Class 1-A did their best to settle back into routine. It wasn’t easy. News of Iida’s death had spread not just to the school, but throughout the world, and news reporters and paparazzi had made it very clear the heroes weren’t their target for interrogation. The students were.
His students couldn’t even make their usual commute to school without being harassed at least once by reporters and too-eager journalists, and most days at least half the class came to school automatically upset. Aizawa, furious upon learning his students were being harassed about the tragedy, took it upon himself to escort as many kids as he possibly could.
He would ask Midoriya to help but he worried about the kid’s stability. Midoriya had barely improved, and he was in no hurry to introduce nosy reporters to the kid.
U.A had made a public announcement about the death of one of their students, and to soothe concerned parents, revealed the plan of dorms at the school to reduce risk. The building was half way built, the moment it was finished was the moment the students would move in. The idea flooded him with relief - a place to keep a close eye on his students was exactly what they needed.
It calmed a few rustled feathers, but the general outcry was massive, not just for U.A, but for the Hero Killer.
He had been popular and gathered his own following of a morally grey audience, but after the death of a child, that popularity had been rescinded at top speed. The Hero Killer was labeled crazed, unstable, and his warrant grew larger, more urgent. It helped no one in the class with their grief - least of all Iida, himself, and Midoriya - but it was a small comfort, knowing the fucker had no more support, nowhere to run.
When he wasn’t dealing with his class, setting up for finals, learning more and more sign language, and attempting to speak to both Midoriya and Iida, he was using his hero hours to mercilessly seek out the Hero Killer. More often than not, he came home and collapsed in exhaustion, but it was more than worth it to him. He couldn’t have that ‘what if’ on his shoulders, and if he ever did manage to catch him, hero or not, he would show the Hero Killer no mercy. Not after what he put his students through.
The classroom felt and looked much more somber, even more weight added to the heavy air until it was hard to breathe around. Iida’s empty chair was glaringly obvious, his voice and presence missed terribly by not only himself but the other students. It was painfully obvious they were struggling to adjust, students turning to address him only to be faced with an empty seat, the entire class waiting for Iida to tell them to take their seat for class, even Aizawa found himself waiting for Iida to insert himself, especially since he could see the kid right in front of him.
Having him there at all helped, but not by much. If someone wanted his opinion, needed help with a question on homework, they couldn’t turn to Iida’s spot anymore. Instead, they had to go to the back of the class and grab the EMF, had to hear Iida’s voice through minor static as the machine picked up on words they could no longer hear. It was another face to distract Aizawa from the classroom, floating in his peripheral dripping blood.
Yaoyorozu was elected class President from Iida’s absence, something Iida apologized profusely for when he could, and she took the new position with grace and patience. He shared her workload in the beginning to help her transition into the tasks, something she thanked him for, but it was a relief and weight off his shoulders when she finally felt capable enough to take on the position in its entirety. He already had so many things on his plate.
Having to adjust to Iida’s presence was a struggle for everyone, but Aizawa struggled especially.
Seeing Midoriya day in and day out had never gotten easier per se, it was more something he grew numb to. Having Iida there alongside him, however, tore open old wounds all over again, especially seeing Midoriya so upset for an extended amount of time. Iida did well soothing him where Aizawa could not, Midoriya was hardly talking to anyone anymore, clearly guilt ridden and filled with shame. For the time being he was giving Midoriya some space, but he knew damn well he wouldn’t let Midoriya wallow in self blame for long. Not if he could help it.
The longer Iida shared space with Midoriya in class, the more he noticed differences between the two.
Midoriya was heard, even if he wasn’t understood. Whenever Midoriya spoke it was TV static, warped speech that couldn’t be deciphered. When Iida spoke, it was as if he hadn’t said a word, there wasn’t a difference. No noise, no blurred mouth. Midoriya could pick very small objects up, even with some difficulty. Nothing was moved from Iida’s touch, he simply phased through everything. Whenever Midoriya spoke through the EMF, there was noticeably more static between his words and silences than when Iida spoke, sounding almost crystal clear. Aizawa had no idea the EMF could read voices so clearly before Iida’s attempts.
The major difference between the two ghosts was their presence. Midoriya’s presence was felt. Cold chills made people shudder when he was near, and Aizawa never startled from Midoriya being close simply from how he unintentionally announced his presence. Midoriya made students look up while they worked, eyes scanning their surroundings on instinct, knowing Midoriya was nearby but not knowing where exactly.
Iida was not. No one changed whenever Iida hovered close by, and Aizawa had been startled quite often from seeing Iida on the opposite side of the room one minute, only to look away and look back to find Iida much closer than he had been before. No cold chills followed him, no sense of presence, like feeling someone stand right next to you instead of seeing them. Iida held none of that, and the longer Aizawa had the time to compare the two, he wondered why.
At first, Aizawa was focused on Iida and Midoriya more than anyone else. Midoriya’s unstable form still worried him greatly, and the thought of Iida panicking or grieving or needing him and not being able to get his attention worried him even more. He needed to be available at all times.
