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Aizawa inhales sharply as he is pulled out of sleep.

There's a knocking at his door.

He realizes his surroundings and presses his face into a pillow. Too hesitant to be interpreted as a threat, he decides.

Again, the knocking, a bit more pronounced and definitely more forceful, but still hesitant.

Christ. Aizawa rolls over and out of his bed. They don't pay him enough for this.

He cracks the door open and catches sight of one Todoroki Shouto, hair mussed and eyes bleary but alert, wearing only a white tee shirt and shorts with no shoes. He retains his usual composure, albeit a bit sluggish, but what can be expected when it's...

Aizawa swings the door open behind himself and glances at a digital clock. Three in the morning. He becomes a bit more alert as he realizes that something might be wrong. He sighs through his nose and glances down tiredly at the young man in front of him. "What's the matter?"

Todoroki shuffles a bit uncertainly. "Sorry to wake you, I know it's very late."

"Get on with it."

"Bakugou's room is directly above mine, and I think he's pretty sick," Todoroki says. He rubs at his face. There are deep bags under his eyes - he looks like a tired kid. He is a tired kid.

Aizawa feels a little twinge in his chest and drudges up what little patience he has. "What makes you think so?"

Todoroki regards him with muted caution and wary eyes. He blinks slowly. "I've woken up a few times to some noises. I think he's crying."

Aizawa feels a bit of worry start to stir in his chest. Now that the grogginess has somewhat worn off, he realizes the abnormality of the situation. Todoroki isn’t one to waste his time, and Bakugou crying? The world must be ending, he thinks dryly.

He exhales and plucks the keys from the bowl on a shelf just inside the door, pulling the door closed behind him. "Alright. I'll go check on it.”

They begin the walk to the elevator, Todoroki's bare feet nearly silent, and Aizawa realizes he isn't wearing shoes himself. It's too late, though, and he can't bring himself to care all that much, though the tile floor is cold on the soles of his feet.

They reach the elevator and the ride up is silent, not awkward, just tired. Aizawa leans against the rail in the back of the car and Todoroki slumps against the wall, punching the floor numbers with his thumb. Aizawa glances at his student, guard down. Three AM is for sleeping, not rides in elevators.

The elevator reaches the floor with a soft buzz and a gentle jolt.

"Thank you for letting me know," Aizawa speaks into the fluorescent of the elevator car. Todoroki nods mutely, exhaustion prominent. "Get some rest," Aizawa says, patting the kid on the shoulder for good measure.

The doors slide shut and Aizawa is left alone for a brief moment until he reaches the floor above.

All doors are closed, and he realizes that it's odd to see. The students tend to leave their doors open, mingling and milling about as they please in their downtime and off days, so to have all doors shut is a new sight to him.

It takes him about mid-hallway to hear the unmistakable sound of retching, muffled and coming from the end of the hall.

He knocks lightly on Bakugou's door, able to clearly hear the choked sounds of sickness. "Bakugou," he says quietly after a few seconds.

"I'm fine," comes the hasty reply, groaned out and too weak for Aizawa's liking.

He sighs and winces at a particularly loud gag, pulling out his masterkey and sliding it into the door handle. "I'm coming in."

It smells like vomit and hair gel and sleep. The room is dim, lit only by a single hazy desk lamp on a bedside table. Leaning in, Aizawa is able to make out the trembling form Bakugou, hunched over in the small half-bathroom, gripping the edge of the toilet with white knuckles. With raised eyebrows, Aizawa notes the small pool of vomit on the bedsheets and the sweat on his student's flushed face.

"I said I was fine," Bakugou rasps, glaring at him with half-lidded eyes.

Jesus. Aizawa lets the situation sink in for a second before stepping inside and pulling the door shut quietly behind him. It seems like he won’t be going back to sleep anytime soon. He crosses to the window and slides it open in the hopes of airing the stuffy, thick-smelling room out with the gentle night breeze.

Bakugou hunches over the toilet bowl again and heaves, strained and thready, back trembling through his tee-shirt. He visibly tenses and curls up with a painful-looking retch as a thin ribbon of bile drops out of his mouth.

Aizawa makes his way into the bathroom and peers into the toilet bowl. No doubt repulsive, but not the worst thing he's ever seen.

