Their trip home was weirdly anticlimactic.
No monsters made any attempts to halt their progress or destroy the city, no civilians stopped them on their way back to headquarters, and the halls of the Hero Association were utterly silent with all of its resident heroes still holed up in the auditorium where their world had crumbled at their feet. Neither of them even attempted to speak to each other on the way home, still reeling from the event they had walked out of.
Just a few short hours, Saitama reflected idly as he watched Genos unlock the door to their shared apartment. Why is it, that the most drastic life changes happen so quickly?
The cyborg hesitated before entering the apartment first, standing rigidly at attention while holding the door open as Saitama slouched through the open frame. He raised his gaze from the floor and glanced at Genos as he stepped by, their eyes catching and snagging on each other like a live electrical current. Saitama swallowed, staring at the unnatural golden glow of the cyborg's eyes set inside deep black sclera, and then blinked and looked away, severing the connection as he stepped into their home.
"Tadaima," he murmured tiredly, already stripping his hero gloves off in the relief of having four walls between him and the rest of the noisy world.
Behind him, the sound of their front door closing preceded a quiet response of "okaeri."
Saitama flinched as his still-aching heart throbbed once in reply, flashing back to the fresh memory of the first time they'd exchanged those words. Everything felt so new and- and so raw, in the wake of that stadium with its too-bright lights and too-loud people; too many eyes all staring at him as he fumbled through the only emotion he'd ever experienced strongly enough to shatter the deep fog of apathy that had colored his world for so many years.
He didn't know what to focus his thoughts upon first. Everything was a horrifying jumble of colors and sound and emotion, a disembodied thing that reached out to grab his heart so carelessly, gouges left behind in the wake of its grasping claws. Should he break the strange silence that had fallen over them? He'd asked Genos to talk with him after everything was over, hadn't he? God, could he even handle something like that right now? What if they started and he opened his mouth and he didn't know what to say? Or worse, what if everything just fell out of his throat in a merciless jumble like the incessant rants he always told Genos to cut off before-
With a sharp intake of breath, Saitama blinked and settled back into the bland quiet of their living room. With a mild jolt of surprise, he realized his right hand was rubbing fiercely at the skin over his heart; he quickly lowered it before turning to face his cyborg roommate. "Hm?"
"I..." and here Genos paused, his thick eyebrows furrowing down over a concerned gaze that lingered where his fingers had been. "......would you like for me to make some supper?"
The bald hero briefly entertained the thought of eating and decided immediately that no, he very much did not want to send food into his roiling stomach.
His roommate and...friend?...frowned at his response and appeared to be seconds away from stubbornly protesting, so Saitama turned away and finished stripping out of his hero suit, leaving him clothed in nothing but his boxers and the beginning warm hues of the sunset filtering through their window. He hung up the yellow spandex and its accompanying cape, then tossed his crimson gloves and boots on the floor beneath it. He turned back around with the intention of heading for the closet where their clothes were stored (pajamas and bed sounded wonderful right about now), and caught a glimpse of Genos staring fixatedly at him before quickly averting his eyes with a little puff of steam shot out of both upper vents.
Hm? That's odd, why is he- ...oh. OH.
Well. Shit. He had forgotten about the awkward silent elephant in the room for a minute there.
"Um...hey, listen-" he began haltingly. "I... I know I said we should talk after- after everything. But..."
"It can wait!" the cyborg yelped, his eyes widening as more puffs of steam filtered out of his vents. "It's - I know it's been a horrible day for you, sensei, I completely and wholeheartedly understand if you want to put off our talk until tomorrow or the day after or- or, well. Okay, I would still like to talk about what happened today at some point, but I know this has been a trying day by all accounts and it is perfectly understandable if you want to take some time to decompress and think over all that has occurred and maybe if-"
This one word was usually enough to stop his babbling tangents, and it worked satisfyingly again now. He eyed the shape of the cyborg's cellphone in his pants pocket, remembering the broken shards of his own raining down around him, the fragments of his iron composure shattered in the wake of one simple thought spoken aloud for all the world.
He sighed. "Can...we just go to bed? All of...that stuff. Can it just...be a problem for tomorrow's Saitama?"
Gold eyes stared at him unblinkingly as the cyborg reflected over his halting words.
".......yes. Of course, sensei."
They prepared for bed in tense silence.
