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see the world hanging upside down

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The room they were being kept in was dark and cramped. Naked concrete was rough against Izuku’s bare arms. He was sitting on the floor, left leg tucked in and right leg out, back against the wall. It was dim enough that he couldn’t see the rest of the room very well. Not that he needed to. By his estimations, they had been there for four or five days—more than enough time to memorize the room they were trapped in.

The one thin blanket they had to share between them was wrapped around Izuku’s shoulders. It provided a modicum of comfort, and he pulled it tighter around himself, the rough texture unpleasant against his skin, but better than letting the chill set in too deep.

The connection to the concrete, as cold as it was, helped keep him grounded. He could not allow himself to get lost inside his own head, and he couldn’t afford to pay much attention to the pain emanating from his right ankle.

The villains had gone after their mobility as their measure to keep the two heroes-in-training from escaping. If they couldn’t walk, they couldn’t escape. And Izuku… well. It would be nigh miraculous if his ankle could be fully repaired after this.

Footsteps and voices echoing down the hallway caught his attention. He lifted his head, and a shaft of dinghy yellow light split the room as the door opened. It illuminated the drain in the middle of the room and the dark stains on the floor. People stepped into it, silhouettes, and they shoved another person into the room and closed the door.

Todoroki’s left leg couldn’t support his weight, and Izuku scrambled to try and catch him before he hit the ground. His ankle screamed in protest. He ignored it.

The other boy’s breath was labored. They remained there, in their awkward positions on the floor for a few moments, listening to each other breathe. Todoroki’s breath rasped in his throat and caught somewhere deep in his lungs. Izuku pressed his face closer to the other boy’s body, trying to listen better. His breaths sounded wet.

“I’m okay,” Todoroki whispered, voice breathy. Izuku shook his head.

“Bullshit,” he replied. “But you will be. Come on. This isn’t a very comfortable position.”

The two of them shifted to the back of the room, biting their lips and swallowing back pained noises as they jostled broken legs and various bruises and cuts and abrasions from the last few days. There was something wrong with Todoroki’s breathing. Something very, very wrong.

“What did they do this time?” Izuku asked, doing his best in the dim light to look over Todoroki.

“Same thing. They’re not very creative,” he paused to take a breath, “with their torture methods.” His eyebrows furrowed for a moment as he thought. “It seems like they’re less after… information now, and more just… causing pain.”

Izuku nodded, humming. “Do you mind if I touch your sides? You’re having trouble breathing.”

“I think they broke a couple of my ribs,” Todoroki replied.

“Oh no,” Izuku whispered. “Shit. Uh… complete or incomplete?”

“I’m not sure,” he said. “Go ahead and check.”

Izuku took a deep breath. “Okay.” He reached towards Todoroki and gently lifted his shirt. He couldn’t make out much with the light conditions, so he held the shirt up with one hand and gently, ever-so-carefully reached and touched first feather-light, and then more solidly, Todoroki’s side. The other boy hissed and clenched his teeth while Izuku carefully investigated the area.

“It doesn’t feel like anything’s displaced here,” he said. “The other side?”

“Yeah, check it,” Todoroki gasped.

Izuku didn’t bother with getting up and hobbling around to the other side, instead reaching across his chest. If they hadn’t already spent days locked together and tending each other’s injuries as best they could, they’d probably both feel more blushy and embarrassed about the positions and the intimacy of this process.

As it was, they were just tired.

Todoroki’s right side was, as always, cold compared to his left side. Recently, as in about the past twelve to twenty-four hours, the difference had started feeling more drastic.

“Your hand’s warm,” Todoroki ground out as Izuku checked his ribs. He hummed in reply, and then froze as he felt something. His fingers ghosted over the spot and Todoroki bit back a hiss. There was a depression underneath his fingers.

“Do your best not to move,” he said. “This one feels broken off.”

“Well, fuck.”

“We could try using the blanket to bind it,” Izuku murmured.

“That would require moving,” Todoroki replied. “And we haven’t quite gotten that far in class yet.”

Izuku nodded. “You’re right. We’d probably only make it worse.”

They sat there, quiet together, for a few moments, listening to each other’s breath. Someone was yelling outside their room, the voice distorted and muffled. No words were comprehensible.

“I hope Tenya’s okay,” Todoroki whispered. He had been a common topic of their whispered conversations, sometimes as they confessed a twisted wish that he was there with them, most of the time as they thanked whatever god might be listening that he wasn’t.

“The rest of the class will be taking care of him. And Uraraka, Tsuyu, Yaoyorozu, and Tokoyami,” Izuku replied.

“Yeah, the Dekusquad has his back,” Todoroki said. Izuku smiled and shook his head.

“I still can’t believe they call us that,” he said. “It’s all Ashido’s fault. She’s the one who started it with ‘Bakusquad’.”

