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Pulling On Threads

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Shouta is in a foul mood as he strides towards Aldera Middle School, Midoriya’s record under his arm. He does not like it when concern trolls involve themselves in his classroom, much less when they impact his students. And he likes it even less when a concern troll brings to light something he had missed previously in his student’s records, something that had been hidden from him.

It is a whole tangled mess, one years in the making and it has been dumped into Shouta’s lap. But Shouta is very good at untangling messes. All he has to do is start pulling on threads until they pull apart. And he has been pulling on threads his whole adult life, this one might be a bit more snarled than he is used to, but it will come apart just the same.

So here he is, following up on an anonymous tip and digging into Midoriya’s past, pulling on a thread. Because the discrepancies between the kid he knows and the kid in the records do not make sense. And Shouta intends to untangle this mess and find the issue at the core.

He walks into the school and uses their directory posted to the wall to find the front office looking around him as he goes. The building looks old, like it was built pre quirks and then people just kept throwing bandaids over the issues and making quick fixes. And the secretary at the desk does not look much better as he gives Shouta a dismissive glance before going back to whatever he is doing on his computer.

“I’m here to meet with the principal about a former student,” Shouta tells him.

“There are no appointments with the principal for today,” the secretary says, not bothering to give Shouta another look.

“I’m willing to wait,” Shouta drawls.

“Look, the principal is very busy running his school, so unless you have an appointment, and I know you don’t, then unfortunately , you won’t be meeting with him today.” the secretary says, giving Shouta another dismissive look, “So, you can make an appointment now, or you can make one online and come back then.”

Anger starts to bubble like molten lava in the pit of his stomach as the secretary looks back down at his computer, dismissing Shouta out of hand. And something about this school and this secretary’s attitude sets his teeth on edge.

So he pulls out his Hero’s license and holds it so that it is in between the secretary’s face and the computer screen. The secretary starts backwards, then flicks his eyes up to Shouta’s face, a completely different expression written across his face as he realizes what Shouta is holding and what it must mean.

“I’d like to see the principal, please ,” Shouta says, smiling his most disconcerting smile.

“Yes, yes Sir, I’ll go inform him you’ve asked for a meeting,” the secretary says, standing up from his chair, eyes flicking back to Shouta’s Hero license once more before he turns around and walks through the door behind him, shutting it closed with a snap.

Shouta sighs as he puts his license away. He really would have rather not had to throw his weight as a Hero around to get what he wanted. But he needs to pull on this thread until it gives him what he wants.

So he leans against the secretary’s desk and waits for the other man to re-emerge. And when several minutes go by and the man has not come back, Shouta flips open Midoriya’s file again, skimming over the details he intends to ask the principal about. 

Date: 23/4/7

Teacher: Ito

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya incited a fight with the other students in his class, attempted to blame it on them after the fact.

 

Date: 23/4/16

Teacher: Ito

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya was distracting his classmates in class, would not stop when asked.

 

Date: 23/4/29

Teacher: Suzuki

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya was caught fighting in the halls, attempted to run when confronted.

 

Date: 23/5/14

Teacher: Ito

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya was caught trying to cheat off a fellow student.

Date: 23/5/30

Teacher:Fujita

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya was causing a disturbance in class

 

Date: 23/6/4/30

Teacher: Fujita

Student: Midoriya Izuku

Incident: Midoriya incited an incident in class with his classmates

Month after month, page after page of incidents detailing Midoriya’s various and vast indiscretions during his time at Aldera Middle School.

And Shouta’s Problem Child might attract trouble to him like a magnet, he might find a new villain to fight every other week, and he might cause Shouta endless amounts of stress. But he does not start fights, he does not distract his classmates needlessly, he does not cheat or loiter or any of the other things listed in this file.

Not a single incident matches with the kid Shouta knows. It does not even line up with the kid Shouta remembers from the beginning of the year, who shook like a leaf each time he was called on by a teacher and jumped anytime someone touched him without warning.

So as the principal walks out to greet him, nervous smile plastered on his face, Shouta snaps his folder closed, smiles back, and starts to pull on the thread.

“Hello there, Mr. Eraserhead, so sorry to keep you waiting,” he says, bowing slightly.

“It’s Aizawa, and I’m here to discuss one of your former students. Midoriya.”

“Ahh, the boy’s lies finally caught up with him then,” the principal says, gesturing to the door to his office. Shouta feels his anger bubble up under his skin, but he reels it in before it can erupt out of him as he follows the principal. He cannot afford to get unnecessarily angry right now, not when he does not have all of the facts.

“I was wondering if you could explain to me what you meant by his lies catching up to him,” Shouta says, and he may phrase it like a request, but his tone ensures that the principal knows it is anything but.

