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i've never lived a year better spent in love

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When Shouta had left his home, the last words his former master said to him were, “the life you’ve chosen to lead will only leave you with grief and loneliness. You will never achieve the greatness you seek if you remain aloof and uncaring all your life.”

The loneliness hadn’t been a concern -- Shouta was seventeen, and angry, and though that had been his first time being well and truly alone, for the first few months he’d found it only minutely different from the way he’d lived his previous life, shunned and scorned for his abilities.

As time passed, though, Shouta moving southward through the Earth Kingdom, he’d found himself thinking that, perhaps, there was stock in what his master had told him as he’d packed his bags.

He didn’t regret leaving; no, he couldn’t see himself ever returning to the North Pole, his grievances with its people aside. The way the Northern Water Tribe ran itself, though it’s ideals were not the worst they could be, in practice was executed so poorly that Shouta’s complaints had been rattling in the ears of the elders long before he’d decided to leave.

But as Shouta had stood, nearly a year after his departure from home, on the southern edge of the Earth Kingdom, he’d wondered if the ever-growing number of sleepless nights, the spots that began to dance around his vision, the ball of something sticky and dark slowly forming in the deepest part of him was simply to be attributed to his time as a weary nomad, or the result of too much use of the ability that had lead to him leaving home in the first place.

Shouta wasn’t a monster, not then, but he was a young waterbender traversing through endless cities and forest and mountains filled with thieves, and criminals, and later on firebenders, and often there wasn’t water enough around to get him out of a tight spot. Often, when faced with strong opposition, he had been forced to use the one technique that he’d been forbidden to all his life.

And Shouta had understood full well why the stigma around bloodbending was what it was. It was dangerous, and to take away a person’s bodily autonomy is to cross a certain line that many were simply unwilling to bring themselves to step past, and it was something only the strongest among the Water Tribe were able to do, even still.

He’d been the first to do it without the aid of the full moon, though, which Shouta supposes now, in hindsight, might have been the reason the tribe had cracked down on him so hard.

But Shouta had long been past dwelling on that. He was a year away from home, nearly on the opposite side of the world, with a plethora of knowledge, experiences, feelings he’d never have come to know otherwise.

He’d avoided staying in one place more than a few weeks; he stopped in villages, under trees, by rivers only long enough to replenish himself, observe the life around him, and get some rest before trekking onward.

He had been resting on the southern coast of the Earth Kingdom for nearly a month, getting used to being around endless water again while at the same time trying to think of a new destination, when he’d met Hizashi.

It had been his first time meeting an airbender since he was a young child, and he couldn’t have been more soured on the experience. He’d waltzed onto Shouta as he had been practicing his bending, and proceeded to shout him down, startling Shouta enough to fall into the ocean before him. He’d not even been cowed when Shouta had responded by bending the water in his soaked scarf to wrap around his stupid hair and shoving his face into the sand.

It wasn’t a perfect meeting by any chance -- Shouta had been soaked to the bone with annoyance dripping down his spine like water, and Hizashi had sat there spitting out sand for nearly five minutes before bothering to introduce himself.

Somehow, though, Hizashi ended up growing on him, which led him to accepting the invitation to accompany him to the Southern Air Temple only the fourth time Hizashi offered, a mere month or so later.

Shouta had told himself he’d stay for a few weeks. A month, maybe. Just long enough for Hizashi to get on his nerves enough to drive him off.

(Shouta stayed for eight years.)

In those years, he met the few people who would become the big players in his life -- Hizashi, of course, whom he ended up sharing living quarters with week one, a kiss with month fourteen, and a bed with not long after that.

The other leaders of the temple, who Shouta did not concern himself enough with to properly remember their names, but who (loudly) voiced their dissent whenever Shouta sat in on an important meeting (which he did increasingly often, as time passed, in part because Hizashi considered him a member of his people, but also because as time meandered on, more and more things of interest came to light.)

Enter Midoriya Izuku.

For two years, Shouta had known very little of Midoriya, other than the fact that he was a nonbender, and lived with his mother Inko. The kid liked to toddle behind the other, older airbenders, always laughed at their jokes and clapped whenever they displayed their bending. He, like the other nonbender children (as few of them as their were), had been constantly hoping for his bending to suddenly manifest one day.

