The classroom door is huge.
Of course, they have a kind of large door to the general studies course, but this… this is almost in a league of its own.
Well, this is the hero course. Of course, it’s in a league of its own.
Or…it should be…
“Welcome to 1-A!”
Poppers went off, but Shinso didn’t quite hear them. He was too busy taking in the large amount of excited people in front of him. All smiles and chatter, they didn’t seem to be noticing that he wasn’t absorbing a single word any of them said.
“Wait, aren’t we 2-A now?”
“No, dummy! Not until first day of classes!”
“Huh? But that’s ages away!”
“Patience is becoming of a Pro-Hero! You must exercise such patience now!”
“I feel something stirring in the darkness…”
“I got ‘im!”
The last two students were doing something at the back of the group. Shinso could only try to mentally escape the crowd around him by focusing on whatever they were doing back there. It was Tokoyami from the Sports Festival and a kid with tape arms. The kid with tape arms was putting another student on the ceiling. Tokoyami was next to what looked like gloves waving angrily in thin air.
“You’ll get used to that pretty quickly. He’s lucky Sero-kun stepped in before Hagakure-chan could kick his ass.”
Shinso turned, a bit startled by the new presence at his side. He recognized him instantly.
“We worked together in my entrance test to the hero course,” said Shinso. There was no way he could forget that lightning streak of black against blond hair. Of course, the ‘popular face’ comment wasn’t something he forgot quickly either.
The boy whistled. “Impressive! I wasn’t sure if you’d remember me. Name’s Kaminari Denki!”
“Shinso Hitoshi. Thanks for having me.” The manners were almost reflexive. Still, they got the job done. Kaminari grinned.
“No need to be like that,” said the boy. Was everyone in this class going to be just as loud? “We’re all friends here!”
Friends… right. Shinso looked around him to see that most everyone had gone away already. They were talking amongst themselves and Kaminari looked like he was about ready to talk his ear off.
“So…” If Shinso couldn’t escape the conversation, he might as well steer it. He gestured to the scene at the back. “This happens often?”
The boy was up on the ceiling, smiling eerily at the girls in the room. They’d dispersed among their respective friends, but he was sure he saw a few of them shudder when the small boy’s gaze was directed their way. The tape kid and Iida from the Sports Festival seemed to notice, though. Iida immediately began to lecture from down below.
“Yeah, that’s Mineta.” Kaminari sounded resigned and yet amused. Somehow. “Hey, if you ever see him leeching around or doing something inappropriate, do what you can to stop him. He blabs pretty easily, so it shouldn’t be a problem for you.”
Shinso turned his eyes away from the scene and to his apparently dim-witted conversation partner. The boy was grinning as if he hadn’t just referred to using a Quirk that most people would consider villainous in order to get payback on a pervert.
Either the guy was an idiot or he just didn’t care. Either way, Shinso needed to get going. He had to meet with Aizawa-sensei in order to find out what dorm he would be moving to.
The door opens pretty easily. He supposes it’s got to. This is the hero class, after all. Everything should be fine.
But it isn’t.
There aren’t many people in here yet, but someone’s already in his desk. The face he’s making now is so different than the face he remembers. It isn’t smiling. It isn’t carefree.
Kaminari isn’t smiling, and Shinso knows that he’s more disturbed by that fact than he should be. He hasn’t been making friends while settling in.
He doesn’t care.
There’d only been two rooms to pick from. All of the other empty dorms had been on the girls’ side and there was a strict rule about the guys and girls being separated. That was fine by Shinso, honestly, since it made his choice much easier. He ended up picking a room at the end of the hall on the fourth floor. It was pretty out-of-the-way, so he was sure he wouldn’t be bothered at all by his new and insistent classmates.
Aizawa-sensei hadn’t given him much time after that to move his personal effects to his new room. He had a few days to get settled before the new term began, so that meant only one morning to get everything inside his room and organized just so. The rest of his time had to be dedicated to training and catching up. He was coming up from behind, after all.
