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The Sorrow Behind the Smile

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“It’s best you give up,” The man was slouched in his chair, hands folded to the side, legs spread out, and eyes cast forward, though nearly invisible through his goggle-like glasses. The specialist was far too relaxed as he made the child in front of him fall into a sense of panic and dread with a simple, discouraging five words. The child trembled, eyes wide, as the doctor, who still showed nearly no sympathy, explained the cold, hard facts to the boy’s mother. The kindergartner couldn’t even listen to what the two adults were discussing as the previously spoken words repeated over and over in his head.

These catastrophic words filled his mind until he found himself at his home, sitting in front of a computer. He then realized that his favorite video had been playing. A video that once made him over-elated. But today, as it ran through, the boy reached a conclusion, and a question. Eyes glued to the screen, he quietly spoke to his mother, who was near the doorway, “Mommy...No matter where people in trouble are, he goes and saves them with a smile…,” The mother knew that her son was speaking in reference to the hero he had looked up to for years. The hero he strove to be like. She said nothing though, and her son whispered, “Cause’ he’s a super awesome hero. Do you think… that I could be one too?”

The mother gasped as her heart clutched, looking at her son’s tear filled face. He looked at her in desperation, and she could do nothing but rush over to him, crying out, “I’m sorry, Izuku! I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry,” She grasped her son tightly, repeating those words like a mantra as tears ran down both of their faces. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry…


A raspy sob escaped loudly from the boy’s lips. His eyes shot open wide. He took quick and hoarse inhales of breath. As he stared up at the ceiling, he realized that he had been entranced in a dream. After finally slowing his respiration, he turned his head to the side, hoping to see the time on his bedside table. But, he was surprised to find liquid running down his face from the motion and that his eyesight was blurred. He sniffed, and his thoughts echoed through the current quietness. I was crying in my sleep. The boy sighed and brought a slow fist up to his face, rubbing the tears from his eyes, and wiping the wet tracks off of his skin. His nose twitched as he looked back over to his night-stand, catching the time in his field of vision. 3:45 a.m. No way I’m going to be able to fall back asleep though. He curled in on himself a bit, just thinking about the dream. The boy stared at his All Might themed alarm clock, watching as it turned to 3:46, and then 3:47. His eyes started to ache from looking at the bright electronic numbers, and instead settled for peering at the opposite wall.

As tired as he felt, the young man could not bring himself to sleep. Painful memories flashed through his mind, causing him to flinch, and hug his knees tighter to his chest. Another 20 minutes or so passed and the boy had found himself once again beaming his eyes towards the ceiling. As he laid there, the lad took notice of how sore his throat was and how sweltering hot his face felt. With a burst of courage, he decided to make a trip downstairs to the common area in order to get a drink and rinse off. It might help. He cast away the heavy blankets that adorned his bed, and scooted towards the edge. When he sat up, his head span, and he nearly fell face first onto the floor. Grasping his head, he took a few moments to rest. Using the bedpost beside him as a support, he ever-so-slowly stood up. Shivering a few times, the boy decided to bring along a fuzzy blanket that had been draped over the backboard of his bed. Wrapping it around his shoulders and grasping onto it tightly, he began to shuffle towards the doorway. Back slumped and feet dragging, he opened the door and waddled out. Leaving the room, he didn’t even take notice that he had left the door that was labeled “Izuku” wide open.


 

Izuku knew that it was past curfew, and that he would be in deep trouble if he was caught wandering the dorm for no reason. But although he knew that, his foggy and distracted mind had forgotten the fact that the dorm would be dark, due to the fact of it being past the curfew time. All of the main lights, other than the bathroom's, turned off automatically after a specific time, and there was no way to manually turn them on without going to the boiler room. Plus, Izuku had no knowledge of how to get to that room in the first place. He squinted his eyes while trying to make out his surroundings, feeling like a complete idiot for not bringing his cell phone. He continued to shuffle his feet, being as cautious as he could be. Izuku was so cold, and his knuckles were nearly white at how hard he was clutching the blanket that draped around him like a cape. Although using his hands to feel out the wall would have been a wise decision, he was far too frigid to do that. Sniveling several times, Izuku finally reached the stairs. Luckily, he had lived at the dorm long enough to know where they were located. Otherwise, he would have most likely fell down them, waking nearly everyone nearby. Finally, with a shaky hand he reached out towards the handrail on the right side of the stairwell. With unsteady and weak steps, Izuku began to descend to the first level of the dorm complex.

His brain ached and he nearly misjudged a few of the steps, but Izuku had miraculously made it down the stairs without falling. Unstable from the walk, and breathing heavy, he slowly sat down on the floor, using the bottom step as a place to rest his back. He brought his hand back up to his chest and clutched onto the blanket once more, practically melting into its warmth. After several minutes, Izuku finally stood back up again, sluggishly of course, and began to make his way towards the boys common bathroom. Passing the living room and kitchen, he was relieved that no one else awake. Though, why would anyone be? His mind went blank, but still twinged with pain as he proceeded his trek. Finally, he arrived at the corridor containing both the female and male restrooms.

