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*

Something inalienable about Hizashi is that when he gets an inch, he automatically wants a mile. So if he gets what seems like a free pass with an open relationship for the first time ever, he’s going to need to see how far he can take it. Which, when Shota’s absent for up to a week at a time and has repeatedly stated that as long as Hizashi’s staying safe he doesn’t care in the least what his boyfriend gets up to with other people in the interim, is an awful lot.

Relationships change, Hizashi tells himself now and again when he’s entertaining himself with an endless stream of low-effort sex because why not? It’s not like he’s got anything better to be doing, and he still loves Shota. Things are still incredible when they’re together, and if they’re together a little bit less that’s just life sometimes. 

Hizashi thinks everything is fine. He’s sure everything’s fine. Until he comes back one morning-after just like any other and finds that Shota’s trashed the place.

Trashed might be a strong word. Hizashi isn’t sure if Shota has properly moved in or not, whether his old apartment’s lease is up already or he’s still been crashing over there instead of on the streets whenever he’s not here. Wherever it is he goes when Hizashi’s not home either, the way he’s stopped trying to be, because missing Shota in an empty apartment is infinitely worse than not missing him as much from someone else’s.

The smell hits Hizashi the second he steps in through the door. That stink of tobacco-heavy joints smoked one after the other all night, the dregs of tobacco from pulled-apart cigarettes and weed crumbs all over his coffee table. There’s empty baggies on there too, ones that Hizashi doesn’t reckon had weed in them either, but whatever that was is long gone. All that remains is the shredded guy in the ragged boxers that he won’t let Hizashi throw away sitting on his balcony, smoking a spliff as thick as his little finger. 

Why he’s even bothering to sit on the balcony to smoke seems absurd, since it smells like he’s been smoking indoors anyway. Perhaps earlier in the night, if he’s been here a while, and it looks like he has, and realised Hizashi wasn’t coming back.

Shota doesn’t even see him until Hizashi throws the sliding door open, looking over with a dull flicker of surprise registering on his face, which means he’s got to be royally fucking baked.

“And what do you call this?” Hizashi spits with venom to put a snake to shame.

“Breakfast,” Shota replies mellowly, taking a greedy, fat puff on the joint while Hizashi stands at the open doorway. “Why, you want some?” he offers with a tilt of his hand.

“No I don’t!” Hizashi snaps, and a crease appears in Shota’s brow.

“Suit yourself,” he replies, setting it back to his lips to suck on again.

“It’s… eight ‘o clock in the fucking morning, Shota,” Hizashi finds himself announcing after a frustrated check of the clock. “What are you doing?”

Shota shrugs, sitting back on a folding chair with his feet propped on one of the lower balcony rails. He’s got little flakes of ash down his chest, stuck in his hair, and Hizashi hasn’t seen him in… fuck, he can’t remember right now, but it’s not supposed to be like this.

“Finished a case. Got back last night. Why,” Shota leads into ominously, taking the joint away from his lips as he casts a groggy look up and down at Hizashi, “where’ve you been?”

“That… that doesn’t matter,” Hizashi dodges guiltily, cross at just the implication that he’s got anything to feel bad about. “I’m not getting blazed first thing in the morning.”

“No, just rolling in with a hangover straight outta some stranger’s bed.” Shota does this thing when he’s not in the mood to be fucked with, a cocksure nonchalance that makes Hizashi want to throw a fist straight through the back of his head. How he uses all his powers of observation to be a complete and utter dick, adding a grating, “But sure, go ahead and judge me.”

He’s coming down, Hizashi realises with a clench of his teeth. That’s why he’s so bitchy, that’s why the eight a.m. joints, and maybe Hizashi is hungover and spent the night getting shit sleep on a stranger’s garbage mattress, but that’s not the fucking point.

“Don’t you dare try to guilt me,” he warns once, and once only. “You know that shit doesn’t fly.” Because they’ve gone over this exhaustively, and even if Hizashi’s still got the lipstick on his collar when he walks in, Shota doesn’t mind – no, wait, he doesn’t care. That’s the correct word for it.

“I’m not guilting you,” Shota points out obnoxiously. “I’m just saying: I don’t tell you how to live your life.” He takes another pointed drag on the joint, and Hizashi has to wonder what would’ve happened if he’d been home when Shota got back. If things would’ve gone differently, if they’d be in bed now having had mindblowing sex all night and everything would be fine instead of not-fine. But Hizashi didn’t know that he was gonna be here.

“You tell me fuck all,” Hizashi retorts bitterly. “You didn’t even tell me you were coming back.”

“Did,” Shota replies instantly, mouth muffled by the joint he’s still holding in his mouth, taking it out to elaborate, “Check your messages.”

Hizashi clenches his hand but doesn’t go for his phone, because he knows already that if Shota says he did, he must have. But Hizashi was drunk and chasing ass last night, so no, he didn’t check his fucking messages.

