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Stab My Back

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“We should just refuse to admit him,” Ectoplasm said, voicing the thought on several other heroes’s minds. “A recommendation is, after all, only a recommendation. For the safety of our students, and for society, we can’t afford to do something so reckless.”

“Ectoplasm–I respect your caution, in light of recent events,” Nezu said, paws clasped before him on the table. “But I hope you’ll all consider my motivation for recommending Touya Todoroki in the first place.”

“If it was anyone but you, sir, I wouldn’t even be entertaining the idea,” Ectoplasm replied, looking sideways at Snipe. Snipe had been keeping quiet, but Aizawa suspected that meant he agreed–at least in part–with what Ectoplasm was saying. Which was illogical–he should speak his mind at a time as important as this. 

Now more than ever, UA faculty needs to stick together, he thought absent-mindedly as he fixed the knot in All Might’s tie.

Of course, it was in the middle of that small intimacy that Nezu waved everyone’s attention down towards them. “I was discussing as much with All Might–what we stand to gain from a rehabilitation effort.”

Aizawa finished the knot under everyone’s gazes, returning their stares cooly as he sunk back into his chair, leaving the speaking to All Might. He’d been sleeping before the uncharacteristically slouchy nature of his boyfriend’s (boyfriend! The concept was strange even now) neckwear has roused him from his nap.

“...I know it’s a subversion of the League’s intentions with young Bakugo,” All Might said, sounding worn out and unsure. It reminded Aizawa of the meetings following the training camp incident; he didn’t like that. “We take one of their best and brightest, and mold him into a model hero. It would show the public how resilient UA is, at any rate, and how weak the villains’ convictions are…”

“Besides, it looks bad for the family member of a powerful hero to be fighting against us–especially the Number One Hero . Not to mention, it’s bad for morale.”

Something about Nezu’s words made All Might sink deeper into his chair. Aizawa frowned. Was he really going to get himself down over being retired? Later, they’d have to have a discussion about that, from a hero who had never had delusions of being number one to the man who had defined it for so long. Aizawa hated the thought of his partner being down, and yet, he also hated how many of his students were fighting for the number one spot.

Didn’t they all realize that they’d block each other? Only one, ultimately, could stand at the top. That kind of competition could crush them even before the villains arrived.

And they could live quite comfortably anywhere in the top ten...or top twenty! Or they could even augment their salary by teaching brats who wanted to be number one, and making them into heroes.

As Aizawa mused over their culture’s obsession with number one, Nezu was continuing his train of thought. “As the criminal ‘Dabi’, Touya Todoroki came very close to becoming another Stain-like figure in the hearts and minds of certain criminal elements. Even in his short time in the spotlight, he made large changes to the world.”

“Are you suggesting we use him to anchor Stain’s ideology on the right side of the law?” Midnight asked incredulously, playing with the cuffs around her wrists.

Nezu didn’t seem so downtrodden. “Perhaps some day! But for now, I think it’s better that we transform him back into what he is: a child. A child has far less political clout, and they’re easier to shape than adults.”

“He has no potential for hero work,” Aizawa grunted from inside his capture scarf. All eyes turned to him.

Nezu made a ‘go on’ gesture, so Aizawa sat up slightly out of the scarf. “I fought his copies twice at the training camp. Both times they disintegrated in under a minute. He’s old enough to be a third year without the bare minimum skills necessary to be a first year at UA. If this is about keeping him occupied, you should find something better, because eventually you will have to find something else to do with him.”

Not only would it be supremely unfair to students like Shinso who were in General Studies or elsewhere to have him occupying space and resources in the hero course...but it would also be unfair to him. And what better trigger to slide back into villainy than devoting years of his life to a goal he’s destined to never to reach? It’s for the best…

“While that may be so–and this is assuming that the copies are representative of his powers–I still feel like there’s something to be gained from placing Touya Todoroki at UA,” Nezu said, reaching for his tea. Aizawa knew that meant this was serious business, and yet, he was determined to stick to his guns. “Just being around heroes, and good role models, will go a long way towards rehabilitating him. Much more than any cell would. And I’d like to keep him and Kaminari close. I feel that that is another vital key to the process.”