Bakugou finishes off his round of heaving with a repressed, miserable whine through his teeth and leans his head against folded arms across the toilet seat, panting.

"When did you start to feel ill?" Aizawa asks.

"Yesterday," Bakugou mumbles hoarsely. He shakes violently, whole-body tremors seizing his frame.

"You've got extra sheets?"

"Bottom drawer," Bakugou wheezes before lurching for the toilet bowl again.

Aizawa changes the sheets to the sound of Bakugou's miserable retching, taking care to fold the covers back. He notes how oddly complacent a sick Bakugou is, compared to his usual acrid manner.

The kid emerges from the bathroom looking like a zombie, skin waxy and milk-white. He leans unsteadily against the wall and sees his freshly made bed, looks at Aizawa warily but doesn't say anything.

"Try to change into something cleaner," Aizawa instructs, leaving to throw the soiled sheets in the wash. Bakugou's independent and seems coherent enough to dress himself.

If it were any of the others, he'd no doubt be more sympathetic, but Bakugou doesn't want his sympathy so Aizawa won't bother giving it. He's going to look after the kid (he's not heartless and it is his job after all), but there's no need for soft voices and kid-gloves with Bakugou. They can skip the whole soothing part where he palms the kid's forehead and sings him to sleep.

He returns a few minutes later to find Bakugou missing a shirt, folded over in the middle of the floor, breathing labored. He's got different shorts on, but the shirt lies crumpled next to his hip.

Aizawa blinks.

Oh.

Oh. He swiftly kneels beside his student, cursing softly. "Bakugou?"

Bakugou doesn't respond and continues to pant into the carpet, every other breath punctuated by a whimper that makes Aizawa's heart drop to his stomach.

He places a tentative hand on the kid's back, noticing the clammy heat of his skin. "Bakugou. Hey."

"Hurts," Bakugou wheezes, voice pinched and high.

"Where does it hurt, kid?"

No answer, just that wheezed panting that has every hair on the back of Aizawa's neck standing at attention.

"Bakugou," Aizawa tries seriously, panic mounting, "I need to know where it hurts. Point to where it hurts."

Bakugo falls onto his side and points a shaky finger to the upper left side of his stomach. Aizawa traces the skin, usually-firm muscles puffy and tender to the touch. From what Aizawa remembers, basic human anatomy, that's the... spleen? Bakugou inhales sharply when he applies pressure.

"I'm dizzy," he says, voice barely above a whisper, eyes half-lidded and glistening with unshed tears, face a shade of white that heightens the panic in Aizawa's chest. "Feel like I'm gonna faint."

"Alright," Aizawa says, trying his best to be temperate. He runs his hand up and down the kid's trembling back, thoughts racing. Shit. This is hospital-worthy, considering this is Bakugou, lying on a floor and practically in tears.

But Recovery Girl isn't here. She's in the city for the weekend, Aizawa remembers.

Fuck.

"It's alright." He pushes the sweaty bangs off of Bakugou's clammy forehead and hits the first contact he has on his phone with his other hand.

"...H'lo?"

He wastes no time. "I need you to come to 1-A's dorms. Bakugou's sick."

Hizashi sobers instantly. "What?"

"He was throwing up, now he says his stomach hurts. It's..." Aizawa trails off when Bakugou presses his forehead to the ground again and chokes out a weak groan. "I'm going to take him to the ER. Recovery Girl's out and he needs to get looked at. How fast can you get here?"

There's rustling on the other end of the phone. "Fifteen minutes or less," Hizashi says seriously, " I'm on my way. "

Aizawa glances down at the kid on the floor, white as a ghost, tears on his pale cheeks. He reaches over and pulls a blanket off of the bed that he just made. "I'll probably leave before you get here. Tell Nezu what's going on for me, please."

"Of course," Hizashi says. "I'll text you the minute I get there. Keep me updated."

"Thanks," Aizawa says, hanging up. His closest friend may be an idiot, but Hizashi is good in crisis and Aizawa is silently grateful.

Bakugou sniffles and squeezes his eyes shut. Aizawa helps the kid sit up and drapes the blanket around his trembling shoulders. Bakugou sways and Aizawa grabs his shoulders to steady him.

"You're not able to walk, are you?" he says, though it's rhetorical.

