Shouta had taught a lot of teenagers over the years. It meant that they could do little that he either hadn't seen before or could really surprise him all that much. Though this years batch of first years, his home room of devil-spawn, were certainly taking that fact as a challenge. It had been the first time all 20 students made it to the end of their first year, villain attacks aside. Shouta was also ignoring the fact that he had just expelled Mineta from the hero course on his first day of second year.
They had survived attack after attack and come out stronger for it, and despite all the protesting, he was still positive they were traumatised, and surprisingly little of them put too much fight into his arranging of mandatory therapy for them all.
The sheer magnet that was his class for villains astounded him, he just couldn't figure out what it was that seemed to attract criminals and villains alike towards them, yet they seemed to flock to them like moths to a flame.
They were pretty chaotic, even for Aizawa's vent gremlin ass who loved to revel in the quiet chaos he usually left in his wake, the leaders of chaos in his class even surprising him. If you had asked at the start of their first year, he would of told you the leaders were Kaminari, Ashido and Sero, Kirishima skipping along merrily to help them in their plans for destruction and disruption of his peace.
Now, he knew better.
Now, he knew exactly which little demons hidden well within his class were the true leaders of chaos. Maybe possible world domination. He wouldn't put it past them at this point.
And the introduction of the dorms had only increased his headaches as they invited that chaos into their lives on a more semi-permanent basis.
The most surprising of all his devil-spawn children this year was Midoriya Izuku. Shouta could admit that he had been ready to cut his losses and toss the child to General Education that first day, and if he was lucky, consider him again in a years time if he had improved. His first impressions of the small child stood before him had, admittedly, been unimpressive and mostly negative. But then that same child, the one who had run franticly and terrified looking through his whole exam, who had thrown himself at a dangerous robot carelessly and used his impractical and under-trained quirk – thoughts of lazy over-powered teens trying to coast by on some god-given powers really grated through his mind as he first watched the green haired boy – as he paused. He paused before throwing that damned ball and blew Shouta's expectations and impressions out the water. He was intrigued, so he kept him, would keep a close eye.
Soon it was clear that he had not trained his quirk at all, and Shouta couldn't figure out why. He almost acted like a toddler after a manifestation at times, and he had made a note to check Midoriya's files after his internships. Through that had never happened, his problem child living up to his name and getting into the thick of it, but now with less bone-breaking at least.
By then he had shown just how hard he was willing to learn, to work. To put in more effort than any other hero student Shouta had seen in a long time. And yet, something in the back of his mind still plagued him about the boy, he was a walking conundrum. He had the power and smarts to be a hero-brat – a name Shouta had dubbed to powerfully quirked children that society had decided would be a perfect hero, praised for every little thing and never taught properly. Given everything and their records squeaky clean.
And though Shouta had not had a chance to read through the file yet, he had seen the size of it – it was larger than even his protégé – Shinsou's – which was full of false accusations and lies, black marks and slander. He had seen Bakugou's file, another child he had dubbed a Hero-brat, but at least he lived up to that name. His file had been glowing and near empty aside from praise and recommendation. He had an ego taller than All Might, cocky and full of pride. Exactly what Shouta would have expected of a child with a powerful, flashy quirk, one that society would have deemed perfect for heroics.
But this year, this year he would get to the heart of the mystery that was Midoriya Izuku, a child that should act like Bakugou but reminded him more of Shinsou, who had been abused and neglected since his quirk had manifested – Shouta had made sure he was moved out of that excuse of a foster home, and he was currently being fostered by Nemuri, which had surprised Shouta but, he knew the kid would thrive with her, and he suspected that Nem wanted to keep him, his emotions taking a dive at remembering his friends own situation.
The holidays were over, the first week of settling back into the dorms done and the first week of classes finished. There was no looming threat of over-powered super-villains targeting his class just yet – he wasn't going to hold out hope, he had seen and been through too much for that – and everything was calm and peaceful and clicking into routine. It was the perfect opportunity for Shouta to begin his investigation that he should have prioritised long ago.
How he wishes he had.
It was 5 minutes till curfew on Saturday night, Shouta standing in the common room and counting heads, nodding at the confirmations of students already in their rooms – Bakugou had headed to bed at his usual 8:30, Aoyama, Hagakure, Tsu and Shouji had all apparently decided to turn in early too. And he counted 14 heads between the common room and the kitchen.
Ashido, Kaminari, Kirishima and Sero were huddled together on a couch with game consoles, cheering or booing each other. Sato Ojiro and Tokoyami were talking quietly in the kitchen as the former seemed to be waiting for something in the oven, whilst Yaoyorozu, Jiro and Koda sat at the counter near by them with cups of tea in hands and also chatting quietly. And finally, Iida, Uraraka and Todoroki were sitting around a low coffee table with notebooks and text books surrounding them, Shinsou sprawled out on the couch behind them with drooping eyes.
He let his eyes sweep over them all again in another quick count before checking his phone for the time.
One minute till curfew.
With a weary sigh, he stepped further into the common area – he had plans to study student files tonight – gaining his hell-spawns attention quickly as most of them turned to watch him.
“Where's Midoriya? Is he already in his room?”
At that, he watched as the class shared glances amongst themselves, brows furrowed in worry and concern, frowns marring the problem childs closest friends faces as even Shinsou sat up with a glint of worry in his eyes.
“Aizawa-sensei, we haven't seen him since training ended earlier.” Uraraka hesitantly tells him, eyes glancing over towards the doors.
“I can confirm he is not in his room or anywhere within the dorms Aizawa-Sensei!” Iida spoke up loudly as his back straightened and he gave his report, glasses glinting a little as his head twitched to also glance towards the door, as if expecting the green haired child to run through any minute now.
It's been hours since they had training, and now that he thinks about it, his problem child had been unusually quiet and subdued, he barely looked up. Something in Shouta's guts churn and his instincts are clawing at his brain as he instructs the rest of the students to stay and get ready for bed, swifty heading out and pulling out his phone to check logs and security.
Midoriya had not returned to the dorms since leaving this morning, so Shouta would have to try and find him via the cameras as his Student ID doesn't show up on any other logs aside from the training grounds they had used that day, and he remembers seeing them all leave to change and head back to the dorms. The good news is that he hadn't logged out of campus grounds at least, unless he had spawned yet another aspect to his stupidly weird quirk that teleported him, which at this point, he wouldn't even blink at the news.
Making it to the teachers dorms, he quickly makes it to his small apartment space and sitting at the desk where his security computer is situated. He quickly double checks all the logs before looking for the right security footage, taking a few minutes to scroll through the many many different cameras for each area before finding the one for the entrance for the training area they were at today, and he makes sure to go back at least ten minutes before the lesson had even ended.
He can feel the edges of panic trying to seep into him, just at the bare corners of his mind. He suppressed those thoughts as he narrows his eyes at his monitor, watching on the split screen – one showing just inside the entrance and the other showing the door from the outside – as he watches the groups of students leaving, talking amongst themselves and joking about, most smiling and laughing with each other. Watches as Midoriya walks through the door behind his friends, pauses, says something to them at which they nod and continue and Midoriya just, waits beside the door. Watches as he waits until the last of his class leaves, waving goodbye and out of sight before slumping to the ground behind the door, curling up with knees brought to chest and head buried in arms and Shouta feels his heart beginning to beat a little faster.
What was wrong? What had Shouta missed?
Then, he watches himself slump out the door, walking away quickly without a look back, without seeing how Midoriya's hand shoots out to grab the door as it swung open, holding it as Shouta's figure disappeared off screen. How he takes a few moments, just sitting and holding the door before pulling himself up and slipping back inside.
What on earth? Was he training?
Taking a quick note of the timestamp and which cameras cover the training ground, Shouta gets up, shoving his capture scarf over his head and bypasses the door, opening his balcony door and jumping out towards where his problem child should hopefully still be.
It doesn't take him long between running and using his scarf on trees to pull him forward, and soon he's pausing at the doors to the training grounds. This one emulated a large city with plenty of buildings and alleys and the like. Glancing at the spot he knows that Midoriya sat before, he lets out a sigh before swiping his Teacher ID over the doors panel and slipping inside the lobby before the outdoor grounds, heading towards the screens and controls first. It wouldn't do to run around with no idea where Midoriya might be. He boots up the system quickly, eyes scanning as everything seems to take long minutes to scan the area. And he almost sighs of relief when an alert pops up of a person being detected within the grounds – not a security breach warning thankfully, just a regular tracker to keep an eye on who was where. But that almost-sigh gets stuck in his throat as he sees exactly where his problem child is, a second screen popping up and showing real-time footage of his student.
His student who is sitting looking up at the sky, legs dangling over the edge of what Shouta recognises as the largest and most unstable building within that area, his bright red shoes lined up neatly aside him.
Shouta barely allows himself a moment just to double check the location coordinates before he's dead sprinting out the door and scaling buildings, mind focused on just getting to his kid faster, get there and drag him away from that ledge, pushing thoughts of sky blue clouds that often drift through his thoughts around the other student when he smiles at Shouta, so very much alike another 16 year old with a beaming smile and a desire to save. He can't allow that comparison to stop or hinder him now, wont allow it to trip him up or falter. Not when he can see the building ahead of him. See the legs slowly kicking and swaying over the side and his heart doesn't know if it's dropping to his feet at he leaps up at the side of the building, scarf pulling him up and muscle memory carrying him the rest of the way, or if its trying to force it's way up his throat like a lump of acidic bile waiting to escape, to splatter everywhere.
