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Shouta should’ve gone home an hour ago.

He sighs, pulling his scarf tighter against him, the wind biting at his exposed skin. He rarely stayed out past 2 AM, instead preferring to begin his shifts earlier and end them later. And now that he would start teaching next semester, he really couldn’t get into the habit of long nights.

But it’s 3 AM, and tonight’s been busy, too busy for Shouta to call it quits and head in, not when the district is as short-staffed as it is. Luckily it’s mostly been two-bit criminals--drunk bastards looking to get a high off of robbing a convenience store or mugging a bystander. It wasn’t as bad as destruction for the sake of destruction, but petty theft has always left a rancid sting on his tongue.

One of the muggers he’d apprehended did manage to get a quick swing on him, so there was a bit of a throb on the left side of his ribs, but nothing a bit of icing couldn’t fix. He considers himself lucky still, he’ll take a few minor injuries and night of constant, small-time activity to a city rampage any day.

Although for the past hour, it has been slowing down. The majority of the bars in this area close at 1 AM, so the streets have cleared considerably since then. There are still some stragglers, mostly college kids staggering home in groups of two or three; Shouta watches them mostly due to the fact that they’re easy prey for a robbing, but it seems most of the villains have gone home as well.

Shouta frowns, flicking a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. It seems silly calling them villains anyways. Pompous assholes is more like it. They’re not burning down buildings or kidnapping hostages or fuck, mass murders. Petty criminal activity at it’s finest, but it makes Shouta’s gut wrench all the same. Twice today he’s had a criminal laugh in his face after being caught, not caring about being caught, just happy to have fucked up someone’s day. Neither of them landed any injuries on a civilian, but it made Shouta’s blood boil, and he had to exercise a fair amount of control to keep a passive face.

He always tries to steel his own expression in the face of a capture, especially one like that. He never wants to give any of them the satisfaction.

Not that they needed any from him, clearly.

Perched on a rooftop, considering whether or not to stay where he is or move his positioning a few streets over, a blur of motion pulls him out of his thoughts. Immediately he squares himself, ready to leap as his eyes followed the blur. It’s a stark contrast against the dark, dirty, back alleys--an absolute force of green light shooting down the streets.

Shouta frowns. He begins moving on instinct, sticking to rooftops as he leaps over the city, but he doesn’t approach directly yet. It’s odd--the figure isn’t chasing anyone, and they aren’t being chased. They’re just--running. Running, with an activated quirk giving him super-speed.

His first instinct is that it’s another hero--but he knows all the pros who are posted in this district, and none of them have a quirk quite like that.

Obviously, his next thought is that it’s a villain--but that doesn’t seem to fit either. Their movements are fast, yes, but they don’t seem to have any purpose. They’re flying around corners--Shouta nearly struggling to keep him in sight, if he’s being brutally honest--making last second turns that only make sense if you’re being followed and don’t want to be followed, but this isn’t that.

Well, he’s technically being followed now. But he wasn’t, at least not that Shouta saw, when he first saw the person running.

Double checking that both of them aren’t being chased now, he picks up his own pace, gaining lead on the figure. Once he’s at a safe enough distance he activates his own quirk. It gives him pause, just for a beat, at how much effort he has to put into his erasure. He still manages, of course, but he wasn’t expecting the amount of sheer power nearly leaking from this quirk.

The figure stutters, of course, with the sudden loss of speed, but Shouta was prepared for that. He launches out his capture weapon, snagging it around the figure’s arm and midsection, pulling them up to keep them from eating dust on the cobblestone pathway. Swiftly, he leaps off the roof, coming to a crouch in front of the runner.

I really need to go to bed, Shouta thinks, because the figure blinking at him is a kid, a scrawny, wide-eyed kid. He saw that the figure was small, but the lightning emitting from his body obscured most of his features. Not to mention he’d previously only gotten a look at him from the backside.

“D--Did you…?” the kid stumbles, still staring up at Shouta. He seems completely unbothered at being restrained, making no move to escape. Instead, he seems almost...relaxed?

The kids breathing is labored--from exertion or something else, Shouta isn’t sure--and he’s fighting to get his words out. While his movements while running had been extremely frantic, he seems to be calming down now, practically settling his weight into the restraints.

“...My quirk?” he asks, and Shouta realizes that he hasn’t said anything, has just been staring the kid down, and then realizes oh yeah, and blinks. He feels his hair falling back against the nape of his neck, attempting (and failing) to blink away the dryness of his eyes.

The kid’s reaction is immediate. If his breath was labored before, he’s all but hyperventilating now. He’s also started shaking--not trying to get out of the binds, it doesn’t look like. Just...shaking.