The kids are objectively cute, Shouta had mentioned to Hizashi once, when prompted as to why he seldom chose to sit in on bending lessons, of which Hizashi had been in charge of. But they held very little of Shouta’s interest, so he didn’t bother to get involved.

It had been Hizashi who had told Shouta, in the dark of night, that the previous Avatar, Yagi Toshinori, had been murdered a few years prior to Shouta’s unofficial entrance into the Southern Air Nomads. Born a firebender and murdered by his own kind, the next element type in the cycle was air, and Hizashi had been tasked with watching for signs in the children at the Southern Temple.

(Shouta hadn’t known until later that the reason Hizashi, for once, sounded resigned and uncharacteristically quiet whenever the previous Avatar was mentioned was because Yagi had been a friend to him.)

Hizashi had tested all of the bender children in the past, but as time went on and as meetings between the leaders of the different Air Temples became more frantic, Shouta would find himself sitting in on children being tested two, three, even four times, all with no results.

It was a mistake that Midoriya was tested in the first place.

He’d up to that point been a rather unassuming child, listening to the elders and his mother and even the other kids, but even Inko couldn’t wrangle him away from the meeting room that day, couldn’t pull Midoriya away from the dozens of toys laid out before the little girl actually being tested until he’d managed to wrap his hands around two of the four relics, to which Hizashi had halted Inko with a surprisingly fierce “let him keep going.”

In a matter of moments Midoriya had all four relics -- the tools the Air Nomads had for centuries used to determine the newest Avatar when it was their turn -- smushed against his chest, giggling excitedly up at his mother as the adults in the room stared in stunned silence at the newly discovered Avatar.

The little girl had been whisked out in moments as the room descended into chaos, hands reaching for Midoriya, attempting to wrench the toys from his hands, hissing how it must be a mistake, a nonbender can’t be the Avatar, someone send word to the other Air Temples, no don’t tell the Fire Sages, do you know what the Fire Nation would do to us if they found out the Avatar can’t bend.

For her part, Inko had held herself together rather well in front of her son, as the elders explained to her, once the worst of the disbelief had dissipated, what exactly it meant for her child to be the Avatar, with the threat of war looming over their heads. It had not been until later, when Hizashi had volunteered both himself and Shouta to personally look after the child’s training, that she had broken down, clutching Shouta’s scarf as she begged him to keep my Izuku safe, he’s only four, I can’t lose him, not yet!

Shouta had kept a much closer eye on him after that; where Hizashi went, Shouta usually found himself following, and as became increasingly custom, Hizashi found his way to Midoriya daily. Hizashi would sit with Midoriya, ruffling his hair with his bending and encouraging him to replicate the action. Hours they would spend in the Midoriya’s garden, and though Midoriya was endlessly amused by Hizashi and his airbending tricks, the closest he ever got to bending himself was when he’d blew raspberries in Hizashi’s face before dissolving into giggles.

The airbenders were getting increasingly desperate. The leaders from the other three temples made numerous visits, trying to coax even the slightest bit of bending from Midoriya, with each attempt ending with Midoriya in tears and the leaders going home with promises to find the actual Avatar at their own homes.

Shouta himself had expressed countless times to Hizashi his own doubts in Midoriya being the Avatar, but Hizashi had always turned a blind ear and refused to listen; the test doesn’t lie, he’d say, to which Shouta would tell him you have too much faith in a test that involves children picking out toys, and Hizashi, every time, would end the argument with a kiss that was too much smile and a whispered I’ll make you eat those words one day.

And eat them Shouta did, two years later, when six year old Midoriya ran into Shouta and Hizashi's house, yelling about how he was an airbender now, just like you, Hizashi!

And, after luring them out of the house, proceeded to throw himself off a nearby cliff.

Shouta had nearly succeeded in throwing himself off after the kid before Midoriya had popped back up over the cliffs edge, a wide smile splitting his face and happy tears in his eyes.

After a near hour-long shout down by Hizashi about scaring people near to death and an even longer meeting with the temple elders, Midoriya had been given the go ahead to begin one-on-one training with Hizashi, effective immediately.

If Shouta had thought Midoriya was a constant in his life before that, he was absolutely unprepared for the sheer amount of Izuku that would saturate his days in the years to come.