Saitama grabbed his new striped pajamas (a replacement for the ones destroyed in the Monster Association's recent attack) and pulled them on quickly, trying not to wonder as he did so if Genos' awkward behavior meant that his.....feelings.....also translated to physical attraction. Can cyborgs even be physically attracted to another person? His disciple had behaved a little oddly at his lack of clothing, but did that really mean he'd been checking him out or-
No, he decided quickly, cutting off the thought as swiftly as one of his serious punches. Don't think about that now.
He tried to keep his mind blank as they finished getting ready. The two heroes brushed their teeth together quietly, with only the soft sounds of gargling or spitting breaking the gentle silence that had fallen over their shared living space. They rolled their futons out on the floor, side by side as usual, and slid under their respective covers at the same time.
Genos looked at him for a moment, and then closed his eyes and murmured quietly, "Good night, sensei."
Saitama hesitated before responding, wishing he could punch away the awkwardness coiling between them like an impassable ravine. He reached out his hand unconsciously at the thought, but stopped himself before he had the chance to make a fist.
With a quiet sigh, he closed his eyes as well and opened his mouth to convey the same. "Good night, Ge-"
"Because I was born from genocide."
Oh. He had almost forgotten.
The cyborg did not respond in any way, but Saitama knew he hadn't gone into sleep mode yet - there was no mistaking that quiet hum of the revolving blue core and multiple fans inside his cybernetic frame.
"What's your name?"
At this abrupt question, Genos' eyes opened and re-focused upon his teacher, confusion evident on his smooth features. "S...sensei? I don't understa-"
"Your name. What is it?"
"My...?" Alarm swelled over the young man's tone immediately. "Sensei, are you having trouble with your memories after that woman-"
"I'm asking for your name."
The cyborg froze with a hissed inhale, at last understanding the deeper meaning of his question. Only the quiet whirring sound of his retinas widening and focusing as he analyzed the words betrayed his rapt attention, his irises glinting gold in the fading glow coming through their window.
Long minutes passed in silence as they gazed at each other, the world falling away in the hush of nightfall as soft tendrils of moonlight began to creep across their floor.
".........Kaito," the young cyborg whispered finally, a hushed murmur, quieter than their own breath. "....my name....was Ishikawa Kaito."
Saitama began to move the hand he had reached out with previously, slowly edging across the floor while continuing to hold his disciple's eyes, at last bridging the silent divide between them. Those shining gold irises faltered, glancing down at the hand moving across the floor, then darted back up to focus upon his face. Uncertainty flooded his otherworldly sclera for a moment, and then the cyborg quietly reached out as well.
Their hands met in the middle distance between them, at first tentative and hesitant, then slowly gaining confidence in the connection as their knuckles intertwined. Saitama laced their palms together, holding the other's gaze with his own as warmth built between their bonded hands.
"Nice to meet you...Kaito." He felt one side of his lips quirk up slightly, the aching organ in his chest clenching with a quiet, painful joy. "My name was Furukawa Makoto. ....yoroshiku."
The ebony of his disciple's synthetic eyeballs glinted with shimmering liquid that sparked rainbow in the moonlight for but a single moment, and then it was blinked back fiercely. "Yoroshiku."
Saitama found himself smiling, just a little, as he closed his eyes on their tumultuous day.
"Good night, Kaito."
He snorted, eyes slitting open to glare at the cheeky cyborg. "Oi. Lay off the sensei."
Genos flashed a wide, brilliant grin at him (bright, so bright), and then closed his eyes and immediately powered down into sleep mode - effectively ending any sleepy protests. Faint traces of the boyish smile he'd gone to sleep with lingered along the edges of his lips, and Saitama found himself staring at them until his eyelids drooped.
He followed the cyborg into peaceful sleep in this way, with the remnant of a smile on both of their mouths, their fingers entwined gently over the space between their futons.
Saitama had expected to dream of his mother; of blood and tears and broken screams that fractured into wailing sobs of agony and grief. Of houses exploding from the inside, purple skin shuddering with death throes, shattered spines and bloody smiles that faded into a silent, expressionless line under empty eyes.
Instead, he dreamed of their garden; of gentle hands nudging the dirt and tenderly cultivating the plants as they grew; little buds of sunflowers peeking out from dark soil, new fledgling seeds of life. The loud, familiar buzzing of cicadas drowned out the sound of the wind whistling through rustling leaves above their heads, a contented hum in the background as the summer heat seeped warmth into the back of his neck.