To make things easier on himself while he moved, he propped open his door and opened both the window inside his room and the one on the other side of the hallway. It gave him a nice cross breeze to work with and removed a bit of the stuffy feeling that came with being in a new space.
With that, he quickly lost himself to his work. Moving boxes was relatively simple after his intensive training just to catch up, and he found the work to be relaxing. So much so that his stuff was already in place after just two hours. He’d expected it to take three.
He hadn’t brought much with him. His clothes, new scarf cloth, and mask were among his belongings, but he also had brought his radio in order to listen to hero news reports while doing homework.
And if he’d also brought a comic or two… well, no one was going to go sniffing around his room for it, now were they?
Before the sharp skidding sound even reached his ears, Shinso was already facing his new dorm entrance to ward off any attack. Thankfully, it was only Mineta, having been flung into his hallway through the open window.
Note to self: do not leave windows open.
The small boy groaned, and Shinso let himself relax. Languidly, he walked to his door, allowing enough time for the small boy to get up if he wanted to. He did not.
“You know, I don’t think I need to do anything here.” Shinso reached his door and simply leaned against the doorjamb. Why he was talking to the boy, he had no idea. Maybe because he’d been feeling so chill before. Maybe because he was done an hour ahead of schedule and had some time to kill. Maybe because he was only just a little interested in what the boy had done to deserve getting chucked into an open window. And through a closed one, if the sound of crashing glass was to be believed. “That sounded like it hurt enough.”
“I—” Mineta stopped talking to flip himself over. Shinso noticed that his nose was bloody. He also noticed the faraway look in the small boy’s eyes. “I think I saw some of her underwear…”
Shinso’s eyebrow twitched, the last vestiges of his good mood gone. Mentally, he flipped a switch. “That’s gross.”
Immediately, the small boy’s eyes cleared of all their perverted glint. He was completely enthralled, subject to Shinso’s whim and desire.
The boy smirked, but the amusement was short-lived. Now that he had the little pervert brainwashed, what came next?
“—swear, every time! I just—!”
Shinso looked up to see the open window and beyond. He was right in thinking that Mineta had crashed through a closed window to go through his. On the other side, the girl with pink skin was visibly fuming and ranting to whoever was on her floor. After a moment, the girl released her breath, nodded, and turned to go back into her room.
An idea formed in the back of his mind.
But he wasn’t here to make friends.
Well, technically this wasn’t making friends. This was testing his quirk. And that could be called training. And he wasn’t going to be making friends.
Satisfied, he turned to Mineta.
“Follow me. And don’t bump into anything.”
Easily, the small boy obeyed. He followed Shinso down the hall. He followed Shinso into the elevator. He followed Shinso across the empty common room. He followed Shinso into the other elevator. He followed Shinso up to the fourth floor. He followed Shinso to the end of the hall.
It wasn’t as long as the calvary battle, but it was good to make note of. The small boy was also able to obey two commands at once. Twice, he had avoided bumping into a table on his own. Shinso filed that away for future reference.
He knocked on the door.
“Go away, Mineta!” called the voice from inside. “You can’t do my laundry!”
Ew. “Not Mineta.”
Shinso only waited a moment before the door before him was opened. What little he could see of the room was covered in loud zebra stripes and colors just as vibrant. The girl who answered it definitely seemed the type to have such madness as her space, though.
“Oh, Shinso!” The girl scanned the hallway and her nose visibly wrinkled when she saw Mineta standing beside him. She eyed him warily for a moment before realizing that he wasn’t moving. Her eyes turned towards him with guarded curiosity. “What’s up?”
“The small boy has something he wants to tell you.”
Her expression flattened. Her hair might have as well. Not that he noticed. “You can tell him I’m not interested.”
“He’s going to apologize to you.”
