There’s a scratch in Tetsu’s forehead.
He hardens his skin. Unhardens it. Hardens it again. Lets go and hardens it again one more time, quick, like he can take the scratch on his forehead by surprise. Make it go away if he can harden fully before it can form.
Tetsu groans, slumping in defeat.
As if he wasn’t feeling bad enough after training today, now, he’s got this to deal with. Wonderful.
He tries hardening his skin over his forehead one more time, and lets it go with a sigh when it, unsurprisingly, doesn’t work still.
And then, when shiny steel ripples away, he squeaks in alarm at the sight of an angry red line dug into his skin. Fuck. Okay. It’s deeper than he thought, and using his quirk like an idiot is only aggravating it. If he keeps this up, it’ll scar not just his steel form, but his actual skin as well. He’s got to buff out that scratch before it decides to stick around for good.
He gathers the little drawstring bag from the back of the closet that holds polishing wax and a cloth and different grits of sandpaper. Just the sound of the sandpaper scratching together makes him grit his teeth together.
He really hates this.
Tetsu goes to open the bag and notices the way his hands are shaking. The quirk healing from after training did a bigger number on him than he thought.
“Fuckin’ A,” he mutters to himself, gripping the strings of the bag tightly and sighing unhappily.
He’s going to need help.
Another deep breath to steady himself.
He can ask Kendou. Kendou’s nice and caring and she knows he has to do this. She’d helped him after he was shot in the head at training camp, when his hands shook just getting near the dent in his steel skull, when he couldn’t bring himself to buff out the damage without sucking in deep heaving gasps and having to drop the sandpaper and sit across the room from it.
Fucking summer camp.
Kendou will help him. She’s nice. He trusts her.
He slings the bag over a shoulder and hurries from his room to hers, banging on the door loudly.
“Yo! Kendou! Bro! Dude open up! Hey! Kendoooou!” Tetsu calls out as he raps heavy knuckles against her door.
A door opens that’s not Kendou’s. Pony sticks her head out of her door and beams up at Tetsu. For some reason, in this moment, he’s incredibly aware of how much larger than her he is.
He hunches his shoulders as she steps just outside her door.
“Kendou is not here! She is studying Shiozaki!”
Tetsu chokes on his own spit.
“Do you… mean studying with Shiozaki, Pony?”
She just smiles and nods and gives him a look he’d call pitying on anyone else’s face. “Sure! What do you need? Can I help?”
That ‘sure’ doesn’t sound so sure, and Tetsu’s sure it means that Kendou’s study date is more date than studying, and that it’ll be a while before she’s free. He doesn’t want to interrupt her date to make her help him.
He can just wait!
“No, it’s alright, dude, thanks though!”
He can’t wait, he thinks, scurrying away from Kendou’s door like a puppy with his tail between his legs. He has no idea how long she’ll be busy, and he can’t ask her to stay up later to take care of him, it’s too much to even ask her for help in the first place.
That voice in his head sounds suspiciously like his mother. He shakes his head to try to rid himself of it. That is so not needed right now.
Tetsu doesn’t know how late Kendou will be out. They have training in the morning, so this needs to be done tonight. He can’t do it himself.
He needs someone else to help him.
But fuck, who else is he going to be able to trust like that? Kendou’s his best bro! She knows all of his shit, knows how hard this is for him, she isn’t mean about it. Not that he thinks any of his classmates would be mean over this. Well, maybe Monoma would be kind of a prick, but he wouldn’t be mean .
But as much as he likes them all, that doesn’t mean he’d trust any of them to wield corrosive chemicals on his face.
Maybe someone else? He could go to Recovery Girl, but that feels like wasting her time. Going to Vlad-sensei feels the same. One of his friends will do.
But not his classmates. Letting anyone besides Kendou know this feels weird too. So not his class. Class A, maybe? Oh god, that’s a whole can of worms. Class A is actually fucking insane. But they’d help him out, right? They were all nice the few times they’ve done joint training sessions together. Midoriya’s sweet, and so’s Uraraka. That Yaoyorozu girl seemed nice too. Kaminari’s not half bad, if a little loud. But none of them…
He’d trust Eijirou to do it.