She smiled at him gently; beautiful, kind, and radiant as a sunflower. "Have you found it yet? Your answer?"
He found himself looking up, searching out the brilliant rays of sunlight as they fell through the parted leaves and branches entwined above him, connecting across the divide of the sky. Bright light sought out the deep shadows beneath their old willow tree, teasing color out from the shaded garden below.
The world was hued in gold.
"Yes. I found him."
Saitama woke slowly, gradually fading into awareness with long and quiet breaths. It was rare to awaken in such an unhurried way these days; they were so often awoken by the pinging of a distress call or the city's threat level announcements, he had stopped buying alarm clocks altogether. Even if there were no disasters, his cyborg roommate usually woke him promptly before seven with an enthusiastic "Good morning, sensei!" as soon as his sleep mode had finished.
Confused and somewhat delirious with the cobwebs of deep sleep and peaceful dreams, it took him far too long to realize that his fingers were empty.
He stretched out his hand blearily, seeking the warmth from the night before. Grimacing, he forced his eyes open to search out the cyborg so often found at his side.
"Genos?" he croaked, blinking. The word sounded odd in his mouth now. I wonder why...?
A faint clatter from the kitchen made him blink a little more forcefully, and he sat up with an enormous yawn, stretching his arms over his head as high as they could reach. The blankets shifted down to pool around his hips, and he scratched idly at his stomach while waiting for his brain to wake up fully for the day. After several quiet moments contemplating the dust motes floating in front of their uncovered balcony door, turned shimmering and golden in the light of the morning sun, he finally blinked back into awareness and memory.
Yesterday had been...catastrophic, honestly. He hadn’t realized how much he had managed to push away the memories of that awful day that had ruined all chances of happiness in his childhood.
(He didn’t want to remember.)
There was just.....so much. He felt like an entire planet had shifted on its axis in the wake of yesterday’s devastation. Everything had changed. What had once been a gentle, warm breeze morphed into a torrential cyclone that sunk claws into the fabric of his life and wrenched the threads apart, leaving behind fibers so shattered that nothing could ever hope to repair the remains. He was unwoven, undone, immeasurable strength unmade at last.
He didn’t know how to live this way, with his heart broken open, raw and oozing emotion inside his chest like streams of blood, sobbing with every shuddering beat.
"Ah! Good morning, sensei. I made breakfast."
He looked up at the words and felt his lips curl involuntarily in a tiny smile as his disciple rounded the corner of the kitchen entryway and stepped into the living room. "Good morning Geno- ...ah. Kaito."
The cyborg smiled at him shyly, his eyes flicking down to gaze at the bowls clutched in both of his hands. "You don't have to use my old name, sensei."
Saitama’s mouth twisted at the edges. "I'm not going to call you Genocide."
"Gen-? What?" the cyborg blinked at him owlishly in bafflement, then grinned ruefully in realization. "Oh. To be honest, sensei, I stopped thinking of that name as 'genocide' long ago. 'Genos' is the name that my sensei calls me, and all of our friends. It is a good name. I would be honored if you continue to use it."
His fingers twitched in surprise as his heart throbbed, sudden and sharp. Saitama huffed quietly and rubbed at his chest. Would it continue to ache this way from now on? How annoying.
"Sensei? Are you feeling well?"
Saitama hummed noncommittally and slid out of his futon, preparing to roll it up and store it for the day. He could feel Genos' gaze linger on him for a few moments longer, and then the bowls clattered quietly as the blonde set them down on the table for their meal. After storing his futon away, they ate together in silence. The awkwardness from the night before slowly crept back into the space between them, filled with things unsaid and the heavy weight of memories from two lifetimes.
After they had both finished, they lingered at the table in an odd limbo of quiet anticipation, waiting to see what the other would do or say.
Floundering to find something to break the silence, the bald hero finally blurted, "Are you really in love with me?'
He blanched immediately (that's not what I meant to say!!) and stared wide-eyed at the cyborg seated across from him, whom had frozen in unabashed shock. Genos blinked rapidly, lowered his gaze to his hands, then clenched them and sat up straighter. He lifted his jaw and gazed directly into his teacher's eyes, a defiant challenge in every angled line of his body.
"Yes. Yes, I am."
Air snagged in Saitama's throat immediately, an impassable lump preventing any breath from passing through. His chest shuddered with a nameless ache.
Irrationally, he wanted to thank and curse Genos at the same time. He could now feel all the emotions that had been so far out of his reach for endless years, but...god, it hurt. How did people live this way?