“So what? You’ve been gone for how long? I’m not hanging around twiddling my thumbs waiting on you.” Hizashi’s mad enough to scream, to shatter every window in this goddamn place, though if he tried he knows Shota would shut up him up with a single look.

“Not expecting you to,” Shota replies aloofly, tipping his chin up and plucking the joint from his lips as he blows a plume of smoke straight up into the air. “Just don’t get why you feel like crawling up my ass for no reason.”

“It’s not no reason,” Hizashi shoots. “My place is a mess and you’re out here baked off your tits first thing in the morning.”

Shota gives him a look, a hard one. The one that reminds everyone Eraserhead would rather be a cracked out hobo than a willing pawn in the system, and that he takes a certain view on people trying to tell him how to live his life: they can fuck off.

“So what?” Shota states blankly– no, not blankly, threateningly.

Hizashi’s mind moves in zigzags sometimes. Okay, a lot of the time, which is why the next thing he says is a catty, demanding, “Did you see Cricket?”

The joint sags in Shota’s mouth a little, which does mean Hizashi’s managed to get him in some way.

“What’s that got to do with anything?”

“Yes, then,” Hizashi returns, his blood having gone from a simmer to a boil. “That’s why you’re still wired despite trying to smoke yourself unconscious.” He narrows in on the point, staring at Shota’s face, the depth of the circles under his eyes. “Have you even slept?”

Glaring right back at him, Shota returns, “Have you?”

Losing control of himself for a second, Hizashi belts, “Answer the fucking question Sho–” and then cuts off completely when Shota erases his quirk.

“So what,” Shota starts curtly, “the sex was bad or something?”

If Hizashi could speak right now, he’d scream. Instead he has to wait until Shota stops using his quirk, the dregs of his hair falling limp back around his shoulders, and Hizashi forces himself to keep to an acceptable volume.

“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

“You’re not usually like this,” Shota observes neutrally.

“You’re not either!” Hizashi retorts not at all neutrally, and Shota furrows his brows, because of course he can’t see it. Hizashi turns to point behind him at the debris and clutter all around the living room. “That’s how I know you saw Cricket, dumbass.”

“I didn’t,” Shota snaps. “I picked up from someone else after finishing my case. Got enough to share, but you weren’t here.”

“So you just did it all.” Hizashi’s tone is sharp enough to do a cutthroat shave with, like blood would drip from the edge if he drew it even gently against Shota’s cheek.

Shota shrugs, and takes another puff before holding the joint out to Hizashi again, like he needs calming down.

“I said no,” Hizashi repeats through gritted teeth, and Shota takes it back with another suit-yourself shrug. “So that’s it, you’re just gonna sit here all day getting baked?”

Shota rolls his eyes, accompanied by an even eye-rollier, “Problem?”

“Yes, problem!” Hizashi snaps.

“Why?”

“Because you’re a fucking addict.”

Pausing only long enough to flick off ash and set the joint back to his lips, Shota murmurs, “So’re you.”

“I’m a drug user, not an addict.” Difference being that Hizashi wouldn’t be high all the time if he could, and Shota’s pretty much just standing on the edge of that cliff waiting to take the dive.

“I didn’t say it was drugs.” Gives him another of those looks, and Hizashi knows exactly what he means by it and is angry that he does. “Besides, if you’d been here you would’ve done them with me and you know it.”

“I don’t do that,” Hizashi punctuates with another gesture back at the table, the tell-tale trail of a druggie who only cares where the line is so they can snort it, “and you know it.”

“No, you just stay out all night with people you barely know because you can’t stand being alone.”

“And you get high because you can’t stand it either!” Hizashi turns right back on him. Because a sober Shota left alone has to deal with his feelings, and far be it for him to address any of that like a healthy adult.

Shota gives a frustrated sigh, and Hizashi wants to rip him a new one for acting like Hizashi’s the one being unreasonable here, when he knows he isn’t. Is he? “I’d have gone home if I knew you were gonna kick off.”

“Like you’ve got a place to go.” Hizashi’s being stupid, and saying shit he doesn’t really know is true or not because he wants it to be true in the moment. Because in his head, if Shota’s doing this here he can’t have anywhere else to do it.

“Only my apartment,” Shota replies like paint thinner, as if he’ll dissolve anything that sits in him long enough.

“Oh that’s still a thing?” Hizashi remarks caustically. 

“Yeah, and maybe it still needs to be a thing if you’re gonna get like this every time I wanna get high,” Shota gives like for like in the shitty attitude department, finally stubbing out the choking ends of the joint in an ashtray and standing up. “I thought you’d want me to be here, but clearly not.”

