Having such a large and imposing frame was a double edged sword, Shouji knew. As a pro-hero, he knew that his natural body type would undoubtedly be a large factor that would aid in the capture of villains. But as a teenager that secretly enjoyed being cuddled, his body only helped to drive people away.
Just having been a tall person was intimidating to the regular, much shorter than him, populace. But his unique quirk had left him with a rather imposing silhouette that drove many away. And the mask he wore was yet another large deterrent, seeing how it made people think he had something to hide- granted, he did have something to hide. But he hid it with the mask because he knew that his normal face would scare people even more than the mask froze them out. He had traded one evil for another, he knew, but he had no idea if there was any other solution to his situation.
His mother had told him that when he had been younger, before he had developed his quirk, he was known as the Cuddlebug of his schoolyard. He had loved everyone and everyone had returned his love with all sorts of physical affection. Because of him, the kindergarten he had attended had wound up adopting a 'positive reinforcement' strategy where the kids received hugs, high-fives, and even hair ruffles in return for good behavior and other accomplishments.
Unfortunately, even though Shouji still wanted to feel physical affection from those he cared about, he could not remember any of those early days. In essence, his body remembered how great those days had been and yearned to return to them, even though his mind could not even begin to muster up any of those suspected pleasant memories.
Ever since he had developed his quirk, the amount of cuddles he received had plummeted so absolutely that at the ripe age of fifteen years old, Shouji Mezou could safely say the handful of people he actively hugged without scaring were all part of his immediate family.
Yeah, life had not been good for the Cuddlebug.
Fortunately, when they moved into the U.A. dorms, his curse was broken. And it all began because of one Uraraka Ochaco.
Shouji smirked softly at the much smaller girl's shout of exertion, then placed the television monitor where she had directed. After he had finished making sure that it was secure in its new perch, Shouji straightened up and looked around the room.
It was a simple decoration, but much busier than his would ever be. If Shouji had to describe the way Uraraka's room looked, he would call it 'homey'. It just seemed like a very comfortable and warm place to be. Much like Uraraka was a warm person- it only felt right for her room to be like this.
"Thank you so much for all your help, Shouji," when he turned around, it was to find Uraraka looking up at him with a broad smile. "You're just too kind. You didn't have to help all of us bring in the things for our dorms."
Uraraka had been the last person he had helped move into the dorms. But all of the girls had requested his help, which he had, of course, given. And Kouda and Tokoyami had also requested his aid, but they would bring their things in a bit later- so Shouji now had at least an hour of rest before he would go back to his friend's aid.
"It's no problem." he spoke through a mouth he morphed, seeing how talking through his main mouth would be muffled by the mask he wore. "You asked for my help and it's only a hero's duty to help."
Uraraka's smile, somehow, seemed to broaden even further after he had said this. And she once again thanked him before taking a step back and allowing him access to the hallway outside of her room.
Moving into the new dorm rooms had been quite the experience for him. Seeing how he had such little things to bring into his room, he had finished moving in and setting things up in less than an hour. Because of this, he had been in the common room when the girls had been planning their own gameplan to help each other move everything in.
When he had heard about Uraraka possibly overusing her quirk to be able to make sure that everyone moved in before lunch time, Shouji had decided to step forward and offer his aid. And so, for the past three hours, he had been helping his classmates bring their things into their dorms and set them up in a manner they were happy with.
Seeing how lunchtime had hit, he decided that it would be a good idea to go out and find some food, seeing how he had completely forgotten about bringing in food when he had packed up his things to bring into the dorms.
In his defense, he wasn't a good cook. He could barely boil adequately at this point in time, seeing how he had only just recently graduated away from evaporating all the water within a pot and leaving it to burn. He didn't enjoy the kitchen much, so cooking for himself had not been something he had looked forward to when it came to moving out of his house. And because of this, he had paid no attention to the fact that he needed food to survive.
He was sure the cafeteria was open, though. So he could probably pop in and get some food before Tokoyami and Kouda arrived. For a fact, he knew U.A. was offering three meals a day within the regular school days for the students that either didn't have the money to bring their own food to prepare in the dorms, or were lacking in cooking skills. Shouji was a part of the latter group.
As he made his way towards the elevators to begin his journey to the cafeteria, Shouji busied himself by thinking about the next day. Seeing how move in day was Saturday, their first actual day in the dorms would be a Sunday. This meant that he would have one full day of not doing anything within his home away from home... and he wasn't sure what to do with the free-time.
He could do some yoga. Probably, he may even be able to complete an exercise routine of an hour or two if he put his mind to it. Back at home, he wasn't able to do this normally because his parents always had something they needed him to do- he was always kept busy. But now that he had moved into the dorms, all he needed to do was study, train, and attend school. For the first time in his life, he would have free time all to himself. And he was somewhat unnerved by this.
The elevator rang, signaling its arrival on his floor.
Just as he was about to step inside, he heard Uraraka call for him. And when he turned around, it was to find Uraraka running up to him with a dark object within her right hand.
