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*

To say that they reach anything ‘stable’ would be an understatement. What Hizashi and Shota have is far more of a see-saw rocking back and forth while they jump on either end than anything that could be described as steady. Reliable in its unreliability, perhaps, but that hardly counts.

Hizashi still doesn’t know where Shota is a lot of the time, or when he’s coming back beyond an open-ended ‘soon’ that he doesn’t always get in advance of Shota showing up like something the cat dragged in. But he does start to hear, or see by blurry phone-picture, when Shota’s been hurt. Ideally he actually gets a heads-up before Shota does something ballsy that could risk him being hurt, and goes to do it with him. They worked together quite a bit already, but with this new angle they’re teaming up even more to prevent certain worst-case scenarios. Namely, Shota getting injured and then Hizashi straight up murdering him for not asking for help sooner. It’s great for Hizashi’s – or Present Mic’s – image, since he’s the perfect smiling face to slap on some of the otherwise really awful shit that Eraserhead makes his business.

Hizashi soon goes from scraping by in the hero department to coasting. Or, as he likes to point out over late-night joints on his balcony that are both post- and pre-coital, he’s collecting the meagre offerings Shota’s work would get from the government if he was a hero on the grid – like he still refuses to be out of principle, simultaneously proving the point and reaping the benefits in one fell swoop.

Shota doesn’t love the arrangement, obviously, because he thinks that getting recognition or thanks for doing hero work is a gratuitous ego trip under any circumstances. Hizashi just says he doesn’t need the credit then and shoves the mysterious hero called Eraserhead to to the back of pictures where he belongs. Builds up a whole scrapbook of press cuttings where Hizashi’s at the front and Shota’s lurking around in the background like a human smudge on camera. They’re better than ever as a combo on the mean city streets, though they also end up fooling around in some totally inappropriate places when tensions boil over and later is never as appealing as right-goddamn-now.

It’s still always a lottery whenever Hizashi heads home, at any time of the day or night, of whether Shota will be there or not. He still has his own apartment, still sleeps there sometimes too, but Hizashi reckons they’ve both accepted that when the lease is up he’s unlikely to renew it, or get anywhere else to replace it. He won’t be back on the streets again, though, that’s for sure. They’ve lived together before, so why wouldn’t they again? Even if that’s going ‘fast’ for how long they’ve been dating, in the context of how long they’ve been together, it’s practically a snail’s pace.

It’s still… weird, dating his best friend, but in a weirdly comfortable way. Most of the people Hizashi breaks ‘the news’ to are one of two things. 1. Not at all surprised, or 2. Only surprised it took them this long.

Kayama specifically says nothing more than, “Welcome to the fucking party at long last, morons,” and Hizashi would’ve loved to have a comback for that, but the truth is he’s got jack shit. They were late to the party, as Hizashi sometimes reflects when Shota drags him in close halfway through a stupid argument and suggests Hizashi take all that excess energy out on him in another, preferably sexual way. Hizashi’s a real sucker for that one.

They fuck like rabbits with busy, conflicting schedules, but the sex actually manages to get better, which Hizashi hasn’t experienced before. Usually there’s a decline for him that goes hand in hand with a fall to into predictability, as the thrill of fucking someone new settles to routine that Hizashi inevitably gets bored of. But the fact that there’s no predictability to Shota in the first place probably works against that. Everything about Shota works against Hizashi’s natural tendency to bore of people, because Shota’s never not entertaining to him.

If Hizashi gets home late one night three-quarters pissed and finds Shota curled up in his bed like a cat that comes and goes as he pleases, it’s always still a little bit thrilling, because it’s something Hizashi can’t rely on. Though what he can rely on is Shota’s reaction when Hizashi does strip off and slip into bed behind him, wrapping his arms around Shota’s sturdy torso and mouthing his neck whether he’s asleep or awake. Hard to tell the difference sometimes.

When Shota’s really out of it he won’t wake up at all, but most of the time he does, and then he’s always the same. Spreads himself back into Hizashi’s hold like room temperature butter and makes demanding, needy noises while Hizashi’s hand finds its way down to his cock. Hizashi has a hunch Shota’s never gotten off so much in his life since they got together, but boy does he eat it up for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, supper, and a tasty midnight snack on the days-long crashes they spend together between his cases.

Recovery Girl cleared them both STD-wise not too long ago, and Shota was so much more vocal and overwhelmed the first time they fucked without condoms it took Hizashi a minute to figure out it was because he’d never done it before; afterwards, of course, since during Hizashi was more occupied by how fucking incredible it felt. He liked that, once he’d reflected on it enough and Shota confirmed as much after the fact. That no one else had Shota like Hizashi gets to have him.

Hizashi knows he has a high sex drive, but what’s surprising is just how willing Shota is to keep up with it. More than willing. That nine times out of ten if he wakes up with Hizashi mindlessly grinding an erection against his ass, Shota’s going to want to do something about it – even if the thing he does most of the time is just lying there getting fucked. Which Hizashi has absolutely no problem with, since that’s what he wants most of the time to begin with. A willing ass to pound and damn, Shota’s got a great one for the job.

