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I Exist, in You

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Midoriya Izuku, ever since he could remember-- always wanted to become a hero.

"Momma! Momma!" Izuku tugged at a young woman's skirt, trying to pull her away from the stove. "Computer! Computer!"

Midoriya Inko looked at her son with fond eyes, and smiled. Turning off the stove, she bent down to grab her son's hand, and let him guide her to his bedroom. "Oh, Izuku," she mused, "thousands of those views on that video must be from you alone by now."

The little boy paid her words no attention as he climbed into his seat and began to rock back and forth in excitement, clutching his figurine of a grinning, muscular hero with blonde hair and a bright red costume.

"It's too scary for me," she said, laughing a bit, under her breath. Inko clicked open the browser, and played the well-loved video, which had already been bookmarked long ago. She moved away quietly.

Izuku's eyes widened, as he took in the sight of his idol on the computer screen-- the famous All Might, symbol of peace. His trademark blonde hair, bulging muscles, deep voice, and blinding white smile immediately ignited a surge of excitement deep down in Izuku. The little boy clenched his fists tightly and watched as the mountain of a man emerged from the fiery train-wreck, rescuing hundreds of people in mere minutes.

"It's all right now," All Might's voice boomed out. "Why? Because I am here!"

Inko watched in the doorway, unable to contain the affection for her child. She smiled, holding onto her own hand, as she listened to Izuku mimic his hero's laugh, while waving his action figure around excitedly.

'Oh, Hisashi,' she mused, closing her eyes, 'if only you could see our baby boy right now.'

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The incident happened soon after Izuku turned nine.

His birthday party had been fairly small, considering Izuku didn't interact with many kids his age. On the account of her son being quirkless and more interested in books and comics and heroes like All Might instead of playing outside like the other kids, Izuku had a bit of trouble socializing. Inko invited some of the neighborhood boys who her son used to play with occasionally, and she cooked dinner, rented a nice movie, then presented a cake she baked. She had expected the boys to be more rambunctious, but they had played rather innocently during the party.

She had noticed that Bakugou Katsuki, her close friend's son, seemed to lead Izuku and the other boys around, but she didn't see anything wrong with it. They mostly pretended they were heroes as they ran around the backyard, and then watched the movie with their snacks. She had heard that Katsuki had behavioral issues offhandedly from Hiromi, Katsuki's mother, but she didn't observe any during the party.

While the boys were eating cake, she had excused herself quickly to the bathroom. When she came back, she found out just how wrong she was.

"Deku!" Katsuki had roared, his palms lighting up with small bursts of energy, "what makes you think you can be a hero?"

Izuku was sitting on the ground, holding a pillow up in front of his face. The cake was forgotten at the table. Izuku visibly flinched as Katsuki took another step forward, his lip quivering as he cowered in fear. "Kacchan, I," he started, only to yelp when a small explosion suddenly burst in front of his body.

"You what?" Katsuki snarls, red eyes vicious. "Don't forget you're quirkless! You can't become a hero!"

Inko had immediately ran in front of her son and grabbed Katsuki's hand before he could do anything else. The other boys, who similarly were about to use their quirks, stopped themselves. Getting over her shock, she called each of their parents with trembling fingers. After they had been picked up and she had talked to their parents, she cuddled Izuku close, trying to fight back tears of shame.

How could she have not noticed? Izuku mentioned that Katsuki had a 'special' nickname for him, and was known to rough-house, but.. She didn't know just how much Izuku was picked on for not having a quirk.

At first, they had both been hopeful, thinking that Izuku was just a late-bloomer. He was five when they went in for a checkup at the doctor's. The old man had told them that if Izuku's quirk hadn't manifested yet, they should try not to get their hopes up. He X-rayed Inko's son and didn't find the vestigial joint in his foot, but that didn't necessarily mean Izuku possessed a quirk.

The little boy had taken it hard, sobbing in front of All Might's video, as she hugged him close.

"Momma, can't I be a hero too?"

Inko sobbed, hearing just how broken her child sounded, his dream ripped away from him all too soon. Apologies were the only thing she had the courage to whisper, her heart clenched in sorrow.

Weeks after, Izuku had been inconsolable, no matter what Inko tried to do. It was only when she took him to her husband's grave did Izuku begin to bounce back from his despair.

"Hisashi, your father," Inko started, looking down at the clean tombstone, "he was a hero, you know that. He didn't have super strength or the ability to fly. His quirk let him heal people."

"Like Recovery Girl," Izuku had sniffed, one hand held tight around All Might's figurine, the other crushing the stems of blue cornflowers and soft hydrangeas.

"Yes, like Recovery Girl," Inko confirmed. "He worked at a hospital and he saved the lives of many people who were hurt. He didn't do it wearing a flashy costume or a cape, Izuku. In fact, even if he didn't have a quirk, he would've still been a doctor, trying to help people, I'm sure of it. If he were here, he wouldn't care if you didn't have a quirk. He would tell you, 'you can still be a hero.'"

Thoughtfully, the little boy stared up at his mother with big green eyes. She stared back at him with her own watery ones.

After a moment, he looked back down at the tombstone, and then carefully put the flowers down around the carved granite, making sure to arrange them well as to not cover 'Hisashi Midoriya.'

Since that moment, it had never seemed to bother Izuku that he didn't have a quirk. He rebounded back to watching videos of All Might and other popular heroes, and continued to pursue his dreams of becoming a pro hero as well. Inko had forgotten the whole thing was an issue, until her son's ninth birthday party, and she was ashamed that she had. She also could not bear with the guilt of never noticing the scrapes and bruises decorating Izuku's face, arms, and legs-- all caused by Kacchan's 'accidents.'

Inko noticed that after the party, Izuku seemed equally ashamed, as if he felt embarrassed that Inko found out about the bullying. It was then that she decided it was time for Izuku to pay his father another visit.

It was in the moments returning home from visiting the cemetery that their lives changed forever.

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Rain buffeted the car's body, as Inko turned on the windshield wipers to improve the visibility. It was late-- about ten PM or so, and Izuku was sleeping in the backseat, tuckered out after an exhausting day in the countryside, where Hisashi's grave was located.

They had spent the evening cleaning up the grass and flowers around the tombstone together, and then scrubbing it clean with soapy water. Once they had finished, they went out for a later dinner together and then returned to add flowers to the grave, before bidding their temporary goodbyes and then beginning their commute back home. Izuku was exhausted, understandably, and Inko drove in silence. It had started raining heavily as they hit the halfway point of their course.

During dinner, Inko had showed Izuku countless newspaper articles and clippings that mentioned Hisashi's heroic deeds performed in the background of great disasters-- providing emergency aid to victims of an earthquake, treating heroes who had been attacked while on duty, administering aid to sickly children, and more. She made sure to mention how Hisashi, even without an aggressive or flashy quirk, managed to help hundreds of people over the span of his career.

'How did papa die?' Izuku had asked, after a minute of silence.

Inko froze. She had swallowed harshly, hands shaking, and breathed out a painful sigh she wasn't even aware she had been holding in. "Well," she started, mouth dry, "your father's quirk let him heal people and make them feel better, but the pain had to go somewhere. He was the one who received it once the patients gave it away."

Izuku looked as if he still didn't quite follow.

"One day, he was at work, when a very strong hero was injured gravelly in a dangerous fight. Hisashi was determined to save the man's life. He overexerted himself and took too much of the man's pain, and it was just too much for him. The other doctors tried to save both of them, but it was too late for Hisashi."

Inko squeezed the fabric of her skirt tightly, trying not to let emotions consume her. She looked at her son, whose large eyes began to glisten with unshed tears.

"Did the hero survive, momma?" The boy's voice asked, wavering painfully.

Inko couldn't bring herself to speak, in that moment. She could only nod, eyes trained on the All Might figurine that Izuku held close to his chest, as tears dripped down her cheeks.

Even at that present moment, as Inko clenched the steering wheel, she found it hard to focus on the road. The pounding rain roared in her ears, the droplets running down the windows reminiscent of her son's tears. She turned on her indicator before she switched lanes-- her exit was on the right. As she began to turn the wheel, she let off the brakes-- and that was when everything seemed to collapse in on itself.

In that moment, Inko felt as if she wasn't present in her own body.

The wheels of the car were gliding straight over the water, not even touching the road, as the wheels began to slowly shift to the right. Sweat suddenly dripping down her face, Inko pressed onto the brakes hard, mortified, as nothing happened. The rain kept beating against the vehicle, as the car began to swerve over into the next lane, the tires beginning to spin.

Moment by moment, Inko felt herself lose control.

Desperately the woman pumped the brakes as the car began to mindlessly swerve across the highway, sliding forward over the pouring rainwater. She could hear Izuku's breathing become labored as the boy struggled to wake up, confused at being jostled. Inko's green eyes widened in unadulterated terror as the car twisted and turned straight for the guardrail. Darkness awaited straight below.

At this position, the back of the car would crash first.

With the strength and instinct only a mother could possibly possess, Inko ripped off her seat belt and threw herself in between the driver and passenger seats to shield her child from the incoming blow.

Izuku awoke to a deafening scream of pain and the sound of shattering glass.

He felt the warmth of his mother around him, as if she were hugging him-- but her arms were limp, her body slumped over against his. Something hot dripped against his face. It was too dark to see anything.

He could feel something sharp embedded in his right let, and his hand was smashed between the car seat and something heavy. He tried to move his fingers but only experienced excruciating pain. A gasp of confusion followed by choking sobs wracked the nine-year old's body; he began to cry out in agony.

"Momma!" He screamed.

In a cruel coincidence, the light of the backseat flickered on, for just a few, brief seconds.

Izuku's eyes widened in horror at the lovely face of his kind, gentle, caring mother-- covered in blood.

Rain began to seep through the broken windows and wet Izuku's unprotected leg. He could only cry in pain, using his only good arm to hug his mother, attempting to call out for help, and shake her awake. She had shielded him from whatever had happened while he was asleep, that much he knew, and now it was his fault that she lay there over him, unmoving, and hurt.

His heart thudded painfully in his chest, faster, and faster.

Izuku closed his eyes tightly.

Bright light suddenly flashed around them, too blinding to even think of looking at. It only lasted a few dire seconds, before Izuku suddenly choked on his own blood as he suddenly coughed out what felt like his own lung-- and explosive pain ripped into his back, his shoulders, his chest, his thighs-- he felt blood begin to rush out of his newly shredded skin.

Unceremoniously, Izuku lost consciousness, just as the wail of sirens and cacophony of voices became apparent to him.

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Izuku woke up to a sad, plain white room.

He didn't remember much about what happened, except that it was raining and he was sticky and he passed out. He couldn't gather the strength to sit up, so he looked at what he could from his resting position. Both arms were in casts, and his feet were propped up in slings raised up by strings on the ceiling. Blearily, he blinked, and tried to move an arm slowly.

Immediately, he cried out in a hoarse, unused voice.

It took only a few seconds for nurses to suddenly begin filing into the room, their eyes wide and surprised and concerned. They began talking in rushed voices at him-- 'how are you feeling? What hurts? I'm going to take your IV out, Midoriya-kun'- he was completely and utterly overwhelmed, but stayed still and cooperated in hopes that they'd listen to him, too, when they finished.

He wanted to see his mother.

Regardless of his own injuries, his own pain-- as they stuck needles into him and pulled needles out of him and moved his broken bones and pushed against tender, broken skin-- the only thing he wanted was to see his mother's smiling face.

He wanted her to be safe, and unharmed.

Chapter Text

Inko was not allowed to see Izuku for a week after he woke up.

It was cruel, but the nurses assured him constantly that Inko was doing well, and her injuries were not as severe as his, and they told Inko that Izuku was recovering well and all was going fine. After the initial surgery which Izuku underwent immediately after the two were recovered from the car accident, the boy had been steadily getting better through resting and taking pain medication. They estimated he should be all right to leave the hospital in two weeks, though he would have to be pushed around in a wheelchair due to his broken right le, and fractured left foot. It was during this time that the nurses who doted on him kindly told him stories of his father, who, many years ago, used to be their coworker.

"Hisashi would always try to treat as many patients as he could," one of the older nurses told Izuku, as she brought him his lunch. She was a kind woman with smile wrinkles and bright brown eyes. "He would try to prioritize the child patients in the intensive care unit, to alleviate their pain. After he helped as many kids as he could, he would go and rest up for a little bit, and then make his way to the emergency room for adults."

"Where the heroes were," Izuku mumbled under his breath.

"Yes," she confirmed, and then helped him sit up. She put the tray onto his lap and handed him a pair of chopsticks. "Your dad was recognized by the hospital and the government many times for helping so many people, so selflessly. He was offered rewards and better job positions, but he turned them down because he wasn't interested in that."

"Why not?" Izuku peeled open the cellophane covering his small bowl of white rice. The grains were a little soggy, but he had gotten used to the squishy texture of hospital food long since arriving at the ward.

"Well, a promotion meant being paid more money, but it also meant leaving the hospital. Your dad felt like his purpose was to help people, not to be put on a pedestal."

Izuku pondered this, as the nurse checked his vitals, looked at other things on the computer, and then made sure he was comfortable. She smiled at him and patted his head before she had to leave in order to help other nurses. He was halfway through his meal when another nurse came in to make sure he was eating okay, and then recounted the story of Midoriya Hisashi saving pro hero Edgeshot's life many years ago. He listened well and after she was done, tried to imagine what his father must have looked like, dark hair and wide eyes and freckles and tired body, running over to the unconscious form of the number five pro hero straight in the middle of battle, to heal the other man and take his pain away.

Another nurse would come in to give him pain medication mixed with soft fruit jelly, as he did daily. This nurse had been a direct subordinate of his father's. The young man would describe Hisashi to Izuku, often getting choked up along the way in sadness. He talked about the Hisashi's work ethic, the way he would overuse his quirk and end up having to take naps in the break room, and how he would always eat a bento made by his loving wife, whenever he had time to eat. At the end of his stories the nurse would always begin to sob quietly, and have to leave. Izuku was proud, of course, knowing his father had helped so many people, but somewhere deep inside, Izuku also envied the nurses, for knowing his father well enough to be able to cry at his memories. Izuku was not old enough to remember.

He is brave enough one day to as, with a choked out voice, if any of them were there the day his father died.

"Oh, Izuku," the oldest one murmured. She has taken to calling him by his first name since she began telling him stories. Her voice was heavy, and her eyes were wet. "All of us were there."

"Can you tell me?" He had asked, and suddenly, the courage he had built up had begun to fade away. His fingers were shaking from where they peeked out from his cast. "Mom... Mom never told me much," he managed to get out-- and suddenly, his voice was croaking and shaky, and the nurses immediately gathered next to him to offer their support.

The male nurse who always cried started, clasping his hands together. "It was the weekend," he gets out. Izuku can already see the tears beginning to build up in his eyes-- the boy is tempted to get the man to stop, but the nurse continues before he has the chance. "Most of us were off duty that day, because at that time, we usually took weekday shifts. Hisashi was at home, because he had the day off. Everything seemed so peaceful recently, because stronger pro heroes were becoming known and the crime rate had gone down quite a lot."

Izuku nodded. That was about eight years ago, when All Might's era began. The boy wished he had his action figure to clutch close to him. He settled for loosely holding the blankets with numb fingers instead.

"We had all just finished eating lunch when we got a call about a pro hero who had been critically injured in a major battle in town. Some of the EMS workers left to go provide medical assistance. Since I was an intern at that time, I was just coming back from my lunch break when they left, and the other nurses brought me into the break room where we all crowded around the television. The news was really crazy, there was already media coverage on the incident. Just as we turned the news off, the EMS arrived with the hero on the gurney," he choked out. Izuku watched his face turn redder and redder in stress, and the boy held out his hand and tried to hold the nurse's with the tips of his fingers.

The nurse had silent tears streaming down his face as he gently held Izuku's hand back. The older nurse picked the story back up.

"The hero wasn't going to make it," she said. "We could all see that. He had injuries that were too big for any of us to heal, even with our quirks and with an immediate operation. The hospital didn't have another choice, and called Hisashi in to help. He was here in a matter of minutes. He took one look at the hero, who was just a young man in his twenties, and knew that he had to do his best so save him. Hisashi brought that man back to life."

Izuku's fingers felt cold in the nurse's hands, and he swallowed back something painful. Hotness burned at his cheeks, but the nurses didn't seem to notice, too engrossed in the pain of their memories.

"I just remember Hisashi gasping at first, in pain, but after those first seconds he was silent. There was light everywhere," she described. "It took nearly two hours for us to finally be let in the room. None of us expected Hisashi to be in the state we found him in-- we all knew his quirk was dangerous to himself, but none of us ever imagined it could do so much to him. When we got in there, Hisashi had already collapsed, but the hero was breathing. It wasn't a pretty sight, Izuku," she sighs softly, eyes watering. "We immediately had both of them undergo an emergency operation. The hero's life was saved, though he was put out of commission for almost a year and lived with painful side effects. Your father didn't make it through the first surgery."

The older nurse stopped for a second to breathe in deeply, and looked down at Izuku. His throat felt itchy and his cheeks were warm. Only when frantic hands began wiping salt water away from his chin did he realize he was crying.

"Oh, Izuku," the nurse melted, her eyes full of concern, "we're sorry. We shouldn't have..."

"No," he managed to get out, but the rest of it was sobbing and choking noises.

He was glad they did, even though his heart was hurting and suddenly all his wounds were painful and he couldn't stop weeping. It was suddenly as if he could see a clearer image of who his father was in his head, like the memories he didn't have were suddenly filled in by borrowed pieces from others. It felt good to cry, and he was oddly happy----, because this must have been how his mother felt when they were at the restaurant together. It was as if he was comforted not only by the people around him, but also his tears, and theirs.

He cried in relief for hours after that.

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Two days after that, Izuku was allowed to see his mother.

The reunion was full of tears and hugs and sobbing and worrying and fussing, and at the end of the sobbed out greetings, the two ate ice cream in his hospital room, and Inko doodled little cartoon animals on Izuku's many casts. Izuku couldn't keep the smile off of his face during the meeting, the both of them laughing together with ice cream smudged on their mouths. Regrettably, Inko was only allowed to spend a few hours with her son, before the nurses had to escort her out.

Izuku was relieved to see the nurses were truthful in that his mother looked completely fine, though something about the fact seemed confusing to him.

Every day after that for the next week and a half, Inko visited her son, bringing him small snacks and things to keep him entertained. Mostly, she brought movies and comic books, some from home, and some newly bought. The nurses greeted Inko like an old friend, and sometimes they would also sit in during the visits, and they'd all watch an All Might film together. Especially because Izuku's wounds were nearly healed and his broken bones were getting better, he found himself having a fun time, without the pain he had felt for days before. When it was time for him to get discharged after one last meeting with the doctor, he found himself sad to go.

"We'll miss you, Izuku," the older nurse had said, and patted his hair, fondness in her eyes. "Though that doesn't mean we want to see you back here soon."

The little boy nodded with a small smile. "Okay."

Inko had helped Izuku into his wheelchair, after tearfully thanking all of the kind nurses and doctors who had taken care of her son. The two of them went down to the first floor where Izuku's last checkup would take place, sitting down in the waiting area. A few of the kids already there, mostly four year olds who were getting their quirks registered, looked at Izuku and his broken leg and foot and arms in curiosity. After their interest dulled down, they went back to playing with the toys scattered about the room.

"Momma?" Izuku asked, looking to Inko from where she sat close next to him, "how much schoolwork did I miss?"

Inko giggled, and ruffled her son's fluffy hair. "Don't worry, Izuku, the teachers are going to give you plenty of time to make it up. They'll also take out some of the handwritten assignments because of your arms. I've already called and they've been very understanding."

Izuku clicked his tongue in boredom and wiggled his fingers. He wondered how his classmates would react to all his broken bones. Maybe they would be nicer.

He thought of Katsuki. Maybe not.

A doctor opened the door from the offices, looking at his clipboard. "Midoriya Izuku," he called.

Inko stood up and wheeled her son into the hallway, where the doctor escorted the two of them into one of the offices near the end of the corridor. Already waiting inside was an older man, with a balding head and fluffy white mustache. He was looking over several papers, and as Inko stood in front of him, he looked up and adjusted his round bifocals. "Good afternoon," he got out, and rubbed his nose.

"Hello," Inko said, and bowed her head before taking a seat next to Izuku.

"I'm going to ask you some questions about the car accident," the doctor said. Izuku was surprised-- seeing just how blunt the old man is-- but kept his thoughts to himself. His mother only nodded, agreeing.

"Do either of you remember what happened leading up to the crash?"

Inko breathed in, "Izuku was sleeping in the backseat. The car started to hydroplane.. I lost control of the vehicle and we hit the guardrail."

"Anything else?" The doctor asked, jotting down some notes. It was obvious he was looking for more."I.. I realized the car was going to spin and the back would hit the rail, so I tried to protect Izuku," Inko murmurs, looking down. "I don't remember what happened after that. I think I passed out."

Izuku rubbed the pads of his fingers together in thought, as he curled in his lip. He still couldn't remember much of the incident, but that sounded right. He did remember the feeling of his mother's soft sweater right over him, and the weight of her body pressing against him. Izuku paused, and it dawned on him just how much his mother sacrificed for him, trying to keep him safe. Tears pricked at his eyes,

Inko didn't look proud of her heroism, however. Guilt laced her soft features, and her voice came out wistful. "I didn't do a very good job at protecting him, obviously."

The doctor paused in his writing. "Why would you say that?"

Inko stared at the man, incredulously. "Uhm, my son, he broke bones in his feet, leg, and arms," she tried, her voice beginning to get shaky. "I walked out of the hospital a day later with only stitches, and he was withheld for two weeks."

Izuku raises his mummified-arms to accent her point.

The doctor ignores the mother and son, and hands them two pictures of the crash scene near the guardrail. It shows Inko's body covering Izuku's, both of them covered in rainwater. "These are pictures taken the moment paramedics arrived on the scene," he explains, and with a gloved finger, points at Inko's unconscious form in the photo. "Midoriya Inko, your body was draped over your son, shielding him from the blow of the crash. Only his leg and hand were unguarded-- he had to receive stitches on that hand, and his leg was broken. Other than that, his other leg and arms, along with his body, should have been fine."

The two of them can only stare at the picture in confusion.

"When we took the two of you to the emergency room, it was an anomaly that Midoriya Inko, who should've sustained most of the wounds from the crash, was left only needing stitches across the forehead and back; while young Izuku seemed to have broken all his limbs, and was bleeding severely. We had no idea why the boy who was protected by his mother was injured so badly. We did research on Izuku's former medical records to see if he had any quirks that might have caused damage to his persona, but we found nothing."

Inko tried to interrupt. "Yes, my son, he's quirkless."

"No," the doctor said sharply. "He's not."

The room went silent, as if the air inside the office had suddenly expanded and begun choking Inko ad her son, who sat in shock and confusion. The doctor took the pictures from them and put them back into his file, as he waited for the news to sink in for them.

"I don't.. I don't understand," Inko managed to say.

"Your husband was Midoriya Hisashi, yes?" The doctor asks, sorting through his papers. Inko nods, demurely. "His quirk was known as 'soul bond'-- at the surface, a healing quirk, but in depth, actually an ability that allowed him to connect and bond himself with other people in order to share pain, thoughts, and feelings with them, correct?"

He didn't even wait for Inko to confirm what he said.

"Your husband worked at this hospital, constantly using his quirk to transfer the pain people felt from their injuries to himself, in order to heal them and help them. However, the severity of their injuries constantly put him out of commission. The books say your son is registered as quirkless, seeing as his ability did not present at age five, but what I believe, along with countless doctors here, is that Midoriya Izuku inherited his father's quirk, which only presented itself when it became necessary-- in this case, to save his mother-- you, Midoriya Inko."

"This.. This can't," Inko mumbled, her voice barely a whisper. Her hand reached out to grab Izuku's fingers, which are shaking just as bad as hers, "this can't be.."

"We can try to run more tests on just how closely linked Izuku is to his late father, but there's no other explanation for the circumstances of the car accident," the doctor explained, handing Inko some informational papers. She looked frozen in horror and painful fear, her whole body trembling.

"Having a quirk like this, it's worse than not having one at all," the doctor says, handing some papers over to Inko, whose worried expression had not once wavered. "You'll have to keep a close eye on him to prevent him from hurting himself."

Izuku tuned the doctor out.

With a quirk like this, he was capable of helping people.

And in that moment-- regardless of whatever Inko or the doctor said-- that was all that mattered to him.

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Izuku went back to school the next day.

He was still in shock, along with his mother, about his newfound quirk, but unlike her, he was elated.

A quirk meant that he would be able to save people-- to become a hero. The fact that it was the same one his own father possessed only made it feel like reality had suddenly flipped over upside down. Sure, it wasn't a quirk one would be able to use for fighting, and it wasn't anything too flashy either-- in fact, seeing as how dangerous it could be, it could be looked at as a detriment-- but Izuku knew it was a quirk all the same. His dad had used soul bond in order to save people's lives and relieve their pain. He had helped those who needed it and touched the lives of the people around him.

Izuku swore he would do the same.

He would make his father proud.

His mother, on the other hand, still seemed to be frozen with shock, but she continued to care for him as she did before, just with a pained expression on her face. On the day he returned to school, she made him a bento, helped him pack his bags, drove him to school, helped him onto his wheelchair, and talked to the teachers regarding his physical capabilities. Izuku watched her with worry as she came back to check up on him.

"Izuku," she said, with all the love only a mother could bear for her child, "be careful today in class. Don't overexert yourself." She took his bandaged hand in hers. "If you feel your quirk beginning to start up, do everything you can to stop it."

Slowly, Izuku nodded, and immediately he was enveloped by her warmth as she hugged him closely, her breathing labored and her body quaking with emotion.

"I'll see you after school, okay? We can eat katsudon for dinner," she promised, and patted his fluffy hair one last time before she let the homeroom teacher wheel Izuku into class, watching her son go with regretful eyes.

Izuku stared back as long as he could until the doors closed, and Kaida-sensei pushed him into the classroom. Izuku's teacher asked him kind questions and made sure to treat him gently as she pushed him through the door and allowed him to take the time he needed to get into his seat, before the woman folded up his wheelchair and leaned it against the wall. As soon as Izuku sat down, his classmates immediately swarmed around him, buffeting him with loads of questions about the car accident, his injuries, how the hospital food had tasted, and whether or not he knew that it was a pro hero who had discovered his car accident and called for the paramedics.

"Uhm," Izuku had tried, only to shrink back as his classmates got noisier. He wasn't used to this much attention, as he was usually ignored for being quirkless.

But wait-- now he had a quirk. He wasn't sure if his classmates knew about that, too, but his mother's concern reminded him not to flaunt it around. Also, if his classmates knowing he actually had a quirk made them this excited around him, he would rather not have anyone know about it at all. He was already beginning to get uncomfortable, the countless mouths yelling questions at him becoming suffocating.

"Oi, idiots!" Katsuki's voice suddenly broke up the loud chattering, "stop crowding the loser! Being quirkless is contagious, you know!"

Izuku looked up and watched as the kids around him began to realize just what Katsuki had said, and then scatter away, remembering that, yes, Izuku was quirkless, and people who were quirkless were useless, and Katsuki had such an amazing quirk... Relief filled the green-haired boy, as he breathed a small sigh. The other kids began to crowd around the blonde, who looked at Izuku with narrowed eyes-- not cruel-- just extremely calculating for a nine year old.

"Know your place, Deku," Katsuki sneered, when their eyes met.

Green irises quickly darted away from burning red ones. Class started not long after that.

