Chapter 1: Exposition Dump
This fic basically came from the realisation that 1/5 of the goddamn population doesn't have a quirk so wtf Izuku.
Characters will probably be ooc at time, sorry in advance.
Also sorry in advance for the frequent POV switching, just yell at me if it's too confusing.
I've made minor changes to chapters 1-4 (bc at time of writing those are the posted ones lmao)
Izuku was 4 when he learnt that not everyone is born equal. That was when he discovered he was quirkless in a world where 80% of the world has some form of quirk. Prior to this discovery, he had wanted to become a pro hero, hoping to live up to the standard of All Might, the #1 pro hero. So the discovery that he would never be able to was, of course, devastating. But 1/5 of the population is quirkless, and Izuku was four, so he got over it. He still kept and memorised extensive notes on every hero he came across, but he did the same for villains, and spent free time hypothesizing battles and who exactly he would ideally have defend against who. Talking to other kids was always a bit hit and miss. Some were fine having him sometimes just unprompted give them quirk advice, but others tended to view it as insulting (Bakugou) strenuously rejected his advice (Bakugou) and mock him for daring to think he was equal to them (Bakugou).
He got bullied throughout elementary school because he was a quirkless kid obsessing over quirks, resulting in a lot of self-esteem issues and some suicidal tendencies for a while, but his mother found out so he went to a different middle school and got therapy. Instead of praying for a miracle and still trying for UA, Izuku collected information and made battle plans and studied languages and came up with a different life plan than being a great hero after spending several years not really caring about future plans. His mother wasn’t exactly thrilled that he spent so much time seeking out hero and villain fights, but stopping him proved impossible, and eventually it became mundane. Mostly.
And so time passed.
Izuku is 14 and he’s just spent several hours spying on the UA entrance exams and making new notes. The rooftop he’s sitting on is very exposed to the wind, and the concrete isn’t exactly comfortable, so he should probably move soon. He has a couple more hours to create various strategies for the various entrants, and then he has to be on a very specific windowsill.
See that’s the thing about underground heroes. They get anonymity and everything, but they also don’t get the personal vendettas or money to justify extensive security systems and/or great real estate. So Eraserhead, one of the teachers at UA -in fact the teacher of the 1-A Hero course- and one of Izuku’s own personal favourite heroes, lives in an apartment that, while much larger than one person could ever need, has very little security beyond his own presence, and what little security there is is very basic and for the building not his own apartment. Which is great for Izuku, because Eraserhead can’t see him coming on the security cameras which definitely get a good long look at him as he clambers up the building and sits on Eraser’s windowsill.
He’s not really bothering with stealth for this. Beyond the basic caution of approaching from the alleyway rather than the open street. He doesn’t really mind if Eraserhead sees him coming, he does mind if a passerby calls the police before he even gets a chance to talk to the guy.
He knocks on the window.
After a few thoughtful seconds, the blinds are pulled up and the window opens.
Izuku grins at Eraserhead.
“Hi, my name’s Midoriya Izuku and you are going to hire me as your teaching assistant because I know you don’t have one, sir.”
Eraserhead blinks at him. Then tries to close the window. But by that time, Izuku has wriggled around so he’s dangling halfway through the window.
“Just hear me out. I’m quirkless, but I’m very good at analysing quirk use and maximising effective use. For example.” He clears his throat and opens his notebook to Eraserhead’s page. He doesn’t look at it, takes the chance to glance around the apartment. Way more bright colours and furnishings in general than he expected. “Eraserhead. Real name Aizawa Shouta. Age… about thirty probably. Quirk: erasure- he can erase the quirk factor of a target. An underground hero who tends to avoid public confrontations, something his quirk is perfect for as he can stop the conflict before it even really begins. Unfortunately his quirk requires direct eye contact with the target’s physical form to be maintained- hence the goggles to disguise his line of sight. Quirk is used in conjunction with a capture weapon designed to restrain any and all opponents. Very effective hero, but isn’t great in larger fights with multiple powerful enemies, as only one can be targetted at any time, and he has to blink sometimes. Best in current role as a teacher and night-patrolling hero, as quirk is very useful when dealing with students trying to control quirks properly, and makes ambushing villains/stopping smaller conflicts quietly easy. Would work very well supported by a heavier-hitting hero, perhaps a strength quirk like All Might, or just a damage quirk like...” Izuku’s gaze found a framed photo on the coffee table “...Present Mic, perhaps?”
“...ok, come in.”
“Wonderful! I also have some notes on this years prospective students. Had to do some light spying, but I promise no stalking was involved. So. Tokoyami Fumikage. He is 100% getting into your class and I’d recommend...”
Orchid is excited. Nervous too, of course, but mostly excited. New country, new school, same life goal. She’d got through the entrance exam blowing out the light sensors of the robots with her quirk and shoving other entrants out of the way of the occasional bit of debris, and she’d got through every conversation since she’s got here with enthusiasm and subpar Japanese. So this whole become-a-hero-in-Japan-because-of-Britain’s-hero-regulations thing is going pretty well. She opens to door to her homeroom. And apparently walks straight into the middle of a staring contest.
A student with red and white hair is being glared at by a blonde student who looks about two seconds away from biting his head off. Red and white boy doesn’t seem to care in the slightest. The rest of the class is watching them nervously, and she joins them as soon as she recognises the pair. The blonde student she’d seen at the exam, his explosion quirk making short work of swathes of the robots and ensuring his position. The red and white boy takes a little longer to place, but when she notices the burn on his face she remembers him from a newspaper -Todoroki something, son of one of the current top heroes and apparently one to watch if you’re a hero agency. Both are very strong and have quirks which could very easily cause a lot of collateral damage, such as Orchid and the other students. Orchid slowly creeps into the room and tries not to draw their attention. She succeeds.
A tall, black-haired girl stands up and opens her mouth, but before she can say anything a green-haired boy who doesn’t look any older than the students comes through the door carrying someone in a bright yellow sleeping bag. It’s weird enough to successfully draw the attention of everyone. Especially when the kid dumps the guy in the sleeping bag onto the desk and says “Sir, the lesson is supposed to start now. Wake up.”
He gets a groan in response and the sleeping bag rolls off and behind the desk. A few seconds later, a tall lanky man with a mess of black hair and a long white scarf-thing stands up. He glares at the green haired boy.
“Your timing was off by ten seconds, get better at that.”
The kid rolls his eyes. The man turns to the class.
“Alright. I’m your homeroom teacher Aizawa Shouta and this is my teaching assistant Midoriya Izuku. I have you for a couple of hours so I can give you timetables and-” his face scrunches in distaste “-do icebreakers. I don’t want to lead icebreakers and I presume very few of you want to do them, so we’re going to skip them. You’ll learn each other’s names as you go.”
He pulls a bundle of clothing out of the sleeping bag and dumps it onto his desk.
“Get changed into your gym clothes, we’re heading out for a test.”
Several minutes and a lot of confusion later the class is standing out somewhere on UA’s grounds. Midoriya and Aizawa are standing next to a circle.
