye when he leaves through the third floor window instead of the front doors, taking to the rooftops for the remainder of his patrol.

It’s only after he makes an arrest that the reporters find him. There are more of them than a failed convenience store robbery normally constitutes, and Ryukyu gives Hanta a pitying look when it’s his turn to get interviewed. He spends most of the day with his visor lowered, after that.

When he gets back home in the evening, he’s surprised to see Tenya sitting at the kitchen table, drinking a cup of tea. There’s a second cup next to his, steam still curling from the surface.

“Ashido let me in,” Tenya explains as Hanta sits down across from him. He fiddles with his cup, looking nervous. “I didn’t hear you leave this morning.”

“You looked really tired last night. I didn’t want to disturb you,” Hanta smiles wryly. “It probably didn’t help that I woke you in the middle of the night.”

“It’s no bother. I know that you would have done the same for me,” Tenya says, his eyes completely honest. It feels like he can see straight through Hanta. “Are you feeling better today?”

Hanta swallows. He can’t lie to Tenya, not when he’s looking at him like that.

“No,” he says, his eyes stinging, “No, I’m not. Can you stay here with me?”

“Of course,” Tenya says immediately, pushing the second cup of tea into his hands, “For as long as you want.”

Hanta can only give a watery, humorless laugh at that. He lets Tenya fuss over him for the rest of the evening, shoving hot tea at him and bundling too many blankets onto his bed. In the morning, he pretends to be asleep when Tenya leaves.

 

Really, the memory of Tenya was only one of many.

Hanta has seen his classmates hurt and compromised too many times to count, and it doesn’t ever get better with time. That particular memory wasn’t been special, hadn’t been special for so long. That Tenya had felt like barely more than a stranger. It hurts to admit, but Hanta hadn’t really known Tenya very well in high school.

If there was any sort of justice in the world, he wouldn’t have been the one to find Tenya. It felt like Tenya had been laid bare in those scant hours, in the shadow of that crumbled building, in every silent tear that slid down dusty cheeks and every whimper he hid behind clenched teeth as Hanta ground his bones back into place. There he was, cut open for Hanta to see, as if Hanta had some sort of right, some sort of claim to the sight.

To Hanta, Tenya was just a classmate, the boy who cared too much about regulation and was awful at explaining concepts yet insisted on tutoring his friends before exams and maybe sometimes made Hanta flush with nerves when he stood too close. These were such shallow things to know him by, and it felt wrong, that Hanta would be the one to find him in what could have been the final moment, when he knew Tenya but didn’t know him.

The bare, blatant truth is that sometimes, Hanta feels like he’s going to be in 3-A forever, like he’s never going to leave the war. Even now, with eight years of history between them, Hanta wonders if anything’s really changed, if he deserves to look at Tenya yet.

 

--

 

Tenya’s restless.

It’s hard to tell at first, with the upcoming wedding and hero duties and public attention all hitting at the same time, but Hanta swears that Tenya’s getting more and more jittery every time they scrounge up two seconds to meet.

“Are you okay?” Hanta asks the first time he notices, “Is something bothering you?”

“It’s just the stress,” Tenya reassures with a flimsy smile, “Too many things happening at once.”

And then, when Hanta reaches over to give him a hug, maybe drop a kiss in his hair, he flinches away.

“Sorry,” he says, “I’m sorry. I have to go back to work,” and Hanta’s too scared to ask him why he’s lying, so he just pretends to believe him.

It gets worse after that. Tenya stops kissing Hanta’s cheek when they meet up to go home in the evenings and shies away when Hanta walks too close. He doesn’t curl an arm over Hanta’s waist when he stays over at night and pretends like he doesn’t see when Hanta lets his hand fall between them on the couch, palm up in an open invitation. He doesn’t put his feet in Hanta’s lap anymore, doesn’t offer his thigh for Hanta’s head, doesn’t run his fingers through Hanta’s hair when he’s tired and nodding off but too stubborn to go to bed like he should.

Hanta’s not stupid, no matter how bad his Modern Lit grades were in high school. The wedding looms like a deadline and beyond that, he knows he’s got a month, tops, before he runs out of time. He hates feeling so desperate and pathetic every time he tries to stick his hand in Tenya’s pocket and gets rebuffed, so he stops trying and confronts Tenya instead.

“I think we should start planning for what comes after the wedding,” he says, and he’s proud of how even his voice comes out. “We need to think about how we’re going to break up.”

For a moment, he thinks Tenya’s going to protest. He looks at Hanta like he’s just gotten punched in the face, like he hadn’t seen it coming. But then his expression smooths over, just like that, and he nods.

“Yes, I agree. It would be best if we got it over with quickly.”