“Not after you’ve made a fucking mess of my place.” Hizashi backs up when Shota barges past him through to the apartment. The other side of the coin from Shota being able to go from dressed to undressed so quickly is that he’s ready to go in just as little time too. Which means that it’s only once Shota’s stepped into his jumpsuit, stomped on his shoes and is doing up the zip that Hizashi realises he’s actually planning to leave.

What really punches it home is the bitter, “Fine. See ya, Yamada,” he offers as he heaves his capture weapon over his shoulders. He only calls Hizashi that when he’s mad, like he forgets the person he loves and remembers the pain-in-his-ass friend who he took a good two terms to soften up to all those years ago.

“Wait.” This isn’t what Hizashi meant to happen, he realises as Shota’s walking away. “Shota, wait.” Goes after him, catches Shota by the back of his jumpsuit when he’s got a hand on the front door. “Wait, dammit!”

“Why?!” Shota turns around and barks as Hizashi’s hand withdraws quick as a whip. “So you can keep riding my ass?!” And not in the fun way, in the way they could be if things hadn’t started badly and gotten even worse.

“No! Because I–” Because if he just lets Shota go he’s only going to do more drugs, and he’s been gone so long already that Hizashi doesn’t want him to go, but also doesn’t want him to stay when he’s like this. Where’s the sense in that? “Because, because…”

“I don’t give you shit about what you do with your free time, do I?” Aizawa’s harder than granite, than diamonds, and Hizashi knows him well enough to know exactly how stubborn he’ll be when he’s backed into a corner.

“No. You don’t,” Hizashi admits quietly. “But we… talked about that.” About how it’s fine – no, how he doesn’t give a shit – if Hizashi’s sleeping around rather than waiting on him. Only, their scheduling is less than perfect on this occasion.

“We talk about drugs too,” Shota replies. “I’m not working, and I didn’t do them when I was working. You just came in here and flipped your shit because I made a mess.” The rules they never sat and carved out in stone, but the fact that Shota rattles them off the way he does proves their existence more than anything. Boundaries Shota sees himself as sticking to, the way Hizashi’s seeing them slip.

“No, that’s not what I…” Hizashi looks at himself through Shota’s eyes for long enough to see it, and winces. “I’m sorry, okay? You just… freaked me out.”

Shota does his puzzled face. “Why?”

“Because I’m waiting for you to relapse!” Hizashi blurts in all its unsightly glory. “Because that’s what happens, isn’t it? It starts out fine, and you keep telling me it’s fine, and then it’s not fine and you’re too stubborn to admit it until it’s completely fucking terrible.”

Shota takes a deep breath, and Hizashi sees the anger rolling off him like an aura, something hot and swirling; something he numbs with drugs because he doesn’t know how to deal with it any more than Hizashi does.

He repeats, “I don’t tell you how to live your life.”

“Stop saying that! I know you don’t!” Hizashi responds frantically. “But you don’t care, do you? I do care.”

Scrunching up his brow, Shota asks, “I don’t care about what?”

“About where I am or who I’m with,” Hizashi barrels through, “You’ve told me plenty of times how much you don’t give a shit, so it’s not the same because I do care if you’re binging.” He’s not watching Shota go straight down the drain into the gutter again. He’s not.

“I care about what you’re doing,” Shota states simply, and that just makes Hizashi crosser, somehow.

“No you don’t, Shota, you’ve made it really fucking clear that you don’t.” Because that’s what bothers Hizashi, isn’t it? There’s a part of him so coded to what’s supposedly ‘normal’ that he wants Shota to give some kind of a shit when Hizashi’s with other people, to actually want him rather than being so indifferent.

“I don’t want you to resent me for stopping you from doing something you want to do,” Shota explains, and Hizashi sees the line of logic. Like with him and drugs. Like he resents Hizashi right now.

“No, I know, and I… I appreciate that, but I…” Hizashi stalls, broken, and puts his head in his hands as he tries to force the words out in some kind of order. “I didn’t want it to be like this.”

Shota isn’t the most emotionally nuanced at the best of times, much less when he’s more baked than a brownie. “Like what?”

“Like this!” Hizashi roars, the hallway too small to contain him, his voice, and Shota standing there with that look of tense confusion on his face. “Where we’re angry and yelling at each other and I’ve missed you but I’m pissed off!”

“I missed you too.” Shota has, when he wants, the ability to take Hizashi’s entire heart in his hand and just crush it. “But you were busy.”

“Because I hate waiting around for you!” Hizashi confesses furiously, hands balled tightly into fists, jaw like iron. “So you’re right, the sex was terrible, and I barely fucking slept, and if I’d known you were gonna be here then I’d have been here too!” And Shota wouldn’t be strung out like fairy lights and Hizashi wouldn’t be hungover and angry and they wouldn’t be screaming at each other the way they are right now.

