Inko Midoriya loved her son. She really did. After how lonely his childhood had been, for him to have made friends- true friends, not ones like Katsuki Bakugou- and feel comfortable to bring them home with him, well, it made his mother quite emotional. The moment she had been introduced to her son’s friends, she knew she would do everything within her power for these kids.
There was the bubbly girl, Ochako Uraraka. Uraraka was a bright and upbeat girl whose cheerful disposition did wonders to keep things light. A smile never seemed to leave her lips, leaving her cheeks perpetually rosy. The first time she heard the girl call Izuku “Deku”, she had nearly thrown the girl out before her son had explained that the girl meant it in a different way than what Izuku had been called for most of his life. And if Inko had burst into tears upon learning how this girl had turned a demeaning taunt into something to cheer Izuku on, well. She wouldn’t deny it. The fellow gravity-quirk user had quickly grown on Inko, and it was always a delight to pass on her little tricks to the teen.
Then there was their class’s tall and bold class president, Tenya Iida. The bespeckled boy was certainly… loud, but he had a good heart, and a loyal streak a mile wide. He cared about Izuku and Uraraka, and while he wasn’t the best at comforting others or getting his point across, he tried to show his care in his own way. He had secured his place in Inko’s good books by quietly promising to inform her of any major issues between Izuku and Katsuki at school. It warmed her heart to know that Izuku had someone like Iida watching out.
Then, finally, there was Todoroki Shouto. He was the newest of Izuku’s friends, and the one Inko saw the least of. Inko had seen the dual-haired boy’s fight with Izuku during the Sports Festival, and for the briefest of times she had even resented him for how injured Izuku had gotten during the match. Izuku had reassured her that he was a good guy, and that he had just been going through some things at the time, but it hadn’t done much to soothe her nerves. She would never admit it, but she had privately feared he would be like Katsuki. After all, Izuku had defended the blond boy for so long in such a similar manner. Then she got to meet the boy himself, and everything changed.
It was during their first meeting that Inko knew the boy was different than what she had feared. It was apparent from the moment he entered the door. He hung behind Izuku, as if waiting for him to do something before he did. When he spoke to her, he was quiet and polite, and wouldn’t speak to her unless prompted. At first, she had simply thought he was just shy, but there was something off about it. Over time and different visits, she began to notice little things, little things that made her brow wrinkle and a pit of dread to form in her stomach.
She began to notice little bruises and burns on the boy. A burn on his forearm here, a bruise peeking out from beneath his collar there… The first time she brought them up, the boy stilled, before quickly passing them off as from class.
“It’s okay, Mom. Kacchan was just roughhousing with me, I swear.”
“Oh, I fell down the stairs at school today. I wasn’t paying attention, and I fell.”
“Mom, it’s okay, it looks worse than it feels. Iwakami doesn’t know his own strength! He just patted me on the back, Mom. Don’t worry.”
It was sickeningly familiar, but she had believed him, at first.
Then she noticed his reactions. Specifically, his reactions to her. When Izuku had joked with her over dinner once, the boy looked scared for a moment, eyes becoming pin pricks as he carefully watched her react, like he expected for her to lash out. When she was outside of the room, she could hear Todoroki talking with her son, but the moment she entered the room, he fell silent. He never sat with his back to any entryway, and always sat with them in his field of vision. All of her observations and worries came to a head on a mid-October evening. The students had been allowed to visit their families for the weekend, and Izuku had invited Todoroki to stay over.
Dinner was quiet, the only sounds being that of silverware clinking against the dishes and the creaking of chairs. So Inko broke the silence by asking a question.
“So what is your mother like, Todoroki?” It was a simple question, a safe question, she had thought, but the boy’s reaction was anything but. Both teens stilled at her question. Inko didn’t miss the worried glance Izuku gave Todoroki, or the tight line that formed in the taller boy’s shoulders, and the quiet turmoil in his eyes. After years of dealing with Izuku, Inko knew how to tell when someone was hiding something. Something ugly rolled deep in her stomach. Something was wrong.
“My mother…,” Todoroki began, “My mother is in a mental hospital.”
Inko’s stomach dropped. “Oh.” She said dumbly. She… hadn’t expected that. How was one supposed to react to something like that? ‘Oh, your mother’s in a mental hospital, would you like more carrots, dear?’ No, Inko, don’t say that. You’ll sound insensitive.
“How long has she been there?” Inko asked, like an idiot. No, you fool! Inko wanted to die right then and there.
