It’s in the dead of winter that it happens.
From where he’s working inside the dorms, Aizawa can see out the window, and has been watching the snowstorm building for the last few hours. Visibility is low and snow blows across the campus, making Aizawa duck into his wool scarf, content that he gets to stay inside for a while longer. After all, the dorms are warm and right now, empty, and he doesn’t have to be anywhere for the next few hours. He would be perfectly happy staying inside, looking over his lesson plans and Toshinori’s, sitting in the common room with his laptop on the table, a blanket pulled over his shoulders—if he hadn’t caught sight of the thing that’s been distracting him for the last hour or so.
The kids are all set to go home for the holidays. Aizawa had made sure they’d all be fine, had set them all up with the proper amount of security and surveillance, had worked into the nights to make sure everyone was set up with proper communication and he could reach the parents at any time, all so the kids could have a few days to spend with their families. Everyone had been appreciative and happy, most opting to leave as soon as possible, except one kid.
Aizawa looks up from his work again, for what feels like the thousandth time, and sees Todoroki Shouto still standing near the entrance to the dorms.
He knows Todoroki was supposed to be picked up hours ago. It had been part of the plan that Aizawa had meticulously set up so that he knows where all the kids are at any given point. His father—a man Aizawa has never been particularly fond of—had been the one signed up to pick him up, and yet, the tall, fiery man is nowhere to be seen.
About an hour ago, Todoroki had told him that he was going to wait outside for his father. Aizawa can still see him out there, a bag slung over his body, standing with his back to the window Aizawa looks out of, dressed in a heavy coat and a hat.
Sighing, Aizawa gives up on working for now, shrugs off the warm blanket around his shoulders, and gets up from the floor, leaving the comfort of the table with the heater under it. He paces the floor, crossing his arms as he leans on the picture windows near the door.
He frowns, closing his dry eyes for a moment, before digging his phone from the pocket of his sweatpants.
Hizashi is the first number on his speed-dial.
“Shouta!” Contrary to the slow warmth of the dorm and the quiet that Aizawa’s been able to enjoy for the last few hours, the voice hero’s tone is loud as he all but yells Aizawa’s name in excitement. There’s hardly a pause before Hizashi starts talking more, and Aizawa’s more than used to it by now. “Babe, you want me to come get you? I know it’s early, but the kids are all gone, right?”
“Actually,” Aizawa cuts in, looking out the window at the child left behind. His voice is quiet, softer, deeper than Hizashi’s, and he considers his words before going on. “There’s a bit of a problem.”
“Oh? What is it?” Hizashi calms down a little, concern seeping into his voice.
Aizawa watches Todoroki for a long moment, letting a beat of silence fall between him and the man on the other end of the phone.
Finally, he breathes out, and answers Hizashi.
“Todoroki’s father seems to have forgotten about him.”
He can hear the excitement fall completely from Hizashi, even when he doesn’t immediately speak. When he does, his voice is far quieter and more serious, “Endeavor ? Did you try calling him?”
Aizawa makes a hum of agreement, watching as the kid outside checks his phone, his shoulders falling a little as he does, “I’ve texted, called, emailed. There’s no answer.”
Hizashi doesn’t say anything.
Aizawa’s voice takes on a tone of annoyance. With Hizashi, he doesn’t try to hide it, “I had a feeling something like this would happen. Endeavor never seems to take his son’s safety seriously. Todoroki’s been waiting for him outside in this weather for an hour.”
“You feel bad for him,” Hizashi says softly.
Aizawa hums, but doesn’t deny it.
“Shouta, I can duck out of here now. Let me try to get to his father. It’s fine if the kid comes with us to dinner or has to stay the night with us. I’ll be around to pick you up around six.”
Aizawa sighs, and it’s a content breath. It’s a plan he can agree to.
“Let me know if you get ahold of him,” He tells Hizashi before hanging up. He takes a moment, sending Hizashi Endeavor’s contact details, and moves to his own temporary room in the dorms, quickly finding the black jacket he’d been wearing before and shrugging it on over his sweater. He doesn’t bother with gloves or anything, already wearing a scarf, and shoves his hands in his pockets as he opens the doors of the dorm and the cold blasts at him.
Visibility is low and the cold is horrible and Aizawa hates being uncomfortable more than anything, but he lets the wind and the snow blow at him, locking up the dorm with his keys before fighting his way through the harshly blowing wind towards the gate. It’s harder than he’d thought it’d be and the weather is worse than he’d expected, but he makes his way to the gate after a few long minutes of trudging through the cold, wet snow.
Todoroki doesn’t seem to notice him at first, and Aizawa doesn’t announce himself, instead standing at the opposite end of the gate, leaning forward to look into the distance, at the road that runs through the campus. It’s as empty as it’s been for the past hour, the same as Aizawa had seen it through the live footage he’d pulled up on his laptop. There’s no sign of the older Todoroki, the man that’s left a bad taste in Aizawa’s mouth for years, and Aizawa waits, glancing at his student as Shouto looks at his phone again.
Understandably, the kid jumps when he goes to look at the road and catches sight of Aizawa a few feet away from him, unruly black hair blowing with the blasting wind and trying to blink the snow out of his eyes.
In fact, Shouto nearly jumps out of his skin and in any other situation, it might be amusing, but it’s not, as Aizawa stands out here in the cold with him, the scar below his eye starting to burn in the frigid cold.
Shouto’s voice is higher pitched than Aizawa has ever heard it, and the kid leaps back, nearly crashing into the open gate behind him. Aizawa narrows his eyes at him, looking him over, noticing that the kid does look a little underdressed. His coat is unbuttoned and open and he really should be wearing gloves or a scarf or something and if it weren’t for his quirk, Aizawa would have him sent to the infirmary to get him checked for frost-bite.
“You should come back inside,” He tells Todoroki, frowning at him, anxious to get back inside himself. There’s a reason he stays inside most of his life unless it’s for his jobs, and it’s because Aizawa’s developed a dislike for weather and its extremeness.
“My father is coming,” Todoroki tells him, his voice falling back to its usual quiet, serious affect. Denial. Aizawa knows it too well.
“I’ve been contacting him for over an hour,” He sighs, deciding that telling Shouto the truth is probably best. He can be brutally honest, but hurting the kid emotionally isn’t something that Aizawa wants to do, especially when he suspects Todoroki already knows what’s going on. “Come inside. You can sit with me while I work.”
Todoroki hesitates, not saying anything, and Aizawa suppresses a shiver at the cold air. Somehow, it makes sense that there would be a horrible snowstorm today of all days.
“…You’re a teacher,” Shouto says, looking away from him, staring down at his phone again. Despite his quirk, Aizawa can see the redness in his bare fingertips. He barely catches Todoroki’s next words, but he does, and they just make Aizawa stare harder at him, “You shouldn’t have to be responsible for me. I’ll just get in your way.”
“You’re fine,” Aizawa pushes his face further into his scarf, trying to seek out any warmth, missing the heated table he’d been working at. “You know better than that. My responsibility for you doesn’t end at the classroom. You may be able to heat your body better than other people, but I’m not going to let you stand out here in the cold alone.”
Another pause. It feels like he’s colder than he’s ever been in his life and Aizawa hates every second of standing out here in the middle of a snowstorm, but the thought of leaving Todoroki alone here doesn’t cross his mind. It’s irrational to do that. He’ll stand out here as long as it takes to convince the kid to come inside, even if he gives himself frostbite from it.
But, Todoroki concedes. He doesn’t look at Aizawa, but he hears the boy’s mumbled response, “Alright. I’ll come inside.”
Shouto follows him back to the dorms. Aizawa is ecstatic to get back to the warmth of his workstation as he unlocks the front door to the dorm with numb hands, opening the door and letting Todoroki in before following the kid. Aizawa throws his jacket on a chair in the common room, sitting himself on a cushion on the floor in the same place he was before, not taking the warmth that the heater under the table provides for granted.
Todoroki watches him as Aizawa yawns and opens his laptop again. It takes him a moment to realize that Shouto is waiting for instruction.
“You can sit down,” He tells the boy, raising an eyebrow at him. He doesn’t offer further instruction, watching his student as the kid slowly takes off his coat and stiffly makes his way to the couch just behind Aizawa. He keeps his gaze on Todoroki, noticing how he looks more than a little uncomfortable.
Shouto doesn’t speak. Aizawa’s irritated, but it’s definitely not at him.
He recognizes this, even after all these years, and it cements in place what he’s been wondering about since he first got this class. Since he first met this kid.
He knows Todoroki won’t answer him if he directly asks about it. It’s familiar to Aizawa and it’s easier than ever to pick up on his reactions, since it’s just the two of them alone in the dorm.
Aizawa drums his fingers on the table, measuring out his words before speaking, “Mic is trying to locate your father now. He’ll call if he finds anything out.”
Silence. The kid’s mismatched eyes wander away from him.
He decides to change the subject, breathing a sigh that he knows will sound annoyed, and he runs a hand through his bushy, unruly hair, “That guy could get anyone to talk, with his voice—he’s been itching to get out of his radio station’s fundraiser, anyways. He’ll be grateful that you gave him an excuse to get out of there.”
“Oh,” Todoroki says, sounding distant. “I thought Mic-sensei liked doing radio work.”
Aizawa crooked a smirk, remembering Hizashi’s insistent whining over the last few days, “He’s loved it ever since he was a kid, but he finds a way to complain and whine about anything. Don’t be fooled.”
He watches Todoroki as he glances at Aizawa before quickly looking away.
“Speaking of him,” Aizawa glances at the clock on the computer, seeing that he had about two hours until Hizashi would inevitably be here to pick him up. “If no one shows by six, you’re coming to dinner with us.”
Immediately, Todoroki opens his mouth to protest, but Aizawa’s quicker.
“That wasn’t a question. You can’t sit around waiting for him all day without eating. You’ll drive yourself nuts.”
Todoroki still doesn’t look at him, still staring out the window Aizawa had previously been distracted by, “Yes, sir.”
His voice is robotic. Aizawa makes a face, frowning at him.
“Don’t call me that outside of class, ugh.”
Finally, Todoroki turned to him, “Then what do I—”
“‘Aizawa’ or just ‘Sensei’ is fine,” Aizawa turns back to his computer, glancing at the window of live security camera footage he has pulled up. The road is as empty and snowy as ever. He pauses before going back to looking over the lesson plans he’s in the process of preparing for the next semester, “Do something fun, kid. Play a game or read. I’ll keep an eye out for your father.”
Todoroki doesn’t say anything, but Aizawa’s nerves are laid to rest when he hears Shouto going through the bag he’d put down on the couch, and when he hears pages rustling. It’s enough to get him back into what he was doing before, looking over documents of lesson plans, making occasional changes here and there, marking them up with notes. Every few minutes, he checks the security camera, and every time, it’s the same thing. An empty road with snow dusting blowing across the pavement. Todoroki’s quiet, and Aizawa finds it in himself to relax a bit, his eyes drooping with usual tiredness as he starts the everyday fight of keeping awake.
It’s thirty minutes before Todoroki Shouto speaks again.
Aizawa’s about ready to switch over to looking over the hero work he has lined up. He’s been putting it off a bit, not wanting to think about going out on patrols in this weather, and hoping that the storm clears up in the next few days before he wants to patrol. He’s been caught up with trying to get the kids out of here for the holidays and there’s a few requests piled up, and Aizawa’s readying himself to start sorting through them when he hears a shift behind him and then, Todoroki’s quiet voice breaks the silence of the common room.
“Aizawa-sensei,” He starts, making Aizawa pause where he was typing on his laptop, fingers hovering over the keys. He waits, not looking back at Todoroki, listening to the twinge of uncertainty in his usually stoic voice. “You’ve worked with my father before, right?”
Now, he does turn to look at the kid. Todoroki appears to have relaxed a little, sitting cross-legged on the couch, a booklet in one hand and a pencil in the other, and Aizawa quickly figures out that the kid has been working on some sort of word puzzle behind him. Shouto leans forward slightly, his mismatched eyes focused on Aizawa, staring at him, the slightest hint of redness blooming across his face, as if he’s embarrassed. Kids, he knows, are easy to read. It’s part of the reason he works with them.
“Worked with is a strong term,” Aizawa doesn’t try to hide the displeasure in his voice at all, and he frowns openly at the thought of the man in question. He leans on the table, the warmth from it creeping into him further and shaking the last bit of the cold outside from Aizawa’s body. “We’ve been associates before, sparingly. You’re probably aware that I don’t really work with anyone, and your father doesn’t, either.”
It’s amusing, almost, as he remembers his few encounters with Endeavor. Aizawa himself likes to work alone, but he’s an underground hero whose gimmick relies on stealth. Endeavor, on the other hand, has always refused to work with others out of pure selfishness and pride.
He breathes a small laugh as Todoroki continues to stare at him, “I do actually work with other people. Mic, namely, but your father has always been adamant about working alone. I just prefer to only work with people I know well. There’s value in partnership, as you’ve found out.”
Todoroki nods, and Aizawa knows what’s coming next. The kid bites his bottom lip, eyes flickering away from his, and Aizawa waits, not pushing him.
It comes, and Aizawa expects it.
“What do you think about him?”
Even though he’d expected it, Aizawa takes a moment to think. He’s not a fast talker. He likes having time to prepare his responses. He knows words and meanings are important, and he wants to say the right thing, the logical thing. Right now, it’s a fight between telling the brutal truth and bad-mouthing the elder Todoroki in front of his son or watering it down and keeping his manners in check.
