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The Things We Don’t Talk About

Chapter Text

“Get back here!”

Aizawa turned his head from where he was crouched on the roof of the convenience store, watching a black-hooded figure dart down the sidewalk. A large, red-faced man rapidly waddled out of the store, jabbing a pudgy finger towards the short - and surprisingly fast - individual.

“That little shit just robbed me!” The man was an odd mix of irate and frantic, his ears and neck turning a deep, angry shade of red to match his face. He whipped his head back and forth indignantly, continuing to rush forward as he glared at the indifferent group of onlookers. “Someone call the cops already!” It was difficult to understand him with all his panting, voice high and wheezing through gasping breaths as he desperately chased after the thief.

Sighing deeply, the officer resigned himself to an evening of stopping petty crime and capturing low-lifes.

He didn’t even want to be here right now. This wasn’t his usual patrol route, and he said he’d never patrol here when he took this job. The familiar sight of these worn-down buildings and the awful stench of smoke and urine still haunted him. These were the images from his nightmares, the place his mind would go when it was dark and so deep in the night that nothing seemed real anymore.

Places like these were why he joined the force, though. The impoverished areas where people lack money and responsibility and support from their families and society that no one cared enough to check up on. Aizawa has always wanted to help the little guy, wanting to just stay in the action and do some real good.

He just never wanted to face his childhood neighborhood again.

It wasn’t exactly a tight-knit community, so hopefully very few civilians will recognize him. The people here often thought that they were better than everyone else because their situation was “only temporary.” Others were too busy getting high so they didn’t have to face their problems on the ground. No one around here thought to get to know the other members of their community, and it was honestly just too dangerous to be out socializing all the time. Everyone was either looking for a job, serving time, committing crimes because no business in their right mind would hire them, or just wallowing in self-pity.

Some people, though, would rather rob small businesses and run from the police.

Aizawa sprinted after the person, ignoring the taunts and whispers of, “let’s get outta here,” that followed him, and instead focusing on his surroundings. It wasn’t a good idea to be a cop in this neighborhood, especially if there was no one there to back you up. This was only a small pursuit, so there was really no need to call someone else in, but if there was one thing people hated in these areas, it was the police.

He didn’t exactly know how big of a robbery this was, either. Did the thief have a gun? Was this just a distraction from something bigger? Most of the crimes here weren’t well thought out or anything. It mainly consisted of pick-pockets and small-time delinquents that just needed the money to get by or make a name for themselves. It was definitely sad, but that’s why Aizawa was here.

To put away those bad influences.

He caught up to the figure fairly quickly, though he was slightly out of breath. This guy was fast, without a doubt.

Aizawa grabbed the person’s hood and yanked , stopping their momentum and making them stumble. A mess of purple hair was unleashed, wild and sticking up in all directions. Aizawa slammed him against a brick wall, cuffing him easily and listing off his rights.

Grasping him by the upper arm, Aizawa began leading him back toward the store. The kid was young, probably only about twelve or thirteen. He was lanky, yet a bit on the short side, which made it kind of awkward for Aizawa’s arm positioning, but it’s not like he could do anything about it. It wasn’t particularly surprising to have young kids getting arrested like this, but it still hurt to potentially screw up a boy’s entire future over a petty robbery.

The kid was thrashing in his grip, yelling out profanities with his voice cracking in prepubescent rage. “Get offa me, you fucking perv!” He was whipping his body around wildly, blindly attempting to thrust his elbow into Aizawa’s abdomen. “Someone, help! A bad man’s got me!”

Aizawa tried not to growl at that, tightening his grip on the kid’s arm and body-slamming him harshly into the store’s brick wall. He should probably be gentler since he was underage, but he was honestly just too tired to care. “People don’t mess with the badge,” he said lowly, lying through his teeth. “And if you try and hit me again, I can legally use my taser in self-defense. It’s your call, kid.”

The brat grunted but said nothing more, having gone limp in Aizawa’s hold. Taking that as compliance, the officer let up a little on his grip, continuing toward the store.

The owner was still a few yards away from the shop, probably having stopped when Aizawa began his chase. He spotted them almost immediately, storming over and grabbing the boy’s hair. The cop made a small noise of protest but couldn’t really do anything. This didn’t technically qualify as assault, considering the boy was quite obviously a minor, and Aizawa wasn’t sure of the full relation between these two. Besides, in these types of situations, a bit of manhandling usually gave people a feeling of satisfaction, as terrible as that sounds. If the store owner got to say his peace now and unleash some of his anger, it might be easier for the boy in the long-run.

“You little shit,” the man seethed, just a couple inches taller than the kid but still seeming to tower over him. “So it was you that’s been stealing from my store, huh?” The boy didn’t reply, just continued staring at the man with a scarily blank expression, much more subdued than he was before.