Slowly, however, he started to realize his worry was unfounded.
Midoriya and Iida were bouncing off of each other in terms of comfort. Iida was playing his new role as big brother surprisingly well, and surprisingly quickly. He calmed Midoriya down, spoke to him softly, and wiped his tears, all while patiently weathering Midoriya’s clinging to his torso.
The longer Midoriya went without being brushed off, the calmer he became both in attitude and his form, and the calmer he became the more he was able to assist Iida in getting used to his new life as a ghost. Class time was spent no longer assisting Aizawa - a fact that was perfectly fine by him - but instead showing Iida the ropes. Aizawa wasn’t sure exactly what Midoriya was explaining to him, but there had to be a reason for the specific desks Midoriya tapped on, one being his own. It was spent having Iida practice phasing through doors and ceilings and floors, at least, he assumed that was what they were doing.
It was an entirely new distraction, but one he didn’t fault them for. It was almost a positive, considering. At least Iida had a guiding hand.
With the worry of Midoriya and Iida taken care of for the most part, it left him available for the rest of his students. Aizawa kept a watchful eye on all his students throughout the day, to catch anyone struggling or especially down and lost in their thoughts. Todoroki in particular was someone he watched closely, often seen mumbling to himself or Midoriya or Iida, Aizawa wasn’t sure. He was just happy Todoroki was talking at all - he’d become almost mute since his return to class, at least, until Midoriya and Iida both began prying.
Uraraka was another student he kept a very close eye on. Not including Todoroki, she had been the closest to Iida, and she was clearly giving herself space from the rest to grieve on her own. Aizawa didn’t blame her, only gave Uraraka an encouraging nudge to drag Todoroki into her space every once in a while, a suggestion she immediately acted on. With a combination of Midoriya, Uraraka, and Iida, Todoroki was slowly beginning to talk more and more. Aizawa was relieved to see it.
Bakugo stuck to his own group, quieter than normal, but he seemed more thoughtful than sad necessarily. Still, Aizawa took the time to make sure he set aside what slim freetime he had to talk to him, and talk to him properly . He wouldn’t brush off a student again, accidental or not.
Seeing him include Iida in his regular talks with Midoriya was a whole new relief. He really worried Bakugo would ignore Iida’s existence to focus on Midoriya, but he supposed the kid wasn’t that bad.
Finals inched closer, and everyone did their best to adjust, Aizawa leading his class by example. He swore to himself their exams would be peaceful, even if he had to sleep for four days straight afterwards.
Bright and early one morning, he got a call he had just been waiting for, from the Support department.
Aizawa had a project in the works since the USJ. Originally it had been just for Midoriya, but he figured Iida could get just as much use out of it, and now more than ever Midoriya and Iida could use some kind of distraction, some kind of positive news. Hatsume - the one leading the project - couldn’t have contacted him at a better time.
He raced to U.A in record time and rushed to the Support department. He opened the door, tousled and out of breath. Hatsume was standing in the center of the room, clearly waiting for him, with something behind her back. The student grinned, her goggles glinting in the artificial light.
Ta-da! She pulled the object out from behind her.
She held an IPad in her hands, modified to account for a ghost’s touch and presence. No fingerprint was needed to open it, nor to use the touchscreen, only pressure. Iida couldn’t touch it yet, but Aizawa was sure it was only a matter of time before Midoriya became a teacher himself, and once that day came the IPad would come in handy for the both of them. Until then, he knew Midoriya wouldn’t mind being Iida’s hands.
Experimentally, he clicked the home button and slid the lock screen up not with his finger, but with a spare pencil. It obliged, the desktop ready for use.
Excitement pooled in his gut, and he smiled for the first time in almost a week. It was exactly what he and Nedzu had been thinking of.
He looked at Hatsume, opened his mouth to thank her, then frowned in concern at the deep purple streaks underneath her eyes.
Are you alright? left his mouth instead.
She waved him off, and only then did he notice how forced her smile seemed. Just dandy! she chirped. Does it work?
Perfectly, he said. Thank you.
She paused, and her smile faded a bit. Sure...Tell Izuku and - and Iida I said hello.
I will. They’ll know who this came from.
He left, giving the young girl some privacy to stop sniffling.
Toshinori had heard the news of Iida’s passing, saw the mark it left on Class 1-A’s occupants, and shared their grief in solemn silence.
The kid had been bright, shining with potential, and he too was ripped from any possibility of being able to flaunt his talents, live his life and grow.
He announced the dorm idea to the class before the news released the information, and he had expected some kind of intrigue, some kind of curiosity or wonder or excitement for the idea, even during the grief. Instead, the students watched him with serious frowns and worried, but warily optimistic murmurs.
How tight do you think security will be? they whispered. Do you think this will work? Will Izuku and Iida be with us or here? Its U.A, this has to work, right?
Toshinori watched them and realized something: the kids in front of him were in for years of hardship. He only hoped it wouldn’t change them.