Actually, that looked a lot like-
"You dropped your wallet in Mina's room." the brown haired girl jogged up to him, then offered up the wallet she had referenced.
Shouji blinked down at it, then patted at his back pocket with his lower left hand; only to find that said pocket was completely empty.
"Thank you." he sighed in gratitude, "I was going to need that."
With a cock of her head to the left, Uraraka asked, "Oh? Why? Are you going to eat or something?"
"Yeah." he nodded, "I'm heading to the cafeteria."
It was easy talking to the people that didn't seem afraid of him. And while, in the beginning, Uraraka had seemed wary about his large frame, she had eventually seemed to warm up to him. Even though they weren't friends, they were able to talk whenever she started up a conversation. And Shouji enjoyed talking to her. She just exuded kindness from her very pores, he felt.
There was a split second in which Shouji swore Uraraka's eyes became determined. He swore that her kind brown eyes hardened and narrowed. But he had no evidence to back up such a statement. With a broad smile, her eyes widened once more before Shouji was even able to comment on the sudden shift in her mood.
"Why don't you come with us? Yao-Momo already made lunch for all of us and there's enough food!"
In retrospect, he should have known that Uraraka was up to something when she invited him into the fold that was the female students of class 1-A. That was a very exclusive group, after all. And even though they got along well with all the class, there were moments when they wanted to be left alone without any of the guys around. Being asked to hang out with them meant something.
"Are you sure?"
"Yup! Come on!"
Without waiting to hear any further hesitation from him, the girl grabbed two of his right hands and began to pull him in the direction of Yaoyorozu's room.
Shouji followed without putting up much of a fight, seeing how his stomach had begun to make its hunger known to him and the promise of food was more than just enticing.
(Besides, the fact that Uraraka was holding his hands was so nice that he couldn't make himself pull away. He knew that this touch meant nothing to the girl, but it was still comforting to have shared this small bit of contact with someone after having gone so long yearning for it.)
The meal with the girls had been delicious and comfortable. Even though it had been somewhat odd to sit on Yaoyorozu's large bed sandwiched between Uraraka and Ashido, all three of them resting against the headrest behind them.
(Once more, he had luxuriated in the closeness that both girls had unwittingly offered him. He was so touch starved that them sitting next to him, close enough to feel their body heat, made him relax and almost swoon.)
(He was hopeless.)
He had been able to eat and listen into their gossip and jokes, and sometimes he had even offered his own bits of dialogue, even though they had not been much. By the time he had finished eating, he had felt his phone vibrate and he had known that it had probably received a message from his friends telling him that they had arrived at the campus.
After he had thanked them all for the delicious meal and offered his help with anything else they might need during the day, he had began to move out of the room. But just as he had reached the door, he had been left frozen.
"Thank you for all the help, Shouji!" Uraraka's arms were wrapped around his stomach; her body was pressed into his back. "Don't be a stranger and come visit us from time to time, okay?"
Blank- nothing went through Shouji's mind for a good five seconds.
His mind stuttered to find intelligent thought as his body remained unmoving by the door. His right hand had even been left hanging on its way to the doorknob from how truly caught off guard he had been by the sudden hug.
After a few seconds of Uraraka holding him tightly, the color rushed into his cheeks and his mind finally decided that he needed to move if he didn't want to make the situation any more awkward. So he nodded so fast he was sure he wound up giving himself whiplash, mumbled out how he would try and see them again, and then quickly stepped out of her embrace and just about ran out of the room.
The hug had come out of nowhere. And he had undoubtedly looked like a complete idiot to his classmates.
(But he'd be a huge liar if he tried to say that he hadn't enjoyed those select few seconds of being embraced by a person as kind as Uraraka.)
That night, after he had finished helping Kouda and Tokoyami finish up with their rooms, Shouji had wound up making his way down to the kitchen of the dorms to get a glass of water. After spending some time with his two friends, he had managed to calm down from the awkward encounter that Uraraka had commenced. And he had decided that the hug hadn't meant anything- much like the hand holding. Uraraka was just a person that was comfortable with random touches and she now seemed to be comfortable around him. That was it. And he could live with that. He hadn't been good friends with someone as comfortable with random touches as her in a while- it would be nice to have that again.
As he stood by the refrigerator with a rather large glass- U.A. had really gone all out furnishing the place-, he had heard some ruffling behind him. He hadn't paid any attention to it, though, pretty sure that it was just his classmates doing something or another that didn't really have anything to do with him.
He had regretted not paying the sound any mind when he suddenly found a warm body jumping onto his back while invisible arms wound their way over his shoulders. A few seconds after this had happened, there were legs interlocked around his waist and he had just barely managed to stop the water within his glass from toppling out of its sides.
"Shouji!" Hagakure's excited chirp of a voice called from beside his head, the final nail in the coffin on the mystery that was the person that had jumped him.
Taking in a large gulp of air, Shouji centered himself. Hagakure wanting a piggyback ride was not something that was surprising, but it was completely unexpected. She usually asked Kaminari or Kirishima for such a thing. She had never even looked at Shouji as an option before.