“Huh?!” the man asked again, grasping the lavender hair and shaking his head back and forth. Aizawa quickly reached up and set a hand on the man’s arm, trying to placate him before this did turn into an assault. This wasn’t worth the paperwork.

The store owner begrudgingly withdrew his hand, leaving them in balled fists and shaking at his sides. “I had to install more cameras to catch you,” he hissed. “I spent weeks watching the footage until I caught you in the act today. Do you know how much those things cost? Do you know how much time I’ve had to give up to catch your snotty little ass? I’ve got twenty-five proud years of gas station experience, you delinquent. Don’t mess with me.”

Something like pride shown through the kid’s eyes as he replied, “Wow, sir, you’ve sure got me hooked. My greatest dream has always been to work at a gas station. I like to aim high, you know?” Aizawa squeezed the kid’s shoulder harder as the man snarled, trying to get the idiot to just shut the hell up. “Now, tell me, with all your highly respectable experience with shitty gas station food, is a hot dog really a sandwich?”

The owner’s face turned red, but he grinned wickedly, his teeth an ugly yellow outlined with black tar. “Don’t try your fancy questions with me. Working at a gas station beats jail, don’t it? At least I don’t gotta steal to get my cash.” He leaned closer. “Or get it in heels on street corners, like your mama.”

Aizawa read the kid’s movements easily and put an arm on his chest before he could lunge. He wasn’t as compliant this time, struggling against the cop’s steadfast hold.

“That’s enough,” he stated firmly, glaring at them both. “I brought him over here to apologize and return what he stole, not for you two to bicker like grade-schoolers.” The kid could pass for a grade-schooler, but he couldn’t take the words back now.

It seemed to settle the man, though, because he just breathed out annoyedly through his nose and glared expectantly at the boy.

They faced off for several tense moments before Aizawa shook him slightly by the arm. Rolling his eyes, the kid set his mouth into a grimly resigned line and muttered, “I’m deeply sorry that my body has basic necessities.”

Aizawa shifted uncomfortably but ignored it, knowing that even if this were true, plenty of other kids were in the same situation. He knew the way of the world. You can’t save them all.

The man only scoffed, crossing his arms over his chest. “You ain’t getting no pity from me, boy. Now give it back before I stop playing nice.”

The kid kept his hard eyes locked on the store owner as he said, “hoodie pocket.” Aizawa reached into the pocket awkwardly, pulling out three protein bars and some smokes. He stared at them with narrowed eyes, looking up at the owner sharply.

“Are you fucking kidding me?” he hissed, not even caring if he was being unprofessional. He needed a drink. “You threw this much of a fit over a couple of candy bars?”

He heard the kid mutter something about them not being candy bars - “I’m not five. Jesus.” - but he didn’t care. He thought that this was an actual robbery, like taking money or running out with armfuls of supplies, not some kid nicking a couple of snacks and a pack of cigarettes off the shelf. The latter was a slightly more pressing issue, considering the boy was obviously underage, but it was still no reason to start screaming on the street.

Looking completely justified, the owner indignantly answered, “No one steals from my shop. I’ve got a reputation to keep.” He turned to the boy, hissing, “And I’m pressing charges.”

Aizawa tried not to wince at that. The kid was a minor, so he’d probably be let off easy if this was his first offense, but just one stray mark on his record could make him lose a scholarship. It could ruin whatever dreams he has and keep him from getting a stable career. 

This was where the downward spiral started, for lack of a better explanation.

The kid seemed pretty indifferent, though, shrugging his shoulders as the cuffs clinked together. His face looked relaxed and petty, like they were all just idiots falling into his trap.

“Right,” Aizawa said slowly, “anything else?”

When the man shook his head, Aizawa wasted no time in walking back toward his car. This conversation was quickly becoming annoying, and his shift was supposed to be over fifteen minutes ago.

They approached the car and Aizawa uncuffed him, opening the passenger side door with a firm grip still on his bicep. The kid raised a brow at him but slid onto the smooth leather, slumping lazily against it. Aizawa immediately locked the car after closing the door, not wanting the kid to make a run for it. He seemed pretty content, feet up on the dashboard and head lolled to the side, but you could never be too safe.

Sliding into the driver’s seat, Aizawa knocked the boy’s feet down harshly as he explained, “This wasn’t a huge offense. We’re going to the police station and they’re going to call your parents, and I don’t know what’s happening beyond that. You ever been taken in, kid?”

His nose scrunched up like he smelled something bad. After they pulled out, he finally muttered, “Yeah.” Aizawa tried not to react much, but he breathed in sharply. Shit. That would make this much more difficult.

“Alright. There might be a little more to this, then. What’s your name and how old are you?”

