He doesn’t hear the details about the incident, only that someone had somehow gotten onto the school grounds and Shouta was in the middle of a fight. Hizashi races to the scene; Nemuri and Vlad are already there, dealing with the students. They’re both pale, shaken, and Hizashi doesn’t stop to get any updates about the situation. He’ll find out soon enough anyway.
Hizashi rounds the corner, sucking in a breath, ready, but there’s nothing left for him to do anymore.
Rubble litters the area, but Shouta is leaning against one of the few intact walls left, his arms wrapped tightly around violently shaking shoulders. Hizashi would recognize that wispy silver hair anywhere.
That voice, deeper with the onset of age, but still so recognizable, breaks and rattles out a mantra, over and over again.
“S-Shou… I’m sorry… I’m so… I’m so sorry… I…”
Emotion swells up in Hizashi’s chest and he steps forward almost involuntarily. Everything in him yearns to join them, to return to his husband, his best friend.
“It’s okay,” Shouta’s voice is ragged and his breathing shallow, but his words are strong, emotional, sure. “It’s okay, Shirakumo. I still love you.”
Something in Hizashi breaks.
A wide smile spreads over his face with ease, and he forces his numb body to move forward, to ignore the buzzing in his fingers and chest. His voice comes out too loud, probably, but it’s all he can do right now to drown out the noise in his head. He just needs to keep talking, keep smiling, keep moving forward until the feeling of shattering begins to subside.
“Oboro? Is that you?”
The other man’s head lifts from Shouta’s shoulder, and there’s no way he could be anyone but their lost friend. Tears stream down Oboro’s face, bruised and bloody though he was, but his eyes nonetheless seem a little brighter as they look at Hizashi.
Hizashi’s smile widens some more, and maybe a bit of it is genuine in the face of his once-dead friend. There’s too much noise in his head—too much to process right now. Hizashi does the only thing he can do right now and focuses on what’s right in front of him.
“Yeah,” he looks down to see Shouta passed out in Oboro’s arms. “Here, let me take Shouta for you. We need to get you both some medical attention.” Hizashi gently gathers his husband in his arms; he doesn’t miss the way Oboro tenses for a moment, like he’s afraid to let go. Hizashi looks down at Shouta, but that’s not safe territory either; Shouta’s neck is red and swollen, with the telltale marks of strangulation.
Hizashi swallows the sparks of anger forming in his lungs. He’s starting to put together what happened here. Still, it’s best he hears it from the two themselves before coming to any conclusions.
He puts on a smile for his best friend and feels like a fraud.
As he learns in the resulting investigations, Oboro had been used as a puppet by some unnamed villain—though Hizashi had his suspicions as to the identity of said villain—and for the once-hero student, the last twelve years seem to largely be a blank. Or at least, that’s what he told the police. But even years later, Hizashi can still read Oboro like an open book. His stiff shoulders, overly enthusiastic voice, and the way his smile stretches just a little too taut all tell a very different story.
Given the somewhat unusual situation, they’re kept at Yuuei’s infirmary under the stern watch of Recovery Girl, both Shouta and Oboro relegated to one of the beds.
Shouta remains out for the rest of the day, exhausted between his usual lack of sleep, the fight, Oboro returning from the dead, and Recovery Girl’s healing. Oboro follows not long after, passing out in the bed he’s been confined too.
Hizashi spends a good portion of the night flitting between them, fluffing pillows and setting out glasses of water for whenever the two wake up. He fusses and worries and ignores the noise in his head.
It’s getting close to midnight when Nemuri marches in on the call of Recovery Girl and drags Hizashi out of the room. She leads him to the teacher’s dorms, and follows him with reddened eyes and a worried frown to the small complex he shares with Shouta.
“Are you sure you’re alright?” Nemuri asks for the twenty-seventh time that night, and again Hizashi nods and gives her a thumbs up.
“Oboro’s alive and well! I’ve never been better!” He crows, and quickly drops his hand as he notices the way it starts to shake. Nemuri hesitates for a moment longer, but exhaustion pulls at her own limbs, and she heads for the elevator to head to her own place.
It’s only once she’s out of sight that Hizashi fumbles for his keys. His hands shake and he can’t seem to get the key into the lock. He shoves the key forward a little too hard and the entire keyring tumbles from his hand and onto the floor.