Granted, he couldn't really see the people she looked at... maybe she had decided that he was friendly enough, like her other male friends, after he had helped her out with her room.
Yeah, that made sense.
"Everything alright, Hagakure?" He morphed an eye and a mouth right beside her.
From this new eye, he was able to see that the girl was clad in a rather comfortable looking set of green and purple pajamas and was securely perched on top of him.
The grip from her hands and feet was tight. But he still moved his lower set of hands to her legs to make sure that there was no way she could topple off of him and hurt herself. That was the last thing he wanted to happen.
"Yup. I just wanted to ask you something."
There was a weight on his shoulder now, which he assumed came from Hagakure placing her chin on it. And he felt the softest tickle of a hair on his neck, which had him suppressing a shiver.
So that was an interesting bit of information, Hagakure did have hair. Although he didn't think it was too long from the way that it fell near his neck. And it didn't feel all that thick, either.
"Hmm?" he morphed the eye into an ear, and stopped himself from chuckling at the lame joke he managed to think of in a split second. "I'm all ears."
"Okay, I'm thinking we can make you a cloak instead of a jacket." she blurted out as if what she was saying had not just come out of the blue. "We can even make it in the school's colors so that you can wear it in class too."
Shouji's three eyes blinked in pure stupefaction at such an idea and he was thrown, yet again, into a loop of confusion.
"Uh..." he managed to blurt out, ever so eloquently.
"Yup!" Hagakure slapped his right shoulder suddenly, then yelped out an apology and rubbed at the body part.
Shouji tried to tell her that the hit had not hurt at all, there was no need to apologize, but he wasn't able to say a single word before she was talking again. "I'll talk to Aoyama about it- I'm sure he'd love to conjure up some très chic fashion for you."
And just as suddenly as she had jumped onto him, Hagakure jumped down and thanked him for giving her a rather boring piggyback ride. Apparently, next time, she wanted him to walk.
And Shouji was so stunned by the suddenness of her kindness that he was left, once again, blinking stupidly without being able to properly form any words, much less sentences.
(Two people had just about cuddled him in one day! His brain had turned to mush.)
Waking up the next day was... abrupt.
"Why in the world are you trying to make pancakes if you don't even know how to cook?!"
There was a stampeding of feet after the loud screech that undoubtedly came from Bakugou and then a crash of glass. After that, whatever peace may have remained within the dorms was completely shattered, never to be seen again. All of the people that were awake were now screaming and panicking over whatever it was that they had broken.
And Shouji had unfortunately just learned that there would be no peace and quiet within 1-A's dorm. His hopes of free-time vanished before his eyes. He had traded his busy home for a madhouse and he had not even noticed it before it was too late.
Seeing how there was no way he would be able to go back to sleep after the rude awakening, he went about his morning routine before he got dressed in a simple red tank top and a loose pair of sweatpants. Afterwards, he made his way down into the common area of the building to investigate just what had happened.
When he reached his destination, it was to find Kaminari and Kirishima receiving a tongue lashing from an irate Bakugou- and... why was the explosive boy waving a wooden spoon around?
Behind that scene, he was able to see Midoriya and Uraraka running around in the kitchen, throwing away the pieces of glass that had formed when something had fallen to the ground. And seated in the middle of the two racers, eating calmly from a bowl of cereal, was his good friend, Tokoyami.
Shouji decided that it was much too early in the morning to question his classmates and made his way to his friend. Stepping around Uraraka- who offered him a rushed good morning before dashing off yet again-, Shouji grabbed a bowl, the jug of milk, and sat down beside Tokoyami. His friend pushed a box of cereal in his direction, which he gladly accepted.
Even through all of the chaos that was around them, it was nice to have a bubble of peace where he could seek momentary refuge.
"Good morning, Shouji!" Dark Shadow appeared after a few seconds of the two boys sitting quietly, then coiled himself around the six-armed teen's body.
"Good morning, Dark Shadow." Shouji grunted, seeing how the embrace was rather tight.
Tokoyami continued eating, not bothering to scold his rowdy quirk. And Shouji questioned this momentarily, because Tokoyami didn't usually like it when Dark Shadow got handsy with people. And when Dark Shadow unwound himself from his body and instead chose to lay on his back, Shouji fully expected Tokoyami to demand he return to him and stop bothering Shouji.
But that scolding never came.
And even though Dark Shadow wasn't an actual person, his specific brand of physical contact was endearing. It was cool and soft, kind of like a blanket within an air conditioned room before it received any body heat.
It was nice.
So that's how they spent their breakfast: Dark Shadow laid on top of Shouji, Shouji and Tokoyami eating quietly, and the rest of their classmates running around in pure madness.
Later on in the day, he was asked to go with Kaminari and Kirishima to go buy a new coffee pot from the nearest supermarket. He was told that it would be good if he were to go, because the rest of the class was working on keeping Aizawa-sensei so busy that he would not be able to figure out what had happened in the morning.