“Thirteen,” he mumbled.

The boy side-eyed him as they pulled out. Aizawa stayed quiet for a few moments, hoping he’d respond to his other question. “You know,” he started slowly, “I’m going to know your name when we get to the station in a few minutes, anyway. I’d really like to stop calling you ‘kid’. It’s annoying.” The boy sighed in response, glaring out the window when Aizawa glanced at him.

“What do I call you?” he eventually asked quietly.

“I’m Shouta Aizawa,” he answered almost immediately. In normal circumstances, he wouldn’t give his full name out so easily, but that didn’t really matter right now. This kid wasn’t much more than a child with sticky fingers; he couldn’t do much with that information.

They sat in silence for a few minutes, and Aizawa just about gave up. It wasn’t really important to know the kid’s name, even if it would make filing a report easier.

“Hitoshi,” the boy suddenly muttered begrudgingly. Aizawa waited a minute for him to follow it with his surname, raising an eyebrow when Hitoshi said nothing. “Do you have a last name, Hitoshi?”

The boy turned his head to glare at him, lip curling. “Does it matter ?”

And, no. It really didn’t.

When they arrived at the police station, Aizawa cuffed Hitoshi’s hands in front of him. Considering this was technically an arrest for robbery (and he resisted the arrest), he really should have just left him in restraints and had him ride in the back the whole time, but there was no reason to.

The kid was a scrawny thing, all wiry muscles and tough skin. He’s definitely got some fire in him and clearly has some fighting experience, but Aizawa could take him down easily if need-be. He was familiar with street fight strategies and could easily retaliate, not to mention the boy hardly came up to his chin and was probably half his weight.

A cold breeze swept out of the station doors as they entered, the AC still on even through the early autumn months. The kid hardly reacted, but Aizawa could see the chill that ran through his small frame.

Officer Saito was sitting at the front desk on his computer, trying to look like he was doing something important but probably just searching for porn or reading another article about manatees being injured by boat propellers.

“Ah, Aizawa! Picked up another hoodlum, did you?” Hitoshi’s face remained mostly blank, but he did roll his eyes a bit. Aizawa found it kind of unethical to say that right in front of a young teenager, even if it was mostly true. It would be different if he was sixteen or seventeen - Hitoshi’s future wasn’t set in stone yet.

“Whatever, kid. Where’s Naomasa?”

He felt a bit bad shutting the guy down like that, but he was exhausted from patrolling all night and into the morning. Saito was young and even newer to the precinct than Aizawa, still fresh-faced and full of that optimistic energy that you only find in people who think they’ve found their dream-come-true career. If he was honest with himself, a small part of Aizawa envied him for being so blind-sided and innocent. He’s probably seen some shitty stuff, sure - everyone has, in their own messed up little worlds. But at least he has hope.

Aizawa was already where he’d be for the rest of his life. He was a nice level of happy, living with a loud and caring boyfriend and being the proud co-father of two cats and a dwarf hamster. He had a fairly steady job as a cop, working random shifts throughout the week with a glorious day off every Saturday. That part wasn’t changing at all - he’d already been offered a promotion to become a detective but declined, wanting to stay in the action. The whole precinct thought he was crazy because of it. He already worked cases and helped out the higher-ups, but he told them he was content where he was. There was no need to label him with overrated and glorified titles. The pay-raise would be nice, but he was happy where he was, working from the shadows and not needing a shinier badge to tell him he’s special.

His friends were alright, too, if not annoyingly overzealous, and he had a sort of mother figure and a younger half brother as family. He was constantly working and going over cases and when he wasn’t, he was planning what to do in the little free time he has. He had no time to stop and think and he was happy about it.

Before coming to the precinct, Aizawa was floundering, lost in working endless hours at the coffee shop to pay back his college debts and filling out countless applications while searching for the right job. Now, though, he had people to rely on. It made things much easier. More logical.

His days weren’t exactly thrilling, obviously, mostly consisting of giving out parking tickets and wandering around aimlessly while trying to look like he was doing something important, but he still enjoyed them. The simplicity and efficiency was nice, and he couldn’t really hope for more. Just ten years ago he thought he’d be dead or homeless by now.

Life works in funny ways, doesn’t it?

Saito flushed at Aizawa’s derogatory dismissal, wordlessly pointing a finger toward the door leading to Naomasa’s workspace. With a nod at the officer, Aizawa made his way toward Naomasa’s office, leading Hitoshi by the back of his collar.

Naomasa was a pretty good guy, and he usually dealt with cases that involved minors. This wasn’t exactly a big deal, since all Hitoshi did was try to steal a couple of protein bars and a pack of cigarettes, but Aizawa figured it would be best to take this to him anyway. He’s always been good at reading people and getting to the root of the problem, so maybe they could avoid any unnecessary back and forth.