Hizashi forces out a quiet chuckle as he bends down to pick them back up. “I’m so clumsy,” he says to no one in particular. His hands continue to shake, but he gets the key in this time, and practically shoves his way into the tiny apartment.
Hizashi and Shouta have their own apartment not far from campus, with three cats and two kids to fill up the empty spaces. It used to be that every once in a while Nemuri or Tensei would come over to babysit and they’d use the teacher’s dorms as a private, adult space when they needed to have time away from the chaos.
But since the dorm system was put into place, they no longer had a reason to make use of the dorms, and the disuse of it was obvious as Hizashi flipped on the light. It was… empty, impersonal.
Hizashi forces a laugh out, but it sounds fake to his own ears. “Ah, looks like I’m on my own tonight, huh? Well, it’s probably the only peace I’ll get for a while, so I should enjoy it while I’ve got the chance.” Hizashi rambles on as he shakily pulls off his boots and sets them by the door, letting his voice pitch a little too loud to fill in the quiet spaces. “Now that Oboro’s back, we’ll be seeing a lot of him, after all.” He fiddles for several minutes with his directional speaker before he’s able to get it off, talking all the while. “Oh, Oboro probably doesn’t have a place to stay yet either. Well, naturally he’ll have to stay with us of course.” Hizashi tears off his jacket and headphones and lets them drop to the floor. “Hopefully Hitoshi won’t mind sharing his room for a bit. Well, he’s in the dorms most of the time so it’s probably fine. I mean, he won’t want to stay in Eri’s room and he obviously can’t stay in…”
“It’s okay, Shirakumo. I still love you.”
“Oh, that’s right.” Hizashi laughs again, but the sound is jagged and grates on his damaged ears. “Shouta had that huge crush on Oboro when we were kids, and with everything that happened, it’s not like he got any real closure. So it’s only natural that…”
The sound of rain drumming against the window finally makes itself known in the sudden absence of sound. He can feel it in streams down his face as thunder rumbles in the distance.
Hizashi takes out his hearing aids so he won’t hear the sound of his heart shattering.
Hizashi passes through the next couple of days in a kind of haze.
He laughs and jokes with his coworkers and teaches his classes and helps Nemuri cover Shouta’s classes while he recovers, but his mind is foggy and there’s a certain numbness that’s settled over his bones. Still, Hizashi drags himself out of bed every morning and does it all again.
Shouta and Oboro both wake up sometime around lunch the next day. They’re both clearly still exhausted, but the underlying tension in their bodies has gone. Shouta’s voice is scratchy and he speaks quieter than usual, but thanks to Recovery Girl, the bruises around his neck have faded to mottled greens and yellows. Even those are largely hidden by his capture weapon, and by the time Shouta returns to teaching, they’re completely gone.
The police want Oboro constantly supervised; Oboro, for his part, doesn’t have anywhere to go, and so he wanders the school. He spends most of his time in the staffroom, pestering other teachers and catching up on all that’s happened over the last ten odd years.
Hizashi indulges his friend, knowing how hard it must be for Oboro, missing out on all these years. But he avoids the big events (USJ, All Might’s retirement, the League—there’s so much tragedy already and his friend has been through enough), but Hizashi has a million little moments to share instead. He gushes about his kids, about who’s struggling with English and who Aizawa calls a “problem child” and who he should go to for all the current gossip. He coos over his three cats, flipping through countless photos and dumb habits.
But mostly, Hizashi talks about Shouta. About who he is now and what he likes and how he’s been. The good things as well as the bad, he spares no expense. He talks and talks and talks, because Oboro deserves to know who his friends are, to know how his loss has affected them.
“Oh, and here’s some pictures from Nemuri’s most recent birthday. She reserved an entire karaoke bar, if you can believe it. Of course Shouta refused to sing, but at some point I helped Tensei switch out his beer for tequila—I don’t remember exactly how, I was pretty drunk by this point myself—and let me tell you, when Shouta gets some tequila in him—”
“Mic,” a familiar baritone rumbles, and Hizashi pauses his retelling to look up at where Shouta stands in the doorway of the staff room, frowning. “In case you’ve forgotten, we’re at work.”
