Shouta distantly listened to the apartment door open and close noisily, a loud and unnecessary entrance befitting the voice hero he called his roommate, as he surveyed the stack of papers and folders on the lap desk before him. The folders contained the profiles and school records of the 20 new students of Class 1-A while the papers contained the results of Shouta’s infamous first day Quirk Assessment, but they were all mixed in an organized mess.
On top of it all was a small, plain black pocket book that looked like it had seen better days. The pitiful thing was so bent it looked like it was barely being held together as Shouta wrestled to keep its yellowing pages pinned to the table so he could continue to fill its pages with his cramped, messy and practically illegible handwriting.
The process of compiling information and physically writing it into the pocket book always helped Shouta to commit new names, faces and information to memory while creating a convenient point of reference, even if he rarely needed it. But it was critical to his yearly first-day-of-school routine since he started teaching and Shouta did not appreciate being distracted, something Hizashi should have been well aware of after years of teaching together.
“I said: I’m home!!!”
“Welcome back,” Shouta replied appeasingly, finishing the last of his notes on Momo Yaoyorozu as the couch dipped beside him. There’s not a second of hesitation as Hizashi leaned against him, reading the information over Shouta’s shoulder in his typical nosy fashion.
“You’re heavy.” He grumbled at the sudden and unwelcome weight, but made no move to actually push Hizashi off. “I don’t know why you insist on me verbally welcoming you home. It’s your apartment too. Why wouldn’t you be welcome in it?”
“It’s polite and I like it!” Shouta didn’t have to look at Hizashi’s face to know he was pouting, nimble fingers tugging the paper out from under his pocket book before Shouta could stop him. “Is this your class roster? Ooh, this year’s harvest looks promising. An Iida, Todoroki and a Yaoyorozu in your class? Talk about setting the bar high!” He gasped. “Wait, not a single face is scribbled out. You didn't expel any! Holy crap Shouta, are you feeling okay?!”
Shouta felt a hand slip under his bangs and grunted. “None of them had zero potential.” He said evenly, lest Hizashi try to read too deeply into his tone or expression. “We’ll see if that changes in the next few weeks. Some of them are on very thin ice.”
“Aww.” Who was he kidding, this was Hizashi. He was going to say whatever he damn well pleased. “You like your class this year. Careful, you'll lose your scary reputation if you go soft!” Shouta pointedly did not respond as Hizashi poked his cheek. “So which ones are the ice skaters?”
Shouta hesitated before deciding he might as well humor him, given that Class 1-A would become his students too. He tapped the first face with his pen.
“Izuku Midoriya: an obvious problem child. Quirk: strength enhancement. His quirk mysteriously manifested shortly before enrolling at UA, which explains his disastrous performance during the practical exam- zero points, two broken legs and one broken arm. He managed to limit the damage by only breaking his finger during my Quirk Assessment when I threatened to expel him, but I still have my reservations about such an incredibly self-destructive quirk. If he doesn’t prove himself to not be a danger to himself or others, he’s going to be the first to go.”
Hizashi hummed, unphased by Shouta’s blunt and harsh analysis. “You know, sometimes when you talk about your students you sound like a mom. Like, a long suffering wine mom who's tired of yelling at her kids over the same things and is this close to sending her rowdy kids to military camp.”
“Some of these kids would benefit from military camp.” Shouta didn't miss a beat, tapping his pen on the next student. “Tooru Hagakure, Quirk: invisibility. Has yet to show me what she's capable of beyond being invisible.” Tap. “Minoru Mineta, Quirk: pop-off. His quirk is versatile and with a lot of potential, which he's already demonstrated in creative and dynamic ways- but he's extremely annoying and a shameless pervert.” Tap. Tap. “Katsuki Bakugou: problem child two. Quirk: explosion. He has a powerful quirk and he’s fully aware of it, but he has one of the worst egos I've ever seen. Also seems to despise Midoriya and tried to attack him during the Quirk Assessment, hinting at some bad blood between them, so we'll need to keep an eye on that.”
Shouta sighed as he sunk back into the couch cushions, successfully dislodging Hizashi from his shoulder. “The class overall is full of young and reckless first years with a lot of room for improvement, but these four are my biggest concerns. For now.”
Hizashi laughed, tone incredulous. “Your standards are ridiculous. How anyone passes your class is beyond me.”
“They need to know what they’re getting themselves into.” Shouta replied, unapologetic. “I’m not going to go easy on them just because they’re first years. I’ve got three years to mold these students into proper heroes and I’m not going to waste a second of it, especially not on students who aren’t going to take my class seriously.”
