Tokoyami took pride in the fact that he was everything people assumed he was but also nothing like it at all. Surrounded by a shroud of mystery, of darkness and rolling fog, he was reserved, quiet - cryptic, even. Years of carefully choosing his words allowed him to speak as if he had come directly from one of the gothic tomes given to him by his mother. Dressed in black from head to toe, he was everything his peers had come to expect him to be. But at the same time, he was nothing like it at all. There was so much more to him that his classmates did not know about. Hidden underneath his love of the occult and all things macabre, there was his love of the light.
Ever since he was a child, both before and after Dark Shadow appeared to him, he had been fascinated by the beauty he saw in brightness. There was beauty in the way the sun shone through his mother’s stained glass windows, painting the walls in a mosaic of sparkling reds, yellows, and blues. He saw the beauty in the neon green stars stuck haphazardly to the ceiling above his bed, in the way his nightlight would catch the buttons on his dad's coat - soft blue and dazzling.
As he grew older and more sure of himself, Dark Shadow became more and more restless in the dark. His forever companion’s unease and inability to control themselves in the absence of the light only furthered his love for all things bright. Being surrounded in brightness was one of the few times that he could be sure he and his companions were safe.
It was not something he necessarily disclosed to his peers, his love of light. It was not that he cared if they knew. They may think him odd, to be as cryptic as he was and still be dazzled by things that sparkled, but he paid that no mind. If something was beautiful, who was he not to look? Why should he not enjoy the beauty around him?
And his love of all things that sparkled and shone was exactly what had landed him in this current predicament.
“Quiet, Dark Shadow,” he said, petting his companion’s beak softly. “We have to get rid of some of these things. I do not have room for them.”
“But Fumi, we found all these together, I don’t wanna get rid of them! I like them,” Dark Shadow cried, scooping up several of the small, shiny items and holding them close to their chest. Tokoyami could see through the shadows that made up their hands that they were holding three brightly colored paper clips, a large rhinestone, and a marble. There were even more small items in the pile at his feet. He felt a bit silly, but he could not help but agree with Dark Shadow. He did not want to get rid of them either.
It was one of the things they always did together. Their relationship could be tumultuous at times given Dark Shadow’s predisposition to feral behavior when subjected to extreme darkness. It had started when they were smaller, sometime in middle school. There was a power outage during a particularly bad storm that had Dark Shadow panicking, flying wildly around Tokoyami’s room, and destroying everything in their path. The only thing that Tokoyami had been able to do was to wait and watch as his closest friend succumbed to a type of madness he knew he could never fully understand.
The next day had been difficult. His mother had threatened to send him back to quirk counseling if he did not find some way to reconcile with Dark Shadow. So off they went, walking through the woods behind their house. It was quiet. Dark Shadow had obviously felt too guilty to speak and Tokoyami had no idea what to say. As it turned out, they needed no words. All they needed was a shared exclamation as Dark Shadow spotted a small, smooth stone on the creek bed they were walking along. It shone a deep purple as it was hit by the soft light that peeked through the canopy of trees above them. That simple stone had been enough for them to begin mending their strained relationship. When either of them became angry at the other, a walk to find something they both found beautiful was always their first step towards reconciliation.
The only issue with it was that they were always going to have issues. Two entities, one human and one intangible and prone to madness, was a breeding ground for disagreements. So, as they grew together, so did their collection of tiny treasures. At this point, the small hoard was becoming too big to simply keep stacked along the top of his dresser. Tokoyami often found himself stepping on things that had fallen from their place on his furniture - anything from marbles, old coins, and even little bits of trash that Dark Shadow had refused to leave behind.
“Perhaps we can ask Aizawa-sensei to allow us to go off campus this weekend. If we get something to hold these, it would be a bit better to manage them,” he said. He refused to smile at Dark Shadow’s gleeful chirp, choosing instead to gather up all of the small things cluttering his floor. He figured he could allow them to take up space on his shelf for now and ask Aizawa about the trip off campus when they both went to class in the morning.
He and Dark Shadow both had a handful of small, sparkly items when there was a soft knock at his door. He looked at Dark Shadow, who warbled curiously in response and padded over to the door. He did not normally have many visitors, so a knock at his door was a rare thing.
He opened his door slightly, just enough to see who had come to see him. To his surprise, he was greeted by the bright, sparkling smile of Aoyama Yuuga, the one person he never expected to show up to his living space. The boy exuded radiance. Tokoyami could not help but wonder why someone as bright as he would ever come near his living space.
“Hello, Aoyama,” he said, bowing his head slightly. “How can I help you?”
“Bonjour, Tokoyami! Sorry to bother you so late on this beautiful evening, but I was hoping I could borrow a bit of the peppermint tea you have in the kitchen? I’m afraid I may have overdone it with my quirk today, so I am hoping that the tea will help settle my stomach,” Aoyama said.
Looking at him, Tokoyami suspected that no one would realize Aoyama was hurting. He was as buoyant as ever, wearing a white blouse that was almost hard to look at due to how bright it was. Looking closer, he was not surprised to see that the blouse was made of a sort of shimmery fabric. It reminded Tokoyami of the way the stars would shine overhead on the few clearer nights they experienced in Musutafu.