The man seems happy to comply in any case as he slips into his chair behind the large desk, gesturing to Shouta to take one of the two in front of him and says, “Well, the boy has always been a bit of a liar, an attention grabbing tactic, you know.”

“Enlighten me,” Shouta drawls, flashing another unsettling smile.

“You know, I’ve always seen myself as a bit of, well an everyday hero to the kids in this school, so can I be honest with you, hero to hero?” The principal says, leaning forwards.

“I Insist you be honest,” Shouta responds.

“That boy was always going to wind up being a problem. Everyone could see it coming a mile off. He was always causing trouble and trying to draw attention to himself in any way he could and then lying about it to try and hurt the reputations of our other students. We tried to discipline him as best we could, but there’s only so much you can do for someone who’s chosen to be bad. I’m just surprised it took this long for a hero to notice and come investigating.” With every word the man says, every vile thing he spews about Shouta’s kid, the red at the edges of his vision creeps further and further in until he has to concentrate on breathing and keeping his quirk in line.

“I’m assuming these are the incident’s you are referring to then,” Shouta manages to get out between his teeth as he places the folder in front of the principal.

The man takes the folder and flips through it quickly, his eyes skimming over the papers inside as he nods along, humming every once in a while before he places the folder back on his dek an giving Shouta a definitive nod, “Yes, if that’s not all of them, it’s enough to give you a clear enough picture of what Midoriya is like.”

“There is one thing I’m curious about.” Shouta says, “For everything else Midoriya is reported for having done, there is not one incidence of quirk misuse, not even a minor infraction.”

“Well no, there wouldn’t be, would there,” the principal laughs at a joke Shouta does not get. And Shouta does not like this man, does not think he would like him even if he was not spewing garbage about one of his kids. But he is a thread, and Shouta needs to keep pulling on this thread.

“I don’t understand why not. A powerful kid with a powerful quirk, who seems determined to ‘be bad’ as you put it. Typically there would be at least one instance of quirk misuse.”

“You don’t know, do you?” The principal asks, looking at Shouta as if he suddenly decided to get up and stand on his head in the middle of their conversation.

“Know what?” Shouta snaps. He dislikes walking into any situation where the other person knows more than he does, and the idea that this man knows more about Shouta’s kid sets his teeth on edge and leaves him feeling like the rug has been snatched out from under his feet all at once.

“Midoriya is Quirkless. Has been his whole life.” One of the thread in the knot he has been working on in his mind comes loose as the statement. Pulling free from the rest of the tangled mess with an almost audible snap.

It feels like Shouta’s whole world has been tilted sharply on its axis, except he is the only one who seems to have noticed the change as the principal continues to explain that Midoriya’s status as Quirkless is why the school never took legal action against him, too afraid of the potential backlash and legal battles they would potentially face.

“Thank you for your time.” Shouta says, standing up and interrupting the principal mid rant.

“Oh, of course, Mr. Aizawa. I’m so grateful you could come in today and talk with me about this. It is honestly heartening to see that justice is being done in this situation,” the principal says as he stands up, straightening his tie as he does.

“I will of course be requesting any and all video documentation of the incidents linked to Midoriya,” Shouta says, pulling out one of the business cards he keeps stashed away in his pockets as he collects his file.

“Video documentation?” And Shouta freezes in his place and glares at the principal with as much malice as he can.

“Yes, the video documentation that you are required by law to save for five years in your records every time you log an incident involving a student. I am requesting all of what you have in Midoriya’s file,” Shouta says, watching as the principal starts to sweat profusely, hsi smile growing more strained.

“Of course, of course, but all the incidents have been documented by our teachers as well in your file here, surely that contains all the necessary evidence.”

“I would like the videos, please .”

“It’s quite a bit of video you see, what with having to save thirty minuitess before and after each incident and I would hate to waste your valuable time as a hero with a case like Midoriya’s-”

“Perhaps you did not hear me the first few times,” Shouta says, voice dangerously low as he finally loses a bit of control over his temper. “As a Hero, I am telling you to hand over all pertinent files. Specifically, I am asking for the videos you are required to save. And, speaking Hero to ‘hero’, if you do not provide them, I must assume you do not have them and are breaking the law and will take actions to hold you accountable for lawbreaking, including, but not limited to, inciting an investigation into your school. Am I clear?”

The principal stares at him for a moment, mouth slightly agape and hostility clear in his eyes before he lowers his head and says, “Of course, I will have my secretary get them to you right away.”

“See that you do,” Shouta says before turning on his heel and showing himself out. He does not care if he could get the principal to tell him more, reveal more about what Midoriya was like before he walked through the doors of UA, before he apparently developed a quirk. He does not care that this building might hold the key to detangling this whole mess. Shouta does not want to spend another second in its walls.

He will just have to wait for the videos to come in to help him solve the mystery.