Feet finally landing on the roof, so close yet not close enough, Shouta pauses. He cant afford to startle Midoriya into falling.
However it seems he doesn't need to worry as the boy's head tilts slightly, an eye peeking back at him before returning to look up above him.
“Hi, Aizawa-Sensei” His voice is soft and calm, carrying back to Shouta's ears on the wind like tinkling chimes and Shouta can barely stop the burning in his throat. Midoriya sounds so calm, like he's sitting in a field of flowers or on a beach. He's too calm and Shouta's instincts are pounding against his brain, trying to kick their way in and yell at him.
“Can I sit beside you?” He decides to settle on, voice a little ragged from how fast he pushed himself to get here. Midoriya glances back at him a little more properly this time, eyes taking him in carefully, considering, before turning away with a single nod. So Shouta carefully steps up beside the boy and sits with his own legs swung over the edge. He makes sure to leave a small gap between them, he doesn't want to over crowd his student, but he's close enough that he could still grab him, still save him if it came to it. He doesn't look at him either, choosing to look up at the darkening sky above them, the cool air blowing into his face as he blinks up at the expanse of deep navy blue stretched out above them.
They sit there in silence for a while, Shouta happy to wait. He's patient and understands that sometimes time is needed. Silent support rather than nagging worry piled on top. And eventually, his student speaks, voice still quiet and forlorn and so far away as he stares out in front of himself at nothing at all, his eyes blank and dull and no traces of his usual spark or gleam, no bright life force. Just dull empty voids of dark murky green, muted and gone, sending ice splintering and creaking down his spine.
“Do you ever wonder, what would have happened if you did one tiny thing different?” He asks quietly, finger tips tapping mutely against the concrete ledge.
“Like, If you made a right turn in stead of a left. If you listened to your alarm clock and got up on time instead of taking that extra ten minutes....” he trails off, eyebrows furrowing as something seems to creep over his mind.
“If you should have taken that extra step forward instead of backwards.” He whispers after long moments of the world being paused, not even the wind making its presence known.
And Shouta's mind narrows down on that last sentence, repeating it over and over in his head as he slowly turns to look at Midoriya properly. He, he couldn't possibly mean...
And yet here they sit on a roof, so very high up, the chances of surviving a fall little, especially with the rubble and ruins and metal and other bits and pieces strewn all over below them. Shouta has the sudden realisation that, he has never really seen his problem child properly, only what he had projected out to the world, only showing what he wanted others to see. Hiding himself away behind some facade that Shouta could now see cracks in, crumbling slowly before him. Just how long had Midoriya been trying to up hold everything, hoarding his inner-self? How long had he been isolated and ignored for what people wanted to see?
Now, now he could see past the many cracks, just a glimpse. He could see the trembling in tensed arms, not only cold and pale but scarred and in pain, he could see the way his chest barely hitched with his breathing, not quite even but close enough that he had to concentrate to realise it. He could see the dried streaks upon pale cheeks, cutting through make-up that he never realised that Midoriya wore. The patches now visible through that make-up showed a lot more freckles – his mind reminds him that his granny, his big mama, used to call them gifts from the sun and moon, called them sun kisses for the darker brown ones and the pale ones were moon kisses – more than he could ever count or imagine. There was dark smudges that marred under his eyes that for a split second, Shouta thought might just be smeared eyeliner or mascara, but no, it was his exhaustion made physical, visible for him too see just how worn down and thread-bare thin he was. He could see, even through his gym uniform that hung limply from his body that actually, he was looking thinner, though not healthily so, not from hard work and training. He looked like he had skipped too many meals whilst still keeping up his strenuous routine – Midoriya had the hardest and most intense schedule out of all his students and Vlad's put together, it was bordering insane – and hadn't stopped to rest enough. His hair, whilst always a nest of curls and waves, looked less fluffy and soft but more lifeless and like no one had touched it in weeks, visible matting if he looked close enough. Midoriya looked ill, like the slight breeze that blew against his face would finally push him off this ledge if it changed its direction.
How had he missed this much?
Taking a deep breath, he nods slowly, memories of falling buildings and doubts and hesitation floating to mind.
“Sometimes.” He offers quietly.”However, we have to remember that those things we did do or chose, that's what makes us who we are. They shaped us into who we are meant to be. Sometimes it's, not easy things, things we might wish didn't happen or that if we could change it, we would. But...” Midoriya is looking him in the eyes now, face carefully blank as Shouta searches for something, anything.
“If we changed those things, whose to say the world wouldn't be worse off?”
“What do you mean?” He whispers quietly, confusion clear. Blinking in his attempt to understand. That's okay.
“If I decided not to take part in my own sports festival, I wouldn't have become a pro. Who would watch your class full of demons if I weren't here?” And Midoriya's lips twitch just the slightest.
“Who would have saved Tsu if you weren't at the USJ.” Midoriya adds, and Kami, doesn't that thought hurt, making his chest ache in a familiar way, like it does after his nightmares about the night. Like his nightmares about the training camp and Kamino, about every attack his class had been enforced to endure, Midoriya, his problem child usually the front and centre of it all.
“Yeh. And, what would have happened to Eri had you decided not to intern with Sir Nighteye.” He offers next. It feels like a little bit of a low blow, he knows how much Midoriya loves that little girl, how fiercely protective he is of her.
“Mirio still would have saved her, I'm sure...” He trails off as he looks down at his hands with conflicted eyes.
“Midoriya, you were the one who caught Eri, The one who held on tightly. You were the one to save her. You were the only one who was able to fight against Chisaki without Eri erasing you from existence, no one else would have been able to do that. You are Eri's hero.” Shouta takes a moment as he sees the tears gathering in the kids eyes, going glassy and shiny.
“You're also Kouta's hero, Mandalay tells me he wont shut up about you, problem child. Even begged for trainers just like yours.” he adds on with a glance over at said trainers, and the first tear rolls down a cheek before slowly dripping off onto shaking hands and fingers clamp tightly together.
“Pretty sure your Katsuma's hero too, kid. Mahoro seems to be weirdly attached to Bakugou though, Kami knows why.” And he get a wet laugh as Midoriya looks up at him, tears finally bursting through the invisible barrier he had valiantly tried to keep and flooding his face silently.
“Mahoro kinda reminds me of Kacchan before he got his quirk.” There's a sniffle then he's wiping his endless tears on his arms uselessly, giving up again after a moment. Looking back up at the blank canvas above, he lets out a heavy sigh.
“I'm kind of surprised you're not dragging me back by the scarf already.” He shakes his head as he leans forward a little, elbows digging into knees, jagged lines twisting and twirling up his arms like warped tattoos, scars and evidence of his time as a hero student, of his hard work and determination. There's other scars, not quite as visible, especially beneath the gruesome painting that is his quirks side effects, but they are there, pale pink with the slightest shine, the slightest discolouration that comes with time and healing, and as Shouta takes a moment to really study his student, the more of them he sees, including one beneath smeared make-up peeking from beneath clothing on his neck and throat.
His own throat feels like its closing up, shutting out his access to air as his lungs burn. And as much as he wants to ask – needs to know – now is not the time. Not when his problem child is upset and empty looking and sitting on a ledge and leaning too far forward for his liking.
“Is there anything you regretted?” Midoriya speaks up after another few minutes of listening to the night settle around them, distant lights from the school and dorms barely visible from where they sit up near the clouds. Shouta can't look over at him though, cant face Midoriya who feels like a friend (Bestfriendcrushlove) reincarnated sometimes.
“Yes.” He breathes out honestly. He refused to lie to Midoriya, he deserved better than that.
“Would you change it if you could, even if it would change the things that came after?” At that, he does look over, meeting green eyes, still dull and empty but there's the beginnings of something there, a pinprick of unsure conflict. A pinprick of hope for Shouta.
“Sometimes, I would, I think. I- He...” He trails off, unsure and fighting back his own overwhelming emotions.
With a sigh, Shouta nods, his heart heavy and dragging at the memory, he tells Midoriya the basics of what had happened. Tells Midoriya how Oboro, code name Loud Cloud, would have been an exceptional hero. And Midoriya listens silently, taking it all in with a slight frown.
“He would have liked you, problem child. You remind me of him sometimes.” Or, well, most times actually but he doesn't want to admit that. Doesn't want Midoriya to think that all he sees when he looks at him is a lost friend, lost family. Because that's not what Shouta sees when he looks at Midoriya, he sees so much more.
Midoriya shakes his head, turning away.
“He sounds a lot better than I am. He sounds like he would have been a wonderful hero and teacher. But, I think I would still prefer to have you as my Sensei.” And that shocks something within him.
Shouta may have missed much about his problem child, but one of the things he didn't miss, besides his reckless streak and self sacrificial determination to save and help, he knew that Midoriya didn't trust easy. Kids he trusted the easiest, his example was Eri. Teens his own age, he was more cautious around – most but not all. His examples was that he took a long time to truly relax around Iida, Uraraka and Todoroki. Yet with Shinsou, he had latched on almost right after their first sports festival match, almost imprinting on the other boy.
