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Diamond in the Rough

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Shouta first notices the kid one day after he has let Shinsou out of their training for the day. He rushes up to meet Shinsou across the green. Shouta can practically feel the energy coming off the kid from where Shouta is still hidden in the shadows of the gym door as he bounces next to the taller teen, his green, curly hair exaggerating each bounce.

The kid is wearing a U.A. General Education uniform, and the hair color seems familiar enough that Shouta thinks he may have seen him around the campus before, but this is the first time he actually notices the kid. And it is because Shinsou spots him coming towards him and rather than reacting how Shouta is expecting his student to respond, with raised hackles, a sneer designed to push people away, and all the things that remind Shouta of the echoes of his younger self he still carries around inside him. Shinsou instead raises one hand to rub at the back of his neck as he gives a small smile, a light dusting of pink spreading across his cheekbones.

And that is what makes Shouta stop and pay attention. That small smile. The way Shinsou stops to wait for the kid to race up to him, practically stumbling into Shinsou in his excitement even as the taller teen moves to keep him from falling over.

So Shouta keeps watching as the green haired boy starts rambling excitedly to Shinsou, even though he cannot hear the conversation as they walk away. He pays attention to their body language, the way they lean into each other, Shinsou bending down just slightly as the kid gestures wildly with his hands, his sunshine bright smile never dimming as they start walking away together.

Shouta feels a stab of pain as he is reminded of his own friends and what could have been and he turns away from them before they can disappear around a corner. But he starts noticing the kid around after that. He starts paying attention.

He does a bit of asking around when he notices that the kid sometimes hangs around his homeroom class when their heroics exercises run a little long and figures out that his name is Midoriya Izuku and that Shouta’s class is not the only one he hangs out around. He also finds out that the boy had applied for the heroics exam but had failed the practical examination due to the fact that he was quirkless.

It makes him nervous, the more he learns about the small, bright boy. The other heroes brush him off when he probes a bit deeper, questioning why Midoriya always seems to be hanging on the sidelines. They are all mainstream heroes though, so Shouta cannot really blame them for wanting to believe that Midoriya is all that he appears to be on the surface, it is all black and white for them. Kids are always just kids, maybe they need saving, or thy want an autograph or maybe they have an attitude problem. But they are always kids.

Shouta is an underground hero though. He is more comfortable playing in th shades of grey that crop up in the dark alleyways and dim streetlights. He is aware of the fact that no everyone is who they may appear to be at first brush. That sometimes there is no saving a kid who has been seduced to the dark side, no matter how much you wanted to.

He also knows that the villain that ended All Might had multiple quirks, and he heard wipers and rumors that the man could give away what he took as well. And Shouta is not a gullible man, he has seen too many years as a hero to believe in every single boogie man he hears about.

But Midoriya Izuku does not have his experience, and he does not have a quirk and Nedzu brought up the idea that there might be a traitor at U.A.

So Shouta is suspicious.

And he keeps watch.

And he notices.

And then one morning he catches the kid walking out of his homeroom before anyone else has arrived for the school day.

Midoriya, head down, something clutched tightly to his center, runs right into his chest, letting out an eep as he does.

Shouta catches his arms and keeps the kid from overbalancing backwards as he overcorrects backwards, his elbows flaring out in a desperate attempt to keep himself centered. The kid is thinner than he looks, the U.A. uniform concealing his form. But Shouta can almost wrap his entire hand around the kid’s arm and it throws him for a loop he was not expecting even as the kid gapes up at him with wide green eyes.

“Do you have to wear your goggles to make your quirk work or is that just to keep villains from knowing who you’re looking at?” Midoriya asks before Shouta can fully recover from the shock at just how tiny this kid is and it feels like a second rug has been ripped out from under his feet.

“What?”

“And if it is your goggles, does that mean if a camera system was set up in a certain area you could just erase the quirks of villains just by looking at them through the  monitor?”

Shouta wonders if it is possible to receive whiplash from a conversation, “What?”

The kid devolves into rapid fire mumbling and Shouta is so confused because nothing about this interaction is making sense. But he tries to pull it back into comfortable territory as he activates Erasure, his eyes flashing red as his hair flies upwards. He knows the kid does not have a quirk for him to erase, that it will not have the same effect as if the kid had just lost his quirk. But he also knows that Erasure looks intimidating when activated, and he is hoping that will be enough to quiet Midoriya’s rambling.