And because Shouta is not above being a little petty when it comes to his kids, he sends Nedzu a quick text asking the UA Principal if he would be interested in looking into Aldera Middle School for possible violations.

***

The videos come in over several emails there are so many of them. Shouta spends several weekends and every spare moment he has between classes and grading and patrols in the dorm security room, watching every incident play out. He marks in red every time Midoriya incited an incident with another student and in green every time an incident was misattributed to Midoriya.

Before even the first page has been marked, Shouta can tell there is a clear pattern forming. And he does not like what he sees.

Only one incident on the front page is marked red. Midoriya had rushed into a clearly developing fight and pushed the aggressor away from their intended victim. It is the only incident where Midoriya might have been an inciting factor in the fight that followed.

Every other incident, every other one, Midoriya had been singled out. And not once does he use a quirk, in any incident.

Shouta wants to get to the bottom of it. He wants to know why. He wants to shake Midoriya until all his secrets come tumbling out. But he knows that if he pulls on the wrong thread too soon, too fast, the tangle will just get tighter, and all the work he had put into it so far will have been a waste. So he cannot go to Midoriya just yet. He has other threads he needs to pull on, other questions that must be answered first, other rabbit trails that must be pursued.

And one of those rabbit trails has just opened the door.

“You wanted to see me after class?” Bakugo asks, standing in the open doorway.

“Yes, shut the door behind you,” Shouta says, straightening his back and taking a deep breath, preparing for the conversation he is about to have. Bakugo crosses the room and takes a seat in one of the extra chairs, slouching back in it with his hands in his pockets.

Without preamble, Shouta pulls Midoriya’s file and drops it on the desk between them. Bakugo leans forward, drawn to the movement, and Shouta can see it on his face the moment he registers what has just been placed before him.

“Sensei?” Bakugo starts to ask, but Shouta does not let him get much further than that. It is important that he dictate the direction of this conversation.

“You and Midoriya have been in the same schools all your lives,” Shouta says, and he is not asking a question.

“The fuck are you looking into our past for?” Bakugo bristles, shifting in his chair. Shouta ignores his question and continues, noting the way Bakugo’s mouth presses into a tight line as Shouta moves on.

“Until recently, Midoriya was believed to be Quirkless by everyone who knew him.” Shouta has still not asked a question, but he gets a huff and a roll of the eyes from Bakugo, a spark of genuine fury in his eyes. Bakugo knows something, something important about Midoriya and his quirk and why it came in so late. Shouta knows it. But figuring out what he knows is not the goal of this meeting.

“You used to bully him, using your quirk and the fact that teachers turned a blind eye to intimidate and hurt him.” And Shouta has yet again not asked Bakugo a question, for he does not need to; he has seen all the evidence for himself.

“Yeah, so?” Bakugo lifts his chin, eyebrow twitching, and it is not a question, not really, and yet at the same time it is.

Shouta watches the boy in front of him before taking a deep breath and asking, “why?” Bakugo’s answer to this is going to matter if he ever wants to be a hero. His response in these next few minutes is important .

“Why the fuck does it matter? I know fuckin’ Deku didn’t bitch about it to you. And you sure as shit didn’t care about what happened between us before now. So why does it matter?” Bakugo spits.

Well, that answers that, then. Decision already made, Shouta replies, “I didn’t have all the information before, now I do.”

“And how does that change fucking anything?”

“It changes everything because I cannot, in good faith, do nothing now that I know about this. It changes your whole dynamic with Midoriya and how I must view it as an educator and a protector.”

“Deku’s moved on from all that!” Bakugo snarls, leaning forward, hands coming out of his pockets to spark.

“But I’m willing to bet he’s not the only one you bullied, and before I can allow someone to become a Hero, I must first ensure that they will not be someone who causes undue harm to people who do not pose a threat to others.”

“I’m not a fucking idiot! I wouldn’t attack someone who’s not a fucking villain!”

“I have several years’ worth of video evidence to the contrary as well as a continued pattern of behavior well into your high school career. So, effective immediately, I am expelling you from the Hero Course.”

“You can’t do that! That’s not fair! I fucking earned my spot here!”

“Do not tell me what is fair and what is not,” Shouta snaps. “You only earned your spot here because you never faced the consequences for your actions. I am rectifying this oversight. There is a seat for you in the General Education class if you want it.”

“I’m a fucking Hero!” Bakugo explodes up from his seat to stand before Shouta, fists balled and eyes blazing with fury. Shouta does not rise to meet him, instead choosing to meet those enraged eyes with his own cool gaze from where he remains sitting in his own chair.

“If you truly want to be a Hero, it will not come handed to you on a silver platter. Do what everyone else does and earn it.” Shouta can tell by the manic look in Bakugo’s eyes that Bakugo knows he has lost as he turns around and slams the door shut with an echoing bang behind him.