Older teens were harder yet, Shouta having witnessed how carefully Midoriya acted and chose his words around his Senpeis, Mirio, Tamaki and Hado. And finally, adults and authority figures were the people Midoriya trusted the least, and even that seemed to have an order. Civilians weren't too bad. Nurses and doctors he shied away from and avoided. Pro heroes he seemed to fight himself over, his natural awe and fascination fighting against his distrust. And the people he distrusted the most seemed to be teachers. Shouta knows he would refuse to ask for help even if he had been shot, stabbed and was drugged. Midoriya would try to push through it before coming to him for help, much to Shouta's dismay.
“That so?” He asks, watching as Midoriya slowly nods as he takes his time.
“Even if he was a great teacher with a powerful and versatile quirk, he wouldn't be you. He could be the best teacher in the world, but that still wouldn't make him you. I...” Here he trails off, shoulders hunching in and arms slowly wrapping round vitals, curling into himself protectively.
“I think I can, um, trust you, Aizawa-Sensei.” He whispers out, finally a little colour coming back to his face as traces of red and pink bloom over his cheeks and nose and reaching up to the tips of his ears.
And Shouta can feel that trust suddenly, as gentle and carefully as its just been placed before him, he can feel that weight of it, settling in his chest and upon his shoulders. Shouta just hopes he can live up to and keep that trust in him. He hums, slightly pleased with that before glancing back at his problem child, still hunched in and looking a little like a frightened rabbit.
“I'm glad you can trust me, Midoriya. I will do my best to keep that. I hope that you know you can come to me for anything too. Even if you think it might be silly. I'll still listen to you and help where I can.” Midoriya sighs, uncurling a smudge but keeps his hunched position.
“You want to know why I'm out here.” he states, voice almost empty once more, exhaustion once more lining his entire body as he breathed quietly.
“I, well. I wasn't supposed to tell anyone without permission. But a lot has changed. I've changed, except. I've not really. I'm, just...” There's quiet as Midoriya squints his eyes at his lap, letting him gather his thoughts even if more flashing flags are popping up in Shouta's mind.
“I'm tired, Aizawa-Sensei. I'm so so tired.” At that he peeks up, eyes locking with Shoutas, wide and glassy and more emotions swirling in them than he had seen all night, and his heart aches and cracks for him. He can see just how tired he is, can see how close his student is to breaking under some sort of pressure that is pushing him down down down into the dirt and gravel like it was trying to bury him beneath the earths crust. Could see how close he was to choking and suffocating on expectations – of what he wasn't sure – how they clogged his throat like dirt and gravel and water, denying him the oxygen he needed, the break in the water that would save him.
With that, Shouta holds out his hand silently, palm up and waits. No expectations or pressure. Nothing but offering a choice to his student who looked like he had never been offered a true choice in anything before if his current expression of hurt confusion was to go off of.
“I...” He hesitates, sucks in a shuddering breath before nodding and placing a scarred, calloused hand within his, crooked fingers twitching and curling around his hand and something within Shouta loosens just the smallest amount, easing up and giving him a second to gasp in air.
“I cant, I cant keep doing this.” Midoriya whispers brokenly, hiccups appearing and his breathing stutters, Shouta's hand tightening around his as he leans too far forward, teetering too close on the line of balancing and falling and Shouta's mind almost goes blank with panic, his instincts wanting to just yank his kid back into the safety of solid ground and warm arms. But he has to be so careful so he just tugs gently at the hand he has gripped within his own too tightly, body braced and capture scarf shifting around his neck, ready to shoot out at a moments notice.
“Mido-” And Shouta pauses, watching as he seems to curl even more at his own name in his ears, something blaring and flashing bright in his mind, warnings and signals and Shouta nudges it aside for the moment. He needs to deal with this part first, he can tackle that later when his problem child is safe and where Shouta can help him.
“Izuku, can you look at me please?” He asks, voice a quite firm, but no demands within him, giving Izuku the option. Watching as another shudder rakes through his already trembling frame like someone invisible was giving him a light shake. And after a decade long moment, Izuku tilts his head just enough, one eye hazed over in shiny liquid and deep and swirling with hurt and pain blinking up at him from between strands of waves and curls that hide most of his face in shadows and the dark.
“Whatever it is, I promise, you don't need to do anything, okay? Or, you don't need to do it alone. I'm here for you, I'll listen to anything you want to tell me and I'll help with anything you need. I just, please, Izuku. I cant help you if you don't let me.” And he's edging on pleading, something he didn't want. He needed to be strong and solid for Izuku, a grounding force for his problem child to lean on when weary and tired, to help him climb higher to achieve anything and everything he wanted.
But the pleading seems to get to Izuku, as he is slowly lifting his head to look up at Shouta now, eyes roving over his own face and searching once more.
Finally, Kami, finally, Izuku averts his eyes to his lap and shuffles backwards, until he's more than an arms length away from the edge, feet solid upon the cold concrete and knees tight to his chest, one arm stretched out to Shouta's as he refused to let go, the other wound tightly round legs, curled up tight and defensive. And Shouta suddenly feels like he can breathe properly again, like he never realised his lungs weren't actually taking in enough air, and he takes a moment to just let them fill with relief and push back the emotional tears that he can feel burning hot behind his eyes. Now isn't the time.
Shouta shuffles back himself until he is sitting beside Izuku, legs crossed and hand still firmly gripping his, though not quite the death tight grip he had before but still there and still grounding. And as Izuku begins to cry a little louder now, sniffles and whimpers escaping a tightly clamped jaw and hitching breaths, Shouta just makes sure to press into his side and squeeze his hand in a breathing rhythm, is patient and there for him as Izuku eventually brings the hand still clinging to his own up and using his own arm to wipe at his face.
“I-I'm sorry, Aizawa-Sensei” he whimpers out pathetically, voice wobbly and devastated. Shouta just tugs him closer and Izuku follows, letting go of his hand only to tangle fingers into his top and capture scarf, face turning into him and soaking through his clothes quickly as he loops an arm around Izuku, soothing his palm up and down his back, taking note of how thin he feels now against him, how bones are beginning to protrude and hinder his hand on its path up and down the kids back.
They sit there in near silence for a long time. Long enough for night to finally settle. Long enough that he knows his other hell-spawn will have mostly went to bed – mostly, because he knows Shinsou will linger if his insomnia is acting up, that Tokoyami may sit up reading a bit longer in the low lights of the common room and others for various reasons – but eventually Izuku digs his head in against Shouta's collar bone a little harder for a second before he's pulling back, avoiding eye contact whilst wiping his face again, most of his make-up smeared away and gone, showing how pale and ill Izuku looks along side some discoloured skin over one side of his head near his ear. An almost violent shiver runs right down his body and Izuku tries to half heartedly shake it off.
“C'mon, Problem Child. You're cold and probably haven't eaten yet. Let's get you inside and something to eat. We can talk more later, okay?” And Izuku sends him an almost panicked look as Shouta moves to stand.
“I, I don't..” Ah. Of course.
“We can go to the teachers dorms.” He offers, and it helps a little but there is still a reluctance there as he slowly nods, taking hold of the hand that Shouta offers him and pulls him up. Once up, Shouta glances over at the ledge, spotting red trainers and steps over quickly, grabbing them before turning back to a blank faced Izuku, who is staring at his shoes with empty eyes again. He silently takes them and slips them on, not lacing them up but instead just tucking the laces in for now and they make their way down the building slowly, Shouta leading the way down the secured fire escape at the back – the rest of the building was a hazard used for training – and made their way back to the dorms, veering off to the teachers dorms before the turn to the students ones, Izuku trailing silently just behind him with twisting hands and nervous steps. Shouta made sure to send Hizashi a quick text as they walked to warn him of their incoming visitor, getting a thumbs up and rainbow heart emojis in reply.
Reaching the doors to the dorms, Izuku hesitates, stopping at the bottom of the steps as Shouta pauses at the top, looking back as he has a hand on the door knob.
“I don't, I mean, will um Al...Will there b-be anyone else i-in there?” Izuku stumbles over the start of his question, stuttering quietly as his eyes glanced to the doors and the low glow of lights through the windows at the side of the doors. Shouta glanced back at the door for a second before turning back to Izuku and quickly making his way back to him, pausing long enough to pat him on the shoulder then tilting his head in a gesture for the boy to follow him once more, leading Izuku around to the back of the building where it was darker and opening the small back door that Shouta used the most for slipping in and out for his patrols. Barely anyone used this door or back set of stairs so it was quiet and dark except for the low lighting of the stairwell.
Once up the stairs to the top of the building, Shouta pauses outside of his door, glancing back at Izuku with careful eyes.
“Will you be alright if Yamada is here?” He doesn't elaborate on why the other man would be there, Shouta likes his privacy and the knowledge of their marriage is kept a closely guarded secret for a reason.
Izuku just nods tiredly, glancing at the door for a moment before looking back at Shouta.
“I already expected he would be, you guys are married aren't you?” And Shouta should not be surprised that he worked it out. So with an amused huff, he opens the door and ushers Izuku in, the both of them slipping off boots and trainers before there's a cat pawing at Shouta's legs for attention, mewing sweetly up at him.
His cats are brats and they are not sweet nor innocent.
He scoops up the littlest of his brats, a calico cat that would never grow bigger than a kitten, and holds her out to Izuku who takes her carefully if not slightly confused, being distracted as she immediately begins purring and pushing her head insistently into the underneath of Izuku's chin.
