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A Million Reasons

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It has already been a long week when Natsuo finds out that his boyfriend is the leader of the League or Villains.

It's a Tuesday, but a long week. He is new to his residency, trying to learn the rhymes and rhythms of the hospital, the staff, the dynamics of the hierarchy. He has sixteen hours left on his shift when he comes in to find a slew of new patients, all awaiting treatment, all needing him. He can only roll with the punches, stem bleeding here, administer an IV drip there.

He has work to do. People to heal.

He enjoys his work.

There had been an accident downtown, a building collapsing, no heroes on duty, and damage had been expansional. He takes a drink of coffee between glove changes and catches the review of it on the late night—early morning?—news.

That's when he sees it. Him.

Tenko is running through the crowd amidst the chaos. He comes toe-to-toe with a hero, not a usual player, not very quick, just a sidekick really. His hands, his bare veiny hands, reach out, touching down with all five fingers and—

Natsuo feels utterly cold. His skin prickling where those hands touched him not hours before.


Natsuo misses his boyfriend.

Or, friend-with-benefits. Or, fuck-buddy.

It doesn't matter. He just misses him and it's in the weirdest way to miss someone. Natsuo misses having someone so close, so warm. He misses the feeling of being so close to someone.

His fingers in his hair, his mouth on his neck, his fingers against the small of his back, the bite of nails and soft leather urging him forward with breathy commands and praises that Natsuo had always been so eager to oblige.

He misses having sex.

He misses having sex with Tenko.

In the lonely parts of the night, he can still feel the kisses, his touches, his inquiring murmurs that filtered through the darkness between. Then, Natsuo would stay up with those memories on a loop, chasing the feeling and trying to remember a time when he did not need him, miss him so desperately—

Because it was more than sex.

Natsuo could get that anywhere.

He misses sex with Tenko because Tenko was Tenko.


Though, technically, Tenko is Tomura Shigaraki.

He breathed under the weight of those hands, heavy and caressing feeling of smooth palms, callous fingers, and the slide his gloves—and then he watched him kill on the evening news.

And that is fuckin with him more than he likes to admit.


Natsuo is not quite sure how it all started, but when he thinks on it too long, he is more and more convinced it is all part of a stupidly elaborate plot to get to his father.

He just remembers the days getting colder, the nights longer, the itch under his skin rougher, and bumping into someone with a weird smile and too long hair and so oddly charming that Natsuo's brain—that had only ever steered him towards fellow prep-school kids and young hero-hopefuls—had just gone huh. And, he had been so strangely infatuated.

And thus, the pursuit began.

A short chase, but a marvel of a catch.

A weekend locked up in his apartment learning the contours of Tenko's body, the pale blue of his hair against his pillow, the feeling of his scar against his mouth, the way he was so vocal, almost needy, in bed.

Now, the sweet memory left him cold.

It had been calculated, tactical. Tenko meeting him at his favorite game store, chatting him up, getting his number—


Natsuo wonders how far Tenko might have taken it.

He wonders why.

Of course, he knows the why.

Despite it all, he is the son of the No. 1 Hero. He is important. He is special. He is a prime candidate for this kind of fuckery. He is a way to wheedle under his father's hot itchy skin and carve a direct path from the villains to the heroes.

But, still.

He wonders why.

Tenko and him had slept together a handful of times since they met, but Tenko had taken him out on dates. Actual dates. Proper dates. Strange, but proper dates. Tenko had gotten to know him. He had gathered intel. He had remembered things. Stupid things like his cilantro allergy and how much he hated lo-fi rap music. Then, Tenko had been able to pull information out of him that Natsuo did not even share his friends or siblings.

Tenko had gotten him to talk about his father.

In reflection, the conversations made him nauseous. Natsuo is about as comfortable with sharing his feelings as he is drilling holes in his mouth.

It's not in his nature-nurture make up.

He is used to bad things being swept under the rug. His father's PR agent coaching him with her nails in his arm. His psychologist ordering him stronger dosages of antidepressants. His sister telling him to put on a brave face and face the world smiling.

An adoptive bastard of All Might's mantra in the face of adversity.

