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A beacon in the dark

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Midoriya Izuku is only four years old when his entire view of the world gets thrown upside down.

 

Or, maybe he should say, gets casted in pitch black.

 

 

 

Two months prior Kacchan got his quirk.

 

Izuku turned when he heard the voice of his best friend, high pitched laughs of pure joy reaching high in the sky.

Cheeks red with excitement and sandy blond hair bobbing up and down in time with his jumps, Kacchan is keeping his hands held out, palms up, as golden sparks comes out of them, popping. They reminds Izuku of the little sparkly candles his mom prefers to lit during new years eve in place of actual fireworks.

Izuku laughs with him, jumps with him, just as excited as Kacchan is about the quirk manifesting.

 

“Kacchan! This is amazing! This is the best quirk ever!” Izuku yells, running circles around him.

 

“I’m going to be a hero!” Kacchan replies, cheeks-breaking smile on his face, turning to keep looking at a over-excited Izuku.

 

“YOU’RE GONNA BE A HERO!!!” Izuku yells, jumping with his arm stretched up to the sky.

 

 

The change is so fast that Izuku feels like he just came down of a roller coaster, but all the time.

 

Kacchan changed. In the spawn of a couple of weeks, his best friend, the child he grew up with, that he loved so much, turned into a completely different person.

The adults praise this, chatting between themselves about how a quirk manifestation is always a time of great changes, and Izuku doesn’t like that. This new Kacchan is brash, and speaks too loudly, and picks on Izuku a bit too much.

 

But still, he keeps following, because Kacchan is his best friend, and Izuku loves him.

 

 

 

“Are you ok?” Izuku asks, holding out his hand.

 

Kacchan looks up at him, a smile frozen in place for long seconds, before his expression changes into rage and he splashes Izuku.

 

“I don’t need your help.” Kacchan growls, walking out the little streams, as Izuku looks at his back, confused and hurt, droplets of water falling from his constantly unkept mop of curly hair.

 

 

Midoriya Izuku is only four years old when he wakes up, and his room is all dark.

 

He’s sure it’s not nighttime still, because he heard mom’s alarm going off in the distance, and he heard her going to the bathroom to brush her teeth, and he can still hear her downstairs, preparing breakfast as she does every day.

 

Izuku slowly sits on his bed, his head spinning. He palms at the sheets, then up his face.

 

His eyes are open, right?

 

His question gets an answer when he accidentally pokes himself in the eye. Hissing, he squeezes his eyes, before slowly opening them.

 

Still pitch black.

 

Izuku blinks. He feels himself blinking.

 

Mom knocks gently on the door, before entering.

 

“Izuku- Oh you’re awake.” She says. Izuku can hear the smile in her voice. “Breakfast is almost ready, sweetheart- Izuku?”

 

Izuku feels his mom closing the short gap between his bed and the door, feels her weight on the bed, her gentle, thin fingers on his little wrist.

 

“Honey, is everything ok?” She asks, and Izuku can imagine perfectly right the little wrinkle between her eyes.

 

“Mom-“ Izuku whispers, his voice hitching in his throat. “I— I can’t see—“

 

 

For a while, Izuku doesn’t go to school.

 

He spends most of his days in the car, as a silent mom drives him around, between a doctor appointment, an exam, another doctor appointment.

 

No one can make sense of his sudden loss of sight. How can a healthy four year old boy go to sleep with his eyes perfectly working, and wake up blind?

 

He silently listens to mom talk with doctors, nurses, specialists. He gets asked if he can see the light pointed right into his eyes, if he can see the board with the symbols.

 

Izuku remembers the board from past check-up appointments, but he still can’t see it.

 

He hears mom trying to stifle a sob when the doctor shines the light right into his face -he can feel the faint warmth of it on his skin- but his eyes cannot perceive anything.

 

Doctors with special healing quirks comes to visit Izuku at their house, but still, his world is pitch black.

 

Mom gently cards her hand through his hair after every appointment.

 

“It’s gonna be alright, sweetheart.” She says. “We will find a way.”

 

She sounds less and less convinced every time she says it.

 

 

He has to go back to school. He heard mom talking on the phone, about arrangements and teachers, and Izuku sits on the stairs in silence as mom hangs up and little sobs come out of her mouth.

 

 

“Hello, Izuku.” A gentle female voice says. A warm hand closes around his little one. “I’m Kyoko, I will be your teacher from now on.” She says.

 

Kyoko comes every morning, picks him up from their house.

 

“Say bye to mom!”

 

Izuku turns around, not sure if he pointing in the right direction, and waves his hand.

 

“Have a good day, honey.” Mom says, her voice always sounds kind of watery.

 

Kyoko teaches him a lot. How to orientate himself and walk with a cane, how to read with fingers, how to label things so he can know what he needs without having to ask anyone.

 

During the break he gets to go in the garden with other kids. His classmates. Kacchan.

 

Most of the other kids gives him a wide berth, whispering between themselves behind his back. But not Kacchan.

 

“Deku, catch!”

 

The ball hits him straight in the face and he ends up on his ass, but he doesn’t cry. This time.

 

“Ugh, you’re so useless.” Kacchan voice is closer now. There’s a long stretch of silence. “Your eyes are so weird.”

 

“What do you mean?” Izuku asks, his mostly unused voice cracking a bit in his throat.

 

“They are like— All washed out and pale.” Kacchan says, and Izuku feels the air moving in front of his face, and he knows that Kacchan is waving his hand right in front of him. “You really can’t see, huh?”

 

Izuku doesn’t answer, getting back up and brushing the dust away from his pants.

 

“C’mon, catch this time!” Kacchan says, running away and kicking the ball at him.

 

Izuku doesn’t catch.

 

 

“Mom.”

 

Inko turns around, startled. Izuku is sitting at the kitchen table, his little legs kicking at nothing, his fingers still on the braille book he was slowly reading. Izuku doesn’t talk that much anymore.

 

“Are my eyes weird?”

 

Inko feels something caught in her throat. The need to kneel and bawl. Instead she forces a smile her son can’t see anymore on her face.

 

“they are beautiful as always, dear.”

 

 

Two weeks later, Izuku refuses to go get his usual haircut.

 

“But honey-“ Inko tries to reason. “You hair is all in front of your face-“

 

“It’s ok.” Izuku whispers. “They cover my eyes, right?”

 

She didn’t think it was possible, but her heart broke all over again.

 

 

“I wonder what kind of quirk I will get.” Izuku says, following the sounds of Kacchan kicking his soccer ball as he walks, swinging the cane as Kyoko taught him. “I hope its a strong one, like yours.”

 

He’s always following Kacchan.

 

“Ah-“ Kacchan laughs. “Nothing will ever be as strong as my quirk. And even if you get a good one, you’d still be useless with those eyes of yours.”

 

Izuku is alway following Kacchan, even if Kacchan is brash and loud and picks on Izuku a little too much.

 

At least Kacchan is not treating him like he’s a broken glass kept together by tape.

 

 

 

Midoriya Izuku is only four years old, bordering on five, when he and mom come out of the last doctor appointment.

 

Izuku sits in the car, silently. He listens to gentle sounds of the engine, picking at the velvety cover of the seat with nervous fingers.

 

Izuku has dreamt so much. About his quirk, about how he’d learn to use it, about how he’d become strong and be a hero, even if his world is all black.

 

All until the doctor said that word.

 

Quirkless.

 

 

Kacchan hasn’t stopped laughing for a while.

 

“I can’t believe this-“ He said once he finally calmed down. “You’re like, the most useless being on this planet. You can’t see, and you don’t even have a quirk!”

 

Izuku keeps following. Fateful, hopeful, that his friend it’s still there, somewhere.

 

 

It’s summer break, and Izuku has been searching for a while. Kacchan wasn’t at the usual place.

 

He keeps searching, until he realizes he doesn’t know where he is anymore.

 

Fear seizes his throat as a sheen of tears covers his unseeing eyes. Izuku searches, smacks right into a tree -the bark under his hand is cool and slightly humid- and sits under it, collecting his knees against his chest, as sobs shakes him.

 

He’s lost, he’s lost, he will never find the way home, mom will be sad, he’s lost-

 

“Deku?”

 

Izuku raises his head, tears rolling down his cheeks. “K-kacchan?”

 

A long-suffering sigh “Why are you crying, now?”

 

“I-“ Hiccup. “I got lost-“

 

Kacchan sighs again. His rough hand closes around Izuku’s wrist, jerking him up on his feet. Izuku stumbles, but Kacchan doesn’t stop, dragging him away.

 

“Honestly, you can’t do anything alone.” Kacchan grumbles. “Like, why do you even exist.”

 

Izuku doesn’t answer, head down.

 

They walk in silence for a while, until Kacchan jerks him around again. Izuku hits his shoulder on something that feels like cement.

 

“Here, you’re home now.” Kacchan says, sounding annoyed. “Stop getting lost. Stop following me. You’re constantly giving me work. You’re such a dead weight. How am I supposed to become a hero if you’re constantly holding me down?”

 

Izuku doesn’t answer, leaning on the familiar walls surrounding his house. He feels his throat clog up, cold sweat beading on his forehead under the messy hair covering his eyes.

 

“Find someone like you to pester, I’m done with you.” Kacchan says, and his voice doesn’t sound cold or cruel. Just… Uninterested.

 

Like Izuku is nothing. A pebble on the side of the road.

 

Izuku nods, and makes his way back into his house. Mom welcomes him like she always does, like nothing his wrong.

 

Izuku stops following Kacchan.

 

 

“Izuku— What are you doing?”

 

Mom’s voice sounds weird, from the door. Izuku stops, his little fingers tight around the plastic figurine.

 

He can feel the curves of it under his fingers, the vaguely pointed tuft of plastic hair.

 

He hasn’t done much in his room since his loss of sight, besides labelling. He remembered all his posters, all the All Might toys sitting on the shelves, and even if he couldn’t see them anymore, it gave him comfort to know they were there. Like he could hear All Might’s voice, booming and happy, telling him to be strong and that he could do it.

 

He could answer mom, he could try to articulate how that sense of comfort has slowly changed, how he can’t hear All Might’s voice anymore. How he only hears the whisperings of pity about the poor, blind, quirkless boy. His peers whining they don’t want him in their team because it means they will lose, Kacchan—

 

Kacchan.

 

He shrugs instead, and keeps putting all the toys and posters into a cardboard box.

 

Mom keeps watching him, silent, until his room is barren and his shelves empty, and the box goes into the back of the closet, collecting dust.

 

 

Middle school is completely different, and yet all the same.

 

He doesn’t have a special teacher anymore. Kyoko-san has taught him everything she possibly could. Mom bought him a phone, and together they went over all the disabilities options necessary.

 

Izuku likes his phone. He likes to keep an earbud in during his commute to school, listening to the voice-over reading articles about the latest hero news.

 

He was still interested in heroes, so what. Bite him.

 

School is not much. He’s expected to keep up with his peers, doesn’t get any special treatment. It’s hard, but honestly Izuku prefers it to being treated with kid gloves. And he likes to study, so it’s not that big of a deal.

 

His mom beams when he brings home his grades. He can hear it in her voice.

 

“My handsome, young man.” She says, ruffling his hair. “So brilliant.”

 

“Mooooommm-“ He whines.

 

He keeps studying. He keeps writing his notes about heroes and quirks.

 

Even if he doesn’t write -for the future- in the title anymore.

 

 

He doesn’t have friends, but Izuku is fine with it.

 

By some cruel joke of destiny, he ended up being in the same class as Kacchan. But Kacchan mostly ignores him. Izuku has tried to speak to him every now and then, but Kacchan only grunts back.

 

Izuku can’t see body language, but he doesn’t need it to get the hint. He soon stops trying to talk to him.

 

At first other teens asks Kacchan about him. Aren’t you childhood friends with the blind boy? What he’s really like? Why is he so weird?

Kacchan reacts with a scoff and silence at best, with explosive -literally- rage at worst. The questions soon stops.

 

Izuku doesn’t have any friends. He tells himself he’s fine with it.

 

His peers ignores him, for the most part. Some of them are cruel, and play tricks on him. They hide his phone and tell him to get it, it’s right there, in front of his eyes, while laughing. They bump into him, and then sneer “Sorry, didn’t see you there.”.

At first someone tries to weakly protest, but no ones wants to be next, so that soon stops as well.

 

Kacchan doesn’t say anything. Izuku is sure he heard him chuckle at some of the so called jokes.

 

Izuku doesn’t have any friends. He doesn’t need them. He doesn’t need bullies that pick on the blind, quirkless boy, nor cowards that refuse to stand up for the blind, quirkless boy.

 

He doesn’t need anyone, really.

 

 

He doesn’t tell mom any of this, but he knows that she knows.

 

She always knows.

 

 

“How do you see?”

 

Izuku stops, rice from his bento mid-way to his mouth.

 

He’s on the roof, alone, as usual. Until he hears steps and then a female voice asks that question.

 

“You have, like, your hair all in front of your eyes.” She elaborates at his silence. “And you have a lot of hair.” She adds for emphasis.

 

“I don’t see.” Izuku deadpans.

 

The girls comes closer, and Izuku feels fingers shift his hair away from his face. A gentle gasp follows.

 

Izuku doesn’t know how his eyes look like. They were a brilliant emerald, once, but now according to Kacchan they looked more like a pale, sickly green. Like fake alien vomit.

 

His mom said that his eyes looked like the sea water on the shore, clear and sparkly, when the first light of morning comes up in the sky.

 

It’s wondrous how two people can describe so differently the same thing, isn’t it?

 

There’s silence, and Izuku expect the usual round of I’m so sorry I didn’t know I didn’t want to offend.

 

“You are cute, though.” The female voice says instead. “You shouldn’t hide your face like this.”

 

Izuku blinks.

 

 

Her name is Miki Kobayakawa.

 

“Call me Miki.” She immediately said after they exchanged proper pleasantries. “If you don’t, I’ll punch you.”

 

That gets a startled laugh out of Izuku.

 

Miki is brash and loud and full of energy. She reminds Izuku of Kacchan, sometimes. But her brashness is more focused.

 

Kacchan is like a rabid dog, biting and snarling at anything that comes in his field of vision

Miki is more of a wolf, in Izuku’s mind. She’s aggressive, but only if someone puts foot in her territory.

 

Apparently, Izuku is considered part of the territory, now.

 

“Get the fuck out of here!” Miki yells as Izuku gets up from the floor, brushing his pants. Izuku hears frantic steps and male voices hurling insults getting farther.

 

“Yeah, some big men you are!” Miki yells one last time, before turning towards Izuku, muttering. “Fucking assholes. They are all so good at picking on a single person in five. Are you ok, Izuku?”

 

Izuku was on his way home when he accidentally stumbled into someone. He apologized, but the little group wasn’t happy with just that, apparently.

 

“I’m fine.” He answers. “Where did you came from?” He asks.

 

“Oh, I wanted to go to the bookshop down the street and I saw you getting dragged away.” She answers, matter of factly, and sniffs. “You need to learn how to throw a punch, Izuku.”

 

Izuku shrugs, palming in his backpack to make sure nothing fell out during the scuffle. “Even if I knew how to do that, I won’t know where to aim.”

 

“Still, even swinging blindly -no pun intended, dude- can be effective if your opponent doesn’t expect it.” She replies without missing a beat. “If your enemy thinks you are completely defenseless, they will be full of openings. You could take advantage of that.”

 

Izuku puts his backpack back on his shoulders, silent.

 

“Say what.” Miki adds. “You know my mom teaches self-defense at her gym. Why don’t you apply? I’ll make puppy eyes at her so she’ll let you in for free.”

 

 

The first time Miki visited, mom literally squealed with delight at her son bringing home a friend, doting on both of them to an almost embarrassing degree, and Izuku thought that Miki would never come by again.

 

“Your mom is cool.” Miki said, instead.

 

She visited very often after that. Her and mom went together as perfectly as a house on fire. Izuku’s life started to be more than just home-school-home.

 

They went to the zoo, and Miki had taken delight in describing the animals to him.

 

“Miki, I remember what an elephant looks like.” Izuku protested. “They are not purple!”

 

Miki started laughing, and Izuku followed. They spent the rest of the day describing the animals as outrageously inaccurately as possible. Mom laughed to tears when they couldn’t stop with the flying monkeys spitting fire and growing rainbow-colored scales.

 

They went to the movies, and Miki would narrate to him what was happening. She was atrocious, at first, but increasingly became better both in descriptiveness and how quickly she’d manage to narrate.

People would try to shush them or call them out, sometimes. Izuku would fake sob, as Miki replied very loudly “My friend is blind, you asshole!” and then whisper-describe to him the look of horror and embarrassment of the unfortunate movie-goer that happened to be in the same place as them, making Izuku giggle-snort soda out of his nose.

 

The first time he visited Miki’s home, he found it startlingly similar to his own family situation.

 

A father out of the picture, a hard-working mother. The difference was that as much as Izuku has taken after his mom’s timid and meek nature, Miki has taken after her mom, loud and brash and honest, that was never scared of laughing out loud.

 

Kobayakawa Ichiko welcomed him like an old friend of her daughter from the very start, sharing with him embarrassing stories from Miki’s childhood, never shying away from him or treating him like a delicate flower. She was very fond of Izuku’s deadpan sense of humor, laughing from her belly and punching him on the shoulder.

 

“I wanted to be a hero, when I was your age.” Ichiko said once, when she noticed him listening intently to the news, seeing right through him. “In the end, growing up, I realized I preferred teaching, so here I am.”

 

Izuku nodded his understanding, silently.

 

“Do you want to be a hero, young man?” She asked.

 

Izuku didn’t say anything for a long while. He couldn’t hear the scratch of Miki’s pen on her math homework anymore, and he knew they were both staring at him.

 

He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times, nothing coming out of him.

 

“It has always been my dream ever since I was a kid.” He admitted in a low voice, in the end, incapable of giving a resounding yes.

 

Neither Miki nor Ichiko laughed, or said it was impossible, or offered him alternative career paths.

 

“Well, you’ve got to work hard for it, then.” Ichiko said in the end.

 

“And learn how to throw a punch.” Miki added, gently kicking him under the table.

 

 

 

Izuku expects his mom to say no. It’s too dangerous. You could get hurt. You don’t need to know how to fight.

 

“Yes.” Mom says, her voice strong and unwavering. “I will be happy to come by this weekend and speak with your mother about it, Miki-chan. Thank you so much for offering.”

 

Mom knows. Mom always knows.

 

 

Izuku and Miki sat in the living room of Miki’s home, pretending not to hear their mothers going back and forth just a room away.

 

“I insist-“ Inko said. “Ichiko-san, I assisted to your lessons, you are an amazing teacher, there’s no way I’ll let you teach Izuku without paying-“

 

“Nonsense.” Ichiko replied. “Izuku is like a son to me, now. I could never accept money, I’ll be happy to teach him anything he needs for as long as he needs to be taught.”

 

Inko started to reply, again, and Miki asked in an unamused voice “Do you think they will keep this up all day?”

 

Izuku groaned, dragging his hands on his face.

 

 

At the end of the first week under Ichiko’s regime of workout, Izuku was absolutely destroyed. Everything ached, even places he didn’t know could possibly ache. He let the hot water wash over him, relax his sore muscles.

 

“Izukuuuu-!” Mom called, her voice far away and muffled by the sound of the shower. “Dinner’s almost ready!”

 

Izuku closed the water with a soft sigh, palmed the little side table to find the clean towel he prepared, and dried himself before putting on his pajamas.

 

At every step he took to get downstairs he couldn’t help but let out a little moan of pain.

Mom chuckled.

 

“Very funny.” He replied once he was finally in the kitchen, sinking down in the seat and flashing his tongue at mom.

 

“I can already see some results, you know?” Mom said, putting his bowl in front of him. Izuku scoffed.

 

“Yeah, right.”

 

“No, really!” She insisted, a smile in her voice. “Maybe I’ll join you. I need to lose some weight…”

 

“Mom, you’ll die.”

 

Inko laughed, ruffling his hair. “How dramatic.”

 

Everything hurt. Izuku was sure even his hair hurt.

 

He grinned. He never been so happy in his entire life.

 

 

The days passed fast, the months going by. The end of his first year of middle school got closer and closer, and Izuku has set into a routine.

 

He would wake up early, go for a jog around the block, a familiar path were he knew exactly each step he could take without his cane, then shower and school. The afternoon was dedicated to homework and then, depending on the day, either cardio or training with Ichiko.

 

Three times a week he would train, with the saturday free for him and Miki to just relax and enjoy being teenagers, and sundays completely dedicated to training.

 

Sunday was his favorite day, by far. He loved the training. Ichiko was not only helping him becoming stronger physically, but also taught him with infinite patience every fighting technique she thought he could need and then some.

 

Sometimes Miki would join them, sometimes she just watched and cheered him from the sideline.

 

Izuku poured everything he had into it, and the long sundays, where it was just the four of them in Ichiko’s gym, were the best part of his week, no matter what.

 

Mom has, in fact, joined him, although just with some light cardio. Ichiko-san had been delighted to help the both of them, to study a proper diet with them, and she would constantly compliment mom on her hard work, even possibly more than she complimented Izuku.

 

Not that he minded, mom deserved all the compliments in the world.

 

The end of his first year of middle school was ending, and Izuku felt so very different from the person he was just a few months prior.

 

 

Miki was holding the boxing sack for him as he went through the routine. She started to do this a while ago, as Izuku’s punches started being strong enough that the sack would swing too wildly for him to go through the exercises alone.

Miki called the change of pace for him. Right hook, left hook, uppercut, faster, slower… Sweats rolled down his face generously, shirt sticking on his back, his breath fast but controlled as Ichiko-san taught him.

 

“Aaaaand… Stop!” Miki called, and Izuku slumped a bit, hands on his knees, catching his breath.

 

“You went through the entire routine without having to stop once.” Miki said, satisfaction in her voice. He heard her scribbling down the results on his exercise board. “Good job, Izuku.”

 

Izuku grinned, standing back up straight and stretching. He could hear Ichiko-san and mom talking from the corner with the tapis-roulant.

 

“Miki.”

 

“Mh?”

 

“Why don’t we spar?”

 

Miki did not say anything.

 

“C’mon-“ He insisted, jumping a bit, light on his feet. “I know you are much better than me at this, but if I don’t start to stretch my wings a bit with a real fight how am I supposed to learn?”

 

“I don’t know, Izuku.” Miki replied, her voice strangely measured.  “I think it’s better discuss this with mom, first-“

 

“Oh c’mon, you party pooper.” Izuku pressed, laughing. “It doesn’t have to be, like, super serious. Besides, my mom and yours seems rather busy over there for now.”

 

“I- No.” Miki said, curtly.

 

Izuku stopped his light jumps. Silence stretched over them.

 

“Is it because I’m blind?”

 

The resentment bubbled up his throat, the words leaving his mouth, even surprising him.

 

Miki sighed. “You know I don’t care about that.”

 

“Then why not?”

 

“I just don’t want to, ok?”

 

He could feel that Miki turned her back on him. Something grabbed at Izuku’s stomach.

 

Izuku, the blind quirkless boy, always so meek and timid and useless. Always in the shadow, nothing of importance, really. No one to spare a single look at.

He could accept this from strangers. He did accept this from Kacchan.

 

But Miki was his best friend. His only friend. He could not accept this. Not from her.

 

He knew Miki was good at fighting. He knew he wouldn’t hit her. There was nothing to worry about.

 

If she didn’t want to fight, if she insisted in underestimating him, then he’ll force her to look at him, to consider him.

 

Izuku charged. He had a good estimation in his mind of how far Miki had to be, now.

 

He felt the air moving as Miki turned back to face him with a startled gasp.

 

Her hand closed around Izuku’s wrist.

 

His world became pain.

 

 

Everything was pain, every single nerve of his body was burning, hot and searing, he was breaking, he was turning into ashes, someone was screaming raw in the distance.

 

Oh.

 

It was him.

 

 

When Izuku woke up, he felt like his entire body has been run over by a train about one thousand times.

 

A wet sob near him “Izuku?”

 

-Mom- he tried to say, but coughed instead, his throat burning and raw. His breath itched in his lungs, as mom urged at his side, helping him sitting a bit straighter and putting a glass on his lips.

 

“It’s ok, sweetheart, it’s ok, breath- Here, drink this, slowly-“ She whispered, frantic.

 

Izuku was shivering so hard some of the water splashed down as mom helped him drink. He started to sweat, his body protesting loudly at every each movement.

 

The seconds stretched long as he finished the glass of water and mom helped him back down on the pillow. Izuku was speechless, his mind a scrambled mess, unable to make sense of anything.

 

“I’m going to call the doctor, ok?” Mom said, her voice trembling. “I’ll be right back, honey, don’t worry.”

 

He didn’t dare move a single finger, the pain lingering like a vulture on his shoulders. Mom came back after what felt like an eternity, and a male voice presented himself as doctor something-something.

 

He could barely understand, really.

 

The man visited him, or so he thought anyway. It was hard to perceive anything over the fog of constant pain stabbing his brain at every minuscule movement.

 

“—The pain is going to persist for a couple of days at least— Bed rest—“

 

That was all Izuku could hear before he fell back into the sweet, salvific embrace of sleep.

 

 

When he woke up again, he knew he was home. There was something in his room, that atmosphere of -this is my place- that always permeated it, that made it easy for him to know even if his entire world was always dark.

 

Tentatively, he sat. The pain was still there, but it wasn’t nearly as strong as it was the first time he woke.

 

He wondered distantly for how long he slept.

 

Slowly he got out of bed, shuffled outside his room, down the corridor.

 

When he lingered in the doorway, he heard mom gasp softly and then ask sleepily “Izuku?”

 

“Mom.” He said. His voice was gravel. He wondered how hard and for how long he screamed to make his throat so swollen and hurt. “What happened?”

 

 

Mom put down a cup of hot tea in front of him, and Izuku closed his shivering fingers around the warmth, grateful.

 

He heard her sitting in front of him, he could feel her eyes digging into him.

 

“I don’t even know where to begin.” She finally said, her voice both soft and steely, somehow. “Izuku I… I’m very disappointed.”

 

Izuku flinched, his fingers tighter around the cup.

 

“You shouldn’t have done what… What you did.” She added in a whisper. “Did you know of Miki-chan’s quirk?”

 

He shook his head.

 

“I… Asked her, once.” He said in a tiny voice after the silence stretched. “She t-told me she didn’t want to talk about it, s-so I never insisted.”

 

“You’ve hurt her.” Mom said, and Izuku couldn’t hold the tears anymore at the sad tone in her voice. “You’ve hurt her so much, Izuku.”

 

 

I don’t want to talk to you, right now. I’m too mad.” The impersonal, robotic voice-over read the text to him.

 

Ok.” He texted back.

 

 

Ichiko-san sighed deeply as he bowed to her after his apology.

 

“It’s better if we stop for a while.” She said, and the disappointment in her voice, so similar to mom’s, hurt more than any punch possibly could. “You are a smart young man, Izuku. Think about what happened and why, about why you acted the way you did. When you have accepted your actions and feel ready to start again, I’ll be happy to take you in once more.”

 

Izuku nodded. “Thank you.” He added, his voice so, so small.

 

 

He knew, why he did what he did. He let his negative feelings, all the rage and frustrations, all the pent-up resentment. Every word and actions that he passively took through his life, from all the people around him that saw him as nothing more that a dead-weight on society, and has turned them against the only person in the whole world that had loved him unconditionally from the very first day the’ve met.

 

His shelves were still barren, but Izuku thought that if he opened the box sitting in the back of his closet right now, he would hear All Might’s voice reprimanding him for his action. He would be so disappointed.

 

Some hero I’d make, Izuku thought bitterly, as traitorous tears spilled from his eyes yet again.

 

 

“Hey, Deku. Hey. HEY!”

 

Kacchan’s hand closed on his shoulder like a clamp, turning him around.

 

He compared Miki to Kacchan, once. But he couldn’t have been more wrong. They couldn’t have been more different.

 

“Don’t ignore me, you prick.” Kacchan growled. “What the hell are you going around with that long face for? You look like death warmed over. Cheer up a bit, you’re making everyone around you miserable.”

 

Izuku gritted his teeth so hard he felt them screech in his jaw.

 

“Is that all that I am?” He asked, voice low. “A thing that has no right to be? Is what I make other people feel all that I am?”

 

“Huh?!” Kacchan replied, loud. “The fuck are you talking about, shithead?”

 

“Let me go.” Izuku said, steel in his voice.

 

“Or what?” Kacchan sneered.

 

 

“Oh, Izuku.” Mom has sighed when he entered in the principal office.

 

She looked over at Katsuki. The boy that was used to come to their house almost every day. That was a lifetime ago, Inko realized, and Katsuki was no longer that tiny little boy that would thank her for the drinks or sweets she’d bring them outside, the tiny little boy that would say bye with a huge smile on his face at the end of each day.

 

That boy didn’t exist anymore. Instead in front of her there was a young man, all nervous energy and pent up rage.

 

She always wondered what went wrong between him and Izuku.

 

Katsuki was barely seating, visually trembling in an effort not to jump up and attack. There was a copious amount of blood on his lips and chin, staining the front of his shirt, and a bruise was rapidly getting more and more swollen, closing his right eye. Katsuki’s nose was crooked, clearly broken.

 

On the opposite chair, Izuku was sitting perfectly still, not a single sign on him if not for the single scorch mark on his shoulder. There was blood on his knuckles.

 

“Ms. Midoriya, thank you for coming so fast.” The principal said, getting up from his seat.

 

“Katsuki-“ She said, unable to resist the use of the name that was once so familiar on her lips. “Are you-“

 

“I’m FINE.” Katsuki all but yelled.

 

“We have already called an ambulance.” The principal said to her unasked question. “They should be here any minute now. In the meantime, I would like to discuss what happened—“

 

“There’s nothing to discuss!” Katsuki interrupted, his voice slightly nasal. “Let me just take this shithead outside and then we can have a fair fight, none of this sucker-punch bullshit, you shitty little coward—“

 

“Shut up.” Izuku interrupted, his voice venom and steel.

 

Inko flinched, looking at her son, her sweet, brilliant, gentle son.

What she found in those unseeing eyes, barely visible under the messy curls, scared her.

 

Katsuki bolted from his seat, and so did she and the principal, tackling him before his hand could reach over to Izuku.

 

“Let me GO!!!” Katsuki yelled, trashing around. He was strong enough that despite the two adults holding him he dragged them forward, his face inching closer to Izuku’s “Let me have at this shitty little crap! I’ll teach him a lesson—!”

 

Izuku spat in Katsuki’s face.

 

“IZUKU!” Inko yelled, outraged.

 

Izuku got up, the chair he was sitting on crashing on the floor, and run out of the door.

 

 

The sound of the ambulance was far away, he couldn’t hear it anymore. Izuku didn’t move, curled up in a ball on the roof, in his usual secluded spot.

 

He didn’t want to move, he didn’t want to think.

 

A small part of him wondered if he should just get up, climb over and the fence and jump

 

“I heard you punched a bitch today.”

 

His entire body flinched as he instinctively turned his head over the source of the sound.

 

“Good.”

 

Miki sat at his side.

 

“You look hungry.” She said, fiddling with something, and the smell of curry reached his nostrils. “I’ll share the bento. This time.”

 

Izuku was stupidly gaping, like a fish, and he knew it.

 

“So, you truly punched Bakugou?”

 

Izuku closed his mouth and nodded.

 

“Jerk had it coming.” She snorted.

 

“I shouldn’t have—“ Izuku finally found his voice, low and raw.

 

“You shouldn’t have let yourself get caught.” Miki said, her mouth full. “But the punch? Fuck it. As I said: Jerk got it coming.”

 

“Punches.” Izuku corrected her.

 

“Huh?”

 

“I broke his nose with a right hook, got his eye with a left.”

 

Miki let out a laugh, but it was mirthless.

 

“You look like shit.” She said.

 

“Yeah, that’s what Kacchan said too.”

 

“Ugh. Why do you call him Kacchan.”

 

Izuku shrugged. “Habit, I guess.”

 

“Well, shake it. He doesn’t deserve an affectionate nickname, not from you.”

 

“He’s—“ My friend, Izuku wanted to said. He shook his head. “We were friends, once.”

 

“And now you’re not, and he treats you like shit. Stop feeling bad. Play bitch games, win bitch prizes, and all that.”

 

That startled a small laugh out of Izuku. “You’re impossible. It’s not that bad—“

 

“Except it is.” She interrupted him, cold. “I have eyes, Midoriya, and mine works, unlike yours.”

 

That startled another laugh out of him, but Miki continued, her voice tense.

 

“I see how he treats you. How they all do. And it makes me mad. It’s not right, a-and you are a good person, and they are all trying their damn best to beat the goodness out of you, and that’s not right.

 

Izuku has never wished so hard to be able to see, to be able to read the expression on his friend’s face, to understand what that note in her voice was.

 

“It makes me want to use it against them all.” Miki whispers. “What does that make me?”

 

Izuku doesn’t have an answer, more than a little lost in the conversation.

 

“You’re a much better person than me.” She continued. “And I hate what they are doing to you.”

 

“I’m not— Miki.” Izuku whispers, urgency in his voice, he kneels, reaching out with a tentative hand. “I— You’re the only person in this world that has ever treated me like an equal. And I attacked you. I’m not— I’m not a good person—“

 

“You think I don’t know why you did that? It hurt, at first.” She replied, taking his wrist gently with only three fingers. “To think you’d turn against me. I thought about it so much, Izuku. And it still hurts, the idea that you’ve let all that negativity get the best of you—“

 

Izuku lets his head hang down, ashamed.

 

“B-but— I’ve been dismissive. I fished those feelings out of you. I should’ve explained why I didn’t want to spar. I should have told you about my quirk, about why people avoid me—“

 

“The pain.” He whispers.

 

“The pain.” She nods. “It’s simple, isn’t it? Touch someone, cause pure, unadulterated pain. So simple, yet so effective. When my quirk fist presented I was holding my dad’s hand. He left not long after that.”

 

“Miki—“

 

“I know how it feels, to be cast away. To be avoided, to be laughed at, to get insulted. I know how painful it feels, and I admired you so much for the way you kept fighting despite everything. I still do.”

 

Izuku felt his throat clog up, his eyes wet.

 

“And I hate that the world seems to always do whatever it can to take what’s good inside people a-and twist it until it’s not good anymore, and you didn’t deserve any of this.” Miki added, her voice wavering, sniffing a little. “Izuku. I don’t want to be mad anymore, can we be friends again?”

 

And Izuku sobs, angrily wiping at his eyes with his sleeves, and the sheer ridiculousness of it all punches him. To talk of the darkness of the world in such terms and then realize that at the end of they day all they are just this: children, lost in a place that always feels so unwelcome and scary.

 

“I didn’t want to cry.” He sobs out, angry. “I didn’t want to cry in front of you and m-make you worry anymore.”

 

“Oh please, you crybaby.” She says, but Izuku hears the tears in her voice, too.

 

“I’m sorry Miki.” He says, lower lip wobbling, turning towards her. “I’m sorry I attacked you. I- I would love to be friends again.”

 

Gentle arms close around him, Miki’s face pressing against his hair.

 

“You’re forgiven.” She murmurs.

 

Izuku let out another sob, his face against her shoulder.

 

They kept hanging on one another for long minutes, in silence, and Izuku finally feels that knot in his chest loosen for the first time in days.

 

“Do you want to know something?” Izuku says, voice low but not watery anymore. “I shouldn’t be proud of this… But—“

 

“What?” Miki says, relaxing her grip a bit to look down at him.

 

“I spit in Kacchan’s face.”

 

Miki let out a sort of spit-take before laughing heartily from her belly. Just like her mom.

Chapter Text

Suspended for four days.

 

It was kind of inevitable, really. He did sent Kacchan to the hospital, and pretty much the entire school knew about it already.

 

He probably got it light, all things considered. Maybe the principal took pity on him. An upside, he guesses.

 

The car ride is silent, and Izuku could feel the anger radiating from his mom. He knows he should apologise for everything he put her through, but he can’t find it in him, at the moment. The confrontation with Miki has left him utterly devoid of energy, and as happy as he is to have his friend back, he’s a complete emotional mess.

 

“I should probably get back to the principal office—“ He sighed, getting up. “The more I wait, the worse things will get.”

 

Miki nudged him a bit. “I’ll text you later, ok?”

 

He smiled at her before getting into the building and walking back to the office, where a seething mom and a positively desperate principal were waiting.

 

“We are going over at Katsuki’s house, later, and you will apologize.” Mom’s voice cut through his musing like steel, rudely jerking him back to reality.

 

“Yes.” He replies, voice low.

 

“And I mean, really apologize.” Mom adds. “What you did today— I don’t even know what’s with you—“ She sighs. “Izuku, we really need to talk.”

 

“I know.” He says. “I know. Just… I’m not ready for it, now.”

 

He can hear mom’s fingers tighten on the steering wheel.

 

“I really am sorry.” Izuku adds, voice lowering. “I know what I did is wrong. And I know there’s a lot we need to talk about. Just… Not today.”

 

Silence.

 

“Please.”

 

Inko’s shoulders slumps forward.

 

“Ok.” She whispers. “Ok.”

 

 

The visit over at the Bakugous’ goes as well as expected.

 

“GET IN HERE, I’LL FUCKING DESTROY YOU!”

 

Mitsuki Bakugou circles her son’s neck with her arm, and he immediately falls silent, despite his enraged expression.

 

Izuku steps forward, not lowering his head. It’s not all bad being blind sometimes, he thinks, knowing he’d never be able to maintain eye contact with the woman that for a time had been like a second mom to him, otherwise.

 

“Bakugou-san, Kacchan.” He says, voice measured. “I’m sorry. What I did today was wrong, and it will not happen again.” He bowed, formal. “I apologize.”

 

“YOU LITTLE—“

 

“That is enough, Katsuki.” Mitsuki says, not letting her son go. Her voice does not betray any emotion. “Izuku, get up.”

 

He does.

 

“I don’t know what Katsuki did to make you snap like that, but I know this is not a one sided issue. Katsuki owes you an apology as well.”

 

“I’M NOT APOLOGIZING, WOMAN!”

 

She sighs, shaking her head. “What did I do wrong with you?” She wonders aloud, and Kacchan grumbles a bit.

 

“I’m really mortified—“ Inko interjects, but Mitsuki holds her hand up.

 

“You are both young, and will feel like doing brash things at times.” Mitsuki says, clearly addressing Izuku. “But you are also both smart, and I trust this will be the end of it and you will act civilly toward each other from now on. Am I clear?”

 

“Yes, m’am.” Izuku replies.

 

“Katsuki.” She pushes as the silence stretches.

 

“Alright, FINE.” Kacchan finally says. “I’ll leave this little shit alone from now on.”

 

Mitsuki groans. “Honey, your next words should’ve been ‘I’m sorry’.”

 

Izuku chuckles, surprising even himself. He knows they all turned to stare.

 

“It’s ok.” He says, his voice a little sad. “I think this will be as good as it gets.”

 

The image of his old friend, smiling at him, blurred and distorted, comes up to mind. But Kacchan is not four anymore. Izuku, for the first time in years, wonders how he looks like, now.

 

Izuku also wonders if this is how grief feels like.

 

 

Mom blessedly leaves him be for the rest of the day, bringing some onigiri upstairs and putting the plate on his desk, not forcing him to come down to the kitchen.

He munches on them distractedly, listening to the last episode of All Mightiest Podcast. But, to be honest, he’s only catching a word out of five.

 

There’s so much to mull over. He made peace with Miki, he apologized to Kacchan, but he still has to talk with mom.

 

The thought weights on him like a rock.

 

There’s so much, in this tangled mess that are his thoughts and feelings. So much even he cannot put his finger on. So much confusion. How do you untangle a ball of yarn if you can’t even find where it starts?

 

He’s startled out of his thoughts by the booming voice of All Might in his ear.

 

It’s when you are at your lowest that you’ll have to smile even brighter! If you do that, if you never give up, light will be sure to come!

 

Inspiring words as usual from our favourite hero—“ the excited voice of his favourite podcaster came back. “I swear I could listen to him talk for years. I don’t know how he does that!” Sincere laughs follow that exclamation.

 

Izuku pauses the podcast, and slowly takes the earbud out. He walks to his closet, kneeling down to take a dusty box out. He fishes an All Might figurine out of it, tracing the features with his fingers.

 

All Might is smiling. All Might is always smiling.

 

“I will not let you down, this time.” He whispers.

 

 

“Izuku. Wake up, we have to go somewhere.”

 

Izuku mumbles, palming at his nightstand with a hand until he finds his clock. He pushes the button, and the cheerful robotic voice announces that it’s five in the morning.

 

Moooooom—“

 

She chuckles, gently swatting at him.

 

“C’mon, sleepyhead.”

 

Izuku drags himself to the bathroom, washes himself, and starts to put on his school uniform until he remembers.

 

Right. He’s suspended.

 

He puts on jeans and a shirt instead, shuffles his way downstair, mom pushing a backpack in his arms as soon as he emerges on the kitchen doors.

 

“Here, take this, you can eat something on the way.”

 

Izuku is too sleepy to asks where the hell are they going at that time in the morning, so he just dutifully climbs in the car, and off they go.

 

 

They drive goes for what feels like hours, and Izuku he’s sure he fell asleep at some point, but mom did not wake him up.

 

“Whatimeissit…?” He mumbles, rubbing the sleep off of his eyes when he jostled awake by an uneven road.

 

“Seven in the morning.” Mom answers, promptly. “We are almost there.”

 

“Seven?” He blinks, perplexed. “Where…?”

 

“It’s a surprise.” Mom says, a smile in her voice.

 

They fall silent after that, but it’s a comfortable silence, nothing like the tense one that they’ve experienced just a day prior in that same car.

 

Finally, the car slowly brakes to a stop, and Izuku unbuckles himself, jumping off. As soon as he’s out he smells it, the salt in the air, and he hears it, the gentle sound of waves. A kind wind laps at his hair, tickling his nose.

 

“C’mon!” Mom says, cheery, taking his wrist and guiding him. Izuku feels the softness of the sand under his shoes as soon as they set foot in it.

 

“Here, give me an hand, I’m putting down a table cloth.”

 

He silently obliges, then let himself being guided to sit down.

 

“…What are we doing?” He asks, after six waves.

 

“Having a picnic, obviously.” Mom replies, rummaging in her bag and putting down paper plates and tupperwares of food.

 

“I can… See that.” Izuku hesitates on the word.

 

He hears mom stopping her movement at his side, and then she sighs.

 

“You loved going to this beach when you were little, remember?”

 

Izuku does. It was all before his eyes betrayed him, of course. He remembers the color of the sea like a far, unfocused watercolor piece, and he thinks he remembers how a seagull looks like.

 

Maybe.

 

“You’re not a kid anymore, of course.” Mom continues, thoughtful. “You’re not that kid anymore, but you’re still my son.”

 

Silence stretches between them, mom resumes her preparing the picnic, slower.

 

“I only wish for you to be healthy and happy.” Her voice is lower. “But there’s only so much I can do, only so much I can control. And you have to walk forward, and live your life. But Izuku… I want you to know I will always be there for you, no matter what. Whenever you will need me, I will be there. You can tell me everything, and I will listen. I am… I’m proud of you, Izuku. I’m proud of how brave and smart you are. I’m proud of how you took your life in your own hand and charged forward and I think… I think I should’ve told you this more.”

 

His eyes sting, as does his nose. “Mom—“

 

“No, listen. The person you were yesterday— I thought about it all night. For a while, I couldn’t accept that the person I saw yesterday was my son, but that was stupid of me. Who you were yesterday, and who you were when you tried to attack Miki-chan… That was still you.”

 

Izuku gulps down the knot in his throat.

 

“But I know, I know, you are not proud of that person, and I know you want to change, and I know that you will be able to, because there’s nothing you can’t do, Izuku. And I owe you an apology, for not recognizing your suffering, and for turning away, for not wanting to see how much you needed me in your darkest time.”

 

Fat tears roll down Izuku’s cheeks, a sob shaking his entire frame, as he shakes his head. “No, m-mom, you’ve always been the best mom I-I could ask for—“ He hiccups. “Don’t s-say that—“

 

Inko smiles, sadly. “Could you forgive me, Izuku?”

 

Izuku is not four anymore, but as she holds him, his son, sobbing his heart out against her shoulder, Inko wish they could go back to the simplicity and lightheartedness of those days.

 

Then again, maybe not even those days have ever been so simple.

 

 

The sand is soft and chilly under his naked feet. It’s still a bit too early, maybe, but Izuku ignores the thought and jumps into the shallow water lapping at the shore, making a big splash.

 

“It’s cooooold!!!” He yells, jumping out, as mom laughs loudly from the table cloth on the sand.

 

He grins. Her laugh is the best sound in the world.

 

He runs up and down the shore, the wet sand making a squishing sound under his feet, chasing the sounds of the seagulls that indignantly squeaks and take flight if he gets too close.

 

“Sweetheart, don’t make them too angry or they’ll poop on you!”

 

“If they do, I’ll lead them to you!” He yells back, laughing.

 

He ends up tiring himself out after a while and stops, facing the sea that gently rumbles wave after wave. The sand is cold under his feet, and the gentle breeze encompasses him in a hug. He’s not quite sure how far he is, but after a bit he feels the presence of mom, walking up to him, silent.

 

He must look a disaster, he thinks. He hasn’t even tried to tame his hair, that morning, and he still feels his nose sting after having cried so much.

 

But he really doesn’t care. He feels so, so light, like if he stretches his arms out he will soar like the seagulls.

 

Mom is a comforting presence near him. She always was, she always will be.

 

He’s so, so lucky.

 

“Mom.” He says, head turned up at the sky. “How do the seagulls look like?”

 

Izuku will never see the pain that flashes in his mother’s eyes, and maybe that’s for the best.

 

Inko’s voice is strong, not a sign of regret in it. She takes his hand, and tells him of the seagulls.

 

 

The rest of his days of suspension go by in a blur. They went out a lot, did things they never did before. They went to the library, picking up random books, mom reading to him in a whisper. They went to the mall, Izuku trying to guess how many people were wearing red shirts nearby, mom either booing or cheering him depending on how close he had been. They went to a cat cafe, Izuku laughing as he ended up covered by warm, soft, purry cats.

 

Instead of a punishment, the days felt more like a vacation.

 

“Wipe that satisfied, smug smile away from your face, mister.” Mom reprimands him. It’s almost as if she’d read his mind. “While I’m glad we had time to speak and reconnect, do not forget you did get suspended, alright?”

 

“Yes, mom.” He replies, chastised. But he knows she’s also smiling.

 

 

He’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t a bit afraid of getting back to school, that’s why when he steps outside and he hears mom softly gasping “Miki-chan?” he’s absolutely delighted.

 

“Good Morning, Midoriya-san!” Miki says, cheerful. “Hey, Mr. celebrity, ready to get back to school?”

 

Mr celebrity? “Y-yeah, I guess… Well, I’m off, mom, have a good day!”

 

“You… Too, sweetheart.” She says, and the relief in her voice is so clear she might as well be screaming from the rooftops “MY SON HAS A FRIEND AGAIN!”

 

Izuku chuckles at the thought, catching up to Miki, who is humming an off-key tune. Once they are far enough, he turns towards her.

 

“Mr. celebrity?” he vocalises, confused.

 

He can hear the grin in Miki’s voice. “Oh, you have no idea.”

 

 

Apparently, the entire, literally, school know about the fact he broke Kacchan’s nose.

 

It’s not surprising, in retrospect. Kacchan is pretty much a celebrity in their boringly normal middle school, literally everyone knows who he is and who he will one day become, so the fact that he got his ass handed to him by blind, quirkless Midoriya Izuku spread like wildfire.

 

“Oh God.” He whispers, after Miki caught him up with the gossip. “He’s so not gonna be happy with this.”

 

“Oh, he’s not.” She says, in a forcefully uninterested tone. “But it’s not like there’s much he can do. Both of you are in the spotlight now, everyone knows what a piece of shit he is, and if he dares turn a single hair on your head, everyone will turn against him. He’s cornered and there’s nothing he can do about it, and it’s delightful.”

 

Something dark squirms in his chest, something akin to vengeful pride, and a little voice whispers in his ear that he deserved it, really, Kacchan deserved it all.

 

But he made a promise. He promised he would not let All Might down again. He would strive to do better, always.

 

“Miki.” He says, and the serious tone stopped her in her tracks, her attention completely on him. “I… I understand why you feel that way about Kacchan, and I’m grateful for you wanting to look out for me but…”

 

He hesitates, unsure about how to put into words his feelings.

 

“… But what I did doesn’t make me any better than him. And I made a promise.” He continues, honest. “I promised I would do better. So, please, don’t say those things anymore. Because I think you are a good, kind person, Miki, and I have no doubt you can do better, too.”

 

She’s staring at him, he can feel it.

 

“…Ok.” She says after a while, and her voice sounds strangled, like she’s almost in tears. “I… Let’s do better. Together?”

 

Izuku beams.

 

“Together.”

 

 

“Midoriya, that was like, so cool—“

 

He’s not sure who the voice belongs to, but he hears Kacchan’s strangled indignant noise behind him. But no explosion comes.

 

“I… Appreciate the sentiment.” He replies, even. “But I don’t think I did a good thing, so please, don’t take example from it.”

 

The silence that follows tells him of exchanged looks between peers with working eyes, but he finds himself not being bothered by it. He walks to his desk, not adding anything anymore.

 

The silence behind him— He’s not sure what to make of it.

 

 

“What game do you think you are playing?”

 

Izuku has just come out of the bathroom when the voice cornered him.

 

“I… Don’t understand?” He replies, sincere. Kacchan’s breath is hot on his face, dangerously close.

 

“What? You sucker punch me like a coward and now play the part of the little blind angel that can do no wrong. Do you find this funny?”

 

“I apologized.” Izuku replies, frozen in place. “And I meant it. I’m sorry I hit you, Kacchan. I don’t want to play any game—“

 

Don’t—“ Kacchan interrupts him. “Stop calling me that. You’re so annoying.”

 

Izuku has nothing to reply with, so he doesn’t.

 

“Ok, here’s the deal.” Kacchan continues. “I will keep living as if you don’t exist, and go to UA once I’m out of this shithole, and I will leave you behind in the dust, where you belong to. And if you even think of breathing in my general direction again, I will end you, are we clear?”

 

I just want to be friends with you again! Izuku yells in his mind, but instead he says “Crystal.”

 

Kacchan showes him against the wall, as if punctuating what he just said, before walking away.

 

Izuku takes a deep breath and tries not to cry. It’s like, one step forward, three thousand steps back, with Kacchan.

 

Do better.” All Might says in his mind.

 

Do better, he repeats to himself. Do better. Do better.

 

 

As life is, he finds himself having to break the unspoken promise of not breathing in Kacchan’s direction when his childhood friend gets kidnapped by a pile of sludge and apparently no one but the blind boy seems up to the task of going helping him, but that’s a story that’s yet far in the future.

 

 

Ichiko-san makes a thoughtful hum after his proposition.

 

He started to study under her again, and one day he stopped after a particularly brutal series of push-ups, an idea forming in his mind.

 

“Ichiko-san?” He said, as the woman was just about to ask why he stopped. “I was thinking… Could we possibly add a form of meditation to my training?”

 

“Meditation?” She repeated.

 

Izuku got back up on his feet, dabbing the sweat from his forehead away with his wrist. “Yes I… Find myself troubled, sometimes. Like I’m a rubber band stretched too far, about to snap.” He explains, thoughtful.

 

Like when I attacked Miki. And Bakugou. The words hang in the air, unspoken.

 

“So I thought… Maybe something to help me stay focused could be useful.”

 

And Ichiko-san hummed.

 

“That’s a good idea, actually.” She says after a while. “I’m afraid it is out of my area of expertise, though.”

 

Izuku deflates a bit. “Ah.”

 

“Don’t make that face, kiddo.” She says, ruffling his hair. “I’ll look into it and see what I can do. I have a lot of friends, I’m sure some of them will push us in the right direction.”

 

 

Turns out, meditation is exactly what Izuku had unknowingly needed to discover a whole new world that was just out of his reach.

 

It started so slowly. Ichiko-san consulted with a friend, spoke to them about Izuku’s situation, and together they studied something for him.

 

Ichiko-san met him at the gym, and put something in his hands. “Try put these on.”

 

Curious, Izuku palmed at the object. They felt like headphones, big and bulky, the type that completely covered his ears. Izuku didn’t like those models at all, as they made it too hard for him to hear the outside world.

 

“C’mon.” Ichiko-san nudged him, and Izuku unwillingly complied.

 

As soon as the headphones slipped over his ears the entire world stopped existing. He could only hear the insistent thumping of his heart in his temples, his breath whooshing down towards his lungs. He scrambled to get them off, not even realising he fell on his ass until the object fell down with a thud.

 

“Wha—“

 

“Noise-cancelling headphones.” Ichiko-san said. “The really good kind.”

 

Izuku blinked, slowly noticing his own short breathing.

 

“I know you’re scared.” Ichiko-san continued. “That’s why I asked Miki to don’t attend with us, today. I’m sure you wouldn’t have liked to have her see you like this.”

 

Izuku gulped, slowly rising back up to his feet. His knees felt like jelly.

 

“I know you rely only on sound to orientate yourself.” She put a gentle hand on his shoulder. “I… I can’t imagine how it must feel, for you. But I honestly think these will help you find yourself.”

 

Izuku turned his head up, wondering how Ichiko-san looked like in that moment.

 

“Go deep, and find yourself, Izuku.” She whispered, and those words were enough for Izuku to know this woman deeply, unwavering believed in him.

 

Slowly, he nodded.

 

 

It was so, so hard, at first, and so slow.

 

The headphones scared him. They left him open, and vulnerable. Someone could sneak up to him and plant a knife in his back and he’d be none the wiser until the blade would’ve sunk deeply into his body.

 

Sometimes the silence, the absolute lack of anything, made him feel so little, and so lost, and he’d have to scramble to get the headphones off, tears stinging in his eyes.

 

Ichiko-san wouldn’t comment, guiding him through a series of breathing exercises instead.

 

Izuku managed to put the headphones on without completely panic a little longer every time. And then he started to take them home. And then he started to put them on on the subway while going to and from school. The first time he tried that he almost puked on a poor, unsuspecting woman that kindly asked him if he felt sick. It was so utterly terrifying to be isolated in that way, while surrounded from perfect strangers.

 

But he pushed on.

 

Do better.

 

 

The first time it happened, Izuku was so confused.

 

“Mom, I think something is wrong.” He said over breakfast.

 

He explained to her of the lights. He started to feel lights. Faint, like dying stars barely visible in a city-polluted night sky.

 

But they were there, nonetheless, tickling at his brain.

 

Izuku had a taste of a period of his life he’d long forgotten, as he got driven back and forth from doctor to doctor trying to understand what was wrong with him.

 

But nothing came up, just as nothing came up when he lost his sight at the age of four. His eyes were still not working. Unseeing. They even scanned his brain, in fear of something bad growing in there, but he came out of it perfectly clear.

 

They were left only with a whole lot of nothing, in the end.

 

“But these lights…” Mom asked. “Do you think they are, I don’t know, lamp lights? Something like that?”

 

Izuku shook his head. He was not getting his sight back. This was something else.

 

It was hard to explain.

 

“I don’t know.” He replied in the end. “I don’t know how to explain this. When I’ll find the right words, I will tell you.”

 

“Ok, honey.” Mom whispered, a gentle hand covering his.

 

 

It didn’t take it long for him to finally click the pieces into place, once he was finally given a rest from all this doctor-visiting.

 

It was the headphones.

 

 

Of course it was not the headphones, per se, but something shifted in him from the moment he’d started using them to meditate.

 

Something that maybe had always been there, and he just hadn’t know until the chance was given to him.

 

He could not rely on hearing anymore, when he wore them. So something had to change, something was forced to change, and grow stronger.

 

Izuku had a theory, and he was going to test it as much as possible.

 

 

Inko smiled as she watched her son almost vibrate with excitement. She told her he had a surprise to show all of them when they’d next meet at Ichiko-san’s gym on a sunday, and once they arrived the same kind of smile opened on Ichiko and Miki’s faces when they witnessed Izuku’s plain happiness.

 

“Ok.” Izuku took in a deep breath. “Ok. Ok, so there’s something I want to try, so hear me out.”

 

They were sitting with their back against the wall, the four of them. Izuku fished his noise-cancelling headphones from his shoulder sack, and walked into the center of the room.

 

“I’m going to put these on.” He explained. “The three of you— I need you to walk around me, choose a random spot in the gym, and stand there. I’ll give you fifteen seconds, ok?”

 

They exchanged puzzled looks, but they complied once Izuku slipped the headphones on, and started to count.

 

At the end of the fifteen seconds, Inko expected to see him take off the headphones, but that didn’t happen. Instead, Izuku slowly turned around himself, then he walked toward Miki, which was the closest to him.

 

He put the point of his fingers on her shoulders. “Miki.” He said.

 

Inko jumped, her eyes going wide.

 

Izuku made his careful way toward Ichiko-san, put his fingers on her arm. “Ichiko-san.”

 

He was smiling.

 

Then he turned, and walked towards her, not a step out of place, making a beeline for her. The walk seemed endless.

 

His hand was hot on her cheek.

 

“Mom.” He said, softly. “I can see you.”

 

 

Chaos ensued.

 

Izuku slipped off the headphones and Inko started bawling, hugging him so tight Izuku made a noise not unlike a squeaky toy. Ichiko-san was speechless, her mouth open in a perfect O, as did Miki’s, before she yelled and started jumping up and down, laughing.

 

“Izuku that was sick!” She exclaimed. “How did you do that?!”

 

“Mom- I can’t breathe— Mom— Mom.” Izuku was palming at her forearm, and she finally let him go. He took a big, gulping breath, before smiling timidly. “I… I take in the experiment was successful.” He added, a little blush rising to his freckled cheeks.

 

“Successful?! That was super insane, dude, how!!!” Miki yelled, jumping on him, too excited to stand still.

 

Inko dabbed the tears out of her eyes, adding with a trembling voice. “I… I think we will all love to hear how.”

 

Izuku beamed.

 

 

He told them of the lights. Of his experiments. He told them how he’d made his way to school and back for an entire week, ditching his cane, wearing the headphones.

 

Inko thought she might have an heart attack right there and then.

 

He told them of the lights.

 

“It’s… It’s hard to explain.” He said gesturing wildly. “It’s like. Everything has a light. Everything. And if I concentrate I can feel it. And- And every person has a light, too, and every each one is different. Miki, do you remember when I sneaked up to you, the other day, and you thought your classmates helped me prank you? It wasn’t like that! I just focused and I could feel your light, your very own light, in the middle of the cafeteria, and I knew it was you, even if we were surrounded by hundreds of other students.”

 

“You little shit.” Miki replied, but there was no venom in her voice. Only happiness, deep and truly.

 

“I wanted to make sure, today—“ Izuku scratched at the back of his head. “I mean, I’m not that good at it yet. I still need a lot of concentration, It took me so long to pinpoint you in the cafeteria without the headphones but— But I think that’s it. This is it.”

 

“It… What, sweetheart?” Inko asked, breathless.

 

“This is my quirk.”

 

 

Inko wondered what kind of cruel God would take her son’s ability to see away, just to give him back a different kind.

 

But seeing Izuku’s unadulterated joy at his discovery, seeing him trying and failing to explain what he could now see (it’s like, feeling colors that I don’t remember existing, mom, I wish I could show you—) with a huge smile on his face, she couldn’t find it in herself to be mad.

 

Izuku wasn’t quirkless anymore. And, in his own, personal way, he wasn’t blind anymore.

 

What could a mother possibly ask for?

 

 

Ichiko-san took the news in great stride and with gusto.

 

“We are gonna take these lights, and we are gonna make them so strong people will envy your ability to see.” She said. “By God, Izuku, I will make you the hero with the best eyesight in the world if it’s the last thing I do.”

 

“YEAH!” Izuku yelled, pumping his fist into the air.

 

 

Miki sometimes felt like Izuku was walking too fast for her. Hell, he wasn’t walking, he was sprinting in full force. He was so far, already, somewhere were she couldn’t reach anymore, and sometimes the thought made her sad.

 

But, most of the time, she was just happy.

 

“You know, I don’t think the call of the hero it’s for me.” She said to him, once. “But I like your idea. Being useful and helping others— I like that. I think I could do something like that.”

 

“Whatever you will decide to do, you will be great at it.” Izuku replied, dead serious. “You already saved me, after all.”

 

 

Days went by so fast, it’s as if they flied. Izuku thrown himself body and mind in his training, he and Ichiko-san studied together so many ways to refine his newfound ability. Izuku spent a considerable amount of time strategising, testing and stretching the limits of his quirk, throwing all kind of ideas at the wall and see what stuck.

 

He still had limits. He still couldn’t read a street sign, or a text without the voice-over. he still couldn’t order from a menu without having someone read it to him. He still couldn’t see the new All Might merchandise he’s sure he’d love.

 

But he could feel so, so much more.

 

He could feel Miki from three blocks away, her light faint in the distance and yet unmistakable. He could feel Kacchan’s nervous, jittering energy, and avoid him accordingly (what can you do). He could find his way through a crowd, easily, he could put a name into his mind to every little road and shop around his school by the way the lights of those walking the streets reflected on them.

 

He could feel if someone was angry, or sad, or happy, or— all sorts of feelings, really. He could easily sidestep those that still thought it was funny to try bump into him on purpose.

 

He could recognize a friendly cat and pet it, and stay away from an angry dog defending its territory.

 

He could feel the water, full of life even if it was only puddles left after the rain, and jump over it.

 

There was so much to feel, and Izuku filled his eyes with it until he felt his brain could explode.

 

 

As life likes to do, more surprises awaits him.

 

He ends up meeting his number one hero in an underpass as he makes his way back home, happily humming to himself. He perceives something amiss in his radar —as he started to call his quirk—, a light behind him that seemed to suddenly come from below, and he dodges just in time the attack of something smelly and sounding quite unpleasant.

 

“Damn, kid.” The thing says. “You’re fast.”

 

“Maybe you’re just slow?” He asks instead, and the thing growls, trying to attack again.

 

Izuku dodges attack after attack, thinking. He has his backpack, but not much of use in there, except for his folded cane. He doesn’t really use it anymore and he just brings it with him out of habit, so it might as well make for a decent weapon—

 

Do not worry, for I am here!

 

The booming, familiar voice freezes him in place, and he takes a muddy smack to the face.

 

“Ew. Gross.” He mutters to himself, shaking the offending semi-liquid away.

 

When he focuses back after the hit, there’s no way he could possibly mistake who is in front of him even had he not recognized the voice.

 

All Might’s light is all-encompassing.

 

 

“Are you ok, boy?”

 

“Y-yes.” He stammers. God, his favorite person in the whole world —besides mom. And Miki. And Ichiko-san— is right in front of him, he thinks he’s allowed a bit of over-emotion.

 

“Good! Please, step back while I take care of this villain.”

 

“Yes, sir!” Like he’s going to argue with All Might!

 

He’s not quite sure what is going on as All Might struggles with the villain, so Izuku forces himself to focus. He could use this opportunity, trying to concentrate and see in his own way, trying to distinguish between the movements.

 

All Might is almost easy to feel. His sheer power is elegant, his punches perfect. Old memories of a time when he still could see that amazing smile and the blond hair comes back to him, and he’s four years old all over again.

 

The other, not so easy. Izuku imagines he must be some sort of shape-shifter, seeing the unpredictable way his light moves. He’s hard to make out, at first, but Izuku focuses and focuses until he can finally really feel.

 

The mud. Of course. The guy’s body must be made completely out of mud.

 

Something rolls and gently stops right at Izuku’s feet. He palms down, realizing All Might must’ve dropped whatever he was carrying in order to help him.

 

When Izuku feels the neck of a bottle under his fingers, an idea forms in his mind.

 

“Please, do not waste my time.” All Might says. He’s not taunting, his voice is open and honest. “We both know there’s no way you could win this fight, so I think it’s better if you come with me willingly.”

 

Fuck you!” The villain yells, and All Might sighs.

 

“All Might, sir! Catch!” Izuku yells, and throws.

 

He trusts in his aim. He has practiced his aim until his arms felt like they were about to fall off, and his stomach tried to rebel to him. Over and over and over.

 

All Might catches.

 

“Imprison him!” Izuku yells.

 

He cannot be sure, but it feels like All Might is smiling at him, now. “Good thinking, boy.”

 

Oh god, the praise, Izuku is dying.

 

 

The fight doesn’t last long after that, and the villain ends up humiliatingly imprisoned in a soda bottle.

 

Toshinori slips it in his pant pocket, as the young boy collected his few groceries and is now handling them to him with a smile that could light up a room.

 

“My thanks.” He says, smiling back. “What is your name, boy?”

 

“I’m Izuku! Izuku Midoriya, sir!” The boy replies, excited, looking up at him. And Toshinori looks into the unmoving washed out green, into milky white pupils visible behind the mess curly hair, and realizes.

 

The boy is blind.

 

The boy that he distinctly saw dodge a series of fairly quick attacks, light on his feet and clearly used to some kind of training, the boy that had thrown him the bottle at the perfect height and perfect speed, the boy that has easily collected his spilled groceries and orderly put them back into the little plastic bag—

 

The boy. Is blind.

 

Chapter Text

The boy is still looking at him —he can’t, actually, don’t be stupid, he’s probably just doing so to be polite—, as if waiting for something. Toshinori coughs, forcing himself out of his stupor.

 

“You did good, young Midoriya.” He says, and he means it. “You seem… Rather apt at this.”

 

The young Midoriya let out a little chuckle, his cheeks reddening. “I work out.” He says. An understatement in Toshinori’s eyes. “Sir, um— I’m sure you get this a lot but you’re, like, my favorite hero.”

 

“I do.” Toshinori admits, softly. “And every time it’s pleasing to hear just as the first.”

 

The boy chuckles again, almost vibrating with excitement.

 

“And— And I know you also probably get this a lot as well.” He continues. “But… You’re a great inspiration to me, and every time I’m down and think I can’t go on, I can hear your voice cheering me on and then I can get back up, a-and you’ve inspired me to do better, every day. So, thank you.”

 

Toshinori blinks, and the silence stretches for a second too long.

 

“I’m sorry—“ The boy stammers, pale green eyes finally breaking contact. “That was maybe a little— I—“

 

“No, I—“ Toshinori says, softly. “I don’t get that as much as you think. It was very moving. Thank you, young Midoriya, I’m honoured you think of me that way.”

 

Oh god, the young Midoriya looks like he’s about to pass out from excitement. That is never not adorable, but somehow seems even more so coming from this boy.

 

A sting of pain lets itself know. He should leave. His time is almost up, and he should definitely leave. But he cannot help it, Toshinori has to know one last thing before bidding farewell to his young fan.

 

“There’s something I wish to ask you, young Midoriya, hoping I’m not prying.”

 

“Anything, sir!”

 

“Are you…” He cannot really think of a way to put it tactfully, so he opts for honesty. “Are you blind?”

 

Midoriya jumps a bit, his eyes going wide. The sole of his shoes scratches at the asphalt in an almost childish gesture.

 

“I… I am, sir.”

 

Oh. Oh, Toshinori is so screwed.

 

 

The boy seriously looked like he was about to faint when Toshinori asked him if he’d so kind as of walking him to the nearest police station.

 

“I’m not experienced with the neighborhood, it would be extremely helpful if you could accompany me.”

 

There really is no need, he could’ve just asked for a general direction and that would’ve been enough, but Toshinori wants to know more about this brilliant young man that destiny has put in front of him, and this seems like the perfect occasion.

 

“OF COURSE!!!” Midoriya yells, before putting his hands over his mouth. “I’m sorry. Of c-course, although I should call my mom first, if that is ok with you, sir?”

 

Toshinori nods, before remembering the boy is blind and mentally smacking himself. “Of course, I wouldn’t want your mother to worry.”

 

“It’ll only be a m-minute!” Midoriya stammers, fishing his phone out of his pocket and murmuring “Call mom.” Into it.

 

“Hi, mom— No, I’m fine. I will be a bit late, I’ll explain later— No, no—“

 

Toshinori is wracked by a coughing fit. Goddammit. His time just goes by so fast.

 

He looks at the boy, his back turned toward Toshinori, concentrated on his call.

 

Well. He can’t really see him, right?

 

Toshinori let himself shift.

 

 

Izuku closes the call with one last hasty “love you mom bye!” before turning toward All Might, heart beating in his throat.

 

His favourite hero has complimented him, and thanked him, and now wants him to walk with him ohmygodIzukuisgoingtodie-

 

Something is different when he turns.

 

All Might it’s still there, of course. His light it’s still the same but— Less blinding.

 

Like it’s about to go out.

 

“All done, young Midoriya?” All Might asks, and then coughs. “Please do not mind my voice, I caught a bit of a sore throat that’s been plaguing me, lately. ”

 

Izuku feels it. He’s lying.

 

All Might is lying.

 

But… About what?

 

 

When the boy turned, he froze almost as if he could actually see Toshinori.

 

But… That wasn’t the case. The way the boy’s eyes looked— It was obvious, really.

 

What was that made him go silent and wide-eyed, then? Maybe it was just the prospect to walk with him, but…

 

“All done, young Midoriya?” He asked, and coughed. Shit, his voice. “Please do not mind my voice, I caught a bit of a sore throat that’s been plaguing me, lately. ”

 

Young Midoriya blinked, and relaxed.

 

“Of course.” He replied, strangely serious. “I… Ok, this way, sir.”

 

 

They walked.

 

All Might seemed oddly interested in him. And as much as that made his heart swell and his chest feel light, Izuku was unsure. Was he always this expansive with all his fans? Izuku couldn’t imagine it— The man was the most beloved hero in the world, there was no way he’d have the time to get so interested in every each one of his fans.

He wondered what made All Might so curious about him.

Ok, get that ego and squash it, now, Midoriya. If you allow this to go to your head, you’re soon gonna become Kacchan 2.0.

 

“Sir, can I ask you something a bit rude?” He says, in a moment of silence.

 

All Might chuckles. “Well, I did ask a rather personal question to you, earlier. I guess it’s only fair.”

 

“Why, um—“ Izuku hesitates, unsure about how to put this without offending his idol. “I’m sure you’re a very kind person, but I cannot imagine you spending so much time getting to know all your fans. That’s like, physically impossible. So… Why me?”

 

And perceptive too, Toshinori thought.

 

The boy has turned toward him, his eyebrows a little creased. An hand was going up and down his sleeve, in a probably unconscious nervous gesture.

 

“That is indeed true.” Toshinori weighs his words. “As much as I would love the be able to spend time with all my fans, that is simply not feasible. Today, you’ve happened to cross my path, and you’ve done something I simply could not think was possible for a boy in your… Situation.”

 

Toshinori hadn’t thought much of the boy’s ability he’d witnessed, at first. It was pleasing, sure, to see a young man such as Midoriya simply not relying on his quirk and actually being physically trained, but not so rare.

 

That was until he realized that Midoriya was blind.

 

“I’m… Not sure I’m following.” Midoriya replies, perplexed.

 

“Young Midoriya, I saw you going toe to toe with a villain, you got hit only when I accidentally distracted you. Which I should apologize for, actually.”

 

The boy scratches the back of his head, embarrassed. “I-it was nothing, really—“

 

“And—“ Toshinori continues. “Under pressure, you thought of a solution with what you had available on your hands, and precisely thrown the bottle at me so I could catch it without having to get both my hands off the villain. I mean no offense when I say this, but I think you understand me when I say this is quite the feat for any boy your age, let alone someone that cannot see.”

 

Midoriya was so red that the greenish hue of his hair made him look like a little, adorable tomato.

 

“I— No offense taken, sir.” He mutters, looking positively like someone that took the exact contrary of offense from his sentence.

 

“You understand my interest, now?” Midoriya nods, wordlessly. “Tell me, could it possibly be that you’re aiming to become a hero?”

 

Midoriya basically jumps in his skin, turning his head towards him, eyes as big as plates. “I—It has been my dream since I was a kid.” He whispers, as if he’s afraid the words might break once out of his mouth.

 

Toshinori nods, satisfied. “I’m glad.” He says, then. “I’m sure you have a brilliant path in front of you. I hope to be able to see you grow into a fine hero, one day.”

 

 

This is it. Izuku has died and is now in heaven. There’s no way this is real.

 

There’s so much he wants to say— But the words stop in his throat and gets all garbled and messy and Izuku knows that if he tries to talk now all that would come out would be something akin to that weird key mashing Miki replies to him with whenever he sends her some funny text.

 

So he shuts his mouth, and nods.

 

They walk in companionable silence for a bit. All Might feels lost in his thoughts, and as curious as Izuku is to know what he’s thinking about he’s really not about to pry, not when he’s not even able to string a single, coherent sentence together.

 

Izuku perceives a light suddenly coming from his right, and tenses. Whoever it is, stumbles into All Might with a oof before running away as if he hadn’t just crashed into the symbol of peace.

 

“Hey!” Izuku exclaims, outraged.

 

“Walk less slowly next time, assholes!” The guy replied, clearly already far.

 

Izuku can’t believe his ears.

 

“Man, some people—“ He mutters “I don’t know what that guy’s deal was, but if he didn’t notice who he just crashed into he must be more blind than me.”

 

All Might let out a little choked sound and then starts laughing, heartily.

 

Izuku feels himself blushing, satisfied. That laugh is different from the one All Might usually uses, it feels more— Personal.

 

Izuku always heard the phrase “Don’t meet your heroes”, and while he can understand the meaning of it, he cannot find himself agreeing with it at the moment.

 

All Might is just as wonderful as Izuku has always imagined him to be.

 

 

They reach the police station a little too early for Izuku’s tastes.

 

“Oh, thank you so much, young Midoriya.” All Might says, putting an hand on his shoulder. “You’ve been of utmost help, today.”

 

Izuku cannot help it. As selfish as it is, he doesn’t want to separate from his idol yet. With what he know must only be described as a pout, he wordlessly nods.

 

Silence stretches as All Might probably stares at him.

 

“Could you please wait for me outside?” All Might says, his words almost calculating. “I’ll make sure the villain is properly cared for, and then walk you home. For safety, you see.”

 

Izuku’s heart jumps in his throat, and then he beams. “Of course. For safety!”

 

He can just feel the smile All Might gives him before entering the police station, and as he does so, Izuku watches his light go bright and golden and blinding again. Huh. Weird.

 

 

After explaining the situation to the starstruck police officer, Toshinori slips the bottle out of his… Pocket…

 

The bottle is not there.

 

He frantically thinks. The guy in a hurry accidentally crashing into him— That’s when it must’ve fallen out.

 

He had been too smitten with Midoriya’s surprising sense of humor to notice.

 

Stupid stupid stupid stupid

 

You’re such a fucking idiot.” A voice in his head that sounds suspiciously like Gran Torino reprimands him.

 

Toshinori really cannot argue with that.

 

 

Izuku sits outside on a pot, the bush leaves tickling is neck, as he swings his legs back and forth.

 

He knows it’s kind of a childish, but he can’t help it, he’s just too excited to sit still—

 

He jumps when he hears yelling in the distance. He focuses, just in time to perceive a familiar light rapidly sliding toward the center of the city— No, wait.

 

Two familiar lights.

 

Oh. Oh no.

 

 

Toshinori crashes into the boy just as he steps out the police station, sending him tumbling on the side-walk.

 

“Young Midoriya! Are you—” Before he can even finish the sentence, the boy is back on his feet, frantic, grabbing at his shirt.

 

“All Might— That mud guy— Kacchan— He took him! He took Kacchan!”

 

Toshinori doesn’t know what the boy is talking about. He puts his hands on Midoriya’s shoulder.

 

“My boy, I’m afraid I will not be able to walk you home, today.” Toshinori says, regretfully. “You are not responsible for my mistakes, but nonetheless, I need to remedy to them. Where did the villain go?”

 

Izuku points in the direction of the city centre, wordlessly. His hands let All Might’s shirt go as he flexes down—

 

“All Might, wait—“

 

— And he’s off.

 

Izuku watches the blinding light soar away, a sting of sadness in his chest.

 

And Kacchan…

 

Kacchan.

 

Well… All Might technically didn’t tell Izuku not to follow, right?

 

 

Toshinori unwillingly shifts back just as he’s about to hit the floor.

 

Shitshitshitshit

 

Luckily for him, he manages to stick a semi-decent landing. His body does not agree with his score of semi-decent and lets itself know, shaking him with coughs as blood drips from his chin.

 

He made such a mess. God, he’s the worst-

 

A giant foot comes in his field of vision. There’s a large crowd, but they are all turned away from him, thankfully.

 

“Please, everyone, stand back!” A female voice booming over the chaos. Little columns of smoke are starting to raise into the sky. “Make sure you and everyone around you is out of danger! Let us take care of this!”

 

Mount lady, that’s her name, Toshinori is sure. A rather new entry into the hero world.

 

The are others, he can see them, and he let out a little sigh of relief.

 

God, he is the worst. Makes a mess of things, disappoints a young, eager fan, and then is relieved when others are behind him, cleaning up his shit. What would sensei think of him?

 

He wobbles to the other side of the road, trying to see over the crowd. At least his considerable height comes in handy, for once.

 

It is the mud-guy, indeed. Strangely enough, there are explosions coming out of him. That was what must’ve lit all the fires, but Toshinori is perplexed— Why did the villain not use those explosions against him in the first place?

 

His heart almost skips a beat when he realizes— There’s a boy trapped in the mud, cannot be older than young Midoriya—

 

His heart definitely skips a beat when he sees Midoriya pop out the front of the crowd, charging against the villain.

 

 

Kacchan’s light is so distressed.

 

Izuku didn’t really had the time to be afraid, during his encounter with the mud villain. He focused into how to fight back, at first, and then All Might arrived, and how could Izuku possibly be afraid after that?

 

But— Of course he should’ve been. Of course Kacchan is afraid. For all his brashness and big words, Kacchan it’s still just a boy, like him.