Hizashi jumps out of his seat—he really had forgotten, normally he was so on top of everything, how could he have slipped—already laughing as he pockets his phone. “Sorry, sorry!” He turns to Oboro as he gathers up the papers strewn about on his desk. “I’ll finish that story later. Or maybe if Shouta remembers anything, he can finish it for me!” Hizashi shoots Shouta a teasing smile as he slips past him out the door, ignoring the way Shouta’s eyebrows furrow.
That was another thing. Hizashi had been trying to give Shouta and Oboro as much time together as possible to catch up. And if this meant cutting out a good portion of his time with Shouta? Then so be it.
Hizashi hums a tune to an old American song as he makes his way to class and forces himself not to look back, even as the pieces of his heart continue to break.
It’s only two weeks after the incident that the police officially clear Oboro of all charges and supervision. There seems to be no indication of any lingering effects from the brainwashing, and Oboro hasn’t had any sort of relapse. He’s even begun seeing a therapist over the last few days. As Hizashi predicted, Oboro stays at their place.
(“Just stay at our place.” Aizawa’s tone was as bland as ever, and it takes all of Hizashi’s self-control to still the trembling in his hands.
“Are you sure? I don’t want to bother you guys, especially when you’re—”
“It’s fine, it’s fine!” Hizashi interjects, waving a hand dismissively in Oboro’s direction. “Shouta wouldn’t have suggested it in the first place if he really thought you’d be a bother.”
“Do you even have any money to get your own place?” Silence follows Shouta’s question. “Then it’s settled. You’re staying with us.”
Oboro’s face lights up. “Thanks, guys!”)
Oboro fits right into their home, as Hizashi’d had no doubt he would. He also very quickly begins to accumulate things, having come to stay with them devoid of clothes, personal possessions, or even a toothbrush. It doesn’t take long for the apartment to hit the wrong side of cluttered.
Shouta didn’t really bother with things and never got attached to objects for sentimental reasons, so most of the knickknacks around the apartment belonged to either the kids or Hizashi. But Oboro, like Hizashi, clung to the little stuff, and it didn’t take long for his things to spread from the hall closet to the living room and the rest of the apartment. There was no universe in which Hizashi could’ve asked his friend to get rid of anything, so it seemed like the logical solution for Hizashi to begin moving some of his stuff into the teacher’s dorms.
He started with the little stuff; odd baubles and some books and CDs he didn’t touch very often. Then some more books and his records. He liked to have music on as background noise, and the dorms could get real quiet real fast, so Hizashi moved his record player and his smaller stereo. The nights he spent in the dorms went from once or twice a week to three or four times, so one day Hizashi brought several changes of clothes with him, along with most of hair products.
It doesn’t take long for Hizashi to be living out of the dorms more than he is the apartment. Shouta asks him about it only once.
(“Hizashi,” Shouta’s voice starts, then stops, falling to silence. Hizashi pauses from where he stands at the closet, trying to decide what he’ll need for the next few days in case he doesn’t come back. He looks over to see Shouta shifting in the doorway, not quite looking at him the way he does when he’s uncertain.
“Yeah? What’s up, Shouta?” He tries to keep his voice casual, not letting any of his concern slip through. Shouta didn’t like being coddled.
“…You’ve been spending a lot of nights out, lately.”
Hizashi allows himself to relax, if only slightly. “Ah, yeah, I’ve been sleeping at the dorms lately. With Oboro around I don’t need to make the trek here after school to feed the cats every day, and it’s easier to just sleep there since it’s so close to the school. Plus, I get to see Hitoshi more often.”
Shouta’s shoulders drop in what Hizashi interprets as relief. “Ah, okay.”
He doesn’t mention it again.)
During the times he is home, Hizashi keeps a close eye on how Shouta and Oboro interact. He keeps his ears open and when all three of them are in a room together, he very carefully doesn’t interfere unless he’s directly addressed.
And that’s how it is that Friday night, with Hizashi home for the weekend while Eri has a sleepover with the girls of 1-A. Oboro is home of course, studying to get his provisional license renewed until Nedzu is able to walk him through the steps of getting a proper one. And Fridays are Shouta’s one night off from patrol, allowing him at least one night where he gets to sleep for twelve hours straight.
