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You Want it Darker

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Aizawa gets home a little after midnight, and Hizashi’s not back yet. This is good news in a way, as it means Aizawa has even more quiet time to process the glut of information he’s taken on tonight like a snake that’s swallowed a rat – and maybe add a few more mice, if he can bear to keep preying on the facts.

Because until they’ve got a fresh lead to follow, it’s all Aizawa can do to keep tearing up the past like robbing a grave. It won’t tell him what the killer is doing now, but it might tell him what she’ll do next.

He goes the e-detective route, late-night tumbling down the rabbit hole of articles and angry blog posts about Dr. Shinsou and the so-called ‘culmination of his research’. After rising to a terrific high of his career, the Professor of Mentalism started to prepare an experiment he claimed had never been performed under controlled conditions. That it would prove the superiority of mentalist quirks, and break new ground in society’s understanding of what people in possession of such quirks are capable of. How instead of being outcast, they should be revered – and feared, if necessary.

To prove the mastery of mind over matter, the subjects Dr. Shinsou used for this deadly experiment were even ‘volunteers’ – so he claimed. This was proven by the question they were given to answer, the one that put them under the Doc’s control and made them clink glasses before they drank a poison cocktail. Simply: “Who wants to die for me?”

This much Aizawa knows from reading the Doc’s article, published the morning after the massacre had taken place. The parameters are laid out in full: anyone who hadn’t wanted to die, hadn’t believed that this was the ultimate form of submission to a higher power, could have simply left the room – so the Doc lays out in precise, scientific steps.

The subjects answered Professor Shinsou’s question with fully informed consent, and not a person in the classroom had failed to answer, or to drink the poison that ended their lives thereafter. The final erasure of the already blurry line between persuasion and a mind control quirk: human survival instinct fatally eroded by the cultish ‘teachings’ of the charismatic Professor. Either way, the patients all perished. There are threads after threads of fanatics sharing information that’s slowly been leaked over the years – stories passed on from people who cleaned up after crime scenes, who worked at the University when it all happened, even colleagues who had known Dr. Shinsou in everyday life.

From these snippets, a few devoted individuals built niche corners of the internet in which to trawl cases of Dr. Shinsou’s variety (among many others), usually with that damn terrifying portrait photo of the Doc, giving the camera his endless evil stare.

The police officers who came after Dr. Shinsou were untrained for the situation, not realising how easy it’d be to fall under the Doc’s control. The first few simply pulled their guns and shot their partners and then themselves, but the Doc got creative on the last couple. The first cut his throat on a scalpel the Doc purportedly handed to him; the second slit his gut open and used his blood to scrawl “Death is Freedom” on the wall in the Doc’s study – where he presumably sat and watched. They didn’t publish those details in the news but Aizawa’s been close enough to the horse’s mouth to know things he wished he didn’t. Not even the message boards know about that little detail, though a few have speculated.

So, Aizawa reasons, if Dr. Shinsou made contact with Shiyoko, even met with her in person at a time in his life when he was building this body of ‘work’ to be put into practice, he easily could have been grooming her to do what he eventually did himself. Even if it didn’t work then, it’s definitely worked now: Shiyoko’s not a born killer, but a trained one.

In the deserted amphitheatre of being home alone, Aizawa lays out the photos Kuwabara sent him and takes the whole thing from the start.

First, a girl taught from a young age how to use her quirk to make people do dark, hurtful things. Frenetic activity, followed by a complete cut-off from the Professor and his star subject. Around this time, the Doc’s son is born. He will later grow up to undergo the same experiments as Shiyoko—but during the tender years when Shiyoko was happily making people play tunes on the mouse organ, Hitoshi violently rejects the programme of ‘research’ his father presents to him. He isn’t like his father, and he’s even less like Shiyoko. It’s not just the strength of the quirk that matters, but the heart of the individual behind it.