“Of course, use as much as you need,” Tokoyami agreed. Aoyama smiled at him, somehow an even brighter smile than Tokoyami had ever seen him use before.
“Merci beaucoup, it is much appreciated,” Aoyama thanked him. With a bow of his head, he turned to head back towards the stairs. Tokoyami watched him go, fascinated by the way his golden hair seemed to shimmer underneath the lights.
He stared down at his hand, still clenched around a fistful of his and Dark Shadow’s small treasures. Without thinking, he ran out of his room and after Aoyama.
“Wait, Aoyama,” he called, stopping his classmate before he could fully enter the stairway. Aoyama smiled at him again, but he could see the confusion on his classmate’s face.
Tokoyami pushed down the anxiety building up in his stomach and took a deep breath.
“Here,” he held out his hand, waiting for Aoyama to accept his offering. When Aoyama’s hand was underneath his, he placed a small, amethyst-colored stone he had found on a walk around campus into Aoyama’s open palm.
“I hope you feel better soon,” he said, bowing slightly before hurrying back to his room. Once he made it back inside, he closed the door behind himself and groaned. He had no idea why he had done that. The urge had bubbled up inside of him and he found that he could not ignore it.
“Fumiiii,” Dark Shadow said, materializing in front of him. They fiddled with their shadow claws nervously. Tokoyami opened one eye to look at his companion.
“He was really shiny, can we keep him too?”
Tokoyami closed his eyes again and groaned even louder.
Tokoyami had always been the type of person to stay in the shadows. He preferred to stand back and observe those around him, choosing only to enter a conversation when he felt his input was necessary. He enjoyed listening. He liked the quiet stories that Shouji would tell, the boisterous jokes of Kaminari and Mina, even Midoriya’s tendency to ramble on and on about whatever hero or quirk was fascinating him at the moment.
There was always one person, though, that he enjoyed listening to more than any other. There was something about Aoyama’s voice, the soft purr as he switched effortlessly from Japanese to French and back again had always allured him in a way he did not quite understand. Even when his classmate did nothing but speak of himself, Tokoyami found that he always gave him his full attention.
His tendency to listen rather than speak had helped him a few times before. He held a small amount of pride over his ability to discern if something was wrong based on the tone of someone’s voice alone. He noticed when Aizawa was losing his patience and could warn Dark Shadow to quiet down. He could tell when Bakugou was truly angry versus his usual gruff indifference.
So when Aoyama spoke in class the next day, voice much softer than usual, Tokoyami knew immediately that something was troubling his classmate. Looking closer, he could see the barest hint of sleeplessness under his eyes, covered carefully by a layer of creamy, pale makeup. It was carefully applied and would certainly be unnoticeable to most, though it did not elude Tokoyami’s careful gaze. He shifted back in his seat as class began. He supposed that the peppermint tea had not helped like Aoyama had hoped that it would.
He found that he could not help but glance at his classmate every so often. He had become so used to Aoyama’s exuberance and passion that the lack thereof was a bit unnerving. Tokoyami was used to his lilting French filling every corner of the classroom. The silence hung heavy over the classroom as his peers worked amongst themselves. The way that Aoyama chose to rest his head on his desk did not go unnoticed.
Aizawa was sound asleep at the front of the room, snuffling every so often as he dreamt. Tokoyami hoped that he would not mind if he stepped out for a moment. He ignored Iida’s indignant gasp as he slipped from the classroom, closing the door softly behind him. He could tell that Dark Shadow was feeling restless based on the energy thrumming beneath his skin, but his companion usually chose to stay hidden while he was in class, so perhaps the walk would be good for them both.
He was unsure if the vending machines near the cafeteria would have what he was looking for, but he did not mind making the walk if it meant he could at least try to make his friend feel better.
That thought gave him pause as he walked. Could he consider Aoyama a friend? They had never really spoken much outside of their respective classes, but he knew that to be due to his own tendencies to stay hidden away in his room rather than inhabit the shared spaces of the dorms.
That was not to say that he never stepped out of his own fortress, though. He had weekly movie nights with Shouji and Jirou. Occasionally Bakugou would stop by, but only ever for a moment, just long enough to steal some of Tokoyami’s dark chocolate-covered apples and insult whatever movie they were watching that night. Distantly, he wondered if Aoyama would ever stop by. Maybe they could play one of those older French films he spoke about so often.
He was disappointed but unsurprised to see that the vending machine did not have any peppermint tea. They did have a canned ginger soda that Tokoyami would often drink to help settle his own stomach whenever he felt under the weather. He slid in the coins needed to buy the soda and a tiny bag of peppermint lozenges and gathered his purchases up in his arms.
It was not until he reached the door of the classroom that he suddenly felt a wave of nervousness overwhelm him. He frowned down at the objects in his arms. This was not something that he did. Never before had there been a time where Tokoyami felt such an urge to take care of another classmate. He was unsure why Aoyama was so different from the others, but all he truly knew was that seeing the usually loud blond so silent made something deep inside of him ache. Silence did not suit him.