He trusts Eijirou.
Eijirou would hold the best bro title Kendou currently holds, if not for the raging big gay crush Tetsu has on him.
Tetsu trusts Eijirou to do this. But god does he feel embarrassed at just the prospect of having to ask.
Something about showing up to his crush’s door to ask “hey, fix my face for me please!” feels humiliating, for a reason he can’t… totally pinpoint.
Maybe it’s because he’s certain that, despite the similarities of their quirks, Eijirou doesn’t have to deal with something as stupid as this.
Maybe it’s because he doesn’t want to admit this weird flaw to Eijirou.
Maybe he just wants to look cool in front of his crush.
You look weak, needing this, compared to him , his brain supplies.
Tetsu groans to himself. That’s dumb . He’s not weak. He can take bullets! He just… gets scars from them, where Eijirou can shake it off like nothing.
Eijirou’s so goddamn cool . He…
He’s knocking on Eijirou’s door.
Eijirou is opening the door, with a big smile, shark teeth on full display, red hair a floppy mess around his face.
“Tetsu! Bro! What’re you doing here!”
Eijirou almost always seems excited to see him.
It makes Tetsu feel special.
“I have a favor to ask. If you’re not busy.”
Eijirou doesn’t hesitate in pulling him into his room.
“What’s up bro?” There’s a textbook open to a problem set on Eijirou’s desk, a notebook and pencil beside it.
Eijirou just grins even brighter. “Nah dude! I can take a break to help you out! Bros before homework! Hm. That doesn’t rhyme. Shit. Oh well! What do you need?”
Tetsu hesitates, he doesn’t want to take Eijirou away from his studying, but he really needs this scratch buffed out, and he doesn’t trust anyone else around here to help.
Instead of saying anything, Tetsu just lets his steel ripple over his face, wincing when the scratch gouges into his forehead again.
Eijirou’s expression immediately goes worried.
“Oh shit, Tets, what happened, dude?”
“Training today got a little rough.”
“Why’s that still there though? Why didn’t you go to Recovery Girl?”
Tetsu flinches a little bit at the question. He knows Eijirou would never, but it feels a little bit like he’s being called stupid.
“I did,” he says, defensively. Eijirou looks sad, at his tone, though, so Tetsu reigns that in quickly. “When I get scratches and shit like this on my steel form, if they’re deep enough, sometimes getting healed up isn’t enough, cause they’re too deep into the metal. I gotta buff ‘em out.”
Eijirou’s expression sours a little. “Ew, that doesn’t sound fun.”
Tetsu’s shoulders hunch up around his ears. “It’s not fun. And I just… I don’t feel good today, and I can’t do it myself. I was gonna ask Kendou, but she’s out right now, so I don’t wanna bug her, and I can’t think of anyone else I trust so… Will you help me out dude?”
Tetsu holds the bag in his hands out at Eijirou, and Eijirou takes it, his head cocked to the side ever so slightly as he opens the bag.
When he gets a look at the contents, he nearly drops it.
“This is just sandpaper! And… you can’t be serious. T, this is gonna hurt you!”
“Yeah, I know it is. But I need to do it or the scratch in the metal is gonna start to leave a scar on my actual skin! I gotta get it out! Please help me bro!”
Eijirou looks hesitant, but he takes a deep breath and pokes Tetsu into his desk chair, emptying the little bag onto the desktop. Tetsu reaches out and sorts each grit of sandpaper out in order, laying out the polish and cloth out at the end. Coarse sandpaper first, then an in between grit and a fine one to finish it off. He can already feel it in his teeth, the grating rasp of sandpaper across his metal skin. At least the polish is sort of cooling at the end.
“Start with this one. Sand it down till it’s as smooth as it can be, then go to the next one, and then the finest one. Then you just gotta polish it. Or I guess I could probably do that, if you don’t wanna. Helping me sand it out is totally enough to do, bro.”