“No one doubts your tough love teaching style, bro. If anything, you're just making me all the more approachable and my class that much more fun!” Hizashi waved him off, stealing the sheet with the results of the Quirk Assessment. Shouta watched him do a double take out of the corner of his eye. “Wha- It was one test and literally the first day of school, how did you get enough information to start breaking down their quirks and personalities like this?!”
“I've been doing this a long time.” Shouta replied easily, crumpling the discarded roster before tossing it at Hizashi. “Here. Burn this. I need to start figuring out how to address these weaknesses.”
“You're a workaholic mom.” Hizashi sighed, the couch shifting as he obediently got up. “Do you hear me? Single, overworked Shouta momzawa .” Shouta heard him disappear into the kitchen. “I'm making chowhan for dinner!”
Shouta was tempted to point out the hypocrisy of being called a workaholic when Hizashi proudly juggled three careers but remained quiet, busying himself rereading the notes in his pocket book a few more times to commit the information to his memory.
“Shouta, there's no room in the fridge with all your juice packets! Why do you always go on crazy juice pack buying sprees knowing how tiny our fridge is! Would it kill you to take them out of the box and put them in the fridge drawer, at least? I-” Hizashi cut off his own rant with a gasp of realization. “Oh my god, this is your coping mechanism. You really are a wine mom.”
Shouta sighed deeply. “They were on sale, why wouldn’t I buy them in bulk? And they’re not a coping mechanism, they’re efficient. In the time it takes you to cook chowhan and eat it, I’ll have consumed enough calories and nutrients in two juice packets and come up with lesson plans for Friday’s USJ Simulation, all without even putting down my pen because you don’t need to hold a juice pack to eat it.”
“Don’t you dare! You’re going to eat my delicious chowhan and stop abusing your body with junk.” Hizashi poked his head out of the kitchen to glare at him. “Your laziness and terrible eating habits are going to be the death of us both, Shouta. One day someone’s going to walk into our apartment and find your sad, malnutritioned body surrounded by empty juice packs and my body right next to yours, dead from a heart attack. Or sadness. The point is we both die drowning in juice packets.”
“You’re so dramatic.” Shouta huffed with a slight smile, lapsing into a comfortable silence broken by the sounds of Hizashi cooking and the music from his own radio station.
It didn’t surprise Shouta in the slightest a few days later when Hizashi requested they head to school early so he could catch up on grading, content to humor him and take a nap in the staff room before classes started.
At least, that was the plan had he not been stuck fending off the media mob hellbent on harassing his students for interviews. While generally complacent, several days of failing to receive a comment or interview from All Might was starting to make them restless and angry, which the media was more than happy to take out on the rest of UA’s students and faculty.
He sighed as one of them activated UA’s barrier behind him, feeling a brief pang of pity for All Might before remembering his flashy popularity was the reason for the media presence in the first place. It figures everyone would be stuck dealing with his mess when the pro wasn’t even around.
Shouta spotted Hizashi frowning at his phone and fidgeting unhappily, concluding he hadn’t even entered the building yet. Like any good friend, Shouta pointedly bumped him with his shoulder as he walked by. “Move it. Your grading isn’t going to do itself.”
Hizashi jumped, wide eyes focusing on Shouta in panic until he realized who it was. “Whoa, Shouta! You surprised me! Haha. Ha. Yep, I’m on my way to the staff room now! Just, uh, waiting for an important text from the station, you know- oh! There we go! Huh?! Gotta meet him outside the gate!? Why?! Great, now I gotta push past the media...”
“I thought you told them not to bother you during school hours.” Shouta quirked an eyebrow, which Hizashi nervously laughed off.
“I did! It's an emergency, I guess! One they really don't need me for, but! Duty calls! Apparently!” Hizashi spoke faster and his hand gestures became more elaborate, a telltale sign he was starting to ramble as Shouta continued staring at him.
“Just don't fall behind in your teaching duties.” Shouta sidestepped him as he made his way to the staff room, determined to get his nap in before class. Whatever work trouble Hizashi was having, he had no doubt he would find a way to resolve it sooner or later.
A few hours later found him standing in the exact same spot, feeling twice as tired and frustrated than he did that morning as he faced down the restless, angry and now trespassing media mob. In the reigning chaos of blaring alarms and panicked students, teachers were sent to round up students and search every corner of UA for further trespassers as Hizashi and Shouta were delegated to fending off the press until the police arrived.
A feat easier said than done.
“Present Mic, please let us get an interview from All Might! That’s all we want!”
Shouta didn’t mind that he was ignored in favor of Hizashi, his underground status coming in handy once again, but he very much minded the press that tried to push past him to do so. Even Hizashi, a media veteran who thrived on attention and publicity, seemed to be at his wits end.
