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Dancing away from the void

Chapter Text

Midoriya Izuku hasn’t had an easy life.

He’s a dreamer in a world where dreams can come true. He has a heart of gold and the spirit of a hero, but according to the doctors, he wasn’t going to be one thanks to an extra joint in one of his toes. Deemed as quirkless, his life went from bad to worse since that moment.

His mother couldn’t do anything for him. She could only cry and hug him, asking for forgiveness when Izuku didn’t need that. He tried to surpass every obstacle to achieve his dream of saving people with a big smile, but the world itself seemed to disagree with him. That would be the only reason he crossed paths with Bakugou Katsuki, his personal nightmare.

Still, he tried to surpass him too. Izuku tried to ignore every mean comment, forget and forgive every injury the blond caused to him. He tried to fool himself about how everyday it was getting harder to get out to bed, go to a school where no one liked him, were the ones that should protect him failed him over and over again… His mother was probably the only reason he kept trying. Her and his childish dreams, fueled by the amazing power and the bright smile of All Might.

But today was enough.

There is a method that can let you be a hero…

He couldn’t do it anymore.

…make a leap of faith from the rooftop and believe with all your might that you’ll have a quirk in your next life.

Almost ten years of enduring an unfair life. Almost ten years of mockery, of hatred when he didn’t do anything, of nothing but pain. He couldn’t do this anymore. He couldn’t pretend that everything was alright when nothing was fine, when his world was falling apart and no one but his mother cared.

He couldn’t…

He wouldn’t.

“A leap of faith?” He laughed bitterly to himself. He was alone in the classroom.

His body moved on his own, walking slowly towards the stairs. He couldn’t see well; the tears didn’t let him see properly. After crossing the door to the rooftop, his body was shaking.

“WHAT DID I EVER DO TO YOU?!” the scream tore his throat. It felt like burning. His mind was full of Kacchan, of his lackeys, of his teachers and the world itself.

He was choking with his sobs. The tears flowed angrily and his head hurt from crying. It wasn’t fair. He never did anything wrong to him. Neither to his classmates nor to his teachers. He was a dreamer boy and that was all. Why did everyone hate him for that? Why couldn’t they leave him alone? What was so wrong about dreaming?

Without noticing, he was by the edge of the rooftop. It was a long fall. No one was around to see him.

That was good.

“I’m sorry mom,” he said, looking the sky. He was wondering how long it’ll take for someone to find him. “I love you.”

And he let himself fall.

The air was nice, not warm but not chilly either. It was almost as if the air around him was embracing him lovingly. It was something silly to think while you were falling to your certain death, but he was oddly at peace.

He was going to end this.

The crash with the ground was instant. It was one short instant where he only heard a loud crack, like something breaking loudly (similar to a thick branch breaking from a tree) and then darkness enveloped him, death coming quicker than he could have ever imagined. Faster than falling asleep. Almost painless.

If anyone was at the school grounds by that hour, they’d have found the dead body of a student. He was not really recognizable at first glance; his whole body was broken, bend in unnatural angles. It was like every bone in his body broke with the impact and blood splattered everywhere. His eyes were open, fixed and unfocused. His uniform was torn apart, all the white covered with dirt and blood. He had let himself fall from the rooftop, getting away from the world that rejected him for not being like everyone else while still daring to dream.

Oh, what a cruel world.

However, as we already know, life is unfair. Even for the dead.

Less than a minute after the boy died from the crash to the ground, invisible black dust emerged from the body. It was like dreamsand, but completely black and with a density that was abnormal. It poured from every wound and covered his whole body, and suddenly the fixed, unfocused green eyes were focused again and Izuku took a large gasp of air, breathing erratically while regaining his senses.

It took him a moment to start moving, quite in shock.

He looked at his hand, splattered with blood. They weren’t shaking, not yet. His breaths became shallow with every passing moment and slowly, he stood up.

His clothes were a mess. Blood and dirt were everywhere. His mind was blank, still trying to process what the heck just happened.

Izuku looked up to the sky and the last memories came rushing to him.

He jumped from the rooftop.

He killed himself.

He threw up and then started crying, feeling sick. His mind was a mess, clear memories of what just happened and the state of his clothes were proof enough that he succeeded in his attempt of suicide.

Then how was he alive?

After breathing deeper and giving himself a couple of minutes to calm down (not being quite successful, but at least he could avoid throwing up again) he moved his body slowly. He wasn’t hurting in any place; in fact, he felt healthier than ever. Even the weariness of insomnia and depression was erased from his body.

This was impossible.

He just jumped from a building, for god’s sake!

Feeling panic rise again in his chest, he tried to stop it from coming but was failing. With a shaking hand he took out his phone from his pocket. It was completely shattered and useless.

Wait. What time was it?

“…My mom’s going to freak out so much,” He said out loud, looking at his ruined clothes.

With his mind as blank as he could, panic eating him alive and a drenched notebook nearby, he retrieved his notebook from the little pond and returned to the building to change to his P.E clothes. He’d look ridiculous, but at least there wasn’t any blood on it. After changing, he found his forgotten backpack in his place and started to slow walk to his home.

He had to toss his bloody uniform somewhere. Thank heavens he had a spare one at home, a bit old but it would work.

The walk home was weird; it felt longer and shorter than ever at the same time. Even more, he wasn’t able to focus on anything. He barely remembers tossing his uniform in a large trashcan a few blocks back, but actually wasn’t sure of doing it.

He stopped in front of the door, suddenly doubting.

Checking his backpack, the uniform was gone.

“Well…” He shrugged. It was hard to care about anything now.

He opened the front door, kicking his shoes off and hearing pots clacking. The smell of something brewing would have been appetizing any other day, but not now. Not today.

“Mom! I’m home!” he greeted, taking a large coat to hide his P.E clothes and hoping she’d be too busy cooking to notice him. His voice sounded a bit flat and fake to his own ears, but deep down he hoped his mother wouldn't notice.

“Welcome back, Izuku. How was school today?” her voice was cheerful as always, thankfully, and he couldn’t even wince at her question. 

He was about to answer, dragging his feet over the floor, wanting nothing but to lock himself up in his room until dinner. However, a weird shadow that was too big to not notice called his attention and when he got near to see what it was, all he could do was scream.

“Izuku? Izuku! What’s wrong?!” His mother appeared in her apron, freaking out by her son’s scream.

In front of him, next to the TV, looming in a slenderman-ish way was a dark, tall, ghost-mummy thing without face.

Chapter Text

“Izuku! Baby, what’s wrong?!”

He was, in fact, trying to say something but apparently his ability to articulate anything was impossible. His eyes were glued to the ghost and he could only try to point at it with a shivering finger. The creature itself wasn’t actually moving, just standing there, with black particles floating around it. However, for Izuku, that was enough. After just a couple of seconds, he took his mother’s arm and yanked her behind him.

“M-M-M-m-m-moM!” He cried, protecting her with his own body, adrenaline flowing rapidly through his veins.

Suddenly, the black mummy-ghost started to vanish in front of his eyes. Izuku shrieked, trying to be brave, fists prepared to throw a punch even though he was shaking like a leaf. However, it wasn’t necessary; the ghost disappeared harmlessly and they were alone again.

Still feeling the adrenaline pumping in his body, he took a couple of deep, trembling breaths and turned to face his mother.

“Izuku, you’re scaring me.” Concern was clear in his green eyes and she immediately took him by the arms, rubbing his forearms tenderly.

Her touch was comforting enough to let him take a few deep breaths and steady his frantic heartbeat.

“M-Mom… m-mom there… t-there was a g-g-g-ghost.” He felt like he was 5 years old again, trembling in his bed after Kacchan spent most of the day telling all the gang horror stories.

“A ghost?” Her stance immediately relaxed, feeling all her anxiety disappearing.

Izuku nodded nervously, his eyes darting from his mom to where the figure was.

“Don’t be silly, baby.” She cupped his face with her hand, warm and a bit sweaty from stirring the soup. “Kuro-chan doesn’t do anything, you have nothing to worry about.” Her tone was calming and motherly, the one that Izuku could always rely on to make him feel safe.

The adrenaline started to fade, leaving him exhausted and a bit slow, but that was okay. He was at home, his mom was there, he had nothing to worry about now.

Except he had.

“Izuku, what happened to your uniform?” With all the scandal, Inko didn’t notice until now the lack of the school uniform.

“Kuro-chan?” Izuku repeated, just processing his mother’s words.

“Izu--” She suddenly gasped, covering her mouth with both her hands. “Izuku!” Her eyes reflected nothing short of terror, quickly making the proper connections with the sudden events. She looked directly into his eyes and Izuku felt exposed, naked and in danger.

Her mother had those knowing eyes only a mother with her child could bear.

“Mom, that ghost!” He tried to say, but her voice, usually tiny and sweet, overshadowed his own.

“Izuku, you can’t see Kuro-chan!” She said in disbelief. “You can’t… you can’t see him. You’ve never been able to.” Her eyes watered and before he could do something, big fat tears were flowing freely on her cheeks. “I-Iz-zuku…” Her knees gave out and he was close to no catching her in time, but he did and she was hugging him so tight that it was getting hard to breathe.

Inko was a crying mess, holding her son like a lifeline, crying her heart out while trying to articulate words but failing miserably. Izuku could only understand “baby”, “my boy”, “lost”, and nothing else. For the first time, he was completely at loss about what was breaking his mother so much, but the only thing he knew is that he wanted it to stop, because watching her like that was far more painful than any death.

They stayed like that, hugged on the floor, for almost half an hour. Whatever soup she was making was spilled over the kitchen counter, but fortunately nothing was burnt aside from food. Without saying anything, they stood up slowly and, still holding hands, Inko slightly turned and saw the mess.

He was about to say something, but she was quicker.

“Izuku, go and change clothes while I clean this.” Her voice was little, tired, and extremely sad. It broke Izuku’s heart.

“But mom--”

Please, ” She begged. Izuku felt like crying again. “I… I-I need a moment.”

Reluctantly, he let her hands go and went to his room. Inko watched her boy walking slowly and her eyes practically devoured his frame. There was no limping, no scratches, no injury. The skin she could see was dirty and, with enough attention, she could see patches of dried blood here and there.

More tears came. Grief overcame relief.

With slow movements, clumsy and still upset, she started to clean the kitchen. The half-cooked meal was totally ruined, but her appetite was gone. If Izuku wanted they could order take-out later, but she didn’t think he’d be very hungry after their talk. Still, she prepared the kettle to boil water, at least for a tea, and then kept on cleaning.

When Izuku was out again, after a short shower and with fresh pajamas, the kitchen was as clean as always. Burnt food was discarded and tea had just been served. Inko left a cup for him and took her own, sitting tiredly on a chair, wordlessly inviting him to take a seat as well.

He did, but the tea was left untouched.

A pregnant silence fell over them and Izuku didn’t know what to say. He was still unsure about his mother’s outburst earlier, but couldn’t find the way to ask.

Fortunately, she talked first.

“How did it happen?” she asked, tired and sad.

“W-What?”

“How… ho-how d-did you die?” Thank heavens he wasn’t drinking tea, because he was sure he’d have spilled it and choked on it.

The silence fell again, this time knowing and accusing.

He couldn’t find the correct words.

“Izuku…” She reached for his hand and instinctively he found hers half way, “…there’s something I need to tell you.” her hand was steady, but her voice was insecure, full of something akin of fear.

Their eyes met briefly before Inko closed hers, breathing deeply and exhaling slowly. With that motion, specks of black sand started to flow from her shoulders and quickly, the same creepy ghost-mummy appeared behind her.

Izuku wasn’t prepared to see it again, but the squeeze of his mother’s hand was enough to keep him still. His eyes drank the image of this nightmarish creature, but he again noticed that it didn’t move at all. It just stood there, without doing anything.

“I want to present you Kuro-chan,” She said, a faint hint of fondness in her voice. “He’s my real quirk.”

“WHAT?!” he opened his eyes excessively, out of words.

She squeezed his hand once again, demanding his attention.

“Please, let me finish,” She asked in such a defeated voice that Izuku winced.

Regrettably, she broke their hands apart and did a motion so known to her son that his highly analytical skills started to work at such a fast pace that his head hurt. She was attracting her teacup with her ‘quirk’, but instead of being attracted by nothing but telekinesis, the ghost extended its arm with rigid moves and took the teacup and left it in her hand.

The headache was starting to be unbearable.

“So you… all this time…” His voice was almost inaudible, but she could listen just fine.

“When I was five, I died in the car accident that killed your grandfather.” She started. Izuku remembered that story perfectly, but, of course, a bit different. “I’ve died a total of five times in my whole life. Kuro-chan was there from my very first death.” She looked over her shoulder and smiled sadly to the ghost. It started wandering by itself, aimlessly.

Izuku felt like his mind was about to explode.

“I tried to explain it to your grandmother, but she never believed me.” She looked everywhere but Izuku, and he was starting to feel anxious about it. “I wasn’t sure until my second death, but…” She sighed, “…after I realized that no one but me could see him and that he could, in fact, interact with solid things, it was easier to say that I inherited my father’s quirk of telekinesis.”

Before their eyes, the ghost started to dissolve again into that black sand.

Inko tried to take a sip of her tea, but her throat was tight. Her hands were also shaking too much and she’d just spill it. Lowering her cup, she felt another pair of hands covering hers.

She looked at him.

He was miserable.

“Izuku…” And there, she was crying again. “Ho-How did it… i-it happen?” she asked again.

The silence was so loud it hurt their eardrums. Whenever he saw her cry, he’d always end up crying too. However, this time his tears were full of remorse, pain and suffering. He bite his lip so hard it started to bleed. He lowered his eyes, hiding it behind the shadow his hair projected, and Inko couldn’t stop her sobbing.

Saying that she didn’t see the signs was a lie. Since Izuku was labeled officially as quirkless, he saw him grow a little more miserable everyday. She tried to compensate for everything that the world did to her precious angel, tried to give him all the happiness the world was so adamant of taking away from him, but she could only do so much.

She asked him several times, but ultimately respected his decision and believed his words. She asked the teachers, but they never addressed a serious problem.

The signs were there. They were in such plain sight that she could connect the dots so easily that it hurt.

“It is my fault,” And it was. What kind of mother ignored her son’s screams for help?

“NO!” His cry hurt them both, but even through his tears he stood up and faced her. “It wasn’t your fault, it was mine and mine alone!” He was fully ready to accept the consequences of his actions. He couldn’t blame her for anything; she tried her best, but he was too weak.

“I should have done something.” It was like she wasn’t listening to him.

“No! You couldn’t!” It was hard to talk, between his sobs and his headache. He felt exhausted, but he’d prefer to die again than let her think she was at fault. “Mom! MOM!” He screamed.

Inko was suddenly quiet, sobbing silently. Both of them were messy criers, with puffy eyes, red faces, and snotty noses. He was nursing his head with the heel of his palm and she was trying to subdue her crying with her hands.

Both teas were left abandoned.

Slowly, Inko stood up and hugged him again. This time, he hugged her with desperation, like she was going to vanish in the air like the creature before. Inko recognized all the feelings she was getting from him in that hug.

Her baby boy was broken.

With one hand, she started to caress his back, rubbing circles to calm him down.

“We are going to go to see a professional, okay?” She asked in a hushed voice. Izuku nodded weakly, the day finally catching up with him. “We are going to get through this together, like we’ve always done,” And she wasn’t just referring to Izuku’s depression and the mental scars of suicide, but about his new found quirk.

Izuku sobbed in her arms, finding refuge in that loving embrace.

“I love you Izuku,” she said, kissing his wet cheek. “I love you.”

Chapter Text

Saying that things at home were like always would be a lie.

They had both come to terms that Izuku had in fact inherited Inko’s quirk. And, after a bit of searching, they had gone to a first session with a really nice psychiatrist who made them both feel well enough to ask for a second session. Still, tension between them was palpable and uncomfortable.

Their daily routine wasn’t broken at all, but smiles were a bit forced, eyes lingered a bit longer than they used to, and touches were so soft that it seemed like they were asking for permission before doing so. It was like both of them were walking over egg shells, but none could break the cycle.

Inko was still deadly worried over Izuku. Knowing for sure that he was as immortal as her had a lot of implications that she didn’t felt ready to address, but still kept her up at ungodly hours. She knew him like the palm of her hand (or better) and this newfound ability could be a nightmare. Her son had been always a sacrificial type hero, getting beaten up instead of other bullied kids, and his quirkless status, even though it broke her heart to see his dreams destroyed like that, was probably the only real thing stopping him from pursuing the hero career. However, now he had a quirk. Her quirk, for god’s sake! And if he was unable to die…

She didn’t want to think about it.

Izuku, after the initial shock, had so many questions. The fact that his mother had lied about her quirk didn’t change his feelings for her at all. He loved her more than life, but he wanted to ask her so many things, about herself and their quirk. How did this quirk work? How were immortality and that black ghost related? Why couldn’t he summon one like she did? What limitations did it have? How he could use it to be a hero? Were there more cases like them known? How he could master it? Why wasn’t she a hero, even though she had such a quirk? What stopped her? How had she di—

He stopped immediately when his thoughts wandered that direction. The idea itself was incredible; it was indeed a unique and strong quirk. But he couldn’t think about death and his mother in the same track of thoughts. Not now, maybe not ever.

Three days after the incident, while shopping for dinner, he bought himself two new notebooks. He had to replace the one that was damaged by the water and, impulsively, he bought the second one. After passing all his notes to the new ‘Hero Analysis for the Future No.13’, he took out the second notebook and looked at it. It looked just like his other one, the same brand but instead of a blue cover it was a light green one. Taking a black marker, he started writing on the cover like he always did, but before finishing it ran out of ink. Discarding the marker, he took another one but before writing the rest, something stopped him.

Self Analysis

He meant to write ‘self analysis of new quirk’ (or something along lines), but for some reason that short title seemed more appropriate. Yes, he wanted to write down what he would later discover about his new quirk, but the broader title left him thinking.

“I think it’s better like this,” he said, doodling with the new, finer marker a rabbit head, whose long ears were suspiciously like All Might’s hair. For the first time in many days, he felt a little chuckle (a true one) leaving his lips and he left this new notebook inside the first drawer.

He was eager to try more things, but he wasn’t prepared yet.


It was four and a half in the morning when Izuku was softly woken up. His mom spoke with a soft voice, asking him to wrap up warm and meet her by the front door. It took him a few minutes and some cold water on his face to fully wake up, but soon they were out of their cozy apartment and walking god knows where.

“Where are we going so early?” He asked her, but she refused to answer immediately.

The walk didn’t take long. They soon arrived at an abandoned beach, full of trash and garbage everywhere. Why did she want to come here? He couldn’t imagine, but that beach seriously needed some cleaning. He had to walk faster when he noticed that Inko went in there, almost losing her within the walls of trash.

“Mom?”

“I’m here, Izuku.” Her voice led him to her and soon they were hidden between garbage, even though he was sure no one was going to be outside at almost five in the morning.

“What are we doing here?” This behavior was extremely weird for her, but his curiosity was enough to make him not worry much about it.

“Kuro-chan,” Inko called. Breathing deeply and exhaling slowly, the black specks appeared again and soon, the mummy-like ghost was standing before them.

It was still quite a view, even after seeing it appear before. It made him shiver, but he repeated mentally that it was some kind of extension of his mother, so they weren’t in any danger.

“I know you want answers and unfortunately, I can’t give you much.” Her sad smiles were something common lately and Izuku really wanted to change that. “I will be honest with you. This quirk scares me. Humans aren’t meant to escape death and I never truly understood the purpose of Kuro-chan. So before showing you what little I can teach you, I need you to promise me something.”

Suddenly, her tone was serious. Izuku has always known that even though his mother looked like a tiny and frail woman, she was someone as strong as anyone can be, with firm resolutions and ideals. Making her angry was a feat not everyone could achieve, but no one should ever be on her bad side.

So he knew that whatever she was about to say, it was the real deal. And he’d take this promise by heart, because if there was something he never wanted to do, it was to break her trust.

“Promise me you’ll respect your life,” She said.

And with that, he couldn’t find his own voice.

Inko saw the surprise painted in her son’s eyes. She knew his brilliant mind was probably thinking about any outcome this conversation could lead to, but she had taken him unprepared. Walking a couple of steps to erase the distance between them, she gently took his hands and caressed them with her thumbs.

He was like an open book, always wearing his heart on his sleeve.

“I know you, Midoriya Izuku.” The little stern note in her voice was as teasing as serious, “And I know that with this quirk you’ll pursue a hero career. I’ve seen the applications for UA over your desk and I respect your decision.” It was true. Her son’s brave, compassionate, caring and heroic heart made her proud, but she also knew better. “However, I don’t want this quirk make you throw away your life. Heroes all around the world can do their job without killing themselves, the fact that you can’t die doesn’t mean you should. You are reckless and that makes me worry, and I’ll have gray hair if you do that and I promise you that if you can’t work against it, I’ll forbid you from going to UA.” She hated being the bad of the story, but she knew him. And because of that, she knew he needed to understand this. Better sooner than later, her heart couldn’t take him dying recklessly every other day.

He was silent and she was afraid that he wasn’t ready for this conversation. But unfortunately, this wasn’t something they could discuss with the therapist.

“I love you and I’m so proud of you.” She kissed his hands, warm and so alive, “I always been. And because of that, I’m afraid of losing you.” The memory of the day he had killed himself would forever haunt her.

He squeezed their hands together.

“You’re not going to ever lose me,” He said, eyes watering and voice quivering. He rested his forehead over hers and the chilly breeze of the dawn made them shiver.

“I know,” She said. She’d die a hundred deaths before losing her son. “But sometimes, death is not the worst outcome.” She let go of his hand to cup his face, ready to catch his tears.

He nodded, not fully understanding that statement yet.

“We will keep going to the therapist and you’ll take it seriously, okay?” She really sounded like a mama bear now, but he was grateful for that. He needed her to be his pillar for now and she would gladly be.

“Okay” He promised, finally smiling. “Where is Kuro-chan?” He asked, suddenly noticing that the black ghost was missing.

“He probably vanished,” Inko said, releasing her son’s face. “Don’t worry, I can call him again,” And repeating the same motion from before, Kuro-chan appeared again behind her.

Izuku’s mind, completely awake now, starting to take mental notes,  his fingers itched to write down his observations about his mother’s Kuro-chan.

“Well, let’s start with something light,” She said with more glee than he had seen in days. It was good to see her more upbeat again.

He was so startled by the sudden noise (which sounded like a little explosion, if he could exaggerate), that his poor heart was racing madly in his ribcage.

“Oh… my… god,” Was all he could say, watching the black ghost closely.

With those awkward, somewhat rigid movements, Kuro-chan simply punched some of the garbage that was lying on a pile. However, said punch was strong enough not only to disarm the pile, but also to crush the metal thing to the point that he could no longer identify what the thing originally was or where it had landed.

Unknown to the Midoriyas, a lonely blond jogger with really poor health nearly had a heart attack for the sudden loud crash. Said man, used to jogging alone by that filthy beach to keep whatever health he had so he could keep powering up for few hours a day, stopped mid-run and after gasping for air and trying to force his heart to stop jumping from his chest, he tried to find the source of the sound by ear. However, nothing came in the immediate seconds and everything was as quiet and still than any other morning, so he resumed his jog and left the beach behind.

‘Maybe it was my imagination?’ he thought.

Chapter Text

Izuku liked to jog. It was an exercise his therapist had recommended to clear his head and it also helped to slowly start his intended training to prepare for the UA exam in eight months. He usually left near five in the morning, enjoying the silence of the city and the freshness of the air. His routine usually consisted of warming up his muscles, running while listening to music, stretching a bit, stop by the abandoned dirty beach to try and call for his own black ghost, and then jog back home, just in time for a quick shower and a light breakfast before going to school.

School was as hard as it has always been. He mostly tried to keep a low profile, enduring Kacchan’s treatment and keeping his grades high enough. After not much contemplation, he decided to keep his quirkless status, especially since he couldn’t summon a ghost like his mom to fake ‘telekinesis’. She agreed, relieved by his decision, so nothing really changed and he was starting to feel okay with that. Some days were harder than others, but he was slowly learning healthy mechanisms to cope with it. When he couldn’t, he tried to remember that he had only eight more months there and then he’d probably never see them.

Well, except Kacchan if they both got into UA, but that was a problem for another day.

Today he was jogging like every morning and, almost arriving to the beach, a second lonely figure appeared from the other side.

“Ah!” He recognized him immediately, his features being unmistakable. “Good morning, Yagi-san!” He greeted, stopping mid-path.

“Always so energetic, my boy,” greeted back the blond man, short of breath but overall okay.

Almost since the first day he started his jogging routine, Izuku started to encounter a tall and extremely thin man. His wild, blond hair, sunken eyes and ill frame was really eye catching, and not precisely for good reasons. At first he’d only watch him with a sidelong glance, feeling kinda rude, but after encountering him for a week, he shyly started to nod as a greeting to the other man.

Said man was, at first, surprised to be greeted in such subtle way. He was used to jogging alone, still too uncomfortable in his own skin (it’s still didn’t feel like his skin, even after years now) to let be seen by other bystanders, but after the young boy’s appearance he didn’t knew how to feel. He noticed his glances and wrongfully thought that he was probably thinking how scrawny and disgusting he looked.

He never expected a greeting.

That first day, he was so surprised that didn’t had time to do anything but keep jogging. The next day, however, after Izuku nodded again in acknowledge of his presence, he returned the polite gesture. Izuku was surprised, but smile slightly and the tall man felt like doing so too.

Soon, it was a routine. They never exchange anything more than that simple nod and never slowed down their rhythms, but the other’s presence was expected. Without knowing each other, two unlikely strangers started to form a weird jogging partnership.

Everything changed after three weeks.

Izuku woke up early and prepared himself to jog, his music player at full battery and some new songs added. He left his home in silence, careful of not waking up his mom, and started his routine.

By the beach sideway, something perked up his attention. The blond man wasn’t running his way and the boy felt something cold. Even if it was just one month, he never missed a day. He slowed down a bit, buying a little time. Maybe he was ill? He usually looked pretty ill, so maybe that was it. Or maybe he was injured? What if he was in the hospital? He didn’t know his name or anything, so he didn’t know how to look for him. And even if he found him, he was just a stranger that crossed paths with him every morning by chance. If any of them change their routes, that would be the end of their daily nods and acknowledgments.  

However, his frantic thoughts were soon put to an end when a lanky figure appeared from the other side. His jogging rhythm was slower than usual and when Izuku could see him properly, he saw trails of blood in the corner of his mouth.

“Mister!” He cried, breaking the morning silence, and ran towards him.

The man himself was struggling, but he was used to it. He just had a coughing fit a block from the beach, something he usually had multiple times during the day, but was conscious enough to notice that the boy was exuding worry and it was, again, his fault.

It was always his fault.

He was pathetic .

“Mister, are you okay?” Izuku blurted, nervous of even touching him. “Do you need me to call an ambulance or a friend o-or…? I have a handkerchief he—oh no, I left it at home. Stupid me. What’s open by this time? I should maybe call an ambulance or maybe mom would know what to do and…” He kept rambling, oblivious of the other.

“Young man, there’s nothing to worry about. I promise,” He said with a raspy voice, cleaning the blood with his forearm. “Your concern is appreciated, but unnecessary.” The first part was a half truth.

“O-Oh… I-I’m sorry, mi-mister.” Embarrassment warmed his cheeks, feeling awkward for his outburst. He scratched the back of his neck nervously and the blond stared at him, feeling fond of this kind stranger-not-so-stranger-anymore.

He ruffled his hair, trying to ease the nervous atmosphere between them.

“I think some proper introductions are in order, young man. I’m Yagi Toshinori.” The blond presented himself, feeling like addressing the boy as the ‘green-haired jogging boy’ in his head wasn’t appropriate anymore.

Nodding awkwardly, Izuku returned the gesture. It was good to put a name to this familiar face.

“Nice to meet you, Yagi-san. I’m Midoriya Izuku.”

It was the start of an odd friendship. They only met during the mornings, but now they shared routes after meeting by the beach and chatted a bit. It was a refreshing friendship for both of them. Izuku, who lacked friends, found Toshinori to be a really nice man with interesting opinions and was quite easy to get along with. Toshinori found Izuku to be a nice young man with a maybe-too-good-for-his-own-good heart. He was, at first, a bit uncomfortable with this new development because of his weaken form, but soon he noticed that Izuku genuinely enjoyed his company and didn’t mind his scrawny body.

It was… something new, even endearing. He liked his company and secretly enjoyed their little time together. It gave his days a nice change of pace, from his hero duties and health issues.

“Do you mind if we run a mile more today?” Izuku asked after they started to jog their, now, usual route.

‘Always so mindful of this old man,’ Toshinori thought.

“No time to lose if you want to be on time for school then,” Was  his answer, earning a bright smile from the green haired boy.

They jogged in silence for a few minutes before Toshinori’s curiosity won the best of him.

“I’ve noticed that you’ve been running longer distances day by day. Is there any reason for that? Not that I mind, I could use more challenges too,” He added quickly, not wanting to make him feel like he was forcing him to run. He was the number one hero, for heavens’ sake! If he couldn’t run a few more miles during the morning, what would his master or Gran Torino think of him?

Pathetic.

“Oh, y-you’ve noticed,” He laughed a bit awkwardly, pink dusting his cheeks. The idea of him getting into UA was still something embarrassing to say out loud; Kacchan’s voice still drowned his words, even when he wasn’t there. “Well, I want to start preparing myself to take the UA’s exam. I know if I study enough I can do the written exam, but the physical exam… and also there’s my lack of quirk mastery and I just wanna… I know it’s silly but…” With every new word his voice lost a bit of volume and gained a bit of speed until the point Toshinori couldn’t understand a word he said. He noticed that Izuku had stopped and was now standing several steps behind him, looking to the ground.

Toshinori didn’t needed to know him for a long time to notice how the topic had affected him and not exactly in a positive way.

“Young Midoriya,” He called, voice serious and resembling more of his All Might persona than the Yagi Toshinori that Izuku knew.

However, he immediately looked up startled by the stern of Toshinori’s voice, and that was what he was looking for.

“You must never be ashamed of wanting to be a hero,” He said, meaning every word. “I may not know you well, but for what little we’ve shared, I know that you possess the spirit of a hero. With hard work and that heart of yours, I know you’ll be able to enter UA. No…” He thought well the next words, careful to what to say, “… I know for sure, with hard work and your heart, you can become a great hero.”

Izuku blanked out. He wasn’t expecting those kind words from anyone, less so from his jogging partner. But he had been considering Toshinori somewhat of a friend, even when they just exchanged nods, so hearing that from him was actually more important than the blond could even imagine.

Before noticing, a couple of tears rolled down his cheeks. Toshinori panicked, thinking he had said the wrong thing, but Izuku’s genuine and pure laugh made him stop.

“Thank you, Yagi-san! Thank you!”

Toshinori had never seen a smile that bright before.

Chapter Text

It didn’t take long for Izuku to experience death again.

It wasn’t by his own hand this time. If anything, he was in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He was walking home from school a bit later than usual. After his suicide, he tried to avoid staying longer than he needed in order to escape from Kacchan. Yes, it was as cowardly as it sounded, but he wasn’t sure if he could still deal with him like before without the ‘protection’ of a full classroom. Whenever things became too tense between them, the urge to escape was so strong that once, after locking himself in the bathroom of his home, he had to physically stop himself from cutting his wrists with a kitchen knife.

‘You promised,’ He repeated as a mantra, finding it harder and harder to resist the seductive call of death. However, he was able to keep his promise and the knife returned to its respective drawer before Inko arrived.

He had hugged her desperately later that night. She didn’t ask anything while returning the gesture. He was grateful for that.

Unfortunately, this time he had class duty and his partner had ditched him, so he had to do everything by himself. It wasn’t much work and he didn’t mind the loneliness while doing it; if anything, he felt relieved. He didn’t want to hate anyone, because it was such a strong feeling, but he didn’t like them at all.

‘Just six and a half months,’ He thought.

After finishing all his duties, he checked that Kacchan and his lackeys were out of sight and when he was sure the coast was clear, he headed home.

Everything was alright. Nothing out of the ordinary.

Until he decided to take a detour from his usual route and, after a few minutes walking by the lone road, he suddenly couldn’t breathe.

He didn’t see it coming. It appeared by the manhole behind him, silent and deadly. With his putrid liquid body, he jumped over Izuku and immediately started to introduce himself by his mouth and nostrils. Instinctively, Izuku tried to pull him out, but the body phased through his fingers like water.

Along with desperation, Izuku could feel his lungs burning from the lack of oxygen and his mind clouding in pain. His head felt like it was full of cotton, making it impossible to compute anything but pain and agony, but somehow, he could still hear the evil laugh of the villain that was taking his body by force.

“A young vessel. This should be enough to escape from him,” He said between laughs, forcing his sewage body deeper into Izuku. “Don’t worry kid, this will only hurt a lot,” And he laughed.

He tried, he really tried to stop the villain. But his strength vanished quickly and it was like trying to grab water and he was asphyxiating and everything hurt so much . It felt like he was drowning for ages, even though his more logical side (the one that couldn’t function properly now, overpowered by his instinct to survive) would have told him under two minutes has passed.

The sludge villain was forcing himself inside and Izuku could feel him passing down his throat.

Almost three minutes. It should be over soon. While black dots covered rapidly his whole vision, a distant but powerful voice flew through the air.

“It’s fine now, young man. Why?”

He could recognize that voice everywhere.

“Because I am--!”

He was happy that All Might’s voice was the last thing he’d hear before dying.


All Might was cursing himself. When he went on the chase of that slippery, goddamn stinky villain, he never thought he’d find it suffocating a civilian. A kid, nonetheless! He had to do his job quickly if he wanted to save the poor boy, so his concentration went full on focusing a great deal of his strength in a single punch, enough to defeat that sludge villain.

He was so focused that he didn’t even have time to recognize who the victim was.

One Texas Smash was enough to blow him apart, releasing the entrapped body and letting it fall onto the ground. The pieces of the villain were scattered all over the place, but All Might was prepared and had a couple of empty plastic bottles to capture him. Knowing it was knocked out for the moment, he went to check on the poor victim, hoping he had been on time to save him.

The moment he took a step forward, his empowered form faltered.

“Mi… Midoriya?” His voice trembled, looking at the boy’s body on the floor.

The impression left him frozen in place. He couldn’t move his body closer, but he couldn’t tear his eyes apart from Izuku. He was there; sprawled on the ground, pale like a ghost and completely unmoving. He didn’t look injured. He looked de—

“Young Midoriya!” He cried while sprinting forward. He was okay, just passed out, right? He had to be okay! He had to!

But before he could even touch him, Izuku leaned forward, coughing like he was going to throw up his lungs, gasping for air and clawing at his throat with both hands.

All Might didn’t notice he had been holding his breath until that moment.

“Young man, that’s enough. You’re safe,” he said as softly as his typically boisterous voice allowed him. He took the boy’s hands away from his throat as gently as he could, noticing how big his were in comparison to Izuku’s.  Pieces of the sludge villain were dirtying the boy’s clothes and mouth.

Izuku, still not in fully control of himself, tried to focus his eyes in the man in front of him. Something deep in his mind told him that he, indeed, knew this man and that same thing in his mind, nested deep in his subconscious, filled him with a warm safety even before he could understand who was.

All Might was worried about Izuku. He could see how he was struggling to breath (not knowing that it was more of a residual memory and a backlash than a physical need) and couldn’t ground to the present yet. Thinking quickly about something Eraserhead once told him, he started to guide Izuku through some breathing exercises. Fortunately, the boy followed him out of instinct and soon his breathing rhythm was stable again and he was calmer.

“You scared me a bit, young man. But I guess it’s comprehensible, considering that villain tried to suffocate you.” All Might tried to ease the atmosphere by using his confident, hero voice. “You should go to the nearest police station, though. They could contact the paramedics so you’re checked.” He was still worried about Izuku’s condition after the attack, but tried to act as his hero self always did in order to not give away his true identity.

Casual friend or not, he had to protect his secret.

Unknowing for him, the more he spoke, the quicker Izuku eased his mind and started to recognize what just happened and who saved him.

And it was none other than his all time hero, All Might.

While the blond talked, Izuku found it again difficult to breath but for entirely fan reasons. His hero was there! In the flesh! And he just saved him! Well, ‘save him’ was a bit relative, since he had died and the feeling of coming back was not quite like waking up from passing out, so he was pretty sure he died and revive again, but that was not the point.

All Might was there!!

“A-A-A-All-All M-Mi-MigHT!” He finally stuttered, equal amount of dread and emotion. “T-Thank y-yo-you for s-savin-ng me! I-It’s such a-an honor!” He stood up so fast that the world spinned around him but he didn’t care at all. He bowed repeatedly, grateful and starstrucked.  

“N-Nothing to worry about, young man. Just doing my job,” He smiled his ten-thousand watt smile, trying to cover his own surprise. He knew Izuku was a fan of heroes, he was even aspiring to be one himself one day, but this fanboy reaction was quite unexpected. Normal for him, but unexpected nonetheless.

“You’re my inspiration! I a-admire you the most a-and I hope to be a hero like y-you one day!” He was so excited that his talking was quickly speeding up. “A-A-A-An-An autograph! P-Please, A-All Might!” With uncoordinated movements, he grabbed his backpack and took out a notebook with a light green cover.

He took it in a rehearsed motion and before Izuku could take a pen out, All Might took his own black marker and left a big autograph in two blank spaces. He tried to make it extra-special for him, drawing little things he usually didn’t do and soon, Izuku had his notebook back and he had stars for eyes.

Who would thought this was the same boy who was attacked just minutes ago?

“T-T-Th-Than-nk you v-ve-very mu-much! This will be my family heirloom!” All Might laughed his usual laugh, making Izuku giddier.

“Well, I’ll finish this job and send this criminal behind the bars. Take care, young man, and keep supporting me!” He repeated the usual words, keeping his persona up.

“Yes! Yes! Thank you!” He thanked again. He wanted to stay longer with him, ask him questions, shower him with praises (even though it would be a bit creepy maybe?) but he didn’t want to drag him down either.

With utmost respect, he said goodbye to his long time hero. When he was far enough, he looked at the autograph again and hugged it to his chest. This was the best day of his life! He couldn’t wait to show his mom this!

He started running, feeling no reminder of his latest death, healthy again. However, after the first steps, something made him stop. He felt… followed.

Slowly, he turned around.


Inko had had a good day. It was a slow, but nice day at work. Before leaving for school, she had breakfast with her son and she could see he was doing better at his own speed. They had good days and they had bad days.

Overall, she felt pretty content.

Today was a good day.

“MOM!”

Kuro-chan reacted just in time to catch the glass that slipped from her hand. Even though she couldn’t do much with her ghost aside from faking a not really strong telekinesis and punch things really hard if she concentrated enough, they had been together for so long that at least they could do all of that without verbal commands and she could rely on his initiative to do some things.

She told him to leave it on the counter and met Izuku near the front door.

“What is it, Izuku?” His hair was tousled, he was out of breath from running and his uniform was dirty, but his happiness was radiating from every pore of his body and she was soon infected by his mood.

“Look!” He tugged her arm and they both went out.

Inko thought everything but what he actually showed her. A new friend (maybe this Yagi-san, who was his jogging partner), a puppy, or something along those lines.

But instead of that, in front of her was a black ghost. Izuku’s black ghost. It was tall, mummy-like and with that same slenderman-ish posture  Kuro-chan had, but it had two big differences. Kuro-chan’s face was like a human, but without any features; it was like a black void. Izuku’s didn’t had a head or, more specific, it was like his head was chopped by the chin, leaving only half of it. It was as disturbing as Kuro-chan’s face had been in its moment.

But also, Kuro-chan was just that. A creepy, mummy-like ghost with black specks floating around and with no face.

Izuku’s, on the other hand, was a creepy, mummy-like ghost with black specks floating around, with no head except for a trace of chin, so it was like a triangular-ish tiny head?

Oh.

And he also had wings.

Chapter Text

The UA entrance exam was getting near way faster than Izuku thought.

By now, he had only three months left to prepare. Nevertheless, he felt more confident than ever that he could actually had a chance to be accepted.

Academically he was fine. He was always confident that the written exam was going to be his strong point, since he has been studying for it most of middle school. He focused extra hard on class, trying to not miss anything and balanced his study hours with his workout routine, which was surprisingly made and supervised by Toshinori.

It was a huge surprise when one morning during their usual jog, the blond man told him that, if he wanted, he could help him with some physical training for the UA exam.

“It can be difficult to believe for you, my boy, but during my youth I was really good at fighting,” He had said with an awkward, almost uncomfortable smile. “Even though I’m ill now, I can still help you with the basics,” He offered. It was so out of nowhere for Izuku, but Toshinori had his own feelings about the matter. He still couldn’t forget about their encounter with the sludge villain, even if Izuku didn’t know it was him.

He never wanted to see him like that again, body still and white, almost dead. If he could do something to prevent it (like giving him tools to protect himself), he’d do it in a heartbeat.

Either way, Izuku beamed that day.

The regimen contemplated not only physical exercise, but also the basics about fighting (more like self-defence at this point but anyway) and a quite strict diet plan. After talking with his mom, Inko was more than happy to cook accordingly and she insisted that they should invite Toshinori for dinner, in order to properly thank him for helping Izuku. Shyly, not used to this friendship thing just yet, he agreed but still couldn’t find the right moment to extend the invitation. He didn’t want to be imposing either, but he had a hunch that the man wouldn’t be too comfortable with the invitation, but was too polite to reject it.

And on addition to all of that, he had been assigning at least one hour per day to practice with his quirk.

It was the last part of his day, after finishing his solo routine that Toshinori had designed for his evenings. It was after dinner, and his mom only asked for him to be back before eleven, so he could shower and get enough sleep.

“Come on… I know I can do this. I’ve done it before.” Izuku muttered to himself, picturing his ghost in front of him and regulating his breathing.

After the first unconscious summoning of the ghost, it vanished shortly after his mom saw it. Izuku was giddy and excited to finally have one of his own, but the thing is that he didn’t know how to summon it back again.

“Don’t worry sweety. You’ve done it once, you can do it again.” His mother cheered him and they decided to try together the next day, after Izuku’s school.

Inko’s instructions were as clear as she could deliver them. However, the problem was that it was so natural for her to summon Kuro-chan, that she had found it difficult to instruct her son on the matter. For her, it was like breathing, but that was terrible directions for a beginner.

Izuku struggled and they were both frustrated after the first half hour without results. They stopped, knowing that frustration wouldn’t lead them anywhere, and tried again later.

Two days later, after many failed attempts, Izuku finally could summon his ghost again. Trying to control his excitement, he had to rush into his room to take his notebook and write down everything he felt and did that time. Messy scribbles filled the page and he only stopped when a flower vase broke in the not really spacey living room.

“Don’t worry, Izuku. It was bound to happen sometime,” Inko said when he returned, watching his ghost soar aimlessly near the floor as its wings bumping into things, until it vanished on thin air.

Izuku suddenly slapped his forehead.

“I forgot to take the time!” He whined.

Inko chuckled and went to retrieve the broom to pick up the broken pieces. That day, during dinner, their whole conversation was about the black ghosts. Inko explained the basics and showed with Kuro-chan while Izuku took notes, almost not dropping food over his notebook. The soy sauce begged to differ.

After that, some days she guided him through his quirk training and some others he’d go alone. He was thankful for her help and guidance, but didn’t want to depend entirely on her. He needed to figure things out for himself too.

Taking a big, deep breath, he inhaled and retained the air in his lungs for a couple of seconds. Slowly, he exhaled with his eyes closed and a weird, phantom feeling on his shoulders just before hearing his ghost appear in front of him.

“Yes,” He whispered starting a chronometer, watching the tall and winged creature start to flap his wings to soar near the ground. Apparently it was his own version of walking aimlessly like he had seen Kuro-chan do.

Since the first time he actually recorded the time the ghost took to vanish after being summoned, he noticed that every time he lasted a little longer. First time it took one minute to disappear (which was weird, because he was sure the real first time it stayed longer) and by now he could keep him there for almost three and a half minutes. It was a short time compared to Kuro-chan (who lasted seven minutes every time) but he hoped to upgrade that.

“Okay, let’s start slow. Yūrei,” He called the ghost. “lift those metal scraps,” He commanded, pointing.

After the first successful summoning, his mom recommended to name the ghost. She told him it was easier to not view them as ‘things’, that way it was easier to command. He wasn’t particularly creative with names, so after brainstorming some terrible ideas, he opted for just calling it—him, ‘ghost’.

The exercise was something simple and the ghost was able to do it without much problem. Izuku pointed the places were he wanted him to leave the scraps, intending on helping the community with his training by cleaning the beach the best he could. It was an impossible feat and he knew it, but it was better than nothing.

They repeated the sequence for several, long minutes. Every new command was always first tested as wordless, but Yūrei failed to obey each time they tried. Then, he tried to stop physically pointing were he should leave the junk and half of the times it was a success. His reaction time was getting better, each time faster than before, but he knew they’d need a lot more practice before they could become a real team.

Eleventh piece of metal junk, still no physical effort he wrote down after a while.

It was something he noticed not long after he understood how to summon Yūrei. He even asked his mother for her own experience and they shared the same sensation: the ghost’s activities didn’t backlash on them. Yūrei could be lifting ten kilograms and he’d feel nothing on his own muscles. The mental exercise was something completely separate, but it was good to know that the other’s physical state didn’t affect him directly.

‘But it’ll make it harder to give myself realistic limitations when exposing my quirk,’ He thought, writing it down before stopping mid-sentence and crossed out those last words.

“Okay, let’s start with some heavy lifting,” He said to himself, tucking away his notebook. He saw some remains of what had been a washing machine; some parts were missing, but most of it was there. “Yūrei, lift that,” And he was happy to noticed that, this time, not pointing still worked.

Izuku realized during his first experiments with Yūrei that he was insanely strong, but he was still careful of how much he ordered him to carry. It took almost ten minutes to summon him again if he vanished and that usually slowed down his quirk training. He seriously needed to improve that; in a real battle, the villains wouldn’t wait ten minutes so he could summon him again. And that was aside from the fact that wordless commands were still a total failure.

The ghost lifted the heavy metal scraps with no problem, making some broken pieces fall off. It stayed there, waiting for another command, and Izuku asked him to throw it as far as he could, barely pointing the direction to keep testing that.

It was a mistake.

Yūrei did as told, but with no clear direction he threw it towards the street instead of the other piles of trash. And with his strength, if the scraps hit something it could cause serious damage.

“No!” He cried, feeling his body move on his own toward the junk projectile even though he didn’t had the speed to reach it on time. Not even nearly; he had to be Ingenium to run and catch it or Kamui Woods to stretch his arms and grab the scraps.

However, the scraps never landed against anything.

Without him noticing, too engross by his own futile attempts to catch the heavy trash before it damaged public property or some unlucky bystander that may cross the path, the ghost copied his movements and with a speed impossible for Izuku, he reached the pieces mid-flight with both hands, compressing the metal with ease and preventing a possible accident.

All in a matter of seconds.

Izuku’s mouth hanged agape, not believing his eyes. The strength and speed of Yūrei weren’t what left him cold; it was the way he did it.

It was exactly how his own mind tried to command his slow, human body to stop the trash from crashing something.

“...Yūrei?” The ghost let go of the pieces unceremoniously, making them crash hard against the ground and then started to vanish into black sand. “How...”

He took his notebook out, but he was still too in shock to read anything. He really tried to do it, but it was like his mind was in a totally different wavelength than before. Words weren’t something that mattered in that moment and rapid thoughts flew wildly in his mind.

Then, it just stopped.

His mind was blank and his eyes were fixed on the paper. His breathing slowed down and then he could feel. It was like there was a void deep inside his subconscious that was now filled with something he couldn’t name, but it was enough to let his thoughts connect in the perfect sequence.

It was comprehension.

With this sudden realization, he summoned Yūrei again. The black ghost emerged without any problem, which he told himself that he needed to write down soon; until then, the quickest he had been able to summon him again was within the next eight minutes.

“Yūrei,” He called him with a soft voice. Until now, he had to admit that it was sort of disturbing that he lacked a full head, but now it wasn’t. He saw him in a new light and deep inside him, he knew that something had changed, but he couldn’t place a finger on exactly what.

He didn’t feel closer to him, because it was something else. He didn’t feel stronger either, because Yūrei’s strength wasn’t entirely his own.

He just felt right. And that was enough.

“Let’s clean this beach,” He said, smiling a bit to the ghost.

And then, just then, a sound of static shifted the air.

“... H... o... w...”

It was his own voice, but distorted. Like if someone took a recording of him talking and processed it through a weird filter that was actually broken and half working.

But he talked .

And Izuku was agape.

“I’m going to need more notebooks.”

Chapter Text

A week before the UA exam, Izuku’s life was totally different from what he could have ever imagine.

“Your change, sir,” The clerk said while giving him the coins.

“Thanks!” A new notebook, this time with an ash coloured cover.

“Come back soon,” He heard just before leaving the store, automatic doors closing behind him.

He contemplated the new notebook. ‘ Self Analysis No.3 ’. The second one wasn’t completely full yet, but he never liked to miss an opportunity for the lack of clean pages to write on, so he was used to buying the next one at least by the last quarter of the one in use.

In such a short time, he had improved a lot, at least according to his mom.

Longest lifetime--

No. Of summonings--

He mutters a lot. Copy-cat?

He remembered his last records. He could summon Yūrei for whole five minutes now and after vanishing, he could summon him again three times in a row. He wasn’t so sure how the situation could change that, if during battle he’d last less or how his own condition would affect his ability to summon Yūrei again. He had tried to test that asking his mom to let Kuro-chan fight Yūrei, but they discovered that for some reason, her ghost couldn’t fight while his could.

Fighting skill of the ho human affects to the fighting skill of the ghost??  

Physical training with Toshinori was finally going smoother. At first, his body was always sore and he had to force himself to do even the most simple things. Toshinori said that the best way to deal with the pain was recognizing it as something mental. He said training wasn’t only physical, but also a mind exercise. It took a couple of sessions to truly understand it, but after internalizing it, he found each session getting more bearable.

Soon, he was eager to train more and learn more. He noticed how he had lost what little fat he had and was getting fitter. He still had no muscles, but little by little he felt more comfortable in his skin. Fighting classes were actually something he enjoyed since day one. It wasn’t easy, but he had aptitude for it. Toshinori was happily impressed by that and was proud of Izuku’s progress in those months.

His therapist was also content with his progress. He took each session seriously and he confessed that each time suicide thoughts plagued his mind, it was getting easier to overcome. He no longer felt the itch to get near balconies or take knives and while most nights he still slept for a few hours, still terrorized by recurrent nightmares, he was having great progress. He was far from getting ready to stop the sessions, but his psychiatrist was confident enough to reduce some of his medicine doses.

And what’s better, he had even conceived an idea for how he could use his quirk in active combat. It was still vague ideas and he hasn’t tried it much, but he was starting to feel comfortable with it; he only needed to polish and actually use it on battle.

The problem was he had no way to excuse this kind of quirk.

Practice with Yūrei had proven that he could easily pass as a telekinetic quirk user. The ghost obeyed well enough and he could restrain himself in regards of his distance limit; Yūrei’s ability of flying and moving on his own gave him a pretty long range. The problem was that he could not command him without words. He had been trying, but according to his mom, it was mostly practice and that was given with time; time wasn’t something he had.

Also, using Yūrei as a telekinetic quirk would make him more of a medium to long rage hero and he found it... unfitting for him. Don’t get him wrong, he admired almost every kind of hero and the ones who use their quirks at long distance were as admirable as any other. But the catch was that he has been admiring and almost devoting much of him to All Might, and he was a close combat hero. He wanted to be like that and his body thrilled with the idea of punching and kicking and all of that.

Yūrei wasn’t appropriate for that, though. Or at least, that was what he thought at first, until one day during dinner, he had an enlightenment. And all thanks to his mom.

“Yū-chan likes to imitate you, Izuku. Don’t scold him too much,” She had said after the ghost, who was wandering on his own while Izuku ate (he was always testing how much longer he could stay formed), bumped into a painting and broke the corner of the glass. He took one shard and mimicked the way Izuku ate, causing more mess than anything.

He wanted to protest, arguing that with the amount of daily training he had with the ghost, he shouldn’t be as clumsy when he wasn’t being commanded as he actually was when he noticed.

Yūrei, in fact, imitated Izuku. A lot.

He wrote down theories and hypothesis he wanted to test almost immediately, dinner not finished and excuses half-babbled. He tried some of them during the next training and noticed, with satisfaction, that the ghost could copy on time all his movements; it was like a reflection on a mirror, but taller and grimmer.

After that, he started to add to their training the, as he lamely called, shadow sequence. Izuku would choreograph a sequence of punches, kicks, turns and jumps and see how accurately Yūrei could do it. The ghost proved that he could even do them a bit better, but the best discovery was that he could repeat them from little distance from izuku’s body. By now, they could repeat any sequence Izuku came up with and, thanks to the closeness between Yūrei’s and Izuku’s body, anyone who wasn’t looking carefully would think it was Izuku’s raw strength that was punching the garbage out of the beach.

So it was a plan. A rough one that needed much polish and re-thinking, but it was a good start. Commands were still verbal, which was a problem, and now they were stuck with Izuku’s “lack of progress” in his own physical training, but they had a clear path now and that made him feel happy and proud.

Life was smiling at Izuku and it felt wonderful.

“Look what we’ve got here.”

And then, that wonderful second ended and Izuku was thrown back into the ugly reality.

“It’s none other than the quirkless scum, Deku!” It sounded like a presentation from a TV show, but the ill intentions of the voice’s tone made it clear that it was pure and plain mockery.

Izuku’s stomach twisted painfully.

In front of him, Kacchan and two of his lackeys were coming from the other way. It was a rather unlucky meeting, but the blond’s scoff wasn’t any more friendly than at school. The lackey on the left was the one who loudly announced the presence of the green-haired boy and the one on the right was sneering at him like if he had done something to them.

“What are you doing today, Deku?” He didn’t want to answer, so he only lowered his eyes and hoped for this to end quickly. “Being a waste of space and air like always?” The boy laughed at his own joke. Izuku only swallowed harder and tried to focus on his breathing.

At his lack of reaction, he heard the crackling of Kacchan’s quirk.

“What’s that you got there, Deku?” It was a demand. Izuku didn’t dared to look up and the crackling got louder. “You think you can hide something from me, eh?!” And with that, one of the lackeys took the plastic bag before he could do anything.

“H-He-Hey!”

The lackey took out the new notebook and everyone saw it. At first Bakugou rose an eyebrow, thinking how lame and uninteresting the thing was; just like useless, uninteresting Deku. But then a spark of recognition shone in his eyes and Izuku felt his throat tighten, a dead weight in his stomach and cold sweat running down his spine.

“Tch.” Bakugou took the notebook with one hand and the other one crackled loudly. “You really don’t learn, do you Deku?” His voice was dangerously low.

Without a second thought, he burned the notebook just like he did with the previous one. He had recognized the brand, stupid Deku not buying a different one, so he knew that this notebook was one of those stupid analysis books the quirkless Deku made. He let the thing fall and with long steps closed the distance between them, even when the other was cowering against a wall.

“Forget about UA. You’re a quirkless, useless scum that won’t achieve anything. I, on the other hand, am the fucking protagonist of this lame ass school. You won’t rob me my chance to have a motherfucking hero backstory. I’m the only one going to UA and that’s final. Do. You. Copy?” His words were decorated with the smell of burned flesh, Izuku too terrorized that he didn’t even feel when Bakugou used his quirk on his shoulder and left a fresh burn.

The day of his suicide flashed before his eyes. Izuku was suddenly feeling short of breath and his legs trembled like jelly. The blond was used to this kind of reactions from Deku, stupid and cowardly, but what perked up his attention was the starts of a panic attack.

He had no time to worry when a loud crash startled everyone there.

Everyone’s head turn quickly to the source of the noise and found, impressively, a hole in the wall not very far away from Izuku and Bakugou. It was pretty deep and the bricks were shattered. There was no distinctive shape from the hole, but there was also no sign of what caused it.

Bakugou scoffed. That was some weird shit.

Well, he had better things to do.

“See you later, Deku,” He said before leaving with his lackeys, disgust in his voice and a deep frown on his face, clear sign that he didn’t meant it.

Izuku finally found himself alone and he slide down the wall, sitting on the ground while regaining his normal breathing.

His notebook was also on the ground, burnt and useless now.

“T-Thanks,” He said with some struggling, still out of breath.

Next to the wall, perched over a trashcan, his winged ghost was there, watching his master.