Dr. Shinsou’s estranged wife and child leave him soon after that, and the accomplished Professor pours himself into his work, laying the groundwork for his ‘final experiment’ that will prove his supremacy over the common man. He’s got a cult of personality, a string of devoted followers, all the usual tools to build himself up as a charismatic figure that eventually oozes into the media. Talkshow appearances, a series of online lectures, even one ill-fated appearance on a gameshow that even his most devout fans agree was a total disaster.

Somewhere along the line, the girl from all those years ago comes back into his life – the one who could be pushed to test the dark limits the Doc wants to explore, who was willing to submit herself to his ‘research’ for as long as they were able to get away with it. Though perhaps not quite as willing as the Professor would like, because the story ends with the Doc putting the theory into practice with his own hands – mind, technically.

One quickly escalating bloodbath later, the Professor goes to prison, and the girl – still a teenager, presumably – goes back to a normal life. Hiding in plain sight with her unregistered quirk, scrambling to get ahead at work – years pass, until she gets passed over for a promotion against a man. That’s the trigger for Shiyoko to return to the only guidance that was ever available to her in a world even more critical of quirks like hers for the fall of the mad Professor. She stages the suicide of her first victim with motive and a plan (of sorts). And if that had been the end, she probably would have gotten away with it, but as the Doc himself said – more than proved with his own bloody trail – one is never enough.

Someone assaults Shiyoko on a train soon after she kills her first victim, and she kills again on impulse, using this quirk she’s been taught to hide all her life to make another man who mistreated her end his miserable existence. Drawing on those experiments with the Doc back when she was only four or five years old, Shiyoko changes from prey to predator and quickly finds her next victim at a hostess bar; he throws himself off the roof the same night. Another man burns himself to death in traffic first thing in the morning – last seen the night before in the arms of a ‘cute girl’ he’d picked up at a bar, according to his friends in the news reports about the tragic loss that ‘no one could have seen coming’. Finally, Shiyoko returns to the Doc’s example with her most recent victim, slashed guts and death notes written in blood. A direct homage to the leadership of the deadly Professor Shinsou and perhaps even a direct call for his attention.

If the Doc is watching, the next murder, Aizawa concludes with almost inevitable certainty, it will be another escalation – after his fifth police officer, it took a fully equipped SWAT team to arrest Dr. Shinsou without fatalities. But if he hadn’t been captured, what would the next step have been?

It occurs in some background corner of Aizawa’s mind that it’s getting late and Hizashi still isn’t back – he must have talked Kayama into going to Karaoke, and will no-doubt be bursting with energy when he gets home at long last. As for the case, like the completion of a model he’s built painstakingly from toothpicks, Aizawa envisions the natural progression of the killer’s pattern. It’s surely for the owner of the brainwashing quirk to be more active in the division of life from death. The next stage, therefore, is not to use mind control to make a person kill themselves, but to allow themselves to be killed.

Shiyoko’s random selection of victims and changing methods for each ‘suicide’ have protected her somewhat, but if she does take the almost inevitable step from indirect murder to direct, there’s a chance of more evidence, greater proximity between the killer and her victim at their time of death. She might even make a mistake in the new realm of hands-on murder, and as long as Aizawa can be there to catch it, they’ll catch her.

But any prodigious student of Dr. Shinsou is going to be no walk in the park.

Aizawa smokes on the small apartment balcony and mulls the thing over like a bout of indigestion. This makes the disturbance when the door is just about kicked open and the made-for-radio-and-TV voice of Yamada Hizashi bellowing, “PAPA’S HOME!” through the entire apartment even more alarming than usual. Aizawa almost inhales his damn cigarette.

Unresponsive in any meaningful sense to the one-man band that bursts through the door, Aizawa keeps hanging over the balcony with his thinking cigarette, waiting until Hizashi hones in on his whereabouts and finally comes out through the sliding door.

“You out here thinking about jumping, babe?” Hizashi’s probably half-pissed by his own standards, three-quarters by Aizawa’s judge for it. It’s in the brash, boisterous tone of his voice, and his animated can’t-be-still fidgeting as he almost bounces on the spot.