She couldn’t keep changing expressions like this. It would be tiring to keep up with. She looked at Mineta and then at Shinso and then back at Mineta and then back at Shinso again. A hesitant smile was on her face. “Are…are you serious?”
Rather than answer her in words, he turned to the enthralled boy. “Mineta, bow and tell…?”
He still didn’t have her name. He looked at her, and it took her a moment to fill in the blanks.
“Ashido Mina,” she introduced with a smile. He nodded and turned back to Mineta.
“Bow and tell Ashido that you’re sorry for how you treated her.”
Immediately, the boy bowed ninety degrees at the waist. With his head low, he said in a clear voice, “I’m sorry for how I’ve treated you.”
Shinso smirked, side eyeing Ashido. It was clear that she’d never expected those words from the boy. Time to amp it up a notch. “Tell her that you’ve been awful.”
“I’ve been awful.” Still can’t get sub ideas through… hmmm…
“Tell her that she has your express permission to drop kick you out the window if you try whatever it is that you tried again.”
“You have my express permission to drop kick me out the window if I try whatever it is that I tried again.” And I still can’t get them to admit things from their memory.
“I can try telling him to say he’ll never try it again, but I don’t think my Quirk will let me plant suggestions for actions like that,” said Shinso with a shrug in Ashido’s direction. “Anything else you want me to try to get him to do while I’m here? I’m Quirk testing.”
Upon a glance her way, he noticed a giant grin on her face and her phone in-hand. She held it up with an excited and questioning grin.
“Well, to start, think you can get him to say all that again?”
Shinso nodded and they both turned to the still-bowing Mineta.
Walking past her desk is tough. She isn’t even here yet, but it is.
He shouldn’t care. They’re not friends.
He walks past all of them to get to his new seat. It’s his, but it’s not at the same time. The instant he sits there… the instant he does, it will be. It will be his place in the hero course. It’s what he fought so hard for.
He’ll take his seat. He’ll take it in a moment. When the bell rings.
Midoriya was a good person to talk to about developing a training routine. He said some weird things, of course, but Shinso couldn’t argue with the results he’d gotten. So he’d look into this American Dream Plan thing and see if it could help him get stronger, too.
The guy was such a fanboy of All Might that he wasn’t sure if it was funny or sad anymore.
Shinso looked at the small boy make a crash landing not five feet from where the two of them stood. While Midoriya sighed, he looked for the source of the small boy’s flight. He saw it in the form of the earjack hero walking away. What had the boy done now?
“You really need to stop bothering them, Mineta-san,” said Midoriya, bringing Shinso’s attention back to the situation in front of him. What he saw surprised him a little. Despite his helpful nature, he made no move to help the small boy remove himself from the ground. “We’re all training to be Pro-Heroes. Pro-Heroes don’t treat other Pro-Heroes this way.”
“But Midoriya!” When Mineta lifted his head, Shinso saw more blood leaking from his nose. Was that from earlier or did he get a broken nose just now…? “They keep replaying that video!”
“The one of you apologizing like a decent human being?”
Shinso blinked. Why did the small boy sound upset about that? Wouldn’t he be happy that girls were even looking at him? That was the feeling he got from this small boy. He glanced at Midoriya. He looked just as lost as he felt.
“Is that a bad thing?”
“Yes!” howled Mineta. “I’d never apologize for admiring true beauty! Never, never, never!”
…was he serious?
“You can admire a pretty girl without treating her like an object,” said Midoriya. Shinso wondered if this rational tactic would work or if it was one of those hopeless things that Midoriya did. A hopeless effort, but an effort nonetheless. “Every female in our class is strong in their own way. Maybe if you got to know them past their appearances—”
“But Midoriya!” exclaimed Mineta, urgency in his voice. “The girls in our class are hot!”
A hopeless effort, then. He knew Midoriya could feel it, too, when he face palmed. As Mineta continued to subject his unwilling listeners to the precise “beauty” of each and every female in their class, Shinso wondered how long he was going to have to live with this.