“For this test, you will be performing a series of the kind of basic tests you will all have performed before in middle school. But this time, you’ll be performing them with the use of your quirks.” he pauses to let this sink in. “Bakugou Katsuki, please step into the circle.” Aizawa receives a glare from said student. It’s less violent than the glare that Midoriya receives. Midoriya merely blinks at Bakugou, but he does look slightly more nervous than he did two seconds ago. Aizawa gently throws a ball at him and instructs him to throw it as far as possible, with use of his quirk. He does so, yelling something incomprehensible very aggressively. It goes very far. Aizawa notes down the distance and gestures the next student into the circle, Midoriya scribbles furiously in a notebook that he materialised from somewhere. Of course, several students don’t have quirks that enhance their physical abilities -Hagakure can’t jump further because of her invisibility, Jirou can’t use sound to grip things harder, and Orchid is only able to slow her competitors down by temporarily blinding them, she isn’t faster. It’s for this reason that Aizawa doesn’t bother to threaten expulsion upon failure -he’d lose actually good heroes that way.
Uraraka sends the ball into orbit with her quirk and laughs nervously as she realises it isn’t coming back. A couple of students later, a boy with wavy black hair and dark skin turns in the circle and fixes her with a delighted grin. The air around him ripples and his features twist and then he isn’t standing there anymore. Instead there is an androgynous teen with a shoulder-length mess of green hair and wide eyes wearing a now-baggy gym uniform. They look slightly startled for a second, then refocus on Uraraka.
“Would you mind using your quirk to throw that ball for me, sweetheart?” Their voice comes out strange. It’s caught somewhere between soft and almost croaky, but it doesn’t sound even slightly natural. Uraraka gets up and throws the ball exactly as she did the first time, but with a completely blank expression. The teen gestures for her to return to the other students, the air ripples, and the student from earlier is back. He grins at Aizawa.
“Does that count, sir?”
Aizawa fixes him with a look.
“Costello Asahi, you did not throw the ball.”
“I used my quirk to get it as far as possible.”
“You especially can’t just rely on your quirk. Throw the ball.”
The air around Costello shimmers again but stops when Aizawa activates his own quirk. Costello groans and throws the ball.
The tests continue.
Midoriya finishes writing scores in his his notebook and looks to Aizawa. He gets a ‘go on then’ gesture and sighs.
“Ok listen up everyone. Currently as far as basic physical abilities go, the rankings go like this: First is Yaoyorozu Momo, you’ve got good skills all around and are very judicial with when to use and when not to use your quirk, but that doesn’t mean you can slack off – you may have done well this time, but during more high-stakes or fast-paced situations you might fall short, and you can always improve your strength and speed. Second is Todoroki Shouto, again good-” he continues like this until he finally reaches the last student. The bell for break rings as he finishes his ramble about Costello relying too much on avoiding physical effort, and he startles out of his info dump. He glances somewhat nervously at Aizawa, but gets an eye roll and a shoulder pat in return.
“Ok listen up class, we’re going to head over to the dorms so you can get your rooms sorted and we can give you a list of contact information for various teachers and staff members, then you’re free for the rest of the day.” He starts walking and gestures the class to follow him. Midoriya turns so he’s walking backwards and facing the class.
“We also have to set up your therapy appointments. The school has several therapists on-site and if you’d prefer to speak over text or whatever, that can easily be arranged, there’s a lot of room for changes so that you can all get a therapist that works for you. Hound Dog organises all that stuff, so he’ll be contacting all of you about it over the next few weeks. Personally I think they should set all that up before the term begins, but apparently it’s easier if you’re on-site to meet or whatever, but anyway-”
“Deku what the fuck are you babbling about? I don’t need therapy!”
Midoriya stops and faces Bakugou. His expression is immediately cold and blank. Judging by Bakugou’s face, he didn’t expect that reaction. Aizawa simply watches
“It’s Midoriya, unless you want me to start calling you Kacchan?”
Bakugou snarls and opens his mouth, but Midoriya is talking to the group and his face lightens again.
“But yes, many of you -hopefully all, but apparently we’re never that lucky- won’t need the therapy sessions; however hero work is difficult and psychologically strenuous as well as physically. Every one of your teachers will have horror stories from various incidents -especially the rescue heroes- and it’s useful to have you already accustomed to therapy sessions before you enter active work. And of course, requiring therapy for everyone makes it easier for those who do need therapy and avoids situations where students or pro heroes need therapy and just don’t get it because they think they don’t need it-” Orchid could be mistaken, but she’s pretty sure Midoriya glances at Bakugou when he says that “-or are otherwise unwilling to attend therapy.” He pauses for a second, then smiles brightly. “Anyway! Talk to Hound Dog about any concerns you have, I promise he’s a sweetheart! Let’s go set you up in the dorms.”
He and Aizawa head off and after a moments hesitation the class starts following him again, though Bakugou trails a little behind them, setting off a few little explosions in his palms.
The dorms are pretty impressive. They house all of the students at UA and all of the teachers that couldn’t get apartments nearby. Needless to say, there’s a lot of them. Buildings A through K each with a common area and kitchen as the ground floor and two floors for each class. The teachers’ building is as central as the approximately-grid-like arrangement allows for. They’re also pretty good quality- each student gets their own room and the freedom to decorate it pretty much however they want. There’s also a few extra rooms on each floor, for this and that reason. The common area is currently buried in boxes and bags, but from what they can see it’s pretty modern and spacious, with several couches forming three distinct areas, each with a TV. Aizawa immediately lies down between several boxes and goes to sleep, apparently dismissing everyone to just figure it all out. There’s also a couple of older students perched around the room and in the kitchen. They’re pointedly ignoring the influx of first years, but one of them comes over and starts braiding Aizawa’s hair. He somehow doesn’t wake up. Midoriya gestures to the room.
“Well, pick a room and drag your stuff there, then meet back down here. You lot are on the two floors above this.”
There is general chaos as everyone locates their own possessions. Tokoyami has a staring contest with the second-year perched on top of his pile. Somehow Ashido’s things have made their way into everyone else’s bags and boxes. Orchid and Aoyama’s tastes are so similar that Orchid manages to walk off with two of Aoyama’s boxes and neither of them notice.
Eventually everyone manages to get their things into their rooms and re-congregate in the common area. The older students have relocated to the kitchen and a couple of them have taken to staring at 1-A. Aizawa seems to be deeply asleep, but Izuku touches his shoulder and he’s immediately awake. He doesn’t seem to care that half his hair is braided messily.
He pulls a stack of paper out from somewhere and hands it round the class.
“That’s your timetable, a map of the grounds, and a list of various contacts. You’ll note that my number and Midoriya’s are both listed there. If you have any issues whatsoever, no matter how inconsequential they may seem, feel free to contact me. I don’t want you setting fire to the dorms because you didn’t know how to cook something, or burning out halfway through the year because you didn’t want to bother anyone. Given his age, I’m not sure how much help Midoriya would be in some situations, but if you’d be more comfortable talking to someone your own age, he’s there to help.”
Izuku nods along. Some of the students are smiling, but a somewhat concerning amount look sceptical. Todoroki hasn’t made a facial expression the entire day. Sure the day’s barely begun, but it’s still been hours. That’s probably something to watch out for. He should probably start therapy sooner rather than later.