Aizawa leans his cheek on his hand, deciding to go with the latter, “I’ve never liked Endeavor much. In the times I’ve met him, I’ve always had to help keep him in check. He’s irrational, impulsive, and unnecessarily violent and I don’t like any of those qualities. There’s lots of reasons to become a hero or stay one and I don’t have a problem with most of them, but his goal has always primarily been to take down another hero, and that’s not something I have any respect for.”
He notices the way Todoroki’s eyes widen at him and the way he doesn’t say anything, his mouth slightly open. Aizawa gives him a moment, but keeps talking,
“He acts immaturely in every situation I’ve met him in, and he always treats people terribly. I may not be the most friendly or courteous person, but I have respect for people working with me,” Aizawa looks back at his computer, looking at the security footage. The road is empty. “To me, your father is no better than a child who thinks he’s special.”
Todoroki is dead silent behind him. Even his breathing is shallow. Aizawa keeps his focus on the screen in front of him, but he can’t bring himself to resume working.
He’d watered it down as much as he could, deciding not to go into specific instances or anything outside of professionalism, but he knows it was still harsh. And he’d meant it to be. He can’t have any respect for someone who forgets about his child for hours. Aizawa looks after twenty children every day, and he knows their whereabouts every second, even now when the kids are off with their families. He doesn’t understand how Endeavor forgets about Shouto when Aizawa has been drilling it into every parents’ head for weeks how important obeying by his set pickup and dropoff schedule is.
He knows it’s probably intentional in some way or another, and that just solidifies the worry Aizawa’s had since the beginning of the schoolyear.
Todoroki doesn’t say anything more and when Aizawa looks back at him, he sees the flicker of emotions playing on the kid’s usually expressionless, serious face. It’s in his mismatched eyes and the slight quiver of his lips, and Todoroki looks undeniably upset.
Now, he figures, is as good of a time as any.
Aizawa leans back against the couch, keeping his dark gaze on Todoroki’s upset face, and speaks slowly to him, in a soft voice he rarely uses with students, “Kid, I know I might not seem like the friendliest person around, but you should know that I do care about you. There’s no logical reason for you to live in a place where you’re not safe.”
Todoroki holds his gaze for a long moment, before looking away, pointedly, at the window, murmuring similar words to what he’d said outside, “You shouldn’t have to be responsible for me.”
Aizawa sighs, closing his eyes for a moment. He knows the feeling. It’s almost tangible to him, even after years and years after getting out of a similar, yet different, situation. It’s a little disconcerting how much of his younger self he sees in Todoroki.
“I told you outside,” Aizawa chooses his words carefully, reiterating the same point he’s made before. “My responsibility for you doesn’t end at the classroom. Every part of your life is partially my responsibility. Your father doesn’t scare or intimidate me. If you need help, I can get it for you, but you and I both know that you need to ask for it first.”
With that, Aizawa’s phone rings, buzzing in the place where he’d set it down, drawing both his attention and Todoroki’s. Hizashi’s name comes up, as well as his contact photo of him cuddling with one of their cats, and Aizawa sees the confusion in Shouto’s face.
He answers the call and leaves the phone on the table, hitting a button to turn on the speakerphone function. Todoroki is old enough to hear their conversation.
Hizashi draws Aizawa’s name out, long and loud and full of the energy that Aizawa has come to expect from Hizashi. He glances at Todoroki and the kid winces with Hizashi’s voice. Hizashi has a way of defying the volume that Aizawa has his phone set to, but he’s used to it by now.
He decides not to bother with professionalism with Hizashi, given that Hizashi has already pretty much destroyed that by calling Aizawa by his given name only. Besides, it doesn’t look like Endeavor has any intention of showing up any time soon, and the kid will surely find out when they go out to dinner, anyways.
“Hizashi. So loud,” Aizawa comments, putting on a façade of fake-annoyance in his voice. It drops out of his tone in a second, though, since Aizawa’s a fan of getting to the point. “What did you find out?”
“Well I—” There’s a pause, and then a hum. “Oh, I’m on speakerphone? You must have the kid there with you. Hi, Todoroki! Anyways, I tracked down Endeavor…”
Quietly, from behind him, Shouto whispers to Aizawa, “…Mic-sensei?”
It’s definitely a question. Aizawa can’t blame him. Hizashi’s real name isn’t well known, and the kids all know him only as Mic. It doesn’t help that Hizashi’s contact photo is of him at home, where Hizashi wears his hair down and looks far more normal. Hizashi does have a very distinct voice, though, and it’d be odd if Shouto hadn’t recognized him. Aizawa only nods in response to him.
On the phone, Hizashi continues, clearly not having heard Shouto’s whisper, “…So, I know you wanted me to call him or something, but he wasn’t answering, like you said! I might’ve gotten in his face a little, sorry, Shouta. Well, I guess you would’ve done worse. But, I found some stuff out! Hm, how to say this—?”
There’s a hesitation and Aizawa knows Mic is trying to think of how to phrase what’s coming next with Todoroki in the room. He doesn’t exactly know what happened, but he knows what’s coming—the realization that Todoroki hasn’t been left here by accident.
Hizashi clicks his tongue on the other end of the phone and hums again and then speaks up in his usual fast speech, “I guess Endeavor wanted Todoroki to come to him? He said something about it being good training. I don’t know—Shouta, I don’t like the guy at all. I tried being polite—I really did—but no matter what I said, he’s not budging. He doesn’t understand at all! I don’t know how he can jeopardize Todoroki like that…”
Aizawa half tunes Hizashi out as he looks over Todoroki. The kid is staring at the phone, his body stiff and rigid, his face stoic.
“I didn’t know…” Todoroki murmurs, and Aizawa knows that Shouto isn’t talking to him or Hizashi. His face softens as he looks at the kid, and he cuts Hizashi off as the other man launches into another bout of thinking out loud.
“Even if you’d known, I wouldn’t have let you go,” He says, and Hizashi falls silent on the phone. He runs a hand through his unruly hair, pushing it out of his face so he can watch Todoroki better. He has his mismatched eyes fixed on Aizawa now, and he can see the kid struggling to keep up the emotionless façade. “Your father apparently has no understanding of the situation at hand, even though I’ve spent the last few weeks telling every parent how important my schedule is. He’s the idiot here; not you.”
Hizashi speaks up now, and his voice is serious and lower than before, and Todoroki seems almost surprised to hear it as he looks back at the phone on the table, “Todoroki, Shouta has this set up so that he knows where every kid is all the time. He’s really thorough about this kinda stuff. Besides, this was supposed to be a vacation for the kids, wasn’t it? Eh, I can’t forgive Endeavor for trying to put more stress on Todoroki when he’s been through so much this year. Shouta, that guy’s a real piece of work. Babe, I dunno if—”
“Hizashi,” Aizawa hisses at the nickname before Hizashi can get another word in edgewise. He looks away from Todoroki, and the room goes silent.
And then, quietly, “Oops.”
Aizawa runs a hand through his hair again, but his fingers knot in it this time, and he groans at Hizashi’s habit of running his mouth.
“Well, I mean,” He can hear Hizashi getting excited again as he tries to explain his mistake. “The kids usually find out eventually, don’t they? Hey, Todoroki, you gotta keep it a secret, but your favorite teacher and your homeroom teacher are married!”
He’s never needed convincing that Hizashi is a total idiot who’s actually too smart for his own good, but it’s never been as obvious as it is now.
The good thing is that, as Aizawa glances back at Todoroki and sees that there’s an almost-smile on his face, it’s distracted the kid from the fact that his father had been more willing to let him trek through a snowstorm in the name of training than come get him himself. It’s something, at the very least, and Aizawa doesn’t reprimand Hizashi for that exact reason. He gives another fake-annoyed groan, and listens as Hizashi’s excited voice picks up again.
“Now that that cat is out of the bag, it doesn’t seem like Endeavor is willing to budge. Ugh, I tried to convince him, Shouta, but the guy is more stubborn than you are! Except, not the cute kind. I’ll keep trying, but I’ll be there at six to pick you and Todoroki up for dinner.”
Aizawa taps his fingers on the table in thought, easing the words out, half-knowing what kind of reaction they’ll have, “Why don’t you let me talk to him? I’m sure I could convince him—”
There’s no hesitation and Hizashi’s voice drops to a serious tone, “Babe, we both know that is not a good idea. You don’t react well when parents are… like this.”
Quietly, Todoroki whispers to him, “What does he mean?”
Aizawa just shakes his head in response. Unfortunately, Hizashi’s right. Aizawa’s never liked Endeavor, and when parents act like this, it’s hard for him to think rationally, admittedly.
“…Makes sense,” Aizawa mumbles just loud enough for Hizashi to hear him.
“I’ll try to wear him down,” Hizashi reassures him. “I’ll let you know if anything happens. See you in a few hours, babe!”
The call is over, then, and Aizawa gives Hizashi one last irritated sigh before hanging up.
The common room is silent for a moment. It’s warm in here, almost homely, and there’s the soft yellow light from the lights above blanketing the room. He can hear Todoroki breathing, can feel the slight tension, as if the kid is trying to look for the right words to say. The snowstorm outside is still going, and again, Aizawa’s grateful that he’s inside and not out there, remembering the way the cold winter had crept into his skin when he’d been talking to Shouto. Inside, it’s warm and quiet, and Aizawa likes that, and he feels almost at home here, even though it’s not the house he lives in with Hizashi. He’s worked hard to make this place a safe environment, a place the kids can call home without worrying about their safety.
He thinks that maybe that’s why Todoroki chose to not go home until the very latest date.
“Does he always talk that much?” Todoroki asks him, leaning forward, his tone flat and only giving off a hint of curiosity.
“Unfortunately,” Aizawa answers him, frowning in his usual fake-irritation as he turns back to his work, a screen full of piled up hero work greeting him. The window of security cam footage is still ultimately unchanged and Endeavor is unsurprisingly nowhere to be seen. He prepares himself to go back to work, wondering if Todoroki will leave the conversation or continue it. He doesn’t mind either way. “I’ve been listening to the guy talk for fifteen years. You get used to it eventually.”
There’s a short pause, and Aizawa can tell that Shouto wants to talk more.
“Sensei, it wouldn’t be too much of a trouble for me to go meet him—”
“Maybe not on your end,” Aizawa says, reading over the villain cases that he’s been given. It’s nothing huge, but there’s a few cases and he’s busy deciding which to do alone and which to take Hizashi along on. He brushes his long hair out of his eyes, resting his cheek on his hand, “You need to understand that it’s not you giving me trouble. It’s your father. I had a schedule. I need to know where every one of you kids are at every second. Every other parent understands that.”
Aizawa opens a window to respond to one particular case, but he hesitates, fingers hovering over the keys on his keyboard, his voice softening, “It’s cruel, anyways. Your father isn’t a teacher. Your training is not his responsibility and I’ve warned him before to stop these ridiculous training exercises with you. He clearly doesn’t know the first thing about it, and it’s going to do more harm than good. This was supposed to give you a respite from training. I organized this to give you all a break.”
He hadn’t really been planning on admitting that he’s contacted Endeavor about this before, but he makes the decision, in the moment, to tell Todoroki. He’s not completely sure why, but part of him just wants the kid to know that his father isn’t the only person Shouto has around.
He just barely catches Todoroki’s response, “I understand.”
“It’s best not to think about it right now,” Aizawa tells him, going back to the task at hand. “Let us take care of things. It’s not your job to deal with this.”
With that, he dives back into his work, writing out responses to cases and reading through the work that’s been piling up. It takes a bit, but behind him, he eventually hears the rustling of pages and realizes that Todoroki has gone back to the booklet he’d been working on before.
It’s easy to slip back into his work. There’s a message here and there from Hizashi, mostly just telling him that nothing much is changing. After about an hour, Aizawa gets up and turns on the radio to Hizashi’s station, the common room filling with the noise of the holiday fundraiser that Hizashi had been at before he’d left to deal with Endeavor. Hizashi doesn’t return, much to Aizawa’s amusement, especially as he listens to his radio coworkers offhandedly complain about his absence.
It’s nearing six and Aizawa is getting ready to close up.
He sends off a last response to the agency he uses for hero work, looking over his outlines of what he’s going to do when. He closes his laptop, yawning and hanging his head for a moment to rest his eyes from looking at the computer screen. This apparently gets Todoroki’s attention, because the boy speaks up.
“I’m coming with you?” He asks, and Aizawa glances back at him, finding that Shouto has made himself more comfortable on the couch. He’s all but curled up at one end of it, a little further through the book of word puzzles than Aizawa remembers him being, looking undeniably relaxed and content.
“I’m not going to let you starve, nor am I going to let you stay here alone,” Aizawa shrugs off the blanket around his shoulders, tightening the scarf around his neck before getting up from his place on the floor. “It’s better to be around other people. Mic isn’t that bad of company.”
Todoroki stares up at him. Aizawa breathes a sigh.
“Ruminating isn’t going to get you anywhere. We’re both more than happy to have you come with us.”
Aizawa leaves it at that, crossing the common room floor to the temporary bedroom he has in the dorms. As comfortable and homely as this place is, Aizawa is happy to be going back to his actual home. The past semester has been hectic and Aizawa often stays in the small apartment at the back of the dorm. It’s tiny and doesn’t have a lot of home comforts, like his cats or his loud partner, but he sleeps better knowing that the kids are safer with him there and he can protect them at a moment’s notice. He still misses home, though, and he’s happy to be going back to his own house for the holidays, even if he knows that his holidays will still be spent worrying about the kids.
