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In His Web

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Shouta would have liked to pretend that he didn’t know how he got there, half-smothered in Hizashi’s possessive embrace. But the sad truth, of which he was practically the sole possessor, fortunately for him, was that he knew every single circumstance. He really did. He had even triggered some of them.

Don’t get him wrong, Shouta Aizawa wasn’t sociable by nature and certainly not tactile. The fact that he was a gangly teenager whose main goal was to develop the agility of a feline and the colossal power of a dwarf titan didn’t change that fact. Yes, he had done everything he could to get into the heroic section of Japan’s most prized school, but he hadn’t done it to make friends. He had done it because it was out of the question that he would not become a hero under the bad pretext that his quirk was not flashy.

The spring festival had been the ideal gateway to realize himself and show others what he was capable of. He had trained hard for that. So, he’d gone from "silent, cynical stranger from the general curriculum" to "weirdly silent, cynical guy crashing a class of future heroes during the year". And he was fine with that. He’d made them swallow their pride. He’d put them in their place, as weak kids once deprived of their most main asset.

They had made as many enemies as there were students. At least, he had pleasantly thought so. He should have known that this kind of faith was completely deaf to prayers, especially when faced with someone who could drown out any plea by speaking louder than him. 

Shouta had always felt cursed. Having proof of this was not in his aspirations.

"Soooooooooo," insisted the ominous bird slamming a palm on his table.

Before now, Shouta had long ignored the fact that he hated people who stretched their vowels. This guy was teaching him his own limitations daily. In fact, he was beginning to think that his limit was just him, Hizashi Yamada. His exuberance, his blond hair styled loosely in a crest, his voice, his smiles, his strange water-green eyes, his looks, even his appearance. Really, Shouta was sure he was developing a form of dislike. The guy wore triangular glasses with tinted lenses.

Yellow tinted lenses.

Was this a way to get back at the spring festival? Was it after Shouta? Did he intend to make him live the hell of his bonhomie until the end of their schooling? Did he understand that Shouta needed sleep because he was literally an insomniac? Did he think that depriving him of a nap was a good way to kill him?

"Do you want to go out with Iida, Shirakumo and me after school?" Yamada asked, bringing his face so close that Shouta started to squint.

"No," he answered laconically, nonchalantly putting his things away.

Shouta felt the nerve near his right eye start to tingle badly. He’d been trying to ignore the guy for weeks. Weeks. Usually, people got tired of him without him having to make any effort. Simply by remaining natural. Nobody liked to be treated with indifference.

Shouta tried in vain to pretend he didn’t exist. It would have been quite possible if the guy hadn’t possessed a voice that was impossible to ignore. Let’s face it, Shouta had a gift for staying deaf to shit. He had developed it when he was still a toddler trying to contain the gallons of drool his mouth was producing without his consent. But he had recently discovered the pathological inability to ignore Hizashi Yamada.

Already his shoulder blades were contracting, and his hands were trying to curl into fists.

"This arcade is waiting for you," Yamada insisted with a pout. "Be a hero, Aizawa. For me?" 

This guy was a pain in the ass with the manipulative subtlety of an idiot incarnate. Shouta only gave him a vague, jaded look before hanging his bag on his shoulder.

"I’ll win you a keychain," the chatty teen tried as Shouta headed for the door. "The one with a stuffed cat!"

And maybe Shouta hesitated for a microsecond. Just long enough for his legs to take over the autopilot and drag him away from the one who absolutely should not have known he liked cats. How did he know that? Shouta didn’t talk to anyone.

"Just guessing, Aizawa," Yamada scoffed walking past him as if reading his inner questioning.

He stood in front of him and walked backwards, smiling. Exasperating. He stopped so quickly that he almost made them collide. Fortunately, Shouta had good reflexes.

"Or else," Yamada whispered, probably thinking he was doing it in a tone of confidence. "Maybe I saw your socks. Who knows?"

He winked at him in a ridiculously exaggerated way. His smile would have benefited from losing a tooth or two.

