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Shouta should’ve gone home an hour ago.

He sighs, pulling his scarf tighter against him, the wind biting at his exposed skin. He rarely stayed out past 2 AM, instead preferring to begin his shifts earlier and end them later. And now that he would start teaching next semester, he really couldn’t get into the habit of long nights.

But it’s 3 AM, and tonight’s been busy, too busy for Shouta to call it quits and head in, not when the district is as short-staffed as it is. Luckily it’s mostly been two-bit criminals--drunk bastards looking to get a high off of robbing a convenience store or mugging a bystander. It wasn’t as bad as destruction for the sake of destruction, but petty theft has always left a rancid sting on his tongue.

One of the muggers he’d apprehended did manage to get a quick swing on him, so there was a bit of a throb on the left side of his ribs, but nothing a bit of icing couldn’t fix. He considers himself lucky still, he’ll take a few minor injuries and night of constant, small-time activity to a city rampage any day.

Although for the past hour, it has been slowing down. The majority of the bars in this area close at 1 AM, so the streets have cleared considerably since then. There are still some stragglers, mostly college kids staggering home in groups of two or three; Shouta watches them mostly due to the fact that they’re easy prey for a robbing, but it seems most of the villains have gone home as well.

Shouta frowns, flicking a stray lock of hair out of his eyes. It seems silly calling them villains anyways. Pompous assholes is more like it. They’re not burning down buildings or kidnapping hostages or fuck, mass murders. Petty criminal activity at it’s finest, but it makes Shouta’s gut wrench all the same. Twice today he’s had a criminal laugh in his face after being caught, not caring about being caught, just happy to have fucked up someone’s day. Neither of them landed any injuries on a civilian, but it made Shouta’s blood boil, and he had to exercise a fair amount of control to keep a passive face.

He always tries to steel his own expression in the face of a capture, especially one like that. He never wants to give any of them the satisfaction.

Not that they needed any from him, clearly.

Perched on a rooftop, considering whether or not to stay where he is or move his positioning a few streets over, a blur of motion pulls him out of his thoughts. Immediately he squares himself, ready to leap as his eyes followed the blur. It’s a stark contrast against the dark, dirty, back alleys--an absolute force of green light shooting down the streets.

Shouta frowns. He begins moving on instinct, sticking to rooftops as he leaps over the city, but he doesn’t approach directly yet. It’s odd--the figure isn’t chasing anyone, and they aren’t being chased. They’re just--running. Running, with an activated quirk giving him super-speed.

His first instinct is that it’s another hero--but he knows all the pros who are posted in this district, and none of them have a quirk quite like that.

Obviously, his next thought is that it’s a villain--but that doesn’t seem to fit either. Their movements are fast, yes, but they don’t seem to have any purpose. They’re flying around corners--Shouta nearly struggling to keep him in sight, if he’s being brutally honest--making last second turns that only make sense if you’re being followed and don’t want to be followed, but this isn’t that.

Well, he’s technically being followed now. But he wasn’t, at least not that Shouta saw, when he first saw the person running.

Double checking that both of them aren’t being chased now, he picks up his own pace, gaining lead on the figure. Once he’s at a safe enough distance he activates his own quirk. It gives him pause, just for a beat, at how much effort he has to put into his erasure. He still manages, of course, but he wasn’t expecting the amount of sheer power nearly leaking from this quirk.

The figure stutters, of course, with the sudden loss of speed, but Shouta was prepared for that. He launches out his capture weapon, snagging it around the figure’s arm and midsection, pulling them up to keep them from eating dust on the cobblestone pathway. Swiftly, he leaps off the roof, coming to a crouch in front of the runner.

I really need to go to bed, Shouta thinks, because the figure blinking at him is a kid, a scrawny, wide-eyed kid. He saw that the figure was small, but the lightning emitting from his body obscured most of his features. Not to mention he’d previously only gotten a look at him from the backside.

“D--Did you…?” the kid stumbles, still staring up at Shouta. He seems completely unbothered at being restrained, making no move to escape. Instead, he seems almost...relaxed?

The kids breathing is labored--from exertion or something else, Shouta isn’t sure--and he’s fighting to get his words out. While his movements while running had been extremely frantic, he seems to be calming down now, practically settling his weight into the restraints.

“...My quirk?” he asks, and Shouta realizes that he hasn’t said anything, has just been staring the kid down, and then realizes oh yeah, and blinks. He feels his hair falling back against the nape of his neck, attempting (and failing) to blink away the dryness of his eyes.

The kid’s reaction is immediate. If his breath was labored before, he’s all but hyperventilating now. He’s also started shaking--not trying to get out of the binds, it doesn’t look like. Just...shaking.

“Ah--y-you’re Eraserhead, right? That’s what you did right? Y-you erased my quirk? P-please, I need you to--my quirk--”

Shit. Shouta doesn’t understand what’s going on, but this kid is shaking with what seems to be pure terror, so he doesn’t question it. Quickly Shouta flares up his own quirk--the kid must see the visible change because his panic subsides, if minutely. Slowly, carefully, he begins to loosen the bonds, as not to startle the kid. He’s still shaking, but he seems to be steady enough on his feet.

“I’m going to turn off my quirk now,” he states. The kid looks like he wants to object, but he doesn't. Small miracles. Shouta blinks, eyes stinging. He can feel a headache coming on and he wants to reach for his eyedrops, but the stammering child in front of him is his priority.

“Why were you running?” he asks, not particularly hopeful about getting an answer out of him. He was able to recognize Shouta, when most people wouldn’t be able to place a name to his face in broad daylight when they weren’t mid-panic, so he seems to have his wits about him well enough.

The kid opens his mouth, closes it, then opens it again. “I--my quirk. I had a nightmare, and I woke up, my quirk it--I couldn’t turn it off,” he mutters.

Shouta frowns. That’s...odd. He’s heard of kids being unable to control their quirks when they first manifest--it happened to Shouta himself--but give it a year and they usually become accustomed. Quirks are almost like an extra muscle--it shouldn’t spasm on it’s own unless there’s something wrong with it.

By age five, nearly every kid has gotten the hang of it. This kid looks like he’s nine, at the youngest.

“Can you control it now?” Shouta asks, and the kid blinks at him.

“I uh, yeah, I think so? For now.”

Good enough, Shouta supposes. Suppressing a sigh, he sits down against the wall of the alleyway--the alleyway is rather dingy, but his jumpsuit is already a dirtied mess of a lost cause--so he doesn’t feel like he’s looming over the boy. The boy’s eyes follow him, but he says nothing, just stares, trembling slightly.

Jesus. This time Shouta does sigh.

“Your quirk. You said you woke up, and you couldn’t control it. What couldn’t you control?” He knows it’s risky, considering the kid still seems a bit skittish and might freak out at the question, but it’s past 3 AM and he really doesn’t want to bring this kid down to the precinct if he can avoid it--he figures talking him down and figuring out where he’s actually supposed to be at this ungodly hour is the best option.

Probably.

The kid does look less like he’ll melt into the ground at any sudden movement, so Shouta counts that as a win. He does pause for a long moment, expression pained. It’s an expression he hates seeing on any child.

“I--my quirk,” he starts, no longer meeting Shouta’s eyes. “It’s like...raw energy. It makes me really strong, but it’s too strong, and it’s just too much, it’s too much, and I...I…” he hiccups, tears threatening the corner of his eyes.

Instinctively, Shouta wants to frown, but he keeps his face passive--he doesn’t want the kid to think he’s upset with him, because he’s not, he’s just...confused.

“So, when you activate it, you can’t control it?” He tries to keep his tone as smooth as possible, and thankfully the kid doesn’t flinch at his words, but he does shake his head.

“I didn’t activate it. I--I was sleeping, I was having a nightmare and I guess--my mom, she--she--”

He’s full on crying now, wiping his tears with the hem of his sleeve. It’s not the first time Shouta notices it, but the kid only has one arm--it’s more obvious now, the kid clearly trying to hunch in on himself and cover his face, but it’s much harder to do when he only has one arm to lean into.

“Hey, listen,” he says. Slowly, he reaches his own hand out, resting it on the boy’s shoulder. Barely touching, just a ghost of pressure, allowing the kid to shrug it off if he needs to. But he doesn’t--if anything, he leans into it. He’s still muttering, incomplete sentences and words too clouded by sobs for Shouta to catch, so Shouta tries to shush him. “Whatever happened, it’s going to be okay, alright? It’s going to be fine.”

The kid nods, but he’s still crying. It seems like he’s trying to reassure Shouta, and that almost makes him smile.

“I’m going to try and help you, okay? I’m a hero, remember? But in order to help you, I need to know what happened, can you help me out?”

The boy nods. This time Shouta does smile, barely a quirk of his lips, even though the kid isn’t looking at him, still wiping at his face.

“Can you start by telling me your name?”

The boy looks at him now, eyes wide and puffy, as if shocked by the question. “It’s--I’m Midoriya Izuku, Eraserhead, sir.”

Shouta nods. “Nice to meet you, Midoriya. Now if you’re able to, can you tell me exactly what happened?”

Midoriya pauses again, still crying, but it looks like he’s just mulling over his thoughts. Probably figuring out what to say, Shouta thinks. He gives him time.

Eventually, the sobs subside to quiet sniffles, and Midoriya begins to speak. “I...I was asleep. I was having a nightmare, and when I woke up, my quirk was, it was on, and it was too much, it’s always too much, but my mom came in and I--I grabbed her, and she screamed because it hurt, I hurt her, and I…”

He’s breathing in short, heavy pants again, tears flowing. Shouta doesn’t even know this kid and his chest is aching for him. Damn it all.

“You activated your quirk without realizing it?” Shouta asks. Midoriya nods shakily.

“It’s always--I never try to activate it, because it’s dangerous. It doesn’t--it doesn’t activate as often anymore, but when it does...I need to wait it out. For it to turn off. So I left.”

Ah. Well that explains the frantic running from before. Shouta had almost forgotten that’s why he’d stopped him in the first place. He still doesn’t understand completely--he knows it’s not unheard of for people to have volatile quirks, or quirks that are hard to control. But usually with a doctor’s analysis and help, they’re able to get it under control.

Like a jolt in the back of his mind, Shouta remembers how powerful the kid’s quirk felt when he’d disarmed him--a facet of his own quirk was being able to feel someone else’s quirk when he erases it. It’s not particularly useful, other than judging the raw power someone possesses based on how strong their quirk feels, but that’s usually obvious from how they’re fighting. But Midoriya, he was just running, and having to turn off all of that energy…

He could see why this kid might be having some issues.

“Have you ever tried using it on your own accord?” Shouta asks, quietly. The kid stares at him, and he looks...almost guilty?

“The first time I felt it...I tried to actively use it,” it’s barely a whisper, Shouta has to strain to hear him but he doesn’t dare ask him to speak up. “I ended up doing this to my arm.”

He’s pointing at his right side, where there’s just empty space next to his ribcage.

--------

Shouta blinks, and struggles to keep his composure for the sake of the kid, because...

Shit.

He’s heard of people losing control of their quirks—again, mostly kids who haven’t learned to use them properly. Accidents often happen, where people can’t control the exact output, especially with the more dangerous emitter types out there. And of course people sometimes get damaged by their own quirk, either because of their own internal backlash, carelessness, or again, because they’re 4 years old and they don’t know what they’re doing.

But this kid...this kid is implying that his own backlash destroyed his whole limb.

Well, that’s not good, Shouta’s brain supplies, obviously and uselessly. But he can’t think of what else to say.

Small mercies, because the kid starts talking again, so Shouta just listens, and tries to calm himself from his reeling.

“I...I was seven, I was seven when I felt it for the first time, it just felt like power, and I was so excited, that I had to try using it! So I—I ended up punching a tree, thinking I might be able to get a dent into it...

He sniffs, and Shouta thinks he might start crying again, but he doesn’t. His eyes are still bloodshot, but they’re oddly...calm. “I ended up punching through the entire tree, and my arm was broken beyond repair. They had to...amputate it.

“And--and I know it was stupid! I know I shouldn’t have tried it, but I felt...I finally felt...”

A few things loop over in Shouta’s mind. Namely, that the kid didn’t have his power manifest until he was seven. Which isn’t unheard of necessarily, but it’s...extremely rare. Usually it’ll be some type of “hidden quirk” that doesn’t present itself until the situation calls for it.

But this? This is anything but hidden. This quirk is an emitter type, but it’s activating on its own. Which...should not be happening.

Midoriya has trailed off, mumbling instinctively under his breath. Shouta replays the last thing he heard from him.

I finally felt…

“They must’ve deemed you quirkless, if you presented your quirk three years late.” It’s a statement, not a question, because Shouta is near-certain that’s what happens. The kid nods to confirm.

“I...yeah, they said I was quirkless. I even have the extra joint, so they were pretty certain I didn’t have anything hidden. But I guess I was just late…”

Shouta mentally freezes. That...that is odd. Very odd. He’s sure that it’s not impossible for someone to have a quirk and have the extra joint, but Shouta…

Shouta has never heard of such a case. Especially not so many generations in.

On it’s own, Shouta might’ve considered it as just odd, and paid little mind to it. A genetic mutation--it wasn’t so uncommon now, with quirks. But that, combined with him being a ‘late bloomer,’ combined with the raw power this kid possesses….

Shouta doesn’t know what to make of it.

But is it my place to make anything of it?

He doesn't know this kid. He isn’t his guardian, he isn’t responsible for him. He simply ran across him while out on patrol, and stopped the kid due to him running rampant through the city at 3 AM with an activated quirk. But he’s not Shouta’s responsibility.

Well, in regards to his quirk. But he should really take the kid home.

“...Thank you for trusting me,” Shouta says, softly. The kid stares at him for a minute, but then nods furiously.

“Of course I trust you! You--you’re a hero!”

Shouta doesn’t know what to say to that, so he simply nods, and stands. “Well, I hope you’ll trust me with one more thing. Where do you live? I really need to take you home.” Even if the kid needs to go to the hospital or something, he should get him back to his parents, since it’s currently not an emergency.

The kid, however, looks down, digging his heel into a crack in the road. “I--I know the area well, I can make it back just fine, you don’t need to do that.”

Shouta sighs. He can’t say he’s shocked, really, he should’ve been expecting this. “I wouldn’t be a very good hero if I left a child to his own accord, walking home at three in the morning,” Shouta drawls with a raised eyebrow. The kid seems to consider that, and doesn’t rebut. Good.

Slowly, slowly, Shouta reaches out, offering his own hand. The boy blinks, but then he grasps it weakly, more so just letting Shouta grab at him than actually holding his hand.

He’s probably worried about his quirk, Shouta thinks. But the kid hadn’t refused the gesture, so he counts it as a win.

He lets the boy lead him through the alleyways, Shouta’s weapon loose against his neck, at the ready. They’re only a few blocks away, once they’re back on the main roads, which Shouta is thankful for.

Eventually they reach an apartment complex. Midoriya turns to him, opening his mouth, but Shouta cuts him off. He’s pretty damn sure what the kid is gonna say.

“I’m not letting you out of my sight until you’re back with your mom, kid,” he states, and Midoriya shuts his mouth, and leads him towards the stairwell. Shouta almost smiles.

Stopping in front of one of the doors, Midoriya seems to hesitate. He can feel the kid trembling again, and yeah, that makes sense. But it he’s not going to knock, Shouta will.

Gently as he can, he nudges the kid’s shoulder. His head whips around, staring him down for only a moment, but then he nods, and turns back towards the door.

He knocks four times, and barely a beat passes before he hears muffled scurrying, and the door flies open.

A teary-eyed woman answered the door, the light washing in from the apartment shows her hair to be the same shade of green as the kid’s, hers flat and straight while his is a wild mess. The mother, then.

“Izuku!” she screams, and bundles her son into her arms as sobs wrack her body. “Izuku, sweetie, it’s all right, it’s fine, I’m fine…”

The kid is crying now too, Shouta is sure of it. They stay embraced like that for a long moment, long enough where Shouta wonders if he should clear his throat to get the woman’s attention, but soon enough she lets her son go.

“We’ll talk, but in the morning,” she states, her voice wavering slightly, but much calmer now. Izuku nods, looking like he’s about to run off, but instead he turns to Shouta, and bows deeply.

“Thank you for helping me get home, Eraserhead,” he says softly. Shouta shifts his weight--he’s always uncomfortable with formal praise, but from this kid? He’ll accept it.

“You’re welcome, Midoriya.” he nods. The kid doesn’t manage a smile, but his eyes are much brighter when he nods, before turning back towards the apartment and entering.

“With a name like that, you must be a pro,” the woman says, and Shouta turns to her. She bows as well, and does manage a smile. “Midoriya Inko. Thank you so much for keeping him safe, I’m eternally grateful.”

Shouta coughs. “I’m sure he would’ve made it back on his own, anyhow,” he says. He then pauses, remembering himself. “But, you’re welcome.”

Midoriya Inko smiles. It looks fragile on her face, but it’s a true smile. “I won’t lie to you, it’s not the first time he’s run off like that, this late into the night. But I worry each time, all the same.”

As you should Shouta thinks to himself, but he just nods. The fact that this isn’t the first time the kid’s run off doesn’t surprise him in the slightest.

“I’m sure you know, but when I found him, his quirk was unstable. He seems to be fine now, but I should advise you to take him into a hospital or call for an ambulance if it happens again.”

Shouta knows that she knows this, judging by her grave nod, but he still has to say it.

“I--of course,” she says. Her voice is heavy on Shouta’s ears. “It hasn’t happened in awhile, but it’s always...bad when he does. It doesn’t happen too often in a row, but…” she trails off, glancing back towards the open doorway.

“He’s your son, of course. I trust your judgement, I’m just speaking to you as a pro.”

She tries to smile, and almost manages it. “Thank you for your concern, and your help. Thank you.”

Shouta nods. “I should be going. I’m glad that your son is alright, Ms Midoriya.”

This time, she really does smile. “I am too.”

--------

Three days pass, and Shouta runs into Midoriya at the hospital.

He thinks he might be mistaken at first, worried that he’s imagining the mop of green hair slumped down in one of the lobby’s waiting chairs, feet swinging as they dangle off the floor. He’s been thinking about the kid ever since he’d met him, telling himself he’s just worried for his safety, but he knows it’s more than that.

He’d come in for a set of cracked ribs he’d obtained in a fight that morning--he wasn’t even patrolling, on his way to buy kitty litter instead--but the fight had broken out and Shouta was there. It had ended quickly, the villain only getting a few hits in, but the ones he did manage packed a hell of a punch.

He really didn’t want to come to the hospital, but the sharp pain in his chest was impossible to ignore, and he knew Hizashi would be pissed if he came home with broken bones. Again.

But thanks to the nurse’s quirk, he’s ribs are healed enough for him to be discharged, and he’s on his way out when he spots the kid, chin resting on his hand, a bored expression plastered across his face.

Midoriya must sense him staring, because he looks up, blinks, and then his eyes register with recognition. “Eraserhead?”

“Hey, kid,” he says, walking across the lobby to sit beside him.

“Are you okay?” he questions as soon as Shouta plops himself down. Jesus, this kid.

“Yeah, I’m fine. Just a minor injury this morning.” He considers lying, saying he wasn’t injured, but he feels like lying won’t work on this kid. Midoriya still looks like he wants to protest, so Shouta cuts him off before he can.

“Really kid, I’m fine. Low level villain, got a couple hits on me but the nurses patched me up. They wouldn’t have let me leave, otherwise.”

That seems to be enough for him because he nods in acceptance.

“But, are you okay?”

“Me?” Midoriya asks, as if being asked such a question is strange when he’s hanging out in a hospital. “Oh yeah, I’m fine,” he says, almost absently. “My mom is picking up my quirk suppressants, it’s just...a lot of paperwork.”

Shouta blinks. Quirk suppressants?

He’s shocked, to say the least, that this kid even has a prescription for it. Quirk suppressants are really only used in emergency situations, either to contain a villain, or to stop someone who’s a danger to themselves or others involuntarily. He knows this is true with Midoriya, but it’s still rare that they would ever be prescribed regularly. They do the trick, but they’re known to be possibly harmful, when used in even moderate excess.

Shouta vaguely wonders how often he’s been taking them.

“I mean--I barely use them!” the kid bursts out, clearly having read Shouta’s face. “It’s really only for emergencies, and because I was out the uh...the other night, my mom wanted to come get them, just to have, because it hasn’t happened in awhile! But it still happens sometimes...obviously…”

Shouta frowns. “That’s their solution? Quirk suppressants?” It’s more to himself than it is to Midoriya, but the kid still answers him.

“They’ve tried...a lot of things. They don’t seem to know what to do. They kept me under observation for a while after my...accident,” the singular word seems to be dragged roughly out of his mouth, and Shouta has to fight himself from flinching. “But because it doesn’t flare up that bad anymore, they let me live at home.”

Well that’s...something. He does know that some people have to be kept under twenty-four hour care, primarily due to mental illness where they cannot properly control their quirk. But that isn’t Midoriya’s case--it seems that with him, his quirk is actively working against him.

Still though...it’s not like he has no control over it, it seems. He’d said it had activated on it’s own accord, three nights ago. But he’d been using it to run, and it hadn’t destroyed him.

So it seems that it should be possible to control. Just...difficult. Very difficult.

“I always wanted to be a hero,” Midoriya mumbles, and Shouta turns back towards him, pulled from his own thoughts. The kid is speaking softly, and Shouta can’t quite place his tone. “When I was four, and the doctors told me I was quirkless, I didn’t know what I would do. Then I was seven, and my quirk came in, only for it to immediately start destroying my body.” He laughs a bitter laugh, one that a child shouldn’t be able to muster. “I still want to be a hero! I do! But...how can I do that without using my quirk?”

Shouta understands why he laughed. It truly is a twisted fate of irony--to be deemed quirkless, only to realize his quirk later on--a quirk that’s too powerful for him to handle. Shouta is still baffled by the whole scenario, but that’s not what’s pressing right now. Because, God help him, he’s really going to do this.

“What if you could control it?” Shouta asks, and the kid stills. Slowly, he turns towards him, head tilted and eyes wide.

“I’ve tried controlling it, but it’s too dangerous to use,” the kid mutters, averting his gaze once more.

“Yes, because you can’t turn it off. But if I was there, I could turn it off for you.”

A pause. Shouta finds himself holding his breath.

“...are you offering to train me?” Shouta doesn’t miss the glint of hope in his voice. Fuck it all.

“Yeah, I guess I am.”

Shouta knows that he shouldn’t. He really shouldn’t, because he already knows how difficult this is going to be--not that Shouta has ever backed down from something just because it might be difficult, he would’ve picked a different profession had that been the case--but he already has his pro career, on top of his new teaching career…

But how could he hope to be a good teacher if he can’t help this one kid?

The kid is staring at him again, a wide smile growing on his face. “Really? Like, you’ll actually train me? To use my quirk? Because that would be...that would be…”

He seems to be at a loss for words, which is honestly impressive, considering how much he was muttering the other night. Shouta allows Midoriya a minute to gather himself before he continues. “But, I’m going to be up front with you right now, kid. If at all while we’re doing this, if I ever think that it’s too dangerous, or that you’re going to lose control, or that you won’t be able to control it at all, we’re going to stop, and you’re not going to argue with me. Some people just don’t have quirks suited for being a hero.” Life isn’t fair, he doesn’t say, because he doesn’t need to say what this kid already knows.

The kid nods, smile dimmed but not gone completely. He’s practically vibrating in his seat however, and Shouta worries his quirk might flare up. Does it depend on his energy? Or is it completely random?

God help him. What did he sign himself up for?

“Izuku!”

Shouta looks up, and sees Midoriya Inko walking towards them, a small paper bag clutched in her hands. “I swear, they add new papers to sign every time we--oh, hello Eraserhead!”

The elder Midoriya smiles at him, and Shouta rises out of his seat to great her. “Hello Ms Midoriya. And uh--It’s Aizawa Shouta.”

Her smile brightens. “Aizawa, then. Are you doing alright? I hope you aren’t here for anything serious.”

Shouta shakes his head. “I had a run in with a villain this morning, but they healed me up just fine. I’m glad to see that Midoriya is doing better,”

“Yes, the past few days have been good, thankfully,” she nods, Izuku shifting quietly at her side. Still grinning, she cocks her head at him. “I was just about to head home and cook lunch for Izuku, would you care to join us?”

Shouta blinks. “I uh--I really--”

“If you have to get back to working, of course, I completely understand, but I’d love to thank you properly, for the other night.”

“I...don’t actually have to work until 9 PM,” Shouta states, already knowing he’s not going to get out of this one. Ms Midoriya beams.

“Perfect! We’re just a few stops over on the A line.” Shouta nods, following the two of them out of the lobby and out onto the street.

The kid is quiet, as the walk down the sidewalk towards the train station, but Shouta can practically feel his pent up energy. Probably still buzzing from what Shouta told him earlier.

“Izuku, why don’t you run up ahead and press the signal button?” Ms Midoriya asks. Shouta turns to her, seeing her gesture at the pedestrian signal down the road. The kid nods, smiles, and walks ahead of them.

“Did you tell him about the villain fight this morning?” she whispers to him, not turning her head. Shouta falters for a moment, feeling oddly like he’s about to be scolded by a teacher.

“Yes, I did.”

She laughs quietly, and Shouta holds back a frown. “Ah, that’s why. He’s probably aching to ask you about it, but he wants to be polite.”

Shouta hums to himself. Well, the kid does want to be a hero. It would make sense that he’d be interested in the details of fights. “He can ask, I don’t mind.”

Ms Midoriya laughs again, but this time Shouta feels like he’s missing something.

They catch up to the boy quickly, he eyes the both of them but doesn’t say anything. They cross the street and step down into the train station in a silence that Shouta thought would’ve been awkward, but is relatively comfortable. It’s not until they’re on the platform, waiting for the train that Ms Midoriya speaks again.

“Izuku, did you want to ask Mr Aizawa about the villain fight today?”

Midoriya turns from his mother to Shouta, eyebrows raised in question. Shouta nods. “Go ahead, kid.”

Long gone is the solemn mood from the hospital, when Shouta first saw him. Now words are tumbling out of his mouth like a leaking dam, the kid practically bouncing on the balls of his feet.

“What kind of quirk did the villain have? Was it just one villain? Was it just you, or were there other heroes fighting? How long was the fight? Where was it, like what kind of terrain was it on? Where there--”

He blinks. The kid just continues asking question after question, rapid fire, not even giving Shouta half a second to respond. He looks over and sees Ms Midoriya suppressing a laugh behind her hand. Turning back towards the kid, he fights to keep his eyes from rolling into the back of his head.

On the train, he gets through most of the kid’s questions. Yes, it was just him fighting, and just one villain. He’d happen to be walking past a park, which was perfect because the villain was able to control the movement and growth of plants, in which he had multiple people entangled in grass and was moving towards the trees, which obviously wasn’t good, considering their close proximity to the houses nearby. Shouta was able to suppress his quirk quickly, but the man was bulky, and skilled in hand-to-hand combat, thus the cracked ribs. Luckily he’d managed to detain him quickly, and their were no injuries to any civilians, besides minor bruising from the grass restraints.

“So he must’ve been able to strengthen the grass too, right?” Midoriya asks. They’re off the train now, walking back to the Midoriyas apartment. Shouta pauses briefly, then nods. He hadn’t thought about it at the time, but he figures the villain must’ve been able to do that, if the civilians had been restrained thoroughly enough to receive bruising from elongated grass.

Midoriya nods, clearly lost in his own thoughts. Shouta feels more exhausted from answering all the questions than he does from the fight. He’s clearly going to need to bitch out Hizashi (again) for submitting his application to U.A. on his behalf, because dealing with this on a daily bases, from twenty high schoolers, is going to kill him faster than any villain could.

They reach the apartment shortly after, and as soon as they enter the doorway, Midoriya bolts down the hall. “I’ll be right back!” he calls over his shoulder, and his mother just smiles.

“He’s probably going to write down everything you’ve just told him, before he forgets.” Ms Midoriya states, turning towards the kitchen. Unsure of what to do, he follows behind her. The apartment is a simple open concept, small but not confining. Well lived in.

He did happen to notice the pictures in the hallway and the living room when he was walking over--they’re mostly just of Izuku, some of Ms Midoriya and him together, but no other siblings. No second parent.

As he watches Ms Midoriya shuffle around the kitchen, gathering pots and pans and food from the fridge, he recalls what she had said to him a few minutes ago.

“Write it down?”

She turns to him, nodding fondly as she smiles. “He’s been writing in them since he was about four. Quirk analysis, mostly. Heroes, villains, really anyone he meets.”

Shouta raises an eyebrow. At first he thought the questions were typical fanboy questions--kids his age are almost always enamored by hero work and villain fights--but a few questions in it became clear that the kid wasn’t looking for a step-by-step recreation of the fight for his imagination, no, he was asking specific questions, about both the strategy of Shouta and the villain. While the questions were extensive and exhaustive, he willingly supplied them all to the best of his knowledge--sometimes he doesn’t remember every detail of the fight, too caught up in the action, relying more on training and instinct than anything.

So, he’s not particularly surprised to hear that this kid is keeping notes. A little impressed, he might even admit--he never bothered with such things until he was attending U.A. and he actually had to.

“He’ll probably be awhile,” Ms Midoriya admits, sounding a bit sheepish. She pulls out a rice cooker, and starts a small pot of water to boil on the stove. That done, she turns back around towards him, where he’s awkwardly leaning against the table.

“I really can’t thank you enough,” she says, and Shouta blinks at her. Oh, yeah. Right.

“I was just doing my job,” he states, and she waves him off.

“You’re job would’ve been to bring him to the police. I called them myself, of course, but I’m glad that you brought him home instead. He doesn’t…” she trails off, smile faltering. “Like I said before, it wasn’t his first time running off. But I know why he does it. The officers just scold him, both for running off and using his quirk. Most of them don’t understand the situation, and don’t bother to hear him out.

Shouta nods slightly. His experience with the police force has been relatively positive, if he’s being honest. Usually he won’t stick around for long, however, leaving as soon as he can after they detain the criminal and check over his license. But he has heard from other pros that it doesn’t always go down so smoothly.

“I always worry, of course,” she says, her voice small. “But…sometimes I just don’t know what else to do.”

The silence is heavy, only broken by the bubbling of water. Once it boils, she turns around, throwing in some curry cubes and stirring a bit, and they’re both still once more.

“That’s...actually something I wanted to talk to you about,” Shouta starts, and she turns to him. He takes a deep breath, mentally steadying himself. “I believe that...with proper training, your son will be able to control his quirk. I’m beginning a teaching career at U.A. starting next semester.” Her eyes go slightly wide at that, but she says nothing. Shouta continues. “I don’t know how much you know about my quirk, but I have the ability to erase someone else’s quirk by looking at them. Because of those two reasons, I feel that I would be qualified to try and help teach Midoriya how to control his own quirk.”

It’s quiet for a moment, and very, very still. He stays tense, wondering what she’s thinking. If she’s angry, that this practical stranger would suggest that this boy use his quirk, one that’s already destroyed an entire part of his body. But she’s not shaking, not screaming. She seems to be...thinking.

“Why do you want to help him?” she asks. Her voice is still quiet, yet firm, and the question catches him off guard.

“I...because I think he has great potential,” Shouta states, simply. “And if a child like that has such potential, he should be given a fair chance. I’m sure there are more qualified trainers out there, but most wouldn’t be willing to take on a case so risky.” The last part comes out rushed, but it’s true, and it’s something he’s thought about. He could’ve simply made a recommendation as a pro hero to a local trainer, and that would’ve counted for a lot, but if they consider the boy to be a liability, he doubts they would take him under their wing. Because of Shouta’s own quirk, he would likely be one of the best people to handle the boy.

Ms Midoriya looks at him again, opens her mouth, but she’s cut off by the ding of a kitchen timer. “Oh, shoot,” she chides, turning back towards the stove. “Mr Aizawa, would you mind getting Izuku? His door is the first one on the right.”

Shouta pauses, thrown by the tabling of the discussion, but she hadn’t said no, so he does as she asks and turns back towards the hallway.

His room is easy to find, especially considering his name is on it, a wall hanging with All Might’s iconic hair...bangs? Spikes? Rabbit ears? He’s never known what to call them (other than incredibly stupid), but he mentally shakes the thought away and knocks on the door. He hears a muffled “Come in!” and pushes into the room.

The first thing Shouta notices, of course, are the posters. All of All Might. He suppresses a sigh--he can’t blame the kid for liking the hero. It’s not like Shouta can deny the impact the man has made, how much good he’s done for Japan just in terms of discouraging villainous activity, never mind all the lives he’s saved. He’s just always...so much.

Shouta has never worked with All Might, due to the nature of himself being an underground hero, and All Might practically living in the press spotlight, but he has seen the man work. And it really is truly incredible, despite how he may feel about the man’s...personality.

The main issue with heroing being a mainstream business and villain attacks being so commonplace is that the world has become desensitized to it. Unless it’s a large-scale attack, the public won’t shy away from a fight, instead clamouring towards it with phones and cameras at the ready. Which just...isn’t safe. Another one of the benefits of being an underground hero, but that doesn’t mean it still doesn’t make Shouta uneasy with how callous some of the pros are about their spectators.

And no one draws in spectators like All Might does.

Looking past the poster-lined walls, he sees Midoriya at his desk, hand moving fierce across the paper. He walks up beside him, and the boy finally looks up, blinking.

“Oh! Eraserhead! I thought you were my mom…” the boy looks slightly sheepish, cheeks glinting with color. He places his pen down next to the paperweight holding the notebook in place on his desk.

“Aizawa.”

“Huh?”

“Call me Aizawa,” Shouta repeats, the boy only hesitating for half a beat before he nods. “And your mom just asked me to call you over for lunch, but you can finish writing.”

“I uh, I was pretty much done anyways,” he moves to close the notebook, and Shouta finds himself staring at the cover.

“Volume ten?”

Midoriya nods, returning the book to the shelf on his desk, at the end of a series of identical composition books. “I’ve always been interested in quirk analysis, but eventually it became me trying to study and gain the info I’d need to be a hero. I also had to relearn how to write with my opposite hand after my...accident...so it helped with that too…” he trails off, staring down at his desk and deliberately not at Shouta.

“You really are dedicated.”

It’s a statement, not a question, and the boy finally looks at him again, expression curious. “I, well, yeah. I’ve always wanted to be a hero. And I figured that if I didn’t have a quirk, or if I couldn’t use my quirk, there had to be something that I could do.”

Shouta nods. Honestly, he wouldn’t be shocked if proper smarts and quirk analysis could get him into Gen Ed at U.A. But that’s not what this kid is aiming for.

“I told your mom, by the way.” At that Midoriya flinches, and, yeah, that seems like a proper reaction.

“You did? I, uh...what did she say?” Again, he looks like he’s restraining hope that must be bubbling up inside him. Shouta sighs.

“She told me to come tell you it’s time to eat.”

Midoriya blinks. “I...well. That isn’t a no?”

Shouta snorts. “I’ll talk to her again. But she really did say it’s time to eat.”

Ms Midoriya cooks them a simple chicken curry, which Aizawa does his best to eat politely and not absolutely scarf down. He probably hasn’t had a decent home-cooked meal since Lunch Rush was cooking for him at U.A., usually sleeping through lunch and sticking with pre-packaged or frozen dinner meals.

It’s when he’s nearly done with his second portion, that the relative silence breaks. “Izuku, Mr Aizawa told me he wants to train you.”

She sounds extremely casual about it, and Shouta nearly drops his chopsticks. Midoriya actually does.

“I, uh, yeah, he mentioned it to me,” the boy stammers out. Shouta can’t quite read his expression. Ms Midoriya smiles at her son, then turns to Shouta.

“Since he was seven, I’ve brought Izuku to so many doctors and quirk specialists. They all told us the same thing--that he was a late bloomer, and he would soon gain control of his quirk like everyone else. When he destroyed his own arm, they wrote it off as a “freak accident,” and recommended quirk suppressants until he “grows into his power.” It’s been four years since then, and while things have gotten better…” she looks at her son, eyes so filled with love it makes Shouta’s own chest ache. “I still don’t have a solution. But you’re a pro hero, and a teacher. If you truly think you can help my son...then I will allow you to train him.”

Shouta stills, mind whirring as he absorbs her words. She’s looking at him, patiently, not expectantly. Midoriya is staring at the floor.

He clears his throat. “I can’t guarantee that he’ll be able to control his quirk. With all the cases I’ve seen as a hero, I’ve never heard a situation as...specific as his. But I do believe that I can try to train him, and I can do so safely and controlled.”

The boy looks up at him, eyes wide and glistening, and then back to his mother. He doesn’t say anything.

“I...I feel like a bad mother, sometimes,” Ms Midoriya says. Her voice is cracked, wavering, and Shouta frowns. “I know I should try to keep him safe, that I shouldn’t let him use his quirk at all, when it’s so destructive. But...but I already gave up on his dream once, when they deemed him quirkless. If this is what he wants to do...then please, train him, if you can.”

“Mom…” Ms Midoriya is dabbing at her eyes with the edge of a napkin. Her son is tugging at the hem of her shirt, letting his own tears stream freely down his face. Swifty, Ms Midoriya reaches over and pulls her son into her lap, hugging him fiercely.

Shouta doesn’t normally act on such a whim, like this. Offering himself up to a near stranger, offering a possible solution to a problem he doesn’t completely understand. He doesn’t know if he can actually help Midoriya. But seeing that boy in the alleyway in the dead of night, literally run rampant by his own quirk. Betrayed by his own biology, yet more concerned about his mother than the effects it had on his own body…

Shouta doesn’t normally act on such a gut feeling. But he knew that he had to at least try.

“I’ll keep your son safe,” Shouta forces out. It’s hard to speak, with how dry his throat is, how heavy his own tongue feels. “I promise.”

Chapter Text

“Shouta! You’re home!”

Shouta is all but tackled to the ground in his own doorway, just like he always is, when he comes home to Hizashi. A wet kiss is planted on his cheek, and he shoves Hizashi off with a grimace.

“Do you always need to do that?”

“You know you love it,” Hizashi smirks, and Shouta rolls his eyes, moving towards the couch.

He ended up staying at the Midoriyas’ apartment longer than he meant to, working out a few quick details, the main one being that Shouta would come over the following day to further discuss Izuku’s training. While still looking a bit nervous, Midoriya seemed like he was going to start bouncing off the walls with excitement, he’d been almost jittery with it. Shouta figured it’d be good to give him a day to process things.

It’s well after 3 PM now and Hizashi, done with his morning shift, is lounging around in a gaudy oversized sweater and printed boxer shorts. A Western cartoon show is playing on the TV.

Shouta curls into one corner of their worn couch, eyeing Hizashi as he sits himself down as well, reaching for his bowl of cereal.

“Weren’t you just out getting kitty litter? Did something happen?” Hizashi asks, and shit, yeah, he should’ve texted Hizashi a bit more than a quick be home late after he was discharged from the hospital. It’s not like he tries to hide anything from Hizashi, Shouta just knows how he is, and he would’ve started fretting over nothing.

“Yeah, there was a villain attack,” Shouta starts, Hizashi’s eyes already going wide. “Before you start, it was nothing. The paramedics forced me to the hospital, but one of the nurses quirks healed me in a few minutes. Just a couple cracked ribs.”

Hizashi nods, his eyes no longer panicked, but not as lively as they were a few minutes ago. Sighing, Shouta reaches for his partner’s hand, running the pads of his fingers over his palm.

“I’m...sorry. I should’ve told you right after.”

Hizashi finally smiles again, grasping his hand as he waves him off. “It’s fine, it happens. I’m just glad it wasn’t anything big.”

They both know the risks of being pro heroes, of course, and making a big deal out of every attack just isn't realistic, it would be too emotionally draining on the both of them. But being caught up in a fight while not on the clock, when not patrolling, is a bit different, and Shouta knows how much it makes Hizashi worry.

“...Did you end up getting kitty litter, though?”

Shouta snorts, slipping his hand away, reaching to remove his scarf. “No, I ended up getting sidetracked after I was discharged. Remember that kid I told you about, from a couple nights ago?”

Hizashi pauses, then nods. “Yeah! The kid with the crazy quirk right?”

“I--yeah, him. Midoriya.” Shouta frowns, and Hizashi raises a brow at him, taking in a spoonful of some American branded cereal. “He was at the hospital earlier with his mother, picking up quirk suppressants.”

Hizashi’s face darkens. He places his bowl back onto the coffee table and mutes the TV. “Quirk suppressants? Is it really that bad?”

Shouta nods. “Apparently. His mother said he’s been to a lot of doctors and specialists, with no luck, but…”

“But?”

Shouta’s breath gets caught in his throat. “I...offered to train him. To try and train him. Because of my own quirk, I figured I might be able to, considering I can turn if off for him if it looks like it’s about to overwhelm him when he tries to use it.”

Shouta knows he has Hizashi’s full support with everything and anything he does, but he’s still nervous about how he’s going to react. Hizashi has been worried for him recently, considering he’s always exhausted from patrolling, and now he’s going to be starting a second job at U.A. (Shouta argues that Hizashi will now have three jobs, with pro-heroing, his radio station, and now U.A., but Hizashi has always had more energy than him). More so, however, he’s worried that Hizashi will flat out disagree with him, telling him that it’s too dangerous. And Shouta knows that he’s taking a risk, by doing this, but…

He still couldn’t just do nothing. Not when he very well may be the best person to help.

But Shouta’s nervousness about Hizashi’s reaction dissipates as soon as Hizashi’s smile begins to broaden, teeth gleaming as bright as his green eyes. “That’s great, Shouta! I’m sure the kiddo is excited!”

Shouta’s lips begin to quirk upward into his own smile. “Yeah, he is. But you don’t think it’s a mistake? I mean, I barely know how this kid’s quirk works, other than it being an emitter type.”

Hizashi taps a slender finger against his own chin. “It’s not superspeed? I thought you said he was running super fast down the alleyway?”

Shouta hums. He hadn’t told Hizashi everything the kid had told him, that night, just the more important details. “He...all I saw him do was run. But it seems to be more of a...muscle amplifier? More like a general enhancement quirk.”

Hizashi nods along with him. “So, he can’t control the strength of the output? Because I remember, even in middle school, I still had some trouble controlling the output of my quirk.”

Shouta sideyes him. “Your quirk didn’t destroy one of your own limbs.”

Hizashi blinks, gaping slightly. “He...really? That really happened? Oh, God, poor kid. What happened?”

“He said he was seven, and his quirk activated for the first time. He tried to use it, once, and it destroyed his arm. They had to amputate him.”

There’s a lull, Hizashi’s expression clouding over once more. It’s almost unnatural on him--usually so bright and joyous, he could single handedly light up an entire room. Shouta hates seeing him like this.

Letting the atmosphere of the room settle for a moment, Shouta continues. “He’s eleven now, and while he seems to have a better control on it, it still often...activates on its own sometimes.”

“Without any known cause?”

Shouta shakes his head.

“That’s...really unusual,” Hizashi mutters, expressing how Shouta is feeling. Everything about it was unusual. Maybe all of them separately would’ve been odd, but not unheard of. He knew about Hizashi and his issues with his voice quirk, but it’s not like he’d wake up in the middle of the night screaming, voice quirk activated.

“If anyone can do it though, it’s you.”

Shouta looks up, and he sees Hizashi smiling fondly at him. Even after all these years, Shouta can’t control the flare of heat in his cheeks.

“I really hope so. He...he’s a good kid.”

Hizashi nods, still smiling. “And hey! We’re gonna be working at U.A. now, I’m sure they have plenty of resources for quirk research!”

This time it’s Shouta who nods, because yeah, he hadn’t really thought of that. He knew he’d have to do some research of course, but he hadn't thought about reaching out to U.A. The school itself would have plenty of files about different quirks on it’s servers, both for research purposes and for helping out it’s own students with training. There was also Nedzu, who he’s sure would be willing to lend a helping hand, even if that help would be….a bit long winded.

“And you’ll have me, of course!”

Hizashi is grinning at him, all teeth, giving him a huge thumbs-up. Shouta rolls his eyes and shoves at him, but he too finds himself smiling.

--------

Izuku can hardly sleep. He’s trying, he really is, but he just can’t help himself.

A pro hero--a pro hero!--just offered to train him. To use his quirk! It was hours later, Eraser--Mr Aizawa, having left shortly after lunch, with a promise to return Sunday afternoon to further discuss his training. Izuku could still feel the excitement bubbling in his chest--he’d been reviewing both his quirk notes and his regular classwork in an attempt to distract himself, but he was still too energetic.

Underlying the excitement, however, Izuku couldn’t manage to stomp out the nervousness. He supposed it was natural--he has spent the last four years actively fighting his quirk, so the prospect of trying to harness and wield it...was a bit frightening.

But still...Mr Aizawa was a pro! And his quirk was perfect for helping Izuku, he could just turn it off if it started to overpower his body.

While Eraserhead was an underground hero with very little public notoriety, Izuku still followed what he could with him, digging into the deepest subreddits, which tracked even the haziest of sightings of underground heroes. They were still signed to an agency of course, and those records were required by law to be publicly available--it was just that most of the public didn’t care about heroes who weren’t actively shining in the spotlight.

But Izuku didn’t care about notoriety. He loved all heroes, and he thought it was extremely noble of pros to not care about becoming famous, who just wanted to help.

And it was very clear to him that Eraserhead just wanted to help.

He could still hardly believe it, that a pro of any standing would be willing to train him, to take time out of their personal lives to help him.

But still...sitting up in bed, Izuku looked over at his right shoulder, and sighed. He couldn’t help but think...could he really be a hero like this? Never mind his quirk, wouldn’t this be an issue? Had Mr Aizawa simply overlooked it?

He doubted it--a pro wouldn’t overlook something so glaringly obvious. Ever since his accident...Izuku really tried not to think about his disability. He didn’t want to bring attention to it, didn’t want to think about his...limitations.

The year after the incident had been...hard. Very hard. Izuku couldn’t deny it--as much as he wanted to do so. Relearning how to write with his opposite hand had been truly horrendous. He still had difficulty with it sometimes--it was so much more natural now, he usually didn’t have to think about it. But if he was having an off day, or if he had been writing for too long, his writing would start to derail, and become a much slower process as a result.

There were other things too, of course. Once he began his physical therapy, he truly realized how many things relied on both hands being functional. Getting dressed had been another huge obstacle, something that frustrated him to tears, initially.

Now, however, he’s had four years of experience living like this, and while things are certainly easier, there’s a lot that just isn’t easy.

Izuku sighs, flopping himself onto his back, eyes glazing over his ceiling. He would talk to Mr Aizawa tomorrow, he decided. Of course he didn’t overlook Izuku’s arm, how could he? He was a professional. He wouldn’t have offered if he thought Izuku wasn’t--if he thought Izuku couldn’t--

He closes his eyes. Sighs again.

He just….he can’t help but wonder.

--------

When Shouta returns on Sunday, he can’t help but notice the lull in Midoriya’s energy.

Oh, he’s still excited, of course. That much is obvious. But there’s a gleam missing from his eyes, one that had been there yesterday when Shouta first told Midoriya that he would train him. At first, Shouta chalks it up to him being nervous about the whole thing, about having to actively use his quirk. But once they begin talking...Shouta can’t help but think that there’s something else on the boy’s mind.

“So, research first, right?” Izuku clarifies, and Shouta nods.

“Yes. I need to know everything I can about your quirk--I’m sure you’ve done your own research, but I’ll have to do my own, to figure out the best methods to use.”

They’re sitting in the Midoriyas’ living room, the three of them. Midoriya is nodding along with Shouta, and Midoriya Inko is nursing a cup of tea, a small smile on her face as she watches the both of them. She’d piped up every now and then when Shouta explained his plan--he would need some time beforehand, to do some research, and then Midoriya would train with him most weeknights. He would be working on his quirk, of course, but Shouta had also decided that the kid would need some hand-to-hand combat training as well, if he wanted to stand a chance at U.A.

“And that won’t be...dangerous?” Ms Midoriya had asked him, when he mentioned combat exercises. Shouta had simply shook his head.

“Not at all. Most of it will be him practicing moves on a dummy punching bag. We’ll do some sparring, but I’m experiencing in sparring for training, I can assure that it’ll all be very safe and very controlled.”

Ms Midoriya had nodded, seemingly satisfied with that answer. Shouta had almost let out a sigh of relief.

She had asked a few other questions, mostly about scheduling and making sure that Midoriya would stay on top of his schoolwork, and Shouta assured him that it wouldn’t interfere. That mostly depended on Midoriya actually keeping on top of his work, but he seriously doubted that would be an issue. His mother seemed to think so too, sending her son knowing glances.

But now, before Shouta can actually format a training regime, he has to do his best to research how exactly Midoriya’s quirk works, so he can begin to try and practice using it in the safest environment possible.

“I’ll be right back,” the boy says, nearly leaping off the couch and dashing into the hallway. At the same time, a buzzer goes off in the kitchen, and Ms Midoriya excuses herself.

Midoriya returns quickly, and he places a journal into Shouta’s hands.

Quirk--Superpower, reads the front of the composition book. Shouta quirks an eyebrow at that, looking up at the boy.

He sits back down onto the couch, looking a bit sheepish. “I...didn’t really know what to call my quirk. But it seems to amplify anything, so I figured that was as good of a name as any.”

Shouta can’t disagree with him, not really, so he simply nods. “This one is just what you know about your own quirk?”

“Everything I know,” Midoriya nods. Shouta is honestly a bit eager to flip through it, but decides he’ll save that for later, setting the book aside.

“I’ll start my research as soon as I can, and then we’ll work out something more concrete.”

Again, Midoriya just nods. He squirms a bit in his seat, cleary avoiding Shouta’s gaze. He cocks his head slightly, at the boy. Clearly, he’s filled with nervous energy, practically humming with it. But there’s something else…

“Uh, Mr Aizawa,” he starts, finally meeting Shouta’s eyes. He looks...almost guilty?

Shouta holds back a frown, because really, this boy has nothing to feel guilty about, or ashamed, or whatever distraught emotion is currently plaguing him. And it really does upset him, that he feels that way, because no child should feel that way over a set of shitty circumstances presented to them, ones that they’re forced to deal with. It happens, of course it happens, and at eleven years old, he can tell that Midoriya is already starting to shove the weight of the world onto his own shoulders. And it...upsets Shouta, to see that.

He’s not upset with the boy, of course, so he keeps his expression neutral and open, for the kid’s sake.

“I just...I have to confirm. I didn’t think you’d offer, if you thought it’d be an issue. But….”

He pauses, staring past Shouta’s shoulder. Shouta gives him time.

“Can I still be a hero, even with this arm?”

His arm?

….Oh, right.

It’s just that, he’s caught off guard, by the question. It’s not that he overlooked the boy’s disability, it’s that he saw the boy’s potential in spite of it. Sees his potential. And in the short time he’s known Izuku, he’s just seemed...confident, in it. Not unbothered, necessarily, but the way he carries himself makes it seem like he’s comfortable enough with it. Especially for an eleven year old, and especially when the incident happened semi-recently.

But, he muses, he should’ve figured that the boy’s own feelings were much more complex than that.

“It’ll be harder for you,” Shouta admits, bluntly. He’s not going to sugarcoat his words for this kid, mainly because he knows Midoriya doesn’t want that. He deserves respect, and he deserves the truth. “Only having one arm will definitely place limits on both your combat and rescue strategies. But if you’re willing to put in the effort,” and I know you are, Shouta doesn’t say, “then I don’t see any reason why it should be an issue.”

The kid seems a bit dumbstruck, for a moment, but quickly after Shouta is done speaking his face untwists itself from it’s shock, and a broad smile grows in its place.

“I--I, of course!” He nearly shouts, bouncing up and down on the edge of the couch. “I’m willing to do whatever it takes! I’ll work as hard as it takes, to become a hero!”

Shouta already knew that too. So he doesn’t say anything, just smiles along with the boy.

--------

It’s over a week after his talk with the Midoriyas, and Shouta finds himself bent over one of many textbooks on quirk analysis that he’d checked out of the library at U.A. This particular one is a fairly dated version, containing early research from within the first couple generations of quirk users. He’d thought that by going back a few editions, trying to see people puzzle together quirks rather than simply analyze them with now-established facts, it might provide useful in piecing together Midoriya’s situation.

And it is helping….somewhat. It’s just, there’s still so little that he truly knows about the boy’s quirk, since he can’t actually see him demonstrate it.

He has found much more information on people born with quirks that don’t necessarily suite their own body--typically it’s always emitters, but sometimes it’s mutations that leave people at a physical disadvantage. And the remedies he’s found, for those issues, aren’t particularly helpful.

In most cases, it’s some sort of outside technology that the person will use to help rectify the issue with the quirk. Sometimes, it’s because the person is using the quirk ‘improperly,’ thus putting unnecessary strain on their body. But again, in those cases, the issue is resolved internally, in that the quirk user figures out some other way to use it through trial and error.

But with Midoriya, that’s not really a possibility. Because in these cases, the quirk isn’t completely destroying their body. He’s yet to come across a case as devastating as Midoriya’s.

Quirks are supposed to be a natural extension of someone--it’s always compared to being an extra muscle that you have to train. But what do you do when you’re muscles are actively working against you?

And the other issue is the simple nature of his quirk--as far as Shouta can tell, it’s simple muscle amplification--and Midoriya had come to the same conclusion, in his own notes. So there shouldn’t be any wrong way to use it. It just seems that his quirk is too powerful.

Sighing, he rubs at his eyes. It’s nearing midnight--not really late, not for Shouta, but he’s been at this for the past three hours, and the textbooks are rather dry, if he’s being frank. Luckily he wasn’t scheduled for a patrol tonight, so he’d sat himself down, hoping to get some sort of an answer.

But, no, not really. He had a few ideas floating around, but it was such a delicate situation. Even with his own quirk, being able to use in on Midoriya, it’s still dangerous. And the last thing he wants to do is risk the kid’s safety.

A mug appears in front of his field of vision, being placed down next to the thick text in front of him. Shouta blinks, looks up, and is greeted with one of Hizashi’s broad smiles.

“Think you need a break, yeah?” he asks, and Shouta shrugs, reaching for the tea.

“Haven’t really accomplished much,” he grunts. Raising a brow, Hizashi peers over his shoulder, eyeing the book splayed out across the table.

“Looks boring!” he quips, and Shouta snorts, rolling his eyes.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s boring. I really need to figure this out.”

“Are you sure that you’ll be able to?”

Shouta frowns. It’s not a jab at him, of course not, not from Hizashi. He’s just being practical--because yeah, Shouta has thought about it. What if he can’t figure it out. Why should he be able to figure it out? He’s no quirk expert, and Midoriya had been waved off by both doctors and specialists alike regarding his...predicament. Told that he would grow into it--what a load of horseshit, really. But that was their profession, wasn’t it? Would Midoriya grow into it?

He glares at his steaming mug. Grow into it. The obvious answer, really, is that Midoriya needs practice with his quirk. But of course, he can’t.

Quirks need to be trained. Like any other muscle group.

Like any other….

Hm.

Slowly, he turns around, meeting Hizashi’s gaze. The man raises a brow at him.

“Why are you looking at me like you’re trying to erase me?”

Shouta rolls his eyes. He places his tea back down as Hizashi sits himself down next to him.

“His quirk is muscle amplification, right?” Shouta says, and Hizashi nods along with him. He’d updated Hizashi on everything he knows about Midoriya’s quirk, in hopes of bouncing ideas off of him. It’d been helpful, if only to vent his frustration about not finding a solution.

With Hizashi’s agreement, he continues. “So...maybe his muscles just aren’t strong enough yet.”

This time, it’s Hizashi who twists his lips. “Yeah, but shouldn’t his quirk automatically compensate, and grow with him?”

Shouta shrugs, looking back down at the book in front of him. “It should. But we already knew that.”

Hizashi hums. “I mean, yeah, that does make sense. The doctors did say that he would grow into it, right?”

They did, but from what Ms Midoriya said, it seemed more like a brush-off, that they couldn’t determine why his quirk was acting as it did, so they’d advised him not to use if for the time being, and check in once he’d grown. That doesn’t change the fact that it shouldn’t be something that the body has to physically catch up with, it should just flow naturally.

And that doesn’t change the current situation that they’re working with.

But, if Midoriya was physically stronger, his muscles naturally enhanced…

….could it really be that simple?

Well, of course it wasn’t going to be simple. Even going off of this idea, they’ll still have to be extremely careful, because they don’t have any definitive proof that enhanced strength will give him actual control over his quirk. On top of that, Midoriya was still young, just on the cusp of hitting puberty, if he were to guess. They would have to be careful about the kind of exercising they were going to be doing, as to not strain his body.

A tap on his shoulder pulls him from his thoughts, and he looks over towards the source. Hizashi is offering him a small smile, much different from his usual bolstering ones.

“Sorry,” Shouta mutters, “I’m just thinking about the logistics. I mean, it makes sense. Training a quirk is similar to naturally training the body. If Midoriya can naturally enhance his muscles, then it would put less strain on the quirk.”

It makes sense. It really does make sense.

But is it still too risky?

“Talk to the kid’s mom,” Hizashi says. “Tell her what you think the solution is. If she thinks it’s too dangerous, then you won’t do it.”

Shouta frowns, but nods. Hizashi is right, of course. But damn, if he doesn’t want this to work out for the kid. He really does deserve a fighting chance.

--------

The next day, Shouta visits Ms Midoriya while the kid is at school. He tells her his plan, tells her that he thinks if Midiroya were to become physically stronger, his emitter would have an easier time ‘flowing’ within himself, and thus giving him proper control over the quirk.

Once he’s finished his spiel, he feels a bit breathless. Ms Midoriya sips her tea, and Shouta controls himself from fidgeting in his seat.

“Your idea makes sense,” she agrees, and Shouta nearly lets out a sigh of release. It shocks him, really, how invested he’s becoming in such a short time. He tries not to think about it too much.

“But,” she continues, and Shouta looks up, meeting her eyes. They don’t betray her thoughts, expression remaining unreadable, yet calm. “You’re right. It’s still a risk. His quirk is so dangerous, I just…”

She sighs, and for a moment, Shouta sees it in her eyes--she’s truly distraught, she’s truly pained over this. And why shouldn’t she be? Her son, torn apart by his own quirk, but her son that still wants to be a hero, still wants to use said quirk to help people.

“Forgive me for being blunt, Ms Midoriya,” Shouta starts, and the woman eyes him carefully as he begins to speak. “But the way I see it, this is something that Midoriya has to live with, no matter what. You’ve told me that his episodes of quirk usage aren’t frequent, but they’re still there, and he’s still at risk of being harmed. Even if there’s risk involved, in training, it seems like it’s a risk that he cannot escape.”

Shouta knows that he’s probably overstepping. He’s barely known the kid for any time at all, especially compared to his own mother. And while it’s true that Midoriya is constantly at a risk to himself, technically, it would be a greater risk to actually try and use his quirk, rather than it flaring up occasionally on it’s own.

Again, Shouta knows this, and he knows that Ms Midoriya knows this. She’s gazing at him, her expression careful, measured. Shouta doesn’t push her for a response.

It’s a few, long moments later, when she takes a slow sip of her tea, puts it down gently, and begins to speak. “When Izuku was four, and was told that he didn’t have a quirk, I--I told him that I was sorry. That I was sorry, that he couldn’t be a hero.” Her words are calm, but the look in her eyes is almost distant, as she stares past Shouta. “When he was seven and finally got his quirk, only to destroy his own arm moments later, I...I didn't know what to tell him. And he didn’t seem to be looking for answers.”

She sighs, and Shouta stays very, very still. “I know it’s a risk, and maybe I’m terrible for letting him do this. But if he...if he doesn’t, he won’t be happy. I just know this. Even if--even if he can’t actually learn to use it, he won’t be happy, unless he knows that he’s tried everything he possibly can.”

Once again, her eyes meet Shouta’s, and he holds back from flinching under the weight of her gaze. “I’m trusting you with this, not because of your hero status--but because you seem to genuinely care about his well being. I don’t know what other motive you would have.”

“To be fair,” Shouta coughs, “you don’t really know me.”

She smiles, and it’s a small, frail thing. “I know. But I consider myself a good judge of character. Especially when it comes to my son.”

Shouta...doesn’t really know how to feel about that, other than thankful. But he nods, and takes a slow sip of his own tea.

“I’ll do my best. For your son.”

--------

So they set up a training regimine. Most weeknights, and every weekend that Shouta is free. Shouta had asks the kid if he had any other commitments, or if there were specific days he hung out with his friends--Midoriya doesn’t need to prove his own commitment to him by giving up his social life, Shouta isn’t cruel, and the kid is still, well, a kid.

When he asked, however, Midoriya gave him an odd look that Shouta couldn’t quite decipher. “I--sometimes I’ll try to watch in on villain fights, but that’s not really an extracurricular activity.

Shouta nods stiffly--he wants to scold the kid, say that he really, really shouldn’t be seeking out fights, but he’s not the kid’s father, and he’s sure his mother is aware.

He doesn’t mention anything about spending time with his friends, so Shouta figures he doesn’t have anything permanent scheduled with them. Better for the both of them, if they can both be flexible with their schedules.

Their first few visits are a bit awkward, but pretty relaxed. Shouta puts him through a simple fitness examination, just to determine the kid’s base levels. It’s about what he’d expect, from an eleven-year-old, even if a bit above average.

“Physical therapy,” Midoriya had stated, when he’d asked him if he’d done any sort of activity outside of gym classes at school. He doesn’t elaborate, and Shouta doesn’t ask.

Shouta is lucky enough that in his own apartment building, the basement is large and empty. Well, it’s empty now--it had been used as storage by his landlord. They’d worked out an agreement where if Shouta cleaned and cleared it out, he’d be free to use it as a makeshift gym. Along with a small hike in his rent, but with Hizashi’s and his new teaching job, it’s thankfully not an issue.

So they have a place to work out--he doesn’t have any flashy equipment, just some free weights and medicine balls, but that won’t be an issue, at least for now. Most of the early regimine focuses on Midoriya using his own body weight for conditioning, as well as cardio activity.

And the kid--as the days go on, he expects the kid to complain, or groan, or something. But no. A week goes by, and Midoriya comes in, chipper as ever, that same look of determination fierce in his eyes throughout the workout. Two weeks go by, and that burning fire within the kid only seems to grow.

It’s not for the first time, that Shouta wonders what the hell he’s gotten himself into.

--------

Shouta notices Midoriya’s sour expression before he notices him tugging at his right side.

“Hi, Mr Aizawa!” Midoriya greets him as he comes clamoring down the basement stairs. He says it with as much cheer as he always does, but it’s much more forced this time.

Shouta only nods absently, eyes trailing him as he unzips and tugs off his sweatshirt with practiced efficiency. It’s then that he sees what the kid had been pulling at--previously hidden under his sweatshirt is a prosthetic arm.

He is, admittedly, a bit curious. In the three months he’s been training Midoriya, he’s never seen him wearing a prosthetic. It makes him wonder if there’s any reason for the sudden change.

It seems to be pretty basic, as far as design. A realistic looking hand, with an adjustable wrist and elbow. When Midoriya shrugs off his shirt, he can see that there’s some sort of harness going across his chest--a harness that he begins to rip off quite forcefully.

“Sorry,” Midoriya says, sounding a bit sheepish as he tugs at one last strap. He then removes the prosthetic completely, revealing the typical black compression sock that Shouta usually sees him in. With a bit of a grimace, he places the prosthetic limb to the side, and turns back to Shouta. “I had a doctor’s appointment for a new fitting, and they always make me wear that thing afterwards.”

Shouta simply nods. He begins running Midoriya through his stretching and warm ups, but he can’t help but notice that the kid’s unusually quiet. Shouta holds back a frown.

It had started minutely, at first, Midoriya often muttering to himself during warm ups and various exercises and cutting himself off with a blush whenever he saw Aizawa raise an eyebrow at him. It wasn’t until a week later that Shouta finally said to him, “You can talk to me. I don’t mind.”

Apparently, that was all he needed, because after that he’d let his ramblings flow at full force. Shouta genuinely didn’t mind it, because it helped the boy focus, it seemed, in a strange way. On top of that, he never expected Shouta to say anything--it appeared that it was enough for Shouta to just be there, an open ear for his mutterings to latch on to.

But today, as they go through stretches together, the kid doesn’t speak. Until, suddenly, he does.

“I really hate that thing.”

Shouta looks up. They’re sitting on one of the mats, legs out in a ‘V’ shape as they reach out towards their toes. Midoriya is performing the stretch, of course, but his face is twisted into the same sour expression as it was when he entered. Shouta feels his own lips tug downward.