 

And— Where’s All Might? He should pop up in the crowd, with his golden light, but Izuku can’t feel it, despite the advantage All Might had over him—

 

Izuku scans the crowd. It’s hard to focus, when everyone’s lights are so frantic, and there are other heroes too, he can hear them trying to find a breach into the villain’s defenses—

 

Finally he finds it. All Might’s light is… Is weak again.

 

What is going on?

 

Kacchan screams something unintelligible over the general noise, and his light it’s so, so scared

 

And suddenly, nothing really matters anymore. No matter how much Kacchan has hurt him, of many tears Izuku spilled because of his old friend.

 

Kacchan was scared.

 

Izuku charges before he has the time to even realize his feet are moving.

 

 

It all happens in a matter of seconds—

 

He thinks he hears All Might scream “Midoriya, no!”, but it’s hard to tell over the cacophony, more probably it’s a trick of his imagination—

 

Izuku feels the warmth of living fire in the reflection of Kacchan’s light.

 

He grabs at it without slowing his dash— It’s a piece of something— Maybe wood, burning lively at the tip, the warmth it’s almost unbearable—

 

It’s perfect.

 

He thinks he hears Kacchan go “Izuku…?” but it’s hard to tell over the cacophony. That is surely a trick of his imagination, Kacchan hasn’t called him with his given name in years—

 

The mud guy is more still, now. Trying to contain the uncontainable force that is Katsuki Bakugou, less shifty and liquid-y. Izuku focus, focus until it’s just the two of them in his dark world, until he feels like he’s not even looking at mud-guy’s light, but directly into his soul, down to his most vulnerable parts— And jumps.

 

The burning stick sinks directly into mud-guy’s eye.

 

 

The pro-heroes take him and Kacchan away as soon as Mud-guy releases Kacchan, screaming in pain.

 

“What do you think you were doing—“ “That was dangerous—“ “Are you crazy—?!”

 

There are voice reprimanding him, but Izuku pays them no mind. He’s too busy trying to open back the scope of his radar, like a camera lens un-focusing away from a single object. His heart roars in his veins and his breathing is short and ragged—

 

Kacchan’s light at his side is still, unnaturally so. As if he’s concentrating his entire being on something—

 

Him.

 

Izuku gulps, all the noises washing over him, as if he just snapped out of a dream.

 

He doesn’t have time to think about Kacchan’s sudden focus on him, though. All Might’s light is back, right in front of him. He must’ve jumped into the fight not long after Izuku and Kacchan had been dragged away. But something is different, a different feeling to it like… Like shame.

 

Izuku is far too accustomed to that particular feel.

 

All Might is ashamed.

 

Why?

 

 

“What was that?”

 

Things have quieted down. Police forces and firefighters and ambulances have arrived. Izuku and Kacchan got dragged over to a couple of paramedics that checked them and ordered them not to move. Kacchan was unharmed, for the most part, and Izuku was definitely unharmed except for a small scrape on his palm that he got when he fell down after sinking the burning stick into the mud-guy’s eye.

 

After the paramedics were satisfied with their condition and left them with a bottle of water each sitting inside one of the ambulances, Kacchan asked that question.

 

Izuku wasn’t even sure what he was referring to. So many things have happened that pinpointing exactly what Kacchan meant with that seemed an impossible task.

 

Then again, knowing Kacchan, he probably meant the whole thing from the very first moment Izuku has emerged from the crowd.

 

Izuku is turned toward Kacchan, not sure if he’s actually looking at him. There’s so much he could say—

 

“You looked like you needed help.” Are the words that find their way out of Izuku’s throat, weakly.

 

“You…” Kacchan hesitates. “You can’t see, dipshit.”  but his words lack the usual bite.

 

Izuku smiles sadly. “No.” He says. “I guess not.”

 

 

Despite Kacchan’s -loud, vehement- protests, they are not allowed to leave until their parents come pick them up. Kacchan’s mother is the first to arrive, crushing Kacchan in what Izuku can only imagine is a bear-hug, going by his muffled protests.

 

“Izuku—“ She’s breathless after finally putting Kacchan down. “I— They told me something of what has happened on the phone, did you really—“

 

Before she could finish the sentence, mom arrives.

 

“IZUKU!” Now it’s his turn to get crushed into a bear hug. “Izuku, Oh my god, I was so scared, don’t you ever scare me like that again—“

 

“Mom, mom I’m fine—“ He tries to say. “I really am, look, I’m fine. I’m fine.”

 

Mom let out a watery sigh, her hands on his cheek, caressing him frantically. He let her hug him again without a protest. She deserves as much after the scare he must’ve given her.

 

The her light turns from worried to absolutely enraged.

 

Uh-oh—

 

“Young man.” She says, steel in her voice, hands like bricks on Izuku’s shoulder. “I got told on the phone you charged against a villain. You did not charge against villain, right?”

 

“Um—"

 

Izuku was screwed.

 

 

Toshinori made his way over the ambulance where the two boys were sitting.

 

He had no juice left him, wobbling in his skeletal —his normal— form over there. He did not like the idea of approaching them in his current body, but he trusted young Midoriya would recognize him, at least.

 

It was clear that the boy had much more to him that his plain-looking exterior let on.

It was also clear that the boy had no self-preservation whatsoever, and as hypocritical as it was of Toshinori, he was not gonna let this slide. The boy better cram in that curly head of his that getting himself killed before reaching the adult age was not the way to become a hero.

 

Two women where standing in front of the ambulance, bot of them with their arms around their respective sons.

 

It was pretty clear at first sight who they were.

 

Then the woman that could only be Midoriya’s mother going by the glaring similarity between them put her hands on Midoriya’s shoulder. Her gaze would have scared Toshinori had it been pointed at him. He once knew someone that would point that kind of gaze at him.

 

“Young man. I got told on the phone you charged against a villain. You did not charge against villain, right?”

 

Toshinori sighs. The boy deserved a scolding, but not getting the blame that he was overdue on his shoulders would be unfair and cruel toward young Midoriya.

 

“Ma’am, a word, if you please.” He says, the woman turning toward him like an eagle.

 

She really reminds him of a certain someone.

 

Midoriya blinks and then his shoulders relax. “Al—“ But he immediately shut his mouth, just as Toshinori was about to internally lose his shit at the prospect of the boy letting those two words out.

 

Young Midoriya looks at him —he had the distinct feeling he was literally looking at him, as impossible as that was—, frowned, and then said nothing else, a knowing look on his face.

 

The jig was up. And Midoriya Izuku was such a puzzling mystery in his mind, now.

 

 

Izuku bit down his tongue to stop himself from blurting out All Might’s name. His light was dim again, and he felt the panic in it as soon as Izuku has opened his mouth.

 

All Might… He must’ve looked something different than usual. It was the only conclusion he could possibly come to. The guy that bumped them in the streets, the non-reaction from his mom— She was as much of an All Might fan as Izuku was, there’s was no way she wouldn’t have freaked out at seeing him approach them, no matter how angry at Izuku she was.

 

Yes. It all made sense. Izuku had no idea how or why, but that was the only sensible, logical conclusion

 

So he shut his mouth, hoping his face was conveying his silent understanding to All Might.

 

All Might’s secret would be safe with him. He’d go to the grave not telling anyone, if necessary.

 

 

“Do… We know each other?” Inko asked, perplexed.

 

Before the sickly looking, tall blond man could answer, a police officer approached them, looking for Katsuki.

 

“we need to ask him some questions. Of course as his mother, you can come with us.” The officer says, addressing Mitsuki. “It’ll only take a few minutes.”

 

“Of course.” She says, and Katsuki, bless his little grumpy soul, does not protest this time, dutifully following the officer despite the deep frown on his face. “I’ll… See you later, Inko.” She says, sounding just as stress and tired as Inko does.

 

They watch the couple leave, the three of them, before Inko turns back towards the blond man.

 

“I am… Responsible for young Midoriya’s actions.” He says, continuing as if there had been no interruptions. He seems to look slightly relieved, despite the bomb he just dropped on her.

 

Excuse me?!

 

“No, mom, don’t get mad—“ Izuku says, frantically. “Al— I mean, um— Sir?” He adds, sounding more confused than anything.

 

“I understand your anger, and I will not shy away from it.” The blond man continues. His voice is vaguely scratchy, and the stain on his shirt looks definitely like blood.

 

He sounds like someone that walked to hell. And then a bit further. And then came back, before walking into hell again.

 

“But, if you let me, I would like to explain the matter in a… More private setting.” He coughs.

 

Inko squints menacingly, both hands firm on her son.

 

“Mom.”

 

Izuku voice is low, and serious, and she turns towards him. His face is turned up to her, his unseeing eyes trying to convey a feeling that doesn’t quite manage to get through.

 

“If you trust me.” Izuku says. “Then trust him. Please.

 

 

It’s late, very late, later than Izuku is usually allowed to stay up. He should go to school tomorrow.

 

Inko knows he’s not going to school tomorrow.

 

She sighs, watching her son trying to dig a hole in their living room as he mutters to himself God only knows what. She has only caught some words there and then, something about a different form, she really can’t make much out of it.

 

Izuku is a constant source of surprises. Just as she thinks she has figured him out, at least a bit, there he goes with some new crazy antics.

What did she do wrong, and yet so, so right to get a son like him?

 

A knock on the door, Izuku jumps, all jittery, nervous energy.

 

“Stay there.” She says, trying to muster some resemblance of anger in her voice. “Sit down. You’re walking a fine line here, mister.”

 

Izuku instantly obeys, sitting down on his favorite armchair straight as a plank.

 

When she opens the door, the sickly blond man is there, with a clean set of clothes, still looking like death warmed over.

 

“Sorry for the lateness—“ He says. He sounds breathless. “I tried to get things done as fast as possible, but there was a lot of talking with the police forces, and I had to get out of those clothes— You know—“ He nervously scratches at his head.

 

“Yes, I know.” Inko squints. There had been blood on his shirt, that afternoon. “Now, I do not know who you are, and I do not care why my son seems to think you are deserving of trust, I’m giving you a chance on his behalf, but you better have a really good explanation of all this, before I call the police on you.”

 

Izuku gasps in a way that would suggest she just walked up to a deity and spit in their face.

 

“MOM!!!” He screams. “RUDE!”

 

Surprisingly enough, the blond man chuckles.

 

“Young Midoriya, your mother has a fiery spirit. I can see from who you took after.” He says. His tone is… Fond? “You are very lucky.”

 

“I am but like, rude!” Izuku sounds frantic, his face flushed. “Sir, I’m really sorry—“

 

“You do not decide who I should be sorry for.” Inko interrupts, pointing at her son. “And you.” She says, turning back toward the man. “Get your ass on my couch and start talking.”

 

Izuku groans, hiding his face in his hands.

 

 

The blond man sits on her couch, his long legs looks cramped in the space between it and the coffee table that for her and Izuku is usually more than enough.

 

He holds his hand out.

 

“My name is Toshinori Yagi.” He says. “But you might know me as All Might.”

 

Inko almost faints.

 

 

Once she’s done hyperventilating, with the blond man -All Might- fussing over her with a guilty expression, she turns slowly over her son.

 

“Do not look at me like that!” Izuku protests. “I tried to tell you to stop being rude!”

 

All Might-Toshinori-Whatever doesn’t seems to react to Izuku’s words with other than a blink of very slight amusement.

 

“Do not be so hard on your mother, young Midoriya.” He says. “I deserve a bit of rudeness, seeing how irresponsible I have been today.”

 

“That’s not true—“ Izuku pouts, childlike.

 

Inko wants to apologize, every single part of her being it’s screaming at her to apologize to this man that both her and her son have idolised for as long as Izuku has been able to pronounce words.

 

She doesn’t.

 

“I…” She catches her breath some more. “I don’t think there’s any need to say that I truly admire you and respect the work you’ve done in all these years, but I hope you will understand that I still want a solid explanation as of why you, of all people, have put my son in danger today.”

 

Strangely enough, Izuku does not protest at her words in the slightest, this time.

 

All Might nods, a deep frown casted on his emaciated features. “I’d expect nothing less from you, Miss Midoriya.” His voice is both gentle and full of regrets. “I’m afraid this might turn to be a long story, sorry for keeping you both up for this long.”

 

 

“I hope you will both forgive me for the fact I cannot give you the full story. What I can say to you is that my powers are not infinite— Following an incident around five years ago, I’ve found myself being able to rely on them less and less, that is why I now look like the way I do, at least for you, Miss Midoriya. Although I think young Midoriya here has already figured it out, somehow.”

 

“I suspected something of the sort.” Izuku says in a quiet voice.

 

“Hopefully you will be able to tell me how, later?”

 

Izuku nods.

 

“Thank you.” All Might resumes. “I trust in you both that you will not let this information outside this living room. It is imperative that my current status stays hidden as long as it’s possible.”

 

He continues, explaining to Inko how he just so happened to see Izuku deal with the mud villain after having followed him through the sewers, how impressed he had been with Izuku’s agility and his quick thinking (Izuku hid his red face into a pillow at that point, making both of them smile silently), how he asked Izuku to walk him in order to find out more about this young, talented boy, how he let himself get distracted and make a stupid mistake.

 

“Oh!” Izuku exclaims at that point. “It must’ve been when that guy run into you, isn’t it?”

 

“That’s also what I figured.” All Might nods. “I should’ve secured the bottle better. Anyway, my mistake costed us a whole lot of grief today, and I’m partially, if not completely, responsible for your actions that followed.”

 

Izuku squirms, uncomfortable “You can’t blame yourself for that—“

 

“But I do.” All Might interrupts him, and for the first time during that night, his voice turns into steel, serious. “Young Midoriya, you are smart, and talented, undoubtedly. But what you’ve done today was stupid, irresponsible, and not something like I thought a boy as brilliant as you would act.”

 

Izuku has the decency to look properly ashamed, at least, Inko thinks to herself with a little sigh.

 

“I sure hope our little chat didn’t go to your head, otherwise I’d be possibly even more disappointed in you.” All Might adds, and his words might’ve been a whip, seeing at how hard Izuku flinched.

 

“No!” He says, almost getting out of his seat, before composing himself back again “No- That’s not it. I swear. I knew you’d be angry if I followed, but I did it anyway. That is my responsibility, and mine alone.”

 

Izuku’s voice turned into a whisper during the sentence, and All Might’s voice softened once more.

 

“why did you do it, then?”

 

“Kacchan—“ Izuku’s voice itches in his throat. “The villain took Kacchan. How could I turn my back and walk home, just like that? I knew Kacchan would be scared, that he would need help. I couldn’t— I couldn’t leave just like that. Not when I knew that someone, out there, needed help.”

 

 

Toshinori closes his eyes, a deep sigh passing through him after hearing those words.

 

He shouldn’t. There were so, so many reasons why he shouldn’t.

 

I couldn’t leave just like that. Not when I knew that someone, out there, needed help.

 

But in his heart, his stupid, damaged, still beating heart, he knows that the decision is already half made.

 

 

“I see.” All Might says thoughtfully after long seconds of silence filled only by the ticking of the clock arms going by.

 

“I’m sorry.” Izuku says, fists tight in his lap. “I know I did a stupid thing, and I know I’m super grounded, mom.” He flashes her a weak smile. “But I just… I just could not try to help. Please, try to understand.”

 

Inko sighed again, demurely dabbing at her wet eyes, but her voice does not waver. “You are in trouble for sure.” She says, before reaching out and putting an hand on her son’s. “And I understand that your heart is too big for your own good, Izuku. Sometimes, I wish you’d be a little more selfish.”

 

Izuku squirms a bit, muttering something unintelligible, as All Might chuckles again.

 

“My sensei once told me something like that, a long time ago.” He says, fondly. “You remind me of her very much, Miss Midoriya.”

 

“Oh, my—“ Inko stutters, her hands flying to her rapidly reddening cheeks. “That is a bit much, sir—“

 

All Might laughs again. It’s a nice laugh.

 

“I believe that destiny has put me in a good place today, despite everything that has happened.” He says, long, thin fingers crossing in his lap. “You are both good people, and if I had to reveal my secret to someone, I’m very glad it happened to be the two of you.”

 

The way mother and son blushed was very similar, Toshinori noted. They both started from the ears.

 

“Miss Midoriya, I have very many questions about your son, but I must start with this one” Toshinori says, after leaving them both a few instants to calm down. “Would you allow me to see after his studies?”

 

Inko really faints, this time.

Chapter Text

“Oh, that was embarrassing—“ She says, once she’s finally back on her feet. “I’m so sorry— I’ll go make us all some hot tea, you two can— Um, talk. I’ll be right back.”

 

She hurries out, and Izuku sinks back into his armchair.

 

“Oh my god.” He says. “Oh my god. You can’t just drop things like that! Hadn’t mom fainted, I think I’d have died of an heart attack myself!”

 

The words are out before his brain really catches up about who he’s talking to, and Izuku slaps both hands on his mouth. But All Might’s light feels amused, even possibly fond.

 

“I think we will both be less nervous if we start addressing each other a bit less formally, young Midoriya.” He says.

 

“Does that mean you’ll call me Izuku? Because I’d die. I’d literally die.” Izuku says, his traitorous mouth moving on its own again.

 

He should just stop talking. His brain-to-mouth filter is clearly fried.

 

“Let’s avoid premature deaths.” All Might says, a laugh in his voice. “So, young Midoriya, why don’t you tell me about yourself?”

 

 

 

“I tend to over-talk a bit, so I’ll try my best to give you the abridged version—“  Midoriya started, vaguely flustered.

 

So he spoke. Of how he’d always admired heroes and has dreamt of becoming one ever since he’d been able to walk, how he waited and waited for a quirk that he thought never came.

 

How he’d lost his sight at only four, and lived his life in the dark ever since.

 

“In retrospect, that obviously was my quirk manifesting.” Izuku said, pulling at his lower lip thoughtfully. “I just didn’t know yet. I didn’t find out until, like, a month and a half ago.”

 

Toshinori blinked, perplexed. “Please enlighten me?”

 

And he did, explaining of how his meditation led to him to the blossoming of his ability, these “lights” that allowed him to see so much.

 

“That’s how I realized that you didn’t look… Well, like you— All the time. Your light shifts with you, and people obviously reacted to you differently, so putting two and two together I could only come to that conclusion.”

 

“I see.” Toshinori replies, thoughtfully. While they spoke, Inko came back with freshly brewed tea and a plate of cookies she very unsubtly pushed in his direction.

 

There it goes, another person in the constantly growing collection of “people that tries to feed Toshinori please for the love of God eat something”. He dutifully grabs a cookie, if only to avoid her pointed look.

 

“Could you tell me more about your quirk? For what I gather, these lights you see, are unique to every living being. Can you see not-biological matter as well?”

 

“In a sense.” Midoriya replies. “I don’t think not biological matter actually emits a signal I can perceive, but I can still feel it thanks to the living things surrounding it. It’s like their lights reflect on surfaces, that way I’m able to feel them and move accordingly, if that makes sense.”

 

“It does.” Toshinori replies, taking a sip of his tea. “You said you saw that villain take away your friend, by recognising their lights. How far were they from you?”

 

“At the moment the most I’m able to perceive without focusing too much it’s about, I’d say, a radius of two-three hundred meters, give or take? I’ve reached around six hundred by focusing really hard, but that made me feel very sick. It’s— Hard, to perceive the sheer number of things alive around me.” Midoriya finished his tea in record time and was now distractedly rolling the empty cup in his hands. “I managed to stretch the radius very far since I first discovered my quirk, but at times the input gets overwhelming and I need to turn it off for a bit.”

 

Toshinori took his second cookie, distractedly. “That is quite impressive, I have to say.” He says after taking a bite. “Both the scope of your quirk, and how much you’ve been able to refine it after having discovered it only a short time ago.”

 

The young Midoriya smiles, red dusting his cheek.

 

“I cannot even count the amount of times an ability like yours would’ve made my work so much easier, and saved so many more lives.” Toshinori adds, almost too distracted by his own racing thoughts to realize he said that aloud. “Impressive. Very impressive.”

 

Inko Midoriya let out a little hiccup, that shakes him out of his stupor. When he turns to her, her eyes are wet.

 

“I’m sorry—“ She says, her voice trembling. “I— Izuku is a good son— A fantastic one, actually.”

 

“Mom—“

 

“But— he has lived a hard life, and has managed to get over so many obstacles only counting on his own strength, and yet, no one but a very selected few around him has ever saw his efforts and recognized his merits. To have someone— No, to have you, between all, to see them— I— Thank you.

 

A moment of silence follows the trembly and yet emphatic sentence, before the young Midoriya gets out of his armchair to kneel near his mother, surrounding her in a hug. His unseeing eyes are wet, but he does not cry.

 

Toshinori is just assured yet again that his trust is not wasted with this family.

 

“I do not only recognise young Midoriya’s merits.” He says gently, putting an hand on her shoulder. “But yours as well. You’ve done a fantastic job raising your son, Miss Midoriya. You should be proud.”

 

Her sobs somehow sounds like music, in Toshinori’s ears.

 

 

He bids his farewell at almost three in the morning after Inko Midoriya has calmed down enough.

 

“There’s much to discuss still, but I think we all need to rest, for now.” He said, taking into young Midoriya’s sleepy expression. “I will visit in the evening to speak some more, later today, if that is ok with you two?”

 

“Would you like to come for dinner?” Young Midoriya blurted, his mom turning towards him with a frown.

 

“Izuku—!”

 

“Oh, please, like you wouldn’t love that.” He replied, shrugging.

 

“I would like to come for dinner, as long as Miss Midoriya promises me not to overdo herself.” Toshinori replied with a little laugh.

 

The woman blushed a bit. “Well, I guess dinner it is, then.”

 

He turned one last time as mother and son waved at him and wished him a good night, slowly making his way back to his new, and still mostly empty, apartment.

 

The night air is chilly, and the few visible stars he can see up in the sky seems to shine brighter than usual, that night.

 

He wonders if sensei would approve of his decision.

 

But first, for the time being, he needs to make some calls, and hope his living friends will agree with the conclusion he has come to.

 

 

“So, would you like to go to UA, young Midoriya?”

 

This is already the third time All Might has come for dinner. The first two were mostly spent speaking some more of Izuku’s life, telling All Might about Miki and Ichiko and the training he has been going through for the past year and some.

 

“I see, you already have a solid basic knowledge of combat, that is really good.” All Might said. “I would like to speak with your sensei.”

 

So that was a point of discussion too, making arrangements. They’ve been thinking about how to introduce All Might without giving his identity away (“I’m sorry, I do not wish to force you to lie to your friends, of course, but I am afraid this is a necessity I cannot negotiate over.”) when All Might blurted that question out.

 

Izuku almost drops his chopsticks.

 

“I—“

 

Yes. Of course I would like that. His mind screams at him. But can he?

 

Yes, he discovered his quirk and, yes, thanks to it he was now more independent than ever.

 

But he was still blind. He still had enormous limits. And his strength was only equivalent to the limits of his own body.

 

Could someone like him really make it into UA’s hero course?

 

“Young Midoriya, I like to think my judgment counts for something.” All Might nudges him, gently, like a lion-dad nipping at his pups to poke at their egos. “So, I’m going to ask again. Would you like to go to UA?”

 

Izuku closes his fist. “Yes.” He says. “Yes. I want to go UA.”

 

 

“I’m Toshi Shimura, a talent-scout from UA.” The thin, tall, sickly-looking blond man in a too-big suit offers his hand. “Miss Kobayakwa, young Midoriya has told me much about you, and as I’ve taken interest in his talents I would like to speak to you about his training, if possible?”

 

Ichiko is left speechless for a moment. Izuku looks nervous near them, playing with his fingers, his head going back and forth between her and the man he introduced to her.

 

A talent-scout from UA—“ She breathes out. “Izuku, you scored big this time.” She grins, grabbing the man’s hand in solid grip. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Shimura. I would love to speak to you about Izuku’s future.”

 

Izuku relaxes so plainly he looks as if he’s about to melt.

 

 

The talent-scout that has taken interest in Izuku is kind of an odd guy, but by the way he talks, Miki realized, he probably was a huge dork, just like Izuku.

 

He has been coming to their training sessions on and off. Sometimes offering suggestions, mostly just watching. It was clear he deeply respected mom’s training ability, as he nods and hums and writes something down in a little block notes.

 

Sometimes he talks to her, too. He’s very kind.

 

“Young Kobayakawa, I wonder if you also might be interested in a career in hero-ing, like your friend is?” He asked, once.

 

Miki laughed. “No, no, that stuff ain’t for me.” She replied. “I like training with Izuku and mom, and I know I’m pretty good at self defense, but if I have to be honest, I don’t want to unleash my quirk onto a living thing every again. I haven’t decided yet what I want to do, but that’s ok. I’ll find my road, like Izuku did.”

 

The man hummed thoughtfully. “I see. You seem very driven, I’m sure you will soon find what you really excel into.”

 

“For now, the one thing I excel into is making Izuku work harder.” She replied, grinning, and jumped up. “MOVE YOUR ASS, MIDORIYA, THAT FOOTING IS SLOPPY AS HELL!”

 

“YES, M’AM!” Izuku replied, grinning, with a little salute. The blond man laughed, clearly satisfied by only God knew what.

 

One time he wasn’t alone. He came with a man with long, dark, messy hair and bags under his eyes so big they must be paying rent, by now.

 

Izuku had been too focused sparring with mom to notice, at first, and when he spared a single perplexed look in their direction that won him an ass-to-the-grass moment when mom flipped him over.

 

“Focus, Izuku!”

 

“Yes, sorry!” Came the immediate reply, as Izuku did not waste a single second getting back up on his feet.

 

The two men did not intervene all lesson, whispering between themselves for a while, and when the dark-haired man left, Mr. Shimura had a smile on his face that Miki could only describe as smug.

 

 

“I have no doubt that with the amount of time we still have and with your excellent teaching, Miss Kobayakwa, young Midoriya will be more than prepared for the entrance exam at UA. But we have a problem.”

 

They were sitting around a small plastic table in the garden behind Ichiko’s gym, tea cups and a tray of sweets from the bakery down the road between them. The table was too small for five people, and All Might was hunched over, his knees touching the plastic edges. Downsides of being a giant, Inko guessed with a little internal laugh.

 

“What kind of problem?” Izuku piped up, a worried frown creasing his eyebrows behind the messy hair.

 

“It is no obstacle I do not trust you will be perfectly able to surpass, my boy, but we must prepare.” All Might said, in a gentle voice. “You see, the physical exam usually consist in a point-based system where the contestants must take down as many robots as possible, three models of which gives points from one to three depending on the model you manage to take down, and one model which is usually recommended to avoid, as it does not give any point. It is a flawed system.” All Might sighed. “If I have to be honest, I do not approve of it too much. It gives an unfair advantage to those who posses very physically strong quirks, while undervaluing those that, like you, possess different, more subtle kind of talents.”

 

“Of course—“ Izuku muttered, pulling at his lower lip. “There’s only so much I can do, when I’m simply not strong enough. I doubt I could possibly be able to take down a robot bare-handed.”

 

“But I have an idea.” All Might continue, fishing something from a battered leather bag he brought with him.

 

“A… Hair drier?” Miki asked, tilting one of her eyebrows.

 

“It’s just a hunch I have.” All Might said, leaning over the table to put the object in Izuku’s hand. “But young Midoriya, tell me: If you focus on this hair drier, can you make out the inside components of it?”

 

Izuku has never tried something like that. He usually did not pay too much attention to not living things, just as much as he needed to be able to move freely.

 

He blinked, closing his fingers around the plastic shell of the object, and focused.

 

He could feel, a bit. It was kind of a mess, all those cables and little parts and things Izuku really did not have any knowledge of.

 

“I… I think I can?” He said after a good couple of minutes, after everyone around the table had silently, patiently waited for him.

 

“Good.” All Might said. “We have a plan, then.”

 

 

His home turned into a laboratory, pretty much.

 

There were old, broken appliances everywhere. From washing machines to old phones. Opened and dismantled, as Izuku studied them in and out. Inko has sort of given up to the controlled chaos.

 

“Where are you two even getting all this stuff from?” She asked a little worried as he and All Might transported in a mini fridge.

 

“Oh, you know that beach that no one goes to anymore because of all the garbage?” Izuku replied.

 

“Ugh— Fine, just make sure you don’t bring bugs or rats in, please.” She sighed. “And I want this stuff out as soon as you’re done with your exam!” She added, severe.

 

All Might seemed kind of embarrassed as he apologized.

 

Izuku had never imagined he’d end up having to learn the intricacies of technologies, one day, but it certainly gave him a new perspective.

 

“There’s so much I’ve always taken for granted.” He said one day, as he rummaged inside one of those super old, bulky tvs. “I’ve never thought about how complicated all these every-day objects we use really are.”

 

“Mmmh.” All Might hummed. “That is true. But it’s a good realization. Makes you appreciate even more what you have, doesn’t it?”

 

Izuku grinned, his cheek smudged with oil, but then the smile slid off his face.

 

“All Might?”

 

“Yes?”

 

“Do you—“ A gulp. “Do you really think this will work?”

 

Toshinori let a couple of seconds pass, weighing his words on his tongue.

 

“I know for a fact that the robots are designed to have weak points. To present young boys and girls like you with state of the art technology would be an unfair and borderline cruel challenge. So, yes, I believe that if you refine your ability, you will be able to see those weak points, and exploit them.” He says.

 

Young Midoriya hums, wrinkling his nose in distaste.

 

“Is something the matter?” Toshinori asks, surprised by the expression.

 

“It’s just… You’re not giving me an unfair advantage over the others by telling me this, right?”

 

The question comes as a surprise, and at the same time, not a surprise at all.

 

“You are honest to a fault, my boy.” Toshinori chuckles. “Do not worry about that. The exam has been the same for years. All your peers will be able to look into it and prepare accordingly, if they so desire.”

 

Young Midoriya is watching him so intently that Toshinori just knows he’s probing his 'light', making sure he’s not lying, as he once mentioned in passing that he would notice if someone was lying to him.

 

“Don’t do that.” He reprimands him, good-naturedly. “It’s kind of rude, my boy.”

 

The young Midoriya he first met would probably have stammered an apology, blushing to the roots of his hair. This one, instead, flashes his tongue to him, playfully.

 

How fast they grow.

 

 

Izuku’s eyes snap open five minutes before the alarm he set the day before.

 

It’s the big day.

 

In a bit of daze, he shuffles out of bed.

 

His clothes for the day are ready. His phone is charged. Mom is already tinkering downstairs, trying to stifle her nervousness as she makes breakfast.

 

After brushing his teeth, Izuku splashes ice cold water on his face. He expected to wake up a nervous mess, but in truth, he feels calm.

 

“I won’t be able to see you tomorrow, as I have to assist to the exams myself.” All Might said the day prior, before leaving. “So, I’m going to give you my pep-talk now.”

 

A thin hand on his shoulder, long. boney fingers squeezing gently.

 

Win.”

 

“I will.” Izuku whispers, closing his hands into fists. “I won’t let you down.”

 

 

He makes his way into the packed conference room with only a couple of minutes to spare.

 

For all his sureness, he ended up getting a bad case of jelly knees just as they approached UA’s gates. Mom, Miki and Ichiko-san hugged him tight for what felt like forever.

 

“We are channelling our strength into you!” Ichiko-san said, half-joking.

 

That was enough to make him feel immensely better.

 

He turned one last time from the door, flashing a victory sign toward the now far familiar lights, and then stepped in, taking a deep breath.

 

The problem now was that the room was so packed Izuku couldn’t make out a single free space where he could sit. Surely there must be some free seat still, but in the chaos of lights it was incredibly hard to distinguish.

 

“Psst, hey, you, with the curly hair!” A female voice, and then a hand tugging at his sleeve. “Over here, there’s a seat!”

 

“O-oh, thank you!” He stammers, as he slides down into the seat by her side. The girl must’ve recognised his confusion.

 

“Pretty packed, huh?” She says. Her voice is gentle, if a bit nervous. “I mean, I guess that’s to be expected by UA’s hero course exams. I’m Uraraka Ochako, by the way!”

 

“M-Midoriya Izuku.” He replies, and Uraraka takes his hand with only four fingers in the cramped space between them, shaking it.

 

“Nice to meet you!” She says, and Izuku can imagine the brilliant smile on her face.

 

 

When they got divided into groups, Izuku is relieved to see he’s not in the same one as Kacchan.

 

No one at his middle school had any idea he was here. As selfish as it was, this was his secret, that he wanted to keep until the very last second possible, a treasure close to his heart.

 

That, and he didn’t want to humiliate himself further in the -very possible- case he didn’t make it through the exam.

 

Uraraka is in his group, instead, which makes Izuku feel better. They are rival right now, yes, but knowing that at least one friendly presence was near him made him feel a little more brave.

 

He wants to approach her, and wish her good luck, when a big hand on his shoulder stops him in his tracks.

 

“What do you think you are doing?” A severe voice. Izuku recognises it, it’s the same boy that has asked questions during the exam briefing, his voice strong and sure, just as his light is. “She is obviously concentrating, are you trying to obstruct your peers?”

 

“N-No, I just—“

 

“Whatever you want to do, don’t.” The boy replied, and Izuku shut his mouth.

 

 

Izuku's hands hurt.

 

He managed to take down a couple of robots by going for their weak spots, and with immense effort.

 

Actually, his entire body hurt, clothes sticking to him thanks to how much he was sweating.

 

All Might’s plan did work, but…

 

It was a laughable result, if confronted with how well everyone else around him was doing.

 

What was all that work for?! He asks himself, furious, as he desperately runs, and as more and more robots are taken down by the others, making his chances to score enough points slimmer and slimmer.

 

His eyes sting, and he angrily wipes the tears away. He can’t just give up now, not like this

 

Izuku is shaken out of his stormy thoughts when the earth trembles. He turns, just in time to see something gigantic, he can’t make out how tall the thing is, as the lights of living things dims out going upwards to the sky.

 

“It’s that zero points thing.” He hears someone comment nearby. “Better run!”

 

Lights shoots by him as the other exam goers put distance between them and the giant, but useless, robot.

 

Every light, but one.

 

“Uraraka?!” He calls out, confused.

 

Uraraka’s light is clearly distressed. There’s something blocking her, preventing her from running away. A boulder? Pieces of rubble?

 

“Midoriya?” She asks, her voice tight. “What are you doing? Run!”

 

That thing could easily squash her with a single step.

 

To hell with the exam, Izuku thinks, as his feet already started moving on their own.

 

 

Ochako could only watch, her eyes wide, as Midoriya charges towards her instead of running away like everyone else did.

 

What a strange boy he is, just barely taller than her, scrawny in his too big gym clothes, with that mop of curly, messy hair covering half his face. He doesn’t look particularly strong, and for what little Ochako had seen of him during the exam, he doesn’t seems to have any particularly flashy quirk either.

 

And he’s charging full speed towards the giant robot about one thousand times his size.

 

She wants to scream at him to get away, it’s too dangerous, but another wave of nausea hit her.

 

She overdid it, and now she can’t even get herself free from the rubble that’s blocking her ankle.

 

Midoriya shoots past before she can even say anything, grabbing a piece of broken pipe from the floor and then starts to climb with a rather remarkable agility up the robot’s leg.

 

The robot is still still walking forward, apparently not reacting to the little boy that’s now near one of it’s junctures.

 

Midoriya is hanging by one of the thick cables with one hand, his feet firmly placed against the steel, and he’s trying to sink the piece of pipe in a very precise spot with all his strength.

 

Ochako has no idea what he’s doing, Midoriya must be desperate and out of his mind, there’s no why he’d act like this if he was lucid and realize that he was trying to fight with a robot the size of a skyscraper that would merit him a whole lot of zero points.

 

That is until the robot makes a creaky noise, it’s step falters when the leg Midoriya is hitting refuses to work properly, and the thing starts to lose balance, falling on a side.

 

The robot is so heavy that Midoriya is dislodged and launched up in the air by the recoil of the fall.

 

That’s when Ochako realizes.

 

He was saving her.

 

 

Izuku is falling, he’s going to splat down on the asphalt like a mature tomato, bye bye UA, bye bye Mom, bye bye All Might—

 

A light embraces him, and his free fall is suddenly slowed down to a gentle glide, as if Izuku suddenly turned into a feather.

 

Uraraka Ochako doesn’t let him go until they are both firmly on the ground, alive, and definitely not splattered.

 

“W… Why did you do that…?” She asks, strained.

 

Izuku slowly stands, his knees weak. The giant robot is not moving anymore, Uraraka is ok—

 

Urararaka is ok.

 

“You were in trouble.” He replies with a relieved sigh. “Someone had to do something.”

 

“Your hand—“ She gasps, and Izuku can feel the warmth of blood on his palm. Old sores opened and started to bleed when he held so tight to that pipe, hitting and hitting again, regardless of the pain.

 

“ ’S nothing—“ He says, and then a horn sounds in the distance, Present Mic’s voice announcing the end of the exam.

 

Oh.

 

“Ahah—“ He laughs, nervous, not a sign of mirth in it. His nose stings. “I— I guess t-this is it for me, then—“

 

Uraraka has stood up as well. She places a gentle hand on his arm, her light speaking of sadness for him—

 

Then she pukes all over him.

 

 

Principal Nedzu pats Toshinori on the knee a couple of times.

 

“I see what you meant, about that boy.” He says. “He’s certainly a very interesting one.”

 

 

When he enters into the Midoriya’s household, the boy is sitting on the couch in the living room with a blank, lost expression.

 

“He’s been like this since we came back from the exam the other day.” Inko sighs in a low voice after welcoming him in.

 

“Mmh. I’m sorry for having kept him waiting.” He replies, scratching the back of his head. “I had a lot of things to take care of. The official results will not be announced for a few days yet, but I figured he’d be down after the exam. Even if it’s a bit of cheating, I’d rather just tell him now and take the weight off his shoulders.”

 

Inko smiles at him, patting gently his shoulder before disappearing in the kitchen, giving him and the boy some privacy.

 

“Young Midoriya.”

 

The boy jumps, turning around with a surprised expression, before turning away from him in haste.

 

“O-oh, hello.” He says, voice low.

 

Toshinori sits down, by his side, observing. Midoriya is hanging his head low, hands between his knees nervously tightening into fists over and over again.

 

“So.” He starts, casually. “How do you think you did?”

 

“I’m sorry I disappointed you.” Midoriya whispers back.

 

Toshinori takes a deep breath. So much work to build up up the boy’s confidence, and yet it takes so little to tear it down.

 

“I’m not disappointed in the slightest, my boy.” Toshinori says. “You did excellently, exactly as I thought you would.”

 

“Don’t—“ Midoriya gulps, his throat moving. “Don’t make fun of me— Please—“

 

“I’m not. Do you think I really would do that?”

 

Slowly, the boys turns his face up to him.

 

“It is true that your score was very low, the lowest among your group.” Toshinori says, ignoring the flinch that followed those words. “But that was not all there was to the exam, and you did exactly what I expected you to do.”

 

The boy blinks, confused, and Toshinori cannot help the temptation to ruffle his hair.

 

“You showed them all what a hero really is.”

 

 

“The young Urararaka came to us, you know? She realized you’ve ignored your own exam in order to help her, and asked us to share her points with you.”

 

“She… She did?”

 

“Seems like you’ve already got a new friend, my boy.” Toshinori adds in a gentle voice, before continuing. “But, in the end, there wasn’t the need to do that. The fighting score wasn’t all that there was to it, and by showing your willingness to act for the good of others, even to the detriment of yourself, you ended up receiving the highest score in the rescue points, making it into the rankings.”

 

“Wait—“ Izuku is breathless, his heart beating right in his throat, this cannot be real. “You mean—“

 

“Congratulations, young Midoriya. You are now a student of UA’s hero course.”

 

 

The very last few days of middle school trickled by, Izuku lived them in a dream-like state.

 

He was going to UA. He was going to UA. He was going to UA.

 

the official results would come out any day now. Kacchan didn’t know yet, and had no doubt himself passed with flying colors, as he liked to brag loudly and with gusto.

 

Izuku had no doubt about that, too. What Kacchan lacked in compassion, he made up with sheer power. No doubt the highest fighting score would belong to him.

 

He had no idea how Kacchan would react to seeing Izuku’s name in the rankings. Hopefully, the first impact of his explosive rage would come when he was home, far, far away from Izuku.

 

“Silence, please.” Their homeroom teacher called. “We are starting to receive the first results of your exams…”

 

He called out some names, congratulating various student for successfully getting in their high school of choice.

 

“And then, Bakugou and—“ A beat of silence. “…Midoriya?”

 

Izuku could feel the silence that fell in the classroom in his mouth, thick as tofu.

 

The teacher let out a little embarrassed cough after his own hesitation.

 

“Congratulations, I hope your future in UA’s hero course will be bright.”

 

 

The chaos that exploded -literally- required five minutes of their teacher yelling at them to calm down, before it could be contained.

 

Some of his classmates shot up from their seats as Kacchan’s desk exploded into two neat pieces as soon as the teacher finished his sentence.

 

“Midoriya?” “No way!” “What?!”

 

Soon, Izuku was surrounded.

 

“Midoriya?! When did that happen?!”

 

“I— Uhm—“ Izuku stammered.

 

“Dude, congratulations!” Someone else exclaimed, their voice sincere.

 

Before he could try to say anything else, hands were on him, friendly patting his shoulders, voices congratulating him from all sides.

 

He expected Kacchan to be on his throat at any second, now, but he never came.

 

 

“IzukuuuuUUUUUUUUUUU!!!

 

Miki’s voice came from far away, growing louder in a few seconds, and she crashed into him, grabbing him with her arms under his armpit and lifting him up, twisting him around.

 

“You made IT!!!” She yelled, laughing madly.

 

Izuku couldn’t stop laughing, although he felt a bit guilty. All Might made him promise not to tell anyone until the official results were out. It had been so hard not to yell with Miki about it for all those days.

 

Still, she apparently already knew despite the fact that their teachers shared the news with them just a couple of hours before.

 

“How do you know?” He asked, laughing.

 

“Everyone is chain-texting like mad, dude!” She replied, finally putting him back down on the floor, but not letting him go. “Everyone is so excited for you, it’s incredible. Oh, Izuku, I’m so happy!” She closed her gloved hand in a fist, rubbing her knuckles on his head madly.

 

“Miki n-no!” He tried to protest between laughs, trying and failing to free himself up from the Miki-clamp-hug-of-death.

 

Everyone is so excited for you. She said.

 

Well, that was a new feeling for sure.

 

 

For a while Ichiko’s gym has turned into party central.

 

They simply couldn’t stop, every time they got together, at the end of a training session, they just had to celebrate Izuku’s successful exam. The boy would react with embarrassed delight every single time, laughing and smiling and dancing with Miki.

 

“I will end putting up weight-“ Inko whined, with a smile, as she brought some more cooked goodies.

 

“Well, means you’ll still have to visit me when Izuku will start with high school, right?” Ichiko replied, making her laugh.

 

“I don’t need an excuse for that, Ichiko-san.”

 

 

Izuku was living his life on a cloud. Whenever he went in school, he’d get stopped by people congratulating him, wishing him success, patting his shoulders. It was such an alien feeling, but he couldn’t deny to himself that it wasn’t an unwelcome one.

 

And every time he, Mom, Miki and Ichiko-san were in the same room they ended up celebrating in a way or another.

 

Middle school would end the next day, and then the break before the start of high school -of UA- would come. Ichiko-san and All Might already studied his training regime for it, and Izuku, eager to get better and better and better, couldn’t wait for it.

 

He was humming a tune to himself, walking through that same underpass that completely changed his life some months prior, when a familiar light in front of him stopped him dead in his tracks.

 

“I know you can see me.” Kacchan says. “You lying shit.”

 

 

The distance between them rapidly closed as Kacchan walked right up to his face.

 

“Was it funny?” He growls.

 

“Kacchan—“

 

“Was it nice to laugh behind everyone’s back as you lied to their faces?”

 

“Kacchan, I—“

 

“Well, guess what, dipshit, you didn’t fool me.”

 

“I don’t—“

 

SHUT UP!”

 

Izuku’s back hits the wall painfully after Kacchan grabbed him by the collar, pushing him forcefully.

 

“For how long did you think you could keep up this recital, huh?” Kacchan hisses in his face. “What was even all of this? This long-con? Have you thought that by acting like a useless piece of shit it’d make it easier for you to get into UA? Well, I guess it worked, so, for once, you were right.”

 

Finally the piece clicks into place in Izuku’s mind.

 

“You…” He whispers. “You think I’m not blind.”

 

“Like, no fucking shit.” Kacchan spits out. “Do you think I didn’t notice? You were dead on in hitting that stupid mud-guy months ago, and you don’t even pretend to go around with that dumb cane anymore, and now you miraculously made it into UA? Who did you think you could fool?”

 

Kacchan’s hands are still tight on his collar. Izuku’s fingers circles around Kacchan’s wrist.

 

“Do you really think I would lie about something like that?” He asks, voice low.

 

“I think you are a cowardly, lying sack of shit, so yes. I do.” Kacchan replied without missing a beat.

 

Izuku hates himself for it, for how easy tears come up to him. They roll down his cheeks freely, as he uses his other hand to drag the hair away from his eyes.

 

He feels Kacchan flinch.

 

“Look at me—“ He hiccups. “Look at my eyes and tell me, do you think I would lie?”

 

But he doesn’t give Kacchan the time to answer. “Do you think I wouldn’t sell my soul for just a minute of being able to see my mother’s face again? To see how the sky looks like, how my friends smile at me? Do you think I wouldn’t, that I never— Do you think I wouldn’t want to be able to look at you, to actually look at you, right now, and look into your eyes and try to see what words cannot tell me—“

 

Izuku coughs, sobs shaking him. Kacchan’s hands are less tight on his collar.

 

“Do you think I don’t wish with all my strength to be able to look at you and try understand why do you hate me so much—“ He finishes, in a broken voice, his fingers trembling around Kacchan’s wrist.

 

Kacchan let him go as if he’d got burned. Izuku slides on his knees on the asphalt, coughing, tears rolling down his cheeks.

 

The silence stretches long, infinitely so, even if it was just a handful of seconds in reality. Then Kacchan turns, and runs away.

 

 

When he enters home, he can hear mom and All Might laughing about something in the living room.

 

“Oh Izuku, there you are, there’s someone— Izuku?” His mom starts cheerfully as she comes to the door, before her voice turns worried.

 

Izuku knows he must look a mess. He hasn’t been able to stop crying as he made his way back, tears still rolling down the wet little tracks they formed on his cheeks.

 

Before she could add anything he walks past her, his shoes messily left behind him, making it in his room and closing the door with the key before sliding down with his back against it, collecting his knees against his chest, sobs shaking him.

 

 

“Oh, no, excuse me a minute—“ Inko stammers, before following her son upstairs.

 

“…Is he usually like this?” Aizawa asks, perplexed.

 

Toshinori frowns, a finger on his chin. “Well, young Midoriya can get a bit emotional at times, but I’ve never saw him quite this distressed before. Something serious must’ve happened.” He says, worried.

 

“Looks like I choose the wrong day to meet this wonder boy of yours.” Aizawa replies, unreadable as always.

 

Toshinori hums, as they wait downstairs, Inko’s voice muffled in the distance. She comes down a few minutes later, pale and frowning, a hand on her mouth.

 

“I’m very sorry, Mister Aizawa—“ She says. “He’s refusing to open the door— I have no idea what has gotten into him—“

 

“Can I…?” Toshnori asks, pointing upstairs, and Inko sidesteps, wordlessly.

 

 

A knock on the door, and then All Might’s voice.

 

“Young Midoriya?”

 

If there’s one person he absolutely does not want to see him in this state, that’s All Might, for sure.

 

“Do you want to open the door?” He asks, infinitely gentle.

 

Izuku cannot stop crying. It’s as if a dam has broken into his eyes -but then, they’ve always been broken, and they always will- and the tears keep coming, no matter how much he has already tried to will them away.

 

“N-no—“ He manages to say after a beat of silence.

 

“…Do you want to talk about what is troubling you?”

 

What is troubling him is this black hole that has opened in his chest, sucking everything in— Or maybe spitting everything out, Izuku is not sure

 

“No.” He says, instead.

 

He can hear All Might sigh from the other side of the door.

 

“My boy, we are all very worried. If you do not feel like talking to us, I hope you will at least take in consideration the idea of talking to someone else.” All Might says. “I know that at your age sometimes you just do not feel like talking to an adult. But I can think of at least one person that will be sure to listen to you, without any of our adult baggage.”

 

Izuku listens as All Might stands up -He must’ve knelt down a bit- and goes downstairs. He sniffs a bit, angrily wiping the tears away from his cheek -useless. They immediately get replaced- and with trembling fingers he takes his phone out of his pocket.

 

“Miki?” He sobs, after she picks up at the third ring. “I— Do you have a minute? O-or twenty, probably—“

 

 

The morning after, Inko opens the door to a Miki in full casual clothing.

 

“Good morning, Miss Midoriya.” She says, smiling brightly. “Me and Izuku are skipping the last day of school. Sorry about that, but it’s important.”

 

 

Miki drags him into a part of town he has never really frequented at all, replying in a sing-song voice that it’s a surprise when Izuku asks where they are going.

 

“Here we are.” She says, her gloved hand still on his wrist as she opens a door. Izuku hear the tingling of chimes, and his nose is immediately attacked by the smell of some sort of chemical, making him sneeze.

 

“Sorry, you’ll get used to that— Shiori!” She says, finally letting his hand go to hug whoever approached him. “Izuku, this is Shiori, Shiori, my friend Izuku.”

 

Shiori takes his hand and shakes it. “I can see what you mean, Miki.” She says. “Potential, under the disaster.”

 

That finally gets a word out of him. “Excuse me?”

 

Miki laughs “Shiori is my hairdresser. She’s like, magic. Everyone is super envy of my dye job all the time, and I don’t share her easily, so you better be damn grateful I brought you here, Midoriya.”

 

Izuku blinks. “…You dye your hair?”

 

The two girls laugh as he gets guided and pushed on a seat.

 

“Yes, I do, and you’d know have you ever bothered to ask. Now sit and let Shiori work her magic.”

 

“You never asked her how she looks?” Shiori asked curiously, her finger carding through Izuku’s hair as if she’s studying it.

 

“I—“ He gulps. “I lost my sight when I was four, so my memories of what it actually means to see are very fuzzy. Most of the time asking that would be pointless, I have a hard time visualising descriptions, anyway.” He says, vaguely monotone.

 

“Mmh.” Shiori hums, distracted. “Ok, I know what to do with you, little disaster.”

 

“I don’t want my hair dyed.” Izuku replies. The mere idea of having to smell that chemical all the time makes his head spin.

 

“None of that, don’t worry. We’re just gonna go with a bit of restyling— Stay there, I gotta take some stuff in the back.”

 

Izuku turns toward Miki, sitting at his left, with a whine.

 

“You promised me, Midoriya.” She interrupted him before he could even start.

 

Izuku sighs.

 

 

Shiori works on him for a while, chatting with Miki of anything that comes to mind. Izuku relaxes, might as well do that since he has no choice but to be subjected to this.

 

It feels like ages before she’s finally done, putting the reclining chair back into an upright position and drying his hair, her fingers working methodically and clearly experienced.

 

“And voilà!” Shiori says, taking the sheet covering his shoulders away. “What do you think?”

 

He knows that both girls are staring at him as they hum.

 

“I knew it.” Miki hisses

 

“You have a natural cuteness to you, Midoriya, that mop of hair covering your face all the time wasn’t doing you any favour.” Shiori explains “I didn’t even need to do that much, really. I shortened it a bit, freeing your face. You have kind of round features so they go well with you natural curls. As long as you keep them at this length and take care of them properly, you will do just fine. I can suggest to you some shampoo and hair conditioner brands to keep your hair soft and easier to manage.”

 

Izuku is kind of overwhelmed by the information, palming at his now shorter hair.

 

It feels weird. He's so used to have that constant weight, to feel the brush of his hair on the point of his nose, keeping his eyes hidden from everyone else.

 

“Izuku.” Miki says, when he doesn’t reply. “Do you know why I forced you to come here, today?”

 

Izuku shakes his head.

 

“This is the new you.” Miki declares, jumping down from her seat to stand in front of him. He can imagine her, standing proudly, hands on her hips. “This is the new you that is going to UA, and is going to become a hero, and is not going to get his entire soul crushed by the shitty words of someone that has never believed in him in the first place.”

 

Izuku realizes his mouth is hanging open. He closes it.

 

“This is the new you that has nothing to hide, that will face life openly and with a smile and proudly. From the moment you step outside this hair salon, you leave behind all the pain, and the fears, and the regrets, shed them just like the hair that covered your wonderful eyes.”

 

Miki’s gloved hands claps on his cheeks with a soft slap.

 

“You don’t have to hide anymore.” She says, her voice lower, serious. “So please, keep your head high, and never, ever think of hiding who you are ever again.”

 

 

They spent the rest of the day aimlessly walking around the city.

 

They ate ice cream for lunch and burgers for snacks. They went to a park and played on the equipment like kids, laughing. They drank one of those ridiculously expensive coffees, sitting outside and looking at the people going by, in their completely different ways.

 

“There are two girls sitting at a table to your right that are totally checking you out.” Miki leaned in and whispered at some point.

 

“No way—“ He tried to reply, before getting shushed.

 

“Nu-huh- New you. Turn around and smile, now.”

 

Izuku obeyed, his cheeks burning, knowing his smile was weak, and yet he heard happy giggles follow.

 

“See?” Miki said, smug, obnoxiously sipping the last of her coffee with her straw when he turned around to face her, shocked. “Told ya.”

 

 

When he came home, mom dropped the steel top of one of her pots on the floor.

 

“Um. Hello.” He says, smiling.

 

Mom walks closer, her gentle hand on his cheek.

 

She doesn’t say anything, caressing him sweetly before taking her hand away.

 

“Welcome home, dear.”

 

There’s so much crammed in that single sentence. But Izuku knows that one sentence, this time, is enough

 

Chapter Text

Izuku walks down the corridor, directed toward his new class, for the first time. The need to hang his head low, nervously, is almost overwhelming, but he resists.

 

He walks by class 1-B on his way, tentatively feeling the lights out, but Kacchan’s light is not there.

 

His usual luck. Letting out a little sigh, he stops in front of the door to his class. His hand lingers on the handle.

 

New you, he can hear Miki’s voice in his mind, Do better, says All Might.

 

Izuku opens the door.

 

 

As soon as he does, two familiar voices, that were previously bickering, fall silent.

 

“Midoriya, right?” One of them says, approaching him. It’s the severe boy from the exam. “I must apologise for my harsh words during the exam. You’ve clearly shown a deeper understanding of it than me. I’m Iida Tenya, it is a pleasure to share class with you.”

 

“Oh, it’s no problem—“ He replies, scratching the back of his head.

 

“Midoriya!” Another familiar voice, and he cannot contain his smile. Uraraka. “We are in the same class! I’m so happy!”

 

“Oy, four-eyes.” Kacchan’s harsh voice interjects. “Stop standing there with that stupid hand out. He’s not gonna shake it. He’s blind.”

 

There’s something in Kacchan’s voice that Izuku cannot quite pinpoint, his light completely unreadable. He expected sneer from him, but there’s none of that. He’s actually… Serious.

 

And as Iida apologises to him, formal to a fault, Izuku cannot help but smile a bit sadly to himself.

 

As usual, no one manages to make him yearn for sight as much as Katsuki Bakugou does. What would Izuku give, just to be able to meet Kacchan’s eyes, and understand what he’s thinking.

 

 

Ochako’s hand flew to her mouth.

 

When she first met Midoriya at the exam, she distantly wondered about the hair covering his face, but she had so many things to worry about that it seemed a minuscule, unimportant detail in the grand scheme of things. His hair was much shorter now, still messy and curly, but she could finally see the freckles dusting his round cheeks and his pale green eyes.

 

It was obvious, now that Bakugou said it. Midoriya’s pupils were milky white, clearly not reacting to the frantic movements of Iida in front of him.

 

How did he—?

 

Ochako mentally smacked herself. What right did she had, to doubt Midoriya? People wouldn’t believe that cute, soft, little Ochako could make it into UA, and yet she did.

 

So did Midoriya.

 

She resumed her walk toward him, with even more strength in her stride.

 

“Iida, I think that is quite enough.” She says gently, putting an hand on his shoulder, stopping his hands mid-way. “Midoriya.”

 

He turns to her “Uraraka. I’m glad we are in the same class, too.” He says, little lines appearing around his eyes when he smiles.

 

“I—“ She hesitates, and she notices the lines of Midoriya’s shoulders tense a bit. “Oh, this is embarrassing, I’m so sorry I was sick all over you at the exams!” She blurts out.

 

Midoriya clearly relaxes. “Don’t worry about it. Downside of your quirk?”

 

“Yeeeaaah—“ She moans, tilting her head on a side.

 

“I… They told me about what you did.” Midoriya adds, his voice lowering. “About the points. I wanted to thank you. And— Iida?”

 

Iida, that so far had been tense and silent at their side, snaps like a soldier, shoulders squared. “Yes!”

 

“It’s a pleasure to share class with you, too.” Midoriya says gently, holding his hand out. Iida takes it in a firm grip and shakes, smiling.

 

 

They don’t get much time to familiarise with one another, as the door opens behind them to reveal a man that could probably use about one thousand years of good sleep, a long sort-of-scarf covering the lower half of his face, clad in a dark coat.

 

“Get to your seats, y’all, this isn’t a picnic.” He says, his voice monotone. Izuku rapidly counts the desks, making a beeline for his.

 

He’s sitting right behind Kacchan. How lucky.

 

“I’m Aizawa Shouta.” The man yawns, sounding bored. “I’m your homeroom teacher. Now go change, we are going out to have a test.”

 

… Huh.

 

 

Aizawa drags a hand on his face, tired.

 

Goddamn Toshinori and his stupid hopeful smile.

 

The man approached him that morning, in his All Might form, putting a heavy hand on his shoulder.

 

“A word, my friend, if you please!” He boomed, making him groan.

 

“It’s too early for this, just say what you want to say.” He replied, voice still raw with sleep.

 

“I saw that young Midoriya has been assigned to your class—“

 

“Yes, your golden boy. Go on.”

 

“And I cannot help but worry. I do not mean to challenge your teaching methods, clearly, but I’m aware of your first day tests. For all his talents and training, for the time being Midoriya is just a normal teenage boy, physically. He will not show particularly brilliant results.”

 

“…Are you asking me to give him a special treatment?”

 

“I would never.” Aizawa finally turns, facing the blinding smile. “I’m only asking you to give him a chance to prove himself.”

 

He could not resist that smile.

 

He wanted a chance for the boy? Fine. He was going to get one.

 

Golden kid better work his ass off, and prove he deserved that chance.

 

 

As the tests went on, the threat of expulsion weighted more and more on Izuku’s shoulders, making him spiral into a silent panic.

 

All his classmates could count on their quirks to give them an edge, one way or the other. But Izuku was only stuck with his normal body, and for how fast he tried to run, for how high he tried to jump, he was still at the bottom of the chart.

 

Aizawa-Sensei finished scribbling something down, before addressing them in his monotone voice.

 

“Alright, one last test. Follow me.”

 

They dutifully followed. Izuku was hugging himself, head hanging low. He could feel Uraraka’s light approaching him, feeling that she wanted to put an hand on his shoulder and comfort him, but he didn’t want comfort. He didn’t want pity.

 

He was done with pity.

 

He walked a bit faster.

 

“Strength and speed are not all.” Aizawa-sensei explained once he stopped them in front of another training ground. Izuku examined it, focusing his senses. It was not much different from the fake city they took the entrance exam in, but it was more packed, the place full of tight openings and all sorts of nooks and crannies.

 

“Your ability to examine the ground you’re working in and your senses are just as important. For this test, we will spend the next half-hour in here. I will be hiding, and your role will be to find me. The first person that finds me gets a point, all you need is to touch me. When that happen, you’ll give me ten seconds of vantage to find a different spot to hide. I will keep hiding in different places for the full time.”

 

A little pause, as if sensei is making sure everyone is listening.

 

“Some of you might not ever see me during that time. Some of you might manage to hoard all the points for themselves. But, more probably, at the end of the thirty minutes, you will all be at zero.”

 

A collective gulp passed through the group, but Izuku is not believing is ears, a blossom of hope back in his chest.

 

This is it. This is made for him. This is perfect.

 

“I will take ten minutes to hide. Wait at the entrance, when you hear the horn, the time starts.”

 

 

Izuku has to refrain himself from sprinting like a thunderbolt when the horn blares over them.

 

He knows already where Aizawa-sensei is, of course. But in order to don’t raise too much suspicion between his classmates, he waits for them to sprint ahead, before making his way toward their teacher.

 

If everything goes according to plan, they will soon catch up to what is going on and will probably start to try follow him.

 

Izuku has to hoard as many points as possible before that happens.

 

 

Katsuki has been searching, grunting, irritated by this stupid test, when the horn blew again, and a robotic voice announced “Midoriya Izuku: one point.

 

His head snaps up at the clock, showing that a mere two minutes have gone by.

 

What the fuck?!

 

 

He has to admit it, the boy is giving him a run for his money.

 

Aizawa’s specialty has always been stealth. Being able to hide, to move unseen, is what he does. This is a test he usually reserves for older, more experienced classes.

 

But the boy, he’s keeping up. Oh, is he keeping up.

 

Aizawa slides under a pipe, silent as a cat. His ears are strained, waiting for Midoriya to betray his position.

 

At five points, Todoroki Shouto has started to follow Midoriya, giving the boy another obstacle to surpass, forcing him to don’t just make a beeline for Aizawa, but to also hide and move unseen himself. At seven points, Yaoyorozu Momo imitated Todoroki, at eight, Tokoyami Fumikage had the same idea as well.

 

The boy is not half-bad, Aizawa has to admit. He managed to shake them off his tail more than once, thanks to his quick thinking and his ability to move in dark spaces were others would be completely lost, while simultaneously trying his damn best to creep closer to Aizawa as silent as possible.

 

At nine points, Aizawa activated his quirk against Midoriya.

 

The boy scrambled, panicked, at first, hitting directly with his face a brick wall in his way. Then he jumped out of Aizawa’s line of sight. And he started to make a damn good job of keeping it so, popping out from the most unexpected places to claim his points.

 

His thirteenth points, Aizawa didn’t had the chance to even try to lay his eyes on Midoriya, before a small hand slapped his back, and the robotic voice announced “Midoriya Izuku: Thirteen points.”

 

Oh, this was fun.

 

 

This might’ve been the most brutal game of hide and seek Izuku had ever taken part in.

 

Everyone caught up. Literally his entire class was trying to follow him, obstruct him, steal those points from him.

 

Even Kacchan.

 

“I’m sorry, Uraraka.” He whispered, breathless, as the girl was hopefully tailing him from a bit far, her light’s movements suggesting she was trying to stay hidden from him.

 

There was a pipe on his right, between some small ones. Large enough for him to pass through. He jumped in the dark space offered by the buildings surrounding them and slid in, silent. Bidding his time.

 

Uraraka stopped right in front of him, looking around herself madly and then making a noise of frustration.

 

“Where did he gooooo?!”

 

Her frustration felt less brash than Kacchan’s, more directed to herself rather than Izuku. It made Izuku feel bad.

 

But he couldn’t afford the luxury of worrying about others, for now. This was his one chance to don’t get kicked out of UA on the first day.

 

Aizawa-Sensei was on the move, and fast, climbing somewhere. Izuku slid outside the pipe on the other side, studying his chances.

 

Sensei stopped, and was currently perched between two buildings, the space just enough for one person to fit in. So far he had preferred the ground for the most part, where the shadows were darker and being unseen was easier. To perch so high, it was a bold move, considering how many of his classmates had high maneuverability and would probably spot him from the sky.

 

Then Izuku realized.

 

It was a challenge.

 

Aizawa-sensei was trying to force Izuku to take a route that would put him in a easy spottable place. His classmates had fully given up the idea of finding Aizawa themselves, and were instead concentrating their efforts on Izuku.

 

If Izuku tried to climb after him from the ground, sensei would surely use his quirk on him. But if he approached from above, he was sure to be seen, especially from Todoroki, which had been following him like an eagle for a while, now.

 

Izuku took a deep breath, wiping the fat droplets of sweat rolling from his forehead with a wrist.

 

He focused, harder, taking every single detail of what was around Aizawa-sensei, even if his head felt like splitting in half— And then he saw his way.

 

Bingo.

 

 

The clock was ticking, and Aizawa wondered if the boy had given up, or was just too exhausted to take that one last point.

 

Not that it would matter much. Midoriya had definitely proven himself, but still, he could not imagine such a driven boy ever giving up, not fighting until the last second possible.

 

As he muses, the last minute approaches.

 

Sixty seconds remaining.”

 

And then everything happened very fast.

 

 

Ochako had been running in circles, frustrated.

 

She managed to catch that single glimpse of Midoriya before he disappeared apparently out of thin air, and she hadn’t caught a single glimpse of Aizawa-sensei, not even the tip of his scarf.

 

Todoroki was chasing through the sky with his ice bridges, as he had been most of the time. His movements in more than one occasion suggested he almost managed to catch Midoriya, but he would usually come back up after a bit, obviously frustrated.

 

Everyone was out for blood, at that point, desperate for even a single point to try stand over the others. But Midoriya wasn’t going to give a single inch if he could help it, clearly.

 

Suddenly, she sees Todoroki plunge down, rising his arm ready to attack, before the ice bridge stopped forming under his feet and the ice around his right arm never quite made it out. He fell on the rooftop of the building right under him.

 

Midoriya Izuku: fourteen points.” The voice announced, and then— “Time’s up!

 

 

 

“I see.” Aizawa was muttering to himself.

 

The boy cooked up quite the bold plan. He led Todoroki on a wild goose chase towards Aizawa, and had used him as a distraction, while simultaneously luring Aizawa in a trap.

 

Aizawa looked up at the noise, ready to throw Midoriya in for a loop with his quirk, and instead found himself staring at Todoroki, interrupting the attack he was about to unleash and sending him tumbling down as the ice bridge stopped forming under his feet.

 

Midoriya came an instant later, a meteor from the sky, one of his arms frozen over, sweaty and desperate, slapping just barely Aizawa’s arm on his way down.

 

Midoriya Izuku: fourteen points.”

 

Kid was lucky Aizawa didn’t had any intention to explain to Toshinori why his golden boy ended up flattening his face on concrete. His scarf tightened around Midoriya’s wrist after the slap, stopping his fall, and he lowered both himself and the boy back on the ground, gently.

 

Once there, Midoriya hadn’t moved, panting heavily, arms and legs stretched out in a semi-frozen, sweaty imitation of a sea-star.

 

“Am I—“ He panted. “Am I expelled?”

 

Aizawa gave him grin. “You’re a lucky one, Midoriya Izuku.”

 

 

They regrouped at the entrance, animatedly discussing.

 

“That was super insane!” The boy that has introduced himself as Kirishima that morning said, excitedly pumping his fists in front of him. “Sucks I didn’t see any of it, it must’ve been quite the show! I’m so curious to know how Midoriya did it!”

 

Ochako couldn’t do anything but agree with the sentiment. Listening to Midoriya rack up point after point after point had been both exhilarating and frustrating.

 

Not everyone shared the enthusiasm, she noted, when Bakugou passed by, positively fuming. Iida, instead, was muttering to himself. “Maybe some kind of perception quirk? Still, doesn’t explain how he moved so comfortably in an unknown ground, I must ask Midoriya for pointers—“

 

Aizawa-sensei, Todoroki and Midoriya himself were the last ones out. Todoroki had his left hand on Midoriya’s right shoulder, melting down the ice that encased his entire arm with a neutral expression. Midoriya looked positively destroyed, his clothes sticking to him, drenched in sweat, walking with a bit of a limp, but showing a small, prideful smile.

 

They all -well, almost all- run to meet them half-way, speaking over one another.

 

Midoriya that was so coool!” “How did you do that?” “What is your quirk?” “Midoriya, you must teach me!

 

“Calm down, now, all of you.” Aizawa-sensei said, raising his hand. “You all did terribly at this test, except for Midoriya, as you already know.”

 

The enthusiasm died quite fast after that.

 

“But anyway, no one is getting expelled.” He continued, grinning madly. “It was a logical ruse, I wanted to force the best out of all of you.”

 

The perfectly synchronized chorus of “EEEEEEEEH?!” was definitely “plus-ultra”.

 

 

“Midoriya, wait!”

 

Izuku turned around, two already extremely familiar lights catching up to him.

 

“I must say, Aizawa sensei really got to me, today.” Iida said from his right once he and Uraraka took a side of him each, matching his steps. “I had no doubt that an institute as prestigious as UA would only let the best of the best to keep learning between its walls. I see how deception can be motivating, now.”

 

“It was the same for me—“ Uraraka replied at his left, embarrassed. “Did you also fell for it, Midoriya? You really gave it all in that last test!”

 

Izuku cannot help but let a little laugh out. “I swallowed it hook, line and sinker— I was really crapping myself.” He admitted. “After all that work, to get kicked out on the first day? No way!”

 

Come to think of it, Izuku hadn’t detected any lie in Aizawa-Sensei’s light as he explained who showed poor results would be expelled. Weird.

 

“What the fuck are you laughing about, Deku?!”

 

“Aaaand here we go—“ Izuku mutters to himself, deadpan. Kacchan ran up to him, rage pouring out of him in waves. He puts a finger on his chest.

 

“Listen here, don’t you dare think you’re so much better than me—“

 

“I don’t.”

 

“I’m going to crush you at the first occasion—“

 

“Yeah, I know.”

 

“So don’t go around with that smug face, you useless Deku!”

 

And as fast as he came, off he went.

 

“…Is he always this pleasant?” Iida asks, the sarcasm out of place in his serious, composed tone.

 

“He was almost friendly, this time.” Izuku sighs.

 

“…Is your name Deku? I thought it was Izuku—“ Uraraka asked, sounding confused.

 

“It is— I mean, no, my name is not Deku, that’s just what Kacchan calls me as an insult—“

 

“Oh, sorry then—“ Uraraka says, shifting her weight from foot to foot. “But you know, I kinda like the name Deku. It makes me think of someone that never gives up!”

 

Izuku blinks, and for the first time in his life, the word “Deku” doesn’t sound bad anymore.

 

 

When Aizawa enters in the teacher lounge, there’s a little neat pile of boxes of cat food with a note stuck to it sitting on the table.

 

The note just says thank you, with a crude scribble of All Might’s signature hair tufts.

 

Aizawa snorts, amused “Ridiculous.”

 

 

Inko is trying her best not to pace back and forth as she waits for Izuku.

 

She kind of overdid it, in her nervousness, and their dinner is already on the table.

 

Finally the door cracks open, Izuku’s voice saying “I’m home!”, and when she pops her head out of the kitchen, she sees him. His hair a bit messier, a small bruise on his cheek, tired.

 

Smiling.

 

“Welcome home, dear!” Her arms are already around him, her face on his shoulder. When did he get this tall? “You have to tell me everything.”

 

Izuku grins.

 

 

As she approaches Izuku’s room to wish him good night, as she usually do, he can hear his voice.

 

“—Yes, I told you! It was crazy!” He’s still smiling, lying belly down on his bed, phone against his ear, legs swinging in the air. “And that girl I met at the exam, remember— She’s in my class! We walked together to the station, with another classmate, Iida— I think they like me—“

 

A fond smile finds its way on her lips, as she turn around to go to her room.

 

She doesn’t need to wish him a good night, for today. She knows he’s going to sleep just fine.

 

 

Izuku is almost vibrating in his seat, as All Might’s light, shining and bright, approaches their classroom.

 

“It’s me!” The booming voice starts just outside the room. “— Through the door, like a normal person!”

 

An excited ripple goes through all the lights of his classmates as they whisper between themselves, happily, and even Izuku cannot contain the emotions. It doesn’t really matter that All Might had already become pretty much a constant presence in his life well before his start at UA, now their relationships puts them in a different position.

 

All Might is finally going to teach him, directly, for the first time!

 

“Foundational hero studies!” All Might exclaims, taking place at the teacher’s desk.

 

Izuku is so ready.

 

 

Izuku is not ready.

 

He changed with his excited classmates, happy to put on the costume his mother made for him. He still remembers her excited voice as she described it to him.

 

As usual, he could not really visualize it in his mind, but it did not matter, he let her talk about it, basking in her happiness. He knew the costume was perfect. She hesitated, at first, wondering aloud if maybe Izuku would prefer something more professionally made, maybe with some support accessories…

 

But Izuku couldn’t really think of any accessory that might support his quirk. It wasn’t something physical that could be enhanced by external gadgetry, it was all in his head. Not much you can add to that. He’d much rather put on the costume his mother worked so hard on.

 

All Might guided them to yet another training ground, explaining to them what today’s exercise would consist into. They fished letters from the box, and his heart did a little happy skip as he ended up paired with Uraraka.

 

“It’s like, destiny.” She laughed, before adding cheerfully. “Happy to work with you!”

 

Izuku had been super happy to work with her, too, until his happiness got squashed by what All Might said next.

 

“Our first hero pair: Uraraka and Midoriya!” He announced after fishing the letters himself. “Versus our first villain pair: Bakugou and Iida!”

 

Izuku’s heart fell on the floor.

 

 

“I’m so glad All Might is as nice as he is on TV.” Ochako let out a little sigh while she and Midoriya took position. “I was scared they might try to do that whole expulsion thing again.”

 

When she turned around, Midoriya was pale as a ghost, his shoulders drooping.

 

“Uhm— You don’t look very relieved—“

 

“I’m sorry— Just— Tense.” He replied, stiffly.

 

“…Bakugou is not very nice to you, is he?” She asked softly.

 

Midoriya took a deep breath, before squaring himself. “Uraraka, listen. Kacchan is surely going to come for me, so— I think I might have a plan.”

 

Ochako shifted closer to him. “Tell me.”

 

“We only have five minutes, so listen closely. Here’s what we do—“

 

 

Tenya tried to speak with his partner, but after a couple of sentences it was clear Bakugou had no interested in planning with him.

 

“Are you even listening?!” He asked, exasperated, but as soon as the robotic voice announced the start of the test, Bakugou sprinted away, leaving Tenya alone with the fake nuke.

 

Curses.

 

 

Kacchan’s light was just behind the corner, waiting for him.

 

Izuku was almost disappointed by that. Did Kacchan really expect him to fall for that?

 

He and Uraraka separated as soon as they made their way into the building, as planned. Silently, he fished one of the rocks he collected outside and put in his pocket, launching it towards the corridor Kacchan was in—

 

“DEKUUU—!” He screamed, jumping out at the noise.

 

Izuku’s hand was already on his face. He felt the features under his palm, Kacchan’s vaguely crooked nose -his fault- eyebrows twisted in anger.

 

With all his strength, he pushed down. Kacchan made a little choking sound when his back hit the floor, but rapidly turned and jumped back on his feet.

 

“YOU SHITTY—“

 

As predicted, Kacchan’s usual right hook came. Izuku dodged, grabbing Kacchan’s forearm in the way Ichiko-san taught him, and flipped him over, sending him on the floor again.

 

He did not waste a second, running away from him as Kacchan spluttered and, even more enraged, called after him.

 

 

“Whoa, did you see that flip?! He looked like a professional karateka!” Young Ashido exclaimed, excited, her fist swinging in front of her.”Midoriya is super going toe to toe with Bakugou!”

 

Toshinori had to channel all his strength to try remain neutral and don’t join in her excitement.

 

“An ambush, though! That was so unmanly!” Young Kirishima said, gritting his teeth.

 

“An ambush is a valid tactic! This is a battle, after all!” He exclaimed, his eyes fixed on the screen.

 

He could not wait to see what young Midoriya has come up with with that brilliant little head of his.

 

 

Katsuki was fuming.

 

The little shit managed to knock him down not once, but twice, before running away like the coward he is.

 

He went in hot pursuit. He was so tired of Deku and his little mind tricks.

 

Was he blind? Was he quirkless? Katsuki did not fucking care anymore. All he wanted was a fair fight, face to face, no tricks or traps or other bullshit—

 

“COME HERE! DEKU!!!”

 

The little shit was quick, he has to give that. He kept slipping out from his line of sight, dodging his attacks like an annoying little eel, leading him around like a stupid dog on a leash.

 

He kept making those sounds. Clicking his tongue against the roof of his mouth.

 

“STOP THAT—“ He blurted, irritated. “COME HERE AND FACE ME!”

 

Somehow, it seemed that the prick was finally listening. He stopped in the middle of an empty room, turned to face him, and charged.

 

Katsuki felt a mad grin breaking on his face. Finally.

 

Deku jumped, as if trying to dive over his head. Did he really think he could do something so dumb?

 

Katsuki readied his fist, an explosion on his palm, and punched.

 

His fist connected directly with Deku’s stomach.

 

 

Izuku expected the impact, he knew what he was in for, but his body definitely wasn’t all too happy about it.

 

The content of his stomach came out of his mouth as the strength of Kacchan’s punch pressed him against the ceiling that crumbled like it was made of sand, and Izuku was shot up, in the room just above their heads, with all the debris.

 

He turned around, the lights in his head swimming, and felt Iida making a dash for him.

 

Away from the bomb.

 

“Uraraka— Now—“ He coughed, bile burning in his throat.

 

His plan worked.

 

 

Midoriya stopped the signals, so Ochako stayed still around the corner, preparing mentally. It had to be a matter of seconds, now.

 

When she heard the explosion and then his voice -strangled, barely there- she dashed. As Midoriya predicted, she had an hole in the ceiling, a perfect passage. She jumped up, the bomb to her right, as Midoriya signaled.

 

She didn’t waste a single second, giving herself another push on the edges of the hole, and she soared to the fake nuke, hugging the tip of it.

 

As the voice announced “Hero team: wins!” she turned with a huge smile toward Midoriya, just in time to see Bakugou’s punch connect with his face, sending him tumbling and skidding on the floor, Iida screaming “Bakugou, no!”

 

 

Tenya is not happy.