“Okay.” Shota drops back a whole aggression level, and he doesn’t really do apologies, because in his mind he’s never fucking wrong. But he does acknowledge where the mistake was, does admit when things have gotten twisted. “So now what?”

“Can we just… talk? Okay?” Hizashi flexes his hands again, feeling like he wants to drag Shota away from the door. Not to kiss him, or anything like that; he’s still too weird and cross to want anything like that. But he does not, under any circumstances, want Shota to walk out that door. “I didn’t… I didn’t explain myself properly, why I was angry at you for being stoned.”

Obtusely, Shota points out, “You shouldn’t be angry at me for being stoned.”

“I know, I know,” Hizashi bleats, backing up and breathing out a sigh of relief when Shota walks with him. “Not angry, just…”

“Scared,” Shota puts the word in his mouth, but if the boot fits.

“Scared,” Hizashi echoes awkwardly. “Yeah.”

“Scared I’m gonna relapse,” Shota recites cooly, as if you could run your fingers along each word and brush the frost off the top. “That’s what you said.”

“Yeah.” Hizashi nods defeatedly, drifting back over to the sofa. Admits to himself that it’s really not that messy in here, it’s just not the way he likes it. That it reminds him of Hizashi’s old apartment, full of needles and Cricket’s other even less appealing leavings. “I just wish you’d told me.”

“I told you I was coming back,” Shota reiterates as Hizashi’s sitting down.

“You tell me as you’re coming back,” Hizashi bites off the end of his sentence, watching or glaring – bit of both – even as Shota comes and sits beside him, not close enough to touch, but enough to reach, if they wanted. Not sure they do. “And not always then, either. If I don’t look at my phone for a few hours I’ll miss it, and I don’t want to live checking my phone all the time just in case you deign to give me a heads up that you’re done.”

“Okay.” It’s got weight when Shota says it, the way no one else seems to be able to give to such a simple word. “You want me to tell you further in advance.”

“Yes,” Hizashi sighs so hard he practically sobs. “Yes, because then I can be here, instead of killing time with some meaningless fling.”

“I thought you wanted to.” Because that’s what Hizashi asked for, wasn’t it?

“I do! But not… not instead of you.” Hizashi feels like he’s having a panic attack. Hell, maybe he is. Because it’s so awful and scary to admit this, and is that what the feeling has been all this time. He’s just afraid?

"Oh," Shota says noncommittally, then is pushed by a look from Hizashi to keep going, "When you put it like that."

“Yeah.” Hizashi keeps unrolling like a bolt of cloth falling off a table, because it’s easy to blame Shota for everything, but it’s not the truth. “And you… you have a point, okay? When you said I’m… that I’ve got addictive patterns as well. I get carried away, and end up doing it because I can, not because I actually want to.” And that’s the truth he’s been dodging as well, because it’s really fucking sad if the reason he’s screwing around is because he misses his boyfriend, and Hizashi doesn’t want to be that guy.

“Then don’t do it.” Shota remains, as ever, straightforward to the point of infuriation.

“And do what instead?!” Hizashi bursts. “Sit around here fucking missing you, hoping that you’re actually gonna answer my texts, or show up out of nowhere? I love you, Shota. I love you and I can’t fucking control you, so I just try to deal with it the best way I can.” Which is by getting lost in an alcohol-fuelled blur of no-strings hookups, because the only strings he wants are tangled up in this gorgeous ratbag that he’s never loved or hated more than this moment.

“I’m sorry.” Shota speaks quietly, but fills the whole space with his intention, surprising Hizashi that he’s actually apologising right now, so easily. “I didn’t realise that’s how you’ve been feeling.”

“I… don’t think I did, either,” Hizashi confesses breathlessly, head sinking back down into his hands again. “I’m trying not to think about it, aren’t I?” So he just keeps spinning those old records, keeps moving and being distracted and not thinking about the things that aren’t fun to think about. Because that’s what Present Mic does, often to the detriment of Yamada Hizashi.

“Kinda sounds like you should.” Shota’s hand, warm and weighty, moves to rest on Hizashi’s shoulder, and Hizashi lets it sit. Shota likes to touch, much more than Hizashi ever expected him to. Then again, he’s always been someone of actions before words.

“And you should think more about how your actions impact others,” Hizashi returns swing for swing. “I don’t have the energy to beg you all the time to just communicate with me. I’m not asking for much, am I?”

“No,” Shota admits, a little less comfortable now. “You’re not.”

Desperately Hizashi asks, “So why do you make it so hard?”

Shota swallows, looking forward. “I don’t know.”

“I need you to, though,” Hizashi almost pleads now. “I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life, but I need you to meet me further in from how you are when it’s just you in there.” Because when it’s just Shota living the way he wants to live, he’s an on-again-off-again homeless junkie with a deathwish, and Hizashi can’t deal with that, even if he wants to.

