Shouta doesn’t slam the door. His boots get lined up neatly against the wall before he deposits his keys in the little ceramic kitty dish by the entryway. There’s nothing in his arrival that should make Hizashi assume he’s had a bad day.
But there’s a storm looming over him. And not just the passing dark cloud that blocks the sun before continuing on its way sort of storm. No, his countenance is all dark, churning waters and cold, blustery winds - a storm at sea battering at a ship until all that’s left is a broken man clinging onto a piece of wood and praying for relief. The scowl he wears is even darker than the rings under his eyes, which have only grown with each ‘bad day’ that passes.
Hizashi has greeted him with that exact question almost every night this month.
“What do you think?” He trudges into the kitchen for water. It’s late, and frankly, he’s exhausted, but his brain is still wired, high strung and anxious in a way that foreshadows another restless night.
“I think you need a break. Better yet, a good night’s sleep,” Hizashi says, closing his laptop.
Shouta chugs his water and sets the glass down on the counter. He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand. “Can’t. There’s too much to be done.”
“Surely it can wait.”
“I’ve already put off giving the students their tests back by a week. I can’t expect them to properly prepare for their mid-term if I don’t give them their grades.”
Hizashi stands, and for a moment Shouta tenses, wondering if he’s going to come over and try to hug Shouta. Shouta doesn’t dislike the touch; hell, he often craves the affection more often than not, but when he’s in a mood like this, he can never decide whether he wants to be held or not. Luckily, Hizashi has always known what he needs even when Shouta doesn’t, so he hangs back, tidying up his things in the living room while Shouta hunches over the kitchen sink.
“I’ll help you,” Hizashi says lightly. He gives Shouta a respectable berth while he places his mug in the sink. He smiles at him. “I have plenty of practice reading your kids’ handwriting.”
“Okay. Then I’ll finish catching up on paperwork for Tsukauchi while you do that.”
Hizashi leans back against the counter, folding his arms over his chest. “...Or you could catch up on some sleep.”
“I don’t have time to sleep!” Shouta explodes, knowing even as he says it that it won’t be enough for his husband. “I’ve been keeping busy for weeks and I’m still behind. If I waste time, then things will only pile up and get worse.”
"Okay, fair, life has tripped you up a few times lately-"
"No, Hizashi," he interrupts. "One day is a stumble. A month is throwing me off a cliff. It flung me off and now I'm on a path towards rock fucking bottom if I don't get a grip already."
It’s so silent after his outburst that for a moment Shouta fears he might have gone overboard. It isn’t the first or even the worst time he’s lost his temper when he’s in a bad mood, but maybe this time is the one that will make Hizashi think it isn’t worth-
“Lay down with me."
"Lay down with me," Hizashi repeats, already on the move. He returns to the living room where he settles on his back right there on the floor of all places. His hair spills out around his head, creating a halo of golden frizz.
While normally the moon borrows its light from the sun, right now the wan moonbeams that slip in through the window illuminate Hizashi, returning radiance to the body to which it naturally belongs. Hizashi beckons, and this time Shouta can't refuse him. He lays down on his back, hands folded over his stomach while he stares blankly up at the ceiling.
“What’s the point of this?” he asks, frustration making his tone biting. Hizashi takes it in stride though, simply reaching for one of Shouta’s hands and squeezing until Shouta turns to look at him.
“Maybe it’s stupid, but you said you’ve been falling, right? So I figured hey, if we lie down on the floor, you can’t fall any further than that.”
Shouta shuts his eyes. His throat feels tight. “I… don’t know what to do.”
Hizashi’s voice is soft, softer than anyone might reasonably expect from the Voice Hero; softer, really, than Shouta deserves.
“For now? You just gotta breathe with me, baby.”
Shouta wants to argue that he’s already breathing, he’s always breathing, but instead he just presses his lips together and inhales deeply. It isn’t at all soothing, at least not at first. The cadence of his breaths is unnatural, chest rising and falling with the same rapidity of his racing thoughts. He grits his teeth.
“Shou. I can hear you thinking from here.”
Letting out a huff of frustration, Shouta places his hands flat on the floor. Maybe if he’s as flat as he can possibly be, he can sink into the ground entirely, away from the storm of responsibilities blustering overhead.
Next to him, Hizashi’s breaths are purposefully even, steady and reliable as a metronome. For a while, Shouta just listens. In, out. In, out. In, out. Somewhere along the way his own body gets the message and follows suit: in and out... in and out.
There’s a rustle to his left, the sound of fabric sliding across the carpet. A moment later something warm touches Shouta’s hand.
“How are you holding up?” Hizashi asks as he links their pinky fingers together. A few minutes sooner and the touch might have been distracting, but as always, Hizashi knows exactly what Shouta needs right when he needs it; the touch grounds him, brings his spirit back down from the tempest safely onto earth.
“...Better, I think,” he answers. His voice is a little hoarse, and he wonders exactly how long its been. Shouta dismisses the thought as soon as it comes. He doesn’t want to think about time right now.
Hizashi lets out a soft hum. “Not falling anymore?”
Shouta’s lets out a puff of air. “No,” he admits after a moment’s thought. “No, I don’t think so. Feels like… like I’ve landed, but it didn’t hurt at all.”
They turn to face each other. Head clearer, Shouta can see the signs of exhaustion on Hizashi’s face. He must have stayed up late waiting for Shouta to get home, and now here he is, lying on the floor with Shouta at an ungodly hour just because he knows it’s exactly what Shouta needs right now.
Despite how tired he is, the smile Hizashi gives him is patient and warm. “Ready to get back up then?”
Is he? Shouta might have landed but his limbs still feel shaky. He isn’t quite ready to climb. “...In a little bit.”
Hizashi’s answer is immediate. “Okay. Take all the time you need.”
Shouta covers Hizashi’s hand with his own, letting their fingers slot into place before giving a thankful squeeze. He’ll have to make it up to him sometime - maybe with breakfast in bed. Hell, maybe he’ll even carry Hizashi to bed when he musters up the will to move again, hold him so close that dawn will have to spend a few hours untangling them before they can even think about food.
“Oh, and Shouta?”
He blinks, distracted out of his musings. “Yeah?”
“When you are finally ready to stand,” Hizashi begins, turning his hand so his palm is facing up. He grips Shouta’s hand tightly - both the anchor to his ship and the sun-warmed earth beneath his feet. “I’ll be right there with you, honey.”