After beginning his training, every day, without fail, Izuku had approached Shouta after his lessons for the day had completed and insisted on showing him all of the tricks and moves he had begun to learn at an alarming speed. Shouta had attempted not to humor him at first, but once the kid had started bending various belongings of Shouta’s (the final straw being Shouta’s cat, adoringly dubbed ‘Fluffy Piece of Shit,’ much to Hizashi and Inko’s annoyance when Izuku began to parrot the name), he’d resigned himself to being Izuku’s chosen audience to show off the parlor tricks Hizashi taught him each day.

His complacency was stretched ever further the closer Izuku bonded with Shouta, often asking Hizashi during their training for Shouta to join in, or Shouta to show him a certain waterbending move, or Shouta to sit and help him color a picture with him.

(Shouta refused, and Izuku’s response was to cry and scribble him out of the picture altogether.)

(It only took Izuku an hour to approach Shouta afterward, a messy but obviously lovingly-crafted picture of him, his mother, Hizashi, Shouta, and Fluffy gripped delicately in his hands, the words “My Family!!!” written in careful red letters; a peace offering.)

(Shouta had never been able to find it within himself to part with it.)

And, unwillingly, Shouta had found himself implanted in many parts of Izuku’s life; the first time he lost a tooth, Shouta was there, bending the minute amount of blood out of his mouth and out of sight, because he knows it made him squeamish; when a new litter of drabbits was born and Izuku insisted on Shouta’s help in naming it, only to forget his request when the nasty thing breathed fire near Shouta’s face, singing his brows, and Izuku just giggled and named it Toshinori; the first time he managed to best Hizashi during training, looking to Shouta with wide, hopeful eyes, a delighted but vaguely guilty smile on his face as he tried to silently ask I did well, right?

Shouta was there the first time the other children asked Izuku not to play with them, because he was different and it wasn’t fair and maybe he should go play with Aizawa-sensei and Yamada-sensei, because you’re their favorite, anyway!

It wasn’t until Shouta sat with Izuku (and since when was Midoriya now Izuku?) on his bed, fingers awkwardly carding through the mop of green hair atop his head as the kid cried out his sadness about the other kids not liking him anymore, that Shouta had realized Izuku, perhaps, was his favorite.

(No matter what he tried to argue to himself to the contrary, Shouta from then on had trouble fighting an amused smile off his face whenever Izuku approached him, some question or comment or idea on his tongue.)

Shouta was there, holding his hand alongside Inko, when Izuku earned his tattoos at age ten; the youngest in recorded history, even considering his late development as a bender. He had sat with Izuku, telling him that when he was done, he’d have Hizashi shave Fluffy and Toshi both so they could match him. He’d told Izuku, as he used his bending to make Izuku’s falling tears dance around in the air, that with the pace he was learning, he might be able to take Shouta in a fight by the time he turned fifty.

(Izuku, voice watery, shot back that he could take him then and there. Shouta couldn’t help but crack a smile at the kid’s panache, but nonetheless dunked him effortlessly in the ocean in their first sparring match a week or so later.)

Shouta had been there when Izuku was challenged to spar with all of the airbending elders at the temple, his eyes focused on the way the young boy moved when they should have been focused on the stone and knife in his hand. When Shouta had faced his finished product days later he couldn’t help but scowl at how ridiculously sentimental the whole affair of carving a necklace was, as well as how shittily it had turned out in the end. He had been prepared to toss it in the trash when Izuku had approached and asked, curious, to see what he had. Izuku had smiled as he touched the blue stone gently, and had simply said he just knew Hizashi would like it before wandering off.

Shouta had been there, a mere few months after Izuku had mastered his first element, when Hizashi burst into the garden area where he and Izuku were quietly reading, a letter clutched in a shaking hand, face paler than Shouta had ever seen it.

Firebenders had stormed the Western Air Temple, and they had massacred the entire population in search of the Avatar.

As days passed since the initial attack, more and more reports of atrocities around the world reached the Southern Temple; an invasion of the western coast of the Earth Kingdom, a failed attempt at overthrowing the city of Hosu that left the King and Queen dead and their only daughter orphaned; a mass roundup and execution of waterbenders in the Southern Water Tribe.

All attacks which had left a nauseating body count in their wakes. All in search of the Avatar.

All in search of Izuku.

The chaos that set in the Southern Temple was palpable; the children were kept inside and all bending training ceased until further notice; Izuku and Inko were kept practically on house arrest; Hizashi spent more and more nights in the meeting room than at home with Shouta.