Shota nods, his fingers twitching against Hizashi’s back. “Okay. You’re right.” It’s incredible to hear him admit it, a pressure Hizashi didn’t realise was getting so pent up until they both just blew. “I just get… caught up in everything.”

“And I try to be understanding, but it… it’s not gone great, has it?” Hizashi admits painfully. This certainly isn’t either of them at their best, that’s for-fucking-sure.

Shota nods again, looking a lot more sorry for himself than he did when he was about to walk out of here. “I’ll try harder.”

It’s such a relief to hear that Hizashi wants to break down. Like he’s been holding himself together over something he couldn’t look at or he knew he was going to completely lose it, but now he’s finally dragged the ugly thing out in the open and has to accept it for what it is. Nothing is perfect, not even this relationship, and certainly not Shota.

“Thank you.” Hizashi really is grateful. So fucking grateful. This kind of blowout could’ve ended things for him in the past, but they’re both still here. Their friendship, the thing that underpins everything, gets them through hell and high water, and it’s much stronger than this.

Shota looks over at Hizashi again, with his stupid red stoner deer eyes and his matted hair and absolutely no hickies on his neck like he deserves. “I do love you,” Shota tells him sadly, “I’m just… not very good at it sometimes.”

Look at all the practice he’s had. Hizashi forgets that when Shota’s so clear and put-together in so many other areas of his life. It’s easy to forget he doesn’t know the first fucking thing about being in a relationship.

Hizashi reaches up to wrap his fingers around Shota’s forearm reaching over to his shoulder, tracing his thumb across that soft inner-arm skin as he closes the gap between them a little more, sighing as he leans into the touch. “I know, baby.”

*

Hizashi takes a long shower while Shota has a bath, so the armistice is finally settled with both of them wrapped in towels. Emotionally burned out and so exhausted that when Shota puts his arm around Hizashi’s shoulders on their way out of the bathroom Hizashi just falls into him. They hug, just hug, for a minute in the hallway, no sound but their breaths and the patter of drips on the floor. 

They’ve said sorrys already, made promises to be better at saying what they mean, or saying it in a way the other can actually react to. But it still doesn’t seem fully mended again until Hizashi feels Shota’s lips pressing to his cheek, mouthing the words against his fresh, damp skin.

“I really am sorry.”

Hizashi squeezes his eyes shut and presses his face into Shota’s shoulder, undisturbed for once by his glasses that he forgot in the bathroom after getting out of the shower. It’s been a week, or six days and a night, Hizashi can actually remember now, and he loves Shota too much to go so long between these moments.

Into Shota’s collarbone, Hizashi murmurs, “I am too.”

*

The makeup sex is… intense. They have great sex all the time, so it's not that, it's more… apologetic, or affirming of things they let themselves forget. Makeup sex for Hizashi is usually a melodramatic affair, like something out of a TV drama, bottled up feelings and unresolved resentment thrown in like gasoline on the fire, but Shota isn't really like that. Or Hizashi doesn't feel like he is. 

Shota’s just… sweet, maybe, or even sentimental. Any anger from before has long since dried up. When they fall tiredly into bed, shifting slowly from cuddling to kissing to desperately groping each other under the fresh sheets Hizashi put on the bed days ago and hasn't touched since, it's an apology in every tender touch, in the way Shota just surrenders himself to Hizashi. As if he can’t change the fact that he’s been away, but he can give Hizashi every inch of him now he’s here. And Hizashi wants every inch, he wants the mile, he wants them both to ache until the next time they do this so it’s impossible to forget one another like they had this morning.

“Fuck, Hizashi,” Shota gasps, his voice ragged from smoking all night, though he’s finally sober now. More or less. “Feels so good, don’t stop, please, ah~” He’s the most vocal Hizashi’s ever known him, folded up on himself with Hizashi’s hands hooked into the bend of his knees, pushing him wider and flatter as Hizashi rocks deeply into him.

Shota’s more flexible than he gets credit for, and looks incredible spread out in the morning light filling Hizashi’s bedroom. Their bedroom really, since they’ve been sharing it for longer than Hizashi’s shared it with anyone else. Shota has been the most permanent fixture in this bed long before they were together like this.

It’s so different to everything else Hizashi has been doing. Different even to good casual sex, and on another planet from shitty sex with someone who just lies there giving Hizashi nothing, making him feel nothing. How needily Shota reaches for Hizashi’s face with his hands, pulls him closer, grip tightening as he edges closer and closer to climax.

“I’m not gonna stop,” Hizashi soothes, settling a tone in Shota’s voice like he’s afraid of Hizashi pulling away, of something going wrong again like it did before. But even if things did go wrong, they’re better now than they were before, so it was a right kind of wrong in the end. Something that needed to happen, a rupture to relieve pressure neither of them had noticed building until it was ready to burst.