Shouta, exasperated, immediately pinched himself to the bridge of his nose. His socks. He had forgotten to do his laundry. They were the last ones he had left that morning. Living alone had some drawbacks, especially when it allowed your personal spike to learn more about you and list your weaknesses.

Proving that he didn’t only misfortunes in his poor existence, Iida grabbed the blond, gave Shouta an equally quick sign of apology and dragged the bird in his wake. Shouta liked the future hero with the built-in turbos a little bit, especially because he had a nice tendency to push Yamada away from him.

Of course, it didn’t end there. It didn’t stop at all. Come to think of it, that was when it all started.

The next morning, on the corner of his desk, was a key ring. A black kitten. Yamada’s attention to detail meant that he had added a gray felt capture weapon to it and eventually stuck a pair of yellow glasses on its forehead, just before its tiny ears.

Shouta felt his eyelid shudder over his half-dry eye. He grabbed the thing with the irrepressible urge to crush it in his palm. But once in his hand, it fit perfectly. Come to think of it, it wasn’t the keychain’s fault that the guy who had decided to customize it was unbearable. And if he forgot who gave it to him, it was kind of funny. Shouta wasn’t a fan of yellow, but even he could admit that with all that black, it looked pretty good.

And so Hizashi Yamada came into his life with the subtlety of a bulldozer driven by teacher Nedzu at his best.

One day after another, Yamada crept like a trained parasite, eroding all his beliefs, from the benefits of solitude to the saving power of silence. Shouta, who had always liked to stay in the shadows and cultivated this propensity to hide there when he would become an underground hero, soon found himself in broad daylight with none other than the sun himself. Not content to proclaim himself his friend, Yamada dragged Tensei and Oboro along, multiplying by nothing less than three his social relations, enough to disturb the holiest of teenagers. And Shouta had never been sane to begin with.  

"I’ve got some kittens outside; do you want to come and see them? I’ll keep them until I find a buyer. We could even take care of them together!"

Frankly, it was all pitifully predictable. The worst possible hook. Shouta himself despised catching it. But … kittens. He couldn’t refuse, even though the guy’s winning smile was giving him hives and he was starting to develop a persistent form of heart rate instability.

Almost every day, Yamada invented a new excuse to impose himself in his existence. It often started with his weak points like cats, lychee jelly packets or the promise of a supervised nap to keep him out of trouble with the teachers. He couldn’t pretend he wasn’t enjoying it, but he also knew that Yamada was winning one battle after another. Frankly, Shouta was too lazy to undertake a war. He didn’t even know where to start.

No one had ever managed to get so deep into his daily life in such a short time. Either the guy was good, or Shouta had developed a taste for his untimely heart leaps. His gagging rather. Yamada made him sick, that’s all.

One noon, Shouta’s a little bit glaucous good star finally decided to lend him one of its five branches. It was summer and he was sure that all this ambient brightness was going to screw up his retinas. He was getting ready to join his classmates when Yamada stopped in front of his desk. Shouta would have liked to say that he could hear perfectly what he was saying, but for the past few days he had been watching his lips move. The rest of his words were just a strange melody that he had got used to before he realized it. Nothing to do with the fact that he found him cute or that his presence was surprisingly appreciated. At all.

Then she was just there, small and black. You didn’t have to get any closer to notice that she had eight legs, and that each one was on the pretty pale skin of the rare bird with graceful lips. Uh, expressive. With expressive lips.

"You have a spider on your cheek," he said without a mood as he finished putting his things away.

The silence was so deafening that Shouta could not ignore it. To manage to silence the only person he knew who spoke even when he was asleep (he had unmentionable evidence with some kittens and the incriminated in his phone), it was disturbing, even for a future hero.

   He straightened up and fell on the pallid face of Yamada. His big green eyes were too wide for his face. No more smile or joy. No more pleasure or hope. His soul seemed to want to leave his body through his half-opened mouth in a sick stupor. Shouta wondered if his silence was so habitual that hearing him speak enough to give him a cerebral stroke.

"A-a spider," tried the poor devil with a voice agonizing in the highs.