“What part of ‘it’s his day off, he’s not here’ do you not understand?!” Hizashi snapped, though one hard look from Shouta had him biting his tongue from outright insulting them, as he so very obviously wanted to do.
“Fine, then give us a statement about him! Just one!”
“You don’t get to trespass onto school grounds and make demands.” Shouta narrowed his eyes. “Besides, no matter what we say you’re going to want more. That’s the very nature of the press. Now I highly recommend you leave before you get fined and arrested.”
The press erupted with protests as Hizashi leaned towards him, a hand drumming on his speaker and a scowl on his face. “If they’re trespassing, they’re villains. Can’t we get rid of them ourselves?”
“Keep it together, Mic.” Shouta gave him a look, the threat of violence to the press very out of character. “You have a reputation to uphold. We just need to hold out until the police get here. What’s gotten into you?”
Hizashi looked like he had been slapped, voice subdued as he recoiled. “Right. You’re right. Sorry, I’m just...stressed.”
Shouta kept an eye on him as reporters kept shoving microphones in their faces, satisfied to see Hizashi’s strange aggression disappear into forced professionalism, even if Hizashi was pointedly avoiding looking back at him. Shouta waited a moment before leaning over to whisper. “...Was it that bad?”
“This looks pretty bad, man.”
“The emergency you had to deal with this morning. The one with your radio station?” Shouta reminded, giving Hizashi a strange look as he started laughing nervously again.
“Oh, yeah! Nah, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean it was, but I don’t know why they needed me? Somebody, just uh- broke into the station and messed with the equipment. Took some important files.” Hizashi sighed irritably. “Honestly! They’re more than capable of dealing with it themselves. Coming to harass me at work, the nerve...” He muttered under his breath, something Shouta wasn’t entirely sure he was supposed to hear. What a strange way to talk about his own station.
“It's your radio station.” Shouta pointed out, voicing his confusion. “Of course they'd want to contact you directly if someone broke into the station.” He paused, noting the way Hizashi tensed up and went silent. Shouta sighed, this time diverting his own gaze as he considered his next words carefully.
“I don't know how much help I can be with the situation at your station,” Shouta spoke slowly. “but if you need help with grading or paperwork you owe your agency, I can help you until you sort everything out- as long as you don't make a habit out of it."
When he looked back at Hizashi, his eyes were suspiciously watery and his grin particularly wide. “I don't know what I did to deserve a bestie like you, Shouta.” He sniffled, genuinely touched. “That would be great! Thanks!”
“Don't start crying.”
“I make no promises!”
“Anyway, maybe it was one of the press,” Shouta raised his voice. With Hizashi and Shouta blatantly ignoring them, the press took to filming the inside of the school and spinning their own stories in an exclusive look into UA. “since they’re clearly not beyond the destruction of property and trespassing.” He addressed the crowd, hopefully ruining their footage.
“Hey, that wasn’t us!” One of the reporters closest to them, a brunette with her hair in a ponytail, huffed. “The barrier was destroyed by a kid in a black hoodie who looked like they went here! They gave us permission to be here.”
Shouta felt his eye twitch even as he filed the important information for later. “First of all,” He felt like he was addressing children. “UA has a strict dress code, as you should have noticed from harassing the students. Secondly, if they were a student here, they wouldn’t have needed to destroy the barrier because they would have a student ID. Therefore, you not only stood idly by as a villain attacked UA without reporting it, but you took advantage of the villain’s crime in the destruction of the UA barrier to enter areas you are fully aware you are prohibited from entering without special permission. While you’ll still be charged with trespassing, your actions can also be considered villainous in a court of law.”
Finally, it seemed like his words were starting to get through to the press as a few of them exchanged nervous looks. Some wisely snuck off before the police arrived, though UA’s extensive security cameras would have no trouble identifying them for the police later. The mob shifted in an attempt to leave, but ironically the police arrived to block them off.
“What was that?” Shouta turned to find Hizashi grinning at him after the press was escorted away, clearly amused by something. He resigned himself to the stupid joke Hizashi was about to tell by giving Hizashi a weary look. “Your actions can be considered villainous in a court of law.” He repeated in a fairly accurate mimicry of Shouta’s voice, continuing in a deeper tone. “In the criminal justice system, press based offenses are considered especially heinous. In Musutafu, the dedicated pro heroes that arrest these felons are members of an elite squad known as the Heroics Teachers of UA. These are their stories. DUN DUN.”
