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Retirement

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Students buzzed around in the common area. Move-in day had been long and grueling, but the atmosphere could not have been livelier. The sun shone as it dipped below the horizon, and Toshinori gazed out the window while class A chattered along after a long day of carrying boxes and unpacking.

Sato was in the kitchen, making some kind of treat for his classmates as the others chopped vegetables and meat for their first official dinner together in their new living quarters. Toshinori could appreciate wanting to get a good first experience in their new home for the next year.

Altogether, the new dorms were a little bit nicer than the first-year dorms they had spent the last portion of the year in, the former pro noticed. The windows were bigger, and it had a homier feel with the decorations and nice touches the previous second-years had left for the next class.

Other students descended from their floors as they finished their own duties for the day, incessantly chattering about what they were excited for in the upcoming school year. Aizawa and Toshinori (who had failed in getting all his students but Izuku to not call him All Might to decrease the attention their loud voices drew when they greeted him in public) sat at the table, “supervising” while they sipped their expensive tea, courtesy of Yaoyorozu.

“Uuuugh,” Ashido groaned as she flopped down on the couch in front of the table. Her eyes peeked over the cushions at her teachers, who looked back in amusement. “I can’t wait to retire,” she mumbled. “This is so exhausting!”

Toshinori chuckled into his tea as Aizawa rolled his eyes. “If you think this is hard, wait until class tomorrow.” Ashido groaned, and so did several of the other students who had overheard.

“Besides, retirement isn't as fun as you think,” Toshinori muttered good-naturedly.

“Well, maybe not for you, All Might-sensei,” Jiro replied, “since you had a second job when you retired, so you aren’t completely bored like everyone else.”

“Yeah, all I hear about retired heroes is how they kick up their feet and relax!” Kirishima said.

“Well, that all depends on the circumstances of their retirement,” Toshinori said, gesturing widely. “Most heroes will start thinking about retirement at the age of 45 or 50 since younger heroes are always better at the job and get injured a lot less. Plus, the hero industry pays pretty well, so if you make it to that age, the benefits are always nice.” Shrugging, he sipped his tea, hardly noticing how most of the class was listening at this point.

“What do you mean, make it to that age?” Yaouyorozu mused, pausing by the table.

“What All Might means,” Aizawa said, throwing a glare in his senior’s direction, “is that becoming a hero is a dangerous business, you all know that after your run-ins with the League. Some heroes retire if they’ve had bad injuries, or are struggling to physically keep up with villains.” Some unspoken fact lingered in the air, a silent ‘or’ that all the students recognized.

“Like All Might!” Mineta chimed in. The entire class either winced, face-palmed, or moved to hit the offending classmate.

Toshinori ignored the sting. He pushed up his fake smile, albeit a smaller one than that the children grew up seeing. “Well, I guess you could say that. I’m already fifty years old, though, so I’d been thinking about it for a while. It would have been difficult to explain to the press, so I’m admittedly a little thankful I had an excuse when the time came.”

The class chittered, and Kaminari boldly exclaimed: “Wait! You’re fifty?! No wonder you wanted to retire!”

Toshinori heard Aizawa quietly groan beside him. The former pro chuckled. “Yeah, most heroes anywhere in the top twenty at least have some kind of extensive plan for retirement. I was caught off-guard, so I hadn’t really planned to retire or anything for another couple of years.”

“What was your retirement plan?” One student spoke up. Another collective wince. It was a personal question, sure, but since retirement wasn’t something hero courses taught, Toshinori was fine to intercede. “Well,” he said, flushing slightly and rubbing the back of his neck. “I thought I would wait until you guys graduated. That didn’t exactly work out, though.”

“Why?” a voice piped up.

“Well…” Toshinori knew he couldn’t exactly tell all twenty of the students in the room he had been waiting until Izuku’s training was complete so he could retire in peace knowing his position had been filled by his chosen successor, so he came up with a different excuse. “Since UA was planning on having me stay on staff for your years at UA, it didn’t seem fair to you guys to not have an actual active hero teaching you how to be a hero.” Pleased with his answer, he sipped his tea to avoid speaking again, glancing over to where he could see Izuku desperately trying to avoid Bakugou’s knowing glare.