“Shinsou, kid, how’ve you been?” Naomasa exclaimed far too cheerfully as soon as they stepped foot in the room, looking up brightly from his papers. Aizawa glanced down at the kid, finding him staring stubbornly to the side with a blush tinting his cheeks. 

So his name was Shinsou. He must have been to the station more than he let on.

Not paying Aizawa any attention, Naomasa made his way around his desk and toward Hitoshi, grabbing his arm loosely and guiding him toward one of the two seats in front of his desk. Aizawa sat in the other chair while Naomasa took the spinning one behind his desk.

“It’s been a few months, hasn’t it, bud?” Shinsou said nothing, glaring at the detective sullenly through violet eyes from where he was slouched in his seat. That look reminded Aizawa of a different teenager, just as moody and carrying the burden of a bone-deep hatred for the world. It made something in him freeze up, and his eyes raked over the light bruise on Shinsou’s jaw and defensive stiffness of his shoulders.

He looked away.

Naomasa sighed heavily, making real eye contact with Aizawa for the first time. “What’d you take him in for?”

Aizawa released a breath sharply through his nose, something between a laugh and an annoyed huff. “Petty robbery. He took a couple of protein bars from a gas station and the owner through a fucking fit - said he’d press charges.”

Naomasa and Aizawa looked at each other, mouths twisted and eyes squinting slightly. It was a look passed between only the closest of people, a look that meant you were beyond the basic level of “friends” and on toward something even closer, something spiritual. They were let in on a secret that only they knew, and both of them knew that that look meant one thing:

Shit .

“Okay,” Naomasa said, breathing out. “Okay, so here’s what we’re going to do.” He started to lean forward before he stopped, expression changing. He turned sharply toward Shinsou, eyes narrowed and mouth forming a thin line. Shinsou sunk lower in his seat, and Aizawa got the distinct feeling that he missed something.

“Aizawa, what time is it?” Naomasa said slowly, still looking at Shinsou. Glancing at his watch in confusion, he muttered, “Almost eleven in the morning. Why?”

Letting out a breath, Naomasa turned back to Shinsou. “You wanted to get caught,” he breathed, suspicion turning into realization. “You went during his shift and when no one else would be in the store so he could catch you. You wanted to be brought here.”

Aizawa raised a brow and turned his head, wondering why the hell a kid would want to be arrested.

Shinsou laughed bitterly, the noise sharp and short and resentful in the small room. The temperature dropped a few degrees. “Why the hell would I want to get caught? To see your lovely desk manager?” He scoffed. “No fucking thanks.”

Naomasa’s eyes softened in a way that Aizawa knew was almost sympathetic. He lowered his voice, speaking softly like Shinsou was a scared animal. “Is it your mom?”

The boy stiffened and clenched his teeth so hard that Aizawa could see the muscle jumping in his cheek. “Fuck off,” he growled lowly, slamming his cuffed hands on the dark oak of the desk. The sound was loud in the small room, rattling the wood and echoing off the walls. “It’s none of your fucking business, you asshole.” He paused momentarily, sinking back into his seat. “And your trench coat is fucking stupid.”

Aizawa turned his head away to hide his grin, but if the glare Naomasa shot him was any indication, he wasn’t successful.

“As much as I appreciate your input, kid,” Naomasa said, patience wearing thin, “I didn’t ask. I’m trying to help you.” He glanced at Aizawa. “Did the owner already file a report?”

He rolled his eyes. “Don’t know,” he answered truthfully, “but probably. He seemed pretty desperate to get the kid locked up. The guy’s a dumbass, though. He probably called the wrong number.”

Naomasa didn’t laugh, and Aizawa didn’t either. There was every possibility that the owner was bluffing, but it didn’t really matter at this point. The kid was here, he had a record, and he was caught shoplifting. Pressing charges was only a formality.

Naomasa sighed deeply, turning his gaze toward Shinsou. “What is it, kid? Do you want to throw your future away?” Shinsou shifted, eyes looking suspiciously red. Naomasa softened his tone. “You know you can come here when your mom takes off. We’ll call CPS, and you can go live with a nice family until she-”

No,” Shinsou hissed, interrupting him. “I’m not going to another shitty foster home. You know I’m not allowed to go with the normal families.” He sat back down from where he had half-risen from his chair, turning his gaze to the side. “It’s fine. I’ll just stick to the rooftops until she comes back.” He looked down at his crossed arms, lowering his voice. “She always comes back.”

Something in Aizawa twisted painfully, but he wasn’t sure why. These types of things pop up all the time. Hitoshi wasn’t a special case.

