“Come in, come in, Aizawa-sensei! I was just about to make a fresh pot of tea.”
Nedzu, in Aizawa’s opinion, sounded far too cheery for the early hour of the morning. Aizawa himself had spent a sleepless night staring at his ceiling, sleep refusing to cooperate as he cycled through the training menus he had planned for his youngest student. The fact that Nedzu’s greeting came in the same chipper tone as always when he knew Aizawa wouldn’t like anything he had to say in this little meeting made his already somber mood that much darker.
“I’m not here for tea, Nedzu-san.”
In a testament to why he was chosen as Yuuei’s principal, Nedzu ignored the teacher’s gruff tone, waving a hand to the chair in front of him. “Nonsense. Discussions as important as this are best had with a warm drink in hand. Take a seat. It will only be a moment.”
Aizawa didn’t move, watching as Nedzu poured slowly poured two steaming cups and placed one in front of the empty chair.
“Aizawa-sensei. Don’t make this more difficult than it needs to be, please,” Nedzu said, voice still upbeat despite the undercurrent of steel that rang through his words. “Let’s have a cup of tea, and I’ll answer your questions. It’s even caffeinated this morning. Just for you.”
“I’ll pass. Thank you.” Arms crossed, Aizawa leaned back against the wall. He had no time to humor Nedzu with pleasantries this morning, and his lack of sleep ate away at the small amount of patience he had to spare. He came to see the principal to discuss whatever challenge he had prepared to throw at Midoriya, and he would not be distracted by Nedzu’s games before he got the answers he wanted.
Nedzu shrugged, still unbothered by the obvious hostility. “Suit yourself. As i said in my message, there has been more pushback than usual from your last group of expulsion.”
“What kind of pushback?” Students had complained about expulsions in the past, but Nedzu had never made a big deal about it before. Complaints usually came from the embarrassment of having to face the fact that they didn’t take the program as seriously as they should have. Unfortunate, but nothing that required Aizawa to give any kind of response.
“I’m afraid that it somehow got out to the parents of these students that you have been mentoring someone outside of Yuuei. They are accusing you of not taking your teaching duties here as a result.” Yes, Nedzu sounded far too pleasant for someone whose school integrity was being put under question.
Nedzu shrugged. “The paperwork has all been officially filed. It’s a matter of public record now for anyone who felt the need to check.” He glanced down at his desk, holding up a piece of paper. “I believe one of the students in question has a parent who works in the Quirk Regulation office. They must have seen the file while it was being processed.”
Aizawa’s eyes narrowed. A logical explanation. One that Aizawa couldn’t question.
“And?” Again, Aizawa couldn’t see what made this case different from the others. He hadn’t neglected his students. All training sessions were recorded for review by the other pro heroes on the staff and in order for Yuuei to maintain their accreditation. A simple look at the film should be enough to refute the parents’ claims of any failings on his part. “I don’t see why Midoriya needs to be involved in this.” Other than the fact that Nedzu seemed to be looking for a reason to throw his student in a fight two years too early.
Picking up his cup, Nedzu didn’t answer immediately. Aizawa’s already short patience frayed further as the seconds ticked by, but he kept a tight lid on his frustration. He had panicked when Midoriya had been taken and had rushed in without thinking, without planning. He had assumed his reaction had been because of the immediate danger. In all the planning he did he never considered that Midoriya might be dragged into a fight before he entered Yuuei.
Yet here he was, about to lose his head again.
Nedzu hummed over his tea. “There are standards we have to meet as a school with a certified hero course, as you know, Aizawa-sensei. And we are very good at making sure that we adhere to all necessary safety protocols while still giving our students the best training possible to prepare them for the harsh reality of work as a pro hero. It’s a very hard balance to find. An almost impossible line to walk. Our ability to do so year after year is the reason we are recognized as the top school in the country.”
“Yes.” His response fell flat, and Nedzu sighed. Aizawa wished he would just get to the point. There were times for Nedzu’s games, but now wasn’t it. Aizawa wasn’t a parent or one of the idiotic pro heroes who believed they could take advantage of him because he sat in an office all day. Nedzu should at least have the decency to not ramble on when Aizawa could have still been trying to sleep.
“I trust your judgement when it comes your students,” Nedzu continued on, hands gripping his cup. “I saw something in Midoriya during our brief meeting that makes me believe that you are right to think that he will become a great hero one day. But others won’t see it that way.”
“Because he’s quirkless,” Aizawa said. Because it always came back to that. No matter how much Midoriya did, no matter how many things he accomplished people would always loop back around to that unimportant detail.
Midoriya hadn’t been concerned when Aizawa had brought up the ridicule his student would likely face for trying for Yuuei without a quirk. At the time he had thought he simply wasn’t bothered by what people said, but he hadn’t know him very well then. The confidence Midoriya had shown in coming his apartment had fooled him into thinking those insults had no effect on him. Enough time had passed that Aizawa knew that wasn’t the case. His student was strong in so many ways, but the weight of those words day after day for years had worn away at a lot of Midoriya’s belief in himself.