“So manly,” Kirishima muttered, squeezing his eyes shut and pumping his fist.

“I’ve read up about hero retirement, kero,” Asui mused. “I read somewhere that if you retire as an older hero, you sometimes have a successor.”

“It’s a personal preference for some heroes,” Aizawa chimed in, bearing the load, knowing full well what conversation Toshinori was trying to avoid having. “Retirement is also about what legacy you leave behind. For some, it’s the fame they have, or what lasting impression they leave. For others, it’s more of a post to be filled, so some heroes, if they’re more well-known, will find and groom someone to pick up where they left off.”

“What about All Might, though?” Uraraka said, tapping her chin thoughtfully. “The whole ‘Symbol of Peace’ title is much more complex than just being the number one hero. Endeavor doesn’t exactly exude ‘All-Might-ness’, and lots of people don’t consider him to have filled the spot sensei left.”

Toshinori could see Izuku getting uncomfortable, even though he was in the back of the group. Nobody in the class could see his beet-red face.

“Yeah, wouldn’t it make the most sense for All Might to have someone picked out to be the next Symbol of Peace?” Sero asked. “I mean, everybody knows Todoroki is the person Endeavor wants to be his successor, and Endeavor was the number two hero for, like, over twenty years.”

The class tittered as they all shot a glance at the multi-colored boy, who was unsurprised, to say the least. “It’s true,” he murmured, in Todoroki fashion.

“Well, I don’t have any children,” Toshinori chuckled, a bead of sweat rolling down his face. “And even if I did, that would be a terrible burden to place on my own bloodline…”

“Most heroes don’t do that, though,” Tokoyami pointed out. “If All Might-sensei was smart enough to know how much he means to the entire world, he probably has had someone picked out for years if he’s been thinking about retirement for that long.”

‘Thank you, young Tokoyami,’ Toshinori thought. “Well, of course,” he said.

“So you do have a successor!” Ashido squealed. “Who is it? Do we know them?”

A groan from Aizawa told Toshinori the younger hero was doing everything in his power to not bang his head on the table. “You got yourself into this one,” he muttered darkly.

“I suppose I did.” Toshinori embarrassedly rubbed the back of his neck again.

“That’s a personal question!” Iida all but shouted, waving his stiff arms in every direction. “You should do your best to not encroach on All Might-sensei’s personal boundaries. The identity of his successor could be a matter of national security, for all we know, so it would be best of you to not ask further questions!”

“Awww,” Hakagure whined. “He’s not even denying it, though!”

“Denying what?” Jiro asked, confused. Many of the other students felt the same way and looked in the direction of the clothes worn by the invisible girl.

Hagakure’s posture mimicked that of an embarrassed schoolgirl, which would have been obvious if her classmates could see her face. Supposedly flushing, she began: “Well, All Might-sensei never denied that we knew his successor.”

Aizawa’s head hit the table with a resounding ‘thunk’.

“So, we do know them!” was the resounding declaration from the students, Aizawa’s actions being nothing of a confirmer to their suspicions.

Toshinori’s gaze flickered to Izuku, whose face was buried in his hands. Toshinori’s gaze must have lingered too long on the green-haired boy because some students followed his gaze. Based on the context of the current conversation, it wasn’t too hard to see why.

Silence settled in the common area as almost every gaze landed on Izuku, who’s green eyes peeked out from in between his fingers and met his classmate’s gazes.

Toshinori was afraid to move because he knew the moment he stepped in to defend his protégé, the questions would bombard them both. At this point, there was no going back. “Ugh,” he groaned, wanting desperately to bang his head on the table like his coworker was doing. “This is not how I imagined this conversation would go.”

Bakugou’s voice broke the silence. “Tch. It’s not surprising or anything.”

The silence broke, and muttering side conversations erupted. Kirishima approached his explosive friend. “You knew?! I thought for sure you’d be against All Might picking Deku.”

“WHAT’S THAT SUPPOSED TO MEAN?!?!” Bakugou furiously set off his quirk in front of Kirishima’s (hardened) laughing face.

“Nothing, man!”

Bakugou grunted angrily as he withdrew. “Besides, I’m going to beat him, All Might's successor or not, just you wait.”