Aizawa takes a sullen drag on his cigarette. “That’s not funny.” Not now, not ever, really. They just normalise it to take the fear factor away.

“Ohh, don’t be like that,” Hizashi teases, vibrating closer to Aizawa but without reaching out. For all the times they stick together like magnets, there’s still moments when the stark differences between them repel instead of attract. This might be one such time.

“I’m not being like anything,” Aizawa says grouchily. His train of thought has left the station, stranding him on the platform with Hizashi. Who’s clearly in the mood for fun, which is the last thing Aizawa feels like.

Then Hizashi’s hand finds the back of Aizawa’s shoulder. Firm grip, squeezing like he’s testing the ripeness of a melon. His high-paced radio yammer slows to an amble. “That bad, huh?” If there were a meter for reading Aizawa’s moods, Hizashi would’ve never needed it.

Aizawa takes a pull on his cigarette that turns into a sigh, while Hizashi melts over him like soft wax, an arm snaking around Aizawa’s shoulders until they’re basically side to side. Hizashi starts making a pinching gesture with his free fingers, and Aizawa passes the cigarette; the terminal filch is compelled to claim his puff on anything that’s Aizawa’s. Hizashi would even claim ice cream is sweeter when he’s stolen it from Aizawa. Maybe it is.

Hizashi leans on his hand with the smoking cigarette trapped between his fingers, elbow resting on the wall of the balcony as his other arm sits across Aizawa’s shoulders like a persistent cat. “You wanna talk about it?”

“No.” Aizawa has been living and breathing this case every moment he’s not in school – except when he’s with Hizashi. If he loses that, lets this venomous work creep into his home, his personal life, then he’ll have nowhere left to retreat. That’s not something he has to explain to Hizashi from experience, but there are moments when worry gets the better part of trust.

So when Hizashi takes a final drag his stolen cigarette and ducks his face close, lips pursed in a cartoonish pout, it’s a bid for reassurance. Aizawa turns enough to grant the suckerfish a kiss on the cheek, ignoring Hizashi’s exaggerated smacking sounds and kissy squealing noises he manages to make.

Hizashi knows this, of course, but he helps just by being here, casting the light he does over a world basked in shadows – Aizawa himself among them. So Aizawa turns his head further, aligning to press his mouth firmly over Hizashi’s and muffle the ridiculous noises he’s making. The arm slung across Aizawa’s back curls to hook around his neck, and soon they’re face-to-face, deep kissing that’s more needy on Aizawa’s part, but hell if Hizashi doesn’t enjoy taking advantage of a cry for affection.

They part but stay close, breaths mingling and every inhale-exhale cycle that fills Aizawa’s chest with the fragrant, sun’ll-come-out-tomorrow positivity that Hizashi emits like a six-foot star that just happens to walk the earth instead of sit in the sky.

“You’ve been drinking sake,” Aizawa observes as he diagnoses the taste on his tongue under all the cigarette smoke.

“How do you do that?” Hizashi scoffs, loosening the chokehold on Aizawa’s neck but adding another arm after he’s binned the finished cigarette butt. “All you taste of is ass.” A loving way of saying Aizawa needs to brush his teeth more and smoke less, which is surely true. He ought to cut back, the way the habit’s going, but it’s always the same with tough cases.

“That’s funny,” Aizawa murmurs. “I haven’t eaten any ass.”

Hizashi’s grin gets a little more wicked. “Yet.”

It’s already late, far later than teachers who have to be up in the morning should be, but that’s hardly stopped them before. “Alright then.” Aizawa moves and Hizashi allows himself to be taken along for the ride, walking backwards as Aizawa steps forward like some bizzare synchronized routine. Hizashi laughs at his own fooling and it passes to Aizawa like a super-contagion; but sometimes that’s exactly what he needs. He laughs and throws Hizashi off him like tossing a boomerang. “I’m feeling better already.”