 

He is not happy with himself, his performance -or lack thereof- a glaring issue in front of everyone’s eyes, and he is not happy with his partner for the day, that ignored him, went alone on some kind of personal revenge quest, and to top it all, hit a classmate so hard to make him pass out after the exercise already stopped.

 

Midoriya had to be transported to the infirmary on a stretcher, unconscious, a mix of blood and bile trickling down his chin.

 

Tenya heard an ominous cracking sound when Bakugou punched Midoriya in the face, like breaking bones.

 

He really hoped Midoriya wasn’t too badly hurt.

 

Uraraka didn’t look very happy as well, he noted. Despite their brilliant win, her expression turned into horror as she ran toward Midoriya with a worried, strangled noise. She was looking at the floor, now, nervously playing with her fingers.

 

“Congratulations for your win.” All Might said, the entire class -sans Midoriya- grouped around him. “Do not worry too much, young Uraraka. Young Midoriya will be fine in a heartbeat, thanks to Recovery Girl’s talents. Now, I would like to review the performance with you all. Tell me, young Uraraka, it was clear you both had a plan. Can you explain to us what happened?”

 

“Um—“ She hesitated, before taking a deep breath and finally looking up. “It… It was all Midoriya’s idea. He knew that B-Bakugou would try to attack him, so in the five minutes we had to prepare, we studied a code.”

 

“—A code?” All Might asked, surprise in his voice.

 

“Yes, he— This way we could communicate without giving away our plan or position. His plan was to lead Bakugou to the room right under where the nuke was and open a path for me, and he also guided me, making sure Bakugou wouldn’t notice as I trailed close to them. It was a simple code, but effective. He clicked his tongue, like this—“ And she made the sound herself. “ One time for right, two times for left, a louder one to let me know when he individuated the position of the bomb relative to me—“

 

Tenya blinked, throughly impressed. At his side, Bakugou was literally trembling.

 

“Once he opened the path for me and told me in which direction the bomb was, all I had to do was to use my quirk to jump to it before Iida could catch me.” Uraraka said, before adding a final whisper. “We only won thanks to Midoriya.”

 

Tenya wasn’t sure, but he had the distinct impression All Might was literally gleaming with pride.

 

 

Izuku came to with a gasp.

 

“Oh, you are awake.”

 

The voice made him think of an old lady, as a rather small light made its way toward him.

 

“Let me see—“ She says.

 

Small hands guides him up in a sitting position, fingers on his cheeks. He hisses when a sting of pain comes from the left side of his face.

 

“It’s gonna stay bruised for a couple of days, but the damage has been repaired with no issue. Go to bed early today, you need to rest.”

 

“Um—“ Izuku says, dumbly. “…Who are you?”

 

There’s a moment of silence, and he has the distinct impression the old lady is studying him. “I’m Recovery Girl, I’m responsible for the infirmary.” Then she sighs. “You are one of those.”

 

Izuku doesn’t have the time to get offended at the word, before she continues. “I’m sure I will see you here often. Here, take a candy.” She slaps something in his hand. “Don’t make that face. Young man, you came in with internal bleeding and a broken jaw and cheek bone on the second day of school. If I had a fidelity card, you’d be one of those that fills it in a week.”

 

Izuku dutifully gulps down his candy, not daring to speak. The pain on the left side of his face makes much more sense, now.

 

“You are good to go, I’m sure you can catch the rest of your lesson if you hurry.” She says, jumping down the bed he’s sitting on. “And tell All Might on my behalf to please be more careful with his lesson, next time.”

 

Something in her tone makes him shudder.

 

“Um— Thanks— I will—“ He stammers, giving a little grateful bow before closing the infirmary door behind him and sprinting in a jog back toward the training grounds, confused.

 

 

He meets the class half-way, just as they came back from the training ground.

 

“Oh, I missed it—“ He pouts, Uraraka’s light sprinting towards him.

 

“Midoriya, are you ok?” She asks, worry clear in her voice. She hisses through her teeth. “That bruise looks bad—“

 

“It’s nothing, Recovery Girl patched my face up just fine.” He replies with a little smile. He decides to skip about the internal bleeding, she really doesn’t need to know about that. “How did the others do? I really wanted to assist—“

 

“Young Midoriya, a word, please.”

 

Both he and Uraraka flinch, and she whispers a little “Good luck.” before slipping in their class with the others.

 

All Might’s hand is heavy on his shoulder.

 

“My boy, you’ve done good, technically speaking.” He says, in a low voice. “Your plan was quite effective and you’ve worked well with young Uraraka, taking advantage of her quirk. It was a success, but—“

 

Izuku turns his head up, toward his idol, silent.

 

“Please try to tone down the self-sacrificing? As much of a good move that was, in a real combat situation taking so much damage would put you out of commission, turning you into a liability for your partner. In order to be able to help others, you must also be able to help yourself, first.”

 

Izuku blinks, mulling on the words. It’s true that he planned to take the hit in the first place, and it’s also true that hadn’t this been just a training exercise, a hit like that would surely turn him into a useless dead-weight for whoever he might be working with.

 

“…I’m sorry.” He says, voice low. “I’ll try to keep that in mind.”

 

“Good. Now go, I’m sure your classmates have a lot to say to you.” The hand on Izuku’s shoulder squeezes, gently, All Might’s voice lowering. “Unofficially speaking: I’m very proud of you. Good job.”

 

Izuku is sure his chest might explode with the praise, and he gives himself a couple of seconds to calm down as All Might walks away from him.

 

“Oh! All Might, sir?” He calls out, remembering.

 

“Yes?”

 

“Um— Recovery Girl told me to tell you to be more careful next time.” Izuku says, embarrassed. “Please.”

 

“…Understood. Thank you, young Midoriya.”

 

Izuku cannot be sure, but he has the distinct impression All Might shuddered, too.

 

 

As soon as he opens the door, he’s assaulted.

 

“I don’t know how you came up with that, but that was like, so manly!” Kirishima -that’s his name, Izuku is pretty sure- sounds excited.

 

“I liked your moves! Did you study hand-to-hand combat?” A female voice intervenes. “I’m Ashido Mina! The way you dodge is great!”

 

“I’m Asui Tsuyu, but call me Tsuyu. I liked your fight.”

 

“Hey, hey! I’m Rikido Sato!”

 

Izuku let’s out a little nervous laugh. “Thanks— Um— Everyone. It’s nice to meet you!”

 

He spends some minutes chatting with his classmates, finally having the chance to properly introduce himself, until he notices the absence of a certain, very familiar light.

 

“Maybe you guys can tell me something—“

 

 

“KACCHAN!”

 

His heart is beating in his throat. He’s not sure why he’s doing this, but there’s something, something that makes him feel like he can’t just leave things at that.

 

Kacchan has stopped, barely turning to him.

 

“I— Um—“ He takes a deep breath. “Today, I tried with everything I had to win.”

 

Kacchan doesn’t answer.

 

“A-and still— I made it out completely destroyed. No matter what, you are stronger than me in every way. But—“

 

There’s a beat of silence. Izuku looks directly at Kacchan, his mouth in a thin line.

 

“But I will surpass you, one day, with my own strength. Just wait.”

 

“What the fuck are you even talking about, shithead—“ Kacchan replies in a low voice, through gritted teeth. “You— You won. You beat me.”

 

Kacchan breath shudders in his chest as he completely turns around. “You won! And— And did you even— Even that goddamn round-face totally tricked me— And that stupid ice guy it’s so— They are all—“

 

Kacchan’s light is jittering with nervous energy, and when he speaks next, Izuku hears the tears in his voice.

 

“Hear me out, Deku! From this moment on, I— I’m going to become the number one! And you will never beat me again, are we clear?!”

 

Izuku feels All Might approaching from behind, fast as a thunderbolt, before he can even think of how to reply.

 

“My boy!” All Might says, standing near Kacchan’s light. “Self confidence is very important!”

 

He doesn’t need to hear this. Izuku turns around, leaving All Might at it. Those words are not for him. those words are for Kacchan, now.

 

The distance between him and Kacchan, that Izuku always felt was an a mountain range, high in the sky, impossible to surpass, transformed.

 

He could finally see Kacchan’s back.

 

 

Aizawa sighed, thinking about at the evaluations Toshinori has given to him the evening prior.

 

Most students seemed to act in line with what he’d expected of them, except for those glaring three outliers.

 

Iida has strangely been very passive during the exercise, not something he’d expect from someone as serious and dutiful as him. When he told him so, in class, the boy nodded, looking contrite.

 

“I’m aware of my shortcomings.” He replied. “It won’t happen again, sir.”

 

Aizawa nodded, seeing no need to add anything else. He then turned to those other two.

 

“Bakugou.”

 

Aizawa noticed the boy’s nervous, competitive to a fault, attitude. But he’d be lying if he said he did not get surprised reading his evaluation. The way he acted seemed really extreme.

 

“You are better than this.” Aizawa reprimanded, patting his hand on the pile of sheets. “Stop acting like a child. You are wasting your talent.”

 

“…I know.” The boy replied, voice low and serious.

 

As for the last one…

 

Midoriya Izuku surely seemed to have a bad habit. While it had won him a place into the rankings, the way he acted during the exam could be considered almost suicidal. During the hide and seek test, when he’d claimed that last point, hadn’t Aizawa been there Midoriya would’ve fallen directly into concrete, and there is no saying whenever he would survive that fall or not.

 

And yesterday, he actually planned to take a direct hit from Bakugou in order to win.

 

This would not do.

 

“Midoriya. While your plan was cunning, you’ve openly decided to take a hit in order to win.” Aizawa says, watching the boy jump in surprise. “Let this be the last time you voluntarily jump in a situation where you know perfectly well you will get hurt, or possibly even die. Are we clear?”

 

Midoriya hand is running up and down his arm, a frown on his face. “…Yes, sir.”

 

“Ok, that is all. Now— I don’t like to tell you with so little notice—“

 

A strange atmosphere fills the room, all the students tensing.

 

“But we need to pick a class president.”

 

The mix of relieved sighs and exclamations of “That’s so normal!” It’s almost amusing.

 

 

“I GOT THREE VOTES?!”

 

Izuku stammers, shocked.

 

Who would even want to vote for him?!

 

Who voted for Deku?!”

 

Yeah, right on point.

 

“Midoriya.” Yaoyorozu calls him, and he stumbles at her side in front of the class, his head light.

 

“Well, Midoriya as president, Yaoyorozu as vice-president. Glad you didn’t waste too much time on this.” Aizawa-sensei says, bored. “Now back to your desks, I have a lesson to go through.”

 

 

During lunch, sitting with Uraraka and Iida, Izuku sighs.

 

“I don’t think I will be up to the task, to be honest—“

 

“Nonsense.” Iida interrupts him. “You have heart and good judgment. I know you have what the class needs, that’s why I voted for you.”

 

Izuku is left speechless. Iida, that clearly sounded like he wanted very badly to be president himself, voted for him?

 

“I agree.” Uraraka adds. “With what Iida said, I mean— I um— I voted for you, too.” She clearly sounds embarrassed, hastily adding. “By the way, Iida, are you from an upper-class family? You always sound so proper!”

 

Izuku wants nothing but to be able to mull over what even is going on right now, when Iida reveals to them that he’s the younger brother of the hero Ingenium, and well. Izuku it’s still a fanboy to heart, at the end of the day.

 

 

Then pure chaos happens, and Izuku cannot do anything but let himself being dragged away by a panicked crowd, when Iida saves the day.

 

For how happy and confused he is by the trust put into him, Izuku knows what the right thing to do is, now.

 

 

“There’s a thing I want to say.” He’s facing the class, Yaoyorozu at his side. He smiles. “Iida has proven to be able to act properly in the time of need and, frankly, I think he’s the better man for this job. I think Iida should be class president, instead of me.”

 

Izuku is happy to hear that the idea is welcomed with enthusiasm by his classmates, and the badly hidden happiness in Iida’s voice as he steps up and formally accepts his new role is enough to cement in Izuku’s mind the idea he’s done the right thing.

 

Later, as he’s putting his shoes ready to go home, Iida approaches him.

 

“Midoriya. Thank you, for what you’ve done today.“

 

“No problem. I— What you told me at lunch—“ Izuku replies, facing him. “It counts for me, too. I’m sure you will do an amazing job, class president.”

 

He offers his fist, and Iida seems almost unsure, as if he’s not used to this kind of camaraderie, before meeting it with his own, then sprinting home with an enthusiast bye.

 

Uraraka catches up to him a couple of minutes later, chirping. “Let’s walk together!”

 

“I was really surprised to hear you and Iida voted for me, today.” Izuku says after a while, filling the silence. His voice is unsure. “I don’t really think I deserve that kind of trust—“

 

He notices she stopped walking only a few seconds later.

 

“…Uraraka?”

 

“Midoriya.” Her voice is serious, in a way he never heard before. “You… You know everyone in class already looks up to you, right?”

 

Izuku is left speechless, stupidly blinking,

 

“In only three days of school you’ve shown us all that you’re capable, and smart, and k-kind.” She continues. “Everyone, me and Iida included, thinks very highly of you. Do not ever forget that.”

 

He doesn’t know how to reply to that.

 

Somehow, it feels as if Uraraka just saw right through him.

 

Chapter Text

UA is so unlike middle school it almost feels like that was a lifetime ago, despite the fact his last day of middle school had been just over a month prior.

 

Of course that is a given, considering the general subjects treated in the hero course, but even the more normal stuff feels new to him.

 

The teachers don’t pretend the impossible from him, nor they put him aside, completely ignoring him just because that’s easier. They work with him, instead.

 

“Midoriya, I usually have my students read in class, can you do that?” Cementoss-sensei asked him, earnest.

 

“I um— I could with my braille display, but it will be pretty slow compared to the others.”

 

The teacher hummed, thoughtful.

 

“Not that I would mind, of course, but if you’d prefer something else… Do you have in mind an activity that could come to you naturally? I’ll look into other options in the future, but for now…”

 

“Well— I could listen and provide a text-analysis at the end, maybe?”

 

“That seems like a nice solution for the time being.” A really heavy hand on his shoulder. “If you think of any other activity, later, do let me know!”

 

Present Mic seems to have taken a like to him after Izuku proposed to sustain a direct conversation in english with him instead of writing sentences on the blackboard as the others did, which would result in disaster.

 

“You’re a bit stiff, but you have a good basic grasp of the language!” The teacher had -loudly- complimented him after. “Good job, let this be of example to your classmates!”

 

All the other subject went in similar fashion, with him working with their teachers in finding a work-around that would put him on even footing with his peers. It became clear that his academic results were nothing to scoff at, and soon enough some of his classmates started coming to him for help.

 

“Midoriyaaaa can you explain this math problem to me? I didn’t get a thiiiing—“ Kaminari would whine, melting on his desk, making Izuku laugh before he’d scoot over to leave him some space to sit at his side, patiently explaining what he could.

 

No one tried to play pranks on him, or made fun of him, or even showed the tiniest doubt Izuku couldn’t do something. If only, it was clear that what Uraraka has said to him at the end of their third day was true: his classmates deeply respected him.

 

It made him feel so… Normal.

 

And not only that. They were friendly. They liked Izuku. They would laugh with him, not at him. Pranks were a daily occurrence but they were always evenly distributed, and they never were malicious or made anyone feel bad. His classmates seemed delighted in trying to sneak up to him and fail every single time, making amazed and amused sounds every time Izuku would stop a hand ready to poke him without even turning, saying the name of whoever was trying with a smile in his voice.

 

“The blind guy is the only one that can see the invisible girl. Hilarious.” Kacchan commented one day in his usual brash tone, after Izuku caught apparently nothing mid-air over his shoulder, and then Hagakure, which had probably shed her entire uniform for the sole purpose of trying to be the one person finally taking him by surprise, whined “Hoooow—“

 

Izuku ignored him, laughing joyfully with her.

 

 

They were on the bus, on their way to their next training session, Izuku internally laughing at the banter happening between his classmates while they spoke of their respective quirks.

 

Kaminari calling Kacchan’s personality “A turd steaming in sewer water” had been both hilarious and on point. He and Kacchan had mostly ignored each other after that second-day disaster, and yet everyone had come to an understanding of what kind of person Kacchan was.

 

Soon they came to a stop, being guided inside a giant dome. Izuku couldn’t even feel the tip of it, for how high it was. Inside, all sorts simulated grounds, from a city on fire to flooded areas.

 

Aizawa-sensei had given them a brief explanation of which kind of exercise they will be working at, today. He couldn’t wait to start, everything seemed so exciting!

 

They met with a light Izuku wasn’t familiar with, Uraraka at his side excitedly gasping “It’s Space Hero No. 13! One of my favorites!”

 

After all the due introductions, 13 started to explain what the place was and what they were all going to do, but Izuku’s attention was elsewhere.

 

There was something weird, at the center of the the dome. He could feel a large group of lights -thirty? Forty?- but they weren’t clear as usual. It was as if he was searching for them through a thick fog of some sort of energy. Not to mention they were all levitating a few meters off the ground.

 

“Um, sensei—“ He says, raising a hand. “I’m sorry to interrupt— It was my understanding that it was just us and you teachers here, today?”

 

“That’s what I said, yes.” Aizawa-sensei replies, perplexed.

 

“…Then why there are at least thirty people standing right in the center of the dome?”

 

Something weird happens. Aizawa-sensei’s light spikes up, as if he’s suddenly scared, and he yells “Group together and go back to the bus, NOW! 13, escort the students—“

 

Now, kid—“ A unknown voice, right behind Izuku. He doesn’t have the time to turn around, as a new light engulfs him. “It’s not nice to give us away like that.”

 

Izuku’s world goes dark.

 

 

Aizawa can only watch, powerless, as a black mist appears behind Midoriya, engulfing him, and then the boy is gone.

 

He has to take the students away, right now, they are already starting to panic after seeing their classmate taken away. Logic dictates he should go with them, make sure the majority of them are safe—

 

Midoriya.

 

Goddamnit. “Everyone, don’t panic! 13 will escort you out, and alert the school!” He says, as 13 is trying to herd them back.

 

“Sir, Midoriya—!” Iida exclaims, his voice betraying a tremble despite his best effort to sound controlled.

 

“I’ll take care of him! Now go!”

 

“All Might is arriving, right?” Asui asks, over one of 13’s arm.

 

“He—“ Aizawa exchanges a knowing look with 13. “You have to go, and call the school, now. GO!”

 

He turns before anyone else had the time to ask something, jumping down the staircase leading to the center of the dome, where around thirty -just as Midoriya had said- unsavory-looking individuals were waiting.

 

He doesn’t hear the screams, already too far. Had he turned around, he could’ve seen the last particles of the black mist disappearing in the air, and with them, most of his students.

 

 

Izuku world of lights emerges back again as he unceremoniously roll on the ground, spit out by that weird force that had taken him in.

 

“…What is this, Kurogiri?”

 

Another voice unknown to Izuku, low and scratchy. He focuses, turning toward the source of the voice, and his heart skips a beat.

 

Not once he had ever felt a light like that. If he had to find a word to describe it, it would be “anti-light”. Nausea creeps in his stomach by just the feel of it.

 

Izuku doesn’t know who this person is, and what their intention are, but he knows something for sure.

 

This person is the embodiment of evil.

 

“Trouble, it’s what it is.” The voice that had taken Izuku away from his class -Kurogiri, he presumes- replies. “This kid rattled us out. Saw us long before I opened the portal, somehow.”

 

“Huuh?” The evil says.

 

“I almost didn’t manage to scatter the other kids around. Thankfully, instead of immediately obeying their teachers, they hesitated. Should’ve known better.” Kurogiri continues. “The plan almost blew up thanks to this one kid.”

 

“Really, now.”

 

Izuku scrambled back up on his feet, knees like jelly. He took a step back, as the evil came closer to him.

 

“Interesting— Say, little one— You don’t happen to know where All Might is, by any chance?”

 

Izuku’s head suddenly feels light with fear. “W… What do you want from him?” He manages to rasp out.

 

Izuku can’t be sure, but he has the impression that the evil is smiling.

 

 

Aizawa finally sees him.

 

He’s dodging and attacking, as he frantically searches for Midoriya. Group fights had never been his forte, and he needs to find Midoriya and get him out of here

 

Relief washes over him when he finally catches a glimpse of the boy. He seems unharmed, standing near what he can only imagine is the man responsible for the teleportating mist going by his appearance and another individual, tall and thin, a series of pale, weird hands hanging all over his body.

 

He starts to attack more furiously, now, downing the inexperienced thugs around him like flies, clearing himself a path toward Midoriya. If he can catch him he should be able to make it to safety with him, as long as he keeps his eyes pointed on the man with the teleportation quirk.

 

 

“We’ve got a visitor incoming.” Kurogiri says, before the evil could answer Izuku’s question.

 

“Oh, your teacher is coming for you, how touching.” The evil says. Izuku catches the familiar aura of Aizawa-sensei’s light at his left, rapidly closing in.

 

“Kurogiri.”

 

It happens really fast. Izuku feels Kurogiri’s light moving in a strange way -It’s a portal, he called it a portal- and the evil’s not-light goes darker on his fingers, as if his killing instincts are concentrating in those specific points, he raises his arm—

 

Izuku bolts, instinct kicking in.

 

“SENSEI!”

 

The portal opens near Aizawa-sensei’s head just as Izuku is crashing into him with all his strength. The evil’s hand comes out of it, and instead of closing around Aizawa-sensei’s head the five fingers graze Izuku’s cheek, under his right eye.

 

The pain is almost unbearable for a second.

 

 

Aizawa was so close to Midoriya, when the boy had suddenly turned and charged right at him with a shout. They crash, Midoriya’s entire body weight pushing him back as he screams in pain, and tumble down in a mess of limbs.

 

“Oh.” The man with the hands says, monotone. “I missed.”

 

When they stop, Aizawa’s back against a boulder, Midoriya is breathing heavily and uneven. Aizawa raises the boy’s face to his, a hand under his chin.

 

The skin on the boy’s right cheek seems to have fallen off clean, muscles visible and out in the open. Blood is already rolling down his jaw and neck, drops staining Aizawa’s scarf.

 

“Sensei—“ Midoriya pants, his right eye twitching in pain. “Don’t— Don’t let him touch you—“

 

 

“Midoriya, what did I tell you about jumping in situations were you know you will get hurt?“

 

Izuku manages to let out a little, weak laugh. “I didn’t really know what he could do— I just had the feeling it wasn’t anything good—“ He pants, slowly standing with Aizawa-sensei’s hands steadying him. “Besides, if I hadn’t jumped, sensei would be dead.”

 

Aizawa-sensei doesn’t seem to have anything to say to that. His hands on Izuku’s arms squeeze him a little.

 

“Midoriya.”

 

His voice is dead serious. Izuku snaps to attention, keeping a metaphorical eye out to Kurogiri and the evil, that seems to don’t particularly care about closing the distance between them, for the moment.

 

“I don’t want to say this—“ Sensei continues. “But if we want to make it alive out of here, I will need your help. Can you tell me something useful about these people?”

 

“I—“ Izuku coughs. “The one with the portals. There’s a delay, I think— a couple of seconds, more or less, between the moment his portal moves into position, and the moment it actually opens.”

 

“That will have to do.” Aizawa-sensei whispers. “Can you see where he moves his portals?”

 

“Yes.”

 

Aizawa-sensei’s fingers are like a vice when he takes one of Izuku’s hand in his. “Get ready.”

 

 

It seemed they almost could make it, for a few instants.

 

Aizawa and the boy had sprinted, Midoriya pulling him away from the portals that tried to open under their feet three times before the two villains caught up with what was going on.

 

“Something is coming in front of us—!” Midoriya had tried to warm him, as a vaguely humanoid, towering figure came out from another portal, to no avail.

 

The thing was on them in a second, his fist connecting directly with Aizawa’s face.

 

 

Izuku is pulled back by the force of the hit, as Aizawa-sensei’s hand around his slips away. He hits the ground painfully, belly up, turning his head upside down as he takes in what had managed to attack them so fast.

 

He finds himself shocked, again.

 

Whatever that thing is, it’s not human. The light… No, the lights, are all wrong, as if someone has managed to cram a group of people in a jar.

 

Aizawa-sensei makes a choked sound of pain, stumbling to get back on his feet.

 

“That was a good effort, not going to lie.” The evil says, leisurely walking towards them. “But the big guy is here, now, so you two will not make it far. Is All Might coming at some point, or…?”

 

“What do you want from him?” Aizawa-sensei asks, his voice slightly nasal.

 

“To kill him, obviously.”

 

Izuku’s heart shot up to his throat.

 

“As if.” Aizawa-sensei replies, sarcastic. He spits, presumably blood. “I’m more than enough for a group of cowards like you.”

 

That seems to strike a chord, as the evil’s voice, that had been mostly impassible with a touch of amusement at times, so far, turns angry. “Cowards?”

 

“What do you call someone that attacks in group a bunch of kids? I have other words, if you want them. Wimps. Weaklings. Take your pick.” Aizawa-sensei kept taunting, strangely out of character for him. “I don’t even need the boy’s help, I can take you on by myself. C’mon, you big cowards.”

 

That’s a cue, Izuku realizes. Aizawa-sensei is telling him to run.

 

How does he expect Izuku to run away and leave him alone with these horrible people?!

 

“Well, now you’ve gone and pissed me off—“ The evil grunts, a strange scratching sound follows. “Noumu, take care of him. I’m going to turn the kid to dust right in front his eyes while you beat him to a pulp.”

 

A shiver of fear goes down Izuku’s spine at those words. It’s like the evil’s not-light is injecting murdering intentions directly into his soul.

 

The not human thing moves, almost hitting Aizawa-sensei, that rolls away with a grunt just in time.

 

What are you waiting for, Midoriya?! RUN!

 

He can’t. His legs are locked, his breath is getting shorter, it’s like the evil’s not-light is poisoning his entire being—

 

“Don’t worry, kid. It’s only going to hurt until you die.”

 

 

Whatever this monstrosity is, Aizawa cannot keep fighting it for long. He already took considerable damage, he’s sure most bones in his face are broken, all he can taste in the back of his throat is the iron of blood.

 

For how hulking it is, the creature it’s frighteningly fast. The man with the hands is almost on Midoriya now, the boy is completely paralyzed by fear, trembling on his legs. The man is stretching his arm, fingers ready to grab Midoriya’s face—

 

Aizawa has no choice. He activates his quirk just an instant before the fingertips make contact with Midoriya, taking a full hit that literally sinks him three centimeters into the concrete.

 

 

The contact finally snaps Izuku out of his stupor. He jumps back, away from the hand on his face, his skin miraculously still in place.

 

“That was really cool, really cool indeed, Eraserhead—“ The evil is mumbling.

 

Izuku’s mind suddenly clears. As he’d been standing there like an idiot, Aizawa-sensei saved his life and he’s now on the ground, having taken a hit of the frightening not human thing.

 

It’s all my fault, he frantically thinks, a hiccup itching in his throat, should’ve listened to sensei in the first place, stupid stupid stupid

 

The evil’s face makes a crunching noise under his fist, when the punch connects directly with his cheek.

 

 

Kurogiri’s eyes widen when the boy with the curly hair lands a hit on Shigaraki, that was too distracted looking at Eraserhead to notice the kid had charged to attack.

 

Shigaraki tumbles on the floor not making a sound. Damn, he’s gonna be insufferable once they finally go back home—

 

He has to intervene, before Shigaraki goes full batshit, but the boy somehow dodges his portals with a roll. Again.

 

“You are an annoying little fly, aren’t you?” He asks, warping himself closer to the kid.

 

“Kurogiri—“ Shigaraki voice snaps, enraged. “Don’t try to intervene. This annoying brat is mine.”

 

“As you wish, Shigaraki Tomura.” He replies, knowing the sarcasm will be lost on him. Well, master cannot admonish him if he had at least tried to reign Shigaraki in a bit.

 

 

Kurogiri steps back dutifully after the evil -Shigaraki- has ordered him to, while getting back on his feet.

 

The not-light it’s still suffocating, but Izuku is not going to let it freeze him again, not this time. He steels himself, ready for combat.

 

This man, Shigaraki— Has a frightening powerful quirk. And he seems prone to let himself getting easily provoked.

 

He might be just the kind of person that doesn’t bother learning any hand-to-hand combat, too sure in the strength of his quirk.

 

Maybe Izuku has a chance. Maybe Izuku can buy enough time, until All Might is finally here.

 

Aizawa-sensei, please, hang on—!

 

 

Aizawa is doing his best not to pass out.

 

The creature- The Noumu is keeping him down, blocking him with his weight after giving him quite a beating. He must have some internal damage, Aizawa considers with a distant thought, pain flaring from his insides. His right arm is in pieces after the Noumu had crushed it between it’s fingers, and it is obviously considering of doing the same with his left.

 

Aizawa can’t allow himself to pass out. He needs to— He needs to keep his eyes on the kid

 

Midoriya is going toe to toe with the man with the hands. His movements are quick and efficient as he dodges and hits whenever he can, making the man with the hands growing more and more impatient and twitchy as their one-sided fight keeps going.

 

But, despite his clear superiority in hand-to-hand, the boy had too many close calls already. Too many times the fingers had almost touched his body, Aizawa has— He has to make sure to stop him if it happens

 

The man with the hands goes down with a grunt when Midoriya ducks away from his stretched hand and places a rolling kick on the man’s ankles.

 

“You goddamn brat—“

 

“It’s this all that you have?!” Midoriya growls, breathless. He’s painting heavily, sweat rolling down his face, mixing with the blood on his cheek. “And you think you can kill All Might?!”

 

The man with the hands slowly climbs back on his feet, scratching at his neck obsessively. “I don’t like this brat— I don’t like this brat— I don’t like this brat— NOUMU!”

 

No— Aizawa thinks, his vision blurring. He has the time to feel the weight raise from him, and see a dark blur, hear the sickening crunch of Midoriya’s left arm breaking as the boy let out a choked yell of pain, before his world goes dark.

 

 

Izuku’s breath wheezes painfully through his chest after he’s finally done skidding on the floor.

 

His left arm is a flaming point of pain. He felt the bones break when he took the noumu’s fist in full force, flying away with the recoil of the hit.

 

The open wound on his cheek pulses painfully, fresh blood starting to seep again after Izuku’s face had been grinding against the concrete.

 

He’s shivering, he realizes, his teeth chattering. He can feel tears sting at his eyes, as he painfully focus to try make sense of things again—

 

Aizawa-sensei passed out, his light a bit dimmer— Izuku feverishly scans his surrounding trying to find something, anything, to get the both of them out of this situation— All he can feel are the distant lights of his classmates, fighting for their lives themselves, and— And—

 

And then he feels it. A laugh escapes his lips, hysterical.

 

“You’ve lost.” He says, his voice almost unrecognizable to his own ears, turning what he knows must look like a lopsided, crazy grin toward Shigaraki and Kurogiri. “He’s here.

 

 

Toshinori had been having a bad feeling all morning.

 

At some point he bolted away from Nedzu’s office, unable to keep the sensation at bay anymore. He’d been sprinting toward the training grounds, when young Iida met him half way, breathless, scared, desperate.

 

His students— his wonderful, young students were fighting for their lives while he had been sitting and drinking tea

 

Unforgivable.

 

When he finally arrives, he cannot find it in himself to smile.

 

He sees 13, on the floor, badly wounded, young Uraraka and Ashido fussing, tears coming to their eyes when they saw him arrive.

 

He sees young Asui, holding an unconscious Mineta on her back, hiding as best as she could from the villains around her.

 

He sees Aizawa, face down in concrete, a pool of blood under it.

 

He sees—Young Midoriya.

 

The boy is attempting to stand, left arm hanging at a weird angle from his shoulder -broken- blood rolling down his face and neck, a big red stain already on his clothing -open wound-, his eyes glistening -tears-, his teeth bared, like a cornered animal.

 

He cannot smile.

 

Unforgivable.

 

 

Izuku had managed to finally get back on his feet, still shivering, as All Might stood at the top of the stair, a quiet, seething rage coming out in waves from his light.

 

All Might moves incredibly fast. In a second he’s on Aizawa-sensei, taking him in his arms and transporting him away from danger. The second after, he’s on Izuku, his big arms incredibly gentle around him despite the haste of his movements.

 

“Young Midoriya.” He says, his voice has a quiet, almost broken note Izuku had never heard before.

 

“All Might—“ Izuku hiccups. “They want to kill you— Are you out of time—“

 

He hears a sound, it takes him a second to realize it’s the sound of All Might grinding his teeth.

 

“Do not worry.” All Might arms slowly release him, as he stands. “Everything will be alright.”

 

A knot that was in Izuku’s chest slowly releases, as those familiar words brings him incredible comfort.

 

“Wait—“ He forces himself to say, his hand, so small, closes around All Might’s big one. “That thing. The noumu. It’s… It’s not human. It’s like… It’s like it has a lot of people in a single body.”

 

All Might stops for a moment, taking his words in.

 

“Please, be careful.” Izuku whispers.

 

All Might gives his hand a gentle squeeze, before jumping into battle. But soon enough, it’s obviously things are not going well. The noumu is fast, and takes hits like All Might is barely swatting at him. Kurogiri had opened a portal when All Might had almost managed to flip the noumu on its back, trapping the both of them. He hears the monstrous fingers sink into flesh.

 

Izuku never, ever, ever wants to hear All Might choking in pain, ever again.

 

Kurogiri, that cowardly bastard

 

Izuku’s feet had started to move already. He knows All Might will be mad at him, but he just cannot stand there and do nothing

 

He’s not the only one, he realizes, familiar lights coming into All Might’s aid.

 

Todoroki’s ice zaps past him, freezing the noumu half stuck into the portal, Kacchan’s explosion makes his ears ring as he hits Kurogiri, and Shigaraki only barely manages to avoid Kirishima with a backstep and a grunt.

 

“Shit! I almost had him!” Kirishima exclaims, frustrated.

 

“Don’t you move, you shitty ass shadow—“ Kacchan is growling.

 

“The symbol of peace will not go down so easily, you idiots.” Todoroki adds, glacial.

 

And standing there, between his classmates, despite his useless arm and his useless body, Izuku still feels hope blossoming in his chest.

 

All Might is not alone.

 

 

Toshinori coughs, ignoring the pain pulsing through his body.

 

His magnificent students have yet again surpassed his every expectations, coming to his aid, stopping the villains quickly and efficiently. Young Bakugou had even individuated the weak point of one on them, keeping him in check.

 

The noumu, half frozen, snaps up on a single leg, leaving behind pieces of his body. Toshinori watches in horror as it rapidly regenerates the lost limbs, the man with the hands monologuing about the prowess of his creature like a child bragging about his new, favorite toy.

 

His heart almost skips a beat as the monster immediately springs for young Bakugou, fortunately he makes it in time, putting the boy out of danger, taking the hit for him.

 

His arm— The hit was incredibly strong, yet again. Young Midoriya had told him, like it has a lot of people in a single body.

 

Certainly explained the creature’s apparently endless talents.

 

“Do you not have any mercy?” He spits out, enraged.

 

“We had to save our ally, didn’t we?” The man with the hands replies. “Just before you arrived, one of your kids— The plain looking one— He’d been trying to give me such a beating, quite skillfully— From whom he learnt, and for who do you think he’d been lashing out with such violence? Eh, hero?”

 

Toshinori grits his teeth as the man goes on and on, rambling about society and violence and whatever.

 

“Stop trying to lead me around.” He interrupts. “You just want to have some fun, don’t you?”

 

“You saw through me so quickly.” The man replies, voice lower, his eyes glinting madly behind the hand covering most of his face.

 

Nearby, his students are discussing between themselves a plan of attack. He cannot possibly allow them to put themselves in danger yet again.

 

“No! You must escape!” He orders.

 

“If I hadn’t supported you, things would’ve turned out bad.” Young Todoroki replies, matter-of-factly.

 

“All Might… Your time— Ah—“ Young Midoriya starts, before hesitating, his right hand on his mouth.

 

“You are indeed right, young Todoroki, and I owe you one!” He replies, flashing a thumbs up. “But now, do not worry! I will show you how it’s done!”

 

It’s true that he’s out of time. He needs to finish this, now.

 

He charges for the noumu, the man with the hands attempting to belittle him yet again.

 

If the thing can absorb his 100%, then he will need to bring out more.

 

 

Izuku can only stand there, his mouth hanging open, as All Might’s light goes possibly even brighter than normal.

 

The air shift caused by the strength of his hits it’s almost suffocating, causing all of them to be unable to move a single step forward.

 

The noumu finally goes down. Or, more correctly, it goes up, launched into the sky by one last punch.

 

The not-light of Shigaraki shifts and moves, clearly distressed, as he mumbles to himself something about cheats or whatever.

 

“Now, how about we put an end to this.” All Might says.

 

And in that moment, Izuku knows he’s lying.

 

He’s out. He’s completely out of time. He’s bluffing

 

Kirishima tugs at his unbroken arm, trying to convince him to fall back, his tone not worried in the slightest, clearly trusting in All Might.

 

Izuku is the only one that knows—

 

They are still exchanging words, All Might and Shigaraki. All Might’s light is shivering, almost about to go out—

 

Kurogiri moves, and with him Izuku.

 

 

Toshinori is frozen on the spot, he knows that if he dares to try move a single step, now, he will shift back.

 

The man with the black mist is charging forward. All he can do, now, is hope his precious kids have put enough distance between themselves and the villai—

 

A choked sound gets stuck in his throat as young Midoriya flies into his field of vision, his right arm stretched forward as if he’s trying to catch the black mist, his teeth bared in desperation.

 

The man with the hands has put his arm in the mist, reaching for the boy—

 

A bullet wheezes past, sinking into the pale hand.

 

Many more follows, and he knows his kids are finally safe, the other pros are here, the villains are forced to fall back as young Midoriya crashes down and roll in front of him with a painful, choked yell. He can feel himself start to shift, steam rising out of him, concealing him momentarily from prying eyes.

 

Cementoss come to his aid just in time, hiding him from young Kirishima that was running in their direction, calling out to young Midoriya, clearly worried for him.

 

“I’m a fan of you, too, you know.” Cementoss had replied, good-naturedly, after Toshinori had thanked him. “Better keep your true form hidden. You should head to the infirmary right away, and try not to overdo it so much next time, huh?”

 

Toshinori sighs in relief. He wants to sink to the ground, exhausted, but he limps towards young Midoriya, that has managed to kneel, holding his broken arm.

 

His eyes are full of tears when he lowers himself in front of him.

 

“I felt it—“ He sobs, looking up at him, pure desperation on his features. “Your light— It went out—It— A piece of it— It went out— Forever—“

 

Toshinori blinks, watching the young man wracked by desperate sobs, hanging his head low again, big tears hitting the floor.

 

He doesn’t need to ask what he means. He knows his time has shortened again, after this.

 

“I’m sorry you had to see that.” He whispers, putting a gentle arm around the boy’s head and guiding it against his chest. “But it’s ok, young Midoriya. Everything will be alright.”

 

The boy sobs, shaking his head, but he melts into the comforting embrace.

Chapter Text

“I will see you in a bit, young Midoriya.” All Might says, patting his head one last time.

 

It almost felt like mom’s pats. Maybe she was rubbing some of her mannerism off on All Might, considering how much time the man has spent at their house in these months.

 

Not that he’d complain.

 

His eyes and nose stings for how much he cried. He tries not to think about what he felt, fresh tears threatening to come up at the mere thought.

 

It had been horrible, to feel All Might’s light shrink, and a piece of it detaching, wiggling and thrashing like an animal in pain for a few seconds, before dissolving into dust, to never come back again.

 

He doesn’t want to feel that happen ever again.

 

He sniffles, All Might’s light guided away by Cementoss-sensei a blurry point in the radius of his quirk, when something soft touches his thigh.

 

“Midoriya. It’s principal Nedzu.” The little voice says.

 

“Oh, hello, sir—“ Izuku rasps out, his voice raw against his throat. He has the distinct impression that the small principal is scanning him to the depth of his soul.

 

“How hurt are you?” He asks.

 

“My arm’s broken and I have this… Thing on my cheek, but aside from that I’m ok.” He’s dead tired on his feet, too, but that’s beside the point.

 

“I see. You should go to the infirmary right away, then. We are rounding all the students up to make sure no one is missing, but of course medical attention comes first, I will count you in—“

 

Izuku doesn’t want anything more than to let Recovery Girl put the fire that’s burning in his arm out, but, he realizes, the roaring need to make sure that all his classmates are ok, to feel their lights near, vastly supersedes his need to be healed.

 

“No.” He replies. “No I— I can wait—I want to see the others, first—“

 

“…Are you sure?”

 

“Yes.”

 

The principal sighs in a way that suggest he already knew Izuku would say that. “This way, then.”

 

As they walk closer to the little cluster of lights, Izuku is immediately relieved to see that everyone it’s there, safe and sound, after a rapid head count. He knew that Kacchan, Todoroki and Kirishima were safe, of course, but the others—

 

“Midoriya! Are you ok?!” Kirishima exclaims, his voice a little ragged, running in his direction after having noticed him getting closer. “You gave me such a scare, man, I thought you were done for—“

 

“Midoriya.” Asui had joined him, too, speaking before he could answer. “I saw you fighting that man. You were very brave.”

 

“It was nothing—“ He stammers, feeling his cheek redden in embarrassment.

 

“MIDORIYA!” Uraraka pretty much made a dash for them as soon as she heard his name. She sounds like she’d been crying. “Oh my god, are you—“ An hiccup. “Tsuyu told us what happened— You got dragged right in the middle of that— I don’t know how do you do any of this—“ She’s rambling, probably gesticulating going by the movements of her light.

 

“Do what?” Izuku replies, perplexed.

 

This!” She answers, exasperated, pointing at his entire being. “If I had been in your place I don’t think I would’ve been capable of moving a single step! I was frozen with fear up here, and you fought the boss of the villains?!”

 

Oh.

 

“I—“

 

“I think that is quite enough.” Principal Nedzu intervenes. He almost sounds amused. “I understand you are all happy to see your classmate, but we need to count you up and then send Midoriya to the infirmary.”

 

“O-of course, sir—“ Uraraka stammers. As they make their way to the rest of the class, she puts a hand on his shoulder, gently. “I’m so glad you are ok, Izuku—“ She whispers.

 

He doesn’t comment on the fact she used his name, too shocked to blurt out a single word, the rest of the class welcoming him with similar, relieved calls.

 

As he’s surrounded by his classmates… No, by his friends, all equally happy to see him in one piece, the heavy knot in his chest that had taken place there from the very moment he got warped away from his class finally releases.

 

Maybe things will be ok.

 

 

Recovery Girl grumbles a bit as she patches him up with a wet kiss, but doesn’t add much more.

 

“Considering the situation, I won’t scold you two. This time.”

 

All Might had already been there when Izuku arrived, lying on one of the cots.

 

“What held you?” He asked upon Izuku entering, curious.

 

Izuku tried to shrug, before remembering he had a broken arm and hiss in pain. “I just wanted to make sure the others were ok.” He said, not elaborating much more.

 

All Might had made a knowing hum, murmuring “I’m very glad your classmates are all fine, then.” as Recovery Girl guided Izuku to one of the cots and had started to work on him.

 

She’s putting his arm in a light cast, now, hanging it from his neck. “You had multiple fractures. The bones are repaired, but I recommend to keep the cast at least a couple of days to give your arm time to rest. How does your cheek feel?”

 

Izuku carefully palmed at his face with his free hand. The skin was back there, it felt tender and new. As his fingertips passed on his cheek, he notices a little irregularity, something slightly bumpy, right under his eye.

 

“It doesn’t hurt.” He says, poking curiously at himself.

 

“It scarred a little.” Recovery Girl replied, noticing his gesture. “Nothing big, but that’s what you have to live with when you are a stubborn, reckless boy like you.”

 

“Didn’t you say you wouldn’t scold us, this time?” All Might intervened, a smile in his voice.

 

“Just saying the truth.”

 

That gets a laugh out of Izuku, that finally relaxes against the pillow. His arm feels delicate, throbbing as if it’s threatening to break all over again, but it’s much of an improvement over the constant pain of broken bones.

 

“Oh—“ He says after some seconds of silence, feeling horrible. The thought had shaken him out of his relaxed, sleepy state. How could he forget that?! “Aizawa-sensei! Is he ok?!”

 

“He had more broken bones than you.” Recovery Girl replies, her voice low. “His orbital socket was pretty much turned to dust. We won’t know if that will affect his eyesight until he wakes up, but he is out of danger and will make a full recovery in due time.”

 

Izuku should be happy that sensei is at least still alive. But he knows his face is betraying his feelings when he feels All Might eyes pointedly boring into him.

 

“It’s my fault.” He murmurs, before All Might could even ask. “I dragged him right to that thing, and I couldn’t help him in any way—“

 

“Young Midoriya, you cannot possibly blame yourself for this.” All Might voice is steel, but there’s a note of kindness into it. “Aizawa is a pro hero, before being your teacher. And he knows what he does, and he did what he thought was right. I also think he did the right thing. I would’ve done the same, in his place.”

 

In front of Izuku’s silence, he continues. “What do you think he should’ve done, leave you there all alone? My boy, you are his student, Aizawa would gladly give his life away if it meant protecting you. So would I.”

 

Izuku flinches as if All Might had hit him with one of his 300% punches. “I don’t—“ a cough “I don’t want anyone to give their life away for me—“

 

All Might is silent for a few second. “So you would die for others, gladly, but you don’t want others to do the same for you? That’s very selfish, my boy.” He then says in low, quiet voice. His tone is betraying a sad smile on his face.

 

Izuku doesn’t reply, angrily wiping the tears away with his right wrist.

 

A pregnant silence falls on them for a good minute, before there’s a knock on the door.

 

“Oh, right on time.” All Might sounds a bit rough, the sheets crinkling on him as he drags himself in a sitting position.  “Young Midoriya, this is Tsukauchi Naomasa, a dear friend of mine, and a police officer. He knows my secret.” He says, answering to Izuku’s unasked question.

 

“Oh, so this is the boy you told me about!” The man, Tsukauchi, says in a cheery tone. He approaches Izuku’s cot. “It’s nice to meet you, Midoriya.”

 

“Oh, um, same—“Izuku replies, offering his hand, and as he imagined he would, Tsukauchi takes it in a little shake.

 

“Sadly, I’m not here just for a visit. I will need both your statements regarding this incident, it’s regrettable that I must interrupt your rest—“

 

“That’s alright.” Izuku replies, crossing his legs on the cot and sitting a bit straighter. Surely beats feeling terrible about himself and Aizawa-sensei.

 

“I think you should begin with young Midoriya, he’d been there from the start. I’m also curious to know the whole story myself, if I have to be honest.” All Might says as Tsukauchi sits in front of Izuku, on All Might’s cot, fishing something out of his coat to presumably write down Izuku’s statement.

 

“Oh, ok—“ Izuku says, taking a moment to collect his thoughts. “Well, we were right at the entrance of the U.S.J., 13 was explaining to us something, I— Was a bit distracted. I noticed, um—“

 

“Tsukauchi knows the way your quirk works, my boy, go on.” All Might says, rightly interpreting his hesitation.

 

“Oh, perfect— Well, I wasn’t really listening because there was something weird. Aizawa-sensei had told us it would be just us of class 1-A and the teachers at the training grounds, but I felt that inside the U.S.J. there were more people. I estimated around thirty or forty.”

 

“Were they just sitting there?” Tsukauchi asked, sounding perplexed.

 

“I don’t think they were visible to— You know, normal eyes?” Izuku scratches at his cheek, unsure. “In retrospect, I think they were hiding in a portal. The way I felt them, it was like there was a deep fog making their lights very blurry—”

 

“A portal?”

 

“Yes, one of them could open portals all over the place, but I’ll get to that in a minute— I mean, sorry—“

 

There’s a smile in Tsukauchi’s voice. “No problem, tell us in your own words.”

 

“Ok, um— Well, I told Aizawa-sensei about what I felt, and he immediately realized the danger, telling us to go back to the bus and alert the school, but the man with the portals, I think his name was Kurogiri, he was listening in, because he immediately teleported me away from the class after I told them about the lights.”

 

All Might’s light spiked up in fear, before calming down, quiet rage seeping through.

 

“I don’t know what happened to the class next, I can only imagine Kurogiri had also teleported them away at some point, since I noticed they were scattered all over, later. Anyhow, Kurogiri had teleported me nearby the boss of the villains.”

 

“The man with the hands—“ All Might murmured to himself.

 

“Hands?” Izuku blinked, perplexed. “Well, I heard his name, too. It was Shigaraki Tomura.”

 

At that, Tsukauchi made a little gasp of surprise, immediately scribbling in a frantic manner. “This is incredibly useful information, Midoriya, you’re helping us immensely. Please, go on.”

 

And Izuku did, describing all he could remember down to every single detail. How Shigaraki asked after All Might, how Aizawa-sensei came to his aid, of the not-light of Shigaraki and his quirk, the way he managed to push Aizawa-sensei away from Shigaraki’s hand, getting that wound on his cheek. How he noticed the delay in Kurogiri’s portals and the failed attempt to run away with sensei after the noumu stopped them. He told of the noumu strange cluster of lights, and of how sensei tried to give him a chance to run and -swallowing his pride- admitting how he froze in fear. How Aizawa-sensei saved his life, taking a hit, and that had finally pushed Izuku to fight Shigaraki.

 

“You fought him?!” At that point All Might interrupted, his voice strangled.

 

“I didn’t know what to do—“ Izuku replies, nervously playing with the sheet covering his cot. “He told you, too, remember?”

 

“When he said— Oh. He was talking about you.” All Might let out, surprised. “ the plain looking one my ass—“ He added, grumbling.

 

That dragged a surprised little laugh out of Izuku, that shook his head a bit with a smile. “Anyhow, I was just buying time. Shigaraki— He was really angry after I punched him, I knew he’d come for me either way, he had even ordered Kurogiri not to intervene, that he wanted to kill me himself—  And I didn’t had it in me to leave Aizawa-sensei behind— I know it was stupid, it’s not like I could’ve fought the three of them all on my own, so I just bid my time, trying to keep Shigaraki busy se he wouldn’t order the noumu to land the killing blow on sensei.”

 

“What were you waiting for?” Tsukauchi asked, his hand hovering on the notes he was writing.

 

“All Might, of course.” Izuku ignored the little surprised jump of his idol. “I knew he was coming, so I kept fighting. Shigaraki, he— He acted like an immature kid, growing more and more angry as he failed to get me. I kicked him to the floor, at some point, and that made him snap. He ordered the noumu to get me.”

 

All Might made tiny, breathless, painful whine at that.

 

“That’s how I broke my arm, it— Uuh— Punched me. Really hard. I don’t even know how far I flew after that hit—” Izuku squirms on his cot, uncomfortable. “If I have to be honest, I was almost glad. At least that thing was away from Aizawa-sensei—”

 

Young Midoriya.”

 

Izuku flinches. “I’m sorry— Anyhow, well— You arrived right after—“ He takes a deep breath, noticing how tense his shoulders were, and forcing himself to relax. “You arrived. That’s when I knew we had a chance.” He whispers.

 

 

A deep silence covers them all after young Midoriya’s last whisper.

 

Toshinori doesn’t even know what to do with this boy anymore. The expression he had seen on young Midoriya’s face upon his arrival, that mix of anger and desperation, baring his teeth like an animal ready to fight, made much more sense now.

 

He cannot believe the boy fought against that man, Shigaraki. His first reaction of freezing in fear had been more than understandable, but young Midoriya found it in himself to shake out of that and fight right back.

 

Toshinori it’s starting to think his late sensei had somehow created a miracle from beyond the grave, putting this boy in his path. He cannot find any other explanation for the sheer stroke of luck of happening to meet young Midoriya in that underpass, that faithful day of many months ago.

 

Had he been even just a minute more late in running to the U.S.J.— Toshinori doesn’t even want to think about it, his stomach churning at the mental image of a young Midoriya, battered and lifeless, the monstrous noumu looming over him—

 

He was still here, in front of him, alive and well. That’s what mattered.

 

“I think I can take it from here.” He finally says, as the boy seems to be either unwilling of incapable of going on. “If you think you can add more useful details, young Midoriya, feel free to interject.”

 

The boy nodded, silent, and Tsukauchi turned to him, as he started to add his side of the story. Young Midoriya doesn’t intervene, only answering a couple of questions Tsukauchi asks himself directly to clarify, mostly just listening and nervously playing with his cot.

 

Tsukauchi asked the boy for his contact, if he was willing, once he was done writing everything down. Young Midoriya had quietly given his phone number, then handing his phone to Tsukauchi to let him add his own contact to the address book.

 

“Thank you both for your time and patience, I’ll leave you to rest now.” Tsukauchi finally said, putting his hat on. “Midoriya. I’m sure your teachers will appropriately scold you, but for what its worth, I think you did very good.”

 

“Don’t give him ideas.” Toshinori grunted, and that finally put a small smile on the boy’s face.

 

Tsukauchi chuckles. “Thank you again, all this information will be of great help. Hopefully, next time we will meet, it will be in less strained circumstances.”

 

“I hope so, too.” Midoriya answers, his voice a bit tired but less tense. “It’s been nice to meet you, Mr. Tsukauchi.”

 

With one last smile and a wish of getting better soon, Tsukauchi leaves. Recovery Girl is nowhere to be seen, probably had left to give them some measure of privacy as they gave their statements.

 

He watches the boy releasing a big sigh, sinking back in his pillow, eyes closed.

 

“… Are you mad at me?” He asks after a while, quietly.

 

“I have very many feelings.” Toshinori answers, taking a few seconds. “And maybe I’m a bit angry, yes, but definitely not at you.”

 

The boy just barely cracks his eyelids open, the dying light of the setting sun out the window creating a sheen of colors not unlike a nacre on a beach, on his unseeing eyes. Toshinori finds himself holding his breath.

 

“Mom will totally be mad.” The boy says, closing his eyes again.

 

That snaps him out of the little stupor he had fallen in “I— mh.” He sniffs. “I do not wish to lie to your mother, of course, but I think it’d be better if we give her a… Edulcorated version of the facts, for her peace of mind. Your call, my boy.”

 

Young Midoriya seems to take a few instants to think, before sighing tiredly. “I agree.”

 

They don’t speak, after that. Soon enough Toshinori hears the boy’s breath going steady, as he falls asleep.

 

He takes a last, long look at him, before closing his eyes himself.

 

 

Izuku is too tired to even activate his quirk, at the moment. His world is dark, and he’s pretty sure he’s flying, his body feels weightless, voices muffled around him.

 

With a hum, he pushes his face against something soft and comforting, feeling a gentle hand on his head, as he falls back asleep again.

 

When he wakes up, he’s in his room. He can hear the birds chirping outside and, confused, his quirk still turned off, he palms at his nightstand, hitting the clock.

 

“It’s 12:34!” The clock cheerfully announces. That definitely shakes him out of his sleepy daze, as he turns on his quirk.

 

A splitting pain in his head urges him to turn it off again. He does so, accidentally tumbling off his bed.

 

“Izuku?!”

 

The noise must’ve warned mom, her voice coming closer. He sits on the floor, sheets tangled around his legs.

 

“Honey, what are you doing?”

 

“My heaaaad—“ He whines, pain pulsing in his temples. He does not dare to turn his quirk on again. “Mom, why didn’t you wake me up?! I’m super late for school!”

 

She chuckles. “Oh, honey, don’t worry. After what happened yesterday the direction decided to close the school for today. Take it easy, ok?”

 

Izuku breathes a sigh of relief. He slowly makes his way up on his feet. It’s good he can keep his quirk turned off for a bit, it’s clear that the strain of the day prior had been enough for a while. He clearly needs to rest.

 

“I was just putting lunch on the table, you must be hungry.” She says. “We’ll be downstairs, ok?”

 

Izuku nods, stifling a yawn. He hears mom walking down as he palms at himself. He recognizes the shirt he has on, one of his most comfortable ones that he always uses to sleep. Mom must’ve put it on him when they had gotten him home, at some point. He’s in his boxers, thought, so he finds his pajama pants propped on the chair at his desk and puts them on, with a little difficulty considering his left arm it’s still in Recovery Girl’s cast. He makes his way downstairs. It’s kind of weird, after getting used to use his quirk continuously, to be plunged in a world of total darkness again, but it’s not like he didn’t spend his entire life in this home. He really doesn’t need it to move around.

 

When he enters the kitchen, yawning again, a definitely not-mom’s surprised chuckle welcomes him.

 

He jumps, taken aback, before his mind connects the noise to a voice he’s very familiar with. Then he remembers the shirt he uses to sleep is an old, faded All Might shirt, and blushes rapidly.

 

“Very cute.” All Might says, amused. “I’m sorry I scared you. Do you have your quirk turned off?”

 

“Y-yes.” Izuku replies, palming to find his chair and sit down, trying to will away the blush he feels burning on his cheeks.

 

“That’s interesting.” All Might says, Izuku he’s sure he’s staring at him.

 

“What is?” He asks, grateful for the distraction taking attention away from his embarrassing choice of clothing.

 

“Your eyes. They look different.” All Might hums thoughtfully. “I’ve never noticed.”

 

“…Do they?” Izuku asks, surprised.

 

“Yes the— Thank you, Miss Midoriya— The green. Is a different shade, when you have your quirk on. It’s brighter.”

 

“…Huh.”

 

Mom doesn’t say anything, putting the plate in front of him and then taking place at the table herself. She wishes them to enjoy their meal, before casually starting. “So, Izuku, Mr All Might told me what happened yesterday.”

 

Izuku’s mouthful of rice almost makes it out of his mouth. He’s proud he manages to gulp it down.

 

“I’m very glad you made it out with mostly minor injuries, but I can’t deny I’m very worried about something like this happening again.”

 

He has no idea what kind of version All Might might’ve given her, so he doesn’t comment. That last part of the sentence, any way, seems more aimed at All Might himself rather than him.

 

All Might sighs. “It is a very worrying prospect for all of us. Today, with the help of the police forces, the school is being searched throughly. I’ve been excused, seeing as I have to recover my strength myself, but I’m sure a highly accurate job is being done of it. I do not exclude the possibility the school will open again directly tomorrow.”

 

They eat in silence, for a while. A weird atmosphere has fallen on them, and while Izuku is definitely famished, he ends up pushing his rice around.

 

“All Might.” He finally says after a while. “You have something to tell me, don’t you.”

 

He hears the man stop, and put down his chopsticks. Maybe crossing his fingers on the table.

 

“I do.” He says. “But eat, first.”

 

Izuku obeys.

 

 

After lunch, Miss Midoriya shushes them in the living room, citing the plates that needs to be washed as an excuse to leave them alone.

 

Toshinori told her everything, already, while young Midoriya was still sleeping. He wanted her to be ready, and the woman had, understandingly, reacted with fear and tears. It took her a while to steel herself, taking deep breaths.

 

“I would be lying if I said the prospect doesn’t terrify me.” She said. “But… It’s Izuku’s decision. Whatever he will do, I will support him.”

 

Toshinori nodded, not daring to put a comforting hand on her shoulder as he wished to do. He did not deserve that, after unloading so much on her.

 

“Thank you for telling me.” She whispered after a long silence.

 

He watched young Midoriya expertly making his way towards his usual armchair, not a sign of hesitation, sitting with his legs crossed. He looked so much younger than usual, hair mussed with sleep, in his giant faded shirt. Toshinori’s own face, smiling brightly, greeted him through the folds.

 

There’s nothing Toshinori wished more than to let this boy live his life, happy and carefree.

 

But life had other plans, apparently.

 

“I have something to tell you about my powers.” Toshinori finally started, the sounds of plates being washed in the distance. “It’s going to be a long story…”

 

 

Izuku listened intently.

 

All Might told him so much Izuku had never imagined could be real. He told him of One For All, and of All For One. He told him a story that went ages back, long, long before Izuku had even been born. He explained how his incredible strength work, and why he was so much weaker, now.

 

How he received that power from someone else.

 

Izuku took it all in, wonder plain on his face. Once All Might finished narrating, a silence fell on them.

 

“This is… A lot.” Izuku finally says, his right hand on his chin. “Certainly explains quite a lot of things but… Why are you telling me this?”

 

All Might takes a long, deep breath, before answering.

 

“I wish for you to be the next wielder of One For All.”

 

 

Toshinori watches as shock takes place on the boy’s face, his mouth hanging open, his eyes wide.

 

“Me?” He asks, breathless. “But— I—“

 

His right hand makes some random movements as he searches for words.

 

Why me?” He finally asks, sounding as if he’s about to faint.

 

“Why is the sky blue?” Toshinori replies, sad humor in his voice. “My boy, this is a thought I’ve been harbouring ever since we’ve first met.”

 

Young Midoriya closes his mouth, frowning, confused.

 

“You have heart, and you firmly believe in what I also believe.” Toshinori continues. “That a hero is supposed to help, and protect, no matter what. You’ve shown exceptional abilities and bravery, even a bit too much of that.” He chuckles. “You’ve shown how hard working you are, and how smart you are, and how much you care. You’ve shown me all the qualities I could possibly ask for.”

 

He expect to see the boy blush, but instead, his face goes dead serious, his hand slowly lowering and grabbing at his pants.

 

“My only regret is that I have to unload this request on you so soon.” Toshinori says. “I wished to let you live a bit longer in peace, to give you the chance to grow and learn at your own pace. My intention was to ask this of you at your third year, or even after graduation. But what happened yesterday showed me we cannot afford this luxury.”

 

Young Midoriya’s right hand goes back up to his face, as he nervously pulls at his lower lip. His eyes are moving, he’s clearly deep in thought. Toshinori gives him time, before adding softly.  “I’ve already told your mother what I was going to ask you, this morning. She said that it’s your decision, and she will support you, no matter what. I want you to think about this, and I want you to know that if you decide to refuse, I will not hold it against you. I will still follow your growth, and I will still be proud of the person you are. Do not forget that.”

 

 

Inko enters in the living room just as Izuku is making his way out, his face an unreadable mask. She sidesteps, watching him go up the stairs, before entering in the room with a little worried frown.

 

All Might is sitting on the couch, his eyes closed. He looks like he just ran a marathon.

 

“Is… Everything ok?” She asks, unsure.

 

“He told me he needs some time to think” All Might replies, opening his eyes. “It’s the least I can give him.”

 

She sighs, softly sitting by his side.

 

“How do you think he took it?”

 

“It’s hard to say.” All Might sits a bit straighter, pulling at one of his long tufts of blond hair. “Young Midoriya’s heart is usually right on his sleeve. This is the first time I could not tell what he was thinking.”

 

She doesn’t know how to reply, and then All Might chuckles. “That probably means he’s growing up. It both makes me happy and sad— It’s a weird feeling.”

 

Inko feels a sad smile rising on her lips. “That’s how a parent feels. I can tell you from experience.”

 

She watches him flinch, turning a shocked expression to her, and then he relaxes.

 

“I guess that makes sense.” He whispers.

 

After a beat of silence, Inko gets up, rummaging in the furniture right under her tv. She takes one of their photo albums out, going back on the couch. She opens the album between them, and starts showing him pictures.

 

“This is Izuku, just after he was born. He was a loud crier.” She laughs, showing him the picture of the baby clearly mid-scream, red in the face.

 

All Might takes the picture with a smile. He listens, and looks, picture after picture, nodding at her anecdotes, laughing at the particularly funny ones.

 

Grateful.

 

 

It’s a little over an hour before Izuku comes back down the stairs, something under his arm.

 

They watch him in silence, the open album still between them, pictures scattered all over the place. He moves with a little difficulty, putting the box on the coffee table just with his right arm and a huff.

 

He opens a lid, leaving behind a hand-print in the dust, fishing one of his old All Might toys from the box.

 

“All this stuff.” He says. “From before my quirk— When I was a kid, I dreamt of being as strong as you.”

 

The toy is a bit faded by time, but the brilliant colors are still there.

 

“A childish dream.” Izuku laughs, mirthless. “What could someone as damaged as me could possibly do? There was no hope.”

 

All Might opens his mouth, as if to say something, but Inko puts an hand on his shoulder. He falls silent.

 

“But— But everything changed.” Izuku whispers. “I had no friends, and then I met Miki. I had no quirk, but then Ichiko-san found a way for me— I had no hope, but I met you.”

 

He takes a deep breath.

 

“I understand.” He says. “I think— I think I really understand, now. What it means to be a hero, what it means to be you. And— And it’s scary. But... But all these wonderful people that have changed my life for the better, I want to protect them. I want to protect them with all my strength.”

 

Slowly, Izuku puts the toy down on the box. His eyes are casted low, but then he looks up. He offers his right hand, palms up.

 

“I accept.”

 

When All Might shots up from his seat, covering the distance between he and Izuku in two strides, and squeezes Izuku in a tight hug, Inko can’t hold her tears anymore.

 

Thank you.” He whispers, his voice broken. “Thank you so much—

 

 

Izuku is lying in bed, belly up, his mind heavy and fuzzy, plagued by so many thoughts, when he feels as if a jolt of electricity passed through his spine.

 

One For All is part of him, now.

Chapter Text

“Aizawa, you can’t be serious.”

 

“What, mister I-cough-blood, you scared I might take away your trophy as the most irresponsible teacher of the school?” He replies, turning around.

 

Toshinori deadpans at him. “Very funny. You should be resting, I’m sure principal Nedzu will find a substitute for you—“

 

“Nonsense, I’m ok.”

 

“You look like a mummy.”

 

“And you look like a strong wind might knock you over. As I said, I’m ok.” He ignores Toshinori’s sigh. “How are the students holding up?”

 

“As far as I can tell, hearing from their parents, far better than we thought. Class 1-A is very though.”

 

“Mh—“ Aizawa sniffs. “They told me what your golden boy did. Stubborn brat, that one. Refusing to leave me behind.” He shakes his head with a sigh. “It’s a miracle he made it out alive. You better cram some common sense in that rock-hard head of his, Toshinori, or he’s gonna get himself killed before you can pass down to him One For All.”

 

Toshinori coughs. “Yeah, about that…”

 

Hadn’t Aizawa’s face been covered in bandages, the squint would probably have been more effective. “What?”

 

“Well…”

 

 

Izuku immediately realized something had changed deeply in him, upon arriving at UA.

 

I mean, beside the obvious -it was still hard to believe All Might asked him, of all people, to inherit his powers, but the energy he felt running through his veins assured him it was not a dream, that morning- he noticed immediately than he felt All Might’s presence stronger than anyone else’s. If he had to find a way to explain the feel, it was as if they were two chimes, responding to one another with vibrations.

 

It felt as if All Might was near him, walking with him. And the man was literally on the other side of the school, at the moment.

 

Izuku sighed, carding a hand through his hair. This was something that he needed to discuss with him at the first occasion, for sure.

 

“Midoriya!”

 

Iida’s voice jolted him out of his thoughts and he stopped, letting his classmate catch up to him.

 

“Good morning.” He smiled when Iida’s light was just at his side.

 

“I’m glad to see you well!” Iida says, sincere passion in his voice. “How’s your arm?”

 

“Oh, this—“ He says, tugging at the cast. “I was just about to go to Recovery Girl to take it off.”

 

“Oh, that’s why you arrived so early, this morning.” Iida says, before humming. “Do you want me to walk you there?”

 

“Sure!” Izuku replies, eager to spend some time with his friend.

 

They walk toward the infirmary, chatting. Izuku is surprised to notice how much he missed Iida despite the fact they had not seen each other for just a day.

 

But then again, that is not surprising at all. Iida, and Uraraka, and all their classmates— They were deeply dear to his heart, now.

 

He’d protect them. He’d protect them all.

 

 

They were still chatting animatedly about the hero news of the morning, Izuku leaning on Iida’s desk with both his arms finally free, when the door opened.

 

“Oh—“ Uraraka says, hesitating on the doorway. Izuku blinks, noticing her light shift in embarrassment. “G-Good morning!”

 

“Good morning, Uraraka.” Iida replies in his usual serious tone. “How are you feeling?”

 

“I’m fine, I’m fine!” She says, surpassing them to put her bag down at her desk, right behind Iida’s, before turning to them. “You both ok? At the U.S.J.— It was quite something, huh?”

 

“Call it something—“ Izuku chuckled out, scratching the back of his head. “But I’m fine! Recovery Girl patched me up great, see?” He adds, rotating his left arm while pointing at it with his right hand.

 

Uraraka shifted closer to him, her fingers ghosting on his cheek. “You have a scar under your eye.” She says, quietly.

 

Suddenly, Izuku is painfully, rudely reminded of the fact that she called him “Izuku” at the U.S.J., and blushes furiously.

 

“It’s n-nothing—“ He stammers, just as Uraraka also tenses, probably remembering the same thing.

 

Thankfully, Iida’s obliviousness comes to the save. “I’m truly glad to see you are both healthy. That was quite the worrying ordeal.” He sniffs. “…I was really scared I couldn’t make it in time.”

 

The both turn to Iida, assuring him he did a marvellous job at saving the day, and that they were fine and dandy. Soon, the rest of the class started to trickle in, exchanging greetings, patting Izuku on the shoulder with some “Hey, Midoriya!” and “I’m glad you’re ok!”, and all the embarrassment got shuffled away in the back of his mind.

 

 

Aizawa eyed the boy from behind his bandages.

 

He didn’t seem different at all. Very focused, always taking notes typing away at his braille keyboard, as he usually did.

 

He definitely had something to show for the fight that happened at the U.S.J., though, going by the little scar under his right eye, not much different from the one Aizawa himself gained.

 

Aizawa definitely needed to have a serious chat with him regarding the whole incident, on top of Toshinori going ahead with his own decisions and unleashing One For All on him. For now, though, he had another pressing matter that regarded the entire class.

 

“Don’t worry about me, now.” He replies, when Uraraka expressed concern for his state. “You have other things to think about. After all, the sport festival is approaching.”

 

 

After all the explanations necessary regarding the festival, Aizawa made his way out, stopping on the doorway.

 

“Midoriya, come with me.”

 

The boy snapped out of his seat like a spring, a tense expression on his face. He meekly followed, taking place at his side as they crossed Present Mic on the way out.

 

“Yamada, I need to borrow the boy for a minute.”

 

“No problem, my dude! Don’t take too long, though, ok?”

 

They walked in silence, not far from the class.

 

“Midoriya, are we alone?”

 

The boy blinked, taking a moment to focus. “Yes.”

 

“Ok, let me know right away if someone is approaching.” A sigh. “Listen—“

 

“Sensei, if this is about the U.S.J. I— I’m sorry, I know I should’ve ran when you told me to, but I—“

 

He fell silent when Aizawa held his hand up. “Yes, about the U.S.J… Let’s make something clear. If I give you a order, I expect you to follow it, from now on. Understood?”

 

A contrite expression on his face, Midoriya nods.

 

“Another thing.” Aizawa continues. “I have to say, your quirk could have really helped us avoid all of that, and we came really close to. We were unlucky that that man, Kurogiri, was listening. If it hadn’t been for that, we might have evacuated all of you in time.”

 

Midoriya blinks “What do you mean, sir?”

 

“I mean that, from now on, we will adopt precautions.” Aizawa replies, a hand on his chin. “I don’t expect from you to be able to count everyone in this school on the top of your head, but I want you to come to me right away if you think something is not right. Or, to the closest teacher available, if I’m not there. I will speak to them about this.”

 

“Of course…” Midoriya replies, thoughtful. “I hadn’t thought of that. It might be helpful to also let me know how many people are expected to be there, in future similar situations. That way, I should be able to spot any outlier as soon as possible.”

 

“Now we are thinking in the same way, you little squirt.” Aizawa replies, the boy smiling a bit.

 

“Ok, sensei, I got it! And— I’m sorry, still, for what happened—“

 

“Let’s put that aside, I think you’ve learnt your lesson.” Aizawa interrupts. “There was something else I wanted to speak to you about. Have you already tried to use One For All?”

 

The boy jumped in his skin so hard Aizawa wouldn’t be surprised had he reached the ceiling.

 

“Y… You know?” He asks, eyes wide.

 

“We teachers and principal Nedzu are all informed regarding Toshinori’s situation, and the decision he has come to.”

 

The boy sighs, relieved, a hand on his chest. “Sensei, please, next time maybe start with that. I think I’m having a heart attack.” He says, voice trembling. He coughs, composing himself back. “I— Um, I haven’t tried yet. I only got it yesterday evening, after all—“

 

Aizawa sighs. It’s only a couple of weeks before the sport festival would start, and this poor boy has to deal with a whole new power on top of it all. Goddamn Toshinori and his goddamn spontaneous decisions.

 

“I think you will need to practice as much as you can, Midoriya. I will speak with that blond disgrace you call teacher about it. For now, you are dismissed. Go back to class, before Yamada comes out and destroys my eardrums.”

 

That got a surprised giggle-snort out of Midoriya. “Alright, um— sensei— see you later!”

 

He watched the boy trot back to class, putting his hand in his pockets.

 

There was a lot of work to do.

 

 

Back at his desk, Izuku melted on it with a sigh.

 

Aizawa-sensei certainly gave him a lot to think about. He hadn’t really thought much about what his quirk could mean in situations like the U.S.J., at the moment it had been natural for him to point out the weirdness, but that only happened because Aizawa-sensei already told them how many people were supposed to be there in the first place.

 

If Aizawa-sensei hadn’t done that… Izuku didn’t even want to think about how things could’ve gone.

 

But he was right. His quirk could be extremely helpful in spotting dangers before they had the chance to become so, he absolutely needed to keep that in mind, and to keep his attention up.

 

Also, it was consoling to discover the teachers were all aware of his new situation, but Aizawa-sensei was right about that too: He needed to practice.

 

“Midoriya.” Came Mineta’s whisper from behind him. “Are you ok?”

 

“I’m fine.” He whispered back, turning around with a little smile. “Did I miss something important?

 

“I don’t think so, but I’ll give you my notes later, if you want them!”

 

He nodded, grateful, before forcing himself to pay attention to the lesson.

 

So many things to do.

 

 

“Ok but like, real talk.” Kirishima said right as their break started, sitting on Izuku’s desk. “Midoriya, you gotta tell me how your quirk works.”

 

“Huh?” Izuku replied, very intelligently.

 

“Dude, that whole bit at the U.S.J.? That was insanely cool!” Kirishima explained, pumping his fist the way he did when he was excited. “When you said you saw all that people, and Aizawa-sensei yelled at us to get back? I got a chill running down my spine, man, that was crazy!”

 

At that, Kacchan turned around. Izuku was sure he was trying to dig an hole in him with his eyes.

 

He wasn’t the only one interested, Yaoyorozu approaching him from behind.

 

“I also would like to know, if you don’t mind, Midoriya.” She says, collected. “It was unfortunate that one of them was listening, that could’ve saved us all a lot of grief. I feel like your quirk could have a lot of very useful uses.”

 

“And also, the way you kept finding Aizawa-sensei over and over again, during that test on the first day? You can’t blame us for being curious, dude!” Kaminari interjects, and soon enough pretty much the entire class collected around him, waiting.

 

“Ah, well—“ He hesitates, embarrassed. “It’s a bit hard to explain… But, ok, imagine every living thing has a 'light'. And every light is unique to the individual that posses it. I can sense these lights, at all times, no matter what kind of physical obstacle there’s between me and other people. It’s like a radar, basically.”

 

A chorus of understanding “Oooooh…” followed. Yaoyorozu hums, before asking. “Can you also sense inanimate objects? How far can you go?”

 

“I can feel not biological matter, in a way. It’s like it reflects the light emitted by the living beings around it, so I have a general idea of where everything is. And for the moment I’m capable of sensing for what I think is about a three hundred meters radius, although if I really focus I can expand it. My head doesn’t agree with that very much, though.”

 

“That definitely explains a lot.” Ojiro interjects, in a pensive voice. “Can you also see videos, and other things like that?”

 

Izuku shakes his head. “Video registrations don’t mean anything to me, all I see is the outline of the monitor, and nothing else. I need actual living things around me to make sense of stuff. I also still can’t read, or actually see how you all look like, or do anything that requires sight. By all means, I’m still blind. I just perceive things… Differently.”

 

The atmosphere rapidly changes, turning a bit heavier after that.

 

“Deku.” Izuku jumps at Kacchan’s quiet voice. “For long have you been able to do that?”

 

“… Ten months, give or take.” He replies, cautious.

 

Kacchan only grunts, his voice and his light unreadable as usual.

 

“Wait, you’ve only discovered your quirk ten months ago?” Uraraka asks, surprised.

 

“Yeah, ahahah, funny that— It was a stroke of luck, really—“

 

“Wait a sec—“ Sero pipes up, sounding perplexed. “Does this mean you can feel every single person around you, for three hundred meters?”

 

“Yeah, that’s what I said—“

 

“How can you even think?!”

 

Izuku let out a surprised laugh at that, rapidly followed by the rest of the class, the atmosphere turning much lighter.

 

 

“So, this means you’ve lived pretty much all your life blind.” Iida says, not quite a question.

 

They are on their way to the cafeteria for lunch, the two of them and Uraraka. They were rapidly becoming inseparable.

 

“Iida!” Uraraka says, sounding worried. “That’s a bit blunt, isn’t it?”

 

“Well, it’s the truth.” Izuku replies before Iida can start apologizing. “I’m not offended, really.”

 

Iida let out a little relieved sigh, before saying pensively. “That makes a lot of sense, actually.”

 

“Huh?”

 

“People don’t become as driven and resourceful as you are by living a pampered life.” He continues. “You must have overcome a lot of hurdles.”

 

Izuku’s feet stops before he can realize they did.

 

“Was that… Not ok?” Iida asks, unsure, turning around to face him.

 

“No I… That was quite touching, actually.” Izuku replies, voice low, shuffling his foot nervously. “Thank you, Iida.”

 

A warm hand on his shoulder, gentle. Izuku shakes his head, chasing away the sting in his nose.

 

“Anyway, the sport festival, huh?” He says, cheering the atmosphere a bit. “Sounds exciting!”

 

Something weird happens when he says that. Uraraka light from fondness -she’s fond of him!- turns into a burning ball of ambitions.

 

“The sport festival!” She exclaims. “Let’s give it all, boys!”

 

Both he and Iida blinks, their mouth hanging open.

 

“Um, Uraraka?”

