Shinsou took one look at the papers he’d been handed, before looking up to frown at his father, “I refuse to work with a band that has an umlaut in their name.”
Aizawa ignored his son and instead continued handing him more paperwork, “Good thing your opinion doesn’t matter. Go fix them.”
The purple-haired man arched an eyebrow at the wording, “Fix them?”
“Yes, fix them. Is your hearing going? We signed them a month ago and Iida has requested a different band to work with.”
Shinsou blanched, “If Iida can’t work with them I don’t see how you expect me to do it.”
“Son,” Aizawa sighed, “If you want to take over Logical Ruse Records one day, you’re going to have to earn it. I spent years handling bands more chaotic than these kids. Think of this as a step towards being taken seriously in this business.”
It was a fair argument. Shinsou understood that his father was trying to put him through the wringer in hopes of making him better. That’s how he’d always been. His father often reminded him: “It might be uncomfortable, but you’ll be smarter and stronger for it once he’s done.” So he didn’t question his judgment. However, that also didn’t stop him from complaining.
Shinsou sighed, “Are they at least a talented band?”
His father brought a thoughtful hand up to scratch the scruff on his chin. “They need polishing, but they’ve got a good sound. Something a bit different from our usual line-up, but worth taking the risk for.” He turned to his son with a slightly amused smile, “I’m amazed they’ve made it this far. If they weren’t so close with each other I think they’d have fallen apart out of sheer ineptitude. Honestly, if their EP hadn’t been literally handed to me I would never have known them. Even with their cult band status, they aren’t going anywhere without a label.”
Hitoshi wasn’t a fan of what he was hearing, though it was reassuring to learn they’d amassed a following, even if it was only a small one. “And I’m supposed to ‘fix’ them?”
Aizawa ruffled Shinsou’s hair in a manner he knew the boy hated, “As much as I am loathed to remind you, you’re extremely talented at what you do. I’ve seen you act as assistant manager to some of our bigger headliners and do well. You have the calm and control this band needs. I think you’ll be a good fit. It’s about time one of them had a good head on their shoulders. They’re nice kids but an absolute trainwreck when it comes to common sense.”
“Iida didn’t help? He’s tamed any band you’ve thrown at him.”
“That’s exactly it,” his father hummed, “These kids aren’t the type to flourish under strict control. They need someone flexible who can handle a mess without getting heart palpitations like Iida did.”
Hitoshi winced. Considering what he’s been hearing about this band, it made sense that Iida wouldn’t be able to stomach them. Shinsou felt some pride at knowing his father had decided he was a good fit. Then again, he wasn’t sure he wanted to be the best option this time.
“Say that I agreed to your terms,” Hitoshi started.
“I’m your father and your boss; there aren’t any ‘terms’ to agree with here.”
“Say that I agreed to your terms,” Shinsou repeated, “does this mean you’ll finally let me manage unsupervised?”
Aizawa smirked, “You’ll want supervision with this group, but sure.”
This changed everything. So far, Hitoshi hadn’t run a tour without one of his fathers breathing down his neck. Hizashi was a lot more flexible with letting him find his own style, but Shouta was clearly trying to teach him the Aizawa Method. Which largely consisted of staring down venue bookers with a cold stoic look until they gave in, reminding the band involved that they were only as talented as they could be marketed, emphasizing his 15% cut of the profits when musicians got a little too excited about how much they’d make on a gig, and relentlessly forcing the band to practice both their music and public behavior. That general recipe hadn’t failed him yet, but there were a couple of changes Shinsou would make, and it was looking like he’d finally be able to put those into practice.
A chorus of yowling cats rang through the room, and Aizawa pulled his cellphone from his back pocket, “It’s your papa.” The man pressed a button and held it to his ear, grunting a wordless hello.
Hitoshi drowned out his father’s phone conversation by reading the material he’d been given. The band was called “The Sqwäd” and Shinsou was convinced they must play metal music before seeing their sound described as “punk rock with hardcore elements.”
Don’t umlauts only happen in metal bands? Who the hell are these people?
Aizawa cleared his throat to grab the other man’s attention, “Hizashi wants you to swing by his office before you leave.”
Shinsou smirked, “Should I tell him you send your love?”
Hitoshi snorted and took his leave without another word. He knew what his father was like when it came to business and him taking over managing this band had never been a choice. If the Aizawa Shouta decreed something to be so then it simply was.
The office building was covered in posters advertising new albums from the many bands they oversaw, they had ditched the cubicle theme for a more casual room of a few desks, and loads of CDs and sound equipment lined the tables and shelves. It’d look like a chaotic mess to anyone who didn’t work there, but there was a method to the madness. The interns they’d get from local music production schools would be the poor bastards that had to mill through it, and Shinsou had been in those shoes before so he knew how dreadful it’d be. He’d been helping out at Logical Ruse Records since he was old enough to walk- even if it meant just going from one dad to the other and bringing paperwork he didn’t understand. The company had started out in a small warehouse that still had things being stored from the previous owners in it. Now it was a sprawling and sleek office building with numerous studios, producers, managers, and musicians. Hitoshi was proud of his parents every single day.
He didn’t go through the phases that some children did of deciding when they grew up they wanted to be a fireman or a veterinarian. Instead, Shinsou walked to the front of his elementary school class and gave a presentation on his career as a “musician leader,” which his papa has never let him forget he said instead of “manager” or even “president”.
So, it’d be fair to say that he’s been waiting to be an officially unsupervised band manager since before he hit the two digits in age.
Shinsou held the now very important feeling paperwork against his chest. He was going to get this band into shape if it was the last thing he did, and his father would have no choice but to recognize his ability and promote him from a manager’s lackey to a proper professional.
When he got to Hizashi’s office door he knocked three times before waiting for the inevitable “Come in, listener!” Upon hearing it, he opened the door and was swept into his papa’s arms for a surprise hug. “How’s my baby doing today?”
“Your baby is 24 years old,” The purple-haired man grumbled against the pair of headphones wrapped around his papa’s neck.
Hizashi mimed wiping a tear with the hand that wasn’t holding his son, “They grow up so fast.”
Shinsou rolled his eyes. He loved his papa to pieces and that included his many dramatics.
“What did you call me in for?”
Yamada released his son from the hug and went to lean against his desk, “I heard you got your own band today! Those nice kids from Musutafu?”
“You’ve met them already?”
Hizashi worked primarily as a DJ and ran his own radio show from within the Logical Ruse Records building. He’d been successful as a musician before he and Aizawa had gotten their company fully running, and had been in a hiatus where he worked primarily as his husband’s assistant before coming back into the public eye after things settled down. If anyone understood what being a known musician was like, it was his papa, and it was a great help when they started to manage bands together. Present Mic was a name people respected, and it went far when it came to enticing other bands into working with them.
“Yes, I saw them open for that pop-punk band...ah, right, Haughty Bottoms.”
It had taken a while for Shinsou to stop snorting when he heard their name, but he’d finally composed himself after working with the group for a year or so.
Hitoshi adjusted the sleeves of his button-up, “So dad was right about their cult status? That’s a pretty big name to be under.”
“Yes,” Yamada agreed, “poor Iida looked a mess that night, but they played well. I hear he’s taking a leave of absence.”
Shinsou’s eyes went wide.
They forced Iida into a leave of absence?! Just who are these people…
His papa must have noticed his concern as he added, “Oh, nothing to worry yourself over! They merely reminded Tenya that it was time for him to take at least a week-long vacation. He’ll be back by Sunday.”
That made Shinsou feel a bit better, but anyone who was wild enough to unsettle Iida must have been quite a tough case.
Hizashi smiled widely, “I think you’ll get along with them! Watch out for their drummer, though. He spits.”
Shinsou blinked, “He...spits?”
“When he’s angry, yes. Which is unfortunately very frequent. Don’t worry, he never spits at people. At least I’ve never seen him do it. The point is, I’m sure you’ll do great.”
“Thanks. I’m real confident now,” Shinsou deadpanned.
Hizashi walked over and ruffled Shinsou’s hair the same way Aizawa did- and he knows they do it on purpose- before saying, “I’m very proud of you, son. Do your best, okay?”
Hearing those words renewed his strength, and Hitoshi nodded firmly. His resolve was steeled; he was going to rock the hell out of this band and whip them into shape. They weren’t just going to go on tour...they were going to get into Summer Sonic. It was one of Japan’s two biggest music festivals and a lofty goal for any band, but Shinsou didn’t care. He’d pull this band together and take home even more accolades for Logical Ruse Records.
All that was left was to meet the band and start his reign as manager, and the home address he had for them wasn’t too far. It was time to go to work.
“I’ll see you later, pops,” before leaving he turned to lazily grin at Hizashi, “Dad sends his love.”
Shinsou looked down at his phone to check his location. The address showed the band’s home would be just a few blocks down from the main Musutafu train station, and he felt like he’d already passed a number of streets.
It was Fall and the wind was just chilly enough to make him shiver a bit under his bomber jacket. The leaves were turning and crackled softly from under his boots as he trudged by a line of houses. Shinsou then heard a loud bang and whipped his head to the right to find smoke curling out from under a garage door.
Hitoshi ran towards the building and saw more smoke slipping from the crack between the ground and the garage. Strange occasional banging noises started and Shinsou knew he didn’t have time to spare. He grabbed the handles and pulled up with all his strength to find five people waving their hands wildly and coughing.
Shinsou threw himself to the side and only narrowly missed being hit by a flying drumstick.
A gruff voice shouted, “You fucking idiot! What kind of moron turns on a smoke machine in a small room!?”
Hitoshi watched the smoke clear to reveal the five forms more clearly. A girl with pink skin and horns was holding one hand over her mouth and the other was using a microphone stand to wave smoke from her. Her green septum piercing and hoop earrings glinted among the artificial fog. She was giggling and snorting interchangeably while watching the others try and waft the smoke away.
The tallest figure, a man with a mohawk and oddly large elbows, was laughing so hard he was crying. He kept trying to speak but ended up back in a chuckling fit the second he saw the shocked expression on the redhead who stood across from him. His sneakers were slightly shiny from the same liquid that covered half the floor, but he was too lost in hysterics to notice.
The aforementioned redhead looked dreadfully confused and was fussing with his now wet hair, his bass guitar hung at his side. Every time he coughed Shinsou could see his sharp teeth peek out from within his mouth.
The gruff voice from earlier came from the still-shouting ash-blonde who sat behind a drum kit. The bass drum read “The Sqwäd” with two small skulls where the umlauts should be. His two silver lip piercings stretched into a sneer while the man yelled. Beside him were a bin of drum sticks that he was threatening the others with.
Finally, the smoke billowed far enough away from the last person that Shinsou could see a blonde man laughing and dodging another thrown drumstick while hiding his instrument behind him, “Watch the guitar, dude!” His torn skinny jeans were soaked up to the ankle with whatever liquid he’d been pouring into the overworked fog machine, and the knocked over bottle of it was kicked to the side by his dusty converse. The blonde’s blue shirt was ripped all over and held together largely by safety pins, but Shinsou didn’t focus on that once the man finally turned to look at him.
Hitoshi didn’t like to use terms like angelic, and the man certainly looked far too mischievous for that, but such pretty yellow eyes and hair gave him a soft appearance. His nose ring was purple, which Shinsou greatly approved of, unlike the many rainbow-colored studs in his ears. The blonde’s cheeks were ruddy from coughing, and his thin eyebrows were knitted in confusion at seeing a stranger holding up their garage door.
The ash-blonde behind the drum angrily spat from across the room, “and just who the fuck are you?”
“Bro,” the redhead said in a calming voice, “what if he’s the new dude from Logical Rose Records?”
“It’s Logical Ruse, actually,” Shinsou butt in, “and you must be The Sqwäd…”
The blonde guitarist shot a pair of finger guns in his direction, “Yeah, but you can call me handsome and available!”
It was about to be a very long day.
This story is going to include a dedication in each chapter to a member of my ShinKami fam. In alphabetical order, so nobody has preference over another.
Today is a shout-out to AkabaneKayo!
You are so precious to me! Thank you for always believing in me and being an amazing writer (She does ShinKami stuff too!)
“I think I’ll just stick to calling you all by your names,” Hitoshi said, surveying the odd collection of characters in front of him.
Redhead snorted, clearly amused by the guitarist’s rather blunt pick-up line, “Pfffft, handsome and available!”
The lanky man with the mohawk drawled, “With a pitch like that it’s like he’s never met himself.”
“Hey!” The blonde whined.
Pink girl walked over and held her fist out for a bump, “I’m Mina Ashido! I sing and shred on the electric violin.”
Shinsou looked at her hand before awkwardly bumping his own fist against hers, “I’m Hitoshi Shinsou, your new manager.”
“And I’m Eijirou Kirishima! I play bass, but you could probably tell,” he smiled, gesturing to the instrument he held, “Welcome aboard, dude!”
The ash-blonde simply glowered from behind the drum kit, so Kirishima volunteered to introduce him. “That’s Bakugou. I’d tell you his first name but he’d just get angry.” he paused, “Well, angrier.”
“Hanta Sero,” the tall man added, “I’m second guitar and keys.”
The flirtatious blonde practically jumped forward for his own fistbump, “And I’m Denki Kamin-”
Shinsou smirked, “Handsome and available, right?
Denki beamed, “You’re not wrong, but I love hearing it!”
“We’re the Sqwäd!” The guitarist pointed to the bass drum that had their name crudely drawn onto it with a sharpie, as though Shinsou couldn’t figure out the name of the band he was now managing. “You know, it’s like squad but with different letters and an umlaut.”
Hitoshi wrinkled his eyebrows, “You realize that would be pronounced like skuh-way-ed, right?”
“What? No, man. It’s got an A see?” Kaminari waved his hands in a vague attempt at better explaining himself.
Shinsou shook his head, “But if you use an umlaut…”
Bakugou shoved Sero from behind his drum, “I fucking told you guys that’s not how it sounds!”
Mina growled, “We can’t not use an umlaut, we’re punk!”
Shinsou sighed, “An umlaut is really more of a heavy metal thing.”
Ashido decided to blame Hitoshi instead of reconsidering the band’s poorly constructed name, and shouted, “You’re on thin ice, buddy!”
"Yeah!" Denki crossed his arms, the safety pins clicking against his bracelets as he did, “Don’t think that your hotness will excuse your slander!”
Hitoshi blinked, surprised, “You think I’m hot?”
The guitarist half-pouted before adding, “Not with that attitude Mr. Heavy Metal Professor!”
Eijirou groaned and held his head in both hands, “Dude, I just realized Testutetsu’s band could have been called Heavy Metal Professor and he didn’t do it!”
“Kiri!” Mina gasped, “You gotta call him!”
The purple-haired man had only shared the same air as these people for two minutes and he was already overwhelmed. Imagining Iida trying to control the situation was both hilarious and depressing.
How the hell am I supposed to manage this?
Bakugou slammed a drumstick against the cymbal loudly and everyone shut up. Shinsou’s ears rang, but he seemed to be the only one surprised by this action.
“You gotta stop doing that,” Sero grumbled.
Bakugou ignored him with a growl, “If any of you fucks want The Sqwäd to be doing more than shitty opening gigs we have to pull our shit together!”
Kirishima looked at him fondly, “That was real manly.”
Sero rolled his eyes in response but didn’t speak out of turn. The whole band turned to look at Hitoshi with closer inspection.
Shinsou quietly took a deep breath, furtively looking down at his feet and moving slightly to the left before the smoke machine fluid could touch his boots. He needed to regain ground in this conversation and establish who was in charge. He was going to be responsible for them, and he had a feeling it was like being with a pack of wild dogs. He had to establish dominance.
He cleared his throat before speaking with an air that implied he didn’t care what the answer was, “I heard you scared off Iida. Should I expect the same treatment?”
“That wasn’t our fault,” Mina argued, “Some people just clash, you know? He wasn’t really our type.”
“Luckily, you’re exactly Denki’s type,” Sero drawled.
The blonde guitarist swatted the other man’s shoulder, “Dude, shut up!”
A large part of Hitoshi didn’t believe him. It was the same part that told him he’d never be as good as his fathers, that he’ll never get friends, that he’ll just keep being alone forever...Shinsou didn’t want to listen to that voice, but he never seemed able to escape it. No matter how loud these people are, he’s still going to end up in his lonely apartment tonight with no one but his fluffy cat, Mouse, for company.
He decided to change the subject, “Present Mic said you opened for Haughty Bottoms the other day? Is that the largest show you’ve booked?”
“Well,” Kaminari started with a look of embarrassment, “Iida was the one who got us that gig. We, uh, aren’t that good at getting them on our own.”
Shinsou was unsurprised.
“How exactly did you get shows booked before him?”
Kirishima chimed in, “We’d take turns!”
Sero elaborated, “Mina is too scattered when asking but has the best odds. Kirishima was always too nice about people saying no and didn’t put up a fight when they tried to rip us off. Bakugou, on the other hand, put up too much of a fight. He’s more of a yell-them-into-submission kinda guy, and thanks to that we’re actually banned from a couple of places…”
Kaminari chimed in, “And Sero would try to bribe them but they never went for it. He didn’t have the cash for it anyway.”
Sero scowled, “At least I don’t embarrass myself in front of them.”
Mina became excited at the reminder, “Oh! Denki, tell him the line you gave that guy at the last place!”
The blonde blushed and mumbled something he couldn’t hear. When Shinsou gestured for him to raise his voice, Kaminari said, “Is that a stage we’re playing at or will a blowjob get us a gig?”
Shinsou furrowed his brow, “You said that ?”
Denki shrugged, “I still don’t understand how that didn’t work. Like, wouldn’t you say yes to a blow job?”
“Are you actually asking me?”
Kaminari flashed another grin, “I dunno, do you have a place we can book a gig at?”
Shinsou sighed heavily, “I think I’m starting to see what the problem is.”
“So you can fix it?” Kirishima asked, eyes hopeful.
“I can try,” Hitoshi looked to Bakugou, understanding that he was the one making the decisions. “I was told you have a ‘cult following’ by Aizawa, is that true?”
Katsuki sneered, “What, you think we can’t get one?”
Mina pulled up her phone and hummed, “Well, we only have sixty-nine followers on Spotify.”
“Sixty-nine?” Sero looked elated, “Nice!”
Kaminari clutched his chest, “Guys! We gotta stop! We can’t get any more followers or we’ll ruin it!”
Sero patted him on the shoulder, “Nah, man, we just get it up to four twenty.”
The two high-fived and Shinsou felt the total IQ in the room drop a couple of points.
“Neither of those numbers are high enough,” Hitoshi interrupted. “We’re hitting at least five hundred by the end of the year.”
“Five hundred ?” Kirishima gasped, “You really think we can get there?”
“Obviously. Even without this extra,” Bakugou gestured to Shinsou with a dismissive flick of his wrist, “We’re hitting higher numbers than that, Shitty Hair.”
“This extra is going to be in charge of getting your act together,” Hitoshi reminded him sternly, “I’m not expecting friends but I am expecting you five to listen to me.”
The band, sans Katsuki, looked sheepish.
“Alright,” Shinsou corrected, “I expect you to try and listen to me.” He made eye contact with Bakugou, “Or is losing a place on a well-known label worth your pride?”
Katsuki clicked his tongue in an agitated manner but didn’t argue. The other four looked impressed.
Hitoshi continued, “Now, when exactly is your next show?”
Kaminari jumped to answer, “Tomorrow night! We were rehearsing when you came in. How’d you know where to find us, anyway?”
“It’s my job to put out metaphorical fires, but I thought I’d be doing that literally when I saw the smoke coming from your building. You’re banned from touching that machine again, by the way.”
“No smoke machine? Boof,” Denki sighed. When Shinsou looked perplexed Kaminari elaborated, “It’s a portmanteau! ‘Big’ and ‘oof’ makes boof- and that was a big oof.”
Hitoshi was, quite frankly, surprised the blonde knew the word portmanteau. He was also surprised by how cute the blonde looked when he was proud of himself.
No. I have to focus.
“Here’s what’s going to happen,” Shinsou made sure to meet eyes with every band member as he spoke, “Do everything the same way you usually do and finish tomorrow night’s show. I’ll be in attendance taking notes. Feel free to make the same messes, it’ll help me figure out what needs to be fixed.”
Kirishima cocked his head, “Have you ever heard us play before?”
“I got your information from Aizawa a couple of hours ago,” Shinsou couldn’t help himself, he wanted to tease them a bit in return for their craziness. “I figured I’d come see you all in person and find out who had forced Iida into retirement.”
“Oh shit,” Denki gasped, “He retired?!”
For the first time, Sero looked distressed, “He texted me just last night that he was only taking a week off!”
Before he could correct them, Mina sighed, “Iida was so great, though! A total band dad, too.”
“More like a total band daddy, right Sero?” Kaminari elbowed the other guitarist while wiggling his eyebrows.
The mohawked man narrowed his eyes, “You have three seconds to run before I tape you to the bottom of our van.”
“Eep!” Denki cried and hopped over the fog machine to hide behind Shinsou.
Hitoshi panicked quietly, coughing into his fist while composing himself. “Iida isn’t retiring. I just wanted to see if you were paying attention.”
Kaminari tugged on the sleeve of Shinsou’s bomber jacket, “So Band Daddy is gonna be fine?”
Sero skin flushed, “Stop calling him that!”
Hitoshi couldn’t help himself, “Yes. Band Daddy will be fine. I’ll be sure to let him know you’re worried.” Shinsou could already imagine texting Tenya when he got home and telling him about his own experiences with the infamous Sqwäd. The other man was probably planning what clothes to wear for the next week and a half.
“Listen here, Resting Bitch Face,” Bakugou stared him down, “If you’re gonna play around like that I won’t have a problem rearranging your teeth. Got it?” The ash-blonde lifted a hand and small explosive sparks rose from his palm. Shinsou thought it was a fitting quirk, but he couldn’t get over being nicknamed Resting Bitch Face.
Before he had a chance to argue it, Kirishima jumped in, “Are we sharing quirks? I know mine isn’t flashy, but it sure keeps me safe in a mosh pit!” The redhead’s face half hardened while he spoke, his body looking similar to a rock in hardness and shape. "I harden my fingertips so I never need to use a pick!" The jagged look contrasted sharply with his sweet smile, the man clearly excited to share what was usually kept pretty private by the casual public.
Mina clapped her hands, “Watch this!” When she separated her fingers Shinsou could see a sticky substance clinging to both palms. A substance that was clearly corrosive. He hoped she never lost control of her quirk while holding a fancy club’s microphone.
Sero, appeased by finding out that Iida is not ending his entire career based on their chaotic methods, rolled up his sleeves with a grin. At first, Hitoshi couldn’t understand what he was looking at. Then he noticed the man’s elbow had a trail of tape attaching it to his equally tape-covered black guitar. With a tug on his hand, he lifted the instrument up and into his arms for a dramatic finishing pose.
Lastly, remembering that Kaminari was still hiding behind him, Shinsou turned to see the blonde reaching up to touch his cheek with one finger. The second it met his jaw he felt a sharp shock and the blonde laughed. “Aw, man. Usually that's a great gag, but your hair doesn’t look any different!” Hitoshi watched the blonde’s hands with a new wariness, and couldn’t help but be particularly aware of the very conductive liquid on the floor.
“So, what’s yours?” Mina asked.
Shinsou hated this part. Most people kept their powers to themselves, and he preferred it that way. If they didn’t share with him then he didn’t have to share back. Hitoshi wasn’t ready to watch the friendly band members slowly turn more and more cautious as he described his abilities.
“I bet it’s something super cool,” Denki held a thoughtful hand to his chin, and Shinsou took a step back. He needed more space between them or he wasn’t going to be able to focus. Time to move the spotlight.
Hitoshi matched gazes with their singer, “I’m guessing you aren’t the headliner for tomorrow’s show?”
Mina nodded, looking put out, “Yeah, we’re opening for Damp Hawk. They play at ten and we play at nine.”
Which, Shinsou knew, meant that the show would actually start at ten and the main band wouldn’t play until almost midnight. Show business was never right on time, and getting musicians wrangled was difficult enough- even with mature and cooperative band members. Hitoshi dreaded the thought of making sure these five kept to a timetable. “Then I’ll see you at eight.”
“Eight?” Sero looked confused, “We never get there that early.”
“That’s only an hour before you’re supposed to be on stage. Do you even do a soundcheck?”
“Of course we do a fucking soundcheck,” Bakugou countered, “It’s called the first song we play. We aren’t children, we know how to set up our equipment.”
“Besides,” Kaminari added, “I’m the one who powers all our stuff. Wires would just get in the way of Mina’s dancing. I like to keep things wireless.” He demonstrated this by putting his hand on a nearby amp. The machine was plugged into Sero’s guitar, and the lanky man played a couple of high noted plucks in a full loud reverb to show off their teamwork. Shinsou had to admit it would make for a hell of a show to see these quirks come to life on stage. He was also incredibly impressed that the blonde managed to play guitar and power their instruments all at once.
“We’ll sort out changes after the show. I’ll see you there at eight. Sharp.”
Four happy faces nodded, while Bakugou’s wore a determined frown.
“You got it, RBF!” Mina cheered.
Shinsou stood confused before remembering his new nickname, “Just...be there at eight.”
Today's shout out goes to Coldlykind!
Coldly, thank you for being the zany and loving friend that you are. I have immortalized Mouse in this fic (Maybe in the future I'll get Mert too!) They also write awesome ShinKami fanfics, so go read them!
The second Hitoshi got on the train was the moment his entire body suddenly acknowledged just how exhausting it had been to spend time with The Sqwäd. They seemed...nice? If only that made easier to stomach being bombarded by them. Shinsou can’t even imagine what it would be like to live with the band once they were on tour together. No wonder Iida stepped down from this position.
He took a seat close to the back of the train car and let out a deep breath. He could do this. He had to do this. His father wouldn’t accept failure, and neither would Shinsou. He’s worked too hard as an assistant to give up the second he gets a real chance at the big leagues. Hitoshi pulled his neatly wrapped earbuds out of his pocket and plugged them into his phone. He put on a classical track, Ludovico Einaudi’s Nuvole Bianche, and let himself sink into the music.
Shinsou was never a fan of loud music. Especially when he was feeling anxious- which was often if he thought about it. He was about to get a crash course in forcing himself to like punk rock, but that could all start tomorrow. Right now he only had to listen to the powerful chords of a beautiful grand piano and feel the soft hum of the train beneath his feet.
Hitoshi wasn’t sure how many songs he had listened to by the time his phone buzzed to signal he had received a text from his father.
Dad: Check the charts.
Shinsou pulled up the Billboard app on his phone and scrolled to see “Present Mic” was in the #2 spot. He was always proud of his papa, but seeing his moniker top the charts with every new song and album always brought a fresh wave of admiration and love. Hitoshi switched back to his messages and texted Hizashi.
You: Congrats. Are we celebrating tonight?
It was a tradition to gather when his papa made the charts or a band attached to Logical Ruse Records made it into the top 3. Shinsou had moved out of the house years ago but Eri still lived with them. It had been a while since he’d been to his family home, and he was salivating at the thought of his papa’s cooking.
Papa: yes!!! im making pasta
That settled it. Shinsou was definitely going to see his family tonight.
He peeked out the train’s window to see which station they were arriving at and found he still had three stops to go. Plenty of time to figure out how he was going to describe his interaction with The Sqwäd to his inevitably amused parents and 16-year-old sister.
Shinsou had barely managed to ring the doorbell when it opened and Eri rushed out to hug him. His sight was immediately filled with white hair, and he reflexively leaned towards the right to dodge her horn.
“Big brother! I missed you! You never visit!”
“I was here last week,” Hitoshi mumbled but she ignored him entirely to continue talking.
“Papa is finishing up in the kitchen and Dad put me in charge of setting the table. Can you help me? I hate setting the table.”
Hitoshi took his boots off upon stepping inside and placed them neatly by his family’s array of shoes. The place looked as it always did. Homey and inviting but cluttered as well. Recording equipment, stacks of vinyl, cat toys that Eri played with more than the cats did, and his dad’s impressive book collection lined the hall. It had driven Shinsou insane as a child because, unlike the rest of his family, he lived best in a simple and neat fashion. Nothing loud or flashy. Just the necessities and a couple of things he brought with him from home to remind him of his parents and sister. The only thing you could argue his apartment was cluttered with was photographs, and even those were cleanly framed and positioned.
Hitoshi spied his father sitting on the couch and reading a book. One of his hands stroked their cat Saffy, who was tightly curled on his lap. The black-haired man looked up to greet him with a nod before returning to his novel. Shinsou had seen both his parents this morning so he didn’t expect the sort of welcome home he got from Eri.
He could smell basil and tomatoes in the air. He paused to breathe it in and he smiled at the memory of many nights where they all ate at their dinner table while being regaled with musician horror stories- age appropriate, of course. His father still had a fit if Shinsou swore in front of Eri.
“Hitoshi, are you listening?” the girl whined with a downturned mouth.
“Not even a little bit,” Shinsou answered honestly.
She rolled her eyes, unable to be really mad at him but still showing her annoyance. When Eri was first adopted she was a perfect angel, but growing up the daughter of Aizawa and Hizashi gives you a bit of an attitude. It certainly gave Hitoshi one. She’d become properly sassy but, as obnoxious as she could get, he need only remember how scared and small she used to look before realizing that he liked her better as a troublemaker. They’d both gotten into loads of trouble as kids, even if they were 6 years apart.
Eri wasn’t immune from the teenage need to rebel, but she was such a sweet girl that her idea of rebelling was staying up late on the weekends and dying a streak of her hair purple to match her brother- something that their parents loved but pretended to dislike so she got the satisfaction of ‘disobeying’ them.
“Come help me! You’re so spacey. Did something bad happen?” His sister wore a face of concern, and Shinsou realized that he probably looked very strange just standing in their dining room silently.
Shinsou patted Eri on the head, “Sorry, sis. It’s been a day.”
She pulled him over to sit at the table and placed a cool hand on his forehead, “Are you sick? You don’t feel warm but you look awfully tired...” She paused, “Well, more tired than you usually do.” The girl pulled gently at the dark skin under his eyes.
Hitoshi smiled, “Did dad tell you I got my first band today?”
Eri lit up immediately in a bright grin, “You did?! Oh my gosh, that’s so cool! What are they like? When do you see them? Are you anxious? I’m sure you’ll do great. Do you go on tour soon?”
Hizashi walked into the dining room carrying a large serving dish filled with spaghetti, “Calm down, little one. You’ll hear all about it once we sit down to eat. Let your brother catch his breath.”
Shinsou was always thankful that his papa had the uncanny ability to get Eri to settle herself when she got particularly excited.
“But I want to hear about it now!”
“Then you better get your dad and tell him dinner is ready,” the blonde man smiled.
Eri ran out of the room calling for their father, and Shinsou smiled at her antics. She might have gotten taller and sassier but she was still the starstruck little girl who was proud of her brother. Making her smile was reason enough to come home.
“Congrats on your number two spot,” Shinsou looked at his papa with quiet pride. “Not that it comes as a surprise.”
“Forget the congratulations,” Hizashi set the serving dish down on the table, and pushing aside the pile of silverware that Eri hadn’t set out, “Where’s my hug?”
Shinsou stood and went to squeeze his papa around the waist. The embrace was a short one but he already felt a bit healed from the day he’d had. His family always knew how to take care of him.
He loved them so dearly.
Grumbling was heard from the other room and soon Aizawa, being dragged by his daughter, was brought into the dining room.
Hizashi nodded and undid his apron to reveal his usual loud fashion sense. A mustard yellow shirt and tartan colored pants that would look ridiculous on anyone else, but his papa wore it with such confidence that you accepted it immediately.
Aizawa pulled out his chair and sat down heavily, grabbing himself a fork and knife from the pile, “Thanks for setting the table, Eri.”
The girl laughed, sitting down across from Shinsou and taking her own set of silverware, “You’re welcome!”
Hitoshi leaned over the table and set the table with the remaining forks and knives, as well as soft white napkins.
“See, Eri? It’s not that difficult,” the purple-haired man said. Eri stuck her tongue out in response.
Few things gave Shinsou as much happiness as being a little shit to his sister did. Sometimes Hizashi would scold him for it, but Aizawa vocally encouraged it when his husband wasn’t around.
His papa took the stack of plates and handed one out to each family member, before taking one and filling it with pasta. He made his way through the plates shortly and soon everyone had spaghetti sitting in front of them.
Aizawa raised a glass, “Congratulations on another good ranking.”
Eri, Shinsou, and Hizashi lifted their own glasses and clinked them against each other before taking a sip.
The white-haired girl chanted in her seat, “Speech, speech, speech!”
“I promised myself I wouldn’t cry!” Hizashi held his fork in front of his face like a microphone and mimed wiping a tear from his eye with his other hand. “I’d like to thank the Academy, my friends, and maybe my family...but only if they have manners at the dinner table tonight.”
“Booo!” Eri cried before laughing.
Shinsou snorted and took a bite of pasta. His papa always made the tomato sauce from scratch and it was just as delicious as he’d remembered.
“Congratulations are in order for someone else as well,” Hizashi added, a glint in his eye as he looked at Shinsou. “Another cheer to our boy and his first real managing job!”
Hitoshi scratched the back of his neck, “Congratulate me after I’ve done something. So far I’ve only met them and that was more than enough.”
“Were they why your day was bad?” Eri asked hesitantly.
“I wouldn’t call it bad, but it was exhausting. I found them ankle deep in fog machine liquid. They were in a small garage and trying to use one. Smoke was everywhere.”
Hizashi burst into laughter, “We couldn’t have picked a better band for you to work with!”
Aizawa nodded, “You could learn a lot from each other.”
Shinsou had absolutely no idea what it was he could learn from them and it must have shown on his face since his dad elaborated, “They can teach you how to loosen up and help you fine-tune your ability to adjust to whatever band you’re working with. Meanwhile, you can teach them not to drown in stage fog solution.”
Hitoshi turned to Eri, “Iida was working with them but they were too much for him to handle.”
Eri looked incredibly impressed that Iida had met his match, and even more impressed that their parents decided to give Shinsou a chance.
“That reminds me,” Hitoshi smiled, “Were you aware that they call Iida ‘Band Daddy’?”
Aizawa choked on his water and had to have his back slapped by his husband in order to compose himself.
Eri shrieked and had to physically cover her mouth with her hands to make it stop. If Shinsou didn’t know she was adopted he’d have thought she had inherited their papa’s quirk.
“Band Daddy?” she gasped.
“Band Daddy,” Shinsou confirmed.
Once he’d stopped choking, Aizawa cleared his throat and added, “I shouldn’t be surprised. I’ve met them already and I should have seen that sort of thing coming.”
“What are they like?” Eri asked.
“They’re...colorful?” Shinsou shrugged, “And loud. Very loud. It’s a punk band.”
His sister couldn’t have looked happier, “Oh my god, you’re managing a punk band ?” She collapsed into a giggle fit, “Please tell me you’ll dress the part?”
Hizashi suddenly looked very serious, “I never thought about that. We’re going to have to update Hitoshi’s entire look, won’t we?”
“I’m sure I’ve got something,” Shinsou argued.
He didn’t want to change his style. He liked things understated. Dark colors and simple tones. His dad dressed the same way, but Hitoshi would never admit that was why he did it. He was distraught when he learned his hair wouldn’t fall flat the way his father’s hair does. Hizashi comforted him by reminding him that Aizawa’s hair goes straight up, just like Shinsou’s, when he’s using his quirk.
“Define ‘something’,” Aizawa said.
Shinsou thought back to his closet at home. He wasn’t going to wear anything dirty no matter how ‘punk’ that might be.“Uh...I’ve got a nice sweater?”
Aizawa had never looked more disappointed then he did now, “Son, you can’t go to a punk concert in a nice sweater .”
“He’s right,” Hizashi added, “What would the neighbors say?”
“I’m lending you a spiky bracelet,” Eri giggled from her side of the table. “Actually, you should keep it. We’re clearly going to have to work on this. Don’t worry, big bro. We’ll make you cool.”
“Thanks,” Shinsou groaned. “You’re too kind. Really.”
“We’ll make it work, son,” Hizashi smiled. “Please tell me you own something plaid?”
Hitoshi bit his lip, “Just black and shades of gray for the most part. Some white? I have a couple of browns too, I think.”
“Okay, black is a start,” Eri said encouragingly, “What about things like belts, wristbands, stuff like that?”
“I have belts.”
“Not ones like mine,” their papa said firmly, “I’ll lend you some. They’ve got studs. The literal least you can do is studs.”
Shinsou caught himself imagining The Sqwäd reacting to his new look. He can practically hear Kaminari giving him a wink and saying “studs on a stud, huh?”
Hitoshi must have snorted out loud because all eyes came to rest on him.
“Sorry, I was just thinking about earlier.”
Eri’s smile became sinister, “You’re blushing!”
Shinsou brought a hand up to his cheek but found it was cool to the touch, “Am not!”
The girl’s grin only deepened, “No, but you are now and that’s totally proof you were thinking about something you don’t want us knowing! What’s his name?”
Hitoshi feigned ignorance, “His name?”
Eri rolled her eyes, “The guy you were thinking about!”
Hizashi and Aizawa were watching him carefully, and Shinsou could have heard a pin drop in the silence.
“I was just thinking about the band and how they’d respond to a new look. I think they’d make fun of me.”
Aizawa frowned, poking at his pasta with his fork, “They aren’t already making fun of you?”
Hizashi chuckled, “They won’t be making fun once Eri and I get through with you. Now go back to the part where Hitoshi has a crush on someone.”
“I don’t have a crush! One of the guys hit on me but I think it was just a joke.”
“Who is he? What does he look like? What does he play? Is he a singer? I feel like you’d get involved with a singer.”
Shinsou snorted, “You’re mistaking me for our dad, Eri.”
They high-fived over the table. Rudely, judging by Hizashi’s disapproving look.
Aizawa sighed, “Which one was he?”
“The blonde,” Hitoshi mumbled.
His dad looked distressed immediately, “Oh god, not the angry one?”
“No! Definitely not. The guitarist. He’s got that weird black streak in his hair? Really loud?”
Hizashi snapped his fingers, “Ah! Yes, now I remember him! Funny little guy, but sweet. An excellent guitarist. He powers their instruments too, doesn’t he? It was quite a show to watch.”
Shinsou wouldn’t say he had a ‘crush’ on the boy. He was cute, certainly, and goofy but with a soft smile- even when it was mischievous when he last saw it. He also clearly cared about Iida’s wellbeing when Shinsou teased him about forcing the straight-laced man into retirement. Not too bad for someone Hitoshi probably didn’t have a crush on. At least so far.
“Ooooh, a guitarist?” Eri prodded, “Is he cute?”
Eri looked up at Aizawa, “That means he’s cute, right?”
Shinsou didn’t need to look at Aizawa to know the man wore that special sadistic smile he only had on when one of his kids was being lovingly tortured by another member of the family.
“It doesn’t matter. I know better than to get involved with someone I’m managing. None of you have to worry.”
A heavy silence fell upon the table.
Shinsou’s forehead wrinkled in confusion, “What?”
Eri started to giggle, “That’s exactly how dad and papa got together!”
“What?” Shinsou’s voice broke. He’d only known his parents as creating Logical Ruse Records from the ground up. Together, full stop. He couldn’t even remember hearing about what their lives were like before they met.
“Oh my god,” Eri gasped, “You really didn’t know? Dad was Papa’s first manager!”
“His current and last manager,” Aizawa corrected before taking another bite of spaghetti.
Hizashi leaned over and pressed a kiss to his husband’s temple, “Yes. Nobody else pushes me around the way you do.”
“Gross!” Eri and Shinsou chorused.
Aizawa blushed before biting out, “He meant on stage, you dirty-minded brats.”
Hizashi laughed more loudly than anyone would have wanted, “I wonder if we’ll see history repeat itself. You always did copy Shouta in everything…”
“Son,” Aizawa said sternly, “Do you need me to tell you not to date blondes or have you figured that out yourself?”
Shinsou groaned, “I’m not dating anyone. I’m going to marry my work, and that’s final.”
Eri patted him on the hand, “It’s okay, big brother. I’ll support you and your inevitable blonde punky boyfriend.”
Hitoshi buried his face in his hands, “Gee thanks.”
Today's shout out goes to Dadzawa!
A perfect night at the EraserMic house for a perfect spouse. You are 1/3 of Team Parents and Spooky and I couldn't be luckier if we tried. Thank you for being you, Daddy!
Chapter 4: Are You Ready?
Here are the models of their instruments:
Denki's guitar is a Gibson Flying V: http://www.medallionflyingv.com/V90_body.jpg
Kirishima's bass is a Music Man Stingray: https://images.samash.com/sa/MF8/MF83412XX.fpx?cvt=jpg
Sero's guitar is a Fender Player Telecaster: https://images.samash.com/sa/FPL/FPLYRTELE-P.fpx?cvt=jpg
Bakugou's drums are a Tama Superstar Hyper: https://www.long-mcquade.com/files/21208/lg_fbk.jpg
And Mina's electric violin is a Cecilio Solidwood: http://comm-fab.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/09/cecilio-cevn-1w-electric-silent-violin-w-solidwood-ebony.jpg
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
After dinner, Shinsou was given the two bags of clothes and accessories his family had gathered together. He doubted they’d fit perfectly, but they’d insisted he wear them to tomorrow’s show. Hitoshi looked into one of the bags to see his sister’s dark purple studded wristband sitting on top and smiled. It was nice to see his family support him, but Shinsou still planned on wearing clothes that fit his own style. The Sqwäd would just have to deal with it. Though he did promise to wear his sister’s wristband, so he’ll at least bring that.
Once he got to his apartment he flopped down on the couch with heavy exhaustion. Meeting his new band was an experience that hadn’t fully set in yet.
I have it. I have my first real band. Holy shit.
Shinsou did a satisfied fist pump in his empty room. The smiling and goofy faces of his family looked back at him from numerous frames. Hitoshi dumped the two bags out onto the couch beside him.
Black, black, more black, a choker, wristbands, black, plaid, hair gel, hair clips, bracelets, leather jacket, patch-covered vest, black, a red tie with safety clips lining it, fingerless gloves, more plaid, a couple of t-shirts advertising other punk bands their record label has signed, and an envelope with hearts and anarchy symbols drawn on it.
Hitoshi plucked up the envelope from the pile and tore it open. He recognized his sister’s handwriting immediately.
Dear Big Bro,
I know that you probably plan on wearing your own stuff, but don’t. At least wear ONE thing from here. You’re going to be totally embarrassing if you dress like you usually do, but remember that- if someone gives you trouble- the most punk thing is to not give a shit (don’t tell dad I said shit!) and do your own thing!
All my love,
PS. Punk’s not dead, but you will be if you don’t send me pictures of yourself all dressed up for the show!
Hitoshi stifled a laugh. His family was the absolute best. He’d honor that by wearing two things from the pile. He already owned combat boots and his hair was a mess without him trying to style it- he certainly wasn’t going to be wearing a mohawk anytime soon. Either way, the selfie he’d take for Eri was definitely going to include a less-than-impressed facial expression.
He checked his watch and found it was twenty minutes till midnight. Of course, that meant nothing to his sleep schedule. He’d be lucky if he got 4 hours.
“Oh well, more time to study I guess.”
Shinsou packed the many clothes and accessories back into the two bags and went into the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee. He’d need the kick if he was going to plan their rise to the Summer Sonic stage.
Hitoshi woke up, begrudgingly, when the light that shone through his kitchen window had become too bright. He groaned and turned his head away, but resigned himself to starting his morning routine. Shinsou stood up and stretched his body to get the kinks out of his neck and back. He really should learn how to sleep in his own bed, but he’d fallen asleep watching a compilation of his father’s many interviews. If there was anyone who he needed to emulate as a manager it was Aizawa.