They fell quiet again. Izuku focused in on Todoroki’s breathing. It wasn’t any worse, but it wasn’t better, either. He curled up into Todoroki’s side, careful not to jostle the broken ribs, and soaked up the heat of his left side as he wrapped an arm around him.

“I think you might have a fever,” Todoroki said. “You’re too warm.”

Izuku nodded. “Feels sort of like it.” Both of them were steadily running out of time. If their captors didn’t decide to kill them, then the broken ribs would. And if by some miracle Todoroki’s broken ribs didn’t kill him, then the infections they both knew were settling in would.

“So what dumb prank do you think Kaminari pulled today?” Izuku asked, trying to shake off the previous thoughts.

“Not sure,” Todoroki replied. “Maybe he switched around everyone’s shampoo or something.”

Izuku bit his lip as a thought occurred to him. “What if he put hair dye in Kacchan’s?”

“Then I would hope he doesn’t fear death,” Todoroki stated.

“Of course he doesn’t,” Izuku replied. “He’s pranked Aizawa-sensei.”

He could feel Todoroki shake his head. “Sensei wouldn’t. Bakugo? Would.”

Izuku hummed in agreement. “Yeah, you’re right. He likes us too much, even if he’d deny ever having affection for anyone.” He closed his eyes for a moment to listen to Todoroki’s breathing again. The room was quiet again as they both pursued their own thoughts.

At some point, Izuku managed to fall asleep, half-consciously curling up on the floor and using Todoroki’s thigh as a pillow. Todoroki placed a hand on his head, fingers threading through the curls of his hair. It was familiar, even as they were both sick and in pain on the floor of some sort of storage room in some sort of warehouse with torture-happy villains. Todoroki spent a lot of time playing with his boyfriends’ hair.

Izuku woke up sometime later, Todoroki’s hand still in his hair. He blinked the sleep from his eyes and shifted so he could look up at Todoroki’s face.

“Hey,” Todoroki said. His breathing sounded worse.

“Hey,” Izuku whispered. “How long?”

“At least an hour. Less than two,” Todoroki replied.

He blinked. “Did you get any?”

“No.”

Izuku reached up with his left hand, brushing the back of his knuckles against red hair. Todoroki closed his eyes, and Izuku reached around to cup his face with both hands, running his fingers through bi-colored locks as he tried to commit the feeling to memory.

The hollow, hurting feeling in his chest filled with dread. He pushed it aside.

“We should try to escape again,” he whispered. Todoroki opened his eyes.

“We’re hurt. Badly.”

“And if you don’t get the medical help that these villains don’t seem inclined to give, you’ll die,” Izuku replied. “I’ll die too, maybe.”

“Our legs. My chest,” Todoroki said. Izuku grabbed his left hand and wrapped both of his own around it.

“We do our best to stabilize your chest. Use the blanket. If we wrap my ankle well enough, I could carry you. We just… break the wall and run.”

“They caught us last time, and we still had useable legs then. How would we keep that from happening this time?”

Izuku sighed. “I don’t know. But we need to try.”

Todoroki was silent.

“I don’t want to do nothing and watch you die,” Izuku whispered. “I don’t want to watch you die here. And… I don’t want to die here.”

“Okay,” Todoroki whispered back. “As Kaminari would say… YOLO.”

Izuku huffed, amused. “Never use that word again.” He grabbed the blanket from around Todoroki’s shoulders and started tearing a strip off. Working together, they did their best to try and stabilize Todoroki’s chest. Next was Izuku’s ankle.

It was already wrapped in an old t-shirt that had been thrown in the room with them for that purpose. They didn’t unwrap it, unsure of whether they really wanted to open that can of worms—or rather, broken bones—at that time. Izuku could ignore the pain from the laceration on his back, had been for a while, but his ankle?

He’d just have to deal with it.

They wrapped it as tightly as they could. Izuku bit down on his shirt as they did and tried his hardest not to let any pained whines escape. He didn’t succeed. His ankle felt like something was burning it from the inside out.

“I think that’s as good as we’re going to get it,” Todoroki said. Izuku nodded and stood up, using the wall to brace himself as he put his injured foot down. He whined, but kept from crying out, as it took his weight. The next few minutes were going to be hell.

(It would beat spending the next few hours listening to his boyfriend struggling to breathe, listening to his boyfriend dying.)

Izuku helped Todoroki to stand. Their movements were slow and cautious, doing their best not to make Todoroki’s ribs worse.

Getting Todoroki onto his back was an interesting feat. They had to work around all of their injuries, but they managed it, and eventually Todoroki was situated as comfortably as conditions allowed.

“Ready?” Izuku whispered, injured leg still up.

“Ready,” Todoroki replied. Izuku glared at the door and activated Full Cowl. The green light illuminated the room and he charged for the door, ignoring the screaming in his ankle, and smashed it open.