Bakugou swallows and grimaces, bringing a shaky palm to his forehead, looking entirely lost and very young. Aizawa’s never seen him this fragile, the cool night breeze drifting through the window and tousling his hair. He blinks at the ground. "I feel like I'm going to faint."

“Alright. I’m taking you to a hospital.” Aizawa presses his mouth into a grim line and pulls the kid into in his arms, lifting him as gently as he can. Bakugou still hisses, eyes shut, face drawn and pinched, but the lack of verbal complaint about the situation is cause for worry. Aizawa grabs the kid's phone off of a bedside table and carries his student into the harsh light of the hallway and down to the elevators.

They reach the ground floor and Aizawa gingerly deposits Bakugou on a couch in the common room. “I’ll be back in a second.”

Todoroki appears from around the corner and takes in the situation, confusion and concern a slight wrinkle in his brow.

Aizawa would scold him for being awake still, but he shoves Bakugou's phone in his back pocket and tells Todoroki to watch Bakugou for a minute while he quickly retrieves his keys and wallet, slipping on some shoes in the process. "I'm taking him to the hospital," Aizawa explains when he returns, lifting an increasingly lifeless Bakugou once more. "Present Mic should be here in ten minutes. Use the phone in the kitchen if you need to get a hold of someone in the meantime."

Todoroki nods with slightly widened eyes and Aizawa heads out the back door, depositing Bakugou in the passenger seat of the car left for emergencies.

The clock on the dashboard blinks 3:30. Bakugou's face is dull in the pale lamplight through the windshield. He stares blankly out the window, occasionally sniffling, arms wrapped tightly around himself and knees drawn to his chest.

"Talk to me, kid," Aizawa murmurs, pulling onto the main road and out of the gates.

"I feel like shit," Bakugou mutters weakly, no trace of usual scorn in his voice.

"When did it start?"

"Dinner." He lets his head fall to rest on the window.

"Why didn't you tell someone?"

Bakugou sniffles.  "Wasn't bad then."

"Then when did it get bad?" Aizawa asks, frustration increasing. He's explicitly told his students that neglecting injuries heeds disastrous effects, and the fact that Bakugou's somewhat known for his defiance only makes the annoyance grow.

"Midnight."

Aizawa sighs through his nose. The worry ebbs away at the anger.

Traffic isn't bad since its the middle of the damn night.

"Let me see it again," Aizawa says when they stop at a traffic light, clicking on the overhead lights in the car.

Bakugou slowly lets the blanket pool around his waist to expose his stomach. Aizawa's lungs shrink when he makes out the faint greenish-purple bruising on the kid’s ribs.

"Bakugou, did someone hit you?"

Bakugou shuts his eyes and breathes through his nose. "No."

The light turns green and Aizawa clicks off the overhead light. He curses softly into the stale air; he must not have seen it in the dim light of Bakugou's bedroom. The uneasiness in his chest continues to mount.

"Think back," he says seriously, keeping his eyes on the road. "Were you sparring with someone?"

Bakugou stares out the windshield with glassy eyes. "Kirishima. A week ago," he says, voice strained. He presses the back of his head into the seat rest, looking wholly out of it.

Aizawa sighs. He doesn't make Bakugou talk anymore, instead focusing on the road. The frustration prickles in the back of his throat, but he knows that it would only be kicking the kid when he’s down.

Bakugou murmurs something that sounds like an apology after a while, head turned away from Aizawa, swollen eyelids pinched shut.

Aizawa's heart twinges. "We're almost there," he says past the looming sense of dread that sits leaden in his stomach.

He doesn't even know why he's this worried. It's not like this is even his kid.

But then again, it is. Because Aizawa's stuck playing dad to a bunch of up-and-coming heroes, and despite his strenuous efforts to keep his distance he's found himself fully immersed.

He knew he'd get closer than he had with his previous students, but never would he have thought it would end up like this. He tries his best to seem carefully indifferent, but God forbid, there's something about stupidly fragile, rough-around the edges teenagers that gets him every time, until he's left sitting on a couch at eleven PM with the rolling credits of some Ghibli film, a kid asleep on his shoulder and fifteen more sprawled around the carpet, wondering how it got to this.

Bakugou sniffles and Aizawa realize he's crying again.