The morning of the UA entrance exam, Izuku was tempted to skip his jogging session in order to prepare himself mentally for the upcoming challenge. However, the idea of not meeting Toshinori before his great day wasn’t appealing, so he finally went out and met him in their usual spot.

“My boy, how are you feeling?” Was Toshinori’s first question. Izuku asked himself if his nervousness was too evident.

“Excited? Nervous? Also a bit sick I think.” His voice was shaking and the blond smiled fondly at the young man.

He ruffled his curly hair and Izuku felt a bit better after that. During a brief moment, he wondered if his dad would have done that if he was still with them, but erased the thought just as it was forming; he didn’t need more worries that day.

“You will be fine,” Toshinori assured, lanky smile with honest eyes. They made Izuku feel fine, even safe. It was like All Might’s, but more tender, closer.

“But, Yagi-san, what if I fail?” He cursed himself. He didn’t want to show his insecurities to him, less in the most important day of his youth, but the atmosphere was just right and he couldn’t stop himself. Still, he bit down on his tongue.

Toshinori’s eyes opened a bit more than usually, surprise clear in his face. He knew Izuku was nervous and was bound to doubt himself, but the way he had asked had been so vulnerable that it didn’t resemble the boy in front of him, but a little child scared of letting go their parent’s hand. He suddenly remembered that Izuku and him were more of casual friends than anything else and the distance between them made him feel bad. He wanted so much to comfort him, but the fear in the younger’s voice told him that there was much more behind that question; something unfathomable for him.

Still, his hero persona knew that Izuku needed him, even if he could not understand all the reasons behind his self doubt.

”Young Midoriya, listen to me carefully,” He began, winning his attention immediately. “Failing is not something you should fear. Every great hero have failed in some point of their lives, even the best ones. But you know why failure should not be feared?” Izuku shook his head slowly, not grasping what he meant yet.

Toshinori smiled at him, tenderly and fatherly.

“Because from failure we learn, from success... not so much.” Izuku’s eyes were wide-open, mouth forming a little ‘o’. “You’ve been training with me and with each ‘failure’ you have grown. Your improvement is something you should be proud of. Believe me, I am. But whatever happens on today’s exam, you’ll know how to handle it. You just need to follow your heart and you’ll make the right choices,” He said, tapping his chest, just above his heart, with a long finger.  

Izuku felt suddenly warm. His chest was warm, but from the inside and before he could feel it, All Might saw a shy, but honest smile. The boy in front of him looked tiny, but the greatness inside him was pulsing with each heartbeat, almost visible for Toshinori.

“I’ll make you and mom proud, Yagi-san!” The man could only smile wider.

He felt privileged, but also humbled to be able to see the origin of who he knew was going to be one of the greatest heroes of the next generation.

“You’ve already done it, my boy.”


UA was as imposing as he had always thought it would be.

From the outside, its grand front left him agape. The inside auditorium was even better.

The first part of the entrance exam passed in a blurred. He met a weird, nice girl (a girl! He talked to a girl!) that saved him from tripping over his own feet (from what little he could pick up, she had a gravity based quirk) and he was embarrassed in front of all the applicants over his muttering habit. He thought he did well on the written exam, but was sure he didn’t ace it. And now, he was going to the physical exam with a bunch of other applicants, two of them being the one who had called him out during the introduction and the nice, pretty girl.

It wasn’t being his best day honestly.

The moment they were reminded that in the real world no one was going to say “start!” and everyone left running, leaving him behind, Izuku panicked a bit. He was left behind! He had to focus! Trying to regain calmness, he called forth Yūrei and the black ghost appeared in all his invisible glory.

“Okay, let’s get some points,” And he started to run, with Yūrei gliding behind him.

He had to be careful while using him, knowing he’d have to give explanations about his quirk if he was accepted and some school staff decided to check up his entrance exam tape. But he also needed to score some points, which meant he needed to act quickly and destroy some robots.

But everyone was already on that and he was missing a lot of robots faster than he imagined.

“Oh no!” He was going to be left with zero points at this rate! “Yūrei, go smash some robots!” He commanded as softly as he could, hoping no one heard him talking to thin air.

He moved closely to the ghost, struggling a bit thanks to his ability to fly and speed. However, every time they tried to smash even the one point robots, someone was already doing it and, by the time someone announce that time was almost up, Izuku found himself without even one lame point.

“No no no no no,” He was panicking again, eyes wetting at the prospect of failing. His mother had wished him all the luck, kissed his forehead tenderly and would be waiting with a nice dinner for him. Toshinori also wished him luck, telling him not to worry, because he knew Izuku would do fine.

He couldn’t let down the only two people that believed in him.

And then, the biggest robot he had ever seen appeared from behind a building.

“It’s the zero point robot,” He muttered, recognizing it from the animated slide show Present Mic used to explain the practical exam. Everyone was running the opposite side, knowing it was useless to waste energy on destroying the worthless robot. “Come on Yūrei, let’s g--”

But his eye caught the sight of someone beneath debris, really close to where the robot was heading to.

“It’s the girl!” Izuku recognized and before he could properly  process any of his thoughts, he found himself running towards her, with Yūrei tailing him.

“Hey! Where are you going?” He downed his speed a bit, barely meeting eyes with the tall, rigid guy that had called him out during Present Mic’s presentation. He was running away from the danger, like the other applicants.

“I have to help her!” He cried in reply, focusing again on running towards the girl, who tried and failed to move the debris that was crushing her.

The robot was getting nearer and nearer with every second and if he didn’t do something, she’d be crushed by it.

“What are you doing? You must go!” She said when he arrived by her side, analyzing the situation they were in as quickly as he could.

“I won’t leave you alone,” He said to her, the danger of the situation overshadowing his natural nervousness with girls.

“Why? This is an individual exam.”

He gave her an unconvincing, but sincere smile.

“You look like you need help,” Was all he said.

He couldn’t see her reaction to his words, too engrossed with what he was going to do. They almost had the robot over them and it was huge . Bigger and sturdier than he had guessed from afar, it probably weighed tonnes. He had never tried to lift, punch or destroy anything similar with Yūrei, but he had no other choice than to try.

“Go!” He commanded while stretching his right arm towards the sky, pointing with his hand fully open to the robot’s head. With his other arm he tried to cover the girl, a futile attempt to protect her.

The ghost looked majestic as he accelerated towards the robot, arms stretched imitating Izuku’s own body and claws ready to tear down the metal shell. Izuku put his all into that one command, trying to convey even his own weak strength into Yūrei’s and help him tore apart the robot. If that didn’t work, they were screwed.

Yūrei’s speed let him clash with the robot just seconds before it stepped on both of them, crashing hard with both clawed hands first. The claws acted like diamond needles, piercing through the metal framework with difficulty, but it was enough to break the necessary number of circuits and wires to cause an explosion inside.  

The blast was deafening and Yūrei’s form vanished with impact. Metal pieces of the robot’s face started to rain down towards the ground and Izuku understood they needed to get out of there; otherwise, the whole robot body could fall over them.

“We need to get out of here,” He told her while stepping back a bit to find something that could help him to lift the debris that trapped her. He found something that could be used as a lever within reach, but when he tried to take it with his left hand, a big piece of metal fell right over his forearm, breaking it.

He cried in pain, holding his broken arm with the healthy one.

‘We. Need. To. Get. Outofhere.’ His thoughts were racing, desperation trying to override his mind. He couldn’t die out there if he wanted to keep his quirk in secrecy, but he also refused to leave her there.

He tried to summon Yūrei back, but pain made it difficult.

The girl watched him in awe. She knew all along that, while she hoped to make friends once classes started, she was there alone. She had to prove herself worthy of being a hero in order to land in a good agency and start earning money for her family. Cooperation in the entrance exam was out of question.

She had been careless. She knew her own limits and had tried to pushed them in order to get more points. When the debris fell over her, she was dizzy with nausea and couldn’t move fast enough. Many other applicants passed by her side, but this boy was the only one that actually helped her. He had destroy the robot with some weird quirk she couldn’t understand and then he had injured himself trying to pull her out. She couldn’t use her quirk anymore, sick and weak, but here he was, trying his best to help her even at the expense of his own safety.

That’s when she knew.

In front of her stood a true hero.

With one if his arms broken, trying to use a lever was useless now. He retreated to the girl’s side and basically threw himself over her, letting the pieces fall over him. He cried again when one of his legs was crushed under the weight of what it seemed the be part of the square panel that was the robot’s face and hope that the explosion caused by Yūrei only destroyed the robot’s upper part.

Suddenly, nothing else fell over him, which was weird because he still heard the broken pieces crash onto the ground.

Taking a deep breath and fighting pain (let’s be honest, he hadn’t die enough times to endure this kind of pain yet, but everything was better than fucking drowning ) he looked above them and noticed that the big piece of debris that was over the girl was now floating above them.

“Wha...?”

Her labored breathing gained his attention and he noticed she was in full concentration, her fingers touching and sweat falling from her forehead. She was shaking and was starting to look a bit green, but there she was, keeping that sturdy thing floating to protect them from anymore harm.

She was impressive.

However, she wasn’t lasting much longer. Inspired again by her strength, he called forth Yūrei and the ghost, unlike before, appeared before him a bit slower than usual. It moved them both far from the debris trajectory right on time, the girl losing control over it and it falling just over where they were just a second ago. Izuku caught her just in time with his healthy arm and she puked in front of them, dirtying both of their clothes by some splattered vomit, but he didn’t care.

They were safe. The rest of the robot’s body stood useless in place, unmovable, and the buzzer announcing the end of the practical exam sounded. Izuku couldn’t believe that all of that lasted less than a minute, adrenaline still rushing through his veins, but he let a relief sigh out while watching his ghost disappear.

Mouthing a silent ‘thank you’, he let himself fall next to the sick girl. With his healthy arm he covered his eyes, tears threatening to spill right there.

“Not even one point.” He just managed to destroy the zero points robot, plus gotten a broken arm and leg.

How could that not be considered a utter failure?

Chapter Text

Izuku had been so sure that he had failed the practical exam that, when the UA letter with his future written on it arrived, he didn't have the heart to open it.

“Izuku, you won’t know for sure if you did it or not unless you open the letter,” Inko told him, holding the letter close to her heart.

The day of the UA entrance exam, she had been completely out of her mind. She couldn’t concentrate on anything, worry and anticipation eating her alive. How was her son doing? Would he succeed? What if he didn’t? She needed to be prepared for every possible outcome. She had promised herself that she’d encourage him no matter what, big smile on her face instead of tears.

She owed him.

So when he came home looking dead tired and without any light in his beautiful eyes, she knew she had to be prepared for the worst. Softly, with a very gentle voice, she convinced him to tell her what happened. He told her everything, even when he broke an arm and a leg, but was then healed by the school nurse. He didn’t cry, but this was worse.

So Inko had to be strong for both of them. And with that, she also needed to have the strongest resolution.

“Young man, you will open that letter right now and we will be over this, whatever the outcome might be.” She used her firm mother voice, leaving no place for him to argue.

He tried to bicker, but he couldn’t; not against the Mom Voice. So with a heavy sigh, he sat down and with slow fingers, he opened the letter.

The sudden music startled both of them, who had thought that this would be an old-fashioned letter, not an interactive one. Of course they missed the little chip that was inside the letter, not noticing it until much later.

“Am I on screen?!” All Might’s boisterous voice startled them again even before his holographic image appeared. He looked just like  he did on TV, smile of a ton watts, hair perfectly defying gravity, but instead of his hero outfit he was wearing a formal suit. “Oh, okay. Then, congratulations!”

The rest of the message passed in an instant for both Midoriyas. It was explained that Izuku was accepted to take the Hero Course at UA, that he did well on the written exam, but what was more impressive about him was his practical exam. He scored 0 points, but he didn’t know that immobilizing and destroying robots wasn’t the only requirement to approve the exam. All Might’s hologram explained that, unknowing for the students, the staff gave rescue points to all applicants, since the greatest part of being a hero wasn’t to defeat enemies, but also to protect, save, and serve the people. He had scored the highest on the rescue criteria, with a whopping total of 60 points, so he had enough points to be accepted.

Also, a short recording of the same girl had helped him during the start of the exam was added, showing how she was willing to share half of her points so he could pass the exam too.

‘That boy saved my life,’ he heard her say.

For the first time, Izuku felt a new kind of pride inside him.

“I’m looking forward to have such a promising student in UA, which is now, your hero academia!” the hologram bid farewell, returning the calm to the Midoriya household.

Both of them were glued to their seats.

“All Might is going to be a teacher at UA?!” How did he just find this out now?!

Wait! He was accepted! He got into UA!

He was going to be a hero!

Needless to say, that day many happy tears were shed by both mother and son.    


The other person that celebrated with him was Toshinori. Even though he already knew, being part of the staff that participated as judges during the entrance exam, for the first time Izuku saw the blond joyous, smile so wide that it hurt his cheeks.

“I told you, my boy.” He patted his back, proud of him. “I never doubted you for a second!” Izuku was blushing madly, unused to that kind of attention.

He wanted to hug him, moved by the emotion, but he restrained himself so he didn’t make the man uncomfortable. His smile and congratulations were enough, though, and nothing could make him feel bad that day.


The first day at UA came faster than Izuku thought. He trembled in excitement and so did his mother. She gushed over him looking handsome in his new uniform, packed him a healthy lunch (according to his diet regime) and wished him the best first day ever.

He smiled nervously, wanting to believe her.

They both knew how this new beginning was something important for him, but those words were left unsaid, the hugs speaking for them.

He took his backpack, put his shoes on and with a final goodbye he headed off to school. He adjusted the new backpack, yellow like his old one, but much nicer and with subtle details of All Might merchandising, loving every second with it. It had been a congratulation gift from Toshinori, given him that very same morning after their usual jog, and he had been so embarrassed by the fact that the man actually gave him something that he noticed the All Might details at home, making him blush worse than before.

How had he known that All Might was his favourite hero? Yes, he usually gushed about heroes, but he tried to talk about all of them on equal amounts to not annoy him with his constant gushing about All Might. Maybe he praised the number one hero a bit (a lot) more than the others but… well, it was a bit embarrassing.

Anyway, he loved the gift and Toshinori for thinking of him. He noted down mentally to find out his birthday so he could get him a nice gift too.

When UA high was within sight, excitement and nervousness filled him. He was going to attend his dream school! He still couldn’t believe it. But he had to or else he’d be late for his first day, which he was determined not to mess up. So, breathing deeply and painting a smile on his face, he resumed his walk and soon he was inside of the UA facilities as an official student.

Inside the building, he looked for class 1-A while looking discretely at the other students. The hall was alive with activity; some people, older students, were greeting each other after summer vacations, while others like him looked a bit disoriented, revealing themselves to be first years. No one was actively using their quirks, but unique features from animal appendages to strangely coloured skin and horns, among many others, were a sign of possible quirks within students.

Izuku was already taking mental notes, too used to analyzing others' quirks to stop himself. He missed the fact that he was mumbling until he noticed someone watching, raising an eyebrow. He blushed a deep red and ducking his head, he continued his search for his classroom.

When he finally arrived at the door of class 1-A, dashing in fear of being late, he took a few seconds to calm his racing pulse and then reverently opened the door.

The classroom wasn’t full, but there were already some students there. The first two to snag his attention were a girl with pink skin and a guy with a raven head. ‘They must have really cool quirks,’ he thought, wondering what they could be. However, a boisterous voice distracted him from watching the rest of his classmates and Izuku redirected his attention towards the voice, which turned out to be belonging to the same guy that called him out during the entrance exam.

A tight knot formed in his stomach, but the awkward feeling was suddenly replaced by something akin to terror when he noticed the other participant of the quarrel.

It was Bakugou.

Izuku's pulse skyrocketed and he had to consciously force himself not to hyperventilate.

‘You knew this. You knew this was a possibility,’ he told himself, unable to tear his eyes from the blond. ‘The chances of him being approved and landing in the Hero Course was almost a hundred percent, why are you surprised by this? Of course you hoped he’d land on 1-B but he’s not and you’ve got to handle this. Man up, Izuku!’ his thoughts were rambling, sweating bullets at Kacchan’s cruel smirk towards the taller boy, who was passionately ranting about why he mustn’t put his legs on the school furniture.

“You did it!” a sudden voice startled him, pulling him back to the present, which was a relief because he didn’t want to have a panic attack on his first day.

Shivering imperceptibly, he turned a bit and saw the brown haired girl that he had helped during the practical exam. She seemed almost to be glowing, sincere happiness in her big eyes.

“I was so worried about you, but Present Mic was right! You’re here! That’s a relief,” she said, fingers touching like they had done while using her quirk. This time, however, it was just a gesture. “The way you defeated that robot was amazing! What’s your quirk?” she asked, without any malicious intent.

Her bubbly personality was so relieving that it calmed him down almost immediately. It was almost contagious, but the fact that he was calmer meant also that his usual shyness returned full force, so while the girl talked to him he could only get redder every second and cover his face as she got closer without even noticing it.

Thankfully (or not?) a new, tired and raspy voice interrupted her, making not only them but the rest of the class turn to the door.

Was that... a caterpillar man?

Suddenly, everyone was silent.

“I’m your homeroom teacher, Aizawa Shouta. Pleasure meeting you,” the caterpillar man presented himself, after entering the classroom and emerging from his yellow sleepbag. His voice was so flat and uninterested that his words weren’t credible at all.

Everyone shared looks (when did the classroom fill up?), not knowing how to feel about the man who was supposed to be their homeroom teacher. The man himself looked like he hadn’t slept properly in days, and his attire didn’t scream ‘pro hero’ like the others. His eyes looked bored for the most of the class, but for the most analytic (like Izuku), he had an intelligent and sly spark in his gaze that was almost disturbing.

‘How can I not know his hero persona?’ Izuku thought, mind racing through his hero catalog trying to remember at least one article about him.

“Well, put this suits and meet me in ten in the track field.” He showed what was to be their PE uniform and then left unceremoniously, telling them with the same monotone voice that the time was running out.

They all got the message and started retreating to change clothes, but before that, the tall guy who was discussing with Bakugou approached Izuku.

“Hey, I require a minute of your attention!” Izuku was somewhat impressed by his formal language, not really common around teens. “I’m Iida Tenya, from Soumei. I wanted to apologize for what happened during the entrance exam.” That surprised him. Apologize? He never thought he’d do it or feel the need to, his subconscious projecting Bakugou's face over his, but his earnest tone made him feel that his apology was sincere.

“It’s nothing, really,” he replied, trying to not sound as meek as he felt.

“On the contrary!” Iida gesticulated a lot with his hands, he noticed, rigid and straight like the rest of his body. “You were able to do what the exam was actually looking for, which I failed miserably. Your spirit is highly heroic and I should learn from you!” Even though the boy seemed honest, Izuku still felt a bit uncomfortable with his antics.

“Thanks...?” he didn’t know how to respond. “We should go and change before time’s up.” At that, Iida’s face became more severe.

“You’re right! Let’s go.” And with a hand wave, he motioned for Izuku to follow him.

Izuku watched him walk away, calling after him him not to slack.

This was going to be a really interesting day.


To say it was interesting was an understatement.

No. It wasn’t an understatement. It was plain wrong.

Aizawa-sensei’s politics about expulsion was something no one could have guessed beforehand. The threat suddenly felt too real and Izuku realized too late that, in fact, he had no way to pass this test. Since it was a physical exam, his quirk couldn’t actually improve his normal performance. He was better than in middle school, his training with Toshinori had improved his resistance, strength and agility, but against the other’s quirks… he was helpless.
Still, he summoned Yūrei, the ghost’s presence calming his nerves. However, until the pitch test, he didn’t come up with any way he could use his quirk to his advantage. He tried his best, making sure not to be the last in all of the tests (but almost), but it wasn’t enough. He knew he was scoring the lowest, and that meant immediate expulsion.

Maybe that terrible possibility was what made him realize how to use Yūrei to his advantage. It was a long shot, especially against observant people like Bakugou and his teacher, but he felt confident.

He prepared himself to throw, Yūrei closely behind him. He could feel a phantom breath over his head, noticing that the ghost was even imitating his human breathing, but he focused on the task and, just before throwing away the ball, he mumbled his command.

There was a second of silence. 

The ball was on the floor, not many meters ahead of him, and Yūrei was gone.

“W-What?”

“I erased your quirk.” The teacher’s voice surprised him. Izuku could only look at him, dumbfounded. 

In the background, Bakugou was suddenly sweating a lot more than normal, uneasy.

“You’re last of the group, and I told all of you that I won’t waste my time teaching someone who is less than zero.” His voice was severe, eyes glowing red and hair floating as if it was underwater. “You’ve got one chance, Midoriya. I won’t accept any less than your best.” Izuku felt exposed, as if Aizawa knew he wasn’t using his quirk.

But at the same time, his harsh words were invigorating enough to let him slip back into hyper focus and do exactly what the teacher wanted.

His best.

Aizawa’s eyes stopped glowing (how could he have not noticed before he was pro-hero Eraserhead?) and, free of its effect, he summoned Yūrei again after taking a new ball.

He opened his mouth, but shut it quickly.

‘No,’ he thought, casting a sidelong glance at the ghost’s silhouette. ‘I need to do this differently.’ He stared down at the ball in his hand.

He needed to do this right. He needed to prove he was worthy, that he could stand among his peers as an equal.

As a future pro-hero.

‘Sensei, look at me,’ he thought, the intensity of his concentration blocking everything out but the task at hand.

Taking a deep breath, forgetting about all the eyes over him, concentrating only on what he wanted to do while focusing too on Yūrei’s actions at the same time, he put as much strength as he could in his pitch and, just after the ball took off from his hand, Izuku did something different.

He threw his own arm downwards, full force.

The ball sky rocketed, far than anyway could see.

To the majority of his class, that weird arm movement was to give the ball some kind of effect to gain speed and strength. They couldn’t pinpoint exactly what technique was that, but the results endorsed that theory, especially since Izuku hadn’t shown any flashy quirk by now, so his was probably some passive quirk that was always active.

But it wasn’t that.

Aizawa knew. Bakugou knew. Todoroki knew. Asui knew.

Izuku knew.

Just when Izuku’s arm went down, Yūrei punched with the palm of his clawed hand the ball. It was such an impact that the finger that was grazed by accident was broken, but Izuku didn’t care.

He had succeeded.

He had commanded Yūrei voiceless.

He turned around to see his teacher’s reaction.

“Not bad, kid.” Aizawa’s stiff smile was everything for Izuku in that moment.

“That was so cool!” the bubbly girl cheered.

“Why is his finger broken?” Iida wondered, not understanding how it happened.

“DEKU, YOU LITTLE SHIT!” He had no time to nurse his injured finger, because his body reacted on its own when Bakugou lunged towards him. Izuku flinched, taking a step back. It wasn’t necessary since the teacher’s bandages were faster than Bakugou, stopping him effectively, but he almost had a heart attack from that.

“K-Ka-Kacc-cchan!” Yūrei immediately put himself in front of Izuku, his extended wings almost obscuring Izuku's sight.

“You fucking liar. You can’t do this. You’re a motherfucking quirkless scum!” Bakugou cried, trying to get free to no avail.

“Quirkless?” someone muttered from the background.

It was like a nightmare.

“Enough with this,” Aizawa said with his quirk active again in order to prevent Bakugou from using his. “Don’t make me use my quirk for nothing. I have dry eyes." His severe tone still didn’t calm Bakugou down; he was still fuming.

“Fucking Deku.” Izuku trembled a bit, thankful for Yūrei presence once again.

After that, everything was a bit blurry. The results were displayed; the expulsion threat was nothing but a ploy and suddenly, Izuku had his two first friends in UA. The girl presented herself as Uraraka Ochako and after she thought his name was Deku (he choked a bit at that), the three of them settled to have lunch together from now on.

Izuku felt a bit warm inside.

He really hoped they could be good friends.


Just after he left his students in the track field alone, Aizawa was found by the newest staff member and number two noisy blond (Hizashi would always be the first).

“Did you saw a good show?” he asked All Might, telling him indirectly he had noticed his presence hiding behind the wall all time.

“Why did you lie?” he asked without detour, standing up correctly and towering the other man. “You’ve expelled full classrooms before. You have high standards. What did this kid do to you to change your mind?” He tried to sound professional, inquiring for curiosity and not for preoccupation.

Aizawa stood there in silence, avoiding All Might’s eyes.

“I won’t waste my time with applicants with zero potential,” he explained, remembering what he saw there. “That kid is above zero. That’s enough.” He shrugged.

All Might smiled, reading the other better than he thought.

Aizawa resumed his walk, distancing himself from the muscle hero.

Yes, he had seen potential in Izuku. He had seen his practical exam and this kid had some inner strength that could rival even some pro-heroes. His quirk wasn’t something that bothered him much; he himself had a uncommon quirk and couldn’t rely on it all the time, so quirks didn't matter that much. 

Nevertheless, what just happened bothered him.

‘It could be my imagination…’ but he wasn’t sure of his own thoughts yet, so it remained an uneasy feeling in his gut.

Because just before Izuku threw his pitch and for a split of a second, Aizawa saw something. 

He couldn’t say what was, but it was standing behind the boy, looming like a shadow, too dim to actually say it was something, too strange to say it was real. But as fast as it appeared, it vanished, making him doubt if it did happened or not.

But Aizawa was anything but naïve.

‘Midoriya Izuku…’

He was going to have to watch him closely from now on.

Chapter Text

This wasn’t happening.

This.

Wasn’t.

Happening!

“RECOVERY GIRL!” he cried, voice strangled in true fear.

“I’m doing everything I can! Now step away to let me work!” But her wavering voice didn’t reflect the confidence her words tried to.

“How could…” His voice was tone down, not uninterested but sceptic. No...

Afraid. He was afraid.

How could they be losing a student so quickly?


The challenges in UA were more difficult than in any other high school. It was expected, since they were raising, forming and guiding the new generation of heroes. The applicants were conscious of this and the students were proud of it. 

Fighting trials were, therefore, appropriate in the student’s curriculum, for they needed those instances to know their limitations and surpass them. A controlled environment was the best for them to test their quirks, their fighting styles and their ability to come with strategies, so in the future they could do it outside, against true enemies and in real danger situations.

Nobody thought things would end the way they did on that day.

All Might’s exercise consisted of teaming up to fulfill a specific role: either a hero or a villain. Inside a single building, villains were given a ‘bomb’ they had to hide and protect, and heroes were meant to find and secure it. It was a simple task that was useful not only to build teamwork, but also strategy as both the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ guys. The latter was extremely important, since as future heroes, they needed to know how to think like a villain in order to anticipate their movements.

“We will be monitoring the whole exercise, so after everyone has done it, we will review and analyze the good and the bad points,” All Might had said, everyone agreeing.

The first hero team was Uraraka and Midoriya, and first villain team was Iida and Bakugou. 
After Aizawa’s quirk apprehension test, everyone knew Midoriya and Bakugou had some history. Still, since the blond was a callous jerk to everyone in the class, his reaction towards the freckled boy didn't even hint at how deep their problems were.

If only they had known that, this fiasco could have been prevented.

If only Uraraka hadn’t followed Midoriya’s plan, maybe they could have fought side by side and defeated Bakugou.

If All Might had taken Kirishima’s desperate scream more seriously, he could have stopped it.

But the world of if’s was not theirs to make real, and things couldn’t be changed.

Everything was going smoothly until Bakugou found Midoriya. That was expected, at least for the green haired boy, who had built his plan around the fact that Bakugou would aim for him and not for his partner. Uraraka wanted to fight too, but she also knew that they could not lose focus on their mission — her task was to find and secure the bomb, and even if Iida wasn’t as dangerous as Bakugou, the boy was not someone to be taken lightly. He’d be prepared for her, so she had to be prepared for that in return.

“Fucking piece of shit. You're never gonna defeat me! Not in a hundred lifetimes!” Bakugou was blinded by his rage, the feeling of being played overshadowing any rational thought.

Fortunately, Izuku had studied him for the longest time. Even though Bakugou had become his personal nightmare and one of the biggest factors in his mental downward spiral, he had always admired him for being born with such an amazing quirk. So, naturally, he had studied him — and now it was finally paying off.  

“I won’t be stepping down to you again, Kacchan,” Izuku said, falling back into his fighting stance with such ease that it was impressive even for him. “I won’t let you take this away from me, all I’ve done to reach the spot where I am now.” He had worked his ass off to get into UA, he had died multiple times.

He deserved to be there.

His initial fears of not being able to fight Bakugou were unfounded. He was still terrorized by him, of course; years of bullying weren’t something that could go away with a couple months of therapy. But this, this fighting, was letting him overcome his fears to some degree, giving him a chance to vent his aggression in an appropriate way. Furthermore, a darker side of him wanted to hurt Bakugou the same way Bakugou had hurt him for some many years. He tried to avoid those dark thoughts, but controlling Yūrei was slowly getting harder, the ghost responding to the aggression Izuku bottled up.

The real problem was that even blinded by fury, Bakugou was a natural fighter. His mind might have been clouded in anger, but he still had the proper mindset to learn from Izuku’s fighting (of course, he’d admit that over his cold, dead body) and counterattack properly, adapting his tactics to take the other boy by surprise.

“Young Bakugou, if you make another movement like that, I’ll stop the exercise immediately!” All Might’s voice rang through the audio system, and Bakugou cursed again after one particularly strong shot.

‘Stupid Deku and his stupid quirk,’ he thought. Why could Izuku not give up and admit that he was the best?

However, Izuku was still focused on the larger situation. He not only had to concentrate on not dying by Bakugou’s hands, but also be ready for Uraraka. They were still in a training exercise and he could not forget that. Yūrei was the only thing preventing Bakugou from actually injuring him too badly, taking the hardest blows everytime he could. He wanted to be more offensive than this, use his ghost as more than a shield, but he was actually afraid of using Yūrei against Bakugou; he had never used him against a human being and by the way the ghost was reacting towards Bakugou, he was afraid he could do more harm than anything.

He was a hero, not a killer.

But that made Bakugou furious.

“ATTACK ME WITH ALL YOU CAN, YOU BASTARD!” he yelled, burning Izuku with more power than he should. The boy’s pained cry fell on deaf ears. “YOU THINK I CAN’T FIGHT AGAINST YOUR SHITTY QUIRK?! I SHOULD KILL YOU FOR THAT!” He didn’t really mean it, but no one would believe him if he said that. Not at that point at least.

The place was being destroyed rather quickly. The structure of the building would soon fall over them and then neither team would win. They had only three minutes left, and Uraraka was having trouble with Iida. He was clever enough to clean the upper floors from anything she could use her quirk on, and Izuku wasn’t responding or giving any signal.

‘Come on, Deku. We’re going to lose!’

But he couldn’t concentrate on her no matter how hard he tried. Bakugou’s rage was uncontrollable and his attacks were growing fiercer with every passing second. With every new punch, kick and explosion, Yūrei tried all the harder to counterattack, to rampage. Izuku had to fully concentrate on him, afraid of what could happen to the blond if he didn’t, and every time he did that Bakugou noticed the hesitation and attacked even more viciously.

If Izuku was standing, it was by sheer determination.

All it took was a little distraction. Yūrei grazed Bakugou’s forearm, leaving three long gashes that immediately started to bleed; Izuku forcefully ordered him to stop and Bakugou, even while wincing at the mysterious wound, took advantage of the distraction to release a powerful blast towards the other boy.

He barely avoided it, heat too close to his face to his liking.

The building’s column, on the other hand, received the full impact. A tiny crack sounded from the lowest floor to the rooftop.

All four of them understood what just took place milliseconds before it happened.

In the blink of an eye, the building collapsed, the ceiling beginning to fall down and the columns crumbling. 

Iida, forgetting that he was supposed to be a villain, used his quirk to close the distance between him and Uraraka, and she used her quirk on both of them, leaving them both floating almost out of harm’s way.

“DEKU!” she cried, feeling vomit rise in her throat. Iida’s weight combined with hers was becoming too much for her quirk, but she was determined to persist.

Izuku and Bakugou were on the lower floors. The entire building would fall over them and crush their bodies.

“KACCHAN!”

Unexpectedly, Bakugou’s body was somehow ejected from a newly smashed window.

He himself didn’t understand what the hell happened. He felt a weird pressure on his body and for a split of a second he thought he saw something, a shadow looming over him, just before being pushed out of a window against his will. Thankfully, they had only been on the second floor.

But Izuku didn’t make it on time. He knew he had only one chance and preferred to give that chance to the other, pushing him away from harm. So he commanded Yūrei verbally, his voice drowned out by the noise of the building, using all his will so he wouldn’t disobey him, and it worked. The ghost took the blond out just in time.

The whole building fell over him.

All Might was there in the blink of an eye. His reaction was so fast that not even one student with him saw when he pressed a panic button over the control panel, an alarm sounding on the teacher’s lounge where Eraserhead and Present Mic were grading some third year’s homework during their free period. He took Izuku out and with his huge body, he covered the bloody boy from the other students' view.

“All Might-sensei!” 

He cursed silently at Uraraka’s worried voice, knowing just by looking that Izuku had no time to spare. He readjusted his body angle so no one could see the boy.

“Don’t worry, young Uraraka,” he boomed, hoping his voice didn’t waver as much as it felt like. “He’ll be fine. I’ll take him to the infirmary."

“Thank you, All Might-sensei! I’ll take care of my classmates here,” Iida offered, his body shivering imperceptibly with strain.

The teacher nodded and left rapidly, using as much power as he could when he was out of the students' sight.

This was bad.


When they arrived at the infirmary, Recovery Girl was already waiting to attend to Izuku, alerted to the injury by Present Mic. He was in worse shape than All Might thought, bleeding profusely from all his wounds, and he feared that the internal wounds were as bad as the external ones. They were running short of time, and Izuku's unconsciousness was alarming.

Aizawa was there before he knew it and his bandages took ahold of All Might's arm, his powered-up form the only thing protecting him from the smaller man’s wrath.

“How could you allow this?!” he asked All Might, a hint of fury in his tone.

“I…I-I…” For the first time in a long time, he was out of words.

“YOU ARE THE TEACHER!” the blond flinched, surprised by the usually calm Aizawa losing his cool. “You are supposed to know when enough is enough. You should be the mature one and predict the actions of your students!” There was also a hint of disappointment, and that hurt All Might more than he wanted to admit.

“YOU TWO SHUT UP! I CAN’T CONCENTRATE WITH YOUR YELLING!” The voice of the old woman was enough to shut them up and their attention was once again focused towards the young student on the verge of dying.

All Might knew it, but it hurt to hear it from another person.

He had failed not only as a teacher, but as a person too.

And to Midoriya, of all people.

Recovery Girl was working as fast as she could. She hadn’t expected the depth of the wounds on Izuku’s body. Not only did he have burns everywhere, the one of his back a third degree burn, but the building collapsing over his frail body lead to many broken bones and a collapsed lung, and with so little time she could not determine how bad the internal bleeding was.

The sudden realization that her quirk and medical knowledge combined were probably not enough for Izuku hit her like a truck.

“Aizawa-kun, call an amb--!”

And he was coding now.

The sound of the machines drove everyone crazy. Izuku’s vital functions were failing and there was not enough time, enough quirks, enough anything to save him. Recovery Girl was trying everything she could, but Izuku’s condition didn’t let her do much. He was dying before their eyes and there was nothing they could do to prevent it.

When the flatline pierced their ears, the heaviest silence fell upon them.

Death wasn’t something foreign for them. They were pro-heroes and they danced around it every day, especially Recovery Girl. Close encounters were not uncommon and they’d lost more comrades than they could count on their fingers. They knew death and All Might had even come close to savouring it before, after his battle with All for One, and this was not the first patient that Recovery Girl had lost, but this...

They weren’t prepared for this.

It felt like time stopped for all of them. They couldn’t tear their eyes from Izuku’s body, chest still and no colour on his skin. The healthy pink his cheeks should had been was gone, now replaced by a greyish tint. He was deathly pale.

All Might could only remember when the sludge villain attacked Izuku and how similar he looked during that incident.

This time, though, it was final.

“I’m sorry.” Recovery Girl's voice was small and weak, almost inaudible.

All Might couldn’t talk, his throat tight and a sharp pain in his chest, worse than his old wound.

Aizawa still couldn’t process what just happened.

For a few ticks of the clock, everything was frozen.

A sudden gasp and the restart of the monitors startled all of them. 

The flatline disappeared, heart monitor beeping steady once again, and Izuku bolted up on the table, breathing heavily, pupils fully dilated, eyes wide and body shivering. His last memories were flashing through his eyes, adrenaline kicking in and Yūrei reappearing in the blink of an eye, wings unfolded and fighting stance up.

“K-Kacchan!” was the first thing he could say, a bit strangled and with a hint of fear the adults could recognize clearly.

However, before Yūrei could do any damage, Izuku noticed his surroundings. He was no longer in the building where the villain team was hiding the bomb, Bakugou was nowhere to be found and the whiteness of this place could only be the infirmary, a place he already knew better than most of his classmates.

“Oh no...” he muttered.

O-Oh... no...” Yūrei copied, dropping his fighting stance and starting to float aimlessly as usual.

The sudden weight of the adult’s eyes made him realize that he wasn’t alone. Turning his face upwards slowly, he saw that Recovery Girl, All Might and Aizawa were there, watching him with unreadable expressions.

None of them looked happy, though.

“I-I... I can explain,“ he mumbled weakly, sharp mind filling the gaps in his memory already.

“Then humour us, Midoriya.” The hardness in Aizawa’s voice made him flinch.

This was bad.

After snapping out of her shock, Recovery Girl was soon next to Izuku, checking on him once again. He tried to protest, but her stern look made him keep quiet. She checked every vital sign, every injured organ or tissue, searched for all the open injuries he had had and examined his back, looking for the third degree burn. Nothing was there; he was healthy as a horse, strong as an ox— and that made no sense at all.

During the examination, Aizawa went to block the door to the infirmary. All Might, on the other hand, was still in shock. He couldn’t believe his own eyes and the memory of the sludge villain came back again in full force, comprehension falling over him.

If his suspicions were true (and even though he wasn’t a genius, he wasn’t a fool either), Izuku had died that day. And that only meant one thing.

This kid had died twice under his care.

Pathetic.

Useless.

How can you call yourself the number one hero, the Symbol of Peace?

You failed him.

Twice.

His thoughts were interrupted by Aizawa, who set up three chairs and was gesturing him to sit down. Mindlessly, he obeyed, suddenly exhausted, having to put an extra effort to keep his powered up form.

After announcing that Izuku had no injuries at all, the three adults were sitting down, eyes on the teen. He swallowed hard, unable to look at them, so he kept his eyes on his hands and tried to sense Yūrei without actually looking at him. The ghost was there, grazing one of the white curtains with his left wing, muttering something under his breath.

Silence stretched and Izuku was starting to feel sick.

“We are all ears.” Aizawa was the one who broke the ice, again, and Izuku flinched. Again.

How could he explain all of these?

“My quirk...” he started, tongue heavy and throat closing up. “M-My quirk won't l-let m-me... d-die.” His voice quickly gained speed and lost volume, so it was a bit hard to follow him. Still, they heard him and something akin to confusion was reflected in their eyes.

What did he meant that he couldn’t die?

“Are you immortal, Midoriya-kun?” The woman asked, trying to get a grip on the teen’s words.

He gulped, musing over how to answer that.

“I... think so?” He had spent many nights wondering the same. If he and his mother were actually immortal, they shouldn’t age. However, Inko had aged in the same rhythm as any other human and he had a hunch that he’d do it too. So, were they really immortal?

“You think so?” Aizawa’s tone was skeptic.

“I don-n’t... I-I’m not sure,” he confessed, dread filling his stomach. “I mean, I can’t die. I know that. And you too... now.” the last part was no more than a whisper, but it was full of shame and fear. “I still haven’t explored the extensions and limitations of that part of my quirk, but at least all the times I’ve died, I’ve come back.” His speech was speeding up again and for Aizawa, it felt like Izuku was trying to convince himself as much as he was trying to convince them.

He was tense, which was obvious. And scared, too. But at the same time, that not only left him vulnerable but it also made him careless, and Aizawa was too sharp to let slide comments like the last one, which the other two also catch in time.

“My boy,” All Might’s voice sounded so small and meek that it was hard to say it was him talking, “how many times have you died?”

That brought back a pregnant silence, but Izuku knew they wouldn’t let this question pass.

He muttered the answer so quietly, that no one understood a word.

“Young Midoriya?”

“Three times...” they heard, and Aizawa stood up, pacing nervously.

He was mad. No, he was more than mad. He was furious, raging, seething. But at the same time, he was so lost and he wasn’t used to being adrift with anything. He was cautious with his job, he was smart enough to study almost any possible situation and as a teacher, he was actually a lot more competent than people gave him credit for. He understood the way people thought, their fears and doubts; even though he was harsh and, as Present Mic liked to say, preferred to give tough love than sugarcoat things, he had always known how to handle things with his students.

But now, he had lost a kid during a simple training exercise and suddenly this kid had a quirk of immortality.

What the actual fuck?

“There’s more," he said abruptly, gaining the attention of the rest.

He turned his body, facing Izuku, and spoke again.

“There’s more, isn’t there?” he demanded, analytical, half-lidded eyes piercing through the younger one's wide green ones. “Your quirk registration says that you have some sort of telekinetic quirk. During the pitch exercise, you outdid most of your classmates. Immortality didn’t do that, am I right?” Izuku knew his teacher was in full analytic mode right now, eyes scanning him, looking for any piece of information he could extract from him.

He was about to answer, thinking over how could he explain Yūrei’s existence, when a light sparked in the other’s eyes.

“The shadow...” he muttered, and Izuku gasped audibly. So he was right. “Is--”

“How could you see him?” the boy couldn’t stop himself from interrupting. “He’s invisible, no one can see him.” No one but his mother, but he wasn’t willing to share that piece of information just yet. The idea of exposing his mother made him mad, a raw protective instinct overpowering rational thoughts.

Recovery Girl and All Might were pretty lost, though.

“What are you talking about, Aizawa-kun?” the blond asked, gaze alternating between him and the boy.

“During the pitch exercise, for a second, I saw something,” he explained, remembering every detail though it was hard to grasp. “It was looming behind Midoriya, but it was so fast that I couldn’t put a finger on what it was. But that’s the reason you could succeed that test, isn’t it?” he asked the boy, who looked anywhere but him, but still nodded.

All Might watched him with worry.

“Why did you keep it a secret, Midoriya-kun?” Recovery Girl suddenly asked. She had her own thoughts in the matter, but she was interested in his answer.

The boy didn’t answer immediately, trying to gather all his ideas while fighting against the underlying fear he was feeling since he had revived.

The intensity of the other’s gaze was terrible, but he had to answer.

“I was quirkless for most of my life,”  he admitted. Regret and shame filled his face and voice. All Might felt the impulse to stop this, noticing how his student was suffering, but battled against it. “And then suddenly I had a quirk? It was hard for me to process, but when I did, I knew my quirk wasn’t something I could tell anyone,” he chuckled bitterly, hands balled and knuckles white. “I couldn’t go and say ‘hey guys, know what? I’m immortal now!’ They wouldn’t believe me and if they did...” he stopped, implications hitting him hard.

If his words were not enough, the bitterness in his voice let the adults see a bit of what he was feeling and allowing them to imagine what was behind those words.

What they came up with wasn’t pretty. They wanted to be wrong, but at the same time they were almost certain they weren’t.

Now All Might’s knuckles were also white, fists clenched.

“Even though I can’t die, I still feel pain. Every ounce of pain is there and I’m not exactly eager to experience death over and over again." It was a half-truth. His suicidal tendencies were still a bit of a problem, but by now it was almost under control. Since the acceptance letter arrived at his home, he could proudly say that the idea of committing suicide again didn’t came to his mind, not even once. He didn’t want to break that streak.

“But you heal after you die.” Recovery Girl pointed out.

Izuku nodded.

“But that doesn’t explain your ‘telekinetic’ abilities,” Aizawa said, floating quotation marks gestured to emphasize.

“Ah... that’s Yūrei,” he said, watching the ghost. By now, he was perched over the rail of the bed, wings tucked in, quietly muttering to himself. Did he look this creepy when he muttered? He hoped not.

“Yū...rei?” All Might asked, not understanding. The others were in the same boat.

“It’s... actually, I don’t know how to explain this,” he confessed, blushing. “I’ve tried to, but there’s no connection with the fact that I can’t die that Yūrei exists, but he does, so...” He shrugged and watched the ghost imitate his action, shrugging too. It was almost endearing by now, and that made him question his sanity slightly.

“And what’s this... Yūrei?” Aizawa questioned, following Izuku’s gaze. There was nothing there.

“Yūrei is something like a ghost. But he looks a bit like a mummy too, but he has wings so I’m not really sure how to describe him accurately.” He started to ramble, but stopped himself from continuing and focused again on more pressing matters. “Let’s say that he’s a ghost, because no one but me can see him. I can command him, so I fake the telekinesis with him," he explained, voice dragging a bit. He was starting to feel tired of all these emotions (and the fact that he died again), but the look in Aizawa’s eyes told him he had to go on for a bit more, so he did.

He wanted to try the non-verbal commands, but understood that it wasn’t going to serve the purpose now.

“Yūrei, pick up Recovery Girl’s desk.” Doing as he said, Yūrei got up off his perch. The desk was soon ‘floating’ in front of them. “Now leave it near the door.” The commands were simple, so the ghost had no problem following them. Izuku repeated the command, now asking him to leave it where it was, and the ghost complied. “Can I do something with the curtains? I’ll replace them,” he asked the woman, who nodded.

“Do as you must," she granted.

“Okay. Yūrei, tear this curtain.” It was going to be solid proof, since his claws would leave a mark.

...h...ow?” Yūrei asked, and Izuku marvelled, albeit tiredly, at the ghost’s progress.

The others, however, didn’t seem to have listened to him.

“Vertically would be fine,” he answered. That caught their attention.
Yūrei did as he was told, ripping the curtains downwards, leaving four claw marks on the delicate white fabric.

Izuku noticed the adults' poorly hidden astonishment and inwardly he smiled, proud of what he had accomplished in such short time.

“Thanks Yūrei, that will be all.” As he got more and more comfortable with the ghost, it was easier to recognize him as a being, so he started to thank him and the humming the ghost emitted gave him the impression that Yūrei liked it, even though it was probably a reflex copied from him.

With that, he let the ghost vanish.

Shyly and a bit worriedly, he waited for the adult’s reaction. They were in deep silence, staring at the desk and then the curtain and then the desk again, processing what they just saw.

In front of them, there was an immortal student that apparently not only couldn’t die under any circumstance known, but also had some sort of invisible minion that could lift things and tear curtains and fight for him and who knows what else.

This was officially the most fucked-up day ever.

“I think you should leave him rest.” Recovery Girl was the first to speak, regaining her I’m-the-school-nurse-you-must-leave-the-infirmary-now tone. “You might be fine now, Midoriya-kun, but I want to keep you under observation. Also, you look tired.” She examined his eyes with a little flashlight, watching his pupils contract.

Both teachers nodded, questions still boiling inside of them.

“You can ask him more questions later. Tomorrow, so he'll be at his best,” she continued, watching them sternly. Izuku could be immortal, but she was in charge and she would not let him leave the infirmary until she was sure he was healed and had gotten some rest.

“Nothing said here will leave this walls," All Might promised, noticing how Izuku relaxed a bit after he said that.

“Still, there’s much more explaining you’ll have to do,” Aizawa said, his tired, unamused voice returning. “And not only to us, but to the principal too.” Izuku wanted to protest, but finally went against it.

He knew he wasn’t off the hook yet.

“Yes, sensei.”

“Rest well, my boy,” All Might said while unblocking the door, trying to leave everything where it belonged. “I’ll see you later,” he promised.

Aizawa just nodded as a goodbye and finally, Recovery Girl and Izuku were alone.

He sighed tiredly, letting himself fall onto the table.

“Are you seeing a therapist, Midoriya-kun?” Recovery Girl's sudden question caught him off-guard, making him look like a deer in headlights. “I’m not stupid,” she said.

“I-I-I ne-never said t-that!” he protested, afraid of having offended her.

She chuckled lightly, even a bit fondly.

“Come on, let’s move you to a bed so you can rest. And I won’t take no for an answer, you need to sleep.”


Recovery Girl didn’t let him leave the infirmary for the rest of the day. It wasn’t a problem, since the fighting exercise was the last class of the day, so he had a couple of hours to sleep, which was good for someone suffering insomnia most nights. After the bell rang, Uraraka and Iida came by and, with the nurse’s permission, stayed there for almost twenty minutes.

“I’m so glad you’re alright!” Uraraka said, worry evident in her face. “I was worried when All Might-sensei didn’t return and Present Mic-sensei took over the class.” He didn’t knew that piece of information, but he was glad no one was out of the training field by that time.

“Bakugou’s behavior was inexcusable, even within the exercise’s context,” Iida said, tone serious. “Even though we were the villain team, it was still a school exercise and the extreme use of force didn’t justify the outcome.” Izuku smiled at him, thankful for their concern.

“Thanks, guys, but I’m okay. Recovery Girl’s quirk did wonders on me and I’ll go home soon," he explained while faking sore muscles, guilt nesting in his stomach. He hated to lie.

Both nodded and chatted a bit longer, bidding their goodbyes and Iida promising that he’d send a summary of their observations on everyone’s results over a text. Izuku thanked him and something told him that Iida’s text would be a really long one.

Still, he was happy to finally have friends.

After getting the official clearance to leave the infirmary, Izuku thanked Recovery Girl for everything (including her silence) and started off towards the school gates. Uraraka brought him his backpack and she told him that Kirishima had already packed everything, so he took out his phone and texted his mom that he’d be a bit late.

17:44 [From: Mom] Ok! Dont come too late though

17:45 [To: Mom] i wont ! ^w^

Unknown to him, while he arrived to the school gates, someone was watching him from a window.

“You're thinking something stupid, aren’t you?”

“Don’t be too harsh on him, Aizawa-kun, he’s still processing this new... development. Am I right, Toshinori-kun?”

The blond man was silent, watching from afar as Izuku’s silhouette got smaller and smaller until he couldn’t see him at all.

He sighed. He was too old and weak for this.

“I don’t know what to feel... or think,” Toshinori confessed, letting himself fall on an unused couch. There was tea served in front of him, still too hot to drink.

The principal didn’t seem too worried about the matter, which wasn’t a surprise for them. Nedzu always seemed to know what to do, even in the most extreme situations.

“Well, the only advice I can give you is getting in contact with your old teacher,” the intelligent animal remarked, taking a small sip from his own cup of tea. “He’ll doubtlessly have some sort of insight into this matter.”

Aizawa raised a brow, interest sparking subtly in his eyes.

“How could he know something?”

Nedzu’s face didn’t reveal anything. He was probably the only one Aizawa couldn’t read, and it was a bit frustrating.

But Toshinori didn’t say anything, but looked deep in thought instead.

Nedzu had a hunch about what worries were plaguing his mind.

“Togata Mirio is still the best candidate to become your successor,” the principal said, setting his teacup down on the little coffee table. “Please don’t lose focus on why are you taking a role as a teacher at UA. Your hero expertise is extremely valued and you are a great addition to the staff, but with your current condition, your need for a protegé is the most urgent matter.”

But Toshinori was only half listening, and Nedzu was fully aware of that.

Aizawa observed this exchange in silence. He had his suspicions about why All Might looked so out of it, but he was wondering why.

What had the reckless Midoriya Izuku done to become a candidate for the inheritance of One for All?

Chapter Text

Bakugou Mitsuki was many things, but she was not stupid.

She was a woman, she was a mother, and she was a wife. She was harsh, ill-tempered, and prone to aggressiveness. She was kind, respectful and she loved her family.

She knew her husband: gentle and understanding, with the patience of a saint to deal with his wife and son every day - his loud, explosive and rude wife and son. For outsiders, they probably looked like a couple where the husband was completely submissive and the wife was a crude witch. She knew better, for they respected each other and were a team, even if they didn't always agree on their parenting methods. They had enough maturity in themselves and their relationship to talk things out instead of fighting unnecessarily, so she didn't care for the opinions of shitheads who didn't know a thing.

She knew her son: rough, ill-tempered and full of himself, a lot more like her than his father and they often clashed because of that. They tended to insult each other, Mitsuki calling him a brat and him calling her old hag, but even if from the outside they should look like a terrible pair, she never doubted his son's true heart and she was sure he knew that she loved him more than her own life. He was still young and had so much to learn, and she'd be there for every step he'd take, rooting for him and scolding him when necessary, the latter being much more often than the former.

And because of that, she knew that something was troubling Katsuki, for he has been acting differently than usual.

The tiny things were what gave him away. He'd be more irritable, came home from school fuming and mutter under his breath more often than not. He looked troubled, deep in thought, but every time she or Masaru asked him anything, he snapped, avoiding the topic. His scowl told everyone that he wanted to be alone, but his eyes...

His eyes told them that he was miserable.

And as her mother, she was not going to accept that.

"I don't understand, Masaru," she told him, clutching her cup of coffee with more strength than necessary. "I thought UA was what he wanted, that getting accepted would make him happy. For fuck's sake, I thought finally he'd make some good friends, not those losers that hung around him only to stay on his good side!" She felt her husband's hand over hers and immediately took it, finding the touch of his calloused palm comforting.

He sighed, glasses a bit fogged by the steam of the hot coffee.

"It has only been a few weeks, dear, he's still adjusting," he said, but his frown told her that he was more convincing himself than addressing the real problem. "He's finally met people on his level, maybe even better than him... he's not used to this kind of environment." He was not wrong. Katsuki was used to being a big fish in a small pond, so facing people that were not only equal to him but also more powerful was a huge blow to his self-confidence.

"Don't sugarcoat it. He's always been a little shit, so his ego is probably on the floor if there are classmates that surpass him." Her words were harsh, but her tone wasn't. More than anything, she was worried.

Masaru caressed her hand with his thumb, trying to comfort his wife.

"But if that's the case he'd be bitching about it. Not... avoiding the topic." Something was nagging her, as if she didn't have the full picture of what was happening to her son. "There's something we don't know, Masaru, something important to Katsuki."

He looked troubled but nodded. She was right.

"Do you think we should go to school and talk to his teachers?" he asked, but they both shared a conflicted look.

They knew Katsuki was a problematic kid. He had always been, especially to those his son considered below him. Every time Midoriya Inko contacted them to talk about their sons' troubled relationship, they always tried to resolve the issue peacefully. However, as their children grew, the problem only got bigger and after pretty nasty episodes where the green haired boy arrived home with fresh burns caused by Katsuki's quirk, the Bakugous knew they needed to do something.

However, their surprise was immense when they went to school and not even one teacher said something bad about Katsuki.

"Yes, he's a rough kid, but they're children. They're careless when the play, but they'll grow and learn," the teacher had said, and every time something happened, the answer was pretty much the same. The hierarchy among peers was so strong that the teachers failed to see something truly wrong in the blond's behavior, especially towards Izuku, the little quirkless boy.

After that, Mitsuki lost any trust towards teachers. That's probably the reason she no longer controlled her temperament with her son, knowing her and her husband were the only people who'd tell Katsuki that what he was doing was wrong. But at the same time, it was hard to admit that things were out of their control, and so the decision for any drastic measures was always pushed for later.

"Maybe we could wait a couple of more weeks? Try to talk him into telling us what's happening," he proposed after a dense silence. Mitsuki nodded.

"I'm going to visit Inko, though. I want to know how things are going with Izuku-kun."

Her husband agreed, taking her hand, always soft in contrast with his own, and left a chaste kiss over the palm.

"You're a good mother, 'Tsuki," he told her, reading the doubts and fears in her eyes. "And Katsuki is a good boy. He just needs our help." He was so loving, so trusting. She loved him for that, but one of them had to be realistic.

"And a good kick in the ass, too." Masaru laughed, and she smiled. "UA is a good place for that, don't you think?"

"Yeah, it is."


Izuku was lying on the sand, gasping for air after one particular strong punch in the gut.

"You okay there?" Toshinori's voice was tinted with worry. He still had trouble to measure his strength in his weakened form, used to leak some of One for All's power just in case. "I shouldn't have punched you so hard."

"No no, I'm okay." His strangled voice was at odds with his words. Toshinori shook his head and offered his hand, and Izuku didn't reject it, standing up with the elder's help.

Dusting off his clothes, Izuku took a moment to stretch his limbs and breathe deeply. He had so much on his mind lately that he was becoming careless, scatterbrained even.

And Toshinori noticed.

"Is something bothering you, Midoriya-kun?" he asked, catching Izuku by surprise. Understandable, since they had a silent agreement to keep some distance when personal matters came up, which was truer for the man than the boy.

He shook his head, trying to downplay the matter.