Hitoshi put the kettle on the stove and waited for it to boil. He had plenty of time before he needed to get ready for tonight’s show, and a part of him wondered what The Sqwäd must look like in the morning. Did they all live in that house? Did they meet up there for rehearsals only? Did they fall asleep in a giant pile of angry limbs and sore backs waiting for when they woke up? He’d learn first-hand soon. Going on tour with them, living out of a suitcase for half a year, he’d be doing these things someday. But not yet. He had to whip them into shape first, and he was prepared to do that. Literally, if that was what it took.
Shinsou walked back towards the table and sat down in front of his laptop. He pulled up his e-mail and clicked on the attachment he knew his father had sent him. When it opened, it was an extensive PDF document on The Sqwäd. It detailed their current line up, small facts about each player, list of songs and albums released, equipment used, and a final paragraph on things that each member of the band should work on. Aizawa might not be managing this band, but he’d certainly taken it upon himself to make things easy for Shinsou. If he hadn’t known how difficult the actual group was he might have been offended. Right now he’d take all the help he can get.
The obvious ones were there. Bakugou had to work on his rage-quit mentality when it comes to disliking the venue or a direction and critique; Mina had to learn how to better combine her dancing and singing so that they don’t take away from each other; Sero needed to work on his stage presence, with so many big personalities he tended to be overshadowed; Kirishima had to come out of his shell more, as well, and find his own stage persona. Lastly, Kaminari needed focus. He played guitar very well but he tended to get distracted from his own solos and get too involved with audience participation. Hitoshi found this somewhat ironic as Kaminari was the one who distracted him more than the others did. He had to get the boy out of his head.
It was hard to take the blonde seriously when he was so flirty. It seemed more like his personality than any actual desire for Shinsou. Hitoshi didn’t hate his own appearance but he understood he looked like the exhausted dour man he sometimes was. People with that much lightness to them deserve to be with those that shone just as bright. He’d take the compliment for what it was and move on. He was married to his work and cute boys would just have to come second to that. Shinsou would accept the man was eye candy and leave it at that.
Hitoshi spent the rest of his day reading up on their specific equipment and compared their band to others in a similar genre to help aid him in finding appropriate venues he can reach out to after tonight’s show. He was going to jump in with both feet, all he needed now was to see them perform live.
Hours later, checking his watch reminded him that he had only a small while until he needed to leave the house and hop on the train. He leaped up and ran to his closet. After agonizing over the many similar options, he decided that a plain black shirt with short sleeves and a pair of coal colored jeans would do fine. He buckled the studded belt around his waist and the matching wristband went around his arm. He eyed the choker but decided it was too adventurous for him right now. He’d leave that look to their lead guitarist. Hitoshi pulled out his phone and took a picture of him looking suitably unhappy to his sister. She got what she wanted, after all, he was wearing a whole two items from the bag. As an afterthought, he grabbed his dark green bomber jacket and shrugged it on. He didn’t know how air-conditioned the venue might be, but he knew it would heat up once the band started playing. Especially at punk shows. Shinsou made sure to wear his toughest Doc Martens, he’d need heavy boots to keep himself out of harm’s way when the mosh pit started.
He made sure he’d grabbed his wallet, phone, notebook, and keys. He then pulled up directions to the club on his cell. Shinsou knew the general way but he didn’t want to risk getting there late. Especially if The Sqwäd decided to show up on time.
When he got to the venue it was 7:50 pm and he had ten minutes before he was scheduled to meet them. He spoke to the bouncer and introduced himself as the band’s manager, offering his business card and record label affiliation. The bouncer, a man with a quirk that let him expand horizontally by a few feet, had a perfectly suited ability for his job. Shinsou mentioned this and the man was flattered and invited him to wait inside for the band.
The club, named Rooster’s Nest, had a general bird theme inside. A fitting location for Damp Hawk to play tonight, with The Sqwäd as a (not quite as bird-based) opening band. The bartender greeted Shinsou when he sat down to wait.
He was still waiting for a half-hour later, and doors were due to open any minute. He cursed himself for not writing down the band’s number but decided that his only job was to watch and learn tonight. He’d get to chew them out for everything afterward, but he did tell them that they should act tonight as they normally would. His blood pressure wasn’t happy about it, but he’d do things their way.
The side door to the club slammed open with loud laughter, and Shinsou watched The Sqwäd make their way towards the stage in the empty club. Their laughing and joking stopped the second they saw Shinsou walking up to them with a very surly expression.
Hitoshi crossed his arms and met their mixed looks with a frown, “The doors open in approximately ten minutes, would any of you like to tell me what time you thought eight o’clock was?”
“Oh come on, this is the earliest we’ve ever gotten anywhere!” Mina smiled. She skipped by Shinsou without care and placed her violin case and amp neatly on the stage.
Sero nodded, “Yeah, I thought we’d be way later but somebody wanted to make a good impression” the mohawked man gave a snide grin in the other guitarist’s direction. Kaminari’s face went red but he walked past them both to crawl up onto the stage on all fours and start connecting their gear.
Kirishima was carrying practically half the drum kit in one arm, and his bass guitar case in the other, but he smiled widely in greeting, “Hey bossman! Whoa, this place looks way different empty.”
Bakugou held the rest of the kit, “Stop chatting eyebags up and get your shit onstage,” He leveled a smirk at Shinsou, “and we’ve got five minutes extra. I had a little talk with the bouncer.”
Hitoshi sighed. He thought giving them his best Aizawa expression would be enough to make them feel scolded, but it only shut them up for a moment before it was business as usual. He was going to have to get creative.
“The bouncer might have given you five extra minutes but I’m only giving you that ten. Unless you think you can’t get ready fast enough?”
Bakugou glared, “We’ll be ready in six.”
The purple-haired man was pleased to find Katsuki was as easily manipulated by his own pride as he’d guessed. At least with small things. Hitoshi had a feeling that Bakugou would stick to his guns if the subject mattered enough.
The Sqwäd hustled to get their things on stage, sometimes doubling back through the door to grab more gear. They were a well-oiled machine when it came down to crunch time. Shinsou noticed that their instruments were wireless, and powered by smaller battery sets hidden in the creases and on the backs of their relevant machines. These must be the things that Kaminari feeds into with his quirk once the show starts going. It’s certainly must be handy to be your own walking battery pack.
They talked amongst themselves while Shinsou watched.
Now that he got a better look, Shinsou observed Denki’s guitar. It was a Gibson Flying V with a bright yellow body and hand-painted black lightning bolts all over it. Shinsou couldn’t help but be reminded of the boy’s hair.
Kirishima had a cherry red Music Man Stingray Bass, impeccably polished and in perfect condition. It was obvious the man loved his instrument. He held it like you would your own baby.
Sero’s Fender Player Telecaster had originally been a rich burgundy but, whether it was for style or for budget, it was thoroughly covered in various colorful patterned tapes. Shinsou remembered the man also played keyboard but seeing there wasn’t one on the stage made him think it must be reserved for recording tracks only.
His attention was torn away once Mina carefully held her Cecilio Solidwood Electric Violin under her chin, and drew her bow across its strings. The distortion pedal she had hit with her foot earlier gave it a biting sound as it growled its way through an atonal scale.
Bakugou’s drum kit was a Tama Superstar Hyper, and despite having hit those drums harder than most musicians Shinsou had seen, the set had been kept in great condition. Bakugou might play loudly, but he clearly played with precision.
When Shinsou refocused onto the group of musicians, he found they stood there looking at him expectantly. He checked his watch to see they had made it in five minutes and twenty-six seconds. Hitoshi gave an approving nod, and the band looked victorious in response.
To show that he was leaving the rest of the show in their hands, Shinsou stepped back and made his way to the bar. He sat close enough to see the stage but far enough away to be kept from the moshpit. He needed to take notes and he wasn’t getting that done while sandwiched between twenty dancing punks.
The doors opened and The Sqwäd ran backstage, but not before blowing kisses and being generally hammy until Bakugou dragged the rest of them away.
Shinsou had a feeling he’d better stay on Katsuki’s good side because the man had certainly figured out how to wrangle the others.
People started filling the room. It was a crowd full of dark clothing, spiky hair, heavy boots, and impressive makeup. They looked excited about the show, a lot of them wearing shirts for the night’s main band Damp Hawk, but a few were wearing The Sqwäd merchandise. The band’s cult following was showing, and Shinsou was pleased to see it.
Hitoshi spied another purple-haired man not far from him, only slightly shorter than himself but with much smaller eyes, who was holding a video camera that focused on the stage. He tapped him on the shoulder, “Are you filming the whole show?”
“I have permission,” the man added haughtily, “I’m press.”
Shinsou knew that even “press” didn’t get to film the entire show for free, and The Sqwäd hadn’t mentioned working with any production company to have the night filmed.
“A likely story,” Hitoshi responded.
“And just who do you think you are to speak to me this way?” The other man asked bitingly.
Shinsou smiled grimly, “I’m their manager. Now, why don’t you tell me what you’re actually doing here?”
This shocked the cameraman, who took a step back in alarm. “Their manager? But the Sqwäd’s manager recently retired. I won’t be fooled so easily.”
Now that pissed Shinsou off, “You think our record label doesn’t replace managers? I don’t think you understand who you’re speaking with.”
“I told you, I’m filming the show. I have permission!”
Hitoshi growled, “Well you haven’t gotten permission from me .”
The lights went off and the crowd started to scream and holler. A reverb-heavy guitar chord rang out, and Shinsou heard the drumsticks clacking against each other in the newfound quiet.
“One, two, three, GO!”
The lights burst on all at once, and Shinsou forgot all about the man beside him. He couldn’t take his eyes off the band he now represented.
Mina strutted out wearing an army green jumpsuit covered in patches with the words “ROCK OR DIE” painted across the low cut chest. Her platformed back boots rose to right below her knees, and she stomped on the stage to keep time with the drums. She leaned forward, her hair sparkling in the club’s floodlights, and screamed into her microphone.
The crowd screamed back.
Kaminari stood in a tight cheetah print shirt, legs covered by equally tight black pants covered in buckles and shouted, “ARE YOU FUCKING READY, MUSUTAFU?” while starting to strum a high energy beat. The electricity crackled as he powered the equipment around him.
The crowd continued to make noise at the display, and Shinsou tried not to eye the way Denki’s legs looked in his scuffed up heeled boots.
The drums increased from being a background element to suddenly exploding into the front in a thundering solo. Bakugou’s black muscle shirt already looked sweaty as he drummed with ferocity.
Sero’s mohawk danced in time with his body as he started to headbang. His hands flying across the strings as fast as his fellow guitarist. Even without a mic in front of him, Shinsou could still hear him shouting lyrics alongside Mina. His baggy Ramones shirt and plaid pants danced with his movements.
Kirishima’s red hair looked like fire under the hot lights of the club, and his face was perfectly serene despite his headbanging. He wore a t-shirt that probably wasn’t meant to be tight but was with his muscles, and a pair of burgundy pants folded up above heavy-duty work boots. His hair was gelled in place and didn’t move or sway with his body, but it didn’t stop him from thrashing around just as much as the rest of them.
Together, the five were an absolute sight to be seen. The first song they played must have been an old one since a quarter of the crowd was singing along at the top of their lungs. Shinsou found himself tapping his foot against the ground.
On occasion, Denki would share the mic with Mina during a chorus, and the two of them looked elated being onstage. All of them did. If Shinsou had first seen them at a gig he’d never guessed what they’d be like offstage. They just looked so...professional.
He felt the thrum of the guitars in his chest, and Mina’s singing slid between sweet and soulful before climbing up to scream at the right moments. She jumped around the stage showing off a rich collection of dance skills, but always managed to find her way back to the mic for when her time to sing had returned.
In-between songs they bantered brilliantly, it was obvious from the first moment that they were close and they shared stories from being on tour in the past and poked fun at each other if they’d miss a note or fuck up a chorus. At one point, during a pop-punk kind of song, some kid in the audience threw a bottle on stage. Mina caught it lightning fast with her hand and threw it right back, which made the crowd roar with a cheer.
By the third song, Bakugou’s shirt had become so sweaty that he took it off, to the catcalls of his bandmates, and Sero snagged the shirt to toss into the audience with a laugh. Some girls and boys screeched before chasing after it, while Bakugou threatened to get out from behind the drums to hit him. Mina took the hint and started the next song so he didn’t have the chance.
By the last song, their biggest hit judging by how the crowd screamed when Mina announced it, Shinsou was sure that he’d seen the same thing his parents had seen in this band. Incredible potential. It was no surprise they’d been chosen for the record label. Hitoshi caught himself feeling oddly proud.
“Sing it with us if you know it!” Denki shouted, before starting to play an intricate rhythm with his guitar that the drum and bass picked up shortly after. It was a fast-paced song with a lot of energy and a good choice for a closing piece. Shinsou had found himself forgetting he was there to critique more than once and had to force pen to paper for his notes. Mina picked up her electric violin and shredded a high pitched solo over the rest of the band while singing the lyrics just as loudly as she did with both hands free.
They ended the song and the crowd screamed alongside them on a final note, and Shinsou put his notebook back in his pocket.
There would be some changes made, but he couldn’t have asked for better proof that this band was coming with him to Summer Sonic.
Today's chapter is dedicated to Spawn!
You're one of my most loved people and this fic wouldn't exist without you. Thank you for being such a talented artist, writer, and friend. You are a treasure.
Thundering applause filled the air and The Sqwäd took their leave of the stage. Shinsou had noticed Kaminari looking a little dizzy by the last song and figured that, with how his quirk had held up for the full set, there would be some drawbacks. He hoped the blonde wasn’t too winded by the time he met up with them to go over corrections.
The bouncer from outside was now guarding the side entrance to backstage, he had seen Shinsou clearly talk to the band about management, and waved him into the roped-off hallway as he approached.
The hulk of a man smiled, “The green room is down the hall, first door on your left. They did great tonight!”
For someone so imposing he had a sweet manner about him when he wasn’t acting tough. Shinsou tried his best to smile politely in return, which became something the looked like more of a grimace, before walking down the hallway.
The walls were lined with photos of various bands and posters of big shows played years ago. The fluorescent lighting was dim and the whole hallway acted like a warped echo chamber for the buzzing of the crowd- who were raucously waiting for the main act to hit the stage.
Some laughter and hooting was heard from down the hall, and Shinsou realized he didn’t even need the directions from the bouncer, the band was plenty loud on their own.
Hitoshi tried to enter the room but had to quickly duck out of the way of a flying coke can.
Sero smiled, all teeth and boyish charm, “Whoa, RBF! Sorry, man. I was aiming for Mina.”
The five band members were strewn about around the room. Bakugou was lighting up a cigarette while Kirishima was excitedly talking to him, Mina and Sero were laughingly mocking each other and being a general disturbance, and Kaminari looked as if he were resting on a big leather couch.
Shinsou guessed it must have been pretty exhausting to power all their equipment and that the man deserved to sleep, but then he looked more closely and found Denki’s eyes were open slightly and he was babbling quietly to himself with a bit of drool escaping from the side of his mouth.
Hitoshi looked at Sero while pointing at Kaminari, “You’re just going to leave him there?”
“It’s fine. He does this every show. Totally fries his brain, but he’ll be up in a couple of minutes. Sometimes we see how many cans we can stack on his back until they fall over, but usually we just let him do his thing.”
“Don’t worry, lover boy,” Mina chirped, “Our Denki is fine. He just needs a little nap. A nap where he talks and drools, but a nap.”
Hitoshi wanted to say that didn’t sound like the definition of a nap at all but decided to let it go.
Kirishima turned from Bakugou to greet him, “Hey, man! Were we good? We were good, right?”
Katsuki slapped a hand against Eijirou’s shoulder, “We were better than good.”
Shinsou took a moment to think, “You were alright. Not a bad show but there are plenty of ways you can improve.”
Bakugou grabbed the cheap beer he had been swigging and threw it, full strength, at Hitoshi. The purple-haired man dodged at the last second, but some of the beer splashed onto his boots once it hit the ground. He'd have to teach them how to behave themselves better at a club. They weren't famous enough where they could get away with treating the green room like it was theirs.
“Fuck you, we were better than alright! They worshiped our asses out there and you know it!”
Shinsou shrugged, “Okay, you were better than ‘alright,’ but you still need work. Is that a good enough compromise for you, Bakugou?”
The ash-blonde looked anything but pacified, “Don’t think I can’t tell you’re only trying to act cool.”
Denki mumbled from the couch, “Super cool,” but he still didn’t seem to have fully recovered.
Sero and Mina were nodding just as fiercely as Bakugou was.
“Yeah, man, what’s the problem? We were rock stars tonight!” Sero looked sincere in his question.
Hitoshi was growing frustrated, “I’ve made notes about things that could be improved. I never said you played badly. If there’s anything I can give you credit for it’s that you all know how to play your instruments well. However, a rock star is not just someone who plays skillfully. If that was the case there would be a million of them. The reason I’m here is to make you more than just that. Understand?”
This seemed to be reasonable enough for the group. Bakugou still looked ready to fight if the occasion called for it, but the rest of them relaxed. Kirishima put a calming hand on Katsuki’s back and Shinsou was amazed when the ash-blonde didn’t bat it away.
“Whoa, I’m pretty sure I can hear colors,” Denki croaked from the couch. He sat upright and wiped his drool away with the back of one hand. Once he’d gathered himself he noticed Hitoshi was present and lit up, “You saw us right? How’d we do?”
“We got some stuff to work on but we weren’t bad,” Mina summarized.
Kaminari looked sad for a moment but nodded his head, “Yeah, I guess we could have done some things differently.”
Sero laughed, “He might have thought we were cooler if you hadn’t ended up facedown and drooling on the couch afterward.”
"Facedown on the couch and drooling is how Denki hopes his nights end!" Mina laughed.
“Hey!” Denki shouted, “It’s only ‘cause of me that you could play wireless and do your dumb dancing.”
Mina stuck her tongue out, which Shinsou noticed was pierced, which only made Kaminari laugh to see.
Hitoshi heard a shout behind him and turned to see the purple-haired man with small eyes standing there. Shinsou wondered how he got past the bouncer, “How’d you get back here?”
Shinsou heard Kaminari’s voice from behind him, “Yo! Seiji, you got the camera?”
Both purple-haired men turned to see Denki walking over, a little wobbly on his feet but coherent.
Hitoshi was surprised. They know each other?
Seiji wore a shit-eating grin when he met eyes with Shinsou.
“Yes, Denki, I have it. You played very well tonight. Truly your best yet.”
Kaminari blushed and rubbed the back of his neck, “Aw, man. That’s real sweet of you to say.”
Shinsou coughed, “Am I interrupting something or will someone tell me what’s going on?”
Denki pulled Seiji into the room and threw an arm over his shoulder, “Shinsou, this is our biggest fan, Shishikura. Seiji runs our website and everything!” He then looked at Seiji and gestured towards Hitoshi, “This is Shinsou. He’s our super cool new manager. You two play nice, alright?”
The room felt two degrees cooler than it had before, but the two purple-haired men shook hands in the least friendly-looking manner possible. Kaminari didn’t seem to notice that anything was up and beamed at the sight of two people he liked “becoming friends”.
Hitoshi saw a chance to make Shishikura useful and added, “You said you filmed the whole night?”
“Yes,” Seiji affirmed, “From even before they got on stage to a little after they’d left. I also filmed some portions separately with my phone so you can get individual shots to intersperse with the main recording.”
“We’re not making a music video,” Mina clarified, “Our last one was DIY and kinda sucked, but Shishi always records our shows and puts them on the fansite!”
Which meant that there were multiple free videos of the band playing. Videos people could watch instead of paying money to see them live. One video was fine, but every performance?
Hitoshi mouth downturned, “You realize you’re taking away money from the band, right?”
Shishikura looked scandalized, “Taking money away? On the contrary, it’s because of my assistance that they’ve garnered more attention!”
Shinsou leveled a blank stare at the other man, “If you have one video that’s fine, but if you do enough of them then nobody is going to pay money to see them perform in person. Potential fans only need a taste of something, not the whole meal. You’re just giving this away for free. At least put a paywall up so they can access more videos by donating or purchasing the ability to stream them on the website.”
Denki clapped his hands, “Oh man, that’s so smart! Why didn’t we think of that?”
Seiji looked properly chastised, but kept his nose in the air, “That was the eventual plan, but I thought I’d make a collection of them first.”
Shinsou was 110% sure that was not the “eventual plan,” but arguing it didn’t seem like it would get him anywhere. Right now he was still trying to figure out why the purple-haired man was so good at riling him up.
“I’m sure it was,” Hitoshi said, looking back to Denki and marveling at how the man didn’t notice the animosity in the room.
“Hey, dunce face!” Bakugou hollered from his seat beside Kirishima, “Come over here. Ejirou has an idea for our next show.”
Shinsou looked and saw the rest of the band was talking to each other with a determined look on their faces. Denki responded immediately by walking over to them, and Hitoshi realized that Bakugou hadn’t been insulting him but he had been insulting Kaminari.
Once again, Shinsou felt an odd feeling in his stomach.
“Don’t call him stupid.”
“Oh-ho, what’s this?” Mina wiggled her eyebrows, “Coming to his rescue, fair sleepy knight?”
Shinsou tried to keep his face blank, “That’s just basic manners. You don’t have to read into it.”
Mina raised one eyebrow and smirked, “Honey, this is the only reading I ever get done.”
Denki looked at Shinsou in a new light. He seemed almost confused by the support but smiled in a grateful manner, “Don’t worry, dude. Bakubro loves me, he just doesn’t know how else to say it.”
“Fuck you!” Katsuki shouted.
Shishikura butted in, “I understand you’re new, Shinsou, but this is simply how they interact. If you manage to stay long enough perhaps you’ll learn for yourself.”
The implication of Shinsou being pushed out or giving up was clear, and he didn’t like it.
“I have no intention of leaving. Their last manager was overworked before getting to them. He only stepped down so that someone more appropriate could fill in. I’m afraid you’ll be seeing a lot of me, Shishikura.”
The other purple-haired man’s eyebrow twitched in irritation, and he opened his mouth to respond when Shinsou cut him off.
“Your camera,” Hitoshi pointed at Seiji’s handheld, “You said you've taped other nights, right?”
“Of course! I tape every performance.”
“Good,” Shinsou reached into his back pocket to pull a business card from his sleek black wallet. “Compress those videos into a zip file and send them to this email address. I’ll expect them sent by morning.”
Hitoshi turned away from Shishikura after the man begrudgingly took his card before leaving, and walked to the chatting band members. He’d missed the first part of their conversation, but he came in time to hear Kaminari say, “Shinsou could punch me and I’d say thank you.”
“Excuse me?” Hitoshi asked.
“Uhhh,” Kaminari turned around with a surprised jerk, “Hey, there. You’re here. Not over there anymore. Just here. Hi.”
Mina dissolved into cackles, slapping her hand on Denki’s back affectionately, “It’s fine. If he’s really all that offended he just learned he can punch you.”
Shinsou tried to say he wasn’t going to punch anyone but he was still in shock, his mouth hung open slightly and he had to stop himself from physically closing his jaw.
Even Bakugou snorted at the sight, while the others howled in laughter.
“Right,” Shinsou started. “I’m having Shishikura send me tonight’s footage, as well as past shows. We’re going to review it tomorrow, after you've rested, and I’ll show you what areas need to be changed. For now, good job.”
The band stopped laughing, and Kirishima held a hand over his heart in pleased shock, “Did you just say good job?”
“I did,” Hitoshi affirmed, “Bakugou was correct before. You played well tonight, but you can’t let it get to your heads. There were still a number of obvious mistakes. By the time I’m done with you those will no longer be there.”
The Sqwäd looked pleased, Mina and Kaminari fist-bumping each other after hearing it.
“You mentioned Band Dad- I mean uh, Iida,” Sero shook his head upon correcting himself, “How’s he doing?”
“You mentioned texting him last I saw you, why not ask him yourself?” Shinsou fished his cell out of his pocket, “Then again, if you’re not feeling brave enough I suppose I can ask Band Daddy what he’s up to.”
Sero almost hit Hitoshi’s phone out of his hand, “It’s fine! I can do it myself. I just thought, maybe you already knew. You guys are probably friends, right?”
“Wait a minute,” Mina started, “You and Band Daddy aren’t, like, fucking are you? Cause if you are you’re about to break two hearts.”
Sero and Kaminari looked like they were both about to pounce on Mina when Shinsou snorted. Just the thought of him and Iida together was bizarre. Hitoshi managed to turn that laugh into more of a cough and cleared his throat.
“No, we’re just co-workers. I don’t really see him that often.”
Shinsou didn’t feel confident enough in his relationship to say Iida was his “friend.” He’d never had many of those and he was worried he’d jinx it by implying he was close to the straight-laced man. Hitoshi made a note to himself to text him and ask how he’s doing. Maybe let him know what The Sqwäd calls him behind his back. He wasn’t sure if Iida would understand or even laugh, but the idea of telling him was funny enough for Shinsou to know he was going to do that later.
Kaminari had grabbed Sero’s phone from his pocket, “Let’s see...am I writing him a haiku or a tanka?”
Sero lunged for Denki but Mina pulled him out of the way. Kirishima was having a full belly laugh at the sight of them and Bakugou puffed on his cigarette with an annoyed expression.
“How about this…” Denki started to read with dramatic intonation:
I have not seen you
But my heart remains with yours
Band Daddy of mine.
“Sound good?” Kaminari asked while typing it out, “I know haiku are usually more nature-based and seasonal but I prefer the haiku’s shorter rhythm to the tanka’s, and we don’t have the time to pull out some sick iambic pentameter for a full-out sonnet.”
Hitoshi was impressed at Kaminari’s knowledge of poetry but kept it to himself. Shinsou was finding there were a lot more layers to this man than he’d expected.
Sero shoved Mina out of the way and grabbed the phone out of the blonde’s hands, “I swear to god, Denki, if you sent that I’m taping your mouth to Bakugou's fist.”
Kaminari’s laugh was more of a shriek as he stepped out of Sero’s hitting distance, “I didn’t! I didn’t!”
Shinsou, being the same height as Sero, could see just over his shoulder that Denki had sent a message to Iida that read: “hey bb wyd?”
“If it’s any consolation,” Hitoshi added, “I can promise you he’ll have no idea what any of that means.”
Sero sighed, “Yeah, you’re right. I’ll just tell him it was Denks. He’ll believe me.” The mohawked man glared at Kaminari, “You better sleep with one eye open tonight.”
Denki batted his eyelashes and smiled innocently, “I was only thinking about how to get you closer to your Band Daddy-”
“And stop calling him that!”
The two bickered back and forth while Shinsou looked on in confusion. Were these really the same musicians that had just blown away a crowd of concert-goers? Aizawa was right; He had his work cut out for him.
Shinsou woke up the next morning to his phone buzzing. He blindly felt around the bed beside him till he grabbed it and squinted at the screen to find he’d been sent eighteen emails. He supposed they were the recorded live shows that Shishikura promised him. All Hitoshi knew is that, no matter what time it was, it was too damn early to be thinking about The Sqwäd.
He rolled over onto his side and buried his head under the pillow. He hadn’t spied what hour it was when he saw his notifications, but judging by the sun peeking through his curtains it was probably time for him to get out of bed.
Which happened to be Shinsou’s least favorite activity.
The man slept very poorly as a rule and leaving his bed meant there was no chance for him to catch a few more minutes of sleep. In an effort to coax himself from under the blankets he tried to imagine the expression on his father’s face when he told Aizawa he wanted five more minutes. That look alone was shaming enough that he rolled out from under the covers.
His phone continued to buzz and three more emails were marked as having arrived in his inbox. Shinsou stood and stretched extensively to crack his back before ambling to his kitchen for coffee.
Last night he’d exchanged numbers with Bakugou, who Kaminari had described as the “official band mom” and therefore the best person to be in contact with. The blonde had also tried to weasel his own phone number into Shinsou’s cell but Bakugou pulled it out of his hands and handed it back.
Hitoshi knew he’d have to contact him eventually and work out a time for the group to meet up. Ideally, he’d have sorted through the videos and picked out the most important parts. Their sets, being openers, usually lasted 30-45 minutes. Which meant that, if Shinsou scheduled their meeting for the late afternoon, he could go through a fair number of them before then.
The purple-haired man filled up his kettle with water and set it on the gas stove. He turned the knob until the fuse started to click, and then lit it with a match from the box he kept beside the oven. His apartment was in an old building and there were a lot of outdated things left in it, but he tried to find it charming.
As he waited for it to boil, he pulled up the first video on his phone. It must have been sent chronologically because they looked notably younger and inexperienced. The usual banter that Mina was good at setting up between the lot of them was absent, and the stage was covered with wires- it must have been from before Kaminari’s quirk had been incorporated. Overall the quality of the music was still good, but they looked either stiff or goofy without an in-between. The crowd didn’t seem to mind much, but to a professional eye they were a mess. He also noticed that the camera spent a suspiciously long time focused on Kaminari more than the others, but that seemed unsurprising from how Shishikura had acted last night.
The water boiled and Shinsou turned the stove light off. He grabbed a mug that Eri had made him when she was in elementary school, that looked like a strange and warped marsupial but was supposed to be a cat, and placed it next to his french press coffee kit. If he was a snob about anything it was music and coffee, and he refused to feel sorry for it. He poured the ground beans into the french press and followed it by the boiling water. While he waited for the three to five minutes it needed to brew, he pulled up another video. He skipped through most of it, jumping around to catch the band at different moments and measure their technique, but saw they had made the switch to wireless. He finally pressed the coffee and then poured it into his favorite cup, the bizarre “cat’s” crossed eyes looked up at him from the mug.
He carried it to the kitchen table and sat down to watch the rest of the video. He’d made it through a number of them before he started to feel confident in his critiques. Shinsou pulled up Bakugou’s number on his phone and sent him a text.
You: Where can we meet to go over corrections.
Hitoshi tried to keep it concise. He wasn’t the type to add a ‘good morning’ or emojis and was confident that Bakugou was the same. Of course, he could easily see Mina, Sero, Kaminari, and Kirishima sending strings of emoji without text to each other and they’d still know exactly what the others were talking about.
His phone buzzed.
Bakugou: Same place you first saw us.
Bakugou: Ring the doorbell this time instead of inviting yourself in.
Hitoshi winced. To be fair, he’d thought he was about to be saving lives when he burst into that garage. How was he to know it was actually a poorly handled smoke machine?
You: How does 4 pm sound?
Shinsou suspected that Bakugou chose a different time as a power-play more than a necessity, but he’d let it go. He wasn’t going to get anywhere if he started his critiques before he even made it into the same building as them.
You: That’s fine. See you then.
Hitoshi didn’t expect a text back, and he never got one.
By the time 4 pm rolled around, Shinsou had managed to make a compilation of the moments of each show that seemed important to note and amassed them in one large video file. He saved it to his USB and prepared to head to the band’s home.
Did they all share one space? Was it actually a family house that they crashed at? Hitoshi wasn’t sure but he can’t imagine how bad the headache a person must have from living with them. He was already flinching at the idea of being on tour with the boisterous five.
Shinsou looked at his closet and tried to pick an outfit that didn’t read as lame as Eri insisted he would look in his usual clothes. He pulled the bags of punk accessories and clothes his family had given him and picked out a studded wristband. It was a small gesture, but it would have to do. He didn’t plan on dressing like the band did any time soon.
It wouldn’t take him long to get to the address he’d previously seen them at, and before he knew it the train had come. He got on and fiddled with his phone. He used to have an iPod classic, that held 160 GB of his favorite songs, but it had finally died on him. He meant to get it fixed but had no idea where someone goes to get their vintage equipment sorted.
When it was his stop, Shinsou stepped off the train and retraced his steps back to that fateful garage. Was he supposed to knock on the garage door? Did they all stay there or was the house theirs too? It was such a small garage that Hitoshi hoped they had somewhere else to sleep, but he also knew that most musicians made next to nothing as far as money was concerned.
That wouldn’t be a problem for The Sqwäd if Shinsou has his way.
It was a short walk from the station until he was standing outside of a rich-looking house with a nameplate for “Bakugou” on the door. He didn’t hear anything, or see smoke, from the garage so Hitoshi guessed they were inside the main home.
He knocked three times and waited.
There was a distant sound of talking, and then the slap of slippered feet against hardwood could be heard from behind the door.
It opened to show a pretty woman with fierce hair and an even fiercer expression. She went from confused to pleased in the space of a breath.
“You must be RBF! We’ve heard quite a lot about you.”
Hitoshi did his best not to grimace, “My name is Shinsou Hitoshi. You must be Bakugou’s older sister?”
The woman laughed, throwing her head back for a hearty cackle, “You’re too smooth! I’m his mother, but you get points for the line.”
Katsuki appeared behind her looking unamused, “You’re early.”
The woman turned and shouted at Katsuki, “Be nice, you brat!”
A short glaring contest was held between the two of them before a plain and calm man put a hand on both of their shoulders.
He smiled at Shinsou, “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Shinsou. This is my wife, Mitsuki, and I’m Masaru. Thank you for taking care of our son, even though he has his mother’s temper.”
Katsuki and his mother stopped glaring at each other to turn their glares on Masaru, who looked unaffected by it all.
Shinsou nodded his head once, “It’s...nice to meet you too. May I come in?”
“Of course!” Masaru pulled his family away from the door so Hitoshi could step inside. “Just put your shoes anywhere. Would you like something to drink?”
Shinsou untied his boots and left them by the door, “No, thank you. Are the others here yet?”
“No,” Mitsuki said, suddenly back to polite smiles and cheer, “Those kids are always late. We’ve taken to telling them to get somewhere an hour before it actually starts. This way they’re only a little tardy.”
“I see,” Hitoshi frowned. He had a lot of work to do.
“Come on in! You can wait in the living room with Katsuki.”
Shinsou followed the loud woman down a hallway and into a large den. It was a spacious room with the longest sectional couch Hitoshi had ever seen. He figured it was so the whole band could hang out. Bakugou’s family must be very generous to the five kids.
He was instructed to sit down while Mitsuki excused herself to attend to make some snacks and drinks for when the entire band arrived.
Shinsou noticed Katsuki didn’t sit down with him, but stood looking both curious and upset.
“Something you want to say?” Hitoshi asked.
Bakugou pulled out his phone and showed Shinsou the lock screen. On it was a picture of The Sqwäd looking silly and affectionate on the same couch Hitoshi was currently sitting on.
“If you fuck with any of them the cops will be picking shards of your bones out of my carpet for weeks, you hear me?”
Ah, Shinsou thought, I was wondering when this would happen.
“I have no intention of ‘fucking with’ any of you. It’s my job to make you five into the most marketable and talented group I can. It would be against my own interests to hurt anyone. You don’t have to worry about me.”
Katsuki narrowed his eyes, “I’m not worried. That wasn’t a request for you to treat them nicely. It was a threat.”
“Really? I couldn’t tell,” Hitoshi mumbled.
“Hah?” Bakugou barked.
Shinsou was about to answer in a not-so-polite fashion when he heard banging from the front door of the house. The banging turned into happy shouting and it didn’t take a detective to figure out that the rest of The Sqwäd had arrived.
Mina poked her head past the door first, “Guys! RBF is here!”
Sero and Kaminari were quick to follow.
Denki beamed, “Hey, dude, took you long enough!”
“I got here before you did.”
Kaminari waved it off as trivial, and Shinsou could see the man had a skateboard held under his arm. Did he ride it all the way here? He took a moment to imagine the four of them skateboarding down the street together and tried not to snort at the image.
Bakugou remained standing and watching Hitoshi. He hadn’t lifted his head to greet the others but stood there waiting.
Shinsou sighed, “It’s fine.” He wasn’t sure if he was saying that to Katsuki or maybe just himself.
“Did we miss something?” Sero asked, his backwards hat flattening his usual mohawk.
Bakugou bared his teeth in what he may have planned as a smile, “Well, fucktrumpet? Did he miss anything?”
“Not really,” Shinsou replied coolly, “Bakugou was just telling me how thankful he is that I’m here to help you all.”
“Aw, really?” Kirishima said from the doorway, carrying a tray of drinks with Mitsuki at his side, “That’s so nice of you, bro! Those exercises from your therapist are really paying off.”
“Shut it, Shitty Hair!”
If this is what Bakugou was like with a therapist then Hitoshi had no desire to see what he was like without one.
Mitsuki looked happily at Kirishima and patted the man’s spiky hair in a parental manner.
“Are you sure you don’t want some water, Shinsou?” She took one glass off the tray and handed it to her son.
“Thank you, Mama Mitsuki!” Mina and Kaminari chorused when the women handed them both drinks.
Shinsou wasn’t given an option when it was his turn, and despite him beginning to say he didn’t need any, he had a glass pressed into his hands.
Mitsuki ruffled Mina’s hair, “It’s sunny out today and you’re gonna need all the help you can get trying to talk over these precious monsters.”
They must have known each other for a very long time, considering how familiar they were with each other. It felt a lot like he was looking at one big neurotic family, and he supposed he was in a way.
“Thank you,” Hitoshi mumbled before taking a sip. He’d turned down the drink in an effort to be polite but was grateful for Mrs. Bakugou’s persistence. The water was nice and cold.
“I’ll leave you brats to it, then. Call if you need me!” Mitsuki shouted as she left the room, empty tray in hand.
“Alright,” Shinsou cleared his throat, “Do you have a computer? I created a compilation video on this USB full of things for you to work on. Make yourselves comfortable, there’s a lot to go over.”
The Sqwäd groaned at the sound of it. Kirishima said he’d grab Bakugou’s laptop, and left the room. Shinsou had a better look at the band when they were off stage. The four members sitting around him didn’t look as punk as they had last night, sitting in their baggy clothes and sipping on water from fancy glasses. Eri might have corrected him and insisted punk is who you are and not what you wear, but if they didn’t all have piercings and tattoos he might never have guessed what they got up to in their spare time.
Kirishima came back in short order and handed the laptop to Katsuki, who opened it up and input his password. The desktop wallpaper was a picture of The Sqwäd on stage- it must have been one of the many that Shishikura took for them.
Hitoshi handed him the USB stick, and Bakugou took it from him without looking up. He pulled up the file and pressed play.
The video started and The Sqwäd cheered at the sight of themselves.
“Oh my gosh,” Mina started, “We look so good!”
Sero nodded, “I remember that night! You did that cool breakdance move, what’s it called? The one where your legs are in the air and you’re all twirly?”
“An Air Flare,” Kaminari chimed in.
“Yeah, that one,” Sero pointed to the screen, “I remember because that was the night when-”
Before he had a chance to finish, the film showed a scene where Kaminari sparked and Kirishima’s amp started to smoke.
“-When Denki accidentally lit Eijirou’s amp on fire!”
Shinsou sighed, “Do I have to tell you why I included this clip?”
Kaminari screwed up his mouth in a hapless grin, “Cause our outfits were super good?”
Mina laughed, “More like super hot . Poor Kiri.”
“It’s cool, Denki. We put it out real fast. I don’t think anyone noticed.”
On the screen, Kirishima was seen obviously stamping out the fire on the back of his amp, and the crowd roared at the sight of it.
“Everything is more punk with fire,” Sero pointed out.
“So the venue you played the gig at was totally okay with you scorching their stage?” Hitoshi asked.
“Uh…” Mina and Kaminari turned to each other with twin expressions of chagrin.
“We were banned,” Bakugou stated. “Permanently.”
“Then I’m going to assume you know that proper rock stars require venues to play at, which is difficult if word is going around that you burn down stages.”
“Yeah,” Kaminari winced, “You’re right. But we looked good, yeah?”
Hitoshi looked at how the camera focused on Kaminari smiling and having a great time- he clearly had no idea the fire had even started. But he did look very good...
“In the future let’s put more focus on your quirk control than your outfits. We already know that your band has a cohesive aesthetic. The only thing you need now is a cohesive sound .”
“How about you go cohesively fuck yourself?” Katsuki asked conversationally.
Shinsou ignored him and carried on, “You’re all very talented musicians-”
The Sqwäd took a moment to preen at hearing it.
“-But there’s room for lots of growth when it comes to choosing your setlist. That’s one of the first things I noticed. The songs you picked aren’t ordered in a smooth way. You go from loud to soft to metal with no sense of direction. There should always be a climactic moment.”
Kaminari, Sero, and Mina all started to giggle amongst themselves.
“I don’t think we’re allowed to do that kind of thing on stage,” Kirishima mumbled, looking to Katsuki for guidance.
“I meant a point at which everything comes together. It’s just like how an album’s tracklist needs to be organized with something in mind. Are you trying to tell a story? Is it just a matter of putting all of the more popular songs on the setlist and then calling it a day? Things just aren’t adding up.”
“Don’t be such a dickbassoon,” Mina said in her best Bakugou impression.
Sero snorted, “I’m sorry, but that was objectively not as funny as fucktrumpet.”
“Oh come on! I’m trying!” She laughed and reached out to unpause the video. “Me next! What do I have to do?”
Hitoshi paused the video again, “If you were listening to what I said you’d know that was part of it. You’re the face of the band and you have to do more work than the rest of them. Your banter is good and your dancing is a great addition to the rest, but you lose track of your thoughts sometimes and also occasionally end up standing in front of the others. You should never block other band members.”
Mina frowned, “Aw, shit. I’m sorry guys.”
“It’s cool, Mina.” Kirishima smiled, “Your dancing should be the thing everyone sees, right?”
“That’s a good example of my main critique for you, Kirishima” Shinsou started, “You’re too quick to give other people the spotlight. Just because you aren’t a singer or a guitarist doesn’t mean you don’t exist. You have a space on the stage and a personality that could be better brought into the mix. You’re also a lot more level-headed and that trait is needed between the group of you. We’re going to be working on bringing you out of your shell more.”
Bakugou snorted, “I already told him. If he won’t listen to me he definitely won’t listen to you .”
“Maybe you should let him decide for himself,” Hitoshi countered.
“Ooooooh!” Mina gasped, “Them’s fighting words!”
Kirishima smiled warmly at Bakugou, “You’re both right, Katsuki. I know I have to work on it. But the others have such big and flashy personalities. I don’t think I can match that.”
“That’s exactly your strength,” Denki insisted, “It’s because you have a different vibe that you’re needed! You’re the bass, and the bass keeps us all together. That’s why we told you to pick it up. You’re the backbone, dude! We’d be useless without you there.”
“Exactly,” Shinsou added. Who knew the guitarist had such a skilled way with words?
“Besides,” Kaminari continued, “Who else would keep Bakubro in line?”
Kirishima looked at his friend with watery eyes, “You mean it?”
“Every word,” Denki affirmed.
Kirishima shoved Sero to the side to throw his arms around Kaminari in an emotional hug.
“Alright, enough of that mushy stuff,” Sero laughed, “What do I have to do?”
“I need you to be more on top of the others. You’ve got a cooler head when it comes to being on stage, and I need you to corral them when they start to wander. Literally and figuratively. There are smaller details we’ll work on, but right now the most important thing is to find your balanced place with the others. If anything, you need to step a bit back out from the spotlight but take more of the reins at the same time. Bakugou can’t manage everything from stuck behind his drum kit. You’ll have to handle the rest of them on stage.”
Sero nodded firmly. He seemed to take it as a serious suggestion, and it was a pleasant surprise to find out how well he took it.
“So what you’re saying,” Sero responded, “Is that I should be in charge of the band while we’re on stage?”
“Partly. It’s more that someone needs to manage the others more closely and Bakugou usually does this but he can’t when you’re playing live.”
Hanta smiled, “Hear that, Denki? Now I’m band daddy!”
Shinsou cleared his throat, “Okay, I don’t think you actually got the point-”
“Do me next!” Kaminari added.
“Oh, I’m sure you’d looooove that,” Mina cackled.
“I meant my edits!” Denki shrieked.
“Your critique,” Shinsou started, “Is more of a choice. Do you want to be in the spotlight or out of it?”