Or maybe Hizashi Yamada had a visceral fear of insects.

Shouta was not a bad person. He really wasn’t. He wanted to be a hero, to help people, to save lives. He was not a bad person. But he wasn’t a nice person either. For example, he wouldn’t hurt a spider, even if it was in the face of someone close to fainting. Which perhaps made him a horrible person. But all life was important. So, he remained stoic in front of a suffocating Yamada and sincerely asked himself what he was supposed to do.

And perhaps, perhaps, he himself began to feel a slight form of apprehension at seeing the other in this state. He looked left and right, but no one seemed to have a panel telling him what to do. Seeing Yamada staggering was not reassuring. It was only when he fell to the ground, as stiff as a post, that Shouta finally reacted and saved him from being totally shattered, sacrificing one of his knees in the process. His kindness would lose him.

He knew about hysterical attacks due to phobias of all kinds. But the guy had just collapsed without a single scream. As he was not the last of the morons (he rather liked to think he was in the first), he swept the spider away before patting the boy’s fresh cheek.

Yamada eventually woke up. His brain seemed to catch the situation rather quickly, him in the arms of a charming Shouta, and just like that, he got up. In Shouta’s opinion, some slaps to the ego were not good to take. He would have appreciated more recognition for his act of chivalry. A kiss, a pat on the head, something.

Still distraught, Yamada looked for the serial killer who had mistaken him for a cab before looking at Shouta, the floor, Shouta again, the walls, the tables, the tile joints, the windows, the chairs, the walls, the cracks in the wall even though there was none, Shouta again, and he ran away.

It had been over a month since Shouta had eaten alone. So, he finally gave up the idea and simply sat down before putting his head between his arms crossed on the desk and falling asleep.

After that, Yamada avoided him when he wasn’t running away from him. It was confusing. Almost too relaxing. Well, okay, it was awful. The guy with the sunny smile was supposed to be one of the few not to fear him and wasn’t bothered by his natural apathy. Plus, it also meant that he couldn’t go to visit the kittens anymore and some would be adopted before he could doze off one last time in their company. He absolutely had to fix things.

So, he spent his evening inquiring about the subject. Simple curiosity and possibly the need to kill time by filling his insomnia.

After all, Yamada was not so bad. He was always there, offering him smiles as if he deserved them, trinkets, sweets, even half a bento because Shouta pretended not to think about it rather than admitting that he couldn’t afford it. So, it was only natural that he inquired about how to help him to overcome what could become a handicap, especially for a hero. He did some research and mentally drew up a plan.

That’s how the mission "desensitizing a blushing, runaway moron who has no right to abandon me after trashing my life", began. The idea was simple; allow Yamada to overcome his phobia so that he would have an excuse to hang out with him. Which was selfish, but not quite.

He slept little, but well.

"He’s ashamed," Oboro said the next day, before sitting down in his seat as if nothing had happened.

Shouta tried to ignore that Yamada was ignoring him.

"Are you eating with us at lunch?" Tensei asked after the class.

Shouta frowned before realizing that this simple gesture required an unnecessary amount of energy. He immediately returned to his default impassive face.

"Yamada..."

"He’s been bothering us with you since yesterday whining like a toddler," the turbo-thruster mocked clearly. "Just, if you don’t do it for yourself, at least do it for us, man."

Tensei didn’t look so good as a future hero. What had made him think he was cool?

"He says it’s a shame to get sick from a spider," Oboro added with a petty laugh.

"He’s not wrong," Iida retorted shamelessly.

That was precisely one of the reasons why Shouta was not sociable. The more you knew about someone, the more likely you were to discover what an asshole they really were. Hypocritical? Maybe.

"He’s a phobia of insects," he grumbled, giving him his coldest look. "It’s not something you can control."

"He’s a sissy," Oboro added with an overly amused smirk.

Were they testing its limits? Did they want to make sure that Yamada was important enough to him that he wanted to turn them into a panda with his fists? Shouta was sure he didn’t like having them make fun of him friend.