One of Hizashi’s ferret-hands escapes the circle around Aizawa’s neck and heads south, darting through the new space between them to grope at his crotch. “I can tell.” There’s nothing there to grab (yet) but that’s beside the point of the stunt. Hizashi’s just being himself, and Aizawa wouldn’t have it any other way.


All these late-night shenanigans (and some more) are regrettable in the morning, when even Hizashi reacts to the pealing of his 6:00 a.m. alarm with a cranky, “Oh fuck off!” Hizashi flips himself in bed like a pancake and whips Aizawa in the face with his hair in the process.

When Aizawa’s alarm goes off another twenty minutes later, they surrender to the crush of the world. Hizashi gets up, taking all the sheets with him as he retreats into the bathroom like a textile-turtle, effectively freezing Aizawa awake with the ripping away of his duvet-cocoon.

Still technically asleep, or at least that’s what it feels like, Aizawa piles into the car with his sleeping bag under his arm and is this close to actually getting into it on the drive. The only reason he doesn't is because Hizashi keeps punching him in the arm on the drive to keep him awake; if Hizashi’s not allowed to nap on the way in – being the driver and all – then apparently Aizawa can’t either. The things he does for love.

It’s midway through the commute that Aizawa’s phone buzzes with a message that turns out to be from Hitoshi. All it says is, ‘I’ve got a surprise for you.’ Aizawa responds with a single question-mark, and he gets a picture in response. It’s a picture of all eight miles of Hitoshi’s legs resting on a box, but more importantly looks an awful lot like Aizawa’s classroom, taken from behind his desk no less.

If Hitoshi is in 1-A’s classroom, he’s playing a dangerous game, but probably knows full-well that he’s doing it. Aizawa supposes it was only a matter of time before Hitoshi’s transgressive nature would address the division between Aizawa’s life as a teacher and a hero, like he’s got to get the hands-on proof of which one matters more.

Both are of equal importance, or so Aizawa will insist if he’s made to answer, but that’s not what Hitoshi will think. Or what’s true when push comes to shove in the real world of Heroes and villains, rather than the trainee playground he makes for his ‘real’ students. But Aizawa’s not admitting that to anyone, not even Hitoshi. Especially not if he’s already tempting fate by camping out in Aizawa’s classroom when his class could show up at any point and wonder why the General Studies student who turned their classmates into zombies at the last Sports Festival is inexplicably cozy with their homeroom teacher all of a sudden. Hitoshi will also undoubtedly start causing arguments in Aizawa’s classroom unless he can get there first. Even then, he’ll probably just start them with Aizawa instead.

“Aren’t you coming to the teacher’s room?” Hizashi questions as Aizawa breaks away the moment they arrive on campus. Being punched all through the car ride woke him up somewhat, and he’s ramped up enough speed to not quite be running, so as not to raise any alarm, but still be moving fucking quick.

“I’ve got a…” button-pushing brat who wants attention, “work-thing to sort out,” Aizawa excuses weakly.

“Mhmm,” Hizashi hums like he doesn’t believe it, but lets Aizawa go without further questioning anyway. He can probably guess exactly what it means, and will pick Aizawa like a vulture tears up a carcass over it for lunch.

Luckily, Aizawa supposes, 1-A’s classroom is still empty when he arrives, bar the tall drink of grape juice who’s doing his best to turn Aizawa’s desk chair into a recliner, judging by how much he leans back in it. Hitoshi's looking bright-eyed and bushy-haired – at least as bright-eyed as his perpetually sleep-lacking look can be. As per his picture, Hitoshi has got his feet propped on a raggedy cardboard box that Aizawa doesn’t recognise, though he recognises some of the colourful language that graces the side of it in faded marker pen.

“G’mornin’ teach,” Hitoshi drawls, and it’s almost a snapshot of what things might be like if he was in the Hero Course, in Aizawa’s class. Namely: Trouble with a capital T. More than ever, Aizawa is certain that his being Hitoshi’s teacher in any formal capacity is a disaster waiting to happen.