“Ah--y-you’re Eraserhead, right? That’s what you did right? Y-you erased my quirk? P-please, I need you to--my quirk--”

Shit. Shouta doesn’t understand what’s going on, but this kid is shaking with what seems to be pure terror, so he doesn’t question it. Quickly Shouta flares up his own quirk--the kid must see the visible change because his panic subsides, if minutely. Slowly, carefully, he begins to loosen the bonds, as not to startle the kid. He’s still shaking, but he seems to be steady enough on his feet.

“I’m going to turn off my quirk now,” he states. The kid looks like he wants to object, but he doesn't. Small miracles. Shouta blinks, eyes stinging. He can feel a headache coming on and he wants to reach for his eyedrops, but the stammering child in front of him is his priority.

“Why were you running?” he asks, not particularly hopeful about getting an answer out of him. He was able to recognize Shouta, when most people wouldn’t be able to place a name to his face in broad daylight when they weren’t mid-panic, so he seems to have his wits about him well enough.

The kid opens his mouth, closes it, then opens it again. “I--my quirk. I had a nightmare, and I woke up, my quirk it--I couldn’t turn it off,” he mutters.

Shouta frowns. That’s...odd. He’s heard of kids being unable to control their quirks when they first manifest--it happened to Shouta himself--but give it a year and they usually become accustomed. Quirks are almost like an extra muscle--it shouldn’t spasm on it’s own unless there’s something wrong with it.

By age five, nearly every kid has gotten the hang of it. This kid looks like he’s nine, at the youngest.

“Can you control it now?” Shouta asks, and the kid blinks at him.

“I uh, yeah, I think so? For now.”

Good enough, Shouta supposes. Suppressing a sigh, he sits down against the wall of the alleyway--the alleyway is rather dingy, but his jumpsuit is already a dirtied mess of a lost cause--so he doesn’t feel like he’s looming over the boy. The boy’s eyes follow him, but he says nothing, just stares, trembling slightly.

Jesus. This time Shouta does sigh.

“Your quirk. You said you woke up, and you couldn’t control it. What couldn’t you control?” He knows it’s risky, considering the kid still seems a bit skittish and might freak out at the question, but it’s past 3 AM and he really doesn’t want to bring this kid down to the precinct if he can avoid it--he figures talking him down and figuring out where he’s actually supposed to be at this ungodly hour is the best option.

Probably.

The kid does look less like he’ll melt into the ground at any sudden movement, so Shouta counts that as a win. He does pause for a long moment, expression pained. It’s an expression he hates seeing on any child.

“I--my quirk,” he starts, no longer meeting Shouta’s eyes. “It’s like...raw energy. It makes me really strong, but it’s too strong, and it’s just too much, it’s too much, and I...I…” he hiccups, tears threatening the corner of his eyes.

Instinctively, Shouta wants to frown, but he keeps his face passive--he doesn’t want the kid to think he’s upset with him, because he’s not, he’s just...confused.

“So, when you activate it, you can’t control it?” He tries to keep his tone as smooth as possible, and thankfully the kid doesn’t flinch at his words, but he does shake his head.

“I didn’t activate it. I--I was sleeping, I was having a nightmare and I guess--my mom, she--she--”

He’s full on crying now, wiping his tears with the hem of his sleeve. It’s not the first time Shouta notices it, but the kid only has one arm--it’s more obvious now, the kid clearly trying to hunch in on himself and cover his face, but it’s much harder to do when he only has one arm to lean into.

“Hey, listen,” he says. Slowly, he reaches his own hand out, resting it on the boy’s shoulder. Barely touching, just a ghost of pressure, allowing the kid to shrug it off if he needs to. But he doesn’t--if anything, he leans into it. He’s still muttering, incomplete sentences and words too clouded by sobs for Shouta to catch, so Shouta tries to shush him. “Whatever happened, it’s going to be okay, alright? It’s going to be fine.”

The kid nods, but he’s still crying. It seems like he’s trying to reassure Shouta, and that almost makes him smile.

“I’m going to try and help you, okay? I’m a hero, remember? But in order to help you, I need to know what happened, can you help me out?”

The boy nods. This time Shouta does smile, barely a quirk of his lips, even though the kid isn’t looking at him, still wiping at his face.

“Can you start by telling me your name?”

The boy looks at him now, eyes wide and puffy, as if shocked by the question. “It’s--I’m Midoriya Izuku, Eraserhead, sir.”

Shouta nods. “Nice to meet you, Midoriya. Now if you’re able to, can you tell me exactly what happened?”

Midoriya pauses again, still crying, but it looks like he’s just mulling over his thoughts. Probably figuring out what to say, Shouta thinks. He gives him time.

Eventually, the sobs subside to quiet sniffles, and Midoriya begins to speak. “I...I was asleep. I was having a nightmare, and when I woke up, my quirk was, it was on, and it was too much, it’s always too much, but my mom came in and I--I grabbed her, and she screamed because it hurt, I hurt her, and I…”

He’s breathing in short, heavy pants again, tears flowing. Shouta doesn’t even know this kid and his chest is aching for him. Damn it all.