Aizawa dismisses the class for the day after detailing the many options they have to pass the rest of the day. He flops back onto the sofa he was lying on. Izuku hovers for a second or two, but when Aizawa makes no move to acknowledge him and instead falls asleep, he assumes he’s also dismissed and hurries off to try and find any teachers he hasn’t yet been introduced to. He makes it about three steps out of the dorms before two of the students -Uraraka and Iida- intercept him and invite him to hang out with them instead. He agrees, because really if he hasn’t met a staff member by now, he probably doesn’t need to for a while.
y now, he probably doesn’t need to for a while.
Chapter 2: I tagged slice of life for a reason
I didn't really want to just point blank explain my OCs' quirks, but y'all need to know Costello's quirk so might as well do both.
Costello's quirk is called Allure, it allows him to shapeshift into a target's spouse/partner/crush/ideal partner depending on what the target has. While shapeshifted, he has a form of brainwashing over the target however the effectiveness of said brainwashing is dependent on pretty much any variable you could care to name so it's not exactly the most reliable. The main three variables to watch for though are 1)whether or not the target is expecting the brainwashing 2)how likely the target is to do the thing being asked and 3)Costello's stamina.
Orchid's quirk is much more simple. She can produce flashes and bursts of light in various colours and brightnesses.
Hakamata Ichika is Best Jeanist's cousin, her quirk is probably literally called Textile Magic
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It’s been a couple of weeks. The kids’ costumes have finally arrived. They’re probably going to undergo a ton of changes once the kids actually start wearing them, and have already undergone some changes before even being made -Hagakure had to be brought in to completely redesign her costume after she submitted a design that was literally just a pair of gloves (Aizawa doesn’t blame her, no one expects Hakamata Ichika and her textile magic). But their costumes are here now, which means it’s time for them to train in-costume.
So Aizawa drags them all out to the USJ and ignores 13 glaring at him for using it like a regular training ground. He doesn’t know why they bother really, he’s been doing this for years now. It’s not his fault the USJ is the best facility UA has for training students to deal with many scenarios.
In later exercises the students will be grouped based on Midoriya’s notes -in teams that agencies would put together or request for similar situations, but for now they need to stay very flexible, so Aizawa pairs them randomly. They draw numbers and pair with the student that picked the same number. The goal is to capture the other team, with capture being basically anything that could be argued as captured. Such as rendering them unconscious or getting them to yield.
The first battle is Sero and Jirou against Uraraka and Costello. Aizawa gathers the rest of the class around a series of screens as the pairs head over to the rocky area they’ll be fighting in.
“Can anyone tell me who has the advantage here?”
Several hands go up and several students pointedly avoid eye contact. Kaminari does a pretty good impression of a student thoughtfully considering the question.
“Orchid?” It still feels weird to use her given name, but everyone figured out pretty quickly that she just doesn’t respond to her family name. As always she looks startled when he calls on her and has to think about her answer for a moment.
“Jirou and Sero?” Aizawa nods and gestures for her to continue. “...because Sero has a built in capture method? And the two will be expecting Costello’s quirk so it will be less effective.”
On the screens the pairs locate each other quickly. Sero immediately sprays tape, but Uraraka taps Costello and sets them both floating out of the way. She releases them almost immediately, but Costello’s already shifted by the time he lands. Everyone freezes and it takes him a second to realise why. He looks exactly like Kaminari. Costello doesn’t allow himself to freeze. This is a combat scenario and this definitely won’t be the last time he exposes someone’s crush. It just kind of sucks that it’s not intentional.
But Sero’s frozen up, so Costello takes advantage.
“Sweetie, could you tie up Jirou?” It’s an ambitious demand, but Sero’s still clearly panicking, so he does at least turn to face Jirou. Unfortunately Costello’s voice seems to startle the girls back into action and Jirou immediately blasts out sound. Uraraka floats herself in time to stop the shaking of the ground from affecting her, but Costello falls straight into the tape that Sero shot at them earlier. He struggles, but between the shaking ground and his general lack of dexterity he just manages to get utterly tangled up instead.
Uraraka doesn’t bother trying to untangle him, simply launches herself at Jirou the moment Jirou pauses to dodge Sero’s half-hearted attacks. She tackles Jirou and the pair go down in a mess of fists, feet, and tape. After a few seconds’ struggle, Jirou and Uraraka have both successfully incapacitated each other with the tape.
After a few more moments of struggle, Costello looks over at where Uraraka is trussed up and sighs. He shifts back, releasing the brainwashing, and the match ends. Sero blinks and pulls a small knife from his belt to free his classmates.
The entire class is silent as the pairs make their way back. Everyone saw Costello target Sero and shift into Kaminari. And everyone is now trying desperately not to stare at any of those three. Except for Ashido who looks about two seconds away from bursting if she doesn’t get to interrogate them all immediately. Aizawa ignores the awkwardness.
“Can anyone tell me why Sero and Jirou won and why they almost didn’t?”
No one makes eye contact, so Aizawa sighs.
“Sero and Jirou, you won because Costello underestimated Jirou’s quirk. Sero, you almost lost that for your team because even though you were well aware of Costello’s quirk, you didn’t fully think it through and still let yourself get caught off-guard by it. Uraraka and Jirou, good use of your quirks and fighting techniques. Costello, good use of your quirk, you’re getting better at choosing the right demands.”
And so they move on. Slightly awkwardly, but they move on for now.
Orchid and Shoji beat Aoyama and Koda, Iida and Ojiro only barely lose to Tokoyami and Sato, Bakugou and Yaoyorozu beat Hagakure and Kaminari with surprisingly few injuries all round, and Tsuyu and Todoroki soundly beat Ashido and Kirishima.
The second part of the exercise is chaotic. Evens against odds pits Bakugou against Todoroki which is always fun, and Aoyama immediately seeks out Orchid for a rematch. It’s really more for fun than training. Sure it tests their teamwork and functionality in larger battles, but by this point they’re all edging into their second wind. But eventually the lesson ends and they have to chip Bakugou out of the ice from where Todoroki managed to catch him off guard (with Uraraka’s help). Aizawa gathers them for a short debriefing then dismisses the class and they all disappear the moment he stops talking. It’s a talent.
Kaminari corners Sero outside the dorms before Ashido can get to either of them.
“So...” Kaminari trails off. He doesn’t exactly have a plan, he just knows this is the kind of thing you have to actually talk about. Thankfully Sero picks up the slack.
“Ok bro I might have a bit of a crush on you, but it happens a lot and it’ll probably just go away if I leave it, so don’t worry about it.” Sero is trying to desperately avoid eye contact.
“...Oh. Well. What if I don’t want it to?”
“What if I don’t want it to go away?” It’s Kaminari’s turn to avoid eye contact. Sero grins.
“Well then I guess we should go on a date, bro.” Kaminari grins back at him.
“I guess we should!”
When they enter the dorms holding hands they get a thumbs up from Aizawa, which is almost more mortifying than the conversation that ensues when Ashido spots them. Conversation is a strong word. She squeals until she runs out of breath then tries to interrogate them until Costello finds them. He starts to apologise but when he realises they’ve got together, he switches to crowing about his skills as a matchmaker. Bakugou threatens to blow him up if he even thinks about it and Costello immediately rounds on him and starts to shift. There’s a brief flash of red before Costello has to turn tail and run from a rapidly approaching Bakugou.