 

They agree on telling their friends one month after the wedding, once everything’s died down. The general public can wait for later.

Tenya spends most of May wrapped up in wedding preparations. It’s not that big of a ceremony, but Tenya would settle for nothing less than perfect for two of his dearest friends, and Hanta only sees him once or twice in the weeks leading up.

The day of, Hanta arrives half an hour before the appointed time for guests and meets Tenya outside the empty event hall. He looks flustered when he arrives, cutting a handsome figure in the clean lines of his suit.

“How’re you holding up?” Hanta asks, resisting the urge to reach out and brush a hand against his arm. Instead, he pulls out a pastry bag he picked up from a café on the way. “You haven’t eaten since this morning, right?”

“Both grooms are dressed and ready. The Midoriyas are crying, but that’s only to be expected,” Tenya reports as he eats, then frowns. “Your tie’s crooked.”

“What, really?” Hanta balks, fiddling at it with clumsy fingers, “Shit, I thought it looked fine in the mirror. Mina was still getting ready when I left, so I just did it myself.”

“You tied the knot wrong,” Tenya sighs, batting Hanta’s hands away and handing him the pastry bag. “You should know how to tie a tie at this age, Hanta. What are you going to do the next time you go to an event and neither Ashido nor I are available to do it for you?”

Hanta turns his face away when Tenya leans in close, his eyebrows drawn together in concentration as he straightens Hanta’s collar. The pastry bag crinkles in his grip.

“Really, you’re lucky it hasn’t wrinkled in the wrong place,” Tenya mutters disapprovingly. “Do you even know how to use a clothes steamer?”

Out of the corner of his eye, Hanta spots Todoroki’s sister wandering out the door. She catches sight of them and waves.

“I think Fuyumi-san needs you,” he says, making a face as Tenya pulls the tie tight. He runs his palms one last time down Hanta’s shirt, smoothing it down. “I’ll see you later, yeah?”

“Yes, please get something to eat before the ceremony,” Tenya turns to go.

“Wait,” Hanta catches his wrist. He swallows when Tenya looks back at him questioningly, “Your, uh, croissant.”

Tenya’s eyes dart between Hanta’s face and the pastry bag. He takes it, nodding.

“Thank you,” he says quietly. He glances in Fuyumi’s direction before leaning in to press his lips to Hanta’s cheek. “I’ll see you in a bit.”

 

The ceremony is modest, but sweet. Hanta sits with Jirou and Yaoyorozu and pretends not to notice when Yaoyorozu reaches over and clutches tightly at Jirou’s hand. Behind the grooms, Tenya wipes at his eyes and Uraraka scrunches up her face, crying like a leaky faucet.

The vows are short and heartfelt, and something clenches up in Hanta’s chest when Todoroki finishes the last word and leans in to kiss his new husband. They look perfect, framed in sunlight and flowers, and for a moment, Hanta feels impossibly far from the podium, even though he’s sitting close to the front of the room.

The reception takes place in a different room down the hall, and Hanta finds his placard at a table with the rest of his old classmates. The food’s only a little cold and not overly bland, which means it’s pretty good for wedding standards, and Tenya tears up again when he gives his best man speech.

“Wow, he’s really giving Midoriya a run for his money today,” Denki laughs after he sits back down. “I can’t imagine what he’s going to be like at his own wedding.”

“Yeah,” is all Hanta can say, “I wonder.”

Tenya finds him after dinner’s over and the grooms have finished their first dance. He’s sitting with his third glass of champagne, his feet propped up on Denki’s empty seat, and watching as Present Mic tries to goad Aizawa into dancing properly.

“Are you tired?” Tenya asks, taking a seat next to him.

Hanta shakes his head, “Not really, just don’t feel like dancing.”

“I see.” Tenya reaches over to take his hand, dropping a kiss on his temple. At Hanta’s questioning gaze, he says, “It’s an important day today, and our friends shouldn’t spend it worrying over our supposed relationship. We can work on breaking up tomorrow, but today’s focus should be on Midoriya and Todoroki.”

Hanta turns his gaze away, nodding. “Okay.”

The music changes to something slower, and the dance floor fills with couples. Hanta can see Jirou and Yaoyorozu towards the side, Eijirou and Bakugou next to them. At a table across the room, he spots Denki with his shoes off, leaning into Shinsou’s side. Even Aizawa’s relented and let Present Mic pull him close, swaying slowly to the beat.

“Hey, Tenya?”

“Mm?”

Hanta grips his hand. Doesn’t look at him. “I don’t think it's a good idea for you to kiss me anymore.”

 

It’s by unlucky coincidence that Hanta finds himself sitting in a corner with Tensei and three of his old high school teachers when they wheel the cake out. He hadn’t been paying attention after Tenya left, only registering Present Mic’s presence when he plops down across from Hanta. Aizawa and Midnight settle on either side of him, engrossed in a quiet conversation.