Shouta dove to hide his face in his capture weapon at the stupid sound but he wasn’t quite fast enough to stifle a laugh while Hizashi fiddled with his directional speaker until a familiar theme song started to play.
“Wait, were you laughing? Did I make you laugh?!”
“No.” Shouta schooled his face into complete deadpan. “I’m just allergic to stupidity. We weren’t even the ones doing the arresting. Why do you have that song?”
“Mmhmm. You can’t fool me, Shouta. I saw that smile. Also, you don’t want to know how many songs I have downloaded for potential jokes and impromptu karaoke.” Hizashi laughed, the first genuine laugh Shouta had heard all day. It was nice to see Hizashi acting like his regular self, and this time Shouta didn’t try to hide his own smile.
“Don't you have a class to teach?’ He reminded, smile turning into a smirk as Hizashi froze.
“Shit! My English lesson with 1-A! I’m late!” Hizashi took off, leaving Shouta to watch in amusement before making his way to the crumbled remains of the UA barrier.
Principal Nedzu was already there, surveying the destruction with his hands clasped behind his back. He wore his typical friendly smile, emotions as hard to read as ever.
“This seems like a distraction for whatever their true goal was.” Nedzu commented, tone deceivingly cheerful. “The quick and easy destruction of the barrier, attacking during the lunch hour when students and teachers alike would be scattered throughout the school, playing on the discontent of the media- it all seems too convenient. None of the teachers found evidence of intruders in the building, but I’m not entirely convinced.”
“A reporter told me she watched someone roughly the age and height of an average UA student wearing a black hoodie destroy the barrier.” Shouta frowned, watching alongside Nedzu as Cementoss raised a temporary barrier around UA. “There’s no debris. The barrier’s just...gone. Definitely the work of a quirk.”
“Perhaps.” There was an edge to Nedzu’s tone. “Regardless, we’ll focus on figuring out who did it and how they did it once we figure out what their purpose was. This was clearly no accident. Could it be a declaration of war?” Nedzu hummed. “We’ll have to revise our security measures as well.”
“If the villain was the age of our students, it could be a disgruntled drop out or someone who didn’t pass the entrance exam. Plenty of those to go around.” Shouta mused, running a hand through his hair. “Maybe this was just a way to release their frustrations.”
“Not a bad assessment, Aizawa.” Nedzu turned to him, amused. “But I’m detecting an unfamiliar scent from somewhere in the school, too faint for me to pinpoint...I wonder if they even have a body? Regardless, I believe our “disgruntled drop out” wasn’t working alone. We'll need to do another sweep of the school grounds to see if anything is missing or planted. Care to join the search?”
“Sure.” Shouta knew better than to interpret Nedzu’s thinly veiled order as an actual choice, but would have volunteered to join the search team regardless. His observational skills and attention to detail had always been some of his most defining traits as a teacher and a pro hero, after all. “...With Cementoss?”
“I believe Ectoplasm is also free this period.” Nedzu turned to re-enter the building. “I trust you teachers can figure out among yourselves who can help the search and rotate members according to who has a teaching period. If you’ll excuse me, I’m sure I have a few phone calls from the press and the police waiting for me.” He didn’t sound annoyed by it as he left, but the ever present slow sashay of his tail betrayed his true feelings.
Shouta stood in deep in thought as Cementoss joined him, dusting off his hands from using his quirk. “Shall we go to the staff room? I think Ectoplasm is there, preparing for his next class.”
“Yes.” Shouta led the way with a brisk pace. “It’s also a good place to start searching. If their goal was to steal information, it would have to be accessible to the teachers or Nedzu. We’ll check all the staff rooms and computers before we check Nedzu’s office, even if he was in his office the entire time. We have to be thorough.”
Which, of course, meant they found not a hair out of place. Every file was accounted for, no suspicious emails, no unauthorized access on any computer- the more the UA staff searched, the more normal everything appeared. Too normal.
“It doesn’t make any sense.” Shouta scowled, sinking into their couch after a day wasted with fruitless searching. “Nedzu’s hunches are almost never wrong. What could we possibly be missing?”
“I don’t know, but if I have to go through every computer access log again I’m going to scream.” Hizashi agreed, taking a swig of his canned beer. His expression turned thoughtful. “Is it really that hard to believe it was an angry teen? I know if I wanted to stick it to UA, destroying the UA barrier and letting the media wreak a little havoc would be more than enough for me. All of this just seems like a lot of extra hassle for something that’s probably not that big of a deal.”
“They still committed a crime.” Shouta pointed out, the comfort of the couch coaxing his eyes to slip shut. “And you’re just a petty person. Even if stealing information wasn’t their ulterior motive, this villain could be hellbent on revenge and out for blood. I had a student I expelled try to attack me on my way home, once.”