“Uh, in it? Doesn’t everyone?”
“During a show,” Hitoshi unpaused the video and pointed at Denki’s figure on the screen, “You have a tendency to disappear in-between moments of being the main focus. On the songs you sing back-up for you stay in the front and remain active, but when you don’t have that you will sometimes slink back and give Mina and Sero the rest of the stage while you and Kirishima stay behind. You need to pick a side and stick to it.”
“What do you think I should do?” Denki asked head cocked to the side just enough to resemble a puppy.
Shinsou tried to refocus, “I think you should stay in the light. You’ve got a good stage presence. You just have to keep it steady throughout the whole show.”
“You gonna keep me in line then, boss?” Denki winked from his side of the couch.
Katsuki frowned, “Not if he knows what’s good for him.”
“Your edits, Bakugou, I’m sure will surprise no one.” Shinsou’s blank stare met Katsuki’s sneer, as he finished, “You need to calm down.”
“I am calm!”
The four other band members laughed at Katsuki’s angry reply, and Shinsou merely sighed.
“You spend so much energy focusing on the rest of the band that you forget your own part of it. I can show you in numerous clips where you lose the beat or change the tempo for the rest of the band while trying to get their attention to fix something. You need to learn how to relax-” another snort laugh from the four “-as much as you can, and trust your band to know what’s best.”
“But they don’t,” Bakugou argued.
“I agree, but they are going to learn. You’ll help me teach them, but you have to let them go a bit. You center yourselves on them when you should be focused more on the music.”
Astoundingly, Katsuki didn’t argue the point. He looked pissed off as hell, but he also looked thoughtful. Perhaps there was hope for the boy after all.
“You forgot something important,” Mina smiled, “We have critiques for you too!”
“They mostly concern your look,” Sero added.
“Or lack thereof,” Denki elaborated.
“But we’ll help you out!” Kirishima finished.
“Yeah,” Bakugou smirked, “You need a more cohesive aesthetic.”
Shinsou suddenly realized just how outnumbered he was.
Today's shout out goes to Lazy! I don't know what your Ao3 tag is, so tell me when you read this, hun!
You are a precious person and I couldn't wish for a better kid. Thank you for helping bring people closer together. Just seeing you say hello on Discord brightens my day.
Shinsou sat there in shocked silence, “What did you say?”
“I said,” Bakugou repeated, “that we aren’t going to be managed by a fucking nerd and you better meet us halfway on these changes. If you want us to cooperate then you’ll follow our instructions.”
Hitoshi bristled, “I think you’re forgetting that I’m your manager and that leaves me in a position of power to guide this band. That has nothing to do with what I look like.”
“Listen dude,” Sero started, “I used to have this boring haircut and I couldn’t have looked plainer. I’m glad I changed it, but it wouldn’t have happened without these guys pushing me. Bakugou has known me since high school but he still refused to let me join the band unless I got it cut to look less ‘like a lazy shitty hippie.’ I’ve had my ‘hawk ever since and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Kaminari nodded, “That’s just how things work here. You want us to scratch your back, you gotta get some moss off your rolling stone, you know?”
“I am entirely sure that is the wrong use of both of those sayings,” Shinsou snorted.
Mina shook her head, “That’s not the point, RBF! We’re just sayin’ you gotta meet us halfway, yeah? We make our adjustments and you make yours. It’s only fair.”
Hitoshi sighed before closing Bakugou’s computer and placing it carefully on the table beside the wide couch. “I’m okay with...a few changes, but that’s all.”
“Of course!” Denki beamed, “We don’t want to make you into someone you’re not. We’re just taking your level of sexy-cool up a couple of notches.”
Shinsou choked on his own tongue, “Excuse me?”
Kaminari looked vaguely distressed as he registered what he said, but he waved it away with his hand and added, “It'll only be a couple of things. Outside stuff, you know? Your clothes, your general style, and that kind of thing.”
“Right!” Kirishima smiled, before taking out his cell phone and opening up a word document, “Katsuki and I came up with a schedule earlier today. We’re splitting up into groups. Mina and Denki are gonna take you to the tattoo parlor first-”
Shinsou cut him off, “A tattoo parlor? I’m not getting a ta-”
“Oh, of course not!” Mina laughed, “You’re getting a piercing, though. Just one for starters. We’ll work your way up to it before we start getting you tattoos.”
Hitoshi frowned, “I never agreed to-”
“But think of how cool you’d look! Don’t you want people in the music scene to take you seriously? You need some metal, dude. That’s just the rule. Face, ears, whatever.” Kaminari pointed to various parts of his body as he spoke, pointing to his own nipples when he said ‘whatever’ which made Shinsou’s mind wander to a place he wasn’t prepared to be today.
“-after that,” Kirishima continued, “Bakubro and I are gonna take you to the clothing shop. We’re redoing your whole…what was it you said? Prosthetic?”
“He said aesthetic , shitty hair,” Katsuki corrected in a far more gentle manner than Shinsou thought was possible for him.
“-Right, your aesthetic ! Lastly, we’re all taking you out to our friend's bar. It’s a staple of the punk scene here. If you’re gonna be our manager you have to meet everyone in our neck of the woods, which Sero is gonna set up for us.”
“Mostly we just want to show you off after we make you cool,” Mina specified.
Denki smiled shamelessly and gave Hitoshi a thumbs up.
Shinsou tried to breathe calmly through his nose, “And this is all going to happen within the space of the next 5 hours?”
“Maybe more, maybe less,” Kirishima wondered aloud, “but your appointment at the parlor is in twenty minutes so you better go. It’s cool, our friend Tori is the one who is gonna do it. He has a needle finger quirk, by the way, just a heads up so you aren’t scared.”
Bakugou, who sneered victoriously, asked, “Are you scared of a little piercing, Eyebags?”
“No. I’m not scared of it.”
I’m just freaking the fuck out, Hitoshi thought to himself. He’d never done anything like this. He had toyed with the idea of getting a tattoo someday, but he’d never actually planned a design or timeline for it. Now he was going to have a hole voluntarily made in his body within the next hour? Just the thought made his skin crawl. Shinsou didn’t like needles. Aizawa used to have to hold his hand at the doctor’s office when he was a kid. The last time Hitoshi got blood drawn his father had jokingly offered to be there for him at the appointment if he needed someone’s shoulder to hide in. Shinsou had been tempted to hang up the phone after he heard it.
Hitoshi steeled himself. If he was going to do his best with this band, it only made sense that he get their approval and cooperation. If that meant some jewelry and probably a few studded bracelets then he supposed it was worth it. Eri and Hizashi would be thrilled to hear it, and Aizawa would probably just chuckle. Either way, the choice seemed clear.
“Alright. When do we leave?”
The Sqwäd cheered.
“Awesome! Oh my gosh, it’s gonna look soooo good! I know exactly where we should put it.” Mina squealed.
Kaminari nodded sagely, “his dick, right?”
“The thirst is real,” Mina said with a shaking head.
Sero snorted, “I was going to suggest his eyebrows, but it’s good to see you’ve got your priorities straight. Especially since nothing else about you is.”
Denki barely blinked at the correction, “Oh, yeah! Dude’s got some stellar eyebrows. He needs to accentuate those fuckers. Hmmm, the one on the right? Yeah, that side for sure.”
Hitoshi blanched visibly at the idea of someone putting a needle through his face, and the band must have seen it because they started to laugh.
“It’s totally fine, man! The clamp hurts more than the piercing does, and it’s a quick thing to pierce.” Kirishima pointed to his right eyebrow where two rings glinted in the light. “Take it from me, it’s easy peasy, dude.”
“Easy peasy,” Shinsou echoed.
“Easy peasy.” Kirishima and Mina confirmed in stereo.
“Besides,” Eijirou added, “an eyebrow piercing is super manly!”
“Alright, get this nerd to the shop,” Bakugou stood up, his baggy jeans hanging from his hips, and threw an arm around Kirishima’s shoulder. “I’ll text you the address you’ll meet us in Harajuku for clothes. Bring money, and don’t pussy out of that piercing either.”
Shinsou felt himself start to argue but contained himself. The last thing he needed was to encourage an argument. He’ll just do what they say or tell them a firm no if they suggested something he didn't want. He knew they’d respect his boundaries if he actually felt opposed, though they would laugh at him for chickening out. He’d certainly lose some credibility with them too.
Mitsuki popped into the living room upon hearing the commotion of them getting ready to leave. “You’re all finished already? Have you tortured the poor boy enough?”
“We didn’t torture him,” Katsuki corrected, “We’re just showing him how to fix his mistakes the same way he did with us. Only his mistakes are his entire wardrobe and sleep schedule.”
Denki tried to salvage the kindness within the critique, “Nah, the dark eyebags are a total look! It’s like he’s too punk for sleep!”
Sero mimed vomiting, “You just want to get in his unfashionable pants.”
Mitsuki threw her head back and started to laugh. “You brats are gonna break him. Go easy on the kid!”
Mina grabbed Shinsou’s arm, “You’re coming with us, RBF! You’re gonna look badass with that eyebrow piercing, I promise.”
Denki was quick to follow and grabbed Shinsou’s other arm to help pull him forward, “Yeah, it’s gonna be great! I’ll hold your hand the whole time if you want?” The blonde winked and Shinsou couldn’t help but wonder if he’d take the blonde up on his offer when the needle eventually came out.
Kirishima and Bakugou looked at each other and nodded, before the redhead said, “We’ll see you in Harajuku later! Bakubro is gonna text you all the info, okay? Happy piercing!”
Katsuki didn’t even look over his shoulder as he left the room and, judging by the slamming of the front door, the house.
Mina smiled at the ash blonde’s antics before stepping back from Shinsou and asking, “You don’t have a skateboard do you?”
Hitoshi started to say “of course I don’t have a skateboard, I’m not 14 years old,” but realized this would be offensive and cut it off at “Of course I don’t.”
Kaminari clicked his tongue unhappily, “Aw man, I don’t think we could both fit on mine. Guess we can leave them here and take the train. If only I had a motorcycle. Those things are also killer chick magnets.”
Shinsou froze. Chick magnets? At this point, he wasn’t sure whether Denki was flirty by nature or actually flirting with him. Hitoshi had just assumed the boy was that type of person and took none of it to heart. He didn’t want to get his hopes up.
Mina giggled, “You’d fall off a motorcycle before you could even climb on top of it properly.”
“Hey now!” Denki laughed, “Want to call my exes and get references on how well I can ride?”
Shinsou tripped over his own feet at hearing it.
“You okay, man?” The blonde asked, unaware of the effect he was having.
“Yeah,” Hitoshi mumbled, “I just had something in my boot. It’s fine now.”
He scrambled his mind to find a way to recover from that and found himself saying, “I know how to ride a motorcycle.”
Which was not true.
Did Hizashi own a motorcycle that he’d been near-begging Shinsou to learn? Yes. Had he ever taken his papa up on that offer? No.
“Oh my gosh, you do? Wicked!” Mina clapped her hands.
Denki nodded feverishly, “That’s so cool! Do you have your own?”
“No,” Hitoshi forced more words out, “My papa has one. He taught me. It’s easy, though. I’m sure you could pick it up fairly quickly.”
Kaminari batted his lashes in an exaggerated manner, “Maybe you could teach me?”
Shinsou sucked in a breath before biting out “We’re going to be late!” and speed walking past the two punks.
“Wait up!” Mina cried, “You don’t even know where we’re going!”
The tattoo parlor was a small hole-in-the-wall affair that kept to an “Anarchy in the UK” punk era theme. An entire wall of tattoo designs was of various band references and Sex Pistols lyrics.
Kaminari strolled up to the counter like he owned the place, “Hey man, is Tori here?”
A tall blue-skinned man behind the counter nodded and gestured behind him to the studio, where one person was laying on their stomach and getting a tattoo inked into their thigh by a small woman, while a green-haired man set up a piercing station. When the man turned around, Shinsou could see his fingers were very long and thin, which looked odd on his normal-sized hands.
The piercer smiled at seeing the blonde and pink duo. “Hey, it’s Kami and Mina! So, who is getting a hole punched in them today?”
“Tori, my man!” Denki fist-bumped the guy twice before gesturing behind him to Hitoshi, “This is Shinsou! He’s the band’s new manager and we’re trying to make him cooler. Think you can put another hole in his face for us?”
Hitoshi flinched at the sound of it.
Tori looked Shinsou over and placed one long finger to his chin in thought. “I’m not going to pierce someone who doesn’t want it. He doesn’t look particularly thrilled.”
Mina patted Shinsou hard on the shoulder, “He’s a noob still, Tor. He’s gotta grow up someday! Besides, we already talked him into getting an eyebrow piercing. It’d look chill, right?”
The piercer nodded, “It would. I know exactly where I’d place it too. You wanna come over here tall guy?” he asked while gesturing to Hitoshi.
The purple-haired man nodded and stiffly walked forward to what looked like a cross between a bench and a doctor’s table.
“I’ll take your coat,” Mina smiled, tugging a sleeve off of him and then slipping the bomber jacket into her bag.
Denki sat down too and then chuckled before holding one of Shinsou’s hands. “That better?”
Hitoshi tried to shake the blonde off but the shorter man held tight.
Shinsou narrowed his eyes, “I don’t need someone to hold my hand.”
Kaminari smiled, “Yeah, but I’m gonna get my tragus piercing today and I need someone to hold my hand. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?”
Very clever, Shinsou thought and snorted. “I suppose if you need someone’s hand to hold it would only be reasonable to support you, given that I’m your manager.”
“Exactly!” Denki said with a playful grin.
A bright light went off and Shinsou turned to see Mina had taken a photo of the two men holding hands and talking.
“I’m totally gonna post this to our Insta,” she gushed, “We have, like, a whole bunch of Instagram followers thanks to Bakugou also doing his makeup tutorials on there. A ton of people get introduced to the band that way! We might not be fancy marketer people but we aren’t too hopeless.”
Shinsou was glad to hear it. He had no idea they’d gotten any real social media presence, and it sounded like it was successful too. Knowing how much Eri loves makeup tutorials, she’d probably enjoy an angry man telling her where to place her eyeliner. He’d have to text her their info later.
“Alright, champ,” Tori said while holding a silver device, “I’m gonna put this clamp on your eyebrow and rearrange the skin till it’s sitting in the right place. Then I’m gonna give you a countdown of three and you’ll be done.”
Hitoshi might have felt embarrassed that he had to be talked down to, but a part of him was grateful that the piercer was experienced enough to know he needed to be guided through it.
He nodded his assent, and the piercer brought him forward to sit upright and get comfortable. He leaned over and placed the clamp around Hitoshi’s eyebrow, moving it this way and that until he felt comfortable with its placement. He drew a dot on his brow with a marker and then held a mirror up so Shinsou could see it.
“This placement look good to you, kid?”
Hitoshi shrugged, “You’re the professional.”
“Right you are,” Tori laughed.
Then, out of the corner of his eye, Shinsou saw the man’s finger sharpen to a fine needle-point.
He immediately closed his eyes and held his breath. Denki squeezed his hand in reassurance.
“Don’t worry, dude. Tor’s the best. He did my ears, nose, bellybutton, and nipples and I barely felt it. Except for the nipples. Cause I really felt that one, but I don’t think you have to worry about that today."
Tori laughed and asked, “We’re going to countdown now, okay?”
Shinsou nodded jerkily.
“Three…” the piercer began.
Hitoshi was waiting for the man to say two when he felt the needle pierce his skin instead.
“Sorry,” Tori laughed, “It’s actually a lot easier for people if they aren’t expecting it. They don’t clench their face the same way. It’s all done though! Let me just slide the jewelry on.”
Shinsou opened one cautious eye to see the piercer fiddling with a small silver bar.
“You did it!” Mina cried, taking another picture with her phone.
“If Eiji was here he would have told you that you looked super manly,” Denki added.
Hitoshi’s voice broke a bit as he answered, “Great.”
Kaminari started to pull his hand away when Shinsou took a chance and laced their fingers together. “You said you needed someone to hold your hand while you got your piercing, right?”
Denki looked surprised at first, and then smiled widely, “Yeah! Thanks, dude.”
Tori looked at the two men with a smirk, “I didn’t realize you were back off the market, Kami. Last I heard you were with that other guy. What was his name? He had purple hair too, come to think of it. You’ve got a type.”
“Nah,” Kaminari laughed nervously, “Shishi and I only dated for, like, half a second and Shinsou isn’t my boyfriend.”
Hitoshi felt his stomach clench at hearing it. Kaminari had really been dating that tiny-eyed twerp of a fanboy?
He felt Denki squeeze his hand and looked up to find an anxiously frowning blonde. The guitarist bit his lip, “Sorry, if it made you uncomfortable that Tori thought we were dating.”
“It’s fine,” Hitoshi shrugged and did his best to look unaffected, “Do you want me to stop holding your hand?”
“No!” Kaminari shouted, before clearing his throat and stuttering, “I mean, nope. I’m cool. You cool?”
Shinsou pointed to the eyebrow he’d just had pierced, “I don’t know, am I cool now?”
Denki snorted, “Cooler, maybe. I can’t wait to see what Katsuki and Eiji do to you!”
That put a worrisome shiver down Hitoshi’s spine, but he was quickly distracted from that when Tori came back with a tool that looked like a tweezer with a hole in its tongs.
The piercer gestured to the blonde with one long finger, “Lean your head over for me, will you Kami?”
Kaminari shimmied himself closer to Shinsou and rested his head against the purple-haired man’s shoulder, “Can you get it from here?”
Hitoshi could have sworn his heart was beating so loudly that Mina would be able to hear it from across the studio- where she stood documenting the event with her camera.
Shinsou couldn’t even notice the pain from the puncture in his face, he was so distracted by the man cuddling into his side. Hitoshi felt his face going red but did his best to look as stoic and blank as usual regardless.
“Do you need me to do a real countdown, Blondie?” Tori asked in a joking manner.
“Just stick it in me already so I can get out of here!” Kaminari laughed.
“That’s what she said!” Mina crowed from her side of the room.
Denki started laughing so hard that the piercer had to wait for him to calm down before he could continue.
Shinsou squeezed the blonde’s hand and averted his eyes from Tori’s quirk. Denki didn’t even flinch when the man’s needle fingers pushed through his skin. Hitoshi was impressed, but he should have figured this was nothing for someone with enough helix piercings to line the entire shell of his ear from top to bottom. Not to mention his nipples, but Hitoshi was trying very hard not to think about those.
When Tori was done sliding the stud into place, Kaminari was given a hand mirror to look at his piercing. Denki took a moment to pose in front of it and wink at Shinsou through the reflection. Hitoshi abruptly let go of the blonde’s hand and stood up, “Are we done now?”
“Yep,” Mina replied, “You just gotta pay up at the front when you’re done. It looks super good, RBF!”
Kaminari handed Tori back his mirror, and stood up with a bounce in his step.
“Next, we drop you off at Harajuku!”
“Time to get those boring clothes off of you...” Denki shot two finger guns in Shinsou’s direction before adding, “and then into some new ones, of course!”
Tonight's shout out is for Luciel!
You are so precious to me. All of you are! Thank you for being the kind, strong, and loving soul that you are.
“Does your eyebrow hurt?” Kaminari asked with a concerned look.
Shinsou could feel his pulse in his face and it definitely stung, but he wasn’t going to tell the lead guitarist of a punk band that a little piercing was hurting him.
“No. I’d already forgotten about it.”
Denki beamed, “Badass, dude! See? You’ll be punk yet. Just wait till you see how good that piercing turned out. You’re gonna want a million more. You can even be belly button twins with Mina and me!”
“Belly button twins?”
Mina stood next to Denki as they lifted their shirts at the same time to show off a set of colorful dangling metal belly button piercings. Ashido’s read “Dumb” and Kaminari’s read “Bitch” in the same rainbow font across stainless steel tags.
“Of all the matching things you could have chosen you went with Dumb Bitch?” Shinsou managed to ask without laughing. He was doing his best to keep his eyes from looking too intently at Denki’s partially undressed body.
“We both wear skull ones for performances,” Mina added, completely oblivious to the fact that Hitoshi wasn’t giving them a compliment.
“Cause then, when we stand next to each other, we’re the umlauts on our name, right?” Denki excitedly continued.
When Shinsou thought about the logo the band had with the two skulls as umlauts over the ä, it suddenly made sense. He wondered which of them thought of it and how heartily they probably congratulated themselves for being so “clever” about it.
“I think I’ll pass on that,” Hitoshi replied.
“Booo!” Mina called, “Trust me, you’re gonna sing a different tune soon enough. Piercings and tatts are super addictive.”
“I still doubt I’ll be getting matching belly button piercings with you two anytime soon.”
The pink girl shrugged, unconvinced. Shinsou hoped that, no matter how close the band became with him, he never turned into the sort of person who gets a matching belly button piercing. His family would never let him live it down.
The piercer rang up their costs from behind the counter, while Tori rattled off aftercare instructions.
“I’m throwing in some cleansers. Be gentle and use a q-tip when you clean it, don’t make or use your own cleaning solution, always wash your hands before handling your jewelry, try not to fiddle with it until it’s healed, and don’t put any heavy lotions or salves on it while it’s still open. Oh, and don’t try using a lighter to cauterize it. Got it?”
Shinsou blanched, “Who on earth would do that last one?”
Tori shot Mina a look, but she just smiled guilelessly. Denki snorted at the implication and elbowed the girl hard enough that she swatted back at him with her bag.
Hitoshi tried not to look as exasperated as he felt, and paid for his piercing with his credit card.
Kaminari pulled a beat-up Pikachu wallet out of his back pocket and slammed some cash down on the counter triumphantly.
“That’s for mine, Tor!”
Tori rolled his eyes fondly, “Wait your damn turn, kid.” He took the cash and didn’t even count it before putting it in the till. It made Shinsou wonder just how close the two were. He wouldn’t be surprised if there was some sort of frequent buyer discount.
“It’ll take about eight weeks for it to close, and then six months to a year before you can take the piercing out without it closing up again. Feel free to switch out jewelry around the same time too, if you like,” Tori explained to Hitoshi.
Shinsou nodded, absorbing the information and trying to focus his attention away from how pale Kaminari’s stomach had been and the fine blonde hairs he’d seen there.
“Any other questions?” The piercer asked.
Hitoshi shrugged and gestured to the people beside him, “I’m sure if I have any I can ask these two.”
Tori chuckled, “You’d be better off with Yahoo Answers.”
Shinsou managed to turn his laugh into clearing his throat at the last second. Seeing the scandalized looks on the two punk musicians’ faces was priceless.
His card was swiped and handed back to him, and Shinsou slipped it back into his pocket before looking to Mina and Denki for further instruction.
“Now,” Mina started with a mischievous grin, “we deliver you to Katsuki and Eiji! Oh man, you gotta send us lots of pictures okay? Especially Denki.”
“Yeah, especially Denki,” Kaminari echoed, holding his hand out, “pass me your phone! I’ll put in our numbers.”
Shinsou reluctantly handed over his phone, after inputting his password, and the musicians jumped on it with fervor. Mina looked over Denki’s shoulder giggling to herself at whatever he was doing. Hitoshi felt his stomach clench.
Kaminari gave him his phone back, letting their hands touch for a beat longer than necessary, before making the hand sign for ‘call me’ and winking.
Shinsou rolled his eyes and willed his cheeks not to blush.
Mina clapped her hands excitedly, “Alright, lovebirds. Let’s blow this popsicle stand!”
The two friends fist-bumped each other before each grabbed one of Hitoshi’s arms and led him out of the store. They called goodbyes out to Tori as they left, and Shinsou had little doubt those two would be seeing him again before long.
The sun was starting to set and the air was warm despite the leaves turning brown. The wind felt good on Shinsou’s face and he took a moment to think about how vastly different his world was today than it had been just forty-eight hours earlier.
He heard Denki and Mina chatting quietly and turned to find them looking suspicious.
“Where am I meeting your friends?”
Kaminari clicked his tongue disapprovingly, “are you forgetting they’re your friends now too? Include yourself more, dude!”
Shinsou stopped himself from explaining the many reasons why he wouldn’t use the word friend to describe his relationship with the band, much less Bakugou, and settled for a vague nod.
Mina pulled out her phone and opened up an app showing a map of the train stations.
“You’re gonna walk over here and take this line four stops,” she said while indicating each direction with her finger, “You’ll know the store when you find it.”
“You aren’t giving me a name?” Shinsou furrowed his eyebrows and winced a bit at the way his piercing pulled on the skin as he did. This was going to take some getting used to.
“Trust me,” Mina emphasized, “You’ll know it when you get there. It’s right outside the station stop, you can’t miss it.”
“Send us some selfies! I wanna see everything,” Kaminari said with a wicked grin.
“You two aren’t coming with me?”
Ashido and Denki glanced at each other with matching smiles, before the pink girl said “Aw, are you gonna miss us? We’ll miss you too, RBF. Don’t worry. You’ll see us later tonight at the club! I’ll keep Denki warm for you.” She winked and swatted Kaminari on the ass. He sputtered in response and shouted, “Mina!” but she’d already started walking away. Denki, red-faced but laughing, turned to wave goodbye to Shinsou before joining her. He stuck out his tongue long enough for him to see it was pierced with a little yellow lightning bolt jewelry, and threw up a heavy metal hand sign as he did.
It was only after the two had left his sight that Hitoshi remembered Mina still had his favorite bomber jacket in her bag.
The train ride was quick and, though he was chilled without a coat, he found himself focused on The Sqwäd instead of his own skin. Shinsou got off at the stop he’d been told to, and found himself in the heart of Harajuku. He started to search for what kind of a store he’d just “know” upon seeing, when he noticed one of the windows had a giant picture of Bakugou advertising clothing with his signature pissed off expression.
This must be what they meant when they said I couldn’t miss it.
Hitoshi pushed open the heavy glass doors and found Kirishima waiting for him with a smile.
“Katsuki! He’s here!”
Shinsou turned in the direction Eijirou was looking and saw Bakugou walk out of a doorway marked ‘Employee’s Only’ at the top.
“It’s not supposed to take that long to get a hole punched in your face, eyebags. Don’t keep us waiting again.”
Before Hitoshi had the chance to respond he was cut off by a pouting Eijirou.
“Aww come on, man. Cut him some slack! It was probably Mina and Denki’s fault anyway.”
Katsuki seemed to take this into consideration, and Shinsou had a feeling that if he had said the same thing Bakugou wouldn’t have listened to a word of it.
“I’ve already picked out some options,” the ash-blonde stated, gesturing to a pile of neatly folded clothing, “start trying things on. You’re going to come out and show us each time, so don’t go acting shy. If you’re gonna be one of us then you’re going to have to look a lot less lame.”
Shinsou looked around the store, it’s style was decidedly punk but erring a little bit more goth than expected, and asked, “Do you work here?”
Kirishima laughed, “Bakugou’s parents work in the fashion industry. This is one of their outlet stores!”
“The hag has me model their shit so I always know the season’s collections. You aren’t going out with us dressed like an outdated nerd. We’re putting you in the best we have. Be grateful.”
“Gee, thanks,” Shinsou mumbled, following the other two towards the back of the store.
“Change rooms are in here,” Kirishima chirped while gesturing to a series of black velvet curtained stalls, “Katsuki already put the clothes with the other ones they look good with. Just try on each set and show us, okay?”
Hitoshi looked at the pile of clothing they’d carried and then deposited outside the stall. Clearly they didn’t trust him enough to let him take it in with him so he could try all of them on in private. Bakugou had soon grown tired of his waiting and directly shoved some clothing into Shinsou’s arms. “Hurry the fuck up, we don’t have all night.”
Shinsou sighed and took the clothing before disappearing behind the curtain. The dressing room had mirrored walls so he’d be able to see the outfit from every angle. Hitoshi hated standing in a room looking at three other versions of himself, but he wasn’t exactly given much of a choice.
The first outfit was fairly standard as far as he’d seen some of the clothing go. A loose black top that fit around the biceps with a red vest covered in patches and studs. A row of rivets lined the tops of the shoulders in spikes, and the bottom of the vest was tattered and torn in strategic places. A total of three belts- which Hitoshi knew was part of the style but always seemed excessive- of varying sizes and colors hung around the hips, one of them studded, another a matte black, and the third a shiny plastic with a tiny skull print on it. Followed by a tight pair of dark jeans that were ripped in more places than not and, lastly, a pair of black converse that Shinsou was surprised to find fit him perfectly. The Bakugou family’s eye for fashion must have been a very keen one. Hitoshi took a moment to look at himself in the mirror and thought his own family would be proud.
He stepped out of the stall to find an unimpressed Bakugou and a very excited Kirishima.
Katsuki snorted, “Just as I thought, you look like shit in red.”
“I think it brings out your eyes!” Kirishima rushed to soften the blow, snapping a picture with his phone.
The ash-blonde gave him a sour look for it, “Purple and red? Learn some color theory, you ingrate.”
Shinsou rushed back into the stall, loudly drawing the curtain shut behind him. He sighed and looked at the next batch of clothes.
This outfit consisted of a very long black and white checkered asymmetrical shirt, red suspenders, and baggy black pants with chains hanging on either side. Hitoshi thought it looked dreadful but he’d give it a chance. If this band was going to take him seriously he had to take them seriously right back. There were no accessories or shoes with this outfit so he wore them with his own, and felt like a complete mess.
When he stepped out he was met with a beat of silence and then a hearty laugh from the redhead.
Bakugou smirked, “I’ll admit it. I put that one in cause I thought you’d look stupid. I was right.”
Kirishima wiped a tear from his eye and took another picture with his phone, “Oh man, those suspenders…You look like if The Ramones rented a birthday clown!”
“Do you have any good clothes in this pile?” Hitoshi growled.
“Still better looking than the shit you were wearing. Next!”
If Shinsou were less professional he would have thrown the clothes in Bakugou’s face when he changed. He stormed back into the stall and undressed again. He should have trusted his gut on that last one. It didn’t seem like the sort of trick they’d bother pulling twice, and if it hadn’t been him on the receiving end he probably would have gotten a laugh out of it too, so he didn’t begrudge them too much.
The next set of clothes seemed innocuous enough. A V-neck black shirt with lilac lacing like corsetry on both sides. The laces weren’t pulled tight into any shape, so the fabric draped flat. A deep hood was sewn onto the back of it the same color as the laces. A pair of simple black cargo pants and some burgundy Doc Marten’s boots completed it.
When he came out Kirishima clapped his hands, “Do a spin for us!”
Hitoshi crossed his arms, “I’m not spinning.”
The redhead continued, “Alright, then how about a fun pose?”
“This is a fun pose,” Shinsou deadpanned.
Bakugou threw his hands up, “Fuck, you’re boring.”
“Can’t you tell he’s just being punk, Katsuki? See how he’s pretending not to care? It’s cool!”
Shinsou appreciated Kirishima’s support. The purple-haired man had assumed the two were together because they were together - something he still wasn't 100% sure of, and was honestly afraid to ask- but he wouldn’t be surprised if someone told Bakugou he simply wasn’t allowed to do this on his own. Someone needed to balance things out, and Eijirou was the perfect man to do it.
“Thank you,” Hitoshi said with a nod.
Bakugou butted in, “The next one is the last one for today. I’ve already got an idea of what should look good or not on your lanky ass. Put it on quick so we can go.”
Shinsou rolled his eyes and went back to change into the last outfit.
It was a fitted black leather jacket with ¾ sleeves, with lapels that were lined in silver studs, zipper patches, and pockets aplenty. It hugged his sides and ended just above his hips. Underneath that was a deep purple sleeveless shirt that framed Hitoshi’s arm muscles in a very flattering way. The pants were black skinny jeans with three horizontal zippers on the thighs that were open in different degrees to show strips of his pale skin. Black steel-toed combat boots with dark purple laces finished the look.
Hitoshi stared himself down in the mirror, feeling as though he were looking at an entirely new person. Before he could psych himself out of embracing this new part of himself, he turned around and stepped out of the stall.
Kirishima wolf-whistled upon seeing him, and Bakugou looked incredibly smug.
“Daaaamn, RBF! Hold still, I gotta take a bunch of this one.”
“Not the worst,” Katsuki allowed.
Shinsou had to admit he felt pretty good. It sent a thrill down his spine to get that kind of response from someone. He felt himself stand a little taller.
Kirishima came over to show him his phone where the band’s group chat was now covered in pictures of Shinsou’s various outfits. The most recent text was from Kaminari and it consisted of a drooling emoji and three hearts.
“Mina, Sero, and Denki think you should wear that one to the club tonight, and I totally agree! I think you’re set, dude.”
“Thank fuck,” Shinsou found himself cursing- clearly inspired by his fashion host.
“You can walk out in that,” Bakugou added, “The ones that didn’t look like complete shit will come home with me. You can pick them up later.”
“I don’t have to buy them?” Hitoshi made sure to raise the eyebrow that hadn’t been pierced this time.
Bakugou snorted, “Consider them a loan,” and waved off any arguments that might follow. Shinsou realized this might be the only way Katsuki is able to do nice things for other people- by pretending it’s nothing.
Kirishima slapped Hitoshi hard on the back in what he probably meant as a friendly pat before saying, “Hanta is gonna pick you up in a minute and we’ll all meet up later! You’re going to The Proving Grounds tonight, dude.”
“The Proving Grounds?” Shinsou wasn’t sure if that was the name of the establishment or just what they were calling the test he was clearly about to take.
“It’s a bar,” Bakugou explained with a dangerous smirk, “and you’re going to be performing tonight.”
Tonight's shout out goes to NyanMandine!
My precious sister from another mister who is in possession of every ShinKami art on the planet. I adore you!
PS. A serious thanks to Spawn for helping me figure out where to go with all the outfits in this chapter!
Find their images at:this!
PPS. Thank you to everyone who has been commenting. It's what keeps me going! I love all of you.
“Performing? I’m a manager, not a musician.”
Kirishima smiled at the purple-haired man, “Who said anything about music? You’re playing punk tonight!”
Shinsou arched an eyebrow, flinching as it tugged at his new piercing. This was definitely going to take some getting used to.
“Your test is whether or not you embarrass us at the bar tonight,” Bakugou summarized, “so don’t fuck it up and make us look stupid, got it?”
Before Shinsou could ask any questions a car horn was heard from outside.
“That’s your ride, RBF!” Eijirou added, his sharp teeth flashing in a grin.
Katsuki made a dismissive shooing motion with his hands, and Hitoshi decided to take the hint.
Upon waving goodbye to Kirishima, and walking back out into the Harajuku night, Shinsou saw Sero leaning against a beat-up turquoise van with “The Sqwäd Mobile” painted on the side of it in a graffiti-style print.
“Hey, man. Looking good!” Sero wolf-whistled for emphasis, “Now all you gotta do is act the part. Hop in.” He opened the passenger side door and grandly gestured to it.
“Thanks, I guess” Hitoshi mumbled, folding long legs in as he sat down on a gaudy leopard-print car seat. The van was just as messy inside as he expected. Old soda cans and equipment were scattered about the vehicle, and a body pillow with a mostly undressed female anime character took up part of the backseat.
Sero slammed his door with a screech and walked around the car to get in on the driver’s side. He must have seen the look Shinsou was shooting the pillow because he laughed.
“That’s Hitomi-chan, she’s great for car-pooling. Plus she’s kind of Mina’s unofficial girlfriend. They’re still working out the kinks.” Hanta said with a wink.
Shinsou found himself snorting softly and shaking his head. “Let me guess, she keeps you company on tours?”
“Exactly!” Sero smiled, “But she’s pretty in-demand. My favorite thing is when Eijirou cuddles her and then Mina and Bakugou look jealous.”
Hitoshi saw a chance to ask a question that had been bothering him for a while, “So those two are together?”
Sero turned the key and the van started to hum in a most concerning manner, “Blasty and hard-on? Yeah, but they don’t know it yet. We’ve been trying to tell them but they aren’t having it. They think they’re just friends.”
This was both surprising and entirely expected. If there was anyone who would be blind to knowing he was liked romantically it would be Bakugou. Then again, he’d hoped that Kirishima had the self-esteem to know better, but judging by his on-stage performance that was the crucial lacking component.
“It’s pretty dangerous to date a fellow band member,” Shinsou conceded.
“Yeah,” Hanta drawled, “Pretty dangerous for a band member to date a manager too.” The black-haired man shot Hitoshi a look, before checking the mirror so he could back the car up and out of its parking spot.
“So that’s why Iida left the band,” Shinsou laughed.
He watched Sero visibly flinch at the name, “Dude, I wish.”
Hitoshi felt a little bad making the joke after hearing how sad the guitarist was when thinking about it, so he offered, “I can put in a good word for you? I can’t make any promises but I could do some asking around.”
Hanta stopped the car in shock, “Seriously?”
“Yeah, I could try.”
Sero’s signature grin came back full force, “Look at you, RBF! You’re a good guy. I guess this is the part of the conversation where I tell you that you have my blessing to date Denki.”
Hitoshi did his best not to look taken aback but he had a feeling he failed from the smirk that crawled onto Hanta’s face.
“What do you mean?”
Sero finished pulling the van out of the parking spot and set out on the road, stopping at a red light and turning to him to say, “Oh no. I’m not doing this with two more people. Eiji and Katsuki are bad enough, I’m not adding you and Denks too. Nope.”
Shinsou’s first reaction was to vehemently deny anything, but he tried to stay composed and added, “I thought we just agreed it was in bad taste for a manager to date a band member?”
“When has bad taste ever stopped The Sqwäd?” Sero laughed. “Don’t tell Bakugou I said that, by the way. I’ve been his pet fashion project since high school.”
“You too?” Shinsou asked, feeling even more camaraderie with the other man.
Hanta looked thoughtful as the light turned green and he hit the gas, “Before my ‘hawk I used to have my hair down. Just kinda flat, right? I wasn’t allowed to play for the band until I ‘stopped looking like a fucking nerd’ or whatever. The five of us go way back, but even that wasn’t enough for Katsuki to let it slide. In retrospect, I’m happy for the change. I think I only kept things the same cause I didn’t like to take any chances. I’m a pretty easy-going guy that way. So I get how you must be feeling, being bossed around about your looks. I think you clean up nice, though. I’m not worried about it.”
“I have a feeling you’re ‘not worried’ about a lot of things you probably should be,” Shinsou chuckled, thinking about how this relaxed attitude was probably the only way he could manage being around such a manic group of people.
“Something like that,” Sero allowed with a snort, “but I think you’re gonna be okay. Make us proud tonight, yeah? We have a lot of people to introduce you to.”
“Can I ask exactly what’s happening?” Hitoshi figured if any of them would give him a hint or instruction it would be Sero.
Hanta hummed to himself before going, “I suppose I can give you a hint. See, this is the bar we made our debut at years ago. They’ve seen us all get better and build up a following. The Proving Ground is kind of family now, and if they are going to approve of you joining us, you gotta act the part. A lot of old school punks work and drink there. You’re gonna have to hold your own. We can’t give you any help once we get in there, though I’m sure Denki will try. Just be true to yourself, man. You’ve got a punk in you, I’m sure of it.”
“That’s…” Shinsou paused, “probably the nicest thing any of you have said to me.”
Hanta’s toothy grin reappeared on his face, “Yeah. I’m pretty great, huh? You’re welcome, RBF.”
Shinsou didn’t have the heart to tell him he’d ruined the whole mood by pulling out that nickname, so he just rolled his eyes.
“I’m kinda disappointed though,” Sero continued, “If Denki was here he would have taken the chance to say: got any punk in you? No? Want some?” the man shot him some finger guns in an obvious attempt to copy his fellow guitarist.
Hitoshi couldn’t stop himself from snorting at the sight of it. The man was absolutely right in his impersonation.
The two sat in silence for a few blocks, if you didn’t count the softly playing Misfits album that Sero had turned on. Shinsou couldn’t place the song, but he knew the band.
A thought occurred to him, “Did you do all of this to Tenya?”
“Band Daddy?” Sero asked with a smile, “Nah. We tried but he wasn’t having it. Pissed Bakugou off real good.”
“So I could have just said no?” Shinsou thought about the hole in his eyebrow and the feel of his new leather jacket.
“I mean, you still technically can,” Hanta shrugged, “but that would be a pretty big disappointment. You’ve been a good sport through it all so far, yeah? Don’t waste the good impression you’ve made. Besides, do you honestly want to have Katsuki even more hostile? He looked downright docile in the pictures Kiri sent us. Stay cool.”
When Hitoshi considered the changes he’d gone through in the last few hours, he had to admit he wasn’t exactly against them. He’d never had a look before. If anything his style was defined by a lack of any particular style. His papa would be begging for a photo if he knew. He’d have to remember to take one before the night was over.
The van slowed down in front of a hole-in-the-wall bar, and Shinsou could tell at a glance that this must be the place.
A man with a dog’s face was wearing tight checkered pants and a torn black band shirt and was smoking a cigarette outside of it. He extinguished it on his own thigh when he was finished, before shooting a curious look at the van that stopped in front of him. Shinsou was panicking about this being the caliber of people who he’d be ‘performing’ for tonight, when Sero rolled down the window, “Yo, Hound Dog! How’s it hangin’, man?”
“Well, look who the cat dragged in!” The man’s formerly annoyed looking expression changed to a pleased one in a heartbeat. “I was wondering when you’d get here. The others are already inside,” he finished with a long and happy howl.
This didn’t seem to phase Sero in the slightest as he got out of the car and performed an increasingly difficult looking secret handshake with the wolfish man.
Shinsou stepped out of his side of the van, closing the door carefully behind him. It let out a screech when it shut that made him flinch. The car had gotten him here fine but it seemed pretty dubious upon a second look. He was pretty sure the fender was being kept on entirely by tape.
Hound Dog growled at seeing Hitoshi come around the other side of the car. He couldn’t help but feel like a stranger walking into a dog’s home and being chased out by barks.
Shinsou steeled himself, reminding his anxiety that he was dressed the part and had a job to do so his feelings would just have to settle down. He counted his breaths in what he hoped was a subtle fashion before reaching out a hand to shake.
Hound Dog squinted at him, looked down to his hand, and then back up to his face. He did not extend his own.
Am I supposed to let him sniff it first? Hitoshi wondered to himself, before deciding to start the conversation himself.
“I’m the new manager, my name is Shinsou. It’s nice to meet you.” He felt incredibly awkward and way too formal for someone who just watched another man put out his cigarette on his own body, but it was too late for a first impression.
The wolfish man sniffed the air, “What happened to the other guy?” and then he finished with a yip.
“Iida is on leave. They seem to think I’m a better fit.”
Hound Dog’s eyes seemed to twinkle with mischief, “Let’s find out, then.”
Shinsou looked to Sero for guidance and found the other man shaking his head with a smile on his face. Hanta mouthed, “You’re on your own now.”
“Can I bum a cigarette?” Hitoshi asked, trying to seem casual.
The problem with this is that Shinsou had never smoked a cigarette, but it felt like the right thing to do at the time.
Hound Dog smiled and pulled a new one out of the carton, he was extending it with a clawed hand when a familiar voice yelled, “Shinsou!”
He turned to see Denki and Kirishima coming out of the bar, and they must have quickly assessed the situation because Kaminari snatched the cigarette from Hound Dog’s fingers and popped between his lips instead.
The blonde looked Hitoshi up and down before delivering a wink and purring, “got a light, handsome?”
Kirishima frowned, “I thought you quit smoking? Katsuki is gonna be pissed if he smells it on you.”
Denki shrugged, moving the cigarette to sit in between his fingers, “He’ll just think he’s smelling himself, the hypocrite. Let’s go inside, yeah? I’ll smoke this later. Thanks, Dog!”
Shinsou was pulled inside by his wrist, Kaminari happily guiding him away from a curious looking Hound Dog.