“You activated your quirk without realizing it?” Shouta asks. Midoriya nods shakily.

“It’s always--I never try to activate it, because it’s dangerous. It doesn’t--it doesn’t activate as often anymore, but when it does...I need to wait it out. For it to turn off. So I left.”

Ah. Well that explains the frantic running from before. Shouta had almost forgotten that’s why he’d stopped him in the first place. He still doesn’t understand completely--he knows it’s not unheard of for people to have volatile quirks, or quirks that are hard to control. But usually with a doctor’s analysis and help, they’re able to get it under control.

Like a jolt in the back of his mind, Shouta remembers how powerful the kid’s quirk felt when he’d disarmed him--a facet of his own quirk was being able to feel someone else’s quirk when he erases it. It’s not particularly useful, other than judging the raw power someone possesses based on how strong their quirk feels, but that’s usually obvious from how they’re fighting. But Midoriya, he was just running, and having to turn off all of that energy…

He could see why this kid might be having some issues.

“Have you ever tried using it on your own accord?” Shouta asks, quietly. The kid stares at him, and he looks...almost guilty?

“The first time I felt it...I tried to actively use it,” it’s barely a whisper, Shouta has to strain to hear him but he doesn’t dare ask him to speak up. “I ended up doing this to my arm.”

He’s pointing at his right side, where there’s just empty space next to his ribcage.

--------

Shouta blinks, and struggles to keep his composure for the sake of the kid, because...

Shit.

He’s heard of people losing control of their quirks—again, mostly kids who haven’t learned to use them properly. Accidents often happen, where people can’t control the exact output, especially with the more dangerous emitter types out there. And of course people sometimes get damaged by their own quirk, either because of their own internal backlash, carelessness, or again, because they’re 4 years old and they don’t know what they’re doing.

But this kid...this kid is implying that his own backlash destroyed his whole limb.

Well, that’s not good, Shouta’s brain supplies, obviously and uselessly. But he can’t think of what else to say.

Small mercies, because the kid starts talking again, so Shouta just listens, and tries to calm himself from his reeling.

“I...I was seven, I was seven when I felt it for the first time, it just felt like power, and I was so excited, that I had to try using it! So I—I ended up punching a tree, thinking I might be able to get a dent into it...

He sniffs, and Shouta thinks he might start crying again, but he doesn’t. His eyes are still bloodshot, but they’re oddly...calm. “I ended up punching through the entire tree, and my arm was broken beyond repair. They had to...amputate it.

“And--and I know it was stupid! I know I shouldn’t have tried it, but I felt...I finally felt...”

A few things loop over in Shouta’s mind. Namely, that the kid didn’t have his power manifest until he was seven. Which isn’t unheard of necessarily, but it’s...extremely rare. Usually it’ll be some type of “hidden quirk” that doesn’t present itself until the situation calls for it.

But this? This is anything but hidden. This quirk is an emitter type, but it’s activating on its own. Which...should not be happening.

Midoriya has trailed off, mumbling instinctively under his breath. Shouta replays the last thing he heard from him.

I finally felt…

“They must’ve deemed you quirkless, if you presented your quirk three years late.” It’s a statement, not a question, because Shouta is near-certain that’s what happens. The kid nods to confirm.

“I...yeah, they said I was quirkless. I even have the extra joint, so they were pretty certain I didn’t have anything hidden. But I guess I was just late…”

Shouta mentally freezes. That...that is odd. Very odd. He’s sure that it’s not impossible for someone to have a quirk and have the extra joint, but Shouta…

Shouta has never heard of such a case. Especially not so many generations in.

On it’s own, Shouta might’ve considered it as just odd, and paid little mind to it. A genetic mutation--it wasn’t so uncommon now, with quirks. But that, combined with him being a ‘late bloomer,’ combined with the raw power this kid possesses….

Shouta doesn’t know what to make of it.

But is it my place to make anything of it?

He doesn't know this kid. He isn’t his guardian, he isn’t responsible for him. He simply ran across him while out on patrol, and stopped the kid due to him running rampant through the city at 3 AM with an activated quirk. But he’s not Shouta’s responsibility.

Well, in regards to his quirk. But he should really take the kid home.

“...Thank you for trusting me,” Shouta says, softly. The kid stares at him for a minute, but then nods furiously.

“Of course I trust you! You--you’re a hero!”

Shouta doesn’t know what to say to that, so he simply nods, and stands. “Well, I hope you’ll trust me with one more thing. Where do you live? I really need to take you home.” Even if the kid needs to go to the hospital or something, he should get him back to his parents, since it’s currently not an emergency.

The kid, however, looks down, digging his heel into a crack in the road. “I--I know the area well, I can make it back just fine, you don’t need to do that.”

Shouta sighs. He can’t say he’s shocked, really, he should’ve been expecting this. “I wouldn’t be a very good hero if I left a child to his own accord, walking home at three in the morning,” Shouta drawls with a raised eyebrow. The kid seems to consider that, and doesn’t rebut. Good.