"Phobia is an irrational fear. You can’t talk about it like it’s so easily overcome."

"Oh, come on, Aizawa. The guy dreams of being a hero and he falls at the first bug."

His fists tightened.

"It’s an emotional vulnerability he has no control over," he insisted, hating his sudden urge to smother them with his capture weapon.

"I thought you’d never want to talk to me again!"

Shouta’s eyes widened slightly but he didn’t dare move. Seeing the other two smiles, satisfied, immediately exhausted him, and all tension left his body. With loose arms, he let himself be embraced without holding back a defeated sigh.

"They are so mean to meeeeee," Yamada continued, tightening his grip. "You can hit them if you want."

"Yeah, hit us to defend his honor," Tensei laughed as he walked away to the cafeteria.

It was on this day that Shouta realized something quite unusual. There, between the naked arms of the guy with the loud voice and exasperating exuberance, he understood that he really appreciated his hugs.

Did you really think that Shouta had become a good person under the childish and outdated pretext that he had realized Yamada’s importance to him? Well, not at all. Nothing had changed fundamentally. He hadn’t miraculously turned into a nice, altruistic person with a sick propensity for self-sacrifice. He still believed that critters deserved their chance, that some people could live with their deepest fears as long as they were not mortal, and that being opportunistic did not prevent anyone from possessing deeply heroic convictions.

The beginnings of his sadism slowly unfolded before his eyes irritated by the ambient air.

Yes, the day before he had looked for ways to help him. But now, with the guy wrapped around him like a possessive octopus and his own heart racing, jerking against Yamada’s chest in the hope of being invited in, he understood how to be indispensable to him.

The first phase of the therapy was to confront Yamada with his fear, but through his imagination. This way, Shouta could reassure him. Normally, relaxation was the key because relaxation was the opposite of anxiety. According to the internet, no one could do both at the same time.

Shouta thought to himself that he could ignore certain steps. He could become the object of relaxation. Then he wouldn’t have to learn meditation techniques and as a bonus Yamada would need him and therefore couldn’t abandon him at the first antenna that came along.

A cruel smile slowly appears on his lips, and he even finds the strength to raise his arm to pat his future best friend’s back and more if affinity.

All week, Zashi stuck to him like a second skin. Shouta had told him his idea of improvised therapy, which Yamada had naturally accepted. Since then, they spent about half an hour a day at his place, in his bed invaded by kittens, to perfect the scenes that Shouta imagined for him.

"She’s getting closer," he said in a low, steady voice. "She has a lot of legs and a horrible little head."

"Humpf …," his friend almost silently whimpered.

"You have the impression that it sees you thanks to its many black and deformed eyes…"

"Shoutaaaaaa …," Yamada whimpered unconsciously drawing a vile smile from his torturer.

"But I’m here and I’ll stop him from coming to you," he promised calmly, clasping Yamada’s hand in his own. 

He immediately felt the tension in Hizashi’s shoulders dissipate. Perfect.

"I would never let a bug hurt you."

"Okay," the other nodded in a somewhat disembodied voice.

"I’ll push it away gently and you’ll have nothing more to worry about."

"Nothing more to fear," Zashi repeated, intertwining their fingers.

Shouta held his breath for a moment and accepted the pleasantly unsettling gesture.

"Soon we’ll be able to confront you with reality," he breathed, licking his suddenly dry lips.

"I’m not sure…"

"I’d stay with you. I will not let you," he assured, clasping their hands together to illustrate his point.

Which they began less than two weeks later. This accelerated psychological treatment may not have been ideal. At the same time, Shouta was not a therapist.

He had never paid so much attention to bugs in his life. He had developed an insect radar and perhaps took some pleasure in sharing his findings with his troublemaker. If Tensei and Oboro understood his Machiavellian ruse, neither of them even tried to dissuade him. This made them the worst friends earth has ever borne, and made Shouta a terrible, insensitive, selfish person, eventually destined for the fires of hell. He had always preferred the underworld to the expanse of the sky.

"Are you sure about this?" Hizashi asked the next Friday, clearly skeptical about his proposal to camp deep in the forest full of all kinds of bugs.

