"You straight up lied to them, Shouta."
Toshi had another one of those idiotic grins on his face, fairly vibrating with accusatory amusement as he leaned on the back of the staff room couch. Aizawa continued drinking his coffee in silence, giving Toshi the same amount of attention he'd give to a worm.
Which was to say, none.
Worms were a whole lot less persistent though.
"I didn't lie," Aizawa finally said. He deliberately pulled the paper he was reading a little closer to his face. "I changed my mind."
"Mmm. And didn't tell the kids."
"They didn't need to know."
Toshi just shook his head, indicating that he knew this conversation was a losing battle. Good. Maybe he'd leave.
"You've never changed your mind." Toshi came around to stand with hands on his hips, the iconic All Might pose that, to be frank, wasn't nearly as intimidating in this body. Aizawa resisted the urge to roll his eyes. "You've taught here how many years now? Six? And during that time you've accumulated 154 expulsions." Somehow Toshi's tone managed to mix astonishment, awe, and disappointment all into one. "You always expel at least one student during the first examination and usually half the class by day three. Your standards are legendary. Hizashi says it's because you don't want the workload of teaching a full class...but I think you saw something." There was a twinkle in Toshi's eyes that Aizawa didn't like. "What it is about this class, hmm?"
Go somewhere else if you want to play at being friends.
Aizawa said it to the kids every year. Didn't matter if he walked in on small talk or an all-out brawl. He always dissuaded them from being kind to one another... just to see who had the guts to throw it back in his face. Because raw talent he could work with. Those with battle quirks and pure power at their fingertips could be taught a certain level of morality, a code that would carry them onto being decent, resourceful heroes of the streets; the foot-soldiers who helped keep the tide at bay.
But true heroes? Those with the level of self-sacrifice needed to make real change in the world? Those were rare.
Aizawa wasn't one of them. He'd just learned to spot their type.
This year's entrance exam held only two with that spark in them. The girl with the gravity quirk was one of them, though Aizawa had been on the fence about her at first. Would she have run if she hadn't been trapped? Saved the boy if he hadn't saved her first? It was muddled, and that spark hadn't shined until he’d heard about her request to transfer some of her points; the first in U.A.'s history.
And the Midoriya boy...
No hesitation. No regret. Aizawa saw pro heroes nightly with less steel in their spines and grit in their teeth. He'd watched the exam tape with a manic grin on his face, a grin that only grew when he'd recognized Midoriya from the fight against the sludge villain months ago. Oh yes. He had plans for this boy.
—Right up until he'd seen how the boy's power had shattered his body.
Disappointment had a bitter taste. It wasn't an issue of Midoriya's control, but his persistence. Quirks developed young and any child who'd had years to master the toll a quirk took on his body—or at least lessen the impact into something manageable—and hadn't obviously didn't possess the level of dedication needed to become a pro hero. It didn't matter how pure his intentions were. Hell, maybe his attack on the arena trap had just been a fluke. Either way, Midoriya was useless to him. Zero potential.
Which made his first day at U.A. so interesting.
What kind of lazy child pushed through a test he had no chance of passing? Since when did the inept display strategic thinking that rivaled Aizawa's own? That little trick with the softball... fucking hell. Midoriya was like a spark discovering his quirk.
So Aizawa had to be sure.
Toshi was blinking down at him, looking a little worried about how long he'd been quiet. Honestly. Aizawa stood, yawning in his face and tossing the paper he'd been reading at his scrawny chest. Toshi fumbled before managing to catch it.
"Midoriya's file?" he asked, shoulders hunching. "Why—?"
"I didn't know quirks could develop so late," Aizawa murmured, reaching out to flick the paper and watching Toshi stiffen. "Turns out the kid only registered it a few weeks ago. Odd, isn't it?"
Toshi visibly swallowed. "Y-yeah."
"But I can work with a late bloomer. A class is only as strong as its weakest link, and the Midoriya boy has potential. It wouldn't be rational to expel them."
Toshi honestly looked surprised at that and Aizawa let him, shuffling out of the lounge without looking back. Let the great All Might keep his secrets. Aizawa had plenty of his own.
Power. Intellect. The heart of a hero.
He said every year that a student's potential could drop to zero at any time. While that remained true, Aizawa had the sneaking suspicion that this year's group would only continue to rise. He hoped they would, that they’d fully embody their motto of plus ultra. Overcome every obstacle—even if that obstacle was their own teacher. Aizawa wanted them to crush him.
...but they didn't need to know that.