Only a week after the initial attack, Shouta had found himself sat in the meeting room with Inko at his side, tears dripping down onto Izuku’s head as Hizashi told the two of them that it would be safest for Izuku to go into hiding, mere moments after revealing to the kid that he was the Avatar.

Shouta had been the one to ask, voice rough, who would be tasked with accompanying Izuku. The silence the room fell into, save for Inko’s sobs, after he’d voiced his question was enough to chill him to the bone.

(Shouta had never considered himself one for grief, but in that moment, the way Hizashi stared at him, looking as if he’d already said goodbyes as he spoke the elder’s decision into law, was enough to make his hands tremble.)

The preparations were made in only two days; Hizashi had been running around the entire time, packing necessities into Toshi’s saddle and avoiding looking Shouta in the eye. Shouta had few chances to see him anyways; his time was spent nearly glued to Inko’s side as she’d packed Izuku’s things and instructed him exactly on how to care for her child. Shouta found himself unable to speak on more than one occasion, the right words to say when being told how to care for Izuku after a nightmare, for Izuku if he gets sick, for Izuku if he asks what’s happening totally lost on him.

It’s hours before sunrise on the last day when Shouta had finally managed to corner Hizashi, who looked more tired than he’d ever seen him. Hizashi had just stared, face stony but eyes pained, until Shouta pulled the necklace from a pocket and pressed it firmly into Hizashi’s palm.

The first time Shouta saw Hizashi cry was the last time he saw him, when he’d asked, voice strained, for Shouta to ask the question aloud.

Shouta hadn’t been able to bring himself to speak the words into the air; in the quiet of the early morning, it felt much too empty, to spill such heavy words into the whipping wind. The intent was instead expressed in anguished kisses, in desperate touches, in the way Shouta’s hands shook as he secured the necklace around his newly found fiance’s neck.

You’ve never been so sentimental, Hizashi had hummed against Shouta’s shoulder, forcing a tired laugh between his teeth. I like it. Don’t think you can get out of marrying me now.

Shouta had just pressed another kiss to Hizashi’s lips, decidedly not thinking about how it could be the last.

It had been, Shouta realized sometime later, as he held Izuku’s sobbing frame while Toshi flew them both away from home. The thought had made him sick to his stomach, the sound of Izuku crying for his mother doing nothing to help the sick, sticky feeling that was returning the farther they got away from the air temple.

It had been days before they’d arrived at a village deep enough in the Earth Kingdom forest that Shouta felt safe enough to land for longer than it took to replenish their water. Izuku had been cried dry, slumped against Shouta’s side as he’d flown Toshi from the saddle.

Settling into their new residence had been physically much easier than Shouta expected, the emotional toll of being forced out of their rightful home aside. With the Fire Nation occupation to worry about, there had been the excuse of being refugees from the west that convinced anyone who asked.

Izuku’s tattoos had been the most difficult thing to deal with during their uprooting; the spiralling arrows had been easy enough to hide with the help of long sleeves and pants, but the blue arrow drawing a line across his head had been an issue. Izuku ended up being in a sort of solitary confinement for their first year or so in hiding, forbidden from going anywhere where Shouta couldn’t see him.

As time passed things got easier; Izuku’s hair had grown back, and once it became a big enough mess that fell past his forehead and into his eyes, Shouta decided he could accompany him occasionally in public. Izuku had been happy at having interaction outside of Shouta again, but, Shouta noticed, the smiles he offered the women in the village shops never looked quite as genuine as they had at the air temple.

The biggest obstacle Shouta had faced was the subject of Izuku’s mastery of the elements. He’d known from the beginning that finding a firebending teacher would be near impossible, but he’d have to worry about him mastering earth and water first, and Izuku was still on his basics of the latter, having not even attempted the former.

The subject of bending had been a deep point of contention between the two as Izuku aged; Izuku argued that he had to learn, and the longer Shouta insisted on teaching him strictly non-bending, hand-to-hand fighting the longer it would take to save the world; Shouta shot back, every time, that Izuku was a child that would get himself killed if he got any big ideas about saving the world now.

The argument over what Izuku was taught came to a head when Izuku was sixteen, almost six years since they’d left their home at the air temple.

Izuku had long been curious about the limits of Shouta’s bending abilities, and the questions he asked about him, about his life before the air temple had always been ceaseless. It hadn’t been until Izuku was fourteen that Shouta had reluctantly told him about why he really left, and that had been a mistake; Izuku’s fascination with the idea of bloodbending had thereon out been endless.