 

 

That’s how he discovers Uraraka’s reasons for wanting to become a hero.

 

“You must think that’s selfish—“ She says, embarrassed, as they wait in line out the cafeteria, but Izuku shakes his head.

 

“Not at all. I think it’s very nice of you, actually, to want to give back to your parents. You shouldn’t feel bad about that at all.”

 

“I agree with Midoriya. Wanting to give your family a more comfortable life it’s as good as a reason as any other.” Iida says, nodding. “I’m sure your parents must be proud of you.”

 

“You guys—“ She mutters, hiding her face into her hands. Izuku grins, happy, and then he feels the little ring of the chimes -as he’d already started to call this new feeling- grow stronger.

 

Unsurprisingly, All Might pops out from behind the corner, asking him to share lunch with him, making Uraraka giggle-snort something about him sounding like a school-girl.

 

He bids his farewell to his classmates, following behind All Might, just catching a last glimpse of Iida and Uraraka’s discussion.

 

“I wonder if All Might is gonna scold him— Since he jumped in during that fight…”

 

“Very likely, Aizawa-sensei probably did the same thing, this morning.”

 

“All Might seems very interested in Midoriya, don’t you think—“

 

Izuku has the distinct impression someone is staring at him, too, but it’s hard to say with all the crowd.

 

He follows All Might.

 

 

After the boy sits down in front of him, he immediately asks.

 

“Do you feel it, too?”

 

Toshinori blinks, not quite sure how to interpret the question.

 

“…I don’t know what you mean?” He replies, honest. Young Midoriya sighs.

 

“That’s what I thought.” He says. “It might be a side effect of my original quirk.”

 

Toshinori starts to pour tea for the both of them, waiting for more.

 

“It’s like, since One For All activated— It’s like I can feel you all the time.”

 

Toshinori blinks.

 

“Imagine two chimes, going back and forth.” The boy explains, his hands waving in front of him. “That’s how it feels. This morning when I arrived, I could feel you as if you were standing right by me, even if you were barely in range of my radar. It only stopped once you got out of it, and started as soon as you were back. It’s— Very hard to explain—“ He was starting to mumble.

 

“I think your guess of this effect being caused by your quirk is about right.” Toshinori says, taking a sip. “Is it very distracting?”

 

“Not at all, actually. It feels very natural.” The boy frowns. “Also, it felt much stronger earlier, when you approached with your All Might form. It was as if the energy of your One For All was trying to wake the energy of mine. It’s very hard to put into words—“

 

“I think you’ve explained yourself quite well, all things considered. This is a curious side effect, indeed.” Toshinori considers, surprise in his voice. “I’m at least glad that it’s not distracting for you, that could’ve been a real problem. What a situation…”

 

“Well, let’s put this on the ever growing list of surprises in my life, I guess.” Young Midoriya chuckles, picking up his part of the food. “Anyway, I guess you wanted to tell me something?”

 

Toshinori coughs. “Actually, yes. I spoke with Aizawa.”

 

There’s a sardonic smile on the boy’s face, as if he knows exactly the choice of words Aizawa had for him. “And?”

 

“He has been so… Kind as to point out to me some glaring issues in our current situation.” Toshinori elaborates, much more polite than Aizawa had been to him. “And I found myself agreeing with him. So… I know I ask much of you, my boy, and I hope you will forgive me for this, but I was wondering if you’d be up to stay after school for a few days, and let us help you try to gain at least a bit of control over One For All before the sport festival.”

 

“You kidding?! Of course I’d like to stay!” The boy replies immediately, full of enthusiasm.

 

Ah, to be fifteen years old again…

 

“I’m glad to hear that. I will speak with your mother about it in the afternoon, hopefully she will give us permission to start right away.”

 

 

Inko’s long sigh almost perforates Toshinori’s eardrum through the phone.

 

You are a terrible, terrible man, mister.” She says, not a trace of venom in her voice. “I better get my son back all in one piece after these extra sessions, you hear?!

 

“Yes, m’am!” He dutifully replies, resisting the temptation to make a little salute.

 

 

Young Midoriya tried his damn best to try put Toshinori in trouble right away, when he tried to throw a punch with One For All activated and proceeded to break his arm in three different points.

 

 

Fortunately, Recovery Girl was able to patch him up right away, not without giving them a piece of her mind, loudly and at lengths.

 

“This will be the last time! The next, you will need to wait longer for your wounds to heal, young man.” She said, as she pushed them out of her infirmary “I can’t be putting this much stress on your body all the time, alright?”

 

She slammed the door behind them, young Midoriya scratching embarrassed at the back of his head.

 

“I’m sorry…” He muttered, before turning his face up to him. “…Are you thinking about something?”

 

“Yes.” Toshinori exhaled. “All the women I meet are very fearsome, and I’m scared for my life.”

 

That got a laugh out of young Midoriya, at least.

 

 

“Ok, clearly this isn’t working, so I’ll take it from here.” Aizawa said, once they’d returned to the training room with Midoriya’s arm in one piece again. “ Clench your butt and scream from the bottom of your heart… I don’t even know from where you get this stuff from…” He added, in a desperate sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“That’s… That’s how it works for me, though…” Toshinori replies, weakly.

 

“Midoriya, how it felt when you activated One For All?” Aizawa asks, ignoring him.

 

The boy puts an hand under his chin, frowning. “…Weird.” He finally says after a few seconds. “I could feel the energy in my arm, but it was very hard to control, like it didn’t belong to me…”

 

“Which is obvious, by the end result.” Aizawa finishes for him. “This is where we have to work at. Your original quirk, has it ever felt the same way? For my understanding you are also capable of turning it on and off at will, right?”

 

“No, it never felt like that.” Young Midoriya blinks, like he realized something. “I can control it just fine with very little effort, unless I need to focus to widen my radius, but even then it feels natural. Nothing like One For All.”

 

“Well, this is it, then.” Aizawa says, rolling a long plastic stick -one of those used to point something on a blackboard- in his hands. “We will need to make One For All feel natural for you, part of you. This way, you should be able to control it without breaking every single bone in your body.”

 

“But… How do we do that?” The boy replies, frowning. “I don’t even know where to start!”

 

“That’s were this air-head should step in and think of something.” Aizawa says, hitting Toshinori on the head with the stick. At least that answer his unasked question of what he needed the stick for. “Any suggestion, big guy?”

 

Toshinori sighs. “You’re a much better teacher than me, Aizawa.” He says, sounding regretful. “You immediately went for the root of the problem. Had this been up to me alone, I’d have no idea where to start myself.”

 

“That’s why I offered in the first place.” Twack twack goes the stick. “Now put that brain to good use and think. I’ll keep Midoriya busy with something that won’t destroy his body, in the meantime.”

 

Toshinori spent the rest of the time they were allowed sitting with his back against the wall, trying to think on how to help young Midoriya gain better control over One For All, as he observed he and Aizawa going through a routine of slow movements, the boy keeping One For All activated in his various limbs as much as possible.

 

At the end of the evening he didn’t had much to show, but at least the boy didn’t break any more bones.

 

 

As it has happened often already, it’s young Midoriya himself that finally comes to his aid.

 

Their second day hadn’t gone much better. Toshinori tried to give him some suggestions, but none seemed to work. They didn’t push it too much, trying to avoid more bone-shattering.

 

At the start of their third day of extra curricular activities, Midoriya entered the room with a pensive expression.

 

“I think I might have an idea.” He said. But upon he and Aizawa inviting him to go on, he hesitated.

 

“I… I might be wasting your time with this.” The boy says, frowning. “I mean, literally wasting your time.”

 

“What do you mean?” Toshinori blinks.

 

“Can you transform? Just for a bit— I need to confirm something—“

 

Toshinori had exchanged a look with Aizawa, who shrugged.

 

He complies with the boy’s suggestion, watching him close his eyes and take a deep breath.

 

The boy stayed like this, silent, for what felt like an eternity, before slowly opening his eyes.

 

“… I think this might be it.” He murmurs.

 

“Care to enlighten us?” Aizawa asks, tilting an eyebrow.

 

Rapidly, young Midoriya brought Aizawa up to speed with the little side affected that had presented itself once One For All had activated for him.

 

“You told me you felt it stronger when I was transformed.” Toshinori intervenes, the dots connecting in his mind. “You said that you felt as if my One For All was trying to activate yours.”

 

Midoriya nodded, a smile appearing on his face.

 

“I think— If I can concentrate on that feeling, on how natural it feels for you, maybe everything will click.” He says, clearly trying to reign in his enthusiasm. “I’m sorry for having to ask such a selfish thing, but this is the best shot I can give, I think—“

 

“Say no more, my boy. This seems like a good solution. Let’s do it.”

 

Aizawa was silent, looking at the both of them. Then his eyes set on Toshinori, squinting. “…And you didn’t think to use that in the first place?” A sigh. “What would you even do without us—“

 

“…Probably not much.” Toshinori admits, good-naturedly.

 

 

They go with that, in the end.

 

Toshinori’s time is very limited, but he pushes it a bit. Aizawa is keeping a close eye on the both of them. He doesn’t want Toshinori to go overboard, ready to activate his quirk on him would he notice something amiss. Wanting to give Midoriya a chance to figure things out is all fine and dandy, but it shouldn’t come to a detriment to his own health.

 

Also, Aizawa knows Midoriya would never forgive himself if he ended up the reason of Toshinori possibly losing even more time. The teenage angst would know no bound.

 

Speaking of which, Midoriya has spent a long time simply sitting in front of Toshinori, his eyes closed, clearly very focused. Neither of them dared speak a single word, not wanting to break the boy’s concentration.

 

He suddenly opens his eyes and jumps up, stretching his arms. “Ok.” He says, huffing. “I think I got it.”

 

And with that, a series of literal lightning seems to go through his body as the boy tightens his fists, gritting his teeth with a grunt.

 

“Oooh!” Toshinori says, smiling. “Yes, perfect! Just like that!”

 

The boy is shivering, sweat collecting in beads on his skin. His eyes twitch, before he releases, panting, the light that surrounded his body disappearing. He leans down a bit, putting his hands on his knees as he catches his breath.

 

“That’s… Very… Hard…” He pants.

 

Aizawa pats his back with a grin. “Step one, kiddo.” He says. “Now we know where to start.”

 

 

They hadn’t done very much progresses, in Izuku’s mind, but when he expressed the thought to All Might, the man admonished him.

 

“If you ask someone that has never jogged in their life to run a ten kilometres marathon, how do you think they are going to do?” He replied. “Don’t be so hard on yourself. You’ve done a lot already. It’s regrettable that we didn’t had more time to prepare before the festival, but you’ve already made a lot of progress, if you ask me. For how little you think it is, progress it’s still progress.”

 

Izuku accepted the compliments, silent.

 

They were standing in the backstage of the stadium where the sport festival would take place, All Might wanting to give some last words before he would join the rest of the class in the waiting room.

 

“Young Midoriya, I want you to go out there and tell the world that you have arrived.” All Might says, putting a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Tell… The world?”

 

“Yes. Show everyone what you are made of. Always go for to the highest point, never for second best. That’s what will make the difference between victory and defeat.” All Might added, before saying in a lower voice. “…Also please try not to overdo it with One For All, for now, ok?”

 

“That seems kind of countering the whole 'show the world' thing, don’t you think?” Izuku laughed, unable to help himself.

 

“I guess you are right.” All Might had conceded, amused. “But if you break something, your mother will skin me alive, and I kind of like my skin where it is.”

 

Izuku let out another long laugh, holding his belly.

 

 

Then once in the waiting room, Todoroki thrown him the gauntlet and well…

 

All Might told him to never go for second best, hadn’t he?

Chapter Text

 

The festival started with a ceremony, the first placed at the exam for heroics invited to make a statement.

 

Of course Kacchan had to put all of them in the spotlight with that harsh, rude declaration, as if the other classes weren’t already pretty antagonised in their regards.

 

But as Kacchan passed near him, his light strangely still, not giving him a word, Izuku knew what Kacchan said was just a different way to put what All Might himself asked him to do.

 

Never go for second best.

 

He was going to give it all.

 

 

The start of their first trial, the obstacle race, is chaos.

 

Voices and lights all around him, tossing him around. He focuses on the position of the lights, finding himself an opening and sprinting through it. He sees Todoroki at the head, clearly using his ice to obstruct others.

 

Most of his classmates were keeping up, using their respective quirks, the race already turning in a competition between the sole members of class 1-A. They are quickly closing the gap, when Present Mic enthusiastic voice announces the very first obstacle.

 

The same robots from the exams.

 

Izuku sees them, towering, and as he’s quickly trying to think how to get past them without wasting time, when he notices Todoroki acting, his ice quickly stopping the robots.

 

“He’s opened a path, we can go through!” Someone nearby exclaims.

 

But Izuku knows it’s not the case. The position the robots are frozen in, they are just about to go down and create more of an obstacle. Todoroki had thought about it all.

 

Izuku knows he only has one way. He activates One For All.

 

I’m sorry, All Might!

 

 

Shouto turns around just a bit, catching a glimpse of the race behind him.

 

As he predicted, the robots are now blocking the path. He accelerates, wanting to get as much of an advantage over the others as possible. He knows his classmates won’t let themselves be stopped by something as silly as a bunch of robots.

 

UHOOOO!” Comes Present Mic’s voice, as he narrates the race. “What a surprise! Midoriya of 1-A has made a super-jump, soaring above the robots! And he’s not the only one!

 

Shouto’s heart shots up in his throat, and he turns around frantically.

 

Present Mic wasn’t seeing things. Midoriya is flying over the robots, teeth clenched. He rapidly descends, rolling on the ground in a kind of ungraceful landing, completely unscathed, and doesn’t waste any time, right back on his feet in hot pursuit. Bakugou, yelling something he cannot quite hear, follows rapidly, Sero and Tokoyami right behind him as well.

 

What?! How?!

 

 

Toshinori cannot help but put a palm on his face in a sigh. The boy had easily jumped over those fifteen-something meters robots, even sticking a semi-decent landing by rolling without losing speed and resuming his run as soon as he balanced back on his feet, and Present Mic is doing a great job of pointing the spotlight right to that, the crowd already going insane.

 

So much for not overdoing it.

 

“Oh boy…”

 

 

Izuku’s breath is already getting pretty short.

 

Fatigue is his worst enemy, at the moment. He’s very glad he had achieved the jump, but controlling One For All, even in just short bursts, takes a ton of energy out of him. He could try for a dash, close the distance between him and Todoroki, but he’d rather save his strength, for now, not knowing which obstacle will come next.

 

Kacchan is right behind him, too, closing in. He heard him yell “WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK” when he jumped, which was pretty understandable and almost a under-reaction, considering his standards.

 

Then he sees it, in the distance— It looks like a giant pit, a series of rock formations connected by cables. An equilibrium test.

 

Todoroki hastily makes his way there, using his ice to slide easily from rope to rope. Izuku considers his options— He could -probably- try to cut his time by jumping from rock formation to rock formation… But will he have enough energy left to finish the race after that?

 

He cannot risk collapsing before the end. Choosing the safe option, he’s the second to the ropes that starts to make his way over, but he’s soon reached, and surpassed, by Kacchan, putting it all in his explosions to soar over the obstacle.

 

He’s a little over three quarters of the pit, when the rest of the group catches up. He has to keep his third position, and then claim the first. Absolutely.

 

If I finish my energies, then it means I’ll have to find more! He thinks as he activates One For All again, and closes the final part of the pit with another big jump.

 

Todoroki and Kacchan are not too far from him. He can still do it.

 

The three in the lead are almost to the last obstacle! The Mine Fieeeeeld!!!” Present Mic yells.

 

A mine field?! Izuku can see the position of each mine perfectly, lucky him!

 

Todoroki is already there, carefully making his way through. Kacchan is flying again closing the distance between them. He can hear him yell something he cannot quite make out just as he’s entering the field himself.

 

OOOH! Midoriya is not slowing down a bit! Is this a suicidal tactic?!” Present Mic yells, excitement through the roof.

 

Todoroki and Kacchan, that were fighting between themselves, turn around, their lights turning surprised. He’s sprinting through the field, knowing exactly where to put his feet. The distance between himself and the two leads is shorter and shorter.

 

“WHAT THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE DOING, YOU SHITTY DEKU?!”

 

WINNING.” The word is out of his mouth before he even realizes, a roar, a declaration, scratching at his throat.

 

He feels as if he’s bleeding his energy, but he sees it, the last stretch, he can’t give up now—

 

He activates One For All one last time, and dashes

 

Who could’ve imagined this when the trial began?!” Present Mic sounds almost insane. “The very first man to make it through the finish line—

 

Izuku literally rolls through the gate, having lost his balance just an instant prior, the roar of the crowd deafening.

 

MIDORIYAAAAA IZUKUUUUU!!!”

 

 

 

Shouto manages to cut second place by a millimetre, suspecting the only thing that distracted Bakugou from claiming it himself was the shock of seeing Midoriya shoot right in front of them like a lighting bolt.

 

Midoriya has climbed back on his feet as he and Bakugou arrived, positively drenched in sweat that he’s trying to dry away from his forehead with his wrist, his other hand on his knee for support. He’s panting heavily, drops of sweat rolling on his face, falling down from his chin.

 

Present Mic is going absolutely insane, as is the crowd, roaring all around them.

 

“What—“ Shouto turns to Bakugou. He’s literally trembling with rage. “What the fuck happened there—“

 

Midoriya doesn’t answer. He stands straight, turning his head to the sky, takes a deep breath.

 

When he turns to look at them, his entire expression conveys nothing other than a open, silent challenge.

 

 

Aizawa smiles to himself.

 

The kid has gone and finally bared his teeth. He was worried his gentle nature would play against him, make him afraid of fighting against his more competitive-spirited classmates.

 

But no. He fought, and claimed the victory, facing capable, confident individuals such as Bakugou and Todoroki, snarling right back at them.

 

He sure went and took a bite, that brat.

 

Toshinori was probably having an heart attack, somewhere in the stadium.

 

 

Izuku is doing his best to relax, trying to channel some strength back into himself. He has no idea what the next challenge will be, nor for how long he will be able to catch his breath, raise some stamina up.

 

Todoroki and Kacchan were far, now, having turned away from him when he looked at them with a confidence he only half-felt.

 

But still, despite his frail nerves, he did want to win.

 

“Midoriya…?”

 

He turns, blinking. “Uraraka—“

 

“That…” She starts, voice low, before continuing. “…Was… AMAZING!!! How did you do that?! I had no idea you could do something like that!”

 

Her enthusiasm is contagious as she jumps up and down, and he laughs, embarrassed, scratching at the back of his head.

 

Now, now, no time to stand around!” Professor Midnight’s voice comes through the mic. “We have to move to the next challenge, which iiiiisss…

 

A moment of silence, before she declares “The human cavalry battle!

 

She rapidly explain the rules and the point system. Izuku’s mind is already going at full speed, conjuring a plan that would assure him victory—

 

—There’s an exception! The first place, whose head will be worth TEN MILLION POINTS!

 

Midnight’s voice cuts right through his thought, rudely dragging him back to earth.

 

Oh sh—

 

 

Toshinori pulls at his tie, nervous.

 

The boy did brilliantly during the first trial -maybe even a bit too much, considering he told him to don’t overdo it with One For All…- and was now paying the consequences. It was hard to tell from so far away, but he could swear the boy paled upon hearing the words “ten million points”. An understandable reaction.

 

How are you going to get yourself out of trouble, now, my boy?

 

 

Izuku’s mind was working feverishly, as he pulled at his lower lip.

 

Only 15 minutes to conjure a plan. In truth, he already had a killer combo in mind, but it seemed everyone was giving him a wide berth. He couldn’t be sure they would actually accept to risk so much, considering the price on his head…

 

“Midoriya, let’s team up.”

 

“Oh, thank god—“ Izuku let out, the most relieved he had been in life, turning.

 

Uraraka chuckles. “I much rather team up with a friend. Besides, I’m sure you already have a plan in mind.”

 

“I do, and it included you in the first place.”

 

She chuckles again. “So, who’s next?”

 

 

Iida seemed impressed by his reasoning, that’s why it came the more as a surprise when he refused.

 

“You’re amazing, and a good friend, that’s more the reason for me to don’t accept.” He said, dead serious. “You keep going forward, and if I all I do is follow, I will never grow myself. Todoroki and Bakugou… They are not the only ones that want to beat you.”

 

It stung, but Izuku could understand and respect Iida’s decision. Still, his foolproof plan had already crumbled.

 

Thankfully, Hatsume Mei, from the department of support, approached them, giving him a new, fresh idea.

 

His lucky star must be shining bright, he decided, when Tokoyami accepted his proposition immediately.

 

They still had a chance.

 

 

The battle had been brutal.

 

They were managing, thankfully, a nice mix between Uraraka’s quirk, Hatsume’s gadgets, Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow and Izuku’s own ability to perceive the dangers from different angles.

 

At some point Kaminari attacked, putting a glaring flaw in their defense right under Izuku’s eyes.

 

Tokoyami briefly explained the limits of his Dark Shadow, Izuku’s mind trying to find a way to work around it. They were still hanging to the ten million points, but as the clock ticked by everyone was more and more out for blood.

 

They were facing Todoroki’s group, now, Iida at the helm. Izuku realized Todoroki wouldn’t use his fire side long ago. There was something strange about it, in the way he kept stifling half of himself, half of his light.

 

Izuku had no idea what his reasons were, and at the moment he did not care. It was a weakness, and he was going to use it to his advantage. They managed to defend their points, the seconds going by fast.

 

Todoroki’s light grew jittery, he must’ve realized that Izuku knew.

 

At a minute from the end, something weird happened.

 

Iida’s light suddenly turned brighter, as if he was collecting all his strength—

 

The ten million points band was off his forehead before he could realize.

 

No

 

“Let’s go after them!” He yelled.

 

“I can’t attack if Kaminari is with them— We should target someone else—“ Tokoyami protested.

 

“We don’t have time, this is our only chance!” Izuku replied. “I will take it back! I promise!”

 

“Go—!” Suddenly, Uraraka was pushing them forward. “I believe in you, Midoriya!”

 

He had to do it, this is were not just his points, but the points of the whole team as well.

 

He activated One For All.

 

GO!

 

 

Shouto was still surprised by Iida’s secret move when he turned around, breath itching in his throat.

 

Midoriya was already on him, his teeth bared, his arm stretched out. There was something strange to him, almost like a glow surrounding him.

 

Instincts kicked in and Shouto raised his arm, encased in ice, sure to be able to defend against Midoriya—

 

The strength that broke the surface level of the ice as Midoriya easily moved his arm out of the way came as a shock. And yet, it also felt somehow familiar

 

Shouto raised his left arm, flames rising out of him, he hesitated—

 

No, he would not use it—

 

Midoriya grabbed the band.

 

 

They had the band. They had the band.

 

The seconds finished ticking, Midnight loudly counting down with the crowd. Izuku was panting after that last burst of One For All, clutching at the fabric in a tight fist. They put enough distance between Todoroki’s group, they should be safe, there was not enough time for them to catch up and try take it back—

 

“M… Midoriya…” Uraraka whispers. “That’s not… The ten million band…”

 

Izuku’s heart dropped to his stomach.

 

… AND ZERO! Now, let’s see the four teams that will pass to the last trial! At first place, obviously, we have team Todoroki!

 

No—

 

Second place, team Bakugou! Third place team… Shinsou?

 

No, he couldn’t have failed like this—

 

And last, in fourth place, team Midoriya!

 

Huh?

 

Tokoyami approached him, his voice gentle. “I tried to take the ten million but well, I think we can settle with this one. Thanks to you, Todoroki’s guard was totally open, so I managed to snatch the band on his head.”

 

Izuku feels like he could cry. He’s pretty sure his eyes must be a little wet. “Tokoyami… I could kiss you right now.”

 

When Tokoyami chuckles, amused, there’s a note Izuku cannot quite pinpoint in his voice. “I think that would be rather difficult, but I appreciate the sentiment.”

 

 

When he approached him during the lunch break, Todoroki’s light was full of nervousness.

 

“Midoriya.” He said. “Come with me. There’s something I need to ask you.”

 

He guided him away, silent, his light suggesting he was stifling his nervousness. They stopped in an empty corridor exiting to the outside, a gentle breeze finding its way in.

 

Despite having told him that, Todoroki had yet to say anything as they watched each other from opposite sides.

 

“I felt something weird during that last fight.” Todoroki finally says, quietly. “You surprised me so much that I almost broke my promise. The strength you showed… The feel of that hit… It was almost like…”

 

Todoroki falls silent once more, before sighing. “…It doesn’t matter. Still, All Might is clearly very interested in you, isn’t he?”

 

Izuku couldn’t manage to hide a little flinch.

 

“I, well, I don’t know, that seems kind of a stretch—“ He replies, nervous. “He’s just a good teacher—“

 

“No.” Todoroki interrupts him, voice low but firm. “There’s something between you two, I can tell. I would honestly not care under different circumstances, but if you are connected to the number one hero, then I need to beat you.”

 

Izuku blinks, confused.

 

“You must know of my father, the number two hero. Endeavor. Did you knew that for years he has desperately tried to raise to the podium? But no matter what he did, he could never match up to a legend like All Might. So, he concocted a plan.”

 

“Todoroki, I’m not sure why you are telling me all this—“

 

“Midoriya, you are aware of quirk marriages, right?”

 

The story that Todoroki told him after that, could only leave Izuku’s blood freezing in his veins in horror.

 

 

“You are not very good at listening, aren’t you?”

 

Of course the boy doesn’t jump, considering he has pretty much turned into an All Might human radar. Still, he laughs nervously as he turns around to him.

 

“I know you told me not to overdo it…” He says. “But well, you also told me to always shot for the highest point, sssooo…”

 

Toshinori sighs, amused. This boy will be the death of him. “Aizawa is right, your head really is hard as a rock.” He says, putting an hand to the boy’s head and shaking, mussing his hair. “You did good, my boy. I’m especially happy that you are looking out for me by not breaking anything. Please keep it that way.”

 

The boy chuckles, carding his hands through his hair to give it some resemblance of order back. Soon enough, though, a serious expression falls to his face.

 

“All Might.”

 

“Mh?”

 

“What would you do if you knew someone is in deep trouble, but you are also facing this person as your enemy? What is the right thing to do?”

 

Toshinori weights the question in his mind. It’s clear the boy is coming from somewhere specific with this.

 

What that somewhere is, he has no idea.

 

“I think I would follow what my heart says in that moment.” He replies after a while, cautious.

 

The answer seems to satisfy him, when he nods with a confident expression.

 

“Now go.” Toshinori says, nudging young Midoriya gently. “I will be watching you.”

 

He watches the boy go, feeling tense. If he wins, chances are he will have to face Todoroki in the next turn, and after his little chat with Endeavor a few minutes prior, he has no idea what to expect from young Todoroki anymore.

 

Hopefully, everything would turn out for the best.

 

 

 

As life is, young Midoriya ends up finally breaking something.

 

Toshinori had been watching him, panicking, as the boy walked with a blank expression right towards the border of the ring. Then he suddenly stopped, something unreadable on his face, his eyes going wide.

 

And then he had gone tense, his back arching, a shot of energy going through him, a choked moan of pain escaping his lips, his left hand twitching, a sudden pressure rising a strong wind that invested the crowd—

 

His fingers were broken. And yet, that seemed  to be exactly what he needed, shaking out of his stupor. His right hand shot at his mouth, sweat collecting on his pale face.

 

He turned, facing young Shinsou, that seemed very taken aback. And then young Midoriya charged, the two boys scuffled for a bit, but it soon became obvious that Midoriya hand-to-hand ability was superior, as he finally flipped young Shinsou out of the ring, claiming his victory.

 

Young Shinsou’s quirk certainly was impressive. That was a close call, and Recovery Girl won’t be happy, but at least the boy had taken one more step forward.

 

 

He watches the boy, his dead serious face, as Recovery Girl takes care of his fingers. He asked him what happened, how he managed to shake away the mind control, but young Midoriya had yet to answer.

 

“I saw something weird.” He finally says, thoughtfully, stretching his hand once the bones healed. “When I almost walked off the ring— I saw people. I think… I think they might’ve been—”

 

Toshinori blinks as the boy nervously hesitates, his mouth opening and closing mutely a couple of time.

 

“I… Like, actually saw people. Their faces, I mean—I think I know who they are— And—“ His voice is trembling. “I didn’t recognize any of them, but—“

 

Suddenly he jumps on his feet, coming closer to Toshinori. He stretches his hands up towards him with a little frown.

 

“Lean down a bit, please.”

 

“What?” Toshinori can’t help but ask.

 

“Lean down a bit. Please.” The boy repeats.

 

Confused by the deep seriousness of his voice, Toshinori silently obeys. Midoriya closes his eyes as his hands gently close around Toshinori’s hollow cheeks. His fingers slowly explore Toshinori’s features. His index fingers follows the line of Toshinori’s eyebrows, his thumb on Toshinori’s nose. He takes a while, before finally taking them away.

 

Young Midoriya turns his face down towards his open palms. His hands close into fists, that he brings against his chest with a shuddering breath.

 

“I know how you look like, now.” He whispers, the brightest of smiles opening on his lips as he turns his face back up to him.

 

 

“He saw you, huh…“

 

Toshinori heart it’s still going a mile a minute. Young Midoriya bid them farewell cheerfully, telling them he was going to observe the other fights, leaving him alone with Recovery Girl.

 

“He seemed really happy about it, too.” She continues.

 

“Can you blame him?” Toshinori had never seen a smile like that on the boy’s face. He kind of wanted to print out the mental image, and frame it, if only had he the possibility to do that… “Considering his situation…”

 

“Mh.” She sniffs. “Take care of yourself. You don’t want to go and break that boy’s heart, now, do you.”

 

Toshinori closes his eyes with a long sigh.

Chapter Text

Izuku feels like he’s not walking as much as he’s skipping three meters above ground.

 

That vision he experienced had been so weird and scary at first. But understanding of what he was looking at had come to him right away, and for once it had been so refreshing to see faces, even if he would never know most of the people behind them. Real faces.

 

And being able to finally put one to All Might’s normal form— Izuku was so lucky.

 

“Midoriya!”

 

He slides on the seat by Uraraka and Iida, knowing he had a huge grin on his face.

 

“Wow, you look really happy!” She comments, a smile in her voice.

 

“You really gave us a scare down there, before, Midoriya.” Iida adds. “Is your hand fine?”

 

“Ahahah, yeah—“ He laughs, embarrassed. “Pretty stupid of me to fall for it, eh? Thankfully I managed to shake the control off just in time— My hand’s fine, Recovery Girl took care of it!” He pokes at his still bandaged hand. It feels a bit a tingly, but it doesn’t hurt. “Did I miss the battle?”

 

“No, Todoroki and Sero are just about to begin.” Uraraka says, her voice turning a bit serious. He hears the rustle of clothes as she sits a bit straighter. “I wonder if Sero has a plan.”

 

“Todoroki is quite the fearsome rival, but we of 1-A are pretty accustomed to his fighting style. I’m sure Sero must’ve thought of something to counter him.”

 

Izuku leans a bit over the railing, hands on the cool metal. Present Mic is just about to claim the start of the fight.

 

Todoroki’s lights has a nervous stillness to it. Like he’s trying his best not to shiver. Izuku can’t help but think about what Todoroki told him, and his good mood rapidly slides away from him.

 

As soon as the start is given, Sero shoots forward with a surprising speed, not losing a second with his attack. Iida makes a little surprised gasp by him, as Uraraka cheerfully exclaims “Way to go, Sero!”

 

Then Todoroki’s light explodes.

 

Izuku manages just in time to lean back and avoid the ice that would’ve definitely hit him right in the face had he not moved. Silence falls on the crowd. And then voices start to raise, kind, telling Sero to don’t mind too much, that he gave his best.

 

Izuku watches, as Todoroki’s light stops the nervous shivers, and then a deep-sedated sadness takes its place while Todoroki starts to melt down his own creation.

 

Izuku’s stomach gives a painful churn, finding in that sadness a familiar feeling he had not felt for a long while.

 

 

Ochako had been silently watching.

 

Iida left a bit ago since it was almost his turn and it was just her and Midoriya now.

 

He was giving her such a mood whiplash!

 

When he first joined them, Midoriya had the look of someone who just won the lottery. For whichever reason, she had no idea, but it was nice to see him so happy. But then, after the fight between Todoroki and Sero -if you could call it that-, Midoriya looked like someone killed a puppy right in front of him, pale as if he was about to be sick. And then he shook himself out of whatever funk he had fallen into, fishing his recorder from his pocket and started recording vocal notes in the usual muttering, during the fight between Kaminari and the girl from 1-B, Shiozaki.

 

Midoriya had been a constant source of surprises ever since they’d met at the exam, but today he surely was going overboard with it, between all this strange moodiness and the crazy way he run in the obstacle race. -and seriously, how did he even do that. This guy, she swears.-

 

Ochako sighed, a small, lopsided smile on her face. Of all the people she had to fall for…

 

“You are already forming strategies, right?” She asks after Midoriya stops his recorder, taking a deep breath.

 

He seems embarrassed by that, a bit of red rising to his cheek. “You noticed, eh?” He says, his head leaning on a side. “Yeah I like to keep tabs on everything. I have notes about everyone—“

 

“Even me?” She asks with a little grin, and Midoriya blushes even more. He was fun to poke at.

 

“Actually yeah—“ He stammers. “I have a ton of notes about our entire class…”

 

Ochako closes her eyes, taking a deep breath. “You are really giving it all, today.” She says in a low voice. “You’re always working hard, but today… Sometimes I feel like I will never catch up to you.”

 

Midoriya’s face turns serious, his fingers tightening around the recorder. “You don’t have to catch up to me, I— I think you are perfect the way you are—“

 

Ochako’s heart does a little somersault. She mentally slaps herself.

 

She’s here to become a hero, she better damn focus on her objective.

 

Still, a bit of fun doesn’t hurt, as she pokes with her index finger on Midoriya’s cheek. “So what, only the boys are allowed to be competitive?” She asks in a fake offended tone.

 

“NO! That’s not what I meant at all—!”

 

She cannot help but laugh at Midoriya’s frantic gestures, and after a couple of seconds he splutters, before joining her.

 

 

Right after Iida’s -a bit embarrassing, poor Iida…- match, Uraraka gets up and leaves without a word.

 

Izuku follows her light with his head, worried. Soon enough will be her turn, and she will be matched against Kacchan.

 

He sighs. That’s the worse possible match. He distractedly observes the rest of the fights, thinking.

 

There must be something he could do to help…

 

 

When he enters the waiting room, both Uraraka and Iida are there.

 

“Oh, Midoriya.” Iida says as he enters. “I was just wondering… Surely Bakugou will be a little gentler against a female opponent—“

 

Izuku immediately replies with a decisive “Nope.”

 

Iida seems to deflate a bit, at that. Izuku gives him a little lopsided smile, before approaching the table where Uraraka was sitting.

 

“Listen, Uraraka…”

 

Her face is turned up to him, silent. He can feel her energy, a touch -a big touch- of fear, but also… A lot of resolution, a burning need to do better.

 

Izuku came here with the intention to speak with her, suggest her a plan he thought of during the previous matches, but now he finds himself faltering.

 

When Uraraka asked him if only the boys were allowed to be competitive she seemed to be mostly joking… And yet, he knew there was a touch of truth in that.

 

He’d been an idiot, and so unfair to her.

 

“Kacchan, he— He wants to climb on that number one podium.” He says, instead. “He will give it all, no matter who he has in front of him. Everyone is. And I— I believe you can do it, if you give it all, too.”

 

At that she lets out a little, surprised gasp.

 

“Uraraka, you are smart and talented.” Izuku continues with passion. “It’s true that Kacchan is super strong, but so what? You are strong too and I— I wanted you to know I firmly believe in you. I know you can beat him, if you put all of yourself into battle.”

 

Silence follows his declaration, and then Uraraka stands, in front of him.

 

“Midoriya, give me your fist.”

 

“Huh?”

 

She takes his right hand, closing the fingers into a fist, leaving his hand hovering in front of him. Then she bumps it with her own.

 

“I will see you in the final.” She says, not a touch of doubt in her voice.

 

Izuku grins.

 

 

“Oh, no—“ Iida whispers near him.

 

The battle is brutal, his classmates muttering between themselves of how unbalanced the situation is.

 

As he predicted, Kacchan is not holding back. That seems to come as a surprise to most, but certainly not to Izuku. He has know him long enough.

 

But Uraraka… That plan seems more risky, but honestly, it’s probably much better than what Izuku himself thought of in the first place.

 

“Don’t look away, Iida.” Izuku says, quietly.

 

“You seem rather calm, Midoriya.” Iida replies, almost reproaching.

 

“Trust me. Don’t look away.” Izuku continues, his eyes firmly on the ring. “Uraraka has an ace up her sleeve you haven’t noticed yet.”

 

He can feel Iida’s confusion, and just a few instants after comes the voice of Aizawa-sensei through the mic, scolding the crowd like he does with his students.

 

He has recognised the strength of his opponent, that is way he will not let his guard down.

 

“Go, Uraraka.” Izuku whispers, fingers tight on the railing.

 

 

In the end, despite her best efforts, it’s all for naught.

 

Izuku sighs deeply. Everyone had been very impressed once they finally noticed what Uraraka was doing, but Kacchan… He simply was too strong.

 

Uraraka had done great, shown everyone what she is made of. But he knows that it is not enough for her, that she will be disappointed with herself.

 

He knows, because he’d feel the same way, too.

 

Silent he gets out of his seat, getting back down to the inside corridors of the stadium. He’s mumbling to himself, trying to think of something to say to cheer her up, when a familiar voice behind him stops him in his tracks.

 

“Hey, shithead.”

 

Izuku turns around just barely.

 

“I bet you put that crazy suicidal plan in her head, didn’t you?” Kacchan asks between his teeth. “Stop trying to throw wrenches in my way, you little—“

 

“I didn’t tell her anything.” Izuku replies, voice levelled. “If you felt an obstacle in your way… That was Uraraka’s doing.”

 

That seems to shut him up. Izuku keeps walking.

 

 

As he stands outside the waiting room once more, Izuku knows that there are no words that he can really say to her. Her light is so disappointed, so crushed, so humiliated—

 

Izuku wouldn’t want anyone to see him like this, would he be in her place.

 

He turns, walking down the corridor instead. He will tell her how proud he is once the time is right. And as destiny wills, he ends up walking into the person he had most recently learned how to despise, once he turns a corner.

 

Endeavor’s light is as hot as his quirk is, a burning core of resentment, ambition, and self-confidence. Izuku wondered who he could be for barely a second, before Endeavor spoke.

 

“Oh, it’s you.” He says, unimpressed.

 

Izuku turns his head up, frowning and silent.

 

“You made quite a show, in that first match.” Endeavor continues. “The pressure you exerted with a single finger, that raw power— Now, something like that seems wasted on someone like you.”

 

The contempt in his voice clamps like a vice around Izuku’s heart. How fast he got used to being considered an equal, rather than a dead-weight.

 

Not that it surprises him that someone that would abuse their own son in the way Todoroki described to him would also consider someone like Izuku as a second-class individual.

 

“My Shouto has a duty to fulfil, so you better have the decency of trying to give him a real match. I will be watching.”

 

Endeavor walks past him, as Izuku grits his teeth so hard he feels them like nails on a chalkboard in his mouth.

 

“I will make Todoroki show you.” He says, then, voice low. Endeavor, behind him, stops.

 

“What?”

 

Izuku turns, just barely, baring his teeth. “He will show that he’s not you. I will make sure of it. So, please, keep your eyes on the match.”

 

 

They are in front of one another, he and Todoroki.

 

Izuku feels a strange calmness. It’s as if the rage he felt talking with Endeavor had turned into a quiet, flat sea into his soul.

 

It’s probably because he knows what to do, now.

 

He can hear the roar of the crowd, muffled, as if he’s far, far away from them.

 

“You came.” Todoroki says, voice low. “Your expression…”

 

He doesn’t elaborate further, frowning. He shifts on his feet, getting ready.

 

So does Izuku, breathing slowly as he turns into a combat position.

 

START!

 

 

 

Shouto doesn’t know what to expect from Midoriya.

 

While he shown prowess in hand-to-hand combat in the past, Todoroki was fairly sure Midoriya’s strength was still pretty average.

 

But today… Today it had been clear Shouto’s estimation had been wrong.

 

That huge jump, that amazing speed, the sliver of oppressing strength he felt both during the human cavalry battle and during Midoriya’s match against Shinsou—

 

It was clear that Midoriya had far more in him that his gentle attitude let on.

 

He had to finish this, fast, and show the shitty old man that he didn’t need him

 

When he and Midoriya stepped in front of one another on the ring, Midoriya’s expression had been puzzling. His face was a mask, not a single feeling passing through. Something he never seen him do before, as his classmate had always been very expressive, his feelings always open in the air.

 

But his eyes, his pale, unseeing eyes had a fire burning in them.

 

Shouto’s heart shot to his throat, realization overcoming him.

 

This match was going to end in blood.

 

 

“Midoriya?!”

 

Ochako’s eyes burned still. She cried so much on the phone, but now she felt better. She clearly needed that.

 

After closing the call with her parents she hurried upstairs, not wanting to miss the match between Midoriya and Todoroki.

 

“I hope Midoriya will be alright…” Iida murmured to himself, a nervous hand to his chin.

 

Ochako had no idea what would happen. Todoroki was so, so strong. He had always been, towering over the entire class, apparently untouchable.

 

But today… Midoriya won the race. And then he charged fearless against Todoroki during the cavalry battle, breaking his guard open.

 

An endless source of surprises.

 

As soon as the battle started, something incredible happened. Todoroki’s ice charged forward, fast as a lighting bolt.

 

Midoriya had been faster.

 

She couldn’t even follow his movements, he seemed to disappear for a second, before reappearing at Todoroki’s left side.

 

He landed a punch.

 

That’s when she shot on her feet, shouting his name in surprise.

 

Todoroki was fast, too, recovering from the hit right away. He did not waste a single second, his right arm shooting forward, his ice charging.

 

Midoriya disappears, again, reappearing in front of Todoroki in mid-air, placing a rolling kick right on his face, sending Todoroki ungracefully tumbling on the already half frozen ring.

 

Iida was standing, too, she finally noticed. His hands on the railing, his mouth open in shock. The crowd had fallen into a suspended silence, as if everyone was simultaneously holding their breaths.

 

 

Izuku felt his legs tremble.

 

He knew he was walking a fine line, he knew he went so close to losing control both times he dashed away from Todoroki’s attack. Even using One For All the way he was, in short bursts, was a huge risk. He knew that if his control was to slip for even a second, his legs would shatter, and that would be the end.

 

Todoroki was standing up again, his nose trickling blood. It was as if Izuku could smell the iron in the air. He felt the shock radiating from him, he could feel his other half, the one he kept caged, trying to desperately wiggle free.

 

But stupid, stubborn Todoroki tried again. Izuku focused, his mind only perceiving his adversary, and charged. He felt the ice graze his feet, in an instant he was in front of Todoroki, hitting him with an uppercut that sent him flying back into the air.

 

Izuku’s ears buzzes, his heart beating madly in his temples as he pants heavily. The calm sea in his soul had turned into a storming, enraged one.

 

“ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!”

 

The words are out of his mouth before he even realizes. Todoroki stood, his light shivering.

 

“Stop making fun of me—“ Izuku hisses through his teeth. “Stop making fun of everyone. You won’t beat me if you keep insisting on not using your full potential—”

 

Todoroki flinches. “That’s none of your business—“

 

“Like hell it isn’t!” Izuku interrupts him, furious. “Everyone is giving it all, and you are standing there only using half of what you have, and you think that is ok?!”

 

“I made a promise—“

 

Fuck it!”

 

Izuku dashes again, his legs loudly protesting, but he manages to keep control one more time. Todoroki tries to shield himself with his ice, but Izuku’s right hook shattered right through that, and connected.

 

That was his first slip of control.

 

Izuku felt the pain shot right up his arm as the bones in his hand broke, a choked yell dying in his throat. Todoroki rolls back again with the recoil of the hit, painfully hitting the ring. Izuku slips on the ice, his radar going haywire for a second with the sting of pain in his hand, hitting his face on the cement. He pants heavily, his hand throbs in protest.

 

He forces himself to climb back up, tasting the blood in his mouth. “You are not your father—“ he pants, as Todoroki does the same. “You are you. This is your power. If you don’t fucking fight me for real, right now, I will lose all the respect I have for you—”

 

Todoroki is still hesitating, his light squirming. It feels as if his focus is somewhere else, far, far from the ongoing battle—

 

“I’m right in front of you!” Izuku insists, his left arm opening up in an exasperated gesture. “Stop looking at him and look at me!”

 

He can feel it. Todoroki is falling into total chaos, shook by Izuku’s words.

 

And yet he refuses.

 

I will make Todoroki show you

 

He dashes.

 

 

When Midoriya manages to land another kick after a frightfully fast dash, Todoroki flying backwards spitting blood, Yamada goes crazy.

 

Who would’ve thought?! The big favorite for the first place on the podium seems incapable of attacking back!” He shouts into the mic. “Midoriya manages to land another hit! Will Todoroki be able to fight back after this?!

 

The crowd is going absolutely insane. Todoroki’s previous show of strength against Sero put him immediately on the podium in everyone’s mind, but now Midoriya came, put his foot down, and was shaking off every preconceptions all the people watching could possibly have.

 

Aizawa cannot help the mad grin he feels pulling at his lips.

 

That boy got a beast inside him, and no one noticed until now.

 

 

Who is this person?

 

Shouto’s mind is a mess. Midoriya took all his convictions, shattered them, and threw them away in a matter of seconds.

 

Is this person really gentle, timid, meek Midoriya?

 

Shouto coughs, blood splattering on the ring. His jaw hurt, a stinging point of pain cutting right through his head.

 

Could this really be Midoriya?

 

The person standing in front of him certainly doesn’t look like Midoriya, at the moment. Midoriya that smiles gently at their classmates, Midoriya patiently helping others with their studies, Midoriya, worrying for his friends, pulling at his lower lip with that little frown—

 

Midoriya that’s looking down at him, blood on his face, his teeth bared, pure rage on his features.

 

“Your ice is getting weaker.” He says, voice even, despite the anger in his eyes. “If you don’t use your left side to counter-balance the cold, my next hit will be the last one.”

 

Shouto grits his teeth.

 

He’s right.

 

Midoriya is tired, too, though. He’s sweating a bucket, breath heavy. He can see that his right hand is broken. Shouto certainly felt the strength capable of shattering bones on his own face.

 

I made a promise—

 

“Why are you doing this?” Shouto asks, voice low.

 

Midoriya takes a second to answer, taking deep breaths. “Because you need it. Because helping is what a hero does.”

 

Shouto feels something breaking in his chest. A memory, of sweetest times. A voice, familiar, whispering into his ear “You can be a hero, if you want to—“

 

The flames laps at him, almost comforting, before he could even realize he finally let that half of himself free—

 

Midoriya grins.

 

“You are crazy—“ Shouto chokes, feeling the sting of tears in his eyes, a grin of his own involuntarily pulling at his mouth.

 

They charge at the same time.

 

 

Ochako hadn’t been capable to take her hands away from her mouth for the whole match.

 

Midoriya, he— There was no other way to put it, he dominated the fight so far. He’s standing over Todoroki, now, his shoulders’ movements betraying the shortness of his breath. They must be exchanging words it’s impossible for them to hear.

 

Todoroki slowly climbs to his feet, and suddenly the flames flare up from his arm and face, high to the sky. Surprise ripples all through the crowd.

 

It happens very fast.

 

Midnight and Cementoss shot up from their seats, a loud “NO!” out of their mouths, just as Todoroki and Midoriya meets in the middle. The explosion is blinding. A violent, hot wind washes over the stands, yells rising all around, forcing them to squeeze their eyes.

 

When they can finally see again, Todoroki is on his feet, in the ring, shivering.

 

Midoriya is out, his back against the wall, head turned up at the sky before he slowly slides down on the ground, falling on a side.

 

No one says a word, an unnatural silence covering the entire crowd of hundreds of people, as Midnight-sensei declares him out of the ring, giving the victory to Todoroki.

 

 

A single instant is what Shouto needed.

 

They charged toward one another, he and Midoriya. He saw him pull his right arm back, ready to punch despite his already broken hand.

 

The flames are finally warming him up, he can feel the strength of his right side back.

 

He puts his right arm up, a shield of thick ice, trying to defend from the incoming punch. His left hand is burning, heat collecting in his fist—

 

Something must’ve happened. The moment Midoriya’s fists collides with the ice, Shouto sees his eyes go wide, a choked cough escaping his lips. He hears the cracks, the strength of Midoriya’s punch not enough to break his defense.

 

Still enough to break even more Midoriya’s hand, and his adversary is frozen by pain.

 

A single instant, really.

 

The flaming punch connects with Midoriya’s cheek, sending him flying, the air exploding around them. When the dust finally settles, Shouto is still standing, despite how bruised and battered he feels after the beating Midoriya gave him.

 

Midoriya slides on the wall and falls down, outside the ring.

 

Shouto doesn’t even hear Midnight-sensei declaring his victory, the violent beats of his heart filling his head with white noise as he pants, the flames at his left side dying down and disappearing. He’s shook out of his stupor by a hand on his shoulder.

 

“Todoroki, do you need to go to the infirmary?” She asks, voice low, while the robots in his field of vision collects the unconscious form of Midoriya.

 

“…I think my jaw is broken.” He replies, the pain coming back in full force like a hot blade right through his skull.

 

“Then go.” She says, pushing him to follow after them.

 

 

“Stupid, stupid boys.”

 

Recovery girl is grumbling, as she fusses around young Todoroki. Toshinori headed with a sigh toward the infirmary right after the battle, but hadn’t expected to see young Todoroki, a bruise darkening on right cheek and another on his left jaw, coming in right after the stretcher with an unconscious Midoriya.

 

But, in retrospect, the boy landed some pretty heavy hits. For how though young Todoroki is, it’s not surprising that he took some serious damage.

 

Young Todoroki spared a confused glimpse in his direction, giving him a proper little bow, but saying nothing.

 

Recovery girl gives young Midoriya a fast check-up, grumbling to herself “Asleep. Must’ve used up all his energies, stupid boy—“ in a low voice, before turning away.

 

“I’ll think about you later.” She mutters at young Midoriya, despite the fact that that he was out like a light. She then turns to Todoroki. “You, sit down, Where does it hurt?”

 

“My jaw—“ Young Todoroki says, trying to don’t move his mouth too much, flinching a bit. “I think it’s broken.”

 

Toshinori thinks back to that mid-air kick that had connected directly to young Todoroki’s face. Yeah, that made sense.

 

“You’re covered in bruises, too.” Huffing, Recovery Girls climbs on her stool, placing a wet kiss on young Todoroki’s face. The boy blinks, confused, before his shoulders relax. His left hand goes up to his face, massaging.

 

“This will make you feel a little tired, but it can’t be helped.” She explains. “You can’t continue this farce with a broken jaw. Sit down, and try to rest a bit. The bruises, I’m afraid you will have to deal with them normally.”

 

At least young Todoroki is more prone to obeying when it’s proper to do so, seeing as he silently nods, not moving from his seat, unlike a certain someone else Toshinori knows.

 

Recovery Girl glares at him, as if she consider all this Toshinori’s fault (and maybe she’s not entirely wrong) before turning her attention to young Midoriya. She carefully examine his bruised, misshapen right hand.

 

“The bones are basically in pieces, I can’t just heal him like this.” She says after long minutes of silence, clinical. “I will need to operate, first. There’s a chance his hand might not be the same, after.”

 

Young Todoroki flinches at that, his mouth opening as if he wants to say something. But he closes it, silent, collecting his own right hand against his chest with a contrite expression.

 

Toshinori wishes nothing more than to comfort him, but he is a stranger in the boy’s eyes, for now, and he clearly cannot just transform in front of him. As he’s trying to decide if it’s worth it to go out, transform, and then get back in with the risk young Todoroki might realize, the door opens.

 

“Midoriya!” Young Uraraka is the first one to enter, rapidly followed by young Iida, Asui and Mineta. She stops when she sees Todoroki. “Todoroki, you’re hurt, too.” She sounds worried.

 

The boy blinks, looking down, his hand back on his jaw. “… It broke. It’s fine, now.”

 

Young Uraraka hesitates, before stepping forward. She also gives Toshinori a perplexed greeting, before stepping near the cot young Midoriya is lying on.

 

“Is he…”

 

“Asleep.” Recovery Girl interrupts. “And all of you should go out, now. I need to operate.”

 

“O-operate?!” Young Iida exclaims, his arms gesticulating wildly.

 

“Yes, that’s what happens when you fight recklessly like this stubborn friend of yours. Now out, all of you. I have work to do.”

 

She shushes all of them out, closing the door behind them with a bang.

 

Once outside, a silence falls on the little group. The kids seems to have forgotten he’s even there, as young Todoroki asks in a quiet voice.

 

“Aren’t you angry at me?”

 

Young Iida and Uraraka exchange a look, before she speaks up.

 

“You’ve both fought with all your strength for victory. It’s what Midoriya wanted, why should we be angry?”

 

“…He broke his hand to fight me.” Todoroki replies, his eyes casted low. It seems the sentence is directed at himself rather than his classmates.

 

“And he broke your jaw, too, so I think you can call it fair?” Young Uraraka replies, more like a question. “Seriously, Todoroki, Midoriya only wanted for us all to give our best, and that is what you did. There’s no reason to be mad toward anyone.”

 

Finally, young Todoroki looks up. There’s something akin to wonder in his eyes. Young Iida steps forward.

 

“It was an impressive battle.” He says, serious. “And I hope to be able to match against you at full strength, just like Midoriya did.”

 

Young Todoroki nods, silent.

 

Toshinori watches them go in different directions, wondering when these kids went and grew up on him so fast.

 

 

When Izuku wakes, he is painfully, immediately aware of his wounds.

 

Recovery Girl seems to have just finished putting his arm in a cast, when she notices he’s awake. “Oh, finally. Well, young man, this is your price.”

 

She rapidly explains what she had to do to his hand, threatening him to don’t get the cast off for a couple days.

 

“You will feel that it is misshapen.” She says, severe. “Let this be a lesson. You cannot just use that power of yours wildly and hope for the best.”

 

“…I know.” Izuku replies, voice low.

 

“You can come back in, now.” Recovery Girl says. He doesn’t need to ask who she’s talking to, as he had felt the presence of All Might outside from the moment he woke.

 

All Might approaches his bed as Izuku is slowly sitting.

 

“I’m sorry.” He says after a few second of silence. “I couldn’t win, and show to the world that I have arrived.”

 

“But you did.” All Might replies in a quiet tone. “Despite your loss, you showed the world plenty.”

 

Izuku blinks, turning his face up to All Might.

 

“My boy, everyone in this stadium were thinking you couldn’t possibly win the moment you stepped up the ring against young Todoroki. In a matter of a few minutes, you’ve made them think there’s wasn’t a single chance you couldn’t win.”

 

“I really thought I could do it—“ Izuku replies, slowly, stretching his left hand. “But during that last hit, I lost focus. I let One For All overcome me. It happened already, once, during the battle.” A beat of silence. “It was stupid of me. I should’ve tried something else.”

 

He can feel All Might eyes boring into him, then he speaks, softly. “Can I ask you something?”

 

“Mh?”

 

“Why did you purposefully provoke young Todoroki into using his fire?”

 

Izuku weighs the words in his mouth, before answering. “It’s what my heart told me to do.”

 

All Might doesn’t answer, putting a hand on his head with a gentle sigh.

 

 

Shouto couldn’t shake this indescribable feeling off of himself.

 

The awards came and went. He silently accepted his second place, after the chaotic fight with Bakugou. He almost felt bad for him, for not giving it all, but at the moment he just had so many thoughts storming inside him—

 

All Might told him that his expression was different, now…

 

Shouto wondered what he meant.

 

He noticed the glaring lack of certain green head between his classmates. Was Midoriya so hurt he couldn’t even attend the closing ceremony? Guilt gnawed at his stomach, a sensation new, and yet so familiar.

 

When he he retreated back in the stadium to go change, after most people had already left, he was waiting.

 

“Honestly, Shouto, for how long will you keep this tantrum going?” He said, annoyed. “You could’ve easily beaten that explosive guy. Not to mention the pitiful fight against that boy.”

 

That had stopped Shouto in his track. The sneer in those words. Slowly, he asked. “What do you mean?”

 

“Between all the chances you had to use your full abilities, you had to choose him.” Father continued. “And not only that, you let him wipe the floor with you in front of everyone. What was that, an attempt to get back at me?”

 

The rage was bubbling back up his throat, again.

 

Was he implying that Midoriya wasn’t exactly as strong as he showed himself to be?

 

The thought of Midoriya brought up different, confusing feelings, that overcame the pure rage he always felt against his father.

 

You are not your father, Midoriya said. This is your power.

 

Your power— His words sounded so true, too. Like Midoriya firmly believed in them.

 

Uraraka said that all Midoriya wanted was for all of them to give their best.

 

Midoriya purposefully dragged him in the light, made him think about his choices. Midoriya forced him to give his best, because that is what he believed in. Midoriya openly decided to damage his own body, in order to push Shouto to do better.

 

Midoriya, that wants to become a hero.

 

“Well? Nothing to say?”

 

The rage dies in his throat, as he takes a deep breath.

 

“Don’t say that about him.” He whispers, then adds. “Go, don’t wait for me.”

 

He kept walking to the changing rooms, ignoring his father calling after him.

 

 

When he enters, the room is empty as most students have already left, except for one.

 

“Oh, Todoroki!” Midoriya says, lightly, as if they hadn’t tried to punch each other into a pulp about an hour prior. “I heard from Uraraka- It’s unfortunate you couldn’t beat Kacchan. I wish I could’ve seen the fight.”

 

He has a big bruise on his cheek, right were Shouto’s flaming fist connected, his right arm in a cast.

 

“…Are you ok? You aren’t hurt, right?” Midoriya asks with a little worried frown, when the silence stretches. “You should go to Recovery Girl if it’s the cas—“

 

Midoriya falls silent when Shouto covers the distance between them, getting right up to his face. He blinks, clearly confused, jumping a little when Shouto puts a hand on his chin, turning his face around a bit.

 

He looks so different. During that fight, he made Shouto think of a wild animal ready to strike. Now, he was back to his usual, gentle self, his round cheeks making him seem even younger than he already was.

 

Uuuuuhhh—“

 

“You have a scar under your eye.” Shouto mutters to himself, softly. He never noticed it, before.

 

“Um— Yes…?”

 

Shouto had been inspecting him so closely their noses were almost touching. With a blink, realizing what he’s doing, Shouto releases him almost as if he got burned, taking a step back. Midoriya blinks at him, his mouth slightly open.

 

“Are you… Mad at me?” He then asks, clearly very confused, frowning.

 

“…No.” Shouto replies after a few beats. “Do you need help getting dressed?”

 

There’s half a shirt hanging from him. Midoriya tilts his head on a side with a little embarrassed laugh.

 

“Actually, I could use a hand, yes.”

 

Silently, he helps him out, Midoriya not commenting on his previous strange behaviour. Once done, Shouto watches him put his messenger bag over his shoulder, slipping his phone in a pocket. Before he could even realize what he’s saying, he blurts out “Would it be ok if we exchanged numbers?”

 

Midoriya blinks rapidly a couple of times, before giving him a brilliant smile as he hands his phone over.

 

 

A couple of days later, when he sends Midoriya a text -it took him a bit to make sense of the texting app, at first- telling him that he was going to go visit his mother, Shouto immediately feels like an idiot, wishing for a way to rewind time and stop himself from trying to seek some sort of validation from him—

 

Midoriya replies “You can do it! (۶•̀ᴗ•́)۶” After only a bunch of seconds. And then sends immediately after another text only containing what seems to look like a flexing arm.

 

what does the arm mean?” Shouto replies.

 

It means you’re super strong!

 

As he finds a small smile pulling at his mouth, Shouto decides that maybe, after all, it hadn’t been so bad of an idea.

 

Chapter Text

“Miki, help me, put in one of those cute face thingies you youth use to convey emotion, something supportive.”

 

“You youth—“ She laughs, taking the phone from his hand and typing something after the message he already dictated in. “Sorry, gramps, I didn’t realize it was time to get you back to the hospice—“

 

Izuku flashes her his tongue before adding. “Send it. Oh, also send, like, a flexing arm!”

 

“Aye aye, sir.” She dutifully replies, and Izuku hears the whooshing sounds that means the two texts were sent. After a bit, Miki reads. “Your friend is asking what the arm means.”

 

“Tell him it means that he’s super strong!”

 

She dutifully types in the text, before giving him the phone back. Izuku pockets it, his mood through the roof.

 

“You seem pretty cheery. What, do you have a crush on this guy?” Miki asks, elbowing him. “You know you can tell me.”

 

“It’s not that!” Izuku laughs, shaking his head. “Don’t be silly. I’m just happy Todoroki doesn’t hate my guts.”

 

“Seems like he does more than just not hating your guts, since he asked you for your number and sends you personal texts, now.” She says, her voice suggestive.

 

“Miki, is there a particular reason why you keep trying to pair me up with any classmate I happen to speak to you about…?”

 

“Yes. It’s because it’s very funny.”

 

“You are a cruel woman.”

 

Her laugh is like music in his ears.

 

They hadn’t had any chance to hang out, lately, with how busy Izuku had been. Miki had been pretty busy, too, since she decided to sign up for a first-aid course, on top of her normal studies.

 

“I think that might be something I could be interested in doing.” She said. “Mom is pretty happy about it, so I want to see how it goes. If I like it, I’ll probably go with medical studies in university.”

 

For now, they are sitting on a bench in a park, waiting, the laughs of kids playing in the distance. There’s a lull in the conversation, as they both just take into the sounds around them, and then Miki sighs.

 

“By the way, Izuku— What even was that fight with this Todoroki guy? Not to mention the obstacle race—“ She starts, careful. “That was… Something.”

 

Izuku Knew that the question would come, but that didn’t make it any easier to take it with a poker face. He could tell that Miki had been dying to ask since they’ve met, only getting distracted by Todoroki’s sudden text.

 

Fortunately, Izuku thought about the possibility in advance. —Not that it made it any easier to lie right to Miki’s face. He definitely did not like to lie to her, or anyone else, really.

 

“I’ve been practicing different ways to apply my quirk.” He replies with a shrug.

 

He’s pretty sure she’s tilting an eyebrow. “Your radar?”

 

“You know how I can kind of feel other people’s energy and stuff—“ Izuku replies, carefully schooling his voice into a nonchalant tone. “I’ve been using that.”

 

Miki sniffs. Her light doesn’t feel entirely convinced, Izuku could tell, but she doesn’t insist. After all, it’s not as if she could even remotely imagine that the blond man she knew as a talent scout was actually All Might, and that All Might’s power was something that could get passed to others, let alone that the one on the receiving end had been Izuku. No one could possibly imagine that, Izuku himself still had a hard time accepting that it was actually a thing, that happened to him.

 

Anyone asking would probably take his giant lie at face-value -not really much of a choice, there-. Izuku seriously hoped he’ll never have to explain his suddenly enhanced physical abilities to a liar-detector such as himself, because that would suck.

 

In the end, Miki seems to have dropped the matter entirely. “Your friend is a little late—“ She comments after a long beat of silence, looking around.

 

“She’s coming, don’t worry.” Izuku replies. The familiar light already entered in his radar a bit ago, and was rapidly getting closer.

 

“You know you are creepy as hell when you do that, right?”

 

He grins at her just as the familiar voice calls out to him.

 

“Midoriya!”

 

He stands, Uraraka finally jogging up to them, her breath a little short.

 

“Sorry I’m late—I didn’t hear the alarm this morning—“ She pants.

 

“Don’t worry about that, you are not that late. Miki, this Uraraka. Uraraka, my friend from middle-school, Miki.”

 

“It’s so nice to finally meet you!” Miki says, enthusiastic, and Izuku imagines they are shaking hands by the way their lights moves. “Izuku can’t stop talking about you! Uraraka this, Uraraka that— I thought I had to beg him to finally let me meet you!”

 

“MIKI!” He yells, embarrassed, and the two girls laugh.

 

“It’s nice to meet you, too.” Uraraka replies, sounding a bit overwhelmed. “Midoriya told us about you, of course. I’m happy to see he has such a good friend.”

 

“This airhead would be totally lost without someone holding his hand, so I was very relieved to hear that someone nice like you is taking care of him.” Miki replies.

 

“I’m like, right here, you know.” Izuku deadpans, unamused, making them laugh again.

 

“Let’s go, Uraraka, I have sooooo much to tell you about Izuku.”

 

Izuku drags his only free hand across his face with a deep sigh, following behind the two girls that are already knees-deep in a conversation. This might’ve been a huge mistake.

 

 

Miki is quite something else.

 

She has an energetic look to her that makes Ochako think of a female, much, much, much nicer Bakugou.

 

Her black hair is short, spiky, with a single longer tuft dyed a brilliant, electric blue on the right side of her face. Her clothing style yelled punk-rock, a little silver skull hanging from a piercing in her nose. She’s taller than Midoriya, too, but maybe it’s because of her boots.

 

All in all, by just a first look it’s not the kind of person she could see being friends with Midoriya, but going by what he told her and Iida, and the clear fondness in his voice when he spoke about her, it was clear that Midoriya deeply cared for her.

 

They called each other by name, too, with a simplicity that spoke of a long-standing, deep friendship.

 

When Ochako had tried to address her by her surname, she waved her away. “Don’t do that! Miki is fine!”

 

“W-well… I guess you should call me Ochako, then.” She replied, embarrassed. Miki grinned, before turning around toward Midoriya, saying “And you? Aren’t you going to call her Ochako?”

 

Midoriya blushed, mumbling something unintelligible, making the both of them laugh. That reminded Ochako of that one slip she had at the U.S.J., but Midoriya never mentioned that, so she was hopeful he either didn’t notice or just forgot.

 

They went to a cafe. Miki was a chatterbox, telling Ochako all sorts of embarrassing stories, Midoriya trying -and failing- to stop her multiple times. By the time they sat down, Ochako was almost in tears by how much she was laughing.

 

“This was the worst idea of my life.” Midoriya muttered, but there was no real venom in his voice.

 

“Your entire life was one terrible idea after the other, Izuku. Now, for once, employ a good idea and go fetch us some drinks.”

 

“…You are asking the blind guy with only one functioning arm to go get drinks.”

 

“That’s what I said, didn’t I? Now go, chop chop!”

 

“Miki, you are horrible.”

 

“That’s why you love me.” She says that last sentence with a wink and a kissy motion. Midoriya rolls his eyes like he knows what she’s doing, but smiles, getting up to go stand in line.

 

Ochako was unsure if she should just stare in shock, or laugh.

 

“That’s how you have to treat him, Ochako.” Miki says, turning to her. She pats a fist in her open palm, although it doesn’t makes a sound since she’s wearing gloves. “You lure him in with niceness and then bam! Iron fist!”

 

At that Ochako loses it, falling in another giggling fit.

 

“Ok, but real talk—“ Miki continues. “You like him, don’t you?”

 

That stops her giggling pretty fast, as she blushes furiously. Miki is looking at her pointedly, and she sighs.

 

“…Is it so obvious?”

 

“Not so much. But you have a way of looking at him— Anyway, if you want him to know, you will have to be blunt. That one doesn’t get hints even if they hit him right in the head with a hammer.” Miki replies, shrugging.

 

Ochako let out a little laugh, before shaking her head. “I actually don’t want him to know, to be honest.”

 

“Why not?” Miki blinks, surprised. “I mean, I know he’s pretty immature on that front, but still—“

 

“I don’t want to be a distraction for him, and I don’t want him to be a distraction for me.” Ochako explains, quietly, with a little smile. “I’m happy with just being friends. Me and Midoriya— We have a lot on the line, and we both are in UA for the same reason. I’d much rather have things as they are, instead of possibly creating tense situations between us that could become a problem for our studies.”

 

“Mmmh, I see.” Miki sniffs. “I understand. Still, it’s kind of a shame… I’m constantly afraid one of these days Izuku is gonna come and tell me he got married to All Might.”

 

At that, Ochako cannot help but imagine All Might in a wedding dress and splutters, laughing loudly with her forehead against the table.

 

“Miki, what did you tell her, now?” She hears Midoriya ask, exasperated, after her laughing fit infected Miki as well.

 

 

Miki ends up having to leave them just after lunch.

 

“I’m sorry I have to go so soon.” She said, pouting a bit. “But I really need to study. It has been great to finally meet you, Ochako, we should spend some more time together!”

 

Ochako wholeheartedly agreed, exchanging numbers with the girl. Despite the fact most of their time had been spent poking fun at Midoriya, he waves at her enthusiastically, a big smile on his face, clearly not offended at all. He seems satisfied as he and Ochako make their way to the subway station after separating from her.

 

“I’m glad you and Miki seems to be getting along, I know she can be a handful.” He elaborates to her unasked question.

 

“She’s like— What would Bakugou be if he was a girl. And not an asshole.”

 

That makes Midoriya laugh heartily. “You know, I thought something similar to that, the first time I met her.” He says, once the laugh subsided.

 

“Really?” Ochako says with a frown, trying to imagine that. “I mean, considering how Bakugou is with you, I hope your first meeting with her wasn’t quite as… Explosive.”

 

Midoriya snickers, before his face turns a bit melancholic. “I… Well, I didn’t had many friends in middle school. Actually, I didn’t had any friend.” He says, quietly. “Most people would either avoid me, or treat me like glass. I was alone most of the time, and one day she just came to me and told me that I shouldn’t hide my face, and that I was cute.” He laughs. “She has always been very blunt, from the very first day. Runs in the family.”

 

Ochako blinks, surprised. It was hard to imagine someone as nice and kind as Midoriya having no friends.

 

“Things were different back then—“ Midoriya continues, as if he picked up on her unexpressed feelings. “I wasn’t in a good place. Mentally, I mean. Miki has done so much for me, I don’t think I will ever be able to repay her.”

 

She watches him turning his face up to the sky. He’s smiling. “Things are much better now. I have you, and Iida, and everyone in class. I might get hurt every now and then, but I much prefer the occasional broken arm to the way I lived back in those days. God, it feels like a lifetime ago…”

 

He keeps walking with his face pointed at the sky, and Ochako notices the way the light hits Midoriya’s eyes, making them shine in a way she’d never seen before. She freezes on the spot, holding her breath. Midoriya stops after a few steps, turning around.

 

“Is something the matter?”

 

“Your eyes—“ Ochako says, breathless. “They are amazing—“

 

Midoriya grins at her like she just shared an old inside joke of his.

 

 

“Here’s my champion!”

 

Katsuki grunts, sitting at the table, ignoring the hand that ruffles his hair. Mom is whistling an off key tune, grinning every time she passes by the library where his new, shiny, very unwanted medal is hanging from.

 

“Must you keep that thing there?” He asks with a squint, as she sits in front of him. It’s just him and her having lunch, since dad is at work.

 

“Oh, Katsuki—“ She sighs, serving herself some salad. “Can you not be satisfied with your results, for once?”

 

“I told you, I can’t!” He replies, irritated, putting the offending greens in his plate as if they just insulted his entire lineage. “How can you even call that a victory?!”

 

She sighs, long-suffering, as she usually does.

 

“That stupid half face didn’t even try—“ Katsuki grumbles between a mouthful of salad and the other. “To think he actually decided to turn the oven on for Deku, of all people—“ He turns to the rice, glaring at it as if every grain is laughing at him.

 

“Oh, speaking of which—“ Mom says, her voice cheerful. “Izuku really gave quite the show, too, didn’t he?”

 

He doesn’t even dignify that with a response.

 

“That super jump during the race— Not to mention the way he fought with that Todoroki kid— I really thought he would win! I wonder when he turned so strong!”

 

Katsuki’s chopstick snaps in half.

 

“Again?” Mom sighs, tired. “You cost me more in cutlery than anything else, Katsuki.”

 

“That fucking Deku!” He exclaims, enraged. “He’s like one of those stupid magicians that grab bunnies out of a hat! But, apparently, his supply of bunnies is fucking infinite! He just keeps pulling out one after the other!”

 

“Language, dear. We agreed that we were supposed to try to use less curses, together.”

 

I hate him!

 

“Sure you do.” She deadpans, before massaging the bridge of her nose with a sigh.”Katsuki, honestly, can you not just put this grudge you have away, once and for all? That poor boy still cares about you, you know.”

 

“Yes, and I wish he would stop.”

 

She tilts an eyebrow. “Do you?”

 

The seriousness of her tone stops him in his tracks, as he looks up to her.

 

“I mean, dear, you only have two moods. Angry and angrier.” She continues, casual. “The only times I’ve ever seen you show some kind of different feeling, Izuku had been involved one way or the other.”

 

A memory surfaces, unwanted. Traitorous. A pair of unseeing eyes filled with tears, voice trembling with pure desperation.

 

Do you think I wouldn’t sell my soul for just a minute of being able to see my mother’s face again?

 

The shame he felt at the pit of his stomach.

 

He chases it away, shaking his head. He doesn’t do feelings, he certainly doesn’t do shame.

 

“So I hope you can forgive me if I highly doubt you really hate him, and that you really want him to stop caring.”

 

Katsuki doesn’t answer. He gets up, fishing a new pair of chopsticks from the drawer in the kitchen, and goes back at stabbing his food.

 

They finish eating in silence.

 

 

When Inko opens the door, she finds herself in front of a very familiar face, despite the fact they never met directly.

 

“You are Uraraka Ochako!” She says, her hands flying to her cheeks. “Oh my— I saw you at the festival, of course! You did so well, dear— I was absolutely amazed—“

 

“Mom, breathe!” Izuku laughs, putting his right hand on her shoulder. “Uraraka, this is my mom, as you can imagine.”

 

“It’s an honour to meet you, miss Midoriya!” The girl says with a sweet smile and a bow. She’s even cuter in person.

 

“The honour is mine! Please come in, would you like a tea?”

 

She sidesteps, giving them space to enter. Uraraka is already looking around, curious, eyeing the pictures of her and Izuku at various stages of his growth on the walls as she takes off her shoes. She must notice Inko is watching her, red appearing on her cheeks.

 

“Sorry—“

 

“Don’t worry about it, dear, feel free to look! I’ll go put on the tea.” Inko says, getting back in the kitchen. “Would you two like some snacks?”

 

“I’m good, mom, thanks.” Izuku replies, a little strained. He must be struggling with his coat. He hears low voices and then some rustling, Izuku thanking his friend for the help. They appear in the kitchen right after, sans coats.

 

“Sorry for intruding without a warning—“ Uraraka says, accepting the chair Izuku is offering her and sitting down at the table.

 

“Oh, no intrusion.” Inko replies with a smile. “None at all. Did you had fun today?”

 

She puts down on the table a plate with a cake already cut in slices, and despite what Izuku said, he takes one, sinking his teeth into it with a little happy smile.

 

“Very much.” He says, after he’s done with the bite. “I think I needed a day off, with all the things that have happened lately.”

 

“Agreed—“ Uraraka seems to melt on the table, relaxed. “It was nice to just be normal for a day. I feel like ever since we started at UA I hadn’t a single minute to stop and catch my breath.”

 

“For what Izuku tells me, you all have quite the exciting lives.” Inko says with a smile, pouring the tea. “I bet you must’ve been tired after the festival.”

 

“Sure was.” Uraraka replies with a little strained smile, accepting the cup. “And to think I didn’t even get that far. Not as much as Midoriya did, at least.”

 

Izuku scoffs. “I only had one more match than you, it’s really not that big of a difference.”

 

“Yes, but you fought Todoroki.”

 

“—And got my ass kicked.”

 

Uraraka tilts an eyebrow, a mix of incredulity and some sort of tired acceptance on her face. “Are you, like, for real right now.”

 

“What?” Izuku replies with a blink, frowning.

 

“You are impossible—“ Uraraka sighs, before poking a finger on Izuku’s forehead repeatedly. “You have no idea how it was from the outside! You were absolutely dominating, to us all it looked like Todoroki couldn’t even touch you— I still have no idea what happened during that explosion at the end!”

 

Izuku mutters something that sounds like “I was an idiot, that’s what happened.

 

Rolling her eyes, Uraraka goes back to her tea, sipping. “You can play dumb all you want, Midoriya Izuku, but your fight with Todoroki had been absolutely impressive. Stop selling yourself short.”

 

“The full name, now, too?” Izuku sighs. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you meet Miki—“

 

Uraraka grins, before apparently remembering Inko was there as well and looking at her with eyes as big as plates, blushing.

 

“Um—“

 

Inko can’t help but laugh, amused. She takes place at the table, as well.

 

She’s so glad Izuku is making friends with all these amazing boys and girls, at school.

 

“Why don’t you tell me more about your quirk?” She asks, watching the girl relax. “It’s a shame you couldn’t make it against Katsuki, but that plan of yours was brilliant!”

 

“Soooo frustrating!” Uraraka replies, closing her hands in two fists. “I kept thinking what Midoriya would do in my place and came up with that, but in the end it wasn’t enough—“ Then she puts her hands on her mouth, realizing what she said. “I mean—“

 

“Now it’s you that’s selling yourself short.” Izuku intervenes, levelled, tilting his head. “It was a really good plan. It’s just that Kacchan is… Too much.”

 

That seems to release the bit of tension in the air, as the three of them keep chatting about the festival and school. Soon enough it’s darkening outside. When Inko realizes she puts a hand to her mouth.

 

“Oh, my, it’s already getting so late—“ She looks at Uraraka, relaxed, happy, and turning to look outside the window with a little frown. “Would you like to stay for dinner, dear?”

 

“Oh, I wouldn’t want to disturb—“ She starts to say, Izuku speaking over her. “Yes, stay! Mom, did you know that Uraraka lives alone?”

 

She turns a pout on him at that, as Inko blinks. “Really? It must be lonely—“

 

“A bit, sometimes.” She let out a sigh. “But my parents work far, so it was the only solution.”