“You hate what?”

“The arm,” Midoriya says, a bit sourly. “They make me go for fittings, still, but I hate wearing it.”

Ah. That...makes sense, considering it’s the first time Shouta has seen the kid with the prosthetic. “Have you...told your doctors, that?” he asks, a bit uselessly. He really is out of his own depth, here.

“Yeah,” the kid sighs, and he sounds...defeated? Shouta’s heard Midoriya sound a lot of ways--happy, sad, frustrated, angry, even bitter--but never defeated. It sounds...wrong in his ears. “It’s….uncomfortable. The doctors say that it’s because I’m still growing, but I still...I just don’t like it.”

Shouta...really doesn’t know what to say to him. He wants to offer some sort of support, but he doesn’t want the kid to feel like he’s mocking him, offering some sort of obvious advice, or saying something he’s sure the kid has heard a million times. Not that he thinks Midoriya would take it as mocking, but all the same, he wants to avoid it.

“And I just...I got used to not using it, during physical therapy. And I was excited when I first got it! But...it’s clunky. It helps with some stuff, of course, that’s what it’s for. But….”

Obviously, Shouta can’t understand. But he can see where the kid is coming from. From the brief glimpse he caught of the device, it didn’t seem to be electronically powered in any way. He’s sure that it was helpful for stabilization sometimes, but he wasn’t well versed enough on the subject to determine the direct pros and cons of using one.

He did do research, of course, on martial arts and weight training for someone with an above-elbow amputation, but that was all sans-prosthetic.

Midoriya sighs, pulling Shouta out of his own thoughts. “It’s more of a passive prosthetic, it’s not electronically powered,” the kid states. Still splayed out in a ‘V’ he tucks one of his calfs against his thigh, laying back into the stretch. Shouta follows his gaze up towards the unfinished basement ceiling. “It’s covered under the insurance I guess, Mom said. She offered to get a better one, to buy a better one, but it would’ve been expensive. Really expensive.”

Shouta frowns. It’s obviously none of his business, but he knows that Inko is a single mother, and they’re not living in any sort of luxurious high-rise. Just a simple walk-up apartment. Unless they have a rather extensive savings that they’re choosing not to flaunt, it’s clear why Midoriya wouldn’t have wanted her to spend the money.

Damn kid, always selfless to a fault.

“And I don’t--it’s not like I need it, I can get around just fine without one.” He switches the leg that he’s stretching. Shouta can’t really see his expression front his angle. “Not that--I just got used to not using one, because after the--after the surgery, I had to wait a year before I could get fitted. So it’s just. Not necessary.”

Shouta nods, unsure of anything he can add. The kid’s not looking for comfort, not sympathy, and definitely not pity. There’s a lull, as they finish their stretching, and Midoriya stands.

“Thanks. For uh, listening to me. It’s...not something I usually talk about.”

Shouta simply nods again. “Of course, kid.” And he wants to say--something else. Something useful. But Midoriya just smiles at him, and it’s nearly as bright as it always is, so he supposes he can count it as a victory. Even if he really didn’t do anything.

They finish their stretching, and run through the workout together. If Midoriya is pushing himself more than he normally does--which is really saying something--well, Shouta doesn’t comment on it, he just makes sure he’s not going past his own limit, and lets him sweat it out.

When they’re done, the kid is panting, nearly drenched in his own sweat and flushed with exercion, but he’s smiling one hell of a smile. Shouta can’t help but return the gesture.

“You did good today, kid,” Shouta says as he starts packing up his belongings. Shouta doesn’t miss how the kid begins shoving both the harness and the prosthetic into his backpack.

At the praise, however, the kid turns and beams at him. “Thank you, Mr Aizawa!”

Shouta almost reaches his arm out in an attempt to ruffle the boys already unruly hair, when his brain catches up with his own actions.

You’re not the kid’s father, you’re just training him. Jesus.

Instead, he shoves his hands into his pocket, having felt his phone ping. He pulls it out, and looks at the screen.

“Your mom says she’s here, kid, get home safe.”

“Thanks again, Mr Aizawa, see you tomorrow!”

Shouta allows himself a smile, turning back to clean up the basement as the kid runs off.

--------

“Sorry, kid. I’m just too backed up on grading tonight, I really do have to cancel. But it’s Friday night, so go hang out with your friends.”

Shouta really does feel bad, cancelling on Midoriya. But fuck, he still has his responsibilities to his other kids, his students, and he really does need to catch up on his grading and lesson plans. He’s been putting them both off, trying to maintain some sort of semblance of sanity between teaching, late-night patrolling, Midoriya, and sleeping. Sure, his patrolling hours were significantly stripped down, only a few nights a week, but damn. Teaching was hard. And trying to teach Midoriya...that was probably more difficult than teaching a room full of twenty, if he was being entirely honest.

Not that it was any fault of the kid, really. But they’re ten months into the kids training--while they’re still only in the physical conditioning and martial arts stages of the regime right now, Shouta knows that they’re going to have to try using his quirk soon, and that’s...going to be difficult. Very difficult.

So yeah, he has to cancel on Midoriya for the night. Which is fine, they’re still making good progress. Plus, the kid has been doing so much, Shouta is sure he’ll be happy to have the night off.

Which is why he’s a bit confused when there’s silence ringing in his ears, before the boy says, “Are you sure there’s nothing I can’t do on my own?”

Shouta frowns at the student essay in front of him, eyes glazing over the words, unreading. “You’ve been working hard, kid. You deserve a break, considering you’ve been here nearly every night the past couple weeks.”

He almost feels bad, working the kid so hard--he is still only twelve, but even so, he’s probably shown more determination and dedication than half of the U.A. first years. And he never gives Midoriya more than he can take, despite what the kid might try to convince him otherwise.

“I would really rather train, if I can.” His voice comes out firmer, than it had before. Shouta opens his mouth, then closes it again, furrowing his brow as beat of silence passes. “I really don’t have anywhere else to be.”

The words feel...forced. Almost strained.

I really don’t have anywhere else to be.

Hm.

“...Fine, kid, you win. Go through the sets I showed you last week, and do some abdominal work. Let yourself into the basement.”

Shouta can practically feel the radiant smile coming through the receiver. He can’t help the quirk of his lips.

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa! I’ll be right over!”

“...I’ll try to come down if I finish up early.”

The kid thanks him again, his tone much more buoyant and lively than it was before, and it makes Shouta’s ribs ache. He ends the call, and frowns back down at the stack of papers in front of him.

It’s a few minutes later--Shouta still mulling over the conversation, unable to focus on the essays--when Hizashi walks in. He has his own stack of papers, red pen twirling between his fingertips.

“Wow, who’s paper is that, they’ve got you lost so deeply in thought?” Hizashi smirks, taking the seat next to him at their western style dinner table. Shouta rolls his eyes, mostly out of habit.

“No one’s, I was talking to Midoriya earlier.”

Hizashi hums. “I’m sure he was happy to have the night off. It’s Friday, after all, and he’s still a kid. He’ll live it up, I’m sure!”

Shouta shakes his head, and Hizashi’s face shifts, frowning at him. “No, he’s coming over anyway to work on some sets alone.”

Hizashi blinks, then barks out a laugh. “Man, that kid really is dedicated, I wish I was that way when I was in high school.”

Shouta nods absently, then pauses as Hizashi begins shuffling through his own papers, humming to himself. It’s not until he appears to be halfway through his first English essay, that Shouta blurts out, “I don’t think Midoriya has any friends.”

Hizashi blinks again, expression unreadable as he turns to Shouta, cocking his head. Carefully, he recaps his pen, setting the pages aside. “What do you mean? Did he say something?”

“No, it’s…” Shouta swallows. “I told him to go hang out with his friends, but he just…he said he had nowhere else to be.”

Hizashi taps a slender finger against his chin, now frowning himself. “I’m sure that could mean a lot of things. Maybe all of his friends are busy?”

“I guess so,” Shouta mutters, but it just...it just didn’t feel right. If that had been the case, why had Midoriya been so cryptic? That’s not something odd to have shared, to simply tell Shouta that his friends already made plans, them having thought that Midoriya would be busy for the night.

But now that Shouta really thinks about it...

“It’s not just that. He’s always talking, when he goes through his warm ups and sets. He tells me about his teachers, his classwork, hero sightings, his mother...but he’s never mentioned anyone specific from his classes.”

Shouta thinks back to some of his more recent lessons with the kid. Midoriya, really, is always muttering to himself. Despite the fact that he never really prompts Shouta for a response, happy just to talk and talk and talk, Shouta pays attention to everything he says. It’s usually never anything serious or heavy--other than the one time he’d come in with his prosthetic arm, but that was only the one time. Most of the time it’s about a fight that Midoriya had either witnessed in person (after hurriedly assuring Shouta that he was far enough back, behind the safety personnel) or on the news. Sometimes it’s about his classwork (it didn’t surprise him how interested Midoriya was in history, specifically recent quirk history), sometimes about a particularly ruthless or particularly funny teacher. Very occasionally, he talks about his mom...but it was usually after Shouta specifically asked him how the woman is doing.

(With a son like Midoriya, he felt he was justified in being a little bit worried about her.)

But...no, as much as Midoriya likes to talk, he never mentions his friends. Whether it be something exciting they had done together, or just being in class with them.

“I’m sure you’re overthinking things, Shouta,” Hizashi pipes up, pulling him out of his own thoughts. “The kid is smart, talented, and so damn polite! I’m sure he has his own group of friends at school.”

Shouta nods, but doesn’t say anything more. He turns back to his papers, trying to banish the thoughts from his mind and focus on his damn grading. After a few moments he feels Hizashi’s hand on the back of his neck, and Shouta leans into the touch.

“I’m sure the kid is fine, really. You worry too much,” Hizashi mutters in his ear, and Shouta heaves a sigh. “But, I know you’re not one to worry over nothing, so maybe try talking to him?”

Shouta nods absently, still lost in his own thoughts. He sighs again, more contently this time, as Hizashi’s fingers gloss over the fine hairs at the nape of his neck, having fallen loose from his bun, before pulling away and returning to his own work.

He does manage to get through a few papers before he admits defeat, picks up the stack, and heads down into the basement. Midoriya is lost in his own concentration, in the middle of an abdominal exercise, so it takes him a few moments to notice Shouta standing by the stairwell.

“Oh, hey, Mr Aizawa!” he greets cheerfully. “I thought you had a lot of work to do?”

I really do, Shouta thinks as he sits himself onto the bottom step. “I can do it down here. Just keep going with the sets.”

Midoriya nods, smiles, and gets back into his rhythm. He can tell the boy is still muttering, but it’s indistinguishable, under his breath. It continues until the boy is too out of breath to form words with his lips anymore, more focus on the air entering and leaving his lungs.

Shouta does manage to finish his grading, only sparing the boy a glance every now and then. When he is done, he sees that Midoriya is working on one of the newer kicks Shouta has been teaching him. His face is twisted up in concentration, sweat beading down his temple, locks of green curls stuck flat against his neck.

Quirking the corner of his lips, Shouta gets up, and adjusts his foot placement. When he strikes the practice dummy again, it’s much more forceful than it had been the past few tries.

Midoriya lets out a whoop of excitement, turning to Shouta, absolutely beaming. Shouta can’t help but smile back.

“Good work, kid, you’ve done enough for today. I’ll walk you home.”

Midoriya looks like he’s going to protest, like he always does when Shouta tells him that he’s going to walk him home. Shouta contains an eyeroll, and puts a hand on the boy’s shoulder.

“Kid, don’t even bother. It’s later than you usually stay, it’s dark, and I’m not going to have your mom yell at me.” And I’m worried about your own safety, goes unsaid. Midoriya just nods, but the smile slowly returns to his face. He begins gathering his bag and hurriedly pulling on his sweatshirt. Shouta waits patiently, the kid’s hair becoming impossibly messier after the fact, and shortly after he’s following Midoriya up and out of the basement.

The Midoriyas only live a few blocks from him, only about twenty minutes on foot. They walk briskly under the stark illumination of street lights, in companionable silence.

Shouta’s almost shocked that the boy isn’t talking his ear off, but he seems...content. The smile on his face isn’t the same glowing smile from before, more muted now, faded a bit with time, but it still shines just as brightly.

Shouta swallows. This kid...this kid who positively exuberates positivity, who’s overjoyed by the simplest things, who’s so eager to please...he has to have friends.

Right?

Shouta knows that he himself didn’t have many friends before going to U.A., and the only reason he did have any in U.A. was because Hizashi practically shoved his way into Shouta’s life, unwavered by his own (admittedly) dark demeanor. Especially in high school because, holy shit.

And he doesn’t regret it for a second, of course. He could never. But Shouta didn’t have many friends growing up, because he didn’t exactly try to be outgoing. But Midoriya…

It’s none of your business, Shouta’s own head supplies, and he can’t help but frown slightly. He knows he’s not this boy’s...caretaker, but he’s still concerned for the kid’s safety, and, well.

His happiness, too.

They’re almost back to Midoriya’s apartment building, just a street over, when Shouta decides to speak up, placing his words as carefully as he can. “We’ve been making a lot of progress, lately. If you ever want to take a weekend off, for anything, just let me know.”

Midoriya doesn’t pause his steps, but he does falter in his pace, if briefly. When Shouta glances over, the kid isn’t smiling anymore.

Ah, shit.

“I don’t need to take a weekend off!” he responds, staring down at the sidewalk. Shouta barely manages to contain a sigh.

“Of course you don’t. I’m saying, if you want to. You’ve been so busy...I’m sure there’s people you’ve been missing, no?”

Midoriya doesn’t say anything, and when Shouta glances over after a minute of now tense silence, the boy’s frown has deepened. Shouta looks straight ahead once more, mentally cursing himself. Damn it all, he wants to help this kid, but he really is shit at this.

Teaching is one thing, but this…

Shouta knows it’s not his responsibility, he knows that. But damn if all if he isn’t concerned.

They’re approaching Midoriya’s building, nearing the steps, and the kid is still silent. Carefully, Shouta places a hand on his shoulder. Midoriya turns to him, eyes wide, blinking.

“Or...we can just keep training. You’re getting better, kid, but there’s still plenty to do.”

A pause, and then Midoriya begins to smile again. It’s dimmer than it was before, but it’s a real smile, and Shouta nearly sighs in relief.

“Of course, Mr Aizawa!” he says, once they’ve reached his door. Shouta removed his hand from the boy’s shoulder as he moves to unlock the door. As soon as it’s open, he can faintly smell what he knows is Ms Midoriya’s katsudon. Before he enters Midoriya turns to him, thanking him for the session as he always does, and Shouta nods, the corner of his lips lifting slightly, still somewhat lost in his own thoughts. He watches the door close, and finally lets out a sigh, frowning once more.

He’s probably overthinking things. Right? Maybe Midoriya really just wants to excel so badly, that he doesn’t want to sacrifice any time. Which...still isn’t good, now that Shouta thinks about it. At the end of the day, the kid is still a kid, and while it’s good to be dedicated…

It’s still good to be a kid, sometimes, too.

Shouta realizes he’s still standing in front of the Midoriyas door, and blinks out of his daze as embarrassment creeps up the back of his neck. He turns back towards the stairs, when his phone chirps. He knows the sound, it’s for a villain alert.

Immediately, Shouta pulls out his phone. Low level threat, luckily, but he’s the only available hero in the area. Clearing his head, Shouta lets instinct wash over him. He whips out his capture weapon, swinging himself down from the apartment walkup, and he hits the ground running.

--------

“Training your body is essential, of course. But to be a good hero, you need to train your mind as well.”

Midoriya blinks, shifting in his seat slightly. “So...we’re playing Uno?”

They’re sitting at Shouta’s kitchen table, Midoriya, Hizashi, and himself. Hizashi is grinning like a madman, constantly sending smirks Shouta’s way that Shouta blatantly ignores. Midoriya and him had done some basic cardio and went over some old kicks, and the kid had been a bit surprised when Shouta ended the training earlier than he normally does, and a little more surprised when Shouta asked him to come upstairs into his apartment.

Which is how he ended up here, with a smirking Hizashi and a confused Midoriya, sitting around the small table while Shouta shuffles a deck of cards.

“Uno isn’t exactly a strategy game, Shoutaaa,” Hizashi sing-songs. Shouta steps on his foot.

As Hizashi starts whining, Shouta turns back to Midoriya. “It’s about strategizing with the cards you’re dealt.”

Midoriya nods, seemingly understanding. Hizashi has finished his overdramatic whimpering and is now poorly attempting to hide his snickering with his hands. Shouta doesn’t even bother glaring at him--he knows his reasoning is flimsy, but he barrels through. “Not every fight is going to be a fair one, of course. You’ve got to make the best with what you’re given, especially when you don’t know all of the odds.”

Finally, Midoriya begins to smile. “Okay, yeah, that makes sense!"

It does? Shouta almost says, but he bites his tongue. Midoriya doesn’t seem to be messing with him, doesn’t seem to have figured out that Shouta just wants him to have fun playing a card game.

“I’ve never actually played Uno, though.”

“You’ve never what?!" Hizashi blurts out, before Shouta can kick him in the shin. Midoriya blushes slightly, scratching the back of his neck.

“Yeah, I mean I’ve seen some kids at school playing it, on breaks and at lunch, but I never…” he trails off, eyes focusing on a scuffed part of the wooden table.

Hizashi blinks, frowning for just a moment before his smile returns, eyes going soft. “Don’t worry kid, Shouta will explain! It’s super easy to learn!”

Shouta explains the rules, Midoriya nodding along easily as he does so. When the kid says he doesn’t have any questions, Shouta distributes the cards, lips twitching into something of a smile.

--------

“You little brat!” Hizashi screams, as Midoriya nearly doubles over in a fit of laughter. Midoriya just landed Hizashi with a ‘Plus Four’ card, right after Shouta had reversed the order. Right as Hizashi was on his last card.

Hizashi grumbles to himself as he picks up four cards, Midoriya still giggling, and Shouta can’t help grinning down at his own deck. They’ve played about three rounds so far, Midoriya winning two of them, Shouta winning one. Hizashi finally plays his card after he’s done pitying himself, and Shouta is about to throw down a ‘Plus Two’ for Midoriya, when his cell phone rings.

“Don’t touch my cards,” he grumbles, mostly at Hizashi, and turns the corner into the living room where he had left his phone.

Ms Midoriya, reads the screen. Quickly, he answers the call.

“Hello?”

“Hello, Aizawa!” Ms Midoriya greets him cheerfully, and Shouta’s gut untwists itself slightly. “I was just calling to check in on Izuku.”

Shouta glances at the clock and, yeah, shit, he’d lost track of time. It’s later than Midoriya usually stays out. “He’s doing good, I’m sorry, I--”

“Don’t worry about it,” she verbally waves him off. “He’s with you, and I trust you.”

Shouta swallows roughly, the impact of her words almost dizzying. It’s not the first time she’s said this, but it’s the first time it’s been so casual, so offhand. A simple statement of fact.

“I--of course.”

“I hope you’re still not throwing him through the ringer,” she laughs. “I know he loves his training, but he’s still just a kid, no matter what he might try and tell you.”

“No, we’re not doing any physical training right now. We’re, uh...” Shouta falters. He peaks around the corner back into the kitchen--Midoriya has a hardcover book propped open in front of him, acting as a shield for his cards so he can lay them flat for easy access while he plays them, without the rest of them seeing. Hizashi is currently throwing increasingly larger waded-up balls of paper at the book, trying to knock it over, while Midoriya giggles at him.

“...We’re playing Uno.”

There’s a pause on the other line, and Ms Midoriya lets out a chuckle. “And what did you tell him? That it’s some sort of mental training exercise?”

“I...might’ve said something along those lines…”

Again she laughs, and Shouta can’t help but grin. “I’m glad he’s having fun though, I really am.” There’s a brief pause, and Ms Midoriya sighs. When she speaks again, her voice is much more serious. “Izuku doesn’t...he doesn’t really have any friends at school. He lies to me about it, because he knows it would make me upset, can you believe it?”

Shouta can. Of course he can. But he doesn’t say anything, just listens as she continues. “He was out of school for awhile, while he rehabilitated from his injury. That, on top of the injury, on top of being deemed quirkless since he can’t really use his quirk--it’s terrible, I know, but you know how some kids can be…”

Shouta swallows. He had suspected, of course, but having verbal confirmation is...so much worse.

“So...thank you. For being there for him. I know it’s not the same as having friends at school, friends his own age, but...he admires you so much, as a pro hero and as a person. He really has been so much happier, since you started training him. Even if he is fairly exhausted all the time,” she finishes, chuckling once again, even if it’s a bit softer this time.

Shouta looks over again. Hizashi is no longer trying to cheat at the game, instead the two of them are talking animitcally. Izuku’s smile is wide and his eyes are so, so bright.

“Of course. He’s shows a great amount of potential. Probably more than some U.A. first years.”

Another pauses. “Thank you, Aizawa. Really.”

“...You’re welcome, Ms Midoriya.”

“Just have him text me when you’re bringing him back. Have fun!” He can hear the smile in her voice. Shouta says his goodbyes, hangs up, and heads back into the living room. Once he’s in earshot, he can hear Hizashi telling Izuku about their first Sports Festival.

“Hizashi, stop lying. You lost that year. To me. I deactivated your quirk and threw you out of the ring in three seconds.”

Shoutaaa,” Hizashi whines, throwing his hands into the air. Midoriya throws his head back, shaking with laughter.

--------

‘ALL MIGHT TO BEGIN TEACHING CAREER AT U.A.’

The newspaper headline stares up at Shouta, laughing at him. He frowns.

“Why do they never tell me anything? Did you know about this?”

“Know about what?” Hizashi asks over his cup coffee, not looking at Shouta. He throws the newspaper at the other man. “Hey, ow, watch it!”

Hizashi straightens out the crumpled pages, glancing over the headline. He blinks once, then turns towards Shouta.

“I had no idea. Maybe that’s what today’s meeting is about?”

Shouta rolls his eyes, not at Hizashi but at the paper. He’s sure Nedzu has his reasons, for keeping the press more informed than his own staff, but that doesn’t mean he has to agree with him.

All Might. At U.A. Of course Midoriya's favorite hero would start teaching at the school now, years after they've been training together, right before the kid would be applying to U.A. himself.

Shouta takes another swig of his own coffee. He doesn’t necessarily doubt that All Might can be a good teacher, but fuck, the man hasn’t even had a sidekick in at least five years, on top of it being rare that he ever works with other heroes anymore. Usually he’ll save the day single handedly, or other pros will actively step back and let him take over when he’s on the scene. Only really during large-scale rescue missions will he ever work with other heroes.

And that’s...not necessarily the fault of the man himself. Usually All Might is just that good, that other pros would get in the way of him trying to work--his attacks so powerful that a hero might get caught in the crossfire. Shouta wants to scold him for this, that he could hold back a bit in order to work as an effective team, but All Might achieves results, and he’s efficient, so Shouta can’t really complain.

He can complain, however, about the additional media circus that having All Might at U.A. will be, and he can feel a migraine coming on just thinking about it.

He’s still staring at the paper in front of him, debating whether he actually wants to read the article or not, when he hears the door fly open. Without looking over, he raises his hand in greeting.

“Hi Mr Aizawa! Hi Mr Yamada!” Izuku greets them both brightly, Shouta able to hear the smile in his voice. He walks over to the table the two of them are sitting at, and snags an apple from the bowl atop it.

“You’re late,” Shouta says, not looking up, but it’s nearly overpowered by Hizashi’s bolstering, “Hey, listener! How’ve ‘ya been?.”

Hizashi reaches out to ruffle the boy’s hair. “I’ve been good, thanks! And I took a longer run this morning.”

“You should’ve woken up earlier, then,” Shouta drawls, and the boy merely snorts. He can feel him leaning over his shoulder.

“Hey, wait, is All Might teaching at U.A. next semester?!”

Shouta rolls his eyes, again, while Hizashi starts snickering. “Apparently. They haven’t told us anything, but this says their source is Principal Nedzu himself.”

He can practically feel the boy beaming, nearly vibrating with excitement. “Wow, that’s so cool! What does it say he’ll be teaching? Probably hero studies, right? I mean I know that if I get in you’ll be my homeroom teacher, but if All Might is teaching hero studies--”

The boy shoves the apple into his mouth, cutting off his own muttering as he moves to grab the newspaper. Shouta tries to snatch it before he can, but Izuku swiftly activates Full Cowl, and side-steps him easily.

He wants to be annoyed, he really does, but whenever he sees Izuku using his quirk gracefully and with ease...he can’t help but be proud of the kid.

Setting the paper on the counter at the far end of the kitchen, he takes his last bite of the apple, throwing the rind into the trash. “Why don’t you like him, again?”

Shouta sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose between his thumb and index finger. “As I’ve told you a million times, Midoriya, I completely respect him as a hero, both as a colleague and otherwise.”

“...You’re probably just jealous that he has better hair than you.”

Hizashi nearly spits his coffee, doubling over in a fit of hysterics, the sheer volume of his laughter threatening to crack the drywall--even without his quirk. Shouta is going to disown the both of them.

“When did you become such a brat, again?”

Izuku offers him a toothy grin. “Since you started teaching me, probably.”

Hizashi only laughs harder. Shouta sighs. He’s probably right, too.

--------

Inko blinks at the TV, frowning as the national news station blares in front of her. The anchors are chatting animatedly, if a bit heated, but she’s not listening to them, she’s only focused on the headline schooling across the bottom of the screen.

‘ALL MIGHT TO BEGIN TEACHING CAREER AT U.A.’

Briefly, she glances down the hall--Izuku’s door is slightly cracked open, having left early this morning for a run. The familiar name placard stares back at her.

She sighs, turning back towards the TV. Did he read the news this morning? He still has a few months before the examination, but he must be overjoyed at the mere possibility of being taught by All Might himself.

And she’s happy for him, happy that her son will be happy, of course.

But…

“Oh, Toshi,” she mutters to an empty living room. “You never made things easy, did you?"

Chapter Text

“Hey, wait up!”

Inko turns around on her heel, already knowing it’s Ayame calling after her. Since it’s Ayame, she knows that Mitsuki will also be there, running alongside her.

She smiles in greeting towards her friends, who both nearly knock the breath out of her as they wrap their arms around her in a crushing hug. Inko giggles in time with the both of them.

“Can you believe it’s already our last year of middle school?” Ayame asks, offering them both a toothy grin. Inko returns it, but Mitsuki merely smirked.

“I just can’t wait for it to be over already!” she exclaims, throwing her hands into the air.

Inko laughs, still smiling as the three of them walk arm and arm towards the campus. True, while Inko is excited for the year, there’s still a part of her that’s itching to be in high school already. It’s not like she has big plans for high school, already having decided the hero path isn’t for her, but she’s still yearning for it, nonetheless.

“You just wanna meet high school boys,” Ayame cooes. Inko almost points out how Ayame herself has been talking about boys nonstop since their first year of middle school, but she holds her tongue, just happy to see her friend happy.

“Shut up!” Mitsuki says, but she’s still smirking, no real venom in her bite. “I just wanna be out of this school, and onto somewhere without all of these gross boys!”

“Speaking of gross boys…” Ayame mutters, hushed. They’ve reached the front courtyard of the school now, with various students scattered around waiting for the first bell to ring. Inko follows Ayame’s line of sight, and sees Korechika walking by them. He offers them all a lewd wink, and Inko suppresses a shutter. Ayame gags.

“I wish he’d use his damn force fields to cover himself, so I wouldn’t have to fucking look at him,” Mitsuki growls, eyebrow twitching. They watch him walk off, towards his group of almost-equally-as-gross friends. Not that Korechika is bad looking, to be fair. Inko almost--almost!--formed her first crush on him, back when she started middle school. That lasted from the schoolyard to third period, where he spent the entire class making hushed, perverted remarks about their teacher’s chest. She got over that almost-crush very quickly.

Having a summer off, Inko had almost forgotten how much of an asshole Korechika truly is. However, she’s soon reminded after their last period of the day, where Korechika has cornered someone in the back of class. Their teacher has left, along with most of the class. Ayame is near the front, reapplying lipstick and eyeing her curiously. It’s then that she follows Inko’s gaze, notices Korechika in the back, and mirrors Inko’s frown.

She doesn’t recognize the student he’s talking with--or rather talking at--and thinks to herself that he must be new. Their school is relatively small for a public middle school, and Inko can at least recognize everyone’s face. But she’s definitely never seen this tall, lanky blonde student before.

“What do you mean you don’t want to show me your quirk?” Korechika all but sneers. At this point, it’s just her, Ayame, and the two boys in the classroom, although she can see a couple of Korechika’s friends gathering just outside the doorway.

The blonde boy looks shaken for a minute, but then he replies with an even voice “I don’t have a quirk.”

Korechika’s eyebrows shoot up, and he then doubles over in laughter. The blonde boy frowns, looking relatively unruffled, but his hands are shaking ever so slightly.

“Y-you don’t have a quirk? As thin as a stick and no quirk to back you up. Oh man, I’m so glad you transferred here, I’m going to have so much fun with you!”

The other boy’s expression darkens, but he doesn’t say anything. He simply turns back towards his desk, one of the ones in the last row, and starts gathering his supplies. Korechika isn’t happy about this.

“Nothing to say, eh? Well maybe if I--” Korechika reaches for the boy’s stack of books, but before he can, Inko pulls the books towards her, the lot of them whizzing through the air, which she catches them neatly against her chest. The blonde boy looks at her, blinking in shock, clearly not having noticed her standing there. Korechika just looks pissed.

“Go play with your friends, Korechika!” Inko says. She doesn’t shout, but even to her own ears her voice sounds darker than it normally does. Korechika’s face is still clearly shaded with anger, but one corner of his lips flicks upwards.

“Why don’t you mind your own damn business?!” She watches as his fields beginning to grow out of his forearms, grey and tinted, as he begins walking towards her. She doesn’t miss the glint of fiery determination in his eyes, but she doesn’t let it give her pause. As quickly as she can, Inko pulls one of the desk chairs towards here, where it slams into the back of Korechika’s calves, sending him falling to the floor. He does land on his own force fields, but before he can get up she leaps around him, grabs the blonde boy’s arm--who’s just standing there in shock, staring at her dumbly--and the two of them, along with Ayame, rush out of the room, pushing past Korechika’s friends, who simply look confused at their own leader being put out of commission so quickly.

“You little bitch!” she hears Korechika call out, but her and Ayame just laugh.

“Dumbass!” she calls out, feeling the blush on her cheeks and her own giddy smile. She usually doesn’t cuss--Mitsuki swears enough for the three of them, and then some--but, well. Korechika really deserves it.

Once they’re off campus and around the corner, no sign of Korechika nor his friends following them, they stop to catch their breath.

“Sorry about dragging you along, there,” Inko says, somewhat sheepishly, scratching the back of her neck. “I knew Korechika would’ve go after you again, so…”

“It-its fine, I…” the boy blushes, not meeting her eyes. Inko can’t help but grin. “Thank you,” he finishes, with a small smile. “Really, thank you.”

“No problem!” Inko says. It’s then that she realizes she still has the boys’ books gripped tightly against her chest, and she pushes them out into his hands. “Uh, here, sorry about that.”

“No really, thank you. I don’t know what he wanted with them, but....”

“Probably wanted to throw them out the window,” Ayame says, somewhat under her breath, but the boy chuckles at her remark.

“I’m Saiki Ayame, by the way,” Ayame grins, voice louder this time, waving furiously at the boy who’s a mere meter in front of her.

“Oh, and I’m Midoriya! Midoriya Inko” she says, smiling at the boy’s own smile.

“Ah--well then, you can call me Yagi.”

--------

They end up catching up with Mitsuki at the train station, who’s perched on one of the benches. She turns when she hears the three of them clamoring towards her.

“I heard you beat the shit out of Korechika,” Mitsuki says once they’re in earshot, and Inko chokes on her own breath.

“I--he was--Mitsuki, I swear!” she shouts and the other girl cackles out a laugh. Ayame giggles behind her, and when she turns around she sees that Yagi is smiling.

“So, is this the boy you heroically saved?” Mitsuki asks, pointing at Yagi. He blushes slightly, looking like he’s about to speak, but Inko pipes up first.

“He didn’t need saving,” she states, somewhat defensively. “I’m sure he could’ve handled himself. Korechika is just a dumbass.”

“Yeah he’s a real fucking twat,” Mitsuki grins happily, now standing and bouncing on the balls of her feet.

“Yagi, this is--”

“Bakugou Mitsuki,” she waves. Yagi smiles in return.

“I--call me Yagi” he says.

“Yeah, I got that,” Mitsuki says, rolling her eyes, but her face is still open and kind. Yagi pauses for a second, then lets out a small laugh.

“Ignore her, she’s a jerk,” Inko rolls her own eyes, and Mitsuki throws her head back, laughing.

“Well, she’s not wrong,” she barks out, but then she turns towards Ayame. “You! We missed the damn train, now we have to wait 20 minutes for the next one!”

“Sorry, Mitsuki!” she calls, chasing after her friend who’s already turned and gone, stomping off towards the correct platform. Ayame does crane her neck around as she runs off, just sparing a moment to wave at the two of them left standing there.

“Bye Inko! Bye Yagi!”

Inko sends her goodbyes as well, and Yagi merely waves. He then turns towards Inko. “You aren’t going with them?”

“Nah, they live on the west side of the city. I live out east so I’m taking this train,” she says, pointing her thumb at the platform directly behind her. Yagi’s face lights up slightly at that.

“I live out east as well.”

“Great!” Inko says. “Although it looks like we’ve also missed the earlier train, looks like the next one is in 15 minutes.”

Yagi nods, following her as she moves to sit on the bench Mitsuki was previously occupying. It’s quiet for a moment, the boy beside her stiff with tension, staring straight ahead with his hands resting on his knees. Eventually Inko breaks the semi-awkward silence, turning towards him.

“So! You’re new here, right?”

His eyes widen slightly at the question, and Inko backtracks in a rush. “I-I mean not that it’s a bad thing! Not at all, I just--I thought I knew everybody in our class, but I haven’t seen you around before, so…” she trails off, cheeks burning slightly. Yagi only chuckles, waving her off.

“No, it’s fine, you’re right. I just moved to the city, so I’m new to the school.”

“Well, I hope that Korechika didn’t ruin your first day too much.”

Again, he laughs. “No I...I’m used to it. It definitely could’ve been a much worse day.”

Inko’s chest tightens for this boy she’s only just met. She really only has Ayame and Mitsuki, but their little group is tightly knit, and she can’t imagine how she would’ve survived up until now without them.

She almost asks why he transferred, but figures that would be a bit too much prying from this boy who’s practically a stranger, when Yagi begins speaking himself.

“Your quirk seems really useful, do you plan on going to U.A.?”

Inko nearly sputters. She’s never really thought much of her own quirk, because she never really planned on being a...a hero. Even if she had a quirk that was more powerful, she couldn’t imagine being out there, fighting on the front lines. She admired all of them deeply, and was so thankful for their mere existence and the courage they all possessed, they sacrifices they were constantly making daily. But...no. She didn’t want to be a hero.

“Nah,” she laughs, once she gathers her own thoughts. “That’s not really who I think I am, you know?”

At that, Yagi sighs, just a small, nearly inaudible breath. “Yeah, I do.”

--------

Slowly, Yagi becomes Toshinori, as he begins to migrate into their little group. He does like her other friends, Inko can tell, but the two of them form a fast friendship. They hang out after school a few times, but mostly just in school and on the odd weekend Toshinori has free. She’s not sure what exactly he does during his free time, not one to pry, but whatever it is keeps him in a nearly exhausted state.

“You should come over this weekend!” Inko gleams, smiling at Toshinori. The four of them are at lunch, the weather nice enough that they’re crowded under the shade of a tree, sitting on their respective uniform jackets. “We’re watching an old American horror movie that Ayame just bought.”

“Night of the Living Dead!” Mitsuku exclaims, letting out a theatrical groan as she sticks her hands out in a poor imitation of a Zombie. Ayame giggles around her rice.

Toshinori picks at his own bento, smiling slightly as he shakes his head. “Thank you for inviting me, but I’m afraid I’m busy this weekend.”

“You’re always busy!” Mitsuki calls out, but her tone isn’t rude, just...loud. She grins at Toshinori, showing teeth. “What it is that you do every weekend, anyways?”

Inko doesn’t say anything, but she does peek at the boy through her bangs. While she considers Toshinori her friend, her good friend, she never has gotten a straight answer as to why he’s always busy. He’s never mentions any clubs or sports, or an after-school anything. She can’t help but be curious.

Toshinori pauses, blinking twice. Inko can sense how uncomfortable he is, Mitsuki and Ayame both obviously staring at him waiting for an answer and her...well, she’s doing the same thing, frankly.

She’s about to speak up, let him know that he doesn’t owe any of them an answer, but his lips part before hers do. “I’m...training. To get into U.A.”

The words are firm, but he all but flinches after saying them. A beat passes, after which Ayame throws up her hands in excitement, nearly swatting Mitsuki with her chopsticks. “That’s so great! I’m sure you’ll get in, you’re clearly dedicated if training you’re every weekend!”

“Yeah, I know Korechika thinks he’s the school’s golden boy and that he’ll get in no problem, but he’s at the arcade downtown every weekend, the dumbass!” Mitsuki chides. Inko doesn’t say anything, just nods along and smiles. She knows it’ll be hard for Toshinori--it’s hard for anyone--but Toshinori...doesn’t have a quirk. She knows it’s rude to think that way, but it’s the truth. There’s no getting around it.

But...if there’s anyone who she thinks could get into U.A. without a quirk, it’s Toshinori.

“You...really?” Toshinori asks, cocking his head in what appears to be confusion. “No one’s ever...my guidance counselor keeps insisting that I aim for a different school…”

Mitsuki slaps him on the back, the boy lurching slightly with the movement. “Every teacher in this school is an old hag! Guidance counselor or not, they don’t know what they’re talking about!”

Toshinori’s smile brightens. “Well...thank you.”

The three of them grin, Ayame ruffling his hair, and Mitsuki goes back to insulting Korechika, both about how he sucks as a person and also sucks at DDR. As she rattles off, Ayame nodding along with her and laughing, Toshinori catches Inko’s eyes. He offers her a small smile, the tiniest of things, but it makes her chest heave. They’re in the middle of an overcrowded courtyard, as nosy as can be, but for just a split second everything else around her fades. It feels...private. Intimate. Just for her.

She quirks her own lips, smiling back.

-------

Not only does Toshinori get into U.A., but he gets into Class 1-A.

“I’m so happy for you!” Inko says, Ayame and Mitsuki screeching behind her. She wraps her arms around him, pulling him into a fierce hug. She feels him stiffen momentarily, and before she can pull back and apologize, his arms crush her against his own chest.

“I...thank you, Inko!”

“Of course, Toshinori! You really earn--uhh!” She’s cut off by the other two girls crashing into her backside, knocking the breath out of her. Toshinori laughs, the sound ringing in the air around them. It’s the brightest one she’s ever heard from him.

--------

Mitsuki, Ayame, and Inko all end up at the same local high school. Nothing as prestigious as U.A., but it does have a good reputation within the local districts. Korechika isn’t at U.A., but he isn’t here either, so she counts her blessings.

She still sees Toshinori on the weekends, when she can. He’s still as busy as ever, U.A. doesn’t get its own reputation from taking it easy on their students.

“It’s….it’s a lot of work,” Toshinori says, furrowing his brow as if trying to find the right words. Inko laughs. Understatement of the year, she thinks, but doesn’t say. She’s just happy to see him so...happy. Tired, yes. Bruised more often that she’d like to see, but she knows that it’s bound to happen, that it’s all a part of becoming a hero.

And she knows that’s what Toshinori will become.

-------

She watches him during the sports festival and learns about his quirk.

“I was...a late bloomer,” he says nervously one day. They’re both in her bedroom, sitting on the edge of her futon. “I really didn’t mean to hide it from you, really!”

“I know you didn’t,” she says easily, and Toshinori looks at her, dumbfounded.

“You’re not mad?” he asks incredulously. “Of course I knew you’d be watching the Festival, so I should’ve told you beforehand but I just--I just didn’t know how, and I didn’t want you to--” she cuts him off with a laugh, waving him off.

“No, Toshi, I’m not mad at you! I’m sure you had your reasons. So many people try to define themselves with their quirk. It was just nice that...you didn’t feel the need to.”

He’s still frowning slightly, but she ruffles his unruly hair, something Ayame always does and she rarely ever, but his smile is nearly blinding.

She’ll never say it, but she truly doesn’t know if she believes him or not--that he was a late bloomer. It seems more likely that he was simply hiding his quirk. But with something that powerful, she could see why he might want to.

Pondering over it briefly, she decides that whether he was hiding it or not, it really doesn’t matter to her. She trusts him too much for it to matter.

-------

After graduation, Toshinori can’t hang out on weekends anymore.

“My ah, internship is rather intense,” he says, and she can hear the wince in his voice through the phone receiver. “I really can’t talk about it much, I’m sorry Inko.”

She doesn’t press him about it. She knows next to nothing about the ins and outs of heroing, but figures that, yeah, it must be all rather intense and need-to-know.

Inko does yell at him when she learns he’s interning in The United States and he never told her, but even that, she can’t bring herself to hold a grudge over.

-------

It’s her college graduation party when she sees Toshinori again in person, for the first time in four years.

They had talked on the phone all the time after high school, texting even more often than that. But slowly, and steadily, their communication became more and more infrequent.

I’m sorry, Toshinori tells her one night. It’s not my choice, that it has to be this way. But it’s what I have to do.

I understand, she had said, because she had, she does, but that doesn’t mean she wasn’t fighting off tears, it doesn’t mean that it didn’t hurt all the same.

She knows Toshinori is going to be a great hero. She knows he’s going to save so many people.

She knows that she can’t get in the way of that.

But at her graduation party, after Mitsuki and Ayame and her family and her college friends had left, she hears a knock at her door.

She frowns at her empty apartment, figuring someone had forgotten something. She’d just said goodbye to Ayame, who had lingered to help clean up a bit, but she had shooed her out eventually as well.

So she opens the door, and shock overcomes her when she sees who exactly is standing sheepishly in her doorway.

A beat passes, where she’s unable to move, but then she tackles the man into a fierce hug.

“Toshi! How did--how are you--?”

He laughs, louder and boulder to match his frame. She almost hadn’t recognized him at first--he’d been slowly and steadily gaining muscle ever since she’s known him, but it seems to have finally caught up with him. Just as tall as he’s ever been, hair still wild and unkempt, but he’s much broader, his figure shadowing over her own and making him look like a new man.

But it’s when she meets his eyes, bright and blue as ever, that her split-second of doubt as to who exactly this was, is washed away.

She would never forget those eyes.

“I’m back in town...just for tonight, though,” he says, a bit sadly. He lets her go, meeting her eyes again with a smile. It’s the same smile he’s been giving her for years, but it looks so much different now. Not bad different, just...different. Maybe because he finally has the figure to contain the magnitude of it.

Maybe she had just been aching with how much she missed seeing it.

“Then we’ll have to make the most of tonight then, won’t we?” she asks, almost tentatively, and he beams back at her. Carefully, ever so carefully, she takes his large hands into her smaller ones. His breath hitches, and she can almost feel the tension on her skin, but it soon smoothes over once more. His eyes are glistening. She can’t help wondering what her own look like.

Slowly, she leads him down the hallway.

--------

When Inko wakes up the next morning she rolls over in bed with a content sigh, and ends up grasping at nothing.

-------

Seven months after Inko’s graduation party, Toshinori receives a letter. It’s one of the last letters he receives, in his old apartment.

He had to move, to be closer to his Hero Agency. He’d wanted the Agency to be closer to him, but it just wasn’t feasible, it wouldn’t have made any sense. So instead he moves from one apartment to another, not quite downtown Tokyo but on the outskirts, where the suburbs meet the city.

Sir Nighteye had offered to help him with his boxes, but he politely declined the offer. He only has a few more, anyways, his larger possessions already being driven down by the moving truck. Just a few smaller things he has, more delicate, things he doesn’t want to risk bouncing around in a large truck.

He checks his mailbox one last time, having already spoken with the post office about his change of address. There are a few letters, mostly junk leaflets, and one bill.

Leaflets, a bill, and one letter that knocks the wind out of him faster than any villain could.

He recognizes the handwriting before he even reads the name scrawled atop the envelope.

Quickly, quickly, he fumbles with his keys and enters his apartment, sliding to the floor as he has nowhere else to sit, but he’s afraid his legs would give out on him if he had stayed standing. As carefully as his shaking hands can, he rips open the letter. A single piece of stationary falls out.

Toshi,

To begin with, know this: I’m not writing this as a guilt trip. I’m simply writing to inform you, because it’s your right to know. I don’t know the hero world like you do, of course, but I do know how dangerous it is, and how much you sacrifice, how much you have sacrificed. I could never ask you to give that up. You’re too important to Japan. You’re going to change the world, Toshi. That much I’m sure of. That I know.

But, because it would never feel right if I never told you...I’m going to have a child soon, Toshi. And the child is yours.

Again, I’m not writing this asking you to come to my aid, to drop everything for me and this boy. I know how difficult this is, and I could never ask you to choose. Because I know you’re going to do great things, and you’re going to make a lot of enemies doing it. It would be dangerous, to raise a family, if that’s even what you wanted. So no, I’m not asking you to come to me, or to him. But you have a right to know that you’re going to have a son.

His name will be Izuku.

I won’t prevent you from coming to me, if that’s what you truly want. But we both know what you have to do. I’m sorry to do this to you, I truly am. And in a letter of all things--but I don’t have your new number. And I’m not mad, I understand, I understand what you have to do, Toshi. So do it, and do it well.

You’re always welcome here, Toshi. I’ll always have a cup of tea waiting for you.

Yours,
Inko.

The first thing Toshinori thinks is I wonder how the ink got smudged but that’s when he realizes that the the ink is smudged because the paper is wet, and the paper is wet because Toshi is crying. Silent, ugly tears that stream down his face. His hands are shaking, he realizes next, and he actively has to keep himself from ripping the paper.

Inko. Inko’s pregnant.

With--with his--

Izuku.

He doesn’t--he doesn’t know what to think of this, it’s the last thing he was expecting. He hasn’t even talked to Inko since that night, too much of a coward to face her the morning after.

Because he knew it was a mistake, going to see her. Because he knew it would be a goodbye.

There were no formal rules about heroes having relationships--platonic or otherwise--outside of their careers, of course. But because of Toshinori’s specific situation, with All For One still out there, having lost Nana already…

He couldn’t afford to lose Inko because she was tied to him. Because of his own mistakes.

And it hurt...it hurt so much to let her go. But now…

His phone rings, and he blinks, the trill pulling him out of his own hazy thoughts. His face is still wet, but he’s stopped crying. He can’t remember when he stopped.

Hastily he pulls his phone out of his pocket. Sir Nighteye. He frowns at the time--has he really been sitting here that long?

“Hello?”

“Sure you don’t need any help?” Nighteye asks.

Toshinori tries to smile, but fails. It’s good that the other hero can’t see him right now. “I--no, I’m all set. Just got held up. I’ll be there soon.”

There’s a pause, and Toshinori winces, mentally preparing himself to rebut at the man’s insistence, but thankfully he doesn't have to. “Alright, if you’re sure. I’ll meet you at the Agency later?”

“Of course. I’ll see you soon.”

Toshinori gives himself another minute to breathe, slow and labored, and then picks himself up off the floor. When he’d sat down earlier he was leaning against the wall, but he ended up slumped over onto himself, shoulders hunched, without realizing it. Once he’s standing, he carefully folds the paper back, and returns it into the envelope.

He can’t...he can’t think about this right now, think about what he’s going to do. So instead he gathers the rest of his boxes, focuses on what he wanted to discuss with Nighteye about their drug raid last week, and does absolutely everything he can not to focus on the letter burning a hole in his back pocket.

--------

Fifteen years later, Toshinori is packing his belongings once more. He glances at the letter, shuffled in with various postcards and and early fanmail, and he tries to swallow the lump in his throat without much success.

He looks away quickly, and tries not to think of the drafted replies that lay at the bottom of the box.

Multiple letters. All unsent.

--------

I really am getting slower, Toshinori thinks to himself bitterly.

These two-bit villains never used to give him any sort of pause He knows that this one is pretty slippery (literally), and the throbbing in his left side is enough of a reminder as any. All the same, it leaves a rotten taste on his tongue.

Maybe he really should’ve taken Nighteye up on his offer, to meet with his intern. If his own personal scouting at U.A. doesn’t go so well, then he definitely will. But…

Internally shaking himself, he rids himself of the thoughts, focusing on the issue at hand. Right. The damned villain.

Rapidly, he turns a corner, ignoring the stench around him as he follows the dim light the villain was clearly chasing. Ah, he sees it now--up ahead, strands of afternoon sunlight shining in from a manhole cover. He pushes himself up and out, keeping the cover in hand--launching it at the foe’s head as soon as he catches a visual. It doesn’t do much--he wasn’t expecting it too--but it’s enough to capture the villain’s attention as he looks away from--

--Shit.

The villain is staring at him now, shouting something All Might doesn’t catch, because he’s too focused on what can only be a boy, a child, who is clearly fighting for his life as he grapples at sludge bindings.

In the split second hesitation that Toshinori makes--can he channel a smash to just affect the slime villain, or will it hurt the boy too? Should he--a flare of green, vibrant light begins to emit amidst the slime. Is this part of the villain’s quirk? Or is it--

“What the--?!” comes a gargled cry. Apparently not the villain, then.

But it doesn’t matter. Half a second later, the boy unleashes what seems to be a crackle of energy, and it’s enough, just enough, for him to pull out of the villain’s grip ever so slightly, so he’s not fully entangled within the sludge and slime.

That’ll have to be enough, Toshinori thinks. The monster of a man is already moving to grab at the kid again, and he can’t let that happen.

“Fear not, young citizen!” he bolsters, rallying his own fist. “For I am here!

“Texas...smash!”

He unleashes the power within himself, a windstorm encapsulating the underpass, decimating the slime villain into a twitching pile of mud.

Unfortunately, the boy was still caught up in the blast, the impact of it knocking him off his feet. Quickly, Toshinori rushes over--he’s conscious, thankfully, but clearly a bit dazed.

For half a moment, dread overcomes him, because the boy is most definitely missing an arm. Did he….?

But, no. He can see that it must be an old wound, or simply how the boy was born, with some sort of black garment placed over the residual limb.

“Young man?” he asks. The kid is still looking down, blinking, but soon enough, he lifts his head. As soon as he does, his eyes widen, jaw going slack.

“All--All Might?!”

“Are you quite alright, young--”

His smile nearly falters.

Because now, now he’s looking into the boy’s eyes--bright green eyes staring up at him in amazement, brimming with wonder, with adornment.. And that, that he’s used to. That isn’t anything new.

No. It’s who those eyes belong to. Because he knows those eyes.

How could he ever forget?

“I--yes, I’m fine, All Might, sir!” the kid begins to rattle off his reassurance, as he scrambles to his feet, obvious to Toshinori’s verbal fumbling, “I just can’t believe it’s really you! I’ve always wanted--”

He feels bad, ignoring the kids’ words when he’s so clearly beyond himself to meet him. But those eyes…

Surely a coincidence? It must be.

(He’s lying to himself, he knows. But it’s not--it can’t be--

--not like this.)

“My name is Midoriya Izuku,” the kid says, dropping into a formal bow. “It’s an honor to meet you, sir!”

Toshinori can only stare back as his world crumbles before him.

Chapter Text

“Hey, Mr Aizawa!”

Shouta sighs, looking up at the doorway. “You’re late, kid, I--”

Once he actually sees Midoriya, he cuts himself off, nearly banging his knees on the kitchen table as he jolts himself out of his seat, rushing towards the boy.

“Christ kid, what the hell happened?!” Midoriya is smiling, but that doesn’t really say much. Shouta can only focus on the bruising around the kid’s neck.

“It’s fine, I’m fine, really!” the kid blurts out, and Shouta raises a brow at him. His first instinct is that a kid from school got at him, and just the thought of that mere possibility has his blood boiling. But as bad as kids are, he can’t imagine one outright choking him, to leave such bruising.

He also notes that Midoriya’s voice is a bit rough around the edges, but definitely better than it could’ve been. He sighs, grabbing Midoriya’s hand, leading them both over to his couch. He stares down the kid until he sits, Shouta following in suit.

“Okay. Okay, tell me what happened.”

The kid averts his gaze, scratching the back of his neck and wincing slightly as he does so. Shouta grits his teeth. He has half a mind to call up Recovery Girl, but it really isn’t that bad. Thankfully.

“I, well, there was a villain, and I--”

“Did you go seeking out a fight?”

“No! I swear, I--” the kid pauses, taking a breath. “No, I was just walking here from school, and this huge sludge villain showed up out of nowhere. He grabbed me, and I…”

Shouta’s own breath hitches in his throat. The boy is fine, he’s fine, he’s right here in front of him. But still, he--

He truly wants to vomit, at the thought of Midoriya being attacked by a villain. It’s an unfortunate reality, of their society, but it’s not something that any child should have to deal with.

“I used my quirk, enough to free myself, just for a moment. He was--he was literally sludge, I couldn’t get a grip, but I was able to call on my quirk, and it was just strong enough that I managed to get out of his grip, slightly, for a moment. And then--then All Might showed up.”

Shouta feels his brows raising, eyes widening. “All Might?”

Midoriya nods, his expression quickly morphing from grey and somber to true excitement and glee. “Yeah! All it took him was one smash, and he was able to capture the guy!”

Shouta nods, parting his lips, then closes them, frowning. He sighs instead, reaching out and placing a hand on the kid’s shoulder. “Well, I’m just glad you’re alright, kid.”

Midoriya offers him a small smile. “Yeah, me too!”

He snorts, retracting his own hand. A brief pause, and well, Shouta just has to ask. “So, what did you think of him?”

The kid raises a brow. “Of who? All Might?”

Shouta gives him a pointed look. The kid returns it with an eye roll, but he’s grinning wildly. “He was great! I still--I can’t believe I really met him, and I got to see him in action, too?! His quirk is so crazy powerful that he was able to take out the villain in one hit!”

He wants to roll his eyes, really, he does. But the kid is just so damn happy. Even if he sees both Hizashi and himself on a regular basis, he’s still completely enamoured by heroes and heroics. And All Might, above anyone else.

When the kid lets out a small laugh, however, Shouta turns back to him, curious. Meeting his eyes, Midoriya continues. “You’d be happy to know though, he’s different in person than how the media makes him out to be.”

Well, that was interesting. “How so?”

“Well, when he saw me, he kinda...blanked out? And he kept fumbling over his words a lot--which isn’t bad or anything! Not at all! It was just….different than how he is during the interviews that I’ve seen of him.”

“It usually is,” Shouta mutters, but something about it doesn’t sit quite right with him. Because the thing is, he’s met All Might. Albeit only once, during that staff meeting, but still.

He remembers how All Might was, when he’d first walked in--he was in his “hero form,” as he had called it, all muscled up, using his quirk. And he was bolsterious, over the top, and loud. But even when he shifted, revealing his “true form” to them, he wasn’t...nervous, necessarily. A bit reserved, solemn if anything. But still, it’s hard to imagine All Might stuttering and fumbling in front of a fan--even one as enthusiastic as Midoriya.

All Might may be a bit more of a facade than Shouta once thought, but even so, it’s a facade that he plays out well. Shouta can’t help but wonder what would’ve made All Might so out of it as to break it.

“I--I’m sure it was nothing, though!” Midoriya added on, but it sounded like he was more so trying to reassure himself than he was Shouta. “He had to bring that villain into police custody, so he was probably just rushed. I just--I still can’t believe I met him! That he saved me!”

The kid’s smile is nearly blinding, his eyes brimming with sheer wonder. Shouta kind of wants to say something to bring him back down to Earth, but he….doesn’t. The kid is just--overwhelmingly overjoyed, despite having had what appears to be a near-death experience just moments before.

Later, he can remind Midoriya that if he does get into U.A., that All Might will be teaching him, and that he can’t act like such a fanboy in front of his own teacher.

For now, though, he lets him have his fun.

--------

Toshinori thought he wouldn’t see Midoriya again until the U.A. examination.

He was mostly wrong.

It’s about a month after first meeting the boy, and he’s on campus grounds, having just met with Nedzu over some final paperwork. He ended up getting out later than he wanted to--the man was as long winded as ever, this time mostly discussing his need for a successor. Just the same as Nighteye, Nedzu spoke very highly of young Mirio, especially with his recent improvement. Toshinori nodded along, but he wouldn’t make a decision without examining all of his options.

While he was there, Shuzenji said that she wanted to see him again--he appreciated her efforts, but really, he knew what his wound was, what it meant. And there wasn’t really anything anyone could do at this point.

But still, he decided to go see her regardless--as much as he didn’t want to admit it, Shuzenji using her quirk did help relieve some of the pain.

Classes, he knew, were finished for the day, so he wasn’t really expecting anyone to be in the nurse’s office.

He, of course, couldn’t be so lucky.

“--last time I’m going to do this,” he hears Shuzenji chide as soon as he opens the door. “Next time I see you, it better be because you passed the entrance exam.”

Quietly, he closes the door behind him. He sees Recovery Girl, in the corner, but there are two figures cloaked behind a privacy curtain that he can only make out shadows of. One seems to be a student (or a current middle schooler, by the sound of it) and the second figure is most likely another teacher.

“It was my fault,” the taller figure says--and he recognizes that voice, doesn’t he? He hasn’t gotten a chance to talk to many of the other teachers, only knowing them based on their hero status, but this one he can’t quite place….

“I knew it was too much at once. I shouldn’t have let him try it,” the figure says again, voice stiff and solemn. Toshinori furrows his own brow. An accident during one of the hero courses, perhaps? But if the student doesn’t even go to U.A…

“No, it’s my fault, I felt it coming on but I thought maybe….that I could push past it this time.”

Toshinori feels his heart thudding in his chest, a sudden ringing in his ears--because that voice, well. He couldn’t exactly forget that voice.

“I’m responsible for your training, and thus your safety,” snaps the teacher, and oh, now that voice is a little more recognizable. It’s understandable why he hadn’t at first, given Aizawa’s underground status and having only really met the man the one time at the staff meeting a couple months back.

But that...brings up a lot of other questions. Has Aizawa been training Midoriya for U.A.? The kid seemed pretty apt with his quirk, from the brief moment Toshinori saw of it. And if he is...then why? Perhaps it’s training unrelated to his quirk, something akin to hand-to-hand combat?

And nothing against the other teacher, Toshinori has nothing but respect for his fellow colleagues, but...why? Aizawa doesn’t seem like the type of man to simply offer up basic lessons--perhaps if it was one of his students, that’d be different. But Midoriya isn’t a student. A family friend, perhaps?

It’s none of your business, Toshinori mentally scolds himself, stifling a sigh. He looks over again, and sees Midoriya shifting in his seat, perched at the edge of the cot.

“That was when I was eleven,” the kid scoffs, indignant, and Toshinori almost allows himself a smile. “I think I’m responsible for my own actions, now.”

The shadow behind the curtain seems to bury its face into its hands. “I’m not having this conversation with you again,” Aizawa sighs.

“But I--”

“You both shouldn’t be pushing it like this,” Shuzenji scolds, but there’s no bite to her tone. “I understand the need for training, but you both have to be more careful.”

There’s a pause, and then they both seem to nod. “Good. Your wrist might be a little sore, but your fingers should be fine. Now, if you’ll excuse me.”

Toshinori blinks as Shuzenji walks over to him. He offers her a withering smile.

She eyes him carefully, but just guides him over to a free bed. He lays down. “I do appreciate the efforts, Shuzenji, but there really isn’t much you can do.”

“Humor me,” she states, lifting up his oversized shirt. He looks away as she plants a kiss on his wound, not wanting to look at the mangled mess. As soon as she’s done he feels drained, but the pain has subsided. He knows it’s temporary, but he is thankful for it.

She tsks. “Was hoping that would do more.”

Toshinori smiles at her. “Like I said.”

She huffs at him, but she smiles back. “Stay here for a bit, I want to examine it again after you’ve rested.”

He wants to protest, but instead he just nods, resigned. She leaves him again, returning to Aizawa and Midoriya.

“You two, get out of here. I better not see you back here until after the exam!” she scolds, and a “Yes, Recovery Girl,” comes from the both of them. Midoriya at least has the gall to sound a bit sheepish.

He sees them get up, and for a brief moment, he panics--Aizawa will recognize him, he knows, but Midoriya won’t. Which is...good.

“C’mon, kid,” Aizawa gruffs, and they both stand. Of course, Aizawa catches his eye, and they widen slightly.

“Hello….Yagi,” Aizawa states, angling his head slightly. Toshinori clears his throat a bit, tasting copper, and nods.

“It’s good to see you again, Aizawa.”

He nods in return, and both of them look over at Midoriya. He almost winces at the sight--he was expecting the bandages, but he now sees that the boy’s entire left arm is heavily scarred, twining marks etched into his skin. Aizawa follows his gaze, and frowns.

“Meet me outside,” Aizawa says. Midoriya raises a brow at him, but nods. He smiles at Toshinori, and walks out of the office.

“Are you alright?” Aizawa asks, and well, he honestly wasn’t expecting that.

“I--yes, I’m fine,” he says, blinking. “Recovery Girl just wanted to treat me a bit for my...injury.”

Of the U.A. staff, only Nedzu and Recovery Girl know of the true nature of his injury. But the rest know of his true form, and that it was resulted from an injury.

Aizawa nods. “Good. I know that you saved the kid from a villain a couple weeks back. I wanted to thank you, for that”

Toshinori blinks, again. From what he overheard, Midoriya seems to be training with Aizawa, and for some time now, but he can’t help but wonder about the extent of their relationship.

“I--of course,” he answers. “Just doing my job. And the kid managed to get out of the villain’s grip on his own for a few seconds, he must have an impressive quirk.”

Aizawa snorts, and averts his gaze. “It’s something, all right. But seriously, thank you.”

Toshinori pauses, then nods. “You--you’re welcome.”

Another stifled pause. “What is his quirk, exactly?” Toshinori blurts out, before he can catch himself. He really--he shouldn’t ask, it’s not his business, but considering he was born quirkless, and Inko’s attraction quirk…

Perhaps it was a mutated version of her own, a repulsion quirk? It would explain how he was able to get out of the villain’s grip, and it would certainly be useful, depending on the strength of it. But all he saw was a crackle of energy, and the boy had managed to break free.

Pausing his racing thoughts, he looks up at Aizawa, who’s eyeing him carefully. “He...it’s a muscle amplification quirk.”

That’s….

Well, that’s interesting. It’s common enough for quirks to skip a generation, perhaps that’s what happened. He knows his own parents were both quirkless, but perhaps Inko’s parents…

Hm.

“Certainly useful, fit for a hero,” he smiles. It’s true, after all. Strength augmentation was extremely useful, and very versatile.

Aizawa nods, quirking his lips. “I would hope so.”

Another lull of silence, and Aizawa eyes the door. Toshinori follows his gaze.

“Well, I should get going, I’ll need to bring Midoriya back to his mother.” the other hero says, and Toshinori nearly sputters at the mention of Inko, the questions he wants to ask hitting him in waves. Does he see Inko often? How often does he see Midoriya? How did they even meet, in the first place?

….Is there a father in the picture?

But, no. He has no right to ask any of those questions, as much as it’s burning a hole in his chest. Because he gave that up, fifteen years ago. He gave it up for the safety of both Midoriya and Inko, of course, but he gave it up all the same.

The child may be his blood, but he’s not his son.

He forces out another smile, tight on his lips. “Of course. It was good seeing you again, Aizawa, and young Midoriya as well.”

Aizawa nods. “Likewise, All Might.”

He blanches slightly at the name, but doesn’t say anything. However, when Aizawa moves to reach for the door, he just can’t help himself.

“Look after him. Please.”

Dark hair whips around, but Aizawa’s expression is unreadable. It’s with great effort that Toshinori keeps a steady face.

“I always do,” he replies, simply.

Toshinori nods, smiling faintly. Because what else can he do?

--------

“I really am sorry.”

“....”

“....Mr Aizawa?”

Shouta sighs, knuckles turning white as he grips the steering wheel. He feels the kid staring at him, but he focus on the road in front of him instead. “We need to be more careful.”