Trudging into the boys’ bathroom, the overhead lights turned on automatically, as they were motion censored. The bright radiance of the bulbs stung Izuku’s dark adjusted eyes, causing him to step back, onto the draping blanket, bringing him to fall onto the tiled ground. He quickly shut his eyes and brought his hands up to his face, groaning. After his eyes stopped pulsating in pain, he squinted them open slowly. His sight bit by bit accustomed to the lights, and he used the wall to pull himself back up. The blanket was discarded onto the floor and Izuku didn’t even notice the pain in his side as he shuffled over to the sink. He started the water, keeping it cold, and looked at the mirror. The reflection that flashed back at him looked like someone else. The crazy hair was still the same, but his skin was blotchy - pale in some areas, flushed in others -, his eyes were wet, his nose was pink, there were bruise-like circles under his eyes, and his eyebrows were deeply furrowed. Averting his vision from his sorry form, he looked at his wobbly hands and brought them towards the chilling water, hoping to splash the refreshing liquid on his face. But, before he come close to doing that, Izuku felt his eyes drift close. His balance was thrown off and he felt his legs turn to jelly. He gripped the edge of the white ceramic sink as he fell to his knees, eyesight blacking out. Why now? His mind was hazy and he could barely formulate any thought at all. At that one last notion, his body completely went limp and he slumped to the floor. Izuku curled into himself as blackness entirely encompassed him. The sink continued to run and the lights turned off as he laid there, unable to wake from the treacherous memories that played in his head.

Chapter Text

Eijiro Kirishima paced back and forth throughout the small and stuffy room, only stopping for a moment to wave his shirt quickly, muttering under his breath, “Man, why is it so stinking hot in here?” With the thought, he began to pace once again, sparing a glance at the smaller boy who was curled up on the bed in the dorm room. He averted his gaze and squinted his eyes closed in exasperation, his small scar wrinkling. “Man…”


“Gotta go; gotta go!” Eijiro whispered panickedly, bounding down the dorm steps, taking 3 stairs a leap. “Ah! I’ve got to go pee!” His thoughts seemed to be a loud bellow throughout the dorm as he reached the main floor. Rounding the corner sharply, the red haired highschooler sprinted down the corridor so fast that Tenya Iida would be quite impressed. That wasn’t a concern at the moment for Eijiro, though; his only issue was making it to the restroom as soon as physically possible.

 He was huffing and sweat soaked his body as he skid into the boys’ bathroom. The lights flashed on, and with his mind set on one thing, he continued his rush to the stalls. His face still tense, Eijiro began to push open the red stall door, only to hear a quiet whimper from the sink area. “Huh?” He spoke out loud, “What the…?” Another short sob made its way to Eijiro‘s ears, and his focus immediately changed.

 In a defensive stance, the spiky-haired boy backtracked to the sinks, afraid of what he might see. But the moment that he caught a glance at a tuft of green hair, Eijiro dropped his guard, surprised. There, on the boys’ common bathroom floor, was one of U.A.’s aspiring heroes, curled up in a shivering ball.

 "Oh my lord!” His eyes were wide and afraid as he sprinted over to the crippled form on the floor. He knew that it was Izuku Midoriya before he reached the other student, but the moment he was close enough to see the boy clearly he was so taken aback by the sight that he hesitated for a moment. His friend was sweating bullets and tears were leaking from his tightly closed eyes. Eijiro kneeled and shook Izuku’s shoulder gently, but only received a weak moan of pain. The red-head looked at the boy below him with a concerned frown plastered on his face. He rubbed his eye in distress. “Izuku.” No response. “Hey, buddy, can you hear me?” His heart began to ache when a whimper escaped from the sickly student. Oh, I can’t wake him up, Eijiro thought. He couldn’t have handled the guilt, had he done that. I’ll just have to carry him. He stepped over his friend to shut off the running sink. Midoriya must’ve turned it on. Eijiro returned to his past position next to the quietly weeping boy. He took a sharp intake of breath, setting his jaw and stealing himself.

He slithered one of his arms underneath the crook of Izuku’s knees, simultaneously slipping the other arm under the smaller boy’s underarms. “Alright, here we go,” He spoke through a hushed voice. Eijiro lurched upward, then, bringing Izuku up with him, the green haired boy’s head lulling to rest against his muscled chest. He’s on fire! Shoot, this is not good. Eijiro settled Izuku in his arms and swiftly made his way over to the boy’s bathroom entrance. As he was walking out, he noticed the large tan blanket that was gathered in a messy heap on the tiled floor. Must be Midoriya’s… Eijiro made a face, and then decided that he would come back down to grab it for his friend. After he knew that Izuku would be all right, of course.

Keeping his future plan in mind, the red-head began his way towards Izuku’s dorm room, making sure to be cautious of the boy who was resting in his hold. He tried to be as careful while making his ascent up the dorm’s stairs, but Eijiro ended up jostling the One-For-All user into a dazed sense of waking. “Sorry, buddy, didn’t mean to wake you up. Just go back to sleep. Everything will be fine soon.” He gave a reassuring smile, though it seemed almost half-hearted.

“K-kiri… ki-Kirishima?” Izuku’s lip was trembling, and he looked up through glossed over and half shut eyes. His body shuddered in Eijiro’s arms when he let out a shaky breath.

The hardening-quirk user’s heart clenched painfully and it became hard to hide his concern. “Yea, it’s me. Don’t worry, bud, just rest. Okay?” He kept his eyes cast forward, afraid to look down at the sickly student.

“Mmkay... Kiri-”He hummed in acknowledgement, but didn’t have the time to finish his friend’s name before fading into another restless slumber. Ah, poor Midoriya… He couldn’t deny that hearing Izuku say his nickname was cute, though.