Security had lightened up on them once their mobility had been compromised. There were only two guards in the hallway, opposed to the six there had been last time.

Izuku let Todoroki’s fire handle them and focused on running. This time, all that mattered was getting away, so he lifted his left arm and readied a full smash. They were going through the walls.

The recoil of the smash knocked Izuku’s arm back, but the attack did what it was meant to and there was a couple fewer walls between them and freedom.

…Even if there was now rubble in their way.

He switched to a different finger and readied another one. It was a large building, and unfortunately neither of them had any idea what the floorplans were like. It was probably also well out-of-the-way of most heroes’ standard patrol routes. Backup was unlikely.

Izuku would just have to keep running, then.

He heard shouts approaching. His feet, one bare and one wrapped, pounded against the floor. His ankle was one big void of pain.

Another flick, and another wall went down, releasing them into something that looked like a loading bay. They’d have to cross the whole room to reach the outside wall, and that room was not empty.

Todoroki’s fingers dug into Izuku’s shoulders. As they ran past a truck, he reached out and trailed his right hand along it, freezing it and throwing up a barrier behind them. It held as they ran. Izuku raised his hand again and let off a third blast, clearing their path and blowing open the bay door he had aimed at.

He gritted his teeth and forced the power gradient up another couple notches. He would regret this later, but if they escaped then at least there could be a later.

They dashed out through the broken bay door and into the early-morning twilight. The sky was just beginning to color in the east. At least they were still somewhat in the city and not in some remote shipping facility. There was a chance they might get help.

He compensated almost subconsciously for the way Todoroki’s weight shifted when he flung his left arm out to cut off their pursuers. Several of them cried out, unable to dodge the flames. Izuku ignored them.

Todoroki shifted his weight again as they ran out onto the road and Izuku turned to run towards the city. He shifted like he was about to send flames in to the sky—oh. A signal.

Hopefully someone would notice that giant fireball, if they hadn’t noticed the commotion. The heat from the flare washed over them as he pushed himself to keep going.

Engines roared as several villains on motorcycles blazed onto the road.

“Jump!” Todoroki shouted.

Izuku obeyed and watched what looked like a metallic lock of hair hit the road and sink in several inches a couple feet in front of them. Izuku landed a few inches beyond it and forced the power gradient up again.

He listened to Todoroki’s commands for when and how to dodge. The adrenaline flooding through him overrode the pain, even, somewhat, that of his ankle.

“When I say, turn and aim a smash for the one on the black motorcycle,” Todoroki said.

“Okay,” Izuku gasped. Todoroki’s weight shifted, and then.

“Now!”

Izuku took one more step with his right foot and turned his hips as he planted his left foot. He had a second or two to pull this off. The moment both feet were on the ground, he aimed and fired.

He didn’t wait and see. His weight shifted onto his left foot and he brought his right leg around. He pushed off with his left leg and was running again.

It looked like they might, just maybe, be able to make it.

A loud crack split the air, and something hit Izuku’s side. He fell. Todoroki fell with him. That couldn’t be good for his ribs.

His side burned.

“Did you really think I would be letting you two get away from me that easily?” someone asked.

Oh. It was him. The ringleader. Izuku shifted, searching for Todoroki. He was still on the ground, eyes narrowed with pain or determination. He moved, and quick as a flash, there was a wall of ice between them and the villain.

Izuku’s side was bleeding, and now he was having breathing problems too.

“Shatterglass, if you would.”

A crackling sound, and then a flash of yellow light as Todoroki’s ice shattered into thousands of tiny shards. Izuku started struggling to his feet.

“Do stop that,” the villain requested. “We’d rather one of you be kept alive. I could toss a coin. Periwinkle? You have a coin, don’t you, love?”

Oh, yes. The ring leader’s battle harem. Vague impressions of the members flitted through Izuku’s head. The one on the black motorcycle—that had been one of them. Now Shatterglass and Periwinkle. How many of them were there, again?

“I do,” a woman’s voice replied. Izuku did his best to look at them, to focus, to plan, to do something.

Periwinkle handed over a coin, her skin strikingly dark next to the ringleader’s. Her eyes were glassy.

The ringleader examined the coin. “What do you say? Heads, Midoriya, tails, Todoroki?”

“Sounds good to me,” A white-haired woman replied, her eyes similarly glassy. The ringleader prepared to flip the coin.

An arrow wreathed in golden light streaked in from somewhere behind Izuku, striking the ground between the villains and Izuku and Todoroki.

The ground shook as Ryukyu landed, placing herself in front of Izuku and Todoroki, facing the villains.

He turned, eyes searching for Todoroki again. Todoroki was having trouble breathing, but he was conscious, his focus on Izuku. Their gazes met for a moment.

“We did it, Shouto,” Izuku whispered, before blacking out.