The rest of the day is pretty uneventful until Midoriya and Aizawa head out to a staff meeting and come back with the date of the sports festival.
The sports festival is gonna be Fun. Did you know that a lot of what happens centres on Izuku being a competitor :)
Also! I drew Orchid and Costello! https://stuckwithcats.tumblr.com/post/184920982844/my-bnha-ocs-for-a-fic-im-writing-orchid-is-a (lmao how do you embed links)
I'll be honest this chapter was more filler, and I wanted to show that hey this is where the USJ villain attack would be, look how absent it is! Take note! No League Of Villains in this fic! Their plot and motivation was too inextricably linked with the OFA/AFO quirk stuff which I cut out!
Next chapter has actual plot in it, I swear.
Anyway, if the next chapter isn't out in about two weeks come and yell at me on tumblr @stuckwithcats or on here
Chapter 3: Sports Festival Part One
Ok this is technically like two days late and it doesn't even cover everything I wanted it to -the 1v1 fights need a lot more attention than I thought lmao.
I forgot to mention last chapter, but I envision Hagakure's costume to be something like this one:
(I still don't know how to embed links)
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Izuku is nervous for several reasons. It’s the day of the sports festival, though really ‘sports festival’ is a bit of a misnomer, it’s a way to show off their students’ abilities and potential. All the students have been training hard, but Izuku is still nervous for them. He’s also nervous because Endeavour is here to see his son compete and based on Todoroki’s reaction to that little bit of news, the two should be kept away from each other as much as physically possible. And he’s worried because Bakugou is still an overly competitive asshole and doesn’t even seem to have bothered to even try and learn half his classmates’ names. And some of the students, like Hagakure, have been relying heavily on the abilities their costumes give them in training, but in the festival they aren’t allowed to use their costumes and support gear. And- Izuku’s thoughts get abruptly halted by Aizawa batting his head with a roll of paper.
“Kid, you’re muttering again.”
“Ah, sorry sir, I’m just nervous.” He can practically hear Aizawa’s eyes rolling.
“You aren’t even competing, calm down.”
Any response Izuku could have made is prevented by the entry of Present Mic.
“HEEEYYYYYY SHO-” Mic pouts as Aizawa immediately turns and activates his quirk, silencing him instantly.
“Well, Yamada’s here, I’m going to go check on 1-A.” Mic opens his mouth to protest, but Aizawa gets there first.
“Yes, ok, that was our deal.”
Mic makes an offended sound, but doesn’t resist when Aizawa pulls him onto his lap and kisses his temple, so Izuku’s pretty sure he doesn’t really care. If anything he probably appreciates the alone time with his husband before they have to start presenting the sports festival. Izuku leaves.
His decision to check on 1-A is validated when he enters the room where they’re all waiting to be announced to find Bakugou being physically restrained by Kirishima, trying to launch himself at a panicked Iida who can’t seem to dig himself out of a verbal hole of accidentally insulting Bakugou. When Izuku sighs loudly -he didn’t used to do that, he’s probably picking up bad habits from Aizawa- they do have the decency to face him and stop looking quite so murderous. Kirishima and Iida even look somewhat ashamed of the whole thing. No such luck with Bakugou, but he at least stands still and stops glaring at Iida.
“Ok, the festival is about to begin. If you can try to focus your attention on doing your best rather than taking down others, that would be great. If you make it past round one, we’re having a movie night that Aizawa isn’t allowed to end. If you make it past round two you get to pick the movies and food for said movie night. If you don’t care about that, then suck it up and fight for glory or something.”
Before any of the students have any time to react beyond Ashido’s whoop at the prospect of an Aizawa-sanctioned movie night, Mic’s voice rings out over the loudspeakers and officially begins the sports festival.
Izuku ushers them out into the arena then goes to eavesdrop on the business studies kids. They’re “absolutely nightmarish to talk to or deal with in any capacity” according to Aizawa, but apparently they’re also good for getting an outside opinion on how the hero course kids are faring. There’s some sniping between the two hero course classes and a purple haired kid who wandered over from general studies, but this is a competition and no one looks like they’re actually about to commit murder, so Izuku doesn’t bother interrupting.
The athlete’s oath is a disaster. Izuku and Aizawa had even told Bakugou it was happening weeks in advance in an apparently useless attempt to get him to plan something specifically so he wouldn’t just predict his own victory. But it’s over soon enough and Midnight recovers quickly enough that the oath gets somewhat swept under the rug as the classes line up for the start of the race. Izuku still thinks it’s stupid to build an entire arena and then have the first event be a race around the outside of the arena so that everyone has to watch it on the screens.
Todoroki takes an early lead, freezing many of his competitors in place and sliding along an ice path. He does it ridiculously casually and Izuku has to fight to keep his grin in the realm of sane. But of course the rest of 1-A is prepared, and a good amount of the other students are able to avoid the ice or free themselves easily. A support course kid with neon orange hair even goes around those still stuck and uses his blowtorch quirk to melt the ice enough to free them before hopping onto some sort of hoverboard. Somewhere behind Izuku a business studies kid mutters “-prioritised hero course, good show of self-sacrifice, good use of the allowance for support course gear, would be easy to get an internship with...” Izuku should really hang out with the business course kids, they make his ramblings seem almost normal.
The race continues.
Todoroki freezes robots so they’ll fall once he passes them. Bakugou blasts over the top of a robot and seems startled when others copy his route. Yaoyorozu gets Kaminari and a couple of 1-B students to distract some of the robots then blasts a path with a huge cannon that Izuku doesn’t remember her learning how to make.
The support course students shine in their own way when everyone reaches the floating islands, handing out jetpacks and hoverboards and grappling hooks and the like before heading across. The majority of the general studies kids are simply not bothering to pretend like they’re trying to win now that they’re out of active danger from the robots; but some of them are still in the running. Weirdly the general studies kid from earlier stops and waits for several people to cross before taking some of the support gear and heading across the islands himself. No one else seems to have noticed, but Izuku files it away as weird and makes a note to talk to him later before refocussing on his own students. Todoroki’s still leading but both Bakugou and Iida are catching up quickly. A girl from class 1-B with vines for hair ferries several classmates across, using her hair as a giant raft-thing, then dumps them and gains on the three current leaders. But she doesn’t manage to overtake them.
Which actually turns out to be a good thing when the bit that looks like a straight run to the finish turns out to be full of mines that knock Iida off his feet and force the other two to slow down and dodge. She simply creates a vine platform with plenty of vine ‘legs’ to scurry spider-like over the mines. Some of the ‘legs’ get damaged by the mines, and Bakugou’s explosions, and Todoroki’s attempts to halt her, but she just grows more and is quickly leading the pack.
It’s very close between the first four, but the 1-B girl -Shiozaki according to Mic’s commentary- beats out the three 1-A boys comfortably. None of them look too happy about it, but Iida is at least congratulating Shiozaki rather than looking blankly at her (Todoroki) or setting off little explosions dangerously close to her hair (Bakugou). Gradually other students filter in, and after an awkward chaotic moment where everyone who didn’t make the cut for round two gets dismissed, Midnight announces the next round. This one is actually inside the arena, so both Cementoss and Midnight as referees actually have something to do.