“Started without me?” Hizashi slurs in his ear, horny-pissed when he comes home and finds Shota already lubed after probing a couple of fingers between his cheeks.

“Only a little,” he murmurs, probably without even opening his eyes, but grinding back on Hizashi’s hand all the same. He’s definitely taken leaps and bounds when it comes to being clean and prepped whenever he’s warming Hizashi’s bed, and gotten pretty familiar with Hizashi’s sex-toybox while he’s at it. Something else that was entirely new to him apparently, since until this point he’s been pretty light on worldy possessions. Which is fine, since Hizashi’s got plenty for the both of them. Sex toys and otherwise. Now Hizashi pretty much just has to be in bed with Shota to be hard and ready to rock. Which is convenient when that seems to be exactly what Shota wants when he’s in Hizashi’s bed too. Talk about Pavlovian training.

Those late nights they do what they do best, grabby and frantic, with Hizashi’s face buried into Shota’s shoulder, digging his teeth into hot skin, Shota gasping against him, awake for just long enough to get fucked sideways and go back to sleep.

In some ways, Hizashi thinks from time to time, Shota’s the perfect boyfriend. But only in some.

*

Hizashi’s getting the band back together, if only for one night. They’ve all moved on in one way or another, some still in music, others giving it up to get white collar jobs and the like, but it’s about to be five years since Present Mic Presents! and Hizashi wants to celebrate with a reunion gig and re-release on vinyl now he's got the cash to throw behind it. 

It’s bizarre seeing everyone again, how they’re different but also all still themselves, just… different versions of themselves. Like Hizashi is too, he has to assume. More tattoos, more money, but the same amount of too-much ego.

They’re mucking around doing a sound check in the afternoon before the show, the empty gig venue cavernous when it’s not packed with die-hard fans. There’s less of them, fans that is, than there were back when they were new to the scene, but the ones who’ve stuck around are total maniacs, as Hizashi can testify whenever he gets stopped for a picture or to autograph someone’s tits or ass. One of his latest tattoos is a fantastic comic done for him by a fan as part of an online contest, so fucking good Hizashi just had to wear it permanently on his body, the way everything important to him has to be at some point or another.

On which point, he’s already got Shota’s name in one of the few lanterns on his chest not to have needed filling in after yet another breakup, then again around his wrist along with his first ever headline, and an absolutely hilarious caricature of an Eraserhead-styled cat sitting in a fake pocket inked on Hizashi’s stomach due to a bet Hizashi was determined to have the last laugh on, but those are… Aizawa tattoos. He’s been thinking about a Shota one a lot more lately.

It’s great being with his band again, takes Hizashi back to the prime idiot youth in which they all came together that’s crazy to think of as being five years ago already. Chatting away several years of missed bullshit, it’s only a matter of time before one of them, Tanaka the drummer, in this case, who asks, “So how’s Aizawa?” like Hizashi has been waiting for someone to ask this whole time.

“Ah, he’s good,” Hizashi starts a little forced, if not actually awkwardly, “he’s uh… we’re actually going out now.” Hizashi has never lacked confidence in who he’s dating ever, like literally ever… except when it comes to Shota. Not because he feels any kind of negative about their relationship, it’s just… it’s closer to home, or something, and Hizashi finds himself weirdly self-conscious whenever he has to talk about it to someone who’s known them long enough to react a certain way. Prime example.

“Seriously?” Tanaka bursts with a huge grin. “It actually happened?!”

Hizashi could pretend to be shocked, but he’s not, because he’s gone through this enough times now that there’s very little that surprises him, so he just sighs and admits, “Yeah.”

Though when his drummer turns to the bassist and barks, “You better pay up, Sugimoto!” that’s a first.

“Pay up?!” Hizashi squawks.

“No way!” Sugimoto retorts, strumming away at his bass like it’ll budge the rust from his fingers. “That was years ago.”

“So?” Tanaka keeps going strong. “It wasn’t a time-bound thing!”

“What wasn’t?!” Hizashi’s meant to be the leader here, but remembers why he stopped putting so much effort into his band. They’re worse than a bag full of cats with a handful of catnip thrown in.

“I bet Sugimoto that you and Aizawa were going to hook up sooner or later,” Tanaka boasts as if he had anything to do with it, before sending a pointed glare in the bassist’s direction. “And later still counts.”

“How much was the bet?” Hizashi dares to ask.

“Five hundred yen. Pay up, Sugimoto!” Tanaka demands adamantly. He’s one of the ones still in music, a crew-cut wearing maniac with crazy eyes who, being a drummer, has always been a little bit unhinged.

“Five hundred?!” Hizashi shouldn’t be offended, but he totally is. Why is he offended by the price more than the bet? “You can barely buy a beer with that!”