He has his things packed already, in a small bag, and Aizawa slings it over his body before rifling through his drawers to find a hat and gloves. Hizashi will kill him if he doesn’t dress properly for the weather, and he closes up the tiny apartment, locking it with his keys, and goes back to where Todoroki sits.
He throws the extra scarf and gloves he’d picked up to him, raising an eyebrow at him.
“I don’t need—”
“Yes, you do,” Aizawa cuts him off, crouching down to slide his laptop and paperwork into his bag. When he turns back to Todoroki, the boy is holding the clothing Aizawa threw to him in his hands, a thin flush of embarrassment across his face. “Even with your quirk, you can still get frostbite. Not to mention that the cold is uncomfortable. And Mic will get after me if I don’t make you dress for the weather.”
Aizawa shuts off the radio and, with a long look out the windows, pulls the blinds shut. He gives the common room a last look-over, making sure he hasn’t missed anything. He’ll shut off the lights and lock up the building when they leave. The blinds are pulled and his apartment and the kids’ rooms are all locked up. He closes his tired eyes, letting out a relieved breath, the feeling of release starting to settle in. He knows he won’t stop worrying, even over the small vacation, but besides Todoroki, everything’s gone as planned. He’s well aware of where every one of the twenty kids are, and he recognizes that they’re safe. It’s enough to take the edge off of his nerves, at the very least.
Silently, Aizawa crouches down at the table again, digging through his paperwork to find a sheet of paper without much written on it. He says nothing as he writes a string of numbers down and tears it off from the rest of the sheet, and he still keeps quiet as he holds it out to Todoroki, staring down at him with narrowed eyes.
Todoroki’s mismatched eyes go from the writing on the paper to his teacher’s face. Aizawa doesn’t look away from him.
It’s nearing six and Aizawa knows that Hizashi will be here soon. He’s always punctual, after all.
Todoki Shouto stares up at him, and he doesn’t seem to know what to do, but he takes the slip of paper between his fingers. He can see again that Shouto is struggling to keep up a façade of stoicism, but the confusion and emotions are slipping through with the kid’s slightly widened eyes and his open mouth.
“My phone number,” Aizawa clarifies, keeping his gaze locked with Todoroki’s. “After we get you back to your father, I need you to call me if anything happens. Do you understand?”
These kids—sometimes, people treat them like adults. It’s true that they’re typically mature and know how to handle themselves, but Aizawa is well aware that in no circumstance, that means that they’re an adult. A mature kid is just that: a kid. Nothing more, nothing less. Aizawa has always had a talent of keeping a mutual respect with his kids, but there are times where he needs to do things that may very well destroy that respect. There are times when he has to treat them like much younger children, times when he has to do things that leave the kids with no choice, because he knows they’ll make the wrong one if they’re given the choice.
They’re kids. The world will sometimes treat them like adults, but they’re not.
Todoroki doesn’t say anything.
“Do you understand?” Aizawa repeats, his voice a little harsher this time. He doesn’t want to hurt Shouto, but it’s necessary that he understands what Aizawa is asking of him.
Aizawa gives him a hard look.
“—Aizawa-sensei,” Todoroki corrects, and Aizawa’s expression softens.
“Good,” He tells him, turning away from Shouto to pull on the jacket that he left on the chair.
Right on time, as the clock hits the hour, Aizawa’s phone buzzes with a message from Hizashi.
Babe, I’m HEEEERE!!!!
Aizawa tucks the phone back into the pocket of his sweatpants, and glances back at Todoroki.
“Put your coat on. Mic’s here,” He tells him.
Todoroki starts doing as he’s told, his fingers visibly shaking as he does the buttons on his coat. The gloves he pulls on are too big for him, and Aizawa remembers that they’re his size and Shouto’s hands aren’t big enough yet. The scarf is long on him, too, but at least the kid is dressed for the weather now, in contrast to when Aizawa had stood at the gate with him.
Todoroki gets to his feet and Aizawa moves to turn off the lights. The common room goes dark and the two of them are left in the near darkness, illuminated only by the little light that seeps through the blinds covering the windows, and Todoroki looks up at him.
“Why?” He asks, making Aizawa stop, a hand on the front door of the dorms.
It’s familiar. Too familiar.
“Because I know there’s something going on,” Aizawa says simply, frowning in thought at Todoroki. He takes a breath and continues on before Shouto can say anything, before he can deny what Aizawa just said. “Because I care about you kids. Because there’s no reason for you to have to stay somewhere you’re not safe. Because this is a responsibility I knowingly took on when I became a teacher. Because I want to.”
Todoroki looks away from him and won’t meet his eyes again, even as he comes forward to stand with Aizawa. Aizawa unlocks the door, pulling it open a bit, before hesitating.
Next to him, Todoroki looks small. He’s not particularly smaller than his classmates, but he’s also clearly not full grown.
“Because you’re a kid, and it’s my job to make sure you’re safe,” Aizawa murmurs, half to himself. “And that job doesn’t end when you’re out of my classroom.”
He says nothing more. He pulls the door open and motions for Todoroki to go. He steps out behind the boy, pulling his own gloves on as he locks up the dorms, giving the building one last look over before turning to the road. There, right at the gates, is Hizashi in his car. Aizawa can see his huge grin from here, and Hizashi sounds the horn at them with an excited wave. Aizawa rolls his eyes, but starts the journey to the gate again, Todoroki trailing behind him.
He leaves the empty dorm behind, and Hizashi greets he and Todoroki enthusiastically, immediately babbling to Todoroki about the radio station as Aizawa gets in the passenger’s seat, looking out at the dorm he’s leaving behind for a few days.
He closes his eyes and when he does, he can still see Todoroki staring up at him with wide, confused eyes as Aizawa gave him the paper with his phone number on it.
Things were different for Aizawa. He was much poorer, and his father hadn’t been a pro hero. But, fundamentally, they’re similar, and Aizawa sees himself—too much of himself—in Todoroki’s mismatched eyes and stoic face.
Unfortunately, as Aizawa has come to realize over the last few months, he cares. It happens with every class; Aizawa gets attached eventually. He has a responsibility to train the next generation’s heroes, but the fact of the matter is that they’re just kids. Todoroki is a kid, and as much as he hates to admit it, Endeavor’s actions, or lack thereof, have left him irrationally angry. Aizawa has a responsibility to this kid, and he’s attached to him, and in the end, Aizawa knows what he has a responsibility to do.
He gives a small sigh, and tries to come back to the conversation. Hizashi is listing off different types of food and trying to prompt Todoroki into choosing where they go.
Aizawa tries to force himself to relax and stay here, right now. It’s hard, though, knowing that by the end of the night, Todoroki will be back with Endeavor and Aizawa will be making a call that can’t be taken back, and the worry will set in again tenfold.
He glances over at Hizashi, meeting the other man’s green eyes. Hizashi is dressed down, and would probably be near unrecognizable to Todoroki if he hadn’t been around for the earlier phone call. Hizashi falls silent, and Aizawa feels his fingers gently touch his wrist before Hizashi’s hand slides into his.
“Ready, Shouta?” He asks, and Aizawa continues to look at him for a long moment. There’s something unsaid between them, an understanding about what they both know has to be done.
Aizawa nods, mumbling in agreement, and prepares himself for a few hours of trying to show this kid what a normal home life could be.
Todoroki’s face is hard to read, even for Aizawa, and it’s a stark reminder of the way the kid covers up his emotions.
“My only regret is not leaving sooner. Living a life full of regret is irrational, but everybody has some. This is mine. And I’d rather you not make the same mistake I did.”
Hey, remember when I said the second chapter would be shorter than the first? Wasn't that funny?
In all seriousness, the response to this fic has blown me away and I hope you all like this chapter. Thank you so much for all the wonderful comments and messages. I was planning on updating this after my other fic, but I got a lot of messages on tumblr about wanting to see an end to this, so I moved this up in priority. Tricklenitz made a wonderful cover for this chapter and im-a-little-sketchy made this beautiful fanart which they drew before the chapter even came out and their prediction was shockingly accurate!
Anyways, in interest of keeping this note short, I'll add more at the bottom.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hizashi knows Aizawa.
He’s known him for fifteen years at this point. Friends for fifteen. Dating for eleven. Married for six. Hizashi would even wager to say that he knows Aizawa better than anyone.
Aizawa has never been the most vocal person. He doesn’t talk about his feelings often. He covers things up. But, after fifteen years, he doesn’t have to say anything. Hizashi just knows.
And the moment he sees Aizawa locking up the doors to the dorms, the child of one of the most prolific heroes in the nation following behind him, he knows that Aizawa Shouta is upset.
The kid is an entirely different story.
He and Aizawa see the same kids, though Hizashi sees more than just Aizawa’s kids. They’re both teachers, but Hizashi has different responsibilities than Aizawa does. He’s the head of the English department and he teaches English for the first-years, as well as setting out the lesson plans and goals for all the other language teachers, but he doesn’t have a homeroom like Aizawa does. He’s seen Todoroki, has had the kid in his class, has talked in passing with other teachers about him. He hasn’t experienced him like Aizawa has, nor has he had him in his classroom for any extended period of time.
But even he knows that something is going on.
And maybe, just maybe, it’s because he’s seen this before, before when he had no idea what it was or what caused it. Back when he just dealt with it and tried to make things better for the person in question, back when he knew that something was different, but had no idea what it was. He remembers that well, the years of worrying, of anxiety, until he was an adult and finally figured it out. He remembers that person’s behaviors and demeanor like it was yesterday.
That person sits next to him and as Aizawa looks out the passenger’s side window at the dorm he’s leaving behind, he can tell they’re thinking the same thing. They’re thirty-one years old now. They’re adults. It’s been a long time since Aizawa left that place—thirteen years, now—but even Hizashi knows that some things just don’t go away, and that some things can never truly be fixed, especially when they live in a world where the same thing that happened to him is happening to other people, other students, other kids.
When Hizashi glances back into the back seat, pausing in his constant talking, he has to stop for a second. Todoroki Shouto is listening to him, but he has his head slightly down and he doesn’t look at Hizashi, mismatched eyes fixed on his lap, slouching slightly, red and white hair nearly covering his eyes. He even looks a bit tired.
Hizashi stops dead in his tracks. He’d thought he’d forgotten about this. He thought that fifteen years of memories would’ve deteriorated or, at the very least, wouldn’t have been as clear. But they haven’t deteriorated at all, and all Hizashi sees in the back seat of his car is fifteen year-old Aizawa, never quite meeting his eyes and never quite fully engaging with him.
He swallows hard.
“Ah, let’s see here—there’s all kinds of places open right now!” Hizashi tries to recover from his momentary silence, shooting a glance at Aizawa to find him still looking out the window. “Hm, we could go to the district near the house, just in case you gotta come back with us for the night! There’s traditional food, noodles, American food, fast food, food carts, bakeries, cafes… Hey, Todoroki, it’s your choice. What’s your favorite kinda food? We’ll go there!”
He hears a sigh from beside him and watches as Aizawa turns away from the window, and Hizashi sees that Aizawa looks undeniably tense. It’s in his body, with the way every muscle looks tight, and in his face, with Aizawa’s narrowed dark eyes and the slight, concerned frown on his face. Aizawa meets his eyes, and he looks tired, more so than usual.
Aizawa holds his gaze as a small silence falls between the three of them. It’s short lived, but Hizashi knows there’s something in that expression Aizawa gives him, something that goes deeper than their conversation about where to go for dinner, and he knows it involves Todoroki Shouto and how much the kid reminds him of a younger Aizawa.
Hizashi blinks and feels something almost foreign.
It burns inside his chest, hot and nearly suffocating for the moment that Hizashi lets it be and doesn’t push it down. He remembers this, too. He remembers this from thirteen years ago, and how it’d spiraled into Hizashi hating two people with every fiber of his being. He breathes in, and shoves it down. This is neither the time nor the place. They have a responsibility tonight. A responsibility to this kid.
He reaches out, his fingers finding Aizawa’s wrist. He slides his index and middle finger along Aizawa’s pulse, glancing back as Todoroki finally breaks the silence.
“I like soba. Cold soba. But we don’t have to—”
“Noodles it is!” Hizashi says, putting on the same loud, joyful tone he’d had just a moment before.
Hizashi is quiet again, and slides his palm into Aizawa’s, drawing the other man’s attention back to him again as he locks his fingers with Aizawa’s, “Ready, Shouta?”
Aizawa nods at him, keeping his silence, and Hizashi turns the key in the ignition of his car and the engine roars to life as Hizashi puts it in drive and lets go of Aizawa’s hand, easing the car out of the street the dorms are on.
The storm goes on around them, and it’s snowing heavily again. Visibility is low, and Hizashi can’t see more than a few yards in front of him. The ride is slow, with Hizashi driving slowly through the streets in order to avoid ice. He talks the entire way, choosing to babble about the charity drive at the station in an attempt to amuse Aizawa and Todoroki by talking about how annoying his coworkers have been through the entire ordeal, and how they’d begged him to stay when Hizashi had to duck out to find Endeavor. He laughs and tries telling jokes and eventually, Aizawa starts talking, too, giving him his usual dry remarks and asking him his usual questions about certain coworkers and interns at the station.
Todoroki stays mostly quiet, but when Hizashi glances in his rear-view mirror, he sees that the kid is looking at him and seems to be paying attention to their conversation, despite his silence.