A cavalry battle. Teams of at least two with at least one of them riding. Each person has a headband with points based on their positioning in the race with the amounts increasing by five each time. Which seems simple enough except, for some godforsaken reason, whoever planned this event decided that whoever came first in the race should have a headband worth 1 million points. After that little announcement the arena descends into chaos as people group up. A lot of the students deliberately avoid Shiozaki not wanting to make themselves immediate targets, but two students make a beeline for her – a silver-haired boy from 1-B and a pink-haired girl from support who’d been very vocal about her creations during the race.
Shiozaki loses the million-point headband almost immediately – it’s difficult to protect when it’s sitting on top of what she was using to protect it. Then it just becomes a face off between Bakugou and Todoroki’s teams for the headband while Shiozaki uses her vines to sneak some of their other headbands away. It’s honestly a mess. Bakugou never manages to get the million point headband, but in his attempts his team manages to grab enough others to make it through to the next round. The support course girl -Hatsume, if Izuku’s remembering Mic’s commentary correctly- seems disappointed when her team immediately loses the headband because now they’re out of the spotlight. It doesn’t stop her from taking every opportunity to use her “babies” and spout off loudly about their functionality. Yeah that’s definitely Hatsume, the support course teachers have complained about her a lot for this exact kind of thing. Izuku kind of dreads that eventually he’s going to have to deal with the support course directly.
The cavalry battle has to be called off when Todoroki covers basically the entire arena with ice and makes it basically unusable a minute before it was meant to end, but no one wants to go through the whole thing again, so they call it finished and call a brief intermission while points are added up and the arena is cleared.
After a lot of discussion -apparently two of the teams tied and two of the students who made it through decided to drop out, something about not remembering the round- the tournament bracket is drawn up and displayed. The students get a five minute break before they’re expected back and ready to fight one-on-one.
The first fight is going to be interesting. Costello against the kid from general studies, who apparently also has a brainwashing quirk, according to Ojiro and Aoyama. They should know, he brainwashed them for the cavalry battle. As far as they can tell, if you talk to him then he brainwashes you. Or something like that, they aren’t exactly helpful.
Costello looks very relaxed standing in the arena. Mic announces his opposition as Shinsou, and Midnight recites the rules: they fight until one is out of bounds, unable to continue, or yields.
The match begins.
Sometimes you get to do cliffhangers.
Again, the next chapter should be up in about two weeks, feel free to yell at me about anything in the comments here or on my tumblr @stuckwithcats
Also! The very talented @maggiecore drew Costello and Orchid! Go check it out:
Costello rolls his shoulders and shifts in a fluid movement that he definitely practised for the drama. He comes out of it blond and stocky and Shinsou squints at him, but doesn’t hesitate.
“Who, exactly, is that meant to be?”
Costello remembers Ojiro and Aoyama’s warning, but his quirk requires verbal instruction, so he braces himself and opens his mouth.
He gets cut off by Shinsou’s brainwashing. He is instructed to cancel his quirk, turn around, and walk out of the arena.
“You know, it’s kind of disappointing. You hero course students are hyped up by everyone, and yet you’re so reliant on your quirk you didn’t even consider using any other form of attack. I guess that’s what happens when you’re blessed, when you can use your quirk at will, when you get the luxury of treating it like an extra limb rather than something to be avoided.”
High up in the announcer’s box, Mic sucks in a breath. Aizawa glances at him, eyes catching on the paper-thin scars where a mask once sat. He reaches over and squeezes his husband’s hand, getting a flicker of a smile in return. Costello’s movements have slowed as if he’s trying to fight the brainwashing, but Shinsou keeps talking.
“I could so easily be a villain, everyone’s always told me so, but I decided to be a hero instead. And what happened? I got rejected. UA pitted me against giant robots and rejected me when I couldn’t brainwash them.” Shinsou hesitates. “But I’m still trying. So just...hurry up and lose.”
Costello does so and immediately whirls around as the control breaks. Midnight announces Shinsou as the winner, but before she can even finish talking, Costello is racing back over to Shinsou.
“Oh my god! That was so cool! Well not the vent-y monologue thing, that sounded like it sucks, but like your quirk is so cool! Ooh, you have to meet Midoriya!” He grabs Shinsou’s arm and pulls him towards the waiting rooms. Shinsou is too baffled to do anything but follow. “He’s going to have a field day with your quirk, he really loves looking at non-physical quirks, says they’re more versatile or something -he really hates that there are so few of us in the hero course for him to analyse. Fair warning, he’s probably going to do a lot of theorising before he lets you talk at all, and he’s definitely going to compare our quirks a lot, but-”
“Wait, what?” Shinsou stops walking. Costello lets him now that they’re in one of the corridors.
“Why would he compare our quirks?”
“You don’t know what my quirk is, do you?”
“Isn’t it some sort of shapeshifting thing? You shapeshifted at the start of the match.”
Costello laughs a little.
“Yeah, uh, sort of? It’s called Allure. I shapeshift into someone the target desires or would desire, and then I have a form of mind control over them. You’re apparently into blonde guys by the way.”
Shinsou stares at him. For an uncomfortably long time.
“...How the hell did you get onto the hero course?”
That wasn’t what Costello was expecting, but really it should have been given Shinsou’s whole speech. In Costello’s defence he wasn’t actually listening much over the brainwashing.
“Uh, I have a cousin who failed the exam a while back, and she said that they also give points for rescues, so I mainly focused on helping other entrants. Also a couple of the robots had really obvious off buttons that I could reach, so. But really it was a family thing, I barely even used my quirk the entire time which sucked.” Costello grimaces. “Anyway, I’m going to introduce you to Midoriya, he’s probably dying to meet you.”
True to his word, when they enter the seating area Midoriya is almost immediately in front of them with a notebook.
“Hi, I’m Midoriya Izuku, I’m this lot’s TA-” He gestures vaguely to the 1-A students sitting in the nearby seats “-and I have some questions about your quirk and general aspirations. No pressure, but I’m probably going to talk to Aizawa about you, given the whole hero thing. He’ll definitely want to talk to you about that. But for now, what can you tell me about your quirk -it’s a type of brainwashing, right?”
Shinsou takes a moment to process that there was a question in there. He doesn’t make eye contact when he answers, and that definitely goes in the scribbled notes that Izuku makes.
“Uh, yeah, it’s brainwashing. If someone verbally responds to me I get total control over them. I can make them do most things, but anything requiring complex thought or whatever is off the table.”
“Nice! How many can you control at once, I know that Costello can only control one person at a time, but both Ojiro and Aoyama said you brainwashed them and there was that kid from 1-B who dropped out?”
Shinsou looks slightly taken aback.
“Yeah I, uh, three is, three is about my limit. More than that and I get a headache and my control wavers and stuff.”
Somewhere below them in the arena, Aoyama is losing to Sero, but Izuku can watch the 1-A students fight each other whenever, learning about Shinsou is much more time-sensitive.