Shouji did not mind going, seeing how it gave him some time away from the dorms that were much noisier than his home had ever been. And he found out it was a good thing he had gone when Kirishima began to struggle to convince Kaminari to not waste their money on things that were not the coffee pot they had accidentally shattered.
"No, Kaminari, you shouldn't use the money you were given to buy that. Do you want Bakubro to blow your face up?" Kirishima tried to reason with the blonde, but he wasn't listening.
"He'll never find out if you don't tell him! Besides, we can just buy the plastic pot and no one'll know the difference!"
"Everyone'll know the difference." Kirishima stated monotonously, then glanced back at him. "Help?"
Shouji quirked an eyebrow at the plea, at a complete loss as to what the red head wanted from him. Kaminari had his mind made up and he wasn't about to listen. Nothing he could say would talk him out of what he wanted. If Kirishima had failed, how did he expect him to succeed?
"Pick him up and throw him over your shoulder."
"Can't buy nothing if he can't move."
He was sure that he wasn't supposed to do such a thing... But if they didn't hurry, there was no doubt Aizawa-sensei would notice that the three of them were gone. So, with a shrug, Shouji made his way over to Kaminari, pulled him away from the Pikachu alarm clock he was so focused on, and slung him over his shoulder as carefully as he could.
Kaminari yelped and struggled a bit, but eventually settled down and allowed Shouji to walk without having to balance both their bodies.
Kirishima breathed out in relief and began to lead the way to the nice coffee pots.
As they walked, Shouji winced when two softly sparking hands made contact with his lower back.
"Bro, you're all knotted up. You need a massage." was Kaminari's only explanation for the sudden electrical contact.
Shouji breathed out softly when he noticed that Kaminari was not about to electrocute him, then continued to follow Kirishima. As they walked, Kaminari did a rather good job of massaging his tight back.
Before they left the store, Shouji decided to buy the alarm clock for the guy. And he received a promise for a more complete massage later on.
That night, Shouji felt rather relaxed. He knew this was because of Kaminari's impromptu massage and not because of the atmosphere within the dorm. No, that atmosphere was volatile- if he was being kind with his description.
As soon as they had returned from their outing, it had been to constant noise and a scolding from Aizawa-sensei. No. Their classmates had not done a good job of keeping the man in the dark. Iida had tattled on them after being forced to hold in the secret for a full five minutes.
Quite frankly, Iida lasted a lot longer than Shouji had expected.
Because he wasn't accustomed to so much pandemonium, Shouji decided to step out of the dorms before curfew hit so he could bask a little in the silence of the night. He made his way to the back of the dorm area, where he found a nice patch of ground that would be perfect to begin a garden.
As he contemplated just how much his life had changed in the past day, Shouji felt a soft touch on his lower left arm. And when he glanced down, it was to find Asui looking down at the ground, even though her hand was still resting on top of his bicep.
(In the past two days, more people had initiated physical contact with him than they had in the past years of his life. It was weird.)
(But it was nice.)
"You're thinking about a garden, right? Ribbit."
With a small smile dusting his mutated lips, Shouji nodded.
Asui reciprocated with a solemn nod of her own, then began to talk to him about the logistics of a pond-garden combination. By the time they returned to the dorms, they had concrete plans about the design of the garden and what they would be planting there.
It had been nice to step away from the noise and just talk about something as mundane as a garden. Just like it had been nice to find out that Asui trusted him enough to initiate a conversation with him.
On Monday, Shouji stepped into homeroom to immediately get crowded to Kirishima's desk by the excited red head. He was then told to sit down and prepare his best arm- they were going to arm wrestle!
He had stared at Kirishima for a flat second without reacting in any single way. But Kirishima had just smiled back at him, his right arm poised and ready for an arm wrestling match.
And that was how Shouji found himself arm wrestling Kirishima every morning in homeroom.
"Hey, Shouji, crouch down for a second."
Even though he was breathing heavily and wanted nothing more than to sit down and rest, Shouji obliged Mineta's order. He bent down so he was squatting directly in front of his fellow classmate, and was promptly sent into a confused daze when the short boy patted his head.
"You did a great job in that obstacle course."
Shouji waited for a punchline that never came.
Mineta's actions were some Shouji fully expected to be cruel. But there was no comment that degraded him to a dog or anything of the like. Mineta merely nodded at him in what seemed to be gratitude before he moved away and into the changing stations.
Shouji blinked after him, absolutely frozen in his surprise.
But eventually he straightened up and began to move... apparently, Mineta had been genuine with the comment, even though the head patting may have been utilized as an insult.
After this, it became tradition for Mineta to pat him on the head after they worked together. Shouji never grew accustomed to it, in all honesty, but he did rejoice in it. It was odd for Mineta to actually initiate physical contact in a non-perverted way, after all.
That afternoon, he was invited to Kouda's room after dinner. Shouji found it somewhat weird, because Kouda had always struck him as a rather private person, but had still gone.
He had been treated to the best cuddling session of his life. Within said session, the star actor had been Kouda's soft-as-a-cloud rabbit that Shouji had contemplated kidnapping at one point. Kouda himself had sat off to the side, allowing Shouji to hug the small creature without commenting on how odd it was to see such a scary guy enjoy cuddling so much.