All in all, the day was uneventful. After the excitement about Izuku's accident had disappeared, he was back to being unnoticed, other than Katsuki's occasional scathing remark. To his relief, though, his childhood friend hadn't threatened him with any explosions. Seeing as he was bound to his wheelchair, it wasn't as if he could avoid them. The teachers let him stay inside for recess, which he preferred, because he was allowed to read and draw and take notes on pro heroes as much as he wanted in peace. After school, Izuku was picked up by his mother, who still seemed shaken-- but the two of them went out for dinner and ate katsudon, just like she promised.

When they got home they watched a movie together and Izuku did some homework (just sketching out a story, his teachers were lenient) before Inko kissed him goodnight and retired to her own room to sleep. Izuku sat on his bed with the lights on and the doors closed, wiggling his fingers around.

Just how much of his quirk could he use, now that it had presented? Did he have to be touching the person for it to work? The doctor said his quirk should let him also sense the person's feelings, too. Did that mean he could read their thoughts? Did it also work on animals? If the person he was healing had a disease, would he also receive their sickness?

Izuku pressed the button on the bedside remote on his nightstand, and turned the lights off. He carefully pulled his legs up and brought the blankets over his body, as he rolled onto his side slowly, and closed his eyes.

He had a lot of research to do, for once, on himself.

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During the next two months, as Izuku recovered from his injuries, he spent most of his time on the computer, searching up as much as he could on his father. Of course, there wasn't an abundance of information-- everything was mostly small interviews or articles in newspapers about how his father helped pro heroes-- but anything he could find helped.

From what he gathered, he learned the answers to many of his questions.

In articles online, his father had talked about how he was able to help children in the intensive care unit by taking the pain of their sicknesses from them, which would help them recover faster. However, he could not transfer the entire disease or ailment onto himself. Hisashi could use his quirk to take physical wounds from them, however, like broken bones or cuts. Hisashi mentioned also, being able to sense the child's emotions during the exchange-- the most common were fear and sadness. Izuku assumed he was the same. Although he could not remember sensing any of his mother's feelings, it was most likely because he was knocked unconscious shortly after healing her.

It was after Izuku got his casts off and was finally allowed to walk to school and back, on his own, did he have the chance to try our his quirk for the first time since the car accident.

He had been walking home from school after a one-sided argument with Katsuki about his hero notes, when he had heard an odd noise near one of the grocer's stores on his way home. The area was heavily populated, so he wasn't concerned-- maybe a box fell down in the shop?-- but when he heard a meow, Izuku turned to look. A flash of grey fur disappeared around the corner, and out of instinct, the boy followed.

Into the alleyway Izuku went, and stopped when the small cat hissed at him, suddenly backed into a corner.

He could see that the cat was no more than a kitten, really, with its tiny paws and face, and that it favored one paw that seemed to be deformed. Izuku took a few careful steps forward to get a better look-- and saw that the cat's paw was actually injured, not a deformity. It looked as if someone had stepped on the poor cat's foot and heavily bruised the animal. A joint or two also looked out of place.

Without even thinking, Izuku crouched down and reached a hand out touch the feline, that continued to hiss. Backing it into a corner, he gently rested a hand on top of the kitten's hurt limb, and focused.

Izuku felt a sudden burst of soft white light radiate from his fingertips. It was warm. As he closed his eyes instinctively, he felt a burst of feeling suddenly rush into his body, flooding his senses-- fear, mistrust, wariness-- nothing pleasant. It was as if he was suddenly placed into someone else's body, and was deep inside their consciousness, along with their thoughts, though he couldn't exactly hear what they were saying. Instead, he felt it. The onslaught of negative emotions was then followed by the snapping of bones in his index finger and pinky, along with the sudden black and blue bruising that began to spread along his right hand.

As soon as the sensation of light faded away, Izuku was left gasping in pain as tears pricked the corners of his eyes. A gasp of pain left his lips, and as soon as he retracted his hand, the kitten was gone in a flash, having run away as soon as it realized it now could with its healed paw.

Feeling only slightly betrayed, Izuku picked up his bag with his good arm, and looked at his hand. The two fingers were definitely broken.

Izuku quickly thought of how he would explain this to his mom-- defeated, he figured he would just tell her the truth. He was glad the kitten looked okay, and it felt relieving, in a way, to know that he actually had a quirk, though it seemed to lie dormant inside him unless the time came for it. That, and he learned that he in fact, could heal animals.

Maybe if being a pro hero didn't work out like Kacchan told him, he could be a pro veterinarian instead.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Inko, was of course, mad at Izuku for using his quirk-- but after bandaging him up and scolding him, he knew she was more relieved that it had been a kitten he healed instead of a victim of assault.

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The rest of that same school year, Izuku spent his time healing animals for practice with his quirk.

Stray cats and dogs usually got health checkups from Izuku. He would heal them up, trying to see if he could control how much of their bodies he healed, or specific injuries, and then give them some food after if he had any. Many of the strays began following him home, which immediately gave him away to his mother (if the injuries didn't do it first). Inko reprimanded him every time, but they both knew he couldn't help it, and that as long as the injuries weren't anything too serious, she couldn't stop him.

The kids at school thought it was weird that he was spending so much time surrounded by neighborhood cats and dogs and birds and even mice, but they just labelled it as another phase good ol' weird, quirkless Izuku went through. Still, one of them knew he had a quirk. Katsuki still hurled insults at him and popped an occasional explosion near his face, but none of them ever harmed him. Izuku figured that seeing his broken leg and foot and arms from the previous months had sobered Katsuki up into trying to be less violent in case of an accident. Mostly, Katsuki was focusing on developing his own quirk in order to get stronger.

Izuku, through his veterinarian abilities, also found that with practice, he could use soul bound without healing, too. He could use his quirk simply to connect with another being and sense their emotions, without them having to be hurt to do it. He also knew that when healing a mouse with a broken spine, the worst that he would receive from the exchange was an ache for a couple minutes. The ratio of size between Izuku and the person he was healing determined the extent of the injuries he would receive. Helping out the animals was for a good cause, but it mostly helped him to develop his quirk more and settle into it. Sometimes it felt like he was just taking small baby steps after practically being thrown headfirst into quirk usage, but every time he learned something new about his abilities, he took notes on it and put it to good use the next time he attempted to heal or communicate with the animals.

'Notes for the future me.'

He doodled a lot in his notebook, some sketches of pro heroes, some sketches of his mom, himself, and his dad, from pictures he had seen in his mom's wedding album. Though Katsuki would often get mad and explode Izuku's pencils, erasers, and papers, he never touched his notebook-- not that Izuku was complaining about that. The two often found themselves both watching the same fights of pro heroes and villains from the opposite sides of the 'do not cross' tape, and would make eye contact for a split second before Katsuki usually broke it off, sneering. They never seemed to go home at the same time, though.

During those fights, Izuku would try to ignore Katsuki, and just take notes on pro heroes. His favorites to watch were Kamui Woods, Mt. Lady, and Edgeshot-- their quirks were powerful and flashy, and although Izuku was getting comfortable with his own, he still appreciated the classic, offensive-type quirks.

On his way home, after feeding the strays and making sure they were all doing all right, Izuku would go to the comic store and read a little bit about All Might and other heroes. This became his tradition for a while. At twelve years old, now, it seemed a bit childish for Izuku to still be such a fanboy about All Might, but he couldn't help himself. The number one hero would forever be his idol-- well, next to his dad.

He and his mother still made monthly visits to Hisashi's grave. The both of them talked to him, and Izuku would tell his father about his progress with his independent quirk training.

Because it became Izuku's normal routine, Inko had gotten used to his healing stray animals and feeding them. Izuku figured she had only allowed him to continue because she figured it was better than trying to heal actual people with more serious injuries. He wasn't sure exactly how Inko felt about him wanting to be a pro hero now that he had inherited his father's quirk. It felt like the two of them were skirting around the issue. He didn't want to bring it up in fear of hearing an outright rejection, so he just kept making baby steps, feeding kittens, healing dogs.

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It was during the first week of his second year in middle school, when Izuku accidentally shattered the ice he and his mother walked over so gently.

It had been a normal day of school. Everyone was getting settled into the classroom at the beginning of the year, enjoying themselves, hanging out with friends. Izuku had kept to himself throughout the whole day, sketching out notes and drawing a picture of Mt. Lady at her most recent fight against a large mutant-class villain. He had been perfecting the fins of the shark-mutant when his ears perked up at the familiar sound of a slam of a hand against the classroom wall. Izuku didn't even need to look up to know it was Katsuki coming in, his loud voice already giving him away.

"Bakugou, I can't believe you won that fight against those third years the other day!" One of Katsuki's lackeys praised him, as he floated above the ground, large red wings flapping. "Your quirk is too great!"

"I know, fucktard," Katsuki replied easily, shoving his hands into his pockets. "Those guys were fucking weak."

Some of the girls in the class looked at Katsuki in awe, while others turned their nose at his crass language. Most of the guys stared at him in envy. Katsuki made his way to his seat, a few ahead of Izuku, as his lackeys continued to talk about just how great he was, while praising his quirk and boasting about how high the chances were that Katsuki would get into U.A. Academy.

Izuku had paused his drawing when he heard U.A.-- that was the most prestigious academy in Japan, for its amazing heroics department, where countless pro heroes had studied and trained, All Might being one of them. When he was younger, all Izuku had dreamed about was going to U.A. and enrolling in the heroics department. Now, it was still a dream, but knowing exactly what his quirk was, he wasn't sure if that was even possible. Of course, Izuku wanted to become a hero, but he knew that a person with a healing quirk-- especially one as self-destructive as soul bond-- was not likely to be a pro hero fighting at the front lines.

Still... there was no loss in trying, right?

As if Katsuki could read his mind, the blonde turned around and looked straight at Izuku, who slowly moved his head upwards to stare back at him.

"Shitty fucking Deku!" Katsuki jeered at him, his hands beginning to fizz out smoke, "don't look so fucking hopeful whenever someone mentions U.A! It's never going to happen for a quirkless shit like you!"

Izuku flinched when a small explosion erupted in Katsuki's hand, and looked back at his notebook.

Even though Izuku did have a quirk, it wouldn't help him out very much in the long run. You couldn't get into U.A.'s heroics department through a battle exam with a healing quirk that you couldn't even use on yourself.

As Katsuki and Izuku went back to their own business, the teacher soon started class. The normal routine followed, with the students diligently taking notes. During lunch, Izuku ate alone near the staircase of the roof, finishing up his drawing of Mt. Lady. He wrote a note on his hand to remind himself to buy more cat food with the allowance he had been given. One of the cats (whom he had affectionately named Dottie) had given birth a couple of weeks ago, and he had more mouths to feed than ever.

The afternoon classes progressed slowly, and by the time they were done, Izuku was nearly half-asleep. He had quickly packed up his things once they had been dismissed and left the school, going to the convenience store down the street. He bought several cans of dry cat food and some green tea soy milk for himself. The cashier, who was by now used to Izuku's odd pet-food purchases, rang up his items for him and waved him goodbye lazily.

Izuku had gotten to the alley and fed Dottie and her babies, and left out two opened cans just in case the other cats came and were hungry. He took out the dog food he kept in his backpack and put that out at the next block, where he fed the stray dogs. He made sure to keep the cats and dogs away from each other, just in case. After he had deposited all of the pet food and made sure the animals were all healthy, Izuku began making his way home. It was already getting dark.

Izuku took out his notebook and began flipping through the pages as he walked, to pass the time.

Countless sketches of pro heroes lined up the pages, all from real fights he had watched. It was like flipping through a montage of incidents that occurred in the city. Izuku was proud of his notes and drawing abilities (especially because his fingers were broken so often), and had often seriously considered doing reporting or starting an online page to keep his works in. However, whenever he sat at the computer and thought about creating the website, he felt uncomfortable with showing all of the pages to people online. After all, his notes included his own thoughts about his dreams and goals, and many of the other pictures drawn were of his father.

It was ironic that through his quirk, Izuku could get others to open themselves up to him; they gave him all their pain and thoughts and emotions. On the other hand, he himself was riddled with discomfort at the idea of someone else doing that to him.

It was one of the reasons he was so grateful Katsuki never touched his notebook.

Izuku passed by the dollar store, trying to get by quickly, seeing as his mother would worry if he got home when it was dark. A few high-schoolers were loitering around outside, holding what looked like cheap alcoholic drinks in their hands. He wondered why they'd have alcohol-- he knew the cashier, who didn't seem like the person to sell to minors. Carefully, Izuku tried to sidestep one of them, only to end up bumping the shoulder of another. As if in slow motion, the guy's hand knocked against the wall, and he dropped his drink on the ground. Izuku looked up and stared into the face of an intoxicated grown man. Now he knew how the teenagers had gotten the drinks.

"I'm, I'm so sorry," Izuku had stammered out, clutching his notebook to his chest. His heart began hammering in his skin, trying to pop out of his throat. The guys around him, about three high-schoolers, all closed up their drinks and stared.

"Are you going to buy me a new one?" The man asked, his voice already slurring, as he narrowed his eyes. His quirk, which was most likely a hardening quirk, began to manifest in his muscly fists.

"Of... Of course!" Izuku stammered, as he immediately pulled open his backpack, trying desperately to find his wallet. Once he grabbed it, he unclasped it quickly with trembling fingers only to find it was empty.

Oh, right. He had spent all of his money on the cat food.

It felt like slow motion, as the man picked Izuku up by his collar, easily lifting him off the ground. "You fucking with me, kid?" He asked. Izuku flinched-- his face was close enough that he could smell the liquor on his breath. "You don't just spill someone's drink and say fucking sorry. If you don't have any money, don't be a clumsy piece of shit!"

A rock-hard fist collided with Izuku's jaw in an explosion of pain. Izuku couldn't help the scream that tore its way from his mouth-- the man dropped him and he could only crumple to the ground, cradling the side of his face, as tears began flowing down his cheeks. Shaking, Izuku felt around his mouth with his tongue, easily tasting blood, and spat out a molar.

Well-- shit.

The skin on the side of his face was also scraped up and bleeding from the man's quirk. The rough, jagged texture of his skin had left a deep gash running up to his ear. Everything seemed sticky from blood-- his ears were ringing painfully.

Cruel laughter and jeers sounded out from the teenagers and the older man, as they clinked their drinks in cheers. Izuku wondered if he ran away now, while they were busy celebrating, if he could escape without being beaten more. Trying to compose himself, Izuku quietly grabbed his bag, slinging it around his shoulder, and got up on his feet, wobbling. He was almost ready to take off when he saw his notebook by one of the teenager's feet.

Against whatever better judgement Izuku had, he tried to shakily crawl over to grab his book before running.

The intoxicated men were distracted, but not enough.

A spiked cleat smashed down on Izuku's hand and ground down on him.

Another scream of pain erupted from him.

"Look, he's crawling on the fucking ground!" The teenager laughed, making sure to push his foot harder into Izuku's skin. "What are you, a dog?"

Izuku couldn't help but sob at the pain, not answering. His notebook was just a few inches away, but he knew better than to reach out for it with his uninjured hand. The men around him continued to laugh as they looked at him, Izuku's battered figure barely visible under the dim streetlight. It was getting dark, his mom would be worried.

In an even more cruel twist of fate, one of the teenagers looked down at Izuku and noticed what the boy was looking at. He staggered down and grabbed the notebook on the ground, putting his drink on the ground in order to flip through the pages with both hands. At first he looked bored, but as he began to read through the content of the book, he only looked amused-- then he started to laugh uncontrollably.

"Get a load of this shit!"

Humiliation welled deep inside of Izuku as he watched the men pass his notebook around, all while mocking him. The tears that ran down his face were no longer from pain.

You're so stupid, Izuku thought to himself. Of course it's not just Kacchan who thinks you can never be a hero. It's impossible, isn't it? You can't even save yourself.

"Crybaby little middle-schoolers like you fucking piss me off," the grown man laughed, as he ripped the notebook from one of his lackey's hands. His free hand began to harden, shifting into razor-sharp jagged skin, as he grinned evilly down at Izuku, lips pulled back into a sneer. "You need to learn your place. Who do you think you are?"

Izuku's eyes widened in horror as the man brought his hand down against the spine of his book, about to rip it in half, and then to shreds, as if the dreams for his future and the feelings about his mother and father were worth nothing. It was horrifying enough, and only at the last second could Izuku bring himself to tear his eyes away.

"You're fucking useless."

....

....

....

Wasn't that the wrong voice?

On instinct, Izuku used his free, uninjured hand to shield his head from the explosion that blasted the man holding his notebook off the sidewalk. Guttural screams from the teenagers came as each one of them received the same fate, being blown one by one away from Izuku, their clothes and skin being singed from hot smoke and ash. The one who had stepped on Izuku's hand was shaking as he received a huge blast right over his face.

He didn't even need to look up to know it was Kacchan.

Smoke filled the air, as Izuku heard Katsuki step away from him to go and pursue the four drunk men, continuing to fire off explosions their way. Izuku coughed and pulled his limp hand off the ground. Predictably, it was covered in blood. Squinting, he tried to look for his notebook-- his heart dropped, seeing that it was nowhere to be found. He looked to see Katsuki punching the life out of the grown man, and wondered if his childhood friend was irritated that they had been picking on his usual victim.

Izuku contemplated fleeing, but knew that he wouldn't get very far before he got caught. Instead, he opened his bag and pulled out his gym shirt, pressing it to the side of his face with his uninjured hand to try and staunch the bleeding gash across his jawline. He probed his mouth to feel for any more missing teeth. Fortunately, all he felt was gushing blood.

"Deku, you shitty bastard," Katsuki spat out, as he walked back near Izuku, who looked up at him with a wince. Despite the fact that the guys had all run off, they had put up a fight against Katsuki. There were bruises already forming on the blonde's face, and he looked like he had a bloody nose, too. The edges of his uniform were singed. Izuku didn't realize he was still crying until Katsuki rolled his eyes and shoved a handkerchief in his face.

"Wipe your fucking snot, shithead."

Izuku was past the point of embarrassment at his crying, but did as he was told. Katsuki waited for him, before roughly grabbing the other boy's uninjured hand and pulling him up to his feet. Izuku stumbled a bit, but found he could still walk on his own.

"We're going to my house to get you cleaned up so you don't give your mom a fucking heart attack walking in looking like that, understand?"

Izuku nodded, meekly.

AS Izuku began to follow Katsuki down the road, he noticed through the blurry shapes in the dark that Katsuki looked like he was limping. It was hard to tell for sure because it was dark and Izuku's eyes were still filled with tears, but the blonde seemed to be walking slower and putting less pressure on his right foot. Izuku had become observant to injuries through treating stray animals. As usual, it was instinct that Izuku reached forward and grabbed Katsuki's hand blindly in the dark.

"Deku, what the fuck?"

Katsuki sounded angry, worked-up, (embarrassed?). Izuku only held on tight, pressing his fingers against Katsuki's, as a soft white light enveloped their joined hands.

Anger, exhaustion, pain.
(Worry, wariness, relief).

Izuku sharply breathed in, as he felt bruises bloom violent blue petals all against his stomach, arms, and face, and his nose suddenly begin to bleed. Burns broke out all over his arms and wrist, still blistering and searing with pain, as his ankle suddenly twisted in place, and gave out. Once again, Izuku crumpled to the ground, tears flowing down his face. This time, he was unable to get back up, nor control his crying.

Katsuki stood, frozen in shock, staring down at the bruised and beaten form of his childhood friend on the ground. He shifted his weight to his other foot and found it felt fine. He touched his face, bringing his hand in front of him only to find an absence of blood or burn wounds. His red eyes were wide with uncertainty.

"Deku, you... You did this?"

Izuku could only sob out a response, knowing nothing would ever be the same again.

Chapter Text

Izuku choked on his words and the salty tears that slid down his cheeks, as he tried desperately to look anywhere other than at Katsuki’s face. He already knew his childhood friend was staring down at him in anger and disbelief.


“Deku, you… You have a quirk?” He got out, fists already clenching in anger.


The green-haired boy tried to come up with an answer, but his efforts were in vain. He was too hysterical already to speak, trying to wipe away his tears only to accidentally rub salt into his wounds. Blood dripped down the front of his shirt, reminding Katsuki that Izuku was injured. The blonde male scowled, his whole body trembling, before turning around.


For a second, Izuku was scared. He suddenly felt small, as if he were eight years younger, staring at Kacchan’s back as the other male left him behind.


Instead of walking away, Katsuki crouched down, offering Izuku his back.


“Get on, you useless piece of shit.”


Izuku hesitated before he pushed himself upward, trying to steady himself on his own two feet, stumbling a bit. Carefully favoring his twisted ankle, he managed to lean forward over Katsuki and wrap his arms around the other’s neck after slinging his backpack on two shoulders. The blonde used both arms to lean forward and grab Izuku’s legs.


“Don’t fucking mention this to anyone.”


Izuku, not entirely processing what was going on, only sniffled in reply.


It seemed like an eternity, as Katsuki lugged Izuku home, the smaller male still quietly sobbing the whole way. Other than that, it was painfully quiet. Izuku could feel Katsuki’s skin seeming to burn straight through his shirt, his body temperature high from the adrenaline of the fight.


As soon as they got to both of the boys’ neighborhood, Katsuki began avoiding all the street lights before sneaking around the intersection to avoid the Midoriya household, hightailing it to his own house instead. The boys went through the back door, since Katsuki’s parents usually were up at this time watching television in the living room near the front of the house.


Getting through the door while carrying Izuku was cumbersome, but Katsuki, of course, managed it, not without some cussing under his breath. Thankfully, Izuku’s crying had quieted down at this point, reduced to occasional sniffles.


To get up the stairs, Katsuki slowly let Izuku down and roughly hoisted the smaller male’s arm over his own shoulder, practically dragging the other to the second story of the house. Once they got to the bathroom, Katsuki dropped Izuku onto the toilet, closed the door, and threw open the cupboards.
“I can’t fix your teeth, but I have bandages,” he said gruffly, but still quietly, as he ripped open a well-used first aid kit and began rummaging through it. Katsuki threw out a few medicinal tubes and a roll of bandages before closing it and shoving it back into the cupboard.


Izuku cradled his jaw tenderly with his good hand, still feeling around his gums where he had lost his tooth. He couldn’t taste anything other than blood. Izuku only shrugged, trying to focus on anything but the throbbing pain nearly everywhere in his body, as Katsuki pressed a pad of antiseptic on the gash on his face. He couldn’t help the sharp exhale he gave. Katsuki bandaged his face and then worked on his hand, before helping him to get his bloody shoes off and wrap his ankle. After that, he put burn ointment on the various blisters Izuku accumulated through healing Katsuki.


Izuku quietly watched him through the process, surprised at how comfortable Katsuki seemed with this entire process. Most likely, the blonde was used to dressing his own injuries, Izuku rationed—but he had never imagined Katsuki to do it so often. With such an amazing quirk, it hadn’t ever occurred to Izuku that Katsuki would still get injured in fights, and would still need time to recover. Something deep down in his stomach flipped a little, and Izuku tensed in discomfort.


Katsuki finished wrapping the last of Izuku’s burn marks with a waterproof bandage, and then paused, staring at the green-haired male with unsettling intensity. Even as Izuku averted his gaze, it was nearly impossible to ignore the burning stare. There was a silence.


Slowly, Izuku managed to meet his childhood friend’s eyes, and was almost proud he didn’t flinch as a result. Katsuki’s eyebrows were furrowed down, making his narrowed bloodshot eyes seem even more murderous, and his mouth was set deep in a nasty scowl. His gaze moved from the gash on Izuku’s face, to the multitude of burns adorning his arms, to the brace around his badly twisted ankle; all the while, his anger seemed to worsen. It was as if Katsuki was angry at the fact that even his injuries, his proof of bravery, had been stolen from him.
Izuku held his breath, quietly trembling. Katsuki relented his glare.


“You’re going to need to see a doctor or some shit, so none of that gets infected,” the blonde spat, as he finished up and began washing his hands.


Izuku immediately let out a breath he hadn’t even realized he’d been holding in. “Thanks,” he managed to whisper back. He tried to flex his fingers out, on the hand that had been stepped on, and winced. It would probably take weeks for these wounds to heal. Izuku stole a glance at Katsuki’s back, wondering if he had managed to heal all of his wounds. “Sorry about tonight.”

“When you’re leaving, get out through the back door,” was all Katsuki replied with. He had begun to immerse himself into his brooding-Kacchan-mode, something Izuku had gotten used to. It was one of Katsuki’s few moods, but it was the one that usually preceded a cruel Deku-beating.

 

Quietly, Izuku collected himself, making sure to walk carefully on his ankle down the stairs and out the back door, softly closing it behind him. He forced himself not to spare another glance back toward Bakugou.
Squinting through the darkness, Izuku made his way around the fence that separated his house and the Bakugou residence. He could see the backyard through the darkness, right behind some unkempt shrubbery, where he and Katsuki used to play together back when they were kids, back before Katsuki’s quirk had manifested.


A sudden downpour of bittersweet memories drenched Izuku’s tired frame. He remembered the summers he and Katsuki spent chasing each other around the backyard, laughing and pretending to be heroes—Katsuki hadn’t been any less self-centered back then, but he would always allow Izuku to play-pretend as his sidekick at least. They had shared snacks packed lovingly by Izuku’s mother right behind the shrubs near the garden, hiding from Katsuki’s father, who had always been stuck playing the villain in their games of make-believe. When it was too rainy to go outside, they had played with their shared collection of action figures. They had both always wanted to be All Might, so Katsuki would play as All-Might number one, and Izuku would be All-Might number two.


Izuku wondered if Katsuki remembered any of that. He also wondered if Katsuki still had any of those old action figures.


With difficulty, Izuku turned the corner, avoiding exposure by the bright streetlight, and fished out his house keys from his backpack. He twisted the key in the keyhole as slowly, and subtly as he could, biting his lip with sudden anxiety, and he inched the door open, peering through the crack.


He should’ve expected his mother to be standing in the entrance, her appearance a mess, her expression sick with worry.


As soon as she saw a glimpse of her son, Inko ran over, flung open the door, and wrapped her arms around him in a suffocating hug. Izuku wheezed, but only succumbed to her embrace. She sobbed a little, nose nestled in her son’s fluffy hair. They stayed that way for a little.


“What happened to you? Izuku, I was so worried when you didn’t come home—do you know how late it is? You didn’t call me and so I called the school and they had no idea where you were,” Inko breathed out, nearly hyperventilating. She pulled away from her son and then froze, staring at his bandaged wounds and useless hand and ankle for the first time in horror.


Izuku felt a sudden rush of dread and guilt flood his bloodstream, and he recoiled in shame.


“I got into a fight,” was all he could reply with, stupidly.


He didn’t want to mention the fact that Katsuki had been there, and saved him, and bandaged him up—Inko would be livid. She still rightfully held a grudge against the boy for Izuku’s ninth birthday party disaster, and Izuku didn’t want to inflame any old wounds. Even mentioning Katsuki’s name might convinve his mother that the blonde secretly had something to do with his injuries.


Izuku managed to wrap his arms back around his mother carefully, before Inko sobbed and pulled him back into another embrace. This hug was shorter than the last, as she knew he was injured, and as soon as she had finished crying, she released her son and ushered him over to the kitchen counter where she sat him down in a chair. Inko still sniffled, wiping her eyes every once in a while, (and inflaming Izuku’s guilt) as she rechecked every one of Izuku’s injuries and tidied up his bandages. She unwrapped the bindings on his ankle so she could put him in an ankle brace instead.


Without any words between the two of them, Inko warmed up Izuku’s cold dinner and helped him to wash out his bloody mouth. She had him eat as much as he could without aggravating the soreness in his jaw, and then gave him a variety of pain medications and warm water. It was late, but Inko called the doctor’s and dentist’s offices and left several messages scheduling an emergency appointment for tomorrow afternoon.