Maybe Shouta hadn’t been subtle enough on this one.

"You want to be a hero, don’t you?" he asked laconically, stroking the little cat that lay against his neck.

They were in the room of the rare bird. It had become normal. Them here, alone, Shouta slumped on his bed and Hizashi on the floor leaning too close to him. 

"Shouta, I don’t think this is a good idea," whimpered his victim, turning pale.

Shouta felt his heart stumble at the sound of his name between his lips which were far too tender for his sanity. They had agreed to lose all propriety. Which was fine. But he feelings were being abused, hungry for more. Like tasting he names coming out of that beautiful mouth. 

"This is just the next logical step in desensitization therapy," he repeated for what seemed like the tenth time. "After imagination, you have to face reality."

He wasn’t sure why he was so insistent. Nor if he still believed it, but that was not the question.

"Shoutaaaaaaaaaaaaa," Hizashi begged ridiculously as he hid behind the tiny body of one of the kittens, taking the opportunity to cover it with kisses.

Shouta had always wanted to be a cat. He stared at the scene without blinking, his heart in his throat.

Was his slightly creepy good star laughing at him? Was it a way to make him understand that he was becoming a villain by wanting to take advantage of a friend’s weakness to make it his own?

"They will devour me," moaned the magnificent idiot.

"I’ll protect you," he promised, holding back from rolling his eyes.

Fortunately, the metaphorical sand accumulating behind his eyelids made it too difficult to turn his eyes. That way he wouldn’t risk showing how much his own retort depressed him.

"You could just stay there this weekend, Shouuuu," Hizashi tried with far too much hope and stars for one look. 

Frankly, Shouta was tempted to say yes. Here, with him, on a futon, for a whole night, with no bugs, no wind, no chance of rain? Almost ideal. But the therapy excuse would fall by the wayside and Zashi’s future addiction would be set back in a few days. Maybe a few months if he began to understand that Shouta was ready to give in to all his whims if he continued to display this sulky pout. And a futon next to Yamada’s bed was not really his idea of a perfect night. A sleeping bag for two was closer, but he wasn’t going to push his luck either. If he ever had one.

Among other things, Shouta really wanted Yamada to need him a lot. Not just a hobby he would get tired of. Because let’s be honest, Shouta had about as much chance of not tiring the guy out as finding a million yen hidden under his own mattress. He was not an endearing person.

He was naturally cynical, so much so that his own parents had not fought to win his custody. He had no significant interests outside of heroism and his inordinate love of cats. He took care of himself when he thought about it, which was basically never. He lived alone and managed to sleep only intermittently.

In other words, he was as attractive as a bug for someone who had a phobia of it.

So, ti the choice, he preferred to become a hero that Hizashi would need whenever a mischievous little beast tried to impress him with its many legs, without noticing that Shouta was probably like the insects that scared him.

"It can wait," he admitted grudgingly. "It’s important that the urge to heal comes from you. If I push you too hard, it will certainly get worse."

He immediately buried his nose in the fluffy fur of the kitten to take refuge somewhere. He loved the smell of felines. It was especially comforting. He closed his eyelids and enjoyed the tiny purrs of his little hostage.

Thinking about it, it was a bit absurd to want to chain Yamada. It was pretentious to think he could do it. When he decided to open his eyes, it was to fall into a sparkling and strangely misty look. His eyebrow twitched briefly and Hizashi blushed, stammering nonsense. Too preoccupied with the defective beating of his own heart, Shouta did not try to translate it.

"Tomorrow, then?" Hizashi murmured.

Shouta nodded, suddenly as lost as his breath. He didn’t know what he was agreeing to, only that he couldn’t refuse that face anything. He wanted to keep Hizashi by his side. At worst, his morals had never been smooth imperfections. A few snags on the edges of his gray soul would make the final piece more artistic, right?