After that, it became routine for Kouda to invite Shouji to his room so he could cuddle Cloud, the cuddly bunny-rabbit, when school got rather stressful.
"Oui, Ma chérie, you were very correct." Aoyama's eyes were absolutely sparkling as he finished adjusting the thick cloak over his shoulders. "This gives such a finer silhouette than a jacket ever would. And it adds to the aura de mystère he naturally has."
The gray cloak covered up all his arms and ended a few inches above the middle of his thighs. So Shouji's upper body was afforded complete warmth because of the garment. It even had a bulky collar that wrapped around his neck rather loosely, rising up to just below his chin. He was very sure that such a look really did help enhance the 'mysterious aura' he had... he also guessed that mystère meant mystery, seeing how that was the only way he could make sense of what Aoyama had said.
"Now spread your wings, mésange à tête noire."
Shouji had no idea what any of the things in French Aoyama was saying were supposed to mean. But he was very sure that they weren't insults. The boy only insulted Bakugou in French.
Still, he did as he was told and lifted all six of his arms as wide as they could go to the sound of Hagakure squealing and clapping.
Quite frankly, he had expected the garment Aoyama had made to snag on his arms, so he wouldn't be able to lift them too high. But he had been wrong. He was able to get his upper two arms completely beside his head and the fabric still managed to cover up his stomach, even though it was lifted just slightly.
"Perfection!" Hagakure gasped.
"I have outdone myself!" Aoyama agreed, then threw his own arms out and hugged Shouji around his waist. "Please wear this with pride, mésange à tête noire. For it was made with much love."
Shouji smiled softly and nodded, lowering his arms to return the boy's hug.
Then Aoyama got onto the tips of his toes and kissed both of his cheeks... and even though there was no skin-on-skin contact because of his mask, Shouji still felt his face become unbearably red at the affection.
"I have outdone myself yet again!" Aoyama proclaimed as he stepped away without glancing back, as if he hadn't just completely stunned Shouji with the sudden kisses.
But soon Shouji shook himself out of his stupor with the reminder that Aoyama tended to kiss the girls hello and goodbye. He didn't do so often with the guys, though... except for Midoriya, actually.
Yeah. He had done this exact thing with Midoriya once, now that Shouji thought about it.
Remembering this helped Shouji's racing heart slow down eventually, and he was then able to thank Aoyama for the great cloak he had just made. It was soft and heavy, made specifically for him... and he loved it.
These classmates of his were difficult to understand, but at least they were all good people.
Ever since he had helped the girls move in, they had been a lot more disposed to talk with him. Like, right now, Ashido was perched on top of his desk as she told him about how stupid Kaminari had electrified the Pikachu clock he had given him and destroyed it. Shouji was somewhat heartbroken to hear this, and he commented offhandedly that he would just have to find and buy another for their electric classmate.
Even though he didn't need many material things in his life, he understood that others did. And Kaminari had really liked that clock. It only felt right to try his best to fix the little issue Kaminari had come across.
"Oh my God, you are too good for this world."
One second, Ashido had been on his desk. The next she was on his lap, hugging him around his neck as she cooed over how he was not human- he was an angel.
"You're just a cinnamon bun of love, my tol boi, and I'm not going to allow anyone to hurt you ever again."
Shouji merely assumed she had been babbling the kind of insanity she usually spouted off when she had drank too much coffee in the mornings. He hadn't thought much at all about what she had said or why she was on his lap.
"Also, you've got quite some thunder thighs, my dude- and I am enjoying them. I'm staying here, alright?"
Afterwards, she had stopped hugging him and made herself more comfortable on his lap, then began to tell him about how Yaoyorozu had finished drawing up the plans for their garden and she was excited to get to work with him again.
When Aizawa-sensei walked into the classroom, he had sent one pointed glare in their direction. Ashido had jumped off his lap and scurried back to her chair, but she had not apologized for having been caught in what many would see as a suggestive position.
Shouji hadn't questioned it much at all, no matter their teacher's apparent disappointment, seeing how he had seen Ashido in such a position with other girls before. He just assumed that she had warmed up to him and felt comfortable enough with him to do such a thing. It was nice to know that she had so much trust in him.
(Besides, that was the closest to a full on cuddle he had received from someone that wasn't family in the past five years. He would take whatever scraps he was given.)
It seemed that after Ashido had decided that his lap was a perch most holy, Sero needed to test the theory out. A week after Ashido had first used him as a more comfortable chair, Shouji found the boy with the tape-quirk plopping down onto his lap without even asking him if it was okay.
Of course, Shouji was not bothered by this. But he had been completely caught off guard. He had been watching television in the common room with Kouda and Tokoyami when Ashido, Sero, and Kaminari had waltzed in, whispering to each other. He had not paid any attention to this because he had learned this was a common occurrence. The self-proclaimed Baku-squad was the kind of group of friends that enjoyed plotting very much. And it was best for one's sanity to just not worry over their plans and hope that you were not the target.