“You’re not going to school tomorrow, Izuku,” Inko said sternly, as she watched him drink his water. Her eyes were strict and upset, but they still sparkled with unshed tears. “You have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow afternoon and after that, an appointment with the dentist to see what he can do about your teeth. Hopefully they can arrange implants...” She trailed off, lower lip trembling. “I’m also going to have you write down whatever you remember happening so I can file a police report on whoever did this to you.”


“Okay,” Izuku replied complacently, carefully taking another sip of water.


After Izuku had finished hydrating and taking his medication and thanking his mother, Inko helped him upstairs to his bathroom where he used a chair to shower and get back dressed. Once he was done, his mother reapplied his bandages; Inko made sure to help him carefully into bed and arrange his clothes for the next day to prevent hassle the next morning.


As Inko folded his clothes and lay them on his desk, Izuku relayed his story to her, telling her that some drunken men harassed him and hurt him when he wouldn’t give them any money, and a random bystander scared them off. From there the stranger had helped to bandage him up, and then they had parted ways. Inko was stoic as she listened, and only interjected toward the end.

 

“How did you get the blisters and burns?”


Izuku froze, internally panicking. Under the covers, he touched over one of his burns with his uninjured hand, and winced. “The, uhm, stranger, he had a fire quirk that he used to scare off the bad guys, and since he helped me and he, uh, got hurt because of that…” He trailed off, and looked at his mother. Immediately he wished he hadn’t.


“Izuku, no,” Inko breathed out, sorrow in her eyes. Wetness was already accumulating over her dark lower lashes, dripping down over her reddened cheeks.


“Sorry mom,” was all he could get out, seeing his mother begin to cry. Izuku fought to blink back tears of his own. Suddenly, he felt like the greatest scumbag on earth—at the time, it had seemed like helping Katsuki out was the right decision, but he hadn’t thought of the anguish it would bring his mom, especially since her husband had died using his quirk in the same way. Izuku wouldn’t have changed his decision, but that didn’t mean he didn’t feel guilty about it. “He was hurt, and I just wanted to help.”


“Izuku,” Inko said, after wiping away her tears, “you’re such a kindhearted boy that one day you’re going to get hurt so bad you won’t be able to get back up. Can’t you think more about yourself for once?” Her tone suddenly became desperate. “I’m sure the nice man would’ve been fine. You were already injured.”


“He needed my help, and he saved me,” Izuku choked out, trying to imagine Katsuki limping, burn marks all over his body, while trying to piggyback him home. “How could I have let him walk away hurt?”


“You’re just a boy, Izuku. You’re only twelve years old, you’re not a hero! He could have taken care of himself!” Inko sputtered out, her tone desperate. Her nose was scrunched up as her eyes began to tear up, and she clenched the fabric of her skirt with tight fists. She took a few deep breaths and then her tone softened a little. “Izuku… You’re not going to be able to help everyone, you know?”


As if trying to heal the pain the severity of her words caused, the mother wrapped her arms around her son once more, this time to comfort him as he quietly cried into her sweater. He felt her tears drip down against the back of his neck. It was uncertain how long they stayed in that position, mother comforting son, son consoling mother; until Izuku’s eyes drooped and he fell deep asleep.


 

A week later, Izuku had gotten an implanted molar to replace the one he lost in the scuffle with the drunken thugs. He had gotten stitches on his face and hand, and because of the kind nurses who had recognized him from the car accident and scolded him thoroughly, he had healed quickly enough for them to cut the stitches, too. There was a jagged scar left on his hand still, and a lighter one against his jawline. You could see it if you paid special attention to the area, but it wasn’t especially noticeable.


Izuku knew that his mother always stared straight at the scars instead of him when she was talking to him, and that she was still traumatized by the incident. Honestly, he still was too—he avoided the dollar store where the thugs were arrested the day after the fight like the plague. Out of habit, he found himself cautiously poking at the scarred tissue at his hand whenever he thought of the fight.


Just to appease his mom, Izuku made sure to get home early every day after going back to school. He’d feed the cats and dogs and use cheaply-bought gauze to patch their scrapes instead of taking them onto his own body, and then rush home using the fastest route possible. She seemed to appreciate the gesture, but now even more nervous and protective than before. He didn’t want her to cry anymore, even if they disagreed on the use of his quirk.


That wasn’t the only thing that had changed. Whenever Izuku saw Katsuki—in class, out of class, in the morning or afterschool, the blonde male would immediately glare at him before turning away and ignoring him. Whenever Izuku tried to approach Katsuki in order to thank him for all he did for him that night, he would be brushed aside. Izuku tried not to overthink it—it was just Katsuki being his usual, aloof self—but he knew this was different. Being completely ignored and rejected was different from being casually disregarded. It kind of hurt.


Izuku knew he hadn’t been wanted when he was ‘quirkless,’ and for some reason, he thought that would’ve changed if Katsuki knew the truth. The fact that it didn’t, and that his tiny hope for reconciliation with his friend had been extinguished, was what left a chronic ache deep inside of him.


Regardless of being ignored by Katsuki, Izuku still heard a lot more about his friend’s famous fights against high schoolers from neighboring schools who wanted to try out their quirks against the explosion-kid. Every time Izuku overheard gossip about Katsuki’s latest fight, or upcoming ones, he would try to be there early to see his childhood friend in order to talk to him; in order to tell him that his quirk had manifested late, he hadn’t been lying about it, and that he was sorry—but most of all, Izuku had wanted to say thank you. Every time, though, Katsuki was gone before Izuku could catch sight of him, or he never showed up, as if he knew that Izuku would be there.

 

During the summer, most of the cats and dogs that adored Izuku had either ran away or disappeared, leaving the alleyways full of uneaten pet food.


The school year ended and Izuku felt even lonelier than before.


As the rest of Izuku’s middle school years passed on, it felt as if he couldn’t do anything but succumb to the isolation his quirk had seemed to leave him in. His mother knew that something had happened that day, but no matter how many times she asked and prodded and bothered him, he insisted it was a stranger who saved him, and he never told her the truth. The police accepted the report they gave him and a few months later, the drunkards who had assaulted him were serving time for assault, DUI, and trespassing. Inko was comforted by this new sense of safety; Izuku tried to share her enthusiasm. He didn’t feel anything anymore—not at school or at home—and sometimes he felt so painfully lonely and discouraged it seemed that nothing would ever change for the better. Izuku spent his time researching pro heroes and their quirks to distract himself from those thoughts. He came straight home after school. He fell out of shape with practicing his quirk, and he fell into a mundane routine.


It was during his last year of middle school that everything changed.


 

 It hadn’t been like Izuku was planning to go to U.A. at that time.


In fact, everything that happened to him in the past years seemed to crush his dreams of attending the top-notch hero academy.


Since the Kacchan incident and the talk with his mother that had followed, Izuku had slowly lost sight of the dream he used to hold so close to him. He desperately wanted to help people like his father did using his quirk, but realistically, what could he do for them? He couldn’t save their lives without ending up killing himself. He had no offensive specialties that would make him useful in a fight. He was just reckless and the only recognition his quirk seemed to gain from others was because of his dad.


Needless to say, it was a hard time in Izuku’s life.


Katsuki was constantly praised in class by teachers and students alike for his amazing quirk, and he made it no secret he was going to be enrolling in U.A., in the heroics department. There was never a doubt in Izuku’s mind that Katsuki would go to U.A., considering his amazing talent, but there had always been an idealistic part of his mind that had imagined the both of them enrolling together, at the same time—as equals. Now here he was, staring at Katsuki’s back as the other lapped him, once again.


Izuku couldn’t help that his gaze would often follow Katsuki’s form—he still wanted to talk to him. But whenever the two made eye contact, even three years after the incident, still Katsuki would look away and snarl, shoving his hands into his pocket and leaving.


Izuku would walk home alone after listening to everyone praise Katsuki for the day, track down a villain fight somewhere in the city, and take notes on heroes before going down the route home. He’d make sure to stop by the alleyways where the animals he used to feed once lived, hopefully checking to see if some came back, by chance. None of the cats or dogs were ever there. He’d go home, dejected, but not surprised. His daily routine became painfully boring. It was the same thing, every day.


It was five months into the school year when he was finally relieved from that cycle of monotony.


It had been at the start of the counseling season, when all public schools began to encourage students to start thinking of their choices for high school and future aspirations. Izuku had been dreading this time of year.


“All right class, settle down,” Matsukawa-sensei announced, using his teleporting quirk to distribute papers to his students in the blink of an eye, “here are the forms you’re all going to fill out before you meet with the counselors. You all need to start seriously thinking about your aspirations for the future, and how your choice of high school and higher education will influence your capabilities. In fact…” the middle aged man began to drone on, launching one of his infamous life lessons.


The class seemed to buzz with excitement as the students chattered amongst each other, ignoring their teacher. Izuku pulled out a pen and tried his best to block out all of the background noise. He rested his cheek in his hand as he skimmed through some of the questions.


What do you want to become in the future?


The question immediately reopened all of Izuku’s wounds. Absentmindedly, he rubbed at what remained of the scar on his jaw from years ago, and tried to think. He wasn’t allowed to become a hero, was he? There was nothing else he wanted to do, or become. There was no other way he could make a difference or help people, other than becoming one.


Quietly, Izuku moved onto the next question.


What school do you wish to attend next year?

That wasn’t much better, was it?


Frustrated, Izuku exhaled deeply and tried desperately to envision any other school but U.A. Maybe he could become a doctor or a teacher and attend a regular school to study medicine or education. Izuku bit his lip. Most of the teaching staff had simple quirks to help them control rowdy students, and most doctors had quirks that allowed them to conveniently assist patients or other hospital staff in distributing medicine. They didn’t need a doctor who could heal a broken bone and put himself out of commission for the whole day.


For a second, he considered becoming a police officer. The police force was quirkless, and although Izuku did have a quirk—it wasn’t one he would be actively using. He’d never heard of any exceptions in admission to any of the police force academies, but…


With a sigh, Izuku filled in “police officer” into the blank space and flipped the form over, and stared at the clock until the period ended. It was the last class of the day, thankfully—so after packing up his things, the green-haired boy immediately exited the classroom, heading to the gates so he could leave early enough to be able to get a soy milk at the convenience store and still get home quickly.


It was outside of the classroom near the stairwell that a hand reached out from the door and grabbed his collar with an iron grip, pulling him upstairs towards the roof against his will.


“H-Hey!” Izuku managed to choke out, pulling at his collar to keep it from choking him. “What are you…” He couldn’t see who had grabbed him, under the dim lighting. Panic began to flood his senses—suddenly, he was back in time three years ago, being jostled by some drunk with a hardening quirk and a powerful grip.


“Shut the fuck up,” Katsuki’s voice snarled, and Izuku immediately snapped out of his trauma, and fell silent in shock. He let himself be dragged up the remainder of the stairs before his childhood friend slammed the door leading up to the roof open and pulled him outside. Izuku squinted, the bright sun nearly blinding him.


Katsuki dropped Izuku on his bottom near the door and stalked off to the railing, a deep-set scowl still present on his face. “Get over here, shithead!”


Cautiously, Izuku got to his feet, hoisting his backpack up his shoulder again, and approached Katsuki, who was half-facing the view of the city before him, and half staring him down. As soon as Izuku got within reaching distance, Katsuki leaned straight over and punched him square in the face.


Tears immediately welled into Izuku’s eyes from the force of the blow, as he cradled his nose. Feeling it gingerly, he could tell it wasn’t broken, but by the sharp pain he knew it was already bruising. The smaller male didn’t even realize he had fallen back onto his back again until he was scrambling away from Katsuki, trying desperately to move away from him as the other advanced closer and closer to him, like a predator drawing out his kill.


It was as if both Izuku and Katsuki had regressed back into their childhood selves.


“Kacchan,” Izuku choked out, already reaching up to shield his face with his arms. He felt something cool and heavy drip down his mouth. “Why, after all this time?”


The blonde grabbed his collar and pulled Izuku up off the ground effortlessly—as if he were picking up a ragdoll—and held him so that the two were the same height. His furious red eyes glared down into Izuku’s green ones. The eye contact was so painfully unnerving that Izuku was forced to look away, trying as hard as he could to protect himself not only from the predicted hit about to come, but also from the other’s harsh stare.


“Deku, you may have a quirk after all, but you’re not going to become a hero. Got it?”


“I.. What?” Was all Izuku could manage to say.


“Don’t make me fucking repeat myself,” Katsuki spat out, obviously exasperated, as he shook Izuku a little; his hands were beginning to heat up, and Izuku tried his best to lean away from Katsuki’s fists. “You think now that you’ve got a fucking quirk, you can fucking get into fucking U.A., and be a fucking hero, which you can’t. You’re still a useless piece of shit. Having some self-destructive quirk like yours won’t be able to carry your weak ass into a top-notch school. Stop fucking dreaming.”


Izuku, whose nose was now numb and bleeding and dribbling red spots across his chin and uniform, was having a hard time focusing on the content of Katsuki’s words. Rather, he noticed that Katsuki said the word ‘fuck’ five times and that he called Izuku’s quirk, “self-destructive,” which was rather ironic. Who was the one who had the explosion quirk, again?


“Kacchan,” Izuku started, bringing a hand up to wipe the blood from his upper lip, “I wasn’t thinking of applying for U.A… I was going to apply to a different school.”


“You better fucking be,” Katsuki snarled, seemingly not impressed. “I don’t want to have to see your stupid fucking face around me for three more shitty years, especially if all you’re doing is fucking wrecking yourself like a dumbass piece of shit. Not that you would even fucking get into U.A., bastard.”


Okay, Izuku thought, that had to be the most profanity said in one sentence, ever.


Then suddenly, as if the pain was only just kicking back in, fat tears began forming at the base of Izuku’s lower lashes, collecting and falling down his cheeks, mixing with his nosebleed. He wiped at his face weakly, and the corner of Katsuki’s mouth twitched in irritation.


“The only way I can help people is if I hurt myself,” Izuku mumbled to himself, a frown pulling deeply at his mouth. His eyes were stinging badly as more tears rolled down his cheeks. Humiliated, he sobbed. “What else am I supposed to do?”


Katsuki made a sudden noise of frustration and pulled Deku closer to snarl straight in his face.  “What the fuck do you mean? Isn’t it obvious?” His tone was no longer his usual malicious jeer. Instead, it was pure rage. His volume sharply escalated to an enraged yell.


“There’s nothing else I can do to help,” Izuku sobbed, his voice getting louder in protest and heavier with emotion, although he kept his face down-cast in shame.


Fists shaking with anger, Katsuki began shaking Izuku, the smaller boy dangling helplessly and holding onto Katsuki’s wrists, gasping for air. “You can help if you fucking stay on the sidelines and let people with the strong quirks take care of that shit so you don’t end up fucking killing yourself!”


“What if it’s too late?” Izuku yelled back, trying his best not to break down in tears. His nose hurt, his neck hurt, his back hurt, something deep inside him that he had been neglecting since that night three years ago hurt. “What if someone’s already gotten injured? What if someone is going to die?”


Katsuki looked scandalized that Izuku had the gall to scream back at him. Against his better judgment, Izuku only continued with the opportunity given to him by his old friend’s momentary silence, as everything he bottled up inside of him spilled out.


“You’ve got an amazing quirk, Kacchan,” he cried, hands trembling. “You can do so much for so many people. You can save them from bad guys. You can fight off robbers and serial killers and impress children and wow all of our classmates. You can inspire people to work hard and also become heroes. You’re going to make it into U.A., obviously, but... There’s something you can’t do. What if someone gets injured? What if someone almost gets killed? Sure, you can stop the bad guys and diffuse the situation, but what are you going to do when there’s already damage done? What are you going to do if you can’t protect someone? Are you going to explode them and hope that they get better? How is that going to do anything?”


“Deku...” Katsuki warned.


Izuku knew he was most likely going to get flung off the roof, but he couldn’t stop now.


“All my life I’ve been told that I’m worthless without a quirk, and now that I have one, apparently that’s no good either. I’m still not good enough for you and everyone else.”


Inko came to mind. The night where she cried and Izuku cried and they both knew that the hope the boy had to become a hero was slowly being crushed. Then, Katsuki came to mind again—how he ignored Izuku the next day, how he rejected him, how he didn’t want anything to do with him even though Izuku had a quirk—even though he wasn’t quirkless.


Izuku choked down more tears, and continued. “But... I know that I can do something that you can’t, Kacchan. I can save people’s lives if no one can do anything more for them. I can heal them and… I can help people. I… I can...”


“You think everyone deserves your fucking kindness?” Katsuki spoke, his voice, at first, nothing more than a harsh whisper. “You think they want you to fucking die for them?!”


“I don’t have to die!” Izuku screamed, tears beginning to fall more rapidly down his face, this time, not because of his bloody nose. “I won’t be like my dad! I’ll train and learn more about my quirk and understand it more so that, that doesn’t happen to me, too! I’ll help people!” Desperately, Izuku tried to pry Katsuki’s hands away from his neck, not even flinching when the blonde’s hands began to heat up and spark. He relentlessly thrashed in Katsuki’s hold. “I’ll save them!”


In a flash of hot bright light, Katsuki raised Izuku up and then threw him down against the ground with a fiery hot explosion.


Fucking idiot!” Katsuki screamed, his voice hoarse and raspy and full of pent-up fury. “Who’s going to save you?!”


Izuku coughed and curled up on himself from the pain of the impact. Finally, he was able to use his hands to wipe away at his tears. His hands and sleeves came back bloody. Slowly, he looked back at his old childhood friend, whom he so greatly admired, and smiled, deliriously. The blonde was heaving in pure rage, his breath ragged, his fists clenched and sweaty and already blistering red.


“You were the one who saved me last time, Kacchan,” he coughed. “Shouldn’t you know the answer to that?”


Katsuki was still, and it was silent except for the sounds of both of their labored breathing. After what seemed like an eternity, the blonde male dropped to his feet and sat down, leaning against the back of the railing, eyes closed and fists still clenched.


“You know you’re gonna fucking die,” Katsuki spat out, looking exhausted.


“We all are, one day,” Izuku replied after a while, managing to sit up. Slowly, he scooched over to where his childhood friend sat, and took his hand. Izuku felt Katsuki jerk away in shock, but only reached out and grabbed the other’s fingers once more. Katsuki’s hands were rough and calloused.


It had been so long since Izuku had used his quirk that he almost forgot how it felt. Light wrapped around the two boys’ connected fingers and Izuku felt a rush of adrenaline as the intense and familiar feelings of worry, relief, and anger flooded into him, stimulating all the nerves in his body. Red hot blisters and burns blossomed against the pale skin of his unmarked hands.


Izuku felt nostalgic. He let go of Katsuki and moved away again to lie down on the ground.


“You’re so freaking stupid,” Katsuki jabbed harshly at him again, but they both knew it was a weak insult.


Izuku only nodded, and the two sat there in silence for a while, as if recovering. The sun was setting quickly and before they knew it, even the teaching staff could be seen from the roof, exiting the gates and going home for the day.


Katsuki started to stand up. “Don’t fucking tell anyone about this.”


“I won’t,” Izuku replied, slowly getting to his feet. His nosebleed had stopped some time ago, but he knew he was still covered in blood and his eyes were puffy and swollen from crying. Inko would have a heart attack when he came home like this.


“Wipe your fucking blood,” Katsuki spat, and shoved a handkerchief at Izuku. “Do you want your mom to throw a fucking fit?”


“You’re the one who did this to me,” Izuku complained under his breath, but accepted the cloth anyway and wiped at his eyes and mouth. The handkerchief came away deeply stained.


The two left the roof quietly, going down the stairs and to the entry room of the building where they went to their lockers and changed out their shoes. Katsuki walked over to Izuku’s locker, already holding his bags.
“I’m leaving. Don’t fucking follow me home.”


“We live in the same area,” Izuku muttered again, but nodded in spite of himself. “I have something to do anyway.”


The blonde stared him down for one last uncomfortable moment, before he turned the other way and walked off. Izuku only watched the disappearing figure of the other male’s back for a few seconds before he went back to his own business.


Somehow, seeing Kacchan walk away from him this time, wasn’t as painful as before.


 

It was the next day, an hour before class began, when Izuku made a mistake that veered his life off the set course destiny had prepared for him. In hindsight, he was grateful for what happened—but it’s always odd to think of how one small action seemed to completely warp everything that was set out in front of him for his future.


As Izuku left his house, he decided to take a longer route to school since he had time, to think. Inko had been waiting for him yesterday when he came home and was immediately concerned over his bruised nose. Izuku had cleaned up the blood beforehand, and managed to convince his mother that there was an accident in P.E.. He had run up the stairs to his room before she could inquire about the burns and blisters on his hands.


As he had run his fingers under cold water for what seemed like half an hour to get the searing pain to go away, he wondered if Katsuki had to do that, too, when his quirk first manifested and he was still getting used to it. It was uncomfortable, trying to imagine his childhood friend in any state of weakness, or in any state at all; and now, it was also deeply confusing.


“Who’s going to save you?”


Tiredly, the green-haired boy rubbed his eyes.

As Izuku passed the grocery store, he quietly wondered whether or not it would be possible for he and Katsuki to ever fully reconcile. In only a couple more months, Kacchan would be attending U.A. academy, and Izuku would be somewhere else, instead. Though yesterday’s fight had reaffirmed his lifelong dream of one day being a hero to help others, he had to be realistic. Izuku wasn’t sure how possible it was that he could end up studying at U.A. Perhaps he would have to settle for a different heroics school.


Though it stung, Izuku knew that becoming a hero in the long run was worth well more than the school he studied at. He did long to attend the alma mater of All Might, of course; who didn’t? But not everyone could pass an entrance exam that was advantageous to offensive quirks.


Turning right at the next corner, Izuku walked down the sidewalk and into the convenience store. The cashier there nodded a greeting at him before going back to his phone. The middle-schooler smiled timidly back, before heading over to the tabloids where the latest news on heroes resided.


Izuku scanned over the headlines—most of the magazines were centered around All Might, of course, but plenty others had to do with other top heroes as well—like Mt. Lady, Kamui Woods, Endeavor, Edgeshot, Best Jeanist, and more. With an hour before class began, Izuku grabbed a magazine on All Might and one about Best Jeanist before heading up to the cashier.


“Heroes, huh,” the worker said, dully, as he scanned Izuku’s purchase. “You planning on applying for U.A., kid?”
“Uhm, no,” Izuku replied, shyly. It felt more painful admitting it out loud, than in his head. His green eyes stared at his shoes. “I just like heroes, that’s all.”


The cashier placed Izuku’s magazines in front of him and accepted his money, giving him change at a slow pace. “Well, then, happy reading.”


As Izuku left, he flipped through the magazine on Best Jeanist, scouring the paper meticulously as he absorbed information on the number four pro hero. His quirk was really something amazing—Best Jeanist could manipulate the fibers in peoples’ clothing and bend them to his will; meaning he had control over most people—unless they were wearing latex, or of course, naked.


Quietly, Izuku wondered how Best Jeanist fared in the U.A. entrance exam. He could’ve sabotaged all of his fellow exam-takers by keeping them from attacking the robots, but how did he get any points from destroying robots himself? Granted, he could’ve smashed the other kids around and into the robots, but that didn’t seem very heroic.


Izuku put the magazine away and took out the All Might article, as he moved closer and closer to the school gates. No one else seemed to be on campus yet, so he decided it would be all right if he began reading. Opening up to the front page, Izuku excitedly flipped over to the first picture of the top pro hero, not bothering to fight off the smile on his face.


All Might saves a family of eight from a hostile villain in a hostage situation!


Izuku began to read, practically devouring the words off the page. He had already seen other media coverage on the rescue where All Might had punched a mutant-class villain away from a mother and father who were trying to protect their four children and two nieces. The villain had gone flying and crashed into the ground so hard, it had created an earthquake in the city. Everyone in the nearby vicinity who was in danger from the tremors was then saved, again by All Might, and brought to a safe-zone away from tall buildings.


“He’s amazing,” Izuku breathed out, reading more of the details and the interviews conducted with the family who had been saved. They had nothing but praise and heartfelt thanks to shower upon the hero.


The next couple pages described the attack All Might had used to subdue the villain and how strong it was. It was a pretty good attempt at analyzing All Might’s quirk, Izuku supposed, but All Might himself had never confirmed or denied if the observations were true or were important to what his quirk actually was. In fact, no one knew what All Might’s quirk was but him, though there was plenty of speculation as to what it might be.


Izuku wondered if All Might had to train for the U.A. entrance exam, and how he fared compared to his classmates. Did he rank first? Did he automatically get into the heroics department? Did he get into class 1-A? What did the teachers think about him? Was he good at academics? Did his classmates like him? Did they—
Izuku fell on his butt after colliding with something as sturdy as a wall.


The green-haired male looked up and paled, realizing that the ‘something’ was actually a ‘someone,’ and the ‘someone’ looked as if they were on the brink of death.


“I’m, I’m so sorry!” Izuku managed to yelp out, his eyes taking in the tall, lanky man’s emaciated figure, his hollow, sunken-in blue eyes, and the blood running down his chin. The man looked as if he were about to collapse, holding his left side with shaking, bony hands. Quickly, Izuku stuffed his magazine into his backpack. “Are you all right, sir?”


“I’m good, my boy,” the man gurgled out, through the blood. With one hand still pressed against his side, he pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and pressed it to his mouth. “This, happens, uh, a lot. Nothing to worry about.”


“B-But,” Izuku stammered out, and then froze. A deep red stain was beginning to spread around the man’s side, through his fingers. He only looked at Izuku, seemingly unaware of the wound on his side. “You’re also bleeding over there!”


“Normal,” the man spat out more blood, seeming unconcerned, but still pained. He tried to sidestep Izuku. “I’ll get it checked up and be on my way.”

 

“No! I can help!” Izuku got out, without even thinking, as he stepped in front of the man to block his way. He froze, remembering all the talks he had with his mother—but then he looked back at the man’s bleeding form and pained smile, and Inko’s words left his brain. “I have a healing quirk; I can help you out. It must hurt a lot, right?”


The man paused, staring at Izuku with concerned eyes. “My boy, it’s not your problem to worry about.”


“I bumped into you and made your wound worse, probably, so it is now,” Izuku replied quietly, and without a moment more of hesitation, gently grabbed the taller man’s shoulder (he was really tall, for someone so skinny). Izuku felt the man freeze up at the unexpected contact, and he tried to ignore just how easy it was to feel the other’s bone jutting out through his suit.


Izuku concentrated the light as to not blind anyone passing by, and activated his quirk, bracing himself for pain.
It was mostly in vain, though. Whatever Izuku had been preparing himself for was nothing compared to what he actually received.


The minute Izuku felt the wound begin to open on his left side, right below his heart and over his ribcage, he lost consciousness from the searing hot pain exploding in his skin. The sensation was unlike anything he had ever felt before; the only thing it was comparable to was being branded with a hot iron, with the metal sinking deep into his flesh, touching and scarring his bones.


The last thing he saw before he completely passed out was the man’s concerned face staring down at him and blood beginning to flow down his own side.


 

Izuku woke up in a soft bed, covered in what seemed to be thirty blankets, with a fortress of pillows surrounding him. His first instinct was to wipe at his mouth. His hand came away bloody.


“Oh dear,” a tiny, cute voice croaked out. An old woman approached Izuku. He weakly turned to look at her, as she came close to him, and patted his head. “You’re awake.”


It took Izuku only a few seconds to realize just who was touching him.


“R-Recovery,” he managed to wheeze out, immediately feeling intense pain in his side once again. “You’re… Recovery Girl.”