The atmosphere in the car slowly gets less and less tense and eventually, Hizashi realizes that trying to show this kid what a normal life is like isn’t going to be that hard. When he’d looked back and seen Todoroki with the exact expression that Hizashi remembered on a young Aizawa’s face, he’d thought it was going to be damn near impossible to even look at the kid and not remember that. It’s easier now, though, and the initial shock wears off quickly.
The streets are pretty empty, and it’s to be expected with the snow storm blowing around them. He and Aizawa don’t live far from the school—a couple blocks at most, and intentionally so—but the district they live near is popular and usually pretty busy, especially now that the holidays are quickly approaching. Soon enough, Hizashi discovers that even in the terrible weather, tons of people are still lining the main street, a road lined with restaurants bakeries, and shops. There’s people all along the sidewalk in crowds, some leaning in to look at displays in the shop windows, others taking photos with each other or smoking outside the restaurants.
“Crowded,” Aizawa comments, and Hizashi glances over to find him ducking into his scarf, as if already preparing for the cold wind outside.
“It’s the holidays, babe. Of course it’s gonna be crowded,” Hizashi tells him, looking in the mirror to see Todoroki staring out the window with wide eyes. Hizashi gives a small laugh at his expression—the kid looks like a smaller child staring in awe at the busy street.
“Never been to this part of town, Todoroki?” He guesses.
He’s able to catch the slight flush on Todoroki’s face and the kid looks away, embarrassed, before Hizashi goes back to focusing on the road, having been at a stop behind another car.
“I don’t get out much, Sensei,” Todoroki admits.
“Ah, so formal!” Hizashi’s voice is louder than before and he means it playfully, but truthfully, he doesn’t really want to be this kid’s teacher right now. This—what they’re doing—goes beyond being a teacher, and Hizashi knows that the line between the staff being the kids’ teachers and guardians was crossed the second the kids moved into the dorms, and that by doing this—by taking this kid into their care for the night—they’re further crossing into that territory. And he’s fine with that. “Seriously, you don’t have to be so formal with me. I mean, you can be if you wanna, but you can call me ‘Yamada’ or ‘Hizashi’ if you want to. I don’t mind.”
There’s a beat, and he feels Aizawa’s eyes on him, and Hizashi wonders if he said something wrong.
“Sorry,” He hears the kid mutter, and Hizashi feels like there’s a hole in his chest the moment the word comes from Todoroki’s mouth. He has to fight to not look back at him, to keep his eyes on the road, and not immediately try to reassure him.
“It’s alright, kid,” He tries to keep his tone loud and happy, like it always is, but he wavers a bit. “It’s fine, really! Man, even I’d still have trouble calling my old teachers by their names. Hell, even Shouta still accidentally calls the principal ‘Sensei’!”
“I haven’t done that in a long time,” Aizawa interjects, and with his argument, the shame that Hizashi felt at the kid apologizing starts to melt away. He nearly breathes a sigh of relief, and refocuses his efforts on finding some place to park. He knows where the restaurant is, but the district center is so packed with people that there’s not a lot of places to park. They’re going to have to do some walking, he decides as he turns a corner to where he knows is a semi-hidden restaurant with a hopefully not full lot is.
“Don’t lie, you did it last week,” Hizashi chides, grinning at his partner. Aizawa gives him a look full of fake-annoyance, his lips pursed and his eyes narrowed at him. Hizashi gives a laugh, navigating into the parking lot, “Hey, at least you don’t accidentally call him ‘Dad’ like you did in high—”
“Hizashi,” Aizawa hisses, and Hizashi starts laughing harder at Aizawa’s obvious embarrassment at something that’d happened over fifteen years ago. Laughing feels good, after all the tension in the car, and when he looks back under the guise of pulling into the parking space, he sees that even Todoroki is grinning a little.
Before Hizashi can announce their arrival, Shouto speaks up, his tone quiet, as if he’s unsure about talking at all.
“You were in high school together…?”
Hizashi falls silent, and looks at Aizawa, and he has to keep himself from laughing again. Aizawa gives him an accusatory look, the same look he gives him when he thinks Hizashi is running his mouth, and Hizashi realizes that none of the kids actually know that he and Aizawa actually went to UA together. It’s amusing—it’s something so simple to figure out to Hizashi, something that was so detrimental to his life, something he thinks about often—and it’s just funny that the kids don’t automatically know that part of him.
“Hizashi and I were in the same class at UA,” Aizawa tells Todoroki with a sigh, looking back at him. “I’ve been unfortunately listening to him talk for the last fifteen years. He hasn’t shut up in over a decade.”
They’re both looking back at the kid now, Hizashi having put the car in park in the spot and turned it off. Todoroki seems a little surprised, his eyes wider than they usually are, and he looks between them before dropping his eyes to his lap again. The smile on Hizashi’s face falters a little as he notices that Shouto is going back to his usual withdrawn self, like he’s suddenly remembered that he’s ‘supposed’ to act. It tugs at Hizashi, deep in his chest, and he fights to keep up the cheerful personality.
Hizashi turns to Aizawa and gives him a dramatic pout, “You like listening to me, Shouta. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t ask me to sing to you every—”
“Is someone embarrassed?” Hizashi teases, leaning in close to Aizawa. He holds his gaze for a long moment, putting on a show for the kid, as Aizawa glares at him, a thin, barely-there flush across his cheeks. Hizashi is close enough to feel the heat radiating off of Aizawa’s skin, close enough to almost kiss him, and he wonders if Aizawa would actually die of embarrassment if he kissed him right in front of one of his students. He opts to not take his chances, instead tangling his hands in the wool scarf around Aizawa’s neck, rearranging it so it’s not as tight on his neck, smiling at his partner, “Don’t be such a big grump, Shouta.”
Aizawa hums in annoyance at Hizashi, but allows him to pull at his scarf until Hizashi is satisfied with the way it looks and is confident that it’s no longer choking him. It’s then that he looks back at the kid again, offering him a smile, “Alright, we gotta walk a bit, but we’re here.”
He stops messing with Aizawa’s scarf and moves to get out of the car. The other two follow suit, and Hizashi walks around to Aizawa’s side, immediately looping his arm around his waist, looking at Todoroki. At the very least, he thinks, the kid is dressed for the weather. He has a heavy coat on, gloves, a hat, and a scarf, and as Hizashi looks a little closer, he sees that the gloves are too big for him and the scarf looks exactly like one of Aizawa’s favorite oversized wool scarves. Todoroki has his head turned away from him, and Hizashi can see the kid’s breath in the cold air.
The storm continues to blow around them. It’s dark by now, despite not being that late in the evening. The restaurant they parked by is fairly hidden and accordingly, there’s not a lot of cars in the lot, and the three of them are the only people here, in contrast to the busy main street where they’ll be walking soon enough. The only light around them is the light from the side of the semi-hidden restaurant, and it casts its deep shadows on the ground around them.
Hizashi sighs, and takes the moment to come back into himself. Aizawa is warm by his side, and seems far less tense than before. He’s slouching slightly, and he even gives one of his usual yawns and leans slightly on Hizashi. Todoroki is quiet, and it’s here that more than ever, he looks like a kid. He isn’t particularly short, but he’s definitely smaller than both him and Aizawa, his face looking far younger, and he looks like the fifteen year-old he is next to the two of them.
Strangely, Hizashi feels content right now. It’s going to be short-lived, but it’s nice while it lasts, and he can almost delude himself into thinking that this kid is going to come home with them and they won’t have to return him to the guy who Hizashi is beginning to despise.
Hizashi’s always been a little off-put by Endeavor, but he was more slightly afraid of him than anything. It was always Aizawa who’d been more vocal about his dislike of Endeavor. Hizashi had more just avoided ever crossing paths with him out of fear that he’d get on his wrong side. He hadn’t wanted to deal with that. Now he sees that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Endeavor is every bit as weak and pathetic as the next abusive father, and after his interactions with him today, Hizashi is far from fearful of him.
“The restaurant isn’t too far,” Hizashi tells Aizawa and Todoroki, pointing in the direction of the main street. Starting that way with a pull on Aizawa’s waist, Todoroki follows, seeming a little startled, and runs to follow them, walking at Aizawa’s side. He doesn’t say anything, shoving his hands into the pockets of his coat, and Hizashi leads them out of the parking lot and down the near-empty street.
“All the other kids got to their parents fine,” Aizawa tells him, leaning into Hizashi’s arm around his waist. He stares at Hizashi, his dark eyes tired and lined with darker circles than usual, and Hizashi feels another pang in his chest.
This year has changed Aizawa. Hizashi’s never known him to be so obviously anxious and yet, Aizawa has been away from home more days than he’s been at home this year out of sheer anxiety for his class. They live close to the campus, close enough that Aizawa could be there in under five minutes if anything happened, but he sticks around in the dorms, staying in that cramped little temporary apartment and constantly hypervigilant. It’s been hard not having he at home, but it’s been even harder watching Aizawa self-destruct with the fear of something horrible happening.
The kids seem to think of Aizawa as cold and unfeeling. He supposes he can see where they are getting it from—Aizawa is notoriously the strictest teacher in the school—but they couldn’t be more wrong. Every year, Aizawa does everything he can to not get attached, and every year Hizashi watches him fall in love with his class over and over again. Aizawa sees every one of these kids as his own, and Hizashi can tell that the thought of any of them being hurt before they can even graduate is tearing him apart.
He’s been looked after Aizawa as much as possible. He’ll stay in that cramped apartment with him sometimes, force him to go out occasionally, and bring him meals and spend time with him. But it’s clear that Aizawa is losing more sleep than usual, and Hizashi wonders how much of his sanity he’s lost this year. A vacation is good for Aizawa, even if all it does is force him to come home for a week or so.
Honestly, he’s worried Aizawa is going to wear himself out. Hizashi’s done it before—he’s worked so much that he’s just collapsed. He’s pushed himself so hard that he’s just had to stop. Aizawa does it too, sometimes, but never to this extent, and he’s downright terrible at taking care of himself, whether it’s physically or mentally.
He kind of hopes the kids understand just how much work Aizawa put in to get them safely to their parents, the amount of work he did just so the kids could have some semblance of a normal break over the holidays.
And right now, he’s happy to be walking in the darkness with Aizawa and Todoroki. It doesn’t matter that the kid is here—it feels like the most normal thing that’s happened all school year. Todoroki’s presence somehow makes it feel more normal.
It kind of feels like they’re a family.
“Did they all get picked up today?” Hizashi asks him. The rest of the street is quiet, with only the distant murmur from the main road filling the air alongside Hizashi’s voice and three pairs of footsteps.
Aizawa shakes his head, “Todoroki was actually the only one scheduled to be picked up today. The rest of the kids opted to go earlier.”
Hizashi nearly stops, finding Todoroki barely looking at them in the darkness. His head is still partially down, and he’s looking at them from under his straight bangs, seeming more like he’s looking past them rather than at them. In the dimness of the rest of the street, his scar appears more pronounced, darkened by the atmosphere, and Hizashi doesn’t say anything, letting Aizawa fill the silence.
“Don’t apologize. I told you before that your father is the only idiot in this situation,” Aizawa stares directly at Todoroki, his voice firm and louder than it had been when he was talking to Hizashi just moments before. “He’s the only one that didn’t abide by my rules. You may have picked the last day available to go, but it was still an option. Following that logic, you’re not at fault.”
Todoroki keeps Aizawa’s gaze for a long moment and nods slowly, and Hizashi lets out a silent breath of relief. Aizawa can be blunt, but he’s good with the kids.
“Anyways,” Aizawa turns back to him, the authority dropping out of his voice. “I’ll keep track of them until they come back to the dorms.”
Hizashi frowns, “You need to rest, babe. You’ve got other people keeping tabs on them.”
Aizawa stays quiet.
“You’re tired,” Hizashi points out.
“I’m always tired. Not a good argument.”
Hizashi groans and catches a small smirk from Aizawa. They’re nearing the turn onto the main street and the noise from the various restaurants and shops is steadily getting louder. It’s a lot brighter now, with the residual light from the main center of the district and warmth seems to radiate from it. He can hear the murmur of the crowd and he tightens his grasp on Aizawa’s waist, knowing that he isn’t fond of crowds or places with a lot of people. He suspects that Todoroki won’t like it much, either, but he doesn’t say anything. The restaurant isn’t far, so as long as he doesn’t lose either of them, Hizashi knows they’ll be fine.
“Crowded,” Aizawa says again, sounding far more annoyed than he did when he first pointed it out in the car. A glance at him tells him that Aizawa is frowning, pushing his chin into his scarf, his lips slightly pursed.
“Come on, don’t pout. You like this place. They have a ton of stuff you eat,” Hizashi leans in, smiling warmly at his partner. “All you gotta do is deal with people for a few minutes.”
Aizawa continues to frown at him for a long moment before looking away and instead focusing on Todoroki.
“Stay by my side. Don’t get lost.”
Todoroki nods before Hizashi can chide Aizawa for making such a big deal out of a bit of a crowd. He instead stays silent, as he’s well aware that Aizawa needs to be able to know where every kid is at all times, and the threat of Todoroki straying from him is probably a cause for anxiety.
Hizashi leads them around the corner and onto the bright, crowded street. There’s even more people than he’d thought there’d be. There’s groups of them, families and couples, some cooing at the various displays and lights lining the street, others taking photos together, most of them talking in excited, overjoyed tones and moving slowly on the sidewalk. Hizashi ducks into the crowd, pulling Aizawa along with him, and Todoroki stays at Aizawa’s side. The murmurs of the volume of people surround them, and Hizashi finds himself smiling. While Aizawa hates crowds and is generally annoyed with going out in public, Hizashi feels right at home in a sea of people.
