Technically, it was Eri’s fault.
She had asked, months ago, when they’d had parties for Hizashi and Hitoshi when Shouta’s birthday was, and…
Well, she remembered. And Hitoshi probably should have remembered that she asked but then it kept creeping closer and he got pulled deeper and deeper into classes and -
And suddenly it was the day before his birthday and Hitoshi only had plans to give him a small gift and make no fuss.
Eri had other ideas.
“’Toshi, are you awake?” she whispered, closing his door almost silently behind her. So if he wasn’t awake, she was going to sit there and wait until he was.
But it was early enough that he’d still be awake and there was no reason to ask. He poked his head out from his blankets, setting his phone to the side and looking at the small girl in front of him. She tugged at the edge of her sleep shirt, stepping forward and climbing onto his bed.
“’Sup, Eri?” Hitoshi asked, rubbing the remaining sleepiness out of his eyes. He’d not really fallen asleep yet, but that didn’t stop the tired from immediately settling into his body the second that he climbed into bed.
“It’s Dad’s birthday tomorrow,” she said as soon as she was in his bed and Hitoshi flopped back onto the pillows. He thought maybe she’d had a nightmare and come to him instead of Shouta and Hizashi. She did that sometimes, when the nightmare was small and she just wanted to sleep next to someone else. But apparently she was awake, and she had plans to make. “Sit up! It’s important.”
“We already got presents for him, remember? We went shopping last weekend with Hizashi.” Hitoshi had picked out new gloves for Shouta, nice ones that he could hopefully still work while he was wearing because it was getting colder. Eri had picked out a pair of black cat ear muffs that Shouta would probably never own up to liking to anyone other than her, but also more than likely wear nonstop for the rest of winter.
Eri rolled her eyes, crossing her arms over her chest. Hitoshi sat back up, raising his eyebrows. “Not just presents. We need to have a party.”
Oh shit. He really should have seen this coming, but the day before his birthday was a really bad time to start planning a party, especially if Eri wanted anything like what they had done for Hitoshi and Hizashi already. But, still, she looked so excited. He chose his words carefully, “You really think he wants a party?”
“Not big,” she said. “But at least you and me and ‘zashi and Bean and maybe Nemuri or Toshinori or Deku or -”
“I think it’d be best if we did just us and ‘zashi and Bean, Eri,” Hitoshi said, cutting her off before she could start rambling through every person she had met since coming to UA. It was a long list, and Hitoshi was positive that Shouta didn’t want that many people at a birthday party for him.
“You think so?” Eri frowned. “We’ve gotta make sure it’s good.”
“We will!” Hitoshi promised, leaning forward. “But Shouta doesn’t usually like a lot of people around. Hizashi probably would have already planned something big if that was what Shouta liked.”
Eri tapped her finger against her lips, a thoughtful gesture that she’d picked up from someone along the way before nodding her head. “Then just us. We can still get hats and decorations? And make a cake?”
“Yeah, that’s fine. We can get Hizashi to -”
“We should make it a surprise,” she interrupted, suddenly recomplicating the plan that Hitoshi thought he had simplified enough to be fitting of Shouta.
“A… surprise?” he repeated, and she nodded excitedly. “Okay. I guess so. We can ask Hizashi if he can keep him out of the house for long enough for us to decorate and make the cake?”
“That’s good! Let’s ask him now.” Eri immediately started to climb out of Hitoshi’s bed and he laughed, shaking his head.
“Eri, they’re probably both asleep. And they sleep in the same bed. We can ask tomorrow at breakfast.” Since Shouta worked so late, Hizashi was usually the first person awake in the house. Eri and Hitoshi woke up not long after him and the three ate breakfast together, Shouta stumbling in some time during the meal.
Eri paused in the doorway, looking back at him before nodding her head. “Then we need to make sure that we sleep good so that we’re up extra early so he doesn’t hear us. Go right to bed!”
“I will,” Hitoshi promised with a small laugh, rolling over onto his side as soon as he saw her disappear from the doorway.