Who—? Oh. Midoriya. He looks almost as tired as Kaminari. There are bags under his eyes. He looks like he just wants to sleep.
But no. That wouldn’t be Midoriya. Hopeless Midoriya. Despite everything… despite what happened, he’s smiling. Wearily, he’s smiling. He can’t tell who it’s for, though.
“Go ahead and take your seat.” Midoriya’s voice is comforting. Serene. All the emotions he’s probably not feeling right now. He wouldn’t blame him if that’s the case.
“Aizawa-sensei will be here soon. He might want to talk about… well, we should probably be ready.”
He doesn’t scoff like he wants to. He nods. But the concept feels so foreign. Alien. Wrong.
Because they hadn’t been ready.
Not for that.
He’d been there one day and he was already getting roped into things. He only knew a few people’s names and he had no idea how this class worked, but they’d all convinced him to come out with them. They said there’d be training, so he went along with it.
He guessed his decision to not really talk until they got there is what landed him with Kaminari and Mineta. He knew their names. He also knew that at least one of them had a bone to pick with him.
“Ne, ne, can’t you make them delete it? Ne!”
A very annoying bone to pick, it seemed.
“Come on, man,” said Kaminari, trying again to keep the peace. If not his brain, Shinso could admire his determination. “Just let them have it.”
“No!” declared Mineta. “It’s not real and they keep throwing it in my face whenever I get anywhere close to them! It’s not fair and I want it deleted!”
“You know, any normal person would have apologized by now anyways,” said Shinso before Denki could even try to tell him to lay off again. The first ten times hadn’t worked, and it was time for a new approach. “In the one day I’ve been here, I’ve seen you invade their space and privacy, be vocal about your lewd thoughts about them, and refuse to respect them as competitors and equals. As far as I’m concerned, even if you didn’t mean it, they’ve more than earned that apology out of you after putting up with it for a whole year.”
“And as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t exist!” The small boy put both of his hands over his face in aggravation. “I’m suffering, dammit!”
“Tough,” said Shinso. “Learn to live with it.”
And that was the last Shinso said to him. Mineta tried to appeal to him again and again, to get him to say he would brainwash at least one of the girls into deleting the video, but he refused to engage. The ladies would keep their video of Mineta’s apology, and Shinso wouldn’t lift a finger to change that fact. Fuming, he turned to Kaminari for help.
But Kaminari had his stance. It was diplomatic, it was an attempt to be understanding, but it was definitely a stance.
“Look, man, I keep telling you that you take it too far,” said Kaminari. “I’ve talked to the girls. They can be pretty cool, but if you keep making them uncomfortable, they’re not gonna wanna be around you.”
“No, dude, listen to me.” Kaminari’s face became serious and Shinso was mildly impressed that the boy could be capable of it. Mineta was more expressive about his shock. “I like hanging out with you. And yeah, they’re hot. But this has got to stop. They’re like us. They’re gonna become Pro-Heroes and kick villain ass. They’ll have a hard time doing that if they have to keep taking breaks to kick your ass.”
Mineta looked horrified.
Good, thought Shinso. Maybe he’ll actually listen to Kaminari.
“I can’t believe you!”
With…whatever that was…Mineta turned and ran away from the two of them, Kaminari looked like he was about to follow when they were interrupted.
“I see that Mineta-san has decided to begin his training!” exclaimed Iida. “Excellent! We should all begin with the Quirk recommendations as given to us by our senseis! Shinso-san, I have specialized instructions for you from Aizawa-sensei for today!”
With that, Shinso’s attention was arrested and he paid attention to what it was that Iida was telling him.
They spent several hours doing just that. Quirk training. It was intense, much like his sessions with Aizawa-sensei. It was also a bit roundabout, not like his training with Aizawa-sensei. The teacher had him training with his capture scarf, but the catch was that he had to be talking the entire time. Aizawa-sensei’s instructions said that it was because his Quirk was voice-based.