The inside of the bar was lit largely by red-tinted bulbs, and the walls were decorated LP album covers of punk bands from around the world- nearly all of them signed by, who Hitoshi presumed, were the bands that made it. It had a Dive Bar atmosphere, and the patrons seemed to cluster around the room. A few headless mannequins, who were covered in visitor’s graffiti messages, were posed in corners and by the bathroom. Behind the bar was a chalkboard that had the special house drinks listed, and a cartoonish drawing of a man on a skateboard wearing a shirt that read “eat the rich.”
He could hear Sero stroll in behind him, talking to Kirishima about something the two laughed at. Shinsou couldn’t help but wonder if he was the topic.
They spotted Bakugou and Mina by the red-lit bar where he was talking to a woman with angled short purple hair and long earlobes. Katsuki seemed to be largely speaking with his hands while Mina and the disinterested-looking woman nodded along. They caught sight of each other at the same time, and Hitoshi could tell Bakugou was congratulating himself on the outfit they’d picked.
The first thing out of Shinsou’s mouth was, “How did you all get here before us?”
Kirishima laughed, “I was wondering if you’d notice. You and Sero must have had a nice long talk huh? We aren’t far from Harajuku. You could have walked.”
“We had some stuff to go over so I took the scenic route,” Hanta shrugged.
Shinsou looked around to see other patrons were eyeing him up- not all of them in a welcoming manner. He clearly had to win them over, but they didn’t seem the sort to trust easily.
Denki skipped forward and leaned over the bar to loudly kiss the purple-haired girl’s cheek, and received a half-hearted slap across the face for it.
“See how she treats me?” Kaminari dramatically lamented, “and to think we’ve been married for five years.”
Hitoshi’s heart dropped into his stomach, “What?”
The girl snorted, “He’s full of shit. Don’t listen to him.” She extended a hand, “I’m Jirou. You RBF?”
“My actual name is Shinsou, but it’s nice to meet you too.”
He shook hands and he noticed her grip was very strong. She shot him a calculating look before pulling back and busying herself with cleaning glasses.
“Alright, hot shot,” Sero said with a smile, “time to watch baby take his first steps.” He pointed to a table towards the back where a varied group of biker types was crowded around a table covered in mostly empty bottles. “Those lovely people are your audience tonight.”
Shinsou toyed with the studs on his lapel, “What exactly am I supposed to be doing?”
Kaminari took it upon himself to explain, “those guys are like family to us. We’ve been hanging out in this bar since we were old enough to drink-”
“Before we were old enough, actually,” Kirishima corrected.
“The point is that we’ve been here forever, and those folks have watched it all happen. Think of it like us having you meet our parents right?”
Shinsou only hoped these “parents” would be as kind and accommodating as the Bakugous.
Mina called out, “Kan!” and gestured wildly for the bar patron to join them.
A tall man with silver hair stood up and walked over at Mina’s eager behest.
“Come meet our new manager!”
The monstrously large man nodded once in Shinsou’s direction before saying, “At least this one looks the part.”
“You have Bakugou to thank for that,” Hitoshi admitted honestly.
Kan smirked, revealing one canine tooth sticking out from behind a lip. “Does that mean you’re not a real punk?”
“I’m…” Shinsou paused to pick the least dangerous word, “working on it.”
Kan turned around to yell at the table he had come from, “Guys, over here. The squirts got a fancy new manager!”
The way he said it was a bit mocking, and the rest of the people stood up quickly to make their way over.
“You look too young to be managing a band,” a bespectacled woman with long dark hair asked, “what makes you so sure you’re good enough for our babies?”
“Managing is a family business where I come from. I’ve been doing and watching it since I was old enough to walk. I’ll admit this is my first time as a solo-manager, but this is nowhere near my first time working with a talented band.”
He figured throwing in that little compliment would help earn him some points from the motherly acting biker.
She nodded in consideration of his words before asking, “so, what makes you qualified to manage a punk band? I can already tell Katsuki was the one who dressed you, so don’t go pretending you’re part of the scene.”
Hitoshi smirked lightly, “I haven’t carved anarchy symbols into any government buildings lately, but I’m learning a lot about what punk means and how to be part of it. It’s a learning curve, but they seem happy to teach me.”
“And he looks killer in studs,” Denki added with a wink.
Shinsou felt blood rush to his face but did his best not to show any sign of embarrassment in front of the bikers.
The dark-haired woman smiled, “Indeed he does! Yummy in purple, but that’s always been your thing hasn’t it Kami?”
Now it was Denki’s turn to blush, and he scratched the back of his neck anxiously, “Aw, Nemuri. you don’t gotta tell everybody .”
The woman laughed, “maybe not, but there’s someone who just got here that I think can say it all for us.”
Shinsou turned to see Shishikura making his way towards them. He wore a black collared shirt with a red tie and black skinny jeans. On his head was a leather cap with a symbol Hitoshi didn’t recognize. It was clear that he hadn’t noticed Shinsou because Seiji was staring intently at Kaminari.
Shishikura fiddled with his tie before saying, “Hello Denki, you look very handsome tonight.”
“Aw, thanks man!” Kaminari smiled wide before resting a familiar hand on the taller boy’s shoulder, “did you get bigger or am I shrinking?”
Seiji’s cheeks started to pinken when he noticed Shinsou and did a double-take.
“Oh. It’s you.”
“Do I look handsome too?” Hitoshi asked airily.
Shishikura stuck his nose in the air, “You look like a boring man playing at being a punk.”
Hitoshi smiled and gestured to Seiji’s outfit, “at least I don’t look like Green Day in 2004 trying to play at being a leather daddy.”
Nemuri shrieked a laugh, and threw an arm around Shinsou’s shoulder, “I like this one! You should keep him.”
Denki mock-pouted, “Hands off, Kayama! Get your own!” and then the blonde left the near embrace he had with Seiji to stand protectively between Shinsou and the laughing woman. She stepped back with a smile.
“Seiji,” Kaminari started, “I bet you two would get along if you both tried! Shinsou likes motorcycles too. You could totally bond over that! You’re gonna have to work together, so you might as well be friends, right?”
Shishikura shot him a look that clearly displayed just how much he didn’t want his friendship, but forced it into a polite smile when Kaminari turned to look at him. “Yes, I’m sure we’ll get along fine when he learns his place.”
Sero rolled his eyes, clearly giving up, and made his way over to the bar to grab a round of drinks.
“Do you play any instruments?” Kan asked, changing the subject to one with less tension.
Shinsou smiled, thankful that the man was helping to clear the air, “I leave the music playing to the bands I manage. I’ve done some light composition work but I wouldn’t trust myself to play any of it.”
“You write songs?!” Denki shouted, “That’s so cool! You should totally write one for us to play!”
“I’ve never written punk music before. Just classical. I doubt you’d be interested in it.”
Kaminari pouted, “Aw, come on babe! You don’t know that for sure! Will you play for me someday?”
He called me babe .
“Maybe, if you’re good,” Shinsou shrugged, averting his eyes and playing it cool.
“Yes!” Kaminari pumped his fist.
“You needn’t worry, Shinsou. Denki is very good,” Seiji cut in, “I would know.”
Hitoshi knew exactly what the man was getting at, and smiled while he answered, “I look forward to finding out for myself.”
Shishikura’s mouth twisted into a frown that went entirely overlooked by Kaminari.
He quickly lost track of how much time he’d spent there, but when he checked his watch he found that hours had passed of him getting to know the bikers and bar patrons. Jirou had a sharp tongue and flirted ruthlessly with Mina which the others teased her about. Shinsou would be making a jab of his own the next time she tried to insinuate there was anything between him and Denki. He got to know Kan, Hound Dog, and Kayama well, impressing them and others with backstage stories of famous bands and the trouble they’d get into. By the time it was nearly midnight he was drained completely.
“I should be going home,” Hitoshi said to a tipsy Kaminari.
The blonde batted his eyes and slurred, “You’re cute when you’re tired...guess you’re always cute then, huh? Ayyyyy!”
“Alright, it’s bedtime for drunk blondes,” Sero said with finality and started to help pick his friend up from where he’d slumped.
“I’m not drunk! If I was drunk could I do this?” Denki asked while tapping his head with one hand and rubbing the other in circles on his stomach.
Mina snorted, but suddenly stopped laughing with a look of realization on her face. “Oh my gosh, guys! We almost forgot the present!”
All five members of the band suddenly looked very serious, and Mina pulled over her bag with a grin.
“We decided that, if you passed tonight’s little test-”
“Which you totes did,” Denki added.
Mina nudged him out of the way, “ If you passed tonight’s little test, we would give you a gift to show we’ve accepted you as one of the Sqwäd.”
Bakugou nodded with intensity, and Hitoshi was silently honored to have received his approval.
“Okay,” Mina started, pulling out something from her bag, “Here you go, RBF!”
When it was fully unfolded, Hitoshi recognized it was his favorite bomber jacket that she’d stolen from him at the piercing studio. But it had been customized with lots of patches, zippers, some safety pins, and finally- written on the back in a careful arched hand- were the words “Keeper of The Sqwäd” in white lettering.
Shinsou hadn’t had more than a beer, but he felt surprisingly emotional at the sight of his gift. He thought he should be pissed that they stole his coat and jacked it up, but seeing that it had been thoughtfully customized to fit their look while still being true to him, warmed his heart. It captured the entire day’s experience. They had taken a boring nothing and given it color and a purpose. The jacket might as well have been Shinsou himself. His voice broke as he tried to say, “thank you.”
Bakugou waved off the emotion, adding “Just don’t make us regret it, you got that?”
“I won’t let you down,” Hitoshi said, and then he took off his ¾ sleeve leather jacket to exchange it for his new and improved one.
“Group hug!” Mina shouted, before the rest of them all threw their arms around Shinsou, Bakugou had been trapped in the middle and did not hug anyone but didn’t pull away either. For the first time in his life, Shinsou had found a place in the world where he fit.
Tonight's shout out goes to Kerotan!
One of my finest friends and an amazing author in her own right. She does some amazing smut and you should all go read it!
PS. A subtle shout out to the New York City bar "Strangelove" which The Proving Grounds is partially based on. You should totally go! Tell Joey I said hi!
PPS. Thank you again to all the wonderful people who comment. I will respond to everyone and I love you!
Chapter 10: Ace of Diamonds
This chapter is shorter due to my being ill this week. I'm running entirely on Dayquil and pretzels. Please forgive me.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was well past midnight when the six of them stumbled out of The Proving Grounds for the evening. They paused outside to sober up in the night air. Bakugou immediately pulled out a cigarette and Hitoshi, who was a tad tipsy from Nemuri’s urging him to drink, snatched it out of the blonde’s mouth.
“Give me my fucking cig back,” Katsuki growled.
“No,” Shinsou slurred, “It’s bad for you.”
Mina laughed, taking a carton out of her back pocket and shaking it, “Come on, smoking is cool! Sid Vicious smoked!”
Sero snorted, “You’re honestly referencing Sid Vicious for good lifestyle choices?”
She wrinkled her nose, “Okay, fair.”
“You’re all going to stop smoking,” Shinsou said with finality.
“Because I have asthma,” Hitoshi sniffed, “and none of you are famous enough to argue with me about it and win.”
Surprisingly, all Bakugou did was snort.
Kaminari, however, looked shell-shocked, “You were going to smoke earlier with Hound Dog and you have asthma ?”
Shinsou waved him off with one hand- he didn’t want to think about how embarrassing it was to have to be saved by his crush.
It was at that moment that his feelings for Denki really hit him. Shinsou was hoping it was only attraction, which could fade or be discounted in time, but he realized that he actually had feelings for the man.
Hitoshi must have made a face because Kirishima laughed and slapped him hard on the back, “I’ve been trying to get Katsuki to quit for ages. Good luck, bro.”
Bakugou scowled, “you’ve never said shit about my smoking, shitty hair.”
“I did too!” Kirishima pouted, “I keep telling you lung cancer isn’t manly!”
“But you never told me not to do it,” Katsuki grumbled.
Shinsou had heard that it was harder to quit smoking than it was to quit heroin, but apparently all Bakugou needed was some interference from the boy he fancied. He would have rolled his eyes if he had the coordination to do so.
This bonding experience had gone, overall, way better than he’d expected. Shinsou felt around his back pocket for his phone and pulled it out to look up directions back to his apartment. His current background was a photo Eri had sent him of her holding their cat Saffy who looked incredibly distressed.
Denki tapped the corner of his phone, “Is that your girlfriend? She looks way too young for you.”
Hitoshi snorted, “That’s my sister. What kind of cradle robber do you think I am?”
Kaminari ignored the second part of that, and went on to say, “You two don’t really look alike.”
Mina slapped his shoulder, “Denki that’s super rude! What if they were adopted?”
“We were adopted,” Shinsou drawled.
“Oops?” Kaminari’s voice broke halfway through. Amber eyes looked equal parts embarrassed and regretful.
“It’s fine,” Hitoshi shook his head.
“Hey, ‘Toshi!” Denki started, suddenly all smiles, “wanna see a magic trick?”
Kirishima started to laugh, “Oh man, not this again.”
The electric blonde disregarded him and pulled a deck of beat-up cards out from his bag.
“Sure,” Shinsou shrugged.
The blonde held the cards out in front of him, “Okay, now take a card from anywhere in the deck. Look at it, memorize it, and then put it back anywhere you like.”
“Alright,” Shinsou plucked one out, the ace of diamonds, and slipped it back before he handed the deck back to Kaminari. “Now what?”
“Visualize your card and I’ll use my psychic powers to see into your mind and I’ll tell you what it is!”
Shinsou snorted but closed his eyes, skeptical but interested to see where this is going. When he opened them, Denki stood in front of him dramatically holding one hand to his forehead and humming. “I can see it now...was your card... the ace of can I have your number?”
Hitoshi flicked the blonde on the nose. “I’m not sure if I’m more disappointed with myself for falling for it, or you for coming up with it.”
Denki laughed, “Hey, it worked once!”
“ Once,” Sero emphasized.
“Wait, you already have my number,” Shinsou realized.
Kaminari lit up with a grin, “Oh man, I totally do! That’s so awesome.”
Hitoshi shook his head in exasperation. He hadn’t had a crush on someone since the 6th grade and he can’t even remember that kid’s name, but now one dork shows up and suddenly his chest feels too tight. He would never hear the end of it if he told his dads, much less if he said something to Eri.
The electric blonde hiccuped before adding, “I just realized, if you put Kachan and Eiji’s instruments together you’d get a drumbass !”
“Alright drunky,” Sero said to Denki with an amused sigh, “let’s get you home.”
Kaminari pouted but allowed himself to be led towards the van, Mina and Sero at his side. Bakugou and Kirishima were talking separately but seemed to agree on heading home as well.
“You gonna go home too, handsome?” Denki tried to wink but only ended up closing both eyes.
Hitoshi rubbed the back of his neck anxiously, “I should be going.”
Shinsou waved goodbye to the band and turned to leave when he felt a tugging on his jacket sleeve. The purple-haired man looked back and felt something soft and warm brush up against his cheek. By the time he’d collected himself he saw Denki running away from him and back to his friends.
Was I just...kissed?
Hitoshi held a hand against his face and watched as the band got into the van and drove away.
When he got home Shinsou had completely sobered up and was feeling exhausted. The day seemed infinitely longer than it had been. As he closed and locked the door behind him he heard his cat, Mouse, yowling from the bedroom. He knew it couldn’t have been due to hunger since during a particularly difficult bout of insomnia he had seen on TV, and then bought, a machine that automatically dispensed cat food into a bowl every six hours.
He made his way to his bedroom and found Mouse sprawled out on his pillow, her brown fluffy tail swaying beside her. Shinsou fell onto the bed face first, still dressed in his clothes and newly improved bomber jacket. He’d felt phone buzz a couple of times but he hadn’t bothered to check it. He would do so in the morning. For now, he had a few days of sleep to catch up on. Shinsou buried his face into Mouse’s furry tummy and let himself fall asleep faster than he had in years.
Hitoshi woke up to a tail in his face and fur in his mouth. As he rolled over and rubbed his eyes, he noticed his phone was flashing.
The purple-haired man picked it up and found that there were many missed text messages from last night and this morning.
The first three were from Eri.
Brat: how come you never let me play dress up with you?
Brat: whats a girl gotta do :((((
Brat: papa is super proud btw
Hitoshi frowned, confused at how his sister could possibly know what happened yesterday. He’d planned to see them for dinner some night and tell his family about it then, but somehow she already knew?
The next text was from his dad.
Dad: Good to see you’ve made friends, but try and remain professional. You have an image to uphold. You’ll also have plenty of work to do tomorrow. I sent an email with the details.
Could Eri have found out somehow and then spoken to their fathers? Shinsou checked to see Hizashi had texted him as well.
Papa: my baby boy!!! u looked so good!!!
Papa: i always knew u took after me!!
Papa: dont forget to clean ur piercing and introduce your friends to me next time!!
Now he was really confused. Shinsou swiped back to his main messages and responded to Eri’s.
You: Who told you about that?
He only had to wait a moment before she started typing back.
Brat: omg did you really not know?
Brat: they have an Instagram!
Brat: papa and I were looking at it all of last night!
Shinsou swallowed dryly before realizing that Mina and Kirishima took a lot of photos yesterday. He was wondering just how many of them had made their way onto the internet, so he googled the band and found their social media pages quickly.
Pulling up their Instagram he saw pictures of himself looking unhappy in the variety of outfits that they’d given him to try, as well as photos of him and Denki holding hands at the piercing studio. Lastly, a few were taken of him at The Proving Grounds wearing his new jacket and looking thoroughly beguiled next to a cheery, but red-faced, Sqwäd.
Hitoshi caught himself smiling at the memory. He’d hadn’t seen pictures of himself looking -begrudgingly- happy since he was a kid. Going through the foster care system had made him grow up so fast. It had taken him ages to get to where he is today, and he owed it all to the love of his new family. It appeared this band was starting to have a similar effect.
He opened up his email to search for the message his father had sent him, and found one that read: Photoshoot times.
Shinsou opened it and found that his father had scheduled for The Sqwäd to meet with their publicity team to take photographs for media reproduction. Now that they had been signed to a label it was common for the company to gather images to use for promotional purposes. The Sqwäd had also only put out an EP on their own, never a full album. Hitoshi knew that was the next step. Put out an album and then tour it around Japan while riding the hype of its release.
Shinsou needed to talk to them about the future and start implementing the changes he’s been thinking about, and texted Bakugou to ask him to gather The Sqwäd at Hitoshi’s apartment by this afternoon.
Big things were about to happen, Shinsou was sure of it.
Tonight's shout out goes to Maryammonster!
Monster! I adore you wholeheartedly and I thank you for being part of my fam!
Chapter 11: Our Roots
Thank you to everyone for your well-wishes! I'm still a bit sick but I'm getting better and I'm sure I've got all of you to thank for it.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The knock on the door came as one long, four short, a pause, and then two short. Even if Shinsou wasn’t expecting The Sqwäd, he would have guessed they were behind it. When he opened the door, he was met with Kaminari preparing to knock a second time.
“Shinsou! Light of my life, fire of my lions!”
Hitoshi wouldn’t have guessed someone like Denki had read Lolita , but it startled a laugh out of him all the same. “I believe the quote was ‘fire of my loins .’”
Kaminari shrugged, “Same difference,” before letting himself and the other band members inside.
They swarmed his apartment quickly. Mina instantly started looking intently at the photos on the walls, pulling some of them off of nails to show to Sero who seemed more intent on searching for something.
“You have a TV, right?” Hanta asked.
“I use my laptop,” Shinsou murmured, suddenly feeling like inviting them over was a horrible idea.
Sero gave him a pitying look and shook his head as though to acknowledge the great tragedy.
Kirishima and Kaminari had both made themselves comfortable on his couch, they looked up at Hitoshi expectantly.
Bakugou walked straight through the living room and into Shinsou’s kitchen.
“You live in this shithole? I thought you worked for Logical Ruse? What, they don’t pay you?”
Shinsou wasn’t sure why he expected them to behave differently, even after last night’s bonding experience. They were still the same group of people he’d met choking to death from using a smoke machine in a small space.
“I like this apartment,” he found himself arguing, “I don’t need anything fancy. So why waste money?”
Kirishima smiled, “It’s nice to see you making the best of things!”
Which, though it was said in the nicest way, was the sassiest that Shinsou had ever heard Kirishima be.
Denki bellowed a laugh before he got distracted by a photograph that Mina had swooped in to show him.
“This guy looks familiar,” the blonde said, pointing at Hizashi. “Any reason I’d know him?”
If his papa had been wearing the extravagant outfits he DJs in or had his hair in its signature upward swoop, Shinsou was sure they’d have recognized the Present Mic. But with his hair down and dressed in matching Christmas sweaters with a disgruntled Aizawa and a ten-year-old Eri he was unrecognizable.
“Probably not,” Hitoshi said. He’d play that card when it suited him.
To be perfectly honest, his family was a double-edged sword. On one hand, they gave him an amazing life and a brilliant profession to join but on the other, it was easy for someone to look at him and say he only got as far as he did because his parents ran the company. He’d begged Aizawa and Hizashi to let him use his biological family’s last name so that he wouldn’t be forever associated as someone who got to where he was by the nepotism. His parents had conceded but tried to convince him that his worth as a person had nothing to do with their own successes and that anything he got he’d have to get with his own merit. Which he knew, and there was never a moment where Aizawa had ever handed him anything in this job, but other people wouldn’t know how hard he worked.
Bakugou came back from his kitchen holding a mug that read ‘World’s Okayest Brother’ on it.
Mina put a picture back on the wall before settling down on the couch beside her two friends, and Sero perched himself against the couch’s arm.
“Well?” Denki prompted.
Shinsou pulled his phone out of his back pocket and opened the email he’d gotten from his father, before saying, “The head of Logical Ruse Records has scheduled you all to meet with a professional photographer today. He wants us to move forward with your first on-label album, and that means plenty of images for the marketing team to play with and for the design team to use when it comes time to put together the album cover.”
Sero and Mina fist-bumped at the news, and Kirishima and Kaminari exchanged excited glances. Bakugou was the only one who looked unperturbed, but seeing as his family has probably been having him model clothing for most of his life, it wasn’t surprising.
Hitoshi continued, “I expect you to be on your best behavior- and yes, I know that means I shouldn’t be expecting much. Please, however, try and remain professional when in front of the other Logical Ruse staff. You don’t have to hear about what they think of you, but I definitely will.”
“Wait,” Mina hummed. “We didn’t bring any clothes and props or stuff!”
“They’ll have everything you need at the studio, but if they allow you to bring your own materials you can grab them at the break we’ll get at 5 pm. Until then, please use whatever you’re given.”
Kirishima looked up to Bakugou and said, “Are you gonna be okay with wearing the stuff they give us?”
Shinsou had considered the blonde might dislike it, but he also assumed he’d be professional enough when it mattered to suck it up.
Katsuki wore a serious expression, “We’re gonna make those clothes look better on us than they do on anyone else, hear me?”
The rest of the band cheered, and Hitoshi rolled his eyes. Somewhat fondly, but he hoped it didn’t show. He shouldn’t be surprised the ash-blonde had found a way to turn it into a competition, but it did reveal to Shinsou how he might better encourage the man to follow directions the next time he had to pitch something.
“Did you bring the van?” Hitoshi asked.
“You mean The Sqwäd Mobile?” Sero smiled, all teeth.
Bakugou snorted, already on his way to rinse out the cup and return it to the kitchen, “Don’t think we aren’t addressing this when we have a moment.” He gestured to the apartment around him with disdain, “I’m depressed just standing in it.”
Shinsou stopped himself from arguing the point. He knows his style is best described as a lack thereof, but it might not hurt to have a touch of personality in his house. Growing up, he’d never have to worry about his home looking lived in. With a younger sister like Eri and a papa like Hizashi there was no shortage of knick-knacks and personality scattered around the house. Living on his own had left him with nobody to breath life into the place, and he had no idea how to do it himself. Maybe it wouldn’t hurt to give them a chance to make his apartment feel more like a space someone actually inhabited.
“I’ll think about it,” Shinsou shrugged, hoping to look as unaffected as he sounded.
Denki stage whispered to Kirishima, “I think that means yes!”
Hitoshi didn’t confirm or deny it, but he did make sure to grab his bomber jacket on his way out.
The Sqwäd Mobile arrived at the studio five minutes behind schedule, and Shinsou finally got a taste of what it was like to ride in a van with his new band. They squabbled about the passenger seat, who got to cuddle with the body pillow, what music to play, and even about which route would take them to a location that none of them were even familiar with. He’d been stuck between Mina and Kirishima, as Bakugou demanded shotgun, while Kaminari kicked his legs out in the last row.
They’d been debating the merits of early New Wave bands versus later ones when they arrived at the studio’s location.
Six cramped bodies happily left the van and crowded around the front door. Bakugou pushed it open with the air of someone with no fear of the unknown and looked behind him to encourage the others to move.
Shinsou strode by Katsuki til he was the first in their line, and directed the band follow behind him up a flight of stairs.
“I’ve met the photographer before, he’s done shooting for a lot of our label’s big names. He’s a bit of a perfectionist and he always has a specific idea in mind, so humor his wishes. Hakamata is the best in the business for a reason so follow his instructions.”
Bakugou frowned, “Did you say Hakamata?”
Hitoshi nodded, “You might know him better by his alias, Best Jeanist.”
“Holy fuck!” Mina shouted, “Didn’t he win the Best Jeanist Award, like, eight times in a row?”
“That’s the one,” Shinsou affirmed.
Sero gave an approving whistle, “Did they name the award after him or was it the other way around?”
Kirishima shrugged, “I dunno, but how embarrassing would it be if you lost the award to someone else but your own name was Best Jeanist?”
“Aw man, that’d be so awkward,” Kaminari winced. “ Sorry, Best Jeanist but you aren’t the best jeanist. ..or whatever.”
Mina chuckled at the thought, hooking arms with Sero and Kirishima, “I wonder if he’s gonna make us wear all denim. Cause, I can rock a pair of jeans but the head-to-toe look just isn’t me.”
Katsuki shook his head, “He isn’t doing shit we don’t want him to.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Shinsou advised as he reached the correct floor and hit the buzzer by a wide studio door.
A nasally “ Who is it? ” came from the intercom, and Katsuki answered with “The Sqwäd” before Hitoshi had a chance to say anything.
A couple of beats passed before they heard a small sigh came through, followed by the buzz of an unlocked door.
Shinsou opened it and gestured for the others to enter. The band walked down a hallway lined in various props and lighting equipment, racks of clothing, and a row of mirrors. They finally came to a large space that was dramatically lit with a plain white backdrop. A man dressed in navy jean pants and jacket, wearing a scarf across his neck and face, watched them with judging eyes.
Hitoshi noticed that they paused on Bakugou before a look of resignation came on the man’s face.
“Pleasure to see you again, Katsuki,” Hakamata drawled.
“Tsunagu,” Bakugou grumbled back.
Shinsou looked between them and could tell there was history. It must not have been well-known since the rest of the band looked just as surprised.
“Dude, you know Best Jeanist ?” Kirishima said with awe.
“When I first heard, I had been hoping,” Tsunagu started, “that one of the names given to me by Aizawa were merely a coincidence. At least I already know your taste. I’ve drafted outfits for your bandmates as well. My assistant will show you.”
The tall man clapped his hands twice and a blonde woman ran in from another room. She bowed gracelessly, a clipboard held against her chest, as she greeted them. “I’m Takeyama. You must be The Sqwäd! We have everything set up in the other room for you. There are two outfits chosen for each of you, and you can decide which one you like best. If you must mix and match you may, but anything else is non-negotiable. Make-up will be with you in a minute.”
Before the band could react she pushed them all into the room she just left, another wide space with a wall of mirrors with chairs in front of them, reminiscent of a salon. On the other side of the room, five hanger racks sat spaced apart from each other. All of them had a sign with the name of the corresponding musician on them.
Takeyama continued, “I know you must be anxious to see your outfits but I’m not risking you getting any makeup on them, so get that done first!”
Mina pulled the boys towards the mirrored side of the room, “Makeover time!”
Bakugou looked at the bevy of foundations, pencils, eyeshadows, and more with a critical eye. Shinsou remembered Katsuki did makeup tutorials on their Instagram and wondered which of these products he’d already tried. Sero looked like he was bracing himself for something physically painful as he sat down at one of the makeup stations.
A mousy brunette man came over carrying a large compact of more products. Shinsou saw him start to talk with the band when Tsunagu called for his attention. The purple-haired man walked back to the main room to speak.
Hakamata’s eyes smiled, “Have you managed to tame them yet?”
“I’m working on it. I’ve gotten a lot further than I thought I would,” Hitoshi chuckled.
“Further than Iida did, certainly,” Tsunagu stated, absentmindedly fiddling with the aperture on the camera hanging from his neck. “You know he was supposed to bring them to me too? It was the morning of our appointment that I received the call about him leaving. I half-expected to get that same call about you today.”
Hitoshi rubbed the back of his neck, “Dad didn’t raise me to be the quitting type.”
Tsunagu nodded in approval and gave him a reassuring pat on his shoulder, “Let me show you what I have planned for the day.”
Hitoshi was brought to a desk that was covered in pictures already taken of The Sqwäd from live shows and their various social media. Scraps of various fabric types were pinned to various pictures, clearly having been paired with what he thought would look best with their current look.
“I did some reading into their history,” Hakamata pulled up the fansite that Shishikura was in charge of, “and I chose some designs to coincide with their roots, so to speak. I wanted a classic punk look but something a bit more polished than they usually go for. A couple of accessories I even took from the Bakugou family’s new Winter line. I’m sure you’ll recognize them.”
Shinsou nodded, “You’ve certainly done your homework, but I expected nothing less.”
A shriek sounded from the adjoining room, and Hitoshi whipped around to see what had happened. He dashed to the doorway to find Mina trying to force a jacket onto Denki.
“I leave you alone for one minute and you start something,” the purple-haired man said mostly to himself.
“RBF! You gotta see this!” Ashido laughed, finally leaving Kaminari alone in order to better display the clothing for Shinsou. “It’s just like old times!”
Hitoshi was about to ask for clarification when Denki hissed “Shhhh!” and tried to cover her mouth with his hands.
“What Denks doesn’t want you to know is our humble origin story,” Sero chuckled. “We started out as a My Chemical Romance cover band.”
Denki gasped, “Dude, don’t tell him that! It’s super embarrassing.’
“And they have the parade coats!” Mina shouted, showing off the black jacket with white epaulets and stitching across the chest in neat rows. Each row was attached to the one beneath it with a small chain link, and studs lined the stiff collars.
Tsunagu stood beside Shinsou looking pleased with himself, and suddenly Hitoshi understood what he meant when he said he was calling back to the band’s ‘roots’.
Mina unfastened her own jacket and slipped it on, before grabbing a bottle of hairspray and singing into it, “When I was...a young boy…”
Bakugou threw a bottle of nail polish in her direction and she hit it away with her hand, but it had her giggling so much that she had to stop singing. Sero apologized to the makeup artist on their behalf and Hitoshi was glad at least one of them was aware of the chaos they started.
Kaminari looked as though someone had read his death sentence as he sat mortified and dodging Shinsou’s eyes.
“It’s not that lame. You know,” Denki rambled, “Panic! At The Disco was practically a Blink-182 cover band when it got started. Paramore did a bunch of covers early on too. If we’re talking classic then The Rolling Stones only played other people’s music for years…”
“I don’t think it’s lame, Kaminari,” Shinsou said softly. “In fact, I’m pretty sure Nirvana basically started off as a Creedence Clearwater Revival cover band.”
Denki finally met his eyes with a smile, “Dude, you know about Nirvana? I thought you were all, you know, Shostakovich or bust, ” the blonde said the last part in what was supposed to be an impersonation of Shinsou in the way his face went blank and his voice dropped.
Hitoshi grinned, before adding his own imitation, “ Dude , you know about Shostakovich?”
“Shut up!” Kaminari laughed, his mood instantly improved.
The assistant, Takeyama, clapped her hands to get everyone’s attention. “Alright kids, put the clothes back. It’s time for makeup now! If I wanted to run a daycare I wouldn’t have gone into fashion!”
Shinsou thought of how his jacket now read ‘Keeper of the Sqwäd’ and thought it was high time he acted like it.
“First one of you to shut up gets to ride shotgun on the way home.”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Niji!
You are one of my favorite people and I wish I got to speak with you more than I do!
PS. Another thanks to Spawn who helped me figure out styling. You're a lifesaver, babe!
The bribe worked, and the group dissolved into whispers and finally silence. Mina relinquished her tight hold on the costume bag and returned to sitting at one of the makeup stations. Kaminari mimed zipping his lips shut and threw a thumbs up to emphasize his point.
Shinsou turned back to Takeyama, pleased to be able to show his band was ready to cooperate. Sure, it had taken them a bit to get their act together but they could behave when they wanted to. He hoped.
The assistant looked at him thankfully before directing the makeup artist to start. Hitoshi watched with great amusement as Bakugou ignored the quiet man, who was currently trying to shake his hand, in favor of doing his makeup by himself. The ash-blonde immediately selected a series of pallets of foundation and concealer and got to work dabbing it expertly onto his face. The meek makeup artist stepped back and approached Mina instead who happily waved him over for assistance.
Sero, Kaminari, and Kirishima were casually chatting with each other while waiting for their turn. Hanta was repeatedly checking his phone and Shinsou felt the urge to ask if he’d had any contact with “Band Daddy” before he realized he could just message the man himself.
He had nothing pressing to do while Tsunagu finished setting up the cameras and the band waited to get their makeup finished, so he pulled out his phone and texted his vacationing coworker.
You: Are you aware that The Sqwäd has a flattering nickname for you?
Shinsou wasn’t so one-dimensional that he felt it necessary to start a conversation with the usual “hello” one might give. He’d much rather jump in and hear what the straight-laced man thought of his former band.
Iida: I do not believe I was told of a nickname. It sounds as though you are getting along, which I am pleased to hear. They are a challenging band but I believe they mean well!
You: Challenging Is a very polite way of putting it. I would have thought that the people who forced you to take your first vacation in four years would be called something a bit more accurate. Like maddening.
Iida: Have you decided to stop working with them?
You: Absolutely not. You know they call you Band Daddy? How could I possibly tear myself away from that?
The pause between messages was longer than usual and Shinsou desperately wished he could see the man’s face at the news.
Iida: I did not realize they saw me as a father figure! How heartwarming.
Shinsou sighed, he should have known better than to think Tenya would understand the alternative meaning of “daddy.” He wasn’t even sure how he was going to explain it. The idea of telling Iida about any form of slang, much less a sexual one, felt similarly to when he accidentally told Eri there was no such thing as Santa Claus.
When he looked up from his phone he found Mina had finished. She wore a winged eyeliner look, her pink skin highlighted with a shimmering dark red eyeshadow that neatly stopped along the curve of the wing. Mascara was expertly applied to create a sharp shape that flattered the length of her lashes. Bakugou gave an approving glare when he inspected it, and that was proof of its success more than anything else.
While the others cooed over Mina’s face, and Kirishima started to talk to the makeup artist about his own look, Hitoshi noticed Sero gazing at his phone again. This time he wore a perplexed expression. Before Shinsou had the chance to ask if something was wrong, Hanta said “have you been texting Iida?”
“I was giving him an update,” Hitoshi replied, debating whether or not he’d divulge that his real plan was to see how Iida took to being referred to as ‘Band Daddy.’
“Oh,” Sero muttered, still looking distressed. “I didn’t realize he saw us in such a...paternal light. He just called me son.”
Alright, Shinsou conceded, maybe I fucked up.
“I may have told him about your charming nickname, but I don’t think he understood.”
By this point, Mina and Kaminari had started obviously eavesdropping.
“Dude, you told him about Band Daddy ?” Denki laughed.
“He thinks you see him as a father figure,” Shinsou admitted. “He seemed pretty touched about the whole thing and I didn’t have the heart to correct him.”
“I don’t blame you,” Mina sighed, “but we do kind of see him that way. Well, some of us.” She elbowed Sero at the end and he gave her a dirty look.
“I already told you it’s not like that,” Hanta gave an unconvincing shrug. “We just get along. That’s all.”
“I’m sure you wish you could get along all night, huh?” Kaminari wiggled his eyebrows, immediately getting shoved backward when he finished.
Shinsou took a discrete picture with his phone of the three of them messing around and sent it to Tenya.
Iida: Please inform Sero that his haircut is very flattering!
Shinsou did a double-take. Had Sero even gotten a haircut? His mohawk looked the same as it always did.
“Did you get a haircut?”
Sero lit up, “Yeah, man. Thanks for noticing! It was just a trim but how’s it look?”
Hitoshi smirked, “Iida thinks it’s very flattering.”
Shinsou managed to keep himself from laughing as he watched Hanta go through all five stages of grief at once.
Red-faced, Sero only managed to come up with, “Oh.”
Kirishima, whose makeup was done as a largely natural look with minimal eyeliner, finally came over to see what the fuss was about.
“Is Hanta okay?”
“More than okay,” Mina assured with a grin.
Bakugou looked Eijirou over carefully before clicking his tongue loudly and pulling the man’s face towards him by his chin. He licked his thumb and carefully wiped foundation away from where it had covered the small scar near Kirishima’s eye.
“Better,” Katsuki allowed, before returning to painstakingly lining his own cats-eyes.
Sero smirked at the gobsmacked look on Kirishima’s face, probably pleased it wasn’t just him in the proverbial gay hot seat.
Shinsou picked up his phone to let Iida know his comment was received.
You: He appreciated you noticing. I’m sure he’d say thank you if he could.
Iida: Can he not?
You: Fair point.
“You know,” Hitoshi started conversationally, “you should probably tell him you said thanks. It sounds like he wants to hear it from you, not me.”
Sero gave him a dark look but picked up his own beat-up and tape-covered cell to text the other man.
The makeup artist called Kaminari over for his turn and the blonde happily tottered over.
Takeyama sent a mousy woman with glasses to direct Mina to the clothes picked for her. The pink girl immediately swept them up and ran to a curtained area to change.
Shinsou’s phone buzzed in his pocket.
Iida: Thank you for encouraging him to reach out. He had not texted me in some time and I was becoming concerned!
Hitoshi was pretty sure Sero had mentioned hearing from him the other day, which meant either Iida had no chill or he had assumed Hanta’s most likely awkward and unsure silence was actually dislike instead of nervous interest.
After the kindness that Hanta had shown him yesterday he felt obligated to pay it back somehow. It also wouldn’t hurt for lonely and intrepid Iida to have someone special in his life, but he’d keep that to himself for now.
Mina came out from behind the curtain with a bellowing, “Ta-dah!”
She struck a pose with an expectant look. Her outfit was all shades of black, white, and grey. Her black marching band themed jacket was tailored close to the front of her chest, but ran long behind her. The chains holding each stripe across jingled as she spun around. A tight white crop top stood out from underneath it. Her shorts were plaid and stopped around the bottom of her thighs, where bare pink skin eventually lead to a pair of tall white socks and chunky black calf-length platform combat boots. Both hands had fingerless gloves that cut off directly beneath the palm. Around one wrist was a thinly braided black bracelet that carried a red charm.
Kaminari started to wolf whistle and clap, which startled the man doing his makeup into stopping. Kirishima and Sero made approving noises while Bakugou didn’t say anything particularly offensive so he must have approved.
Mina beamed, “I took a peek at all our outfits! We’re practically matching but we all have our own accessories! Denki your choker is gonna look super cute.”
Kirishima, excited by Mina’s energy, hopped up out of his chair to get his own costume and pulled Bakugou along with him. The two both grabbed their respective outfits and headed to the back to change while Sero, Mina, and Kaminari chuckled and gave a low “Ooooooh!” at the sight of them disappearing behind the curtain together. The fabric parted and Bakugou’s hand stuck out to flip them off, which only made the others laugh harder.
"Don't mind him," Sero said to Shinsou. "His preferred method of contraception is his personality."
The makeup artist finally wrangled Kaminari into sitting still for him. So far the guitarist had a light green eyeliner along one lid, and possibly mascara. Shinsou watched as the man carefully applied lip gloss to the blonde’s mouth. Hitoshi found himself wondering if that always looked obscene or if Denki was just a bad influence. Shinsou’s mind had been more in the gutter lately than it had been most of his life, but he tried not to examine why that was any further.
Tsunagu tapped Hitoshi on the shoulder to get his attention, and then lead him back to the studio space where they would soon be taking pictures. The two men toured the area and the props that had been brought out. A number of marching band implements and a row of guitars and basses were hung up. All brightly polished to look their best in pictures. Shinsou recalled how beat-up The Sqwäd’s own instruments were and made a mental note to look into the prices of better models. Hakamata would cry at the sight of them, he was sure.
A shout got his attention, and Shinsou turned around to see the band had finished with makeup and costuming.
The men all wore the same stylized black and white marching band jackets, though Kirishima had taken his off and tied it around his waist leaving him in a white tank top. Their monochrome plaid pants were tucked into heavy boots of varying styles, and Shinsou could see Kaminari’s shoes had a slight heel to them that made his height more level with the rest of the band. Bakugou’s pants were baggier than the others and hung a bit low on his waist despite the studded belts he wore.
Denki’s collar clipped in the front and was designed with a lightning bolt pendant hanging from the middle of it, Sero wore a conductor’s hat with a tilt so it didn’t crumple his mohawk, Bakugou’s usual plug earrings were exchanged for a glass set with an orange “X” in the middle, and Kirishima’s face had eyeblack smudged on both cheeks.
Takeyama clapped her hands together, thankful they had managed to contain themselves long enough to get everything on and ready for shooting. Tsunagu nodded his approval, and gestured for the band to join him in front of the cameras.
Shinsou stayed back and watched as the group was directed into various poses, their bodies physically moved into position by a picky Hakamata. They looked fierce in their outfits and Hitoshi felt a swell of pride at the sight of them. He snuck another picture with his phone and sent it to his family’s group message.
His papa responded at his usual speed, followed by Eri and then his father’s more relaxed commentary.
Papa: they look so good!!!
Brat: omg i love it!
Dad: You got them there on time? I never received word from Tsunagu so I assumed the worst.
He was hoping for a compliment from his father but he knew better than to expect that before the day was over.
You: Yes, we got here on time. They’ve been behaving. As much as they can, anyway.
His papa sent back a smiley face cat emoji that made Shinsou roll his eyes. He was sure Aizawa was doing the same.
Brat: i tried one of the drummers eye makeup thingys on insta and it was killer! tell him i said thank you!
Dad: Make sure to thank T for the favor. He wasn’t going to work with them after the first cancellation but he made an exception since they were your band. Tell him he’s invited to dinner if he wishes.
Shinsou looked up to find Hakamata had already started taking photos. Currently, Kirishima was carrying Mina piggyback while she threw Sero’s hat into the air. Sero and Denki had both tried to carry Bakugou but that only caused the ash blonde to start smoking from his hands in warning.
Outside of when the others were involved, Bakugou followed modeling directions like an old pro- he would still harangue Takeyama whenever she suggested a pose, but he followed through with ease of skill. Hitoshi was sure his pictures would look great, despite the man’s endlessly ferocious facial expressions.
Tsunagu did a series of solo photos for each band member, and had to physically push Kaminari’s fingerguns down repeatedly as that seemed to be his natural reflex for pictures. Mina danced and struck dynamic poses with all of her usual energy. By the time they brought in instruments- Bakugou receiving a pair of drumsticks and Mina a microphone- the rest of the band had followed her lead with action shots of their own. They strummed unplugged instruments. Playing their own songs and singing along. Bakugou clacked his drumsticks against each other to keep time while Hakamata took photo after photo. Even unplugged and unpowered they sounded good. Hitoshi made a note in his phone to request to hear some acoustic versions of their songs. They always made for good bonus tracks on albums, or more palatable demos to send to radios.
His thoughts were interrupted by his name being called by his bandmates. All but Bakugou were gesturing for him to get closer. Hitoshi walked over, wondering what was the matter when Kaminari came over to start tugging him towards the group by his wrist.
