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The Erasure of Eraserhead

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“I’m home!”

Shouta distantly listened to the apartment door open and close noisily, a loud and unnecessary entrance befitting the voice hero he called his roommate, as he surveyed the stack of papers and folders on the lap desk before him. The folders contained the profiles and school records of the 20 new students of Class 1-A while the papers contained the results of Shouta’s infamous first day Quirk Assessment, but they were all mixed in an organized mess.

On top of it all was a small, plain black pocket book that looked like it had seen better days. The pitiful thing was so bent it looked like it was barely being held together as Shouta wrestled to keep its yellowing pages pinned to the table so he could continue to fill its pages with his cramped, messy and practically illegible handwriting.

The process of compiling information and physically writing it into the pocket book always helped Shouta to commit new names, faces and information to memory while creating a convenient point of reference, even if he rarely needed it. But it was critical to his yearly first-day-of-school routine since he started teaching and Shouta did not appreciate being distracted, something Hizashi should have been well aware of after years of teaching together.

“I said: I’m home!!!”

“Welcome back,” Shouta replied appeasingly, finishing the last of his notes on Momo Yaoyorozu as the couch dipped beside him. There’s not a second of hesitation as Hizashi leaned against him, reading the information over Shouta’s shoulder in his typical nosy fashion.

“You’re heavy.” He grumbled at the sudden and unwelcome weight, but made no move to actually push Hizashi off. “I don’t know why you insist on me verbally welcoming you home. It’s your apartment too. Why wouldn’t you be welcome in it?”

“It’s polite and I like it!” Shouta didn’t have to look at Hizashi’s face to know he was pouting, nimble fingers tugging the paper out from under his pocket book before Shouta could stop him. “Is this your class roster? Ooh, this year’s harvest looks promising. An Iida, Todoroki and a Yaoyorozu in your class? Talk about setting the bar high!” He gasped. “Wait, not a single face is scribbled out. You didn't expel any! Holy crap Shouta, are you feeling okay?!”

Shouta felt a hand slip under his bangs and grunted. “None of them had zero potential.” He said evenly, lest Hizashi try to read too deeply into his tone or expression. “We’ll see if that changes in the next few weeks. Some of them are on very thin ice.”

“Aww.” Who was he kidding, this was Hizashi. He was going to say whatever he damn well pleased. “You like your class this year. Careful, you'll lose your scary reputation if you go soft!” Shouta pointedly did not respond as Hizashi poked his cheek. “So which ones are the ice skaters?”

Shouta hesitated before deciding he might as well humor him, given that Class 1-A would become his students too. He tapped the first face with his pen.

“Izuku Midoriya: an obvious problem child. Quirk: strength enhancement. His quirk mysteriously manifested shortly before enrolling at UA, which explains his disastrous performance during the practical exam- zero points, two broken legs and one broken arm. He managed to limit the damage by only breaking his finger during my Quirk Assessment when I threatened to expel him, but I still have my reservations about such an incredibly self-destructive quirk. If he doesn’t prove himself to not be a danger to himself or others, he’s going to be the first to go.”

Hizashi hummed, unphased by Shouta’s blunt and harsh analysis. “You know, sometimes when you talk about your students you sound like a mom. Like, a long suffering wine mom who's tired of yelling at her kids over the same things and is  this close to sending her rowdy kids to military camp.”

“Some of these kids would benefit from military camp.” Shouta didn't miss a beat, tapping his pen on the next student. “Tooru Hagakure, Quirk: invisibility. Has yet to show me what she's capable of beyond being invisible.” Tap. “Minoru Mineta, Quirk: pop-off. His quirk is versatile and with a lot of potential, which he's already demonstrated in creative and dynamic ways- but he's extremely annoying and a shameless pervert.” Tap. Tap. “Katsuki Bakugou: problem child two. Quirk: explosion. He has a powerful quirk and he’s fully aware of it, but he has one of the worst egos I've ever seen. Also seems to despise Midoriya and tried to attack him during the Quirk Assessment, hinting at some bad blood between them, so we'll need to keep an eye on that.”

Shouta sighed as he sunk back into the couch cushions, successfully dislodging Hizashi from his shoulder. “The class overall is full of young and reckless first years with a lot of room for improvement, but these four are my biggest concerns. For now.”

Hizashi laughed, tone incredulous. “Your standards are ridiculous. How anyone passes your class is beyond me.”

“They need to know what they’re getting themselves into.” Shouta replied, unapologetic. “I’m not going to go easy on them just because they’re first years. I’ve got three years to mold these students into proper heroes and I’m not going to waste a second of it, especially not on students who aren’t going to take my class seriously.”

“No one doubts your tough love teaching style, bro. If anything, you're just making me all the more approachable and my class that much more fun!” Hizashi waved him off, stealing the sheet with the results of the Quirk Assessment. Shouta watched him do a double take out of the corner of his eye. “Wha- It was one test and literally the first day of school, how did you get enough information to start breaking down their quirks and personalities like this?!”

“I've been doing this a long time.” Shouta replied easily, crumpling the discarded roster before tossing it at Hizashi. “Here. Burn this. I need to start figuring out how to address these weaknesses.”

“You're a workaholic mom.” Hizashi sighed, the couch shifting as he obediently got up. “Do you hear me? Single, overworked Shouta momzawa .” Shouta heard him disappear into the kitchen. “I'm making chowhan for dinner!”

Shouta was tempted to point out the hypocrisy of being called a workaholic when Hizashi proudly juggled three careers but remained quiet, busying himself rereading the notes in his pocket book a few more times to commit the information to his memory.

“Shouta, there's no room in the fridge with all your juice packets! Why do you always go on crazy juice pack buying sprees knowing how tiny our fridge is! Would it kill you to take them out of the box and put them in the fridge drawer, at least? I-” Hizashi cut off his own rant with a gasp of realization. “Oh my god, this is your coping mechanism. You really are a wine mom.”

Shouta sighed deeply. “They were on sale, why wouldn’t I buy them in bulk? And they’re not a coping mechanism, they’re efficient. In the time it takes you to cook chowhan and eat it, I’ll have consumed enough calories and nutrients in two juice packets and come up with lesson plans for Friday’s USJ Simulation, all without even putting down my pen because you don’t need to hold a juice pack to eat it.”

“Don’t you dare! You’re going to eat my delicious chowhan and stop abusing your body with junk.” Hizashi poked his head out of the kitchen to glare at him. “Your laziness and terrible eating habits are going to be the death of us both, Shouta. One day someone’s going to walk into our apartment and find your sad, malnutritioned body surrounded by empty juice packs and my body right next to yours, dead from a heart attack. Or sadness. The point is we both die drowning in juice packets.”

“You’re so dramatic.” Shouta huffed with a slight smile, lapsing into a comfortable silence broken by the sounds of Hizashi cooking and the music from his own radio station.    


---
 

It didn’t surprise Shouta in the slightest a few days later when Hizashi requested they head to school early so he could catch up on grading, content to humor him and take a nap in the staff room before classes started.

At least, that was the plan had he not been stuck fending off the media mob hellbent on harassing his students for interviews. While generally complacent, several days of failing to receive a comment or interview from All Might was starting to make them restless and angry, which the media was more than happy to take out on the rest of UA’s students and faculty.

He sighed as one of them activated UA’s barrier behind him, feeling a brief pang of pity for All Might before remembering his flashy popularity was the reason for the media presence in the first place. It figures everyone would be stuck dealing with his mess when the pro wasn’t even around.

Shouta spotted Hizashi frowning at his phone and fidgeting unhappily, concluding he hadn’t even entered the building yet. Like any good friend, Shouta pointedly bumped him with his shoulder as he walked by. “Move it. Your grading isn’t going to do itself.”     

Hizashi jumped, wide eyes focusing on Shouta in panic until he realized who it was. “Whoa, Shouta! You surprised me! Haha. Ha. Yep, I’m on my way to the staff room now! Just, uh, waiting for an important text from the station, you know- oh! There we go! Huh?! Gotta meet him outside the gate!? Why?! Great, now I gotta push past the media...”

“I thought you told them not to bother you during school hours.” Shouta quirked an eyebrow, which Hizashi nervously laughed off.

“I did! It's an emergency, I guess! One they really don't need me for, but! Duty calls! Apparently!” Hizashi spoke faster and his hand gestures became more elaborate, a telltale sign he was starting to ramble as Shouta continued staring at him.

“Just don't fall behind in your teaching duties.” Shouta sidestepped him as he made his way to the staff room, determined to get his nap in before class. Whatever work trouble Hizashi was having, he had no doubt he would find a way to resolve it sooner or later.

A few hours later found him standing in the exact same spot, feeling twice as tired and frustrated than he did that morning as he faced down the restless, angry and now trespassing media mob. In the reigning chaos of blaring alarms and panicked students, teachers were sent to round up students and search every corner of UA for further trespassers as Hizashi and Shouta were delegated to fending off the press until the police arrived.

A feat easier said than done.

“Present Mic, please let us get an interview from All Might! That’s all we want!”

Shouta didn’t mind that he was ignored in favor of Hizashi, his underground status coming in handy once again, but he very much minded the press that tried to push past him to do so. Even Hizashi, a media veteran who thrived on attention and publicity, seemed to be at his wits end.

“What part of ‘it’s his day off, he’s not here’ do you not understand?!” Hizashi snapped, though one hard look from Shouta had him biting his tongue from outright insulting them, as he so very obviously wanted to do.

“Fine, then give us a statement about him! Just one!”

“You don’t get to trespass onto school grounds and make demands.” Shouta narrowed his eyes. “Besides, no matter what we say you’re going to want more. That’s the very nature of the press. Now I highly recommend you leave before you get fined and arrested.”  

The press erupted with protests as Hizashi leaned towards him, a hand drumming on his speaker and a scowl on his face. “If they’re trespassing, they’re villains. Can’t we get rid of them ourselves?”

“Keep it together, Mic.” Shouta gave him a look, the threat of violence to the press very out of character. “You have a reputation to uphold. We just need to hold out until the police get here. What’s gotten into you?”   

Hizashi looked like he had been slapped, voice subdued as he recoiled. “Right. You’re right. Sorry, I’m just...stressed.”

Shouta kept an eye on him as reporters kept shoving microphones in their faces, satisfied to see Hizashi’s strange aggression disappear into forced professionalism, even if Hizashi was pointedly avoiding looking back at him. Shouta waited a moment before leaning over to whisper. “...Was it that bad?”

“This looks pretty bad, man.”

“The emergency you had to deal with this morning. The one with your radio station?” Shouta reminded, giving Hizashi a strange look as he started laughing nervously again.

“Oh, yeah! Nah, it wasn’t that big of a deal. I mean it was, but I don’t know why they needed me? Somebody, just uh- broke into the station and messed with the equipment. Took some important files.” Hizashi sighed irritably. “Honestly! They’re more than capable of dealing with it themselves. Coming to harass me at work, the nerve...” He muttered under his breath, something Shouta wasn’t entirely sure he was supposed to hear. What a strange way to talk about his own station.

“It's your radio station.” Shouta pointed out, voicing his confusion. “Of course they'd want to contact you directly if someone broke into the station.” He paused, noting the way Hizashi tensed up and went silent. Shouta sighed, this time diverting his own gaze as he considered his next words carefully.

“I don't know how much help I can be with the situation at your station,” Shouta spoke slowly. “but if you need help with grading or paperwork you owe your agency, I can help you until you sort everything out- as long as you don't make a habit out of it." 

When he looked back at Hizashi, his eyes were suspiciously watery and his grin particularly wide. “I don't know what I did to deserve a bestie like you, Shouta.” He sniffled, genuinely touched. “That would be great! Thanks!”

“Don't start crying.”

“I make no promises!”

“Anyway, maybe it was one of the press,” Shouta raised his voice. With Hizashi and Shouta blatantly ignoring them, the press took to filming the inside of the school and spinning their own stories in an exclusive look into UA. “since they’re clearly not beyond the destruction of property and trespassing.” He addressed the crowd, hopefully ruining their footage.

“Hey, that wasn’t us!” One of the reporters closest to them, a brunette with her hair in a ponytail, huffed. “The barrier was destroyed by a kid in a black hoodie who looked like they went here! They gave us permission to be here.”

Shouta felt his eye twitch even as he filed the important information for later. “First of all,” He felt like he was addressing children. “UA has a strict dress code, as you should have noticed from harassing the students. Secondly, if they were a student here, they wouldn’t have needed to destroy the barrier because they would have a student ID. Therefore, you not only stood idly by as a villain attacked UA without reporting it, but you took advantage of the villain’s crime in the destruction of the UA barrier to enter areas you are fully aware you are prohibited from entering without special permission. While you’ll still be charged with trespassing, your actions can also be considered villainous in a court of law.”

Finally, it seemed like his words were starting to get through to the press as a few of them exchanged nervous looks. Some wisely snuck off before the police arrived, though UA’s extensive security cameras would have no trouble identifying them for the police later. The mob shifted in an attempt to leave, but ironically the police arrived to block them off.

“What was that?” Shouta turned to find Hizashi grinning at him after the press was escorted away, clearly amused by something. He resigned himself to the stupid joke Hizashi was about to tell by giving Hizashi a weary look. “Your actions can be considered villainous in a court of law.” He repeated in a fairly accurate mimicry of Shouta’s voice, continuing in a deeper tone. “In the criminal justice system, press based offenses are considered especially heinous. In Musutafu, the dedicated pro heroes that arrest these felons are members of an elite squad known as the Heroics Teachers of UA. These are their stories. DUN DUN.”

Shouta dove to hide his face in his capture weapon at the stupid sound but he wasn’t quite fast enough to stifle a laugh while Hizashi fiddled with his directional speaker until a familiar theme song started to play.

“Wait, were you laughing? Did I make you laugh?!”

“No.” Shouta schooled his face into complete deadpan. “I’m just allergic to stupidity. We weren’t even the ones doing the arresting. Why do you have that song?”

“Mmhmm. You can’t fool me, Shouta. I saw that smile. Also, you don’t want to know how many songs I have downloaded for potential jokes and impromptu karaoke.” Hizashi laughed, the first genuine laugh Shouta had heard all day. It was nice to see Hizashi acting like his regular self, and this time Shouta didn’t try to hide his own smile.

“Don't you have a class to teach?’ He reminded, smile turning into a smirk as Hizashi froze.

“Shit! My English lesson with 1-A! I’m late!” Hizashi took off, leaving Shouta to watch in amusement before making his way to the crumbled remains of the UA barrier.

Principal Nedzu was already there, surveying the destruction with his hands clasped behind his back. He wore his typical friendly smile, emotions as hard to read as ever.  

“This seems like a distraction for whatever their true goal was.” Nedzu commented, tone deceivingly cheerful. “The quick and easy destruction of the barrier, attacking during the lunch hour when students and teachers alike would be scattered throughout the school, playing on the discontent of the media- it all seems too convenient. None of the teachers found evidence of intruders in the building, but I’m not entirely convinced.”

“A reporter told me she watched someone roughly the age and height of an average UA student wearing a black hoodie destroy the barrier.” Shouta frowned, watching alongside Nedzu as Cementoss raised a temporary barrier around UA. “There’s no debris. The barrier’s just...gone. Definitely the work of a quirk.”

“Perhaps.” There was an edge to Nedzu’s tone. “Regardless, we’ll focus on figuring out who did it and how they did it once we figure out what their purpose was. This was clearly no accident. Could it be a declaration of war?” Nedzu hummed. “We’ll have to revise our security measures as well.”

“If the villain was the age of our students, it could be a disgruntled drop out or someone who didn’t pass the entrance exam. Plenty of those to go around.” Shouta mused, running a hand through his hair. “Maybe this was just a way to release their frustrations.”

“Not a bad assessment, Aizawa.” Nedzu turned to him, amused. “But I’m detecting an unfamiliar scent from somewhere in the school, too faint for me to pinpoint...I wonder if they even have a body? Regardless, I believe our “disgruntled drop out” wasn’t working alone. We'll need to do another sweep of the school grounds to see if anything is missing or planted. Care to join the search?”

“Sure.” Shouta knew better than to interpret Nedzu’s thinly veiled order as an actual choice, but would have volunteered to join the search team regardless. His observational skills and attention to detail had always been some of his most defining traits as a teacher and a pro hero, after all. “...With Cementoss?”

“I believe Ectoplasm is also free this period.” Nedzu turned to re-enter the building. “I trust you teachers can figure out among yourselves who can help the search and rotate members according to who has a teaching period. If you’ll excuse me, I’m sure I have a few phone calls from the press and the police waiting for me.” He didn’t sound annoyed by it as he left, but the ever present slow sashay of his tail betrayed his true feelings.

Shouta stood in deep in thought as Cementoss joined him, dusting off his hands from using his quirk. “Shall we go to the staff room? I think Ectoplasm is there, preparing for his next class.”

“Yes.” Shouta led the way with a brisk pace. “It’s also a good place to start searching. If their goal was to steal information, it would have to be accessible to the teachers or Nedzu. We’ll check all the staff rooms and computers before we check Nedzu’s office, even if he was in his office the entire time. We have to be thorough.”

Which, of course, meant they found not a hair out of place. Every file was accounted for, no suspicious emails, no unauthorized access on any computer- the more the UA staff searched, the more normal everything appeared. Too normal.

“It doesn’t make any sense.” Shouta scowled, sinking into their couch after a day wasted with fruitless searching. “Nedzu’s hunches are almost never wrong. What could we possibly be missing?”

“I don’t know, but if I have to go through every computer access log again I’m going to scream.” Hizashi agreed, taking a swig of his canned beer. His expression turned thoughtful. “Is it really that hard to believe it was an angry teen? I know if I wanted to stick it to UA, destroying the UA barrier and letting the media wreak a little havoc would be more than enough for me. All of this just seems like a lot of extra hassle for something that’s probably not that big of a deal.”

“They still committed a crime.” Shouta pointed out, the comfort of the couch coaxing his eyes to slip shut. “And you’re just a petty person. Even if stealing information wasn’t their ulterior motive, this villain could be hellbent on revenge and out for blood. I had a student I expelled try to attack me on my way home, once.”

Shouta felt something poking him until he cracked open an eye, met with Hizashi’s offended frown. “Okay, first of all, ouch. Second of all, you were attacked by one of your former students?! Why didn’t I know about this?!”    

“Didn’t I tell you? Hm.” Shouta ignored the particularly hard poke his response got him. “It’s fine. The police arrested them. You’re getting off topic.”

“Only you would be so nonchalant about being attacked by a former student.” Hizashi shook his head, pulling out his cell phone as he got to his feet. “I’m too tired to cook so I’m just going to order a pizza. I should probably start getting ready to go the station too...ughhh, why does it have to be a Wednesday?” Hizashi’s grumbling became too quiet for Shouta to hear as he disappeared into his bedroom.

Shouta was sure he nodded off because when he next opened his eyes the apartment was dark and empty except for the small lamp Hizashi must have left on. A couple of pizza slices were on the coffee table waiting for him, miraculously untouched by the two cats roaming around.        

He ate slowly, going over theories in his head before deciding it would be a better use of his time to solidify the lesson plans for the USJ training exercise on Friday. He, Thirteen and All Might had already agreed the best use of the facility would be class wide rescue operations, which was more realistic to what they would encounter as pro heroes, but that didn’t mean there was no way for them to work on their weaknesses at the same time.

With a bit of shuffling Shouta pulled out the lesson plans for USJ and moved to pull out his pocket book for an easy reference, only to be met with thin air. The book was always in a secret compartment of his utility belt, designed to look like it was just part of the belt in case villains ever got their hands on it, so it should have been impossible to snatch it without his noticing-

Shouta frowned, forcing himself to take a breath. Unbuckling the belt, he carefully went through every compartment and concluded the pocket book was indeed missing. He patted himself down, known to sometimes shove the book into his tracksuit when he was pressed for time- but there was nothing.

He wasted no time fishing out the old and outdated flip phone he refused to get rid of to dial Hizashi, hand buried in his hair as he waited for several rings.

“Yo, Shouta! And here I thought you destroyed your phone again.” Despite his teasing, Hizashi was very clearly confused. “Can we make this quick? I’ve gotta go on in-”         

“It’s gone.” Shouta interrupted, stress making his responses cold and curt. “My pocket book. It’s missing. Have you seen it?”

“Not since I saw you writing in it on the first day of classes.” Hizashi sounded appropriately concerned as the gravity of the situation hit him. “Oh shit- you think someone stole it? That’s bad. That’s really bad. But that's why it's super coded, right?! Maybe the press will give it back when they realize it's all nonsense?” Hizashi was suddenly grave. “...You didn't write anything that could get people killed, right?”      

“I came up with that code with Nedzu himself.” Shouta acknowledged, the grip on his hair bordering on painful. “But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to figure out. Either way, there’s nothing in it that couldn’t be figured out by anyone who interacts with my students for a while, but that’s still sensitive information that can give away the upper hand in a fight.” He paused. “What if this is what Nedzu was talking about? What if the villain is part of a terrorist organization and now they have everything they need to target my students? What if-”

“Shouta. ” It was Hizashi’s turn to interrupt, tone taking on the gentle authoritative tone he usually took on when rescuing bystanders. “I need you take a couple of deep breaths with me, yeah? Stop letting your mind run wild with bad case scenarios and take a second to just breathe. Okay, here we go-”

“I am not panicking.” Shouta snapped, the action causing him to become aware of his shortness in breath and the iron grip he had on his hair like he was subconsciously trying to pull it out. Grudgingly, he took a deep breath and tried to relax. “...No, you’re right. I need to go about this calmly.”

“There’s the Shouta we all know and love!” Hizashi cheered, making Shouta snort. How he wished Hizashi was physically present and not just a crackly voice on an old cell phone. “Hopefully it was just some handsy reporter. Sooner or later they’ll realize your pocket book is just junk and give it back- or throw it away, since you probably didn’t write your name in it or anything. Not much you can do about it now, right?”

“There’s always something that can be done.” Shouta countered immediately, cradling the phone against his shoulder as he dug out his laptop and opened an email addressed to Nedzu. “...Thanks, Hizashi.”

“Anytime! What are besties for? Oh, hold up-” Hizashi’s voice became quieter as a muffled voice addressed him. “We’re about to go live! Tell you what, I'll include a tidbit on giving back things that aren't yours- maybe the thief’s a listener? Gotta go, see you later Shouta!”

Shouta’s ear was met with the dial tone, but he had long since stopped paying attention.

He had work to do, after all.

Chapter Text

“-Shouta? Earth to Shouta, can you read me? Listen, buddy? I think you’re having a breakdown.”

Shouta forced his eyes to focus on the blur that was Hizashi’s hand waving centimeters from his face, unaware that he had even closed his eyes. He pulled himself from the comfy confines of the couch to sit up and crack his neck, a glance at the cat wall clock revealing they had no time to waste if they wanted to get to school on time.
 

“Don’t be ridiculous. I’m fine.” He fended off a concerned Hizashi to fish through his utility belt, confused when he failed to find his eye drops in the right pouch.
 

“Mm.” Hizashi’s unconvinced huff accompanied the eye drops he gently nudged into Shouta’s hand, which he accepted gratefully. “You literally passed out mid-conversation, but even if I let that slide- the reason you’ve barely eaten, slept or done anything besides look for your dumb book for the past 48 hours is...?”
 

“A completely rational use of my time and resources. Did you miss the part where I said the information in that book can mean life or death for my students in the hands of a villain?” Shouta squeezed a few drops into each eye and made for the door. “Come on. We’re going to be late.”
 

“Yeah, but it’s also super coded and written in your hideous handwriting. More importantly, you’ve done literally all you can to find it!” It took Shouta a second to realize Hizashi was still firmly planted on the couch, closely watching his movements with a deep set concern. “Shouta, you’re really starting to freak me out. You’ve been watching the same security footage for hours. I’m pretty sure you’ve shaken down every cameraman and reporter that even looked at UA that day, in both legal and questionably legal terms. You’re even having your students write papers analyzing their own weaknesses, aren’t you?”
 

Shouta was quiet as he absent-mindedly rubbed his eyes before he made eye contact with Hizashi. “I’m taking necessary precautions. I hardly see how any of that qualifies as a ‘breakdown.’ Come on, we’re going to-”   
 

“-be late, yes! You’ve said that!” Hizashi threw his hands up. “Shouta, you’re running on fumes! Can you even see straight? How many fingers am I holding up? Have you even changed clothes at all?!” He sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose before he took on a more gentle tone. “You’re not going to like this, but maybe you should consider taking the day off? You can just stay here and sleep all day. Then, when you’re feeling a little better, you can-”
 

“Absolutely not.” Shouta denied, offended by the very thought. “I’ve spent all week planning today’s class at the USJ, I refuse to let the valuable opportunity to practice rescue training go to waste. I can’t leave it to All Might because that idiot is so reckless with his time limit I wouldn’t be surprised if he couldn’t maintain his hero form for the duration of the whole class. Thirteen would spend too much time lecturing the students and not enough time actually doing the exercises, which is the whole point of hero training. They need me. I’m going.” He turned, roughly shoving his boots on as he heard Hizashi quickly get to his feet.
 

“Okay, okay! We’re going! Let me grab my keys because you are definitely not well enough to be taking the train.” Shouta shot him a withering glare but waited patiently by the door, not about to turn down a free ride to UA that avoided the morning train rush hour. When Hizashi returned it was with his keys and a half-empty oversized coffee thermos, which he shoved into Shouta’s hands. “Here. You clearly need this more than I do today.”
 

Despite the fact Hizashi drank his coffee disgustingly pure Shouta found himself grateful for the caffeine boost that got him through half the day, refilling the thermos to get him through the other half. Death tasted like sleep deprivation and terrible coffee, Shouta concluded.
 