Aizawa shook his head coldly. “This is another place I don’t agree with you. I don’t think you should let this go on, for Kaminari’s sake.”

Powerloader made a noise of disbelief in his throat, as if he were surprised that Aizawa was involving himself in his students’ romantic pursuits like a nervous parent. But Aizawa knew that he was in the right, here. “He’s my student, so of course I’m going to prioritize his safety and learning environment as much as possible–I don’t think he’s mature enough to handle this,” he said simply.

“...specifically what part of ‘this’?” Mic asked, sounding pretty nosy for a guy who’d been so quiet up until now.

“Any of it.” Aizawa said bluntly. “I’ve already got almost a dozen students in relationships, who now live together, who need to figure out that that means changes for their relationship. Kaminari is not one of the ones I’d consider mature enough to handle that without my intervention–or with it. Frankly, he’s an idiot. Add to that the villainy aspect, the kidnapping, and just about any part of this...I can’t imagine it ending well.”

“Ah, but, Sh–Aizawa!” All Might sat a little forward in his chair. “Give the boy some credit! It’s probably because of him that we have Endeavor’s son wanting to work with us in the first place!”

“Dumb luck.” Aizawa said flatly. And blond hair.

His own problem-with-blond-hair was looking at him with teeth locked and eyes anxious, stopping Aizawa from going to more extremes.

“What do you think, Vlad?” Nezu asked, looking down the table. “You’ve been quiet.”

Vlad King looked at Aizawa first before answering. That didn’t exactly make him happy–he didn’t want to be the representative of the ‘no’ camp. He preferred to be the voice of reason, but siding against Nezu rarely made him feel logical.

“Ultimately, my answer is no.” Vlad reached up and touched his jaw. “I understand your thought process, Nezu, but I don’t think this would reflect well on UA. We don’t want to open ourselves up to any more criticism.”

“Ultimately–are we ready for a vote, then?” Nezu leaned forward. “There seem to be enough of us for an even split, but I will accept a draw as cause to withdraw. In order to pull this off, we need a majority of our staff behind it.”

Most of the teachers nodded, doing a tally in their heads. Vlad: no. Nezu: yes.

“The kid’s suffered so much,” Powerloader said, giving Aizawa some massive side-eye. “I think we should do something about this.”

“It does give the heroes access to him,” Midnight mused, spreading her hands. “Rather than leaving him to the prison system. Here, we might have a chance to reach him.”

“I agree with Kayama,” All Might said, summoning some of his old enthusiasm. “We should always try to help those within our reach!”

Four yes, one no.

“No,” Snipe said, with a sigh. “This could all be a trick, to get intelligence on UA.”

Mic looked guilty as eyes flickered to him. “The bottom line is, he hasn’t earned it. The kids work hard to be here. He hasn’t been through any of the exams–it wouldn’t be right.”

“It’s better than jail...though I don’t like it either,” Thirteen said, looking uncomfortable. They had sounded so much more sure when this meeting began. Aizawa suspected their hesitance to switch sides completely was due to the closeness of the numbers. Ectoplasm had already made his position clear. One more no would tie up the vote, and leave Touya Todoroki to his fate.

All Might was looking at Aizawa with those stupidly hopeful eyes.

“I vote no,” he said shortly, returning that look without wavering. It was illogical to agree with someone consistently just because you were romantically involved. “For the good of the students.”

A few of the teachers looked surprised–specifically Midnight and Mic. Did they really think he’d cave just to tip the result? Or to satisfy his partner? He glanced over at All Might and thankfully, All Might didn’t seem disappointed. One thing Aizawa hadn’t really expected getting into this thing with All Might was how well they had come to understand one another.

“Ectoplasm?” Nezu asked, though in Aizawa’s opinion that was just a formality. Ectoplasm had already said his piece, made his opinion clear. But Powerloader was clearly was expecting some kind of miracle, based on the way he leaned in.

“What I think,” Ectoplasm said, leaning over the table. “Is that you have to tell him no, he didn’t qualify for our program…”