“I know that, bud,” Naomasa said gently, “but you need a guardian while she’s not there. How about we just call your stepdad-”

“He is not my stepdad!” Hitoshi interrupted again. “He’s just another live-in fuckboy. Just-just send me to juvie or whatever. I don’t care.” He scrubbed a palm over his watering eyes and crossed his arms with a small sniff. Aizawa and Naomasa made eye contact with each other, and Aizawa shook his head slightly, hoping Naomasa would understand the silent message.

“Alright bud,” he said quietly. “You’re not going back to juvie. I think I have an idea.” Aizawa stiffened when Naomasa turned to him. “You’re a certified foster parent, right? You can take him in and act as a sort of rehabilitation home. You certainly have the experience-”

What?” Aizawa and Shinsou cut in at the same time, glancing at each other with wide eyes. “I’m not going with this hobo,” Shinsou declared indignantly, looking both defiant and frantic. “He’s probably some creepy sadist or something. You can’t do this!”

Aizawa didn’t justify that with a response. “I don’t have time for a kid. It’s not like I can take him to- to school or play dates or-”

“I’m thirteen, I don’t have play dates, I hang out-

“And it’s not like I’m rich,” he continued. “I can’t properly provide for him.” Naomasa glanced between the two of them, Shinsou clenching his teeth in anger and Aizawa watching indifferently.

“Well,” he said slowly, “Shinsou, Aizawa is a very good man. I promise he won’t do anything… uh, unprofessional. And Aizawa,” he changed his tone slightly, turning toward him. “The government will provide funds, just like they do with any foster child. If the owner is pressing charges, he’ll probably be put on parole. You can oversee that, and Yamada can probably help with transportation, if that’s what you’re worried about.” He leaned closer. “It’s only logical, Aizawa.”

Shinsou and Aizawa glanced at each other, both of them making noises of protest.

Naomasa held up a hand, staring hard at both of them. “It’s either that or we call his mother’s boyfriend. The choice is yours.”

Aizawa looked Shinsou over, eyes drawn to the round mark on his hand that he was pressing on with his thumb. He felt phantom pains of a cigarette pressed against his stomach, that horrible burning sensation spreading through his whole body and making a chill run through him. He locked eyes with the boy, sensing a familiar wariness and anger in the purple orbs, and he wondered vaguely what the boy was thinking. They turned away at the same time.

Fine,” they hissed.

This was only rational, Aizawa decided.

Chapter Text

This was so fucking stupid.

Shinsou sunk further down into the yellowing mattress that he was begrudgingly sitting on, only stopping the movement once his neck and shoulders were uncomfortably strained against the wall. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared sullenly across the dull grey floor of his detention cell, breathing slowly through his growing frustration.

After patting him down - thoroughly patting him down, until they were sure Shinsou didn’t have a scrap of dignity left - and confiscating his favorite hoodie (for no damn reason, he might add), that creepy dude from earlier had come back to escort him to a holding cell. His unshaven face had been set into a hard, serious frown of indifference as Shinsou was marched down to the cells, eyes dull and unreadable.

The jackass hadn’t even tried to make Shinsou comfortable or indulge him in some light conversation. Any sort of pleasantries would have irritated Shinsou to no end, undoubtedly, but he always looks forward to shutting people up with harsh realities or softening their resolve by playing the “I’m just a poor kid mixed up with the wrong people” card. It was always fun to tug at people’s heartstrings, especially those of cops. It never took long for them to snap.

Aizawa, however, hadn’t been putting up with any of his bullshit.

“Put a sock in it, kid,” he’d muttered tiredly the third time Shinsou tried to get a rise out of him. Unceremoniously dragging the boy into a small, barred cell, the man had swung the door shut, locking it automatically.

“We don’t have a juvenile unit at this precinct, so you’re stuck with high-hopes over here.” Aizawa gestured toward the pink-and-green-haired man in the cell next to Shinsou’s, who was bobbing his head to a nonexistent beat and strumming one of his sandals. “They already called your caseworker, and she’s trying to get in contact with your mom. Hopefully this can be sorted out quickly, and we’ll be out of here by tonight.” Shinsou stuck out his jaw and glared at him, a look that most people would shy away from or smack him over the head for.

Aizawa just rolled his eyes. This man was infuriating.

“Midnight,” he’d called, turning toward the supervising officer seated at a desk. Shinsou wondered briefly why there was a female cop in a male detention room, but shrugged it off. “This is Shinsou. He’s a brat, but we’ve got no place to put him, and he’s a runner. He got picked up for shoplifting. Good luck.” With that, he’d turned back to the doors, swiping an ID card and muttering something about needing a drink.

‘Midnight’ sighed in response, turning toward Shinsou with an apologetic expression. “He’s just a little cranky,” she’d said sympathetically, smiling softly like Shinsou was a scared child. “He had to pick up a twelve-hour night shift on his day off, so he’s running on pure adrenaline and caffeine right now.”