The old woman’s eyebrows raised ever so slightly, and either out of shock—or pain, whichever, Izuku lost consciousness once again.


 

When Izuku woke up for the second time, still in the same bed, Recovery Girl was sitting in a chair next to him, reading a magazine. She looked at him and smiled, and he wondered if he was reliving the same odd dream of waking up to a childhood hero once again.


“You’re awake,” she repeated, and patted him gently. “Don’t be alarmed, okay? I’m Recovery Girl, and my friend brought you in here when you collapsed on the sidewalk.”


Izuku tried to speak up, but found it difficult. His left side still burned with pain, and he could only whimper instead. The pro hero smiled in understanding and held a glass of water up to his lips for him, and tilted it back. The water wasn’t too cold, and he gratefully drank.


“I’m Midoriya Izuku,” he finally said, once he had gathered up his strength. Slowly, she helped him sit up. He took the time to look around at his surroundings—everything suggested he was in some kind of infirmary.


“Well, Midoriya-kun,” she said, with a friendly, motherly tone, “you must have an exceptionally powerful healing quirk. You sure helped out my friend earlier today.”


Izuku blinked, and a skeletal man dripping blood flashed back into his conscious memory. He winced, and wondered how it was even possible the man was alive if he had such intense chronic pain. Was it a condition? “Is he all right?” Izuku immediately asked.


“He’s fine now,” Recovery Girl assured him, and patted his head. Izuku jumped a little, and almost gasped—Recovery Girl touched him! She giggled at his nervous nature, and patted his head again. “Well, he’s fine thanks to you, anyway. He has a medical condition that flares up every now and then, which means he ends up coughing blood. Pretty scary, huh? He’s fine as long as he doesn’t overexert himself when it gets to that point.”
Izuku sagged in relief, sympathy surging through him.

“I thought he was going to die,” he said softly, his voice nearly coming out as a whimper.


Recovery Girl smiled and patted him again. The way she comforted him reminded Izuku a bit of his mother. “He wanted to see if you were all right, boy. How did your quirk put you into such an awful state of being?”
“Uhm,” Izuku attempted—he was about to spill his guts to her; he was going to tell Recovery Girl that he healed the injured man by linking their bodies together and then taking on the other man’s pain—when he realized just how concerned that would make her for him, and how bad it would make the man feel. Kacchan’s words sounded back in his own ears—his childhood friend was right. No one wanted to be saved at the expense of another person’s safety.


Did that mean he was selfish? If he healed people regardless of what they wanted, and made them suffer through the guilt of seeing him in pain?


Izuku was quiet for a second.


Maybe they didn’t have to suffer if they didn’t know.


“I was born sickly,” he said slowly, squeezing his fingers together into weak fists. “I don’t have a lot of stamina and my mom is a protective person, so I don’t use it that much, so, uh, whenever I do use my quirk, it takes a toll on my health and sometimes I get tired and faint,” Izuku explained, doing his best to sound natural. Then he added, “it’s fine as long as I don’t overuse my quirk, I was just tired this morning when I healed your friend, and all.”


He studied the pro hero’s kind, smiling face, while sweating.


“I see,” Recovery Girl replied, not seeming to detect his lie. She opened up a jar of ginger candies. “Well, have one for now. I’ll call my friend in so he can see that you’re doing better now.”


Izuku accepted one of the small hard candies and popped it in his mouth, nervously watching the small old woman leave the room. The candy clinked against his fake tooth in the back, and he ran his tongue over it silently. He heard Recovery Girl talking to someone outside of the room, and a few moments later, the door opened to reveal the old woman leading in the same tired-looking man from earlier.


“Uhm, hello,” Izuku greeted nervously, fingers wiggling over the soft cloth sheets over his lap. “How are you feeling?”


“I should be the one asking you that, my boy,” the man said with a tired smile. He accepted a ginger candy from Recovery Girl and then pulled up a chair next to Izuku’s bed. “I’m sorry you had to experience that. I should’ve discouraged you better—or physically stopped you from healing me. Recovery Girl tells me you’ve got low stamina and using your quirk could’ve really hurt you.”


“It only makes me faint if I’m tired,” Izuku quickly lied. “And, uh, don’t feel bad about me. It was my choice, and I wanted to help because I bumped into you and…” He stopped talking obediently as the lanky man held up a hand.


“My name is Yagi,” the man introduced, offering a handshake.


“Midoriya Izuku,” he replied, and shook the proffered hand. Yagi’s fingers were long and bony but his hand was nearly four times larger than Izuku’s. He had never seen someone so skeletal, but still so tall and large, and he felt rude as he continued to stare in curiosity.


“Izuku, my boy,” Yagi started, rubbing at his chin thoughtfully, “Recovery Girl told you, but I’ve got a chronic medical condition, that, uh, is pretty serious.”


Izuku nodded.


“Whenever it’s aggravated, I cough up blood, and I get pretty weak. When you bumped into me, you didn’t aggravate it though, so don’t you worry—it was from something earlier that I was coughing up blood. It wasn’t your fault. It happens often so I’m used to it, and, uh…” Yagi trailed off.


“Yagi is shy about his condition, so he hopes you don’t tell anyone about his sickness,” Recovery Girl piped in helpfully, smiling at both males.


“Yeah, that’s it,” Yagi confirmed, laughing sheepishly.


Izuku nodded, sympathizing with Yagi. Illness was nothing to be ashamed of—but he understood. “Of course,” he said, “you’ve got nothing to worry about.”


“Thank you very much, my boy,” Yagi said gratefully, his thin, bony-jaw uplifting as he gave the middle-schooler a big smile. “I appreciate this, and how you helped me. I do feel a bit better now.”


“I’m glad,” Izuku replied. Even though Recovery Girl and Yagi didn’t know about the truth of his quirk, they were expressing simple gratitude toward him, and it felt good. Izuku had never experienced it before. Something hopeful fluttered in his chest.


“You can stay here and rest as long as you want, sweetheart,” Recovery Girl offered. “Yagi and I can call your school and let them know about the situation so you don’t get marked tardy.”


“We insist,” Yagi added.


Izuku was tempted to nurse his pain in the warm covers for just a little longer (and while he was at it, get Recovery Girl’s signature), but he knew doing so would have the school alert his mother and he didn’t want another situation like the one years ago. He had made a promise to himself not to worry her or make her cry again, and he was going to keep it.


“It’s okay,” Izuku told them, with a smile. He did his best to mask the ache of his muscles as he pulled the covers off and swung his legs over the side of the bed. “I feel a lot more rested and I think I’ll be fine for the rest of the day.”


“Are you sure?” Yagi asked, in concern.


“I’m sure,” Izuku replied, with another difficult grin. His voice was still a bit hoarse, but he could blame that on his just waking up.


“Well then,” Recovery Girl said, picking up the telephone from near her desk, “I’ll call someone and have them give you a ride to your school.”


Izuku almost opened his mouth to interject when he realized he had no idea where he actually was—and he wouldn’t be able to make it far on foot when he was still feeling the effects of Yagi’s pain. “Uhm, thank you,” he said, quietly.


Recovery Girl only smiled and began to talk to someone over the phone. Izuku could hear faint traces of the other person’s voice over the line. They sounded less than thrilled to be asked such a favor. Recovery Girl hung up, cutting the other person on the line off, and gave Izuku a thumbs up. He smiled weakly in response.


“You’ve got a pretty great quirk, kid,” Yagi started conversationally, still smiling pleasantly at Izuku. “It’s powerful and despite the stamina thing, I can see you have control over it.”


“Thank you,” Izuku replied, surprised at such a comment—until he remembered that Yagi didn’t know how his quirk actually worked.


Yagi nodded, “you thinking of going into heroics?”


Izuku’s cheeks reddened, as his mouth gaped a little in shock. “Uhm, I… I don’t know,” he lied. It was the first time someone had asked him about his aspirations for heroics in a serious, genuine way. It was kind of touching. He started talking before he could stop himself. “I don’t really have a conventional quirk that would be useful as a pro hero, but I can’t say I’ve never thought of it. I mean, take U.A.’s hero entrance exam, for example. There’s no way I’d pass because I don’t have a physical quirk, but I’d still want to enter the department and, I… I’d really love to help people if I could, y’know?”


Yagi looked surprised, but nodded with an understanding look in his eyes. “That’s really admirable son. It’s a shame that the entrance exam is so commonly modeled in that way.”


Izuku let out a breath, and sagged a little. “Yeah. It really is.”


Yagi grinned, “but don’t let conventions hold you back, my boy. There are other ways of getting into the heroics department without starting at the entrance exam. For example—ah, the sports festival, the winner gets to transfer from General to Heroics, and the support department often nurtures fine heroes and heroines who don’t have conventional quirks but still make great impacts on the community!”


Izuku nodded, “that’s true.” He’d seen film of some of the sports festivals— a lot of the winners were often kids with unconventional quirks from the General Department—those who had failed the entrance exam because of the faults of the test, not because of their own merits.


“And,” Yagi started again, “even those who don’t take the conventional way of becoming pro heroes can be impactful and important as well! Take Recovery Girl for example! She’s a healer, and a great one at that, and even without a physical quirk, she’s saved thousands of people!”


The old woman smiled at Yagi from where she sat at the desk.


“In fact, I’ve been healed by many pro heroes with such quirks, all of them just as heroic as any other…” Yagi trailed off, thoughtfully, and then smiled a little. “You have plenty of options, my boy. Don’t let old traditions and tests hold you back.”


Izuku trembled a little, overcome with this man’s optimism, and was about to open his mouth to reply when the door suddenly opened. He turned and almost jumped to see a very tall man, with long, un-brushed black hair, smothered in some kind of… bandage-scarf?, half zipped-up in a yellow sleeping bag.


“What,” he breathed out quietly, as Recovery Girl toddled over to the man and giggled.


“Aizawa-sensei! Thank you for coming,” she laughed, and he grumpily shuffled his way over to her, blowing some stray hair out of his face.


“It’s… no problem,” he grunted, which, by his tone, obviously meant it was a problem. He turned his entire body as he looked at Yagi first, then at Izuku. The green-haired boy would’ve laughed at how much he resembled a human caterpillar if not for how scary the man was.


“Shouta,” Yagi greeted happily, with a wave. “How are you?”


“Yagi,” the man bristled, seeming disturbed by the other’s glee so early in the morning. “I was doing fine just a few minutes ago.” He looked to Izuku, then to Recovery Girl. “Is this the kid?”


Recovery Girl nodded. “That’s Iz

uku—Izuku, that’s Aizawa-sensei, he’s going to give you a ride back to your school.”


Izuku swallowed, and looked to the imposing caterpillar-man. “Nice to meet you, uhm. I go to school at…”


Aizawa cut him off, muttering something. “Shizuoka Middle, right?”


Izuku gaped a little. “Y-Yes. Uhm, how did you…”


“It’s the only middle school within walking distance of here,” Aizawa replied, and shuffled a little in his sleeping bag. Suddenly, it unzipped, and he stepped out of it. “Plus, your uniform is a gakuran instead of a blazer. Shizuoka’s the only middle school that still uses gakurans instead of blazers.”


“Oh,” Izuku replied, still surprised. He looked down at his buttons sheepishly.


“Drive safely and make sure young Izuku gets to school all right,” Yagi requested, and as Izuku stood up slowly from the bed, he sat down in his place.


Aizawa grunted in response.


“Bye, sweetheart,” Recovery Girl waved, and Yagi smiled. Aizawa tucked his folded sleeping bag under his arm and immediately started from the room, as Izuku jumped to attention and followed him out the door with a quick wave goodbye.


Izuku’s joints and muscles were on fire as he struggled to keep up with Aizawa’s long strides. His attention was drawn to his surroundings moments later—a long white-painted hallway, with the end of the corridor leading to a high-arching window that overlooked the bottom of the building, fenced in by a tall golden gate. It appeared they were on the second floor.


“Uhm, Aizawa… sensei,” Izuku timidly asked, “where are we?”


“School,” he grunted, and he offered no other description. Izuku stifled a sigh.


He followed Aizawa through a doorway, down two flights of stairs, and then through a large lobby-like room. He managed to keep up well enough, and Aizawa led him out of the building through a large back-exit into a parking lot. Aizawa pulled a key ring out of his pocket and unlocked a modest black car near the back of the lot.
“Get in,” he said gruffly, walking over to the trunk so he could put his sleeping bag away.


Shyly, Izuku got in the car in one of the backseats, and put on his seat belt gingerly as to not aggravate any of his muscles. Aizawa got in a moment later, tired and sluggish in his movements. For a second, Izuku was worried about Aizawa as a driver—seeing how tired he was—but as Aizawa pulled out of the stall, and as they drove out of the lot, Izuku found he was concerned for nothing. The man may have been sleep-deprived, but that didn’t seem to impede him.


It was only a ten-minute drive to Shizuoka Middle School, and it was a drive spent in silence. Aizawa pulled up to the side of Shizuoka’s school gates and unlocked the doors.


“Recovery Girl called ahead and let them know you’d be late. She explained everything,” he said gruffly, turning from the driver’s seat. “Go straight to class.”


“G-Got it,” Izuku replied, still flustered, as he slung his backpack over his shoulders again. “Thank you for the ride.”


Aizawa only grunted noncommittally in response; Izuku didn’t wait for anything else as he exited the car and quietly closed the door. He counted until two before Aizawa drove away. Izuku stared at the car moving out of the street before he turned, and looked up at Shizuoka’s gates.


He shuffled over to the intercom, and pressed the receive-button.


“Uhm, excuse me,” Izuku offered, “it’s, uh, Midoriya Izuku. I think someone called in to explain my tardiness. I was just dropped off now…”


“That’s correct,” a woman’s voice said. “Midoriya-kun, the gates are going to open, be careful.”


Izuku stepped back and the gates slowly swiveled open for him. A little embarrassed by the situation, he tiptoed in quickly, and then started out for the main building. He checked his watch—it was ten forty-two, which meant he had missed homeroom and history. Shame.


It took Izuku only a few minutes to get to his classroom. For a second, he lingered outside the door, feeling anxiety begin to bubble in his stomach—from the corner of his eye, he saw that the class must have been in a free-work period, because Matsukawa-sensei was sitting down at the desk, reading a textbook. Slowly, Izuku pushed the door open, and shyly walked through to the front of the room.


“Ah, Midoriya-kun,” Matsukawa said, noticing the tired-looking student, “the office called in your excused tardiness. You can go take a seat.”


“Thank you,” Izuku said, then quickly bowed. He made his way to his seat in the back of the classroom.


A few of his classmates gave him curious looks, but seemed to come to the consensus that boring old quirkless “Deku” couldn’t be so late to school for any exciting reasons, and eventually they went back to fooling around again. Izuku sighed a little in relief.


The school day went by slowly, with nothing notable happening during any of his classes. Izuku noticed Katsuki was as disinterested in school as usual, though he didn’t know if the other had noticed his tardiness to school (or if he was even concerned, for that matter). By the time the bell rang and Matsukawa-sensei excused them from class, Izuku had almost fallen asleep from boredom.


“Make sure you all turn in your career forms to me tomorrow!” The old man called out to his class, as students raucously packed up their things and pushed out the doors. Izuku was a little slower as he gathered his things—as usual, he was the last person left in the room.


Politely, Izuku waved goodbye to Matsukawa-sensei, before he left the classroom as well. As he walked down the stairs, he pulled out the magazine he had been reading earlier in the morning before he had run into Yagi and zipped his bag closed.


“Maybe there’ll be an incident today, and I’ll get to watch a hero in action,” Izuku mused to himself, as he exited the main building. The gates were still wide open even though the majority of students had already rushed to get home. Izuku’s body still hurt pretty bad from healing Yagi, and he didn’t want to come home exhausted to his mom, so he figured he’d wait at a café in the shopping center a few blocks away for a little bit to get some energy back before going home.


Izuku checked his watch—he had time.


He chose the café closest to the entrance of the shopping center. It looked quiet enough for him to relax a little. As Izuku entered, a nice middle-aged waitress came over to guide him to a seat. He ordered a simple cup of ginseng tea, and she took it down and went off to the kitchen. Izuku put his magazine down and smoothed out the crumpled pages, finding his previously interrupted place in a section on All Might’s quirk.


“All Might’s quirk seems to be one that increases strength, speed, resilience, and stamina…” Izuku mumbled, quietly reading out loud to himself. “It enhances all six senses… Basically, making him superhuman…” Unimpressed, Izuku skimmed through the rest of the article. It was full of obvious observations, nothing new or insightful. He sighed.


Giving up on the interview portion of the magazine, Izuku flipped over to the pictures of All Might in the back. Most of them were taken as the superhero was fighting villains committing crimes in the city. There was one of All Might delivering his Detroit Smash to an unlucky gang-member with a gigantification quirk; two other pictures were of All Might carrying hostages out of an abandoned warehouse. Izuku smiled at the image of the little boy clinging to All Might’s arm.


Izuku sighed as he remembered Yagi’s kind, encouraging words. Of course there were ways to become a meaningful hero even without a physical quirk; it was just harder to do so. There was no way he could be admitted into the heroics department at U.A., even if he tried his best and took the exam; and it would still be brutal to try and enter through the General Department through the sports festival. The Support Department wasn’t a doozy to get into, either.


Izuku tried to clear out the pessimism from his mind. He would do whatever it took to become a meaningful hero who helped people, regardless of the level of difficulty. Encouraging himself, the green-haired boy opened up his backpack, took out a pen and the career form from yesterday, and carefully erased “police officer” from the paper, penning in “pro hero” instead.


He had made up his mind.


“Here, sweetie,” a voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Izuku’s head whipped around in surprise, and he relaxed when he saw it was just the waitress bringing him his tea. She smiled at him and put it down on a coaster, before she caught sight of his career form.


“Oh, how wonderful!” She exclaimed enthusiastically, and Izuku winced a little, shyly folding the form in half and slipping it into his bag. “Are you getting ready to apply to your choice of high school? And you want to go into heroics?”


“Uhm, yes ma’am,” he replied timidly, reaching for his tea. “That’s the plan.”


“Best of luck,” she wished him, good-naturedly. “If you work hard, I’m sure you’ll be able to do it.”


Izuku smiled at her gratefully as she left to go wait on another table. He sipped his tea, sighing as it warmed him up, and pulled his career form out again. Next question…

 

What is your first-choice high-school for next year?


Izuku slowly, and cautiously, wrote down “U.A. Heroics Department” before losing his courage and crossing out “Heroics Department” and replacing it with “General Department/Support Department.” He sat for a few moments, staring at his answer, debating over which one he should cross out, before he gave up and moved onto the next question. He would decide later.


How will your quirk help you succeed in the future?


Izuku frowned. God, what did that even mean? He tapped his pencil on the table for a few seconds, trying to figure out how to answer. Well—because he had a healing quirk, it would help him save civilian lives or support pro heroes with physical quirks. Izuku penned that in, and then added that a healing quirk made him seem more approachable than others with more aggressive quirks.


He moved on down the line, through more and more very broad questions, until he reached the last page of the form. Izuku yawned, and checked his watch; he had more than an hour until Inko would wonder where he was. He finished his last sip of tea and then put the form away. He would finish it at home.


Just as Izuku opened up his magazine, a loud sound resounded through the room, sounding like a sharp popping noise; it was so powerful that some of the decorations hanging from the ceiling of the café rattled. The waitress from before shrieked in shock, and customers immediately began looking in the direction from which the sound came. There was something out in the middle of the shopping center—some giant silhouette—writhing violently in the middle of the square.


Another loud noise resounded through the shopping center. Customers began to panic, immediately grabbing their belongings and flooding out the door—and the waitress, looking frightened, ran into the kitchen, pulling out several cooks and the other waiting staff. Startled and confused, Izuku grabbed his backpack and the magazine on the table before following the waitress running out of the café.


There was already a huge crowd pouring out of the many stores of the shopping center, all of them looking horrified at the massive blob of… goo?... rolling around the square. Izuku squinted, trying to look over the shoulder of a particularly tall man blocking his line of vision—and he saw the blob was actually a person, most likely someone with some kind of slime-quirk, with sunken in holes-for-eyes and a dripping, bubbling mouth.


A woman a few feet away from him screamed in horror, and that was when Izuku looked closer at the blob—to see that there was a person suspended inside of the gel body, arms outstretched, shooting off explosions that shot chunks of slime around the square. The blob-man laughed, or gurgled, as the slime only slithered back toward his liquid body where it rejoined the rest of him. The person inside the gel body was getting tired of using his quirk. He was suffocating, Izuku realized.


He was also Kacchan.


Izuku’s eyes widened in absolute horror—as, for one second, he made direct eye contact with the blonde-haired boy trapped inside the villain’s clutches. Katsuki’s red eyes were dilated in some powerful emotion—fear—and he made some kind of frustrated, cornered-animal-like noise before letting loose another onslaught of powerful explosions that only temporarily scattered parts of the villain’s body. His arms were burnt up and trembling.


And before Izuku knew it, he was pushing past the crowd as fast as his weakened muscles would let him. He could hear Katsuki scream at him through the slime, “Get back you fucking idiot! What the fuck do you think you’re doing? Get the fuck away!” But suddenly, Katsuki’s words were just background noise, along with the screaming of the crowd.


Hands reached out to try to grab Izuku’s sleeves, to try and stop him, to try and shelter him. Izuku barely registered the voices of a couple pro-heroes whom he admired (his thoughts were not “I want an autograph!” but, “why aren’t you helping Kacchan? He’s going to die and you’re not doing anything!”) He ripped himself out of their grasp. Their fingertips brushed his body as he ran out into the square.


Every part of Izuku’s body was on fire as he skidded to a stop, pulled his backpack off of his shoulders, and flung it as hard as he could at the slime villain. The bag hit the surface of his body, slime flying, before it entered the gel mass and began to sink deep inside. The gurgling mass of liquid slowly turned to face him, dripping mouth curling into a sinister smile.


“A little boy?” It bubbled, hollow eye sockets shifting back and forth, appraising him. “Trying to play hero?”


From within its body, Katsuki screamed violently, shooting off more explosions. He was weakening so quickly that the explosions no longer even affected the villain’s body. Face red from oxygen deprivation and utter fatigue, Katsuki looked at Izuku, and mouthed, don’t you fucking dare.


Without hesitation, Izuku ran forward.


The villain’s body swayed with the force of Izuku’s body, as the boy ran straight into the liquid mass. The villain gurgled in surprise, before laughing as the green-haired male was suddenly absorbed into a swirling mass of sewage slime. Izuku nearly choked in disgust, before he forced his mouth closed.


His vision was distorted, but he knew Katsuki was suspended only a few feet before him. His childhood friend was seething, trying to punch him in the face—but Izuku only moved his way through the sludge, grabbing one of the blonde’s outstretched fists.


I have a plan, Izuku mouthed, holding onto Katsuki’s hand as tightly as he could. Please, help me.


Trembling and close to passing out, Katsuki only clenched his jaw and moved his head slightly in response. As his eyes began to close, Izuku activated his quirk. He did nothing to hide the blinding white light that surrounded both of them—and he forgot to keep his mouth closed as he screamed silently at the pain of burnt skin and blisters and suffocation—but he did not let go of Katsuki’s hand. The slime villain made a noise of confusion as it tried to figure out what was going on inside of it.


Izuku let go of Katsuki’s hand, the blonde suddenly moving with increased capability—and he spread his limbs out as far as he could, making himself as large as possible within the villain’s body.


“What… What are you doing,” the villain gurgled, suddenly trying to expel Izuku from its body.


The green-haired male only resisted the expulsion, and activated his quirk.


The slime villain’s body began to shift from liquid, to half-solid, to liquid again; it screamed in horror as the volume of its body compressed and then expanded, over and over again. Whenever it began to resemble a human, burn marks appeared all over its massive form, and every particle of sludge began to tremble as if aching in pain. Still surrounded by bright light, Izuku turned to look for Katsuki, and prayed the other could read lips. Desperately, he mouthed a message.


Katsuki nodded and grabbed Izuku’s arm, pulling him as close as possible. With considerable power, he threw out both arms, fingers crackling with energy unaffected by its liquid surroundings. The biggest explosion Izuku had ever observed Katsuki to manage built up at his fingertips.


The blonde held onto the energy for a few seconds—Izuku counted them.


Then, Katsuki let go.


The villain’s weakened liquid body immediately exploded, sludge and slime flying everywhere around the square, coating the floor and shops and crowd. Izuku and Katsuki immediately hit the concrete from a solid four-foot drop, cushioned only by a thick layer of slime on the ground.


Izuku’s ears were ringing so painfully he could not hear anything but the soft ringing of an ambulance somewhere close, even though he knew Katsuki was yelling profanity at him as he shook him. Suddenly there were two Katsukis in front of him. Out of the corner of his eye, Izuku saw his backpack, dripping with slime, and realized his magazine and career form were probably ruined.


“Oh no,” Izuku breathed out, suddenly feeling very exhausted. “Oh…”


“You better not fucking pass out on me, you,” Katsuki choked, and coughed into his sleeve. He held down a coughing fit and continued to shake Izuku, back and forth. The green-haired male made a soft noise of protest, his eyelids beginning to droop.


“You goddamn fucking nerd!” Katsuki began to scream, his voice hoarse as he continued to cough out liquid, “don’t you fucking dare! Don’t you fucking dare!”


Izuku tried his best to listen to Kacchan, but he was too tired and he couldn’t help it and he fell right asleep.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s eyes opened.

 

Then closed.

 

Blearily, the green-haired boy attempted to make his surroundings out—white room, curtain-dividers, IV drip and heart-rate monitor, chairs lined up near the window.  The room’s lighting was dim.  The realization that he had ended up back in the hospital wasn’t really surprising.  Although his train of thought and recent memories were blurry and confused, Izuku could recall taking a painful fall.

 

“Izukkun?”  A voice carefully whispered, “are you awake?”

 

Although he was still groggy, Izuku immediately perked at the sound of his mother’s voice.  He turned his head as carefully as he could and was met with the sight of his teary-eyed mother at his left side, sitting in a chair and covered with a knit blanket.  Her lap was covered in tissues. 

 

Something in Izuku’s chest shattered as he quaked with a sudden onslaught of guilt.  Fat tears gathered at his lower lashes and weighed down on his lids before they slid down his cheeks; he let out a soft whimpering sound, something pitiful and sad, and his mother mimicked the noise and tears as she gingerly wrapped her arms around him.

 

“Izukkun,” she sobbed, “I was so, so scared.”

 

“I’m sorry,” the boy replied, quivering in her arms.  “I’m so, so sorry, mom.”

 

“You know how I felt about all of this, ever since you came home that one night, all bloody,” she whispered, fingers clutching the back of his hospital gown, “you were doing well for a while, too.  I thought you had given up on… this.”

 

Izuku scrunched his face up, trying not to let his mother know just how much her words hurt him.  “I don’t,” he started, trying to pick the right words, “I don’t think I’d ever given up on wanting to be a hero, before. I don’t think I’ll ever give up…”

 

Inko let loose a pained sob, “I know, honey.  I know that, now.”

 

The hand tightly gripping onto his back slowly relented, patting him instead as Izuku hiccupped and sobbed, trying desperately not to completely break down in guilt like his body wanted him to.  Eventually, Inko quieted herself, rubbing her son’s back. 

 

“Shh,” she whispered to Izuku, “get some rest.  It’s going to be okay.”

 

Nothing really felt okay, but Izuku didn’t have it in him to disagree with her.  His eyelids slowly drooped down and as soon as his tears subsided, he sagged a little into his mother’s arms and she put him down, and he fell back into the comforts of sleep.