Todoroki was silent for a few moments. “....about ten years.” He admitted quietly. Ten- ten years?! Well, Inko couldn’t exactly say anything. Izuku’s father, Hisashi, had been out of the country for longer than that, but at least it was work related, and not because he was in a mental hospital!
“Do… do you get to see her often? I imagine it gets pretty lonely there.” If anything, that made Todoroki’s expression darken. No!!! That wasn’t what she wanted at all! She needed to fix this!
“...not really. I only started visiting her again recently. Even now, I don’t get to see her as much as I’d like.” Todoroki admitted. Inko, you fool, they’re living in dorms! Of course he couldn’t visit his mother! Quietly she filed her questions about why the boy hadn’t started visiting her until recently into the back of her mind.
“I send her letters, and my siblings try to visit her, but… Fuyumi’s busy as a teacher, and Natsuo goes to college two hours away. I don’t even know where Touya is, so....” The boy continued.
“Well… it’s not much, but… I could visit her for you?” Inko offered before her mind could catch up to her mouth. Oh god, what had she just done. Both boys looked shocked. Izuku’s fork fell from his slack hand, and Todoroki’s eyes were the widest she’d ever seen them go. Had she really just offered to visit the hospitalized mother of one of her son’s friends, a boy she still didn’t know particularly well? Was that creepy? Was she overstepping her bounds?! What-
“I,” The boy started, “I think she would like that.” When he gave her a slight smile, with such cautious hope in his eyes, Inko knew she couldn’t refuse. After all, he was one of Izuku’s precious friends. She would do anything for the ones that made Izuku smile.
All too soon, Sunday evening arrived, and the boys returned to U.A., leaving Inko alone once again. She didn’t forget the promise she had made, however. No, that was almost all she could think about. So, on Monday morning, she dressed herself in a neat blue cardigan and white dress, and set out for the mental hospital.
It was a short trip, the mental hospital only being across Musutafu, but the butterflies in Inko’s stomach made the trip seem much longer. When she wasn’t twisting her hands, she folded and unfolded the slip of paper with the address written on it over and over again, pressing the creases and undoing the creases restlessly. She was only broken from her nervous haze by her stop being announced.
There was only a few blocks to walk from the station to the hospital itself. The sidewalks had few people roaming it, some ducking into the little storefronts and cafes that lined the street, while others chattered on their cellphones. All too soon, Inko reached the mental hospital. It was large and white, with windows spaced neatly along its walls, most covered with curtains, but a few not. There was a decent sized yard to the side, with trees and flowers and a path. A few nurses and patients populated it, but for the most part it was deserted.
The lobby was just as well, blank, as the outside. There were a few chairs and sofas, wooden with blue padded seats, and a few coffee tables with magazines on them. Near the back of the room was a round countered desk, with a lone nurse manning it. The nurse was a tall woman, with bright orange scales and fuschia dreadlocks arranged in a tight braid.
When Inko approached, the woman didn’t seem to notice her, so Inko spoke up. “Excuse me.” She said. The woman didn’t acknowledge her. Maybe she hadn’t heard her.
“Excuse me.” Inko said a bit louder than before, and still, the woman didn’t seem to notice her.
“Excuse me!” Inko spoke up as loudly as she dared. This time, the secretary looked up, though she looked distinctly annoyed. “There’s no need to shout, ma’am. You’re disturbing other people.” She sneered.
Inko’s cheeks turned hot with embarrassment and slight frustration. ‘Well I wouldn’t have needed to shout if you had been paying attention!’ Inko didn’t say that, however. Losing her head at such a minor thing would be a major inconvenience now.
“My apologies,” She muttered. She hoped that she didn’t sound too angry. The fuschia haired woman huffed, but didn’t yell at her further. “Can I help you?” She instead snipped.
“Ah, yes… I’m here to visit Todoroki Rei,” Inko said. The woman rolled her eyes, and opened a drawer on the desk. She pulled out a clipboard and pen.
“Sign in on the sheet,” She said, practically tossing the clipboard and pen at Inko. Inko frowned, but quickly wrote the required information in the blank spaces. When she was done, she looked back at the secretary, who was looking at her claw like nails.
“Excuse me?” She spoke up.
“What?” The crabby woman snapped.
“I finished…” Inko informed her. The woman snatched the clipboard from her, and looked it over.
“It seems so,” She said. She set the clipboard down, and tore a sticker from a roll on the counter. She scribbled Inko’s name on the space for the visitor’s name, and Rei’s name in the space for the patient’s name. She handed it to Inko without a word, then turned to the computer. With a few keystrokes, clicks of the mouse, and moments, she looked up at Inko again.