“You gotta join us! Please take a picture with us?” the blonde guitarist asked with a hopeful expression. “I’m pretty sure that if we don’t get a selfie with you today that Mina and I will cry forever.”
Bakugou snapped, "Anyone ever tell you that you’re real over-the-top for a bottom?”
Mina shrieked with laughter and the others quickly joined her. Denki blushed and let go of Hitoshi’s wrist, but only after he was in front of the cameras with them.
“Can we take a pic with him?” Mina asked Tsunagu with her best puppy eyes.
Shinsou couldn’t see the man’s mouth but he looked pleased as he pretended to be put out, sighing, “Oh very well, but only a couple.”
“I don’t really look the part,” Hitoshi mumbled, trying to pull himself out of the spotlight. There was a reason he enjoyed being a manager and it was not for the attention. He liked the satisfaction that comes with helping people to be their best selves and problem solving whatever obstacles came their way. He loved music and he adored the culture of clubs and concert halls. The industry could be a mess, but it was his mess and he wouldn’t have it any other way.
“Easily solved,” Denki chirped. He dragged one finger through the eyeblack on Kirishima’s cheeks before adding them to Shinsou’s, Sero gave the purple-haired man his marching cap to hold, and Kirishima draped the jacket that had been around his waist over Hitoshi’s shoulders.
“There!” Mina smiled, pinching his cheek. She turned to Tsunagu and handed him her cellphone, asking “can you take a shot of us with this? I wanna post it to our Instagram right away! I’ll send everyone a copy too!”
Hakamata huffed but acquiesced, and soon the rest of the band was crowding around Shinsou in order to all fit in frame together. Denki threw an arm around his waist while throwing up a peace sign with his other hand. Anxious at the proximity and unsure of his own pose, Hitoshi refused to smile but compromised by holding a hand up in an unenthusiastic peace sign as well. Tsunagu chuckled to himself as he took a couple of pictures on Mina’s cell phone before taking a few of the group on his professional camera.
And if Hitoshi made one of those photos his phone’s wallpaper? Well, that’s nobody’s business but his own.
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Peach!
I am so lucky to have you as a friend! Thank you for sticking things out, even though life is hard as hell. You are a gem, my love.
PS. My next fic is going to happen in a nudist colony so I never have to write about fashion ever again, thanks.
By the time Tsunagu was finished taking their many pictures, the smudged paint on Shinsou’s cheeks had nearly faded. The purple-haired man had ended up in more photos than he’d planned, and he’d only realized it after Mina excitedly started to show him the behind-the-scenes shots she’d taken. His personal favorite was a shot of Kaminari pantsing a furious Bakugou, and Shinsou was texted a copy right before she deleted it from her phone in front of the demanding drummer. He’d have to congratulate her for that later when he sent her a copy.
Shinsou had thanked Hakamata for his time and talent, adding that he was always welcome to come by the Aizawa-Yamada household for dinner. Best Jeanist had promised he’d visit and instructed him to wait a few days before expecting finished photos to be sent to Logical Ruse’s marketing department. The photographer had also insisted that Katsuki tell his parents he sent his regards, which the fiery man insisted he wouldn’t. Hitoshi suspected the Bakugou family would hear all about it one way or another.
The band got re-dressed in their original clothes and wiped off their makeup, though Shinsou did spy Mina trying to hide her boots in her purse, and headed out of the studio into the cool night. They had spent hours inside but they’d flown by. Hitoshi couldn’t remember the last time he’d laughed as often. Probably not since he was a kid.
“You in there, RBF? Earth to manager, come in manager!” Sero called, waving a hand in front of Shinsou’s face.
“What?” Hitoshi asked, trying to play off his inattention as purposeful.
“You looked like you were in a whole other world, dude,” Kaminari smiled. “We asked if you wanted to come to dinner with us?”
“Oh,” Shinsou paused, “I suppose there’s still a lot to cover. You haven’t told me if you’ve got a tracklist sorted out for the new album yet, and we need to discuss release timing.”
“We meant dinner as in hanging out,” Kirishima clarified. “You know, just being bros? We can do work later!”
Bakugou stayed silent but leveled a look that expressed annoyance with Shinsou’s inability to recognize a friendly gesture.
“I guess I could spare some time.”
Ejirou laughed, “You sound like Katsuki!”
Bakugou elbowed the redhead for it but didn’t argue either, and that was frightfully telling.
Denki scrolled through a food app on his phone, “Apparently there’s a really good place not far from here. It’s got a dinner special that we could get a bunch of and then bam, sushi party!”
Mina hummed while stroking one horn in thought, “I could go for sushi. But like, sashimi too.”
Before Kirishima had the chance to ask, Katsuki jumped in with, “Do they have any steak?”
Eijirou gave him a fond look, and Sero rolled his eyes at the two of them.
“I dunno if it’ll be like, fancy Kobe or anything but they have beef on here,” Kaminari said, reading from the menu.
“Let’s do it!” Kirishima cheered, more excited about the prospect of dinner than he had been about the professional photoshoot. Which was saying something since he’d been pretty psyched about that too.
“I’ll make reservations,” Denki volunteered when Bakugou snatched the phone out of his hand.
“Not a fucking chance, you always choose a joke name and piss off the host before we even get there.”
Kaminari pouted, “Oh come on, there’s gotta be someone out there named Holden MaGroin and you’re being super rude to them right now.”
“Don’t forget about Ben Dover,” Sero snorted.
“Or Anita Dickinme!” Mina added with a grin.
“That one was genius,” Ejirou laughed.
Shinsou smothered a laugh and a blush all at once, “My sister once signed a school essay for a teacher she hated with the name Hugh Jass.”
Katsuki smirked, “Smart girl.”
“She says thanks, by the way. She tried one of your makeup tutorials.”
The ash-blonde preened further, repeating, “Like I said, smart girl.”
Kaminari used that moment to steal back his phone, “I promise I won’t go with a raunchy name!”
Bakugou looked doubtful but allowed it. Hitoshi was still pretty confident that they would still find themselves embarrassing a waiter, but he tried not to think about it.
The walk there didn’t take them long, and Shinsou let them bicker and babble amongst each other. He wondered if this was how his father felt back when he was doing teaching gigs and had to take students out on field trips.
The restaurant they ended up at was dimly lit and heavily traditional in its Japanese decor. Definitely not the sort of place that Shinsou trusted The Sqw äd to be respectful of. He hoped the staff at least had a sense of humor.
Kaminari sprung up to the hostess with a smile on his face, “Hey, we have a reservation for like five minutes from now?”
The hostess looked at him with an amused expression, “Ah, you must be Harry Butz.”
Denki shot her a pair of finger guns and said, “Hey, I’ll have you know I wax!”
Kirishima quickly restrained Bakugou whose hands had started to smoke. Mina and Sero broke out into unrepentant giggles as the hostess smiled and led them to a round table.
“I said it wouldn’t be raunchy,” Denki assured Katsuki while hiding behind Shinsou. “I just never said it wouldn’t be a joke either.”
Bakugou cracked his knuckles, “Never again, Sparky.”
The six of them sat down and were handed menus by the still-smiling hostess. She rattled off the various specials from memory and left them to make their choices.
Mina pulled a pen out of her pocket and started to write down her order on a napkin.
Shinsou must have looked as perplexed as he felt because she caught him staring and explained, “This way I don’t get anxious and forget what I want to order when she comes back!”
“That’s actually pretty clever,” Hitoshi thought aloud.
“What do you mean actually ?” Ashido pouted.
Kaminari and Sero snickered behind their menus, while Mina leaned over to flick Denki on the ear for laughing.
Bakugou only had to glance at the menu once before figuring out what he wanted, but Kirishima looked stressed over what to choose.
“Do I want steak tips or do I want chicken?” The redhead asked Katsuki.
The other man took the menu away from Eijirou and placed it down with his own, saying “I’ll get the steak tips and you get chicken. Then we can share.”
Kirishima looked endlessly grateful and Shinsou wondered if Bakugou had any idea how soft he actually was.
“You wanna share too?” Denki asked, noticing the way Hitoshi was looking at Katsuki and Ejirou.
“Uh, sure? I hadn’t really decided yet.”
Kaminari put down his menu and stuck his head in the way of Shinsou’s view of his own.
“Hmmm, we could both get a different dinner special and just swap stuff evenly?”
“How romantic,” Sero drawled with a smirk.
Denki grinned, “Feeling lonely, Hanta? Want me to call Band Daddy to keep you company?”
The mohawked man paled, “Shut up! You don’t even have his number.”
“Bet,” Kaminari spoke with a dangerous look in his eye.
“We should toast!” Mina said, lifting a glass of water.
“To friendship?” Eijirou volunteered.
Sero hummed, “I was thinking something more along the lines of ‘to slaying a photoshoot’ but sure we can toss in friendship.”
The others nodded in agreement and lifted their own glasses. They clinked way too loudly for the small restaurant and Hitoshi caught himself looking around to see if they had disturbed anyone. He was sure they’d be louder than this in a minute.
The waitress came by and took their orders, which turned out to mostly be a variety of dinner specials and then Mina had ordered a fancy sushi plate for two people that she stated she was going to eat all by herself.
After the woman left, a pleased silence fell over the table. It was as if they had all decided to take a moment and really look at where the band currently was in their career. They’d been playing for ages but suddenly they were eating dinner after a professional photoshoot to prepare for their first on-label album. Things felt like they were going too fast and crushingly slow all at once.
“Holy shit,” Kaminari mumbled, “Can you believe we’re gonna have a legit album? We won’t have to be handing out our own CDs to friends and begging them to leave a bunch of fake reviews online anymore.”
“You had your friends write fake reviews?” Shinsou snorted.
“Hey, nobody ever writes reviews for music these days except for critics that get off on being dickmunches and calling everyone’s stuff bad,” Mina argued.
Hitoshi was well aware that it was hard for small bands to get the word out, and he couldn’t exactly blame them for doing all it took. If anything he admired their tenacity.
“Get used to being on a record label. We’ll handle the hard stuff from here on out. All you need to do is focus on playing your best.”
Bakugou nodded, “As if we’d do anything less.”
“Does that mean that Shishikura can’t do our fansite anymore?” Denki asked with a worried expression.
It soured Shinsou’s mood to hear the man’s name, especially now that he knew he and Kaminari were an item at some point. It probably showed in his voice when he answered, “He doesn’t need to be involved.”
Ejirou saw how disappointed Denki looked at hearing it and rushed to comfort him, “I mean, he can still run it unofficially. He can still be around, right?”
Hitoshi frowned, “I can’t stop him from doing that in his spare time, but Logical Ruse isn’t going to pay him for it. I’m sure he’ll find another band to work with soon enough.”
Shinsou could instantly tell that had been a wrong move from the dark look that rested on many of the band members’ faces. Before he could try and fix it, Kaminari excused himself from the table with, “I’m, uh...just gonna powder my nose. Be right back!”
He sped away from the table with no grace whatsoever, and Katsuki started to laugh. “Smooth going, eyebags.”
“I didn’t mean it in a bad way. I’m just saying he’ll recover from it,” Hitoshi argued. “I’m sure he does other things with his spare time than look at photos of your band.”
“He works in software, I think?” Mina guessed. “Either way, that was a bad way of putting it.”
Shinsou paused before testing the waters, “So, him and Kaminari. Was that a recent thing?”
Kirishima gave him a lopsided smile, “It wasn’t like they were together for super long or anything, but it ended a couple of months ago. They went on like, three dates tops?”
“I didn’t ask for the gory details,” Sero started, “but I don’t think they were on track to be married anytime soon. You don’t have to feel threatened.”
“I wasn’t feeling threatened,” Shinsou frowned.
Immediately the band broke into laughter.
“Oh man,” Kirishima said wiping a tear from his eye, “I can’t believe you tried to argue that.”
“You were acting like a jealous husband,” Sero affirmed.
“Not to mention a general fuckwad,” Bakugou added.
Shinsou felt his face going red, “Thanks for the constructive criticism.”
“Just apologize when he gets back, okay?” Mina insisted. “It was hella rude to imply that we didn’t matter to Shishikura. Which is basically what you said.”
Hitoshi flinched, he hadn’t thought to examine how it might have sounded. All he knew was that hearing the other man’s name left a bad taste in his mouth and he didn’t know what to do when Kaminari had been acting so sweet with him.
“You’ll have to see him again you know,” Sero gestured with his chopsticks, “Shishi comes to all of our shows and like it or not, he’s still totally smitten. You’re not gonna get Denki by acting like an asshole.”
“Though he does have a history of dating assholes,” Mina mused. “This could be an in!”
Bakugou met Shinsou’s eyes with a snarl, “If you’re an asshole to Sparky you’re in for a world of trouble, get me?”
“Awww, Blasty you do care!” Denki cried, returning to the table.
Katsuki immediately flipped the blonde off, “We need a lead guitarist and I don’t feel like training someone else on how to play right. Don’t think you’re special.”
Kaminari put a hand over his heart, “He says the sweetest things. What a catch. I’m almost jealous of you, Kiri.”
Ejirou cocked his head, “Why?”
Mina slapped a hand against her forehead, “Please someone, explain to him that they’ve been dating for years.”
“We do this every week,” Sero groaned.
Denki was all smiles again but Shinsou still felt like he had to make some kind of apology. Before he could try and talk to him the waitress returned carrying a tray with many of their dishes. She tried to figure out who was sharing the sushi plate for two when Mina explained that was hers alone, and Kirishima applauded her manly spirit.
Once the plates were down Shinsou grabbed an avocado roll between his chopsticks like a peace offering and lifted it up towards Denki. “Want one?”
Instead of replying Kaminari opted to just open his mouth and close his eyes, which had Hitoshi blushing as he awkwardly placed the sushi onto the boy’s tongue. He had to stop himself from asking someone at the table if he did it right.
Denki opened his eyes and gave a happy hum, “Oooh, that was really good. Your turn!”
The blonde lifted a piece of sashimi from his own plate and held it out to Hitoshi. When Shinsou went to grab it with his own chopsticks Denki laughed and pulled it away. “Dude, you’re just supposed to eat it off my chopsticks!”
Sero helpfully suggested, “Try to lie back and think of England.”
This had Mina laughing hard enough that she nearly choked on a California roll. Kirishima slapped her back till she stopped.
He and Bakugou had split up their food and exchanged it onto the other’s plate. Wisely avoiding any kind of feeding each other. Shinsou caught Katsuki giving him a smug look before grabbing some food directly off of Kirishima’s plate.
“It tastes better when it’s yours,” Bakugou insisted.
The rest of the band silently agreed not to say anything because they knew it would make him stop and then Kirishima would be depressed, but they all gave each other knowing looks from around the table.
Denki was in the middle of munching on some tuna when Shinsou stuttered, “Earlier, uh...that came out wrong.”
The shorter man raised an eyebrow in confusion, so Hitoshi continued, “I didn’t mean to make it sound like what’s-his-name doesn’t care about your band. I know he thinks you’re really special and I’m sure he’ll want to keep being involved regardless of the label. I can talk to my boss and see if he’ll okay him for press credentials, but I can’t make any promises.”
Denki lit up with a big smile, “Thank you, ‘Toshi.”
Shinsou felt his heart skip a beat at the nickname. It was the first time someone in the band had given him a flattering moniker, and it came from Denki .
“You’re, um, welcome.”
Kaminari picked up another piece of sushi with his chopsticks and lifted it to Hitoshi’s mouth.
This time, Shinsou bent forward and bit it carefully, looking to Denki for reassurance as he chewed.
The blonde nodded happily in response and Hitoshi tried not to choke on his own feelings. He’d apologize a hundred more times if it led to more smiles like those.
He snagged another piece of sushi with his chopsticks before mumbling back, “Your turn.”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Raleigh!
Thank you for being in my like, you amazing and genius mad scientist child! I can't wait to see what amazing things you bring into the world.
PS. Find me on Twitter @ Hey_There_Satan!
Shinsou and Kaminari continued to take turns feeding each other, much to the amusement of the rest of The Sqwäd- particularly when Hitoshi got nervous and dropped a piece of sushi on Denki’s lap. The blonde had just laughed it off with, “Five second rule! It’s still good.” Shinsou was thankful he wasn’t offended. He was still expecting someone to call him out on his inability to smoothly flirt, or whatever it was they were doing. Hitoshi wasn’t 100% sure if that’s what all of this was, but it gave his stomach butterflies and he didn’t want it to stop.
“You know,” Mina started, “for a manager, you're pretty relaxed. I don’t know if it’s just cause Band Daddy was hella strict, but I’m appreciating your style.”
Sero blanched when she said Iida’s nickname, but continued to eat- taking a piece of Mina’s favorite sushi off of her plate in revenge. Without even looking at him she whipped her chopsticks down and stopped Hanta from bringing it to his own plate. “Try me, bitch,” she laughed.
The second guitarist pouted, but released the sushi. Shinsou was impressed at her protective food abilities and made a note not to try anything she ordered.
Hitoshi spied Denki’s hand and had the urge to hold it, but stifled it immediately. He really had to be more professional. He was already breaking so many work boundaries that his father’s head would spin. But all of that good sense went out the window the second he saw Kaminari smile up at him.
Mina tugged at Shinsou’s sleeve and hissed beneath her breath, “Come on! Pull your gay head out of your great ass and realize he likes you back! Make a move!”
Shinsou furrowed his brow, “You think I have a great ass?”
“Why is that what you took out of this?” Sero snorted.
Denki cocked his head to the side in confusion, having not heard the conversation but watching his friends whisper voraciously at each other.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate,” Hitoshi mumbled, hoping they’d get the hint and leave him alone.
“Does that mean Sero can’t suck face with Band Daddy?” Mina asked, dodging a shove from Hanta.
“That’s different. He’s not your manager anymore.”
“Details, details, details,” Ashido winked. “Point is that Denks needs a nice boyfriend and you need a nice Denki. I’m no mathematician but I think I got a solution for your equation, if you know what I mean!”
“What are you talking about?” Kaminari asked, looking put out that he wasn’t being included.
“I was just saying what a good boyfriend RBF would be for the right guy, you know?” Mina beamed.
“Resting bitch face? More like resting boyfriend face!” Denki laughed, high-fiving Sero from across the table.
Shinsou rolled his eyes, feeling fond and exasperated all at once. It had been a long day of being with people and his introvert meter was nearly maxed out. It had certainly grown since meeting The Sqwäd, and Hitoshi thought he might actually have to thank them for the practice at some point. Even the other bands he’d assistant managed had learned to give him space when he needed it so he’d never had to build up a tolerance. He had a feeling his family would be proud of him.
“So, what’s our next move?” Kirishima asked between bites.
“Move?” Shinsou raised a pierced eyebrow.
“Yeah, like, where do we go from here? Sure we got that album coming out, but what’s next?”
Hitoshi paused. He’d be lying if he said he hadn’t been pondering this same question. He knew his goal was to get them as well-known as possible, but the industry was heavily based on who you know and sometimes even dumb luck alongside persistence.
Shinsou wasn’t fully prepared to answer, but was saved by Bakugou groaning in contempt.
“Don’t look now but we’ve got some real awful fucking company,” the ash-blonde muttered.
Hitoshi turned his head to see a group of people making their way over to his table.
It was lead by a blonde man with a nauseating grin, followed by a happily waving muscled man with silver hair, and a tall red-headed woman with a ponytail.
“Well look what the cat dragged in,” the blonde man drawled, “a couple of amateurs. Still playing pretend with that band of yours? The Gang or something?”
“Firstly,” Mina said with a frown, “we’reThe Sqwäd. Secondly, if I remember right we smeared your asses already a couple of months ago. We had two encores!”
Shinsou put the various facts together and assumed this was a competing band that The Sqwäd has an unpleasant history with. Judging by the way Bakugou was seething, hands smoking, it was one that got under their skin very easily. Kirishima put an arm around Katsuki to try and calm him, but looked at the silver-haired man with a smile.
“Tetsutetsu! Hey, T4! How’ve you been, man?” Eijirou bumped a hardened fist against a steel one, as the other man utilized his quirk as well. Hitoshi felt like the name Tetsutetsu was familiar but he couldn’t place why.
“Kirishima! Bro, we were just talking about you guys. I got your text, but the rest of the band wouldn’t let me change our name to Heavy Metal Professor.”
Ah, now Shinsou remembered.
“Funny, you’ve got T4,” Kaminari gestured to Tetsutetsu, “and C4,” he added while pointing to Bakugou.
“Collect the whole set!” Sero snorted.
Katsuki gave Denki the finger, but the electric blonde just blew back a kiss.
The unpleasant man standing by their table sneered, “Pay attention to me when I’m speaking to you! Goodness, you’re all a bunch of animals.”
“Better an animal than an asshole,” Mina shrugged, picking at her sushi.
The red-headed woman sighed, a fond smile on her face, “Sorry to interrupt your dinner. Once Monoma saw you all I knew I couldn’t stop him.” She turned to Shinsou and held out a very large hand, “I’m Kendou Itsuka. Are you a new band member?”
“Something like that,” Hitoshi shook her hand, “I’m their new manager, Shinsou Hitoshi. I’m from Logical Ruse Records.”
This had Monoma scrunch his nose in distaste, “A record company? Since when did The Gang become worthy of that?”
“We’reThe Sqwäd,” Mina whined, but it fell on deaf ears.
“Logical Ruse has been courting The Sqwäd for a while now. We knew they had their pick of record labels but we offered the highest sum. They’ve already brought us in quite a lot of money.”
Which was largely untrue, but Monoma didn’t need to know that.
Luckily, the band rolled with it immediately.
Sero smirked, “Can you say the same for your little band? What was it? Gotta Be Losers?”
“It’s Got 2-B Winners,” Tetsu volunteered, totally unaware of the fact that it was meant as a jab.
Kaminari snickered, “More like Got 2-B Weiners .”
“Now you’re just being childish,” Monoma huffed.
Mina frowned, “Dude, you literally did this to us first! Tetsu, why do you keep this guy around?”
Tetsutetsu shrugged, “When he’s not talking he’s a good guitarist.”
“Have you tried getting him neutered?” Bakugou suggested.
Monoma balked, before recovering and snidely stating, “We’ll see who is laughing when we win the Summer Sonic Battle of the Bands contest. Did you know we’re the favorite to win this year?”
Shinsou widened his eyes, a battle of the bands for Summer Sonic? The very same festival he was planning to be their musical goal, and here before him was a way to get there.
“Battle of the what now?” Mina asked.
“The Battle of the Bands. You don’t remember me mentioning it? We’re signed up as well,” Hitoshi said with as much confidence as possible.
The Sqwäd turned to him with momentary shock, and Kirishima looked like he was about to ask a question when Denki came to his rescue.
“Oh yeah! I totally forgot since we were so busy doing that professional photoshoot for our new album. We’re just so busy lately,” the guitarist smiled guilelessly.
“I don’t remember seeing your name on the list,” Kendou said, lifting a finger to her chin in thought.
“We were a last minute addition,” Sero amended.
Mina smiled, “Last but not least!”
Tetsutetsu grinned right back at her, “That’s a manly spirit you’ve got there! Can’t wait to see you play.”
“You too,” Kirishima responded, leaning away from Bakugou’s shoulder to bump another hardened fist against his friend’s metal one. The ash-blonde frowned when Eijirou let him go.
Kendou grabbed Monoma by the ear and pulled him backward, “Come on you two, let them finish eating. We’ll see you all at the contest! It was nice meeting you, Shinsou.”
“Likewise,” Hitoshi nodded.
The other band left the restaurant, loudly, and a silence fell upon the table.
“So, uh...are we actually signed up for that?” Kirishima whispered, despite their rivals' departure.
Shinsou picked up his cell phone and started to text his father, “We will be.”
If there was anyone who could get them in at the last minute it was someone with as much pull as Aizawa has in the industry.
You: Any chance you could get The Sqwäd on the Summer Sonic Battle of the Bands line-up?
“Now we wait,” Shinsou sighed. “Worst case scenario you can say you pulled out of it because you were more focused on your album. I’ll figure it out.”
Denki looked up at him with an admiring expression, “Whoa, how are we gonna get that? You must be real good friends with someone fancy. Do you have a sugar daddy we don’t know about?”
It took everything in Shinsou’s power not to answer that he technically did have a “daddy” but he didn’t want to reveal his father just yet. He wanted to earn their respect before they found out he was the boss’s son.
“RBF?” Hanta asked, “you’re spacing out again.”
“Just thinking,” Hitoshi answered, checking his phone to see if his father had replied.
Dad: Give me a few minutes. I’ll see what I can do.
Shinsou smiled down at his phone, “We might have a chance.”
The Sqwäd, minus Bakugou, cheered in response and set off another round of glasses clinking against each other in victory.
“It’s not a definite yes, you idiots, don’t get too excited,” Katsuki growled, stealing a sushi roll off of Kirishima’s plate. “Contest or no contest we’re still kicking their asses later.”
“Agreed,” Hitoshi answered.
His phone buzzed.
Dad: You’re in. You only have a little time to get them ready. Make us proud, Hitoshi.
You: Thanks, dad. Love you.
Dad: Love you too.
“Good news,” Shinsou lifted up his glass, “We can cheers for real this time. We’ll be playing in the contest.”
“Booyah!” Denki bellowed, sloshing his water dangerously close to the rim of the glass as he slammed it against Mina’s.
Bakugou hissed at him to shut up, but lifted his own glass and let it knock lightly against Kirishima’s and no one else’s.
“We have a week until the event starts. That’s not a lot of time to pick which songs to play, so we’ve really got to focus. I know that’s difficult for most of you, but just think about how satisfying it would be to wipe the smirk off the faces of your rivals.”
“We can totally do it,” Sero assured. “I may not have Bakugou’s staggering superiority complex, but I know we’re the better band.”
Katsuki scowled, “It’s not a superiority complex if you’re actually better than everyone else.”
“I think that’s literally the definition, dude, but I like your confidence!” Kirishima said while patting him hard on the back.
“Say ahhh!” Denki told Hitoshi, sushi in hand, as they returned to eating.
They finished dinner within the hour and left a big tip for the waitress who had to put up with their clamor. Bellies full, The Sqwäd walked out into the night air with smiles on their faces.
Without any real intention, they’d just taken the next big step towards greater acclaim. Summer Sonic was one of the biggest musical festivals in Japan. Winning the honor of playing in it was going to mean heavy competition from all sides.
Shinsou was aware that, if they did get into the concert they’d only be playing on one of the smaller stages and only a few songs at that. But it’d be getting The Sqwäd in front of millions of televised viewers and 40,000 people at the venue. The festival was so big that it happened at two separate locations, Osaka and Chiba last year, over the course of 2-3 days. It was largely international performers and then a star-studded cast of Japanese musicians scattered throughout. Hitoshi had dreamt of bringing a band to a stage like that ever since he started.
He turned to look at The Sqwäd and couldn’t help but wonder if his bizarre new family was ready to do something so serious.
“Do you think you can pull this off?” Shinsou asked.
It seemed to catch the band off guard, and for a moment they wondered amongst themselves before Bakugou growled, “If you don’t think we can do it then why the fuck are you here?”
Kaminari frowned, “You’re a part of this too. Do you think we can pull this off?”
“It’s going to be hard,” Shinsou argued, “there’s no promise that we’ll actually win.”
Sero crossed his arms, “Do you trust us?”
“Of course,” Shinsou said without hesitating, which surprised himself. He hadn’t expected to feel confident in his trust, especially so soon, but if he thought about it he honestly did trust them.
“Then it’ll work out, don’t you think?” Mina said with a warm smile.
“Yeah, it’ll be a bummer if we lose but we definitely won’t win if we don’t even try!” Kirishima added.
“I happen to think we make a pretty good team,” Kaminari boasted with a wink, “You and the band together aren’t too bad either.”
And just like that, Shinsou knew that things were going to be alright.
Tonight's shout out goes to Scream!
Mi Gritarcita! I love and adore you in every way. You're an amazing writer and I'm so happy to be in the same zine as you. Thank you for being my friend!
P.S. Thank you so much to everyone who comments and talks to me on Twitter! I make stupid happy noises when I see someone liked this enough to say something. Love you!
They had only walked a bit longer before it started to rain. Heavily.
The band ran to hide under the awning of a nearby store, watching people shriek and run for cover or open their sensibly remembered umbrellas.
“Boof, this isn’t gonna let up anytime soon is it?” Denki groaned.
“Yeah,” Mina sighed, “We were planning to crash at Baku’s place but it’s so far. I don’t even remember where we parked.”
A thought occurred to Shinsou that had him hesitating. He didn’t know the exact addresses of his other bandmates, but his own apartment wasn’t too far from their current district. He certainly had no intention of inviting them back so soon after this morning but maybe he’d take pity on them. They looked so distraught about the rain.
“Man, my hair is gonna get so messed up!” Kirishima frowned.
“Mine too,” Sero mumbled, fondling his mohawk, “the van is a couple of blocks away. We could make a run for it, but we’d still get soaked.”
Bakugou didn’t share his concerns, but scowled deeply at the idea of being caught in the downpour.
“This might be a mistake,” Shinsou started, “but my apartment is probably the closest. If you want to wait out the storm we could go there.”
Denki perked up immediately, “Really? You’re inviting us back? Even after we were super rude?”
Hitoshi shrugged, “Like I said, it might be a mistake, but yes.”
“Score!” Mina cried, hooking arms with Kaminari and Sero. “Let’s do it! I’ll race you to the Sqwäd Mobile!”
Katsuki huffed and walked into the store they stood in front of. They all turned to see him leave and wondered exactly what he intended to do. Shortly afterward he came out with a single umbrella, stating, “What? You losers can go buy your own.”
Kirishima pouted, “I didn’t bring any money with me. The water is gonna totally mess up my hair gel. Wanna share?”
Bakugou leveled an unimpressed glance, “Why should I stop the water from making your hair look less stupid?”
Sero snorted, “I forgot he likes you better with your hair down.” The tall man elbowed Kirishima in jest and the redhead just blushed.
“I’m just gonna run through it!” Mina said, her large black eyes determined.
“We could buy an umbrella too,” Shinsou added, digging through his pockets for his wallet.
“No way,” Denki smiled while grabbing the purple-haired man’s hand, “this is way more romantic.”
Hitoshi raised an eyebrow, “How is it romantic to get a cold?”
“It just is!” Kaminari insisted, “Now let’s book it!”
Sero called out where the van was parked as the gang ran and followed his directions. Bakugou trailed behind them at a leisurely pace, saying he’d “meet up with you imbeciles by the car.”
The rain was cold but Shinsou’s bomber jacket provided a lot more protection than what most of the band was wearing. Halfway to the car, he noticed Kaminari was shivering and offered it to him.
The blonde looked up at Shinsou like he’d saved his life, and took the coat with a smile.
“We can share it!” he declared, and lifted the jacket up to cover them both. It certainly wasn’t big enough but Shinsou appreciated the sentiment, as well as the excuse to be closer to Denki.
By the time they reached the van they were all damp, but not half as soaked as they expected, and scrambled into the car once Sero unlocked the doors. A few minutes later Bakugou came strolling down the street with a triumphant look in his eyes, perfectly dry as he sat down in the passenger seat- after all, he had been the one to shut up first when Shinsou told them that the winner of their impromptu quiet game at the studio would get shotgun.
They packed into the car as Sero shifted gears, and Hitoshi found himself with Kaminari tucked into his side- the two of them still draped in his jacket. Denki pulled the coat a bit tighter around them and breathed a satisfied sigh.
Mina took out her phone and made a joyous cooing noise while she took a picture, “That one is going on Insta!”
Shinsou quietly hoped his family wasn’t still following them or he’d have a lot of questions being texted his way before the night was out. His heart was ready to leap out of his chest and he’d be shocked if Kaminari couldn’t hear it beating from how close he was. He desperately wished there was some kind of handbook for these situations, and resisted the urge to google it behind the blonde’s back.
The drive back to Hitoshi’s apartment was a quick one, and the rain had lightened considerably by the time they arrived. The group still ran from the car to his building, laughing and screeching all the while. Bakugou rolled his eyes and followed, neatly walking after them with his umbrella that he had deigned to share with Kirishima, now that the man’s hair was sufficiently wet and hanging down. Shinsou had to admit it was more flattering, but it looked less like the redhead he knew.
Hitoshi unlocked the apartment building’s front door and led the damp group of adults through the lobby. He pressed the elevator button for his floor and scurried inside, mentally counting how many towels he’d need to grab to keep his couch from getting wet.
“Oh man,” Sero groaned, “I just remembered you don’t even have a tv. How are you going to entertain us?”
Shinsou snorted, “You’re welcome to go back out in the rain. I’m sure that’ll be plenty entertaining.”
The elevator dinged and the doors opened to reveal a sight Hitoshi was unprepared for.
“Holy shit,” Denki gasped, “Is that Present Mic?”
The tall blonde DJ, with his famously styled clothing and his hair fully gelled up, waved grandly at the shocked band.
“Hello listeners!” he bellowed in English, raising his arms in delight.
Beside him stood Eri, looking incredibly amused but politely nodding. She must have come from school because she was still wearing her backpack, and it slid forward as she bowed, “Hey, big brother!”
Shinsou winced and watched as The Sqwäd slowly put things together. He couldn’t help but think of the meme with that woman and the math equations as he saw them connect the dots.
“That’s your dad ?!” Mina shrieked.
“Wow, your mom is young as hell,” Kaminari whispered, “but I guess when you’re famous you can just do whatever, huh?”
“That’s my little sister!” Shinsou hissed, yanking back his jacket from the smaller man’s shoulders.
Denki started to cackle, “I know! I know! I saw your phone background, remember? I just couldn’t help myself.”
Eri walked up to them, giggling, “It’s a pleasure to meet the people who are making my brother cool. We were only going to drop some things off on our way home. It’s a pleasant surprise!”
Shinsou slightly puffed up at how polite his sister was in front of company, but also dreaded the moment she became comfortable enough to give him attitude in front of his new friends.
“You’re the one who watched Bakubro’s makeup tutorials, right?” Kirishima smiled, “I can tell from the way you did your eyeshadow! I’ve watched Katsuki do that like, a million times.”
Eri lifted a hand self-consciously to her face, “Did I do a bad job?”
Bakugou walked forward and grabbed her chin, tilting her face toward the light and inspecting it carefully.
He hummed, “Not too bad, but you need sharper wing lines. If you can’t cut a bitch with your eyeliner you might as well not be wearing it.”
Eri nodded firmly, taking his advice to heart and smiling.
“Here,” Katsuki reached into his coat pocket and pulled out a small coin purse. He opened it and pulled out some liquid eyeliner and a more-than-usually triangular guitar pick. “Use this the next time you line the corners. Follow the slightly curved edge and you’ll get a softer look, but if you turn it this way you can choose a straighter line. For your eye shape I would go with that one.”
Eri looked at the expensive makeup with shock, “So I should buy this brand and a guitar pick?”
“No, you nerd, I’m giving you these. Don’t fuck it up cause you aren’t getting any more. Use this shit sparingly, you don’t need a lot.”
Shinsou had never seen anything as wholesome, in a caustic way, his entire life. Eri took the proffered items as though they were holy relics and ran over to Hitoshi to show them off.
“Look what he gave me! This stuff is the best!”
“Well, duh,” Denki grinned, “only the best for the best!”
Eri turned to the two blonds with a happy smile before looking back at her brother and going, “We’re keeping them! You can’t be too weird and chase them away, okay?”
The Sqwäd laughed, sans Bakugou who only smirked in an approving manner.
“I’m not the weird one in this group,” Shinsou argued, but he returned her smile all the same.
Hizashi watched them interact with pride on his face, “I brought enough cookies for my babies and myself, but I think maybe I should just leave it for you all to share. I can just eat dinner at home and let you kids have a sleepover.”
“Oh my god, can we!?” Eri cried.
“I don’t know…” Shinsou started, imagining all of the horrible things she could tell his new friends about him. Secrets he definitely didn’t want shared.
“Yes!” Mina answered for him, “I call dibs on doing your hair. Denki, can get your nails.”
The doubly electric guitarist looked to the oldest blonde in reverence, “Dude, I’m still in shock. Are we seriously gonna eat Present Mic’s homemade cookies?”
The DJ nodded, “It’s been a long week of tough shows and I needed to decompress. I always end up with extra and usually drop it off with Hitoshi. They get stale before he ever finishes them, so you might as well have the rest!”
Bakugou, a notorious stress baker himself, approved.
Eri spun around to face her papa, “Can I please stay the night? I’ll wake up super early for school! Pleeeeeaase, papa?”
“Yeah, pleeeeeease papa?” Denki whined.
Hizashi threw his head back and laughed, “If it’s okay with your brother, and only if you make sure you do your homework.”
“We can help her with it,” Kirishima added.
“Yeah,” Sero agreed, “between Kiri, Mina, Denks, and myself we have a passing GPA,” he paused for a moment, “probably.”
Shinsou sighed, knowing he’d lost the battle as soon as Eri and Kaminari looked at him with hopeful puppy eyes.
“Fine, but you’re going to bed early. We have to talk about some important plans.”
“The battle of the bands, right?” Eri pressed, “Dad told me all about it, you guys will totally win!”
Mina hugged the white-haired girl tightly, “So precious. I’m your big sister now. It’s decided. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.”
Kaminari nodded vigorously, “If you need an extra big brother I call dibs!”
Eri smiled at Shinsou with a mischievous look on her face, “You’ve been working on that for a while,” she winked, “I’ve seen the pictures.”
Denki had the decency to look embarrassed at hearing this, and awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck at the same time Hitoshi does.
Yamada walked over to his son and handed him a bag full of neatly packed cookies, “You get my baby girl in bed by ten the latest,” he announced, before leaning in and adding, “if your dad asks I told you to have her asleep by nine.”
Shinsou snorted, but took the bag thankfully, “You’re acting like I’ve never had her stay over before. Should I not give her water after midnight either?”
Eri pouted but found it hard to be upset when Mina was petting her hair.
Hizashi had started to leave when Kaminari walked up to him looking anxious, “I, uh, just wanted to say good job. On like, all of that,” the blonde gestured loosely to Shinsou.
Yamada laughed, ruffling Denki’s damp hair and talking to Hitoshi saying, “I like this one. He reminds me of myself.”
“Don’t say it like that,” Shinsou mumbled, bullying past the others and unlocking his door.
“Have a good night, little chickadees!” Hizashi yelled from the elevator.
The Sqwäd all called back their own farewells as Hitoshi let them inside his home.
“Holy cow, I can’t believe we just met Present Mic,” Mina said, ushering Eri in beside her. “Your papa is a seriously cool guy.”
“You should meet my dad. You’d lose your shit!” Eri laughed.
“Language,” Shinsou half-heartedly scolded.
“Yeah,” Bakugou smirked, “watch your fucking language.”
They gathered in the living room, most of them awkwardly standing to avoid getting rainwater on anything, though they’d largely dried up while in the van.
Hitoshi mumbled a quiet, “make yourselves at home,” before adding, “but not too much” as he went into the kitchen to find a tray for the cookies.
From the other room he could hear Eri talking a mile a minute, and then the sound of Kaminari’s laughter. Seeing the two interact was making Shinsou’s heart warm. Usually, it took some time for Eri to come out of her shell but she’d adapted to The Sqwäd quickly. They’d taken to her just as fast. He returned to the living room to find Mina and Denki braiding Eri’s long white hair into two plaits- with the pink-haired girl’s side considerably neater.
Hitoshi felt silly playing housewife to a room of damp musicians and his pampered little sister, but he set down a plate of cookies on the table in front of the couch and fetched them towels to sit on from his bedroom.
“So, like, how are we doing this?” Kirishima asked.
“Doing what?” Denki cocked his head to the side, his tongue sticking out of his mouth in concentration as he braided white hair.
“This sleepover? We can’t all fit on the couch.”
“You fool. You absolute buffoon,” Ashido laughed, “we’re obviously gonna grab all the blankets and camp out on the living room floor.”
Bakugou wrinkled his nose, “I’m not sleeping on the damn floor.”
“You can have the couch then,” Mina shrugged, “but the rest of us are gonna be punk rock and take the floor. Shinsou, too.”
“We should definitely sleep together,” Kaminari said, immediately recognizing how that sounded and backtracking, “You know, in like the most platonic friendly okay-to-say-in-front-of-your-sister kind of way.”
Sero laughed hard enough that he had to stop eating one of the little sugar cookies he’d picked up.
“These are super good!” Kirishima said, focused on the food rather than the awkward way Shinsou and Denki were looking everywhere but each other.
“Homework,” Hitoshi forced himself to say, “you promised pop that you’d do your homework. That happens first, and then you can take my bed for the night.”
Eri pouted but agreed. She dug through her backpack and pulled out a notebook and a pile of worksheets.
“Damn, they really go hard on kids these days,” Sero said while looking over her homework. “I don’t even recognize some of this stuff.”
“Just because you don’t recognize it doesn’t mean it isn’t basic,” Bakugou barked. “Let me handle this.”
The ash-blonde separated the work into three piles, “Raccoon Eyes, you and Sero are taking science- it’s easy enough. I’ll get the math, and Drooly can handle the English.”
“What do I do?” Kirishima asked, looking excited to help.
“Sit there and look pretty?” Kaminari volunteered.
Katsuki growled at Denki but handed him the English homework all the same.
Eri looked at them anxiously, “You’re really all going to help me? I can just do it on my own if you wanna talk.”
“We said we’d help, didn’t we?” Sero assured her.
Kaminari threw an arm around her shoulders, “Dude, they made us read this book in high school too! I still remember it. The author’s imagery kind of sucks but it’s got a cool take on dystopian alternatives for global political systems. There’s a trick to it, though. It’s all a big metaphor, right? Here, lemme show you…”
The night went forward with the group sitting in a circle and helping Eri with her homework, all the while eating cookies. Shinsou realized this was probably the first time his sister had had so many friends, if she considered them that. She took after him in a lot of ways. Her quirk was labeled dangerous and people didn’t want to take chances. Their parents had adopted them years apart, but from the same foster care that dealt specifically in quirk-related child abandonment.
Seeing her smiling and laughing with the same people that brought him out of his own shell lately gave him a quiet happiness that he wanted to bask in forever.
Kaminari, who had helped Eri finish her English homework by then, caught him looking at them fondly. The guitarist shuffled over to sit next to Shinsou and tugged on his sleeve.
“She’s a good kid,” the blonde said.
Hitoshi snorted, “She’s alright.”
“Did you see me help her with her homework? Pretty cool, right?” Denki winked.
“Yeah,” Shinsou agreed, “I guess you’re pretty cool. Then again, the rest of the band is helping her too.” He looked to see Kirishima trying to explain something about chemistry while constantly being stopped and corrected, albeit gently, by Bakugou.
Kaminari grinned, “You look happy.”
“I’m always happy,” Shinsou said with a scowl.
Denki started to laugh, “Fine, happier . It’s a good look on you.”
“Didn’t realize I wasn’t normally good looking,” Hitoshi teased.
Kaminari shoved him half-heartedly with a laugh, “Shut up. You know I think you’re hot.”
Shinsou averted his eyes with a smile, “Yeah, it’s pretty weird.”
Eri called out for her brother’s attention, showing him she’d finished her homework.
“Just in time for bed, too!” she looked very proud of herself and he gave her an approving nod.
He stood up and went to make the bed for her, and came back carrying a number of blankets and pillows.
“Oh my gosh, I totally didn’t think you’d go for our living room campout idea!” Mina clapped her hands.
Hitoshi felt awkward, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t realize you were joking.”
“Are you kidding? This is awesome!” Denki helped set out the blankets and pillows, building them a nest on the floor that The Sqwäd soon climbed into. Bakugou pushed the couch out of the way and refused to sleep on the floor. Kirishima chose to sleep directly next to the couch, and whispered back and forth with a tired-looking Katsuki.