Oboro is studying—rather poorly, seeing how he snacks more than he reads—at the dining table, Shouta seated next to him with a mug of coffee and giving advice or sarcastic remarks, depending on what Oboro asked. Hizashi, for his part, lounges on the couch as he scrolls aimlessly through various social media sites. He sits with his back to the far side of the couch, and every once in a while he glances over his laptop screen to watch the two at the table.
But he’s been doing his work early to offset the silence in the dorms and the quiet bantering is starting to become comfortable enough to ignore, so Hizashi checks the clock for the sixty-second time and decides that it’s late enough to not seem too out of place.
He gets up and takes his time stretching out the kinks in his back like his heart isn’t thundering in his chest and there’s not a buzzing in his lungs. “I think I’m gonna make some dinner. Any requests?” He glances at the other two; they appear rather absorbed in a particular problem and don’t look up at him.
Hizashi struggles to keep his voice at a soft, normal level as he gives a light-hearted laugh. “Chicken it is, then. How does a stir-fry sound?” Unintelligible murmurs of assent are his response as Hizashi ambles into the kitchen.
It’s not too hard to whip up a dish; he always keeps a large number of spices stocked, and their fridge is full of fresh meat and vegetables as Oboro tries to learn to cook properly for himself. He has a lot of free time to fill up, after all. Hizashi pulls out the chicken, along with a random selection of greens.
He hums as he cooks, letting his hips sway to the imaginary tune in his head. It’s jazz tonight, it would seem, and for a few blissful minutes Hizashi loses himself in the process and the music.
A light, airy laugh and a sonorous chuckle pull him back to the present, and Hizashi peeks around the corner to see both Shouta and Oboro, eyes clenched shut and shoulders shaking in mirth. Shouta calms down first, and his eyes are soft and bright as he watches Oboro continue to wheeze in laughter.
Something warm and fuzzy fills Hizashi’s chest even as the noise in his head threatens to swallow him whole. He looks away, returning his attention to the food sizzling on the pan. The hushed smile on his face widens into something a little louder, but there’s a quiet resignation buzzing in his lungs. The numbness in his fingers and bones fades a little.
Hizashi turns off the heat on the stovetop, pulling two bowls and sets of silverware out from the cupboard and using the chopsticks he’d been cooking with to divide the food between them. The grin slips easily onto his face as he grabs the bowls and sashays his way to the dining table, humming exaggeratedly to a pop song.
“Come and get it~!” He chirps, deliberately putting the bowls right in front of their faces.
Oboro grins delightedly as Shouta murmurs a sincere thank you.
Hizashi thinks he could get used to this, watching his friends joke around. Neither of them had even noticed that Hizashi wasn’t wearing his ring that day.
There aren’t any pieces of his heart left to break.
Hizashi goes to the courthouse on Saturday.
He sleeps at the dorms that night.
Hizashi texts Shouta Sunday morning about dinner.
They meet up at five at a hole-in-the-wall Chinese place between the dorms and their apartment. It’s quiet between them as they order food and start in on the appetizers. Hizashi realizes that it’s the first time they’ve been alone together in the last two weeks. He’s not sure how to feel about that.
It’s not until after the appetizers have been mostly cleared away that Shouta turns to him with an expectant, almost worried gaze. Right. Normally Hizashi does most of the talking, doesn’t he? (But in Shouta’s interactions with Oboro, there’s more banter. More equal participation from both sides. He really pales in comparison to the real thing, after all.) For once, Hizashi doesn’t want to do the talking.
“Ah, actually, I wanted to talk to you about this.” He hates the sound of his own voice.
Hizashi fumbles through the bag he brought and pulls out the manila folder, smile bright and fraudulent on his face. Shouta raises an eyebrow, but accepts the folder without question. He only hesitates for confirmation before opening it and pulling out the papers inside.
The waitress stops by with their dishes as Shouta reads through everything, but Hizashi doesn’t feel all that hungry anymore. Still, he can’t bear to look at Shouta right now either, so he picks at the beef, pushing the broccoli around on his plate.
As soon as the waitress leaves, Shouta tosses the papers down on the small sliver of table uncovered by food and stares.