He steeled himself against the barrage of nerves and got ready to open the door to his classroom. Aoyama was seated at the very first desk by the door, so handing over the items would be a fairly quick affair. He opened the door, ready to slip his purchases onto Aoyama’s desk. Except…
His seat was empty. His things were still there, laid neatly upon his desk as if he had had no intention upon leaving. He could not stop the frown that appeared on his face due to Aoyama's absence. He must have been feeling much worse than Tokoyami realized if it had caused him to leave class. He would have seen him if he had gone to Recovery Girl’s office though, so he felt it safe to assume that Aoyama would be back for his things soon. Perhaps leaving a note would suffice since he could not explain himself at the present.
He failed to notice the curious look his (now awake) teacher was giving him as he opened Aoyama’s notebook. He tore out a sheet of paper and wrote, “ I’m sorry that you are still feeling unwell. I hope that these may bring you some solace in these dark times - Tokoyami.” He tucked the note beneath the can and retreated back to his own desk.
The buzzing under his skin felt calmer now.
He was more surprised than he should have been when Aoyama found him in the kitchens after their classes had ended. He was carefully pressing a spoonful of rice into the onigiri molds he borrowed from Sato when Dark Shadow perked up, flying around the room with an excited chirp. He turned to see what had made his friend so excited and felt his face heat up when he saw Aoyama standing behind him.
He looked better than he had when he was in class. His smile was lighter, far less forced than it had been just a few hours prior. Tokoyami ducked his head when he realized he had been staring. He hoped that Aoyama could not see the blush that resided high on his beak.
“Fumi, look! So shiny,” Dark Shadow squealed, already in the process of wrapping their shadowy claws around Aoyama’s scarf. It was made of dark purple lace, inlaid with some sort of glittery fabric that sparkled under the bright lights of the kitchen.
“Quit that, Dark Shadow, unhand him immediately,” Tokoyami chastised, using his tether on Dark Shadow to bring him back to his side. Sulking, they did just that and stared sullenly at the floor. Tokoyami rolled his eyes at his companions pouting, and turned back to Aoyama.
“That is quite all right, mon ange, I do not mind it at all, in fact, I am just happy that someone here appreciates beauty when they see it,” Aoyama smiled. Tokoyami could not help but stare at him as he smiled. There was such warmth there, such brightness. He felt as if he might be blinded if he looked for too long, yet he could not bring himself to tear his eyes away.
Suddenly, without warning, Aoyama surged forward and grabbed Tokoyami’s hands. Tokoyami squawked as Aoyama’s soft skin enveloped his own. There were still bits of rice stuck to the tips of his fingers from his forgotten onigiri. Aoyama did not seem to mind.
“Thank you for today, Tokoyami. I am not used to those around me noticing how my quirk affects me. I have always been of the mindset that the drawbacks of my quirk are a ghastly thing that I must make sure are never seen. And yet,” Aoyama paused. He stared down at their hands for just a moment before he continued. “Well, I suppose that it was nice to be seen for once.”
“I cannot help but see you,” Tokoyami said. “You’re too bright to go unnoticed.”
Oh gods, Tokoyami thought. He wasn’t sure why he had said that. He had never been the type to mince his words. He prided himself on being thoughtful and articulate in the way that he spoke. Yet every time he spoke to Aoyama, it was as if all of those years of careful speech flew out the window.
He felt his beak burn and pulled his hands back to his sides as Aoyama blinked once, twice, three times at his words. He looked away, wiping his hands on his apron to get rid of the stray bits of rice. And the feeling of his hands on your own , his mind supplied. He did his best to ignore those thoughts. He hoped that he had not made his classmate uncomfortable and hurried to say something, anything to fix the damage he had dealt to whatever friendship they had begun to build.
“Well,” Aoyama said. There was a blush dusting his cheeks. “I certainly don’t mind being seen by you, mon ange.” Aoyama tucked his hair behind his ear as he smiled. Tokoyami cringed as he noticed a stray piece of rice from his own fingertips got caught in Aoyama’s hair.
“I should, oh -,” Aoyama paused. He was like a statue, barely breathing as Tokoyami reached forward and combed his fingers through Aoyama’s hair to capture the piece of rice. He let his fingers tangle in his hair for a moment longer than necessary. It was soft, incredibly so. He wondered if Aoyama used some kind of special soap to achieve such softness.
Aoyama’s sudden, hurried exhale was what finally brought Tokoyami back to his senses. He felt his own eyes widen as he realized what he had been doing. He snatched his hand out of Aoyama’s hair as his beak burned.
“You had something,” he mumbled, gesturing down at his half filled onigiri molds. Aoyama’s eyes widened in realization and he nodded. He took a quick step back and smiled in Tokoyami’s direction before he spoke again.
“Merci! I should let you get back to your dinner,” Aoyama said. He began walking towards the elevator, but paused before he turned the corner completely.
“I’ll see you around, Tokoyami-kun.”
To Dark Shadow’s credit, they at least waited until Aoyama was gone before they materialized again.
“Fumi, I still don’t get why you won’t let me keep him. He’s shiny, just like all our things!” Tokoyami could not help but chuckle at his companion’s antics. They were definitely correct in their observation. Aoyama certainly shone brighter than most.
Dinner was considerably less exciting after Aoyama made his exit. Dark Shadow insisted that they go to bed early so that they would be awake with plenty of time to go and get a box for their trinkets. After a long week of training, Tokoyami was glad that he was able to do something nice for his companion. He knew that it would only help them grow stronger, but he could not help but hate being forced to expose Dark Shadow to the dark for prolonged periods of time. He knew better than anyone how terrified his companion became when they were unable to control themselves.