Shinsou had never had a sleepover before. In all his childhood years he didn’t have the kind of relationships that leant themselves towards a group of close friends. As he tucked Eri into bed she said to him, “I’m really happy for you, big bro. I like them.”
“They like you too,” he whispered before kissing the top of her head, “and I bet they’d like you even more if you went to bed on time.”
“Very funny,” Eri laughed and rolled her eyes, “You have my blessing, by the way. If you want to date Kaminari. I think you should. He’s not very good at braiding hair but you look happier next to him.”
Shinsou snorted as he turned on the bedside lamp and then shut the main one off, “Thank you for your gracious approval.”
“You’re welcome!” She yawned, before closing her eyes and tucking her head into the pillow.
Hitoshi closed the door carefully behind him and walked back to the astoundingly quiet band. He was touched that they were thoughtful of Eri going to bed on time, despite their difficulty with speaking at anything less than an outside volume.
“Is the princess asleep?” Sero asked.
Shinsou nodded, “She will be in a second. Takes after our pop. She’s out as soon as she hits the pillow.”
“Holy fuck!” Denki cried, rolling out of their blanket nest as something landed on top of him. “What the hell is that?!”
Mina violently shushed him, but also looked alarmed.
“That’s Mouse,” Hitoshi said while plucking the fluffy cat off of the startled blonde, “and I think she likes you.”
“How the hell did we not know you have a cat? I thought one came in from outside,” Sero laughed.
“I had her in the bedroom. She must have gotten out while I was tucking Eri in. I think she likes you.”
The tawny cat hung limp in his arms, her paws batting at the air, but continued to stare down Kaminari.
“She’s really cute when she isn’t trying to eat my eyeballs,” the blonde noted.
“Or trying to munch on your nose,” Mina laughed.
“I dunno,” Denki argued, “she had an eyeball-eating glint in her eye.”
“I’m turning off the lights,” Shinsou stated, leaving no room for argument.
The band wished each other goodnight, as Hitoshi made the room dark and pulled closed the blinds. He set himself down outside of the blankets and pillows. He knew how close they were with each other and seeing Bakugou and Kirishima holding hands while Sero, Mina, and Kaminari cuddled made him feel suddenly alien. He tried to get comfortable on the hard floor but he was too bony to really be at ease.
Hitoshi felt a tap on his shoulder and turned his head to see Kaminari sitting up, his yellow eyes glinting like a cat’s in the dark. “What are you doing over there?” he whispered.
“Trying to sleep.”
Denki threw an arm around Shinsou’s waist and pulled him back towards the blankets, “Not like that you aren’t.”
Before Hitoshi was fully aware of what was happening he found himself being shoved between Kaminari and Mina. Denki rested his head on Shinsou’s chest and let out a happy sigh. “Much better. Goodnight ‘Toshi.”
Shinsou froze, his face partially covered with sweet-smelling blonde hair. Mina patted his head as she wished him goodnight, and Sero mumbled something similar from behind her.
In the quiet dark Hitoshi thought to himself, I think I could get used to this.
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Sensei!
My precious wonderful sensei! I miss you constantly and am so lucky to have a friend as talented at art and cosplay as you are! Thank you for being a part of my life!
Shinsou woke up to a bright light in his eyes and hair in his mouth.
Eri stood over him with her phone extended, “Oopsie. I left the flash on.”
Hitoshi tried to lift an arm to brush the lock of hair from his face when he found it was trapped under the person next to him. He attempted to shift the body off of his chest, but he was met with a whine and a mumble, before they clutched even tighter. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see the hair was blonde. No wonder his little sister was so intent on taking a photo. He would have bet money she was sending it to their parents.
“At least turn off the fucking flash,” Hitoshi winced, as it went off again.
“You can’t yell at me about my language and then swear yourself!” Eri insisted, taking another picture- judging by the sound of a camera shutter.
Shinsou spat some hair from his mouth, “I’m an adult. I’m allowed to curse. It’s basically law.”
Eri snorted but put her phone away, “Sure thing, big bro.”
His other arm was tightly sandwiched to his side by Mina, who had thrown an arm around his stomach and wrapped her hand around Kaminari's, which was clutching Shinsou's shirt. A part of him hoped Eri shared these pictures with him later.
The white-haired girl turned her phone around and showed him the last picture she took. His first thought was about how frightful his hair looked, but that was quickly overridden by the sight of Denki cutely drooling on him.
Eri smiled, "Before you ask, I already sent one to dad and pops."
Hitoshi started to complain but was cut off by a hand over his face.
He heard Sero mumble, "Too early for mouth sounds. Go to bed."
Shinsou was inclined to agree, but his sister should be getting to school soon. He shimmied his arm up to push Sero's hand away, and unclasped the hands from over his chest. He pried Denki away from him and slipped out of the sleepy pile of people to join his sister. Kaminari immediately snuggled into Mina, who was now halfway under Sero's forgotten arm.
Hitoshi stretched his back and padded quietly to the kitchen to start boiling water for coffee. Eri followed him eagerly, already asking for a cup.
"You're too young for it. It'll stunt your growth." Shinsou argued.
Eri crossed her arms, "You drank nothing but coffee all your life and you're giant! Let me have some!"
Hitoshi proceeded to his French Press and busied himself with ignoring his sister. She whined at his obvious dismissal. Once the process was finished he held the mug out to her and sighed, "you can have one sip."
She grinned as though she'd gotten away with something big and snatched it from his hands before he could change his mind.
They heard a shuffle and turned to see Bakugou standing there bleary-eyed. Shinsou was ready to offer him a cup when Katsuki walked forward and pulled the mug out of Eri's hands before she could drink any. He grunted and left the room with it.
Eri couldn't even bring herself to be angry she was so amused.
"He's sort of sweet," she thought aloud.
Shinsou snorted, "Not the first word that comes to mind when I think of Bakugou."
"No," Eri laughed, "but is it the first one that comes to mind when you think of Kaminari?"
Hitoshi glared weakly at her, "You just lost your sipping privileges."
A small thump and some groans were heard from the other room, and both siblings peeked out from the kitchen to find Bakugou drinking his cup of coffee while sitting on top of the pile of band members. Kirishima had moved to hug Sero’s back once Bakugou had left, so the four musicians had been in one large cuddle when Katsuki had decided, not unlike an unhappy house cat, to regain their attention by sitting atop them.
Eri slid her phone out of her pocket to take a photo.
Shinsou whispered, “You’re texting me that one.”
His sister stared him dead in the eye and replied, “I’m holding it hostage unless I get some coffee.”
The noisy pile of discomfort in his living room managed to separate, and soon the sleepy-faced musicians were aware of Eri’s camera.
Denki tried to shield his face, “Dude, no! I’m a hot mess in the morning.”
Mina ruffled his hair with a giggle, “Mostly a mess.”
Sero smirked tiredly at the both of them, “Speak for yourself. My hair always looks good.” He batted his eyelashes humorously while flipping the parts of his hair that had fallen out of its mohawked shape last night.
Kaminari shoved him playfully, pushing Hanta into Kirishima who narrowly stopped himself from falling onto Bakugou and his coffee.
The ash-blonde took another sip before looking at Denki and saying, “You’re a hot mess the entire day.”
Kaminari pumped his fist, “Score, Kacchan thinks I’m hot!”
Bakugou rolled his eyes and continued to drink.
“Shouldn’t you be getting to school, kid?” Kirishima kindly said to Eri.
She looked at Shinsou with wide pleading eyes, “Can I please skip today and hang out with you all instead?”
Hitoshi grinned in a way that resembled his father, “Not a chance. Keep trying to get out of it and I’ll walk you to school myself. I’ll make a big deal by the door too. Then your whole class can see how loving your family is.”
Eri scrunched up her nose in horror at the thought of her classmates seeing Shinsou bid her farewell with a dramatic goodbye scene. She ran to get her backpack and The Sqwäd laughed at the sight of it.
“That was genius,” Kaminari approved. “Where were you when my younger sisters were begging to stay home from school?”
Shinsou shrugged, “My papa would say the same thing to me. That’s how I knew it would work.”
“Are you joking?” Mina asked, “Having Present Mic of all people show up to school? I’d have begged him to come if he were my dad. Everyone would be so jealous.”
“You’ve obviously never been driven to school by him while he was wearing a bathrobe and curlers, and then he’d use his quirk to yell goodbye to you after you’d went inside.”
Kirishima smiled widely at the mental image, “I’m glad my moms didn’t do that. I’d never live it down.”
Eri came back into the room holding her backpack and fastening her jacket, “I’m going to school but I’m not gonna like it.”
“You aren’t supposed to. It’s school,” Sero shrugged, while the others agreed.
Bakugou walked into the kitchen and came back with his mug refilled, “You said she could have a sip?”
The white-haired girl held a hand against her chest, “Oh my gosh, that’s so nice!”
Katsuki grinned before he drank down a gulp, “I don’t ever remember saying that I’d let you. Now get to school, squirt.”
Eri looked positively devastated and Shinsou couldn’t stop himself from chuckling at the sight of her overdramatic coffee feelings. She certainly belonged in their family.
Mina and Kaminari exchanged glances with each other, and seemed to wordlessly come to a conclusion. Mina stood to grab Denki’s coat and brought it back. Kaminari pulled something from the pocket and dashed over to Eri, adding “I’ll walk you to the door!”
Ashido stood up, “Me too!”
“M’lady,” the blonde said with a grand arm gesture, allowing the pink girl to walk before him.
“M’Denki,” Mina responded.
The two adults hooked arms with Eri and disappeared towards the door.
Bakugou had a knowing look in his eye that worried Shinsou. Before Hitoshi was able to ask what was happening, his sister expressed how nice it was to meet them and said her farewells. When Kaminari and Mina came back they wore matching conspiratorial grins.
“I don’t think I like those smiles. What did the two of you do?” Shinsou asked.
“Did we do something, Denks?” Ashido asked the man beside her.
“Hmmm, that was so long ago now that I can’t even remember,” the blonde replied.
“They gave her money for coffee,” Sero translated.
Mina shoved him with her foot, “Traitor!”
Katsuki slammed the mug down to gather everyone’s attention, “Alright, break it up you morons. We have important things to discuss.”
Shinsou couldn’t argue with that. It was too late to stop his sister anyway. Besides, now she had to send him those photos. He’d scold his bandmates later. “We only have so long before the Battle of the Bands.”
“Exactly,” Bakugou nodded. “So tell us about it, RBF.”
Hitoshi was familiar with how these sort of contests worked, he’d assistant-managed bands who had won and lost any number of such “battles”.
“These things are usually decided by a panel of judges or audience response. Sometimes a mixture of both. On average, a band gets ten minutes to set up and thirty minutes to play. You’re going to want to pull every trick in the book to create a positive reaction that builds with your set. The right energy goes a long way and you have to not only sustain it, but grow it till the last second. The prize, as we know, is being included in the Summer Sonic lineup this year. Most battles don’t have such a high stakes so it feels more like a concert, but not this time. I’m sure other musicians will be bloodthirsty to secure a spot in Japan’s biggest music festival. We’ll have to be just as cutthroat.”
“Cutthroat we can do,” Katsuki said while cracking his knuckles.
Shinsou frowned, “We’ll be disqualified if you physically harm the other bands, Bakugou.”
“Everyone knows that an emotional scar is deeper than a physical one. We’ll just have to destroy their spirits,” Kaminari smiled innocently.
Hitoshi found himself both a bit afraid and a little turned on at the blonde’s easygoing villainy.
He refocused when Kirishima added, “Yeah, we’ll crush them!” The redhead paused and then smiled sheepishly while mumbling, “But not too much.”
Katsuki rolled his eyes at the bassist’s gentleness.
Shinsou wished he’d used a softer word than cutthroat, but the band was so energized by the idea that he accepted their bloodlust.
“Let’s start by making a setlist. I’ve only seen you play one show live, but I’ve watched the footage that what’s-his-name compiled.” He wouldn’t admit he was still a bit petty about Shishikura, whose name he most certainly did not forget. “Judging by audience response during those concerts I could make some suggestions.”
“No mushy songs,” Bakugou vetoed before anyone could offer an idea. “This is war.”
“They probably wouldn’t fit the line-up anyway,” Shinsou confirmed, “Summer Sonic is largely Rock and Pop. Anything slow should be cut.”
Mina put a finger to her chin in thought, “Do we even have a slow song?”
“There was that one that Denki wrote,” Kirishima added but was quickly hushed by the guitarist in question.
“Shut up, dude! We don’t talk about that. Bakugou laughed me out of the room!” Kaminari griped.
Sero shrugged, “I actually liked it.”
Now that he thought about it, Shinsou had never considered who wrote the music they played. Their style was unique and each song definitely felt like it belonged to the same band. It was one of the first things he’d been impressed with. Most of the groups he’d worked with had a stage where either none of their songs went together or they all sounded like the same song. He hadn’t run into that problem with The Sqwäd. Perhaps in their earlier days that had been something they’d struggled with, but it certainly wasn’t now.
Kirishima must have seen Hitoshi’s thoughtful look as he explained, “We all kind of write the songs together. Someone comes in with a melody and we just build around it. Sometimes we do The Smiths method of songwriting for the lyrics.”
Shinsou looked surprised, “The Smiths?”
“You look like you’d enjoy them, honestly,” Sero laughed.
Denki hummed, “I would have guessed you were more into The Cure.”
Hitoshi decidedly did not tell them he had spent quite a lot of time in high school (and recently) listening to both of those bands, but confirmed his suspicion, “So you finish the music and send the instrumentals to Mina for lyrics?”
“Ha!” Sero barked, “I knew you’d know them.”
“Nerd,” Bakugou almost looked fond. Almost.
“I’ve heard them before,” Shinsou tried to backpedal.
Kaminari laughed, “It takes more than a casual fan to know how they did their songwriting, dude. It’s okay, we won’t judge you.”
“Not much, anyway," Mina added with a smile.
“I’m gonna quiz you about The Cure later,” Kirishima noted.
Denki suddenly grew excited, “Ten bucks says he owns a Joy Division t-shirt in his closet right now!”
Shinsou rolled his eyes, far too exposed to this group for his liking, “Let’s get back to the point. How do you want to go about picking the setlist?”
“You’re the big boss man,” Hanta gestured widely, “Why don’t you tell us?”
Hitoshi reflected on the footage he’d watched of them and left the room briefly to grab a pen and paper from his kitchen. Upon returning he saw The Sqwäd was watching him with rapt attention. He tried not to look too unsure of himself as he wrote down the songs he’d seen have the best audience reactions.
Shinsou handed the list to Bakugou, who looked it over with approval but asked, “How come Shitty Loser Rage Machine isn’t on here?”
The purple-haired man was incredibly unsurprised they had a song called that, “I don’t think I remember that one.”
“We played it at the show you went to! It’s the one that goes like this,” Kirishima said before mimicking the sounds of a heavily distorted electric guitar riff.
Now Shinsou remembered.
“Ah, the screamo one.”
“Yeah!” Mina called, “That one is super fun to play.”
Hitoshi tried to recall how the crowd responded but admittedly he was so taken aback seeing them live he’d almost entirely neglected to pay attention to the audience.
“Let’s consider it. I think I’d like to have you all test out this set live before bringing it to the battle.”
Kaminari nodded with a surprising seriousness, “I wanna test these out too. Can we play Rubber Duck Fuck Party as well?”
Sero shoved Denki with a laugh before telling Hitoshi, “He just made that one up.”
“Heaven knows I’m miserable now,” Kaminari joked. Shinsou recognized The Smith’s song title and sighed.
Denki pouted, “Come on, that was a great joke. Bet you can’t top that!”
Mina wiggled her eyebrows, “Oh, I’ll top it alright.”
“Gay,” Sero laughed.
“I know you are, but what am I?” Kaminari shot back.
“Desperate with bad taste,” Bakugou answered, gesturing to Shinsou.
Hitoshi hastily left the soon cackling group to get himself a much-needed cup of coffee. It was shaping up to be a very long day.
Tonight is a shout-out to SpookyLighthouse
My precious camping spouse and wonderful 1/3rd of Team Parents. Your friendship means everything to me and I love you!
P.S. An extra thank you to everyone who has commented. I do a stupid happy butt wiggle every time I get a notification, and I love you all.
Shinsou could hear Kaminari defending them both in the next room.
“I’m not desperate! Plus, I have excellent taste!”
Bakugou snorted derisively, “He looks like a punk Edgar Allan Poe cosplayer with anemia.”
Hitoshi couldn’t even find it in himself to be offended, and laughed quietly to himself at the image. He supposed they shared the same flat affect and eyebags.
Denki whined, “Oh come on, at least he doesn’t have that weird mustache!”
Shinsou continued to brew himself a cup of coffee, idly wondering whether the others deserved to get a cup as well- Bakugou excluded, seeing as the ash-blonde had made that decision for him earlier.
He operated his French Press with his usual efficiency and decided he’d make a cup of tea for Sero. He knew the lanky man loved a good English Breakfast brew, and he’d been the only one who hadn’t involved himself in caffeinating Eri this morning. Kirishima could share with Bakugou- if anyone would be allowed to, it would be him.
When he came back into the living room, Denki was still arguing on behalf of Shinsou’s supposedly good looks.
“I’m gonna go on our Instagram right now and read the comments that talk about how hot he is. You should have heard them when Kiri was posting those shots from your store. It was like, half drool emojis and half keysmashing.”
“Great,” Bakugou rolled his eyes, “I definitely care about the opinions of some loser extras.”
Mina pouted, “Those 'loser extras' are our fans! If you say they have bad taste then that means we suck too!”
Shinsou handed Sero his cup of tea, which he took gratefully- but with a look of surprise.
“Thanks, man,” Hanta grinned and started to sip.
Denki pouted, “How come he gets a drink? I’ve been here defending your honor, you know. Which will make a man thirsty, let me tell you.”
“Sweetie, you’ve been thirsty since you met him,” Mina laughed.
Kaminari blushed and averted his eyes with a whine. Shinsou greatly enjoyed it when the blonde became too flustered to flirt. It gave his heart a chance to rest.
“If you want it so badly you can have some,” Hitoshi shrugged.
Denki grew even more red-faced, “Say what?”
“The coffee. I’m talking about the coffee, Kaminari.”
The blonde squeaked, “Right! The coffee! I knew that. I just didn’t hear you the first time. Coffee. Got it.”
Mina was howling with laughter and the rest of the band wasn’t far behind. Shinsou took pity on the guitarist and handed him his cup and offered to share.
Denki gave a furtive look to check if it was really okay before carefully pulling the mug out of Hitoshi’s fingers and bringing it up to his own mouth. The childish part of Shinsou’s brain reminded him this would be an indirect kiss.
Kaminari paused to ask, “Where did you already drink from?”
Hitoshi felt embarrassed that he’d been excited to share it, when the blonde was clearly asking so he could avoid putting his mouth on the same spot. Shinsou pointed out where he’d drank from and tried not to look too disappointed.
“Perfect,” Denki chirped, aligning his lips exactly where Hitoshi said he’d put his, and winking at him from over the lip of the cup as he drank.
Hitoshi felt himself nearly choke on his own tongue but managed to stop himself from saying anything stupid while Bakugou laughed at his clear distress.
“Okay, let’s focus,” Shinsou forced himself to speak calmly. “We’ve agreed on a tentative setlist for the battle. I’d like to book a show soon to give us a chance to test it on a live audience.”
“That sounds good,” Kirishima confirmed, throwing an arm casually over Bakugou’s shoulders while he stole a sip from the drummer’s coffee- which made the ash-blonde man redden and subtly panic.
Shinsou took a moment to appreciate getting to laugh at Katsuki’s distress, since the ash-blonde was so fond of laughing at Hitoshi’s.
“Problem, Bakugou?” Shinsou asked, fully aware of the shit-eating grin he was wearing.
Katsuki glared hotly, “Why? You want one, eyebags? Cause I can be a problem for you.”
Hitoshi’s attention was pulled away by the quiet series of happy noises that Denki was making while drinking his coffee. The electric man being cute was incredibly distracting, so much so that he didn’t even feel angry about losing his second cup of coffee today.
“So why don’t you take care of the booking and we bring the talent?” Sero suggested, placing his empty cup on the table. “It shouldn’t be hard to get a show fairly soon. Bands drop out of lineups all the time. Think you could use your connections and get us a place?”
Hitoshi flinched at the mention of his “connections,” reflexively thinking that Hanta had somehow deduced his parents ran Logical Ruse Records.
“My connections?” He pressed.
Sero nodded, “Yeah, your fancy manager skills. I know we’re your first solo band managing but surely you’ve made some connections with local venues by now?”
Shinsou was immediately soothed, and quickly affirmed he knew plenty of places he could reach out to. He pulled out his phone and started composing an email to send to the booking agents he was closest to.
He was interrupted by a coffee cup being held out to him by Denki, “I saved you the last sip!”
Which didn’t mean an awful lot considering the blonde had drunk nearly all of his cup, but the thought was still somehow sweet.
Hitoshi mumbled, “Thanks,” before drinking the last of it- and carefully placing his mouth over where Kaminari’s had been. He didn’t have the confidence to wink back, but he’d work up to it one of these days.
Sero made a gagging noise while Denki looked like he hadn't a care in the world.
Kirishima, however, appeared decidedly more uncomfortable. Shinsou was about to ask him what was wrong when the redhead said, "Uh, could I borrow you for a sec, man?"
"Of course," Hitoshi responded. He gestured to the kitchen so they could talk privately which Kirishima seemed thankful for.
Shinsou didn't miss the scathing way Bakugou glared at him- the drummer was probably wondering what on earth Kirishima needed help with that he couldn't go to Bakugou for. A question Hitoshi shared.
In the kitchen, Ejirou watched his fidgeting hands with rapt attention while mumbling, "So, I don't have a lot of experience with this and thought you looked like the type who knows what he's doing…"
Shinsou was instantly worried what it was he looked like he was familiar with, because he felt incredibly unprepared to give Kirishima advice on anything.
"I think I'm gonna ask out Katsuki. No, I'm definitely going to. It's okay for me to date another band member, right?"
"Yeah," Shinsou started, "as long as you think a possible breakup wouldn't destroy the band. I'm not saying I think it'll go poorly, but we have to be practical about the future. You don’t want to create a Yoko and John situation either."
"Totally! Oh man, this rocks. I'm pretty sure I wanna marry him someday so I'm chill about the band's future."
Hitoshi was incredibly impressed that Kirishima had, not only overcome his earlier unsure attitude, but jumped all the way to confident proposal plans. He knew the bassist never did things by halves but this was astounding. Especially considering that Bakugou had yet to agree to even date him. Not that Shinsou thought the ash-blonde would turn him down. If anything he was surprised that Katsuki hadn’t asked Eijirou out already.
Hitoshi scratched his head, "Is that what you wanted from me? Just to know if you're allowed? I might be your manager but I’m not going to forbid you from seeing each other. I don’t have that kind of power."
"Oh, I wanted to ask you how you got Denki to be your boyfriend. You both seem really happy with your relationship and I was hoping you could give me some tips." Kirishima said while smiling, as he clapped a strong hand on Shinsou’s shoulder and waited for some advice.
Hitoshi felt as though his mind short-circuited, "I'm sorry, what?"
"You know, how did you get Kami to go out with you?
“Kaminari and I aren’t dating, Kirishima.”
The redhead’s mouth opened and closed uselessly before he stuttered, “O-of course you’re dating! You were all cuddly and drinking from the same cup and everything!”
Shinsou sighed, “Both of those things you’ve done with Bakugou this morning, are you dating?”
“Huh, I guess I never thought about it that way,” Kirishima chewed on his lip thoughtfully. “Does this mean I don’t have to ask him out? Oh shoot, what if he thinks we’ve been dating this whole time? He’s gonna be so pissed when he finds out I didn’t know!” Eijirou started to hyperventilate.
Hitoshi put a calming hand on the bassist’s back, “Calm down, okay? Take some breaths for me. In through your nose- slowly- then out through your mouth like you’re blowing out a candle.”
“S-sorry man, I just really don’t want to screw this up. Bakugou is everything to me. I can’t stop thinking about him. It’s been like this for ages, I mean I’ve known him since we were kids, but I just can’t keep it inside anymore. How do I say it?”
“Just,” Shinsou paused, desperately trying to think of a smooth way to do it, “tell him you like him?”
Kirishima looked disappointed, “Wow, you really didn’t ask Denki out, huh?”
“Shut it,” Hitoshi scowled. “I’ve never done this sort of thing before either, just give me a second and I’ll come up with something.”
“I could tell him all the things I like about him?” Kirishima suggested.
Shinsou nodded, “He does like being praised. I’ve also noticed the praise matters a lot more when it comes from you. Perhaps pull him aside and just start taking from the heart? I’d say that’s the manliest thing of all, wouldn’t you?”
Kirishima’s eyes shone with passion as he nodded and held out a fist for Hitoshi to bump.
Before Shinsou could tap his own fist against it, Eijirou pulled his arm back.
“Wait,” the redhead hummed, “Are you ever going to ask out Denki?”
“It’s...complicated,” Hitoshi settled for that and hoped Kirishima would give him the space to work it out on his own.
Eijirou cocked his head like a small dog, “What’s complicated about it?”
No such luck, I guess . Shinsou sighed.
“I’m your manager. It would be inappropriate to date a band member. Conflict of interest and all that. The most important thing in my life right now is getting The Sqwäd to the top of the charts. That comes before my feelings do.”
He thought Kirishima might understand, but the redhead just looked at him with pity, “Sounds like you just don’t wanna take a risk, but I get it. If you’re too scared that’s fine. Clearly the band is more important to you than a loving relationship, which I guess is a good trait for a boring old manager. I mean, Denks has a coffee date with Shishikura later this week that I’m pretty sure was innocent, but you’re probably fine. It won’t bother you if they hang out, will it? Since you gave up and all?”
Shinsou was well aware he’d fallen right into the bassist’s trap but he couldn’t stop himself from asking, “Are they still seeing each other?”
Kirishima’s eyes held a glint of mischief as he replied, “They aren’t dating. Not right now anyway. That could change though. Shishikura had no problem asking Kami out. Did it in front of all of us, too. Gave a whole speech about how much he liked him and even brought flowers. We were all really impressed. Very manly.”
Shinsou bit harshly on his tongue to keep himself from cursing. He knew Kirishima was playing him the same way he played with Bakugou, and it was working, but he had a point. Hitoshi was aware that putting the band first as a manager meant he shouldn’t be half as close to Kaminari as he was. If he’d found out a manager on his label was getting friendly with one of their bands he’d look down on that person. It wasn’t professional and he knew it. But, knowing it’s a bad idea, why does he feel like he has no control over the way his heart flutters at the guitarist’s smile or laugh? He finds himself picking clothes to wear and trying to guess if Denki would like them. He makes a joke and his first thought is to turn and see what Kaminari thought of it. Getting to sleep last night, despite the closeness of the other band members, with Denki in his arms had been a dream come true. He’d honestly never felt this way for another person and- he’d be honest- it was scary as hell. Shinsou didn’t know what being “ready” for dating someone felt like, much less if he was there. More than anything he wanted to ask his parents for advice, but he couldn’t imagine his father would tell him to follow his heart over his work. His papa had already given him this talk, saying something along the lines of “screw the work, do what makes you happy and the rest will fall into place.” Shinsou tried to keep that in mind as he looked up to see Kirishima was still studying him with a kind smile.
Shinsou cleared his throat before asking, “Do you think you could send Kaminari in here when you get back to the living room?”
Eijirou’s shark teeth shone in the light as he grinned victoriously, “Already planned on it, bro. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go get my man!”
Kirishima walked out of the kitchen with the kind of confidence that only being stupidly in love can create. Shinsou wished him good luck, but felt for sure he wouldn’t need it. Not long after the redhead left, Kaminari came into the kitchen. He’d brushed his bedhead to a more reasonable level of floof than it had been before and must have found one of Hitoshi’s sweaters lying around the house because he’d wrapped it around his shoulders. It was soft black wool and made the yellow of Denki’s hair seem even brighter in the early morning light.
Kaminari walked up to where Shinsou was standing, “Eiji said you wanted to talk to me? We’re all being so secretive today! I’m into it. What’s up?”
“I’ve been thinking a lot about you,” Hitoshi started, “Too much, maybe.”
He took a second to try and gather more of his thoughts, and Denki nodded for him to continue with a soft vote of confidence. So he did, saying, “It’s probably a bad idea, and my father will kill me for it, but I really like you. A lot. More than I should, frankly. Um...”
It was clear Shinsou was struggling for words and generally looking distressed, so Kaminari lent a hand, asking “Did it hurt when you fell?”
Hitoshi snorted, “What? From heaven?”
“No,” Denki corrected with a pair of finger guns, “from the vending machine. Cause you’re a snack!”
Shinsou flicked the man on the shoulder while he laughed. Feeling how all the tension and pressure had disappeared. By now, Hitoshi knew that these magical moments weren’t dumb luck, but Kaminari making him feel comfortable and safe. He wanted to be able to do the same thing for the blonde. Shinsou longed to be a source of confidence, support, and love for a person as kindhearted and giving as Denki was.
“Do you,” Hitoshi started again, “Want to go on a date with me tomorrow?”
Kaminari put a finger to his chin in mock thought.
Shinsou found himself suddenly anxious, babbling, “I know there are better ways to ask someone out. I didn’t exactly get you flowers or confess to you grandly in front of all your friends like what’s-his-name did, but I’ve never been so fond of someone before and I’d like to get dinner with you sometime.”
“Wait,” Kaminari stopped him. “What was that about Seiji asking me out with flowers in front of the band?”
“Kirishima said…” Shinsou paused and put together the mischievous look Eijirou was wearing with how confused Kaminari seemed to be hearing it and realized the bastard had played him. He leaned forward to place a kiss on Kaminari’s forehead and then sweetly added, “I’m going to murder your bassist.”
Denki burst into laughter, “At least let him ask out Kacchan first! I can’t very well go out on a date with a dead guy and Bakugou will destroy you if you lay a hand on Kiri.”
“So you’d go with me on that date as long as I’m alive?” Shinsou asked.
“I do have some free time tomorrow,” Denki drawled, “and I can’t think of a sweeter man to spend it with.”
Shinsou’s heart was beating so fast he could feel it in his chest, “Pick you up at noon? We could grab something to eat.”
Kaminari grabbed the sides of Shinsou’s face and brought it down towards his own, before pressing his lips softly against the other’s. Denki pulled back when Shinsou tried to lean into it further, adding “I gotta save something for tomorrow!”
Shinsou was still slightly in shock from the kiss when Bakugou burst into the kitchen shouting, “In your face, Eyebags! I’ve got a fucking fiancé!”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to an honorary member, UntimelyRose!
Working on a collaboration with you in the ZappyCat Zine (A ShinKami zine coming out in 2020!) has been an honor and a pleasure. Thank you for being a part of my family, you wonderful and talented soul. You're a brilliant artist and I am lucky to be able to call you friend!
P.S. Thank you everyone for the comments! They make my entire life better. Would people want to see a small spin-off oneshot fic that covers how KiriBaku gets together at the end of this chapter since that won’t be as highlighted in the main text?
Chapter 18: KiriBaku Spin-Off Chapter!
I wrote the KiriBaku spin-off chapter as it's own fic! You can find it here!
This chapter will be deleted and replaced with a proper one next week when we go back to the main event!
“A fiance?” Hitoshi asked, pierced eyebrow raised.
Bakugou’s grin was all teeth, “Yeah, fuckface, a fiance.”
Shinsou wasn’t surprised that Bakugou and Kirishima had skipped right over dating, and he couldn’t help but wonder whose idea it was.
“You’ve basically been married for years,” Mina affirmed with a laugh.
Kirishima butted in with a soft smile, his hand holding Katsuki’s, “Well, at first I just asked him if he wanted to be my boyfriend but then he told me dating is for pussies so I asked him to marry me instead and he said yes!”
Kaminari threw his arms around Bakugou and Eijirou in a dramatic hug, “My babies are growing up! It finally happened! I’m gonna be an uncle!”
“Nobody said anything about kids,” Sero pointed out.
Denki pulled back from the hug, disappointed.
“It’s okay,” Kirishima soothed, “The Sqwäd is already our baby, yeah?”
The guitarist conceded with a shrug, still looking lackluster.
Bakugou rolled his eyes grandly, “Quit your whining, dunce face, or we won’t let you babysit if the time comes that we do have a little bastard.”
Kaminari cheered right back up again, babbling happily about how lucky this kid would be to have him for an uncle.
“Congrats to you too, RBF,” Mina clapped a hand on the tall man’s shoulder. “We could hear you from the living room. Wasn’t the best confession, but the sincerity was there.”
“Gee thanks,” Hitoshi mumbled.
“I thought it was plenty sweet!” Denki pouted, rejoining the conversation. Laughingly, he added, “If you two didn’t show us up right afterward it might have been better.”
Bakugou smirked triumphantly and Kirishima had the decency to look slightly apologetic, but his overwhelming happiness was forefront.
“Alright, lovebirds. Us single folk aren’t gonna stick around and watch you all day. Let’s get going. We have some practicing to do, and you,” Mina said, pointing to Shinsou, “have to book us a gig hella soon.”
Hitoshi nodded, already mentally calculating a number of places that had good odds for show opportunities within the week.
Kirishima and Bakugou gathered their belongings before walking, hand in hand, out of Shinsou’s apartment. Sero and Mina were quick to follow. Kaminari lingered by the door, waiting expectantly for Shinsou to do something he couldn’t figure out.
“Well?” The blonde asked with a lopsided grin. “Don’t I get a goodbye kiss?”
Hitoshi strode over to the guitarist and cupped the sides of his face with his hands, before leaning forward and gently pressing his lips against Denki’s. Kaminari tightly wrapped his arms around Shinsou’s waist and trapped him in an embrace, making the taller man chuckle.
A grating voice bellowed down the hallway, “Stop eating his face and get your twink ass down here, drooly!”
Kaminari pulled himself back with a pout, but refused to unhook his arms.
“I don’t hear feet walking!” Bakugou shouted.
Hitoshi helped pull Denki’s arms away and paused for a moment to hold his hand, “I think your mom is calling.”
Kaminari snorted, “Yeah, and I’m gonna have to listen to him making wedding plans for the whole ride back. But at least I have tomorrow to look forward to, right handsome?”
Shinsou brushed a lock of hair behind Denki’s ear, “Tomorrow. At noon. Send me your address and I’ll pick you up.”
The guitarist squeezed the other man’s hands lightly, “Only if you promise not to meet my family. If my older sister gets so much as a look at you she’s gonna try and steal you away!”
“We’ll save meeting the in-laws for another day then,” Shinsou teased.
Kaminari shoved him away playfully, winking and blowing a kiss before turning to run after his friends.
Hitoshi closed and locked the apartment door behind him, before leaning up against the back of it and sighing. He’d been more courageous today than he’d been in years. Worst still, he’d have to be even braver tomorrow.
The next morning found Shinsou pacing anxiously in his apartment, unnerving his cat all the while. He’d already made arrangements for The Sqwäd to fill in for Bad Fashion Dad Polos- an EDM group that had to cancel a last-minute show. It gave the band one day to practice and compile a setlist they were happy with before testing it out and, more importantly, it gave Kaminari and Shinsou a free afternoon for their date.
He must have changed his shirt three times before he gave up and figured it wouldn’t be seen under his bomber jacket anyway. Hitoshi wore a pair of cut-up skinny jeans that Bakugou had set aside for him during their impromptu game of dress-up. The manager had attempted to tame his hair into a bun or something neater, but it refused to compromise.
Mouse watched him from the couch with a judgemental look in her eyes, and her tail flicking lazily behind her.
Shinsou turned to his cat and asked, “Does this look okay?”
Mouse delicately licked her back leg, no longer watching her owner struggle.
Hitoshi sighed and shrugged on his jacket, and took a photo of himself. He then sent it to his sister, along with a question mark.
He only had to wait a few moments before his phone buzzed.
Brat: looks good!!! do something with ur hair tho
Brat: whats the reason?
Shinsou debated how he could word it to his sister in a way that wouldn’t invite ridicule.
You: I’m meeting a friend for coffee.
Brat: sure jan
Brat: tell denki i said hi
Shinsou grimaced, already imagining how she’d relay this message to their parents. He expected to receive anxious but encouraging texts from his papa sometime soon.
He jammed his phone into his back pocket, refusing to respond to his sister, and headed out the door.
Kaminari had messaged him his address earlier, which turned out to be only a few train stops away from where Hitoshi’s family resided. It was an alright neighborhood that had more houses than it did stores. The trip there was quick, but Shinsou felt a knot of anxiety in his stomach the whole time.
He’d bought a flower from a store near the train station, and awkwardly held the single purple hydrangea stalk behind him as he walked. Hitoshi was desperately hoping the man wouldn’t be allergic.
The house was painted a sunshiny yellow, with sturdy white molding around the door and windows. The lights were on but Shinsou couldn’t see anybody inside. He knocked strongly on the door and waited.
When it opened, Hitoshi was sure that Denki had been waiting for him but on second glance it was a middle-aged woman who bore a striking resemblance- even down to the bolt in her blonde hair.
“Shinsou?” She questioned, smiling that same guileless grin her son frequently wore.
He fiddled with the flower behind his back, answering, “Uh, yes. It’s Hitoshi. Shinsou Hitoshi. I’m picking up Kaminari?”
“Which one?” she asked, immediately laughing at her own joke.
Hitoshi tried to make himself laugh but he only managed to nervously twist his mouth a bit and exhale.
The woman beckoned him inside, “Come make yourself comfortable, my son will be out in a moment.”
Shinsou started to enter the house when he heard Denki holler from behind her, “I’ll be right there!” Heavy stomps down a flight of stairs could be heard, and then the out of breath man was in view. He wore a dark blue tank top with long fishnet sleeves attached, and a pair of cheetah-print capri pants with dirty yellow Converse. His hair was tied back into a small ponytail, though wisps of blonde had escaped and hung with static around his face.
“Hey!” Denki panted, throwing his arms around Hitoshi in a hug. The guitarist noticed Shinsou was holding something behind his back, and peeked around his side to investigate. “Aw, is this for me?”
Hitoshi held out the hydrangea stalk and did his best to look confident, “I didn’t know why kind of flowers you liked, but these are my favorite.”
Kaminari made a big show of smelling them and nuzzling his face against the petals. “Thanks, Coffee Bean!”
Shinsou blinked, “What?”
“It’s your pet name!” Denki elaborated, “I wanted to have a special nickname for you that wasn’t just Resting Bitch Face or Eyebags.”
“That’s...thoughtful?” Hitoshi tried, watching Mrs. Kaminari smile at the two of them from beside her son.
“You don’t like it?” Denki looked disappointed and Shinsou couldn’t stand seeing his happy face soured with a pout- no matter how adorable it was.
“No, it’s...cute,” Hitoshi stated as he watched the man in front of him return to his happy mood.
“You think so? I was running a couple by Mina and she seemed to think that was the least offensive. I also had Honeybun, Sweetcheeks, Butterbear, Sweetiepie, Cuddlecake, Sugarbabe, and Hotstuff.”
Shinsou grimaced, “Let’s stick with Coffee Bean.”
Mrs. Kaminari laughed and went to ruffle her son’s hair, but he stepped back to defend it.
“Ma, leave it alone! I finally got it to sit right!”
Hitoshi heard a third voice from behind the two blondes, but this one was sultry and drawling. “That’s what it looks like when it’s sitting right? Yikes.”
A woman slightly taller than Denki bullied her body into the entryway, and leaned her hip against the wall. She was wearing what could only be described as a short nightgown, but Shinsou got the feeling she’d put this on after waking up.
This girl had clearly inherited their mother’s curves, and thrust her chest out while she spoke in a way that made Hitoshi concerned for her spine.
She leered at him from under long lashes, giving him obvious elevator eyes, “You’re Shinsou? Are you sure you got the right house? There’s no way Denki hooked someone so handsome.”
The blonde male stomped his foot and barked, “Akari! Leave him alone, you always do this! Ugh, this is what I was afraid of…”
Hitoshi felt a tug on his wrist and saw Denki begin to pull him away from the house. The man yelled back at his family, “Don’t wait up!”
Mrs. Kaminari laughed at the antics of her children and waved to a dazed-looking Shinsou, “It was a pleasure meeting you! Come for dinner some time!”
Hitoshi returned her wave, slightly tripping on the sidewalk as he was pulled backward and away.
Akari blew him a kiss before sashaying back into the house, her mother scolding her for her behavior all the while.
Once they’d gotten further down the street, Denki stopped pulling on him and turned around.
The blonde bowed in apology, “Boof, I’m so sorry, dude. I thought she’d be out of the house already. She overheard me talking to Ma about you and it’s been nothing but questions since. I had to dodge telling her the size of your dick three separate times.”
Shinsou blinked, “Excuse me?”
Kaminari held the flower in front of his face while he rambled anxiously, “Yeah, I know, I told her this was our first date but apparently I should know by now. Not that I was gonna ask, and it’s all about how you use it or whatever so, like, no judgment. I’m sure it’s big. In spirit, at least. Like, that Big Dick Energy, you know? You’ve totally got it. Anyway, do you still wanna go on a date with me or do I need to go murder my big sister and then shoot myself for saying all of this?”
Hitoshi smirked, “My offer for coffee wasn’t contingent on how big you or your sister think my dick is, Kaminari.”
The blonde looked up, both amused and embarrassed, “What was it contingent on, then?”
Shinsou placed on hand on Denki’s hip, and used his other to brush back some loose strands of the man’s hair. “On whether or not you want to be on a date with me. And whether or not you’ll tell my boss.”
Kaminari made a zipping motion in front of his lips, “I won’t say anything to him directly, but can I take selfies of us and put them on my Instagram? With, like, little hearts drawn around it? I’m just being honest here, dude.”
“Hmmm,” Hitoshi hummed, hiding a smile, “I’m reconsidering that coffee offer.”
Denki laughed, “Shut up!”
“You and your sister don’t get along much, do you?” The purple-haired man threw an arm around the blonde’s waist as he guided them back towards the station.
Kaminari followed his lead easily, “She fights me for everything. It got to the point where I had to start licking things in front of her before I put them in the refrigerator so she’d see they were mine.”
Shinsou raised an eyebrow at him.
Denki blushed, “You, uh, you don’t have to worry about that. I wasn’t gonna lick you or anything.”
“That’s a shame,” Hitoshi shrugged.
Kaminari paused, “Wait, really?”
“You’ll romance a man with sweet nothings about his ‘big dick energy’ but no tongue? That’s an odd double standard.”
Denki laughed, “I’m a pretty odd guy. Let’s see how good the coffee is first, big guy.”
Shinsou watched the way Kaminari’s amber eyes lit up with good humor and congratulated himself on a good date so far.
Now all I have to do is not fuck up for the next hour…
Denki stopped short, and before Hitoshi could ask what was wrong he saw a glint out of the corner of his eye. The manager turned to see a man standing there brandishing a knife.
“Put your wallet on the ground and nobody needs to get hurt!”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam Shout Out goes to Char!
You're a new friend to me, but I adore you to pieces and love having a fellow weeb therapist. Thank you for always making me smile and laugh!
Go read Char's threads, everyone! She does some ShinKami and KiriBaku!
PS. Thank you, everybody, for the comments. I cherish all of them immensely!
Chapter 20: Technically Shinsou's Best And Worst Date
Kaminari lifted his hands up in a pacifying manner, “Hey, man. We’re kind of in the middle of a date. If you could come back later or something that’d be pretty dope of you.”
The mugger’s hands shook, still holding his knife, “I said put your fucking wallets on the ground!”
Denki looked over to Shinsou, shrugging as if to say “I tried.”
Hitoshi briefly entertained the idea of using his quirk when a second person appeared. He wasn’t holding a weapon but he was considerably taller and wider than the two lovers put together, and very obviously working with the mugger.