“What the fuck?”
Hizashi’s smile goes a little wider as he finally musters the courage to look up at the love of his life. “I know it’s a little sudden, and this is going to be hard on the kids of course, but I think it’ll be better for everyone in the long run. Hitoshi’s already in high school, and both him and Eri spend more time at the dorms than the apartment anyway, and of course the cats will be yours, and—”
“Hizashi,” Shouta hisses, but Hizashi barrels on. He has to see this through to the end. He has to get through tonight with a smile on his face, for Shouta’s sake.
“—And you can have the apartment too, since I haven’t really been staying there much anyway. I just want you to know that I still care about you, Shouta. I’m hoping we can be friends still, once this is all settled.”
Shouta looks either furious or devastated, face flushing red, but Hizashi’s always had trouble distinguishing the two. Often they’re the same thing when it comes to Shouta. He also looks speechless, which is more unusual for him. While Shouta didn’t talk much, he always had something to say if you just asked for his opinion. Hizashi doesn’t know what to make of it.
In the end, Shouta settles for the response most like him.
He stuffs the papers into the manila folder, gathers his things, slaps some money down onto the table and leaves, folder and all.
“You always preferred to speak with your actions than your words.” Hizashi says, to no one in particular. He calls for the check.
Surprisingly enough, it’s Nemuri that comes banging on his door at an ungodly hour of Monday morning.
Hizashi’s limbs are heavy and his body exhausted with too little sleep and too many tears, but he manages to tame his hair into something manageable and throw on his glasses before opening the door for her. He’s wearing the same clothes from yesterday, and though rumpled, they’re presentable enough. Nemuri barges into his room, kicking the door shut behind her and coming to stand before him with arms crossed and a glower on her face.
She makes for a terrifying figure to Hizashi’s sleep-addled brain.
“What the hell were you thinking?” She interrupts, and her voice is low with fury. Hizashi blinks, trying to wake himself up enough to catch up with the conversation; Nemuri doesn’t seem to like his reaction. Her voice dips lower. “You gave Shouta divorce papers?”
A smile pulls at the corner of his lips as Hizashi looks away from her steely gaze and rubs the back of his head sheepishly. “Ah, yeah. I suppose it was pretty sudden though, huh?”
“I don’t think sudden even begins to describe it.” She seethes, and Hizashi automatically shrinks back from her anger, but she doesn’t let up. “What the hell possessed you to file for divorce? I don’t know what’s going on with you two lately, but don’t you think you could at least talk about it before—”
“He’s still in love with Oboro.”
The words fall out of his mouth without his say, and with it, the breath in his lungs. The silence between them is a yawning chasm, and Hizashi waits in quiet acceptance for it to swallow him whole. He expects a lot of things, but somehow Nemuri still manages to surprise him.
“Oh, Hizashi.” She breathes, and the anger has all but left her now. Her expression is so unbearably sad, and he doesn’t need another reminder that he’s going to be alone by the end of the week. He got the papers first. He accepted it.
Still, the soft fragility in Nemuri’s voice makes him want to cry.
“You both are such idiots, you know that?” She still sounds sad, but there’s a melancholic fondness to her tone, and Hizashi can only blink at her confusedly. Nemuri sighs, shakes her head, and ruffles Hizashi’s hair the way she used to do back in high school. “Stay here and make yourself a little more presentable, okay? I’m going to get someone to cover your classes today.”
“What? Nem, I can still teach—” He protests, but she cuts him off with a click of her tongue.
“Nope,” she pops the ‘p’, “You’re going to listen to me. I will be back in an hour so clean up a bit. You’re having guests.”
There’s not much Hizashi can do but listen.
Seeing how he’s been banned from teaching today, Hizashi goes for comfort, throwing on a v-neck and jeans. He debates the jacket, but eventually decides to throw it on. He can’t seem to muster the effort to gel up his hair, and just ties it back.
When Nemuri returns an hour and three minutes later, she doesn’t even bother knocking. Instead, she just throws the door open and marches in. Trailing behind her is Shouta and Oboro. He should’ve known.
Hizashi sighs. “Nemuri—”
“No,” she snaps, and there’s not arguing with her when she gets like this. She points a finger at the too-small kitchen table. “Everyone, sit.”