And so the final part of the sports festival passes. Iida pretty much gets used as an advert by Hatsume for about ten minutes before she neatly walks out of the ring and bows to the audience. Mina does her best, but she’s pitted against Todoroki so no-one’s surprised when she loses. Kaminari gets absolutely destroyed by Shiozaki and only gets more fake-angry about it when Iida neatly avoids her vines and charges her out of the ring.
Kirishima manages to befriend his opponent, which surprises exactly no-one.
Todoroki wins against Iida in the semi-final. Then Shinsou is pitted against Bakugou.
Bakugou is well aware of Shinsou’s quirk. He’s used it in both previous rounds (despite Sero’s best attempts) and he definitely overheard Midoriya’s conversation with Shinsou earlier. So Shinsou isn’t surprised when Bakugou comes flying at him with his mouth pressed tightly closed. But, though Shinsou isn’t exactly physically great, he has good enough reactions to dodge.
“Hey Katsuki! When I beat you, do you think they’ll let me replace you on the hero course?” Bakugou doesn’t rise to the easy bait. Shinsou isn’t surprised. He is slightly winded when Bakugou lands a glancing blow on his ribs, but Shinsou skips backward and sideways and glances behind him to gauge how close he is to getting knocked out of bounds.
“Wow, was that the best you’ve got?” Still no verbal response, though Bakugou does turn to face him again.
“I expected more from the top hero course student, especially after that speech you gave earlier, what was it?” he twists his voice into something mocking before continuing. “’You’ll all make great stepping stones’ that’s quite a claim, don’t you think?”
Bakugou swings at him again, and it’s pure chance that he isn’t blasted out of bounds. Shinsou peels himself off the floor and forces himself to move further into the ring even though every movement hurts now. He’s running out of time. One more hit like that and he’ll either be out or forced to yield. But he doesn’t know what to say to push Bakugou’s buttons...unless. It’s going to be a ridiculous gamble that’s either very worth it or very painful. But it’s not like he has any better ideas. Especially since Bakugou is barrelling towards him.
“Just what is your history with Midoriya?”
“Fuc-” Shinsou grins. Gotcha. Bakugou walks calmly out of the ring and Shinsou lets himself sink to his knees. Bakugou whirls around as soon as he’s released from Shinsou’s brainwashing, but is waved away by the paramedics who rush to tend to Shinsou’s burns. There is a necessary short break while Shinsou is healed.
Izuku uses said break to check on Todoroki. He’s been resolutely avoiding using his fire all year, and his therapist has expressed concern over his general unwillingness to talk about, well, anything. Izuku gets sidetracked when he finds Endeavour wandering the corridors, clearly looking for Todoroki. Todoroki may not talk about his home life, but Aizawa’s own investigation is enough for Izuku to know to keep Endeavour as far away from Todoroki as possible.
“Sir, you cannot be back here, this is the area for the students, not for the guests.” For all his anxiety, Izuku manages a good approximation of uncaring but firm. And unaware. It pisses Endeavour off, which was after all the intention. He still pretends to be civil.
“I was looking for my son. He’s competing.”
“I’m sorry sir, but even if I could verify that, only members of UA staff are allowed to interact with the students during the competition. It’s a safety measure.” Not entirely true. “I can, however, take a message if you would like?” Absolute bullshit.
Endeavour doesn’t look happy, but Izuku does actually have the power to have him removed from the event entirely, and he seems to realise this. He leaves a message with Izuku -full of far too many thinly veiled threats than Izuku would like or expect. Izuku doesn’t bother attempting to relay it, instead walks Endeavour back to public area and resolves to have a talk with Todoroki later.
Just like all of Shinsou’s matches, the final is almost painfully short. But this time it’s because Todoroki can keep his mouth shut. Shinsou is running himself ragged very quickly just avoiding Todoroki’s ice blasts.
“So is there a reason, you haven’t been using your fire or-” It definitely catches Todoroki off-guard. Unfortunately for Shinsou, his response is to send a huge wall of ice crashing into him and knocking him out of bounds, rather than respond verbally. The match is called. Shinsou doesn’t bother trying to sit up, his everything hurts, but he does at least roll over so there isn’t a piece of ice digging into his back. The medics will fix him, it’s fine. He’s slightly disappointed that he didn’t take first, but coming second in the sports festival and beating one of the top hero course students to get there will definitely be good for his bid to join the hero course.
Both Izuku and Aizawa note Todoroki’s reaction to Shinsou.
Bakugou fumes from the third place podium, and Shinsou doesn’t bother hiding his smug smile from the second place podium. Todoroki simply stares blankly. You’d miss it if you weren’t looking for it, but he avoids looking anywhere near his father.
The first year sports festival is over.
I didn't think I'd be addressing the 'Costello has a brainwashing quirk so wtf is going on with Shinsou' thing in this chapter (and I'm not done with it yet) but Costello didn't react to losing like I was expecting, so...
Yes I realise I only described three of Shinsou's fights, but in my defence, his part of the tournament is the thing that I changed most about the sports festival, and most of the other fights played out pretty much as in canon.
Next chapter we have some dadzawa content that I'm excited for! (Including a headcanon that I haven't really seen much of, but I hope y'all will like.)
As always please scream at me if the chapter isn't out in like two weeks
Chapter 5: Shinsou? Shinson.
SO this took a lot longer to write than I thought it would. In my defense, summer holidays depression hit me and it is like twice as long as the previous chapters.
For more info about the OCs here, check out this post and/or yell at me https://stuckwithcats.tumblr.com/post/187783390454/ok-so-these-are-the-four-ocs-from-the-latest
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Izuku talks to Aizawa about Shinsou as soon as they dismiss the students. He shouldn’t be surprised that Aizawa is the one that brings it up -he’s met Himei, and he’s seen Penelope around campus, he knows Aizawa keeps an eye out for students in need- but somehow, he’s still surprised when Aizawa turns to him and says:
“What do you think of Shinsou?”
“Well he’s definitely got potential -already has good control of his quirk, just needs to work on how to actually fight. Brainwashing definitely has a lot of uses, and his is way more reliable than Costello’s, it’s really a shame that he’s in general studies, especially since he seems to want to be a hero...” Izuku trails off for a second.
“We can apply to have him transferred, don’t worry about that. What about him, not just his quirk?”
Izuku must look slightly startled, because Aizawa continues.
“I saw you talking to him during Sero and Aoyama’s match, I know you must have an opinion.”
“...He seemed...uncertain? I don’t think he’s ever had anyone take interest in his quirk positively before. That speech was definitely concerning, and I don’t know if you could see it from the announcer’s box but he’s frighteningly skinny, and I don’t want to assume anything, but...I don’t think he’s in a good place right now.” He pauses and, at a gesture from Aizawa, continues. “Personality-wise? He didn’t talk unless spoken to, but he seemed...basically decent? I didn’t really have that much of a conversation with him, but he didn’t act like a dick or anything, wouldn’t clash with the current students any more than average.”
“Ok, I’ll look into it. Be prepared to interview him as a potential hero course transfer, and you can add him to your quirk analysis list that I know you have.”
“...It’s a book, sir.”