Dark Shadow insisted that they retire for the evening at an absurd time so that they would be well rested for their journey off campus the next morning. Tokoyami was used to being the last to sleep, so going up to his room at the same time as Bakugou was a new experience for him. But if it made his friend happy, he supposed he could deal with it for the night.
“I’m sorry, Tokoyami, I know I signed that note saying you could go off campus, but I assumed you were already aware of the new rule Nezu put in place. Ever since Midoriya pulled that stunt at the school festival, all students are only allowed off campus in pairs. Either find someone to go with you or you’ll just have to stay here today.”
Tokoyami frowned. He had been preparing to leave campus when Aizawa stopped him. He supposed that he could ask Shouji to accompany him, though he knew his friend preferred to sleep in on the weekends. He pulled out his phone to text him when someone stepped in front of him.
“Are you leaving campus today, mon chéri?” Aoyama asked. Tokoyami’s eyes widened as he looked at his friend. He looked as dazzling as always. He was wearing a beige pea coat and a white, lace blouse and -
“Did you change your belt?” Tokoyami asked. He pressed a hand against his eyes. He had not meant to say that out loud. He hoped that Aoyama did not think him weird for noticing such a small change in his daily attire.
“I am so glad you noticed! That wonderful Hatsume has been helping me with creating some belts for everyday use,” Aoyama said. He twirled a bit, winking at Tokoyami as he did so. “I think this one is much nicer for days off, don’t you agree?” he asked. Tokoyami blushed high on his beak and hurried to agree.
“But yes - I’m going off campus. Or at least I had planned to before my plans were foiled,” Tokoyami sighed. Shouji had yet to answer his text and he knew that Jirou already had plans with Yaoyorozu and Kaminari.
“Très bien! Would you mind terribly if I accompany you? I was hoping to get some shopping done before it gets too cold out,” Aoyama said. He smiled up at Tokoyami, just as bright and dazzling as he always was. How could Tokoyami ever hope to deny him when he looked as radiant as he did?
“Of course, I would be honored to have you along,” he agreed.
As they walked towards the train station, Tokoyami pondered about their coming together. He could not understand how Aoyama did not have a multitude of friends to go shopping with. He was quite funny - and incredibly kind. He knew that if his other classmates would only take the time to listen to Aoyama, he would be much more popular than he was. But Tokoyami would be lying if he said that he did not understand that Aoyama’s exuberance was a bit of an acquired taste. Still, Tokoyami found his excitement incredibly endearing.
They had just gotten on the train when Aoyama spoke up. It was all that Tokoyami could do to not lean into the words.
“So, what brings you off campus on this beautiful morning, Tokoyami-kun?” Aoyama asked. Tokoyami glanced over at him, surprised to find him smiling brightly in Tokoyami’s direction. How someone could be so enthusiastic so early in the morning was something he did not quite understand.
“I am in need of a vessel to store some of the items that Dark Shadow and I have come to possess,” he answered.
“Oh, I see! Like the gorgeous stone you gave me when I was feeling unwell?” Aoyama asked. Before Tokoyami could respond, Aoyama had turned from him to search through his bag. After a moment of shuffling, he pulled out his hand and held it out to Tokoyami.
He was holding onto the stone Tokoyami had given him all those nights ago. Something deep inside of Tokoyami’s chest began to ache at the sight of it. For some reason, it never crossed his mind that Aoyama might keep his gift.
“You kept it?” he asked. Aoyama looked up at him, his head tilted slightly as if he did not understand Tokoyami’s question.
“Of course I did! I was actually hoping to take it to a jewelry store while we were out. I think it would make a lovely pendant, don’t you agree?” Aoyama asked. Tokoyami felt breathless as he looked at his friend. He was holding onto the stone as if it was something incredibly precious, as if Tokoyami had spent fortunes on acquiring it for him instead of just finding it on a riverbed near his house.
“Yes, I think it would be beautiful,” he agreed. He closed his eyes and let his head rest against the window of the train. It was a little cool to the touch, but it did not bother him. Perhaps the cold seeping into his feathers would help calm his racing heart. He tried not to let his restlessness show.
There was so much more that he wanted to say, but the words evaded him. He found that simply being around Aoyama had left him completely and utterly tongue-tied. It was a feeling he was sure he would have to get used to if he planned to continue his friendship with him.
The rest of their journey was uneventful. Tokoyami did not speak much, but that did not seem to deter Aoyama at all. He kept up a constant stream of conversation, regaling Tokoyami with many stories from things like how he grew up learning not only Japanese, but English and French as well, how he found his love of reading, and why he wanted to be a hero. Tokoyami hoped that he did not mind that all he did was listen. He found he was too spellbound to do much more than that.
He was just finishing up explaining how Hatsume was working with him to design a belt that helped him to better control the output of his quirk when he gasped. He held a hand to his mouth and grabbed at Tokoyami’s sleeve with the other.
“Oh, Tokoyami-kun, look! We should go in there, that shop looks perfect, no?” He pointed at a small shop nestled on the corner of the street. It was one Tokoyami was quite familiar with. His mother often took him as a reward for maintaining his grades throughout middle and high school. As he looked over at Aoyama who was staring at the shop with something akin to glee on his face, he found that he could not look away.