"Dude, she wasn't lying." Sero marveled, all the while Shouji only stared, unblinking, at the back of his head. "The muscles on this guy could cut steel."
"I told you I wasn't exaggerating!" Ashido huffed, all the while Kaminari's eyes began to sparkle.
"Move over, Sero, I want to try!"
Shouji glanced at Tokoyami and Kouda, seeking some salvation from the excited trio... but only found them focused on the television.
And so his lap became the sought after seat for many of his classmates whenever they were enjoying their downtime.
He was tired.
Everyone else was just as tired as he was.
Because everyone was tired, he didn't even blink when Midoriya's head fell onto his lap. He merely rested his head back again headrest of the bus seat he and Midoriya had claimed as their own and closed his eyes. And then, when Midoriya shifted around in his awkward position laying on the small space left of the seat so his upper body was almost completely plastered against Shouji's side, the large teen just attributed it to being too tired to care.
Although, the warmth that emanated from Midoriya's body was particularly comforting and helped lull Shouji into his own sleep.
His relationship with the green haired menace-to-himself didn't change much after that. Although, whenever they returned from field trips, it became an unspoken rule that he and Midoriya would ride together.
Shouji was caught off guard by the weight around his shoulders. But when he glanced down to see what it could be, he was comforted to find Ojiro's thick tail.
"You're a saving grace, Shouji. I am very grateful for your help."
Shouji smiled softly and reveled in the touch, all the while the tip of Ojiro's tail began to flick against his cheek. The hair (fur?) there was soft and faintly smelled of strawberries.
"Math isn't easy, I understand." He offered with a noncommittal wave, "But we should focus if you want to be ready for tomorrow's quiz."
The plans for the gardens were lovely and had required a bit of planning. But after a few weeks of strategizing and saving money up, he and the girls had been able to finally set up the garden-pond Asui had envisioned.
After four whole weekends were spent working on the garden, they were finally able to look upon their hard work with the satisfaction of a job well done.
"It's beautiful, ribbit."
"I can't believe we're going to have our own tomatoes!" Uraraka cheered, jumping up and down with Hagakure.
"I just hope Kaminari stays far away from here." Jirou murmured darkly, "He's got an anti-green thumb."
Shouji smiled at the commentary, but gasped softly when he felt a feather-light touch on his middle right arm. When he looked down, it was to find Yaoyorozu smiling up at him with kind eyes.
"Shouji, you've been so nice to us, why don't you come up to my room for some tea and snacks? It's the least we can do after all the help you've offered."
"There's no need to thank me, I wanted to help." He told her from a mouth he quickly morphed, only for her to shake her head.
"Ashido's right, you're no human." She remarked as she loped her left arm around the arm she had touched, "Come on. Maybe we can convince Bakugo to cook up some takoyaki for your dinner."
Shouji chuckled softly at the comment- Bakugo? Making something for him? That would be the day.
But he followed after Yaoyorozu, rather content to have their arms linked together. It was a calm sort of embrace he had not experienced before. But, he decided, he enjoyed it just as much as all the other thoughtless touches his classmates had offered him.
He was lucky that his fellow students had warmed up to him. It was great to experience physical affection after yearning for it for so long.
The six armed teen looked behind him to find Satou walking up to him with a bag in his hands. Intrigued by this, Shouji closed the refrigerator door and stepped over to Satou.
He had been looking over the contents of the fridge to see if there was anything simple he could take to eat for lunch, but had found nothing. Everything within had to be cooked and he still refused to show his classmates how easy it was for him to burn anything he tried to concoct. Even though they were all childish in different aspects of life, he wasn't prepared for them to find out that he wasn't the stoic and stalwart mature person they thought he was.
"Bakugou and I were working on some pastries when we decided to make bento boxes for our friends. So here's yours!" Satou offered up the bag to him, then grabbed him by the shoulder, forced him to lean in close, and whispered into his ear, "There's also some cookies in there, but don't tell anyone we gave them to you. We don't need 1-A to riot because of blatant favoritism."
Afterwards, Satou clapped him on the very shoulder he had grabbed and said his goodbyes.
Shouji appreciated Satou. He always had food to give him after that.
The class' representative was cuddling him.
Unlike with Midoriya, Shouji was fully laying down this time around. And Iida had his arms wrapped around his chest, hugging him tightly from his left side. They were laid down on the ground, facing the television that was playing an old school stop-motion Christmas movie.
"It is m-m-m-much t-t-too cold in h-h-here." The blue haired boy shivered and even though there was a heavy blanket over them and Shouji had given him his very thick cloak to wear- which he really did appreciate with all of his heart-, he couldn't help but agree.
"Winter wonderland!" He heard Hagakure cheer from the kitchen even over the much too loud Christmas music that was reverberating all around the dorm.
The refrigeration unit had broken. And instead of spewing out warm air, as was usual for damaged units, it was spitting out the equivalent of snow. The building had become so cold that Asui had decided to move out and back home until the unit was fixed. No one could blame her, though, because staying could jeopardize her health.