Aizawa rolls his eyes and sighs. “Of course it is.” But he ruffles Izuku’s hair, so Izuku decides it’s at least somewhat fond.
Aizawa spends the next hour or so tracking down Shinsou’s parents and going over their general record and every report on Shinsou he can find. Not just on his home life, though that definitely is a concern -especially after he talks to a few other teachers and they all note that he seems overworked and underfed- but also anything where Shinsou mentioned future plans. It takes about five minutes for him to figure out a plan. Admittedly that’s mostly because he’s done this kind of thing several times before rather than some special planning skill.
He’s going to offer to train Shinsou in preparation for the hero course and keep an eye on the home life situation. But figuring out when to approach Shinsou is a later problem. Right now he has about an hour before he has to help with the preparation of the second year sports festival for tomorrow, and he has a husband he can nap on.
Shinsou had a plan. During the sports festival he was going to make it through the first two rounds without drawing attention to himself, and then blow everyone out of the park and make it onto the pedestal in the final round. One-on-one fights are, after all, pretty easy as long as he can get his opponent to talk. First place would have been nice, but really second or third would still be grounds for considering an application to be transferred to the hero course. Step one had been completed.
Step two was to figure out a way to get his parents to agree to sign off on the application.
It isn’t going to be easy. After all, he’s not allowed to ask questions and they never thought he should try and be a hero in the first place. The muzzle is also going to be an issue. It’s going to be difficult to argue his case when he can’t talk. But when he figures out how to convince them he can apply for transfer and he’ll hopefully make it.
Well, that was the plan.
However, two days after the sports festival, Aizawa corners him after a lesson. Doesn’t bother with introductions or pleasantries just starts talking.
“You want to become a hero.”
It’s not a question. Shinsou answers with a nod anyway.
“You’ve missed out on the training those on the hero course have had. You are physically weaker and less trained in actual combat. Currently, they are ahead of you. But you still managed to defeat all but one of them. That tells me you have potential. Based on your little speech, I assume you were planning on using your success as the sports festival to back an application for transfer, correct?”
Shinsou startles slightly, but nods again.
“Good plan, but it’ll take months before that application is considered and you’d only join the class next year, at which point you’d be ridiculously behind your peers. It would be an uphill battle just to stay on the course, let alone excel.”
Shinsou winces and stops making eye contact. Aizawa rests a hand on his shoulder.
“There’s another option. I can train you. After school or on weekends or whenever our schedules work.” He waves a hand vaguely. “But I can train you in all the things they’re learning that you aren’t. And I’ll talk to Nezu about it. We can probably drag you along for the summer camp we’re planning, and the training we do there can serve as a test to see if you’re right for the hero course. If yes, you’ll join the hero course for the start of the coming term, if not, you won’t. Having a teacher actively support your request and initiate the transfer process will make everything happen a lot faster, trust me.”
Shinsou can’t talk for a moment. It’s...a lot.
“Why would you do this for me?” He eventually manages. Aizawa sighs.
“Because I was in your position once. Except no teacher decided to support me even though I won the sports festival my first year. It took me a year to get onto the course and then months to get on par with the other students. I got threatened with expulsion so often that I overworked myself on multiple occasions. It’s not something that I want to just let happen again. And I can see your potential. You beat out some of my most promising students and you’ve impressed my TA.”
“...Thank you, sir.”
Aizawa smiles at him.
“Also, if Vlad King comes and tries to offer you the same thing tell him I got dibs.”
When Shinsou winces (only slightly, just the tiny bit that he couldn’t stifle) because Aizawa asked him to get parental permission for training sessions, alarm bells ring in Aizawa’s head. Well, more alarm bells. Aizawa gets the permission instead and Shinsou does a not-good-enough job of hiding his relief when they finalise hour-long training sessions after every other school day.
The first training session is, inevitably, awkward. Shinsou's much more formal with Aizawa than a lot of his regular students and it doesn't help that he's clearly never had any combat training in his life. Normally Aizawa tends to throw his students in at...not the deep end per se, but definitely in the pool.
The problem is that Shinsou really doesn’t know anything about hand-to-hand combat to the point that five seconds into the spar that Aizawa would have used to gauge Shinsou’s abilities, he’s already stopping to get Shinsou to untuck his thumb. But the first session is enough to lay the groundwork for some basic techniques. And enough for Aizawa to realise that the kid seriously needs to put on some muscle, and probably change his diet a lot too given how skinny he is. And to lecture Shinsou about not relying on his quirk. So it’s successful.
By their third training session, Shinsou looks like death warmed over. He wasn’t in great condition to begin with, and the increase in physical demand is already really getting to him.
Aizawa takes one look at him and tells him to get changed into the casual clothes he brings to each session. Shinsou hesitates for a second at that, but Aizawa makes no move towards the training area, so Shinsou obeys.
Then Aizawa leads him off-campus and down several side streets, until they reach a cat cafe where the barista greets Aizawa by name and is very obviously trying not to ask about Shinsou. Aizawa orders them both sandwiches and scoops up a fluffy grey cat, expertly balancing the tray in one hand and the cat all across his shoulders. He makes a beeline for a table with three chairs- two empty, and one taken by a large white cat. When Shinsou sits down he gets the grey cat placed gently in his lap. Apparently, her name is Amai and she’s a dumb sweetheart. As evidenced by the way she just kind of flops on Shinsou’s lap and almost falls off trying to lean into his hand. Amai apparently distracts him for a while, because when he glances up again Aizawa has eaten half his sandwich and a small tuxedo cat has materialised in the capture weapon still slung around his neck.
When Shinsou finally actually starts eating the sandwich (roast beef, not his favourite, but still food) Aizawa starts talking.
“Ok, your diet is really going to have to change if you want to make it on the hero course. As it is, you aren’t getting enough of the right things to allow your body to actually do anything with the training we’re doing. If anything, the training is making your body worse because you’re expending so much more energy now. We basically need to get more protein and more carbs into you on a regular basis.”
He seems to notice the panic that flashes across Shinsou’s face at that.
“I can talk to your parents about it if you want, and the school will probably cover any extra costs.”
Shinsou feels selfish and cowardly as he nods. But Aizawa is the one who offered, and he can always make it up to him later. He swallows the bite of sandwich that now tastes like ash and nods again.
“Yes please, sir.”
“Don’t worry about it, kid.”
They finish their food in near silence, only broken by the occasional remark made to or about a cat. Shinsou learns a lot about the cats here. He wouldn’t call it exactly fun, Aizawa is still a teacher after all, but there’s cats and food and it’s a decent kind of quiet, so it’s a pretty good afternoon.
Hell, Aizawa even drops him off at home so that he can talk to Shinsou’s parents straight away about the food stuff.
Sure they lock him in his room and don’t let him eat that night, but it’s fine, he deserved to be punished for inconveniencing someone who’s already going out of their way to help him and he ate with Aizawa anyway.
Aizawa asked Hizashi to come up with some excuse to interrupt his training session with Shinsou. It was meant to be so that Hizashi could give a second opinion on Shinsou’s progress and on whether or not they need to step in with his home life.