“Todoroki Rei is in Room 404 in the west wing,” She said. “Take the hallway to your left, take the elevator to the fourth floor.”
“Thank you,” Inko said. She peeled off the sticker backing and pressed the sticker to her sweater, mentally praying that the adhesive wouldn’t ruin the fabric. As she walked towards the mentioned hallway, she tossed the sticker backing in a trashcan.
The walk to the elevator was short, yet it gave her time to study the place. The walls were painted a boring blue-grey color, with room number and name tags plastered on beige plaques by each wooden door, and the floors were covered in grey-speckled white tiles. The way was brightly lit by the overhead fluorescent lights that gleamed on the tiled floor, and painted it with a boring yellow tint. She passed only a couple of staff members on her way. Both only glanced briefly at the visitor badge on her chest before dismissing her. When she reached the elevator, it was thankfully empty.
The fourth floor had more life to it than the first floor. Upon exiting the elevator, Inko found herself in a sitting area with couches and a few potted plants. A few people milled about, some reading magazines or looking at their phones, others conversing.
It only took her a few seconds to find the room she was looking for on one of the adjoining hallways. The door was identical to all the others lining the halls, save for the plaque that read 404, and underneath, printed neatly, Todoroki Rei.
Inko hesitated just outside the room, nervous moths fluttering in her belly. ‘It’s alright,’ she told herself, ‘Just act natural. Don’t say or do anything weird, Inko.’ She steeled herself, and knocked on the door.
For a heartbeat, it was silent. Maybe she wasn’t in her room, Inko worried. Then, a woman’s voice called out. “Come in.”
Inko took a shaky breath, and slid the door open. It was a small room, typical, she noted, of a hospital, with a bed pressed against the wall and a desk opposite it. A woman with shoulder length white hair, and garbed in light green pajamas, sat on the bed, looking at her with a mixed expression of surprise and confusion.
“Who…?” The woman murmured.
“Ah, hello! Well, um.” Inko fumbled for her words. “My name is Todoroki Inko- no wait, I mean Midoriya Rei- I mean Mirei- I mean- INKO.” Finally , she got a hold on her fumbling tongue. “Inko. My name is Midoriya Inko.” She finally got it out properly. Great. Less than two minutes into meeting her for the first time and she’d already made a fool of herself. Just great .
The woman’s expression softened around the edges with faint amusement, her lips curling up at the edges.
“It’s nice to meet you, Midoriya,” Rei said with a note of mirth to her voice. She gestured to the desk chair. “Please, come in and sit.” Inko shut the door behind her and did just that.
“I’m sorry for just showing up out of the blue, but I had no idea how to get ahold of you. Well, I mean, we’ve never met before, obviously, but both of our sons are friends.” Inko said.
Rei’s face brightened as something dawned on her. “You’re Midoriya Izuku’s mother, aren’t you?”
“Yes, I am,” Inko confirmed, stunned. How had she known that when they had never even met before? “How did you know?”
“Shouto’s told me all about Izuku.” Rei informed her.
“Really?” Inko breathed, incredulous.
“Yes, he has. He’s been such a good influence in my son’s life, and Shouto admires him quite a bit for it. Your son has done so much for my son, and I’m so thankful for it.” Rei said.
“Your son’s been such a wonder for Izuku too! Before U.A., Izuku never really had friends, so for your son to be one of Izuku’s precious friends makes me so happy.” Inko smiled.
Rei smiled back at her. “I’m glad to hear that.” She shifted on the bed. “So tell me, why are you here?”
“Well, Izuku invited Shouto over for dinner the other night, and I’d never heard him talk about you, so I asked him. He said you were in here, and mentioned that he didn’t get to visit you as much as he would like, so he thought you might be lonely. So, I offered to come visit you for him.” Inko explained.
Rei’s smile turned just a bit sad at this. “He’s such a good child, isn’t he?” She murmured to herself. Inko wasn’t sure that she was supposed to hear that, so she didn’t comment on it. Rei shook her head, dispersing whatever thoughts she was having, and looked back at Inko.
“If it’s alright with you, Midoriya, I wouldn’t mind having some company. I think it would be nice to have someone my own age to talk to.” Rei confessed. “Would you mind visiting me again?”
Without a second thought, Inko nodded. “Of course.” She said.
Rei beamed, and something in Inko’s chest panged. “Thank you, Midoriya.”
Well, Inko thought, it looked like she would be spending more time around this place in the future.
I have never been near a mental hospital in my life, so everything about it in my fic is a mangled jumble of what info I've found online and my knowledge of regular hospitals.