The two finally reached the top of the steps, and Eijiro didn’t hesitate to make his way towards Izuku’s room. Upon arriving, he noticed that the door labeled “Izuku Midoriya” was left agape. Strange. Midoriya must’ve forgotten to close it on his way out. Another thought came to mind. Or maybe he was just too weak and sick to notice. Eijiro abruptly shook his head with a mighty ferocity, trying to eliminate the notion from his mind.

He gulped, and stepped through the doorway. Upon entering he noticed just how sweltering hot the room was. It permeated the stench of sickness throughout, and Eijiro couldn’t help the way that his nose crinkled up a bit.

He swallowed back his distaste for the scent and made his way over to the bed. The sheets and blankets were all over; half on the floor and all bunched up. “Alright, let’s get this over with.” He bent over and gently placed Izuku down on the bed, his body sinking into the memory foam. Eijiro made sure that the boy’s head was set comfortably on the soft pillow, and that the blankets were situated adequately. He pulled the green top sheet over Izuku’s slightly quivering body, leaving his head uncovered. He then took the comforter and positioned it halfway up, as to not make Izuku too hot, to his lower torso. “That should do for now,” Eijiro stated, his hands on his hips, as he stepped back to make sure everything was in place. A frown made its way to his usually bright face when he noticed how the smaller boy had already curled in on himself, nearly laying in the fetal position. He sighed deeply, sorrow and unplaceable guilt making their way to his heart. Instead of dwelling on it, he went to gather some items from his room and around the dorm.

After gathering a thermometer, a cool bowl of water, a rag, and various other objects, Eijiro approached the place he was in previously. When he returned to Izuku’s dorm bedroom, he became crestfallen to hear that the smaller boy had began to cry and whimper once again. Trying his hardest to ignore the pain he felt for his close classmate, Eijiro began to dutifully tend to Izuku.

Chapter Text

Hushed voices filtered throughout the humid room, slowly luring Izuku into a dazed waking full of confusion and pain. He tried to open his eyes, but his eyelids heavily resisted, feeling like lead. The hero-in-training couldn’t make out who all was in his room (He was in his room, wasn’t he?), so he turned all of his concentration over to the 2 - no - 3 people in his dorm. He scrunched together his eyebrows, trying to ward off his massive headache as he focused on the task at hand.

 

“Where did you even find him, if you don’t mind me asking?” A fairly low and structured voice questioned. Iida , Izuku easily deducted. Even outside of the classroom, and through only how he sounded, one could make out the studious nature of the teenager.

 

The next voice rang out, slightly croaky, and low. It was painted with the essence of manliness. Or that’s what Kirishima would say, Izuku thought.  “In the boy’s bathroom downstairs. He was… just laying there. And when I walked up to the guy, it was a lot worse than I expe-.”

 

“Hey guys?” Eijiro was interrupted by a much higher voice. One that was typically bubbly and positive, but was instead dripping with concern. Uraraka , she was the fastest to recognize, being Izuku’s closest friend. “He looks in pain…,” She thought for a quick moment as the others approached the bed. “Or like he’s concentrating or having a bad dream.” Izuku could nearly hear the frown that she undoubtedly was wearing. “De-Deku? Are you okay?” She ran a hand through his messy and thick hair.

 

Izuku felt his breath catch. Even when he was feeling like he had just been in a major fight with some crazy powerful and cruel villain, and his mind and heart were aching with the painful memories of his past, Ochako still could make him have butterflies. Izuku realized that had still yet to answer the girl, so he mustered out what he thought was the only thing his raw throat could manage, “H-hey.”

 

He heard the sharp gasp of surprise, and then felt the weight of another body on top of him as Ochako embraced him in a tight hug. “Deku!” At this, the young man tried to pry his eyes open once again, but only partly succeeded. The boy was grateful that the trio had been thoughtful and kept the lights switched off, only turning on the quant bathroom’s (possessing only a toilet and tiny sink.) He looked up at the smiling girl through his squinted eyes (which were threatening to flutter close any moment), who had now released him and leaned back to sit next to him. She made sure to keep contact with him, though, her hand gently laying just above the boy’s kneecap.

 

Tenya silently walked up to be next to Izuku, who was still laying down on his back. The glasses wearing student slipped his hand under his friend’s shoulders, helping him get into a sitting position. When he was leaning up against the headboard, a wet and slightly warm cloth fell from his forehead. I didn’t notice that before. It landed on his lap, and Tenya quickly grabbed it and Izuku watched as he put it in a plastic bowl that was on the nightstand. When did that get there? What’s going on? The accumulating questions did not help to ease his throbbing headache, serving to make it only worse and worse by the second.

 

He gazed up to see Ochako staring down, rubbing his leg in an attempt to provide some form of comfort. She was now silent, most likely thinking about something. What that something was, Izuku didn’t know. She’s sweet. Her slight motions slowly did end up easing some of his pain.

 

“How are you feeling, man?” Eijiro’s typically boisterous tone was laced with uneasiness. He was using the utmost caution to keep his voice quiet, something that Tenya had noticed during their discussion, finding the small act quite endearing. The red-head had discovered a sense of protectiveness over his green-haired friend, and he almost didn’t want to tell the others of what had happened earlier that morning ( almost ). He looked at Izuku, his fist clenched tightly as he bit his lip in nervousness, his eyebrows furrowed together.

 

“Um…,” Izuku didn’t overly know how to answer the inquiry. “What… um, what happened?” Eijiro’s mouth dropped open and his eyes seemed to bulge from his head. “I mean… Why are you all in my room?” He brought his hand up to rub his other arm as a sort of distraction.