“That's Tiny. I wanted to name her Calamari but Hizashi wouldn't let me.” He states in his normal deadpan, suppressing a smirk at the indignant squawk that comes from behind him as Hizashi appears.
“Tiny is a baby! You can't be horrible to her Sho!” He crosses his arms with a raised bow, lips unable to stop from twitching into his grin for more than a second.
“You found her in a sushi box. I would have named her Sushi if Nem didn't already have the Sushi.” And he can see the confused look Izuku is giving him over that one. It's fine.
Hizashi huffs, pointing a finger at him before turning to Izuku, his cheeky grin softening as he takes in his shivering student.
“Let's get in properly and get warmed up, yeh?” He offers, voice quieter, softer than most are accustomed to hearing. He sends Shouta a look, and Shouta discreetly signs to him to make something easy and warm to eat for Izuku, and he nods before disappearing into the kitchen.
Turning back to Izuku, he is scritching Tiny gently with a small smile as he holds her up and close to his chest, clearly enjoying the affection that she so happily and freely gives. He hates to interrupt that but he can cuddle the cats later.
“Right, come on.” And Izuku dutifully follows Shouta further into the small apartment they have on the top floor. Nedzu thankfully built the teachers apartments rather than single rooms, thank mercy for that, and stopping in the living room, Shouta turns back to his student.
“Right, you're clearly frozen to the bone so I want you to go take a shower. I'll get you a towel and stuff. Once you're out, just come back here and we can get you something to eat.”
Izuku opens his mouth to protest, holding Tiny closer to himself in a defensive manner so Shouta just holds up his hand, Izuku's jaw clicking shut immediately.
“I'm all for giving choices and stuff kid. But some things I would like you to do for your own benefit, please? The shower will warm you up plus you're still in your clothes from training this morning. That cant be comfortable or very nice.” And at that, Izuku glances down at himself like he had forgotten, his nose scrunching up in disgust before nodding his agreement. So Shouta leads him to the bathroom, telling him to wait whilst he goes to get a towel and some of his old clothes that no longer fit. They might be a bit big on Izuku but they would do, and he hands them to the still trembling boy, who takes them in unsure hands and wet eyes blinking up at him with a whispered thanks before he is shutting the bathroom door, hearing the shower starting and going to collapse on the couch in the living room.
A weight settles on his lap, a small head pushing into his stomach. With a sigh, he blinks down at the ginger tabby, chunky and fluffy, and gives into the demands for pets. All his cats were brats. All of them. He didn't love them. Except for when he absolutely did.
“I see Haggis didn't take long to find you. He was sleeping in the bedroom before you got back.” Hizashi sits beside him, reaching out a hand to run down the cats back before turning red eyes onto Shouta.
Shouta loved his husbands eyes, though he wished he didn't insist on wearing those bright lime contacts. He knew it was so he didn't scare civilians or kids when on the jobs, but Shouta honestly preferred his deep crimson eyes, the swirling patterns within them from his actual eyes and not the work of those horrid contacts. Yeh, Shouta didn't like his husbands contact lenses. Sue him.
“Is the little listener alright?” he asks quietly, eyes glancing back to the hallway for a moment before looking back to Shouta. And isn't that the question he would like to ask himself. Instead he runs his free hand through slightly tangled hair, pushing it out his face for a moment before it fluttered back down, staring hard at the patterns on Haggis's back like they might give him the answers he wants.
“No? I don't know? I just-” He sighs, making sure he could still hear the shower before pressing his side more firmly into Hizashi.
“He wasn't in the dorms by curfew so I had to go looking for him. Long story short I found him in one of the outdoor training cities, sitting on the edge of a roof.” And he watches as Hizashi's eyes blow wide, face scrunching in shock and fear and settling into upset and concern. Hizashi always felt too much and too deeply. He loved all his students and cared about them so much. It always wrecks him to hear about things happening to his students. He was devastated after the USJ and the training camp. He wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his love freely to anyone who he thought would need it. But Hizashi was also smart, more intelligent than people realised or gave him credit for.
“You got him back here Sho, we can help him with what ever it is. We'll support him, right?” Shouta nods, letting his head drop tiredly to Hizashi's shoulder. Kami, he was so tired.
Soon the sounds of the shower switched off and Hizashi took that as his cue to get up and see to the food he had cooking, the smells of something warm and delicious starting to drift through the apartment. And soon, Izuku was stepping carefully into the living room, eyes darting about before fixing on Shouta and shuffling closer, Tiny winding round his legs and mewling demandingly.
See. A brat.
Shouta pats the couch and thankfully, Izuku only looks at it for a few moments before carefully settling a little bit away from him, his hair still damp and dripping a bit, curls heavy with water but less matted now. His face had been cleared of make-up as well now completely and Shouta was almost astonished at the freckles that covered his face and neck and bits of shoulders he could see from the too big jumper hanging off him loosely. The bits he had caught in the dark shadows peeking through smears of make-up had hardly showed him anything compared to the constellations of stars that dusted over his face. But it also showed Shouta just how washed out and pallid he is, pale with purple and red puffy swollen eyes, scarring and discolouration on his head and neck and shoulders marring his constellations and breaking up smooth should-be-tanned skin. Could see how his collarbones were starting to jut out and hollow unhealthily. And something ugly and painful twisted in Shouta's chest as he took a breath, trying to organise his thoughts.
How had he missed so much? How had he let his student slip through the cracks and left to suffer and deal with what ever this was alone? This wasn't just some bad day, but the accumulation of many many bad days piling on top of one another, weighing him down and beating him. How had Shouta managed to fail Izuku just so spectacularly?
“Food should be ready soon. Are you still cold?” And he watches as muscles tense, as Izuku shakes his head, mouth opening before Shouta pins him with a look, hesitating a little and averting his eyes.
“Um, m-maybe a little bit? B-but it's alright. I'm fine.” Shouta stands, making his way to the hallway and pulling out one of his more fluffy, warmer blankets he owned. This thing was huge and it wasn't technically a weighted blanket but it held a little weight to it all the same, and quickly made his way back to Izuku, stopping in front of him and holding the blanket out and open. Izuku blinks up at him in confusion for a moment.
“Stand for me kid?” Shouta asks and Izuku follows, allowing Shouta to wrap the oversized blanket around his shoulders comfortably and tucking the edges into hands that twitch and still seem stiff.
Hmm. That's another thing to add to his list, he vaguely notes as he encourages Izuku to sit again, now wrapped up in the dark grey blanket that Shouta knows for a fact feels like fluffy clouds against his skin. Izuku burrows deeper into the warmth surrounding him and Shouta can see the visible relaxing of his shoulders as he leans back into the couch, eyes almost instantly drooping half shut. He suddenly realises that they might not get the chance to talk tonight, the kid looking ready to flop over into sleep already.
“Hey little listener! You ready for some food?” Hizashi appears, a tray with a bowl and glass perched neatly atop as he pauses in front of Izuku, eyes taking in the slowly blinking child and giving him a soft smile as he sits on the coffee table in front of Izuku, tray balanced on knees as Izuku wriggles into a straighter position, blanket slipping from his shoulders a little. Once he's settled, Hizashi carefully places the tray onto his lap, gives wet curls a light run through with his hand as he stands and pats Shouta's shoulder as he passes back into the kitchen, no doubt to clean up and make coffee. Tiny is stretched out along the length of Izuku's leg, little paws up and out above her as she purrs and her tail twitches in sleep. Brat. Least she isn't trying to stick her face in the bowl of food this time. He was still bitter about her doing that to his bowl of ramen last month.
Izuku eats silently and Shouta tilts his head back with eyes closed, enjoying the moment of peace as he listens to the purrs surrounding him, the clinking and banging of his husband in the kitchen and the occasional shifting from the boy beside him. Soon he's finished and Shouta takes the tray from him before he can stand, ignoring the weak protests and leaves the dishes with Hizashi, who hands him two mugs in return, one of his strong coffee and the other that smells of chocolate and cinnamon and has little mallows bobbing in the creamy looking drink. A quick kiss to his wonderful husbands cheek and he's back to sitting beside Izuku, holding out the hot chocolate to him, watching as he takes it oh so carefully, gripping the mug tightly and sighing quietly.
“Are your hands hurting?” He asks as he eyes Izuku's hands, they look stiff and a little swollen and red now that he is looking more closely. Izuku opens and closes his mouth a few times before nodding.
“They, um, get a little sore when it's colder or if I've, um, strained them a little too much?” he asks rather than states, like he's unsure. Leaning back, Shouta looks towards the kitchen.
“Zashi? Can you grab the painkiller?”
“Sure can do!” Is the immediate reply and within minutes Hizashi is standing beside Izuku, offering him some over the counter painkiller, and a glass of water.
“You injured little listener?” He asks, eyes carefully cataloguing everything he can possibly spot on the boy, lips pulling into a deeper frown at what he sees.
Izuku shakes his head.
“Um, no, sorry, it's just, my hands is all...” He holds up one of his hands, the fingers sitting not right and stiff, for Hizashi to see. He inspects the hand before humming and telling Izuku to wait a second.
Izuku shoots Shouta a confused look, wanting answers, but Shouta just shrugs. Hizashi returns after close to five minutes, one of their many heatable teddies – Shouta would never admit to anyone else he own one never mind multiple – and cream in hand. He passes the green dragon teddy to Izuku, watching the brief surprise melting into a thankful smile, small and soft as he thanks Hizashi.