“What are you doing here?” Aizawa questions with a good impression of a deadpan, pulling the door shut behind him and tossing his sleeping bag behind the desk.

“I finished my run early so thought I’d stop by.” Hitoshi drums his heels and doesn’t cease looking any less smug. “Got something for ya.”

“Which is?” Aizawa’s the un- side of impressed and his expression and tone probably convey as much, but that’s not much of a deterrent to Hitoshi in any case.

Hitoshi swings his feet off the box and sits upright, shifting from don’t-give-a-shit levity to full of foreboding in a heartbeat. “My dad’s fanmail.”

Aizawa doesn’t filter his thoughts into his reaction, meaning that his immediate response is an entirely natural, “Oh shit,” that leaves Hitoshi grinning.

“Yeah, I know.” Hitoshi remains in Aizawa’s seat, still managing to look like he owns the place in spite of his uniform. “Ma got all his stuff when he went to prison. She would’ve gotten rid of it, but you know.”

Aizawa does. It’s the same reason Iwaya held onto that neatly organised triple-locked file all this time. The women Dr. Shinsou’s hurt – smart women, who are defined by more than just their trauma at the hands of a cunning genius – know better than to destroy evidence against the Professor that might one day be needed. “You think Shiyoko’s letter might be in there?”

“I think if it’s anywhere, it’ll be here,” Hitoshi replies with careful detachment. There’s no mistake that he’s managing a certain level of stress right now, it’s just with a classic teenage veneer of not giving a shit. “Only, there’s quite a lot of the stuff.”

Aizawa doesn’t disguise his disgust. They don’t have long until 1-A’s students are likely to start pouring in, but it might be enough time. “Alright.” Aizawa stays cool, even moreso knowing he’s about to unpack some very unpleasant business. But it can’t be helped, and he’s really addressing the unspoken undercurrent: Hitoshi doesn’t want to do this alone. “Open it up, then.”

Pandora’s box never held so many horrors.

–––

Dear Dr. Shinsou,

I loved your appearance on the TV last night, it was so cool how you made the whole audience ballrooom dance! I wish I had a quirk just like yours, so I could make the popular girls in my school do something stupid, like when you made the gameshow host lift up her shirt in front of the cameras. It was SO funny, haha. That’d show them!

I’ve been reading your book, but I don’t understand all of it. When you wrote that everyone has the power to use the 90% mind, but they just can’t access it, are you saying that even someone like me would be able to learn how to use a mentalist quirk? I’ve already got a quirk, but it just makes me really oily all the time. Sorry if some of it’s gotten on this page, I always make more when I’m excited.

If I could learn how to do any mentalist quirk, I’d want to learn yours, Professor Shinsou. I’ve watched all your online lectures and demonstrations! Do you know one of your students writes a blog about taking your class? She’s so cool! You should hire her as your next Research Assistant, her name’s Hatake Sakura. I want to study Psychology and then specialise in Mentalist quirks like her, so one day I’ll be taking your class. Then I’ll have to call you Professor Shinsou, tee hee. Could you write another book about how to use the 90% mind to teach yourself mentalist quirks, then I could start learning how to get one by the time I’m old enough to take your class!

I almost forgot to tell you my name, Dr. Shinsou. It feels like I know you, so it’s weird that you don’t know me. I’m Wantanabe Reiko. I’m sixteen years old (almost), and you have my address in case you want to write back. I heard you say on the tv that you prefer letters to emails. It does feel more intimate, just like you said.

Love,

Reiko-chan

–––

Aizawa’s rolled his eyes so much in the past few minutes that he feels them beginning to strain. He’s used to a little eyestrain, sure, but this is taking the piss.

Whatever Hitoshi is scanning doesn’t seem much more pleasant, going by the thunderous pall cast over his expression. He quickly sets it down and murmurs, “What the fuck is wrong with some people?” as he fishes out another from the box.