“So? I’ll buy part of a beer with it,” Tanaka insists.

“Okay, how about I buy you both a beer and you call the bet off?” Hizashi offers suddenly, thinking he’s being sly.

“No, it’s the principle of the thing,” Tanaka won’t give up, of course, because that would be rational. Hizashi loves these fucknuts, in their own way, but he’s also glad he doesn’t have to deal with them quite so often anymore.

“Why do you care anyway?” Sugimoto gets on Hizashi’s ass next, the always too-tall and gangly guy who had to cut his classic long greasy bassist hair because he’s married with a kid already, and has the boring desk job for some big company to go with it. “Will the missus not like it?”

Hizashi feels his nose wrinkle, not sure if he’s about to laugh or sneer at the very concept of Shota being his ‘missus’, and instead lets his stupid mouth run like its competing for the shit-talking olympics. “Well he’s got a bigger dick than you, Sugimoto, so I don’t reckon he gives much of a shit either way.”

Their mouths hang open for a second, all of them, even Handsome Matsuda the guitarist whose most attractive quality is keeping his mouth shut and letting everyone else, mostly Hizashi, do all the talking.

After a moment of gaping, Sugimoto’s mouth closes, and then opens back up to say, “How’d you know how big mine is?” like the absolutely hetero he is.

“Pft, all the times we’ve pissed together and you think I never got a look?” Hizashi shoots with a grin, and Sugimoto unconvincingly tries to shrug it off while blushing bright red.

“So is he coming?” Tanaka butts back in.

“Who?” Hizashi retorts, whipping around to look back at him sitting behind the drums.

“Aizawa, duh,” Tanaka replies, spinning a drumstick over and over in his hand. He’s still playing most nights of the week, was the only one Hizashi actually had to book in advance. From the songs they’ve been going through to remind themselves how the fuck they go before performing them in front of a sold-out crowd later, he’s the most improved musically by far. But if there’s anyone who’s gonna have his shit together on that front, Hizashi’s glad it’s the drummer.

“I, uh, dunno,” Hizashi replies, coming across thoughtful all of a sudden. He’d told Shota this is what he’s doing tonight, but not where it was any kind of invitation. Shota’s never shown a lick of interest in Hizashi’s music before, and a hell of a lot of more skepticism when they were younger and ‘the Cricket Years’ Aizawa was convinced that just having a place to live was way too fucking mainstream, much less being in a chart-topping band. But they weren’t in a relationship before, and things change, now and again. “I'll text him.”

“Oh, that supportive huh?” Tanaka ribs playfully, but he’s the one who called Hizashi and Shota getting together the farthest back of anyone yet, apparently. Hizashi wonders what gave it away.

“Shut up, Tanaka,” Hizashi shoots right back, holding the microphone up to his mouth while he’s talking so the sound guys can figure out what the fuck to do with it that won’t blow the speakers out. Spoiler: it probably will. “I had to tell Sugimoto’s wife we were just going out for dinner before she’d give him permission to go.”

“HAH!” Tanaka screams in delight, and while he and Sugimoto yell at each other Hizashi whips his phone out and messages Shota the address of the venue and the instruction, in case you feel like not being a workaholic loser and a blowing kiss emoji.

Shota doesn’t respond, but he’s right in the thick of doing what he does, so Hizashi’s been lucky just to get occasional check-ins. Or in one case, a badly lit picture of a minor stab wound with the caption, you should see the other guy. But who knows, Hizashi dismisses as Tanaka counts them into rehearsing another fan favourite. Stranger things could happen.

*

Hizashi forgot how much fun it is leaping around on a stage in front of a sold-out crowd for a second there, but wow, what a rush. The music’s right, the lights are right, the audience are losing their minds, and Present Mic is doing his motherfucking thing.

It’s so much fun that Hizashi forgets all about texting Shota earlier on, and is consequently stunned to come off after the final screaming encore and find him propped up against a wall in one of the wings with his arms crossed over his chest and a head wound bleeding literally all over his face.

Fresh from bellowing his lungs out in front of a crowd hollering every lyric along with him, Hizashi’s automatically set at ‘way too loud’ and hollers so hard Shota flinches, “You’re actually here?!”

“Finished… early,” Shota replies, glancing up as if he can feel something on his forehead but isn’t aware that it’s his own blood, trickling past the errant locks of his hair that Hizashi may or may not have cut with kitchen scissors one night drunk because he’d had the idea that it would look good for some reason, only to change his mind after seeing it on Shota’s very unimpressed face. 

“Uh, you’re kind of bleeding all over yourself,” Hizashi points out, and could try to get pissed about Shota showing up hurt as usual, but he’s actually fucking here and that trumps everything. “Were you watching?”

“Isn’t that the point?” Shota responds without missing a beat, and that means yes. Hizashi can’t get over the moment of complete and total awe of thinking that Shota was watching him out there with everyone else. Seeing that side of him. Wanting to.