The purple-haired man looked at the street around him, spying nobody around to help. It was a largely residential area that merged into the city and it was easy to see they were on their own in this fight.
This really wasn’t the way he wanted it to happen, but there was the chance it could look really cool if he pulled it off. Shinsou hadn’t used his quirk in years, and his control over it wasn’t the best, but his protective feelings towards Kaminari made those facts irrelevant.
He focused his mind as best he could, calling on the part of him that had been so thoroughly shunned, as he spoke, “What are you going to do about it if we don’t?”
The mugger frowned, clearly anticipating the two men would just hand their money over, “I’ll tear you a ne-”
Angry eyes fell blank, and the attacker’s body paused in it’s threatening position. His very sizeable partner looked over at him with shock on his face. Shock that very quickly turned to rage.
“What did you do to him, freak?”
Shinsou knew that, if the muscular man jarred his friend too much it would wake him from his quirk. He didn’t have a lot of time. Hitoshi focused himself again, issuing the order, “Punch your partner in the face as hard as you can.”
The mugger with the knife moved stiffly, but successfully threw an uppercut at his friend. The thud of fist against flesh was loud, and the muscular man cried out in surprise as he was hit. However, only moments after being punched, the taller mugger turned and shoved his friend to the ground.
The man’s knife was knocked out of his hand during the fall, and it went flying before landing at Kaminari’s feet.
The blonde picked up the knife and did his best to hold it threateningly, “All right, baddies. Back up!”
The muscular mugger looked unimpressed, and the man on the ground was still stunned from being thrown down. He scrambled back to his feet, leaning on the larger man beside him while recovering, “Do you even know how to use that?”
Shinsou watched Denki look at the knife with dissatisfaction. The guitarist shrugged and said, “Not really,” before tossing the knife behind him.
Hitoshi was ready to scream at him to pick it back up when the blonde continued, “I know how to use this though!”
Kaminari rushed forward, fingers sparking, and slammed both hands onto the men in front of him. The shock was immediate and both muggers jerked violently at the touch.
Denki pulled back, looking a little dizzy and swaying on his feet. Shinsou ran forward and grabbed the blonde by his arm, and pulled him away. The two lovers sprinted down the street, Kaminari laughing somewhat hysterically as they dashed away from the scene of the crime- leaving the muggers sprawled out on the ground behind them.
When Shinsou felt they had gotten far enough away, and could see other people walking around, he stopped to catch his breath.
Denki put his hands on his knees, panting, “Holy shit, that was so much fun! Let’s do it again!”
Hitoshi placed a hand on his chest in an effort to steady himself, “Absolutely not. In fact, new rule going forward, no more getting robbed during dates.”
Kaminari threw his arms around Shinsou, “But you were so cool! Why didn’t you tell me your quirk was so badass? You should be a pro hero!”
Hitoshi felt his heart skip. In all the excitement he’d completely forgotten he’d shown his quirk. Never in his entire life had anyone deemed his quirk “badass” and heroic, even his fathers had only ever referred to it gently. He knew they didn’t judge him for it, but nobody had ever expressed such excitement about his abilities.
Hitoshi averted his eyes, “You aren’t afraid to talk to me now?”
“Dude,” Kaminari said softly, “I’m only afraid you wouldn’t have told me about it if we’d never gotten mugged. You should show The Sqwäd! They’d think it was mega cool too.”
“I think you were the mega cool one,” Shinsou sighed, “I should have had the bigger guy punch the smaller one.”
Denki laughed, “But then I wouldn’t have been able to show off!”
“Yeah,” Shinsou smirked, “my hero.”
Kaminari grinned, rocking back on his heels with a snug look. "No chance you wanna ditch the music scene and become vigilantes?"
"Maybe on our next date," Hitoshi allowed.
Denki stepped back, hooked arms with the taller man, and started to lead him toward the shops. "Decided we're going on more dates already? I must have really blown you away with my skills, huh?"
Shinsou shrugged, "you're alright, I guess. Mostly I just want to take you out and not get robbed in the future."
"Key point," Denki interrupted, waving his wallet, "we weren't actually robbed. Though you did steal my heart."
Hitoshi couldn't help but smile, "Brat. You want a second date or not?"
"Yes, please!" Kaminari cheered. "Now, take me somewhere cool and let's make out."
Shinsou nearly choked on his breath, "excuse me?"
"You're right," Denki paused, "Let's get coffee or something first. But you gotta get something sweet so we can share it. I don't even know your favorite color yet. We’re basically strangers."
Hitoshi quietly wondered why Kaminari's barometer for kissing required color-specific knowledge before answering, "I've been pretty fond of yellow lately."
The blonde beamed. "I'll have you know I liked purple before I met you. You definitely raised it in my list though."
Shinsou held his tongue and didn't mention he knew very well about him liking purple, considering his most recent ex.
Judging by the knowing and apologetic look on his face, Kaminari could tell he was thinking it.
The guitarist smiled crookedly, "But hey, this has already been the most exciting date I've ever been on!"
Hitoshi found himself speaking the truth before he could stop it from coming out, "This is the only date I've been on, so I guess I can say the same."
Kaminari stopped short, digging his heels in the ground and looking at Shinsou with shock, “You’re joking.”
Hitoshi shook his head, “I wouldn’t joke about that.”
The blonde put both his hands on his hips, appearing outraged, “How is that possible?! You’re like, the biggest catch!”
Shinsou shrugged, suddenly feeling entirely too vulnerable in front of the man he had intended to impress. “I apparently come off distant and aloof. At least, that’s what I get told a lot. I’m better with marketing, managing, and scheduling than I am with interpersonal stuff.”
“Calling it interpersonal stuff probably isn’t helping, dude.” Denki smiled softly, reaching out to take one of Shinsou’s hands. “Besides, you're plenty personable! Clearly other people just weren’t paying attention. If they won’t take the time to get to know you, then they don’t deserve you. Case closed.”
Kaminari had this wonderful habit of making everything seem so simple. His perspective and occasionally blind optimism was something Shinsou severely lacked, and he found himself falling just a little bit more in love.
Instead of admitting to any of that, Hitoshi merely squeezed the man’s hand and offered, “I’ll buy the coffee.”
Denki grinned and squeezed his hand back, before tugging him towards a cafe.
It was a small shop, and Shinsou had to duck his head slightly as they entered the establishment. Hitoshi might have called it a hipster coffee shop but there was none of the mustachioed crowd sitting around rehashing Proust over lunch.
Kaminari trotted up to the counter to oogle the desserts behind the glass, and Shinsou had to force himself to look away from how adorable his eagerness for sugar was. He switched instead to reading the different drink options and calculating what was sweet enough for Kaminari to like but bitter enough for Hitoshi to appreciate.
Denki looked away from the pastries to add, “If you buy the coffee then I’ll get something tasty for us to eat.”
Shinsou shook his head with a grin, “I have to pay you back for being my hero earlier.”
Kaminari pouted playfully, “Well you were my hero, so it’s only fair.”
The lady behind the counter butted in, looking excited, “Excuse me, did you say you two are pro heroes?”
Before Hitoshi could correct her, Denki had already started talking, casually remarking, “Yep! But we’re off the clock right now.”
The woman clapped her hands, “I’ve never met a pro hero before! Can I have your autograph? What number are you in the charts?”
Kaminari started to flounder so Shinsou jumped in, “I’m afraid we’re underground, Ma’am. They don’t put us on the charts. Our quirks work best when someone isn’t expecting them.”
The look of sheer surprise and joy that lit up Denki’s eyes was worth the lie. Hitoshi would spend all day telling untruths if it made Kaminari smile like that.
The barista nodded her head conspiratorially, “I won’t say anything then! Your secret is safe with me. Have a muffin for free! To thank you for keeping our city safe.”
Shinsou gestured vaguely, “Just doing our job. Let us pay, though. What drink would you suggest for two people with varying taste buds to share?”
“Hmmm,” the barista placed a finger on her chin in thought, “Perhaps a mocha?”
Denki wrapped an arm around Hitoshi’s waist, “Works for me, babe.”
Shinsou did his best not to blush too heavily as he handed the woman some crisp bills. Kaminari ordered a slice of red velvet cake for them to share, and made sure to put the cost of the muffin into the tip jar- something Shinsou had planned on doing if the blonde hadn’t.
The drink was made, and the snacks packaged, with practiced ease. She handed them to the two lovers who quickly made their escape.
Four seconds after leaving the store, Denki turned to Hitoshi and whispered, “I can’t believe you backed me up on the pro hero thing!”
“Guess that makes me your hero twice today,” Shinsou took a sip before handing it to the guitarist so he could do the same.
Kaminari drank from it eagerly, before adding, “Definitely. Though maybe we should go into hero work. Free muffins!”
Hitoshi took back the coffee, and casually slid his arm around the other man’s shoulders. They walked a few streets in companionable silence, enjoying each other’s closeness.
Denki ruined the silence by asking, “Did you get your quirk from your family? I thought Present Mic had a voice quirk. I guess yours is voice-activated, but I don’t think he can control people the cool way you do.”
Shinsou would have loved to discuss practically anything that wasn’t his quirk or his family, but he felt he owed Kaminari the truth. Today seemed to be a day for honesty.
“My birth parents didn’t have a similar quirk, and my adopted ones definitely don’t. You already know about my papa, but my dad’s quirk allows him to erase other people’s.”
Denki frowned, “Where was he when I was breaking every gaming console I touched because I’d get too excited and short it. Do you know how many GameBoys I went through? I had to buy Pokemon Yellow five times. My ma was pissed.”
It was difficult for Shinsou to think about a wonderful quirk like Kaminari’s having drawbacks. He’d been so jealous of how flashy and easy The Sqwäd’s experience of their quirks had been. It was much simpler to be sour about it than it was to think of the hardships they might have faced. Either way, he doubted they had lost friends due to their quirks. Shinsou couldn’t count the number of connections that had been severed once his powers appeared.
Denki must have picked up on the tension as he tried to segway to a lighter topic, “So, what does your other dad do?”
Shinsou mumbled into the coffee cup, “He, uh, runs a record company.”
“Oh shit, for real?” Kaminari laughed, “Guess music runs in your family. What company?”
Hitoshi prayed silently for the muggers from earlier to return and force a change of subject as he replied, “Logical Ruse.”
Denki frowned, “Does it totally suck to work for your dad? I’d go crazy if I had to work for mine.”
The manager could feel his heart stop in his chest. That was it? That’s all he was going to say? Nothing about how he’d only gotten this job because of nepotism? No jab about his abilities? He knows that he shouldn’t expect that sort of thing from Kaminari- after all, the man had defied every expectation he’d had for him- but it never stopped being surreal.
He couldn’t help himself from asking, “You aren’t thinking I just got this job because of him?”
Kaminari laughed, “Dude, I’ve read interviews with him and that man is terrifying. Definitely not the kind of person who would give his kid a job just for asking. He probably put you through hell when he trained you, am I right?”
“He used to wake me up at 4 AM just to quiz me on classic rock history.”
Denki nodded wisely, happy to be correct, “Like I said before, Coffee Bean. If people aren’t willing to learn your side of the story then they aren’t people worth knowing.”
They sat down on a bench and split the muffin and cake slice they’d gotten from the cafe, sharing bits and pieces of childhood stories with each other. The time flew and soon Shinsou had to drop the blonde back off at his house.
Hitoshi walked him to the door, having held his hand the whole way back, and pressed a kiss to the other man’s mouth.
Denki leaned into it and sighed happily before pulling back and asking, “Still want to go on a second date?”
Shinsou hadn’t yet had a chance to answer when the front door opened and Kaminari’s sultry sister peeked out. She hadn’t even started to speak before Hitoshi leaned forward and licked the guitarist on the cheek before facing Akari and saying, “There. Since apparently that’s how you settle things in this family.”
Denki cackled at the look on his sister’s face before getting up on his top toes to lick Shinsou’s cheek and shouting, “Dibs!”
Akari slammed the door shut while the two men laughed.
“Guess we gotta be boyfriends now,” Kaminari shrugged, “Can’t get more official than calling dibs.”
“Guess so,” Shinsou replied. “Now get some sleep, Kitten. The Sqwäd plays a show tomorrow night.”
Denki stuttered, face going bright red, “K-kitten?”
“Too much?” Hitoshi furrowed his brow.
The blonde shook his head, still looking impressed, “Too good. My heart skipped a beat!”
Shinsou mentally high-fived himself. Maybe he was getting the hang of this dating thing after all.
“Then good night, Kitten.”
As he turned to leave he saw startled sparks flying off of his boyfriend.
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Ry!
Ry, you're incredibly sweet, funny, and supportive of others. Plus, I don't know anyone as dedicated to this ship as you are. You're one of my favorite Twitter people and I hope we talk more in the future. Thank you for being my friend!
Chapter 21: Lessons
Sorry this chapter is twenty three hours late! I burnt two of my fingers yesterday- in a most embarrassing manner and via a Pop Tart- so typing has been ridiculously slow. It's also a shorter chapter due to that. I hope it brings you some happiness regardless!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Shinsou woke up the next morning smiling.
His cat was meowing like she hadn't been fed in twelve years, but all he could hear were echoes of yesterday's date. Hitoshi pushed Mouse from off his shoulder, where she was yowling directly into his ear, and sat up. Today he planned on meeting up with his father and getting some advice on the upcoming battle of the bands. He also planned on telling him that he'd done exactly what Aizawa had told him not to do and started dating a loud blonde.
A loud blonde who also happened to be in the band he was managing.
Definitely not who his father would have picked for him, but he knew Hizashi and Eri approved so Aizawa would just have to accept it. Shinsou was usually an excellent liar, but his parents always saw right through him. Better to tell them the truth now and deal with the consequences. Just as he psyched himself up to see his dad, Mouse crawled under his arm and placed her fluffy body on his lap.
“I guess dad can wait a little bit,” Shinsou allowed, petting his pleased cat.
Aizawa leveled an unimpressed look at his son, “Sorry, It sounded like you just told me you were dating your guitarist, but seeing as you are my very intelligent son, you surely meant something else.”
“Uh,” Shinsou rubbed the back of his neck anxiously, “I honestly thought this would go over better than it did, but you heard me right the first time.”
The two men sat across each other at a table in a restaurant. Shinsou decided the news would be best delivered while out of the office, considering it was probably a breach of contract to date his own client.
His father sighed, “When you said you planned on ‘marrying’ your work, this isn’t what I thought you meant.”
“I don’t think you have to worry about walking me down the aisle anytime soon. We only went on our first date yesterday.”
Hitoshi paused and realized that Kirishima and Bakugou’s first date might be their wedding, so his argument didn’t hold much water.
Aizawa took a long sip of his black coffee, “Have you considered the amount of trouble you’re in for?”
Shinsou frowned, “He isn’t that bad. Kaminari is one of the nicest people I know. Sure, he’s somewhat hyperactive but he’s incredibly kind and a very talented guitarist-”
His father cut him off, shaking his head, “Spare me your waxing poetic. My problem isn’t that you’re dating Kaminari. It’s that, if you break up with him, you’re contractually obligated to see his band through till the end of next year at least . Can you handle that?”
Hitoshi shrugged, “If it didn’t work out I don’t think he’d go out of his way to be an asshole about it. I’m sure we could be professional.”
“I don’t think that’s the hurdle. I know you, and you’re just like me. If you two broke up and he started dating someone else, how would you take it?”
Shinsou couldn’t stop himself from flinching.
“Exactly,” Aizawa crossed his arms, “If he started showing up with some guy hanging all over him, drooling at him from the crowd, traveling with you on tours...could you remain professional and objective?”
Hitoshi thought about how horrible he is about Shishikura, who isn’t even dating Kaminari anymore, and figured he probably wouldn’t navigate that nicely. His sadness and anger towards himself must have shown, because his father reached across the table to settle a hand on his son’s shoulder.
“I’m not trying to break you two up, Hitoshi. I’m happy for you, honestly. You’ve been looking a lot more lively since working with these kids, and you know Hizashi and Eri love your boyfriend. I just don’t want to see you hurt and then stuck. I know you aren’t the type to go into things blindly, and I doubt you’d have agreed to date Kaminari if you didn’t think you could make it work.”
Aizawa was right. Shinsou had been making pro and con lists about the blonde guitarist since meeting him. His mind was analytical before emotional. He would never have gone on a date with Denki unless he thought they could really last.
“So then why are you telling me all this? It’s not like you to speak just for the sake of talking,” Shinsou asked.
His father’s expression grew morose, “Your papa and I may have had some...difficulties along those lines when he first got together.”
This piqued Hitohsi’s interest, and he copied his father’s one lifted eyebrow to prompt him into speaking further.
“We hadn’t gotten together yet, so it wasn’t quite the same, but the chemistry was there. We’d all but made it official and suddenly this useless bassist ,” Aizawa spat, “came out of nowhere and started following him around like a lovesick schoolgirl. I...didn’t handle it gracefully.”
Shinsou leaned forward, “What did you do?”
“Nothing he can prove in court,” his father made his famous unnerving grin.
“How’d papa take it?”
At this, Aizawa grimaced, “Not...well. But we worked past it. I’m still a jealous bastard but I trust Hizashi with my life.”
Shinsou smiled softly, appreciating his parents even more. “And then what? How did you know it would work out? That it would be worth it?”
His father snorted, “We didn’t. Nobody does.”
Hitoshi had a feeling that would be the answer, but he’d been hoping for timeless wisdom.
Aizawa smiled, “Stop pouting. Listen, if you think he’s worth it and you’re willing to put in the work then take the chance.”
“That was...surprisingly inspirational,” Shinsou spoke hesitatingly.
“Of course. What’s the worst that could happen? He breaks your heart leaving you an empty husk of a human who constantly chases after people like him only to be disappointed while he lives happily with someone else?”
Hitoshi groaned, “Why would you say that?! Now that’s all I’m going to think about.”
Shouta threw back his head and laughed, “Couldn’t help myself.” He ruffled his son’s hair, “Now, finish your lunch so we can go over our battleplan. Your band is going to win that contest if it kills us.”
Hours later, Shinsou finds himself waiting for the band to meet him at tonight’s venue. He realized he’d probably be waiting for a while, but was pleasantly shocked when he heard a cacophony of familiar voices.
There, a full hour ahead of their performance, was The Sqwäd. The surprise on his face made the musicians laugh, but Hitoshi was still too in awe of their punctuality to care.
“Thought we’d be late, huh?” Mina grinned.
“We’re working on getting our shit together,” Sero shrugged.
Kaminari threw his arms out, nearly hitting a disgruntled Bakugou with the guitar case slung over his shoulder, “Hey, babe! Did you miss me?”
Hitoshi feels his heart clench at the blatant affection in his boyfriend’s eyes, but he schools his expression and answers, “It’s only been a few hours.”
“Twenty hours to be exact,” Kirishima adds.
Shinsou furrowed his brows, trying to figure out how the hell Eijirou would know that when the redhead explained, “He’s been talking about the date nonstop since the second it ended.”
“Drooly didn’t stop texting us till three in the fucking morning when I threatened to tell you all the mushy shit he was saying about you,” Bakugou huffed.
Denki didn’t even blush at the accusation, and happily wrapped his arms around Shinsou’s neck. The blonde was nuzzling the other man’s shoulder when they heard someone clear their throat.
Hitoshi looked up to see Shishikura walking up behind them, holding a camera, with a sour expression on his face.
Shinsou didn’t think his day could get any better, but now he had the extreme pleasure of being cuddled by Kaminari in front of the man’s ex. He imagined this level of satisfaction is what his father felt after whatever he did to Hizashi’s suitor.
Hitoshi grinned widely and wrapped his arms around Denki’s waist, before saying, “Good evening, Shishikura. What a pleasure it is to see you.”
“Yes,” Seiji grunted, “Truly a delight. Would you mind ceasing this unprofessional behavior and telling me where the Green Room is so I can start filming?”
“You don’t want to start filming now?” Shinsou offered.
Bakugou rolled his eyes at the two in front of him and grabbed Shishikura by the arm, dragging him towards the back of the venue. “We don’t have time for your dick measuring contest, let’s start setting up already.”
Kaminari pulled back, looking at the retreating men while biting his lip anxiously. “That was probably shitty of me, huh?”
“I thought it was great,” Hitoshi said before kissing his boyfriend soundly. “Bakugou was right, though. We should be preparing for the show. Have you all decided on what songs to play?”
Denki nodded, a little starstruck from the kiss still, “We went over your list last night and moved some stuff around. I think we got a good set! I hope it goes over well...”
“Don’t worry about that part. I’ll keep a close eye on the audience, you just focus on doing your best,” Shinsou said while tucking a lock of golden hair behind Denki’s pierced ear.
The guitarist smiled sweetly, going up on his tiptoes to place a soft kiss on Hitoshi's lips before scurrying after his bandmates to prepare for the show.
Shinsou took out his cellphone and texted his father.
You: Yeah, he’s worth it.
Today's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Curry! !
My sweet and precious child! I adore you and am honored to be your friend and Twitter step-parent. You're an amazing artist (and everyone should click on her name since it links to her twitter where she does very cute drawings, many of which are ShinKami related). You get a suitably parental chapter, and I hope you like it!
PS. I'm very thankful for my wonderful new Twitter friends. Don't be afraid to say hi @Hey_There_Satan!
Hitoshi’s phone buzzed a second later, and his father replied sweetly:
Dad: Then don’t fuck it up.
Dad: And don’t tell your papa or Eri that I said that.
Shinsou chuckled under his breath and put his cell away. He’d absolutely be telling his sister that their father was both supportive and cursing. His papa might appreciate it too. Secrets weren’t really a concept in their home. They were all good liars, except for Hizashi, but Aizawa was very strict about honesty being important.
Hitoshi was still musing on his entertaining family when he felt a soft tap on his shoulder. He turned around to see an old work acquaintance, Uraraka Ochako.
He hadn’t seen the round-faced woman in a few years, but she looked the same as she did on their last tour together. They’d both been managing bands that had gone on the road for a few months of shows, and found they had a lot in common. Uraraka also came from a music background, but her family had never found success in the business. She made it her goal to rise in the ranks of the music industry the way her parents had wanted, and she was ruthless when she needed to be. At her core, she was very kind but she had a sharp tongue if it was needed. He had always admired how easily she connected with other people.
Ochako slapped a hand on his back and beamed, “Long time no see, Shinsou! I didn’t think I’d run into you at a punk show!”
Hitoshi gestured with his chin towards the stage, “I’m here for work. My band is playing tonight. We’re testing out our set for the Summer Sonic Battle of the Bands.”
Uraraka’s eyebrows raised, “Your band? Not The Sqwäd, by any chance?”
Ochako threw her head back and laughed, “No kidding! I’m afraid I should tell you that I’m here to scope out the competition. The band I’m managing will be playing against you in the battle.”
Shinsou couldn’t help but join her in a chuckle, “Guess we’re going to face off. I hope you won’t hold it against me when you lose.”
The female manager smirked, “You mean when you lose. I’m with a trio that just can’t be beaten. Their new album sold like crazy and they’re wanted at every club!”
Shinsou imitated his father’s grin, “And yet they still can’t get into Summer Sonic without this competition? Guess we’re on the same level then.”
Uraraka crossed her arms, “We’ll see pretty soon, won’t we? I’ve never watched this band perform and I wanted to get an edge on the competition. They any good?”
Hitoshi did his best to look casual, “They aren’t too bad.”
The club had started to fill around them. Punks of all ages, gathered in small bunches, trying to quickly finish drinking overpriced beer so they could jump in the mosh pit later.
Ochako raised an eyebrow, “You were so sure you’d beat my band a second ago, but all you have to say is that they ‘aren’t too bad’?”
The overhead lights in the club dimmed and the bright spotlights came on. The throng of people headed towards the stage, roaring and shouting their excitement.
“I’d rather let them talk for themselves,” Shinsou shrugged, yelling over the cheering crowd to be heard by his friend.
A loud strum of electric guitar rang out, and the band made their way one by one to the stage.
First came Bakugou, in a tattered tight white t-shirt with the band's logo and a pair of skinny red jeans. He vaulted himself up over his drum set and sat down, immediately starting to hammer out a fast beat.
Sero came next, wearing a high-collared dress shirt with uneven stitching and a black and crimson colored kilt. His mohawk bouncing along with his nodding head as he started a riff.
Kirishima followed, shirtless despite the cold, to the excited cheering of his fans. The man was built and had no qualms about showing it off during concerts. His jeans were tucked into a pair of untied boots. He added a walking bass line to the cacophony as he found his place on stage.
Then, Kaminari slid onstage with a flourish. His mesh crop top made it easy to see the glinting skull belly button piercing. His purple and black striped pants clung to his legs until they met shiny black boots with buckles. With the added layer of his guitar's melody, the band started to play their first song.
A heavy metal scream could be heard from off-stage before Mina literally ran and jumped on stage to join her band. She wore a bright green bra under a pair of black overalls that were covered in patches and torn aesthetically. She howled out another long note before starting the lyrics properly, and the crowd sang along.
Shinsou turned to Ochako, hoping to gloat a bit at how well the audience was receiving his band, but found her absolutely mesmerized. At first, he was proud of his musicians but then he realized she wasn’t watching the band; she was watching Mina.
Ashido lifted up the electric violin she’d brought on stage with her and started to shred. She and Kaminari laughed at each other while playing harmonizing riffs, before Mina began to sing again into the mic.
“See something you like?” Hitoshi joked, elbowing Uraraka.
“What?” the brown-haired girl shouted back.
“I said, see something you like?” Shinsou yelled.
She must have heard him this time because she turned as pink as Mina’s skin.
Uraraka mumbled something he couldn’t hear and shoved him playfully. Shinsou made a mental note to introduce the two girls after the show.
The band played through the agreed-upon setlist, and the response was loud and clear. The audience was eating up every ballad, scream, thrown drumstick, and solo. During their “only mushy song,” as Bakugou put it, Kaminari had the gall to blow a kiss at the crowd where he knew his boyfriend was standing. Hitoshi found himself embarrassed and elated all at once. He was sure Denki couldn’t actually see him from the stage- not with the lights as bright as they were- but he hadn’t moved since the blonde kissed him and ran off backstage.
When Kaminari played a solo, Shinsou found himself staring at the agile movements of the man’s hands. He remembered the way the callouses a guitar player’s fingers have felt against his own, and got an urge to gently kiss the blonde’s fingertips after the show is over.
He shook his head to refocus himself, feeling slightly ashamed that it took so little effort on Denki’s part to distract him from his job. He didn’t want to imagine what his father would have to say about it.
As the show wore on, Shinsou kept detailed notes on his phone on how the crowd reacted to different aspects of the performance. What type of on-stage banter was laughed at the most, which interactions with the audience could be repeated for good effect, a short list of emotions each song evoked in people, and more. Hitoshi was nothing if not detailed. He planned to type it all up into a spreadsheet when he got home so he could analyze it with the information he’d already collected about the audience's response.
He also made sure to keep an eye on Ochako, who he was fairly confident had spent no time watching the band because she was too focused on its singer. Which worked in his favor, the less she knew about their performance the less she could report back to her own band.
When they got to the last song Shinsou recognized the riff from the piece Bakugou argued should be in the setlist. Kirishima, Sero, and Kaminari started to headbang in sync while Mina clapped her hands and gestured for the audience to do the same. All around him, Hitoshi saw people start to clap along with her. Some stomped their feet instead and Shinsou felt as though the whole club was moving. He breathed deeply and felt the drum beat reverberate within him.
Not terribly long ago he would have hated being in this situation, but now he felt such a sense of belonging that he wanted to jump into the mosh pit and scream with the rest of the audience. Still, he kept himself composed and instead just nodded his head to the beat until the song ended.
The band left the stage in a prolonged dramatic goodbye. Hitoshi took special pride in noticing Uraraka was cheering for them to return. He crossed his arms and straightened his shoulders, suddenly feeling incredibly proud.
Some members of the crowd started to chant, “one more song!” until everyone had joined in, and that brought The Sqwäd back on stage. They were all sweaty and red-faced, still high from the experience of performing but happy to do it all over again despite their exhaustion. Mina took the mic and growled, “This last one is for Summer Sonic! We’re coming for you, fuckers!”
The audience roared happily and Hitoshi stifled a laugh at the expression on Ochako’s face. She’d probably just been reminded why she'd come here.
Bakugou counted off the beat with his drumsticks before the whole band joined him in playing. He couldn’t recall this song from the list they’d gone over, and considering he’d included options for encores he was confused as to why they were playing something new.
It was a fast-paced song, all atonal scales and harsh drumming. It shouldn’t have worked but Mina’s voice was clear and strong as a guiding melody- the music became an intense wall of noise that kept building, but her sweet singing stood against it. She sounded almost delicate, a way he’d never heard her, and when Kaminari joined in for the chorus it became even more beautiful. Shinsou closed his eyes and followed the sound with his mind. The vocals were cresting and falling in almost fragile waves against the harsh backing of the bass and drums. He lost himself in the music and felt oddly empty when the last chords of the song rang out. A moment of silence fell upon the audience before they started to scream and cheer.
Hitoshi could tell it had been a clear success. He wondered why nobody had told him they’d had a new song that was this good, but figured he’d bother them about that later.
The band left the stage again and the crowd started to disperse. Patrons went to the bar for drinks and the DJ threw on some Dead Kennedy’s as background noise.
Shinsou turned to Ochako, a pleased smirk on his face as he asked, “So what did you think of them?”
Uraraka puffed her cheeks angrily, “You said they weren’t ‘that bad’! You didn’t tell me she was so amazing!”
Hitoshi raised one eyebrow, “She?”
“I meant them! The band. I meant the band,” Ochako corrected herself, blushing.
Shinsou had never seen her look out of her element before and it was incredibly satisfying to see the powerful manager acting so lovesick. It made him worry that he might look the same when Denki is around. He made a note to school his face more carefully.
“Why don’t you come backstage with me and meet her?” Hitoshi paused before he added, “I mean them. The band.”
She shot him a dark look, pouting as she answered, “I forgot how much of a brat you can be.”
Shinsou’s face remained blank as he scoffed, “Keep that up and I’ll tell Mina you’re married.”
“Mina? Is that her name?” Ochako had the decency to look embarrassed at her interest.
“Mina Ashido,” Hitoshi added. “She’s a handful, but from the way you were looking at her I think a handful is exactly what you want.”
Shinsou grimaced, Kaminari was clearly rubbing off on him. That sounded like a joke he would have come up with.
Uraraka let out a shocked but amused squawk and shoved him, “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
Hitoshi gestured over his shoulder for her to follow and started to make his way towards the green room backstage. The bouncer waved them in.
The sticky club floor squeaked under their heels as they walked down a small hallway. He could already hear the band chatting loudly with each other. Shinsou knocked on the door and waited for someone to answer, but the voices inside must have been too loud for them to hear. Shrugging, Hitoshi opened the door and let his friend inside first.
“Good show, everyone,” Shinsou interrupted their revelry. “I’ve brought a fan.”
The five band members turned to face the newcomer with a mix of interest and suspicion.
“Who the fuck is pink cheeks?” Bakugou gestured at her rudely with his drumsticks. “Why the hell did you think we wanted fans back here?”
“I’m not actually a fan-” Uraraka started.
Mina pouted, “You didn’t like us?”
Ochako waved her hands in front of her, anxiously shaking her head as she insisted, “That’s not what I meant! You were great! I mean, the band. The band was great! But I’m actually a friend of Shinsou’s. We both work in the industry.”
Denki strolled up to her and stuck out his hand, “I’m Kaminari! You work at Logical Ruse too?”
“No,” Uraraka corrected, “I work with Plus Ultra Records. My band is actually competing against yours in the upcoming Summer Sonic Battle of the Bands.”
“So you came to check out the competition?” Sero guessed.
“Exactly. I’m both pleased and regretful to say that I think you’ve all got a lot of talent.”
“Some more than others,” Hitoshi said under his breath. Ochako casually stepped backward and dug her heel into his boots in retribution. Luckily his were steel-toed.
The bassist introduced himself next, “I’m Kirishima. The drummer is Bakugou, that guy is Sero, and this is-”
“Mina,” Ashido interrupted him, reaching out a hand to grab Uraraka’s. “I love a woman in a power suit.” The pink-haired girl held onto Ochako’s hands just a few moments too long, and the rest of the band started to look at each other with wiggling eyebrows- with the exception of Bakugou who looked exasperated at the very thought of this budding romance.
“Ah, yes. It’s...nice to meet you!” Uraraka shook the singer’s hand again before yanking it back. “Good show tonight!”
“You don’t have to tell us, lady!” Kirishima laughed, “We could hear it!”
“They ate us up!” Mina crowed.
“I’m sure someone was thinking about eating you,” Sero stage whispered. Kaminari broke into giggles and high-fived him while Ochako’s face went even redder.
“What was that last song?” Shinsou asked, drawing their attention. “I don’t remember ever hearing you play it before, and I know it wasn’t on the list we agreed on.”
“Yeah,” Denki mumbled, rubbing the back of his hair anxiously, “that one was my fault. I convinced the gang to play it. I was trying to read the room, right? And I know we’d never played that one live, but I felt like it was the right time!”
“It was a hell of a gamble,” Hitoshi scolded, “An encore song should always be one you know the audience will love.”
Kaminari’s small eyebrows knitted together, “So it was bad?”
Shinsou walked over to him and put a reassuring hand on the guitarist’s cheek, “I didn’t say that. Just that it was a gamble. But it definitely paid off tonight. I think that one might be my favorite.”
“You mean it?” Denki asked, holding Hitoshi’s hand against his face. “You aren’t just saying that cause I’m the one who wrote it?”
Shinsou stroked the blonde's cheek, “Kitten, how could I have known you wrote it? I didn’t even know it existed until you played it tonight.”
“Oh yeah,” Kaminari smiled, “I’m not usually the one who writes the songs but...that one was inspired.”
Before Shinsou could inquire further, he was reminded of the other occupants in the room thanks to Uraraka’s delighted sounding “Ohhhh ho ho, what have we here?”
Hitoshi turned around to shoot her a displeased look and found her expression incredibly smug.
“You didn’t tell me you were dating your client, Shinsou!” Ochako smiled widely, gesturing to the couple in front of her. “I can’t imagine what your father thinks of that.”
Hitoshi took a step away from his boyfriend, adding “Not that it’s any of your business, but he’s given his blessing.”
Uraraka snorted, “Aizawa doesn’t give anything his ‘blessing.’ What you mean is that he’ll tolerate it.”
Shinsou couldn’t argue with that, so he chose to shrug.
Kaminari chuckled, “Please don’t help him make better decisions. I don’t wanna lose a boyfriend.”
Ochako placed a hand over her heart, “I’d never get in the way of love. It’ll be our secret. Not that you two are doing a good job keeping it subtle.”
“Subtle isn’t their strong suit,” Bakugou growled. “Does the competition have anything more she’d like to say or will you take Pinky’s number already and go?”
Uraraka looked surprised and started to decline when Mina grabbed her arm. Sero handed her a sharpie, and then the singer was soon writing her phone number on Ochako’s hand.
Ashido winked, “There you go, sugar! Gimmie a ring sometime.”
If it wasn’t off-brand, Shinsou would have laughed at Uraraka’s face. Instead, he merely thanked Mina for her contribution and helped steer Ochako out of the room.
The Sqwäd called out a goodbye to her in chorus as she stumbled out the door. Hitoshi closed it behind her with a sigh.
Katsuki cracked his knuckles, threw an arm around Kirishima’s shoulder, and announced, “We’re gonna win the fuck out of that contest.”
As he was looking at the dedicated and excited faces watching him, Shinsou couldn't help but agree.
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Shinsou crossed his arms, channeling the best impression of his father that he could muster. It was time for some tough love.
“You played a good show, but it’s going to take more than that to beat the competition for Summer Sonic.”
Bakugou’s proud grin twisted into a scowl, “Are you joking? We were fucking flawless.”
“I wouldn’t say flawless. There were moments where I felt like we could have pushed it, you know?” Sero thought aloud.
“Maybe you, but not me. I was on goddamn fire tonight!” Katsuki’s sour mood was slightly soothed when Kirishima put a reassuring hand on his hip.
Hitoshi shrugged, “You did well, yes, but you could have done better. What’s more, you’ll need to do better if you want to win this competition.”
“Babe,” Kaminari’s thin eyebrows twitched, “I’m getting whiplash from this stronk manager attitude. We weren’t that bad, were we?”
Shinsou couldn’t help but feel a little guilty but didn’t want to seem like a pushover. He compromised with, “You did better than most bands at the Summer Sonic battle will, but you have to beat all of them if you want to win. Obviously I believe you can do it, but you aren’t going to get any better by deciding you’re perfect.”
He took particular satisfaction in Bakugou’s resigned huff. Even the drummer knew that Hitoshi was right, as much as he didn’t want to say it.
“So?” Mina gestured to her fellow bandmates, “Tell us how to fix it then!”
Shinsou took his phone out from his back pocket and opened up his most recent entry. “In no particular order… Kirishima, you tend to look at Bakugou during the show. Whether it’s for guidance, or for eye candy, I’d prefer it if you kept it more subtle. Also, you fumbled with the rhythm a few times. I’ll send you the specific songs and moments where you did.”
Eijirou blushed but nodded his head fervently. “You got it, boss!”
The purple-haired man turned to Kaminari next, “Be careful of your output during sets. See if you can stop sending electricity to some of the amps during downtime between songs and banter. You looked like you were going to pass out by the last song. Also, your D string was a little flat.”
"Better than my g-string!" Denki laughed. In the responding silence he looked entirely unrepentant, winking at his boyfriend and chirping a casual, “Alright, I got it. Sure thing, Coffee Bean!”
Hitoshi did his best to keep his face unaffected as he moved on, “Mina, you tend to rely on a few of the same dance moves for each song. It seemed like, when you weren’t sure what to do, you’d always end up falling into one of three steps. Perhaps choreography for each song is needed, or if you prefer we can scrap some of the dancing altogether.”
Ashido shook her head and gave a winning smile, “That’s my brand, dude. Gotta dance! I’ll come up with some routines and stick to ‘em though.”
“Sero,” Shinsou continued, “you nearly tripped Denki twice. I understand what it’s like to have long legs, but try and be more aware of your bandmates. The stage for Summer Sonic will be plenty wide enough for you all to have space, but you’ll never see it if you end up with your first guitarist face-first on the stage.”
Hanta gave a sheepish grin, “Fair.”
“Finally, Bakugou,” Hitoshi couldn’t stop his smirk, “I don’t know if you realize but the mic occasionally picks up your colorful swearing when Mina dances back by your kit. Please refrain from mumbling ‘cockmunching dickferret’ while you’re in front of the audience.”
The rest of the band burst into laughter while Katsuki hissed, “Shut the fuck up, it’s not funny!” at them.
“It kinda is, sweetheart,” Kirishima dared to reply.
The term of endearment had Bakugou thrown for a moment, and instead of fighting back he jammed his hands in his pockets and muttered, “Fine. I’ll watch my fucking language.”
“Excellent, those are my main notes. Everything else is just a matter of refining what you’ve already been able to do. That will come with practice, which I am assigning to you. We only have two days till the battle, and I expect you to work your asses off until then.”
“Yes, sir!” Mina replied with a salute.
“I’m pretty sure it’s in bad taste to say that,” Sero drawled, “I think only Kami is allowed to call him Sir.”
“Dude!” Denki shoved his fellow guitarist, his face red.
Shinsou had yet to answer when there was a knock on the greenroom door. He turned to open it and found Shishikura standing there camcorder in hand.
“Have I interrupted, or do you have a moment to go over the footage?”
“Nah,” Mina laughed, “We’re just talking about Kaminari and Shinsou’s extensive BDSM relationship. Nothing personal. What’s up?”
“We’ve only kissed a few times!” Denki insisted, covering his face.
Sero shook his head, and had the nerve to add, “All that bondage and only a few kisses? I think you’re doing it wrong.”
Hitoshi was sure his face was pink, but he kept his expression blank, “You can send me the footage by e-mail. I’ll review it and give them any further notes. You should also update the fansite, advertise that they’ll be playing at the Summer Sonic battle of the bands.”
Seiji’s small eyes widened slightly, “They are? Nobody mentioned this to me.”
“It was kind of a last minute decision,” Kirishima stated.
“Ah, I must cancel some plans then,” Shishikura started to fiddle with his phone.
“Hot date?” Shinsou asked with a wry grin.
Seiji smiled coldly, “Something like that. I had intended to invite Kaminari to the Banda Bassoti concert.”
Hitoshi wrinkled his nose, “That’s not a band, that’s a gelato flavor.”
Denki snorted loudly, but had the decency to look slightly embarrassed afterward.
“I’ll have you know they are a very well-liked Italian punk band!” Shishikura insisted.
“Meh, they're more like punk and ska,” Sero corrected.
“You weren’t going to ask all of us to go?” Kirishima asked with a pout, clearly not understanding the man's underlying intent.
Shishikura cleared his throat, “The point is moot as you will all be busy. I shall endeavor to be at the battle with my finest equipment. I’m sure we’ll want to get your grand victory on film.”
That seemed to appease the redhead, as well as the rest of the band. Which meant Shinsou could now encourage the other purple-haired man to leave.
“Thank you for your support, I’ll take it from here.”
Seiji frowned neatly before adding, “I’ll update the fansite tonight and email you their set. If you prove to be as good a manager as you are a rapscallion then I expect to see them win.”
Mina turned to Denki mouthing “Rapscallion?” but the blonde just smiled at the two men fondly.
It made Shinsou wish, not for the first time, that he had an ex-lover he could use to garner jealousy from Kaminari. But that was a thought for a different day.
“Good night, Shishikura. See you at the battle,” Hitoshi deadpanned.
The other man left in a huff, and Shinsou found himself closing the door after yet another visitor. He idly considered taking tips at this point.
“Alright, you’ve got your assignments. Tomorrow you practice while I supervise. Any questions?”
Sero raised his hand and Shinsou nodded at him to continue. The second guitarist refused to speak until Hitoshi said, “Yes, Sero?”
“Can we get something to eat? I’m starving, man.”
Bakugou rolled his eyes but the growl from his stomach was audible. The group politely didn’t comment on it, as they had poked the bear enough tonight.
Before Shinsou could give them permission, he felt his phone buzzing in his pocket. He held up a single finger to signal he needed a moment, and blindly answered the phone with a quiet, “This is Shinsou, who am I speaking with?”
The dry voice that answered him was familiar, “What, you don’t have any time for your old man anymore? I knew those kids were bad influences.”
Hitoshi couldn’t stop himself from smiling, “Hello Mr. Aizawa. I’m currently meeting with The Sqwäd.”
“Mr. Aizawa?” Mina asked, “Like the guy who runs Logical Ruse?”
Denki grinned and said, “Yeah, it’s super funny, but he’s actually Hitoshi’s-”
Shinsou cut him off with, “Boss. He’s my boss. Now give me a moment so I can catch him up on how you’re doing.”
Kaminari shot him a confused look, but Hitoshi only winked in return. Which flustered the blonde immediately.
“Oh?” Aizawa hummed, “The gang’s all there? Do they know what kind of competition awaits them?”
“I don’t believe they fully understand, but I still think they’ll rise to the challenge,” Hitoshi said confidently.
“Not good enough,” Shouta replied, “Bring them by the house. I’ll fix them.”
Shinsou blanched, “You’re joking.”
His father’s sinister chuckle sounded from the phone, “What’s wrong? Not ready to have them meet the parents? They already saw Hizashi, I don’t see what the problem is.”
Hitoshi turned away from his band and whispered, “Because you’ll put the fear of god into them and I won’t have them psyched out before the show!”
“If they can’t handle me then they can’t handle Summer Sonic. Dinner wasn’t a suggestion, kid, it was an order. I’ll see you within the hour.”