"Just... school stuff." It was not entirely a lie, but a half-assed truth at most. The unamused look of the other told him so. "Seriously! It's nothing to worry about." He was getting nervous and even if he didn't stammer, he was close. Toshinori's heroic instinct of meddling in others' affairs was kicking in full force, so he had no time to stop himself and spoke before knowing it.

"It's enough to bother you, though." It wasn't a question, but a statement. Izuku's downcast eyes and nervous body language told him that he, in fact, wanted to talk about it, but probably didn't know how or didn't want to bother him with his matters.

This kind of exchanges reminded Toshinori how young Izuku was and how much older he was. With a silent sigh, he sat down and patted the spot next to him. Hesitantly, Izuku complied.

"There's no need to go into full detail, but sometimes is better to get things off your chest instead of bottling up your feelings." It was a bit hypocritical of him to say that since he was not only the number one hero but also the number one person at repressing his emotions for the sake of others. But he could (ironically) suppress his guilt and lend an ear to Izuku. The boy looked like he needed it.

Giving him his own time to put in order his thoughts, he waited patiently. The ocean was peaceful, dawn coming a bit later than usual. At the wee hours of the morning, everything was so silent that the almost non-existent waves still had enough strength to produce a lulling sound that could calm even the worst storm. Toshinori appreciated these hours, for it felt like the world was at peace and no one was suffering.

A wild thought appeared in his mind, making his heart sad.

'I hope that someday, One for All can die with its final bearer.'

If only.

"I disappointed someone at school." He was so immersed in his own world that Izuku's quiet remark startled him. He tried not to be so obvious but quickly noticed that the boy's eyes were fixed in the sand and that he hadn't noticed it.

How could this boy disappoint someone?

"I... kinda lied? I think it counts as lying or omission of the truth, which is practically the same even in some laws," and now he was rambling again, losing focus like he usually does. In other instances, it'd be almost endearing, but this time... this time it was just another way to avoid the topic he didn't want to talk about.

Izuku stopped himself before Toshinori could say anything and sighed sadly.

"I'm sorry... it's just that I've been thinking about this since All Might-sensei's class and I can't focus on anything else." He explained lamely, scratching the back of his head.

"I've noticed," Toshinori said, not as a reproach but as a simple comment.

But that last statement was what let him connect the dots, which was easy considering that the same that had been bothering Izuku was giving him trouble to sleep.

He pursed his lips, guilt recriminating him for keeping secrets from Izuku; secrets that were actually affecting the boy even if he himself didn't know it. It felt wrong to talk about this with him as Toshinori while he doesn't know that Toshinori and All Might were, in fact, the same person, but how could he come clean? Izuku adored All Might, admired and respected all he meant as the Symbol of Peace.

How could he take away that from him?

I'd only let him down.

"I never wanted to lie to them, you know? It's just... i-it's hard." He couldn't find the right words to share what bothered him without giving away too much information, so his mind was working faster than his tongue, causing his speech to falter. "I didn't want to disappoint them and now I've ruined everything. They'll never trust me again... they could even kick me out of the Hero Course if they want to!" His mind was racing, his pulse skyrocketing.

What if they actually kicked him out? He had downright lied about his quirk, died inside school grounds and lied over and over again to his new friends. For him, they were probably lying to other Pro-Heroes until the principal resolves on what to do with him and if they took the final decision of outing him, he'd be shown as the liar and the freak he was and everyone would turn their backs on him and he'd be all alone again, despised by everyone and left as an outcast.

He could not go through that again.

He'd kill himself again if that happened.

"-oy."

But that wouldn't change anything because he couldn't die.

"-riya!"

Could he try different things until dying for real this time?

"Izuku!"

His depressive, suicidal thoughts came to a halt when Toshinori yelled his given name and took him by the shoulders, bringing him back to reality. Izuku blinked twice, noticing that his eyes stung and his cheeks felt wet.

Was he crying?

"Izuku, my boy, please stop," Toshinori said with a heavy voice and alarmed eyes, making him wonder how much of his thought escaped his mouth and how much of it Toshinori actually understood. Fear gripped his heart, but before he could start hyperventilating, the man spoke again. "It's okay to be scared." His voice was careful and full of warmth.

"It's okay to make mistakes."

That took Izuku's voice away.

Toshinori couldn't believe this boy. This kind, selfless, small and wonderful boy was suffering so much that he wanted to Texas Smash himself to space for not noticing before how much his secret leaking out had affected him. How could he have thought they'd kick him out of the Hero Course? He was the embodiment of a hero, for god's sake!

But he firmly believed it and after he lost contact with reality and his mouth worked without his mind's permission and his thoughts were said out loud, Toshinori knew he had to put this to a stop. And it wasn't his hero spirit acting, but his heart.

He could not bear to see Izuku dead ever again. Not if he could avoid it.

The blond had been pondering about Izuku's immortality since that fateful day. The inevitable fear to the unknown triggered his doubts, but soon his more logical side told him that it was just a quirk and he'd have to treat it just like that. Like a quirk. It was, in a way, more powerful than any other he knew? Yes, it was. Being unable to die gave you endless possibilities, especially in the Pro-Hero Field, but it also involved many risks that the boy probably hadn't considered just yet. It was normal, given the fact that he was just heading towards this kind of life, but he was going to be there to guide him in any way he could, as All Might or as Toshinori.

But this. This made it final.

"It's okay to make mistakes," he repeated now that he had his full attention. "I think that your teachers are more worried than mad, and even if they're mad, they are your teachers. They are meant to protect you." But Izuku's answer for that was not what he expected.

"Teachers have never protected me." He choked, new and fresh tears falling from his eyes.

Toshinori's eyes hardened with that. There was so much he didn't know about the boy, but from all he knew by now, he could guess a lot and, again, just like that day, what he was guessing wasn't anything nice.

How could so many people fail this young boy?

They were going to change that. He was going to change that.

"But they will," he said, voice so sure that Izuku froze. "They will protect you, Izuku, and do you know why?"

Something deep inside him told him that he had heard the exact same words before and that the same feeling of awe and safety that evoked that time was being evoked now.

"Because they're not only teachers, but heroes too. And heroes will always come to your aid, no matter what." He believed every word he said with a will of steel and Izuku just had to believe him.

"So fear not, my boy." His voice and eyes softened, exuding safety towards Izuku. "Sometimes people need time. Anything you've done can't be as bad as you think and less when you're dealing with these pro-heroes." Even in his emotional state, Izuku couldn't miss what was left unsaid.

Hesitating a bit, he asked anyway.

"Do you know the pro-heroes at UA, Yagi-san?" he asked carefully, like if he pushed too much the man would back away from him.

He thought he'd flinch or something alike. He feared he had crossed an invisible line and the man would walk away to never come back, but instead his eyes turned sad and suddenly, he looked a bit older than before and a lot more defeated.

Izuku didn't like that.

"I was a hero, before," he confessed, careful of how much he was going to share. "I know them from those times... better times." He looked lonely and unreachable too.

He turned to Izuku and gave him the saddest smile in the world.

"Everyone makes mistakes, my boy. Me included." His eyes were hollowed, haunted by a past Izuku didn't know about, and the boy wondered if one day he'd have the privilege of knowing. "My mistakes led me to where I am today, and even though I don't regret most of my decisions, sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I had taken different choices." He would never regret meeting Nana or Gran Torino, or becoming the eighth user of One for All, because that gave him the opportunity to serve and save the people. He'd never regret facing All for One, but he wondered: if maybe he had been a little more patient, a little less bloodthirsty after Nana's death, maybe he could have avoided the life-threatening wound that left him like this now, looking for a successor that would carry the torch of One for All and face All for One one more time.

It was a burden he didn't want to pass onto an innocent, for it was a heavy burden. But he could not bear alone anymore and with All for One still out there, he couldn’t let One for All die with him.

Izuku contemplated the man, looking a new side of him that he could have never guessed it existed. He felt like an intruder but tried to accept the gift that was given to him, the opportunity to share the unsaid memories of this kind man. He still had the feeling that he was missing something important, something in plain sight that he couldn't notice yet, but for now, it was enough.

"I got to meet you," he suddenly blurted out, surprising them both.

Toshinori slowly turned again towards him and Izuku felt his ears hot, but decided against his good sense and kept talking.

"I don't know what happened to you, but whatever happened... thanks to those circumstances I met you," he said, shyness and decision in his voice, "and for that, I'm thankful, Yagi-san, because you're my first friend in a long time." He smiled while cleaning the traces of tears still left on his cheeks.

Pieces of an unfinished puzzle finally fell into place and, for a second, everything was clear for Toshinori.

Everything.

"And I'm thankful too, young Izuku." He returned the smile.

He couldn't deny it anymore, for he had found the true and only rightful successor for One for All.

"Are you feeling a little better?" he asked him, ruffling his hair like always.

Izuku nodded, face a bit sad again.

"It's still hard to not feel bad about it." He said sheepishly.

"Admitting that one was wrong is always hard, even if your actions were in some way justified," he said wisely, understanding the reasoning behind Izuku's feelings. "It's okay to feel bad about it, but don't let that dominate you. And remember, it's okay to apologize when you do something wrong, but don't forget to forgive yourself too." He said, looking the boy.

He nodded again, rubbing his eyes after feeling them wetting again.

By now, dawn was almost over, weak golden light bathing the beach quietly.

The silence between them was no longer tense.

"Can I have a hug?"

Toshinori was beyond surprised. He looked Izuku, but he was busy burying his face in his knees, too embarrassed to actually look at the man.

For the first time in many years, Toshinori wondered what might have become of him if he had decided to have a child.

"Of course, my boy."

Slowly, they both stood up. Sweat long dried by now, the only thing stopping them was modesty. Toshinori let him do the first step and Izuku took his sweet time, but after much hesitation, he carefully got near and their hug was as awkward as both thought it would be.

But that made the man laugh and all tension was suddenly gone. They tightened the hug, which was a good-willed one and very much needed - not only for the boy, but for the man as well. 

When Izuku felt ready, he let Toshinori go and was relieved to see his eyes alight with life again, cheeks a bit pink after crying, but a lot calmer than before. He ruffled Izuku's hair with playful strength and, he laughed.

This was nice.

"Izuku!" a feminine voice disrupted their moment and the morning, her hurried steps getting nearer with every passing second.

"Mom? What are you doing here?" the boy asked when she was within sight, jogging towards them with short breath.

He was the first in getting near, Toshinori trailing behind.

"W-Well... y-you never take this l-long and... ah... waitaminute," she asked in a hurried and strangled voice, unused to running. Usually, these kinds of things were saved for her ghost, but he could not deliver her message for her, so here she was, short of breath and sweating a bit.

While Izuku instructed his mother to regain breath, Toshinori took the liberty to analyze the woman that he now recognized as Izuku's mother.

The two were alike as two droplets of water. Hair almost the same shade of green, very similar skin colour, she lacked the freckles her son had, but when he noticed his eyes, they were the same bright green eyes Izuku had. It was seeing a feminine, slightly shorter and chubbier version of the boy.

Suddenly, she noticed his presence and immediately blushed, embarrassed of her looks.

"O-Oh, I didn't know you were still together," she said bashfully, trying to look everywhere but Toshinori. They were very alike, indeed. "I'm sorry I'm such a mess," she apologized, to which he shook his head, smiling as nicely as he could.

He was aware that his weakened appearance was a hindrance for the others, but it was impossible for him to hide now.

"Do not worry, it's completely comprehensible," he said politely, trying to ease the woman. "For what I've noticed, you already know about me. My name is Yagi Toshinori. Pleased to meet you, Midoriya-san," he presented himself, unable to stop himself from scratching the back of his neck nervously.

How disappointing it must be for her to see him. As Izuku's jogging partner and fighting teacher, she was probably expecting someone less... scrawny than him. Less of an eyesore too.

"Midoriya Inko, pleased to meet you too," she answered, offering a tiny hand to shake.

It was ridiculous how big and thin his was in comparison. 

"I'm glad we finally meet formally!" she said, smiling brightly.

'Even their smile is the same,' he thought, unable to refrain from comparing them.

"I've heard so many things about you, Yagi-san. All good, don't worry." She was easygoing and very kind, her face wasn't showing any kind of disgust towards him, which was surprising.

"Well, that's good to hear." He was good with small talk, being a hero usually made you proficient in that, unless you hated media like Eraserhead or preferred to have a public agency to make statements instead of interacting yourself like Endeavour.

On the other hand, Izuku was glad that they seemed to get along well but was still curious why she went to look for him.

"I'm sorry to interrupt, but--"

"Oh! I'm sorry, Izuku. You were taking so long that I was worried, but also your phone's been buzzing since early morning and I think it's important. I didn't want to peek, but on the outer screen it said 'Uraraka-san' and 'Iida-kun'." Izuku was raising a brow, wondering who would text him so early until she said his friend's names.

"Midnight-sensei's homework!" he yelped, startling both adults. "Mom! What time it is?" he asked in a hurry.

"Almost seven?" she said, not understanding a thing.

"I'm late!" he was mortified. How could he lose track of time this badly?

Toshinori stiffened too. He was also late.

"Thanks, mom! I'll eat something during recess, I promise!" he said in advance, knowing she'd say something about him missing breakfast.

"I left your uniform ready on your bed." She was such a lifesaver.

"Go, my boy, don't be late," Toshinori said, thinking that he should follow his own advice.

Izuku nodded hastily, ready to run towards his house in that moment. But after just a couple of steps, he halted and turned to see the blond.

"Thank you, Yagi-san. For everything." His voice was soft, meaning every word.

Toshinori smiled a bit and nodded. "Go before you're late," he said.

With that, they both saw Izuku's figure shrink until he was a tiny speck on the horizon. The silence wasn't uncomfortable, but he wasn't much at ease with the woman there. It took him several weeks to start to not be conscious about his looks around Izuku, but it wasn't the same with Inko. It'd be rude to just leave, but he was also late for work so he'd just have to excuse himself.

"Thank you, Yagi-san," she suddenly said, prompting a sense of déjà vu.

"I'm sorry?"

She turned to him, looking sober but content. "Thank you for being there for my son," she clarified, and with that, Toshinori couldn't avoid feeling small.

"It's more like the other way round, Midoriya-san. Your son is a good young man," she smiled at his words but shook her head.

"You can't see it, but I do. Since you two started to spend time together, I've seen him... happy, more upbeat," she explained, staring towards the direction Izuku went as if she could still see him. "I want to thank you for supporting him, for being with him when I can't. For helping him train for the UA exam... for believing in him." Many things were left unsaid, but he wasn't going to pry.

As All Might, he had brief interactions with some mothers after saving their children. There was always a kind of warm, undying love he could notice in the way they talked about their children, with such a dedication that only a parent could give. However, when Inko talked, he didn't remember them, but Nana.

The brief times he'd talk about the son she gave up, there was a fierce determination and a devotion that scared him. And now, Inko exuded the exact same aura as Nana and suddenly, he felt a whole new respect for the little woman.

It was like she could see beyond what he could.

Also, they shared a really similar hair style.

"It's an honor to be there for Midoriya-kun." He said truthfully and she noticed that.

Inko smiled, happy to see that her trust into this 'Yagi-san' was well founded.

"What is your favourite food, Yagi-san?"

"What?" he was dumbfounded. When did they change topics so abruptly?

"I know Izuku is shy, so he probably didn't tell you," she chuckled, knowing her son too well. "I want to invite you to have dinner with us, so I can thank you properly for caring for my son. Any day you can is fine; of course, you must be a busy man," she said, completely composed, at least on the outside.

Toshinori was flustered. "It's not necessary, Midoriya-san!" He was completely unused to this kind of personal interactions, still surrounded only by pro-heroes of people of the field. Naomasa was probably the most normal person he knew and he was still a cop; a friend, but a cop, so he also fell into the 'hero-related' bag most of the time.

"I insist," she said cooly, but underneath her calm facade, she was also nervous. She didn't want to make a bad impression on her son's friend.

Recognizing defeat, he sighed.

"I'm not a picky eater," he said, trying to keep a cooler tone.

Inko smiled.

"Would katsudon be okay? It's Izuku's favourite."

Chapter Text

It took four excruciating days before Izuku was called to the principal's office. It was a discreet announcement, made by his homeroom teacher in the solitude of the teacher's lounge the day before, during lunch time. He was scheduled to go there after the next day's classes and from what he understood, Aizawa was going to be there too. The man's look was as unimpressed as always, but there was something else there that made Izuku anxious.

"Don't worry, sweetie. Everything will be fine," Inko assured him the night before over dinner. She prepared katsudon, trying to cheer him up, and he appreciated her gesture.

Still, he was so nervous that he felt sick. He really wanted to believe Toshinori's words, but the silent tension was too much for him.

He just wanted this to end. For better or worse.

"Greetings, Midoriya-kun. Please take a seat," Nedzu greeted him when he entered the office, Aizawa already there. "I'm principal Nedzu, but of course you already know that. I think you also know why you were called here today," he pointed out.

Izuku swallowed hard and nodded.

"Then it is settled. Aizawa-kun, let us discuss his new schedule."

Izuku looked down, hair covering his tear-filled eyes.

He knew it. He was being demoted from the Heroes Course and now they were relocating him to who knows which department. He had let everyone down by lying blatantly and he should be thankful he wasn't being kicked out of UA.

"It should be during evenings, after classes. The Heroes Course is demanding and I don't want you to burn him up during the first week," Nedzu said while looking some papers he had on his desk.

Aizawa sighed.

Wait.

What?

"Aren't you kicking me out of the Heroes Course?" he blurted, stumbling over his words and eyes wider than ever.

The principal's face was hard to read. It was like his face was frozen in one expression, too blank but at the same too harmless. Was it because he was an animal? But what animal was he? A mouse? A small bear? Izuku couldn't tell.

"Why on Earth would we do that?" Nedzu asked in a calm, professional voice.

Izuku tried to say something, explain a coherent reason for his fears, but the shock was too much that his mind was suddenly completely blank. His mouth was hanging open, trying to form even one word. The principal smiled, actually moved a little by the boy in front of him. He was so young, so lost and naïve... but he lived for this, to teach and guide and help his students.

"Midoriya-kun, I think your fears have clouded your mind when it comes to this particular situation." With one white paw, he took a file he had under the many papers discarded over the desk, opening it and revealing that it was Izuku's middle school file. "You were categorized as quirkless until a year ago, weren't you?" The question itself was easy, but he still felt it was a tricky one.

Gulping, he nodded.

"Suddenly developing a quirk was probably a little shocking to you, considering the latest bloomer recorded in this prefecture until now was of eleven years, and you were fourteen," Nedzu didn't even have to read his file by now; he knew the information by heart. "Moreover, the kind of treatment you received during most of your childhood for your quirkless condition surely left a scar within you."

Izuku flinched a bit, not knowing why those words felt like a punch in the gut. There was no malice in the principal's voice, not even disregard like his middle school's teachers. It was just a fact said in a calculated voice, so it wasn't too emotional but it wasn't robotic either.

It was precise enough to be a statement and to cause a reaction at the same time.

"I want you to know that UA won't do anything against you for lying on your quirk registration. Truthfully, you didn't do anything wrong, despite what you believe," Nedzu continued, "Given the true nature of your quirk, it is understandable that your mother wanted to protect you from the consequences of an immortality quirk. However, as your teachers and in order to provide you a well-rounded education, both as a hero and as a person, we needed to know about your quirk so we could teach you properly based on who you are, as we do with any other student."

The words the principal used caught Izuku's attention. 'The consequences of an immortality quirk,' he had said - and Izuku remembered a specific conversation he had with his mother many months ago, where she addressed something really similar in a different fashion. He felt like he was missing something the adults knew and he didn't; not yet, at least.

Honestly, it was a bit frustrating.

"The good news is that we have all the information we need for now." Nedzu's voice was cheerful, which made him look cute, considering his small animal form. "And so, I've spoken with your homeroom teacher and we've decided to add a little extra to your formation."

A little extra?

Aizawa, reading Izuku's confusion, intervened.

"Students here have been using their quirks for a good number of years by the time they are accepted and start their studies. You've had yours for, what? A few months before the entrance exam?" Izuku nodded absentmindedly, thinking that it was more than a few months, but definitely less than a year. "Your mastery with your quirk is poor, and that's being generous. Even if many students don't know the full extent and possible uses for their quirks, they excel at the basics, which you don't. Sooner or later you will fall behind the rest of the class and I won't accept anyone who drags the rest of the class because of their ineptitude." His words were severe, but it wasn't threatening, it was just a fact.

"Your entrance exam proved that you're qualified to be in the Heroes Course, even with your lack of skill regarding quirk use. That's why I asked Aizawa-kun to give you some extra training, since he is already training another student who needs it." Izuku was surprised. He never thought his gruff teacher would be mentoring someone off school.

He looked at him carefully, but Aizawa only shrugged.

But wouldn't he be a bother?

"Are you okay with this, Aizawa-sensei?"

The man half-lidded eyes pierced through his, promising hardships. "You have only one chance. I won't train anyone who's not serious about it, since I don't have any time to waste." Once again he wasn't kidding. Izuku sat up straight and nodded firmly, trying to convey his strong resolution to his teacher.

Aizawa looked at him and even when he didn't do anything, not even return his nod, something in his posture told Izuku that he was satisfied with the unspoken answer.

Nedzu was also satisfied with this development. He had great faith in all his students and Izuku was not an exception.

"Then it's settled. Now, there's another matter I wanted to discuss with you, Midoriya-kun," the principal began again, reclaiming the boy's attention. "Aizawa-kun and I were discussing your quirk registration and we think it'd be best if we changed it."

Izuku was dumbfounded. Aizawa spoke first.

"Your registration is vague, clearly taking after your mother's. That won't work." He seemed pretty adamant about it, shaking his head slightly.

"Why?"

"According to Aizawa-kun, your quirk's manifestation, aside from your inability to die, is some kind of invisible minion that you can command. Is that correct?" In simple, inaccurate terms, it was. Izuku nodded and the principal continued, "In order to fully develop that ability and not lift any suspicion, we should change your quirk registration for something less restrained. No need to worry about the details, we can take care of that so it's believable." He crossed his paws and rested his face on them, weight supported by his elbows over the table.

The more Izuku heard, the more reasonable the proposition sounded. He kept nodding, listening attentively, and finally agreed.

He didn't notice until he left the principal's office, but after the conversation carried out he felt lighter and lighter, an invisible weight lifting from his young shoulders.

After entrusting the principal with his quirk registration, answering a few questions about what he had discovered all by himself about his quirk during the months before the entrance exam, he and Aizawa discussed his new training. It'd be, for starters, three times a week, half an hour after the last class of the day. It'd be on the school training grounds and until Aizawa changed it, they'd train alone.

"We need your parent's written permission to proceed with this new training," Aizawa said, handing Izuku a written form. He quickly skimmed the document, eyeing some key words like 'quirk' and 'training'.

"If it's necessary, we can schedule an appointment with her the day after tomorrow," Nedzu said, and Izuku was a bit surprised by this, given his experience during middle school.

It was... weird, to say the least, to have teachers that seemed genuinely interested in him and his well-being.

"I'll tell her." He hoped it wouldn't be necessary, feeling that he was already being too much of a hassle to add his mother into the equation.

"Then that will be all, Midoriya-kun," Nedzu said, that fixed smile less intimidating to him now.

He stood up and bowed, first to the principal and then to his homeroom teacher.

"Thank you very much for everything," he said, formally and humbly.

Bidding his teachers goodbye, Izuku left the office very much relieved. He couldn't believe that all his fears were just that— fears. They didn't materialize and, for the first time since elementary school, he felt supported. A wide smile spread on his face and he thanked God that he was in UA.

"Deku!" a feminine voice shouted.

By the end of the hall, Uraraka, Iida, and Kirishima were there, waiting for him. His smile was replaced with surprise and he met them halfway.

"Guys? What are you doing here?" he asked.

"We were waiting for you, man. Of course!" Kirishima's smile was blinding and even with his shark-like teeth, it was cheerful and warm.

"I must apologize deeply! I did not mean to eavesdrop upon your conversation with Aizawa-sensei yesterday! However, I happened to be looking for him during lunchtime to give him the homework I collected from the class during the morning." Iida bowed so deeply that his forehead almost touched his knees. "It was worrisome that you were called to the principal's office, but with your current expression and stance, I believe everything went alright?" he asked, a hint of worry still in his voice.

"Yeah, everything alright, Midoriya?" the redhead asked too, and Uraraka's unsaid question was hanging in the air.

Izuku took a moment to answer, emotions whirling inside him.

A confident smile replaced his surprise.

"Yes, everything's alright." He smiled.

The girl let out a sigh and then smiled widely.

"Cool! I was thinking of going for ice cream? What do you think, guys?" she asked the three of them, receiving a unanimous yes. "Great! Tsuyu-chan wanted to wait for you too, Deku, but she had to pick up her siblings. I'll text her to ask if she's free already, so we can meet up by the ice-cream parlour." She was already texting said girl. Iida agreed and said something about having recreational time with classmates would strengthen their bonds and Kirishima laughed, saying that next time they should totally invite more of their class.

"Maybe we can even plan a trip to the mall next time!" he proposed.

They agreed.

Izuku laughed too and joked with them, feeling lighter than ever.


Both teachers saw him go and when the door was closed, the silence stretched a bit longer. Outside the office they could hear the muffled voices of more students, then they faded out as the students left.

As usual, it was Nedzu who spoke first.

"You've got quite an interesting classroom this year, don't you think?" he asked, standing up and walking to the window, crossing his arms behind his back.

"Noisy and troublesome I'd say," Aizawa grumbled, but he didn't really mean it and the principal knew that. "Do you think All Might is going to choose him instead of Togata?" he asked out of curiosity, but his intuition already gave him the answer the day after the fighting trial incident.

Nedzu took his sweet time before answering, enjoying the view from his office.

"He will, in due time," he answered. His answer was straight to the point, leaving no doubts, but he knew more. Something not even Aizawa knew.

Aizawa sighed and scratched his head, messing up his already tangled hair. He knew that with all the coincidences, this year was going to be eventful and that stressed him out. He already had a busy, complicated life, he didn't need more.

"Can I ask you one more favour, Aizawa-kun?" the principal asked. He hummed in response. "I know it's early to start parent-teacher appointments, but I'd like you to call for Bakugou Katsuki-kun's parents, hopefully between this week and the next?" He asked the question nicely, too nicely.

It was going to be a pain in the ass, wasn't it?

"What about Todokori? I thought you wanted me to handle him too." He raised a brow.

Nedzu's face was unreadable as always.

"I'll take care of Endeavour in the meantime," was his only answer.

Aizawa looked at him and then simply nodded, feeling tired. But he had no time to rest, since his off-hours student was probably already waiting for him in the training grounds, hopefully warming up like Aizawa was always telling him to do and not lazing around, watching who knows what cat video now.


The conversation Izuku had with his mother that night went a bit better than expected. She cried a bit, so he cried a bit too, but she was truthfully relieved. She could read her son well and she saw trust in his eyes - that was a first.

Yes. UA had been the right choice.

She signed the form and even when she really wanted to have a formal conversation with his homeroom teacher, his silent pleading eyes stopped her.

'Of course he wouldn't tell me not to go,' she huffed, but still smiled. Teenagers.

"Well, you'll have to speak with Yagi-san so you can adjust your training with him to this new schedule," she said shaking off her apron invisible dust particles, "who, by the way, is late," she remarked nonchalantly, summoning Kuro-chan to help her clean the table of pencils and papers and put a light blue tablecloth and the proper silverware for dinner while she finished preparing the food.

What?

"What?"

The doorbell rang.

"Can you answer the door, Izuku? I'm a bit busy here," she said, looking for the bowls for the katsudon.

Mouth hanging open, his legs acted on their own and he was in front of the door quickly. Shaking his head, knowing who was going to be on the other side of the door, he took a deep breath and opened it.

"Good evening, my boy," Toshinori greeted with a side smile that was a bit too tight.

He, the great All Might, Symbol of Peace, was nervous.

But who could blame him? His life had been revolving around heroing for so long that he was off practice with all this 'being a normal person' even for just one night.

"Yagi-san! Please come in," Izuku said, inviting him to his home.

Excusing himself, he entered the Midoriya household after taking his shoes off and putting white slippers left for visits, he looked at every detail with intense curiosity. Of course, the first thing that captured his attention was the little All Might plate with Izuku's name on it that was hanging on a door, obviously the boy's bedroom. He fought a blush, feeling a bit awkward but quickly, a bit guilty.

The wonderful smell from the kitchen distracted him enough to forget his negative thoughts.

"Welcome to our house, Yagi-san." Inko appeared from the kitchen, cleaning her hands with a worn cloth. "You can hand me your coat, so you're more comfortable," she offered, extending her right arm.

"Let me do it, mom." Izuku intervened a bit hastily, his smile suddenly forced.

The boy let his eyes wander for just a second, but it was enough to alert Toshinori. Discreetly, he followed the boy's gaze and even though he didn't saw anything weird, he noticed that there was a glass over the table that just moved without anyone touching it.

He said nothing about it.

"Sorry for intruding. Thank you for having me tonight," the blond handed his navy blue coat to Izuku, who took it and went to the house entrance and hung it on the perch. "I took the liberty to bring a little something for dessert." He lifted a pretty box he had with him, which had the logo of a bakery none of them knew.

"Oh, you didn't have to," Inko said a bit surprised, but Toshinori was going to be a good guest and thought it was a nice gesture to start with the right foot, "Izuku, could you put it in the fridge, please? Please take a seat, Yagi-san, dinner is ready." The boy nodded and took the box, noticing a strawberry pattern where there was no logo on it.

Toshinori did as he was told and went to the table, which was set for three. Careful not to look too nosy, he looked around and drank in the details of the house. The photographs framed were what gained his attention first; all of them portrayed Izuku at different ages, some with his mother too. He hadn't changed much over the years, same messy unruly hair and same big, bright eyes. Inko, on the other hand, gained weight through the years and her eyes looked wearier, but he didn't think she looked bad at all.

Next to the photos, at least two different posters of All Might were hanging. He felt a bit self-conscious about that, but tried to not show it. They didn't know who he was and, even though he intended to come clean to Izuku at some point, now wasn't the right moment.

Suddenly, he felt something behind him and barely moving his head, he looked behind. Aside from a window, there was nothing there, but he didn't ignore the way the curtains swayed, even when the window was closed and there was no breeze to move it.

"Did you have trouble coming here?" His thoughts were cut off by Inko's small talk.

"Not at all." He stood up and helped her with the bowls, even against her protests. "You have a lovely home, Midoriya-san," he complimented. She chuckled and kept on bringing in food.

"It screams Izuku everywhere, doesn't it?" Her laugh was lighthearted, even though it was pretty clear to him that he wasn't the only one nervous there. All three were. "I can't say I'm not also a fan, though. His spirit is too contagious," she said, looking at the posters of All Might.

He coughed a bit, trying to hide his embarrassment, and quickly took a napkin to clean the traces of blood he already felt dripping from his mouth.

Soon, dinner was served and Izuku returned, having left his school uniform for something more comfortable. The three said thank you for the food and soon, the sound of everyone eating and silverware clanking was all that could be heard from the Midoriya household.

"You're a wonderful cook, Midoriya-san! This is a great katsudon," Toshinori complimented truthfully, noticing how the woman smiled and thanked him while Izuku cast a furtive smile at them.

The rest of dinner time was spent in trivial and light conversation. They mostly talked about Izuku, Inko sharing some cute and embarrassing baby stories that mortified the poor boy. Toshinori told her how they met and how much Izuku had progressed since they started training together. Izuku told them both about his classmates and some of his teachers, emphasizing on how cool it was to have pro-heroes as teachers! Soon, he was rambling about their quirks and his knowledge about their careers, letting the adults share a knowing look.

Izuku told them about his evening in the ice-cream parlour. Inko asked a bit about his new friends and Toshinori, having to feign ignorance about the children, did the same. He told them about Uraraka's favourite ice-cream flavour, about Iida gushing about his brother Ingenium after he appeared on the heroes channel last night, about Kirishima almost taking his shirt off at the store to prove how manly he was (he mistook one of Tsuyu's comments) and about knowing that Tsuyu had two younger siblings, both frog-like just like her.

"Uraraka-san made her promise that she's going to invite us to her house one day," he said excitedly, hands full of empty bowls that belonged in the sink.

"You should invite them here too, Izuku. I'd love to meet your friends," Toshinori silently agreed.

Although his time with Izuku was always limited to mornings, during those months previous to the entrance exam he noticed that Izuku hardly spoke about friends. It always either about him, his mother or the heroes he worshiped, but never about children his age. He knew that some kids were just shy or simply didn't fit easily, but after everything he'd lived with Izuku as Toshinori and as All Might, he concluded that Izuku didn't have friends at all during middle school.

Because of that, he didn't miss the spark in his eyes when he talked about his classmates nor the spark in his mother's eyes too.

'It's hard to be a parent,' he concluded.

"Thank you for bringing this, Yagi-san." Inko handed everyone the dessert, which was a strawberry cake. She also boiled water and offered tea, which he respectfully accepted.   

"Hmm! It's really good!" Izuku had to stop himself from talking with his mouth full and swallow before speaking. It was going to be hard to not wolf the cake down in seconds.

Inko agreed, resting one hand on her cheek in delight.

"I'm happy you like it. A friend of mine recommended me this bakery." Naomasa had been the one doing it, confessing that sometimes he'd stop by and buy a small cake just for him when he had a bad day at work.

"Thank him for us, please," the woman said, adding a cube of sugar to her tea.

They fell into a comfortable silence, which was carefully broken by Inko.

"Pardon me for intruding, but what do you do, Yagi-san?" She didn't mean to pry, but was also wanted to know her son's friend and thought it wasn't much of a problem to ask for his job.

Izuku choked on his last piece of cake.

"M-Mooom—" He tried to keep his voice even, but his anxiousness was showing.

"Don't worry, my boy, it's not a problem at all." He tried to keep his cool, having already predicted that in some point of the dinner that question, among others, would raise. "You see, Midoriya-san, I w—!"

It was really unfortunate that he had a coughing fit at that exact moment, and a pretty rough one, too.

"Yagi-san!" Izuku rushed to his side, taking out a thin handkerchief from his pocket and lending it to him. He'd be a bit abashed to admit, but he started to cultivate that habit after the first time he saw Toshinori's coughing fits.

"Y-Yagi-san!" She was baffled and, to be honest, a bit scared at the sight of blood. "Do I need to call an ambulance, Izuku?" she fretted, standing up and already going to the phone.

In between coughs and chokes, Toshinori tried to ask her not to do it, that it wasn't necessary. It was hard and mostly unintelligible, but Izuku understood and told her to not to, that he was going to be alright.

The coughing fit lasted for no more than thirty seconds, but it exhausted the man much more than he wanted.

"Take," a glass of fresh water was in front of him, handed by Inko, "are you sure that you're okay? We have a neighbor who is a nurse, if you need one," she offered, a bit pale.

Toshinori refused as gently as he could, feeling bad for scaring the woman.

He thanked for the water and drank it in one long chug. Using Izuku's handkerchief, he cleaned the blood that dirtied his mouth and with a soft, raspy voice, he told them that he was fine.

"I'm very sorry for this, Midoriya-san," he apologized again, negative feelings hovering again inside him.

"Don't be," she felt guilty, even if wasn't her fault at all. It was bad timing, nothing more, but that didn't make her feel any better.

"Yagi-san has this coughing fits from time to time, mom," Izuku clarified, taking her hand in his and caressing the back of it with his thumb.

"Young Izuku is right. I apologize for not warning you beforehand." With the increasing frequency of them, the chances of suffering them during the dinner were so high that he should have been sensible enough to warn her about it.

He cleared his throat, tasting the blood.

"I used to work in the hero business, but due to my health, I'm in process of retiring." He tried to keep the details vague, but true enough to not awake any more questions.

As expected, Inko saddened at that.

"That's... I'm sorry to hear that, Yagi-san." She really had a good heart, just like her son.

He shook his head and smiled his practiced smile. Not too wide and soft; it looked sincere, even when he didn't feel it.

"You don't have to. Occupational hazards." He tried to joke.

It didn't work.

Worst of all, he noticed Inko eyeing Izuku worriedly.

Fuck.

"Even though I'm retiring from my more active job, I'm already accepted in a new, less demanding one. One fit for my health," he took a sip of his tea, savouring its strong flavour. That was some good tea.

"That's a relief." She did the same and Izuku let out an inaudible sigh — crisis averted.

After that, they talked a bit more. Toshinori inquired about her own job and they let a trivial chat drown the bad moment from before. Just before leaving, Izuku remembered that he skipped his night routine and the adults laughed, noticing his priorities.

"You're excused, my boy." Toshinori ruffled his hair.

"Thank you for coming tonight, Yagi-san," Inko said giving him his coat from the perch. "I hope everything was to your taste."

"I'm the one thanking you, Midoriya-san. Everything was a delight, especially the company," he said smiling, forgetting how much he disliked his own looks, even his smile. He was too content to care about that. "Well, have a good night. See you tomorrow, my boy?" He meant to say it, but it sounded more like a question than a statement.

Izuku nodded, energetic.

"Not a minute late, Yagi-san."

They exchanged 'good night's and Toshinori left.

With the help of the black ghosts, Izuku and his mother cleaned everything in no time. Soon, they wished each other a good sleep and Izuku hugged her, thanking her for everything.

With his pajamas on, he went to sleep while going over his day. With those thoughts on mind and a quiet smile, he drifted off, enjoying one of those rare nights where his insomnia let him rest and dream peacefully for almost a full seven hours.

Chapter Text

"Okay, one more time," Aizawa instructed, taking new metal bucket half full with white powder.

Nodding tiredly, Izuku concentrated once again and with a deep breath, he tried to summon Yūrei. Within thirty seconds, the ghost straightened to his full height, wings tucked under his back and his head directed towards Aizawa.

"There." 

The teacher threw the bucketful of white powder where Izuku pointed and suddenly, Yūrei was partially covered and, thanks to that, decently visible.

It had been Izuku's idea when the training started, almost three weeks ago. Even though his teacher had been capable of seeing the ghost for a split second during the pitch exercise, every time they tried during that first session to make him visible again was useless. He had tried everything, mimicked that day, trying consciously to make him visible, but to no avail. So finally, after forty-five minutes of frustration, he suggested to just paint him or something and it was actually not such a stupid idea.

They took the white powder that the gymnastics team used. It was as easy as dropping it over Yūrei, and Aizawa finally took a good look at this 'looming shadow' for the first time.

It wasn't anything like he'd imagined.

Even though they had used a full bucket that time, the ghost was so tall that it wasn't enough to completely cover it. Still, it was visible enough for Aizawa to see certain details, including his lack of a full head, and even when he was good at hiding it, the sight made him cringe.

There was something... dark, almost grim in the ghost. So opposite to the boy in front of him.

It felt wrong.

He took a minute to examine the creature, from his not-head to the large wings. He was taller than Izuku and himself, which was saying something considering that Aizawa wasn't exactly small. His frame was thin, but had broad shoulders, and his wings seemed large enough to let him not only fly, but carry at least one person. He paid special attention to his claws and immediately wondered how deadly they were. He asked permission to touch him and it was unnerving to be actually able to touch, even when he wasn't capable of seeing it without the powder. Izuku had warned him beforehand that the ghost itself wasn't intangible, just invisible, but it was upsetting anyways.

During his examination, the ghost was completely still. Aizawa wouldn't admit it, but he felt on edge the first time with that thing in front of him. He had seen many different quirks, as a pro-hero and as a teacher, and he had to say that this wasn't the weirdest quirk he had seen, but it was still on his top 5 of the most unnerving quirks. And he hadn't even started testing it yet.

That time, Yūrei disappeared after he activated his own quirk. It was quite fascinating to see the powder fall over the floor as if the ghost hadn't existed in the first place, but at the same time, it was reassuring that his quirk affected the ghost as much as any other non-mutant quirk. It was a reminder that the ghost was just the product of a quirk, not a living nightmare.

After that first time, Aizawa had seen and even fought Yūrei several times. Sometimes they used the powder to make him visible, but other days the whole training was about him staying invisible and Aizawa tried to locate him with his other senses, which was surprisingly easy when he knew what he was looking for. He wanted to try everything before jumping into the creative uses of the ghost, for he wanted to be prepared beforehand for anything and everything that might happen.

After every new session, Izuku wrote down everything in his personal notebooks. He was starting the fifth and he had to admit that this extra training with his homeroom teacher was surpassing his expectations. His learning curve had exponentially grown since the second session and he was really excited about that, chatting endlessly with his mother, who was just as excited as him for every new discovery.

Izuku was smart, resourceful. Without a quirk of his own for most of his life, he had to sharpen his intellect in order to achieve his dreams. That and his unending determination let him learn enough of his quirk on his own, but what he lacked was experience and that made Aizawa a great teacher. The sleepy man was extremely intelligent and had a great deal of experience, especially with not-combative quirks like his own, which made him highly creative in quirk usage and made Izuku discover some new things.

They tested the basics, like the physical limitations of Yūrei, trying to extend what Izuku had already discovered, and it proved to be as astonishing as it was scary. Izuku knew Yūrei was strong, but with Aizawa instructing him he could command him properly and against mannequins, his raw force was enough to reduce them to tiny shreds. Also, he was able to carry him while flying with no problem, but with the added weight of Aizawa, a full grown adult with more muscles than his students thought, he couldn't fly well, just glide. Maybe two students would not be a problem (unless it was Kirishima in his hardened state or Shoji)?

They tested how far he could go from Izuku and, surprisingly, they still hadn't settled a record for it. Every new test achieved a new distance and, for what it seemed, with clear instructions Yūrei could basically go wherever, even when Izuku couldn't see him. At the same time, Izuku's own sense of the location of Yūrei was improving and he could sense him from far away, even though it was faint.

This was insane.

But the coolest thing he learned was not that he could summon him for almost six minutes and a half and re-summon him four times if he over-exerted himself. No, the best thing he had learned was that he could talk through his ghost. For now, it was not very useful, since no one but his mom could see Yūrei so he couldn't use that ability yet, but it was still so cool that he couldn't stop practicing.

It was funny to try on his mom, two days after doing it during training. She had never done it with Kuro-chan, so he gave her the scare of her life. His ear hurt the next day from that scolding.

Worth it.

Of course, his training did not only consist of quirk training. He had also physical training, because without Yūrei, he had to be able to defend himself - and besides, the ghost's fighting ability depended on his own. Aizawa's training was more intense than Toshinori's, especially because he tended to mix it with quirk usage, but he was thankful for Toshinori's job all the same. Without his regime, he'd have been expelled by his teacher by now.

The first day had been hell. Izuku was way beyond exhaustion, but Aizawa kept on pushing, knowing there was no point on going softer if they wanted to see progress.

"Come on, Midoriya, come at me with everything," he commanded, not even falling onto a fighting stance.

Non-verbal commands were easier after the second week and now part of the training was not to speak to Yūrei at all. The ghost did as he was told and flew full speed towards Aizawa. His wings were tucked in to be aerodynamic, so the air wouldn't slow him down, and when he was directly in front of Aizawa he drew back his right arm and brought it down, claws slightly separated so he could do more damage.

However, just a few centimeters before actually hitting the man, he slowed down just a fraction. It was enough for Aizawa to move faster than him and hit him square in the jaw with the metal bucket used to hold the chalk, making him recoil enough to give Aizawa time to attack that same spot with a powerful kick, causing the ghost to dissolve.

The sound of the bucket hitting the floor made Izuku wince.

"Wrong." The annoyance in the word was clear, and the stern look left Izuku's eyes locked on the floor.

The man's steps resonated through the closed gym they were in, elevating the tension. Izuku was dead tired and his biological clock told him that they had finished. He was famished.

"If you're not going to treat this seriously, you can forget about the extra lessons." Izuku looked up so fast that his neck strained and everything blurred for a second, dizziness and exhaustion hitting him hard.

"I-I'm serious!" He meant it, really, but Aizawa's face hadn't changed a bit and it made him hesitate.

"You're stopping the ghost from attacking me. Maybe unconsciously, but I don't care. You need to stop restraining yourself." Aizawa observed the battle closely every time he faced Yūrei instead of Izuku and every time it was the same: the ghost hesitated, even for just a second, showing the boy's own doubts, which by now was unacceptable. "If you're going to be a hero, you must understand that enemies won't second-guess anything. They'll attack given the opportunity and if you keep holding back, you'll keep on dying over and over again."

Izuku knew, he really did.

But how could he attack full force, even during training against someone that was many times more skilled?

He moved to a sitting position, feeling Aizawa's severe look on him.

Since everything that happened, when he had bad nights and couldn't sleep, he always ended up mulling over everything. His immortality was usually his brain's favourite torture topic and, thanks to that, he had been pondering life and death more frequently than a goth music band.

He couldn't die and that was a fact. He hadn't died again after the fighting trial incident, but that didn't stop his brain from making imaginary scenarios - not only with himself, but with the people he knew, too.

He was immortal, but the others weren't. And that was what was eating him alive more than his own condition, unlike before.

He promised his mom he'd value his life, but he started to value his friends' lives more intently and sometimes, the worry was so much that it made him sick. What would happen if he momentarily forgot about that not everyone could come back from death and got too careless, too reckless, and someone died under his care, while fighting alongside with him...?

Would he be able to live with that regret?

"Put your priorities in order, Midoriya, or else I won't keep this going." He knew Aizawa didn't mean to be a jerk, but he was too tired to process it that way.

So he only nodded and stood up, ignoring the swell of nausea and the bile rising in his throat.

He just wanted to go home and sleep for two days straight.

A sudden weight over his shoulders woke him up and he noticed a dry towel over his head, the fluffy fabric almost covering his eyes. His teacher handed him a bag with a protein bar, a banana and a bottle of water, reminding him that he forgot his under his desk after the last class.

"Remember to eat well or else you'll faint," Aizawa instructed, giving him the bag.

With that, he let the boy go, wobbling a bit but quickly regaining his balance and bidding his teacher goodbye with a shaky wave.

Aizawa sighed, scratching his sweaty neck. He noticed that, for the third session in a row, he had defeated the ghost by attacking its head. After the first time he had a hunch that it may be a weak spot, but now he was almost certain. Izuku was too tired to notice, but he was sure he'd pick up that detail next session. The boy had a sharp eye and an even sharper mind.

He started to pick up the few pieces of gear they used and hoped the cleaning staff wouldn't mind the powder they were scattering everywhere.

'Three weeks in, and we're still not even at the worst part,' he thought, not wanting to get to that just yet.

He was strict and his training was hard. He knew Izuku had a lot of catching up to do and with that quirk of his, he could do amazing things and more. But he had to train it, master it, exploit every aspect of it and the more 'passive' aspect was what he had been dancing around all that time.

He had to do it, but later. They still had time, he was only in his first year as a student. Also, he himself needed time to do it, to muster courage and not feel like he was about to commit the worst crime - no, the worst sin a hero and a teacher could commit.

It was hard to even think about of killing Izuku, even when said boy was, in fact, unable to.

But it was needed, and he wasn't so weak or foolish as to think otherwise.


The therapist's office was one of Izuku's safe havens.

The place was cozy, clearly decorated by a professional since it had the exact elements to make it non-threatening for new patients and welcoming for recurrent patients like Izuku. And there was a tiny detail that it was hard to catch, but after his second session alone, Izuku noticed it and the therapist chuckled and complimented him for paying attention, confessing that most people never even thought of it.

"It's my quirk," the man explained with that easygoing smile that charmed many people, Izuku was sure of it, "my body emits a scent that helps relax people. It's not a flashy quirk, but it's suited for my work field," he added, adding that unfortunately, it was a passive quirk and that he was unable to stop it, only tone it down.

Izuku didn't mind, though.

"It's... weird? No, no... weird is not the word... but you get it?" The man nodded and encouraged Izuku to continue, which he did, "I-I don't know... I'm afraid, you know? It's like it's too good to be true? But mom says that... uh... that it was due and that if I doubt that, she will pinch me." He was fidgeting with his hands, tapping his fingers together nervously.

The therapist was taking notes, his expression seeming kind but not revealing too many emotions. Years as a therapist helped to keep his own emotions at bay, only regulating how strong his relaxing scent was in order to help his patients.

"But I've... I've been sleeping a bit better a-and... hmm..." For someone who has so much to say, Izuku used to not be the most eloquent patient. Even when he was comfortable with his therapist, after many months of sessions, it was still a tad hard for him to accept that someone would listen to him and not get bored, even when he was getting paid for it.

"And you feel happier," the man finished the sentence, reading his mood and helping him convey what was causing the turmoil inside of him. Izuku nodded hesitantly, believing that if he said it out loud it would spoil the charm. "How many hours are you sleeping on average?" the man asked, passing his notes to find his last recording on the matter.

Izuku scratched the back of his head, mentally tracking his average sleep routine.

"Five hours?" Izuku quickly shook his head, muttering new calculations under his breath, "No... um... four, but one more if I get to fall asleep again," he nodded to himself, "but the nightmares are almost gone completely." And that was good. The nightmares tired him out more than the lack of sleep.

The therapist nodded and wrote that down, half smiling at that last comment. Izuku's nightmares were probably the subconscious way his body had of dealing with all of his issues since it was something he couldn't control.

One look at his wristwatch and he noticed the time was up.

"Well Izuku, our time is up for today." He smiled at the boy, who nodded and slumped a bit in the chair.

"Thank you, Kaito-san. See you next Tuesday?" Izuku asked, making slight puppy eyes.

The man nodded, leaving his notepad over his knees.

"Of course. And if you need me before, you can always call me," he offered. He always told that to his clients. Relapses were a bitch, especially since his patients were all teens and teens tended to have the worst relapses.

The boy had the therapist's office number on speed dial and, fortunately, he had only needed to do that once so far.

"I'll walk you out." The blond man stood up and Izuku followed him, taking his backpack with him. "Nice backpack, by the way. It's the first time I noticed the All Might keychain." He pointed it out and Izuku couldn't fight back a smile.

"Thanks! Yagi-san gave it to me." He beamed, showing off the gift proudly.

"That's a great gift," Kaito complimented.

"I know, right?" He looked at it again, tracing with his fingers the red and blue lines adorning the sides of the backpack. "He said to me 'don't worry, young boy! For--!'" Izuku began to imitate him, an ability he started to cultivate while trying to imitate All Might, but halted mid-sentence when a sudden déjà vu hit him while modulating his voice and trying to do the wide and toothy smile that Toshinori so rarely gave, so he treasured so much.

The therapist looked worriedly at the boy, preoccupied with his sudden silence. But Izuku looked more baffled than anything else, so he was about to ask him what happened when his ringtone blasted loudly, startling them both.

"Shoot, I'm sorry for that." He quickly took out said phone and Izuku unintentionally read the name displayed on the screen (it simply said Kei) before the man could reject the call. "My husband," was his explanation, with warmth in his golden eyes and a silly smile on his face, which made Izuku forget his previous state of mind.

"Don't worry. Well, see you next Tuesday, Kaito-san!" He bid Kaito farewell and the blond man wished him a safe trip home, closing the door once Izuku was out of sight.


"Hey, Midoriya! Wanna come and study with us for Mic's test?" Mina asked him after the last class ended, having her own things packed already.

"Yeah, man, we could really use your help too!" Kirishima beamed at the idea of him joining them for the study session. "For now it's just us, Shouji and Satou, but I think Yaoyorozu wanted to help too," he muttered, glancing at said girl, who was speaking with Jirou about something they couldn't hear over the general chatter.

Izuku gave them his best apologetic smile, scratching the back of his head.

"I promise I will go next time, but it's Monday and—"

"Oh, yes, you train on Mondays, don't you?" Kirishima asked, and Izuku simply nodded, feeling a bit bad for turning them down.

"Aw, well. But next time you can't ditch us!" Mina quickly regained her spirits and Izuku did too.

He bid the goodbyes to his classmates and went straight to the locker room to change clothes and meet Aizawa in their usual spot. It was pretty empty inside the locker room, just a few other students that were already leaving. He recognized one he saw almost every Monday, a raven-haired guy with long, elf-like ears, but as always the boy shied away before anyone could look at him for more than two seconds.

He shrugged and changed his uniform, taking his stuff with him. The lockers closed before he finished his training, so he always had to carry with everything.

When the boy arrived at the training grounds, Aizawa was already there, but someone else he didn't know was with him. It appeared to be another student, since they both shared the same PE uniform, and it was quite impressive how he and his teacher had the same tired eyes. Were they related?

When Izuku was within sight, the taller boy eyed him lazily and, after a couple of seconds, a bit of recognition sparked in his eyes. After that, he immediately frowned, and Izuku was taken aback.

Did he know him?

"Just in time, Midoriya," Aizawa greeted him, and the boy next to him stiffened.

"Sensei... who is with you?" It was obvious they were going to be formally introduced, but he couldn't stop himself from asking and, by the other's annoyed look, he should not have asked at all.

Why did this boy look so mad at him?

"This is Shinsou Hitoshi, my other student." Oh, so that's Aizawa's mysterious other student. "He's a student at the general education department."

So that's why Izuku had never seen him. The different departments at UA didn't share the same schedules, so aside from class 1-B, he didn't really know students from other departments. The guy's appearance was too distinctive (but at the same time, he had the feeling that he was good at melting into the background for some reason) for him to have never noticed him, even once in the hallways.

"Shinsou, this is Midoriya Izuku from the heroes department," Aizawa introduced him, and Izuku smiled at the other boy.

"It's so good to know some of Aizawa-sensei's other students." His voice was cheerful, but the other boy didn't do anything but glower at him.

This exchange wasn't overlooked by Aizawa, but he didn't comment anything. He knew why Shinsou was acting roughly towards Izuku (aside from the fact that the boy didn't socialize in his daily life), but it wasn't his place to say anything. So he just went inside the gym and both students followed him, keeping their distance.

Inside, the place was free from any gear usually used. Izuku couldn't see any bucket filled with powder, so it was safe to say that Yūrei was going to remain invisible for the session. He eyed the other guy, noticing that Shinsou was doing everything he could to ignore his presence, which made his doubts grow about what he could possibly have done.

"Today, you're going to train together." That in itself was pretty obvious— until then, Aizawa had kept both of their training programs isolated, so without a good, logical reason, there wasn't any reason for the two boys to meet. "I'm going to be the judge, so I'll explain the rules." He took a stopwatch from his pocket, holding it up and showing it to the two.

"I'll give you fifteen minutes to warm up as you see fit. Then, you're going to fight against each other, but until I give the signal, quirks are forbidden," he instructed, both boys nodding at the same time. "Neither of you knows the other's quirk, so there's no advantage for either of you in that matter. For what I deem, you're both physically capable of face each other, so there's no limitation aside from the quirk restriction. Understood?"

"Yes, sensei," they said simultaneously, Izuku with a strong resolution and Shinsou as well, but masked under a dragging and monotonous voice.

After that and without any warning, the time started. Both students understood it immediately, this being similar to what happened during the entrance exam, so, going to opposite sides, they began their warm-up.

They both had decided that they would concentrate not only on themselves but also on the other during the training. So naturally, within the first minute, they were already spying on each other while warming up, noticing immediately the differences between their warm-up sequences, which led to the quick drawing of conclusions about the other's fighting style. Shinsou noticed immediately how Izuku was fitter than him and looked pretty flexible and light on his feet, which was an important detail; the guy was probably fast, maybe even acrobatic. On the other hand, Izuku noticed that Shinsou had a better balance overall and was more toned than him, so probably his punches were stronger than his. Furthermore, even when he looked tired as hell, he caught Izuku while spying, so he immediately wrote that he had to be careful; the guy was deceiving, and that wasn't even factoring in his quirk.

Too soon, the fifteen minutes ended. Under Aizawa's instruction, they both took their places, facing each other. Even when they tried to look prepared, inside both were asphyxiating with nervousness, not knowing what they were about to face.

With the almost inaudible sound of the stopwatch starting, Izuku was the first to attack.

From the very first moment, Shinsou noticed his deductions were right. Izuku was fast and since he was smaller and leaner than him, he'd have to be careful with his calculations. He knew better than to underestimate someone from the heroics department, but he was confident about his abilities and was already reading Izuku's body before throwing the counterattack.

Too bad that Izuku was even better at that.

The first attack was a ploy, meant to start his analysis of Shinsou. He had never seen him fight and he had no idea what his quirk was, so this wasn't anything like his fight with Bakugou. His suspicion about the other boy's quick thinking wasn't wrong; the way his eyes scanned at him was pretty much like Aizawa looked at others, even if it was unpolished.

He had to be careful.

Startled by Izuku's immediate counterattack, Shinsou stumbled back a few steps but quickly regained his balance. With not a second to waste, he threw himself over Izuku and soon, Aizawa's eyes were following each boy carefully, noticing their skills and their flaws.