"And you, sensei?" Genos asked, hesitation lacing his soft tone. "Is- Is it true that...you, also-?"
"I..." he swallowed. "I don't know."
His student's golden eyes immediately filled with a sharp hurt that was quickly covered by a trembling, forced neutrality. "....I see."
Ah, fuck. He was doing this all wrong.
"No, that's- I don't mean it like that. It's- I think so? I think I am, but...I don't..." he shook his head, clamping his mouth shut firmly and frowning down at their table. After a few brief seconds of silence, he attempted words again. "I don't really know what love feels like, Genos. I've never felt anything like that before. For a long time, I didn't feel emotions at all. And then..."
Saitama looked up slowly, focusing on the cyborg's face. His chest felt sore, like an invisible bruise had stretched over his heart and left to fester into ragged pieces.
"Then I met you."
Genos' expression relaxed minutely, his lips quivering with some unnamed, held-back emotion. His otherworldly eyes filled with a careful, reserved spark of hope.
"I don't...know how to explain it. I thought I would never feel anything ever again, that the price of my strength was the loss of whatever it is that makes us human." He paused, gazing down at one hand as he flexed it, feeling the power that simmered under his skin, tightly leashed at all times. "I didn't realize, at first, that I was already starting to feel again. You brought color...and life...back to me, before I even knew what was happening. I felt irritation, and sadness, and...and even happiness. I had forgotten...what that felt like."
The bald hero glanced up again, dimly registering the way his pulse was beginning to speed up, thrumming nervously in the spaces behind his eyes and eardrums. His disciple's black and gold eyes glinted faintly, the beginning traces of oil seeping out to coat his lashes.
"So...I don't know that this is...that. But I..." He paused, one edge of his mouth quirking up in self-deprecating smile, trying to put words to that nameless something clenching deep within his chest.
("I suppose it's when you find someone that you feel you cannot live without.")
"I want you to stay by my side. I want to turn, and always find you there. I want to eat udon with you. I want to kill monsters with you. I want to go to bed and see your face, and I want to wake up and see your face. I want to go to sales at the supermarket together. I want to always come home with you." He swallowed, trying to open up his throat as it closed around the words. (What is this overflowing feeling...) "Because of you, I was given the chance to meet others. I was moved. I got to discover emotion. The world took on...color, and meaning. Everything you say and do is...so bright, it's blinding. Sometimes I want to squint, or close my eyes and turn away, but you- you opened up the world for me, when I had always thought I couldn't possibly fit, that I didn't know how to be happy. My world was grey, until I met you. And now I -"
Saitama faltered, realizing suddenly that his disciple had silent trails of oil pouring freely down his face, gathering at the lower edges of his jaw and dripping into a small puddle on his lap. "Ah- sorry, I'll get you a towel."
He placed his hands on his knees, pushing down to counterbalance as he gently hefted his body up into a standing position. A silver hand caught the edge of his sleeve and held on tightly, tugging him to a stop as he tried to shuffle past. He glanced down curiously, confused.
Genos stared up at him, his lips clamped together in a trembling frown, framed by twin streams of ebony. "Sen- Sai- ......Makoto." (Saitama's breath caught in his lungs, strangled and throbbing.) "That's...that was beautiful. You are beautiful. I...I always want to be at your side. I promised you, before: I will always follow you, for the rest of my life. I never want to be anywhere else. My home is you.”
They gazed at each other for a long, charged moment, bereft of further words. Saitama eventually tugged his arm out of the cyborg's hold and went to retrieve a towel; after returning to the table, he knelt down in front of Genos and gently framed his face with his hands, covered with the edges of the towel. Golden eyes closed as he rubbed the oil off with firm, yet gentle scrubbing; on a sudden whim, he leaned forward and placed an affectionately chaste kiss on the other's forehead, relishing the texture of his soft golden bangs.
Black eyelashes fluttered open, lifting slowly to reveal the cyborg's amber irises, covered in a thin sheen of translucent, shimmering liquid. The wet strands glinted in the amber light of morning.
"Sensei..." Genos whispered, his voice a low, molten hum.
"Hmm?" he hummed distractedly in response, focusing on the traces of oil refracting into rainbow hues across the cyborg’s skin.
"May I kiss you?"
Saitama jumped in surprise, his fingers spasming so abruptly he accidentally ripped straight through the towel. Ignoring the shredded remains for the moment, he lifted his eyes up to lock with his disciple's own. His heartbeat felt very strange and uneven, tripping over itself at the base of his throat.