Small party or not, he had to plan an entire surprise party by tomorrow? He groaned, pressing his face into his pillows and deciding to just sleep and deal with it tomorrow.
He woke up to Eri’s hands on his face, shaking him softly. “’Zashi is already awake we need to go talk to him now.”
It was far too early for this, but, still, Hitoshi dragged himself out of bed and to the kitchen, where Hizashi was singing along to the radio and cooking breakfast. “Good morning!” he exclaimed as the two walked in. “You’re up awfully early.”
“Morning!” Eri chimed back, climbing onto her chair and watching Hizashi cook. “We need help.”
“You need help?” Hizahsi repeated, turning toward her a little more. At least he didn’t look concerned by her statement, only intrigued by what she could possibly mean. “What kind of help?”
“Eri wants to throw Shouta a surprise party ‘cause of his birthday today,” Hitoshi answered, leaning against the counter.
“And ‘toshi said maybe you can get him out of the house so we can get ready!” Eri finished for him.
“You want to throw Shouta a surprise party?” Hizashi lit up as Eri nodded. “I’ll keep him out of the house for a few hours. If I get him through lunch, you two can have it ready by then?”
“No problem!” Eri responded before Shinsou had the chance, which was unfortunate because she had no idea what went into planning a party.
“Perfect,” Hizashi responded, ruffling her hair and setting her plate down in front of her. “Hitoshi, you got everything you need here?”
“Here and in the dorms, I think so,” Hitoshi answered. If it wasn’t already here, then he’d just find a way to work around it. Or he’d beg Momo to make anything missing and tell her it was for Eri. That usually got the job done.
“I’m sure you two’ve got it down, then.” Hizashi laughed, turning back to breakfast.
“What are they doing?” Shouta walked into the kitchen, dragging his feet behind him and collapsing onto his chair. Hizashi walked up and kissed his forehead.
“Happy birthday, sleepyhead,” he said, ruffling Shouta’s hair and depositing his breakfast in front of him. Bean climbed onto the counter, resting next to Shouta’s arm. He lazily petted her, lifting his head to look at Hizashi.
“Why do the kids have to handle the apartment?” Shouta repeated. Hitoshi nervously glanced at Eri, but she simply shoved more breakfast into her mouth, bouncing a little. She clearly wanted to spill their secret but was keeping it contained.
“Because I need new shoes and want to spend the day with the birthday boy!” Hizashi answered.
“Of course you do,” Shouta groaned. “You’re sure you don’t want someone to watch her with you, Hitoshi?”
“We’ll be fine!” he answered, and Eri nodded excitedly. “We’ll just go to the dorms if we have to.”
“Alright.” Shouta shrugged, eating his breakfast slowly. “We’ll be back around lunchtime?”
“Probably! Depends on how long it takes.” Hizashi cleaned up the kitchen, leaning against the counter.
Shouta nodded, finishing his breakfast and cleaning the plate. “Call us if you need anything.”
“Got it!” Hitoshi answered.
“Happy birthday!” Eri chirped, waving with a wide grin.
“Thank you,” Shouta said with a smile, walking out of the room so he could change clothes.
Hizashi watched him go before leaning in, winking exaggeratedly at Eri. “Hitoshi can text me when you’re ready?”
“Yeah, that’s fine,” Hitoshi answered while Eri nodded excitedly.
As soon as Shouta came back out of the room Hizashi grabbed his arm and led him out of the house, already talking excitedly about whatever they were going to do.
“Okay,” Hitoshi said as soon as they were out the door. “What do we need?”
“Hats,” Eri answered. “And a cake. And… um…” She shrugged.
“Maybe a tablecloth? Or some streamers?”
“Streamers?” Eri crinkled up her nose, not recognizing the word.
“They’re like… the paper things that we hang on stuff?” Hitoshi tried to explain. “We can get some from the dorms.”
“Okay!” Eri exclaimed, rushing to grab her shoes. Hitoshi dragged his own shoes on, taking her hand and leading her the short walk to the dorms.
