UA was having a sunny morning, not quite hot enough for shorts, but a t-shirt would be allowed if one was not sensitive to the cold. Unfortunately for the UA students, their uniform consisted of both an undershirt and a blazer, so many of them were sweating.
The usual bubble of chatter filled the room, and Aoyama took out his sketchbook. He didn't usually do any art pieces in it, simply writing down things that came to his mind in French. He did, however doodle in the margins.
The room fell silent as the teacher walked in. Aizawa cut a figure intimidating to those who knew stealth and tactics like the back of their hand. Aoyama wasn't one of these people, but he had a fair amount of experience within the field.
“Alright class, after the summer camp fiasco, your course wasn't completed.” He began. His voice came out deep from within the folds of the sleeping bag suit someone had gotten him, tired as always. “We couldn't get hold of the Wild Wild Pussycats, so today we'll be assisted by-”
"Wassup lil' listeners? It's me, your fantastic English teacher! Present Mic, Mr.Yamada, and the Great Golden Galoshes-wearer! "
"Just because Ingineum called you that doesn't mean anyone else should." He glared at them all. "Ever."
"Haha, well, regardless of that, we need to be out by the training field B, so meet us there in seeeeven minutes!"
"Lord help me..."
They were assembled in a crowd at the training field in front of a certain galoshes-colored man and a homeroom teacher who was somehow sleeping while standing up. Aoyama could see Kageyama hanging out around Tokoyami, Shouji, and Kouda, yet another group that the class had dubbed the 'Tokosquad'. Out of all the groups, that one seemed to be the calmest, and the one he would like to join the most, if he would be allowed.
But hero work wasn't for comrades and friendships.
Before he could get too lost in his thoughts, their teacher spoke.
“This is today's quirk training: accuracy! Divided into five sections, each student will work on the accuracy of their quirk. Some targets move, some are still, and all require skill to hit!” To demonstrate, Present Mic turned to the side somewhat and let out a short screech, demolishing a short row of targets that looked to be made out of rock.
The class gasped in shock and awe, something you'd think they would grow out of after being at a heroics school for half a year, and Aoyama had to admit that it was impressive. "And to divide the students... A box!"
Present Mic held up an ordinary cardboard box that rustled with what Aoyama assumed were paper slips. Present Mic pulled them out one by one and announced which of the five sections they were in.
"Mob, moving targets!"
"Aoyama, also moving targets!"
The class split up into groups, heading towards the area directed to them. Aoyama walked slightly behind the crowd, moving towards the moving targets station, content to observe his classmates and who was beside who. It seemed Kirishima and Kageyama were talking about fitness, just ahead of the group.
Aoyama chose his own target off to the side. He stared at it, and sure enough it was like a mirror staring back at him.
Why did that only make it easier to shoot?
The other students were laughing, but only a few minutes into the exercise Aoyama felt the strain on his muscles. He couldn't keep being this... person that stopped whenever it got too hard. He had too much to make up for to be so pathetic.
His eyes darkened before he fell into the well of his own concentration.
The pain seared his insides. Aoyama ignored it dutifully. He had a world to impress, what was a little pain to that? He had a legacy to hold up, and he wouldn't be so pathetic as to stop just because he felt the burn of acid in the back of his throat more than usual. He had to make his mother proud, become someone his father would've been proud of...
Aoyama coughed violently into an open palm, shuddering as he felt something come up. He glanced at his hand. It was red. No matter, it was something he had faced before. Still, he kept his phone open to his mother's number just in case.
The shine of his laser would become a beacon of hope.
The sheen of blood on his hand grew steadily thicker.
It was nearly unbearable, the burning. It was hot and stinging in his entire torso. He suddenly felt as if he couldn't breathe. He reached for the phone and sent a text to his mother, a code for something is wrong. ‘Le pont de Londres est en baisse doen.’
With every movement he strained his muscles, as if God had pulled them out like a rubber band only for her to let them snap back in not quite the right place.
“Are you all right?”
That was Kageyama, in his rather plain appearance, but with the beautiful aura of his quirk sparkling indeed. He did not mean to be unkind, but he didn't need any more people concerned for him. “Oui! I am always sparkling, monsieur!”
Kageyama's brow furrowed, and he tilted his head somewhat to the side. “You don't look alright.” He hesitated. “And you also avoided my question.”
“Ah, that is, I am fine.”
“Are you lying?”
Aoyama blinked. He didn't expect that, as blunt as his classmate was. He shook his head, bringing up his arms in an X even though it strained his stomach.
“Non, Kageyama-san, I am fine.”
