When Hizashi wanders into the teacher’s lounge that morning, Shouta locks eyes with him and there’s no point in even pretending he isn’t crying.
They’d left the house at different times--Shouta usually can’t sleep through the night and so a few days a week he patrols before school starts, while Hizashi needs around ten hours nightly and sleeps in a lot more. Their morning routine together often begins when they meet at the school, and that’s not usually a problem.
Except today, apparently. Because, again, Shouta is crying . Shouta hasn’t cried in public since their wedding (well, since about fifteen minutes after their reception was over, when he’d started getting emotional because the wine finally caught up with him). So, logically, Shouta understands why Hizashi takes one look at him and bolts across the lounge to sweep Shouta into a hug.
It doesn’t make it any easier for Shouta to get a grip on himself, that’s for sure.
“What’s going on?” Hizashi asks, when he’s successfully gotten a hold on Shouta and he’s made sure that Shouta isn’t injured somewhere. “Did something happen?”
Shouta pulls back to glower at him, and wipes his eyes with the back of his sleeve. The other teachers, largely gathered around the coffee table, keep shooting them awkward glances. Shouta wonders how long they’d been trying to get up the nerve to ask what was going on. If All Might had been on time for once, maybe the situation would be different, but nobody else is really on Shoulder-to-Cry-On status with Aizawa.
Not that Shouta would allow All Might to touch him when he was upset (or ever). He’s so grateful that All Might is allergic to being a responsible employee.
Anyway, he’s getting distracted from the real issue at hand--which is that Hizashi is going into full hero mode and Shouta needs to divert that as soon as possible.
“It’s nothing ,” Shouta says, frustrated. He gestures to the coffee machine, which is sort of smoking. “I just tried to make some damn coffee and it broke. ”
Hizashi looks so concerned . He lifts a hand to wipe tears off of Shouta’s cheeks, and examines his face closely for any signs of something else going on.
Shouta scrubs at his face again, because the tears are threatening to make a resurgence. “ Ugh. I got hit with a quirk this morning because I wasn’t watching where I was going. My eyes were really bad today.”
“Oh,” Hizashi says, sympathetic, and Shouta knows he’s thinking of the eye drops that he’d seen on the counter at home, forgotten. “Do you need--”
“No, I have some in my office. Plus, you know.” Shouta gestures slowly to his face, which is still blotchy. “Got it covered. It’s the quirk that’s making me like...this.”
“Wait, the quirk is making you...cry?”
Shouta scowls, embarrassed at even having to explain himself. “It appears to be making me cry whenever I feel an emotion that, perhaps, a very emotional person would cry at.”
“I hope you’re hydrated,” Hizashi says. There’s a complicated look on his face that only Shouta can decipher--and he realizes it’s because Hizashi is shifting from being real concerned towards being mock concerned.
“Is this a joke to you?” Shouta asks, but he’s borderline-smiling, which is much better than the desolate feeling he’d had right before Hizashi had come in. He looks back at the broken coffee maker, and the smile is gone. “I can’t teach a class like this.”
“Without coffee?” Hizashi teases.
“I can’t stand you.”
“Sit, then.” Hizashi pats Shouta’s arm, consolatory. “It’s not the worst thing in the world. You know, some people cry every day . Maybe it’s just catching up to you, and it isn’t a quirk at all.”
Shouta rolls his eyes magnificently, almost a full-body movement. “I specifically recall a man swearing at me for making him drop his groceries, and activating his quirk.”
“Maybe you just spend too much time around that kid Midoriya,” Hizashi says, ignoring his husband’s words, and brushes his hand over Shouta’s cheek. Across the room, Nemuri snorts, and Shouta shoots her a betrayed look. “It’s really sweet that you’ve bonded so closely with your classes.”
Shouta puts a palm over Hizashi's face and pushes him away, gently, but still hard enough for Hizashi to know that Shouta doesn’t enjoy being bullied this early in the morning. He’s now been reminded that there’s a ninety-percent chance of him crying in front of class 3-A, which is the nightmare scenario. “You’re sleeping on the couch.”
“Sure.” Hizashi glances at the clock, and so does Shouta, and to both their dismay, there are only a few minutes before they need to head to their respective classrooms. “Let me walk you to class, alright?” Hizashi says. “I missed you this morning.”
“Okay, I’d appreciate that,” Shouta says. His eyes fill with tears again as he speaks, just because his husband makes him feel loved just by looking at him. “Dammit . ”
He’s going to be a laughingstock. Admitting that he got hit by a quirk, not on patrol, but because he was too irresponsible to grab his eye drops on the way out the door, would be humiliating.