 

Inko smiles a bit, sadly. These kids, chasing their dreams, having to sacrifice so much—

 

She puts a gentle hand on the girl’s shoulder. “Feel free to come by anytime you need it, ok? My door will always be open for you.”

 

The smiles she gives her could light up a room.

 

 

After dinner Miss Midoriya shushed them away, refusing Ochako when she offered to wash the dishes as a thanks for the hospitality.

 

“Nonsense, there’s no need to pay me back.”

 

She even gave her a hug on the door, before sending them on their way, stressing again that Ochako was welcome to come by whenever. Midoriya was walking her to the subway station, now, the first stars appearing on the increasingly darkening sky. He looked relaxed, almost sleepy.

 

“Your mom is so nice.” Ochako says in the silence. “I see from where you took after, now.”

 

“I can only wish to be half as nice as she is.” He replies with a little grin. “If it wasn’t for the fact that she likes to levitate things in my way to annoy me, I’d think excessive niceness was her quirk.”

 

That surprises a laugh out of Ochako, before they fall into a comfortable silence again. Midoriya seems to get hit by a sudden thought, his eyebrows furrowing.

 

“Have you heard from Iida?” He asks, voice low.

 

She can only reply with a sad “No…”. They sigh at the same time.

 

“Hopefully he’ll be at school, tomorrow.” Midoriya mutters. “I’m really worried about him. If I hadn’t been unconscious at the end of the festival, I could’ve at least told him something…”

 

“Oh, please. God, Miki is right, you are a martyr.” Ochako can’t help but let out, slightly exasperated. “You went through an operation on the spot. Cut yourself some slack.”

 

Midoriya pouts a bit with a sniff, but does not protest.

 

 

Izuku is lying on his bed, belly down, face sinking into the pillow.

 

He had such a nice day. A nice, normal day. It seemed almost unreal, being able to spend a day with friends, like a normal kid. It felt like it would never end, and like it ended too fast at the same time.

 

Uraraka sent him a text just a couple of minutes prior to let him know she made it back to her apartment safe and sound. It was still too early to go to sleep, but Izuku just didn’t feel like sitting at his desk to transcribe the rest of his vocal notes from the festival. So he was just lying there, being useless.

 

Struck by a thought he palms at his nightstand for his phone, dictating in a text. After having the voice-over read it back to him to make sure it was ok, he hit send.

 

“How did your visit go?”

 

It took Todoroki five minutes to reply.

 

“Better than expected. No little faces, this time?”

 

Izuku snickers.

 

“I had a friend type that in for me. It’s a bit hard to dictate little faces, so I rather not use them.”

 

“Right.”

 

“Thank you for your encouragement, by the way.”

 

“No problem. I’m glad you decided to visit your mom. If you want to talk about it I’m here ok?”

 

“Thanks.

 

“I’ll see you tomorrow.”

 

“Good night, Midoriya.”

 

 

 

Chapter Text

His day starts with a perfect stranger on the train calling out to him.

 

“Midoriya from the heroics department!” The voice says. “I saw you at the festival. You put up quite a fight, good job, kid!”

 

More comments rapidly follow, people encouraging him, someone commenting on how small he actually is (he’s growing, ok), people telling him they will be rooting for him.

 

He steps on the platform, feeling a bit confused but also pleased. Maybe what Uraraka and All Might said, that his fight with Todoroki actually left an impression, was true and not something they said just to make him feel better. It was very hard for him to try imagine how it must’ve looked from an outside perspective, seeing how in his head he had been during the fight, with that single-minded drive to bring everything out of his adversary. He had been so focused on Todoroki that he even forgot they had an audience.

 

Also, thinking back on it, he can’t help but feel bad. He kind of went overboard with One For All and, for what he heard after from Recovery Girl, even broke Todoroki’s jaw. He really ought to apologize to him, later.

 

For now, though, he can feel a familiar light entering in his radar, and he breathes a sigh of relief.

 

Iida catches up to him soon, scolding him for his relaxed walk. To Izuku’s protests, he answers that being at least ten minutes early should be the norm.

 

He would seem like his usual, Iida-y self to an outsider, but Izuku could feel the tenseness in him. As they put away their shoes in their respective lockers, Izuku carefully asks “Are you ok?”

 

“I am perfectly fine, you don’t need to worry.”

 

Izuku let the lie slip, silent.

 

 

When Aizawa-sensei showed them the nominations they received, it hadn’t been surprising to hear that the overwhelming majority of them had focused on Kacchan and Todoroki.

 

Izuku himself received fifty-two. It was a minuscule result compared to the first two in list, but he honestly was ok with that. As All Might said, progress was progress, no matter how small.

 

When it came time to decide their hero name, he found himself at a loss.

 

When he was a kid and had the luxury of day-dreaming, all the hero names in his mind would have something to do with All Might. But now that he in fact had the power of All Might, he knew that it was not a game, but a serious responsibility. To choose a name parroting All Might’s would feel like a disservice to the power he'd been granted.

 

On the other hand, he doesn’t feel like basing the name only on his original quirk, either. “Radar” just sounded wrong, somehow.

 

As he plays around with the paper he was given, thinking, he hears Kacchan walking up to the teacher’s desk and, in his usual, totally relaxed tone, unironically say “King of explodokills.”

 

That had been shot down by Midnight-sensei, obviously, but just hearing Kacchan’s voice gave him the idea.

 

He turned around, voice low. “Mineta, can you write this down for me, please?”

 

 

When he went up to the desk and turned his paper around, he had felt both Kacchan’s light go still with a tinge of irritation, and Uraraka’s release happiness in waves. At Midnight-sensei question if he was sure, he nodded with a grin.

 

Deku would suit him just fine.

 

 

 

Standing in line at the cafeteria, Izuku was deep in thought. All in all the morning had been pretty uneventful after the excitement regarding their hero names, but Izuku was already tired of turning a blind eye -ah, pun. He ought to use it at the first occasion- to the situation.

 

During the name choosing, he felt such pain and indecisiveness coming from Iida, and his friend hadn’t stopped being tense for the entire day. It was clear the accident that happened to his brother affected him more than he let on. He should be doing something to help him, but what…

 

“Midoriya.”

 

He jumped. Lost so deep in his head he had tuned out the usual feel of the lights around him, relegated them in the back of his head, a distant foggy though, not noticing that Todoroki was behind him. He feels his perplexity, now, as Izuku turns.

 

“I didn’t think it was possible to take you by surprise.” Todoroki says.

 

“I was very lost in my head.” Izuku admits with a little embarrassed smile. “Sorry.”

 

“No need to apologize.”

 

Silence falls on them. Izuku should probably say something and, well, he did want to apologize, although for something else.

 

“Todoroki, actually, I wanted to say sorry for what happened at the festival. I kind of went overboard, I didn’t mean to break your jaw.” Izuku admits, tilting his head on a side. “So, sorry about that.”

 

He can feel Todoroki’s eyes drill into him. “Why are you saying sorry? It was a fight, wounds happens.” He replies, matter-of-factly. Then adds. “A curious choice of words.”

 

Izuku blinks. “What do you mean?”

 

“You said that you went overboard. That sounds curious to me, is all.”

 

And in that moment Izuku is reminded that Todoroki, on top of being scarily strong, is actually pretty damn smart as well.

 

Izuku really should watch his big mouth, before he and All Might’s secret gets blown out in the open.

 

“I was— You know, just saying. I was kind of too much into the moment, you feel me?” Izuku tries to justify, sounding weak to his own ears. “Anyway, if you are cool with it, then I’m cool with it, too.”

 

“I’m cool with it.” Todoroki replies, easily. A beat of silence, and then. “… Was that a pun?”

 

Izuku splutters and laughs, taken aback by how earnest the other boy sounded. Maybe Todoroki had a dorky side to him, too.

 

 

If Iida and Uraraka wanted to say something when he joined them at their usual table, Todoroki in tow that slid to sit by Izuku’s side, they surely didn’t show it at all. Instead they fell into an easy chit-chat, talking about the nominations and which offices seemed more palatable for the kind of hero work each one of them wanted to concentrate on. Iida intervened, punctual and serious as usual, and Izuku had to force himself to turn his quirk off for the rest of the lunch.

 

Every time he talked felt more and more like a lie.

 

 

“Not bad.” All Might commented when he met Izuku after lessons, leading him to an empty room, so they could have some privacy to talk about the nominations. “Considering how unbalanced the nominations are this year, your little result is not bad at all. Still…”

 

A cough. Izuku waits patiently, sitting on a desk, his legs swinging.

 

“I guess… I should say to you that between the nominations you’ve received… There’s one I’d recommend…”

 

“Oh! That’s a good news!” Izuku replies. If it came with All Might’s recommendation, then it must’ve been a good one. Still, the indecisive tone in his mentor’s voice and the badly repressed panic in his light rapidly stifled Izuku's enthusiasm. “That’s… That’s a good news, right…?”

 

It feels as if All Might is cold sweating. Thanks to the strange connection between them, Izuku feels it like a ghost sensation on his own skin.

 

“In a sense…” A deep sigh. “His name is Gran Torino. He was my homeroom teacher when I was a student here, although for only a year. He also knows of One For All.”

 

“Oh! So there are other people out there that knows of it—“ Izuku replies, distracted, before noticing All Might is talking to himself in a way not much different to Izuku’s own brand of muttering.

 

“He must’ve sent the nominations recognising your use of One For All during the festival… I wonder if he felt he had to supplement to my teaching… Surely he must feel it is very lacking… To push him to even pick back up the hero mantle… But still, this is a good chance for you…”

 

In the end, with a very shaky, not sure at all voice All Might told him that the choice was up to Izuku.

 

But well… All Might recommended this Gran Torino, so it’s not like Izuku had much of a choice, really.

 

 

 

Izuku really wanted to speak with Iida, but he didn’t had the chance to catch him alone all day long. A good one presented himself just as the school day finished. Thanks to his little chat with All Might regarding the nominations he lagged behind, and when he passed by his class everyone had already left, except for a familiar presence.

 

Steeling himself, Izuku slides the class door open.

 

“Midoriya.” Iida welcomes him, voice flat. “Did you forget something at your desk?”

 

“No. I—“ A sigh. “Iida, are you sure you are ok? If there’s something troubling you—“

 

“I’m fine, Midoriya.”

 

“But, seriously, if you want to—“

 

“Midoriya.” Iida’s voice had never sounded quite so cold toward him, not even way back when they first met at the exam. “Drop it.”

 

Izuku stood there, taken aback and a little hurt as his friend exited the room without adding anything.

 

What was even the point of being a human signal dish for emotions if he couldn’t manage to do any good with it?

 

 

The words still burned into Izuku’s mind as they all met Aizawa-sensei at the train station, costumes under an arm, ready to leave for their week of work experience.

 

He could feel Uraraka’s hesitation, her need to do something for they clearly suffering friend.

 

But Izuku tried already, and was stonewalled. Obviously, Iida didn’t want help.

 

Or maybe, Izuku was just a lousy friend.

 

In the end, he let Uraraka take the lead, as she takes a step forward and tells Iida that if he needed anything he could talk with them, since they were friends, and Izuku limited himself to nodding. He has to bite down his tongue when Iida simply replies “Sure.”

 

Irritated, Izuku turns off his quirk until he’s sure Iida is far enough that he won’t perceive the ringing bells of lies anymore.

 

 

Trying to take his mind off things, he distractedly puts an earbud in and puts some music on during the train ride. He needs to focus, he’s about to meet a man that for better or worse -apparently worse, considering his reaction…- clearly meant something for All Might. He needs to be ready, this is a good chance for learning.

 

He’s surprised when his phone dings and a voice in his ear let him know that he has received a series of texts from Todoroki, of all people.

 

Curious, Izuku puts the other earbud in, too, to better listen to the voice over.

 

“I was thinking about our fight.”

 

“At the festival.”

 

“You had quite the potty mouth on you.”

 

“Do you swear when you get angry, or is Bakugou rubbing off on you?”

 

That seems so out of left field Izuku can’t stop laughing, It takes him a bit to compose an answer.

 

“It’s a good thing Present Mic was so loud, my mother would’ve washed my mouth with soap as soon as I came home, otherwise.Your first guess is the right one, I do get a bit rude when I’m mad. Thanks for that, by the way, I needed a laugh. I hope you will have a nice work experience week, Todoroki.”

 

Todoroki immediately answers.

 

“I don’t think it’s going to be nice.”

 

“But I need to figure some things out.”

 

“So it will be good for me.”

 

“Hope you will have a nice week, too, Midoriya. See you soon.”

 

 

When he knocks on the door and receives no answer, Izuku is throughly confused.

 

He can feel a light inside. Not only that, but it feels like -presumably- Gran Torino is clearly waiting for him. He knocks again, and then tries to push at the handle, finding the door open.

 

“Um. Gran Torino, sir?” He asks, stepping inside. There’s a pungent smell of… Ketchup? Not to mention, on the floor there seems to be something that looks like sausages, going by the strokes of light reflecting on them. What even…? “It’s me. Midoriya Izuku.”

 

As the silence stretches, he decides to bend down. Could it be that the man was sick? Izuku couldn’t possibly know, but it didn’t feel that way at all. The light felt fine, even possibly… Amused?

 

“Sir, I don’t know what you are doing, but I have to warn you that I’m blind.”

 

“Dang.” Comes an old-sounding voice. “I had the hunch you might be, but I wasn’t sure. Ruined my best trick, kiddo.”

 

Izuku has no idea what is going on so he remains like this, perched on the tip of his feet, arms resting on his bended knees. He hears Gran Torino stand with a grunt, patting at his clothes.

 

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, he speaks again. “Who are you?”

 

Ding ding ding.

 

“Sir—“

 

“Toshinori?”

 

Ding ding ding.

 

Ok, this is enough. A voice in him says, irritated. “Sir, I know you are lying. That’s part of my quirk. If you’ve called me here just to make fun of me, please let me know, so I won’t waste my time.”

 

A beat of silence and then— “Finally.” Gran Torino’s voice sounds different. More serious. “When you got in with that sad, meek face, I thought I must have misheard your name during the festival. There was no way you could be the same kid I saw fighting tooth and nail.” A sniff. “Took you long enough to show me that bite.”

 

Izuku blinks, speechless.

 

“Put on your costume, kid. We’ve got work to do.”

 

 

Once the costume is on Izuku can only stand there, unsure.

 

“Well, what are you waiting for? Come at me!” Gran Torino says. “Turn on that power of yours and show me what you’ve got!”

 

For a second logic in his mind dictates that the man is trying to joke again. But nope, human signal dish for emotions. Gran Torino is one hundred percent serious.

 

Well, it’s his house…

 

Izuku activates One For All, sprinting toward the man in front of him— And suddenly he’s not there anymore.

 

Izuku hits the wall face-first.

 

“What the hell was that?! Have you forgotten how to use your power?”

 

Massaging his nose, Izuku realizes that the man is on the ceiling— No, he’s on the wall— No, he—

 

“How fast are you?!” He snaps, shocked.

 

Gran Torino laughs.

 

 

For such a small, old man, Gran Torino is brutal.

 

“C’mon kid, try to follow! Are you really this slow?”

 

“What was that swing? Do you think hitting the air will help?”

 

“You’re losing control on your arms! C’mon, now!”

 

Izuku is taking hits from all sides. Gran Torino’s sheer speed is making his senses go haywire, his head spinning. One For All is sucking at his stamina, as it usually does, which does not help in the slightest. He ends up tumbling on the floor when the old man hits him from behind, and One For All turns off.

 

“Well, is that all?” Gran Torino asks, sounding disappointed, as Izuku pants on the floor, turned on a side. “I can’t believe Toshinori really choose you.”

 

That’s quite a hit in the pride. With a grunt, Izuku stands again.

 

“Now we talking. Yes, give me that fighting face, boy.” Gran Torino sounds like he’s grinning. “Show me what you’ve really got.”

 

Izuku’s limbs feels like breaking when he activates One For All again.

 

He charges.

 

 

At the end of what feels like an eternity, the living room is pretty much semi-destroyed. Izuku is on the floor again, drenched in sweat, trying to catch his breath.

 

“That was more decent.” Gran Torino comments, casually sitting on the turned upside down couch. “But you’ve still got a long way to go, boy. Your endurance sucks.”

 

The old man does not skimp on the heavy hitting words, just like he does not skimp on the heavy hitting hits. Forcing himself to at least sit, Izuku says. “It always happens when I activate One For All. It just sucks all my strength away—“

 

“Well, it’s clear you must be doing something wrong, then.” Gran Torino sighs. “What has Toshinori even been teaching you?”

 

Izuku finds himself recalling the depressed muttering, All Might’s fear that Gran Torino was probably thinking his teachings were lacking…

 

Yeah, he can see why he would think that, now.

 

“I’ve been mostly basing the way I use One For All on the way All Might does—“

 

“Your first mistake.” Izuku hears a whooshing sound, something poking at his nose right after. “I noticed watching you during the festival, too. You go full power right away, and then struggle to reign it in, wasting energy. Isn’t that so?”

 

Izuku blinks. He had never really thought much about it, he just based the way he used One For All on the way he felt inside All Might himself. But Gran Torino was spot on.

 

“And then when that control inevitably slips, you hurt yourself.” Gran Torino continues. “Why does that happen?”

 

“It’s too much for me—“ Izuku murmurs, pulling at his lower lip. “It’s like sitting on a thrashing horse without a saddle and hoping for the best. I’ve been activating it full power because that’s how it felt natural to him, but clearly it’s not what works for me, for now.”

 

“Toshinori had been a natural from the start, pretending you can follow in his exact footsteps is foolish. All in all, you have a decent control, and you’ve been able to use One For All in a smart way during the festival, but you can’t keep up like this.”

 

Izuku sighs, scratching at his head. He feels dead tired, but he has the impression the old man is just about to ask him to start again.

 

“Now, there’s another thing I noticed, during the festival.” Another poke on the nose. “Can you tell me what it is?”

 

“Uuuuh—“

 

“Guess not.” Gran Torino jumps down the couch, not really giving him time to think. “I’m hungry, so I’m going to get something to eat. But I want to give you another word of advice to think on, kid.”

 

Izuku rises on his feet, feeling sore all over. He blinks, waiting.

 

“You admiration for him is a weight that’s pulling you down. Stop thinking about One For All as a magical gift, and start thinking about it as a tool.”

 

And with that, he goes out.

 

 

“You look quite enlightened.”

 

Izuku didn’t turn. He spent most of the time Gran Torino had been out thinking over what he said, turning the words around in his head, examining what he did with One For All during the festival like a slow, mental play-by-play, pacing back and forth.

 

“So?”

 

“I think I understand what you mean when you say I should think of it as a tool—“ Izuku says, pensive. “What I need to do is learn how to use this tool step by step. I hadn’t thought of it, but I should be able to turn One For All on just a bit. Go with gradients, instead of full power right away.”

 

“Mh.” Gran Torino sniffs, apparently having nothing to say against that. “And?”

 

“And maybe… What you’ve noticed, is that I tend to have better control on my legs, rather than my arms.”

 

“Bingo.” Something hard patting at his calves. “At least you’re not stupid, kid. That, I can work with.”

 

In hindsight, it was obvious. When he jumped over the robots and the pit, when he dashed to surpass Todoroki and Kacchan. When he charged and sprinted against Todoroki, even his kicks— Despite his legs feeling like they might give up, he always managed to keep control. On the other hand, of the four punches he landed on Todoroki, two of them broke his hand.

 

“Ok then, let’s start again, mh?”

 

Izuku takes a deep breath, focusing. All Might gave him much, helping him understanding how to fully activate One For All, but now he has to forget that, and walk his own path.

 

Gradients.

 

The power it’s still almost overwhelming, but it feels sweeter, running through his veins. The horse has calmed down a bit.

 

“How does it feel, kid?”

 

“Like I will not completely run out of stamina in three minutes flat.” Izuku replies, voice low, energy flowing through him. “Shall we?”

 

 

It doesn’t immediately go as well as Izuku hoped.

 

He feels like his brain might overheat. He has to keep One For All in check, keep the energy output low, and at the same time trying to keep up with Gran Torino’s speed.

 

The old man is a zip-zapping blur of movements in his radar, the input is overwhelming. When he gets another kick in the back, Izuku goes down, his head spinning.

 

“What’s the problem, kid?” Gran Torino asks, blessedly stopping his constant jumps. “This is has nothing to do with One For All, right? It’s your other quirk.”

 

Izuku is almost angered by how perceptive this guys is. Slowly, he tries to get up. “You’re so fast, my brain feels like a computer crashing over and over. There’s just so much input.” He admits, surprising himself with how irritated he sounds.

 

Gran Torino doesn’t comment as Izuku kneels, examining his own feelings as he distractedly pulls at his lower lip.

 

To be honest, he’s angry towards himself. The limits of his unseeing eyes seem to always kick him in the rear end whenever he expects it the less. His quirk is useful and he totally wouldn’t be there if it wasn’t for it, of course, but sometimes it was just so much

 

Izuku blinks, his eyes widening in realization.

 

“Thinking about something?”

 

“Yes—“ Izuku replies, distracted. “I think I know what I’m doing wrong.”

 

He blurted the line about the crashing computer without thinking, but now he realizes that thinking about it like a computer makes sense. When his quirk is activated, his radar is always on, but most of the time Izuku is capable of tuning out all the unnecessary stuff, keeping it in the back of his mind. Still, it’s there, background info in his feed, using precious processing power.

 

But, he realizes, there had been a couple of times he unconsciously managed to stop that process, and only focus on what was strictly necessary. Many months ago, when he charged against the mud-villain that took Kacchan, when he focused so hard, to make sure he would hit the right spot— And not as long ago, in the fight with Todoroki. He forgotten the crowd, forgotten even Midnight and Cementoss-sensei right nearby. He only focused on Todoroki. His ice was extremely fast -maybe not as fast as Gran Torino, but still, pretty damn fast-, and yet back then Izuku managed perfectly well to feel it coming, and move accordingly.

 

But now, he was keeping the scope of his radar too wide. Too many things to think about. He had been so single-mindedly focused onto the idea that being able to perceive for a longer distance, from the very first days of discovering his quirk, was the right thing to do, that he never really thought he should be able to do the opposite, if it was necessary.

 

So, he does that. Focuses, tones it down, until it’s just him, and Gran Torino, and a circle around himself to perceive the physical obstacles in his way.

 

“Looks like you worked it out on your own.” Gran Torino says, sounding satisfied. “Ready to start again?”

 

And, for the first time since he entered in that living room, Izuku finds himself smiling.

 

 

When Toshinori’s phone dings deep into the night, his heart shoots up to his throat.

 

He wasn’t sleeping, just lying in his bed, staring at the ceiling, thinking thinking thinking— But still, a message this late? It never means good.

 

With a grunt he sits, taking the phone on his nightstand. And when he sees the name displaying on the screen, his heart gives another painful churn.

 

He wills his finger to stop trembling, as he opens the text from Gran Torino.

 

It’s a picture of Midoriya. Asleep, mouth open, sprawled on the floor with his limbs in four different directions. Toshinori flinches when he sees the scraps and bruises all over his arms and legs, and he can only imagine it’s the same under the clothes he’s wearing.

 

He feels so guilty— He respected Gran Torino enough to know he would drag the best out of the boy, but he also knew that the man would not hold back, no matter how young or inexperienced Midoriya was.

 

Another text follows.

 

“Your boy is a bit of a rough diamond, but I’m polishing him good. When you’ll get him back by the end of the week, he will be ready for real field-work.”

 

Toshinori looks back up at the picture. Midoriya’s open mouth seems to curve upwards, like the boy is satisfyingly smiling to himself in his sleep.

 

A deep sighs releases the knot in his chest. He should stop fussing over young Midoriya so much. The boy really has in him all he needs to keep walking forward, and then some.

 

A last text follows some seconds later.

 

“Your teaching sucks, by the way.”

 

Well. Some things never change.

 

 

After catching the taxi, they hadn’t spoken much. Gran Torino seemed satisfied when Izuku picked right up the reason they were going to Hosu, after three gruelling days of sparring.

 

Izuku felt much more comfortable with One For All already. Sure, his damage output was much, much lower now, but his control over the power grew considerably, not to mention his much improved endurance. All in all, not a bad trade.

 

And they were finally going to have some real work experience on the field. By all means, he should be excited, but he could not shake this bad feeling off of himself.

 

Iida was in Hosu, too. Thinking about his friend, that he parted ways with so coldly, left a sore taste in his mouth, and a bad sensation from the pit of his stomach. Sighing, he forces himself to relax against the train’s seat. He just hoped Iida was ok.

 

He spent quite a while like this, relaxed, his eyes closed, the now familiar presence of Gran Torino at his side, that when something familiar and yet not familiar at all blips on his radar, he immediately tenses on his seat like a plank, hands gripping at the armrests.

 

“Kid?” Gran Torino asks, perplexed. “Don’t tell me you get motion-sickness—“

 

“No, sir, something is really wrong—“ Izuku says hastily, shooting out of his seat. The thing it’s coming closer, and fast. “Why—“

 

“Kid, what’s going on?” Gran Torino asks, jumping after him and grabbing his arm.

 

Izuku doesn’t have the time to answer. Instead he yells “GET DOWN!”, pushing his weight on Gran Torino in an instinctual protective motion, and then the side of the carriage explodes, debris flying right over Izuku’s head.

 

The noumu is here.

 

“What the hell is that thing—“ Gran Torino asks, wiggling free from under Izuku. “Stay here, kid, don’t move!”

 

“Sir, those things are strong, please be careful—“

 

But Gran Torino is already off, and with him, the noumu.

 

He hears frantic voices around him, someone ordering everyone to keep calm and stay put, but Izuku’s mind is elsewhere, feverishly working.

 

Why was a noumu here? What the hell is going on? And—

 

Iida

 

This is bad, this is really, really bad—

 

Forcing himself to take in deep breaths, calm his racing heart, Izuku closes his eyes and focuses. He focuses as hard as he can, expanding his radar— He ignores the splitting pain in his head, protesting at the exertion, and the feeling of something warm running down on his lips and chin. Hundreds and hundreds of lights— There are more noumus and— A familiar blip.

 

Iida is going down a road, alone, and not far from him Izuku feels something yet again familiar, and new.

 

A not-light, so similar to Shigaraki’s and yet giving much of a different feeling. More focused, more driven, more—

 

It finally clicks. What Iida was hiding—

 

No. No no no no no

 

 

Tenya is an idiot. A furious, furious idiot.

 

He finally tracked down the hero killer, he finally had a chance to avenge his brother—

 

And he wasted it.

 

Blinded by the raging anger in his gut, that indescribable feeling from the pit of his stomach, he charged against the monster, but there was nothing he could do. Frozen on the floor by the oppressing power of Stain, now, all he can do is try to reply, to justify himself, as Stain goes on and on about how egoistical and un-hero like he had been.

 

Tenya wants nothing more than to take that little voice in him telling him that Stain is right and squash it.

 

“Well, it can’t be helped.” Stain finally said, closing the distance between them. “I’ll take you out before you can properly grow to become yet another selfish hero. Good bye, Ingenium’s brother.”

 

And then, a miracle happens.

 

A bright green blur passes into Tenya’s field of vision and he strains his eyes up, trying to see what is going on.

 

Stain flies back, hitting the floor, when Midoriya lands a kick on him.

 

—Midoriya?!

 

“Wha—“

 

“Iida!” Midoriya exclaims, turning around. He’s pale, blood slowly drying under his nostrils, on his chin. His eyes seems brighter than they usually are. “Are you ok? Can you move?”

 

“I can’t— “ Tenya replies, voice strained. “It’s his quirk, he cut me and now I can’t move—“

 

He watches Midoriya grit his teeth, his unseeing eyes moving in that way that suggests he’s deep in thought. A bit away, Stain curiously asks “Another kid?”

 

The image of Midoriya, standing in the doorway of the empty class, asking him if he really feels ok with that worried expression of his, his pale eyes boring into Tenya as if he somehow knows exactly what he was really thinking, resurfaces in his mind. Anger and shame boil in him, a confusing soup of emotion that threatens to overcome him—

 

“Midoriya, go away!” He snaps. “This is my business—“

 

“SHUT UP!” Midoriya roars, surprising him. His eyes are glistening with tears. “I came here to save you, you stubborn ass! Instead of sitting there trying to chase me away, move!”

 

“This has nothing to do with you—“ Tenya tries to protest, sounding weak to his own ears.

 

“Well, you are lucky that All Might taught me that a hero’s job is to butt nose in business that has nothing to do with them, then.” Midoriya replies, matter-of-factly, turning away from Tenya. “I’m not leaving until I can take both of you out of here, safe and sound.” He shifts, getting himself in a combat position. He’s almost glowing, Tenya realizes, surprised— just how much does Midoriya have hidden in him?

 

“I have a mission, kid, but you— You are worth keeping alive.” Stain says, slowly walking with purpose toward them. “I’ll spare your life, if you step aside and let me fulfil my duty—“

 

“Like fucking hell I will—“

 

They both sprint toward each other. Stain is already swinging his long blade, but Midoriya jumps and twist in the air, managing to connect a kick in the back of Stain’s head. Tenya is both surprised and not surprised at all, Midoriya had shown an incredible speed during the festival -from where that came from, Tenya had no idea-, but the way he moves now seems more flexible and relaxed. Natural. His movements during the festival had been rigid as a plank in comparison.

 

Stain stumbles forward, a smile twisting his features, like he’s having fun.

 

They go back and forth for long seconds, dodging, twisting around each other in a deathly dance. Midoriya is fast, but the vantage Stain has with his blades, a longer reach, keeps the much smaller Midoriya at bay.

 

“Seems I can’t cut you—“

 

It happens so quickly, like a lighting bolt. Stain forces Midoriya to jump over his sword, and then in an instant his face is so close to Midoriya’s, a unnatural long tongue darting out—

 

He licks the still slightly humid blood on Midoriya’s chin, and Midoriya goes down like a rock.

 

 

Izuku feels his entire being freeze as he falls and tumbles, unable to move a single finger.

 

“It’s the blood—“ He coughs. “You need the blood to freeze us—“

 

“Nice deduction, kid.” Stain replies. “Now, stay put and let me finish my job.”

 

“No—“ Izuku grunts, willing his body to move. But, traitorous, it does not. “Don’t touch them!”

 

Stain is close, so close to Iida, now. His not-light it’s full of murderous intent—

 

STOP—!” He yells, and then a big flash makes him flinch, as a mix of extremely hot and extremely cold air caresses him in a gentle way.

 

“Next time you should be more clear, Midoriya.” Todoroki’s almost placid tone says. “I hope I’m not too late.”

 

“Todoroki—“ Izuku whispers, relieved. With Todoroki’s incredible strength, now that he’s using both his sides at the same time, they have a chance.

 

 

“Todoroki, you too—how?”

 

Shouto takes into the scene in front of him. Iida is on the floor near him, bloodied, two clear wounds in his shoulders. There’s a pro hero Shouto distantly knows, Native it’s his name, he thinks, sitting with his back against the wall. A bit further, Midoriya, sweaty, blood on his mouth and chin, is paralysed on the floor, his face turned toward him. His eyes seems to almost glow in the dark.

 

Stain is standing near him, apparently not interested in hurting Midoriya.

 

“I came as soon as I saw the message.” Shouto says, bidding time as he thinks what he should do next. “I was confused, at first, when you sent your position to everyone, but then I understood it could only be a call for help, you wouldn’t do something like that just because.”

 

“Todoroki—“ Midoriya says, strained, baring his teeth. “Don’t let him lick your blood— That’s how he froze us—”

 

Shouto closes his mouth in a thin line. Soon enough the pros will be there as well, so all he has to do is buy time.—

 

A knife grazes past his cheek, a tiny cut opening on the skin, just as Shouto is using his ice to slide both Native and Midoriya closer to him. Stain is already on him, incredibly fast, and Shouto manages just in time to feed into the fire, flames turning the small alley in a spectacle of orange hues as Stain jumps back to avoid the searing heat.

 

“Stop it, damn it!” Iida yells, frustrated. “Both of you— I took my brother’s name for a reason, I have to do it! It’s me that should—“

 

“You took his name?” Shouto replies, rising a wall of ice to try protect all of them from the brutal strength of the enemy. “That’s funny. The Ingenium I remember would never make a desperate face such as yours.” A sigh. “But then again, I cannot know what is going on behind the scenes of your family.”

 

He hears Midoriya choke a bit behind him, but doesn’t turn. Suddenly, the ice is cut into small pieces, as Stain’s voice reaches them.

 

“Trying to hide from someone stronger than you, what a wasteful attempt.”

 

Shouto’s flames flare up on his arm, ready to attack, when the high sting of pain freezes him for a second as frightfully sharp blades sinks into his forearm. Stain is already up in the air, above him, complimenting his strength as he starts to fall with his blade pointed right at Shouto.

 

In a second, Midoriya jumps up like a green lighting bolt, grabbing Stain’s blood red scarf and jerking him away from the trajectory, yelling “I can move again!”

 

They struggle in the air, Stain violently elbowing Midoriya in a side, sending him hitting a wall and then falling down on the floor with a strangled cough.

 

“Fall back, Midoriya!” Shouto exclaims, his ice already shooting toward Stain. Midoriya manages to roll away and then jump back at Shouto’s side right in time.

 

“I’m the only one that can move again—“ Midoriya pants. “It could be dependent on how much blood he ingested, or how many people he has stopped already, or—“

 

“—Or blood type.” Shouto finishes for him. They must’ve been both thinking the same thing.

 

“Guess you got that right, kid.” Stain replies with a lopsided smile. “Blood type is the answer.”

 

“That doesn’t help us much, though.” Midoriya says in a low voice, so only Shouto could hear him. There’s a tense note in it. “We could try to run, but—“

 

“He won’t give us an opening, he’s too fast.” Shouto whispers back. “The pros are coming. I think our only chance is to keep his attention and try to avoid close quarter combat, if possible.”

 

He feels Midoriya gloved fingers gentle on his wrist, as a strange glow seems to light up his entire body. “You’re losing too much blood.” He says, clearly worried. “I’ll keep him busy, try to be my support.”

 

Shouto grits his teeth, but his voice is levelled when he replies. “I know. Be careful.” A beat a silence before he adds. “We will protect them, together.”

 

Midoriya nods, giving him one last determined look before dashing forward. Shouto watches his back, a sting of worry in his heart, and yet all he can do is trust this boy that came and stretched a hand towards him, yelled at him to take it.

 

Saved him.

 

Together, they could do it.

 

He watches, ready for any opening he could take advantage of, as Midoriya charges against the enemy with a kick, forcing him to sidestep. Stain seems unwilling to really hurt Midoriya, somehow, but that doesn’t mean he won’t attack. They dance around each other for a bunch of seconds, quick on their feet, before one of Stain’s frightfully quick blades manages to connect with one of Midoriya’s legs, and a pained cough escapes his throat as blood flies in a almost elegant arc in the air.

 

Todoroki—!” Midoriya chokes out, apologetic and scared, Stain charging at them.

 

“Stop it—“ Iida murmurs behind Shouto.

 

So much pain in his voice, so much resentment, and confusion—

 

A feeling Shouto is all too accustomed with.

 

“If you want us to stop, then get up, and really look at the kind of hero you want to be!” The yell is out of his throat before he can even realize, as both his sides flares up with energy in a desperate attempt to slow down Stain.

 

The blade is already on his arm, Shouto is going to lose it, it’s going to get cut off clean—

 

Iida shoots forward like a bullet, and the snap of the blade breaking seems to almost reverberate in the air.

 

 

Tenya pants heavily, gaining back control on his limbs. His recipro-burst stopped the attack of Stain right in time, sending him skidding back, but he has no time to stop and rest. He charges again, landing a kick that sends the monster roll backward, away from Todoroki.

 

Midoriya, a bit further, is trying to stand back on his legs, trembling. Tenya can see the blood roll down from his calf, getting almost lost on Midoriya’s bright red shoe.

 

“Involving you two in this terrible matter—“ Tenya bites out, trying to control his voice. “Todoroki, Midoriya, I’m sorry.”

 

“Don’t you start with that whole lone-wolf vengeance thing again—“ Midoriya replies, clearly ticked off, but Tenya shakes his head.

 

“I won’t allow him to spill anymore of your blood.”

 

At that, the expression on Midoriya’s face changes in understanding. Almost relief.

 

Tenya feels like that the dent he put in that bridge connecting him and Midoriya is finally being repaired.

 

“Don’t try to fool me, brat. A man’s nature doesn’t change that easily.” Stain says, his voice low. “You are just one more fake hero, warping and twisting the word to his own selfish desire.”

 

“Don’t pay him mind, Iida.” Todoroki murmurs right behind him. “His ideas are—“

 

“No.” Tenya admits, feeling like his heart is being squeezed in a fist. “He is right. I’ve been acting in the worst possible way, staining the name of the hero I admired the most.”

 

Tenya takes a deep breath. He’d been an idiot, stewing in his own resentment, ignoring his friends’ attempt to help him.

 

He won’t make the same mistake twice.

 

“But still, I can’t give up, now. Not if I want to properly carry the name of Ingenium.”

 

A mad grin twists Stain’s features, his oppressing presence becoming even heavier. Todoroki doesn’t hesitate, a burst of flame shooting toward the enemy.

 

Tenya can feel the heath in his rigid leg. The recipro-burst, and that kick— Something might not be working properly.

 

“Todoroki!” Tenya yells over the cacophony. “Do you think you can adjust the temperature in my legs without clogging the pipes?”

 

Todoroki turns to him, understanding dawning in his eyes, but Tenya sees something coming. Instinct kicks in as he stretches his right arm forward, shielding Todoroki barely in time as a blade sinks into his flesh. He doesn’t have the time to even make a sound, as another blade hits him, sinking in, pinning him to the ground.

 

“Iida—“ Todoroki yells, shocked.

 

“Don’t worry! Do it, quick!” Tenya replies, desperation clawing at his stomach. They don’t have time

 

Todoroki doesn’t hesitate, his right hand on Tenya’s calf. He feels the ice, the temperature lowering, and in the corner of his eyes he sees Midoriya, standing, his face pointed up at Stain with pure, unadulterated determination on his features, teeth bared, clearly ready to make a jump for him.

 

Tenya’s own teeth clash on the blade pinning his arm down as he jerks it out, ignoring the pain, and then he jumps.

 

Time seems to slow down for a second. He and Midoriya, coming to Stain from different sides, both of them twisting in the air ready to hit—

 

Their kicks connect, Midoriya’s on Stain’s face, his on the lower half of his torso, twisting him like a grotesque puppet for an instant.

 

But it hasn’t ended yet. Midoriya makes a little, pained sound, just as Stain’s bloodshot eye shoots open, his arm extending—

 

I won’t let him spill my friends’ blood, not again.

 

Tenya turns one more time, putting all he has in his legs, and with one last burst he manages to kick again, the recoil of the hit running up his spine.

 

Stain’s body twists in the air as he and Midoriya fall, a slide of ice guiding them down safely, and Todoroki’s mouth open as if he wants to warn them—

 

“He’s out—“ Midoriya says with a cough, his back against Tenya’s chest once they have slides all the way down to Todoroki’s side. “He’s unconscious.”

 

A beat of silence, and then the three of them release a relieved sigh at the same time.

 

 

Shouto’s dragging Stain outside the alley with the pro hero, Native, as he apologizes with a contrite expression.

 

“I could only stand there and watch…” He says, bitter.

 

“Not much you could do.” Shouto replies, evenly. “In a one on one battle, that man will always have the upper hand. We got lucky that we were in a group, and he made mistakes in his haste.”

 

Behind them, Midoriya, that refused Native’s offer to carry him, is limping a bit, leaning against Iida’s left arm, seeing as his right was in pretty bad shape.

 

Iida’s face is a mask, but the pain in his eyes is clear. Without his glasses, he looks much younger.

 

“The other pros must be coming.” Shouto says once they are out in the street, looking around.

 

“Were you here for your work experience week, Todoroki?” Midoriya asks, voice tired. Shouto nods, before remembering his friend cannot see him, and vocalize a little yes. Midoriya sighs. “So lucky you were nearby. I don’t know what I could’ve possibly done without you.”

 

He has his eyes closed, his temple leaning against Iida’s shoulder.

 

Iida’s himself looks tense, eyes slightly wet. After opening and closing his mouth a couple of times he casts his eyes low.

 

“I owe you both an apology.” He says, voice trembling. “I completely lost control, let my anger overcome me. Midoriya— you tried so hard to help me, and yet I refused you—“

 

But Midoriya shakes his head, his eyes cracking open as a little smile appears on his lips. “It’s ok.” He says, gentle. “I— I could’ve done more. Tried more. But— We are ok, and— And you are better, now, so it’s fine.”

 

That seems to have the opposite effect on Iida, tears finally spilling as he watches his friend with his mouth hanging slightly open.

 

Shouto turns away. “You’re our class president. Pull yourself together.” Despite how harsh the words may seem, his voice is gentle. He sees in the corner of his eyes Iida nod, drying his tears away.

 

A small, old man jumps out an alley on the opposite side of the road.

 

“Kid!” He yells, angry, and in a second he’s onto them, fast as lighting bolt, stopping in front of Midoriya. “What the hell are you doing here?! I told you to stay put!”

 

“Gran Torino—“ Midoriya says, blinking. “I’m sorry, sir—“

 

The old man is glaring at him so hard Shouto is almost glad for Midoriya that he is blind, at the moment.

 

Soon enough more people emerges from the same alley, approaching them.

 

“Kids?” “You got terrible wounds, someone call an ambulance!” “Is that the hero killer?!”

 

Shouto blinks, turning toward one of his father’s assistants. “If Endeavor isn’t here— Does it mean he’s still fighting?”

 

“Yes.” She answers. “Our quirks couldn’t help, so we were sent here.”

 

“The noumu—“ Midoriya murmurs, making Shouto turn toward him in shock. Wasn’t the noumu that horrible creature they saw at the U.S.J.?

 

He sees Midoriya’s eyes go wide as he tenses and turns, pushing Iida away, a scream that doesn’t have the time to leave his lips “GET DOW—“

 

Shouto stretches his arm up as fast as he can, his fingertips barely grazing Midoriya’s as he’s taken away by the flying creature.

 

 

The claws are tight around Izuku’s torso, he can feel the sharp tips of them poking against his skin through his costume.

 

The sensation of lifting off the ground so suddenly is dizzying, sending his senses into panic for a second, the noumu rapidly gaining height.

 

The confusion is enough to make him realize an instant too late what is going on on the ground. He turns his face to the little cluster of lights under him, screaming “WATCH OUT! STAIN IS FREE—!”

 

The hero killer is already on the move. Izuku feels the noumu go rigid, and then the sensation of falling down.

 

The touch sends a shiver down Izuku’s spine when Stain catches him mid-air, his arm around Izuku’s torso, and lands them safely on the ground, putting Izuku down almost gently.

 

He feels nausea claw at his stomach, a mix of his senses trying to adjust after his rapid ascent and descent, and of Stain’s oppressive, negative light.

 

The man is murmuring something as Izuku, lying on his side, tries to turn his face towards his friends, fighting the gagging sensation that’s creeping up his stomach.

 

Another group is approaching. Endeavor, and some of his assistants, surely. When the man recognizes Stain, Izuku can feel his light go on a frenzy at the thought of catching the hero killer.

 

In a second, Izuku feels like the weight of Stain’s convictions might just squash him into a pulp. The man turns, angrily murmuring “another phony—“ and for how much Izuku dislikes Endeavor, his instinct still kicks in, one of his hands grabbing at Stain’s ankle in a pitiful attempt to stop him.

 

But Stain still walks, his voice almost inhuman when he screams out an invitation. “COME! THE ONLY ONE THAT CAN KILL ME IS ALL MIGHT!”

 

Izuku feels the fear ripple through everyone’s lights like a wave, Stain’s ankle slipping from his grasp. Time seems to almost crawl to a stop as the man keeps moving forward, step after step, an oppressing silence freezing everyone in place.

 

Then he stops.

 

“He’s unconscious—“ Izuku breathes out, shocked. The man it’s still standing, but Izuku knows by his not-light that he must be, like he had known earlier.

 

Still, the oppression hasn’t let go yet and that finally wins over him, his guts rebelling to him as he spews the content of his stomach on the floor, coughing, bile burning in his throat.

 

After a few seconds he feels Todoroki’s hand on his back, caressing him in an attempt to comfort him. Todoroki is shivering, but the touch is infinitely gentle.

 

 

After being throughly chewed out both by the pro-heroes responsible for them, and the chief of police, the three of them had no other choice than to accept the back-handed compliments the dog-faced-man gave them for their work, and his proposition to cover up the whole story and avoid the legal repercussions that would come in their way.

 

The passion in Todoroki’s voice as he first objected, citing the fact that helping is what a hero should do, came as a surprise to Izuku, but a welcomed one. Todoroki changed so much, his light felt much more balanced and serene than it had ever been.

 

Gran Torino called him outside for a minute, after the chief of police left.

 

“I will tell Toshinori what happened.” The old man told him in a low voice, before sighing. “You are unbelievable— If it wasn’t for the fact that I know him well, I would almost think you could be his literal biological son. You are like two peas in a pod.”

 

Despite the reproaching tone, that felt like a compliment to Izuku, so he silently took it with a poker face.

 

“Now go back in the room and rest. I will be seeing you tomorrow, brat.”

 

He obeyed, just too tired by the roller-coaster that had been his day. They didn’t try to chat when the lights went off, all three of them probably busy with their own thoughts. Soon enough, Izuku heard Iida’s breath go soft and regular as he fell asleep.

 

Despite how tired he was, sleep seemed to elude Izuku, instead. There was so much in his head, and he still felt slightly sick to his stomach.

 

Also, Todoroki definitely wasn’t sleeping, too. Izuku long turned his radar off for the day, but from the way he heard his classmate twist and turn on his bed, it was clear sleep was a foreign concept for him as well.

 

“Are you thinking about something?” Izuku finally asked in a whisper. Might as well do something else, other than rewinding over and over in his head the happenings of the day.

 

After a beat of silence, Todoroki whispers back. “Yes. I was thinking about how absolutely insane you are.”

 

Izuku blinks, debating with himself if he should turn his radar back on to try understand Todoroki’s feelings. But he knew his head -and probably his stomach, too- wouldn’t agree with that, so he avoids it.

 

“What makes you say that?” He asks, instead.

 

“When you got taken away by that thing, you turned to try warn us about Stain.” Todoroki replies. There’s a note in his voice Izuku cannot quite pin-point. “And after that, when you were on the ground you grabbed Stain, like you wanted to stop him.”

 

“… You are quite observant, Todoroki.” Izuku replies after a long second, not sure of what else he should say.

 

He hears rustling, and then a weight on his cot. Todoroki must’ve sat down near him. Izuku wonders if he can see him. It’s deep into the night and the lights in the hospital room are off, but maybe there’s still a bit of light from outside. He wonders how Todoroki looks like, now, what kind of expression there’s on his face.

 

The seconds ticks by, Izuku’s face turned slightly towards the soft sound of Todoroki’s breathing.

 

“Try not to die, Midoriya.” Todoroki says, his fingers a ghost touch on Izuku’s arm. “I won’t be happy if you do.”

 

He goes back to his bed, after that, saying no more. The sentence had been clear, and yet the tone was almost cryptic.

 

Still, something seemed to release in Izuku’s chest after that, and soon enough he let himself relax into the sweet embrace of sleep.

Chapter Text

 

Maybe he should actually listen to Aizawa, and go get himself a prescription for some kind of sedative. The way his heart is going madly in his chest cannot be good for him.

 

He just heard through the grapevines that Endeavor managed to catch the hero killer in Hosu. The news had been very uplifting, one less thing to be worrying about.

 

Then Gran Torino called. Toshinori looked at the caller id for a good ten seconds before taking a deep breath and answering.

 

The first thing that came out of Gran Torino mouth was “ Your kid just fought, and won, against the hero killer.

 

Toshinori was sure he was just about to spit out a lung.

 

Granted, he wasn’t alone. There were Todoroki’s son and the kid of the Iidas with him. Still, that brat managed something I couldn’t really believe he could possibly do at his current level.

 

“Young Todoroki and Iida, too?” Toshinori exhaled, feeling his head light. “What even—?”

 

Gran Torino filled him in with what has happened, finishing with an exasperated. “ I can’t believe that kid. The way he moves his feet before his brain— It’s just like you.

 

“He has that tendency, yes…” Toshinori sighs, a hand on his forehead. “I’m sorry, it must’ve been troubling— My teaching has been incredibly inadequate—“

 

You can say that louder. ” Gran Torino grumbles, before continuing. “ Listen, this whole hero killer business is very troubling, and I have a bad feeling about this.

 

Toshinori listens as Gran Torino explains his theory, frowning, his entire body shivering when Gran Torino says in a low voice. “ I’m afraid All For One might be behind this.

 

He has to force himself to calm down, feeling a drop of sweat running down from his temple. “I refuse to believe he could possibly still be alive after that wound—“

 

Gran Torino hesitates, white noise filling Toshinori’s ear for a second, before he continues. “ Toshinori. That boy absolutely adores you. You must tell him as soon as possible everything regarding you and One For All. You owe him that much, at least.

 

Toshinori closes his eyes, frowning. The smile that the boy had given him during the festival after telling him that he now knew how Toshinori looked like resurfaces from his memories, traitorous.

 

Take care of yourself. You don’t want to go and break that boy’s heart, now, do you.

 

Goddamnit.

 

“I know.” He sighs, a trembling hand covering his eyes. “I know.”

 

There’s another bout of silence, then in a lighter, more casual tone Gran Torino says. “ Speaking of which, a blind boy? Really? You always had the tendency to pick up strays from the side of the road, but still—

 

And for how much he loves and respects his old teacher, Toshinori feels a sting of anger at that. “He’s perfectly capable—“

 

The laugh through the receiver interrupts him.

 

I just wanted to poke some fun at you, Toshinori. Over-protective as always! Don’t worry, the boy is fine. He’s got heart aplenty and brains when he wants to. Would be better if he used it a bit more before acting, though.

 

Toshinori deflates on his couch. “Right. That was a cruel joke, though, sensei.” He replies with a lopsided smile, accidentally slipping into the old honorific. “I guess I will have to have another chat with young Midoriya at the first occasion.”

 

A sniff. “ You do that. In the meantime I’ll try cram some common sense in that stubborn head for the rest of the time we have left.

 

“Good luck with that.” He can’t help but reply, releasing a little laugh at Gran Torino’s groan.

 

When they closed the call, Toshinori let his arm fall down at his side, still holding the phone. With the other he covers his eyes, head resting on the back of the couch.

 

If it’s not the joint effort of his rapidly disappearing One For All, his collection of wounds, and All For One to finally do him in, young Midoriya might just be the source of his untimely demise.

 

Being a teacher is hard .

 

 

Izuku could not hide that he was a bit disappointed that he ended up getting the rest of his work experience week cut short, since Gran Torino’s teaching permit had been revoked — his fault, too —, but with what has happened it was kind of inevitable.

 

It had been sad, too, to discover about Iida’s hand receiving a possibly permanent damage, but his friend took the news in stride, with a renewed resolution to become a great hero. They made a promise to keep going forward, together, and together they laughed at Todoroki’s weird joke of being a hand-crusher that turned out not to be a joke at all in his opinion (seriously, Izuku was so relieved to discover more and more that Todoroki was truly just a very silent, awkward dork).

 

Soon enough he had to say bye to Gran Torino, and for how harsh the old man had been on him, Izuku still had a great deal of respect, realizing how much he learnt. That’s why he couldn’t deny that, as he stood outside Gran Torino’s house, his costume under an arm, he did feel a bit sad.

 

“Thank you so much for everything, sir.” Izuku says with a little bow. “It’s only thanks to you if I’ve been able to hold my own against the hero killer. I’ve learnt a lot.”

 

Gran Torino’s cane twacks against his leg. “Don’t get in over your head, kiddo, you got lucky the man wasn’t fighting you seriously!” He reprimands. “Still, it’s a good thing you’ve managed to control your damage output during the fight. Now, if you could exert that control on your own impulses and not jump into dangerous situations like an idiot, that would be for the better.”

 

Izuku scratches the back of his head, embarrassed, as Gran Torino adds. “If you really want to become as strong as All Might, then you have still a lot of work to do, kid. Don’t relax.”

 

“I know.” Izuku replies, serious, before giving the man a little smile. “Well, I guess it’s time to go.”

 

He turned, starting to walk away with a little limp -he hopes Recovery Girl will accept to cure the wound on his leg…- when Gran Torino called after him.

 

“Kid, who are you, then?”

 

Izuku turns, perplexed, thinking the old man is trying to play another trick on him, before his minds connects the dots.

 

“Oh!” He says, a grin breaking on his mouth. “It’s Deku!”

 

He has the distinct impression that Gran Torino is smiling at him.

 

 

Izuku, Iida and Todoroki ended up naturally gravitating toward one another once back at school, which really wasn’t all that surprising considering what kind of experience they shared.

 

They were chatting between themselves with quiet voices by Todoroki’s desk, as the class excitedly shared with one another their respective experiences during the week. Izuku heard Kirishima and Sero laugh almost hysterically as Kacchan’s light emitted pure rage after he entered the class.

 

“Why are they laughing like that?” Izuku asks, perplexed. There’s a beat of silence before Todoroki answers in a calm, composed tone. “It’s Bakugou’s hair. He looks like he had a cow licking his head, it’s ridiculous.”

 

“Oh, that would explain it.” Izuku replies, distracted. Maybe in another situation he would’ve laughed at the mere thought, but hearing the cheerful voices of most of his classmates happily sharing their experiences made him realize yet again just in which kind of dangerous situation he, Todoroki and Iida had been. He didn’t felt particularly frayed, but he just didn’t felt like laughing, either.

 

“…You three, though.” He hears Kaminari say, clearly continuing from some kind of prior discussion as he turns to face them. “You are the one that changed the most. Especially you, Midoriya, you look dead serious right now.”

 

“Yeah, the hero killer—“ Sero intervenes from somewhere in front of the class, his voice slightly muffled. “That must’ve been scary.”

 

“I’m just glad you guys are ok.” Kirishima added. “You got rescued by Endeavor, right?”

 

Izuku turns toward Todoroki, his mouth thinning in a line. But Todoroki is perfectly calm as he says “Yeah, we got rescued.”

 

“When I saw it on the news I couldn’t believe it.” Ojiro says, pensive. “To think a man like that could possibly be working with the league of villains…”

 

“That’s pretty scary for sure.” Kaminari continues, distracted. “But I have to admit, watching those videos, the man was kind of cool—“

 

Kaminari —“ Izuku interjects, frowning. It’s clear his classmate realized the slip, his light rippling with regret and shame. But Iida is impassive as Kaminari apologizes.

 

“I can understand why people would consider the strength of his convictions cool.” He says, voice low. “But he went with it in the worst possible way, and that is unforgivable. That is why I will keep walking the path of becoming a hero with renewed strength!”

 

Kaminari it’s still apologizing as Izuku pats Iida’s shoulder a couple of times, giving him a knowing little smile.

 

 

Later than afternoon, after All Might explained which kind of exercise they were going to do, Izuku found himself a bit excited at the prospect of showing him his progress.

 

All the classmates he’s racing against are fairly fast and agile. Sero especially will be advantaged by the terrain, and Izuku knew that Iida would give it all, even if he was probably still recovering from the battle.

 

But still, Izuku wants to show off a bit. The terrain offers him a huge variety of perches to jump to and from.

As he activates One For All at his lower gradient, he promises himself he won’t touch the ground a single time until he has reached the objective.

 

When the start is given he dashes in a jump, barely landing on a pipe, boosting himself again with just the tip of his feet. He manages to jump from point to point in the little mental course he studied while observing the terrain, feeling agile and flexible. In comparison to the way he felt during the festival, where his body was constantly taut with the exertion of keeping One For All at bay, this was paradise.

 

It’s exhilarating, in a sense, almost like flying. He’s really, actually having fun .

 

Of course that is the moment he slips, literally. He ends up miscalculating his footing, and manages to hang from the pipe he slipped on by a thread. As he rushes to climb up and restart his run to the objective, Sero already caught up and surpassed him, claiming the first place right in front of Izuku’s eyes.

 

“Aw, man—“ He moans as he lands on the platform, Iida, Ojiro and Ashido rapidly following.

 

“That was a good one, Midoriya, you almost made it before me.” Sero comments cheerfully, giving him an energetic pat on the back. “Nice moves.”

 

“You have all improved the use of your quirks considerably, good job!” All Might says in his usual booming voice. Then as Sero and Ashido friendly banter between themselves, he approached Izuku, whispering. “You did very good, I almost did not recognize you! Come by my office, later, there’s some things I need to tell you.”

 

Izuku sighed. Surely All Might wanted to scold him for acting so recklessly that night in Hosu.

 

And yet, as the little chimes only Izuku could feel vibrated gently back and forth in him, he could not help but feel that whatever All Might wanted to tell him would be much, much more serious.

 

 

“Say, Midoriya.” Todoroki approaches him quietly in the locker room, voice low. “The moves you’ve shown today, have you learnt them from that old, fast guy you went to for you work experience week?”

 

He can hear the other boys bicker about one thing or the other, and he has the distinct impression Todoroki is purposefully keeping his voice low for a reason. Izuku wondered if Todoroki saw right through him and his newfound abilities, it wouldn’t be surprising.

 

Then again it was inevitable that his new, rather flashy talents would pick his classmates’ curiosity. He had to face the music, one way or the other.

 

“Yeah, you could say that—“ He replies with a little, strained smile.

 

Todoroki hums, not adding anything else.

 

 

When he enters into the office and All Might asks him to lock the door, Izuku knows that something is not right.

 

He obeys, silently sitting in front of his mentor as he clearly fidgets nervously.

 

“Young Midoriya, I already told you the story of One For All.” He says. Izuku can feel how tense he is, can feel a pool of dark thoughts and feelings in All Might’s stomach like they are in his own. “I also told you of All For One, and of how I fought him five years ago.”

 

“Yes…?” Izuku replies, slowly, when the silence stretches.

 

“I thought that story ended.” All Might says. “I thought wrong.”

 

Izuku flinches. From the story All Might told him the day he asked him to take the mantle of One For All, it was clear in the man’s voice that the idea that that dark, towering danger was out of the picture was a great relief for him.

 

“I do not know how that is possible, but chances are that All For One it’s still alive, and pulling the strings behind everything that has been happening lately.” A beat of silence. “You had more than a taste of his schemings yourself, after all.”

 

Of course, it was reasonable that All Might was this tense. He clearly was worried for Izuku, now that he had passed One For All to him. Knowing him, the man was probably feeling guilty of having to put this burden on Izuku’s shoulders.

 

Izuku takes a deep breath. “I understand.” He says, voice levelled. “I understand and— The prospect it’s scary, not gonna lie, but—“

 

He takes a moment to gather his thoughts, weight his words. “But I have accepted this responsibility. And I want you to know that I will always answer your call, no matter what.” Izuku forces a smile on his face, wanting to try lift his mentor’s spirit a bit up. “As long as you are with me, I will not be afraid. So, don’t worry about me, ok?”

 

Somehow, that seems to have the polar opposite effect. He can feel All Might flinch, something dark squirm in his chest, and then the man rises on his feet, walking a few steps away.

 

He hears his breath trembling in his throat, like he’s trying not to cry.

 

“There’s nothing I wish more right now than to be able to lie to you—“ He says, voice strained. “There’s nothing that I wish more than to be a coward, and let you live in blessed ignorance as long as I possibly can—“

 

Something weird is happening. Izuku can feel All Might’s distress like a bitter poison in his mouth.

 

“But… This link that you have with me, does not allow me that.” All Might continues. “You will know if I lie. You always will know. My boy—“

 

There’s a long silence, hesitation hanging in the air.

 

“I— You need to know.” A deep breath. “When the day comes that you will face the dark I… I might not be by your side anymore.”

 

Izuku’s mind goes completely blank for a second as a keen, unbearable sting of pain in his chest freezes him, like something inside him broke

 

Oh. It was his heart .

 

 

When Toshinori turns around, he tries to convince himself he’s ready to face Midoriya. But he’s not.

 

The boy is on his feet, looking at him with wide eyes, the perfect picture of distress.

 

“What—“ His voice is tiny. “What are you saying—?”

 

“…I’ve been through much.” Toshinori explains, willing his voice to be steady. “So has my body. I simply do not know for how long I will still be able to liv—“

 

Young Midoriya squeezes his eyes shut, hands shooting at the sides of his face, covering his ears. A childish gesture. “Stop!” He yells. “This isn’t funny!“

 

Toshinori wants nothing more than to take this boy and squeeze him in a hug and apologize to him for all the pain he’s putting him through and never let him go, but he knows he can’t.

 

Still, he takes a careful step forward, stretching his hand toward him, but before he can ever reach over Midoriya slaps his hand away, his eyes now full of tears.

 

They stare at each other in silence, and he knows the boy is searching him, maybe for the sign of a lie, maybe for confirmation—

 

A sob escapes Midoriya’s lips as big tears finally roll down his round cheeks, his features twisting in desperation. He turns on his heels, shooting for the door, and in his distress doesn’t even realize it’s still closed. Not that he needs too, as he’s now strong enough to simply force it open with a loud bang and run out, away from Toshinori.

 

Toshinori doesn’t follow, his legs giving in. He slides on the floor with his back against the wall.

 

“I’m sorry—“ He sobs, his eyes stubbornly remaining dry, shivering hands against his forehead. “I’m sorry— I’m so sorry —“

 

 

Ochako caught up with Iida, finding him in the company of Todoroki, unsurprisingly.

 

“Boys, wait for me!” She said, the two of them stopping and turning to her.

 

Today at lunch Todoroki had joined them once more. It seemed like their little trio was well on the way to become a quartet. Not that she’d mind, Todoroki had changed so much since the festival, he was clearly more relaxed and less standoffish, and it seemed that Midoriya highly enjoyed his company. For her, the more friends she made, the better.

 

“Where’s Midoriya?” She asked once she had walked up to them. Todoroki shrugged as Iida said “I don’t know, he just disappeared. You know how he is.”

 

She did. Their friend had this tendency of just disappearing out of thin air every now and then. She had no idea for which reason, but usually he would come back in a good mood, so she didn’t feel the need to pry.

 

That’s why it was very surprising when they walked into Midoriya at just the next corner. Or, better, crashed.

 

Midoriya came at full speed, crashing directly into Iida that lost his balance, falling down on his behind.

 

“Midoriya, what gives—“ He started to ask, before the words died in his throat. Midoriya was scrambling to get back up on his feet, pale, shivering, big tears rolling down his cheek, an expression of pure shock on his face.

 

Ochako froze, Midoriya stumbling back up and past her.

 

Todoroki grabbed his wrist on the fly.

 

“Midoriya—“ He tried to say, but Midoriya, keeping his face turned away from them, tried to free himself from the grip. Todoroki did not let go, getting himself dragged unwillingly forward a good meter as he stood his ground. His other hand closed around Midoriya’s wrist as well. “Stop! What’s wrong?!”

 

And then Midoriya let out a whine , like a wounded animal, and fell down on his knees, a puppet that got its string cut. He started sobbing pitifully, folding on himself.

 

Not only that, she realized. His breath was short and irregular, loud, like Midoriya was trying to gulp in air, and failing.

 

Todoroki hesitated a bit, before gently letting his wrist go. He circled around Midoriya, bending on his knees in front of him.

 

“Midoriya.” He said, voice low, gentle. “Breathe. You need to breathe. Follow me, ok?” He put his hands on Midoriya’s shoulders, counting to him, trying to guide Midoriya’s breathing, as if he was an expert on panic attacks.

 

A distant little voice cut through the fog of her shock, suggesting that maybe he was.

 

She stood there, stupidly, unable to move a single finger, watching the shivering back of one of her best friends as he tried to breathe, loud, painful sobs shaking his entire frame, as if someone was stabbing his back over and over.

 

For the first time in her life, she looked at him, and realized just how small and fragile this smart, brave person she had learnt to care for so much, and so fast, really was.

 

How small and fragile all of them really were.

 

 

Something was wrong. Aizawa launched another look around his class.

 

He just explained the plan for the summer break that was to come in a month, informing his students that those who were to fail the end of term tests would end up in remedial class and won’t be able to go to the camp. He received the expected reaction, a mix of excitement at the prospect of the summer break, fear for the tests, and enthusiastic support to one another.

 

But something was wrong.

 

It was like Midoriya was not really there. He was pale, his mouth a small, unhappy line. Despite his condition, his eyes were usually lit up and active and full of life. But not now. He kept his head low all the time, shoulders drooping forward, eyes scarily empty.

 

He wasn’t really there. A ghost.

 

And not only that. Todoroki had basically been staring at the back of Midoriya’s head the entire time, his face an unreadable mask. He hadn’t stopped doing that even for a second.

From the other side of the room, Iida and Uraraka were doing the same, with an added exchange of a worried little look to each other every now and then.

 

Something was clearly wrong.

 

The bell rang, and excited teenagers started to stand and pick up their bags, chatting between each other as they made their way out of the class. Before the four outliers could leave, Aizawa said in a maybe too severe voice “Iida, Uraraka, Todoroki, Midoriya. You stay.”

 

“Uuuuuh— someone’s in troubleeee—“ Kaminari sing-songed before cheerfully waving at the four of them and exiting the room. Bakugou launched a little look to Midoriya from over his shoulder, rolled his eyes, and left as well.

 

The class was empty except for the five of them, at that point. Aizawa sighs.

 

“Come here.” He says, walking around the desk to stand in front of them, leaning back on it, arms crossed.

 

Iida, Uraraka and Todoroki exchanged a silent, pointed look before standing. Midoriya stood from his seat in a way that suggested about one thousand ton of rocks were hanging from his neck, face still pointed at the floor. He made his way to stand in front of Aizawa, hugging himself in a probably unconscious gesture. The last one to arrive, despite the fact he was the closest to Aizawa of them all.

 

“Ok.” Aizawa says, trying to will his voice into a more gentle tone. “What is going on.”

 

Yet again, Iida, Uraraka and Todoroki looked to one another. Midoriya did not move, not making a single peep. It was as if he wasn’t even breathing.

 

“If I ask you a question, I expect you all to answer.” Aizawa insists. “Again: what is going on.”

 

Iida finally let out a little cough. It seemed like even that costed him more than he was willing to give, but maybe his role as class president was pushing him to be the one to take the lead.

 

“Sensei…” He starts, before hesitating with a frown. “I— We— We don’t know .”

 

Aizawa blinks. Again, with the look exchange. That was starting to grate on his nerves.

 

“Midoriya, he, huh—“ Uraraka says, her voice low, nervously playing with her fingers. “He’s very upset, but we don’t know why. He won’t talk.”

 

Aizawa sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. That was something that he could deduce by himself, especially considering that the three of them showed more than one time that they tended to act like the Official Midoriya Protection Squad.

 

“Midoriya, your friends are clearly very worried for you.” Aizawa says, turning to look at him. Not a single reaction. “Why don’t you tell us what is wrong?”

 

“No, she meant— literally.” Todoroki intervenes, in his usual cold tone. A clear way to defend himself, a shield against the world, that voice, everyone with a pinch of common sense would note, really. “He hasn’t spoken a single word since yesterday.”

 

That was more troubling. What could’ve sent the boy in such a funk? He knew there hadn’t been any major incidents since the work experience week, and if something had happened to his mother the school would’ve been informed, since Midoriya would’ve been a minor with no legal guardian in sight.

 

As far as Aizawa knew, Midoriya wasn’t particularly close to any of the other teachers except for himself and Toshinori. That’s why it seemed the right thing to do, to softly say “If you don’t want to talk with us, maybe you can with someone else? Do you want me to call All Might for you?”

 

That certainly finally shook a reaction out of the boy. He flinched like Aizawa had just whipped him, folding in himself even more for how impossible it seemed, his hands two nervous clamps around his own arms. He turned his head away from them, until all they could see was the dark, greenish curls

 

That was no good. To see the boy react with anything less than elated joy at the prospect of spending even more time with his idol would already be strange. But this ?

 

And, before he could even realize, Aizawa ended up indirectly asking for a membership card of the Midoriya Protection Squad, the moment he exchanged a worried look with his other three students, in the exact same way they’ve been doing the entire morning.

 

 

When he entered the teacher lounge, Toshinori was there, sitting at the table with his fingers crossed under his chin, clearly deep in thought. Thank God. Aizawa didn’t had it in him to search the whole school for him.

 

“Toshinori.” He started, not even greeting him. “What the hell is wrong with Midoriya.”

 

Toshinori jumped like someone came up and stabbed him, turning around.

 

He didn’t look too good himself. Not that he usually did, with that hollow face of his and his tendency of coughing blood whenever he pleased, but it was clear that something was perturbing him as well.

 

“What do you mean?” He asked, slowly.

 

“The boy is a pale imitation of himself and for what his friends have told me, he hasn’t spoken a single word since yesterday.” Aizawa explained. “When I mentioned you, he reacted as if I set a box full of puppies on fire in front of him.”

 

Toshinori blinks, and then seems to fold on himself like he’s holding up the weight of the world on his shoulders -which he is, most of the time-. He pushes his palms against his eyes. His fingers are trembling.

 

Damnit —“

 

That’s not a good response.

 

“What happened?” Aizawa asks, because Toshinori is his colleague, and Midoriya his student, and frankly, both of them are people he cares for on a personal level as well, and clearly he needs to butt his nose in this, since apparently everyone that happens to wield One For All turns out to be an emotionally stunted mess .

 

“I told him the truth.” Toshinori replies. His voice is flat, almost inexpressive in a way he hadn’t heard him use in years.

 

“You mean—“

 

Everything .”

 

There’s only one way Aizawa can possibly react. “ Fuck .”

 

 

Izuku exists.

 

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he can hear the imitation of a voice. A whisper, barely there, trying to tell him to pull himself together.

 

He pays it no mind.

 

Izuku gets up in the morning, goes to school, takes notes, sits at the table with his friends during lunch, he does his training exercises in the afternoon.

 

He goes home, and studies for the tests. He sits down with his mother for dinner, and then goes to bed. Rinse, repeat.

 

He eats, because that’s what he’s supposed to do. He drinks, because otherwise he will die. He walks with his friends, because even if his heart is shattered, there’s still some pieces that yells and screams and cry for companionship.

 

He answers when he’s asked something, using the least possible amount of words. He speaks if he really needs to, but very reluctantly.

 

He listens, but not really. He’s there, but not really.

 

He just… Exists.

 

Some distant part of him sometimes registers that his classmates are catching up. Whispering between themselves, asking his friends what is wrong with him.

 

Why is he so… like, you know.

 

Why does he only talk when he’s asked a question, and even then the answers are not real answers at all.

 

All Might is there in the afternoon exercises, and that hurts. It hurts more than he can possibly bear. But he does, he bears it, in silence. Because that’s what he’s supposed to do, that’s his role now. He accepted it himself. Izuku walked up to the crown, took it and put it on his head, and now he has to sit on this throne whenever he wants it or not.

 

All Might’s chime vibrates to him, but Izuku’s does not vibrate back.

 

The written tests are over, and Kacchan is there, growling to him about something or the other.

 

Izuku can’t really bring himself to care. His lack of reaction sets him off, and Aizawa-sensei ends up having to forcefully detach Kacchan from his collar.

 

His mom is worried, so are Todoroki, Uraraka, and Iida. Worried sick. It’s the one thing that still makes him feel alive.

 

He wants to say sorry. To ask them to don’t worry. That he will be fine. At some point. Maybe.

 

But every time he tries, his voice just… Fails him.

 

What are you supposed to do when the one constant in your life, the one person you’ve loved and admired and revered before you even came to the realization that you are a thing that exists  in the universe , that one person that literally means everything to you, comes and shifts the weight of the world on your shoulders, and then tells you “Hey, just fyi, I’m prob gonna die soon. K bye.”

 

What are you supposed to do ?

 

Izuku exists.

 

 

“This is a terrible idea.”

 

“You think I don’t know that? If you have any other solution, I will gladly hear it.”

 

Toshinori cards his fingers through that already messy mane he calls hair, groaning.

 

“This is all my fault—“

 

“Oh, for the love of— Don’t start again.” Aizawa snaps back, irritated. “It had to happen, one of these days. It’s not like you could keep it from him much longer, not when the boy can literally read you like an open book.”

 

“I know.” Toshinori replies, his voice low, avoiding Aizawa’s eyes. “That’s why I told him but— If I had any idea he’d react this badly—“

 

Aizawa holds up a hand, stopping him. They had this discussion, almost verbatim, at least five times in the last two days. He had enough.

 

They were sitting basically in the dark, their only source of light a lamp on the desk in the teacher’s shared office. The both of them leaning over the mess of papers, knees bumping into one another, discussing, strategizing, deciding how to challenge the students.

 

It was supposed to be only Aizawa’s responsibility, technically. But Toshinori looked pitiful, whenever he wasn’t busy with something. A victim of his own too big, too loving heart.

 

So Aizawa gave him something to be busy with.

 

Of course, these being the tests destined for the students of 1-A, Midoriya had to come up at some point.

 

The boy had completely shut down. He was detached. An expressionless doll that acted mechanically, did the things he was supposed to do just because he was supposed to do them, talking when asked to, but never interacting of his own volition.

 

His written tests went just fine, which Aizawa couldn’t decide if it was more relieving, since once he’d snap out of it he won’t have to deal with failing grades, or scary.

 

He spoke in private with the three of the Protection Squad - as he mentally labeled them, at this point, and simply couldn’t shake it off anymore - and told them to give him space. Be there for him, but don’t force him to talk. Just… Be there.

 

They asked what was wrong. He’d been honest: I cannot tell you. I know what it is, but I cannot tell you.

 

They looked to one another, silent words passing through them.

 

Don’t fail your studies for this, now, he said. Keep working hard. Midoriya will be fine, at some point.

 

That didn’t seem to satisfy them, but it’s not like they had much of a choice. So they accepted it, and did what they could. They’d walk him in at the start of the day, sit with him at lunch, walk him out. It would’ve been almost comical, the way they looked like three bodyguards, if it wasn’t for the fact that it wasn’t comical at all.

 

Bakugou tried to provoke Midoriya, searching for a challenge before the physical tests. Worked himself into a frenzied rage in front of the absolute lack of any response, before Aizawa intervened to stop him. Lucky the Protection Squad wasn’t there, otherwise things could’ve turned real ugly.

 

Another problem. Bakugou was talented, and strong, and certainly not stupid at all. And yet he kept falling down in the same trap, working himself into a useless rage over the tiniest things. Unable to step over whatever personal problem he had with Midoriya.

 

That’s what sparked the idea in the first place.

 

“Bakugou and Midoriya.” Aizawa suddenly said. Force of desperation, really. “Against you.”

 

That stopped Toshinori in his tracks, a hand frozen mid-air.

 

“You… Are kidding, right?”

 

“Wish I could.” Aizawa replied, and then continued, pensive. “Think about it: Bakugou has a problem with his pride and Midoriya. Midoriya has a problem with himself and you. You have a problem with the both of them, at this point. This test is supposed to try out the students’ ability to cooperate with a partner to overcome an overbearing obstacle. Forcing Bakugou to cooperate with Midoriya will put him in a position in which, whenever he wants it or not, he has to confront his problems and, if he wants to pass, overcome them. Forcing Midoriya to cooperate with Bakugou will push him to get out this wall he has erected around himself and come back to the real world, if he doesn’t want to tank his test. Fighting you will force Midoriya to confront the problem that he’s trying to ignore, and will force Bakugou to accept the fact that there are always bigger fishes, and that he needs to swallow some of that pride.”

 

When he finally had stopped talking, Toshinori was looking at him with his mouth slightly open.

 

“You make sense.” He said, faintly. “ Why do you make sense.”

 

“In this case, I wish I did not. This is a recipe for absolute disaster. But I cannot think of anything else.”

 

A long silence, and then:

 

“This is a terrible idea.”

 

“You think I don’t know that? If you have any other solution, I will gladly hear it.”

 

So here they were. Toshinori self-reproaching, Aizawa stopping him before they could run in circles some more around the Midoriya problem.

 

A deep sigh shakes the hollow frame, thin fingers going through blond hair for what could possibly be the one thousandth time that evening.

 

“I hope you are right, because if this doesn’t go well, we will have even more of a mess between our hands.” Toshinori finally says, his voice tired acceptance. “Fine. Bakugou and Midoriya, against me.”

 

Aizawa sighs, tiredly massaging at his eyes, writing down the combinations.

 

“I’ll bring this to Nedzu right away.” He says. “At least if he considers it too risky, we’ll have time to think of something else.”

 

 

Katsuki was at an impasse.

 

On one hand, he had the chance to confront himself with All Might - finally, it’s all he always wanted, to face the top and test himself, determined to climb to it at any costs - on the other, he had to do it with Deku, of all people.

 

When they heard the explanation about how the test was going to work - robots his ass - and Aizawa called their names, All Might stepping up in front of them, he felt a mix of excitement at the prospect, and rage about the fact the entire universe seemed hell bent on pushing him back to Deku all the time, no matter how tired of it - and him - he was.

 

Deku didn’t seem to have a single reaction, although Katsuki was sure he saw his hands trembling.

 

Speaking of which. Deku was weird as fuck , lately. By the way he acted, Katsuki first thought something might’ve happened to Inko - yes, he worried. She was a nice person, fucking bite him. - but mom told him that the woman was perfectly fine. So Katsuki had no idea what was even wrong with the guy.

 

The bus ride had been a silent, tense affair. All Might kept shooting them little looks as if he expected Katsuki to spontaneously combust, and Deku to grow another head or something. Then he explained to them how the exam was going to work - fight and catch or flee. As if there was even a real choice - and left them at the entrance, taking his advantage minutes to prepare in the city scape they were using as a test ground.

 

At the start of the thirty minutes they entered, walking in the middle of the road. Katsuki was looking around, his unwanted partner silently following him.

 

“…Oy.” He finally says, turning. How come the guy wasn’t already trying to talk his ear off with some stupid plan or the other?