Iida had translated that as ‘make sure Uraraka doesn’t float away while talking to her.’
At first, he couldn’t see what was so challenging about catching Uraraka with his scarf. He could certainly talk to her, but catching her? It didn’t become clear until he was actually training with her he realized something: she was working on air combat.
“Yeah,” she said, applying her quirk to herself once again. “I’m not really useful just floating in the air, but if I can add aerial combat to my list of stuff I can do, then that increases my usefulness.”
“I see,” said Shinso. He would have preferred to work in the quiet, but he had to talk. He just didn’t know what to talk about. He shot his capture weapon at her, but she rolled to avoid it. “Did you have anyone to help you with this before?”
“Tsu-chan did. It helped with her tongue strength and maneuverability, but now she needs to work on lifting heavier things.”
“What are you going to do when I have to work on lifting heavier things?”
Uraraka grimaced, but he was sure she was trying to smile. What kind of toll did her Quirk take on her body? Did it get worse the higher she went? He wasn’t terribly interested, just curious.
“Deku-kun said that your focus with your capture scarf is probably going to be sensitivity and maneuverability since you can’t actually increase the strength of the cloth,” said the gravity hero. Shinso lifted an eyebrow. They talked about him? “So you’re probably going to be helping me out for a while. After that, though, I should be working on something else. Using just my Quirk to stop from dying when I fall or something like that.”
“Right, you can’t stop inertia.”
“You catch on quick!”
Shinso shrugged, throwing his capture weapon again. If he could just—! Missed. He frowned. “I have to work harder than you guys to keep up. I’m not going to let myself be slow.”
“That’s fair,” she said. “We all have things we’re giving up so we can give it our all.”
That sounded like there was something she wasn’t saying, but that was her business. Not his. He was already caught up in this whole Mineta thing. He sighed.
“Well, that’s what we’ve chosen,” he said. “Only the best become Pro-Heroes, and you can’t become the best without making a few sacrifices along the way.”
“See? Someone gets it!” Was Uraraka always this cheery? Didn’t matter. Shinso threw out his capture weapon and jerked his wrist. Hard. She let out a squawk as the fabric caught her leg. “No fair!”
“Just trying to get ahead,” said Shinso. He didn’t like that look in her eye—CRAP!
Just like that, Uraraka was falling, his capture weapon was going too slack too quickly, and he didn’t have a way to catch her. She couldn’t catch herself—she’d just said so!—so he did the one thing he could.
He wasn’t fast enough.
But Midoriya was.
While he was still thirty feet out, a green blur shot past him and intercepted the girl. In a moment, the both of them were floating, riding on the inertia from Midoriya instead of Uraraka. Shinso watched as they both said something and then started laughing. Laughing.
“That could have ended badly,” said Shinso, pulling on his scarf to bring them back down to Earth. This time, Uraraka released when they were close to the ground. She stood quickly, a hand immediately going to the back of her head.
“Sorry, sorry.” She didn’t look it. She was still laughing. “I thought I’d be able to escape capture by falling for a bit and then turning off the gravity before the inertia go to be too much. Looks like I’ve definitely got my next project.”
“That’s good, Urarka-san,” said Midoriya. Green was still crackling around him. “Will you guys be okay?”
“Yeah,” said Shinso. He wanted to get back to training. “We’ll try not to take any more serious falls like that.”
Midoriya smiled at the both of them.
Shinso wished he could have kept his promise, but no one had seen it coming.
They’d all decided on a remote area for training. None of them had thought of why nobody was around, simply grateful for the fact that nobody was. They’d all spread out, but remained relatively clustered. They’d also become accustomed to their synthetic environments being able to handle everything that they threw at it.
So no one expected the ground to tremble. No one expected the earth to crack. No one expected to be falling so suddenly.