Shouta zips the zipper of his sleeping bag so that only his forehead is showing, and he lies very still at the front of the class as he hears the children slowly congregate at their desks. He needs to steel himself, because one worrying comment or flinch or downcast look from these damn kids is going to make him bawl again.
Shouta may not seem like it, but he knows himself. And he knows that this quirk is going to do more damage to his reputation than the time he’d accidentally worn one of his husband’s sweaters to school.
(It had been the only thing in the drawer on laundry day, and he’d grabbed it without thinking, not even noticing the bright yellow lettering that said TURN UP with a little cartoon of Hizashi in his Present Mic getup underneath. Shouta always gets dressed in the dark at three in the morning, so it’s hardly his fault. Hizashi still won’t let him forget it.)
“Hey,” Shinsou says as he comes in, and nudges the sleeping bag.
“Good morning,” Shouta says.
“Hizashi said you had a good patrol last night,” Shinsou says, a lilt of teasing in his voice.
Shouta doesn’t unzip the sleeping bag, but he says, “Good to know that my beautiful family is constructed on a foundation of schadenfreude.”
“I don’t know what that word means,” Shinsou tells him, and then proceeds to contradict himself with an overly earnest, “but good luck in school today. I’m really glad you’re my dad.”
Shouta says, in a suspiciously thick voice, “Get into your seat before the bell rings,” and Shinsou laughs at him.
A few minutes later, the aforementioned bell rings. Shouta clears his throat and says, muffled into the layers of fabric, “Free study period, for your upcoming exams. Keep it to a dull roar. If you have any questions, feel free to ask me.”
Alright, so maybe he’s feeling a little bit like a coward today. It’s better to let the students have some relaxing time now, because the next few weeks are going to be hell for them.
He takes a short nap. The students are more than happy without lecture and they don’t bother him further. Shouta has no idea what time it is when someone pokes his sleeping bag, but he sticks his face out and blinks irritably at who turns out to be Yaoyorozu.
“Hello, sensei,” she says. She coughs into the crook of her elbow, a rough scraping noise that says she has the cold that’s sweeping through the school right now. “I’m finished with my homework. Can I go get coffee? I’ll bring you some.”
Shouta blinks at her again, bleary-eyed, and weighs the pros and cons. Yaoyorozu isn’t someone who often gets recognized on the street for being a UA student, and she’s probably just going to the small cafe in the cafeteria anyway. The only issue would be if another teacher saw her walking around, so he reluctantly gets out of the sleeping bag to find her a hall pass. “You can’t tell anyone I’m allowing this. I don’t pick favorites.”
“Of course, sensei,” Yaoyorozu says seriously, and trails closely behind him.
“You may take your girlfriend with you, but I’m trusting you to be responsible. Be back before class is over. I take my coffee with no sugar.” Shouta goes to zip the sleeping bag back up, but he’s stopped by Yaoyorozu saying, “Wait.”
She glances over her shoulder to the side of the classroom nearest the door, and Shouta follows her gaze to Uraraka.
Most of the students have moved out of their normal seats, clumping up in groups to work or chat quietly. But Uraraka’s still in her regular seat, hunched over a notebook, staring through it with a grimace on her face like something’s hurting her.
“Could I take Uraraka too?” Yaoyorozu asks. “She...I don’t think she’s eaten yet.”
Shouta has been aware for several months that Uraraka Ochaco’s family has issues with allowing for a robust food budget for their daughter sometimes. Still, today is today , and the image of Uraraka valiantly trying to scrape through her English homework despite the fact that nausea is clearly distracting her hits Shouta differently.
“Aizawa?” Yaoyorozu asks, sharp with concern.
Shouta is crying. He calmly gives the hall pass at Yaoyorozu, along with the change in his pocket to pay for his coffee, and says, “Go before I change my mind.”
“Are you...” She’s staring at him.
“No sugar,” he says firmly, despite the fact that tears are streaming down his face faster and faster. “Get Uraraka some breakfast, too.”
“Do you need--?”
Shouta isn’t sure what else he needs to say for Yaoyorozu to get her to forget this, but he finally decides on, “This isn’t real. I got hit with a quirk at work last night that’s making me do this at inopportune times. I suggest you don’t worry about it.”
She frowns, but she turns and goes back to her desk to grab her wallet, and then she goes and collects Jirou and the two of them coax Uraraka out of her seat. Shouta doesn’t pick favorites, but Yaoyorozu is definitely high on the list.
Shouta makes a break for his sleeping bag, as casually as possible, but before he can disappear inside, he hears someone ask, “Is Aizawa okay ?”