It does, and Shouta lets his quirk go as he asks, “What were you doing in my classroom?”

The kid lets out another little eep as he goes white as a sheet and Shouta feels his stomach drop because even if he thought Midoriya was suspicious he never wanted to be proven right that the kid was the traitor.

And then Iida comes up and loudly announces his presence and Shouta is distracted long enough that Midoriya slips from his grasp, saying something about how he is going to be late for class as he runs down the hallway even as Iida yells that students should not run in the sacred halls of U.A.

Shouta growls at his rotten luck but figures he can always catch the kid later, he knows his whole schedule by now. He would rather figure out what the kid was doing, and if he took something it is entirely possible he could ditch it or destroy it before Shouta has caught up with him. So he slips into his classroom, intent on seeing what has been disturbed.

There is a single sheet of paper on Uraraka’s desk when he walks in and he quickly makes his way over to it.

The first thing he notices is the list of local stores that sell cheap anti-nausea medications, both over the counter and homeopathic recipes. Each one has a price marked next to it with a little note at the bottom stating that he listed as many as he could find because he was not sure which ones she prefers. The next thing on the sheet of paper are a few suggestions for the girl on how to strengthen her quirk, small exercises she can do waiting for the train or before classes start. He flips the paper over and sees a list of hand to hand combat techniques she could try out to help strengthen her attacks overall and a short little paragraph about how Uraraka is going to make such an amazing hero one day.

It is signed Midori.

Shouta places the paper back on Uraraka’s desk and walks up to the front of his classroom. He feels like the ground he is standing on is unsteady. It reminds him of the few times he has been forced onto a ship for hero work. Nothing else in his classroom has been disturbed, he can tell. It throws him off balance again to realize he made a logical conclusion and then was proven wrong about that conclusion in such a short period of time. 

He recalls the first time he noticed the kid, rushing up to Shinsou, smile bright on his face as he talks excitedly with the other boy. He remembers the soft acceptance Shinsou had shown, like he was still unsure how to respond to the open friendship. And he wonders why he ever thought the kid could be the traitor.

“Uraraka! You got another note!” Iida announces as soon as the girl walks through the door. Shouta startles a little at the noise, his shoulders jolting downwards as he realizes he was so caught up in his own thoughts he had not paid attention to his student’s arrivals.

“Lucky! I want another note from Midori!” Ashido cries out as Uraraka makes her way over to her desk, a smile playing in the corner of her lips.

“What does it say? What does it say?” Hakurge says, her clothes indicating that she throws herself at Uraraka and drapes herself across the other girl’s back.

“Ooh! It looks like it’s a long one!” Kaminari says, trying to catch a peak over Uraraka’s shoulders. Uraraka moves, shaking the two of them off.

“I’m not telling you guys anything! This is gonna help me get a leg up in our next exercise!” She says, laughing as she clutches the paper closer to her chest.

“You got advice this time? That’s so manly!” Kirishima says, pumping his fist in the air.

“Class has started and yet none of you are in your seats,” Shouta says. Most of his class jumps before they scramble to their seats. Only Bakugo, who had already been seated, does not move. Shouta takes note of it, and then compartmentalizes it. He can examine that fact later when he does not have a class to teach.

So Shouta concentrates on his duties as a teacher right up until lunch. He slips away as soon as he can and he sets up in a corner of the lunch room where, hopefully, no one should be able to spot him unless they already knew he was there, while he has a decent view of most of the lunchroom.

He watches as the students file into the room, musing over the conversation his students had conducted earlier. Based on the way they had reacted to the note, this had not been the first time Midoriya had snuck into his homeroom before everyone else showed up. And it was certainly not the first time he had left behind notes, although it seemed this might have been the first time he had left advice behind. He wondered what the other notes had said.

A head of thick green curls catches his eye and Shouta watches as Midoriya weaves through the crowd of students, his slight frame slipping in between the gaps that the shuffling crowd creates with its movement. He sits down at a table with Shinsou and begins talking animatedly as Shinsou shifts to make way for his waving arms.

A few other students from Gen Ed pass by their table and Midoriya stops to say something to each of them, but no one else actually sits down at their table. He watches them throughout lunch, and he is almost convinced his surveillance is going a bit overboard when Midoriya finishes up his lunch, collecting his things. There are several more minutes left in the lunch period, but while Midoriya is not the only one packing up to go, Shinsou does not.

