His son glanced up, lips pursed in a gentle upturn and eyebrows raised lazily as if surprised to see him. His eyelids drooped. “Hm?”
“What’s a student other than you doing passed out on my couch?”
It was uncanny, he thought, seeing Hitoshi so relaxed, and Shōta had half a mind to grab him by both shoulders and shake the guard back into him before he kicked himself, reminding himself to be a dad now and a teacher later. It was safe here. Hitoshi was just a kid. He was allowed to relax in his own home, where nothing posed a threat except his dad’s own sleep-deprived paranoid projection.
“Oh.” Again, Hitoshi blinked as if just noticing the frizzy mop of hair resting against his leg and his own fingers running through it. “Well, I think he couldn’t sleep. I’m usually up, so he went looking for me, and when I wasn’t in my dorm, he sprinted over here to tell you I’ve been kidnapped. From what I gather.”
Shōta said nothing.
“You know, you should probably post your patrol schedule somewhere. So they know who to sprint over to.”
Hitoshi’s voice was a teacher’s: patient, but reprimanding. A necessary criticism on a beyond sore subject. Truthfully, Shōta had posted his schedule in the common room kitchen, along with a careful map to the other teachers’ dorms with clear instructions in case an emergency caused a panic, but as he prepared to remind his son that he wasn’t an idiot, he suddenly found the boy’s stern glare, softened substantially by the sleep in his eyes and the monotonous way he pet his friend’s head far too endearing to break it to him. Instead, he ruffled Hitoshi’s hair.
“I think he found his way alright.”
Shōta stretched with a grunt and a pop, shuffling to the other side of the couch. Some crime show played on TV. Shōta had never liked crime shows, figuring if he wanted to see blood and gore he could just work overtime, but Hitoshi had a fascination with cold cases, and given Eri had gone to bed, he and Hizashi would sometimes watch them until they fell asleep. Normally, though, he stuck to podcasts.
Shōta spared a glance at the scene beside him as he squeezed on the couch. The position looked uncomfortable for everyone involved: Hitoshi sat straight upright despite his head drooping, one leg sprawled towards Shōta with the other curled against the armrest getting drooled on, hand resting on the grimacingly twisted figure curled against him. Something about the boy’s pathetic attempts at concealing his contentment sent a surge of affection blooming in Shōta’s chest. Before he could think about it--
“I’m glad you’re making friends.”
Hitoshi wiped the smile off his face.
“It’s alright I guess. Kind of like having a pet.”
As if summoned, Sakura let out a prrp and hopped into Shōta’s lap, kneading dough for a moment before settling down and rubbing her face against Hitoshi’s foot.
“Like a really slobbery cat that follows you around,” Hitoshi defended, scratching harder. “Even though you didn’t ask it to. And it won’t stop reciting English plays. And it keeps breaking the toaster.”
Shōta noted whose parents to charge for the extra cost of kitchen appliances. “Right.”
Hitoshi’s scalp massaging service became audible over the TV.
Kaminari made some noise of contentment or waking-up-ment, nuzzling into Hitoshi’s knee to escape the light, and Shōta froze. Nothing against the kid, but an awkward conversation with one of his non-adopted students was something he’d like to avoid in his own apartment at nearly two in the morning. Hizashi would come home soon and with his arrival would come the usual booming announcement of what a long day he’s had, which would no doubt send everyone jolting awake and scattering off to bed. Hitoshi was nodding off, anyway. So as not to disrupt that natural order, Shōta decided to get out of the way. He nudged Sakura off and started off.
Hitoshi turned his head as much as he could, and in the light of the TV he looked uncharacteristically uncertain. Young. He opened his mouth, then closed it.
“How…” His fingers, which had stopped moving, started gently again. “Never mind. Goodnight.”
He turned back toward the TV.
Shōta went to bed.
“ Psst, Shō.” Something poked his cheek. “ Shōta. 'Toshi has a friend over. Did you see?”
“Just past three. Did you see?”
Three in the morning. He had three and a half hours left.
“Yeah, I saw. Go to sleep.”
Some shuffling. The warm sheets shifted before cool fabric settled against his skin, arms wrapping around his waist. He sighed.
“I’m proud of him. I didn’t want to wake them up.”
Blearily, Shōta noted that Hizashi had left the door open a crack and he could see into the dim blue light of the hallway. The light switched off, and he detected a soft murmur that Hizashi couldn’t have picked up without his hearing aids. A shadow tiptoed past.
“Mm,” he grumbled, loud enough for Hitoshi to hear. “I’m proud of him, too.”
If Kaminari woke up on his teachers’ couch twenty minutes late for class that morning, well. That was none of Aizawa’s business.