Making himself comfortable on the coffee table once more, he faces Izuku and hold up the small tube of cream and explains to him how it will help with inflammation and pain, and asks if he could help put it on. Izuku glances back at Shouta, who just offers a small smile, before nodding, letting Hizashi take his mug and place it beside him.
They spend the next fifteen minutes in mostly silence as Hizashi shows Izuku how to massage the cream into his hands to help with the pain. By the end of it, Izuku looks ready to pass out, slumping back into the couch and eyes barely open, blinking slowing until his eyes are closed longer than they are open.
Hizashi places his hand down gently and just watches as Izuku's head finally droops forward and he breaths even out, easy and deep and alive.
They stay silent for a few minutes before Hizashi is looking over, hands raising to sign at him.
'What do you want to do?' and Shouta isn't sure. He glances back at Izuku once more before huffing out a breath through his nostrils.
'Let him sleep, he needs it. We'll try and lay him down in a minute.' Hizashi nods and stands, taking the half drunk chocolate and his empty mug before disappearing again. It would be a long night. He could feel it in his guts and in his bones.
Shouta blinked tiredly at the kettle as it warmed. It was still far too early yet he was up and making coffee. He was definitely drinking the strong stuff today, feeling the exhaustion like lead weights filling his bones and dragging him down.
He has been right in his guts that it would be a long night. After eventually settling Izuku on the couch properly, blankets tucked tightly around him and Hizashi tucking a pillow beneath then-dried curls, Shouta had laid awake in bed for two hours before getting up again. He doesn't know why, instinct maybe? But all he knows is he knew he had to get up.
And when he peeked into the living room, cast in a low glow from a small lamp left on in case Izuku woke at some point. And he almost left after a few moments of peering through the shadowed stillness, but as he turned to leave, a small whimper from the couch drew him back.
Nightmares. And apparently Izuku doesn't make much noise or movements when caught up in them, nothing but quiet whimpers and a slight sheen of sweat starting to bead along sickly white skin. Shouta had to gently wake him after five minutes, watching as Izuku blearily blinked at him before apologizing, trying to get up. Shouta had to spend a further ten reassuring him till he settled back down, eyes slitted open as he fought to keep consciousness. Not five minutes later he was sound asleep again and Shouta couldn't remove himself from the living room again even if he wanted to. Instead grabbing his sleeping bag and settling into the large comfy single seat beside the couch, able to watch over Izuku and maybe nap between any other bouts of nightmares.
He had another 2 before Shouta had deemed it a reasonable time for coffee, Izuku once more settled soundly. And Shouta had barely slept. Not that it was unusual for him at least.
Just as he finished making his coffee, he began to hear muffled noise from the bedroom, a good indication that Zashi was awake. He normally took Sundays to lay in bed, curled up with Shouta before getting up.
Just as Shouta turned back towards the living room, Hizashi appeared, peeking over the back of the couch down at Izuku for a moment, three cats purring curled along side and on top of him, before glancing at Shouta, raising his hands.
'Nightmares' He managed sign clumsily whilst still holding his mug. Hizashi gave a nod before looking towards the seat Shouta had spent much of his night in, sleeping bag crumpled over it.
'It's still early yet, try get some more rest love.' he finally signed, tugging Shouta closer and pressing a firm kiss to the top of his head, running a hand over the back of his head before smiling softly down at him. Shouta was reminded of just how pretty his husband was, the light glow of the slowly brightening sun backlighting golden strands that fell like silken ribbons and waterfalls, framing sharp features and soft curves and deep red swirling eyes glimmering at him like gems.
Shouta was definitely smitten. Not that he was gonna do anything about it. Except maybe kiss him later. And hug the shit out of him.
Hizashi all but pushes him down into his chair, careful of the coffee in his hands, before disappearing into the kitchen himself. Shouta sighs, allowing himself to relax a little more than he had all night. It was fine. Hizashi was awake and watching over him. Over Izuku. He trusted Hizashi to take care of his problem child should he need it.
So he dozes in and out as the sun slowly warms the room, and low noises can be heard from the kitchen for a while before he blinks as Hizashi settles on the floor beside him with his laptop on the coffee table and his reading glasses on, hair now braided loosely and slung over a shoulder and a small, black hair clip keeping stray hairs from his face.
It's not till a few hours later that Izuku seems to bolt straight up, cats scattering with yowls or hissing and eyes wide and frantic as he searches about for a moment before spotting Shouta and Hizashi watching him cautiously as his suddenly ragged breathing hitches for a moment, stuttering and almost choking him before he sucks in a deep breath, letting it out as he slowly slumps back down to the couch and drops his head into his hands. Placing his now empty mug on the coffee table, Shouta slowly stands before stepping closer, hovering close by as Izuku looks up again, eyes rimmed red and still tired looking.
“I- Sorry Aizawa-Sensei” Is all he whispers before looking back to his hands, sitting up straight again.
“Nothing to be sorry for kid.”
Shouta sits on the coffee table in front of Izuku, within his line of sight but not over crowding him, and he stays silent for a moment, more-so to gather his own thoughts and organise everything he needs to talk about or do first. Before either can speak, Hizashi jumps up with a soft smile and excuses himself, quickly pulling on shoes and a jacket and disappearing out the flat. Shouta knows he's just giving them the space and privacy to talk, to finally get some answers, especially after Shouta had broke down last night after seeing to Izuku and hiding away in their room, the image of him tilting too far over the edge would probably be ingrained into his mind forever, taking its place beside images of Tsu's face moments away from flaking away into spider-cracked dust, beside images of blue fire lighting up a forest full of his students and all those other moments where Shouta was terrified he would loose one of his students and he couldn't do anything about it. But they're here now, and he can do something about this, he will.
“Are you hungry?” He asks him first, watching at Izuku looks at him a little surprised but shakes his head, hand twitching towards his stomach.
“N-no, Aizawa-Sensei. I, um. I feel a little sick, actually.” He slowly tells him, expression and tone all telling Shouta just how his student feels.
“Okay.” He nods, glancing towards the kitchen where he knows Hizashi has left food, ready to be warmed up for Izuku when he's ready.
“How about this then. Let's have some of that talk from last night, and after you try a little something? You could be feeling sick from just not eating enough.” He knows that Izuku probably doesn't feel good from this upcoming talk, he knows how anxiety can fuck with you in the worst ways.
Izuku thinks it over before quietly agreeing, then they're sitting in silence once more. Tiny creeps back onto the couch, bumping her head into Izuku's side before forcing her way onto his lap, circling there for a moment before sitting with a loud, pleased purr, looking more than smug and pleased with herself. She may be a brat but Shouta is thankful for her now as he watches some of the tension seep from Izuku as he slowly runs his fingers through her soft fur.
“Last night, you mentioned something about not being able to tell anyone something. Now, before we go further, I want you to know that whatever it is, I will believe you and help you in any way that I can, and if I cant, I will find the right people who can.” Shouta begins after a deep breath. After his break down and a long night of no sleep, he had ran over their conversation in his head repeatedly and that one thing stuck out and gripped his heart in an icy grip. Whenever a child is told to keep secrets that leads them to rooftops, well, Shouta hopes against all odds. Izuku peeks up at him through dark green curls and offers a small nod.
“Okay. Good. You also don't need to tell me anything you don't want to or feel uncomfortable sharing -”
“I want to tell you.” Izuku interrupts, looking Shouta dead on now, eyes harder than before and lips set in a straight line. Shouta looks over him, making sure he isn't forcing himself but after a moment nods, and settles elbows on top of his knees, hands clasped together.
“Okay. I'll listen to anything you want to tell me.”
Izuku takes in a shaky breath then, looking down at Tiny as she stretches up to place a small kitten lick on his chin before turning her attention to trying to groom him, paw pressing on his arm as she tries clean him. Shouta almost huffs amusedly at the sight, of his problem child being groomed by a cat no bigger than a kitten.
“W-what do you know about, um, Quirkless people?” Izuku eventually asks and it takes him off guard. Shouta had been preparing himself for any number of things to tumble from his students lips, yet the subject of quirklessness had not even been considered. He finds his mind scrambling to remember statistics and news articles and reports. Admittedly, he probably doesn't know as much as he would like on the subject, but he definitely knows more than most his other colleges.
“I know, a little about the quirkless population, mostly statistics and reports though. They're a minority that receives a lot of discrimination and hate over inconsequential reasons.” He watches as Izuku's shoulders slowly begin to shake, arms tightening slightly around Tiny to hold her closer to his body. Another shuddering breath later and Izuku is speaking fast and franticly, and Shouta is thankful for growing up between Hizashi, Oboro, Nem and Tensei – between the four of them he learned how to listen to fast rambling speeches.
“I was d-diagnosed – like, like I had a disease – at um, four years old as um, Quirkless – I have proof if you need it Sensei, I promise – and after that, um, everything kind of changed? M-my dad got angry and e-eventually left and um, m-m-mum became distant. Ss-she still said she loved me, b-but I t-think she b-blames me for everything. Um, all my friends left and Kacchan got mean and it was so l-lonely and then there was the w-worst day of my life and Kacchan had f-finally said it and um, there was the sludge villain and All M-Might was there then I jumped on him and got in trouble and he said um, no and and, then Kacchan was being attacked and I moved without thinking and then everyone was shouting at me and t-telling me off and um, Kacchan said I was u-useless Deku and um, All Might came and said I could and then he trained me and told me to eat the hair and then I was in the exams and all my bones kept breaking and I couldn't tell anyone and I thought mum would be happy now but I cant remember the last time I seen her and I spent a lot of time thinking and I spoke to All Might but then he was shouting at me and telling me I was stupid and I couldn't and and and...”