Hizashi’s suddenly hyper aware of the rest of the band watching them, so quickly rips all his sound gear off and then grabs Shota by the wrist to start dragging him over to the bathrooms.

“Come on, we’ve gotta get you cleaned up.”

Shota lets himself be taken away, of course, and slumps back against the sinks looking bored while Hizashi wipes the blood off his face the way a mother licks her thumb to scrub food off her child’s cheek.

“I really didn’t think you were gonna show,” Hizashi finds himself confessing as he’s peeling out a bit of sticking plaster for Shota’s forehead. He swears, the more first aid Hizashi does for him the less and less Shota actually does for himself. But it makes Hizashi feel a bit better and he does a far better job than Shota ever bothers for his own sake, so they both get something out of it.

“Like I said, I finished early,” Shota responds in a low, smokey tone while Hizashi’s taping him up. He’s been cut from the eyebrow right up to forehead, a shallow slash that won’t scar if he’s lucky, and he usually is, the bastard. 

“Oh, real romantic,” Hizashi scoffs, backing away to take Shota in at a bit more of a distance. He’d asked Tanaka, before the gig started; what had made him so sure that Hizashi and Shota were going to end up fucking ‘sooner or later’ in his own words.

The answer Hizashi gets is the last, very last thing he’s ever expecting, even knowing Tanaka. 

Most people have cited Hizashi and Shota’s clearly co-dependent relationship for so many years preceding their romantic one. Or their unusually high level of physical and emotional intimacy for people who were supposed to ‘just be friends’. Or the fact that whenever someone Hizashi was dating made it a ‘me or Aizawa’ choice the answer has never been them.

But Tanaka just winked at Hizashi from behind the drums and said, “Well he’s kinda hot, ain’t he?”

And Tanaka’s a wild, maniac of a man who Hizashi’s watched benchpress a fan at an afterparty before, so of course he sees it.

It just boggles the mind sometimes how Hizashi never did. Looks at Shota now and sees that scruffy-with-a-little-bit-of-rugged, so self-assured you’d think it was arrogance if you didn’t know him, actual lowkey hunk of a guy staring right back at him in the grotty backstage bathroom mirror.

“What?” Shota says bluntly, little drops of his own blood sinking into the spool of his capture weapon sitting around his neck and an even dirtier look on his face. It’s only been a couple of days since Hizashi washed Shota’s hair the way it actually likes to be washed, and he looks like he might even have passed a brush through it since then, as it sits in heavy waves tumbling past his face to rest on the slope of his shoulders. How when you look closely he’s got bone structure you could hang your laundry out to dry on, and eyes that throw a rock straight through the window to the soul.

It’s not that Hizashi can’t believe Shota’s this hot, it’s that he’s always been this hot and Hizashi just didn’t fucking notice all those years. Enough that it actually leaves him speechless from time to time; and for him, that’s something.

“Are you just–”

Hizashi’s not gonna just anything, because he cuts Shota off by grabbing a handful of his capture weapon and drags him directly onto Hizashi’s mouth. He kisses back. Always does.

But this time he also pushes back too, raising himself from leaning against the sink to surge into Hizashi’s demanding grasp like a wave smashes against rocks that go absolutely nowhere against all the might of the ocean. Hizashi pushes a lot and Shota often gives in, but he also only goes exactly as far as he wants to sometimes. Becomes an immovable object to Hizashi’s unstoppable force.

In a lapse between kisses, Shota lifts his mouth from Hizashi’s enough to say, “So is this some kinda adrenaline thing because you just came off stage?”

“Let’s go with that,” Hizashi replies salaciously, locking onto one of the cubicles behind him and thinking why the fuck not. He’s already gotten the pleasure of discovering just how little Shota cares about where they get down and dirty, which makes sense given his background must include an awful lot of fucking out on the open streets and under bridges and the like. Compared to that even Hizashi’s kind of civilised, toilet cubicle and all.

A little less than ten minutes later, they’re in the stall and Hizashi’s trousers are peeled down to his thighs while Shota’s entire jumpsuit and underwear are down at his ankles. One perk of the way he dresses is that Shota can go from dressed to fuckably naked in about thirty seconds, and Hizashi’s really come to appreciate that about him. Shota’s also started carrying ‘emergency lube’ in one of his many tactical pockets, so all things taken into consideration it really is under a ten minute job for them to go from not-fucking to fucking regardless of the time or place.

Hizashi has dated plenty of people who were up for a bit of cheeky public sex, and hooked up with many more in clubs and such, but there was always something different about that compared to Shota. With others the thrill was that they were out in public, but Hizashi’s pretty certain Shota literally doesn’t care where he is and probably thinks it’s ‘logical’ to just do it where they are rather than waiting to go home.