“For today’s basic hero training, All Might, Thirteen and I will be overseeing exercises to prepare you for disaster relief. It’s up to each of you if you want to wear your costumes, but we’ll be doing everything from fires to floods, so keep that in mind as some of them are ill-suited to this kind of activity. Oh, the training site’s a bit remote, so we’ll be going by bus. You have fifteen minutes to get ready and meet me by the bus. That’s all.” He took a swig of coffee just as a hand shot up. “What, Ashido?”
 

“Do we really have to turn in those 10 page reports on identifying and addressing personal weaknesses villains could possibly exploit by Monday?”
 

“Yes, and because you honestly thought that was a good question and not irrelevant in any way, make that 15 pages for your report, Ashido.” He glanced at the clock, satisfied to see the rest of the students take the hint and move to get ready.
 

Only Midoriya lingered as he stood up from his desk, a question clearly on his lips as he debated whether or not it was worth asking. Shouta decided to take pity on him. “What is it, Midoriya? Want me to make your assignment 15 pages too?”
 

“Um, no. I mean, I could do 15 pages if you wanted me to, Aizawa-sensei, I know I have a lot of weaknesses that I need to work on, but that’s not really what I wanted to ask.” This kid could honestly give Hizashi a run for his money with his capacity to ramble, to which Shouta only countered with a blank, patient stare until Midoriya got to the point. “This might not be my place to ask, but are you okay? You’ve just seemed really high strung since the press broke into the school the other day, and your eyes are really bloodshot, and the bags under your eyes seem a little worse- ah, not that you look terrible or anything!”
 

Shouta scoffed internally even as his expression softened. A problem child in many ways, it seemed. “I will be, after today.” He admitted for Midoriya's peace of mind, purposefully vague. “Worry about yourself, Midoriya. These rescue exercises are going to be difficult.”            
 

“Yes, sir!” Midoriya replied with enthusiasm before he ran off to get changed with the rest of his classmates. “Ow- oh, sorry Hagakure! I didn’t see you there! I mean, I wasn’t watching where I was going! Not that you’re not noticeable! Geez, I’m really sticking my foot in my mouth today...”      
 

Shouta downed the rest of his coffee.
 

---
 

The bus eventually arrived at the USJ where Thirteen and All Might were already waiting, much to the delight of the children. Shouta trailed behind Thirteen, more than happy to allow them to explain the facility, which left All Might to explain the types of rescue exercises they would be doing. Admittedly, he may have dozed off a bit when he leaned against a nearby railing.
 

“Aizawa-kun.” Shouta felt an oversized hand gently shake his shoulder, wondering not for the first time why the friendly hero didn’t just call him Shouta. Hizashi certainly never had such qualms. “Are you alright? You can go sit down for a moment if you aren’t feeling well.”
 

For a brief moment Shouta entertained the thought of wrapping his capture weapon around All Might’s neck and throttling him, given that the media infiltration was indirectly his fault. He would be happy to offer All Might up like a juicy steak to ravenous reporters if it meant getting that stupid little pocket book back.
 

“I’m fine,” He replied, starting to feel like a broken record as he pushed off the railing. “I’m just tired. Are we ready to get started?”
 

Both heroes went rigid as they registered a piercing sound. Shouta turned his head in time to see the sudden appearance of an inky black portal in the central plaza. The portal warped and expanded until villains started to step out by the dozens in a pros worst nightmare, easily outnumbering students and teachers alike.
 

Well, he was certainly wide awake now.
 

“Everyone! Form pairs and make your way to the door! Your priority is escaping.” Shouta shouted, already pulling at his capture weapon as his students started to notice the disturbance in the plaza. He tried to focus past the exhaustion and the deafening sound of his own rapid heartbeat just as All Might blocked his path with an outstretched arm, smile strained and expression grim.
 

“Aizawa-kun, go help Thirteen get the students out of here. I can handle this!” As All Might jumped down into the plaza, Shouta wasted no time joining his confused students and tense colleague.     
 

“Hey, are those people? Are they the ones we’re supposed to be rescuing? Or is this like the H.U.C but for villains? They look really scary!” Sero squinted, prevented from getting closer as Asui grabbed his elbow.
 

“You really need glasses, Sero. If Aizawa-sensei told us to get to the exit, we can assume they’re not! Let’s get out of here!” She gave him a tug, guiding him towards the exit.  
 

“Those are real villains, this is not a drill. I repeat: stick together, get out and immediately call for help. Use your quirks defensively, but make sure you get out of here in one piece.” Shouta barked as Thirteen snapped out of their shock to help him shepherd the students to the door, turning to a dazed Kaminari. “Kaminari, see if you can get a message out requesting for backup. Iida-”
 

“Something’s jamming the signal, I can’t get through!” Kaminari’s voice went up an octave with panic, confirming Shouta’s suspicions that the villains had some kind of quirk that was jamming the intruder sensors along with communications.
 

The group didn’t make it very far before the same inky black portal opened up in front of them, only a few feet away from the door in a strategic block of the only exit. Shouta cursed as he moved to stand protectively between the students and the portal, Thirteen following on instinct.  
 

“I’m afraid I can’t let you and your students leave quite yet Eraserhead, Thirteen.” The looming portal spoke cordially, forming a vague outline of a person. “It’s nice to finally meet you. We are the League of Villains. Today, we’ve come here to UA High School, this bastion of heroism, with the sole goal of ending the life of All Might, the Symbol of Peace.”
 

The atmosphere, if possible, got colder. To boldly declare their goal spoke of the confidence they had in their success, which meant they were either complete idiots or had a flawless plan. Before Shouta could say anything, his younger colleague took a daring step forward.
 

“Not if we have anything to say about it!” Thirteen flicked open their index finger to use their quirk, starting to suck up wisps of the portal and appearing to have the upper hand- until a portal opened directly behind Thirteen, turning their own quirk against them. Shouta (and his students) watched in horror as Thirteen’s black hole started ripping off pieces of their body until the villain pulled back. The rest of Thirteen slumped forward lifelessly.
 

“Th-Thirteen-sensei!” Koji’s quiet voice cried out as students started screaming.         
 

“Thirteen!” Shouta grit his teeth, resisting the urge to check on them. It was too late. His capture device levitated, ready to hold back anyone that made a move to go check on Thirteen’s remains- understandable, but not with a highly dangerous villain still looming over them. Midoriya and Uraraka immediately lunged forward, but Shouta dragged them back.
 

Attention and capture device occupied, Shouta was helpless to stop Bakugou and Kirishima from leaping forward. Their combined attack doubled from the element of surprise and the fury of seeing Thirteen go down. landing a direct attack. Moving quickly, he shoved Midoriya and Uraraka backwards as he grabbed Bakugou and Kirishima by their ankles, barely avoiding the portals that tried to engulf them.
 

He eyed the villain’s tangible and visible neck piece, the only solid part of his body. A weakness. Shouta knew he could hit it, but as the last line of defense between the students and villains he was hesitant to make any move that would possibly put him out of commission. “What did I just say? Do not engage.”    
 

“That was for Thirteen-sensei!” Kirishima called out defiantly. “Bet you weren't expecting that, villain!”
 

“I must admit, that took me by surprise. I suppose I should’ve expected nothing less from UA students.” The villain’s yellow eyes narrowed. “Yes, I can see what you’re trying to do too, Eraserhead. Against an unknown number of villains with unknown quirks, refraining from engaging is the best strategy. Unfortunately for you, I have an advantage: I know each and every one of you. And that means I know all of your weaknesses too.”
 

Shouta’s eyes widened, lunging for the neck piece just as a portal engulfed the group. He could only hope his students were able to be transported together as a portal spit him out alone in the plaza, where he took out an unsuspecting amateur villain with the force of his attack.
 

He took a moment to gather his bearings, ignoring the group of villains he was transported into as he turned his eyes upward to USJ’s entrance. The scattered pieces of Thirteen was the only evidence of a fight remaining.
 

The group of villains were all too distracted by All Might to pay much attention to Shouta. He made brief, concerned eye contact with All Might before Shouta took off, determined to find his students. 
   

He really is something, isn't he Eraserhead?” A raspy young voice addressed him, making Shouta freeze in his tracks. A boy who looked to be the same age as his students, a horrifying assortment of hands along his torso, arms and head that Shouta honestly couldn't tell were real or fake, was intently watching All Might fight. He was scratching his neck with his jagged, bitten nails and beside him, a hulking inhuman-looking beast stared unseeingly forward. “The Symbol of Peace. He makes all these guys look like extra EXP with nothing but a flick of his finger. Talk about OP...”
 

The teen with all the hands had a different aura about him. While the villains gathered in the plaza seemed to be regular petty criminals, there was something dangerous about him. Mentally, Shouta reshuffled his threat assessments- this boy was just as dangerous as the warp villain, and he had a bad feeling about the inhuman creature. Shouta made to lunge at the duo when the warp villain appeared beside the teen, effortlessly redirecting Shouta through a portal that deposited him a few feet away.
 

“The children have been appropriately scattered, Shigaraki Tomura. They shouldn't be any trouble.” The villain informed primly, similarly thwarting Shouta’s second attempt to lunge at them from another angle. He didn’t even need to move- Shouta needed to come up with a new strategy.  
 

“Good job Kurogiri.” The teen- Shigaraki Tomura- smiled, chapped lips curling over his teeth. His eyes never left All Might as his hands dropped to his sides. “This is all working out really well, isn't it? We just need to keep Mr. Symbol of Peace busy for a little longer so he runs out of stamina. Then we can send out our OP boss.”
 

Shouta used their distraction to rush once more, expecting the portal that sent him a few feet away. He twisted mid-air, capture device snapping out to trap the Shigaraki boy and drag him over before Kurogiri could react.
 

Shigaraki sighed, sounding only mildly inconvenienced despite the tight bindings that kept his arms pinned to his sides. “Kurogiri, are you sure this is the one we're not supposed to hurt? He's being difficult, even if he is kind of cool.”
 

“Call off the attack.” Shouta demanded with a tug sharp enough to make Shigaraki’s breathing hitch, tired of the conversation going on around him like he wasn’t a real threat. “ Now.
 

“Not harming Eraserhead or any of the students was part of the deal.” Kurogiri spoke slowly, posture tense despite the way he tried to appear calm. “...But we’re not obligated to keep that contract. Our...partner has failed to live up to their end of the deal many times, after all. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to remind them who’s really in control.”
 

Shouta narrowed his eyes and tightened his capture device again, this time refusing to let up the pressure as Shigaraki released a strangled laugh. “Haha...yeah. You’re....right.” He tried to suck in a breath, remaining maddeningly calm even as he was essentially strangled. “No...mu...”
 

Before Shouta could even blink something barreled into him, pinning him roughly to the dirt and leaving him struggling to breathe under its weight. A giant hand gripped his skull to keep him pinned and let him know it was there. It was also a warning that it wouldn’t hesitate to squish his head like a grape.
 

“You brought this on yourself, you know.” Shouta watched his capture device loosen around Shigaraki and start to disintegrate as Shigaraki turned his hand outward, drawing his palm up along the bandages and leaving nothing behind, exactly like- “You, your students and Thirteen. We only wanted All Might. Kurogiri told you that, didn’t he? All you had to do was stay out of the way.”   
 

“You were the one who destroyed the UA barrier.” Shouta hissed, wishing he could do anything but glare from under the hulking beast that prevented him from moving.
 

“Yeah. That plan worked out really well too, didn’t it?” Shigaraki smiled in what Shouta was learning was his typical unnaturally wide manner, chapped lips threatening to start bleeding at the strain. “That was thanks to you, too. You’ve been such a great help and you aren’t even aware of it.” He moved to scratch his neck, smile falling. “I wish you would’ve been good and stayed out of the way. I hate to kill you.”  
 

Shouta felt his blood run cold as Shigaraki rustled briefly through his clothing before pulling out a familiar pocket book. His struggle against the Nomu intensified even as the hand on his skull tightened painfully, refusing to let the pain stop him in his attempt to get free. “No-!”
 

“It was hard to make sense of, I'll give you that.” Shigaraki was smiling again as he flipped open the pocket book. “Especially since my cheat code was being stingy with his help, but once my master offered his help it wasn’t too hard. Stupid cheat code, overestimating his value. What’s a cheat code to a hacker?”
 

Shouta didn’t even bother trying to understand the nonsensical ramblings. It didn’t even matter that Shigaraki wasn’t the apparent mastermind. He had to do something. He had to act .  
 

Shigaraki paused as he seemed to think something over, idly scratching at his neck.  “I guess, technically, my cheat code did do what we wanted him to do and you did provide the most useful item in the game.... Ugh. You two make it really difficult for me, you know? You’re a teacher- I bet you get students like that all the time. What do you do when your student’s been kind of bad but kind of good?” He didn't bother waiting for a response, knowing Shouta wouldn't answer him anyway. “What to do, what to do...Kurogiri, what do you think?”  
 

Kurogiri was stoic as he replied. “The decision is yours, Shigaraki Tomura.”
 

“Right... Okay. I won't kill you.” Shigaraki decided, sound pleased. “Still, you’ve made it clear you’re going to interfere no matter what, and you understand why we can’t have that, right Eraserhead? You really are super cool, I wish I could’ve watched you fight more. You’ll have to show me your moves some other time.” Shigaraki turned to the hulking figure pinning Shouta. “Nomu, help him take a nice nap.”
 

Before Shouta could muster up the energy to be infuriated by the fickle whims of this man-child, the hand gripping his head slammed him into the ground again and again until everything went dark.

Chapter Text

The first thing Shouta processed through the heavy fog that clouded his thoughts and senses were the sounds of soft, familiar voices near him. The second was a splitting headache dulled by painkillers, throbbing with protest if Shouta made the slightest of movements. The final thing was that he couldn’t open his eyes.

“-no new changes. Why don’t you try coming back tomorrow, listener?”

Following his first instinct of rubbing his eyes, Shouta was surprised by the layers of gauze his fingertips were met with. His whole face was heavily bandaged with scattered bandages along the rest of his body, injuries so bizarre Shouta had to wonder what kind of fight he had gotten himself into. Someone apparently really had it out for his face.

“I didn't think so, but...” The voice hesitated as it became quieter. “I’m not sure where else I should go.”

Todoroki . His mind supplied, concluding who the other voice must be. “Hizashi...?” He winced at the raspiness of his own voice as the other two became silent, their footsteps indicating they were moving closer.

“Shouta?!” Hizashi’s unmistakable voice sounded relieved and close to tears as Shouta’s hand was scooped into Hizashi’s leather clad hands. Must have come from work. “I knew it! I knew you'd wake up! How are you feeling?!”    

“Aizawa-sensei.” Todoroki greeted, a note of relief in his own voice. “It’s good to hear your voice again. Do you...need anything?”

Shouta moved to shake his head and instantly regretted it. “No.” He replied, his desire for answers outweighing his current discomfort. “Where...?”

“Go get him some water, listener.” Shouta heard footsteps leave the room as Shouta became aware of the sound of beeping machines. A hospital, then. “You didn’t answer me, Shouta. How are you feeling?”

“...Bad.” He replied honestly. He hated that Hizashi saw right through his tough guy facade and had the foresight to send Todoroki out of the room. “But I’ll live. Where are we?”

“Dagobah General Hospital.” Hizashi supplied, squeezing his hand. His voice was hesitant and oddly apprehensive. “What do you remember?”

Letting his head sink into his pillow, Shouta tried to carefully sort through his memories. “I was at the USJ with All Might, Thirteen and my 1-A students for rescue training exercises-” Shouta cut himself off as he was assaulted by a particular memory, panic building in his chest. There was a villain attack. If he was stuck in a hospital, then...“Hizashi. Where are my kids?”

Hizashi’s thumb rubbed circles on his hand in an attempt to be comforting, but it only made Shouta nervous as the silence stretched on. Hizashi hadn’t even tried to tease Shouta on his slip-up in referring to his students as his kids. “Hizashi.” He wished he could see Hizashi’s expression, which usually spoke volumes.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t remember.” Hizashi’s voice was quiet, too quiet, and the thumb rubbing his hand was starting to drive Shouta crazy. “But I guess even brain damage isn’t enough to hold you down, huh Shouta? They weren’t even sure you'd wake up. Yet here you are, miraculously awake and already demanding answers. You never change.”

It was painfully obvious he was stalling. Shouta squeezed the hand that was holding his captive. “Hizashi, I need to know.”

“I know. You deserve to know.” Hizashi sighed, exhaustion seeping into his tone and making Shouta wonder just how long he had been out. “I just- I can’t tell you. Not right now. Sorry.” He chuckled, but it was dry and humorless. “Ten minutes ago I was wondering if I’d have to make long term hospital arrangements in case you really were in a coma, just give me a little while to process, yeah?”

Shouta reluctantly let the topic drop, lapsing into a tense silence until light footsteps entered the room and stopped beside his cot. “...Here.” Todoroki pushed a glass of water into Shouta’s free hand, which he accepted awkwardly.

“I’m going to get some air.” Hizashi spoke up abruptly, his chair screeching as he stood up. “Keep an eye on him for a bit, will you Todoroki? We should probably let a nurse know he’s awake anyway.” He didn’t wait for a response before he left.

After a moment Todoroki sat in Hizashi’s chair and scooted closer. Despite Shouta’s borderline desperate desire to know what happened, Todoroki wasn't the right person to ask. He could wait. “Why aren’t you home?”

“My father has been...unhappy regarding the circumstances of his automatic promotion to Number One Hero.” Todoroki was very careful with his word choice, which Shouta immediately found suspicious. Automatic promotion? “I told my sister I could be more help here, but honestly I just don’t want to be home right now.”

“I see.” Shouta was just as careful to maintain a neutral tone. It felt ridiculous, the two of them trying to have a conversation while walking on eggshells, but-

“Mic-sensei hasn’t told you what happened since you’ve been out, has he?” Todoroki interrupted his thoughts, straight to the point. After a moment of thought, Shouta replied with an honest no. “I’m not surprised. He was one of the first responders after Iida managed to escape and get help, but it was too late by then.” He paused. “I think he blames himself. We all blame ourselves too.”  

“Todoroki, you don’t have to-”

“There must be something wrong with me.” Todoroki continued, a note of loss in his tone. “I've never been good at expressing my emotions, but I can’t even pretend to understand how everyone else feels. I understand the self-blame, of course, but...There's been so many tears. So much anger. Denial.” His voice became quieter. “I just feel...numb.”

“There’s nothing wrong with you.” Todoroki was being weirdly honest and personal from his usual standoffish self, but the possibility Todoroki hadn't felt like there was anyone else he could confide in had Shouta taking it all in stride. “Everyone processes their emotions differently. You underwent an extremely traumatic event that would leave even the most veteran pro shaken up, you’re probably still in shock.”

“Maybe.” Todoroki didn’t sound convinced as he kept talking. “Still, despite my emotional shortcomings, the truth is impossible to deny. The USJ Massacre is the worst tragedy in UA’s history. I’m not sure if the school, or any of us, can ever recover from it. Some of us didn’t- ”    

“Todoroki, stop.” Shouta ordered. Talking about personal emotions was one thing, reliving the trauma was another- and honestly, Shouta didn't have the energy for either. Sitting in a hospital bed immobile and blind, Shouta never felt more useless . “I’m not the person you should be talking to about this. What-”

“I don’t want to talk to anyone but you, Aizawa-sensei.” Todoroki cut off stubbornly, tone somewhat hostile. Shouta wasn’t as surprised by the reaction as he thought he would be. Todoroki’s tone turned pleading. “Let me debrief you on what happened. Please. Let me do something .”

Looks like he wasn’t the only one feeling completely useless. Shouta sighed, mulling carefully over his response. “How long have I been unconscious?”

“Two weeks.”

“You’ve gone two weeks without talking to a licensed mental health professional about the most traumatic experience in your life? You’ve only been talking for a few minutes but even I can tell you are not okay, Todoroki.” Shouta demanded, imagining the silence to be Todoroki feeling rightfully scolded, outraged by the implications. Not a single adult had bothered to question why a fifteen year old boy spent two weeks moping around a hospital instead of his home? Hizashi certainly should have known better.

No, Todoroki was extremely stubborn and had shown himself to be rebellious against orders he found unfair or pointless. Todoroki was still around because he wanted to be, and to a certain degree needed to be, regardless of what the adults around him said.

Shouta sighed internally. He had a long ways to go.

“Most traumatic?” Todoroki repeated like he wasn’t sure that was quite right, raising a whole host of other issues. “I- this isn’t about me. You’re not listening.” Todoroki sounded frustrated.

Shouta could relate. “Todoroki. Do you trust me?”

“Of course.”

The response, quick and without any hesitation, took Shouta completely off guard. Something told him Todoroki wouldn't have been so quick and earnest in his answer prior to USJ. Was it a testament to his fragile emotional state or that he had come to view Shouta as a reliable authority figure?

Either way, it was clear what he needed to do.

“Then trust me when I say you need help.” The back and forth exchange was starting to exhaust him, but Shouta pressed on. “As a pro hero, I would advise you to talk to a therapist. As your homeroom teacher, I strongly recommend you do it. After that, we can have a real conversation about all this.” Shouta sighed. “Is that a fair deal?”         

Todoroki was silent- so silent Shouta might have believed he left the room had it not been for the steady breathing he heard over the beeping of machines. Eventually, in a voice soft enough Shouta had to strain to hear it, there was a soft “...Okay.”

“I’m back with a nurse!” Hizashi announced as Shouta heard an unfamiliar voice greet him, carefully taking the untouched glass of water from his hand. “...Oh, right. You can’t really drink from that, huh? Sorry- wait, were you holding that this whole time? Why didn’t you ask Todoroki to put it down for you? Honestly, you’re so stupidly stubborn about the weirdest things-”           

“Todoroki, talk to Hizashi. He can help you.” Shouta interrupted as the nurse ushered them out of the room. “Remember our deal.”

--

Days must have passed but time felt meaningless to Shouta as he drifted in and out of sleep, the darkness of his vision never failing to take him by surprise. His memories were similarly garbled, sometimes crystal clear, sometimes only in bits and pieces, and once having to be subdued by the nurses when he woke up still believing he was at the USJ.

Hizashi kept visiting. Shouta honestly wasn’t sure he ever left the hospital.      

“I can’t speak for Todoroki, but I think therapy’s really been helping him. I’m really glad you managed to get through to him, he wouldn’t listen to a word I said.” Hizashi rattled on, all too eager to keep Shouta updated. Though he stubbornly danced around discussing current events or USJ, Hizashi at least had the sense not to fill the silence with pointless conversation. He was cunning that way, but because Shouta knew exactly what Hizashi was doing he was coming dangerously close to losing his temper.

“I think having something to do aside from waiting around for you to wake up is helping him out a lot too. Now if only he’d go home once in a while...”

Shouta saw an opportunity and latched onto it. “He told me he was avoiding going home because of his father’s ‘discontent’ about his recent ‘automatic promotion.’” He paused, continuing when Hizashi suddenly went quiet. “If Endeavor is Number One now, that means the villains succeeded in their goal of killing All Might.”

“This, uh, this kind of talk isn't good for your recovery, you know? You should-”

Shouta felt whatever patience he had left snap like a twig. “Hizashi, I’m not an idiot. He called it the USJ Massacre . How many injuries? How many fatalities?”

The silence stretched on.

Answer me.

“I can’t , okay?!” Hizashi snapped, the whoosh of air and the squeaking of leather indicating Hizashi was making the quick hand gestures he tended to do when he was frustrated. “It’s only been like a couple of days since you woke up after suffering a severe head injury that left you permanently blind! I thought you were gonna die , man! Excuse me for being a little distracted!”

Taken aback by the outburst, Shouta could only listen as the chair made an ugly noise as Hizashi got to his feet. The blindness was permanent...? He pushed that thought deep down, focusing on his own frustration as he struggled onto his elbows. “You haven't been distracted- you've been evasive . If you're truly doing this for my sake, then I’m disappointed you don't know me better. Where. Are. My. Students?”

Hizashi sputtered angrily, and Shouta could hear the squeak of his boots as he started pacing. “I'm not the bad guy here, ok?! I didn't- it's not like this is easy to talk about! What do you want me to say?! It was one of the worst emergency scenes I’ve ever been called to as a pro hero? I saw my friend's torso lying in a pool of his own blood! I nearly stepped on his spleen! I saw my student covered in her own blood and gasping for breath- and she smiled because help had finally arrived! I just saw her in class the other day, and now she’s- she’ll never-” Hizashi cut himself off with a choked sound, breathing ragged as he devolved into hysterics.

“Wha-” Shouta never felt his blood run so cold. He had never seen heard Hizashi shut down before. “Who? Who are you talking about? Who else-?”

“God, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry-” It’d been a long time since Shouta heard Hizashi worked up enough about something he was fighting against his own quirk, unable to shake the unnatural warble to his voice. “I can't- I can't- I'm so sorry-” The medical equipment started to tremble.

The door opened and the voice Shouta recognized as his personal nurse spoke up. “Aizawa-san, a young man who says he was a student of yours has come to visit!” She paused, making him wonder exactly how Hizashi looked. “Is...everything okay here?”

“Absolutely not.” Hizashi blew his nose noisily, and Shouta could picture him giving the nurse a watery grin, “But everything stopped being okay out there weeks ago, too. My buddy always was kind of a hipster like that.” How could Hizashi crack a joke at a time like this?! The ice in his veins was briefly eclipsed by white hot anger.

