The first time Mirio sneaks into Tamaki’s room, he doesn’t actually make it into Tamaki’s room.
They’re nine. Mirio wants to have a sleepover even though it’s a school night and they’re not allowed. So he sneaks out of his own room, jumps the fence to Tamaki’s house, phases a finger into Tamaki’s wall… and that’s as far as he gets.
It’s late spring, luckily, and the window is open to Mirio’s sheepish calls. Otherwise Tamaki would have never noticed the fingertip behind the bookshelf when he came back from the bath.
(If Mirio had succeeded in getting through the wall, he’d have knocked down the bookshelf though).
Tamaki hovers at Mirio’s shoulder, worry driving all of the sleepiness out of his head. His dad brings them onigiri, and Mirio tells them both knock knock jokes through a mouth full of rice. Even though Mirio’s the one in trouble, Tamaki’s the one who needs cheering up.
Togata-san arrives to talk him through the process of getting loose. He tells more terrible jokes than his son, and he has this way of paying attention to everyone that is actually very friendly, but also makes Tamaki overwhelmingly nervous. After a few minutes Tamaki is taken inside while father and son softly talk. It takes over an hour, but, Mirio’s finger eventually slips out of the wall.
They end up getting their sleepover, but they’re too exhausted to really enjoy it much.
“M’sorry, Tamaki,” Mirio yawns from his futon. “This was supposed to be more fun.”
Tamaki wants to tell him that it’s always fun when they’re together, but he doesn’t know how to say it, so he pretends to be asleep.
Mirio gets a lot better at sneaking into Tamaki’s room. Usually he takes the window. It’s not really sneaking in, since Tamaki has to lift the sash and pull him in. But he brings snacks, so Tamaki isn’t as bothered as he could be. While they eat, he turns his fingers into little potatoes and tiny squids and whatever else the snacks can turn into. Mirio laughs at every single one, even cacao leaves, which aren’t that funny.
Tamaki doesn’t laugh very much. Not tonight.
Middle school has been much more horrible than he ever imagined, and he is good at imaging horrible things. Kids tease him about anything they can sink their claws into and they tell Mirio that his Quirk is no good. There’s no contest as to what’s worse but there’s no end in sight for either.
Mirio is too kindhearted and noble to fight anyone over something like that, though. And him? Tamaki’s just a coward. A good-for-nothing coward who is too weak to even show his teacher what his quirk can do. He never wants to go to school again.
And as they sometimes do when he’s deep within his own head, his thoughts spill out into muttered words that anyone around him can hear.
“Sorry Tamaki,” Mirio rests his chin on the pillow, “but I’m not letting you be mean to my best friend like that. Don’t you remember any of the stuff I told you the other day? We’re both gonna get stronger together!”
He wants to argue, he does, but he finds that all his inner darkness is blasted away in the pure, unadulterated light surrounding the boy next to him.
After their first day at UA, Mirio sneaks into Tamaki’s room. He phases this time, the first time, which means he ends up naked when he arrives on the other side of the wall. Of course, he’s always naked when he phases, and even though it’s Mirio, the nakedest person he knows, it’s also Mirio and lately that’s starting to matter in a different way than it used to.
Tamaki is drawing a picture, and it’s not a good picture and he doesn’t ever want anyone to see it (he doesn’t want anyone to see him today), but all of a sudden Mirio is popping out of the wall behind him, commenting excitedly about the color of the butterfly’s wings. Naked.
Things could not be worse for either of them after the first day. Their seats are far apart, and Mirio is surrounded by people who don’t seem to know how to laugh. There’s a bully in their class: a girl with long hair who won’t stop asking Tamaki questions about his quirk. Questions that he can’t answer, not just because he’s nervous but also just because he doesn’t know.
On top of all of this, Mirio seems… sunnier than normal, and he can’t stop looking at him in ways friends don’t look at friends. To keep from looking, he throws a blanket in Mirio’s general direction, hiding his blush in the neck of his hoodie.
The hoodie that Mirio got him for his birthday.
“Sorry Tamaki,” he shrugs the blanket over his shoulders, “still don’t know how to keep my clothes from coming off.”
Tamaki doesn’t care, not in the way Mirio must think, but he pretends to in order to keep up appearances. He’s not entirely certain if Mirio notices or not.
After a certain number of naked Mirios, Tamaki is prepared. There are underwear and a pair of sweatpants against the wall he always phases through. They would slide over his own hips and down to the floor if Tamaki tried to put them on, but they fit Mirio just fine.
The sports festival went abysmally. The broadcasts made Mirio into a joke and Tamaki had been too anxious to do much of anything. But he can see now what he might have done. What he could have done if he had just gotten over himself and his anxiety. He can see it so clearly it hurts. He sees himself once, just once, living up to the name he was given.
“I want to get stronger,” he tells Mirio while he dresses himself. “I want… I want to be able to win.”
Mirio, who still hasn’t pulled his pants all the way up, looks at him with a depth of expression that his strange eyes shouldn’t allow.
“Me too. We’ll get strong together.”
It isn’t an exclamation, or even an imperative. It’s just a statement, like he’s telling the future. Especially the “together” part.
Tamaki climbs off his bed just as Mirio stands straight. He’s taller, much taller than he was even a few months ago, and Tamaki feels small. The space in Tamaki’s room is much less than it used to be when they’d sleep, side-by-side, on the floor.