The phone went dead, and Shinsou stared at his cell hoping his father would call back and tell him to take it easy.
No such luck.
“Well,” Hitoshi sighed after turning back to face the band, “You got your wish, Sero. We’re all going to dinner.”
“Cool beans,” Mina clapped her hands, “Where?”
“With my...with Mr. Aizawa.”
“Whoa, we can do that?” Kirishima asked.
“I’d say you were invited,” Shinsou started, “But it wasn’t an invite. It was a demand. On the bright side, dinner is going to be delicious.”
“I bet we’re going somewhere super fancy,” Sero started to pack up his guitar, “I don’t think we’re dressed for the occasion, but I’m hungry enough to eat three point one five horses.”
“Why three point one five?” Mina asked.
“Because I like pi,” Sero shrugged.
“Pie? I thought you just said you were gonna have horse!” Denki furrowed his brows.
Katsuki groaned, “It’s three point one four! Good fucking god, let’s just get out of here. I’m going to catch idiot if I keep breathing in their air.”
Shinsou patted Kaminari’s shoulder in a conciliatory gesture, “I’ll explain later.”
“As long as I don’t actually have to eat horse,” Mina grumbled.
The band was confused when, instead of finding themselves at a five-star restaurant, they entered a chic apartment building’s lobby. The doorman bowed upon seeing Shinsou and greeted him warmly, which had the musicians even more confused.
Hitoshi was pleased that Denki had agreed to keep it a secret. He wanted to see the looks on the band’s faces when they found out, and hoped it would be in front of his father for extra satisfaction.
They took the elevator up to the penthouse, and before they got out Mina and Denki slapped their hands down the buttons so it would stop at all the other floors after they’d left.
“You’re evil,” Sero laughed, “I wish I’d thought of it.”
“That’s why you’ve got us!” Ashido winked.
Shinsou stopped the group in front of an ornately carved door, “Okay, I should know better than to ask, but please at least try and behave yourselves. Don’t forget this is the man who controls whether or not you have a label.”
“We can try,” Bakugou comments, giving their manager a sore look, “Now cut the suspense and open the door. We’re hungry.”
If Hitoshi were a religious man he’d take this moment to cross himself, instead all he could do was pull out his key and unlock the door.
“We’re here!” He called out, ushering the musicians in.
“Hitoshi!” A shrill voice shouted from within the apartment. “Come inside!”
The manager led the way, after they’d all taken off their boots, down the hall to the dining room- where he was sure his papa was planning a feast. His pop loved to cook and had been known to invite company over for the sole purpose of making meals- much to the displeasure of his antisocial husband and son.
The apartment still managed to feel lived-in while remaining clean and elaborate in design. Various gold records were framed and hung up on the wall, advertising his family’s many awards. Shinsou had to slap Mina’s hand away from touching one as he guided them further inside.
When the group made their way into the dining room, they found a wide table littered with dishes and Hizashi standing there in a bright yellow apron with black cat pawprints on it.
“Whoa, Present Mic?!” Mina gasped, “What are you doing here?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Sero laughed.
Kirishima winced, “Oh man, Shinsou’s dad is having an affair with the head of Logical Ruse Records?! I’m not good at keeping secrets!”
“Having an affair?” Yamada echoed before laughing, “Oh boy. Come on out, Shouta. Our illicit relationship has been discovered.”
Shinsou met Denki’s eyes and saw the blonde was having trouble keeping the truth to himself. The guitarist had placed both of his hands over his mouth.
Languidly, Aizawa strolled into the dining room wearing a finely styled suit. One which Hitoshi knew he only brought out on the occasions he wanted to be particularly intimidating. He was really bringing his A-game.
“Are these the infamous troublemakers?” Shouta asked his son, his face blank of any emotion.
“Soon to be just famous when we win the contest for Summer Sonic,” Shinsou retorted, feeling protective of his charges in the sight of his father’s plans to test them.
He saw his dad’s mouth twitch the slightest bit in amusement, but was sure nobody else knew what to look for and would only see the man as continuously dour.
“You should know by now that getting cocky is dangerous-” Aizawa paused, since half the band had started giggling at the word ‘cocky’. He continued with gravitas, “Until they prove themselves to me they might as well not be a part of our label.”
That stopped the giggling in its tracks, and Hitoshi saw the musicians stand up a little straighter. Bakugou forewent trying to make a good impression and decided on saying, “Hey, asshole, you were the one who put us on your shitty label!”
The rest of the band flinched, waiting for Aizawa to respond. The record label owner merely sat down at the head of the table and folded a cloth napkin over his lap. He started to put food on his plate, while he answered, “I’d make you wash your mouth out with soap but then dinner would taste odd. Sit down, kids." He finally looked up and gave them his signature unnerving grin, "We’ve got all night.”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Quintessentila!
If you aren't reading her amazing ShinKami fic "House Calls" then I don't know what you're doing with your life.
I love you Quint! Thank you for being my friend and a wonderful source of support <3. I can't wait to work on the ShinKami zine with you!
PS. Shout out to every other musician who has made the G-String joke to the supreme disappointment of their teachers.
Shinsou noticed a slight shiver pass through the musicians anxiously waiting behind him.
Aizawa raised one unimpressed eyebrow before drawling, “Well? Have you only evolved to the point of hunching or can you figure out how to sit down at a table?”
Only Hitoshi noticed his papa rolling his eyes fondly at his father’s posturing. Shinsou sighed before pulling out a chair and sitting down, and then gesturing for his friends to do the same. The others arranged themselves at the table, Kaminari on his right, then Mina, Sero, Kirishima, and Bakugou. Which meant the explosive drummer was sitting confidently next to Aizawa and giving him a rebellious look. Hitoshi considered rearranging their seating when Hizashi finished placing food on the table.
“Alright kiddos,” Present Mic announced, “tonight’s menu is primarily pasta dishes since that’s Hitoshi’s favorite.” Hizashi took a moment to send a loving look at Shinsou who prayed silently for the earth to swallow him up. “Feel free to take whatever you like and have as many servings as you wish! I haven’t gotten to cook for this many in a while and I might have gotten carried away.”
“Might have?” Sero whispered, impressed and intimidated by the variety.
“You should see him on holidays,” Shinsou sighed. “He stuffs Eri and I to the gills.”
Bakugou cleared his throat rudely before interrupting, “Are we going to pretend it’s not weird that your fucking boss treats you like family, or are you gonna spit it out already?”
Shouta gave him a blank look, “How do you know I don’t just treat my employees well?”
Kirishima smiled, “No offense, sir, but you don’t seem like the type to invite people over if they aren’t important to you.”
Hizashi burst out laughing, unable to keep himself from hiding it anymore, “Didn’t Hitoshi tell you? We’re his parents!”
“Oh snap!” Mina shouted, she turned to Shinsou and asked, “Your boss is fucking your dad?”
“My ‘boss’ is my father and he's married to my papa.” Hitoshi clarified, “I don’t know why you’re all so desperate for him to be having an affair.”
Mina shrugged, "I live for drama."
Aizawa hid a smirk in a sip of water, "Eri's review of you five was painfully accurate."
"Dude, we've only been here for like...four minutes," Sero argued.
"It wouldn't have taken me very long to reach the same conclusion myself. Besides, I've also been watching your highly questionable social media updates and have been receiving frequent reports from my son. I make it my business to keep a close eye on our newer bands.”
“It doesn’t help that he’s overprotective of our baby,” Hizashi laughed, affectionately grabbing his husband’s shoulder.
Kaminari audibly swallowed in nervousness, as he was no doubt realizing just what it meant to date the son of an overprotective sadist, and Shinsou reached out under the table to hold Denki’s hand. He squeezed it once and Kaminari squeezed back, shooting him a grateful and loving smile.
Instead of refuting Present Mic’s claims, Shouta merely ordered, “Start eating or I’ll find someone else to treat with dinner.”
The band each took servings of pasta and put them on their fancy plates. It was a messy scene and Shinsou could tell they felt out of place in a nice home eating off of expensive china dishes. When he recalled their usual fare of pizza and cup noodles, he wasn’t surprised to see them unsure of how to approach it. With one notable exception being Bakugou who merely looked annoyed at being told what to do.
“So,” Kaminari started, “How’d you two meet?”
Sero groaned at the awkward question but kept his mouth shut.
“If you last more than a week dating my son I’ll consider telling you,” Aizawa answered, not even looking up from his food.
“Boof,” Denki whispered, squeezing his boyfriend’s hand.
Shinsou hissed at his father, “Can you stop?”
“Would you rather I talk about you, Hitoshi? I’m sure your friends would love it if I could find some photos of you in diapers.”
Hitoshi grimaced, “Nevermind. Go back to abusing them.”
“Gee, thanks,” Bakugou spat.
Hizashi smiled beatifically at the table, unperturbed by the general feeling of unease, “How about we make this dinner easy? We all eat my very delicious food, and then you five can tell me what it is you need to be better at for the competition, and my husband and I will help. Sound good?”
Shinsou had never been so thankful that his father had married his papa.
“I was getting to that,” Aizawa mumbled under his breath.
“You know,” Denki said between bites, “All this violent tension aside? This pasta is sick. You should give Bakugou the recipe cause I’m gonna want, like, four bowls of this. Every week. For the rest of my life.”
Katsuki gestured angrily with his chopsticks, “I’m not cooking you shit, Sparky. Make it yourself. It’s simple.”
“You’d make it if Kiri asked you to,” Mina argued.
“Yeah, I’ll make my fiance food, but I’m sure as hell not marrying Drooly anytime soon. He can make his own damn meals or have Rob Zombie over here cook it,” Bakugou replied, gesturing to Shinsou towards the end.
“Congrats on your engagement,” Hizashi crowed. “When is the big day?”
“We haven’t decided yet,” Kirishima confessed, “but I’m hoping pretty soon!”
Aizawa smirked knowingly before asking, “How long were you dating before you proposed? Must have been quite some time since you’re so confident about it.”
Shinsou knows that he told his father about their impromptu engagement and lack of dating prior, so his father’s joy at making them squirm is obvious.
Kirishima, however, can only assume it is a genuine question and answered with a nervous, “Uh, not long.”
“We didn’t date,” Bakugou corrected. “Why do all that dating shit if you aren’t going to make good on it at the end?”
“We’ve known each other for ages, though!” Eijirou adds, somewhat defensively.
Sero nods, “Those two go way back. They’ve basically been married for years anyway. Sometimes our band just feels like a huge third-wheeling date.”
Aizawa hummed thoughtfully before adding, “I imagine it felt less like that when your precious Band Daddy was working with you.”
Mina and Kaminari burst out laughing, unprepared for how ridiculous the words “Band Daddy” would sound coming out of the man’s mouth.
“They told you about that?” Hanta said with a grimace. “It was strictly professional, though. I swear!”
Hizashi tutted at him playfully, “Our son is currently dating his guitarist, we aren’t in a position to judge you for flirting with your ex-manager. If anything you have my blessing, he might not have been able to handle all five of you but I think just one would do nicely.”
Kaminari snorted, “I’m sure Sero would do him nicely, sir. My bro is nothing if not a gentleman.”
Mina half-choked on a piece of linguini before elbowing Denki with a laugh.
“Or the other way around,” Sero shrugged, “I’m not picky.”
Shinsou watched as Aizawa took out his phone and briefly typed on it before putting it away. He couldn’t help but wonder if he’d sent a message to Iida, and what it’s contents might have been.
“It’s good to see you all feel comfortable. Don’t let my husband scare you too badly,” Hizashi said, “If he keeps it up I’ll start telling stories of his early managerial failures.”
“They weren’t failures,” Aizawa insisted, “they were learning opportunities.”
Hitoshi scoffed, “What would they be called if someone else made the same mistakes?”
“Failures, obviously,” Shouta answered.
Shinsou laughed, “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”
They ate peacefully for a few moments before Kirishima made a query.
“Mr. Present Mic? Can I ask a question?” Eijirou fiddled with his fork.
“Please, just call me Hizashi. You’re my baby’s closest friends, and I have a feeling I’ll be seeing you around plenty.”
Eijirou nodded firmly, “Okay, so Mr. Hizashi? Can I ask a question?”
It looked as though Aizawa was going to correct him when Yamada cut him off and answered, “Absolutely! What is it?”
“On stage, I’ve seen you do this thing with the microphone stand and cord. It looked super cool and I was kinda hoping you could teach it to Mina?”
Ashido lifted her hands excitedly, “Oh man! That’d be awesome! I saw you do it live once. The way you hook it with your foot and then swing it out over the audience before catching it? Iconic.”
Hizashi grinned, “Ah yes, the 360 Mic Drop! My signature move. Tell you what, if you five all finish your vegetables I’ll teach you. Don’t think I can’t see you hiding them under your pasta. Hitoshi used to do the same thing. You can’t fool a parent!”
Kirishima blushed before shoving a piece of zucchini into his mouth and chewing voraciously.
Shinsou watched with slight embarrassment as the musicians started to scarf down their food faster.
Aizawa sighed, “Chew slowly. If you choke I’m not calling an ambulance.”
Hizashi stage whispered, “If it’s any consolation, I would call an ambulance.”
Mina, Denki, and Kirishima snickered- all of them looking far more relaxed than when they first got here.
Shinsou knew his father had a flair for the dramatic, and maybe he’d inherited it to some extent, but he was worried that his new friends would hold it against him. He should have known that, considering how odd the group of musicians were, they’d see past his dad’s surly posturing and realize he doesn’t actually want any of them dead.
Of course, his father had to immediately combat this by interrupting their laughter to say, “Kaminari, what are your intentions with my son?”
“Dad,” Hitoshi growled, but Denki squeezed their hands under the table to stop him.
“Nah, it’s cool,” the guitarist soothed, “I totally get it. I’d want to shake down whoever dated my kid. All I can say is that I really like him. Like, a lot a lot. I know I look kind of flighty and maybe sometimes I am, but my intentions with your son are nothing but honest. If anything I’m expecting he’s the one who will change his mind. I know he deserves better than me, but I’m going to work really hard to deserve him too! Right now? I just want to make him happy and proud of me, you know?”
Shinsou couldn’t stop himself from blushing, and squeezed his hand to convey his thanks, whispering, “I like you a lot a lot too.”
“I’m inclined to believe you, kid,” Aizawa said as he stroked his chin, staring at Kaminari all the while. “Of course, it also goes without saying that they’ll be picking pieces of your corpse out of several trash cans if you hurt him.”
Denki grinned nervously, “Yes, sir, I am very aware of that.”
Bakugou scowled and added, “If something happens to my guitarist, your son’s body is going to have a very personal meeting with the bottom of a river. So let’s just agree that neither of them gets hurt.”
Aizawa smiled his disarming grin and reached his hand across the table to shake Katsuki’s. They shared a dangerous smile.
Shinsou couldn’t help but feel like he was watching two parents threaten each other, and in a way he supposed he was.
Once the band had dutifully eaten all of their vegetables, and no small amount of pasta as well, Hizashi stood up and untied his apron. “Alright, let me grab my equipment and you can have a close-up demonstration of the 360 Mic Drop!”
Mina and Kirishima shot up from the table excitedly, while the other three were more focused on digesting.
Hizashi left and returned with a microphone stand, a wired microphone, and was wearing the leather jacket he always has on for stage shows.
“It helps me get into character,” Present Mic said, winking at them. “Now, are you ready to rock?”
The musicians cheer and then Hizashi is artfully twisting the microphone around his body, and occasionally it’s cord would also wrap around the stand. Like a Houdini trick, the singer hooked his foot around the microphone stand and spun quickly in the opposite direction. The stand fell forward and then circled him wildly as it unspun all around him. He finished by striking a pose and shouting “YEAH!”
The Sqwäd clapped their hands and whooped at his performance. Mina ran over and tried to imitate it herself under Hizashi’s guidance.
Shinsou was then distracted by his father tapping his shoulder saying, “I’d like to borrow you for a moment.”
Hitoshi stood up and walked with his dad to the kitchen. His father waited until they were out of sight from the others before pulling his kid into a hug. Shinsou let himself be held, knowing his dad struggled with physical affection as much as Hitoshi did.
“You’re doing well,” Aizawa droned. “The kids aren’t too awful either.”
“Only a little awful.” Shinsou clarified.
He felt his father’s head nod, “Exactly. Only a little.”
Aizawa pulled back and crossed his arms, returning to his sterner look in time to say, “You better not lose that competition.”
“I won’t,” Shinsou insisted, before correcting himself, “We won’t.”
“There’s more riding on this than you realize,” his father sighed, “I did some research on the other bands that are playing. You’ve got some big names to defeat. On top of that, an old rival of mine is managing one of them. He’s an ugly piece of work but he’s had a lot of dumb luck. Manipulated the industry for years, and he’ll do it again. His name is Colby and he’s a rat-faced little bastard. You’ll know him when you see him. If you can’t win the battle, at least do better than that asshole.”
Hitoshi was surprised at the level of vitriol in his father’s voice, and asked, “Did he beat one of your bands or something?”
Aizawa rubbed the back of his neck in irritation- a nervous habit Shinsou had learned from him- and said, “Remember that musician I told you about? The one who wouldn’t stop flirting with your papa?”
“The one whose punishment you said the law couldn’t prove anything about?”
“That’s the one,” Shouta scowled.
Hitoshi chuckled, enjoying his father’s pettiness. “We’ll do our best. I promise. If we don’t take home the title we’ll at least get back at that prick for you.”
“You’re a good kid,” Aizawa smiled one of his soft rare smiles. “Despite my parenting.”
Shinsou snorted, feeling sappy, “Yeah yeah. Now let’s go back and you can keep terrorizing my friends. I have a feeling Bakugou is going to be angrily texting me about you for a week.”
“Forward them to me,” his dad replied, “I’m thinking of wallpapering the office with complaints that have been made against me. Really let spite power my work.”
Aizawa ruffled his son’s hair and then he was walking back into the dining room like nothing had happened.
When Shinsou returned, Mina was tangled in the microphone cord and the rest of the band was laughing at her. She tried to spin like Hizashi showed her but ended up tipping over heavily to one side and was caught at the last second by Kirishima.
Hitoshi made sure to take a subtle photo of Ashido tied up in cable. He would be bribing Uraraka with it in the future.
Kaminari saw him come back and skipped over to be by Shinsou’s side, sliding an arm around his waist and cooing, “Hey, Coffeebean! Did you and the big bad wolf have a good talk?”
Hitoshi snorted at his father’s new nickname, he’d have to tell him that one. “Yeah, it turns out my dad has an old enemy that’s managing one of the battling bands. We can’t afford to lose.”
“Good thing we aren’t going to,” Denki laughed. “Worst case scenario we don’t get the spot but I short circuit that band’s equipment.”
Shinsou lifted a hand to cup Kaminari’s face and kissed him soundly.
Regardless of the outcome, it was clear this battle would be a hell of a show to watch.
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout out goes to Noon!
Noon is an AMAZING writer, who you probably already know if you read any ShinKami threads on Twitter. If angst is your jam, then she's your girl. Trust me. I'd write this dedication to her, but she doesn't read any of my long fics so I'll just let her know it happened. Love you, sister-wife!
“Look! Look! I kinda did it!” Mina cried, while trapped in cords and most assuredly not posed in the suave way Present Mic would manage.
“I think you need a bit more practice, but it should come given time,” Hizashi helped untangle Mina from the microphone wires, chuckling as he unspun her.
“A lot of time,” Bakugou grunted, “If you try that shit at the show and fall over I’m quitting the band.”
Ashido stuck her tongue out at him and finally stepped out of the last of the cords, “I’ll have it perfected in no time! I’m just gonna need someone to spot me till I can get it right.”
“How about Uraraka?” Sero said, grinning widely.
The pink of Mina’s cheeks grew darker as she squawked in response.
“Isn’t that the girl from Plus Ultra?” Aizawa asked, “the one who wears the pantsuits?”
“The very same,” Shinsou answered. “One of her bands are playing the battle, and she came to our show last night to scope out the competition.”
“She was scoping all right, but I don’t think she was feeling competitive,” Denki said while elbowing Mina.
Sero reached one long arm over to bump fists with Kaminari while Kirishima kindly tried to hide his laughter in a cough.
Hizashi clapped his hands to get their attention, asking “Alright, who wants dessert? I can put some coffee and tea on the boil as well.”
“I do, I do!” Mina shouted, happy to have the subject change and also to get something sweet.
Present Mic ushered them back to the table and went into the kitchen to grab dessert. When he returned the band was eagerly awaiting caffeine and sugar.
Hizashi brought out a container of sorbet and a collection of elegantly stemmed glasses to put it in. He scooped out neat spoonfuls into each cup and handed them out to each member of the table. The group dug in happily, and messily, with the exception of Shinsou, Aizawa, and Bakugou who chose instead to wait for coffee.
“Hey look,” Kaminari said, pointing to his sorbet, “It’s Banda Bassoti!”
Hitoshi snorted, remembering the band he’d referred to as a gelato flavor when Shishikura had implied he would take Denki on a date to see them.
“Are you an idiot? Gelato and sorbet aren’t even the same things,” Bakugou growled, “Gelato is made with milk or cream.”
“Please excuse him,” Sero sighed, “He’s fighting his inner Gordon Ramsay at every given moment.”
Shinsou spied the corner of Aizawa’s mouth twitch in amusement and felt proud that his band had learned how to make his stoic father smile. If anyone had the ability to be ridiculous to the point of appreciation it was The Sqwäd.
“Which band is it that we’re sabotaging?” Bakugou asked casually.
“Pardon?” Hizashi said, looking perplexed.
Katsuki gestured rudely towards Shinsou and Kaminari, “While they were sucking face I overheard them mention some beef you guys have with one of the other band’s managers. So who are we slaughtering?”
“On stage,” Kirishima clarified, gently resting a hand on his fiance’s shoulder.
“Slaughtering metaphorically,” Bakugou reluctantly corrected.
Shinsou butt in, “I wasn’t told the band either, I only know that the manager’s name is Colby.”
“I believe the band he’s representing is called Got-2-B-Winners,” Aizawa said, subtly looking at his husband to see if he’d put the pieces together.
“No way! What are the odds,” Kaminari mumbled.
Shinsou nodded, equally surprised, “I’m afraid we’re already acquainted with them.”
“Yeah, my good bro Tetsutetsu is their bassist!” Kirishima frowned.
"Tetsutetsu plays bass too?” Hitoshi asked, amused at their further similarities.
Denki pouted, "Whoa, you're on a first-name basis with him already? Should I be worried?"
Shinsou couldn't stop himself from snorting, "You're such a brat."
“Darling,” Hizashi turned to Aizawa and spoke in a disappointed tone, “are you still sour about that? You got your revenge, let it go.”
Shouta backpedaled, “It’s not about me. He’s simply an opposing manager in the competition. Nothing more.”
Hitoshi chuckled, “I don’t believe that for a second.”
Shinsou knew his father was like him in this regard, and he was petty to a fault when it came to his loved ones. Shishikura came to mind as someone he’d consider a rival regardless of the past.
“Ohhh,” Kaminari hummed. “Spite runs in the family, huh?”
Yamada laughed, almost knocking over his sorbet, “You have no idea, little listener!”
“I think I’m starting to get one,” Denki replied, grinning lopsidedly.
“I’m not as bad as dad is,” Shinsou insisted.
Hizashi stood up, “I’ll get the coffee. If I stay here for this conversation I’ll end up telling you all about how Shouta greased Colby’s guitar pegs so he was out of tune during an important concert.”
“Hizashi!” Aizawa hissed.
“Oopsie!” Yamada laughed, excusing himself to the kitchen to grab their drinks.
“Like father like son,” Sero whispered sagely.
Hizashi returned not much later with an arm full of coffee mugs and a pot of steaming dark roast.
“Isn’t it a little late for coffee?” Kirishima asked.
Shinsou and Aizawa had the same unimpressed look on their faces when they chorused, “No.”
Bakugou nodded in silent agreement before assisting Hizashi with the table. The drummer might have been an asshole but his guest manners weren’t half bad.
Aizawa was handed his “World’s Okayest Dad” mug, part of a matching set to Shinsou’s “World’s Okayest Brother” and Yamada’s “World’s Okayest Papa” that Eri had bought them, and sipped his steaming coffee without blinking.
Shinsou pulled out his cell phone and pulled up his most recent concert notes, “I went over the points I think are most glaring, but do you have anything you two would add?” He passed his parents his phone and they scrolled through the list thoughtfully.
Hizashi hummed to himself before replying, “I saw them open for Haughty Bottoms and, while it was clear they needed better management, they performed very well. My only advice would be to engage with the audience more. Let them into your world! Invite them to join you in it and the response will be noticeable immediately.”
Aizawa nodded along to his husband’s direction, adding, “The only risks you should take are calculated ones. The battle for Summer Sonic isn’t an open-mic. Treat it like the challenge it is and push yourselves, but do it wisely.”
“Okie-dokie!” Mina cried, lifting a thumbs up. “Take risks but don’t take risks. Got it.”
Shouta’s brow furrowed, “I don’t think you understand what I mean.”
“Do dangerous stupid things but in a smart way, right?” Sero clarified.
“Okay, you definitely don’t understand wh-”
Kirishima cut him off to add, “Do really manly things but be careful!”
“That’s...closer,” Aizawa acquiesced.
Bakugou threw an arm around his fiance’s shoulder, correcting him, “Kick ass and take names.”
Shinsou shook his head, “That’s as good as it’s gonna get, dad. Leave them to me.”
Hizashi smiled proudly at his son, and elbowed his husband so he could share in his appreciation.
Shinsou would have felt proud of himself but he was too busy eyeing how Kaminari was licking the sorbet off his spoon. His boyfriend was a dangerous distraction.
He tried to focus instead on their battle plan. They only had a short while before the battle was due to start, and he had done very little research on his opponents. Hitoshi had been much more focused on refining the band’s faults than defining the opposition’s. That and his budding romance had kept him more than busy. He reached out to rest his hand on Denki’s back, letting his thumb gently rub along the curve of the man’s spine. It was beyond wild to think that he’d had such a drastic change in life circumstances since being assigned to The Sqwäd. He felt he owed it to them to lead the band to the top. They’d given him friends, a lover, and a whole new family. They deserved his best in return.
In-between spoonfuls of sorbet, the band bonded further with Shinsou’s parents, discussing what music helped inspire them- where Present Mic was pleasantly surprised to find out he was in that list- and what brought them together as a band in the first place.
Sero couldn’t help but laugh when recalling, “Bakugou said I couldn’t be in the band unless I made my hair less nerdy. I called him a pussy and told him to cut my hair himself. Two nights later he showed up to my house with scissors and a few youtube tutorials on mohawks that we looked through together. I haven’t gone back since.”
“He cuts most of our hair,” Kirishima admitted,
HIzashi smiled warmly and asked, “Is there anything you can’t do?”
“Hold a conversation for longer than a minute without cursing,” Shinsou answered, not missing a beat.
“Wear shoes when he plays drums,” Mina added.
“And say things like please and thank you to his friends,” Sero laughed.
Bakugou sneered, “What friends?”
Eijirou smiled fondly at him, before placing his hand on top of Bakugou’s where it rested on the table.
“I wasn’t talking about you, Shitty Hair,” Katsuki mumbled.
“I know!” Kirishima replied, “I just wanted to hold your hand.”
Mina and Sero looked at each other before proceeding to make vomiting noises, and then narrowly dodged a kick Bakugou aimed their way.
Hizashi refocused the group and had them assist him in bringing plates into the kitchen. Kaminari offered to help load the dishwasher while Bakugou tried to weasel out a recipe from Yamada.
Eventually, the table was cleared and it was almost midnight.
“Time for us shambling geezers to go to bed,” Hizashi chuckled, squeezing his husband’s arm playfully. “But please, do come back for dinner again! I miss having such a full house to cook for.”
The Sqwäd chorused their thank yous and farewells, each of them leaving the house with a little bag of leftovers Yamada had lovingly packed. When they were all on their way out to leave, Hizashi pulled Shinsou aside for a moment. The rest of the band waited for him outside the door.
“I’ll let you get back to your friends in a minute, I just wanted a moment with you.” Yamada fixed his son’s hair, taming the mess as he spoke. “It’s been such a gift to see you acting like a kid again, and with such sweet friends! They might not all be the smartest but they’ve got plenty of heart. If they are making my baby happy then they are family, so don’t be afraid to bring them by again. Especially Kaminari. Did you know he speaks English? We spent some time chatting while you were talking with your father. He’s a sweet boy. Head over heels for you, but of course he is. You take after your parents, after all.”
Shinsou rolled his eyes, terribly fond of his papa but embarrassed all the same, “Yeah, we’re all such heartbreakers.”
“And don’t you forget it,” Hizashi replied, ignoring his son’s sarcasm. “Now, be a good kid and bring Logical Ruse to Summer Sonic, you hear?” With that, Yamada leaned forward and pressed a kiss onto Shinsou’s broad forehead and shooed him out the door.
Hitoshi had hoped the band wasn’t paying attention but he found, to his horror, that they were all watching him intently and laughing.
“Come here, my baby!” Mina imitated, making kissy sounds with her mouth.
Sero threw his head back and laughed, “Oh, to be a prodigal son in a nice family.”
“My good boy!” Kaminari giggled, arms outreached and hands grabbing for him.
Shinsou groaned at their antics but met Denki for the hug the man was begging for. The guitarist threw his arms around his boyfriend and squeezed him way too tightly.
“If one of my ribs punctures my lungs I’m not going to be a lot of help at the competition,” Shinsou grunted between squeezes.
“You’re dead weight when we’re on stage anyway,” Bakugou shrugged.
Kaminari glared at him, whining “Kacchan’s just annoyed he couldn’t get a recipe out of your papa.”
Bakugou flipped him off, “Whatever, Drooly. He invited us back, I’ll just figure it out myself.”
“You think he’d consider DJ-ing and catering our wedding? It’s just gonna be a small one anyway…” Kirishima wondered aloud.
“I’m sure he’d be honored,” Shinsou assured him, finally released from the arms of his boyfriend. “Now let’s all head home, getting poor sleep is no excuse for playing anything less than excellently at practice tomorrow.”
“Can we do another sleepover?” Kaminari asked, hooking arms with Hitoshi.
“Be honest, Denks. You just wanna sleep with Shinsou,” Mina cooed, wiggling her eyebrows.
Sero opened his cell and suddenly stopped short, causing the rest of the band to notice his red face.
“Is everything okay, bro?” Kirishima asked.
“Uh, yeah. It’s chill, but I’m not gonna be able to make it to the sleepover.”
Kaminari cocked his head, “Why not?”
Hanta’s face lit up in a triumphant smirk, “Because Band Daddy wants some company tomorrow and I don’t want to be tired from being kept up by Bakugou’s snoring.”
“Oh shit, is it a date?!” Mina cried, shaking Sero in her excitement.
“I don’t fucking snore!” Katsuki interrupted but was ignored in favor of Sero’s news.
Hanta looked conflicted, “Date might be an ambitious word for it. He technically said he wanted to address what his ‘failures as a manager’ were, but whether or not that man likes it I’m buying him coffee and turning up the charm.”
Shinsou bit his lip in thought. He didn’t want to get in the way of Sero finally landing a sort-of-date with the guy he’s interested in, but he also knew the importance of practice. They had to play a show soon and they’d need all the rehearsal they could get. But Sero looked so happy talking about his plans that Hitoshi didn’t have the heart to tell him a complete no. Denki must have been able to figure it out from his face because he mouthed the word, “please” while pointing to his fellow guitarist.
The manager sighed, “Tell Iida you can see him for one hour tomorrow, no more than that. We have to practice and I shouldn’t be giving you any time with him but I also realize it’s important to morale that you get to see him. He can swing by the garage at noon and you two can go out for lunch together, the rest of us will order take-out and continue to work. Does that sound fair?”
Sero appeared happily surprised, “Uh, yeah. That’ll work.”
“One final thing,” Shinsou added, face serious, “Iida could definitely use a little more fun in his life and you could use a bit more structure. I’m trusting you to charm him adequately so that you two go out again. Think you can manage that?”
Hanta nodded firmly, looking more determined than he’d seen him in a while, “I won’t let you down, dude.”
Kaminari tugged on Hitoshi’s arm, drawing his attention, and then stood on his tip-toes to press a grateful kiss to his boyfriend’s cheek. He heard the guitarist whisper, “thank you” before the shorter man was back to leading them towards Shinsou’s home.
Seeing the smile on his bandmate’s faces made him feel like he was finally becoming the manager they deserved, and soon he’d have the chance to prove it once and for all.
Tonight's ShinKami Fam Shout-out goes to... The entire ZappyCat Zine team!
I've only had you all for two days but I already adore each of you and the wonderful ideas you're bringing to the zine. Thank you all for sharing your amazing talents with the world, and for being so ridiculously funny. This chapter is late because I couldn't tear myself away from our chat.
PS. Are people still interested in a SerIida one-shot related to this fic?
P.P.S. Are people still interested in a NSFW one-shot related to this fic?
P.P.P.S. Only a few more chapters left! I miss you already.
When The Sqwäd gets to the street they head their separate ways. Katsuki and Eijirou head back to the Bakugou household, Mina and Sero want to crash in their own beds, and Shinsou and Kaminari head to Hitoshi’s apartment.
Denki was talking a mile a minute, as usual, but Shinsou couldn’t focus on it. His mind was too occupied by the upcoming battle. He knew, rationally, that there weren’t any impending punishments for losing the competition. But that would also mean disappointing his new friends and family. They were counting on him to help guide their incredibly chaotic ship. He didn’t want to let any of them down.
On top of that, this was also his first real solo management gig. He didn’t want to let himself down either. He’d fought too hard and too long to turn back now, and he wasn’t ready to fail. He knew The Sqwäd and his parents wouldn’t hold it against him, but he wanted to make them proud.
“You know,” Kaminari snarked, jabbing his boyfriend in the side with a finger, “Despite popular belief, I can tell when people aren’t listening to me. What’s up, coffee bean?”
Shinsou grimaced, looking apologetic as he replied, “Sorry. I can’t stop thinking about the competition. There’s a lot riding on this.”
Denki hummed to himself thoughtfully, “I dunno, is there?”
Hitoshi’s brow remained deeply furrowed, so the guitarist continued.
“Let’s play my favorite game!” Kaminari slipped his hand into Shinsou’s. “It’s called Worst Case Scenario.”
“That sounds like a great way to make me think about all the bad possibilities,” Hitoshi argued.
Denki shook his head, “You haven’t heard me out! It’s not about thinking realistically. In order to win, you have to think of the literal worst-case scenario. But like, I mean worst. So, for example, I could say...we play the concert and halfway through Bakugou’s quirk goes off so he bursts into fire and dies right on stage!”
“Which, in turn,” Shinsou added, playing along, “makes Kirishima so upset that he kills himself by hitting you so hard that you shock him to death."
Kaminari grinned, "but then I go dizzy and hit Mina too who covers Sero in acid!"
Shinsou continued, "and when he runs off stage screaming, he slams into me and we all go down in history as the band that died out of sheer stupidity.”
“You’re a natural!” Kaminari laughed. “Okay, new one. Ummm...We get to the concert and they’ve decided to make us go first, but nothing is set up so the audience watches us slowly and awkwardly put our stuff together.”
“Which is so boring to them that they start chanting for our murder,” Hitoshi suggested.
“And the crowd gets so into it that they form an angry mob and chase us out of Japan! Then we have to move to France and get eaten by a roving tiger pack!”
Shinsou snorted, squeezing his boyfriend’s hand, “I don’t think they have tigers in France.”
Kaminari shrugged, unbothered, “I guess they can break out of a zoo? Maybe we die in a cheese-related incident?”
The manager pulled his partner closer to him, electing to wrap an arm around his shoulder instead of just holding hands. “We get to France after our exile and decide we have to become art thieves in order to survive, but when we’re escaping the Louvre we hit a cheese cart and are crushed under its weight which also destroys the Mona Lisa we were carrying. We are known thereafter as the band that was so boring we were chased out of Japan and also as the people responsible for destroying a staple of classical art.”
Denki nuzzled his face into his boyfriend’s chest, giggling to himself, “So, with that in mind, how bad is it gonna be if we happen to not place first in the battle of the bands?”
Shinsou realized he’d entirely forgotten his anxieties and spiraling while they’d been chatting. “Not so bad, I guess.”
“Exactly!” Kaminari shouted, startling a passerby, “It wouldn’t be fun, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and if any of those bizarre situations really did happen I doubt people would even think about whether or not we won the contest. They’d be too busy cursing our name for upsetting Leonardo da Vinci.”
“I’m pretty confident he wouldn’t be upset,” Shinsou laughed into his boyfriend’s hair. “I don’t know how emotional bones can get.”
“He’d be spinning in his grave like a dreidel, dude.” Denki assured him.
Hitoshi kissed the top of Kaminari’s head, “Thank you, Kitten. I’m feeling a lot better now.”
Denki winked up at him, smiling, “Anytime, coffee bean.”
The two men found themselves back at Shinsou’s apartment. Mouse, seeing there was only one of the new loud people in her father's life around, ran out from the bedroom to wrap herself affectionately around Hitoshi’s ankles.
Kaminari dropped to the floor and started to pet her, cooing at how fluffy she was. Mouse looked vaguely offended at first but warmed up to him once she saw how at ease Shinsou was.
“She’s so soft! I want to marry your cat, dude,” Denki cried, running his fingers through the fur behind her ears and under her chin.
“I don’t think you can afford her dowry,” Hitoshi replied, taking off his coat and getting settled. “I wouldn’t want my daughter to marry a musician.”
Kaminari wore an offended expression as he gasped dramatically, but Shinsou could see him fighting a smile.
“So your baby is too good for a musician but you can date one?” Denki asked.
“Mouse didn’t kill you in the night when you slept over, so I can only assume she’s given her blessing. Plus, she seems to be a fan of how you pet her, the fluffy harlot.”
The tawny cat meowed loudly, pawing at Kaminari to continue petting since he’d stopped while talking. The guitarist went back to stroking her fur and she relaxed.
Shinsou shook his head at her and pulled on Denki’s arm for him to stand up. The other man followed, reluctantly, taking off his coat and hanging it up next to Hitoshi’s.
Both men were clearly exhausted, and Shinsou felt the need for sleep begin to overpower his desire to spend time awake with Kaminari.
Hitoshi yawned, politely covering his mouth as he did, “I’m sleeping on a real bed tonight, you’re welcome to join me but if you’d rather take the couch that’s fine.”
“It might have been on the floor, but we’ve kinda already shared a bed together. I’ll hop on any chance to cuddle with you, babe.” Denki said, getting on his tiptoes to press a kiss to his boyfriend’s cheek. “I’m gonna want to borrow some clothes though. Mine are dirty from all the nervous sweating I did when your dad stared at me.”
Shinsou snorted and crossed over to his dresser. He pulled out an old band shirt he’d gotten when he was touring with his papa, as well as a pair of soft flannel pajama pants. He handed them to Kaminari and spun him around to face the bathroom so he could change.
The guitarist saluted from behind the pile of clothes and ran off.
Shinsou took the opportunity to undress and put on a soft plain black shirt and some sweatpants. Mouse yelled at him from the bed, ready to sleep.
Denki came back not long after, newly changed and whistling to himself.
“You’re in a good mood,” Hitoshi noticed.
“Duh,” Kaminari argued, “I’m about to cuddle all night with my awesome boyfriend. Why wouldn’t I be in a good mood?”
Shinsou felt himself blush and turned to face the bed instead of letting Denki see how it affected him. “You’re too much.”
“I think I’m just enough!” Denki said, leaping past him to flop onto the bed. Mouse screeched and flew from the mattress, which made Kaminari shoot upright and apologize, “No, baby come back! You can blame it all on me!”
“She should. It was your fault,” Shinsou chuckled, getting under the covers while his boyfriend looked at Mouse longingly. “She’ll come back up in a minute. Turn the light off and come to bed.”
Denki padded over to the light switch and flipped it, leaving the room nice and dark. Shinsou felt the man wiggle into bed with him after navigating his way back. Shinsou reached out and wrapped his arms around the shorter man, hugging him to his chest and sighing into blonde hair.
A soft thump was heard, and Hitoshi felt Mouse’s light weight land on the bed beside him. She walked up and around, laying down and curling up by Kaminari and Shinsou’s heads.
“Good night, Kitten,” Hitoshi mumbled.
“Which one?” Denki asked, rubbing his face against his boyfriend’s chest.
“Shut up,” Shinsou answered, kissing the man’s forehead before letting sleep take him.
Waking up was always going to be an unpleasant experience to Hitoshi, but having a soft warm body entangled with yours made it a lot nicer.
Shinsou cuddled Kaminari a little closer, and heard the man squeak at being sleepily crushed.
“S’ry,” Hitoshi grunted, unapologetic.
Denki made a muffled noise in return, but Shinsou was already falling back asleep.
The next time he woke up he checked the time and found they would be late meeting up with The Sqwäd if they didn’t hurry.
“Fuck,” Shinsou sighed. He looked down at Kaminari to find the man drooling on his arm but very much asleep. He hated to wake him up but it wouldn’t look very good for him to demand they all meet for practice and then stroll in late.
“Kitten,” Hitoshi groaned. “Wake up. We have to be at Bakugou’s in thirty minutes.”
“I don’t wanna,” Denki whined, burying his face in Shinsou’s chest.
“Too bad. I’m not going to be late for the practice I set up. If we get up now we’ll have just enough time to make coffee.”
Kaminari perked up a little at the sound of coffee, and soon hopeful yellow eyes were looking up at him, “...Will you make it?”
“Sure,” Shinsou snorted, untangled himself from his boyfriend, and sat up. Denki moved to curl around him, making it difficult for him to extract himself from bed. He finally managed to pull himself away when Mouse came over and sat in the warm spot he’d been sleeping in. Kaminari immediately accepted the substitute and buried his face in the cat’s tummy.
Hitoshi gave Mouse a thankful look as he left to start his coffee machine. She flicked her tail lazily and he knew he’d be putting some fish in her bowl as a thank you later on.
It didn’t take him long to put together two cups of coffee, and soon he was returning to his bedroom to find Kaminari awake and petting a pleased-looking Mouse. Shinsou felt himself getting oddly jealous of the affection.
He sounded quite petulant but found himself saying, “Come pet my hair instead. Mouse isn’t the one who made you coffee.”
Kaminari looked up, pleasantly surprised at how playful Shinsou was being, “Then come over here!” He wiggled his fingers eagerly, arms outstretched.
Hitoshi carefully placed the mugs down on the bedside table before sitting down within Denki’s reach, leaning his head over so it was easier for the guitarist to scratch it. Strong and calloused fingers rubbed along Shinsou’s scalp, and the manager felt himself melt.
“I thought we were in a rush, babe?” Kaminari said softly.
Hitoshi sighed, “never too much of a rush for coffee or head scratches.”
Denki kissed the back of Shinsou's pale neck before pulling away, “Come on, big guy. We’ve got a practice to slay and a Band Daddy to tease. Last one out of bed has to explain to Iida what his nickname means!”
Tonight's ShinKami Fam shout-out goes to Veli and Kell!
(We're almost at the end so I'm combining some to make sure I have everybody!)
Veli, you are my wonder twin and I adore you beyond words.
Kell, you are an absolute darling and I'm so happy to be your friend!
Next week will be the Sero/Iida chapter!
P.S. The "Worst-Case Scenario Game" is something I use with a lot of my patients. I've found it helps a lot when you feel yourself spiraling. Humor goes a long way! Stay healthy and happy folks! I love you!
Chapter 27: SerIida Spin-off Fic!
You all asked for it and now it's arrived! Link to the SerIida chapter is here!
It's going to be a two-parter since the first chapter was 3.5k and it's very much not done.
So expect next week's chapter to be the rest of the SerIida fic and then we're back to the main fic! The NSFW shinkami one shot for this will be out after the main fic is finished.