“I love you,” punches out of Shota as if the push of Hizashi’s cock into him shoves the words off the tip of his tongue, the next falling in time with each new thrust. “I’m sorry. I love you.” One after the other, chasing each other out. He almost seems like he’s close to tears, but Hizashi’s never seen him cry. Not even at funerals.

“I love you too,” Hizashi returns before losing his lips in a kiss as Shota drags Hizashi’s mouth onto his. He surfaces for air and to echo, “I’m sorry too.”

It takes a little work, and some careful edging for Shota while he falls to absolute pieces, but Hizashi manages to time it so they come together. The earth shakes, stars collide, every trope in the book, you name it. It’s good. It’s home.

“I’m gonna do better,” Shota promises him quietly in the aftermath, his face resting on Hizashi’s chest with Hizashi’s arm wrapped around his shoulders, breathing together on the edge of sleep. It’s still the late morning, but hell if they couldn’t both use a nap. “I promise.”

Hizashi just kisses his forehead, nods, and for once, doesn’t say anything at all.

*

Things do get better. Enough that Hizashi feels like they were idiots for not doing it sooner, for not just talking to each other instead of retreating further and further into their own unhealthy coping mechanisms. Not realising that if they put their head up and looked over the wall they’d see the other one doing exactly the same thing, and they’re just the same brand of moron sometimes.

Shota starts to message Hizashi every day, unprompted, which Hizashi insists he doesn’t need to do like clockwork, as if it’s a chore to be ticked off, but Shota says the routine helps him remember. It’s nice not always being the first to reach out, and Hizashi stops feeling like he’s throwing energy into a bottomless hole that leaves him on read all the time. Shota gets better at giving estimates of how much longer he’s going to be away too, learning to trust that Hizashi would rather get something approximate and understand when it changes than have nothing at all.

Shota even starts to come back while he’s working sometimes, which is brand new and Hizashi never thought would happen, and maybe Shota didn’t either. But as soon as he does the benefits become immediately apparent, and it goes from something Shota does because he understands Hizashi would rather spend a little extra time with him than with anyone else, to something Shota wants to do because it helps him recharge and keep going. Beats a sleeping bag under a bridge any day, which Hizashi teases him for being so slow to recognise – while also being grateful beyond words that Shota can, has changed these habits that seemed so ingrained. Shota teases him back for not realising that all Hizashi has to do is ask for things from him, not constructing an elaborate means of distraction rather than a simple ‘I miss you, let’s meet up’ he can actually respond to.

Because Shota doesn’t always have to come all the way to Hizashi either, and if he actually tells Hizashi where he is and when he’s got free time then Hizashi will gladly go to him. They see the inside of more than a few sleazy Love Hotels, Hizashi usually slipping in incognito so as not to draw attention, and it’s actually fun. Stupid, sexy, themed-room fun.

Hizashi also starts to think a little more broadly on his side of things, now Shota understands that asking for more freedom sexually isn’t the same thing as asking for less time with him. Hizashi reins back on going out looking for one thing only, and stops feeling like he needs someone whenever Shota’s not an option. The fucking self-fulfilling prophecy of it is that when he’s seeing and talking to Shota more often he doesn’t mind being alone nearly as much, loses that itch of needing anyone because anyone is better than no one.

He also starts getting more creative with what ‘open’ can mean, since Shota tells him – the same way he tells Hizashi most things he’d never dreamed of hearing coming so ordinarily from the person he’s dating’s mouth – that he’s ‘fine’ with Hizashi bringing other people in if Shota does happen to be around and an opportunity comes up.

“Even a woman?” Hizashi tests, openly shocked.

“Sure.” Shota sips his tea with one of his legs hanging over Hizashi’s lap while the TV plays nonsense in the background, then looks over when he senses Hizashi staring. “What?”

“Really?” Hizashi has said before the only woman’s vagina Shota’s touched was his mother’s on the way out, and Shota agreed with him. He’s about as straight as a paperclip.

So it’s weird watching Shota shrug now, as if it’s not that he refuses to have sexual interaction with women, he’s just never fucking considered it or something like that. “It’s not like I’d have to fuck her, is it?”

“No, I guess not.” Hizashi hadn’t even thought about how that’d work, assuming when he asked the question that Shota would draw a line somewhere, anywhere. One of the weirdest things for Hizashi in this relationship has been that lack of sexual boundaries, so used to having them set down for him by whoever he’s dating because Hizashi always wants more than the other person’s willing to give.

Except in the way that other people come with a set of pre-programmed rules and expectations when it comes to sex and relationships, Shota’s got a wide, borderless expanse of nothing. Actually drawing the boundaries up himself is bizarre for Hizashi, though not in a bad way.

“So that’s seriously okay?” Hizashi checks again. “You’d have, like, a threeway with a woman?”