“Oh, shit,” someone else says. When Shouta turns to fix a glare on them, he finds that it’s Kirishima and Kaminari who have blown his cover.
Their comments have silenced the class, and now everyone is staring at Shouta. Even Todoroki, who usually takes all of homeroom to wake up fully and had previously been half-asleep against Midoriya’s shoulder, is watching him warily. All of these kids look so worried about him, as if something is actually wrong. The anxious look on Sero’s face alone makes Shouta shudder with an involuntary sob.
Shinsou, in the back next to Todoroki, is the only one who looks vaguely amused. He has his phone out, probably to send a video to Hizashi, but with one look from Shouta, Shinsou sets the phone back on his desk, sulking.
“This is nothing,” Shouta says to the class, trying to sound as flat as possible. “Please go back to studying.”
“You’re crying,” Asui says into the heavy quiet.
His students all care so much. It’s what guilts Shouta into explaining himself, shattering his meticulous image forever. “I mean it when I say it’s nothing. I’ve been hit by an unfortunate quirk and it’s going to take a couple days to wear off.”
“That’s a weird quirk.” Midoriya perks up, no longer looking like All Might’s been hit by a car right in front of him. “Are you just crying continuously, or is it triggered by something? It would be really powerful to force someone to cry for a long time, because that could dehydrate you eventually, so I assume it’s on-and-off, right?”
Shouta refuses to wipe the tears off of his face. Maybe if he ignores them altogether, everyone else will too. This particular bout of tears is slowing down anyway, now that he isn’t faced with sixteen distraught toddlers. “It’s on-and-off. It’s triggered anytime I feel anything, from what I can tell.”
This gets them chattering amongst themselves, finally lessening the attention on him, so he can clean himself up a little bit. Shouta should have expected this.
(He sets a mental timer to see how long it’ll take them to weaponize this knowledge against him.)
“Was it used defensively?” Midoriya presses for more information, leaning forward on his desk, kneeling on the seat of his chair. “How did it work in combat?”
Telling part of the truth earlier had been the most rational course of action, but it’s out of the question to reveal anything about the fact that a sleep-deprived, anxious Shouta had forgotten his eye drops at home and had crashed into some poor middle-aged asshole who had been carrying his bags of groceries home at seven in the morning. (Maybe it was that asshole’s own fault for getting up that early to go grocery shopping .)
“That’s a good question,” Shouta says noncommittally. He tries very hard not to be endeared when he sees that Midoriya is already scribbling something in one of his notebooks about the incident. “Could you perhaps be looking for a way to weaponize your own crying?”
As if Midoriya doesn’t weaponize his crying enough. All Might would level a whole block of buildings if Midoriya got sniffly enough.
“Shitty Deku just wants to study that stupid quirk so he can find a way to stop crying at everything,” Bakugou contributes.
Midoriya flushes red, but bites back with, “Maybe you should learn more about it so you can feel something for once.”
“I’ll fucking kill you,” Bakugou threatens, but strangely, neither his nor Midoriya’s hackles are raised. It almost seems like they’re friends, these days. Shouta’s eyes prickle, and thankfully , he’s given a distraction.
“That’s actually a good point,” Todoroki says, in an uncharacteristically loud tone for homeroom. “Have we considered the possibility that it’s Midoriya’s fault that Aizawa is like this.”
“This sounds like a conspiracy theory,” Iida says, torn between interested and exasperated.
Shinsou, with the evil smirk of someone who’s been texting Hizashi for the last fifteen minutes, says, “No, he has a point. Midoriya cries like, every day.”
“I do not!” Midoriya says.
“He’s crying right now,” Ashido accuses, pointing.
“I’m not ,” Midoriya protests, tearful.
Kirishima says, “Who cares if he is! It’s super manly to express your emotions instead of bottling them up. Midoriya cares about his friends, and it’s really cool that he shows that!”
Ashido mimes throwing up the whole time Kirishima’s giving his impassioned speech. Kirishima elbows her once he notices.
“We’re getting off-topic, kero,” Asui says, and nods back to Todoroki. “What are you saying?”
Todoroki pushes his bangs out of his face with his free hand, and sits up straighter as his bullshit theory starts gaining traction in his head. “I’m saying , maybe it’s because Midoriya makes everyone around him more empathetic. By osmosis.”
“That’s gay,” Bakugou says. “Are you fucking gay?”
“Bakugou,” Shouta says sternly, on reflex, because despite the fact that everyone is well aware of Bakugou and Kirishima’s intricate and confusing slow-burn courtship rituals, Bakugou’s harsh tone makes Midoriya tense up and duck his head. It appears there’s still unresolved issues, there.