"I...you..." he stuttered, blinking twice in astonishment. "You want to...?"
Genos gazed back at him with that same intensity he had always possessed from the very first day they had met, sincerity emanating from his eyes with quiet, steadfast determination. "Yes. I would...very much like to kiss you, Makoto."
He needs to stop saying my name like that, Saitama thought wildly, barely skirting the edge of panic while his expression remained as blank and apathetic as his heart had once been.
Once, he had tried to fit in with the rest of society and attempted kissing with a few people, but that was a very long time ago (and he had never truly understood the appeal of smashing your mouth against someone else’s). He had always supposed that something within him was just broken, fractured and irreparable, unable to comprehend the same feelings and desires the rest of humanity seemed to ease into so naturally.
What if they kissed, and he still felt nothing?
(What if he was just...not really human?)
They stared at each other, one resolute and unyielding in his patient expectance of an answer, the other floundering and hesitant to confirm his own doubts and fears.
"S- ...sure," he answered slowly.
His disciple eyed him for a moment longer, considering. “Are you certain?”
Saitama waited for one heartbeat to pass, then another.
(I don’t know.)
Genos did not move for several more heartbeats, then slowly, carefully, began to shift toward him.
The hero kept very, very still as his student (friend? lover??) gradually leaned closer. Cybernetic hands reached up cautiously, cupping his jawline with such tender care his heartbeat tripped over itself in agonized expectancy. Genos drifted closer, filling his world with a myriad of golden hues. A gentle huff of breath ghosted over lips frozen slack in shock, dragging a shiver down the edge of his spine to pool molten heat in his gut. His muscles tensed in flinching anticipation, waiting for that first moment of contact with a yawning void of anxiety churning deep inside him, coaxing him into trembling, frozen dread.
"...breathe, sensei," Genos murmured softly. They were so close by now that Saitama could feel the smile curving up the corners of his disciple’s lips rather than see it, each movement as his mouth coiled around those two simple words brushing the tiny sliver of air between them and sending electricity skittering down his tightly clenched muscles.
Saitama’s mouth trembled as a tiny amount of irritation flared up inside him (why was he the only one affected by this tidal wave of nervousness??); but just as quickly as it had come, it immediately faded into warm, giddy affection as his gaze focused upon the anxious widening of Genos’ cybernetic pupils. He realized suddenly that the other male was just as overwhelmed; evident by the frantic refocusing of his golden irises and the swift whirring of his core, casting both of their skin into shades of iridescent blue, lit from below. Despite the anxious longing reflecting in that otherworldly gaze, still the cyborg remained a fraction of a breath away, watching across the tiny space between them, waiting for that final assurance that his actions were not unwanted.
He smiled back, just a little, feeling the tension shuddering through his frame relax with each wild twirl of that azure light. It's just Genos, he assured himself silently, staring into the gold and black eyes he’d become so familiar with over the last year. The same person whom had seen the worst of him and yet remained at his side, steadfastly loyal and affectionate.
Even if his fears were proven true and he couldn’t share the same desires or feelings...
Genos wouldn’t leave him.
With this thought held firm in his mind, Saitama tilted his head ever so slightly, closed his eyelids, and broached that final breadth of distance between them, gently fitting their lips together at last.
Despite being the one to initiate contact, the easy touch of their mouths against each other sent shockwaves of electricity skidding down his chest, pooling giddy warmth within his gut. They touched lips together with careful hesitance at first, gradually easing into cautious movements that slowly gained confidence with each serene caress against each other as neither male pushed the other away.
It had been so long since he’d felt such tender and intimate physical contact with another person; the shock of it urged his mouth open on a gasping inhale that fitted their mouths together even more closely. The cyborg made a contented hum of surprise deep within his throat, breathing out into the shared space between them, dragging tension and heat across his shoulder-blades like the pinpricks of tiny claws.
Saitama wasn’t entirely certain how he felt, in this moment. A part of him was occupied with a bemused, distracted focus upon the odd softness of his student’s cybernetic skin (what was he made of??). Though there was no discernible taste to the fake skin beneath his mouth, and the texture made the inhuman composition of his counterpart immediately apparent, each drag and slide of their mouths against each other was soft and gentle, tripping warmth across his veins. Nothing made of metal bones and bolts should feel that soft, and yet he felt no resistance or coldness against the hesitant brush of his lips.