“It really wasn’t that bad,” the kid mutters, and Aizawa rolls his eyes. Well, he’s not wrong, it definitely could’ve been worse, but that doesn’t mean that it’s good.

“It doesn’t matter,” Shouta states. “You broke your fingers and fractured your wrist. That cannot happen.”

“It’s happened before,” the kid argues, voice pitched low. He’s not angry, Shouta can tell, just frustrated. Shouta is too. “It was worse the first time we tried. But it healed!”

They come to a stoplight and Shouta spares a glance over at the kid. He’s leaning forward in his seat, chin resting on his hand as he stares out the passenger window. The reflection in the window shows a sour frown and furrowed brows.

“It doesn’t matter. If you’re compromised on the field, then you’re of no use to anyone else, and you become more of a hindrance than a hero.”

Shouta knows he’s being harsh, he nearly winces at his own words, but they need to be said, because the kid cannot just accept getting injured. Especially not when his quirk is so naturally volatile against him.

And Shouta…Shouta knew that they shouldn’t have been trying it regardless. It was too risky--they’ve been sticking with him using his legs though, which is good. Smart. But one punch at ten percent, one obliterated punching bag, one cracked wall (his landlord was going to kick him out very soon) and one injured hand later showed Shouta again what thin ice they were on.

Well, he expected the punching bag to be destroyed. The walls he could’ve done without. And the injuries…

He’s had worse, Shouta knows. While most of the scars on his arms are from before they started training, there are a few , particularly across his fingers and ankles, that resulted from using his quirk while he trained. Usually, Shouta is able to shut it down when it becomes too much, but...

Sometimes Shouta isn’t fast enough.

And while they are focusing on shoot-style moves and techniques, that doesn’t mean that Midoriya can go completely without using his hand. That would just be illogical and impractical. He has to take advantage of every single available resource that he can.

They just have to be smart about it. And they have to do better.

They sit in tense silence, until Shouta pulls into Midoriya’s apartment lot. Putting the car into park, he looks back over at the boy, who’s still deliberately not meeting his eyes.

“I...shouldn’t have been so harsh,” Aizawa states, but the boy whips around and his face is nearly unreadable. A bit sad, if anything.

“No, you should have. Because you’re right,” he says. Aizawa stays silent and watches as he huffs out a breath. “I’m just...frustrated. That I’m not able to do more.”

Jesus Christ, this kid. He thinks back to four years ago, the kid so, so afraid, afraid of himself, in that alleyway. It feels like eons ago, and yet it feels like no time has passed. This boy has grown up immensely right under his nose, but he still has that same flicker in his eyes. That same flicker of....maybe not fear, but uncertainty. Frustration. And it’s part of what drives him, Shouta knows. But it hurts him, to see the kid like that, all the same.

“You’re doing more than enough,” Shouta says, the boy eyeing him. “You’ve improved immensely over the years, the fact that you’ve gained as much control over your quirk as you have is more than impressive.”

It’s true--Shouta wouldn’t tell him that just to boost the kid’s ego, or to even reassure him. If Shouta thought he couldn’t make it into U.A., or that he wasn’t fit to be a hero, he would’ve said something a while ago. But he does, he does think he can make a great hero, that he has great potential. And he’s only improving, every single day.

Midoriya nods, and offers a bit of a smile. “I...yeah. I know that it’s been getting better. It just seems like there’s so much more I could do with it, that I’m not doing.”

Well, yeah. He has a point. The kid has so much strength locked up inside of him, literally, but he just can’t harness it. As much as they try, as much as they’ve been trying….

As awful as it sounds, it just seems like the kid’s quirk is broken. That it can’t physically function properly, as it should. And they know this, they’ve both known this, but as soon as it seems like they’ve figured it out, figured out how to control it more and more, it turns around and bites them in the ass.

“We can’t dwell on that,” Shouta says, hammering down his own doubts. Midoriya raises a brow at him. “We can only focus on what we can do--we know you can operate at five percent, Full Cowling, for ten second intervals. So, we work with that. And we keep working on it,” Shouta gruffs out. At that, the kid’s smile brightens, and he nods a bit vigorously.

“Of course, Mr Aizawa!”

Satisfied, Shouta opens his car door, Midoriya following after him. He’s thankful he was able to lift the kid’s mood a bit, but he knows he’s not out of the water yet.

“Hey Mom!” Midoriya calls out, after walking up the steps and into his apartment. Around the corner comes his mom, apron on and a wooden spoon in hand.

“Hello Izuku! Hello Aizawa!” she calls out cheerfully. “How was--”

She cuts herself off, eyeing Midoriya’s bandaged hand. The kid tucks it into his pocket sheepishly.

“Izuku?” she frowns, but she’s looking at Shouta.

He thinks going toe-to-toe with Toxic Chainsaw would be less fear-inducing.

“Ms Midoriya, I--”

Shouta bites his tongue as she sighs. It’s quiet, but sharp, and Shouta’s stomach lurches. “With the exam in a couple months, I suppose I should get used to this, shouldn’t I?”

It’s not the first time he’s brought Midoriya back bandaged--he thinks back to the first time they tried using his quirk, really using it, and fights against the itching feeling on his skin.

A fractured forearm, three broken fingers, and a significant amount of bruising, it had been. Thanks to Recovery Girl, he’d healed quickly and relatively easily--the biggest obstacle had been keeping Midoriya from training those few days afterwards.

As horrible as it was, it wasn’t necessarily the injury itself. No, it was when he brought the kid home, and he saw the look in Ms Midoriya’s eyes.

She hadn’t been staring at his injured left arm, but rather, his right shoulder.

Shouta can still feel the hot shame that he had felt then. A fucking failure, unable to keep the damn kid safe. He knew injuries were par for the course at U.A., but the kid wasn’t at U.A. yet--he’d been thirteen at the time. And besides that, it hadn’t been an injury from any kind of training.

It was the backlash, again. The kind of injury Shouta had specifically said he would avoid.

He’d thought after that, Ms Midoriya would pull her son out of his training. As devastated as the kid would’ve been, Shouta wouldn’t have blamed her. When she invited him over the day after, he was almost certain he was going to get chewed out, reprimanded, and told that he could no longer see her son.

Instead she’d greeted him with a smile and a cup of tea. Shouta accepted it--surprised again by the woman, without fail.

“I knew this would happen, going in” she had said, taking a sip from her own cup. “That he would be injured. If he’s going to be a hero, later on, it’s going to be an inevitability. But still….”

Shouta had said nothing, allowed her to collect her thoughts.

“The scars he has are from his quirk, directly. Not necessarily from him using it.” She had continued, and Shouta frowned at that. Of course he had noticed the scarring that marred the boy’s left arm. He had figured it’d been from injuries prior, due to using his quirk, but he didn’t know that the scarring was from direct backlash of the quirk itself, rather than an injury sustained from using it. “It’s like that energy is….eating him up. The doctor’s had said it’s because it has nowhere to go, and thus he’ll grow into it. And now, with all your training, it seems he has begun to grow into it, but I still worry that it’s going to be too much for him.”

“We can stop the training,” Shouta had said, as a reminder. “If you’re not comfortable with it, we’ll stop.”

She’d smiled at him, Shouta’s breath catching in his throat as she did so. “You can stop training him, but he won’t stop. I’m know that much.”

Thankfully, Shouta didn’t notice any new scarring after that injury. It seems that he was able to gain more control over his quirk, both the use of it and the backlash, thanks to the training. A few times after that, Midoriya would gain a new scar, here and there, but it wasn’t much. As Ms Midoriya had said, it wasn’t like his incidents, the power unleashed throughout his body, too much for him to handle, tearing him up.

But after each subsequent injury, Ms Midoriya looked at Shouta with her own sort of determination in her eyes. Sadness, of course. Frustration, no doubt. But determination lingered within, all the same. This time was no different.

“Mom, it wasn’t his fault, it was mine,” Midoriya says, and Shouta wants to roll his eyes, he really does. But he doesn’t.

Ms Midoriya shakes her head, smiling at her son. She doesn’t say anything in reply, just turns to Shouta. “If he trains at U.A., he’ll most likely be getting injured, yes?”

The kid whips around, silently pleading with Shouta. He ignores him. “Yes. He will. It’s the nature of the hero program, to partake in high risk training. While the safety of our students is our top priority, we do not hold back in our training, because villains do not hold back.”

Ms Midoriya presses her lips together, nodding. “And the nurse you’ve been taking him to, she’s the school nurse. A permanent position?”

Shouta nods. “Yes. She’s the main reason U.A. is allowed to function as it does.”

A still beat, and Ms Midoriya returns the nod. “Then, I suppose it’s going to happen, isn’t it?”

“I--yes. If he gets in, it will.”

Another pause passes, and Ms Midoriya turns back towards her son. “Go wash up for dinner, Izuku.”

The kid looks like he wants to protest, head swiping between Ms Midoriya and Shouta, but he relents, and walks towards the bathroom. As soon as he’s out of earshot, Ms Midoriya stalks up towards him, fire in her eyes as she jabs a finger into his own chest.

“You made me a promise, four years ago. And you better intend to keep it,” she grits out. Shouta blinks, a bit thrown off by change in tone. But can he blame her?

“Of course,” he manages. “I’ll do everything in my power.”

She looks up at him, cocking her head. Shouta holds his breath as she nods once, and steps back, apparently satisfied.

A couple years back, Shouta might’ve argued with her, saying that he’s not keeping the boy safe, that he’s still getting injured, that he still doesn’t have control over his quirk like he should. But he’s seen now how after every injury, her eyes travel from his left arm, to his right shoulder. Every time, without fail, there’s only one thing that she’s truly focused on, one thing that the worry in her eyes truly betrays.

Keep him safe.

Shouta will.

He has to.

--------

Shouta greets Nedzu with a nod as he steps into the viewing room. A few other teachers have already gathered, Cementoss and Midnight are both standing in one corner of the room by the monitors, chatting idly. They’re both judges, he remembers, for the rescue points. The part of the examination he blatantly didn’t tell Midoriya about.

The basics of the exam are available to any applicant. But the area regarding rescue points is purposely kept quiet, as broadcasting it would defeat the nature of the exam--and it’s one of the few aspects of the exam that Shouta cannot find fault with. Heroes should be people who save others because they want to, not because they are told to do so.

Shouta, however, will not be one of the judges. He has in prior years, but considering that the incoming freshman will be his homeroom class, Nedzu told him that he will not partake in the grading, as to not play favorites.

Still, he’s been asked to watch from the viewing room, with the rest of the staff. He seats himself on the far side of the room, watching as the rest of the teachers file in. Hizashi isn’t there, as he’s the one on scene administering the exams. Which is good, because Hizashi is often...a distraction, and Shouta wants to be able to focus on the group of applicants.

He does shift slightly, when a tall figure sits beside him. He looks up, confused for half a moment, but--oh yeah.

All Might.

He did see him in this form recently, at the nurse’s office with Midoriya, but it’s still a bit of a shock nonetheless. After becoming so used to the overwhelming presence of All Might that the media so often likes to put forth, interacting with him as just….a man, is jarring.

He feels embarrassed just thinking it, because of course All Might is just a man, even if he didn’t have this secret, or if he always looked how he does to the rest of the world. Becoming complacent in such an untouchable figure is….not good. But that’s what he’s always seen him as--despite his loud, bolstering, obnoxious personality, he’s always been deemed as untouchable. An ideal All Might wanted to put forth, no doubt. A purposeful facade, the Symbol of Peace.

Still….Shouta feels like a fool for falling for it. He should’ve known better.

Shuddering away the thoughts, he nods up at the hero.

All Might offers him a smile and a returning nod. “It’s good to see you again, Aizawa.”

Shouta fights the urge to raise an eyebrow. “You as well, All Might.”

The man seems to falter for a moment, smile almost wavering, but he doesn’t say anything. Shouta did know that he wouldn’t be partaking in the grading either. Whether it’s because he’s a new teacher, or it’s something to do with his status, Shouta doesn’t know. He never bothered to ask.

It’s not long until the exam starts; they don’t have an audio feed, but he sees Hizashi and the other proctors motioning for their respective groups to start, and the gates to the U.A. cities opening before them.

He tries to watch over all the students, of course, but his eyes are drawn immediately to Midoriya. He can’t count the seconds his quirk is activated, due to the camera flipping to where the action is, but he does see his score slowly rack up in the side counter.

When he looks over briefly, he notices that All Might’s eyes are also trained on Midoriya, an unreadable expression darkening his gaunt face.

Shouta frowns, but doesn’t say anything, turning back towards the screens. He notices that time is almost out, and while Midoriya has racked up a number of points, he’s not sure if it’s going to be enough. Shouta mentally curses--this kid’s damn quirk. So powerful, but he still can’t control it properly. Literal years of training, and it’s still like fighting at a rubber band, the elastic barely loosening an millimeter each time they pull at it, threatening to snap--

It’s then, that he notices it--the Zero Point bot has finally clamored it’s way over towards the highest concentration of students in Midoriya’s city, towering over them. Most of the students start running in the opposite direction, as Shouta predicted they would. However, there’s one student who’s not running with then, but instead darting directly into the bot’s path. He doesn’t even have to look at the zoomed in camera angle to know exactly who it is.

Damn kid. What the hell does he think he’s trying to prove?

But then, Shouta notices it--one of the students is trapped under a metal beam, and the bot is heading straight for her path. Of course, the bots would literally never crush a student--they’re meant to attack, and pose a threat, as is the nature of the exam. But they would never go that far.

Midoriya, however, is determined.

He can see him running, Full Cowl illuminating his body, but then--

Before he can remember himself, Shouta jumps out of his seat, fists clenched at his side. He barely contains a curse as the other staff turn to him at the sudden movement. Shouta bites his lip, ignoring them all, instead focusing on the screen, because this kid, this damn kid…

He sees the energy flicker around his form, raw and unrestrained, unrestrained, because he’s definitely going over the five percent they’ve established. Hell, he’s going over ten percent, at least.

“Stupid kid,” Shouta can’t help but mutter, and he can feel All Might staring at him, gaze scorching, but he doesn’t turn, eyes unwavering from Midoriya’s near-glowing form.

It’s then that he leaps, soaring off the ground. The kid’s arm--his arm, damn it, Izuku!--lights up, energy flowing as he rips through the sky, metal folding in on itself where the fist makes contact.

The robot halts, shutters, and crashes behind them into the ground.

And Midoriya--Midoriya is falling.

He’s unconscious, arm a mangled mess, and Shouta grits his teeth, restraining himself from crying out. He’s about to scream at the staff, for them to do something, when suddenly Midoriya’s fall is halted. The girl--the one that he had saved, seems to have reached out and slapped him. Shouta now notices that she’s actually on a piece of scrap metal, floating--

Ah, yes, he remembers now, she had been making the robots float by touching them, and then sended them careening into the ground. It appears that’s what she’s done with Midoriya, just...much more gently.

While Shouta calms slightly, now seeing that Midoriya is out of immediate danger, he does notice that his skin is still crackling with green light. Shit.

Overexerted himself, of course, and now even unconscious, the energy is loose and wild.

“Is he...his quirk...?” The voice is small, almost tinny in Shouta’s ears, and it takes him a moment to realize that it’s All Might who’s speaking.

Shouta doesn’t reply, ready to bolt himself halfway across campus to forcefully shut down the kid’s quirh himself, but it appears he doesn’t have to. The green flares around his form begin to thin out, and then dissipate altogether. Shouta allows himself a small sigh, but he knows the kid’s not in the clear. If it’s just broken, Recovery Girl can heal him no problem--he already sees her stepping onto the scene, time having run out the moment Midoriya hit the ground--but if his quirk damaged him beyond that--

Stupid kid. Stupid, self sacrificing, idiot.

“You’ve been training him, right? To use his quirk?” It’s All Might again, and this time, Shouta does turn towards the other man. His face is etched with...worry? Confusion? Shouta can’t tell.

“I...yes, I have.” He considers lying, but why should he? With how much freedom U.A. teachers are given, there’s no rules preventing him from privately training an applicant on his own time. He’d even told Nedzu about it, who’d just waved him off, knowing that Shouta wasn’t one to give any of his students special treatment. Besides that, All Might had already seen them together, after Midoriya being injured. At the time, Shouta hadn’t explicitly said anything, but All Might isn’t an idiot.

“So you must know, then? About the backlash?”

Shouta immediately bristles, but after a beat he realizes that All Might isn’t accusing him of anything. He’s just genuinely curious.

“I...knew that it was a possibility,” he states, carefully picking and placing his words. “But he was supposed to keep to his allotted percentage of usage. Which he didn't. Thus, the bodily harm.” He knows he’s being vague, mostly because Midoriya is an anomaly, and his quirk is so hard to explain to others. But All Might doesn’t look confused. In fact he looks...oddly understanding. But there’s still something eating away at the man’s eyes, something glinting under the shadows…

“And how much is he supposed to be using?”

A pause. “Five percent.”

It’s then, that Shouta recognizes what’s tainting All Might’s gaze.

It’s fear.

Chapter Text

By the time Shouta makes it down to Recovery Girl’s office, Midoriya has managed to regain his consciousness.

Good. Shouta has a few choice words he’d like to share with him.

On the way over however, his mind had been lingering on All Might, and that look he’d been giving him. He’d been meaning to ask him why he was so interested in Midoriya--if he was just concerned for the kid as any teacher or hero would be, or if there was something more to it that Shouta was missing. Judging by the fear glazing over his eyes, Shouta would assume it that was the latter.

But before Shouta was able to get a word out, Nedzu had asked him and All Might to exit the viewing room, as they were going to start discussing the grading of the exam. Shouta obliged, but was unable to get a word in to All Might before the man bid them all a hasty, awkward goodbye and virtually bolted down the hallway.

Well. There would be other opportunities to hound All Might. At this moment, he was more concerned with chewing out a different self-sacrificing idiot.

When he enters the nurses office, Recovery Girl greets him with a raised brow and Shouta stifles a sigh.

They walk over together towards Midoriya, who’s very blatantly not meeting Shouta’s eyes. He takes a seat next to him, and looks up at Recovery Girl.

“How bad is it?” Shouta asks.

She shakes her head, slightly. “Well, it’s not good. Arm was entirely broken, along with fracturing his ankles. I’ve healed his legs and sped up the process on his arm, but it’s too much to completely heal with my quirk.”

Dammit. Fucking dammit. “And the long term damage?” he grits out, glaring daggers towards Midoriya. The kid sulks lower into the bed, averting his gaze.

“He’s lucky. He’ll have some additional scarring, but the bones should reconstruct fine. Though, I can’t say the same thing for next time.”

Well, that’s something. He notices that there’s a few students waiting near the door with some minor injuries that still need healing. Shouta thanks her, to which she nods and walks off towards the students.

“I don’t need to tell you how stupid that was, do I?”

A bit of a pause, and Midoriya finally meets his eyes. “No. But I’m not sorry.”

Shouta was expecting that. “Okay, sure. But if you injure yourself to the point of putting yourself completely out of commission, then you’re a hindrance rather than a help.” Shouta is completely aware that Midoriya knows it but he still has to say it, because apparently the kid cannot get it through his thick skull.

“Isn’t it worth it, to save one life? Isn’t that what being a hero is about?” He’s quieter, averting his gaze once more. And Shouta….Shouta has a lot of things he could say to that because yes, self sacrifice is the essence of being a hero.

But still, there’s a difference between self-sacrifice and complete disregard for your own wellbeing. Midoriya desperately needs to learn the difference.

“If you’re going to have such blatant disregard for your own personal safety, then you shouldn’t be attending this school at all.” Midoriya’s eyes widen slightly at that, but he nods seemingly in acceptance.

“I...okay, I’ll try to be more careful next time.”

“Not try. You have to.”

Midoriya nods again, more determined this time. “I--yeah, I will.”

Shouta….doesn’t doubt that the kid will try, but he does doubt that he won’t bodily injure himself with his quirk again. And that--that scares him. Because if he does this much damage to his arm again, there might be permanent ramifications. He might lose proper use of his arm. And that can’t happen, it can’t.

But will the kid be able to follow through on that, when he actually needs to?

Well. For now, the kid looks guilty enough, so Shouta relents. “You still did good though, kid. You should be proud.”

Midoriya absolutely beams at him. “I--thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

He nods, but adds, “I’m still not happy with what you did. But….you still did the right thing. Even if it was incredibly stupid how you did it.”

Midoriya lets out a huff. “Yeah I….I didn’t really even manage to think about it? It just sorta, happened. Like my legs started moving before my brain realized I was running.”

Ah. Well, Shouta knows that all too well. He remembers his first few fights as a pro, relying more on instinct than anything. And the fact that Midoriya is experiencing that now?

Well, it’s certainly heroic.

Even if he’s still a damned idiot.

--------

Shouta isn’t surprised when he’s called in for a meeting with Nedzu, the day after the exam.

He’s a little nervous, sure, but he’s mostly annoyed. It’s not his fault the damn kid did exactly what Shouta told him not to do.

Shouta is a bit surprised, however, when he walks into Nedzu’s office and there’s another figure in the room besides the principal--All Might in his smaller form, looking as ridiculous as ever in his oversized suit. Shouta resists the urge to raise a brow at the man, instead sitting down next to him and across from Nedzu.

“Thank you for coming, Aizawa,” Nedzu says, nodding towards him. Shouta nods in return, not missing how it’s only directed towards him, and not All Might. Did they both call him down here? Did All Might go and tattle on him, upset that Aizawa allowed him to partake in the exam while knowing the risks of his quirk?

If so….he knows that All Might is the paradigm of peace, but going so far seems to be a bit much. It’s not like Midoriya himself didn’t know the risks, or that he wasn’t a willing participant.

“I assume this is regarding Midoriya Izuku?” Shouta asks. There’s no point in pretending it’s not.

Nedzu nods, expression as unreadable as ever. “Yes. You had come to me saying that you were training the boy to use his quirk. Can you explain to us how exactly his quirk works?”

Shouta pauses, eyeing the both of them. All Might has the same, almost-fearful look in his eyes that he had a day ago. Just as they had then, unanswered questions rattle in the back of his head. Shouta had assumed he was scared for the kid, about the dangers of his quirk, but perhaps that’s not exactly it….

He shoves the thoughts away, turning his attention instead onto Nedzu. “As far as we’ve both been able to determine, his quirk essentially enhances his strength, making him quick, powerful, strong.”

“As far as you’ve been able to determine?” Nedzu asks, cocking his head.

“His quirk is...rather odd.” Shouta says lamely. He glances over at All Might, who’s staring at a point past Shouta’s shoulder, frowning.

“Can you elaborate? To the best of your knowledge. Whatever you know would certainly be helpful to us, and the young Midoriya,” Nedzu says.

Shouta fights back against a grimace. It would be helpful to him if he knew what the fuck was going on, if he knew why exactly the both of them needed this information, but whatever. He continues.

“His quirk is very difficult to control. Sometimes it’ll activate on it’s own, however that became extremely rare after we began our training.” Shouta pauses briefly, wondering if this is what the principal was looking for, confirmation that the child has an unstable quirk. However, Nedzu says nothing to that, just looks towards him patiently. Now with more questions than answers, Shouta trudges on.

“When I first met him, he told me that he was deemed quirkless at four, his quirk not manifesting until he was seven. The first time he tried to use it, it shattered his arm beyond repair.”

“It what?”

Shouta whips his head around to see All Might staring at him, horror evident in his features. He looks--frankly he looks broken, beyond horrified, wide eyed and slack-jawed.

And--yeah, it’s shocking, that a quirk would do this, especially to a kid. But….it’s clearly more than that, as All Might looks physically and mentally shaken from the news. As if it’s…..

….personal.

Hm.

“As I said,” Shouta clarifies, trying his best not to focus on the dismay in the other hero’s eyes, “he used his quirk for the first time, and the backlash it had on his arm left it completely destroyed. They had to amputate it.”

All Might….he flinches, at that, but his expression doesn’t otherwise change, and he doesn’t say anything else.

Shouta turns back towards Nedzu, who urges him to continue. Shouta does.

“For the first year that I worked with him, we worked solely on conditioning his body. We both believed that because his quirk essentially works as a muscle amplifier, if his body became stronger he would then have more control over his quirk. That turned out to be right, but it still took a long time for him to work out how to get a margin of control over it. Right now he can use it safely and easily at about what he thinks is five percent of his power, at ten second intervals. However the more he activates it, the less time he has to use it, and his breaks in between use become longer. He’s still working on achieving more power for longer, but it seems that his own biology is actively working against him.”

Shouta finishes, the silence thick and heavy in the room now that he’s done speaking. Nedzu isn’t looking at him, appearing to be lost in his own thoughts, chin resting on his...paws.

“So when Midoriya smashed in the Zero Point bot, he was using too much of his power.” It’s not a question, more of an aloud confirmation from Nedzu of what Shouta said, but he nods anyways.

“Yes. That, combined with too much of it concentrated into his arm. We’ve been working on dispersing it throughout his body, rather than concentrating it into one limb.” He doesn’t mention the series of broken and bruised fingers, and torn muscles that came with the trial and error. He’d already endured the wrath of Ms Midoriya--which was probably scarier than anything Nedzu could dish out, anyways.

The principal nods again, face still considering. Shouta shifts in his chair.

He considers saying...something else, when Nedzu turns to All Might. “Is it what you think it is?”

Oh great, more cryptic shit.

“I...don’t know. It shouldn’t be possible, that’s not how it’s supposed to work. At first I thought it was…his doing, but it isn’t...I don’t think…”

Now Shouta is actively annoyed. “Care to elaborate?” He tries to keep the sarcasm from dripping into his tone, but he probably doesn’t do a very good job at it considering the apologetic look All Might gives him.

“I...should start at the beginning I think,” All Might says gravely, and Shouta blinks. “I wasn’t born with this...with my quirk. My power. It was passed down to me, like a torch. I’m the eighth person to wield this power. It’s called One For All.”

Shouta says nothing to that because...what is he supposed to say? He doesn’t even know what that means.

Luckily, the man keeps talking. “I was born quirkless. The previous user of One For All, they...passed their power down to me.”

Shouta frowns, brow creasing. “They...gave you their quirk? How?”

“It’s passed down willingly through the users DNA. I, um...ate a piece of their hair,” All Might mutters, tips of his ears turning red. Shouta would’ve laughed under any other context, if he wasn’t currently on the receiving end of a whirlwind of a revelation.

“So you...inherited the quirk from them, after your birth?”

All Might nods. “I was a teenager at the time.”

“And...Midoriya was born with this power?”

All Might doesn’t meet his eyes. Shouta’s brain is whirring, because there’s something he has to be missing. A quirk handed down manually, willingly. But Midoriya…

Oh.

...Oh.

“You’re saying...that you’re the boy’s…?”

“I...I am, yes.” All Might states, and it’s so….blunt how he says it, or maybe it just sounds blunt to Shouta’s ears. Because this--

He thinks back to Midoriya, of his room practically papered in posters of All Might. Of Midoriya, who grew up quirkless, then grew up in a hospital, and then grew up with a volatile quirk. Who grew up friendless, bullied, chewed out by the cards life had dealt him but faced every day with that same, glowing smile--

Shouta is shaking, he thinks. Out of anger, probably. Resentment, possibly. But it’s just--this kid. Who worships the ground that All Might walks on, for All Might to be his father and for the kid not to know--

He takes a deep breath in, then another. Okay. Okay, Shouta is rational, he’s a rational person, he can’t let his anger get to him. Because yes he’s angry, but he knows that All Might isn’t a cruel man. He remembers that shocked, agonizing look that colored All Might’s face when the man first learned about Midoriya’s arm, that deep look of concern in his eyes when he saw Midoriya in the nurse's office those few months ago. It’s not the look of someone who would abandon their son, it’s not.

All Might is the Number One Hero. He’s the absolute Symbol of Peace, that’s not for nothing. This is a man who he knows puts the lives of civilians before his own, who donates nearly his entire salary to charity.

And while Shouta knows that none of those things translate into being a good father, he at least hopes they do translate into being a decent human being.

Right?

Perhaps All Might didn’t know, until recently. But the thing is, Shouta also knows Ms Midoriya and he highly doubts that she would’ve kept such a thing a secret from him.

But still….

Shouta can feel All Might’s stare on him, and it’s making his skin itch. He doesn’t turn towards the other hero, but he does start speaking to him.

“Are you positive? That his quirk is this….One for All?”

He hears All Might cough wetly, and Shouta doesn’t need to look over to know that there’s red in the man’s elbow. “I’m not….I’m not one hundred percent certain, but it is what it seems like. I didn’t notice it, the first time, but when I saw him during the exam….”

There’s a pause, and Shouta has the slightest urge to start screaming. Instead he keeps his mouth shut, and waits. “But during the exam, his quirk looked just like mine did when I first started using it.”

“And did yours cause you bodily harm when you first used it?”

Shouta knows his words are biting, but he doesn’t amend them. Another pause, and then a grave sigh.

“It was a bit difficult to wield, at first. But nothing like….not to that degree,” he finishes lamely.

Shouta hums, unsure of what else to say to the man. Evidently he doesn’t have to say anything, because Nedzu interjects, “But, Yagi didn’t inherit the quirk from birth. He was much older when he received it.”

That, well that makes sense. And it’s not as if All Might could have known that Midoriya was going to inherit his quirk, when it shouldn’t have been possible, apparently, in the first place. Shouta can’t blame the man for that, truly.

Abandoning his child, on the other hand….

Shouta turns back to Nedzu. “Is there anything you plan on doing about this?” Shouta asks. Nedzu cocks his head at him.

“Other than admitting him into the school due to his passing performance, no. As All Might here is the wielder of All for One and is the boy’s biological father, it’s up to him to decide how to proceed.”

….Up to All Might, huh?

Well, Shouta has a few things he’d like to discuss with the Number One Hero.

“Thank you for informing me on this,” Shouta states as he stands, the words coming out a bit stiff. He’s calm--well, calm-er, now that the immediate shock of the situation has begun to dissipate. He can feel All Might’s eyes on him while Nedzu nods, smiling.

“Thank you as well, Aizawa. I know that this is a lot of information to digest. And I’m sure that I don’t need to tell you the gravity of this secret, and how important it is that you keep it.”

Shouta manages a nod. “Of course.”

He shoots a glare at All Might, who thankfully picks up on it without Shouta having to say anything. They both respectfully bid goodbye to Nedzu, and step out of his office.

“I need a drink,” Shouta states as soon as they’re in the hallway.

All Might eyes him, then nods. “That….would be a good idea, yes.”

So they end up at a hole in the wall down the street from campus, Shouta restraining himself from chugging his gin and tonic, while All Might nurses a glass of water.

“Not even a beer?” Shouta raises an eyebrow, and All Might smiles, somewhat sheepishly.

“I really shouldn’t be drinking,” he replies, and yeah, that makes sense.

They sit in stiff silence for a few moments, All Might absently stirring his straw while he looks anywhere besides Shouta’s eyes. Shouta stifles a sigh. He thinks that pulling his own teeth out one by one would be easier than this conversation is going to be.

“How long have you known that you’re the boy’s father?” Shouta asks, because there’s no point in being coy about this. To his credit, All Might doesn’t flinch, just meets his eyes carefully. He must’ve been expecting the question at some point, Shouta is sure.

“A couple months before he was born,” he states, and yeah, that’s the confirmation that Shouta was looking for. He feels anger threatening his edges, but he forces it down--at least for now. He knows All Might has more to say, that he must have his reasons. Shouta figures he should at least hear him out.

“How did you find out?”

A bit of a pause, as All Might carefully sips from his glass. His expression is a bit dark, but mostly unreadable. Shouta watches him carefully as he begins to speak again. “I….Inko sent me a letter, when she was pregnant. We became friends in middle school and remained friends throughout high school, but had a...falling out of sorts, afterwards.”

Shouta cocks his head. “Clearly not that bad of a falling out.”

All Might sputters slightly, and Shouta tenses as the man reaches for a napkin to wipe the blood from his lips. He knows it’s an unfortunate part of his condition, but every time he actually sees it, it activates his flight or flight instincts.

“It wasn’t really a falling out so much as….” he pauses, and sighs. Shouta doesn’t say anything, giving him time to form his words. “I knew that the path I was on was dangerous. I had known of the power and responsibility that comes with this quirk since I received it but after high school I uh, I truly began to understand the gravity of it. I didn’t want anyone to be put at risk because of their connection to me. I began reaching out to her less and less after high school, knowing I was pushing her away, but feeling that it was for the best. The last time I saw her was right after she graduated from college.”

Shouta doesn’t need to ask what happened that night.

But All Might….he looks so completely torn apart just thinking about this. He said he’d known Inko since middle school which is….much longer than Shouta would’ve thought. Ms Midoriya isn’t callous about the company she keeps, but Shouta would’ve thought they’d met in college perhaps, or shortly before or after. Not that they were childhood friends, not that he….

….Well, Shouta has been with Hizashi since high school. He likes to think that he can recognize love when he sees it.

He just wasn’t….expecting it.

“Did you ever reply to her?” Shouta asks. He knows it’s a bit of a harsh question, but he can’t help but ask it. All Might doesn’t even look up, just stares solemnly at his melting ice.

“No,” he mutters. “I wanted to. I really, really wanted to. But what was I supposed to say? Having a...a child in my life, it would’ve been too dangerous. And Inko, she thought that too. She doesn’t know the details, but she understood that what I was doing, that it was going to be dangerous. So she didn’t ask anything of me. She just wanted to tell me.”

It sounds ridiculous, because what mother writes to the father of their child expecting nothing in return? No aid, no commitment, no nothing.

But Ms Midoriya would. She absolutely would.

“She...felt that it wouldn’t be right, to keep it a secret,” All Might grits out, words strained on Shouta’s ears. “She felt that it wouldn’t have been right.”

“Do you--” Shouta starts, but he cuts himself off. Because while he’s been blunt--some of his questions edged with contained frustration--that question would’ve been too personal. Despite everything, he and All Might are still barely acquaintances. However, All Might still looks up at him, offering him a small, sad smile.

“Do I wish she hadn’t told me?” All Might asks, and Shouta pauses for half a moment, then nods, once. “No. Never. It hurt, knowing that I had a son, and knowing that I made that decision, to give him up. But sometimes, when I was at my lowest, after my…incident, eight years ago….” He’s smiling again, and it’s much brighter this time. “Just knowing he was out there was enough.”

“He’s one hell of a kid, too.”

All Might looks towards him curiously at the remark. “How long have you known him?”

“About four years.”

He nods at that, going back to staring down at the table between them. “Ah, right. I thought I heard him say something about knowing you when he was eleven.”

Oh, yeah. He had probably mentioned something when they were in Recovery Girl’s office a couple months ago. All Might had been there, Midoriya had seen him but he hadn’t known it was All Might….

God, this situation was so fucked. Shouta almost wanted to laugh, a crazy, hysterical laugh about how absurd all of it was. And now All Might was going to be teaching Midoriya? Jesus.

“Are you going to tell him?” Shouta can’t help but ask. He’s overstepping again, probably, but fuck it. Shouta has to know. Because well, if he does, Shouta is probably going to have to deal with some of the fallout.

All Might meets his eyes again, and Shouta can’t quite decipher the look within them. “Are you going to tell him?”

Shouta blinks, slightly taken aback and mildly offended. “Of course not,” he scowls. “It’s not anything of mine to tell.”

All Might holds up his hands in defense. “You’re right, I apologize. I didn’t mean to offend, it’s just that you seem awfully close to the boy, and I didn’t know…”

“Didn’t know what?”

“Ah, nevermind,” he mutters, and Shouta really wants to press him about that, but All Might begins speaking again so he lets it go. For now. “But, I honestly don’t know. If Inko hasn’t told him, then I don’t really think it’s anything of mine to tell, either.”

That….makes sense, he supposes. It feels…wrong, still, that All Might is going to be teaching this kid--his biological son--and the kid isn’t even going to know? This kid, who idolizes All Might above all….

Actually….now that he thinks about it, that might pose more of an issue, if All Might were to tell Midoriya the truth.

“That kid practically worships you as a hero, but I’m sure you’ve figured that out by now.”

All Might coughs at that, red rising in his sunken cheeks. “I, yes, he was very enthusiastic when we met.”

Shouta snorts. “I’m sure he was. The kid talks about you like you’ve personally hung the moon.”

There’s a bit of a lull, while Shouta downs the rest of his drink. When All Might speaks again, Shouta nearly winces at how…broken his voice sounds.

“I….I really don’t deserve to be in his life. I gave that up, willingly and purposefully, in hopes to keep him safe. I didn’t really expect to meet him, like this. To be in his life, at any capacity.”

“Well, there’s not much you can do about that now,” Shouta states, and All Might raises a brow at him. “Unless you plan on quitting your teaching position, you’re going to be in his life. He got in to U.A., after all. There’s no getting around it.”

All Might seems to contemplate that for a moment, then nods in acceptance. “I….understand that. I do. But….I don’t think I deserve to be in his life as his father.”

Shouta...can’t really comment on that. Now that he’s heard them, he at least understands All Might’s reasons for leaving even if he doesn’t fully agree with them. He understands how difficult of a choice it must’ve been for him, and while Shouta feels there may have been more he could’ve done….it’s not his to determine. As much as Midoriya would’ve truly benefited--and would benefit now--from having his father in his life, All Might made his bed and now he has to lay in it. It’s not up to Shouta. But…

“Maybe you should talk to his mother.”

All Might sputters, which turns into a wracking cough. Shouta hands him a stack of napkins.

Once he’s gathered himself, All Might replies, “I….don’t know if she would welcome that.”

Again Shouta snorts. Because, really. Even if she’s upset with All Might, which is justified, Shouta can’t fathom her outright refusing to even talk to him. “If you truly think that, then you don’t know her that well, do you?”

“And you do?”

Shouta doesn’t miss the bite in his tone, but he can’t quite place where the malice is coming from. There’s definitely heat in All Might’s eyes, and Shouta….

Oh.

Jesus Christ.

“You do know I’ve been with Hizashi for the past fifteen odd years, correct?”

All Might blinks, momentarily thrown off, but then he flinches slightly, scratching the back of his neck. “I….sorry. I shouldn’t have assumed, but you just seem awfully close to the boy.”

Shouta hums. “I’ve just been training him, is all.”

“Are you sure that’s it?”

Shouta….ignores him. “I know that you knew her as kids, but I’ve known Ms Midoriya for the past few years. Even if you hurt her, I’m sure she would still welcome you back. For his sake, at least.”

All Might seems to accept that, at least somewhat. “I suppose she would. I’m just not sure if I can face her.”

Shouta can’t help but raise a brow. “A bit cowardly, coming from the Number One Hero?”

To his surprise, All Might barks out a laugh. “Yeah, I suppose your right.”

Another drop in conversation, and Shouta is half tempted to order himself another drink, when All Might speaks up again.

“Thank you. For….discussing this with me. I’m still not sure what I’m going to do, but I feel better about this. Slightly.”

Shouta is glad, because he’s still sure as hell conflicted about this. There’s some residual anger, but rationally, can Shouta really be angry at All Might? As much as it sucks, Shouta does understand his reasoning. He’s the Number One Hero--a job that’s dangerous for anyone, but this man has the biggest target on his back.

Not to mention….Shouta doesn’t know the details of All Might’s injury, but if there is someone out there who can inflict such a wound, he feels that the man is justified in being overly cautious.

“Sure,” Shouta says, shoving those particular thoughts away. “Just….talk to his mother, before you do anything rash.”

“I….I should, yes,” he concedes, sighing.

Shouta nods as he begins to stand, All Might doing the same. He leaves a couple bills on the table, and they walk out of the bar together.

“Has she been doing good?” All Might asks as they head towards the train station. Shouta side-eyes him, seeing that the other hero looks slightly sheepish.

“Yes, she has. She’s just worried about Midoriya, both if he’ll get in and what will happen if he does.”

All Might chuckles. “Well, she won’t have to worry about the former, at least.” A pause. “You’re not going to tell them in advanced, are you?”

Shouta scoffs. “Of course not.”

All Might grins wriley. “Of course not, right.”

Once they reach the station, Shouta about to bid goodbye and walk off to his correct platform, All Might blurts out, “You know, you never did tell me how met the kid.”

Shouta cocks his head at the man, raising a brow. “He was running through the streets at 3 AM with his quirk activated, while I was on patrol.”

All Might blinks at him. “You’ll….have to tell me more about that later.”

Shouta snorts. “Of course.”

--------

“Whoever places last, will be expelled.”

Shouta’s words are immediately followed by the ever-expected protests, which Shouta shuts down quickly. Life isn’t fair, and villains certainly don’t play fair. If these kids came into U.A. expecting it to be easy, then they shouldn’t be here. It’s that simple.

Of course, he doesn’t actually have plans to expel any of the students, unless they truly show no potential--and just coming in last won’t determine that.

(When he glances over Midoriya however, it’s obvious that the kid can see right through his rouse. Shouta ignores him).

Having just witnessed Bakugou’s impressive (but not at all surprising) throw, there’s an air of distinct nervousness amongst the students. Despite this, he can still see determination flickering in their eyes.

Good.

They start out simply, with push ups--however many they can do in under a minute. He knows Midoriya will hate him for it, considering how much the kid hated them during their training, but he’s not here to play favorites. A few students eye Midoriya curiously, which is natural he supposes, but the amount he can do in between his quirk usage is still, frankly, impressive. Shouta himself hates one-armed push ups.

There’s some frustration, he can tell--Bakugou particularly looks miffed that explosions won’t help with the push ups, but he still excels nonetheless.

Some of them, it’s a bit amusing to see their resourcefulness. Tokoyami in particular, using his Dark Shadow to aid him. Shouji, with his mutation work, completes a rather impressive set himself. However for most of them, their quirks aren’t particularly helpful—something that is personally very familiar for Shouta.

With the long jump, things become a bit more versatile. Again, he’s pleased with the ideas some of them use--Sero is lucky that the jumping pit is close enough to a tree that he can use his tape to swing himself across. If it was a running long jump, he figures Uraraka would’ve used her quirk on herself, propelled by her own momentum. But because it’s standing, she knows using her quirk like that would make her go up, not forward, so she instead removed the gravity from her clothes and shoes.

For others, like Aoyama, it’s much more straightforward.

He can hear a few murmurs, when Midoriya makes his damningly huge leap. Truly, the boy is a bit unassuming, and he has no doubt that people will constantly underestimate him on the surface because of his disability. But--somewhat shockingly--most of the class goes up to him after his jump to congratulate and commend him on his quirk. The boy, ever bashful, waves off the compliments.

Damn kid. He should be proud, with how far he’s come.

Of course, some don’t partake in such niceties with the other students. Todoroki, he notices immediately, is purposefully standoffish. Bakugou is similar, but it’s not out of disinterest as much as it is arrogance.

Arrogance, towards everyone but Midoriya. Because there’s something there, in the way his gaze lingers on the kid, that makes Shouta worry. He thinks it might be envy, but it’s definitely not that. Resentment, perhaps, but Shouta can’t tell.

Normally Shouta would’ve played it off as a simple student rivalry, but he can see the way Midoriya very blatantly does not look over in Bakugou’s direction.

Hm.

Shouta makes a mental note of it, to mull over later. Now that rest of the students have completed their jump, he has them preparing for the 55 meter dash.

He already has a general idea of how this is going to go down--Iida, of course, is a given. Bakugo as well, and Todoroki he knows this’ll be easy for. Ashido also seems promising, as he saw her expertly use her sliding during the practical exam.

However, while the first round of students is preparing, with one of the school’s bots preparing to count them off, a bit of yellow catches his eyes.

Shouta sighs, resisting the urge to pinch down on the bridge of his nose.

All Might shouldn’t be here. He really should not be here. He’s very much not hidden around the corner of one of the outer walls, a bit ways back. Thankfully, most of the students are facing in the opposite direction, towards the course.

The first round of students--Tokoyami, Shouji, and Sero--finish their race. Unfortunately for him, there’s nothing in the vicinity for Sero to swing from, and Dark Shadow isn’t much help with speed, so Shouji beats the both of them. As Shouta mentally notes their times, he peaks back around. All Might is still there, oblivious both to the other students and to Shouta himself, only focused on Midoriya, who’s currently stretching in preparation for his own race.

Shouta suppresses a sigh. If this is going to work out at all for them, All Might has to be far less obvious.

However, Shouta now notices that a few of the girls, walking back from the water coolers, are going to walk directly in front of All Might and they’ll see him for sure, most likely before All Might even notices them coming. And that is….not good.

Not world-ending, but if Ashido, Hagakure, and Ausi see All Might, they’re most definitely going to create a scene, and that’s going to become a huge distraction. Shouta absolutely does not want that to happen.

Well….maybe even if All Might doesn’t move, they don’t have to see All Might.

I hope you take the hint, you absolute buffoon, Shouta thinks to himself as he tucks his own hair into his capture weapon as not to give himself away. Then, holding back a smirk, he shoots a glare towards All Might.

There’s a bit of steam that comes off of the man, as he quite literally poofs back into his smaller form. It’s blocked behind the wall now, but it should dissolve into nothing by the time the girls walk past--and hopefully by then, All Might will have gotten a fucking clue, and have left the training grounds.

However, half a second after All Might transforms, Shouta hears an oof! coming from the race course. He whips around, and eyes widen when he sees it’s Midoriya who’s fallen onto his hand and knees. And he looks...utterly baffled.

The kid picks himself up immediately, however, and finishes the race. He ends up losing to Bakugou, but with a burst from his quirk he still manages to beat Kirishima.

Frowning, Shouta walks over towards where most of the students are gathered. As he does he spares a glance behind him, and notices that All Might is no longer there. Good.

But still….why did Midoriya fall? He’d fallen near the starting line, and even with today’s exertion he should’ve had plenty of control left to finish the race easily.

“I wonder why he fell like that?” Shouta hears Kaminari ask aloud, Sero at his side. The both of them are oblivious to Shouta approaching from behind.

“I dunno, that was super weird! Looked like his quirk kinda just, shut off in the middle of his stride, he didn’t seem prepared for it at all.”

….Shut off?

Shouta thinks back, because that look on Midoriya’s face--he’s seen that look before, he knows he has. But when--

The figure stares back at him, and--it’s just a kid, a scrawny, wide-eyed kid. The panic is evident, screaming in his posture, but there’s also bewilderment shining through in his eyes.

“....My quirk?” he asks.

At the time, Shouta thought he was asking for his quirk back. Now recalling the memory, Shouta knows that he was more so momentarily baffled that his quirk was gone at all.

That it had….been erased.

But….he hadn't. Shouta hadn’t erased his quirk just now, he erased All Might’s. He wasn’t even looking in the direction of Midoriya, so how--

It couldn’t--

But that look. Oh, Shouta knows that look, how could he forget? The boy’s quirk, shut off against his own will. There wasn’t any panicked fear this time, like there had been four years ago. But still, that temporary confusion just now mirrored the look that scared, eleven year old boy had given him all that time ago.

And that--

Well, Shouta’s brain rattles off at him, uselessly, this can’t be good.

Chapter Text

Shortly after class lets out that afternoon, all of his students still very much enrolled, Shouta finds himself in the teachers lounge.

It’s empty, save for one blonde man who offers him a tentative smile and a mildly hesitant wave.

Small miracles, Shouta thinks to himself as he steps through the threshold and towards the couch.

“Everyone else has gone home for the day?” Shouta asks as he seats himself next to All Might.

The man nods. “Yes, it’s just me here.” He holds up a stack of papers. “Just hashing out the final details for my lesson plan.”

Shouta hums. “Good. Because we have to talk.”

Any trace of a smile quickly vanished from the man’s gaunt face. “Ah, right, of course. I should apologize to you Aizawa, for getting in the way of your examination, I really didn’t mean to--”

Shouta waves him off with a huff. “No, not that. Well, yes that, don’t do it again. But that’s not what I wanted to talk to you about.”

All Might meets him with a rather withering gaze. “Oh?”

“Midoriya. His quirk. What else do you know about it?”

There’s a stiff pause between them, All Might wringing his hands as Shouta eyes him carefully. Eventually, the other man looks up from his lap and back towards Shouta.

“I, well, I’ve told you everything I know about the quirk specifically. It’s a power that’s been passed down for generations, cultivating and growing with each user.”

“Is it connected, between the users?”

All Might blinks at him, raising his brows.

Well, that’s a not a good sign.

“I….well, it’s rather hard to explain, I mean--”

Shouta sighs, holding up his hands as to cut the other man off. “Perhaps I should explain myself further,” Shouta mutters. All Might nods warily.

“When I….erased your quirk earlier, I believe it erased Midoriya’s quirk as well.” Shouta lets the sentence out in a rush, allowing a pause before he meets the other hero’s eyes again.

When he does, he sees that All Might looks nothing short of stunned, regarding him with wide eyes, jaw slightly agape. He takes a moment to gather himself--Shouta can practically hear him thinking.

“I….what? Are you sure?”

“Well I’m not certain,” Aizawa gruffs, “but the moment I erased yours, he fell while he was running. While he was using his quirk.”

Again All Might blinks, now frowning. “I mean--that doesn’t--”

“I’ve seen it before, when I….” Shouta sighs, running a hand through his unruly hair. It only further tangles the knots, and he sighs again. “Remember when I said I first met the kid while out on patrol?”

All Might nods, shock still evident across his features. Shouta continues. “He was….running. Just running, his quirk was activated while doing so. Once I was within a safe enough distance I erased his quirk, and caught him with my bindings. But when he looked at me, he looked….well, shocked. Shocked that his quirk was gone, it seemed. He quickly realized what was going on, but in that moment….”

In the pause of his words, Shouta meets All Might’s gaze once more. It’s a similar look, to the one he had at the entrance exam when he saw Midoriya use his quirk against the Zero Point bot. Not a very fitting expression for the Number One Hero.

“In that moment after his fall, he looked just as confused as he did that first time. But I was erasing your quirk, this time,” Shouta finishes.

All Might rubs a hand over his chin, eyes averted from Shouta as he stares down at the floor between them. He sighs. “I don’t….I’m a bit lost here myself, considering the abnormality of the situation. I know that when--when my successor passed on their quirk to me, my powers weren’t reliant on theirs in any way. It was, essentially and in actuality, my own quirk.” A pause. “But….it’s not as if my quirk has to be activated for him to use it, no?”

Well, that’s true. Midoriya never showed any signs of not being able to use his quirk during their training at any point. It was difficult work getting it under control, but the issue was always too much power, not that he couldn’t call it at all. And it didn’t seem to have any lasting effects--once Shouta was done actively erasing All Might’s quirk, Midoriya was able to use his own quirk to finish the race.

So….it seemed it only mattered when it was forcibly shut off? And Shouta knows that his type of quirk is rare; it’s very unlikely that All Might himself would have run into anyone, villain or otherwise, with a similar ability.

“Do you know of anyone else who might know something? Regarding this….One for All?” Shouta asks. He then frowns, when the question turns All Might into a sputtering mess, hacking red into his shirtsleeve. Shouta gives him a moment to gather himself.

“I….I might be able to reach out to someone, yes,” he states, looking over at Shouta with something of a sheepish grin. But there’s nervousness in his eyes, Shouta can tell. Along with something else that Shouta can’t decipher. Fear, possibly?

“If you can,” Shouta nods. “I’m sure it’d be helpful to help understand his quirk better.”

All Might nods, coughing again slightly.. “I--yes, of course.”

Shouta hums, motioning to stand, but before he does All Might asks him, “Are you going to talk to, ah--to young Midoriya about it?”

Shouta raises a brow at him, cocking his head to the side. “I don’t see how I can, considering that would involve revealing your secret, no?”

All Might tries and nearly fails for a smile. “Perhaps. But it might be useful, if you could just ask him what he thinks happened during the race.”

Hm. Well, Shouta could probably manage that. But knowing Midoriya, it’s likely he’ll come to Shouta himself before Shouta even has the chance to ask.

“I’ll see what I can do,” he states, standing up from the couch. Before he leaves the room, he turns back. “And you’ll do the same, won’t you?”

A cough. “Right, I--yes, I will.”

Shouta….hopes that he will. For the sake of the kid.

--------

“Deku!”

On instinct, Izuku nearly flinches, but the tone of the nickname isn’t how it normally is. No it’s not hateful, it’s not spat out in anger. It’s bright, chipper.

And the voice is completely wrong as well.

He stops in his tracks and turns--and smiles when he sees who exactly is calling out to him. Uraraka grins brightly in return.

“It is Deku, right?” she asks once she’s caught up to him, and Izuku blinks. At that she reddends slightly, digging her heels into the ground. “I just--I heard Bakugou calling out to you this morning in homeroom, so I figured that was your name.”

Oh yeah, right. He remembers this morning, finding his way to the classroom and not really knowing what to expect. Mr Aizawa, sure, but he wasn’t even there yet when Izuku arrived. No, instead he was greeted by the girl from the entrance exams--the one who was caught under the sheet metal, who was nearly crushed by the Zero Point bot. The one who saved him from his fall--or so he was told, since he was rather unconscious at the time.

The girl who also, as he learned from All Might and the acceptance video, offered up her own points to give to him. It turned out such an act wasn’t possible, but was also unnecessary. Regardless, Izuku found himself tearing up from the sheer kindness of the act alone. That this perfect stranger--save for their brief encounter before the exam--would be so willing to help him out and risk achieving her own dreams, just to help him out.

So he was shocked then, learning of her actions, and he was shocked still when she approached him during homeroom with a bright smile and brighter eyes. He was so used to his classmates outright ignoring him. Bullying him too, but that was honestly a bit more rare after his--after his injury.

No, after that most people just ignored him. He was placed into a new school after his time in the hospital, which left him in classes filled with unfamiliar faces.

And well. It’s not like he had friends at his old school, anyways. Well, not since--

But Uraraka was practically bouncing on her feet when she greeted him in homeroom earlier that day, looking genuinely--happy to be talking with him. Izuku couldn’t help the broad smile that crept onto his face.

“You’re the one from the exam, right? I’m Uraraka Ochako, I really wanted to thank you for saving me! Your quirk must be crazy powerful, to have taken out that huge bot!”

Izuku grinned, feeling rather sheepish as he scratches the back of his neck. “Well I mean I--I don’t really remember it, I did pass out right after...oh! Which is why I wanted to thank you, for catching me!”

Uraraka laughed, waving him off. “It was nothing, really! I shouldn’t have gotten myself into trouble like that in the first place, overexerting myself. But what you did was really amazing!”

“It--it wasn’t--I--”

“I, too, wanted to speak with you!”

Izuku blinked in shock, looking over at the student who just approached him. It was the kid from the exam room, the one who called him out on his muttering as well as warning him of bothering Uraraka. It was rational, really--it was good he didn’t go up to her, and he should’ve been more focused on himself and his own performance.

“I wanted to commend you on your actions during the exam. I’ll admit, I didn’t think you were taking this seriously at first, what with your muttering and all. But it seems that you truly took to the essence of the exam--of course there would be rescue points! U.A. is ever knowledgeable about what it takes to truly be a hero, that’s why it’s the top university in the nation! You clearly took that to heart!”

Izuku gave himself a moment to take the words in, the praise having felt odd and undeserved. But….he was grateful for it nonetheless, and smiled in return.

“I--well thank you really, but I really didn’t do anything spe--”

“Nonsense! What you did was truly heroic!” Before Izuku could muster a reply, a hand was held out in front of his face. “Iida Tenya, it’s a pleasure to formally meet you!”

A brief pause, where Izuku stared down at the hand, feeling his own cheeks heating. Because while he didn’t want to seem rude, he didn’t--

It turned out he didn’t have to do anything because before he could, Iida glanced up again, then down at his own right hand, before shaking his head slightly as he retracted it, replacing it with his left one.

“I--I truly am sorry, I mean no offense, I--”

Izuku laughed, taking his hand and shaking it firm. “No it’s fine, really, no big deal!” Because it’s not, it wasn’t, not at all. He just hates the awkwardness of either refusing the handshake or going in for an awkward shake, but it’s never anything that offends him. “I’m--”

“Deku?”

Izuku flailed slightly, but managed to keep his composure. It’s not like he was surprised--why wouldn’t he be? Kacchan has always had amazing power, and had always dreamed of attending U.A. It came as no shock to Izuku that he would’ve made it into 1-A.

He braced himself slightly, before looking over. And yeah, it may have been years since he’d seen his once-friend in person, it’s still unmistakably Kacchan. Same spiked hair, same glaring eyes, same sneer to his lips. He was staring Izuku down, and while there was heat in his gaze, there was something else that Izuku couldn’t quite place.

It almost reminded him of when--

But, no. He shook his head. He wasn’t going to think of that day, not now. Not after seeing Kacchan for the first time in eight-odd years.

“What’re you doing here, Deku?”

Izuku blinked, because--well, that should be obvious, shouldn’t it? But he knows that’s not what Kacchan was asking.

“I--”

Mercifully, Iida spoke out before Izuku could formulate a proper sentence. “Ah, you’re Bakugou, correct? I believe it was you who placed first in the entrance exams, wasn’t it? Or well, you tied with Midoriya, at least.”

He--

Wait, really? Izuku couldn’t help but think.

What?!

Iida nodded, seemingly unfazed by the venom in Kacchan’s voice. “Yes, I was curious of the results, to see the standings on my fellow classmates to gain some insight onto them, so I asked for a copy of the results. It’s publically available, if you only ask.”

And that...surely Iida had to be mistaken? Because while Izuku knows he was told he did well, he didn’t really think he did that well, considering Kacchan--

“Ah!”

At that, he whipped back around to Uraraka--the one who let out the yelp--and followed her gaze. And it was--

He barely managed to stifle a laugh, at the sight of Mr Aizawa sprawled on the floor in his sleeping bag. The rest of the class seemed to find it odd (and mildly terrifying) but, well--

It wasn’t exactly his first time seeing their teacher in such a state.

Shortly after, Mr Aizawa handed out their gym uniforms and brought them outside for the quirk apprehension test. It had gone--well, actually, better than expected if Izuku was being honest. It’s still a constant fight, controlling his quirk, but the examination had been an overall success for him.

Well--an almost success. He does remember during the 55 meter dash where his quirk had failed him, and he’d ended up falling to his knees. While he had been using it pretty consistently beforehand, between the push ups and the long jump, he hadn’t felt like he was approaching his limit. Perhaps it was some sort of fluke? Because it hadn’t felt like it normally does, when he’s running low on his stamina. No, this had been more abrupt--but still, it could have been from the exertion. Between today’s class and the exam, he’d been using his quirk more than he has been in the past.

He makes a mental note to talk with Mr Aizawa next time he got the chance. For now, he shrugs off the thoughts and focuses on Uraraka, beaming in front of him.

Well, not so much beaming anymore. He feels guilty now, having stretched out the silence, lost in his own thoughts.

“I mean, I just assumed it was Deku, since that’s what Bakugou said, but if I’m--”

“No!” he cuts her off, a bit too forcefully. “I mean--that’s just a nickname that….that Kacchan has for me, he uses it to make fun of me, but I haven’t--”

“Oh, I’m sorry! I didn’t realize! But I mean, I really like Deku! It kind of has a nice ring to it, yeah? Like, never give up!

Surprisingly enough to his own self, Izuku finds himself smiling. “Well, then--then call me Deku!”

She beams even brighter than before, which Izuku had previously thought impossible. However it momentarily falters, her eyebrows drawing together, cocking her head. “Wait, did you say Kacchan?”

Oh, right. “I uh, yeah. Kacchan. Bakugou. We used to know each other as kids, and I--”

Lucky for him he then spots Iida walking over, waving towards the both of them. Izuku is more than grateful (for the second time that day) to cut off his own words and allow Iida to speak, as he seems eager to discuss the apprehension test and Mr Aizawa’s ‘logical rouse’ with them. Uraraka’s gaze does linger on him momentarily, but thankfully, she doesn’t try to press him about Kacchan.

Because that--

Well…

As they walk side by side towards the train station, Izuku can’t help but ponder over what Uraraka had said about--about the nickname. Deku. Because for the first time, that hateful nickname hadn’t sounded so hateful.

--------

“Mr Aizawa!”

Stilling in his steps, Shouta turns around towards the sound of the familiar voice. He sees Midoriya standing before him, having caught up to him in the hallway just as he was exiting the classroom between periods.

“Yes?” he gruffs out, because he knows what this is about. He can tell the boy wanted to speak with him this morning, but never got the chance to, hounded by his friends the moment he entered the classroom, and obviously eager not to seem overly familiar with his teacher. At least that’s how it seemed anyways--Midoriya isn’t looking for any special treatment, and Shouta doesn’t plan on giving any.

But it was only yesterday that Shouta himself discussed with All Might about the predicament they seem to be in--with their quirks being entwined with one another. And Midoriya--curious as ever, was here to seek answers, he knew.

And Shouta--Shouta wants to tell him the damn truth. But it’s not his to tell, so instead he internalizes a sigh and waits for Midoriya to ask his question.

“Sorry to bother you, I know you’re on your break,” he starts, and Shouta holds back an eyeroll. Damn kid, he should know by now that he’s not a bother. “But I just wanted to ah, mention. Yesterday during the test, I seemed to--lose control of my quirk, while running? I mean--! Not lose lose control, but it stopped working? Quicker than it normally would’ve.”

“Hm. So you didn’t run out of stamina, you don’t think?” Honestly, Shouta hates this, being forced to both play dumb and to lie to the kid, who clearly deserves better. But it’s not as if Shouta can tell Midoriya the real truth without betraying a secret held throughout generations, along with a damning revelation about the boy’s own heritage. So he forces himself to play along.

“No--well, that’s not what it felt like? But it kinda felt like it was--like I wasn’t able to grasp onto it? Which is similar to how it is when I’m reaching the time limit, but this was much more abrupt.”

Well, that--that’s honestly a bit shocking. Previously when Midoriya had told Shouta what it felt like for his quirk to be erased, he described it as similar to a rug being pulled out from under him. But this seems different--like it was out of reach and he couldn’t quite get a hold on it. Similar to how he’s described reaching his time limit on Full Cowling, where he feels his control slipping away from him--where he feels he’s either going to lose that control, or risk overloading his body with his own quirk.

Similar, but not quite the same.

Hm.

“It might be due to the sheer amount you’ve been using it lately? Possibly backlash on your stamina from your stunt at the entrance exam.” The planned excuse rolls bitterly off his tongue, and Shouta holds back a frown. It’s logical enough, he figures, and judging by the boy’s nodding he appears to agree.

“Yeah, I was thinking it might be something like that,” he mutters, before letting out a soft laugh. “Guess I’ll just have to keep training harder, huh?”

Shouta allows himself a smirk. “Without over-exerting yourself, of course. But I wouldn’t worry about it--with how unpredictable your quirk has been in the past, the amount of control you do have over it now is still impressive. Just notify me if it happens again.”

Midoriya averts his gaze, shifting his feet--as is typical whenever he receives such praise. One thing Shouta hasn’t been able to teach him yet is how to accept a damn compliment.

“Of course, Mr Aizawa.”

Shouta hums, pointing back towards the classroom. “Now, go head back. Passing period is almost over, and I know All Might has something important lined up for you all.”

At the mention of the Number One Hero, Midoriya beams. “Right!”

--------

“We should split up. Ka--Bakugou is going to come after us first, most likely a one-man assault It wouldn’t be good for both of us to get caught in it. You should go after the weapon.”

Uraraka raises her brows in question. “Are you sure? All I would need to do is touch him, and he’d be out of our way.”

“To be fair,” Izuku says, more than a bit sheepishly, “I have a pretty good feeling that Bakugou is going to come after me regardless. So it would make the most sense for you to go find Iida and the weapon.”

She looks at him warily, but not doubtfully. There's a small beat of pause, to which she then nods in agreement.

Good. Izuku knows he certainly doesn’t have enough time to explain why exactly Kacchan wants to come after him specifically, and nor does he care to.

They turn another corner--Izuku sees the stairwell in sight. It would be unlikely for the weapon to be kept on the first floor, he should tell Uraraka to--

Deku!

As quickly as he can, Izuku activates his quirk and grabs onto Uraraka, pulling her out of the way of Kacchan’s blast. He lets her go, steadying the both of them as they come face to face with their assailant.

Luckily Kacchan had tried for a sneak attack from behind, thus not blocking their access to the stairwell.

“Uraraka, run!” he shouts, and she listens. She shoots off towards the stairs in the far corner, and it’s obvious that Kacchan isn’t interested in following her, not even watching her as she goes.

No. No, Kacchan is far more interested in him.

Izuku thinks that Kacchan is going to shout something else at him, but he doesn’t. He just gears up his right fist, prepping for another assault.