Luckily, Momo was already in the common room when they walked over and Eri immediately rushed to her.
“Yaomomo!” she exclaimed. “It’s his birthday so me and ‘toshi are doing a party for him but we need cake and hats and tablecloth and… and… streamers!”
“Cake stuff in the kitchen?” Hitoshi asked and Momo nodded. He walked into the kitchen, listening to the two of them talk excitedly about what they’d make for Shouta’s birthday.
He grabbed all of the cake stuff he thought they wouldn’t have at the apartment. When he walked back out to the common room, Eri had her hands full with streamers and party hats. Momo grinned at him. “She should have everything the two of you wanted.”
“Thanks, Momo,” he said, taking some of it from Eri so he could hold her hand.
“Send pictures of the party!” she exclaimed.
“We will!” Eri answered, hugging her before taking Hitoshi’s hand, swinging it as they walked back to the apartment.
Once there, he set everything down on the table. “How about you set up the table while I get the cake in the oven, and then once it’s done we can decorate it together?”
“That’s good!” Eri said, taking the tablecloth and streamers (and various other decorations that apparently Momo had been talked into). She immediately got to work setting things up and Hitoshi walked into the kitchen.
He’d never… actually baked a cake before, but how hard could it be? He stared at the ingredients on the counter, reading the recipe carefully as he combined them. “Eri!” he called, and she poked her head in. There was something glittery all over her hands, and Hitoshi dreaded the inevitability of Bean walking through whatever sparkles she threw on the table. “What color should the cake be?”
Eri tapped her foot against the ground, imitating Hizashi’s thinking face for a moment before answering, “Black! ‘Cause I think that’s his favorite.”
“Good choice,” Hitoshi said. Eri grinned and went back to table decorating. Okay. So. To make a cake black…
He grabbed the right food dye, mixing quite a bit of it in so that it’d be dark enough. He poured the cake into a pan once it was ready and put it in the preheated oven.
While it was in the oven, he walked out to Eri. The table was covered in sparkles and streamers but it was… it was cute.
“We should make him a card,” Eri said. “We’ve got paper and markers. It’d be good with our presents.”
“You’re right,” Hitoshi said. “I’ll go get out the paper and markers for you.”
He walked over to the closet and pulled out some paper and markers, throwing them on the table.
Eri immediately got to work, drawing an elaborate picture of the four of them. Hitoshi just wrote happy birthday and drew various shapes on the card.
As he finished, the oven went off and he rushed over to grab the cake, pulling it out and testing to make sure that it’s done.
His phone buzzed in his pocket and he grabbed it. Hizashi, asking if they were ready yet. Hitoshi glanced at the clock before texting back that they probably needed another hour. He set the cake on the counter, grabbing the icing and mixing in black food dye until it was dark enough. He started to spread the icing onto the cake but it immediately started melting and running off and he stared at it.
The cake was too hot? That was… that would be an issue. Hitoshi picked the pan back up and threw the cake into the fridge.
“We can put the icing on it in like ten minutes. Hizashi and Shouta will be back in like an hour,” Hitoshi said as he walked back to Eri. “Is everything else ready?”
“We have to wear our hats!” Eri answered. “What’re you gonna put on the cake?”
Hitoshi shrugged. He’d grabbed yellow icing to add to the cake but he had no idea what to do with it. “Maybe just write happy birthday?”
“That’s good! Leave a corner empty so we can eat that part but the words are still there,” Eri instructed. Hitoshi nodded, checking his phone for the clock. Hizashi had texted back that he would be good to distract Shouta for an hour more.
Eri went back to drawing, her tongue sticking out of the corner of her mouth as she worked.
The alarm on Hitoshi’s phone buzzed and he walked over to grab the cake out of the fridge. It still felt kind of warm, but the icing seemed to stick a little better. It was still runny, but it wasn’t the worst that it could be. He started layering the black icing onto the cake, working until it was mostly covered. Then he grabbed the yellow, carefully trying to write out his message.