Hizashi-

“No, no, no-” Shouta heard the squeaking of his boots, Hizashi’s voice fainter as he went into the hall, “I can't let any of my little listener’s see me this way. I'll be back later. Be gentle with them- we're all hurting.”

Shouta said nothing until he heard Hizashi’s footsteps disappear, turning to the nurse. “Send them in. Who is it?”

“I think they wanted to surprise you.” The nurse replied cheerfully, but before Shouta could voice his hatred of surprises they were gone. He sunk into his pillows with a heavy sigh.

The door opened- not nearly enough time for someone to be escorted to his room unless they had been lurking outside his door, meaning it could only be one person. Shouta didn’t even try to hide his irritation. “Unless you’re planning to actually talk to me, get out. I’m not interested in your mindless prattle.”

“Well. That was rude.” A voice Shouta recognized from his nightmares caused him to stiffen, already reaching for the button to summon a nurse. “I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Aizawa-sensei. If something happened to me my Nomu wouldn’t be too happy, and wouldn’t it be just awful if he leveled this hospital with all these sick people in it?” Shouta could practically hear the chapped lips curl over teeth as he dropped his hand.

“...What do you want, Shigaraki?”

“I don’t like loose ends.” Shigaraki replied, the quiet scritch-scratch of his nails on his neck grating on Shouta’s ears. “...But I’m not going to kill you. Not yet, anyway. I’m just here for a little chat.” Shouta heard him take a seat in Hizashi’s abandoned chair, tone turning conversational. “I was the one who led the attack but you’re the one all over the news. People are convinced we’re working together, isn’t that funny? The man who went blind saving his students...UA’s number one suspect traitor.” Scritch-scratch. ”Kurogiri says I should be thanking you for taking the attention off us, but I just can’t figure it out. What makes you more important than me, huh?”

Shigaraki drummed his fingers against the chair’s armrest. “It was my attack. That was all of my planning, all of my resources, and ultimately my Nomu that took down All Might. But do you think they’re giving me the rightful credit? Of course not, all the media can focus on is conspiracy theories and speculations about what’s going to happen now that All Might’s dead. Where’s the investigation into the League of Villains? Where’s the call to arms? Why are they only afraid of you ?” Scritch-scratch, scritch-scratch. “It just doesn’t make any sense.”

Despite the fact Shigaraki had declared his intentions, Shouta was still trying to understand why a dangerous criminal would break into a hospital to talk to him about the mysterious whims of the media. It also irritated him to no end that his first piece of information from the outside world came from the chapped lips of the villain who stuck him in the hospital in the first place.

“You’re being awfully quiet...” Shigaraki started to sound angry and paused. “Wait...do you not know what’s going on? Has no one told you?” Though Shouta swore he didn’t do anything to give himself away, he heard Shigaraki smile anyway. “You don’t. My cheat code’s keeping his lips sealed to everyone huh? Here I thought he was angry at me, but if he’s not talking to you then...maybe he’s overloading. System meltdown. Hm.”

Shigaraki chuckled. “Well. Guess I’ll be the lucky one to tell you, since I’m such a generous guy. Shall I tell you how my USJ Massacre was a complete, unsung success?” Shouta heard the doorknob start to rattle, but the door didn’t open. Shigaraki must have jammed it with something. “I'm sure you remember Kurogiri took apart the astronaut piece by little piece until there was nothing left of them to find.”

He did not remember, but it sounded gruesome. “Then, there was All Might. He saw us take you down and he was so, so angry I had to send out my Nomu immediately. I think he even forgot to smile. He put up quite a fight- but in the end, he was no match for my Nomu’s strength and Kurorigiri’s quirk. We cut him in half. There was blood everywhere .”

Shouta started to feel sick, the doorknob rattling growing frantic as Shigaraki continued gleefully. “Sure, my side took quite a few hits, but those were all small fry. If we’re comparing numbers, I think you’ll find your side has a higher number of casualties.” Shouta tensed, which Shigaraki immediately noticed. “Of course, that must be what you really care about, right? Your students. Let’s see, what did my pawns tell me...? A little frog got cooked? Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t remember. I don’t waste my time with NPCs.”

Shouta stopped breathing.

Asui Tsuyu.

“I will say, they're a tenacious little group. They held on until the very end. Might've actually become a problem if they were a higher level or had better matchups, but unfortunately for them I love RPGs.”

Shouta felt his stomach plummet. From the very beginning they knew his students weaknesses and used it against them, sending them to the areas they were at the greatest disadvantage and pitting them against quirks they couldn’t handle.

It was a miracle all of them hadn't died. But how many injuries and deaths were all because of him? Their faces flashed in his mind, laughing and chatting on the bus only moments before disaster struck.

The door started to rattle on its hinges as someone threw their full body weight against it. Shigaraki, seeming to finally notice it, got to his feet. “How annoying. Visiting hours are over and I didn’t get a satisfactory answer...I’ll just have to pay you another visit soon. Kurogiri?” Shouta heard the same odd sound he heard at the USJ just as the door finally burst open.

“Freeze, police!” A voice called out, cursing when he realized Shigaraki was gone. “Where did he go, Eraserhead? I heard you talking to him!”

Shouta barely heard the officer. At least one of them.     

“Eraserhead! Where is Shigaraki Tomura?!”

Dead .

“Where is he?! Answer me!”

Chapter Text

When Shouta next awoke he felt worse than he ever had in his life. His eyes burned, his head suffered from a pounding migraine, he felt dizzy and lethargic- why was he even awake? A confused noise slipped from his lips as he became aware of the deafening silence of the room. Hizashi didn’t know the meaning of the word silent. He was always tapping his foot or humming, thumbing through pages or shifting in his chair, what-           

“Eraserhead?” A voice quietly addressed him, familiar yet not. Shouta warily chose not to answer. “Are you awake...?” Their tone was calm and hesitant, tinted with an interesting note of trepidation.

“Who’s asking?” He replied after a moment, his gut concluding this visitor posed no immediate threat. He could practically feel them relax at his answer.

“My name is Tsukauchi Naomasa. I’m the police officer in charge of the investigation behind the USJ Massacre.” Tsukauchi explained, continuing carefully. “What’s the last thing you remember?”

Shouta tried to think back but gave up quickly. “I don’t know. Where...?”

“Dagobah General Hospital.” Tsukauchi replied dutifully, albeit clearly disappointed. “You really don’t remember anything? What about your latest visitor, Shigaraki Tomura?”

His brain was adamantly refusing to cooperate, but the sharp twist in his gut was more than enough to tell him he really didn’t like that name. “I don’t make it a habit to associate with villains.”

Tsukauchi forced a chuckle. “You really are as straightforward as the reports claim, huh?”

“I don't like wasting my time.” Shouta replied pointedly. “Why are you here, officer?”

Tsukauchi sighed. It was a long, deep and tired sound. “Eraserhead, I’m obligated to inform you that you’re currently at the center of the investigation as the prime suspect behind the USJ Massacre. Regardless of the severity of your injuries or the extent of your memory loss, I’m afraid it doesn’t exempt you from the gravity of the situation. If you're found guilty of leaking information to criminals that led to the murder of the pro heroes All Might, Thirteen, five UA students, and the attempted murder of fifteen others, no amount of hero work or service you've done for the country in the past will save you from the punishment of such a heinous crime.”

Of all the things he expected Tsukauchi to say, a scalding accusation was not one of them. Even with his mind so muddled, he felt insulted. “On what grounds?”

Tsukauchi faltered. “While we certainly need to have this conversation, I can wait until your memories return and you become more lucid. I just needed you to be aware-”

“On what grounds, Officer Tsukauchi?” Shouta repeated himself, the situation feeling somehow frustratingly familiar, like he had just had this argument with someone else. Thankfully, Tsukauchi wasn’t hard to persuade.

“We’ll start at the beginning, then. The most incriminating piece of evidence against you was dropped as the villains fled the scene. Do you know what this is, Eraserhead?” Shouta felt something press against his hand and took it, instantly recognizing the smooth, plain cover and the slight bend from constantly being tucked in his utility belt.

“My pocket book.” Shouta murmured, memories of anxiously looking for it flowing back to him as he allowed Tsukauchi to take the cursed thing back. If it wasn't such an important piece of evidence, Shouta would have told him to burn it.

“Indeed. A journal, written in your handwriting in a code only Nedzu could crack, detailing the strength and weaknesses of all twenty of your students. We have reason to believe that this information was used to scatter the students into environments that weakened their quirks and facilitated the attack.” Shouta had to respect the lack of emotion as Tsukauchi went through the facts. “Present Mic informed me you lost it the day the press trespassed onto UA property, correct?”

Shouta nodded. He trusted Hizashi's testimony.

“Coincidentally the day we believe the League of Villains used the press as a distraction to infiltrate UA, likely to steal information that aided in the execution of the USJ Massacre.” Tsukauchi continued down the list of offenses. “Multiple teachers and students remarked how “nervous” and “short-tempered” your personality had become since that day. One victim claimed on the morning before the incident, they heard you tell another student that, quote, ‘I’ll be okay, after today’ unquote. While this is far from conclusive evidence, the timing is too coincidental to be easily dismissed.”

Well, Shouta had to admit, it was understandable he was the prime suspect.

Tsukauchi sounded tired. “Finally, a few days ago you were visited by a suspicious individual who did not match the physical description of any UA students. However, the description matches the villain reporters cited as the one who destroyed the UA barrier. He signed his name in the guestbook as Shigaraki Tomura. He was at the USJ too, wasn't he?”

There was a pause, as though the police officer were waiting for a denial or defense of some sort, but Shouta had none to give.

Tsukauchi sighed following the closing of a notebook. “I'm not going to lie Eraserhead, things are not looking in your favor. You are hereby officially detained under police custody until further notice. But,” For the first time since he started the interrogation, he sounded sympathetic, voice dropping into a quiet murmur, “you're the number one underground hero. You have a stunning record of cases and arrests, and your colleagues praise you as being one of the best teachers at UA. You're practically a celebrity to the police, and everyone who knows you has nothing but the utmost respect for you. It hasn’t made investigating you easy.” Tsukauchi sounded oddly fond. “I know how much you've done for the police department and this city since your debut, so I promise you I won't rest until I find out who's really behind this. I really don't think it was you. I hope I'm not wrong.”

If Tsukauchi could have seen his eyebrows, Shouta would’ve raised them dubiously. As it was, Shouta just nodded.

“If you have any information that could help with the investigation, we would appreciate your cooperation.” The chair creaked as Tsukauchi stood up. “Well, I’ll let you rest now. I'll stop by tomorrow when you're feeling better. Take care, Eraserhead.”

The door closed again, and Shouta was left alone with his thoughts. Tsukauchi had dumped a lot of information he was struggling to process, no matter how much his migraine protested against it. What bothered Shouta the most was his inability to deny anything Tsukauchi had stated- it all sounded completely plausible.

Had he really been an accomplice to a massacre?

“You’ve been such a great help and you aren’t even aware of it.” A raspy voice echoed from his memories, bringing with it a fresh wave of pain. Shouta allowed his mind to go blank, intending to give himself a rest.

He must have fallen asleep at some point as he was woken up by the sound of the door opening, expecting a nurse only to be met with multiple footsteps and the squeaking of wheels.  

“Aizawa-sensei looks asleep. We should come back when he’s awake.” A shaky voice- Iida, he immediately recognized- whispered, a quiet shadow of his former self and a testament to how traumatized he was.

His kids. He felt like a heavy weight had been lifted from his shoulders knowing they were finally near.

“He’s not. His heart rate changed the second you started talking.” Todoroki’s voice replied. There was still that distinct note of loss, like he wasn’t sure what he was supposed to do or say, but at least he was talking. For some reason therapy came to mind. He hoped it was helping.  

“I’m awake.” Shouta agreed, shifting slightly in his cot as he heard a sharp, relieved inhale from his students. “Who’s here?”

“Uraraka, Yaoyorozu, Todoroki, Satou, Shouji, Aoyama, Jirou, Mineta, Bakugou, Ojiro, Tokoyami and myself.” Iida reported, though it seemed to pain him to do so. “Hagakure is being interviewed by the police, Midoriya hasn’t woken up yet and Kirishima transferred. We...lost five of us.”

A couple people started to cry. Shouta hardly blamed them.

“Transferred?” He repeated. He wouldn’t be so cruel to ask for the names of the five that had died, but he was struggling to figure out who was missing. Someone stepped forward and Yaoyorozu’s voice filled the room.   

“Kirishima told us he no longer felt like he deserved to be here.” She was clearly upset, but her voice didn’t waver. “He was with Kaminari and Koji when they- he was the only survivor from the group sent to the Flood Zone. From what I understand, he couldn’t accept that he could only use his quirk to save himself and feels personally responsible. He asked me to tell you he’s sorry he wasn’t enough of a man to face you.” She took a shaky breath. “Nothing any of us said could stop him but he asked me to tell you he doesn’t blame you for what happened, Aizawa-sensei. None of us do, no matter what the media and the police are saying. Our injuries are from our own failures. You did everything you could as our teacher and a pro hero, and we’re sorry we couldn’t live up to your expectations.”

There was another pause as Yaoyorozu broke down sobbing, but before Shouta had the chance to respond another pair of footsteps came forward.

“Aizawa-sensei, I take full responsibility for the deaths of Asui and Sero.” Tokoyami started, voice thick with emotion. “The three of us got sent to the Conflagration Zone together, but my quirk was too weak to be of any help against the villains. I had to rely on the skills and quick-thinking of Asui and Sero, who fought valiantly against the villains despite the severe disadvantage of our environment. I escaped to get help, but,” Tokoyami choked. “they were overwhelmed by the heat and the villains by the time I returned. They died because of me.”

I wasn’t fast enough in getting backup, Tokoyami.” Iida immediately argued. “If I’d have been able to get the door open sooner, then maybe-”

“You think you guys were useless?” Satou barked out a sharp, bitter laugh. “If I hadn’t stupidly used up all my sugar supplies, maybe I could’ve gotten to the Flood Zone in time to do anything but watch Kaminari and Koji die. Maybe I could’ve actually done something that mattered.”  

“You protected me.” Mineta pointed out quietly but received no response.

“I should have left the Mountain Zone as soon as I froze the villains. Insisting on interrogating them when I knew my priority was the safety of the class was selfish and inexcusable.” Todoroki’s voice was quiet and heavy with regret.

“Everybody stop it!” Uraraka shouted, her fist hitting something solid and commanding the attention of her gathered peers. “Standing around blaming ourselves isn’t going to bring Tsuyu, Ashido, Kaminari, Koji or Sero back! They didn’t die so the rest of us could live full of regret!” She hiccuped. “We can’t- we have to keep living, for their sake. This isn’t what they would’ve wanted-”  

“They didn't die ‘so the rest of us’ could do anything !” Tokoyami lashed out. “Their deaths were pointless! You heard that warp villain- we were just in the way. They were killed for no other reason than that they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“Don’t yell at her!” Jirou snapped. “If that’s Uraraka’s way of coping with their deaths, who are you to tell her she’s wrong? Back off.”

“Guys, please.” Ojiro spoke up, literally begging. “You’re all just making this harder.”

“I’m sorry?” Shouji spoke up, an edge to his voice. “I lost three arms and Uraraka lost her legs, remind me again how your group, none of whom got a single scratch, is having a harder time than the rest of us?”  

“Everybody shut the hell up!” Bakugou's yell reverberated painfully in the small hospital room. “Does Aizawa-sensei look like he's in any condition to deal with your personal bullshit? What part of brain damage do you self-absorbed bastards not understand? Holy shit.”

The room lapsed into an awkward silence, broken only by Mineta quietly announcing he was placing a get-well melon the class pitched in together to get for Shouta on the bedside table.

Shouta felt the migraine coming back. “How is Midoriya?”

“They won’t let us in to see him.” Aoyama sighed, somehow expressing all the sadness and disappointment of the class in his tone. “They had to perform several extensive surgeries. He did quite a number on his body...They don’t know if he’ll ever fully recover. They don’t even know if he’ll ever wake up. ”

The class seemed to be waiting for something, but nothing happened. Shouta was really starting to hate being left in the dark, literally and figuratively.

“Midoriya is a very strong and stubborn boy, full of surprises.” Shouta spoke up, interpreting the silence as a desire to be reassured. “Have faith and be there for him. It’s all you can do.”

There was a loud, painful crack and the whole room tensed as Bakugou started venting. “That stupid fucking moron had it coming.” He seethed. “Always getting in my way and trying to act like All Might even though he’s a puny quirkless nerd- I hope he never wakes up.”

“Bakugou, we are in a hospital !” Iida snapped, reaching the ends of his patience. Shouta assumed he tried to touch Bakugou as the tell-tale sounds of small explosions reached his ears. “Get a hold of yourself!”

“Why should I?! Not like any of you fuckers tried to hold back when you were yelling at each other just now.” Bakugou snarled. “Everything sucks, of course I’m pissed as hell! Five of us fucking died, Deku’s as good as dead, Shitty Hair ran away with his tail between his legs and one of us is using this whole thing as an excuse to get chummy with the cops and get her name out there!”

“Don’t you dare say that about Hagakure.” It was Ojiro’s turn to snap, the sharp crack of his tail hitting the floor like a whip. “She’s as scared and frustrated as the rest of us! Hagakure’s quirk allows her to see and hear things the rest of us wouldn’t, of course she’s the only one who can help the police with the investigation.”

“Except she could really easily be lying !” He heard Bakugou take an aggressive step forward. “She's fucking invisible, Tail! She can say whatever she wants! She could have never even set foot in the USJ for all we know! How could anyone have gone through this and still dare to pin all the blame on Aizawa-sensei?! She’s nothing but a goddamn coward!” His words were as sharp as knives. “How do we know she isn't the traitor?”

Enough .” Shouta couldn't keep the exhaustion from his voice as tensions started to rise again, noting with satisfaction how quickly they all quieted. “You’re all lashing out in anger over a situation you had no control in. But it doesn’t matter who you blame or how much you kick and scream, Nothing. Will. Change.”

He allowed a few seconds of stunned silence before Shouta sat back in his cot. “This is the hardest lesson a pro-hero ever has to learn. You won't be able to save everyone. Your friends will die in front of you, and maybe you could have saved them, if you were faster or stronger. You’ll never know, because you'll never have the chance to do anything differently.”

The class was deathly silent as they hung onto his every word.

“The only thing you have control over is how you handle and overcome the situation. Accept your feelings of sorrow, anger, and guilt- talk to a therapist and learn to express them in a healthy way. Take time to appreciate your friends and family, and tell them how much they mean to you. Be happy you're alive, and force yourself to remember that feeling at your lowest point.”

“How?!” Yaoyorozu asked, voice breaking in misery. Despite having only ever seen her smile, Shouta could picture the expression on her face perfectly. “How can we possibly go on living life like normal?! Like our friends didn't die in front of us?! Like-”

“You can't,” Shouta answered honestly, reaching a hand out in the direction of her voice. Someone took it, and then more hands joined in. He held his other hand out, and he felt more fingers close over the bandages. “And you won't. Hold their memory in your heart, and be the change in this world you want to see. Donate to animal rescues,” Koji. “clean rivers and fund national parks,” Asui. “support farmer markets,” Sero. “make someone smile,” Ashido. “make someone laugh.” Kaminari.

“Move forward, learning from your mistakes and being the best person you can be. That's what being a pro-hero is about.”

“Plus ultra.” Someone whispered, the class murmuring in agreement.

Shouta smiled. “All of you go home, go out and be productive and stop wasting your time. You’re not doing any good here. For now, let the police do their job and spend time with your loved ones.”

There was a chorus of “Yes, Aizawa-sensei” as the footsteps shuffled, though not out of the room (aside from Bakugou’s heavy stomping, which Shouta clearly heard leave the room). One by one each student approached for a hug, something Shouta honestly hadn’t expected or known how to react to. Tokoyami, Iida and Satou’s hug lasted a little longer, but Shouta didn’t hesitate to indulge those who clearly felt the most guilt in the class.  

Even Todoroki, a student Shouta knew didn’t like physical contact, reached out to touch his arm. “Thank you, Aizawa-sensei. I hope the police stop bothering you.”


Uraraka was the last one to leave, clutching his hand like a lifeline as she started to tremble. “I’m- I really wish I could hug you too Aizawa-sensei, but with this wheelchair I can’t- I can’t do anything- ”  

Shouta gently dropped his free hand on top of her head. “Stop. I don't tolerate defeatist attitudes from any of my students- if you want to do something, figure out a way to do it.”

“I can't-” Uraraka choked back a sob and shook her head. “It’s been so hard without you, Aizawa-sensei. I'm never going to walk again- I’m so afraid we’re all going to end up hating each other- and it- it just feels like nothing’s ever going to be okay again-”

“If you're going to be a pro-hero, you can't let any of that stand in your way.” He started, feeling Uraraka quiet herself in order to listen. “You can still use your quirk, can't you? Then use it, your keen empathy, and your cheerful strength to make things ‘okay’ again.”

Shouta shifted to his side, feeling for the side of the bed as he balanced on one arm, holding the other open in obvious invitation, “I've kept you in my class because of your potential. Don't let me down.”

He didn't hear her shift or activate her quirk, but he quickly felt arms latch around his neck with a sob he felt shake his soul. He held his grieving student until she let out a sharp gasp of breath and nearly pulled him onto the floor with her, just barely catching himself.

“I'm sorry-” Uraraka sniffled, letting go of his neck as he pulled himself back onto the bed. “I’ll do my best, Aizawa-sensei. I’ll try to keep the class together until you get back.” She took a deep breath as Shouta nodded once.

“I know Yaoyorozu already told you, but she meant it when she said we all know you’re innocent. And we’re going to help in whatever way we can. Even Officer Tsukauchi.” He imagined she tried to smile. “Thank you for being there for us when we needed you most. We’ll be back soon, okay?”

He didn't know what he could or should say to that.

Shouta listened to her roll out of the room and sighed. As relieved as he was to hear the voices of his students, the encounter left him drained. He tensed as he heard movement from the opposite wall, footsteps approaching him as their owner took a seat in the chair his students had blatantly ignored. Shouta needed only to hear the squeaking of leather to know who it was.

“Those kids really look up to you, huh Shouta?” Hizashi’s voice was quiet and small, so unlike himself Shouta was half tempted to ask what was wrong. His gut told him he was supposed to be angry at Hizashi for something.

“Go away.” He grimaced. “I don't have any energy left to deal with you.”

“No can do, Shouta.” He hated how amused Hizashi sounded, even as he quickly turned serious. “I'm your new 24/7 police-assigned guard, even though I kind of already was, but that’s what you get for letting weirdos into your room.” Hizashi chuckled at his own joke. “Tsukauchi didn't even want to let the kids come visit you, but man did they wear him down. If we thought Todoroki was stubborn, hell hath no fury like a worried cluster of teenagers.” Hizashi hummed. “...Well, I might have said a couple of things too. The kids needed this as much as you did.”

Whatever irritation Shouta had left faded into gratitude. “...How long have you been here?”

“I came in with the kids.” Hizashi answered, making himself comfortable with his usual amount of noise. How Shouta had failed to notice he was in the room baffled him. “Bakugou really did a number on your wall, by the way.”

“I couldn’t tell what he punched, but I’m glad it wasn’t a student.” Shouta sighed. “Why didn't you say anything? It’s not like you to be so...quiet.”

“Didn’t feel like it was my place.” Shouta pictured Hizashi shrugging. “Plus, it seemed like everyone had something they needed to air out. Thought it’d be best if they kept acting like I wasn’t around.”

“And you’re not going anywhere?”

“Sorry.” He could practically hear Hizashi’s grin. “I’m afraid you’re stuck with me.”

Shouta allowed himself to relax. “...I’m going back to sleep.”

“Night.” Shouta started to doze off, but he could still hear Hizashi’s whisper. “Get better soon, Shouta. We need you.”

Chapter Text

“Shouta!”

Hizashi burst into the hospital room with an energy and joy Shouta felt he hadn’t heard in ages. If he had the ability to do so, he would’ve glared at him for his unnecessary volume. “What?”

“You’re never going to guess who I ran into in the waiting room!”

Options rotated through his mind on who could possibly visit that would have Hizashi in such a state of excitement- Tensei or Nemuri, maybe?- and sighed. “Does it matter? I’m not allowed visitors anymore, remember?”

“I know, that’s why I just got off the phone with Tsukauchi!” Hizashi easily dismissed. “I managed to persuade him into letting this be a special exception and he agreed because you’ve been such a big help with the investigation lately. Anyway, this guy actually came to see you a while ago- but Shigaraki hijacked his visit, scribbled his name out of the guest check-in and everything. He figured he’d wait for all the commotion to die down before he tried to visit again, and now here he is!”

“Who?” Shouta asked impatiently, hating Hizashi’s incessant desire to build up suspense about anything and everything.

Someone cleared their throat.  “Hey, Aizawa-sensei. It’s been a long time.”

“Fujinuma?” Shouta sat up in his cot, turning toward the voice. “Fujinuma Satoru?

“I’m surprised you remember me.” Shouta remembered his voice as boyish and stubborn, but he sounded older now. Tired. “I guess it’s true, huh? You really never forget a face. Even the ones you expelled.”

“I remember the students who make an impression.” Shouta corrected. “Time manipulation quirks are even rarer than space manipulation quirks, and you remain the only person with a time quirk I've ever met. What are you doing here?”

“Well, certainly not because this is my hospital room. I already did my time.” Shouta heard chairs scraping the tile as Fujinuma and Hizashi pulled them closer to his cot. Fujinuma gave a short, incredulous snort. “Wow, you look exactly like how I remember you did. Except for the fact you're practically mummified and under suspicion of collaborating with the League of Villains. I would have never guessed.”