 


 

 

Izuku awoke the next time to a gentle nudging on the arm.  He opened his eyes slowly, making out the familiar face of an older, female nurse, holding a breakfast tray in one hand and a sack of medications in the other.  It was one of the same nurses that had tended to him after the disastrous car accident from many years ago.

 

“Morning, sunshine,” she said softly.

 

“Good morning,” he croaked back.

 

Izuku cautiously looked around, only to see that the sole window in the room was heavily covered by thick drapes.  He ducked his head a little and saw the barest of sunshine streaming through the uncovered bottom.  Unconsciously, he winced.

 

“Don’t look directly at the light,” the nurse immediately chastised, seeing Izuku’s facial expression, “you sustained a concussion from your fall at the plaza, and you’re still sensitive to light.”

 

“Y-Yes,” was all Izuku could think to reply. 

 

A fall…  In the plaza?  The green-haired male tenderly brought his arm up to rub at his aching forehead.  Based on the headache he currently had, he definitely believed the nurse that he had a concussion—Izuku attempted to follow his stream of conscious memories back to whenever he had taken a ‘fall in the plaza.’

 

Falling, hitting his head.  Okay.  Being in the plaza.

 

He had been at a coffee shop earlier, working on his form for the guidance counselor, right.

 

Then there had been a panic and…  everyone had evacuated the café and the shopping center?  Except—no, they didn’t.  Everyone had crowded up into the middle of the square where something really big had been going on.  It had been loud—dangerous.

 

Kacchan had been there.

 

Something slimy had been attacking him.

 

They were both suffocating—no, they had been drowning. 

 

Izuku gasped a little, nearly choking on air, as he remembered just what had happened as to result in a nasty fall and a painful concussion and another trip to the hospital.  The nurse immediately put down the syringe she had been prepping and ran to his side.

 

“Midoriya-kun!”  She exclaimed, in shock, “what’s wrong?  Can you breathe?”

 

“I… I,” he managed to get out, lips fumbling and tripping over the correct words he wanted to say, “is Kacchan safe?  Is everyone safe?”

 

The nurse looked puzzled, but still deeply concerned.  “Kacchan…  If you mean the other boy who was involved in the incident with the slime villain—yes, he’s fine.  We admitted him last night only for a few hours; once we checked his lungs and stomach for any residual slime, we let him go.”  She paused.  “No one else in the plaza was injured, I don’t think—but some people were doused in slime once the villain exploded.”

 

Izuku’s heart sank deep into his stomach.  Kacchan and the bystanders were safe, but…  “Did the villain…  Did the slime-monster die?”  He breathed out, in horror.

 

The nurse immediately placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.  “No, Midoriya-kun, the villain survived the explosion.  His quirk allows him to build up more of his slime-body, from what I’ve heard, from water and other liquids.  His real physical form is much smaller than what you saw yesterday.  The explosion didn’t actually destroy his real body; it just scattered most of the extra liquids he accumulated.  The police jarred the rest of him up and from what the news is saying, he’s been detained.”

 

Izuku immediately sagged in relief, and fatigue.  “Good,” was all he managed to say in response.

 

The nurse smiled warmly at him.  “You know, even though the other nurses and I told you we didn’t want to see you back here any time soon…  We are glad you’re only here for quirk exhaustion and a concussion.  That was a dangerous situation.  You could’ve been seriously harmed.”

 

“I…. I know,” Izuku replied, remembering his crying mother, holding him.  He felt a sudden sharp sting of empathy run through him.  Of course, he could’ve been critically injured by such a powerful villain.  He and Kacchan were only two idiotic pre-teens, two kids who were still trying to figure out how their quirks worked.  If Soul Bond hadn’t been able to transfer Izuku’s pain onto the slime-monster and heal Kacchan, then it was possible they wouldn’t have survived the ordeal.  Izuku had never before even imagined that his quirk could be used to transfer his pain and injuries onto another person—the idea was just quick-thinking combined with adrenaline from the fear of death.  He had attempted it before even considering what he would have done had it failed.

 

His mother wouldn’t have known what he was trying to do, if she had seen what had happened.  Even those who knew he had a quirk, and what quirk he had, wouldn’t have been able to understand that Izuku had used Soul Bond, not to receive someone else’s pain and emotions—but to force them onto someone else.  In everyone else’s eyes, what Izuku had done was simply run into a situation he had no business being involved in, and hinder Katsuki from defeating the slime-villain any faster.

 

Shame slowly settled into his lower stomach.  “Sorry,” he whispered.

 

“I’m not the one to apologize to,” the nurse replied.  She turned back around and began adjusting Izuku’s IV drip, making sure everything was in its place.  “Although it was foolish of you, Midoriya-kun…  It was really brave of you also, to try and help your friend.”

 

Izuku blinked once—then twice—in confusion.  “… Huh?”

 

“You heard me,” she said, with a crooked smile, looking almost like a proud family member.  “You goofed up pretty bad, but you got quirk exhaustion from healing your friend, didn’t you?  You tried to help him when no one else could.  It probably worked too, since he was able to explode you both out of there.”

 

Izuku reddened, his mouth slightly agape.  “I—I, uhm, I mean,” he tried, “th-thank you.”

 

“Just don’t try it again and end up back in here,” she immediately switched, scolding him gently.  “Family members of Hisashi are always welcome to me, just not particularly welcome in the hospital for serious injuries.  I don’t want to see you make a pattern of this.”

 

“Yes ma’am,” Izuku quickly replied, and she laughed before bringing him his breakfast tray and medications.

 

 It was just some white rice, a bowl of miso soup, and some vegetables, but Izuku was grateful nonetheless.  He had no idea how long he had been unconscious or sleeping, but he was quite hungry.

 

“Itadakimasu,” he said quietly, and then broke his chopsticks.

 

“Your mom is getting some rest outside,” the nurse piped up, gathering some trash into a plastic bag, “you also have some other visitors who want to see you.  They’ve been instructed to be quiet…  Should I bring them in?”

 

Izuku scooped some rice into his mouth, and nodded, although he was curious as to who other than his mother would visit him in the hospital.

 

The nurse smiled at him before gathering up the trash and slipping quietly out the door. 

 

As Izuku was nearly half-way finished with his bowl of rice, the door to his room slowly, and quietly, creaked open.  The green-haired male startled to see two heads slowly peeking out from the entrance—one tiny, greying Recovery Girl on the bottom, one haggard, tired Yagi Toshinori peering over her on the top.  As they both smiled at him, and slowly began to come into the room, Izuku paused from eating and put his chopsticks down.

 

“Recovery Girl, Yagi,” Izuku acknowledged them, bowing his head a little, “uhm, thank you for coming to visit,” he greeted awkwardly.

 

Yagi held out a small bouquet of white daisies.  “Of course, my boy,” the skeletal man grinned at him, “for you.  Is there a…”  He looked around and brightened at the empty vase on the nightstand near Izuku’s bed.  Yagi pulled out a chair for Recovery Girl, waited for her to sit down, and then strided across the room to deposit the daisies comfortably in the vase.

 

“Thank you, you didn’t have to,” Izuku said meekly, cheeks reddening once again.  He’d only really met the two of them once, and so recently, too.  “How… How did you two know I was in the hospital?”

 

Recovery Girl chuckled cutely, “Midoriya-kun, the incident in the shopping center was all over the news.  I don’t think there are many people who didn’t see it.”

 

“O-Oh,” Izuku replied, in embarrassment.  Was that how his mom and the nurse knew about the confrontation?  He curled in on himself a little.  Almost immediately, Yagi patted him gently on the back.

 

“Nothing to be embarrassed about, young Midoriya,” he said, smiling.  The corners of his shiny-white smile turned up and his blue eyes, despite being awfully sunk in, upturned into happy little arcs.  It was actually endearing.  “You did a good deed in doing your part to help that young boy held captive by the sludge villain!  It was more than any of the pro-heroes had been doing, at the time.”

 

“Yagi,” Recovery Girl lightly chastised, but Yagi didn’t seem bothered.

 

“It’s true!  None of the heroes there were doing anything to help the boy who was held captive by that horrendous villain; yet, it was you, a middle-school student, who did the most to step in and try to change the situation around, young Midoriya.  Although it was quite dangerous, you shouldn’t be ashamed of yourself for doing the right thing!”

 

Izuku’s cheeks were burning bright red at the moment, heat travelling all the way up to the tips of his ears.  Although he had really only met Yagi a little while ago, something about the man was extremely comforting.  Even when Yagi had consoled him and encouraged him about his dream to be a hero, Izuku felt like the man genuinely meant his words and believed in Izuku when he defended his actions.

 

“Thank you,” Izuku whispered, squirming a little in happiness. 

 

“Of course,” Yagi replied, as earnest as ever. 

 

Recovery Girl sighed, and tutted, although both of them could tell she wasn’t seriously disappointed.  “Yagi, you’re always so sentimental…  Midoriya-kun, how are you feeling?”

 

Izuku shifted, considering how he felt.  “Well…  I’ve got a bit of a headache, from a concussion, I think,” he admitted, “and I’m still pretty tired.  The nurse said I have quirk exhaustion.”

 

Recovery Girl frowned.  “Ah, that’s right—using your quirk tends to overexert your body.”

 

Izuku nearly blanched—before remembering his lie to Recovery Girl and Yagi during their first meeting.  He jolted a little.  “Y-Yeah, I guess I tried to use my quirk to heal Kacchan—my friend, the one in the slime villain—and I overdid it and that’s when I became a deadweight, and he had to save us both,” Izuku rambled, “and now, uh, here we are, I guess.  Haha.”

 

Thankfully, neither of the two seemed overly suspicious of Izuku’s nervous behavior.

 

“You did heal him, though,” Recovery Girl said, crossing her hands over her lap, “we saw the footage, Midoriya-kun.  Only after you entered the slime villain and attempted something, was your friend able to break you both free of the villain’s quirk.”

 

“Thank you,” Izuku replied, still blushing.  He knew it was true, but for them to continue to try and praise him despite his cover-up story over it… 

 

“It was remarkable,” Yagi grinned, and then promptly coughed up blood into his hand.

 

“Yagi!”  Recovery Girl exclaimed, hopping off her chair and pulling a napkin out of her pocket, “you should have told me you weren’t feeling well!”

 

Izuku resisted the urge to grab the man’s skeletal hand and attempt to help him, knowing that if he used his quirk now it would only lead to his passing out again.  “Y-Yagi-san,” he sputtered in worry, “are you okay?  P-Please, sit down!”

 

The blonde laughed, blood still running down his sharp chin.  “I’m fine, you two!  It happens!”  He dabbed at his face, quickly staining red the napkin Recovery Girl handed him.  He turned to Recovery Girl, “do you have another handkerchief?”

 

The elderly woman ‘tsked, and shook her head.  “No—we’ll have to go to the bathroom.  Your bleeding everywhere is just going to stress Midoriya-kun out; we should go.”

 

“Oh,” Izuku deflated a little, “w-well, please get some rest, Yagi-san, and thank you both for visiting…  Oh, and thank you also for the flowers.”

 

Recovery Girl smiled, and walked over to pat Izuku’s arm.  “You’re welcome, sweetheart.  We hope you feel better—and you better stop overworking yourself.  Your injuries may seem small individually, but if you make hospital visits a habit, your body will end up seriously damaged in the future.”

 

“Yes,” Izuku replied, ducking his head a little.

 

Yagi smiled and patted Izuku on the head with his clean head.  “Get some rest, my boy.”

 

“Thank you,” Izuku said once again, nodding his head politely.  He watched Recovery Girl take Yagi’s arm and escort the bleeding man out of the hospital room.  His two visitors smiled at him and waved, before exiting the same way they first came.

 

Something ached a little inside of him, sitting up in the hospital bed in the room, all alone.  He wondered if his father had ever gotten used to the unsettling feeling of the hospital—the smell of antiseptic and the unnatural silence, the dim lighting and the dull pain of the IV drip sticking out of his arm.

 

Izuku quietly finished his breakfast, taking his pain medication and then returning the breakfast tray to his nightstand.  He curled a little in on himself, closed his eyes, and went back to sleep.

 


 

 

When Izuku awoke, the same nurse from earlier gently helped him out of bed to shower and change his clothes in a separate bathroom.  Once he was dressed, he was returned to his hospital room where his mother was waiting for him, nervously sitting in a chair and fiddling with her hands.

 

“Izuku,” she laughed, getting up immediately, “are you feeling okay?  Did you have any trouble getting around?  I know you must be tired from quirk exhaustion but we can’t ignore your concussion…”

 

“I feel okay,” he replied with a smile, and went to steady his wobbling mother, “are you okay?  Did you rest well?”  He felt impossibly guilty for worrying her, but also for the fact that Inko had slept in a chair outside while he had been resting in the hospital room.

 

“Your mother is fine,” Inko assured him with a soft smile, patting his hand.  “Moreso, because the nurses and staff said it’d be okay to take you home now.”

 

Izuku perked up a little, “already?”

 

The nurse smiled and nodded.  “Your concussion was mild; it was more for your quirk exhaustion we were monitoring you.  We ran some tests while you were sleeping and your energy levels have stabilized; as long as you rest and complete your concussion aftercare, it is safe for you to return home.”

 

Izuku’s eyes watered a little.  “Thank you,” he told the nurse gratefully.

 

She smiled at both Izuku and Inko.  “Of course.  It’s the least we can do for you two.”

 

After they left the hospital room, they went to the front desk where a different nurse gave them a series of information pamphlets on concussions and additional medications.  As Inko filled out paperwork, Izuku sat in the waiting section of the lobby.

 

The green haired male looked down at his lap idly, before jolting suddenly.  “Mom,” he called out to Inko, standing up, “I forgot about the flowers in my room.  Can we get them?”

 

Inko looked confused, “fl-flowers..?  Sure, Izukkun…  But who brought you flowers?”

 

Izuku blanked, remembering that Inko didn’t know about Yagi and Recovery Girl.  “Uhm, they’re… from a friend at school,” he lied, and immediately winced.  He hated being dishonest, and he had been lying often lately, but he didn’t want to tell Inko that he had been using his quirk on a severely injured man and ended up being tardy to school because of it.  “He just stopped by to, uhm, visit, and brought me some daisies as a nice gesture.”

 

Inko looked incredibly pleased, smiling widely.  “O-Oh!  Izukkun, of course we can go back and get them, I’m so glad that your friend paid a visit…”  She mumbled something, and the guilt irritating Izuku’s stomach only sharpened.

 

“I’ll, just, uh, go back and get them,” Izuku said, smiling.  He hoped his mother didn’t notice that his pleasant expression was more of a grimace than anything else.

 

Inko nodded, “I’ll be here when you get back.”

 

Izuku navigated his way back into the hospital wing, where a nurse nearby helped him to package up the flowers in a plastic bag with some water in it.  The nurse sent him off back to the lobby, where his mother was waiting.  Inko smiled at him and gestured toward the entrance.

 

“I called a taxi while I was waiting,” she smiled, “let’s go home.”

 

Izuku nodded, his upset stomach and headache finally seeming to calm as he held onto his mother’s hand with one hand, and the flowers with the other.  Inko gingerly escorted him out of the hospital, and into the taxi, and within a few minutes, they were heading home, the hospital far behind them.

 


 

 

Izuku needed at least two and a half weeks before he could return to any physical activity, technically.  However, it wasn’t like he played any sports, and the most ‘physical activity’ he did was walking to school every day.  His mother had taken it upon herself to drive him to school daily instead.  This also meant he had rides home from school, too.  When Izuku was out of the house, most of the time he had to wear sunglasses to avoid hurting his sensitive eyes from harsh lighting.  Again, his classmates were at first interested in Izuku’s pain and suffering—quirkless Izuku, hurt again from a flashy accident, how exciting!—but eventually, they got over their interest and quit bothering Izuku.

 

Their prying questions and intrigued stares had then turned to Katsuki, who had come back to school a day earlier than Izuku.  The two hadn’t talked over any of what happened; it wasn’t like they had much of a chance.  Izuku was driven to school and driven back every day by Inko, leaving him no leeway to try to speak to Kacchan, and vice versa.  Katsuki was given no freedom from their nosey classmates.

 

“Bakugou-kun!”  A female classmate exclaimed, “how gross was it to be stuck in that slime villain?  It looked totally nasty!”

 

“Did you get it in your mouth?”  An affronted classmate exclaimed, “did you have to swallow it?”

 

“How did you even get stuck in there, in the first place?  Quirkless Deku had to go and help you—“

 

“Shut the FUCK up!”  Bakugou yelled at the three students, and they immediately cowered away from him and sulked off.  Midoriya, from his desk, winced.

 

Those were tasteless questions, obviously, but he could understand their curiosity. 

 

“Settle down class—Bakugou, you especially,” the mathematics teacher, Aoki-sensei, scolded.  She narrowed her eyes at Bakugou, who grumbled something under his breath, and sat down.  The rest of the class followed suit and began to quiet down.  “Now that I have everyone’s attention—as you guys know, you’ve filled out the career forms we passed out to all of you a couple days ago.  We’re starting guidance counseling sessions this afternoon, so please bring the forms when it’s time for your session.”

 

Izuku gaped in his seat, and immediately clutched his stomach.  Oh god—the career form.  He hadn’t even finished filling it out before it had been destroyed by the slime villain.  A kind EMT had given him his backpack after he left the hospital, but there was nothing but scraps remaining from his form after being stuck in the slime villain’s liquid body.

 

“We’ll be starting alphabetically, in order of last name,” Aoki-sensei instructed, and looked down at a list she had on her desk.  “First is Akiyama-san.”

 

Izuku tried to pick his brain and remember what the questions on the form had been, in the first place.  Before the slime villain had attacked the shopping center, he had been trying to decide between the support and general departments at U.A.—but then again, that was before Izuku had discovered Soul Bond could be used as an offensive quirk as well.  A small, hopeful part of him perked up at the idea of taking the heroics practical exam—he quickly extinguished it.

 

Soul Bond would not work on robots, which the practical exam employed; furthermore, just the very idea of using his quirk to hurt other examinees in order to get ahead was just… unheroic.  It made his gut churn just thinking of it.  Izuku was still uncomfortable with what he had done to the slime villain only a few days earlier.  If he were to take the practical exam, he would have to pass it without using his quirk.

 

That little part of him was still hopeful; instead of trying to squish it down, Izuku shushed it and thought of his other two options.

 

Both the support and general departments of U.A. were obviously prestigious; the support department focused on training students with quirks and talents suitable to developing equipment to help heroes while they were on the job.  With Izuku’s knack for quirk-analyzation and talents in math and science, the support department sounded like a good match.  Then again, although spending his time inventing tools and gadgets to help pro heroes was admirable work, it wasn’t the same kind of hero work Izuku’s father had done, nor was it anything he could apply his quirk toward.

 

On the other hand, the general department was designed to help students aiming for college, high-profile jobs away from heroics, and studies abroad in the future.  Izuku had heard great things about the general department—and a lot of kids with great quirks and a lot of potential ended up there, unable to pass the flawed practical exam for the heroics department.  The problem with it, for Izuku, was that the department and its curriculum was so vague.  The subjects taught there would be like repeating the monotony of middle school, only at a higher level.  He wasn’t sure if he could take it.

 

“Midoriya, stop mumbling,” a female classmate suddenly piped up from next to him, irritability written all over her facial features.  “It’s so annoying—we get it, you want to go to U.A.”

 

Immediately, Izuku reddened with embarrassment, and sunk into his seat.  Had he been muttering all of that out loud?  He nervously glanced toward Katsuki’s direction, and was relieved to see that his childhood friend wasn’t paying attention to him.  “Uhm, sorry,” he mumbled half-heartedly.

 

The girl snorted and turned away from him, chatting to another classmate—Aoki-sensei ignored the whispering, calling the next person’s name.

 

“Bakugou-kun.”

 

The entire class stilled for a moment, all eyes traveling toward the blonde, who was clutching his career form in his fist, seeming impatient.  He got up, pushed his chair in with his foot, and with an irritated huff, quickly moved out of the room.  Immediately after he exited the room, Izuku’s classmates returned to their own business. 

 

Izuku stared at the door for a few seconds, before staring back down at his hands. 

 

Katsuki was only in his session for five minutes before he returned, seeming only slightly pleased from what everyone knew to be a positive counseling session.  Everyone knew that the guidance counselor had agreed with Katsuki’s career choices, and OK’ed him for the application process into U.A.

 

“Enoshima-kun,” Aoki-sensei ordered, breaking the class’s focus on Katsuki once again; a burly male classmate with a large horn on his forehead clumsily stood and walked out the door.

 

Izuku wore at his lower lip, absentmindedly cracking his knuckles. 

 

He wondered what his classmates were thinking of doing after middle school.  Katsuki, of course, was applying to U.A.’s heroics department, and would undoubtedly be accepted.  Izuku didn’t doubt that many of his other classmates also wanted to be pro heroes, though they would most likely apply to other schools with heroics departments in the area.  His other classmates with different ambitions might go to college-prep schools; there were many noteworthy academies in the prefecture.

 

“Hayashi-san,” Aoki-sensei called—a few minutes later, “Ikejiri-kun,” and then, “Jie-san.” 

 

It was a Kobayashi-kun and one Matsuda-kun before Aoki-sensei called Izuku’s last name.  The female teacher looked up from her list, eyeing the quirkless Izuku with what could only be described as a pitiful glance.  Izuku stood up, trying his best to ignore the unashamed staring of his mocking classmates, and made his way to the front of the room where the door was.

 

“Good luck,” Aoki-sensei said, quietly.

 

Izuku nodded to her discretely as he walked out of the room, so quickly it almost seemed like he was fleeing.  The hallway was short enough that he didn’t have to process the drumming of his anxious heart or his sweaty hands; Izuku took a right turn and found himself in front of the teacher’s offices where Yuikawa-sensei was waiting.  He took a deep breath and opened the door.

 

The middle-aged man looked as tired as ever, ill-fitting glasses sliding off the bridge of his round nose.  At the sound of the door opening he looked up and offered a polite smile to the boy standing nervously in front of him, and gestured to the seat opposite his.

 

“Midoriya-kun,” he greeted, “please, have a seat.”

 

Izuku nodded gratefully, awkwardly making his way over to the chair in front of Yuikawa-sensei’s with a queasy smile.  “Thank you,” he replied, wincing at how weak his voice sounded.

 

“Do you have your career form with you?”  The man asked, looking the boy once over.

 

Izuku reddened a little.  “Uh, no, sorry, sir,” he mumbled, “there was an incident a few days ago with, uhm, a villain.”  God—he hated making excuses—it sounded so pathetic, especially when he was barely getting the words out.  “My career form got destroyed in the incident, although I promise I did fill most of it out.  I thought really hard about it, too.”

 

Yuikawa looked a little interested in the story there, but didn’t pry.  He obviously hadn’t been watching the news the day of the villain incident.  Izuku had seen the recordings of the news, and it hadn’t been a very flattering story.  He was a little grateful the guidance counselor chose not to ask.

 

“Well, in that case, I can just ask you questions from the form, and you can tell me what you were thinking,” the man offered gently.  He picked up a piece of paper from his desk.  “So, Midoriya-kun…  what do you want to become in the future?”

 

“I…  I want to become a pro-hero,” Izuku replied, doing his best to keep his voice steady.

 

Yuikawa nodded, not seeming put off.  “And what school do you wish to attend next year?”

 

Izuku summoned up more of his courage, “U.A.”

 

Yuikawa paused for a moment, and then continued.    “U.A., huh…  I take it you’re planning on applying for the heroics department, then.”

 

Izuku bit his lip, quivering.  “Uhm, that’s where I’m not really sure.”

 

Yuikawa blinked once, before looking back up to the student, in confusion.  “What do you mean?”

 

“Well,” Izuku replied, wringing his hands, “I would love to enter the heroics department at U.A., but unfortunately, the practical exam isn’t really… optimal for someone like me.  I don’t have an offensive quirk, and I’m not really that tough,” he blurted out.

 

“So you’re not confident you could get in?”

 

Izuku blushed, “I’m sure I wouldn’t have any problem with the written exam because studying was never a problem for me, but…. Basically, yes.”

 

Yuikawa nodded, thoughtfully.  “What is your quirk, kid?”

 

Izuku faltered, wondering if he should spill.  There was no one else in the room, and this was a teacher—it should be fine, right?  “Uhm, it’s kind of like a healing quirk,” he disclosed to the guidance counselor, “but less practical than that, when it comes down to it.  It’s kind of hard to handle.”

 

Yuikawa scratched at his chin.  “A healing quirk, and you want to become a hero, huh..?  Sounds kind of impractical—but it’s been done before.  You know the heroine Recovery Girl, right?”

 

Izuku nodded, perking a little at the thought of the nice old woman who had brought him flowers in the hospital.  “Y-Yes, sir,” he excitedly replied, “I want to do something in the future, similar to what Recovery Girl does, but maybe more hands-on and closer to the frontline of heroics.”

 

Yuikawa jotted some notes down on the career form.  “Got it.  So you want to go to U.A., but it’d be hard to get into the heroics department considering the practical exam…”  He trailed off.  “You haven’t got any recommendation from a professional hero, have you?”

 

Izuku almost laughed, “no, of course not.”

 

“Have you thought about any of the other departments?” 

 

“I have,” Izuku admitted, “but that’s where I’m not really sure about what to do.  The support and general departments are great, from what I’ve heard, but neither of them really have focus on what I specifically want to do.”

 

Yuikawa nodded, humming a little.  “I’m gonna be honest with you, kid—no student from our school has ever made it into U.A.—be it heroics department, or support, or general.  The school is extremely selective; furthermore, honestly, I’m not really sure if support or general has what you’re looking for, if you want to become a pro-hero with that healing quirk of yours.”

 

Izuku deflated a little.  He’d known it—but hearing it spoken from someone else made him uncomfortable.  “Y-Yes, I know.  It’s just…  I don’t know what else is out there.”

 

Yuikawa winced, seeing the student begin to curl in on himself in disappointment.  “Hey, cheer up, kid.  You and me, we can use this session to look at some other schools that offer heroics departments with different practical exams—U.A. is a great school, but not every great school has to be U.A.”

 

Izuku nodded, though his head was heavy.  “R-Right,” he replied, as the guidance counselor grabbed his laptop to show him the catalogue of other heroics schools in the prefecture.

 

As Yuikawa showed him a series of different schools near Izuku’s house, he was saddened to learn that his suspicions were confirmed.  Though the other schools were great, of course—they didn’t offer the same education and training U.A. did, and they weren’t the schools from which All Might had graduated from.  Their practical exams weren’t much better than U.A.’s, either.

 

“Cheer up, kid,” Yuikawa said, sympathy in his voice, “I’m sure you’ll figure it out—you can still apply to U.A., since you’ve got good grades—it’s just wise to keep your options open, y’know?”

 

Izuku nodded thankfully at the other man, giving him a weak smile.

 

Yuikawa offered Izuku one back, and patted him on the shoulder as he stood up to leave.  “Good luck, kid; do your research and keep your grades up.”

 

Izuku didn’t look the man in the eyes, bowing quickly and then heading out the door.  “Thank you, sensei—I will.”

 


 

 

It was after school when Katsuki grabbed Izuku’s arm, with less force than usual.

 

“Got a minute, Deku?”  Katsuki said—it wasn’t really a question, moreso a command that meant ‘get over here, I need to talk to you about something.’  It wasn’t like Izuku could refuse.

 

He followed the blonde down the steps toward the building’s first floor—and then out the back toward the class gardens and fish pond.  Nervously, Izuku stuffed his hands in his pockets, looking at the ground.  He nearly bumped into Katsuki when the blonde stopped walking suddenly.

 

“S-Sorry,” he got out, taking a few steps backwards.  Katsuki turned around, not seeming particularly caught up on the fact that he had nearly been flat-tired.