“Tets. I’ll help with the whole thing. I got your back, dude. It’s okay!”
And there’s that thousand-watt smile again. Gods, Tetsu is so in love with this boy.
“Okay. Just sit back and close your eyes, yeah?”
Tetsu does as he’s asked, and then nearly chokes to death on his own spit as Eijirou cups his chin with one strong and somehow impossibly gentle hand. His skin is so soft. He must moisturize to keep up with the way his quirk taxes his skin. Eijirou touching him is so nice .
It’s a really nice little break, before the sandpaper touches his forehead, and suddenly all he can feel is the way it cuts right into his metal skin, and rasps into his skull, grating enough that he can feel it in his teeth, and no amount of gritting them will make the feeling go away.
A little pained noise escapes him before he can swallow it down and he grimaces, bracing for Eijirou to get… angry, annoyed, upset, something. Whenever his mom does this she always gets annoyed when he complains, and keeps going to get it done as quickly as she can.
Eijirou pauses, pulling the sandpaper away, and leaving the gentle hand on his chin.
“T, you okay? Am I hurting you?”
Tetsu can’t bring himself to open his eyes.
Eijirou is close enough that Tetsu can feel his breath ghosting over his cheeks. He’s pretty sure if he just leaned forward a little, he could press their lips together.
But it’d be unmanly to do that without asking first, and it’d be lame to do it now of all times.
He answers, instead of letting the fantasy of kissing Eijirou continue to steer his brain around like a poorly driven bumper car.
“It doesn’t feel good, there’s no way to make it feel… less not good. Just… just keep going, and just let me take breaks between the grits? It’s a lot to just go straight through.”
Eijirou sighs, and it sounds a little sad. Tetsu bets Eijirou’s eyebrows are all knit together and his lips are pursed in the little pout he makes whenever he’s upset or thinking really hard. Tetsu thinks it’s adorable.
He leans a little heavier into Eijirou’s touch.
“Keep going, bro, it’s okay.”
The first brush of the sandpaper is more hesitant this time, before Eijirou gets back into it.
It feels like ages before Eijirou finally pulls away.
When Tetsu sucks in a deep breath as Eijirou stops, it feels like the first time he’s gotten any air in years. The clock on Eijirou’s wall says it’s been six minutes.
They sit there in silence for a few minutes more before Tetsu picks up the next grit of sandpaper and presses it into Eijirou’s hands.
This time, Eijirou’s free hand comes up to cup the back of his head as the sandpaper digs into his forehead.
He feels like his teeth are going to crack with how hard he’s clenching his jaw.
The rest of that one and the final grit pass in a blur. The next half an hour runs together into a nightmarish haze, until he can’t take it anymore.
A hardened steel hand lashes out blindly as Eijirou finishes with the finest grit, seizing his wrist in a bruisingly tight grip. Tetsu is panting, eyes unfocused when he can finally pry them open.
“Stop. Stop, please. Please, I can’t… I can’t. I’m sorry, please stop. I need to be done, please be done.”
Eijirou draws back immediately. He places the sandpaper down on the desk.
He’s practically sitting in Tetsu’s lap already, with the way his knees are bracketing Tetsu’s own, and in his panic addled state, Tetsu doesn’t even think twice about simply closing that gap.
Eijirou makes a quiet little surprised noise as Tetsu wraps both arms around his waist and drags Eijirou into his lap.
Eijirou wastes no time in settling both of his arms loosely around Tetsu’s shoulders. Tetsu’s face fits perfectly into the crook of Eijirou’s neck like this, and he keeps it there to hide the way his cheeks are flaring stop-light red.
God this is embarrassing.
But there’s a fine tremor running through his entire body and Eijirou is steady and solid and warm and Tetsu is at least a little selfish. He holds Eijirou tight, so he won’t pull away, though he’d let go if Eijirou tried to get up. He’s not an asshole.
Eijirou begins to card his fingers through Tetsu’s hair.
It’s really all Tetsu can do to stop himself from crying.