They follow her orders, Nemuri going so far as to arrange their seating arrangement. Hizashi sits across from Shouta, Nemuri and Oboro between them on either end.
Silence follows. Hizashi struggles not to fidget in his seat. He forces his shoulders to relax, forces the tension to release. A smile slowly begins to ease its way onto his face.
“No one is leaving this room until you both work things out. Understand?”
Hizashi turns to her, fingers tapping out an idle beat on the wood. “What exactly are we supposed to work out, Nem? I’m fine. Shouta and I talked yesterday, and there’s really not much left to—”
“Shut it, Mic. Only Hizashi’s allowed to talk right now.”
Hizashi freezes. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to do.
He’s so tired.
Shouta stares at Hizashi, brows furrowed, while Nemuri waits expectantly. Oboro keeps glancing between the three of them in confusion.
Hizashi tries again, smile widening. “Nem, what’re you—” The returning glare he gets is enough. His voice dies in his throat. His expression is frozen in some facsimile of a grin.
He’s just so…
“Hizashi?” Shouta’s voice is uncharacteristically soft. The word that comes to Hizashi’s mind is ‘insecure.’ He doesn’t know what to do. “Why do you want to get a divorce?” He asks, and Hizashi—
Hizashi doesn’t know what to say. He doesn’t know the words.
“I… I mean, it’s better this way, isn’t it?” The smile on his face is shaky, superficial. He feels like a fraud. “I’m kind of a consolation prize, you know? But now there’s no reason you need to settle for me, so…” He waves a hand in the air, as if that could convey the meaning of the silence hiding behind his words.
“Settle for you…?” Shouta’s brows furrow further, and he looks so distraught that Hizashi almost reaches forward and pushes his finger between the wrinkles in his brow the way he usually does. He doesn’t. “What is that supposed to mean?”
“It’s exactly what it sounds like.” Hizashi replies airily, and waves a hand in Oboro’s direction in an attempt to convey his meaning.
“Hizashi,” Shouta starts, before pausing, brows still furrowed and mouth twisted into a frustrated scowl. Hizashi waits patiently, allowing him to figure out what he wants to say. He tries again. “Hizashi, I never just settled for you. I…” A noise of frustration escapes his throat, strangled. At a loss for the words he wants to say, Shouta reaches out and grasps Hizashi’s hand atop the table, tangling their fingers together.
Hizashi looks down. It’s Shouta’s left hand. The dark gleam of his wedding band shines in the artificial light.
“But I…” The smile slips from his face. His hands shake, and Shouta’s grip tightens. “But you still love Oboro.”
Hizashi pales in comparison to the real thing, seated adjacent to them both, watching quietly. Everything about him is a pile of half-truths and misdirection. Deceptively fake, like Fool’s Gold.
He’s so tired.
“I still love you, Hizashi.”
“Hizashi,” Oboro interjects, for the first time. He still looks a little lost, but the deep hurt in his eyes overrides that. “Stop that.”
Hizashi blinks as Oboro reaches out and gently pries his free hand from his hair. He tugs, but Oboro tangles his own fingers with Hizashi’s. He can catch long blond strands between his fingers. There’s noise in his head and a buzzing on his scalp.
Scalding water streams down his face, and Hizashi glances at the window, expecting rain. Sunlight streams through the gaps in the blinds. The two firm hands in his are grounding in a way he’s forgotten as he ducks his head and shudders through a silent sob. From the way Shouta’s hand trembles, Hizashi knows he’s crying, but the most he can do is squeeze tighter. He’d almost forgotten what it was like to put down the mask.
An indeterminate amount of time passes as they sit there, hand in hand. When the last of Hizashi’s tears dry, Nemuri clears her throat, reminding them of her presence.
“You know,” Nemuri speaks up, endearingly awkward, “No one said a relationship could only consist of two people. There’s this little thing called polyamory.”
A lopsided grin forms on Nemuri’s face. Shouta’s shoulders shake. Oboro tilts his head back and howls.
Laughter rings through the dorm, bright and clear. The grin on Hizashi’s face comes naturally, genuinely, and it feels like release. Like healing.
For the first time in a while, Hizashi’s head is filled with quiet. He doesn’t particularly mind.