 

Eijiro licked his top lip, formulating an answer. “Do… Do you seriously not remember what happened?” He thought back to when he was carrying Izuku, and the boy spoke out his name. “You don’t remember walking to the boy’s bathroom, or fainting in there? Or even me carrying you up here?” His expression portrayed a slight amount of hurt, and Izuku could still distinctly see the distress webbed into his features.

 

Surprise swallowed him, and then extreme guilt. “Wait… that all actually happened?” Doubt and fear were evident in his crestfallen face, and his shoulders drooped considerably. Izuku knew why it had happened - it’s not as if he could forget what day it was.

 

He knew what could happen on this day, and the days surrounding it. There was always the chance of shutting down entirely, much like he did when he found out about his… situation. His mom would often tell him about what would happen when he reverted into that embodiment of dread, but he would never overly remember the actual events. Just the feeling of being entrapped within his own past.

 

I can’t believe that my friends had to deal with that… Stomach acid began to climb its way up his throat, but he swallowed it back, not wanting to make the situation worse. His jaw trembled, tears threatening to spill, but he bit the inside of his cheek in an attempt to make both stop.

 

“Yea…,” Eijiro answered as everyone looked on to their friend as he stared down at his clenched, scarred fists. There was an obvious internal struggle.

 

“Hey, you never answered my question,” at this comment, Izuku’s head launched up, which proved to be a mistake when it aggravated his migraine further. He winced and cradled his head in one of his hands.

 

At this point, Ochako had already broken from her trance-like state in order to listen in to the conversation. And when she saw Izuku holding his head and groaning in pain, she came to full attention. “Deku!” She exclaimed, but then lowered her voice, not wanting to make the pain much worse. “Are you alright, Deku?” She tenderly placed her hand on his neck, near his jawline, making the littered freckles there stand out.

 

He nodded, and then answered, “Yea… my head just,” he scrunched his eyebrows together, “Hurts really bad. I think I may have moved it too fast.” He placed his own marred hand atop her soft one, leaning into the girl’s touch.

 

Feeling like they were interrupting something, the other two boys awkwardly turned away, beginning a discussion. “Do you think we should call Recovery Girl?” Eijiro felt apprehensive about doing so, but asked for the other’s opinion nonetheless.

 

“Well of course! He’s obviously sick, isn’t he?” The ever-confident and intelligent student answered. Tenya figured that surely Chiyo, the school’s nurse, would know what was ailing his friend.

 

“Well,” Eijiro wasn’t going to disagree that it would most likely be the best course of action, but he did feel as if this wouldn’t be as easy as the engine-quirk user had made it out to be. “I have never seen anyone cry so much when they’re sick… or just, you know, have the basic type of sickness.” I just think that we may be reading into this wrong.

 

“I think it’s still in our best interest to seek out Mrs. Recovery Girl,” Tenya countered, pushing up his glasses and whipping out his cell phone. “Ah, it’s still only 6:00, she may not be available quite yet.” He was slightly disheartened, but approached Izuku and Ochako, who had appeared to have parted, both having tints of pink staining their cheeks. Though, Izuku’s could’ve been chalked up to the illness. They had resumed their previous positions, Ochako lightly stroking his leg.

 

“Midoriya,” he started, causing the boy in question to look up at him, “Do you think you could wait until class starts to see Recovery Girl? It’s still fairly early in the morning and she not be prepared for patients at the moment.”

 

Izuku gasped, and then rapidly shot his blue-haired friend a question, “What time is it?!” His bloodshot (“ Wait, why are they bloodshot?” Tenya wondered.) eyes were wide and panicked.

 

“Almost 6am, why do you ask?” Tenya answered, his tone questioning and unsure. “What’s this about, Mi-”

 

“Oh no!” His voice was raspy when he spoke at the louder volume, and it sounded like his throat was being shred into ribbons, but he continued anyway, “I missed my training with All Might!” He launched himself out of the bed, throwing the multiple covers aside. He accidentally jarred Ochako in his movement, and her squeal was full of surprise.

 

Training with All Might?! Everyone’s mind screamed at them, but they put off the questioning for the moment. There were more important matters to deal with involving the boy.

 

He didn’t get far from the bed, and his knees began to buckle on the first step. Luckily Eijiro was swift to get to him before he collapsed. “Woah there, buddy. No training for you, alright? Just take it easy for today.”

 

This was the moment where Izuku finally took notice that Ochako and Eijiro were both still in their pajamas, the former wearing a pair of pastel pink pajama pants and a gray tee-shirt that had an elephant on it. The latter was wearing some basketball shorts and a tank top. Tenya was already dressed in his school uniform. That’s right; school. It’s Wednesday. “I have to get ready,” Izuku blurted without thinking.

 

Everyone looked beyond bewildered. “Didn’t you just hear what Kirishima said? Midoriya, pardon me if this comes off rude, but you have to rest. You’re sick!” Came Tenya, sounding ever-so-slightly exasperated.

 

Oh, so they think I’m sick-sick. It makes sense - it’s not like I’ve told them anything about it. And I won’t , they don’t need a burden like that. “It’s fine…,” Izuku fought within himself to make a reason as to why he should’ve been allowed to participate in class that day, “I’ll be fine, this is nothing. It’s not even contagious!” He gulped, knowing that his close friends were too intuitive to not see through his desperation. Izuku bit his lip and his tired eyes began to dart around the room, looking anywhere but at the other people.