It's uncanny and wrong and one of the more jarring things Aizawa's seen, though all this kid seems to be is blistering and unrefined passion. But this isn't in a battle, this isn't training, this is a kid who doesn't feel well.

"Hang in there," he says tiredly, letting his hand wilt on a blanket-covered knee. Bakugou either doesn't realize it or is in too much pain to care.

His phone buzzes twice in his pocket, probably Hizashi. Aizawa can at least stop worrying about that.

They finally pull up to the hospital, and Aizawa carefully gathers Bakugou back into his arms with no protest. Through the lenses of three AM, Bakugou looks a lot smaller in the streetlight of a hospital parking lot.

He makes his way through the sliding doors and sets Bakugou down on a small sofa in the sterile-looking waiting area.

The receptionist that checks him in is kind but efficient at her job. Hizashi sent him a copy of Bakugou's medical file (god bless the man) and Aizawa takes the clipboard back to the waiting area to fill out a report.

He sits gently next to Bakugou on the sofa and doesn't comment when Bakugou's head gently nudges against his leg.  Whether Bakugou means to seek comfort or not, Aizawa can't tell, but he finds himself palming an overly-warm forehead. The kid seems on the edge of a steep downward slope.

"You're alright," Aizawa mutters.

He fills out the paperwork with the information from his phone.

Hizashi calls and informs him that they're unable to get a hold of Bakugou's parents.

"Bakugou, are your parents home?" Aizawa asks. Ironically, the thought hadn’t even crossed his mind until Hizashi mentioned it, and whether that’s an insight to something much deeper or just a slip of the mind, that’s a topic for another day.

"...no," Bakugou mumbles, seeming confused. "They're... visiting family."

Aizawa sighs softly and informs Hizashi.

Bakugou starts to shake even harder.

A nurse eventually comes with a wheelchair and leads them back to an area full of hospital beds separated by curtains. There's a woman sleeping across the room with an oxygen mask on and an elderly man talking to his wife in the corner. The wife is crying, the husband speaks softly. Aizawa’s view is obstructed when the nurse draws the curtains.

Aizawa helps Bakugou settle stiffly into one while the nurse takes his vitals and asks questions. He's running a low fever, which Aizawa isn't surprised about. The nurse examines Bakugou's stomach. Upon seeing the bruising, her eyes turn suddenly serious. She sits a little straighter on her stool and asks Bakugou questions like where and when he got it, how hard the hit was, and she says a doctor should be in immediately.

Aizawa feels his heart quicken and Bakugou turns to him with bleary, widened eyes and pale lips. He seems dazed and panicked and even more out of it than before.

Aizawa tells him it'll be alright, not entirely sure who he's reassuring.

There's a change in pace. A doctor comes in quickly and introduces himself as Doctor so-and-so, asks Bakugou the same questions and gently feels around the spot. Bakugou starts to cry again, and the doctor tells Aizawa that he suspects a rupture in Bakugou's spleen, that they're going to do an ultrasound to determine if there's a tear. And that if there is, an emergency surgery will have to be completed.

The severity sinks like a rock in his stomach and Aizawa helps Bakugou into a hospital gown. "It'll be okay."

Bakugou hasn't spoken in five minutes or so. He looks at Aizawa with a feverish gaze, eyes red and swollen, bright and glassy.

"Christ, kid," Aizawa says, fear now a constant thrum in his sternum. He tries to keep his face neutral despite the genuine alarm that laces his thoughts. The panic is turning into frustration once more.

If you’d have just listened, just told someone. If you’d look past your destructive pride and--

Bakugou stares at the wall and the heart rate monitor shows a steep drop in his blood pressure.

Aizawa watches with wide eyes as a few nurses and the doctor rush in, and in a blur, he’s whisked out of the room. He catches a few phrases that turn his blood cold and suddenly the doors shut with an ominous whoosh and he's stuck in the waiting room, alone, with a large knot of dread lodged in his throat.

Oh.

He stands there for a moment, stunned, trying fruitlessly to calm frazzled nerves. The clock on the wall reads 4 AM. He sinks into a chair. 

It's increasingly difficult not to imagine a worst-case scenario. "It'll be alright," Hizashi tells him lightly. "He''s a strong kid."  

Aizawa goes to the bathroom and splashes water on his face, looks at the haggard reflection staring back at him. The bags under his eyes are deep, hair pulled back and hastily tied up, eyes bloodshot as usual. The same face as yesterday, but at the same time he looks fifty year older.