He hadn’t expected Shinsou to narrow his eyes at the way they greet each other and the ring on Hizashi’s finger and declare loudly:
“You two are married, aren’t you.”
From anyone else, it would be a question, but Shinsou doesn’t tend to ask questions- especially unprompted. Aizawa sighs and fishes his ring out from where it hangs on a chain around his neck.
“Congrats kid, you are officially more observant than the entirety of 1-A.”
Aizawa accepts the folder that Hizashi had ostensibly come to deliver to him and gives him a kiss on the forehead. If the kid’s figured it out, there’s not much point in the token pretence they tend to keep up. And Hizashi’s grin is like sunshine, so he can’t regret it even when Shinsou looks at them slightly strangely. The rest of the session is fairly standard.
Hizashi suggests a voice changer for when they actually get onto quirk training and, when Shinsou leaves, agrees that Shinsou still looks too thin but is definitely better than before. And confirms Aizawa’s suspicion that the faint indents on his face look terrifyingly like muzzle markings. There are other things it could be. It’s just. Nothing comes to mind. And if Shinsou’s parents are muzzling him then they need to get him out of there sooner than possible.
Aizawa spends the next day trying to figure out a way to ask Shinsou about the marks without being too blatant.
“Do your parents muzzle you?” Shit. The question blindsides Shinsou. He’s not meant to let people know. His parents had been very clear about that. He was only muzzled for their safety but some people wouldn’t see it that way, and if anyone found out he’d be taken away and he doesn’t want to leave his parents, they are his family, they love him, he can’t leave them.
He takes too long to say no.
He can see it in Aizawa’s eyes. He doesn’t believe Shinsou. And he shouldn’t, Shinsou is lying, but Shinsou should have lied better or hidden it better or something. Aizawa just looks at him for a second longer, then continues the session. Shinsou fumbles moves he learnt during that first session a couple of weeks ago.
Aizawa doesn’t turn up to their next session, instead Present Mic drags him off to that cat cafe claiming that Aizawa had some errands to run. It’s a blatant lie, but Shinsou isn’t going to call him on it. Mic lets him choose his own food, but still pins him under a cat. This one is a very affectionate ginger.
“Alright little listener, I’m going to presume that your parents muzzle you ‘for safety’, yes?” Mic’s hands are busy with a tabby, but Shinsou can hear the air quotes. He hesitates before he nods. It feels like a betrayal even though Mic clearly already knows.
“Let me tell you a story.”
He gestures to the thin, faded scars on his cheeks. You probably wouldn’t notice them if you weren’t looking for them, but they’re there.
“My quirk manifested very early. I was a baby, and when I cried I blew out the windows and my parents’ eardrums. They were deafened, permanently as far as I know, and they couldn’t deal with a child that dangerous so they put me in the foster system.” He pauses for a second, and when he speaks again Shinsou is shocked that his usually chirpy teacher can sound so disdainful. “Thankfully, social services got me a muzzle so I wasn’t able to harm anyone else with my quirk. I wore it basically 24/7, meaning that I never got a chance to learn how to control my quirk and amplifying the problem. And of course then they couldn’t take it off, I was dangerous, they couldn’t trust me not to hurt people.”
Shinsou winces. Mic seems to notice. His voice softens.
“A year before I started studying at UA I finally got adopted. My mums saw that I was being muzzled and they knew it wasn't right. They spent a good deal of that year helping me learn to control my quirk properly. It took me far longer than anyone else in my year to start using my quirk to its full potential because I missed out on all those years of experimentation. It took me even longer to shake the idea that I was dangerous, and I was only able to do all that because my mum's actually cared about me and helped me. Hitoshi, your parents may have had fears about your quirk, but preventing you from using it is only ever going to make things worse! What they're doing to you is wrong, and they don't care enough to fix it."
Shinsou doesn’t make eye contact, focuses on the ginger cat in his lap instead. Mic sighs.
“Shinsou, your home situation is not good. You...you don’t have to, but Aizawa and I would adopt you if you want out. Please consider it.”
Shinsou doesn’t really think he will, but he nods anyway. Mic smiles.
“Anyway! I think I know the answer to this, but cats or dogs?”
Shinsou’s mouth twists into a half-smile.
And just like that, they move on.
Shinsou gets locked in his room again that night. Mic dropped him off and his parents saw. This time it takes a little longer for Shinsou to remind himself that he’d inconvenienced someone helping him so he deserves to be punished. The muzzle doesn’t help.
With these situations, it’s never one thing. It’s never one speech or one action or one anything. But as the days stretch into weeks, Shinsou gradually realises that he hates the muzzle.
He’s never given his parents any reason to think he’d use his quirk on them. He’s not exactly sure if he loves them. Thinks that maybe they don’t love him. Love requires care, and if they cared they wouldn’t have used a temporary stopgap solution for far longer than ‘temporary’ implies.
He doesn’t hate them. But he feels like he maybe should.
In the end it’s nothing special that gets him to sign the adoption papers.
He gets locked in his room for resisting putting on the muzzle. He hasn’t eaten yet. And he remembers that Aizawa gave him his address and a no-questions-asked invite. So he sneaks out.
When he shows up at Aizawa’s, a ginger girl called Penelope picks the lock on the muzzle, and he joins Aizawa (and Yamada, and Penelope, and a little boy called Akira, and an older girl called Akane) for dinner. He gets bundled into a spare room and given a change of clothes before he can even consider leaving.
When he wakes up, there are adoption papers sitting conspicuously on the dresser.
Shinsou doesn’t even really think about it, just signs them.
Aizawa collects Shinsou’s things. Shinsou’s old parents give him the muzzle. He gets Akane to melt it in front of Shinsou. She uses her smelting quirk to turn it into a disc of metal with some plastic parts wedged into it. It ends up on a garbage dump somewhere. Shinsou doesn’t miss it.
When they get him settled on a more nutritious diet they return to training.
It’s...good. It’s not like the clouds suddenly open up and everything is magically so much better, Shinsou was too deep in denial for that, and he’s still reluctant to ask questions, but he’s happier now. His new siblings take some time to get used to. Shinsou’s never really interacted with eight year olds before, save for when he was eight (and even then not really) so he’s not exactly sure how he’s meant to be talking to Akira. But Akira’s been in the foster system for most of his life and has got that ‘forced into maturity because of trauma’ thing going, so he and Shinsou end up bonding over the surprise joy of cats. Penelope’s in the year above and also in General Studies, so he’s definitely seen her around. Not enough that it isn’t slightly awkward to now be related, but enough that their existing dynamic just needs to get adjusted a little. Akane is...Akane is terrifying. She’s a third year Support course student and is thus highly cursed. Shinsou learns pretty quickly to never enter her room or eat anything she offers unless you’ve seen her make it. She likes to...experiment. There are others that he’s told will just show up sometimes, but they’re all adults with homes and jobs of their own, so they aren’t exactly at the forefront of his mind.
And so life goes on.
Fair warning, those are not the only OCs in this fic. in like 2 chapter's time we're gonna be dealing with the support course and Horikoshi didn't see fit to give me more than Hatsume so that's basically OC city
The next chapter will likely take less long, but I am probably going to have to make a side fic with three chapter for ship reasons so look forward to that nonsense.