“Hey, it’s okay T, I got you. I’m really sorry we had to do that. Just gotta do the polish bit now. That doesn’t feel too bad, right? We’re done with the hard part, I promise. The bad bit’s done. You did it, bro.”
Tetsu nods, and absolutely does not sniffle into Eijirou’s shoulder.
He can’t stop shaking.
Eijirou is still talking. “Bro, you’re like the manliest dude I know! You’re so strong, I’d never be able to do something like this every time I got hurt, it’s so awesome that you can! It’s so manly! You’re so manly! Hey, you still with me, Tetsu?”
Eijirou’s voice rumbles in his chest when he speaks, Tetsu’s learning.
He nods yes, he is listening, on only a little bit of a delay.
“Okay, awesome. You’re still doin’ great. Can we finish up with the polish so you can drop your quirk totally? That can’t be comfortable, bro.”
If it were anyone else, he’d hesitate.
But this is Eijirou.
Tetsu nods yes again, very reluctantly pulling away from Eijirou.
Eijirou, for his part, doesn’t get up out of Tetsu’s lap. He just reaches out for the polish, collecting it and the cloth from the desk, and finishing up fixing Tetsu’s forehead from his perch in his lap.
When he’s done, he tosses everything aside as though it’s personally offended him.
“Okay! Finished!” Tetsu deactivates his quirk with a relieved sigh. Eijirou lets out a horrified gasp. “Bro! Holy shit, your skin is so red. Oh my god, did I do something wrong? Have I been hurting you that bad?”
Tetsu just pulls him in close again. “No, it’s okay dude. Just gets like. Irritated. It’ll be fine in a few hours. Or by the morning if it’s bad. It’s fine, seriously.”
Eijirou’s entire body sags in palpable relief. “Oh thank god.”
He’s so good.
“You’re a pretty damn good hero, y’know that, Riot?” Tetsu says, soft in an unmistakable manner. Fuck, he is so gone on Eijirou.
Eijirou… sounds like he’s choking for a second.
“Holy shit you’re so cute.” And now he sounds like he’s dying .
Tetsu jerks upright.
He had to have misheard that. There’s no way.
He searches Eijirou’s face for something, anything, even the slightest hint that he might not have meant that.
He doesn’t find one.
“Eijirou. Ei. Eiji. I… I need you to kiss me right now, bro.”
His last words are barely out of his mouth before Eijirou’s lips are on his.
Eijirou kisses like he’s a man dying of thirst, and Tetsu is the world’s last drop of water.
It’s fucking amazing. It’s turning Tetsu’s entire world on its head.
Eijirou is kissing him!
The boy he’s had a stupid big fat gay crush on for months is kissing him!
They only break apart when they can no longer breathe, and even then, Eijirou just shifts to pressing impossibly gentle kisses to the irritated spot on his forehead. It’s almost reverent . With one deep kiss, Eijirou makes him feel like a man worshipped.
Tetsu is honestly so overwhelmed he just… cannot process any more. He slumps, forehead pressing to Eijirou’s collarbone.
He speaks absently, the weight of his own words wasted on him. “I think I’ve loved you for months, y’know that? That was nice. You make me feel… nice.”
Eijirou sucks in a quiet little breath, his hands all but seizing where they’ve been cradling the back of Tetsu’s neck and resting at his waist.
The breath gets let out slowly, and Eijirou says something that Tetsu doesn’t really hear, but agrees to anyway, and the next thing he knows, Eijirou is slipping off his lap.
Tetsu all but whines at the loss or Eijirou’s warmth, but any complaint he could muster is quickly squashed by Eijirou carefully picking him up out of the chair and settling him in his bed. Eijirou digs his laptop out of his backpack and climbs in beside Tetsu, pulling up some old cartoon movie, and tucking himself into Tetsu’s side.
The opening credits start to roll.
“We’ll talk in the morning okay?” Eijirou says, a smile in his voice.
“In the morning,” Tetsu agrees.
They’re both asleep before the end credits play.