“Aizawa, would you mind if I had a word?”
The man in question pulled his goggles down and let them hang around his neck. He rubbed the corner of his dry eye as he walked over to the bulky hero who smiled as bright as ever.
Shouta almost put his glasses back on.
Instead, he stepped over the rubble spread over the street and strode closer to his coworker for the day. Shouta forced his shoulders to relax as he stood next to the taller man. “What did you need, All Might?”
The man scratched the side of his cheek and averted his gaze to the side. A bashful action that continued to look awkward on such a large individual. “I wanted to know if you’d like to come back to my agency to clean up so we could maybe get a bite to eat afterwards. My treat.”
Shouta touched a rip in his costume sleeve and looked over the dirt clinging to All Might’s colorful costume. They were both in shabby shape after the battle. Walking home in that condition had its pros and cons, though Shouta preferred to be clean.
His own agency, however, was across town and All Might’s was a mere block away.
With no desire to walk home dirty, Shouta agreed.
“Excellent!” All Might clapped his hands together before putting them on Shouta’s shoulders and squeezing. “I know a great place we can go. I’ve been wanting to get to know you better.”
Most Heroes did.
Shouta’s Quirk ensured it.
Shouta pulled on a warm sweater and pulled his hair over the collar to let it fall on his back. The dressing room in All Might’s agency was small and private, though not exclusive to the famous hero. Shouta borrowed the spare clothes from the wardrobe kept for emergencies and made a mental note to pick up his clothes after dinner. Until then, he enjoyed the comfortable sweater. It was loose on his frame and bunched near the waist, but it was soft and smelled faintly of cologne.
He searched the remaining stack for a pair of slacks he hoped fit. His goggles and scarf bounced around his neck as he leaned over to dig through the messy bundle of clothes. Shouta’s hair dumped over his shoulder and he shoved it away to where it belonged.
“It must be hard keeping track of long hair,” All Might said. His hand moved to tug on a dark strand, but he thought better of it at the last second and pulled away. All Might held his hand instead, rubbing his fingers. “I’m surprised you don’t tie it back for battles.”
“Ponytails give me headaches,” Shouta said. He put his fingers into his hair and pulled. They tangled in a knot and he gave up and let his hand drop. His hair did what it wanted. “It’s not worth it usually.”
“May I?” All Might asked, picking up a clean brush. With a renewed sense of bravery, his fingers brushed against the side of Shouta’s knotted hair. All Might wiggled the brush back and forth. “Your hair would appreciate it and I’ve had practice. My old teacher also had long hair.”
“And they let you brush it?”
“Every so often,” All Might said. “She said it was a good way to relax.”
Shouta snorted and took a seat at a table near the vanity mirror in the corner of the dressing room. He stared at his reflection and reached up to wipe a smudge of dried blood off his cheek. “Do I look like I need to relax?”
“Always.” All Might laughed under his breath and missed the way Shouta grinned himself at the bluntness of the statement. Even Hisashi danced around how tired Shouta looked at all hours. All Might stood behind Shouta and lifted a large chunk of his hair. He bundled it into a ponytail with his hand and used the brush to spread the hair out along Shouta’s back. Starting at the bottom, he brushed out the tangles with first strokes, but kept his hold tight around the top so Shouta couldn’t feel the tug. “Does that hurt?”
Shouta pulled the bottom of the sweater, arranging it over his boxer. He set aside the slacks he’d picked up and rested his arms on the vanity counter as his hair was brushed.
All Might hummed as he worked.
For such a large, intimidating man, All Might possessed such a gentle core nature. His thick fingers and strong hands could rip a man in half and bend steel, but they held onto his brush without a hint of cracked plastic or a ripped hair.
Once he’d cleared the ends, the man worked his way up the strands until he could get full strokes of Shouta’s hair through the brush bristles.
The gentleness set Shouta on edge, however. All Might was a strong hero in a cutthroat business. Friendships existed—Hisashi and his own relationship were proof enough—but they did not come out of nowhere in the work place.
At least his initial distrust seemed unfounded. Shouta’s false assumption that All Might wanted on his good side to learn more about his Quirk and the weakness of it was not the case—the man wouldn’t have bothered with hair brushing if that was the case. This felt too intimate and intrusive to be merely information gathering, though he doubted All Might wanted to do anything bad.
But he wasn’t there to be Shouta’s friend, either.
“Why did you want to brush my hair?”
“Because it was tangled,” All Might said. He kept smiling and humming, working through the tangles at a steady pace, but he was in no rush to finish. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it brushed, come to think of it.”
“I’m usually too busy to bother.” Shouta closed his eyes as the rocking motion massaged his head as All Might moved higher. “Fashion is Hisashi’s thing.”
“Truthfully, I think the messy look suits you, but taking time for yourself is also a good thing.”
“What self respecting Hero has time for themselves?” Shouta asked. He opened his eyes again and glanced at the other Hero’s reflection in the large mirror. He had to look up to see his face, steeled into a contemplative expression. “Even this moment is work related.”
“Oh?” All Might asked. His hand stilled on the brush, the bristles still deep in Shouta’s hair. “How so?”
“You’re being your usual heroic self and checking on a coworker after a fight,” Shouta said. He reached behind and took the brush back. He set it on the counter with a loud click. He turned in his seat to face the man, forcing himself to look up at the towering figure. “You’re not here to brush my hair or ask me to dinner. You wanted to save me.”
All Might snorted, hard enough to shake his entire shoulders. He dropped the smile and shook his head. “What would I save you from?”
“I haven’t figured that out yet, but if I had to guess I’d say overwork,” Shouta said. He poked All Might in the chest and rested his finger there. “But I can’t say for sure. I must admit, I haven’t figured out how your mind works most days.”
All Might put his hand over Shouta’s and squeezed. “You don’t need saving, Shouta.”
“Then why are you here?”
“Because maybe I do.”
All Might pressed his lips against Shouta’s and the deceptively gentle touch carried something so heavy behind it Shouta almost activated his Quirk.
The kiss ended, but All Might did not draw away. He rested his head against Shouta’s and hunched close, pulling his shoulders in to stay small.
“You understand me more than most people, Aizawa,” All Might said. His voice stayed low. “You see past the smile which means I don’t have to wear it around you. I need that.”
“Then why keep it up all the time?” Shouta asked. He pulled his hand, but All Might tightened his grip and kept their hands together. Shouta sighed and relaxed, letting All Might hold his hand properly instead of squeezing his fingers. “Heroes are human. No one would blame you for having a bad day now and again.”
All Might shook his head. “No, no, I can’t.”
To someone else.
All Might’s warm hold sent shivers through his body. His skin was too warm, too strong. It was nothing like Hisashi’s aggressive hugs and touches. All Might was pleading for contact.
Shouta had to pull away.
“Thank you for brushing my hair.” Shouta reached for the slacks and pulled them on. They were a sizer too large and hung down his hips, but they matched the oversized sweater. All Might stepped back, a small frown on his face and lights eyes downward. “I think I might have to pass on dinner.”
“Of course.” The man patted his cheeks and put his smile back on. He put his hands on his hips and inhaled, before he made to reach for his own civilian clothes. “I’m sure I’ll see you later.”
Shouta nodded and grabbed the bundle of his hero uniform.
He hurried home, taking to the back alleys to avoid the streets. Shouta didn’t bother to stop by his agency to collect his things and escaped to his home with his heart still beating too fast.
When he passed by the window in the hallway on the way to his room, he saw his hair in the mirror.
The wind had tangled it again.