He alternates between watching the window displays as they pass each shop and eatery and keeping an eye on his companions. Navigating the crowd with two people in tow is a little difficult, but Hizashi manages by pulling Aizawa along with him. Todoroki follows Aizawa’s orders and keeps at his side. Or, at least, he does until it happens.
Hizashi isn’t expecting it, and Aizawa isn’t, either.
It happens quickly, and the initial start of the chain reaction comes as no surprise. They’re walking behind a group of girls, and Hizashi can tell from the few words he catches and their tones of voice that they’re, for lack of a better word, drunkenly lost. There’s a lot of giggling and insistence that they know where they are, and it doesn’t take long for them to stop in the middle of a sidewalk, hovering over one of the girls’ phones, effectively stopping traffic.
Hizashi stops immediately and by default, Aizawa does, too. But Todoroki doesn’t.
And then, some sort of instinct seems to kick in with Aizawa and he reaches out, whether to grab Todoroki or to just tap him to get him to notice the disruption in traffic—Hizashi isn’t sure—and the sound of Todoroki hitting Aizawa’s arm hard resounds through the street.
A shout accompanies it, and Hizashi can’t tell if it was meant to be words or just a scream of distress, because Todoroki instantly falls completely silent the moment he realizes that it’s Aizawa.
The crowd doesn’t stop. It continues to move around them, unperturbed by the teenager who’d just hit and screamed at an adult. Neither Aizawa nor Todoroki move, and Aizawa has the most emotion written on his face that Hizashi has ever seen in the fifteen years of knowing him.
The moment is long, feeling like forever. Aizawa still has his hand stretched out, the cold, snowy wind blowing his mess of long black hair across his face, his eyes as wide as Hizashi has ever seen them. It’s almost a surprise that Aizawa hasn’t activated his quirk out of pure shock, as he’s prone to do sometimes.
Todoroki doesn’t look much better. His mismatched eyes are blown wide and his mouth is slightly open, and Hizashi can see his hands and body shaking as the panic starts to set in. He’s still got his arm raised slightly from the way he’d whipped around and hit Aizawa right in the arm, the fingers on that hand still curled into a tight fist.
It takes a long, long moment, but after an instant passes, all Hizashi can see is red.
“Fuck,” He hisses under his breath, and he has to fight to keep himself from running back to the car and doing something stupid like driving to the elder Todoroki’s residence and strangling the hero that so many people idolize. He wants to talk, wants to grab Todoroki and tell him fuck his fucking father and fuck his ‘status’ and fuck any due process, tell him that Todoroki isn’t going home, that he’s never allowed back in that place again, and Hizashi suddenly feels like he’s eighteen and not thirty-one.
After all, that was the last time he felt the rage that settles in his chest and burns at his lungs. That was the last time he felt this violently disgusted at a parent’s behavior. And that was the last time that Hizashi had to physically fight to keep himself from losing his sanity and everything he’s worked for in favor of putting someone so despicable in the ground.
The panic sets in full-force in Todoroki, and the kid suddenly becomes hysterical, stuttering out a response, losing his usual stoic, emotionless face.
“I thought—I didn’t—You, I didn’t know it was you, I swear!”
Shouto is close to yelling, breathing hard and shaking, and he drops his fist from where he had it raised.
Aizawa still doesn’t say anything, and while Hizashi has seen him display emotion many times before, but never like this, in front of a student or really, anyone who isn’t Hizashi. For once, it’s not because he’s thinking or measuring his words in the typical way he does. Aizawa doesn’t say a thing because he can’t, because Todoroki’s actions have thrown him into a wordless, shocked state.
Hizashi doesn’t know what to do. He has no idea. He can’t take his eyes off of the scene in front of him. The crowd walks around them, seemingly not noticing what’s going on, and Hizashi has to take a long moment to steady his breathing and try to come back into himself. It’s a fight to leave the rage behind and force it down to a persistent burn rather than a constant, consuming flame, and he only does it because he knows they’re causing a scene and neither Aizawa nor Todoroki like the attention being on them.
Carefully and slowly, he touches Aizawa’s arm, sliding his fingers down to his wrist, and leans in close to his ear, speaking in a low, hushed tone, “Babe, we need to get him inside.”
Aizawa stares at him with his wide, dark eyes, and Hizashi takes that as the okay to wrap his hand around his wrist. He gives Todoroki a glance, seeing the kid breathing hard and partially doubled-over with panic, and softens his voice when he speaks to him, “Todoroki, we’re gonna get you inside.”
“I’m sorry—I’m sorry—”
But Shouto follows as Hizashi starts to pull Aizawa in the direction of their original destination. He’s distressed and upset, and Hizashi can tell that Aizawa is still in some sort of state, but his goal right now is to get them inside so he can deal with this. The restaurant isn’t far, just a couple yards away, the next storefront after the one they’d been stood in front of, and despite Todoroki’s clear panic, it’s not hard to get them inside.
The warm air of the restaurant blows Hizashi’s hair back as he pulls Aizawa inside. It’s not nearly as crowded in here, and there’s space where he can breathe, and Hizashi lets out a sigh of relief at the prospect of having actual space again. The light of the building is orange and inviting, warm and friendly, and there’s a gentle buzz of quiet music and people talking with each other. The place is a traditional restaurant, with a sushi bar and plenty of options of cold soba for Todoroki to have and more than enough of the things a very picky Aizawa will eat. Just inside is a row of chairs lining the wall and the picture storefront windows, clearly meant for waiting if there was a line. The greeter calls out to them from behind her counter, and Hizashi smiles, but doesn’t approach her.
Contrary to the happy, warm atmosphere, Todoroki is still panicking. Hizashi pulls Aizawa to the side, near the row of overflow seating, and Todoroki follows, stumbling over his own feet and nearly tripping in the entryway of the restaurant. His breathing is coming so hard that the kid is wheezing and he can’t stand up straight, his face red from the lack of proper airflow.
“Don’t—Please don’t expel me—” Todoroki gasps out, his hands on his knees, curled into fists.
Hizashi doesn’t say anything and waits. He knows when to stay out of things and right now, this is between Aizawa and Todoroki.
“Why would I do that?”
Relief washes over Hizashi as Aizawa speaks. He’s snapped out of his shocked expression, and instead, he’s looking down at Todoroki, keeping a safe distance of a few feet between them. His dark eyes aren’t wide anymore and though his voice is solid and authoritative, there’s a certain softness in it and his face. He’s clearly trying to force Todoroki to see the ridiculousness in his panicked begging, but he’s doing it in a way that most likely won’t make the kid feel even more ashamed than he already does.
Hizashi’s hand curls over Aizawa’s wrist and he pushes the sleeve of his jacket and sweater up, Aizawa not even taking his eyes off of Todoroki as he does so. He can tell immediately where Aizawa got hit, because there’s a large splotch of ugly redness on the skin in the middle of his forearm, just below the scars Aizawa had gotten from the training simulation. It’s nothing more than a little redness, though, and at worst, it’ll form into a light bruise.
“I hurt you!” Todoroki says, nearly yelling in the small restaurant. Hizashi doesn’t tell him to be quiet, and neither does Aizawa.
Instead, Aizawa pulls his exposed arm from Hizashi’s grasp. He looks it over, raising an eyebrow at the slight inflammation and discoloration, and then looks back up at Todoroki.
“I’ve had worse, kid. I hardly felt it,” Aizawa sighs, moves his other hand pointedly towards the near-stark white scarring around his elbow and forearm. Aizawa had some nerve damage in his elbow from the joint training simulation and it doesn’t surprise Hizashi that compared to that, Aizawa barely felt pain from Todoroki hitting him in the arm. Todoroki’s eyes follow, and he’s quiet for a long moment, as he looks over the still painful looking discoloration and scarification on Aizawa’s arm, and it’s enough to at least get him to stop panicking.
Aizawa takes a chance to go a step further and leans down a little, getting more to Todoroki’s height as the kid continues to breathe heavily, silent and at least not yelling anymore.
“I’m not going to expel you for something like that. It wasn’t intentional.”
Now, Hizashi does step in. His fingers run along Aizawa’s arm and carefully, he pushes the material of his sweater and jacket back over his scarred arm. He smiles, leaning close to Aizawa, doing everything he can to come across as non-threatening to Todoroki, “He’s serious. There was a kid in his homeroom a few years ago who intentionally punched him and he didn’t expel him. He got a bunch of detention with Shouta, but he didn’t expel him.”
“He had a problem with authority that was easily worked out, but that’s beside the point,” Aizawa looks Todoroki in the eye, his tone serious and firm with him. “I’d be stupid to expel you for something like that. And a hypocrite. I would’ve done the same thing if someone snuck up on me at your age.”
His words surprise Hizashi, and he quickly conceals it.
Aizawa… isn’t someone to ever talk about his past. Not willingly, at least. Hizashi can’t blame him—reflecting on the shit he went through doesn’t sound fun in the slightest, and Aizawa seems much more willing to live his life with everyone thinking he’s just a weird guy who’s weird without a reason or explanation. Aizawa puts a lot of value in the control he has over his life, particularly in who knows things about him and who doesn’t. As far as he knows, Hizashi is the only one who has the whole story. Nemuri knows parts, and so does Nedzu, but Hizashi knows Aizawa better than anyone, and hearing him talk so candidly about it is odd and a little jarring.
“Breathe,” Aizawa tells him, standing up straight again. “If you keep panicking, you’re going to make yourself sick.”
Aizawa turns to him and gives him a clear signal, telling him to talk to the hostess who’d greeted them. Hizashi gives him a nod in response, and ducks away, stepping to the counter with the woman behind it, flashing her a smile.
“Is everything alright?” She asks, voice chipper. “Would you all like a table tonight?”
“Everything’s fine, and yes,” He responds, keeping his manners in check in an attempt to ignore the anger threatening to burst from him again.
Hizashi was pretty sheltered as a kid. He had his fair share of issues, from his own deteriorated hearing to the fact that his birth parents hadn’t wanted him after learning the extent of his quirk, but Hizashi had generally been pretty happy as a kid. He was thankful that he doesn’t remember the group home he’d been placed in before his mothers had adopted him as a baby, and from then on out, Hizashi had had a fairly good life. His mothers were loving and supportive in everything and they fostered a real, tangible belief in him that had convinced Hizashi that he could become a hero. He’d had a lot of siblings and while they hadn’t been wealthy, Hizashi had never wanted for anything he needed and had his fair share of comforts. He has a big family and he’s close to his adoptive parents, even now. But under no circumstance, has he ever experienced the shit Aizawa went through, nor has he ever experienced what Todoroki is being put through.
Even he knows what happened out there, though, and it makes him violently angry. The only reason he’s kept it together is because he knows Aizawa will lose it if he does, and Aizawa is far more dangerous when it comes to parents like Todoroki Enji than Hizashi is.
All three of them know that Aizawa had meant no harm outside. Hizashi knows it was just instinct, that Aizawa has an instinct to try to keep his students by his side, and he knows that at most, Aizawa was going to lightly pull at Shouto’s jacket to get him to stop and not run into the girls who’d stopped. There was never a threat of Aizawa raising a hand to him or even being rough with him. Aizawa’s always careful, even with his instinct to keep his students at his side and in his sight.
But all Todoroki had seen was someone bigger and stronger than him getting physical with him, and he’d reacted in the same way Aizawa had when Shouto hadn’t stopped—with a learned instinct.
Aizawa has learned his reaction from having to herd large groups of children from place to place. It’s an instinct because it works. It’s no different with Todoroki. The instinct to whip around and hit the thing coming at him is a learned one, an instinct that Todoroki has had to practice over and over, to the point where it has become ingrained as a first reaction to perceived danger.
And Hizashi wants to snap the neck of whoever forced him to learn a reaction like that.
“—Ah, what name should I put it under?”
The hostess pushes Hizashi out of his trance, and he bows his head apologetically for the startled look he gives her.
“Hm, the manager here knows me pretty well—Present Mic is fine. It’ll just be the three of—”
She doesn’t cut him off, but the shocked look on her face is enough to make him stop talking, and she drops the pen she’d been writing with. For a moment, Hizashi starts trying to figure out what he said to offend her, before it dawns on him.
Right. He forgets a lot that he’s near unrecognizable out of costume.
“Oh, a fan?” He tries to lean in and give her a wide grin, but even his melodic voice falters. For once, Hizashi is not up to keeping his usual public personality on.
“I—I love your show!” She stutters, and Hizashi forces a laugh. Usually, it’s easy for him, almost second-nature, but after witnessing what happened outside, he isn’t sure he has enough positive, upbeat energy to be so excited. “I’ll, um—I’ll get you a table right away! It’s a pleasure to meet you! You’ve been a huge inspiration to my kid sisters!”
That does manage to bring a smile to Hizashi’s face, and he leans on the counter as she rushes off to the restaurant floor to find them a table. He glances back, finding that Aizawa has gotten Todoroki to sit down in a chair and start to calm down. Aizawa’s unbuttoned his jacket and pulled of his gloves, and is staring at his phone with his usual stoic expression. He raises his eyes to Hizashi, looking at him under his dark unruly bangs, and Hizashi gives him a nod to confirm that he’s moved their reservation along.