Aizawa noticed Izuku's natural ability for close ranged fights. He had the basics pretty much mastered, and teaching him was easier than teaching Shinsou. The freckled boy was a fast learner and, with that, Aizawa soon understood which fighting style would suit him more, especially when complementing it with Yūrei. Even when they'd trained for a considerably shorter time than with Shinsou, he could easily say that Izuku was going to surpass the other boy in no time, at least in terms of fighting skills.

But Shinsou wasn't losing easily, either. The boy might have had a harder time learning how to fight, having none of the basics mastered before unlike Izuku, but practice always defeated untrained talent, and he had been under Aizawa's mentoring for a much longer time. His efforts were showing. His height and strength compensated for his lack of acrobatic skill and, after fighting many times against Aizawa, he had a good grip on strategy when facing a creative fighter like Izuku.

"Not bad for a quirkless fight," Shinsou said after blocking a punch directed at his face, crossing both arms in front of him and pushing Izuku with enough strength to almost throw him off balance and catch him by the neck of his shirt, but missing.

"You're impressive, Shinsou-kun," Izuku complimented, dodging when the other threw a deceiving punch, only to attempt to hit Izuku's leg so he could kick his shins and make him fall. He usually didn't talk when he fought Aizawa, so he didn't notice until now how his breaths became shorter and more erratic after talking.

"You don't say," Shinsou shot back, his tone containing a drop of venom, which Izuku could not understand to save his life. "Did you think that just because I'm in the general department, I wouldn't be able to fight you?" That was a taunt, but Izuku thought he noticed an angry note hidden there.

"What? No! Why would I—" He was forced to interrupt himself to duck, but his distraction was enough to let Shinsou put himself next to Izuku, take his arm, and twist it painfully.

"Don't you dare mock me." He put maybe a bit more strength than necessary into the twisting, but he couldn't care. "You guys from the heroics department think so highly of yourselves. You don't know how blessed you were in life, unlike... others." The pacing of Shinsou's words was off, heavy pants following his sentences, but Izuku immediately noticed that he had better breathing control than Izuku, because he couldn't even muster anything but a crackling hiss of pain.

'Unlike me.' It was implied, but Aizawa heard it loud and clear.

Izuku had to focus on freeing his arm, Shinsou pressing constantly to keep him immobile. With a bit of struggle, he finally did it, twisting himself around and trying to grab Shinsou, only to miss at the last moment.

"I bet your quirk is one of those flashy, impressive quirks everybody loves," Shinsou said, waiting for Izuku to move first. He took a deep breath and with his free arm he lazily cleaned off the sweat under his chin. "You knew from the tender age of four or so that you'd be a hero, with that quirk of yours. And no one told you otherwise, wasn't it like that?" For an opponent, Shinsou was pretty chatty, but it was starting to get on Izuku's nerves and while this still was just training, he was starting to get ticked off.

They weren't sure how much time passed after they started to fight, too into the kicks, punches, jumps and the conversation they were having: a bitter Shinsou dumping his own frustrations on Izuku and Izuku losing his cool with each new accusation. After some undetermined amount of time, Aizawa blew a whistle and they both understood that he was lifting the quirk prohibition.

Yūrei appeared behind Izuku immediately, ready to fight.

"And now what? Are you going to crush me with your oh-so-powerful quirk?" Izuku couldn't believe this guy. What was all this resentment? Why him? He had done nothing to him. "What is it? Super strength? Elemental manipulation? Don't tell me, let me guess." His smirk was cynical, but not like Bakugou's. It was not cruel, but sour.

"What's your pro—" Izuku began, quickly formulating Yūrei's instruction in his mind.

Everything came to a halt.

Yūrei didn't move, feet barely touching the ground. Izuku's mind was totally blank, but not like anything he had felt before. He was in a dark space, disconnected from the world and stalked by an ominous presence. His body didn't react - it was as if he was trapped within his own mind, and no amount of screams changed anything. Even commanding Yūrei was impossible, and even when he knew the ghost was there, near him, he couldn't reach him.

"This is your loss," the ominous presence said, echoing everywhere. "Surrender now." And against his will, he heard his own voice leaving his throat, obeying those orders.

"I surrender."

And with that, he was freed from that terrible cage and he fell to his knees.

Yūrei was still there, still unmoving.

What just happened?

"W-wh... what?" he mumbled, too dazed to react properly.

"You lost, Midoriya," was Aizawa's verdict. Shinsou was rubbing his sore wrist, the one with the hand he used to restrain Izuku. It may need some ice later.

"I lost?" he repeated, dumbfounded. He couldn't remember much about the last few minutes, so nothing made sense.

They were fighting, the whistle rang out and then...

Not much.

"You can draw your own conclusions, but the training is not over, so don't get too comfortable," he said looking at Shinsou too, who groaned but said nothing. "Up, you have five minutes to analyze the previous match and you'll fight again. Same rules."

Izuku hesitated for a second, then nodded. He looked at Shinsou, who glared back at him defiantly.

This was far from over.


Next day at school, he felt a bit humiliated when more than one classmate asked him how he got a black eye.

"Training," was his only answer, but his pout screamed ‘sore loser’ and, after a couple of mocks by Kaminari, Mineta and Sero (all in good will, of course; well, maybe not Mineta's), they stopped asking.

After that first match, it hadn't been hard to realize what Shinsou's quirk was, at least in general terms. The match began again and during the no-quirk time, their chatting was less than before, but still happened. So when the whistle was blown again and Shinsou said something that bothered him, the expectation in his eyes (that was the only thing that gave him away, for his face was unmoving) made him realize that the way he used his quirk was after someone answered him.

Trying to not give away his discovery, he played the fool. He didn't answer, feigning concentration. Instead, he quickly used Yūrei to attack, the ghost mirroring every one of his actions, sandwiching Shinsou between them. 

The poor guy had three long gashes from one shoulder to the other, not too deep because, of course, Izuku restrained himself and Yūrei couldn't attack properly and Shinsou moved out of the way before bleeding too profoundly. That match ended there and Aizawa looked the wound, deeming that it wasn't bad so they could do a final match (the stern look he gave Izuku told him that he wasn't mad for injuring the other, but knew he had stopped himself again and didn't approved that).

So they did. And by that time, Izuku was pretty sure that his lack of memory from the end of the first match and the need of Shinsou for a verbal answer was tied to a mind related quirk of some sort. He had wanted to confirm his theories, so after practicing a bit with Yūrei (their coordination was a bit off, honestly), having to verbally command him only once (but Shinsou noticed it), he answered the other boy after one particular question (half on purpose, half not) and let his quirk act.

Of course, it had to be a brainwashing quirk. And Shinsou ended the last match there, making Izuku punch himself in the eye like an idiot.

It was petty on Shinsou's part, but Izuku gave him the opportunity to do it. It was, by all means, his fault.

He still felt stupid, though.

Worst of all, he had late training with Toshinori (who actually got a proper answer and couldn't stop himself from laughing about the whole thing; again, that boisterous laugh left Izuku with a slight sense of déjà vu that he couldn't understand, but quickly ended when a rough coughing fit made the man stop) and couldn't go to Recovery Girl's office, so black eye it was.

After pondering his fights with Shinsou all morning, eyeing his notebook where he even sketched roughly the other's calculating look (he scribbled isn't a brainwash quirk a bit unfair? but crossed it out soon, not wanting to judge), not paying attention to his classes at all, wondering why the other seemed to have a particular dislike towards him even when they just met, the apparition of Aizawa when it was actually All Might's class snapped him from his deliberations.

"Okay class, for today's foundational skill of heroics we'll have another teacher present, aside from All Might and myself." That piqued everyone's attention, it being Sero who asked what this activity was. "Today you'll be the hero everyone needs." Expectation buzzed in the air.

"Today will be the rescue trial!"

To say that the whole class was excited was an understatement.

To say that nobody could have even imagined what was about to happen was an understatement too.

Chapter Text

Hizashi Yamada was having a pretty crappy day.

First of all, his alarm didn't sound, fucking Shouta had to stay late at UA for some goddamn reason and preferred to sleep on his yellow sleeping bag in the teacher's lounge, so he didn't wake him up like he usually did. After that, he noticed they were out of cat food, so he had to open a tuna can to feed their tabby cat that was meowing loudly in protest, even when Hizashi knew the neighbour lady also gave her food so she was hardly starving.

'Is this how Shouta feels when I shout?' he asked himself, hating the cat a bit and thanking the heavens that she shut up the moment she had the tuna on her plate.

Their coffee machine was broken too, so he had to survive the whole morning on sheer self-hatred and desperation for some caffeine. He remembered too late he forgot 2-B's quizzes over the night table and was mulling over what the hell he was going to say, but when he arrived at said classroom, Midnight was already there and he was reminded he had no classes until after lunch.

So now he was alone in the teacher's lounge, using Shouta's sleeping bag and waiting for his coffee to not be hellishly hot, so he could drink it and revive.

Not so Present that day, was he?

12:13 [To: Shouta ♡] why u made me so cafeine dependant i hate u so much eraseeer

12:16 [From: Shouta ♡] can't answer, bout to get to class

The corners of his mouth twitched up as he tried not to smile at the other man's answer, imagining him walking towards the classroom with one eye on the phone and another on the hallway.

12:17 [To: Shouta ♡] LIES ! UR ANSWERING

12:17 [To: Shouta ♡] i thought u lovED ME

12:18 [To: Shouta ♡] if u excusr me ill be cryin in da cornet

12:18 [To: Shouta ♡] corner*

He was sure Shouta was probably rolling his eyes, muttering something under his breath, but the 'typing...' under his name always appeared after a few minutes, so he only bit down a chuckle at the mental image and waited for the answer.

12:20 [From: Shouta ♡] if i promise to buy you those diabetes-inducing drinks after usj, will you stop

12:20 [From: Shouta ♡] ?

That got a real reaction, making him sit down on the sleeping bag and actually smile for the first time that day.

12:21 [To: Shouta ♡] !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! :D :D

12:21 [To: Shouta ♡] i never doubtd ur love, not even for a second

12:22 [To: Shouta ♡] good luck in usj, try not to expel anyone this time, say hi to 13 from me!!!!

Hizashi searched for a cat meme to send Shouta, knowing how much the other liked them even if he never said it out loud. Damn, he even had a folder in his phone full of ridiculously cute cat memes for the man by now. But every smile he received, even those little tugs on the corner of his mouth, made it worth it-- it didn't matter his phone's memory was full of cats and unauthorized photos he liked to snap now and then. He wouldn't change it for anything.

After he regained his humor and his coffee cooled to a tolerable temperature, he drank a long gulp of coffee and sighed in content. He really needed that.

"Aaah... now that my soul has returned to my body, maybe I should finish preparing my show for this Friday." Not so moody anymore, he looked for his messenger bag and took out the folder he used to store his notes and the songs he chose for his radio show. He didn't have anything to grade or any tests to prepare, so he wanted to keep cheering himself up and his job at the radio always worked. "I do really hope Shouta doesn't expel anyone this year. Angry parents are the worst." He laughed at himself awkwardly, remembering those furious parents from last year.

Drinking a bit more of coffee, he stretched his sore muscles, took out his notes and started to work.

It was a shame all that work would be tossed into the trash a few hours later-- for the first time since the airing of the show, he wouldn't be able to do it on that week's Friday.


The USJ facility was amazing. The place was colossal and had multiple different disaster zones to work with. Thirteen, one of the eminences in the rescuing field, was there waiting for class 1-A just by the entrance, full teaching mode and ready to see what this new generation was capable of.

Tenya was excited, to say the least. During the ride towards the facility, everybody wondered about how the tasks were going to be and what challenges were waiting for them. They were already speculating about whose quirk was more suited for a rescuing job and after much debating, everyone decided that top two rescuing quirks were Uraraka's for obvious reasons and Yaoyorozu's for the versatility, closely followed by Mina's for its local area of dissolving and Asui's if they pictured a watery scenery.

Unable to restrain himself, Tenya participated passionately in the debate. Every once in a while he'd scold someone for misbehaving during the ride, especially emphasizing the importance of the proper use of seat belts while they were in motion. When they arrived, he gaped at the size of the building and he was thrilled when they spotted the unmistakable 'Space Hero' Thirteen (but it was a pretty obvious choice if they were talking about a Trial of Rescue, now that he thought about it).

When Thirteen began their explanation, with some side clarifications from Aizawa, the tall boy was paying full attention, not before noticing that none of his classmates were left behind. He was taking mental notes on everything, noticing how the activity was going to be highly educational for everyone and wanting nothing more to go and do his best.

It was easy to think that a Pro Hero's work revolved around beating the bad guys, but Tenya knew better and it was all thanks to his personal hero and role model: 'Turbo Hero' Ingenium, his older brother, Iida Tensei. His interest in being a hero came from how much he admired his brother and his aspirations to be just like him, a cool hero that could help others in need. Thanks to that and even when he wasn't such an hero-otaku like Midoriya, he knew plenty about the Pro Heroes' world and, thanks to that, he was thrilled for the Trial of Rescue.

In the back of his mind, but no less important, he couldn't forget his shameful actions during the entrance exam. The way he escaped from danger when Uraraka was in need of help, following what he thought was right in that moment and failing to stand by the true spirit of a hero's job mortified him more than he wanted to admit. It was admirable how Midoriya went directly to the robot and helped Uraraka and after meditating about that day, he knew that his brother would have never acted the way he did.

So, he was ready to redeem his actions. He was going to prove to himself that he had overcome those disgraceful weaknesses and that he too could be an honorable hero that could work side by side with Ingenium.

He was going to take all the important and valuable lessons Thirteen was giving them to heart, and he'd succeed the Trial of Rescue, hopefully with flying colours.

However, when a big and dark warp hole appeared out of nowhere and several unknown people with ill intentions clear in their faces walked through the space-distorting gate, all his resolutions and promises suddenly clashed with uncertainty and a whole new concept of fear.

Without him knowing it, in an unexpected and stressful context, with his heart gripped with fear, he'd end up completing that exact same goal.


The one who seemed like the leader of the villains was the last to come in, causing a commotion with his shocking appearance. Most of the students took a step back, taken by surprise and failing to react immediately, unlike their teachers.

Thirteen and Aizawa immediately took the lead and tried to do everything to protect their students. Even when some of them had amazing and strong quirks, they were still children under their care and it was their responsibility to protect them. However, after some poor decisions involving the manliness and recklessness of Kirishima and Bakugou, everyone was scattered across the different disaster zones, leaving Izuku with Asui and Mineta in the flood zone, barely safe on the deck of a ship after Asui rescued both of them from a group of villains with water-enhanced quirks.

It was incredible how strong and capable Asui was in her element, her quirk shining in the flood zone, but Izuku had no time to stop and admire his classmate's quirk and to think how she would make a fine hero; they had more pressing matters to care about.

"We are gonna dieee, we're gonna dieee!!" Mineta's panic was not helping anyone, only fueling their own fears, but fortunately the tension enabled both Izuku and Asui to focus properly and Asui slapped the tiny boy with her tongue, shutting him up effectively.

"Mineta, calm down. We're not going to die, but we need to concentrate to get out of here and go back to the exit!" Izuku explained it to him as nicely as he could, trying to calm the boy down with words rather than blows.

Mineta sniffled, but caressed his hurt cheek with his left hand and listened to both, eyeing the villains in the water warily.

"There are too many against us," Asui said, counting the villains that were waiting for them. However, she did not received any answer from Izuku, who was in deep thought, mumbling to himself about their current situation and what they could do to raise victorious. "Midoriya?" she called him.

"HE'S PANICKING!" Mineta shouted, earning a new slap.

"No, I'm not," was his apparently calm answer. Ignoring the shorter boy, he turned to face Asui, who only croaked at this. "Asu-- I mean, Tsuyu. From all the disaster zones in USJ, this was the one which gave you a full advantage, am I right?" he asked, even when he knew the answer, for she said that after Aizawa gave the announcement earlier that day.

"Yes, ribbit. In the fire zone, I'd be--" she halted, comprehension shining in her big eyes, "Oh. They don't know about our quirks."

Izuku nodded.

"Exactly. They must have studied the layout of USJ, otherwise they wouldn't have been here waiting for us. But they'd probably planned to use us only as hostages and didn't prepare to fight us," he explained, trying to down his voice so the villains wouldn't hear him. "There's no other way out here aside from defeating these guys-" Mineta screeched at that, but his cries fell on deaf ears, both classmates too invested in their action plan to actually mind him, "and that's our only true advantage. As-- ahem, Tsuyu, how far can you jump?"

She poked her tongue out, a habit of hers, and described the different uses her quirk had. After that, Izuku asked Mineta how many uses his hair balls had, but after Mineta described it, the three of them knew it was pretty useless for the moment. Mineta was hurt, shameful tears flowing freely while he tried to defend himself, but their calm moment was painfully interrupted when one of the villains used his quirk to split the ship in half.

"MIDORIYAAA!" Mineta cried, desperation filling him once again.

The ship was sinking fast and the villains were done waiting for them to decide how to act. Maybe they didn't know the students' quirks, but they were confident on their own and knew how they could use the environment to strengthen their attacks, so the moment the ship sunk they'd attack and Izuku knew that.

He also knew how they were underestimating them for being first-year students, so he had to take advantage of that too.

"Tsuyu! You must take us out of here!" he told her, voice firm and resolution strong.

"THE MOMENT WE TOUCH WATER WE'RE DONE!" Mineta said, tossing his balls in the water to no effect. "YOU'RE NOT MAKING ANY SENSE, MIDORIYA!" He was a messy crier, tears and snot streaming down his face.

"I know what I'm doing!" Izuku replied, Yūrei already formed and ready to fight.

"Your quirk," Asui said, as collected as always, "you are going to do something with it, don't you? The mysterious presence is back."

"Mysterious presence?" He could not refrain himself from asking, but the same villain from before attacked again, accelerating the ship's descent.

"UWAAAA!!"

He wordlessly commanded his ghost to attack the villains in the water, conveying with everything he had to only disarm them, not to kill them. After his battle with Bakugou, he realized how much his own emotions affected the way the ghost acted during real fights, so he knew he had to stay as calm as he could or else Yūrei could rampage.

'I'm not a killer,' he thought with conviction.

"TSUYU, NOW!"

Taking Mineta with one arm and encircling her tongue around Izuku's waist, she leaped with all her strength, taking them both with her. Izuku didn't tear his eyes from the ghost, expecting him to spread his wings and fly down towards the villains, stopping them effectively and giving them time to escape.

But Yūrei wasn't moving at all, letting the villains swim towards them.

"THEY'RE COMING FOR US!!" In his desperation, Mineta threw more of his balls (a thin trail of blood was falling from his scalp, but panic overshadowed pain), achieving nothing more than angering some of the villains who had a ball stuck on them.

"Yūrei!" Izuku cried, panic rising when the ghost didn't move on his command. The villains were almost reaching them, their chances of even surviving slipping through their fingers.

“YOU WON’T GET AWAY!” one of the villains shouted, followed closely by the rest of them. He had a weird gear covering his head, hiding his face from being seen. It had to be something to enhance his quirk or maybe part of his villain attire.

"YŪREI, ATTACK THEM!" His voice broke on the last word and as he felt his throat sting, he felt an odd pressure on his chest.

Something weird happened then. The villains, swimming full speed towards them, suddenly stopped. They came to a sudden halt, shock painted on their faces, but Izuku didn't notice it -- he was totally focused on commanding the ghost, who by that last order had actually moved and thrown himself towards the nearest villain, dragging him underwater.

If it wasn't for the fact that the flight they were taking due to Asui's powerful leap was interrupted, Izuku would have noticed the water turning a slight pink - or the oncoming attack.

The only villain who wasn't affected by whatever happened to his comrades didn't waste his time. The gear around his head lit up with a light blue hue and opened up a little by the mouth, looking more like a helmet now, and then he opened his mouth to a degree that was definitely not humanly possible. Some kind of shockwaves began to travel through the water, worsening up the waves already created by the attack on the ship and soon, the water moved wildly as if they were in the middle of a hurricane.

Yūrei dragged the villain down, ripping at his throat with his powerful claws, but the damage was done and the three students, already plunged into the water, were quickly ripped away from each other by the powerful current.

While falling, Izuku tried to call Asui, but that made him breathe in water the moment they were underwater. His lungs immediately began burning and the crashing memories of the putrid matter forcing its way into his nostrils, mouth and even ears made him panic, taking in more and more water and causing him to choke quicker than before. His mind was fuzzy and his limbs felt like cement; he was sinking fast and for the love of everything holy, he couldn't swim.

'H-Hel...p...'

He couldn't see Asui or Mineta. Only black dots, quickly increasing in size.

'Hel--'

No...


Todoroki was scary.

Amazing, yes, but scary.

Tooru had already noticed that during the All Might's Battle Trials. She and Ojirou had absolutely no chance against him, defeated like it was less than a child's game, but now she knew he had been containing himself that time.

Them landing together in the landslide zone was a pure accident. She tried to get to him, but the field was coated in villains waiting for whoever crashed there through that creepy mist villain. They were outnumbered by a large margin and that made her shiver, but also a bit excited. She was going to be a hero! She needed to start acting up like one!

But she ended up doing nothing, mostly for two reasons. First, the villains only saw Todoroki. It was obvious-- his feats were too flashy and easily recognizable. Second, Todoroki ended them in an instant.

An. Instant! Even the ones that tried to attack him from behind!

She'd known he was strong, but damn! This was overkill! And the worst of all is that he was all cool about it, with his serious facade; completely calm, as if it was normal for him to defeat real villains on a daily basis.

She was starstruck. Todoroki was all cool, taunting them and making one of the guys give him information. He was the embodiment of a hero. It was unfair for the rest of them.

However, she was pumped. She was ready to do her share and, at least, carry the information he had gained. She clenched her fists, determined to help everyone stop the assassination attempt.

So, when he exited the landslide zone, she followed him closely. By the intel, she had the hunch that they should be heading for the central plaza, but the villains all around the facility soon started to spot them, running towards to attack them. Todoroki wasn't exactly being stealthy (she seriously needed to teach him one or two benefits of stealth), but also didn't need to, since with his cool ice quirk he froze everyone who got near without batting a lash.

Tooru was near him, but not too close in order to avoid getting frozen by accident. She had noticed how her classmate was brilliant in the use of his quirk, but he tended to freeze large swathes of land and she didn't want to be in the way. So, using the advantage of her own quirk, she took a detour as soon as a large number of villains focused on Todoroki and silently she walked away.

She could faintly hear other battles. Her stomach flipped in excitement, wanting to help her classmates and defeat the bad guys, but her mission was also clear. She had to give the information to Aizawa and she was not going to fail!

However, when she had successfully passed through some clumsy villains (how they were even hired? They were too careless and didn't even see her pass right in front of their noses!), she noticed from afar that something weird was going in the flood zone. From her place, she couldn't see much, only faded figures at the distance, but the water was moving in an unnatural way and her gut told her that something bad was happening. She hardly ever ignored her gut.

'What should I do?' she asked herself, looking to the flood zone and the place where she guessed Aizawa was fighting, between the central plaza and the exit. 'I need to tell Aizawa-sensei about All Might, but...' she struggled.

Then, the surface of the water broke and wild waves quickly began to rise, which was odd and definitely the sign of something serious going on.

With a final resolution, knowing the teacher could spare her a few minutes, she dove into the water. She was a relatively good swimmer, having been part of the school team during middle school, so besides a bit of resistance she made her way swiftly through the waves, eyes wide open looking for her classmates.

A bit farther from shore, the waves were wilder. A particularly big wave dragged her underwater, but she wasn't caught off guard so she held her breath and avoided breathing in water. The moment she reached the surface, lungs screaming for oxygen, she spotted something not so far off and sinking quickly.

Taking a deep breath of air the moment her head broke the surface, she dove again and began swimming towards what now she could recognize as a person sinking deeper into the water. While she was out of reach, she saw how the person struggled and tried to swim up, with no results. Bubbles escaped rapidly from his mouth and nose, indicating asphyxia and she swam up faster.

She only recognized Midoriya when he stopped moving.

'Oh, no!'

Tooru swam as fast as she could, taking him with both arms by the armpits. His body was heavy and she felt her own breath leaving through her nose. It took everything in her not to breathe in, and only her determination and desperation made her swim towards the surface. Her desire to save her classmate was a powerful drive and soon, both heads broke the water and she started to pull him with her, swimming towards the nearest shore she saw.

"Mi-dori-y-ya-kun... b-breat-th!" she gasped laboriously, but stopped after swallowing water and choking in the process.

When they arrived at the shore, she ignored the burning pain of exhaustion in her extremities and pulled him out of the water first. Midoriya was like a heavy rag doll and he wasn't moving at all.

He wasn't breathing either.

"R-Resist!" she cried, out of breath, voice breaking in a high pitched note.

Immediately, she began performing CPR, thanking her nurse mother for teaching her that. Her mother had told her that, as a hero, she had to be able to save people in many different ways and she was right. Tooru couldn't believe she was doing it to save a classmate, though.

Springing forward, just after Tooru exhaled two deep breaths into his mouth, Midoriya woke up. His initial reaction was to breathe in deeply, but a coughing fit stopped him from recovering smoothly. Like the last time, the coldness leaving something intangible inside him and the memory backlash made him understand without a doubt that he had drowned, and that in itself made everything worse.

"Oh my god, you're alright!" An unexpected feminine voice startled him and without notice, he was being hugged by some invisible force.

They were both wet, but that didn't stop him from feeling a warm wetness over his shoulder, as if someone was crying on him.

"Don't scare me like that again!" His mushy brain and incoming panic attack didn't let him recognize the voice, but Tooru didn't notice it, too relieved to see him breathing and awake to mind some minor details.

However, with the same suddenness as Tooru, Midoriya hugged her back with desperation, arms tightening around what he could not see, holding her as if she was a lifeline.

"Mi... Midoriya-kun?" Her cheery tone turned to a more worried one, so strong and real for an invisible girl that he could have pictured her knitted brows perfectly if he had been in his right mind.

But he was not. His breathing was erratic, his eyes were unfocused and the only thing grounding him was Tooru. He could not see her, but the way her body emitted warmth and could be held and hugged was so much alike to Yūrei (except for the warmth) that it brought some reality to what he was experiencing. He was alive, he was okay. She was there and he wasn't drowning, he could breathe so why the hell couldn't he do it properly?

"There, there..." he heard her mutter in his ear, a bit hesitantly, in an unexpectedly maternal tone. It was soothing. "I got you, I'm here," she kept saying, one of her gloved hands caressing his back in a reassuring way.

Repeating the same words and rocking them softly, Tooru began to calm Midoriya down. She could feel his hands like claws on her back, but she didn't mind. She heard him mutter in hurried whispers and all she did was answer them like she could understand him, which she couldn't. She pictured herself as Yaoyorozu and tried to project the same confident and maternal aura the taller girl had, thinking that would help Midoriya.

Slowly but surely, the boy's body became heavier. His breathing became slower and less erratic, too, which was good.

Then, she heard a snore.

"Hm?" She moved him softly, expecting a reaction. "Midoriya-kun?" she called, but he just snored back.

At that, she bit back a chuckle.

A minute or two of rest wouldn't kill them. She was dead tired as well. Fortunately, she swam to a place without villains in sight, between the flood and the downpour zone, so there was no immediate danger to them.

Her body was aching all over and her own eyelids felt heavy. She let out a deep sigh and shifted Midoriya to a more comfortable position, forcing herself to stay awake while resting.

Just... one minute.

Chapter Text

It was...  

The heat was suffocating. It was one of those summer days where the humidity was enough to make one feel drenched in sweat even under the shade of a tree and the sun rays were like lasers, searing one's skin painfully.

It was hard to breathe.

...off.

He could see Kacchan at the distance. His back was kind of blurry, but he was definitely there, calling for him. The other kids were waving their arms, shouting his name so he tried to hurry up, get there so they could enjoy one more day of summer vacation exploring and playing like they used to.

He smiled and waved his arm to them, trying to shout that he was there, but he couldn't.

His throat was too full to emit sound.

Why couldn't he speak?

He touched his neck, but nothing seemed to be wrong. He tried to shout again, but a sharp pain made him flinch, his free hand pressing against his chest.

His lungs hurt.

Where was the water coming from?

Desperation filled his tiny body and his legs trembled. The gang was right here, just a few meters away. He ran towards them, trying to breath, to shout, to cry, to wail... anything.

He ran faster and harder, but it was like their figures kept getting farther away.

His vision was getting blurry, it was difficult to focus the images in front of him.

You're not thin--

He could feel someone near him, a warmth that didn't belong to his body. It was near, so close to him, but he couldn't see it.

You're not t--

Where was Kacchan? Where were the rest of the gang? Why couldn't he see them? They were just in front of him!

You're n--

You--

He heard his own voice, distorted by the water filling his ears and rushing into his throat.

"I'm dreaming."

The realization woke him up abruptly, gasping deeply and hitting his head on something hard. Both hands flew directly to the wounded area, applying pressure to subdue the pain.

"Ouch, ouch, ouch!" someone else cried, "You got a hard head, Midoriya-kun." the voice was pained and he looked for the source of it, finding nothing but a weird piece of fabric so out of place that he had to take a minute to actually understand what his eyes were showing him.

It was fabric... floating.

Wait. Were those gloves?

"Hag-Hagakure-san?" The correct thoughts leaked through his mouth even before his own mind could finish processing them, so his inquiry sounded puzzled, confusing even himself.

"This is going to bruise, ngh..." she pouted, nursing her abused chin and feeling a bit self-conscious at the thought of showing a nasty bruise. It was going to be so unpretty.

"I-I'm s-sosorry!" Everything began to fall into place in a couple of seconds, making him ashamed and apologetic for hitting her with his head, but also embarrassed, now understanding that he fell asleep on top of her, which was so inappropriate, especially since they were alone! His face was beet read and it felt awfully hot, so he did the only thing he could think of and he covered it with his arms, too ashamed of his own behaviour to look at her.

Well, figuratively speaking.

Soon enough though, he also remembered where they were and what they were doing.

"Hagakure-san! How long was I out?!" he asked her, dread and fear tinting his words.

Her lack of a visible face was making it hard to know how screwed they were.

"A couple of minutes, I guess?" She didn't even got the chance to get comfortable, but in perspective that was good because they weren't exactly on a picnic.

He sighed in relief.

"Aah... that's good," he mumbled, feeling his heart rate return to a normal level.

"You okay?" Tooru asked. Her voice was lighthearted but inwardly she was actually worried for him-- she had never seem him like that and despite his normal fidgety self, his breakdown was pretty unexpected.

Izuku quickly nodded, maybe too fast to look like a natural response, but soon he stopped and waited a bit, nodding again more calmly.

He... wasn't fine. Barely okay, honestly.

But it was enough for now.

With a steady movement, he stood up, offering her a hand.

"We need to go back to the battlefield," he said solemnly. With a tug, he helped her stand and faced her, using her gloves as a reference.

"Yes! We need to find Aizawa-sensei fast!" she claimed with renewed spirit, pumping her fists into the air while marching outside their hideout and towards the central plaza.

Fortunately, Izuku's reflexes were faster than Tooru and he could stop her on time, yanking her back by the hand.

"Hagakure-san, wait!" It was hard to interact with her in her hero outfit-- her bubbly personality made her shine on normal days, but with nothing but gloves and shoes to follow, no amount of it would help him localize her. Was this how Aizawa and Shinsou felt when they fought against Yūrei? "We can't rush our way there!"

Tooru watched him closely, alternating her gaze between Izuku and the battlefield. He looked urgent, but also serious and then, and only then, she recognized that mysterious spark that shone in his eyes that convinced her-- he knew what to do.

Understanding her silence, he continued, swallowing a bit to ease the memory of a burned throat and a sharp pain in his lungs.

"Numbers and the surprise factors are our main strengths now. And if I'm not wrong, this villains relay too much on their quirks and are overconfident of their abilities. We can't lose that," he explained, earning a nod (which he couldn't see) from Tooru. "I have a plan and I need your help with it."

She clenched her fists and with that simple gesture, Izuku could see her determination.

"Alright. I'm on it!" He smiled at that, thankful for her trust. "What are we going to do, Midoriya-kun?" His smile changed slightly, exuding a confidence that she had never seen before and that was unthinkable from the poor guy she had to drag out of the water.

"We'll start by enhancing one of our strengths." He looked at his right and she followed his gaze. The heavy rain couldn't be heard from the outside, but if the name of the zone hinted anything, they were going to get soaked again.

She didn't get the whole plan, but a general scheme.

Her invisible smile was hyped.

"We will increase our numbers."


Kouda and Tokoyami found each other by chance.

It was pouring down so heavily it was hard to see. It was a cold rain that made Tokoyami shiver uncontrollably, even with his feathers puffed out in order to keep himself as warm as possible. So meeting with Kouda, who was being silent even under those extreme weather conditions, was a miracle in itself.

Unfortunately for his classmate, this disaster zone didn't let Kouda use his quirk at all. He was out of animals to call and even if he had any, the heavy rain wouldn't let them hear his voice. So, in quirk terms, Tokoyami was basically on his own -- and that was precisely the problem.

The horde of villains waiting for them wasn't exactly what someone could call strong. They had fitting quirks for the zone they were in, yes, but their number was mostly their only advantage.

That, and Dark Shadow.

"Kouda! Hide! Quick!" Tokoyami cried, not wanting to risk his classmate's safety or his own sanity in the process.

The poor guy seemed conflicted to do so, but Tokoyami's frown and Dark Shadow's powerful attack made it rather convincing. However, he didn't stray too far, wanting to help the other in case he needed it.

Tokoyami, for his part, was having trouble controlling himself.

"I can do this," he muttered while commanding Dark Shadow, repelling incoming attacks and answering them with all the control he could muster in that moment.

Tokoyami gained his quirk at a rather early age, just a few days after becoming four years old. Since then, Dark Shadow has been by his side, a permanent companion-- he honestly didn't know the concept of 'being alone', since even while Dark Shadow was his quirk and, therefore, an extension of himself, it was impossible for him to detach them from his own persona.

And he learnt about his terrible limitation too soon for his own good.

Even though this wasn't the worst-case scenario, like a basement or a dark forest, it wasn't well-lit like the usual training ground. The artificial weather was programmed to be just like a downpour (obviously) and that included the darkness too.

Which was bad.

But he mentally repeated that he was strong, he was skillful and the he could do it. He could hold down Dark Shadow and only use it for their benefit. With the level of these villains, none of them were in true danger and he trusted in the strength of Dark Shadow to defeat them and he trusted his own spirit to remain calm and avoid any undesired circumstances.

He could do it.

"I can do it."

With that thought in mind and closely followed by Kouda, he began clearing the downpour zone.

With the added power of Dark Shadow thanks to the darkened surroundings, he did not have any problems in finishing the first bunch of crazy villains. They were reckless and overconfident, so it took them by surprise that a high schooler like him could defeat them so easily.

The second and third bunches were the ones that were a bit cleverer and hid so they could attack them by surprise. Again, the first ones to strike were easy to take down, but after that the frequency of appearance of the villains slowed down.

Did they stop underestimating him?

The downpour was as intense as in the beginning, but his ears were so used to hearing only the water falling hard against the floor that he didn't expect to hear Kouda. Tokoyami just turned around a bit, careful not to call forth Dark Shadow if not needed, and he saw the other close by, half of his body behind a wall.

With simple gestures, Kouda signed Tokoyami that he was fine, but watchful. He nodded and restarted his walk, knowing that he needed to clear the place fast so they could return to the rest of the class.

Then, a muffled noise reached his ears.

'It must be close,' he thought, considering that he could hear it over the heavy rain. They were some lousy villains.

"Dark Shadow." His familiar appeared with no delay, bigger than usual.

With his best stealth, he went to the source of the sound. He peeked from the side of a wall and just saw a large window shattered, which was... odd? With Dark Shadow minding their surroundings, he got near and noticed that in the other side of the window, a villain was knocked out. A small amount of blood tainting the shards of glass around the guy told him that he probably crashed against the window, but now the question was this:

How did that happen?

"Tokoyami-kun! Duck!" a strong, feminine voice yelled at him and before he could even begin to understand what was happening, Dark Shadow moved them out of danger.

Just by a few centimeters, the body of an unconscious man (clearly a villain) flew directly towards where the window was, crashing over the villain already on the floor.

Both him and Dark Shadow turned simultaneously to where the flying villain came and noticed a known figure, as drenched in cold rain as they were and breathing a bit heavily.

"That was so cool, Midoriya-kun!" the same feminine voice from before rang out again and Dark Shadow was the first to spot a pair of shoes walking on their own, accompanied by a couple of floating gloves. "I didn't knew you were this strong!"

Said boy chuckled, a bit embarrassed.

"It's nothing. These guys don't know how to fight, that's all." He downplayed his actions, but at the same time he was inwardly thanking Aizawa and Toshinori so, so much. If it wasn't for them and their extra training, he'd definitely be done now that his control over Yūrei was off and couldn't use him in battle.

"You should definitely spar with Ojirou-kun," Tooru said, almost forgetting what they were doing there.

"I did not know you were thrown here too." Tokoyami approached them, forcing Dark Shadow back inside of him and signalling Kouda to come near.

"Kouda-kun! It's good to know you're fine," the invisible girl greeted the silent boy, who signaled her something like that he shared that sentiment, but eyed their surroundings in case someone would jump on them.

"Are you okay?" asked Tokoyami, noticing that other than being soaked, Izuku seemed fine. With Tooru... well, it was hard to know.

The other boy nodded, sharing a look with Kouda and also feeling relief to see the timid boy fine.

"Four are stronger than two. Let's get out of here and reunite with the rest." Izuku held an arm high without looking to Tokoyami, imitating Kouda and looking for villains who'd be lurking there to attack them. There shouldn't be many left, since Tooru and him dealt with quite a few distracted ones and he was sure the two other boys weren't wasting their time there, but they couldn't be sure.

Tokoyami looked at the gesture of Izuku and for a second he was confused. However, he quickly understood what the other wanted and, with a low chuckle given to hide his own awkwardness, he returned the gesture and clashed their forearms in a friendly way, signing their comradeship.

"Lead the way."

With that, the four began their way to the exit of the downpour zone.

As Tokoyami thought, the weather was their worst enemy. The villains remaining were of the same caliber of the ones he had already fought, so now it was even easier to defeat them. It was actually a surprise to see Izuku fight; he wasn't only quite skillful in hand to hand combat, but he also was a pretty quick thinker. He teamed up with Tooru, using to his advantage her invisibility in ways he could have never fathomed to imagine and she seemed like she was having a good time, working together like if they had always been a team.

Also, he had to admit that he had underestimated Kouda. Yes, the boy was usually left in the rear and, without his animals, he was basically quirkless, but when a villain surprisingly took him from the back, trying to tie him up with some weird rope things, Kouda yelled in surprise (figuratively, since only a strangled sound would be heard if it wasn't from the downpour summed with the fact that he wasn't exactly loud) and with one unexpected swift move he took down the villain, surprising even himself.

He had seemed guilty and didn't knew what to do, moving his hands frantically, but his shy personality definitely didn't undermined his strong built.

"Quick! Dark Shadow!" he commanded his own quirk when three guys appearing out of nowhere tried to attack him with their respective quirks.

"Yes, chief!" they answered, extending their clawlike hands and using their enlarged size to cover him while attacking.

In that moment, Tokoyami noticed that since they were transported to the disaster zone, it was the first time that Dark Shadow had verbally answered him. He also felt that the phantom pull he always tried to avoid during dark scenarios like this, the one that warned him not to forget the dangers that came with darkness, was now almost gone.

He actually felt calm.

His control over Dark Shadow had gone to what it usually was during daylight and he had actually forgotten to be worried about not losing control. He saw his classmates fighting alongside him and what he felt was something completely different.

He felt reassured.

After dealing easily with the villains, Dark Shadow turned to face him and he was sure his shadowy mouth turned into something like a smile.

"Come on, Tokoyami-kun! Don't lag!" Tooru yelled to be heard over the heavy rain, using one of her hands as a microphone (which was useless) and waving at him with the other.

Drenched and cold, Tokoyami closed his eyes for a moment and smiled to himself before hurrying up, this time without making Dark Shadow retreat.


It had been a rookie mistake.

The three of them, teaming up under the leadership of Momo, had held their own with a somewhat solid plan against a ridiculous number of enemies. How had this Villain Alliance gather so many people? If their disaster zone had that amount of villains waiting for them, they assumed the rest of them were just the same and that's not counting the central plaza, where Aizawa had practically dived onto the battlefield against a handful of enemies.

Anyway, with a risky move and assuming the loss of one of them, they defeated all the villains surrounding them. Kaminari was in good shape, but his brain would be fried for a while, at least according to Jirou-- during their partnership in All Might's Battle Trials he had warned her about his quirk limitation, stating that it could even last a full hour.

"We gotta keep moving," Jirou said and Momo agreed, calling Kaminari and motioning for him to follow them, which he did with that goofy smile and dizzy walk.

They didn't knew the territory inside the mountain zone and they had been left right in the middle, so they did their best to find a quick way to exit the place, not really achieving it. The mountain looked pretty much the same on all sides and it was rather extensive for a man-made location.

"UA really doesn't skimp on its facilities," Jirou pointed out, sounding rather impressed.

Momo nodded and after checking again that Kaminari was following them, gave her own insight.

"The importance of UA not only as a school but as the center of formation of the future Pro Heroes defending society makes investors to fund the school generously." She had studied not only the history, but also every aspect she could think of UA after she was recommended.

"Didn't stop these guys from jamming everything, though," Jirou said nonchalantly, playing with her jacks as she resisted the urge to kick the villains scattered all around them, having been affected by Kaminari's discharge.

'This guy's discharge power is actually really powerful,' she thought, but the downside of becoming stupid was too much of a disadvantage to overlook it.

Momo had no time to answer that, since a sudden and loud threat made both girls halt and hold both hands up after seeing their mindless classmate held hostage by a villain they were sure was knocked out way back there. Said boy was smiling carelessly, his danger sense completely gone with his own fried brain, but the threat was extremely real, especially after Jirou tried to plug in her left jack to attack and was caught red handed.

However, before the dread and desperation could set in their stomachs, a rock came out of nowhere and crashed precisely in the middle of the villain's face, making him let go Kaminari, who fell onto the ground and only chuckled.

Before Momo or Jirou could do something, even before the villain could react, a large shadow appeared from behind him and with a precise punch knocked him out cold, eliminating the threat as quick as it came.

"Girls! Are you okay?" Tooru's slightly concerned voice startled them, still in shock for what just happened.

"What...? Tokoyami? Tooru? When did you get here?" Jirou asked dumbfounded, lowering her arms slowly and looking warily to the villain, but he wasn't moving, just like the rest of them.

"We just snuck in and Dark Shadow saw you on the distance," Tooru explained while Tokoyami made Dark Shadow lift Kaminari, who was drooling now. "Good thing we arrived quickly, don't you think?" it was amazing how only by her voice, both girls could picture Tooru with a cute smile.

"Yeah... thanks guys." Jirou was still a bit awed-- everything happened in such a short time.

"Tokoyami-kun, do you or Dark Shadow need help? I could make something to make carrying Kaminari-kun easier," Momo offered, but her classmate shook his head.

"Thanks, but there's no need. You should save your energy for the incoming enemies," he said with a somber look, but something about the way he said it wasn't as dark as the words seemed.

Dark Shadow looked at her and smiled, ruffling their shadowy feathers. They seemed to have no problem in carrying the blond and with that, she didn't insist anymore.

"Okay, the guys must be waiting for us on the other side of the hanging bridge. Let's go!" Tooru took the lead, which in this zone was easier since the visibility was no longer a problem and they could follow her garments.

They all began to jog, not wanting to lose more time, but Momo and Jirou felt at loss with Tooru and Tokoyami. However, they were very close to said hanging bridge (which was fortunately in one piece) and they could spot people on the other side.

"Ojirou-kun!" Tooru greeted the newcomer, her right glove waving eagerly to the tailed boy.

On the other side, Kouda, Ojirou and Izuku were already waiting for them, the tailed boy returning a bit sheepishly the greeting. They seemed unharmed, their faces and clothes a dirty with ash, but nothing else.

The now group of eight students gathered, quickly debriefing about the most important information, like Kaminari's wellbeing and the status of their respective zones.

Nevertheless, they were interrupted by an extremely loud noise, as if something very large just exploded- but not quite like Bakugou's explosions. They all adopted fighting stances, thinking it was an enemy attack, but a familiar voice echoed through all the facility, showering them in massive relief.

All Might had arrived.

All Might had arrived!

"We're saved!" Tooru cried joyously, with tears forming on her eyes.

The rest failed to notice, shaken by the emotion of having All Might right there, but all of them had teary eyes and the relief was making them relax, letting the exhaustion hit them hard.

But Izuku quickly wiped his tears, understanding what they needed to do now. And he wasn't the only one. Ojirou and Tokoyami soon regained their composure and looked at him, gazes intense and waiting for his instructions.

"What do we do now, Midoriya?" the tailed boy asked, grasping everyone else's attention.

For a split of a second, Izuku felt troubled. The way the rest looked at him, trusting their next move, which was the same to say that they were trusting their safety to him was overwhelming. The plan of gathering as many classmates as he could had occupied him enough to forget what happened back in the Flood Zone, but the lingering feeling never disappeared.

But he fought back the anxiety and tried to clear his head. They were trusting in him. He wasn't going to betray that trust.

"Jirou-san, Yaoyorozu-san, do you think Kaminari-kun is going to recover soon?" he asked the girls, earning a negative shake of the head from both of them. "Okay then. Tokoyami-kun, could you and Dark Shadow take him to the exit?" 

Tokoyami and his quirk nodded in sync, understanding exactly why Izuku was asking them to do it. If they carried Kaminari with them, they weren't only putting his safety on the line, but also theirs in case they had to protect him or if he was taken hostage again. It'd be a liability.

A battle could be heard below them, from the other side of the central plaza that they couldn't see from their perspective. All of them knew it was All Might fighting and it was probably a spectacle worth watching, but they restrained themselves from distractions and quickly returned their eyes to Izuku, waiting for more instructions.

"Trust in us." Tokoyami nodded curtly and they left with Kaminari, taking a detour in order to not go through the central plaza where the battle was happening and minding to use the route the already took there, which was already cleared of villains.

"Yaoyorozu-san, how quickly could you make weapons for the rest of us? Nothing fancy, it should be easy to wield for anyone," Izuku asked the girl, who closed her eyes for a moment while she did mental calculations.

"Don't worry about me, Yaoyorozu-san. I'm fine fighting like this," Ojirou interrupted her politely.

"Also me! If I carried something, my cover would be blown," Tooru interjected too.

"Fairly quick then. I can make them while moving too," Momo answered, already thinking for a suitable weapon that all of them could use without much trouble or training.

"Perfect. Then let's go to the central plaza. Maybe All Might have everything under control, but we could act as backup." The group nodded, understanding Izuku's intentions. "There, Ojirou-kun and Hagakure-san will go to the Ruins Zone and help whoever is there."

The boy and the girl nodded, the latter happy that they could be a team again.

With all clear, the group began moving with Ojirou taking the lead. Jirou was behind Momo, covering her while she created weapons for the group-- after seeing the other girl using the short sword swiftly, she decided to create more of them since they were easy to wield. Wordlessly, she also created tiny matrioshkas of herself intended, in case they needed distraction.

Izuku had decided to go in the rear of the group, so he let everyone go before him. When he was about to jog behind them, minding his steps since they were in a rocky area and he didn't need a sprained ankle, he felt a gentle hand landing on his bicep, which startled him a bit.

It was Tooru, which was easy to guess for her lack of visible body.

"Midoriya-kun, are you okay?" she asked controlling her volume-- for some reason, she didn't want the ones ahead of them to hear her.

The boy looked perfectly in charge of the situation, taking everything upon his shoulders with an ease that could make any aspiring hero jealous. But after what they had lived in such a short time and she knowing more than the rest, that same responsibility he was taking was worrying.

Izuku, who just felt the exhaustion that was clear in his eyes, took a deep and tired sigh.

"Yes, Hagakure-san. But thanks for your concern," he thanked her, forcing a smile to her. It didn't make her feel better, though. "Let's go. All Might may need our help." It was laughable, considering who they were talking about, but at the same time it sounded hollow coming from him.

Knowing he wasn't going to start running if she didn't do it first, Tooru complied.

She just hoped everything would end alright.

The group moved swiftly through the place. The enemies lurking had already been defeated, so they could walk through and no one would stop them. Still, they all held their guards and ran close to each other, protecting their backs at all moments.

With each step, the battle sounded closer and it was exponentially louder. They couldn’t imagine what was going on there, but they still hurried, no chat between them. It appeared that the villains were done with their incessant monologues, because they couldn’t hear anyone talking, but it was all too preoccupying as well.

‘Aizawa-sensei...’ Izuku’s worry was eating him alive, but he knew that worrying wasn’t going to help him to help others. He had to stay calm and focus, otherwise he’d become a liability.

When they were close enough to not only hear but also feel the gusts of winds provoked by the powerful punches that All Might landed on an enemy they couldn’t see yet, Ojirou made a silent signal with his tail for all of them to stop. They regrouped and all but Tooru and Ojirou received a short sword from Momo. With silent signals, Izuku gave the instructions to disperse, earning nods from everyone.

“Don’t lose the element of surprise,” was his final whispered instruction and with that, they scattered, not straying too far away from one another.

Izuku sneaked near Kouda, who was holding the sword and trembling a bit. It was obvious that he felt uncomfortable wielding a weapon, since it was obvious that his hero persona was a lot more pacifistic than the rest of the class, but Izuku valued the effort he was making and said nothing.

When the group reached the place, all well hidden, they could finally saw the battle.

Villains were laying on the ground unconscious everywhere-- it was hard to tell if it had been completely Aizawa’s doing, but it didn’t matter. Near there, said man was being held by Asui and Mineta, while they were guarded by Kirishima, Bakugou, and Todoroki. On the other side, two villains (the bosses, they could tell from when they emerged from the warp) were resisting the gusts of wind like the rest, but without losing sight of All Might who was in the middle of the two groups, fighting with quick and crazily strong punches against a mutant type villain, who was returning the punches with just the same strength.

‘It can’t be true!’ Izuku said, mortified, gaping at the fight. Each blow was more powerful than the last one, but nor All Might neither the chicken head villain stopped - they kept on going and fighting with more force.

How could someone be at All Might’s level?

It was impossible!

But then, when the wind had undone every possible hairdo and kicked up a lot of dust, All Might delivered an impossibly strong punch, screaming Plus Ultra at the top of his lungs and on impact, the apparently invincible villain was literally ejected through the roof, shattering completely and filling the place with fallen debris and glass.

The kicked up dust was so dense by now that it was hard to breathe. It took all of Izuku not only to restrain himself from coughing and revealing his position, but also to avoid the incoming panic that he was feeling brewing inside him.

‘I can’t breathe, I can’tbreathe, Ican’tbreatheIcan’tbreath.’

He was losing focus quickly. It wasn’t the time for that! He mustn't!

Not now!

“You cheated!” the villain full of detachable hands yelled angrily, stomping the floor with his foot. “You used cheats to win! You are weak! Then why did you overpower us! You liar!” It seemed like a tantrum, which was odd coming from a psycho like him.

“Shigaraki Tomura, calm down,” the warp villain said with an ominous voice, clearly more collected than the other one. “If you look closely, you can see the damage that Noumu delivered.”

With the dust it was hard to spot any major injury, but All Might did seem to be bleeding and he was pretty damaged. Still, he stood there with that confident smile and waited for the villains to come.

“Yes... yes! You’re right, Kurogiri!”

Shigaraki stretched his fingers, making them wiggle with malicious intent.

“We must avenge Nou--”

But a deafening sound affected the villains, making them silent. It was a potent heartbeat, so strong and so deafening that it made the ground tremble. Jirou thanked god for the advice her parents gave her in the design of her hero outfit, otherwise she’d have affected her classmates and All Might as well.

The group led by Izuku, except said boy, appeared out of nowhere, forming a semicircle while circling the enemies. They were outnumbered, all of the students ready to attack. The ground under Todoroki was completely frozen, ready to stretch towards them; Bakugou’s hands were crackling loudly, mini explosions warming them; Jirou didn’t stop her heartbeat attack, making it louder if possible.

It was over.

“You’re surrounded. Give up, there’s no way for you to win.” All Might wasn’t moving and half of his body was cover under the dense dust, but his voice was as strong and resolute as always.

Izuku saw all of this with blurry eyes from his place. He was breathing laboriously, right hand clenched over his chest, unable to call for help as his mind dizzily told him. He focused his eyes for a second over All Might, memory flashing back to the day with the sludge villain and his arm stretched towards him, pointlessly trying to grab him.

All Might

All Might

Please

All Might

Help

He couldn’t subdue his panic. It was all too much. His mind could no longer stop the panic, the fear, the desperation.

Someone

Anyone

Please

Please

He took a couple of shaky steps, getting finally into his range of sight.

Blood

Please

Why

All Might

“Midoriya-kun?” he couldn’t hear Tooru’s voice, his ears were filled with imaginary water.

“Fucking Deku, what the fuck are you doing?!” Bakugou’s voice triggered old memories, worsening everything.

Leap of faith

All Might

The dizziness and Bakugou’s voice echoing in the back of his mind caused the ground below him to shift, making it harder to stand.

All Might

Mom

I’m falling

Yagi-san

I can’t breathe

Help

Breathe

“Young Midoriya!”

That voice.

Yagi-san...

“Kurogiri! Take him!”

“Midoriya-kun!”

“Midoriya!!”

“Izuku!”

Yagi-san...

Help

It was all a chaos. Kurogiri opened a warp to transport Shigaraki towards Izuku, everybody threw themselves trying to stop them but even with Todoroki’s light speeding ice sheet, he couldn’t reach them on time. It all happened in seconds, a ruckus around the panicking boy, who in reaction the moment all hell went loose could do nothing but scream.

He covered up his ears and screamed his lungs out, losing what little air he had in them.

But it had been for the best, since all the noise around him just died.

Falling on his knees and with black eating the edge of his vision, he saw Yūrei in front of him, his wings spread completely and his right claw covering Shigaraki’s face and his left claw around his throat. His lungs burned for the lack of air and his head felt full of cotton.

Yagi-san...

With slow movements, he fell onto his side, Yūrei somehow solid even with his escaping consciousness.

Mom...

His thoughts were like scrambled eggs, mixing reality and his memories.

Mom...

Two faces merged in one and it made so much sense.

Breathe...

He closed his eyes just when he saw black particles emerging from the figure standing before him, blackness swallowing him up.

Breat--

Chapter Text

"Hey, Mic..."

The usually loud man, who was now unnaturally silent, turned around to greet the newcomer, exhausted.

"Fatgum." Hizashi was going to stand up and greet him properly, but with one swift movement the bigger man motioned for him to stay seated, entering the room with some effort. Why did people make doors so narrow?

With steps incredibly light for someone his size, Toyomitsu stood beside Hizashi and looked at the man resting in the bed before them. Shouta was covered in bandages and the monitors next to the bed were beeping steadily, showing how his heart was pumping blood correctly and regulating the oxygen that was supporting his own breathing, a preventive measure Recovery Girl preferred to keep for a couple more hours. Her quirk was clearly working and Aizawa was far better than any normal human should be after enduring those injuries, but Hizashi's face still reflected deep concern and Toyomitsu read it effortlessly.

Since both of Shouta's arms were in casts, Hizashi could only sweetly caress his hair to give him physical support.

"How is he?" Toyomitsu asked softly, worry showing on his features as well.

"He's doing okay. He was conscious ten minutes ago and the only thing he wanted to know was how the kids and Thirteen were doing." Hizashi chuckled weakly, unconvincing even to his own ears, but he wasn't going to put effort into pretending by now. He just couldn't.

The chubby hand of the larger hero rested on his shoulder, a kind and reassuring touch.

"He's strong," Toyomitsu assured him.

Hizashi smiled a bit, too small to be recognized as one of his trademark blinding smiles, but it was there.

"I know." He nodded. "If it wasn't for me and Recovery Girl, he'd probably be up and pretending that nothing ever happened." He frowned, knowing the man all too well.

Toyomitsu watched the blond with worry in his eyes. It was just nightfall, but Hizashi already looked like he hadn't slept for days, terrible fears weighing down on him. It wasn't like any other time they, as pro heroes, had encounters in hospital wings, waiting for the doctors attending to a colleague or a friend. But seeing the state of Shouta and from the scarce information he got by that one phone call about Thirteen...

This League of Villains was bad news.

"Good evening, Fatgum," a squeaky voice said from the door, making both turn to look, though Hizashi's hand never left Shouta's hair. "Thanks for coming on such short notice."

The big man gently shook his head. "Thanks for calling me, Principal."