Aoyama was like the sun - full of warmth and brightness. Tokoyami felt incredibly lucky to just be pulled along in his orbit.
They entered the shop, greeted by the small ding of the bell just above the door. Tokoyami left Aoyama to speak to the manager about having his stone set into a pendant. He made his way to the back of the store where he knew there would likely be an old chest or two.
Usually, this shop had everything that Tokoyami could have dreamt of. He could not remember a time that he had left empty-handed, but as he perused over the unusually small collection of items, he felt that time might have come. Dark Shadow materialized beside him and huffed.
“None of these are good enough for my treasures, Fumi,” they complained. Tokoyami glanced over at them and held back a chuckle. If he looked closely enough at their face, he could have sworn he saw a pout on their features.
“I apologize, Dark Shadow. Perhaps we can check another store if we have the time,” Tokoyami said. Dark Shadow looked as if they were ready to argue, but zipped away to look around the store as Aoyama walked over to stand next to Tokoyami.
“Do they not have what you were looking for?” he asked. Tokoyami shook his head and held up one of the smaller chests.
“I fear I might have limited my options by choosing such a gothic design for my bedroom. Bright pink and this dull brown do not quite fit with the rest of my things,” Tokoyami said. He sighed and set the chest back with the others.
“That is too bad, mon ange. Perhaps a few of the other shops we visit might have something that would work! Let’s not lose hope just yet,” Aoyama put a hand on Tokoyami’s shoulder and squeezed. He could tell that the gesture was meant to be comforting, but all it did was make Tokoyami feel like his stomach was flipping upside down.
He excused himself partly to go see what Dark Shadow was doing, but mostly because he did not want Aoyama to see the blush that appeared on his face at the simple touch of his hand. He needed to pull himself together before Aoyama thought him strange.
As he tried to convince Dark Shadow that they did not need yet another sword, Aoyama picked through the remaining chests. Tokoyami was too busy trying to pry the sword from Dark Shadow’s claws to see Aoyama tip toe towards the counter, with the bright pink chest tucked behind his back.
The rest of their shopping trip ended up being considerably more one-sided than Tokoyami had thought it would be. All in all, he only ended up purchasing the sword Dark Shadow had grown so fond of. He had protested in the store, but the gleeful trills of his companion had made the dent in his savings well worth it.
Aoyama, on the other hand, had somehow managed to find dozens of items that he could not part with. Tokoyami found it incredibly amusing to see him flit from shop to shop, loading himself down with trinket after trinket. He purchased several books, a pale yellow scarf, several small jars of homemade paint, and a few other random items. Tokoyami found the assortment to be a bit strange, but then again he was carrying around a large sword, so he knew he could not judge his friend too harshly.
The trip back to the dorms went by much quicker than he expected it to. Before he knew it, Tokoyami was helping Aoyama carry his several shopping bags, along with his own sword strapped to his back, up to their rooms. He met Aizawa’s raised eyebrow with his own cool gaze.
Once he had set down the bags he had forced Aoyama to let him carry, he turned to go to his own bedroom. Aoyama reached out and grabbed his hand before he could make it out the door.
“Thank you for allowing me to join you today, mon ange. I had a wonderful time,” he said. He squeezed Tokoyami’s hand in his own. Tokoyami stared down at their fingers, nearly interlocked, and tried not to blush.
“I was glad to have you, Aoyama-kun,” he said. He bowed slightly and turned to leave once again. Just as he opened his door, Aoyama stuck his head out of his own door.
“We should do that again sometime. If you would like to, that is.” Tokoyami smiled at Aoyama’s words.
“I would be honored.”
Once he had finally entered his bedroom, he set the sword down on the floor and sat down on his bed. Dark Shadow immediately picked up the sword and started playing with it, but Tokoyami chose to ignore them.
He stared down at the hand that Aoyama had held onto. He could still feel Aoyama’s fingers on his own. He could not help but smile at the feeling. He glanced up as Dark Shadow finally set down the sword and joined him on the bed.
“What are you smiling about, Fumi?” they asked.
“Nothing in particular,” he answered. Dark Shadow’s bright yellow eyes narrowed at his answer.
“Are you sure it isn’t because you’ve got a crush on Aoyama-kun? ,” they asked, twirling around his body in quick, dizzying circles.
“Quiet, Dark Shadow. I do not have a crush. He is simply a good friend,” he hissed, blushing furiously at his friend's words.
He did not have a crush on Aoyama. He just thought that he was fun to talk to. He found his confidence and his penchant for self-praise endearing and his obvious intelligence made holding a conversation with him easy. Tokoyami was quite fond of the bright, often sparkling, clothing that he wore when not bound by the rules of the uniform set forward by their school. And he found that even when they were not on campus, he still made very good company. And it certainly did not hurt that he was pleasant to look at as well.
He looked down at his hands again. He wished that Aoyama was still holding his larger hand on his own.
With a jolt, he sat up, already blushing furiously at the thought. Why had he thought that? He never found himself wishing that someone would hold his hand before. Why was Aoyama holding his hand any different than when Jirou or Shouji would grab onto his hand to get his attention?