Shinsou had scoffed bitterly, turning his head to the side. “Wanting to go beddy-bye and being in a shitty mood doesn’t give someone the excuse to treat everyone around them like dirt. He’s just like every other piss-poor excuse for a cop that you’ve got around here.” It’s not that Aizawa was treating him like dirt, per se, but the hardening expression on her face had made it worth it.

“Listen, kid,” she’d hissed hotly, jabbing a finger towards him from her seat at the desk. “Say whatever you want about me, but never insinuate anything about Aizawa that’s less than great. He’s done more good than you could ever know.”

Laughing quietly, Shinsou had tried to ignore the strange burning feeling that had been building up in his chest. “Right,” he muttered, clicking his tongue. ‘More good than you could ever know’? What, does he always save her the last doughnut or something? Midnight had turned back to her work, probably assuming that would be the end of it.

Shinsou turned the brief conversation over in his head, around and around until he could analyze it no further. The two were definitely familiar with each other, so maybe they were close friends? Ex-lovers? Family? Just friendly work acquaintances? Oh, the possibilities were endless.

“So…” he’d drawled a few minutes later when the silence stretched on too long. “Is your name actually Midnight? ‘Cause if so, your parents were fucking stupid.”

Releasing the tension in her shoulders, Midnight smiled faintly and answered, “I grew up with my aunt and uncle, but no. My name’s Kayama Nemuri, but Aizawa’s partner gave me the name ‘Midnight’ when I was repeatedly… successful in my nightclubbing pursuits. It’s kind of like my prime time. Not to mention my hair is dark purple.” She’d said the first part in such a way that she thought it would go right over Shinsou’s head, but she obviously didn’t know him very well.

“Ah, I understand now,” he responded easily, smirking behind his hand. “You can get it.”

“Excuse me?”

Shinsou stifled a snicker.

“You can get it. Like, you know. You’re good at getting dick.”

He’d expected Midnight to get flustered and deny it, but she just smirked right back at him. “Oh, I don’t know if I’m good at it,” she said lightly, zapping her hand-held taser and watching the sparks fly between the metal. She casually set her feet up on the desk, rolling her cheek lazily against her palm. “Some boys just need to be put in their place.”

Shinsou was embarrassed by the way he choked, cheeks and neck rapidly reddening. “You- you could get in trouble for that! You can’t just- I’m underage!” His cheeks flushed even further when his voice went up twelve octaves, stuttering over his words. Does she have no shame?

“Oh, sweetie,” she’d laughed, examining her red fingernails. “Any kid will be happy to have you in a couple of years, but I’m old enough to be your mother. That would be messed up on so many levels.” Shinsou had stared, flush still stubbornly tinting his cheeks as the wheels of his head turned. She must be in her late twenties, maybe early thirties, so the likelihood of her having a kid his age was extremely low. Granted, Shinsou’s mom probably wasn’t much older than her, but it was still a dumb comparison.

“And, anyway,” she’d continued, turning on her computer, “I wasn’t talking about you. I was simply stating a fact.” She’d grinned knowingly and sent a playful wink his way, turning back to her screen to type in her password. Shinsou had scowled at the ground, ignoring the creak of the bed as he sat down with a huff.

He didn’t like when anyone got the jump on him like that. If people were responding to him and falling into the little mind-traps he liked to set with his words, everything played out nicely into the palm of his hand. He’s almost always been smarter than the people around him, and he almost always has full control over situations, whether everyone else knows it or not. There are exceptions, of course, like how he was being forced to live with a fucking hobo, but he didn’t like how much he misread her. Fine, then. Midnight - one, Shinsou - zero.

But that had been nearly six hours ago.

Thankfully there was a clock above Midnight’s desk, or Shinsou would be out of his mind by now. The only other indication of the time was the small barred window at the top of the ceiling, but that was so foggy and the fluorescent lights of the room were so mind-numbingly bright and flickering that he wouldn’t have been able to make out the time of day either way.

Evening was approaching quickly, and Shinsou wondered in the back of his mind if he’d have to go back to a group home or maybe an in-between home for a couple of days until this was all sorted out. This whole thing was idiotic, and honestly, if he had money, he’d pay them to just set him loose. 

It’s not like he couldn’t take care of himself - he was thirteen for God’s sake. Just because he had a house (if you can call it that) and a barely-functioning mother before all of this, it didn’t give anyone the right to steal him away from his own life. He’s been taking care of himself for as long as he could remember, so what if he didn’t have a government-approved guardian right now?

Fuck these people’s moral obligations. They were bullshit.