“What?” Bakugou snarls, gesturing to Todoroki, who is actively holding hands with Midoriya. “He’s literally being gay right now.”
“It takes one to know one, bitch,” Ashido says to Bakugou over the sound of everyone’s snickering. Midoriya kind of relaxes, much preferring the trend of his classmates bullying Bakugou instead of vice versa, and Kaminari puts a protective arm around Midoriya to further pull him back into the present.
Strike that; Shouta’s on the verge as Midoriya beams at his friends again.
Considering the fact that it took all of them about a day in the dorms to start using the fire alarm system for evil (Kirishima to this day vehemently denies that it was him who set a stack of homework on fire so that the fire alarms would go off and interrupt Aoyama’s forty-five minute shower/concert), it takes longer than Shouta had expected for his students to get into the phase of using the quirk against him. If he’d wanted to avoid it completely, Shouta should have confiscated Shinsou’s entire phone. His mental timer runs out as Shinsou clears his throat and diverts the conversation and says with his most cherubic face, “Aizawa, could I say something on behalf of the class? We really love having you as a teacher. Thank you for keeping us safe and for teaching us so much.”
Shouta’s going to ground this kid. His vision gets blurry. “It’s my job,” he says with no inflection whatsoever.
“ Oh ,” Ashido coos.
This is going to be a very long class period.
Yaoyorozu shows up fifteen minutes later with two drinks in her hands, a more-vibrant-looking Uraraka, and Jirou holding a box of tissues.
Kaminari whines, “No fair why did they get to go get food?”
Shouta accepts the coffee and the tissues, coolly ignoring the smug look that Jirou is giving him. Yaoyorozu had clearly explained the situation to her companions, because Uraraka doesn’t spiral to the same level of worry as the others when she first sees the tears steadily streaking down Shouta’s face. (These current tears are courtesy of a card that the class had just made five minutes before, most of the students’ signatures gathered around a sketch of Shouta with hearts around it. It’s absolutely hideous, and the sobs that it had resulted in were...not something that Shouta ever wanted anyone to see.)
Uraraka’s face has some color back in it, and she laughs like she’s feeling much better. She says, “It must feel good to cry. Please don’t be embarrassed, sensei! We cry all the time in this class!”
“That’s true, it’s not just Midoriya,” Jirou agrees.
Midoriya nods his head, not rising to the bait or even looking up from another piece of shitty art that he’s making for Shouta.
“Yeah, even All Might cried a couple days ago!” Kirishima says. “Because he’s manly .”
“No, he cried because he’s Midoriya’s secret dad ,” Todoroki contradicts, because apparently the only thing that can get him awake before ten in the morning is getting on a conspiracy theory kick and drinking half of Yaoyorozu’s coffee. The image comes, unbidden, of Todoroki at the beginning of first year, detached and glassy-eyed and angry and withdrawn--and it’s such a cognitive dissonance from how energetic Todoroki is right now, cuddled amongst his classmates, that Shouta has to wipe his face with the crook of his elbow.
Maybe he shouldn’t have let Yaoyorozu go for coffee. It makes Shouta worried about these kids in final examination season, when all of them are going to be subsisting fully on caffeine and they’re all going to be like this.
Todoroki says, adamant, “Think about it for a second. All the teachers who love Midoriya suddenly getting all teary-eyed? Makes you think.”
Shinsou examines his nails, feigning detachment. “I agree. Aizawa does seem to be acting more parental lately.”
“Excellent point,” Ashido says. Her face is serious; it’s difficult to tell whether or not she understands the irony of this at all. “He’s almost soft.”
“I don’t enjoy any of you,” Shouta says, which is difficult to get out because his voice is so rough by now. His sinuses are stuffy. He feels like his head is going to explode.
“No, we’re your favorite class! Present Mic told us,” Shinsou gloats.
Shouta is going to ground him. And then he’s going to figure out the equivalent of grounding for his husband. And then he’s going to figure out a way to get back at his family without punishing them for caring about him in their own awful way.
“Present Mic says a lot of things, and it goes to show you that you should question even those you look up to,” Shouta says evenly, and then throws another diversion at the students. “For example, he also believes that the last All Might movie was good.”
Kaminari says, “Wait, but it wasn’t bad ! It just got picked up by a different studio!”
“Here we go,” Jirou says, and puts her face in her hands as Midoriya, seemingly activated like a sleeper agent by some specific trigger words, launches into a thorough, courtroom-ready argument tearing down All Might: Ascendance.
If he’d been thinking ahead at all , he would have made this into some sort of learning experience for his students. Instead, he’s sitting on the table at the front of the classroom, alternating between scolding his students when they get too rowdy and dissolving into tears at random intervals.