Some culmination of these factors, combined with just how great it is feeling Shota pushing back in time with Hizashi’s thrusts, propped up against the cubicle wall with his head bowed between his arms, grunting pleasantly with each bounce of Hizashi’s hips against his ass, results in the words, “Fuck, I love fucking you,” coming from Hizashi’s mouth ahead of his brain actually thinking through them.

Though it’s more disarming by far that Shota’s response to this, a half-heard mumble on the tail end of a contented moan, is no more than, “love you too.”

Hizashi’s too caught up in the moment to be derailed by this right away, far too determined to keep ploughing until he comes. Shota, judging by the timbre of his moans, came already, though that doesn’t mean a second time’s out of the question.

It’s only after the delicious squeeze of climax has wrung Hizashi out like a wet dishcloth that he realises what he heard – what Shota said. How it was probably a sensible response in his own head, but that Hizashi had been talking about what a great lay he is, and Shota just came out with he loves me???  

But they knew that already, Hizashi tells himself while his million-miles-an-hour mind goes full steam ahead as they put themselves back together. Hizashi literally admitted he loved Shota before they were even dating, and Shota’s said the same. As best friends. Just not like this.

When they come back out of the bathroom the rest of the band are still there, and Hizashi knows it’s pretty fucking obvious even if Shota wasn’t still zipping up his jumpsuit and Hizashi’s checking he remembered to do up his fly.

“Oh shit, you two really are dating,” Tanaka declares with a jackal-like grin.

Shota just shrugs and announces, “I’m going for a cigarette.”

“Uh, out the back over there,” Hizashi directs, quickly implying he won’t go for one himself, even though it might slow down his racing heart. Watches Shota wander off like a stray cat on the roam and dares to think, just to himself, fuck, they really are like that, aren’t they?

Shota disappears for his smoke, and Tanaka is still giving Hizashi that grin, so Hizashi finally turns around and hisses, “What?”

“Nothing,” Tanaka replies. “Just funny seeing you all settled down.”

“Settled down?!” Hizashi yelps in outrage. “Not fucking likely!”

“Oh please,” Tanaka retorts with a knowing grin that makes Hizashi want to shrug out of his own skin a little bit. “You’re practically married.”

“Where’d you pull that one from?” Hizashi shoots, feeling more exposed than a hermit crab about to swap shells only to discover there’s not a seashell in sight – not even the one he came out of.

With so much confidence Hizashi can’t think of denying it, Tanaka just says, “The way you look at him, dumbass,” and deep down Hizashi knows it’s true.

*

“I’m thinking of getting a new tattoo,” Hizashi tells Shota one evening after Shota’s just up and Hizashi’s gotten back with a bunch of take-out because he knows for a fact Shota’s been living on food paste and energy drinks for days.

“So?” Shota asks with a mouthful of noodles like the complete animal that he is.

“So, I’m trying to have a conversation with you about it,” Hizashi bites. “I need your goggles as a reference.” Because that’s the right way to lead into this, clearly. Not to say the thing itself, but something that just implies it because Hizashi’s too weird to tell it to him straight.

“What?” Shota grunts, only halfway paying attention so Hizashi reaches out to knock the chopsticks away from his mouth.

“Listen for a sec, you fucking caveman. I want to get a tattoo that’s about you.”

Shota does stop eating for a moment, but only to wash it down with a swig of beer, his throat bobbing as he slurps before lowering the can and pointing out, “You already have tattoos about me.”

“No, I mean a new one,” Hizashi explains, not sure if he’s asking permission or seeing if Shota thinks its a bad idea or whatever the fuck he’s doing. “Those are tats from before we were together. I want something now that we are.”

“So why my goggles?” Shota questions, and he’s not saying ‘no Hizashi, it’s a bad idea because you always get tattoos for the people you’re dating and it never works out and I know something that you don’t’, and was that what Hizashi’s been waiting for him to say?

“I dunno, I just thought it’d be cool,” Hizashi mutters. “Like one of those 3D monochrome ones, as if I’ve got ‘em wrapped around my arm about here.” He points to the gap he’s been eyeing up for a week or so, below the moon on his shoulder and above the keyboard running up from his elbow to his bicep.

Shota gives him a funny look. “I don’t wear them on my arm.”

“That’s not the point,” Hizashi huffs, frustrated by more than he can try to articulate. “You wear them over your eyes, but I’m not getting a fucking face tattoo, am I? I’ve got space there.” And running out of it elsewhere, Hizashi must confess as he gets more creative about finding space to fit all his new ideas for tattoos among all the one’s he’s already got.

“So what do you want from me?” Shota replies ordinarily, going back to eating from the container balanced between his crossed legs. “They’re over with my stuff.” Ah yes, the pile of Shota’s shit that moves around Hizashi’s apartment without ever being put away.

“I just… I wanted to see if you think it’s a good idea.” To see if Shota would tell him no, it’s too early to start getting permanent marks of just how much he means to Hizashi, at least on a conscious level.

“If you wanna do it then do it,” Shota offers indifferently. “Being a bad idea never stopped you getting tattoos before.” 