Their camping trip was a disaster. Shouta buried his eardrums no less than nine times. He wasn’t even sure if he could still hear birdsong or if his tinnitus had become melodious to make him accept his newfound deafness. He had tried to deactivate Hizashi’s alter, but not blinking for a whole day would only be possible when he was dead, so he hoped he wouldn’t be able to do that anytime soon.

So, there they were, lying on their backs in the tent, Shouta thinking about the meaning of his life and all the bad decisions he had made since the tender age of three.

"Shoutaaaaaa," Hizashi whimpered as he hugged himself.

Camping was still a great idea. The whole day wasn’t one, but the narrow tent wasn’t so bad. Plus, Shouta realized he wasn’t deaf, which was two good things. Maybe his evening wasn’t totally wasted.

"Shoutaaaaaaaaaaaa," insisted his adorable pain in the ass.

"No, Zashi, we won’t turn on the light," Shouta refused, understanding what was behind his leech’s complaint.

He held back the apparently old-fashioned urge to pinch the bridge of his nose to illustrate his irritation.

"But…"

It seemed Yamada didn’t particularly like the dark. Three good things. Definitely, when his luck was changing, she didn’t do half measures.

"Zashi, if we turn it on, we’ll attract all the bugs," he sighed, secretly satisfied to feel the other one snuggling up more.

At this rate, in less than two minutes, he would be on him. The therapy of desensitization was an abysmal failure. On the other hand, the contraction of Shouta’s imagined substitution derivative of Stockholm Syndrome was surprisingly effective.

"I can hear them, Shou," Yamada moaned, perhaps closer to falling into a faint than into his arms.

Shouta straightened up into a sitting position, hardly surprised to feel the spike follow suit.

"You have to think of something soothing, Hizashi," he thought sincerely. "If you focus on something else, your anxiety will dissipate."

Of course, he said this without having the beginning of a concrete idea to propose. But it was always more reassuring for a frightened person to be in front of someone who pretended to know what he was talking about. Shouta’s apparent lack of emotional reactions could be an asset. On exceedingly rare occasions. Like now.

"Okay," Hizashi agreed automatically, nodding briskly.

They were literally next to each other. The tent was small. Shouta was strong, but he had his limits, and they were called Hizashi Yamada.

"Wait, Za, move over a little," he breathed weakly as he vaguely tried to loosen his friend’s grip. "I’m not going to make it if you stick to me like that. Move over. Zashi? Come on, I’ll try to talk to you about something else. Hizashi… No … you’re closer now. I think I’m choking… Za-shi…" 

His heart was racing, his stomach was aching, and his chest was panicking. If he didn’t get out of this embrace, he might do something stupid. At least that’s what he thought. Then Hizashi grabbed the back of his neck and climbed onto his thighs to wrap herself around him and breathe near his ear. After that he forgot how his own brain worked and what the word think meant.

It was… It wasn’t meant to be like this. It wasn’t supposed to be like this at all.

"What are you doing?" he breathed, petrified, realizing that his body was really enjoying their new position.

"I’m thinking about something else?" Zashi offered in a hoarse breath.

"Zashi?"

He mouths resting on his jugular was a little too much for the last cell in his brain.

"Shouta," Zashi sighed, stepping back enough to join their foreheads together.

A faint, distant alarm sounded in Shouta’s lychee jelly brain. Something tried to impose itself on his consciousness, like a puzzle whose mystery he had just solved in spite of himself. And this puzzle wasn’t his, but the guy who was doing his best to liquefy his gray matter.

"Is that...?" he began, a hint of suspicion managing to poke a needle hole through the fog of his mind. 

Yamada’s eyes widened slightly, and he briskly put his mouth on the corner of hers, as if to chase away his lucidity.

"Wait, Zashi."

But another hasty kiss captured his half-open lips. Shouta felt his last synapse kick in before he died.

One second, he was holding his breath, the next he was sucking in Zashi’s. His arms wrapped around him, one of his hands coming up to grab his neck. The sensation was overwhelming. His grunt was completely drowned out by Yamada’s groan. Hizashi pushed him back on his back to dominate him completely, tasting his tongue and gripping his hair hard.

"Za-shi," he tried without the slightest idea of what he was going to say.