 

“What did the loser guidance-counselor tell you, Deku?”  Katsuki spat out, first.

 

Izuku reddened, clenching his fists in his pockets.  The gakuran suddenly seemed too restrictive of him, as he tried to take deep breaths to quell the tears threatening to droop down from his lower lids.  “U-Uhm,” he sputtered, and immediately cleared his throat, “Yuikawa-sensei just told me to be realistic…  More realistic about my future.”

 

Katsuki raised an eyebrow, “be more specific, too.  What did you two talk about?”

 

Izuku coughed, “I told him I wanted to be a pro-hero, but we both agreed it would be almost impossible for me to be accepted into the heroics department at U.A., where I want to go.”  It was humiliating enough, recounting the story; it was more than humiliating having to spill it in front of Kacchan.  “I was thinking of applying to U.A.’s general or support departments, instead.”

 

The blonde stared at him, as if Izuku were some kind of puzzle he was trying to sort out—a puzzle full of odd pieces that didn’t quite fit together, no matter how hard he tried to squeeze the pieces into each other.  “And you’re going to?”

 

Izuku nodded slowly, “I… I think so, yes.”

 

There was a moment of silence between them, before Katsuki spoke.

 

“You know it’s for the best, shitty Deku.  Heroics isn’t the place for you—you could’ve killed yourself a few days ago.  You fucking know that.”

 

The tears started to well up on his lower lashes, fattening and getting so heavy that they fell down Izuku’s cheeks like a rainstorm.  Once the first few tears broke the threshold, Izuku immediately fell into silent tears, feebly raising an arm to press to his eyes.  “I… I know,” he choked out.

 

Katsuki didn’t stop.  “No matter what your fucking intentions were, you ran into a dangerous situation to save someone who didn’t even want your help,” he spat, voice simmering with rage.  “You don’t have a quirk that can save people from villains like that—I know what you said.  You said that you can at least heal people and all that shit, but if you’re going to destroy yourself like you always do, then you’re best sitting on the sidelines.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Izuku wailed, though he didn’t know if he was.  If he hadn’t helped Kacchan, his childhood friend would have surely perished.  “But the heroes there, the pro heroes,” he babbled, “they weren’t doing anything for you.  They weren’t trying to help you.  Who… Who could’ve saved you?”

 

Katsuki immediately snarled, a loud, animalistic-sound—it made Izuku flinch and cower away from the blonde, which only made Katsuki angrier.  “I didn’t need saving!” 

 

Izuku choked, recognizing the sound of shame in the other’s voice.

 

“You keep fucking doing this, Deku—playing hero, even though no one asks you to.  Why can’t you be satisfied with being a fucking nurse, or something?  So you can stop making people climb all over themselves just to help you out when you fuck up,” Katsuki hissed, “so you can stop making your fucking mom cry whenever you come home bloody and bruised.”

 

Izuku winced, a sharp stab of hurt running straight through him.  “K-Kacchan…”

 

The blonde glared at the green-haired male through narrowed eyes.  “Stop sacrificing yourself for people who don’t need it,” he said, “if I ever see you again after we graduate from this hell-hole, shitty Deku, I’ll be in U.A., and you’d have better stopped this self-sacrificial shit of yours—or I will beat the ever-loving FUCK out of you.”

 

Izuku curled in on himself at the threat.  Katsuki had never said something like that before—never threatened him with such seriousness, such intensity.  Something hot and painful wedged itself in his throat—and without thinking, from fear and hurt and sadness and something else, maybe—he turned tail and ran away as fast as he could from his old childhood friend.

 

“Deku!”  Katsuki yelled after him, “I wasn’t fucking finished!”

 

Izuku felt Kacchan reach out to grab his sleeve, but he pulled his arms close to him and kept running, blindly turning the corner of the school to dash toward the entrance where his mother was undoubtedly waiting for him.  He heard Katsuki swear violently, but he only turned to check over his shoulder once he was near the school’s gates.

 

The blonde was nowhere behind him. 

 

Frantically, Izuku rubbed at his face, making sure the most of his tears were dried up; he caught his breath quickly and then looked around for his mother’s car.  He spotted her just across the street, and he slid out from the gates quietly, avoiding the attention of any of his lingering classmates.

 

Without a word, he made his way to his mother, knocking at her car window before sliding into the backseat.  She greeted him kindly and he replied to her questions and comments with half-hearted replies and answers, and when she asked him what was wrong—and had he been crying?—he only laughed it off and said he’d gotten back the results of an awful test that he was disappointed about.  Inko knew something was wrong but by the look on Izuku’s face, figured out it was not something he would talk about; she left it alone.

 


 

 

The following two weeks after the ‘Kacchan-incident’ were so painfully akin to his old middle-school days—lonely, depressing, and dreary—that it had nearly gotten Izuku’s mind off of the school applications he had to submit by the end of the month.  He only had a couple weeks left before the applications were due for the support and general departments, and he’d only gathered his transcripts together a few days ago.

 

Izuku barely had any energy for thinking about which of the two departments was the better choice in becoming a pro-hero.  He spent his time at school avoiding Katsuki and his time at home under the covers of his bedsheets, half-heartedly reading hero magazines.  His daily routine—or lack thereof—was exhausting, but sleep and rest only made him anxious.

 

Inko of course, was terribly worried, and had called up the doctor’s office to ask whether or not depressive episodes were possible in the aftermath of concussions—she was assured by the doctor that although they were, in some cases—it was rare unless the concussion sustained was heavy and traumatic, and Izuku’s had not been.

 

Still, Inko tried her best to cheer her son up, worried that something was obviously troubling him.  She invited him to watch the news with her so they could see pro-heroes in action, and she cooked him his favorite katsudon two nights in a row.  Izuku spent time with her, and received her affections gratefully, but was still obviously out of spirits.

 

“I wish he would tell me what’s wrong,” Inko fretted alone, cleaning up the leftover food from that evening’s dinner.  Izuku had tried to help, but when he nearly dropped a dish in his daze, she had sent him upstairs to rest instead.  Sighing, she put Izuku’s leftover rice in a small container and packed it into the refrigerator.

 

Cleaning and cooking had always been an outlet of stress-relief for Inko, and she wished for a moment that Izuku had something similar that wasn’t so painful for him.  Izuku loved heroics and would invest hours into research on his favorite pro-heroes, but when something painful got him down, it was usually about his dreams towards heroics, so his usual hobby couldn’t cheer him up.

 

Inko silently worked, wishing Izuku had someone else he could perhaps confide in about what was going on.  If he didn’t feel comfortable talking to her about something, he could have maybe talked to one of his friends; but then again, knowing the kind of ‘friends’ Izuku once had, Inko quickly gave up on the notion.  She sadly laughed to herself, as she started the dishes—why didn’t Izuku have any close friends he could talk to?  He was such a kind boy—why didn’t anyone give him the time of day?

 

Suddenly, she startled with realization.

 

Izuku—her son—he DID have someone he could talk to.

 

Of course!—how could she have forgotten?  Immediately, the green-haired women turned off the tap water, slipped her rubber gloves off, and wiped residual water off of her hands and onto her apron.  Quickly, she moved into the living room where a familiar vase of white daisies sat innocently on the coffee table; leaning down, she plucked a greeting card off of it and opened it.

 

To her delight, at the bottom of the card was a signature, and phone number.

 

If you ever need something, please feel free to call me; my phone number is written below.  Hope you feel better soon; take time to rest and hydrate well.

- Your friend, Yagi

 

Without hesitation, Inko picked her cell phone out of her pocket, opened it up, and dialed the number on the bottom of the card, face hardened with determination.  The ringing on the other line went on for only a few seconds, before it picked up.

 

“Hello?”  A weak voice asked, coughing slightly.

 

“Yagi-kun,” Inko replied in relief, tone pleading, “I’m Izuku’s mother, Inko—I have a favor to ask of you.  Please.”

 


 

It was the Friday of the following week, when Izuku felt his worst.

 

The U.A. heroics exam was broadcasted live on the school’s website for eager parents and friends to watch, for good reason.  Thousands of people watched the videos, be it supportive family or friends or potential future applicants to the heroics program.  Izuku had watched it every year previous in awe, at the talented kids fighting robots and competing for the coveted spots of the heroics department’s two classes—A and B.

 

This year was no different.

 

Although Izuku had not completed any of his applications—for U.A., or any other school for that matter—he had given in to himself and turned on his laptop to watch the live broadcast, embarrassed at himself for his lack of willpower.  He still generally felt anxious about the entire application process and U.A. in general and Kacchan too, but his love for heroics won out.

 

There were several different testing groups in different arenas, all completing the same challenge of fighting robots worth different amounts of points.  Izuku knew the rules by heart already.  There was an option on the website to scroll between the different testing groups, and there was a handlebar on the side that showed all of the different students testing in each group, so that if a nervous parent wanted to, they could check on their child specifically.  If you clicked on a student’s face, the broadcast would switch views to the camera closest to the student, so you could watch them.

 

Izuku spent some time watching the first and second groups, noting a few students down—there was a kid with blonde hair and a crooked smile that had some kind of copying quirk, for one.  Since the start of the practical exam, he had immediately copied another student’s powerful electricity quirk and was destroying robots, left and right.  It seemed like he had a time-limit, though, since a few minutes in he was forced to switch quirks and copy someone else.

 

There was also a boy with dark blue hair and glasses that was easily beating the competition in his arena.  He had engines built in one his legs, and was running at lightning-fast speeds to deliver ferocious kicks to several of the training robots.  The quirk, and the boy’s appearance, were similar to that of the famous pro-hero Ingenium.  Izuku wondered if they were related.

 

There was also a girl with a strong levitation quirk running around, crushing robots together—and there was a guy with white hair and several muscly arms smashing robots down, in another ring.  There was a girl with thick vines for hair and a tall guy with some strength-enhancement quirk, fighting until he was worn-down silly and red in the face. 

 

Izuku couldn’t help but be excited by all of the powerful students and how they came up with strategies to maximize the amount of points they got; he also couldn’t help but be miserable while watching it.  He could’ve taken the practical exam—just tried, maybe—but looking at these kids who had been training their physical quirks, their entire lives, he knew realistically he wouldn’t have stood a chance.

 

Absent-mindedly, he switched over to arena 6, looking over the screen.  He frowned when he noticed that there were no robots in sight.  Confused, Izuku looked over to the handlebar, and sighed when he saw the familiar profile of his old childhood friend scowling back at him.

 

Of course—Katsuki had most definitely destroyed all of the training robots already, leaving nothing for any of the other competitors. 

 

Something deep and heavy settled into the bottom of his stomach.

 

Izuku wasn’t even surprised.

 

“Izukkun!”  Inko’s voice rang out from downstairs, startling her son into nearly falling off his bed, “dinner is ready—and someone is here to see you!”

 

The green-haired male paused his laptop, and looked toward the door in confusion.  “… What?”  He breathed to himself, thinking of his mother in bewilderment.  Someone was visiting… to see him?  Why?

 

Izuku closed his laptop and stepped off his bed, patting down his hair before opening the bedroom door and walking to the top of the staircase to peer down into the kitchen.  His mother was carrying dishes to the dinner table, but there was no one there with her.  He worried his lip, suddenly terrified of walking into his own living room—and then forced himself to descend.

 

“Mom,” he called, in a hushed, worried voice, “who’s here?  What’s going on?”

 

Inko looked at him with an abnormally upset look—then it wiped off her face, and she sent him an odd-looking smile.  “Your… friend, is here, for dinner,” she replied, closing her eyes.  “You’d better go and greet him.”

 

Izuku shuddered, and followed his mother’s instructions, praying to God it wasn’t Katsuki that sat at the dinner table—though he knew it was impossible, considering his old friend was testing at U.A..  Cautiously, he walked out of the kitchen and peered out from behind the corner—and sagged in relief when he saw Yagi Toshinori, awkwardly sitting in a small chair, twiddling his thumbs.

 

“Yagi-san,” Izuku greeted, going over to greet the man.  “U-Uhm, how are you?”

 

“Midoriya, my boy—I’m just fine,” he replied with an uneasy smile, leaning over to shake the younger male’s hand.  “Uhm, thank you for having me.  Your mother told me you had something on your mind that you might want to talk about with, uhm… a friend.”

 

Izuku’s face immediately reddened with embarrassment.  “Oh.”

 

Inko appeared from the kitchen, holding several dishes in her arms.  Izuku immediately turned to help her, placing them down on the table.  His mother smiled at Yagi, showing none of the earlier irritation she had displayed earlier.  “We hope you like katsudon, Yagi-san.”

 

“That sounds great,” the blonde man smiled politely, reaching over to help her set the table.

 

“Uhm, how did you two get acquainted?”  Izuku gathered up the courage to ask, handing napkins to his mother and Yagi.  Inko finally sat down and Izuku did the same.

 

“I remembered you said a close friend of yours had visited you in the hospital and brought you some flowers, which you wanted to go back and get,” Inko replied, and then sighed a little into her hand with a faint smile.  “I was worried about you, Izukkun, so I went and checked the card that came with the flowers and found Yagi-san’s phone number inside.  I called because I hoped you could talk to a close friend about what’s been bothering you.”

 

“This is the first time we’ve met in person,” Yagi clarified, slightly embarrassed.  “Sorry—I know I’m not exactly what, uh, most people would expect.”

 

“No, no,” Inko said, reassuringly, “you’re absolutely fine, Yagi-san.  Now, before the food gets cold, why don’t we eat?”

 

The three chorused a quick, “itadakimasu,” before starting their meal. 

 

Izuku chewed on his katsu thoughtfully, embarrassed that his mother had dragged Yagi over in such a way—and embarrassed and ashamed he had been caught in his lie.  He figured he’d tell her the truth after dinner when Yagi went home; he also felt bad for the sickly man he had only met a few days ago, dragged into such an awkward situation.  He didn’t think Yagi was a bad person at all, but it was still strange to have someone still so unknown in your house.

 

The three finished eating soon enough, and Inko began to clean up the table.  As soon as Izuku attempted to help her, she swatted his hands away.

 

“You can go and sit with Yagi-san in the living room instead,” she told him, gesturing subtly to their guest.  Unable to argue with her, Izuku obeyed, leading the skeletal man over to the couch.

 

“So, Midoriya, my boy,” Yagi said, as Izuku sat him down on a chair, “have you been healing well?”

 

“Yes,” Izuku replied, sitting down near him, “my concussion healed and I’ve been doing okay, I think.”

 

“Hm,” the blonde grunted, nodding.  “That’s good to hear—you must treat head injuries seriously.”  Yagi paused, folding his arms over his lap.  “What’s been bothering you?”

 

Izuku worried at his lip, biting down on it in discomfort.  “I… I don’t want to burden you with anything unnecessary, Yagi-san,” he said candidly, “it’s not that important.  I’ll get over it soon.  It’s just taking a little while for me, right now.”

 

“It might be good if you talked about it,” the man replied, and then smiled.  “You’re not burdening me at all.  Trust me—listening to you would probably be the easiest thing I’ve done today.”

 

Izuku fiddled with his fingers.  “Well, uhm, okay,” he said, and then tried to formulate a clear train of thought.  “Uhm, so there’s this guy I know—we’re childhood friends and when we were younger we were pretty close, until…  Until we got old enough and this rumor got out that I was quirkless, but you know that I’m not, I was just a late bloomer, I guess.”

 

Yagi nodded politely.

 

Izuku remembered the story he had told for Yagi and Recovery Girl, and added in: “I was also kind of sickly and weak, so I think he started to look down on me when his quirk presented; it’s a really powerful one and all, so, uhm.”  Izuku swallowed a lump that had been forming in his throat.  “He thought I was quirkless for a really long time and he kind of, would, boss me around and say… bad things, and do other stuff to me, but it never mattered before because y’know, I would just follow him around because I admired him and I never really processed what he did, because it was him.  If that…. Uhm, makes sense.”

 

Yagi looked as if he was digesting the information, a soft, empathetic look in his sunken eyes.  He patted Izuku’s arm, and nodded.  “It makes sense—you can go on, my boy.”

 

Izuku gave the man a thankful smile, and pressed on after a deep breath.  “He eventually found out I do have a quirk and I don’t really know what changed with us, but something… Something happened.  We had other incidents in middle school where he would kind of help me out or give me advice—this one time he saved me from a bunch of guys who were trying to beat me up,” he whispered, so Inko wouldn’t hear in the kitchen.  “But he would also, y’know, h-hurt me, himself.” 

 

There it was—the little choke, the little display of emotion that made him feel so weak and small.  Subconsciously, Izuku clenched his hands into fists, his fingernails making angry crescents into his palms.  “And recently, he got mad at me because I tried to help him this one time, because he doesn’t like getting helped, since he’s strong and it… I guess it just makes him angry.  And he yelled at me and told me that I couldn’t help anyone without hurting myself because my quirk isn’t really… useful for conventional heroics.”

 

“I see,” Yagi said, his expression serious. 

 

“He’s right,” Izuku admitted, licking his chapped lips, “but it still hurts whenever he says it.  He makes it sound like he’d rather… rather, die, than let me help him; but what am I supposed to do when someone is in danger?”  He took a deep breath.  “Then—he threatened to hurt me, and he was serious in this way I’ve never seen him before and it, it uh, it…. It scared me.”

 

Yagi’s frown deepened.  “That’s not right, my boy.  This person—childhood friend or not—cannot try to hurt you to get their point across.  Are you being threatened?”

 

Izuku shrugged, helplessly.  “I don’t know.”

 

Yagi suddenly did something unexpected—he leaned an arm over Izuku and wrapped him in a one-armed hug.  The green-haired male startled a little at the sudden display of affection, but found that he wasn’t bothered at all by it.  If anything, he welcomed the comfort, letting out a deep sigh he hadn’t even been aware he was holding in.

 

“Regardless of what your friend does for you—saving you from others, or giving you advice—it isn’t right for him to hurt you, physically or verbally,” Yagi told Izuku, patting his back gently.  “In fact, I would say that this person isn’t much of a friend at all.”

 

Izuku jolted at that.  “N-No, Yagi-san, haha.  He’s still my friend, he’s just… aggressive.  It’s just how he naturally is, he’s always been inclined toward this kind of behavior and he can’t really help it…”  Izuku trailed off from his miserable babbling, realizing just how weak his defensive tone sounded.

 

Yagi gave a little sigh and a grunt as he stood up suddenly.  Izuku watched the blonde man cup crane his head to look for Inko as he called to her, “Midoriya-san; would you mind if Izuku and I ran to the convenience store around the corner?  I want to buy you two some dessert as thanks for dinner.”

 

Inko popped her head out from around the corner, “oh, that isn’t necessary, Yagi-san….”

 

“I insist,” the blonde said, and held a bony hand out for Izuku.  “Come along, young Izuku—it’ll only be a short trip.  I have something I need to talk to you about.”

 

Warily, Izuku took Yagi’s hand, almost worried he would snap the other man’s arm in half with his weight.  Surprisingly, as the blonde helped him up, he discovered that Yagi was actually… strong.  His grip around Izuku’s hand was impossibly tight.

 

Izuku followed Yagi out to the front door.  As they put their shoes on, Inko appeared at the doorway and handed Izuku his phone. 

 

“You call me if you need me to pick you two up,” she said, clutching at a hand towel nervously.  Izuku didn’t blame her for being worried—this was the first time she was meeting Yagi, who she had originally thought was a fellow middle-school student. 

 

“We’ll be fine, mom,” Izuku assured her, wrapping his arms around her for a quick hug.  “It’s just the convenience store.”

 

Inko smiled, breathed out a sigh, and stood at the door as Yagi and Izuku finished getting their shoes on and walked out near the gates.  They waved at her as they slipped out of the entrance, Izuku pointing down the block adjacent to Katsuki’s house.  “The convenience store on the first intersection, right?”

 

Yagi nodded. 

 

The two walked in silence for a few moments—both of them soaking in the chilly night air and the relaxing darkness interfered with only by the soft yellow glow of the streetlights. 

 

“My boy—you remember helping me out the other day, and then passing out, correct?”

 

Izuku blushed, immediately thankful that it was dark enough that Yagi wouldn’t be able to see his face clearly.  “Y-Yes, of course.  How could I forget?”

 

The blonde chuckled good-naturedly, “and you remember waking up in a school infirmary with me and Recovery Girl as well?”

 

“Of course,” Izuku replied, beginning to get a little confused.

 

“Were you aware of where you were?”  Yagi asked.

 

Izuku worried his lip—and then released it, already beginning to get a headache at the thought of a bad habit forming.  He shrugged.  “The man who drove me to school—Aizawa, if I remember right—I asked him where we were and he just told me we were at a school.”  He looked up at Yagi, trying to read the man’s face.  “Do you work for a school?”

 

The blonde smiled, and nodded.  “Yes, you could say that—I’m a new teacher at the school you visited.  It’s going to be my first ever year teaching, but because I know the principal and have done some… work in education prior to this job, I have special favor with him.  He’s quite the powerful man—er, person.  That’s not right…  He’s a powerful, uhm, being,” Yagi corrected himself, sheepishly.  “He’s probably one of the smartest beings in Japan.”

 

Izuku looked at the man with wide eyes, “oh.  Wow.”

 

“Yes,” Yagi confirmed, scratching at his chin, “it’s because of that principal that I was able to get a job at that school with Recovery Girl—the school nurse—and Aizawa-kun, the teacher you met.  The faculty there is very talented, and they’re good at bringing out the best in kids.”

 

Izuku nodded, listening curiously, but still confused.

 

“And, uhm…  After Recovery Girl and I met you, we were very impressed by your kindness toward me—a stranger you didn’t even know—and your will to help people despite putting yourself in danger.  Not many heroes are that selfless,” Yagi explained, smiling widely.  “Furthermore, only a day after we met you, we tuned into the news and saw you put yourself in danger to try and save another person, when even the pro-heroes were too stunned and intimidated to act.”

 

Izuku’s face was a brilliant cherry-red at this point, and he self-consciously raised a palm to his cheek to try and gauge just how heated his face was.  “Th-Thank you, Yagi-san.”

 

“Recovery Girl and I both agreed that you have the makings of a hero, even if your quirk isn’t a conventionally aggressive quirk.  You can make up for a nonconventional quirk with training.  You can’t make up for a lack of sense of justice of heroics with training and a powerful quirk,” Yagi stated knowingly.  Izuku briefly thought of Kacchan.

 

“This is why, we want to offer you a spot at our school, on recommendation from two pro heroes.”

 

Izuku choked on his own spit.

 

Yagi startled, then chuckled at Izuku’s shock; the green-haired boy spluttered in confusion, babbling out random words—and then covered his mouth, completely red in the face.

 

“T-Two pro heroes…  Recovery Girl… And… you?”

 

Yagi nodded, a brilliant smile decorating his face.  “If you so choose, young Midoriya, we would love to welcome you to our school.  Although normally it would be too late to enter the heroics department, since you’re on recommendation from two pro heroes, you wouldn’t have to undergo our academy’s practical exam; you’d just have to pass a written test and you’d automatically be accepted into our program!  And, it is a fine program, with many capable teachers.”

 

Izuku floundered, still shell-shocked.  “I-I…. Thank you so much, I… I don’t know what to say.”

 

Yagi patted Izuku’s back, as they turned the corner.  The glowing bright lights of the convenience store sign was nearly blinding in the darkness.  “I know it’s a big decision…  You’ve probably applied to other schools also, but….”

 

Izuku shook his head, swallowing hard.  “N-No, I haven’t.”

 

Yagi raised an eyebrow.

 

“I’ve been so out of it after my fight with my old f-friend, that, I kind of put it off.  I haven’t really sent in any applications yet,” he explained, embarrassed.  “But I…  I’m still kind of set on this one school, even if I can’t get into their heroics department.  I think at this point, I’d be okay with going into the general department as long as I could just… be there,” Izuku admitted, and coughed out, “U.A.”

 

Yagi paused, looking confused.  “Midoriya, my boy—U.A. is the school—“

 

Izuku blushed and interjected in embarrassment, “I know U.A. is really hard to get into, but it’ll always be my dream school.  I gave up on the heroics department because I knew no matter what, I wouldn’t be able to pass the practical exam, but now I’ve got my sights set on the general department because if heroics doesn’t… doesn’t work out for me, at least I can go to college and maybe do something else that will help people or benefit heroes, or…. I don’t know…”

 

Yagi looked as if he was about to say something, but then closed his mouth.  Izuku looked at him curiously, sensing something was wrong.  The blonde held an arm out in front of the green-haired boy and gestured with his chin, to the convenience store.

 

There was a man inside wearing all black, face covered with a crude ski-mask, threatening the cashier with a huge muscly arm made of steel.  His fingers were razor sharp and metal.  The poor worker was trying her best to empty all of the money in the cash register into the thug’s burlap sack, but it was obvious the criminal was getting impatient.

 

“Oh no,” Izuku breathed, almost in disbelief. 

 

Yagi had an odd look in his bright blue-eyes.  He stared at the scene only a millisecond longer before turning to Izuku and planting his arms on the boy’s shoulders.

 

“I was going to confide this in you later—in a different situation,” Yagi said, seriously, and Izuku looked at him in confusion.  “Midoriya, my boy, can you keep a secret?”

 

The green-haired male flustered, “y-yes.”

 

“Swear it on your life and mine,” Yagi pressed, mouth pressed into a tight line.

 

“I-I swear,” Izuku stuttered, nervously crossing his finger over his heart.

 

It seemed to satisfy Yagi, who patted the green-haired male’s head.  The blonde man suddenly huffed a large breath—his hollow cheeks puffing up—and then gave a grunt as smoke exploded from his pores.  Izuku yelped as steam masked his vision and coughed, squinting through the haze.

 

“Y-Yagi-san..?”  He managed to get out, before a huge hand covered his mouth.

 

Izuku could’ve fainted at that exact moment.

 

The steam cleared away in the darkness just so much that Izuku clearly made out the huge, hulking figure of muscle in front of him.  The man standing in front of him now was no Yagi Toshinori—though dressed in the man’s clothes, he was suddenly completely filled out, strong, and powerful, with the biggest smile Izuku had ever seen on any person, plastered over his face.  A booming laugh escaped the silhouette in front of him.

 

Izuku whimpered in shock at the sight of his favorite hero.

 

“It’s all okay,” All Might laughed, striding in front of Izuku carefully to open the door to the convenience store, entering in gracefully.  “Why?” 

 

The thug paused, turning around to face the symbol of peace with huge, horrified eyes.  He dropped his sack of cash on the floor, a high-pitched whine escaping his lips.

 

“Because I am here!”

 

Izuku gaped, sinking to his knees in utter awe and complete astonishment as All Might—no, Yagi-san—no?  Which one of them was this person?—delivered a swift karate chop to the side of the robber’s head, immediately knocking him out cold.  It was obvious the common thief wouldn’t have stood a chance against any of All Might’s serious fighting moves; the blonde let out a booming laugh as the cashier, still scared out of her mind, dropped into a 90-degree bow, spewing her thanks.

 

Izuku’s limbs were all entirely numb, but he managed to get himself inside of the convenience store as All Might called 9-11 from his comically small cell phone.

 

“A-All Might,” he breathed out, shaking, red in the face. 

 

“Young Midoriya,” the man replied back, with a huge smile.  He paused—and turned to the cashier, thoughtfully.  “What kind of ice cream would you recommend, young miss?”

 


 

 

Half an hour later, the police had arrested the unconscious thief, the nervous-looking cashier had given them free matcha ice cream for their troubles, and All Might had flown back to the Midoriya household with Izuku on his back, holding onto the pro hero’s back for dear life.