An invisible tension pulled by a string ran up through Kageyama's spine, some sort of emotion unidentifiable by that inexpressive face.
"I don't think you are. You're sweating and pale." Kageyama's eyes widened with a small form of kind urgency as he took a step towards him. "I just want to help."
"Ah, non, monsieur, I am the picture of health, no concern is needed! "
He was going to choke on the lies, he was going to choke.
"If you say so."
He was swimming in a sea of disappointment for himself. Such a disappointment that he couldn't even brush off the concerns of others without them just leaving him alone.
He fired once more. His gloves were more red than purple at this point. He would have to wash them cold. Speaking of cold, the burning was gone, replaced by freezing ice pulsing from his core. The world shifted around him.
Kageyama's eyes widened comically as he turned to Aoyama once more. When did he get so tall? Or maybe that was him. It would make more sense, with the floor and the sky being parallel to his perspective.
Kageyama was holding him on his side, allowing the blood to slowly trickle out of his mouth. Aoyama could feel the stiffness of the arms holding him up, the not-so-subtle worry edging every line. Fizzling static numbed his ears, voices fading around him. Was that Aizawa?
“What happened?” a blob of a teacher demanded, a new pair of arms gathering him up in a hold tight with danger.
“I don't know, he just collapsed!- wait, Mob! Come back!”
He mumbled out something, unsure if it would be heard. "Monsieur, I believe I need to see the nurse."
And then rushing blackness washed over him.
beep beep beep...
Ah yes, another familiar sound. Lovely. He wondered how bad it would be this time, hearing the secondary sounds of raspy oxygen mask breathing and the murmur of the family doctor's voice. He must be back at the estate, instead of in the apartment he and his mother had rented to be closer to UA.
"Ah, Yuuga, t'es réveillé !" (You are awake!) That was his cousin, Lucienne. She was sort of an apprentice to the family doctor, with her quirk of burning lasers being surprisingly well-suited for surgery.
"Je-" he broke off, trying not to cough for the rasping in his throat. He was quickly hushed and had mask taken off in favor of a glass of water. Aoyama took small sips before trying again. "C'était grave comment, cette fois?" (How bad was it this time?)
"Pas le pire, mais faut que t'arrêtes de faire ça." (Not the worst, but you need to stop doing this.) Her voice came across urgently, pleading. "Je suis pas la seule à m'inquiéter pour toi. Pense à ta mère." (I am not the only one who worries about you. Do not forget about your mother.)
"Justement, c'est pour elle que je dois le faire. C'est moi l'homme de la maison maintenant." (She is the reason I have to do this. I am the man of the house now.) Aoyama stated resolutely. Lucienne sighed, placing the mask back onto Aoyama's face.
Just then, the door to the room opened and Aizawa walked in.
Aoyama made a move to sit up, but decided it wasn't wise when his general stomach area decided to stab itself with 50 hot needles. Instead he settled for warily eyeing his teacher.
“Yes, sensei?” His voice still came out with a rasp.
“Why didn't you come to me sooner?”
Aoyama blinked. He had been expecting some sort of scolding, or a punishment, not his quiet tone of concern.
“It was not worth troubling you for.”
Aizawa's face darkened. “Everything this class does troubles me. Why would I not be concerned with you?”
“I tried to make myself unconcerning.”
“Then why in God's name did you push yourself so hard that your stomach collapsed?!” The voice came out tense and growl-like. He sounded angry, but his eyes betrayed worry- and was that fear?
He kept trying to get people to stop doing that. Act frivolous and don't make friends. It was a sure road to their death. Just like papa- no. Mama didn't want him to think like that.
Keep them away.
“I simply did not feel it until I did. I was too busy sparkling!” A nice answer that was expected from him.
Aizawa raised an eyebrow. “You've always felt it before, when we trained the rest of the year. Why now that you suddenly can't feel the pain?”
“Ah, Aizawa-sensei, I've always felt the slightest pain, but I have also always felt that I was meant to be dramatic.”
A deep sigh heaved out of the hero, looking at his student in not exasperation, but slight concern. “Don't avoid the question.”
“What would I have to avoid?”
“I don't know, Aoyama, and I won't know unless you tell me.”
He looked away.
“Aoyama.” After a pause, in which Aoyama didn't speak - or move to look at anything other than the wall - he heard a small noise, like a choking sound. “What's wrong.”
A mumbled answer. “I'm supposed to be better than this.”
Aizawa's eyes softened. “And you can be. Just let us help you.”
“I don't want to…” Aoyama trailed off into whispers and shadows.