“Fujinuma!” It wasn't often Hizashi sounded angry, but even that sharp whisper was enough to have Shouta jolt uncomfortably, ears tingling.
 

“Oops.” Fujinuma didn't sound particularly apologetic, voice calm and apathetic as ever, “I didn't mean to say that out loud.”

Shouta let out a small chuckle, too drained to smile, “Your honesty always was your best and worst trait. You would have been a terrible pro hero with that kind of rescue manner.”

“Shouta!” Hizashi sounded scandalized, and Shouta could picture the look on his face perfectly.

Especially when Fujinuma let out a hearty chuckle, voice warm as he leaned back in the chair with a loud creak, “Yeah. You were right about that, sensei. Thank you for kicking me out of the hero program back then.”

Shouta raised his eyebrows instinctively, but he wasn't sure if the gesture could be seen past the heavy bandages. “You always were an odd one,” he sighed instead, relieved he couldn't see the expression on his former student’s face. “I've never been thanked for that before.”

“I suppose not.” There was something wistful about his tone, sounding old beyond his years. “Being a hero is about making difficult decisions in stressful situations, and the knowledge that you can't always save everyone. My quirk and personality were completely unsuited for general hero work, and it would have completely destroyed me. You were doing me a favor by letting me go before I managed to hurt myself or anyone else.”

“Is that a direct quote?!” Hizashi sounded surprised, although at this point he should have been used to this, “Shouta, you're too harsh!”

Shouta sighed, turning his face away even though he couldn't see either of their expressions. “I stand by my assessment: Satoru Fujinuma’s Quirk, Revival, is too powerful and unpredictable to be used lightly. By manipulating time to change the events of one moment, he could completely change the future in unexpected, dangerous ways.”

“I didn't understand back then- but I do now,” The chair scraped backwards as Fujinuma stood up, and Shouta was sure he was bowing apologetically in his direction. “Aizawa-sensei, you were right. I used my quirk to save my friends from a serial killer when I was a kid, and I think those actions helped create this current timeline. I want to set things right and prevent the USJ Massacre and murder of the Symbol of Peace.”

“Fujinuma, stop.” Shouta heard his former student suck in a sharp breath and could picture his wide eyes behind those square glasses he wore daily in class all those years ago. “If your actions in the past led to this outcome, what makes you think going back in time to fix it won't create an even larger disaster?”

Hizashi laughed- the kind he used as a coping mechanism when he was scared or nervous. “Sorry. That's not funny.” Hizashi cleared his throat. “It's, uh, hard to imagine things being any worse than they already are. I didn't want to tell you anything because I wanted you to focus on healing, but things are...pretty bad, out there.”

Shouta turned sharply toward Hizashi’s voice. He heard the chair squeak again, probably Fujinuma sitting back down, but chose to imagine it was Hizashi scooting back.

“Mic-sensei’s right. Now that there's no Symbol of Peace, crime has skyrocketed. The public’s trust in heroes was shaky after USJ, but now it’s non existent. There’s this psychopath who calls himself Stain that’s been going after heroes, but people talk about him like he’s doing something good! Like he’s totally justified in “purging” society. Worst of all he’s been gaining followers like he’s some sort of prophet. All Might and Thirteen weren’t the only ones who’ve fallen- and Stain didn’t even kill the most recent victims. I can't begin to give you statistics for civilian casualties, but I've heard it's even worse than before All Might's debut.” Fujinuma sighed deeply. “It's gotten so bad my mom wants me to move back to Hokkaido, but...”

Hizashi took over, resigned to the fact he couldn't keep hiding things from Shouta with Fujinuma around. His foot tapped against the floor in agitation. “UA’s taken a hard hit too. It’s closed for the ongoing investigation, but I know a lot of parents pulled their kids out of the school already. Some of your students included, I think.”

Shouta thought of Kirishima and wondered how many more would follow him. He couldn't blame them. Who would still want their child to attend a school that couldn't guarantee their safety?

“Aizawa-sensei, I used to think that with a rare and useful quirk like mine, I had to become a hero.” Fujinuma continued, shaking himself out of his melancholy. “You helped me realize that's not true. Even more important than a powerful quirk is knowing how to control it- and with Revival, that’s just not possible. I may have successfully saved my friends, but I still don’t know how to use it. To be completely honest, I haven’t used it since then. My actions in the past put me in a coma for years- even my mom wasn’t sure I was ever going to wake up, and she's the one who refused to take me off life support.”   

Shouta thought about Midoriya somewhere in the hospital, fighting to wake up from a coma of his own. Hizashi squawked a horrified “what?”

“But if I learned anything from almost dying, it's how important it is to ask for help. I know this is beyond anything I can do.” Shouta imagined he was bowing again. “Aizawa-sensei, I humbly request your help in fixing the current timeline. I truly believe this is the only course of action we have left.”

“So you can land yourself in another coma?” Shouta deadpanned. “You say you prevented a tragedy in the past, but at what cost? This is why you could never be a hero. You think there’s only one solution to every problem, that it’s all or nothing.”

“It's true that the serial killer went after different targets when we thwarted his plans.” Fujinuma conceded. “He was convicted of at least thirty murders while I was in a coma. Maybe those thirty wouldn’t have died- or maybe he would have killed even more. I don’t know. I do know that by using Revival, I saved my friends and he paid for his crimes.” Fujinuma answered defiantly. “I don’t care if I can’t be a pro hero. If I can use my quirk to make a difference, I’m satisfied. It was frustrating and painful when I failed, and even detrimental to my own health when I succeeded, but I can confidently tell you that the outcome is far, far better than the one before.”

Shouta briefly weighed the chances of successfully whacking Fujinuma. With any luck he could get Hizashi to do it for him. “If you came here to ask my permission, I won’t give it.” He replied. “Besides, you told me you think your actions in the past caused the current timeline. You just proved my point.”

“That's why I can't be the one to go back!” Fujinuma argued. “I'm not naïve enough to think I can fix everything. I wouldn’t even know where to start. That's why you need to do it, Aizawa-sensei.”

Shouta couldn't hold back an incredulous huff. “You want to send me back to an unknown point in time using a quirk you can barely understand or control? I see you’re still a terrible listener.”

“You couldn't possibly make things any worse than they are now. You’re a hero who can’t even use his quirk anymore.” Fujinuma immediately countered. Shouta pictured the glare Hizashi shot him and Fujinuma’s subsequent sheepish expression, but no apology followed.

“I thought you could only use your quirk on yourself?”

This time Fujinuma scoffed. “Give me some credit, Aizawa-sensei. I may not have been at UA for very long, but I learned a thing or two.” He paused. His next words were raw with painful honesty, reminding Shouta too much of his last group of visitors. “I can’t stand by and do nothing. When you started appearing all over the news it was so obvious to me you were being framed. I...I’ve already seen an old friend put on death row for a crime he didn't commit. I can't let that happen again sensei, not with you.”

Shouta became aware of how oddly silent Hizashi had become. He wasn't even fidgeting anymore.

“You should do it.” Hizashi conveniently spoke up. He was dead serious. “What more do we have to lose? If anyone can find a way to change the future without breaking reality or killing us all, it's you.”

“I'll tell you both exactly what ‘we have left to lose.’” Shouta didn't bother hiding his irritation. “Instead of seven casualties, there's 23. If there's zero casualties, seven completely unrelated people lose their lives in another incident. You don't know and you don't care, because you never bothered to think about the consequences of your actions.” Shouta shook his head. “You're wrong. You still don't understand. Maybe that's my fault for not being a better teacher, but I'm disappointed, Fujinuma.  You're as selfish, irresponsible and single-minded as you were when you were my student. It's a miracle you haven't hurt more people with your thoughtlessness.”

“Shouta...” Hizashi reprimanded, but Shouta wasn't sorry. If being harsh was the only way to make Fujinuma understand, he wouldn't hesitate to be the bad guy.

“So we're supposed to do nothing, then?!” Fujinuma raised his voice. “You're fine just sitting there while innocent people suffer while the world falls apart?! You're fine wasting the opportunity to do something as things just keep getting worse?!”

“You are not a god, Fujinuma. This isn't your decision to make. ” Shouta replied calmly. “This is hardly the first tragedy the world has ever seen. Society will eventually recover, learn from its mistakes, and the world will find a new balance like it always has. It's doesn't make what happened easy or painless, but life rarely is. What makes this tragedy worth stopping more than any other? ”

“I know I'm not a god!” Fujinuma sounded exasperated. “I didn't ask to have this quirk, Aizawa-sensei. But like it or not I do, and because of that I always have to make a choice. The USJ Massacre's become a catalyst for what could be the end of hero society as we know it. Society will eventually stabilize, sure, but at what cost?” He echoed back pointedly. “Is any of this worth the blood that's already been spilled? That blood that will be spilled? Because I don't think it is.”

“Wow. Is it getting hot in here, or is it just me?” Hizashi broke the tense silence, shifting uncomfortably.

Fujinuma sighed. “Aizawa-sensei, I understand your concerns. Changing the past so the attack on USJ never happened leaves too much up to chance and creates room for an even worse massacre. But if there's one aspect of time I'm very familiar with, it's the butterfly effect: any action, no matter how small, can change the future. You don't have to stop the villains from ever attacking. You just have to mitigate the effects. Isn’t that what you taught me, Aizawa-sensei?”   

Shouta felt exhausted, a familiar feeling when trying to reason with Fujinuma. Few students enjoyed fighting him as much as Fujinuma did, who refused to back down once his mind was made up- one of the reasons Shouta had expelled him. The world didn't need another bullheaded hero that couldn't listen to others, even if he did make good points.

Despite himself, his resolve was starting to waver. By destroying his pocketbook, his students would have a much better fighting chance against the League of Villains. The simple action would cause a ripple effect that could change the timeline just enough to alter the series of events without causing a paradox by directly saving anyone, in turn creating a new, natural turn of events.

Thinking about the consequences of time travel was starting to give him a headache. Shouta was grateful his quirk had nothing to do with it.

“I know I wouldn’t be able to accept anything less than stopping the USJ Massacre altogether so no one gets hurt at all.” Fujinuma continued. “But you’re not a self-sacrificing, reckless guy like me. You’re always thinking two steps ahead. That’s why you’re the pro hero here, right?”

“Nah, that's more Shouta than a pro-hero thing. I don’t think I’d be able to accept anything less than that either.” Hizashi mused. “If I knew something bad was going to happen, I’d do everything in my power to stop it from happening regardless of the consequences too.”

“Thankfully for the rest of us, you’re not the one with Revival.” Shouta sat back against his cot, sinking into deep thought as he ignored Hizashi’s indignant ‘hey!’

“No offense Mic-sensei, but that’s exactly why I came to Aizawa-sensei first.” Fujinuma added, blunt as ever.

“Didn’t anyone ever teach either of you that if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?!”

“Both of you be quiet. I need to think about this.” 

Humoring Shouta's demand, Fujinuma and Hizashi started to quietly whisper to each other. Shouta could still hear them, starting with Hizashi’s “You can drop the ‘sensei’ you know, you’re an adult now.” to which Fujinuma responded with “Eraserhead and Present Mic sound too formal, and Aizawa-san is just plain weird. I don’t think I even know your civilian name?”

Shouta blocked out their voices in favor of seriously considering Fujinuma’s offer.   

He thought about Kirishima, so crippled with guilt he couldn’t face his teacher and pulled out of the school. Would he continue his hero studies elsewhere? Could Kirishima ever regain his lost confidence, to turn his sorrow into motivation, and become the great hero Shouta knew he could be? Shouta would never know.

He thought about his students, miserable and hopeless for being unable to stop the death of their peers. Their injuries- he still had no idea how bad they were. Midoriya hadn’t woken up yet, maybe he never would. Uraraka was in a wheelchair, never to walk again. Shoji mentioned losing some of his arms. What other injuries had the students sustained but didn’t mention? Could they still be heroes with those injuries? Could their lives ever return to a sense of normalcy?

He thought about Thirteen. A younger pro who had built up their reputation as a rescue hero, utilizing their destructive quirk to help others and a shining example that a quirk really was what its user made it out to be. They may have acted recklessly, but Shouta would never forget the way they stepped forward to face Kurogiri, intent on saving their colleagues and the students despite their lack of combat experience.

He thought about All Might. Regardless of Shouta’s personal dislike for the clueless and headstrong hero, the impact he had on society was undeniable. His very existence served as a deterrent to villains; his charisma and smile never failed to put people at ease. Of course his sudden death left a gaping hole in society that sucked everything into it, creating discord and anarchy.

He thought about Asui, Sero, Kaminari, Koji and Ashido, able to picture their smiling faces. They were young, optimistic, full of potential. They could’ve become great heroes- now they’ll never get that chance. Instead there were only five gravestones that left behind countless grieving faces.

Shouta froze. Had he missed their funerals?

“Have you successfully sent anyone else into the past?” Shouta spoke up, refusing to linger on the thought, as someone jumped in their chair. Probably Hizashi.  

“...No.” Fujinuma admitted. “Never had a reason to, but even if I did It seems...risky. I don’t know if I could bring them back.”

“What happens if you fail to alter the future?”

“In my experience? You’re sent back to the point in time Revival was used like nothing ever happened. That is, if nothing about the timeline changes.” Fujinuma hesitated. “Significantly changes, anyway. Timelines tend to fix themselves. Revival can also tell if you weren’t successful, so it sends you back to the future. Revival is....finicky.”

“There you go again, talking about your quirk like you're the passive observer.” Shouta muttered. “How many times have I told you your quirk is a tool that you need to master, not the other way around? You have been working on controlling your quirk, haven’t you? It’s an important skill, even for civilians.”

Fujinuma’s silence was answer enough. “It’s not like it forces me to do anything.” He protested. “Anyway, that’s beside the point. Are you done thinking about it yet?”

“No. What's stopping you from using Revival yourself?”

“I wasn't lying when I said I wouldn't know where to start- but it's because I literally can't. You already know Revival sends me back right before some sort of bad event I'm expected to stop, allowing me to prevent people from getting hurt or killed. In addition to that, Revival only activates when I'm around an event I have the power to change, but I wasn't at the USJ Massacre. Revival won't send me back because there's nothing I can do.” Fujinuma reluctantly acknowledged. “Mic-sensei wasn't there either. But you were. You're the only one who can stop it. Please , Aizawa-sensei.”

Shouta sighed for what felt like the thousandth time since being hospitalized; he really was the last resort. “I don’t like this plan- being sent into the past with a quirk you have little control over and zero guarantee will actually work leaves too much up to chance. But if you can actually pull this off and I succeed, the pros outweigh the cons. I'm confident I know a way to alter the timeline enough to prevent the massacre. I just need to be careful.”

“So you’ll do it?” Fujinuma sounded eager, moving his chair even closer to Shouta. “I can’t guarantee when exactly you’ll end up in the past, but I know you can figure something out, sensei.” A hand hesitantly gripped his wrist. “Three weeks should be enough, right?”

“You can do this, Shouta!” Hizashi encouraged, squeezing his shoulder. “The fate of the world depends on it!”

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Shouta muttered, bracing himself.

Despite the darkness of his vision, Shouta swore he saw a blue glow.

Chapter Text

Having never experienced time travel before, Shouta wasn’t sure what to expect. The blue glow gave him the impression the experience would have more to do with his senses, like the whoosh of time racing around him or goosebumps along his arms.   

There was none of that. One moment Shouta was blind and laying in a hospital cot, Hizashi and Fujinuma murmuring encouragements beside him, the next he wasn’t. He was on his feet rubbing his insanely dry, itchy eyes. His first thought was the discomfort of the bandages, but the itch felt like it was in his eye, irritatingly familiar, but his dry eye hadn’t been this bad in years-  

As he lowered his hands, he was assaulted by a barrage of colors and movements instead of the darkness he had been expecting. It took him a moment to adjust, but when he did his vision felt clearer and more defined than ever. Regardless of his newfound gift of sight, Shouta had to focus. 

Shouta noticed he was standing in the midst of a random group of teenagers. The teenagers were all wearing gym clothes from various schools, though some seemed to be wearing homemade “hero” outfits, ready for some sort of physical activity. Nobody was looking at each other, faces set with determination as they stretched and meditated in preparation for something. 

He stared at a long, black haired girl in a red track suit despite the warm weather, constantly tugging at her collar. Her red glasses kept slipping down her nose due to sweat as she shifted nervously, similarly sizing up her competition until she caught Shouta's eye. They kept staring at each other; her intense, amused gaze inspected him from head to foot reminded Shouta of Nemuri.

There was a guy with short black hair doing a variety of arm stretches, bizzare arrow-shaped eyebrows furrowed in deep concentration. When he noticed Shouta staring he immediately smiled and waved, making Shouta hastily look away. There was only one guy Shouta knew with arrow shaped eyebrows, so the kid had to be an Iida-

Wait. Was this the entrance exam? Shouta had been watching from the surveillance room, how did he end up proctoring one of the exam sites?

“Who are these kids?” Shouta muttered to himself, completely baffled as he scrutinized his surroundings. He, and the group of teenagers he was apparently apart of, were standing in front of the giant gate of one of UA’s training facilities- Ground Theta, one of Shouta’s favorites for its suburban environment, but not a location he had even been thinking about three weeks ago.  

“Hoo boy! Last part of the exam!” Shouta caught forced laughter from his other side, turning slowly as he was met with a face he only remembered from his memories and photographs. Short, upward blond hair, a high pitched voice, gaudy orange glasses- “Eyes on the prize Yamada! This is no time to be panicking!”

Apparently too obvious in his gawking, bespectacled green eyes snapped up to meet his. “Shoot, was I talking too loudly? Sorry, I didn't mean to distract you. I've gotta give myself little pep talks to stay focused." He chuckled nervously. "Best of luck to the both of us out there!” The blond offered a couple of sweaty finger guns.

Shouta could only nod dumbly.

They both jumped at the piercing sound of an air horn. The group swiveled their heads as a whole to look at an aged pro Shouta could only vaguely remember from the UA staff of his youth. “Well? Better hustle.”

“No countdown?!” The teen- oh who was he kidding, it was obviously Hizashi- cried as the group took off. Shouta followed on instinct, still feeling like he was living out a very vivid dream-memory. He remembered now. If that was Hizashi, the girl must have actually been Nemuri and the boy actual Tensei. There really only was one explanation.

“There's no countdowns in life, kiddo.” Shouta heard the teacher chuckle as he ran, feeling a strong sense of deja vu. Was Ground Theta always this big? Was he always this slow?

Shouta caught a glimpse of his reflection in a window as he ran and nearly tripped, saved only by Hizashi's gentle but urgent push to his back. Short, unkempt hair, horrible bloodshot eyes from constantly forgetting his eye drops, awkward proportions and overall shortness- he was a teenager. His suspicions were confirmed.

Revival hadn’t sent him back three weeks. It sent him back fifteen years .

“Hey, get it together man!” Hizashi’s concerned voice snapped him out of his shock. Hizashi took advantage of Shouta's surprise to pull ahead, giving him a look that was halfway confused and halfway weirded out. “This is no time to lose it! Freak out later , after the test! You can do it, quiet kid!” With that he took off.

There wasn’t a shadow of a doubt now that Shouta had been transported fifteen years in the past to his entrance exam into UA. The consequences of failure seemed heavier- would failing the exam alter his future completely?

Shouta shook his head and picked up the pace. No, he had to pass. UA had been such a critical point in his development as a person, in his career as a pro hero, in literally every aspect of his life- failure was not an option.

If only he could specifically remember what he did to pass the rigged exam fifteen years prior. Shouta knew the robots had hidden buttons to deactivate them to give those with non-flashy quirks a chance to pass, but unfortunately for teenage Shouta those hadn't been implemented yet. There wasn’t even a point system back then. And while normally Shouta could easily take down robots with his martial arts and capture weapon, he had little hope for the weak, untrained body of teenage Shouta, already starting to get tired just from running. He reached a hand to his neck, suddenly realizing it was weirdly bare.

As he wracked his brain for answers Shouta watched Hizashi, his blond hair easy to keep track of as he ran past destroyed robots and tried desperately to catch up to the other teenagers. Luckily for him, a robot darted out of an alley directly in his path.

Hizashi screeched to a halt, barely stopping himself from slamming right into it, and cried out in delight. Shouta finally noticed the absence of the speaker system around his neck, even the beta version he had as a highschooler. Without it, Hizashi's quirk was not only potent and dangerous, but highly uncontrollable.

He watched in horror as Hizashi cupped his hands around his mouth. He ran as fast as his teenage legs could carry him as he cursed Hizashi's teenage stupidity for thinking hands could replace a directional speaker. Hizashi released a very loud, no holding back “YEAH!” that shook the entire facility. Shouta covered his ears, thankful for the pro hero instincts that pushed him forward despite the pain. He barely managed to tackle Hizashi out of the way of a crumbling building.

Shouta covered their heads, forcing Hizashi to stay down and wait as the facility crumbled around them, like they were waiting out a particularly strong earthquake. When the world finally stabilized Shouta lifted his head first to survey the damage, scowl deepening as he realized Hizashi had achieved his goal of destroying the robot- but took down most of the fake residential area with it.

He looked to his side. Hizashi was curled up into a fetal position with his arms over his head, eyes clenched shut. Shouta smacked him, watching dispassionately as Hizashi yelped and sat up. “Ow! What was that for?!”

“You idiot.” Shouta snapped, gesturing to the wreckage around them. “Don't you know how strong your own quirk is?! Look at this mess! Who knows how many applicants you injured with your recklessness? Have you no sense at all?!”

Hizashi looked properly cowed as Shouta stood up, brushing off debris. “Get up. We're going to look for and help the wounded.” He took further satisfaction from how quickly Hizashi scrambled after him as he stalked across the ruined street, fuming. This was why he hated the practical exam. It rewarded strength and mindless destruction, encouraging behavior unacceptable for future pros. Teachers like Shouta would then be stuck trying to curve those behaviors.

Hizashi probably wouldn't even receive a slap on the wrist. The thought made his blood boil like nothing else.

He walked until they came upon another collapsed building. “Here,” He reached back to grab Hizashi’s arm and pulled him forward. “use your quirk for something useful. Think you can call to see if anyone’s in there without destroying the neighborhood again?”

“Uh, sure.” Hizashi’s voice was self-consciously quiet as he cleared his throat, putting only the slightest bit of his quirk into his voice. “Is anyone trapped over here?!”

“Yes!” A muffled voice immediately called back, sounding very disoriented. “I think I hit my head.”

“Stay calm and don't move.” Shouta called back, finding that people reacted better to simple and direct orders when in shock. “We'll get you out. Can you keep talking so we can find you? What's your name and quirk?” He started carefully climbing the debris towards the voice as he spoke, Hizashi following close behind.

“Uh, Hinotori.” The voice paused. “My quirk is called Phoenix- it lets me set myself on fire, which heals my body from any sickness or injury. Kinda like a snake when it sheds its old skin. So once you get me out of here, I'll be good.”

Something about the name and quirk sounded familiar but Shouta didn't have time to wonder why. Pinpointing his general location, Shouta started tossing rocks aside. Hizashi immediately started helping, always a fast learner, and mercifully took over questioning. “That's really cool! You're kind of invincible, huh?”

The voice laughed weakly. “I don't feel very invincible right now. Shit, it really hurts...” Shouta didn't like how the voice trailed off, glaring at the rocks.  

“Hinotori, keep talking.” Shouta demanded, frowning as he received no response. “Damn it.”

“Hinotori? You still there?” Hizashi tried, putting a bit more of his quirk into his voice as he grew worried. His movements became frantic, tossing debris this way and that with little regard to where it ended up- in other words, counterproductively panicking. “Talk to us man!”

“Hiza-” Shouta cut himself off, remembering that to this Hizashi he was still a stranger. Hizashi was thankfully too busy panicking to notice Shouta's slip-up. “...Blond...guy. Calm down.” He tried, speech painfully stilted.

“Oh my god. I killed someone.” Hizashi sat back, on the brink of tears as Shouta rolled his eyes.

“He's not dead, probably just concussed- there.” Shouta found a piece of a shirt that, with a little more digging, turned out to be an arm. Together they managed to uncover Hinotori, but Shouta hesitated in pulling him out. Hinotori didn't describe how his quirk worked, what was keeping him from bursting into flames? Where Shouta figured this out by touching his too-warm clothes, Hizashi made the mistake of touching his exposed arm and yelped.

“Ow! That is not cool.” Hizashi shook his hand and cradled it to his chest. “How are we supposed to check his pulse to find out if he's breathing?! What if we're too late? He's going to die here and it's going to be all my fault!”

Shouta forced himself to remember this Hizashi was just a teenager, twice as melodramatic as his adult self. Best to ignore him. He activated his quirk and reached a hand out, pleased to find Hinotori’s temperature back to normal. His eyes started burning, forcing him to drop his quirk with a pained hiss. He pressed his palms against his eyes, desperately hoping that with enough force the discomfort would go away.

Right, they'd been hurting earlier. He patted his pockets but came up frustratingly empty.

“I forgot my eyedrops.” He realized with a start. How could he possibly forget them on one of the most important days of his life? He mentally kicked himself and cursed his own teenage stupidity.

“Quiet kid! We did our best!” Hizashi wailed, pulling Shouta into a hug. “We let someone die and we've probably failed, but the exam’s almost over so at least the teachers can take over!”

“I'm not crying.” Shouta snapped, blinking the spots out of his vision. His eyes watered from the pain and the force he put into rubbing his eyes. Squinting, he broke free from the hug and turned to the blur he knew was Hizashi. “We're going to have to be quick- you need to pull him out while I erase his quirk.”