He thought back on the day and the many times that Aoyama had held onto him. Each time - whether it was a simple, comforting gesture like squeezing his shoulder or putting a hand on his arm as he passed by - each time Aoyama had touched him, he felt like his heart was going to leap out of his chest. He had assumed it was because he was not used to so much physical contact, but the more that he thought about it…
Dark Shadow was right. Somehow, Aoyama Yuuga had managed to run away with his heart.
Truth be told, Tokoyami was unsure of how to act now that he had made the revelation of what his feelings for Aoyama really were. He had no idea how he had not noticed it before. Looking back, his previous behavior made a lot more sense. For all intents and purposes, he had been courting Aoyama. Even though he knew that he had just been following his instincts, he was horrendously embarrassed.
When most people saw him, they assumed that his head being that of a crow was just a part of his quirk. He guessed that they could not be faulted for that logic since it was, more often than not, true. He knew people with heteromorphic quirks that were just as they seemed to be. An example would be his friend Tsu being similar to a frog and then her quirk being just that - Frog. But there were outliers to this type of logic as well.
Tokoyami was an outlier, if he went by this line of thinking. His quirk may not be heteromorphic like Tsu’s, but he was still heteromorphic in other ways. This included the obvious, like having the head of a crow, but it also included those things that were not visible to the eye; it included the very instincts that shaped him into who he was.
His mother, in an attempt to make him more comfortable with his visible differences from those around him, never told him that his animalistic traits were anything other than ordinary. It was not until he was sent to see a quirk counselor at school that he realized his behavior was different from that of the kids around him. He had assumed that trilling or chirping when he was happy was normal and that perhaps in this one aspect of his life, he was simply more vocal than the other children. He thought that every child built a nest of pillows and blankets so that they would not grow too cold during the frigid winter months.
Now that he was older, he could not help but find his avian traits a bit embarrassing. His mother did her best to make him more comfortable with that part of himself, but he found himself suppressing those instincts on many occasions. If he had realized what he was doing, he likely would have stopped himself from courting Aoyama. His instincts often caused him to be at war with himself. Though the thought caused him great pain, how could he be sure that the attraction he felt towards Aoyama was real and not something that the animalistic facet of himself found desirable? He knew that he could not act on his feelings; it would be unfair of him to tell Aoyama how he felt when he himself had no idea if the feelings were true.
Needless to say, he had done his best to avoid Aoyama ever since that realization had set in. It was best that he undergo these trials on his own.
There had been a few moments, fleeting at most, that he thought about going to Aoyama and attempting to talk to him, yet he could not bring himself to do so. He knew that he would only make matters worse. Just being around Aoyama gave him the intense urge to puff out his feathers and preen to show that he was worthy of his crush’s attention. As much as it pained him to stay away, he did not think that he could handle the rejection he knew he would face.
He felt immense guilt at the hurt he saw lingering on his classmate's face when he would turn from him and all but run in the other direction. He told himself that it was better this way, that the space would give his heart time to heal - that it would allow him to figure out how he truly felt. Of course he did not actually believe that, but he hoped in time the lie would be easier to swallow.
He had hoped that despite the warring emotions swirling in his gut that he had at least gotten better at keeping the evidence of them off of his face, but he seemed to be failing much more spectacularly than he had thought he would based on the looks that Hawks continued to give him while they were out on patrol. That or his mentor could secretly read minds. He was unsure how it made him feel that neither of those options surprised him very much.
His mentor had always been unnervingly good at reading Tokoyami’s emotions. At first, he was sure that it was just a testament to his skills as a pro hero. Now he was not so sure that it had anything to do with his skills as a pro, but everything to do with the similarities that they shared. At the end of the day, they were both birds underneath it all.
Hawks had just dropped him off at the front steps of the school after a long night of patrolling when he decided to bring up Tokoyami’s sour mood.
“I thought maybe you were just having an off day, you know,” Hawks said. He rocked back on his heels and stuffed his hands in his pockets. It was cold out. Despite Hawks’ thick winter suit, he could still see him shivering. Tokoyami was no different, though Dark Shadow did provide him with some warmth. He could see Aizawa waiting for him at the top of the steps.
“I am not sure that I know what you mean,” Tokoyami said. Hawks just tilted his head, a questioning rumble emanating from his throat. Tokoyami’s own instincts screamed at him to respond in kind, but he swallowed against the sound.
“You know you can talk to me if something’s bothering you, right?” Hawks asked. Tokoyami looked up. He did not want to meet Hawks’ eyes at this moment, though he was not sure that staring at a sky too drowned out by city lights to showcase even a single star was any more ideal.
“I am aware,” he responded, slowly. He looked back down at his mentor. “I assure you that I am fine,” he said. Hawks stared at him for a moment before he let his eyes flick over to Aizawa. He was watching the two of them closely. Tokoyami assumed that the cold weather was enough to have his teacher out of his usual state of perpetual slumber.
“Come on, I’ll take you back to your teacher. He looks about ready to snatch me up in that scarf of his,” Hawks said. He clapped a hand onto Tokoyami’s shoulder and led him over to his teacher.
“Eraserhead,” Hawks said, bowing his head in greeting. Tokoyami walked inside when they started to chat. He certainly did not feel like waiting around in the cold for any longer than strictly necessary.
He was toeing off his boots and stepping into his house slippers when Aizawa finally entered the dorms.