He glances at the clock. Shouta’s been wading through the shards of his dignity for an hour now, and his feet are getting cut up. He feels fine dismissing the class a few minutes early, and he points to the door and speaks up so he can be heard over the fourteen animated conversations that are taking place. “Get out of my class.”
“Feel better, sensei!” Ashido says as she bolts from the classroom with Kirishima in tow, not faltering at all when Shouta glares at her.
He gets quite a few reassuring words and smiles from his students as they file out, and Shouta accepts Midoriya’s drawing and a brief sneaky hug from Shinsou, and then he’s finally alone.
He sits on his sleeping bag and puts his head on his knees and takes some calming breaths. This quirk wouldn’t be so hard for Shouta if the kids weren’t so damn young . They’re so young, and they have so little time before Shouta can’t protect them anymore.
The drawing that Midoriya had given to him is splattered with tears, and he sighs and slips it into his pocket before it can get destroyed further. It’s going on the fridge, but that doesn’t mean he has to be happy about it.
Shouta, somehow, lives through his next two classes. His other classes don’t usually drain the life out of him in the same way that 3-A does (because his other classes don’t find it enjoyable to give Shouta heart palpitations), and he chalks up his croaky voice and puffy eyes to the cold that everyone else has so that they’ll give him a wide berth. Before he knows it, it’s lunchtime and he can finally go slam two bottles of water and take a real nap.
Shouta can admit that it’s his fault that he runs straight into All Might. He’s distracted, and he’s not following any of the advice that he gives to his students vis a vis vigilance, and he slams into all fifteen square feet of the former number one pro hero as he rounds a corner. Shouta bounces off, and hits the ground, and the shock makes him cry .
This is the worst day of his life.
All Might is freaked out, to say the least. He hurriedly pulls Shouta back to his feet, and his enormous hands hover around the vicinity of his shoulders, all the while saying, “I’m sorry, Eraserhead! I should have watched where I was going, I didn’t mean to upset you. Are you alright? You don’t look like you’re feeling well.”
Shouta swipes at tears that are pooling in his eyes, frustrated. “I’m fine. It was my fault, you don’t need to take the blame for it. Forget about it.”
It appears that that isn’t going to reassure All Might, professional busybody. Shouta sighs. “They aren’t--real tears. It’s a quirk from a patrol accident.” Shouta isn’t going to get into the semantics of whether or not he’s lying when he says they aren’t real tears. That’s not a discussion for now. “I just need to get some water.”
“Is that the truth?” All Might asks.
“I have no reason to lie about this,” Shouta snaps. The effect is lessened because Shouta has begun hiccuping through his words, like he’s an infant calming down from a tantrum.
“You lie to your students sometimes, in order to achieve a favorable outcome.” All Might is still waving his arms around like a moron, trying to figure out how to comfort Shouta. “So you might think it’s a good lie to tell, because I would be inclined to believe it was a patrol accident.”
Shouta narrows his eyes. “I’m not lying,” he insists, and his voice cracks like he’s in high school again.
All Might, hesitant, says, “Alright.” He pats Shouta on the head, like Shouta is Midoriya, and Shouta wants to die. All Might’s hand could crush his head in its grip, but All Might doesn’t put Shouta out of his misery. He just rests his hand on top of Shouta’s hair like he could seep out everything wrong with Shouta with just that touch.
The most annoying part is that All Might had passed good judgement; the pat on the head feels really good. That’s what makes Shouta glare even darker as he ducks out of All Might’s hold.
“Present Mic is in your office,” All Might says, not looking offended at all. Bastard. “I passed him on my way here. He said he wanted to speak with you?”
“Right,” Shouta says, and sniffles. He still can’t tell if All Might is just oblivious about the fact that he and Hizashi are married, or if All Might missed the politeness window to ask if they were actually together and now he’s going to be awkward about it for the rest of time. “Thanks.”
He dodges around All Might and hurries down the hall towards his office. All Might watches him go, in a weirdly concerned way.
Hizashi greets him with a tight, reassuring hug, and Shouta fully sinks into it, kicking the office door shut behind him so Hizashi is the only one who sees that this simple action makes him tear up again.
“Aw, what’s wrong?” Hizashi asks when he hears Shouta’s breath hitch, with his sweet half-smile in his voice, giving him plausible deniability as to whether or not he’s being a rude bastard right now. Shouta is the only person in the world who can say for sure that Hizashi is, in fact, being a rude bastard right now.
“I’ll kick your ass,” Shouta chokes out, but he’s feeling too comforted by the hug right now to actually move.
