Aizawa was troubled. He couldn’t exactly say what troubled him, but he was troubled. And he could feel it souring his mood.
Kirishima – frozen as if Aizawa wouldn’t be able to see him then – stared at the ground while Midoriya excitedly flapped their intertwined hands in front of his guardians' face.
“Look! I’m holding his hand, quirk active, but he’s still soft! Look!”
Midoriya pinched Kirishimas arm to show what he meant .
“And I can shift his hardening around! Look!”
Then he held Kirishimas arm up, showing him his sharp elbow and how the hardening slowly wandered around, down his arm and up to Kirishimas intimidated face. He looked up and accidently met Aizawas eyes , boring into his , and quickly let his gaze nervously wander up the ceiling. Which gave Midoriya the leeway to point at Kirishimas hardened left cheek and then the squishy right one. He poked into the soft skin mercilessly.
“This is so fascinating – you're not doing anything, right Kirishima ? ”
“No, I don’t.”, the boy answered dutifully and Midoriya made that excited jazz-hand Aizawa was always a little surprised to be blessed with.
“No, he doesn’t! I’m doing it!”
“Midoriya, stop poking Kirishima, he’s not a stress toy.”, Aizawa said, despite Kirishima seeming fine with the prodding, submitting to Midoriyas sudden inability to keep his hands to himself. Fiddling with a hardened strand of hair, Midoriya leaned even closer to Kirishima.
“I never had the chance to feel my quirk work like this! It’s like pushing it- no, coaxing it to- to follow my lead! It’s reacting to me and my quirk it- it's so easy and it feels warm and safe, as if it’s protecting me, too!”
Kirishimas cheeks slowly turned red at the praise , while Midoriya suddenly jerked and viciously pinched his own arm.
“But it’s not actually transferring, it’s just a feeling, so am I connected to you then? Through your quirk? Is that it? But why would I be able to manipulate it, if I’m just connecting because to manipulate, I’d have to actually tap into...”
Aizawa blinked a little bit and watched Midoriyas mouth form words and actually sounding them loud out. Red-faced and uncomfortably stiff in front of his homeroom-teacher, Kirishima kept on avoiding eye-contact with him, just as Midoriya pulled Kirishimas arm up to examine his elbow. In the back of the teachers-lounge, Snipe lifted his head over the backrest of the couch to see what the big commotion was about and out of the corner of his eyes Aizawa saw Hizashi giggling behind his hands. Aizawa sighed and let his arms drop into his lap.
“Well, can you stop using it?”
Midoriya flinched and pulled Kirishima close as if Aizawa was about to take him away, surprised and indignant at the same time. Protectiveness flooded Midoriyas eyes, hot and gleaming, b efore he frown ed and turned his face into a contemplating grimace . Immediately Kirishimas quirk spluttered and randomly hardened his body, showing Midoriya s internal struggle. The redhead shifted uncomfortably, sometimes jerking in a way that suggested he had hardened at an unexpected place but otherwise stayed still as Midoriya fixated him with a glare . Concentrating.
“Wait, I think-”
Aizawa carefully observed the interaction, noting how Kirishimas quirk was jumping all over the place but just like a hit-a-mole-game, every time Midoriya managed to stop the quirk at one place, a sharp edge appeared somewhere else. Frustration began to creep up his mouth and at the first ragged inhale from Kirishima... Aizawa leaned forward.
“Easy there, he’s getting exhausted.”, he said and watched as Kirishima pulled himself together under Midoriyas sudden crestfallen stare. He wanted to let go of the redhead but Kirishima squeezed his hand with slightly hardened fingers. Blushing a little bit more .
“I’m fine! I can keep going!”, he reassured Midoriya and Aizawa at the same time with the most trustful and determined look - that was fairly unnecessary in this current situation. But he sounded raspy, breathless. Sweat had started to roll down his face again and Aizawa knew he had been training with Bakugou only half an hour prior to this demonstration because unlike Kirishima, Bakugou had actually signed out of the training-grounds.
“Don’t overwork yourself. Especially in an unauthorized training session, Kirishima . Do I need to give more assignments since you are obviously having enough time? Or maybe another training session?”
Kirishima instantly went white and rigid – the left side of his hair hardened as Midoriya stepped forward, free hand on his hip and his chin jutting out in a challenge.
“Don’t be mean, we accidently did this.”
“So you accidently trained without my permission? How does that work?”
Midoriya rolled his eyes and gestured with one hand in the air. Absentmindedly Aizawa noted how expressive Midoriya was today. Body moving without his usual jittery nerves, hand – for all its flapping – controlled and more focused than ever. His scarred cheek didn’t twitch in thought but rather followed his thoughts and painted them right onto his face. He was obviously in thought as he tried to convince his guardian that they hadn't been messing with each-others quirks on purpose. A sentence his ward had started to use more frequently.
“He just- I helped him with a quirk thing – over a week ago, and it was in class so no rule-breaking here, you can stop glaring – and he wanted to tell me how it went. And we just talked and suddenly I realized we were holding hands and I was able to just reach out and feel this warmth spreading through my arms. Or, not really warmth because that would be weird, right? Maybe I’m connecting nerve-cells with another body through my skin and the sensation translates over to me? Kirishima , are you hot?”