There’s still another fifteen or so minutes until homeroom begins, and Aizawa has a very good idea that Hitoshi’s not going anywhere until Aizawa throws him out. Hitoshi didn’t even give up Aizawa’s chair for god’s sake—Aizawa’s got one of the kids’ and is sitting on it backwards, ousted from his own desks as he does naughty school-time detective work with his off-the-books-intern. He’s an underground Hero after all, there’s an inherently secretive nature in his line of work… just sometimes under the convenient cover of his other job.

Aizawa picks up a new letter and gets as far as ‘Dr. Shinsou, I just found all your videos online and I’m your biggest fan ever! I still need to read your book, I tried but it didn’t make sense. You’re so smart, Professor, I prefer when you explain things in your online lectures– before he writes it off and tosses onto the loosely kept pile they’ve rapidly been accruing in the middle of the desk. “Beats me.”

Aizawa grabs a whole handful of letters still in their envelopes and starts shuffling through them based on the names alone. They don’t need to read every single letter line for line, and really it’s just about finding Shiyoko’s rather than looking for anything other than a bad time from reading any of the others. He did look for that blog written by one of Doc’s students, but predictably, it’s been deleted. He still took down the name – a potential lead to follow up on if nothing better comes along.

That thought – if nothing better comes along – hits an inlet in the stream of Aizawa’s mind and stalls for a moment. Funny how something good for the case is something very bad for an unsuspecting person. Aizawa wonders who Shiyoko’s next victim will be – someone who deserved it, or just someone who was there for her to take out her endless rage on.

He’s stewing in this thought like a hot spring when the classroom door flies open and the towering whirlwind of diligence that’s Iida Tenya gets stranded at the threshold, looking like they somehow managed to open the door on him. This sight probably isn’t what Iida was expecting, but his poker face is still absolutely awful. “Oh! I… oh, uh—” Iida makes elaborating gestures with his hands in spite of not actually offering anything concrete.

“There’s still another ten minutes until homeroom starts,” Hitoshi remarks without lifting his eyes from the stack of letters and envelopes he tosses one after the other into the heap on Aizawa’s desk. “You must be desperately keen to learn.”

Only now does Hitoshi’s gaze lift, something Aizawa only notices because he’s watching the kid(s) out of one eye, dropping paper duds on the mound between them on the desk. They’re about halfway through the box, but it’s not looking likely they’ll get through everything by the time the bell rings.

“I… well, um—” Iida’s engine still hasn’t managed to get started, and Aizawa has that sudden pre-emptive sense to use his quirk on Hitoshi just as he’s sure the brat was about to make a grab for poor Iida’s mind. In that split-second where things can go either way, Aizawa senses his quirk landing over the embers of Hitoshi’s like sand over a campfire. Aizawa’s annoyed with Hitoshi for trying it, but probably not as much as he should be. He’s seen the example Hitoshi’s father sets for possessive behaviour, and even if they’re nothing alike, there are certain things that get passed on without the recipient realising.

Understanding this doesn’t excuse Hitoshi of anything, but it does deepen Aizawa’s bank of sympathy, even tolerance for the way Hitoshi acts out in front of him. After all, he probably doesn’t want to do anything with Iida’s mind, just to test if Aizawa was going to be quick enough to beat him to it. It’s attention-seeking at heart, but nothing that a kid like Hitoshi doesn’t deserve – to have someone paying attention to him at such an important time in his life. Even if that someone is… well, Aizawa.

That all said, swiping for the unconsenting minds of Aizawa’s students does not count as fair game. “Shinsou is just leaving,” Aizawa mutters, deliberation in his – while appropriate to the context, impactful in the subtext – choice of address for Hitoshi. Like Dr. Shinsou would pull shit like that, but Hitoshi should be above it. Or at least try to be.

Hitoshi has the decency to look slightly ashamed in response, but then he just says, “Am I?” with a new angle of vitriol in his tone. He’s literally been reading over fanmail written to the father he detests; if there’s anyone he has a right to take out some frustration on, it should be Aizawa.