Izuku doesn’t give him the time. Once again he activates his quirk, power streaming through his veins as he turns and runs.

“Get back here, Deku!” Kacchan shouts after him, already an echo through the hallways. At least Izuku has speed on him, he knows that much. Of course Kacchan could use his blasts to propel himself, but doing so would be unwise and unstable in such relatively tight corridors.

It’s been years since Izuku has seen his quirk up close and personal. It’s so much more powerful now than it was back then, when they were younger. When Izuku was still quirkless but ever-hopeful, hoping he would one day be strong too, hoping he could be more like Kacchan.

But now--

Well, things are a bit different now.

He shakes his head, waiting for his stamina to catch up so he can power up his quirk again, darting up the stairwell. As brutal as Kacchan is, he’s still smart, Izuku knows. He may appear to only be thinking in terms of blasting Izuku to bits, but Izuku knows there’s more to it than that. He’ll be high on his tail, and it’s only a matter of time before he catches up to him.

He’s made it to the fourth floor, when he turns a corner and ducks behind a wall. Will Kacchan predict that he’s going to higher ground? Or will he have found him regardless, closer than Izuku thinks he is? He expected to hear more shouting, or blasting--but no. He hasn’t run into Uraraka either, and he’s not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.

Hopefully good.

But Kacchan will find him soon, he’s sure. And that….that should be good thing. Izuku can’t soley count on Uraraka finding the missile in time, he still has to do his part. Which right now, would be capturing Kacchan.

He pulls the roll of tape, admiring it a bit dubiously. A few years ago he would’ve scoffed and cursed his rotten luck. Capture tape. Capturing someone in this way should surely only be possible with two hands.

Well, that’s what he would’ve thought. But now he knows better.

“You….you want me to train with your scarf?”

“Capture weapon,” Mr Aizawa corrects, and yeah, Izuku knows that. But really, it’s a scarf.

He unravels the bindings, revealing a sight that Izuku rarely sees. In the couple years they’ve been training, he’s only seen his teacher without his weapon a handful of times, always wearing it regardless it he’s in his hero costume or civvies.

“Any hero that relies solely on his quirk is doomed to fail,” Mr Aizawa states, and yes, Izuku knows that. It’s why they’ve been training in hand-to-hand combat and mixed martial arts along with strength training and quirk control.

And that’s all well and good, but this? He thinks he might be out of his depth here.

He catches the material in his hand. It’s a bit softer than he would’ve imagined. He doesn’t think he’s ever touched it directly. Well, there was the time--that first time--where he was literally bound by it, but he was a bit distracted then.

“How do I use it?”

Izuku sees it, the hint of a smirk that Mr Aizawa is clearly trying to hide. “How do you use it? Like any regular capture tape or binding.”

“So, it won’t do the uh, floaty thing?”

“No. It’s encoded to my DNA, it’ll only respond that way for me.”

Well. That posed a bit of a problem. “I don’t really see how I’m going to be able to effectively bind someone in this way, with just one hand.”

This time Aizawa does smirk, full and true. “Then I guess you’ll have to improvise, won’t you?”

It’s not the first time that Izuku is genuinely thankful for Mr Aizawa and his pitiless training methods.

--------

Toshinori watches as Midoriya begins to unwind the capture tape. It’s a bit clumsy, uncoordinated, as he’s essentially holding the roll loosely between his knees, allowing himself to unravel a bit of the material. Grasping the end of it, he then shoves the rest of the roll into what appears to be a pocket on the right shoulder of his costume, and peaks his head around the corner wall.

“Uraraka, any progress?” asks Midoriya, his words echoing through the comm in his own ear. Toshinori glances over at the other monitor, and sees Uraraka walking steadily through the hallways, one floor above him.

“I haven’t found anything yet, I made it to the fifth floor though, and I--”

“You think you can hide from me, Deku?!”

One of the students lets out a bit of a muffled gasp. Another attempt at a sneak attack, but just as before, Midoriya dodges. Residual sparks fly as Bakugou stares down his fellow student.

“Deku! Are you alright?” Uraraka shouts.

“I’m fine,” he replies, taking a few steps backwards. They’re at the front end of the building now, up against the windows. And with the angle that Bakugou came at him, there’s nowhere for Midoriya to run to if he wishes.

Not without fighting Bakugou.

“I found Iida and the weapon--he’s actually monologuing right now,” she states, looking a bit like she’s trying to contain her laughter. “Fifth floor, at the front of the building, near the center.”

“Good, do what you can. I’ll try come up there as soon as I can.”

“You won’t be getting out of here anytime soon,” Bakugou practically growls, pacing forward and closing Midoriya in further. Toshinori grits his teeth--this is only a training exercise, but Bakugou has such fire in his eyes. He knows he has a sharp tenacity, but this….this seems like it’s more than just a desire to excel.

No. This seems personal.

“You’ll have to keep me here then, Kacchan,” states Midoriya, holding up a fist and crouching at the ready. And that nickname--Kacchan. An old friend, perhaps? With such a cutesy nickname, Toshinori can’t help but assume. Bakugou has that nickname for Midoriya as well….although his doesn’t seem as childlike--he spits it out like an insult.

Not to mention, the sharp look of Bakugou’s glare--that certainly doesn’t look like something of friendship.

And Midoriya--for the first time that he’s seen, the boy looks almost closed off. He can see the determination etched into his figure, sure. But the boy, his facial expressions are usually an open book, from what Toshinori has gathered from their few encounters. But this--this is different.

At Midoriya’s words, Bakugou only seems to grow angrier. “You damn idiot! You’re not getting away from me!”

And with that, he launches out towards Midoriya, right fist at the ready. Midoriya looks prepared for the attack, yet it seems that he misjudges where it’s aimed. He’s readying for an attack at his right side, but Bakugou ends up shooting left. However, Midoriya is able to adjust quickly--he grabs at Bakugou’s arm and flips him over his shoulder with near-perfect execution.

“Wow,” Kaminari whistles, “that was a crazy move from Midoriya, I don’t even think he used his quirk!”

“It’s odd that Bakugou would attack on the left,” Asui states, tapping her chin in thought. “It would’ve made much more sense for him to attack Midoriya’s right side, putting his opponent at a disadvantage.”

“What? That would’ve been super unmanly!” Kirishima shouts. Yaoyorozu glances over at him, crossing her arms in front of her chest.

“From a battle standpoint, it would’ve made sense. There’s no denying that.” Her words are firm, and they seem to sap some of the energy from the room.

“Yeah, but….” Kirishima fades off, eyeing Toshinori carefully.

Toshinori suppresses a sigh, forcing through his smile. “In battle, you have to use every card you’re dealt to your own advantage. Anything you can take advantage of, you should.”

It feels….odd, telling his students to exploit the disability of another student. But in reality, that’s how it works, and that’s how it will always work with any villain fight. Midoriya, he can tell, is well aware of that fact--considering it looked as if he was prepared for it, that he was caught off guard when Bakugou didn’t go for his right side.

They watch as Bakugou rebounds quickly, one again on his feet and glaring.

“You damn Deku! You think you learn a few fancy moves and you’re hot shit, huh?”

“Uraraka, what’s your status?” Midoriya asks, which only causes Bakugou to seeth further.

“Iida is too fast, I won’t be able to outrun him to get the weapon, and there’s nothing for me to use to fight against him!”

“Stop ignoring me, Deku!” Bakugou shouts, lunging forward. Again he attacks at the left, and this time Midoriya is prepared. As he sidesteps the attack, he reaches out with he tape, wrapping and looping it around Bakugou’s wrist, just above the explosion. As Bakugou is pulled forward by his own momentum, Midoriya slides his hand down the tape, pulling it forward towards the other wrist--

It looks….like a practice move. Well executed, with minimal fumbling at the tape.

Toshinori hasn’t seen Aizawa fight much, but even he can tell where this execution is coming from.

However, it’s not enough. Before Midoriya can properly bind him, Bakugou lets out an explosion from the hand Midoriya is reaching for, sending the boy flying.

He lands with a rather harsh thump! against the opposite wall, tape in hand.

“Same old Quirkless Deku, huh? You think you can beat me, without your quirk?”

Ignoring the words, Midoriya stands, rushing in again, this time going for a frontal attack. Bakugou’s scowl only grows, hands smoking.

“You goddamn Deku! Use your quirk on me, you coward! Use it!

This time, Midoriya does seem to react to the words, if only slightly. A momentary stumble, but it’s enough of an opening for Bakugou to land a clean punch in the center of the boy’s stomach, sending him flying once more.

“Aw man, that’s gotta hurt,” Ashido mutters beside Toshinori. He agrees--Midoriya is crumpled on the ground, clutching his stomach. Toshinori has to actively steel himself from flinching at the sight. But again, Midoriya picks himself up quickly, this time discarding the capture tape completely. Bakugou grins madly.

“Uraraka, grab at the pillar by the window, and be prepared!” Midoriya shouts. There’s a reply of Prepared for what?! but Midoriya doesn’t have time to respond. His body begins to sing with energy, green lightning dancing across his body. The two students race towards one another, Midoriya letting out a roundhouse kick which Bakugou evades, at the same time throwing a blast backwards that knicks Midoriya’s shoulder.

They both skid to a stop, facing each other again. It’s then, that Bakugou reaches for his gauntlet.

“These things aren’t just for show, you know,” Bakugou smirks, finger toying at what appears to be a grenade pin. “They’ve been storing up my sweat inside them. If you really know all about my quirk, Deku, then I’m sure you know what this means.”

It’s….very smart, Toshinori can tell. He’s reviewed all of his students quirks as they’ve been registered--he knows that Bakugou secretes nitroglycerin in his sweat, and creates explosions with it from his hands. To have a significant amount stored up….

He should call the match. It’s going to be far too dangerous, having an explosion of that caliber go off. His hand quivers where it’s gripped tight over the microphone. This isn’t right, he can’t allow for any of his students to get badly injured for a mock exercise, it doesn’t matter that it’s….

Toshinori glances over the monitors, eyes landing on the one that gives him the best view of Midoriya’s face. He expects him to be a bit apprehensive, if anything, about the revelation. But the boy looks far from nervous, instead he’s….smiling?

He really, really shouldn't let this play out. But for Midoriya to look so confident….

Toshinori says nothing. Instead, he watches as Midoriya gathers himself, quirk activating once more.

“Uraraka, get ready!” he shouts, launching himself into the air. It’s obvious that Bakugou doesn’t hear him, or at least willfully ignores him. Following Midoriya’s trajectory he pulls the pin, launching his explosion just as Midoriya plants his legs atop the ceiling--

The explosion rings, and Midoriya dodges, calling upon One for All as he bounds off the ceiling just before the blast makes impact. Well, he mostly dodges--he must’ve miscalculated the size of the blast (Toshinori knows he sure as hell did) and it ends up nicking his arm. Midoriya cries out, but manages to land on the other side of the hallway, rolling with the momentum.

It takes Toshinori a split second to see what exactly has happened. His eyes pan up the screen, and he sees now that the blast shot straight through to the floor above--

Straight through to the weapon room, creating a hole in the floor and a large amount of rubble.

Perfect makeshift weapons, if you’re able to lift a pillar of concrete. And that’s exactly what Uraraka does. She uses the pillar to launch an onslaught of loose debris at Iida, who has no choice but focus on dodging and protecting himself. She leaps into the air, then releasing her quirk she latches onto the weapon, securing their victory.

Toshinori pauses for half a moment, blinking, before his smile grows impossibly larger.

“The hero team….wins!

--------

“Deku! That was amazing!”

Uraraka runs up to him outside of the now semi-demolished building, grinning wide and bouncing on the balls of her feet. He grins at her.

“I--it was nothing, really! I mean it was uh, it was Bakugou’s blast that allowed you to steal the weapon.”

“Yeah, but it was your plan, wasn’t it?” she asks, and Midoriya nods, lips quirking upwards.

“Yeah….yeah it was, I mean I was lucky it worked out as well as it did, and I’m sure there were things I could’ve planned out better. It was risky, aiming what I knew was going to be such a huge explosion at the ceiling without knowing the exact structural integrity of the building, we very easily could’ve been--”

“Deku!”

Izuku blinks and looks over to Uraraka who’s laughing, but it’s not unkind. If anything, she’s still beaming at him. Izuku grins a bit sheepishly.

“Ah, sorry, I got carried away didn’t I?”

“It’s okay! But, I mean, I think you can relax. It’s just our first real exercise, right?”

Izuku nods. “I--yeah, you’re right. Just our first one. Still lots of room for improvement!”

“And besides, we still won!” she calls out gleefully, and Izuku can’t help but laugh in return. They did win. And they beat…

Izuku can’t help but look up at Kacchan, who’s stalking ahead of them as they walk back towards the main campus building, back to the viewing room. Iida is trying to talk to him, he can tell, but it’s clear that Kacchan is completely ignoring him.

“Wait, Deku!” Uraraka says, and Izuku stops suddenly, turning towards her. Her face is twisted into a frown, and she’s staring at his arm. “I didn’t realize Bakugou got you, shouldn’t you go to Recovery Girl?”

“I--no, it’s not that bad, I’m fine!” If anything, his back is worse off than his arm is, from getting slammed into the wall. But it’s not that bad, really.

He’s had worse.

“Nope, no way, I’ll take you to Recovery Girl myself!” She grabs at his hand but her grip is light, gentle. Izuku holds back a grin, resigning himself to his fate as Uraraka tugs him--albeit gingerly--off towards the infirmary.

--------

“Kacchan! Wait up!”

Stopping dead in his stride, Kacchan turns around, scowling as he faces Izuku. It gives him pause, only for a moment, and then he smiles.

“Auntie said we have to walk home together, remember?”

“Mom is an idiot,” Kacchan sneers, but doesn’t say anything more when Izuku falls in step beside him, so Izuku ignores his comment. Kacchan is talking with two of his friends, the three of them blatantly ignoring Izuku, but that’s fine. He listens, and smiles, and walks alongside them.

They’re talking about their quirks, which is typical. It pangs Izuku still, makes his chest ache, but he’s become good at ignoring it. He has to be.

Kacchan is talking about how large his explosions are getting, his friends fawning over him, telling him how cool his quirk is, how awesome he is. Izuku can’t help but agree--Kacchan’s quirk is awesome. He knows he’ll make a great hero with it.

They cut through the local park, on their walk home. Izuku’s mom has to stay late at work sometimes, so when she does Izuku goes to Kacchan’s house. Kacchan doesn’t want to play with him, not really. But that’s fine, Izuku is happy just to work on his homework and write in his notebooks.

Still talking about quirks, Izuku frowns, as his chest starts to feel funny. For a second he worries that he might throw up, but he quickly realizes that the feeling isn’t like that. He doesn’t feel sick, he just feels…weird. Different, somehow.

Izuku slows down, falling behind the trio, the feeling begins to grow and spread inside him. He frowns, trying to stave off the panic threatening him, rising like bile in his throat. It...it doesn’t hurt--it just feels foreign. Odd. Like--like a tingling feeling shooting through his veins.

“Oi, Deku! Hurry up!”

Izuku blinks, and looks up. The three of them have stopped walking, turning back towards him--when did they get so much further ahead of him? Kacchan’s two friends are smirking at him, one of them rolling their eyes, and Kacchan just looks irritated.

He gulps, running to catch up. “Sorry, Kacchan, I--”

“Dude, what is that?”

Nearly caught up, Izuku stops abruptly at the boy’s words. It’s one of Kacchan’s friends--Tsubasa--who spoke, and is now staring at him, jaw slack. Izuku cocks his head at him.

“What is what?”

“You’re like, glowing and shit!” the other friend speaks up. Eyebrows wrinkled, Izuku looks down at himself, and--

He is glowing.

It’s like...lightning, crawling up and down his skin--strange, green lightning. It must’ve been what he was feeling before, the odd feeling in his chest. Now that he sees it, he can place the feeling, and it nearly overwhelms him. He feels…power, coursing through himself. It’s unlike anything he’s ever felt.

Completely dumbstruck, he lifts his arms, watching as the lightning sings across his skin. It--it feels incredible--is this how everyone feels with their quirk?

….Is this truly his quirk? Could it even be possible?

The evidence is blatant in front of him, but Izuku still has a hard time processing it. He’d spent so long coming down from his own misery, from when he found out he didn’t have a quirk--it took him so long to accept that, and to move on, determined to become a hero regardless. But now…

“What the fuck? I thought you were quirkless, Deku. Did you think it was funny, lying to me?”

Pulled from his thoughts, Izuku looks away from his own body and back at Kacchan--Kacchan, who’s scowling as he always does--but there’s something lingering in his expression that Izuku can’t quite place.

“N-no I swear! I really don’t--I didn’t think I had a quirk! My doctor said I didn’t, I don’t--I’m not sure--”

“So, this isn’t your quirk?” Tsubasa asks, raising an eyebrow.

“Of course it’s his quirk, you damn idiot, what else would it be?!” Kacchan exclaims. “Must just be late, damn nerd, just as weak as always!”

I certainly don’t feel weak right nowIzuku doesn’t say. Instead he just nods along. “Y-yeah! I guess so!”

A beat passes, and Kacchan’s frown deepens. “Well, what are you doing? Turn it off!”

Izuku frowns himself. He can feel the pulsing, within his body. He tries to reach out, somehow, some way, to turn it off, but he can’t seem to manage. He bites down on his lip in frustration.

“I can’t--I can’t turn it off.”

Izuku thinks Kacchan might laugh at him, but he doesn’t. He’s still scowling, but his expression is otherwise unreadable.

“Then use it!”

Izuku frowns at him. “....Use it?”

Kacchan rolls his eyes, now glaring at him. “Yeah, dumbass! You have to do something with it!”

Izuku looks down at his glowing arms, at the green crackling across his skin. His own frown deepens. “I’m….I’m not sure how. I don’t know what it does!”

“How does it feel?”

Kacchan is still glaring at him, like he usually does, but there’s something different about it, like there’s less heat to the stare. Izuku frowns, looking down at his own glowing limbs.

“I...I don’t know. It feels like...power? Maybe? It just feels like I have a lot more strength then before.”

Kacchan frowns, before turning his back to him in a huff. “Tch. Well, no matter what there’s no way you’re more powerful than me!”

He then begins to walk off, the two of his friends following in suit. Izuku watches dumbly for a moment before Kacchan calls out, “Are you coming or not?”

Izuku scrambles, wary of his quirk and his own movements. They’re not walking towards the street, towards home--instead they’re going deeper into the park, into the wooded area.

“We should stay on the trail, Kacchan,” Izuku mutters, but Kacchan only laughs. If he’s being honest, Izuku can’t really focus on where they’re going, not really, because the feeling of strength inside him is beginning to grow. He can feel it, like energy welling up inside of him, almost like it’s craving some sort of release.

“Kacchan, I think we should call--” but the other boy cuts him off with an explosion before he can finish. It’s aimed at a tree, which creates a large, singing hole in the center of the trunk. Kacchan’s friends make noises of appreciation, and Kacchan smirks in return.

“Now, you try it, Deku.”

Izuku blinks, at the burnt tree then at Kacchan. “I--what?”

He rolls his eyes, pointing towards another tree. This area of the park is rather dense with them--he can barely make out the play area over by where they came. He then eyes the tree Kacchan is pointing at--it’s thick, like the one Kacchan burnt, the trunk wider than he is.

“You said your quirk is super-strength, right? So punch the tree! See if you can even make a dent in it like I did!”

Izuku swallows roughly. “I--I didn’t say that’s what it was, I just said that’s what it feels like, I--”

“Well, you have to figure it out at some point, so you have to try something!”

Izuku….well Izuku can’t help but think that Kacchan is right. If this is his quirk, he has to figure out what it does, right? And he does feel strong, certainly. Almost---almost too strong, if that’s possible. It’s starting to feel all-consuming, like it’s eating at him, like he just has to release it, he has to--

--Use it.

“Hurry up, Deku! Just punch the tree! Use your quirk!”

He doesn’t--he doesn’t know if this is the best way. He should really talk to Mom, he thinks, but Kacchan is staring him down, edging him on, and well, it’s not like he can figure out how to turn if off anyways, right?

Plus….Izuku can’t very well deny the bubble of excitement that’s been lingering in his stomach since he first felt the power manifest, persistent despite his nervousness and apprehension. Because to have what seems to be his own quirk? After what felt like so long of accepting that he would never get one?

Well….

He might as well try using it.

Izuku wells up a fist, pulling his arm back--as soon as he does, he feels that overwhelming energy coursing through him, coursing into his arm. As it swings forwards, he can’t help but awe at the amount of power that he feels, now that the energy is focused, at how much it--

Then his fist makes contact.

And the world goes white.

There’s a lot of noise, is the first thought he manages over the pain pain pain pain that’s fogging his mind. A lot of noise--screaming? He tries to figure out the source and soon realizes it’s him, he’s screaming, piercing, agonizing screams. He tries to stop but he can’t contain it, because he can’t contain the pain pain pain pain in his arm.

There’s more noise, he realizes, words he can’t make out. He tries blinking through the tears and makes out Kacchan’s face--at least he thinks it’s Kacchan’s face, it has to be--but he’s never seen fear in his eyes before.

“Ka-kacchan?” he tries desperately. It’s then he realizes he’s looking up at Kacchan--when did he fall to the ground?

Kacchan doesn’t say anything, just stares down at him. He tries and fails to grasp for words, for anything other than the agony in his right side. New voices, he hears, none of them that he recognizes.

“Oh my God, what happened?! Are you--?”

“Ishido, call 119, he needs--”

“Were there any heroes in the area? Someone should notify--”

He loses track, after that. He feels himself fading, slipping, and he struggles to remain conscious. After an indeterminate amount of time he’s being lifted, he realizes, and placed onto something soft.

It’s as he’s being carried away, that he gets a look at the tree.

His vision is blurry and off-focus, but even he can tell that the tree is completely destroyed--the top half of the trunk having fallen over, into the other trees. There’s still some splintering wood, connecting the trunk to the stump, but the damage done is evident.

And he--he did that. Izuku. Izuku did that.

With….his quirk?

“Kacchan--? Is Kacchan here?” he calls out to one the people above him. They’re lifting him again, white walls above him. No one answers him, the voices only talking with each other.

It’s as he’s fading into unconsciousness, the pain too overwhelming to bear, that he can’t help but wonder if Kacchan is alright.

Chapter Text

“All Might told me that you did well, earlier this week.”

Midoriya pauses, fist dropping from his stance as he looks up at Shouta. It’s Saturday and he and Midoriya are in the basement, starting out their training session with some simple practiced moves. Instead of a dummy, Shouta himself is using pads to block the punches and kicks.

“He did?” he asks, throwing another punch. He’s trying to sound casual about it, Shouta can tell, but the excitement is still evident in his tone.

“Yes, he said he appreciated the ingenuity of your plan.” While All Might did say that, what he was really most impressed with was the control Midoriya exhibited over One for All. But that’s not something Shouta can share without specifying why All Might was impressed, or why he’s interested in his quirk at all.

But, well. At least this is something he can tell him.

“I--well, that’s really nice of him to say but it was luck, mostly, since it was Kacchan who let out the blast.”

Two kicks in rapid succession, and Shouta adjusts his grip on the pads. “Yeah. That’s what I told him.”

Midoriya eyes him again, looking vaguely guilty. “I, uh, did you watch the footage?”

Shouta raises a brow. “Of course. I watched the footage for everyone.”

“I--right, that makes sense,” Midoriya says, frowning at his own fist. “So, did you think it was too reckless?”

”Well, yes,” Shouta concedes. Because yeah, it had been a rather careless move--he’d clearly taken advantage of the fact that it was a mock simulation, with no real weapon. “But, it was smart using your opponents blast against them, and your fighting was certainly skilled. So, not a total loss.”

A small smile flits across Midoriya’s face, before it straightens in concentration, throwing another punch.

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

Shouta hums in response, and lets the pat pat pat of Midoriya hitting the pads fill the room. It’s not until they’re nearing the end of the set that Shouta submits to the mental battle within his head and decides to ask, “So who’s Kacchan?”

As expected, Midoriya falters, punch landing much softer than it normally would’ve. He looks up again, blinking.

“Kacchan?”

Shouta nods. “I was provided audio, for the video feed. Also, you did say his name just now.”

This time Midoriya frowns, landing another kick and very much not looking towards Shouta’s eyes. “Well you know who he is then, don’t you?”

The remark is biting, and yeah, Shouta didn’t really mean to hit a nerve but he was prepared for it. And while the kid gets snappy with him sometimes, sure, this seems….different.

“We don’t have to talk about it. But some of the things he said to you were concerning, from my position as your teacher.”

At that, Midoriya winces, and Shouta really does feel bad. But what Bakugou was saying to Midoriya really wasn’t acceptable, not at all. He’d honestly thought All Might had been exaggerating when he’d first told Shouta about it, due to his obvious bias.

Surprisingly, he really wasn’t.

“Bakugou is just really good at playing the villain, that’s all.”

Yeah, right. Sure.

Stifling a sigh, Shouta removes the pads from his own hands, Midoriya’s eyes following them as they drop to the floor. “You know if there’s anything--”

“There’s not.”

His words are firm, but he still won’t look up. A moment passes, before Midoriya huffs out a sigh. “We were friends when I was younger….I haven’t--I haven’t seen him in awhile. But he’s….it’s nothing, really.”

Shouta nods, mulling over the words. Vague, as expected. And while he had figured it be something like that, for Midoriya to have a nickname for the other student….it’s still slightly shocking, considering he’d never mentioned Bakugou in all the time he’s known him.

But then again, he’s never mentioned any friends. Past nor present.

He might be overstepping, but he really doesn’t feel like he is. He knows how kids will talk to each other, but Bakugou’s words and actions were very….clear.

Still, though. With that kiddy nickname that Midoriya has for him (and still has for him, apparently), Shouta can’t help but wonder what would lead to such a seemingly hostile relationship.

“Okay,” Shouta says, unsure of what else to say but feeling like he should say something. “As your teacher, I had to ask.”

Midoriya nods, seemingly understanding. “Yeah that’s….that’s just Kacchan, it’s nothing,” he says with a fake chuckle.

Shouta doesn’t really want to drop the conversation, because it’s obviously not nothing, but he’s not going to force the kid to hand over information when he’s clearly already uncomfortable. So he hums, kicks the punching pads to the side from where they lay in front of his feet, and folds his arms in front of his chest. “Want to spar?”

Immediately Midoriya’s face brightens, meeting Shouta with a grin. There’s still something a bit dark lingering in his eyes, but the overall shift in demeanor--it’s enough. “If you think you can take me.”

Shouta rolls his eyes. “Brat.”

So they spar as they usually do--no quirks, no capture weapon. Shouta pauses them every now and then to comment on something Midoriya can improve on, or to acknowledge something he executed particularly well. Despite the fact that he’s obviously not fighting at full capacity as to not wipe the floor with the kid, Midoriya still puts him through a solid workout. He’s quick even without his quirk--quick because he has to be. Fighting two arms with only one will always put him at a disadvantage.

But this kid is a fighter. He’s shown Shouta this time and time again.

He blocks Shouta’s punches with practiced precision--the punches are pulled, but that’s not what they’re focusing on. They’re focusing on the movements, the wiping motions his arm makes as he blocks and blocks--blocks until he has the opening, which is normally a side kick to Shouta’s thigh.

This one happens to be to his knee--a bit dirty, but then again, that’s what Shouta taught him. There’s enough force behind it that it knocks Shouta off of his feet. He rolls with it, but Midoriya is quick enough, easily taking advantage and looming over him in a would-be blow to the neck, had his fist not stopped inches before.

Shouta can’t help but smile. “Very good, kid. Not bad at all.”

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa,” Midoriya says with a grin. He then unclasps his fist, holding his hand out for Shouta. It’s unnecessary but Shouta still grasps it, letting the kid help him up onto his feet. “It was a bit of a cheap shot, though.”

Shouta shrugs, walking back towards Midoriya’s backpack to grab his water. He hands it to the kid. “As I’ve said before. Villains aren’t going to fight fair. There’s no reason you shouldn’t take advantage of what you can.” A brief pause, as Midoriya catches his breath in between sips of water. Shouta probably should just let it be, but, well. “You would’ve made a good class rep, knowing that.”

Shouta isn’t playing favorites, he’s not--he knows that Iida is more than capable for the position, and honestly is likely the best candidate. But Midoriya still would’ve taken to the position well. Though, he can’t say he was all that shocked when Midoriya resigned--he tried to stay confident, when they picked him, but Shouta knows the kid, and he could tell how nervous he was.

It would’ve been good for him, too, considering how often he doubts his own abilities. Well, doubting himself isn’t necessarily the word. He’s confident when he fights, he knows his stuff, he just doesn’t think he’s good enough. Having his confidence boosted by taking on a position of authority probably would’ve been helpful, but it’s just as well.

Midoriya wipes his chin, raising a brow at him. “I thought you didn’t care who was picked?”

Shouta shrugs. “It’s not a matter that was up to my determination. Had I had any direct input, you all wouldn’t have completely trusted the decision. But the class voted for you, and you delegated Iida.”

He is a bit shocked that everyone didn’t vote for themselves--well, not everyone, he already knew Midoriya wasn’t going to--but still. He'd like to think that the class has their faith in Midoriya--and considering the events that transpired with the break-in that day, he feels confident that overall the class had their faith in Iida.

Midoriya nods. “I--yeah, that makes sense.”

He then walks over towards his bag, shoving the bottle into it and checking his phone. “Shoot,” he mutters, hurriedly typing what Shouta can only assume is a text, then shoves the phone into his pocket. “Mr Aizawa, is it alright if I head out?”

Shouta snorts. “You’re the one who insisted we still meet up today. Does your mom need you back home?”

“No, I--I actually have plans? With people from class.”

Shouta’s eyes nearly widen in shock, but he keeps his face neutral. Because in the four years that they’ve been training, not once has Midoriya asked to leave for plans, save Ms Midoriya needing him home for something, which was still rare. A few times he’s cancelled because he was sick, a few times he’s rescheduled because he had school projects to take care of. But despite Shouta’s initial offer those few years ago, he’s never actually rescheduled to hang out with a friend.

And Shouta….

“Sooo, has he started calling you Dad, yet?”

Shouta glares at Hizashi, who’s smiling all-teeth at him. Hizashi had come down to the basement at the tail-end of a training session, Midoriya now having just left. The entrance exam is only half a year away now, and Shouta is truly pleased with the control Midoriya has over his quirk. It’s not perfect--there’s still so much to work on, but it’s going well. They’re making improvement.

“I just told him to get home safe, that’s all.” Hizashi attempts to wrap an arm around his shoulder, and Shouta dodges out of the embrace. Hizashi pouts for a moment, but it’s short lived.

“I’m surprised you didn’t walk him home!”

“It’s not even dark out, the kid is fourteen, he’s more than capable of--” Shouta cuts himself off, whipping around and chucking an empty water bottle at Hizashi’s head. He catches it easily, but it does pause his husband’s laughter, if only for a moment.

“So, do you ruffle all of your student’s hair, at the end of a lesson?”

Shouta freezes where he’s bent over picking up a few used sweat towels. Slowly, he turns his head and sees Hizashi trying and failing to contain a bout of hysterics. “I didn’t--” he starts, then stops. “I wouldn’t have--”

Oh, he did, didn’t he?

“It’s okay, Big Cat, you can admit that you care!”

“Of course I care, I care about the wellbeing off all my students, I--” Hizashi is laughing fully now, not even trying to control himself. “Oh, shove it,” he mutters, throwing the towels towards his face. This time he doesn’t dodge, leaving Hizashi a sputtering mess as Shouta climbs back up the staircase.

“You better get going, then, you shouldn’t keep them waiting,” Shouta says, forcing the stiffness out of his voice. Midoriya blinks once at him, then breaks out into a broad grin.

“Thanks, Mr Aizawa!”

Hurriedly, he begins biting at his hand wrappings so as to unravel the material. Rolling his eyes, Shouta kneels down in front of him and begins to unwind the wrappings himself. Midoriya’s smile turns sheepish.

“Thank you.”

Shouta hums. “You didn’t have to come at all, you know. We’ve been doing plenty at school, it would’ve been fine to cancel.”

“No, I wanted to come.” Well, Shouta certainly doesn’t doubt that. But still. He says nothing, though, just lets Midoriya finish. “We didn’t plan on meeting ‘till the afternoon, anyways. I just lost track of time, that’s all.”

Shouta nods as he finishes taking off the wrappings, moving to discard them. When he turns back he expects to see the boy with his bag slung on and rushing to head out, but instead he’s standing in the same place, unmoved.

“It is okay that we keep training outside of school, right?”

Shouta cocks his head at the kid. “Is there any reason that it wouldn’t be?”

“Well I mean, you are my teacher now, so it’s not unfair, right? Isn’t it essentially private lessons?”

Of course this kid would worry about Shouta continuing to train him being unfair. “It’s nothing that U.A. doesn’t allow. If any of my other students came to me requesting additional help, I would provide it for them. So far, you’re the only one who’s asked.”

Not that he asked, not really. But that’s not what’s important.

But, it seems to be enough of an answer for Midoriya, as he nods in agreement. “Right, yeah, of course. I just wanted to make sure.”

Shouta nods in return. “Now, get out of here, go meet up with your friends. It’s rude to be late.”

The kid blinks, faltering slightly as if in shock. It only lasts half a moment though, before he’s smiling as bright as ever, grabbing his bag and running up the stairs.

“Right--thank you!”

--------

“Hey, sorry I’m late!”

Adjusting his messenger bag, Izuku nearly sprints from the train platform to where Iida and Uraraka are waiting by the street. At the sound of his voice they turn to him, both smiling and waving.

“Don’t worry about it!” Uraraka says brightly, and Iida nods. “It’s barely past one, Iida and I just got here early.”

Izuku nods himself, resisting the urge to scratch the back of his neck. He’s just--he’s never been asked by his classmates to hang out outside of school. Hell, most of his classmates wouldn’t even look at him in class. And that--was fine, it’s fine. He’s just….

Not used to this.

“The restaurant is just a couple blocks down, near the center of town,” Iida states, as they cross the street at the light. A new yakitori place had just opened up, and Uraraka and Iida had both asked if he’d like to join them for lunch over the weekend. If he thought worse of them he might’ve figured they were joking, but they both truly seemed to have no ill intention. Save Iida being stern with him during the entrance exam--and that was deserved, really--they’ve both been nothing but nice to him throughout the first week of school.

So had the entire class, really. On top of them picking him for class rep? It was shocking, to say the least.

It still almost doesn’t feel real, the three of them walking together, to get lunch. He supposes this should be normal, that this shouldn’t feel so out of place, to be fifteen and getting lunch with--

--with friends.

“I should’ve brought a change of clothes,” Izuku mutters, more to himself than anything, but Uraraka still glances at him quizzically.

“Were you out doing something? We could’ve gone later, or--”

“No! No,” Izuku cuts her off abruptly, but hopefully not too rudely. “No I was just--I was out training, but we were done anyways, I just didn’t think to bring along other clothes.”

“It’s great, that you were training on a Saturday. Do you have a personal instructor?” Iida asks. Izuku glances over at him, the three of them now stopped at an intersection waiting for the walk signal.

“Ah, no. Well I mean kind of. I--” Izuku fumbles for his words, unsure of how to proceed. Mr Aizawa had said that nothing they were doing is against the rules, after all. But would they think it’s unfair that their homeroom teacher has been training him privately for the past four years? While it’s nothing that’s not allowed, perhaps it’s not something that Izuku should willingly broadcast.

And while he feels terrible lying in the sense of omitting the truth….well, it’s not like he could exactly explain why Mr Aizawa has been training him. Not without sharing a few things he really doesn’t want to share.

“Yeah, I do. Not for quirk training through, for hand-to-hand combat.”

“Oh, that’s so cool! You’ll have to show me some moves sometime!” Uraraka nearly shouts, genuine excitement evident in her voice.

“I, yeah, I mean I’d love to! I’m--I’m just not sure how well it would translate.”

He regrets the words immediately, as Uraraka’s grin begins to falter off. He hates--he hates bringing it up like this, but it’s the truth. Everything Mr Aizawa has taught him has been specifically tailored to fighting one-armed. He’s sure that any punches he would be able to teach her would be insufficient at best.

Iida, however, shakes his head at the statement. “Nonsense. A skill is a skill. It was impressive how you took down Bakugou in class the other day, with that throw. And you’ve shown some exemperely kicks as well. I’d love it if we could train together sometime.”

Izuku hopes his face isn’t as red as it feels. “I--of course, I’m sure I could definitely try.”

They walk in silence for the rest of the way, but it’s not awkward one. Iida is clearly content, and Uraraka is smiling again. Izuku can’t help but find himself smiling as well.

--------

From: Yagi Toshinori
Sorry. Going to be late for training. Out of time.

Shouta frowns down at the message that’s glaring up at him. It’s barely nine in the morning, and All Might has already reached his limit? While he can’t exactly scold the man for saving lives, All Might still has a responsibility to his students. He could at least try to be more diligent.

Not to mention, Musutafu has clearly already become too complicit in the Number One Hero taking up residence in the city. Shouta himself hasn’t been alerted to any major incidents nearby--ones that would require any off-duty pros to report--so there’s no reason that other heroes couldn’t have picked up some of the slack this morning.

Well. There’s nothing that can be done about it now. Iida seemed to have finished ensuring everyone’s made it onto the bus in a somewhat orderly fashion. Shoving his phone back into his jumpsuit, Shouta clambors onto the bus as well.

He was hoping to catch up on a small bit of rest during the ride, but his students are….loud. Chatty and excited, he supposes it can’t be helped. He remembers his first school trip after being transferred into 1-A from Gen Ed, and how genuinely excited he’d been for it. Excited, but fully prepared to make the most of the experience. He hopes his students are prepared to do the same.

He’s shooting off a quick text to Thirteen as to make sure that they’re also informed about All Might’s now non-attendance, or at the very least his late attendance, when something Asui says catches his ear.

“Hey Midoriya, isn’t your quirk kinda similar to All Might’s?”

Shouta’s fingers freeze over the phone mid-sentence. He had figured someone making a connection would be unavoidable, but for a student to be so blunt about it, and right to Midoriya’s face is….a bit concerning.

Midoriya, however, seems to laugh the comment off. “I mean I guess in theory it could be considered similar, but All Might is just so strong! I wouldn’t say they’re all that similar.”

“Yeah, but it is an augmentation quirk--that’s basically what his is, isn’t it?” Kirishima interjects. The public, of course, truly has no idea what All Might’s quirk is, but the best guess has always been strength augmentation.

“But All Might doesn’t have to use his quirk in intervals. I’ve seen videos where he’s fighting for hours on end!” Kaminari adds.

Hm. Well, it’s only natural that they’d pick up on that. It can’t be helped, and it’s not as if nearly every quirk has some sort of drawback when pushed past it’s limit. Midoriya’s is….just a little more extreme than most.

“Kaminari’s right. Honestly, the only thing similar is the category of quirks.”

Well, at least the kid doesn’t exactly suspect anything.

They go back and forth a bit more, now commenting on Todoroki and Bakugou’s quirks. And they’re not wrong--the both of them are extremely powerful students. Following their quips, Bakugou erupts in a perfect display of his personality that they were just commenting on.

Shouta can’t help but spare a glance backwards, to where Bakugou is currently screaming at Kaminari, the rest of them laughing it off. Well, most of them--Yaoyorozu looks a bit dejected at their display in behaviour, and Midoriya--

Midoriya is looking anywhere but Bakugou, expression completely passive.

If only the kid would open up to him, he could--

The bus lurches a bit, turning a corner as it slows to a stop. He tells his students to quiet down and stop messing around, now that they’ve arrived.

Thirteen is waiting for them as they disembark the bus, and they lead everyone into the USJ. The students let out varied exclamations of shock and awe as they take in the sheer magnitude of the facility, and all the different training grounds it has to offer. Shouta can’t really blame them--it was impressive to him the first time he saw it, too.

As they talk amongst themselves for a moment, he steps forwards to greet Thirteen.

“You said All Might can’t make it today?” they ask. Shouta sighs.

“It seemed he was a bit overzealous this morning. We’ll have to make due with just the both of us,” he replies flatly, holding up three fingers. They nod in understanding.

Thirteen then goes on to explain the facility and it’s purposes--the students have already been briefed on how this will be to practice rescue missions and tactics, but Shouta hadn’t told them about the specific disaster zones they’d be working with. He figured that was better left for Thirteen to do.

It’s once they’re about to get started with the exercises, that the lights go out.

Shouta’s own reaction is immediate--because the lights don’t just turn off, they crackle out in a hiss of electricity. As they do, he hears the sputtering of the central fountain, barely catching the sound over his own students’ gasps of shock.

And that--that just isn’t right.

Not at all.

He turns immediately and swiftly, and Shouta--he feels his own blood run cold, freezing up in his veins.

It’s then that he sees it--an inky black portal of sorts, having opened up right in the center square of the facility.

“Everyone, stay back and don’t move!” he shouts, voice seemingly working on it’s own accord. He feels instinct overcoming him, fight or flight activating.

But these are villains--a seemingly endless stream of them, walking out of the black abyss.

And he knows it’s going to be a fight.

“This is real. Those are villains.” And oh, it absolutely pains him having to say those words to these barely first-years.

There’s protests of doubt from a couple of the kids--kids, they’re only kids, dammit!--but there’s no doubt in Shouta’s mind. This is an ambush.

Why? He doesn’t know. But it doesn’t matter, that’s not what’s important right now.

“Thirteen, protect the students,” he grits out, fitting his goggles over his eyes. Why aren’t the alarms going off? They certainly should be….unless someone is jamming them with a quirk, which is entirely possible, considering they cut the power.

He orders Kaminari to try and signal for backup, but he already knows it’s in vain. It’s clear how this is going to go down.

The only question is, will he be enough?

But--no, he can’t ask himself that. It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of must. He has to be enough. It’s that simple.

“Get them out of here,” he says to Thirteen, capture weapon flaring at the ready.

“What are you going to do? You can’t take them all on at once!”

Dammit. Dammit.

“They’re attacking in a large group, and it’s likely that many of them are heteromorphic types,” Midoriya continues, tone high and frantic. “It’s too risky, taking them all on at once by yourself! You won’t be able to--”

Izuku.”

He stops talking.

He can’t risk looking back, but he can only guess that the expression the kid is wearing is one of indignancy. But--it doesn’t matter.

“It’s never going to be a fair fight for you. The odds are always going to be against you. They’re going to see your arm, and try to exploit it as a weakness.”

The words feel metallic on his tongue, almost cruel--but the kid has to know this. Before he can learn how to throw a punch, he has to understand this.

Judging by the look on the kid’s face, he can see that the eleven year old already has an idea of how true this is.

Still, he shuffles his feet slightly, glancing up at Shouta. “But you said I can still be a hero, even with my--with my disability. Right?”

“Sure. With the right amount of hard work and determination, I do think it’s possible.” And Shouta’s worried about that--he can already tell that Midoriya has determination in spaces. It’s confidence that he’s lacking.

“So, I have to work around it, right? Around my arm?”

Shouta stifles a sigh, trying to place his words as carefully as he can. “It’s not the same as a physical disability, so I won’t equate it to one. But my quirk does have it’s own drawbacks--points that villains try to exploit. For example, my quirk does nothing against heteromorphic type quirks. A natural point of weakness.”

His eyes widen, but he says nothing. Shouta figures he already worked that out on his own, damn kid.

“But you have your caption weapon for that, right? To work around it?”

Shouta shakes his head. “It’s not about working around it, it’s about working with it. You have to acknowledge your weak points--if you can work to change it, then you do that. If it’s something unchangeable, then you face it head on. You can’t be a hero if you’re going to simply avoid any natural shortcomings. Excel with them, instead.”

A pause, before Midoriya nods, once.

Shouta grits his teeth. “Stay back with the others,” is all he says before he launches himself into action.

Midoriya wasn’t wrong--once he approaches, a simple visual survey reveals that a decent chunk of them do have heteromorphic-type quirks. He gets lucky, with the first few being emitters--he takes them out easily enough, weapon binding around each of them, and a tug on it sends them careening into one another.

That’s three down--four, when he lands a solid punch after one comes charging at him. The four armed villain goes flying, then whipped down into the ground by way of his weapon.

But there’s so many more--too many to count. And there’s no point in wasting his time doing so, the number of them here is irrelevant. His objective is still the same--protect the students.

He can only hope that Thirteen is able to get them out of the building, and quickly, though it seems that isn’t going to be very likely. He blinks in the haste of battle, and the warping villain vanishes from his sight.

Fuck. That was the one who brought all the villains into the USJ in the first place, he clearly appears to be one of the more dangerous ones, he shouldn't have--

An attack on his right side. He dodges, blocks, punches, kicks. His weapon is jutting out with the movements of his hand, binding and slamming in rapid succession. He needs to know what’s going on with the warping one, but he can’t afford to let himself be distracted.

He needs to trust Thirteen--and he needs to trust his students as well.

In the midst of a roundhouse kick, he notices it--one of those same portals, opening mere meters away from where he’s standing.

It’s only through the severity of his own training that he doesn’t physically revolt at the sight of Midoriya being deposited and dropped from the portal. The kid manages to roll with it, making as graceful a landing as he can manage.

The villains notice immediately too--Midoriya, still recovering from his shock, doesn’t see one of them charging in from behind. Another one of those damn gun-type quirks--it’s times like these that he’s extremely thankful Gunhead and Snipe are heroes, not villains.

Under his own glare, the villain growls as the bullets in her elbows stall. She screams, as his bindings coil around her arms, flinging her off to the side.

As soon as she’s out of the way, another one follows in her path. This time however, the kid is prepared--quirk activated, he lands a hard kick square in the villain’s ribs. It sends the man flying into another one of the charging villains, both of them fumbling wildly across the ground, seemingly out for the count.

“Eraserhead, isn’t it? You’ll have to be careful, won’t you?” The words are grating, yet spoken with such easy confidence. Shouta wishes he could ignore them, but that would just be stupid--especially considering they seem to be coming from one of the leaders. It’s the one with all the hands speaking, the one who’s been standing back by the central fountain this entire time.

“You’ll want to save your student, of course. But you can’t keep an eye on him and use your own quirk at the same time, not without erasing his own.”

He’s right. Shouta hates that he’s right. He can hear Midoriya grunting in exertion, can hear his kicks landing. He can either keep the villians off of him as he was doing, while risking erasing the kid’s own quirk, or he can keep his eyes averted, keep him--

No. No. He curses his own biology, curses his lack of options.

“Midoriya! You need to get out of here!”

“I can’t exactly leave without fighting my way through,” the kid spits out, and he’s right. Of course he’s right.

“He’s right, of course,” the blue-haired villain says, unknowing mimicking his own thoughts. Shouta can practically hear the smile in his voice. “You’re so cool, Eraserhead, so cool. But will you be able to figure out a way out of this one? To protect the kid, you’ll have to protect yourself as well. How long can you keep up?”

“Longer than any you, I’m sure,” Shouta grunts, catching another villain in his bindings as a kick lands. His own retort is automatic, words spilling before he realizes, more focused on the fight in front of him. The villain laughs.

“And you, Midoriya Izuku, such a powerful quirk! You’re so lucky, aren’t you?”

That. That sets off all sorts of red flags in Shouta’s mind. How does he know Midoriya’s name? Why does he know his name? He wants answers--but still, fighting is more important right now. Perhaps if they’re able to capture him later on--

His eyes are stinging--his entire body is sore, fatigued, but his eyes are stinging. The gaps between his erasure are getting longer and longer, but he makes use of them, sparing looks towards Midoriya in between--

And Shouta can’t even be properly proud of the kid, because he’s fighting for his damn life and this isn’t the time, but fuck, if he isn’t holding his own. His movements are frantic and there’s fear evident in his eyes, Shouta can see, but that’s just because Shouta knows him. To anyone else his face is even and his movements appear calculated, controlled. And they are--the skill and training there is obvious, but it’s the fear clouding him that’s worrying.

On top of that--just as the gaps in his erasure are growing, so are the gaps in between Midoriya’s own quirk. It’s soon enough that they’ve taken out most of the lot, and Shouta can see the toll it’s taken on the kid. Another glance at Midoriya shows that he’s sweating, panting--but he’s still standing. His legs are trembling ever so slightly--from fear or exertion, Shouta doesn’t know. Likely both.

But he’s still standing.

“No, no, this won’t do,” the hand-villain mutters, and he’s launching himself directly at Shouta.

“Final boss,” Shouta mutters to himself. Flinging his capture weapon out, the man grabs onto it before it can bind. Well, that won’t do. In a blind rush he lands an elbow to the man’s stomach--but every muscle in Shouta’s body is screaming, his eyes can’t handle this constant quirk usage, and the man manages to land a grip on his elbow.

“Like teacher like student, huh?” the villain sneers, right into Shouta’s ears. He wants to vomit, truly, but all he can focus on is getting out of this man’s grip. “I’ve noticed the gaps in your erasure--you might want to consider a haircut, with a tell like that. But the kid’s tell is a bit more obvious, isn’t it?”

No. Dammit, no.

He sees Midoriya--sees the green electricity on his skin flickering out, sees one of the villain’s charging in, and he’s not going to be able to recover in time.

“So, what will you do Eraserhead? Erase my quirk, or theirs?”

The choice, of course, is obvious.

He feels it, the searing, absolute pain spreading through his elbow--but he can’t focus on that, can’t even look at this man, because he has to look at Midoriya, has too--

His quirk activates again, and it’s just barely in time. This villain has some sort of mutation quirk--fingers turning into knives--and he lands a cut on Midoriya’s face just before they shift back. Shouta’s own breath catches in his throat, because for a moment he fears the worst--but no, the cuts appear shallow enough, and they’re just above the kid’s eyes , from his eyebrow into his hairline.

Bad. It’s bad, it’s terrible, but it’s not the worst.

Not the worst, no, but it doesn’t mean that Shouta isn’t absolutely fucking pissed.

“Of course you’d go for the self sacrifice, you heroes are all the same,” the hand-villain chuckles, disdain leaking through his tone. While his elbow is completely destroyed--Shouta figures the pain of it is dulled by adrenaline, figures it’s the only thing allowing him to stand and fight here still--and it isn’t going to last, he has to act now.

He’s able to kick the villain off of him as he feels his grip loosen ever so slightly. The man goes flying, but Shouta doesn’t look to see where he lands--he’s focused on flinging his weapon out, capturing the knife-villain, pulling them right into the path of another villain who’s begun running towards Midoriya. They crash, both knocked out cold, and Shouta retracts his weapon as he runs, runs towards Midoriya, he has to get to the kid, protect the kid, keep him safe--

“Oh, what was it you said earlier? Final boss? Unfortunately for you, I am not the final boss.”

Shouta can’t--he can’t focus on the villain’s words right now, he has to make it over, has to run--

“Mr Aizawa!”

It’s then that his world goes white, as his body is engulfed in pain.

--------

No.

No, no dammit, no!

That--that monster, with the bird-beak and the exposed brain. Nomu--the hand-villain had called him. That monster finally made a move, and that move was to grab at Mr Aizawa’s skull, thrusting him into the ground--

The villains have a plan, he knows. Like the warp villain said earlier up on the stairs--they’re here to defeat All Might. And if there’s any way that the Nomu can defeat All Might….

No, no Izuku can’t think like this. He has to figure out a way to save Mr Aizawa, there has to be something, something that he can do to help--

A pressure. Three fingers against the back of his neck, and Izuku stops breathing.

“Now now, we wouldn’t want to do anything hasty, would we?” The voice is rough on his ears, and it settles unnaturally in his brain. His body is on fire from using his quirk, most likely overusing it, he’s not sure how much control he’ll be able to muster with the stamina he has left--

But maybe if he doesn’t control it, just lets it loose through his arm--

It’s very possible that it would destroy his arm, he knows. That much power, completely unhinged. But wouldn’t it be worth it, to save Mr Aizawa?

He believes he can be a hero with just one arm. But can he be a hero with none?

Selfish, selfish, he chides. His own dreams shouldn’t matter while Mr Aizawa’s life hangs in the balance.

But to save Mr Aizawa, first he has to focus on the man behind him.

The numbing of fear is long gone--at least what he can physically feel. He suspects it’s the adrenaline in him that’s allowing him to push past it, that’s leaving him, standing, breathing, a semblance of calm and collected while nails dig into the back of his neck.

It’s the hand villain, Izuku knows. He hadn’t even seen him approach from around the side and behind, too focused on Mr Aizawa.

He let his guard down, and now he’s paying the price. His teacher taught him better than this.

Well. He’ll have to make sure he can be properly scolded, after all this is through.

His mind is absolutely racing, completely erratic in his attempt to figure out some sort of plan, some sort of something, where a movement by his side catches his eye and stilts his breath.

“Tomura Shigaraki,” the warp villain says.

“Kurogiri,” the hand villain--Shigaraki--replies. “Did you manage to kill Thirteen?”

Izuku nearly cries out at that, but then Kurogiri replies, “The hero has been incapacitated.”

Okay. Okay, incapacitated, but not killed. He would’ve said if he killed Thirteen, wouldn’t he?

But--if Thirteen is out, what about his classmates? His….his friends? He’s sure some of them were warped across the facility, so many of them caught up in that initial attack--but are they okay?

He can’t--he hasn’t been able to focus on anything else except his own self-preservation and Mr Aizawa--his teacher, who’s still bleeding bleeding bleeding bleeding in front of him, and he can’t do a damn thing about it.

“However, one of the students managed to make it out of the facility. I’m sure the pros will be arriving soon.”

The words barely register in Izuku’s frantic mind, but that’s good. That’s good--he’s able to process that much. Someone--Iida, if he were to guess, if he wasn’t warped--will be able to get help. Help is coming.

They just have to hold out a bit longer, just a bit--

Lead heaves in his lungs, as Shigaraki curses out behind him. “No….no, dammit. This wasn’t how this was supposed to go.”

Izuku is barely listening, instead taking stock of his own body, figuring out if he can free himself with his quirk yet, or if he’ll have to try and--

“Well, even if we’re going to have to leave, there’s still more than we can do, isn’t there?”

Izuku’s split-second initial hope over the leave crackles and crumbles immediately. Still more they can do? He doesn’t know what they mean, what else they could be planning, but it’s obviously not good--the fingers gripping his neck only tighten, and his blood runs cold.

“I’m sure you saw what happened to Eraserhead, when I touched his elbow.” Another pressure point--four of them, now. “All it takes is five of my fingers, and your neck crumbles apart.”

“If you’re going to kill me, why not just do it?” Izuku forces out. It’s stupid, freakishly stupid, but if he can talk to this villain, maybe distract him, buy them all some time--

Shigaraki, he laughs. Loud and chiding, right in Izuku’s ear. “Now, who says I’m going to kill you?” The hand then moves up and around, grasping at Izuku’s chin. Still only four fingers.

“No, no I’m not sure if I want to kill you today. Mess you up, sure. Lasting damage, that’d be fine. But is it really worth my time to kill you?”

Why wouldn’t he? is all Izuku can think. They’re here, they ambushed them knowing they’d be encountering a group of students. They are here to kill All Might, what’s a few extra lives along the way?

Izuku knows this isn’t a time to be analyzing--he should be down on his knees praying that this villain is speaking the truth, that he’ll walk away from here with his life.

But still--

“No, no I think I’ll just leave you damaged. That would really wreck the pride of that man, the so-called Symbol of Peace, now wouldn’t it?”

If it can just be delayed a few more seconds--another snap! reaches his ears, and it takes all of his willpower not to physically flinch at the sound of Mr Aizawa’s bones breaking. He wants to vomit. He wants to scream. But no. Instead he’ll stay still, just a few more moments--

He can already feel it, his power returning to him, regaining some control over his quirk. If he can just--

But his quirk fails him--it fails him just as a fifth finger lands across his jawline--

But….no! It didn’t fail him! It--

“You really are so cool, Eraserhead.”

Blinking rapidly, Midoriya glances to the side, and he sees Mr Aizawa--face barely lifted above the ground with obvious strain and there’s blood, blood, he’s covered in blood, he’s--he’s glaring at them, glaring at the both of them, eyes red with his quirk.

“So cool, so cool, really. But how long can you keep that up, Eraserhead? How long can you--”

The words are cut off by a slam!--a fierce, echoing, piercing noise that cuts across the facility.

In an instant, Izuku is hastily thrown from Shigaraki’s grip, landing on his knees in a gasp of a breath. As he begins to gather himself he hears Mr Aizawa’s head being shoved back into the flooring. His own body seizes as a scream dies in his throat, agony crushing the air in his chest.

But Shigaraki--he just threw him aside, uninterested--

With the sound of Mr Aizawa’s body breaking still ringing in his ears, still sending tremors and shakes throughout his being, he forces himself to follow the villain’s gaze, up and towards the entrance, towards--

All Might.

All Might is here.

“Well, well, look who decided to show up,” Shigaraki states. He, the Nomu, and Kurogiri are all standing, looking up to where All Might is looming at the entrance gate.

Izuku could cry--and he does. Because All Might is here.

Gaining some semblance of control over his own body, he moves to rush over to where Mr Aizawa is laying, but before he can he’s scooped up and off the ground. He panics instinctively--one of the villains? But, no. It’s All Might himself, carrying him and Mr Aizawa away from the central plaza.

It’s….almost terrifying, how fast he’d been able to move.

“Young Midoriya, are you all right?” He places a large hand on his shoulder, the other one cradling his unconscious teacher.

He looked up at the hero--and he knows it’s All Might, of course it is, but--

He’s not smiling. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen All Might not smiling.

Izuku doesn’t think he’s ever seen All Might look angry until now.

“I, yeah, I’m fine!” he blurts out, blinking through his tears. “But Mr Aizawa, that--the one with the bird beak, he--”

“Don’t worry, young Midoriya. It’s going to be fine.” His voice is firm, absolute, and Izuku believes him. He has to. “But I need you to take Mr Aizawa back towards the entrance. Okay?”

Midoriya hesitates, but he really doesn’t have time to argue. That thing is going to attack again, and when he does….

So he nods, All Might carefully laying Mr Aizawa over his shoulders into a fireman’s carry. He’s thankful for his training, that he’s strong enough to carry him even without his quirk.

That thought alone nearly makes him flinch, but he forces it out of his mind as he carries Mr Aizawa’s limp body over towards the entryway.

It’s there, right before the stairs, that he sees Asui, Mineta, and Tokoyami.

“Midoriya, are you alright?” Asui calls out, catching sight of him.

“Is--is that Mr Aizawa?!” Mineta asks through his own sobs. Tokoyami lefts out a stifled gasp, eyes wide.

“Yes, it is. And I’m fine, I got scratched but it’s nothing, really.” He can barely feel the cut on his forehead anymore anyways, what’s more concerning is the deep ache and strain of his muscles. “I’m just glad you’re all okay. What happened?”

“We got sent to the shipwreck zone,” Tokoyami answers. “They had a hoard of villains there who worked naturally in the water. It was lucky we were able to make it out unscathed.”

Asui nods. “What about you, Midoriya?”

They continue their walk, as Izuku speaks. “I--I was sent to the center plaza, with Mr Aizawa.”

“Isn’t that where All Might is fighting?” Mineta asks, eyeing him more than a bit warily.

“Yes, it is, and there was this….this villain there, he was huge, they called him a Nomu, and--”

It’s only a sparing glance backwards, towards the plaza, but it’s more than enough.

All Might he--he’s injured. They’re a distance away but the smattering of dark red on his shirt is clear, stark against the white of it. He has the beaked villain in a grapple, but that warp villain--he’s opened a portal, so All Might can’t get a proper footing to fight the thing.

He’s struggling. All Might is struggling.

“Midoriya, we have to keep moving,” Asui says, but Izuku can hear it in her voice. She’s worried too.

Worried about All Might.

Worried that….

He glances to his shoulder, where Aizawa is still unconscious, still bleeding, still--

No. He’s not going to let it end like this.

If that villain is giving All Might a hard time, there’s no telling how strong it is. And if--if they take out All Might--

He can’t think like that. He can’t let that happen. He has to help, in any way that he can.

Think, think….

Izuku remembers, back to before he was dropped into the center plaza--that warp villain, when Kacchan and Kirishima attacked, it hadn’t appeared to do anything. Because there was no physical body to attack.

Or at least, that’s how it had seemed. What he was wearing--that neck brace. Something like that couldn’t be in place unless there was something solid for it to wrap onto, otherwise it’d fall right off.

And if he has some sort of a physical body, that meant--

He knows how dangerous it would be, rushing in right now when he’s at the end of his stamina, where his usage would be too unstable. It would be nothing but a hindrance to All Might, he would just get in the way.

But to attack at a distance….

“You’re getting much better at this, kid.”

Izuku looked up at Mr Aizawa. He’s bound up, by his own capture weapon. Izuku’s doing--of course Mr Aizawa wasn’t giving it his all. It was more about the technique that they were focusing on, of using the capture weapon.

It’s still hard--very hard, but Izuku himself can acknowledge some improvement. Especially considering how doubtful he felt over the whole thing in the beginning.

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

His teacher hums, calling out to his own weapon as it unbinds, retracts, and wraps itself around his own neck. Izuku raises an eyebrow, and grins.

“Of course, it would be a bit easier if I could control it like you do.”

Mr Aizawa scoffs, but it’s not unkind. “Even using it like this, it took me years to master to this degree. In many ways it’s harder, at least at first, before it gets easier.”

Izuku nods. He figured as much. He’s about to ask more about it--specifically when he started training with it, when Mr Aizawa starts speaking again.

“But….I don’t think it would be entirely unhelpful for you to at least grasp the basics of it.”

Izuku blinks. “I can’t though, right? Won’t the nanofibers only respond to you?”

“For this one, sure. But I’ve been meaning to get another one anyways.” Izuku’s eyes go wide, and Mr Aizawa sighs. “It’d be useful, to have it encoded to you as well. For training purposes. This one is also encoded to Hizashi, if an emergency situation were to arise. Even if he hates using the thing.”

“Like, if you were unconscious and a villain had you wrapped in it?”

A hint of a smirk. “Thankfully that has yet to happen, but yes, it would certainly be useful for that.” A beat of a pause, and Mr Aizawa’s eyes narrow. “For Hizashi, of course. You’d just be using it to train.”

Izuku nods. “Of course.”

“Asui, Tokoyami, can you carry Mr Aizawa for me?”

“It’s Tsu,” she replies, but the both of them reach out to take Mr Aizawa from his arms without hesitation. “Are you feeling alright Midoriya? We’re almost back, and--”

“I’m fine,” he reassures them. “But I have to go back there. Back to All Might.”

“What?!” Mineta shouts. “Are you crazy? All Might has it under control, you’ll just get yourself killed!”

Tokoyami frowns. “I hate to say it, but he’s right. It’d be suicide.”

“I know it’s dangerous. I know. But All Might, you can see that he’s injured! And that villain is too powerful, I just--” he cuts himself off, teeth grinding in his frustration. He can’t just not do anything! Not when he can still do something.

“I’m sorry, Mr Aizawa,” he mutters, voice low. Before one of his classmates can stop him, he lifts his teacher’s weapon up an over his head and runs back out into the fray.

Chapter Text

Izuku hears his classmates calling out to him, Tokoyami and Asui shouting to stop, wait, slow down, but at this point Izuku doesn’t think he can slow his body down if he tried.

All Might. All Might is injured. He’s struggling.

He might lose.

And that’s just not an option. Izuku can’t let that be an option.

So instead, he runs. Mr Aizawa’s capture weapon feels odd around his neck, but not foreign. He grabs at it, preparing for it to flare at his ready, and he--

“No!”

The word is automatic, spilling past his lips at the sight before him--All Might, sinking into the portal, still grappling at the villain and still bleeding, he--

“Midoriya, no!”

He can’t--he can’t stop, not now. So he keeps running, just barely registering the “Kurogiri, take care of the child,” that Shigaraki spits out. It’s barely enough time to prepare, but he still manages. Instead of whipping the weapon out across the clearing, he holds it back, waiting, waiting--

The mist appears before him, suddenly, but Izuku is trained. He’s familiar with those who excel in quick attacks.

As the mist forms fully, he sees exactly what he was waiting for, and calls to the weapon around his neck.

It lashes out immediately, in time with Izuku’s hand on it. It curls around the neck brace, snugly securing itself. He gives the weapon some slack and runs, giving himself enough distance--

As soon as he’s far enough away--Kurogiri’s split second hesitation of shock is just the breathing room he needed--he grabs at the cloth and yanks it, sending the head of the villain slamming into the ground.