He wishes for his sleeping bag.

Nezu calls and Aizawa fills him in the same he did with Hizashi. They are still unable to reach Bakugou's parents.

A nurse comes out into the waiting room and tells him that they've taken Bakugou in for surgery. Aizawa feels the air rush out of his lungs. She gently informs him that they have one of their doctors with a powerful healing quirk on staff this morning, and that the surgery should be relatively quick.

She takes him to a different, more private waiting room on a different floor that is about a quarter of the size of the previous one.

“He seems like a strong kid, dear. I’m sure he’ll be fine.” She gives him a sad smile.

The panic sloshes around his stomach. "Surgery" leaves a bad taste in his mouth.

He picks a stiff-looking chair and props an elbow on the arm, slumping and resting his forehead in his palm.

Kirishima is going to feel horrible when he finds out this is his doing.

He'll get the full story out of Bakugou when (if) he comes out of surgery, but for now, Aizawa's left to figure out how to tell Kirishima he almost killed his friend with a well-placed punch.

Shit. That's going to be messy.

And it's a complete accident, obviously. It's actually good that Kirishima is kind-hearted, though, and it's good that it's Bakugou. Because he might not know much about their relationship, but he does know that Bakugou will not let Kirishima blame himself.

Character development is such a neat thing.

The panic comes in waves. He feels like he's swallowed lead. If this is what fathers feel like, if this is what it feels like to worry about a child in a hospital, then Aizawa has severely underestimated the root of parenthood.

And it’s quite frankly ridiculous. Because his students are hurt far beyond this is regular training.. Midoriya’s practically dug his grave every other week, it seems. Yet Aizawa feels that this situation far outweighs any of the others by a crushing landslide. He can’t rationalize it well, but the sterile walls and the grim atmosphere seem to add infinite points for unease.

Aizawa lets out a tense breath. He isn't a religious man, but he closes his eyes and sends out a half-baked plea to any deity out there. Because it can’t hurt.

Once he read somewhere that the walls of hospitals have heard more prayers than the walls of temples. He supposes it's true.

-

He wakes up to a Doctor that tells him Bakugou's going to be fine.

Oh.

Oh.

There’s a massive release and Aizawa doesn't realize his knees are weak until he's walking with the doctor to a hospital room down the hall, listening to the procedure explained in Layman's terms.

They reach a small-ish room with the door ajar.

Bakugou looks tiny and beaten-up with a large patch of gauze taped to his shirtless torso, hooked up to IVs and a bag of blood, oxygen mask strapped around his face. He's asleep, face oddly peaceful--a look Aizawa's seen only a few times before.

"He should wake up any minute now, he'll probably be a little loopy from the meds.  Feel free to let a nurse know when he does so we can check him out and make sure everything is alright."

Aizawa bows and thanks the doctor.

They're left alone, and Aizawa steps out of the room to call Hizashi.

When he returns, Bakugou is blinking at him groggily.

"You could have died," Aizawa says without thinking.

Bakugou swallows thickly. "Fuck you too."

Aizawa's never been more glad to hear those expletive-laden words.

"What you did was extremely stupid," he tells Bakugou, moving to stand next to the bed. "You need to understand that you were critically injured. Had Todoroki not heard you getting sick, you could have killed yourself."

Bakugou says nothing and stares at the sheets and the IV in his hand.

Aizawa feels the pent-up frustration start to surface, the exasperation showing in his voice. "I don't think you realize the severity of the situation you've just gone through. I don't know what you were thinking, brushing off an injury that you received four days ago. Recovery Girl was here up until the weekend, you could have easily gotten yourself checked out.  Nevermind the effect--"

"Alright, I GET IT," Bakugou yells suddenly, abrasively, voice wet, and Aizawa stops mid-rant to see tears streaming down his student's cheeks.

"I get it," Bakugou says softer, bitterly refusing to meet Aizawa's eyes.

Ah, fuck.

Aizawa sighs and scrubs a hand down his face. He moves to settle on the edge of the bed. It's going on five AM on what has been an extremely long night and he forgets that despite his selfish and idiotic actions, Bakugou Katsuki is still only sixteen years old.