Slowly, slowly, Shouta reaches out, offering his own hand. The boy blinks, but then he grasps it weakly, more so just letting Shouta grab at him than actually holding his hand.

He’s probably worried about his quirk, Shouta thinks. But the kid hadn’t refused the gesture, so he counts it as a win.

He lets the boy lead him through the alleyways, Shouta’s weapon loose against his neck, at the ready. They’re only a few blocks away, once they’re back on the main roads, which Shouta is thankful for.

Eventually they reach an apartment complex. Midoriya turns to him, opening his mouth, but Shouta cuts him off. He’s pretty damn sure what the kid is gonna say.

“I’m not letting you out of my sight until you’re back with your mom, kid,” he states, and Midoriya shuts his mouth, and leads him towards the stairwell. Shouta almost smiles.

Stopping in front of one of the doors, Midoriya seems to hesitate. He can feel the kid trembling again, and yeah, that makes sense. But it he’s not going to knock, Shouta will.

Gently as he can, he nudges the kid’s shoulder. His head whips around, staring him down for only a moment, but then he nods, and turns back towards the door.

He knocks four times, and barely a beat passes before he hears muffled scurrying, and the door flies open.

A teary-eyed woman answered the door, the light washing in from the apartment shows her hair to be the same shade of green as the kid’s, hers flat and straight while his is a wild mess. The mother, then.

“Izuku!” she screams, and bundles her son into her arms as sobs wrack her body. “Izuku, sweetie, it’s all right, it’s fine, I’m fine…”

The kid is crying now too, Shouta is sure of it. They stay embraced like that for a long moment, long enough where Shouta wonders if he should clear his throat to get the woman’s attention, but soon enough she lets her son go.

“We’ll talk, but in the morning,” she states, her voice wavering slightly, but much calmer now. Izuku nods, looking like he’s about to run off, but instead he turns to Shouta, and bows deeply.

“Thank you for helping me get home, Eraserhead,” he says softly. Shouta shifts his weight--he’s always uncomfortable with formal praise, but from this kid? He’ll accept it.

“You’re welcome, Midoriya.” he nods. The kid doesn’t manage a smile, but his eyes are much brighter when he nods, before turning back towards the apartment and entering.

“With a name like that, you must be a pro,” the woman says, and Shouta turns to her. She bows as well, and does manage a smile. “Midoriya Inko. Thank you so much for keeping him safe, I’m eternally grateful.”

Shouta coughs. “I’m sure he would’ve made it back on his own, anyhow,” he says. He then pauses, remembering himself. “But, you’re welcome.”

Midoriya Inko smiles. It looks fragile on her face, but it’s a true smile. “I won’t lie to you, it’s not the first time he’s run off like that, this late into the night. But I worry each time, all the same.”

As you should Shouta thinks to himself, but he just nods. The fact that this isn’t the first time the kid’s run off doesn’t surprise him in the slightest.

“I’m sure you know, but when I found him, his quirk was unstable. He seems to be fine now, but I should advise you to take him into a hospital or call for an ambulance if it happens again.”

Shouta knows that she knows this, judging by her grave nod, but he still has to say it.

“I--of course,” she says. Her voice is heavy on Shouta’s ears. “It hasn’t happened in awhile, but it’s always...bad when he does. It doesn’t happen too often in a row, but…” she trails off, glancing back towards the open doorway.

“He’s your son, of course. I trust your judgement, I’m just speaking to you as a pro.”

She tries to smile, and almost manages it. “Thank you for your concern, and your help. Thank you.”

Shouta nods. “I should be going. I’m glad that your son is alright, Ms Midoriya.”

This time, she really does smile. “I am too.”

--------

Three days pass, and Shouta runs into Midoriya at the hospital.

He thinks he might be mistaken at first, worried that he’s imagining the mop of green hair slumped down in one of the lobby’s waiting chairs, feet swinging as they dangle off the floor. He’s been thinking about the kid ever since he’d met him, telling himself he’s just worried for his safety, but he knows it’s more than that.

He’d come in for a set of cracked ribs he’d obtained in a fight that morning--he wasn’t even patrolling, on his way to buy kitty litter instead--but the fight had broken out and Shouta was there. It had ended quickly, the villain only getting a few hits in, but the ones he did manage packed a hell of a punch.

He really didn’t want to come to the hospital, but the sharp pain in his chest was impossible to ignore, and he knew Hizashi would be pissed if he came home with broken bones. Again.

But thanks to the nurse’s quirk, he’s ribs are healed enough for him to be discharged, and he’s on his way out when he spots the kid, chin resting on his hand, a bored expression plastered across his face.

Midoriya must sense him staring, because he looks up, blinks, and then his eyes register with recognition. “Eraserhead?”