Hizashi laughs, and slowly smooths down Shouta’s hair in a repetitive motion. “You couldn’t.”
Shouta draws back and sniffles again. His head feels like it’s stuffed full of cotton balls. This is why he doesn’t ever fucking cry . “Do you want some tea?”
“I already made some,” Hizashi says brightly, and points to Shouta’s desk, which has two packed lunches on it along with Shouta’s electric kettle, and Shouta’s face crumples again.
“You’re--I love you so much ,” Shouta sobs, and Hizashi laughs softly and pulls him into another embrace.
Shouta’s hoping for a downhill coast for his last few classes of the day. Ideally, he could just do some lecturing, and then bolt off campus to deal with his situation by himself without any of his students getting the satisfaction of seeing him like this again.
All Might, as he is wont to do, ruins Shouta’s hopes and dreams. He corners Shouta as Shouta is trying to coax himself out of his office, and asks Shouta to help facilitate hero training for 3-A.
Shouta squares up to All Might, demanding to know whether All Might actually needs help it or if class 3-A just has All Might wrapped around their pinky fingers, but All Might gets an uncomfortably earnest look on his face and says something about inviting a lot of the other teachers and then he says some bullshit about how he’s always trusted Shouta as a good teacher. Shouta flees the confrontation before All Might can see more traitorous tears falling down his face.
He wonders, as he slurps another full bottle of water, how long this stupid quirk is going to last. By the end of lunch, he’d already been feeling a little more stable, and Hizashi had failed to get Shouta to cry with a mere compliment as they parted, so that must be progress--but he still feels like he’s cried so much that he could be hung up to dry like beef jerky. He certainly doesn’t want to be fighting his students right now.
Maybe he can find a pro hero with a duplication quirk to create a clone of Shouta to do the fighting for him. Maybe if Shouta gave one of Ectoplasm’s clones some of his clothes, everyone could just pretend like it was him.
He seriously considers this as he watches the students stream out of the cafeteria. It would traumatize the kids if they punched “Shouta” and he was dispelled into ectoplasm. On the other hand, a clone wouldn’t blubber its way through hand-to-hand combat with a teenager, which is sounding attractive to his shattered pride right now. It’s a dilemma.
Unfortunately, class 3-A arrives perfectly on time, hell-bent on milking this situation for all it’s worth--and his time to figure out a solution has elapsed before he can do anything.
(They present him with another hand-drawn card, and Shouta thanks them quietly and then does not run ((he speed-walks)) away from his class to go find where the teachers are congregating--more specifically, where his husband is.)
“Rough day?” Nemuri asks, amused. It hasn’t escaped her attention that Shouta is leaning so far into Hizashi's side that Hizashi has had to take a very wide, firm stance with his feet to keep his balance.
Shouta knows that his eyes are swollen, his face is splotchy, and his voice is hoarse enough that he might as well be speaking through crumpled balls of aluminum foil. He doesn’t answer Nemuri’s question. Instead, as he puts on his goggles, he asks Ectoplasm, “Will teachers be fighting students, or teaming up with them and fighting other teachers?”
“I think we’re just obstacles,” Ectoplasm says, clearly disappointed. “As in, we’re not even really fighting them, we’re just trying to slow them down.”
Shouta turns his head back to Nemuri, silently saying, you’re safe for now , and she shakes her head at him.
“It’s okay to feel things, Eraser,” she says.
“I’ll let you know when that happens,” he says, and rebuffs all further attempts at conversation.
The training situation for today is a maze. Cementoss had the time of his life setting it up, and the support class has contributed quite a few booby traps and other obstacles. The corridors have a low ceiling, keeping students like Uraraka from simply floating over all the walls to find the goal, and Shouta is given directions towards a section by the east entrance, between a gauntlet of lasers and a tightrope suspended over a deep pit.
“Good luck, honey!” Hizashi says, patting him on the back rapidly.
Shouta, with impressively dry eyes, says, “You too.”
There are five entrances into the maze, so there will be five students racing each other in each round. That means, hopefully, that Shouta will only have to encounter four of his students, unless someone gets hopelessly lost.
The first is Iida. He’s been very professional about the whole situation, and he’s one of the few students who has avoided provoking Shouta’s tears on purpose, so Shouta’s feeling prepared for a normal fight when he sees that Iida’s cleared the laser field and is rocketing towards Shouta’s shadowed hiding spot.
Shouta throws out his capture tape, aiming to ensnare Iida, but Iida sees him at the last minute and rockets out of the way, towards the ceiling.