“B-but-”

“Hey.” Shouta blinked until his eyes focused and put a hand on Hizashi's shoulder. He pretended he was talking to one of his students, not his best friend of fifteen years, which made things a lot easier. “An injured civilian needs us. No matter how scared or upset you are right now, it's a hero’s duty to help those around them first. Now focus, I can't do this alone.”

Hizashi hesitated for only a moment before he nodded and moved into position by Hinotori’s head. Shouta closed his eyes to prepare himself, willfully suppressing the pain and discomfort of his dry eye. His quirk was going to bend to his will, regardless of bodily limitations.

“Quiet kid,” Shouta opened one eye to see Hizashi smiling encouragingly at him. Hinotori’s body started to smoke. “you can do this. And so can I! I'm not gonna let you down! This is what being a hero is all about, yeah! We actually make a pretty good team, don't you think?!”

Shouta snorted and closed his eye again. “The second I open my eyes, pull him out.” He waited a few seconds before snapping his eyes open, flashing red as his hair rose into the air. It was agonizing to keep his eyes open but Shouta didn't blink until Hizashi gently lay Hinotori down. As soon as the injured student was out of danger, he pressed his palms to his eyes with another pained hiss.

Conveniently, Hinotori’s body burst into flames the second Shouta lifted his quirk.

“Quiet kid, I'm going to buy you all the eye drops in the world.” Hizashi’s voice was filled with awe and admiration as he slung an arm around Shouta. “We're so cool! Go team!”

An announcement echoed through the facility about the exam being over, but when Shouta tried to open his eyes again he found he couldn't. He wasn't standing anymore either, laid up in an uncomfortable cot with beeping machines surrounding him and a pain dulled by pain killers pulsing through his head and torso. At least his eyes didn't itch anymore.

“Three weeks should be enough, right?” A young man- Fujinuma, Shouta remembered- stated as a hand gripped his wrist. 

“You can do this, Shouta!” Hizashi encouraged him with a squeeze to his shoulder. “The fate of the world depends on it!” Hizashi tried to let him go but Shouta's free hand shot out, keeping him in place. “Ow, ow-! Gentle Shouta, I know you’re nervous but don’t take it out on me!”

“You are such an idiot, Hizashi Yamada.” Shouta snapped, feeling Hizashi's hand freeze. “I can't believe you walked onto Ground Theta, unleashed your quirk at the top of your lungs and thought there wouldn't be any repercussions. For such an intelligent man, I've never met anyone more stupid. What the hell were you thinking?”

“Hey!” Shouta pictured Hizashi’s offended expression to match his offended tone. “I only did that once. At least I didn't disappear for four days straight, making everyone think I died. Sensei was worried enough he went to your house only to find you sleeping in an exhaustion-induced coma! Don't give me that holier-than-thou bullshit. I know all your dirty secrets too!”

“No, you just tried to kill your fellow applicants. I, on the other hand-”

“If you finish that sentence I will strangle you with your bandages. Do you have any idea how many heart attacks you've given me throughout the years with your stupid stunts?! You're giving me white hairs!”

“I told you a million times, it doesn't count if it's just one.” Shouta ignored Hizashi’s sputtering in favor of turning his head toward Fujinuma. “You sent me back fifteen years, Fujinuma.”

“Hm.” Fujinuma didn't sound nearly as surprised as he should have been. “Fifteen years? Revival only sent me back that far once- well, twice technically- to prevent a tragedy. Aizawa-sensei, did you prevent a tragedy?”

“I kept Hizashi from being stupid and killing everyone, including himself, but I’m guessing since I’m back here I did the same thing fifteen years ago.”

“Huh.” Fujinuma sat back in his chair, stumped. “Why would it do that...?”

Shouta turned to Hizashi, curiosity getting the better of him. “What happened to that guy we saved during the entrance exam?...He didn't actually die, right?”

“Huh? Oh, Hinotori? He's still alive and kicking, not to worry- but he didn't pass. Not that he wanted to- apparently being saved by us was enough to make him decide he didn't want anything to do with the hero business. I think he's settled down over in Nagoya now? He hasn't missed a year sending us a New Years card yet.” Hizashi hummed. “I think he thinks we're married since all his cards are addressed to ‘The Yamada-Aizawas.’ Maybe your name would come first if you ever bothered to, you know, reach out to people.”

Memories of sorting through New Years postcards and coming across Hinotori’s name came to mind, but it disturbed Shouta that he couldn't remember if it was a new development or not. Had he changed history? Apparently nothing drastic enough to avoid being sent back where he started.

“Yeah, I'm pretty sure I would've failed the practical exam without you, Shouta.” Hizashi’s tone turned nostalgic. “I know for sure you're the reason Rescue Points ever became a thing, or else neither of us would've passed. Or Nemuri. Or several of our other classmates. Hell, even Tensei had the chance to shine. I was so proud of us until Tensei had to go show us up by rescuing like six people.”

“They still let you in after all that?”

Hizashi chuckled nervously. “Yeah, I could hardly believe it either. I wiped out half the fake neighborhood, injured a fair number of applicants and destroyed a lot of robots...I guess UA figured they should teach me how to properly use my quirk before I actually killed someone.”

“They should have used it as an opportunity to restructure the whole entrance exam, like I've been telling them to do for years.” Shouta muttered, a longstanding fight he had with the school committee. “...But I guess it was a good thing for me that you were so reckless. I didn’t even have my capture device back then. What was I possibly planning to do against robots? Stupid ...”

“I hate to interrupt your reminiscing,” Fujinuma coughed awkwardly. “but society's still crumbling.”

“Did you figure out what went wrong the first time?”

“I have no idea.” Fujinuma bluntly admitted. “Revival must have decided there was something more important you needed to do. I guess. Oh, I’ve found it reacts to strong emotions, especially guilt. Was there something you heavily regretted from fifteen years ago?”

“Absolutely nothing about my highschool days was on my mind when you used your quirk on me.” Shouta responded dryly. “And even if it was, I don’t know why it would be during my UA entrance exam. Whatever happened, I ended up passing. Why would I end up regretting it?”

“...Well, I’m out of ideas.” Fujinuma gave up. “Like I said, Revival kind of has a mind of its own. Let me try again, Aizawa-sensei. I think I’ve got it this time.”

“Maybe it’s like in fairy tales.” Hizashi mused. “You’ve got to really, really want it. I don’t think you’re believing hard enough, Shouta. Do you really, really want to go back in time?”

“That’s stupid.” Shouta shot down impatiently, turning to Fujinuma. “What makes you think it’ll work this time?”

“Just do it, Shouta!”    

“You know, it wouldn't hurt to try.” Fujinuma sounded amused. “Think about a really specific time; where you were, what you were doing, who you were with- any detail helps. ”

Feeling ridiculous, Shouta complied. “Fine. There is nothing I currently desire more than going back to the day before the start of this school year’s first semester.”

“Yep, I can really hear the passion in your voice.” Hizashi teased as Shouta felt Fujinuma grip his wrist. The hand on his shoulder returned. “...Still, you're pretty lucky. I wish I could go back to highschool. Things were a lot simpler back then.”

Shouta frowned as a thought occurred to him. “Fujinuma-”

Too late. Blue enveloped his vision once more.

Chapter Text

Shouta was starting to learn if Revival was successful by the discomfort in his eyes. Although his dry eyes had been an unfortunate side effect of his quirk for a long time, it seemed particularly irritating and obvious whenever Fujinuma sent him back. Was it because Shouta had no feeling in his eyes with the USJ injuries? He wondered if he still had eyes at all under the bandages.   

He wasn’t given time to think about it as he started to slump forward, threatening to fall over just as someone caught his shoulders. When he opened his eyes, he was met with Nemuri’s concerned expression inches from his face. She was frowning at him, hands moving from his shoulders to gently combing through his hair as if looking for head injuries.

“You are so stubborn, Aizawa.” She scolded, smacking his shoulder lightly. “You really won’t go see Recovery Girl unless you’re dying, will you? Stubbornness is only sexy when it’s determination, not stupidity.”

Shouta pushed away from her and frowned, admittedly feeling lightheaded. “Determination and stupidity walk a thin line to begin with. Anyway, I’m fine- I just need some water.” Nemuri pushed a water bottle into his hand with a threatening look. It was unnecessary, Shouta readily drank half the bottle.

His own teenage stupidity never failed to surprise him. At least, Shouta realized as he patted his pockets, he remembered his eye drops (and ear plugs?). He squeezed a few drops in each eye for good measure.   

“You're a mess.” She commented flatly. “I don’t think you realize how hard that 1-B kid hit your head during the last match. You went down for at least three seconds.” She held up three fingers for emphasis. “Your eyeballs are gonna pop out any second and you're going to deserve it for being such a stubborn ass.”

He would have rolled his eyes if they didn’t hurt so much. Hizashi and Nemuri were exactly the same- trying to be as annoying as possible to trick him into taking care of himself. It wasn’t going to work this time, though. He couldn't afford to miss whatever event Revival sent him back to fix.

“1-B kid?” He took in the cheering crowd filling the stadium. His eyes landed on the large screens displaying the current results of the tournament, noting with satisfaction he'd made it to the finals. Whoever won the next round would be his opponent, then.

“See, I knew it! You've got amnesia!” Shouta regretted saying anything as Nemuri immediately launching into a worried lecture. “That’s what you get for getting cocky. I know your whole thing is erasing people’s quirks and taking advantage of how helpless they are without it, but you know you’re not the only one who can still fight without his quirk, right? Especially that 1-B guy. I mean, blood quirk or not, you got a look at those muscles up close. He meant business.”

She poked him with one of her manicured nails until Shouta grudgingly looked at her. “But that's not important right now! Who am I? How old are you? Who was the first president of the United States?!”

“You're Kayama Nemuri, I'm guessing fifteen or sixteen, and...Washington? What does that matter? We're still in Japan, aren't we?” Shouta caught her hand when it became clear she wasn't going to stop poking him. Did they take a class trip to the US? Judging from Nemuri's expression, he was reading way too much into the question. He probably sounded crazy.

Shouta sighed. “Look, I meant it when I said I was fine. I wouldn’t go into my final match if I wasn’t at 100%.” Nemuri, surprisingly, was not convinced. There was only one option left, or else Nemuri would never let him know peace: compromise. “Fine. If it makes you leave me alone, I'll go see Recovery Girl right after this match.”

“...Promise?” Shouta released her hand as soon as he started talking, but Nemuri held it in place. He remembered doing the same thing to Hizashi and wondered if it was a habit he adopted from Nemuri.

“I promise.”

“I'm holding you to that.” Nemuri finally released him and leaned back in her seat. Shouta couldn’t afford such luxury, wishing he had some sort of hint on what to look for. “By the way, you're such a dick. I thought it was really weird they let you compete with a scarf, but I can't believe it was an actual support item! ‘Early birthday present knit by your grandmother’ my foot! You played us all for suckers, but you're the one who sucks! A lot!”

Shouta, used to people mistaking his capture device for a scarf, automatically moved to correct her until he touched the material himself. It really was hand-knitted from yarn, with a distinct old-people smell Shouta instantly recognized as his grandparents. His grip loosened as he was hit with a wave of nostalgia.

He unwrapped the long, black scarf that probably took his grandmother ages to complete. At one end of the scarf was a lovingly knitted cat head he could loop the scarf through. It was the exact same scarf he kept in his closet as an adult, where it remained, untouched, after his grandmother’s funeral. He forgot how soft it felt.

Still, sentimentality aside, it was a terrible substitute for his capture device. Memories of the yarn getting caught on everything and the difficulty of controlling such stretchy fabric, thereby causing Shouta to strangle himself several times, flooded back to him. It was honestly more hazardous than helpful, but he couldn’t deny how important it had been in the eventual development of his capture weapon.

Lost in his memories, it took Shouta a while to realize Nemuri was still talking. “-bad boys like you should be punished.” Nemuri huffed. “Hey, why didn't you use it during the first trial? You were like, this close to not passing.”

“The purpose of the first trial is to introduce everyone’s quirks to the spectators and eliminate the people who don’t care about competing.” Shouta spoke slowly, trying to remember what the first trial was, much less how he passed it. Probably the same way he passed through the heroics course: by swifty and subtly taking out the opposition. “If I used my...scarf...that would give away the element of surprise. I had to save it for the actual tournament.” Right on cue, the announcer called the next contestants to enter the arena.

“Look!” Shouta grunted as Nemuri dug her elbow into his side. “There’s Yamada! Aww, look he’s waving at us. Doesn’t it make you feel like a proud parent?” She waved back, missing Shouta’s grimace. “Kick his ass, sweetie!” She yelled as Shouta debated moving into the empty, probably Hizashi’s, seat beside him.

“Who’s he fighting?” He asked instead, drawing a blank as he inspected Hizashi’s opponent. He was tall and well built, the beginnings of a beard growing on his face as he walked onto the platform with a smile on his face. There was a weird device around his neck that seemed to be full of water and his ears were replaced by fins. A fishman through and through.

“Aizawa, honey, I know you live under a rock but even you should know the guy who placed first in the practical exam.” Nemuri mused, giving him a unimpressed look. “That’s Hirosaki from 1-B. His quirk takes particles of water in the air and turns them into powerful water attacks- I hear he’s especially scary during the rainy season.” She nodded sagely. “He’s also been a hot topic in school gossip for managing to get into heroics alongside his girlfriend, whom you should definitely know-”

“BEAT IM’ TO A PULP, BABY!” A voice screamed from behind Shouta, scaring the living daylights out of him as he turned to glare at the short, enthusiastic girl standing on her seat. She had her hands cupped around her mouth, decked from head to toe in...Hydra merchandise? Who the hell was-

“I see you’re admiring my handmade Hydra merch, Aizawa!” Shouta found the loud girl’s gaze suddenly pinned on him, grinning widely and enjoying the height advantage standing on a chair gave her. “I’ll be happy to take pre-orders for merchandise of the future Number One hero, if you’d like! Better do it now before he becomes too popular and everything sells out!”

“Sakuko, we know you’re very excited your boyfriend made it this far, but stop standing on the chairs! It’s dangerous and the rest of us can’t see.” For a brief moment Shouta swore Tenya Iida managed to travel back in time with him before realizing he was staring at Tensei, who had the exact same disapproving scowl.

“There’s a person in the seats below us with an air manipulation quirk that could catch me if I did fall, but fine! I’ll just move to the front!” Sakuko leapt over the seats into Hizashi’s empty spot, nearly kicking Shouta in the face. Of course, it was all coming back to him. How could he have forgotten the rambunctious vice president of 1-A? Despite having a tame, simple detection quirk that could tell the quirk and location of people around her at a certain distance, her personality was anything but.   

Now that he thought about it, Hizashi was right. Nemuri and Sakuko both had quirks, like his, that would’ve made passing the practical exam nearly impossible. Hizashi’s careless blunder had turned into a window of opportunity for more people than any of them had realized.

“The match’s starting!” Sakuko announced, unable to stay seated as she leaned precariously over the railing to scream encouragement. Shouta took one look at her and decided she would be fine, instead focusing on the match with crossed arms.

He was pleased to see Hizashi wearing a rudimentary version of his directional speaker system around his neck. It was far from perfect knowing the speaker Adult Hizashi carried around, but at least it served in helping Teenage Hizashi regulate and aim his dangerous quirk. It was already a drastic improvement from the reckless, excitable boy he met at the entrance exam.

Nemuri tapped him on the shoulder and gestured to the earplugs she was currently wearing. Right, Hizashi was still learning how to handle his quirk. Shouta fished the ear plugs from his pocket and put them in.

An air horn sounded, signifying the start of the match. Hizashi’s strategy was always hit hard, fast and first, immediately releasing a powerful yell that made Shouta feel sorry for the portion of the audience sitting behind Hirosaki. Hirosaki decided the same approach was his best bet and released a concentrated burst of water at Hizashi, rushing to cover his his ear(fin?)s as the sound waves shook everything around him.

At the same time, Hizashi was helpless to stop the barrage of water that ended up hitting him in the face, and because he was mid-scream, right into his mouth. He doubled over coughing as Hirosaki tried to shake off the shock.  

Hizashi recovered quickly, firing off another shout and preemptively jumping out of the way of another barrage of water, which Hirosaki countered by making the barrage of water come from a different direction. The benefit of water particles being everywhere.

It took Shouta a second to realize Nemuri was staring at him, leaning forward in order to force Shouta to look at her. He wondered how long she had been creepily staring at him before reminding himself he really wasn’t one to talk. She gave an exaggerated grin, pointed to it, then pointed at Shouta in obvious curiosity.

Shouta hadn’t even realized he was smiling, but he was more taken aback by Nemuri’s gestures. Were the ear plugs really that effective? He experimentally removed one and winced at the pain of Hizashi’s quirk and the audience screaming along with him, quick to pop the ear plug right back in. He pointedly refused to acknowledge Nemuri’s unimpressed look for his momentary lapse in judgment and instead nodded to a soaking wet, miserable Hizashi.

Nemuri giggled. She pointed at Hirosaki, then at the water bottle Shouta was still holding, then at Shouta himself. The message was clear: that’s going to be you next round .

Shouta rolled his eyes and turned back to the fight.

The match continued at an impasse until Hizashi, predictably impatient, bit the bullet and went for a bold charge forward. Hirosaki was still reeling from his latest attack and it seemed like the best time to go for it, but Shouta shook his head. Hirosaki may be in pain, but he was staying suspiciously still, almost like he was waiting for the right moment...

Nemuri started shaking him in her excitement, which Shouta endured silently. Hirosaki was toeing the boundary line, one little push away from total victory- if it weren’t for the obvious trap that was the giant water bubble suspended in the air above them. Shouta waited until Hizashi reached the spot right under the water bubble to tap on Nemuri’s hand and direct her attention upwards.

Hirosaki lowered the water bubble at just the right moment, but where Shouta had expected the bubble to burst like a water balloon it simply absorbed Hizashi into it. The look on his face was priceless, confused and indignant with his cheeks puffed out with air like a hamster. It would have been hilarious had Shouta not known what was coming next, quick to cover his ears- but he, and the rest of the stadium, were still unprepared for the sheer level of noise that was a panicking Hizashi Yamada using his quirk at full volume.

The bubble popped but Hizashi didn’t notice, eyes squeezed shut and focusing on putting everything he had into his scream. The stadium shook with the force of his voice as everyone moved to protect their ears.

Shouta saw Sakuko start to teeter over the edge and wrapped his scarf on instinct around her waist, instantly regretting it as he gagged. He was fast enough to get to his feet and pull her back to safety with his arms, gritting his teeth at the intensity of Hizashi’s sound waves. He noticed the walls of the stadium start to crack.

Concerned with the safety of the spectators, Shouta didn’t hesitate to activate his quirk on Hizashi. The vibrations stopped in proof of his success as Hizashi immediately touched his neck with an alarmed expression.

The water filter around Hirosaki’s neck, and presumably gills, was shattered, but Hirosaki was quick to use his quirk in order to keep from suffocating. He recovered enough to dash forward, water collecting in his palm to hurl at Hizashi just as a loud air horn pierced the air, signalling the end of the match.

Sighing in relief, though he dropped his quirk almost immediately after activating it, Shouta slumped back in his seat and removed the ear plugs. There was a flurry of commotion on the field as Hirosaki was hurried off to Recovery Girl, probably to replace his water tank, while Hizashi was pulled aside by the referee. Shouta just so happened to make eye contact with the piercing gaze of the referee himself, the same aged pro that oversaw the practical exam, as he raised a hand to his headset and started talking. Iron Dragon or something? Why was he-

A sharp elbow jab to his side jolted him harshly from his thoughts as Nemuri leaned into his personal bubble. “ Aizawa ,” She hissed, angry and shocked. “did you just use your quirk?!”

“I had to.” Shouta blinked, gesturing to the wall behind the referee where a large, ugly crack had developed. “The match was reaching a point where it threatened the integrity of the stadium. It needed to be stopped.”

Tensei was suddenly in the seat behind him, his own expression grave. “Aizawa, you’re not the referee. That wasn’t your call to make.”

Before he could argue, Shouta winced as he felt a heavy hand land on his shoulder.

“Aizawa.” Shouta was greeted by the disappointed expression of a pro he hadn’t seen in years- the Chivalrous Hero himself, Crimson Riot. Also his homeroom teacher. Crimson Riot, usually nothing but smiles and words of encouragement, was strangely stoic. “Come with me.”

He immediately complied, ignoring Nemuri’s concerned gaze following him. They walked in complete silence as Crimson Riot led him down a couple of hallways to where Hizashi and Iron Dragon were waiting, the former looking like he was barely restraining himself from outright lunging at Shouta. Everyone was glaring at him.

It slowly started to dawn on Shouta the severity of his thoughtless action.  

“Aizawa Shouta.” Iron Dragon crossed his arms, leveling Shouta with a hard glare. “Did you deliberately interfere with an official Sports Festival match by using your quirk on Yamada Hizashi?”

“Yes.” Shouta replied, straightforward and honest. There was no point in lying or trying to talk his way out of it. Hizashi’s eye started twitching.

“Do you really find your teachers so incompetent we wouldn’t stop a match if we thought it was going too far?” Iron Dragon asked, gearing up in obvious anger. Shouta braced himself for a lecture, but to his surprise Crimson Riot stepped forward. His heavy hand gripped Shouta’s shoulder once more.

“Wait. Let’s hear what the boy has to say first.” Shouta looked up, but Crimson Riot wasn’t looking at him. “Aizawa is a very smart, honorable young man. He must have had a good reason for doing something as drastic as interfering with a Sports festival match- please, Ryuji. You have every right to be angry, but I know my students.”

Iron Dragon glared at Crimson Riot, insult clearly on the tip of his tongue, before the anger seemed to drain out of him with a single, deep sigh. He rubbed his temple, suddenly looking much older, as he looked back at Shouta. “Fine. Aizawa, explain yourself.”

Shouta chose his next words very carefully, detached and with clinical precision. “Yamada Hizashi’s quirk, when unleashed at full volume, has been proven to level buildings, which he so aptly demonstrated during the practical portion of the entrance exam. I saw the walls of the stadium start to crack under the force of his quirk and became concerned for all the spectators. I reacted on instinct in what I believed was the best course of action to protect everyone else.” Shouta bowed as deeply as he could. “But I still recognize that I interfered in an official match when I did not have the authorization to do so. I’ll accept whatever punishment you deem fit.”

Iron Dragon exchanged another look with Crimson Riot. “...I see. Aizawa, Yamada, I want you both to wait here while I talk to your Homeroom teacher- stay here and don’t say anything until we get back.” He gave them a warning look as the teachers stepped aside, just far away enough to talk to each other without being heard while still able to keep Shouta and Hizashi in their sights.  

Shouta was happy enough to obey and wait quietly, but he knew a furious Hizashi would not. “What are you doing?” He whisper-demanded, giving Hizashi his best Disapproving Teacher Glare.

Hizashi, of course, didn’t listen. Mindful of the teachers within hearing and seeing distance, he slowly inched his way closer until he was standing beside Shouta. Every time Shouta tried to inch away he had to freeze as Iron Dragon or Crimson Riot looked over at them, rendering him helpless to Hizashi’s inevitable assault.

“Stop.” Shouta hissed, loudly enough Iron Dragon glanced suspiciously over. Hizashi stood still and smiled, but the second Iron Dragon looked away, Hizashi drew his leg back as far as he could to deliver a hard, solid kick to the back of Shouta’s knee.

Unable to stop a pained and startled yelp, Shouta dropped to one knee. By the time he looked up to Hizashi, eyes flashing red with righteous anger and scarf lifted off his shoulders, Crimson Riot and Iron Dragon loomed disapprovingly over him. Hizashi was conveniently standing where he was before, whistling innocently.   

Thankfully, both teachers were eager to finish up and decided not to acknowledge the childish petty fight Shouta was sure they were both fully aware of. Shouta quickly got back to his feet and awaited his verdict.

“You’re hereby disqualified from this year’s Sports Festival, Aizawa.” Iron Dragon declared simply before turning to Hizashi. “Yamada, you were already out of bounds before Aizawa erased your quirk, so I won’t be calling a rematch.”

He ignored Hizashi’s shocked look, pinning them both with a stern gaze. “I’m not going to waste everyone’s time with dealing out a punishment- that’s your teacher’s job, and we’ve already discussed how to address the root of the issue. But I will say this: I want you both to think hard about the proper place and time to be using your quirks. If you’re both aiming to be heroes, that’s one of the first things you need to learn.” Iron Dragon nodded to Crimson Riot. “See to it that they get it through their heads, Takashi.”

Hizashi looked like he was about to protest, probably that Shouta was the one who broke the official rules and yet he was being lectured too, but before he could say anything a hand pushed his head down to make him bow. The other hand forced Shouta to follow suit.

“Of course.” Crimson Riot bowed with them as Iron Dragon left. When he stood up, it was with an exasperated chuckle as he ruffled Shouta’s hair. “Aizawa, what am I going to do with you? There you go again, running off on your own and acting like you have to take on the world’s problems by yourself. Let us adults handle things every once in awhile, huh?” He sighed. “Sometimes you act just a little too much like a vigilante. You’re going to make my hair go white, and that’s impressive given that I use red hair dye.”

Shouta blinked, still processing what just happened. Disqualification from the Sports Festival? Was that it? If it had been one of his own students, interference in an official match could be grounds for suspension or even a ban from participating in the next Sports Festival.

Hizashi coughed, loudly and pointedly.