He feels a tug on the cloth but Izuku steels himself, holding the bindings firm. Kurogiri grunts.

Before Izuku can process a plan further he’s distracted by a chilled gust of air on his left--it’s Todoroki, he realizes, as a path of ice splays out across the ground and crawls across the Nomu’s body, stopping just short of where he’s grabbing at All Might.

It’s then that he sees All Might move--he’s able to loosen the Nomu’s grip now, with the villain half encased in ice--he jumps free and lands clutching at his left side, cupping the harsh, red stain of blood.

Izuku swallows, the action harsh on his throat. Because that….that can’t be good.

“You damn kids….humiliated by a couple of kids,” Shigaraki mutters, scratching manically at his own neck. “Well, no matter. We won’t let this be the end. We’ll just have to make our retreat.”

Retreat?

Instinctively, Izuku’s grip on the weapon tightens. Should he try to keep the villain restrained? Try to prevent them from escaping, or should he--

The Nomu. The Nomu is freed now, from the portal. And he’s--

Izuku can’t control the shiver of pure, frigid fear that crawls down his spine, at the sight of the Nomu’s limbs growing back. Because with that much power….with All Might injured….

“We’ll need our method of transportation, of course. Nomu, take care of the kid.”

The kid?

Izuku blinks, as he sees Shigaraki lazily pointing a finger towards him.

Shit.

Before he can fully process the situation, before he can even think to move, his body is moved for him, shoved to the side. He blinks again, once, and suddenly there’s a hole in the wall across from him and track marks drawn harshly into the ground.

“Of course you’d protect the kid,” Shigaraki says. And he sees All Might now, across the way, arms positioned into a block, and--

A hand on his shoulder. He looks up from where he’s sitting--he didn’t even realize he was on the ground, now--and sees Todoroki leaning over him, concern breaking through his typically blank expression.

“Are you alright, Midoriya?” he asks.

Izuku blinks, and nods. “Yeah, don’t worry, I just….”

He trails off as he stands, Todoroki giving him a sidelong glance but saying nothing else. The both of them turn back towards All Might, who’s now walking back towards the Nomu, after he--

After All Might grabbed him, saved him--

He didn’t even see him move, he was so--

“But then again,” Shigaraki continues, “of course you would protect him, now wouldn’t you?”

“It’s a hero’s duty to protect,” is all All Might says, voice low. Izuku blinks as the villain laughs.

“Oh, don’t be coy. We all know you have your favorites.”

His….favorites?

Is Shigaraki talking about him?

Todoroki’s eyes move to him, gaze fleeting, but he remains silent and so does Izuku. Because what is he supposed to say? He has no idea what this villain is talking about.

The villain lets out another grating laugh, gesturing towards the Nomu. “Well, no matter. That’s your business, isn’t it? I suppose it won’t matter once you’re dead.”

Izuku tenses, motioning forward, but All Might holds up his hand without looking back towards Izuku, instead fully focusing on the Nomu.

“The two of you should get back to the others,” All Might says, standing between them and the Nomu.

“You wouldn’t have been able to free yourself, without our help,” Todoroki says evenly.

This time, All Might does look back. He’s smiling, but it still looks….different. Off.

“I appreciate both of your efforts, but now it’s time to stay back and watch a pro at work.”

Todoroki shifts in his stance, looking like he wants to move forward and protest, but ultimately he remains still and silent.

And All Might--he launches himself into action.

It’s, again, almost terrifying witnessing such power up close. Izuku thinks back to the sludge villain, of what he remembers in the flurry of panic that the encounter was, and remembers All Might’s power. It’s--it’s nothing compared to how it is now, and no video he’s ever seen can truly do it justice.

Because as the first punch is thrown, the force of it nearly knocks Izuku over.

He braces himself, arm in front of his own face, and a sparing glance shows that Todoroki is equally as affected by the onslaught of wind. Still though, Izuku forces himself to look, to look at All Might, and the sight of it.

He’s sending punches, one after another, so quick that Izuku can barely see them but he knows each one is calculated, precise. He’s going all out, and absolute display of brute strength and power.

And Izuku--all he can do is watch helplessly. Watch as the fist’s land in a fury of rapid succession, as the backlash of such power continues to push at Izuku, threatening to completely knock him off his feet.

He notices, too, that the other villains are in a similar state, struggling to stay upright.

The battle doesn’t last forever--Izuku’s sense of time is completely skewed, but soon enough he sees it, the beaked villain being met with a final punch that sends him airbourne, careening upwards and completely through the wall of USJ.

Izuku can only stare at the hole left by the villain’s body, completely shocked into stillness.

Because that--

That kind of power--

He focuses again on All Might, who’s still standing.

Standing, yes, but bleeding still, and--is he shaking?

The villains are talking, he can see that, but all he can focus on is All Might standing there and the dust billowing around him in his wake.

A tap on his shoulder nearly has him jumping, but he manages to turn, to see Kirishima standing behind him. His eyes widen, and Kirishima grins.

“Where did you--”

“We were sent to the Ruins Zone, and came here when we finished off the villains there,” he says, eyes moving from Izuku to where All Might is still standing. “We came when All Might was fighting that villain, but we didn’t want to get in his way.”

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Izuku says quietly, before furrowing his brow. “Wait, we?”

He hears him before he sees him. It’s Kacchan of course, and he’s absolutely seething.

“What the hell is he doing just standing there?” Kacchan growls. He begins moving towards the villains, towards All Might, and before he even knows what he’s doing Midoriya sticks his arm out, blocking Kacchan’s path.

He could’ve just shoved him away or simply moved around him, but Kacchan doesn’t, he just turns his fiery glare onto Izuku.

“What the hell are you--?”

Before Izuku can say anything, Kirishima places his own hand on Kacchan’s shoulder. “He’s right, we should let All Might handle this. Besides, I think we have another problem to deal with….”

Izuku turns, and sees some of the villains he and Mr Aizawa had fought of earlier beginning to stand and make their way over towards them all. Kacchan, Kirishima, and Todoroki are all at the ready, moving towards the group of villains.

“Will you be joining us?” Todoroki asks, and Izuku’s gaze flits between the group of oncoming villains and All Might, who’s standing against Shigaraki and Kurogiri.

“I won’t let this be the end,” he hears Shigaraki seethe, the man again scratching furiously at his own neck before he stops suddenly, abruptly. His hands lower into fists, and he shifts in his stance, as if he’s preparing to run--

But All Might….these two villains are clearly going to fight, and All Might hasn’t so much as moved, he’s just standing there, fists not even raised--

And his grin. It’s still there, bold as ever, but it’s not--it’s not right--

He should be moving. All Might would attack upfront, he wouldn’t wait for them to come to him. Something, something must be wrong, something--

But Shigaraki starts running. And so does Izuku.

It’s again as if he’s being pulled by someone else, as if he’s not truly in control of his own body. His feet are running, slamming against the ground as he does so, the pounding heavy in his ears. He grabs at the capture weapon strewn around his neck and launches it forward, aiming again at the warp villain as he moves towards All Might--

He hears a bang, then a scream. Everything seems to still--his weapon falls without the will of his own concentration, All Might still hasn’t moved, and Shigaraki is clutching his own hand, blood dripping from it--

Blood. And that sound, was he--?

He looks to where sound echoed from, and his heart nearly gives out with relief. The other teachers. The pro heroes--they’re here, having returned with Iida. Izuku could weep at the sight.

“No, no, dammit! Kurogiri, get us out of here,” Shigaraki spits, hunched over on the ground as he clutches at his own hand.

The warp villain moves into action--Izuku tries to manipulate the weapon, but the villain evades his attack--and manages to escape from Thirteen’s Black Hole as well, him and Shigaraki disappearing from the facility.

Izuku curses himself. If only he’d tried harder to restrain the warp villain, if he hadn’t let his guard down--

He blinks rapidly, looking over towards where his classmates are fighting the group of villains--or rather were fighting. Their leaders gone and the pros now here, the remaining villains seem to have realized they have no hope of victory today.

Izuku sighs, again relieved. He turns back then, towards where All Might is--

All Might--

He stares, blinking, worried that his eyes are failing him. Because that’s--that’s not All Might standing where the hero once was, because it’s not--

But it must be, he’s wearing the same clothes! And his hair! But it’s not--he’s so much smaller, so much thinner, he--

“Young Midoriya--!”

Fuck.

It’s all he can think as he stares down at his own hand, seeing the green lightning crackling on his skin, can feel it coursing within him, that stronghold of power, threatening to burst--

He can’t even begin to try and focus on it like Mr Aizawa taught him, no. It’s too much, it’s too much and Izuku is so tired, he--

The last thing he sees is that thin, blonde man running towards him before consciousness escapes him.

--------

“Izuku!”

The name is a slip of the tongue, but Toshinori can’t help himself and he can’t be bothered to care. He’s weak in this form, he’s injured, but he still runs, still moves his screaming muscles as fast as he can. He manages to catch him, just barely, crumpling to the ground and onto his knees as he cradles the boy’s head in his arms. Looking up he sees Cementoss moving towards them, frowning.

“What happened?” he asks, and Toshinori shakes his head helplessly.

“I don’t--he just fainted,” he says, looking down at the boy--jaw slack and eyes closed, with the green, electric-like current of One for All still dancing across his limbs. He blinks before glancing up.

“The other students--”

“Don’t worry,” Cementos eases him. “The students are being evacuated and the paramedics are on their way.”

Toshinori lets out a huff of a breath, nodding. “That’s good, that’s good.” It’s more to himself than it is to the other teacher, because he can’t not worry, he can’t help himself. And Midoriya--his quirk still shouldn’t be activated, he’s sure of that, not when he’s unconscious--

He stiffens when he sees a figure appear from behind the impromptu wall, but relaxes minutely when it’s Present Mic who shows his face.

“Are you both okay?” he asks, far more serious than Toshinori has ever seen him.

“I’m fine, but Midoriya--”

“Fuck,” Yamada curses in English, reaching out to lift the boy from Toshinori’s own arms. “It’s his quirk, Sho mentioned that it can be unstable, he might need suppressants.”

“Quirk suppressants?” Toshinori asks dumbly, recalling what Aizawa had said in their meeting with Nedzu, about Midoriya’s quirk sometime’s acting erratically.

Yamada nods, securing his hold on the boy. “I’ll take him to the paramedics,” he says as he meets Toshinori’s eyes with his own. It pangs him, how distraught he looks. Thinking back to Aizawa’s condition, he can’t really blame him.

“I’ll be fine, go.”

Yamada leaves him with a nod, rushing back towards the facility entrance.

--------

It’s once the USJ is cleared out and evacuated, the villains either captured, incapacitated, or having made their escape, that Toshinori himself leaves. Cementoss had insisted that he be taken in the ambulance but he refused, instead having Tsukauchi drive him, the officer having arrived on the scene shortly after the U.A. staff had.

He’s injured, he’s past his limit, but it’s not life-threatening. Arriving in an ambulance in the wake of a media storm that’s sure to follow the incident is not Toshinori’s ideal situation, not when he’s in this form. Ideally he would’ve gone to U.A. to be treated by Shuzenji, but she’s already gone to the hospital herself to help with caring for Aizawa.

So he goes with Tsukauchi and gets checked in inconspicuously enough. A few nurses treat him for minor injuries, stabilizing him, but ultimately it’s Shuzenji who comes in to treat him, tutting and shaking her head as she does so.

“Is Aizawa--”

“Eraserhead is in surgery,” she states, gently pushing him back down onto the cot. “He’s stable, but we won’t know his exact condition until he wakes up.”

Toshinori nods, frowning. She leans down to plant a kiss at his side, the scar tissue a mangled mess after being aggravated by that monstrous villain.

“You pushed yourself too far. This is going to take a lot out of you.”

He nods again, resigned, too tired to vocalize anything now that he’s finally able to relax, somewhat. Midoriya is fine, one of the nurses said he’s going to be fine. Aizawa is stable. The rest of the students are fine.

He sighs, finally letting go and allowing himself to slip into a dreamless sleep.

--------

When Toshinori awakens, his brain allows him a few seconds of peace before the memories of the day come flooding back to him. He’s groggy, with a dull, aching pain straining at his body that gets sharper as it coils in his left side.

Still, he forces himself to sit up, forces himself to stand. It’s difficult at first, but he manages. Once he does however, he realizes that he doesn’t have any idea where Midoriya’s room is. Or what time it is, for that matter.

He checks his phone, revealing that it’s the same day, but into the evening. He has a multitude of texts, most from the U.A. staff and his agency, but one from Tsukauchi catches his attention.

Room 308. Because I know you won’t be able to help yourself.

He smiles briefly before pocketing the phone and exiting the room.

He finds Midoriya’s room easily enough, and peers through the window to see that the boy is still unconscious, with Shuzenji leaning over him.

“Should you really be on your feet?”

Toshinori turns to see Tsukauchi approaching him, coffee in one hand and his phone in the other. He smiles a bit sheepishly at his friend.

“Probably not, no.”

His smile is short lived however, as he turns back towards the door window. He hears Tsukauchi sigh beside him.

“You’re the one who texted me,” Toshinori points out. His friend snorts.

“Yeah sure, because you wouldn’t have found your way here anyways.”

Toshinori says nothing to that, instead just opening the door, Tsukauchi following behind him.

“You shouldn’t be here,” Shuzenji says automatically, without so much as sparing Toshinori a glance. He chuckles, even if it’s forced.

“I’m fine, I’m just….” he trails off, standing tiredly over Midoriya’s unconscious form. Shuzenji sighs.

“He’s going to be fine. He’s out from the suppressants, not so much his injuries. Which were, surprisingly, minimal. It seems as if he passed out from quirk exertion, not due to any sustained injuries.”

Well, that’s something at least. “And Aizawa?”

A momentary pause, and Toshinori can’t help but wince at the silence. Eventually Shuzenji meets him with an even gaze. “The surgery went well. He should be in the clear, but we still won’t know until he wakes up.”

Toshinori sighs. That’s--that’s good. More than good, he thinks, considering the state Aizawa was in when Toshinori showed up.

He forces down the suffocating guilt before it can truly take hold. He did what he could, and now he has to live with it. Whatever ‘it’ may be.

“I would like to question Midoriya, whenever he wakes up,” Tsukauchi says ot Shuzenji. “If he’s up for it, of course.”

She nods. “He should be cognitive enough, after waking. But as for his mental state….”

Toshinori understands. It’s what he’s been worried about too, on top of everything. The students all faced an ordeal that no fledging student should ever have to face, but Midoriya--he’d been battling with an onslaught of villains, had stood against the man who was seemingly their leader. Shigaraki, he remembers them calling him.

Shigaraki, who acted like he knew Midoriya, like he knew--

But, no. It’s not--it’s not possible, that he would know. He’s sure that the villain was playing mind games, as villains do. He’s sure that’s all it was.

A soft grunt pulls him from his thoughts and Toshinori blinks, looking down. Midoriya moves his hand to his eyes, rubbing at them lazily. When they open, blinking, they meet Toshinori’s own, and--

Ah, shit.

He was hoping that Midoriya had forgotten seeing Toshinori, as he had passed out shortly after. And with everything going on, with the panic of him fainting, Toshinori hadn’t had a chance to process what it meant, for him to be seen in this form--

Because at first his eyes are blank, passive--but like a switch being flipped they widen in alarm, blinking wildly at him.

Midoriya opens his mouth, then glances around the rest of the room--at Tsukauchi, at Shuzenji--and closes it again. Toshinori cuts off his own gaze.

Because, well. He isn’t really prepared for this, not now.

Shuzenji then moves to check over the boy, to which Midoriya mutters that he’s feeling alright, just tired.

“This is Officer Tsukauchi,” Toshinori introduces, his friend offering a small wave. “He’d like to talk to you about the incident, if you’re feeling up to it.”

For a moment Midoriya says nothing, just stares wide-eyed at Toshinori. He feels himself heating in something akin to shame--because he could say something, Shuzenji and Tsukauchi both know, they know damn near everything.

(Well, relating to his quirk, anyways).

But he doesn’t say anything else, and soon enough Midoriya nods. “I--yeah, that’s fine. Now is fine.”

Tsukauchi nods, moving to take the seat next to the bed before he sees the purse and sweater already occupying it. Midoriya follows his gaze.

“Is my mom here?” Midoriya asks, and Shuzenji nods without turning.

“She just stepped out to get some food, I’m sure she’ll be back soon.”

Well, if that’s the case, he really has to go. He recalls bitterly what Aizawa said, how he should talk with Inko, and he--he knows that the other teacher is right but….not now. Not now.

“I’m glad you’re feeling better, Midoriya,” Toshinori says, rather stiffly. The boy regards him with shocked eyes once more, mouth agape. He resists the urge to cough into his elbow.

“I--yeah, thank you,” is all he says. Hesitating only slightly, Toshinori nods once, and walks out of the room.

---------

It’s not the first time Shouta’s woken up after his surgery, but it is the first time that the spare chair next to his hospital bed isn’t occupied by Hizashi.

He comes to slowly, but steadily, the blurriness of his vision clearing out to reveal a mess of green hair slumped low in the seat. His chin is tucked into his chest, eyes glazing over his phone as he idly scrolls through it.

“Don’t you have someplace else to be, kid?” Shouta gruffs out. He nearly winces at the sound of his own voice, still rough and strained.

Midoriya nearly drops his phone, blinking at Shouta with wide eyes. “Mr Aizawa!”

Shouta sighs, shifting in the bed as he tries to sit up, slightly. His body is still fogged with painkillers, but it doesn’t completely wipe away the blunt ache that’s seemingly engulfing him.

His face, even wrapped in bandages as it is, must portray some of his discomfort. Midoriya is quickly on his feet, standing over him warily, arm outstretched.

“Are you okay? Should I get the nurse? I can--”

“Sit down, kid,” Shouta says with as much force as he can muster. Midoriya hesitates, as expected, but he eventually nods and returns to his seat. Shouta huffs.

“Is Hizashi here?” he asks, and Midoriya shakes his head.

“No, he said there was a meeting at U.A.”

Figures. It’s Saturday, if Shouta’s getting his days right, and he vaguely remembers Hizashi mentioning the meeting the last time he was awake. The painkillers have made his short-term memory a bit hazy.

The USJ, however--he remembers that. All of that.

“I’m glad you’re okay,” Shouta says. “Hizashi told me you passed out, right after.”

“I--”

“He also told me,” Shouta barrels through, “that he found you with my weapon around your neck.”

Silence. Shouta glances through his bandages, to see the kid staring down at his own feet, unruly bangs obscuring his features. Shouta sighs.

“I’m glad that you’re okay,” Shouta repeats. “But you shouldn’t have gone back there. It was reckless, and far too dangerous--”

“But All Might--”

“All Might can handle himself, as I’m sure you know.”

“But he can’t, can he?”

Shouta blinks, and finds the kid now staring at him with wide eyes, leaning out of his chair. “I mean--that’s not what I meant, I didn’t mean it like that, he’s still the Number One Hero! And he saved us, of course he did! But he’s--he’s hurt, isn’t he?”

Shouta pauses, treading carefully over his own choice of words. “Did he talk to you?”

“No, but he….I saw him. After he defeated the villains. He’s….he was thin. Very thin.”

“After, then. Did he talk to you?” Shouta doesn’t want--he doesn’t want to say anything until he knows how much the kid actually knows, now.

“No, he….I passed out right after. When I woke up, he was also in the room and he--I didn’t say anything, I just….I kinda let him think that I forgot it happened.”

The kid looks absurdly guilty about it, too, refusing to meet Shouta’s eyes again. And Shouta….if the man hadn’t just saved all of his students, he probably would’ve wringed the Number One Hero’s neck. Because damn this kid, he found out about All Might’s secret accidentally, and he’s staring down at his own knees as if he’s just committed some sort of crime.

If he were to find out any more….

“You should talk to him,” Shouta says.

“You….you knew then, didn’t you?”

Midoriya doesn’t sound mad, or betrayed. Just….honestly curious.

“Yes. All the teachers know. But it’s something you should talk about with him, not me.”

The kid nods, solemn. “I know I should and I--I should’ve said something earlier but I just didn’t know what to say, so I….just didn’t. Say anything.

Shouta sighs. “I’ll talk to him, too. Next time I see him.”

Midoriya blinks up at him. “You don’t have to, I--”

“I’ll talk to him,” Shouta repeats, firm. A pause, then a nod.

“Did anyone else see?”

“No I….I think it was just me. Cementoss put up a wall, blocking him from view, but I was too close to him already.”

Hm. Well, if anyone were to find out of course it would be Midoriya. Jesus Christ.

“You passed out. Do they know why?”

He shrugs a shoulder. “Recover Girl thinks it was from overexertion, from my quirk.”

Well, that’s as reasonable of an explanation as any, but with knowing what he now knows about the kid’s quirk, he can’t be certain if that’s the correct assumption or not.

But again, he can’t go telling Midoriya that.

So he just hums, and nods his head as much as he can. “Well as long as you’re okay now.”

He offers Shouta a small smile. “Yeah, I am! I am, but….”

His grin falters, taking in Shouta’s bandaged body as if he’s just now seeing it for the first time. He closes his gaping mouth, opens it again, then closes it. Shouta sighs.

“I’ll be fine, kid. It’s not your job to worry about me.”

That clearly does nothing to deter the kid, if anything his frown only deepens, brow furrowing. Shouta tries to come up with something to say, but before he can he sees the tears starting to form in the kid’s eyes. Shouta swallows roughly, watching him wipe away the wetness streaking his cheeks with a humorless chuckle.

“I just--thank you. For saving us. For saving me.”

A pause. “I was just doing my job,” Shouta manages. The kid laughs again.

“I know, but still. Thank you.”

Shouta doesn’t say anything to that, just looks down at his own bandaged hands. He doesn’t--he hasn’t missed the scar that Midoriya is now wearing. Four lines across his forehead, one cutting into his right eyebrow and one cutting into his hairline. He knows he shouldn’t feel guilty--the kid is here, sitting next to him. Alive, breathing. Physically, he’s okay.

But still--

If he had just been faster, stronger, he could’ve--

His thoughts are cut off by a knock at the door. He and Midoriya both look up, seeing Hizashi standing there with a small smile on his lips, All Might standing awkwardly behind him, hunched in on himself.

Shouta doesn’t miss the panic fretting in his eyes when he sees Midoriya seated in the chair next to him. Blinking, Midoriya turns back to Shouta, nearly mimicking All Might’s own expression.

He stifles a sigh. Christ. “I’m sure your mom wants you home,” Shouta says softly. Midoriya just stares dumbly at him for a few moments before slowly gathering himself, standing as he grabs his bag. Head turned down to the floor he bids Shouta a goodbye and squeezes himself past the two men, without so much as glancing at either of them. All Might looks like he’s going to keel over any minute, but Hizashi just raises an eyebrow towards Shouta.

His husband walks over, placing a ginger kiss atop his head. “Hey, Big Cat,” he greets him, lips quirking into a soft grin. “How’re you feeling? Sorry I had to leave, but I’m sure the kid was good company.”

Shouta snorts. “I’m fine,” is all he says, and before Hizashi can start fretting over him, he glances over at All Might, still standing in the doorway and very blatantly not looking towards either of them. “I need to talk to All Might.”

Hizashi blinks at him, then nods. “Oh yeah, of course! He wanted to come see how you were doing. If it’s about school, though, you really should be resting Shouta--”

“It’s not,” he frowns. Then sighs. “It’s about the kid.”

Again, Hizashi just raises a brow at him, a smirk hinting at his lips. Shouta just meets his gaze evenly, as much as he can through the bandages. The force of it must still come through because Hizashi’s grin fails, face turning serious.

“Alright, alright. Just don’t work yourself up,” he says, leaning down again to kiss into his hair. Shouta sighs into it, nodding minutely.

Hizashi leaves him with another small smile, eyes twinkling. As the door closes behind him, Shouta gestures to the now-empty chair beside him with a bandaged hand. Hesitantly All Might walks over, folding his long legs into the chair with some obvious awkwardness.

“First of all, I need to thank you.”

All Might stares at him blankly, as if the notion in and of itself is ridiculous. Shouta glares at him pointedly until he clears his throat, nodding stiffly.

“I--of course, I just wish i had gotten there--”

“Don’t,” Shouta states, firm, and All Might shuts his jaw. Shouta lets out a huff.

“It’s not your fault in the slightest. Don’t do that to yourself.”

“If I hadn’t--”

“What’s done is done,” Shouta says. “If you’d like, talk to other hero agencies to work out better patrol shifts, so you don’t constantly overexert yourself. People--other heroes, perhaps especially--have become too complicit with you being here.”

A small pause before All Might nods, jaw clenched. “I will.”

Well, that’s something. The other hero is still wringing his hands together, but at least he doesn’t look as absolutely guilty as he had before. Shouta lets out another huff.

“Anyways, what I wanted to tell you, is that you need to talk to Midoriya.”

The other hero shifts in his seat, taking in a heavy breath. “What did he say to you?”

“He saw you. Like this. Right before he passed out, he said.”

Another pause, as All Might stares blankly out the window opposite him, eyes glazing over the clouds as they slowly drift past.

“Shit,” All Might curses in English, and the expletive startles a snort out of Shouta. He waits to see if All Might has anything else insightful to offer but the man just continues to stare off at nothing, face distraught.

“You have to tell him something.”

“I know, I just….” he trails off, and Shouta can practically hear him overthinking. He sighs.

“You only have to tell him as much as the other teachers know, just that you’re injured. You don’t have to tell him anything else.” Shouta knows that All Might knows this--the man may be a bit brash, but he isn’t stupid. But still, Shouta feels the need to say it anyways.

“I know, I know, it’s just that….” he lets out a humorless laugh. “It almost feels worse, lying to him this way. Telling him some of the truth but not all of it.”

That….makes sense, Shouta supposes. Even if he doesn’t necessarily agree with the sentiment.

“I’m not going to tell you that you have to tell him everything. But you do have to tell him something. You need to at least explain to him that you’re injured.”

“I know.”

“If you don’t do it soon, then I will.”

That seems to pull some sort of emotion other than guilt from the other man. There’s a slight heat in his eyes as he stares down Shouta. It’s short lived however, flickering out with a sigh as he digs his palms into his forehead.

“I--I know, I will. Monday at school, I’ll talk to him.”

Shouta hums. “Good.”

All Might shifts again awkwardly, looking as if he’s about to stand to leave. Before he can, Shouta stops him.

“I need to ask--what happened to Midoriya?”

All Might stares at him, slightly wide-eyed. “I--”

“I mean when he passed out, before,” Shouta clarifies. All Might lets out a breath.

“Right. It was after the villains had retreated, and it seemed that his quirk was--that One for All was activated, but he wasn’t using it, it was just--”

“The green energy he omits?” Shouta asks, and All Might nods.

“He didn’t--didn’t seem in control of it, and luckily I was close enough that I got to him before he actually passed out, but….even when he was out, One for All was still active. He appeared fine by the time the paramedics came, but they ended up giving him a dosage of quirk suppressants anyways.”

Jesus Christ. Shouta nearly reaches up to run a hand through his hair before he remembers that his hands are in casts. “Do you have any idea why?”

“I’m--not sure, no. From what and Recovery Girl you’ve said, it’s likely he just overexerted himself.”

Hm. Because well yeah, that’s certainly the obvious answer, it still doesn’t seem….right. “And you’re okay?”

All Might blinks. “Me?”

Shouta rolls his eyes. “Yes, you. I’m sure the fight took quite a toll on you.”

“Ah, right.” All Might averts his gaze, tugging at his bangs. “I--yes, I overdid it. I believe I only have one hour a day in my hero form, now.”

Shouta blinks, because that’s one hell of a revelation that All Might just happened to overlook. “One hour? That’s….not good.”

The other hero waves him off. “It’s inevitable. I know I’m not going to last forever, as a hero Not in the condition that I’m in.”

Shouta would’ve thought All Might to be more in denial of his diminishing quirk but he seems….oddly complacent with it. Acceptant. Before Shouta can say anything in return the man chuckles, cocking his head at him.

“I originally came to U.A. looking for a successor,” All Might says, and Shouta frowns at him. “Someone to pass my quirk on to.”

Ah. Well, that makes sense, considering he did say he was the eighth user of this power. He himself knows he’s injured, he knows that he won’t be able to fight forever. Of course he would be looking for a student to pass that power on to.

But with what he knows now….

“It seems like that decision is made for you now, isn’t it?” Shouta asks quietly. A moment of pause, before All Might nods.

“I suppose it is.”

Shouta wants….to ask more, to know what exactly that means, if Midoriya is actually going to be his successor--if he really has any choice, with the power he holds. Before he can, All Might stands from the chair, a bit abruptly, and Shouta lets the subject drop.

“I shouldn’t keep you, I’m sure--I’m sure that Yamada wants to talk to you. I’ll go find him.”

Shouta doesn’t say anything, just watches as All Might walks over to the door. A hand on the doorknob he pauses, craning his neck around.

“Thank you, Aizawa.”

He scoffs. “I didn’t--”

Thank you, Aizawa.”

Meeting his gaze, Shouta swallows roughly, before nodding slightly. The other hero smiles as he leaves.

Well. At least All Might said he would talk to the kid. But now, what he’s thinking about is what it means for Midoriya to have this quirk, this power that All Might was supposed to pass on to a person of his own choosing. And it’s not like Shouta doubts that Midoriya can become a great hero, of course not. It’s just the matter of succeeding All Might. That’s not a kind of pressure any student should be facing, regardless of the situation.

Shouta sighs, glancing over to the bedside table. He raises a brow, when he sees an unfamiliar object placed atop it. There’s his old and faced U.A. sweatshirt Hizashi had brought him from home, the one from his own high school days. Next to it is the very gaudy and very tacky Get Well Soon! balloon strung by a weight, also from Hizashi, part of a running joke that started when they were first signed to their own respective agencies.

(It’s something, at least, to help ease the distress of visiting one another in the hospital).

What he doesn’t recognize, is what looks like a stuffed black cat sitting atop his sweatshirt. He’s still frowning at it when Hizashi raps twice on the door and lets himself in.

“Where the hell did you get this?” Shouta asks Hizashi as he sits himself next to the bed, trimmed eyebrow raised. Hizashi follows his line of sight and picks up the stuffed animal, blinking before he grins wildly.

Since Shouta can’t exactly hold it himself with his hands in casts, Hizashi holds it up for him so he can get a better look. It’s a simple black cat, but with a gray scarf layered around its neck that appears to be crudely sewn on.

A scarf that just happens to look rather familiar.

“As much as I wish I could take credit for something so adorable, this isn’t from me.”

Shouta blinks up at his husband, frowning. “Then who--?”

Hizashi is much quicker on the uptake, already giggling as he places the cat atop Shouta’s chest. “Looks like he brought this for you, too.” Hizashi waves a bag of salty black liquorice in front of his face. Shouta doesn’t miss the fact that it’s his favorite brand.

He sighs, but he can’t quite manage to hold back a smile as he watches the cat rise and fall with the heave of his chest. “Damn kid.”

--------

“Young Midoriya!”

Toshinori watches as the boy pauses in his steps, rather abruptly. He turns to him with wide eyes, Uraraka and Iida both look at each other, and then towards Toshinori.

“All Might,” Midoriya lets out, caught somewhere between a question and a statement. Toshinori resists the urge to fidget in his stance.

“I was hoping you’d eat lunch with me today?” he asks. Midoriya blinks, glancing between his friends.

“I….”

Uraraka grins broadly, pushing him forward. “Go ahead, Deku! We’ll see you next period.”

Midoriya looks from her to Iida, who nods in agreement. He turns back to Toshinori with a withering smile. “I--yeah of course, All Might.”

They walk in stilted silence towards the teacher’s lounge, Midoriya trailing slightly behind Toshinori. He’s pleased to see that the room is empty when he arrives, and lets out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding.

“Please, sit,” he says, Midoriya only hesitating slightly before he does so, perching himself on the edge of the couch. Toshinori eases himself into the seat across, watching as Midoriya fidgets, gaze avoiding his own eyes.

Before Toshinori can get a word in, Midoriya blurts out, “I know what this is about. I saw you. At the USJ. You were….” he trails off, staring down at his shoes.

Toshinori sighs, grunting slightly, and shifts.

In retrospect he probably should’ve given the boy proper warning, as he lets out a stifled gasp as the steam billows off of him, dissipating to reveal his true form.

“I--are you--?”

“I’ll explain,” Toshinori placates him, and he does explain. He doesn’t--he doesn’t explain everything, but he tells enough. He shares what the other staff knows, that he was injured eight years ago, and can now only maintain his hero form previously for three hours, but now only for an hour a day.

“Only an hour? That’s….not good,” the kid mutters. Toshinori blinks, and manages to hold back a wracking cough. He looks so similar in his mannerisms, to when Aizawa had said nearly the same thing to him.

“It’s nothing for you to worry about,” he says, but he can see the look on Midoriya’s face, and knows that he already is.

“Are you going to be okay?”

And it’s such a raw, open expression that Midoriya is wearing, his eyes almost pleading with Toshinori. If he were a lesser man he might’ve cracked then and there, but no. He’s a hero, he knows how to deal with heartbreak, with loss, with pain. So he pushes through.

“I’ll be fine, you don’t need to worry,” he repeats himself. Midoriya doesn’t necessarily looks like he believes him, but he doesn’t rebut. “But I just, I wanted to explain. I’m sure you know that this isn’t something you can share. I hope I can trust you with this.”

Toshinori absolutely knows that Midoriya won’t tell, but he has to say it all the same. It’s not as dangerous a secret as….well, everything else, but it’s still important. Midoriya nods feverently.

“Yeah, of course! Of course I won’t tell anyone.”

He nods. “Good.”

A moment of pause, before Toshinori clears his throat. A bit of blood splatters into his fist and Midoriya stands, alarmed.

“Should I go get--?”

“No, no, it’s fine. It’s normal,” he says, wiping it away with his handkerchief. Midoriya stills, but he doesn’t sit. “I promise. I would go see Recovery Girl if I needed to.”

He’s still frowning, but at least he returns to his seat, if slowly. Toshinori sighs, running a hand through his unruly hair.

“There is something else, that I wanted to talk to you with.”

Midoriya blinks. “Yeah?”

Toshinori steels himself, and before he can chicken out he blurts, “I would like to help train you to use your quirk.”

He keeps his own gaze averted, but only for a moment, before he meets Midoriya’s eyes. The kid is staring at him, mouth gaped and eyes in disbelief.

“I--are you sure? I mean, I just didn’t think that--”

“I am sure,” he says, and affirming it aloud helps Toshinori convince even himself. “I’m sure by now you’ve noticed that our quirks are rather similar. I thought it might be beneficial if perhaps we could work together, and I could try to help you gain better control of it.”

It’s not just an excuse to spend more time with the kid, it’s not. He really does think he might be able to help at least somewhat. The boy’s quirk is odd, it’s not like how he learned to use One for All as it came much more naturally to him. But despite that, it’s still the same quirk, and Toshinori should be able to help.

“With the Sports Festival coming up,” he continues in Midoriya’s silence, the kid still staring seemingly in shock, “I think it might be helpful if you could manage more control over it.”

“I would love to!” Midoriya blurts out before he gathers himself, shaking his head slightly. “I mean, yes I would love to, but my quirk is--it’s unstable. It could be dangerous. That’s why I’ve been training with Mr Aizawa, so he can erase it if he needs to.”

Ah, right. To be completely honest, he probably should’ve talked with Aizawa first before he offered his help. He should learn exactly what kind of training the boy has already been doing, and more about the limitations of his quirk.

What’s the saying, that it’s easier to ask for forgiveness than permission?

“I’ll talk with Aizawa, and we’ll see what we can work out,” he states, and Midoriya nods. He’s grinning, wide and broad, practically vibrating in his seat. Toshinori feels his chest clench at the sight.

“Thank you, All Might!”

He nods, quirking his lips. “You’re welcome, young Midoriya. Now, I’ve kept you long enough, head back to your friends.”

The kid thanks him again, gathering his bag and scurrying out the door. Once he’s gone Toshinori sighs, sinking into his seat as he rubs at his temples.

What the hell is he going to say to Aizawa?

Chapter Text

“Ah, Aizawa!”

At the sound of his name Shouta raises a brow and instantly regrets it, as the motion causes a twinging pain in his forehead. He sighs, moving past All Might and towards the coffee machine in the staff lounge.

The other hero follows behind him, gaze flitting between Shouta himself and the floor. Shouta pointedly stares only at the coffee machine as it whirs, hot liquid trickling out and into his mug.

Once he manages a swig of the scorching liquid, bitterness coating his tongue, he finally turns towards All Might and meets him with an even stare.

“Yes?”

All Might falters, but only for a moment. “Right! I--I wanted to speak with you Aizawa, but are you….are you sure you should really be back at work so soon?”

“Well, it’s not like I’m on patrol,” Shouta snorts, taking another sip of his drink. He really doesn’t need All Might fretting over him--he’s perfectly well enough to sit down and teach a class, which is something he’s already explained to Hizashi in excruciating detail this morning.

“I….if you’re sure,” All Might says, still looking wary, and Shouta shoves down the urge to roll his eyes.

Instead he says, “We can talk in the classroom, it’s likely still empty.”

The other man blinks, but after glancing between the other faculty milling around the lounge he nods and follows Shouta out of the room.

Luckily the classroom is empty; there’s still a bit of time before school actually starts, but it wouldn’t surprise him if Iida--or hell, Midoriya--was found in the room this early.

“So,” Shouta starts, crossing his casted arms to the best of his ability as he leans against his own desk. “What did you need to talk about?”

He already has a good idea about what they’re talking about, considering there’s only one thing--or really, one person--that they ever discuss. But what it is about Midoriya that has All Might in such a nervous fit, Shouta doesn’t know.

Clearing his throat, All Might perches himself on one of the student desks, hands clasped over his knees. “I….I would like to help train Midoriya, to help him better learn how to use his quirk.”

Shouta blinks. That’s….not what he was expecting. He watches as the Number One Hero bunches the cloth of his pants into his fists, avoiding Shouta’s own gaze. He still appears to be deep in determined thought, so Shouta stays quiet and lets him finish.

“I understand that his quirk is….very unconventional, and it’s certainly not how I learned to use it, personally. But it’s the same quirk nonetheless, and I feel that….that I could help, in some way.”

He’s not wrong. It is the same quirk, from everything that All Might has told Shouta, even if Midoriya doesn’t have the control over it the way All Might does. But still….

“Do you know what assistance you could provide?”

All Might smiles, or tries to it seems, as it comes off as more of a wince. “I’d have to, ah--talk to him more and see how exactly he’s using it. But I’d like to think I have some experience in stamina control.”

Well, that is a good point. While there’s other underlying factors, the main issue does seem to be Midoriya’s stamina, in that if he were to increase it, he would be able to hold his quirk’s power for longer, without it overloading him.

“I….think it could be beneficial for him, training with you.” Shouta doesn’t say it, but even if All Might can’t actually help with much in terms of quirk training, he does think that Midoriya working directly with the Number One Hero may be able to help with the kid’s self confidence.

All Might beams at him, smiling wide. Shouta can’t help but notice how different the man’s grin is in this form. Smaller, softer, yet just as bright. And familiar, somehow, the expression. Where has he….?

Oh. Right.

“I’ll be there with you both, of course,” Shouta continues. All Might cocks his head, frowning now, if only slightly.

“I appreciate that Aizawa, but shouldn’t you--?”

“It’s not as if I’m going to spar with him,” Shouta mutters. “I’ll just be standing by. I need to be there to turn his quirk off should it be necessary.”

“Yes, right, but--”

“And,” Shouta interrupts, tone firm while trying not to sound too annoyed, “I’ve been told by the doctors to try and use my quirk a bit, while I recover.”

That, finally, seems to stop All Might’s worrying, if only verbally. “Right, of course, that makes sense.”

Shouta nods slightly, before his own gaze narrows. “Did you end up talking with him? About your injury?”

All Might blanches. “I--”

The man cuts himself off, both of them turning towards the door at the sound of it opening. He can practically feel All Might tensing up--probably due to the fact that he’s not currently in his ‘hero’ form, Shouta muses. Well, whoever it is he’s sure he can just say that All Might is a personal friend, or rather--

“Ah, young Midoriya!”

Shouta resists the urge to bury his face into his own plaster-encased hands. He watches as the kid enters the classroom with a shaky grin, eyeing between All Might and Shouta.

“You’re early,” Shouta drawls, and it seems to startle a chuckle out of the kid.

“I--yeah, I finished my run early this morning and wanted to catch up on some notes.”

Shouta nods. All Might does the same, before opening his mouth to speak.

“I won’t distract you, then. I should be leaving regardless. It was nice to see you, Midoriya.”

He blinks once, before smiling wide. “You too, All Might!”

Nodding again, the other hero slips out of the classroom, Shouta watching as the door shuts behind him. By the time he turns again Midoriya is already in his seat, pulling out a notebook and his phone.

Shouta hesitates a moment by his desk before eventually walking over towards him, sitting down backwards in Bakugou’s seat. He raises a brow, seeing that he has a picture of the notes from Hizashi’s last class, the boy now transcribing the English conjugations into his notebook.

Under Shouta’s gaze Midoriya peers up, looking….almost guilty. “Sorry. Sometimes it’s still….hard to write. Especially writing fast.”

Shouta looks down at the shaky handwriting--certainly better than anything Shouta could do with his non-dominant hand, he’s sure. Even if the kid has been practicing at it for years, it’s still impressive.

Without a word Shouta stands and walks back over to his own desk. When he returns, it’s with two pieces of paper that he plucked from his bag.

“Hizashi always leaves his spare notes laying around,” Shouta states, and the kid laughs softly. “Those are the ones from last class, and the one’s for today’s class.”

He places the papers onto Midoriya’s desk and he’s given a small, but genuine, smile in return.

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

He hums, nodding, returning to his desk. It’s not long before Iida arrives, to which then most of the rest of the class begins to trickle in, and Shouta prepares himself for his lecture.

--------

“I think you should both discuss your quirks first, to get an understanding as to how….similar they are.”

It’s after school now and the campus is nearly deserted, with both teachers and students rushing out at the end of the day. However not everyone has left, given that he, Midoriya, and All Might are in one of the indoor gyms, Shouta watching over them as they begin their training.

He’d wanted them to wait, ideally, to give him some time to best prepare a regime for the both of them. However given the nature of Midoriya’s quirk and the….peculiar relationship he has with it, Shouta figured it’d be better for them to discuss their respective quirks before actually training.

Well….presumably respective quirks. Shouta knows that Midoriya’s quirk is different from All Might’s just judging by how he’s forced to use and control it--even if it is, by nature, the same quirk. However….there’s more than that. He hasn’t forgotten what happened during the fitness test, where Midoriya’s own quirk was shut off by way of Shouta erasing All Might’s quirk. He’s still not sure what to think of that, and neither is All Might.

So, he figures having them hash it out a bit will be helpful. Even so, Shouta has to control himself from rolling his eyes at All Might’s deer-in-headlights look at the idea of discussing the nature of his quirk with his inadvertent successor of said quirk. Midoriya, however, smiles wide.

It’s a genuine smile, Shouta can tell, but he still appears somewhat nervous as he turns to All Might. He’s excited, sure, about discussing quirks with his idol. But there’s still that underlying hero worship--Shouta knows he doesn’t want to disappoint his hero in any way.

If he really knew….

Shouta shoves the thoughts away--for now, at least--and listens to the kid speak.

“So my quirk, I would say, is likely some type of muscle enhancement. It’d be easier to figure it out if it wasn’t so uh, tricky to deal with.” He pauses for a moment, grin turning sheepish. However, All Might only smiles back and silently urges him to continue.

He goes on to explain what Shouta already knows--that his quirk acts like a stockpile of energy and he needs fine-tuned control over it in order to use it properly. He describes it to All Might as he has to Shouta multiple times, using the metaphor of a full water glass--he has to focus his quirk just right in order not to break the glass and send all the water spilling out.

“And you can control it for about ten seconds, correct?” All Might clarifies, to which Midoriya nods.

“About that, depending how much stamina I have left.”

The other hero nods, rubbing absently at his chin. “Well, I think the first thing we should do, is for me to see how your quirk works up close.

Midoriya watches wide-eyed as the steam billows around All Might’s growing figure, until he’s bulked up to his hero form, signature grin plastered across his face.

“Let’s see what you’ve got!”

Midoriya blinks, gaze flickering between All Might and Shouta. “Are--are you sure?”

The Number One Hero only laughs, booming and boisterous.

“I know your quirk is powerful, young Midoriya, but I’m pretty sure I can take it!”

The kid pauses briefly, then nods, but not without one last glance towards Shouta. He doesn’t say anything, only returns the kid’s look with a pointed stare. Midoriya takes the clue, and gathers himself into a proper fighting stance as he turns back towards All MIght.

Shouta isn’t concerned about Midoriya hurting All Might, of course. As hilarious as it would be to see the kid wipe the floor with the pro hero, he doesn’t really think it’s gonna happen.

He watches as Midoriya flares up his quirk, green lightning sparking across his limbs. His leg raises, preparing for a carefully executed--

Shit.

Shouta sees it a split-second before it happens; barely that, even, but it’s still enough.

It’s because he knows Midoriya that he catches it--the startle in his eyes, the falter in his step. Ignoring the throbbing in the back of his skull, Shouta stares down Midoriya as he activates his own quirk. Thankfully, somehow, One for All is gone before the kick makes contact, his shin landing with a dull thump against All Might’s side. He stumbles with the sudden loss but luckily All Might catches the kid in his arms, steadying him, concern evident in his features.

“Young Midoriya! Are you--?”

“What happened?” Shouta asks, already by Midoriya’s side. One the kid seems to be in control of himself Shouta blinks, letting the red in his eyes fall away. Midoriya furrows his brow, looking down at his arm and legs as if they’re foreign implements.

Frowning, he peers back up at Shouta. “I….don’t know? I was using the same amount of control as I always have, trying to maintain the five percent power, but it….was more, somehow?”

Stifling a sigh, Shouta shoots a glare towards All Might, who looks just as confused as the kid does.

Great. Every time he thinks he has this kid figured out, he learns again how truly odd this quirk is. He can feel All Might staring at him, but Shouta doesn’t look his way again. Because he’s sure this has something to do with All Might and his damn inane quirk.

He’s just….not sure how.

“It was probably just a fluke--a lapse, I can try--”

“No,” Shouta states. Prepared for the kid to argue, as per always, he holds up a hand in front of his face. “Go home, sleep it off. We’ll try some exercises tomorrow and see if we can figure out what went wrong.”

“Shouldn’t I try again now? If I can’t--”

“I’m sure,” Shouta interrupts, “that this is something that can be fixed, if it’s truly an issue at all. But I want you to rest first, before you try using your quirk again.”

This time Midoriya nods, if reluctantly. It’s something, at least.

“Go change,” he says, a bit softer this time, less forceful “Then head home. We’ll try again tomorrow.”

Again the kid nods, bidding a goodbye to both Shouta and All Might before running off towards the locker rooms.

Once he’s gone, Shouta finally turns toward All Might. The other hero has returned to his skinnier form, frown encompassing his narrow face.

“What--what happened?” he asks, frown only deepening.

Shouta sighs. “I’m….not sure, exactly. But I stopped him because it looked like he was going to lose control. He seemed to think so, too.”

“And that doesn’t normally happen?”

A pause, and Shouta resists the urge to bite at his own lip. “No, it hasn’t for awhile. Not unless we were trying to up his stamina, and this time we weren’t.”

It was close, though. Too close. Hopefully after a good night’s rest, they’ll be able to properly tackle the issue tomorrow. He’s still just not sure what the problem really was, but maybe talking to Midoriya will--

“You’re really good with him, you know.”

Shouta blinks, All Might’s voice pulling him from his thoughts. He’s met with an even gaze and an expression that’s not quite a smile, not quite a frown.

“I’m sorry?”

All Might chuckles, dry. “I said you’re good with him. You’re good--you’re good with all the kids. I was….really hoping to be better at this.”

“A better teacher?”

Another stilted laugh as the other pro cocks his head towards him. “That’s one word for it.”

This time Shouta frowns, but he doesn’t know what to say in response, so he lets it drop. Instead he says, “I’m going to work with him alone tomorrow and then we can try again, alright?”

All Might nods, this time smiling. “I’m looking forward to it.”

--------

Luckily, Shouta comes to find out, Midoriya is able to regain proper control of his quirk. They’re still not exactly sure what the issue is, but Midoriya had told him during their training session that he just needed to adjust his output and relative control, and now he seems to be doing just fine again.

Still, though. That doesn’t completely make the issue go away--Shouta really needs to hound All Might about talking to someone regarding this One for All.

But that’s an issue for later, after the Sports Festival. For now, Midoriya is using his quirk as well as always, and Shouta just wants to focus on his students and their training.

Midoriya does train with All Might again, a few times, and they seem to be making some strides, however small. They talk back and forth about how their quirks work, and Midoriya seems to have decreased his recovery time in between usage, even if it’s just by a few seconds.

Shouta isn’t sure how much it had to do with All Might’s teaching, but still. He’s….glad that they’re getting along, and Midoriya enjoys training with him, obviously.

He’s just not sure how long the Number One Hero can keep this up.

But again, that’s not something he’s going to worry about now--the Sports Festival is only days away after all.

--------

“I just wanna say….I’m going to win.”

The congregation of his classmates around him begin to boo and shout, which is….expected. Izuku knew of course, that Kacchan would say something along these lines, although he was hoping he’d be less--well--blunt about it.

As Kacchan walks off the stage, unfazed by the students screaming vulgarities at him, Midnight introduces Izuku. Being that the both of them tied for first during the hero course entrance exams, they were both given the opportunity to grant opening speeches.

Well, if you can really call Kacchan’s statement a speech….but whereas Kacchan had unrivaled confidence going for him, Izuku isn’t sure how his own speech is going to go over….

He walks on determinedly steady feet up to the podium, trying not to let his nervousness show--the nerves of the Festival itself and the nerves of speaking to the crowd begin to collide, and Izuku clears his throat as he forces his voice to remain even.

“I can’t lie,” he starts, staring unfocused across the crowd. “I worked very hard to get where I am. But I know, so has everyone who’s here right now--whether you’re in the hero course, support, general, or business studies. No one could’ve gotten into this school without the utmost determination, and I look forward to a fierce fight against all of you--to get to that top spot. Don’t give it anything but your best.”

There’s a pause, and for an instant his stomach drops, but soon enough there’s a wave of cheers and applause, from both his fellow students and the massive audience. Izuku smiles towards his friends as he walks back down to them. He knows it wasn’t the most groundbreaking speech, but he’s happy for giving it.

“Nice job, Deku!” Uraraka greets him as he returns, accompanied by a broad smile. His own grin turns a bit sheepish, but before he can reply he hears Midnight begin to explain the first round and immediately the smile drops, turning to give the pro hero his full attention.

Because while he was nervous about having to speak, this--this is what truly matters right now. This is what he needs to focus on.

He bites his lip in both nervousness and determination, as Midnight speaks. An obstacle course is there first challenge, and okay. Okay. An obstacle course would lend itself to speed, correct? And while he needs to take breaks in between his usage, he’s still fast.

He smiles to himself, ready to put up a formidable fight.

--------

Despite his issues with control, Izuku knows that his own quirk is very powerful.

It’s not, however, suited to all types of obstacles.

Speed? Sure. But as fast as he is, it won’t matter if he can’t get a proper footing.

So yeah, thanks for the ice, Todoroki.

The robots, however, are definitely something he can handle. Luckily Izuku sees what Todoroki is doing before most others do, and manages to make it through before the robots collapse in onto themselves.

But he doesn’t have much time to be relieved--the rope course isn’t particularly suited to his quirk. He watches with a frustrated grimace as a few of his classmates begin to pass him, picking up his pace as much as he can as he climbs across.

So, he’s not first when he reaches the landmines, but that’s fine. He can see they’re giving many of his classmates a great deal of trouble, giving him time to catch up.

However, he is glad he didn’t dump the piece of sheet metal he’d grabbed at the robots, thinking it might come in handy later on--and he’s very thankful for his own forward thinking.

When he’s soaring through the air, over the smattering of mildly bewildered students, Izuku starts to think he may have gone a bit overboard with the landmines.

However, it looks like it’s going to be just enough. He’s readily catching up to Kacchan and Todoroki--wind stinging his face, knuckles turning white from his unwavering grip on the sheet metal--

In retrospect, he didn’t really think so much about the landing aspect of this plan. If he can activate his quirk, allowing his body to go into a roll--

It’s possible, he’d have to release at the exact right time--

But it seems the decision is made for him--a fleeting spray of ice leaves his arm completely immobilized as his brain spirals into panic, wondering how he’s going to land, if he can even--

With a shout, he tumbles to the ground--and right onto Kacchan.

He feels bad, he really does, but this isn’t time for apologizes. As quickly as he can he stumbles to his feet, letting his quirk fuel his legs as he rushes to catch up to Todoroki, ears ringing from both Kacchan’s expletives and his explosions. But now--now that he’s passed the mines he can run free, if he can just--

It’s not enough. As he approaches the gate however fast on Todoroki’s trail, he’s forced to let go of his quirk lest he completely lose control, and he stumbles through the finish line.

Behind Todoroki, but ahead of Kacchan.

Well, second place is still an accomplishment. He allows himself a moment of pride as the rest of his classmates begin to trickle through, before he begins to mentally prepare himself for the next match.

--------

Surprisingly, Izuku thinks, Todoroki seems to be putting together a team just fine.

He can’t help but notice--initially he had thought everyone would’ve steered clear of Todoroki and his ten million points, deciding that it would be a better strategy to play offense rather than defense. However with his amazingly impressive display of power during the obstacle course, people seem to have determined that teaming up with him would still likely result in a win, with his quirk being strongly suited to defense.

Izuku, however, doesn’t even try to talk to him. Not that he has anything against Todoroki! No, he has complete respect for him, but what his fellow student had said to him before the festival began….

A declaration of war, Kaminari had called it, and yeah, that was a pretty apt description. But what Izuku can’t really get past was when Todoroki said he has All Might in his corner. And yeah sure, All Might has been training with him, but it was just because they have similar quirks! It’s not like there’s anything else going on between them.

If there’s anyone he’d be worried about being accused of ‘having in his corner,’ it would be Mr Aizawa. But Todoroki hadn’t said a word about their homeroom teacher. Which….is good, because he doesn’t want to be accused of getting any preferential treatment, and being implied that he is getting so from All Might, well….

It didn’t feel good. But like Mr Aizawa had told him, he would help train any student upon request. Of course he would. All Might too, he’s sure.

So Izuku didn’t take it personally. Instead he had smiled, and fired back as good as he got. If Todoroki was out to prove his worth against Izuku, then he’d do the same right back. Of course he’s going to give it his all--that was never up for debate.

So his eyes can’t help but linger on Todoroki as he sees him discussing with Yayourozu--that is, until a waving hand on his right catches his attention.

“Deku!”

He turns, and smiles. It’s Uraraka running towards him, bouncing in her steps and grinning broadly. She asks him if he wants to team up--and of course he does! Uraraka’s quirk is incredibly powerful, and she herself is a great fighter. Plus she’s right, it is good strategy to team up with people you know.

However, when they ask Iida, they learn that he has other plans. While Izuku is disappointed, he completely respects his friend’s decision, and looks forward to competing against him.

Rethinking his plan while people are still milling about, knowing that time is quickly running out, an incessant tap on his shoulder pulls him from his mutterings.

When he looks around, he nearly jumps as his eyes lock onto a pair of bulky welder's goggles mere centimeters from his face.

“You! I’ve been looking for you!”

That gives Izuku pause. Him? He knows he has the second highest score but he didn’t exactly show off his quirk much during the obstacle race, so why would she--?

“Midoriya Izuku from Class 1-A, correct? I’m Hatsume Mei--I heard about you once the semester started, and I knew just the support item I had to make!”

Support item? Had she heard about his quirk somehow, that he has to use it in intervals? Even if she did know that, it’s unlikely she could come up with some kind of device to help with his usage unless she had the proper details about--

Once again he’s forced out his thoughts, this time by Hatsume’s loud and boisterous “Ta-da!” as she holds out a long, metal object in front of him.

It’s….

He frowns. It’s--it’s an arm. A metal arm.

Izuku’s initial reaction, despite himself, is a bubble of excitement that the prosthetic draws from him. Because an arm--a mechanical, operational arm, he’d never dreamed he would have something like that, something that would actually respond and move, and--

But….how would it respond to his quirk? And his entire fighting style--he’s been trained to fight with one arms while primarily relying on his legs. Would trying something this new only hinder him?

“So, whaddaya think, pretty great right? This baby’ll be sure to impress the support companies! Not to mention, it’ll give us a great shot at the finals!”

Frowning, Izuku glances at Uraraka, who’s own gaze is flitting between Hatsume, the arm, and himself. She seems nearly as baffled as Izuku feels, to be presented with a functioning arm after years of not having one--during the U.A. Sports Festival, no less.

As Izuku continues to examine the prosthetic, Hatsume goes on to explain her other gadgets she had cleared to use during the festival--a pair of what are essentially jet boots along with a jetpack--which would both greatly increase their mobility.

With these gadgets, Uraraka’s quirk and Izuku’s own, they’d make a formidable offense. Now only if they had some sort of long-range capability….

Looking around the arena, Izuku spots who he’s looking for, and grins. Quickly, he explains his plan to his two classmates.

At the end of his quick spiel, Uraraka nods, straight-lined determination overtaking her normally bubbly expression. “That’s a great plan, Deku! And you think Tokoyami will work with us?”

He grins. “Only one way to find out.”

“And the arm! You’ll test if for me, won’t you?” She pulls what looks like a silver headband from seemingly out of nowhere, and Izuku frowns at the object. “It’s nothing invasive, I promise--as long as you’re wearing this headband, if you think it you can move it!”

Well that’s….less painful than he thought it would be. Izuku looks back down at the prosthetic in front of him, smile turning to a grimace. The excitement is still there, threatening to turn him giddy, but to use this after all this time….

But time is what he’s running out of, and they really have to talk to Tokoyami, to at least ask him. Meeting Hatsume’s eyes, he nods, once.

“Okay. I’ll wear it, go ahead and attach it.”

As Hatsume gets to work, Izuku watches as Uraraka goes off to talk with Tokoyami, to explain their plan to him--hope that he’ll agree to work with them.

And as for the arm….getting it attached is one thing, but can he actually bring himself to use it?

--------

“Hey! What’s that thing Midoriya’s holding?”

Once Shouta realizes that Hizashi is talking to him and not to the audience he turns, frowning as his gaze follows to where his husband is pointing. Sure enough it’s Midoriya, walking back towards the center arena, now having formed his group, it seems. He’s not surprised to see him with Uraraka--not that it’s bad strategy, teaming up with people you know. Seeing Tokoyami with them is surprising, but not as much as their fourth member; Hatsume, he remembers, from Support.

But now, Shouta sees what Hizashi is talking about. There’s something metallic he’s carrying, something long, holding it on his right side--

Wait. His right side?

He looks over at the jumbo screens, where one of the zoomed-in cameras is trailing on their group as they get into their designated positions. It’s--an arm. A prosthetic arm, but not the one Shouta’s seldom seen Midoriya with. No, this isn’t anything medical-provided, this is definitely straight out of Support.

“Um, is that allowed?” Hizashi asked, raising a brow. Shouta shrugs, bandages rustling slightly with the motion.

“Nemuri seems to be fine with it, so yes. It’s likely Hastume requested all of her support items be approved for use during the Festival, and since it’s a group battle, anyone can use her equipment.”

It’s genius, really--an arm like that would definitely test well with support clients, and coercing Midoriya to demonstrate it to the public for her? Honestly, Shouta’s just shocked that he agreed to it.

Well, maybe not that shocked. It’s likely that he would have agreed simply to help out his fellow classmate. What’s more likely is that he saw the arm to be a definite tactical advantage and would thus help their chances of advancing onwards.

Or, perhaps, just simple curiosity.

Shouta’s so wrapped up in his own thoughts that he nearly misses the start of the match--but it’s predicable of course, all teams making a mad dash for Todoroki’s group and their ten million points. But Todoroki alone has an extremely formidable defensive quirk. That, combined with Iida’s speed, Kaminari’s wide range and Yayorouzu’s versatility--it’s a very good strategy, one ideal for this high-stakes game of keepaway they’re playing.

Some groups have dispersed, looking instead to build points with lower headbands, but there’s still that rush to ambush Todoroki--it’s then, during an onslaught, that Kaminari unleashes his own quirk. While the kid really needs to improve his aim, the distance he can cover is impressive. The carnage of electricity immobilizes everyone chasing after them--everyone except Midoriya’s group, having taken flight the moment Yayorouzu had started to create their insulating blanket. It looks to be a combined effort of Uraraka’s quirk and Hatsume’s rocket-like boots.

They don’t stay up there for long--it’s harder to maneuver in precise movements, it seems, and Todoroki is definitely giving them trouble with his ice. Dark Shadow is a formidable offense however, and shortly after they land they manage to back Todoroki’s group into a corner.

Shouta isn’t sure if Tokoyami’s Dark Shadow is going to be enough for them on the offensive--Hatsume and Uraraka can’t do much in this particular situation, and neither can Midoriya. If he were able to jump, he might be able to get a good kick in, but from the top of the three-person horse, it won’t be possible. Restrained like this, there’s not much Midoriya can do in the way of long-range attacks.

….Well, there is something he could do, but Shouta explicitly told him not to use it unless it was an actual emergency.

But honestly, did he actually think the kid was going to listen to him?

He sees it, sees the kids raising his arm, fingers moving as if they’re about to snap--one of the cameras starts to zoom in as he prepares the attack, that tight-leashed power coiling into his fingertips--

“No. Absolutely not. That is not a viable technique.”

“Why not? My quirk is limited to close-range, this way I’ll have some distance!”

“No.”

Midoriya frowns, and it’s almost a pout, truly. He’d figured the kid, who’s otherwise so mature for his age, would be so petulant about this. He’s young, barely twelve, and he doesn’t understand the absolute necessity of balancing out self-sacrifice with self-preservation. Shouta sighs, running a hand through his unruly hair as he stares down at the kid.

“I just,” he starts again, and Shouta resists raising a brow. “Isn’t it more important, to save someone--because I still can! What’s a few broken fingers to someone’s life?”

“Have you considered the toll it would take on your bones, constantly breaking and healing and breaking them again? How long could you keep that up before reaching permanent damage?”

It’s rather blunt, Shouta knows, and borderline gruesome to think about. But the kid can handle it--he has to, he has to understand this if they’re going to continue what they’re doing.

However, the statement does silence him, Midoriya instead biting at his lip while averting Shouta’s gaze. Heaving another sigh, Shouta says, “If it’s truly an emergency and it’s your only option, you can use it. But sparingly. And not in training. Understand?”

“Yes, Mr Aizawa.”

Later, Shouta thinks, he’s going to have to remind the kid of what constitutes an actual emergency.

He watches through narrowed eyes as the kid lets loose a rush of power expelled through his fingertips--but leaving them broken, he’s certain. As much as the kid should not be injuring himself like this, it does work well enough--it completely shatters Todoroki’s ice attack and sends them off their feet as well, only to be caught by a quick wall of ice.

However, they don’t give Midoriya’s group much time before they’re ready to attack again--and Shouta can barely make it out, but he can see the heat starting to color Iida’s engines--likely an escape judging by the way Todoroki is raising his arm as if to create a wall to shield them--

It’s then, that Midoriya raises his prosthetic arm for the first time, the motion quick, fluid--in an instant his palm is splayed, outwards towards Todoroki’s team--

Shouta furrows his brow. “What the fuck is he--?”

--------

“Now, Midoriya! Show all of the recruiters how powerful my baby is!”

Izuku mentally steps back from the chaos of the match, remembering how Hatsume had instructed him to use the arm. After she said what it could do, well. He still has his reservations, but he couldn’t deny the advantage it would give them all, as they were all fighting for the third and final round.

So Izuku raises the prosthetic in the direction of Todoroki’s team, and he’s nearly shocked-still at how responsive it is.

“Get ready!” he shouts, splaying his fingers--and he can feel the thrust from the boots Uraraka is wearing, preparing to jump--they have to be quick, he knows. He seems the other group, the four of them preparing to run and defend--

“Now!”

He feels it, the energy thrumming in his metallic arm, familiar in the way his quirk feels, that tightly leashed coil of energy. But on his command his group leaps into the air, and Izuku lets loose a blast from his arm--

“Ah--shit!”