Nedzu came in, leaving the door slightly ajar, and walked towards Shouta's bed.

"How is Thirteen?" Hizashi asked him, switching his gaze between the principal and Toyomitsu.

"As well as they can be after taking those wounds," Nedzu answered, his usual smile still there but with tension clearly showing. "Recovery Girl is with them now, but her powers are limited and after taking care of All Might too, she's exhausted," he explained.

Hizashi's head hung low, eyes tracing Shouta's bandaged face. His free hand clenched slightly and it didn't go unseen for the other two, who could feel and share his frustration and anger. Toyotsumi gently squeezed his shoulder, trying to comfort him, but he knew it was useless.

"Fatgum, could you do me a favour?" Nedzu called him, gaining his attention. "I know you wanted to check on Thirteen too, but Recovery Girl told me they're in no shape to receive visitors until tomorrow. Could you please take Mic to his apartment?" he asked in a gentle, but firm voice. "Your staying here won't do anything but exhaust you too, and I'm sure he wouldn't want that. Go home, eat something and sleep a bit. Then you can come back," he quickly added facing Hizashi, knowing that the blond would be completely unwilling to leave Shota's side.

"Principal, please..."

"I can't allow it, Mic, and Recovery Girl won't either." Nedzu didn't raise his voice, but the words still stung, like a father scolding a child.

After mulling over it a bit, Hizashi recognized his defeat, which only fueled his anger. With slow and gentle moves, Toyotsumi helped him to stand up and after softly bidding  the principal goodbye, he guided the blond out of the room, hating to see his friend so miserable.

Repeating in a whispered voice that everything would be okay, that Shouta was strong and that he'd be back in shape in no time, the two Pro Heroes walked out the hospital wing. UA was unnaturally silent, even for that hour, but Hizashi could guess that by tomorrow the place would be overflowed by journalists, hungry for the latest information about the attack.

He gritted his teeth.

The League of Villains was going to pay.


Izuku woke up near two in the morning, tucked into bed and with no recollection of why he was there or what was he doing before that.

After waking up, he took a couple of minutes to stare at the ceiling, his mind numb and with a feeling of emptiness that disturbed him. He felt exhausted and his head hurt a little, the headache increasing when he tried to dig up his last memories. He sat down slowly, feeling his heavy body and it was when he tried to caress his temple, annoyed by the headache, that he felt a weight on the side of his bed and over his hand.

"Wha--" he shut up the moment he noticed his mother sleeping, sitting on his desk chair and bent in a position that couldn't be comfortable at all. She held his hand even in her sleep and he could distinguish dried tears on her face.

It saddened him to no end.

You made her cry.

Again.

Without wanting to wake her up, he summoned his ghost in order to command him to carry Inko to her own bed. Yūrei appeared with no delay, his inhuman figure filling Izuku with a familiar sense of safety, but he didn't move at all.

"Oh..."

The moment the ghost materialized from the dense, black particles, a rush of memories hit him. It was less painful than he could have expected, filling his head with what happened during the rescue exercise they were supposed to do. It took him by surprise that he didn't feel startled or moved in any way when the images flew through his mind - instead it was like a void inside of him enlarged, sucking in his emotions.

A faint ring, sounding suspiciously like his therapist's voice, tried to warn him that it wasn't normal to feel that way, but his last thoughts began to overshadow the others and the void suddenly felt bigger, increasing the numbness that he was feeling.

"Help me here, Yūrei," he whispered, the faintest smile painting his face while he detached himself from the turmoil that was bottled up in his chest.

The ghost did as he was told and with utmost care, he took Inko's body and the two of them left Izuku's room and went to his mom's. There, Yūrei placed her over the bed and the woman stirred only a bit, adjusting herself to a more comfortable position. Izuku tucked her in and his child self felt the temptation of not returning to his room, but sleeping there in the safe arms of his mother. But he didn't.

He saw Yūrei, quiet and unmoving near the door, and the void grew.

Silently, he let the ghost disappear and returned to his cold, lonely room.

He didn't intend to sleep, but the exhaustion (mostly mental) forced him to. He couldn't sleep for more than an hour, but it was enough. With a heavy body, he went directly to the shower and stood under the cold water for almost fifteen minutes, unsure if the tears that he felt inside him actually came out through his eyes.

He turned on the TV, minding to put it on the minimum volume, and the early morning news was already broadcasting. A bit unexpected to him, the incident he'd lived through the day before in the USJ facility was being covered by the press, pre-recorded images rolling on screen. He recognized the building, but the presence of the police actually surprised him. He couldn't remember them there, but it was obvious; he passed out before everything ended.

The void grew and he felt hollow.

A sudden vibration sound startled him, almost dropping his phone when taking it out of his pocket. Fortunately it had been a text, so it didn't vibrate longer than a few seconds, threatening to wake up his mom. Unlocking the screen, he hesitated before opening the text upon reading the sender's name.

Yagi-san

His tightened his lips, and noticed that he had other messages waiting unopened—he'd read those later. He mulled over the matter, taking his time, but ultimately opened the text, reading it in one go.

04:27 [From: Yagi-san] my boy, my apologies for such an early text. i just wanted to know if you were alright. your mom toldme what happened yesterday and i wanted to check on you.

He gripped his phone with more strength than necessary and re-read the message one more time. His mind was numb and it was hard to form coherent thoughts, but after a few minutes he pressed the button to reply and after writing one in a hurry, he threw the phone onto the couch and went to his room to pick up his jacket.

When he was by the door, he silently retraced his steps and went to the kitchen, deciding at the last second to leave a note for his mother in case she woke up. It wasn't unusual for him to be gone early in the morning, but given everything that had happened, he knew she'd worry and he was sick of doing that to her.

-Left to jog. Be back for breakfast. Love you.

With that settled he left home and walked slowly towards the beach, hands hidden in his jacket's pockets and eyes glued to the road. He wasn't sure what he meant to do when he faced the man, but he knew he didn't want to stretch the matter out anymore.

The distance to the beach was the longest he had ever travelled, but not as long as he secretly wished. The towers of trash that ruined the view came into his sight soon and by the road, an easily distinguishable head of blond hair appeared.

The emptiness was larger than ever.

Without rushing, he approached Toshinori, who was too deep in his own thoughts to realize that he was no longer alone. He only noticed Izuku when he was a couple of strides away from him and the distance he felt from the boy didn't go unnoticed.

"My boy! I'm so happy to see you," Toshinori smiled at him anyway, as cheerfully as he could. He hugged him tightly, noticing how Izuku hugged him back slowly and with the heaviness typical of someone who is truly exhausted. "Hope my text didn't wake you up." His brows were knitted; truly worried that it was because of him that Izuku didn't rest well.

But Izuku denied that, shaking his head gently and tilting his head upwards, looking at him directly.

"I was up already, rough night," he admitted sheepishly, intending to tone the fact down. He quickly avoided Toshinori's gaze, failing to see the worried look in those sunken blue eyes. "Let's go to the beach...?" He hesitated a bit, but ultimately began walking without waiting for the man, guiding his steps to a spot without so much trash.

Toshinori took a minute before following him. Something with the boy was off and he really wanted to think it was because of what he lived the day before, especially considering the fact that he fainted moments before the Pro Heroes arrived, but his guts told him that it wasn't all that bothered the boy and fear gripped his heart.

Swallowing hard, he followed Izuku.

The two sat down on a patch of sand free of trash and a weird silence fell upon them. It was dark and the gentle sway of the ocean was like a lullaby. Still, Toshinori wasn't quite comfortable and he actually didn't have a lot of time, having to return soon to UA for an emergency meeting that was scheduled to discuss the attack on the USJ.

But something in Toshinori made him wait for the boy to speak. His nerves contributed to that too, but he knew, he just knew, that it was important to let him take the first step.

After a little more than five minutes, Izuku spoke.

"I don't... know how to start." His voice was so low that it was only thanks to the general silence that Toshinori could hear him.

It was followed by more silence, even more awkward than before, but this time the man understood that he had to speak too, maybe to just give him a tiny push of confidence.

"You can talk to me, Izuku. About anything." A muted part of his mind told him that he shouldn't allow it, but he knew better. He was way past caring for this boy to go back now.

Quietly, Izuku nodded to himself.

"Can you tell me what happened after I fainted?" he asked, this time with a louder voice and with a little more confidence. But it was an unusual tone, especially because it wasn't like confidence at all. Toshinori couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was.

It wasn't good, though.

"Well, from what your mother told me, you—"

"Don't lie to me, Yagi-san," Izuku quickly interrupted, startling the man. "Please... just don't." He hugged his knees and rested his chin on them, looking intently at the sea without fully detaching himself from the conversation.

The silence was heavy and a bitter taste filled Toshinori's mouth. It may be blood, like always, but it wasn't the point.

Not at all.

"...since when do you know?" he asked the boy, voice soft and as neutral as he could manage. He could have gone off topic, but it would have been not only pointless but insulting to both of them. Izuku wasn't stupid and he wasn't naïve.

Izuku shrugged, not ever looking at him.

"I'd say yesterday... but I'm not sure," he said, resting now his cheek over his crossed arms, tracing the tranquil sway of the darkened waves with his eyes. "It all made sense after I drowned again, though..."

It stung and Toshinori had to stop himself from gritting his teeth.

How many times would he allow Izuku to die on his watch?

Symbol of Peace, eh?

"Izuku, I—"

"I just want to know what happened, All Might." There was a clear distance in the way he said his hero's name in comparison with how he said his real name and it hurt more than he could have expected. "I wanna know how Sensei is... and my friends." This time Izuku actually looked at him and the bags under his eyes were much more pronounced than before.

Toshinori understood that it was unfair of him to feel the way he was, so he swallowed his emotions, putting Izuku first, and began talking.

Izuku listened to him with all the attention of the world. He heard how Iida came back with all the Pro Heroes in UA (or most of them), how the villains had barely escaped and how the injured were taken back to the hospital wing. His expression never changed while he was told that Aizawa and Thirteen were hospitalized after sustaining heavy injuries or how, miraculously, no student aside himself suffered any major injury. He himself had been fine, only unconscious, but All Might had to be treated too after his fight with Noumu. Due to the seriousness of this attack, the principal alerted the police the instant Iida informed everyone what happened, so it made sense that he saw it in the news. He even told him that school was closed for the day, the staff too busy dealing with the attack and the consequences it had to risk their students any more, feigning normality.

Toshinori spared him no details, answering every question he asked. He was patient and he avoided leaking the sadness he felt through his words.

Still, Izuku didn't react at all.

"There's something else..." Toshinori added after Izuku quieted down, considering that it would be unfair to withhold that information. "...before you fainted... do you remember screaming?" he asked carefully, trying to read the boy's body language.

Izuku only knitted his brows, trying to dig into his memories. Did he really scream? He couldn't remember much, but he had the feeling that it happened. It was such a distant, fuzzy memory that it was more like a notion than a certainty.

Finally, he shook his head, and his face hinted the first real emotion in all that conversation: frustration.

"Why is that important?" he asked, looking at the suddenly serious Toshinori.

"Because, my boy, you... your scream paralyzed all of us." He didn't shudder at the memory only because he had faced so many dangers in his life, that his body reacted accordingly. But it was unsettling nonetheless.

Izuku turned his head completely to Toshinori, the emptiness being quickly replaced by anxiety.

"...what?"

He had foreseen this kind of reaction, shock, but the look of utmost horror that was now on Izuku's face made him want to retract his words. He knew enough the boy to understand what was crossing his mind and the last thing he wanted was for Izuku to blame himself for something he never intended to do.

"Izuku, my boy, it's okay. Nothing happened from it, I promise," he quickly clarified, instinctively reaching towards him. But Izuku noticed and he jerked back, standing up so quickly that he got dizzy. "The rest of Pros came andIzuku--!"

"I-I... I need to go-" The words were rushed, mimicking his nervous stance.

"Izuku!" Toshinori cried when the boy began to run, stopping him midway. "Izuku... I'm sorry," he pleaded, blue eyes shining in regret and wordless pain.

The boy turned slightly, barely facing him.

"I'm not mad, All Might... I mean it," he said almost in a whisper. The way he didn't call him 'Yagi-san' told the man all the contrary. "I just... I need time. E-Everything that happened... I... I-I..." He couldn't find the right words and he fumbled with his hands, trembling slightly.

The silence stretched and the gap between them began solidifying, scaring the blond.

"I'm sorry for disappointing you," Toshinori said, keeping his distance to avoid scaring the boy away.

After that, Izuku turned completely and faced the man with the saddest eyes he had ever seen.

"All Might..." he whispered, guilt trying to override the other emotions that his mind was trying to mute in order to cope with everything, not really achieving it. But even when he felt like shit and he was confused and scared and his flee instinct was blasting alarms in his subconsciousness, a gentle pulse in his heart stopped him from leaving, from cutting Toshinori out of his life permanently.

The look in the man's eyes was so strong, for a second Izuku could share his emotions.

"...You could never disappoint me," he said slowly. He barely smiled, but it was a smile so sad, yet so earnest that it was painfully clear that it was nothing but the truth.

Leaving the man behind broke him so much that the void came back full force, but he felt unable to even cry.

When the boy turned and left, Toshinori felt that the thin string that connected them, tattered and beaten, was threatening to break.


Tenya woke up in a cold sweat, with fresh tears and a racing heart.

It was the second consecutive morning he had woken up the same way, the result of the very same nightmare. His breathing was erratic and the nightmare was still too fresh in his mind, disturbing him.

'It already happened. I got on time. Then why?' he thought, feeling shaken, remembering the scenarios his mind was torturing him with all too vividly.

"Tenya, you okay?" his brother's voice startled him, making him yelp and quickly wipe the tears in the corners of his eyes. His cheeks burned with the shame of being discovered so vulnerable, as if he was a child all over again.

"Yes, Tensei! Nothing to worry about," he hurried to reassure his brother, who was standing by his doorframe.

"I'll leave shortly for the agency and I know how much you like to eat breakfast with me, so..." 

Tenya nodded stiffly, understanding what his brother wanted to say. He stood up, motions rigid and full of emotion like always.

But there was something wrong with him and Tensei knew it.

"Hey," he called Tenya again, making the boy turn towards him, arm stretched towards the back of his chair where his uniform was lying. "Are you really okay, bro? You know you can tell me anything." His voice was protective, the same thing that made Tenya feel safe and inspired him to be a hero.

This time, Tenya released part of his usual stiffness and looked over to Tensei, vision fuzzy without his glasses.

"Yes... I am sure, brother." He smiled, a bit more honestly this time, feeling his fears being subdued just by Tensei's presence.  

He looked at Tenya intently and smiled, nodding. "Okay. Let's go eat." 

Tenya nodded and hurried to change his clothes, hurrying to catch up with his brother before he left.

The morning went by uneventfully, having breakfast with his brother, tidying his room as always and checking his texts before leaving for school. Uraraka had answered his message but Izuku hadn't, worrying him. He convinced himself that Izuku was only busy and left for school early, knowing that it was going to be a stressful day, to say the least.

The security at UA was tighter than ever and Tenya didn't knew if he felt better or worse about that. It was good and understandable that UA enhanced the security measures, all things considered, but it brought back unpleasant memories to him. It'd surely be a grim reminder for his classmates too and his responsibility as Class President weighed heavily on his shoulders.

'Still, no need to worry. Everything's going to be okay," he thought reassuringly, but he wasn't a fool; he was reassuring himself, more than anyone else.

With resolute steps, he went directly to his classroom, intending to wait there for everyone. The school had few people at that hour, but the silence was as appreciated as the usual ruckus. He stiffly greeted class 1-B's president and briefly answered a few questions she had, minding his answers in case they'd be instructed later to not unleash all the information.

By the door of classroom 1-A, Cementoss was blocking the door.

"Good morning," the teacher greeted, looking deadly serious with his eyes barely open. It wasn't unusual, though.

"Cementoss-sensei! Good morning!" Tenya greeted enthusiastically, bowing to the man with utmost respect. "What an unexpected visit! How can I help you today?" He knew the teacher wasn't exactly on a social visit and hoped the anxiety pooling in his stomach wouldn't be noticed.

"Well, I came to inform you, as the Class President, that for today's homeroom you'll have to replace Aizawa-sensei," the man spoke with the calmness of a statue, which was ironic considering his quirk. Still, the mention of Aizawa's absence filled Tenya with dread. "As you can guess, he's still in no condition to return to his duties until Recovery Girl says so."

Tenya swallowed slowly, nodding at the new information.

"Of course, Sensei. But do you mind me asking how Aizawa-sensei is doing?" He hoped he wasn't being too pushy, but his worry was honest.

Cementoss, of course, knew that.

"He's getting better. Don't worry, he'll be back in no time." He saw Tenya's anxiety and tried to ease him to the best of his ability, hoping his words would provide some comfort.

Tenya let his face betray him for just a second, but then a strong resolution replaced any negative feelings and he nodded, thanking the man for his time and promising him that he'd do a fantastic job as Class President, so he'd have nothing to worry about.

Cementoss smiled kindly, feeling the fondness that his students sparked in him.

'He's a good boy,' the man thought, looking at Tenya like he was a little chick with glasses, feeling the urge to protect him from all harm.

After the teacher left, Tenya quickly entered the classroom and noticed it empty. The view of unoccupied seats made him feel uneasy, but he shook his head energetically and reminded himself that he was only early, that soon it'd be full of life like always and his nightmares would stay just that: nightmares.

As he predicted, soon his classmates began arriving. He greeted each one of them with contagious energy, making it hard to not be infected by his mood. It made him happy to notice that, despite the fact that they all feigned being okay but were actually pretty silent and moping at the beginning, now casual chatter could be heard and the unnatural quietness disappeared.

It was near the hour of homeroom and a few people were still arriving. Satou was second to last, apologizing to Tenya who was already lecturing him about responsibility and the importance of arriving early, when the last one, Izuku, came in.

"Midoriya!" he called with a scolding voice, "while I'm happy to see you well, as Class President I must remind you and Satou that punctuality is highly valued and that I expect from both of you not to repeat this tomorrow or on any other day." He pointed at them both with a stiff hand, using the other to adjust his glasses on the bridge of his nose.

"I'm sorry, Iida-kun," Izuku apologized. Tenya noticed immediately how the boy looked down and had large black bags under his eyes.

Before he could ask him anything, Uraraka's voice interrupted him.

"Deku-kun! Why didn't you reply to my texts?" she asked him, worry obvious in her face. "You look terrible! Did you sleep at all? Is everything okay?" Tenya shared her concerns and was now struggling to choose between adding himself to the conversation or announcing Aizawa's absence for the day to the class.

"It's nothing, Uraraka-san, I promise," Izuku assured her, but none of them were convinced.

Tenya opened his mouth, intending to ask Izuku not to hide anything concerning his health, when he felt something a bit off. Frowning a little, he looked around to discover the source of his uneasiness when he noticed it.

The classroom was deadly quiet.

"Hm? Iida-kun, what's wrong?" Uraraka asked him, too invested in looking at Izuku's expressions to notice the weird atmosphere that surrounded them.

Shifting only his eyes, he saw Izuku's face.

He knew it too.

Tenya looked at his classmates, picking up weird details immediately. Ojirou and Yaoyorozu seemed to be extremely interested in looking anywhere but them, their eyes roaming between the walls and the floor. Kouda seemed even more nervous than normally, eyes shifting between his classmates and them, quickly diverting his gaze when his eyes landed on Izuku. Jirou seemed suspicious, but Tenya could not understand why. Bakugou and Todoroki had their eyes fixed on Izuku, the blond clearly pissed off and the other extremely serious, which made it hard to figure if he was angry or not. Mineta wanted to say something, trembling evidently, but Tsuyu stopped him, looking as blank as always. Tooru was shifting in her place, about to jump up and do something, and Kirishima was biting his lip, worry clear in his kind eyes but lacking the proper words to say.

Why everyone was acting so weird?

When he was about to say something, Izuku did it first.

"Oh... I see..." His voice was soft and flat, but a slightly broken note made Tenya's concern spike. "I'm sorry, Iida-kun, but I need to go to the bathroom."

"Wait, Midoriya, you need a hall pa--" But the boy excused himself and left the classroom in a hurry, leaving Tenya standing in mid sentence.

Uraraka, Kirishima and Tooru tried to call out to him, but he was already gone.

The uneasiness in the air became even more palpable after his departure.

"What was that?" Uraraka said to the air, confusion painting her words and frown evident.

"Are we... missing something?" Tenya asked himself, but loud enough for the rest of the class to hear. He looked at Shoji, but he only shrugged, as confused as he was. "Kirishima?" he called, but the redhead avoided his gaze, with a shame that confused him even more.

Uraraka and Tenya shared a look, not understanding a thing.

"Guys, we need to fix this," Tooru's voice startled some of them with the clearness and resolution in it.

More nervous shifts and gazes averted came with that statement, making her angry.

"It wasn't his fault." She talked with such seriousness, so unusual in the bubbly girl, that everyone involved felt a lot more guilty all of a sudden.

"His fault?" Satou asked, as lost as Tenya.

A loud and painful sound, like nails scratching a blackboard, made everyone flinch. With angry fumbling and a dense, slightly sweet smell, Bakugou left the classroom so abruptly that Tenya had no time to stop him.

It was incredible how everything could go downhill so quickly.

"What's his problem?" Kaminari asked, opening the back door and trying to see the boy somewhere in the hall, but Bakugou was nowhere in sight.

"Shouldn't you have stopped him, Class Pres?" Jirou asked him, lifting one brow and twirling her left jack nervously.

"Maybe he went to Midoriya?" Tokoyami proposed, feeling many questioning looks on him. "Well, aren't they childhood friends or something?" He shrugged, earning a few nods and whispered comments.

Someone snorted quite loudly and it was now Sero's turn to be judged by the class. He held up both hands, as if he was trying to protect himself, and sank a bit in his chair.

"Hey, don't look at me like that," he protested, "Bakugou is an asshole with, like, everyone, but is especially a jerk with Midoriya. I don't think Mr. Foul Mouth went to comfort him or anything, do you?" Kaminari agreed with Sero and soon, everyone else was in agreement as well.

An exaggerated cough quieted everyone down again, diverting the attention to a very serious Tenya, who was standing at the teacher's spot, his posture even more stiff than normal, exuding an authority that everyone joked about daily.

Not right now, though.

"Everyone. It is my duty as Class President to take charge of the situation," he began talking, loud and clear for everyone to hear. "First of all, Aizawa-sensei is recovering fine, but as expected he'll be excused from teaching until further notice. I was left in charge of homeroom hour, but given what happened I'll leave our Vice President, Yaoyorozu-san, in charge until I come back. Understood?" He looked directly at said girl, who stood up from her seat and nodded to him.

"I'll take care of the class," she assured him, trying to ignore her nervousness and masking it perfectly. She looked confident and reliable, which was exactly what Tenya needed.

"Thanks. I'll go for our classmates as quickly as possible," he announced and left, intending to find both missing boys.

The halls were empty, given the fact that classes had already began. Tenya walked fast, minding his steps so they wouldn't give him away, given that he was essentially sneaking out of class. But the mission he had in mind diverted his attention enough from what he would usually frown upon.

Remembering that Izuku said he was going to the bathroom, he thought it was the best place to start looking. He went straight to the boys' bathroom of that floor, but it was completely empty.

'Next floor then,' he thought, changing his trajectory to the stairs.

But when he was getting near the stairs, unusual noises came from the stairwell. It was hushed, like whatever was causing it tried to keep it down, which made his mind change the word whatever for whoever. A sudden loud noise startled him and it was so much like the sound of a punch against a wall that he hurried to the origin of the sound.

However, when his ear was capable of distinguishing not only his classmates' voices, but also what they were saying, he froze in place.

"You are pathetic." It was Bakugou's voice, hard and leaking hot anger in each word. "You are spineless, even with a fucking quirk. You'll never be a hero. Do yourself a favour and leave my goddamn school before you get yourself killed." Tenya was so taken aback from such a declaration that the shock and disbelief overshadowed the anger that was brewing in the pit of his stomach.

It was unbelievable. Bakugou was a harsh boy, yes, but saying those kind of awful things with such serious intention to someone? To a classmate? To a supposed childhood friend?

How can that be true?

"What the fuck did you say?" he heard him spit out in a low voice.

"I said..." It was now Izuku's voice, small and wavering but gaining a bit of volume with each word, "do it."

Tenya was now confused. What did Izuku mean by that? And why wasn't Bakugou answering? Silently, trying to keep his presence hidden from a gut feeling, he began to tread carefully, feeling like an intruder but also with that nagging feeling that told him that he must intervene and stop this exchange.

"Am I an eyesore, Kacchan?" The sweet, oily smell of nitroglycerin became denser, hinting that Bakugou was sweating. That wasn't good at all. "If that's what you want... if that's what's going to make you feel better, then do it." the way Izuku's voice was choked told Tenya that he was crying and he was about to throw away all the quietness that his own damn curiosity about this two and his feel of intruding something private made him keep, until the next words.

"Kill me, Kacchan."

He froze again. A cold gust pierced his whole body to his very core, making him terrified of what he just heard not because of the obvious wording, but by Izuku's crude way of speaking.

He meant it.

Those two words.

Izuku totally meant it.

"Go ahead and kill me, Kacchan. Once, twice, I don't care. If that's what it takes for you to leave me alone, do it. I don't care anymore. It's not the first time you've done it. It doesn't matter." He could hear him crying, voice weak and choked but saying every single word as clearly as he could.

It made such an impression that Tenya could only gasp in horror, covering his mouth with one hand.

"I can't do this anymore. Do it, Kacchan. Just kill me."

He wanted to yell at him not to do it, he wanted to run and separate the both of them. But his stupid body was there, frozen, mind trying to wrap itself over the implications that Izuku's words carry and he could not react for fuck's sake!

And fucking Bakugou was saying nothing.

"Goodbye, Kacchan."

And little, but heavy steps were the only thing heard, getting lost in the distance and away from Tenya.

When Izuku couldn't be heard, a cold fury overwhelmed Tenya. His body moved so quickly that he would regret the jolt in his foot later after twisting it in his haste, but not now. He finally saw Bakugou's back, still where he was probably talking with Izuku, and when he was near enough, the blond slowly turned to him with an easily mistaken scowl, but with a hint of perplexity shining in his red eyes.

The scowl was only emphasized when he saw Tenya's expression, being eons away from his 'stupid silly face' from everyday, replaced with a hard stare that flared with an anger that seemed impossible from such a kind boy.

When he finally spoke, the cold resentment was enough to throw the blond off.

"Bakugou." He punctuated his name by clenching his fists. "What did you do?"

Chapter Text

The Principal’s office intimidated Masaru and he could see how Mitsuki was also tense, worry clear in her knitted brows-- her usual scowl, the same that Katsuki inherited, could fool anyone but not him. He gripped her hand tightly, trying to ease her anxiety while keeping his own breathing steady.

She looked at him and he smiled as warmly as he could.

The door opened and the Principal came in.

“Thanks for coming today,” Nedzu began, signaling them with a paw that it wasn’t necessary for them to stand up and greet him. “Can I offer you something to drink?” he had boiled water and brewed coffee before leaving the office and now the air had a delightful smell.

Still, they declined.

“Thanks for calling us, Principal. I hope Katsuki’s not in any trouble...” Masaru spoke first, using a gentle and understanding tone that Nedzu immediately picked up and memorized it.

“Oh, not at all, Bakugou-san. You can rest assure that’s not the case, at least for now,” Nedzu assured, calculating just enough how wide his usual smile was, knowing (and secretly enjoying) how upsetting it can be for other people.

“Then if that punk didn’t do anything, why are we here, Principal?” Mitsuki asked, surprising Nedzu how the woman could talk in an apparently careless way, in a very similar fashion to how Katsuki’s lack of respect towards authority, but without sounding disrespectful at all.  

Smiling inwardly, Nedzu took the lead again.

“I had hope Katsuki’s homeroom teacher would take care of the matter, but as you know, he’s on a medical leave for the rest of the week,” he began, opening a brown folder he had over his desk, which contained Bakugou Katsuki’s middle school file. “So in order to not delay furthermore the issue, I took the liberty to call you today.”

“UA is very well aware of your son’s achievements. Katsuki has an impeccable academic record and he has quickly positioned himself as one of the best students of his class. He scored first in the practical part of the entrance exam and, honestly, he has the potential of being one of the best graduates of his generation,” Nedzu pretended to read the open file, discreetly noticing the reactions of the parents at his words. “In fact, as far as I know from his middle school file and from the impressions of his teachers here in UA, I can confidently say that your son is a prodigy, battle wise speaking.”

It was a real advantage that he had an undeniably perfect poker face. If he hadn’t had the intelligence he had or hadn’t been in the academic field for the time he had been, he would have been surprised to notice that the Bakugous weren’t reacting how everyone would have expected. When someone tells you that your son is basically the best thing in the world, recognizing his achievements the way Nedzu was portraying them, nothing but pride would shine in a parent’s eyes.

However, the Bakugous weren’t showing that. Nedzu didn’t thought that they weren’t proud of his son-- not at all. But he could clearly see how they both shared a conflicted look, how Mitsuki’s guard was up and how their eyes looked more wary than anything.

His prior analysis on them proved to be right. They weren’t mindless parents, blind for their love for their son.

That was going to make things a lot easier for him.

“However, being a hero is not restricted to the battlefield,” he continued, closing slowly the file and earning the woman’s curiosity. He rest his elbows over the table and crossed his fingers, resting his chin over his paws. “And your son has some serious issues that we must address as soon as possible.” He laid the bait, expecting for one of them to catch it.

Masaru and Mitsuki shared a look, not knowing exactly what to do now. It was the first time a parent-teacher meeting went in a different direction and while they had been wanting this for so long, now that they had a teacher looking more into their son they didn’t knew what to expect of it.

Mitsuki was about to take the bait, but Masaru looked at her knowingly and she let him have the word.

“We’re listening,” Nedzu’s smile widened, content with this outcome.

“Bakugou-san, I’m not a psychologist but I am a teacher. And contrary to what most people probably think about my position in UA as a Principal, which indeed makes me really busy, I try to get a grasp on all of my students, as many as they can be,” and it was true. He truly believed that the future was in the children and he intended to help in the education of every single one of them-- even the seemingly lost causes, like the leader of the League of Villains.

“Your son is a wonderful boy, with a bright future ahead of him. However, he have issues that can become serious problems if not treated soon. Not only to his future job as a Pro Hero, and therefore as an example for the general public, but also to him as an individual-- especially now, that he’s a young man growing. Tell me, since when he has this level of anger issues and has been attacking his classmates?” he decided to let the parents guide from there, knowing that way he’d get even more information from the boy.

Both parents frowned; the woman’s being more evident than the man’s. It was obvious that the topic was troubling for them, but Nedzu knew that it had been delayed for far longer than he assumed and it was time to fix that.

This time, it was Mitsuki’s turn to speak.

“Something happened?” In the outside, she looked almost angry, even a bit threatening. But Nedzu could see through her, and a tremble on her eyes showed him that another main emotion in her.

Fear.

“Nothing major or worth addressing here, just his regular treatment with his classmates,” Nedzu answered not too quickly, not to slowly. “But from the information his previous school send us and from what we’ve seen as faculty members, it’s not hard to connect the dots.”

Mitsuki and Masaru looked at each other, both equally troubled. It was hard for them to speak openly about their son, especially with their internal resentment towards school authorities, but Nedzu was clever and witty, and he knew exactly which buttons press to get the answers he suspected.

The silence stretched and the parents understood that the Principal was waiting for them to answer to his question. After an intense eye to eye conversation, Mitsuki gritted her teeth and spoke.

“Katsuki is not exactly the best handling his emotions,” she said, at first with a scowl but then softening her features, guilt swarming her eyes, “The brat’s explosive, just like his quirk... and like me. He’s not exactly the nicest kid in the bunch, we know that, and he has some bad encounters before, but we’ve tried to solve it.” She had always considered herself a strong woman, who had no problem on giving a piece of her mind. However, the inquisitive look of the not humanly Principal made her uncomfortable, making her wonder if it wasn’t her the problem.

Masaru disagreed and quickly intervened.

“Katsuki is a sensitive boy,” he added, knowing the scandal his son would do if someone heard him say that. “He feels things with more intensity than others and maybe he has trouble expressing himself around his classmates. He’s brash and impulsive most of the times, but he’s not a bad kid,” he felt a surge of fatherly protection towards his boy, which made him look less meek than people usually saw him and more resolute.

His son wasn’t a bad kid.

But Nedzu knew that already. In his opinion, there we not inherently bad children, just mislead ones.

“I know, Bakugou-san. But the thing is that your son’s temperament problem is a reality and is affecting more aspects of his life than you probably know-- as teachers, we can have a good insight about the magnitude of it and I assure you is something that we are not going to ignore. However, is actually quite understandable for me after reading his middle school file.” He turned the file and pushed it towards them, encouraging them to take it.

Masaru took it and Mitsuki peeked it.

“Dealing with prodigy children is hard, especially for regular schools. I’m sure that it wasn’t intentional, but the under stimulation and over praising in your son lead him to have impossible expectations not only in others, but also and especially in himself,” Nedzu explained, recalling the very few cases of gifted students he had in the past and using that knowledge for the current situation. “That could perfectly lead to self esteem issues, which leads to many problems, including difficulty at handling and expressing emotions in various personal situations. In your son’s case, it’s clear that his frustration venting has been through anger and aggression.”

The file was long forgotten over Masaru’s lap, both parents’ eyes glued to the tiny, but highly intelligent animal in front of them.

They had known that Katsuki was especial. Heck, they were so proud of him at his early development, how could they not? But the way Nedzu was connecting everything about him, from his achievements to the fact that even the teachers overlooked his behaviour problems in order to favour his potential and how that could be the simplest explanation for his exploding temperament that only grew over the years... it made so much sense.

How could they not see it?

How could they not see how much Katsuki was probably suffering from it?

“Parents can only do much, Bakugou-san.” Nedzu spoke before anyone of them could do it, startling them enough to stop the terrible feelings that were plaguing them. “Even with all your efforts, the environment that you could not control was going to affect Katsuki. As you said, and I agree, Katsuki is sensitive, more than people think, to what others think and say about him.” It was impressive how much domain Nedzu had at speaking, like he just knew exactly what he had to say to ease the increasing anxiety in Masaru and Mitsuki.

The woman wanted to say something, probably argue, but he gripped her hand once more and motion her to breathe.

“I hate to say it, but he’s right, Masaru,” Mitsuki muttered, her scowl firm but a defeated note hidden in her voice. “This has gone way out of our hands... what if he’s still bullying Izuku-kun? Or someone new?” she asked her husband, momentarily forgetting the presence of the Principal.

Masaru shared her fears and quickly turned to face Nedzu.

“What can we do, Nedzu-san?” Masaru asked, knowing that they weren’t called just to address Katsuki’s issues but to discuss a solution.

“I’m glad that you asked,” the Principal stood up, walking towards the window and looking at the nice day before them. “UA has a very qualified staff in every aspect our students need. We have a person with the qualifications to treat students with issues and I think that your son would do really well, in time, with their help.”

Mitsuki couldn’t stop herself and snorted, quickly apologizing to the Principal for doing it.

“I’m sorry, Nedzu-san,” even if it was a snort, which everyone could see as mocking, Nedzu noticed the conflicted look in the woman’s face. “But Katsuki is not exactly going to accept going to school’s counsellor. He’s a stubborn little prick and he’d refuse any gesture that could be seen as a weakness.”

Nedzu nodded solemnly, not taking any offense on the woman’s words.

“I understand, Bakugou-san. In your son’s case, I recognize that it’s not going to be easy, for any of us, but is in my best interest to help him and I assure you, this is extremely necessary and we can’t delay it anymore,” and he meant it. If it wasn’t school counsellor, Katsuki needed treatment as soon as possible, before he’d do something even he couldn’t shield back his huge, but fragile ego.

“I believe you, Nedzu-san, but you don’t know our son the way we do and I believe me when I say that Katsuki’s going to see it as if we’re telling him that he’s weak and that’s not going to work.” She didn’t wanted to argue with him, but she knew her son like the palm of her hand and she could spot a bad plan of action kilometers away.

And this wasn’t a really solid plan.

After Mitsuki confronted him again, like a troubled parent would do, Nedzu looked at her intently with that disturbing smiling face. It was uncomfortable, to say the least, and when he turned to Masaru, the man’s more expressive face betrayed him and revealed how uneasy he felt, not with him, but with this whole situation.

The silence in the office stretched a bit more and then Nedzu spoke.

“Words can kill, Bakugou-san.”

The temperature in the office dropped, or at least that was the Bakugous impression.

There was something on the way Nedzu talked. It was the clinical precision in his tone, a perfect balance between comprehension, professionalism and a subtle edge that made them feel goosebumps and a chill in their very core.

“I believe that Katsuki has done many good and bad things in his life. I understand where your son’s behaviour comes from, but in no way I excuse his actions, past, present or future. I’m the Principal of UA and I’m here to teach, guide and protect all of my students. We want to help your son before he does something that he’ll truly regret, but we can’t do it without your help and compromise.” Every word was coated with a weight that resonated with them, but it wasn’t until the last sentence that they felt shook. “We can provide the help, but we can’t reach your son. That’s your job as his parents.”

Masaru saw a drop of sweat breaking through Mitsuki’s impeccable skin and he could swear that he had never seen her like that before. They were speechless and leaving Bakugou Mitsuki shaken and speechless was a feat no one before had achieved.

“Nedzu-san,” he called him with caution, earning his attention. “Thank you very much for calling us. I’m really grateful to UA, for looking for my son’s education and well being. You don’t know how much it means to us. Can you give us some time to speak to Katsuki about this?” he asked, sounding as reasonably as he could.

Nedzu smiled and it was like an invisible veil was lifted from over them.

“But, of course,” he clapped softly, smiling a bit less coldly. “I trust that we can work together to help Katsuki be the best person and hero he can be.” It sounded so hopeful that the discomfort started to fade slowly.

With respectful handshakes and a promise to be called soon, the Bakugous took their leave after Nedzu gave them the card of UA’s student counsellor, in case they wanted to investigate them. Masaru and Mitsuki walked hand in hand, very close to each other.

The woman wanted to be mad, but the more she thought it, the less she could blame the Principal. She felt attacked, she felt exposed, but Nedzu was always polite, professional and spoke nothing but the truth.

The harsh true.

A grip from her husband’s hand broke her mental bubble, making her look at him.

“We’re going to be fine,” he said, a promise in his eyes and a unsure smile on his lips.

Mitsuki looked at him intently and return the grip, leaning on him physically and emotionally.

She really wanted to believe him. He had never lied before, so he didn’t had any reason to start now.

But the conversation with the Principal, her tighten heart, his trembling smile, the images of a small boy with green hair and burn marks all over his arms, the pain and confusion on Inko’s eyes and her own son, who has never been so far from her reach like right now and that only looked, with every new day at UA, more and more away...

“Yes... we will.”

It was hard to believe.


 

It was the end of the morning period. Hitoshi was looking for the book he read during lunch break when his Class President called him, earning more than a few curious looks from the rest of the class. He hated the feel of their judging eyes, never gentle when they were directed towards him, so he retrieved his book and went with his Class President, who was waiting for him by the door.

“Shinsou. Mic-sensei is calling for you.” It was all what the President said, nodding quietly and soon leaving him alone, like he was already used to.

Hitoshi accommodated his book lazily under his armpit and began walking towards the teacher’s lounge, already forgetting about the President’s behaviour.

When he was in middle school, his peers’ reactions and later behaviour around him after they found out about his quirk hurt him. He had been a sad, lonely student through all middle school, but it let him hardened to those kind of people, who he quickly understood were the vast majority. No one liked someone with a quirk used to mess up with your mind, so now, even when in UA his classmates weren’t worse than his class in middle school, he didn’t exactly had friends.

He didn’t minded, though. At least, that was what he said to himself everyday.

‘Furthermore, they’re all competition,’ he thought, his goal clear and strong.

It didn’t took long for him to arrive to the teacher’s lounge. The room was empty of teachers but Present Mic, who was clearly waiting for him.

“Oh! Shinsou!” Mic greeted him with his usual loud voice and Hitoshi flinched a bit at the volume. “Sorry, sorry. I keep forgetting not to shout,” and Mic proceeded to chuckle more to himself than anything, but that in itself perked Hitoshi’s attention.

Was Mic always this loud and obnoxious?

The blond offered the boy a sit and Hitoshi complied, still unsure of why he was there. Mic was his english teacher and nothing else, so it made him more curious than annoyed that the man called for him.

“Sorry for calling out of the blue. I wanted to do it before, but I’m coming back from Recovery Girl’s office and I lost track of time, so I couldn’t talk to your homeroom teacher, so...” Mic was rambling and he was unconsciously talking louder and louder, which was quickly becoming painful. Hitoshi was about to point him out that, considering that his eardrums would be soon suffering seriously instead of just being annoyed, but then he noticed how the blond was fumbling with his hands, caressing the back of his neck in an almost nervous way.

“Is Aizawa-sensei okay?” he asked even before processing his thoughts, voice hurried that it startled them both. No one knew if the injured teachers were already discharged from the medical wing and if Mic was coming from Recovery Girl’s...

Mic suddenly recognized his own nervous tics, clasping his hands together and trying to not show any more of his emotions to Hitoshi.

It was too late for that, anyway.

“Yes, he’s getting better,” he answered, wondering how much information the school staff has already disclosed about the attack. “He’s getting discharged this night, so he’s doing great.” His speech was a bit hasty and strained, but the news were good, so Hitoshi didn’t minded. More than anything, he was relieved.

“However, Recovery Girl hasn’t cleared him to return to the school and I know you and Midoriya are being tutored by him,” he cleared his throat, moderated his voice volume and tried to convey a more serious and professional image. “Since Midoriya is also on medical leave, I called you to tell you that your tutoring sessions won’t be resumed until next week.” He communicated to the boy, remembering the last conversation he had with the old woman. A wave of exhaustion hit him hard and it took a lot of him to cover it up; it was something so simple, just pass along a message for Shouta, why it felt so tiring?

Hitoshi was half listening after the confirmation that his Sensei was getting better, focusing on the small details that suddenly were so visible on the blond man. His hair was up in that ridiculous fashion, but it looked a little dishevelled; he was wearing his usual glasses, but when the light hit them in a specific angle, he could see through and almost noticed the how dull his eyes looked (caused by fatigue and the pronounced bags under his eyes), but then a certain words spiked his attention, distracting him from what he was doing.

‘Midoriya too?’ but the news and police report talked about injured teachers, not students...

Then why he was on medical leave? It made no sense.

A little frown drew wrinkles in Hitoshi’s forehead and Mic felt crestfallen, but also touched.

It was so nice to see how students cared for Shouta.

“Hey,” Mic called him up, making Hitoshi flinch. “He’s okay. He’s strong and he’ll be back in no time, so no more frowny face, okay?” he stretched the sides of his mouth, making a ridiculously big smile that made him uglier, but almost got an involuntary chuckle from the boy.

Almost.

Hitoshi nodded, not wanting to admit out loud that the blond’s words reassured him a bit. He didn’t liked this teacher much, considering that he was loud, obnoxious and annoying in his opinion, but the man didn’t look like he was acting as much as he did when he just entered the teacher’s lounge and for some reason, he felt better just by seeing him more natural.

Ridiculous, still visibly tired, but more himself.

“Thanks, Sensei,” he thanked Mic.

Mic began acting up again, trying to cover whatever he was feeling for Hitoshi’s sake and the ‘annoying’ alarm blasted again. He sucked it up and said or did nothing, only walking towards the door to go to the cafeteria and buy lunch.

However, when he was about to exit the room, he stopped.

Resting his left hand on the side of the door frame, he turned a bit, which didn’t go unnoticed by Mic. He saw the boy opening his mouth, clearly with the intention to say or ask something, but he stopped midway and slowly closed his mouth again.

“Is there something wrong, Shinsou?” he asked carefully, trying to read the boy but too tired to do it.

Hitoshi shook his head, saying it was nothing and bid goodbye, leaving a quite confused and crestfallen Mic behind.

He gripped the spine of the book and gritted his teeth, almost chewing the question he was seconds away to ask.

“He’s just competition.” He reminded himself, trying hard to brush off the image of Midoriya and the slight worry (scratch that, it was just curiosity, you don’t worry about people you don’t care about, right?) that washed him after the mention of him being on medical leave.

He wasn’t there to make friends. Much less with a cocky student from the heroics department.

Worry was unnecessary.


“Iida-kun!” Ochaco called him, but said boy was walking so fast that only because his engines weren’t fuming she knew he wasn’t using his quirk to get away from her. “Iida-kun! Please!” But he wasn’t listening to her and her patience was running thin.

After noticing that the boy had no intention to stop or listen to her, she ran towards him and touched his back with all her fingers, activating her quirk. The result was immediate as Tenya lose his footing, suddenly floating slowly but surely to the roof.

“Uraraka-san, this isn’t funny at all,” he grumbled, his arms fumbling as he tried to get a grip on anything, but it was futile. His head smacked against the roof of the hall and it was fortunate that everyone else was busy eating lunch at the cafeteria or this scene would be as ridiculous as it was embarrassing.

He glared at her, but her frown only deepened.

If he was stubborn, she could be stubborn too.

“Uraraka-san, put me down. The reckless use of quirks in the halls is not allowed at school hours,” even when he was mad, his natural inclination to following rules made him say that and if Ochaco wasn’t as angry with him as she was right now, she’d have laughed at how silly he was being.

“Not until you stop running away.” Her voice was firm and it left no room for arguing.

Tenya frowned on his own, clicking his tongue childishly.

“Okay, you win. Now let me down please, before any teacher discovers us breaking the rules.”

Ochaco took a moment, looking him intently and when she was mildly satisfied with it, she released her quirk. Tenya was ready for the fall (it wasn’t a long fall either), but a painful shot ascending from his foot to his knee make him yelp, loosing balance and almost falling if it wasn’t for her reflexes. His hands flew to his ankle and he noticed it swelled.

“Your ankle! I’m so sorry, Iida-kun, I didn’t thought you’d get hurt,” Ochaco couldn’t see the swelling, but Tenya’s clearly pained expression was enough to tell her that he was injured.

“It wasn’t your fault, Uraraka-san,” he said hastily, not wanting her to blame herself for something she didn’t do. “I hurt my foot earlier when I--” Tenya began to explain, but cut himself after the hot anger that was firmly placed in his stomach started boiling again.

Ochaco immediately picked up the shift in mood and braced herself for a new run from Tenya, who had been evading her questioning looks, sneaky notes and frontal interrogation since he went out to look for Izuku and Bakugou that morning, returning alone after the explosive blond and with a cold stare that was extremely unlikely for him.

However, this time he didn’t run. Memories of the previous exchange flooded his mind, making it difficult to focus on anything that wasn’t Bakugou’s perplexed eyes, Izuku’s strangled and empty voice, and the cold fear that shook him to the core. But Ochaco’s presence was somehow soothing and even when he wanted to be alone, he knew it wasn’t the best idea. Otherwise, he’d go to finish what he should have done right after he confronted Bakugou and he really hated violence, but the anger was taking the best of him.

Then, the warm hand of Ochaco rested on his forearm and the girl’s worried expression forced him to breathe deeply and calm his racing, angry thoughts.  

“Iida-kun, please talk to me,” she pleaded, her heart tight. “What happened? Where’s Deku-kun? Why are you so angry?” she shoot many questions at once, fearing that Tenya would change his mind and leave her behind again.

He gritted his teeth and was incredibly tempted to just shut up, bottling up everything and dealing with it alone. He was used to do it, never wanting to burden his brother or parents and never having more than acquaintances (even when he wanted to fool himself and call them friends, they were never truly friends), but the longing and lonely expression in Ochaco’s eyes made him second guess.

He was pushing her away, wasn’t he?

“Uraraka-san…”

It was funny how someone so vocal like him, who had trouble controlling his voice volume and tended to meddle in other’s affairs, thinking that he was helping instead of bothering; someone like him, that was chosen as Class President, that tried really hard to embody the very concept of a hero, that praised shamelessly if he felt that someone deserved it because he believed if some was in need of support, it was right and necessary to give it… was so bad at communicating his own problems.

He was doing exactly what he never wanted his friends to do to him—silencing what make him uneasy, angry, sad, everything!

But it was hard to trust when you’re not used to. It was hard to ‘bother’ when you feel inadequate.

“Iida-kun, I know you know something… please, what happened?” Ochaco insisted, seeing how her words were finally reaching him.

He looked at the floor, ashamed for his inside turmoil but still so, so angry at Bakugou and also at himself, for not noticing before how unhealthy was Izuku’s exchanges with his so called childhood friend.

“What did Bakugou do?”

Ochaco took the liberty to chuckle a bit at Tenya’s incredulous face, which looked even more funny when his glasses slide down over the bridge of his nose, getting slightly crooked.

“Well, you glared at him when you came back and the moment he went out for lunch you did it again,” she explained to the puzzled boy. “You don’t have a good poker face.” It was easy to pick up that Tenya was angry, but exactly what was bothering him was something she could not figure it out alone, other than it involves Bakugou and most likely Izuku.

Tenya looked at the girl again and her face, her eyes... everything screamed that she was someone trustworthy.

She was his friend.

He took a long, slow breath and then carefully stood up, minding to not rest his weight on his sprained ankle.

“I’m sorry for avoiding you,” he began, adjusting his glasses with a practiced motion. “I promise I will tell you everything, but after classes. It’s not healthy for you to skip lunch and I should take this foot to Recovery Girl.”

The first part was totally true-- he was completely against unhealthy meal schedules and he has seen how Ochaco tended to overexerted herself during training, so she needed the energy and he was not going to take it from her, not even for a serious conversation. However the second part was more of an excuse, even when it was true that he intended to go to Recovery Girl’s office-- his quirk relayed completely in his lower body train and school wasn’t over. He just needed some alone time to order his thoughts, calm his fretting emotions and make his own resolves.

Ochaco saw how serious and true were Tenya’s words, so she nodded and agreed. She was worried about his ankle too, but she knew it would be nothing for Recovery Girl.

“After classes on the second training ground.” She raised up her right hand, her fist clenched except for her pinky. “Promise?”

At the rather childish gesture, Tenya couldn’t fight back a small smile and maintaining his balance with practiced ease, he raised his own hand and locked their pinkies.

“Promise, Uraraka-san.”

The girl, not completely satisfied but trusting their compromise, smiled at the boy and went to the cafeteria, feeling her stomach grumble at the idea of food. Tenya saw her leave and when he was alone in the hall, he rested against the wall and let a tired sigh out.

He hated being mad. It was exhausting.

A soft noise, followed by a mild vibration from the inner pocket of his school jacket distracted him. Puzzled, he took out his phone from the pocket, looking at the caller’s ID.

“Tensei?” he asked himself out loud, quickly pressing the green button before he missed the call.

Bro! I’m not interrupting anything?” Tensei’s voice almost boomed through the speaker, but Tenya didn’t minded.

“Not at all. I’m on lunch hour right now, so I’m free to talk,” he answered, an unconscious smile tugging his lips slightly up. “Did something happened?”

Nah. But my brodar told me that little Tenya wouldn’t mind a quick call from his best brother,” the cheery tone made Tenya fully smile, softly letting his body slide down until he was sit on the floor, body resting against the wall.

“Of course you’re my best brother, but do you recall I have no other brother, right? It would be kind of difficult to have a better brother than you.”

Still! It’s never bad to hear it from you.

Tenya laughed and they kept talking about nonsense, his trip to the infirmary completely forgotten. 

Chapter Text

Inko was sitting at the edge of her bed, forming and reforming Kuro-chan over and over again.

It was a bad habit she had developed during stressful situations. Her ghost's presence was a symbol of normalcy and it comforted her, so every time she was stressed, like when her mother passed away or when her husband left her with a two-year-old Izuku to raise by herself, she'd summon him until she couldn't do it anymore.

Last time she had done it was when Izuku's quirk emerged.

So, as everyone could guess, Inko was having a really bad time now.

While Kuro-chan wandered through the apartment, doing casual chores out of muscle memory, she read and re-read the last texts Izuku's therapist had sent her. She wanted to call him again, but she knew that doing it wouldn't change their current situation.

With a heavy heart, she left her phone on the night table and went to check on her son, hoping to see him awake. For the past two days, he had been more asleep than awake, and her own anxiety was through the roof.

She knew it was a relapse, Kaito had explained to her from the beginning that it was expected from patients like Izuku. But not even he could have expected the magnitude of this relapse and she wasn't exactly patient in that aspect-- she knew that the higher dose of his medication wouldn't resolve the matter in such short time, but she craved his smile so much that it hurt.

What kind of mother couldn't help her own son?

Slowly, minding to not make any loud noise, she pushed his bedroom door open and poked her head in, letting her eyes get used to the darkness.

Izuku was sound asleep.

She let out a sad sigh and let him sleep.

'At least he's not messing around,' she thought, trying to get a grip on any reassurance she could have.

As silently as she came, she left and dragged her feet to the kitchen. From the light noise she could hear, she guessed that Kuro-chan was washing the dirty dishes they left from lunch (Izuku barely touching the food she brought to his bedroom). When the ghost appeared in her range of sight, she felt a tug in her chest and a dull pain made her weep.

She missed her boy. She missed his ghost. Their house felt empty and not even Kuro-chan's presence could fill the void.

The doorbell's ring startled her so much that Kuro-chan dropped a glass, shattering it into tiny pieces.

With her heart racing, worried for Izuku's sleep, she hurried to the door while focusing on making Kuro-chan disappear. She opened it just in time before the bell rang again and before her five kids around her son's age were waiting.

"Good afternoon, Miss! We're terribly sorry for bothering you, but we wanted to know if we could visit Midoriya," the tallest of the bunch spoke first, his loud and formal voice making her hush him in the least rude way she could.

"Shh, Izuku is sleeping." His room was the closest to the front door, so he'd be able to hear everything if they were not quiet enough.

The tall boy made a surprised motion and bowed so deeply that Inko was sure his forehead smacked his knees.

"Sorry for my impertinence! I'll mind my volume from now on," he whispered, but it was still loud enough to be considered a normal voice volume for a casual conversation, which touched her a bit with his silliness.

"Ehem... we're Deku-kun's friends. We were worried about him so... we came to visit," a cute girl with brown hair said, her voice soft so as not to bother the sleeping boy by the hall.

Unconsciously, Inko flinched at the name she called him. She hadn't heard that terrible nickname in a long time, last time being when Izuku was still playing on the playground before middle school. It brought up so many bad memories to the woman, that for a second she doubted the girl's words.

But then she saw her face and how her eyes were warm and swarmed with genuine worry. And so did the other kids, except for the invisible girl who was... well... invisible, so she couldn't read her expression, but she was squirming in her place and seemed rather nervous. They all held worried looks and an impatient characteristic of kids that age, which made her apprehensive feelings diminish and so she lowered her motherly guard.

"Well... he's sleeping right now, but if you don't mind waiting, he should wake up in a bit." She wasn't so sure about this, considering that Izuku's night terrors were back and he usually woke up screaming. But those kids' faces and the idea of friends of her son made her keep up her offer, which was gladly accepted by the group.

She let them enter and quietly closed the door behind her. She guided the way after everyone took off their shoes and soon, everyone was sitting on a couch or a chair.

"Would you want something to dri-- oh, right, I already forgot this," she chuckled nervously, noticing the shards of glass scattered all over the kitchen floor.

"Please let me, Midoriya-san." The redhead quickly stood up and went near her, despite her warnings. She didn't want him to step on a shard of glass, but the boy seemed to understand it and smiled at her, so warm that it reminded her of Izuku's shining smiles. That ached. "Don't worry about me. My quirk won't let me get hurt." To prove it, he activated it and his tender skin became rock-hard, clearly too hard to be cut by a broken shard of glass.

Before she could do or say anything, he began picking up the broken glass and kindly asked where he could put them away. She pointed out the trash can, making a mental note to take the bag out as soon as possible, and the redhead discarded every last shard of glass, smiling again as if he had accomplished something great.

With her heart tight, she took out some juice and offered it to the kids again.

Soon, everyone but her had a glass of orange juice and an awkward silence fell upon them.

"It's so nice to see some of Izuku's friends. He tells me a lot about you." Inko was naturally a good host, even with her usual nervousness, so her mind didn't take long to begin a conversation with the kids, ignoring how her eyes felt dry and her muscles sore. "But I'm not good with names, so..."

Before she could continue, the loud boy interrupted again.

"How rude of us!" He seemed scandalized, which was actually a bit funny even with her saddened mood. "Let's us introduce ourselves. My name is Iida Tenya, Class President," he began, pointing with two stiff hands at the one sitting next to him, which was the cute girl with rosy cheeks.