It doesn’t take long for the hostess to come back with a waitress, a woman who ushers them into the seating area of the restaurant and leads them to a booth setting near the back, where it’s quieter and Hizashi can better hear the music. She chats with him excitedly, and waits until Aizawa and Hizashi sit down to pass out menus and leave with the promise of returning soon. Todoroki hesitates for a long moment, still looking shaken up, but stiffly slides into the booth opposite Hizashi and Aizawa.
Aizawa’s already leaning on him, looking tired, and Hizashi gives him a playful jab in the shoulder, “Hey, at least look alive, Shouta, jeez.”
Aizawa frowns at him in response, and Hizashi sticks his tongue out at him. They both know that Aizawa can and will fall asleep on him in public if Hizashi lets him. He’s done it before and he’ll do it again. Instead, Aizawa hovers over Hizashi’s menu as he opens it to look at their food options. He’s a big fan of this place and they come here often, especially since it has a lot of things Aizawa likes.
Todoroki sits across from them. He’s not breathing hard anymore, but he looks undeniably tense, and seems to be looking anywhere but at Aizawa and Hizashi. Hizashi frowns and speaks up, forcing energy into his voice.
“There’s a lot of types of cold soba here, Todoroki. Feel free to pick whatever you want!” He turns to where Aizawa is leaning over his shoulder, looking over the menu. “You have your own menu, you know. Want me to order for you?”
Aizawa hums in response and Hizashi takes it as a yes.
“Noodles,” Aizawa says simply, and draws back from hovering, yawning.
“Ah, I’ll get you tonkotsu ramen, then,” With that out of the way, Hizashi focuses his efforts on getting Todoroki to talk again. He looks back up at the kid, feigning annoyance at Aizawa’s way of picking food. “Shouta’s pretty picky when it comes to what he eats. I usually just order for him when we go out because if I don’t, he’ll just get the same thing wherever we go.”
“Consistency is good,” Aizawa comments, not even reacting to Hizashi’s annoyed tone.
When the kid finally raises his mismatched eyes to Hizashi for a split second, Hizashi can’t help but to notice how terrified he looks. His eyes are still blown wide and a hint of a tremble remains. His eyes quickly flicker away, and Shouto’s words come out in a jumbled, quiet mess.
“I’m sorry I hit you.”
There’s no hesitation, no moment of silence in Aizawa’s response.
“Todoroki, you’ve been in my class for an entire semester. By now, you should know that if I’m upset at you for any reason, you’d know. I don’t find any rational reason to hide when I’m angry at one of you students. I’m not going to punish you or be angry with you for something that wasn’t even your fault. Relax.”
Finally, that seems to put Todoroki at ease, or at least get him on track to doing so. He has to admit—Todoroki does a pretty good job of listening to him and Aizawa. It’s a nice difference from his father, who left a sore taste in Hizashi’s mouth with his arguing.
Hizashi hides his momentary disgust by ducking his head and looking over his menu. He’d left the radio station when Aizawa had called him earlier. Tracking down the elder Todoroki hadn’t been hard, and Hizashi had been fueled initially by the annoyance of the hero not picking up his phone. He’d gone to the house, argued with the gatekeep to be let in, and then had laid into Endeavor as much as he’d allowed himself to do so, and every word out of that man’s mouth had just irritated Hizashi more and more until he’d had to remove himself from the situation. Further attempts at contacting him had been shoddy at best, and even now, Hizashi had left a good ten messages on his phone before picking Aizawa and Todoroki up.
He bites his bottom lip, and is only drawn out of another surge of anger when the waitress comes back. Hizashi orders for himself and Aizawa and, with what looks to be a nervous glance at them, Todoroki quietly orders his food, unsurprisingly getting cold soba.
“Are you going back to the station this week?” To Hizashi’s shock, it’s Aizawa who initiates the conversation again. He looks sleepy as he stirs the cup of hot tea that the waitress had brought him, and Hizashi wonders if he’ll be able to convince Aizawa to sleep when they get home.
“Mm, not to the station,” Hizashi muses, and it feels good to focus on something beside the situation Todoroki is in. “I’m going to that charity event for deaf kids, though, on Saturday. You can come with me if you wanna. I know the rest of the board members love to fawn over my husband.”
“My sister does stuff for that charity.”
Todoroki speaks up when Hizashi least expects him to and it draws both his and Aizawa’s attention towards him. Honestly, Hizashi wasn’t even sure prior to this that Todoroki had any siblings, and the thought opens a newfound pit in his chest.
“Oh, I don’t think I’ve met her!” Hizashi tries to cover up his momentary surprise. “Is she on the board—?”
Todoroki hesitates, not quiet looking at him, eyes instead focused off to the side, “No, she just volunteers. She’s a school teacher, too, but for elementary kids. She talks about it sometimes. I think she listens to your radio show. She likes you.”
There’s a lot of relief in the fact that the sister Todoroki talks about is an adult and not another young child stuck in that household, and Hizashi finds it in himself to give Shouto a small laugh, “I’ll have to look for someone who resembles you when I go, then!”
There’s a silence. And then, going with the theme of shocking Hizashi, Aizawa speaks again, his voice dry as he stares right at Todoroki.
“I’m sorry to hear that you have someone in your family who legitimately likes Present Mic.”
The grin that comes over Aizawa’s face afterwards is what breaks him, and Hizashi bursts into loud, real laughter, most of the tension melting off of him at Aizawa’s teasing. Usually, Hizashi would poke fun at him right back or jokingly whine and complain, but right now, Aizawa’s dry, terrible humor is exactly what he needs and as Hizashi quiets himself down, he feels better.
The conversation delves into Hizashi’s charity work and wanders over to the topic of what he and Aizawa plan to do for the holidays. Todoroki is quiet, but Aizawa’s bad joke seems to have eased the rest of the tension from him and he’ll occasionally interject with a question. When the conversation turns to when Hizashi’s parents are coming over for a few nights, Todoroki asks him about his family and Hizashi happily tells him he’s adopted, something that seems to make Todoroki fall into thought. Hizashi finds himself talking a lot, slowly going back into his normal energetic, animated way of speaking, and Aizawa shows his usual interest with a comment or question here and there.
After a while, it’s almost like the scene outside hadn’t happened. Todoroki doesn’t explicitly mention it again, though Hizashi catches him looking at Aizawa’s covered arm a few times with an almost guilty looking stoic expression, but he says nothing.
By the time their food comes, Hizashi is diving into a story about one of their cats at home, telling Aizawa how she’d uncharacteristically decided to chase their much younger cat around the house, and Hizashi is more than happy to dive into eating. Todoroki looks excited, as well, and Hizashi remembers that Aizawa told him that the kid has been waiting for his father all day, and he assumes that Shouto probably hasn’t eaten until now.
“Hey,” Before he can get too far into the teppanyaki he ordered, Aizawa is leaning over him.
Hizashi puts on an exaggerated pout, knowing exactly what Aizawa wants, “If you wanted this, then you should’ve had me order if for you.”
“I didn’t want it then.”
“You only want it because I’m eating it!” Hizashi complains shrilly. He makes the mistake of glancing away to check on Todoroki sitting across from them, finding the kid pretty involved in his own food, and when he looks back, Aizawa has already stuck his chopsticks into Hizashi’s dish and stolen a piece of meat.
“You dirty cheat!” He cries, doing his absolute best to look as distraught as humanly possible. Aizawa doesn’t seem phased, though, and promptly shoves the stolen meat into his mouth as Hizashi continues to whine. “I can’t believe you took advantage of my vulnerability. Actually, I can, because you steal my food every time we go out. But you’re still a dirty cheat.”
“It was a logical ruse,” Aizawa mumbles, his mouth still full of teppanyaki.
“Don’t talk with your mouth full. Learn some manners, Shouta,” He’s happy that Aizawa feels comfortable enough to show what he’s really like outside of the classroom with Todoroki around, and Hizashi has every intention of jokingly laying into him more about Aizawa’s notorious lack of table manners, but he doesn’t get another word out before Aizawa’s phone goes off, the buzzing loud and accompanied by a beeping noise that can’t be missed, even with Hizashi’s not great hearing.
Aizawa drops his mischievous expression and glances down at his phone, his face stoic, and then moves to get up, not even asking Hizashi to move before all but crawling over him.
“Jirou’s father,” He explains simply, and doesn’t offer any more explanation before taking the call with a formal greeting. Hizashi gives him a nonverbal wave, and Aizawa nods, stepping away from the table to get somewhere less noisy to talk to the parent on the other end.
That leaves just him and Todoroki, and Todoroki is the first of the two of them to speak.
“Are you guys always like this?”
It’s then that he realizes how odd this must look to Todoroki. He’s amped up his childish teasing of Aizawa in an attempt to make the kid feel better about this whole situation, but suddenly, it dawns on him that this kid actually has no idea what couples are supposed to be like. While he doesn’t know as much as Aizawa knows about the kids, he has read Todoroki’s school file, just as he has with every other student. Todoroki’s had stuck out to him, and it’s not easy to forget the file of the kid that was obviously born from a quirk marriage and whose mother is in a psychiatric facility for causing the scar that takes up a good portion of one side of his face.
It’s pretty easy to figure out that this kid probably has no semblance of an idea of what a normal marriage looks like.
And, well, maybe he and Aizawa aren’t normal, per say. They’re a gay couple, for one thing, and they’re both pro heroes with multiple jobs, and Hizashi is still every bit as in love with Aizawa as he was in high school, if not more. But, they’re certainly a lot more normal than what he’s sure Todoroki has experienced from his parents, and he can see where his question is coming from.
“Yeah, pretty much,” Hizashi smiles warmly at the kid across from him. “We’ve been married six years and we’ve been friends for over fifteen years. This is just how we are together. Ah, it must be pretty embarrassing for you, having to sit with two lovey old men.”
“I wouldn’t call it that,” Todoroki’s face stays serious and stoic despite Hizashi’s well-meant joke. He actually meets his eyes, his mismatched eyes staring into Hizashi’s green ones. “It seems nice.”
“It is,” Right now, Hizashi is feeling a lot of things, but this is neither the time nor the place to dissociate those feelings. He leans forward a little, keeping his voice down. “Honestly, kid, that’s the way relationships and marriages should be. Shouta and I have busy lives and we both have a lot going on right now, and spending time together feels relaxing rather than a chore.”
Todoroki just stares at him for a long moment. He’s hard to read and as Hizashi studies his face, he remembers thinking the exact same thing about Aizawa fifteen years ago. He’d eventually gotten used to picking up cues from Aizawa, but at fifteen years-old, he’d been an enigma.
Then, Todoroki sighs, closing his eyes and mixing up his noodles with his chopsticks, “My parents got married to have kids with better quirks. I guess it’s just weird to see… not that.”
Hizashi thinks, and he hesitates. He wants to say exactly what’s on his mind, but he’s not exactly sure how it’ll go over. He considers just leaving it and not saying anything about it, but in reality, he doesn’t want that, either.
Hizashi’s voice is soft in the buzzing, warm restaurant, “You know, you remind me a lot of Shouta when he was your age.”
Todoroki raises his head, looking straight at him again. There’s surprise in his usually expressionless eyes, but he doesn’t appear to be taking it badly.
“Really?” He asks.
Hizashi nods, “Shouta was pretty quiet and introverted in high school. He did everything he could to not show any emotion. He had trouble interacting with people—it was almost like he didn’t know how?—and he really only became friends with me because I annoyed him until he agreed to hang out with me. He turned out to be a great guy once I got to know him, but he was really withdrawn until that point. He was a lot like you.”
Hizashi is careful to not come across like he’s insulting the kid. He’s seen the way Todoroki interacts with the other students in English class—which is to say, the lack of the way he interacts.
Hizashi takes a shallow breath, and tries to shove his own personal feelings back down, “It makes sense. Shouta had a pretty bad family.”
Hizashi gives him a small laugh, “Yeah, that’s what he meant earlier when he told you that he would’ve done the same thing you did outside. He meant it, you know. Shouta likes to play tricks on you guys, but he wouldn’t lie about something so serious.”
Todoroki freezes, and he looks like he wants to ask a million questions. Despite Hizashi not yet knowing how to read him, that much is clear.
“I—” Todoroki doesn’t finish his sentence immediately, and takes a deep breath. “I had no idea. Maybe it’s just weird to think he was ever my age. I can’t imagine that. It just doesn’t seem like he’d put up with something like that. He’s always so… strict with rules and respect. It’s weird.”
That’s something that Hizashi has thought about a lot in the twelve years he’s known about Aizawa’s family situation and the place he grew up in. It’s a question he’s asked himself over and over again—why the fuck does Aizawa put up with all the shit his parents give him? It’s uncharacteristic for him. Hizashi knows for a fact that there’s no way Aizawa would ever put up with it from anyone else. But with his family, it’s like a whole different story, and after all these years, Hizashi can only come up with one answer.
“Things are different when it comes to your own parents,” The smile on his face is bittersweet, and Hizashi moves the food around on his plate absentmindedly, thinking. “I think it’s a lot harder to stand up to the people who raised you than it is to stand up to some villain or stranger on the street.”
Hizashi glances back up at Todoroki, and it feels like it’s just the two of them in this restaurant, “You should ask Shouta about why he became a hero. He doesn’t talk much about himself, but if you ask nicely enough, I bet he’ll tell you.”
Distantly, Hizashi’s phone buzzes, and he’s slow and reluctant to pull it out, already half-knowing what’s on it. His fears are confirmed when he recognizes the number and reads over the short, rudely-worded message.
Bring Shouto to me within the next two hours.
He frowns heavily, reading it over again. Interacting with this guy is depressing and infuriating, and Hizashi can’t stop himself from letting some of that seep into his words as he types out a reply.