Shinso was aware of the screaming. Some students could get airborne. Uraraka, Bakugo from the Sports Festival, and the guy with extra limbs were able to suspend themselves in midair for a time. Midoriya kept trying to use his legs to get people to safety, but everyone was falling too quickly.
He was falling too quickly.
He tried to use his capture weapon to hold onto something. Anything. Tape guy was trying it, too. They had the same problem. They couldn’t see. They couldn’t—
Shinso’s head slammed against the cliffside, but his side landed on something sticky. Gravity tried to pull him down, but he was well and truly stuck. Was it a trap? Did some villains find them?
Shinso turned to see the creation hero next to him. She couldn’t move either. Her grey eyes were analyzing something. When she saw him, she also looked at the weird sticky substance keeping him where he was.
“I see,” said the heroine.
That made one of them.
“Are we under attack?” asked Shinso. The heroine shook her head.
“No, I believe this is just an avalanche caused by our training.” She began to open her costume and Shinso looked away. He could see brightness out of the corner of his eye. “Mineta-san will let us down when he wants to, so we should prepare for that time. Please pass these around.”
Shinso turned to see her handing him a parachute. Eyebrow raised, he accepted it. “Mineta has us stuck to the side of the mountain? I didn’t even see him.”
“Neither did I,” admitted the girl as she made another parachute. Shinso looked around to see who else might be nearby. Iida was upside down a few feet away. Shinso handed him the chute as she continued. “There was too much debris to see much of anything. I believe that he’ll ask for a signal if we’re ready to come down, so it is better to prepare than to wait for his confirmation. Here.”
Shinso nodded, accepting the second chute. He looked up to Iida, who had passed his on to Hagakure. He handed him another chute. He watched as Iida passed the second to Hagakure, who had passed hers onto Koda. He furrowed his brow.
“Seems a bit convenient that we’re all in a distribution line.”
“A lucky coincidence, I’m sure,” said the girl, creating and passing another parachute.
Shinso was able to grab the chute when he felt his grip slipping. Whatever had grabbed onto him was letting go now. His eyes widened.
“We haven’t finished with these yet!” argued the boy. There was no one to argue with as the girl’s eyes took on a steely glint.
“No, but we’re heroes,” said she. “With the debris gone, I’m sure we’ll find our way to safety. Everyone! Hold onto the walls or use your parachute!”
A chorus of “yes ma’am!”s and “Okay!”s sounded just as the balls let go. Shinso slipped the parachute onto his back and used his capture weapon to grab any classmates he could reach. Iida and the girl were the closest, so that was who he grabbed.
“Very good, Shinso!” said Iida. Did he have to chop his arm like that? “Everyone! Grab onto anyone who cannot remain airborne for long!”
“We will do it!”
Shinso watched as a pink tongue and a dark…shadow…thing…raced past him. A few more classmates were plucked out of the air. Tape and a green blur passed him by as more students were saved from dropping now that everyone could see what they were doing.
Shinso watched, a little amazed at how quickly the class could change gears. This was the kind of result he was hoping to see in himself after being in this class. A hero who could train intensively and rescue people. He wanted to be a hero, and everyone in this class already seemed well on their way.
I’m at the starting line.
The thought filled him with determination. He would catch up. He would work hard in this class to do what they already knew how to. It was his promise.
“Everyone! Please gather into one group at the bottom of the canyon!” shouted Iida as they neared the floor. Shinso adjusted his weapon so the two of them could land on their feet. “We need a headcount!”
Within minutes, everyone who had fallen had made their way safely to the bottom. Bakugo, Uraraka, and the guy with arms obviously weren’t among them, but…
“Guys, I think Mineta fell with us,” said Kaminari, his face fallen into a look of worry. He stood among the class. “I’m going to look for him.”
“Do not go on your own!” said Iida. He looked among his classmates, probably hoping to find a volunteer to also look for Mineta. Shinso signed.
“I’ll go with him,” he said. “I need to get more experience in the rescue area anyways.”