It’s a small space, but Iida moves quickly to evade capture, putting his recent internship work to good use. He twists over Shouta’s head, and bolts towards the corridor stretching away from them, towards the tightrope, but Shouta uses his tape to snatch Iida out of the air and throw him back towards the lasers.
Iida activates his engines again, and propels himself back down to the ground, where he lands in a crouch and rolls out of the way of Shouta’s tape.
“I wouldn’t be half the person I am today without you!” Iida shouts. He’s earnest, even though the words are precise and chosen specifically to affect Shouta. “I look up to you as both a teacher, and as a hero!”
“Shut up,” Shouta snaps, but the damage is done. His vision blurs, and his control over the tape loosens for a split-second in his annoyance, and Iida activates his boost and disappears down the corridor before Shouta can recover.
“Dammit,” Shouta says, just to himself. Even without the quirk’s effects, he’s getting soft.
The next student to appear is Jirou. She leads off with a huge blast, but Shouta cuts it off halfway through, leading her to search for other options.
Jiriou shouts, as she charges, “My band is having a concert on Saturday. Would you come?”
Shouta braces for impact and sends his tape out to try and ensnare her, but she spins out of the way of the tape and plants her feet and sends out another sonic attack. He erases it, and she says, “My parents don’t talk to me and you’re the only adult who supports my music!”
“I don’t do concerts.” Shouta wipes tears out his eyes, unblinking. “Present Mic would love your music; ask him.”
“It’s at eight on Saturday and I want YOU to come!” Jirou says. She unplugs her earphone jacks and lunges straight at him, ramming him in the sternum with her shoulder and in the chin with her fist, but he uses his tape to shove her back. As she’s tumbling through the air, she flails around for a safe landing position, and she says, “It would really mean a lot-- OW, GOD --if you would come, because no adult has ever gave a shit about me like you do--”
“ Shut up ,” Shouta hisses, because the tears streaming down his face force him to blink, and he hears Jirou scramble to her feet and sprint past him, tossing him back with an enormous sonic pulse.
“Thanks, sensei!” she shouts as soon as she’s out of combat range.
“I’ll be there,” he calls from his heap on the ground, begrudging, and Jirou’s laugh echoes through the hallway back to him.
It’s ten minutes before the next student appears. Shouta hears the hum of the lasers, and the distant yelling of other fights happening. There’s a rumble of concrete, somewhere, and a muffled version of Hizashi's overwhelming sonic attacks. It’s enough time to get a hold of his emotions again, and he’s glad for the prep time when Uraraka appears at the end of the hallway.
Uraraka clears the lasers, and charges down a side corridor, and then presumably hits a dead end and pops back into sight, annoyed at the delay.
She doesn’t attack until she’s very close, at which point she attempts to levitate herself to vault over Shouta’s head. Shouta erases her quirk at the exact moment she tries to get momentum, and then sweeps out with his leg to knock Uraraka off balance.
Uraraka opts for jumping over the leg and then kicks Shouta in the chest, effectively startling Shouta into blinking, and then she makes a break for it while he’s distracted.
Shouta hits the wall hard. He recovers fast enough to catch her with capture tape, and slings her back towards the lasers. He knows that the longer he delays Uraraka’s journey through the maze, the more frantic she’ll get, so he needs to toe a fine line between actually starting a fight and just bothering her a little bit.
Uraraka hits the ground and rolls a few meters. She doesn’t get up.
Shouta says, cautious, “Uraraka?”
He has the distinct impression that she’s playing dead. However, it’s Shouta’s job to make sure that his students don’t die for real, so he inches forward, capture tape at the ready.
Uraraka doesn’t move. The closer Shouta gets, the more he can see that Uraraka appears to be shaking .
“What is it?” Shouta asks, dropping to a crouch near Uraraka.
She weakly moves an arm to wrap around her stomach. “I--overdid it,” she gets out. “It’s been...a rough week.”
“Can you get up?” Shouta asks her, because it’s strange for her threshold to be so low and he needs to assess the seriousness of the issue.
“I don’t know.” Uraraka blinks tears out of her eyes, which in turn makes Shouta tear up, because the universe despises him.
Uraraka turns her head sharply at the sound of Shouta’s sniff, and behind her superficial expression of pain, Shouta realizes too late that his previous hunch had been correct--Uraraka is just acting.
“Gottem,” Uraraka says brightly, and smacks Shouta’s arm to levitate him, kicks him back with both feet before leaping back up and bolting down the hallway.
It’s not a bad strategy, Shouta admits reluctantly as he watches her vault over the tightrope area while he helplessly pinwheels through the air. It wouldn’t work in real combat, and she’d lost a fair chunk of time to make her acting more believable, but her crocodile tears might have practical applications in hero work.