Natsuo cannot pinpoint the conversation starter, but he knows he was fully clothed when it happened.

They did not talk of weaknesses, as if Natsuo would know if his father had any. They had not even spoken about his father in terms of scandal or battle tactic, just the feelings Natsuo had for him. Just the shape of it.

And Natsuo had been vulnerable with him.

Natsuo, who bared his teeth like an animal backed into a corner at the idea of sharing feelings, had shared his deepest darkest corners with the enemy.

He ranted about feeling abandoned, about his mother, about his siblings, about his father. He ranted about these things in conjunction to his father.

He spoke of guilt he could never speak aloud and wouldn't even know how to begin.

How does one talk about coming home to find his mother sobbing over his baby brother's limp body after he screamed himself unconscious? How does one talk about the mounting horror of watching his elder brother peel and melt away into nothing? How does one talk about being casted down and down and down until his quirk, his name, his existence was all made glaringly and obviously, a mistake of genetic fusion—

Natsuo does not know where to begin, how to uncap.

He still felt cold too it all. Numb, somehow. Numb like he wanted to be.

He went over and over in his mind every bad day, every stupid prickly feeling like a scab, trying to map out and list exactly what he had shared with Tenko in those vitriolic moments of pure and utter rage. Like a white-out, a clean sheet of snow, Natsuo could remember nothing from the blind, teary rages other than Tenko's solemn expression and the sound of his gloves curling and uncurling against his neck.

He remembered Tenko's kisses to his temple, the rough drag of his scar, and then silence, a perfect mate to his rages. Tenko's hands were so warm against his cold skin, he thought he might be burning. "You must have been lonely," Tenko's words were honeyed and so, so addictive to him.

Tenko had never relayed his own pain, never brought the conversation to him, just let Natsuo sit and stew in his poison like lemon juice on an open wound. Natsuo became soaked in the acidic feeling of letting himself be angry. Being angry around a person who was not scared of angry, quirk-reactive people.

It made him feel normal.

Like he didn't have to preform being okay.

The bare touch of Tenko's fingers had been seeking, warm and smooth, slipping into the collar of his shirt, the bristle of his hair, the pocket of his jeans.

In that same, honeyed voice that he would bring Natsuo up, he would brick him down. Inch by inch. Until he was nothing but an edgeless visage of his former self, tears cold on his skin and breathless in his own grief. Docile as a kitten, a thorn without a spike.

Then, Tenko would bring him back up again, feeding him with compliments and touches, drags of his teeth and tongue, fingers dancing across his abdomen as he pulled Natsuo to the edge once, twice, three time before letting him have it in full.

And in those moments, in the dark, Tenko had pieced him back together and made him anew. Validated his anger. Comforted his nerves. Praised his strength.

Natsuo felt so seen he could hardly breathe.

He felt that he could look into the mirror and reach himself. He did not have to preform for anyone when Tenko was near. He did not have to pretend that the blood and fire and bruises of the last twenty years did not touch him. He did not have to be undaunted in the face of his family.

But, Tenko made him want to be.

That strange tenderness of Tenko's hands filling him up to the brim so much he spilled over. He fell too hard. He became too dependent. It was a small, strange love. A need, a hunger. He fed from Tenko something he was missing inside of himself.

It was that devotion that swept him up in a warm embrace, quieted nightmares, and sated some deep anxiety in his mind that made him think, maybe he wasn't useless, wasn't scared, wasn't expendable—

Then, of course, Shigaraki Tomura led an attack against the heroes.

And Shimura Tenko shriveled in his mind.


He doesn't remember calling Tenko—or Tomura—but when he gets home, he is tired and bird-boned and angry. Above all else, angry, and it is only fueled on by the final two. It had been a brutal shift, a hellish week, and a rude awakening. Any number of things that might have set him off and twisted him up, but now this. Now this and Natsuo is pacing his kitchen, so riled he cannot speak.

But he calls Tenko/Tomura because of course he does.

And it goes straight to voicemail because of course he would.