"I'm Uraraka Ochaco. It's really nice to meet you, Midoriya-san. You and Deku-kun are like two drops of water!" And it was true. The rest had also already noticed the physical resemblance between mother and son, which was outstanding.

"Asui Tsuyu. You can call me Tsuyu-chan, Midoriya-san," continued the girl with large and inquisitive eyes, making a sound suspiciously like a croak.

"Okay, Tsuyu-chan," she complied, and the sweet smile that the girl gave her was worth it.

"I'm Ki--! Ngh-" The redhead was elbowed by Tsuyu.

"Don't shout, Kirishima-kun." It was a sharp jab, but the boy didn't seem too affected and only smiled sheepishly, bowing his head a little to Inko, as if asking for forgiveness.

"My bad, heh. I'm Kirishima Eijirou." Inko noticed that his teeth were pointy, like a shark's, but it surprised her that it didn't affect the brightness of the smile and again, the similarity between him and Izuku made her heart heavy.

"And I'm Hagakure Tooru, but you can call me Tooru." The invisible girl finished the round of presentations, moving a lot more than the rest of the group. Maybe it was a habit, considering she was unseen?

Inko briefly thought if Kuro-chan would look like she was seeing Tooru if she dressed him up, but the laughable thought was soon out of her mind, leaving only the vague threat of an upwards tug in her mouth.

Repeating each kid's name mentally, she nodded and smiled politely at them.

"I'm happy to meet all of you. I believe Izuku has told me some things of most of you and I've always wanted to meet his friends."

'But not in these circumstances,' her mind crudely added. Her smile briefly faltered and even when she tried to look normal, the kids noticed that something was wrong. Inko wasn't exactly good at hiding her emotions.

"Midoriya-san, how's Deku-kun?" Uraraka asked as softly as she could, afraid to sound rude. But she was worried about him, and after not having any notice in the last two days and from what Tenya told her two afternoons ago, her mind began playing many unpleasant thoughts.

"He's getting better." She didn't want to lie, but Izuku's health wasn't something that either of them disclosed easily to anyone. She wasn't ashamed of her son, not for even one second, but she respected his decision to deal with his issues as privately as he could, so she wasn't going to rat him out. "I'm sure your visit will help him very much." She really hoped so.

"Has he..." Tooru tried to sound cheery and confident, but her voice wavered and Inko looked at her worriedly, wondering what could possibly be crossing the girl's mind. "Is he mad at us?" she finally asked, playing with her hands (or so Inko thought, assuming by the movement of her sleeves).

That threw Inko off. Why would Izuku be mad at them?

From her confused expression, Kirishima and Tooru looked at each other and simultaneously they looked at Tsuyu, as if the frog-like girl could help them with her bluntness. However, she only croaked and said nothing, her face unchanging-- it was impossible to read her mood.

Ochaco was about to say something, maybe voicing her concern about the (in her opinion) weird and misplaced incident two mornings ago (the guys still refused to tell them what happened, drowning in shame and guilt), but something caught Inko's eye, distracting her from the children.

Yūrei was by the hall, silently gliding. It was good that she removed the photos from those walls or they'd have fallen.

"Yū-chan..." she murmured under her breath. Izuku was awake.

"Is there something wrong, Midoriya-san?" Kirishima's voice startled her, making her too conscious of the presence of her son's friends with her.

"Oh no, dear. I thought I heard movement from the hall, so Izuku's probably awake now," she swiftly lied, already second nature considering all the times she had to cover up Kuro-chan's presence during her life.

The children's faces lit up, a few more obvious than others.

"Can we see him, Midoriya-san?" Ochaco seemed pretty impatient and she was almost bouncing in place. Tooru looked the same and Kirishima was already up.

At the view of this kids, all worried and happy to be able to see her son, her eyes misted. This was exactly what she had always dreamed and wished for her boy and the view warmed her heart and let the anxiety she felt during those days be muted, at least for a while.

Discreetly looking by the hall to check if Yūrei was still there, feigning to wipe tiny tears from the edge of her eyes (which were actually there), she smiled after noticing that the ghost wasn't there anymore (probably went back to Izuku's room) and nodded, standing up with them.

"Of course. It's the door with the All Might plate."

She intended to guide them, not wanting Izuku to be suddenly overwhelmed by the presence of his friends, afraid of a negative impact rather than a good one, but she noticed that only three of the five rushed to the hall, leaving Tenya and Tooru behind.

She was about to ask them why they were left behind (even when she noticed that at least one of them seemed hesitant to follow the group) when the girl's words sent chills down her spine.

"Yū-chan... I like it. It's a cute name for it." Inko swore that Tooru turned to her smiling, but Inko was too shocked by her words to react accordingly.

Instead, her mouth was agape, shock flashing through her green eyes like lightning.

"Wha--"

"Tooru-chan, don't lag," Tsuyu interrupted, waiting for the girl.

"Mhm!"

And the girl was gone, leaving a confused and unsettled Inko behind her.

Instinctively, she felt a cold fear gripping her heart like a claw. What did Tooru mean by 'it'? It couldn't be possible that she was able to see Yūrei standing there. She wasn't like Inko and Izuku; obviously, her quirk had something to do with her invisibility.

Then how?

Before her troubled thoughts could haunt her anymore, a hand rested on her shoulder just a bit, with much respect, grounding her once again.

"Midoriya-san, may I speak to you for a moment?" Tenya asked. The boy looked serious, but also conflicted, chasing away her fears for a bit while a wave of sympathy overtook her.

Still a bit dazed and a bit short of breath, she nodded, and the boy stood up firmly, almost in a military fashion.

"I don't mean to intrude and you've no obligation to answer whatsoever, but what kind of history do Midoriya and Bakugou have?" the boy asked, this time lowering his voice for real. He looked dead serious and she could have sworn she saw a flare of something akin to anger in his eyes.

But just like Izuku, Inko wore her heart on her sleeve and Tenya could see how crestfallen she looked the instant Bakugou's name was pronounced.

'So she knows,' he thought, not knowing if that made him angrier or not.

Inko took a couple of seconds to compose herself and think through her answer. Izuku's issues with Bakugou weren't something she would freely share, considering that it was up to him if he trusted his classmates with something so painful of his past (and present, even if she didn't knew that). But the worry and anger she could sense from Tenya was something she wasn't going to tone down, so she finally gathered the right words and answered him.

"I'm in no place to answer that, Iida-kun. But I can assure you that I trust Izuku with his decisions and that if he tells me that, deep down, Katsuki-kun is not as bad as he wants to appear, I believe him," she said, a stern but earnest look in her eyes.

With a motherly gesture, she gently took Tenya's right hand and gripped it softly, trying to convey what she felt. The gesture disarmed the boy and without meaning to, his brother's face crossed his mind.

For a second he was speechless, but then a shift in his expression surprised Inko, which only grew when he firmly took her hand with his two hands and looked at her with the most confident face she had ever seen (aside from her son's, of course).

"Midoriya-san, I swear that, as Midoriya's friend, I won't let him suffer any unnecessary pain," he stated as if it was a life promise (and only then she remembered how Izuku always told her that he found it funny the way Tenya always took everything to heart) and then he bowed again, as correctly and exaggeratedly as before. "After all, what are friends for, but to support, protect and have recreational time together!" And with that last one, he completely forgot to lower his voice, almost shouting it.

In the background, a (not so) faint 'YEAH, MAN!' could be heard from Izuku's room and some scolding too.

Inko could only stare the young man for a second and then laugh light-heartedly, tears rolling down her cheeks, alarming Tenya.

"Midoriya-san! I'm sorry if I said something that upset you! I take back anything that could have--!" But Inko cried a little more, laugh dying and a trembling smile so alike her son's that for Tenya, it was hard to not see his friend in the woman.

"You said nothing wrong, Iida-kun," she sniffed, using her sleeve to clean her messy face. "You just... I'm so happy that Izuku has such good friends," she confessed, tearing up a bit more, making her nose and cheeks a darker shade of pink.

And then she laughed a bit more, impressed of the instant transition of the boy from anxious from her crying to bashful, face red-- all from a few words.

"Thanks for being Izuku's friend." She smiled, truly happy, making him feel more embarrassed if it was possible.

"N-Nothing to thank for, Mi-Midoriya-san!" The boy was too funny for his own good. She now understood Izuku.

"Come. Izuku is waiting." She wiped the last tears from her eyes and cheeks, guiding the tall boy to her son's bedroom.

When they arrived, shortly after the rest of the group, they were a bit taken aback by the human pile (a supposed group hug, but it really looked more like a human pile) that was over Izuku's bed. The boy was openly crying (a mixture of sadness, disbelief and happiness), and all his friends were trying to hug him at the same time, being quickly infected by his tears.

Inko felt fresh tears again and she noticed how Tenya did everything not to cry himself, saying something about how improper it was and how Izuku needed smiles, not tears. Tsuyu used her long tongue to drag him by the arm, making him trip until he was added to the group hug, a tint of pink over his cheeks.

Inko cried happy tears.

Her son had good friends.


The following week, Izuku and Aizawa came back, the former on Monday and the latter on Tuesday, still recovering but with the foul mood of someone who's sick of being bedridden. It was a fortune that Mic escorted him to the classroom (to Aizawa's dismay), since the kids' excitement made them forget that their teacher was in no shape to receive a group hug and they would have hurt him inadvertently if it wasn't for Mic's intervention.

After Tenya's exaggerated apology in the name of the class and everyone promising that they wouldn't stress Aizawa more than necessary, Mic left them alone and Homeroom Hour started with an, in other circumstances, extremely exciting announcement.

The Sports Festival was probably one of the most important events in Quirk History that was held in Japan. Before the Quirk Era, there were other sports games but with the inclusion of the new genetic factor, the Olympics were left behind and UA's Sports Festival became one of the main entertainment events and a vital moment for every student as a future Pro Hero.

Needless to say, everyone was aware of the importance of the upcoming event.

But their reactions were far from the excitement that anyone could have thought of.

"Sensei..." Mina was the first to raise her voice, worry painted on her features much like the rest of the class (some a lot more obvious than others). "Is it...hm..." She was struggling to find the proper words, but ultimately was Mineta who took the word and startled most of the class, his voice pitched high.

"How can UA think of hosting the Sports Festival with what happened, Sensei!" He stood up so quickly that his chair scratched the floor painfully and it was only by Shoji's quick reflexes that it wasn't thrown away.

"Of course they must do it! It's the Sports Festival we're talking about," Satou argued, but he also looked a bit uneasy with the news. "...am I right?"

A heavy silence fell over the classroom like an uncomfortable blanket, bitter memories filling everyone's mouth. It was hard not to agree with Mineta; a security breach like the one UA suffered recently and its consequences on Aizawa and Thirteen were too recent for them to feel remotely safe. It was easy to pretend that everything was fine and the way everyone, especially Tenya as Class President, was trying to achieve normalcy once again helped a lot. However, they weren't stupid and the scar left on them from the close encounter with the League of Villains was too fresh not only in them but in the media as well. The national news still broadcast the ongoing investigation, centring more in the Police Department, but never leaving UA alone.

Even when the school's staff showed how expert they were at handling emergencies, increasing their security and making sure no unscrupulous reporter trampled on any of them only to get details of what happened that day, they weren't okay and they were not going to be soon.

Aizawa knew it and had been mulling over the matter for several days since he regained consciousness. Nedzu brought the matter to his and Thirteen's hands and they both agreed that the Festival had to be held, their health conditions aside.

"Satou is right, Mineta," he said, feeling his face itch from the bandages still covering part of it. His head had been the part of his body most injured and he had to leave the bandages on, especially over his eyes, for longer than he desired.

At those words, he gained the class attention again and quickly began explaining in his most monotonous, uninterested voice, trying to convey safety to his students in a very Aizawa fashion.

"UA's Sports Festival is too important for the nation to be cancelled by some random villain attack." Kaminari and Sero were about to argue with him about that, but a stern look that could be felt even behind the bandages was enough to shut them up. "UA is handling everything as we're expected to and not holding our main event would make us look weak. Which we are not," he emphasized.

"However, it won't be done on the regular date, but two weeks later." He didn't dwell on the details, not finding any reason to say that it was by Nedzu's insistence so he and Thirteen would have time to heal up completely before the Festival. "Which means that you have a month to prepare for it, so don't slack off and show what Class 1-A is made of."

The quiet, unsteady silence lasted a few seconds longer and then something in the air shifted; something invisible, but somehow tangible.

It was surprising how, even when he didn't intend to, his words lit a forgotten light in the children's eyes-- a fire that translated to a determination. His last words, to show what Class 1-A is made of, resonated with them in a way that Aizawa couldn't expect.

Yes.

They were Class 1-A. The class full of rookies that could repel a true villain attack and survive without casualties and only two heavily injured.

And a puny school event wouldn't stop them.

From then on, homeroom hour went by without any inconvenience. Aizawa briefed them with a few details that he wanted to share with his students, knowing that it would bring a bit of peace to their minds about the upcoming event, but otherwise it was centered on the things he missed, briefed by the always diligent Tenya, with a few annotations from Yaoyorozu, and some random, school-centered things from him.

The classes went by without much fuss, everyone slowly falling into a much-desired routine. Aizawa's comeback lifted their spirits and soon, they were the ever-chatty classroom they always were.

When lunchtime came, everyone noticed how the usual groups were not made. Or, to be more precise, they were but two of them were merged, all the people involved gathering around Izuku's desk.

"Hey guys, don't know 'bout you but I'm starving!" Kirishima declared, his stomach grumbling in agreement.

"I think starving is a bit of an exaggeration, Kirishima, but I understand the sentiment and I share it," Tenya said, quickly putting himself between Izuku's and Bakugou's desk in a way that could be considered rude, but Izuku only raised a brow subtly and said nothing about it.

"Yes! And I think there's also chocolate pudding today." Ochaco looked delighted by the prospect and Tsuyu nodded, croaking in delight too.

While Sero talked with his eyes with Kirishima, holding a curious but silent conversation between them (and Kaminari prodding confusedly, trying to make Bakugou say something and failing miserably), Izuku felt a bit overwhelmed, even a bit claustrophobic.

He wasn't as ungrateful to not appreciate what his friends were doing for him. Since their visit to his home (and proving to himself that, for the first time, he had friends that cared for him and were of his same age-- that made him cry hard), they texted him every day (Ochaco even called almost daily), Tenya and Ochaco went to pick him up from his home since Monday and at the school's gate they met with Tsuyu, walking the four of them to their classroom, where they would find Kirishima and Tooru waiting for them by the door.

He could see how they were trying to take care of him, even sort of shielding him from the rest of the class since his return the day before, and he was extremely grateful for that. It was the first time that someone did that for him at school and he had no words to express how full his heart felt in that precise instant, making him uncomfortable in a gentle way.

However, at the same time and for the same reason, he felt overwhelmed and at a loss. He didn't know how to act in that situation and even when he actively tried not to do it, his mind played tricks to him since their visit, making him believe that they were delivering friendship with borderline pity.

He didn't need pity. Not now, not ever.

"Go ahead guys, I need to go to the bathroom first." He measured his words, speaking with ease but also softly, not wanting to offend anyone but trying to get a moment for himself, regain a bit of his composure and then maybe even call Kaito quickly. His chest was feeling too tight for his liking and he really needed to call his therapist or at least text.

Nevertheless, he noticed how Tenya tensed and his eyes flew directly to Bakugou's back disappearing alongside a chatty Mina, Sero and Kaminari, the latter playing with his electricity to poke Sero on the side.

Tenya's eyes lingered a bit longer than intended, just a bit more to make sure that Bakugou was going away from the bathrooms, before looking at him again and feigning innocence. He tried so hard to look nonchalant that it was obvious that something was on his mind, but the overwhelming emotion and the tightness of his chest made him a bit slow, and against his better judgement (or not) he decided to not think about it much and forget it.

"We'll save you a seat," Ochaco said, linking her arm with Tenya's, almost yanking him from his place. Did she know something Izuku ignored about his friend?

"But hurry up, Midoriya-chan, or Ochaco-chan will eat your pudding," Tsuyu warned, making the girl blush.

"I won't!" she complained.

"But I will! So hurry up, Midoriya!" Kirishima shouted, already out of the classroom and ready to dash through the hall towards the cafeteria.

Izuku nodded at them, chuckling weakly at the prospect of his lost dessert and left the classroom alongside Ojirou and Tooru, the latter dragging the tailed boy and telling Izuku that they'd meet him at the cafeteria with the rest. Ojirou seemed a bit uncomfortable, still avoiding Izuku's gaze, but he also looked guilty and Izuku felt bad about it.

No one in the class had spoken to him yet.

He shook his head, trying to erase those dark thoughts. Jogging lightly and a bit hurriedly, he went directly to the nearest bathroom. Fortunately, when he entered, a boy was just leaving, so he was alone; he didn't want anyone to see him on the verge of panicking.

He grabbed the sink with both hands and with slightly trembling hands he let the water run, wanting to cool his head by splashing his face-- but the sight of water made him feel worse and soon, he was away from the sink and closer to the wall.

Izuku hated feeling that way, being overwhelmed by his own friends, but he decidedly focused on the mental voice that emulated Kaito's, instructing him breathing exercises to calm himself down. His self-loathing feelings poked at his mind, threatening to spill all over, but he resisted. He concentrated on his breathing, the smiling faces of his friends, the relief he felt the moment Aizawa crossed the door that morning and his breathing again.

Minutes passed and his racing heart began to slow down. He could hear the faint chatter of people by the hall, probably heading to the cafeteria and he remembered that his friends were waiting for him. They were going to worry and undoubtedly would come for him, which would be awful right now.

"Midoriya?" A voice suddenly startled him, sending his heart racing again and making him turn to see the owner of the voice with wide eyes, like a deer caught by a car's lights.

Izuku recognized him right away, being that bicoloured hair and scarred face hard to not recognize. 

Todoroki watched his classmate, confused and a bit disturbed by his state. Green eyes wide, sharp and afraid, erratic breathing and skin pale, bright with tiny drops of sweat. He didn't know what to do, he just wanted to use the bathroom before heading to the cafeteria when he found him that way; he had never thought that only calling him would scare him so much.

"To-To-Todor-roki-k-kun," he stuttered, a fake smile, clearly a reaction to the bad surprise, widening his mouth.

"I'm... sorry, I can go." Todoroki didn't know what to do, how to act or what to say.

"N-No-No!" He hastily said, almost out of voice. "Just... j-just give me a-a min... mi-minute." He grabbed his chest and looked away, hiding his face.

He was mortified.

How bad could it be that the most mysterious, serious and detached classmate would catch him mid panic attack? It was so uncomfortable that he wanted to die of embarrassment.

Todoroki, not knowing what to do, just looked away and waited. This was not the way he pictured his lunch to go and he definitely wanted to be somewhere else, feeling too awkward for his own comfort. Izuku had always seemed like a weak boy with a weak personality, but with something mysterious about him that made him notice the boy, even for a second. After the incident in the USJ facility, his interest for this weird boy increased, but not exactly for good reasons.

However, finding him borderline panicking was unexpected.

This was bad. He was so bad with people. Why him of all people?

After what felt like an eternity, but probably was like five minutes, Izuku began to feel a bit more in control of himself. He could feel his lungs catching more air, which was good, but the situation was quickly making him blush and his self-loathing was increasing exponentially.

What kind of impression did he just leave on Todoroki?

"I'm... sorry... you had to see that," he apologized in a quiet voice, still not looking the boy. "I know it's a lot to ask, but could this be between us? I don't want... to worry anyone." His voice was consistently getting quieter and Todoroki had to make an effort to catch every word.

Todoroki nodded and it was followed by silence. He peeked, not understanding why Izuku wasn't saying something, and noticed how they both weren't looking at each other.

Oh...

"Sure," he said out loud. Would it be rude to just leave now?

The awkwardness stretched for a bit longer, a pregnant silence over them.

"I will... leave now." Todoroki pointed the door and slowly began to go.

Izuku meant to wait for him to go and then gather his lost composure and look for his friends, but a lighting fast thought crossed his mind and the urge of stopping Todoroki surged, shutting down his common sense and making him yell.

"W-Wait! Todoroki-kun!" They were both startled by his sudden cry, said boy stopping abruptly.

They looked at each other intently. Why was Todoroki always so hard to read? His serious stare made Izuku feel like he was bothering him (which was probably true) and he felt like he was a mess in comparison with the unmoving boy. But he had already stopped him and there was no turning back, so he swallowed with difficulty and, with dry lips, he spoke.

"Can I... can I ask you something?" he asked him before he could change his mind.

Todoroki didn't even blink, his heterochromatic eyes piercing holes in Izuku.

After a short moment of hesitation, he nodded.

Izuku took another moment, ignoring his previous apprehension and his empty stomach, and grabbed again the same thought that moved him to stop Todoroki.

Tempted to lower his gaze, he fought against it and faking strength, he asked,

"What happened during the attack, just before I passed out?"

Chapter Text

For the first time during that weird exchange, Izuku noticed that Todoroki's stone expression faltered.

"Why are you asking me this?" He was genuinely confused. Izuku and he had never shared any words before and the boy had tons of friends to talk about this with.

So, why him?

Izuku played nervously with his hands, thoughts and ideas hard to catch. Was it too uncomfortable to have this conversation in the bathroom? Maybe Todoroki wanted to eat some lunch, which was understandable and reasonable? Maybe he was being selfish by holding him back to ask stupid questions, but he had noticed how his friends tended to avoid the topic completely and the rest of the class was still avoiding him, which was also understandable considering that he just returned yesterday and mostly Ochaco and Tenya were shielding him from everyone so he was rambling again, wasn't he?

"Yes, you are," Todoroki said, and Izuku blushed harder.

"Was I mumbling again?" It was stupid to ask, but he did it anyway.

Todoroki nodded and Izuku covered his face with his hands.

"I'm sorry." It was muffled, barely understandable. "But yeah... you're the only one that's not actively avoiding me and I thought you'd answer me honestly. Dunno, you just look like you would," he answered the unsaid question written in his classmate's eyes, which made him nod again, satisfied and quite impressed by Izuku's quick thinking.

The answer didn't come immediately, though. Izuku peeked through his fingers, noticing how Todoroki's eyes were fixed somewhere else, probably in his own mind. He must have been remembering the moment he asked for, but the serious expression was there again and it was making it difficult to read the other boy's face.

What could have possibly happened that the rest reacted the way they did and the distant prodigy of class 1-A took a moment before answering a simple question?

"You screamed and we froze." His voice sounded flat and his eyes were now fixed on Izuku's.

Yes, he knew that already. All Might had already told him that part, but it didn't explain everything else. If it was only that, he was positive that no one would have avoided him like the plague the day they returned to classes.

"And then, a shadow-like creature appeared between you and that guy out of thin air," Todoroki continued, his voice never betraying any emotion. It was like he was talking about the weather, almost bored, but there was a kind of strain that Izuku couldn't pinpoint, but Todoroki could feel it in his own voice and it bothered him. "It lasted less than a minute, gone in the blink of an eye."

And that was it.

Todoroki's scrutiny made Izuku felt exposed. There was something on those mismatched eyes that made him feel vulnerable, like if the other was looking in his face for his secrets, disassembling all of him in order to take those out. It was so unlike Aizawa's intelligent gaze, which was harsh but with a hint of understanding that lessened the impact that Todoroki's had now.

Izuku just noticed how he was slightly trembling and had to force himself to not hug himself.

Was it colder?

"Midoriya," Todoroki called and he flinched. "What is your quirk?"

It was funny that it was the first time that someone had asked him that since school started, at least seriously. Izuku was uncomfortable under the harsh stare of the other boy, feeling threatened and found himself unable to hold it for much longer, looking away and contemplating their reflexes on the mirror.

He was startled to see Yūrei standing behind Todoroki. His breathing unconsciously started to pick up, subtle enough not to be noticed by him, but not enough to go unnoticed by Todoroki's trained eye. He followed Midoriya's gaze, but he only saw the two of them alone in the bathroom.

And then, just by recognizing a veil of scepticism hiding a hint of confusion in Todoroki's eyes reflection, Izuku understood.

Power.

Yūrei was invisible for everyone but him and his mother and he knew that. He never had trouble with that knowledge, but he also hadn't looked into it before; it just was, nothing else. But know, in this situation, a new light of understanding threw him off and suddenly, the bathroom felt a lot smaller than seconds ago.

A nasty, yet ominous and seductive feeling caressed his heart, like treacherous fingers that threatened to grip his fragile core and shatter it the moment he less expected. It was a burning cold sensation that overflowed his whole being, sending dull electricity through his limbs, paralyzing his body and making everything so crystal clear that his eyes hurt.

He's vulnerable.

Yūrei was standing there without Todoroki knowing. His frame was thin and tall, looming over the boy, wings slowly stretching and a hand nearing him, moved completely by the same dark knowledge that was now drowning Izuku. His palm was wide open, his long and bony fingers so close to Todoroki's neck that it'd only take a little push to let the tip of the claws to run over the boy's spine, tearing up the tender flesh.

You could do anything.

He could see how Todoroki's sharp senses perceived something off, but wasn't able to find the source of it. He could feel how the boy's guard was suddenly up, the temperature in the bathroom dropping a few degrees, but the way his pupils dilated and his stoic face was being replaced by a frown let him see through the tough boy and almost see how the gears in his mind were running at full capacity, his more visceral side understanding a threat while his rational side was trying to find the source.

To anyone.

It wasn't fear. It wasn't anger.

It was a fight-or-flight reaction.

And in a fraction of second, Izuku understood two things.

First, Todoroki would fight, not flee.

And second...

And they'd never see it coming.

"No!" He cried, closing his eyes while pulling painfully his own hair, making Yūrei disappear so quickly that he felt his head splitting.

This wasn't what he wanted.

This wasn't the way he wanted to use his quirk, his power.

No.

This wasn't a hero's doing.

And his body rejected that depraved feeling so strongly that he felt ill. He had never seen his own quirk that way and suddenly he felt like if Yūrei was rotting in front of him.

But he wasn't going to let it happen.

"Hey, Midoriya, your food is going towoAH! What the hell is happening here?"

Kirishima's voice, coming out of nowhere, startled Izuku. He opened his eyes abruptly, finding him where Yūrei was before and with wide eyes taking turns between looking him and then Todoroki.

He saw his own breath as a white and diffuse cloud coming out of his mouth and at that, his brain processed what his eyes showed him.

The bathroom was completely frozen and ice spikes were dangerously tall and near him, all pointing to them.

"Hey! Todoroki! You gotta a problem with my man?" Kirishima's voice was suddenly less friendly and held an anger that Izuku hadn't heard before.

That seemed to catch Todoroki's attention, who looked barely disturbed but Izuku could see a weird shine in his eyes akin to perplexity, as if he himself wasn't sure of what just happened and was now realizing that he froze the whole bathroom. But that couldn't be true, since Todoroki was probably the best student in their class in quirk mastery, maybe a little behind Momo, but considerably better than any normal student. He would never lose control, right?

Right?

Todoroki and Izuku locked gazes once again and they both could suddenly read the other as clearly as clear water. Izuku saw a brief second of dilatation in his pupils, but then quickly they shrunk and they shone like steel, a predator-ish look; and Todoroki saw overwhelming remorse and guilt with a hint of a fear that wasn't directed at him, followed by a startle and his pupils were full-blown, flight instinct kicking in hard.

Slipping ungracefully, Izuku ran away taking Kirishima's arm in the way and dragging him with a strength the other didn't expect, making him trip. Todoroki stood there, looking at the frozen bathroom and then let out a deep sigh, watching it draw a puff in front of him.

He was... so, so confused. He had never felt on edge so strongly before without a good reason and the only times that he felt that way in the near past had all been related to Izuku.

"Midoriya..." he muttered, feeling a chill ascending his spine.

Just what the hell was this boy?

Meanwhile, it was up to Kirishima to stop the running boy, yanking his arm free as gently as he could, but making them both crash not too painfully. They were on the other opposite of the building, far away from the cafeteria. Izuku was breathing laboriously, his arm hairs still up from the cold.

"What was all that, back there?" he asked Izuku with an incredulous voice. He just went back for him, everyone considering that bathroom trip was taking too long, but he never expected to find Izuku cornered, much less by Todoroki.

Since Izuku was taking his time to regulate his breathing, Kirishima started to caress his back, hoping it would help. He looked back them, but no one was following them. The halls looked empty during lunch break, which was kind of normal, but also made him feel wary for some reason now.

"Relax, man, we're okay," he reassured his friend, his voice smiling but his eyebrows furrowed in worry. "He didn't do anything, right? Because if he did, I don't care he's--"

"He didn't," Izuku hastily answered, still processing what just happened. "I think... I-I think I just threatened Todoroki-kun," he admitted with a strangled chuckle, his voice one octave higher.

"What?!" Kirishima screeched, unable to believe what he was hearing.

Izuku chuckled nervously again and looked with increasing anxiety to Kirishima. The redhead was bewildered, but at Izuku's nervous chuckle he felt like doing so and soon they were both laughing quite awkwardly, feeling the impending danger that meant to threaten the strongest guy in the class all in a span of time of a lunch break.

"Oh gosh, I'm fucked," Izuku said and Kirishima was beyond surprise. The other didn't seem like someone who cursed; maybe not at Tenya's strict level, but more like Izuku's cinnamon roll level.

"It's not that bad," he lamely said, but he didn't believe his own words and clearly Izuku either.

"Did you see the bathroom back there?" if his words were racing, still a bit high pitched, Izuku didn't notice. His mouth was frozen in that nervous ear to ear smile and cold sweat was breaking his skin.

Kirishima chuckled again, as nervous as Izuku.

"I knew Todoroki was strong, but man... strong doesn't even begin to describe it," he said while running his fingers through his spiky hair. Only the best of the best go into UA, but Todoroki was way out of everyone's league.

Izuku laughed harder and uglier, anxiety through the roof.

"Don't make me start on Todoroki-kun's quirk! The possibilities within his actual level are so vast that if he really wants to kill me, he could do it in his sleep!" Izuku's mind was already busy depicting every possible scenario where the boy killed him in several different ways, each one of them a plausible reality considering how talented Todoroki was. Half of him was amazed by the incredible ways a quirk like this could be used and the other half was contemplating if someday, dying multiple times, it'd stop hurting.

But when the conversation turned abruptly to that road, Kirishima felt goosebumps and decided to stop it right now and right there.

"Hey, Midoriya, don't say that. Not even as a joke," he said, voice still a bit awkward and nervous, but with an undeniable serious note. "Look, did you want to threaten him or not?"

"Of course not!" Izuku shrieked, turning with wide eyes to look Kirishima. "I never wanted to, but--!"

"Then that's it, man. Don't sweat it. It was just a misunderstanding," the other interrupted, face erasing any trace of the uneasy smile to wear a more serious look. "Todoroki may be dark and mysterious and manly and all, but he's not a bad guy. He'll understand, okay?" He gave Izuku a half hug, circling Izuku's shoulders with one arm. A confident smile replaced his thoughtful look, lifting the heavy veil that was over them.

Izuku looked at his friend and even when he still felt uneasy, scared and anxious, the warmth of that smile made everything feel less heavy. It was still there, trying to drag him down, but it was as if Kirishima's presence, words and reassurance were chasing it away, even a bit.

Breathing shallowly, Izuku felt his mouth dry.

"Okay..." it was unsure and hesitant, but Kirishima smiled wider and it was almost blinding.

"That's it! That's the attitude, man!" He freed Izuku from the half hug and, noticing how reluctant the other still seemed; he took him from the wrist and began dragging him to the cafeteria, stomach growling loudly. "Fighting is manly, you know, but talking to solve problems is manlier. It will all be okay. Besides, how could whatever you told him be so bad that he'd react that way anyway?"

Kirishima had meant it with all the good intention, to ease the air between them and calm Izuku about the result of his and Todoroki's argument. So the moment Izuku forcefully retrieved his arm and stopped walking, he truly didn't understand why he was looking so serious, but at the same time so dejected.

"Midoriya?"

He looked at his face and looked how his lips moved without saying anything, like if a mental conversation tried to leak through his mouth without achieving it. His eyes had a sad glimpse, but the way his eyebrows furrowed weren't for sadness, but uncertainty and even, if he looked carefully, a shadow of fear.

"Kirishima-kun..." Izuku called him almost stuttering. "I need you to ask something, but I need the truth. Please." The way he emphasized the plead, how desperate he seemed for an answer, made Kirishima feel bad and an old, rusty guilt started to pool in his stomach.

"...sure?"

"The reason everyone acted the way you acted after we returned to classes... was it because you saw Yu-- a dark figure appear before me, just when I passed out?" he asked clenching his fists, remembering the ugly feeling that overcome him on the bathroom and doing everything in his power to reject it.

A pregnant silence fell over them, enhanced by the fact that they were alone. Izuku was so on edge for repeating the same question that lead him to this moment that he could hear his own blood running through his veins loudly and the way his heart pumped it through them.

The answer came seconds or a lifetime later.

"...yeah."

The confirmation opened the way for the vile feeling that was spoiling the very core of his quirk to come in, making bile rise on the back of his throat, negating that possibility to become a reality. But that simple word, coming from someone he already considered a friend, turned his world upside down and that intoxicating feeling was coming back, crashing against his frail being like violent waves.

"I won't lie to you, man, it was scary," Kirishima continued, memories glued to his eyes red hot, as vivid as that very same day. "Suddenly I couldn't move at all, not even talk; we were at those villain's mercy... and then that thing appeared and it was like straight out of a nightmare."

He didn't mean to offend him, but if he was going to be honest he needed to say it the way he felt it. Being unable to move for mysterious reasons was upsetting enough, it left him more vulnerable than ever, but the moment that thing appeared out of nowhere was a literal jumpscare; as brief as it was, it left a deep impression and he'd be lying if he didn't admit that it had appeared already in his dreams, like a haunting image that he could not forget.

And its relation with Izuku was undeniable, considering how it was in a protective stance, claws stretched towards Shigaraki, and its disappearance shortly after Izuku passed out, everyone still unable to move.

Kirishima looked at Izuku, how miserable he looked, and swallowing hard, he couldn't stop himself and asked.

"That thing... was yours, right?"

He wasn't the one who came up with that theory later, but Momo. Her voice had been hesitant, like if what she was saying was sacrilege, but Mineta was suddenly strongly convinced by it and everyone agreed to a degree in silence that theory, even when he tried to say that it might have been the work of another villain's quirk.

But the stillness of Izuku and the slow nod of confirmation settled it.

It took him less than a second to shake brusquely his head and define his own resolve.

"You're awesome, Midoriya."

It took him a moment to process the words and after he was sure that he had heard wrong, Izuku looked at the redhead, ready for the same snarky face his middle school classmates had when they sardonically said those exact same words.

But he only found an earnest, non-ironical look.

"...what?"

"Man, you're a box of surprises." Kirishima put his hands on Izuku's shoulders, warm palms clenching tightly, but not roughly. "I mean, it scared the fuck out of me? (Damn, I sounded like Bakugou...) but yes and it'll probably do again, so please warn me before summoning that thing. But man, I don't care if you have an army of skeletons or zombies or anything your quirk does--Tokoyami has a shadow demon thingy coming out from him, so--but hey, we're all a bit weird! But what's important is that you're my friend and I don't care about anything else, okay?"

Even when he could sort of pick up when the situation called for some inspirational speech or something, just like that exact moment, he was crap at doing so. He had nothing really inspirational to say, so he basically blurted the first thing that came into his mind and hoped for the best, adding his trusty smile to sweeten things up.

Nonetheless, even without his knowledge, he said exactly what Izuku needed to hear. It didn't diminish his self-hate, his doubts and his fears, but it was like a gentle breeze that caressed his everything and slowly began closing the door that had been unlocked and ajar since that fateful day, stopping the impending hate that he had been cultivating inside him from bursting in and ruining all he had grown since his suicide.

And sometimes, that's just enough.

"So no more brooding, it's unmanly," Kirishima joked, smiling again even if a bit unsure, not wanting to upset his friend anymore. "Because even if we don't know a lot from each other, even if we just met since the beginning of school year... you're my friend and that's all I care about. Finding out about our quirks, our hopes and aspirations, and going through it together... that's what makes friendship worth it, don't you think?"

Just like that day when Ochaco, Tenya, Tsuyu, Tooru and Kirishima went to his home just to check on him, showing him the first true demonstration of friendship for someone who had never felt anything near since his quirkless diagnosis, Kirishima's selfless words and carefree smile were enough to reassure Izuku that he wasn't being treated out of pity and that he wasn't alone at all.

And that helped him more than anything else.

"I guess..." he answered with a meek voice, but a tiny smile. Kirishima latched onto it and circled Izuku's shoulders again, walking together to the cafeteria.

"You bet! And I'm sure the rest feel just the same about all this," he said, remembering how bad Momo, Jirou and Ojirou felt. They just needed a little push and he'd be glad to help them.

"You think?" Izuku asked a bit unsure. The memory of what happened that day still made his heart ache and his doubts arise.

"Of course!" Kirishima answered with confidence. "And I can bet you your dessert on it!"

Izuku chuckled quietly.

"You just want my pudding, am I right?"

The boy blushed and laughed shyly, scratching his cheek with his index. There was no point in denying it, especially when his stomach grumbled, making his face match his head.

Izuku laughed a bit louder this time. For what Kirishima had done for him, he could have his pudding for as long as he wanted.


The teacher's lounge was in a ruckus, everyone getting ready for their after classes work or gathering their stuff to go to an agency or home. There was general chatter floating in the air and Shouta would be lying if he didn't admit to himself that he had missed that during his medical leave, even when he usually hated the noise that interrupted his naps.

It was good to be back.

Letting his body sink into his yellow sleeping bag and the little sofa where he was sitting on, he closed his still recovering eyes. He was beyond exhaustion, his body still not fully healed from the attack even when his colleagues were kind enough to facilitate everything (and also ignore his bothered stares, which were more prideful than genuine). But his mind was at peace, having seen with his own eyes that his students were unharmed and that they were getting excited about the UA's Sports Festival like normal teenagers should be. He craved for his daily life and he was so happy, even when his grumpy face didn't show it.

But Hizashi knew. And the number of cat memes and silly texts proved that.

"You look content, Aizawa-kun."

He jumped in his place, his tired body protesting but a subtle urgency showed that when he noticed that All Might wasn't in his "mighty" form, but in his scrawny true self, only known by a few people.

"Do not worry, Aizawa-kun. We're alone," the blond answered, noticing the other man's distress. "You sure are tired, though. Normally, you are a lot harder to read." His skeletal smile was tender, as if he was seeing one of his students instead of a colleague, but he couldn't help it.

At Toshinori's words, Shouta noticed that the room was empty except for them and he got angry with himself for being careless and ignoring his environment, which was so unlike him. Shouta glared at the other man not so subtly and stared more intently when his smile widened.

'He sure looks like a cat,' Toshinori thought, trying not to laugh out loud.

With care, as if he was as tired as Shouta, Toshinori sat down in the other armchair and let out a sigh. He breathed deeply, feeling how his old wound ached and his muscles felt more like a flickering candle than a bonfire like years before.

'I don't have much time...'

"How are your eyes, Aizawa-kun?" he asked, hoping he wasn't being too intruding.

Shouta took his time to answer to the point that Toshinori thought he had fallen asleep.

"Fine," was his blunt answer, but Toshinori didn't take it to heart. Someone else's quirk was always a delicate matter.

"What you did for those children... they're not going to forget it. And neither do I." Toshinori meant it. It was a mixture of pride for Shouta, but also guilt and regret. If he had only arrived earlier...

Shouta's face was his usual serious scowl, but he felt his cheeks a bit warmer. He wasn't used to praising from anyone but Hizashi, maybe Nedzu sometimes; he was a hero of the night, hidden in the shadows and unknown for most people. And he was fine with that, he wasn't good dealing with the masses and he sure didn't want the attention other heroes like All Might got.

But he couldn't lie and say that praise from Toshinori, whom everyone looked up, the idea of a hero, wasn't something that made him uncomfortably happy.

"Yeah, yeah, sure thing," he muttered, voice drowned by the sleeping bag, shrugging in order to downplay the conversation without looking too rude.

Toshinori chuckled, but soon it turned into something awkward and his hand reached the back of his neck, rubbing it in an unconscious motion.

Tired or not, Shouta was too sharp to let a detail like that slide and even when he wasn't exactly Toshinori's best friend or anything, since the man started to work at UA they'd been sharing enough work time together to be able to notice the man's mood shifts.

So he just raised a brow and Toshinori felt cold sweat.

'He really is hard to fool...'

"How's... how is Midoriya?" he finally asked, the question stretched and practically through his teeth.

Shouta took a moment to look intently at the older man and Toshinori could pinpoint the exact moment when Shouta's mind caught the right idea and the light of comprehension hit him. If he hadn't been so nervous about the question in itself, he would have marvelled at the way his mind worked so fast and so cleverly, very much like Mid--

"You argued," was Shouta's statement; not a question, since he was sure of it.

Toshinori quickly averted his eyes, regretting it the very instant their gazes departed, but when he focused his eyes on Shouta's again, that same light of comprehension lit them again.

This time, though, Shouta frowned.

"He knows."

The second longer he should not have taken to deny it made Shouta groan. Toshinori saw an arm snake its way out of the sleeping bag just to basically facepalm Shouta, dragging his groan longer and making Toshinori feel ashamed.

When did the roles of child and adult reverse?

He was just about to justify himself when Shouta stopped him with just one palm and he immediately complied, feeling scolded.

"How much he knows?"

"...not everything."

Shouta groaned louder.

"Does the Principal know?"

Toshinori shook his head.

Shouta hated to have more responsibility than he already did, which was a lot, mind you, but here he was sharing a big ass secret with Japan's most renowned and loved hero.

Fucking perfect.

"Knowing him, he'll know soon if he doesn't know it already," he murmured between his teeth, voice dragging and tired.

"You are completely right, Aizawa-kun!"

Both men were startled by the sudden squeaky voice that emerged from behind the Shouta. There stood Nedzu, paws in the air and permanent smile wide and cheery.

"It is I, Principal Nedzu!" he proclaimed, as if it wasn't obvious enough.

He really loved dramatic flair.

"Since when were you there, Principal?" it was futile to ask, but Shouta did anyway.

"Since the beginning, of course. I came to check on you, actually, but let's not get astray from the topic." Nedzu walked around and sat down beside Shouta, facing the skeletal man in front of him.

Toshinori felt uncomfortable under the dead gaze of the Principal, those black beady eyes looked intently at his; he felt analyzed and he didn't like it. But it was the Principal and therefore, he wasn't going to offend him by averting his eyes or feigning ignorance.

If there was one thing he'd never do in his life it was to insult Nedzu's intelligence.

"So! The cat's out of the bag. It happened a little later than I presumed, but it was completely foreseeable." Nedzu played with his paws while talking, but his expression was frozen in that clinical smile. "Considering your reaction and what little you revealed to Aizawa-kun, I believe that it wasn't you who told the boy, am I right?"

Toshinori nodded slowly and noticed from sideways that Shouta's permanent bored face faltered just for a moment, before returning to its normal unamused look.

Was that surprise?

"What a clever boy. Anyway, what I'm concerned right now is what you are not telling us." He pointed with crossed paws to the blond, surprising him a little.

"Me?"

Shouta wasn't getting the whole picture either.

"How much time do you have left?"

It felt like a bucket of freezing water.

Nedzu's smile was something in between sly and worried, but it was hard to say in which proportion. Shouta was finally putting all the pieces together and with the most neutral facade he could put, he looked at Toshinori.

Toshinori was beyond conflicted.

He had made up his mind a long ago, on that filthy beach during the sunrise. He didn't want any other successor for his quirk, even if Nedzu or anyone else could find 'the perfect vessel'. His understanding of One for All aimed straightforward to Izuku and no one else as the true deserving successor and he had been mustering the courage to tell him the truth and offer him the almost endless power of One for All.

However, their 'argument' made everything more difficult. He couldn't simply tell him in that moment everything; it wasn't fair. Izuku was hurting so much and he was so useless in that moment--! And he wasn't going to force Izuku to do anything (because for the sake of the rest, he knew Izuku would do anything; he was that kind of hero after all), even if that meant prolonging his time without passing the torch, he'd endure it. No matter what the consequences could be, he'd not betray him any further.

That was his final resolve.

"Enough."

At that, Nedzu nodded.

"Okay," he answered, his cheery voice back. "But I suggest you do something soon or else, you'll get scolded."

Both Toshinori and Shouta wore identical confused faces, not understanding what Nedzu meant with that.

But the Principal ignored them and turned his face towards Shouta.

"How are you feeling, Aizawa-kun? I hope you got your check-up with Recovery Girl."

The man nodded, inwardly grateful that the heavier tone of the conversation was gone.

"I went during lunch break," he answered, picking up the unspoken question.

Nedzu seemed satisfied with that, so he clapped his paws.

"That's good. But I'm afraid I need to ask you a favour now," he continued, earning the man's interest again. "I'd like you to participate in this year's Sports Festival as an announcer."

The unamused look grew even more unamused.

"I'm... not exactly the most qualified for that job, Principal." Other than witty and sarcastic remarks, he didn't know how to comment sports at all: he was usually designated as referee. Announcer was definitely Hizashi's department, considering he was a radio host and all.

"I know you're not exactly comfortable with it, but I believe that Yamada-kun would be a lot more invested if you were there with him," Nedzu replied and that left Shouta silent.

Now the ridiculous request made sense. Shouta had seen and suffered since waking up in the medical wing of UA the deep impression that everything left on Hizashi. The man had been beyond distress, even worse than usual. He knew that if this same incident had happened in the battlefield, the blond wouldn't have reacted the same way, but a breach of security meant a breach of trust for him and even when they were all recovering at a nice pace, Hizashi was still too affected to let it go.

Shouta felt guilt for that. He hated to be the cause of the loud man's tears.

"Okay. It'll be fun... I guess."

Toshinori fought back a snort at Shouta's answer. It was so flat that it was hilarious.

"You'll do a splendid job!" Now neither of them knew if Nedzu was being sarcastic or not-- he always sounded so enthusiastic for everything regarding the school. "Now that I've said everything I needed, I'll be going!" he said while standing up, doing a graceful and unnecessary jump.

Both men stood up to see him off, noticing how the air wasn't tense at all anymore.

"Eat well and get some rest." Nedzu said cheerfully while opening the door. He turned to wave goodbye and briefly locked gazes with Toshinori. "And I meant what I said. Don't say that I didn't warn you."

An old memory of a feeling fought to emerge from Toshinori's gut, but it was so old and so misplaced that he couldn't understand why the cunning smile of Nedzu was stirring him like that.

"Bye bye! Oh! Hi and goodbye, Yamada-kun!"

"Principal! So good to see you!" Hizashi's loud voice boomed through the walls, making Toshinori wince and Shouta groan.

"Take care of Aizawa-kun, please!"

"You can count on me!"

Toshinori felt sympathy for the grunting man that was sliding inside the sleeping bag already, trying to hide himself to no avail.

When Hizashi entered the lounge as loudly as always, Toshinori left to give them their space.

'Ah... young love," he thought a bit shyly.

His feet took him directly to the back entrance of the school, used to use it instead of the principal one, when his phone blasted loudly. Retrieving the offending device from his pocket (which took a bit, his bony hand practically swimming into the clothing that was clearly too big for this form of his) he looked at the ID before answering it, hoping it would be Naomasa; he would really appreciate a break from life.

Midoriya Inko-san

Panic rose and he was so tempted to ignore the call.

'No. This is not a hero's doing,' he thought firmly.

Taking a deep, deep breath, he swallowed and looked the phone again. The ringing was so loud that it was becoming unbearable, but the ID didn't change and he was about to miss the call.

'This is not a hero's doing,' he repeated to himself.

And with one swift movement, he answered.

First silence.

Then a woman's voice.

"Hi, Yagi-san."

Chapter Text

The delicious smell of his mother's cooking was making Izuku's stomach growl and his mouth water. He was laying on his bed, five notebooks spread open on different pages. They were his personal notebooks, the ones he used to write down everything he had been discovering about his quirk. Yūrei was mindlessly flipping the pages in one of them and Izuku's eyes quickly darted to his phone, watching the stopwatch.

03:12:1-

And the clock was still running.

Sighing, he took the second notebook and carelessly roamed through the pages, skimming his notes without focusing on anything in particular. He stopped at one in the last quarter of the notebook and read its content more carefully. The page had only a few lines and with shaky handwriting he wrote about his last encounter with Bakugou, before taking the UA entrance exam.

The only significant detail written down was the fact that he was able to summon Yūrei under the stress and fear that was Bakugou's presence for him. 

"Izuku~! Dinner's ready!"

His mother's voice distracted him, halting his thoughts before they went down to an ugly place, which was the usual route anytime something about the blonde surged. 

Without even looking at Yūrei, he started to pick up the notebooks while the ghost stood up and went to the kitchen, minding his wings in order to not break anything again. Izuku could hear her mother saying something to Yūrei, but since he couldn't hear it there was no way to answer it correctly; instead, he just closed his eyes for a second and told her through that invisible mouth and jarring, static filled voice that he would be there in a minute. 

Stacking up all the notebooks over the desk, he took his phone and left his bedroom. He knew his mom wouldn't be happy if he used the phone during dinner, but the stopwatch was on and he needed to keep on recording Yūrei's new times. He was still unable to surpass the six minutes and a half, so he had to keep on trying.

"Need help?" he asked, arriving to the kitchen.

"Yu-chan is already taking the plates," Inko answered while tasting the soup, careful of its temperature.

"Oh, okay..." Izuku muttered distractedly, taking a look to the stopwatch.

06:39:2-

"Hey! It's past six and a half!" he cried in joy, smiling from to ear to ear. "Mom! Guess what--!" he was about to turn to face her, but stopped midway, smile disappearing and realization hitting him hard.

In a second, he turned and his body moved on his own, reflexes kicking in and making him jump so fast that his mother was unable to see the full motion. Even Izuku was impressed by his own speed, but he jumped just when Yūrei was disappearing, catching the plates before they crashed against the floor. The plates clacked against each other loudly, but none of them were broken and that was all that mattered.

Mother and son were so impressed by the feat, that after a moment of silence he was awkwardly laughing and she was clapping enthusiastically. 

"Izuku! That was amazing!" Her smile was so wide that it hurt her cheeks.

"I... I mean... y-yeah." He was still too impressed by his own reflexes that he didn't knew how to react to his mother's praise. 

Carefully, he laid down the plates on the table and helped her bring the dinner. 

"I can't believe how fast you were. I couldn't even see you!" she continue gushing over him, too excited to stop. "Your training is really paying off," Inko complimented, eyes softening and smile warming. 

Izuku's heart filled with pride.

Dinner continued with cheerful chitchat between them, mostly about Izuku's school and training. She asked him when he was going to restart his afternoon training with Aizawa and how things were going with his friends. She loved to hear him talk, even when he rambled, she loved every word that he said because she could feel the happy ring in them, which gave her utter joy.

When dessert was being settled on the table, some light fruit, Izuku unintentionally cracked the light mood.

"Mom, can I ask you a question about Kuro-chan?" he started. Usually, she was extra excited when he asked her questions about their quirk. It made her feel useful to him and even when the death part was usually left aside, they tended to talk freely about the topic.

"Sure, honey, what is it?" she wondered. By now, Izuku was even more knowledgeable about the nature of their unusual quirk, but experience was still something she had over him.

"I know they're invisible for everyone but us, but... I know it's weird and all, I know, but... has there ever been someone who has seen Kuro-chan?" 

Izuku's eyes wandered through the room, mind busy remembering the conversation with Todoroki and Kirishima that day. The fact that not one, but two of his classmates confirmed seeing Yūrei without the aid of the white powder he used with Aizawa was still a bit unsettling. He was still learning so much about his quirk, he knew, but it bothered him to no ends that every time he felt that he was getting a grasp of its true nature, something off happened and he was back to square one.

However, he was so deep in thought that he failed to see Inko's sudden hurt expression. Her green eyes looked stormy, a very specific memory replaying over and over again. 

The silence soon became too obvious even for Izuku.

"Mom?" he asked, voice coated with worry. 

She returned to her usual self with a startle, moving her hands nervously and with a trembling smile in her lips. Izuku pursed his lips, a bit surprised by her weird response, but she quickly answered him.

"Ahm... it's been... well, yes. There was one person who saw Kuro-chan once." Her voice was unsteady and a bit high pitched, but the answer itself was enough to distract Izuku with his own eagerness to give those details their true importance.

"Really?!" he lounged forward, mouth wide open in surprise. He really thought his words were crazy, since from the beginning Inko told him that their ghosts were only visible for the likes of them, but with a solid confirmation now... 

It changed everything.

"Mom! That's an extremely important detail! How come you never told me?" His hands itched with the want of writing down this new piece of confirmed information, along with the theories he had been cooking up by himself. 

However, even if he was all excited and that tended to blind him from details, he wasn't completely oblivious and the second he picked up an uncomfortable silence around them, he forced himself to stop. His eyes looked carefully Inko's face and slight movements, finally noticing how her eyes flashed with something that made his heart ache, how her mouth were slightly downwards and the way her hands twitched. 

The final clue was Kuro-chan, quickly disappearing only to reappear again.  

As quickly as he understood that something was hurting his mother, Inko noticed how her stance affected Izuku. Regret filled her, not wanting to hurt him by any means, and with a not so swift move she stoop up, making the chair screech against the floor.

"Izu--"

"I'm gonna make some tea, okay?" he interrupted her, standing up while motioning her to sit down and eat dessert.

"B-But..."

His hands pressed softly over her shoulders the moment he was walking behind her towards the kitchen. She was tense, but his touch was never forceful. 

"...Izuku?" she muttered, voice small and fear overbearing. It was like after his suicide-- walking over egg shells.

"You helped me a lot already. Let's call it a day, okay?" his voice was warm and he squeezed softly her shoulders, trying to convey his feeling onto her.

A tense minute later, she sat down slowly and with one hand, she squeezed back his right hand. 

"Okay." She complied, her smile still nervous and her voice careful.

But he smiled at her just like he did when he was little and he talked her into playing some heroes game. That alone reassure her and even after he left her to go to the kitchen and make tea, she could feel the warmness left by his hands over her shoulders. 

For the first time in what it felt like forever, a fleeting thought crossed her mind.

My baby is so grown up...

That night, the stayed awake until the Heroes News was long over, drinking warm tea and chatting about nothing over the couch, Izuku laying on his Inko's lap while she caressed his messy hair, making it messier if that was possible.


The next morning, he arrived a bit earlier than usual to UA. 

The usual ruckus in the halls was almost gone, a few students strolling without any hurry to their classrooms or even the cafeteria; he had heard that if you arrived early enough, they serve you breakfast. 

With lazy steps, he made his way to classroom 1-A. He was pretty sure he'd be the second, since almost no one could beat Tenya in arriving first. His friend was pretty enthusiastic about his role as class president and no one had the heart to tell him that it was unnecessary. On his way, he faced just two other students and, to his fortune, none of them looked at him with much interest. Since the incident in the USJ facility, his whole class had been receiving unwanted attention and he wasn't exactly comfortable with it. 

The perks of being an early bird... 

The massive door of his classroom was soon within eyesight and the sight of it was becoming less and less stressful every day. He could hear some noise from inside and he could guess it was Tenya moving some desks or something. A small smile tugged up his lips at the thought of seeing his friend, but the moment he was stretching his hand towards the door, something by the end of the hall grabbed his attention.

It was a student and he was about to label it as just that, not minding it much, until his mind processed that the student's hairstyle was oddly familiar.

It was Shinsou.

He stopped his motion, his eyes quickly picking up the rest of the other boy's image. Shinsou was holding his backpack with one arm while holding a book with the other one, hair messy and posture relaxed. But he wasn't reading the book anymore, since his eyes were directed in Izuku's direction.

'Should I greet him?' Izuku mulled over, wondering if the other had actually recognized him or not.

But even from the distance, he felt the same unnerving feeling that Shinsou's gaze caused on him after he learned the nature of his quirk. Izuku had no doubt that Shinsou recognized him and, with that knowledge in hand, he guided his right hand up in a lazy greeting motion, unsure if the other would appreciate it or if it was uncalled for. After all, Shinsou didn't like him. 

An awkward silence stretched through the hall, but it was abruptly interrupted by the door opening and Tenya's booming voice cutting the stillness.

"Good morning, Midoriya!" Tenya greeted him wholeheartedly, not noticing how much he startled Izuku. "It's so good that you're picking up good habits like punctuality!" 

"G-Good morning!" he greeted back, voice a bit higher and heart racing by the surprise. He laughed a bit by Tenya's compliment, thinking that it was more about the situation than a healthy habit, but then he remembered what he was just doing and quickly looked towards Shinsou.