And fuck Naomasa, too, that asshole. Shinsou hadn’t been ‘trying’ to get caught, he just liked to ride on the edge, and the look on Old Man Redneck’s fat face had made it worth it. Besides, why would he want someone to catch him? All the foster homes for kids like him suck slimy balls, and the group homes were usually even worse. Juvie definitely was not desirable, so that was out of the question. Tossing him back to the streets would be preferable, but that would just make this whole ordeal a waste of time.

So, yeah. Naomasa was a dumbass.

Shinsou scuffed his worn tennis shoes along a mark on the floor, fully aware that he looked like a pouting child, but this just wasn’t fair. He was tired and thirsty and the subtle flickering of the lights was messing with his head. The guy from earlier was already released when an irate old lady - “Your focus is supposed to be on college, young man. What do you think we’re paying for? - picked him up, and two more men were brought in for fighting on the street.

Luckily the three of them were in individual cells, because Shinsou would really rather not be in the general vicinity of the two, nevermind locked in an enclosed space with them.

They were still yelling at each other when Aizawa finally walked in, despite Midnight’s violent and mildly sadistic threats if they didn’t shut up. “You motherfucking cunt,” the bearded brunette was shouting to the other man as Aizawa leisurely made his way toward Shinsou’s cell, “don’t you dare fucking pin this on me! I didn’t even make a single fucking pass at her, it’s not my fault she let me in her pants! Maybe if you didn’t go batshit, we wouldn’t be in this mess!”

The bald man snarled wordlessly, ramming his body against the bars. Aizawa paused mid-step, and the aura of the room darkened.

“That’s enough,” he growled loudly, glaring at them. “There’s a kid in here. Now get over yourselves before I knock your heads together.” They were both visibly steaming, but at least the piercing echo of their voices in the room was going down.

Aizawa sighed annoyedly, unlocking his cell door. “Morons,” Shinsou heard him mutter. “I don’t know how they’ve lived this long.” The door opened noisily, creaking and scraping on its hinges. Aizawa cringed, rubbing his temples and grabbing Shinsou’s arm.

Shinsou realized belatedly that he’d stood up defensively during their argument, hands shaking and ready for a fight. He tried to calm his nerves when Aizawa took hold of his arm, but the adrenaline in his body and the ache in his chest made him react automatically, and he violently shrugged him off. Aizawa was lucky he didn’t try to deck him.

All eyes were on him now, and Shinsou took in a shuddering breath self-consciously. He rubbed the back of his neck and clenched his fist into the burn on his palm, feeling colder in more ways than one without his sweatshirt to keep him warm.

After a much longer pause than intended, Shinsou scoffed and straightened his shirt sleeve where it had ridden up. “Don’t fucking touch me, you bastard.”

If Shinsou didn’t know better, he’d say Aizawa looked concerned. “Alright,” he said quietly, holding his hands up in a placating manner. “You’re alright.”

“Yeah, I’m alright,” he hissed. “Of course I’m alright, dumbass.” He shook off any lingering nerves and stomped toward the door. “And I told you before, I’m not a fucking kid. Stop treating-”

“Holy shit.”

Shinsou paused in his strides, eyeing the bald man in suspicion. “Holy shit, dude!” he exclaimed again, the words sharp and patronizing, resonating through the small room. “Oh my God, man, seriously, get a load of this kid!”

The brunette appeared more confused than anything. Shinsou felt his gut twist and he curled his lip, growling, “What’s there to see?” He could hear the defensiveness in his own voice, but he didn’t care. It never meant anything good when people recognized him. There weren’t many good things to recognize him for.

“What, you don’t remember me?” he questioned mockingly. Aizawa approached quickly, settling a hand on his shoulder to steer him toward the door.

Shinsou shrugged him off, glaring at the bald bag of dicks in front of him.

“I mean, I wouldn’t expect you to! You were off your tits on some wild shit, weren’t you, kid?” Shinsou sucked in a breath, dots coming together and forming an ugly picture, lines overlapping in all the wrong places and blurring into a hazy image of better-left-forgotten memories.

With a great amount of will-power, Shinsou let Aizawa lead him the rest of the way to the door. “What, no smartass comeback? Did your daddy finally beat some manners into you?”

His blood froze.

Shinsou didn’t think, just wrenched his arm from Aizawa’s grip and ran at the cell door, banging his fist against the bars until the officer pulled him back. The crack of the man’s nose and the impact of his fist on the man’s dumb, smug face would have felt much better, but the pain that shot up his arm and the startled expression on Baldy’s face succeeded in satisfying some of his anger.

“Shut the fuck up,” he said coldly, teeth gritted. “And he’s not my dad.” His attempted malice probably lost some of its effect by the way Aizawa was pinning both arms behind his back, but just saying it with some semblance of calm made him feel a bit better. He was in control.

