Costello rolls his shoulders and shifts in a fluid movement that he definitely practised for the drama. He comes out of it blond and stocky and Shinsou squints at him, but doesn’t hesitate.
“Who, exactly, is that meant to be?”
Costello remembers Ojiro and Aoyama’s warning, but his quirk requires verbal instruction, so he braces himself and opens his mouth.
He gets cut off by Shinsou’s brainwashing. He is instructed to cancel his quirk, turn around, and walk out of the arena.
“You know, it’s kind of disappointing. You hero course students are hyped up by everyone, and yet you’re so reliant on your quirk you didn’t even consider using any other form of attack. I guess that’s what happens when you’re blessed, when you can use your quirk at will, when you get the luxury of treating it like an extra limb rather than something to be avoided.”
High up in the announcer’s box, Mic sucks in a breath. Aizawa glances at him, eyes catching on the paper-thin scars where a mask once sat. He reaches over and squeezes his husband’s hand, getting a flicker of a smile in return. Costello’s movements have slowed as if he’s trying to fight the brainwashing, but Shinsou keeps talking.
“I could so easily be a villain, everyone’s always told me so, but I decided to be a hero instead. And what happened? I got rejected. UA pitted me against giant robots and rejected me when I couldn’t brainwash them.” Shinsou hesitates. “But I’m still trying. So just...hurry up and lose.”
Costello does so and immediately whirls around as the control breaks. Midnight announces Shinsou as the winner, but before she can even finish talking, Costello is racing back over to Shinsou.
“Oh my god! That was so cool! Well not the vent-y monologue thing, that sounded like it sucks, but like your quirk is so cool! Ooh, you have to meet Midoriya!” He grabs Shinsou’s arm and pulls him towards the waiting rooms. Shinsou is too baffled to do anything but follow. “He’s going to have a field day with your quirk, he really loves looking at non-physical quirks, says they’re more versatile or something -he really hates that there are so few of us in the hero course for him to analyse. Fair warning, he’s probably going to do a lot of theorising before he lets you talk at all, and he’s definitely going to compare our quirks a lot, but-”
“Wait, what?” Shinsou stops walking. Costello lets him now that they’re in one of the corridors.
“Why would he compare our quirks?”
“You don’t know what my quirk is, do you?”
“Isn’t it some sort of shapeshifting thing? You shapeshifted at the start of the match.”
Costello laughs a little.
“Yeah, uh, sort of? It’s called Allure. I shapeshift into someone the target desires or would desire, and then I have a form of mind control over them. You’re apparently into blonde guys by the way.”
Shinsou stares at him. For an uncomfortably long time.
“...How the hell did you get onto the hero course?”
That wasn’t what Costello was expecting, but really it should have been given Shinsou’s whole speech. In Costello’s defence he wasn’t actually listening much over the brainwashing.
“Uh, I have a cousin who failed the exam a while back, and she said that they also give points for rescues, so I mainly focused on helping other entrants. Also a couple of the robots had really obvious off buttons that I could reach, so. But really it was a family thing, I barely even used my quirk the entire time which sucked.” Costello grimaces. “Anyway, I’m going to introduce you to Midoriya, he’s probably dying to meet you.”
True to his word, when they enter the seating area Midoriya is almost immediately in front of them with a notebook.
“Hi, I’m Midoriya Izuku, I’m this lot’s TA-” He gestures vaguely to the 1-A students sitting in the nearby seats “-and I have some questions about your quirk and general aspirations. No pressure, but I’m probably going to talk to Aizawa about you, given the whole hero thing. He’ll definitely want to talk to you about that. But for now, what can you tell me about your quirk -it’s a type of brainwashing, right?”
Shinsou takes a moment to process that there was a question in there. He doesn’t make eye contact when he answers, and that definitely goes in the scribbled notes that Izuku makes.
“Uh, yeah, it’s brainwashing. If someone verbally responds to me I get total control over them. I can make them do most things, but anything requiring complex thought or whatever is off the table.”
“Nice! How many can you control at once, I know that Costello can only control one person at a time, but both Ojiro and Aoyama said you brainwashed them and there was that kid from 1-B who dropped out?”
Shinsou looks slightly taken aback.
“Yeah I, uh, three is, three is about my limit. More than that and I get a headache and my control wavers and stuff.”
Somewhere below them in the arena, Aoyama is losing to Sero, but Izuku can watch the 1-A students fight each other whenever, learning about Shinsou is much more time-sensitive.