Iida was heavily affected by the cold as well, but had no such excuse to leave. So he had to tough the cold out, even though he was incredibly sensitive to the temperature.
"It's not even Christmas, Invisible Brat!" Bakugo growled from his spot curled up with ear muffs and gloves on the couch. "When'll they finally fix that stupid unit?"
Iida's body was wracked with another wave of shivers and Shouji wrapped his three arms around him, offering some more heat.
"We bring peace offerings!"
Luckily enough, Uraraka's hot chocolate helped warm them up... for a few seconds.
"Wrong way, Sho."
He had his very own female-appointed nickname now. It was odd, seeing how no other male but Bakugo had received one up to this point. But he merely attributed that to the fact that the girls had decided they liked having him around. If nothing else, he could be helpful with his hands, after all. Even though he didn't offer the most stimulating conversation.
Blinking down at the USB in his hands, he turned it over and tried to plug it into the console once more. Jiro had invited him to play a musical video game in her room, but he was failing at just setting up the plastic guitar.
"Huh." the girl clicked her tongue, "Weird."
With a frown, Shouji made sure to glare in disdain at the piece of plastic in his hands.
Soon enough, much smaller and paler hands pulled his away from the USB and grabbed it. He stepped to the side and allowed Jiro to deal with the evil contraption, then pulled awkwardly at the guitar on his chest. These kinds of products had not been made with six-armed people in mind.
"There we go." She smiled as she popped the USB into its right place, then stepped back and patted Shouji on the back. "I swear, those devils refuse to go in right on the first, second, and third try."
Shouji nodded in agreement and smiled softly, albeit awkwardly.
Jiro wasn't the kind of person to touch people easily. She had yelled at Kaminari many times to be mindful of her personal space, after all...
Maybe she didn't mind being the one to touch the other person?
Yeah. That made sense.
(Although, by this time, Shouji was beginning to worry over just how physically affectionate his classmates had seemed to become in the past few weeks.)
(He enjoyed it and loved it... but it was starting to become somewhat suspicious.)
(It was when Bakugou offered him physical contact that Shouji caught on to the idea that there was some great big scheme that the class had cooked up for him.)
"Oi! Octopussy, c'mere for a second."
Shouji had been working on some homework in the common room when Bakugo had called for him.
Well, he had been trying to work on homework. But he had been too distracted by Uraraka and Midoriya messing with Iida to completely pay attention to the task at hand. Besides, this was English he was working on. His worst subject. It was easy to get distracted.
When he craned his neck to look in Bakugo's direction, it was to find him seated on the couch. Kirishima was to his left with a pencil in his mouth and Kaminari was to his right, his head in his hands. Ashido and Sero were on the ground in front of him, looking in Shouji's direction.
Even though it wasn't normal to even talk to the explosive blonde, Shouji decided that being asked to go there must have been important. In the back of his mind, he acknowledged that he left to avoid thinking about his homework if only for a little while, but he refused to admit it consciously.
He walked over to the group and stood in front of Bakugo, waiting to hear what he wanted.
Even though the petition was weird, specifically because of Bakugo pointing for him to sit right between his legs, against the couch, Shouji decided that he could trust his classmate enough to not hurt him. So he sat down and found Bakugo's legs on either side of his body, essentially caging him in, while he faced Sero and Ashido.
The proximity of the blonde's body was nice, albeit weird. Of all the people to be okay with being so close to him, Bakugo was the oddest choice.
Shouji slowly raised his arms, then flexed all six of them.
Ashido and Sero's eyes immediately lit up, and Shouji heard an amazed gasp from Kirishima behind him.
"So manly~" he swore he heard someone whisper, but he wasn't sure if he was right, or if his imagination had gotten the better of him.
After a few seconds of awed silence- that left Shouji perplexed and somewhat uncomfortable at so much attention being directed at him-, he felt Bakugo touch his bicep. And just as Shouji was about to get up and run away before anything weirder happened, he heard the blonde explain why it was that one had to stretch before and after exercising before he started up on a tangent about exercises that built this specific muscle.
Shouji was then subjected to being the anatomical model for Bakugo and his friends for the rest of the semester.
It was when Todoroki ruffled his hair, though, that Shouji finally decided to question all of the affection his classmates had been showering on him.
(Bakugou had let him know that they had planned something. There was no way that the blonde would have asked for someone to sit between his legs unless there was a reason behind it. But it was Todoroki that let him know that the physical contact didn't come naturally to his friends. And it was because of this that he finally asked them about it.)
Todoroki had tried his best to seem nonchalant about what he had done. But he had seemed somewhat awkward after they had successfully finished one of All Might's tasks. And his eyes had shifted from the ground up to Shouji's head, as if unsure of himself, before he had created an ice pillar beneath his foot that had given him enough height to ruffle Shouji's hair without having to ask the taller boy to lean down.
It had bothered Shouji to see Todoroki at such a loss. And it had immediately worried him.
His friends had clearly planned something for him. And maybe the soft and natural touches they had shared with him in the past month had not been as natural as he had assumed them to be.