“Very good!” stated Iida, his hand doing that chopping thing again. That was just something he’d have to get used to, wasn’t it? “Your dedication to training is impressive! The rest of us will remain here while we await the teachers!”
“Who ran for them?”
“Uraraka-san and Kacchan went to get them. Shoji-kun stayed so they…”
Shinso and Kaminari looked at each other and nodded. It was time to find a small boy. And thank him for saving their lives, even if he did release too early. Seriously, what was that about?
“I’m a little worried,” said Kaminari. Shinso raised an eyebrow. That much was obvious. “I mean, usually we can hear Mineta from a mile away and he’s pretty good about finding the largest group of people and sticking to them. It’s not like him to be quiet for so long during a disaster like this.”
“So he’s loud and likes to run away?” asked Shinso. He wasn’t surprised.
“He says he wants to be a Pro-Hero to be popular, but I don’t think it’s gonna happen that way.” Kaminari’s confession seemed a bit serious for what Shinso was expecting out of him. He turned to the boy. He was frowning. “I mean, Pro-Hero work is hard. You have to have a goal that’s at least a little realistic for the job you want. If you become a teacher, it’s because you want students to learn. If you become a cook, it’s because you want to make good food. If you’re a hero, some part of you has to seriously want to save people. I know Mineta has that part in him—he just proved it!—but if he can’t respect the people he’s going to save, they’re not going to want to be saved by him. He’ll be known as the perverted hero and he won’t achieve his main dream. You know what I’m saying?”
Shinso did. He also wondered if he had a sign on his forehead that said ‘please share your hero philosophy with me today!’
Not that he cared.
He wasn’t here to make friends.
“Let’s just find him and get him back to the group,” said Shinso. “We’ve still got training to do.”
Kaminari shrugged, seemingly not put off by Shinso dodging his question. Or maybe he knew that he understood? People people were weird.
Shinso turned and looked around. “Mineta! You can come out now!”
He heard Kaminari turn around quickly. Shinso shrugged at the accusatory glare. “He’s a boy, he’s small, and he’ll take offense to it. Offended people are more likely to respond.”
“Good point. Mineta!”
“Mi—hey! I think I see him!”
Shinso turned to find Kaminari running. He chased after the other, the both of them crossing the distance quickly. Kaminari dropped and Shinso assumed it was to help an injured Mineta, only to realize that the other wasn’t moving. He wasn’t shifting debris; he wasn’t stopping bleeding. He wasn’t shifting anything around. He was just looking.
Shinso blinked. And blinked. But the sight before him stayed the same.
Mineta was on the ground. One of his arms was twisted in a way that he’d really only seen on Midoriya. Both of his legs were flopped uselessly on the floor and his entire torso was contorted. It was obvious some of the rocks had hit his head due to the blood flow, but what really hit home what had happened was the way his head had twisted at such an odd angle. Shinso looked up. Yeah. That was the rock that had done it.
Snapped the small boy’s neck.
And right now, in death, the boy looked smaller than he ever had been before.
Aizawa-sensei looks tired. He always does, though. When they’re training, he looks tired. When he’s doing paperwork and Shinsou’s doing homework, he looks tired. When he walks, he looks tired.
So no. Aizawa-sensei doesn’t just look tired. He looks exhausted.
Shinso’s in…his…seat now. He can see over Midoriya’s head. He can see exactly how tired Aizawa-sensei looks. And Aizawa-sensei isn’t pulling any punches with his appearance.
Shinso wonders if the lack of ‘good’ is intentional, even as he returns the greeting with the rest of his class.
“Death.” Midoriya was right. Aizawa-sensei’s going to talk about it. From the looks of it, he isn’t going to beat around the bush either. “This will be a common part of a Pro-Hero’s life. When you’re on the field, you are going to lose people. Civilians and other Pro-Heroes alike. Some of you have already experienced this.”
Shinso isn’t counting how many students are wincing at that.