“Hey kid, how was the patrol?” Tokoyami looked up at his teacher. Despite his urge to swallow down the noise in his throat, he was too tired to actively suppress it, so he let the rumble in his chest escape him.
“Uneventful. Lady Luck shone down upon us tonight,” he answered. He started to unwind his scarf. Aizawa was still standing there. A cursory glance at the shoe rack told him that all of his fellow students had returned from their nighttime patrols, so he was unsure as to why his teacher was lingering.
Tokoyami had almost worked up the nerve to ask him if there was anything he could help his teacher with when Aizawa closed his eyes and swayed a moment on his feet. He opened his eyes and fixed his gaze on Tokoyami before he turned to walk towards the kitchen.
“Come on, kid, I need coffee,” he said. Tokoyami followed behind him.
“I know you probably want to get to bed, and I don’t want to have this conversation anymore than you do, I’m sure, but Hawks has informed me that he thinks something’s up with you, so I figured I’d just ask you outright. I spent most of the afternoon dealing with Aoyama, so…”
Tokoyami felt his heart turn cold, almost as if the ice forming on the wind had somehow crawled inside of chest. Something was wrong with Aoyama?
“…yami? Tokoyami, did you hear anything I just said?" Aizawa asked. He could hear the exasperation in his teacher’s voice.
“What’s wrong with Aoyama?” he asked. He could not help the distressed trill that escaped from his throat or the way that the feathers on the back of his neck puffed up in worry.
Aizawa did not answer right away. He seemed to be regarding Tokoyami closely, almost as if he could see more than what his face was giving away. After a moment, his eyes softened. Tokoyami did not have it in him to think about how it seemed that all of his teacher’s were able to see right through the mask he had spent so many years carefully crafting. He was too worried for his friend.
“He’s fine, I promise. Recovery Girl changed up his meds today and they left him a little loopy, so he slept most of today. He’s in his room, if you’d like to go see for yourself,” Aizawa said. His voice was soft, softer than Tokoyami had heard it before.
“I apologize, Aizawa-sensei, I -,” Tokoyami started to apologize, but Aizawa just waved a hand in his direction.
“Just go already. Curfew’s up in thirty minutes.”
Tokoyami was at the elevator before Aizawa had finished speaking. With the way that his heart was pounding, he thought for sure it would wake his sleeping classmates. Surely there was no way he was being quiet with the way he was running down the deserted hallway. He reached Aoyama’s doorway in minutes and only then did he stop to try and compose himself. He took a deep breath and tried to keep his hand from trembling too much as he knocked on the door.
There was a soft thump of feet just a moment later and Tokoyami felt guilt course through him. Of course Aoyama would still be in bed. If he was still feeling unwell, he needed to get as much rest as possible. Perhaps he should just leave before he forced Aoyama to keep him company when he was clearly not feeling up to it. He had just turned to make his escape when the door opened. Aoyama looked at him, violet eyes wide and unblinking. It seemed to take him a moment to realize who was standing before him.
“Tokoyami-kun, I did not realize you had made it back from patrol yet,” he said.
“Hawks only just dropped me off a few moments ago,” he answered. He could not help but stare. Aside from the fact that his hair was tousled from sleeping, he looked as radiant as ever.
“How did it go? It is cold out tonight, no?” Aoyama asked. He moved from the doorway so that Tokoyami could step into his room. It looked about how Tokoyami had expected it to. The walls were painted a soft lavender and held several strings of fairy lights that extended from corner to corner. There was a plush bed with several blankets and pillows strewn about. Aoyama led him over to the small tea table in the center of the rooms and set out a cushion for him to sit on.
Despite the fact that they were sitting so close, Aoyama seemed unable to look at him, choosing to stare down at the table instead. Tokoyami wanted to curse himself. The usual ease of their conversations was gone because of his own foolishness.
“It is quite cold, yes,” Tokoyami answered. He stared down at his hands. This was not the conversation that he wanted to have. He wanted to take Aoyama’s hands into his own and hold them close to his chest. He wanted to do so much more than this, yet he could not bring himself to speak.
He blinked as Dark Shadow materialized beside him. His companion had been tired after being out all night, so he was surprised to see them willingly come out at this time. Dark Shadow did not speak, which also surprised Tokoyami. He had expected them to launch themselves across the room to inspect every last inch of it. Instead, they just tugged at the pocket on the inside of Tokoyami’s cloak.
“Thank you, Dark Shadow,” he said, petting against their beak softly. They let out a soft trill and tucked themselves away once again. With trembling fingers, Tokoyami reached into his pocket. He had found a gift for Aoyama on patrol. Hawks had seen it first, but Tokoyami had beaten him to it. He had snatched it up, almost unable to contain his excited trills at his find.
It was a small, silver brooch in the shape of a crescent moon. Clearly it had been well-taken care of despite the fact that it had been lost on the street. He was grateful that Hawks had not commented as he had rushed into the Agency’s restroom to clean it off. By the time he had returned to continue their patrol, the brooch had been shined enough that it sparkled underneath the street lights
“I heard that you had a bad day,” Tokoyami started. Aoyama looked up at him, then. Tokoyami held out the brooch. “I found this while I was on patrol. There is no one more deserving of it than you,” he said. Aoyama stared down at the brooch in his hand for a moment. Tokoyami forced himself to stand still as Aoyama inspected his gift.