And despite being sixteen years old, Bakugou Katsuki is smart enough to realize that the nine stitches on his stomach are proof enough that he could have died.

A fat tear plops onto the sheets.  Aizawa regards him wearily. "Bakugou, look at me."

Bakugou sniffles and tilts his chin up plainly, eyes red and swollen, struggling to keep his defiant composure. His face has regained some of the color from before, but he still looks ghastly by Aizawa's standards.

"I'm sorry," Aizawa says warily, looking into his students eyes with his own tired ones. He places a hand on Bakugou's shoulder. "I'm glad you're okay."

Bakugou's face crumples and he starts to weep, and Aizawa figures it's a combination of both the meds and the shock of the past night. He tentatively brings his other arm up and Bakugou pitches forward into his shoulder.

Aizawa stays silent and let's the kid cry. It's freaky and odd and heartbreaking.

"What the fuck," Bakugou whispers in between hiccups, when the tears have died his down but his breath still hitches.

"What the fuck indeed," Aizawa says. What about, he isn't sure. That Bakugou's crying? That they're in a hospital? That Bakugou just came out of surgery? That it's morning? That Aizawa feels like he's just been seven rounds with All-Might himself? He supposes for it all.

And then, because the night (morning?) couldn't get any fucking stranger, Bakugou falls asleep on his shoulder.

"Christ," Aizawa mutters to himself, gingerly laying the kid back into the mountain of pillows.

The doctor comes back in and Aizawa probably should have called one of the nurses but the doctor reassures him that all is well, recommending they keep Bakugou in the hospital for the day to monitor his vitals and make sure there isn't possibility for infection.

Sunlight streams through the window, bathing the room in a hazy warmth. Bakugou stays asleep and transiently peaceful in the way only he could manage.

It's going on seven AM and Aizawa thinks vaguely that he should call into work.

-

Bakugou talks to his parents on the phone when he next wakes up.

It's about eleven AM, room lit still by sunlight. Aizawa briefly moved to leave the room and offer privacy at the beginning the conversation, but Bakugou scowled and told him he "didn't have to fucking leave. It's only my mom".

He’ll read into that later.

Aizawa sips at lukewarm hospital coffee and watches a slightly-less dead looking Bakugou pick at a chocolate chip muffin.

"No mom, I'm fine. Stay on your trip. No, they saved it. What? It means that I still have my entire fucking spleen, woman," he barks through the phone. He sighs. "I know, I know. Wh- are you crying? Jesus, you hag, I'm not dead!"

But you could have died, Aizawa and Mitsuki Bakugou both seem to think.

Bakugou's face softens, albeit marginally. "Alright, I'm sorry," he mutters. "I know, I'm pretty sure Aizawa-sensei has the lecturing part covered. Yeah, he was the one who took me. Yeah, the one who looks like a vampire, with the scar."

Aizawa chokes on the last swallow of his coffee.  

"Yeah, USJ. He came to our fucking house, mom."

Aizawa dismisses himself to seek out a juice box or something.

Bakugou holds the phone out to him when he returns, stitches obscured by a loose hospital gown. "She wants to talk to you."

Bakugou Mitsuki starts out by apologizing for their absence. "I'm so sorry, my shitty sister has next to no reception at her stupid house."

"Its alright," Aizawa replies, propping his feet up on the end of the bed. She sounds like she's been crying, and though it seems Bakugou gets some of his abrasive personality from her side, Mitsuki is still a mother.

"We cannot thank you enough for everything you've done, sensei," she says. "I know our kid is an asshole and a troublemaker, but I am very grateful he was in your capable hands. I am forever in your debt."

"It's really nothing," Aizawa dismisses, but she persists.

"I am sure it wasn't nothing. Katsuki tells me of how you cared for him and brought him to the hospital, he told me  how you were worried and lectured him."

"About that--"

"Nonsense!" Mitsuki hollers. "I'd have done the same. You are very good at your job, Aizawa-san. I don't believe things would have turned out as well as they did had it not been for your exceptional care. We will be able to thank you in person in roughly seven hours, of course, if we can get tickets, as the next flight-"

"Tell her to stay on her fucking trip," Bakugou says flatly. "She doesn't need to come home."

"Is that him? Put him on the phone for a moment, please?"