“Yes,” Aizawa renews the fire of his quirk, training his gaze on Hitoshi and feeling the upsurge as Hitoshi’s quirk amasses against the barrier of Aizawa’s. The power is nothing like his father’s, the claws at the bottom of the door. Erasing Hitoshi’s quirk means standing as the floodwall against a tsunami.

Aizawa can almost sense Hitoshi’s frustration, like the baby-fists banging on the door of Aizawa’s mind are just audible in the physical world. Hitoshi’s scowl twists for a moment and there’s a sudden scream of that white-noise pitch in Aizawa’s head. Aizawa flinches, but keeps his eyes open, holding back the rising floodwaters by the skin of his teeth.

But it was almost enough that for a moment, Hitoshi might have had him. The realisation staggers Aizawa, and he backs away in wary recognition of that fact.

All at once Hitoshi’s quirk lifts, and Aizawa’s able to let his own down. “Are you okay?” Maybe Hitoshi doesn’t know he’s done it; maybe he does, and just doesn’t want Aizawa to know that he knows. What Iida makes of this is anyone’s guess.

So without letting on to anything just yet, Aizawa gives a noncommittal, “Yeah.” He finishes shuffling through one last stack of letters and gives up, throwing the final duds onto the pile and – not wanting to put them back in the box – making the quick decision to just sweep the mail straight off his desk onto the unrolled end of his sleeping bag, rolling it back up and actually fastening the ties this time so it doesn’t drop its volatile cargo all over the classroom floor; not something he’s keen on having to explain to the Principal, who might as well be skittering around in the vents here for all Aizawa can tell.

Iida has gone to his seat, none the wiser for the battle for his mind that just happened. He does look suitably concerned by the quick back and forth between Hitoshi and Aizawa anyway, but only in the same way he puzzles out other problems before being confident in its solution. If only there were a solution for Aizawa and Hitoshi’s dynamic, but there’s no known formula for figuring that one out.

“I'll keep looking,” Aizawa says quietly. Iida is the forerunner, but it's usually not long before the rest of the class pour in after him. “If I find it, I'll let you know.”

Hitoshi remains unamused. “Is that your way of saying I should go?”

“Yes,” Aizawa answers more quickly and freely than is good for him, because without his quirk active Hitoshi plucks Aizawa's mind like an apple from a tree. Fruit that Hitoshi takes in his soft gloved hands, cradling like he’s considering whether to take a hearty bite.

“Tell me if you mean it,” Hitoshi demands in a calm, controlled murmur. Iida seems no wiser for the fact that his teacher is under the thumb of a student he doesn't even teach – at least not here, like this.

“I do.” Hitoshi didn't need to use his quirk to get an honest answer from Aizawa, but Aizawa realises why he'd want to be sure. The rest, however…

“Touch your nose,” Hitoshi lilts, and Aizawa’s hand lifts like it really is on strings. Those velvet-clad hands wrought in iron; Aizawa can choose to resist and fight the feeling, or he can surrender to the control, knowing it’s a lost cause to fight the phantom hands bending his arm.

Then the classroom door goes again, and Hitoshi is startled, or maybe just realises he's pushed far enough and wants to save his own skin from the steamrolling Aizawa will give him later as payback in training. Hitoshi's quirk releases, and Aizawa is left with a finger hovering just in front of his nose.

The next entrant to the classroom is Shouji, so thankfully there's no gossip likely to come from that source. Aizawa finishes the gesture anyway, scratching his nose like that's what he'd been planning of his own free will from the start. Blurry lines getting blurrier every day. “Shouldn't you be going?” he reminds Hitoshi, who gives a small impatient sigh and stands up.

“Suppose I should.” Hitoshi doesn't sound annoyed but perhaps a little disappointed. This is where he wants to be, after all.

Aizawa finds himself stuck between competing thoughts of making sure Hitoshi gets what's coming to him for cheeky misuse of his quirk, under Aizawa's students’ noses no less, and making it up to Histoshi for his not being in this classroom in the first place.