“Hey hey hey!” Shouta brought his hands up, placating and moving to crouch directly in front of Izuku instead of sitting back.
“Izuku, I need you to breath, okay. With me?” And he leads Izuku into deep breathing until the boy is inhaling and exhaling in a steady rhythm again, blinking at Shouta like a scared bunny once more.
“Okay, so, I might be one of the few people who are able to follow a fast rant like that, but I think you missed out a lot of information. So, how bout this. Would you prefer if I asked you questions or do you wanna try just talking again or we can go get some food now.”
Izuku thinks it over before slowly shaking his head.
“C-can you a-ask questions please? I-I don't...”
“Hey, that's okay. If I ask something you don't want to answer then just say pass okay?” Shouta gives Tiny a glance, seeing the cat happily plastered to Izuku's chest before running through the fast paced rant that was just thrown at him.
“Okay so. First, you were told you were quirkless at four?” And Izuku shakes his head.
“No, I mean, yes, I was, but I am.” He stresses and Shouta doesn't understand. This child with a quirk that can shatter him to pieces, can destroy cities if he so wanted to, is telling him he's quirkless. The confusion must somewhat show through as Izuku lets out a huff.
“I have the extra pinky toe joint. I have an appendix and tonsils, I have wisdom teeth as well as baby and adult teeth. I have a tail bone, get goosebumps and my hair stands on end. My entire body is that of someone from pre-quirk times.” He spews out quickly like Shouta might stop him and tell him he's being stupid, all the while trying to wrestle a sock off before just looking down at his bare foot. Shouta watches as he blows out at breath before also looking down, eyes scanning over a wide foot covered in freckles, being drawn to the pinky toe that has scarring and is longer than it should be, notched like there is...an extra joint.
“My full medical file has everything wrong with me in it.” Izuku whispers as Shouta looks back up at him
“My body isn't designed to hold a super power. It's why I broke myself a lot at the start.” he continues whispering, eyes still trained on his foot.
“All I ever wanted was to be a hero. T-to save everyone w-with a smile.” He chuckles forlornly, lost almost.
“Even All Might told me I couldn't without a quirk. T-thats why...” And he trails off, tears starting to roll down his face once more and Shouta had the brief, pleading thought of 'Please don't tell me you went to all for one, please, don't have gone to the boogie-man'
“T-thats why All Might gave me his.” he finally looks up, wrecked and scared and lost. Once more, Shouta doesn't understand but Izuku continues before he can ask.
“All Might's quirk, it's not a normal quirk. I-It's called One For All. It's like a sister quirk to All For Ones. It originally belonged to All For Ones brother. A-and its stockpiling that can be given to another person. S-so this quirk gets handed to a new successor once the previous user needs to, and I, I-I'm the ninth. All Might was the Eighth user.” He takes a breath afterwards, like finally releasing a huge weight. And Shouta couldn't even blame him. The knowledge of this was wildly alarming and huge, looming. He suddenly understood a lot more things now. A lot more made sense just with that small – massive – revelation alone.
His school file for one, if he was seen as quirkless until recently then of course his file would rival Shinsou's. Shinsou who, even if perceived villainous, still had a quirk and his file was riddled with faux information and discrimination. It would explain more about his and Bakugous relationship at the very start – and something in his gut twists at the realisation that they weren't rivals then – and the subsequent fighting and issues, it would explain the little control over a too powerful quirk, his behaviour showing so many markers of an abused child and his worryingly low self esteem and worth. If you've been told all your life that your worth nothing, then it makes sense to sacrifice yourself to save others after all. He can see the exact thought processes that would lead there, he understands it a little. There was still a lot to unpack, this was just the cliff notes he realised with dread.
“Okay.” He breathed out, nodding.
“Would you be willing to tell me the full story Izuku?”
“W-what...Y-you believe me?” he whispered out, eyes wide and wet and unbelieving, almost like he truly thought Shouta would laugh in his face and commit him to a mental ward and he feels his chest aching at the thought that he really thought so.
“Yes. I believe you.” Finally, with another shaky inhale, Izuku begins to tell him everything. From his trip to the doctors office at 4 and being told to give up, to his father getting angry before leaving – something that he hastily skips over that Shouta notes to come back to later – to his mother slowly resenting him more and more, making sure to emphasise how his mother would never lift a hand to him, never hurt him. Shouta wants to cry as he realises that Izuku doesn't think he's being abused in other ways, as he promises that he loves his mum, that shes just struggling.
Izuku talks about how school was after everyone turned on him, how he had to learn to be fast, to hide his skills and intelligence – which, Shouta knows he's coming back to that one later, he suspects that Izuku may still be doing that even now – how lonely it was to patch himself up every day, how the few times he needed emergency medical treatment he was turned away from the hospitals for being quirkless until he eventually found a small clinic that would take him in but they could barely afford to treat him properly, with no funding and running off donations.
How the events with the sludge villain really went down – and Shouta is furious at All Might, that first incident was never recorded and from Izuku skimming over it, it sounds like he never received medical attention or had a statement taken – how he had asked All Might if he could be a hero atop a roof. How his dreams had shattered at his feet as he was left alone, staring out over the edge.
He listens as Izuku hesitates, before whispering that he considered taking everyone's advice, stepping over the edge and be done with it before he heard the explosions in the distance and before Shouta can blink, Izuku is hurrying onto the events of the documented sludge villain attack on Bakugou, how he had moved without thinking to save his abuser. Again Shouta has to stamp down his ire as he remembers reading the report – no where did it mention that Izuku had been the one to save Bakugou, the report had just ended abruptly with All Might coming in which had confused him as Hizashi had mentioned there was two kids involved but not in the report. Izuku moves onto talking about how All Might had sought him out, to offer him power before spending the remaining ten months training him until the day of the exams, where he explained that to get the quirk he had to ingest All Mights DNA so he had eaten a hair and rushed off to the exam, no mentioning of how Izuku should use said quirk – though Shouta is not surprised. He remembers watching Izuku's exam.
He talks about how he struggled to contain this power, how All Might just told him some flimsy metaphors to help and left him to it. How his internship with Gran Torino helped him gain control more before the incident with Stain.
How fighting against Shinsou at the sports festival had really hit so close to home for him but he couldn't speak about it, how he struggled to keep this burden to himself. He tells Shouta almost everything – almost cause Shouta is convinced he skips things and leaves out information that he would rather know, like about his parents or All Mights supposed training. But for now this is enough, Izuku has spilt things that have been building within him for a long time and its taken a visible toll on him, and he can see as Izuku sags back into the couch once more, eyes drooping exhausted once more.
“Thank you for telling me all that. How about we get some food now, okay kid?” And Izuku just silently nods as Shouta gets up and makes quick work heating the bowl of food before giving it to Izuku, watching as he slowly eats.
“Izuku, can Hizashi know? I think it would be good if you had some extra lessons with him. He specialises in powerful quirks, and I know you have more control now than before but he can still help you more.” And he watches as Izuku blinks at him, like his brain is rebooting before a worried look crosses his face.
“W-would he tell anyone else? I-, All Might wont be happy that I told you?” And that flair of molten hot anger flashes through his veins.
“Let me deal with All Might, okay? If you don't want anyone else to know, then that is your choice and I'll keep my mouth shut, okay? And Hizashi would do the same if he knew.” And after a moment, Izuku nods, glancing around.
“Erm. C-can you, um, speak to him, please? Y-Yamada-Sensei I mean?” And Shouta cant help the soft smile he gives Izuku as he agrees.
“Of course. I would also like you to think about letting me get you some therapy appointments. The choice is yours and it would all be on your terms. But I would also like to get you some quirk counselling appointments too.”
Izuku stares at him with wide eyes.
“Hey, it's okay, I don't need an answer now, just, think on it okay. For now, all you have to do is finish eating, then maybe go for another nap. Or you can watch the TV or what ever you like. You're welcome to stay here as long as you need. And if you need to come back at any point send me a message and I'll let you in the back okay? This can be your safe space if you want it.” He lets his fingers run through forest curls as Izuku hunches forward into him and sobs, nodding his head, his free hand grabbing the bowl to place to the side out the way whilst Tiny scrambles out of the way.
And that's how they sit for a long time, even after Izuku's tears have run dry, he refuses to let go, and Shouta finds he doesn't mind so much.
Eventually, the silence is broken by a hoarse whisper, croaking and breaking.
“Aizawa-sensei? Do, do you think I could have done it? Could I have become a hero without a quirk?”
Shouta lets his arms tighten around his problem child a fraction as he shifts to look down at him.
“Yes, Izuku. I fully believe you would have wormed your way into my class somehow. Tooth and claws and all cause your my problem child and I don't think anything would change that.”
At that Izuku huffs out a wet laugh.
“But seriously. Izuku, I think, it would have been hard, and you would face more discrimination than everyone else, more criticism and hurdles and people and things that would try to stop you. But I think if you worked as hard at it as you do everything else, put in that effort, you would have made it.” And Izuku is crying into him once more, not the same crying as before but deep, gut wrenching and shuddering, like letting out the puss from a festering wound, he was letting out the years of internalised negativity, of the hate and neglect and abuse. And Shouta just held him through it until he eventually slumped into Shouta's lap, fast asleep.