It was just in time to see the last of the boy disappearing, probably going to his own department. 

"What is it, Midoriya?" Tenya asked him, noticing his weird behaviour. 

"Nothing..." he replied, eyes lingering a bit longer where Shinsou left. "Just thought I saw someone," Izuku added, laughing meekly in order to downplay the awkward and one sided exchange.

Tenya's expression turned serious for a second, even sour if Izuku stretched it, and without pushing him away he stepped out the classroom and inspected the hall. Far away chatter could be heard and it was clear that sooner than later the halls would be as lively as ever, but for now it was empty.

Before Izuku could ask anything, Tenya's face returned to his usual expression and the moment flew away from his grasp. They started to talk amicably, Tenya more lively than Izuku, who was busy unpacking whatever he could need for the first period. A couple of minutes later, Yaoyorozu arrived and was greeted by both boys; Izuku noticed how embarrassed she looked when he greeted her, cheeks burning pink and eyebrows furrowed in worry, but he ignored the ache in his chest and gave her a kind smile, just like he used to. 

He was determined to act like if nothing had happened, even when a heavy atmosphere was still present between him and some of his classmates. He clinged onto Kirishima's words and even if he could feel a bit trapped inside the classroom, he breathed slowly and evoked his therapist's voice. 

He had Tenya with him, so he should be okay.

Tokoyami came throught the door the exact moment a 'ping!' ringed, coming from Yaoyorozu's phone. After quickly greeting Tokoyami, Tenya turned to her and reminded her that phones weren't allowed during school time, even if classes hadn't properly started yet.

"I'm very sorry," she apologized, holding her phone tightly against her hand. "I... I need something to do, but I need your help." The phone ringed again, a message incoming, and a sense of urgency emerged from her gaze. 

"And in what way I can assist you, Yaoyorozu-san?" Tenya asked and Izuku couldn't help but be curious too. 

"Can we talk outside, please?" she asked and Izuku was wondering if she was nervous or it was his imagination. Yaoyorozu had always posed to him as a really mature girl, so the idea of her fretting around Tenya was abnormal.

Tenya and Izuku shared a concerned look and the former nodded, instructing her to go with him. Izuku scratched the back of his head, not understanding anything but grateful for the distraction. The room wasn't as small as it felt before, at least for now.  

Surrounded by a background noise coming from outside, Izuku sat down and let out a not-so-subtle sigh. He was feeling a bit tired already and the day hadn't even started, but he tried to reassure himself and hope for a normal day. Not even a good one, but an okay one. 

"Midoriya," Tokoyami's voice almost startled him, sounding a bit loud against the background noise. The boy was standing near him, not enough to invade his personal space, and something made Izuku think that he was more serious than other times. "Do you have a minute?" he then asked.

This was... unusual.

"Sure, Tokoyami-kun." He smiled automatically, more a reflex than an honest feeling. Tokoyami silently nodded and sat on Mineta's desk, looking as cool and mysterious as always. 

Izuku's smile turned a bit nervous when Tokoyami didn't speak immediately. He looked deep in thought, eyes closed and arms crossed over his chest, making him wonder what issues he had with him.

"Dark Shadow manifested very early on my life and thus, I learned early about what we could do and how far we could go," he began talking, not looking at Izuku but somewhere far away, eyes glazed by his memories. "But it wasn't pretty or even safe. During elementary school, I almost hurt some of my classmates during a summer camp pretty badly and..." he tried to keep on going, but his voice wouldn't come out and he shut his beak soundly and closed his eyes again.

Izuku wasn't really getting why Tokoyami was telling him that, but his eyes wandered over the other's chest, remembering the shadowy beast and trying to imagine it out of control. It was hard, considering that the few times he had seen his classmate in action, they always looked very in sync and he had never felt any danger from them. 

However, the aura that surrounded Tokoyami pulled a string in his chest, making him remember that time at the beach where Yagi would confess to him a little about his past, even when he didn't knew his true identity. The same feeling of undeserving honor filled him and Izuku decided to remain silent, letting Tokoyami take his time.

"I blamed myself. I could see how my classmates were afraid of me... of Dark Shadow, and how my teachers would try to explain us about quirk limitations and such. But the damage was done and when I entered middle school, I kind of isolated myself." Izuku was a bit fascinated by Tokoyami's expressions. It was always something to see how his beak would emulate his emotions in a similar fashion to lips without being lips. He noticed how an ironic smile decorated his beak, like if he was laughing of himself about an internal joke.

Izuku wanted to ask why did he do that, but the question couldn't leave his throat.   

Yūrei...

"I can't say I'm completely over it, but little by little with the help of others I've come to understand that any quirk can be dangerous," Tokoyami continued, emulating Thirteen's words. "Dark Shadow's power is... a lot more than I can handle. I know that. But that doesn't mean that I won't train to master my quirk and use it for good, even with how it may look. And you... I mean, what I'm trying to say is that... hmm--"

It was a bit endearing and funny to see how flustered Tokoyami looked by this point of the conversation, his feathers ruffled very much like if he was blushing or something. It was clear to Izuku that Tokoyami was making his best to try to convey something, even when it made him feel exposed. 

"You shouldn't avoid us, Midoriya. Whatever your quirk looks like or do, it's up to you what you do with it." By now, Tokoyami had mustered courage and looked at him seriously, feathers ruffled and all. Dark Shadow appeared from his chest, nodding energetically and nearing Izuku with a friendly look, being a lot more expressive than his host. 

"Tokoyami-kun..." 

Dark Shadow patted him in the head and smiled.

"Don't make my same mistakes, Midoriya." 

It came out a bit strangled, but sincere. Tokoyami had seen silently how the events developed before him since the USJ incident and had gathered enough information with Asui's help about what he missed after he left with Dark Shadow to take Kaminari to a safe place to understand to a degree what troubled Izuku and half of his classmates.

Not only he empathized with what Izuku was living right now, but said boy had won a new respect in Tokoyami's eyes after what he did for them in the Downpour Zone. He was not exactly the best at social aptitudes, but God forbid he stopped trying. 

He only hoped he hadn't embarrassed himself in front of Izuku.

With his guts tight, he waited for the other's response. Izuku looked a bit out of place, maybe even surprised and that made Tokoyami feel even more self conscious. Maybe he had been stepping over a line?

But then, Izuku let out a choked laugh and patted back Dark Shadow, eyes shining a bit brighter than before (even if he looked a bit bashful, even slightly uncomfortable). 

"Thank you, Tokoyami-kun." It came unsaid, but Izuku thanked him not only for the support but also for the trust. Tokoyami was a reserved person, so he felt humble for his trust. 

Just like with Yag...

"And to you too, Dark Shadow. Yūrei means it too," he added without noticing it, forming said ghost next to him.

It wasn't before Dark Shadow reaction that he noticed that he had summoned Yūrei, the shadowbeast suddenly approaching rather forcefully towards the ghost, surprising both teens. Dark Shadow circled Yūrei with interest and after satisfying themselves with their inspection, he retreated near Tokoyami, using one massive claw to point Yūrei and make some wiggly movements, looking rather excited.

"Chief!"

Tokoyami looked puzzled, just like Izuku, but it was the latter who made the connection. 

"Wait, Dark Shadow, can you see Yūrei?" Izuku stuttered, a bit surprised since Tokoyami made no sign of noticing the black ghost.

Dark Shadow nodded and both teens looked at each other. 

"Tokoyami-kun... can you--?"

"No." 

Izuku scratched his head, confused. 

"Very well done, Tokoyami-kun," a new voice came out of nowhere, startling both Izuku and Tokoyami. "It was really awkward and a bit painful to see, but Midoriya-chan looks a lot better now."

Suddenly, they noticed Asui standing behind Tokoyami and none of them knew how she had come inside the classroom without notice.

"Asui-san!"

"Tsuyu-chan. I've told you before," she replied without changing her demeanour, the tip of her tongue poking out her mouth.

"T-Tsuyu-chan, since when have you been here?" Izuku asked, forgetting Yūrei and Dark Shadow for a moment, the latter moving their claws and the former mimicking.

"A while," she answered unfazed. "The others are eavesdropping outside."

"Tsuyu-chan! Don't call us out!" They could recognize Ochaco's voice outside and soon after, she, Tenya, Tooru, Yaoyorozu, Ojirou, Mineta and Jirou entered the classroom, almost tripping over.

"I'm sorry guys, we didn't mean to eavesdrop," Tooru apologized, her sleeves revealing how she clapped her palms together in a apology manner.

"But it was so touching~ you were about to get all kissy kissy, so gross," Mineta said, alternating kissing postures with grossed out faces.

"Mineta-kun!" Izuku protested, but Jirou took the matter into her own hands and pinched the shorter boy hard, winning against Asui's quick tongue which slapped him right after.

Izuku glanced towards Tokoyami and the boy looked between mad and flustered, which was understandable. He also felt uncomfortable, not by the conversation, but by his classmate's inappropriate behaviour. 

"But Tokoyami is right, Midoriya." Ojirou walked towards Izuku, smile on his face but knitted eyebrows revealing his uneasiness. "We wanted to apologize to you. Our behaviour was uncalled and we never meant to make you feel bad about yourself or your quirk." His tail waggled like a cat's, making it easier to spot his nervousness. 

"Yes, but we didn't knew how to do it. I know it's not an appropriate excuse, but..." Yaoyorozu played with her hands and alternated her gaze between the floor and Izuku, making her look more like a normal girl than the unreachable perfect vice-president everyone thought for a moment.

"Anyway, we asked our dear old Pres here for help, but Tokoyami won us." Jirou's bored look and voice was betrayed by her playing with her left jack, wrapping it over and over again. "So... sorry we were jackasses, Midoriya."

Behind them, Ochaco and Tooru were making silly encouraging signs, from jumping as silently as they could to holding her thumbs up, only visible in Ochaco's case. 

Izuku felt overwhelmed, but it wasn't as bad as the day he came back to school and Tenya and Ochaco shielded him from everyone. It was as intense, but a bit more bearable.

So, he did the only thing he could think of.

He smiled.

"T-Thanks... Sorry for scaring you," was all he said, caressing the back of his neck. 

"Apologizes accepted for both parties! I'm extremely proud of all of you, we're making great progress as a class!" Tenya exclaimed, pointing everyone and looking torn between a ridiculous serious expression as a President and a ear to ear smile. "We can continue this on our break, since there are only a few minutes left before class starts and even when I'm thrilled to keep you company, I must check everyone is here on time."

And with that, a thin veil of tension dispelled from the atmosphere and normalcy was established again once and for all. 

"It seems they like each other. Dark Shadow and... eh..." Tokoyami began, but cut himself out when he noticed that he didn't knew exactly how the other shadow thing was called.

Izuku noticed and smiling a bit, complied.

"Yūrei. His name is Yūrei."

"Yūrei? Oh, right! I never asked you about your quirk, Deku-kun," Ochaco butted in, looking for something but only seeing Dark Shadow moving over and over. "It never felt like... you know, the right moment," she added a bit bashfully, hoping she wasn't screwing it up. 

But Izuku shook his head, trying to calm her.

"It's alright, Uraraka-san."

"Hey, guys! What'cha talking about?" Kirishima screamed from the door, getting scolded by Tenya. "Dark Shadow! Good to see you outside the battlefield, man!" He was honestly glad to see the shadowbeast. 

"Dark Shadow is teaching Yū-chan some cool moves, aren't you?" Tooru explained, her sleeve moving as if she was pointing two things; one clearly Dark Shadow and an empty space next to them. "It's actually cute. Yū-chan is like a puppy, copying Dark Shadow," she said, more to herself than to the others.

"Yū-chan? Who's... Oh! Wait! The thing!" he claimed, quickly slapping his own mouth and looking to Izuku apologetically. "Shoot, sorry man. Didn't meant to call it thing. My tongue slipped and I just--" he rushed to explain, true worry washing his face.

Izuku laughed reluctantly.

"Don't worry, Kirishima-kun, no offense taken" he tried to calm him down, "but yeah. He's here anddd... wait," his voice lost volume while the gears in his head spin furiously. The rest looked at him curiously, not understanding his sudden silence, but Tenya's loud voice scolding Kaminari, Sero, Mina and Bakugou for almost arriving late distracted all but Izuku, who was now mumbling under his breath while his eyes fixed on Tooru's clothed frame.

Had she called Yūrei, Yū-chan?

Had she described what he was doing? 

But he was invisible again for everyone, right? Then how?

"Midoriya! Come here for a second, please!" Tenya called him out loud after letting the almost late group in the classroom, "Please go to your seats! Class is about to start!" he scolded them again after Kaminari and Mina went directly towards Bakugou's desk instead of their seats, chatting unceasingly.

Letting his eyes linger a bit longer on Tooru, but forcing himself to do as he was told (he had to ask her later, he couldn't forget!) he stood up and went to Tenya, who was next to the door. 

"Aizawa-sensei wants to speak privately to you before homeroom starts. Satou! Almost late again!"

"Aizawa-sensei?"

Izuku went out just in time to let Satou in, who tried to bribe Tenya amicably with a muffin. Resting next to the door, Aizawa was waiting for him, his eyes still surrounded by bandages, but his stance a bit more steady. 

It still made him feel guilty, though.

"Sensei? You wanted to see me?" Izuku asked a bit worried. Had he done something bad? Was everything okay? Was Yagi-san okay? Now that he thought of, he hadn't seen him since that day at the beach... His health was really frail, so maybe...

"Yes. Today we're resuming your training, so prepare yourself. Same place, same time." Aizawa briefed him as shortly as he could. Class was about to start. "Now let's go." And he went inside.

It was so anti-climatic that it left Izuku a bit cold. His train of thoughts was halted abruptly and he couldn't even give a proper answer, but soon the gears of his mind started to spin again and the implications of Aizawa's word sunk in and a smile formed in his face.

He would train again. 

He was in friendly terms with his classmates again.

It was finally feeling like a good day.

"Midoriya! Come one!" Aizawa's emotionless voice freed him from his trance.

He really had to stop being this absentminded. He had to focus. 

The Sports Festival was coming.

He had a hell of a lot of training and preparation to do.

Chapter Text

Being the number one hero implied a lot of things, from great power (with great responsibilities, of course) to admiration across the globe. However, even the greatest heroes have their flaws; they're human, after all. And among the many flaws Yagi Toshinori had, social interactions outside his hero persona was one of them.

'Nothing to be nervous about.'

When he received Midoriya Inko's call, he chickened out. A thousand different scenarios had crossed his mind the moment he heard her voice, each one worse than the last. He thought she would yell at him, accuse him or ask him to never get near her son again. However, in her amicable voice, she had asked him to meet any day he could, just for talking.

It was the talking part that worried him.

18:04

They had agreed to meet by half past six in a cafeteria nearby the Midoriya household, but he arrived almost an hour before. Until six he sat down on a bench, deep within his own thoughts and trying to ease his anxiety. His brain couldn't stop replaying that morning on the beach, the last time he had been with Izuku alone. He still saw him at school as a teacher, but it was different.

He missed the boy so terribly that it hurt.

Checking if, for some reason, the woman was nearby and noticing that she wasn't anywhere close, Toshinori decided to take a table inside the cafeteria and order something while he waited. Maybe a tea, to calm his nerves. The waitress was polite enough to pretend she didn't stare at his hollow cheeks, pale skin or sunken eyes, and soon he had a steaming green tea over the medium sized table, big enough for two people.

Out of habit, he checked his phone.

18:09

He sighed.

Twenty more minutes alone with his thoughts.


Inko wanted to arrive early to her meeting with Toshinori, not wanting to make the man wait if he arrived before the agreed hour. She left work at six o'clock sharp, trusting that she'd be in the cafeteria in fifteen minutes if there wasn't any diversion. The streets were crowded, but not more than usual and the usual noise soon became a faint distraction in the back of her mind.

She wasn't really sure how this meeting would go. She held the man in high regards, but the disagreement with her son wasn't unknown to her. And as much as she wanted to respect her son's relationships and was really proud that he was making great progress in that matter, it was easy to spot when some external help was needed and this was definitely the case.

She only hoped that Toshinori wouldn't mind her meddling in their business.

When the pedestrian traffic light became red, she halted and looked at her watch.

18:12

"Very well," she muttered under her breath, waiting for the green light. She was still two blocks away, but there was more than enough time to arrive at the cafeteria.

On her side of the pavement, people began to lightly push one another. There was a little multitude and it wasn't all that uncommon, since everyone was going home after work, but even she had to admit that it was a bit too much. Still, she checked her watch one more time and looked insistently at the red light.

"Come on, come one," she urged it, her tiny voice drowned in a sea of murmurs.

And the impatience only grew, cars speeding up in order not to cross with the yellow light and more and more people gathering around her. The pushes became rougher and a sudden indignant cry attracted everyone's attention, more upset voices rising over the crowd.

"That guy stole my wallet!" a man cried, literally fuming from his ears. It was a dense, black smoke and everyone around was torn between looking for the thief, calling any Pro Hero nearby and coughing.

Inko wasn't sure if the red light turned green, throat burning from the man's smoke and the continuous coughing fit she was suffering. Someone, probably more than one person, pushed her and she tripped, ankle twisting quite painfully and a strangled cry was choked under a hoarse cough.

And then, a thin hand grasped her firmly by the wrist, pulling her to the street.

'Kuro-chan!' she instinctively thought, the black ghost materializing next to her in a blink.

"Are you okay?" A familiar feminine voice asked, still pulling her out of the crowd and guiding her safely to the other side of the road.

"Mi--" But another coughing fit stopped her and it was starting to really hurt her throat.

With a tender gesture, Mitsuki rubbed Inko's back, pointlessly trying to ease her pain.

"What kind of dickhead misuses his quirk like that? If you're a fucking walking furnace, mind your goddamn temper!" Her voice was a weird mixture of worry and scolding, but in the end she scowled and practically yelled to the other side of the street, the cars once again shutting her down.

But a choked laugh intermingling with dying coughs stopped her from crossing the street again and smacking the stupid guy who was dumb enough to let himself be robbed by some measly pickpocket and then cause a ruckus with his useless quirk.

Instead, she turned to watch the petite woman laugh while trying to regain her breath. It was a cute laugh, the same that had always characterized Midoriya Inko and her nice nature.

"Mitsuki-san, so nice to meet you here," Inko said, voice a bit hoarse but nothing major.

"You okay?" Mitsuki asked, brows knitted and genuine worry washing over her features.

At that, Inko nodded.

"Yes. Thank you for saving me," she chuckled, letting one last cough out and straightening the wrinkles in her otherwise tidy clothes. With a trained motion, she subtlety diverted her sight from the woman in front of her, just enough to see how Kuro-chan disappeared into thin air.

Mitsuki checked the shorter woman, looking for any injuries. Fortunately, she was fine. Smiling with relief, she brushed Inko's shoulder to remove a blackish smudge, clearly a consequence of the smoke that the man stained everyone with. There were a few more here and there, but that was the most noticeable.

Inko murmured something with an embarrassed voice, too quiet for her to understand, and thanked Mitsuki again.

"Going back home from work?" Mitsuki asked. Usually, she wasn't really much for small talk, but with Inko it always happened. It was as if she was shaped like a friend, encouraging anyone to sit down and have a nice chat with her.

"Actually, I'm about to meet someone," she answered, almost forgetting the world around her.

Even with all the trouble that came with Katsuki and Izuku's not so good relationship, Inko had always liked Mitsuki and Masaru; especially Mitsuki. She was brash and somewhat loud, but she was true to her heart and a really nice woman overall. She had always desired for them to be friends, but the problems around their children tended to limit their conversations to only them.

"Oh~ Someone lucky I guess?" she asked suggestively, winking a knowing eye. "Well, it was about time, Inko. I'm really happy for you!" Her toothy smile was enough to make Inko blush furiously, making her take a second to correct her.

"I-I-It-It's not li-like t-that!" Her cheeks were blazing hot.

But now that Mitsuki said it...

18:27

"I'm late!"

Mitsuki bit back a laugh, enjoying the mortification of the woman in front of her. Inko was so innocent even as a grown woman and Mitsuki liked that side of her too.

"Don't leave them waiting then," she said, tapping her right cheek and pointing Inko back. When she hesitantly mimicked her, Mitsuki nodded and repeated the motion, signalling to clean the light smudge she had on the cheek.

18:28

"I'm really sorry for leaving in such a hurry, but I--"

"Don't sweat it, Inko. Just go," Mitsuki hurried her while dodging someone that almost rainto her.

Inko nodded and quickly turn around to go to the cafeteria. Taking a few steps forward, she turned one last time to wave goodbye and if it wasn't for that occurrence, she wouldn't have noticed the expression on Mitsuki's face.

Her usually upbeat face was now twisted into a kind of sad look, lips slightly pointing down and a scowl wrinkling her otherwise smooth and perfect skin. It lasted no more than two seconds and it wasn't really evident, but Inko noticed anyway. From the distance, she couldn't read her eyes clearly, but it was obvious that something was troubling her. It made her heart ache. What could be making her so sad?

Her eyes moved to her watch and then back to Mitsuki's back.

18:29

A moment of hesitation.

'It will take a moment. Only a moment.'

"Mitsuki-san!" Inko called at the same time as she rested her hand on Mitsuki's upper arm, neither gently nor roughly; just enough to stop the woman from parting ways.

Before Mitsuki could say anything, brow lifting to decorate her puzzled face, Inko talked hastily.

"Do- ah, doyouhave some free time tomorrow?" She stumbled over her words at the beginning, but at the end the sentence was better and it was overall understandable. "If you have some... well, I would like for you to come and have tea with me." It was an invitation served with a tender, but unsure smile.

Now that they were close again, Inko could read clearly Mitsuki's eyes. A range of emotions flashed through them, passing from wondering why she stopped her to a concealed surprise with some tints of disbelief and then a watery warmth, clouded by a mute and distant pain that she was trying really hard to bury, to stop Inko or anyone else in the world from noticing.

She opened her lips and then shut them briefly, only to give her a toothy smile and look again just like the Mitsuki she remembered.

"Sure thing." Inko let out some air she didn't notice herself holding. "Are you living in the same place?" she asked.

Inko nodded.

"How about tomorrow at seven?"

"Perfect. Now hurry before your date think you stood them up."

"Mitsuki-san!"

And her laughter was refreshing, making Inko feel less bad for leaving her alone.

They parted ways one more time. Inko noticed how Mitsuki grabbed her hands a bit tighter and how her smile was a bit more honest than before, but the light frown never really disappearing. She did her best to not mention it, thinking that maybe tomorrow they'd have the time and space to talk more freely (and hoping that she wasn't meddling where she wasn't called) and began walking as fast as she could, hoping that Toshinori didn't actually leave for her tardiness.

Exactly seven minutes later, she was crossing the door of the nice cafeteria where they had agreed to meet, her eyes desperately looking for the tall, blond man.

"Midoriya-san, here!" he called her from his table, one hand lifting as if his towering height wasn't enough to stand out from a crowd.

She sighed deeply, relief washing her whole being and she went to the table, explanations already swarming out from her mouth.

"Yagi-san! I'm so so sorry for being late. I swear I- I was on time, but things happened on the way and-theywere out of my control and I'mreallysorryIdon't wantyou to thinkthatIforgotoranythingbut--"

But she spoke so fast and with such a guilt and shame that it soon became both impossible to understand and a living proof of where Izuku's ranting and ability to murmur at inhuman speeds had come from.

It both warmed his heart and made it ache.

"Midoriya-san, please don't apologize any longer. I didn't have to wait very long." Big, fat lies. The moment the agreed time arrived, he was mortified every second she didn't cross that door, but for his own motives, she didn't need to know it.

"Still, Yagi-san. I'm really sorry for making you wait," she said, meaning every word.

Toshinori shook his head, his long blond bangs almost hitting his eyes.

"Let me invite you a tea first, please. As a thank you for calling me." He thought of offering coffee, but the woman needed to calm down or his own nerves would be on edge soon.

He didn't even have to call the waitress, since the moment Inko arrived and not so discreetly sat down in front of him, she was ready to serve them whatever they'd order. Skimming the small menu, they both ordered tea and the waitress left without delay.

The silence between them was a bit awkward for different reasons for each, the general mutter inside the place filling their ears.

It ended being a cough coming from Inko that interrupted their mutual awkwardness, making her even more embarrassed for her behaviour and him a bit worried, being familiar with coughs and thus very good to distinguish between the different types of coughs.

"Are you sure you are okay, Midoriya-san?" he asked her, hoping to not be crossing any unsaid boundaries between acquaintances.

With a last cough, she nodded, thanking a waiter who gave her a glass of water.

After sipping it, she discreetly cleared her throat.

"Yes, Yagi-san. Nothing to worry about. My throat feels a bit stingy after the smoke," she answered truthfully and lightly, sipping a bit more water to ease the itch.

"Smoke?" He couldn't stop himself from repeating. "I hope you don't mind the intrusion, but what smoke?"

Not noticing the well-concealed alarm in his eyes, Inko told him briefly about the mishap she had during her walk to the cafeteria. Now that she thought of it, from other times she had been trapped in a terrible traffic jam caused by some hero-villain fight, the theft was nothing and it actually gave her the opportunity to meet Mitsuki by chance, which she was glad for.

In Toshinori's side of the story, his own reflexes began to flare up. It took an effort to stop his impulse to go outside and look for the thief, who was probably already caught by some Pro Hero called by the multitude. But old habits die hard and the moment she explained the street theft, his first reaction was to help the people involved with his veins burning with hot power, even when it was some minor crime and that his help was clearly not needed.

So faking like he was used to doing, he channelled his worry with utmost care and asked once again if she was okay, eyes scanning as discreetly as he could her frame.

Other than a grey smudge practically invisible to anyone but his keen eye, she was unharmed.

"I am relief that your friend helped you," he finally said.

"Mhm." She murmured with a smile, which soon faded. Her eyes were downcast and fixed on the tea.

There were tiny waves on it, making perfect circles.

A new silence fell over them. It wasn't as awkward as the one before, coated with apologies and worries. It was solemn and many things unsaid hanged over their heads.

Toshinori felt a tight expectation. It was a bit like dejá vù and he could feel Nana, could almost see her strong back. He felt the pull that made him want to reach her, longing her affection and acknowledgement.

He could almost hear the light scold.

"Thank you for agreeing to meet me, Yagi-san," Inko began, her voice soft and tender, but without any falter that could eclipse her conviction. It made him gulp. "I hope it wasn't an inconvenience for you."

"Not at all, Midoriya-san," he clarified, hands slightly grabbing his tea a bit tighter. "You are never inconvenient." To that, she smiled again in the same way a woman would smile to a small child.

"That's very kind of you. But I mean it, because you and I know that this conversation won't be really comfortable." He clenched his jaw and hoped that he wasn't being too obvious.

"Midoriya-san..."

"I'm not mad at you, Yagi-san," she interrupted, and he felt a numb pain.

She used the same words Izuku said.

"I wanted to clarify that from the very first moment. I'm not mad at you and I won't be." She was tempted to play with her tea, but instead she pushed it away from her, just a bit, and rested her hands on her lap. "I know that you and Izuku argued. I don't know what about, but my son is clearly affected by it. He wouldn't tell me anything, but I know him. I'm his mother, after all," she said with love and pride.

A lioness to her cub.

"But the thing is, he's my son. He's a child. And we're adults, so I believe that we can talk maturely about it," she continued, modulating her voice to not sound like if she was reproaching him. That wasn't her intention. "I won't ask you the details of the fight; it shouldn't concern me. But I want to ask you something, Yagi-san."

Her voice was now firm and stern, her eyes like steel and her shoulders stiff.

Toshinori was decent enough to hold her gaze.

"Did you mean to hurt him?"

The question pierced his heart, indignation and hurt filling him.

"I'd never hurt him on purpose, Midoriya-san," he answered, controlling the first impulse and responding with conviction and honesty.

But she wasn't finished.

"Whatever you fought for... is it going to hurt my son?" she asked back and his voice faltered, for a second confused about what she was asking about.

It took him a moment, but he soon understood that the question was different from the first one and, more importantly, how it was different.

However, it was enough to make a tiny scowl wrinkle her forehead.

"My son is one of the strongest people I know, but even with that, I don't want him to be hurt. He's dealing with too much now and I refuse to let him be hurt more if I can prevent it."

Her tiny frame was really to fool people.

And Toshinori had known that already.

"Midoriya-san, I--"

"You're a good man, Yagi-san. And you're a good friend to my son. I'm really grateful for giving him so much and you know it. But please, I just--"

"I want to protect him."

Inko's voice was drowned under Toshinori's, steel green clashing with stormy blue.

A quiet note overruled the background noise, deafening them both and they were alone, gazes clashing and speaking louder than words.

"Truth is... complicated. More than I'd like, actually," but he had chosen that life and even with all the pain it came, he'd never regret it, "and I can't promise that we're not going to get hurt. Not now, not ever. But there's one thing that I can tell you, Midoriya-san, and is that I care about your son and, to me, his friendship and trust are something that I value over all the gold in the world."

Wasn't it that how friendship worked?

"I want to protect him, just like you. But we can't always protect him, Midoriya-san. He wants to be a Hero and that implies risks and secrets and half-truths." Which was a terrible fact, especially since the heroes were so idealized in modern society. But it was true. "I know I fractured his trust by hiding things in order to protect him," he admitted with a strained voice.

Not only him. No one should know his true identity, even if that meant a lonely life. A solitude that was sometimes interrupted by Naomasa and his cakes, and by the memory of his lost mentor and the ache of wanting to reach Nighteye or Gran Torino, but stopping every time he picked up the phone and recurring only to paper. And then by a small jogging boy and his small and gentle mother, and then by the small class and the small teacher lounge.

And suddenly they weren't so small anymore and his lonely heart was more often than not warm, craving to spend time with others when before he'd only think in everyone while staying out of their reach, being the pillar everyone needed but not a human being anymore.

It hurt to care so much.

"But now that he knows the truth, I won't force him to forgive me. And I can't promise you that he won't get hurt by it, since even I don't have the certainty of it. However, I will do everything in my power to protect him, because even if he doesn't speak to me again, I care about him and nothing can change that."

And their eyes clashed again, electric blue against opaque emerald.

Toshinori hated every word that left his mouth.

But it was the best he could do, with a half-truth that was bitter and it stung more than any of them would accept.

Inko held his gaze and after the longest second Toshinori had felt, with slumped shoulders she let a sigh, defeat painted in her face and a sadness that only belonged who knew there was nothing else to do.

"I'm sorry if this wasn't what you expected to hear, Midoriya-san," he apologized out of habit.

She shook her head and grabbed her tea with the intention to drink it, but only wrapped her hands around it in the end.

"You are a good man, Yagi-san." She looked at him, wearing a soft yet sad smile. "And I wish to understand more of your world; yours and Izuku's. But I'm not a hero, just a simple mother who wants nothing but happiness for her son." She felt like a child, wanting the impossible; reaching for something so out of her reach that it was killing her in the process.

Contrary to how she felt, Toshinori's gaze felt tender over her.

"You might not feel like it, but parenting is on its own a type of heroism. At least, for their children." It was a foreign feeling for him, as a childless man, but he did believe it. "And I'd completely understand if you want me to back off." Even if it hurt him.

He saw the conflict in her, but it didn't last much.

From the beginning, she never intended to force him out of Izuku's life. It was up to him and Toshinori what would be of them, but she had the impression that this conflict was about to come to an end, hopefully sooner than later.

So, recomposing herself, she took a sip of her warmish, almost cold tea.

"I don't wish for you to disappear from our lives," she answered him, noticing how his eyes looked at her attentively. "Quite the contrary. I know you're good for him and I'd like to think it's mutual."

He nodded, still looking serious but less stiff.

"I highly appreciate young Izuku and I wish for nothing more to recover our little friendship," he confessed, sensing that the worst had already passed. "But... in all honesty, I just don't know how to approach him." His demeanour was kind of sad again, troubled by his social incompetence. "I don't want to burden him any longer and now he has good friends at school. He doesn't..."

He doesn't need me...

Toshinori felt pathetic. He was the number one hero, the role model for thousands of people, he has a quirk people would kill for and yet he was incapable of having a hold of his life, losing not only his powers but also his friends.

His eyes were glued to his untouched and wasted good tea, and his teeth were busy biting the inside of his cheek. So it was a bit unexpected when a tiny hand appeared in his visual range, interrupting his gloomy thoughts.

Lifting his face, he noticed how Inko looked at him.

"Yagi-san... how can you think Izuku doesn't need you?" she asked, looking at him not with pity, but empathy.

He felt naked. How did she know? How had he lowered down his guard so much?

Not without some hesitation, since it felt really inappropriate of her to console the man, she finally placed her small hand over his long and bony left, emphasizing their ridiculous size difference.

It took all of him to not feel embarrassed.

"Don't diminish my son's feelings. You are important to him, no matter how many friends he can have now." Her voice carried a light scold, surprised at how easy it was for Toshinori to disregard himself. It was clear now that she had yet a lot to learn about the man. "You'll always be important to him, no matter what."

The incoming embarrassment quickly faded with her words.

And the moment he took to process her words wasn't heavy or uncomfortable. It was, in a way, painful, but more like the pain when a thorn is pulled out and the tender flesh is exposed to the air.

Tentatively, he turned his hand with utmost respect and squeezed her fingers lightly in order to express his gratefulness for her gesture and then he let his hand slide to recover the polite distance that the social etiquette demanded. Inko removed her hand quickly, anxiety pooling in her stomach for her rudeness.

"You know... you remind me of someone I knew, Midoriya-san," he softly said, his eyes looking at her but at the same glazed with foggy memories, mental images overlapping with reality.

Nana's smile was still the brightest smile he'd ever had the pleasure to see.

Oh, how he missed her...

"She was an amazing woman... like a mother to me." It was impressive how the Midoriyas had that talent to make him feel comfortable enough to share even a bit of himself, to open a tiny crack of his wounded self and let them believe, even for a moment, that it was okay to do so. "She was strong, yet so gentle. She taught me more than anyone else, before leaving. She taught me to smile, no matter how grim the situation is. She had the biggest smile ever..."

Inko listened to him attentively and, unlike her son, she quietly accepted the opening Toshinori was having with her and didn't question it. If the man could trust her with a little piece of what he had lived, she'd accept it humbly and let him talk, even if he looked so far away her reach.

It was a bittersweet memory for Toshinori and a small voice in his head scolded him for not being able to overcome her death and stain her memory with his pain. But no matter what he did, Nana's death was probably always going to be a thorn in his heart and no one could help him deal with it; no one but himself.

Shaking lightly his head, he smiled bashfully and unconsciously leaned on the back of his chair, creating some distance between the two of them.

"I'm sorry for blurting all of this out," he said lightly, his toothy smile tense and practised.

"Don't apologize, Yagi-san," she said, apparently more composed than him. "From what you said, she must have been an incredible woman..." her voice hung in the air and Toshinori felt curious about it, "...but can I say something?" she asked, looking torn between seriousness and apologetic.

Puzzled, he nodded.

The moment she talked, her presence felt stronger, just like the first time they met. Her words were gentle and well-meant, but it didn't changed the impact they had on him. 

It was a bucket of ice cold water over his head.

Inko barely knew anything about him, only what he was willing to share with her and it wasn't even a scrap of the surface of his self. But even knowing that, understanding that her words and advice were meant for the careful construction of a man he had been pulling off for him and, before, for Izuku, it had resonated painfully with his very core to the extent that the ground beneath him cracked.

She didn't know a thing and still was able to inadvertently say something that only Nedzu.... no, Gran Torino or Naomasa would be able to say.

His made up smile faltered and, for one second, he let all his walls crumble.

What Inko glimpsed for a short, almost nonexistent moment, was desolation.

It was the saddest emptiness that she couldn't and wouldn't understand in a long time.

The pleading of a man who didn't still knew how to be a man again and not an ideal.

Or maybe he was never a man to begin with.

So little time left...

But as fast as the moment came, it ended. After that short second, those sunken eyes were back to normal, distanced and far away from anyone's reach, and the inexplicable void made Inko thought she had imagined that look in Toshinori's eyes.

"Thank you for your kindness, Midoriya-san," Toshinori said and with a lack of haste, he called the waitress again, asking for the bill.

Without letting her pay, they exited the cafeteria and as any gentleman would do, he escorted her home. The twilight was calm and clouds mixed with the pastel colours that were quickly darkening, revealing the cold colours of the night which was only going to be lightened up by the moon, since the stars would be completely wrapped up by the clouds.

"Thanks for walking me home, Yagi-san."

"Thank you for the evening, Midoriya-san."

They shared honest but distanced smiles, minds busy with tangled thoughts about everything they had shared in that cafeteria.

"If you need anything, I'm here."

"You as well."

It felt formal, but not completely.

In a synchronized motion, they looked towards the correct door. Next to it, there was a little window and there was light coming out from it.

Izuku...

"Have a safe trip back home, Yagi-san."

"Take care."

And with the last light of the day, they parted ways.

Chapter Text

It was Tuesday evening therapy.

It was the first time he had gone alone since his last relapse. Kaito had recommended Inko to be present during the previous sessions, just in case Izuku needed her. Her warmth and her ghost roaming around the office had been a wise choice, since it had worked to calm him down, helped him feel safe in there again. Now Izuku felt ready to start going alone again.

Kaito agreed.

It didn’t surprised Izuku to notice how strong Kaito’s quirk smelled that day. Being alone during the therapy after such a bad relapse wasn’t an easy feat and the moment he recognized the familiar scent, he felt safe and tranquil. His body relaxed the moment he sat on his usual chair and the faint remains of muscular ache reminded him how it had become a second nature to stay stiff every waking hour of the day, even after sorting out the situation with his classmates and finally returning to some normality.

The beginning of the session was light. Kaito asked him to share what he wanted to say about his week. Izuku struggled a bit to find his voice, but with each word and the reassuring scent, speaking became easier. Kaito made sure to keep a gentler face this time, understanding how hard it might be for Izuku this particular session. He had enough experience to know that even after many months of therapy, it took one particularly bad relapse to shake a patient’s will and confidence in themselves and in the therapy itself.

So he let him speak at his own pace and when he started to cry, he had a tissue box prepared.  He softly reminded him that it was okay to cry, that he had all the right in the world to express his feelings, fears, pains and insecurities through tears.

“It’s not something to be ashamed of,” he reminded him, voice low and gentle.

Izuku was a bit a of crier, but he knew that by the eighth month working with him. The boy struggled with a lot of things and one of them was to cry in front of him. He had a hunch that he was pretty emotional and one of his coping mechanisms was crying, but he also understood that for someone who had literally no self-esteem and more hatred for himself than anyone could imagine, crying could be seen as some kind of irreproachable behaviour.

So every time his eyes turned misty and his throat started to choke his voice, he’d remind him that it was okay, that he could cry to his heart’s extent and no one would blame him for doing so. And with time, Izuku finds it easier to let himself cry if he needs to.

And so he did.

“I’m sorry,” he babbled in a shaky voice. With the heel of his palms, he tried to dry his eyes, resenting the air that made them sting. “I just...” It was hard to talk, to express himself while drowning in shame and frustration.

Kaito encouraged him to continue softly, but after crying Izuku felt too exhausted. The boy’s raging emotions squeezed his heart painfully, making it hard to continue. The man gave him his time, but after noticing that it was being particularly hard for Izuku to go on, something he recognized from their first meeting after his setback, he decided to guide him.

“Close your eyes,” he asked him and then told him to breathe in, hold his breath and then let it out soundly. “Now, describe to me what you feel.”

Izuku felt his eyes sting again, new tears piercing his eyes like needles. He couldn’t fight back a choke, but he talked anyway, ignoring how miserable his voice sounded to his own ears.

“I feel... hot... a-and red.” Without opening his eyes, he used his hands to circle over his chest. “Here. Like a void, b-but... angry. An angry void.” He clenched his teeth and the needle like tears broke free, falling over his cheeks so hot that he tried to brush them away, only clearing the way for more.

Kaito’s years of experience and professionalism were the only thing preventing him from hugging Izuku. This was always hard for him, no matter how many patients had he treated.

Why must children suffer so much?

“What else?” He toned up his scent, letting it embrace the crying boy.

“A need,” he stuttered those words, like if they refused to leave him. “I just... I-I want to be o-okay!”

Piled up frustration flowed with such a strength that if he hadn’t been diagnosing Izuku for so many months already, it would have surprised Kaito. A dam was broken and Izuku couldn’t stop his frustration any longer. Not a single rational thought inhabited his mind; every ugly emotion he had been feeling and stashing in the back of his head, caged inside his frail heart, was out and between his cries and sobs and tears, Kaito was able to catch the most important question of the moment.

Why can’t I get better?

“Izuku.”

His voice couldn’t reach the boy, but his quirk could. He had only had a couple of patients before that had needed this treatment before and he knew it’d be exhausting for him to force his quirk so much, but he had a duty with this boy and no amount of scowls he was going to get from Kei would make him stop in that moment.

He was a doctor and his patient needed it.

So he toned up so much his scent quirk that he felt light headed and sick. The odor was unbearable, like a heavy dose of vanilla or eating a spoonful of sugar. But for Izuku, the smell reminded him to his mother, the cleanness of his house and the skinny hug of his hero.

After a few minutes, his crying was almost gone.

“Izuku.” This time, he heard his therapist’s voice and with difficulty, fatigue wearing him down, he lifted his head.

Kaito looked as professional as always, his own sickness very well concealed.

“Answer me this,” he asked and Izuku barely noticed how he had his notebook besides him, pen out of reach. “When was the last time you took a knife with the intention of hurting yourself?”

The question in itself was a simple one and it was very logical. Izuku was being treated not only for his crippling depression, but foremost for his suicidal tendencies. During the first months of treatment, Kaito would ask that same question with different words many times and Izuku always had an answer for it. Good or bad, there was always an answer.

However, this time he didn’t had one.

“When was the last time you went near a balcony or rooftop, feeling the need to jump?”

He just couldn’t...

“Or have you felt the temptation to jump in front of the subway in the last few months?”

He just couldn’t remember when was the last time for any of those questions.

Kaito read the inner turmoil inside the boy, perplexity clear in his tired out eyes. It wasn’t the first time he had seen that look in a young patient, but it always sparked with something between sadness and hope.

“Izuku. Improvement is not always evident, especially when you’re at the bottom, like you were when you first came see me,” Kaito said, his posture leaned a bit towards Izuku. His quirk was going strong, but more gently than before. “But you’re making progress and I can see it. It’s not easy and it’s not painless. Some things will feel wrong, because you’re so convinced of your own uselessness, but that bad time is a sign of change. You’re changing how you perceive the world and yourself and that’s not an easy task. You’re facing a lot of your demons.”

It was easy for depressed people to see themselves at a standstill, like no matter what they did, they didn’t get any better. But it wasn’t true. Improvement wasn’t magical and it wasn’t something overnight. It took months and months of work and battling the skeletons in their own closet, but they could get better.

He could get better.

He would.

“But you are getting better. And I know you’re not having a good time now, but I promise that I’ll be with you in every step of the road and we will get through everything. Just... one step at a time.”

Izuku absorbed every single word Kaito said that time. He clung onto them and even with his exhaustion, his logical side understood them. Many things were still wrong and he still had a long road ahead of him. But Kaito was right. He hadn’t thought of killing himself (disregarding the fact that he objectively couldn’t) even after the USJ incident. He just sunk in his misery, locked himself from the world, but he hadn’t took the knife again like he had done on previous occasions.

It was a little victory.

Kaito let him process his words and calm down before taking his notebook again. He checked on Izuku’s treatment and then he checked the time.

They still had twenty minutes left, but he had the hunch that Izuku was ready to go.

“Do you feel like stopping here for today?” he asked, toning his voice down to not startle the tired out boy.

Izuku nodded, feeling an oncoming headache.

“Okay. I want to keep you on the dosage you’re taking now, okay?” Even when he was the professional here, he had discovered that teens tend to react better to the treatment if they felt their opinion of it was valued. When Izuku nodded slowly, he imitated his motion. “Do you want me to call your mother so she can pick you up?”

He hesitated. He hated to burden her, but at the same time he craved for her presence.

His heart ached for comfort.

So he nodded.

“Okay. I’ll call her now. You can lay down if you want, while she comes,” he suggested and without thinking, Izuku did as he said.

His eyes closed almost immediately. Oversensitive, he felt his face warm, eyes puffy and a mute migraine, but with a light chest.

“Hey...”

The soft voice of Kaito made him slightly open his eyes to look at him.

“Relapses are hard, but that doesn’t undo everything you’ve achieved so far. It might not be the last one, but remember: you’re going to be okay.”

Izuku couldn’t focus his eyes on him, but with a drowsy humming he let his therapist know he had listened him. Just before drifting to the land of the dreams, he felt a comforting weight over him, shooing away his migraine.

When Inko came for him, Kaito helped her carry Izuku to the car while instructing her about Izuku’s treatment. Having spare blankets in the office, he left the boy wrapped in the one he covered him with and after assuring one last time to the woman that it was no problem at all, he said goodbye and saw them off.


Hitoshi liked to arrive early to UA. Not because he loved the place —which he did, but not entirely— but because he had access to its enormous library and, being almost empty at that hour, he could enjoy it to his heart’s content without anyone ruining his mood. From time to time, he would cross paths with a senior student, but they had never exchanged a single word. They just respected the other’s presence and aside from being able to recognized him in the hall by his black hair and long elvish ears, that was about it.

That morning, the senior student wasn’t there. The librarian was too invested cleaning a particularly tall shelf, so he silently passed by his side and went directly to a table which wasn’t directly in the view of the librarian in order to have breakfast while reading.

He took out a thick book, a loan from the library he was due that day to return, his own notebook and his breakfast (a small milk box with a hand-drawn smiley face, an appetizing sandwich and a banana his mother packed him). Removing the cat shaped bookmark, he started to re-read chapter number seven, minding to not leave too many bread crumbs on it.

>>7. Mental Quirks and Related<<

It was his third time reading that same book, but he liked it. Every new read let him extract new ideas from it and his notebook was no longer filled with silly doodles, but also with messy scribbles about the topic. He had found a fair share of quirk related books in UA, which was a rather obvious discovery, so from the moment Aizawa had taken him under his wing, he had started to dig deeper into his own quirk and, as a consequence, in other quirks too.

He wanted to become better and stronger, and Aizawa’s training wasn’t going to be enough. If he really wanted to change departments, he needed to be well prepared; all the more reason with the Sports Festival right in the next corner.

So, the library had become his second home during the mornings, since evenings were designated for training. He couldn’t say he hadn’t been a reader before, but he was more interested in sci-fi and noir fiction novels. However, he quickly found a new passion for quirk related books and he had learned so much about them in such a short time, that he was eager to get his hands on more books around the topic.

>>[...]under the ‘manipulative’ section, alongside the ‘creators’ (refer to chapter 3) Mental Quirks were the first ones added to the watch list of[...]<<

He had been thrilled after learning the amount of heroes in the last decade that had mental related quirks. Of course, they hadn’t been the most popular but they existed and their records were mostly impeccable. He still owed himself to look for any interview he could find online, but the fact that UA provided students a wide range of records about many of the heroes they had raised reassured him that this choice, coming to UA, was the right one.

No matter what anyone would say.

No matter what anyone would think.

He was so focused on the book, taking notes that he honestly had already taken before, that he failed to notice the librarian nearing him. It wasn’t until a plastic bag was dropped over the book that he noticed them, a bit startled, only to be greeted by an unfazed look and a lifted brow, but not a single reprimand.

The librarian looked at him a second longer and then left, leaving the plastic bag behind.

It was lucky for him that they were alone and the librarian had a soft spot for him. His ear would be red and in pain otherwise.

So he cleaned up his mess, discarding the empty milk box and the paper wrap of his sandwich. He quickly finished the halfway eaten banana and then tossed the peel inside the bag, almost tossing his cat bookmark with it. Packing his things with a bit of hurry, he promised himself to return the book before meeting with Aizawa and Midoriya, and then walked out the library and head towards the General Education Department.

The halls were full by that time and he hated it. For some reason, the second years would always block the way and it was bothersome to go through them without getting a few scoldings and scornful snickers.

But he knew a shortcut.

He didn’t like using it during the rush hour, though.

‘Ugh...’

But there was no other option if he didn’t wanted to be yelled by the Class President.

So, he headed towards the Heroes Department. By the floor with the first years, there was a big engineer room that was destined serve as a meeting point between the Heroes and Support Department. Many students from the latter department worked early in the morning to finish their projects, so it was unlikely for that room to be locked up, and since it connected those two departments and the Support was right next to the General Education Department, it was the fastest route with not many students clogging the halls.

As he had predicted, the hall had people in it, but nothing like his usual route. Since it wasn’t the first time he used that shortcut (in fact, he tended to use it only to look at the gadgets the Support students left in that room and hoped one day, one of them would be designed only for him) he recognized many faces even if he didn’t formally know them.

Like the previous days, he picked up stray conversations that would always shush when someone from class 1-A passed by towards their classroom.

‘Such gossipers...’ he thought with a bit of distaste, but said nothing.

Ignoring everyone and minding that no one would catch him heading towards the connection room, he moved across the hall and between people without much problem. He focused on not crossing eyes with anyone, but a few people noticed him anyways. Nothing happened, since they couldn’t recognize him.

Until he saw Midoriya.

Unlike last time, he was now accompanied by some classmates. Two girls, one very distinct by her frog features. Hitoshi almost went unnoticed, but it was the frog girl who noticed him and almost immediately, Midoriya and the other girl followed her gaze and looked at him.

He recognized him immediately.

And very much like the last time, he lifted a hesitant hand in a sloppy greeting gesture. Hitoshi felt his eyebrow lift automatically and an unexpected sad gleam in Midoriya’s eyes made him feel guilty.

He is just being nice...

His friends distracted him and it was his chance to slip away, getting lost in the rest of students. When he found the Support room, it was unlocked as always and he quickly went in, thanking that it was empty. Not wasting any time, he exited the big room by the Support’s door, the sound of tools being used and people shouting from one classroom to another made him uncomfortable. He picked up pace and soon he was in his rightful department.

The general chatter of class 1-C didn’t stopped when he entered, but no one greeted him. In silence, he went to his desk and started to unpack like any other day.

Right before the teacher entered the room, he remembered his brief encounter with Midoriya.

Maybe... only maybe... he was being a bit unfair to the guy.


Because of the delay caused by his medical leave and the upcoming Sports Festival, Aizawa deemed it adequate to train everyday after classes, only letting Izuku leave earlier on the days he had therapy. It made sense to both boys, but a part of them knew they were going to regret it.

It was noon on Saturday and Izuku felt like dying.

He thought he knew Aizawa’s training style, but he was wrong.     

Every single evening, the training would begin with some warm up that always included Yūrei. He had to summon him and make him run or fly, depending on Aizawa’s instruction, recording his time with a stopwatch given to him; every time Yūrei disintegrated, he had to call upon him again without taking breaks.

Izuku knew that whatever Yūrei did while existing wasn’t harming to him. It didn’t take his own stamina or anything, but the act of summoning him, gathering the needed amount of black sand (which was still a mystery for him on how he was able to do it only by thought), was tiring.

So by the end of the warm up, Izuku was already worn out.

After he was unable to summon Yūrei, the physical part of the training would come. Aizawa would apply the no-quirk condition and the instructions changed from fighting to a military-like circuit, to cooperative work to an obstacle race. Izuku was impressed with the creativity that Aizawa possessed, especially because each one of the activities they’d do felt as exhausting as the last one.

However, fighting was his favourite. Even when he could apply his head in other tasks, analyzing the environment to look for faster or easier ways to achieve their goal, the thrill of analyzing an opponent would always win. Trying to learn Shinsou’s pattern, to read his mind just by how the look of his eyes changed or by the way his body shifted to leave an opening was the most exciting part of it.

But it was bittersweet too. A deep part of him was envious of Shinsou, how the boy was still superior with his physical strength and how the training with Aizawa paid off. If it wasn’t for his quick thinking and his ability to learn fast, they wouldn’t be tied by the end of the week, especially because the other boy wasn’t all about raw strength, but he was also quite analytical. Maybe not much as Izuku, but more than once he had been tricked by him.

He needed to get stronger, to catch up and since he wouldn’t be growing a lot over the night, he needed to work with what he had.

After the physical training, which often lead to many corrections and a set of repetitive exercises to polish their flaws and focus on their personal strengths, came the quirk training. It was always left for the last part to give Izuku time to recover and summon Yūrei once again; of course, Shinsou didn’t know that detail. Aizawa never disclosed anything regarding the boy’s quirks and by the fact that they’d train in private, there was some sort of unsaid agreement of not sharing anything outside what they discovered by themselves during their fights.

The quirk training modality would vary and that variation involved someone unexpected.

Izuku held all heroes in high regard, no exceptions (well, maybe the rude ones, like Endeavor). So when Present Mic appeared the first session, he was thrilled. After Aizawa introduced him as his co-coach and that they’d take turns with each one during the quirk training, Izuku was brimming over with excitement, eyes replaced with stars for such an opportunity. Up to that moment, he had only seen the man in action on video. In UA, he was only the host of the entrance exam and his English teacher, so the opportunity to train under his wing was an honour.

It was only when the blonde man laughed boisterously, thanking him for such kind words and telling (correction: yelling) that he’d not let him down, not on his watch!, that Izuku noticed that he had said all his thoughts out loud. It was impossible for him not to blush madly, mad at himself for his bad habits (he was such an otaku, for heaven’s sake!), but tried not to say anything else that could embarrass him more and let the men do the talking.

So, until Saturday they’d been taking turns between Mic and Aizawa, receiving a different treatment depending on who they were training with. With Mic, they’d usually explore the lengths of the new ability he learned about his quirk. It was quite fitting, actually, considering that it was a vocal aspect of his quirk and Mic was... well, Present Mic, the Voice Hero.

The first time was a bit awkward, to say it gently. Mic told Izuku that Aizawa debriefed him only in the general aspects, but never actually took the time to explain his ability other than it was voice related.

“So let’s not ruin the surprise! Hit me with everything you have!” He had said.

It was a bad idea.

After he said that, the boy was suddenly pale and even though he tried to comply, oh how he tried, he couldn’t find his voice and it was really, really hard to concentrate on the present and not remember the afraid eyes of his classmates. Mic panicked the instant he understood Izuku was panicking, but quickly went to his side, massaging his back and instructing him to repeat several numbers with him until the boy calmed down.

“Don’t think about it, just follow me,” he shushed as gently as he could, voice still a bit loud. “One, ten, seven, twenty four, zero, fifty, one hundred...”

It took Izuku three numbers before following the man’s lead and soon, they were chanting a series of random numbers. With each passing number, his wandering mind started to ground and he regained his voice, a bit broken but still.

After apologizing for his insensitivity, Mic decided to use the first quirk training to just talk about this new found ability. He wasn’t an idiot to not know that Izuku was struggling a lot with this new discovery, for known or unknown reasons to him, and if he was going to start using it, they had to work on understanding the fear and eliminating it.

It took a bit of convincing, but Izuku was able to retell the incident with his classmates and what he was able to figure out thanks to his friends.

Of course it had to be the USJ incident...

Mic saw red again, renew hate towards the Villain Alliance, but the vision of his troubled student was enough to ground him.

It wasn’t the time for this.

So, that day, they just talked. He let Izuku talk, even if it was very little and, in return, he talked to him about his own experience with his quirk. Mic told him the moment he activated his quirk for the first time when he was five years old, and how he had broken the eardrum of his neighbour just by saying hi. How it was difficult for him to moderate his voice volume, even to this day, because of his upbeat personality.

He just liked to speak his heart out.

It didn’t helped much at first, but the more he talked to Izuku, the more relaxed the boy looked. He intertwined his experiences with a voice related quirk and the ups and downs of it with the many ways an ability like that could be of use in the hero field, which completely captured his interest.

When Aizawa went to tell those two that time was up, he found them chatting and laughing so comfortably that it was almost a shame to interrupt them.

Almost.

So, by Saturday, Izuku was still unsure about using his paralyzing voice, but Mic promised him that in no time, they’d be training like champions and he’d make the best out of this new ability.

When he had quirk training with Aizawa, things went differently. The man told him that he trusted in Mic to train this new ability, so they’d restrict themselves to Yūrei. From their last training before the USJ incident, the ghost hadn’t changed at all. Aside from the extra ten seconds he was able to keep his summoning, there was no real improvement on it and that, in Aizawa’s opinion, was bad.

“In the meantime, the ghost is your real strength. So, if it doesn’t do anything more than we’ve already discovered, we have to work our way around it,” he told Izuku while examining the powder-covered creature in front of him.