“I don't want to get anyone else hurt.” He finally choked out. God, he was so weak, he could barely breathe past the lump in his throat, blinking away the wetness rapidly welling in his eyes.
“What do you mean?” Aizawa asked softly, as if afraid to chase away the wisps of truth he had coaxed out of his student.
“He's de- gone because of me.”
“Oh Yuuga…” Someone was at the door. His mother, from what Aizawa remembered in the dorm meetings. She must have moved back to the estate after her son had moved to the dorms. “Monsieur Aizawa, I am sorry to make you worry. He's always doing this.”
“Trying to make up for things he has not done.”
Aizawa glanced at the figure on the bed, facing away from him again. A guilt complex, would go nicely with Hizashi's, but that made him sure of how to deal with it. “I'm glad he has such a caring family. And Aoyama, Mob wanted to see you when you got back to school.”
The figure in the bed shifted a bit, as if surprised, and Aizawa thanked Mrs. Aoyama again before departing.
Aoyama was released from medical priso- came back to school after about a week. He wasn't allowed to do anything too strenuous, but he felt that coming face to face with a classroom full of worried students was stressful enough.
He took a deep breath, hesitating for the barest moment before opening the door.
"Aoyama-kun!" The entire class greeted him with a gasp of worry and relief. He took a small step back from all the attention directed at his face.
"You had us worried, ribbit."
"Are you all right? What happened?"
A dizzying amount of noise rose within the room, with Bakugo somehow managing to be quiet and Kageyama being stone-silent in his seat by the wall. Luckily, Iida noticed his plight.
"Do not overwhelm your classmates! This is most unbefitting of a school for heros!" And more quietly, he turned his head to face him. "But they do make a point. What happened?"
"Ce n’est rien, it is nothing. Merely a case of simple quirk overuse." He smiled a dazzling V. "But your concern is touching."
"That didn't seem like nothing, you were out for a week." Someone - ah, Jirou - spoke up.
He was suddenly so tired.
"Non! I am fine!" He shook his head and took his seat. Kirishima and Midoriya furrowed their eyebrows in twin measures of confusion, glancing over at him all through class.
At lunch, he got his usual meal, minus the stronger cheeses, and while all the other students left, one stayed behind.
Drive him off. Don't let them close. "Yes, Kageyama-san?" Zut!
"When we were at practice before... Um. Well, I just wanted to know... " Aoyama looked slightly upwards at his classmate's worried face. "Why didn't you tell me something was wrong? I knew something wasn't right. "
He set down his glass. "I can't be worrying my dear classmates, Kageyama-san."
"It seems like you're trying to." He said. " With all that pushing us away."
Aoyama looked up entirely, startled. His smile fell somewhat.
"I didn't notice it before, but you're really lonely, aren't you." Kageyama looked at him, with dark eyes piercing red. "When I was younger I used to do the same, pushing people away because I thought I would hurt them." Aoyama looked to the side, uncomfortable, but Kageyama continued. "Those were the worst years of my life."
"It’s better to be lonely than to be weak." Aoyama repeated like he had so many times his mind.
"I've grown stronger with people around me to help."
"Whenever I grow close to people they get hurt. It happened with... " Aoyama's shut his mouth before anything could escape. He couldn't tell anything to these people, it would only make it worse. Still, he stuttered out. "Pourquoi suis-je comme ça..."
"I don't think I can say if it matters what happened in the past. I just want you to know that we're all here in case you change your mind." Kageyama turned to him, hand on the doorframe. "And you can call me Mob. Everyone else does."
And he was left alone in the lunch room. Staring at a plate of cheese.
"Am I really holding myself back?"
After school, three days after he had come back, Aoyama came up to Mob with a triumphant smile on his face.
"I just wanted to say, Mamà has invited you over to the family home for dinner on Friday."
"That's nice of her, what is she making?" Mob replied, much to the confusion of Midoriya, Uraraka and the rest of the group.
"Katsudon. Ah, and I almost forgot, the rest of you are invited as well. Mamà has been excited to meet you!" The back of his hand fell to his forehead in a dramatic pose. "But alas, I shall not be able to come over next week, for Mr. Aizawa has agreed to begin training me in the ways of physical combat!"
Mob smiled slightly. "That's great, Aoyama-kun."
"One more thing before we depart? " He said, his smile becoming softer and less sparkling. "Thank you, Mob-kun. For everything."
With the last comment made, Aoyama walked down the street. A plume of fresh breeze drifted through the streets, blowing away his insecurities at the thought of the glowing smiles of his classmates as he initiated a conversation with them. The first time he stayed with them all at lunch.
His father would be so proud.