Crimson Riot sighed, scratching the back of his head. “So, supplementary lessons for the both of you. We’ll be drilling proper rules and procedures for quirk use for you Aizawa, and working on controlling and refining your quirk Yamada. Everyday after school until I see fit. Now go back to your seats and finish watching the festival. We’ll be having a longer talk afterwards- and I better not see either of you even think about using your quirks until then!” He gave them both a meaningful look before leaving.

Shouta waited, counting down from three before he was tackled by a livid Hizashi, easily catching the fist aimed for his cheek. “How could you, Shouta!” Although he had kept it together in front of the teachers, it was like someone flipped a switch. Hizashi’s eyes were glossy with angry tears. “You know how much this tournament meant to me! Who’s going to want to take on a guy with a flaky quirk?! You made me look like an idiot! You ruined everything! What am I supposed to do now, huh?!”

Blinded by rage, it was obvious Hizashi hadn’t been listening to a word of the conversation that happened right in front of him. Shouta resisted the urge to sigh.

“Acknowledge your defeat, learn from it, and try again next year.” Shouta replied easily, catching another fist aimed for his face. With both of Hizashi’s hands in his grip, Shouta held them firmly in place and narrowed his eyes. “Why do you think I used my quirk on you?”  

“Because you secretly hate me and want to see me fail?!” Hizashi winced as Shouta squeezed his fists and glared. “Ow! I don’t know! Jealousy? Anger? Somebody dared you to? Wait, somebody paid you to-”

“Hizashi.” Shouta couldn’t keep the exasperation from his tone. “Stop spouting nonsense and think. I’ll ask you again. Why do you think I used my quirk on you?”

Hizashi froze, stunned, as Shouta took advantage to dislodge him and put some distance between them with a well placed kick. Though Hizashi stumbled back, hand on his chest where Shouta kicked him, he was still staring at Shouta like he wasn’t quite sure he heard right. “...You called me Hizashi...”

“I’m going to hit you every time you dodge my question.” Shouta threatened, following up with a punch that Hizashi had the sense to dodge.

“I have no idea!” Hizashi was forced to dodge another punch, eyebrows furrowed in frustration. “You tell me, Shouta! Why did you get us both kicked out of the festival?! What could possibly have made you do something so-” He cut himself off, realization overcoming the irrationality of his anger. “You said you saw cracks.”

“Do you have any idea how loud and concentrated sound has to make a wall crack? How about how loud a sound needs to be to make someone's ears bleed? Do you know how easy it is to cause permanent hearing loss?” Shouta led each question with a punch or a kick, continuing to force Hizashi on the defensive.

It was Shouta’s turn to be furious. “You can't rely on the excuse everyone in your family is deaf anymore for your lack of control, Hizashi! You’re not a child. You have a responsibility to yourself, and everyone around you, to understand and control your quirk and, more importantly, to not be a danger. You’re in the best heroics course in the nation- take responsibility and actually work on fixing the problem instead of ignoring it for once in your life.”

“Don't you think I know all that?!” Hizashi spat, dishing out some attacks of his own. Though they hadn't known each other for long in this timeline, Shouta was pleased Hizashi had learned something about fighting without relying on his quirk. “It's really hard to turn off my quirk, okay?! I've been training really hard to control it- that's why I had the support department make me this heavy speaker!” Hizashi angrily gestured to it. “Excuse me if I happened to realize I was losing the match and panicked a little! You know I crack under pressure!”

“I'm not interested in your excuses, I want you to fix the problem.” With a few well placed combinations Shouta knocked Hizashi onto his back, keeping him pinned to floor with his shoe. “The referee was acting like he had everything under control and my intervention wasn’t necessary, but that’s a bold faced lie. The crack appeared behind him, there’s no way he would have noticed it- and maybe he eventually would have, but far too late to prevent the damage that would have already been done.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” Hizashi was breathing heavily and glaring at him, but his eyes weren't clouded by mindless fury anymore.

“You could’ve gotten people hurt, Hizashi. Killed, even. It would have been the entrance exam all over again, but even worse by involving innocent civilians- including children- and you. Didn’t. Notice.” Hizashi’s eyes widened, finally hit with the implications of the disaster they only narrowly avoided. “My disqualification is only so the school can save face from such a glaring security error. I don’t really give a damn about how they frame this whole thing- maybe they will blame my actions on jealousy. What’s important to me is that you understand why I interfered. Until you learn to control your quirk, I’m never going to sit by and let you hurt anyone else. As your friend- as a pro hero - I’m always going to be around to stop you.”  

“Excuse me?!” Hizashi balked. “You’re telling me, in a stadium filled with pro heroes- who are trained to spot disasters before they happen and react in a split second- only you noticed that? Some fifteen year old punk managed to do something that no pro in a stadium full of pros could do? That even the referee, whose sole job is stop that sort of thing- only you could do it? Please. You’re so full of yourself.”

Shouta pursed his lips. “Look, you're just a first year, aren't you? There's always going to be another ‘Sports Festivals’ to show off your quirk. Even if there wasn't, you demonstrated the raw power of your quirk during your match. Do you know what that translates to for recruiters? You have a powerful offensive quirk that makes you easily marketable and useful in a fight. A lack of control is easy to fix with training.” He tried not to sound too apathetic, but honestly. Teenagers, always acting like it was the end of the world.

“What is your deal, man?! You cuss me out and then you praise me?” Hizashi shot him a strange look. “Where do you get off acting like you know everything?”  

“Hizashi, I gained nothing from this. At worst everything thinks I’m a petty cheater, at best a rule breaker. My quirk is already perceived as weak, useless, and difficult to market- with this on my record, my chances of getting scouted are practically nonexistent. I’d be surprised if I got even a single offer.” Shouta paused. “I’m sorry.”   

Shouta removed his foot and offered a hand to help Hizashi stand.

Hizashi slowly accepted the outstretched hand, allowing Shouta to pull him up- only to pull Shouta into a headbutt, briefly making Shouta see stars. Before he could even stumble, Hizashi caught him in a one-armed hug. “That was for being an asshole.” Hizashi snorted. “I still don’t believe you, but I can appreciate your conviction even if you’re wrong. I’d say thanks for having my back, but honestly with friends like you who needs enemies?”

“I mean it. Learn to-” 

“Nope!” Hizashi slapped his hand over Shouta’s mouth. “Your talking-to-me privileges are revoked! I’m still so pissed at you. Don’t look at me, don’t talk to me, don’t even say my name for one week. Then, when you say good morning to me next Monday, maybe I’ll consider forgiving you. But don’t count on it.”  

Shouta rolled his eyes, muttering under his breath. “Teenagers...”

Just as Shouta thought they could make the peaceful, quiet trek back to their seats Hizashi shook him like a doll. “Oh!! Hey, why didn’t you tell me you could move your scarf?! I’m your friend! That is definitely important friendship information!" He paused. "Actually, no, wait, I’m mad at you. I don’t care.”

Shouta scoffed. “You could’ve been my opponent in the finals. Why would I give my strategy away?”

Hizashi put his fingers in his ears. “La-la-la! I can’t hear backstabbing friends!”

Shouta was going to be the bigger person. He was the adult here.

He settled for rolling his eyes again.

Shouta closed his eyes in a blink and found he couldn’t open them again, laid up in a familiar cot with an all too familiar pain.

“I directly interfered with the Sports Festival.” Shouta interrupted Fujinuma before he could say his usual line. “There is no possible way that didn't change the future. I refuse to believe it.”

“Oh, are you talking about the time where you betrayed me and embarrassed me in front of the whole country by erasing my quirk in the middle of a match? And you claimed you saw something that a whole stadium of pros didn’t even notice because you had some weird hangup over a wall even though you’re not an architect? That time?!” Hizashi recounted. “Nope, don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Didn’t work, huh?” Fujinuma concluded, cutting Hizashi off before he could keep reminiscing.

“No.” Shouta didn’t mean to sound quite so bitter, but he carried on. “I’ve failed twice. This is the second time Revival has sent me back, both times fifteen years ago.”

Fujinuma hummed thoughtfully. “If this is the second time you’ve made such a drastic time jump, Revival is doing it on purpose. The two events you’ve stopped so far must be interconnected somehow-”

“Hizashi. Both times I went back, I had to save Hizashi, and the people around him, from incidents related to his quirk.” Shouta looked in the general direction of Hizashi, who had once again gone suspiciously silent. “I’ve saved you a number of times.”

Hizashi snorted. “Saved? I think you mean stuck your nose in everyone’s business- except it was just my business, no one else’s. You need a new hobby, one that doesn’t involve sabotaging me.”

“If it’s as sentient as Fujinuma claims, Revival has been trying to tell me something.” Shouta continued, voice hard. “What are you hiding?”

“Wha-? How-? Me?” Hizashi sputtered indignantly, and Shouta could picture him with an insulted hand against his chest, “How rude! And completely baseless! Everyone has some high school regrets! Including you-”

“Why do you have so many regrets from high school?” Shouta didn’t let up from his relentless line of questioning, straining his ears for any sign of a nervous tic. If he could look at Hizashi, he would be able to tell immediately... “What are you trying to change?”

“I’m not the one controlling Revival!” Hizashi was still indignant, but there was a strange undertone Shouta couldn’t quite place. “It’s not like I’m telling it to send you back to highschool! That is the last place I would ever send you! All you’d do is tank my popularity!” Hizashi always exaggerated when he was nervous, and that joke seemed like a desperate topic change.

“You were popular in high school, Mic-sensei?” Fujinuma asked, amused.

“Of course I was!” He could practically hear the hair flip, but that might have been all the gel, “If Shouta is going to air all of my high school dirty laundry, then I’ll air his, too!” Deflection. “Did you know that-”

“Hizashi.” Shouta hated knowing something was very, very wrong and not being able to do anything about it. “What are you hiding?

Despite a long sigh, Hizashi didn’t miss a beat, “Fine. I can’t get anything past you, huh?” He heard the soft creak of leather, “Would you go get me some cheese crackers from the Lawson on the first floor? And one of those gross Pocari Sweat drinkable gel things for Shouta?”

There was a soft jingle, like someone catching a coin purse, “And get yourself something sweet too. But it’s gotta be under 1,000 yen because payday isn’t for another two weeks.”

“...Sure.” Fujinuma sounded nonplussed, slippers shuffling on the tile floor. The door squeaked slightly as it opened and closed, before there was silence. The atmosphere was heavy and charged, and Shouta didn’t like it at all.

“Hizashi-” He started to say, patience running thin.

“Tsukauchi needs to talk to you.” Hizashi blurted out in a stressed rush, “He needs to talk to you and he wouldn’t tell me about what and I’m really worried about it.”

That was unexpected. “Why would you be worried?”

"You should be more worried!” Hizashi was exasperated, and he heard the rhythmic tapping of feet. Hizashi was probably pacing. “Everyone’s still really worked up about USJ and everything else, and the police are really feeling the heat. What if they’re gonna try and use you as an example?”

The footsteps picked up. “I interviewed a judge on my talk show the other day, and she gave me a laundry list of offenses that would lock the perpetrators up for life. Maybe even the death penalty! ” Hizashi sounded nervous.

“What if they formally indict you, Shouta? What if they press all the charges they can because they can’t get a hold of the mastermind behind all this chaos, and they need some sort of win? You’re a pro hero and you’ve done a lot for them, there’s no way they would...” He trailed of meaningfully, swallowing hard, “Would they?”

Shouta shrugged, not sure what he was expected to say, “If I’m proven guilty in a court of law, then I will be punished according to the severity of the crimes. Pro Heroes are not above the law.” He scratched just under his eyes, over the bandages. “The charges-”

“You’re not guilty!” The bed vibrated and the walls shook, Hizashi’s quirk seeping into his voice in a moment of passion, “They can’t punish you for something you didn’t do! They can’t!”

The silence was charged and heavy.

“How do you know?” Shouta asked carefully, “How do you know I’m not guilty, Hizashi?”

He never answered. Just stomping, a door being thrown open hard enough it bounced back, and the sound of someone trying to fight off tears.

Chapter Text

Hizashi was hiding something.

Shouta had suspected as much for a while now, but their latest argument had given him such a bad feeling Shouta felt physically ill. Hizashi was undoubtedly worried and trying to look out for Shouta- in classic, unhelpful Hizashi fashion, but his behavior was still irritating and suspicious. Hizashi still refused to discuss USJ and pretty much anything going on outside the hospital walls.

Something had happened, and whether it was out of guilt or concern, Hizashi was too much of a coward to confess it to Shouta.

The issue was made worse because Hizashi was extremely , unnecessarily dramatic. Anything could have happened. Did UA permanently shut down? Did something else happen to the students? Did he forget to pay rent and got them evicted? Did he make sure someone was around to feed the cats?

...Holy shit, the cats. If either of the cats died out of negligence, Hizashi was going to join them in the afterlife, Shouta would make sure of it.  

“Shouta!” He was completely unprepared for Tensei’s cheerful greeting, a warm hand patting Shouta’s arm. He hadn’t noticed anyone entered the room. “It’s so good to see you! You look like you’ve seen better days- but I guess I’m not one to talk.” He laughed, loud and full of life in a way that was so typical Tensei.

“Tensei? What-”

“Hizashi had to step out for a bit, so I’m here as a substitute to keep you company. Something about you needing constant supervision? I know you got caught up in that nasty USJ Massacre business, but what’d you go and do this time, Shouta?” Tensei’s tone was obviously teasing, but the concern in his voice was undeniable.

“I’m the prime suspect of the police investigation. I’m surprised you haven’t heard about it, since I think it’s all over the news. But nevermind that- I need you to go to my apartment right now and make sure my cats aren’t dead, missing or injured.”

There was a brief pause before Tensei burst into laughter, much to Shouta’s annoyance. “I’m completely serious. That’s exactly the type of thing Hizashi would refuse to tell me. If there’s a single hair missing from their heads I’m going to kill him.”

“Okay,” Tensei wheezed. “Oh, Shouta. I’m glad you still have your sense of humor. Man, I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.” He sighed in contentment. Shouta imagined he brushed a tear out of his eye. “I can- oh wait, your apartment doesn’t have elevators, does it?”

“No. It’s an old building. Why?”

“I’m in a wheelchair?” Tensei sounded confused. “Oh, right. All the bandages. Well, when you get them off you can see this hideous, outdated thing for yourself-”

“The blindness is permanent.”

“...Oh. I’m sorry to hear that.” Tensei commented, genuinely apologetic, but before Shouta could wave him off he heard Tensei roll around around the room. “Can you hear it? These hospital wheelchairs are really squeaky. Can’t wait until they discharge me so I can commission my own.” He paused, adding softly. “It’s permanent too.”

An experienced pro hero like Tensei, wheelchair-bound? The villain attack must have been as serious as the one that left Shouta blind. “What happened? Hizashi didn’t tell me you were here too.”   

“Ah...yeah, I can see why he wouldn’t tell you. Stress is bad for recovery and all that. I’ve only recently been allowed to even leave my bed.” Tensei’s humor quickly disappeared. “Have you heard about the Hero Killer Stain?”

Shouta stiffened. “Tensei...”

“Long story short, he didn’t think I was a real hero so he made sure I’d never be able to do herowork again. So, here I am forced into early retirement just like you.” Tensei sighed, a heavy weight to it that betrayed just how hard he was taking it. “It’s...a lot of things, really, but it’s a shame. You and I were some of the good ones. Japan needs its pro heroes now more than ever.”

Retirement. Shouta hadn’t even thought about the implications of his blindness- he supposed it really was the end of his pro hero career. Was his teaching license also revoked? A slew of unpleasant questions assaulted him.

“But, not much we can do about that now. At least we're not dead! All we can do is keep healing and hope the world doesn’t fall apart before we try to rejoin it.”

Shouta agreed with the sentiment, but it just further strengthened his resolve to succeed in changing the past. It occurred to Shouta Tensei’s visit was a good opportunity to gather intel before using Revival again. “Tensei, can I ask for a favor?”

“As long as it doesn't involve buildings without elevators, shoot.”

Shouta's lips twitched upward. “You remember our high school days well, don't you?”

“I wasn't in the yearbook club for nothing.” Tensei sounded like he was grinning. “Reminiscing about the past to avoid thinking about the future, huh? That's fair. What about it?”

“Tell me about it. Please. Especially incidents involving Hizashi.”

“Hm...what didn’t involve Hizashi is a better question. Or you, for that matter.” Shouta could picture him furrowing his ridiculous eyebrows in thought. “Well, I'm sure you remember the big things, like how he destroyed Ground Theta during the entrance exam. You were adamant he almost killed everyone during the sports festival when we were first years, so you used your quirk on him during his semifinal match. Do you remember all the conspiracy theories we came up with because no one ever saw that crack you kept rambling about? Recovery Girl’s intern specialized in closing up wounds- but she never said her quirk only worked on organic matter, and Nemuri and I swear we saw her on the field while you and Hizashi were being chewed out.”

“There was a crack.” Shouta grumbled. “Of course UA would want to cover it up as soon as possible. That's their specialty- short term solutions that ignore the bigger problem.”

“Still mad about the structure of the entrance exam, huh?” Tensei said knowingly.

“It's been fifteen years.” Shouta muttered darkly. “Nedzu’s on my side, though. We'll get through to the stubborn, senile board members sooner or later.” Realizing he was getting sidetracked and knowing he could easily rant about the school board all day, Shouta refocused. “Tell me more.”

“More? Hm...Oh! Remember when Hizashi got an internship offer from that weird magician guy? He was super excited about it, and we had to spend ages trying to convince him not to do it. Then it turned out there was this whole scandal- apparently a villain was posing as a sidekick of that agency. To absolutely no one's surprise, it was the magician guy. Good thing Hizashi had us around to keep him from accepting sketchy offers, huh?”

Shouta hummed noncommittally. That sounded like the next likely incident Revival would send him back to stop.

“What else...well, there were a lot of smaller things. One time during training a cockroach landed on him and he ended up shattering all the windows in Ground Beta. Then there was that time he accidentally locked Crimson-sensei out on the roof, but no one realized he was trapped so he was stuck up there for hours. Then there was that time he got that terrible cold, sneezed in Recovery Girl’s office, and shattered all her syringes. And then there was that time- do you remember Sakamata? Gang Orca? Anyway, when we were first-years Hizashi saw him in the third-year Sports Festival and challenged him to see ‘who made the stronger waves’ so they went out into the garden- neither of them noticing Nedzu right between them, in the middle of gardening.”  

...Or maybe not. Hizashi had always been a mess, but Shouta didn’t realize quite how big of a trouble magnet he'd been as a high schooler. Any one of those seemingly harmless highschool shenanigans had the potential for disaster.

“Hizashi certainly made life exciting.” Tensei was laughing again, wrapping up the story with something about Nedzu going flying. “Now you, on the other hand, made life stressful . I don't want to say you're the reason Crimson-sensei retired as a teacher, but I certainly don't blame the guy. Between going missing for days because you'd fall into exhaustion comas and running off on your own on questionable missions as part of your work study- cough vigilante cough - nobody ever knew where you were- were you asleep? Kidnapped? Dead?” Tensei paused. “...Which kind of still describes you now, huh.”

“I heard that- I was never a vigilante. I've also gotten better at communication.” Shouta defended, ignoring Tensei’s disbelieving snort. “If you don't believe me, ask Hizashi. Or Nedzu. He made it part of my teaching contract.”

“Of course he did.” Tensei sighed, tone light. “...You know, your nurse told me you were having memory problems, but you seem to remember a lot.”

“It's getting better.” Shouta had no idea if Revival had anything to do with it. “But it's still not good enough. Memories are coming back to me, but not the ones that matter- I can't remember the events leading up to my injury. All I can remember is waking up here and the things people tell me, but even then I might forget them.” He gave a frustrated sigh. “It bothers me. What else have I forgotten?”

“Hey, hey. Don't start thinking like that, Shouta- this isn't your fault.” Tensei’s voice was firm with conviction, but Shouta couldn't bring himself to believe him. “That's the brain injury talking. They're tricky and unpredictable like that, but that doesn't make it true. Just take it slow, do what the doctors tell you, and your memory’ll be back to normal in no time. Lean on the people around you for support. That's what Hizashi, Nemuri and I are here for, right?” He paused. “You outgrew your vigilante phase, didn't you? Please tell me you outgrew your vigilante phase.”

“You too.” Shouta looked in his direction, knowing Tensei had a tendency to forget about himself.  “We're here for you too.”

“I know. Thanks.” Tensei reached out to squeeze his arm once more. “We're going to get through this, Shouta.”

The moment was interrupted by a quiet knock at the door.  

“Ingenium?” Tsukauchi’s voice addressed warmly. “Sorry to interrupt, but the nurses told me to tell you it’s time for your physical therapy. Thank you for watching over Eraserhead for me.”

“Officer, I told you Iida is just fine. My little brother’s going to be Ingenium now, you know!” Shouta listened to Tensei roll towards the door. “Don’t worry Shouta, I’ll come back to babysit you again sometime. I’ll get Tenya to bring our old yearbooks- won't that be a trip down memory lane.”

“No need. I remember them perfectly- you bring those things out whenever you have the chance.”

“Now that was just mean.” Tensei protested, his laughter fading as Shouta heard the door close and the squeaking of wheels down the hall.

Shouta missed him already.

Tsukauchi pulled up a chair, rifling through his clothes for his usual pen and notepad. “Well, it sounded like you two were having a great time. Are you good friends?”

Shouta, remembering Hizashi's warning, tensed. Might as well get it over with. “We are. Before you formally arrest me, I'd like to make a personal request for you to send someone to my apartment to go check on my cats. There should be two of them: the pure black cat with half a tail is Fredrick and the cross-eyed siamese-mix is Yuki.”

“What? No one’s arresting you, Eraserhead.” Tsukauchi sounded confused. “We don't have any new leads on Shigaraki and his League of Villains, but we're not giving up yet. You shouldn't either.”

“Oh.” Shouta felt ridiculous. “...My request still stands. Please check up on my cats.”

“I can do that.” Tsukauchi replied, amused. “Why did you think I was going to arrest you?”  

“It’s not important.” Shouta dismissed quickly, though he got the impression Tsukauchi wasn’t satisfied with that answer. “Tsukauchi, have you been a detective for a long time?”

“Where did that come from? But yes, I have. I knew I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps since I was a small boy.” Tsukauchi mused. “I’ve been an official part of the police force for sixteen years, but I’ve been in the business quite a while.”

Perfect. “Are you aware of a case in which a hero agency was involved in a scandal where one of the sidekicks was actually a villain?”

“The Siren Agency scandal? That was actually one of my first cases as a detective.” Tsukauchi sounded suspicious. “What’s going on, Eraserhead?”

This man asked too many questions. Shouta had no idea what he was supposed to tell him- he knew someone with a time travel quirk and had a stupid best friend that may or may not have interned at that agency? Better not give him further reason to be suspicious.

“Tensei and I knew someone that interned there when we were high schoolers.” Shouta paused. “With my recent memory issues, I can’t remember much about the incident- so I thought I’d ask you if you had any information. If you’re not allowed to talk about it, then forget I said anything.”

“I didn’t say that.” Shouta’s answer had the desired effect of making Tsukauchi reconsider. “Well...It’s an old case and you’re technically still a pro hero, so I don’t see any harm discussing it with you. Firstly, it was believed that the whole agency was just a front for illegal activity, though we could only prove the sidekick was a villain because he was later identified as Atsuhiro Sako, villain name Mr. Compress, one of the smartest villains in the world. He evaded arrest and went off radar, no trace of him since. Secondly, the case blew up because Siren was the daughter of famous pro hero and the CEO of a multinational company- though Siren mysteriously went missing before police could properly question her. It was really frustrating, honestly- all leads dried up and the case went cold. Nothing technically happened so the police force and media moved on, but I can’t help but feel like we still missed something.” Tsukauchi grumbled. “I’m sorry there isn’t more I can tell you. I could look at the files, see what else I can find out for our next meeting?”

Shouta didn’t want to push his luck. ”No, that’s more than enough information. Thank you.”  

“That classmate of yours- it was Present Mic, wasn’t it?” Tsukauchi sighed. Shouta listened to him nervously tap his pen against the notepad. “That’s right. I completely forgot he was one of the prime witnesses to that. I’d hate to say he’s proving my current suspicions, but he certainly isn’t helping disprove them either.”

Shouta didn’t know what to make of that reaction. “...What?”

“Do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?”

Tsukauchi knew the details of his case better than Shouta and his shoddy memory, but he nodded warily anyway. Didn’t they already do all this?

“Eraserhead, to your knowledge who knew about the pocketbook?”

“Present Mic and Principal Nedzu.”

“And who knows the contents and location of each compartment in your utility belt?”

“Me.” Shouta paused, thinking back to the times he would often ask Hizashi to grab him something from it when he wasn't wearing it, or when Hizashi went and grabbed something without permission. It almost always had to do with his eye drops. “...and Mic, I guess. What are you getting at?”

Tsukauchi stubbornly pressed on. “How well do you know Present Mic? Please describe your relationship to me.”

“Professionally we’re coworkers at UA and frequent partners for hero team ups, but we’re also good friends and roommates. We’ve known each other for fifteen years, so I know him well.”

“Have you noticed Present Mic acting strange lately?”

“Maybe.” Shouta answered vaguely, frustrated by Tsukauchi dodging his questions. “Tsukauchi, please explain.”

“I’m almost done, just humor me a little longer, Eraserhead. Now, I may not have formally known you for very long, but I’ve learned quite a bit about you throughout this investigation. You’re a bit of a loner, aren’t you? You keep people at arm's length. Would you say that's a fair assessment?”

“I value my privacy and my personal space.”  

“Exactly.” Tsukauchi’s rhythmic tapping of the pen got faster. “So it’s hard to believe you wouldn't notice someone getting close enough to steal your pocketbook- unless you were used to the thief being that close to you in the first place.”