He doesn’t mean to curse, not really, but he can’t help it--the blast is much more forceful than Hatsume described, so much so that the recoil nearly knocks him out of his teammates’ grip. But the arm did do what was intended--a large blast of energy, completely knocking Todoroki’s group off their guard and leaving them defenseless--not for long, he knows, but it has to be enough time, it has to--

--No!

He doesn’t realize until it’s too late--his arm, his prosthetic arm, it was completely destroyed from the blast--but they’re flying through the air, so close to the winning headband that is just out of reach--

And it remains out of reach, because the force of the blast had completely thrown them off of their trajectory--they were still coming at Todoroki, but from the right side instead of the left, and Izuku, he can’t reach his arm around to grab the headband--!

It’s the first time in a very long time that he’s genuinely been angry about his disability--if he had a good, functioning right arm, he would’ve snatched the headband no problem!

He’s still mentally berating himself, when the team lands and immediately breaks into a sprint, the rest of them clearly thinking Todoroki’s team will be hot on their tail--they must not have realized Izukudidn’t get the headband--

“And Team Midoriya rockets up to first place! What a crazy display of support technology from Hatsume Mei and Midoriya Izuku!”

“What?!” Izuku shouts in response to Present Mic’s announcement. “But I didn’t--”

It’s then, that he sees it--in his beak, Dark Shadow is clutching the ten million point headband.

“After the blast, I saw the remnants of Hatsume’s prosthetic fall in front of me. Judging from the angle, I knew it would be unlikely that you could grab it.”

He’s--he’s so thankful for his team, for how skilled all of his fellow classmates are, how quick they think on their feet. He wants to thank them all properly--especially Tokoyami--but he knows he doesn’t have the time; the match isn’t over quite yet. With a rushed thankyousomuch he ties the headband around his own neck, and prepares himself to--

“Deku! Come here you bastard!”

Well, that didn’t take long.

He turns, to see Kacchan, Mina, Sero, and Kirishima in a blind rush towards them. Kacchan already has a considerably large number of headbands around his neck, but he’s absolutely seething and staring down Izuku with murderous intent.

“Should we run?” Tokoyami asks. “Dark Shadow won’t hold up well against Bakugou’s attack.”

“One of the boots got busted last time we landed, our mobility is limited,” Uraraka states, her voice a bit warily.

Damn. And now with his prosthetic completely busted--he doesn’t look, he--he can’t bring himself to do so--but he knows it’s completely busted, a lost cause.

But….with the match so close to being over and most of his fingers still functional--

He sees it, before it happens--Kacchan preparing to leap, to jump from his position atop his teammates shoulders--

“Come here, you damn nerd!”

As soon as Kacchan is airborne, Izuku lets his quirk coil into his fingers, grimacing in his exertion to not let it completely destroy his bones, just enough to expel the energy stored there--

Despite the sharp, throbbing pain in his hand, he smiles as the blast sends Kacchan flying back, only to be caught by Sero’s quick reaction time, letting loose a flurry of tape to wrangle Kacchan back onto their shoulders.

If his former friend was angry before, he’s absolutely livid now.

He watches as Kacchan’s quirk flares from his palm, sparks flying and crackling as he bares his teeth at Izuku.

“--Deku, you fucking--!”

Izuku, however, doesn’t hear the rest of Kacchan’s insult, instead drowned out by Present Mic’s announcement. At the sound of it, he and the rest of his team let out a whoop of pure, unadulterated excitement.

“Aaand, that’s time! The Cavalry Battle is over!"

Chapter Text

“Do I need to tell you how reckless that was, Midoriya?”

They’re in Recovery Girl’s makeshift office here at the stadium, the kid perched on the edge of the bed as Shouta stares down at him, arms crossed. Midoriya won’t meet his eyes, but he doesn’t exactly look remorseful.

“We won, didn’t we?”

Shouta sighs, resisting the urge to bury his face into the palms of his hands. “Yes, you did win. But do you think it’s worth risking permanent injury for some game?”

“Isn’t this important? This is how we’re going to get recruited for internships, isn’t it?”

Now the kid is looking at him, and Shouta can see the embers simmering within his eyes. It’s a rare thing to see, the kid normally so understanding of his limits. He’s always had, and always has that drive and that determination--but anger? It’s an uncommon thing to see Midoriya display, especially given the circumstances.

And well, he’s right--to a degree. The Festival does play a large part in the recruitment process, and their performance here will carry with them. They’ll have more years to compete, but Shouta’s students are fierce this year--they’re going to give it their all, regardless if they’ll have more chances to compete in the future.

Shouta just wishes that ‘giving it his all’ didn’t mean Midoriya damaging his body like this.

He sighs and sits himself next to the kid, who meets him with a raised eyebrow.

“It does matter, yes. But how are you going to be able to work an internship if you don’t have proper use of your arm?”

Shouta hates having to come back to that whenever they have this conversation, but sometimes it’s the only thing that actually gets through to him. The only thing stronger than his drive to succeed now is his drive to be able to keep succeeding. To obtain that pro hero status he so desires.

He wraps an arm around the kid’s shoulder in what feels like a poor attempt to comfort him, and he’s surprised when the kid leans into the embrace, resting his head on Shouta’s own shoulder.

“I know, Mr Aizawa. I’m sorry.”

“It’s fine, kid. Just….try to be more careful, alright?”

He expects the Yes, Mr Aizawa he usually receives but he’s met with silence instead. He doesn’t press the kid, just gives him a moment. Eventually, he responds.

“I will try to be more careful. But I’m also going to try my best to win. I’m still going to fight with everything I’ve got.”

Well. It’s better than nothing, he supposes.

“Just try. You’re strong as it is, don’t forget that. You can do a lot while still maintaining your control.”

“Yes, Mr Aizawa.”

Shouta hums, satisfied. Well, mostly. He still wishes he would’ve gotten a firm promise out of Midoriya, but it’s not like he can physically stop him while he’s fighting on the field. He’ll have to trust the judgment of Cementoss and Nemuri.

“So are you going to tell me about that prosthetic, or no?”

That startles a snort from the kid and he looks up, Shouta dropping his arm. “It was….weird, But super easy to control? It was almost like….”

It was almost like having a real arm, Midoriya doesn’t say, but Shouta can see it written across his face.

“So, are you going to ask her to make a new one for you, or did you already do that?” Hopefully, one that doesn’t get destroyed after a single blast, but Shouta understands it’s a work in progress. However, at his question Midoriya’s face twists up funnily, expression turning almost sour.

“She--she could, but it’s not….it’s not a perfect prosthetic. It’s controlled by a headband thing? I don’t know how it works, really,” he chuckles dryly, before continuing. “But she said that long-term use would be damaging, that it would cause severe migraines.”

At that, Shouta narrows his eyes. “And did she tell you that before, or after you used it?”

“Well….not till after,” he states, a bit sheepishly, but hastily waves his hand in front of himself as Shouta’s eyebrows crease, ready to have a stern word with this girl about proper safety. “But! It’s totally fine for short-term use, my head feels fine! Powerloader approved it and everything.”

….Alright, then. Shouta can accept that.

“She’s going to work on it,” Midoriya continues. “But she’s not sure how much she’ll be able to make it functional for everyday use.”

Hm. Well, even if it is a special-occasions only type of weapon, it’s still a good thing to keep in mind. He’s honestly astounded at how well the arm seemed to work. But considering how talented some of these damn kids are, he really shouldn’t be surprised.

In the lapse of conversation, Recovery Girl comes over and clears Midoriya with another stern warning. He nods almost meekly, but still firm, and they walk out of the office together.

“You should go prepare for the next match,” Shouta says, and Midoriya nods again, this time in agreement.

A short pause, and Shouta reaches out to ruffle his unruly hair. “Give ‘em hell, kid.”

He laughs. “Yes, Mr Aizawa.”

--------

“Midoriya.”

Izuku pauses, turning on his heel in what he thought was an empty hallway, but no--Todoroki is there behind him, staring at him intently.

He blinks, once, and puts on a shaky smile. “Yeah? What is it, Todoroki?”

“I’d like to have a word with you, if that’s alright.”

A brief pause, before Izuku nods. “Sure, I was about to head over and get some lunch, if you’d like to--”

“In private.”

Well, that’s rather blunt. It’s not like Izuku was expecting a friendly pep talk, considering the talk they’d previously had that day before the Festival even began. During which, Todoroki had stated, straightforward, that he was going to beat Izuku. What he wants now, Izuku cannot fathom.

But still, it’d be rude not to hear him out, so he agrees--following Todoroki down the hallway, in the opposite direction of where he was originally heading. It’s near one of the back entrances, and it’s unlikely that anyone else would be coming out this way.

They stand there for a moment in mutual silence, Izuku shifting his weight awkwardly as Todoroki continues to stare him down. When it becomes apparent that his fellow student isn’t going to start this conversation, Izuku clears his throat.

“So, what did you want to talk to me about?”

The silence continues, and Izuku can’t help but raise a brow--he supposes that Todoroki is trying to intimidate him, considering the last match and those upcoming, but he’s not going to let him get under his skin. Instead, he doesn’t say anything else and just waits for him to speak.

Eventually, he does. “It’s kind of funny, how nobody noticed it. I don’t even think you did, either.”

Izuku furrows his brow, confused as to what Todoroki is referring to. He assumes it has to do with the Cavalry Battle, but he doesn’t know what exactly he was supposed to have noticed.

“Your first attack I was….I wasn’t expecting that kind of power, if I’m being completely honest. I’ve seen you use your quirk before, but that kind of power? I haven’t seen that before.”

He pauses again for a moment, and Izuku tries his best to keep his gaze even and steady, to keep his expression neutral. In the silence between them, Todoroki stares down at his own left hand, more intently than he would for a passing gaze.

Midoriya frowns despite himself. His left….?

Oh.

“When you attacked again I almost….I almost used my left side, despite the promise I made to myself long ago. You ended up using that prosthetic arm, not your quirk. But still, the thought of trying to counter that power you have, it almost made me lose control.”

Izuku….doesn’t know what to say, so he stays silent. An apology of some kind seems appropriate, but he doesn’t know what for. Because Todoroki, he’d be so much powerful had he been using his quirk to its fullest extent. If he had, it’s very likely Izuku and his team would’ve lost.

“You didn’t feel it,” Todoroki continues, seemingly shaking off his own thoughts. “But I needed you to know that I was going to use my left side. I felt that….I would’ve had to, because that type of power, I’ve only ever felt something like that from All Might himself.”

Izuku’s brain whirs, and crumbles to a stop. He blinks again, once, twice--as if that’ll help him better comprehend the words Todoroki is uttering. Because what he’s implying--Izuku knows their quirks are similar, sure, but to think that they have the same level of power--?

“So Midoriya, I have to ask you….”

Izuku holds his breath as the silence stretches out between them, but it's short-lived, Todoroki parting his lips once more--

“Are you actually All Might’s secret love child or something?”

If Izuku had thought he was shocked before, now he can barely think, due to the absurdity of the statement Todoroki just made. After a moment of stilted silence between them, Izuku managing to truly absorb Todoroki’s words, he just can’t help himself--he lets out an obnoxious snort, trying to control himself from falling into a fit of laughter. He, however, doesn’t do a very good job of that. Todoroki just watches him, only looking mildly surprised. He waits patiently as Izuku gathers himself, laughter fading as his lips quirk into a smile.

“No, Todoroki, I’m not All Might’s secret love child.” He tries to keep his tone serious, firm--but it’s rather hard to do so, because really? Really? Izuku even attempts to imagine it, All Might being his father. The hero he’s admired for so long, starstruck the first time he met him--trying to picture this man flipping pancakes before Izuku leaves for school, he almost starts giggling again at the thought.

Not that it wouldn’t be, well. Nice, maybe, even as odd as it seems. But it’s probably just the fact that Izuku didn’t grow up with a dad at all, that the thought of All Might being his actual father is somewhat of a comforting thought.

But it’s just that--a thought. An improbable, impossible, fleeting thought.

Izuku forces the thoughts down, instead watching as fellow student smooths out his face, brow twitching slightly upward. “You might find it outlandish, but even you can’t deny having All Might in your corner. I know you’ve had lunch with him privately, before, and that he’s been training you after school. There’s something there, I know that much.”

“No--I--” Izuku starts, fumbling for his words as his own voice turns serious, the laughter in his tone fading completely. “It’s just that we have similar quirks, that’s all. He offered to train me.”

“All Might has a similar quirk to a lot of students. Anyone with strength augmentation could be considered similar to him.”

That’s, well. Izuku didn’t think of that, not really. But now that Todoroki has mentioned it, he can’t help but wonder why All Might singled him out for extra training. Perhaps Mr Aizawa mentioned something, about how difficult his own quirk is to control? He did mention that specifically when he offered to train him. Even so, he could spend his time training other students as well, but no. It’s always been just Izuku.

“At first,” Todoroki continues, pulling Izuku out of his own head. He’s practically muttering now, but it’s still clear that they’re words Izuku is meant to hear. “I thought that you and Mr Aizawa were related somehow. He’s the only one who knows how to use that capture weapon at the school--besides yourself, of course.”

Now that, that makes Izuku freeze, anxiety crawling under his skin. It’s not like he’s doing anything wrong by training with Mr Aizawa, he knows that. But for others to think that he’s getting preferential treatment, thinking that he didn’t get into this school on his own merit….

“But your quirks aren’t similar at all, and he’s a bit young to be your birth father, isn’t he?”

Izuku doesn’t respond, too focused on containing a sigh of relief that Todoroki doesn’t seem like he’s going to focus on that particular line of thought. He stiffens again, however, when Todoroki meets him with a heated gaze, Izuku trying to stand firm under the weight of his heterochromatic stare.

“So, I thought back to All Might. Even if you aren’t related by blood, you didn’t deny that there’s something going on between you two, did you?”

Izuku stays silent--because he didn’t try to deny that All Might was helping train him, and trying to backtrack now would just be suspicious. So he just accepts his fate and lets Todoroki continue.

“My old man, as I’m sure you know by now, is the pro hero Endeavor. He’s ambitious, but despite that, he’s still the Number Two Hero, never able to best All Might. But that desire to be Number One is still driving him, and he’s still determined to beat All Might one way or another. And if you’re somehow connected to All Might….”

Izuku swallows, lead in his throat. “I’m not sure what you’re getting at, Todoroki.”

Another pause, and for the first time Todoroki averts his gaze, if only for a moment.

“Midoriya….have you ever heard of quirk marriages?

--------

Izuku can’t help staring at the monitor overhead, displaying a (quite literally) larger-than-life image of himself for the thousands of fans in the audience.

An image of himself, and his competitor in this round--Shinsou Hitoshi.

He’s still a bit rattled from his conversation with Todoroki earlier, about the story he told of his own past. Just the mere image of how Endeavor treated his son, his entire family, it made Izuku sick to his stomach. Makes him sick to his stomach. That, and the ludicrous theory Todoroki had told him about who he suspected his own father to be….

But, no. Izuku hasn’t given much thought to his father in years, as his mother has always been there for him. He doesn’t need to let himself become distracted with those thoughts at all, least of all now, when he’s about to fight in the final round of his first Sports Festival.

However, that’s not the only thing on his mind--the conversation he’d had with Ojiro is still weighing on him. He knows what he has to do, he knows how to win. He just has to follow through.

Unfortunately for Izuku, he just can’t manage to keep his mouth shut.

Maybe if he hadn’t had that talk with Todoroki earlier, maybe if he hadn’t been so distracted with thoughts of family and friendship, he wouldn’t have made his outburst. But when Shinsou started to insult Ojiro to Izuku’s face, it set something off inside of him. Something fierce, something near-volatile. So he made a run for his competitor, shouting without thinking.

And because of that carelessness, he finds himself still in his tracks, unable to move despite his incessant need to move move move move keep fighting keep fighting keep--

“Now, do me a favor; turn around and walk out of the ring.”

Despite the contrary screams echoing through his own head, Izuku’s limbs begin to move, carrying him across the field--away from Shinsou, and towards his own damned failure.

If he’d just had more self-control, if he’d just kept his damn mouth shut. Because he knew it was a trap, he knew it was bait. And he still fell for it like a fool.

Berating yourself won’t help you out of this mess, Izuku can’t help but think bitterly to himself, watching as the empty entranceway from which he came grows closer and closer. He stares into the blank darkness of it, forcing his mind to think, dammit, think--I need to figure out how to stop myself!
No one’s going to come help him. It’s either going to be that he figures how to break out of Shinsou’s control, or he’s going to lose.

No other option.

“Is this really going to help?” Izuku asks, raising a brow.

Mr Aizawa just meets him with an even gaze. “Well I can’t be certain, but I think it will. It’s worth trying.”

They’re sitting in his teacher’s basement, the place where they’ve been training for the past year. They’re both seated cross-legged, facing each other. The lights are dimmed, only a few of the bulbs lit rather than the full lights they normally practice under.

“But I don’t understand how meditation will help, there’s no way I’m going to be able to relax in an actual fight!”

“Well, alright. Meditation is probably the wrong word for it. It’s more of a deep concentration--activating your quirk without actually fighting. The idea is to build up that level of focus in a calm environment, and then translate it to a more stressful one, like a fight.”

Izuku is still skeptical that this will work at all--they’ve managed to control his quirk while he’s actively trying to use it, but to harness its power while he’s just sitting there?

“Don’t worry,” Mr Aizawa states, once again meeting his eyes. “I’ll be here to erase your quirk at a moment’s notice, should the need arise.”

Well, Mr Aizawa hasn’t led him astray yet--Izuku genuinely trusts this man. So he nods, closes his eyes, and begins to focus.

Taking as deep of a breath as he can manage, considering the limited control Izuku has over his body, he lets the breath out through his nose and tries to channel that arsenal of power within himself without actually moving his body.

His feet are still walking against his own will, of course, but Izuku himself isn’t moving--it’s more as if he’s a puppet and Shinsou is pulling his strings. As far as his mind can tell, he’s essentially gone limp. So instead he focuses, trying to harness his quirk as he’s done before--because yes, he’s done this before, he knows he can do it--

However, the edge of the ring is growing closer and closer--he wants to panic, wants to allow himself to panic, but he can’t, not now, not when he has to focus--

There! He can feel it, his quirk, can feel the energy coiling within himself, can see the green sparks out of the corner of his eyes--

He focuses it, harnesses it, channels it to his arm, down into one of his fingers--now if he could just release it--

Suddenly, Izuku realizes, he can move again--move under his own control again, that is. He looks around him, sees the destroyed rubble by his feet, sees the edge of the ring….

But he’s still in the ring. And now, he can move.

He turns, watching Shinsou’s expression shift between confusion, then anger, before his lips twist into somewhat of a smirk.

“Of course you’d be able to break free,” he almost sneers, as Izuku walks towards him. “With a quirk like that, of course you’ll become a hero.”

Izuku says nothing. The anger returns to Shinsou’s face.

“You were born lucky, born with a quirk like that--you’ve been blessed, but I’ll always be at a disadvantage with a quirk like this!”

Izuku he….he wants to talk to Shinsou, to properly discuss this with him, but now isn’t the time. If he talks now, he’s fucked.

So he keeps going--keeps running--

“I’m sure you’ve never had to--”

The boy’s words are cut off with a stifled gasp as Izuku meets Shinsou’s chest with his forearm, shoving it against him as he begins to push with the entire force of his body. And it--it’s working, he knows he’s overpowering Shinsou, knows he can push him out, he just has to keep going--

“Say something, dammit!”

A sharp, biting sting across his face--he can feel the blood dripping from his nose and he wants to cry out from the pain of it, but he manages to bite his tongue. Because that’s not--that’s not what’s concerning him, what’s concerning him is the desperation in his competitor’s voice. He can tell how much Shinsou wants this, how much he wants to prove himself, how much he has to prove to others, to those who have so clearly doubted him from the start.

But Izuku has a lot to prove, as well. And he’s not going to let himself back down.

So instead, he activates his quirk properly now, letting it ignite his limbs--with a sharp kick, he lands a hit in Shinsou’s side, and watches as the boy tumbles out of the ring.

It’s unnervingly quiet for just a moment, but it barely lasts a second. Soon enough, the stadium erupts into a chorus of chaotic cheers as Midnight declares Izuku the winner.

And yes he’s proud--of course he’s proud, that he managed to win. But seeing the look on Shinsou’s face as he clambers to his feet, dusting himself off….Izuku can barely bring himself to smile.

--------

Again, Shouta finds himself in Recovery Girl's office with Midoriya. This time, however, he finds himself to be a bit more sympathetic about the situation.

"I really didn't mean to, this time," Midoriya states. The sheepish look on his face is rather surprising to Shouta, considering how indignant he'd been the last time.

Maybe he's actually learning. Shouta can only hope.

However, the kid is right. While he really still shouldn't have broken his fingers yet again, it seemed like the jolt from the energy he expelled was the only thing that was going to break Shinsou's hold on him.

"I know you didn't mean to," Shouta says. "But you still have to be more careful."

"I know."

Shouta hums, but doesn't say any more. They sit in mutual silence while Recovery Girl comes to heal Izuku--mostly just his nose, he's adamant about keeping up his stamina, so she leaves his fingers bandaged for now.

After she's done chastising the both of them, Midoriya again apologizing to her for the second time that day, they begin to head back into the main part of the stadium.

"Y'know," Midoriya starts as they walk together through the hallway. "You're right."

"Oh?" Shouta drawls, raising an eyebrow. The kid snorts. "What about?"

"The entrance exam, it's....not fair. At all. With a powerful quirk like that, Shinsou should've made it into the hero course."

Shouta can't help it. He smiles at Midoriya's words, reaching out to ruffle the kid's hair for half a second. "Well, it's definitely not too late. It wasn't for me, and I doubt it will be for him."

Midoriya looks up, blinking once before matching Shouta's own grin.

It's then, that Shouta begins to feel the ground shake beneath his feet. The kid must notice it too, of course, smile dropping as he frowns down towards the floor.

"An earthquake?" he asks.

"Possibly. But it's more likely...."

He was about to finish with it’s more likely someone's quirk, when a quick look at the TV monitor down the end of the hallway confirms his suspicion. One of the cameras is showing an overhead view of the field, capturing a literal mountain of ice, that could've only been created by Todoroki. At the bottom of it, he sees Sero, obviously immobilized within the ice.

"Seems like a bit much," Shouta mutters under his breath. He looks towards Midoriya beside him, who's staring at the TV screen with wide eyes. He thinks back to the bracket, and he remembers why the kid looks so damn nervous.

"Just do your best, that's all you can do," Shouta states. He wants all of his students to do well of course, but he can see how tough of a match this is going to be for Midoriya. Even without that blatant display of power, Shouta already knows how strong Todoroki is.

And he suspects Midoriya does too.

The kid doesn't say anything for a moment, just continues to stare at the screen as Hizashi blares on about Todoroki's attack, while the crowd offers their sympathies to Sero, still cheering him on.

Eventually, as the program cuts to a commercial break, presumably while the staff begins to clean up the mess Todoroki made of the arena. The look Midoriya has on his face is one of his odd ones--he's usually so expressive, but right now his face is nearly unreadable.

"He talked to me, earlier. After the Cavalry Battle."

"Yeah?" Shouta raises a brow. It’s a bit surprising that he did so--even Shouta can see how Todoroki keeps to himself, and purposely so. He was the same way after all, until Hizashi shoved his way into his life their second year. He can't fathom why he would've been talking with Midoriya--something about the Festival, sure, but Shouta can’t imagine what Todoroki would’ve had to say.

However, judging by the way Midoriya is deliberately avoiding his gaze, awkwardly shifting his weight between his feet, Shouta can already tell that the kid isn’t going to be very forthcoming about the details of their conversation.

"Yeah I....shouldn't repeat most of it, it was pretty personal."

Okay. That's fair. "You would tell me if it was something pertinent, correct? I want to respect his privacy, but I'm still his teacher."

Finally, the kid looks up, blinking. "I--yeah, of course."

Shouta nods. "Good."

Another beat passes, and Shouta hears the kid take in a sharp breath.

"He did, uh, something kinda odd to me, though."

Shouta says nothing, leaving space for the kid to speak as he seems to be struggling with placing his words. He lets out a dry laugh--which is mildly shocking, considering how nervous he seems. Even stranger, his blank face turns to a crooked grin.

"He, well. He told me that he thought you were my dad, actually."

Shouta blinks, brain whirring to a near-halt. He spares a glance towards Midoriya, who's still smiling. Shouta’s higher processing functions seem to have stalled, and he can't think of a properly responds other than a dumb, really? However, he's saved from having to form a coherent reply, as the kid begins to speak again.

"I guess he thought because we were training together, and because I know how to use your capture weapon since, well....but it's still okay that we train together, right?"

That, at least, Shouta can answer. "Yes, it's still okay, don't worry."

"Okay, good."

The continue walking down the hallway, soon reaching the stairwell where they'll need to part ways, Midoriya probably returning to the stands while Shouta makes his way back to the announcer's booth.

Before Shouta can wish him luck, the kid laughs again, this time with actual humor in his tone.

"Y'know, he did say that, but that wasn’t really what he wanted to ask me. What he really wanted to say is that he thinks All Might is my dad."

Again the kid laughs, which is good because Shouta doesn't think he'll be able to talk with the way his blood has frozen over in his veins. Before he can start to panic panic panic about the fact that one of his students seems to know one of All Might's greatest secrets, the kid smiles up at him again.

"Can you believe that? He thought because we trained together those few times, and he thinks our quirks are similar. I mean, they're not even that similar, right?"

Shouta blinks, helplessly. He's minutely relieved that Todoroki clearly doesn't actually know anything, and Midoriya obviously doesn't suspect anything--he doesn't think the kid would find the situation nearly as humorous, if he did.

"He doesn't have to use his quirk in intervals." Shouta can feel how stilted and stiff his own voice sounds, practically forcing the words out of the back of his throat, but if the kid notices, he doesn't say anything. He just chuckles again, still smiling.

"Exactly! That's what I told him. It was just....so crazy, right? That he would think that?"

He manages a nod, but that seems to be enough for Midoriya. He shakes his head, and points a thumb back towards the stairs behind him.

"Well, I....should get going. To go prepare."

Again he nods. "Good luck, Midoriya."

He smiles, thanking him and turning to run up the stairs. Once he's gone, Shouta lets out a heaving sigh, shaking his own head.

Holy shit. These damn kids.

--------

“Ah, I was looking for you.”

Izuku freezes in his steps, already knowing who is calling his name based on how the hallway he’s currently in seems to have suddenly grown significantly hotter within the past few seconds. He turns, slowly, and faces the burning man towering over him.

“Endeavor,” Izuku states, evenly. The man raises a brow, then smirks.

“I was watching your match against the brainwashing kid--the power you were able to expel from your fingertips is certainly impressive.”

Izuku….doesn’t know how to respond--he doesn’t know what Endeavor wants from him, so he says nothing. Simply his attention seems to be good enough for the man, as he continues on without waiting for a reply.

“As impressive as it was, what was more impressive was how your team managed to defeat my Shouto during the Cavalry Battle.”

So is that what this is about? That he beat Todoroki, Endeavor’s son? If he’s mad, he doesn’t seem it. He’s still smirking as he stares Izuku down, and his posture conveys more confidence than it does anything else. Izuku keeps his face passive and lets the man continue.

“Considering how….similar your quirk is to All Might’s, this next battle will be a good challenge for him. He is attending this school to surpass the Number One Hero, after all. Be sure to hit him hard.”

Izuku’s lips part slightly, nearly caught dumbstruck by the statement. Because he knows what Todoroki said to him, about his father. But for this man to so utterly imply that he’s using his child for his own personal gain?

It’s unacceptable.

“That’s all. So sorry to bother you.”

“Just because you want to surpass All Might, doesn’t mean that your son wants to.”

The words have left Izuku’s lips before he even realizes what he’s doing. Endeavor, already having turned to leave, now glares back towards him. And now….

Now he’s angry.

But, well. Izuku’s already completely shoved his own foot into his mouth, so he might as well keep going.

“In no way am I All Might, and in no way is Todoroki you. He’s not your property, he’s allowed to have his own goals for his own life.”

A grunt is the only response Izuku gets--that, and the flames pouring out of the man are significantly hotter, so much so that it’s causing Izuku to sweat, even from this distance. But he ignores it, forcing himself to maintain this heated gaze for just a moment longer.

“Enjoy the Festival.”

Without waiting to see if Endeavor has a reply this time, Izuku turns and makes his way back up towards the stands, and to his classmates.

--------

"Do you really think you can win this?"

Izuku can't help it--he smirks back in response to Todoroki's deadpan statement. His competitor so sure of himself--and why shouldn't he be? Not only is his quirk immensely powerful, but he himself is a strong fighter regardless of his quirk.

But, that doesn't mean that Izuku isn't going to give it his all.

"We'll see, won't we?"

Todoroki doesn't respond; he just deepens his frown, gaze turning into a sharp glare. Izuku smiles.

Midnight calls the match, and immediately Todoroki is on the offensive--but that's okay, that's what Izuku was expecting.

As soon as the onslaught of ice approaches, he whips out his right foot into a kick, making contact and smashing the ice as soon as it tries to hit. He ends up clearing a circle around him, the rest of it still forming in his wake on either side. It's not as much as there’d been with Sero, earlier, but it's still enough that had he not defended, it would’ve been over for sure.

Todoroki doesn't hesitate with a second attack--Izuku barely has enough time to recover before Todoroki is launching another path of ice. This time, he's not going for size and mass; rather, a thin path that's clearly meant to encase his feet and immobilize him. Thankfully, Izuku is able to see this and act quickly. With a burst of speed from his quirk he's able to rush across the ring and out of the way of the ice.

"You might be fast," Todoroki says. "But it won't matter if you can't get close enough to hit me."

Izuku says nothing--instead, he just charges. He knows it's going to fail, however, but it's more of a test to see how close he can actually get.

When Todoroki sends another attack, this time he jumps, high over the near-mountain of ice. He, however, had less stamina than he’d thought. He won't be able to land with his quirk--instead he ends up sliding down the side of the ice, making a less than graceful landing. He’ll have some bruised knees, but nothing major.

What's more important is that he evaded the attack, and that he's still in the ring.

He also knows now, how close he can really get to Todoroki. The answer is, well. Not very.

"You won't win by dodging and defending," Todoroki states, now glaring at him from across the arena. Izuku just grins.

"And you won't win if you can't land a hit on me!"

The other boy's lips turn into a frown, and instead of a reply, he sends another wave of ice towards him.

Again, Izuku dodges. More ice, and this time he defends, smashing it to bits in front of him.

"You won't last long like this," Todoroki says. "I know about your quirk, Midoriya. You're going to run out of stamina soon, aren't you?"

He's right, of course he's right and of course Todoroki would've caught on. It's not exactly something Izuku can keep a secret from any keen onlooker--and Todoroki is certainly smarter than he lets on.

Izuku, again, doesn't reply--he has to focus on not getting hit, and--

Shit--!

This time, he's not as quick as he needs to be--the ice knicks his cheek but what actually makes him cry out is the ice that cuts into his scar--the scar on his right shoulder, where he--

Where--

He clutches it, gritting through the deep, burning pain--he hasn't had a flare-up like this in at least a year, but with the agitation on his scar tissue, the phantom pain of his wound is back, and it's almost unbearable.

But he has to bear it. He has to.

His compression sock, now, is tattered and shredded--he rips it off with a fierce grimace, as it's doing more harm than good now, just agitating the open wound. He watches as Todoroki's eyes widen, obviously staring at the mangled scar tissue.

"Don't worry, my arm was already missing--that wasn't you," Izuku says, bringing himself to a half-smile.

His opponent blinks, momentarily dropping from his fighting stance. With a smirk, Izuku takes his opportunity--he runs to the large piece of ice closest to Todoroki's left side, and sends shards flying with a quirk-enhanced kick.

Todoroki, of course, doesn't activate his left side, and is again thrown off by the attack.

Dropping his quirk Izuku runs at normal speed, only reactivating his power just in time to slam his foot into Todoroki's chest, sending him flying.

He knows he should've followed up with another attack--he didn't put his full power into it, risk breaking one of Todoroki's ribs. Because of that, the one attack isn't enough, and his opponent is able to catch himself with a wall of ice just before he would've otherwise fallen out of bounds.
But Izuku, he can't--he has to drop his quirk, or risk overloading himself, risk losing control. So instead he watches as Todoroki recovers, watches as he stares him down once more.

"You must be in incredible pain, with a wound like that on scar tissue."

Well, he's not wrong--the pain is severe, definitely, but it's been dulled somewhat by his own adrenaline. He doesn't even want to think about how it's going to feel after the fight--

But he can't focus on that, can't focus on the blood pooling and dripping off of his shoulder. Instead, he just wipes some of it away and meets Todoroki with a grin.

"You would know, wouldn't you? About scars? About pain?"

He knows it's biting, a remark like that, but that's the point. This entire time, he hasn't been able to stop thinking about what Todoroki had said to him earlier--about his father, about his mother.

He just....

He can't help but want to--

Izuku clears his head in an instant, instead focusing on maneuvering his way around Todoroki's next attack--it's bigger, this time, Izuku can tell. He's angry.

Good.

"You said you were going to beat me, but you've barely landed a hit!" Another attack, another dodge, another close call. This time he slips on an already-formed patch of ice, but manages to catch himself before Todoroki can take advantage of his falter.

“Do you really think you can beat me, only using half your power?" He's shouting now, Izuku is--he can feel it in his throat, how raw he must sound--but he can barely hear anything between the roaring of the crowd, the ringing in his own ears, and his determination to focus only on Todoroki's voice.

"Do you think you can win, when you're clearly about to be out of power?"

Fair--but this isn't about Izuku, not really. He's not going to let it be.

"You're going to tell me about my power, when you won't even accept your own?!"

Again, Todoroki is shocked still--but this time, Izuku doesn't attack. Partly because he needs the time to properly recover, partly because he can't control the words spilling past his lips.

"It's your power, Todoroki! Yours, not his!"

This time, Todoroki does attack, but still with that same hesitation. Again he’s nearly hit, but Izuku still manages to land on his feet, if barely.

"You don't know what you're talking about." His fists are firm at his sides, now, and he's seething as he glares down Izuku through narrowed eyes. "You couldn't possibly know what you're talking about!"

Izuku smiles. He can't help himself. "You're right, I don't know. I don't have a father, I've never met the man. But I have people who believe in me, still. And I believe in you, Todoroki, whether you do or not."

His eyes widen, now, and for a moment he looks like he's completely forgotten the fight, too shocked by Izuku's words. He just keeps smiling, and barrelling through.

"I wasn't born like this, you know that?" Izuku states, gesturing to his right side. "This was a result of my quirk--my quirk destroyed my arm. I can't use my right side! But you--you're so powerful, Todoroki, and you're not going to use your full power? Because of him?"

"You--you don't, you couldn't possibly--"

"I don't," he states, firm. "I don't know. But I do know that it's your power, Todoroki. Make it your own!"

There's a moment, a pause, where the world around them seems to fade, the cheers and shouts from the crowd sounding tinny in Izuku's ears. Todoroki is still looking at him, but his eyes are almost glassed over--he's staring, but he doesn't appear to be seeing.

It lasts seconds, if that--no time at all, but Izuku feels as if time is swimming around him, entrapped by the expression Todoroki is wearing.

Soon enough, that look of bewilderment drops from his face, and Izuku's own eyes are showered in bright light as the stadium lights up before him, flames rising from his left side.

"Thank you, Midoriya.”

Izuku grins, determination igniting his veins as he can feel the power of his quirk returning to him. He wipes at the blood staining his cheek, and drops to the ready.

"Now come at me with everything you've got!"

He does.

--------

It's not until later, that Izuku finds out the result of the fight.

He lost, but he figured that much--considering he'd blacked out right after Todoroki's final blow.
Besides that, by the time he's excited Recovery Girl's office for the third time that day, the final match is already over.

"Deku!"

Barely out the door, Izuku turns, and smiles when he sees Uraraka and Asui jogging towards him.

"I'm glad you're alright--that fight was crazy!" Uraraka states as she tackles him into a hug. Izuku moves to return it, but she abruptly releases him before he can probably hug her back.

"Oh, I'm sorry Deku! I shouldn't have done that, you're probably hurt, aren't you?"

He just laughs, waving her off. "I was, yeah, but I'm pretty much okay now, just tired."

Her and Asui both nod, and move to continue walking down the hallway. "You did amazing though, Deku!"

Again, he laughs. "Thanks, you did too!"

She chuckles in return. "You already said that earlier, in the waiting room. And besides, I still lost."

Izuku shrugs, offering a half-grin. "So did I."

She smiles at that as they round the corner. He's not really sure where they're going--to the main arena, he assumes.

"Oh yeah," he starts. "They're doing awards, right? Who won?"

"Bakugou, actually," Asui says. "Todoroki came in second, while Iida and Tokoyami tied for third."

"Wow, that's great for Iida!" Izuku says, Uraraka furiously nodding and smiling beside him. "And Bakugou won...."

He's not shocked, necessarily, that Kacchan beat Todoroki. He personally would've thought Todoroki to come out on top, especially considering their own battle, how he did give it his all. But if he didn't, then well....

By they time the three of them enter the stadium and catch up to the rest of the students, the winner podiums begin to rise, revealing Tokoyami, Todoroki, and Kacchan.

Kacchan, however....

"Uh," Izuku starts, watching as Kacchan thrashes in his chains. "Why is he....?"

"He's....well. Todoroki didn't use his fire, so he thinks he didn't properly win." Uraraka says, watching with a cautious, almost bewildered expression that probably matches Midoriya's own.

And yeah, okay. Knowing Kacchan, this seems like an appropriate reaction.

But Todoroki didn't use his left side. Did he not--?

His internal monologue is cut off, however, when Izuku realizes that one of the spots on the podium is missing. "Wait where's Iida?"

"Oh, right," Uraraka says, tone turning somber. "He ended up having to leave early, said there was a family emergency.

At her words, Izuku's heart sinks.

“Did he say who it was? Or what happened?”

She shakes her head, not meeting Izuku’s eyes, and seemingly having forgotten the awards ceremony in front of him. He can hear All Might’s booming laugh, can hear him addressing both the crowd and the students, and Izuku finds himself tuning the hero out, instead focusing on his friend beside him.

“He….he didn’t say. But he looked very worried.”

Izuku knows how much Iida cares for his family, especially his brother. His brother, who’s still an active pro….

As he and his fellow classmates watch All Might hand out the awards to the winners, Izuku only feels his chest tighten with worry for his friend, hoping that he, and his family, are going to be alright.

Chapter Text

“Toshi! Stop it!” Inko nearly chokes on her own laughter, tears threatening at the corner of her eyes. Toshinori had been doing a rather accurate impression of one of the boys from his class--Todoroki. She’d never met the boy before, but had seen him at the Sports Festival along with Toshi’s endless stories about the guy.

She really doesn’t like to mock people, especially other students, but, well…

Todoroki deserves it, really.

Toshinori, still laughing himself, moved to grab some of her fries. She swats at his hand, but he still manages to snag a few, grinning widely as he did so.

They’re supposed to be studying--Inko told Toshinori that she could help him with his English essay--but they’ve spent more time talking and laughing over their burgers and fries at the American-style diner than they had actually working.

“I like it when you call me Toshi.”

Inko looks up from her notebook, cocking her head slightly. He’s still grinning at her, but it’s not the same boisterous one from before. “Huh?”

He shrugs. “I like it when you call me Toshi. I’ve never really liked Toshinori that much.”

“Really? It’s so pretty!” she exclaims. He looks down, blush rising faintly on his cheeks, and she throws a fry at him. He sputters, and she giggles. “If you could pick your own name, what would it be?”

“...Huh?”

She rolls her eyes, but it’s not unkind. “You’ve never thought about it? I like Inko enough, but I’ve sometimes thought about what it would be if I had picked my own name. I always thought Hitomi might be nice.”

“Inko is better,” Toshinori says, almost absentmindedly, and Inko’s heart beats just a little bit faster. “But I mean, I guess I’ve thought about it.”

“Well?”

“Well, what?”

Again she rolls her eyes, smiling. “Well, what would you pick?”

He pauses for a minute, long fingers rubbing at his chin. “I’ve always really liked Izuku,” he ponders. “Better than Toshinori, anyways.”

Her smile brightens. “Izuku is nice,” she says, tapping her pen against her notebook. “But Toshinori is better.”

Toshinori sticks his tongue out at her, and this time show throws the pen at him. This one he catches victoriously, his smile cheeky. Giggling, she moves to takes another bite of her burger--definitely not so she can hide her own blush--and they begin working once more.

--------

"Thank you for meeting with me."

Gran Torino doesn't reply, just raises a brow at him over his mug. Toshinori averts his gaze, wrapping his large hands around his own mug as he takes a careful sip.

They're in Gran Torino's house--he would've rather met somewhere on neutral ground, like a coffee shop. But, Toshinori is too recognizable now and he doesn't want to be swarmed by fans while they have this conversation.

The place is the same as he remembers it, from about seven years ago--he remembers having his first internship here, with his homeroom teacher at the time. It was an atypical situation, usually teachers don't take on internship students. However, Gran Torino had made a special request, to train him personally.

Well, really it was Nana who made that request, but well....

"So, what is it that you wanted to talk about?"

Toshinori clears his throat more than a bit awkwardly, which earns him a sidelong glance from Gran Torino.

"I, uh. Well, I know we haven't spoken since--since Nana, well...."

He doesn't say since Nana passed, but Gran Torino gets the message judging by the way he gruffs, nodding his own head.

"I just....I probably should've told you this earlier, but I....I have a kid."

Gran Torino blinks, so close to actually looking shocked. "You what?"

"I have a child. A kid."

A beat of silence, to which Gran Torino absently stirs his coffee. "Well, the news outlets haven't caught on, clearly."

"I know. I don't--I'm not in his life."

Again Gran Torino raises a brow. "You gave him up?" It's not accusatory, for which Toshinori is thankful. He just seems honestly curious.

"It's....complicated. The boy's mother--I knew her from school. We were friends, but one night we, uh," Toshinori coughs, and Gran Torino rolls his eyes. He doesn't say anything, however, so Toshinori continues.

"She sent me a letter, since I left immediately....after, that night." He forces down the lump in his throat, the memory of what he did still making him run hot with shame. Not the night itself, but that morning--he should've stayed, he should've said something to Inko, but no. He chose to be a coward, and now he has to live with it.

"And she's sure it's yours?"

Toshinori nods.

"How old's the kid?"

"I'm not sure exactly. About a year, likely."

Gran Torino frowns. "Do you even know his birthday?"

"I....no. I haven't actually talked to his mother, since then. I only know because of the letter she sent me."

"And did you ever reply?"

A heavy pause followed by a heavy breath from Toshinori. "No."

Gran Torino grunts, staring into his own mug. "Christ, Toshinori. Does she know that you're All Might?"

"She knows that I'm a pro hero. But I've never told her my identity."

"Well, let's hope that she's stupid enough not to realize."

Toshinori bristles at the slight, mouth opening to defend Inko, when Gran Torino holds up his hands in an attempt to placate him. "I didn't mean it like that, I'm just saying. If she knows who you are, and knows that you're the father to her child? You're rising through the lengths steadily, who knows what she might want from you."

Toshinori frowns, anger threatening to seep through into his words, but he tries his best to calm himself. "No. No, she's not like that. She wouldn't do something like that."

His former teacher grunts, shrugging. "Alright, fine. I'll take your word for it. But only because this isn't like you--you wouldn't go about this with someone who you don't genuinely care for."

Well, he's not wrong. Despite how long it's been since he's talked to Inko, his own feelings haven't changed. He sighs again. "No, I wouldn't."

"So why are you telling me now, all of a sudden?"

"I, well," Toshinori starts, scratching vacantly at his own wrist. "At first I thought I was doing the right thing, by choosing not to be in his life. But now I'm not so sure. I'm worried it's selfish of me, to not be there for him. The reason I chose to stay away was to try and protect him, to keep him safe. But now I....I'm just not sure."

A long silence stretches between the two of them, only interrupted by the groaning of Gran Torino's old refrigerator and the traffic outside. Slowly, his former teacher moves to take a long sip of his drink and meets Toshinori with a raised brow.

"What makes you think I would know what you should do? I don't have any kids, after all."

"Yes, but I--with Nana gone, I don't have anyone else to ask."

"What about your sidekick, there. Nighteye?"

Toshinori grimaces. "He's a great partner, but I'm not sure if this is something I want to share with him."

Another pause, and Gran Torino's face scrunches up into a sour expression. "Alright. This isn't something that I wanted to tell you about. Mostly because Nana didn't want me to--but fuck it. You need to know."

Toshinori blinks, feeling his own brow furrow. "Tell me what?"

Gran Torino sighs, moving to rise from his seat and towards the pot of coffee left on the counter. As he pours, back turned to Toshinori, he speaks.

"Nana, she had a kid herself. And she, too, gave him up. Her husband….he was killed, so she brought her child to foster care as a way to protect him. She made me promise her never to contact him, even if the worst were to happen to her.”

With the feeling of ice crawling through his veins, Toshinori freezes still at the other man's words. Nana, she....she had a kid. A kid of her own. That she--

She--

"Don't ask who he is, because I don't know," Torino grunts, returning to his seat. He's scowling, but his eyes are darkened with something other than anger. "It was years ago, now. Years before she even met you. Kid's probably grown up now, might even have a family of his own."

It's shocking--more than shocking, to hear something like this....but then again, is it really? He would've liked to think that he knew Nana, but how well could he have really known her, to not have known something like this.

His mentor, his old master, the one who gave him a chance to be a hero, she….she had a child. A family, one that Toshinori never knew about.

The woman he thought of akin to his own mother--

And she too, chose to give up her son--

And what’s more, it was for the same reasons Toshinori himself chose not to be in Izuku’s life--she gave up her son in hopes of protecting him, in hopes of keeping him safe. To think what she must've been going through, to have--

"I'm not saying that you should do the same thing she did," Gran Torino says, cutting off Toshinori's own internal thoughts. "But that was the choice she made, all those years ago. Around the same time in her own life as you did, just before she really started to become a hero."

They sit like that, in steeped silence--for how long, Toshinori doesn't know. It's when Gran Torino rises, moving towards his freezer that Toshinori himself gets up.

"I--thank you, Gran Torino, for telling me."

He grunts again, but when he turns from the fridge to the counter, Toshinori catches a glimpse of a small smile on the man's lips.

"Get going, now. I'm sure you have better things to do than talking with an old man like me."

Toshinori lets out a dry chuckle, getting out of his seat and moving towards the door.

"Thank you, again. Really."

There's no response, just the whirring of the microwave. Toshinori allows himself a small smile and slips through the door.

--------

Inko blinks at the TV, frowning as the national news station blares in front of her. The anchors are chatting animatedly, if a bit heated, but she’s not listening to them, she’s only focused on the headline schooling across the bottom of the screen.

‘ALL MIGHT TO BEGIN TEACHING CAREER AT U.A.’

Briefly, she glances down the hall--Izuku’s door is slightly cracked open, having left early this morning for a run. The familiar name placard stares back at her.
She sighs, turning back towards the TV. Did he read the news this morning? He still has a few months before the examination, but he must be overjoyed at the mere possibility of being taught by All Might himself.

And she’s happy for him, happy that her son will be happy, of course.

But…

“Oh, Toshi,” she mutters to an empty living room. “You never made things easy, did you?"

For a brief moment, Inko considers reaching out--but then again, how would she even do that? Walk into his hero agency and ask to speak to him?

Well….there’s a chance, that if he heard it was her looking for him, he might actually speak to her.

But then again....

To this day, Inko doesn't blame Toshi for not being a part in Izuku's life. A child was something that neither of them were expecting, and while Inko wouldn't give Izuku up for anything in the world when she's so thankful every single day for his existence....she understands why Toshinori couldn't be apart of his life.

She remembers when Izuku was seven and in the hospital, when she'd been sitting at his bedside with tear-stained cheeks, they were watching the news together--coverage about the disappearance of All Might.

"He'll be back," Izuku had said, smiling despite his recent surgery, despite the bandages covering his right side, despite the utter pain he must be in. "No way is Toxic Chainsaw going to keep All Might down. He's the greatest hero in the world!"

"He really is," Inko muttered, grasping Izuku's left hand between her own.

Sure enough, All Might did return to the public eye--much to Izuku's utter delight. But her son hadn't been worried--he'd been certain that All Might would return. And so he did.

But even now, Inko can't help but wonder--would Izuku have felt the same, would he have had that same, vigorous certainty that Toshinori would've returned had he known that the hero is really the boy's own father? Would he have not spent hours upon hours worrying about the man every time he went out on patrol?

Perhaps he would've gotten used to it--many pro heroes have children of their own, after all. But considering how much her son worries whenever Inko so much as has a cold….she just isn't sure.

She did consider telling him, at one point. But by the time where he was old enough that he could truly understand the situation, Izuku had already latched on to All Might as his own personal idol. And considering everything he'd been through--first being deemed quirkless, then his injury from his latent quirk....

Had she told him too young, he would've likely told his classmates and been teased relentlessly--he doubts any of the kids would've believed him had he said All Might is his father without any proof. Especially since they all thought him quirkless at the time.

But then his injury, and the healing, and struggling with his own quirk--there was just never a good time, had Inko even been certain that she wanted to tell him.

But now, especially--would he actually believe her? Not that she thinks her own son believes her to be a liar, but to tell him something like that completely out of the blue?

More than that, however, what good would it even do? Just to have Izuku feel as if his own father--his hero, All Might, would have abandoned him....

Maybe now, after training with Aizawa and aiming for U.A., he would understand--understand why All Might did what he did. But still....

She sighs, clicking off the TV and heading towards her own room. Once there she opens the closet, reaching for an old, worn box on the top shelf.

Sitting atop her bed she opens the box, staring at its contents for a few minutes before digging through.

On top are a few pieces of Izuku's clothing from when he was younger--the hat he had worn home from the hospital, a few old bibs and shirts Inko had chosen to save. The most notable is definitely his All Might onesie. She smiles down at it, feeling at the soft, worn fabric between her fingers.

It's her favorite version of his costume, Inko has to admit. He always looked good in red.

Below the clothes are stacks of pictures. They're of Izuku of course, ranging from when he was a newborn to about when he was eleven, having then moved on to taking pictures digitally.

It's not often that she looks through these, which is evident by the later of dust covering the box. She's always been sentimental, but going through the older pictures tends to make her a bit more sad than she'd usually like. Seeing him happy and healthy at ages two and three, running around the house and the park with an All Might action figure in each of his hands, always wanting to play hero....

She doesn't know how long she ends up sitting there at the edge of her bed, having lost herself in these pictures she so rarely looks at. The pictures they have hanging around the house are much more recent, but these older ones, they don't see much daylight.

When she reaches the bottom of the box she frowns, pulling out a faded, brown envelope. She pulls the pictures out, and it's a small stack--maybe twenty at most. And they're definitely not of Izuku.

They're...of her. Her, Mitsuki, Ayame--

And Toshi.

There's a few of just the three of them, likely from early middle school. But then there are the ones with Toshi, smiling his soft, small smile. He was always camera-shy, but the few that he's actually in....

Shuffling through them she finds one of just the two of them--a poorly taken selfie in her childhood bedroom, her and Toshi caught mid-laughter. She smiles down on it fondly, taking in the picture for a moment before flipping to the next one--

As soon as she sees it, her breath catches in her throat, tears almost immediately threatening the corner of her eyes. She'd nearly forgotten about this picture--it was right after her graduation party, when Toshi had shown up unannounced but more than welcome. She'd insisted on taking a picture, having not seen him in person for so many years. So she dug out her own camera and snapped a shot of him smiling, ever so gently, bright blue eyes glistening in the low light of her room. After taking a single shot she'd tossed the camera aside and they....

Well.

She continues looking through those few photos from her childhood, but flipping through them she always seems to linger on that same one of Toshinori. Toshi, who'll be teaching at U.A. this coming semester. Who'll be teaching Izuku if he gets into the school.

Should she...?

"Mom? I'm home!"

Hastily she slips the pictures back into the envelope and shoves it under the duvet. It's only a moment later that Izuku walks in, obviously tired from his workout but smiling all the same.

"What're you doing?" he asks, eyeing the pictures that litter the bed. "Wow, I didn't know you kept all of this stuff."

She scoffs. "Of course I did, I'd never get rid of any pictures of you."

He rolls his eyes, but he's still grinning as he picks through the photos, before noticing the onesie Inko had placed on the other side of the bed.

"This, too. I can't believe you still have this," Izuku says, picking the clothing up and holding it out in front of himself. Inko smiles as she gently takes it from him, holding it with both her hands so Izuku can examine it properly.

"Besides it having been your favorite, I made it for you, after all. I wouldn't throw away something like that."

Izuku chuckles, fingers tracing over the 'bunny ears' attached to the hood as Inko places it into his lap. "I'm surprised it hasn't fallen apart, with how much I worn it."

This time its Inko who laughs. "You'd barely let me wash the darn thing, let alone stitch the holes clothes!"

"Yeah, I remember when it wouldn't fit anymore, I was devastated!"

Again she laughs. "You really were."

They sit there for a moment, quietly looking through the scattered pictures. Quickly however, Izuku perks up, blinking.

"Oh! Did you hear the news? All Might is going to be teaching at U.A next semester!"

Inko smiles, and hopes it doesn't look as shaky as it feels. "That's great news, Izuku!"

He nods furiously, eyes bright with blatant hope. "Yeah! If I get in, he'll probably be one of my teachers! Won't that be amazing, getting to be taught by All Might himself?"

"Of course, that'd be so amazing for you," Inko says, but it's only a second before Izuku's smile drops, eyebrows crinkling together.

"Wait, what's wrong Mom, why are you crying?"

Oh. Is she? Inko brings up her hand to rub at her eyes, and sure enough, they come away wet. She laughs, and it's almost a broken sound. Before Izuku can say anything else she pulls him into a tight hug.

"I'm just so happy for you, Izuku. You're getting the chance to follow your dreams, and it's just so wonderful to see."

"Aw, Mom, now you're gonna make me cry! I haven't even taken the entrance exam yet."

She smiles into his shoulder, feeling his left arm wrap around her. "Either way, I'm just so proud of you."

A moment's pause, before a soft, "Thank you, Mom," is drawn from Izuku's lips, his arm pulling her tight against him.

Chapter Text

“I reached out to someone. About One for All.”

At the other teacher’s words, Shouta glances around the teacher’s lounge but thankfully All Might is smart enough not to be talking about his and Midoriya’s quirk in front of an audience.

There was no class today, seeing that it’s Saturday. Shouta and All Might had come in, as they both wanted to look over some of the offers their students have received for prospective internships. Lucky for them, no other teachers seem to have any work to catch up on.

(Not to mention, Recovery Girl wanted to give him a final treatment today but he’d rather wait until after, so he’s not looking over these papers while he’s completely exhausted.)

“Did you?” Shouta asks as they sit at each of their own desks, side by side. He turns to his left to grab at the cat-printed pen Hizashi is always stealing from him and begins to idly shuffle through his papers, more intent on listening to All Might at the current moment.

“Yes, I did. I sent him a letter but he hasn’t gotten back to me yet.”

“A letter?” Shouta snorts, and he can practically feel All Might rolling his eyes at him.

“Yes, a letter. We don’t--we haven’t spoken recently so I figured that’d be best.”

Shouta hums, eyes scanning over the massive list of offers for Todoroki. Between him and Bakugou they seem to have received more than the entire class put together, with Todoroki still having a substantially longer list. Iida, Tokoyami, and Midoriya both received a fair amount as well.

“How do you even know this man? And how does he know about One for All?”

Silence falls over them for a moment, long enough that Shouta eventually looks up and over towards All Might, who has his own gaze averted, seemingly staring out into nothing.

“He--he was my old homeroom teacher, for a year. And he was also a close friend of my own master.”

Shouta blinks. “Your master?”

All Might nods, now meeting Shouta’s eyes. “Yes. She was the one who passed One for All on to me.”

He nods. “And she….?”

Again, the other hero looks away. “She passed. Years ago.”

“....I’m sorry.”

All Might plasters on a smile, but the look in his eyes betrays him. “It’s alright. As I said, it was a while ago.”

Shouta wants to remind him that just because something happened long ago, doesn’t mean that it can’t still hurt. But he feels All Might knows this, despite what he may say, and Shouta lets the subject drop.

“So, who is this man? I assume he’s a pro himself?”

“Yes. Well, mostly retired now. His name is Gran Torino.”

The name sounds almost familiar, but not enough that Shouta can place a face or a quirk to it. “And you think he’ll be able to help?”

Another pause. “I, well. I hope so….”

All Might closes his mouth, opens it, then closes it again. Shouta gives him time to formulate his words.

“I….he knows, about Midoriya. That he’s my son.”

Shouta raises his brows. That’s….unexpected, but it’s not exactly surprising.

“And he knows about your quirk being transferred on to him?”

“No. Well, he does now. I….” All Might sighs, running a hand through his mess of blond hair. “I told him about Midoriya a little over a year after Inko told me. But at the time, of course, I didn’t know about his quirk. In the letter I sent, I told him his name and about how he currently has One for All.”

Shouta nods, now turning back to his stack of papers. “Well, let me know when he responds. Midoriya already has a number of offers but I didn’t see anyone named Gran Torino on the list.”

“How many did he get?” All Might asks, visibility perking up as he peers over to Shouta’s desk. He contains an eye-roll, and hands over the list.

It’s definitely a fair amount, all things considered. He was able to demonstrate his quirk well enough in the fight against Todoroki and part of the obstacle course, but not as much as others were able to do so. All Might is clearly pleased with it at least, smiling softly to himself as he glances over the list. After a moment, however, he begins to frown.

“What is it?”

“....An offer from Endeavor’s agency.”

Now it’s Shouta’s turn to frown, cocking his head. “Really?”

All Might nods, lips pursed.

“That’s….interesting. I mean, good for him. It’s definitely a high offer.” Despite Shouta’s own feelings towards the fellow pro, it's still a great offer in the sense that he’s the Number Two Hero. Shouta personally feels that his methods are too brutal--but that’s just based on his own personal observation. He’s never actually met the man before.

“Well, either way, it’s up to him,” Shouta continues in All Might’s silence. He hasn’t even passed out the offers yet--he’ll be doing so in class tomorrow.

“Yes, of course,” All Might says, but he still looks a bit apprehensive, giving a sidelong glance to the list that’s now back on Shouta’s desk.

“Let me know if Gran Torino responds, okay?” Shouta says. It seems to take a minute for his words to register, to which All Might then gives him a slight nod.

“Yes--of course.”

--------

“Hey, Midoriya.”

Blinking, Izuku turns, coming face-to-face with Shinsou. His hands are shoved into his pockets, and he’s blatantly not meeting Izuku’s eyes.

They’re in the middle of the hallway, students bustling past them. Izuku moves towards one of the walls and motions for Shinsou to follow him.

“Hey, Shinsou! What’s up?” Izuku asks once they’re both out of the way of their fellow students. He notes that they’re much closer to his own classroom than they are to the Ged-Ed wing, so Izuku can only assume that Shinsou was specifically looking for Izuku and isn’t trying to just say hello.

“I just….” he’s still looking towards the floor, slumped over in his uniform. “I wanted to apologize, for earlier.”

Izuku frowns slightly, head tilting. “What for?”

Now Shinsou looks up, blinking almost dumbly. “I….for what I said earlier, during the Sports Festival.”

For what he said….?

“You were born lucky, born with a quirk like that--you’ve been blessed, but I’ll always be at a disadvantage with a quirk like this!”

Oh. Right.

Izuku lets out a soft chuckle, which only causes Shinsou to appear even more confused. “Don’t worry about it! I know you didn’t mean it, you were just trying to get me to speak--and for a good reason.”

A short pause, and Izuku’s own smile starts to falter.

“Unless you actually did mean--”

“No!” Shinsou cuts him off abruptly. “No, of course not.”

Shinsou probably doesn’t even realize it, but his own gaze seems to have traveled from Izuku’s eyes and down to his right shoulder.

….Ah.

“Of course you’ve worked hard to get here,” Shinsou continues. “Of course you’ve struggled--everyone here has. It was very rude of me to imply otherwise.”

The words sound stiff and stilted to Izuku’s ears, but he can still tell how genuine they are. He smiles wide, to which Shinsou completely dumbfounded.

“Don’t worry about it, really. You were just trying to win, after all. And your quirk is amazing, by the way!”

Again, Shinsou blinks. “You--really?” He scratches at the back of his neck, letting out a dry chuckle. “Everyone….everyone’s always told me it was a villains quirk, not one fit for a hero.”

“Well, then everyone you’ve talked to must be an idiot,” Izuku states, which seems to startle a snort out of Shinsou.

“Heh….yeah, maybe you’re right.”

“I know I’m right,” Izuku says, and Shinsou laughs again. “You know that Mr Aizawa started out in Gen-Ed, right?”

“Wait, really?” Shinsou asks, incredulous. Izuku grins.

“Yeah! I’m sure he’d be happy to talk to you, if you’re interested.”

“I….yeah, maybe I will,” Shinsou says, now grinning in earnest. “Thank you, Midoriya.”

“You don’t have to thank me.”

“Yeah, I do.”

Again, Izuku smiles. “Well then, you’re welcome Shinsou.”

He nods in response, then pointing an arm over his shoulder. “Well, I should get going to class. I’ll see you around?”

“Of course,” Izuku says, waving in goodbye. Once Shinsou has turned and gone, Izuku finishes making his way to his own classroom.

--------

“Hero names?!”

As expected, the classroom erupts into excited chatter, his students no longer paying any attention to Shouta, instead choosing to talk amongst themselves.

“Quiet,” Shouta states, firm. For emphasis he flares up his own quirk, staring down his students with glowing eyes. That, thankfully, manages to shut them up.

In their silence, Shouta tells them why they’re choosing names now--because they’ll soon be partaking in internships. He then takes the time to pull up the graph showcasing all of the offers made by pro agencies following the Sports Festival.

The class is surprisingly quiet as they seem to take in the projector image of the graph. However, it lasts not even a moment before they break out into chatter, commenting on how many offers some of their peers received, or their own dismay about not getting any. They really shouldn't be disappointed--it's almost certain that they'll all get internships regardless, and besides, it's uncommon for first years to even take part in the internship program, especially this early on in the year.

But, he understands why they would be frustrated, especially after seeing how many offers Todoroki and Bakugou both received. He's not shocked that Todoroki had received more despite coming in second--even the students who are initially surprised soon realize why that’s the case, much to Bakugou's irritation.

Once he's given them proper time to absorb the listings, he brings in Nemuri. Considering Shouta has little interest in the publicity and marketing of heroes, he figured it best to have her help out with picking hero names. Nemuri, of course, was more than willing.

While Shouta moves himself to his desk, freeing up the podium for her, she begins passing out writing slates to the students, beginning her lecture on what makes a good hero name. Shouta had considered using this time to catch up on some sleep, but he has some paperwork from his agency that he should really work on instead.

So he starts powering through it, while still keeping an ear open towards his students. The names some of them choose, are as predicted, ridiculous. But, he muses, most hero names are rather ridiculous. Nemuri however does have at least some sense to veto a few of the more outlandish ones.

Bakugou is clearly miffed that King Explosion Murder wasn't approved, and Shouta almost lets out a snort. Honestly, he's not sure what he was expecting--he remembers his own year, and how ridiculous some of the names were that his peers were chosen.

He can find the humor in his own hero name, of course, but well....Hizashi had picked it, so he couldn't exactly say no. Not that he had wanted to, anyways.

A lot of the names are predictable--it's not shocking to him that Todoroki simply picked his given name. What is shocking, is that Iida did the same thing. For someone who comes from a family of pros, he would've figured him to have picked something, well. Something more along the lines of a proper hero name.

But that's fine, of course. Using your given name is perfectly acceptable if that's truly what he wants to do.

When Midoriya walks up to the podium, Shouta can't help himself--he doesn't look up, but he does pause his paperwork. What he hears Midoriya say, however, genuinely shocks him.

It seems to surprise the rest of the class, too. A couple of students blurt out a Are you sure, Midoriya?, but the kid is clearly resolved.

"I used to hate this name, every time I would hear it. But a name like that only has the power that you give it--and a friend taught me that I can reclaim it."

When Shouta does glance up as the kid is walking back to his seat, he notices two things. One, is the way that Uraraka is blatantly smiling at Midoriya from across the room. The other, is that Bakugou is absolutely seething in his seat, and his eyes are completely averted from Midoriya as he passes by him.