Now they’re face-to-face, close in a way that feels different than normal. Tamaki would be lying if he said he hadn’t thought of this moment. He would also be lying if he hadn’t decided to do everything in his power to keep this moment from happening. Too much could go wrong. He could lose Mirio forever. He could lose himself in Mirio, more than he already has.
But now that the moment is here…
“Can I kiss you?” Mirio asks the small distance between them. “Just once; we don’t ever have to do it again if you don’t like it.”
…he can’t bring himself to say no.
Tamaki really, really likes it. All his commitment to keep them just friends flutters away, leaving nothing but guilt behind. He suspects Mirio will sweep that away just as quickly.
“Sorry, Tamaki,” Mirio says —breathless— when they pull apart. “I just had to—”
Interrupting the apology, Tamaki kisses him again.
It can hardly be called sneaking if it’s planned beforehand, but when Mirio sneaks into Tamaki’s dorm room, their arms are around each other before Mirio manages to pull his sweatpants up all the way. They’ve kissed enough to know each other by heart, but it still feels so new when their lips crash together. Mirio is soft and sweet and permeable and Tamaki devours him.
After a lot of fumbling, a few nervous moments, several bad jokes, and Tamaki getting naked for once, they lie face-to-face on his bed, panting and sweaty. Tamaki grows squash and carrot flowers on his fingers and tucks the blossoms in the gold of Mirio’s hair. Mirio runs his fingers over the sensitive tips of Tamaki’s ears. It tickles.
“It was always gonna be you,” Mirio says just as Tamaki says “I’d never do this with anyone else.”
They blush, because that’s what you’re supposed to do when you’ve just lost your virginity. Actually Tamaki doesn’t know the right way to be after what they’ve done together, but it doesn’t matter because there’s not enough room on the bed for the two of them and his anxiety.
Mirio’s blunt fingers graze a spot on Tamaki’s neck and his eyes narrow. He laughs nervously at first, then with his full confidence. “I left a little mark,” he touches it again, chuckling. “Sorry, Tamaki.”
Tamaki bites his lip and surveys the mass of red bite marks and purpley-blue bruises covering Mirio’s neck and shoulders.
“I think I will be okay.”
— — —
After rescuing Eri, after Chisaki, after Sir Nighteye, after enduring what few other heroes could imagine, Mirio stops sneaking in to Tamaki’s room. In fact, he hardly leaves his room at all.
He comes out for class, and to train. In the gym, he is iridescent, sparkling with positivity and commitment to his goal.
The first quirkless hero.
There are jokes, and he seems his normal jovial self. Their classmates say he’s adapting. Their teachers look wary, but pleased at his steady progress. But Tamaki is not so sure.
Mirio trains with the first year, Midoriya, the most often. He pits his awe-inspiring-but-very-human strength against a student so strong his movements must be strictly controlled, otherwise he’ll shatter his own bones into pieces. As though he’s asking to be broken. The two of them are generally inseparable, as though there is something secret between them. Something that both of them share.
Something that Tamaki does not.
At night, Mirio’s door is shut. It doesn’t open, no matter how much Tamaki knocks.
He feels the pull when he draws the tentacle out from his pointer finger. It lengthens and then feels along the wall to establish a sense of direction. The sensory and chemical sensitivity is always something that takes a moment to get used to. Regardless of the number of times he’s bludgeoned his transformed fingers in order to acclimate himself to the pain of combat, there’s no way to numb oneself against the sensation of tasting hundreds of things at once.
The tentacle reaches the crack under Mirio’s dorm room window and squeezes through. When he stretches this far it always hurts, a clarifying sort of pain that is easily bearable, though it brings tears to his eyes if he has no distractions. He finds the latch and wraps around it, flicking the lock with the tentacle’s tip, then swinging the window open.
The process is silent. If it were any other time, he’d be thrilled with his stealth.
His other fingers transform, clinging to the outside wall and with a few false starts, he climbs into Mirio’s room.
He could not have come in during a more humiliating moment. Mirio’s holding his tattered costume, pulling it close to his bare chest, muttering words that Tamaki can barely hear, though he knows without question what they are.
“I’m still Lemillion. I’m still Lemillion.”
This is a moment that will make all the difference for both of them. And Tamaki must be as brave as he can be.
“No… not really,” he says, closing the window behind him. He’s terrified that he’s saying the wrong thing but plows onward. Because this is Mirio and he knows Mirio better than he knows himself. Knows what he needs.
“Saving a million people means a million hours of hard work. You haven’t reached that yet. You’ve never been Lemillion. It’s why you chose the name. To push yourself.”
Mirio doesn’t respond, just lowers his head onto his chest.
“So you haven’t lost him! He’s always… always just ahead of wherever you are. Where we are.”
He doesn’t know what he expects, but it’s not Mirio stumbling off of the bed and rushing across the room to fall into his arms. He’s heavy, but Tamaki is stronger than anyone (but Mirio) thinks.
Mirio is shaking and Tamaki’s cardigan is quickly soaking through.
“You’ve never been closer, though,” he says into his hair. “You saved her, and the rest of us.”
“I’m sorry,” Mirio hiccups, his voice sticky with tears. As though he has anything to apologize for. “Tamaki I’m so sorry. I wasn’t strong enough.”
Tamaki squeezes his broad shoulders. Too much tenderness, too much denial and he’ll start to cry too. And that’s not what Mirio needs.
“It’s going to be alright,” he pulls his arms tighter, tears gathering in his eyes. “We’ll get stronger together.”