“Wow, look at the size of that thing,” Tensei wheels himself over to Hanta’s side, eyeing the monstrous white cake as it’s carefully settled in the center of the room, “I heard it’s chocolate, but Tenya might’ve just been saying that so I’d stop pestering him about it.”

Hanta musters a small laugh, “It’s probably true. I think Midoriya likes chocolate.”

“Tenya likes chocolate too,” Tensei nods approvingly, “Especially when he was younger. He takes after me.”

Hanta laughs again, louder this time, “Are you sure he didn’t just say that because he wanted to be like you?”

“Probably,” Tensei admits, “He used to be so cute, wanted to do everything just like me. It was always nii-san this, nii-san that.”

“He’s still like that,” Hanta points out.

“Yeah, he’s a great kid,” Tensei smiles. “But he’s not as much of a pushover, now that he’s older. He hardly ever plays along with me when I say stupid stuff anymore, you know? It surprised me when he actually agreed to that dumb bet.”

Hanta’s throat suddenly feels thick.

“I honestly just suggested it so he would finally do something about it,” Tensei continues, “He can be so thick sometimes; I can’t believe he thought I wouldn’t notice. I mean, I didn’t know who it was specifically until we met at the engagement party, but did he really think I wouldn’t pick up on it after years of listening to him going on and on about one of his former classmates?”

He smiles at Hanta, seemingly oblivious to the shock on his face. “I thought it’d be funny to just tease him a little, but I never thought he’d actually do it. I’m glad, though. He’s been really happy, these past few months.”

“Um,” Hanta says when he finds his voice again, “Actually, what did you say the terms of the bet were? I don’t think Tenya’s ever mentioned it specifically.”

By the time Tensei’s done talking, Hanta feels incredibly stupid. He manages to stay in his seat until the cake’s been cut, leaving with a polite excuse about going to the bathroom.

“I saw Tenya walk out earlier, after they brought the cake in,” Tensei says, seeing straight through him.

As Hanta heads for the door, a voice in his head that sounds distinctly like Bakugou says, It means you’re a fucking idiot.

 

He finds Tenya outside, in the same spot they had met in the morning. He’s leaning against the wall, head down and eyes closed, but he makes a small sound of acknowledgment when Hanta gets close.

“Have you had any cake?” Hanta asks.

Tenya shakes his head, lips pulling into a thin smile. “Maybe later. I’m a little tired.”

Hanta nods. “It’s good. Tensei said you like chocolate.”

Tenya snorts softly, “He’s the one who likes chocolate.”

“Yeah, I figured,” Hanta scuffs his shoe against the floor. “Hey, Tenya?”

“Yes?”

“I, uh,” Hanta takes a deep breath, “I need to apologize, for completely misunderstanding you back in October. Tensei told me about the bet.”

Tenya inhales sharply. He bites his lip hard enough to leave an indent, looking pained. “You don’t have to apologize. I was the one who went along with it and deliberately mislead you.”

“Yeah, that’s true,” Hanta nods. Tenya winces. “But it’s not just that. I haven’t really been, um, open to the idea of anything happening between us. You were pretty clear about everything, looking back on it.”

Tenya frowns, looking hurt, “I never had any expectations for you to reciprocate my feelings. You don’t have to apologize for not seeing me in a romantic light.”

“It’s not that,” Hanta says quietly, and there must be something about the tone of his voice, because Tenya finally raises his head.

Hanta meets his gaze.

For the first time in a long while, he looks at Tenya—really looks at him—and oh, how could he have not noticed? Tenya’s taller, broader. His hair is shorter in the back, longer in the front, and even the way he holds himself is more relaxed, more confident than stiff. There are scars all over his body that he never had back in UA, and they reflect years of experience, years of saving people and maturing into his potential. His eyes are vulnerable as he watches Hanta, waiting. Like he’s been cut open, laid bare.

He's far from a fresh-faced teenager, and Hanta knows him, better than he ever did in high school.

In the darkness of a new night, Hanta reaches out and slips his hand into Tenya’s. Palm to palm, fingers threaded together.

“Tenya,” he says. His voice shakes a little from bare honesty. “I’m breaking up with you.”

Tenya’s breath hitches.

“I know we agreed to wait ‘til June, but I’m ending it right now,” he swallows thickly and repeats, “I’m breaking up with you, so can I have another chance? For real, this time?"

Tenya doesn’t answer, at first. When the smile comes, it spreads slowly, like sunlight trickling over the horizon. He squeezes Hanta’s hand. Brings it to his lips.

“Yes,” he says simply, “Let’s try again.”