Shouta sighs as he hears the boy stomping away from the room before he pulls out the transfer papers for Bakugo and signs the bottom. He will take it to Nedzu in a moment and have the transfer completed, but for now he just needs a moment to breathe.

And then he is going to figure out how this changes the knot he is trying to untangle and what thread he has to pull on next, which questions he has to ask next to find his answers.

***

Shouta can feel the nervous energy pouring off Midoriya in waves as he walks into the meeting room Shouta had asked him to come to after class. He knows what the kid must be thinking, what anyone in his position would be thinking after the news of Bakugo’s expulsion from the Hero Course had started to spread through the student body.

But there are only a few threads left to pull at and untangle at this point, and Midoriya is the key to all of them.

“Thank you for coming to see me, Midoriya. Please, have a seat,” Shouta says, gesturing to the chairs situated across from him.

Midoriya practically falls into one of them and Shouta decides to rip off the bandaid rather than let Midoriya continue to stew in his own anxiety.

“Someone reached out to UA and raised concerns about your admittance due to past disciplinary issues.” Shouta starts and Midoriya’s fear-filled eyes meet his. “UA is required to do at least a cursory investigation into all accusations against our students, which found some discrepancies in your records.”

“Sensei, I can explain-” Midoriya starts, frantic tears gathering in the corners of his eyes.

“Let me finish Midoriya, please,” Shouta interrupts. He waits a moment to see if Midoriya will continue on and when he does not, Shouta continues, “As your homeroom teacher, I was put on the investigation. I visited your old middle school and spoke to the principal about you. I know everyone thought you were Quirkless.”

Midoriya is well and truly crying now as he begs, “Please, let me explain. I promise I can explain everything, I promise I wasn’t staring fights or cheating or-”

“Midoriya, it’s okay. I know. I pulled all the footage for your file, I know you weren’t starting fights kid.”

“You-you pulled the footage?” Midoriya asks, scrubbing at his eyes with the heels of his hands.

“Yeah, watched every second of it.”

“I-I don’t-video?”

“Yeah kid, schools are required to save video on every incident they log for legal reasons. Did you not know that?”

“N-no.” Midoriya’s sobs have transferred into little hiccuping breaths as he watches Shouta. And it hurts to recognize that look in his kid’s eyes, to understand that Midoriya does not trust him and probably never has. It hurts to know that Shouta did not acknowledge that look earlier and attempt to earn Midoriya’s trust, to know that he has failed as a hero in every aspect.

But Shouta is willing to put in the work to earn Midoriya’s trust. And it starts here.

“Alright, well I’ll have to work school protocols into our curriculum later then. But for right now, I just need you to answer one question for me and then you’re free to leave.”

Midoriya looks at him and Shouta knows that if he wanted to, he could probably finish the puzzle of Midoriya and his quirk and what happened between middle school and UA right now if he wanted to, he could pull on all the threads and untangle the whole mess.

But doing so would hurt Midoriya. So he sets aside the snarled mess of questions and asks the only one that is important to him right now, “Are you safe?”

“What?” It is clear this was not the question Midoriya was expecting Shouta to ask with the way he reads back in his seat, eyes going wide.

“I know your quirk came in very late and you didn’t have much control over it at the beginning of the year, so I just, I need to make sure you’re safe, Midoriya.”

“Yes, I’m safe, Sensei,” Midoriya answers hesitantly. And Shouta is not sure if he entirely believes Midoriya, but he knows he has to trust the kid on this one. So he nods his head.

“Alright then, you’re free to go,” Shouta says, leaning back in his seat.

Midoriya does not move from his seat though, eyebrows Dean together as he stares down at the floor before he asks, “Can-can I ask a question?”

“Of course, Midoriya.”

“Bakugo-“

“Will be welcomed back into the Hero Course once he’s proven he deserves to be here.”

“He passed the entrance exam though.”

“He did. But being a Hero isn’t just about accomplishments, or ambition. They help certainly, but being a Hero is about how you treat the people in your care.”

Midoriya is quiet for a moment and then he asks another question, “If you had known me when I was Quirkless, do you think you would have thought I could be a Hero?”

Shout pauses for a moment as he turns the question over in his mind before he answers, “I don’t know. I don’t know what I would have thought then. I was a different person then.

“But what I would have thought, what I would have done doesn’t really matter. It is what I have done, what I am doing, and what I will do that matters. I may not have known you back then, but I know you now Midoriya, and you are a Hero.”

There are several beats of silence that pass between the two of them before Midoriya stands up and says, “thank you for answering my questions.”

The boy heads for the door, but before he can disappear from view, Shouta says, “We’re gonna get better kid, I promise.”

Midoriya gives him a slight nod of acknowledgement, and then he walks out of the room, closing the door softly behind him.