Aizawa hands the phone over and watches Bakugou argue with his mother for thirty seconds before he thrusts the phone back.

"Katsuki seems to think we don't need to come home, but I would want to make sure with your more than anyone that he's not exaggerating--"

"There's no need," Aizawa finds himself saying. "Of course, by all means, you should come home if you wish, but I assure you he is well and will make a full recovery. He is in good hands at UA, ma'am, and we have trained medical staff should any complications--"

"That's not what I mean," Mitsuki interrupts kindly. "What I'm trying to say is, you think you'll be alright? I mean, pardon my bluntness, but I assume you'd be the one tasked with the shit job of looking after Katsuki for the next few days at UA."

So, Bakugou Mitsuki is a smarter woman than she lets on.

Aizawa smiles to himself. "He's shit at taking care of himself," Mitsuki continues a little softer. "I think the whole Kamino thing really messed him up so this might have freaked him out a lot, too."

"Your son is by no means an open book," Aizawa agrees. Bakugou scowls. "But I think we'd all be fine if you were to finish your trip."

There's muffled conversation on the other end and Mitsuki eventually agrees. Aizawa promises to keep her updated and send her the medical reports, and she promises to return in three days.

After another round of thanks, Aizawa hands the phone to Bakugou, who hangs up after assuring his mother in his very own prickly way.

Aizawa sits back and wonders for the billionth time that day if he made the right career choice.

A nurse comes in and checks the stitches on Bakugou's stomach. He seems quieter after that, but Aizawa needs to get a point across and a few answers to a few questions.

"Bakugou, why didn't you get checked out after you sparred?"

He doesn't answer for a moment. Aizawa waits.

"Because I didn't think I needed to."

"Why not?"

Bakugou bunches his fists in the sheets around his lap, too-big hospital gown hanging loosely off his frame. "Because..."

He doesn't finish and stares angrily at the bed. Aizawa exhales.

"You're not weak."

Bakugou closes his eyes.

"Bakugou."

"It was stupid, alright?" he deflects, scorn still not 100%. "I've learned my lesson."

"Have you?"

"I have," he grinds out.

"It's not rocket science, kid," Aizawa says, voice slightly softened. "You get hurt, you get it checked out."

Bakugou seems to struggle for the words. "Its not- ..." He exhales and sags against the pillows, looking far too worn-out. "I thought it would help."

Oh.

Jesus.

This… is worse than he thought.

Aizawa inhales and leans back in his chair. "Explain."

He speaks carefully, a note of defence but nearly ashamed, refusing to meet Aizawa's eyes. "I... I thought it would help me become stronger, if I could just get over it and let it heal..."

And it's ridiculous but somehow it manages to be entirely heartbreaking. Aizawa tries to process as fast as he can.

"Do you still have nightmares, Bakugou-"

"I learned my lesson."

"Answer the question."

"What do you think?" he yells abruptly, words acidic in the sterile air. He exhales. "Its fine. I won't do it again," he says bitterly, glancing out the window. "Haven't I cried enough? You can quit picking me apart.”

Aizawa scrubs a hand over his stubble. He thinks long and carefully, realizing that he is entirely over his head.

The words seem useless, he says them anyway.

"You don't deserve to be hurt."

Bakugou doesn't say anything for the rest of the afternoon.

-

Aizawa receives a packet of instructions about cleaning stitches that he already knows about extensively, and Bakugou is released that night.

He moves stiffly but walks by himself, and Aizawa's too tired to care.

It's hard to believe that not even a day has passed.

It’s dark outside by the time they reach the dorms to find all of 1-A waiting in the common room. They all greet Bakugou with relieved faces and kind exclamations, and Bakugou tolerates a total of two and a half strategically-planned hugs.

Kirishima hovers in the corner and doesn't say much. Aizawa gets the feeling that Hizashi already told him.

Aizawa eventually sends them all to bed. He slumps onto a couch and falls asleep for twenty minutes before remembering that Bakugou still needs to take a dose of antibiotics. Antibiotics that he didn’t even bother taking up to his room, Aizawa notes with a twinge of annoyance, seeing as they are still on a table in the common room.

He makes it up to the fifth floor just in time to see a tearful Kirishima knock on Bakugou's door, shoulders slumped. Bakugou opens it and frowns. They both disappear into the room.

On second thought, the meds can wait for a little bit.