Shota shrugs again, the epitome of demisexuality with freshly washed hair; Hizashi loves him so much. “As long as you’re there.”

*

With a new challenge in his sights, Hizashi stops avoiding talking about his dating situation when he’s out and about, and starts putting out there at the earliest opportunity that he’s happily in a relationship with an absolutely top-notch guy but there’s always ‘room for a party’.

It puts off more people than it intrigues, and Hizashi thinks at first that Shota would feel more comfortable with a man than a woman, so approaches it from that angle. Only to be told, after another frustrating strike-out, that Shota’s not going to feel any differently about a stranger depending on their gender, nor is he going to be the one fucking them either way, so it makes absolutely no difference to him.

This takes Hizashi a while to wrap his head around, and they end up properly talking about it over take-out one evening. Hizashi doesn’t think Shota’s ever bothered to pull it all out of his head before either, so it’s… interesting, honestly, helping him to piece it out.

It seems to boil down to the fact that Shota is either completely indifferent or extremely specific about who he has sex with, with a sub-note that he’s definitely not interested in women. For a guy who’s given out sexual favours for case leads, it kinda makes sense that those offers only tend to come in from less-than-desirable dudes in the first place.

It also makes its own kind of sense that the only people he wants to sleep with are those he’s already attached to, and if he’s not attached then he doesn’t actively want it – Hizashi had figured that much out about him already. He doesn’t dislike sex, though, clearly not, so if there’s another reason to screw around with literally any guy then he’ll happily go along with it.

Cricket, Hizashi dares to find out, wincing through his own reservations and worries around such a volatile topic, started as the latter and became the former. How Shota got attached to him makes Hizashi shudder to think about, but he doesn’t pretend he’s got no idea whatsoever. Cricket is the magnified, extreme conclusion of a part of Shota that makes him who he is, why he does what he does as the hero Eraserhead and the principles that underpin it all. Because Hizashi doesn’t hate Cricks – well, he does hate Cricks – what he really hates is what Cricket brings out in Shota.

Hizashi starts feeling a bit uncomfortable at one point, wondering if he’s taking advantage if the only reason that Shota would do something with a third party is because Hizashi wants him to. But Shota clarifies that it’s not that he doesn’t want it, because then he wouldn’t do it. It’s just that if Hizashi wants something that’s good enough for Shota to at least try, since by his own admission he ‘doesn’t know what the fuck he’s doing anyway’, which is certainly true. 

There’s a space for him between ‘want’ and ‘don’t want’ that’s best described as ‘don’t mind’, basically, which is not the same as not caring, they’ve finally hashed out. He just cares in a way that looks different, and that’s hard for people to understand from the outside. He cares if Hizashi wants to do something, and as long as Shota doesn’t not want it, then he’s open to whatever it is.

So he doesn’t want to have sex with women, but he also doesn’t really want to have sex with anyone except Hizashi, he explains pragmatically. There’s no one else he cares about the way he cares about Hizashi, so of course he doesn’t want anyone else that way. Therefore, it doesn’t matter what the other person’s gender is, since they’re not there for him, but as an extension of Hizashi, which makes it okay apparently. Also, as Shota points out, the main difference between Hizashi fucking someone else when Shota isn’t there and doing it when he’s right here is just a matter of geography.

It’ll make more sense at the time, Shota assures Hizashi, and it does, in the end. For all his efforts to pull, Hizashi gets chatted up one afternoon at a music store by a girl with five separate face piercings who only gets more interested when Hizashi says he’s got a boyfriend back home. Literally, since Shota finished a case a day or so ago and hasn’t managed to pick something else up yet – unlike Hizashi, who shows up with a bottle of whiskey and ‘new friend’ who’s ready to party.

“This is Suki,” Hizashi introduces a little awkwardly, though he’d been messaging Shota ahead of time just to see if he was still okay with this. Sure, Shota had underwhelmingly replied, as he likes to do, see you soon.

Shota gives the girl a thoughtful look for a moment, while Hizashi’s stomach is doing weird you-definitely-fucked-this-up-backflips.

But then Shota just says, “You want some weed?” Of course, his classic ice-breaker.

“Fuck yeah I’ll smoke some weed,” Suki, as she’s said to call her, boldly replies. She recognised Hizashi from the other side of the store and played it cool initially, but the second he was at the counter asked him to sign every one of his records that she'd already set aside, so he thinks he might be making her entire year with this one.

“You have weed?” Hizashi says like he’s surprised, which would be because he is.

“Yeah.” Shota looks up at him from the sofa, gaze narrow, seeming as home in his own skin as he ever has.

“And you haven’t smoked it yet?” Hizashi certainly can’t smell it, and Shota has been here for more than long enough to have cracked into anything he’s holding – or so Hizashi would’ve assumed.

Shota smirks at him. “Are you proud of me or something?”

