This class hurt. Shouta would never admit it, but more than anything, 1A hurt to teach, to be around, to look after. He’d never seen such comradery between a whole class before, not even one he’d taught. They knew each other inside and out, care for each other, loved each other like a family.
Which is why it hurt so much knowing one of them wouldn’t graduate.
He didn’t have confirmation – he couldn’t, his quirk was erasure not foresight – but he’d seen one of those kids before. Different quirk, different look, different personality; but the same smile, the same eyes. The same undying need to throw himself in front of every bullet.
Shouta could teach kids to save, could teach them to be selfless. He couldn’t teach them to value their own lives. Midoriya did nothing but jump into trouble, any speck of turmoil and he’d be there with a warm smile and shaking hands.
The best heroes were selfless. The longest living were not.
He’d had a friend like that once. Had.
He didn’t any more.
Hizashi saw it too, he could see it in the pained eyes he shot the kid when he thought no one was looking. The kind of person to throw themselves in front of a bullet that had a tiny chance of killing the target but a certainty of killing them. Oboro would have been – well, not proud. But he’d have recognised a kindred spirit when he saw one.
Shouta let his face drop into his hands, fighting back bitter tears. The common room was lit only by his laptop screen, casting a pale light across his paperwork. Midoriya’s essay lay mostly unmarked across the table. An ethics essay, on when a hero drew the line. He’d read that same essay once – helped edit it. Of course, Oboro’s hadn’t been nearly as well written or sourced as this one, but the thesis was the same – “There is no line.”
A faint creaking drew his attention. He cast his tired eyes to the stairs, only to see Midoriya stood there like a deer in the headlights. His frightened expression dropped almost instantly when he saw the tear tracks on his teacher’s face, something that almost made Shouta laugh with its morbid irony.
“Sensei? What’s wrong, do – would you like me to make you a drink? Call Mic-Sensei?” Shouta did laugh now, roughly brushing away tears that started to fall anew.
“I’m fine, problem child. Old memories. What are you doing up?” Midoriya shrunk back slightly, expression sheepish.
“Nightmare. Wanted to make some tea.” Shouta huffed out a smile. He stood up, closing his laptop, eyes taking a moment to adjust to the new darkness.
“I’ll join you, then.”
The kitchen was warm – lingering heat of the day clinging to the titled floor, cold radiating gently from the window panes. Shouta busied himself with the kettle, Midoriya audibly rummaging around in the pantry, cardboard boxes and tins of tea shifting against each other.
“Want to talk about it?” Midoriya jolted, shoulders tensing. He didn’t turn away from the pantry.
“Its – its dumb.”
“I’ve listened to Mic’s stories about cockroach Godzilla, whatever you throw at me won't be any sillier.” Midoriya still hesitated. “I can also report on some authority that the underground hero that teachers 1A has had a nightmare about violent teddy bears.” That got the student snickering. He exited the relative safety of the pantry, one hand curled around the type of tea Shouta assumed he drank, the other holding out a few varied types. They were, notably, all ones he’d drunk around the dorm. The kid's memory was impressive.
“I couldn’t save someone.” Midoriya’s voice was barely audible over the kettle, but it made Shouta's breath catch in his throat all the same. Of course, of course. He didn’t know why he’d wondered, that’s the only thing a kid like Midoriya would get shaken up over. Shouta nodded thoughtfully, not trusting his voice. He fished two mugs out of the cupboard, gently holding his hand out for the tea. Midoriya handed it over, Shouta plucking a roasted green tea from the selection for himself. He remained silent until he’d poured the water into the cups, soft herbal smell filling the air around them.
“Don’t forget to save yourself, kid.” Midoriya looked at him, confused.
“Look.” Shouta dropped a hand onto his student’s shoulder. God, they were so small. “You’re going to make a wonderful hero. But you can’t save anyone if you aren’t there.” He opened his mouth to respond, but Shouta held up a hand. “Just, think about it, ok?”
He scooped his mug from the counter, collecting his laptop and essays from the table. He paused, lingering in the door to his own room.
“You’ve got people that need you. Don’t go where they can’t follow. Nothing hurts more than losing someone – especially when they had so much to look forward to.” He could hear a noise of confusion from Midoriya. His own shoulders slumped. “My second year, we lost someone. Don’t make us lose you too.”
He slipped inside his room, all but tossing his laptop on his bed. All of a sudden he could feel the weight of the world on his shoulders, on his eyes, his heart.
“I won’t, Sensei.” A wavering voice called to him from the kitchen. “I won’t.” Shouta ignored the hot tears dripping down his cheeks.
“See that you don’t, Midoriya. See that you don’t.”