“It’s beautiful,” he whispered. He looked up at Tokoyami with tears welling in his eyes.
Suddenly, his eyes widened and Aoyama hurried to his feet. Tokoyami watched as he rummaged around in the corner of his room with his back to Tokoyami. After a moment, Aoyama looked over his shoulder.
“Close your eyes,” he instructed. Tokoyami could not help but raise his eyebrows at the order, but obliged. As his eyes slid closed, he could hear the soft tap of Aoyama’s feet padding back towards him. He could feel the shift in the air as Aoyama kneeled and got settled in front of him.
“Okay, open!” Aoyama said. Tokoyami opened his eyes.
“I got you something too. I know you were looking for something like it, so I hope that this will do for all of your trinkets,” Aoyama said. He ducked his head, unusually shy, as Tokoyami looked down at his gift.
It was the chest he had seen in the shop, only it had been painted a dark brown. There were silver accents adorning the sides in intricate, swirling patterns that were highlighted and outlined in what Tokoyami thought was a very modest amount of glitter, considering who the gift was from. He felt as if someone much larger than him had taken his heart in their hand and squeezed it as hard as they could. He blinked furiously against the moisture clouding his vision.
“Why…” he trailed off. He looked up at Aoyama, who was smiling at him sadly. “Why would you do something so kind for me when I treated you so badly?” he asked. Aoyama clutched his hands in his lap. He stared down at them for a moment before he looked back at Aoyama.
“If I may, I would like to be honest with you, Tokoyami-kun,” Aoyama scrubbed at his face to wipe away the tears threatening to spill over his cheeks.
“I thought that you hated me,” he said.
Tokoyami watched as he rubbed his thumb over a tiny, pink scar on the outside of his hand. He realized, with a start, that he had had somehow never noticed it before. Now that he looked, it was almost as if he was seeing Aoyama for the first time all over again. There was so much that he noticed. The scar on his hand, the way he resembled a cat as he sat back on his heels as they kneeled together, the pastel butterfly clips holding his hair back from his face, the slightly pink tinge of his lips from the gloss he was wearing. He only stopped his staring when Aoyama began to speak again.
“After our outing, you started to avoid me and I could not help but think that I had done something. Perhaps I was overly familiar. I know that I can be a bit much sometimes,” he said. He laughed, a short, joyless sound that made Tokoyami’s heartache.
“And it is silly, I know, but having someone care about how I was feeling, completely unprompted… It made me want to be less ashamed of it. That is why I went to see Recovery Girl, you see,” the tears were flowing freely down Aoyama’s cheeks as he spoke.
“I thought, surely if Tokoyami-kun has noticed I am in pain, and does not think less of me for it, then I should not be so harsh on myself. There is no need to suffer when help is readily available for me. And we grew even closer after you noticed how ill I was. I was ecstatic. But then you stopped talking to me, out of nowhere. I did not know what to think after that.”
Tokoyami felt guilt course through him. He had caused Aoyama so much hurt. He had forced him to deal with so much unnecessary pain all because he was too much of a coward to tell him the truth of his feelings. He allowed the remorse to swirl around in his stomach before he moved. He carefully moved out to the side of the tea table and leaned down directly in front of Aoyama so he could press his beak to the floor. Aoyama made a confused sound.
“I am so sorry, Aoyama. You are undeserving of all of the pain I have caused you,” he said.
“Mon ange, no, there is no need for this! Please, get up,” he said. He pulled Tokoyami out of his bow with a soft grunt. Tokoyami looked up and felt a blush rise to his beak. They were nearly nose to nose, now.
He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. He knew that if he did not speak his mind now, he would only continue hurting Aoyama. He pulled Aoyama’s hands into his own and cradled them against his chest. Aoyama was staring at him, wide-eyed and unblinking.
“You have run away with my heart, Aoyama. When I realized how I felt, I was terrified. At first, I did not know if it was real. I have gotten so used to ignoring my instincts that the second I noticed them, I began doubting myself,” Tokoyami closed his eyes for a moment, attempting to gather his thoughts.
“I thought that avoiding you would help me sort it all out. I thought I had ruined what we had only just begun to build together,” Tokoyami stared down at their joined hands. “I pulled away because I did not think I had a chance with someone as beautiful as you,” he said.
It was silent, but only for a moment. Then, Aoyama was pulling his hands away from Tokoyami and he could not help but think that he had been right to be scared. He was shrouded in darkness. It was unsurprising that someone as bathed in light as Aoyama was would be repelled by him.
And then Aoyama was cradling his face in those soft hands of his. He held him there, his thumbs softly petting along the feathers that adorned his face. Tokoyami looked up at him, mesmerized. The lamp in the corner of the room was blocked by Aoyama’s silhouette; the light flowed out behind him as if it was shrouding him in a halo of light. Tokoyami felt like he was staring into the heavens.
Aoyama leaned in and pressed a kiss to the side of his beak. Tokoyami did not attempt to stop the trill that followed.
“Mon ange, I can think of no one I would rather give my heart to than you.”
Somewhere just outside of Tokyo, Hawks received a text message from Eraserhead. Once he scanned over the note, he threw out a receipt for a silver, crescent moon brooch and smiled against the cool, night air.