Hm.

When the class is dismissed for lunch, Shouta calls Midoriya over. He walks over with a raised brow, but Shouta doesn't speak until the classroom has emptied.

Once he does, Shouta crosses his arms over his chest. "Midoriya. Are you sure about the hero name that you chose?"

He pauses for a minute but quickly falls into a nod and a smile. "Yes, I am Mr Aizawa."

Shouta hums. "Alright, as long as you're sure. Are you going to tell me about the nickname, or why Bakugou looked so bitter about it?"

As expected the kid loses his smile. "I....he used to call me that, as an insult, because of the kanji of my name. But that doesn't matter, now, it was a while ago."

"He still calls you that now though, doesn't he?"

Midoriya shrugs. "We're not kids anymore. It's not the same."

That, well, that causes Shouta to snort. "You're still a kid, kid," he says, and Midoriya chuckles.

"But, alright, as long as you're sure."

Again he nods, and Shouta can tell he means it. He doubts he wouldn't have picked it if he wasn't sure, but Shouta just couldn't help himself from checking.

Still....

"If you ever want to talk to someone about--"

"You've said that before," Midoriya cuts him off, but his tone isn't unkind. "But, I'll think about it."
Well, it's better than the no he was expecting from him. "Sure thing, kid."

Before Midoriya can move to leave, Shouta turns around and grabs a stack of papers from his desk and hands them to the kid.

"Almost forgot, these are the English notes from Hizashi for you to transcribe. Also, your mom said she won't be home till late tonight, so you're going to eat dinner with us after our training session."

The kid takes the papers in hand with a smile, moving to shove them into his backpack.

"Okay great, thanks, Dad!"

As soon as the words have left his lips, Shouta watches as Midoriya freezes over, looking up at him with an expression akin to a rabbit entrapped in a snare.

"I--I--I'm sorry, Mr Aizawa! I didn't--I know that you're not--"

"Breathe, kid, it's alright," Shouta says, gently laying a hand on the boy's shoulder. His own brain is still whirring, processing what Midoriya just said to him. A slip of the tongue is all it is. Really. Nothing more to think about....

....Except for the fact that Midoriya doesn't have a dad in his life and never has, and thus wouldn't have any reason to say dad aloud much at all....which only makes Shouta wonder if the kid does see him as a sort of father figure and that line of thought isn't something that Shouta can think about right now, especially with the kid still freaking out in front of him--

"Ah, All Might!"

Pulled from his own internal musings, Shouta looks up and sees the Number One Hero standing in the doorway.

....How long has he been--?

"Young Midoriya!" All Might exclaims, signature smile plastered across his face. "I was looking to have a word with you, if you free?"

Midoriya whips his gaze around from All Might back to Shouta, panic still lingering in his eyes. Shouta squeezes his shoulder once, before letting go with a nod.

"Go on. We'll talk later."

With a shaky nod of his own, Midoriya grabs his backpack and follows after All Might.

It doesn't get past Shouta that All Might's eyes were on himself the entire time he was addressing Midoriya--that, and he can't help but feel that his smile seemed more forced than it usually does.

He was hoping that All Might wasn't there to overhear his and Midoriya's conversation, but shit. Sighing, he runs a hand through his unruly hair. Yeah--he's definitely going to have to talk to All Might later.

--------

With careful footsteps, Izuku follows behind All Might, not sure where exactly they're going. He's curious, of course, about what All Might wants to talk to him about, but more than that he's still hot with embarrassment over what he said to Mr Aizawa.

Because it's not like--he knows that Mr Aizawa isn't his father, of course he knows that! He's honestly not sure why he slipped up, considering it's not like he's ever called anyone dad before. But still....having known Mr Aizawa for years, training with him and seeing him so often for lunches and dinners....he just can't help his admiration for the man.

And yeah, maybe he has thought of Mr Aizawa in a parental role before, at least subconsciously. But to actually call him Dad....he's sure that he freaked his teacher out, implying something like that--

Almost belatedly, too caught up in his own thoughts, Izuku realizes that All Might has stopped walking. He seems to have led him down to an empty hallway, away from the mass of students that are likely getting lunch right now.

They stand there for a minute in silence, with All Might's back turned towards him. Izuku frowns.

"....All Might?"

He almost jumps, as if he's caught....off guard? His frown only deepens, but at Izuku's words the pro hero does turn around to face him. He's smiling, of course, but Izuku can't help but feel that something seems....off.

"Ah, Young Midoriya. I wanted to congratulate you on your internship offers!"

Izuku blinks, before grinning. "Thank you, All Might!" He wasn't expecting to get so many offers, really, considering where he placed in the festival. So of course, he's very happy with those that he's received so far, many of them from respectable hero agencies.

Well....all except one, he'd say.

But still, he doubts All Might brought him down an empty corridor just to say that to him. That, and by the way All Might is posed in front of him, Izuku can tell that he still has something to say. If Izuku didn't know better, he'd say that the pro almost looks nervous.

"I know that you've gotten many offers from some great agencies," All Might continues after a moment's pause. "But I do have one more for you, if you'd like."

An offer directly from All Might? He doubts it's from his own agency considering they're notorious for never taking on interns, but still....if it's All Might telling him, it must be someone he knows closely.

"Of course! I'd love to see it!"

Slowly, All Might reaches into his pockets and--are his hands shaking? Yes, okay, they definitely are. Izuku's seen so much footage of All Might in battle, and he's never looked as downright terrified as he does now.

Who the hell could make All Might tremble in fear like this?

"He's, ah--he's actually my old homeroom teacher, here at U.A. He usually doesn't take on students, considering he's mostly retired now, but he seems to be willing to make an exception for you."

All Might hands the slip of paper over to Izuku, and he blinks down at it. All that's written on it is a name and a phone number--it's not on a formal offer sheet, so it must've been a personal offer made directly to All Might for him.

He breaks out into a broad grin, reading over the name. Gran Torino. All Might did say that he's retired, but it's still shocking to Izuku that he's never heard of the hero before.

And the fact that he was All Might's old teacher?

"Of course, yes, I'd love to accept his offer!"

All Might blinks at him, as hard as it is to tell in the shadow of his eyes. "Are you sure, young Midoriya? You have lots of different offers to consider--especially since you were propositioned by the Number Two--"

"I don't want to intern for Endeavor," Izuku states, firm. All Might seems to sense how much he means it, and he lets the subject drop.

"All right--if you're sure. I'll contact him shortly and let him know."

Again, he smiles, already feeling giddy with excitement. "Thank you, All Might!"

For the first time that afternoon, All Might's grin actually looks....real. "Of course, young Midoriya."

--------

This is going to be so good, Sorahiko thinks to himself as he lays face-down in a pile of ketchup on the floor. Toshinori’s kid--Midoriya--should be arriving any moment now. Hopefully sooner rather than later, because this position isn’t exactly comfortable on his back--

He hears a knock at the door and smiles to himself, putting his head down.

Another knock, followed by a muttered Gran Torino?

At his lack of answer, the kid pushes the door open, followed immediately by a gasp of horror.

“Gran Tori--?”

For a moment, Sorahiko thinks he let himself laugh, but no. It’s the damn kid.

“I--I’m sorry, but it absolutely reeks of ketchup in here. And that doesn’t exactly look like blood.”

Sorahiko has half a mind to ask the kid how he knows what a pool of blood actually looks like, to the point where he’s not fooled after only a glance, but decides against it. Instead, he brings himself to his feet, stifling a grunt as he does so.

"Well, aren't you observant, kid," Sorahiko says with a smirk. "But, let's see how you can hold your own in a fight. Go put that uniform on."

Midoriya nods and brings in his suitcase to begin changing. By the time Sorahiko finishes cleaning up the ketchup off the floor, the kid is geared up and ready to go.

It doesn't go unnoticed by him, that the kid only has one arm. But he did get into U.A. all the same, and Toshinori did pick him as his successor--the fact that they're blood-related doesn't really concern him, other than the fact that he thinks Toshinori is a damn idiot for passing on his quirk to his literal son without actually telling him about their actual relation.

Christ, Toshinori, you sure do know how to pick them.

Well, regardless, they're here to train. He meets Midoriya with a grin.

"Alright, let's see what you got."

Midoriya blinks, rather owlishly. "What--in here?"

"I don't have all day, you know," Sorahiko states, and then finally after a moment's pause the kid lights up One for All, and rushes after him.

The kid doesn't reach him, of course, not before Sorahiko flies across the room, slamming a dent into his worn ceiling. Midoriya is thrown off--but only for a moment. Good.

They continue like that, a mad chase around his living room. The kid's fast, and he's able to think quick on his feet. However, there's one thing that severely holding him back.

"Alright, let's pause," Sorahiko says, stopping suddenly in his tracks. The kid stumbles due Sorahiko's sudden halt, but manages to avoid eating carpet.

He's out of breath for sure, but not to the point where he's gasping for air. He eyes Sorahiko carefully, raising a brow.

"But--I didn't--"

"Of course you didn't manage to take me down--you're shutting off One for All way too often."

Midoriya frowns. "....One for All?"

For the first time that day, Sorahiko finds himself blinking in genuine confusion, matching the kid's own expression.

Turning, Sorahiko leaves without another word and heads into his own bedroom, shutting the door behind him. He pulls out his phone, and dials it.

"Hello?"

"Why the hell doesn't this kid know about One for All, Toshinori?"

"Ah, Gran Torino!" he exclaims, and Sorahiko rolls his eyes. "What are you talking about?"

"Your kid. Midoriya. You transferred on One for All without even explaining it to him?"

A pause on the other line and Sorahiko waits, eyebrow twitching. He's about to yell at Toshinori to fucking answer him, when his former student finally speaks.

"I think....I think there's been a misunderstanding. I didn't transfer on my quirk to him like Nana did for me. He was born with it."

Sorahiko blinks dumbly, before letting out a huff. "No, he wasn't"

"....Excuse me?"

"I'm saying he wasn't born with One for All. It's not possible."

In Toshinori's silence, Sorahika can practically hear him frowning. "I....what do you mean? I mean, well, I certainly thought it wasn't possible, but he's proof, isn't he?"

"One for All cannot be transferred by birth, it's just not possible. It has to be transferred willingly, and even if you did intend to transfer it, it would've gone to the boy's mother, not him."

"I--that's--that's not--!" Toshinori sputters, and Sorahiko almost feels bad for him. "....Regardless, quirks can mutate, can't they? That's just what I assumed had happened...."

"I mean, it's possible," Sorahiko hums, scratching at his chin. He looks over towards the closed door, to which the kid is on the other side, probably confused as hell. "But I highly doubt it."

"I just....what else could it be? Besides the fact that he has to use it in intervals, it seems the same as when I started using the quirk."

Sorahiko frowns. "Intervals?"

"Yes he can't....he can't hold his quirk for long, or else it's going to overload him."

He lets out a snort. "That just means he has to become stronger, to be able to control it."

The other line goes quiet, and Sorahiko frowns. "....Toshinori?"

"He....you're right, him becoming stronger would help, but his quirk is very dangerous. More dangerous than it ever was for me."

"Well, you were a natural at it, somehow."

A dry chuckle. "Even so, his quirk has caused him a fair amount of problems. Namely, his arm."

"His arm?" Sorahiko asks, before the realization dawns on him, a bit belated. "Oh, shit. Really?"

"Yes. When he was seven."

Well that's terrible, obviously. But it's not exactly surprising--if this kid's quirk is comparable with One for All, then it's no wonder he couldn't handle it's power. And that's just it--his quirk is similar, or something, because fuck. There's no way this kid actually has One for All.

"I'm not going to go easy on him just because of some tragic backstory," Gran Torino states, and again Toshinori laughs without humor.

"I wouldn't expect anything else. But....you really don't think his quirk is One for All?"

Sorahiko grunts. "No, I don't."

There's muted shuffling on the other line, and Sorahiko waits for Toshinori to gather his words, as much as he wants to tell him to just spit it out already.

"I....there's something else, though. Do you know of the hero Eraserhead?"

He frowns. "Can't say I do. Why?"

Another pause. "....His quirk is erasure, being that he can erase other people's quirks, as long as he's looking at them. But there was a time where Eraserhead erased my own quirk, and by doing that, Midoriya's quirk was also erased."

Oh, fucking hell. "Are you positive?"

"We're not certain, but we're fairly sure that's what happened."

Now it's Sorahiko who takes a moment to pause, trying to think this over. Because there's no way this is how One for All should work--it shouldn't have been passed on at all by birth, and thus he'd automatically assumed that this kid just had a similar quirk, nothing more. But if his and Toshinori's quirk are connected somehow, well.

That changes things, certainly. But not to the point where he needs to spend his time worrying over it rather than training this kid.

"....Gran Torino?"

"This doesn't make any damn sense," Sorahiko says. "Why don't you talk to the boy's mother, about their own quirk history in the family?"

"I....we haven't spoken in awhile. I'm not sure--"

Sorahiko sighs. "Define awhile."

"....About fifteen years."

It takes a great deal of restraint for Sorahiko to not bury his palms into his face. "You're a real piece of work, you know that, Toshinori?”

Another dry laugh, and Sorahiko rolls his eyes. "Well, forget about it for now. This kid's waiting for me and in the meantime, it doesn't matter if it's actually One for All or not if it acts the same."
A sigh, this time from Toshinori. "Thank you, Gran Torino.”

He snorts. "Sure, whatever. I'll talk to you later--don't think you're off the hook."

"Of course not."

After Toshinori bids him goodbye, Sorahiko exits his bedroom and returns to the living room, where Midoriya is perched on one of his chairs texting furiously. At the sound of the door closing behind him he looks up, eyes blinking wide.

"Ah, Gran Torino! Is there a problem? Should I--?"

He shakes his head. "No, it's nothing. Just a miscommunication."

The kid frowns. "Is there an issue with the internship?"

"No, not at all." He smirks at the kid, who's already on his feet, phone placed off to the side.

"Now, where were we?"

--------

Izuku frowns over at Gran Torino, who's currently asleep on the couch, snoring into his pillow.
....why didn't he just go to his bedroom? Izuku thinks to himself, but decides not to question the man further. Based on their interactions so far, he figures that's best.

Interactions, which have included Gran Torino trying to scare him with fake blood as soon as he entered the house, and then proceeding to wipe the floor with him in a fight. Afterwards, the man had proceeded to eat a plate of taiyaki, and then immediately fell asleep.

Well. And there was that one other thing....

Izuku
Gran Torino just walked out. Is there
something wrong with the internship?

Mr Aizawa
What do you mean he walked out?

Izuku
He mentioned something called One for All? But I didn't know what he was talking about, and then he left.

Mr Aizawa
I'm sure it's fine. Let me know if he doesn't come back.

He did come back, eventually, and they continued from where they left off. He never mentioned it again.

A faint buzzing sound catches Izuku's attention, and he turns towards the kitchen table where his phone lays. Call From Mr Aizawa flashes across the screen. Sparing a glance to where Gran Torino is still sleeping, Izuku grabs his phone and slips outside and into the back alleyway.

"Hello?"

"Hey, kid," Mr Aizawa says. "Everything going okay?"

He nods to himself, before verbally answering, "Yeah, I think so. It was....a bit odd at first, but things are good now."

"That's good. Learning anything yet?"

"Yeah, I'm learning how to get my ass kicked."

Mr Aizawa snorts. "Yeah, well you already knew how to do that."

Izuku laughs in turn, and the line goes silent for a moment. Izuku is about to ask why his teacher called, when he begins to speak again.

"You said he mentioned something called One for All?"

Izuku frowns, leaning against the dingy brick wall behind him. "Yeah, he did, but I don't know what he was talking about."

"What did he say, exactly."

"He....he said that I was shutting One for All off too often."

For a moment, the other line goes dead. Izuku's frown deepens.

"....Mr Aizawa?"

Another pause, before his teacher speaks again. "I'm not sure why he mentioned that. He was probably just confused."

"Do you know what One for All is?"

"Don't worry about it, kid. Like I said, he was probably just confused."

That's not what I asked, Izuku almost says, but he bites his tongue. It's just that, Mr Aizawa is usually so blunt with him. He doesn't treat him like a child who's too young or too immature to know something. It's rare that he'll skirt past details like that. Usually he'll offer the brutal truth, and nothing else.

But, Izuku muses, if he won't tell him, he must have his reasons. So he lets it go….for now at least.

"Okay, Mr Aizawa."

"Get some sleep kid."

"Right."

He says goodnight and goodbye, his teacher doing the same, and shoves his phone into his pocket.

Izuku knows that he should go back inside and actually sleep, but still....he just can't get over what Gran Torino said to him.

He still doesn't know what One for All means, but Gran Torino still has a point--he is shutting off his quirk too often.

Of course, he already knew that, though. That's been his problem from the beginning, that he can't use his quirk for long periods at a time.

Mr Aizawa has always been fast in a fight, but it's incomparable to someone quirk-enhanced like Gran Torino is. Just a minute in to their fight, and Izuku could already tell how outclassed he was when it comes to speed--because he can't keep his quirk activated, he needs that recovery time or else he won't be able to use his quirk at all.

Ideally, he'd just keep his quirk on, obviously. But that's just not possible right now, no matter how Izuku were to look at it.

But....Mr Aizawa is always telling him how he needs to make his quirk his own, how he needs to work with what he's got. So maybe if he can't use his quirk for long periods of time....he can get better at shutting it off when he needs to.

He glances up at the alleyway walls. They're fairly close together, close enough where he could essentially wall jump from one to another and make it up to the roof. Normally if he were to do something like that, he'd keep his quirk activated the whole time. But if he were to deactivate it between jumps, in order to conserve his stamina....

He tries it, once, and immediately he's not able to turn it on and off quickly enough--and he ends up planting into a pile of trash. Disgusting, sure, but at least it broke his fall.

He tries again, fails, but keeps trying failure after failure. Eventually, however, he manages one jump off the wall, then two, able to turn his quirk on and off in between wall jumps. He's had to take significant breaks in between tries, especially towards the end--even using his quirk just this much still manages to drain him. By the time the sun is about to rise, however, he's managed to make it up to the roof successfully.

By that point, he's dead on his feet, and it's a miracle that he manages to make it back into the apartment. He falls asleep as soon as he hits the floor, legs nearly giving out on him completely as he does so.

--------

When Sorahiko gets up the next morning, he nearly trips over the damn kid. He's sprawled across the floor, completely out of it, snoring softly.

Stepping over him, he moves to make himself breakfast, waiting until he's eaten to wake the kid up.

"Hey, Midoriya," he says, poking his arm with his cane. "C'mon kid, get up."

He snorts, blinking awake. Shaking his head he stands, and shit, he looks exhausted.

"Didn't get much sleep last night, did you?" he asks, and Midoriya just smiles sheepishly.

Sorahiko just rolls his eyes, jutting a thumb towards the plate of taiyaki on the table.

"Well, you better eat something, you'll need your energy."

The kid nods, nearly stumbling towards the table. Once he's scarfed down a few of the cakes, however, he looks much more lively. Good.

"Ready for round two?"

Sorahiko blinks, looking up at the kid who's now standing, posture full of determination. He smirks.

"If you think you're ready."

Midoriya nods, and Sorahiko lunges after him.

He's shocked, honestly, when the kid is able to keep up with him--much better than he had yesterday. At first he thinks he's manages to stabilize his quirk--but no. When Sorahiko looks closely, he can see that the kid isn't constantly using his quirk. Instead, he's not using it more than he is, quickly turning it on and off each time he lands and jumps from the floor or a wall.
Sorahiko still manages to win their brawl, of course--he isn't a pro for no reason, and the kid is still outclassed when it comes to speed.

But he's doing better, definitely. The way he's using it should be so backwards, but it's working for him, somehow.

"Nice job, kid," he says to Midoriya, who beams at him between sips of water, once the two of them are done with their sparring. "Go ahead and gear up, we've got a train to catch."

The kid blinks at him, frowning. "Train?"

"Yup, I think you're ready. We're going patrolling tonight, in Shinjuku."

Chapter Text

Shouta sighs in his desk chair, setting down the stack of papers and instead grabbing at his eyedrops. Just because he’s not teaching classes this week, he thinks ruefully as he administers the medication, doesn’t mean that he has a break from his paperwork.

It’s as he’s recapping his drops, that his phone beeps.

He picks it up, frowning down at the notification before his eyes widen as he then reads it. Most emergency notifications come straight from his agency, but occasionally he’ll get a nation-wide alert if it’s that big of an incident.

This one isn’t from his agency.

An attack. In Hosu. Reporting that multiple giant beasts are causing utter destruction within the city.

There’s a picture attached, and Shouta’s heart sinks when he realizes what he’s looking at, and why it looks so familiar.

The alert is calling for any and all on or off duty pros in the area of Hosu to report to the incident. Shouta’s too far from Hosu himself to make it there in any reasonable amount of time, but these are the kind of high-threat situations they inform all heroes about.

Hosu. Hosu--

Oh, shit.

Immediately he searches through his contacts, hitting dial on Iida’s name as soon as he finds it.

The phone rings. And rings. And rings again, before finally going to voicemail.

“Fuck,” he curses. Before he dials again, however, he remembers--Midoriya. He’d said he was going to Shinjuku with Gran Torino, Shouta now remembering the earlier text. And if they were taking the train to Shinjuku….

Midoriya’s phone rings once, before he answers.

“Hello?”

“Hey, kid,” he starts. “Did you happen to go through Hosu station yet?”

Shouta can practically hear him frowning. “No, I don’t think so. Why?”

“I just got an--”

Before he can finish his sentence, there’s a crashing bang on the other side of the phone, sound cutting to static as the volume rises. His heart pounds against his ribs.

“Midoriya! Midoriya what happened?”

No answer, but he can almost her shouting under the screams coming through the speaker.

“----I have to-----can’t----”

“Midoriya!” he shouts. No answer. “Izuku.”

The line goes dead.

--------

Izuku stares at the hole in the train wall, the screams around him distorted into a fuzzy murmur in the back of his head as the shock of the situation overtakes him.

He knows Gran Torino told him to stay in the train, to not follow him, but how can he not? The villain, it was—it was one of those things from before, from the USJ.

The one that almost—

He looks down at the phone in his hand. It’s just now that he realizes it’s still ringing, the words Mr Aizawa flashing across the screen. Shaking his head he shoves his phone into his pocket, and leaps out of the train.

It’s now that he can see what true chaos the city is in. Debris litters the streets and he dodges chunks of concrete as he runs, heading towards where--where--

He doesn’t really know where he’s running. The only thing he knows is that he’s running against the crowd, and that must mean he’s running towards where the villains are.

Which is good. Despite what Gran Torino or Mr Aizawa would tell him, he won’t stop himself from running--he’s not even sure he could if he wanted to.

All he knows is that he can’t be a hero if he doesn’t help anyone.

So he keeps running.

It’s not long before he nearly skids to a stop, eyes widening as he takes in the scene before him. It’s--it’s another one of those things, a Nomu. Except this one’s different, just as the other one had been.

To think not only that there’s more of them, but they’re somehow all different, likely with their own unique set of abilities? The thought almost makes Izuku vomit.

But as he stares at the fight going on between heroes and villains, the thoughts that have been stirring around in his subconscious since the train come screaming to the forefront of his mind.

Iida.

Iida, who’s supposed to be interning in Hosu with Manual. Iida, who would never knowingly run away from a fight but rather into the fray, eager to help.

Iida, who--his brother--

The Nomu--villains--

Hosu City--

Where the Hero Killer was last spotted--

”You know you can always talk to us, right Iida? About anything.”

Their friend smiles towards him and Uraraka, but Izuku can tell how fake it is, how it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. His own frown only deepens.

“I appreciate the offer, Izuku. Really. But I assure you, I’m fine.”

“Iida--”

“Don’t concern yourselves,” Iida states as he cuts Uraraka off. His voice is firm, but not unkind.

Izuku...he feels that he should say something more but he doesn’t know. He knows that Iida isn’t fine, he knows what condition Ingenium is in, but he….he doesn’t know what else to say. This is honestly a new situation to Izuku. Not just this specifically, but, well….

Having friends.

He did have Kacchan, back when they were younger. But that was pretty much gone after...well. After. And even then Kacchan wasn’t the type of person to talk about his feelings, and he definitely wasn’t the type of person to accept any sort of emotional comfort.

So Izuku doesn’t offer again. He just smiles, and says, “Okay, if you’re sure. Text or call me if you need anything, okay?”

“Yeah, same here!” Uraraka adds, voice wavering slightly. “We’re just worried about you, Iida.”

“I appreciate the concern, but there’s no need to worry. Have a productive internship, the both of you.”

And with that, Iida turns, case in hand as he begins walking towards his own train platform. Uraraka is still frowning beside him, tense. And Izuku isn’t faring much better. He almost calls out to Iida, but what else can he say? What else can he do?

“Hey, kid! Get out of here, get to safety with the others!”

Breaking out of his thoughts, Izuku blinks. He didn’t even realize that his hand was in a fist, stance readying him for a fight. He almost considers arguing, saying that he can help, but knowing the situation Iida is likely in he instead apologizes to the pros, and rushes off.

Now, as Izuku is frantically running across the city, using bits and spurts of his quirk whenever he can, he can’t help but mentally cursing himself--he should’ve done something, anything!

Because now--now, he’s nearly certain that his friend is in danger.

In a hasty effort he pulls out his phone--feeling a pang of guilt as he ends up declining Mr Aizawa’s call, instead opening the group chat with all of his classmates. He grits his teeth in frustration--texting with his left hand has always been difficult, but doing so while near-leaping through the city streets? It’s almost impossible.

He’s only managed to share his location with the chat before he slows his run, a sight in a nearby alleyway catching his eye. He blinks, once--there’s a pro, definitely, slumped over against the wall. Definitely not good.

When he then sees not only Iida, but the Hero Killerstanding over his limp body, knife in hand, all conscious thought washes from his brain as instinct takes over.

Barely remembering to pocket his phone he breaks out into a sprint, landing a solid kick with the heel of his foot directly into the Hero Killer’s face.

“Midoriya?!”

Izuku knows that it’s Iida calling out to him but doesn’t dare move his eyes from the Hero Killer, who’s still on the ground but won’t be for long.

“Iida, can you move?”

“No, I--his quirk, I’m immobilized. Midoriya, what are you doing here, you need to run!”

“I’m not going to run,” Izuku states, as calmly as he can manage. The Hero Killer--Stain, he remembers, what the media says he refers to himself as--is on his feet, but hasn’t moved to attack. Not yet.

“This isn’t your fight!” Iida shouts, and Izuku just grits his teeth, feeling his blood pumping in his ears.

“It isn’t yours, either!” he shouts, words reverberating off the brick walls of the alleyway. “I know what you’re after, Iida, but this isn’t any way to solve it.”

“You don’t--you don’t understand--” his words are cut off as Stain attacks again, to which Izuku blocks, sending him flying back with another charged kick.

“I don’t care if I understand or not!” Izuku shouts. “You’re in danger here--I came here to save you, Iida!”

He doesn’t respond--or maybe he does, Izuku can’t tell. He’s too focused on the Hero Killer, too focused on not dying, too focused on--

It’s suddenly, that it occurs. Before Izuku realizes what’s happening, he finds himself slumped over onto the dirty cobblestone, joints locked and muscles seizing. Desperately he tries to find his movement, but he can’t. He’s utterly paralyzed, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

“You really are the hero, aren’t you?”

It’s Stain, Izuku realizes, the words barely registering through his own cold fear. “You remind me of another hero--another actual hero. The publically appointed Number One Hero, that is. The majority of them, however, don’t deserve the title. They’re all out here for their own personal gain. But not you.”

His voice grates on him worse than nails on chalkboard, and he’d shudder if he could spare that much movement. All he can do is stare up at the armed man with wide eyes as cold sweat drips down his forehead, hoping, hoping for something, anything--

But, no. No, there has to be something he can do. If he can figure out what this villain’s quirk is, maybe they’ll all have some hope of freeing themselves from whatever hold he has on them.

“The blood,” Iida spits out. “It’s your blood, somehow--”

His blood….?

Oh, shit. He remembers now--he’d barely noticed in the heat of the fight, but Stain did manage to knick him with his sword. In fact, it didn’t seem like he was aiming for a for a fatal wound, he just wanted to cut him. And if Iida said it was something to do with their blood….

….Earlier! When Izuku had fallen, he’d barely seen it, but out of the corner of his eye he did catch Stain putting the sword up to his mouth. He wasn’t sure, at the time, what exactly he was doing, but now….

It’s his blood. Their blood. Stain’s ingested it, and has somehow managed to paralyze them.

“You’re correct, kid, it is the blood. What did you say your name was? Ingenium? Oh, right. Just like your brother. It’s unfortunate that neither of you deserve to wear that name, as if it proclaims you as some sort of hero.”

“Don’t you dare talk about Tensei like that!” Iida screams. “You tried to kill him, you bastard!”

“Yes, but I didn’t. I left him alive as a warning to others, to not pursue heroics for such selfish gain. But apparently, my message didn’t seem to hit home. The media is all the same, heroes like Endeavor are still being worshipped like a god by some, despite the fact that he so often burns his victims to a crisp. Now, that doesn’t seem very heroic, does it?”

Just the thought of agreeing with a mass murder make’s Izuku’s stomach churn, but Izuku can’t deny that he’s right. Even Izuku can see the flaws with the hero society they’ve built--and even if he didn’t, Mr Aizawa sure beat it into him enough times. That being said, it doesn’t mean that the Hero Killer’s actions are justified, like he seems to think.

“But that’s fine,” he continues, unsheathing another sword. “I’ll just have to kill the lot of you.”

As he comes closer, Stain pauses in his steps right beside Izuku’s limp body. His heart feels like it might crack his ribcage, and all he can think about is his mother--his mother, and his classmates and All Might and Mr Aizawa and his phone that’s still buzzing in his fucking pocket--

“You, however. You’re actually worthy of the title hero, aren’t you?” With the heel of his boot Stain pushes down on his right shoulder--he wants to scream out in agony, but instead he grips his teeth and keeps his eyes locked onto the villain.

“You came here just to save your friend--a crippled teenager, and all you care about is saving your friend? You, maybe you can surpass All Might. Maybe you can help fix this broken society.”

Even as Izuku is bracing himself for a blow, the Hero Killer steps over his form, moving closer to Iida and the pro hero slumped behind him. Izuku’s panic only begins to spiral further--even if the villain isn’t going to kill him, he still clearly wants to kill Iida and Izuku can’t move--

His vision flashes before him as fire fills the alleyway. He instinctively tries to move and shield his eyes, but of course, he can’t. Instead Izuku presses his eyelids shut as tight as he can, waiting until the white has vanished from beneath them before blinking.

When his sight clears, he sees Todoroki standing before him.

“It’s not like you to be so vague, Midoriya,” his classmate states as he covers the alleyway in ice, Iida and himself sliding towards and then behind Todoroki before he begins to clear the ice away with his left side.

He’s--he’s using his left side--

The happiness he feels over it only adds to the overall feeling of relief that’s pounding in his chest. Todoroki, he’s here--they might have a chance of all getting out of this alive.

“I knew something was wrong, at the train station,” Todoroki tells them while his eyes are still locked on the Hero Killer. “You weren’t acting like yourself, Iida. And going out on a revenge tyrade doesn’t seem like you, either.”

“You don’t--you shouldn’t be here, this is my mistake to fix!” Iida shouts, despareate. Todoroki snorts silently as he shakes his head.

“Is that what your brother would say? Because I don’t remember Ingenium having such a pathetic look on his face. Would your brother run away when his friends are in danger? If you think they would, you might want to consider your choice in name.”

“You don’t--”

Iida cuts himself off with a scream as the Hero Killer rushes at Todoroki. He’s able to hold him off with a wave of fire, but with Stain trying to get in so close--

Izuku’s own scream dies in his throat as the villain nearly catches a drop of Todoroki’s blood on his tongue, but thankfully he’s able to shove him off with another surge of flames. Giving himself enough distance, he erects a wall of ice to separate them from Stain.

“Rookie mistake, kid. Creating your own blind spots for a close-range opponent.”

It’s close again, too close, and it’s killing Izuku that he can do nothing but watch his friend get attacked over and over again by a mass murderer. He’s screaming in his head, screaming at his muscles to move move move move--

As if by his own will, he can feel his toes twitching, his joints creaking. His strength is coming back to him, and his lips can finally form a smile--

Just in time, too. Stain fakes an attack at Todoroki, but at the last second points his knife towards the pro. Thankfully, Izuku prides himself on his speed.

With a carefully placed kick he sends the Hero Killer flying backwards, Izuku landing as gracefully as he can next to Todoroki.

“I--I don’t know why I can move,” Izuku states, frowning down at his own hand as he clenches it. “If it’s some sort of time limit, either Native or Iida should’ve been freed first.”

“It must be something else, then,” Todoroki muses. “Maybe consumption volume, or--”

“Blood type,” Izuku finishes, as the Hero Killer’s smile only grows more manic.

“Congratulations, you’ve figured it out. Too bad it won’t do you much good, now.”

He draws a sword, preparing himself. Izuku swallows before gritting his teeth.

“We should just hold him back, until the heroes come, we shouldn’t--”

“No,” Izuku cuts him off, shaking his head. He can feel Todoroki’s eyes on him and he allows himself a small smile. “Sorry, but you’re losing too much blood, we have to end this as soon as we can. I’ll attack him head on, while you support me from the back.”

“That’s an awfully big risk. Are you willing to take it?”

“With you? Yeah, I am.”

Todoroki is about to say something else, but before he can Stain launches himself at him. “Now, Todoroki,” Izuku shouts, bounding off the ground and towards his attacker.

He manages to dodge the first knife thrown at him, bouncing off the walls as he deactivates and reactivates his quirk in between his jumps. If he wasn’t fighting for his life he’d smile over the progress he’s making.

It only lasts so long, however, before the Hero Killer lands a hit. It just so happens that this slash was across his right shoulder.

With a scream he rolls across the ground, back slamming into the brick wall as he grips his shoulder as tight as he can bear. His scar tissue is tender to the touch, feeling almost inflamed where the sword went through it.

His mind, hazy with the sheering pain in his shoulder, almost doesn’t catch Stain coming in for a finishing blow. Luckily for him Toodorki does notice, an onslaught of fire sending him backwards. Shortly thereafter he feels his body slumping against the wall, muscles slack. He curses himself--of course, the Hero Killer must’ve gotten a bit of his blood. Well, if it really is blood type then it should last the same amount of time, which wasn’t that long. If Todoroki can just hold him off until then--

Joy rising in his chest, Izuku watches with wide eyes as Iida begins rising to his face, determination clear in his eyes even from this distance. He’s still obviously hurt, but he can stand, he can move--and before Izuku can exhale his sigh of temporary relief, Iida’s launching himself at the killer, engines bursting to life as he lands a kick straight into his side, once again sending the villain flying.

He’s quick to recover, but Todoroki is holding his own with his long-range attacks, forcing Stain to keep his distance. If Izuku could he’d furrow his brow in confusion over why Iida isn’t attacking. He chokes a yell when the Hero Killer lands two knives in Iida’s arms.

Again to his relief, Izuku can feel his muscles starting to twitch again. Slowly he rises to his feet, gaining more and more control over his movements.

Watching as Todoroki freezes over Iida’s engines, Izuku realizes exactly what he’s going to do. And thus, exactly what he has to do.

Firing up his quirk, straining at the last of his control just to get a grip over his own quirk, he ignites his legs, taking off and landing a kick in the villain’s left side just as Iida does the same thing to his right.

It’s not long after that, the villain finally out of commission and tied with loose rope they’d found in a dumpster, that the pro heroes show up.

They, of course, are a bit shocked over how a bunch of teenagers managed to take out the mass murderer, but Izuku doesn’t really think that’s what matters right now. What matters is getting the killer into police custody, getting his friends’ wounds attended to, and--

“Everybody, watch out!”

Immediately Izuku’s instincts snap to attention, but even so he’s too late to dodge out of the bird-like claws that grab into his sides, lifting him up and off the ground.

He’s too shocked, honestly, to do anything but hang there limply. Once he’s mentally regained himself, however, he realizes that he’s falling, the creature (Nomu?!) no longer flapping it’s massive wings.

As soon as Izuku activates his quirk, ready to break out of the Nomu’s hold and land on the ground, he notices a figure flying towards him--attached to the man is a knife, which doesn’t go for Izuku’s head but rather, the Nomu’s.

Landing and being dropped onto the pavement, it takes Izuku a few blinking minutes to realize that he’s just been saved by the Hero Killer. Nearly as soon as he does, however, he can feel the adrenaline beginning to wear off, and the agonizing pain of a thousand needles stabbing at him returns to his right shoulder. He bites off a scream, watching as the killer stands and walks away from his limp body, before fading into unconsciousness.

--------

When Shouta gets the call telling him that the kid has been rushed to the hospital but is currently in stable condition, of course he’s relieved.

Mostly, because that means he can kill the damn kid himself.

How many fucking times does he have to tell him not to rush into an obviously dangerous situation? That he should obey orders from pros, that he’s not a licensed hero, and that he absolutely should not be engaging in villain attacks?

Apparently not enough, Shouta thinks bitterly to himself as he stares down at the kid laying silently beside him. His shoulder is in bandages and he’s been given medication for the pain--thankfully, it seems like that injury is the worst of it.

He knows that the lot of them were on internship, but that doesn’t mean they should be engaging with a mass murderer--especially when they had ran off and left their supervising heroes.

He’s still mentally shaking his head, thinking of what exactly he’s going to say to him once he wakes, when a scream rips him from his thoughts.

Because of the mild severity of Izuku’s condition they’d given him a seperate room from Iida and Todoroki. His mother is on her way over, but at the moment it’s just Shouta and Midoriya in the hospital room.

Midoriya, who is now shrieking out in agony, thrashing himself awake. Shouta rushes to his feet, heart squeezing itself dry at seeing the kid like this.

“Midoriya,” Shouta says, as gently as he can while still making his voice heard over the screams. “Hey, kid. Izuku, listen to me, okay? I need to tell you to tell me what’s wrong, okay? So I can help you. Can you do that for me?”

With a clenched jaw he nods sharply. Shouta keeps his eyes directly on him as his fingers rapidly click at the nurse call button.

“My--my arm,” he manages out, another yelp following his words. He’s sweating, shaking, and Shouta hastily pulls the sheets back, examining his arm. Midoriya manages to shake his head.

“No, not--not that, not my--”

Thankfully, it’s then that a few nurses come rushing in, checking over his IV and machinery.

“My right arm,” he says, heaving the words out. “My right arm--”

He cuts himself off with a grunt. The nurses look like they’re about to say something else when a new voice cuts them off.

“It’s his phantom pains, from his arm.”

One nurse nods sagely. “You’re probably right, considering he was cut over his scar tissue.”

Ms Midoriya’s face only deepens with worry as she rushes into the room, the nurses looking over the kid once more to confirm that there’s nothing else wrong with him, and decide to give him more pain medication. He at least seems to be doing somewhat better, considering he’s not screaming anymore.

“Izuku, baby, I’m so happy you’re alright,” Ms Midoriya sobs, folding her son into a careful, gentle embrace. When she lets go, he manages a smile.

“I’m okay mom, really. I--ah--it’s just the pains. I’m sorry to make you worry.”

“But it’s not just the pains,” she cries, shaking her head profusely. “Your train was attacked, you shouldn’t have even been fighting! And to take on a serial killer--!”

“I had to!” Izuku states, worry crossing to anger as his frown sharpens. “What was I supposed to do, not save Iida?”

“You should’ve called for the heroes!”

“They wouldn’t have gotten there in time! He would’ve died!”

The room goes quiet for a moment, other than Ms Midoriay’s sniffles and the kid’s heaving breaths. With a sigh the woman eventually collapses into one of the bedside chairs, shaking her head.

“I know this is what you want to do, Izuku. I know this is what you were meant to be. But I don’t--I don’t know how much more of this I can take.”

The kid blinks, stricken. “Mom, I--”

“Young Midoriya--!”

Ah, shit.

Shouta looks towards the door, All Might--in his smaller form--looking exactly as Shouta would expect him to upon seeing Ms Midoriya standing in front of him. That is to say, he looks like he’s about to vomit all over the linoleum floor, his cheeks gone whiter than a ghost.

Still not over his own shock to make heads or tails of the situation, Ms Midoriya seems to compose herself quicker than the lot of them. Going over to All Might, she smiles before bowing.

“I don’t think we’ve met before,” she says, and Shouta almost blinks in his confusion. Surely she must recognize him, no?

At least, that’s what Shouta was trying to figure out, until he saw the look in her eyes.

Oh, she definitely knows. And it’s killing her as much as it’s killing him.

“You must be one of the teachers at Midoriya’s school. I wanted to thank you, for being his teacher and helping keep him safe.”

Yagi just stares at her, looking absolutely helpless. “Clearly, I must not be doing a very good job of it,” he chokes out. Ms Midoriya just smiles through her remaining tears.

“The incident at the USJ was far worse than this. And he was still returned home to me, injured but alive. So, I want to thank you.”

A heavy pause. “You’re welcome, Ms Midoriya.”

With another small smile she nods, turning back to her son who’s eyeing her a bit curiously. He doesn’t say anything, however.

By the time Shouta thinks to look back towards the doorway, All Might is gone.

--------

Shouta would say they’ve been sitting there for about an hour, when Midoriya falls asleep again.

He himself has been silent the whole time. The kid and his mother have exchanged a few words but mostly he’s just been resting. Eventually, he seems to have dozed off, the increased pain meds likely having made him more sleepy than he already was.

Shortly after he does, Ms Midoriya catches his attention from across the room. Silently, she tilts her head towards him and then the door, before getting up and walking out.

Curious and a bit worried, Shouta follows her.

Once the door is closed, she turns to him. “Do you know?”

Shouta almost asks Know what?, but honestly, what else would she be talking about?

“....Yes, I do.”

She takes a moment before sighing, slumping herself against the wall. “I figured, you both teaching together and all.”

“I….really shouldn’t get in the middle of all this,” he says, almost wincing. More than I already, inadvertently, am he wants to tack on, but doesn’t. “But I really think you should just talk to him.”

She sighs again. “I know, it’s just….it’s been so long, and Izuku is older now. I’m mostly worried about how he would react.”

Shouta frowns. “I know. But he’s probably going to find out eventually, you know that, right?”

“....I know.”

A pause between them, Shouta crossing his arms in their silence.

“Thank you, for not telling him. I know you don’t like keeping secrets from him but I just….I don’t know how to tell him. Not right now. I know that’s probably selfish of me, but even with everything going on he’s….he’s happy at this school, with these people. That hasn’t happened for him in a very long time, and I just….don’t know how he’ll react to it. I just don’t want to ruin this for him, right now.”

Shouta blinks, still frowning. “You’re not selfish. And of course I wouldn’t tell him. It’s not my business. It should be something for you and All Might to work out.”

“Even so. Thank you.”

Another beat of silence. “....You’re welcome.”

With a small smile, Ms Midoriya excuses herself and returns to Midoriya’s room. After rubbing at his eyelids for a long moment, Shouta goes to search down a vending machine.

While punching in the code for his coffee, a smattering of red and white enters his field of vision.

“Todoroki,” he greets the kid with a nod. He’d checked in on him and Iida when they’d first arrived at the hospital--the two of them were conscious when they did, thankfully. Todoroki has minimal injuries, but to his dismay Iida may have permanent damage to his hand. He’s scheduled to return again shortly--a doctor with a specialized healing quirk may be able to help, but it’s not certain. The only thing for them to do is hope for the best.

The kid is in a spare set of clothes one of Endeavor’s sidekicks dropped off for him. He must’ve been cleared to be discharged, and for that Shouta is thankful.

“Mr Aizawa,” he greets as Shouta reaches in for his coffee. “Is Midoriya awake?”

Shouta takes a careful sip of his drink before answering. “He’s asleep right now, but he was awake earlier. He had some intense pain so the doctors are keeping him for observation overnight.”

Todoorki nods, solemn. “I….if you’re still here when he wakes up, can you tell him that I need to talk to him? I would stay, but my father is….insisting that I come home. He needs my help, as things are a bit chaotic at the agency.”

“I’ll let him know. You can head on home--and I’m glad you’re alright, Todoroki.”

The kid nods once. “Thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

And with that he leaves, disappearing down the hallway and towards the elevator. With a heavy sigh, Shouta turns to buy himself another coffee, and then heads back to Midoriya’s room.

Chapter Text

“We need to talk.”

Midoriya sighs, slumping further into his seat. They’re in Shouta’s car, driving back from the hospital. The Hosu Police Chief has already given Midoriya the rundown of the situation--he, like Todoroki and Iida, agreed to keep their involvement a secret in exchange for not being punished for operating as a hero without a license or proper supervision. He didn’t have the opportunity to talk with the other kids as they’d already been discharged, but Shouta had figured they’d all agree to the Chief’s offer.

The kid, however, is clearly annoyed with Shouta--likely because he can tell how upset Shouta is with him. As soon as he’d met Shouta’s eyes earlier this morning his expression had shifted from relief, to worry, to fear, and then to anger all in the span of about two seconds.

“Do we?” Midoriya snips, and Shouta rolls his eyes. The kid can be a real brat when he wants to.

“Not only were you fighting without a license,” Shouta starts, his grip growing tighter and tighter over the steering wheel. “But you disobeyed a direct order from your internship supervisor, purposely sought out a goddamn serial killer, and then willingly engaged in combat with him when you should’ve instead been trying to contact the pros.”

“I couldn’t,” Midoriya says, voice low. “I ran into some, but their hands were full. And I knew Iida was in danger!”

“And instead of at least informing the pros about the situation, you took it upon yourself to go after him. Right?”

Midoriya doesn’t respond, just continues to stare blankly out the passenger window. Shouta sighs.

“I know why you did what you did. But you were reckless, careless, and abided against the law and against instruction.”

“...We took him down, didn’t we?”

It’s a struggle for Shouta, to keep his eyes on the road in front of him and not turn to glare at the kid. “Do you really think that’s the point?”

Midoriya says nothing for a moment, still choosing to instead watch the scenery as they pass. Shouta sighs.

“You thought Iida was in danger, and you felt that you were the only available person to save him. I get that. But you need to understand that there are rules--that there are laws that cannot be broken because they put both you and us at risk--most importantly being you who’s at risk.”

Again, Shouta is met with defiant silence. He continues. “I know you don’t agree with them, but--”

“No, I don’t,” Midoriya cuts in. “And neither do you. Right?”

Shouta’s brows crease. “How I feel about certain aspects of hero politics and regulations doesn’t matter. You still shouldn’t have taken action by yourself.”

“And let Iida die? That seems like a pretty stupid rule, if it means letting someone die.”

“That’s not--” Shouta bites his tongue, giving himself a moment to gather his rational thoughts as to not completely lash out. “That’s not the point. Again, you went against orders. By intervening you put yourself at risk. What would’ve happened if Todoroki didn’t show up?”

“And what would’ve happened if I hadn’t shown up?”

“What you’re not understanding, Midoriya,” Shouta states, firm, “is that you’re not a pro hero. As skilled and as well-trained as you might be, you’re just not. It wasn’t your job to intervene.”

“But I’m training to become a hero! Isn’t the essence of being a hero intervening when you don’t need to?”

Shotua snorts, but there’s no humor to it. “What, did All Might tell you that?”

Again there’s no reply, and Shouta spares a hasty glance over--the kid’s face has darkened with anger, despite how he’s clearly trying to not let it show.

“While that statement does have some merit, again--you’re not a hero. Not in the eyes of the law.”

“So you’re mad at me because I disobeyed a rule and instead saved my friend?”

Shouta kind of wants to beat his head against his dashboard. The kid is usually so well-behaved--it’s as surprising as it is frustrating when he acts like, well.

Like a teenager.

“I’m not mad at you,” Shouta says as gently as he can, now pulling up in front of Midoriya’s apartment building. “I’m just….disappointed.”

The kid sits there for a moment, the silence thick between them with the engine no longer running. Again Shouta sighs.

“....I’m sorry. I am happy that you saved Iida, and I’m happy that you’re all okay. But you just can’t--”

“Well, I’m sorry that I’m such a fucking dissapointment,” Midoriya mutters over him. Before Shouta can process what exactly the kid has said he’s grabbed his suitcase and is slamming the passenger door behind him.

Blinking, then frowning, Shouta unrolls his window and calls after the kid.

“Midoriya!”

No answer.

“Izuku!”

The kid just keeps walking, not once turning back. Soon enough he’s up the stairs and out of sight. Shouta completely collapses into his seat, face buried into the palms of his hands.

“....Fuck.”

--------

Shouto doesn't know why he came. Well, he knows why, but should he have come? He desperately wants to talk to Midoriya about everything that happened (as well as make sure that he’s okay) but he could always do that at school. Or call him. Or just text him. He shouldn’t--

No. He needs to talk to him now, and in person. Holding his breath, he knocks on the apartment door twice.

He hears rustling inside, and soon enough the door opens. He’s greeted by a green-haired woman smiling at him.

“Hi, you must be Todoroki from Izuku’s class, right?”

Shouto blinks. “I….yeah. I am.” He doesn’t question why Midoriya’s mom knows who he is--maybe from the Sports Festival? As to why she doesn’t look at all surprised to see him, Shouto doesn’t know.

“Come in, come in,” she says, moving herself aside to let him pass. With a grateful nod Shouto enters, taking off his shoes before making his way into the rest of the house.

When he does he sees a familiar face sitting at the kitchen table, but it’s not Midoriya’s.

“Hi, Todoroki,” Iida says, and Shouto nods.

“Iida said you might stop by,” Ms Midoriya says behind him. “Would you like anything to drink? Any tea?”

It’s been….so long since he’s lived with his mom, and this kind of warm hospitality still rattles him. “No I’m all set, but thank you.”

She nods, still smiling. “Of course. Izuku should be home soon, Mr Aizawa is bringing Izuku home in his car--I didn’t want him riding the train while he’s healing and your teacher was kind enough to offer.”

Todoroki nods himself, sitting down beside Iida. She talks about Mr Aizawa like he’s an old friend--maybe she knew him before Izuku entered U.A.?

She excuses herself, saying there’s work she needs to catch up on and heads into her bedroom. Shouto turns towards Iida.

“I didn’t realize you were coming.”

“I….wasn’t going to, until you asked for his address,” Iida replies. “I figured why you wanted it, and you’re right, we really should talk to him.”

Shouto only nods again. They sit there in a bit of awkward silence, before Iida asks him about his own internship. Thinking of his father and how he handled the Hosu situation only makes his blood boil, but he knows Iida is just trying to be friendly, so he makes amicable conversation about what he’d learned, and Iida does the same. It’s tense and still rather awkward but it’s….nice.

Eventually though, the front door opens and the both of them cut themselves off, turning towards it. He expects his teacher to walk through, but it’s just Midoriya. His expression is one of frustration and something akin to anger. Shouto jumps to his feet.

“Midoriya--”

“Todoroki?” he asks quizzically. “And Iida! What are you guys doing here?”

Before Shouto can answer Ms Midoriya comes running in, pulling her son into a gentle hug. Shouto averts his gaze as they talk briefly, the two of them both clearly trying not to cry.

After, he releases his mom with a smile, her returning to her bedroom and Midoriya moving to sit between Iida and himself, Shouto returning to his own seat.

“I was going to ask you what you’re both doing here, but I think I know why.”

Iida nods, solemn. “Midoriya I….I’m so sorry, for what I did. My actions were inexcusable, I was too caught up in my--what he did, what he did to Tensei, that I wasn’t thinking clearly. I wasn’t thinking like a hero, unlike you.”

Midoriya chuckles, shaking his head. “It’s okay Iida, really. I’m just glad you’re okay.” He then turns to Shouto, and meets him with the softest of smiles. For a moment, Shouto forgets how to breathe.

“And thank you for showing up, Todoroki. We would’ve lost without your help.”

“Of course,” Shouto states, unable to meet Midoriya’s eyes. “Of course I came.”

Midoriya’s smile only grows, and Shouto almost finds himself smiling in return. Remembering what else he wanted to mention, however, he then scowls.

“I still think it’s horrible, that Endeavor will credited for taking down the Hero Killer. That law is completely inane.”

At that, Midoriya blurts out a laugh. Shouto looks at him curiously, but he only smiles sheepishly before frowning.

“I agree, believe me. But I’m just….I’m just glad that he was taken down, and that we all made it out okay.”

Shouto nods, and so does Iida. He really is glad, too.

--------

"Do you have a moment to talk, Aizawa?"

Shouta hums, gesturing vaguely to Hizashi's empty chair next to him. He doesn't look up from his work as All Might sits himself down.

"Are those the internship evaluations?" All Might asks. Shouta nods, flipping a page. Besides from the debacle in Hosu, everything seemed to go smoothly with all the rest of the students.

"That isn't what you wanted to talk about though, is it?" Shouta drawls, now setting the papers aside and meeting All Might's gaze. He looks....nervous, which isn't surprising. What is a bit unusual is how he seems to be genuinely agitated. Not that he hasn't seen the other hero annoyed before, but it's a rare look on him.

"No, it's not," he states, handing Shouta over a form. He takes it with a raised brow before looking at it.

It's the listings for the final exams, showing which students will be paired together and against which staff member.

It doesn't take long after that for Shouta to realize what All Might's issue is.

"I'm not changing it," Shouta says while handing the paper back over. The other man hesitates a moment before grabbing it.

"I just don't think that--"

"This doesn't really have anything to do with you," Shouta states. His tone is blunt, and it leaves All Might blinking.

"I'm pretty sure it does, actually."

"It does in that you're part of the examination, yes," Shouta continues. "But I don't care about your relation with Midoriya. What I care about is his hero worship for you, and that's why he'll be fighting you."

"I just," All Might huffs, now sounding more frustrated than anything. "It feels....deceptive, having to fight him like this.”

“Well it’s not like you’re actually going to be fighting him,” Shouta mutters, before biting down on his pen cap and frowning. “And if you still feel that it’s deceptive, then tell him.”

“I….I don’t think right now is the best time.”

“Well, there never will be a good time, will there? So just fucking tell him,” Shouta snaps, and All Might just gives him an odd look, cocking his head slightly. Shouta sighs.

“I’m sorry, that was uncalled for. I’ve just been….agitated, since this morning.”

“Ah, right. Of course, I shouldn’t be bothering you with this so soon after the Hosu incident--”

Shouta shakes his head. “No, it’s not that. Well, not really. Of course I was worried about the students, but they all seem okay. Midoriya, however….when I was taking him home from the hospital earlier we, er. We had a bit of a fight.”

All Might raises his brows toward him. “Do you...want to tell me what happened?”

“Well, I told him I wasn’t mad, just disappointed in him, and then he basically said I thought he was a disappointment, and slammed the car door in my face.”

“Ouch,” All Might says, but when Shouta looks up, he can see that the other hero is almost smirking. “I know I’m not the best with kids, but even I know that I’m not mad, just disappointed is a big no-no.”

Shouta’s frown deepens. “Yeah, you’re probably right. I tried to apologize, but he ran off before I could.”

“Give him time. Let him cool off--he’s probably still reeling over what happened.”

Shouta doesn’t say anything in response to that, just nods his head as he turns back towards his stack of papers. He knows he needs to give Midoriya a bit of space, and that’s what he plans to do, he just….wants to be able to apologize, properly.

He hopes they’ll be able to do so during their next weekend training session, but the kid never shows up.

They used to train more during the week than on weekends, Shouta often having longer patrol shifts on the weekends, but once the class rigor picked up at U.A. it just became too much for him. So instead they’ve been continuing their lessons on Saturdays.

It’s very uncommon for Midoriya to miss a lesson. In all the years that Shouta as been training him, Shouta could probably count the number of times he’d called to cancel on one hand.

However, each one of those times he’d called beforehand. But now, after an hour with no phone call and no response to his texts, Shouta’s given up on trying to contact him.

Sighing, he rises from his perch on the basement stairs and walks up to get a gel pack from the kitchen.

Hizashi is in the kitchen when he walks in, headphones on and typing away at his laptop. When Shouta enters he smiles, removing the headphones.

“Hey, babe! Where’ve you been?”

Shouta frowns into the fridge as he removes a packet. “I was waiting for the kid. He never showed up for his lesson and isn’t answering his phone.” He can tell Midoriya is blocking his calls, too--the phone always rings once or twice, then it goes to voicemail. If it weren’t for that, he would’ve called his mom to see if he was alright.

But when Shouta had been sent to voicemail three times, he’d gotten the message.

When he turns back to face his husband, it’s Hizashi who’s now frowning. “Yeah, didn’t he text you? He told me he wasn’t coming today.”

“Wait, he texted you?”

Nodding, Hizashi unlocks his phone and opens the text, before handing Shouta his phone. Sure as shit, the kid did text him.

“I mean, I thought it was a bit weird, that he wouldn’t just text you. But I wasn’t sure if you had mentioned something to him earlier, or….”

Shouta snorts without humor, folding himself into one of the wooden chairs across from Hizashi. “I….he’s mad at me. We had a little bit of a fight, I guess.”

Hizashi nods, offering a sympathetic smile. One of the many things he loves about his husband is that sympathy has never looked like pity on his face. “I’m sure he’ll come around soon.”

“Yeah, well,” Shouta half-shrugs. “I guess he’ll just be a brat in the meantime.”

His husband chuckles, but it’s short-lived and he still looks just as concerned. Shouta sighs.

“I just….I need to apologize to him. But I’m not gonna force him to talk to me.” Well, except in class. If Midoriya refuses to participate or acknowledge him as his teacher, then they’re going to have serious problems.

Midoriya, however, is as model a student as he has been all semester. They’re just reviewing in class right now, prepping for final exams, but he can’t spot any substantial change in Midoriya’s behavior. He still volunteers to answer questions, and speaks when spoken to.

The only thing he’s picked up on is how he won’t meet Shouta’s eyes unless he absolutely has to, but that’s….fine. It’s fine.

The first day back he tries to talk to the kid after class, but before he can even say anything to him he’s bustling out of the classroom with Uraraka, Iida, and Todoroki at his side.

He’s glad he’s making friends--and he’s still studying, that much is clear. But he just won’t talk to him.

A day or two of the almost-silent treatment is fine, it’s understandable. But after a week of it?

Now Shouta is just annoyed.

“He’s being a petulant brat,” Shouta says to his husband, the evening before the practical exams. He hasn’t finished grading the written tests yet, but he has graded Midoriya’s already. He passed of course, and his score was definitely above average. Setting Ashido’s aside--she too had passed, but not as well as Midoriya had--he turns to face Hizashi, who’s sitting on the couch across from him, grading papers of his own.

Considering Shouta has been, well, complaining about the kid on-and-off all night, Hizashi just nods, offering him a small smile.

“I know it’s hard, that he won’t talk to you, but you can’t really force him to--especially if he’s still talking to you in classes and doing all of his work.”

“Of course he is,” Shouta mutters. It wouldn’t be like him, to act out in class over some petty argument.

But then again, it’s also not like him to not even hear Shouta out.

“He’s probably nervous about the practical exams, too. I know you can’t stop yourself babe, but try not to worry about it too much, yeah?”

“I guess,” Shouta sighs. He feels a bit childish himself, getting worked up over this. Midoriya’s a kid, Shouta’s supposed to be the adult in the situation! Instead of trying to rationalize his feelings like he normally would he just feels….upset.

“I should just--” he starts, before cutting himself off. Hizashi chuckles at him.

“You should what? Ground him?” Shouta crosses his arms, darting his gaze, and Hizashi just continues to laugh. “As much as you’re a father-figure to him, I’m pretty sure only his mother can do that.”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Shouta says, shaking his head as he readjusts himself on the couch cushions. “I’m his teacher, not his father--or father figure. Whatever.”

“Whatever you say, Big Cat,” Hizashi smirks, before guffawing once Shouta throws a pillow at him. He manages a smirk after, but it’s short lived. Again he sighs.

“If I was his father, I wouldn’t have fucked up like this,” Shotua mutters. With a soft smile, Hizashi rubs into his back with the palm of his hand, and Shouta leans into the touch.

“Don’t worry, Shou, really. Everyone says things they regret--and it’s not like you shouldn’t have lectured him in the first place.”

Shouta nods. He doesn’t regret most of what he said--what he regrets is how he said it. Especially implying that the was disappointed in Midoriya. Well. He was a bit disappointed, considering how many times they’ve gone over this same issue, but he wasn’t disappointed with him as a person. Of course not--he didn’t want to admit it to the kid as he fears it would only encourage him to continue to get himself into reckless danger, but he is, genuinely, proud of how Midoriya and the others were able to take down the Hero Killer. They shouldn’t have had to--but still. He is proud of how far he’s come as a hero.

Hopefully soon, he’ll be able to properly explain that to the kid.

--------

Izuku isn’t really sure what to expect for the practical exams.

All they’ve been told so far is to get dressed into their hero gear, and then head outside. Most of his classmates think it’s going to be another fight against robots, but Izuku seriously doubts that. Considering they’ve done that for both the entrance exams and the Sports Festival, it would be unlike U.A. to keep rehashing the same fights over and over again.

Apparently, he was right, as the principal soon pops out of Mr Aizawa’s capture weapon to explain the test to them. When he finds out they’ll be fighting actual pro heroes, his stomach does both a flip of nervousness and excitement. It’s going to be tough, of course, but it will be an invaluable experience to fight real pros head-on.

When it’s announced both who he’s paired up with and who he’s going to be fighting, his stomach drops completely, tentative smile now wiped from his face.

Kacchan--he has to work with Kacchan. Not fight Kacchan, but actually work as a team with him.

Izuku just doesn’t see how that’s going to be possible. And considering the hole Kacchan is trying to burn into the back of his head with his sharp glower, he doesn't seem to be too sure either.

Not only that, but they’re going to be fighting All Might. To take on the Number One Hero, even when he’s obviously not going to be fighting them with his full strength, is still a daunting task.

As the rest of the pairs and opponents are announced, Izuku realizes--it’s not Principal Nedzu or anyone who decided the pairings. It definitely would’ve been Mr Aizawa.

For the first time all week, Izuku willing makes eye contact with his teacher. He doesn’t smile, doesn’t say anything to him, just stares until Mr Aizawa looks away.

He’s not really mad at Mr Aizawa anymore--even he can see how irrational he was being earlier. He just….wasn’t ready to talk to him. Mostly because he didn’t (doesn’t) want to face his own issues of self-worth, but also, he just wasn’t sure what to say. Wasn’t sure if he was still disappointed in him. He knows Mr Aizawa has been trying to reach out to him since their conversation, but he’s just too worried that Mr Aizawa is still upset with him. And he doesn't want to face him, not now.

And maybe it was random, or maybe it was some kind of algorithm his teacher made to determine who the pairings would be. But the fact that he’s been paired with Kacchan, considering Mr Aizawa has an inkling of their history….

Well, it kind of feels like a punishment.

Rationally, he knows that Mr Aizawa isn’t the type of person to seek any sort of petty revenge--especially against a student. But maybe he’s trying to teach him a lesson, about knowingly putting himself at risk like he had in Hosu. Or, maybe, it’s just a coincidence that Kacchan would be his best match for this exam.

It sure doesn’t feel like it, though.

--------

“Kacchan, I really think that we should--”

“Don’t talk to me,” his classmate gruffs out, making a point to walk ahead of Izuku. Stifling a sigh, he runs to catch up.

“You do realize we’re a team, right? And we’re facing off against All Might!” It still feels weird, to be saying that--the man he’s hero worshipped for so long, he’s now going to try and take down in a fight? He knows it’s just an exam, that it’s not a real fight, but still. It feels….wrong, somehow.

Even so, that doesn’t mean he’s not going to give the exam his all. Kacchan, however, seems to have other ideas.

“I know who we’re fucking fighting, thank you,” he says, still not looking at him. “I just don’t need your help to beat him.”

Izuku blinks dumbly at him. The shock almost causes him to pause in his steps, but he manages to keep pace. “Kacchan, even you have to realize that you can’t take him on by yourself.”

“Yeah? Watch me.”

“Kacchan, you’re being stupid! Don’t you want to actually--”

His words are cut off with a pained grunt, as Kacchan’s fist collides with his cheek. The force of it knocks him to the ground. It knocked him on his feet, sure, but Izuku doesn’t think it’ll even bruise--he can tell that his classmate was holding back.

“Don’t call me stupid, you quirkless freak,” Kacchan seethes, before turning and continuing to walk towards the center of the fake city. “I don’t need your help to pass, you’ll only hold me back!”