The other half of his mind was focused solely upon his remaining senses: the beating of his own heart, speeding up and tripping over itself with insistent urgency as their mouths continued to brush together with aching gentleness, thumping louder than he had ever heard it, shuddering at the base of his throat and reverberating against the inside of his eardrums; the soft, gasping friction of their mouths fitting against each other, gentle wet sounds breaking the silence surrounding their intermingled air.
Metallic fingers shifted against the line of his jaw, tilting his head down just slightly so their foreheads could touch once more. Their panting breaths collided in the tiny space between them, skidding heat and contented joy down the edges of his spine.
“Is this okay?” Genos murmured breathlessly against him, the shape of each word bringing their mouths into brief contact and sending shivers through them both.
Saitama only hummed in response, feeling oddly drunk on the intensity of this shared intimacy. He did not experience the explosion of sheer lust that others in his past had spoken of (and which he had privately wondered at the absence of in himself), but his past attempts hadn’t prepared him to expect this gentle passion shared between two people who cared for each other, either. The tumbling fog of random thoughts in his head had quieted, replaced by a heady, tingling warmth shimmering like sunlight through his veins.
He felt content...warm, understood, wanted.
Maybe...he could feel like this every day?
Maybe the resurgence of his emotions wasn’t as terrible as he had thought?
Maybe, just maybe...this was okay.
Tilting his head once more, he pushed his lips up against the cyborg’s pale ones and breathed out softly against them, eyes hooded and unfocused. Genos shuddered visibly and huffed a low groan out of his straining voice box, pressing against him firmly with more urgency than before.
With no small amount of surprise, Saitama jolted as a synthetic tongue tentatively slid between his open lips. He froze momentarily, eyes widening as he refocused his wandering gaze upon the shining pupils in front of him. Genos returned his look calmly, eyelids hooded and gaze simmering molten gold, reaching out again with his tongue to stroke against his own with cautious gentleness. His eyes seemed to ask for permission and oozed reassurance at the same time. Saitama gave a mental shrug, closed his eyes, and deliberately relaxed muscles that had tensed at the new form of contact between them.
The metal fingers cupping his lower jaw pressed insistently, tilting his head a little more to the side, deepening the angle of their kiss. He met the other with shy hesitance, fumbling to extend his tongue forward to brush softly against the foreign one inside his own mouth. They slid against each other with a wet, easy glide and, to his bafflement, tasted slightly of spearmint and artificial sugar. He hummed in curiosity and pushed closer, chasing the sweet taste and lapping up more with every swipe of his tongue.
A deep, throaty sound reverberated up from the cyborg’s vocal cords, shuddering through their combined lips and vibrating across the surface of his mouth. Saitama flinched back in startled surprise as a bolt of heat and raw, desperate want lanced through his frame, culminating in a full-body shudder. He gasped and winced at the force of it, clutching at the shredded remains of cloth still tangled around his fingers as if they could somehow steady his bewildered confusion.
I've....never felt that before. What...?
"Sensei? Are you alright?"
Genos lurched closer and frantically scanned his face with both eyes. "Did I hurt you? Was that too far? Are-"
"I'm okay," Saitama reassured his disciple quickly to stave off any panicked babbling. "It was just..."
He hesitated, unsure how to form the contradictory gaggle of emotions churning in his guts into words. Lamely, he stuttered out a soft: "Just...a lot."
His student relaxed visibly, posture sagging a little in evident relief. "Too much at one time? Yes, I understand. I'm sorry, sensei."
Saitama smiled softly at the cyborg, reaching out to place a comforting hand on top of those silken blonde strands. "Genos, it's okay. I...didn't dislike it."
Gold eyes snapped up quickly to stare at him in hopeful, nearly childish delight. "Really?!"
A weird, fluttery emotion coiled behind his ribcage like a panicking bird. Was it normal for his cheeks to feel so warm and...oddly tight?
He hummed in response, absently pondering the strange heat that slithered beneath his skin. "Mhm. I enjoyed it. We can...do it again, sometime."
Genos stared at him, awestruck. "Sensei...you're -- ...you're blushing."
Blinking in surprise, the hero raised one hand and poked at his cheek tentatively. “Interesting.”