“Hey, kid,” he says, walking across the lobby to sit beside him.

“Are you okay?” he questions as soon as Shouta plops himself down. Jesus, this kid.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a minor injury this morning.” He considers lying, saying he wasn’t injured, but he feels like lying won’t work on this kid. Midoriya still looks like he wants to protest, so Shouta cuts him off before he can.

“Really kid, I’m fine. Low level villain, got a couple hits on me but the nurses patched me up. They wouldn’t have let me leave, otherwise.”

That seems to be enough for him because he nods in acceptance.

“But, are you okay?”

“Me?” Midoriya asks, as if being asked such a question is strange when he’s hanging out in a hospital. “Oh yeah, I’m fine,” he says, almost absently. “My mom is picking up my quirk suppressants, it’s just...a lot of paperwork.”

Shouta blinks. Quirk suppressants?

He’s shocked, to say the least, that this kid even has a prescription for it. Quirk suppressants are really only used in emergency situations, either to contain a villain, or to stop someone who’s a danger to themselves or others involuntarily. He knows this is true with Midoriya, but it’s still rare that they would ever be prescribed regularly. They do the trick, but they’re known to be possibly harmful, when used in even moderate excess.

Shouta vaguely wonders how often he’s been taking them.

“I mean--I barely use them!” the kid bursts out, clearly having read Shouta’s face. “It’s really only for emergencies, and because I was out the uh...the other night, my mom wanted to come get them, just to have, because it hasn’t happened in awhile! But it still happens sometimes...obviously…”

Shouta frowns. “That’s their solution? Quirk suppressants?” It’s more to himself than it is to Midoriya, but the kid still answers him.

“They’ve tried...a lot of things. They don’t seem to know what to do. They kept me under observation for a while after my...accident,” the singular word seems to be dragged roughly out of his mouth, and Shouta has to fight himself from flinching. “But because it doesn’t flare up that bad anymore, they let me live at home.”

Well that’s...something. He does know that some people have to be kept under twenty-four hour care, primarily due to mental illness where they cannot properly control their quirk. But that isn’t Midoriya’s case--it seems that with him, his quirk is actively working against him.

Still though...it’s not like he has no control over it, it seems. He’d said it had activated on it’s own accord, three nights ago. But he’d been using it to run, and it hadn’t destroyed him.

So it seems that it should be possible to control. Just...difficult. Very difficult.

“I always wanted to be a hero,” Midoriya mumbles, and Shouta turns back towards him, pulled from his own thoughts. The kid is speaking softly, and Shouta can’t quite place his tone. “When I was four, and the doctors told me I was quirkless, I didn’t know what I would do. Then I was seven, and my quirk came in, only for it to immediately start destroying my body.” He laughs a bitter laugh, one that a child shouldn’t be able to muster. “I still want to be a hero! I do! But...how can I do that without using my quirk?”

Shouta understands why he laughed. It truly is a twisted fate of irony--to be deemed quirkless, only to realize his quirk later on--a quirk that’s too powerful for him to handle. Shouta is still baffled by the whole scenario, but that’s not what’s pressing right now. Because, God help him, he’s really going to do this.

“What if you could control it?” Shouta asks, and the kid stills. Slowly, he turns towards him, head tilted and eyes wide.

“I’ve tried controlling it, but it’s too dangerous to use,” the kid mutters, averting his gaze once more.

“Yes, because you can’t turn it off. But if I was there, I could turn it off for you.”

A pause. Shouta finds himself holding his breath.

“...are you offering to train me?” Shouta doesn’t miss the glint of hope in his voice. Fuck it all.

“Yeah, I guess I am.”

Shouta knows that he shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t, because he already knows how difficult this is going to be--not that Shouta has ever backed down from something just because it might be difficult, he would’ve picked a different profession had that been the case--but he already has his pro career, on top of his new teaching career…

But how could he hope to be a good teacher if he can’t help this one kid?

The kid is staring at him again, a wide smile growing on his face. “Really? Like, you’ll actually train me? To use my quirk? Because that would be...that would be…”

He seems to be at a loss for words, which is honestly impressive, considering how much he was muttering the other night. Shouta allows Midoriya a minute to gather himself before he continues. “But, I’m going to be up front with you right now, kid. If at all while we’re doing this, if I ever think that it’s too dangerous, or that you’re going to lose control, or that you won’t be able to control it at all, we’re going to stop, and you’re not going to argue with me. Some people just don’t have quirks suited for being a hero.” Life isn’t fair, he doesn’t say, because he doesn’t need to say what this kid already knows.

The kid nods, smile dimmed but not gone completely. He’s practically vibrating in his seat however, and Shouta worries his quirk might flare up. Does it depend on his energy? Or is it completely random?

God help him. What did he sign himself up for?

“Izuku!”

Shouta looks up, and sees Midoriya Inko walking towards them, a small paper bag clutched in her hands. “I swear, they add new papers to sign every time we--oh, hello Eraserhead!”