He had only just started to regain that trust in himself. Aizawa wouldn’t let Nedzu destroy what progress he had made because of a test.
“Don’t glare at me like that, Aizawa-sensei,” Nedzu’s response came sharply. “Do you think I don’t know how it feels to have the whole world against your success? That’s why this test is necessary. Now. While the situation is still under my control.”
“So you admit this is just a test for Midoriya then? There would be no issue with these students otherwise?” Aizawa asked.
Nedzu rolled his eyes. “Maybe I shouldn’t have scheduled this meeting for so early. Yes. It’s a test. And do you know why? I had to make an additional slot of Midoriya because the recommendation students have already been selected. That has never been done before, and people notice things like that.. All of that public record paperwork I talked about a moment ago? How many calls do you think I’ve already gotten telling me I forgot to include his quirk?”
“The demonstration at the end of his third year should be enough to prove he has the skills to back up this decision. He doesn’t need to fight against students who will do everything they can to bring him down because they’ve already thrown away their shots.” Aizawa argued.
“I’m saying that it’s not enough. The other recommendation students have already proven themselves to heroes besides their sponsors. They’ve shown why they deserve to be at Yuuei. Now it’s Midoriya’s turn.”
“Keeping himself and a classmate safe when they were kidnapped isn’t proof enough?”
“Young Bakugou used his quirk wasn’t he wasn’t authorized, and Midoriya’s actions led to one of the kidnappers having to seek medical attention. While the argument can be made that they did it in self defense, the issue has been swept under the rug for the moment. If you want to use that incident to support his right to a recommendation, go right ahead. But I’m afraid it may result in Midoriya’s friend being questioned for his actions.”
Aizawa dug his nails into the palms of his hands. Bakugou may have made mistakes, but did he really deserve to be hauled into a police station for questioning when he had already been through so much because of that event? Would Midoriya accept avoiding this fight if it meant that Bakugou might suffer for it?
Of course he wouldn’t, because despite everything Bakugou had done to him, Midoriya still wanted- maybe not to be his friend, but to not be on bad terms with him.
“You have an answer for everything, don’t you, Nedzu-san.”
“That is my job.”
Aizawa barely held back a sigh. “There’s nothing I can say that will change your mind?”
“Nothing.” Came the immediate response.
“The details of this test then?” He may not be able to get Midoriya out of it, but he could at least prepare him for what was coming.
“They will be given beforehand, and don’t worry. Your ex students will not be given any additional information either. The test will be held this Saturday night, so you’ll have a few days to prepare.” Nedzu said. “We wouldn’t want to distract young Midoriya from his studies. He does still have to pass the academic exam, after all.”
There was something in Nedzu’s voice that didn’t sound quite right to Aizawa. A layer under the cheerfulness and nonchalance in his words as he his a smile behind his cup.
“That isn’t all this is about though, is it?” Aizawa asked, pushing off the wall and stepping closer. “What are you planning?”
“I see that you are awake after all.”
“I have plans for every student at Yuuei I think can make a real difference. I believe Midoriya is one such student.” Nedzu interrupted. “I will remind you though, that while you are a trusted teacher here, I am still the principal, Aizawa-sensei. Trust that I know what I am doing.”
Aizawa huffed, but didn’t argue further. Nothing he did would get Nedzu to budge on his position. The best thing he could do was make sure that Midoriya was ready for whatever challenge the principal had planned. “I will let Midoriya know,” he said starting to the door.
“I appreciate your cooperation. Also! One last little detail.” Nedzu called out. Aizawa froze in the doorway, head turning back slowly towards the desk. “Because this test is to prove that there was no mistake made in offering Midoriya a recommendation spot, should he not pass I’m afraid his admittance will be revoked. Please make sure that he understands the importance of this exercise.”
“Whoa, Shouta. What’s wrong?”
Aizawa had stormed out of Nedzu’s office, his expression frightening the principal’s poor secretary when she tried to speak to him on his way out. He would make time to apologize to her for later, but for the moment he needed to find a place to be alone so he could calm down.
Most days, Aizawa enjoyed his talks with Nedzu. The man was intelligent, cunning. He understood the importance of thinking before acting. Sometimes Aizawa wouldn’t even mind the mental games the principal played, looking at them as a challenge. A mental exercise he needed from time to time.
Now though, their entire conversation put him on edge.
He could only imagine what his expression looked like as he stalked through the hallway in search of his office. Saturday. That only gave them a week for Midoriya to prepare. A week when they were supposed to have two years. Granted, these were only first year students who had been expelled, but Midoriya had only been officially training for little over a month, and now his entire future at Yuuei was riding on a test Aizawa knew nothing about.
Aizawa felt ready to turn back, to give in to the irrational urge to tell Nedzu what he really thought of this test and his plan, when Hizashi exited the classroom in front of him. He had started to wave when he saw his friend, but his smile dropped when he noticed the anger etched in Aizawa’s face.
Hizashi. Aizawa may be too angry with Nedzu at the moment to think through things clearly- and he would have to examine that carefully later-but Hizashi cared about Midoriya too. He would be more than willing to help him make sure Midoriya was prepared for whatever Nedzu planned to throw at him.