With a sigh, he scoops him up and tucks him back into the couch with the blanket, huffing as within moments Tiny is back and curled up over him and Haggis is clambering up the side to stretch along side him. He's not sure where his third brat is – Toby, a large tabby cat that wasn't the fondest of people – but he knows these two should keep his kid calm and cosy. He has things to do now.
A few hours pass peacefully, Shouta gets a few emails written out and sent to the appropriate people, Nedzu's is a particularly long one with a lot of passive aggressive language. He debated making it a bit nicer before deciding fuck it, he already knows Shouta, he was his mentor after all, and sends it that way. Let the Rat know that he's pissed as all hell. He also sends Tsukauchi a message about wanting to start a discrete investigation into Midoriya's home life – and to expect more from Nedzu about his previous schools too – before emailing All Might telling him that they would be having a mandatory meeting on Monday afternoon and to not be late. That conversation deserved to be in person and the only reason he isn't hunting Yagi down like the sickly gazelle he is, is because Izuku is still here and he is Shouta's priority, and Shouta should probably calm down a little before that conversation. He sends Hizashi a text to let him know its okay to come back and that he would talk to him later about everything – Hizashi replied that he would still be a while, he was caught up in something with Jiro and Kaminari that Shouta really didn't wanna find out about.
He's still concerned. Izuku never exactly explained what lead him up to the roof – though everything so far would certainly be enough to lead anyone up there – his instincts are telling him there's more to it, that Izuku had ran out of steam before finishing up his story. But it's fine. He can speak to him more later or maybe another day, for now Shouta was content to have the start of this giant clusterfuck of tangled threads tucked into his hands, ready for him to start picking at it and pulling it apart, to loosen knots and free his student who is being crushed in the centre of it all.
He pulls the file he had been originally intending to go through that weekend – though he knows now, he still wants to study it, see exactly what was in here – and settles at the table in the kitchen, the door open so he could still see the back of the couch and listen out, before opening the monster that was Midoriya Izuku's school file. First thing his eye is drawn to is the small picture clipped in at the front, a small picture of Izuku in a middle school gakuran, hair shorter but more of a mess of curls. His eyes were wide and glassy, even in photo form, lips stretched into a tight, weak smile, the millions of freckles visible as well as some worrying looking scarring across his face and neck, red raw and angry looking – the same ones that looked healed now and he kept hidden beneath make up and clothes that he finally spotted last night. He looked a lot smaller, thinner in the way that malnourishment ate at ones own body when it had nothing else to take from.
Giving the photo one last look over he moves on, the first page full of basic information, name, age, home address, quirk...
The section for the quirk status was filled with black bold capitals. 'QUIRKLESS' There was a section underneath, added more recently he guesses with smaller block lettering like most forms printed in. 'Superpower.' Shouta wants to scoff at the name. If he didn't know Izuku or Yagi he would think Izuku thought up the name, however he does know them. And Yagi was an idiot. But the fact that if you were quirkless, it was printed differently on forms, most likely to gain attention and fast, bothered him. But that was for another time. He skimmed through the information until he got to the emergency contact details. Yagi was listed as his first contact, then one Midoriya Inko. Shouta had never met her personally but Hizashi and Yagi had said similar things about her. A short kind woman who Izuku takes after greatly, cries a lot and worries more.
Yet Izuku's description painted a greater picture, a more filled out one. One that Shouta liked less and less the more he saw.
Moving onto previous schooling reports, he gets stuck in, making sure to read carefully over every incident that had been noted down, from starting fights, drinking, drugs and cheating on tests to harassing and disrupting classes and attacking teachers. There was even a note that he had once tried to seduce a teacher for better grades and Shouta had to pause at that one, closing his eyes and concentrate on his breathing and counting to ten. It was almost the same as Shinsous, except less reports of quirk use to gain his own way and just blatant sabotage, they didn't even try to hide that – most of the reports that were supposed to accompany each incident only detailed what Izuku had supposedly done and nothing else. Not the other people or students involved, not any evidence or accompanying statements, not even Izuku's. Just what he had done and the proposed punishments.
That's how Hizashi found him, nose buried in files and reports with a locked jaw and furious eyes, fighting to keep his quirk from activating in his rage.
“Sho? Love?” He blinked as he looked up at Hizashi standing in front of the table, concerned eyes watching him closely.
“Sorry Zashi. Just, reading though the kids files.” Rubbing a hand harshly over his face with a groan, he leans back in his chair, feeling as Hizashi steps close and begins to run long, gentle fingers though his thick and tangled hair, hands always a touch on the cooler side and soothing, leaning over to peer down at the papers now spread across the table.
“Is this Shinsou's again? Thought you went through them all already?”
“This is Izuku's.” At that, the gentle brushing of his hair pauses, hands retracting as Hizashi steps beside him and grabbing a few of the reports, inspecting them more closely, face screwing up the more he read over.
“I, Sho, are you pulling my leg here? Do these people even know the baby turtle!?”
Shouta blinks up at his husband.
“Well, yeh! He's small and green and adorable and shy like a baby turtle!”
“Doesn't turtles stand for luck and longevity?” Hizashi hums before side eyeing him.
“And wisdom and protection. Pretty fitting for him, no?”
“Turtles aren't really green, you know.” Hizashi lets out a childish whine at that before turning back to the papers surrounding them.
“This is a lot. If this is his file, how did he get passed the system for heroics? Even if its all false, the system should have automatically rejected his application on this alone?”
“I don't know for sure but I have a few ideas about how he got passed. It's to do with what I need to speak to you about later.” At that Shouta looks back into the living room, Toby now visible and lounging along the back of the couch.
“He's still asleep.” Hizashi offers, placing the papers down before dragging a seat over.
“Probably wont be for much longer, he's been out for about two hours now.”
“Poor thing must be exhausted. He looks really ill Sho, should we call Chiyo for him?” He glances back towards the living room.
“Not yet. We'll make sure he gets enough rest and food over the next few days and go from there. If anything comes up I'll take him myself. He'll probably refuse unless I drag him.” He lets his head thud down against the wooden table, the throb adding to his already pulsing headache.
“Are you going to speak to Nedzu?”
“Already emailed the bastard.” He grumbles out before sitting up straight again. Coffee. He needs coffee.
As he's half way through making coffee for both him and Hizashi, noise from the living room lets him know that Izuku is finally awake, glancing over his shoulder to see him sitting up and rubbing slowly at his eyes. Hizashi glances over too before getting up and grabbing a glass and filling it with some fresh water and leaving to sit beside him, offering the glass. Shouta leaves him to it for now, finishing off the Coffees before he too joins them in the living room, sitting back in the single seat after handing Hizashi his mug, watching as Izuku sips at the water quietly. Toby had a single blue eye open, tail swaying slowly as he watched over his domain like a lazy King. Tiny had wriggled her way back onto Izuku's lap, soaking up all the attention and Haggis seemed to be huffing between Izuku and Hizashi but also refusing to move. Izuku glanced between them for a moment, face contemplative before looking towards Shouta again.
“Um, Aizawa-Sensei, I erm. I forgot to tell you some stuff earlier.” Hizashi looks between them for a moment, moving to stand before Izuku is shaking his head with wide eyes.
“N-no, wait. I, um, you c-can stay, i-if you want, Yamada-Sensei!”
And Zashi, his beautiful, smart, cleaver husband, turns back to Izuku with a soft smile, crouching a little to look at him directly.
“It's alright little listener. I get it. I can speak to Sho about it all later. I need to get some stuff done anyway and I don't mind. We just want you to be comfortable, alright?” And Shouta thinks Izuku might cry once more, eyes tearing up quickly but no drops fall, lip barely trembling as he nods with a careful breath.
“Y-yeh. O-okay. Thank you, Y-Yamada-Sensei.”
“Just Yamada when we aren't in school, yeh?” And with a final nod from Izuku, Hizashi stands and leaves, barely pausing to drop a brief kiss atop his head on the way past and the gentle click of the kitchen door sealing him and Izuku off once more, like their own little bubble to exist in.
“So, you wanted to finish your story?” He decides to prompt after watching Izuku almost painfully twist his fingers together. As the boy looks up at him startled, Shouta stands, moving to sit by him and slowly reaching a hand out to stop him, pulling his hands apart.
“You'll hurt yourself.” Is all he mumbles as he feels Izuku's eyes on him.
“Um, sorry.” With the shake of his head he peeks back at Shouta.
“Uh, You mentioned at the end of our first year that we would be choosing some elective classes depending on what type of hero we wanted to be, if we wanted to specialise in anything, like how Tsu wants to be a coast guard hero like Seilkie, or how Uraraka wants to be a rescue hero. Or how, um, Shinsou wants to b-be an um, underground hero...”
“Yes, we will be introducing these things next month.” Shouta confirms, patiently waiting to hear how this all leads back to Izuku on the roof.
“Lately I've been, um, thinking. I um, I wanted to take the Underground classes. So I um, spoke to All Might, to l-let him know. B-but he, um. He said no.”
And as surprised as he is by Izuku's desire to go underground, its quickly pushed aside for the irritation brought on by the blond buffoon.
“He can't make those decisions for you, you know?” He asks, watching as Izuku gives him a bewildered look.