He does eventually knock on the door, feeling some sort of odd deja vu. There's no answer, and Aizawa assumes Bakugou is sleeping, but he enters anyway to find Bakugou curled up on his side, hair mussed, hospital bracelet torn off and thrown near the wastebasket.

Aizawa definitely feels closer to the kid. As weird as it sounds, though it's not quite far off, because him and this moron kid just shared quite a traumatic experience, if he does say so himself. He realizes now that more than ever, that Bakugou is layered, and carapace gone, the world is left with just another damaged kid.

Bakugou opens puffy eyelids. "Hm?"

"Antibiotics." Aizawa drops the pills into Bakugou's open palm and sets the glass of water on the bedside table. These are the sheets that he changed last night, he realizes.

Bakugou takes them without complaint--a true insight into just how exhausted he must be. "How are you feeling?" Aizawa asks.

Bakugou curls back up. "Fucking tired."

Aizawa knows the feeling. "How is Kirishima?"

"Fine. Stupid. But he's fine."

Aizawa nods. He's going to have to talk to the kid himself, he knows, but it can wait until tomorrow.

Bakugou looks at him blearily. "Go to sleep, sensei, get out. You look like shit."

He nearly tells Bakugou to shut up--an insight to just how exhausted he is at the moment. Aizawa sighs and thanks Bakugou for his observations, telling him to watch his language but only half meaning it. He's sure he does in fact look like shit, but he'd much rather have this Bakugou than the one whimpering on the floor, dazed out of his mind a mere twenty hours ago.

He stops at the door. "You have an appointment with the therapist you saw after the Kamino incident."

Bakugou doesn't say anything. He stares at the floor and curls his fingers loosely around his sheets.

"I didn't really have a choice, kid," Aizawa says tiredly. Bakugou won't look at him. In the hazy light of the hallway, Aizawa sees that more than anything, Bakugou looks crestfallen.

Before he shuts the door, he hears a small "Hey".

"Hm?"

Bakugou rolls over to face the wall and sighs. "Thanks. For. Taking me to the hospital and shit, I guess."

Oh.

"Yeah, no problem," Aizawa says, because he doesn’t know what the hell else to. Not that he did it for a thank you, obviously, but Bakugou’s was shit anyway. Aizawa knows he’s just heard an anomaly, but he won’t dwell on it until later, when he’s rested enough to appreciate it. Despite his exhaustion, it still manages to lift the corner of his mouth in a sad smile.

He almost decides to stay and make the kid talk, but he realizes that it's not going to do any good for either of them. "Get some rest, kid."

“Okay,” Bakugou says quietly.

Okay.

Aizawa stands in the elevator with a heavy heart and realizes once again that the a difference between the painful decision and the right one is often slim to none. He almost wishes Bakugou had been angry, but he knows they're both too tired for that.

He heads directly for his sleeping bag on the ground floor and collapses into bed. There’s apprehension; he can’t help but wonder if he did it right, if he dealt with the situation correctly. The hospital was a valid decision, obviously, but should he have been harder on Bakugou? Forced him to talk? The reasoning behind it all is grim--

His train of thought stops abruptly when something scratches against his ankle, stuck to his foot.

Reaching down slowly, Aizawa pulls out Bakugou's hospital bracelet.

He looks at it for a long moment before placing it on the small desk near his head and finally letting himself rest.



.


(Bakugou is back to normal within two days. Kirishima cries and Aizawa has given more hugs this week than he has in the last five years. Bakugou Mitsuki sends Aizawa a fruit basket and quite the humorous card, 1-A shares (steals) the fruit; Aizawa doesn't really care that much after he finds them baking pies with it. Kirishima and Bakugou spar and Aizawa lets them.

Bakugou goes to his appointment. And the one after that. And the one after that.

The world keeps spinning.

Aizawa likes to think he's got the same mindset that he had at twenty-five. And the same joints and the same bones, and the same steel heart. But he finds himself trapped in moments so insignificant, learning how to braid hair, teaching someone how to work a washing machine, he finds himself draping a blanket over some overworked kid passed out on a common room couch and he's reminded all over again how fickle time really is.

He's not the same man.

And he looks at the hospital bracelet on the floor in the corner near the waste basket and thinks maybe, just maybe that's okay.)