Jeez, you could have some respect for the people taking care of your kid. Sorry, Endeavor, but if you can’t abide by our schedule, I make no promises about abiding by yours.
A reply doesn’t take long, and it’s starting to get Todoroki’s attention. He raises an eyebrow at Hizashi as Hizashi keeps his phone under the table and reads the response.
I’ll contact the authorities if he’s not home by then.
Now he’s pretty furious.
I wonder how well that’ll go over? What are you gonna tell them? Your son’s teachers are taking care of him because you abandoned him and put his safety in jeopardy? Should I remind you that you gave Eraser partial guardianship rights when you let your kid live in the dorms?
Hizashi jumps when Aizawa says his name, and looks to his side to see him standing next to him, a dry look on his face, obviously having read Hizashi’s texts to Endeavor. He’s giving him a hard look, but he doesn’t exactly scold Hizashi for it, instead sighing.
“Jirou’s father called to thank me,” He says, as Hizashi gets up to let him back in where he’d been sitting before. Hizashi sits back down after him, listening to Aizawa talk, waiting for an opportunity to get his attention, “I told him that I appreciate the sentiment, but my line is really for emergencies only.”
Hizashi taps Aizawa on the thigh, and under the table, he begins signing to him.
“I don’t know what to do,” Hizashi signs, his movements quick as he does his best to hide what he’s doing from Todoroki. He doesn’t think the kid knows sign language, but he doesn’t want him to get suspicious. “I’d really rather not take him back.”
Aizawa pauses, but then signs back, his movements just as fluid as Hizashi’s. Hizashi had taught him sign language back in high school, and they use it quite a bit in both their professional and personal lives, “If it was up to me, we wouldn’t take him back, but he’ll raise hell if we kidnap his kid.”
Hizashi doesn’t sign back immediately. He doesn’t like the notion that he has no choice here. Aizawa’s face softens, and his hand movements slow.
“He should decide. He’s old enough.”
They look back at Todoroki, who isn’t quite paying attention to them and hasn’t noticed their private conversation. Hizashi stays quiet for once and lets his partner do the talking.
“Todoroki,” Aizawa starts, his voice solid despite what he’s about to say, and despite the fact that neither of them wants to let this kid go home. Todoroki raises his head towards Aizawa, listening to him, and Aizawa doesn’t even let himself hesitate, “We’ve gotten in contact with your father. It’s up to you whether or not you want to go back tonight.”
“Don’t I have to…?”
“No,” Aizawa tells him. “You’re welcome to stay the night with us. Neither of us are going to force you to go back to your father. It’s your choice.”
Todoroki looks away from Aizawa, and Hizashi knows exactly what he’s going to say, and he can’t stop the wave of hatred for the elder Todoroki that washes over him before Shouto even says anything, “I’ll go back home. It’s fine.”
Hizashi doesn’t have much of an appetite after that. He’s honestly a little sick to his stomach as he thinks about having to willingly let this kid go back to an abusive home.
To say that Aizawa Shouta is tired would be an understatement.
He’s used to it by now, though, even as the sleepiness starts to get to him as he tries to make conversation with Hizashi and Todoroki through the rest of dinner. He really just wants to doze on Hizashi’s shoulder, but he doesn’t allow himself to with Shouto here.
Dinner is strained. Or, at least, the last half of it is. Hizashi’s façade is falling apart and while he doesn’t know if Todoroki notices it, Aizawa certainly does. It’s in the twinge of his usually excitable voice, in the way his smile falters just slightly, and in the way his laughs feel a little forced. He hardly even finishes his food, despite Hizashi’s love of this restaurant’s cooking, and he looks disappointed when the waitress brings the paid bill back.
They’re both dreading this. While Aizawa doesn’t particularly like it when Hizashi’s upset, there’s something about him being upset in this situation that makes Aizawa feel a little better about his own oddly turbulent thoughts. He doesn’t want to do this, either, and for once, it’s not because it’s out of their way and Aizawa is tired and would be much happier going home to sleep in his own bed in his own house with his own cats and his own partner. That’s far from his mind, and Aizawa would much rather this kid come home with them.
He knows that he had to give Todoroki a choice. Logically, he knows that that’s the only semi-legal, ethical way he could’ve taken the kid home. After all, Aizawa has no real proof of what’s going on other than a nagging gut feeling, instinct, and Todoroki pointedly not denying everything Aizawa and Hizashi has said to him so far, but none of that stands legally. Not even what happened outside is solid proof of what’s going on. Logically, Aizawa knows that what he said earlier in the day about Todoroki having to ask for help is true, but it doesn’t stop him from trying to think of some possibility somewhere that he can take one of his students in on short notice and not get himself and Hizashi caught in a whirlwind of legal trouble that Endeavor is sure to wrought on them.
The waitress lingers at their table, and Aizawa is ready to go, half wanting to get this over with and half wanting more time to think and play out every possibility in his head because surely there’s some loophole somewhere. Eventually, she blurts out that the manager, a man Aizawa knows as friendly with Hizashi, wants to catch up with the famous Present Mic, and Hizashi agrees before Aizawa can even get a word of complaining in.
“Just walk to the car without me. I’ll be there soon,” Hizashi tells him, not letting Aizawa get any argument out, and Aizawa doesn’t miss the way Hizashi shoots a wink and a grin at Todoroki.
Hizashi is up and disappearing into the back in an instant, leaving Aizawa to wonder what the hell he’s on about. Hizashi can be odd sometimes—most of the time, actually—and he has a strange tendency to set things up in ways that work out in the end, but he initially keeps secret. He’s known Hizashi too many years to not suspect that he’s set Todoroki up for something involving Aizawa.
He doesn’t ask. The kid is too nervous to answer anything properly, so Aizawa leaves it. He tells Todoroki to get his coat on and they leave, Aizawa annoyed that Hizashi wants to delay them even further with this.
The walk back to the parking lot is pretty quiet. Aizawa shoves his hands in his pockets and watches Shouto to make sure that he doesn’t leave his side. Unsurprisingly, Shouto doesn’t stray from him in the crowd that lingers outside, and there’s no further incident like there was before. The air is cold and the snowstorm is as harsh as ever, but it doesn’t seem to deter the groups of people outside. He walks fast in an attempt to get out of the crowd, burying his face in his warm scarf, Todoroki jogging at his side to keep up with him.
Once they turn onto the empty street, the music and murmuring from the crowd in the district center dies down to a distant noise, and Aizawa slows his pace. It’s cold and uncomfortable, but now he doesn’t have to worry about losing Todoroki to the crowd. Quiet surrounds them, only broken by their footsteps on the pavement and this street is much darker, lined only with flickering streetlamps and the occasional light from a shop. Todoroki doesn’t say anything and Aizawa makes no move to, either.
The cold wind from the storm blows at them, and Aizawa hates every second of being out in this weather. It’s freezing and horrible, even under all his layers, and he’d give anything to be back in the warm, lit restaurant and not having to count down the minutes until he’d have to return this kid to his father.
The eatery with the lot they parked in is still open when they reach the parking lot, but their car is one of the last ones in the lot. The white light from the building casts long shadows on the darkness of the rest of the carpark. Aizawa has Hizashi’s keys and is more than looking forward to being in the heated car and out of the snowstorm, but as they walk into the near-empty lot, Todoroki finally speaks.
It’s definitely a question, but even Todoroki himself doesn’t seem to know exactly what he’s asking. Aizawa turns and looks at him, nearly to Hizashi’s car, and it’s just the two of them in this parking lot, on this street, and the world has never felt smaller.
He waits for Todoroki to talk, and he does.
“Why did you become a hero?”
Everything falls into place. Aizawa smiles into his oversized scarf and leans back against Hizashi’s car, crossing his arms over his chest and looking at Todoroki, his voice falling flat in the cold, empty air, “Hizashi told you to ask me, didn’t he?”
The wind is violent and pulls at Aizawa’s hair and he’s starting to regret his personal refusal to wear a hat.
Todoroki stares to the side of him, but Aizawa keeps his dark eyes focused on him, keeping the small smirk on his lips. Shouto’s silence speaks volumes in answer to his question, and Aizawa doesn’t force him to incriminate Hizashi.
“You really want to know?” He prompts, raising an eyebrow at the kid.
It’s not something he talks about often. He’s strict with the kids, and he makes a point of not often talking about himself. He doesn’t really think that his own personal experiences have a lot to add to the classes he teaches, especially the part of his past that doesn’t involve hero work. This is an exception to the rule, though, and they’ve crossed enough lines tonight that Aizawa thinks that maybe it’d actually be helpful to know. At the very least, he deserves an answer.
Todoroki only nods, and it’s good enough for Aizawa.
“Contrary to what you kids might think, I was your age once,” He starts, giving Todoroki a small smirk again. “I’m guessing Hizashi probably ran his mouth at you, so you probably know that I didn’t grow up in a very good place. I lived in an area of the city that neither villains nor heroes cared about and because of that, the police cared even less. The area was one of the worst in the cities when it came to the crime rate. It was where crime rings formed and organized, and unless there was an underground hero around, no one did anything about it. That applied to issues between families, too, and there was no one around who cared about the kids in the district. Everyone was stuck in poverty, anyways, so to everyone else in the world, it just didn’t matter.”
Aizawa pauses for a long moment, and lets the silence fall between them. Todoroki opens his mouth, and Aizawa knows what he’s about to say, and speaks before he can start asking questions.
“But that’s not why I became a hero,” He knows why Hizashi told Todoroki to ask him about this, and he’s more than willing to make this point to him if it’ll change something. He brushes his hair away from his face so he can see Todoroki better, “I did it because I thought if I became a hero, no one would be able to control me ever again.”
He doesn’t think about it often. That time has long passed. Aizawa is thirty-one now, and there are different obstacles to overcome. His reasons for doing what he did and becoming the person he has are personal and his alone, and the only reason he chooses to share them is the possibility that something can come of it.
“Did it work?” Todoroki’s voice is barely a whisper, and it’s hard to hear him over the harsh wind that blows at the two of them.
“I was right,” Aizawa confirms, the smirk on his face widening. “I did it because I wanted control over my life. I had none of that growing up and that was the only thing I wanted. I learned to shut down everything else and until high school, I was fine with the idea of being alone my entire life. I just wanted to be able to control everything around me, so I went the route of applying at UA, and I got the control I wanted.”
Todoroki doesn’t say anything, and Aizawa remembers the time just after graduation, when Hizashi had been horrified at the discovery of the conditions and people Aizawa had lived with his entire life, and he remembers moving out and starting anew.
He sees himself in Todoroki. Things had been different for him—with Aizawa growing up in a state of poverty, and his father hadn’t been a pro—but fundamentally, they’re similar.
He tucks himself into his scarf, the cold air and wind starts to creep further into his body, “I went overboard with it at first, admittedly. I wasn’t thinking logically. Hizashi intervened and things were fine from then on out.”
Todoroki’s face is hard to read, even for Aizawa, and it’s a stark reminder of the way the kid covers up his emotions.
“My only regret is not leaving sooner. Living a life full of regret is irrational, but everybody has some. This is mine. And I’d rather you not make the same mistake I did.”
He swears he can hear footsteps and a glance to the side of Todoroki tells him that Hizashi is approaching the almost empty lot. He doesn’t dwell on it. There’s still a point to be made.
Todoroki talks before he can, though, voice soft and quiet in the air surrounding them, “Are you happy?”
Aizawa’s always thought that’s a stupid question, but he knows better than to admit that out loud.
“Yes,” He answers, and watches the flash of surprise on Todoroki’s face, cocking an eyebrow at him. “Is it really that surprising? I might be pessimistic, but I’m not actually unhappy with my life as a whole. Do you kids think I’m some nihilist who thinks life is meaningless?”
It’s a rhetorical question and Todoroki doesn’t move to respond. He can hear Hizashi’s footsteps getting louder, echoing in the otherwise silent street.
He drops the smirk and his tone gets serious as he looks Todoroki in the eye again, making sure Shouto listens to every word he says, “You need to take what I said in the dorms seriously. You’ve been in my class long enough to know that I don’t make throwaway demands. Treat it like any other order I’ve ever given you. Are we clear?”
He watches as Hizashi walks into the carpark, giving a wave and a grin to Aizawa, and he doesn’t seem to catch Shouto’s answer.
The ride to the Todoroki household is tense and quiet. Aizawa doesn’t try to make conversation and Hizashi stays mostly silent, too, instead opting to turn on his radio station to fill the void that their silence creates. The sound of the still-running fundraiser fills the empty space of the car as Hizashi navigates to the large house that Aizawa knows Endeavor has. It doesn’t take long, though the silence makes it feel much longer than it actually is, and when they pull through the gate in front of the house and park a ways away, Aizawa is drawn out of his trance by Hizashi’s fingers sliding against his wrist.
He glances at his partner expectantly, and Hizashi leans in, speaking quiet enough to him that Aizawa figures out that he’s trying to keep Todoroki from hearing it, and Hizashi is nearly murmuring into his ear.
“Don’t take your capture weapon,” Hizashi tells him lowly, and Aizawa frowns, hating that Hizashi had known that was his plan. Hizashi’s hand slides into his, and Aizawa realizes that this is it—that he’ll be facing the fiery hero soon enough, and for one of the first times in his life, Aizawa doesn’t know if he can keep himself under control. He hangs on Hizashi’s words as he makes a promise to him, “If he starts trouble, I’ll defend you. I’m afraid you’ll start a fight if you have your weapon, though.”
