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loved, silently, from afar

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Just a few short years ago, he expected that the end of his career would be silent. Eventually, he'd hit a wall due to age and retire without a word, or said wall would hit him hard enough there'd be nothing on the other side. Either way, Eraserhead and Aizawa Shouta would disappear, unseen.

Today, however, it's not on his mind at all. Today is somewhere in the future. He's got a few more scars, but so does everyone else. His kids (he had plenty of students over the years but only one class was his kids) had graduated, each taking their place in the world as a Symbol of Peace. The Traitor was revealed; the League was dissolved.

Today, he was in the staff room, with friends on every side of him. Mic said something stupid he won't remember, and he quipped back with something he also won't remember.

And Mic laughed.

It was an ugly thing. It was too loud even without the Voice Hero's quirk, and his smile had too much teeth. It was like he was blindsided by the force of it. And the rest of Aizawa's friends joined in. They were laughing with him, not at him, Aizawa knew. 

Mic clapped him on the shoulder. He didn't hate it, and almost forgot he ever did. "You haven't joked with me like that in years!" Mic said, his smile still stretched across his face. He wiped a tear from under the lens of his tinted sunglasses. As he did so, his smile shrank from Present Mic-sized to something more Hizashi-sized. "I've missed it, buddy."

Something large and overwhelming made itself known in Aizawa's chest. Emotions usually did that to him; feeling things didn't really agree with him. And this one refused to leave until he felt it through every fiber of his being: he was seen. He was loved, silently, from afar, and on all sides of himself.

All it took was a single sentence for him to finally feel it.

When Aizawa finally recovered from his tiny revelation, the conversation had moved on to something unrelated. His dry eye had started acting up at that exact moment, and he reached for his eye drops. It wouldn't have been the first time he accidentally put two drops instead of one in his eyes and needed a tissue to clean up the excess.