Shinsou didn't show up to class that day.
Shouta had spent an hour glancing at that empty seat, wondering why Shinsou was missing. It was unlike him to miss school after all. He'd worked so hard to get into the hero course.
Maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on him, Shouta thought to himself. He hasn't been bringing his best recently, but…
Maybe he was sick. That would make sense. Maybe he was ill. He shouldn't have berated him for merely being ill. Maybe for hiding it and pushing himself too hard…
Shinsou did work himself hard. Maybe too hard. That was why it was so strange that he suddenly seemed to stop. It was so different than the kid who first started training with him.
Maybe he was sick. He'd seemed sick. Those bags under his eyes. His pale skin. The shakes. Like he wasn't sleeping. Maybe not eating.
"You've got to take better care of yourself." Shouta had told him. "You can't be a hero if you're not in good physical condition. If you're not taking this seriously…"
Shinsou didn't seem like he was listening. It was so frustrating. So Shouta kept right on talking.
Maybe he should have just told him to get some sleep. Maybe he should have taken his own advice.
Well...maybe Shinsou was sleeping in. Good. That'd be good. He could continue his lecture on neglecting self care later.
As the bell rang and the kids filed out from the classroom excitedly, Shouta's eyes didn't leave the unoccupied chair. His top teeth dug into his bottom lip.
Kids missed class. They did. It happened.
Shouta thought about all the times the kid had stumbled in late and disheveled. The times he'd nearly fallen asleep in the middle of a lesson.
Lunch hour came and passed. Shinsou never turned up.
Shouta checked with other teachers. None had seen him either.
Midoriya had even dropped by, worriedly mentioning his continued absence.
Shinsou could miss a day. That's what Shouta told himself.
But he didn't believe it.
Then the end of the school day rolled around. Their training hour began.
No Shinsou, running late, overslept. No notification, clarifying he was sick.
Shouta waited 10 minutes. He didn't wait a second past.
He turned towards the dorms and broke into a run.
You're a useless, negligent piece of shit, Shouta.
You're a fucking idiot, Shouta.
"Shinsou?" Shouta hit the door like he was taking a swing at his own reflection. " Shinsou! Are you in there, Shinsou?!"
The panic had long since set in. It had been settling all fucking day. Steeping. Now it was boiling over.
He slammed his fist into the wood again. "Are you there, Shinsou? Are you alright? Did something happen?! Shinsou!"
Shouta stepped back and kicked the door in.
He shoved aside the useless plank of wood swinging wildly on its hinge.
The smell hit him first.
He knew that scent.
He knew it all too well.
He had to be wrong. Please let him be wrong.
Shouta lunged into that darkened room, fumbling for a light switch. It was unkempt, trash overflowing, clothes on the floor. The bed wasn't made, but it still looked untouched. Like no one had been sleeping in it for a little while.
The smell got worse.
Please let me be wrong...please…
He didn't know who he was begging at.
"Shinsou?" He called. "Shinsou! Where are you?"
Shouta coughed into his sleeve. He felt dizzy. Probably the smell. The adrenaline. Breathe, Shouta...
The air felt wet and heavy in his lungs.
He wanted to hesitate but he didn't know how.
Shouta stumbled to the bathroom door. It was open. There was a soft light behind it.
He shoved it in, and gagged. He'd inhaled a mouth full of death.
His head felt light. It was like he was only half there. Shouta forced himself to look.
And there he was. Floating in the tub. Head lolled to one side.
There was so much blood.
" Shinsou!" Was that his voice? All fractured like that? It didn't sound like it.
Shouta didn't remember crossing the room. He was just suddenly at Shinsou's side, his knees on the cold tile. Trying to rouse him.
"No no nonono...Shinsou, Shinsou…"
He knew, of course. His skin looked wrong. There was too much blood.
The smell of a corpse hung in the air.
"...Hitoshi?" He whispered, and it sounded all wrong.
Shouta pressed his fingers against his neck, searching for a pulse. He didn't know why.
That cold, wet, bloated skin was the worst sensation he'd ever felt. He wanted to vomit. He nearly did.
But that would require some part of his body to work that just fucking wasn't.
Instead Shouta coughed and coughed and felt dizzy, dizzy, dizzy. He thought he might faint.
Maybe he did. His eyes fluttered open and he didn't feel like he knew who he was anymore, or where he was. All he saw was slick, wet indigo hair, and all he knew was his kid was dead, dead, dead…
Shouta felt his cheeks getting wet. Was he crying? He couldn't tell wet air from wet skin from tears from bloody bath water. He felt his eyes sting and ache.
He weaved his fingers through Shinsou's hair. Pulled him to his chest. His body shuddered. Sick? Coughing? Sobs? Maybe all at once.
" Hitoshi…" he choked on his own soft, fragmenting words. His chest heaved.
Shouta let out a broken wail.