“Yeah, I kinda am,” Hizashi scoffs, while their new ‘friend’ Suki is taking the plastic wrap off the top of the whiskey bottle. “You roll, though.” Shota still rolls the best joints, and Hizashi can’t take that away from him.

It’s a bit weird, the shift in dynamic, but it’s definitely less weird once they’re a few drinks in and smoking one of Shota’s get-fucked joints, huddled out on the balcony passing it back and forth as if they could forget what Suki is here for, why there’s a stranger in the middle of Hizashi and Shota’s otherwise perfectly balanced dynamic.

Suki, however, is determined not to fade into the background. “So how long have you two been together?” She’s definitely living the dream, Hizashi’s decided: meeting Present Mic just as she’s about to finish work, then getting taken home to said hero’s apartment to get wasted and fool around with the aforementioned and his enigmatic top-secret underground hero boyfriend. Not that she knows all of the last part, but Hizashi does, and that’s totally enough.

“Uh, I guess… like, two years now?” Hizashi’s not sure where all the time went, honestly, since it feels like it wasn’t that long ago he was freaking out about Shota’s near-miss with death and demanding to know if Shota found him attractive or not. They’ve got the answer to that one well and truly sorted.

Shota shrugs, accepting the joint from Suki and taking a lazy toke, and Hizashi has noticed her eyeing him up curiously. She’ll probably be disappointed when she finds out he’s off limits to her – though that might turn into relief when she sees the size of his cock, little thing that she is. It's not personal, though: Shota seems to like her as much as he would anyone he doesn't really know.

And Hizashi does know how to pick a good hookup, he just doesn’t always exercise that level of taste. But for Shota it needed to be right, so Hizashi was sure to pull the trigger on someone with a vibe he thinks Shota could get along with, which seems to be going alright so far.

Suki is not in the least bit intimidating and doesn’t even come up to either of their shoulders, her hair in four little bunches at each corner of her head and a face full of metal. Hizashi ought to get more piercings, he’s thinking as he watches them move with her expressions across the balcony.

“So you’re like…” she turns across from Shota to Hizashi, a sparkle in her eye that screams of fangirl wet dreams. “Gonna make out?”

Hizashi’s stunned when Shota’s classic stoned laugh beats his own to the punch, chuckling through a smokey exhale as he passes the joint over to Hizashi.

“Sure,” Hizashi lilts with a grin, glancing between Shota and Suki standing next to each other and thinks damn, some people really do get to have it all. “Why, you wanna watch?”

Suki’s got a lip piercing and tongue ring, and they make a sound when she drags one against the other, a little metallic clink.

“Do bears shit in the woods?” she answers greedily, and Shota sniggers again. Yeah, Hizashi thinks to himself as he takes one more toke and passes the joint back to her. He’s set this one up nicely.

Once they’ve finished smoking and gone back inside, Hizashi stays on his feet while Shota slumps back down onto the sofa, since the place Hizashi’s planning to sit is directly in Shota’s lap. Straddling it, in fact, after he downs the rest of his whiskey and coke and settles with his knees on either side of Shota’s lazily spread legs. Rather a familiar position for them, this.

“You wanted to watch, didn’t you?” Hizashi remarks across to Suki, who’s frozen with wide eyes and her mouth hanging open on the way to raising her glass to her mouth, like maybe she wasn’t expecting it this soon, even though Hizashi hates waiting around for just about anything. Shota, for the most part, seems comfortable, settling his hands over Hizashi’s thighs and looking up at him through sleepy, freshly-stoned eyes. As long as you're here, he'd said before, and Hizashi gets it now. 

Hizashi loves kissing Shota, this isn’t new information by any stretch of the word. But kissing him in front of someone is like experiencing it fresh and dip-coated in adrenaline. Shota’s not really into PDA, intensely private by nature, so the fact that he kisses back when Hizashi pours over him like lighter fluid on a bonfire unleashes a force Hizashi isn’t sure he can contain.

It gets heated, fast, tongues, teeth, all that stuff. Hizashi could almost change his mind about fucking anyone except Shota based on such a kiss, but that wouldn’t be fair on the girl.

When they break apart again, Shota’s hands still confidently gripping Hizashi’s thighs, thumbs dipping down to rest on his inner leg, it’s quiet for a moment before Suki chimes in, “Oh my god.”

Hizashi stares straight at Shota, initially tempted to voice just how fucking turned on he is right now, but imagines Shota can work that out for himself from the super-conspicuous boner Hizashi’s popped. Eventually he drags himself away from Shota’s gaze to look over at the stunned – and now, furiously blushing – girl who’s managed to finish her drink since Hizashi got in Shota’s lap several minutes ago.

“We should go over some ground rules,” Hizashi announces excitedly, and it might just be timing, but feels Shota breathing out against him. 

*