“Oh, says the guy with his own name inked badly on his foot,” Hizashi snorts, and guesses that settles it, doesn’t it.

“Your fault,” Shota tries to claim, but rather than letting that ridiculous notion completely distract him from the point, Hizashi keeps his eye on the prize.

“I’ll need you to help me take some reference pics then, to show the artist.” He’s got one in mind already, has just been waiting for a reason to pull the trigger. Or not.

“M’okay,” Shota muffles through a mouthful of food, and he’s still a savage at heart, but Hizashi can’t help but smile. The Barely Domesticated Boyfriend.

*

Hizashi gets the tattoo: Eraserhead’s goggles wrapped around his arm, done by a master artist of 3D illusions so the dynamic shape of Shota’s shutter-goggles looks like it almost stands out against Hizashi’s skin from the right angles. He loves it. Even Shota says it’s ‘pretty cool’ which from him is glowing praise.

But a new tattoo doesn’t take away this feeling Hizashi’s been trying to get rid of. That niggling, invasive thought that there’s something he’s missing, because statistically speaking, most things are really too good to be true. What are the chances that his relationship with Shota is the exception to an otherwise universal rule?

Sure, they’re not that good when Shota traipses in covered in who-knows-what and whose- knows-what and is too tired to get in the shower, so Hizashi makes him sleep out on the balcony until he’s consented to make himself presentable enough to be allowed in the bed without leaving a himself-shaped red-brown mark where he’s been laying, but that’s still good in its own way. The way that keeps Hizashi guessing what’s coming next. The fact that Shota doesn’t, hasn’t, and isn’t ever going to throw his whole life into being Hizashi’s boyfriend, because first and foremost he’s himself. How something bad hasn’t happened yet, no roadblocks thrown up, and for Hizashi that’s basically unprecedented, so must mean there’s a big one on the way… right?

Hizashi hates waiting for things, which often manifests itself in trying to set the events in motion just so he doesn’t have to sit around with stuff hanging over him potentially being about to happen. He’s always had this inability to let things be, pulls every loose thread, picks every chipped nail. His impulse control is… temperamental, at best. It’s why he and Shota are together at all, because he couldn’t let that be either.

But speaking of impulse control, that’s why the thing he ends up trying to push on Shota is what it is. Because no matter what, any relationship Hizashi is in will hit this roadblock sooner or later.

Shota’s been busy on some new deep cover case that put him completely off the grid for well over a week, in which Hizashi went out more than a few times and declined more than a few advances. Well, declined them eventually, before harmless flirting moved into anything serious.

But when Shota’s just gone for days and days at a time, Hizashi gets to worrying about more than whether he’s alright. A certain something that’s dogged Hizashi his entire dating career. And when Hizashi worries about things, it’s only a matter of time before they come shooting out of his mouth at the first awkward opportunity.

Which, in this case, is after catching his breath having completed the post-Shota-return fuckfest that’s become a ritual as much as a habit. The thought occurs, as thoughts often do, that as amazing as it is having these marathon all-day-or-night-ers with Shota every week or so, it’s the incommunicado periods in-between that he’s getting antsy over. Because they still work together a lot, but not all the time, and those cases when there’s no room for Present Mic are the ones when Shota’s gone longest of all.

How Hizashi phrases all of this is a completely inelegant, out of nowhere comment that runs, “We never talked about being exclusive, did we?”

Post-sex Shota is still regaining his processing power, and he looks over at Hizashi with a puzzled enough expression that begs further explanation.

“Like, like in the relationship sense,” Hizashi blabbers uneasily, “not to say we have to–”

“Never tried it,” Shota interrupts before Hizashi can pick up steam again, and the fact that he’s not freaking out should be a good sign, right?

“Well it’s not like we have to, and I’m not saying that I’ve done anything,” Hizashi rushes to justify, since that’s usually what people assume when he starts having this conversation, “just in case that’s what you’re thinking– not that you’d have a reason to think it, but it’s just something people do talk about, you know?”

“You’re babbling,” Shota points out blankly.

“No, I mean, I’m just saying that it’s an option, like a thing that couples can actually discuss with each other,” Hizashi flaps and keeps babbling anyway, because that’s the best way he knows how to try and explain himself sometimes, “but only if being open in a relationship is something you feel okay with, obviously, because if you don’t–”

“Not that,” Shota interrupts again. “I haven’t tried the other one.”

“The other…” Hizashi slows down, drags himself through the Shota version of thought processing where he’s probably only taking every other word into account and cutting out the fluff. Unless he means… “Wait, are you saying you haven’t tried monogamy?”

Shota gives him a lightly withering look. “You make it sound like that’s a bad thing.”

“No! I mean, I just figured because most people assume…” But most people aren’t Shota, and if Hizashi was going to say ‘but what about Cricket?’ he’d get laughed out of his own apartment. What about Cricket suggested he would ever conform to what society, and Hizashi, have accepted to be normal traits of a ‘relationship’ like exclusivity? And what about Shota’s most significant relationship being Cricket would suggest that ‘monogamy’ is something he’s tried?