And so the final part of the sports festival passes. Iida pretty much gets used as an advert by Hatsume for about ten minutes before she neatly walks out of the ring and bows to the audience. Mina does her best, but she’s pitted against Todoroki so no-one’s surprised when she loses. Kaminari gets absolutely destroyed by Shiozaki and only gets more fake-angry about it when Iida neatly avoids her vines and charges her out of the ring.
Kirishima manages to befriend his opponent, which surprises exactly no-one.
Todoroki wins against Iida in the semi-final. Then Shinsou is pitted against Bakugou.
Bakugou is well aware of Shinsou’s quirk. He’s used it in both previous rounds (despite Sero’s best attempts) and he definitely overheard Midoriya’s conversation with Shinsou earlier. So Shinsou isn’t surprised when Bakugou comes flying at him with his mouth pressed tightly closed. But, though Shinsou isn’t exactly physically great, he has good enough reactions to dodge.
“Hey Katsuki! When I beat you, do you think they’ll let me replace you on the hero course?” Bakugou doesn’t rise to the easy bait. Shinsou isn’t surprised. He is slightly winded when Bakugou lands a glancing blow on his ribs, but Shinsou skips backward and sideways and glances behind him to gauge how close he is to getting knocked out of bounds.
“Wow, was that the best you’ve got?” Still no verbal response, though Bakugou does turn to face him again.
“I expected more from the top hero course student, especially after that speech you gave earlier, what was it?” he twists his voice into something mocking before continuing. “’You’ll all make great stepping stones’ that’s quite a claim, don’t you think?”
Bakugou swings at him again, and it’s pure chance that he isn’t blasted out of bounds. Shinsou peels himself off the floor and forces himself to move further into the ring even though every movement hurts now. He’s running out of time. One more hit like that and he’ll either be out or forced to yield. But he doesn’t know what to say to push Bakugou’s buttons...unless. It’s going to be a ridiculous gamble that’s either very worth it or very painful. But it’s not like he has any better ideas. Especially since Bakugou is barrelling towards him.
“Just what is your history with Midoriya?”
“Fuc-” Shinsou grins. Gotcha. Bakugou walks calmly out of the ring and Shinsou lets himself sink to his knees. Bakugou whirls around as soon as he’s released from Shinsou’s brainwashing, but is waved away by the paramedics who rush to tend to Shinsou’s burns. There is a necessary short break while Shinsou is healed.
Izuku uses said break to check on Todoroki. He’s been resolutely avoiding using his fire all year, and his therapist has expressed concern over his general unwillingness to talk about, well, anything. Izuku gets sidetracked when he finds Endeavour wandering the corridors, clearly looking for Todoroki. Todoroki may not talk about his home life, but Aizawa’s own investigation is enough for Izuku to know to keep Endeavour as far away from Todoroki as possible.
“Sir, you cannot be back here, this is the area for the students, not for the guests.” For all his anxiety, Izuku manages a good approximation of uncaring but firm. And unaware. It pisses Endeavour off, which was after all the intention. He still pretends to be civil.
“I was looking for my son. He’s competing.”
“I’m sorry sir, but even if I could verify that, only members of UA staff are allowed to interact with the students during the competition. It’s a safety measure.” Not entirely true. “I can, however, take a message if you would like?” Absolute bullshit.
Endeavour doesn’t look happy, but Izuku does actually have the power to have him removed from the event entirely, and he seems to realise this. He leaves a message with Izuku -full of far too many thinly veiled threats than Izuku would like or expect. Izuku doesn’t bother attempting to relay it, instead walks Endeavour back to public area and resolves to have a talk with Todoroki later.
Just like all of Shinsou’s matches, the final is almost painfully short. But this time it’s because Todoroki can keep his mouth shut. Shinsou is running himself ragged very quickly just avoiding Todoroki’s ice blasts.
“So is there a reason, you haven’t been using your fire or-” It definitely catches Todoroki off-guard. Unfortunately for Shinsou, his response is to send a huge wall of ice crashing into him and knocking him out of bounds, rather than respond verbally. The match is called. Shinsou doesn’t bother trying to sit up, his everything hurts, but he does at least roll over so there isn’t a piece of ice digging into his back. The medics will fix him, it’s fine. He’s slightly disappointed that he didn’t take first, but coming second in the sports festival and beating one of the top hero course students to get there will definitely be good for his bid to join the hero course.
Both Izuku and Aizawa note Todoroki’s reaction to Shinsou.
Bakugou fumes from the third place podium, and Shinsou doesn’t bother hiding his smug smile from the second place podium. Todoroki simply stares blankly. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it, but he avoids looking anywhere near his father.
The first year sports festival is over.