 

When he turned, he found himself looking into the face of absolute indifference. Deku didn’t seem to care in the slightest that: a- they were about to fight All Might and, b- if they failed this test, they will end in remedial, wasting time, getting humiliated.

 

He could already feel the handle on his rage slip away. “What the fuck is with you?” He asks in a growl. “Say something.”

 

Deku blinks at him, his expression not changing in the slightest.

 

“Oy, shithead!” He explodes, grabbing him by the front of his costume. “I’m talking to you!”

 

In front of yet more silence, he let him go with a little push. “Fine, do whatever, I’m going to go ahead and fight him on my own.”

 

And then Deku finally speaks.

 

“Are you really that fucking stupid?

 

 

The words made it out of Izuku’s mouth, low and glacial, before he could even realize.

 

He’s pretty sure something snapped in him. Broke. If there was still something that could possibly break in his chest.

 

When he got told he had to work with Kacchan, he really didn’t feel anything- whatever.

 

Against All Might.

 

The thing inside him snapped, then. Izuku’s hands were trembling, but he did not react.

 

Kacchan immediately took the lead, and Izuku knew that all he wanted was to fight. He silently followed, distantly wondering what was wrong with him, why he felt this sensation, this far away whistle in his ears that wouldn’t leave him alone.

 

Then Kacchan said he was going to fight him alone. All Might. Alone .

 

And the words made it out of his mouth.

 

He feels Kacchan flinch, turning back around to him slowly.

 

“What did you just say?”

 

The words suggested that if Izuku would dare to speak again, Kacchan would explode. A nervous pin in a hand grenade, ready to shoot away at the drop of a hat.

 

You know what?

 

Fuck it.

 

“For someone as smart as you, you really are an idiot.” Izuku continues. “You think you can fight All Might alone? He could crush you with his pinky .”

 

Kacchan darted, grabbing him again.

 

“I’m not a shitty little nerd like you, who’s too scared to face his favorite hero .” Kacchan hisses in his face, voice cruelly twisting the last two words.

 

Another piece of the puzzle fell into place. He was afraid of facing All Might.

 

Was he afraid of facing All Might?

 

The whistle in his ears was louder. A teapot angrily hissing, that’s what it reminded him of.

 

Was All Might’s choice to face them for this test? Did he want Izuku to fight him?

 

Did he want to fight Izuku?

 

Kacchan’s usually unreadable light was almost shivering with rage, at his lack of response. The sensation felt familiar, and maybe that was it, that strange feeling he felt since that morning, as Izuku distantly realizes that, right:

 

Five stages of grief.

 

After denial, comes anger.

 

 

Toshinori is waiting, and praying, that everything will work itself out as Aizawa had planned.

 

He’s giving them some minutes to prepare. He frankly does not believe the two boys will magically start cooperating right away, but he wants to give them at least a chance to try.

 

What he does not expect is to suddenly see young Midoriya dart out from a alley at his left fast as an arrow, One For All activated.

 

Going straight for him.

 

He’s too fast, can’t see his face— Toshinori dodges the kick right on time, the boy crashing in the building that had been behind Toshinori only a few instants prior, rising a cloud of dust, debris flying everywhere.

 

Young Midoriya doesn’t seem to care, getting back up on his feet, charging at him again in a blur of green light. Toshinori has to dodge a punch, and young Midoriya hits a solid brick wall, the strength of his fist putting cracks into it.

 

Young Bakugou has appeared from the same alley, his face suggesting someone just went and insulted his entire lineage. When he sees Toshinori dodging young Midoriya’s frantic attacks he yells “DEKU, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!”

 

This is not turning well.

 

 

This has to be hands down the weirdest day of his life.

 

“I’m not a shitty little nerd like you, who’s too scared to face his favorite hero .”

 

Deku didn’t react at all at those words, apparently. But Katsuki saw it, the minute little twitch of his eye, his expression turning just barely from a cold mask of indifference to… Something else.

 

What that something was, Katsuki did not know.

 

Then he had grabbed Katsuki’s hand with a grip bordering on painful, taking it away. He sidestepped, walking around Katsuki.

 

Before he could ask anything, Deku seems to light up . An oppressive energy fills the air, and then he’s off, a lighting bolt, leaving behind him a single, cracked footprint  two centimetres down in the concrete.

 

Katsuki looks at it, dumbly, before slapping himself out of his stupor and follow.

 

What he sees when he makes to the other side of the alley does not make him happy.

 

That shitty little crap is trying to fight All Might all on his own. He’s fast, - too fast, when did this happen? - All Might dodges a punch and Deku’s small fist lodges itself into a brick wall creating a deep hole, cracks opening from it, and then Deku takes his hand out like it’s no biggie - when did that happen- and turns to All Might, ready to start again, baring his teeth like an angry animal.

 

And All Might is actually putting effort into dodging.

 

All Might is actually putting effort into dodging .

 

“DEKU, YOU FUCKING PIECE OF SHIT!”

 

This was supposed to be his fight. Like Katsuki was supposed to be the only one from middle school to make it to UA. Like Katsuki was supposed to be the real winner of the festival, and not a sloppy second best when that shitty half face refused to fight him properly. Like Katsuki was supposed to be a step higher, and Deku was supposed to stay were he belonged, between the commoners.

 

Like how Katsuki was supposed to be above him, and Deku still refused, looking at him with that stupid worried face. Asking him if he was ok. Telling him he looked like he needed help

 

The little shit doesn’t seem to show a single sign of giving. He’s still going at it full speed, forcing All Might on the defensive, destroying the fake city around them every time one of his kicks or punches missed the mark, hitting something else.

 

The man was even trying to be reasonable . Telling that shithead Deku that he was wasting his time and energies, and there was no point in attacking the way he was doing—

 

Then All Might sprung into action. He dodges another fruitless attack, bending his leg, and his knee connects with Deku’s stomach with a strength that makes even Katsuki flinch.

 

Deku flies, bouncing on the ground with a loud crunch, rolling backwards some more meters before coming to a stop. Shivering, he turns on his side, heaving, and Katsuki thinks he hears him saying something.

 

And he says thinks because there’s no way those words could possibly come from Deku’s mouth, directed to All Might.

 

And yet, he’s sure he just heard him say “ I hate you.

 

 

The words hit him harder more than any kick or punch possibly could.

 

He recognized the anger, of course. The idea that young Midoriya’s attacks could possibly be part of a plan rapidly left his mind. The boy was frantic, desperate, putting too much in every hit, risking too much every time the control of his One For All almost slipped.

 

He couldn’t manage to look at his face, not as the boy tried over and over and over to hit him, fast as a light.

 

Young Bakugou was frozen on the spot, watching, his mouth slightly open.

 

Toshinori had been dodging, because if Midoriya landed a hit, with the way he was attacking, it would actually hurt . And also to give himself time to think.

 

How do I get him out of this?

 

How do I get them out of this?

 

Young Midoriya was ignoring his words. He tried to call to him, to tell him to stop, that attacking for the sake of attacking was useless, that he was wasting his energy— The boy seemed deaf to his pleads.

 

He needed Midoriya to stop, snap out of his rage, and think . His mind a chant of “ sorry sorry sorry I’m sorry ” Toshinori dodged one last attack, and then countered.

 

His knee connected with Midoriya’s soft belly - soft, too soft, he’s so young, why did I even think it was right to put such a weight on this boy - sending him flying backwards. The boy hits concrete with a painful noise, rolling some more, rising a little cloud of dust as he comes to a stop. He spills, coughing, before trying and failing to get back up on his feet.

 

And then he says it, clear as day despite his weak voice.

 

I hate you.

 

Toshinori really asked for that, didn’t he.

 

 

Katsuki slaps himself, literally.

 

He’s been standing there like an idiot, unable to move. Everything was just so weird, it was like his brain refused to accept what his eyes were seeing.

 

But— This was his chance. He would not get a second one. If he wanted to measure himself against All Might, this was it.

 

Deku was still on the floor, and All Might was not attacking him. There’s was something in the air, something heavy, and a small part of him felt like he should go to Deku, make sure his back did not break with the strength of that hit or something—

 

Wait, what is he thinking ?!

 

Fuck him — Deku, running towards him, a burning stick in his hand, attacking that stupid pile of sludge — Fuck him — His mom, saying to him that Izuku still cared — Fuck him —  Her comment about how he always managed to bring some sort of feeling out of him — Fuck him fuck him fuck him

 

Katsuki dashes.

 

All Might looks shocked when he jumps to Deku, puts him on his shoulder like a sack of potatoes and sprints away.

 

 

“Ok, what the fuck .”

 

He’s such a dumbass. He had a chance, and wasted it, wasted it because this little piece of shit—

 

Deku turns to him after Katsuki unceremoniously drops him to the ground, bile on his chin, his eyes unfocused. He’s pale as a ghost, Katsuki notices. Was he this pale the entire time?

 

“Are you going to go batshit insane again, or are we going to find a way to beat him?”

 

Deku blinks, shivering, slowly climbing up to sit straight. He puts a hand on his chest with a full-body twitch, and Katsuki thinks he’s going to vomit again, before realizing that he’s not breathing .

 

“Oy, shithead, the fuck?!” Katsuki exclaims, punching Deku’s back. That seems to jump-start him, as he takes a painful gulp of air. “Fucking breathe, you idiot!”

 

Tears collects in Deku’s pale eyes as he tries, and mostly fails, to get oxygen in his lungs.

 

Katsuki wants to pull at his hair and take it out in desperation. Why had to be him getting paired with this crazy motherfucker, of all people?

 

“Ok, now listen, and listen well.” He says, because something had to be done, goddammit. “I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with you and I don’t even care, but we can’t win if you keep going like this. You’re acting absolutely crazy. Whatever your deal is, forget it. This is a battle, he’s the enemy and I—“

 

Katsuki hesitates. He hates this so much .

 

He swallows, feeling like he’s actually literally, physically swallowing his own pride.

 

“— I can’t do it alone— fuck — I know he’s too strong for me— But I still wanted to try— Shit —“

 

Deku’s face is turned to him, now, something akin to tired wonder on his face. At least it’s an expression . At least he’s breathing again .

 

“If we want to win, and I want to win— We have to do this together .” The words burns in his mouth like acid. “Do you fucking want to win, or not?”

 

And then something strange happens. Deku blinks, takes a deep shuddering breath, and the look in his pale eyes changes.

 

It’s impossible to explain with words. Katsuki feels as if he just watched him wake up from a nightmare, right in front of his eyes.

 

“Kacchan.” He says, and Katsuki somehow knows that he’s back .

 

“Don’t call me that.” He repeats, as he usually does, rising back up on his feet. “Now get up, we got work to do.”

 

A scene, from a lifetime ago. Katsuki in the little stream, Deku over him, his little hand offered to Katsuki, asking him if he’s ok—

 

Their spots are reversed, now.

 

Katsuki takes Deku’s hand and pulls him back up on his feet, silent.

 

 

Watching young Bakugou run away with Midoriya had been surprising, to say the least.

 

When he first dashed, Toshinori had been sure he would go for him. The boy had been shivering in clear anticipation at the thought of having a chance to measure himself against Toshinori.

 

Such a strong, talented, smart boy. If only he’d manage to tone down his prideful streak a bit.

 

But maybe— That had been the first step.

 

He watched young Bakugou jump to his partner with gritted teeth and a curse on his tongue, putting him forcefully on his own shoulder and then run .

 

Toshinori waited, giving them time. Maybe that was the wrong thing to do, maybe he should push them, put pressure on them. But Aizawa said that the test was supposed to try the students’ ability to cooperate and overcome a huge obstacle.

 

And Toshinori had the impression that, despite being hidden from his eyes, they were doing exactly that.

 

Young Bakugou’s action had to count for something. A step forward. A small change.

 

Like a little pebble hitting the surface of a lake. A pebble so small, so insignificant if confronted with the magnificence of the lake, and yet creating a ripple that becomes bigger and bigger.

 

And then—

 

Toshinori smiles when both boys come at him, together, focused and ready.

 

Determination is written all over their expression. They are really there. Working with one another.

 

And when young Bakugou slaps the handcuffs close on his wrists, taking him completely by surprise, a few minutes of struggle later, for the first time in days Toshinori feels like he did something right .

 

Bakugou and Midoriya! ” A cheerful automated voice says. “ Pass!

 

Chapter Text

Shouto and Yaoyorozu were on the bus, getting back from their test, victorious.

 

They were speaking in hushed voices, discussing their performances during the test, helping one another to point out what they did wrong, how they could’ve done better. Shouto likes her, she’s smart and knows what she does. He still feels bad for having dismissed her at the start of the test, too into his own head to realize how unsure Yaoyorozu had been.

 

He launches a little look to Aizawa-sensei. Despite his entire being projecting an aura of “I don’t care”, it’s clear that their homeroom teacher cares. A lot.

 

He can imagine the all the combinations of his classmates had been throughly studied for the test, to put in the spotlight their shortcomings and push them to overcome them.

 

That’s why he’s still throughly confused as of why sensei thought it was a good idea to put together Bakugou and Midoriya.

 

Bakugou was literally a ticking time bomb, and Midoriya— Well.

 

If the past few days were anything to come by, Midoriya would probably end in the remedial class.

 

“Todoroki?”

 

Yaoyorozu is looking at him, confused. He sighs, dragging a hand on his face. He tuned her out again.

 

“Sorry, Yaoyorozu, I just—“

 

“It’s ok.” She says, gentle, a little sad smile on her lips. “I know you are worried about him.”

 

They don’t need to name names.

 

“It’s just so frustrating—“ He admits, voice low. “He has helped me so much, and now I can’t find a way to repay the favor—“

 

“I think you are going about this the wrong way.” Yaoyorozu says. “Don’t think about it as a way to repay a debt, that is not how friendships works. If you care for Midoriya, just be there for him. He’ll talk when he’s ready.”

 

Aizawa-sensei said something like that, too.

 

“…Thanks.” He finally says after long seconds of silence. “Yaoyorozu, um—“

 

“Yes?”

 

“You should come sit with us at lunch, sometimes.” He says, subtly shifting his eyes away from hers. “It could be nice.”

 

A small smile opens on her lips. “I would be happy to do so.”

 

From the other side of the bus, Aizawa-sensei’s radio give a ping, and then an automated voices says “Bakugou and Midoriya! Pass!”

 

Both his and Yaoyorozu’s eyes go wide, as they look at one another in shock, and then turn in perfect synchrony toward Aizawa-sensei.

 

He’s looking at the radio in his hand as if it’s an alien object. Then he releases a deep sigh, melting in his seat “Oh, thank god.”

 

 

When Midoriya entered Recovery Girl’s tent, he walked right into Shouto, almost losing his balance.

 

Shouto grabbed his shoulders, steadying him. His friend looked, frankly, like shit: pale, dark smudges under his eyes, the expression of someone that was just about to fall asleep on his feet. There was a bruise darkening under his left eye, curls drenched in sweat sticking to his forehead.

 

His eyes seems paler than usual, when he turns his face to Shouto. And Shouto immediately receives confirmation that he’s not imagining things when he sees the green of his irises become brighter, more vivid, and then go right back to the pale almost aquamarine, Midoriya muttering a little “Ow.”

 

Shouto blinks.

 

“Sorry, Todoroki.” Midoriya says, voice low and scratchy. “I’m keeping my quirk off, my head is killing me.”

 

You’re talking. Oh my god you are actually talking, finally— Shouto’s head is yelling at him, as he says “Oh.”

 

Smooth, Shouto. Real smooth.

 

“Come here, you—“ Recovery girl intervenes from behind Midoriya, pushing him toward one of the cots. “Take your shirt off.“

 

“I’m fine—“ Midoriya tries to protest, weakly, and she slams her syringe-shaped cane down on the floor with a menacing thud.

 

Midoriya sighs, struggling with the zips of his costume for a few seconds, and then shedding the bright green clothing.

 

Shouto can’t help the hiss that goes through his teeth.

 

There’s a giant bruise covering most of Midoriya abdomen, a triumph of blues and purples, and Shouto is painfully reminded that Midoriya did, in fact, fight with All Might.

 

Recovery Girl is muttering something under her breath, pawing with expert fingers to estimate the damage. Midoriya does not make a sound, even if little flinches on his face cue Shouto into the fact he’s definitely feeling all of it.

 

“—I don’t need it!” Comes Bakugou’s voice from outside, in the distance, sounding as his usual relaxed self. “Goddammit—“

 

“My boy, it’s just to make sure, it will only take a minute.” All Might replies, and it’s clear they are getting closer. Soon enough, the curtains keeping the tent in some sort of privacy gets dragged open, as Bakugou is forcefully pushed in. He looks pretty tired and beat too, but not as much as Shouto had expected.

 

You.” Recovery Girl turns around, her eyes seems to almost be gleaming. Shouto can’t help but compare that to a monster he saw in a horror movie, once. “Come here—“

 

“I-I-I have to go speak w-with Aizawa!” All Might replies, frantic, not even setting foot in the tent. “I will come back later!”

 

Shouto watches, shocked, as Recovery Girl zips past Bakugou, outside the tent, with an impressive speed. Silence falls on the three of them, both he and Bakugou looking at the still flapping curtains with equally shocked expression and Midoriya blinking from his cot, confused.

 

Shouto shakes his head. This school is full of crazy people.

 

“So…” He asks, casual, interrupting the silence. “How did it go?”

 

Bakugou scoffs. “How do you think it went? We won, of course!”

 

Shouto doesn’t miss the use of the word “we”, but doesn’t comment on it.

 

“And you, half-face?”

 

“Me and Yaoyorozu also passed.” Shouto replies evenly as Bakugou takes some more steps and let himself sink in Recovery Girl’s chair, legs spread apart. A king on his throne. “She went to eat something, since she used a lot of energy during the test.”

 

“Ah, I’m glad—“ Midoriya says, a little tired smile opening on his pale face. “I bet Aizawa-sensei must’ve been quite the adversary.”

 

You are talking you are smiling you are back thank god “He was.”

 

Midoriya blinks, distracted. He looks a bit out of sorts, which, all things considered, is totally understandable. “Hey, Kacchan.” He says, turning vaguely toward Bakugou. “Why do you call Todoroki half-face?”

 

“Don’t call me that.” Bakugou replies, a line he likes to abuse. His tone was flat, almost like it has become an automatic response to the word Kacchan, and not something he even thinks about anymore. “That’s because he has only half of a face.”

 

A look of earnest horror opens on Midoriya’s face, and Shouto scoffs.

 

“Bakugou, you are an idiot.”

 

Hey—!”

 

“I don’t have only half of a face, Midoriya, don’t worry.”

 

Clear relief washes over him as Midoriya let out a little sigh, before adding. “That’s good. I can imagine that having only half of a face would be pretty painful.”

 

Bakugou makes a keen, whiny noise from the back of his throat, jumping back up on his feet. “Alright, I’m done with all this mushy bullshit, I’m out.” He says, going directly for the exit. “I technically went into the tent as All Might told me to do, so I’m clear. See ya ‘round, losers.”

 

“What a charmer.” Shouto murmurs to himself after Bakugou left, rude and brash as usual. And yet, it was clear that something shifted in him. What that was, Shouto had no idea.

 

He turned back to Midoriya, that was kind of vacantly staring into nothing. He looked frayed around the edges, like a single push could be enough to break him into one thousand tiny pieces. Careful, Shouto approached him, sitting at his left side on the cot.

 

There were so many things Shouto wanted to say and ask, he had been mulling over them in his head in the past days, as he watched over his friend living like a ghost of his former self.

 

But now, watching Midoriya turn his face to him, tired and battered and clearly in need of getting hugged for at least a full week, all these questions he had escaped him.

 

So he filled the silence. “I have a scar.” He says, voice low. “From when— You know, the incident with my mom.”

 

“Oh—“ Midoriya says, barely a whisper.

 

“It’s pretty big, covers about half of the left side of my face.”

 

Midoriya sighs, his eyebrow creasing in the middle. “I see that Kacchan hasn’t lost his habit to go straight for people’s buttons.” He comments, his voice a mixture of irritation and tired acceptance.”You should tell him to knock it off.”

 

“I really don’t mind.” Shouto shrugs. “I’ve learnt to live with it, now, so it doesn’t hurt anymore when people point it out.”

 

“Still—“

 

Shouto notices the little movements of Midoriya’s fingers in his lap, and hit by a sudden hunch, before he can stops himself, he says “Do you want to touch it?”

 

Midoriya’s eyes go wide.

 

He doesn’t wait for an answer. Takes Midoriya’s wrist, guides his hand to the left side of his face. Midoriya’s fingers are cold, twitching when they make contact with the scarred tissue on Shouto’s face. His touch is barely there, a ghost, at first, but slowly becomes more steady. Midoriya explores the scarred skin, gently, the palm of his hand resting on Shouto’s cheek.

 

Shouto watches as the pale eyes fill with tears, Midoriya’s lower lip trembling in an attempt to keep them at bay.

 

He doesn’t know if he’s crying for Shouto -he probably is- or for himself -maybe a bit of both-, but in the end Midoriya takes his hand away, fingers curling against his own mouth, trying and failing to stifle a sob.

 

Shouto placed his right hand on the back of Midoriya’s head, left arm circling him in a hug, and Midoriya lets himself get guided against Shouto’s shoulder, pliant, with no resistance at all, sobbing against him, his hands grabbing at Shouto’s clothes.

 

Shouto remembers that his mother was used to hug him exactly like this, when he was little.

 

“Everything will be ok.” He whispers, his fingers carding through Midoriya’s surprisingly soft hair. “Everything will be fine.”

 

 

It’s quite the spectacle, Aizawa has to admit. Toshinori in his All Might form, a towering giant, trying to get away from the tiny Recovery Girl beating his calf with her cane.

 

“Did you had to hit that boy so hard?” She’s yammering at him, furious. “You made him puke! Do you have no heart?!”

 

Toshinori looks like a scared housewife trying to avoid a bug on her kitchen floor. Aizawa should’ve took his phone with him, just to snap a picture of this, damnit.

 

Toshinori doesn’t seems to really have anything to say to justify himself, too, aside from saying “Sorry! I didn’t mean to—” for the umpteenth time, jumping from foot to foot in a attempt to escape from the furious twacks on his legs.

 

Finally, she stabs Toshinori’s foot with the tip of her cane, growling “If you hit any of the students with that kind of strength again I will personally end you.”

 

If he keeps sweating like this, he’s probably going to die of dehydration soon. Aizawa finally decides to intervene, sighing.

 

“The point of this exam was to test the students’ ability to face an adversary overwhelmingly stronger than them. Hitting hard was kind of par of the course.”

 

She turns to him, squinting. “I have some words for you, too, Shouta.” She hisses. “Later. For now I have to get back, I wasted enough time with you two.”

 

With an harrumph she turns around, walking back to the emergency tent. They follow, silently, Toshinori looking properly chastised, and when she enters the tent they both take a peek in.

 

Midoriya is sitting on one of the cots, a pretty damn big bruise visible on his abdomen. His head is hanging low, as he dries his eyes with his wrists. Todoroki is sitting by his side, a comforting hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, leaning in his personal space as he murmurs something to him. They don’t seem to have noticed them, and Recovery Girl turns around, closing the curtains in their faces with a glare.

 

Aizawa sighs again, patting Toshinori’s bicep and pointing silently at one of the empty buses with his thumb. They climbed and sat in, facing one another.

 

Toshinori deflates in a small cloud of smoke, the now too-big costume hanging from his hollow frame. He inspects one of his legs, muttering “That actually hurt—“

 

“Care to fill me in?” Aizawa says, a lopsided smile pulling at the corner of his mouth.

 

With a deep sigh, Toshinori cards a hand through his hair, and starts talking.

 

“So, they did manage to work together at the end.” Aizawa replies once Toshinori gave him a rather clinical version of the events, almost as if he was writing down an official report. “That is good.”

 

“Young Bakugou seemed to have pushed young Midoriya to finally open up again.” Toshinori says, a hand on his chin. “Considering their complicated relationship, I was truly afraid this would explode in our faces, but it worked out.”

 

That definitely seemed like a miracle. Despite the reasoning behind the choice, Aizawa himself could not deny that the probabilities of this being the outcome have been very low from the start.

 

“So, do you think Midoriya is out of the deep end?”

 

“…It definitely looks like he snapped out of his dazed state.” Toshinori replied. But there was something in his voice, a strained note.

 

“I feel a but coming.” Aizawa says after a long silence, an invite to keep going.

 

“He…” A little cough. “He told me that he hates me.”

 

Aizawa can’t help it, hissing in response, then saying “Ouch.”

 

“Yeah.”

 

The air turned a bit heavy. It was clear that Toshinori took it to heart. He was making that sad-puppy face thing he did when something really struck a chord.

 

“…I doubt that’s the truth.” Aizawa replies in the end, softly, scratching at the back of his head.”That boy adores you too much. You know how teenagers are, they get dramatic.”

 

“Whenever that’s the truth of not, a part of him must’ve felt that at least long enough to make the words come out his mouth.” Toshinori says, voice low. “I have hurt him immensely. Mending this bond is going to take a lot of work.”

 

Aizawa really does not have anything to say, to that.

 

 

Ochako got back to the class after the tests, as most of their classmates did, since they had to wait for the school day to be over before they could leave. There were still some classmates missing, probably held back in order to be healed after the gruelling battles against their teachers.

 

Yaoyorozu was there, happy to inform Ochako that she and Todoroki passed the test, when she asked. But Todoroki wasn’t there.

 

“Where could he be?” Ochako asked, distractedly.

 

“He went to the emergency tent, to check on Midoriya—” Yaoyorozu replied, lowering her voice. “He was so worried, even during the exam.”

 

Ochako let out a little sigh at that, Yaoyorozu putting a gentle hand on her shoulder. “I hope Midoriya will feel better soon. We are all very worried.” A beat of silence, and then she added. “Todoroki he… Asked me to join you guys for lunch, next time. If that is ok with you, of course—“

 

That cheered up Ochako a bit, assuring Yaoyorozu that they’d be happy to share the table with her. Bit by bit she was getting chances to better know every each one of her classmate, which was great.

But still, the thought of Midoriya felt like lead on her soul. She had no idea how he and Bakugou could’ve possibly done during their test, not to mention Midoriya apparently needed to get healed. That sounded very ominous.

 

Iida arrived just a few minutes later, reporting of his own successful test. They were discussing how their respective battles went when a familiar white and red head poked from the doorway. Todoroki signed her to don’t talk with a finger, before making a little “come here” gesture.

 

That’s when her and Iida exchanged a little look and silently followed.

 

Todoroki didn’t led them far, just down the corridor and behind a corner, to have some privacy.

 

Midoriya was waiting there, already changed in the normal school uniform. He looked pale, and tired, and like a little breeze might knock him over.

 

“Got ‘em.” Todoroki said, and Midoriya turned toward them with a blink.

 

“Oh, thank you, Todoroki.” Midoriya says, his voice a little rough. “Sorry if I seem a little off, guys, but I have a terrible headache so I’m keeping my quirk off, for now.” He added, with a small, strained smile.

 

If Ochako had something in hand, she would’ve totally dropped it.

 

“I, um— wanted to apologize.” Midoriya continues, nervously playing with his fingers. “I know I’ve worried you a lot in the past few days, and—“

 

“Don’t— Don’t apologize for that.” Iida says when Midoriya hesitates, his eyes a little wet behind his glasses. “How do you feel, now?”

 

“If I have to be honest… Not good.” Midoriya replies, earnest, face down. “I— I got a really bad news and I’m having a hard time swallowing it— as you can imagine by yourself, at this point—“

 

“Oh, Midoriya—“ Ochako sighs, very carefully putting her hand on his shoulder. “Is there something we can do?”

 

He shakes his head, closing his eyes as if he was trying to hold back tears. “A person… Someone I really care for… They are…” His voice broke a little, there, but he kept going. “They might be dying, so— Um, yeah— not m-much anyone can do, really.”

 

A heavy silence fell on the four of them, before Ochako whispered “Is it ok if we hug you?”

 

Midoriya nods, and so they did, closing around him protectively.

 

They didn’t let him go for a long while.

 

 

The day after Izuku’s head still hurt, so he did something he didn’t had to do in literal months.

 

“Honey, are you sure you don’t want to stay home, today?” Mom asked when she saw him take the cane that had been sitting by the door, unused.

 

“I don’t want to miss school.” Izuku replied, giving her a little smile. “I will be fine, mom, don’t worry.”

 

“If you are sure…” She hesitated, releasing a sigh and giving him a little hug. “Love you, honey.”

 

“Love you too, mom.” He replied, squeezing her back with a single arm.

 

They had a little heart to heart, the night prior. Iida and Todoroki insisted to have Uraraka walking him home, as she was the only one that knew the road and he couldn’t turn on his quirk without worsening his headache. Mom had been immediately worried when they arrived, of course, but also relieved when Izuku finally spoke more than three words to her.

 

“Izuku, I’ve been thinking about this for a while.” She said, sitting on the edge of his bed, Izuku lying belly up on it with a nice cool towel on his forehead. “You’ve always been naturally emotive, but lately I had the impression you’ve become more… Intense?”

 

He turned a bit toward her, at that, making a little puzzled sound.

 

“This little… Episode you had —can  I use the word episode?”

 

That dragged a little, strained smile out of him “I guess that’s a fair definition.”

 

She coughed. “Anyhow, this little episode you had— I don’t know, to me it just looked like you’ve reached the boiling point and shut down.” She sighed. “If you need to talk with someone, if things get too overwhelming— Just, anything at all, you know you can tell me, sweetheart, right?”

 

Izuku couldn’t tell her the reason of his little “shut-down”, it really wasn’t his place. So he nodded, silent.

 

“I’ll keep that in mind, mom. Promise.”

 

Of course he had a good reason for shutting-down, but what mom said did give him something to think about. He never really noticed, but she was right: he definitely felt more “intense”, as she said, lately.

 

He would have to reflect on it a bit, but for now, he just wanted to enjoy having snapped back into the real world. Painful, cruel real world, but real nonetheless.

 

His own head wasn’t really a good place to get lost in for so long.

 

 

If he had to be honest, there were two more reasons other than the headache that persisted from the day prior that made him decide to try a “radar off day” at school.

 

1- A theory formed in his mind, and he wanted to test it, and

 

2- He just didn’t want to feel All Might’s presence all the damn time.

 

He knew he was being unfair. It’s not like the guy was happy about the thought of an untimely death coming to him, nor it was like he told Izuku for shit and giggles.

 

But still, it hurt too much. He had to continuously shoo the thought away, because even only thinking about All Might in passing made him feel like his heart was breaking all over again.

 

Izuku needed some space, and it was a tad difficult to have it if his radar made him feel like All Might was sitting right at his side all the time, made him feel everything he felt, even if he actually was on the opposite side of the school.

 

He would speak to him, he had to, at some point. But he just wanted some peace for a bit, time to put back in order the mess that exploded in his brain after All Might’s confession.

 

He left earlier than usual, just to be safe, since he never went to UA without the use of his quirk before. He’d rather have some extra time, if he ended getting a bit lost.

 

That ended up not being the case, muscle memory and a bit of recalling helping him find his way without any particular issue.

 

Now the problem is that he was at least half an hour earlier than usual.

 

He debated for a bit if he maybe should go get himself something to drink outside the school grounds in the meantime, but summer’s heat was already gnawing at him, and the idea of UA’s nice, cooled corridors and classes was too tempting to ignore, so he decided to enter. He’d just spend the half hour re-reading some of his notes or maybe just relax, it wasn’t that big of a deal.

 

He made his way to class in blessed silence. At that time the school was still pretty much empty, and the only sounds keeping him company were his own footsteps and the the rhythmic ting-ting of his cane in front of him as he swung it back and forth. He palmed at the door, having a bit of difficulty remembering at which height the handle was, and when he slid it open he softly asked “Anyone in?”

 

No response. He imagined he would be the first one, but knowing Iida it wouldn’t have been surprising to have found him there already.

 

Stifling a yawn, Izuku sat at his desk, carefully putting the cane on his left side, were no one would risk to stumble into it walking by. He took out his braille display, with the intention to read his latest notes —the ones he wrote when he had been completely out of his mind. Or, maybe it’d be more right to say when he’d been completely into his mind— but at the same time he didn’t felt like it.

 

There was just something weird, a dream-like sensation, being alone in this place that he had grown to know so much, but always with the use of his quirk. It was like being in a whole new place that somehow felt familiar and dear to his heart.

 

Izuku relaxed against the back of his seat, eyes closed, taking in all the sounds that he never really noticed before. The slight hum of the air conditioning, birds chirping outside. Someone passed in a hurry, probably in the next corridor over, judging by how far the sound was. The door of the class slid gently open, but the silence continued.

 

Izuku opened his eyes, turning slightly to his right. He could feel the presence of someone, but without his radar he had no idea who it could be. The sensation was— disconcerting.

 

“Who—?”

 

“Midoriya.”

 

With a sigh, he relaxed. He hadn’t even noticed how tense his shoulders turned in the few instants of silence.

 

“Aizawa-sensei.” Izuku exhaled, forcing a small, probably pitiful smile on his face. “Good morning.”

 

 

When Aizawa noticed Midoriya walking down the corridor to class 1-A  swinging a cane, he felt a sensation akin to whiplash.

 

The boy hadn’t noticed him in the slightest. Aizawa watched him stopping in front of the door, his hand sliding on it as he searched for the handle, and then he got inside.

 

Aizawa looked down at his clock. It was incredibly early, what was Midoriya even doing at school at this time?

 

Curiosity picked, mixed with the fact that he actually needed to speak to the boy privately, Aizawa decided to give up his morning coffee for now and go see what the kid was up to.

 

When he opened the door Midoriya was at his desk, eyes closed, relaxed on his chair with his hands resting palms down on the desk. But then he blinked, turning slightly toward him, a little confused frown appearing on his face, the lines of his shoulders tensing.

 

“Who—?”

 

The boy had his quirk turned off. Of course, you idiot.

 

“Midoriya.”

 

He relaxed with a little trembly sigh, a lopsided, unsure smile appearing on his face. “ Aizawa-sensei. Good morning.”

 

It was so easy to forget that Midoriya was, in fact, blind. Aizawa had gotten used to reading aloud whatever he had to write on the blackboard to the point it became second nature. All the little adjustment that had to be made to accommodate the boy turned into normal routine. No one questioned it, no one even gave it a second thought, and Midoriya had no problem keeping up. The way he moved around never betrayed a single moment of fear or doubt. When in a group he would always turn toward whoever was speaking, and had no problem following the movements of those around him.

 

Yes. It was really easy to forget that Midoriya was actually blind.

 

“I’m keeping my quirk turned off, for today.” The boy explains, maybe picking up on Aizawa’s silence. “My head still hurts a little bit from yesterday, so I’d rather not put anymore stress on it.”

 

“Maybe you should pay Recovery Girl a visit.”

 

“No way.” A little strained laugh. “She’d never let me hear the end of it. No, it’s ok, I wanted to kept it turned off in any case, for a bit.”

 

“Any particular reason?” Aizawa asks, casual, walking up to the teacher desks to put his bag down.

 

Midoriya opened his mouth a couple of times, before shrugging. “It’s… Kind of a hard to explain.”

 

He seems definitely back to normal, but the signs are still there. The way he holds himself as if he’s afraid a little touch may break him, the serious and melancholic expression that seems to constantly find its way back on his face. He must feel raw, like an open wound.

 

Biting back a sigh, Aizawa sits in Bakugou’s chair backwards, putting his arms on the backrest, facing the kid.

 

“Midoriya.” He says, and that is all the prompting the boy needs. He nervously scratches the back of his head.

 

“Aizawa-sensei I— Uuh— I know I kind of freaked out for the past few days.” He says, voice low. “I’m sorry. I’m ok, now.”

 

Freaked out. An understatement. “Are you?”

 

The words might’ve been a slap, for how hard the boy flinches.

 

“I don’t want to talk about it.” He whispers, the silence stretching.

 

“You know that I know exactly what the issue is, right?”

 

Midoriya squirms in his seat, clearly uncomfortable. “Sensei— I finally managed to wake up feeling almost normal, this morning, I’d rather not ruin the rest of my day, if possible.”

 

An open wound. And a rather snappish one, at that.

 

“Alright.” Aizawa concedes, because he’s not cruel, and wounds needs to heal. “What do you want to talk about, then?”

 

In front of Midoriya’s perplexed blink he continues. “We are— About twenty-five minutes too early on schedule. We might as well talk about something, while we wait for actual school hours to start.”

 

The boy takes a few instants to think. By the look on his face, his mind must be a minefield of topics he’d rather not touch.

 

“Well… My mother told me something that made me think, yesterday.” He finally starts, carefully, like the words might hurt him on the way out. “I think there’s a side-effect of my quirk I’d never quite noticed.”

 

When Aizawa doesn’t answers, he keeps going. “I think feeling people’s emotions all the time might be kind of stressful for me. I wanted to test this out, today.”

 

That’s certainly a new one. “…Emotions?”

 

Midoriya tilts his head on a side. “Huh?”

 

“What do you mean with emotions?”

 

“Have I never mentioned— Oh.” Midoriya says, surprise flashing on his face as a hand raises to his chin. “Mh.”

 

Midoriya.”

 

“Well— As I said, I can feel people’s emotions?” The boy explains, shrugging, eyebrows twisting in a clearly perplexed expression. “I guess I never really mentioned it, but the lights I feel are not just for position. I usually can gather what others are feeling, if they are sad, happy, if they are aggressive—“

 

It’s like finding the last piece of a one thousand pieces puzzle after years. Aizawa drags both hands on his face with a loud groan. Midoriya closes his mouth, blinking, as if Aizawa is the weird one.

 

“Midoriya, you are a smart kid. But also a goddamn idiot.” Aizawa let the words slip. They were off school hours, technically, dammit, he could be a bit informal. “You kind of forgot to mention you are an empath?”

 

“An empath—“ Midoriya murmurs, like he’s tasting the word in his mouth.“Is… That important?” he then asks, clearly more confused than ever.

 

Yes.” Aizawa replies, forcing himself to don’t give in to the need to bash his head repeatedly on the backrest of the chair. “Empathic quirks are to be kept under control, otherwise the holder might get overwhelmed and shut down. Sounds familiar?”

 

Understanding finally dawns on the kid’s face gradually, as he goes “Oh. Ooh. Oooooh—”

 

Oh my god.” Aizawa finally gives in, letting his forehead fall against the chair with a thud.

 

 

“Toshinori, no offense, but your boy is a fucking dumbass.”

 

Toshinori sighs. Aizawa barging in the teachers’ lounge, not even a greeting, using curses? It was going to be one of those days.

 

He was already tired and depressed enough, unable to sleep the night prior, as he turned and twisted everything that has happened in the last few days in his head. Running himself in circles, trying to think of a solution to try rebuild the bridge between him and his young pupil—

 

Yamada, that was sitting near him looking over some english homework, looks up with a blink. “Shouta, you didn’t had your morning coffee, didn’t you.” He says, not even a question.

 

“I’m going to need at least three morning coffees to deal with this.” Aizawa replies, making a beeline for the coffee machine sitting on the counter.

 

“What did he do, now?” Toshinori asks, tired, a hand massaging his forehead. Untimely demise by Midoriya, here I come.

 

He—“ Aizawa starts, sarcasm so deep in his voice it was almost palpable as he trafficked with the machine.  “ — just so happened to forgot to mention he’s an empath.”

 

There’s a beat of silence only filled by the gurgling of the coffee coming out, and then both Toshinori and Yamada go “Oooooh…”

 

“Yes. Oh.” Aizawa’s eyes are bloodshot when he turns around. “Did he ever tell you anything about it?”

 

“Not that I recall—” Toshinori blinks, his head feeling light after the revelation. “That side effect that presented when he received One For All— That certainly makes more sense, now— Oh, that poor boy—“ He exhales, finally connecting the dots, his eyebrows furrowing. “No wonder he shut down so badly. He was feeling my feelings on top of his own—”

 

“…We all should’ve noticed.” Aizawa sighs, his eyes casted at the floor. “All the signs were there, and I did not notice—“

 

“Hey, now, Shouta, Toshinori, c’mon.” Yamada interjects, his voice gentle. “There’s such a huge variety of perception quirks out there, how could you have imagined? The boy probably didn’t had any idea himself. It’s a good thing it finally came out, at least he can be prepared.”

 

“He didn’t even think it was important.” Aizawa sighs with a little shake of his head. “In retrospect, so many things make much more sense, now.”

 

They sure did. Toshinori should’ve seen it coming, really, the boy had shown more than once just how easily attuned he was to other people’s emotions. Now that the truth was out it was so obvious.

 

“Now that I think of it, I remember him saying something about being able to understand when people are lying, once—“ Toshinori mutters to himself, unable to recall the exact line young Midoriya said now months ago.

 

The empty plastic cup in Aizawa’s hand makes a pitiful creaking sound when he crushes it in his fist. “Toshinori. I will fucking kill you.

 

Being a teacher is really, incredibly, absolutely, damn hard.

 

 

Izuku was still in shock over the revelation that Aizawa-sensei launched right in his face.

 

He never really questioned the fact that his quirk made him able to perceive other people’s emotions. It was just a thing, that was there. Part of him.

 

How stupid he had been, just taking it all for granted, not really thinking about what it could all mean for his own sanity.

 

Aizawa-sensei sounded so incredibly done with it all that Izuku hadn’t even needed to have his quirk activated to imagine his teacher was probably contemplating the idea of launching him into an active volcano.

 

“Why haven’t you told anybody?” He asked, exasperated, voice slightly muffled.

 

“I never really thought it was important—“ Izuku answered, honest. Embarrassed. He soon started muttering, deep in thought. “Thinking back, a lot of things make much more sense, now— How I froze in front of Shigaraki during the U.S.J. incident, it was like I could feel him in my soul— And that night in Hosu, the pressure of Stain’s convictions made me literally physically sick—“

 

“It’s probably a testament to how incredibly bullheaded you are that you have kept your quirk on at all times for months and never had a nervous breakdown before.” Aizawa-sensei sensei muttered, probably standing back up going by the noises he made, before adding. “And that is not a compliment.”

 

Silence stretched between them, before Aizawa-sensei spoke again. “We have to go and speak to Toshinori about this. Right now.”

 

That sent a painful churn through Izuku’s stomach, and a keen pain in his chest reminded him that his heart was still pretty much in pieces barely kept together.

 

“No!” He said, his voice sounding a little too strong. “I mean— Sensei, I’m sorry, but I’m not ready to face him yet…”

 

Aizawa-sensei hadn’t answered, so Izuku continued, his face pointed at the desk, willing his voice to be steady and mostly failing. “Empath or no empath, I— I need some time still— It hurts, like hell, and I just— I need space. It’s fine if you tell him, but I can’t speak to him yet.”

 

After that Aizawa-sensei let out a little sigh, putting a gentle hand on his head in a single, short pat.

 

“Alright, kid.” He said, softly. “I’ll take care of this. You better keep that quirk of yours off for a bit, give yourself time to get back in your own head properly. When you are ready to speak with Toshinori, let me know.”

 

He heard steps, and then the door sliding open.

 

“Aizawa-sensei—“ Izuku blurted. Tell him I’m sorry. Tell him I don’t really hate him—

 

But he could not ask that of sensei. He had to take responsibility for his own actions and words.

 

“Yes?” Aizawa-sensei nudged from the door.

 

“Nothing—“ Izuku replied, shaking his head. “I… See you later.”

 

So, here he was, sitting at his desk feeling like an idiot.

 

A giant idiot.

 

“Oh my god.” He mutters, letting his head fall down on his desk with a thud. “I’m so fucking stupid—“

 

 

“Oh, here you are!”

 

Izuku turns to the door. After he finished insulting himself in every possible conceivable way and then some, he gave up with a sigh the thought of just relaxing and palmed for his braille display once more, distracting himself by reading his notes.

 

“Good morning, Uraraka.” He replies, hearing more footsteps than could possibly come from a single person. “…And also Iida and Todoroki, I guess?”

 

When a beat of silence follows, Izuku continues. “My head still hurts a bit, so I’m keeping my quirk off for the day.” And, as if punctuating his words, he pats the cane sitting by the left side of his desk.

 

“Oh, I understand.” Iida mutters to himself, adding in a louder voice. “You must’ve come pretty early, we were waiting for you at the entrance.”

 

Right. Izuku is suddenly, rudely reminded that his three friends practically turned into his shadows for the last few, painful days.

 

He feels a blush coming to his cheek. His reaction feels so over-blown to himself, now. His friends really did not deserve what he had put them through.

 

“Sorry—“ He forces himself to say, scratching the back of his head. “I was afraid it might take me longer to arrive, without my quirk, but I ended up getting here with plenty of time to spare.”

 

“You look better.” Todoroki comments, softly.

 

“I feel better.” Izuku admits, turning his face up in what he hoped was the right direction. “I mean— That… It still hurts, of course. But I already feel better, like I’m myself again—“ Of course you do, now that you’ve turned your quirk off, you big idiot.

 

Uraraka releases a relieved sigh. “I’m so glad—“ The amount of feelings she manages to convey through that single word are astounding. “If you need to talk about anything you know where to find us, ok?”

 

“I do.” He smiles. “And… Guys— thank you. For sticking with me.“

 

“Don’t mention it.” Iida says, and there’s something in his voice. An understanding. Izuku doesn’t need to ask why.

 

He feels Todoroki’s hand on his shoulder, gently squeezing —it can only be his, it’s so warm— just as the door slides open, and more of his classmates starts to trickle in.

 

He’s so very damn lucky to have friends like his.

 

 

Ochako feels like the world is right again.

 

After finally watching Midoriya smile again, looking normal, if still a bit stressed out, she realized just how wrong everything felt in the past few days.

 

She knows she doesn’t have much power over it, but if she never has to see him like that ever again, it’d be all the better.

 

Aizawa-sensei told them more about the summer break in the upcoming month, and revealed that in the end they will all to go, even the few of them that failed the physical tests. It had been hilarious to see Iida react with a mix of awe and irritation after yet another one of Aizawa-sensei’s “ruses”.

 

The break was shaping to be an interesting, fun time and the morning lessons went by in a blur, the bell signaling the start of the lunch break. As it had become normal for them, she, Iida and Todoroki reunited by Midoriya’s desk as he also got up, taking the cane that was propped at the side of his desk.

 

They made their way to the cafeteria, talking, trying to imagine what the camp had in store for them. It had been a little strange to see Midoriya walk with his cane, but not in a bad way. Just… New.

 

But when he entered the cafeteria, Midoriya seemed to hesitate. The place was chaotic, as usual, and Ochako could only imagine that it must be hard for him to orientate without his quirk with all the noise.

 

She notices Todoroki turn, and blink, probably thinking the same thing that she just did. Silent, he steps by Midoriya’s side, taking his free hand and guiding it to rest on the crook of his elbow. Midoriya shoots him a little, grateful smile, still without saying a single word as he let himself being guided by Todoroki, trustful.

 

She’s unsurprised by that. Todoroki seems to have a talent in understanding Midoriya without needing him to speak a word. The two had become friends hard and fast. It was clear that something happened to them during the sport festival because, despite their bloody battle, they became pretty much attached at the hips right after that.

 

She was almost jealous of the way Todoroki just seemed to get him, but for the most part she was just happy. It was nice, to know that someone as incredibly strong as Todoroki was out there, watching Midoriya’s back.

 

They slid in an empty table with their lunches, Midoriya folding his cane and putting it in his pocket, when Yaoyorozu approached them.

 

“Hello.” She says, sounding a little unsure.

 

“Yaoyorozu!” Midoriya replies, happily. “Do you want to sit with us?”

 

“If it’s ok for you—“

 

“Of course!” He immediately replies, scooting over a bit and bumping into Iida. She sits down, giving them all a little smile.

 

“Are you feeling better, Midoriya?” She asks, then, as they all start to get a bite of their respective lunches. “You look much healthier, today.”

 

Midoriya nods, giving a little embarrassed smile. “I’m ok, now.” He says. “I— Uh, turns out there’s a bit of a side-effect of my quirk I hadn’t taken in consideration.”

 

That certainly catches everyone’s attention. Ochako blinks, looking up from her lunch, as they all did.

 

“What do you mean?” She asks, curious.

 

“Well, my radar—“ He starts, before tilting his head on a side with a pensive expression. “I never mentioned it before, it didn’t seem all that important— But well, I actually can feel people’s emotions? And I hadn’t realized how stressful that was for me before… You know.”

 

He trails off. There’s a long silence, before Yaoyorozu let out a little understanding “Oh.” followed by “I see. You are an empath. That makes sense.”

 

“That’s what Aizawa-sensei said, too.” Midoriya replies, taking a bite of his lunch. He seems famished, like he hadn’t really eaten anything in days. “I had no idea that was even a thing— But in retrospect, it makes sense. I guess I will have to be more careful with my quirk usage, from now on.”

 

It took Ochako a bit to connect the dots. An empath… He could feel people’s emotions— Of course he had been so stressed. And all those times he seemed to change mood so fast… Ochako could not imagine how it would even feel to constantly have other people’s emotions being launched at her from all sides—

 

Wait a second. He can feel people’s emotions. He—

 

Oh. Oh no.

 

And as she feels a blush rising to her cheeks, all the implications of this new discovery crashing into her, she notices she’s not the only one having a revelation. At her side, Todoroki had gone tense, the hand holding his chopstick showing the tiniest sign of shivering.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Midoriya, what’s with that face?”

 

Izuku and Kirishima are waiting for their turn to go in the afternoon exercise. After lunch —during which the silence had been filled mostly by Iida, Yaoyorozu and Izuku discussing the intricacies of the newest discovery about himself, Uraraka and Todoroki strangely silent and distracted — it was time for yet another afternoon exercise.

 

Aizawa-sensei explained that the focus of today’s exercise would be team work and communication, dividing them in pairs. He ended up with Kirishima, but as they waited their turn, Izuku had been internally debating if he should maybe sit this one out, nervously playing with his cane.

 

“Oh, sorry—“ He replied to Kirishima, after some seconds of silence. “It’s just— I can’t use my quirk, today, so I’m afraid I might be not very useful for you in this exercise, I should probably go tell sensei to pair you with someone else—“

 

“Midoriya, wait.” Kirishima stopped him, a hand on his shoulder. “The point is team work and communication, right? We can still do that!”

 

“But—“

 

“You won’t be useless.” Kirishima interrupts him, his voice sure and steady. “C’mon, we’ll find a way!”

 

Izuku must be still showing sign of doubts, since Kirishima added. “And even if it doesn’t go well it’s not the end of the world, dude! It’s called exercise for a reason!”

 

“Well— I guess…” Izuku finally conceded. Kirishima answered with a gentle little fist against his shoulder, probably grinning at him.

 

When their turn came -they were almost the last ones to go- the door they were waiting in front of opened.

 

Your mission is to search for a blue box, retrieve it, and bring it safely to the exit in the least amount of time possible.” Came Aizawa-sensei’s voice from some speakers on the ceiling. “The way you go at it it’s your choice.

 

Izuku took a deep breath “Ok, Kirishima. What do we have in front of us?”

 

“It looks like a deposit, high ceiling.” Kirishima immediately started to describe. “Big containers. Probably very labyrinthic, it’s hard to tell from this entrance. There’s a sort of overpass hanging from the ceiling, and a ladder going up to it, but I doubt this box we are searching for it’s just up there. We must search between the containers.”

 

There’s a beat of silence as they think what they should do, and then Kirishima says “If we both go in this maze it’ll take us forever. I can go up there, see if I can find this box, and guide you there from above.”

 

Izuku blinks “Are you sure?”

 

“Yeah man! Get ready, I’m going to climb up!”

 

Izuku heard the steps, and then metallic sounds as Kirishima climbed up this overpass probably made of metal grates, going by the noise.

 

I see it!” Kirishima says from the little radio in his ear, after a few instants. “Ok, get ready, Midoriya. Advance forward from your position and take a left when I tell you to.

 

Izuku steels himself. He has to trust Kirishima, if he walks he would waste too much time. Gripping his cane tightly, Izuku carries it pointing it a bit forward, just so he would at least not crash face first into something in front of him, and then starts running.

 

Ok turn! Perfect— Take a right— NOW! Ok listen up, there are these robots patrolling, I’ll guide you to avoid them!

 

Somehow, it’s working. Kirishima is concise and precise, guiding him without a trace of doubt in his voice. Izuku keeps running, his heart beating madly, a strange feeling of giddiness bubbling up his throat, Kirishima’s steps on the metal following him from above.

 

Midoriya, surprise baddie incoming! It’s one of the robots, I’d say as tall as you— Looks pretty light, pretty sure you can knock it down easily— Its defending the only way to the box, coming from your right. The next corner it’s just two meters in front of you, now—

 

Izuku hears the whirr of metal, and without thinking too much he launches his cane in the air vertically, and charges. It doesn’t take much to down the lithe robot. Izuku hits with his palm, pushing it backwards, and a couple of fast kicks are enough to send it crashing to the floor.

 

He catches his cane on the way back before it can even hit the floor.

 

YE-HEA!” Kirishima laughs in his ear, enthusiastically, the sounds of grates over his head suggesting his partner probably jumped in the air. “That was sick! You’re almost there, keep your right, the box is just at the next intersection!

 

Unable to help himself Izuku let out a little laugh, charging forward. Kirishima tells him to stop right as he is in front of the box, and when Izuku kneels, palming down, he immediately meets the object.

 

Make a one-eighty and then take the first left, the exit is real close and there’s ladder for me right here, so I’ll meet you in a sec!” Kirishima says, before Izuku can hear his steps getting a bit further. When they meet at the point Kirishima described, his partner gives him an energetic pat, guiding him the rest of the way to the exit with a firm hand on his shoulder. They are stopped by some more of the robots, and Izuku gives Kirishima the honour with a nod and a smile, sure that his energetic classmate can’t wait to punch something.

 

A bell sounds over their head when they step over the exit, Aizawa-sensei’s voice back from the speaker. “Good job, you two. Nice time.

 

“I told you we could do it!” Kirishima sounds just as giddy as Izuku feels. “Man, you need to tone down the coolness, you are making us all look bad. When you caught your cane mid-air? That was hella manly!!!”

 

Izuku laughs heartily, his arms around the box, his cane, folded, hanging from his wrist. “I couldn’t have taken a single step without you, your guidance was impeccable.”

 

“Oh, stop it, now— You’ll make me blush—“ Kirishima replies with a purposefully exaggerated shy tone, lightly pushing him playfully. “Let’s go, I’m sure the others can’t wait to swoon all over you.”

 

Izuku splutters and laugh again as Kirishima’s hand goes back on his shoulder, guiding him down the corridor to go meet up with the rest of the class.

 

“And to think you didn’t even want to try—” Kirishima says, Izuku is sure he’s probably shaking his head, exasperated. “Say, Midoriya, I actually have something I wanted to ask you.”

 

“Yes?”

 

“It’s… You and Bakugou.” A moment of hesitation. “You guys have like… History.”

 

The way Kirishima stresses the word it’s pretty telling. A gentle way to say you guys’ relationship is a castle of cards missing some key support, barely kept together with spit.

 

“Kirishima, if you are scared I might get offended if you make friends with Kacchan, you don’t need to.” Izuku replies evenly, because sometimes even he doesn’t need an empathic quirk to get people.

 

He feels Kirishima tense a bit at his side, and then relax. “Gee, am I that transparent?” He replies, a smile in his voice.

 

“I just noticed you spend a lot of time with him.” Izuku shrugs. When Kirishima doesn’t reply, he continues. “I’m serious. Listen, I know Kacchan doesn’t like me, and probably never will. That’s fine. I can still be happy for him, if he makes some friends of his own.”

 

“It’s just… I like him, but I don’t like some things he does. And I told him that. Multiple times.” Kirishima says, his voice turning a bit serious. “And I also like you, too, and I don’t want to hurt anyone, you know?”

 

Izuku turns to his daily partner, smiling. “I won’t be hurt, I promise. So, don’t worry.”

 

“Thanks, man, you’re the best.” Kirishima replies with passion, just as another door swooshes open right in front of them, rejoining them to the rest of the class.

 

“Midoriya that was sssoooooo cool!” Ashido is already in their faces, excited.

 

“…You really like hand-to-hand techniques, Ashido, don’t you?” Izuku replies, recalling some other comments the girl made in the past.

 

“Heck yeah I do!” He can hear the giant grin in her voice. “But that was like, seriously cool. I think Uraraka and Todoroki were really about to swoon for a minute, there.”

 

“I’ll take this—“ Aizawa-sensei interrupted, taking the box away from Izuku’s arms. “Go join the rest of the group, now, you over-excited teenagers.” His voice was a mix of fondness and exasperation.

 

They obeyed, Ashido answering with a cheerful “Yeees sensei!”, and Izuku didn’t had the time to really let her words sink in and ponder over for what reason would Todoroki and Uraraka, of all people, swoon over anyone, let alone him, before he was dragged into a lively discussion about his and Kirishima’s performance.

 

 

 

“Wait, aren’t you—“ The new voice says, just after Miki had introduced him to Izuku. “Yes, you’re that Midoriya! I saw you at UA’s sport festival!”

 

Izuku still isn’t used to people recognising him randomly during his life hours outside of UA. Maybe he never will.

 

They were meeting in a fast food restaurant, nothing big. Miki had called him the evening prior, asking him if he was free for the weekend.

 

“Tomorrow, yes. On sunday I have something planned— Speaking of which, want to come to the mall with me?”

 

Pass.” Miki replied. “Got a ton of homework to do. But if you’re free tomorrow, want to meet for lunch? There’s someone I want to introduce to you.”

 

“Yeah, lunch sounds fine— Who do you want to introduce to me?” He asked, perplexed.

 

It’s a guy. I— Uh, like him. A lot.” She answered, hesitating a bit. “And well, you are my best friend, and I never told you about him because I wasn’t sure of my feelings yet— But it’d be nice if you could meet him.

 

“Of course—“ He replied, a small smile on his lips. “Where do you want to meet?”

 

So here they were. Nothing pretentious, just grabbing a greasy lunch, being introduced to Miki’s -maybe, not really, don’t ask for now, Midoriya- boyfriend.

 

Haruo Hayanari, that was his name, shook Izuku’s hand before recognition dawned in his light and blurted out that phrase.

 

Izuku turned his quirk back on that morning, finally. He would make sure to don’t overdo it and take pauses, but feeling the familiar presence of the lights around him had been very comforting, especially considering how demanding his previous radar-off-day at school had been.

 

“Ahah— Yeah, that’s me—“ He replies, embarrassed, almost intimidated when he felt a caress of admiration coming from the boy.

 

“Haruo it’s kind of a little hero nerd. Not at your levels, but he’s pretty into it.” Miki snickers. “I knew he’d go insane when you two would meet.”

 

“Miki-chan, you didn’t tell me your best friend is a hero-in-the-making, how could you.” Haruo replied in a fake dramatic tone, making her laugh. Then her phone starts ringing.

 

“Oh, it’s mom— I have to take this, I’ll be right back, you two can talk in the meantime!”

 

She steps away, leaving them with their trays of food and a little, embarrassed silence.

 

“You must think I’m a bit silly—“ Haruo starts, a hesitant note in his voice. “But well, Miki-chan is right. I do like heroes, and you were pretty sick during the festival. It’s cool that you are friends with her.”

 

“Not silly at all.” Izuku replies with a smile. “Some of our teachers are heroes that I totally fan-stalked long before I started high-school. It’s been months at this point, and I still kind of get the cold sweats talking with them.”

 

At that Haruo splutters a little laugh. “You’re really nice! Most people think that UA’s students are kind of arrogant, but it’s cool to see it’s not true.”

 

“I don’t know, I can think of some examples of arrogance—“ Izuku replies, pensive. “Besides, if I was to do that whole best friend threatening you to treat her well or else routine, you might change your mind.”

 

“God no, please don’t.” Haruo replies, a smile in his voice. “You are probably strong enough that you could fold me like an origami and not break a sweat. I’ll be good to Miki-chan, promise.”

 

“You better be.” Izuku replies, with no real bite in his voice, pointing a fry toward Haruo, making him chuckle.

 

Haruo takes a sip of his drink, his voice sounding a bit dreamy when he speaks again. “Besides, I would never hurt Miki-chan, she’s just so… You know.”

 

The way his light felt— Izuku felt different kind of affections coming from all sorts of people, but he never felt something quite like this before.

 

He wasn’t exactly a leading expert in romantic relationships — that’s what spending a good chunk of your formative years blind and lonely does to you, he guesses— but if Izuku had to imagine how love would feel, it probably would feel the way Haruo was feeling now.

 

Izuku was nothing but an accidental witness of that, but it still seemed pretty nice.

 

“To be honest, I don’t really know— But you sound really… Smitten.” Izuku says with a chuckle. “How have you met? Classmates?”

 

“At the first-aid course, actually. I was there for personal reasons. She— She helped me a lot with some stuff I was going through. I swear that she’s an angel.” A pause, then he adds with a chuckle. “A punk-rock angel.”

 

Izuku feels a bit of melancholy washing over him as he smiles. “I know what you mean. She really is.”

 

A little silence falls over them, promptly interrupted by Miki coming back. “Mom wanted me to pick something up from the grocery store on the way back, but she ended up giving me a giant list.” She laughs, sliding back into her seat. “So, what’s up?”

 

“I was just asking Haruo how did you two met.” Izuku filled her in. “Speaking of which, how’s the course going? And school? We didn’t really had much time to talk, lately.”

 

Because I’ve kind of gone insane for a few days, there, but I don’t think I’m going to tell you that.

 

Izuku sat back and listened to the two talk animatedly about their course and all sorts of things, almost not intervening at all.

 

After all, Izuku was the protagonist of his own life just as much as Miki was to hers. She deserved an audience every now and then, at the very least.

 

 

“hey man waddup”

 

Izuku was startled out of his concentration, fingers going still on the braille display when the text came in.

 

The lunch went well and Izuku parted ways with Miki and Haruo not long after, sensing that the two wanted to spend some time alone. He was fine with it, he could catch up with some homework in the afternoon and be able to spend the whole day with his classmates at the mall, tomorrow. Then Miki’s text came in during the evening.

 

“Hey. So, did I make a good impression on your totally-not-boyfriend?”

 

“Don’t tease me, Midoriya.”

 

“But yes, maybe even too good. Like stop being so nice”

 

“Haruo was super pumped to meet u and he couldn’t stop commenting on how chill u were”

 

“lol. I’m glad. He seems like a nice guy. But if he treats you bad you know who to call.”

 

“Spare me. As if I need ur help to defend myself, mr hero”

 

“Anyhow. I’m glad I saw u today, u kind of disappeared lately and I was worried”

 

That stopped Izuku in his tracks. Of course she was. Man, he was a really bad fucking friend. Carefully he composed his response. He felt terrible about lying to her, but he just didn’t had it in himself to say Sorry, I kind of overloaded on emotions and went crazy for a bit, don’t mind me. He knew she would worry herself sick, if he did.

 

“I’m sorry. A lot of stuff to do with the end of term exams. I’m glad we got to meet today, too. I miss being with you everyday, speaking on the phone is not the same thing.”

 

“I miss u too, but not much we can do about that I’m afraid.”

 

“R u going with your classmates at the mall tomorrow? u could use the occasion to score some”

 

“MIKI.”

 

“Boo, ur boring. C’mon, there must be someone you like in ur class”

 

“There’s no one. Besides, I’m kind of too busy trying not to die to think about romance, here.”

 

“Excuses excuses. U should ask All Might for pointers, I bet the man has seen plenty of action through his life if u know what I mean”

 

Here it was again, the sting in his chest that made him feel like his heart was about to shatter all over. Izuku forced himself to take a deep breath. Calm down.

 

Act normally.

 

“First of all: gross. I don’t need to think about him “getting some”. Secondly, I’m fine, ok? I know you mean well but I’m really not interested in a relationship, for the moment.”

 

“Ur always so serious Izuku relllaaaaax”

 

“Anyhow if u ever realize ur getting the hots for one of ur —almost all very hot, frankly— classmates u know u can tell me”

 

“You do realize I have no idea how hot my classmates are, right.”

 

“I guess not. I hope u get a crush on the one with the bird head, that would be fun”

 

“The one with the WHAT”

 

 

The day was sweltering, as they walked into the crowded mall.

 

Ochako fanned herself with her hand, looking around. The place was brimming with people, vendors calling out to them as they noticed the rather peculiar physiques of Iida and Shoji. Most of her classmates that came to the appointment were chatting between themselves, talking about the different things they needed to purchase for the summer boot camp that was to come.

 

Midoriya at her left looked a bit pale, massaging his forehead with a hand.

 

“Are you ok?” She asks, carefully. He turns with a little smile.

 

“ ’S nothing, it’s just that this place is packed.” He says with a little sigh. “I mean, I’ve been in crowded places ever since I discovered my quirk, but this is definitely something else.”

 

Right. His quirk.

 

Ochako sighs internally. She had time to reflect upon it, yesterday.

 

…And came to absolutely no certain conclusion.

 

She had no idea what Midoriya could be possibly thinking of her. Discovering that he was an empath had been so utterly embarrassing— And yet, Midoriya seemed to act as he always did, nice and friendly and apparently not put off by Ochako’s feelings at all. The conclusions she came to were two:

 

1- Midoriya wasn’t interested in something more with her and had very kindly decided to ignore her obvious crush, deciding to pursue just a normal friendship.

 

2- Midoriya had no idea she had a crush on him.

 

That second idea seemed ludicrous, at first. How could someone that felt other people’s feelings not realize that?

 

But then she recalled what Miki said, about how “immature” he still was, on that front. And she recalled what Midoriya himself said. About how lonely he had been until he made friends with Miki, how he never really had anyone else in his life until he started at UA. And suddenly the idea didn’t seem ludicrous anymore.

 

Maybe Midoriya hadn’t realized, because Midoriya never felt those sorts of feelings before.

 

But if that was the case… For how long could she go, before he recognized them?

 

Ochako still didn’t want to pursue anything more with him. It was just a silly crush, Midoriya was cute and very nice —and also kind of hot, bite her, the guy is packed—, it was bound to happen and it would go away with time. But if Midoriya was to realize how she felt it might put a damper on their friendship, and Ochako definitely did not want that.

 

Maybe she should just bite the bullet and tell him and get it all out of the way, get rid of all this insecurity plaguing her—

 

“Uraraka…?”

 

She jumps. She had gotten so distracted that she didn’t realize that suddenly it was just her and Midoriya.

 

“I’m sorry—!” She rushes to say. “I totally got lost in thought— Were are the others?”

 

“They all left to do their own thing.” Midoriya shrugs with a small smile. “We have an appointment at the food court in a hour and a half. Did you had to pick up something specific?”

 

“Not much, I just wanted to get some bug repellent for the boot camp, you?”

 

“I needed to go pick up some new wrist-weights. I guess there’s no need to split up, if we just have to do that, right?”

 

Goddammit stop smiling like that you adorable bastard—

 

“I guess not.” She sighs internally, surrendering to her upcoming demise caused by Midoriya 'I have the cutest face in the world and the hottest bod on the planet' Izuku.

 

So they make their way through the crowd side by side, Ochako looking around for the shops they needed, when suddenly Midoriya puts an arm around her shoulders and leans into her, his curly hair tickling her forehead, his breath caressing her cheek.

 

MAYDAY MAYDAY—

 

“Uraraka—“ The urgency in his whisper immediately stops the embarrassed panic in her head. “Don’t turn around, don’t talk, keep walking normally. Listen. Take my phone, there’s the contact of a man named Naomasa Tsukauchi. Call him immediately, tell him that Shigaraki is here—“

 

Pure fear immediately claws at her throat as she makes a choked sound, Midoriya pushing the phone in her hand insistently.

 

“No— Ssshhh— Don’t talk—“ She dares to turn her eyes to him a bit. He’s pale as a ghost, sweat rolling down his face, his eyes pointing forward with a determined expression. “Enter into the shop closer to you, act normally. Call Tsukauchi and tell him that. Shigaraki’s following us, I’ll try to lead him away from the crowd—“

 

Izuku…!” She whispers, tears stinging at her eyes. “You can’t—“

 

“I’m the only one that can keep tabs on him at all times without actually looking at him and make him notice that we noticed—“ Midoriya replies, biting down his lower lip. “If he goes on a rampage here, I cannot imagine how many people would die.”

 

“B-but without your phone— How will we find you?” She objects, urgency in her whisper. “Izuku, this is too dangerous, you can’t—“

 

“I’m afraid I will have to count on luck for that. Now go, hurry—!” He says, ignoring her protests, a plead in his eyes as he takes the arm on her shoulders away.

 

Ochako hates herself more than she hated anything ever in her life, as she forces herself to act normally while she enters in the shop immediately to her right, feverishly searching for Tsukauchi in Midoriya’s address book.

 

 

Toshinori just came out a shower and put on some fresh clothes when the phone rings.

 

Thinking nothing of Tsukauchi’s name flashing on the screen he picks up with a little “Hey”, dragging a tuft of blond, wet hair away from his face. Tsukauchi voice is slightly muffled, the noise of a car engine going at full speed in the background.

 

One of your students called from Midoriya’s phone, telling me Shigaraki is at the Kiyashi-Ward shopping mall. She told me Midoriya was going to try lead him away from the crowd. I already sent a car to your address and I’m on my way with my team, I’ll see you there.

 

Toshinori is pretty sure he just forgot how to breathe.

 

 

Izuku had been walking for what felt like forever.

 

He felt as if every sound was far, muffled. He was a ghost, walking amongst humans, but not really there.

 

He forced himself to keep his steps calm. He forced himself to don’t make a beeline for the nearest exit. He forced himself to act as if he was interested in the shops, hesitating every now and then in front of one like he was considering entering, before starting to walk again. He forced himself not to turn around— don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around don’t turn around —

 

And don’t puke on yourself for the love of god please—

 

Shigaraki was following some meters behind. Not a sign in his not-light that betrayed the fact he had noticed anything amiss in Izuku’s behaviour, as far as Izuku could tell.

 

Izuku was slowly making his way toward a secondary exit that seemed to be pretty much ignored. He had no idea where he could go from there, but if he could at least drag the monster away from the majority of the crowd, that would be something.

 

It took forever. His nose still felt runny after he had to clean blood away from it. It always happened when he expanded the radius of his radar over his normal limit, and Izuku kept dabbing at it with a nervous hand.

 

Finally the crowd started to decrease bit by bit. He only passed a couple of people as he made his way to the exit that seemed to lead to some sort of underpass that was completely empty.

 

Shigaraki was still following.

 

They made it maybe ten meters through, before a voice stopped him in his tracks.

 

“Midoriya Izuku.” Shigaraki said, voice strong. “Are you leaving your friends behind? That is not very nice.”

 

Izuku stopped, feeling his lower lip tremble, sweat rolling down his face.

 

“Don’t think I hadn’t noticed what you were doing.” Shigaraki continues. “It took me a while to realize, I admit. You are very smart, and somehow incredibly perceptive.”

 

The jig was up. Steeling himself, Izuku turns around.

 

“What do you want?” He asks, his voice far more steady than he really felt.

 

“Just to have a chat with you.” Shigaraki answers casually, closing the distance between them. Or so he tried, as Izuku took a step back for every step Shigaraki took. Shigaraki stopped trying to advance, keeping the distance. “Maybe you can answer some of my questions.”

 

Izuku bit down on his already abused lower lip, frowning.

 

“Oh, don’t make that face, now.” Shigaraki says with a little sigh. “I mean, if you don’t want to chat I can always go back there and put my hands on some random, innocent passerby. Your choice.”

 

I’m faster than you, now, I won’t let you— He doesn’t say that. Better not to provoke.

 

“Fine.” He says, instead, steel in his voice. “Let’s talk.”

 

 

Toshinori pretty much launched himself out of the car.

 

Rather than a team, there was a platoon. He could see police cars as far as the eye went, people were being evacuated from the mall as orderly as possible, a huge crowd of curious being kept at bay behind the police lines. The agent that drove him here guided him over the line, over a series of cars, behind an armored truck.

 

Tsukauchi was there, leaning over the hood of a car with a map spread on it, talking in a radio as he alternated orders to his agents with wide gestures.

 

Not much further, young Uraraka. She was sobbing desperately, trying repeatedly and failing to dry the tears away from her cheeks, shivering, as one of the agents was keeping a comforting hand on her shoulder.

 

“Toshinori—!” Tsukauchi says, dead serious, when he sees him approaching in haste. “Come here, you know that boy better than me, maybe you can figure out where he could’ve led Shigaraki.”

 

Toshinori doesn’t waste anytime, leaning over the map. It’s a multilayered map of the shopping mall.

 

“I already sent teams on this, this, and this exits—“ Tsukauchi explains, pointing on the map. “Uraraka told us that Midoriya was planning to try lead Shigaraki away from the crowd. I think trying to get out of the mall would be the most sensible option— This exit—“ More pointing. “Leads to a parking lot that connects directly to the highway, so I don’t think he could’ve gone there—“

 

“What’s this?” Toshinori asks, pointing at a little corridor signaled with a barred exit, in the very back of the mall.

 

“That one’s out of commission. Leads to an old, now unused bus station—“ Tsukauchi’s breath hitches in his throat, as he connects the dots. “Midoriya can see— Of course, he must’ve lead him to the less trafficked exit—“ He immediately takes the radio to his mouth. “Team gamma! Team omega! First floor exit, section b, to the left of the closed apparel shop!” He orders in a bark. “Toshinori, you should stay here and—“

 

Tsukauchi falls silent. Toshinori is not sure what expression he’s wearing, but it must not be a good one.

 

“…At least take one of the bulletproof vests.” He finishes to say, instead, before turning around. “LET’S MOVE NOW! MOVE MOVE MOVE!

 

 

 

“So, it all goes back to him, in the end.” Shigaraki sighs. “All Might.”

 

Trying to talk with Shigaraki it’s like playing hide and seek. Without his quirk.

 

A minefield of false starts and traps. Of little words missing, and body language he cannot read. It’s like trying to play chess without knowing the rules, without seeing the board.

 

“Thank you, Midoriya.” Shigaraki says after long seconds of silence. “Our chat had been quite… Enlighting.”

 

What now? Izuku thinks. Please go away. He adds, a fruitless plea.

 

Izuku had bought as much time as he possibly could, stretching sentences and answers as long as humanly possible, leading Shigaraki in circles in his completely disconnected way of reasoning by throwing him more words and ideas whenever it looked like the man was actually reaching a conclusion.

 

He knew that Uraraka had done good because the mall was almost empty already, and what little people were left were closing to the main entrance. It was clear that, as he led Shigaraki down this cul-de-sac —because, yes, it was a blind exit. Lucky him—, the police started evacuating the mall, and kept doing a steady job of it as they spoke.

 

Of course Shigaraki did not know that. He even asked why Izuku’s nose had suddenly started bleeding in an almost light tone.

 

“It does that when I talk with assholes.” Izuku could not stop his mouth from saying. Shigaraki laughed, finding amusing his little act of rebellion.

 

But what now? Apparently Shigaraki was done, Izuku was cornered, and no one seemed to be coming their way, for what he could feel from the now much, much smaller -his head hurt like a bitch- scope of his radar.

 

“So—“ Izuku starts, because Shigaraki is silent, and that cannot be a good thing. “Is your friend with the portals going to come give you a lift, or…?”

 

Shigaraki chuckles. “Why, do you want to get rid of me already? I thought we were friends.”

 

I’d rather eat shit. “Seems you have found what you searched for, I don’t see any reason why you should hang around anymore. This place is boring, anyway.”

 

“But what if we make it less boring?”

 

Fuck.

 

“What if I start my new path now, my new creed— What if I leave a little message to All Might.”

 

FuckShitFuck.

 

“Letting him know— Yeah. Let’s start with that. Your body will make for a fine letter.”

 

Sonofabitc

 

Izuku activates One For All.

 

“Oooh, that’s new!” Shigaraki says, a broken imitation of wonder in his voice. “Last time you didn’t light up like that! They make you work hard at that school, huh?”

 

“What makes you think you can beat me?” Izuku asks, voice low. “Last time I didn’t light up, and I was still kicking your ass.”

 

Immediate irritation overcomes Shigaraki’s not-light.

 

“That’s very not friendly.” He says, barely hidden anger in his flat tone.

 

“We’re not friends.” Izuku replies through gritted teeth. “I’m giving you a chance to go away unscathed. Take it, or face me.”

 

Izuku knows he’s stuck between a rock and a hard place. If he fights, he will get in trouble legally since he still doesn’t have a license, but if he does not— Well.

 

He dies.

 

Please fall for the bluff, please fall for the bluff, please fall for the blu—

 

“Mom? Where are you?”

 

Izuku’s breath hitches on his throat, his head suddenly feeling dizzy with panic.

 

There’s a child behind Shigaraki, not far from the exit door.

 

Shigaraki is closer to her than Izuku is—

 

Izuku charged.

 

 

The two teams are closing in, Tsukauchi at the helm. He tried to tell Toshinori to stay in the backline.

 

Toshinori ignored him, walking right at his side.

 

They were finally approaching the door in the ignored, badly lit up corner of the mall. It was open, despite the sign over it that declared the exit as out of commission.

 

Tsukauchi gave some gestures and a nod to his teams, silent. The two groups surpassed them, their weapons pointing right in front of them as they moved silents as cats.

 

Only thirty meters away and suddenly they hear someone scream “RUN!

There’s a choked, high pitched yell, and then a young girl that couldn’t be older than ten suddenly rolls out of the door as if someone had launched her over the threshold. She scrambles, trying to get away with fear on her face. Young Midoriya rolls out, too, not alone.

 

He’s struggling with Shigaraki in a mess of limbs, one of his hands on Shigaraki’s face as he tries to push him away, the other around Shigaraki’s wrist, keeping the deadly fingers only a few centimetres away from his own face. Shigaraki forces him belly up on the floor, grabbing the front of the boy’s shirt with his other hand, the cloth rapidly dissolving, and Midoriya kicks him in the stomach, turning back on all fours and jumping toward the child as Shigaraki, that rapidly bounced back from the kick, does the exact same.