“Izuku, you can take what ever path you want, be the kind of hero you want to be. Yes, he may have given you some quirk jacked up on steroids but he gave it to you. The moment you took it, the moment it settled into you, it became yours. Yours to make decisions with. From then it became your secret to either keep or share. Your quirk to use how you like, within the confines of the law of course. And your quirk to decide what kind of hero you want to be.”
And Izuku is shaking his head, blinking away tears.
“A-All Might s-said I had to be the next symbol, that I had to stand at the top like him. He said that I couldn't afford to disappoint him, to show him that he had made the right choice!” He babbles out quickly, words frantic with an edge or hysteria there.
“Hey, shh, its okay, remember to breath Izuku.” He squeezes the hand still in his, trying to ground and keep him present. And after a few moments, some deep breaths, Izuku has calmed a little again.
“So, lets get this straight. You told Yagi – All Might – your wish to take specialised classes, something that you are entitled to, and he told you no because of his what? His ideals? His image of what a hero should be? Let me be clear, Izuku.” Here he tilts his head to look Izuku straight in the eye, to help convey exactly what he wants to say.
“All Might is wrong. His Ideal of Heroics is to go it alone until you drop with fatal, life debilitating injuries or dead. That is not what makes a good hero. Yes, he may be the symbol but he got there through sheer power and some blind charisma. Yes, he is smart when it comes to fighting and battles, but he is not the be all, end all of heroics. Most heroes require working together and co-operation. To use more skills and tactics than just punching blindly. You yourself use that brain of yours more often before running in blind. You plan and you assess. I personally think you would do well in underground heroics but I would be remiss if I didn't warn you, there's little fame or recognition or thanks, not like there would be if you decided on a limelight career. I don't have any doubts you'd make it far in the rankings after all, you have the charm and the flashy quirk that usually works in favour of top heroes.”
“I erm. I don't really like attention being on me very much. And um. I don't care about being thanked or getting money or recognition or any of that. I just. I just want to be able to save people. And I can save those who need it the most if I go underground. I can help those in the same or similar positions I've been in, that Shinsou or Eri have been in. I can do more good there than just showing up to the big fights in crowded areas. I still would do that too, but I want to be able to go where I can do the most good.” Shouta nods. He does have the skills to make a good underground hero, he cant deny that, especially after last years hide and seek incident – something that gives Shouta a headache just thinking about – and he definitely has the intelligence to boot.
“Okay so, it's still early yet, but I'll make a note of what you want. Come speak to me after the lesson next month so we can get it sorted properly on papers.”
“B-but what if, umm...” He takes a moment to gather courage
“W-what if um, All Might changes it before it can be submitted or puts in other classes before anything else happens?” Shouta can feel his brow furrow as something in him squirms uncomfortably.
“Yagi is not permitted to submit nor approve nor deny these second year classes, only the students direct home room teachers can, or Nedzu if he has good reason. Same as with the internships after the sports festival.” And he feels his confusion grow as Izuku's breathing hitches and he shakes his head.
“B-but All Might messed with my internships before!” He explains desperately,
“I found out later that several Heroes tried to submit requests for me but they were rejected and the only one that got through was Gran Torino. And, I am grateful, thankful for all of Gran Torino's help, he helped me use this quirk without breaking myself, but, if he could do it then, what's to stop him from doing it now!” And the frantic desperation in his tone, in his body language has Shouta beyond furious again.
How fucking he.
How. Fucking. Dare. Yagi. Just how much had Yagi interfered with Izuku's choices, taking away his options.
Oh. Just how much of a choice was it that Izuku ended up with Sir Nighteye for his work studies? The only hero who was ever All Mights sidekick? Those weeks, months of Izuku looking exhausted and empty, like something was draining him. Was there other things he had interfered with? Shouta didn't know, but he sure as hell was going to find out.
“Okay. This week I'll get the forms and we'll sit down and talk and fill yours out early and I'll take them to Nedzu myself. I'll make sure you get what classes you actually want, okay? Leave Yagi to me.” And the slight flinch at his dark tone broke through the thoughts of strangling the retired number one heroes neck, eyes swiftly landing back on a wide eyed Izuku. Taking a moment to breathe and calm down, he pats Izuku's hand before letting go and standing.
“I think that's enough for now. Lets get some more food into you.” He holds his hand out, waiting for Izuku to nod before running fingers through the fluffy curls, relishing in the slight push back as Izuku leaned into him, tension draining away and eyes dropping shut. Cute. Like a bunny.
“W-wait, Aizawa-Sensei? Does um, does Yamada-Sen- I mean, Yamada know yet?” Shouta shakes his head.
“Not yet, I'll be speaking to him about it tonight and we'll work out a schedule for you to fit in some lessons. I'll keep your weekends free in case you want to go -”
“No!” Izuku quickly slaps a hand over his mouth.
“You don't want to go home?” Shouta asks, sure that he wont like the answer to this one.
“W-well, its um, not like I don't? But um. I'd prefer to um, stay here, and um, having a reason would, uh, help?” He questions quietly and Shouta knows that one of the many things he needs to tackle has just been bumped up that list. Hopefully Tsukauchi gets back to him quickly. Maybe they can organise Shouta doing a home visit for some odd reason or another. So with a nod, he promises to think up something for him and he leads Izuku to the kitchen, where Hizashi is humming along quietly with headphones on and laptop open. He glances up at them with a smile, pulling headphones off and tapping a few key quickly on his laptop.
“Ready for some food?”
As Hizashi fussed and mother henned Izuku, making sure he had enough food and something to drink or was warm enough and chatting quietly and softly with him, Shouta thought over the past twenty-four hours. Of the roller-coaster of emotions he had been dragged through, the bone rattling fear, heart-shattering agony and volcanic fury amongst some of the strongest thrumming through his veins. Though now he felt, content, watching as Izuku hesitantly smiled, real despite how small it was and Shouta realised abruptly that this tiny, wobbly smile was more genuine than anything Shouta had seen recently, maybe with the exception of the secret smiles he shares with Eri whenever the girl clings to him. Something in him was temporarily soothed as he watched Izuku fully relax, his guard lowering. He had placed trust in them and he knew that both him and Hizashi would guard that fiercely. He could see, even as they sat and talked and ate, how Hizashi was mentally placing Izuku amongst his little group of people he would forever see as his, in a way. Like chosen family.
How was he to know then and there that that moment set off a chain of events, that the small discrete investigation into Midoriya Inko would lead to the discovery of neglect, emotional and mental abuse, how Izuku would be made a ward of UA then not even a month later, Hizashi showing him the papers for adoption with begging eyes, how Shouta wouldn't even need to think for a second before nodding. How Izuku had sobbed when they asked him if it was what he wanted, thanking them over and over, promising he would be good, would behave and how they could truly start helping Izuku to heal from that mentality, to help him grow and learn and be loved.
How was he to know that Nedzu would go on his equivalent of a killing spree, all but decimating most of the Aldera school district for discrimination, abuse of power, forgery and many other things, so many supposed teachers facing prosecutions, licences removed at best and jail time at worst.
Or how Nedzu would steal Izuku on Monday and give him an extensive test to find out exactly what he was capable of – which Shouta wanted to cry at, Izuku should be working at university level for 4 out of 8 subjects, and was excused from English entirely, completely fluent apparently.
That his meeting with Yagi would tell him exactly how he trained Izuku, pushing him and pressuring and manipulating him into where he wanted Izuku to go, admitting that he had paid someone to fix Izuku's internship offers so that he would have no choice but to go to Gran Torino, that he had organised him going to Sir Nighteye – a discussion with Izuku later told him how Nighteye had truly treated him, how the only reason he had taken Izuku on was to berate him and try to pressure him into passing his quirk onto Mirio even though Izuku later admitted he had asked Mirio and he had declined anyway. He had tried to argue with Shouta that Izuku no longer had a choice in his future, that accepting One For All meant that he had to become the next symbol, and how close Shouta had came to defenestrating the retired hero that day – Nedzu had reduced Yagi's responsibilities with the students and his authority within the school was lowered, he was required to actually test to get his teaching licence before taking over any classes without supervision now – something Shouta knew would take Yagi at least 4 years.
How was Shouta to know that when he started giving Shinsou and Izuku their own private underground classes that the two would get closer than ever and Shouta actually had to consider giving Shinsou a fucking shovel talk – after watching the lanky teen shamelessly flirt and tease his newly adopted son as he turned strawberry red and got flustered beyond belief, he decided to just wash his hands of it and direct Hizashi at him, he was the scarier one of them anyway .
How was he to know just how fucking proud of Izuku he would be the day he graduated – all eight fucking quirks manifested and trained – with his hero licence with a special holographic logo that appears only on Underground heroes cards, smile large and bright and toothy, no longer hiding behind make-up and too large clothing, proudly showing off freckles and scars and beauty marks, dressing how he wanted rather than how his mother demanded.
How he had to stamp down the urge to wrap Shinsou in his scarf and drag him away as he very publicly wrapped an arm around Izuku's waist, watching as red quickly tinted his tan, full cheeks before he was being dipped low and kissed to the cheering and jibes of his year mates. How he would have to calm Hizashi when Shinsou asked for their blessings to propose to Izuku and much much more.
No Shouta had no idea what was in store for him then. But he knew that no matter what, he would never regret listening or believing in Izuku.