It was sloppy, and it took forever, but he did it. He put everything away, carefully carrying the cake over to the table.
“It’s so good!” Eri exclaimed, standing on her tip-toes to look at it when he put it on the table. “He’s gonna be so excited!”
“I hope so,” Hitoshi said, glancing down at his phone as it buzzed again. Hizashi had texted they were on their way back. “We’ve gotta clean up real quick before they come back!”
Eri nodded, grabbing handfuls of wrappers and carrying them dutifully where they belonged. Hitoshi picked up what he could, moving it all out of the way.
Eri was straightening out her card on the table when the door unlocked, and she immediately looked to it, her eyes wide.
“Surprise!” Eri shouted the second that Hizashi and Shouta were through the door, shooting forward to them faster than Bean trying to make her grand escape.
Shouta blinked in surprise, reaching down to steady her as she slid to a stop in front of them gesturing widely. Hizashi closed the door, using his foot to slide the cat back into the house. “You dragged me around town all day so they could…”
“Have a party!” Eri exclaimed, grabbing Shouta’s hand and dragging him forward so he could see everything on the table.
Shouta looked at Hizashi, an unimpressed look on his face. Hitoshi’s stomach started to form knots. He knew that he should have just said no to Eri and made them do something small. Shouta probably hated surprises or something. “You were in on this?”
Hizashi laughed, slinging an arm around Shouta’s shoulders, kissing his cheek. “It was a fair excuse. I did need new shoes.”
Shouta stayed quiet for a moment, observing everything that was on the table. “You always need new shoes,” Shouta muttered, but a smile lit up his face. He was looking at the cards that Hitoshi and Eri had left on the table next to his cake. “I should have known you were up to something. You never forget birthdays.”
“I’ve known you for half your life, Shou,” Hizashi laughed. “And I said happy birthday at least six times while we were out. And we bought that new blanket you wanted.”
“Usually you throw a fuss about my birthday,” Shouta said, and Hitoshi started to grin when he realized that he was moping. He had thought that Hizashi was taking it easy on his birthday. Suddenly, Hitoshi wanted to swing Eri around and thank her for all of her planning on this. “But I see you let the kids do it this year.”
“I wouldn’t have let us do nothing, Shouta. You know me better.” Hizashi leaned in to meet Shouta’s lips and Shouta kissed him back, laughing into the kiss.
Shouta was a hard teacher who pushed his students as far as he possibly could without breaking them. Everyone who knew him only as a hero and a teacher didn’t know anything like this from him. They probably thought it was impossible.
But when they were alone, just them…
“Surprise,” Hitoshi said, grinning at the two of them. “It was Eri’s idea, she dragged me out of bed to make sure that we got something done.”
“Is that so?” Shouta laughed, leaning down. “So you set this all up?”
“Hitoshi wrote on the cake!” Eri exclaimed, pointing at it. “Happy birthday!”
Shouta picked her up so they could look at the table together, glancing over to Hitoshi with another smile. “Happy birthday,” he echoed. “I told her we could probably do something small, but she said that you needed a party just as big as me and Hizashi’s.”
“But we didn’t invite anybody else ‘cause we almost forgot but also ‘cause ‘Toshi said it might be better if it was just us!”
“It’s perfect,” Shouta said. “Thank you both. Do you want to cut into the cake, ‘zashi?”
“Eat that side of the cake first!” Eri exclaimed frantically, pointing out the part she wanted cut to Hizashi. “’Cause then we won’t cut the words right away! We worked hard!”
Hizashi laughed but directed his hand to the right side of the cake, cutting out four pieces of it. Each of them grabbed their piece and brought it to the table,
“… how much food dye did you put in this icing?” Hizashi asked after the first bite. Eri was still stuffing her mouth (which was quickly becoming a bright blue) and Hitoshi looked up, setting his fork down for a second.
“Enough to make it black.” He paused after a moment, his eyes widening. “Wait, is that what it tastes like?” When Shouta covered his mouth to hide a laugh, Hizashi stared at the two of them. “I didn’t know it had a taste.”