Like he’s already bored of this conversation, Shota asks, “Do you have a point?”

“Yes, okay!” Hizashi blurts ugly-style. “I just wanted to see how you felt about it… about, not necessarily being like, totally exclusive or whatever.” There. He’s said it.

Shota is Shota, and that gives him the subtlety of a cement pair of tap shoes. So he just looks Hizashi straight in the eyes with his hickies and his sex hair and says, “You want to fuck other people.”

“You’re not always around, you know!” Hizashi doesn’t know why he’s reacting like this when it’s a conversation he started that Shota is taking it completely in his stride. Or maybe that’s exactly why, because it’s frustating when Shota’s so fucking put together all the time. Outside of sex, at least. Maybe that’s why Hizashi loves fucking him so much, when the screws are finally loose enough to see the shitshow underneath.

“I know,” Shota replies simply, rolling onto his back and stretching. “I hadn’t really thought about it, to be honest.”

“I know,” Hizashi echoes nervously. “Like I said, I’m not saying I’ve done anything–”

“I wouldn’t care if you had,” Shota cuts him off again, and that one really shocks Hizashi.

“You wouldn’t?” He wouldn’t even care? Like, at all?

“It’s a pointless thing to get upset over, isn’t it?” Shota puts to him, or to the ceiling, but it’s directed at Hizashi. Spares only a sideways glance as he asks, “You still want to be in a relationship, right?”

“Yes,” Hizashi answers faster than he feels like he’s ever spoken in his life, a kneejerk reaction to the emotional sucker punch of suggesting that’s something he wouldn’t want. He does want it. He does. He just wants… lots of things.

“So what’s the problem?” Shota says. “If you want to fuck other people, you still want to do it regardless of whether you actually do or not. So you might as well.”

“Really?” Hizashi wasn’t expecting this. Granted, he doesn’t expect a lot of Shota’s approaches to these things, but this one he really wasn’t expecting.

“Better than not doing it and resenting me for it, or saying you won’t and then doing it anyway,” Shota continues to explain like the rational, unemotional creature he can be at times, and Hizashi’s not sure quite how he feels about that. He’s so used to… to that feeling of restriction being part of a relationship, of it being something he has to work at because he’s supposed to want monogamy, to not have a wandering eye and dick that follows right after it. “And like you said, I’m not always around.”

“No, and I… well you know what my impulse control is like,” Hizashi finds himself confessing because he’s not even sure Shota would mention it otherwise. “So you… you don’t mind?”

“Why would I mind?” Shota remarks, and Hizashi doesn’t know why he would. Why he kinda wants Shota to. “There’s a big difference between sex and being in a relationship.” That’s why Shota is the way he is, Hizashi knows, the understated confidence of the things that he believes and would never doubt for a second. How Hizashi might be the one still figuring this stuff out.

“Yeah, there is,” Hizashi agrees tentatively, wondering why he still has that weird niggling feeling, even though he’s supposedly got what he wanted.

*

The next time Shota’s been gone for a couple of days and Hizashi gets that smile from a girl in a bar, he doesn’t make any excuses. Doesn’t hold himself back, even when it feels weird and wrong and like he shouldn’t even though he knows he’s been told that if he wants to, he should. So he does.

They only get as far as making out on the dancefloor, but that’s still enough to have classified as cheating and ended a relationship over before. Less, even. He doesn’t know if he should tell Shota or not. If he’d even care, since he’s barely responding to normal messages right now.

Hizashi gets home to an empty apartment and finds himself wondering if he could’ve gone home with the girl, could be having sex with her right now, instead of being here alone, feeling weird about it anyway. Wonders if what doesn’t affect Shota can’t hurt him, and maybe that’s why he was so blasé about it, because he understands this shit better than Hizashi does – he must do, if monogamy is the rarity for him. The thing he’s still never tried, technically, as of tonight.

Kissing someone else was… different, mostly. Not better, or worse, just different. Fresher, at least. Hizashi ends up falling asleep still trying to decide if he’s feeling happy or sad about it, and if he is sad, why and what in the fuck he’s got to be sad about.

*

“I hooked up with someone while you were gone,” Hizashi tells Shota when they’re having a post-sex cigarette out on his balcony. Doesn’t know what kind of a reaction he’s expecting, or even wants. 

Yet Shota, somehow, is still underwhelming, taking a simple drag on his smoke before murmuring, “Mhm.”

“Not all the way, though I guess I could’ve.” Hizashi feels himself starting to babble already, waiting for the interruption he logically knows isn’t coming, the part where Shota turns around and yells ‘trick question, I do care and you fucked up!’ But that doesn't happen, so he keeps going. “She was just– do you even care? Do you want me to tell you about this stuff?”