Since Recovery Girl had forbid Aizawa from doing any kind of physical activity, fighting Yūrei like they did before was out of question for the moment. Their creativity was tested during this part of the training, not only because of the lack of combat, but because of Izuku’s own limits. After exhausting the number of times in a row he could summon Yūrei during the warm up, he only had the strength to call him two times after it. And every time, his physical form lasted less, so they had to work not only with it, but about it.

“Had any luck summoning two at the same time?” Aizawa asked, remembering that the same idea had been reviewed before.

But there was no luck and it wasn’t any different during those days.

So, when Saturday came, it was the first day that Shinsou and Izuku were together for quirk training. Aizawa explained that they’d use the same method they used the first time they had trained together, so they were dispatched for their fifteen minutes preparation.   

This time, while the kids fought against each other, both Mic and Aizawa commented on it. The first round was mostly to them, pointing out strengths and weaknesses and arguing about the best training plan to help them. The second round, Aizawa asked Mic to take notes in order to not forget any details and the third, Mic started to feel more like when he was announcing the UA Sports Festival and soon, Aizawa didn’t have the heart to stop him.

Mic’s comments fueled the boys’ spirits and the battle ended abruptly when Izuku was confident enough with the course of his tactic and almost used the paralyzing scream out of strategy.

Almost being the keyword.

He froze up right there and if it wasn’t for Mic’s sound wave interfering, Shinsou’s punch would have worsen Izuku’s panicking state.

“What the hell, Mic-sensei!” Shinsou grunted, his view blocked by said man’s back. He was about to win, dammit!

“Shinsou.” Aizawa’s voice was stern, giving no room for arguing. “We’re done for the day. Go to the showers,” he said, leaving no room for an answer.

Frustration built up inside his chest, a strong feeling of unfairness and bitterness towards Izuku. He held Aizawa’s gaze for another moment and then, grumbling, he left towards the showers, looking just one last time to the source of his anger before leaving.

The far away, terrorized look in Izuku’s eyes, so full of remorse and guilt, threw him off.

But Aizawa’s harsh look, almost defying, stopped him from saying or asking anything. Looking for the first time with a tint of worry in his eyes, Shinsou left, leaving the two adults with the troubled boy.

Aizawa let Mic do basically all the work, knowing that he knew perfectly well how to handle Izuku in that state. With years of handling himself with his own panic attacks, especially since before there wasn’t as much awareness about mental health like it was nowadays, Mic was the ideal person for the moment. He only had to shush him a couple of times, but he let him do his magic, counting random numbers with Izuku.

“I’msorryididn’twantedi’msorry--” Izuku breathed out almost incomprehensibly.

“You did nothing wrong, Midoriya,” Aizawa said to him in the same way he talked to a frightened cat. “You didn’t hurt anyone and we’re not in danger, so it’s okay.”

And all of that lead to that moment, Izuku sitting on the floor, his tracksuit jacket over his head, Aizawa sitting next to him and Mic somewhere getting him a bottle of water.

He was so tired of this.

It would be easier to just die.

“There’s nothing to be ashamed of, Midoriya,” Aizawa suddenly said.

The boy slowly turned his covered head towards him, eyes puffy and weary.

“We all deal with heavy stuff. You just deal with a lot more compared with your classmates, so it’s okay to fall down sometimes.” Izuku looked down, eyes fixed in the floor, and his silence spoke volumes. “Hey,” he called.

Slowly, Izuku looked up again.

“It’s okay to rely on us. You don’t bother us,” he said firmly, almost like a scolding but not really.

“It’s just... frustrating...” Izuku mumbled, voiced tinted with exhaustion and a spark of anger at himself.

Aizawa sighed heavily.

“I know, kid.”

Even still, the silence was less pregnant and less painful between them, so that was a start. Aizawa was so ready to head home and sleep like a log for days.

Mic was taking his sweet time or otherwise he’d be back by now. Aizawa felt tired from his recovering injuries and the day, but he wasn’t going to leave Izuku alone. That’d be irresponsible and he was many things, but not irresponsible. Unlike others.

“All Might asked about you,” Aizawa commented, not looking to Izuku.

He felt the intense gaze of the boy.

“He asked how you were,” he continued, his voice betraying him a little by a tiny note of irritation. But he wasn’t annoyed by Izuku, but by the man; he was like a jumbo sized baby when it came to social relationships.

He let a couple of seconds slips, hoping for Izuku to find his voice and talk.

“...really?” He asked with a voice so tiny that it sounded painfully childlike. After he nodded, Izuku asked again. “...what did you say?”

“Better. That you were doing the best you could.” He shrugged a little, remembering the many times the tall man had asked the same question.

They both heard footsteps far away, so Mic was clearly coming back. A tiny figure appeared in the horizon and he was clearly not carrying only water. Even when he felt like smiling, Aizawa only grumbled.

“He’s waiting for you,” he said to Izuku, making the most of their alone time left, “he misses you and you miss him.” He looked directly at the boy, who looked hopeful, yet sad.

This were two idiots dancing around each other, not knowing how to talk properly after an argument.

He sighed.

“Whatever you want to do, do it soon. I don’t want you distracted from training because of this.” And he recovered his stern and distant facade, like it wasn’t a big deal to talk about personal stuff like they just did. But Izuku knew better and a tiny smile, so small and brief that it wasn’t easy to catch, lightened up his face.

It was incredible how kind Aizawa was.

“Hey! I found food too!” Mic shouted from his place, not making any effort thanks to his quirk. He was waving eagerly some fruit (maybe an apple from its shape?) and potato chips, almost dropping the bottle of water in the process.

That made Izuku chuckle.

“Thanks, Mic-sensei. You didn’t had to,” he thanked when the man was in front of him, handing down all the goods. His stomach grumbled lazily, like it was thanking on its own.

Mic laughed a bit loudly, which was honestly quite annoying, but Izuku didn’t say anything.

“Don’t sweat it, kiddo. You deserve it,” he said while doing a thumbs up, toothy smile bright and wide. “You did a great job today! We’ll keep up the good work next time, okay?” His mood was contagious and Izuku couldn’t stop himself from smiling, a bit tired, but truthfully.

“Yes! Thanks for the training. I’ll take my leave,” Izuku bowed both men respectfully and went back to the lockers, craving a long shower before leaving home.

Aizawa and Mic saw him off, noticing how he looked better than by the end of the fight with Shinsou. It was a relief and it made Mic hopeful; it was going to take a little work, but he was thrilled to help Aizawa train these two kids.

“Feelin’ okay, Shouta?” He wasn’t stupid and he could clearly see how Aizawa’s shoulders slumped and how his movements were a bit slower than normal.

“Yea’, yea’. Let’s just go, I need some cat time,” he muttered in response.

Mic laughed obnoxiously and Aizawa groaned loudly.

“Sure thing, Shouta. But I’m changing your bandages while we’re at it. You stink.”

Aizawa rolled his eyes.

“Har, har.”    

Chapter Text

“Are you not coming, Kirishima-kun?”

“I’ll be there in a moment. I need to do something first!” Kirishima said, giving Izuku a thumbs up, but minding not to say anything more.

Izuku didn’t think much of it and just told him that he’d be saving him a place in their table. Ochaco linked her arm with Izuku’s before repeating the action with Tenya’s arm before leaving, followed by an amused Tsuyu who reminded Eijirou to not do something stupid.

He smiled at them as he saw them off.

It was scary how Tsuyu always seemed to know what they were doing. Was that some kind of frog power?

‘No, wait, don’t get distracted. Mina is not going to be able to keep him any longer!’ He reminded himself, starting to run elsewhere.

Lately, he had an off feeling around Bakugou. They weren’t exactly best friends with friendship bracelets or anything, but before the attack at USJ he started to feel comfortable enough around him and after their forced teamwork, he felt like if the spark of a true lasting friendship was there. Not only with him, but also the gang they’ve been unconsciously forming. Mina, Sero, Kaminari...

But in the past weeks, something between them was off. He felt some weird distance between them. It was just him, right? It was probably nothing, but after discussing the issue with his middle school friends, he decided to talk it out with the blonde, just to clarify everything.

He had to thank the pink haired girl for doing the favour of holding him back. At first, he thought of asking Sero (since Kaminari was out of the question) but just before he could speak to him, Mina appeared and asked him what he was doing, which lead to the present moment where he knew she was delaying a certain blonde during lunch hour. He had to hurry, or Mina could suffer the consequences of an angry Bakugou and that was something that he wished on no one (and by that, he meant a truly pissed off Bakugou, not the grouchy boy he was at every waking hour).

They weren’t so very away and he’d be lying if he said that his stomach didn’t twist into a knot the moment he saw them talking in the distance.

He really didn’t wanted to make him angry, but he had a higher purpose and was committed to do it.

“Guys! Sorry for the wait!”

His bright smile couldn’t be eclipsed even by Bakugou’s frown.

“My job here is done! Have a nice chat!” Was everything that Mina said, clapping her hands and walking away as quickly as she could, stomach growling and sense of survival advising to get away.

They watched her leave in silence, which wasn’t exactly nice but it wasn’t uncomfortable.

When Bakugou turned to look at him, his eyes glared like daggers.

“What the fuck you want, Hair for Brains?” He practically spitted the question, but either Eijirou was too dense to notice it or he just didn’t care.

“Just to talk, man. You’re hard to catch. Lately you’ve been doing nothing but train,” he said with his characteristic easy going smile, not reprimanding Bakugou but just commenting on the fact as if they were talking about the weather.

“Damn right I am, and you should be doing the same. Not like it gonna matter against me,” Bakugou answered, his frown never leaving him. That stood out to Eijirou, because it was somewhat contradictory. He seemed bothered, but his grouchy voice wasn’t angrier than usually.

It kind of bothered him.

“Yeah, yeah, whatever you say man,” he downplayed it, careful to keep his own tone light and friendly.

A weird silence stretched out and Bakugou lifted an eyebrow, not really understanding why he was standing there like an idiot instead of going for some well deserved food. He was hungry and he was sure Eijirou was too, so being like that seemed such a waste of time.

But he wasn’t stupid and even if Eijirou looked like an idiot, he knew he wasn’t.

“Well, what do you want? ‘Cos if you don’t have anything to do but smile like a moron, I’m gonna eat,” he said, turning around in order to go to the cafeteria. It was going to be packed and he hated to walk among so many sheep.

Eijirou panicked.

“No, no! Wait!” He stopped Bakugou by grabbing his forearm, which seemed to have upset him.

The red daggers pierced through him again and this time, he had the decency to acknowledge it. He gulped and suddenly seemed not so calmed anymore, which was unusual, at least in Bakugou’s books.

“I want to ask you something, but you have to answer me seriously,” he asked with a slightly pleading  tone. “Are we friends?”

Bakugou’s red eyes turned white in disbelief and now he actually looked angry.

“You really wasting my time for that stupid question?” He felt his blood hot and the air around them had a pinch of sweetness, which meant bad news.

“That’s exactly what I’m talking about, man!” Eijirou attacked in return, freeing Bakugou’s arms and frowning in bother. “With you is like walking over eggshells everyday! I understand that you’re not the nicest guy around, but I’ve been trying my best to get along with you, and it’s not just me! Mina and Sero and Kaminari too, we’ve been including you in every group activity, but I feel like we’re only hinder you!” His voice sounded a bit more hurt than he intended to, but it was hard to control it now that he was finally speaking his heart out.

He really wanted to make good friends with everyone in the class, but Bakugou was such a pain in the ass and he honestly didn’t understood why.

“Why do you push everyone away, man? We’re not your enemies, we want to be your friends. But you make it so goddamn difficult!” And with every word, Bakugou’s scowl turned more pronounced.

“Did I asked you to be my fucking friends? No! I don’t need friends.” He ignored the broken look in Eijirou’s eyes and kept on going, emotion controlling his words like always.

“I thought we were getting somewhere, after fighting together in the attack...” His voice was quickly becoming smaller, drowned in Bakugou’s fierce voice.

“Well, you thought wrong. If you want a shitty friend, then go with fucking Deku and his fucking flock like always and do whatever you fucking want to.”

He meant to use that as the final word, turning his back and stomping his way away towards the cafeteria.

But he only took a couple of steps before Eijirou’s words stopped him.

“So that’s it. It's not with everyone, but with me and it’s because of Midoriya, isn’t it?”

At the sole mention of that name, Bakugou saw red again and was about to shout some nonsense, but Eijirou was faster.

Yet he didn’t looked hurt anymore.

He was pissed off.

“You’re angry with me because I’ve been spending time with Midoriya, right?” It wasn’t much of a question, but an statement.

“I don’t care about shitty Deku,” he tried to say, but Eijirou was expecting that answer. They might not have years of friendship and he might not be the brightest guy in the bunch, but the animosity between those two was known by anyone and he had paid attention.

“Really? Because for not caring about him, you’re awfully interested in everything he does.”

The sweet smell of nitroglycerin told Eijirou that it was the wrong thing to say, but he was ready to face Bakugou. He was tired of being the nice, oblivious friend.

“What the fuck you said, fucktard?”

“I don’t know what kind of history you two have, but don’t throw me in your problem.” Eijirou said, standing tall against Bakugou. “I thought you were busy lately preparing for the Sports Festival, but you’ve been avoiding me too, right? I’ve seen you with the guys, so the problem is with me, not with everyone.”

The crackling was supposed to be threatening, but Eijirou didn’t care.

“With you, everything goes back to Midoriya. I don’t know what is your problem with him, because he’s a genuinely good mate and I like hanging out with him. I thought I could be friends with everyone, but I guess I was wrong.”

“You may not believe me, but I honestly thought we could be friends. You may have a terrible temperament, but I liked the other things about you. You’re smart and have good things to talk about, like heroes and TV shows. You’re strong and stubborn and I like the few times we trained together. But if I have to give up my friendship with other people because you don’t like them... then I think this is not a friendship I want.”

And the same broken look in his eyes returned with those last words, reflecting how hurt Eijirou felt about the matter.

He had come to talk with him in order to understand why he felt Bakugou so distant lately. He thought it was his mind playing tricks with him, but the understanding of the root of the problem was something not unexpected, yet still painful.

The downsides of getting easily attached to people.  

If he wasn’t so affected by it, he’d notice that Bakugou was struggling on how to respond. However, he didn’t wanted nor expected an answer from him, so he just turned his own back to him and go.

“Sorry for bothering you with my friendship. I’ll make sure to not do it again.”

And with that, he left, with sweetness in the air and a heart heavy in his chest.

This was not something he expected from his first high school year at UA.


Like the day she met with Toshinori and the next day, when she met Mitsuki, Inko left work at six o’clock sharp in order to have enough time to arrive home, clean the place, and be decent before Mitsuki ringed the bell.

Their first meeting had been... uneventful. It was nice, don’t get her wrong, but it wasn’t what she had envisioned it to be. It wasn’t like she liked to meddle into things that weren’t her business, on the contrary, but she felt like Mitsuki was holding some kind of load on her back that was suffocating her even when it was difficult to spot. Maybe she was wrong and there wasn’t any big problem, but her guts told her otherwise and she wanted to help the woman.

She cared for her, even after everything that happened.

However, every time she mustered to courage to asked her something or to guide the conversation to what could be making her have such a well concealed sad glimpse in her eyes, Inko chickened out. It wasn’t her place to ask and they weren’t close enough to talk about personal matters. She felt the urge to ask, it was just that the valor to do it eluded her.

And in that way, time flew and suddenly they were saying goodbye.

It was in the last minute, like in the street, that she invited her over a second time.

So now she had this dilemma. She could always be a good host and have a nice chat, like before, avoiding any sensitive topics (like their sons) or she could be more straightforward and lend her an ear, even at the risk of being insensitive and nosy.

She sighed. Why was she doing this?

At a certain crossroads, she stopped at the red light. The crowd was a bit larger than usual, but as always everything was as calm as rush hour permitted. Thanks to Izuku’s obsession with quirks and Pro Heroes, she developed the habit of looking at the people around her, noticing the obvious quirks in the mutant type and trying to memorize it to tell Izuku later.

It was thank to that he noticed a certain man in the crowd. He didn’t stand out with a noticeable quirk; he looked pretty normal, aside from his thick eyebrows.

‘Kaito-san also have thick brows...’ The thought made her smile a bit, but she hid it behind her hand.

She was about to stop looking at the unknown man because that was just rude, but it catch her attention how he seemed to be murmuring to the air. It was like when Izuku was deep in thought, but he didn’t looked trapped in his mind like when Izuku was murmuring to himself, but it was like if he was talking to someone.

It was just then when she noticed the headset on his ear.  

“WATCH OUT!”

A man’s scream startled her, followed by the sound of glass and concrete breaking, but it came just in time for her to watch a piece of debris flying directly into her position. With a surprised yelp, she summoned her ghost while shielding herself with her arms, legs frozen in place, and it was thanks to his quick action that she wasn’t hit directly. Displaying his incredible strength, Kuro-chan redirected the flying debris away from her, shattering it in large chunks in the process.

The rising screams of the multitude around her forced Inko to open her eyes, noticing how chaos reigned the sector.

It took her a moment to understand what was happening, Kuro-chan being the only thing preventing the scared multitude from hurting her. She couldn’t see the buildings that should be surrounding her and the street she was on just a second ago, knowing the walk back home like the palm of her hand; there was some kind of black dome blocking their way out, concealing everything in darkness and the people inside was calling for help, for any Pro Hero that could hear them, to get them out.

“EVERYONE! RETREAT!” It was the same voice from before and inside that weird darkness, she could see someone taking the lead.

It was hard to see, but it was probably a Pro Hero.

She tried to do as he said, but the people around her were failing at remaining calm. It was somewhat understandable. Watching a fight between a villain and a Pro Hero was only cool if you weren’t involved in any way. But they were inside the villain’s domain and they were in immediate danger; their quirks weren’t useful in battle and they were just common citizens.

The darkness wasn’t just for the show either. Something about it provoked deep fears and everyone was falling into despair.

Inko wasn’t immune to it. She was latching onto her ghost, his presence being the only thing that prevented her from running aimlessly like the others. But it also restrained him and could only act to defend her from immediate danger.

Between deep breaths, trying to ignore what her upset mind was trying to make her believe, she could faintly hear the alarms of emergency vehicles outside. She tried to use that sound to ground herself, but the deeper the darkness became, the harder it was. Suddenly she remembered that Kuro-chan wasn’t permanent and that the clock was ticking and he’d disappear anytime and she’d be alone. That fueled her desperation farther and she was suddenly lacking something.

Something important.

Someone precious to her.

That was driving her insane.

You lost him.

The fight between the mysterious villain and the unseen Pro Hero continued in the background, but she couldn’t hear it anymore. Between her panic and the multitude, she felt the urgency to escape, to search for whoever she lost, yet her legs failed her and wouldn’t move. People gathered around her, punching the walls of the dark dome, desperate to flee.

It was hard to breathe.

Debris rained over everyone and Kuro-chan did his best to keep her safe, but her decaying sanity was making it hard to act and he was disintegrating into black sand faster than ever.

With every passing second, the dome was getting smaller around them and panic rose at an alarming rate. She could feel people crashing onto her, pushing her body like if it wasn’t there and she wasn’t a person standing next to them, as in danger as they were. There was no consciousness between them; they were things hindering them from escaping, not human beings.

Suddenly, the oppressing darkness disappeared into thin air, the outside sounds crashing into everyone’s ears to the point the were deaf and fresh air filled their lungs aggressively; yet they were still blind, eyes under a misty blackness.

The crowd, still under the effects of the deep darkness and the desperation it lead to, started to run everywhere in order to escape, only lead by fear. The authorities that had arrived were unprepared for the chaos they were facing, having not yet cleared the streets from other curious pedestrians and only two other Pro Heroes had arrived with them, their quirks unqualified to contain a human stampede.

Screams filled Inko’s ears and her treacherous legs made her trip and her body was suddenly under a terrible pressure and the stampede was over her and pain was everywhere, hot and strong, piercing through all her body for seconds that felt like eternity.

In that moment, there was nothing but fear and suffering.

It lasted an agonizing minute, maybe even less.

Then, nothing.


“You’re doing great, boy!”

Mic’s voice was cheerful and he felt like smiling, pride glimpsing past the fatigue.

After many failed tries, Izuku was finally finding his new voice and using it.

Well. Sort of.

After his failed attempt during his last match with Shinsou, Aizawa and Mic had talked in depth about what they should do with Izuku regarding the matter of his paralyzing voice and the innate trauma that came with it and decided that, even if it was going to be a hard task, it would be better to focus on that than to train in pairs. The sooner they helped Izuku to get over it, the best it would be for everyone.

So, they stopped changing coaches every day and Izuku was assigned to quirk training with Mic, at least until he could solve this problem. It was hard for him to not feel like they were somehow grounding him, but he tried to see the positive light (as hard as it was) of it and take the opportunity to train with another Pro Hero he admired.

Aizawa was far better at teaching than Mic, which was quite unexpected considering his grouchiness. Mic wasn’t bad at all, but Izuku could tell how Mic was doing his best in the same way a first time teacher would do it. It felt a bit like when he started to train under Toshinori’s wing, but louder.

Like much, much louder.

But it had proven useful, because while Mic was obnoxious, he was also a sensitive person. He was cheerful and positive and knew how to deal with him when panic rose, which was less and less frequent now. Frustration came easily, though, because not even at the start of his own quirk training, with just his mother and him, had been so difficult.

Finding his voice was, so far, the hardest part of everything.

However, he was stubborn and dedicated and that yielded results. They tried different approaches and it took just one successful try (one that was by accident, but still) to let Izuku get the grasp of it and start to work around it, analyzing it deeply even with the struggle of it.

He had talked with Kaito, not in much detail as every time he talked about his quirk with almost everyone, about it and he had pointed the obvious, but not less right, answer: it was an unconscious leash he was putting on himself, mental restrains he had said, which only he could release. So he took the mission seriously and studied and trained hard like he always did.

After countless failed attempts after the accidental success, he started to succeed sparsely. It was weak, only managing to paralyze Mic for a couple of seconds, but it was something. The man encouraged him, telling him that they were in the right path already and Izuku clung into those words, trying to calm down the frustration that boiled inside him.

When they discovered that there was a way to counteract the effect, Mic was surprised how happy Izuku looked.

“I’m just excited to learn more and more about my quirk, sensei.” He had explained and even if he found a bit weird the reason (especially because the counteract was just wearing earplugs, which was incredibly simplistic), it was hard to not smile alongside him.

The boy was so easy to be fond of.

So now he had been dispatched earlier than usual, Mic explaining that he ought him a free afternoon (and it was completely unrelated to the fact that a beeper alerted him of strange movement in a certain abandoned building he was scouting, not at all) adding that he should prepare himself for the next day, because Aizawa and him were settling a joint training with Shinsou again.

It made Izuku nervous, but also excited.

So with a feeling of mild satisfaction he left the school, texting Ochaco and Tenya while walking. Maybe they could go for an ice-cream if they weren’t busy with their own training, for a change of pace.

18:27 [To: Uraraka-san ] still training?

18:27 [To: Iida-kun ] still training?

Her answer came right away.

18:28 [From: Uraraka-san ] on a break! why?

18:28 [From: Uraraka-san ] tsuyu say hi (*^▽^)/

He smiled at the answer, saving the emoji to himself.

18:30 [To: Uraraka-san ] left training early. lets go for an icecream? y(^ヮ^)y

Another beeping noise and a text from Tenya came through.

18:30 [From: Iida-kun ] My brother decided that today was a good day to skip training (please don’t do that, don’t be irresponsible, Midoriya-kun) and I’m niww.-as

“What?” Izuku stopped to read again the last part of the text when a new one came.

18:31 [From: Iida-kun ] HI IM TENSEI. ITS BROTHER TIME!

18:32 [From: Iida-kun ] THERES ENOUGH BRO FOR EVERYONE : D DO U WANMSF

Izuku couldn’t restrain himself from laughing a bit loudly at that. The face of mortification that Tenya was probably having in that exact moment was enough to make his evening better.

He noticed a new message from Uraraka, so while the brothers were probably fighting over Tenya’s phone, he checked it.

18:31 [From: Uraraka-san ] i cant (iДi) i promise mom to buy groceries and tsuyu has to pick up her bro from piano classs

18:32 [From: Uraraka-san ] next time?

18:34 [From: Iida-kun ] I’m really sorry for what just happened. My brother doesn’t understand the meaning of a private conversation.

He had to stop walking or he’d end up crashing against a lamp post.

18:34 [To: Iida-kun ] Dont worry I dont mind

18:34 [To: Iida-kun ] Let’s go another day, say hi to your bother in my name

18:35 [To: Iida-kun ] *brother

18:35 [To: Uraraka-san ] nxt time then! and say hi to Tsuyu 2

While he waited for either of them to answer, he searched for his headphones and opened the radio application, being his favourite station already tuned. He turned down the volume a bit, checking the incoming message from Tsuyu.

It was an image, or more specifically, a frog meme. He snorted rather ungraciously for the silliness, but sent back a meme from his own gallery.

18:40 [From: Iida-kun ] Tensei greets you too. Don’t forget about Cementoss’s essay. It due for tomorrow!

And with that he turned up the radio volume and resume his walking.

It took him a few seconds to catch up with what the hosts were saying, because the transmission was already on when he started to pay attention. The station was one dedicated solely for Heroes, of course, and it broadcast only hero related news.

For what he could understand, they were talking about a recent villain attack that happened near a subway station. From what he could understand, authorities and a good number of Pro Heroes were already on the scene and the situation was mostly under control, which stopped him from changing course just to look the Heroes on action, yet the reporters were saying that the attack had left several citizens injured.

<...at least fifteen civilians were reported to be gravely injured, most of them due to a human stampede caused by the release of the villain’s quirk. Local medical staff had moved them to the nearest hospital, where they’re going to be treated for...>

He was surprised by the magnitude of the attack. It was common to have two or three incidents on a daily basis, but aside from collateral damage in public and private property, Pro Heroes and authorities were usually efficient in keeping the public safe from harm.

‘I should look for this at home,’ he thought, knowing that one of the sites he frequented was known for having the most updated info, to the point that some of them were sure that a net of Pro Heroes or people working in Hero Agencies were the ones running the site.

<...authorities had apprehended the villain and they’d-- Mandalay! Mandalay, any declaration?>

The male reporter’s voice was replaced by a feminine voice that it made Izuku think about Yaoyorozu; like a level headed woman, who had the situation managed and that could be trusted.

<Everything is under control. Everyone injured had been taken to the nearest hospital, the police has in custody the two villains that caused this attack and we’ve verified that the effect of the fear-inducing quirk has stop affecting people. We want to thank the...>

The known speech that included thanking the police force and every other emergency staff lulled Izuku into a calm state of mind, knowing almost every word by heart. When the reporter came back, he listened half-heartedly to the damages caused by the attack, arriving home just when the reporter in site started to discuss with the hosts.

Taking off his shoes, he first entered his room and turned on his computer, wanting to check more detailed information about the attack and any other hero-related news later and changed his clothes. Immediately he went to the kitchen, checking if they were out of something so he could go buy and help his mother to make dinner before going out to jog and do some light training after dinner.

“Maybe I could get some ice cream too,” he muttered to himself, “what do you think?” he asked his ghost, summoning with ease thanks to the fact that he was training his voice quirk with Mic and not with Aizawa those days.

“Ic...e ... cr... ream...” Yūrei repeated, the familiar static filling his voice in a comforting way.

“Then ice cream it is.”

Before starting to check for dinner’s ingredients, he turned on the TV in the news channel and left it on half as background noise and half hoping to see something about the attack they mentioned in the radio.

“Try not to break anything with your wings,” Izuku asked Yūrei, letting him wander freely through the house just to keep on practicing like everyday.

The ghost kind of nodded (but he was sure he was making him do that movement in the back of his mind) and left towards his room, almost making a framed photo fall.

Without minding it much, Izuku began searching for the ingredients needed for curry, just like they had discussed during breakfast. He was on his tiptoes, trying to get down the bowls without Yūrei’s help when he lost his balance and almost fell on his butt, if it wasn’t thanks to the ghost’s body.

“Ugh, that was close. Thanks Yūrei,” he turned to see the ghost and instruct him to return to wander around aimlessly, when he noticed that this ghost was lacking wings.

It was Kuro-chan.

“Uh? Kuro-chan?” The ghost wasn’t exactly formed, black grains floating around him as if he was about to disintegrate any second now. “Mom? When did you arrived?”

But no one answered his calls.

Feeling an uncomfortable dread, but stopping himself from his paranoia, he turned to Kuro-chan and talked to her through him.

“Mom, where are you?” But the ghost didn’t respond, even when they’d been practicing to speak through them. For Inko it was harder than to him, since she had never known to do that until Izuku discovered it by accident, but she could still do it.

“Mom?”

Kuro-chan’s form disbanded.

“Mom?!” His voice was alarmed and his body moved before his mind finished even one coherent thought.

He was by the door in record time, shoes forgotten and Yūrei on his back, ready to fight. He opened the door so abruptly that if it wasn’t for his keen reflexes, he’d had hit Inko with it.

“MOM!”

She was covered in blood. Not so badly like when he jumped for the school’s building, but her clothes were torn in some places, dirt everywhere and blood staining the whiteness of her blouse and a portion of her skirt. If he wasn’t so agitated by the sight of his mother in that poor state, he’d have noticed that there were footprints on her clothes.

“Izuku, I’m okay, I’m okay, baby, I’m okay.” Her voice was rushed and a bit high pitched, but her head turned around in a paranoiac motion, which made Izuku react.

He took her with an unusual amount of strength, practically lifting her from the floor as if he was the very All Might with his inhuman strength and getting her in the house while closing the door at the same time. Yūrei was gone, only the two of them by the entrance, Izuku refusing to let her go.

“Mom, what happened? W-Why are you like this?” He take turns between hugging her and checking for injuries, noticing how she didn’t flinched at his touch.

He didn’t even noticed when his eyes turned misty, tears escaping without his permission.

Just by the sight of him, Inko began crying too.

“S-Shhh. I’m okay, baby. I’m okay.” She lulled him, voice and body trembling after the adrenaline went away.

It had been so many years since her last death that she had forgotten how painful it was.

But the worst part of it was seeing those beautiful, intelligent green eyes shining with understanding and suffering from that new knowledge. That was a far greater pain than the one she felt while dying under a panicking stampede.

Izuku felt suffocated, but he was unable to stop hugging her. One thing was knowing that they shared their quirk, one that granted immortality, but another thing was looking at her covered in dirt and blood, completely healthy but out of breath, and understanding that she had died and revived maybe minutes ago.

She died.

What if she wasn’t immortal?

She died.

You could have lost her.

Forever.

He would have kept on hugging her for hours if necessary, convincing himself that she was still there, healthy and alive. He would have, if he hadn’t been alert.

In a single movement, he used his own body to protect Inko, leaving her (confused, unsettled, alert) between him and the door. Behind them, crawling in from a window, someone was coming up.

Someone...?

No.

Something.

“Yūrei,” he called forth his ghost, black particles raining down his shoulders with a density higher than ever, as if this black matter was as upset as himself.

The winged ghost stood tall and imposing, more threatening than ever. It was a raw feeling of protection that grew inside him at a wild rate, trying to protect the one he loved the most.

A black thing came from the window, standing as tall as Yūrei.

Another black ghost.

And then.

¡! ¡!

Someone knocked on the door.

Chapter Text

Izuku’s mind was racing.

The creature in front of them was a ghost; he had doubted it for less than a second before throwing away the idea of a different kind of quirk. His eyes scanned the creature from head to toe and the only conclusion he ended up with was that it looked more like Kuro-chan, except from the fact that he had no head, just a stub in the form of a long pyramid.

Time seemed to slow down for him. In the back of his head, he knew he had heard someone knocking on the door. He was already formulating different scenarios, but none of them were plausible.

And the ghost was just standing there, like if it was waiting for something to happen.

“I’m not... your ene... my,” the ghost suddenly talked, sounding just like when he talked through Yuurei, voice drowned in static and a bit paused, but understandable.

Feeling cold sweat drenching his clothes, he covered Inko’s body with his own more, if that was possible. Yuurei stretched out his wings as far as he could, the hall too narrow for them to be fully unfolded. Yet, he still looked big and threatening, which was what unconsciously Izuku wanted.

“What are you, then?” Izuku asked, still sorting things out, trying to find a plan in case they needed to escape.

“My name i... s... Shimomura Iz... umi... I just want t... to talk.”

The other ghost moved slowly, holding up its arms and showing its palms in a distinctive peaceful pose, as if it was giving up. Izuku was still confused, too emotional to think rationally, when a feminine voice sounded a bit muffled from the other side of the door.

“I just want to talk. I’ll make the ghost disappear now.” The unknown woman said, her voice calm and collected. “I promise you I won’t do anything.”

And as she said, the ghost quickly disassembled in countless black grains as if it had never been there. Silence stretched a bit longer, Izuku’s head hurting for the accelerated thoughts crashing against his skull, but there was no logical reason to trust or distrust this woman. In fact, the proof that she shared their same quirk was enough to make him excited (any other moment, not today) but it was also highly suspicious for her to suddenly appear at their door.

When a warm, gentle grip on his left hand took him out of his own mind, he noticed his mother with that nervous, but reassuring smile.

It’s going to be okay, it said.

And taking a few deep breaths, not letting down his guard (therefore keeping Yuurei formed, but with a less aggressive stance) and helping Inko to cover herself with a long coat that was hanging beside the door (and almost dropping the umbrella in the process), he opened the door.

In front of them, there was an executive-looking woman with a professional expression that was borderline threatening. She looked at them without any surprise, as if she had seen them before when Izuku was sure he had never seen this woman in his entire life, and with a calm, almost calculated gesture she handed them a card.

“I apologize for scaring you before, it wasn’t my intention at all.” She bowed politely, not a single change in her face and no sign of real regret. The woman was so cold that she looked like a doll.

Inko bowed too, taking her card with both hands.

Izuku looked it over, quickly reading its content.

-Shimomura Izumi-

Senior Agent

Ajin Department

“I don’t know who you are or what you want, but something makes me think that you’d prefer to talk in private.” Inko said, her voice small and fragile in comparison with Shimomura’s, yet still somewhat strong.

“Yes, please.”

“Izuku, please move Yuu-chan from the way.”

Still on edge, but trusting his mother, he did as he was told and stood aside to let the woman in. Before he closed the door, he checked outside out of instinct and noticed a black car parked on the street, the shadow of a person sitting on the pilot’s side.

Uncertainty pooling in his belly, he closed the door.

He followed the women to the living room, where Inko offered the woman a seat. It wasn’t exactly a social visit and the tension in the air could be cut with a knife, but this Shimomura woman didn’t seemed affected by it and she kept her head high, waiting for them to sit as well.

Mother and son shared a troubled look, which didn’t went unnoticed by Shimomura.

Without wasting time, she took the moment to speak first.

“Before starting, I believe that you’d be more comfortable if you changed clothes, ma’am.” She barely looked at Inko’s clothes, which were completely concealed under the heavy coat, but it was clear that somehow she knew about her bloody attire.

Izuku’s mind was still racing upon these new, unexpected and inexplicable facts, analyzing the woman as fast as his internal gears could spin.

“You’re very kind, Shimomura-san, but I’m fine the way I am,” Inko replied with a calmness that Izuku couldn’t explain. She arrived a few minutes ago, covered in blood and dirt and clearly not as calm as she was now, the way she handled herself was far too well.

His mind just couldn’t get a grasp in what made her get a hold of herself so quickly.

(Poor Izuku, so naive and too young to understand the strength that a mother, especially one that just saw her child in utter distress and now was in danger, has.)

“Do as you please,” the woman replied, her expression still. “Again, I apologize for my way of introducing myself. I needed to check your status and also it was the easiest way to show you that we are, in fact, the same.”

“Yet I can’t say I wasn’t a bit surprised to find an Ajin child at the same time.” She finished looking directly at Izuku, with a glimpse of curiosity in her dark eyes. “It’s been years since I met one of this age.”

Izuku’s mind came to a halt by the new foreign term that she used to refer to him, blurting the word without having the chance to stop his tongue.

“Ajin?” He repeated, his eyes sliding towards the card his mother still had a grip on, the word standing out like a neon sign.

For the first time in their brief exchange, they could see a change in Shimomura’s face. She lifted a brow and curiosity shone in her eyes before the glimpse transformed from puzzlement to understanding. It was so obvious and easy, yet it took her a moment to digest.

It’s been a while, after all.  

However, she didn’t had time for this now. Her phone beeped once, notifying an incoming message and Izuku could see that she had to resist the urge of checking its content.

“I wish I had more time to explain, but I’m in the middle of an important task right now,” Shimomura started, taking out a new presentation card and a simple ball pen, scribbling something on the back of the card. “I came here because it’s part of my job to keep track of every known Ajin in this sector and we happened to be in the scene where you were, ma’am. The IBM led us to you. From my previous experiences, showing my ghost is the quickest way to make another Ajin to believe my good intentions, but I believe that today wasn’t exactly the best way to approach you.”

Both Izuku and Inko were struggling to fully comprehend what Shimomura was talking about, but aside from the fact that Izuku knew she was using new terms for things they must know by now, they were pretty much lost.

Shimomura understood that, but didn’t had much time to spare. Especially when a second beeping interrupted them.

“W-Wait! Just give us some answers.” Izuku pleaded, his mistrust battling his need for answers.

Shimomura looked at her wrist watch and nodded to herself.

“Ajin is a rather primitive term used for people that possess this specific quirk; it was given to our kind during the first generation and it just stuck, so that’s our category now. I’m an Ajin myself, just like you and your mother.” She explained, not having forgotten their ignorance of the word.

“Ajin are not exactly unusual, but are extremely hard to identify. Many Ajin live most of their lives believing they’re quirkless, until their first death. And even after that, most keep themselves out of the radar, just like you two. If it wasn’t for your mother crossing paths with us today, we wouldn’t have known about you for who knows how long.”

There was something on her face, the way her eyes were still and trying so hard to conceal any emotion in order to not show any of her thoughts that made Izuku uneasy. It was like there was something else to know, as if only he could stretch his arm a little further, he could catch it.

A third beep and Shimomura stood up, offering the new card to Izuku.

“I’m sorry to offer so little, but you’re in no danger if that is what you fear,” she said and urged Izuku to take the card. “You can contact me or my partner at that number. We can offer some guidance, if you need or want anything. When you’re ready, that is.”

Izuku flipped over the card, reading a long number handwritten in the back. Another name was scribbled on it too.

Someone knocked on the door and Izuku could have sworn that he saw Shimomura looking a bit tired. Not in a bad way, though.

“I’ll see you out, Shimomura-san,” Inko said, standing up and taking the lead. It surprised Izuku a bit to see how his mother looked too ready to let the woman go, considering that she had answers to questions they hadn’t even asked themselves yet.

Under an awkward silence, the three walked together to the front door. Izuku was buzzing with questions and that was the only thing that prevented his legs from failing again. His eyes were fixed on Shimomura’s back and she could feel the intensity of his gaze, which was uncomfortable, yet it made her feel just a bit sad.

The moment Inko opened the door, Shimomura’s quick reflexes were the only thing that saved her from being accidentally knocked in the face by a young man’s fist.

“Oh! Izumi-san!” The man said, surprise colouring his face. His fist was caught by Shimomura with cat like reflexes, not roughly yet not gently.  

“You were supposed to wait me in the car, Nakano-kun.” She scolded him and for Izuku, it was like an adult chiding a child.

“Yeah, I know, sorry, you’re taking so long and Akiyama-san called and, w-wait, wait,” he stopped himself middle sentence, retrieving his hand and profoundly bowing before Inko. “I’m so sorry for almost smacking you! I didn’t realized you were about to open the door, ma’am!” He apologized and his voice was so earnest, so unlike the cold way Shimomura addressed them, that it threw them off.

Izuku was now next to Inko, who was feeling a bit bad for making this young man feel bad.

“N-No need to worry,” she urged, motioning him to stop bowing before the neighbours noticed.

“Is this your partner, Shimomura-san?” Izuku couldn’t resist to ask. It was fairly obvious by the way they talked to each other, the familiarity between them, but he still took a step ahead and shielded her mother with his body.

“Yes! I’m Nakano Kou, nice to meet you,” the man presented himself, smiling nicely and offering a hand to shake. He was younger than Shimomura and, just like his mother, the one facial feature that stood out for Izuku was Nakano’s thick eyebrows.

Just like Kaito-san , the thought in itself made this man less threatening. They shook hands and the friendliness of it made Izuku a bit less uncomfortable with all of this.   

He then remembered the scribbled name and matched it to this new face, which made it easier to remember.     

“I’d love to stay and chat, but unfortunately we have work to do.” Unlike Shimomura, Nakano did look sorry for being unable to stay longer and Izuku felt more relaxed around him.

It reminded him of Kaminari or even Kirishima, somehow.

“Can I ask something before you go?” He dared to ask, one specific question boiling hot inside him.

Shimomura looked at her wrist watch again and this time, checked her phone. Nakano looked at her as if she was the lead, waiting for her response.

“What is it?” She asked.

“Why keep on using a slang term for our category and not a simpler one like the Creators, the Manipulatives or the Elementals?” He asked, his thoughts hanging on the Ajin term, not finding any sense on it and already driving him forward to look on the terminology on the internet. “I mean, I know you said it stuck with us, but wouldn’t it be easier to create a category for Immortals instead?”

It made a lot more sense in his mind at least. He didn’t knew of any other quirk that could fit in that category though, being the most similar one was those people with quirks that allowed them to heal insanely fast; there were few documented cases, but they still existed. It wasn’t the same, but it was close enough, at least in the ‘unlike to die’ tone of the category.

Both Shimomura and Nakano shared a look and Izuku had trouble identifying what it meant. Nakano was a lot easier to read than Shimomura, he already had the hunch that he was the kind of people that wore their heart on their sleeve, but he was oddly ambiguous now. As if he himself couldn’t decide on how to react or feel about his question.

Finally, a beep and a catchy tune crackled the silence that followed his question and it was clear that they couldn’t stay any longer. Izuku was ready for a rushed goodbye, his question left behind, but to his surprise, they actually answered.

“It’s because... umm... well, immortal is not exactly a... a good word to describe us,” Nakano started, talking with his hands too. He mumbled a bit, unsure on what to say, but Shimomura took the lead again.

“Ajin is a broader, more complex concept; just like our quirk.” She said, looking Inko and Izuku. “We’re not immortal. We’re unkillable .”

The same catchy tune was now blasting from Nakano’s phone and true urgency painted his face.

“Shimomura-san.”

“Yes.” She complied, turning again towards the Midoriyas. “We must leave. We apologize for any inconvenience we may have caused you, but again, you’re safe.” She repeated, reading perfectly Inko’s face. “Nakano, let’s go.”

Busy with the person on the other side of the line, he could only wave them goodbye and they both walked quickly towards the car that Izuku previously saw parked (the shadow he saw before was probably Nakano waiting inside), not sparing even one look towards them.

Soon, the car was out of their sight and they were alone again.

Izuku was, once time, full of questions.

Why was there was an Ajin department? He wasn’t exactly versed in the government’s structure (he was more into Hero Agencies and the general laws regarding Pro Heroes) so the idea of an ‘Ajin Department’ implied so many things that he wanted to know now.

Why did they have to keep tabs on people with their quirk? He knew they mustn’t be the only ones possessing this weird quirk, but the confirmation of other users like them was something exciting and terrifying at the same time (the things he could learn from others!). There was a national quirk registration, but he was quick enough to catch that there might exist another registry that wasn’t of public knowledge. Why was that? Why would the government needed something like that?

What work could those two have possibly been doing that was so urgent? He was sure Shimomura was excellent hiding her thoughts and intentions, probably years of training and work paid off (he got some Aizawa-vibes from her, in a very specific way), but by the end it was obvious that she meant only to confirm their existence (or rather, his mother’s existence as an Ajin) instead of having a formal conversation like they tried to do, taking her precious time to the point that forced her partner to look for her.

And this man, Nakano Kou. Was he like them too?

What did they mean with being ‘unkillable’ instead of immortal?

So many questions, so many things to look up to.

“Let’s go inside, Izuku,” Inko said in her small, gentle voice.

He looked at her and the weariness of her eyes, the way her shoulders slumped and how a slight tremble shook her hands strangled his heart. Even with the coat covering her, he could still vividly see the blood and dirt covering her clothes and the sickness that punched him in the gut returned less violently than before, but enough to make his knees wobble and a few tears stick out his eyes.

So many questions, but not for today.

Today, his mother needed him. And he needed her too.

Desperately.

And with a similarly trembling hand, he nested hers in his and with utmost care, he closed the door.


Aizawa had many flaws, but unobservant wasn’t one of them.

He hadn’t spent an awful lot with this new class of future heroes, but he already was able to catch subtle changes on behaviour on them and start to ponder what could be going on with them; after all, he was well aware how easily impressionable were first years and he was adamant about fleshing out good, healthy Pro Heroes.

So far, that day he had noticed five of his students acting different.

First and the most obvious to him, Midoriya Izuku. It was probably because he was spending more time with him than with any other of the other 1-A students, but Izuku’s expression stood out like a sore thumb. He was distracted, moody and his lips kept on muttering soundlessly, as if he was rehearsing a conversation with himself. His gut told him that it’d be bothersome, so he prepared himself for that.

Second and the one that was the less obvious of all, was Bakugou Katsuki. He was awfully silence today and his scowl wasn’t the usual one; it was more serious, as if he was deep in thought and those were troubling him. Even when dealing with all the consequences that came with the attack at USJ (most of them unknown to the students), he had addressed the Bakugou issue with Nedzu again, but the Principal was firm about waiting for the parents to act first. It was a hassle, but Nedzu was usually in the right and he wasn’t on the mood for insisting, but he decided to keep an eye sharp, just in case.

Third, the most obvious of all, Kirishima Eijirou. This boy reminded him strongly of Mirio Togata everyday, except today. Instead, this day he was Tamaki Amajiki in his first year, with a dark cloud above him. He looked like a kicked puppy, but tried so hard to fake it and failed so miserably, that he could see how everyone else wasn’t buying it. Obviously.

Fourth, Yaoyorozu Momo. She was restless, trying harder than ever to look poised, fooling everyone but him. He could easily see how her eyes wandered insistently towards the empty seat of the classroom, feeling all the responsibilities that being a Vice President meant in case they needed, which was highly unlikely. For now, at least.

And finally, Uraraka Ochaco. At first, the girl was only concerned by the absence of Iida. She glanced downward, as if she had an X-Ray quirk to look through her desk and look at her phone only to find no new messages and a log with at least two unanswered calls. But then, when she tried to look for support from her other friend, Izuku, she received no response at all (the boy barely registering anything outside his mind) and that blasted another alarm. Now she was twice as worried.

Now, the unusual absence of Iida Tenya was something that threw off everyone, considering how he would not miss one day of class for anything. However, he had calmed down the spirits by saying a half-baked excuse (or more specifically, a vague and incomplete truth) about being a family matter and that calmed everyone but those two girls.

He couldn’t say the truth. Not yet. It was not the right moment.

There won’t ever be a right moment for it, though...

So by the end of the period, when everyone was getting ready for lunch and with the prospect with a class with All Might during the evening (which almost always put everyone in good mood; not today), he purposefully stood longer where he was, even when he just wanted to get out and avoid everyone.

Why he was a teacher again?

“Aizawa-sensei, can I speak to you?”

There it was.

Izuku came directly towards him, not noticing the way Ochaco looked at him with worry. Aizawa looked at her, motioning her to go as softly as he could. His authority, firm but reassuring, made her nod (not without uncertainty) and she slowly followed the rest outside. Tsuyu was waiting for her and the frog girl looked at him blankly before turning away.

She kind of reminded him of himself.

“What is it, Midoriya?” He asked him, scratching the bandages that Recovery Girl wouldn’t allow him to get rid off just yet.

“I know it’s not exactly proper to ask you this, but is there some way you could set All Might-sensei to meet me now?” The boy asked, his voice barely faltering at the way he addressed the Pro Hero.

The unimpressed look Aizawa gave him made Izuku regret his decision only a bit.

‘About fucking time,’ the man thought.

“...Go to the Teacher’s lounge in the third floor. It’s unlocked and empty now.” He instructed and turned his back on the boy. “Don’t take so long. I won’t condone any of my students skipping lunch.”

It was such a lousy excuse, but it made Izuku a bit less nervous and that was all he was looking for. He meant it, though. He wasn’t having any lazy student falling for fatigue and ending in Recovery Girl’s office just for the lack of a good lunch.

Also, he didn’t exactly had much free time to handle personal affairs. Not even his, for the record.

So, when the boy sprinted towards the room he told him to, he quickly took out his phone and dialed said man’s number.

Aizawa-kun, what’s the matter? I thought we-

“Go to the third floor’s lounge.”

What? Why? We have more urgent matters in our hands now and-

“I know, but just go. I’ll handle Ingenium with Hizashi, you go there now.” And he hung up, silencing any other protest the man could give.

It has taken so long for Izuku to be ready to finally talk to him that he was going to give them at least ten minutes to solve all this thing up and fucking move on.

He could manage the rest.

He had to.

Although, he was going to need a lot of caffeine for this shit. Especially if Hizashi was going to be involved.

‘What are you thinking, Nedzu? He’s not ready yet.’

His phone rang with an annoying tune he was sure Hizashi chose for himself. Bracing himself, he answered.

Shouta! Ingenium--”

“Please don’t tell me he’s dead.”


Toshinori was slightly nervous and incredibly confused.

With the way things were now, he didn’t understanding why Aizawa was asking him to go to an empty teacher’s lounge. They had more pressing matters to attend, so serious that the only thing preventing Nedzu from canceling his after lunch class was to keep the children in the dark until they were cleared to disclose this new, upsetting information.

To say this was an eventful year was an understatement. The worst part of it was that the children were already suffering so much from it that he really didn’t want to give them any other bad news. He prayed for a good outcome, even when it was so unlikely.

However, the instant he opened the door to the mentioned room, all his present problems flew out of the window at the sight of one small, special boy.

“Yagi-san...”

For Toshinori, it felt like ages had passed since he had last spent time with Izuku, just the two of them. Even more since he called him by his real name, but it stung nonetheless and all the feelings of remorse, guilt and hurt he had been drowning inside himself suddenly sprouted wildly, aching just like that day at the beach.

...You could never disappoint me.   

He wanted to talk to him, call him ‘my boy’ with the same easiness than before, but it felt wrong and he bit his tongue back and controlled his own emotions, reminding himself that he was the adult of the situation and he had to act up to his part.

“I... thank you for coming...” Izuku said, voice low and a bit frightful.

“Of course,” he found himself answering, his voice just as low as the boy’s.

Carefully, he closed the door behind him and he walked towards the chair in front of Izuku and sat down. So many things were crossing his mind at that moment. His fight with him (could it be called fight?), his conversation with Inko, the missing status of the Villain Alliance, the present matter with Ingenium and Iida, another of his precious students, this new villain on the loose, barely beginning to pop up in today’s news.

So many things in his mind, but eventually everything tuned down and his attention was completely for him.

For Izuku.

The boy wasn’t looking at him, eyes fixed on his hands. He was playing with his thumbs, muttering something under his breath like he had seen doing several times before.

Oh, how had he missed the boy. His antics and manners. His sole presence.

But he was not going to press onto him. That was a promised he had made to himself, which only strengthened with every ache coming from his wound and especially with every faint pulse coming from his decaying power.

“I... I wanted... t-to apologize to you, Yagi-san.” If it wasn’t for the fact that they were alone, Toshinori wouldn’t even had noticed him talking. He chewed his words and it was hard to catch them, but they were there, understandable enough to make his heart cry.

“My boy, please, it’s me who must apologize to--”

“Let me finish, Yagi-san! Please,” he pleaded. He was anxious, but adamant to say everything he had been practicing over and over again since the day before, not wanting to forget anything (but most surely doing it anyway).

Toshinori was surprised by how strongly he asked to speak up, but after his initial shock, he respected that and nodded, motioning him to continue.

Letting go a shaky breath and then breathing in deeply to calm himself, Izuku took all his courage and looked into Toshinori’s sunken eyes.

“I’m sorry, Yagi-san, for running away all this time.” His voice was a bit shaky at first, but with every word it regain confidence and it was more firm and louder with every passing word. “I was... scared, confused, for everything that happened. Not only during that time, but also for so much more. And I unfairly took it with you-- I mean, me of all people should understand the importance of a secret, especially if it is something like, well, you,” he said, using his hands to motion all Toshinori at once.

“But I didn’t... and I hurt you,” he continued, regret and sadness filling his eyes. “And my rational side wanted to be mad at you, you know? Because I’ve been dealing with you, both of you, and I wanted to convince myself that you owed me the truth for some reason when you didn’t. It was your choice to share that with me and I just... sorted it out alone and adding up the attack and my new ability and everything and I was hurt and then I hurt you and I’m sorry for that...”

Unconsciously, his voice sped up but Toshinori even missed that, the attention you had to put on Izuku’s words to catch them all.

And he did.

The incomplete silence left him waiting, knowing that Izuku wasn’t done. He wanted to much to talk, to answer, but he waited and the silence stretched around them, hugging them even when it was tinted with guilt and remorse.

“...I’m really sorry for that, Yagi-san,”

He was done thinking about the matter, blaming Toshinori and then himself and then the circumstances and then himself again. He was done waiting for the right moment and he just couldn’t see that until he saw his mother covered in blood and dirt, with the treacherous hand of the death hovering over her maliciously.

Yesterday it had been her and she was able to fool Death..

He felt so many regrets at once the moment his eyes laid on her that he didn’t wanted to feel those regrets with anyone ever again.

And losing Toshinori was a regret he’d never be able to forgive himself for.

“Can you forgive me?”

And Izuku swore he saw those ill, sunken eyes shine with unshod tears, but the puzzlement that was replaced with a big, bony smile was so much more that he couldn’t focus on anything else.

“Oh, my boy. Too late to apologize, I’ve already forgiven you,” Toshinori said, the present feelings so strong that, for one second, he could forget all his problems.

And the shock being replaced by confusion in Izuku’s face made him want to laugh, the boy’s sincere expressiveness too precious to resist the urge.

“Izuku, my boy. I understand what you’re saying, but listen to me. You’re young and making mistakes is part of living. Look at me, I’m a bundle of mistakes and yet, here you are talking to me, not to All Might, as if I deserved anything.” Before Izuku could say anything, he held up a bony finger to make him stop. “Let me finish, okay?”

“You’ve been through a lot, maybe more than another boy of your age. You’ve surpassed so many obstacles already that I’m so, so proud of you. Even when you said you owed me nothing for the truth, I still wanted to tell my identity to you, but I was scared. You loved All Might so much that I was afraid that you’d be disappointed to find out that your idol was... well, this.”

As Izuku did before, he used his hands to point all of his body.

“And then you discovered it by your own and after everything that happened, I couldn’t ask you to stay by my side. I still don’t want you to feel like if you owe me anything for knowing All Might’s true identity. Yes, you hurt me. But I hurt you too and I couldn’t tell you the truth on time and I’m not sure if I can promise to do it from now on, since reality is way more complicated than I’d like it to be... but I’ve already forgiven you. On the contrary... can you forgive this fool man for hurting you?”

It was so hard to accept your own faults and mistakes, and it was harder to ask for forgiveness. And having experienced it by himself, Izuku could finally see the same struggle in others, seeing only glimpses of what could have been going through Toshinori’s head all that time apart.

The splitting image of All Might and Toshinori suddenly became less different and the edges began to blurry, not blending together, but becoming two sides of the same coin. The Hero and the Human, hand in hand.

Toshinori, and therefore All Might, was so flawed, so unlike his childish dreams, that it was perfect.

And a heavy weight suddenly lift off his shoulders and he could say those words he had been waiting for so long to finally say.

“Yes. I forgive you.”

And he’d wish to say it to more people, eventually, with time. But now, he said them to Yagi Toshinori, his idol, his friend, and he felt relieved and without regrets.

“Thank you, my boy.” He meant it.

“Um... can I... have a hu--g!?”

Before he could finish the sentence, Toshinori was already hugging him.

“Of course, my boy.”

None of them knew how much they missed each other. They hugged tightly, Izuku wanting to actually cry but trying not to do it, failing just a bit, and Toshinori not saying anything, just grateful for getting back this precious child.

Outside the room, unknown to both of them, was Aizawa resting against the wall, just by the door. He didn’t actually heard anything but muffled voices, but he could picture the scene inside. It was so heartwarming that it made him a bit uncomfortable, but it was fine.

He’d let them have their moment, after so long.

He’d protect that small, fragile world for a minute.

He’d shield them from the real world, which was shattering at an alarming rate.

His phone beeped and he read the new message.

12:59 [From: Hizashi] news leaked. channel 5. u have to tell them

Even for a second, he’d protect them.

They owed them that much.