“It’s never easy, but it’s part of the job. It’s part of the lifestyle you’ve chosen for yourselves. Now is the time to accept that fact. If you can’t, the door is open to you.” Shinso’s eyes snap to Aizawa-sensei. Surely he can’t mean it. But he does. One look at those exhausted eyes tells him that he does. “There’s no shame in choosing a job that is safer.”
A job that is safer?
He can’t be serious. After coming this far? After arriving at the starting line?
Mineta’s broken body flashes across his mind’s eye. He’d been bloodied and bruised before, but not broken. Not like that. To be honest, the mental image was more than a little jarring.
“I can’t speak for everyone here…” He really can’t. “But I can’t let myself stop in my tracks now. Pro-Heroes spend their lives at risk for the safety of others. It’s what we’re all training to do. What we’re sacrificing parts of ourselves for. We’re all learning how to be safe while risking our own safety for people who can’t do something to protect themselves.”
Tape guy and Iida intervening on Shinso’s first day. Ashido and the earphone girl throwing Mineta out of the way themselves. Midoriya hurrying as quickly as he could to catch Uraraka. All of them have goals to save someone else. All of them want to become Pro-Heroes.
It’s what they’re training for. It’s what they’re going to school for. For him, it’s the one thing he’s scrambled and clawed for and trained so hard to reach just to get started. He’s finally made his way to the starting line, eyes wide open and accepting of the road ahead. And…just as much as he hates to admit it…
“That’s what Mineta was training for, too.”
He can hear the murmurs in the classroom. He knows that a lot of people don’t like Mineta even now. Hell, he doesn’t like Mineta. But he can’t argue against the fact that his last action was to save them. “He saved us because that’s what he was trained to do. That’s what any Pro-Hero on the field would do for one another. It’s what we are gonna end up doing for one another someday.”
Maybe he won’t make friends, but he will make coworkers. And they are going to work with one another on the field. In that way…perhaps he can get to know everyone else.
But for now, he can’t look at Kaminari. He was Mineta’s best friend. He can’t stand to see some sort of sympathetic look—as if he didn’t have enough time to realize exactly how sleazy the small boy was—or some look of gratefulness—as if he’s trying to redeem the small boy post-mortem. He shouldn’t get either.
For now, he can’t look at the girls either. They were his victims. Consistent perversion and irritation have to be huge factors in how they’re feeling right now. But death isn’t something that’s limited to just one person. When someone dies, it tends to remind people of how fragile life really is. Even if they don’t like him, Mineta’s death is a reminder that they can die, too. The people they do like and respect can die. They can die. If someone like Mineta can die, who ran from fights and stirred up too much trouble, then someone who’s willing to put their life on the line every moment of every day doesn’t exactly have the best odds. Their friends can die.
That realization and the relief of not having to worry about someone perving on them anymore—and he wouldn’t blame them if they did feel at least a little relieved—wasn’t something he’d want to personally deal with. He doesn’t envy any of the girls for having that emotional cocktail to work through.
“Everyone interacted with him differently and we all know that he did a lot of things that he wasn’t sorry for, but he did die saving us from the unexpected. He did die giving us a chance to save ourselves. He did die a hero.” He can’t break eye contact with Aizawa-sensei. This is something he needs to get out. Maybe it’s not his place as the new guy; maybe it is. He doesn’t know. But, dammit, he’s going to say it. “If nothing else, I’m going to use that as a goal to surpass. Because I’m going to save people and live while doing it. And when I go out, be it on the field or of old age, I better go out either saving lives or having lived a life so full of saved people that I can’t possibly save any more.
“I’m going to become a Pro-Hero. And I’ll do that by staying in this class. Nothing is going to change my mind.”
Aizawa-sensei’s expression doesn’t change. He stares at Shinso. He won’t back down.
The teacher nods once, then turns to the rest of the class.
“As long as you understand that, then we can begin. Today’s topic is cooperation.”