The elder Midoriya smiles at him, and Shouta rises out of his seat to great her. “Hello Ms Midoriya. And uh--It’s Aizawa Shouta.”

Her smile brightens. “Aizawa, then. Are you doing alright? I hope you aren’t here for anything serious.”

Shouta shakes his head. “I had a run in with a villain this morning, but they healed me up just fine. I’m glad to see that Midoriya is doing better,”

“Yes, the past few days have been good, thankfully,” she nods, Izuku shifting quietly at her side. Still grinning, she cocks her head at him. “I was just about to head home and cook lunch for Izuku, would you care to join us?”

Shouta blinks. “I uh--I really--”

“If you have to get back to working, of course, I completely understand, but I’d love to thank you properly, for the other night.”

“I...don’t actually have to work until 9 PM,” Shouta states, already knowing he’s not going to get out of this one. Ms Midoriya beams.

“Perfect! We’re just a few stops over on the A line.” Shouta nods, following the two of them out of the lobby and out onto the street.

The kid is quiet, as the walk down the sidewalk towards the train station, but Shouta can practically feel his pent up energy. Probably still buzzing from what Shouta told him earlier.

“Izuku, why don’t you run up ahead and press the signal button?” Ms Midoriya asks. Shouta turns to her, seeing her gesture at the pedestrian signal down the road. The kid nods, smiles, and walks ahead of them.

“Did you tell him about the villain fight this morning?” she whispers to him, not turning her head. Shouta falters for a moment, feeling oddly like he’s about to be scolded by a teacher.

“Yes, I did.”

She laughs quietly, and Shouta holds back a frown. “Ah, that’s why. He’s probably aching to ask you about it, but he wants to be polite.”

Shouta hums to himself. Well, the kid does want to be a hero. It would make sense that he’d be interested in the details of fights. “He can ask, I don’t mind.”

Ms Midoriya laughs again, but this time Shouta feels like he’s missing something.

They catch up to the boy quickly, he eyes the both of them but doesn’t say anything. They cross the street and step down into the train station in a silence that Shouta thought would’ve been awkward, but is relatively comfortable. It’s not until they’re on the platform, waiting for the train that Ms Midoriya speaks again.

“Izuku, did you want to ask Mr Aizawa about the villain fight today?”

Midoriya turns from his mother to Shouta, eyebrows raised in question. Shouta nods. “Go ahead, kid.”

Long gone is the solemn mood from the hospital, when Shouta first saw him. Now words are tumbling out of his mouth like a leaking dam, the kid practically bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“What kind of quirk did the villain have? Was it just one villain? Was it just you, or were there other heroes fighting? How long was the fight? Where was it, like what kind of terrain was it on? Where there--”

He blinks. The kid just continues asking question after question, rapid fire, not even giving Shouta half a second to respond. He looks over and sees Ms Midoriya suppressing a laugh behind her hand. Turning back towards the kid, he fights to keep his eyes from rolling into the back of his head.

On the train, he gets through most of the kid’s questions. Yes, it was just him fighting, and just one villain. He’d happen to be walking past a park, which was perfect because the villain was able to control the movement and growth of plants, in which he had multiple people entangled in grass and was moving towards the trees, which obviously wasn’t good, considering their close proximity to the houses nearby. Shouta was able to suppress his quirk quickly, but the man was bulky, and skilled in hand-to-hand combat, thus the cracked ribs. Luckily he’d managed to detain him quickly, and their were no injuries to any civilians, besides minor bruising from the grass restraints.

“So he must’ve been able to strengthen the grass too, right?” Midoriya asks. They’re off the train now, walking back to the Midoriyas apartment. Shouta pauses briefly, then nods. He hadn’t thought about it at the time, but he figures the villain must’ve been able to do that, if the civilians had been restrained thoroughly enough to receive bruising from elongated grass.

Midoriya nods, clearly lost in his own thoughts. Shouta feels more exhausted from answering all the questions than he does from the fight. He’s clearly going to need to bitch out Hizashi (again) for submitting his application to U.A. on his behalf, because dealing with this on a daily bases, from twenty high schoolers, is going to kill him faster than any villain could.

They reach the apartment shortly after, and as soon as they enter the doorway, Midoriya bolts down the hall. “I’ll be right back!” he calls over his shoulder, and his mother just smiles.

“He’s probably going to write down everything you’ve just told him, before he forgets.” Ms Midoriya states, turning towards the kitchen. Unsure of what to do, he follows behind her. The apartment is a simple open concept, small but not confining. Well lived in.

He did happen to notice the pictures in the hallway and the living room when he was walking over--they’re mostly just of Izuku, some of Ms Midoriya and him together, but no other siblings. No second parent.

As he watches Ms Midoriya shuffle around the kitchen, gathering pots and pans and food from the fridge, he recalls what she had said to him a few minutes ago.