When was the last time he’d felt like this? (Had he ever felt like this?) Everything felt so... new, and strange. Like he had missed a step while climbing a flight of stairs, but instead of catching himself on the railing, he just kept falling down more steps. All the emotions he'd been unable to feel (or, perhaps, suppressed?) for so long clambered over each other like newborn kittens, yowling loudly for his attention, so that it was hard to focus on just one feeling at any given moment. In the space between his sternum where once before had been a yawning void of apathy, now resided a jumbled mess of joy, contentment, unease, nervousness, and curiosity; too intense to be anything other than painful.
Yet still, he wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.
He hummed thoughtfully, leaning forward to press their foreheads together once more, and simply breathed.
How to put this feeling into words?
"Genos..." he murmured, gazing unfocused at the golden strands before his eyes. "...stay with me."
The young cyborg's smile was audible in his reply.
"Always, sensei. I'm yours."
"T-too much..." he mumbled, pitching forward so his face was hidden in the crook of the cyborg's neck. His cheeks ached again with that strange, phantom burning sensation.
The cybernetic body beneath him shook slightly with a quiet rumbling chuckle, much like the purring of a cat or an idle engine. Genos shifted then, lifting his right arm to curl up and around his back securely; the other arm snuck upwards from his opposite side, smooth fingers sliding gently across the nape of his neck before cupping firmly. The touch sent light sparks fluttering down the length of his spine, making him shiver even as he leaned into the hold, grounding him in the quiet, contented silence of their gentle morning.
They stayed that way for long, endless minutes; simply basking in their shared peace as they breathed the same air.
Eventually, Saitama shifted in the cyborg's hold, eyes gliding lazily across the dust motes dancing in the sunbeams coming in through their window. "What happens now?"
Genos hummed thoughtfully. "We have not received a summons from the Association yet, to my knowledge; so I am uncertain as to whether our presence will be required for official hero duties today."
Sighing, the bald hero straightened upwards out of their peaceful embrace. "Well I broke my phone, so I wouldn't know even if they did summon me. Is there anything on our door again?"
"You- ..." Genos blinked owlishly at him. "How did you break...?"
Saitama looked away and scratched his cheek, slightly embarrassed. "...lost control of my strength."
This was not an unusual occurrence for the bald hero, as many an alarm clock and other assorted furniture had been casualties of his unthinking strength, so Genos accepted this easily with a brief nod and turned to locate his own phone to check for any missed messages from the Hero Association. Whilst he did so, Saitama gathered their abandoned dishes from breakfast and transported them to the kitchen for washing.
He scratched idly at the back of his calf with one foot as he worked, staring at the water flowing in gentle rivulets over his hands as they gently scrubbed and cleansed. It had always been easy for him to disassociate while focusing on any given task, even as a child, and he found himself again slipping readily into that deeply quiet headspace that was so familiar to him. Distantly, he felt his shoulders loosen and release tension inherited from the previous day, an anxious weight he hadn’t even realized he was still carrying. Breathing deeply in the stillness, he distractedly turned off the faucet and drifted over to the cleaned dishes, drying them slowly and methodically.
With an unhurried blink, Saitama turned his focus inward and began to unravel the tangle of memories and emotions from the night before. Hearing that Genos was in love with him had shattered the barrier he’d previously thought so impenetrable, causing all of his muted emotions to rise instantly to the surface and overflow into all the empty spaces between. Though Saitama had already been slowly regaining his ability to experience emotion ever since the cyborg inserted himself forcibly into the hero’s empty existence (a realization that still surprised him even now), yesterday had broken open the tiny crack within his soul and turned that gradual trickle of feeling into a flood of intensity. Talking with the cyborg this morning had centered him, their long peaceful embrace grounding him, and now he had finally begun to feel as though the shattered structure of his inner self was rebuilding its mental foundations. Though the breadth of his unbound emotions still felt overwhelming at times, he no longer felt as though he were drowning beneath their weight.
Smiling softly, Saitama blinked back to awareness and gazed in surprise at the empty counter before him. Normally Genos would find him and break through his deep reveries, or at the very least interrupt his attempts at cleaning with a precocious demand to take over as his disciple, so it was rather odd that he had been left to his own quiet devices for so long. Humming with an inquisitive tilt of his head, the hero turned swiftly and headed back towards their main living area, seeking out the north star to his quietly thumping heart.