 

“But, Deku,” Ochako’s sweet and tender voice almost made him crack, but he did his best to steel his uneasy resolve, “How do you know?”

 

“Um…,” Shoot, shoot, shoot, “I just do!” He tried to give a confident and reassuring smile, but it looked like an unsure grimace, his pain showing through. He immediately stopped, knowing that it only made the situation stickier.

 

He doesn’t even remember last night. How bad of condition he was in. How can even guess to know how bad this is? Eijiro almost felt angry. Angry that he couldn’t convince his friend, who was clearly aching in more ways than one, that he needed to relax and let himself recover. He wanted Izuku to get better , not worse. “Ur, Midoriya? How can you be sur-”

 

“Just!” He was abruptly interrupted by the typically even-tempered teenager, “Just, please. Don’t worry about it. I’ll be fine, and I’m going to class with everyone else, whether you like it or not.” I’m not letting something as stupid as this hold me back. The whole class would have argued with him about that, had they heard what he thought.

 

To say the least, the trio was taken aback by Izuku’s slight outburst. It was short, and he quickly calmed down, but it was so unlike him to let his… whatever get the best of him. Anger or anything else.Tenya, who was proving to be the levelhead at the moment, was the first to speak up, “Midoriya, if you’re this certain, then we won’t try to stop you. But I will personally keep an eye on you today, and I assume that Uraraka and Kirishima will do the same, and if a single thing looks like it will take a negative turn in regards to this ,” he gestured around him, “then I will immediately take you to Recovery Girl’s. No exceptions.” He came off stern, but that was to be expected.

 

Izuku felt cornered, but he was still glad that they were allowing him to go to class with them. “I won’t let anything happen,” he stated, nodding with determination. Eijiro slowly eased his hands off of Izuku’s shoulders, keeping them braced for a moment in fear that the boy would fall. He visibly relaxed when he looked stable enough, and dropped his hands down to his sides.

 

“Now as for you three,” The blue-haired teen looked at each one individually, “It may be in your best interest to get dressed and prepared for the day. You have less than 45 minutes.” His words sent Ochako and Eijiro into a frantic frenzy, both letting out exclamations of slight horror. The latter rushed out of the room, hollering his parting to the remaining three (something along the lines of, “Later, dudes! Gotta blast!”).

 

Tenya waved to Izuku, walking through the doorway after adding his own goodbye, “See you in a little bit, Midoriya.”

 

It was just Ochako and Izuku...alone. She had already hopped up from the bed and was settled in front of him. He looked away from the doorway and at her. She still wore an expression of distress, and it made him feel terrible. “I’m sorry, Urara-”

 

She quickly wrapped her small hands around his left, causing both of their faces to ignite. “Just be careful! Okay? We are all worried. I just don’t want you to make this harder on yourself. And I know, I can tell Deku, that this isn’t normal. And I may not know what’s going on, but you can always come to me when you need someone to talk to. Or when you just want a hug, I’m here for you. Any time, anywhere.” I’m concerned for you. Because I care for you deeply, Deku. Because I love you.

 

She released his hand all too soon, and looked up into his conflicted green orbs. She flashed him a smile, and brought her phone out from her pocket to wave it in front of her as she left the dorm room, closing the door softly behind her. “I’ll always be available for you, just let me know.” That’s what the message meant, and Izuku heard it loud and clear.

Thank you, Ochako.

Tears pricked at the corners of his eyes, and he blinked them back with a sniff, rubbing his eyes vigorously with his forearm. He began to rummage through his dresser, piecing together his uniform. He held one of the layers up, checking for major wrinkles. Another day, huh?

Chapter Text

It came as no surprise to Izuku that his body felt that it had been packed full of lead, moving sluggishly as he and his classmates walked together to the campus’s main school building. He began to lag behind less than five minutes into the small trek. He did his best to seem unbothered by his body’s current weakness, but his three closest friends could tell that things were somewhat amiss.

 

Ochako and Iida did their best to ignore the situation, both knowing what was ailing Izuku, but Shouto had been left out of the loop of that morning’s earlier happenings. His stoic and calm voice hung in the crisp air. “Midoriya, is some-”

 

“I’m fine, Todoroki, please don’t worry,” It was quick, and unexpected, but his voice wasn’t full of anger or annoyance. (If Shouto were to be honest, it was flat and carried nearly no emotion, virtually the opposite of his friend’s typical nature.) Everyone in the group was caught off guard, even those who had known of the predicament of Izuku.

 

Shouto, confused, rapidly looked towards Tenya and Ochako, seeking answers, but they both turned their heads in the other direction, the latter sheepishly rubbing the base of her neck. He held a breath, and veered his attention towards the path in front of him. “Alright,” He answered back to Izuku. Alright. For now.

 

The group of second-years continued their journey towards Yueii, an uncomfortable silence lingering within the atmosphere. They entered the building, on the surface prepared for class, but each carried a deep apprehension in their hearts.

 


 

Tenya was the first to strut into the nearly vacant classroom, his usual declarative demeanor masking his worry. Fumikage cast him a glance before returning to his conversation with Mashirao and Mezo. The class-representative conducted himself as usual, sauntering over to the trio to scold Fumikage for sitting (once-again) on the desks.

 

Shouto was already in his seat by the time Tenya was deep in the discussion with the dark-shadow-quirk user. He could hear the small laughter of some of the others in the room.

He gazed at the doorway, noticing how both Ochako and Izuku had yet to walk in. He silently watched as the girl brushed her hand against the boy’s, speaking to him. As hard as he tried, Shouto couldn’t make out the words, but he could clearly see the shaky smile and brief, tense nod that was Izuku’s answer.