Shouta had come home from a long shopping trip in the village, being constantly accosted with questions about the wife the female villagers had created to amuse themselves and having spent the better part of an hour haggling with a vendor about the cost of a loaf of god damn bread.

Shouta had already been at his wits end, but when he walked into their shared house and saw little Izuku half killing the cat with a pitiful attempt at bloodbending, Shouta had snapped.

Are you stupid, he’d hissed, dousing his scarf in water from a nearby vase and trapping Izuku in the wet fabric, shocking him out of his hold on Fluffy. You’ll kill her like that. Are you trying to kill her?

Izuku had been red in the face with shame, but hadn’t totally backed down. I’ve been having to teach myself how to bend since you won’t, Aizawa! I’m sorry I hurt her, but I need to practice somehow.

No, you don’t, Shouta had snapped, releasing Izuku and stalking past him to shoo the cat away. I told you that I would teach you what I thought you were ready for. Bloodbending is way above your pay grade, kid. You’re done with this bending bullshit, by the way. If you can’t be patient and learn at a proper pace, you won’t do it at all.

Izuku had stalked to his room with tears in his eyes, and it took hours for Shouta’s hackles to totally settle. He made that evening’s meal with much more aggression than strictly necessary, but even then Shouta couldn’t relax all the way.

There had been reports of Fire Nation soldiers in the area, god dammit, and he’d told Izuku that he had to be extra cautious when out and about. Shouta had been considering leaving the area and moving farther northward, so they could at least try getting to the North Pole, but the firebenders in the area complicated things.

Shouta sighed heavily as he set two bowls on the table and called out for Izuku to get his ass to the table.

Minutes had passed when Shouta felt that something was distinctly wrong. The house had been too quiet.

He should have known.

He left the door open as he ran out of the house cursing, heading towards the sound of choppy water just as a geiser twice as tall as Toshi shot violently into the air, soaking the earth around Shouta.

Shouta’s heart pounded hard in his ears as he ran towards where Izuku stood, drenched and sheepish looking.

 

___

 

Izuku is the opposite of the kind of kid that sneaks out of the house when they’re mad at their parents.

But here he is, standing at the edge of the river bank with a scraped knee from kind of, sort of less ‘sneaking out through his window’ and more ‘falling out of his window when attempting to sneak out.’

As an additional act of teenage rebellion, Izuku whistles for Toshi to join him at the river’s edge, though he knows full well that Aizawa will throw a fit, should he see his companion hanging around so out in the open, being as big as he is.

Toshi hops his way over to Izuku, and Izuku frets over the noise he’s making as he settles down unceremoniously into the grass, nearly knocking Izuku over with his large head as he begs to be pet.

Izuku scratches at Toshi’s large ears affectionately, knowing from years of experience to duck out of the way as Toshi’s initial exhale comes out as fire. His scaly tail flicks serenely against the ground, and Izuku buries his face sadly in a patch of Toshi’s fur.

“Sensei is going to be so mad at me when he finds out I brought you out here,” Izuku says around the fur near his mouth, ending up with a bunch in his mouth that leaves him coughing. “But I’m so angry at him too! I’m, well,” Izuku doesn’t say the word out loud, fearing Aizawa’s wrath if he ever found out he muttered the A-word outside the privacy of their home, “but I need to be training! I need to be practicing my bending! Right?”

Toshi sneezes and rolls onto his side, his need for attention sated for now. Izuku groans, burying his face in his hands. “I know I shouldn’t have pushed his buttons with bending on Fluffy, but he won’t teach me! How else am I going to do what I need to do if he won’t let me learn?”

Toshi thumps a large foot against the ground excitedly. Izuku huffs, but can’t help the smile that breaks out onto his face. “You’re very unhelpful, you know.” Toshi just pounds his feet harder, flapping his wings for emphasis.

“And loud!”

Izuku turns his attention away from his companion and instead looks towards the water, wrapping his arms around himself. His eyes idly catch on a small rock near his feet; with great concentration he stares at it, willing it to explode or skip across the water or even just move.

The rock stays put, and Izuku huffs again, frustrated.

He unwinds his hands from around himself and slowly begins pulling at the water in front of him, smiling at how easily it moves with him. He twirls a bit of it in the air, attempting to make something resembling Aizawa’s likeness but just ending up with a fat-headed blob. He yells in surprise as something brushes against his leg and he drops the water all over his shoes.