 

“Sorry for the rough flying!”  The man laughed, opening the front door for Izuku, “it’s been a long day and it’s a little dark out—especially so high up!”

 

Izuku responded with what sounded like delirious laughter.

 

“You two are finally home,” Inko called out, her footsteps rounding the corner near the door.  “I was worried since it’s been so long!  I tried to call your phone, Izuku, but—“

 

The woman was rendered speechless as she saw the current state of their houseguest.

 

“A-All Might,” she choked out, shaking.  “W-What…”

 

As if on cue, the symbol of peace smiled at her, hacked out a spurt of blood into his hand, and transformed back into one Yagi Toshinori with a flush of hot steam.

 


 

One hour and two pints of matcha green tea ice cream later, the Midoriya family and their guest was situated in the living room after hearing Yagi’s explanation of his role as All Might, the symbol of peace, and how his deteriorating health kept him from staying in that form for more than five hours a day.  He explained that, years ago, he had been seriously injured in a hero fight.  He had been saved by a gifted doctor, but he was still left with horrible side effects that plagued him daily.

 

Izuku, in turn, had explained to his mother the truth on how he had met Yagi while walking to school.  Inko was obviously displeased the incident occurred, but she also seemed torn now that the man her son had helped was right in front of her.  Izuku also explained Yagi’s proposal to him, and how he had met Recovery Girl at Yagi’s school.

 

“So that’s why you were coughing up blood earlier…  And that explains how you know Recovery Girl,” Inko sighed, looking at her hands in her lap.  “… Wow.  I’m sorry you had to go through that, Yagi-san.”

 

The blonde laughed weakly.  “Well…  Things happen.  All in the life of a hero, I suppose.”

 

Inko’s eyes watered.  “All in the life of a hero…  Yes.  I suppose it is that way.”  She looked up at Yagi, who faltered.  “You said that you want my son to go to your school and enroll in the heroics department?”

 

Yagi slowly nodded.  “Yes.  Young Midoriya has shown me he has the true spirit of a hero, in helping me and his friend in the villain incident not too long ago.  I would be honored if he would attend our school.”

 

Izuku cleared his throat, shyly.  “Y-Yagi-san…  Or All Might, or…?”

 

“You can call me Yagi-san while I look like this, and All Might when I look like… that,” the man provided helpfully, “as long as you’re discrete about my identity.”

 

Izuku nodded, “Yagi-san.  I told you earlier—I really admire you as a hero, as All Might, because of the people you’ve saved, but…”  He choked on his words, his mind failing him for a moment because this was All Might, his favorite hero since forever, the person he had admired, the idol that illuminated and encouraged his dreams, and, “I’m set on U.A.’s general department and I don’t think I can go anywhere else.”

 

Both Inko and Yagi startled.  Again, Yagi tried to speak, but Izuku reddened, and kept talking.

 

“I understand that the heroics department is an automatic jump into the world of pro heroics, which is all I’ve ever wanted and more, but…”  Izuku trailed off.  “I also want to be realistic.  I think I can be a hero, in some kind of way, and save people who need healing or who are hurt.  I want to be able to explore the limits of my quirk.  And in the heroics department, surrounded by people with conventional aggressive quirks, I don’t think I’d be able to keep up, and I don’t think the opportunities for those in the heroics department are the right opportunities for me,” he admitted.

 

Yagi made a sound in the back of his throat.  “What do you mean, you wouldn’t be able to keep up?”

 

Izuku sighed, “I… put a lot of damage onto myself whenever I use my quirk, which is dangerous; it’s not offensive,” at least, not really, “and I’ve only used it a handful of times.  I watched the live broadcast of U.A.’s heroics department’s practical exam, and I know that even among the lagging competitors, I’d be left in the dust.  I need to pursue heroics in a place that can foster my own pace.”

 

There was a silence—Inko looked shocked, almost saddened that her son had said something, but also relieved.  Yagi looked vaguely impressed; he smiled a happy grin.

 

“I’m… glad you think so highly of the U.A. general department, my boy,” Yagi expressed, and placed a hand reassuringly on Izuku’s shoulder.  “And I’m also glad you think so highly of U.A. in general.”

 

Izuku blushed—All Might was touching him—oh god, hadn’t he embarrassed himself in front of Yagi before, when he had first met the man?  Izuku’s first impression was passing out in front of Yagi after healing him.  He caught himself before he descended into a wave of embarrassment.

 

“Of course I do,” Izuku replied, “you went there, after all.”

 

Yagi’s own face suddenly reddened with embarrassment, and he laughed happily.  “You’re too kind to me, my boy—and yes, I did go to U.A..  It was a great environment, and I’m proud to call it my alma mater.”  He patted Izuku again.  “I’m even happier to call it my current place of employment.”

 

Izuku looked up at his childhood hero.  “… Heh?”

 

Inko breathed out a small chuckle.  “O-Oh.  Oh.”

 

Izuku stuttered, “s-so you…  You work at U.A., and you’re inviting me to…”

 

Yagi nodded joyfully.  “With recommendation from both myself and Recovery Girl, we’d like to extend an invitation for you to enroll at U.A.; it doesn’t have to be the heroics department, of course.  I understand your reasons for wanting to apply into the general department!  I can get it all worked out for you, my boy, I just need your official documents and some paperwork.”  He winked, “after all, the principal does favor me, hehe.”

 

Izuku felt his entire body go numb once more.  “Oh my god,” he breathed.

 

Inko mimicked her son’s awed facial expression.  “Y-Yagi-san,” she breathed, “how can we thank you for something like this?  It was always Izukkun’s dream to attend U.A.”

 

Yagi waved his hand humbly, smiling at the mother and son who looked as if they wanted to pinch each other.  “It’s no worries.  Shuuzenji and I can recognize heroic potential when we see it, and it’s our responsibility as educators to tap into that potential—think of this as just doing our jobs.”

 

Izuku could have cried at that moment—feeling happier than he’d ever been in all of his years in middle school or elementary school.  All Might—Yagi Toshinori—his childhood hero, was inviting him to go to U.A. to study in the department he wanted, to become a hero, to help people with his quirk.  All Might was encouraging him; All Might believed in him.

 

“It’s late and I should be going so I can call U.A.’s principal and let him know that young Midoriya would instead prefer to enroll in the general department,” Yagi said, chuckling a little, rising to his feet.  “If either of you could send me Izuku’s enrollment documents, that would be great.”

 

“Yes, of course,” Inko said, rising to her feet as well.  She immediately dropped into a grateful bow, making Yagi blush.  “Thank you.  Thank you so much.”

 

Izuku rose unsteadily to his feet with unshed tears clouding his vision.  He also bowed to Yagi, who reddened even more.  “Thank you, Yagi-san.”

 

Yagi looked inclined to say something, but eventually just settled on, “you’re welcome, young Izuku.”

 

Inko gathered the blonde’s coat and Izuku walked Yagi out onto the corridor where the emaciated man slipped on his shoes, smiling all the while.  As he put on his jacket, shoes slipped on over his feet, ready to open the front door, Izuku suddenly remembered the thing he wanted most from the man in front of him.

 

“Yagi-san!”  Izuku exclaimed, dropping into another bow, “please autograph my hero journal!”

 

Inko and Yagi both looked surprised at the boy’s sudden outburst, but the blonde only smiled once again, patting Izuku’s head of fluffy green hair.

 

“Sure, kid.”

Chapter Text

It was only a few days after the bomb that Yagi dropped on Izuku and his mother, that a letter from U.A. came through the mail.  It was the weekend, and Inko was sorting through bills when she found it and Izuku was eating lunch at the table calmly, until his mother jolted and nearly knocked down a bowl of fruit on the counter.

 

“I-Izukkun!”  She exclaimed, nearly tripping over her own feet to get to him in excitement, “your letter from U.A.—it’s here already!”

 

Izuku perked up from his sandwich, quickly swallowing down the bite still in his mouth.  “A-Already?”

 

Inko nodded, scooting a chair over next to her son.  She handed him the envelope, and he accepted it from her, his fingers shaking.  They both knew the contents of the letter already, but it was still nerve-wracking to be holding anything from U.A. in his hands after all of the dreaming he had done about the school in his younger years; Izuku and his mother had only sent in his paperwork two days ago, and neither of them were expecting a reply so quickly.

 

Izuku gingerly turned the envelope upside down, sticking a finger in the gap of the tongue to slide across the sealed edges of the top.  The sound of paper ripping only served to accelerate his heartbeat; he managed to open the envelope and then peel the flap back to empty its contents on the kitchen table.

 

Two long folded papers popped out.

 

Dear Midoriya Izuku,

 

On behalf of all of the faculty at U.A., it is my pleasure to formally invite you to our school’s General Department to study next school year.  Choosing students for our education program is always difficult, considering our consistently high application rates, so we trust in our judgement—that you shall be an excellent addition to U.A.’s programs, and that you shall take advantage of the opportunities you are given at our school.

 

We know you are destined for excellence—

Principal Nedzu

 

Izuku could only tremble with the acceptance letter in his fingers, as Inko finished reading the letter from his side and immediately covered her mouth in elation, wrapping an arm around her son and squeezing him in a one-sided hug. 

 

“Congratulations, Izukkun,” she whispered to him, “I’m so proud of you.”

 

The green-haired male immediately felt tears rush to his eyes, and he pressed his sleeve against his face to catch them before they fell.  “Th-Thank you, mom,” he managed to get out, and in turn she only hugged him closer to her.  Then, she paused.

 

“Oh, honey—there’s a second letter,” she noted, patting his head once.

 

Izuku slowly relinquished his hold on his mother before looking to the second letter on the table.  Nervously, he picked it up and unfolded it, chewing on his bottom lip.

 

Young Midoriya,

 

Congratulations, my boy!  I am pleased to tell you that Prinipal Nedzu has granted you admission into U.A.’s prestigious General Department from both my recommendation, and Recovery Girl’s.  We have made him aware of your quirk and exemplary displays of heroism, and he, as well as I and Recovery Girl, have an additional proposal for your education at U.A.!

 

We hope you will seriously consider completing an internship/mentor-ship program with U.A.’s very own Recovery Girl in order to enhance the abilities of your healing quirk.  We are aware your ultimate goal is to become a great hero that assists in work on the front-line, and no better teacher to assist you in your goals would be Recovery Girl, with over forty years of experience as a pro-healer/hero. 

 

You will be expected to complete all of your assignments from the General Department, but on some days you may be asked to skip study halls/supplementary lessons in order to take lessons from Recovery Girl; on rare occasions, if your schedule permits, I will bring you along on excursions to the Heroics Department’s field trips! 

 

We sincerely hope you consider this offer.  This is the first time we have ever offered such an internship to a student not part of the Heroics Department—it is because we see such great potential in you, that we have proposed this opportunity for you.  Think it over well and make sure to get your mother’s permission—on your first day of school at U.A., should you accept our offer, please find Recovery Girl during your study hall in the health center to have a debriefing.

 

I look forward to seeing the great things you do at U.A., my boy! 

- Your friend, All Might

 

Izuku stared at the letter, his mouth wide open as his hands shook.  Inko was equally amazed, clutching onto his shoulder and staring at the letter as if it weren’t real.

 

“I-Izukkun,” she sputtered, “they’re offering you an internship with… a pro hero.”

 

“They are,” Izuku managed to reply, still trembling.  “M-Mom…”  He trailed off, afraid of what she was going to say.

 

Although Inko had been ecstatic at the prospect of Izuku going to U.A.—his dream school—she had also been upset with him that he had kept Yagi Toshinori a secret from her, and had been using his quirk to heal random strangers again.  She had given him a scolding just as thorough as her congratulations, and he knew that the idea of him training under Recovery Girl and actively practicing using his quirk would worry her even further.  That, and he hadn’t told her that All Might—or Yagi, rather—didn’t know the truth about his quirk: that Izuku didn’t possess a healing quirk at all, but an oddity known as Soul Bond.

 

But what she didn’t know—what Inko, All Might, and Recovery Girl didn’t know, that is—couldn’t hurt them.  It would only hurt Izuku.

 

And that wasn’t important.

 

“Honey, I’m so happy that these heroes believe in you,” Inko started, looking as nervous and worried as ever.  She fidgeted with her hands, “but I’m not comfortable with them training you, especially since that would entail you getting hurt every time it happens.  I don’t want to see you get hurt.”

 

“But…  If I never train and practice and learn how to use my quirk, then I’ll never be able to use it safely,” Izuku replied, his voice straining in desperation, “you know that not having a mentor won’t stop me from trying to use my quirk anyways.  If Recovery Girl taught me how to better use my quirk, so somehow I don’t hurt myself whenever it happens, wouldn’t that be great?”

 

Inko frowned, distressed.  “Izuku…  I don’t think there’s any way for you to possibly use your quirk without hurting yourself.  You don’t have a healing quirk—the injuries have to go somewhere.”

 

“I know, but what if maybe I could train so that someday, healing someone’s broken leg just sprains my ankle?  What if I become good at using Soul Bond, so that…  So that healing a regular injury only has a minimal effect on my body?  Back when I used to practice it on stray animals, the transfer of pain and injuries depended on a size-ratio; maybe if I somehow master my quirk, I can change the dependence on size-ratio to my experience using the quirk,” Izuku rambled, speaking at a mile-per-minute.  “I mean, I’m sure that even dad had to practice a ton before he became a healer at the hospital.  He was sturdy enough that he could go to work almost every day, so maybe it does depend on experience…”

 

He stopped talking when he saw the look on his mother’s face.

 

Inko’s features were scrunched up, as if she were about to cry—her large green eyes were frozen in fear, tears swelling at her lower lashes.  Her lower lip wobbled.  “P-Please, Izukkun, don’t…  Don’t,” she got out, quivering, “I don’t want to lose you like I did with your father.  Even if you train your life to be able to use your quirk, if you use it the wrong way just once…”  She inhaled, and burst into tears.

 

Izuku immediately wrapped his mother in his arms, guilt shooting into his system like a chemical bullet.  “I’m sorry, mom,” he whispered in remorse.  Her tears wet his shoulder and dripped down onto his arm.  “I’m sorry…  I was just, I…  I want to be a hero.”

 

“I know,” she cried, “I know you do.”

 

“I’m not going to use it the wrong way.  Any way I use my quirk, if it’s to help people who are hurting—then it’s the right way,” Izuku said, trying to build his confidence in his words.  He was so close to this opportunity that would help him to become a hero, he couldn’t quit now.  “I need this mentorship in order to be able to use my quirk correctly and help people while still keeping myself safe.”

 

“I know,” Inko replied, shaking.

 

Izuku steeled his will, “I’m not going to die and leave you alone.  I won’t leave you like dad did.”

 

There was a pause, then:

 

“I know.”

 

Izuku stared as his mother raised her head to look at him through teary red eyes, her mouth set in a firm line.  “I know nothing I can say will ever stop you from wanting this—from wanting to be a hero.  If there was anything I could do to stop you, I would’ve done it by now,” she whispered.  “So if you’re serious about this mentorship, you’d better be more careful than you’ve ever been before.”

 

Izuku swallowed hard, “I will be.  I won’t get hurt and make you cry.”

 

Inko sniffled, “you’d better not.”

 

Izuku hugged his mother once again, letting out a deep sigh he wasn’t even aware he’d been holding in.  She relaxed into his arms, and for a second, everything seemed like it would be okay.

 


  

It was only a week and a half later—and Izuku’s last day of middle school was largely uneventful.

 

He hadn’t spoken to Kacchan since the threat he had received two weeks ago, and for once, Izuku was making no effort to try and seek the other out.  His childhood friend would watch him, eyes trailing after Izuku, but he made no effort to try and talk to him.  Maybe it was for the better.

 

Izuku knew Katsuki had been accepted into U.A. by word from his mother; Inko was still friends with Bakugou Haruka, who had shared the news of her son’s acceptance into U.A.’s heroics department with Inko a week and a half ago.  Izuku didn’t know if his mother had told Haruka of Izuku’s acceptance, and he was hoping she didn’t.  Even though he was in the general department, Katsuki’s threat towards him still haunted him, making him tremble whenever he remembered it.

 

It was kind of pathetic, Izuku thought to himself.  What kind of hero was he, if he couldn’t even stand up to Katsuki, or at least ignore him?

 

At the end of the school day, most of Izuku’s classmates were tearfully hugging each other, saying their goodbyes.  The green-haired male, oddly uncomfortable with the idea of sticking around this odd place, full of bullies and former-friends, packed up his things as soon as the bell rang and wasted no time getting out of the classroom, exiting the building, and leaving the school grounds.

 

He didn’t want to stay and see the scathing looks of his classmates as they figured out he was going to U.A., but not entering the heroics department.  He didn’t want to stay and see Kacchan’s reaction to the news if he hadn’t already heard it.

 

Izuku had just made it past the school and down the block, thinking he was home free—until he heard the distant, familiar shouts of two of his least-favorite middle school classmates.

 

“Hey, you piece of shit!”

 

“Yeah, you useless Deku!  We didn’t know you got into U.A.—what the fuck?”

 

Izuku knew, just by the voices, who was pursuing him.

 

They were the two rowdy boys who had always followed Kacchan around in middle school, like his own personal entourage of bullies.  The larger boy had some kind of mutation quirk that had granted him a pair of leathery wings; the other had a curved, sharp horn sticking out from the middle of his forehead.  Izuku had always dubbed them as ‘vulture and rhino-boy’ respectively. 

 

The two had helped to contribute to a terrible middle-school experience, and had often taken over for Katsuki in bullying Izuku whenever their leader was sick or too busy doing something else to do so.  Apparently they wanted to commemorate their graduation from Shizuoka Middle in an expected way.

 

Izuku tried to hurry his steps and ignore the shouting, but the voices only got louder and louder as the two bullies gained on him.  Briefly, Izuku wondered if Katsuki had sent them after him; he shook off the thought, knowing that Kacchan would never do anything stupid enough to risk being rescinded from U.A., like being caught hurting another student. 

 

As soon as Izuku heard the two boys’ footsteps rapidly approaching, he took off in a sprint toward the shopping center.  Maybe if he outran them there, in such a crowded public space, they wouldn’t be able to do anything to him.

 

“You stupid nerd!”  Rhino-boy sputtered, suddenly forced to speed up, “get back here!”

 

“We’ll make you regret ever applying to U.A.!”

 

Izuku bit down on the inner part of his cheek as he ran toward the next intersection, only a block away from the shopping center.  He tried to speed up, hoping he could catch the next light and use the crosswalk in time to cut the bullies off, only to nearly choke as something pulled the back of his uniform collar back hard, and began tugging him away from the street.

 

Vaguely, Izuku registered that demon-boy was suddenly flying, and was ripping him away from his only outlet of escape.

 

“Hah-hah,” the kid sneered, “your short little legs can’t outrun my wings.  Quirkless loser.”

 

The rhino-boy snickered, and pointed at a nearby alley, right in between the old convenience store and an apartment complex.  “Go throw him in there, Jirou,” he ordered, suddenly the alpha-male in the absence of Katsuki.

 

Izuku grunted as his winged-captor suddenly dropped him in the entrance of the alleyway; he winced, knowing the ground was incredibly dirty, and his uniform was probably going to stain.  As he tried to get up, grimacing at the sudden pain on his left ankle, Jirou and his horned-friend blocked the entrance of the alleyway and smiled down at him with menacing smirks.

 

“Haven’t we outgrown this?”  Izuku couldn’t help asking, clenching his fists in irritation, feeling panic begin to course through his veins.  It was the usual feeling he got in these kinds of situations—ever since the incident with the drunk men who had beat him up only ten feet away from where he was now.  Izuku fought to calm himself, and continued.  “We’ve already graduated, and Kacchan doesn’t care about where I go, so long as I’m not in the heroics department with him.  Just leave me alone.”

 

“Maybe we don’t care what Bakugou thinks,” the rhino-kid jeered, “maybe for once, I just don’t like that a wimp like you got into U.A.  It’s not always about stupid Bakugou.”

 

Jirou looked less confident than his friend, but nodded, glaring down at Izuku.  “Y-Yeah.  Fuck that guy.  He never cared about us.”

 

The green-haired male immediately understood what this was about, and bit his lower lip.  “Kacchan doesn’t care about anyone,” he replied.

 

The horned-boy faltered for a second, and then his face become cold once more.  “Yeah, we know, you idiot.  He obviously didn’t care about you, either.  Why do you still call him that dumb nickname?”

 

Izuku didn’t have an answer for that.

 

“Whatever,” the horned-boy spat, cracking his knuckles, “Jirou, rough stupid Deku up.”

 

Jirou nodded to his superior, and immediately rose up into the air with his wings flapping furiously, then shot himself down with a kick aimed toward Izuku’s side.  Izuku couldn’t help the breathless gasp that escaped him as Jirou’s foot collided with his ribcage, and he fought the urge to let tears escape from his watering eyes.  Goddamnit—that’d hurt.

 

Izuku found himself curled up into a tight ball, nearly halfway into the fetal position, by the time Jirou had stopped kicking him and the horned-boy had started to whack him brutally with his fists, screaming at him, insulting him, but never hitting above the collar to preserve Izuku’s unbruised face.  The green-haired boy couldn’t help the tears at that point, trying just to shield his arms from the onslaught of blows that his emotionally-disturbed ex-classmate continued to subject upon him.

 

“Why is Bakugou so obsessed with you?  You, you—dumb Deku!”  He cried, spit flying everywhere, enraged eyes hooded with furrowed brows, “you don’t even have a quirk!  You don’t deserve to U.A. and you don’t deserve to be Bakugou’s friend!”

 

Izuku only cried, the other boy’s words barely registering in his mind.  His body was focused on trying to defend itself from the pain of sharp nails and solid fists.

 

“You should just die!”  The bully continued to yell, tears suddenly running down his red-face, “go crawl into a hole and die.  Just go away, you don’t deserve everything you have!

 

Go fucking die!”

 

There was a harsh punch aimed at Izuku’s stomach, and it successfully knocked the wind out of him.  Izuku cried out in pain, already feeling bruising begin to form at his stomach, and he curled his arms over his midsection in agony, trying to breathe only out of his mouth as he trembled. 

 

“Hey—what are you guys doing?”

 

Some masochistic part of Izuku’s mind, for a second, thought that the voice coming from the entrance of the alleyway, where the bright light was, was Katsuki’s voice.  That irrational piece of him wondered just how Kacchan had known he was here, being tormented by his old lackeys, being beaten black and blue by his old ‘friends.’

 

The logical part of Izuku’s mind knew better.

 

The voice coming from the entrance to the alleyway was tired and rough in a way that Katsuki’s angry, sharp noises could never possibly imitate.  The person’s words were low and slow and deep, too careful for Izuku’s childhood friend.  The green-haired male refused to look up from the ground of the alley.

 

“Mind your own business,” rhino-kid spat, furiously wiping his tears, “this doesn’t involve you.”

 

“Yeah,” Jirou mimicked, “it’s none of your business.”

 

Apparently, that was all the stranger needed.

 

“Go home immediately, and tell your parents what you’ve done to this kid as soon as you say, ‘tadaima,’ to them,” the stranger commanded, his voice suddenly taking on a cold and authoritative tone. 

 

There was a silence—and then Izuku looked up from the ground.

 

Jirou and his friend immediately perked up and stood up straight, as if they suddenly had realized something.  Their eyes looked foggy and far-away.  Without hesitation, Jirou fell in line behind his friend and the two immediately staggered out of the alleyway, splitting up once they reached the sidewalk and going their separate ways.  They nearly looked drunk, but there was none of the slurred speech or confusion—it was almost as if they had been…

 

“Brainwashed,” Izuku whispered, nearly out of breath, suddenly looking up to the stranger who had helped him with wide eyes.  The boy in front of him looked to be about the same age as him, only a bit stockier, and taller.  He had unkempt violet locks swept back from his forehead, and he didn’t look like he had gotten very much sleep recently—with dark bags under his purple eyes.  He was wearing a middle-school uniform that looked similar to the one of a neighboring school to Shizuoka’s, with his tie around his neck and the top two buttons of his undershirt undone.

 

“That’s…  That’s your quirk, isn’t it?”

 

At the mention of the word, “brainwashed,” the boy subtly flinched as if he had been pinched, and narrowed his eyes, shoving his hands into his pockets with a grunt.  “…Yeah,” he answered, scathingly. 

 

Izuku only looked up at the other in awe, before managing to close his gaping mouth.  He pulled his blazer back onto his shoulders, ignoring the scuff marks from Jirou’s shoes.  “U-Uhm, thanks for helping me out,” he got out, “sorry you had to see that happen.  I’m sure it wasn’t really pretty.”

 

The other male raised an eyebrow, looking just barely confused.

 

“Y’know, seeing a kid getting hit and stuff, and seeing another kid cry, and all,” Izuku tried to clarify, thinking of the way rhino-boy—what was his name?—had been crying while smacking him around.  His body ached and throbbed, but he still felt bad for the kid that had been another unfortunate victim of Bakugou’s.  “Thanks for getting them out of here before they got into trouble and got expelled from their new schools or something.  I appreciate it a lot, ‘cause that would have been pretty bad if it happened right after graduation, and…”

 

Izuku paused, realizing he had been babbling again.  He smiled, even though it hurt even to do that.  “Sorry, what’s your name?”

 

The boy looked at him in something akin to distrust, shuffling his hands in his pockets and staring harshly at the ground.  After a while, he answered carefully: “Shinsou.”

 

“Nice to meet you, Shinsou,” Izuku replied, getting up quickly and holding out his arm for a handshake, “I’m Midoriya Izuku.”

 

Shinsou hummed something noncommittal, and hesitated a second before reaching his hand out in return and shaking Izuku’s proffered one.  “Nice to meet you,” he said quietly.

 

The green-haired male brightened at the other’s response, and beamed.  Before he could think about his word choice, Izuku was already throwing himself into his quirk-analysis mode.  “Shinsou-kun, can I ask you some questions about your quirk?”

 

Shinsou’s previously neutral expression immediately darkened, and he snapped his arm back.  “No,” he replied sharply. 

 

Izuku reeled back, “o-oh.  I’m, uh, I’m sorry.”

 

Without a word in reply, Shinsou stepped back, turned on his heel, and briskly walked away from the alleyway, leaving Izuku confused and alone.

 


 

Izuku had gone home that night feeling guilty for having offended Shinsou—though he didn’t know what he had said or done to do so—and incredibly sore from the numerous bruises he had acquired from his encounter with Jirou and Kenta (Izuku had managed to remember the horned-boy’s name).  There were several large bruises spanning across his ribcage, and a nasty purple one on his stomach from Kenta’s last punch.  He didn’t even know how many wounds there were on his back.

 

Inko had immediately been inconsolable, believing Izuku had been carelessly using his quirk again without supervision; it was after Izuku explained to her what had really happened with his ex-classmates from middle-school, had her emotions transformed into rage.

 

“How could this have happened?”  Inko demanded, to no one in particular.  Her eyes were cloudy with frustrated tears.  “Weren’t there any adults there to stop this?  How could the teachers have not noticed those boys following you home?  Why did they do this to you—this is unacceptable!”

 

“Sorry, mom,” Izuku replied, and then winced.  Apologizing was becoming second-nature for him now.

 

“Oh, sweetie,” Inko’s expression softened, and she looked at him sadly, “I wasn’t talking to you—I was juts, upset, that this was allowed to happen to you.”  Her gaze then hardened again.  “I’m going to call the school board and tell them that they need to notify those boys’ parents immediately!”

 

Before she could reach the telephone across the room, Izuku got up and gently grabbed her arm, stopping her.  “N-No mom, it’s okay.”

 

“It’s not okay!”  Inko cried out, and Izuku gently guided her back to the couch.