The redhead immediately blushed at Midoriya who suddenly had turned around again and was just about an inch away from his face.
“So, your quirk feels hot when you use it? How does it feel when you turn it off, do you get cold? How do you even tell if it’s hot or cold when your skin hardens, you said nothing can hurt you but is it more like a shell or like a blanket? Can you feel temperatures? Can you feel Bakugous blasts? I now you can hold them off but-”
Everyone in the room turned their heads at the sudden flood of words drowning the atmosphere without an end in sight and Aizawa felt a hand on his shoulder. Hizashi leaned forward, close to his ear.
“Holy shit, what’s going on?”
Aizawa stared at Midoriya currently bombarding the poor overwhelmed Kirishima with a thousand questions a minute.
“To be honest, I have no idea.”
Yamada slapped Aizawas shoulder a few times, excitement pouring out of him and he could feel his best friend grinning right beside his face.
“ He is so excited; I’ve never seen him talk that much! And poor Kirishima is trying so hard, Urgh! They are so adorable! M y heart! Can I buy him a new sweater? I promise it’ll be reasonably priced and only three-colored . ”
Aizawa was about to tell his friend no, when Midoriya started tugging at Kirishimas hand. The redhaired boy wasn’t answering fast enough and his ward had probably decided to check some things himself so he poked him again in the face and arms and shoulders and chest-
“Okay, that’s enough.”, Aizawa said sternly, just as Midoriya was about to tug Kirishimas shirt out of the way right in the middle of the teachers' lounge. Kirishima – still beet-red – looked up gratefully and – to Aizawas surprise – a little disappointed when Midoriya flinched backwards and hit his lower back at Aizawas desk. They were still holding hands, which Aizawa now identified as the source of his troubled mind and Midoriyas word-vomit abruptly cut off.
Silence fell upon them and Kirishimas whole arm hardened up to his shoulder and over half of his face. Midoriya quickly released him and then pulled his sleeves over his arms and hands.
“Uh, sorry, uhm, I didn’t realize-”
Regret and a pang of guilt stabbed Aizawa in the chest as he saw how Midoriya closed off again, crossing his arms over his chest, shoving his hand under his arms and worrying his bottom lip between his teeth. But one look at the panting Kirishima , shutting off his quirk and smiling a little tiredly reminded the adult that he had to draw some lines here. For both their sakes. Kirishima waved Midoriyas apology off.
“Don’t sweat it. I’m just happy to h elp , dude.”
At Midoriyas miserable jumping eyes, obviously taking in Kirishimas slightly slumped shoulders and sweat running down his skin, Kirishima tried for a more convincing smile, holding his fist up.
“Maybe we can try this again later? With permission, of course.” He quickly looked at Aizawa for confirmation and Aizawa had two pairs of eyes on him in an instant. Kirishima nervous and exhausted, Midoriya waiting for his final words. All of his previous excitement stifled and simmering under his usual mask of uncertain indifference.
Hizashi nudged him in the shoulder and he sighed.
“I can schedule some time for you two tomorrow in the gym. Kirishima, clean yourself up and get home. Midoriya, you can help him but no more quirk-testing, am I clear?”
His ward nodded and when Kirishima invitingly shook his fist in front of him, Midoriya rapped his knuckles gently and short against his.
Immediately Kirishimas trademark grin reappeared and lifted the heavy atmosphere Midoriyas sudden silence had left behind from their shoulders.
“Awesome, dude! Maybe you can tell me more about how my quirk feels! You said it’s like a heat?”
Looking at Aizawa with one quick glance, Midoriya pushed himself away from the desk and led the way out of the room.
“Uhm, no, it- it's more like a- uhm- a hug, I think...”, he mumbled and Aizawa heard his nervous embarrassed stutter resurfacing. Kirishima followed, oblivious or ignoring Midoriyas closed off body language, hovering around him and keeping his distance as they passed Yagi on the way.
“Awesome! Like a manly bro-hug or more like a manly manly-hug?”
“What- What’s the difference?”
“Well, a bro-hug, is like-”
And then the door fell shut behind them, mercifully saving Aizawa from the explanation Kirishima was about to give his foster child. He rubbed his eyes. He would probably still have to hear about it tonight. Hizashi cackled beside him, slapping his shoulder.
“Man, that was so adorable! How fast can this boy even talk! Did you catch what he said? So many questions, wow!”
“That was a first for me, too...”, Aizawa grumbled and Hizashi let out a loud whoop.
“And Kirishimas face! Did you see it? Hoo , boy, this is going to be great!”
Aizawa miserably groaned just as Yagi sat down at his desk, looking confused.
“Did I miss something? Why is everyone looking so surprised?”
Turning in his chair, Aizawa let his head fall on the table and tried to forget how starstruck and red-faced and helplessly smitten Kirishima had looked. How he had held his foster child's hand and easily went with everything he had asked for. And how ecstatic Midoriya had filled the air with babbling and mumbling, voice full of life and melodic wonder. Hizashi kept on slapping his shoulder and then his back in excitement, hollering with laughter.
“Have fun teaching that, my friend!”
“What? What happened?”, asked Yagi in alarm and Aizawa tried to kick Hizashi from his slumped form. But his friend just walked away snickering, unharmed.
“I need to call Nemuri right now!”
Aizawa glared with his quirk after him until he ducked out of his field of vision.