“I’m hungry…” Ashido whined, bored as the class resumed the conversation. A new buzz of energy filled the room as they marched their way to the kitchen to fill their protesting stomachs.

Izuku had retreated to a corner not far from the common room, clearly wanting to distance himself from the prying eyes of his classmates. Toshinori smiled and shook his head, following the teenager.

Izuku squeaked as he found his hiding place invaded, but visibly relaxed when he recognized his mentor checking in. “Oh… hi.” He was huddled up against the wall, knees driven up to his chest.

“Hey, kid,” Toshinori slid down the wall opposite. The area was tight enough that their faces were only a few feet away. “Sorry about that. Your classmates… jeez.”

Izuku smiled lightly. Toshinori was glad to see the lack of tears. “Yeah, they do that. They were just all asking me questions and I got overwhelmed…”

“That’s perfectly okay,” Toshinori comforted his student. “It’s a common thing among heroes, with the press and all. You just need to know when to tell them ‘no more questions’. I’ll be sure to tell Aizawa to give them a talking-to about it. It’s… something I kept a secret for a reason. I’m sorry you took the fall for it.”

“It’s actually okay,” Izuku grinned. “I think some of them already suspected or weren’t surprised. Todoroki actually asked at the Sports Festival last year if I was your secret love-child.”

Toshinoris’ eyebrows shot up. “That’s… weird.”

“I know,” Izuku laughed. “I just… I guess I never really thought about what would happen if they ever found out. But I guess… I don’t think things will change.”

“That’s good,” Toshinori said. “As long as you’re comfortable embracing it in front of your classmates, there’s nothing else I can do for you.” He chuckled as he looked down at his shoes. “I guess we were pretty bad at hiding it in the first place, weren’t we.”

Izuku grinned. “Yeah, I guess so.”

There was a moment of comfortable silence before Toshinori spoke again. “Well, now that that’s sorted out…” he grunted as he pushed himself up to his feet. “Dammit, I’m getting old.” Holding out a hand for Izuku to help the child up, he continued. “I’m hungry.”

Izuku brushed off his casual clothes. “Me too.” They stood for a moment longer before Izuku rushed into Toshinori’s arms. “Thanks,” he muttered into a mouthful of shirt, before peeling away and rushing off to join his classmates.

“You’re welcome,” Toshinori murmured in response to the fleeting back of his student.

Shoving his hands into the pockets of his not-so-baggy pants (he had tried to make it a habit to wear clothes that actually fit, now), he made his way back into the common area. Sitting down again at the same table, Aizawa shot him a side glance. “Well, that happened.”

Toshinori snorted. “It did indeed.” After a moment’s pause, he dawned on something. “Hold on a minute… How did you know Izuku was my successor? You were answering all those questions and trying to stop them from figuring out, but I don’t remember ever telling you!”

Aizawa rolled his eyes and gave Toshinori and incredulous stare. “Seriously? You treat the child so much more different from the rest of the class, like he's your actual son or something. You’ve been playing favorites since day one.”

“Well, I mean, I knew him ten months before the entrance exam, you can't blame me,” Toshinori mumbled in his own defense.

“My point exactly,” Aizawa responded. “You’re not good at everything, as hard as you try to be. Keeping secrets and teaching are only a few of the things you’re terrible at.”

Toshinori opened his mouth bitterly to defend himself again, but Aizawa interrupted him. “But do you know what the best thing that’s going to come out of this?” Toshinori was almost scared to open his mouth, so Aizawa finished the sentence for him. “By knowing why you pay so much careful attention to Midoriya, they now understand how much he means to you. These kids are going to stick together for years after they graduate. Their support means so much to him,” Aizawa said, looking over at his students. Izuku was smiling and laughing at something Iida had said, and some students were giving him admiring looks.

“The fact that you picked him is nothing but an affirmation to these kids. Did you know he was originally voted to be the class rep? He’s going to lead them one day, and you’ve kick-started a new era of heroes and changed the way they’re going to work in teams. These kids are going to change the world.”

“Yeah… I guess so,” Toshinori mused as he paid careful attention to the students. They were definitely going places, that was for sure.