 

“N-No, that’s not what I meant,” Izuku tried again, “I mean, someone helped me and chased off Kenta and Jirou.  I think he had some kind of brainwashing quirk—he told them to go home immediately and tell their parents they hurt me.”

 

Inko sagged a little in the chair, looking astonished.  “W-Who?”

 

Izuku nibbled on his lower lip.  “He only told me his last name—Shinsou.”

 


 

 

Izuku had managed to track down Shinsou only two days later, utilizing only a few facts about the other boy he had observed during their last meeting, and a few of his own resources.

 

Number one—he had noticed that Shinsou was wearing a middle-school uniform of a school that neighbored Shizuoka Middle.  The dark blue blazer combined with a red tie was the iconic uniform of Raiten Middle, which had a similar yearly schedule to Shizuoka’s, and Shinsou’s unbuttoned blazer and undershirt were both signs that he had finished his school day and was beginning to relax—meaning, he had probably just come from Raiten’s own middle-school graduation when he heard noises coming from the alleyway and decided to help. 

 

Shinsou was also a former third-year middle-school student, and like Izuku, he was going on into his first-year in high-school in a couple more weeks.

 

The second piece of information Izuku remembered was the striking dark circles under Shinsou’s eyes—those signs of exhaustion came from not just one or two days, but multiple weeks of insufficient sleep cycles.  Close to Raiten Middle-School was the infamous Raiten shopping district, a popular spot for tourists in Shizuoka, known for its raging night life, ranging from bright flashing lights of the casinos, to the loud pop-music playing from nearby restaurants and karaoke bars.  There were several apartment complexes nearby, and it wasn’t hard to put together that Shinsou’s exhaustion were most likely from being housed only minutes away from Raiten shopping district.

 

Once Izuku had pieced this together, his mom had called Raiten Academy’s offices and asked for the contact information of a former third-year student by the name of ‘Shinsou’—she had explained to the offices that the boy had saved her son from two nefarious neighborhood bullies and needed to be rewarded.  The headmaster had given Inko the boy’s home telephone number.

 

When Shinsou failed to answer the phone, Izuku only changed tactics and tried even harder.

 

Izuku had called each of the office numbers of the apartment complexes near Raiten shopping district and asked if Shinsou’s telephone number was registered in any of their residents’ contact information.  He explained to them that he wasn’t soliciting any of their residents, simply trying to find out if his ‘old friend’ Shinsou still lived in the same apartment complex he did a couple years ago.

 

The apartment managers had been pleased to hear Izuku’s young, boyish-sounding voice, and had readily believed him; it was at the third apartment complex, Raiten Tower, that a kind woman had confirmed Shinsou’s residence and telephone number over the phone.

 

As Izuku walked along the shopping district of Raiten later that day, a huge bag of baked goods in one hand (courtesy of Midoriya Inko, who had baked a bakery’s worth of sweets for the kind Shinsou who had helped her son) he hoped that Shinsou wouldn’t be disturbed at his efforts to try and find him to thank him, and apologize.  He did understand it was kind of scary, but he had good intentions.

 

Once Izuku arrived at Raiten Tower, he had taken it upon himself to sit outside of their building on one of the nearby benches, baked-goods seated on his lap.  It was just about the afternoon.

 

Izuku waited.

 

After the second hour Izuku spent, sitting on the bench, his eyes began to droop, heavy and lidded.

 

By the third hour, Izuku was nodding off.

 

By the fifth—the boy was dozing lightly on the bench, passerby looking at the kid curiously, almost amused by the little boy waiting for someone.  Thankfully, no one bothered him.

 


 

Izuku woke up at six thirty-two PM.

 

“What,” a familiar voice hissed, “are you doing here?”

 

Blearily, Izuku rubbed at his eyes, and noticed he was being nudged by Shinsou—the very person he had come to find!—and thankfully, he was still holding onto the baked goods, having held onto them while he napped.  The green-haired male barely found his coherence before he began rambling.

 

“Shinsou—I’m sorry if it seems creepy that I was here waiting for you, I know it kind of is—but I got home and I told my mom about how you saved me from Kenta and Jirou and we wanted to say thank you for what you did, because it was really nice and no one’s ever really helped me before in that kind of situation, so we baked you some sweets!  I don’t know if they’re that good, since I helped making them and I’m not great at baking, and we didn’t know if you were allergic to anything so we made two of everything—with and without nuts—and there are brownies and cookies and jam drops, and…”

 

Izuku took a breath to continue, but Shinsou cut him off with a tired look.

 

“How did you find out where I live?”

 

Izuku blushed, suddenly embarrassed, and looked down at his shoes, almost in shame.  “Uhm, well…  I noticed your uniform from the other day was from Raiten, and you looked kind of tired, so I figured you probably lived in this area, since it’s always so noisy at night.  My mom called Raiten Academy and asked them your contact information and the area you lived so I could thank you.”

 

Yes, Shinsou did not need to know that Izuku snooped around apartment complexes for forty minutes trying to figure out if Shinsou lived there or not.

 

Izuku shyly met Shinsou’s eyes, and was relieved to find the other boy didn’t seem creeped out—only mildly annoyed, but also… vaguely impressed?

 

Shinsou held out his hands, and Izuku automatically deposited the bag of baked goods in his hands.

 

“I wanted to say thank you for helping me out,” Izuku repeated, “but I also wanted to say sorry for making you upset.  I have a bad habit of rambling and being kind of nosey about quirks.”

 

Shinsou pulled out a cellophane-wrapped brownie, looking at it for a second before placing the bag down, and unwrapping it.  “Yeah,” he agreed.

 

Izuku’s face reddened.  “They’re just, uhm,” he stuttered, “really interesting to me.  I’ve always wanted to be a pro-hero, so I liked to study quirks when I was a kid…”  He trailed off, not noticing that Shinsou had looked at him in curiosity, ignoring the brownie.  Izuku gathered his courage, “and I just thought that you had a really amazing quirk, so I wanted to know more about it.”

 

Shinsou was suddenly staring at him incredulously, “an amazing quirk?”  He sounded half-surprised, half-distrustful; his mouth was pulled into a grimace.  Shinsou looked away, and chuckled humorlessly.  “Brainwashing isn’t amazing.  It’s evil.”

 

Izuku paused, understanding suddenly.

 

“O-Oh, no,” he managed to whisper, “your quirk…  It’s not evil,” he tried to get out.

 

Shinsou bit into the brownie, chewing and then swallowing before continuing dryly, “that’s not what the majority thinks.  Midoriya, I don’t know what kind of quirk you’ve got, but you’ve never been told anything bad about it, is what I assume.  When you’ve got a quirk that lets you manipulate whoever you want, however you choose, people are going to say things about it.”

 

They say things about you, too, went unsaid.

 

“It’s not what people say that matters,” Izuku said, trying not to let Shinsou know he was already beginning to tremble with emotion, “it’s what you do with it, that matters.  You saved me from those bullies, didn’t you?  You saved me using your quirk.  That doesn’t sound evil at all.”

 

Shinsou paused, huffing before he put his brownie down, and wrapped it again.  “That isn’t what people are going to remember, Midoriya.  They’re only going to remember what’s convenient to them; they’re going to think, ‘sure, he helped some kid getting beat up—but he also could’ve robbed a bank five minutes later.  He could have hurt someone using that same quirk.’”

 

“I’m going to remember what happened correctly,” Izuku replied, balling his fists in determination.  His lower lip wobbled a little, and he bit it to prevent it from moving.  “I’m not going to forget that you saved me in the same way any other hero would: with their quirk.”

 

This seemed to strike a nerve in Shinsou, and he scowled.

 

“What would you know about being a hero, anyway?”  He bit back, crossing his arms, “you couldn’t even stand up for yourself.”

 

Izuku tried not to take offense.  “I don’t have a quirk that would have been… useful in that situation,” he managed, not exactly knowing how to explain himself.  “But quirks aren’t everything—I’m going to be a hero someday.”

 

Shinsou snorted.  “Sure, Midoriya.  Let me be your sidekick when that happens.”

 

Izuku frowned, shifting on his feet.  “Shinsou,” he said quietly, “you want to be a hero.”

 

It didn’t come out so much like a question—more as a statement, needing confirmation from the purple-haired boy standing across him.  Shinsou’s eyes narrowed momentarily, before his entire cold demeanor seemed to melt a little.  It was starting to get dark out and Shinsou seemed more tired than ever before, his eyelids drooping slightly.

 

“Yeah,” he finally said, when the silence was starting to become crushing, “I guess I do.”

 

Everything clicked into place for Izuku, whose body sagged a little.  “I, uhm…”  He faltered, wondering if it would be okay to say.  “I kind of understand a little, how you feel.  Not in the same exact way, but something similar to it, I guess.”

 

Shinsou raised an eyebrow, seemingly amused.  “Oh, really?”

 

Izuku puffed up his cheeks, “yeah.”

 

Shinsou shoved his hands in his pockets, a coy smirk adorning his features.  “People insist your quirk is evil?  That you’ll be a menace to society?  That a power like yours is only suitable for a villain?”

Izuku frowned, “no—but people, they tell me that my quirk is only going to get me killed.  That I’m better off sitting on the sidelines.  That I—that no one wants me to help them because I’m just going to end up getting myself and others killed.”

 

Shinsou looked at Izuku with a serious expression, shifting his jaw.  “…  What’s your quirk?”

 

Izuku faltered—could he tell Shinsou about his quirk?  He had lied to All Might and Recovery Girl about the true nature of his quirk, and what it did, and they were pro heroes…  Then again, he doubted Shinsou would ever end up talking about him, of all people, to anyone else.

 

“Soul Bond,” Izuku replied decisively, though his voice was hushed.  “I can, er, connect with people and transfer their injuries to me.”  He paused.  “Not so much of an offensive quirk, really…  So it wasn’t exactly like I could defend myself from any bullies.”

 

Shinsou stared straight at him, for almost an unsettling period of time.

 

Eventually he said, “that sucks.”

 

Indeed.

 

Izuku sighed a little, and sat back down on the bench in relief.  At least Shinsou seemed to understand that Izuku knew where he was coming from.  “I get what you mean, about the whole quirk-heroics thing,” he said, “but I’m still going to be a hero, even if my quirk isn’t really suitable for fighting.”

 

He looked up at Shinsou, who stared down at him in quiet consideration.

 

“I think your quirk is amazing, no matter what anyone says.  It isn’t what others say about it, that defines it—and it’s not the possibilities that make it what it is, either,” Izuku explained, trying to get his message across to Shinsou, trying to get the other to see the truth.  “It’s what you choose to do with your quirk that makes it heroic.  It’s what makes you heroic.  You’re the one who saved me, after all.”

 

Shinsou only stared at him further, as if digesting all of Izuku’s words with a new set of senses.  His purple eyes looked clouded, as if he were reevaluating a particularly confusing puzzle, one that he had been attempting to solve for some time now.

 

Without a word, Shinsou exhaled deeply, turned on his heel quietly, and left.

 


 

 “Did Shinsou-kun like the sweets?”  Inko inquired, as her son took off his shoes at the entrance to their home.  He looked down, seemingly dejected.

 

“I don’t know,” Izuku replied, “I think I made him upset again.”

 

“Oh, sweetie,” Inko sighed, walking over to wrap her son in a one-armed hug, “I’m sure he’s not upset at you—maybe he had a bad day.”

 

“I think I was the cause of his bad day.”

 

Inko only chuckled, and kissed her son’s forehead.  “Don’t be silly, Izukkun.  Maybe you just need to give him some time—he might be shy.  Why don’t you come and help me set the table for dinner, and you can tell me about what happened?”

 

Izuku nodded, and did as he was told.

 


 

 It took another three days before Izuku saw Shinsou, once again.

 

Izuku hadn’t even been near Raiten when it happened—so for a moment, as he walked through the Shizuoka shopping center to get to the grocery store to pick up some vegetables for his mom, Izuku wondered if Shinsou had been trying to find him. 

 

He had seen the other male’s striking purple-hair before anything else and had immediately frozen in place, wide-eyed in surprise at Shinsou—his ever-tired, often-irritated acquaintance—holding a large, familiar-looking cat in his arms. 

 

When Izuku squinted, his suspicions were confirmed, and he couldn’t help running up to the other boy despite his previous commitment to giving Shinsou space after their slight argument. 

 

“Shinsou!”  He called, slipping through a couple people in the way, “Shinsou—wait up!”

 

The purple-haired boy froze at the sound of his name, and then turned around, relaxing slightly when he saw it was Izuku.  His mouth curled up into an amused grin, and he leaned slightly to the side to keep the cat’s weight more on one arm.  “Midoriya,” he greeted, not looking particularly upset.

 

“Shinsou, is that your cat?”  Izuku immediately started off, peering closer to Shinsou to get a better look.

 

Just as Izuku had thought, the cat in Shinsou’s arms was identical to Dottie, the cat he had often healed, fed, and generally looked after; she was the same cat that had given birth almost two years ago.  It had been food for Dottie and her kittens that Izuku had bought from the convenience store, the night that the drunk teenagers and their alcohol supplier had beaten Izuku up, only to be shown up by Bakugou. 

 

“She’s my cat,” Shinsou replied, not seeming bothered by Izuku’s interest in her.  In fact, he raised his arms up a little, so that the green-haired male could more easily stroke her head.  When Izuku did, the cat purred, looking up at him with pleasant orange eyes.  “… Her name is Tama.”

 

Izuku beamed, scratching Tama behind the ears.  “Ah, I see.  She just, kind of… reminded me of this stray cat I used to feed a couple years ago.”

 

Shinsou looked curious at that.  “…  She doesn’t usually take very well to strangers.  And… I did adopt her from a shelter.”

 

Izuku perked up, “do you think…?”

 

Shinsou shrugged, though his expression of interest was evident.  “… Maybe.  Who knows?”

 

Izuku couldn’t help the smile that spread across his face—he was quickly beaming from ear to ear, as he gently rubbed Tama’s cheek.  “I was worried about Dottie—er, Tama—I used to call her Dottie back then, because of all of her spots,” he explained, “she had kittens a couple years ago and then disappeared with all her babies a little while after.  I used to feed them every day and so I was scared something happened to her, you know?  I’m glad to see that she’s found a good home!  She was a great mother and she really deserved it.  It must have been hard for her…”

 

“You’re mumbling,” Shinsou noticed, and Izuku jolted.

 

“Haha, sorry,” he chuckled, looking back at Tama, who meowed at him.  He grinned, remembering just how hard it had been to gain her trust at first.  When he first saw her in an alleyway, half-starved and with a slashed paw, he had to have spent almost an hour coaxing her to get close to him in order for him to heal her.  Even after that, she had hissed at him.  It had taken feeding her every day and baby-steps to befriend her, and luckily, she still remembered him.

 

Izuku bent down a little, and gently overturned her paw.  His eyes lit up when he saw a familiar shaped scar near her toes.  “Shinsou—look,” he said, waiting for the other’s gaze, “I healed this injury for her two years ago when I first met her.  Tama is Dottie!”

 

Shinsou paused, “you healed Tama?”

 

“Yep,” Izuku nodded, squishing the cat’s padded foot gently.  Tama meowed at him, but let him play with her foot.  “I told you my quirk lets me transfer injuries, so it’s kind of like I can heal people or animals if I use my quirk on them.”

 

“But… you have to transfer those injuries to yourself, don’t you?”  Shinsou asked, eyes narrowing.

 

Izuku reddened a little, “yeah, but healing animals isn’t so bad, since they’re small.  Tama’s injury only gave me a small cut on my hand,” he assured the other.

 

Shinsou hummed something in reply, and Izuku grinned up at him.

 

“Are you shopping right now?”  Shinsou asked, and Izuku was surprised at the question, but nodded.

 

“Yeah—my mom wanted me to buy her some vegetables and stuff from the grocery store,” he replied, standing up straight and patting Tama on the head.  He truly was glad to see she was okay—though he wondered what happened to her kittens.  “What about you, Shinsou-kun?”

 

The violet-haired male shifted onto his other foot.  “I’m taking Tama to the vet for a regular check-up.”

 

Izuku smiled, “oh, uh, nice.”

 

It was awkward for a second, before Shinsou continued.

 

“If you want to—since you helped Tama out before, I mean—you can come to the check-up, to see how she’s doing.  Since you haven’t seen her in a while,” Shinsou explained, adjusting his cat’s weight in his arms.  “If you want to,” he repeated.

 

Izuku fought the ear-wide grin off of his face, “I would love to!  I can get my mom’s vegetables after, too.”

 

Shinsou gestured to the animal clinic, on the other side of the shopping center, only a minute away.  “All right.”

 

Izuku followed Shinsou across the shopping center over to the animal clinic.  He held the door open for Shinsou, who only grunted his thanks.  The two entered, and immediately a small dog started yipping from the corner of the waiting room, and a lovebird chirped curiously at them.

 

An old woman hushed her dog, and Izuku smiled at it.

 

Shinsou walked over to the help desk, where he signed in—almost immediately, the secretary there smiled at him, and pointed over to the entrance to the check-up rooms.

 

“You can go ahead, Shinsou-kun,” she said with a bright smile, “Horihata-sensei is already inside.”

 

“Thanks,” he replied, and gestured for Izuku to follow him.

 

Once inside the hallway, Shinsou seemed to know exactly where he was going.  Izuku trailed behind him, following him into one of the nearby check-up rooms.  There was a table in the center of the room, for the pet to sit on, and the walls were plastered in animal health posters.  A table nearby was covered in equipment, and a man standing near it was fiddling with one of the tools.

 

“Horihata-sensei,” Shinsou called, and the doctor turned around.

 

“Shinsou-kun!”  He greeted, and then looked to Izuku with a curious smile, “you’ve brought a friend with you, to Tama’s checkup?”

 

Shinsou hesitated, before he did something unexpected.

 

“Yeah,” he replied, “this is Midoriya.”

 

Izuku flushed, not expecting Shinsou to have called him his friend—but he offered a wave to the veterinarian, who grinned at him, and gestured to the chairs they could wait on.  Shinsou let Tama onto the table where she curled up with a pleased expression.

 

The examination was simple and fast, and Izuku was impressed by Horihata’s skill in handling Tama.  The cat seemed to be comfortable with the doctor, and knowing just how difficult Tama had been in the past, that was a feat in itself.

 

“She’s very healthy, Shinsou-kun,” Horihata-sensei said, putting his tools away, “you’ve been taking very good care of her.  She’s also been losing some weight, which is good too.”

 

Shinsou nodded, looking more serious than Izuku had seen him before.  “Yes—I’ve been feeding her with the special food you recommended…”

 

Their conversation trailed off to be more advice from Horihata to Shinsou, on what foods to give Tama, and which foods to keep her away from, and how to make sure she was exercising enough.  Izuku listened, happy that his old friend was doing so well.

 

“Thank you for your time,” Shinsou said politely, once the health review was finished.  He held out his arms, and Tama approached him.  He scooped her up.

 

“No problem, Shinsou-kun,” Horihata-sensei replied, “keep up the good work with Tama.”

 

Izuku waved a timid goodbye to the vet, before he followed Shinsou out of the check-up room and back out into the waiting room, where the old woman and her dog and the bird still sat.  Shinsou finished up talking to the secretary before Izuku opened the door up for him, and they exited the building.

 

“I’m glad you’ve been taking good care of Tama,” Izuku said candidly, “she used to have a tough life as a stray, so I’m happy that someone is taking care of her now.”

 

“Thanks,” Shinsou replied simply, “she’s a good cat.”

 

Tama meowed, as if in agreement.  Izuku chuckled.

 

There was a beat of silence.

 

“W-Well, I should probably get going so I can get my mom’s vegetables in time for dinner,” Izuku laughed, stuffing his hands into his pockets.  “It was nice seeing you and Tama again, and…  I’m sorry for what I said the other day.  If it was… y’know, out of line.”

 

Shinsou only shrugged, “it’s fine.”

 

There was another pause, before Shinsou spoke.

 

“188, 365, 7098.”

 

Izuku blinked.

 

“W-What?”

 

Shinsou exhaled, rolling his eyes—though Izuku knew he wasn’t actually irritated.  “It’s my phone number,” he clarified, and repeated it—as Izuku scrambled for his phone in his pocket, immediately saving the number into his contacts.  “You can… text me, if you want to know how Tama is doing.  I’ll text you updates whenever I go to the vet.”

 

Izuku reddened—he only really had a few contacts in his cell phone, so he couldn’t squash the excited feeling bubbling up inside of him.  He smiled gratefully to Shinsou, who looked away.  “Th-Thank you so much,” he said quickly, “I really appreciate it.”

 

“I’m doing it for Tama,” Shinsou replied.

 

“Sure,” Izuku agreed, and stood there for a few seconds, watching as Shinsou nodded at him, before adjusting Tama in his arms again and walking away, disappearing quickly in the sudden throng of people in the shopping center.

 


 

 

5:43 PM

izuku: hello?  Is this shinsou-kun??

 

5:44 PM

izuku: it’s Izuku, just making sure I have the right number haha!! 

 

5:45 PM

izuku: sorry if I’m texting at a bad time, just wanted to say hello!  Hope you and tama have both eaten dinner!!!! 

 

5:54 PM

shinsou: yeah, it’s me.

 

5:55 PM

shinsou: - attached: image1.jpeg

 

5:55 PM

shinsou: Tama just finished her dinner.

 

5:59 PM

izuku: I’m glad!!!!

 


 

 

7:33 PM

izuku: hey, shinsou-kun, sorry to bother you again but I was just wondering….

 

7:35 PM

izuku: were there kittens along with Tama when you adopted her at the shelter?

 

7:38 PM

shinsou: no, I don’t think so.

 

7:39 PM

shinsou: if there were, none of the volunteers there told me about them.  Why?

 

7:43 PM

izuku: oh

 

7:44 PM

izuku: because tama had kittens a little before I lost track of her so I was wondering if they also got picked up at the shelter when she went missing haha because they all disappeared at around the same time so I just thought that maybe hopefully they all ended up together, or I don’t know

 

7:47 PM

shinsou: you manage to ramble even through text messages.

 

7:50 PM

izuku: haha

 

7:51 PM

izuku: sorry

 

7:53 PM

shinsou: maybe her kittens got adopted before she did, so I just never saw them.

 

7:54 PM

shinsou: be rational, midoriya.  They probably also got picked up along with their mom, and they were probably adopted too, since most people like kittens over adult cats.

 

7:55 PM

shinsou: stop freaking out.  They’re fine.

 

7:58 PM

izuku: you’re right, shinsou-kun!!

 

8:00 PM

izuku: thank you

 

8:03 PM

shinsou: yeah, it’s fine.

 


 

 

11:04 AM

izuku: hey shinsou-kun!!  Did you see the news on All Might today?

 

11:06 AM

izuku: I assume you like heroics since you also wanna be a hero—there was a big news story the media did on him defeating a bank robber villain today!!  It was so awesome!!!! :D

 

11:08 AM

izuku: hold on, I’ll send you the link to the article they wrote on him!!!

 

11:09 AM

izuku: It was so cool!!!!!!!!

 

11:11 AM

izuku: - attached: newssource/AllMight/thedailystory.link

 

11:14 AM

shinsou: although this isn’t Tama related messaging, I’ll excuse you because the article is about All Might.

 

11:16 AM

izuku: :D

 


 

 

3:30 PM

izuku: who’s your favorite pro-hero, shinsou??

 

3:40 PM

shinsou: I don’t think you’ve heard of him.

 

3:44 PM

izuku: try me

 

3:48 PM

shinsou: I actually really like Eraserhead.

 

3:49 PM

shinsou: he’s an underground hero, but he’s really cool.  You can tell he’s not a pro hero because he likes the attention—he does it because it’s the right thing to do.

 

3:52 PM

shinsou: there’s not much merch on him.  Or news stories, because he’s underground, but.

 

3:55 PM

izuku: I’ve heard of him!!!

 

3:57 PM

izuku: he’s got an amazing quirk—he can erase any other person’s quirk for as long as he looks at them, right?  Though you have to wonder if he can erase mutant-type quirks, considering those are a part of someone’s genetic makeup.  I wonder what mutant-type quirk users would look like without their different body parts????  Though I guess changing someone’s molecular makeup wouldn’t be very subtle if you’re trying to fight them because then they’d know your quirk has something to do with the erasure of a quirk

 

4:01 PM

shinsou: rambling, midoriya.

 

4:04 PM

izuku: sorry!!

 


 

 

11:17 PM

shinsou: who’s your favorite pro-hero?

 

11:30 PM

izuku: sorry I was getting ready for bed!!!!!!

 

11:32 PM

izuku: my favorite hero has to be All Might, haha!!! kind of predictable but he’s always been the best to me!

 

11:34 PM

izuku: I like most of the pro-heroes well enough though!!  they all seem so great honestly.  I have tons of respect for the industry and how hard they work.

 

11:38 PM

shinsou: yeah, me too. 

 

11:40 PM

shinsou: people don’t always see or think about how much training it takes to be a pro hero.  they always only see the battles, not the training.

 

11:42 PM

shinsou: even for the less glamorous heroes, they have to put in a ton of work, all so that they can continue to serve the public.

 

11:44 PM

shinsou: that’s really admirable.

 

11:45 PM

shinsou: or at least, that’s what I think, anyways.

 

11:47 PM

izuku: I agree completely!!!! 

 

11:49 PM

izuku: it’s the most noble investment you can make: a life of public service for the people you care about!

 

11:51 PM

shinsou: yeah.

 

11:53 PM

izuku: we’re lucky to have heroes who protect us.  That’s why one day I want to give back!!

 

11:54 PM

izuku: no matter what other people say, I’m sure it’s possible to become a hero.  I’m sure even All Might had people who told him he couldn’t become a hero!!!  even he probably had struggles!!

 

11:55 PM

izuku: I want to become a hero, no matter what

 

12:00 AM

shinsou: me too.

 

12:06 AM

shinsou: hey, izuku.

 

12:09 AM

izuku: yeah???

 

12:11 AM

shinsou: thanks for the brownies and stuff.

 

12:11 AM

shinsou: Sorry I never told you that before.

 

12:12 AM

shinsou: they were really good.

 

12:14 AM

izuku: J!!!!

 

12:18 AM

shinsou: I start school tomorrow. 

 

12:19 AM

shinsou: High-school. 

 

12:20 AM

shinsou: so I don’t know If I’ll be as open to texting as before.  I might be busy.

 

12:22 AM

izuku: don’t worry—me too, actually!!!

 

12:24 AM

izuku: I’m excited about my first day but I’m pretty nervous too haha!!! I’m gonna have a lot of things to do and learn if I want to be a hero.

 

12:26 AM

shinsou: yeah, same.

 

12:28 AM

izuku: I’m super glad to hear you say that.

 

12:29 AM

izuku: er--- see you text that, I mean.

 

12:30 AM

shinsou: I understood what you meant.

 

12:31 AM

shinsou: get some sleep, izuku

 

12:33 AM

izuku: ??!??!?!?!??!?@????!?#@#?@?$

 

12:34 AM

izuku: omfg wait shinsou-kun omfg

 

12:36 AM

shinsou: it’s hitoshi

 

12:38 AM

izuku: !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

 

12:40 AM

izuku: o-k, hitoshi-kun

 

12:42 AM

shinsou: that’s fine.

 

12:44 AM

shinsou: go to sleep

 

12:46 AM

izuku: yes hitoshi-kun!!!!!! :)

 


 

 

Precisely seven hours and fourteen minutes later, one shocked Midoriya Izuku, fit in a comfortable grey U.A. blazer and red tie, stared directly into the (rare) surprised face of one Shinsou Hitoshi, dressed identically, gaping at across the gates of U.A. high-school.

 

This was how Izuku’s high-school experience began.