It was good. Terribly good. Choking, burning. Asphyxiation he wanted to enjoy. It was sloppy, messy, wet, and loud, but so good. His first kiss. Shouta was both terrified and elated, overexcited and on general alert. It was strangely exhausting, all that adrenaline in him veins. When Yamada stepped back, Shouta trapped him, irrational and panicked.

"Don’t stop … don’t stop."

And it sounded like what it was, a plea. 

Smiling, looking predatory, Hizashi obeyed. He kissed him more deeply, breathlessly between his lips before nibbling them. Shouta heard himself let out a deplorable sound. He did not know anything anymore apart from the pleasure which hastened to assault him.

He did not sleep all night.

He didn’t even know he was capable of staying that long in that indecisive place between "falling asleep" and "understanding vampires". Hizashi was snoozing happily, buried in their sleeping bag. It was too hot and Shouta was sure to have discovered some parts of his body until then unknown thanks to the itches due to their mixed sweats. 

On his back, looking at the raincoat of their improvised room, he was thinking. Or at least, he was letting his brain go around in circles like a poor fish in an aquarium. He had thought he was in control of the situation. He really did. Yet, in the light of this dawn that was slow to wake up his apparently smarter-than-hell hot water bottle, he was sure he could see all the threads of Zashi’s web wrapped around him.

He could see that damn cockatoo again, all smiles, trying to lure him for weeks. He’d given him a keychain with a clearly self-centered touch of yellow, like a mini grappling hook in the shape of glasses. He had rescued orphaned kittens. He had invited him to his house every evening and weekend under any pretext. He had never let go, not for a second. Shouta had always had both feet in the extensible trap of the one he thought unjustly was his prey. Not content with getting close enough to Shouta, Hizashi had become phobic overnight, causing Shouta to come up with an absurd plan to gain his favor by playing the hero.

Shouta didn’t even know that he could show such a degree of naivety.

It was pathetic. He had wanted to trap Hizashi in a remix of Stockholm syndrome, but it was he who had been trapped in a syndrome as old as time, love.

Because in all that intoxication they had experienced together, in all that madness born of the raw desire for his skin, he had understood too many things. Like the unspeakable pleasure he took in just breathing in him scent deeply. How much he loved sliding his hands over him, through his hair. How much he liked everything about him, from his overpowering voice to his almost sickly playful sociability. From his ridiculous and exaggerated pouts to his lamentable performances as an outdated radio presenter.

 Hizashi was snoring, mouth open, drooling half on his numb shoulder. His hair was a mess of tangled strands from his own care. Of course, he didn’t look haunted by any form of guilt. On the contrary, he was quite relaxed. Shouta turned away to stare at the ceiling of their tent again. Eyes wide open, he was sure he had never blinked so little in his life. 

What was he supposed to do? Let this praying mantis disguised as a teenager, win his stunted heart?

"What’s the matter with you?" gibbered Zashi, shirtless against his bare chest.

Shouta’s heart was not meant to beat that fast.

"Um …," he blurted out, because his vocabulary was lost somewhere between his third rib and his ninth vertebra from the right. 

"Is something wrong?" worried softly his duplicitous friend.

Shouta merely turned his head to give him his most irritated look (literally and figuratively). Hizashi had the decency to show his understanding and embarrassment in a single grimace.

"Was this your plan all along?" he asked, squinting his eyelids.

"Come on, Shouta…"

"Yes, or no?"

"Not quite, I mean, I could have done without that trip to the forest, but…"

"So, you really set this up just to…"

"To embrace you?" Hizashi offered, arching one of his ridiculously cute eyebrows.

Shouta had to move before he lost his sense. He straightened up to escape the skin and the body and the look and the smell… In short, to escape Hizashi Yamada as a whole. 

"Come on, don’t react like that, Shouuuuu," complained the infamous troublemaker while letting himself fall on his back in a theatrical sigh.

This last one didn’t answer anything and put on his tee-shirt especially because in the light of the day, he was certainly much less attractive than in the darkness.