Shota gives him one of those looks that guts Hizashi like a whaling harpoon, the end of his cigarette glowing as he takes a long inhale.

“Tell me whatever you want to tell me, Hizashi,” he says it simple, like he always does, and it’s still the last thing Hizashi’s expecting to hear.

Maybe that’s why Hizashi’s response is the last thing he expects to hear from himself in return.

“I love you.”

Shota doesn’t react in any particular way, exhaling a cloud of smoke and tapping off ash into the ashtray they’re rapidly filling up since he got back a few hours ago. But that’s what Hizashi wanted to tell him, right at that very instant.

Because Shota is nothing like Hizashi ever thought he’d be to date, he’s almost too good to be true. He takes everything Hizashi is and more, like he’s never experienced doubt about them for a second. It’s why Hizashi’s so fucking scared of waiting for the other shoe to drop, because if it does he doesn’t know what he’s gonna do. How he’s supposed to function without Shota if things don’t work out.

But Shota doesn’t know or even care about any of that, probably. He concerns himself with what’s relevant and right in front of him. In this case, Hizashi perched on the balcony railing, his feet hooked through the bottom bars in a pair of bright pink tracksuit bottoms and no shirt staring at Shota desperately across the slim space. Just his inked skin and entire soul on show, Eraserhead’s own goggles wrapped around Hizashi’s arm. He thought it would help somehow, by making things feel more permanent that he’s struggling to trust can last.

Not because Hizashi doubts Shota, who has permanence in spades, but Hizashi himself, knowing he always finds some way to fuck things up in the end.

Shota just smiles at him, though, that little shift of his mouth that’s not utterly terrifying like most of his grins are, and adores Hizashi with his eyes.

He takes another drag on his cigarette before replying, “Love you too.”

*

Things get a little… even less stable, after that. Hizashi starts to think he was having more of an anchoring effect on Shota than he’d realised. That having a longer leash between them, at Hizashi’s own request no less, means the distances between Shota’s dis- and re-appearances get longer too. As if Shota’s not worrying about what Hizashi’s doing while he’s gone anymore. Whether he’s lonely, for instance, in a way that might’ve previously been a factor.

Hizashi gets more opportunities with other people, and stops second-guessing himself about taking them. Remembers what it’s like having casual sex for fun, the low-committment no-strings-in-sight easy hookups that he just seems to attract like a magnet. Never brings anyone back to his apartment; not because he can’t, just doesn’t want to. Only once does he come back from someone else’s place and find Shota’s already there, fast asleep on the sofa fully dressed. Hizashi jumps straight in the shower and tries to cool his nerves, because they have established that this stuff is okay and if Shota cared that much he’d have told Hizashi he was on his way back in the first place and Hizashi wouldn’t have been screwing around somewhere else. But Shota hasn’t even moved a muscle when Hizashi comes out of the shower.

He looks clean enough, and even if he isn’t, Hizashi doesn’t think he cares, reaching for Shota’s shoulder to shake him ‘gently’ awake, which in his case is quite vigorous.

“We have a bed, you know, you big hobo,” he announces fondly, watching as Shota’s eyes flit open and lock in on him. He says nothing, but then his hand closes around Hizashi’s wrist and he pulls Hizashi down on top of him.

Despite coming straight from a one-night stand, it’s suddenly like Hizashi hasn’t been touched since Shota left. Every inch of him suddenly on fire for as much contact as possible. Being kissed as if he’d forgotten what it feels like, how much he needs it, why the weight of Shota’s hands on his hips is the most important thing in the world, why his scratchy stubble and warm mouth are perfect. Why Hizashi still longs for him like the tide needs the moon.

They fuck right there on the sofa, unzipping Shota’s jumpsuit just enough for Hizashi to ride him the second he’s ready to take it, or just a little bit before, hissing and cussing as he stretches himself on Shota’s cock while Shota holds his moans at the back of his throat. But if it isn’t what Hizashi feels like he needs, wrapped up in a pleasure-pain package that he’ll sign for every time.

It’s so fucking good that Hizashi suddenly knows exactly what Shota means about there being a difference between sex and what they have, because it doesn’t feel like this with anyone else. It still feels good fucking other people, obviously, and Hizashi likes doing it, likes being able to do it without feeling like he’s walking a constant tightrope over his own restraint. But that it doesn’t satisfy him the same way, and it’s never going to. Because they’re different things, and not in competition with each other, or Hizashi wouldn’t be hungry for Shota the way he is now; but the truth of it is he’s starving.

“I love you,” Hizashi pants as he’s bouncing up and down Shota’s absolutely irreplacable cock, because it’s more than just good sex on a physical level, it’s with his best friend in the whole world. A depth of emotional connection he’s never had before, that he isn’t sure he can have with anyone except Shota, because no one else knows him like this. “I love you,” he repeats, over and over and over, his voice getting louder until Shota finally erases it the moment before he climaxes, “I love you, I love you, I love you–” 

*