He tumbles to the ground as soon as she’s out of sight, and he stays there to get his energy back before the next student appears. He reaches for his water bottle and scowls at the ceiling and hopes-prays that the next student that shows up isn’t a student that will play on his emotions to win.
The students must be able to see the inside of the maze through cameras or something, because otherwise the probability of Shinsou showing up as the fourth student is pushing even Shouta’s bad luck to a new level.
“What’s up?” Shinsou asks, out of breath from dodging through the laser field.
Shouta doesn’t answer.
“Jirou said you cried because she invited you to her show,” Shinsou says. He isn’t moving forward, he’s still hesitant to leap straight into hand-to-hand altercations. “Midoriya wants me to tell you that that was, quote, ‘tender.’”
Shouta opens his mouth, then closes it again. He whips the capture tape out to grab at Shinsou, but Shinsou leaps out of the way and focuses on evasion for now.
“Also, the class says you’ve replaced All Might as ‘Most Likely To Cry at Graduation,” Shinsou says, feinting one way and then scooting along the wall in the opposite direction. “This quirk has really outed you as someone who cares about us.”
“That’s slander,” Shouta snaps tearfully as he lunges to stop Shinsou. His mind goes black.
He wakes up when Shinsou comes back and pats him on the shoulder, smiling sheepishly. “I lied about the class vote thing.”
“The betrayal,” Shouta mumbles, kind of woozy from the brainwashing, and his son helps him back up to his feet.
The exercise must be over, because the ceiling and walls are sinking back into the floor around them, slowly exposing the various traps and gadgets and teachers scattered throughout the training arena. Hizashi beams and throws up a peace sign in greeting when he spots Shouta, one of the lenses of his sunglasses shattered and blood seeping out a cut below his eye.
Iida, Ashido, and Bakugou were the three fastest--Uraraka in a close fourth place, but, again, her theatrics had cost her a win--and Recovery Girl starts making her rounds.
Hizashi bounces over, refraining from full PDA in front of the students but still giving Shouta a radiant smile and Shinsou a hair-ruffle. “How’s our crybaby doing?” he asks Shinsou.
“Damp as ever,” Shinsou says, sighing.
Shouta frowns at both of them. “That’s not true. It’s wearing off.”
“Is it?” Hizashi asks. “Then if you don’t mind me saying it, you are the literal light of my life and every day I spend married to you is a joy.”
“I wish I could say the same,” Shouta chokes out, frantically wiping his face with his sleeve, and turns away to go find Recovery Girl to fix the cut on Hizashi's face while Shinsou and Hizashi cackle at him.
The bright side of all this, Shouta thinks, is that he might sleep through the night for once. He hears the click of Hizashi turning the lamp off, and then soft footsteps and then the creak and shift of the bed as Hizashi climbs in on the other side. He’s trying to be so quiet, and Shouta figures he thinks Shouta is asleep already.
He rolls over and slings an arm over Hizashi's waist, latching on as securely as he can without suffocating him.
“Oh, you’re awake,” Hizashi says, pleasantly surprised. He moves, like he’s going to do something stupid like get up. “I made you some tea, it’s out in the kitchen.”
Shouta tightens his grip. “It’s fine.”
“It’ll help you stop being so stuffy.”
Shouta breathes through his mouth, and presses his forehead into Hizashi's chest. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Honey, you must be feeling so yucky after today.” Hizashi combs fingers through Shouta’s hair. “Let me take care of you.”
Shouta’s eyes get watery, but he doesn’t outright burst into tears, so that’s progress. “You take care of me just fine. You put up with a hell of a lot.”
“I’m not ‘putting up’ with anything,” Hizashi says. “ I was the one who had the guts to propose.”
“I love you,” Shouta says. The shirt that he’s pushed his face into is getting suspiciously damp.
“I love you too ,” Hizashi hums, delighted. There’s a smile in his voice as he says, “If this quirk isn’t fixed by tomorrow I’m fixing you up with an IV drip.”
“If you take me near a hospital for this I’ll call my lawyer.”
Shouta feels, rather than hears, his husband’s scoff. “Not if I call her first.”
“I’ve been lawyer-poached?”
“Damn right.” Hizashi kisses the top of Shouta’s head.
Both of them let the conversation end after that. Hizashi plays with Shouta’s hair for a while, braiding it together and then untangling it and starting over a few times. Shouta’s almost asleep when he remembers something and mumbles, “Remind me to talk to you later about turning our son against me.”
“I would never do such a thing,” Hizashi says, equally sleepy, and that’s that.