 

“Will you be alright, Deku?”  

 

The green-haired teen took a step forward, his wobbling grin wavering, but he ultimately stopped mid-process, his foot halfway through the doorway. “What are you? A nanny?” A cruel snicker erupted across the room, the crass voice belonging to none other than Katsuki Bakugou. He was sitting slouched in his chair, feet propped up on another chair, a smirk plastered on his smug face.

 

In the next moment, Tenya was stomping over to the boy, words describing his classmate’s inappropriate manners. Eijiro, who was already standing next to the violent boy, looked towards him, mentioning, “Hey, man, that was kind of uncalled for. He wasn’t even talking to you.” He raised an eyebrow, sweating nervously.

 

Opposite to them, Izuku stumbled back, a choked noise escaping from his throat. He tripped over his feet, falling backwards. Luckily, Ochako was still behind him, and she had already mentally braced herself for something like this. Her reaction was fast, catching Izuku in her arms before he even came close to the floor. His back was to her, but she could still imagine his frightened expression. Quickly, she jogged around him so that she could face him. Placing her hands on his shoulders, she could feel his body quaking.

 

“Hey, hey, Deku? Are you alright?” She whispered as quiet as possible, but she could still feel the eyes on her back. He had been frozen and dazed, his eyes wide and shocked. “Deku?” She moved so she could like right up at him. The gasp was audible as it left his mouth, putting even more unwanted attention on them.

 

As she was awaiting his answer, she could hear the footsteps approaching from the hall; the other students were arriving. She heard Denki ask, “Yo, what’s wrong with Midoriya?” However, she focused her attention on her friend.

 

“Deku, I need you to answer me,” Now Shouto was behind her. She could tell from the slight and frequent fluctuations in temperature that he would subconsciously make when he got nervous or worried. (No one had the heart to tell him about it.) She tried to ignore it and began to gently rub Izuku’s shoulder.

 

He finally looked down at her, gazing into her eyes. “I’m-” He cleared his throat, “I’m fine.” Ochako didn’t overly believe him, but she supposed that they would have to talk about it later, after class. There was a group of people in front of them that was trying to get into the classroom, after all.

 

She released his right shoulder and slipped her right hand down to his left hand. Izuku stared down at their conjoined hands, a miniscule frown on his face. Ochako, pulled him to the side, and their classmates passed by, entering the room. Most entered silently, but some of the class jokesters let out little suggestive “oohs and aahs”. And still, a few sent concerned glances, which both Izuku and Ochako tried to ignore. Momo even approached on her way past and asked if they were all right (to which Ochako answered positively to).

 

The gravity-altering-quirk user continued to grasp her friend’s hand, and stepped closer to him. She spoke counseling words, and told him to let her know if he needed to leave. She made sure to add, “Anytime --it doesn’t matter when.”

 

He opened his mouth to let her know that he would (but he would never actually hold the truth to that statement), but from inside the classroom a malicious voice spoke out instead. “Hey, four eyes,” He made sure that the two in the hallway could hear him clearly, “What’s wrong with the stupid nerd out there? Does he need his idiot girly-friend to hold his hand all day?” His following cackle could be heard, along with many people’s shouts of protest against his behavior.

 

Ochako looked from the doorway back to Izuku. “He-” Her voice quivered, “Hey, d-don’t lis-isten to h-him, ‘kay, D-deku?” Her eyes trembled with fear and sadness when she felt Izuku wriggle his hand free from hers. She looked up at him, her mouth slightly agape, and saw how he was wearing a fake and trembling smile. But his eyes gave all of his emotions away. Ochako bit her lip as tears stang her eyes. She refused to let them fall in front of Izuku; the one who was hurting more than anyone. But why? She asked herself.

 

The tormenting voice thundered again. “Oi, Deku! Why don’t you show yourself, you stupid coward! Too scared to even come to school, huh?!” Katsuki’s sneer leaked of his unexplainable animosity towards Izuku. Slamming his palm down on his desk, he marred the surface with the explosions that burst from under his hand. He let out an inhuman chortle, one that chilled everyone to the bones. He relished in his twisted mirth, causing everyone to send him disgusted stares. He was enjoying this. When he saw the green-haired student emerge from the hallway, and the boy’s downcast eyes, however, his laughter caught in his throat. His mouth shut closed, making a popping noise. He snapped forward, slumping against his desk, scowling at anything and everything. He didn’t even spare a glance at the boy as he took a seat behind him. So maybe he wasn’t?

 

After this, everyone awkwardly shuffled to their seats, a few late students rushing through the doors (earning a lecture from Tenya). Ochako made one last stop by Izuku’s desk, brushing his shoulder, then leaving to take a seat. Only a few noticed the exchange. After that, Shouta Aizawa came trudging into the class, just a few moments before the class bell rang. He didn’t point out how Izuku was hiding his face in a tangle of his arms. But he did see the glare that Katsuki shot him. “Don’t even start, Bakugou,” He snarled in his usual manner.

 

Katsuki was quiet for the rest of the class period. And so was Izuku. There was barely a word written down in his notes.

 


 

Katsuki Bakugou hated everything about the situation. His anger was always boiling well past the point of acceptable, but it got close to sending him over the edge everytime that stupid nerd started acting like that. Throughout the years that they had been in the same class, he had noticed that (as much as he despised the fact that he paid enough attention) Izuku would always act… different around this time of year. Sometimes it started earlier than last year, or maybe went longer, but Katsuki knew the central time frame. If he had cared any about that quirkless nobody, than he would’ve most likely legitimately wondered what was bugging him.