It became painfully clear what he was implying.

“You think Mic is a thief? A traitor?” Shouta felt outage on Hizashi’s behalf. “That’s ridiculous. Mic’s a popular, beloved hero and radio persona with a faithful fanbase, comfortable wealth, and three rewarding careers. What would he gain from being a traitor? Besides that, I may be lacking memories of the events leading up to or following the disappearance of my pocketbook, but I know Mic - as dramatic as he is, Mic would literally rather die than work with villains.” He did his best to convey a glare at Tsukauchi, but it was probably ineffective. “I trust Mic with my life, it couldn’t have been him. It must have been the media trespassers.”

A tense moment passed as Tsukauchi considered his next words carefully. “Eraserhead, are you aware of the nature of my quirk?” He waited for Shouta to grunt negatively. “It’s called Human Lie Detector. I can sense the authenticity and genuine feeling behind someone’s words. That's why I felt comfortable asking for your assistance and cooperation behind this investigation, because I know you want to find those responsible as much as I do.”

Shouta heard him sigh, clearly concerned. “I’m not calling Present Mic a traitor, but...how do I put this...there’s a strange disconnect between his emotions and his words. When I arrived at the scene of the USJ Massacre, Present Mic was acting strangely. I thought it might have just been stress, but... Everyone involved in the incident feels some degree of self blame, but Present Mic meant it full heartedly when he told me the USJ Massacre was completely his fault and he deserved to be arrested. He only calmed down when he learned you were in critical condition, but not dead.”

“I dismissed his behavior as grief at the time, but it persisted through interviews with him about the incident. Whenever I asked him a question he consistently avoided giving a direct answer. He also wouldn’t look me in the eye and tapped his foot the entire time. As you’re probably aware, these are common physical tells of people who are lying. Weirdest of all, he changed completely when I asked him about the incident with your pocketbook. His answers became curt, he stopped fidgeting, and the look in his eye was like...a cry for help.” Tsukauchi’s voice was slightly muffled as though he were massaging his face with his hands. “I do this for a living, and I don’t think I’ve ever encountered anyone like Present Mic. I just can’t get a good reading on him.”

“He does that. Evading questions and refusing to discuss difficult subjects are his specialties, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he’s lying.” Shouta dismissed easily. “He’s a very empathetic person and takes things way too personally, especially as a hero first responder to such a gruesome scene- of course he would feel personally responsible. As for his behavior during your questioning, that's typical stressed Mic behavior and he’s had plenty of reasons to be stressed lately, even since the press broke into UA- you should know, since someone broke into his radio station that same day.” Shouta wasn’t sure how he knew that, but he felt it was true. Maybe his memory really was coming back.

“...There were no other reported break-ins that day.” Tsukauchi spoke slowly as Shouta heard the furious scribbling of notes. No other reported break-ins? Impossible. He was tempted to immediately demand Tsukauchi check police records for verification, but chose to bite his tongue and hear him out first.

Tsukauchi hesitated. “Have you considered the possibility that maybe Present Mic isn’t working with villains...willingly?”

“Blackmail?” Shouta replied, skeptical. “With what? Brushing off hate mail and death threats are part of his daily routine. In fact, he loves it. Probably too much, given he dedicated an entire segment of his radio show to it: From Present Mic, With Love. As for potential targets, I’m a pro hero more than capable of taking care of myself and despite his status his parents and siblings aren’t well-known...”

“...but could be potentially targeted. Didn't you say you were targeted during the Massacre?” Tsukauchi pressed as Shouta came to the bizarre realization they were no longer speculating, he was actively being questioned.

“No.” Shouta’s response was curt, firm and cold. He refused to even entertain the thought. “It’s not Hizashi. It can’t be.”

Tsukauchi was smart, immediately backing off at Shouta’s closed-off response. “Well. It’s just a thought.” Shouta imagined he shrugged as he started to collect his things. “Either way you should talk to him. He’s still hiding something, and that’s never a good sign- you two are friends, aren’t you? He could probably use someone to talk to about all this.”

Shouta sighed.  “I’m trying.”

“Glad to hear it.” He could practically hear Tsukauchi smile. “You have to take care of your friends, you know? You never know when you might not be able to anymore.” Tsukauchi sounded wistful, becoming lost in his memories. Shouta respectfully remained quiet.

“Anyway.” Tsukauchi cleared his throat after a moment. “I’ll-”

Alarms started blaring, cutting Tsukauchi off. His chair scraped noisily against the floor as Tsukauchi shot to his feet, the building shaking with the force of an explosion. Through the thin walls of the hospital, neither of them missed the screams.

“Stay here,” Tsukauchi ordered, as if Shouta had any choice. “I’ll go see what’s going on.” Shouta heard him run out the door, slamming it behind him and leaving him alone. Straining his ears, Shouta could definitely pick out the sounds of a battle becoming steadily louder as it grew closer.

His heart rate monitor started to become frantic as Shouta threw off the bed covers. Blind and concussed or not, he was a pro hero- one that would not, could not stay seated during a crisis. At the very least, he could bark out orders and direct panicking bystanders.

Several weeks had passed since the USJ Massacre, which meant getting out of the uncomfortable cot was painful, slow and infuriating. He harshly and quickly picked off the sensors monitoring his vitals, the following alarms drowned out by the ones going off in the hospital. Shouta clung to the IV, testing his bare feet against the cold tile and tried to stand- only to crumple under his own body weight. He slowly managed to push himself up with the help of the IV, dragging himself along the wall as he felt blindly for the door.

The fight sounded somewhere below him. What floor was he on? Were the attackers making their way up?

No time. He had to get out. He made it halfway across the room before he noticed the sound of rapid footsteps down the hall before someone threw open his door. Shouta tensed, bracing himself for the worst, especially as someone tried to touch him.

“Whoa, Shouta, it's me! It's just me! Well, and Fujinuma.” Hizashi managed, out of breath, immediately moving to support Shouta. He gratefully leaned his weight against Hizashi with a pained grunt. “What are you doing out of bed?! No, wait, no time-”

“Hizashi, what’s going on?” Shouta demanded, able to feel how heavily Hizashi was breathing as he leaned against him. He wasn’t wearing leather, and hair tickled Shouta’s arm- was he in civilian clothing? Wasn’t he still on duty, at the very least as his personal guard?

“There’s a- the Nomu.” Hizashi gasped as Shouta’s heart threatened to stop beating. “He's in the hospital. Destroying everything. They- He’s coming for you, Shouta.”

“What are you doing here then?!” Shouta snapped, concerned and angry as he struggled to break free from Hizashi’s supportive hold. “You need to go help people! Stop that thing! It’s going to kill everyone in its path-!”

“That thing killed All Might. ” He felt Hizashi shake his head. “What can I possibly do? Besides, I’m not wearing my directional speaker- it’s too dangerous for me to use my quirk. I figured Endeavor would have a better shot. Sorry, this is the only thing I could think of-”

Before Shouta could start yelling at Hizashi how selfish and thoughtless he was acting, and how much of a coward he was currently being by running away from the active threat, the hospital phone started ringing.

“Fujinuma, don’t-!” Despite Hizashi’s protests, the phone was answered and put on speaker with the simple press of a button.  

“Cheat code.”   Shigaraki’s raspy voice came through the receiver, the static of the phone amplifying his creepiness. His voice trembled with barely contained fury. “Cheat code, cheat code, cheat code. You never make things easy, do you? You should’ve kept your big mouth shut, but now you’ve made me mad. And you know what I do to people that make me mad.”

“Oh fuck off.” Hizashi snapped, words laced with venomous fury of his own. Shouta, head spinning and tired, allowed Hizashi to drag him (presumably) towards Fujinuma. “Don’t give me that shit. You’re always mad! And you were going to try and kill Shouta no matter what! So, fuck you! Fuck your creepy hand fetish! Fuck your ugly dog! Fuck your jolly pirate club! And fuck your internet sensei! Y’all suck! ”

“...I was going to kill all of you anyway, but now I’ll make sure to do it as slowly and painfully as possible. By the time I'm through with you, there won't be enough of your bodies left to identify you.” Shigaraki answered menacingly, the scritch-scratch of his fingers audible even through the receiver. ”I know you’re in there with Eraserhead, planning your last stand- like a useless cheat code, a cripple and a bystander can actually do anything.” He chuckled. “Well, my Nomu’s almost reached your level. Better make it count.”

“Can’t win without hacking, huh, NEET boy?”

The line went dead with an ominous dial tone.

“What the hell is going on?!” Fujinuma accurately summarized Shouta’s thoughts on the matter.

“Hizashi.

“Okay so, I fucked up royally. Now we’re all going to die because of it. But, since Shigaraki was going to kill you sooner or later anyway, it isn’t technically, fully my fault. Fujinuma, though- my bad. That’s completely on me.” Hizashi sounded remarkably calm for what he was actually saying. “Sorry, man.”

“I don’t want to die!” Fujinuma was breathing erratically, on the verge of having a panic attack. 

“Get it together man! You can’t- oh, fuck it.” There was the loud sound of a slap. “We really will die if you don’t do anything! You’ve gotta use your quirk again on Shouta. One last time.”

It was getting harder and harder to keep up with what was going on. Everything hurt. He wished his head would stop throbbing. He wished he wasn’t so weak .

Shouta settled on the most important question.

“Why?” Shouta felt a pressure behind his eyes and wondered if he could still cry.

“Hey. Look at me, Fujinuma. Take a deep breath and focus.” Hizashi blatantly ignored him, addressing who Shouta imagined was a wide-eyed, frozen-in-fear Fujinuma. “Your quirk- it’s like gambling, yeah? You gotta be willing to give something up for the chance to get something better! Sorry, it’s not fair to ask you to give up your life- but we’re with the high rollers now, baby! Doesn’t get higher stakes than this!”

Something clattered to the floor. This was the worst pep talk Shouta had ever heard. “So go ahead and send him back, like now, or we’re not going to get another chance, ok? All or nothing. But we’re trusting Shouta. And let me tell you, you can’t pick a better person to bet on than him.”  

The closer the sounds of impending death and destruction came, the more desperate Hizashi’s tone became. “Fujinuma-!”

“Okay! Okay. I’ll- I’ll try.” Shouta was too weak to resist being exchanged through their hands as Fujinuma took over supporting him. He was trembling, though whether it was out of fear or the stress of supporting his entire body weight Shouta couldn’t tell. Fujinuma repeated the mantra of ‘three weeks’ under his breath, his grip on Shouta almost painfully tight.

“Why...?” He tried, one last time.

“For what it’s worth, I’m sorry, Shouta. For everything I did and didn’t do.” He felt Hizashi’s hand linger on his arm just as the door was blown off its hinges. “You can do this, buddy. Kurogiri’s the warp gate, Shigaraki is an alias, and they’ve got a bigger, badder guy pulling at their strings. Give em’ hell.”

The blue glow looked dimmer than before.

Chapter Text

The discomfort in his eyes was back.

In a young, healthy body and sound mind that weren’t wracked with constant pain or clouded with medication, the slew of emotions that had been building up hit Shouta like a tidal wave. Anger, sadness, shock- but most of all, the white-hot fury of betrayal.

At least he looked to be alone. Good. He needed some time to collect himself and go about this in a way he wouldn't regret.

“Yo, Shouta!” He felt a hand clasp his shoulder and heard teenage Hizashi laugh in his ear. “You're interning in Yokohama? Sweet! I'm just getting my mentor coffee, but you look like you're on patrol. And alone, too? I’m pretty jealous.” Hizashi moved so they were facing each other, grin irritatingly earnest and bright. “Want to hang out? Come get coffee with me! I want to hear all about it.”

Shouta quickly got over his initial shock to glare at Hizashi, the intensity of it causing his scarf- thankfully no longer yarn, but still a beta version of his capture weapon- to lift from his shoulders. He roughly and pointedly shrugged off Hizashi’s hand.

Rationally, he knew this wasn’t the Hizashi he was angry at, but the overwhelming bitterness and shock of betrayal was making it difficult to think logically.

“Whoa, what's with the cold look?” Hizashi held up his hands in surrender. “Bad day? You don't have to tell me what happened if you don't want to, but don't take it out on me-”

Shouta’s fist snapped out, hitting Hizashi squarely in the nose with a loud crack and sending the taller boy sprawling onto the sidewalk. His fist trembled, alongside the rest of his body, with pure fury as he pulled Hizashi up by the front of his shirt until they were at eye level.

“Who are you interning with?” He demanded, shaking Hizashi when he opened his mouth, knowing he had some witty retort at the tip of his tongue. “Do not test me, Yamada. I want the name of the agency now .”

Ow?! Shit, that hurt! I think you broke my nose- what is your deal?!” Hizashi snapped, trying to pry Shouta’s hands from his shirt. His nose was bleeding heavily. “Get off me you psycho! What the hell is going on, Shouta?!”

“Answer me.

“Siren Agency?!” Hizashi finally blurted, somewhere between fearful and defensive. Shouta saw his face reflected in cracked sunglasses, his own manic expression staring back at him. “I know you guys all told me you didn’t trust Sako-san, but Siren herself is really nice and has good connections! She’s a cool person with a cool quirk- it’s some sort of mind control, apparently strong enough she can’t even talk without activating it so she communicates exclusively through sign language. She has a voice quirk she has to fight to control! She understands me in a way no one else ever has. Crimson-sensei even recommended her to me out of all my other internship offers! And you’re the one who told me I needed to work on my control, so you have no right to be mad!”

Don’t you dare try to tell me what I can or cannot be mad about.” Shouta hissed, pulling him until they were nose-to-nose. “What do you know about this agency?”

“Okay! Okay. You can be mad about whatever you want, you crazy bastard.” Hizashi pat his hands, wincing as Shouta's knuckles started going white with the force of his grip. “Hey! Easy on the jacket! Leather’s not cheap.”

Shouta wasn't sure how else to convey to Hizashi he was literally going to kill him.

“What do you want to know?! I know it’s fairly recent?” Hizashi offered, his expression clueless and confused in a way that Shouta almost believed was real. “She’s only just gotten started as a pro, so she doesn’t have a lot of staff yet. She said Sako-san was one of her sidekicks, but I haven’t seen him since the Sports Festival.” He raised an eyebrow. “Is this just a really, really weird way of telling me you were worried about me? It’s seriously not as shady as you guys-”  

“Are you working with villains or aren’t you?!” Shouta cut off, desperate to know just how far back the betrayal went. It couldn’t have been for fifteen years. It couldn’t have.  

“WHAT?!” Hizashi’s eyes widened, some of his quirk leaking into his voice as he shouted in Shouta’s face. Shouta winced but didn’t falter. “Of course not! I would never- you know I’d never do that! I’m trying to be a hero just as much as you are!” Hizashi’s expression briefly flickered to hurt before it went right back to fury. “Just because you deemed one dude sketchy suddenly the whole agency is evil and I'm a villain now?! What the hell kinda deductive reasoning is that?! They’re a certified agency- they’re not villaint, and I’m not one either!”

Hizashi’s gaze never wavered, green eyes burning with defiance and insult. It sounded so real. Shouta desperately wished it was.

“I don’t know if I can believe anything you say anymore.” It took a lot of effort to push down the ugly, toxic concoction of emotions that beckoned him to punch Hizashi again. He hated himself for how hurt and vulnerable his expression became when he glared at Hizashi, fingers threatening to pull his hair up from the roots, the questions pouring out before he could stop them. “Why couldn’t you tell me the truth? Isn’t that the whole point of being ‘best friends?’ How could you use me like that?”

What was he doing? Loosening his grip on Hizashi, Shouta tried to mentally take a step back. He just needed to calm down, take a deep breath, reassess the situation, suppress his personal emotions and think about it logically the way he’d always done, like it was just another case and not his world falling apart-

“What are you even talking about!? You want me to lay down some truth? Fine! Let's start with this!” Hizashi took advantage of Shouta’s distraction to break free and slam his knee into Shouta’s stomach. Shouta fell to all fours and gagged, clutching his stomach in pain. “I thought we were friends too! But friends- especially best friends- don't break each other's noses and accuse them of being villains! You trust each other! You talk to each other about your problems- y’know, with words ! Maybe you'd understand that if you pulled your head out of your ass and stopped looking down at people every once in a while!”

Something in Shouta snapped.

“Words? WORDS?!” Shouta lunged, taking Hizashi down with him. The fight devolved into a messy, ugly wrestling match as they rolled around on the concrete, throwing punches and pulling hair and fighting as dirty as possible. “Your words mean nothing to me, Hizashi! All you know how to do is fill the silence with your meaningless chatter, but you know nothing about actually talking about anything that matters! You run away from anything that makes you slightly uncomfortable by running away and cracking jokes because you're nothing but a coward!”

“What does that make you, then?!” Hizashi spit, some of his blood spraying onto Shouta's face. “At least I say something! You never say a word, you just expect everyone around you to know why your mad! You're impossible to read, and even harder to please! You're like- like an emotionally constipated cactus!”

“You're so full of yourself- you never acknowledge and grow from your failures. You just blame something else and ignore the problem.” Under his breath, though Hizashi was certainly close enough to hear, he added. “That must be why you're still exactly the same now as you'll be in fifteen years.”

I'm full of myself?! You're the one who doesn't know how to do anything but criticize and nitpick! Ever since we met, you've done nothing but tell me every single little thing I do wrong- I mean, what you think I do wrong! I know I’m not perfect! I know I have a long way to go! But maybe try looking in the mirror sometime! You’re only human too- although you suck at acting like one!”

“I don't criticize you out of something as petty as pride. I criticize you because you're reckless and you don't think.” Shouta grit his teeth, sweat pinning his bangs to his forehead. Hizashi had him pinned- trapped. His heartbeat quickened as he tried not to think of the phantom sensation of a giant hand squeezing his skull. “You think I'm unfair? Fine. Go ahead, tell me all my flaws- I guarantee I'll already know them all. I am far, far from perfect. I'm never going to be strong enough or skilled enough to stop every disaster no matter how much I train. But I still try, I still strive to be better because I refuse to let people die because of me ever again.”

“Dude, what? You're fifteen!

“I don't expect you to understand.” Shouta snapped, the sting in his eyes almost overwhelming. He wished he could grab his eye drops. “You never did learn to think about the consequences of your actions, but I think about mine all the time. Every success, every failure- and the twenty-two innocent people that suffered because of my mistakes. But this time- this time there's no room for failure.”

“Fail at what?! What happened, Shouta?” Shouta's vision started to get blurry, the closest thing to actual tears that his dry eye would allow. He was surprised to feel droplets of water on his face as Hizashi started crying. “Dude, you’re seriously freaking me out! Are you okay?! What’s wrong?!”

Even if he wanted to respond, the lump in his throat argued otherwise. He should've walked away while he had the chance- how could this confrontation have ended in anything but total disaster?

Hizashi loosened his grip and flopped over to lie beside Shouta, sniffling as he dabbed at his eyes with his shirt. They remained on their backs, side-by-side, covered in literal blood, sweat and tears as they stared up at the sky beyond the buildings and lampposts.

“...Why are you crying?” Shouta asked at length, picking a star to look at as he tried to focus his emotions.

“I don’t know, man,” Hizashi’s was vulnerable and quiet, an uncertain warble to his voice, “I’m a sensitive guy. That expression like your heart’s breaking made me wanna cry. And then you think I’m gonna be a villain, after all this hard work to be a hero- shit stings, man.” Hizashi rubbed at his eyes, sniffling loudly, “Why would you say something like that?”

“Because it’s true.” Shouta replied honestly, feeling his own resolve waver at the sight of tears. “Fifteen years in the future, you team up with the League of Villains to kill All Might, and in the process you ended up killing some of my students. I didn't think it was you, and I still can’t figure out why you did it. Maybe you had a good reason for it.” He paused. “I just don’t understand why you kept protecting me. I wish you hadn’t. If that time ever comes again, please. Let me die in their stead. If we were ever friends, please . Let it end with me.”

“You’re fucking crazy, man.” Hizashi forced a chuckle. “I thought you were an annoying, rude, antisocial, cryptic, insensitive asshole, but you’re just talking nonsense.” Hizashi sighed, tone a little more cheerful, “What’s with you? You’re acting all over the place. You’re even messier than Tenya’s diaper, and you know how messy that kid can be.”

You’re a mess.” Shouta sighed. “You called me insensitive, but you're the one who always makes jokes at the worst times.”

“Because jokes make normal people laugh! And I’m also trying to distract myself since I'm pretty sure you actually broke my nose.” Hizashi swatted at him. “But seriously dude. You should talk to the counselor about your visions or nightmares or whatever-”

“Who would believe me?” Shouta sat up and rubbed his eyes, carefully molding his expression back into indifference. “Anyway, you don't need to concern yourself with me anymore. There are villains out there willing and able to exploit our friendship- so the logical thing to do would be to cut off all ties with each other, here and now.”

“I thought we were having a nice bonding moment!”

He stood up, talking over Hizashi's protests. “I trusted you, and I do not trust freely or openly. I’m not making the same mistake again.” Shouta turned away from Hizashi’s flabbergasted expression. “For both our sakes, I recommend you reconsider being a hero.”

“Whoa, whoa, what?!” Hizashi appeared in front of him, cutting him off. “Who are you to be judging my dreams?! To be dismissing my potential and passion?! I can be a hero, and I will be hero!” Hizashi gave him a shove, looking angry again, “This is what I hate about you! You’re always talking down to me, like you’re better than me! But you know what? We're exactly alike!”

Shouta narrowed his eyes. “We're nothing alike.”

Yes we are!” Hizashi threw the first punch this time. It didn't devolve into an uncoordinated brawl on the floor again, but they still went at each other with everything they had.

Shouta managed to land a kick that sent Hizashi stumbling back and dove after him on instinct, intent on nothing but an undisputable victory before something plucked him out of the air by grabbing a handful of his scarf like a disobedient kitten. Held aloft a few feet in front of him, Hizashi was held up by the back of his jacket with an equally indignant expression.

“Whoa there, young men!” An irritatingly familiar voice laughed as Shouta struggled to break free. “I understand the hot blood of youth, but why in the world are you two out so late, much less unsupervised, brawling like your lives depend on it? There's far too many unsavory characters out and about this time of night for such a thing!”

“Stay out of this-” Shouta hissed, glaring up at the attractive, amused smile of a person so blonde, muscular and tall it couldn’t be anyone else but All Might in his prime. His two gravity-defying bangs poked out from underneath a red bike helmet with PIZZA-LA proudly painted across, wearing a yellow and red jacket on top of a yellow polo that couldn’t be zipped over his toned chest.  

“Hang on!” Hizashi kept squirming in his grip, “Let me at least tear off an eyebrow or something!”

The peppy, healthy young adult was such a drastic difference from the sickly skeleton of a man Shouta worked with he could do nothing but gape. He literally looked like he walked out of a magazine, even if he wasn’t wearing any of his iconic hero outfits. “All Might?!”

“I'm surprised you've heard of me! But please, call me Yagi- I'm waiting for the right opportunity to properly debut myself as All Might. I’m technically off duty right now anyway.” He chuckled, moving into the light of a lamppost. It was only then that he got a good look at them both and winced. “Oh wow, both of your faces- um. You should probably get that looked at. Shit , I don’t have any of my first aid supplies on me...”  

“Are you a hero?” Hizashi demanded.

“Ah- yes? Yes, I am!”

“Great! Then maybe you can talk some sense into this blockhead! So, I'm out getting my mentor coffee when I see Shouta here walking all by his lonesome, so of course I'm gonna approach my buddy and ask what's up! But then he gets all up in my face like-”

“I don't have time for this.” Shouta continued to struggle, even going so far as to use his quirk on Yagi to no avail. “All- Yagi , please put me down.”

“Oh, no you don't!” Hizashi kicked him as Yagi quickly held them further apart. “You don’t get to just attack me and accuse me of all those horrible things without a full explanation! No more half-assed confusing statements! You need to see a doctor, man!”

“Young men-” Yagi tried but went ignored.

“I don't owe you anything!” Shouta was getting annoyed, “What part of ‘I can't trust you anymore’ is unclear to you? Yagi, put me down -”

“I didn’t even do anything! What are you even planning on doing? Get me on a watchlist? What, you’re just gonna walk up to a police officer like, ‘Hello, yes, this guy is going to commit a crime in 15 years. I don’t have any evidence, but you should lock him up forever!’ Go ahead and ask Yagi- see if he would believe you!” Shouta paused, staring at Hizashi with wide eyes, surprised by the venom in his tone. “You don’t get to judge me for something I might do in the future! All you did today was hurt me- hurt me worse than I’ve ever been hurt before in my life!” Hizashi’s eyes started watering again, furious and wounded, “What kind of a hero does that?! You’re acting like the villain, Aizawa! And I’m the one who can’t trust you!”

Shouta was stunned into silence, which Yagi took as his cue to speak up.

“I don’t know what’s going on with you boys, but it’s getting late and you both need medical attention. Now, I don’t feel comfortable letting you two wander off by yourselves, but I still have one pizza left to deliver before I can end my shift. Oh, and I caught a villain around here while you were both fighting, so I need to deliver them to a police station.” His grin was dazzling, his whole body seeming to light up with an idea. “Tell you what, if you come with me I can take you to an old friend of mine who can treat your wounds, treat you both to pizza and I'll do my best to help you sort out whatever's going on. I’m a trained hero with an international license, after all! Sound good?”

Yagi didn’t let the sullen silence discourage him, perking up as Hizashi was the first to move.