"You don’t have the right to be mad at me anymore now that we are…"

"We’re what?" grunted Shouta, trying to hide the dizziness that overtook him as he realized what Zashi was implying.

"We’ve been, you know, kissing and stuff," Hizashi groaned, already pleading, as he sat down.

"And?" he pretended not to understand.

At this point, any form of revenge was fair game, even the most childish and cruel.

"We’re … you know … together?"

His usually thunderous voice clearly lacked poise. Shouta would have liked to be unaffected by it. He just stared at the bird of ill omen, watching him lose all his confidence.

"Please, Shouta …," he murmured as he reached for his hand, wincing at the rejection that followed. "That’s low, Shou … you wanted it too. You invented all this therapy…"

Could we die of shame?

"I looked it up on the internet," he gibbered, looking away.

Zashi’s muffled chuckle didn’t send his heart racing at all. Not at all. 

"I doubt that on the internet they advise telling the patient that you’re their savior."

"Fuck you…"

Hizashi laughed again, more clearly this time, before grabbing Shouta’s wrist and pulling him to him. Shouta was supposed to be sulking, so he clung to his role, no matter how much his debilitated heart protested.

"Are you even afraid of bugs?" he grunted grudgingly.

"Not so much. I mean, come on, it was kind of obvious, right? True phobic can smell the bugs from afar. It’s physical, it horrifies them."

"One day you’ll be covered with bugs from head to toe and I won’t come to save you, Zashi," he promised in a prophetic voice that drew a nervous laugh from his surely-boyfriend.

Before he could say anything else, two lips touched his. He responded to their pressure without thinking, and when Zashi stepped back, he inhaled deeply, letting any semblance of anger fade away enough to admire the shy smile that came softly across his mouth.

"Better?" asked the cheeky one with the ridiculously disheveled blond hair.

"No," Shouta lied, pulling him closer to prevent him from considering moving away.

The snicker of his jerk of a boyfriend vibrated on his lips and he pinched them as punishment. 

There was something about being in love. The guy still annoyed him and Shouta frankly thought he would benefit from getting rid of his tinted glasses, but inside, deep inside, there, hidden under a few layers of cynicism, flippancy, and all the spite that he inspired, Shouta cared a lot about Hizashi and his thunderous voice. More than his own life.

 

A Few Years Later

 

"And what? What do I do?" Katsuki shouted, annoyed by his English teacher who tapped his index finger on his forehead repeatedly and exasperatingly.

Shouta, hidden from their sight, shook his head slightly at the lamentable spectacle of their exchange.

"Didn’t you listen?" laughed Hizashi, dangerously testing the limits of the time bomb.

"I’m not going to play sissy with Deku and have that jerk develop some hero shitty complex on me!" the student spat as Shouta tried not to let himself be buried under his own spite.

"It worked for me!" reminded Hizashi with his erect blond hoopoe.

"Aizawa doesn’t have a damn hero syndrome!"

"Sadism does not prevent this syndrome… I think?"

"I refuse to demean myself so much to get his attention!"

"I thought you were ready for anything."

"Not to become a fucking sissy!"

Shouta chose this moment to enter the room. He put his keys and the patched kitten he’d been carrying around since he was fifteen on the desk and eventually slapped his husband on the back of the head.

"Aïeeee, Shoutaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!"

"You only have to look for what he is afraid of," he said in a laconic tone without even looking at Bakugou.

"What he is afraid of …," thought seriously the explosive while calming down slightly.

"And you become his savior…"

"How did you even manage to be allowed to become a bloody teacher?" asked the stunned teenager, staring at them in turn.

"Nedzu needed help," admitted Hizashi with a shrug.

"I wanted young embryonic heroes like you to learn from my experience," Shouta replied as he sat down at his computer. "Now get out of here and go to think about the meaning of your life and all the bad decisions that led you to ask advice to a man who has more gel in his hair than fashion sense."

"Shouuutaaaaaaaaaaaaaa, you are so meaaaaaaaaaaan!"

This last one was content to offer him his most sadistic smile.