Shouta felt something poking him until he cracked open an eye, met with Hizashi’s offended frown. “Okay, first of all, ouch. Second of all, you were attacked by one of your former students?! Why didn’t I know about this?!”
“Didn’t I tell you? Hm.” Shouta ignored the particularly hard poke his response got him. “It’s fine. The police arrested them. You’re getting off topic.”
“Only you would be so nonchalant about being attacked by a former student.” Hizashi shook his head, pulling out his cell phone as he got to his feet. “I’m too tired to cook so I’m just going to order a pizza. I should probably start getting ready to go the station too...ughhh, why does it have to be a Wednesday?” Hizashi’s grumbling became too quiet for Shouta to hear as he disappeared into his bedroom.
Shouta was sure he nodded off because when he next opened his eyes the apartment was dark and empty except for the small lamp Hizashi must have left on. A couple of pizza slices were on the coffee table waiting for him, miraculously untouched by the two cats roaming around.
He ate slowly, going over theories in his head before deciding it would be a better use of his time to solidify the lesson plans for the USJ training exercise on Friday. He, Thirteen and All Might had already agreed the best use of the facility would be class wide rescue operations, which was more realistic to what they would encounter as pro heroes, but that didn’t mean there was no way for them to work on their weaknesses at the same time.
With a bit of shuffling Shouta pulled out the lesson plans for USJ and moved to pull out his pocket book for an easy reference, only to be met with thin air. The book was always in a secret compartment of his utility belt, designed to look like it was just part of the belt in case villains ever got their hands on it, so it should have been impossible to snatch it without his noticing-
Shouta frowned, forcing himself to take a breath. Unbuckling the belt, he carefully went through every compartment and concluded the pocket book was indeed missing. He patted himself down, known to sometimes shove the book into his tracksuit when he was pressed for time- but there was nothing.
He wasted no time fishing out the old and outdated flip phone he refused to get rid of to dial Hizashi, hand buried in his hair as he waited for several rings.
“Yo, Shouta! And here I thought you destroyed your phone again.” Despite his teasing, Hizashi was very clearly confused. “Can we make this quick? I’ve gotta go on in-”
“It’s gone.” Shouta interrupted, stress making his responses cold and curt. “My pocket book. It’s missing. Have you seen it?”
“Not since I saw you writing in it on the first day of classes.” Hizashi sounded appropriately concerned as the gravity of the situation hit him. “Oh shit- you think someone stole it? That’s bad. That’s really bad. But that's why it's super coded, right?! Maybe the press will give it back when they realize it's all nonsense?” Hizashi was suddenly grave. “...You didn't write anything that could get people killed, right?”
“I came up with that code with Nedzu himself.” Shouta acknowledged, the grip on his hair bordering on painful. “But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to figure out. Either way, there’s nothing in it that couldn’t be figured out by anyone who interacts with my students for a while, but that’s still sensitive information that can give away the upper hand in a fight.” He paused. “What if this is what Nedzu was talking about? What if the villain is part of a terrorist organization and now they have everything they need to target my students? What if-”
“Shouta. ” It was Hizashi’s turn to interrupt, tone taking on the gentle authoritative tone he usually took on when rescuing bystanders. “I need you take a couple of deep breaths with me, yeah? Stop letting your mind run wild with bad case scenarios and take a second to just breathe. Okay, here we go-”
“I am not panicking.” Shouta snapped, the action causing him to become aware of his shortness in breath and the iron grip he had on his hair like he was subconsciously trying to pull it out. Grudgingly, he took a deep breath and tried to relax. “...No, you’re right. I need to go about this calmly.”
“There’s the Shouta we all know and love!” Hizashi cheered, making Shouta snort. How he wished Hizashi was physically present and not just a crackly voice on an old cell phone. “Hopefully it was just some handsy reporter. Sooner or later they’ll realize your pocket book is just junk and give it back- or throw it away, since you probably didn’t write your name in it or anything. Not much you can do about it now, right?”
“There’s always something that can be done.” Shouta countered immediately, cradling the phone against his shoulder as he dug out his laptop and opened an email addressed to Nedzu. “...Thanks, Hizashi.”
“Anytime! What are besties for? Oh, hold up-” Hizashi’s voice became quieter as a muffled voice addressed him. “We’re about to go live! Tell you what, I'll include a tidbit on giving back things that aren't yours- maybe the thief’s a listener? Gotta go, see you later Shouta!”
Shouta’s ear was met with the dial tone, but he had long since stopped paying attention.
He had work to do, after all.