His student says something to Midoriya, and Midoriya responds with an overly bright smile that Shouta can practically feel from where he is watching. And then the kid is off, slipping out of the room as unnoticed as he slipped in, Shouta trailing him from a distance.

Shouta is very careful to not be seen as Midoriya makes his way back to the Class 1-A room. He makes his way in and then out of the room and down the hall all before lunch has finished. Shouta enters his classroom as soon as Midoriya turns a corner and sees that several more of his students have notes on their desks. These ones much smaller than the note he left Uraraka this morning.

He picks up the first note he reaches, one on Ashido’s desk. ‘You’re amazing! You’re going to make an amazing hero!- Mido’

He places it back on her desk and picks up another one, this one from Kaminari’s desk. “Keep pushing forward! You’ve got this!- Mido’

He reads every single note and they are filled with positivity and enthusiasm. Nothing else has been touched, and so Shouta leaves the notes for his students. They deserve nice things.

Shouta spends the rest of his day with a warm, pleasant, fizzy sensation just behind his sternum. He has to hide his face in his capture weapon when he meets up with Hizashi after school ends just to keep the other man from recognizing his expression for what it is.

He keeps an eye out on the kid for the next few weeks and catches him coming out of his homeroom several times, but he is careful to never let the kid see him. He does not want to spook Midoriya

He also makes sure to scan every note he finds, it never hurts to be sure after all. But the pattern continues, Midoriya leaves little bits of encouragement behind in his wake even as a few of his longer notes start showing up as well.

Shouta keeps track of which of his student’s receive the longer notes from Midoriya and recognizes that they tend to perform better. He wonders if this is the career Midoriya wants to pursue, a support analyst.

He wonders if the kid has gotten any training.

Bakugo is the only one of his students who does not receive any notes, nor does he crowd like the other kids do when one of them gets one of the longer notes. Shouta wonders about that too.

Thoughts of Midoriya and his notes start taking up a significant amount of his free time. He refuses to allow himself to falter in his other responsibilities, but the kid is never very far from his musings.

He is trying to think of a way to introduce Midoriya into the afterschool training he does with Shinsou. He does not want to broach the subject too soon, especially if Shinsou is still uncertain about the friendship. He knows the conclusions Shinsou might jump too if he decides to invite Midoriya along before he is comfortable, that Midoriya was using him all along, or that Midoriya is taking over Shouta’s attention. But he also does not want to bring it up too late, and lose the opportunity to help Midoriya after Shinsou has moved up to the Hero Course. He knows that friendships can fall apart after a move like that and he cannot discredit the idea that it might happen in this situation too.

Shouta is so focused on trying to solve the issue, that for a moment he thinks he summoned Midoriya just by thinking about him when he spots the kid in the alley way. But Midoriya is not paying attention to him as he kneels down in the muck, placing a grocery bag down next to him.

Shouta pulls off to the side of the walkway, allowing the flow of traffic to pass him by as he watches, confused as the kid leans over, looking under a green dumpster.

Midoriya shifts his position so that his shoulder is pressed against the ground as well, just keeping his face out of the mess as he reaches underneath the dumpster and pulls out a mewling kitten. He deposits the kitten next to him and reaches back to pull out another one before opening his grocery bag and placing them inside.

Midoriya does not seem to notice the way everyone he passes is faster to move out of his way as Shouta tails him to the closest animal shelter.

Shouta resolves to broach the subject of introducing Midoriya into his training sessions with Shinsou the next time they meet. He will have to be careful with balinging out the pros of having a support analyst familiar with your quirk and how you fight with the option that Shinsou can say no if he feels comfortable, but he is positive he can do it.

He goes into his patrol that night with a certain kind of optimism that he does normally allow himself to feel.

It lasts about three hours.

And then he stumbles across a trigger dealer who does not think they have been given proper compensation by their buyer and has decided to get violent about it and his good mood evaporates.

Shouta jumps into the fray, preventing the dealer from lashing out with what he presumes would have been a quirk-enhanced spit as he activates erasure.

The buyer scampers off as the dealer takes a swing at Shouta and Shouta lets his capture weapon rise around his shoulders. He snags the dealer and yanks him forwards and off balance even as something metallic flashes in the dealer’s hand.

Shouta shifts sideways to avoid the messy attempt at a stab and registers a bruser bearing down on him, some blunt object raised high in his hands.