“Fine. Let me contact my internship supervisor.” Hizashi was tapping away at his phone quickly, expression closed off and unfriendly. In all the years they had known each other, Shouta couldn’t remember a time when Hizashi looked like that- usually he bounced back from arguments with a hum and grin like they never happened. Hizashi wouldn’t even look at him.

That was fine. This was what he wanted anyway, wasn’t it?

Yagi gently put them both down, satisfied. Shouta watched him walk over to an expertly bound, unconscious villain. It briefly crossed his mind that was probably the event Revival had wanted him to stop.

Shouta felt a buzz in his pocket and pulled out his phone- an old, indestructible thing with a tiny screen but perfect for his line of work. It was much better than his throwaway flip phones- a pity they weren't built anymore.

The screen alerted him he had an unread text message waiting for him. It was a single, blunt “ where?” from a contact he simply had listed as A. He pressed call before he could think better of it, which rang exactly once.

Eraserhead. Are you injured, trapped, dying or otherwise having an emergency?” A gruff, female voice immediately asked. The audio quality was terrible.

“No, I-”

Then text. Phone calls are for emergencies only. Keep it short.” Shouta couldn't get in a single word before he was abruptly hung up on. Of course, how could he have forgotten? He quickly texted back a reply.

‘Sorry. Have to do something. Will be late.’

The response was almost immediate.

‘All entrances lock automatically at midnight. Training still starts at 5.’

He appreciated the respect of his privacy and trust that he wouldn't do anything stupid as he pocketed the phone. Yagi led the way, letting Shouta and Hizashi stew in their respective silence.  

This is for the best. Shouta reminded himself, unable to help watching Hizashi out of the corner of his eye. The closed off expression didn’t change, all his attention glued to his phone and whatever game he was busy mindlessly playing. On closer inspection, it was a matching puzzle game with colorful candy.

...A game, among many others, Hizashi always let him play because his phone didn’t have any apps. Because they were friends. Damn it.

By the time they dropped off the villain and found their way outside the house of Yagi's friend, Shouta was pretty sure his eye was starting to swell shut and Hizashi was still complaining about a painful broken nose.

Yagi knocked before stepping back, a hand on each boy’s shoulder, somewhere between keeping them in place and using them as a shield. The door swung open surprisingly quickly, but the furious little old lady that greeted them was even more surprising.

“Toshinori!” Though her hair was down and she was in her pajamas, the angry, reprimanding tone made the old woman instantly recognizable as Recovery Girl. “Do you have any idea what time it is? Honestly! I'm not some shady back alley doctor that can help you every time you get into trouble! On my week off, no less-!”

Yagi tactfully pushed Shouta and Hizashi forward, making Recovery Girl gasp. “Wait, I know you two! Those wounds- what in the world happened?!”

“If anyone asks officially, I ran into a villain and these two were caught in the crossfire! Unofficially, it seems these boys have a few things to work out amongst themselves.” Yagi laughed though no one else did. “I'm sorry to disturb you at this late an hour, but please take care of these boys for me. I’ll explain everything in a moment, I just really need to deliver this pizza- I'll be right back!” He ran off with such grace and speed it put his older self to shame.

Recovery Girl massaged her temple. “Alright, come on you two. Let me take a look before you get blood everywhere.”

“Actually, I think I've stopped the bleeding from my broken nose !” Hizashi supplied with forced enthusiasm, voice nasally from the napkin pieces he shoved into his nostrils. He must have done so at the police station, but Shouta was too distracted by his own thoughts to really notice. “Can you fix me up first? Since I didn’t start the fight and all. If I'm going to have my face posted on billboards and commercials someday, I'd rather not have a crooked nose.”

“As far as I’m concerned, if you two got this beat up from fighting each other you deserve a crooked nose. Both of you do.” She huffed. Though he remained quiet, Shouta completely agreed.

She led them through her normal, quaint and small home until they reached an infirmary that looked almost identical to her office at UA. Despite her earlier chagrin, she must be used to injured people dropping by a lot.

Recovery Girl wasted no time diving right into fussing over and scolding them, but by the end of her spiel their noses were no longer broken, their bruises healed, and they were hit with a wave of exhaustion. They were left alone in the room with strict orders to resolve their argument and the promise of a severe punishment if they started fighting again.

Talk things out. In hindsight, that should’ve been the first thing Shouta should’ve done.

“...I’m sorry.” Shouta spoke up first, staring at the handful of gummies Recovery Girl forced into his hand. “You were right. The way I acted and spoke wasn’t what a friend would do, much less a hero. My anger blinded me- and when I heard what agency you were interning with, I thought I was too late. I thought you already became a villain.”

Hizashi didn’t say anything. Shouta didn’t blame him.

“I see now that I was wrong. You wanted an explanation, and you deserve one.” How ironic- it felt like ages ago that he woke up in a hospital and was told the exact same thing.

“My name is Aizawa Shouta.” He looked up from the gummies. Even though Hizashi was busy picking at his jacket sleeve, Shouta knew he was listening. “I'm a thirty year old pro hero that goes by Eraserhead and the homeroom teacher for Class 1-A at UA High School. I come from a future where there was a villain attack on the school that killed the number one hero All Might, rescue hero Thirteen, five of my students and attempted to kill fifteen others. I'm here now because of the powerful time travel quirk of a former student of mine with the sole goal of preventing those deaths.”

“I guess I was one of those villains, huh?” Hizashi finally spoke up, tone cold.  

“No. The villains got a hold of sensitive information that ultimately gave them the upperhand- one of which was a pocketbook I kept about my students. In other words, someone was leaking information. I know it was you.”

Hizashi didn’t have anything to say to that, so Shouta continued. He wasn't one to get sentimental, but if he still knew Hizashi... “We’ve been through a lot, you and I. Good times or bad, you were always there and I tried to do the same for you. We moved in together after graduation and we adopted two stray cats. We became heroes together. You came with me to my grandmother’s funeral, and I went with you to your brother's wedding when your date cancelled on you last minute.” He paused. “...it didn't help the rumors about us secretly dating, though.”

“Tch, as if. I’m way out of your league.” Hizashi snorted, unable to hold back a smile. “You’re the worst time traveler ever, by the way. Future me must really suck if he never showed you Back to the Future. Don’t you know you’re not supposed to spoil the future or else you risk changing things?”

“That’s the point.” Shouta deadpanned. “I’m trying to change everything. And I realize now that it has to start with you- with us.”

“By destroying our friendship? Yeah, I got that.”

No - at least, not anymore.” Shouta hesitated. “I don't know why you became a villain, but I know you tried to protect me. In my anger I thought that if I cut things off now, I'd never be targeted and that would be enough to keep you from being manipulated. But in doing so I'd be doing the very thing that makes time travel so dangerous- changing the future in dangerous, unpredictable ways.”

“Hm.” Hizashi drummed his fingers on his thigh. “Well, my point still stands. You're doing a terrible job time traveling so far.”

Shouta nodded. “Leaving you to your own devices and not being as involved helped cause all this. I want to change the future, but making it so we were never friends would be disastrous on all accounts. So, we need to start by being completely honest with one another, no more secrets.” He took a deep breath and extended the gummies out as an offering. “Hizashi, I need your help to set things right. Please forgive me.”      

“Like I’m so cheap you can buy me off with some gummies.” Hizashi scowled, snatching them up anyway. “...You’re still a jerk, and it’s going to take a lot more than that for me to forgive you, but since you're a terrible actor and I’d hate to end up homeless or something by ending things with my future roommate, I’ll help you out.”

Shouta released the breath he'd been holding. “I highly doubt you’d end up homeless. Tensei stayed with his parents to help with Tenya, but I bet Nemuri would-”

“You want me to room with Nemuri ?” Hizashi scoffed. “No thanks. We’ve already seen how much she’s capable of after a few months of freedom, can you imagine what she’d get up to when she gets her own house ?”

“...You do know she mainly acts like that to mess with people, right?” Shouta offered a slight smile of his own. “Also, freedom from what?”

“Um, a lifetime of attending strict all girl private schools? Did you seriously forget that? I think you’re getting senile, old man.”

“Back to the matter at hand,” Shouta hated to detract from the natural banter their conversation had devolved into, but it was important to make Hizashi understand. “I meant what I said about wanting to fix our friendship, but I will say this: If I ever have reason to suspect you becoming a villain, I'll take you down before you can hurt anyone. That’s a promise.”

“Wow! WOW! After all that you just-!” Hizashi made an angry sound. “Have you ever spoken to another human being, like ever, in your life? That was the worst apology I've ever heard! It's like saying ‘my bad Villain Mcvillain, but don't worry I'll keep an eye on you to make sure you stay in line!’ Do you hear how ridiculous that sounds? Because that's literally you.”

Shouta resisted the urge to sigh again.

“...but, since I know that's the best I'm gonna get out of a cactus like you, I guess I'll take it. For now. I'm expecting a better one in the future, though.” Hizashi huffed. “Also, I have a condition too: I am not the Hizashi that worked with villains and killed your kids or whatever! Stop treating me like I am! That Hizashi who you did all that stuff with? Also not me. I am my own person, thank you very much.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Hizashi didn’t stop glaring. “...What? Do you want an apology for that too? Fine. I’m sorry. I’ll treat you as your own person from now on, teenage Hizashi.”

“Thanks, old man Shouta.”

Right on cue, Recovery Girl came back into the room with Yagi right behind her. “Now that you're both healed and Toshinori's covered your expenses, kindly get out of my house. Unlike some people, I need to sleep.”

They were all quick to thank her once more and comply.

“If you're both still up for it, I can take you to where I work and make you some pizza.” Yagi offered. “Do you still want to talk things out? I'm no counselor, but I've had my fair share of disagreements with friends-” He continued talking as Shouta fell into step beside Hizashi.

“I don't know about this.” Shouta whispered.

“What’s the big deal? The guy's a hero, not to mention who knows how much he's already heard.” Hizashi whispered back. “Yagi seems like a nice guy, and you said this whole thing has to do with villains right? It wouldn't hurt to have a hero on your side, especially one so willing to help. You’re still a stinky teenager to everybody else, old man Shouta. Besides, you still owe me. A lot. And I want free pizza and to befriend the guy who knows how to make free pizza!”

Shouta grimaced as he realized Hizashi had a point.

As he watched the excitable young hero ahead of them launch into an anecdote of his life, Hizashi speeding up to talk to him, Shouta made his decision. Hopefully, he wouldn't come to regret it.

Chapter Text

If somebody told Shouta that one day he'd be sitting in a booth in a cozy little pizza parlor in the middle of the night, a bitter Teenage Hizashi sitting across from him with barely a glance sent his way and All Might dressed like a pizza parlor employee beside him, Shouta would have scoffed and gone back to sleep. It sounded like the setup of a bad joke.

Unfortunately, this was now his reality and there was no time to waste on sleep.

“I didn't know Pizza-La sold ice cream!” Hizashi picked at a scoop of chocolate with an enthusiasm better suited to someone who’d never had ice cream before. The vanilla in front of Shouta remained untouched. “Then again, my family only orders delivery from here. Is this a dine-in only thing?”

“It’s a new item, actually. Although I'm sure the ice cream would melt if we tried to deliver it!” Yagi laughed. Shouta always found it odd how the man laughed at his own jokes. “I know pizza and ice cream make for a strange combination, but-”

“Are you kidding? This is the best meal I’ve ever had in my life.” Hizashi demonstrated by taking a bite of his cheese pizza and following it with a spoonful of ice cream. Shouta thought it looked disgusting, but Yagi looked endlessly amused.

“Do you not like it?” It took Shouta a second to realize Yagi was talking to him, ever the mindful people pleaser. His expression showed more concern than the situation called for. “I can get you chocolate instead? Or is it the pizza? I can make cheesy corn, or pepperoni, or-”

“It's not the food.” Shouta cut off before he could list the whole menu, pausing as he realized that came out harsher than he'd intended. “...I don't have an appetite when I have something on my mind.”

“I understand.” Yagi nodded sympathetically, which made sense given how sickly thin his older self was. There were a lot of things to worry about when you were Number One, Shouta supposed.

Yagi cleared his throat. “Now. I know you two don't want to talk about it, but we came here to resolve your argument and resolve it we shall. Sho- ah, why don't you start by telling us what's on your mind?”

Shouta glanced at Hizashi, who sighed dramatically and turned to properly face him. He didn't look happy, but at least he wasn't glaring at him anymore.

“...Right. I'll explain.” Shouta pushed his ice cream away and crossed his arms on the table. Hizashi and Yagi looked at him attentively, but when it became clear Shouta wasn't going to eat his ice cream, Hizashi shamelessly stole it. “I let my emotions get the best of me and attacked Hizashi for a crime he did not commit. It was careless and stupid, but not the main issue. I-”

“He's a time traveler.” Hizashi butt in impatiently with his mouth full. At Yagi's confused, disappointed look, Hizashi shrugged. “Recovery Girl already forced us to talk things out and I'm really not feeling a repeat. What I want to know is how this time travel quirk works. How do we know you're actually Shouta and not someone pretending to be Shouta? And if you're really Old Shouta, why are you still a teenager?”

Despite his patience wearing thin from Hizashi's provocative, spiteful attitude, fifteen years had taught Shouta it was better to let him get it out of his system. “I'll answer your questions to the best of my abilities after my explanation. If Yagi is going to be involved, it's important he understand everything- and exactly what he's getting himself into.”

“What full story?!” Hizashi threw his hands up, shaking the table with the sudden movement. “You're making this ten times more complicated than it needs to be, you useless old man! I'll do it.” He turned to Yagi. “Old Man Shouta here is actually some thirty year old fart from the future. A group of villains killed his friends and family so he's here on a mission of vengeance- oh, and apparently I'm some villain mastermind in the future. He wants our help to stop it. Congrats, now you're caught up.”

Hizashi’s flippant explanation made Shouta's tenuous hold on patience snap.

“This isn't a game!” Shouta snapped, startling the two blondes in front of him. He pinned Hizashi with a seething glare. “If you're going to keep throwing a tantrum like a brat, get out. Too many lives are depending on us. We can't afford to take this lightly. I'm not going to fail. I refuse.”

Shouta turned back to Yagi, silent since Shouta and Hizashi started bickering. He didn't expect to find Yagi staring at him with a look of deep thought. “Well. I promised my help, and I don't break my promises.” Yagi decided, breaking out a small smile. “Please, continue.”

It took an hour or so of Shouta explaining and answering questions until Yagi fully understood the situation. By then, Hizashi had also finished all the food on the table.

“I still find all of this remarkable. In this great wide world of quirks, your story isn't impossible- but time travel quirks are quite rare, and one that can go back years is unheard of.” Yagi's smile wavered. “Such a quirk would be incredibly dangerous in the wrong hands.”

Shouta nodded, looking at Hizashi in particular as he spoke. “I can't answer the logistics of it because it's not my quirk- and my being here at all, instead of the original goal of three weeks before the USJ Massacre, shows how unpredictable it is. But I can prove to you I am who I say I am by telling you personal information villains are unlikely to know or care about.”

He turned to Yagi. “You enjoy long nature walks. Your favorite place to go is Yakushima because you like looking at the Yakushima cedars.”

Yagi looked stunned before his expression softened. “I do.”

Shouta then turned to Hizashi, who stared back challengingly. “You killed your pet goldfish when you were four because your quirk shattered the bowl.”

Hizashi’s eyes widened in surprise before his expression twisted with guilt. “I'm still sorry, Goldy.” He whispered mournfully and nodded his approval. “Okay, I believe you. I don't tell just anyone about Goldy. But how did you know I haven't told my Shouta that story yet?”

“We're still in highschool, meaning we're too young to legally drink. You didn't tell me about your goldfish until the first time we went out drinking together for my 20th birthday.” Despite himself, Shouta’s lips twitched upwards in amusement at the memory. “You got drunk after three cups of sake, despite insisting you had alcohol before, and then you spent the rest of the night crying over your fish. Then you threw up on me.” Shouta paused. “Now that I think about it, I don't think even my Hizashi remembers that.”

“Probably because you made that up. That sounds really uncool and unlike me at all.”

Shouta snorted. “That reminds me- now that I'm telling you about the future, a mullet is not a good look on you.”

“Really? Well, now I have to do it.” Hizashi, frustratingly fueled by spite, continued to smile at him. Shouta sighed and wondered why he even bothered. “You know. So the timeline doesn't change too much. For the sake of the world.”

“I believe the honesty of your identity and intentions too.” Yagi cut in before they could start bickering again. “Yakushima has been a fond, special place to me since I was a young boy. I'm grateful you entrusted us with such sensitive information, Shouta.” He froze. Well, that explained his earlier slip-up. “I mean- I'm sorry, what was your family name again?”

Hizashi made a frustrated sound. “Why do you both talk like such old people?!”

“It's fine.” Shouta shrugged, ignoring Hizashi's baffled expression. “It's Aizawa, but you can call me Shouta. I really don't care.”

Hizashi elbowed Yagi, grinning widely. “Wow! Shouta didn't even let me call him Shouta right off the bat! That means he really likes you. Welcome to the Shouta Squad, Yagi.”

“...Because you started acting like we were best friends just because we passed the entrance exam together. I literally knew nothing about you.”

“Ah- in that case, please feel free to call me Toshinori!” Yagi was smiling from cheek-to-cheek, a simple joy to it that Shouta couldn't remember ever seeing in his tired, sluggish older self. So he really had been waiting for Shouta to give him permission to use his first name when they were colleagues.

The implications of being on a first name basis with the future Symbol of Peace struck Shouta just a little too late.

Shouta's gut clenched uncomfortably. He wasn't sure if it was because he was used to a specific small group of people calling him Shouta, the fact he practically confirmed his friendship with Toshinori ‘All Might’ Yagi, or concern this was going to change the future in a bad way.

“You can call me Hizashi!” Hizashi concluded cheerfully, oblivious to Shouta's internal dilemma.

“Shouta.” Yagi- damn it, no, Toshinori now- addressed like he was trying out the new name. Despite his smile, his gaze was very focused. “What exactly is your plan?”

There it was: the question Shouta had been dreading since he first realized Revival had sent him back fifteen years. His past two failures had come and gone too quickly to allow for any proper planning, but now.... “To change the future so my students and colleagues don't die.”

“How?”

“I don't know.” Shouta finally admitted, teeth clenched as he glared at the table. “I wasn't supposed to go back this far, so my original plan is useless. This is the longest time I’ve spent in the past so far- which means this might be permanent, so it would be worth the time and effort to make a new plan. At the very least, telling you two who I am and why I'm here should significantly alter something about the timeline.” Shouta muttered, mostly to himself.

“Wait, you don't have a plan? At all?!” Hizashi gawked at him. “You just decided to come here and hope for the best?!”

“I didn't say that.” Shouta huffed impatiently. “This is my third time traveling back in time. Clearly, my actions alone up until now haven't been enough. I need your help to stop this future from happening.” Shouta offered a slight bow. “I would really appreciate your assistance.”

“You can count on me.” Toshinori readily agreed. “I'd rather prevent a future where I die anyway, but anything that saves innocent lives is worth doing.”

They both turned to Hizashi, who was still staring at him like Shouta had lost his mind. “You always have a plan.”

“No, I don't. I'm just used to adapting under stressful conditions.” Shouta shook his head. “That being said, I have some ideas of where to start in mind- but as I can't do this on my own, success depends on our ability to work together and consult as a team. I trust your opinion and value your input.”

Hizashi smiled, a genuine smile. “...Can I get that in writing?”

Shouta rolled his eyes. “We've wasted enough time talking. Let's start planning our next step.”

“There’s a whiteboard in the supply closet we can use.” Toshinori piped up, already getting to his feet. “I don’t think anyone even knows it’s there? I just found it myself when I went in to restock napkins the other day.”

The closet was somewhat cramped, but they managed. Toshinori procured a marker from somewhere but Shouta plucked it from his hand without a second thought and got to work.

“Well, he did say he was a teacher.” Hizashi snickered as a confused Toshinori joined him in sitting on the boxes of supplies. He sat at attention when Shouta turned to face them, the picture perfect image of false innocence as he raised his hand. Maybe it was the short blonde hair, but in that moment Shouta was reminded of Kaminari. “Aizawa-sensei! You should start by giving us more information about the villain incident.”

Shouta quickly shook his head. “You’re young enough to actually be one of my students.” He muttered, refusing to admit how much the thought bothered him. “Take this seriously and don’t call me that. As for your...recommendation, there’s not a lot information I can give. I suffered a traumatic brain injury at the USJ Massacre that severely affected my memory and sight. I may have a younger, healthier body, but I’m still missing a lot of information.”

“Cool. Because that didn’t make you sound like a body snatching alien at all.”

Ignoring Hizashi, Shouta filled the board with as much physical characteristics, personality traits and quirk information as best he could remember about Shigaraki, Kurogiri and Nomu. “These three were the masterminds behind the USJ Massacre, especially Shigaraki. My Hizashi mentioned there was a ‘bigger, badder’ villain pulling at the strings- likely one with great power and influence. Maybe they started building up their reputation around this time? It’s as good a place to start as any.”

“So we have nothing to go on but your shitty memory, huh?” Hizashi snorted. “It’s already pretty bad, I’m surprised you didn’t get amnesia if your injury was as serious as you say it was.”

Shouta sighed.

“Anyway, tracking down a big baddy we know nothing about sounds impossible. This incident and all these people show up in fifteen years right? How are we supposed to find people who are going to commit crimes fifteen years in the future, right here and now? Some of them might not even be villains yet.”

“These aren’t the best circumstances.” Shouta agreed, sighing in frustration. He stared at the three rough sketches, trying to remember what Adult Hizashi had told him before Revival sent him back. “Shigaraki is an alias...”

“Perhaps your lost memories will come back to you with time!” Toshinori commented, always the optimist. “We have fifteen years to figure this out, right? Time is on our side- a rare luxury for heroes. We need to use it wisely.”

Shouta nodded. “Information gathering is all we can do at this point. We need to tap into our resources and see what we can find out- my internship mentors are both underground heroes, so I’ll see what they can find through the underground hero network.”

“I have a friend in the police department.” Something about Toshinori's expression looked weirdly concerned, but before Shouta could say anything he bounced back to his usual smiling self. “He can tell me if the police database has anything on influential villains or the three you've listed.”

“I’ll ask around.” Hizashi shrugged. “On the streets, I mean. Siren doesn't make me do anything but get her coffee anyway. I’m great at talking to people and I can wear a disguise! Word on the street should be as good as any to let us know about any big baddies out there.”

Shouta nodded, relieved and grateful Hizashi and Toshinori were as ready and willing to help as he’d hoped they’d be. “Do that, but learn what you can from the agency you're interning with too. If it's really a front for villainous activity, any information you learn will be critical.”

“Like a spy?” Hizashi grinned eagerly. “Count me in! All this sitting around and talking had me thinking all this was gonna be lame and boring, but this actually sounds fun. Guess I underestimated you, Old Man Shouta.”

“Stop calling me that.” Shouta scowled, the nickname admittedly doing its job of getting on his nerves. “You're turning it into a habit, which means you're going to slip up- and if you call me that in public, you're going to make people suspicious.”

“Hizashi, that's too dangerous.” Toshinori interrupted with a frown. “I cannot in good conscience allow this. If anything goes wrong, you'll get hurt- maybe killed.”

“Your concerns are valid, Toshinori- but this is a valuable opportunity only Hizashi has access to.” Shouta pointed out, studying Hizashi carefully. “He can do this. Hizashi is smart and capable enough I think he can handle covert information gathering. I’ve also never met anyone better at disguising themselves.” Shouta sighed. “Besides, he’s clearly already made up his mind. Trying to change it now would just be a waste of breath.”

“Aww, Shouta...If you think that's enough for me to forgive you, you're wrong, but keep it up.”

Shouta glanced at his phone and grimaced. “Okay, everyone knows what they’re doing. I should get going- I have training with my mentor in a couple of hours.” He looked up as Toshinori and Hizashi got ready to leave. “It should go without saying, but not a word of this to anyone, especially about me. Our search itself is a strict need-to-know basis.”

“Better get good at acting then, Old Man Shouta.”

Shouta decided not to comment. “I’ll meet you both back here tomorrow. Good luck.” He turned to leave but was stopped by the silence he was met with. He looked over his shoulder to see Hizashi and Toshinori looking at each other. “...What?”

“I have to work two shifts tomorrow.” Toshinori shrugged helplessly. “I’m also in the middle of preparing for my hero debut. Besides, I doubt one day is enough for my friend to check the police database for what we need, assuming he even has the right clearance since he’s still a rookie. Can we meet on Sunday?”

“Yeahhh Siren and I are heading back into Tokyo tomorrow. We were only in Yokohama for a couple of days because she wanted to introduce me to her brother- something about the importance of making connections.” Hizashi frowned. “I guess I can video chat for our Sunday meeting?”

Shouta sighed loudly. “Fine. We'll meet on Sunday, assuming I’m still here. If for whatever reason my fifteen year-old self comes back, update him on the situation and keep planning. With my luck, it’s only a matter of time before I’m back here.” He paused, struck with another thought. “Wait...Toshinori, do you live here? That’s going to make long term planning difficult.”

“I’m actually in the process of moving to Tokyo! That’s what I meant by preparing for my debut.” Toshinori chuckled. “There’s no better place to make a name for yourself as a hero than in Tokyo.”

“Good. Anything else before we part?”

“Go Shouta Squad!” Hizashi pumped a fist in the air, clearly expecting Toshinori and Shouta to join him. They just stared.

“We’re not calling ourselves that.” Shouta finally left, noting the few hours he had left before training. Should he even bother sleeping? Then again, by the time he remembered where the hideout was, he’d be lucky if he wasn’t late.

It was going to be a long week.