Aizawa doesn’t argue with that; Hizashi is unfortunately right. He finds it hard to think logically in the face of bad parenting. Hizashi draws away from him, giving his hand a small squeeze, before looking back at Todoroki.
“Ready?” Aizawa hears him say. There’s no verbal response, but he can imagine the nod from Todoroki. Hizashi lets go of him and moves to get out and Aizawa follows by example.
He hesitates, though, once he’s out of the car. Todoroki is next to him, only a few feet away, bag slung over his body, coat unbuttoned, the scarf Aizawa had given him wrapped around his neck. He can’t move and it’s easy—too easy—to remember the moment in the district center, when Aizawa had tried to pull Todoroki back and the kid had immediately turned on him and hit him hard in the arm. It’s a little two familiar for him to be comfortable.
Todoroki looks up at him, and it almost startles Aizawa.
He needs him to understand. He needs to make it sound like there’s no choice, like this is just another school assignment, another order that Aizawa gives him. He needs Todoroki to treat this like it’s not optional. He’s done everything he can so far to get that across, but there’s a sinking feeling telling him that it’s not enough.
So he tries again. One more time.
“I had fun,” Todoroki tells him, sounding like he’s half talking to himself. He’s looking away from him against, staring at the snow covered grounds. The bright light from the large house shines on the snow, and it looks more intimidating than anything. “Thanks for, uh—not leaving me at the dorms.”
“It’d be pretty heartless to do that,” Aizawa comments, feeling Hizashi come up beside him. The other man slides an arm around Aizawa’s waist, but he keeps his focus on Todoroki. “Listen to me. If you call the number I gave you, I’ll treat it like an emergency and I’ll take whatever action is necessary to protect you. Don’t hesitate with it.”
Todoroki nods silently, but Aizawa still somehow feels like it’s not enough.
“Don’t make the same mistake I did.”
That makes Todoroki’s head snap up, and the words are out of his mouth before he seems to realize that he’s speaking, “Why do you care—? This isn’t your job, right?”
“In a way, it is my job,” Aizawa says. “I told you back in the dorms that I’m doing this because I care. I care because I get attached. I care because you’re a kid, no matter how mature you think you are and no matter what you’re training to do as an adult. There’s no reasonable excuse for you to be treated like this by someone who knowingly and willingly took on the responsibility to adequately care for you when he chose to bring you into this world.”
Hizashi presses him close, his movement subtle enough that he doesn’t think Shouto picks up on it, but enough for Aizawa to feel him close against him.
He’s still not happy, and goes on, his voice low in the silent, freezing air, “And if he wants to trash that responsibility and throw you in harm’s way for the sake of training that he doesn’t even understand, then I’m going to take adequate action against him. If he wants to throw away the responsibility that he wanted in the first place, then there are people who will happily take it from him, people who won’t treat a child like it’s a thing or a tool to settle an unfounded grudge.”
He leaves the implication unsaid, and Todoroki only nods at him. There’s no question about it, then—Aizawa knows that it’s time. It’s only confirmed by Hizashi pulling gently on his waist, and Aizawa fixes his student with one last look before he nods in the direction of the house and Todoroki trails behind them, no longer keeping pace at Aizawa’s side.
Aizawa is notoriously a man of few words. He doesn’t talk as much as other people do, and he likes his words to be thought out and meaningful. But as he walks up to Endeavor’s house, Aizawa can’t even begin to plan out what he wants to say, and all he can feel is the rage that’s been brewing ever since he’d stood in front of the windows at the dorms earlier in the afternoon and had watched Todoroki Shouto, a fifteen year-old highschooler, trying to deny the fact that his father had abandoned him in favor of some ridiculous training exercise.
He doesn’t even have to think of a greeting, though, because as soon as Aizawa steps onto the large porch of the house, the front door is being nearly ripped off its hinges, and Aizawa had to grit his teeth in order to hold his tongue as he comes face-to-face with the man Aizawa has despised for years.
Todoroki Enji never really changes. He’s always the same, from his appearance to his expression. Tall, bulky, and angry. Fiery, too, from the way the flame in his facial hair and atop his head burns. He makes no secret of glaring at Aizawa in particular, though Hizashi catches it, too.
As soon as they’re close enough, Endeavor acts, and he’s quick enough that Aizawa doesn’t see it coming, Endeavor snatches Todoroki’s shoulder, his hand fisting in the kid’s coat near the collar, and Shouto’s hand flies to his father’s arm. He doesn’t give Aizawa or Hizashi a glance as he submits, and stumbles into his house, never making eye contact with his father or saying a word, and Endeavor all but shoves him behind him and focuses on Aizawa and Hizashi.
Any hold of control Aizawa has over himself disappears the moment he sees Endeavor grab his son, and he understands exactly why Shouto had had such a visceral reaction to Aizawa reaching out for him earlier. It’s almost surprising how little of a secret Endeavor makes of his treatment of Todoroki.
“Eraser,” Endeavor growls at him, sounding exactly like some sort of animal. He barely glances at Hizashi, even though he’d been the one in communication with Endeavor.
“Let’s skip the niceties,” Aizawa doesn’t hold himself back. He can’t. His voice is low and deep, and for once, he doesn’t try to conceal his emotions. For once he doesn’t even try to deny that he’s feeling violent emotion, and somewhere in his mind, he knows that getting this way is dangerous, but he can’t stop it. “You have no room to be angry at me or anyone else. You’re the one who abandoned your kid. I’ve warned you before and the next time you do something like this, there’s not going to be another warning. Do you understand me?”
Hizashi’s grip is tight on his waist, but Aizawa is leaning himself into Endeavor’s personal space, and he doesn’t know if Hizashi is trying to hold him back or reassure him. In either case, it’s not working.
Endeavor’s expression doesn’t change, and he continues to stare down at Aizawa with a combination of primal rage and disgust. He’s taller than Aizawa is by quite a bit, but Aizawa is anything but afraid of him. He knows him, even if they haven’t talked much face to face until now, and he knows the type of person he is. An overgrown child who’s been spoiled, and nothing more.
“You’re overstepping your boundaries, Eraser,” Endeavor hisses his hero name like it’s a swear, and all it does it drive Aizawa further towards the edge. “I suggest you back off and let me parent my own child.”
“If you want to use that argument, then you should probably start actually parenting him. Fifteen years is a little too late in that aspect, isn’t it?”
“Have some respect, Eraser,” Endeavor shoots back at him. “I’ve been a hero longer than you have and I expect due respect from that.”
Aizawa feels Hizashi’s grip tighten on his waist, and apparently, Endeavor’s request for respect pisses him off enough that he speaks up and involves himself in the argument.
“Stop that,” Hizashi’s starting to lose it, too, and him spitting out his words without abandon is a clear sign of that. “We’re not kids, Endeavor. You don’t get any automatic respect when all of us have over a decade of active duty. Your status as pro has no hold here—we’re all goddamn adults and you abandoned your fucking kid. You don’t get any respect here, and you need to back the hell off.”
Endeavor has taken to leaning over Aizawa, using his height as an advantage over him, and Aizawa hasn’t backed down from getting in his face. He doesn’t know him well enough to predict his patterns, but to Aizawa, it looks like Todoroki Enji is threatening him.
He would’ve already taken Endeavor out if Hizashi hadn’t made him leave his weapon behind, but he trusts Hizashi to come to his defense if Endeavor lashes out at him.
At least they’d have a case against him, then, he thinks bitterly.
“Endeavor, you know that we could easily take you out,” Hizashi continues, anger seeping into his voice. Aizawa is almost tempted to look at him, but he has to be careful—if Endeavor gets angry enough to be reckless and uses his quirk on Aizawa, he could easily be badly injured if he’s looking away. Instead, he lets Hizashi try to get him to back down, “Don’t. Try. Anything.”
Still, though, Endeavor leans down, getting into Aizawa’s face, until Aizawa can feel the heat from the flames on his face.
Reckless, and unnecessarily violent. He remembers the conversation earlier with Todoroki about his father, when he’d prompted him about his opinion on the other hero.
Endeavor starts to say something, and then it happens, completely by accident.
Aizawa has near perfect control over his quirk. His startle response, on the other hand, is a different demon altogether. He’d suppressed it earlier in when Todoroki had accidentally lashed out at him, but there’s no preventing it now, and as soon as Endeavor starts getting more into his personal space, his erasure activates and Endeavor takes a alarmed step back, nearly stepping into the doorframe.
Aizawa releases it as soon as he realizes what’s happened, blinking his tired, dry eyes shut, and makes eye contact with a still startled Endeavor.
“Are you threatening me?”
Endeavor’s voice booms around the house and the grounds outside, almost loud enough to rival the voice hero himself, and even though he doesn’t know this childish man well, Aizawa can tell he’s about to snap.
And he has every intention of taking him, of continuing this circular, terrible argument until he can get it through his hotheaded mind that what he did is inexcusable, but with the way Endeavor had moved the moment Aizawa used his quirk, he can see more into the entryway of the house, and he sees Endeavor’s son watching them, looking bewildered, and Aizawa realizes what he’s doing.
He also realizes that it’s not a good idea. This is neither the time nor the place.
So he gets the last word in, speaking under his breath to the man in front of him, “Endeavor, if you ever put Todoroki’s safety in jeopardy again, I’ll either put you in prison or a hospital, whichever comes first. I don’t care who you are or what ranking you have. I’ll treat you just like every abusive parent in the world.”
Endeavor slams the door in his face, and Aizawa knows it’s over.
He holds it together as he and Hizashi make the walk back to their car.
“That went about as well as it could’ve,” Hizashi murmurs to him on the way.
And he loses it the moment he can.
Aizawa has never been much for emotion. On most days, he’d rather die than actually admit that he feels things. He constantly pushes them down and tries to not feel things, priding himself on his ability to rationally think and logically make decisions not influenced by emotion. But he does feel things. He knows that everything he did and said to Endeavor is a product of that emotion, and he knows that the second Hizashi wraps his arms around him and buries his face in Aizawa’s shoulder, that those emotions are going to erupt from him.
He doesn’t scream or cry. Hizashi does. Hizashi cries. He’s been a crier the entire time Aizawa’s known him, and right now is no different. Hizashi hides his face in Aizawa’s shoulder and makes no secret of the sobs that wrack him, though they’re muted by the thick layers Aizawa has on.
Instead, Aizawa feels his body go limp against Hizashi and even though the other man is crying his eyes out, Hizashi expects it and keeps Aizawa on his feet.
“It’s not fair.”
He doesn’t say it to anyone in particular, and it’s not even directed at Hizashi. It’s a phrase that Aizawa hasn’t said in a long time. At thirty-one years old, he knows that life isn’t fair, but ‘life isn’t fair’ only means something when it’s in relation to something small—someone getting better marks, someone having more connections than the next person, someone getting lucky. It doesn’t mean that some people should have to go through what Todoroki is going through while others get to have a near-perfect home life. That’s not fairness. That’s something else, something evil, and one thing Aizawa has learned in thirty years of living his life is that evil exists in a lot of forms.
Sometimes it’s in villains who kill and kidnap people. Sometimes it’s in organized crime rings. And sometimes it’s right at home, where people hurt children just because they can.
Aizawa knows why he loses control around parents who mistreat children. It’s because he doesn’t understand. There’s a reason for everything and that helps him understand the things that go on in the world around him, and helps him view his world in a more logical manner, but no matter how hard he tries, he can never find a reason for hurting a child. It’s worse when it hits closer to him, and this is the worst he’s ever gotten—because he’s never dealt with this so close to him.
No matter how hard he tries to be objective, Aizawa gets attached. It happens every time with every class eventually. And this is the worst that attachment has ever been.
In that moment, with Hizashi supporting his weight and sobbing into his shoulder, for the first time, it’s hard for Aizawa to remember that he’s over thirty years old, because he feels like he’s eighteen again.
He knows what he has to do.
He and Hizashi don’t exchange spoken words. They’re both a little too shaken to speak. When Hizashi’s finally done crying and there’s a significant wet spot on the shoulder of Aizawa’s jacket, Hizashi supports him with one arm and signs that they should go home, that Endeavor’s security will get suspicious if they stick around too long, and Aizawa has enough willpower left to nod.
He hadn’t imagined, earlier this afternoon when he’d been watching Todoroki out the windows of the dorms, that things would end up like this. He didn’t really know what he’d imagined—maybe that they could give Todoroki back to his father without much of a problem—but whatever it was, this was definitely a different outcome.
And yet, as Hizashi helps him back in the car, Aizawa plans to make the same phone call he’d decided to make when he and Todoroki had initially met up with Hizashi.
He feels numb as Hizashi starts driving. The radio is off. Aizawa has his phone in his hands. The number is on speed dial—it’s of the precinct Aizawa sources some of his hero work out of—and he doesn’t hesitate as he follows through on the plan he’d made earlier, and he’s well aware with every passing second that he’s doing something that can’t be taken back.
One of the night detectives answers with a concerned greeting, and Aizawa clears his throat in an attempt to find his voice.
“Eraser, are you coming in to patrol today? We don’t have—”
“I’m not,” His tone is strong and every part of Aizawa feels painfully numb. “I need to open a child abuse case, and I need reassurance that you’ll do your best to expedite the investigation.”
If you're curious, I am making this into a series. I have ideas for a plotline and there's obviously interest. I have no idea when the next part will be up, but I'll be working on it.
I appreciate all feedback and you can find me on tumblr as deafmic!