“Write it down?”

She turns to him, nodding fondly as she smiles. “He’s been writing in them since he was about four. Quirk analysis, mostly. Heroes, villains, really anyone he meets.”

Shouta raises an eyebrow. At first he thought the questions were typical fanboy questions--kids his age are almost always enamored by hero work and villain fights--but a few questions in it became clear that the kid wasn’t looking for a step-by-step recreation of the fight for his imagination, no, he was asking specific questions, about both the strategy of Shouta and the villain. While the questions were extensive and exhaustive, he willingly supplied them all to the best of his knowledge--sometimes he doesn’t remember every detail of the fight, too caught up in the action, relying more on training and instinct than anything.

So, he’s not particularly surprised to hear that this kid is keeping notes. A little impressed, he might even admit--he never bothered with such things until he was attending U.A. and he actually had to.

“He’ll probably be awhile,” Ms Midoriya admits, sounding a bit sheepish. She pulls out a rice cooker, and starts a small pot of water to boil on the stove. That done, she turns back around towards him, where he’s awkwardly leaning against the table.

“I really can’t thank you enough,” she says, and Shouta blinks at her. Oh, yeah. Right.

“I was just doing my job,” he states, and she waves him off.

“You’re job would’ve been to bring him to the police. I called them myself, of course, but I’m glad that you brought him home instead. He doesn’t…” she trails off, smile faltering. “Like I said before, it wasn’t his first time running off. But I know why he does it. The officers just scold him, both for running off and using his quirk. Most of them don’t understand the situation, and don’t bother to hear him out.

Shouta nods slightly. His experience with the police force has been relatively positive, if he’s being honest. Usually he won’t stick around for long, however, leaving as soon as he can after they detain the criminal and check over his license. But he has heard from other pros that it doesn’t always go down so smoothly.

“I always worry, of course,” she says, her voice small. “But…sometimes I just don’t know what else to do.”

The silence is heavy, only broken by the bubbling of water. Once it boils, she turns around, throwing in some curry cubes and stirring a bit, and they’re both still once more.

“That’s...actually something I wanted to talk to you about,” Shouta starts, and she turns to him. He takes a deep breath, mentally steadying himself. “I believe that...with proper training, your son will be able to control his quirk. I’m beginning a teaching career at U.A. starting next semester.” Her eyes go slightly wide at that, but she says nothing. Shouta continues. “I don’t know how much you know about my quirk, but I have the ability to erase someone else’s quirk by looking at them. Because of those two reasons, I feel that I would be qualified to try and help teach Midoriya how to control his own quirk.”

It’s quiet for a moment, and very, very still. He stays tense, wondering what she’s thinking. If she’s angry, that this practical stranger would suggest that this boy use his quirk, one that’s already destroyed an entire part of his body. But she’s not shaking, not screaming. She seems to be...thinking.

“Why do you want to help him?” she asks. Her voice is still quiet, yet firm, and the question catches him off guard.

“I...because I think he has great potential,” Shouta states, simply. “And if a child like that has such potential, he should be given a fair chance. I’m sure there are more qualified trainers out there, but most wouldn’t be willing to take on a case so risky.” The last part comes out rushed, but it’s true, and it’s something he’s thought about. He could’ve simply made a recommendation as a pro hero to a local trainer, and that would’ve counted for a lot, but if they consider the boy to be a liability, he doubts they would take him under their wing. Because of Shouta’s own quirk, he would likely be one of the best people to handle the boy.

Ms Midoriya looks at him again, opens her mouth, but she’s cut off by the ding of a kitchen timer. “Oh, shoot,” she chides, turning back towards the stove. “Mr Aizawa, would you mind getting Izuku? His door is the first one on the right.”

Shouta pauses, thrown by the tabling of the discussion, but she hadn’t said no, so he does as she asks and turns back towards the hallway.

His room is easy to find, especially considering his name is on it, a wall hanging with All Might’s iconic hair...bangs? Spikes? Rabbit ears? He’s never known what to call them (other than incredibly stupid), but he mentally shakes the thought away and knocks on the door. He hears a muffled “Come in!” and pushes into the room.

The first thing Shouta notices, of course, are the posters. All of All Might. He suppresses a sigh--he can’t blame the kid for liking the hero. It’s not like Shouta can deny the impact the man has made, how much good he’s done for Japan just in terms of discouraging villainous activity, never mind all the lives he’s saved. He’s just always...so much.

Shouta has never worked with All Might, due to the nature of himself being an underground hero, and All Might practically living in the press spotlight, but he has seen the man work. And it really is truly incredible, despite how he may feel about the man’s...personality.

The main issue with heroing being a mainstream business and villain attacks being so commonplace is that the world has become desensitized to it. Unless it’s a large-scale attack, the public won’t shy away from a fight, instead clamouring towards it with phones and cameras at the ready. Which just...isn’t safe. Another one of the benefits of being an underground hero, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t make Shouta uneasy with how callous some of the pros are about their spectators.