So one night, during dinner time, as the whole class had eaten together, Shouji had cleared his throat and asked them about it.
Initially, they had tried to deny ever having planned something of the like. Kaminari and Sero stumbled over their words to tell him that they had not planned anything- why would you think that? We're not that insane! So what if we've just only started touching you or whatever? That's just what friends do!
Shouji immediately knew they were lying. So he turned his eyes on the one student he knew he could trust to never lie to him: Tokoyami.
His friend looked back at him but after a few seconds of tense silence, Bakugo finally growled out that the act wasn't worth keeping up if Shouji was wise to it.
"It was Pinkie's idea." the blonde pointed in Uraraka's direction, making her eyes widen in betrayal.
"Bakugou!" she quickly scolded, then hid her face in her hands.
Shouji was at a complete loss. He was so very out of his depth that he didn't even know where to begin.
"On that day you helped us move in," Yaoyorozu stood up, capturing his attention. "You dropped your wallet, remember?"
It took some remembering, but eventually Shouji remembered how Uraraka had ran up to him to give him back the wallet he had unknowingly dropped. With a nod from him, Yaoyorozu continued.
"Well, we couldn't really tell who it belonged to just from how it looked. So we opened it up... and there was a picture of you and your family."
Yeah, he knew.
"That doesn't explain-"
His eyes widened suddenly.
Yaoyorozu winced when she saw the realization dawn on him.
"We... we read the back of the picture." she finally confessed, closing her eyes as she bowed deeply. "I'm very sorry we invaded your privacy, but we thought that it would be interesting to see what date the picture had been taken in! We never expected to find... well... what we found."
Now that Shouji knew this... well, now it made complete sense that his classmates had become so physically affectionate with him.
'My Little Cuddlebug,
I know you don't get much cuddles from your friends. But just remember that I'll always be there for you!'
The message was sweet and simple, but it spoke volumes, it seemed. If his classmates had been able to decipher exactly how much he enjoyed physical affection from just his mother's sweet note, then it must have been very obvious to all of them.
"No, don't apologize." He stood up and bowed, then directed his words to all of 1-A. "I am the one that's sorry. You never should have put yourselves in any uncomfortable positions just for my own selfish needs. Please, do not think I gain any joy from having you push yourselves. I would rather everything go back to the way it was if you're not comfortable with touching me. I understand."
They had all pushed themselves just because of what he wanted. And he had been so selfish and touch starved that he had allowed himself to believe they were all okay with touching him.
It hurt, but he should have seen this coming. Not many people were comfortable with hugging or even touching him because of how he looked. And he completely understood that.
"Bakugou! Not again!"
Shouji was surprised to hear the shout from the explosive blonde. And when he straightened up, it was to see that he was viciously glaring at him.
What had he done?
"D'you actually think we would have done all this if we were uncomfortable with it?" Bakugou marched up to him, glaring up into his eyes.
Shouji blinked down at him, then pointed in Todoroki's direction. "But Todoroki-"
"Half-and-Half is a socially stunted jerk that doesn't even know how to hug someone properly." Bakugou interrupted. "You idiot, we did all this to make you more comfortable."
Shouji was dumbfounded.
Then Uraraka piped up, "You help everyone, Shouji! So we thought that maybe being more open with affections for you would be the perfect way to show our gratitude for everything you do!"
Shouji blinked, brain turning into absolute mush.
"If you want us to stop, though," Midoriya continued, "We will. We don't want to make you uncomfortable." And then, in an audible whisper, he added, "Although I will miss our naps on field trips."
"Wait, would that mean no more piggyback rides?" Hagakure gasped.
"And no more sitting on tol bois lap?" Ashido continued.
"Shouji, let's not do anything crazy now." Sero began to plead. "We all did this because we liked it too. And your lap is so comfortable Mina, Denki, and I are prepared to sell our souls to sit on it! Please don't tell us to stop!"
Shouji's brain had short circuited and he was as dumb as Kaminari became when he overused his quirk.
"People, please!" Iida shouted, grabbing everyone's attention. "We must do what is best for Shouji. Even if we must make a sacrifice, what truly matters is what he wants."
At hearing this, they all began to settle down, slowly agreeing with the speedy boy. But the peace that slowly formed was ruined by Todoroki innocently commenting, "But wouldn't he be able to teach me how to hug?"
That set off a wave of pleas, with most of his classmates... no, friends, begging him to allow them to continue sharing physical affection with him. Some said he was the best cuddler, others said he was the best seat, and others said that he was just a great person that deserved the best.
"Wait, what?" Kirishima shouted, causing everyone to stop shouting so that Shouji could be heard.
With a small, content, smile pulling at his lips and his face very clearly reddened, Shouji nodded. "Okay." he simply repeated.
After dinner, he was forced onto the couch, where Sero and Ashido shared the seat that was his lap. Uraraka was seated calmly to his left, while Midoriya was resting his head on his right shoulders. And the rest of the class was drawing up a 'Cuddle Chart', which would determine the days and time people would be able to cuddle him.
His friends were weird... but he wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.