 

Midoriya’s slight advantage allows him to reach the child first, covering her with his own body protectively. Shigaraki arrives an instant later, his fingers sinking into the boy’s back.

 

Midoriya screams.

 

 

Ochako can’t stop crying.

 

The agent near her is kind. She’s keeping a hand on her shoulder, gently caressing her back with the other. She doesn’t offer empty words or platitudes, just stands there, a silent promise of protection.

 

What could’ve Ochako done to protect Midoriya?

 

She felt like she had no choice. Midoriya’s plan was the most sensible one. Immediately alert authorities so they could evacuate the crowd far from danger as soon as possible. Lead Shigaraki away, so he could hurt no one.

 

No one, except Midoriya himself.

 

Why did she not insist more? Why did she let him do it? Why hadn’t she thought of something, anything, that could help them reach the same goal without endangering Midoriya?

 

The look in his pale eyes had been so scary. A mix of fear, and determination.

 

The look of a hero.

 

And maybe, now, Midoriya will never become a hero. Maybe he’s inside there, somewhere, turned to dust, to a pile of flesh and blood—

 

Another sob wracks her. Maybe she’ll never see him again, maybe that arm on her shoulders would be the last time she ever had the chance to feel him close.

 

She wondered where their classmates were. If they were in the crowd, asking what was going on, not having the slightest clue Midoriya might be dead as they speak.

 

Loud voices are suddenly getting closer, sounds like someone is screaming— She looks up, her vision blurry with tears as she looks to the now empty entrance.

 

Two teams of armed, armoured men come out running, one of them holding a crying little girl. Behind them there’s that agent Midoriya had told her to call, Tsukauchi. He’s yelling something she cannot hear over the cacophony.

 

Right behind him, comes a blond, tall, thin man. Ochako had seen him before, she realizes. At the sport festival, when they went to the infirmary to see how Midoriya was doing after his battle with Todoroki.

 

That man had been there, a silent presence.

 

He looks pale, his emaciated features taut in an unreadable expression.

 

Tsukauchi moves a bit to the left, and a choked scream dies in her throat as her hands shoot up, covering her mouth.

 

The blond man is carrying Midoriya between his arms. Midoriya is white, hands feverishly grabbing at the vest the blond man is wearing, gritting his teeth with an expression of pure pain on his face. There’s blood everywhere, drenching the big jacket rolled around Midoriya, dripping down, leaving a little trail as the blond man keeps running forward.

 

“WE NEED THE AMBULANCE, NOW!” Tsukauchi is yelling furiously over the chaos. “NOW! I TOLD YOU VIA RADIO! WERE THE FUCK IS THE AMBULANCE?!”

 

Two paramedics pushing a stretcher run forward as the ambulance closes in. The blond man deposits Midoriya on the stretcher, leaning on it when Midoriya refuses to let him go, screaming as he tenses on the stretcher, the paramedics uselessly trying to keep him still—

 

“It’s ok, it’s ok, Izuku, my boy, it’s ok, you can let go—“ They are close enough, Ochako can hear the blond man, now, as he frantically tries to comfort her classmate with a broken voice between Midoriya’s choked screams of pain. He’s caressing his face with frantic hands, smearing blood on Midoriya’s skin. “You’ll be fine, I promise, you’ll be fine soon, you can let go, I’m not going anywhere, ok? I’ll be right there with you— You can let go, I promise—“

 

Midoriya is wracked by coughs, blood splattering on the blond man’s face. A choked, gurgling whine follows, tears that had collected on the corners of Midoriya’s eyes rolling down to his temples.

 

“N—“ He tries to say, taking painful, wheezing, wet gulps of breaths. “— A— ight—“

 

Finally, he let go, fingers going slack as he loses consciousness. The paramedics immediately push the stretcher on an ambulance, the door closing as the vehicle takes off, wheels screeching.

 

The blond man is standing, unmoving. He’s covered in blood, his arms covered in blood, his hands covered in blood. He stares to where the ambulance had been only a handful of seconds prior, before falling to his knees. His face gets stained in Midoriya’s blood some more when shivering, thin fingers run up the skin, going to grab at his hair. A sob wracks him, but no tears follow.

 

And, from the distance of her own shock, Ochako cannot help but think that that must be the saddest sound in the world.

Chapter Text

 

They came to the hospital as soon as possible. Hizashi probably broke one or two -or twenty- traffic codes as he drove them there.

 

A police agent was waiting for them at the entrance after they presented their cards at the gates, where an entire platoon was stationed. He didn’t even ask them anything, he just nodded and then guided them inside the hospital, down a corridor. They walked through a series of doors each with three more police agents stationed. They stopped in front of another closed door, their guide nodding at them again before leaving to go back to his post by the entrance.

 

They didn’t even knock. When they entered, principal Nedzu was already there, as was Ishiyama. Agent Tsukauchi was there, too. He was speaking with Nedzu as the three of them were leaning over a table in the center of the -probably- conference room, over some maps and sheets of papers.

 

“…Took the shot as soon as possible.” Aizawa heard as he and Hizashi entered. “It hit him in the shoulder. That was enough to shake him off before he could do more damage, but he must’ve been prepared because he got immediately teleported away.”

 

Nedzu sighed. “It’s a shame he managed to escape again, but at least he didn’t finish the jo—” He hesitated, launching a little look into a corner of the room. “… How’s the little girl?”

 

“Scared, but unharmed…” Tsukauchi was saying, but Aizawa tuned him out when he looked over to where Nedzu’s eyes lingered.

 

Toshinori was sitting there, folded on himself, his hands resting between his knees. He was covered in blood.

 

“Fucking hell—“

 

Nedzu looks up.

 

“Aizawa, Yamada.” He welcomes them, voice grim. “Do you know the ETA of the other teachers?”

 

“We heard from Kayama as we were on out way. I don’t think she will arrive before at least another hour.” Hizashi replies, voice low. “Nothing from the others.”

 

Nedzu sighs, his little eyes closing.

 

“This is a terrible time for us all.” He murmurs. “… How’s Uraraka?”

 

“Currently being looked after.” Tsukauchi replies, voice low. “Unharmed as well, but in shock, clearly. We have already called her parents, but they will take a while to come. We—“ A moment of hesitation. “We sent a car to escort Midoriya’s mother. She should be here any seconds, now.”

 

There’s a good minute of heavy silence, interrupted by a soft knock on the door. The door opens, the same agent from before peeking his head in. “The mother’s here.” He murmurs softly.

 

Toshinori gets up from his seat, suddenly, stumbling a bit. He looks completely lost as he makes it for the door.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” Aizawa hisses, putting his hand on his shoulders to forcefully stop him.

 

“She—“ Toshinori tries to reply, before his voice dies in his throat.

 

“Toshinori.” Aizawa insists, softening his tone, as Toshinori keeps trying to push over him. “Toshinori, you can’t— Stop. You are covered in his blood.”

 

That’s enough to stop him cold. He looks down at his own reddened hands, like he’s only now noticing.

 

“Ishiyama, please help Toshinori get himself cleaned up.” Nedzu says, softly. Ishiyama nods, putting an incredibly gentle concrete hand on Toshinori’s shoulder, leading him out of the room. A sigh. “Agent, let her in.”

 

The man nods, and disappears for another minute, before coming back with Inko Midoriya.

 

She’s sobbing, her red eyes and nose and the wet tracks on her cheeks suggesting she’s been doing that for a while. Aizawa gently guides her to sit down, her arm shivering under his palm.

 

“Miss Midoriya.” Tsukauchi says, infinitely kind as he kneels in front of her. “I cannot express with words how heartbroken we all are.”

 

He takes one of her hands in his, as her other is covering half of her face as she sobs and sobs.

 

“Your son today has done something incredible.” He continues. “His courage and ingenuity has potentially saved hundreds of lives.”

 

“He—“ She tries to say, hiccupping. “They t-told me— he— ’s in surgery…?”

 

“Yes, he’s currently undergoing an emergency reparative surgery.” Tsukauchi murmurs. “The damage to his back had been extensive. most of his skin and muscles are gone. Part of his lungs and spleen had been destroyed, along with portions of his spine and ribcage. They are currently operating a reconstruction of the damaged tissues and bones.”

 

She whines, folding into herself.

 

“He has lost a lot of blood—“ Tsukauchi sighs, before continuing, clinical. “— His spine might have received permanent damage, but we will not know until he… He wakes up.”

 

If he wakes up. The words hang in the air, unspoken.

 

“Miss Midoriya, we assure you that our most competent medics and specialists are taking care of him.” Nedzu intervenes, gentle, putting one of his paws on her knee. “They are amazing. Your son will be fine, you’ll see.”

 

“How— He was just supposed t-to spend a day with his f-friends.“ Another series of sobs. “W-what— What happened?”

 

Tsukauchi sighs again. “You surely know of the man called Shigaraki Tomura.” He says, and she nods, trembling. “Your son— He was walking with his classmate, Uraraka Ochako, when he must’ve perceived Shigaraki’s presence with his quirk. He was following them, so he urged Uraraka to call me with his phone immediately, taking onto himself to lure Shigaraki away from the crowd.”

 

At that another series of sobs shakes her, fat tears rolling down her cheeks.

 

“Thanks to his quick thinking we’ve been able to intervene in the shortest time possible, evacuating the mall immediately. Our teams were searching for him, I was there when we found him. He— He was defending a little girl, shielding her with his own body. That’s how he got hit.”

 

Inko eyes go wide as she looks down to Tsukauchi, her lower lip trembling.

 

“Your son— He saved that girl. And not only that. A warm, early summer sunday like this? The place was filled—“ A sigh. “If he hadn’t been there we might be talking hundreds of casualties, right now.”

 

The silence is heavy on them, like a stone filled blanket.

 

“Miss Midoriya— Your son—“ Tsukauchi hands take hers in a tight grip. “He— He is a true hero.”

 

 

“Aizawa-sensei…?”

 

“Hey.” He says, gentle, closing the door behind him.

 

Uraraka looks a mess. Pale, bloodshot eyes looking up at him. She has one of those space blankets on her shoulder. A nurse is gently keeping her hand, as she looks quizzically to Aizawa.

 

Aizawa gives her a little nod, and she pats Uraraka kindly one more time before silently leaving the room.

 

“Aizawa-sensei—“ She sobs, eyes filling with tears. “I could not— He— Midoriya—“

 

“It’s ok, kid.” Aizawa murmurs, sitting by her side. “He will be fine, you know? He’s strong, that one.”

 

She rubs at her eyes, trying to angrily wipe away the tears. “He was covered in blood—“ She sobs. “He was screaming in pain— he— he—“

 

Aizawa puts an arm around her shoulders and she sniffs, leaning into the embrace.

 

“I let him go away alone with that man following him—“ She says in a rough whisper. “Why— Why did I let him d-do that—“

 

“Nothing you could do, kiddo.” Aizawa replies in a low voice. “You both did the right thing. What happened— Was unfortunate. But you both acted in the right way. You do not blame yourself for this, now, ok?”

 

“B-but—“

 

“Uraraka.” Aizawa puts a hand under her chin, turning her face up to him. “We both know that Midoriya took the most sensible decision. He found a way to alert authorities fast while simultaneously avoiding mass panic, and protecting the lives of hundreds of people. I understand that it is terribly painful, now, when the person you care for has been badly hurt. But your actions, today, have saved hundreds of lives.”

 

Tears roll down her cheeks, but she does not look away.

 

“As your teacher, I’m proud of you both.” Aizawa whispers. “And as an adult that has been watching you grow, I’m deeply pained by what has happened. All we can do, now, is wait and hope. So, do not blame yourself for things you had no possible control over, alright?”

 

After long seconds of silence she nods, closing her eyes with a trembly sigh.

 

“Your parents will arrive as soon as possible, so I can keep you company while we wait for them, if you want.” Aizawa adds, rubbing her back.

 

“Midoriya’s mom—“ She says, sniffing. “Is she—“

 

“She’s here.” Aizawa replies.

 

“…Can I see her?”

 

Aizawa hesitates. Maybe giving that woman another kid to fuss over will take her mind away from her own son fighting for his life, even if only for a moment.

 

“Let’s go.” He whispers, leading the girl outside with a hand on her back.

 

 

‘This is all my fault.’ It’s all Toshinori could think.

 

He’d been guided in a dazed state out of the room. Ishiyama helped him getting under a shower, found a set of clean clothes for him. Toshinori stood a long time under the lukewarm water, watching the pink stream slowly getting drained away, staring at the blood on his hands disappear bit by bit.

 

Young Midoriya’s blood.

 

His mind kept flashing at him nightmarish images. Midoriya, screaming, red pouring out of him as parts of his body disintegrated under Toshinori’s own eyes. The sound of him choking on his own blood, unfocused, pale eyes full of tears, small hands gripping at him, not letting go.

 

The way he tried to call him with his broken voice. A child, lost and scared.

 

When he finally found the strength to clothe himself again and stepped out the bathroom, Ishiyama was nowhere to be seen. He walked aimlessly, his mind nothing but white noise, until he heard the soft sound of voices.

 

He followed, turning a corner. All the way down the corridor, Inko Midoriya was sitting on some plastic chairs, hugging young Uraraka tightly.

 

“Don’t cry, dear.” She was whispering, gently carding her hand through Uraraka’s hair. “You know Izuku. He’s stubborn. He will be back on his feet in no time, and then we will have to knock him down ourselves to make sure he rests.”

 

Uraraka let out a little, watery chuckle, before sobbing.

 

Toshinori watched, his mind nothing but white noise. Maybe he should go and hug them both. He was not sure.

 

Aizawa appeared at his side out of thin air, apparently. Took his arm, guiding him away. Inko’s voice became barely a noise and then disappeared, as they walked away.

 

“…He flatlined a couple of times.” Aizawa murmured when they stopped in a barely lit corridor. “They’ve managed to resuscitate him. The reconstruction is going well, but they still need to close him up and put some blood in him.”

 

Toshinori blinked.

 

“Toshinori, I need you to snap out of it.” Aizawa says, an indescribable note in his voice. “I know how much you care about that boy. I know. But we need you. He needs you.”

 

“It’s my fault.” Toshinori finally murmured.

 

“What?”

 

“This is all my fault.” Toshinori whispers. “If I hadn’t meddled in his life, he would have never ended here. He would be out there, normal and happy, living without having to worry about immortal beings and people disintegrating his body with a touch.” A pause. “I did this to him.”

 

The slap comes as a shock. Toshinori blinks, a hand instinctually rising to his cheek.

 

“I want you to remember this exact moment for the rest of your life.” Aizawa hisses. “Because if you dare say something like that to that boy when he wakes up, I will do more than just slap you.”

 

The silence stretches, heavy.

 

“Listen.” Aizawa sighs, putting a gentle hand on his shoulder. “Maybe you’re right. Maybe if he had never met you, he wouldn’t be here.”

 

Toshinori flinches, but Aizawa continues. “Or maybe he would be out there, alone and unhappy, his dreams crushed, nothing to really live for. Maybe he would’ve given in to the dark, ending up bitter and resentful like Shigaraki. Maybe he wouldn’t be alive at all, if he hadn’t met you.” The fingers on his shoulder tightened. “What I’m trying to say is: You can’t know that. We can’t constantly question ourselves with what ifs. What we do know is that the boy loves you. You made him happy, you gave him hope, and a chance to grow and mature in a nice, loving person. A person that today has saved hundreds of lives.

 

Toshinori feels his ears pop, like pressure has released around him. He looks down at his hands, his trembling hands. They are clean, but they still feel like the blood is staining them.

 

“It’s ok.” Aizawa whispers. “You can let it out, big guy. You’re allowed to cry, too.”

 

He blinks, noticing how watery his vision feels.

 

Oh. He is crying.

 

 

She had fallen asleep.

 

It’s the only conclusion she could come to when her eyes shot open, and instead of finding herself being hugged by Midoriya’s mom she’s lying down a cot, another blanket over her.

 

Ochako slowly sits, rubbing at her eyes. They still burned, and she still feels like crying.

 

Of course she does.

 

She has no idea what time is it, nor how much time has passed. There’s a bottle of water and a little chocolate bar sitting on a minimalist nightstand near her head.

 

She takes a tiny bite of the chocolate, but she barely manages to gulp it down, her stomach giving a nauseous churn. The water goes down a little smoother, an elixir on her parched throat.

 

Abandoning the opened sweet on the nightstand, she silently slides off the cot on her naked feet. The floor is chilly, and in the semi-darkness of the room, only lit up by the the glowing green sign saying exit over the door, she sees her bag sitting on a chair.

 

She rummages through it, taking her phone out. The bright numbers on the screen —her heart feels like breaking when her eyes meet her background picture, a selfie of her, Midoriya and Iida, smiling, one of the first pictures with them she had ever taken. Midoriya doesn’t even have his little scar, yet— let her know that it’s past three in the morning.

 

It’s been hours. Is Midoriya out of surgery, yet?

 

There are a ton of messages, too. He opens the first one in the list, Iida.

 

“Uraraka where are you? They are evacuating the mall, I met up with Ashido and Tokoyami for now. I’m sending messages to everyone, please respond as soon as you can.”

 

“Uraraka, we’ve all met up, the only ones missing it’s you and Midoriya. Please, respond”

 

(1 missed call)

 

(1 missed call)

 

(1 missed call)

 

“Uraraka, I think an assault squad just arrived, something serious is happening. Please respond.”

 

(1 missed call)

 

(1 missed call)

 

“Uraraka, I just saw someone seriously wounded being taken out the mall. He looked like… No, nevermind. Please, respond, we are all very worried for you and Midoriya.”

 

(1 missed call)

 

“Uraraka, I just saw the news. The person I saw was Midoriya. Uraraka he. was covered in blood PLEASE RESPOND”

 

(1 missed call)

 

(1 missed call)

 

“Uraraka, please, I can’t take this anymore. If you’re there, answer me.”

 

(1 missed call)

 

A little sob find her way out of her throat. Of course Iida would be worried. She feels horrible, here, not knowing how Midoriya is, and she’s the one that knows the most of them all.

 

She has no idea if Iida would still be awake. Probably, considering the situation. She doubt he’d been able to sleep.

 

But she knows her voice will betray her if she tries to talk. So she composes a text.

 

“Iida, I’m sorry I didn’t answer you earlier. I’m ok, but a lot is happening, I couldn’t get to my phone. Midoriya was badly wounded but he—“

 

He’s ok? He will be fine? He could be dead as she’s writing, for all she knows. he deletes the last two words, and restarts.

 

“Iida, I’m sorry I didn’t answer you earlier. I’m ok, but a lot is happening, I couldn’t get to my phone. Midoriya was badly wounded and is undergoing surgery. I do not know yet how he is doing. I will let you know the instant I know myself. Please, pass this message to the others. I will explain more as soon as I can. Love you.“

 

The other messages are in the same vein as Iida’s, classmates trying to contact her, to ask her if she’s ok, to ask what is going on. She doesn’t have the strength to answer them all, counting on Iida to pass the word around. The last ones she opens are from mom.

 

“Sweetheart, we just got the call from the police. Me and dad are going to come right away, but it will take a while. Hang in there, ok? If you need anything, talk with your teachers. We’ll be there super soon.”

 

“Me and dad are just a couple of hours away, we’ll be there soon. Hang in there, my little champion.”

 

That one was the most recent, just from an hour prior. Another hour and mom and dad would be there. The thought was already immensely comforting.

 

“I can’t wait for you guys to be here. Love you.” She sends, letting them now she’s awake.

 

In the meantime, a new text from Iida came in.

 

“I’m glad you are ok, I was so scared. The news are so unclear on what happened, I have no idea what is going on. Please give us more info as soon as you can, and let us know how Midoriya is doing. I passed the message to others in the meantime. Love you too.”

 

She pockets the phone with a trembly sigh, padding outside the room. She walks down yet another nameless corridor, looking around in hope to see any familiar face. As she rounds a corner, a door opens, Aizawa-sensei and Midoriya’s mom coming out of it. She’s silently dabbing away tears from her eyes.

 

Heart shooting up to Ochako’s throat in panic, she runs to them. When Miss Midoriya notices her she blinks, surprised.

 

“Dear, what are you doing up? You should try to sleep some more—“ She tries to say with a trembly voice.

 

Ochako shakes her head, squeezing her eyes. “How’s Midoriya? Can you tell me anything?” She asks, her voice hitching in her throat.

 

She watches the woman and Aizawa-sensei exchange a little look.

 

“He’s… Out of surgery.” Aizawa-sensei says, voice carefully flat. “But he’s not completely out of danger, yet. He’s in intensive care, for now.”

 

Midoriya’s mom let out a trembly sigh, wiping more tears away from her eyes. Ochako looks at the door behind them, and then back at them.

 

“You went to see him, didn’t you?” She asks, watching them try to hide a surprised reaction. “Can I see him? Please—“

 

“Dear, you…” Hesitation. “You wouldn’t want to see.” Midoriya’s mom finishes in a whisper.

 

“Please, just for a minute—“ She pleads, desperate. “I need to see him with my eyes, please—“

 

The exchanged another little look, before Aizawa-sensei sighs “Alright. But only for a minute.”

 

 

When she entered the room, the blond man was there.

 

Standing in front of the glass wall dividing Midoriya from the rest of the world, shoulders slumped. A long tuft of blond hair hides most of his face to her, but it’s not hard to imagine which kind of expression is on it.

 

His right hand is splayed against the glass, as if he’s trying to reach over and put a kind touch on Midoriya’s head.

 

She silently walks up to him, standing by his side, and looks.

 

Midoriya is barely recognizable. Pale as death, purple circles around his closed eyes. A tube is stuck in his throat, smaller ones in his nose. He has tubes coming out of him from everywhere, she realizes. He’s connected to so many machines the sight is dizzying. He looks so small, sinking in that giant bed. The only parts of his body visible in all that clutter are part of his face and his left arm, sitting on the covers, fingers slightly curled.

 

His hand seems so tiny.

 

She wouldn’t have been able to recognize him, hadn’t it been for the freckles dusting the white of his skin and his curly hair.

 

She wants to cry. She turns a bit, looking at the blond man. He has a far-away expression, like he’s not really there.

 

If she had to choose a picture to represent the word sadness, it would be this man.

 

She doesn’t know what possesses her in that moment, but she puts her hand over the blond man’s arm. He jumps as if he just got zapped by an electric shock, turning to look down at her with wide eyes.

 

“Um— Mister—“ She hesitates. “…You look really sad. I’m sad, too, but Midoriya, he— he’s strong.” She forces a smile on her face. Strained, barely there, ready to break at a moment’s notice, but a smile nonetheless. “He’s so strong. He will be fine. So, don’t be so sad when he wakes up, ok?”

 

The blond man blinks, before his other hand raises to his face, hiding his eyes. When he talks, she can hear the tears in his voice.

 

“Yes.” He whispers. “He is strong.”

 

 

When Tenya entered the classroom, all eyes turned on him.

 

He couldn’t catch a lick of sleep, the past night, and his body let him know that it was not happy. He felt sluggish, his eyes burning as he forced them to stay open.

 

No one is laughing or joking, that morning. He passed the word around to every each one of their classmate, even those that had not been present at the mall with them. Those who did —that were with him when they caught a glimpse of someone covered in blood, screaming, being transported out the main entrance in haste- someone so familiar, their minds refusing to accept it really could be him, until they heard the news and Midoriya’s name being spoken— look just as pale and unhappy as he feels.

 

“Hey, man.” Kirishima says, his voice lacking the usual joyous bite. “Did you hear more from…?”

 

Tenya shakes his head, making his way to his desk. Uraraka’s desk behind his, empty, seems to be almost making fun of him.

 

He does not dare to look over to the other side of the class, at Midoriya’s.

 

“You know as much as I do.” He finally replies, as he looks at his phone that’s still rudely insistent in not showing him any new text from Uraraka.

 

He wants nothing more than to see one, to read the words Midoriya is ok on the screen, but it hasn’t happened yet.

 

Tenya sits down as silence falls on the class. When Aizawa-sensei enters a couple of minutes later they are all already sitting, looking at him with the same worried, questioning faces.

 

“I’m sure you are all already aware of what has happened yesterday.” Aizawa-sensei says without even a greeting. He looks like he hasn’t slept at all, as well. Yaoyorozu raises her hand up.

 

“Sir, all the news are being very contradictory—“ She says, frowning, before adding in a lower voice. “Can you… Can you tell us what happened to—“

 

Aizawa-sensei sighs. “Shigaraki Tomura was there.”

 

A series of gasps and little “What?!” ripples through the class, silence falling back again when Aizawa-sensei holds his hand up.

 

“Midoriya and Uraraka were together when Midoriya saw him with his quirk.” He keeps explaining. “He made Uraraka call the police as he acted like a lure, guiding Shigaraki away from the crowd. We still don’t know what happened in the time Midoriya left Uraraka behind and the moment the police found him, but when they did he was fighting with Shigaraki, trying to protect a little girl from him. Midoriya—“ A moment of silence. “Shigaraki managed to put a hand on his back, before being teleported away.”

 

Yaoyorozu’s hands flies on her mouth as she pales, similar shocked expressions appearing on everyone’s face.

 

“I won’t lie to you.” Aizawa-sensei continues in a tired whisper, a hand massaging his forehead. “Midoriya it’s still in intensive care after undergoing reparative surgery. We don’t know yet if he will wake up, and there’s a chance his spine might’ve suffered permanent damage.”

 

Tenya feels like puking, Tensei’s voice rising to his memories.

 

Please, not again, not Midoriya, too

 

No one is speaking. Aizawa-sensei slowly looks at all of them, his eyes betraying the pain he really felt despite his apparently indifferent expression.

 

“Considering the strenuous situation, your afternoon lesson is cancelled for today.” He says. “Morning lessons will go normally, your teachers are arriving for the day. We will keep you all informed if something changes.”

 

There’s another pause before Aizawa-sensei adds. “These are dark times, and now more than ever we need to stick close. I want all of you to support one another, to look at each other’s back, to put away personal squabbles and grudges and offer a kind hand to everyone at your side. Your two classmates have acted with the good of others in mind, as a hero should.” A deep breath. “Don’t let yourself fall to despair. As long as we are together, there will always be hope.”

 

 

Tenya did not really focus on the morning lessons at all, and he was not the only one.

 

Whenever he would look at his left, Todoroki would be in the same position. His arms crossed on the desk, his head down, face hiding between them. He would almost appear to be sleeping, hadn’t it been for the minute tremors that would shake him every now and then.

 

He didn’t move for the entire morning, as Tenya and Yaoyorozu occasionally exchanged a tired, worried look over his head.

 

 

“What do we do, now?”

 

The lessons were over, and they all grouped outside class. Technically speaking they were free to go, as no afternoon lesson was to come.

 

Of course, no one did.

 

“Iida, you should call Uraraka.” Ashido says, hugging herself. “I bet she’s at the hospital with Midoriya. She can tell us where it is, so we can go visit—“

 

It was so strange, to stand there as other students passed by on their way for lunch. Their day was normal, undisrupted, untouched. They chatted and laughed, like nothing was wrong.

 

An irrational part of Tenya wanted to scream at them, to yell that everything was wrong.

 

“Midoriya is in intensive care, they won’t let us in.” Jirou sighs, unhappily looking at the floor.

 

“Still, Uraraka said she was ok, right?” Sato intervenes, frowning. “Even if they won’t let us see Midoriya, we can still visit her. I cannot imagine how she’s feeling right now.”

 

The corridor had emptied, now, just the seventeen of them standing around Iida. Silent, he took his phone out of his pocket, starting the call on speakers.

 

Uraraka picked up after three rings.

 

Hey.” Her voice is slightly distorted by the speaker. She sounds tired. “I heard from Aizawa-sensei that the afternoon class was going to get cancelled. Is everyone ok?

 

“That’s what we wanted to ask you.” Kaminari says, frowning. A little surprised gasp comes from the phone.

 

“You are on speaker.” Iida explains, curtly. “The whole class is here.”

 

Her sigh is scratchy through the phone. “Hey, guys.” She says, her voice sounding like she’s forcing a smile on her face.

 

“Uraraka, we wanted to come by and visit since there are no more lessons for the day.” Yaoyorozu explains gently. “Can you tell us where you are?”

 

I’ve asked already, but they won’t tell me.” Uraraka replies, unhappy. “It’s like a sort of top secret place, for what I gather. There are police agents everywhere. I’m afraid I cannot help you.

 

There’s a pause, before she adds. “But I haven’t seen Aizawa-sensei back yet, so he may still be at school. You could try to milk the info out of him. The chances he tells are pretty low, but you could at least try.

 

“Thanks, Uraraka.” Tenya says, sighing. “We will try. You are not alone there, are you?”

 

No, mom and dad came last night.” She answers. “And M-Midoriya’s mom is here, too, so I’m not alone. Don’t worry, Iida.

 

“Alright. Please, keep us informed about everything, ok?”

 

‘course.” She sounds so tired. “I hope to see you guys soon. Love you all.

 

There’s a short round of greetings before Tenya closes the call.

 

“We should split up to search for Aizawa-sensei.” Ojiro immediately says. “No point in all of us going in the same places.”

 

“I’ll try go to the teacher’s shared office” Yaoyorozu replies. “Someone should go to Aizawa-sensei’s personal one, and the principal’s office, too.”

 

They split, agreeing on going in different directions. Tenya was to act as the info relayer since he was the one who had everyone’s contacts. He lagged behind, tiredly massaging his eyes behind his glasses.

 

He wasn’t alone. Bakugou was standing with his back against the wall, hands in his pockets, looking down with a contrite expression. There was something unreadable in his eyes.

 

“…Four eyes.” He says, voice low. “Better fucking send me a message when you know something, ok.”

 

And with that he turns, leaving.

 

Tenya watches him go, silent. Who knew what was going through that explosive head.

 

Bakugou was not the only one that stayed behind. Todoroki was there, too. Tense, hands closed in fists at his sides. His eyes were casted low, white and red hair covering his expression.

 

If Tenya had to be honest, he wasn’t very good at social— things. Uraraka and Midoriya had been easy for him from the very start, with their openess and kindness, the way they seemed to just understand him despite the fact he’d never been really good with friendships. And Todoroki was nice, too, of course, but he was more guarded. Complicated.

 

Without Uraraka and Midoriya acting as a buffer, Tenya was at a complete loss of how to act with him during such a arduous time.

 

But it was clear that now, more than ever, Todoroki needed a friend.

 

“Hey.” Tenya says, softly, approaching him. “This… This sucks, doesn’t it?”

 

The word is alien in his mouth, not a way he’d usually express himself. Still, that is enough to make Todoroki look up at him. He’s pale, dark smudges under his eyes. He seems angry, eyes glinting with something undefinable, making Tenya wish he could borrow Midoriya’s empathic quirk for a minute, just to understand.

 

“I told him.” Todoroki says, voice low and bitter. “I told him to try not to die, that stupid idiot.”

 

 

“I don’t think I’ve ever had a class as stubborn as this year’s 1-A.” Aizawa says, entering the room.

 

He puts something down on the table, in front of Toshinori. Looks like take-out food in a little square box, a pair of disposable chopsticks on the top.

 

“Have no idea if they are naturally like that, or if Midoriya’s terrible habits have rubbed off on them.” A mirthless chuckle. “They wanted to know where this place was, wouldn’t leave me be until I threatened them with expulsions if they kept trying to get info on a confidential location.” A moment of silence. Aizawa pushes the box toward him a bit more. “Eat.”

 

Toshinori sighs, slowly sitting a bit straighter as he picks open the box. He knows better than to get on Aizawa’s bad side, especially now that they are all running ragged.

 

“How are you doing—“ Aizawa sighs, sinking into an armchair. Not quite a question.

 

“I’m contemplating the idea of hunting Shigaraki down myself and squash his head open like a mature tomato with my bare hands.” Toshinori says, flat, breaking the chopsticks apart.

 

“… A tad gruesome.” Aizawa murmurs, non-committal.

 

“That’s because you didn’t see him disintegrate Midoriya’s body with your own eyes.” Toshinori replies, putting food in his mouth, not really tasting anything. “If you did, you’d feel like I do. Trust me.”

 

There’s a long stretch of silence as Toshinori eats, his eyes not really seeing. His mind is a mess of racing thoughts, prayers —sensei, I’m sure you can’t wait to meet him personally but please, give him more time. Don’t take him yet—, and pure, unadulterated anger that was trying to bubble up his throat, trying to overcome him.

 

“…It’s always disconcerting to see your darker side.” Aizawa says after a while, voice low. “Sometimes I feel like you can do no wrong.”

 

“I can do plenty wrong.” Toshinori replies with a mirthless chuckle. “My soul is not pristine. It has plenty of terrible things to offer.”

 

“But you always took the better choice.” Aizawa replies after a single beat of silence. “And you always will.”

 

 

Consciousness comes back in little pieces.

 

It’s the feeling of something under his finger here, the sound of something mechanical there. The impression of voices, far away in the distance.

 

The pain. Sadness. Not his, someone else’s. A sadness so deep it feels like a single drop of water slowly but surely digging into rock.

 

A movement, muscles twitching.

 

Consciousness comes back in flashes, not enough to shake him awake, but still enough to remind him even if only for a brief moment that he’s still there, lights flashing around him like short bursts of fireworks.

 

—Consciousness comes back in full force, finally wrapping its cruel arms around him, pain flaring into his entire body like he’s being slowly cooked on a searing fire—

 

Oh. A small, detached part of Izuku thinks, distantly, as something near his ear beeps madly. I’m alive.

Chapter Text

Inko did not know what do with herself anymore.

 

She forced herself to go back home, at some point. Take a shower, make a little bag with some fresh change of clothes for Izuku, for when he’ll wake up. —If he wakes up— —No, stop thinking that, he WILL wake up

 

She took his braille display, too. Surely he would get bored without anything to do in that hospital bed, later. He wasn’t one for just sitting there and resting, an overactive mind like his needed distractions.

 

She also took his phone charger. The battery was almost dead, how could he speak with his friends without his phone?

 

She got back to the hospital with her own car, presenting at the entrance the pass she was given. The place was intimidating, looking almost more like a prison rather than a hospital, with those high concrete walls constantly patrolled by police forces.

 

When she arrived back into the waiting room, Ochako was on a seat, dozing off. The poor girl, she must be exhausted. Her parents were speaking to each other in hushed tones, Ochako’s mother flashing Inko a little, sad smile when she entered.

 

They were very nice people, it was unfortunate they had to meet for the first time in such a terrible situation.

 

And now she was sitting there, waiting, waiting, waiting. She simply did not know what to do other than keep the constant prayer in her mind, that had never stopped, going.

 

Please, dear, don’t leave me— I need you, I can’t go on without you— You have to be strong, don’t give up, don’t give up—

 

With a sigh, she looked down at Izuku’s phone that she plugged in. There were a ton of missed texts and calls, obviously. Inko knew that his classmates had been informed of the situation already during the morning, so she ignored the messages from the names she was familiar with as she kept scrolling, just to make sure no one else needed to be informed regarding Izuku’s status.

 

Her heart fell down to her feet, when she saw the texts from Miki.

 

Izuku I just saw the news, that wasn’t you, right? It was just someone that happened to share you name. Crazy coincidence, right?”

 

“Izuku, please, tell me you are ok. This isn’t funny.”

 

“Please, answer me.”

 

“GODDAMNIT”

 

Oh, no, they talked about it in the news?! Inko had no idea— She’s been cooped up in this hospital for so long, not even thinking about the outside world— She dragged a hand on her face, incapable of imagining what Miki and Ichiko must be feeling, now.

 

Trying to will a fresh wave of tears away, she called.

 

IZUKU?!” Miki immediately answers, tears in her voice.

 

“Miki, dear, it’s me.” Inko whispers, her voice trembling. “I’m sorry I haven’t called you earlier, I had no idea they talked about it in the news—“

 

She hears Miki let out a choked sob. “It r-really was him—“ She says, her voice strained with desperation.

 

“They are taking good care of him, I promise.” Inko says, trying to comfort the young girl. “He will be fine in no time. So, don’t cry, ok?”

 

But he—

 

Inko accidentally tunes her out, when Aizawa opens the door, looking pale but relieved.

 

“He woke up.” He simply says.

 

 

Toshinori watches from a corner, feeling like an intruder.

 

Young Midoriya was awake, even if sluggish and confused. They had pretty much pumped him full with painkillers after he woke trying to scream and choking around the tube in his throat. That had been taken out, he’s mostly breathing on his own but still wearing a oxygen mask, small tubes in his nose. Inko Midoriya was at his bed-side, crying, as she petted his hair with a trembling hand.

 

He still was attached to so many machines, most of which Toshinori had no idea what they were for. There still were too many tubes intruding his body. He was still too pale, weak, not all there.

 

But he was awake. He was alive.

 

Midoriya blinks, his pale eyes unfocused as his mother gently cards her fingers through his hair, whispering reassurances to him.

 

At some point. Inko turns. Eyes full of tears, but a small, frail smile on her lips. She gestures at Toshinori, inviting him to come closer.

 

Toshinori obeys, despite the fact he doesn’t feel it’s right for him to be here. Slowly, he approaches the bed, putting a careful hand on the edge of it as if he’s afraid it might catch fire the moment his skin touches the sheet covering the boy, looking down at him.

 

“All Might is here, too.” She whispers, her knuckles brushing gently on young Midoriya’s jaw. “He’s been waiting for you all this time, too, you know? You gave us all quite a scare—“

 

The boy blinks, his mouth opening and closing silently. A sheen of tears covers his eyes.

 

“A—“ He tries to say, voice weak, barely there. “ — ight— ell— ou—“

 

“Honey, you don’t have to speak if you don’t feel well.” Inko says in a trembly voice, her hand stilling on his chest. He coughs weakly, takes a painful, wheezing breath.

 

“No—“ Young Midoriya whispers, more understandable now, voice still weak. “Have— to tell—“

 

“What, sweetheart?”

 

“I don’t—“ A deep, shuddering breath, tears finally spilling from his pale eyes, rolling down to his temples. “— don’t— really hate you—“

 

It’s like time stops. Toshinori is sure he’s not capable of breathing anymore. A sound comes out of him, from the depth of his chest, a mix between a laugh and a sob.

 

He kneels by the bed, his hand finding young Midoriya’s smaller one, squeezing gently with trembling fingers.

 

“I know—“ Toshinori sobs, shocked, not believing that with all this boy has been through his first thought is to reassure him. “I know, my boy— I know, it’s ok, I know you don’t—“

 

He watches through the tears, a giant knot in his chest finally releasing, when young Midoriya gives him a weak, frail, and yet undeniable smile.

 

 

Ochako wakes up in a strange place again.

 

She’s not on a bed, this time. Her place of -accidental- choice is far less comfortable, now.

 

She slowly rises from the seats in the waiting room, stretching, her neck giving a painful protest. Dad’s jacket falls off from her, and she shivers a bit, suddenly feeling cold.

 

She’s alone again, completely confused, again. What time is it, now?

 

She get up, poking her head outside the waiting room. There’s a congregation down the corridor, not far from her. Mom and dad, Aizawa-sensei, principal Nedzu, Miss Midoriya and the blond man that she does not know the name of in a circle, speaking animatedly.

 

She approaches, blinking, and Miss Midoriya must notice her from the corner of her eyes, because she turns to her with a huge, relieved smile.

 

A huge, relieved smile.

 

Ochako does not dare speak what her heart is yelling to her, as the woman closes the distance between them, takes Ochako’s hands in hers, still smiling.

 

“Dear, come with me.” She says. “There’s someone that really wants to meet you.”

 

 

When she enters the room, it’s not from the other side of a glass wall, this time.

 

Miss Midoriya’s hand on her shoulder is warm, reassuring. She guides Ochako toward the bed, and Midoriya —pale, tired, alive— slowly opens his eyes, turning his head minutely toward them.

 

“Sweetheart, Ochako is here.” Midoriya’s mom says in a low voice, petting his hair. “I told you she was fine, didn’t I? So you don’t need to worry anymore, ok?”

 

He blinks, a small smile pulling at his lips under the oxygen mask.

 

“ —araka. “ He says, weak. He slowly moves his arm, turning his hand palm up toward her.

 

Ochako stifles a sob down her throat. He doesn’t need her to cry all over him, now. She forces a smile on her face despite the tears filling her eyes, taking his hand in a gentle hold with four fingers. He weakly squeezes back, fingers shivering.

 

“Hey.” She says, voice watery. “You owe me big for this one, Midoriya.”

 

He smiles again, his eyes closing.

 

“You can’t stay for long.” Miss Midoriya says gently, patting her shoulder. “But I’ll give you a couple minutes, ok?”

 

She exits, softly closing the door behind her. Ochako turns back to Midoriya, his eyes are still closed.

 

“I’m glad— You’re—Ok—“ He speaks slowly and weakly, taking deep breaths almost between every word. There’s a long pause as Ochako stands there, holding Midoriya’s hand as he breathes slowly, like it takes him focus and energy to do so. “Wanted—To ask— you somethin’—“

 

“Of course.” She replies, leaning a bit closer to hear him better. His voice is so weak.

 

“Tokoyami—“ He says, surprising her. Why is he thinking about Tokoyami, now? “Does he— really have— a— bird head—?”

 

Ochako splutters, taken aback. Well, Midoriya is blind, so of course he wouldn’t know—

 

“Yes?” She replies, confused, a smile pulling at her lips despite everything. “Why are you asking?”

 

“Miki— told me—“ Midoriya replies, his eyes cracking open just barely. “Thought— she was joking—“

 

Ochako laughs, tears stinging in her eyes. Midoriya is smiling again.

 

“That’s— really funny—“

 

 

 

“Midoriya is awake. He’s ok.”

 

That’s all the text from Uraraka says. Tenya jumps on his feet with an exhilarated laugh, proceeding to immediately forward it to the entire class.

 

He can’t stop grinning for the rest of the day.

 

 

Aizawa feels like he could possibly sleep for the next three months.

 

From the moment the boy had woken up, the tension finally released. The heavy atmosphere that seemed to permeate every single nook and cranny of the hospital was lifted like an early morning fog giving way to the shining sun. Tiredness crushed all of them, making them realize for how many hours they’ve stretched their bodies and minds taut, waiting.

 

The boy was in bad shape, and help him say bad. But he wasn’t rejecting the repaired tissues inside him as they all worried it might happen, and despite the fact they had to fill him up to the gills with painkillers to avoid the poor kid to start screaming in pain, —not a nice scene, Aizawa could personally confirm— his body was slowly recuperating.

 

They were pushing the process forward as much as they possibly could with an array of healing quirks. In only a couple of days the change had been obvious. The boy was still weak, and still needed a lot of care, and couldn’t leave his bed yet, but they could hook him off some machines, take some intruding tubes out of him, baby steps to finally make him feel human again.

 

His legs were responsive, —hadn’t that been a relief, goddamnit, a giant one — confirming that he’d been lucky enough in the horror to avoid permanent damage to his spine. The boy would often look a bit confused, sometimes getting lost mid-conversation, or saying senseless things, thanks to the painkillers. But he still managed to be lucid, most of the time.

 

Maybe even too much.

 

“So, when do we leave for the summer boot camp?”

 

Aizawa stopped, his hands hovering mid hair over the homework that was sitting on his legs, waiting to receive grades. He turned, launching an incredulous look to the boy, sitting upright on his bed with his back sinking in a pillow almost as big as him, face pale and hair a mess, a shit eating grin on his lips.

 

His dark-circled-eyes full of life.

 

“…Toshinori, did you hear what he just asked?”

 

Toshinori chuckles from the other side of the bed, cutting an apple in little cubes on what little space there was on the bedside table. It was mostly covered with gifts from the boy’s classmates that Aizawa had personally delivered. “I heard it just fine.”

 

Aizawa waits, waits for some sort of “No, you can’t go, Midoriya, you almost died, actually you did die two times during surgery, what is wrong with you.” that never came.

 

Aizawa sighs. “Seriously—?”

 

Toshinori chuckles again. “You try to tell him what he can or cannot do.” There’s fondness in his voice. “I give up.”

 

Midoriya snickers -the little shit he is- and Aizawa can’t help the palm that smacks against his own face.

 

“Toshinori, you suck, your teaching sucks, you are the worst—“ Midoriya snickers again like he’s having a world of fun, while Toshinori, placid, puts the plate of small apple cubes in Midoriya’s hand. The boy happily puts one in his mouth, crunching. “Midoriya, you can’t even get off your bed for two minutes straight without going down like a newborn kitten, how do you think a boot camp would go?”

 

“Well—“ He replies, launching another couple of apple cubes in his mouth, obnoxiously crunching. “Means I’ll have to go with my entire bed.”

 

Aizawa let his head fall back, looking at the ceiling with a loud groan, the two little shits —Is it One For All? It has to be One For All, they are like twins— laughing at him.

 

 

Toshinori is just about to stand and get out of the room, when there’s a knock on the door and then young Uraraka pokes her head in with a big smile.

 

She’s not alone. Iida and Todoroki are with her, too. They raised hell on earth, Aizawa said. Cornered him, pestered him until he bargained a way for them to be able to visit Midoriya.

 

He called them the Midoriya Protection Squad. Wasn’t that funny (and very true).

 

So they got to be driven in a car with dark tinted windows to the secret location of the hospital and back four times a week. They never missed a single appointment, bringing notes from the lessons with them, keeping young Midoriya updated on everything with infinite patience.

 

It was a good thing, to be honest. Young Midoriya did not like being cooped up in his room, bored and lonely, and he’d probably raise hell himself hadn’t he be allowed to have these visits. For how much time his mother tried to spend with him, for how much both Toshinori and Aizawa came by to visit, —Aizawa saying it was his role as a teacher, as if Toshinori couldn’t see right through him, knowing how attached he had grown to the boy himself— it simply wasn’t enough. Young Midoriya needed people his age, his friends, to reassure him they were there and that everything was going to be ok. He needed to feel loved and secure. Keeping him calm was the key to speed up his healing process, after all.

 

He was doing so much better, already. Now capable of moving on his own, even if it tired him out quite fast. They had finally started to increasingly reduce the dosage of painkillers, too, which was definitely a big step.

 

Tsukauchi came by just a couple of days prior when he heard that the boy was back on his feet. Both in a official manner, and as a friendly visit.

 

It had been quite funny, to watch young Midoriya’s face go slack with shock after Tsukauchi told him the police forces wanted to assign him a medal for what he had done.

 

Excusmewhatdidyoujustsay?

 

Both Toshinori and Tsukauchi laughed at the sentence let out in a single breath. Midoriya blushed furiously —which was very nice, to see some colors on his now permanently pale face—, trying to say that there was no need, it was no big deal-

 

“That’s not up for you to decide.” Tsukauchi replied, gentle. “Let us honor your courage. It will mean a lot for many people, not just you.”

 

And Midoriya, that between many others surely understood perfectly well the meaning of symbols, shut his mouth and nodded, eyes as big as plates.

 

Tsukauchi asked him to give a statement, too, if he felt up to it. The boy agreed, relaying the full story to them. How he felt Shigaraki’s presence, following he and Uraraka, the decision he had taken. How he led Shigaraki away to that secluded exit, forcing himself to keep calm and don’t raise any suspicion in him. How Shigaraki had called him out in that underpass, and how Midoriya kept him busy by talking.

 

“I thought I would to go insane, speaking with him.” He said, shaking his head. “The guy doesn’t make a lick of sense. I kept leading him to intellectual dead ends, buying time, but in the end he managed to get to whatever conclusion he wanted from our little chat.”

 

He told them of how he had tried to intimidate Shigaraki into going away willingly, and how that backfired. He told them of the little girl, that was just so unlucky to stumble into them, and how both he and Shigaraki sprinted for her.

 

“And… Well, you know the rest.” He finished with a little tense frown, understandably not really wanting to remember in too vivid details how he got his terrible wounds.

 

If Toshinori could’ve bleached away from his brain the image of young Midoriya, screaming in pain as parts of his body got pulverised, that kept coming back to him in his restless sleep, he would’ve done it already.

 

Tsukauchi put a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. “I have nothing to say, if not thank you.” He said, serious. “Everything you’ve done— every second you’ve bought, could’ve been a lost life. I know you are only at your first year, but if I have to be honest, you are already a full fledged hero in my eyes, Midoriya.”

 

Midoriya blushed again, a small smile appearing on his lips, as he silently accepted the compliment. In the end, Tsukauchi had to bid farewell to them, busy with his work, promising that he would call young Midoriya once he’d be completely healed to let him know when the ceremony to assign him his medal would take place.

 

“A ceremony?” Young Midoriya asked, looking a bit out of it, as if he had already forgotten what they were talking about. —The painkillers must be kicking in—“I’m going to need some decent clothes for a ceremony, I think I only have jeans and t-shirts…”

 

Both Toshinori and Tsukauchi laughed at that, Tsukauchi saying “I’m sure Toshinori will be happy to help you find a nice suit.” before finally leaving.

 

And now, young Midoriya’s friends were here again.

 

Toshinori got up from his seat, putting a gentle hand on Midoriya’s shoulder. The boy gave him a little smile, his friends approaching the bed, gathering the chairs in the corner of the room to sit by his side.

 

“You can use mine, I was just about to go.” Toshinori says, gesturing to the armchair that was always to the right side of Midoriya’s bed.

 

“Wait, mister!” Young Uraraka says, approaching him with a smile. “I keep meeting you and I don’t even know your name! Are you a friend of Midoriya?”

 

Well… Of course she’d get curious, they did meet quite the number of times, at this point.

 

“He’s— A family friend.” Midoriya came to his save. Not a total lie, in a sense.

 

“I saw you when—“ Uraraka hesitates. The words -that day, holding Midoriya as he almost died- seems to hang in the air, unsaid. “…Are you a police officer, too?”

 

“Mh.” Toshinori replied, non-committal.

 

“Well, do you have a name?”

 

Toshinori looked at her, smiling and eager, and then at young Iida and Todoroki that already sat down by the left side of the bed, eyeing him curiously.

 

“Call me Toshinori.” He replied, already more than he really wanted to give. He didn’t liked the idea of lying to his own students, but he still needed to protect them from info that might put them in danger.

 

Young Midoriya seemed a little embarrassed, when Uraraka greeted him with a chirping “Well, it’s nice to meet you, Mr. Toshinori.”

 

The boy still didn’t had it in him to address Toshinori by name, no matter how much he tried. A small smile tugged at his lips, as he shook Uraraka’s hand as if it was the first time they’ve met.

 

 

“He’s kind of an odd guy, but he seems nice.” Uraraka commented once All Might had left the room, taking place in the armchair he was sitting in just a couple of minutes prior. “For how long have you known him? For a while, by the way he acted, I thought he was your dad, Midoriya.”

 

Izuku splutters the juice he was drinking, coughing. Then he starts to laugh.

 

“N-No, definitely not my father.” He finally manages to wheeze out.

 

Mmmmh…“ Uraraka replies, sounding unconvinced.”Whatever you say…”

 

“Do I look blond to you?”

 

Uraraka snickers, as Iida sighs in exasperation at their shenanigans.

 

“C’mon, you two, the amount of notes we have to go through today is embarrassing. The earlier we start, the earlier we finish.”

 

“Aye aye, big bro.” Izuku replies with a grin, making Todoroki release the tiniest giggle-snort.

 

They went over the last two days of notes, dutifully. Izuku had no idea what he could’ve done without his friends because the amount of stuff he was missing from school was rapidly reaching the size of a little planet. Hadn’t it been for them, he would’ve totally fallen behind big time.

 

When he apologized for forcing them to go through stuff that they already studied, they scoffed at him almost in perfect synchrony. “This is actually helping us, too.” Iida said, dutifully. “It’s a good way to commit the info to memory. So, don’t mention it.”

 

They would usually finish with about an hour to spare to just chit-chat and relax. Today was no exception, as Izuku put away his braille keyboard and recorder with a satisfied sigh, sinking back into his pillow as Iida launched in a description of today’s afternoon exercise, were Kaminari and Mineta had somehow managed to knock each other out completely by accident.

 

Izuku was laughing so much at the anecdote that he was almost in tears, when a sting of intense pain let itself known from his back. His mind went fuzzy, and when it cleared again, he could feel the presence of his friends hovering on him, Todoroki’s hands -it could only be him, with how one felt like an icicle and the other like an oven— on his shoulders.

 

“Huh— Sorry.” He rasped out. “They are cutting down on the painkillers again.”

 

He heard three simultaneous sighs, Todoroki’s hands lingering on him for a few more seconds.

 

“Maybe it’s too soon, should we call the nurse?” He asks, worried, but Izuku shakes his head.

 

“It’s fine, I’m getting better. Besides, you know I don’t like that stuff. It makes me feel all weird and fuzzy.”

 

“That’s what painkillers tend to do, Midoriya.” Iida explains patiently.

 

“Yes, and I don’t like it— Let me just—“ He gently takes Todoroki’s hands away, turning with a grunt. Now belly down on his bed, he says. “Todoroki, can you put your right hand on my back?”

 

When his friend complies, silent, Izuku let out a muffled moan in his pillow. The chilly sensation on his burning back was paradise.

 

“Please don’t ever leave.” He murmurs, relaxed. “Uraraka, Iida, can you— like— Staple his hand on me, please?”

 

They both snickered as Izuku felt a weight shift on his bed. Todoroki must’ve sat in a more comfortable position to keep working as Izuku’s personal human ice pack.

 

“Oh! I almost forgot!” Uraraka says after some seconds of silence, Izuku turning his face away from his fluffy pillow toward her. He hears rustling, as if she’s searching in her bag for something. “Bakugou gave us something for you, today.”

 

There’s a long beat of silence, as Izuku blinks.

 

“…I must’ve actually died and this is some kind of afterlife, because there’s no way you said what you just said.” He replies, deadpan. Todoroki’s hand on his back trembles, as he tries to stifle a laugh. —he’s still embarrassed of laughing in front of others, as if laughing is  something bad. Izuku is trying his best to correct that.

 

“I know right? I think my brain crashed and rebooted ten times when he told me that!” Uraraka says, cheerful. “But hey, I have eyewitnesses. It totally happened— Oh, here it is.”

 

“I… Would hardly define that a get-better-gift.” Iida says, in his usual serious tone. “But considering from whom it came from, it might be the equivalent of a giant flower bouquet from a normal person.”

 

Uraraka pushes something in his hand. It feels crinkly, is it something packaged? It’s as long as his palm, and bumpy—

 

“It’s a chocolate bar.” Uraraka says.

 

“…Let me take a guess.” Izuku deadpans again. “Peanuts.”

 

“How—“

 

“I hate peanuts. He loves them.”

 

There’s a second of silence, before they all start laughing.

 

“That’s the most Bakugou gift I can possibly imagine.” Todoroki finally comments with a little sniff. “Unbelievable.”

 

“I will forever preserve it, a memory to that one time Kacchan almost managed to take his head out of his ass and think of someone else, for a change.” Izuku sighs dramatically, satisfied in feeling Todoroki’s hand tremble against his back again.

 

“He even made a little card!” Uraraka says, surprised, peeling something away from the packaging. “…It says: what the hell are you waiting for, get better, stupid Deku.

 

“Poetic. Brings a tear to the eye.” Iida says, a grin clear in his voice, making Izuku giggle-snort loudly against his pillow.

 

 

 

Shouto falls on his futon, dead tired.

 

As he usually does after every visit to Midoriya, he just feels emptied of any energy. It was terrible every time, having to separate from him, watching him giving them that sad, unconvincing smile that screamed ‘I don’t want you to go but I don’t have a choice’. It was almost the end of the second week they’ve been visiting, and it still felt painful.

 

Shouto just didn’t want to leave his side ever again. The pain he felt during those excruciating hours in which Midoriya had been hanging between life and death would last Shouto a lifetime. He had no idea he was even capable of feeling that much pain anymore, he was pretty much sure the numbness had long ago stifled most of his feelings. —But then again, whenever Midoriya was involved, Shouto’s feelings tended to come back in full force, so maybe that shouldn’t have surprised him at all.

 

At least Midoriya was doing so much better. The first time they’ve visited, he looked like a corpse. So pale, connected to all those machines, his voice was so weak, his smile so strained. He hadn’t been very responsive at all, mostly in and out consciousness, his words slow and confused. He had improved at such a speed that Shouto had no doubt that he’d soon start to ask to be released, maybe within the week. Midoriya was definitely the kind of person that would go insane if he stayed in a hospital room for too long.

 

Shouto sure was tired of having to visit people he cared for in hospital rooms.

 

His phone buzzed as he relaxed on his futon, eyes closed, hair still wet after the shower tickling at his nose. He palmed on the floor blindly, only cracking his eyes open once he found the phone. He got a text from Uraraka.

 

“Heeeeey mr ice pack! *wink wink*”

 

He splutters a little laugh. He and Uraraka ended up developing quite a strange bond, lately, connected by the same predicament: caring a tad too much about a certain someone that needed a cold hand on the back during this last hospital visit.

 

One would think that that would make them rival. Instead, they had found comfort in each other, whining to each other about their woes. —Which, considering the almost suicidal tendencies of the subject of their affection, Shouto felt were kind of justified.

 

It had been Uraraka taking the first step, telling him she had realized the way Shouto felt toward Midoriya. She confessed she had been crushing on him for a while, now, but that she didn’t had any intention to act on her feelings, preferring to just maintain their friendship. Shouto could understand her reasons as of why. Heck, he should probably do the same, they were good reasons.

 

But, to be honest, he also didn’t want to do the same at all. He was too chicken shit to take the first step, but at the same time he could not deny he harbored a secret wish of making his and Midoriya’s relationship more than just a friendship. He just didn’t want to let go of these feelings, this warm, fuzzy sensation in his chest, so new, and painful at times, but that also brought him so much joy whenever he was around the object of his affection.

 

So, he kept his embarrassing crush close to his heart, in silence, while whining via text to the one ally that could totally understand him. He had even gotten more relaxed with that, the way he expressed himself much less formal.

 

“Don’t tease me, it’s cruel.”

 

“I thought you were about to set Midoriya’s bed on fire for a second, there, lol. It’s a good thing Iida is so incredibly oblivious.”

 

“I’ve got very close. I mean. Fuck that moan.”

 

“IKR? You made such a face, dude.”

 

“Stop laughing at me.”

 

“Who’s laughing?”

 

“You are, I know that you are, don’t you even try to play dumb with me, miss.”

 

“Alright, I was laughing. Not my fault, tho, you should’ve seen your face.”

 

“…I’m hopeless, aren’t I.”

 

“A bit, but I have hope for you. I hope your future babies will have green, white and red hair, like an italian flag.”

 

“I don’t think that’s biologically possible.”

 

“It’s a joke, Todoroki, you dumdum.”

 

Right. He did not recognize those sometimes, still.

 

He was just about to reply with the most sarcastic “ahah very funny” he could possibly muster via text when their group chat started buzzing. He switched windows, curious.

 

Small Might: Hey guys, I have a favor to ask.

 

Go2GoFast: Yes, what is it?

 

Small Might: I need you to convince Aizawa-sensei to let me come to the summer boot camp.

 

Go2GoFast: …Midoriya.

 

Small Might: Please???

 

Shouto sighed. Ignoring the silly nicknames that Uraraka had forced on them when she made the group, he starts to write.

 

Popsicle On Fire: Midoriya, you need to rest. A boot camp is just about the exact opposite of RESTING.

 

Small Might: I know, I know, but the thought of you guys going camping while I’m stuck here kind of makes me want to cut my wrists open with a yogurt lid

 

Small Might: That’s a joke by the way, don’t try to call the doctors on me like that nurse that thought I was serious when I told her I would try to drown myself in the pudding if she didn’t lower the dose of my painkillers.

 

CutiePie: First of all, Midoriya, treat your nurses well, you caveman. Secondly, stop trying to quit your painkillers cold turkey, you dumbass. And third, we KNOW you. If you come to the camp with us, you’re going to push yourself too much and get yourself hurt again.

 

Small Might: Wow taking a page from Kacchan’s book much, there?

 

Small Might: I won’t go overboard, I promise!

 

Small Might: Ppppppppppppllllllleeeeeaaaaaaaassssseeeeeeeeeeee

 

Small Might: And you better take me seriously because it took me ages to dictate all those letters in, goddamnit.

 

Small Might: It just makes me so sad to think about you guys and the whole class out there having fun, while I’m stuck here with my back hurting like a bitch.

 

Popsicle On Fire: … Now that’s just manipulative, Midoriya.

 

Small Might: I have no idea what you are talking about, my dude.

 

Small Might: besides, it’s not like I really can go overboard. As I just said: friends, meet my back. It hurts like a bitch.

 

CutiePie: Oh really? I thought your back was just fine since YOU KEEP TRYING TO QUIT YOUR PAINKILLERS COLD TURKEY

 

Small Might: Why are you so mean to me.

 

Small Might: Ok but no, seriously. I know it’s crazy, but I’m going crazy myself, here. I just want to come spend some time with my friends in the outside world. I will be a good boy, rest plenty, eat my vegetables, take all my meds, and won’t try to punch baddies in the face if they come visit.

 

Small Might: Also tell Aizawa-sensei that without me a certain set of precautions we agreed on would go bye bye.

 

Go2GoFast: Huh???

 

Small Might: Just tell him that. He’ll know.

 

Small Might: I have one last weapon: I heard through the grapevines that apparently Aizawa-sensei cannot resists Uraraka’s big puppy eyes, it’s his weakness.

 

Popsicle On Fire: Do I even want to know how you know that

 

Small Might: I heard him and All Might talking about it when they thought I was sleeping lol. It was a bit after you guys mobbed Aizawa-sensei into letting you visit me.

 

CutiePie: Oh, All Might came to visit you? What a nice guy!

 

Small Might: Ahahah yeah he’s nice

 

Shouto raised an eyebrow at that. The answer had come strangely fast, and was pretty short for Midoriya’s usual brand of All Might fanboy-ing whenever the topic came even close to the guy.

 

Oh well. It was probably because Midoriya seemed absolutely hell bent on having his way.

 

Small Might: guys please, I know I’m asking a lot, I’m just. I want my life to go back to normal. I’m tired of this.

 

Small Might: And I know that sounds manipulative, but it’s the truth. I’m just done with this hospital, and I miss spending my days in the class with you, instead of spending a bunch of hours a week in a hospital bed feeling like a zombie with you.

 

Small Might: I promise I will be good, you can even tell Aizawa-sensei that if I step even a single toe out of line I’ll go back to the hospital without a protest

 

Go2GoFast:  Alright.

 

CutiePie: IIDA YOU GAVE UP RIGHT AWAY

 

Go2GoFast: I think I would go crazy, too, in Midoriya’s place, to be honest. I can understand what he means.

 

Small Might: Thanks, man.

 

Small Might: You can even show sensei this conversation if you want.

 

Small Might: …Maybe skip the part were I was faking being asleep while he and All Might spoke, though.

 

CutiePie: I already know I will regret this but… Alright. Fine, we’ll try to speak with Aizawa-sensei.

 

Small Might: Todoroki?

 

Popsicle On Fire: I don’t think I have much of a choice, at this point.

 

Popsicle On Fire: But you have to promise me you’ll be careful.

 

Popsicle On Fire: Because if you do something stupid, I will personally freeze you to make sure you can’t run away, and bring you back to the hospital myself, and then tie you to your bed.

 

Popsicle On Fire: Are we clear?

 

Small Might: Kinky.

 

Small Might: Alright, you’re clear. I solemnly promise I won’t put myself in danger during the summer boot camp.

 

 

 

When Aizawa approached Inko Midoriya, he noticed just how pale and emaciated she looked, like she had lost a lot of weight in a very short time.

 

That made him feel really like shit for what he was about to ask. This poor woman went from having what she thought was a blind, quirkless son to a boy that was definitely not quirkless, still just as blind, and that also ended up inheriting the power of the symbol of peace. A son that had been collecting an increasingly more dangerous series of wounds, until the culmination of the Kiyashi-Ward incident, when death had been just a breath away from him. All of this in the spawn of about a year.

 

She must have nerves like steel, at this point. Or no nerves at all, it was hard to say.

 

She was observing Midoriya going through a session of physiotherapy. She had a distant look in her eyes, dazed, as she watched the specialist guiding the boy through a series of exercises to gain control back on his abused body.

 

He sat down at her side, making her jump a bit. She turned, her eyes clearing over.

 

“Oh, Mr. Aizawa, I didn’t hear you coming at all.”

 

“I can be pretty sneaky without realizing.” He replies, as a manner of apologizing. “How is he doing?”

 

“Far too excited at the idea of getting back on his feet and with the energy that only a fifteen year old boy can possibly have after what has happened. He’s forcing himself even though his back hurts, I can see it in his eyes.” A sigh. “I told the doctors, but they say it’s good to force things a bit as long as it’s kept under control, so he can recover faster.” She sounds reproaching.

 

Aizawa scratches at the back of his head. He’s starting to think the boy might be a bit of a masochist. “I don’t think there’s any possible way we can keep him in bed short of tying him to it.” He finally says. “I’ll give him two more days before he’s going to start asking to get back to school. Speaking of which…”

 

Aizawa really did not want to do this.

 

“He has unleashed the Squad on me.” He finally forces himself to say, Inko blinking perplexed at him. “I mean— Uraraka, Iida and Todoroki. Apparently he asked them to try convince me to let him go to the summer camp.”

 

The expression on her face is enough to make him give a little mental prayer for Midoriya. That boy is grounded from here to infinity, for sure.

 

“I know, I know.” He continues, not needing words to understand what she thought of the idea. “And frankly, I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s not even a decent idea, really. But— I think you should give him permission to go anyway.”

 

Now Aizawa is the one that’s definitely grounded. Her eyes are like burning coals of silent rage.

 

“Please allow me to explain.” He interrupts just as she’s about to open her mouth. “Apparently he has promised to don’t overdo it, that he will be good, take it easy, take his meds, and also has said himself that if he steps even a toe out of line, he will go back to the hospital without protesting, verbatim.”

 

She closes her mouth.

 

“He just really wants to reconnect with his friends, feel normal again.” Aizawa says, his voice lowering. “And I think it’s the right thing to give him a chance. He’s been closed in here for too long, if we force him to stay any longer, I’m afraid he might turn reckless in his need for freedom.”

 

Inko slowly turns to look at the boy. Stretching and sweating and yet so happy as he finally gets to burn some energy in the little hospital gym, specialists fussing over him.

 

“I know.” She finally says with a sigh. “I know. He’s like a bird. You may be able to put him in a cage and keep him there, but that won’t make him happy.”

 

“I promise I will personally keep an eye out to him and make sure he doesn’t get himself hurt.” Aizawa says, perfectly aware of the kind of responsibility he’s taking onto his shoulders.

 

She takes another, deep sigh, dragging her hands on her tired face.

 

“Alright. He has my permission.” She finally says, sad acceptance in her voice.

 

 

“So, you’re going in the end, huh?”

 

Izuku snickers into his phone, Miki giving a big exasperated sigh.

 

“You’re impossible. Always getting what you want.”

 

“It’s because of my big, beautiful eyes.” Izuku replies in an over-dramatic tone, making her laugh. When the laugh subsides, she sounds serious.

 

“Just… Be careful, ok? I don’t want to turn on the tv and hear that you’re half dead ever again.”

 

“I’ll be super careful, promise.” He says, voice low. “Besides, the school is taking all the possible precautions to make sure our destination will stay hidden.”

 

“Hasn’t stopped any of those fuckers before, it seems.”

 

“Seriously, Miki, it’s just a camping trip, and I’ll be there. The human radar.” She laughs again. “What could possibly go wrong?”

Chapter Text

“MIDORIYA!”

 

Izuku’s grin is almost face breaking, as he approaches the now surprised and happy lights of his classmates with a bag on his shoulder, ready, after Mom had insisted on driving him to the appointment herself. (“Remember to obey to Aizawa-sensei.” “Yes, mom.” “And tell him right away if you feel unwell.” “Yes, mom.” “Don’t push yourself too much.” “Yes, mom.” “And call me everyday.” “Yes, mom.” “And take you medications.” “Yes, mom” “I asked Ochako to make sure you take your medications, so if you don’t do it in front of her I will know.” “Yes, m— wait, what?”)

 

The surprise that went through the class in seeing him approach felt like a zap. Apparently Aizawa-sensei has kept the news to himself to the very end.

 

“Midoriya! It’s great to see you, man!”

 

“How are you doing?”

 

“We’ve missed you!”

 

“Are you coming, too?”

 

He’s surrounded, hands on his arms and shoulder, making him laugh.

 

“I’ve missed you guys, too!” He exclaims, unable to contain his own joy, blindly patting back to whoever he’s closer to. “I couldn’t miss the summer camp!”

 

Aizawa-sensei sighs, not even try to contain the chaos that has surrounded him. Izuku feels the also very familiar lights of class B approaching. —how could he not, their class was just right besides his, it’s a bit strange to realize how familiar they feel despite having rarely talked to any of them

 

“Alright, everyone, on the bus! Orderly!” Iida says, dutiful as ever, before approaching Izuku with a lower voice. “I’m glad you could make it, Midoriya. This trip wouldn’t have been the same without you.”

 

Izuku grins, joining the line for the bus. Aizawa-sensei was standing a bit further, speaking with his mom in hushed voices, but he’s now approaching, stopping Izuku before he could climb up the bus.

 

“Let’s lay down some rules, you and I.” He says, after he leading him a bit away to have some privacy. “First of all, my word is law. If I tell you something, you obey, right away, no questions asked. Are we clear?”

 

“Yes, sensei.” Izuku replies, dutifully.

 

“Secondly, you will take it easy. I don’t care if you think you might be falling behind, or whatever. You don’t move a muscle unless I tell you to. Got it?”

 

“Yes, sensei.” Izuku replies, again, because it’s not like he can do much else.

 

“Third: If anything, anything at all is wrong, you come to me. I don’t care what time is it, if you have to wake me up in the dead of the night. You. Come. To. Me. Clear?”

 

“Sensei, c’mon—“ Izuku sighs. “I will be a good, obedient boy, cross my heart and hope to die if I don’t.”

 

There’s a moment of silence. Aizawa-sensei sniffs.

 

“…Ok, that was a bad choice of words. Anyway—” Izuku continues, before Aizawa-sensei can stop him. “— I know you are happy I’m here, too. I will play the nice, human radar and make sure everything is safe.”

 

“Midoriya, you’re becoming awfully cheeky.” Aizawa-sensei sighs, pushing a finger against Izuku’s forehead. “Tone it down, you are walking a fine a line, kid.”

 

Izuku snickers, unable to help himself.

 

“I’m serious, though.” Aizawa-sensei adds, his voice lowering. “I personally took responsibility of your well being to convince your mother to let you go on this trip. I do not take kindly to those who break my trust, Midoriya, so you better make sure you act responsibly, because there won’t be a second chance if you don’t.”

 

Izuku gulps, before letting out a little, decisively more serious “…Yes, sensei.”

 

“Glad we could clarify everything. Now get on the bus, you impertinent little brat.”

 

 

There’s a constant traffic of his classmates going up and down the bus to come by his seat and have a couple of minutes to properly greet him from the moment the trip starts.

 

It’s heartwarming, really, to feel just how much they care for him. They all have something nice to say, or a gentle pat on the shoulder to give, some anecdotes he absolutely has to listen to that happened while he was recovering.

 

When Yaoyorozu, that was sitting behind him, leans over a bit to give her greetings, Izuku turns to give her a giant smile.

 

“Yaoyorozu, I don’t know what the thing you sent me is, but I love it.” He says, happily. “It’s the softest thing I ever touched. Can you make me, like, one thousand more?”

 

She chuckles. “I was practicing soft materials and I thought that you might like the sensation considering your tactile sensitivity must be more developed than normal. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it.”

 

“It makes for a great stress-ball, I can hardly put it down.” Izuku laughs. “I’m pretty sure I’m destroying it bit by bit, for how much I’ve been squeezing it.”

 

“I will be happy to make you more.” She says, her fingers ghosting on his shoulder. “It’s good to have you back, Midoriya. We all have missed you a lot.”

 

He flashes her one last smile, as Aizawa-sensei turns around on his seat, to announce them they will stop in about an hour. Izuku blinks, perplexed, because something feels off about Aizawa-sensei’s light.

 

Aizawa-sensei must catch his eyes, because he comes over and leans down to him, while Iida is too busy scolding Sero in the back that was trying to stand on his seat to notice.

 

“When we arrive at the stop, you stay with me and don’t move.” Aizawa-sensei whispers. “Do not say a word about what you will see, and that is an order.”

 

Izuku silently nods.

 

 

Aizawa is happy to see that the boy is actually capable of listening when he wants to.

 

When they arrived at the stop, he had stepped down by Aizawa’s side and hadn’t moved a finger, not saying anything as Mandalay and Pixie-bob introduced themselves to the class. He watches the realization starting to dawn on his students’ faces, some of them trying to make it back to the bus, when he notices that Midoriya at his side has both hands covering his face, his shoulders shaking.

 

Aizawa is left speechless for a second, just as Pixie-bob is using her quirk to send the students down the mountain, and he almost puts a hand on Midoriya’s shoulder, trying to understand why he’s crying, before the boy makes a spluttering noise and starts laughing loudly, hands sliding down to hold his belly.

 

Aizawa is pretty sure that from the general chaos of soil, rumbling down the slope like a waterfall, someone just yelled “MIDORIYA, YOU JERK!

 

“Oh my god—“ Midoriya says, breathless, still shaken by little laughters as he dries a tear away from his eye. “Aizawa-sensei, I don’t know how you keep a poker face during your logical ruses, I thought I was about to explode—”

 

Cheeky little brat.

 

“Get back on the bus, kid.” Aizawa says, a smile pulling at his lips despite everything. “We are going to go wait for your classmates at the lodge.”

 

The trip is mostly uneventful, Mandalay discussing plans for the week with him while her nephew was sitting all the way in the back, a frown on his face as he looks out the window.

 

“Your student is pretty focused, huh?” Mandalay says, observing Midoriya. “He’s the kid of the Kiyashi-Ward incident, right?”

 

The boy was sitting across from them, still as a statue, his face facing the forest, clearly concentrating. Probably observing from afar what his classmates were doing.

 

“That’s him.” Aizawa nods. “Midoriya.”

 

The boy shakes his head like he just snapped out of a dream, turning to them with a couple of blinks.

 

“Yes?”

 

“How are they doing?”

 

Midoriya’s new signature shit eating grin makes an appearance once more. “I’m only catching glimpses, they are moving pretty erratically instead of in a straight line so they are not always in range of my radar. I think Uraraka is making Asui float up every now and then to try keep them on track, but they are constantly getting turned around. Pixie-bob’s creatures are pretty brutal, I think Kaminari is having a lot of trouble with them, since his quirk has no effect on them, same for Koda. They are mostly keeping behind the others, for the moment.”

 

Mandalay sounds excited when she speaks “You can see all that from here?” She asks, clapping her glove-pawed hands. “Boy, you would be a god-send in search and rescue missions! Why don’t you join us when you graduate?”

 

Midoriya’s grin turns a bit more shy, as he scratches the back of his head, embarrassed. The mental imagine of him dressed up as one of the Wild Wild Pussy Cats immediately rises in Aizawa’s mind, traitorous, and he shakes his head to chase it away. He had no idea if Midoriya would be more adorable of weird.

 

Probably weird.

 

“Miss Mandalay, your quirk is some sort of telepathy, if I remember right?” Midoriya asks, turning on the seat to face them.

 

“Just call me Mandalay.” She says with a smile. “And yes, I can telepathically communicate to whoever I want, although they cannot answer me back. Why you ask?”

 

“I was wondering if you could explain to me how it works? How does it feel to you? How far does it go? Do you have limitations, or can you speak to whoever you want? Do you need to have some sort of contact with them before? To how many people can you speak at once? Can you—”

 

“Whoa, hey, those are a lot of questions!” Mandalay laughs, putting her hands up. “You are very curious!”

 

Midoriya blushes, recoiling from his own over-enthusiasm. “I was just thinking that, in a sense, our quirks are similar.” He says, pointing a finger against his temple. “It’s all in here. So I was wondering if knowing more about a quirk of this kind from someone that has years of experience might help me sharpen the use of my own.”

 

“Midoriya.” Aizawa says, rising an eyebrow. “You are not supposed to do anything at all during this trip. You know that.”

 

Sensei—“ He grumbles back, pouting. “Ever since I got— You know.” He coughs, making a vague gesture with his right hand. “I’ve only been training my body. I think it’s time I focus on my quirk a bit more, I’m sure there’s much I can do with it, still.”

 

In front of Aizawa’s silence, he insists. “As I just said, it’s all in my head. I don’t even need to move, to train with it. Please, let me do this.”

 

Aizawa should’ve known that his obedience so far had been too good to be true. The little shit had a plan.

 

“You might be the most insolent student I’ve ever had the displeasure to deal with.” He sighs, massaging his forehead. He wanted to say no, but then again, Midoriya’s quirk was pretty much invisible. The kid would surely go straight ahead and do things his own way, if Aizawa didn’t reign him in properly. “Alright, fine. But I want you to be careful, stay by my side, and if you feel tired, you stop. If I realize you are going overboard I’ll ship you right back home, Midoriya, are we clear?”

 

Midoriya grins happily and nods, turning back to Mandalay. “So, if you are willing, Mandalay, could you tell me more about your quirk?”

 

She laughs, clearly having found the exchange between them rather funny. She crosses the little gap, sitting at Midoriya’s side.

 

“Alright, little kitty. Ask me what you want to know.” She says, smiling. “But one question at a time, please.”

 

 

 

After lunch, Midoriya isn’t done with Mandalay yet, apparently. She seems to have taken a liken to him, answering his infinite questions with just as infinite patience. She tells him of various missions of hers, of how she used her quirk in varied situations, how she trained and tried it in all sorts of ways. Midoriya is clearly drinking it all up, listening in rapt silence as he helps her washing the dishes.

 

Aizawa observes as Mandalay’s nephew looks at them from behind a corner, with the same frown he had been wearing from the moment he got dragged to meet the class with his aunt. Midoriya turns around to him, at some point, tilting his head on a side.