So, Natsuo unleashes all his rage into what he knows is a jumbled mix of expletives and insults. He flays his words thin as razor wire and wraps them up in his teeth, aiming to cut. He hopes Tenko/Tomura listens to his message and dies. He hopes his stomach drops into his gut and his throat constricts and his palms sweat and that he's so, so sorry for ever playing with him that—

"—don't ever try to contact me again." He clicks his phone off and tosses it on the bed. The sound of metal and plastic thumbing against the headboard before sliding behind the mattress.

He hates everything.

Most of all himself.

Its mostly how his fingers itch, after so long, to pick up the phone and to let that small, pathetic, needy part of him have its way. He wants to call Tenko again, and talk to him not as Tomura. He wants to scream and frostbite him, but he also wants to let him back in. Let the drug of Tenko's influence infect him entirely.

By the hour's end, Natsuo is staring at a blank screen and drunk.

He wants so badly to call again, to leave another message, to leave a cacophony of messages. He wants to fill up the voicemail box with venom and hatred and betrayal—

But the thought of Tenko listening to him, of having those recordings, of sharing them gives him pause.

Then, he feels guilty for calling at all.

Then, he remembers sharing and he's all twisted up.

Why couldn't he be more like his element? Why couldn't he just freeze people out? Why did he have to burn them? He hates everything that makes up himself. The weak simpering piece of him that thought he found someone whole and helpful, someone he could trust

"I'm not a person right now," he says quietly, as oppose to nothing. He can feel the chill in his room, colder still and even colder as his emotions get the better of him. His lips are dry and his hands are cracking at the knuckle, blood flecking the cuts.

He can feel the cracks creeping along the wall, he can see the frost clouding the windows, he can taste the watery flavor of the cold. All so familiar and yet, so foreign, with teeth in his skin both cold and warm and poisonous.

His quirk is, for better or for worse, linked heavily with his emotions. Like his mother, he can manipulate ice, but not to the form Fuyumi can, or even close to the degree of what Shouto can do. No, his quirk is registered under frost manipulation.

He can make and manipulate frost, he can create it and, with a spec of his father's genes in him, he can destroy it too.

Which Natsuo thinks is only fair, his father destroys a lot of things. Why not give his children that power too?

The chill cracks along his body, his clothes, his carpet, his blankets. He can hear it crawling up the walls, deep frosty whorls of ice. The temperature in the room is tanking, lower and lower, the radiator cracking.

He has to calm down. He knows he has to calm down.

If he wants to keep this apartment—

It he wants to go off his medication—

Hell, if he wants to keep his head, he has to—

A phantom memory. Tenko's warm-cool fingers sliding against the seam of his spine through his thin, thin tee shirt. Alluring, distracting, needing. His chin against Natsuo's shoulder, his eyes peering up at him, assessing, not judging. His voice is smooth and steel, leaving no room for argument when he says, "Pull it back."

The frost curling through the room dissipates. Crunches, cringles, crisps.

Natsuo pulls it back with a warm exhale, leaving the room foggy and humid. The tacky feeling of warmth hitting his cold skin makes him uncomfortable. Like how he feels after a fight.

His skin is rubbed raw, red and white splotches and the cold, dead-meat of his muscles slowly circulating back to life.

He shifts in his living room and opens a window to let the warm spring air in.


In truth, Natsuo never lets anyone in.

He doesn't know what made Tenko so special. Maybe it was because he did not outwardly want anything. He did not flinch when Natsuo explained who is father is. He did not warm to the idea either. He just listened to Natsuo. He was just there for Natsuo.

Or, at least, he thought he was.

Now, he's not too sure.

It's not like he can really get answers, Tenko being on the run and all. Being a villain in a hero society will do that.


He falls asleep on a cold, stiff mattress and a frozen pillow. He curls in around himself for warmth, but his mind tells his body he doesn't need it. He needs sleep, he needs quiet, he needs rest, but all he can see is Tenko who had laid in this bed with him not two days previous. Tenko who had suggested doing something this weekend.

It shifts something hollow and cold in him when he realizes that he no longer has plans for the weekend. It's enough to make him cry.

He is not pitiful. He is just in love with the wrong person.

And it hurts him.