He knows that he is going to take the hit as soon as he realizes it is coming, he does not have the purchase necessary to maneuver his body out of the way even if  he was not still in the process of dodging a knife. And so he braces for impact.

“No!” A shout rings through the air as a small figure detaches itself from the shadows and flings itself at the bruiser's arm, throwing the attack off course.

Shouta brings his knee up hard into the face of the dealer. He hears something snap, probably his nose, as the dealer goes limp.

The bruiser grabs the small shape, and all Shouta can think about for a moment is that it is too small to be an adult, and throws him against the brick wall of one of the nearby buildings.

The shape connects with the wall and does not get back up.

Shouta feels something hot and heavy and ugly rise up the back of his throat as he lunges for the bruiser. He pulls no punches as he takes the other man down, the rage pooling low in his stomach, burning hotter each time the bruiser manages to get back up.

Finally the man goes down and stays down and Shouta rushes over to where the kid landed in a heap.

Shouta does not recognize Midoriya until he is gently tuning the kid over so he can reach a pulse point.

His stomach drops out at the bottom as he jabs his fingers into the side of the kid’s neck. There are a few tense moments where Shouta does not know if he can feel Midoriya’s heartbeat or if it’s the pounding of his own heart in his fingertips. But then the kid’s chest moves and Shouta lets out a breath as some of the tension leaves his body.

He starts checking Midoriya over for injuries and the kid’s eyes crack open.

“Hnning?” Midoriya groans, shifting on the ground.

“Don’t move, I don’t know how badly you’re hurt,” Shouta says, placing a hand on the kid’s shoulder in an attempt to keep him still.

“‘M not hur’,” Midoriya slurs even as he struggles into a sitting position.

“Clearly not,” Shouta says, sarcasm dripping from his every word.

“Is’nt the wr’st, pr’ms,” Midoriya says.

Shouta pinches the bridge of his nose as he gives up on trying to keep Midoriya down, “Believe it or not that does not make me feel better.”

“‘M s’rry,”

“Why are you even out right now Midoriya?”

If Midoriya is startled by the fact that Shouta knows his name, he does not show it as he gestures to the side of the building, “Needed a n’w book, thou’ht I cou’ld be f’st”

“And why did you jump into an active villain fight. Problem Child?”

Midoriya looks up at Shouta then and his wide, green eyes hold nothing but sincerity when he says, “You loo’ed lie you needed hel’”

Shouta takes a deep breath and then informs Midoriya that he is taking him to the nearest clinic to be treated for a concussion. The Problem Child tries to protest against it, claiming that his mother would ground him for life if she found out that he had run into another villain fight. 

Shouta tuckes that little tidbit of information away for later as he scoops the kid up in his arms. Midoriya grains with the movement and buries his head where Shouta’s shoulder meets his neck. He does not try to protest the concision diagnosis after that.

Once they are at the clinic, Midoriay gives him access to his phone and Shouta meets Inko Midoriya less than an hour later as she rushes into the waiting room with tears in her eyes and a spine stiffer than steel.

They exchange numbers once she is positive that Midoriya only has a concussion and she has confirmed that Midoriya truly does have a habit of running into villain fights because someone looked like they might be in trouble, the Problem Child claims that his feet move before his brain has a chance to think.

Two days later he approaches Shinsou about Midoriya joining in on their training. His student gives his enthusiastic consent and three weeks later Midoriya is in his gym clothes after school.

“Are you sure this is okay Shinsou? I know how much it meant to you when Eraserhead offered to train you after the sports festival and I really don’t want to intrude on that because you felt obligated. So if you don’t feel comfortable with me being here or even if you would rather you keep these sessions private just tell me and I’ll be gone, I really don’t mind-” Shinsou’s hand covering Midoriya’s mouth is the only thing that stops his nervous rambling. Shouta is observing from the shadows, positive that neither of them are aware he is in the room yet.

“I wouldn’t have agreed to it in the first place if I minded Midoriya, you’re fine. And it will be nice to know that when you run at a villain you’ll actually know what you’re doing,” Shinsou drawls. Midoriya ducks his head, a blush coloring his cheeks as Shinsou drops his hand.

“I still can’t believe he offered to train me,” The words are almost too quiet for Shouta to hear.

“Yeah, well he saw you had no self preservation instincts and knew he had to get you some.” Midoriya sputters, his face going even more red as Shinsou’s smile spreads across his face.

Shouta shifts forwards, and alerts his students to his presence, “Alright, let’s see what you can do.”