And no one draws in spectators like All Might does.

Looking past the poster-lined walls, he sees Midoriya at his desk, hand moving fierce across the paper. He walks up beside him, and the boy finally looks up, blinking.

“Oh! Eraserhead! I thought you were my mom…” the boy looks slightly sheepish, cheeks glinting with color. He places his pen down next to the paperweight holding the notebook in place on his desk.

“Aizawa.”

“Huh?”

“Call me Aizawa,” Shouta repeats, the boy only hesitating for half a beat before he nods. “And your mom just asked me to call you over for lunch, but you can finish writing.”

“I uh, I was pretty much done anyways,” he moves to close the notebook, and Shouta finds himself staring at the cover.

“Volume ten?”

Midoriya nods, returning the book to the shelf on his desk, at the end of a series of identical composition books. “I’ve always been interested in quirk analysis, but eventually it became me trying to study and gain the info I’d need to be a hero. I also had to relearn how to write with my opposite hand after my...accident...so it helped with that too…” he trails off, staring down at his desk and deliberately not at Shouta.

“You really are dedicated.”

It’s a statement, not a question, and the boy finally looks at him again, expression curious. “I, well, yeah. I’ve always wanted to be a hero. And I figured that if I didn’t have a quirk, or if I couldn’t use my quirk, there had to be something that I could do.”

Shouta nods. Honestly, he wouldn’t be shocked if proper smarts and quirk analysis could get him into Gen Ed at U.A. But that’s not what this kid is aiming for.

“I told your mom, by the way.” At that Midoriya flinches, and, yeah, that seems like a proper reaction.

“You did? I, uh...what did she say?” Again, he looks like he’s restraining hope that must be bubbling up inside him. Shouta sighs.

“She told me to come tell you it’s time to eat.”

Midoriya blinks. “I...well. That isn’t a no?”

Shouta snorts. “I’ll talk to her again. But she really did say it’s time to eat.”

Ms Midoriya cooks them a simple chicken curry, which Aizawa does his best to eat politely and not absolutely scarf down. He probably hasn’t had a decent home-cooked meal since Lunch Rush was cooking for him at U.A., usually sleeping through lunch and sticking with pre-packaged or frozen dinner meals.

It’s when he’s nearly done with his second portion, that the relative silence breaks. “Izuku, Mr Aizawa told me he wants to train you.”

She sounds extremely casual about it, and Shouta nearly drops his chopsticks. Midoriya actually does.

“I, uh, yeah, he mentioned it to me,” the boy stammers out. Shouta can’t quite read his expression. Ms Midoriya smiles at her son, then turns to Shouta.

“Since he was seven, I’ve brought Izuku to so many doctors and quirk specialists. They all told us the same thing--that he was a late bloomer, and he would soon gain control of his quirk like everyone else. When he destroyed his own arm, they wrote it off as a “freak accident,” and recommended quirk suppressants until he “grows into his power.” It’s been four years since then, and while things have gotten better…” she looks at her son, eyes so filled with love it makes Shouta’s own chest ache. “I still don’t have a solution. But you’re a pro hero, and a teacher. If you truly think you can help my son...then I will allow you to train him.”

Shouta stills, mind whirring as he absorbs her words. She’s looking at him, patiently, not expectantly. Midoriya is staring at the floor.

He clears his throat. “I can’t guarantee that he’ll be able to control his quirk. With all the cases I’ve seen as a hero, I’ve never heard a situation as...specific as his. But I do believe that I can try to train him, and I can do so safely and controlled.”

The boy looks up at him, eyes wide and glistening, and then back to his mother. He doesn’t say anything.

“I...I feel like a bad mother, sometimes,” Ms Midoriya says. Her voice is cracked, wavering, and Shouta frowns. “I know I should try to keep him safe, that I shouldn’t let him use his quirk at all, when it’s so destructive. But...but I already gave up on his dream once, when they deemed him quirkless. If this is what he wants to do...then please, train him, if you can.”

“Mom…” Ms Midoriya is dabbing at her eyes with the edge of a napkin. Her son is tugging at the hem of her shirt, letting his own tears stream freely down his face. Swifty, Ms Midoriya reaches over and pulls her son into her lap, hugging him fiercely.

Shouta doesn’t normally act on such a whim, like this. Offering himself up to a near stranger, offering a possible solution to a problem he doesn’t completely understand. He doesn’t know if he can actually help Midoriya. But seeing that boy in the alleyway in the dead of night, literally run rampant by his own quirk. Betrayed by his own biology, yet more concerned about his mother than the effects it had on his own body…

Shouta doesn’t normally act on such a gut feeling. But he knew that he had to at least try.

“I’ll keep your son safe,” Shouta forces out. It’s hard to speak, with how dry his throat is, how heavy his own tongue feels. “I promise.”