“Are you free tomorrow afternoon?” Aizawa asked.
“Uh-I-Yes?” Hizashi stammered, caught off guard by the question. He leaned forward, creeping into Aizawa’s space to get a better look at his expression. “Is everything okay, Shouta? You look a little red.”
“Midoriya needs some extra help. Care to join our training session?”
Bakugou continued to run long after school ended and clubs were dismissed. The sun had already started to slip down beyond the horizon, but he still didn’t stop. His mother would worry if he didn’t head home soon, but he couldn’t care less about that in the moment. Adrenaline burned through his veins, lungs protesting every breath. He knew he should go home. Should eat dinner. Do the mountain of homework he had been avoiding.
Instead he kept running.
Exercise of any kind always cleared his head, but running especially seemed to help him focus. The extra mental effort it took to keep his quirk in check as he ran reminded him of just how strong he was. Whatever other problems he had were nothing in comparison to that. An hour of running had never failed to solve his immediate problems in the past, but he was already pushing three and nothing seemed to be working as it should.
Stupid fucking pro heroes and their just as stupid advice.
Bakugou should have ignored him. Moved on. And yet here he was still agonizing over what Aizawa could have meant. “Think about the power he had had over Deku and how he had used it.” What did that even mean?
The first part was easy enough to understand. Bakugou had the kind of quirk wannabe heroes dreamed about while Deku was Deku. Quirkless. Useless in a fight. Deku. It was obvious that Bakugou would have power over him. He had power over all of the losers in his class, didn’t he? Deku wasn’t special in that regard.
Think about how he had used that power...That was the comment that had Bakugou stuck. What the hell had Aizawa meant by that? He hadn’t used his strength in any way that wasn’t acceptable. It was the same situation with the nickname. Aizawa had hated him calling Izuku “Deku,” but no one had ever corrected him for it before now.
No one had ever said anything to Bakugou about the way he behaved either. No one but Aizawa. That had to mean something didn’t it? Everyone who had been a witness to their relationship over the years had remained silent. That meant that Aizawa was the one in the wrong. It had to. One voice in a decade of silence.
Bakugou started another loop around campus.
A few words and a fight with a pro hero. That was all it had taken to unsettle him. He needed answers, and it didn’t seem like he was going to be able to find them on his own. Aizawa, the source of all this terrible choking doubt, wasn’t an option. Bakugou couldn’t trust his view given the situation. Likewise, he couldn’t ask any of his teachers. Even if he felt comfortable sharing this bullshit with them, Aizawa’s words had made it so that he couldn’t trust anything they said either. Who did that leave? His mother? Bakugou snorted at the thought.
There was one person he could ask though. One person who knew enough about him to understand what Aizawa had been talking about. One person he could trust to not lie to him.
But did he really want to go that far?
Yes. Yes, he did. Because the longer these questions ate at him the more frustrated he became.
Better to get it over with, even if it meant having to see her again.
When Izuku answered the door to see Aizawa standing there, his expression grim, he had a brief moment of panic.
“We weren’t supposed to train today, were we? I thought we were meeting tomorrow, but I could have gotten the dates mixed up. I am so, so sorry, Aizawa-sensei! How could i have done that? I know you’re probably mad, but please don’t-”
Aizawa normally allowed Izuku to ramble on, but for once he interrupted before he could get himself worked up. “You didn’t miss training, Midoriya. I came by because I have some news.”
Izuku moved out of the way, letting Aizawa step inside.
“News?” Had Hatsume called about his support items already? Maybe she had some questions about the modifications he had mentioned.
“Is that Aizawa-san?” Inko called from the other room.
“It is!” Izuku answered back.
“Your mother should probably be here for this too,” Aizawa said.
So not Hatsume’s inventions then.
Looking over his mentor, Izuku felt his stomach drop. Aizawa’s usual calm expression was gone, his forehead creasing as he frowned.
“Is everything okay?” Inko asked, coming down the hallway and into view.
“Something’s wrong,” Izuku said. “You aren’t ending our training, are you?”
Aizawa’s expression froze, his eyes dropping down to Izuku. “No! Nothing like that. I just spoke to Nedzu this morning, and there seems to be an unexpected consequence from that paperwork we submitted to make our sessions official.”
“Unexpected consequences?” Inko repeated.
Fidgeting under her stare, Aizawa hurried on. “It seems he needs another demonstration of Midoriya’s skills, besides the official demonstration next year.”
“What kind of demonstration?” A demonstration wouldn’t be that bad. Nedzu had offered him the recommendation slot. He wouldn’t offer it and then take it away, right? Izuku would be fine.
Aizawa winced, and maybe if Izuku hadn’t learned to read Aizawa over the last month he wouldn’t have noticed it, but as it was Izuku’s earlier panic flooded back.
“Some of my first year homeroom students were expelled last week. Nedzu has decided that you’re going to fight them.”
Izuku must have been spending too much time around Bakugou, because only one word came to mind in response to that declaration.