“Ha!” Baldy threw his head back and laughed, the belittling tone sending shards of ice down Shinsou’s spine. “I’m sorry, I forgot,” he moved in closer, leaning his elbows against the bars. “You don’t have one.” He smirked when Shinsou jerked in Aizawa’s steadfast hold, eyes squinting with mirth.

“That’s enough,” Aizawa stated firmly, voice deep and authoritative. “Shinsou, let’s go. Your caseworker is waiting.” He began tugging him along, pointedly ignoring the teen’s noises of protest. Before opening the door, he called back, “and you’re pathetic, by the way. If I catch you doing that again, I’ll file charges for harassment of a minor.”

“Awe, that’s harsh, don’t you think? I just want him to tell his mama that I’ll be-”

“You didn’t let me finish,” Aizawa interjected, right as Shinsou was going to raise hell. “If I catch you doing that again, I’ll file charges for harassment of a minor, and then I’ll beat your ass into the ground.” Baldy swallowed, grin fading faster than Shinsou’s hope in humanity.

It was Aizawa’s turn to lean closer, dipping his head forward and smiling like a fucking maniac.

“I’ve got quite a bit of credibility here,” he said lowly. “Don’t push it, or I swear to you,” the color was draining from Baldy’s face with each ominous word, “they’ll never hear your screams.”

Without another word, Aizawa dragged Shinsou out the door and slammed it shut, ignoring Midnight’s stifled giggling and Baldy’s outraged, “Hey, you can’t threaten me!” Shinsou’s embarrassment was fading, making way for the pure glee taking over his body.

“I don’t need you to fight my battles for me,” he grumbled, but there was still a smile fighting its way to the surface. “I’m not a kid.” Aizawa hummed, glancing at him from the corner of his eye. Quickly schooling his expression, Shinsou stared ahead blankly.

“Well, then,” Aizawa drawled, pulling handcuffs off his utility belt. Shinsou immediately tried jerking away, but the man held strong. “I guess we better go back to the detention unit.” He began cuffing him and Shinsou struggled, thrashing in his grip.

“What the hell?” he hissed, pulling harshly against the restraints. “My caseworker is here, you can’t just send me back.” He struggled harder, chest aching as he backed away until he hit a wall. Aizawa just stood back, watching him silently with his arms crossed. This was ridiculous. “Seriously? Just because I won’t submit to you and your shitty superiority complex doesn’t give you the right to lock me up. That’s- that’s abusing your rights as a figure of the law, you freaking narcissist!”

Shinsou was breathing heavily by the end of his speech, realizing with a jolt that they were alone in this hallway, he was physically restrained, and Aizawa could do anything he wanted. No one would believe some problematic street kid with a record. “He resisted arrest.” “He attacked me out of nowhere, I swear!” “The kid’s just like his mom.”

He’s heard it all before.

Aizawa didn’t seem like he had assault in mind, though. He just kept on staring at Shinsou, that little I-know-something-that-you-don’t face on full display and making the teen want to knock a few teeth out.

“That’s odd, didn’t you just say you’re not a kid?” Shinsou tensed and scowled, finally realizing where this was going. “Because if I remember correctly, not being a kid would make you an adult. And being an adult would involve a much harsher sentence than staying with us for a little while, wouldn’t it?” Shinsou’s scowl deepened into a full-fledged and bitter frown.

“Harsher than staying with you? What, you mean the death penalty?” Aizawa shrugged indifferently, tugging him back in the direction they came.

“Wait, no, stop!”

Aizawa kept walking.

“Wait, seriously! I-I’ll listen to you this time, I swear!” He hated sounding so desperate, but there was no way in hell he was going back in there.

Aizawa stopped and looked at him, reading his gaze and searching for any insincerity. He blew out a puff of air, ruffling a few bangs that escaped from his messy ponytail. “Good,” he said shortly, uncuffing him. Shinsou rubbed at his wrists as soon as they were unclasped, glaring at the man resentfully.

Undeterred, Aizawa squatted down so he was eye-level with the young teen, speaking softer than Shinsou has ever heard him. “If you want to be treated like an adult, you need to act like it. You’ll get more rights and respect as you get older, but you’ll lose it if you don’t accept responsibility. Got me?” Shinsou nodded, flush creeping up his neck and onto his cheeks. God, this is so embarrassing.

Aizawa nodded once, standing up to his full height. “And don’t be in such a hurry to grow up. Trust me, it sucks once you get there. You’ll have plenty of time for that later.” For some reason, Shinsou’s eyes burned.

“Now, come,” he said, turning with an air of finality. “We don’t want to keep your caseworker waiting, correct?” He gestured with a crook of his finger, walking down the hall without so much as a glance back, just expecting Shinsou to follow.

The teen huffed, brushing a hand over his face and stomping after him.