 

But he found that Deku became even more of a pest when this month happened to roll around. He was all mopy and never talked to anyone. He would even skip school! The gall of that idiot! He wouldn’t even fight back; how annoying. It pissed off Katsuki, that’s for sure. He just wanted to beat that nerd senseless. He would tell him to grow up and shake off whatever was happening. But he wasn’t going to sully himself by holding a semi-normal conversation with Izuku. So he coped with it by treating his childhood “friend” with even more cruelty.

 


 

It seemed as if half of the students were ready to fall asleep on the spot, slouching on their desks and eyelids growing heavier by the minute. Eijiro actually did end up having to be rudely awoken by Aizawa earlier in the day. Although, Tenya, Ochako, and Izuku couldn’t blame him. He had been up nearly all night (which gave the green-eyed hero in training an immeasurable amount of guilt).

 

“Alright! In your hero costumes everyone!” All Might (Izuku referred to him as Toshinori in private) hollered to the dozing class. His announcement caused an eruption of whoops and cheers from the now enthusiastic teenagers.

 

“HECK YEAH!” Denki screeched, jumping up from his desk, knocking over his chair in the process. “I’ve been waiting for this all day! TRAINING! TRAINING!” Many others joined him in the chant, simultaneously marching to the locker rooms. Their bored faces were eliminated by the bright smiles that they wore on the way to change.

 

The less exuberant students trailed behind, some making small-talk, others silently walking side by side. Shouto was surprised when Eijiro joined his group (Ochako, Tenya, Izuku, and himself), the red-head wordlessly striding next to the fire-and-ice wielder. Shouto cast him glance, to which Eijiro responded with a half-hearted and lopsided smile. The group of five continued to the locker rooms, Ochako staying conspicuously close to the lagging Izuku.

 

When they parted to change in their appropriate locker rooms, Shouto noted that he would need to keep an eye on his tired friend. Shouto also tried to tell himself that Izuku was just tired. That’s right. Tired and nothing more. But, within his heart, he knew that he wouldn’t believe himself.

 

The chatter inside of the boy’s room was lively as ever, nearly every student more than prepared to train with the past number one hero. The excited voices of Denki, Minoru (who just had to make some dirty comments about their female classmates), and Hanta could be heard throughout the entire 10-minute change period. The quieter ones were typically out of the locker area first, and today was no different in that matter.

Shouto made sure to slip on his outfit as quick as possible, for reasons he couldn’t place. He felt a sort of anxiety and urgency brewing in his chest. As he sat on one of the benches to slip on his boots, he noticed how Izuku gathered his costume and walked to the bathroom stalls to change. He never did that. No one did. The red and white haired student placed his hand on his chin, thinking as he waited for his green-haired friend. He’s taking longer than usual.

 

He started to bounce his legs and twitch his fingers when the talkative trio sauntered out of the room, still babbling up a storm. His eyes darted to his watch (Momo had given it to him on his last birthday), and his nervousness increased. Only a minute left before training.

 


 

Izuku stood frozen and unmoving in the dark stall, only the main suit of his costume on. He couldn’t get the images or voices to vanish from his head. You can’t be a hero , they all said. And when he looked in the mirror, he believed them. That wasn’t a hero he was staring at. It was a weak-hearted and whiny boy who could never do anything for the world. He was useless.

 

“Yah, that Katsuki is right. You are useless,” the nameless boy snickered, kicking Izuku in the shin. Izuku had been minding his own business, walking home from school on a regular Tuesday afternoon. He hissed through his teeth, the impact from the blow knocking him back on his heels. He was able to keep from falling, but he could already tell that it would make a nasty bruise. But I’ve had worse, he had thought with a slight bitterness.

 

The boy, and his two friends behind him, were glaring at Izuku now. He had realized throughout the years that some people prefer it when their victims stay silent, while others (like Katsuki) liked when they fought back. It gave a better reason to kick them around. This boy had only picked on Izuku a couple of times, so he had no clue which way to go about this. He only knew that each time it got worse.

 

Izuku gulped, and with one of his books cradled in his arms, he slowly began to move backwards. But a clean getaway was not in his future.

 

“Hey, Yamada, ‘ya got the the stuff?” This Yamada kid grinned devilishly, handing the first boy a pouch. While he was uncinching the bag, Izuku got a look at the warning label. “Dangerous. Do not aim at others and animals.”

 

Crap. Holy crap. He turned around completely and ran as fast as his legs could take him.

 

“Not fast enough,” a voice called out to him, just as there was a sharp and burning shock on Izuku’s back. Behind it, followed more, each one packing a painful sting that made Izuku’s back tense up. When one bounced off his shoulder, not producing the same ache as the others, he was able to glance at it before it hit the ground. They were throwing firecrackers at him. Freaking FIRECRACKERS.

 

He wanted to stop running and curl up into a ball, but he couldn’t imagine what they would do then. So he kept going, trying to ignore the agony in his back and the burning of his lungs and legs. All at once, the assault stopped. Izuku looked back, his speed declining as a result, to see the trio stopped on the sidewalk .

 

“This isn’t the last time you’ll see me! Oi useless?!” The ‘lead’ boy hollered, cupping his hands around his mouth. His voice projected so much that Izuku felt like he was screeching directly into his ear. As he got farther away, closer to home, he noticed the tan bag neglected and forgotten on the ground. It wasn’t until earlier that evening that he realized they only stopped because they ran out of ammunition.