 

“You don’t have to hide, you know?” He says, kind. “If you want to come talk with us, just step forward. I don’t bite.”

 

The kid jumps, his frown deepening. “As if I’d want to speak with you.”

 

Midoriya blinks. “What do you mean?”

 

“I don’t speak to losers that go on and on about their stupid quirks and how they wanna become heroes.” The kid spat out the word like venom. “It’s all a load of stupid stuff.”

 

Midoriya blinks again, a serious expression finding way on his face, while Mandalay also turns.

 

“Don’t be rude, Kouta.” She says with a sigh. “Midoriya here has already done a lot. He saved a girl that was just your age a bit ago, you know?”

 

The kid scoffs, muttering “Whatever.” before turning and leaving, hands in his pockets.

 

“I’m sorry about that.” Mandalay says in a low voice. “He’s my nephew, Kouta. He’s not… The easier to deal with, as you can see.”

 

“… He has a lot of pain inside him.” Midoriya says, slowly, his eyes pointed in the direction Kouta left. “It’s too much, for a child so young.”

 

At Mandalay’s confused blink, Aizawa intervenes.

 

“Midoriya is an empath.” He says, curtly.

 

“Oh— I see.” She replies, a sad smile on her face. “You are right, he does carry a lot of pain. His parents were heroes. The duo Water Horse, you might’ve heard of them.”

 

“I did.” Midoriya replies, serious, nervously fidgeting with the rag he was using to dry the dishes. “A terrible story— I did not know they had a son.”

 

“Ever since then, Kouta has declared that he hates heroes and quirks.” She says, sadly, leaning against the sink while crossing her arms. “For us, their death had been honourable. But for him, it’s just a painful mystery he can’t make sense of. Parents are the world for a child, and for him that world got destroyed, all in the name of an ideal he cannot possibly understand yet.”

 

Midoriya sighs, his eyes casted down. “…Ok.” He only says, voice low, turning back to the dishes.

 

He and Mandalay finish washing in silence.

 

 

When they finally emerge from the forest in a clearing were the lodge was situated, the sun is making its way to the horizon, the sky a spectacle of red and orange hues.

 

Ochako is pretty sure she might just fall asleep right there and then. Or puke everything she had ever ate in her life, she’s not sure.

 

Aizawa-sensei is waiting for them in front of the lodge, along with two of the four member of the Pussycats they’ve already met and Midoriya, sitting on a wooden table, swinging his legs in an almost childlike manner.

 

“Gee, you didn’t even made it close to lunch…” Pixie-bob comments with a snicker, as they all pant and groan, hungry and tired.

 

“Aizawa-sensei how could youuuuu—“ Kirishima moans. “I’m so hungryyyyy—“

 

“You should’ve moved faster, then.” Aizawa-sensei replies, mercilessly. “You are lucky that dinner’s ready for today. We will discuss some of the lacks in your first day performances while you eat.”

 

There’s a long moment of silence, as they all must be trying to make sense of how could Aizawa-sensei even know how their performances in the forest went, and then nineteen pairs of eyes turn to Midoriya, still sitting on the table.

 

“Midoriya, you snitch!” Hagakure protests, her uniform movements suggesting she’s jumping up and down in rage.

 

“Who, me?” He replies, putting a hand on his chest with the most fake innocent expression on the planet. “I would never! And to even think I helped making dinner for all of you! The betrayal!”

 

Loud grumbles from their stomachs seems to be the only reply they have, as Midoriya snickers with a grin, jumping down the table.

 

 

“It’s been what, twelve hours? And I already got called a jerk and a snitch.” Midoriya says, calmly eating his dinner instead of cramming food in his mouth the way a lot of their classmates were doing. “It’s good to be back.” He adds, laughing.

 

Ochako, sitting at his side, did not think she would be able to stomach anything, but as soon as she sat down at the table, she realized just how famished she was. She laughs, too, her mouth full.

 

“I cannot believe you joined into Aizawa-sensei’s dark schemings.” Iida says, sitting in front of them, with a clearly fake serious tone. “We will never be able to trust you ever again.”

 

“Hey, he threatened me. If I need to throw you all to the sharks in order to stay the full week, you bet I will.”

 

“Truly a hero.” Todoroki, by Iida’s side, joins in with his usual deadpan sense of humor, making them laugh again.

 

Aizawa-sensei made true to his promise, tearing into them without any pity as they ate, criticising their performances in the forest, which had apparently been relayed to him in pretty accurate bits and pieces.

 

“You’ve been observing us a lot, huh?” Ochako asks once Aizawa-sensei is finally done. “Wasn’t it tiring?”

 

“I wasn’t going to just sit on my behind all day.” Midoriya replies with a shrug. “I mean, there’s only so much a person can be entertained while chopping vegetables and cooking rice. Besides, I need to train, too. It was a good way to warm my quirk up since I haven’t used it for so long.”

 

“Midoriya.” Iida says, adjusting his glasses with a frown. “You’re not supposed to train, actually. You do remember that, right?”

 

“Well, Aizawa-sensei gave his permission, sssooooo…”

 

There’s a moment of silence, the three of them looking at him with equally unimpressed expressions.

 

“I’m not lying! You can ask him!” Midoriya replies, pouting. “I’m only going to train with my quirk! I can do that while relaxing in a bed, if I want to!”

 

“—You’ve been planning this from the start.” Todoroki suddenly says, understanding dawning on his face. “Midoriya.”

 

He has the decency of looking ashamed, at least. “I cannot deny that the idea might’ve popped up at some point, lately.” He mutters.

 

They sigh —in unison, again, it was starting to happen more and more often—, Iida pinching the bridge of his nose.

 

“I don’t even know what do with you anymore—“ He really sounds like an older brother, now. “At least try to don’t overdo it— Oh, what am I saying, you must’ve overdone it already, today, if you’ve been observing us so much. There’s no way we were close enough—“

 

“Nah.” Midoriya interrupts him, serving himself some more vegetables. His tone of voice could only been defined as obnoxious. “You definitely were close enough. You guys just have a lousy sense of direction, you’ve been skirting in my range most of the afternoon and still managed to get yourself turned around I don’t even know how many times—”

 

A single chopstick comes flying from out of apparently nowhere, hitting Midoriya in the back of his head, Bakugou’s voice from the other side of the room yelling an embarrassed “SHUT UP, DEKU!

 

 

“… Yes, I did take them—Mom, I know Uraraka has already sent you a message— I still can’t believe you asked her to check my mouth—Yes, I’m ok. All I did today was peeling potatoes, seriously.”

 

Shouto rolls his eyes. Just peeling potatoes. Such a bad liar.

 

“Alright, I’ll call you tomorrow around this time as well, ok? Bye.” Finally Midoriya turns around to them with a little sigh, pocketing his phone. “She’s such a worrywart.”  

 

“I would be, too, if I had you as a son.” Shouto deadpans, making Iida snicker. “Were are your towels? We are going to the baths.”

 

He and Iida are both ready, having changed in more comfortable clothes, towels under their arms, only lagging behind in the boys’ shared room because Midoriya was on the phone. Midoriya on the other hand looks anything but, still wearing the school uniform.

 

“Oh—“ Midoriya says, blinking. He looks a bit lost, his face slightly pale, as usual, dark smudges under his eyes. Shouto doesn’t even remember anymore how he used to look like, before the Kiyashi Ward incident. “Oh, sorry I didn’t tell you— Go ahead, I’m not coming.”

 

“Why?” Iida asks, perplexed. Midoriya shrugs.

 

“Super hot water on this?” He says, pointing at his back with a thumb. “Not a good idea. I’ll go take a shower and meet you guys back here later, don’t worry about me, go enjoy the baths.”

 

“Well, you don’t have to necessarily get completely into the water, you could just sit on the edge of the pond—“ Iida tries to insist, but Midoriya gives them a little smile.

 

“Seriously, just go! It’s not that big of a deal!” He says, waving at them. When they hesitate he rolls his pale eyes, literally pushing them out of the room. “C’mon, you’re wasting time, I can’t even imagine which kind of shenanigans are going on while the class president is not there.”

 

He literally closes the door on them.

 

Shouto looks up to Iida, which expression totally matches his. They silently start to make their way for the baths.

 

“You are worried about him.” Iida says after a bit, not quite a question.

 

“Are you not?” Shouto replies. “I mean— It’s clear why he doesn’t want to come to the baths. And he’s obviously tired.”

 

“We shouldn’t have convinced Aizawa-sensei of letting him come.” Iida says, sounding regretful as he pinches the bridge of his nose. “It was too early.” A moment of hesitation. “But then again, I’d possibly be even more worried if he stayed behind. I cannot imagine the antics he’d come up with, alone in that hospital.”

 

Shouto can only agree with the sentiment as they both sigh, exasperated.

 

 

When they came back, Midoriya was already asleep in his futon lying on a side, hair still wet from the shower.

 

He looks more than tired, he looks spent. Shouto sighs kneeling by his side, adjusting the cover on him properly since it was sitting mostly at his feet, as if Midoriya had only lied down while waiting for the rest of the class to come back and had accidentally fallen asleep.

 

He did not even wake up at the incredible amount of noise Kirishima, Kaminari and Sero were making (not to mention how accidentally noisier Iida was being while trying to calm them down). Not even stirring a bit.

 

Shouto huffs, sitting on his own futon to the right of Midoriya’s, collecting his knees against his chest. Iida was right, it had been too early. Midoriya had pretty much been spending most of his time in a bed until just a few days prior, only recently starting with some physiotherapy. Of course he still needed to recover.

 

But Iida was also right at how possibly even more worrying the prospect of leaving him behind had been when they accepted to speak with Aizawa-sensei on his behalf.

 

Why do you have to be so incredibly stubborn? Shouto thinks, pulling at small tuft of dark green, curly hair.

 

“Out like a light, eh?” Ojiro comments, passing by, a small worried smile on his lips when Shouto looks up. “Must’ve been quite a day for him.”

 

“Mmmh—“ Shouto replies, non-committal. “I’m surprised he didn’t try to jump after us when Pixie-bob sent us down in the forest. Probably because Aizawa-sensei would’ve skinned him alive.”

 

Ojiro let out a little laugh. “Kind of a shame he didn’t, though, he could’ve led us directly to the lodge—”

 

The door opens with a loud bang, Aizawa-sensei entering with an irritated expression.

 

“If you have so much energy it’s clear that you haven’t worked hard enough, today.” He says, voice promising pain. “Stop being so noisy and go to bed, because hell awaits you, tomorrow.”

 

As everyone starts to shuffle back to their respective futons, muttering, Aizawa-sensei turns to Shouto, points at him, then points at his own eyes with two fingers, and finally points down at Midoriya.

 

The message is clear: keep your eyes on him.

 

Shouto really does not need to get told that. He already was.

 

Maybe even too much.

 

 

Izuku was a man on a mission.

 

He had woken up sore all over, his back protesting painfully, and feeling like he hadn’t slept at all the past night, despite the fact he apparently went out the moment his head touched the pillow. But he could not dwell in his own weakness, now, there was too much he needed to do.

 

Talking with Mandalay the day prior had given him so many ideas to try. The ways she applied her own quirk sounded so ingenious to him, it made him feel stupid for not thinking more in depth about his own ability.

 

But from today on, he was going to test all he could.

 

There was only one problem. Aizawa-sensei wanted him to be in his vicinity at all times, not trusting Izuku to don’t overstep his limits.

 

When Izuku protested about the fact that literally every each one of his classmates were training to do exactly that, Aizawa-sensei poked his forehead with a finger.

 

“What did I tell you about being cheeky?” He said. “Your classmates are not recovering from an almost deadly injury. Don’t push your luck, Midoriya.”

 

(And wasn’t he tired to hear that. Yes, he almost died, he knew. The chronic pain in his back was doing a perfectly fine job of reminding him that, thank you very much.)

 

So, Izuku was stuck there, sitting a bit behind Aizawa-sensei that was keeping an eye on his classmates giving it all to strengthen their quirks.

 

The moment even a single drop of blood made it out of his nose, it would be game over, and he knew it. He had to go at it slow and steady.

 

Izuku closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and plunged in his own head.

 

He had a lot of work to do.

 

 

When Shouto opened his eyes and the futon at his left was empty, a moment of panic overcame him.

 

He forced himself to calm down and be reasonable. Maybe Midoriya only got up to go to the bathroom or go drink a bit of water.

 

Silent, Shouto sat. Everyone was deeply asleep, a concert of differently timed snores and breathings all around him. He waited for a bit, what he felt would be a reasonable time for someone to be able to go do his business and then come back.

 

But Midoriya wasn’t coming back.

 

With a sigh, he climbed up on his feet, silently stepping out in the corridor. All the lights were off. —Yes, of course they are, he doesn’t need them, you idiot.

 

He took a left, directed to the bathrooms, and when he walked by the big glass entrance doors, he saw someone standing outside, their back to the door, bathing in the silver light of the moon.

 

The mop of curly hair was unmistakable.

 

Midoriya was leaning against a tree, shoulders slumped. He did not move when Shouto got out after putting on a pair of slippers, approaching him with the soft crunch of humid grass under his feet. When he got close enough he could see how red Midoriya’s cheeks were, his face covered in sweat, his breathing a little heavy.

 

He did not move even when Shouto put a hand on his forehead. He was burning.

 

“—just needed some fresh air” Midoriya tried to say, weakly.

 

“You are a terrible liar.” Shouto replies, voice low. “And your fake cheery tone does not convince anyone.”

 

Midoriya doesn’t seem to have anything to say to that. He refused to go to the baths with them during that evening, too.

 

“Let me see.” Shouto says, knowing he doesn’t need to add anything more for Midoriya to understand.

 

There’s a long beat of silence, Midoriya heavy lidded eyes pointed forward. “I got told ’s pretty bad—” He finally slurs, voice low and tired.

 

“Do you think I would care?” Shouto replies. “Hello? half-face here, remember?”

 

That gets a little, rough chuckle out of Midoriya.

 

“Let me see.” Shouto insists. “Unless you want me to go call Aizawa-sensei.”

 

“That’s a low blow, Todoroki.” Midoriya replies, a sad, strained smile on his lips.

 

“You’ll live. Let me see.”

 

The silence stretches some more, the only sounds around them the rustling of leaves in the gentle night breeze.

 

“Midoriya.” Shouto says, voice a little stronger.

 

Midoriya releases a deep sigh. Slowly he stands more upright, grabbing at the cotton of his shirt from the bottom, taking it off in a single motion.

 

Shouto has to bite down on his tongue in order not to hiss.

 

Midoriya’s back is pretty much completely covered by a web of scarred tissue, bumpy and irregular, angry red lines zig-zagging, crossing each other, like a twisted imitation of a thunderstorm.

 

It looks raw and irritated. It’s probably burning up as much as Midoriya’s forehead is.

 

Shouto sighs. “Come here.” He says.

 

Midoriya turns to him, his eyes are slightly wet. “Huh?”

 

“Here—“ Shouto guides him, gently. He closes the distance between them, leaning a bit over Midoriya and softly putting his entire right forearm vertically against his back, his hand just below the start of Midoriya’s neck.

 

Midoriya stiffens and hisses at first, but then relaxes with a trembly sigh, resting his forehead against Shouto’s shoulder.

 

Under his colder right arm, Midoriya’s back feels like an oven.

 

“Better?” He asks, voice low, when Midoriya doesn’t say anything, simply standing there in that awkward half hug with his hands slack at his sides, breathing against Shouto’s chest.

 

“Very.” He finally murmurs. “I forgot how convenient your right side is—  Actually, your left side ’s pretty convenient, too— Nice job with dinner, earlier—”

 

“Don’t lie to me.” Shouto replies, a smile in his voice. “I know you only keep me around to work as your personal ice pack.”

 

That wins him another little laugh.

 

“Is this a thing that happens often?” Shouto asks, gentle. “The fever, I mean.”

 

“ —‘sn’t happened in a while.” Midoriya replies. He sounds tired, his speech a little slurred.“—‘m not used to sleep in a futon— think my back don’t care much for it, either—“

 

Shouto sighs. “You should’ve said that sooner.”

 

“—gotta swallow some pain.” Midoriya replies. “If I keep letting myself get stopped at every little bump— ain’t gonna get anywhere—“

 

Shouto wanted to grab his shoulders and shake him, in hope some common sense would finally enter that stubborn head. He refrained.

 

“I doubt this counts as a little bump, Midoriya, you—“

 

“—Almost died. I know.” He interrupts, irritated. “—y’all keep telling me that— As if I don’t know—“

 

The silence feels more tense, now. Still, Shouto doesn’t take his nice, chilly arm away. The idea felt cruel.

 

“We only say that because we care.” Shouto murmurs. When the silence continues, he adds. “Remember what I told you in the hospital, after we fought Stain?”

 

“…Try not to die.” Midoriya replies, shifting a bit against him. “—haven’t done a good job of that, haven’t I.”

 

“I guess not. So I’m going to repeat it, now. Midoriya: please try not to die. I still will not be happy if you do.”

 

“—‘ll try.” A beat of silence. “Don’t wanna make you sad— I like being around you— makes me feel good—”

 

And Shouto, that so far had managed to keep things friendly and clinical in his mind considering the situation, feels his heart skip a beat.

 

Midoriya shifts again, turning his face to the left a bit. His forehead pushes against Shouto’s neck. It still feels hot even though it’s pressing against Shouto’s left side. That’s enough to bring him back on earth.

 

“You’re burning up—“ Shouto sighs. “Midoriya. We really should go to Aizawa-sensei.”

 

Noooo—“ Midoriya whines weakly. “It’ll go away by morning— It always does—“

 

“What if it doesn’t?”

 

“It will.” Midoriya insists, petulant. “—‘f we go to sensei now— ’s gonna send me back.”

 

Shouto sighs yet again. Midoriya’s back feels a little less hot under his arm, but not by much. He’s right when he says that Aizawa-sensei would probably send him back right away, if he sees how feverish Midoriya is, now.

 

“Ok, let’s bargain.” Shouto finally says, hit by an idea. “I won’t go tell sensei if now we go back to bed, and you do what I tell you to. Deal?”

 

“—y’all only want to boss me around.” A sigh, hot breath against Shouto’s collarbone. “ —aight, deal.”

 

“Ok.” Shouto says, slowly retreating his arm. When they stand in front of each other, Midoriya still looks feverish, and just about ready to fall asleep on his feet. Shouto helps him put his shirt back on, before taking his wrist and guiding him back into the lodge, to the boys’ room.

 

Once inside, he gently guides Midoriya back on his futon, belly down, and then drags his own closer to Midoriya’s, in a sort of king-sized single futon. He lies down himself, in the same position as Midoriya, and then put his right arm on the other’s back again.

 

Midoriya’s eyes flutter close with a soft sigh, as he relaxes under Shouto’s cold arm.

 

“Now, sleep.” Shouto whispers.

 

 

Chapter Text

“Uraraka, I’m screwed.”

 

Ochako had been moving around, not really paying much attention to where she was going while she juggled as many objects as possible with her quirk, forcing herself to ignore the nausea that had taken permanent location in her stomach. After what Aizawa-sensei told her and and Aoyama, about how the two of them had managed to pass the physical test just barely, she knew she had to absolutely push over her limits.

 

She distractedly walked around her classmates, in a attempt to keep the objects she was making float stable over her head, and hadn’t realized she had come by Todoroki until he said that.

 

She turned, looking at her friend. Todoroki was immersed in a barrel full of boiling water that himself was feeding into with his left side, while simultaneously creating ice with his right. He was completely drenched in sweat, his face suggesting he might just pass out at any second.

 

“What?” She asks, quickly, because she doesn’t trust herself to open her mouth too much without risking her breakfast to come out of it.

 

“Last night—“ Todoroki pants. “Me and Midoriya had— A moment— I guess.”

 

Ochako blinks.

 

“We woke up— hugging.” Todoroki continues between a breath and the other. “Uraraka— My crush— is not just a crush anymore— I’m fucked.”

 

Ochako blinks again. Then she starts laughing, her stomach giving a nauseous churn in protest.

 

“It’s— not funny—“ Todoroki tries to protest, scandalized. “It’s a disaster—“

 

Ochako, still snickering, stumbling a bit on her feet to keep the objects stable, turns toward Aizawa-sensei. Midoriya is sitting behind him as he had done the day prior, legs crossed, hands in his lap, eyes closed and a look of intense focus on his face. He doesn’t seem to be flustered, at all, unlike Todoroki.

 

“Woke up hugging, you say?” She dares to ask, quickly, her eyebrows doing a little suggestive dance. “How did he react?”

 

“Said— Good morning— And smiled like nothing was wrong—“ Todoroki’s left hand rises a bit to dry away the sweat on his forehead, only managing to add more.

 

“Todoroki, that’s almost first base, good job.” She snickers, ignoring his death-glare. “But seriously, shouldn’t you be happy?”

 

Todoroki grumbles something undefinable, making her laugh again, which is the last nail on the coffin for her stomach.

 

Apparently I’m destined to puke on all my friends at least once, Ochako thinks distantly, as Todoroki makes a strangled noise and uselessly tries to dodge her breakfast coming back up to say hi.

 

 

Midoriya seems the have had the same thought, as he laughs mercilessly during lunch.

 

“You’ve received the Official Uraraka Ochako Baptism.” He says once he’s done, putting a solemn hand on Todoroki’s shoulder. “Congratulations. Next up should be Iida, expect vomit to come for you soon in the future, my friend.”

 

“I’d rather not.” Iida replies with a dignified sniff. Todoroki, clean clothes back on him, is picking at his food with a rather unconvinced expression on his face. Probably didn’t felt very hungry after their little morning incident.

 

“Must you rub salt in the wound?” Ochako replies, embarrassed, stabbing at her food. “It’s bad enough that I’m making poor Todoroki wanting to skip his lunch without you pointing the spotlight on it.”

 

At that Todoroki clearly forces himself to gulp down a couple of bites despite looking a bit green. Such a sweetheart.

 

“I’m sorry, it’s just too funny—“ Midoriya replies with a snicker, wolfing down his own lunch with no issues.

 

“Next time it happens I’ll come for you, since you are spending your time sitting in the same spot completely unguarded.” Ochako grunts, pointing her chopsticks at him.

 

“You wouldn’t.”

 

“Would do. Maybe it’ll teach you a lesson or two.”

 

Midoriya pouts, grumbling “I’m not completely unguarded, anyway.”

 

“Speaking of which…” Iida intervenes, kindly steering the discussion away from the topic of bodily fluids while they eat. “What it is that you are doing, exactly, Midoriya? You always looks so focused.”

 

Midoriya gives them an almost wolfish smile. “Experimenting.” He says. “The first day I had the chance to speak a lot with Mandalay, which gave me some ideas on how to apply my own quirk. I’m happy to report that some of these ideas seems to be working.”

 

“Oh, considering her type of quirk I can see why you would draw inspiration from that.” Iida hums, thoughtful. “I’m happy you are being successful in your efforts, then. What have you accomplished?”

 

“Nuh-Huh.” Midoriya replies, turning his nose up. “It’s a surprise.”

 

He seems to be done with his lunch, but he has taken a fresh plate, piling a bit of everything on it.

 

“You’re going to that kid again?” Ochako asks, a small smile on her lips.

 

“Kouta, yes.” Midoriya replies. “He’s gotta eat too, right?”

 

“Where is that he disappears to all the time, anyway?”

 

Midoriya shrugs. “He called it his secret base. It’s not too far from here.” He sniffs, sliding off his chair with the plate of food in hand. “He keeps trying to tell me to leave him alone, but I can feel that a part of him is happy that I keep visiting him.”

 

He waves them bye, walking away toward the forest.

 

“He’s so kind, worrying for that child.” Iida comments with a little smile.

 

“A heart of gold, that one.” Todoroki mutters as he moves his food around in the plate. “Butting his nose in other people’s business all the time.”

 

There’s a mix of indiscernible feelings in his voice. Ochako decides not to ask.

 

 

“A test of courage!” Pixie-bob explains, excited. “Class B is already in position, waiting to scare you! All you have to do is reach the end of the route and pick up the tags with your names! You’ll be going in pairs!”

 

Izuku blinks in the moment of silence that follow that sentence. He has the distinct impression all his classmates -minus the remedial gang, that got whisked away by Aizawa-sensei for a lesson despite their protests, and Kacchan- are pointedly looking at him.

 

“I think it’s better if I sit this one out, since we are an uneven number.” Izuku says with a little grin. “And since my quirk makes me capable of seeing exactly where everyone is. I don’t want to ruin class B’s fun.”

 

That’s followed by a small chorus of disappointed “Aaaaw-” and “Damnit, I wanted to pair with Midoriya.

 

“That sounds fair.” Pixie-bob replies, a grin in her voice. “Alright then, the rest of you come here, we are going to draw the pairs!”

 

Izuku decides to sit down on a table, crossing his legs. For him it will be more fun observing his classmates from afar, anyway.

 

“Oy, tail boy, switch with me.” He can hear Kacchan say after the pairs had been selected. He ignores Ojiro’s protests, adding. “I don’t wanna go around with Deku’s boyfriend.”

 

Izuku splutters a little laugh, surprised, missing the split second of shock and embarrassment that shook Todoroki’s light, wondering from where did that even came from. Kacchan had the weirdest ideas, sometimes.

 

In the end, he and Todoroki —both their lights giving away a feeling of mutual distaste— are forced to go three minutes after Shoji and Tokoyami had already entered the forest, despite Kacchan’s grumbles. Only a minute after they got out of his range, something new suddenly popped into Izuku’s radar, making his heart rise up to this throat as a startled gasp itches in his mouth.

 

“MANDALAY!” Izuku immediately yells, jumping down the table, feeling the tension in the woman’s light and surprise ripple through the classmates that were still there as soon as he opened his mouth. “WARN EVERYONE! WE’VE GOT ENEMIES INCOMING!”

 

 

Aizawa had barely started the remedial lesson after finally managing to calm down his hyperactive students, when Mandalay’s telepathic voice came in loud and clear.

 

Everyone! Immediately fall back to the lodge! We’ve got enemies incoming!” She says, urgent. “I repeat, this is not a drill! We’ve got enemies incoming, fall back to the lodge right away! NOW!

 

A surprised gasp ripples through all of them, freezing his students in their seat. Aizawa swears under his breath, turning toward his colleague.

 

“Sekijiro! Stay here with the students!” He exclaims, running out the lodge. In the little clearing, Midoriya is standing with Mandalay’s hands on his shoulders. Most of his students are luckily still there, circling loosely around the two with worried expressions.

 

“Midoriya!” The boy has his eyes closed, hands cupping over his ears as he focus. “How many?!”

 

The boy’s lips move silently as he counts. “I can feel six, for now—” He says, opening his eyes. “I don’t recognize any of them, but they don’t have good intentions, I can feel it.”

 

“The others?”

 

“Hurrying back as we speak—“ He closes his eyes again, gritting his teeth in a little frown, a single drop of blood running down from his nostril. “They are grouping up, Kacchan and Todoroki are pretty far, almost out of my range—  along with most of class B— I can’t feel Tokoyami and Shoji— Ragdoll, she’s— Something’s wrong, she’s agitated—“

 

Aizawa swears again under his breath, turning to Mandalay. “Tell them to hurry, and don’t stop for any reason.”

 

Mandalay nods, a serious expression on her face as she relays the message.

 

Suddenly Midoriya releases a strangled noise, eyes opening wide in fear.

 

“Kouta—“ He says, breathless. “He’s at his secret place— Something is coming right in his direction!”

 

Mandalay turns to him, eyes wide with panic. Midoriya turns to Aizawa.

 

“No.” Aizawa immediately say.

 

Sensei—!” Midoriya replies, eyes glinting. “He’s just a kid!”

 

So are you. “Pros are here, someone else will go pick him up—“

 

“We don’t know where his secret place is—“ Mandalay murmurs, her voice broken, a hand on her mouth. “We— We wanted to give him space—“

 

Another swear find its way out of Aizawa’s mouth. “Midoriya, can you explain to Mandalay where Kouta is?”

 

“I— I—I could give a general direction but the terrain is—“ The boy stammers, his eyes squeezing shut in an angry expression as he punches his thigh furiosly. “He’s moving, but— I don’t know how to explain! Damn it!

 

Mandalay still has her hands on her mouth, eyebrows twisted in clear worry.

 

“Sensei—“ Midoriya turns back to him, desperate determination written all over his features. “Whoever it is, it’s rapidly closing in on Kouta. Please, I’ll go as fast as I can, take him and bring him here right away, I can do it, you know that I can—“

 

Aizawa hesitates. Midoriya is under his protection, Midoriya it’s still recovering, Midoriya—

 

“Sensei, please!” He yells.

 

“GODDAMNIT!” Aizawa roars, gritting his teeth. “GO! AND GET RIGHT BACK! GO AS FAST YOU CAN, MIDORIYA!”

 

The boy is off, a green lighting bolt, before Aizawa even has the time to finish his sentence.

 

 

When Izuku meets Kouta, his light is plunged in a mix of confusion and fear. His small voice hitches in his throat when Izuku lands in front of him after a jump, dust rising from under his feet as he drifts against the hard soil, the power one One For All running through his veins at the rhythm of his madly beating heart.

 

“Kouta!” Izuku exclaims, closing his arms around the little boy. “Hang tight on my neck, ok? I’m bringing you back to safety—“

 

Trembling, Kouta nods, his arms circling Izuku’s neck. He lifts the boy in his arms, turning, ready to spring right back to camp—

 

“Where are you two going?” A new voice asks, deep and malevolent, sending a chill running down Izuku’s spine.

 

Izuku doesn’t stop to answer, his legs releasing a shock-wave when he makes a sprint with One For All, arms tight around the small boy hanging to him for dear life. But whoever it was that had closed in on Kouta’s position so fast doesn’t seems to be deterred, sprinting after them with an uncanny speed.

 

Izuku’s breath stops in his throat for a moment, when the corrupted light closes in on them.

 

“Not so fast, kid.” The voice says, close, too close, something connecting with Izuku’s back.

 

His world goes dark with pain.

 

 

When he comes back to, he’s shivering so hard his teeth are chattering and there’s a unpleasant taste in his mouth, as if he just threw up.

 

The lights in his head are unfocused and confusing, the scope of his radar is so small, barely including the three of them, as if his own brain is trying to protect Izuku from reality by refusing to take in more of it. The pure pain from his back is keeping him frozen on the ground on a side, cold sweat collecting on his body.

 

He has no idea for how long he blacked out. But it can’t be too long, he can hear Kouta hiccup in fear.

 

“You…” He sobs, weak. “You killed mom and dad—“

 

Izuku snaps back to focus, he forces himself to, despite his radar being so small around him. The now not-unknown threat -He killed the Water Horse duo, Muscular is his name— Can create muscular fibres on his body at will— laughs in an unpleasant way.

 

“What a surprise.” He says, sounding almost amused. “You are the Water Horse’s kid. This is destiny.”

 

Izuku is trying to stand on his unsure limbs, and failing. The pain from his back is unbearable, every movement a torture— He can feel Kouta trying to attack -water, like his parents- and fail with a sob.

 

“Don’t worry, little one, you’ll see them soon enough.”

 

Something snaps in Izuku’s chest. Fury encompasses him, finally relegating the painful protests of his back in a corner of his mind. He charges.

 

His hand gets trapped in something - he can grow muscle fibres, that’s what he must’ve done- that wraps around his wrist, when the man dodges his right hook at the very last second, and Izuku is basically hanging on his shoulder from an arm as Muscular makes a surprised noise.

 

“You’re still alive.” He notices. “Considering the number Shigaraki did on you, I thought a punch in the back would be enough to take you out. You are far sturdier than you look, kid.”

 

Kouta it’s still sobbing, frozen on the spot.

 

Shut the fuck up—“ Izuku hisses, voice coming like gravel from his burning throat. “Kouta, run! Go back to your aunt!”

 

“There’s nowhere he can run—“ Muscular tries to say, sarcastic, and Izuku uselessly punches his chest with his free hand.

 

“SHUT THE FUCK UP!” He repeats, furiously baring his teeth, before turning his face toward Kouta as much as he can. “Kouta, run! I promise you he will not touch you! I will protect you!”

 

Breath stops in Kouta’s chest with a strangled sob, surprise rippling through his small light.

 

“I promise, Kouta!” Izuku roars. “I will protect you! I promise! RUN!”

 

Finally, the boy turns and runs into the forest, toward the lodge. Muscular chuckles, as if he finds it all funny.

 

It all happens in a second.

 

Izuku steels himself, still hanging off of Muscular, his free hand steadying him against the man’s chest. Time seems to stop as his quirk focuses until it’s just him and this monster, a tiny point into infinity. Izuku feels the connection he practiced in the past two days snap into place, and just as Muscular’s incredibly strong fist smashes on Izuku’s back once more, the connection activates.

 

The overbearing, all-encompassing pain Izuku feels at the hit gets channeled right back to who caused it, as Izuku’s mind blacks out.

 

 

Most of the students made it back safe and sound, scared expressions on their faces. They are all grouped together, three of the Pussycats surrounding them protectively, hoping the rest will get back soon, ready to evacuate at any second.

 

Someone it’s still missing, as Aizawa and Sekijiro count them up rapidly. A part of class B, that was unlucky enough to be too deep into the forest. Ragdoll. And from his own class, Shoji, Tokoyami, Todoroki and Bakugou hadn’t made it back yet.

 

Midoriya it’s still missing, too. It’s only been a few minutes, but the seconds tick by, every each one feeling like an hour. Aizawa needs that boy to be back, asap, both to make sure he’s ok, and because apparently they can’t do their own damn job anymore without his incredibly useful radar. Aizawa has to physically fight the need to run into the forest himself, to search for the rest of the students. It would be stupid to do so, when he has no idea where any of them are currently located, but the need still burns in his soul like a hot rod.

 

Suddenly there’s a rustling of leaves as Mandalay’s nephew runs into the clearing, dirt stains on him, breathing heavily, tears streaming down his face.

 

Alone.

 

“KOUTA!” Mandalay hiccups, leaning down to hug him when he runs into her arms. “You’re ok— Thank God—“

 

“Aunt—“ He sniffles. “The m-man who killed mom and d-dad— Was there—“

 

Muscular…?” She whispers, her eyes widening in shock.

 

“That boy—“ Kouta sobs, more tears falling down his little cheeks. “Midoriya— He stayed behind— He told me he would p-protect me—“

 

Aizawa closes his eyes, his chest giving a painful churn.

 

Stupid, stupid Midoriya—

 

 

When Shouto and Bakugou accidentally met with Tokoyami and Shoji, it had been clear that something was wrong with Tokoyami.

 

“We have to hurry—“ Shoji said from one of his arms, the others keeping Tokoyami in a tight grasp. “He’s losing control—“

 

“It’s what we’ve been trying to do all along, dumbass.” Bakugou replies through gritted teeth. “This damn gas is closing in, we don’t have time to stroll at a relaxed pace, bird-face.”

 

“S-shut-up—” Tokoyami replies, clutching at his head.

 

“We mustn’t be far from camp—“ Shouto interjects, trying to calm the increasingly boiling nerves. He steps closer to his two classmates. “Tokoyami, stay close, I can use my fire to stop Dark Shadow, if necessary.”

 

Tokoyami nods, tense, as they resume their run back to the lodge.

 

The gas, ominous like a snake sliding down through the grass, seemed to be following them, forcing them to take a far longer path back to camp than Shouto had hoped. He had no idea what was going on, or how everyone else was doing, their only point of contact Mandalay’s occasional message. She even told them they had permission to fight if necessary, on Aizawa-sensei’s behalf.

 

He really wished he could borrow Midoriya’s quirk for a minute, right now.

 

Suddenly, a series of something looking like impossibly long blades cuts through their path right in the middle, scattering them in different directions as they dodge the sharp metal, and three things seem to happen in rapid succession.

 

Shouto is forced to roll away to avoid getting cut in half, separated from Tokoyami, and Dark Shadow finally overcomes him, coming out with a shriek, a giant beast of rage.  Whoever had attacked them -a monstrous person, completely clad in some sort of straight-jacket, only his mouth free as blades come out of it- immediately suffers the consequences, as Dark Shadow makes a beeline for him with a furious roar.

 

Shouto hears a gasp from behind him, and then a sort of popping noise. When he turns, Bakugou is gone.

 

 

Midoriya finally came back.

 

He stumbles into the clearing on unsure legs, right on the furthest edge from them. His hands are completely covered in blood that rises up to his elbows, stains on his clothes as well, but his arms don’t appear to be broken. There’s blood on his face and neck, too, abundantly rolling down from his nose, dripping in fat drops from his chin. He’s sweating, panting, his eyes completely unfocused.

 

Aizawa manages to run up to him and catch him a second before he goes down, guiding him to kneel on the ground.

 

“Midoriya, what the hell—“ He hisses. The boy is shivering. He turns his face vaguely up to Aizawa, looking confused.

 

“— Sensei.” He mumbles, slurred. Then he tries to stand, turning to the left like he wants to enter back into the forest.

 

“Where do you think you are going?” Aizawa asks, keeping him in a tight grip.

 

“—’s in trouble.” Midoriya mutters. “Tokoyami— Lost control—“ He must be observing the few that are still missing, Aizawa realizes. “Ragdoll— unconscious—Ibara too— Tetsutetsu ’s holding her—“

 

Sekijiro, Tora and Pixie-bob had come closer to also listen as Mandalay kept the kids grouped near the bus, ready to leave the instant everyone was back.

 

“ Something— Wrong with Kacchan—“ Midoriya keeps mumbling, as if he’s in a trance. “ —Feels weird— Shoji’s hurt— Todoroki— Confused— Enemies— Around them— Four— Five—“

 

“Kid, where are they?” Pixie-bob asks, kneeling by Midoriya’s side as Aizawa keeps him upright, nothing of her jovial attitude in her voice.

 

Midoriya blinks, his eyes distant, swaying a bit before he raises his arm to point to the forest.

 

“Tora, with me!” Pixie-bob orders, the towering man rapidly following her in the direction Midoriya pointed to. The boy tries to stand, as if he wants to follow.

 

“Kid.” Aizawa murmurs, keeping him steady. “You’ve done enough. That is enough. You can stop, ok? You can stop, now.”

 

Midoriya turns back to him, blinking, as if words cannot quite reach him.

 

“Sensei—” He says, voice hazy. “Behind you.

 

 

Izuku’s not sure what is going on, it’s like his body and mind are completely disconnected. A garbled mess, short instants of lucidity coming back to him before being swept away by this fuzzy, white noise filling his head.

 

He knows the pain. That one is clear. It hasn’t stopped, not even for a second. His back feels like it’s about to crumble down again, the way it did when Shigaraki sunk his hand into Izuku’s flesh.

 

He’s far away, his mind not his anymore. He feels garbled, he feels slow, like he’s trying to move through molasses. There are voices around him, but words don’t seem to make real sense most of the time. He feels like he’s trying to find his way through a labyrinth that keeps shifting and turning under his feet.

 

There are hands on him, keeping him up, dragging him around. Hands on his face, voice calling to him, but he cannot answer.

 

He feels them, the lights, some familiar, others not. Frantic, angry, scared, determined.

 

Fighting.

 

He should be helping. He should be fighting, too. But the hands don’t let him go. They drag him away, stopping him from moving. And then he’s lying down, he thinks, he’s not sure, someone is holding his head up, something in his face, voices calling.

 

They are here, almost all— and class B, too—  Sensei— He’s hurt.

 

The Pussycats— Ragdoll and Pixie-bob aren’t here. Todoroki and Uraraka are near, worried, comforting—

 

Kacchan isn’t here.

 

“Where’s Kacchan?” Izuku murmurs, because they are all here, his classmates, but Kacchan isn’t, and that is wrong.

 

“Where’s Kacchan?” He asks again, because no one is answering.

 

Where’s Kacchan?

 

 

Aizawa’s left arm hurts like a bitch. That bastard -Dabi, that was his name, he said- surely made a number on him when Aizawa was forced to protect Midoriya from the flames with his own body, before Pixie-bob and Tora came back with the missing kids in tow. They were finally able to leave, Dabi disappearing in a now way too familiar black mist with a smug smile on his face. Aizawa let Sekijiro medicate him with what they had on hands on the bus, after he’s finally done with the all of the students that are sitting, silent, holding to one another in the deep of the night, the only noise the rumble of the engine as they drive away from danger.

 

Aizawa looks down at Midoriya. The boy is completely out of it.

 

Todoroki, bruised and scrapped after the fight he’d been through, is keeping him steady on the bus floor. Not enough space for all of them, pressed together as much as they could. He’s holding Midoriya, keeping his back against his right side, a small sheen of ice covering him. Uraraka, pale, eyes glinting with unshed tears is kneeling by them in the cramped space, keeping Midoriya’s own shirt pressed under his nose, trying to stop the blood that still comes out of it, slowly.

 

The boy doesn’t seems to understand what is going on. His eyes are far, head lolling back against Todoroki’s shoulder. He’s clearly feverish.

 

“Where’s Kacchan…?” He murmurs yet again, Uraraka biting down her lower lip without an answer.

 

Sekijiro gives Aizawa a silent pat, a contrite expression on his usually already contrite face. Aizawa tests his arm a bit, and it still hurts, of course, but not much he can do, for now.

 

He uncomfortably kneels down in what little space there is. “Todoroki, let me see.”

 

The boy seems to hesitate, at first, his eyes avoiding Aizawa. With a sigh he gently jostles Midoriya forward, Uraraka helping by taking his shoulders to steady him. She chokes on a trembly sob when she sees Midoriya’s back.

 

It’s not a nice spectacle to look at. The scarred tissue on the boy’s back is a canvas of horror. It’s clearly irritated, an angry red, and when Aizawa barely grazes it, feeling just how utterly scorching the boy’s skin is, Midoriya tenses with a pained sob.

 

“…Keep cooling him down.” Aizawa says, watching Todoroki give a minute nod as he gently takes Midoriya’s weight and lean him back on against his cold, right side. Midoriya relaxes, even if just barely.

 

“Uraraka, you don’t happen to have his painkillers with you.” Aizawa says turning to the girl, not quite a question.

 

She’s drying away the tears from her eyes, shaking her head. “They are in his bag, back at the lodge.” She says, voice low and angry. Frustrated.

 

Of course they are. If Aizawa learnt something in these past few months is that if something can go wrong, then it will.

 

Iida is approaching them. “Sir, everyone seems to be fine.” He reports, dutifully, serious. “Shoji’s wound is not life-threatening, and Tokoyami is back under full control.”

 

“Thank you, Iida.” Aizawa replies, carding a hand through his hair tiredly. “Please, make sure everyone is ok until we reach the hospital.”

 

“Of course, sir.” Iida seems to hesitate  for a moment, looking down at his three friends. Uraraka meets his eyes, giving him a small, determined nod.

 

We are taking care of him. Her eyes seems to say. So, don’t worry, check on the others.

 

I guess you can’t sway a member of the Protection Squad off duty so easily, even if he’s also class president. Aizawa thinks to himself with the tiniest, most dry hint of humor trying to find a way out his weary soul.

 

Aizawa steps carefully over his students to go to the front of the bus. Tora is driving, silent, Mandalay holding a sleeping Kouta between her arms sitting near him.

 

“Anything from Pixie-bob?” He whispers.

 

“She’s still searching.” Mandalay reports, her eyes casted low. “The police reached the lodge and men are joining in the search. They’ve found and arrested some of the unconscious villains, too.”

 

“…They’ll find her, I’m sure.” Aizawa tries to comfort. “Ragdoll is strong.”

 

Mandalay nods, but doubt is weighing all over her, clear in her eyes. Aizawa squeezes her shoulder gently one last time, before sitting down on the floor himself, letting his head rest uncomfortably against the plastic between a seat and the other.

 

They should have been secure. They should have. But they weren’t.

 

Students risked their lives. Some of them had to fight. More fear had been instilled in their hearts. Aizawa had broken two promises that night.

 

The first, to Midoriya’s mother. That empty hope that he could possibly be able to stop the boy from hurting himself once more.

 

The second, the one he silently makes to the parents of all these children. The unspoken promise that they will be safe in Aizawa’s care.

 

Bakugou was missing.

 

Aizawa had failed.

Chapter Text

 

 

The sky was rumbling, rain insistently hitting against the windows, deafening. A summer storm.

 

Appropriate, considering the situation.

 

The door opened with a soft click. Toshinori entered, his face a mask of cold rage, a small, old man in tow.

 

Gran Torino. Toshinori’s old teacher.

 

When they closed the door behind them, the room was plunged into a semi-darkness again, the only light a cold, steel gray coming from outside.

 

“Tsukauchi is on his way.” Gran Torino says to the unasked question, as he and Toshinori take place at the table in front of Aizawa. “At this point its clear we have to act. This has been the straw that broke the camel’s back, we cannot allow any more of his schemings to continue.”

 

Aizawa nods, silent. His left arm still felt raw even after the burns on it had been healed.

 

“But you didn’t want to talk about this, for now, did you.” Toshinori intervenes, not a question. There’s a glacial quality to his voice. One more sign of the kind of anger storming inside him.

 

“We will have plenty of time to plan our attack once Tsukauchi and the other pros get here.” Aizawa replies with a nod. “While we wait, I wanted to talk about Midoriya.”

 

Gran Torino sighs. “What about that brat, now.” He says, tired. “Every single time I’ve been hearing his name since the work experience week, it has been in a situation in which he’d got himself in trouble.”

 

“The police reports came back.” Aizawa says, crossing his fingers on the table. “One of the villains that was found and arrested was not in the group that Tora, Pixie-bob and the kids ended up fighting before we evacuated. He was the one that Midoriya faced.”

 

Neither Toshinori or Gran Torino seems surprised in the slightest.

 

“I have no idea what happened.” Aizawa rummaged through the considerable pile of paper in front of him, taking out a file. “But I have a theory.”

 

He launches the file across the table. Toshinori picks it up, Gran Torino leaning over his shoulder to read.

 

Muscular—” The old man says, eyes widening. “He fought against this guy?!”

 

“He couldn’t have been gone for more than ten minutes, and he came back with technically no new wound on him.” Aizawa says, crossing his fingers under his chin. “Read what the report says.”

 

He gives them time. Two pair of eyes moving back and forth on the paper, both of them going wide when they reach the most glaring issue in the report.

 

—Offender’s wounds are mostly located in the facial area. Deep and irregular lacerations disfiguring the offender’s features, as if the flesh has been scratched out with bare hands.” Gran Torino reads aloud. “Upon a closer medical examination, part the offender’s frontal lobe has been found to have liquified.” A long moment of silence. “What does this mean? Do you think the boy literally scratched his face out?

 

“His hands and arms were completely covered in blood when he came back from the fight.” Aizawa replies, voice low and carefully flat. “Apparently, the nurses reported finding biological material stuck under his nails when they washed him.”

 

Toshinori slowly puts the reports down on the table.

 

“And not only that.” Aizawa continues. “The boy spent a long time speaking with Mandalay, apparently very inspired. You know how her quirk works. I’m pretty sure in the two days we had, he’d been searching a way—“ Hesitation. Both Toshinori and Gran Torino’s eyes are set on him, waiting. “…I think he found a way to make his quirk work backwards.”

 

“Backwards?” Gran Torino presses.

 

“His quirk allows him to perceive the people around him, like an antenna taking in signals—” Aizawa continues. “A quirk that might have grown stronger since the boy received One For All, if his uncanny connection with Toshinori is anything to come by. As far as we know, his quirk only allows this connection to work one way. From others to him. But what if he managed to reverse the process? From him to others?”

 

Gran Torino hands rises to his chin as he thinks. Toshinori seems to be frozen, his eyes not moving away from Aizawa.

 

“—Muscular’s frontal lobe liquefied.” Gran Torino finally murmurs after long seconds of silence. “If he managed to do what you say, Aizawa— He might—“

 

“We cannot allow him to go down this road.” Aizawa says. “It’s just a theory, but I have the hunch he will confirm it for us, once we ask.”

 

Toshinori slowly stands, walking up to the window. He looks at the rain pouring outside, a hand on his mouth.

 

“I don’t think his quirk was ever supposed to do that naturally, at least not this strongly.” Aizawa continues, patting the report about Muscular. “His nose didn’t stop bleeding for a long while after he came back. If he managed to liquefy someone’s brain, trying to imagine what it could do to him. Just one slip of control and— It’s too dangerous.”

 

“—Not to mention the implications.” Gran Torino adds, voice low. “If he really did that to Muscular, he might’ve felt all of it.”

 

Aizawa let himself melt on his seat with a tired sigh. “I don’t think I’ve ever had a student giving me so much work before.” He mutters, massaging his forehead. “Toshinori, that boy is taking one too many steps directed right to an abyss without even realizing. He needs to calm down.”

 

Toshinori does not reply for long seconds. When he does, his voice is rough. “Yes.” He says. “I agree.”

 

 

Kacchan was gone.

 

That’s what his classmates had told to him, once he woke up in a hospital bed, sore and in pain and confused and not remembering a lick of what has happened after Kouta ran away from him and Muscular.

 

The villains took him.

 

Kacchan was gone.

 

Izuku wanted to scream. He wanted to punch something. He was utterly furious.

 

Yet again he’d been useless. Yet again something went wrong. Like at the U.S.J., it did not matter that Izuku saw the enemy, they still got what they wanted.

 

Like it did not matter that he felt Shigaraki’s presence at the Kiyashi-Ward shopping mall, because that only won him a wound so debilitating it rendered him even more useless than he already was.

 

What fucking good was his radar if he could not prevent bad things from happening? What goddamn fucking good was the power of the symbol of peace in his hands?

 

Why have you given me this power, All Might? Why to someone as weak and useless as me?

 

Izuku was stuck on a bed, yet again. Alone, stewing in his anger.

 

He should’ve never been born. It would’ve been better for everyone if he never existed. All Might would’ve given his power to someone more worthy, someone capable of doing actual good with it.

 

The door to his room opened. Izuku turned his face a bit as he sat on his bed, turning his quirk on. His head hurt but he ignored it as Aizawa-sensei, All Might -he felt so closed off and far, now, like there was a wall between them. He felt… cold.— and Gran Torino entered. Maybe he should’ve greeted them, but he just didn’t had it in him. He waited, in silence.

 

“Kid.” Aizawa-sensei said, before sighing. “We got some stuff to talk about.”

 

Izuku resisted the urge to roll his eyes, steeling himself for another round of scolding to come.

 

“You fought Muscular.” Aizawa-sensei continues, All Might and Gran Torino silent behind him. “How.”

 

“What?” Izuku blinks, frowning.

 

“I’m asking you how. We need to know what happened.”

 

Izuku takes some time to think, trying to recall exactly what happened. His memories aren’t clear from that first punch that made him black out for a bit. He’s sure he got up, he remembers trying and failing to hit Muscular, telling Kouta to run away. He remembers trying his new technique in desperation—

 

His memories definitely became a garbled mess from there.

 

“…I don’t remember.” He admits, voice low. “I tried… To do a thing, and maybe it worked, but I don’t remember from there.”

 

“A thing.” Aizawa-sensei replies, something unexplainable in his voice. “Did you try to reverse the effects of your quirk on him?”

 

Izuku’s eyes go wide in surprise. Sensei knew already?

 

“I guess that answers my question.” Aizawa-sensei continues, voice flat. “Midoriya. Don’t do that ever again.”

 

“What?” The word is out of Izuku’s mouth before he can stop himself. “But—“

 

“No buts!” Aizawa-sensei roars, furious in a way Izuku had never felt before. “You’ve forced your quirk to work in a way so forced that it’s a miracle your head is still on your shoulders! Did you not realize how dangerous that could be for you?!”

 

“I practiced it—“ Izuku replies, rage bubbling up in his throat. “I was practicing, and I was fine!”

 

“You were fine, huh? That’s why you don’t even remember what happened after you did that to Muscular?”

 

Izuku does not have anything to reply to that. He grits his teeth, frustrated. “But it could be useful!” He tries to insist. “Sensei, I found a way to extend the effect of my quirk so much! I can find Kacchan with this, I can help—“

 

I’ve had enough with you!” Izuku jumps, Aizawa-sensei closing in on him with two strides. “Do you have any idea what you are doing to yourself?! To the people that care for you?! You need to stop and listen, boy!”

 

Izuku’s breath is coming short to him, as he frowns up to the furious light of Aizawa-sensei.

 

“Toshinori.” Aizawa-sensei says, cold, after long seconds of silence.

 

All Might steps closer as well. His lights suddenly feels overbearing in a way that Izuku had never felt before. Never pointed at him, at least.

 

“Aizawa is right.” All Might says, voice carefully flat. “You’ve gone too far, young Midoriya. You need to examine your actions and realize that you’ve been pushing yourself over the line, instead of counting on the people surrounding you, the people that want to help you. You cannot put the weight of the world on your shoulders all the time—”

 

Something bites in Izuku, a blinding rage grabbing at his heart. “Maybe if you all stopped treating me like I’m made of glass I could count on you!” He snaps back. “And you decided to put the weight of the world on my shoulders!”

 

A heavy silence falls on the room as Izuku pants after his little outburst. He turns his face away, frowning.

 

“I had a way to try find Kacchan—“ He says, voice lower but not any less angry. “And now you all waltz in and tell me I should not use it?!”

 

“Exactly.” All Might says. His light is closed off, the wall is getting higher.

 

Izuku recoils, turning back to them.

 

“You should not worry yourself with this matter anymore.” All Might continues, flat. “The police is already on it. An operation to rescue your classmate is going to take place tomorrow. It is not something that is between your hands anymore, so your role now is to properly recover and, for once in your life, obey to what you’ve been told.”

 

Izuku feels it, the traitorous sting of tears in his eyes. He turns away from Aizawa-sensei and All Might before they can roll down his cheeks, angrily biting down his lower lip.

 

“This is the last chance, Midoriya.” Aizawa-sensei says, his voice steel, but not without a tiny note of kindness in it. “You’ve done enough. Let us take care of this, and trust our judgment when we say something is bad for you. Don’t use your quirk in the way you did anymore. Please.”

 

Izuku does not reply, a tear rolling down his cheek, falling from his chin. Aizawa-sensei sighs one last time, and then just as silent as they came in, they go.

 

Their lights are still close. But they feel so, so far.

 

 

“Midoriya.” Kirishima’s voice is low, serious. “Could you… Could you find him?”

 

Izuku blinks, turning his head just slightly.

 

“What are you saying?” Uraraka replies, a frown clear in her voice. “Of course he can’t— We don’t even know how far he must be—“

 

He’s sitting on his bed, legs crossed, picking at the soft pants he was wearing. The entire class was here. Everyone’s lights felt weary, sad, angry. Despite that they had tried to cheer Izuku up, and failed miserably.

 

Izuku feels distant, all he can feel is a soup of rage boiling inside him. Maybe he was about to have another one of his episodes, as mom had defined it. He should probably turn off his stupid quirk.

 

He doesn’t.

 

“What if I tell you that maybe I can.“ He replies, voice low.

 

Surprise ripples like a wave through everyone.

 

“What?”

 

“I might have a way to find Kacchan.” Izuku continues. He can hear Aizawa-sensei’s voice in his head, don’t use your quirk like that anymore.

 

He ignores it.

 

“What are you talking about? Midoriya—“ Uraraka intervenes, worried. “You shouldn’t— I know you are worried, but—“

 

“It’s one of the things I’ve been practicing at the camp.” Izuku explains, flat. “I can… Reverse the effect of my quirk. Send the signal out instead of just taking it in. I can use people like antennas— extending the range of my quirk far beyond what I thought was possible. From person to person— Like a long chain. I never went too far— but if I do that, I might be able to pin-point Kacchan’s position.”

 

Silence falls in the room, heavy as lead.

 

“Midoriya.” Iida’s voice is strangely flat, almost cold. His light is tense, as if he’s trying to reign in panic. “Stop.”

 

Izuku flinches.

 

“We understand that you are worried. We all are.” He continues. “But— If I have to be honest, you are scaring me. Please, don’t— Don’t try to do that.” The sentence had turned in a whisper as he spoke, worry tainting it.

 

Izuku turns his face up, frowning. “What do you mean?” He replies, angry. “I can find him! Why the hell doesn’t any of you understand?!”

 

“Because you look like you are about to fall apart, right now!” Iida snaps back, desperation clear in his tone. “If you could see yourself from the outside—“

 

“Well, I fucking can’t!” Izuku interrupts, furious, rage burning in his throat. “I can’t look at myself! I can’t look at anything! I can’t ever do fucking anything to help, and now that I finally have something that might make me useful you all tell me I should ignore it?!”

 

“Midoriya—“ Uraraka’s voice sounds tiny, pained. “Don’t— Don’t say things like that, you’re not—“

 

“Not a stupid dead-weight? Not a useless piece of shit? I can go on, the list is infinite—“ With a growl he jumps off his bed, feeling his classmates take a step back as if they are afraid of him. “Fucking forget it.“

 

He’s out the door before any of them can even call out to him.

 

 

To be honest, he knows they are right, all of them.

 

There’s still a tiny, logical part of him that’s screaming at him to don’t be such an idiot. He’s overreacting. He just treated his friends like crap, they are only worried for him, what the hell is wrong with you.

 

But is he not worried, too? Because he is worried. A lot.

 

Because they took Kacchan. And every time Kacchan is involved, Izuku can feel his control slip, years and years of piled up issues and unspoken bitterness and god only knew what else in that mix of pure chaos rising up his throat like bile.

 

Because Izuku can’t stop himself from caring, no matter how many times he’s been wounded, both in body and mind. Because there’s always this single, small thread hanging between them, giving him hope that maybe one day things will turn ok.

 

Because Kacchan had tried to grab that thread himself, in his strange, twisted ways.

 

And Izuku… He just wanted to be stronger. More useful. To help. Isn’t what All Might wanted from him, as well? To have Izuku be able to help?

 

And when he had found a way to do that, a new way to help, everyone around him scolded him for it, as if Izuku might break if he tried.

 

He spent a lifetime of being treated like literal glass. He thought he was done with it. Clearly, he was wrong.

 

He sniffs, angrily wiping away the tears. He hated this. Like he hated Shigaraki, and his stupid league of villains.

 

With a sigh, he slowly leaned back, concrete not the most comfortable seating, but not much of a choice when you’ve chosen a hospital roof as a place to brood. All Might said that the police was on it, that there would be an operation to go get Kacchan back.

 

But how could they? If they had a lead on the league of villains, why hadn’t they acted sooner? Why did they wait until one of them had been kidnapped to finally do something?

 

And why had the villains found them despite all the precautions that had been taken for their summer camp?

 

The more he thought about it, the less All Might’s words rung true, despite the fact that Izuku had perceived no lie from him. Could he have twisted the truth in a way that wouldn’t feel like a lie to Izuku? Maybe he just said that to keep Izuku in the dark, keep him calm? Try to avoid Izuku butting his nose were All Might did not want him to?

 

Not to mention that Izuku was starting to think that someone in their midst might be working for the enemy.

 

A spy.

 

And if that was true… If there was a spy as he suspected, and the police and heroes were really about to attack, what assured All Might that this spy would not interfere, feed info to the enemy? Did they not think of such a possibility at all?

 

There was just so much that could go wrong, and Kacchan’s life was on the line.

 

And yet, despite the fact that Izuku offered them a chance to discover exactly where to hit, they refused.

 

A literal glass.

 

Izuku was so tired. So, so tired. Of all this rage and this negativity storming inside him. Of the distrust and confusion. Of the fear he felt inside his friends’ hearts as they took hit after hit, the foundations of their lives shaken, forcing them to leave behind the innocence of their younger years.

 

Not children anymore. They could not afford that.

 

Izuku closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. If All Might did not want him to help, then Izuku was going to force him to accept his help. Show him he wasn’t made of glass.

 

He got to work.

 

 

The chain was working. A constant feed, right back to him, as he inexorably advanced person after person after person, the signal jumping around the city like a cricket of pure energy.

 

Somewhere, in the back of his mind, he registered something, just barely. Warmth running down his mouth and chin, down his cheeks. He ignored it.

 

The lights were everywhere, giving him something to connect to, a platform to jump forward, searching searching searching…

 

Snippets of feelings not his, thoughts not his, over in a flash before he could even truly register them, like zapping through tv channels as fast as possible—

 

Something familiar finally tickled at him, he followed, getting closer— Some of the enemy’s lights he felt in the forest, and then—

 

Kacchan.

 

He found him. He was so close to them, so close—

 

Izuku felt a zap when he connected to Kacchan. For a second he felt his pure rage, and a touch of fear he was trying his best to stifle, the impression of voices Kacchan must be hearing— —he’s alive he’s alive thank god— and then Izuku steps away. He did not need to linger, he knew where Kacchan was, now, putting a signal on him, like a pin on a map—

 

But there was still something strange. Not far from Kacchan he could feel those strange cluster-lights of the noumus— Izuku went in exploration, any info could be good—

 

And then he met the dark cloud.

 

Izuku never felt something like that, before. Not even Shigaraki’s not light had that strange quality around it.

 

He jumps closer, carefully—

 

 

Katsuki was going to be sick.

 

Ok, he wasn’t literally going to be sick, he’d never give these fuckers the satisfaction of thinking they got to him.

 

But this bitch was really grating on his nerves.

 

They tried to speak to him, tried to make him join their league of losers. As if.

 

They thought they knew him, and they had no idea. He laughed in their faces, watching that fucker, Shigaraki, grow more and more irritated as Katsuki refused them, spit on them, and laughed and laughed and laughed.

 

Because, seriously, they really thought they could get him to join their side. They really were that stupid. That was so funny it was unbelievable.

 

—And he laughed so much because he could never admit the fear, deep inside him. The knowledge that if something didn’t happen soon, the only way Katsuki would get out of this shit hole would be in a wooden box.—

 

Shigaraki had given up for the moment, leaving him be, ordering that stupid girl to watch him to make sure he wouldn’t try something funny. As if he could, he had already tried to do something funny and the fuckers had tied him really well. Fucking hell.

 

So here she was. She hadn’t done much, at first. Taking a chair and sitting in front of him while she played with a knife, a stupid, dreamy smile on her face.

 

“Say, since we are here…” She started at some point. “Why don’t you tell me more about little Izuku?”

 

Katsuki forced himself to school his face into absolute, cold indifference, not answering.

 

“He’s so cute— Like a little, wild animal.“ She sighed, launching the knife in the air and catching it again. “I saw him in the forest, you know? I wasn’t supposed to be there, but well— When you guys somehow realized that we were coming the plan changed, so I ended up stumbling into him.”

 

Katsuki keeps not answering, his left cheek twitching as she let out another lovestruck sigh.

 

“He was so beautiful, all covered in blood.” She continues, undaunted by his silence. “I saw him, you know? He did something funny with Muscular— Somehow sending him straight down without doing apparently anything and then as Muscular struggled on the ground he went— He turned— He was so— So— Feral.” She whispers after stumbling on her words, her face lighting up when she finally found the one she was searching for. “He kept fighting and scratching— He really was like a angry beast out for blood.”

 

There’s a beat of silence and then she sighs again. “And before I knew it, I was already in love.”

 

Katsuki was going to be fucking sick.

 

“I hope to see him like that again, soon.” She adds, in a low, dreamy voice.

 

 

Izuku opens his eyes, and darkness is around him.

 

It was a different type— his darkness had always simply been the lack of sight. This darkness was actual, literal blackness surrounding him, he could tell the difference—

 

He blinks, when he notices he could see something out the corner of his eyes.

 

Wait… What?

 

Izuku looks down. He sees hands. His hands.

 

He… Sees.

 

Fascinated, he turns them around, wiggling the fingers of his right hand. They move, misshapen, confirming that yes, this is undoubtedly his right, scarred hand, the one he had broken multiple times during the festival. That he’s seeing.

 

And not only that. He can see his legs. They look so long in the soft pants he’s wearing— He’s so much taller, now that he’s not four anymore. His naked feet move when he shifts his weight from one to the other. He turns around on himself, looking down at his own body curiously.

 

He wonders if there’s a mirror here, somewhere, in this strange black place. Maybe he could finally see his own face. But when he looks around, all there’s as far as the eyes go it’s just that.

 

Black.

 

Where is he? Why is he—

 

“Hello…?” He calls out, confused. A rumble in the distance makes him jump. Then a voice.

 

“Who are you?”

 

It’s deep, it sounds like it’s everywhere and nowhere at once. Izuku turns, blinking when something seems to rise up from the black in front of him, something gooey, and dark, like everything else seems to be, here. With a splash, the goo falls, and disappears, sinking back to where it came from. A man in a suit is standing in it’s place, now.

 

Who are you?” The voice repeats again, the man’s mouth moving with it.

 

When Izuku tries to focus on his features, tries to see him, it’s like his face shifts and change, making this person look blurry.

 

Then the man chuckles, surprised.

 

Oh, I see who you are, now.” He says, wonder in his voice. “Look at you, all shining and bright like a beacon in the dark, Midoriya Izuku.

 

 

“You know my name…?” Izuku exhales, surprised.

 

Of course I do! And you know my name, too.” The man replies with a small laugh. “We are connected, you and I. Still, I could have never imagined to meet you this way. This is certainly quite curious.

 

Izuku blinks.

 

You’re awfully far from home, my boy.” The man says, kindly. “How did you get here?

 

“I—“ The words itches in his mouth, his mind feels fuzzy.

 

What was he doing, again?

 

“I don’t remember—“

 

That is understandable.” The man replies, nodding with his strange blurry face. “To wander like this, you must have been very desperate. What would push you to walk in the abyss voluntarily, my boy?

 

Walk in the abyss? “I don’t understand—“

 

Oh, my dear boy, there is so much you do not understand.” The man makes a big gesture, as if showing incredible wonders that are not there. “I’ve been around for a long time, and there is much I do not understand myself. As an example, I do not understand why nature has been so cruel to you. Taking your eyes away, depriving you of the wonders of the world you could have enjoyed if you hadn’t been blind.

 

“I’m blind?” Izuku asks, tilting his head on a side. He looks down at his hands. “But I can see—“

 

Only here, apparently. Another cruel joke of destiny.” The man sighs, walking up to him. “Oh, my poor boy, what have they done to you.

 

Izuku feels weird and disconnected. Tired. Like he might fall asleep right there. His own mind escapes him, like he cannot quite connect with his own thoughts anymore.

 

You have been lied to for so long.” The man whispers, putting a gentle hand on Izuku’s cheek. “You have been pushed to take a choice not really your own, in the name of someone that, in different circumstances, might have not spared a second glance in your direction.

 

“Who?” Izuku asks, confused.

 

But who else, if not him, of course.

 

Suddenly, there’s someone else at their side. Izuku turns, looking up into the face of a tall, blond man with hollow features wearing some sort of costume that hangs too big on his thin frame. The blond man looks back down to him, sadly.

 

Oh, so that is how he looks like, now.” The man with the blurry face comments. “I had not the honour to see myself.”

 

Izuku knows this person— He knows this person, right?

 

“Who is he?” He asks the man with the blurry face, unable to look away from the blond man’s sad expression. The answer eludes him, like a word you have right on your tongue and yet you can’t pronounce.

 

He’s your zero.” The man with the blurry face replies. “He’s the point that every each one of your decisions has ever started from. He’s the north on your compass.

 

“…Is he?” Izuku asks, trying to raise his arm to touch the blond man, and failing, like the blond man manages to move away from him without actually moving.

 

Oh, he is. He’s the shining ideal that had been forced in your head from the very first time you have come into this world. Something invincible, and pure, and just.” The man with the blurry face keeps saying, voice becoming more and more emphatic. “The person that led you to believe that justice will always prevail, when in reality justice is constantly failing.

 

“But I—“ Izuku tries to retort, confused, the man with the blurry face putting two gentle fingers on Izuku’s lips to stop him.

 

You have been lied to for so long, Midoriya Izuku.” He says, kind. “I want to show you.

 

And suddenly, the man with the blurry face is not blurry anymore. He has no face at all, Izuku realizes. Only scarred skin, and a twisted mouth, grinning down to him.

 

This is what he has done to me, my boy.” The man says. “The symbol of peace. Look what he has done.

 

Izuku tries to step back, but the man is keeping one hand on his shoulder, his other keeping Izuku’s face up to him, fingers like a vice.

 

Do not look away.” He whispers, leaning down on Izuku. “This is his doing. And he has hurt you, too, hasn’t he? He has hurt you so much, I can see it in your eyes— He used you, made you feel loved and then stomped on your heart. He pushed you to injure yourself, and then turned his back on you when you needed him the most. He does not trust you. He has shown it through and through with his insincerity.

 

Izuku frowns. It feels like there’s something not quite right in what this man is saying, but he cannot pinpoint what it is.

 

You and I, we will meet again.” The man says, patting Izuku’s shoulders amicably. “We are connected by fate, after all. As he is your dawn, I am your sunset, two faces of the same medal. One could not exist without the other. And that is why I want you to remember, to remember what he has done to me, to remember what he has done to you. I want you to remember it all, for the next time we will face one another.

 

“Why?” Izuku asks, perplexed. “If he has hurt me so much, as you say, why would I want to remember?”

 

So you can see the truth.” The man replies. “So you can make a decision, a real decision this time, and be freed from those shackles that have been forced on you. I only wish for you to be free, to be who you really are. I have no ill will toward you, my dear boy. It is not your fault if others have made decisions for you, after all.

 

“Who— Who are you?” Izuku asks, because he’s so, so tired, and feels strange, and nothing makes sense anymore, and this man that seems to be speaking to him so kindly hasn’t even introduced himself— at least Izuku thinks he hasn’t, he’s not sure, everything feels strange

 

You will know once you wake up.” The man chuckles, putting a gentle hand on Izuku’s hair. “I am afraid our time together is about to run out. It has been quite a pleasure to finally meet you, my dear boy. I was impatient to do so, if I have to be honest. I wish you the best of luck for your future. Now go back, before you die of blood loss.

 

And with that, he’s gone.

 

 

Going back is painful.

 

His eyes don’t work -but they did, they did work, just a minute ago, why don’t they anymore, I want to see-, his back hurts -but it did not hurt just a minute ago, why does it hurt again, it hurts so much, please stop- and he feels weak, so weak, and so confused. His head feels like it’s about to split in half, and he can’t see anymore, his lights are gone, and he cannot turn his quirk on again or his head will really split in half—

 

His nose feels clogged as he slowly tries to make sense through the fog of pain. He’s lying down on a side on something hard and cold. He breathes through his mouth, painfully, and coughs shakes him, something unpleasant coming out his throat and mouth.Tastes like iron.

 

He has to focus on breathing, just on that, just breathing through his open mouth until the world stops spinning.

 

He cautiously tries to move a hand. He feels so light, and yet so heavy at the same time. He moves one hand, and then the other, palms meeting something squishy and wet as he weakly tries to sit up, almost rendering his effort null when they slip.

 

He manages to keep his balance, finally sitting. Now, he tries to move his legs. They feel alien, like they are not quite his, and it takes him so long to collect them closer to himself, and try to bend them, put some strength in them so he can stand.

 

When he finally manages to push himself up, he almost goes right back to the floor, only stopped when in his stumbling he hits something hard with his right shoulder.

 

His left hand searches for the hard surface he’s leaning on, finding it cold and rough under his palm, and then he slowly tries to walk forward without breaking that contact, his only guide in the dark. His fingers hit something slightly different, and he carefully palms at it, recognising it must be a door.

 

He takes him three tries to push it open, it’s so heavy, and then he stumbles forward. His stomach hits something cold, hands blindly grabbing.

 

It’s a railing. A tiny part of him registers. Stairs.

 

He makes his way down, slowly, so slowly and yet he almost falls down two times, slipping on his unsure legs, confused and lost in his world of darkness, only saving himself by gripping at the railing with what little strength he has.

 

He keeps stumbling forward once he finally makes it down the ramp, his palm sliding on a wall. He can hear voices in the distance, so he follows.

 

“— was really angry.” Someone says, worried. “I didn’t want to upset him, I really didn’t want to— Oh my god.

 

He feels hands on him, just a second before his mind blacks out once more.

 

 

When he wakes, he’s lucid again, if absolutely broken. He can feel the iv line in his arm, the drip of something being inserted into his veins. He doesn’t hear noises around him beside the soft hiss of hospital machinery nearby. It must be deep in the night.

 

Izuku blinks, plunged back into his personal brand of darkness, as the name of the man that first had a blurry face and then had none at all comes to him along with a realization.

 

He just spoke with All For One.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

“Dude. Hey.”

 

Izuku turns to the voice, snapping out of the tired, dazed fog that took over his head, hearing Kirishima hesitating on the door. He knows he must look like a zombie. -he certainly feels like one-

 

“Hey.” He replies, weakly, as Kirishima finally gathers his courage and steps into the room. He gets closer, sitting down on the edge of Izuku’s bed.

 

“Listen—“ He tries to say, before his voice dies out.

 

“You feel guilty.” Izuku replies. His quirk is turned off -his head still hurts, of course it does. He went and got way over it and now he’s suffering the consequences, welcome to his life- but it’s not hard to pick the tone in Kirishima’s voice. “No need to.”

 

“Need to.” Kirishima replies with a sigh. “I shouldn’t have pushed you around like that.”

 

“You only asked me a question.”

 

Midoriya.” Kirishima replies pointedly. “Don’t play dumb. We both know you are not. I knew how you felt and I still asked you something stupid that pushed you to do something stupid.”

 

A beat of silence.

 

“Which was very stupid, by the way.” Kirishima adds.

 

“I think I’m aware of that, now.” Izuku murmurs, tiredly dragging a hand over his throbbing-in-pain-face.

 

“Are you?” Kirishima asks sarcastically, noises suggesting he’s crossing his arms on his chest. “Because I had to see you emerge from a dark corridor bleeding from your eyes. That gave me a whole new perspective on the concept of doing something stupid.

 

“Oh.” Well, that explained some things. “I’m sorry.”

 

Kirishima sighs. “Listen, I’m just—I was frustrated, and I wasn’t thinking, and I still am, frustrated I mean, frankly, because fuck— All I could do while those sons of bitches snatched him away was dumbly stand and wait and that irritates me.”

 

Izuku does not comment, blinking. He definitely could relate.

 

“And I know you feel the same way I do, this sense of powerlessness— It sucks big time.” Kirishima continues. “But, Midoriya— You constantly take everything and drag it a step further than it needs to, and if you don’t stop, you’re gonna get yourself killed for real, next time.”

 

Izuku turns on a side, his knees gently bumping against Kirishima’s back as he sinks half his face in the pillow.

 

“— I never know what I’m supposed to do.” Izuku whispers, muffled. “I just— I just want to help—“

 

“And that is a noble cause, but there’s helping, and then there’s self-destructing yourself because you think you’re not good enough.” Kirishima says, his voice a mix of kindness and sadness. “Midoriya, I think I can understand a bit how you feel— I don’t pretend to fully understand you, but— At least a bit.”

 

Izuku closes his eyes, trying to hold back the sting of tears.

 

“And— I don’t know what has happened to you through your life that made you think you’re not enough— Because I assure you, you are more than that. You’ve been an unstoppable force ever since you’ve set foot in class with us.” Kirishima continues, a gentle hand finding Izuku’s shoulder. His voice was low, strangled, worried. “So, please— For yourself, and all of us— Slow down. Give us a chance to reach you and offer our help. If you keep running down the way you are, I’m not quite sure we will get to our second year together.”

 

Because you’ll be dead. The words hang around, unspoken.

 

A painful knot has found its way in Izuku’s throat as Kirishima spoke. He releases a shuddering sigh, cracking his eyes open just barely. Kirishima is right. Izuku knows he’s right. And yet the pain squirmed in his chest, the dark thoughts nibbling at the back of his head—

 

He keeps seeing a scarred not-face, burned into his brain, an after-image of horror. He hates that the one time his eyes were working, in whatever that hellish dreamscape was, what he had the chance to see was that.

 

The wonders of the world my ass .

 

“Kirishima.” Izuku murmurs, because he doesn’t want to linger on what Kirishima said, on the deep guilt, on the fact that he disappointed everyone that cared for him— And he doesn’t want to think about that… Man. “How do you look like?”

 

“Huh?” Kirishima replies, perplexed.

 

“You. How do you look like.”

 

“…We’ve known each other for like, months, and you’re only asking that now?”

 

“I’ve been knowing people for years and never asked them once.” Izuku replies, a little sarcastic tone in his tired voice. “Consider yourself honored.”

 

“Um, well—“ Kirishima starts, indecisive. “Let me think— I got sharp teeth and a little scar over my right eye that I got when my quirk manifested for the first time— My hair is red—“

 

“Mh.” Izuku sniffs. “Red. Suits you.”

 

“Right?” Kirishima laughs, elbowing him gently. “Fiery like my spirit!”

 

Izuku closes his eyes again with a weak, lopsided smile as Kirishima keeps attempting to describe himself an mostly fails. But that is ok.

 

He much prefers trying to visualize what Kirishima is saying. He just does not want to think about the man with no face anymore.

 

 

Shouto is not surprised to meet Iida in the hospital hall.

 

They walk in at the same time from different directions, blinking at each other when they cross paths.

 

“Hey.” Shouto says first, because if he feels like shit, going by the look on Iida’s face he does so even more.

 

“Hey.” Iida finally sighs, tired. “I will take a guess and say we are both here for the same reason.”

 

Shouto shrug, as if to say which other reason could there be?

 

“Oh, you two.” Shouto turns, Kirishima is approaching them. He looks a bit pale, but less taut than he did yesterday, after Midoriya had stormed out his own room in rage. “I just went and visited our resident wild boy.”

 

If Iida finds the definition “wild boy” inappropriate, he does not express it outside a single raised eyebrow.

 

“Let’s say he’s less wild and more approachable, now.” Kirishima continues, scratching the back of his head. “I wanted to apologize for putting pressure on him and we had the chance to chat a bit. It’s clear he feels bad for his outburst, so don’t be too hard on him, ok?”

 

“That is good to hear.” Iida replies, adjusting the glasses on his nose with a little frown. “I was really afraid he might have done something stupid after yesterday—“

 

Kirishima hisses through his sharp teeth. “Yeah, about that—“</