He paused in the doorway upon seeing the cyborg curled over his phone, gaze intent and speed-reading through whatever contents held his attention so thoroughly. Saitama grinned slightly at the other hero’s hyper-focus, absent-mindedly admiring the way his metallic arms refracted the sunbeams pouring through their window into a kaleidoscope of warm amber gold and crimson hues upon the bare walls of their apartment. He shuffled over to the crouched hero and plopped down beside him, hooking his chin over one bulging metal shoulder. “Oi, Genos - whatcha looking at?”
The cyborg jolted in surprise, guiltily fumbling his phone and then turning to gaze shyly at his sensei out of the corner of one eye. “Um...”
Oh, now he was definitely interested.
”Hmmmm?” he smirked gleefully, peering down at the screen below them in order to glean the contents.
The screen displayed what appeared to be a thread from the official hero forums, one of the multitudes that were posted every single day, which Saitama usually cast hardly even a single glance over. The one that had ensnared his disciple’s attention displayed “DemonCape: I Ship It!!” in bold letters at the top of the screen; an odd title to be sure (and when exactly had ‘ship’ become a verb?), but what caught Saitama’s eyes more than anything else on the page was a very high quality image of none other than the two of them, standing in each other’s personal space, one metallic hand curled tenderly around the bald hero’s tear-stained cheek.
Heat rose in his cheeks and curled warmly around the tops of his ears. “G-Genos...” he protested weakly.
The cyborg ducked his head shyly. “My apologies, sensei. It’s just... well, the world knows who you are now. They have finally acknowledged your strength, and we are currently a viral trending topic worldwide.”
Saitama wasn’t entirely certain what ‘viral trending topic’ meant, but he could guess at the meaning easily enough. “You mean people all over the world are interested in our... uh, relationship? That’s creepy.”
Steam puffed quietly out of Genos’ arms at the word ‘relationship’ (which, cute), but then the cyborg huffed in gentle admonishment. “Sensei, you’re finally gaining the recognition and admiration you deserved from the beginning. I think this is wonderful. It should have happened long ago.”
The older hero gazed at his disciple thoughtfully for a moment, then shifted away with a small lopsided smile. “I don’t need their admiration. The only thing I ever desired... it turns out I already had.”
Genos went rigid in startled surprise, then turned to regard Saitama closely. “...sensei...”
He knocked one shoulder against the younger hero’s bulky frame, then stood and stretched languidly. “Come on, Genos. There’s supposed to be a good sale at the market today. If we get a good enough deal, maybe we can splurge on some udon.”
”Oi, lay off the sensei already.”
They still had many things to talk about, of course.
Some of the memories they had seen from each other’s lives would need to be acknowledged and discussed, even if only briefly. There would be many awkward, halting attempts at trying to fold their budding relationship into a new shape; both of them slowly and gently testing the remade rules of their shared existence, discovering all the new and surprising ways in which they fit together, as well as all the ways in which they did not (though there weren’t many). Together, they discovered how to stay in love despite the hardships and hurdles that came with such a deep relationship.
Saitama’s apathy was not fully cured, as this was not a condition that could be overcome in one instant. There were days of empty staring and muted energy from the bald hero, whilst his cyborg partner earnestly and ceaselessly tried to break through that invisible barrier. Gradually, these frustrating days grew to be less and less frequent; and eventually they learned ways to recognize the early signs and take steps to lessen the impact before it could even begin.
Genos did finally find the source of his tragic past. They ended the mad cyborg and its creator as they did all things: together.
The Hero Association continued to gain in strength and rebuild itself from the fractured state Garou had left it in. Though monsters never disappeared entirely, they devised new ways to combat such creatures and prevent further devastation before the heroes could arrive.
Immediately after their pasts were revealed to the public, Saitama gained a very fervent and passionately devoted fanclub. Through their combined protests and efforts, Caped Baldy was renamed “One Punch Man” - a title that embarrassed Saitama to no end, but which Genos absolutely adored. Eventually the two of them had a minor argument over the endless accumulation of hero merchandise that slowly began to take over their living space, and Genos sulkily consented to downsizing his excessive collection.
Six months after the very public realizations of their feelings for each other, Saitama grew comfortable enough with his renewed emotions to tell Genos directly. (They both cried.)
Three months after that, they made love for the first time. (And Saitama realized that he was, in fact, capable of desire - he simply hadn’t found the right type of connection before.)
They continued living as they always had: together, orbiting each other like twin stars. And, eventually, when it was time for them to go at the end of their days, they did that together as well.
Saitama never did manage to convince Genos to stop calling him sensei.
Genos pretended not to know how much his hero secretly loved it.