 

When he came home, he had gray powder falling from his uniform, white splotches spiraling across the back of the black shirt. He made sure to silently sneak into the apartment and into the laundry area. Even though he was aching everywhere and just wanted to be held in his mother’s arms, he knew he couldn’t let his mom know what happened. She has too much to worry about. No need to be dumping this on her.

 

He discarded his school uniform in the laundry, and slipped into sweats and a tee-shirt. The feeling of the fabric sliding against the burns hurt so much that he wanted to scream, but he bit his lip to keep from crying out. In the bathroom, he splashed his face with cold water, trying his hardest to ignore the pain. He refused to look at his back in the mirror, opting to grab a glass of water instead.

 

He strolled into the kitchen, clenching his fists to keep the tears from coming. Every movement hurt. “Hey, sweetie. How was school?” His sweet mother asked as she chopped some vegetables for dinner. “You were out later than usual. Did you find a new friend?” She flashed him the brightest and purest smile, and his heart tumbled in misery at the thought of telling her what happened.

 

“Hey mom,” Izuku answered, waving at her and giving her a small and fake grin, “Yea, something like that.” He was lying straight through his teeth, but he was not willing to let his mom catch on to anything that was happening at school.

 

“Oh, that’s good, darling,” She didn’t sound entirely convinced, but went back to cutting the veggies. Izuku walked up to the cupboard, swinging the cabinet door open and standing on his tiptoes to reach a glass. The process of stretching out  sent his back into uncontained agony. He gasped, and quickly retrieved what he wanted.

 

Inko cast her son a questioning look, which he responded to with, “Ah, I almost tripped. Didn’t want to drop the cup.” He gave a sheepish laugh, and walked to the sink to fill his glass from the tap, trying to avoid his mother’s concerned gaze.

 

“Well, I’m going to go take a shower before dinner,” He had said to his mother, before stiffly waving. He walked off and entered the bathroom, Inko’s worry growing ever stronger.

 

Izuku abruptly shut and locked the door. He downed his cup of water, setting the empty glass down on the counter with a clink. He huffed and grabbed a towel, starting the shower shortly after. He went for cooler water, considering the day’s earlier events. After he was satisfied with the temperature, he hopped in, the water cascading down his sore body as he cringed in pain.

 

He could never forget the pain of having water hit freshly made burns, or how difficult it was to stay hushed throughout the process of bathing.


Izuku didn’t realize that he had started to claw at his back, irritating the not-so-old scars left from that day. He still didn’t know those boys’ names. He lowered his hands to his side, letting out a long sigh. Now is not the time to get caught up in stupid memories, he tried to tell himself. Bending down to slip on his bright red shoes, it seemed like he could still feel the ache of his old sores.

 

It was at this point that he finally noticed the knocking on the stall door and the calling of his name. “Midoriya?! Are you alright?” It was Shouto, panicked and urgently trying to get Izuku’s attention. Izuku tried to find his voice, his throat feeling raw, but all that came out was a strangled gurgle. At this point, anyone could tell that Shouto was nearly hysterical. He was sweating and his voice was far too loud and jumpy. “I’m going to freeze off the lock, okay?!” But his concern was still admirable.

 

Just as Shouto began to activate his quirk, Izuku was able to let out a croaky response. “I-I’m fin-fine, Todo-Todoroki!” His voice was cracking all over, but it was enough to make his friend stop dead in his tracks.

 

“Midoriya!” Shouto sounded overjoyed, “You’re alright?” He asked again, which felt like the umpteenth time to him. “It’s already 5 minutes past changing time. One of the teachers will come in here any moment to see if everything is okay,” He still spoke unnecessarily loud, but the situation wasn’t exactly ideal for calmness, either.

 

“What?! Really?!” That was the loudest that Izuku had spoken all day. He didn’t wait for an answer and rushed to put the rest of his costume on. It took only a solid 30 seconds, and he hurriedly unlatched the door. Luckily Shouto had thought to move out of the way beforehand, because the stall door rapidly flung open, hitting the wall. Out came Izuku, running towards the locker room exit.

 

Both of the students’ eyes were wide, for the same, and yet different, reasons. Although Shouto was relieved to see that his friend was alright for the time-being, he knew he didn’t have much time before the teachers would barge in. Sprinting to catch up to Izuku, Shouto decided that he would confront the boy after class. But he stayed focused on the moment at hand, keeping pace with Izuku as they reached the exit.

 

Blinded by the sunlight that enveloped them, Shouto and Izuku were caught off guard by the bellow of their names. “Young Midoriya! Young Todoroki! You’re late !” Toshinori wasn’t typically the one to scold, but he did sound slightly upset.

 

“So-sorry!” Every person present was astonished to hear Izuku speak, especially with any sort of volume above a quiet whisper. He had been nearly silent all day. He shuffled into the group of people, finding a place next to Ochako. Shouto wasn’t far behind and stopped jogging right after him.

 

“Hmmph,” Toshinori had been extremely distressed by his successor’s behavior. He had missed daily training and hadn’t spoken a word to him (about the training, or anything in general). So he found it easy in his heart to move on from the fact that Izuku and Shouto had been late. “Alright, let’s get started!” He hollered, getting the attention of the heroes-in-training.

 

His plan was to get through the exercise without a hitch. But, as it would seem, the world had it in for Izuku.