“Oh.” Fluffy rubs once more against his leg, getting black fur all over the leg of his pants. “I’m sorry about earlier. Is this your way of forgiving me?”

He reaches down to pet her head affectionately, and she sinks her teeth into his fingers hard enough to draw blood.

Not quite yet, then.

Fluffy, seemingly satisfied with her revenge, lazily struts over to where Toshi has seemingly fallen asleep, and after a few moments of climbing she settles into his large saddle, looking ready to nap herself. Izuku groans again at the lack of attention his companions are paying him.

“I know I complain about my only friends being animals, but you guys aren’t so bad! Come pay attention to me,” he moans, pouting when he gets no response from either of them.

With a resigned sigh he turns back to the river and begins pulling at the water again, sending it high into the air and letting it splash back down again. He grins at the control he manages to have over it.

“See?” he asks, much louder than strictly necessary, beaming at his own handiwork. “I can control my bending! I don’t know what Sensei’s problem is!”

On his final attempt, Izuku pulls a bit too much water out of the river, but he doesn’t allow himself to quit when he’s done so well already. He pulls at the water, having to be a bit rougher with how much there is, but he miscalculates the force it takes to send it up into the air and the water ends up shooting up much higher than he intends.

The water is loud as it comes crashing to the ground, soaking a large area around himself. He feels himself flush, embarrassed at losing control, but before he can dwell on it much Aizawa is running towards him, eyes narrowed in what Izuku can only describe as fury .

“Midoriya, what are you doing?” Izuku flinches at the name; he only gets called Midoriya when Aizawa is really mad at him. “Are you stupid? You just gave away your location! I told you there were firebenders in the area, come on, you need to run, let’s go--”

Izuku narrowly avoids being burned as shouting erupts around him. At least a dozen people donning the Fire Nation insignia have converged on the clearing, quickling moving inward towards him and Aizawa. He looks to Aizawa, panicked, and his heart drops to his feet as he notices Aizawa clenching his shoulder, his shirt burnt away there and the skin sizzling.

Aizawa shoves Izuku roughly as another blast comes their way, and Izuku lands hard, eyes opened just enough to see Aizawa gritting his teeth through the pain and pulling a large amount of water from the river, soaking his scarf.

Heart pumping and dazed from the over stimulus, Izuku has to cover his ears as the Fire Nation soldiers begin shouting “catch the waterbender!” all around him. Izuku screams as one steps forward, sword in hand, and slashes wildly at Aizawa, opening a cut on his face that immediately begins to bleed.

“Sensei!” He can feel tears leaking down his cheeks as he watches Aizawa stumble briefly, hands grappling at the ground for stability before he bends his scarf around the throat of a firebender and tosses him roughly into the river.

Izuku manages to get to his feet as the soldiers converge on Aizawa, and as he mows down another two soldiers Izuku braces himself and prepares to blow another pair into the water.

He feels his muscles seize involuntarily, and immediately breath is hard to come by; his eyes find Aizawa’s, and he sees his right hand clenched tightly into a fist, fingers shaking.

Why isn’t he letting me help him?

“They don’t know,” Aizawa hisses darkly, pulling more water from the river and using to freeze a soldier to a tree. “Get out of here, Midoriya!”

“No!” Izuku screams, willing his arms to move, and feeling tears fall all the harder when they won’t. “I can help you, sensei, please, please don’t leave me, I--”

A fire blast is aimed at Aizawa’s back and he curses as he stumbles, his hold on Izuku breaking. He stares at Izuku, eyes narrowed, as he whistles for Toshi.

“The Northern Tribe is a three week travel from here. When you get there, ask for Master Nighteye. Tell him who you are and who sent you, he’ll teach you. Now go!”

Izuku hears Toshi land behind him and he shakes his head, full-on sobbing now, but the firebenders are beginning to turn their attention to Izuku, and he barely avoids being burned once again as he jumps backwards.

Toshi nudges Izuku with his nose and without thinking Izuku climbs into his saddle, only able to watch in horror as the rest of the benders converge on Aizawa, who immediately enters a battle stance again as he makes eye contact with Izuku one last time.

Izuku can’t hear Aizawa over the sound of his own crying, but from the way the firebenders begin to beat him bloody, Izuku can only imagine the sounds Aizawa’s making before he slumps over, unconscious.