“I’m not quirkless, jackass,” Izuku says. That causes Kacchan to stop. As he turns around, Izuku stands, brushing himself off as he meets Kacchan’s murderous expression with an even gaze. “You were there when I gained my quirk, after all. Don’t you remember?”

For once, Izuku has left Kacchan speechless. Izuku doesn't have time to process his surprise at doing so, however, as an absolute onslaught of wind sends him tumbling back over. Once the air has settled he blinks, eyes focusing as he takes in the destruction before him.

It was--just with one punch, he nearly leveled the city!

He knows that All Might is weakened, but to still possess this much power? It’s unimaginable.

“Being a villain and all, I can’t say I’m too concerned about this collateral damage. As heroes, you two should be more vigilant.”

His voice….it’s so familiar to Izuku, but hearing him talk like a villain, voice lowering slightly as to increase his intimidation--the shock of it almost leaves him standing there defenseless when All Might begins his charge for them.

Luckily, he moves out of the way just in time--Kacchan, however, clearly has other ideas as with a scream he’s launched himself directly towards All Might.

For a second Izuku thinks he might actually land a hit, but as he expected All Might completely blocks him, grabbing at his face with his hand and completely shrugging off the explosions Kacchan is trying to inflict onto him.

Izuku nearly winces as he watches Kacchan be slammed into the ground by All Might, who then immediately turns his sights to Izuku.

Forcing down his nerves Izuku poses at the ready--he still thinks they should fucking run, but for now it looks like they won’t have the chance. All Might is still smiling his signature smile but it looks off, somehow.

All Might looks like he’s about to attack, or at least say something, but then he….doesn’t. If Izuku didn’t know any better he’d say that All Might is….hesitating?

Not giving himself proper time to fully comprehend the situation, he then takes advantage of it and activates his quirk and leaps into the air, leg ready to--

He’s hit, and at first he thinks is that it’s All Might but he didn’t even see All Might move. He then lands with an oof and realizes that it’s Kacchan who hit him while trying to go in for his own attack.

“Stay out of my way!” Kacchan shouts, absolutely seething as he turns to face All Might. “If you want to run, then run! But I’m going to stay here and fucking fight him, like a real hero would!”

“Kacchan, you’re being insane!” he shouts in response, words seemingly slipping through his lips on their own accord. “If you could put your ego aside for one second, you’d realize that you can’t win this fight! A real hero would know when he’s outmatched.”

You may be outmatched, but I’m not, you fucking wannabe.”

A chill runs through Izuku’s spine as he absorbs Kacchan’s statement. He finds himself smiling and it feels warped on his face.

“I know you don’t want a cripple helping you win, but right now working together to escape is our best chance at passing.”

He almost regrets the words as soon as he says them, especially when Kacchan’s eyes widen and he looks….genuinely stricken?

“What? That’s not what I--”

Izuku doesn’t get the chance to hear Kacchan finish. Instead, his body erupts into sharp pain as something slams into his back, forcing him to the ground. He tries to pick himself back up, but he can’t.

He soon realizes that All Might has trapped him with a guard rail, and he can only watch as the “villain” slams a devastating punch into Kacchan’s stomach. He grunts, loud, and is sent flying backward. All Might then walks over to Kacchan again, smiling.

“You can’t always rely solely on your own strength, Bakugou,” All Might says above him. Kacchan is splayed out on the concrete, trying and failing to bring himself to his feet. “Part of being a hero is knowing when you need to ask for help.”

“Yeah? Well then I’d rather lose than accept help from him! It wouldn’t be a real win if I didn’t do it myself.”

All Might doesn’t say anything to that, he just looks….disappointed. It’s obvious that he’s about to finish Kacchan off, and seeing that causes something to snap in Izuku. Activating his quirk, he musters up all of the strength he can and brings himself onto his shaking legs, throwing the guardrail off of himself before deactivating his quirk. After a split second he reactivates it, sprinting over to the duo and hastily grabbing Kacchan’s arm before running off with him.

He doesn’t really know where he’s running to, just knowing that he has to get away from All Might. Kacchan still thrown over his shoulder as he ducks into an alleyway, dropping his classmate as gently as he can.

Before he can even stick his head out to check if All Might had tailed them, he finds his breath cut off, pinned to the closest wall by Kacchan’s gauntlet pressing into his chest.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, Deku?”

For a moment Izuku considers mustering a bit of his quirk to throw his classmate off of him, but he doesn’t. Instead he keeps his breathing even, if shallow, and stares Kacchan down.

“What’s wrong with me? You’re the one who thinks you can take down All Might single-handedly! We’re not going to beat him, Kacchan, we have to--”

“I don’t know why you keep saying ‘we,’” Kacchan sneers. “I’m going to defeat him myself--you’ll just get in my way.”

Izuku blinks. He shouldn’t be shocked considering this behaviour is so typical of his once-friend, but even so. To have the absolute nerve to think he can take down the Number One Hero?!

After a prolonged moment Kacchan steps away from Izuku, and he tries not to gasp for air.

“So you’d rather lose, than run away? You’d rather lose than accept my help?”

Back turned to him, Kacchan glares over his shoulder. “You don’t want to help, you want to run away. If that’s how you think a hero should act, you should just drop out now and save yourself the trouble.”

“A real hero wouldn’t throw himself into danger when he knows he’s just going to lose!” Izuku says, and he tries not to linger on how it sounds like he’s echoing Mr Aizawa in his words.

“....Do what you want,” is all Kacchan says before running back out into the city.

Izuku clenches his fist, frustration threatening to boil over. He knows this is a mock battle, but if it was real, Kacchan would be on a suicide mission. It’s just not rational!

Part of him, however, wants to stick by his side. Wants to fight All Might and ultimately lose together unless he can finally convince Kacchan to come to his senses.

But he really doesn’t see that happening.

Instead, he exits the alleyway through the opposite end that Kacchan did, weaving through the narrow streets for a bit until he reenters the main road.

Sparing a glance back, he can see All Might and Kacchan still locked in battle--if one could even call it that. His classmate is obviously losing, and badly--he’s not going to last much longer.

He must’ve hesitated for a beat too long, because All Might finally spots him, catching his eye. With a burst of speed from his quirk Izuku sprints to the exit, running as fast as he can manage--

When he can practically feel All Might catching up to him, he leaps off the ground with all the strength he can muster, flying away from All Might and over the gate.

He lands with a yelp, unable to reactivate his quirk in time considering how much power he used. He tries to roll with it, but he still lands on his arm in a very unpleasant way. He hopes it’ll just sprain or bruise, and isn’t actually broken. Again.

Suddenly a large hand reaches out to him, but when All Might notices how he’s curled over on his arm, he gingerly grips his shoulders and helps him to his feet. He meets All Might with a grateful smile.

“Good work, young Midoriya!” All Might says, and Izuku’s smile only grows. “Congratulations on passing--although I have to say, I wasn’t expecting you two to split up like that. I was hoping you’d have worked together a bit more.”

Without conscious thought Izuku’s expression darkens, and All Might looks at him a bit curiously.

“Yeah, well,” is all he says. All Might looks like he wants to say more, but apparently decides to drop it.

Peeking around, he can see Bakugou walking up towards them. He’s clearly beaten and battered, but at least his on his feet. All Might turns to him.

“Good work as well, young Bakugou. The strategy of splitting up was risky, but you managed to hold me off long enough for Izuku to escape!”

Bakugou says nothing--he doesn’t even look at All Might. The hero, again, looks a bit confused but only nods.

“You should both head on back to see Recovery Girl,” All Might says, and Izuku nods. They all begin walking towards the tent where Recovery Girl is set up, when Kacchan stops.

“I think we can make it there on our own.”

All Might blinks. “Are you both sure--?”

Kacchan doesn’t say anything, just glares. Midoriya eyes Kacchan, then All Might, before nodding.

He looks a bit reluctant to go but eventually does, saying he’ll go regroup with the rest of the staff. Kacchan and him continue walking.

They walk slowly (Kacchan almost limping, but very much trying to hide it) in thick, tense silence. It’s only when they’re almost to the tent, that Kacchan stops.

Frowning, Izuku turns towards him. “Kacchan? Are you--?”

The okay on his tongue is ripped from him as Kacchan’s fist collides with his jaw for the second time that day. It’s only when he finds himself on the ground, still reeling in shock, that he realizes his cheek isn’t just throbbing--it feels like it’s burning.

With ginger fingers he touches it--it’s hot to the touch and painful from the hit, but otherwise he doesn’t think it’ll leave a burn mark, just a nasty bruise.

He’s not really appalled that Kacchan used his full strength (or whatever he could muster with his injuries) to hit him. What leaves him gaping is that Kacchan actually used his quirk against him. He was holding back on that part, but even so--

“Bakugou.”

Blinking, Izuku turns his head and sees Mr Aizawa staring at them, now walking over. He can almost feel Kacchan tense up beside him.

“You both should head into the tent, shouldn’t you?” he says, and Izuku nods. Folding his legs underneath him he brings himself to his feet without the aid of his arm. Mr Aizawa only seems to glare further.

Without another word they finish their walk to the tent, Recovery Girl tutting about All Might overdoing it as she tends to their wounds. Kacchan must’ve been on the verge of passing out, since as soon as Recovery Girl starts her healing, he falls back onto the bed, out cold.

Izuku is also drained after his own healing--his arm is just sprained, thankfully--but he manages to stay awake. Mr Aizawa and Recovery Girl share a look, and with a shake of her head Recovery Girl exits the makeshift room and returns to overseeing the rest of the exams.

Perched on the edge of his bed, he still won’t meet Mr Aizawa’s eyes, who’s staring at him in the chair across from the bed. Finally, Izuku sighs.

“Please don’t punish him,” Izuku says quietly. Mr Aizawa tilts his head.

“And why shouldn’t I? He punched an injured student, unprovoked. If I didn’t think he still had potential as a hero, I’d expel him on the spot.”

“Please,” Izuku repeats, head hanging low. “I shouldn’t have--it was my fault, that he--”

“Stop right there,” Mr Aizawa states, and Izuku shuts his lips. “It absolutely wasn’t your fault--I don’t care what happened during the exam, but it doesn’t justify what he did.”

Izuku tries to rebuttal, but Mr Aizawa stops him with a raised hand before he can do more than inhale.

“But,” he starts. “I would like to know why you think it’s your fault. If you’d be willing to tell me.”

Izuku says nothing for a long moment. This time it’s Mr Aizawa who sighs.

“If you tell me, I might reconsider suspending Bakugou.”

Izuku meets Mr Aizawa’s eyes. “I…” he mutters, before stopping. His teacher doesn’t say anything else, just gives him time.

“I, yeah. Okay. I’ll tell you.”

So he does. He tells Mr Aizawa about how he and Kacchan used to be something of friends, but it stopped when he was seven. How he used to get teased for being quirkless, and then got almost shunned for being disabled. How Kacchan was there when his quirk manifested, how he convinced Izuku to try it out.

….How he lost his arm.

Once he finishes, silent tears slipping down his cheeks, Mr Aizawa just sits there. He seems to be absorbing the words, but the silence makes Izuku anxious.

“It wasn’t his fault,” Izuku blurts out. Mr Aizawa raises an eyebrow at him. “I mean,” Izuku continues, a bit sheepishly. “He told me to use it, yes, but we were just kids! We couldn’t have imagined that it--that it would--”

“Even if you were that young,” Mr Aizawa cuts him off. “He still shouldn’t have pressured you like that. He should’ve known better at that age.”

“It was so long ago,” Izuku says, trying to wave him off so they can fucking drop it. “It doesn’t matter anymore, really.”

“It clearly does,” Mr Aizawa states, in the stitled way that tells Izuku he’s trying to contain his anger.

“It doesn’t, really. He just--we both didn’t know better.”

“Yeah? And what’s his excuse this time?”

Izuku says nothing. Again Mr Aizawa sighs.

“Let me ask you--do you not want Bakugou to be punished because you genuinely don’t think he deserves it, or because you think he’ll lash out at you because of it?”

He blinks, frowning. “No, he--I’m sure it was the adrenaline wearing off, after the exam. I’m sure he was just frustrated. I’m not--I’m not worried about him seeking….revenge, or anything. I just don’t think you should suspend him.”

Aizawa stills for a minute, before nodding. “All right. I’m still going to give him detention because I cannot excuse this, but I won’t suspend him.”

Izuku manages a curve of his lips. “Thank you.”

“We’re not done talking about this, however,” Mr Aizawa says, although is voice is now almost painfully gentle. “This is clearly something that is affecting both of your abilities to function together as classmates, and it needs to be addressed.”

“I--yeah. Okay.”

His teacher nods. “Good. We can continue later, though. You should get some rest and heal.”

“Actually,” Izuku starts, “I’d like to watch the rest of the exams, if that’s okay.”

Mr Aizawa pauses, then shrugs. Izuku swears he can see a hint of a smirk on his face.

“Yeah, whatever. Just get the all clear from Recovery Girl, okay?”

“Yes, Mr Aizawa.”

As his teacher turns to leave, Izuku just can’t help himself.

“I’m sorry for missing our lesson, the other day. I should’ve at least called.”

Mr Aizawa snorts, and this time Izuku truly sees him smile. “It’s okay, kid. “We’ll talk later, okay?”

“....Yeah, okay.”

Once his teacher has left, Izuku shakes his head, standing as he goes to find Recovery Girl in the viewing room.

Chapter Text

Shouta knows he shouldn’t be surprised when he comes downstairs and sees Midoriya seated at the kitchen table, Hizashi already pouring the kid a glass of orange juice. He knows he shouldn’t be, yet somehow he still is.

With a short nod of acknowledgement, he walks over to the coffee pot, pouring himself a mug. He feels his husband wrap an arm around his shoulder, giving him a small squeeze and a kiss followed by a quick Morning, babe! before slipping away to his office.

Stifling a sigh Shouta sits himself down across from the kid, who’s smiling tentatively at him.

“Didn’t we cancel today’s training because camp starts this week?” Shouta asks with a raised brow. It’s Saturday, which would usually mean training, but Shouta knows how intense this camp is going to be for them and with finals having just finished, the kid deserves a break.

Midoriya, however, doesn’t know the meaning of the word. He sets his glass down, meeting Shouta’s eyes.

“I know. I just….I came to apologize. I know I’ve been a brat over the past few weeks, and that wasn’t fair to you.”

Shouta shakes his head. “No, I should be the one apologizing to you.” The kid tilts his head slightly, and Shouta barrels on. “I shouldn’t have said that I was disappointed in you. Because I’m not. I’m just….as much as I disagree with some of the laws regarding and regulating hero work, we still have to follow them. I’m proud that you were able to save Iida. But also I’m…”

He sighs. Midoriya’s face is mostly blank, except for his eyes, wide with mild confusion. Shouta takes a minute to gather his words and the kid gives him time.

“When we first started training, I promised your mom I’d protect you.” At that, the kid opens his mouth, ready to argue, but Shouta holds up one of his hands. “Let me finish. I know that was years ago when you didn’t know how to control your quirk, but the sentiment remains. Protecting you means both protecting you from danger, and protecting you from yourself. You’re lucky the Chief was willing to strike a deal, but next time you might not be so lucky. If you get expelled from U.A. for lawbreaking, no other hero course will take you on. Not after you’ve been kicked out of the most prestigious one.

“I don’t think what you did was wrong. If you and Todoroki hadn’t shown up, Iida and Native would most likely be dead, and the Hero Killer would still be roaming the streets. But you just-you can’t act outside of the law. You just can’t, especially so young.”

Midoriya goes quiet for a moment, looking down at his half-full glass. This time it’s him who sighs.

“I know. I know that I… I don’t know what else I was supposed to do, though.”

“I… you did the right thing,” Shouta says. “Helping people is always the right thing. But you have to understand what consequences your actions can have. Try talking to the pros next time. I know you said they were busy but just--just try, alright? At least tell them what you’re doing. They can’t save everyone, of course, but they’re there to try.”

“...You’re right,” Midoriya says quietly. “I’m sorry.”

Shouta waves him off. “Apology accepted, but it’s fine. You saved two lives that night, and I’m proud that you did so.”

The kid shakes his head, cheeks turning red. He’s never been all that good at accepting praise, no matter how much he deserves it.

“Thank you, Mr Aizawa.”

“You’re welcome. Now, since you’re here, we need to talk about Bakugou.”

At that the kid goes quiet again, almost stiff. His blush is gone, and his gaze on Shouta is almost piercing. He frowns.

“What’s there to talk about? You gave him detention, didn’t you?”

Shouta nods. “I did. He’ll be serving it after the training camp. But that’s not what I’m concerned about. What I am concerned with is the history you two have together.”

Midoriya grimaces, shaking his head. “I told you everything. We were walking home from school, my quirk activated for the first time and I didn’t know what to do, he suggested that I use it, and, well…” He trails off, gaze averting away from Shouta and back towards his orange juice. He takes a sip.

“And you were friends at the time, right?”

“I guess so,” the kid shrugs. “We were closer when I was younger. Before I… before the doctors said I was quirkless.”

Ah. That makes sense--he remembers the audio recordings from their first training exercise, when Bakugou had called Midoriya quirkless. Shouta knew that his quirk came in late, but for Bakugou to still have such resentment over it…

“After the incident, what happened?”

“I didn’t see him again until U.A.”

Shouta frowns. “He just cut off contact with you?”

Again the kid shrugs. “His mom is good friends with my mom, so I tried to see if he wanted to come visit at the hospital but he….didn’t. I tried after too, I figured maybe his issue was with the hospital? But we didn’t hang out again, so I don’t think that’s what it was.”

At the kid’s words Shouta can feel his own anger growing. This damn kid, who’s without a doubt one of the most selfless kids he’s ever met, abandoned by the only person he considered a friend, who couldn’t even bare to visit him in the hospital after experiencing a devastating injury?

He tries to reel in his emotions as he knows they’re not rational. It was years ago, they were both much younger at the time, and given the circumstances surrounding the injury…

“It wasn’t right of him, to abandon you like that--”

“He didn’t abandon me.” Midoriya cuts him off. “I didn’t--”

“He did.” Shouta states, firm but quiet. Midoriya seems to bite down his own rebuttal. “He abandoned you completely, it was wrong, but I think… I think he might have felt guilty. He might still feel guilty.”

Midoriya frowns, cocking his head in genuine confusion. “Guilty? Over what?”

Shouta blinks. “I… you said he egged you on, didn’t he? To use your quirk?”

“I mean he suggested it, but he didn’t know! He thought if I used my quirk, it would shut off!”

“I know that, but I don’t think that’s how he saw it.”

The kid goes silent for a moment, biting his lip. “I mean….maybe. But it wasn’t his fault. I just don’t think he likes me.”

“I can’t say what his opinions on you are now. But I don’t think that’s all there was to it.”

Again the kid says nothing to that. Shouta stands, returning to the coffee pot to pour the last dredges into his cup. Midoriya is still deep in thought, clearly having some sort of revelation about his once-friend.

It’s such a testament to the kid, that he hadn’t even considered Bakugou would feel guilty. He knows that Bakugou doesn’t, well….he doesn’t exactly express his emotions well. Midoriya would never blame Bakugou for what happened, even when a lesser person might. The thought didn’t even cross his mind. But that wouldn’t occur to Bakugou.

“Again,” Shouta says, walking back to the table and next to the kid. “It doesn’t excuse his actions. If it weren’t for your insistence, he’d be suspended right now.”

The kid looks up at him, and he’s almost smiling. “Thank you.”

Shouta wants to roll his eyes, but doesn’t. “Don’t thank me. I’m still mad about what he did, and I am going to chew him out.”

Suddenly the kid’s expression turns to one of worry, and Shouta hastily continues. “I won’t mention anything you told me about what happened, of course. I wouldn’t betray your trust like that.”

Midoriya visibly relaxes. “Thank you.”

Shouta hesitates a moment before reaching out and lightly ruffling the kid’s hair. Finally, a genuine smile forms across his lips.

“Of course.”

--------

“What do you need, Midoriya?”

Izuku hums, looking down at the mall directory on his phone. “I was going to pick up some weighted ankle bracelets. What about you?”

Uraraka shakes her head slightly, grinning wide. “You’re always so focused, Midoriya! Do you ever work on anything besides training?”

“Well, I study,” Midoriya says, smiling sheepishly, and Uraraka laughs.

“I need some bug spray--I think there’s a store for camping supplies on the second floor. Do you wanna split up and meet here after?”

“Sure! Sounds good.”

Izuku waves to Uraraka as she bounces off towards the escalators. He turns back to his phone, frowning. He knows there’s a bunch of sport outlets in the mall, but there was one store in particular he was looking for…

“Hey, you’re the kid from the Sports Festival, right? Do you think I could have an autograph?”

Izuku blinks, looking up to the man who approached him. It’s still so surreal for him, being recognized while he’s out-

As soon as he makes eye contact with the man though, his stomach drops, blood running cold. Tomura Shigaraki. Memories from the USJ come spitting back at him, almost overloading his brain. He remembers that dry, cracked hand pressing into his neck, one finger away from completely-

“Let’s take a walk, shall we?”

As soon as Shigaraki wraps an arm around his shoulder, Izuku knows he has no choice in the matter. As much as he desires to fight this villain, he knows that doing so in such a crowded mall would put so many lives at risk.

Well. Shigaraki isn’t as dumb as he looks, apparently.

The villain begins pulling him along at a steady stroll, the passersby completely oblivious that a murderous villain shares the atrium with them. Finally they stop, both sitting down at the edge of the fountain, right in the center of the mall.

Maybe if he was more skilled with his left hand, he’d be able to write out a message on his phone. But with Shigaraki so close and knowing how he’d likely just fumble with the keys, he keeps himself still.

Three fingers, pressing into his shoulder.

And then Shigaraki begins talking.

“You know, Midoriya Izuku, I really do hate you.”

His voice is akin to nails on a chalkboard, and Izuku finds himself struggling not to wince in response. Instead he forces his face to remain blank and continues listening to the villain’s drivel.

“I hate a lot of things, you know. Heroes, mostly. You, definitely. This shitty society that those so-called heroes have helped to build. But what I really hate most right now is that damned Hero Killer.”

Well. That’s not what he was expecting the villain to say. After a moment he realizes that Shigaraki has gone silent, apparently awaiting a response. Izuku clears his throat.

“Then why did you work with him, if you hate it so much?”

Shigaraki laughs. It has a biting ring to it.

“You shouldn’t believe everything the media tells you. The Hero Killer wasn’t exactly a part of our little group. His ideals….didn’t really line up with ours.”

“Oh yeah? How so?”

Izuku swears he feels Shigaraki flinch, as if not expecting the stark reply. If he did flinch, however, it doesn’t give him any pause, as he just chuckles and barrels on.

“Let’s say, he has a little too much respect for that Number One Hero of yours.”

All Might? Izuku nearly blurts out, but he manages to bite his tongue. At first he finds it hard to believe that the Hero Killer would have respect for any hero….but he did say that to Izuku, didn’t he?

”You remind me of another hero--another actual hero. The publicly appointed Number One Hero, that is.”

He must’ve blocked out most of the fight afterwards, coming down from an adrenaline high, but at Shigaraki’s words the thoughts come rushing back. He feels his hand starts to twitch as bile rises in his throat.

Shigaraki doesn’t seem to notice his silence, just continuing with his monologue, three fingers still digging into the thin fabric covering Izuku’s shoulder.

“It’s just not fair. You understand that, don’t you?”

Izuku absolutely does not understand that, but doesn’t say anything. Shigaraki shakes his head.

“We’re both doing the same thing, aren’t we? We’re both fighting against the same final boss and yet he gets all the recognition! It’s like the media is casting me as some side character, some unimportant NPC.”

Izuku can’t help himself--he doesn’t know if it’s his spiraling anxiety or racing adrenaline, but he can’t stop himself from letting out a barking laugh. He doesn’t dare turn his head, but he can tell Shigaraki is staring at him.

“Did you find something funny, Izuku?”

The overfamiliarity if his first name sends a chill through his spine. He manages to shove it down and ignore if for the moment, instead forcing control over his voice as he replies to Shigaraki.

“It’s just-”

“It’s just what?” Shigaraki asks with mock-kindness. “Do you have an answer as to what makes us so different?”

Izuku swallows, hard.

“You think your character arc is more important than his, but it’s not. I have no respect for either of you, but at least Stain followed through on his ideals. You’re both inspired by All Might, but you seemed to have missed something- both Stain and All Might don’t back down when they’re losing. They don’t turn the console off. They keep fighting, and they stick by their beliefs.”

The words are out of his mouth before he even registers what he’s saying. After his jaw clenches shut he expects two more fingers to dig into his shoulder, but Shigaraki doesn’t move. Instead, he laughs- loud, boisterous, and a little raspy. Izuku can’t tell if it’s fake or not.

“Of course! A brat like you understands, but not me? It was right in front of me the whole time! The problem is All Might- he’s what’s wrong with society. His mere presence gives people a warped sense of safety, so they can smile thoughtlessly when he’s around.”

A fourth finger presses down into his shoulder. Izuku nearly activates his quirk, but manages to steel himself. After an eternal, agonizing moment, Shigaraki finally lets his hand fall. Izuku feels like he can breathe again.

“Thank you, Izuku. Really.”

It’s all Izuku can do to watch him go, to keep an eye on him, to make sure-

“Hey, Midoriya! Who was that man you were talking to?”

It’s not until he’s staring into Uraraka’s face that he realizes who the voice was coming from, and that it was directed at him. Suddenly and abruptly, he finds himself jolted out of his stupor, and is finally able to fully grasp the situation.

“Police, call the police,” Izuku manages. “Shigaraki--it was Shigaraki.”

He’s shaking, he realizes. He’s shaking, fumbling for his phone, until Uraraka gently takes it from his hand. She places a hand on his knee, grounding him.

“Breathe, Midoriya. It’s going to be okay, okay?” she says gently to him. “Breathe, it’s okay, I’m going to call the police now, okay?”

Breathe? Oh, he’s not breathing, is he? Well he’s trying to breathe, but all he’s getting in are short, struggling gasps. After a moment he manages a few deep, even breaths.

“Tsukauchi. Ask for him, he’s working on the case regarding the League.”

“Okay I will Izuku, don’t worry, okay? It’s going to be alright.”

--------

Izuku doesn’t know how much time had passed by the time the police arrived. He’s too focused on his breathing and his trembling jaw to notice.

Tsukauchi does show up, and so does All MIght. Well, not that anyone else knows it’s All Might, save Tsukauchi.

Well, him….and Mr Aizawa.

“Midoriya,” his teacher says, rushing over to him. They’re at the precinct now- him, All Might, Tsukauchi, and Mr Aizawa. They’d come so the detective could take his statement, to which he recounted everything he could about the incident. He notices All MIght wince when he hears how….well, how callous Izuku had been to the villain.

He tries not to dwell on it too much.

But now he’s waiting in the lobby, in a much better state of mind, when Mr Aizawa runs over to him.

“I’m okay, Mr Aizawa,” he says gently. “And not that I’m not happy to see you, but….why are you here?”

“Your mom couldn’t make it over here due to the trains, and I’m your you emergency contact, so. Here I am.”

Izuku snorts, shaking his head as he stands. “Right, forgot about that.”

“You sure you’re okay? They said he didn’t hurt you, but…”

“I’m fine, really. I mean…” Izuku sighs, fighting for the right words. “It was….scary, because I felt so helpless. I know I could’ve tried to fight him, but that would’ve caused so much panic, and he likely would’ve gotten away and taken a few lives with him. I couldn’t shout or call for help, obviously. So I just….I just had to go along with him. I felt like I didn’t have any other choice.”

“You did the right thing,” Mr Aizawa states. “I’m just glad he didn’t hurt you.”

Izuku nods. “I know, but I… I knew he would hurt me, but I knew he wasn’t going to kill me.”

His teacher’s eyes narrow, brow creasing. “And how do you know that?”

“If you’re going to kill me, why not just do it?”

“No, no I’m not sure if I want to kill you today. Mess you up, sure. Lasting damage, that’d be fine. But is it really worth my time to kill you?”

“Because he had the opportunity to do so at the USJ. But…. he didn’t.”

“Just because he shows a temporary ounce of sympathy doesn’t mean it’s going to last.”

“I know, I know,” Izuku relents. He does know that, it’s just….

“I just wasn’t as scared as I could’ve been. I was still scared, but….”

He trails off. Mr Aizawa seems to understand, somehow, and gently wraps an arm around him. Izuku finds himself leaning into the touch, desperate to get the sting of the villain off of his skin.

“I know, kid. You’re going to be okay, though. Let’s get you home.”

--------

“Hey, Shinsou!”

Hitoshi frowns, turning towards the shout. His frown relaxes when he sees it’s Midoriya waving to him as he walks over, duffle bag slung over his shoulder.

“Hey, Midoriya,” he says. The other student is grinning, but obviously confused.

“What are you doing here? Are you coming to the training camp with us?”

“I, yeah,” he mutters, awkwardly shifting his weight. “I talked to Mr Aizawa like you said, and he agreed to help train me. Said I could tag along with you all as a start.”

Midoriya’s smile turns impossibly wider and somehow brighter. “That’s great, Shinsou! I’m happy you’re coming!”

Hitoshi blinks. “You are….?”

At his response Midoriya looks visibly thrown off, but he’s quick to recover. “Of course I am! If Mr Aizawa also sees your potential, then you’re going to be transferred into the hero course for sure!”

Snorting, Hitoshi shakes his head as he readjusts his own duffle bag and begins walking towards the bus, Midoriya following close behind him. “Well, let’s hope I don’t disappoint him, yeah?”

The other student laughs, stowing his own luggage next to Hitoshi’s. “I’m sure you won’t, Shinsou.”

They board the bus--Shinsou is fully prepared to sit by himself in the back, and is thus surprised when Midoriya sits himself next to him.

He must’ve been staring, as Midoriya’s smile turns tentative. “Were you saving this seat, or--?”

“No,” Hitoshi blurts out. “No, I wasn’t.”

The ride to the training camp is fairly uneventful, most of the students just chattering away with one another. He's.... honestly surprised no one complained about him coming along. Maybe they didn’t notice?

He talks to Midoriya a bit, mostly about recent hero news. Hitoshi has always been more interested in underground heroes, and he’s a bit surprised to find that Midoriya is too.

Still, though. As nice as it is to talk to Midoriya, Hitoshi can still tell that the other student is distracted. He’s not sure with what, and he doesn’t think it’s his place to ask. As friendly as Midoriya has been to him, they’re still not that close.

He does notice how Midoriya keeps sparing glances towards Todoroki, who’s sitting next to a blue-haired kid who’s name Hitoshi doesn’t remember.

“You could’ve sat with him,” Hitoshi says quietly during a lull in conversation. Midoriya blinks, almost wildly, looking towards Hitoshi as if he’d grown a second head.

“I--what? Sit next to who?”

Hitoshi nearly rolls his eyes. “Half-and-half over there. Todoroki.”

Again Midoriya blinks, now shaking his head. “No, I wanted to sit next to you, Shinsou! And besides, he--he’s sitting next to Iida, I doubt he wanted to sit next to me anyways.”

Uh huh. Sure.

Hitoshi doesn’t press him, letting the topic drop. After that, Midoriya tries to be more sneaky about his sidelong gazes, but fails miserably at it.

Soon enough, the bus stops, and Mr Aizawa says that they’re parked for a quick rest stop. Hitoshi begins clambering off the bus along with everyone else. He was hoping for a vending machine, or at least a bathroom, but the “rest area” is just a patch of dirt overlooking a seemingly endless woods.

Also….

“Hey, Midoriya,” Hitoshi says, and his classmate turns to him with raised brows. “Isn’t the other hero class supposed to be here, too?”

Midoriya’s brows narrow. “Yeah, they’re--”

His classmate is cut off, however, by the sound of a car door slamming shut. Both of them turn, and Hitoshi can’t stop himself from smiling when he sees who’s standing in front of the class.

While Hitoshi is mostly just a fan of underground heroes, he does really love the Wild Wild Pussycats. They do have their publicity, but it’s not as obnoxious as some other pros. They’re clearly more worried about actually saving people than they are their image or their status.

Next to him Midoriya has already started his vocal fanboying, sputtering on for a minute before he gathers himself, then smiling sheepishly. Shinsou holds back both an eyeroll and a grin, and turns his attention back to the Pussycats.

“This is probably where we’re going to start our exam,” Midoriya mutters beside him, catching his ear. “Mr Aizawa plans everything too carefully for us to stop at this empty rest stop and then start talking with a bunch of pro heroes.”

Hitoshi doesn’t know Mr Aizawa all that well, but he trusts Midoriya’s judgement. And it makes sense--he knew this training camp was going to be absolute hell, and he’s prepared for that.

“Pixie Bob, she’s definitely going to do something. Look at how much dirt we’re standing on!”

Midoriya is right--they’re in a huge dirt patch atop a huge dirt mountain. Perfect for her to use her quirk on.

Hitoshi is only halfway listening at this point, but he does catch something about needing to get to the camp in time for lunch, and no way is he going to miss lunch.

Most of the class is still looking around, obviously confused, and Hitoshi allows himself a smirk. Now realizing their fate a few students try to run away, but before they can Hitoshi calls out, “Hey, Pixie Bob.”

“Yes?” she replies, not looking at Hitoshi as she instead focuses on the students now making a run for it. Before she can use her quirk on them her eyes glaze over, pupils severely dilating.

Before anyone else realizes what’s just happened, Midoriya is grabbing at him as they jump down the mountainside. He grunts out in shock as he feels Midoriya literally sling him over his shoulder, using his quirk as he bounds them both off the dirt slope until they’re on flat footing.

“How long will your hold last?” Midoriya asks him, still carrying him and still running. Well. It’s more like leaping, considering how much distance he’s covering in between footfalls. Hitoshi still feels rather undignified being carried around like this, but with the rest of the students already racing after them and with how much faster Midoriya can run compared to him, he doesn’t mind that much.

“Uh, we’ll find out,” Hitoshi says, and Midoriya snorts.

“Real helpful, Shinsou.”

“Well,” he continues, his voice almost a drawl. “I’ve never really tested how far my quirk can last. But it should be a pretty far distance. Unless….”

Ah, yup. He feels his control over Pixie Bob snap off, and soon enough the ground underneath them begins to rumble--someone must’ve shoved her around a bit as to break his control. Probably Mr Aizawa.

He’s prepared for some sort of landslide, but what he’s not prepared for is the ground literally coming to life in the form of a huge beast.

Hitoshi jolts as Midoirya skids to a stop, now face-to-face with one of the monsters.

He blinks. “Drop me, Midoriya.”

“What?”

“You need to fight these things, and I’m just dead weight.” Still feeling Midoriya’s grip on his arm Hitoshi begins to shrug himself off, and Midoriya relents.

Well. At least they’re not robots. But even so, Hitoshi knows he won’t be able to do much against them.

Instead, he keeps low to the ground, sticking behind the rest of the class as they use their flashy quirks to take down the beasts.

Hitoshi has no idea how much time has past when he finally slinks into the camp grounds with the rest of the students, his stomach hungry, his body achingly sore, and he’s pretty sure there’s a fair amount of dirt in his sneakers.

Just because he wasn’t attacking the beasts doesn’t mean that he wasn’t playing a significant amount of defense against them.

Dead on his feet, he tries to listen to what Pixie-Bob is saying but it’s very hard to do so when he wants nothing more than to flop onto the ground and sleep for the next ten hours.

She commends Midoriya, Todoroki, Bakugou, and Iida (right, that’s his name) on their efforts, which is expected considering how many of those beasts they’d taken down and how efficient they’d been.

When her finger points to him, however, Hitoshi blinks and forces himself to perk up.

“And you! That was well-played, what you did back at the mountaintop. Did you know I was going to use my quirk?”

“I, uh, yeah. I figured,” Hitoshi mutters, and she laughs.

“Very intuitive! Good job!”

Again, Hitoshi blinks. “I--thanks.”

She nods, and then continues on to explain how the rest of the training camp will proceed. They’re going to focus mainly on quirk training. Hitoshi…. doesn’t really know how that’ll pan out for him, but he’s genuinely excited for the opportunity.

For now, he’s thankful for the delicious dinner the Pussycats have prepared for them, and even more thankful for the lumpy futon to pass out on.

--------

“Are you coming, Midoriya?”

Izuku frowns, eyes darting between Shinsou who’s already conked out on his futon, and Todoroki who’s standing by the doorway of the communal bedroom, towel in hand.

While he thinks Shinsou has the right idea about getting an early night’s rest, the hot spring is too tempting to pass up. He nods, and follows Todoroki towards the onsen.

“You don’t have to, you know,” Todoroki says as they walk. “I just figured--”

“No! No, I want to come,” Izuku cuts him off with a smile. “I think I need some time to relax.”

They enter the changing rooms, and suddenly Izuku feels very self-conscious. It’s not that his classmates haven’t seen his scars before, namely the ones lining his arm and legs from his quirk, few have seen the gnarled, mangled scar tissue of his right shoulder. He knows he could keep his compression sock over it, but he’d rather let it soak freely in the water.

He usually doesn’t care, but the idea of Todoroki seeing his scar has him--

….Wait. He blinks, staring down at the shirt clutched in his hand that he’d just ripped off. He hadn’t even been thinking consciously, just musing inside his own head, but he knows that he doesn’t want Todoroki to see his mess of a stump.

He just isn’t totally sure why.

Shaking the thoughts out of his mind, Izuku finishes removing his clothes and joins the rest of the class in the onsen. He dips himself into the water as quickly as he can bare, submerging himself up to his neck.

It’s…. nice, for a bit. Very nice. The hot water is soothing over his strained muscles, his right shoulder feels better than it has in a long time, and he’s happily chatting with Iida, Todoroki and Uraraka through the wall.

Of course, it doesn’t last.

“C’mon man, that’s not cool. It’s not manly at all!”

Izuku turns towards the sound of Kirishima’s voice and spots him over by the wall separating the boy’s onsen from the girl’s. He sees Mineta, who’s staring up at the wall in apparent vain, while Kirishima tries to motion for him to come back into the water.

Mineta doesn’t listen, however, and before Kirishima can stop him he begins using the balls atop his head to scale the wall at a furious pace.

Izuku is already climbing out of the water, prepared to climb the wall himself, when he soon realizes he doesn’t have to--Kouta, Mandalay’s nephew, is at the top of the wall and with a hard shove he knocks Mineta back down and into the water. A few of his classmates begin to chuckle. Others, like Iida, are scolding him for his inappropriate behavior.

Shaking his head, Izuku is about to return to the water himself when a scream catches his ear. As fast as he can activate his quirk he’s running towards the sound--it’s then that he sees Kouta falling from the wall, and manages to catch the boy before he can plant onto the concrete.

Cradling him as best he can in his left arm, Izuku looks him over. He appears uninjured, thankfully, but it seems as though he’s passed out from the shock of the fall.

“I’m going to take him back to camp,” Izuku says to his classmates who are looking on with worry.

“Midoriya can you--would you like someone else to carry him?” Kirishima asks, his tone hesitant. Izuku just shakes his head and smiles.

“I’ve got him, but thank you.”

The boy is fairly small, so Izuku is able to securely cradle him, and starts heading back to the cabin.

--------

Kouta hates this. He hates this a lot.

He hates that pervert boy who climbed the wall earlier. Kouta blames him for making him fall. If he could control himself, Kouta wouldn’t have needed to be on top of the wall in the first place.

He also hates the kid with the green hair. He knows he shouldn’t because Auntie told him he saved him from the fall last night, but he doesn’t care.

This whole camp is stupid. All these students are training by beating up their bodies so they can what? Become heroes? It’s such a stupid goal, and Kouta hates them for it.

He watches, still, because what else is he supposed to do? He watches the angry boy make huge explosions. He watches the boy with the scar freeze and heat and freeze and heat the ground over and over again. He watches the frog girl scale a cliff, watches the boy with the engines run past him multiple times.

It seems stupid, all of it. Kouta just doesn’t understand.

He also watches the green-haired boy. He’s fighting with Tiger, and surprisingly holding his own. He still hates Tiger, because he hates heroes and Tiger is a hero, but he still knows how strong Tiger is.

The boy fights with his legs, which makes sense, considering he only has one arm. It’s ridiculous that he wants to be a hero. Mom and Pa both had all of their arms and legs and they…. they still….

Whatever. That boy shouldn’t be a hero. He shouldn’t even try.

Even if he is doing pretty well against Tiger. But this isn’t a real fight. So it doesn’t actually matter.

There is one boy who’s interesting to watch, however. He’s fighting with one of the teachers, but neither of them are using their quirks. They’re training with this cloth… thing, that almost looks like a scarf. The purple-haired boy is clearly struggling, and Kouta laughs when he gets tangled up in it.

The teacher must’ve heard him laugh because he looks over to where Kouta is hiding behind a tree, and gives him an odd look.

Kouta turns and runs.

He hangs out by the water cooler instead, drawing in the mud below it with a stick. When he hears footsteps approaching he looks up and frowns.

It’s the green-haired boy. Auntie said his name is Midoriya, but Kouta doesn’t care.

“Hey, Kouta,” the boy greets him with a smile. Kouta just continues to frown. He considers punching him in his downstairs again, but after remembering his cold fear during his fall last night, he decides he won’t.

He pours himself a cup of water, downing it quickly before pouring another.

“I’m glad you’re alright, after last night. We were all scared when you fell.”

Kouta says nothing. The green-haired boy is still smiling.

“We’re making curry for dinner, later. You’re welcome to eat with us if you’d like?”

Eating shitty food with a bunch of wannabe heroes sounds awful. So Kouta says nothing.

“.....Well, the offer stands. Stay safe, okay?”

Kouta goes back to his mud and his stick.

--------

Later, the green-haired boy brings him food. He also tries to talk to him about his parents--Auntie must’ve said something to him, and Kouta hates her for it.

He doesn’t want to talk to this boy, and he doesn’t want to talk about his parents. So he yells at him until Kouta hears his footsteps fade off into nothing.

When he’s pretty sure the boy is gone, he turns. He sees a plate of curry left for him, and Kouta wants to throw it over the edge of the mountain.

The boy followed him here. He found his Secret Spot. No one is supposed to know about his Secret Spot, not even Auntie knows where it is. Kouta hates the boy for following him here.

He wants to throw the food off the cliff, but then his stomach rumbles, and he remembers he hasn’t eaten dinner yet. He knows Auntie will make him cup noodles if he goes back to the cabin, but he doesn’t want to go back where all the wannabe heroes are.

So he eats the curry.

It’s pretty good. Auntie’s is better, though.

After he eats, Kouta spends his time carving drawings into the mountain with a sharp rock he found earlier. He does that until dusk turns to night, the sun disappearing completely, and Kouta can barely see the ground in front of him.

He knows he should head back. Auntie worries when he’s out this late, but right now he just doesn’t care.

The darkness doesn’t last long, however, as the trees soon light themselves on fire.

Kouta doesn’t fully process it at first. The flames are completely blue, they look so unnatural that Kouta thinks they’re fake. But then he sees the thick, black smoke rising, and he knows that something is seriously wrong.

He starts to shake. The forest is on fire. That’s bad, that’s very bad. Was there an accident? Did the kid with the scar do something stupid? But no, his flames were normal-colored. These are blue.

And they’re spreading fast.

Kouta turns to run. He knows he has to get out of here, he has to get back to the camp, get back to Auntie, get back to--

Kouta, Kouta can you hear me? You have to get back to the camp right now. I’m not sure if I’m even reaching you but please, Kouta, I need you to get back. I’m sorry that I can’t help you, I don’t know where you always run off to, I’m so sorry--

“Hey, kid. That’s a pretty cool hat you’ve got there. Don’t think you’d be willing to trade for this ugly mask, would you?”

Kouta freezes. The voice sounds nice, but he knows it’s not, he knows it’s fake. Despite how his muscles are clenched with terror, he cranes his neck and sees a ginormous man with a mask looming over him.

He runs. He doesn’t know who this man is but he knows he isn’t friendly. So he runs, or at least he tries to, because the man jumps in front of him.

“Now, where do you think you’re going?”

Kouta gulps, a heavy shiver running through his spine. He flinches when the man raises an arm, but it’s only to take off his mask.

But it’s then, that he realizes--he knows who this man is! He recognizes him from the news, from the….

If Kouta was scared before, he’s absolutely shaking with fear now. Because this man, this villain, he was the one who--

“The League didn’t say anything about a tiny kid, but am I really going to pass up the opportunity to get another kill in?”

Kouta knows he has to move, that he has to run. But the villain is raising his arm again, and this time Kouta knows he’s going to attack, that this is it, that he has no way to fight back, his parents aren’t here to save him, this man is so big there’s no way for Kouta to escape, there’s nowhere to go and his legs won’t move his body won’t move he’s shaking shaking shaking shaking he needs to run run run run--

He screams as he’s lifted off the ground, but it doesn’t hurt like he thought it would. It does hurt when he tumbles to the ground, still pressed against a body, but it’s not that bad.

Blinking, he looks up and sees the villain still standing in front of him, but much farther away. Confused, he turns his head, only to see the green-haired boy staring the villain down, fist clenched at his side, body between Kouta and the villain.

“Don’t worry, Kouta,” he says. “I’m going to get you out of here. I’m going to save you.”

Kouta doesn’t understand. Why is the boy here? Why did he come? The boy looks down at his phone, and even Kouta can tell that it’s completely broken. The boy curses, muttering to himself. Kouta’s ears are still ringing and the boy’s voice is too low to make out what he’s saying.

The villain laughs, and Kouta flinches again. His voice is horrible, it grates on Kouta’s ears.

“You really think you’re going to save child? You won’t even be able to save yourself!”

“I can, and I will,” the green-haired boy states, and he sounds completely serious. “Stand back, Kouta, and if you can, run.”

Kouta gulps. The boy--Midoriya, his name is Midoriya--launches himself at the villain. His limbs light up and he sends a kick into his side. It looked powerful to Kouta, but the villain laughs. With a quick punch he sends Midoriya flying into the cave wall.

Midoriya grunts, but he’s not down for long. He tries again, but the villain’s muscles have gotten bigger, somehow.

Suddenly, Kouta remembers the rest of that news broadcast. The villain’s quirk is strength augmentation, and he can make his muscles huge.

Midoriya is trying, but even with his own quirk he’s still so small compared to the villain, and he’s losing. Badly.

It’s then that Kouta realizes that he still has his drawing rock clutched tight in his hand, the rough material digging into the skin of his palm. Mustering all of his strength Kouta throws the rock, and manages to hit the villain directly on his head.

Kouta knows it won’t hurt him, but it is enough to distract him. He drops his fist from where he was about to punch Midoriya into the ground, and turns to Kouta with a smile that makes his skin crawl.

“Did you torture my parents, too?” Kouta finds himself screaming. He’s crying, too, he didn’t realize until now, tasting the saltwater on his tongue. “Did you torture Water Horse before you killed them?”

The villain laughs. Kouta wants him to die.

“I didn’t realize the Water Horse duo had a child!” he exclaims with mock-cheer. “It must be fate, finding you here. The League is only here for some kid named Bakugou, but I don’t really care. I have my own motivations. And that’s killing both of you brats.”

He’s going to strike again. He’s going to punch him, he’s going to kill him, he’s going to--

Again, the punch doesn’t land as Midoriya attacks the villain. Kouta manages to catch a glimpse of his face, and he didn’t think it was possible for the usually cheerful boy to look so angry. It looks unnatural on him.

“You’re here for Kacchan?!” he shouts, and the villain doesn’t get the chance to reply before Izuku lands another kick. This time the villain goes flying back into the wall.

Unfortunately, the backlash is severe, and Kouta finds himself flying off the ground, paralyzed with the same fear he’d felt the other night.

Just like last night, Midoriya saves him.

It’s just barely--he’s clenching the hem of Kouta’s shirt between his teeth. He feels the fabric straining and begins to panic, but soon enough Midoriya is lifting him to his feet and away from the mountain's edge.

“We have to run, Kouta, okay? Can you climb onto my back and hang on?”

Kouta is still so scared scared scared scared but he nods anyway, because he knows he has no other choice. He grips onto Midoriya with all his might and they start running. Midoriya is running so fast--they’re going to get away! They’re going to--

Kouta screams as Midoriya jolts to the side, dodging another one of the villain’s attacks. He manages to stay on his feet, but Kouta has barely even a second to enjoy the relief before he’s sent tumbling to the ground once more.

“I don’t know who Kacchan is, and I don’t care,” the villain cackles. “I don’t care about the League, I just joined because I knew I’d get to kill some people. And it looks like I was right!”

Kouta chokes out a sob when Midoriya is pummeled into the ground. He’s still fighting back, but he’s not doing well. He’s bleeding, he’s injured, he needs help--

Before he realizes what he’s doing the villain pulls back his fist and glares over at Kouta. His own arms are still outstretched, the remnants of his quirk leaking out of his palms.

The villain smirks at him. “Don’t worry kid, when I’m done killing this one, I’ll take care of you next.”

No,” Midoriya spits, still laying on the ground. “I won’t let you hurt him!”

He--Midoriya--

The green-haired boy is beyond injured, but he’s still fighting. Fighting to save Kouta.

He still doesn’t understand why, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t thankful.

With a surge of green, vibrant energy, Midoriya lets out an agonizing scream. He’s--he’s on his feet now, forcing the villain back, back, back--

The villain slams against the wall, the entire ground vibrating with the force of Midoriya’s attack. As the villain slumps to the groud Kouta watches his stupid fake eye fall out of his skull.

Kouta barely has a second to process what just happened before Midoriya is leaning down in front of him, somehow still smiling despite the blood covering his face. He glances at his arm, and immediately darts his gaze away upon seeing how damaged it is.

“Your arm--why did you--?”

He still doesn’t understand, and he wishes he did.

Midoriya just continues to smile. “Its fine, don’t worry about me. Are you okay? Do you think you can grab onto my back again?”

Kouta nods.

“Good.”

--------

Saying that the situation is bad would be the understatement of the century.

Villains. Here, at the training camp. Again. And to make matters worse, they seem to be more prepared than last time, and more skilled. That villain earlier was a clone, evidently, yet still managed to use a quirk.

And that was just one of the villain’s powers. He doesn't know how many villains there are, he doesn’t know where half his students are--he doesn’t even know why they’re attacking, never mind how they managed to figure out where the training camp was being held.

All Shouta knows is that saving his students is his top priority. So he finds himself running into the forest, hoping to find his students and possibly the source of all this madness.

It’s as he’s running that he sees a familiar spark of green light, and if his adrenaline would allow it he’d have let out a sigh of relief.

“Midoriya--” he says as the kid approaches, coming to a stop. Shouta cuts himself off however, after seeing how utterly hurt the kid is. He’s bleeding from the face, his legs are still sparking with his quirk despite being at a standstill, and his arm--

Fuck, his arm--

“Mr Aizawa,” he pants, looking at him with wide eyes and a smile. “I’m so glad you’re here, can you take Kouta?”

“What?” he says, before Midoriya turns, revealing the child clinging to his back, hands gripping tight at his shoulders. As gently as he can Shouta lifts Kouta into his own arms, holding the trembling boy close.

“You need to go back to the facility,” Shouta states, as stern as he can. Midoriya shakes his head.

“I know, I need to find Mandalay, I need to tell her why--”

“What you need--” Shouta starts, but he’s again cut off by the kid.

“I know why they’re here. They’re after Kacchan--Bakugou. The villains are here for him. I don’t know if there are any other targets, but he’s one of them.”

Shouta blinks, absorbing the news as best he can. He has no idea how Midoriya knows this, but he’s guessing it has something to do with how he received all those injuries.

“Okay. Go tell Mandalay, and tell her this--using my authority as a pro-hero and a U.A. staff member, I’m giving the students permission to fight back. Understand?”

“Yes, I’ll go tell her--”

“After that, you’re to head directly back to the facility, do you understand?”

Midoriya says nothing for a moment, just staring at him with wide eyes.

“I can’t promise you that.”

“Excuse me?”

Midoriya shakes his head, already gearing up to run. “I’m sorry, Mr Aizawa. I’m so sorry--but I need to--they want to take Kacchan. I have to help. You just gave me permission to fight, and I’m going to do just that.”

Before Shouta can muster out another word, the kid takes off. He calls after him with a firm Izuku! but he knew it would be in vain.

“He’s going to be okay, right?”

Shouta looks down to where the kid is burying his face into his shoulder, silent sobs wracking his body. “I was--I was so mean to him, and he saved me. He risked everything to save me.”

Holding him tighter, Shouta nods. “Don’t worry kid, he’s going to be alright.”

He’s going to be. He has to.

--------

“Mandalay!”

The pro hero whips around to where Izuku is standing, still in apparent shock over the lizard villain’s attack failing. The villain seems to be shocked too, staring in disbelief at the shattered remains of his sword littering the ground.

“I have a message for you. Pro-Hero Eraserhead has given permission for the students to fight back--all students are authorized to engage in combat with the villains. Also--the villains are here for Bakugou, he’s their target!”

“Okay--right,” she says, and soon after Izuku listened to her message play out inside his head. After, she again turns to Izuku with wide, worried eyes.

“Is Kouta--?”

“He’s alright,” Izuku states. “He’s with Mr Aizawa.”

She visibility relaxes at his words, but it only lasts a second before she’s staring at him in concern.

“You’re injured,” Mandalay continues, staring at his arm. Truth be told he barely feels the pain from it--it must be the adrenaline, or else he’s sure he’d be screaming in agony. “You need to head back to the facility.”

“I can’t,” Izuku says, not meeting her eyes. “I’m sorry.”

He can still hear her calling after him as he runs back into the forest, but he ignores her. He feels awful for it, for ignoring both her and Mr Aizawa’s wishes for him to stop fighting but he just can’t. He wouldn’t stop no matter which of his classmates were in danger, but they’re after Kacchan. Izuku can’t back down now--he refuses to.

As he’s sprinting, Izuku blinks as he notices a purple mist forming ahead of him. He thinks it might be smoke for a moment--but no. It’s too dark, too inky, and too purple.

Drawing closer, the swirling vortex only grows bigger. Izuku narrows his eyes--

Wait.

Vortex--purple--

Shit.

By the time Izuku realizes what exactly he staring into, he’s built up too much momentum to slow his run and he finds himself toppling into the portal.

He lets out a shout as he falls, tumbling onto his back. It wasn’t that far of a drop, but the way his arm slams against the ground has him nearly crying out in pain.

Letting out a huff of a breath, Izuku manages to gather himself into an upright position. He frowns, noticing how different the air is here--much cooler, crisp as if coming from an A/C, and not tainted by smoke.

He stands, still on his guard as he glances around the room. It’s utterly featureless, not even a window. The only thing of note--and the only source of light in the room--is the computer sitting atop a large desk against the far wall.

That, and a chair. Much to Izuku’s shock the chair spins around, and he finds himself now face-to-face with a faceless man.

“Midoriya Izuku. It’s so good to finally meet you.”

Chapter Text

Izuku doesn’t dare move.

He’s not sure who he’s standing in front of and he’s not sure why, but considering it was that Warp Gate villain who brought him here, he knows this can’t be good.

The man smiles at him and it looks….off, on his face. Not because he’s missing the majority of his facial features, but even in the dim lighting Izuku can tell his smile is full of mock-kindness.

Dread seeps over him, because this must be a villain--he’s been caught with sore and battered legs and an arm that’s completely out of commission, pain growing by the second. He’s virtually defenseless in an unknown location. The only exit is the doorway on his left, but he doubts the situation on the other side is going to be much better, even if he does make it through.

Still grinning, the man stands and walks over to him, Izuku doing all he can to not flinch. He does, however, when the man’s hand presses into his left shoulder--he’s expecting more pain, but instead he’s hit with soothing relief. He watches in both shock and confusion as his arm begins to heal itself. It’s still sore, but infinitely better. The man sits back down and gestures for Izuku to do the same. It’s now that he notices the chair behind him, and after a moment’s hesitation, he too sits.

“You’re welcome, by the way. That was quite a serious injury, you’re lucky I healed it when I did.”

“Ah….thank you,” Izuku says quietly, because what else can he do? He doesn’t want to risk pissing this man off, and while he’s still assessing the situation, basic compliance seems to make the most sense.

The man hums, seemingly satisfied. The sound sends another chill wracking down his spine.

“You’re probably wondering why exactly I’ve brought you here, aren’t you Izuku?”

Just as it had with Shigaraki, the overfamiliarity of his first name sets him on edge--more so than he already was. “Yes, I am.”

“You see, Izuku, I know that there’s a lot of people in your life who haven’t exactly been truthful to you, and I don’t think that’s fair. You deserve better than that, don’t you think?”

Izuku has no idea what this man is talking about. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

The man laughs, and again Izuku steels himself to keep from flinching. Even with what little information he has he knows he’s at a considerable disadvantage, and he doesn’t want to give this likely villain any additional weaknesses to exploit.

Well, he can only assume this man is a villain considering the circumstances, but with how he healed his arm--and now he’s talking about helping him?

….Izuku doesn’t believe it. With how vague he’s being and that leery smile--he doesn’t trust this man, not at all.

“Haven’t you ever wondered why your quirk works the way it does? Why it’s so hard to properly control it? Why it destroyed your own arm when you were seven?”

Izuku’s stomach drops. He shoves down his dread and forces an even expression. “How do you know that?”

Again, he smiles--this time wider, and somehow even more malicious. If he had an eyebrow to raise, he likely would.

“I know a lot of things, Midoriya Izuku. I know that your mother’s name is Inko. I know that you were assumed quirkless until the age of seven. And I know that your father’s name is Yagi Toshinori.”

He’s nearly shaking over the fact that this villain knows who his mom is when the words father and Yagi Toshinori finally process in his brain. The name isn’t familiar at all, but the fact that this man is claiming to know who his father is when Izuku himself doesn’t even know? Never mind having never met him, he doesn’t even know the man’s name. He thought about asking a few times, but it’s always been a sensitive subject for his mom, and what good would a name do, anyways?

“You know who that is, don’t you? Yagi Toshinori?”

Izuku shakes his head. The man lets out a tsk.

“I should’ve figured. As much of a coward as All Might is, you’d at least think he’d grant you a name.”

Izuku blinks. This man has no eyes and yet he’s never felt so exposed in his life. “....What does All Might have to do with this?”

The villain laughs, harsh and cold. “Because he’s your father.”

He can’t be sure if it’s the fear-induced adrenaline or his fumbling mind that makes him do it, but Izuku lets out a barking laugh. He’s already so utterly and completely overwhelmed that he can’t help but find some twisted humor from the suggestion.

“You don’t believe me?” the man asks, sounding far too calm. “You’re smart to be wary, but don’t you think that by now you can trust me?”

“Why should I trust you?”

Stupid--stupid and careless. It must be the adrenaline giving him loose lips.

The villain, however, barely seems fazed. He’s still smiling that same smile, and if he weren’t fearing for his life he’d love to punch it off of his scarred face. “Why shouldn’t you?”

“Because you kidnapped me.”

“Ah, but for a good reason. I healed your arm, didn’t I? And I’m giving you information that not even your loved ones were willing to give you.”

You don’t know shit about my loved ones Izuku doesnt say. Instead, he says nothing.

The villain sighs. It too, is fake. “Well, I tried. If you don’t trust me, I suppose I can’t force you to--that doesn’t really matter to me anyway. What does matter, is that you know the truth All Might has been keeping from you.”

“You don’t know All Might,” Izuku seethes through gritted teeth. He’s talking about the Number One Hero, the man who saved Izuku’s life twice as if he’s some sort of coward!

Normally, villains become fearful at just the mention of All Might’s name. This man seems utterly callous, as if he’s confident that he can hold his own against the hero.

“I don’t know All Might?” the villain asks with a laugh, his tone almost incredulous. “Who do you think gave him his injury eight years ago?”

Izuku freezes. The villain must take notice, as he again chuckles.

“Ah! So it seems he told you that much.”

Izuku says nothing. The man takes it as his cue to continue on.

“Well, if you’re so willing to trust him, you might as well ask the man himself. But that’s not everything I had to tell you.”

Izuku doesn’t--he doesn’t want to hear anything else that this villain has to say. He wants to cover his ears, he wants to scream, he wants to run run run run--

But he can’t. The only thing he can do right now is sit and listen.

So he does.

“You know of All Might’s injury. How he’s no longer at his full power. How he’s weakened to a near pathetic state. Isn’t in interesting, that your own quirk would develop at the same time that All Might was nearly taken down?”

He remembers being in the hospital with his injury, and all the media could talk about was the hero’s disappearance. It didn’t last for long--maybe a couple weeks, if that, but it was still a big deal. But Izuku never thought much of it, the fact that he was injured when All Might went missing--why would he? There was no reason for him to think that those events were related at all.

But now, if this man is speaking the truth--

His breath quickens to a near erratic pace despite his desperate attempts to even it. Bile is rising in his throat, and he doesn’t know how much longer he can keep his tears at bay.

He doesn’t--none of this makes any sense, it doesn’t--

“Midoriya Izuku. You thought you were born without a quirk, and then you thought you just received your quirk late. But the truth is, you’ve had a quirk all along--you just didn’t know it.”

“Liar,” Izuku seethes, the words slipping through his clenched teeth. The man shrugs.

“Believe what you want, but I only speak the truth. I have many abilities, Izuku, and one of them is to be able to tell what another person’s quirk is.”

That’s--the idea of such a quirk isn’t impossible, but moments ago this man just healed him, so his quirk couldn’t be--

With a smirk, the man holds up his hand, and a small flame rises from his palm. Izuku blinks in disbelief, and soon after the man snuffs it out.

“You’ve been told all your life that people can only possess one quirk. You also believe that there’s no possible way the great hero All Might could be your father. All I’m asking is for you to open your mind, just a little.”

Open his mind? This man just kidnapped Izuku and is trying to pull out the rug from under his entire life, is trying to topple everything he knows to be true. People can only have one quirk. Izuku didn’t have a quirk until the age of seven. And All Might is not--

“Your quirk, Izuku, is a bit of a rarity. I’d love to have had it for myself, but since my parents are dead, it’d be of no use to me now.”

Izuku blinks, unable to form his shaking thoughts into proper words. “I--that’s not--”

“It’s a dormant quirk, thus why it didn’t reveal itself to you when you turned four. No, in fact if both of your parents had remained uninjured throughout their lives, you would’ve never known that you weren’t, in fact, quirkless.”

Izuku, he--he doesn’t understand, this man isn’t making any sense--

“I’ve personally dubbed it Bloodline. When All Might was gravely injured, he never fully recovered. He fell into a crippled state. The power he lost, however, was never actually lost. It just transferred itself over to you, his son.”

“You’re lying!” He’s shouting now, he knows that, but he can’t stop himself How is he supposed to control his voice when this man is spewing bullshit, trying to manipulate him into--into thinking that--

“Don’t feel too bad, little one. He would’ve lost his power regardless. It’s only because of your quirk that you gained his strength after his injury. Unfortunately for you, because of the power bestowed to him by One for All, when it was transferred to you, it was too much for your body to handle.”

Too much to handle--his arm--

….Wait! Did he just say One for All? Isn’t that what Gran Torino--?

Izuku is crying now, he realizes. Fat, silent tears dripping down his face. He ignores them. He doesn’t think he could bring himself to wipe them even if he wanted to.

He doesn’t want this man to make sense. He shouldn’t be making any sense, this should all sound completely fictitious…. but with how much he knows about Izuku, about his mother, about his injury--

"Of course you didn't manage to take me down--you're shutting off One for All way too often."

A calloused thumb wipes across his cheek, taking his tears with it. Izuku wants to vomit at the touch--he would’ve ducked his head, but he’d been so caught up in his own spiral of thoughts that he didn’t even realize the villain had stood and walked over.

“It’s not your fault--All Might wasn’t there for you. He could’ve protected you, but instead chose the life of a hero. And that selfish choice cost you your arm, didn’t it?

“Shut up,” Izuku bites out, voice cracked and dry, the words like sandpaper on his throat. “Shut up shut up shut up--”

“I know your upset, little one, but you needed to know the truth. It’s only fair, isn’t it?”

Izuku doesn’t care if it’s fair or not. He doesn’t--it doesn’t matter, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want to be here he wants to leave leave leave leave--

As if driven by his own thoughts, a portal opens up underneath Izuku’s feet. Through blurry vision he catches a last glance of the faceless man’s smile, and he soon finds himself enveloped in darkness.

He’s back on the ground before he knows it, sprawled onto his back once more. He looks up, blinking, and is just barely able to process the starry sky above him.

And then his world comes rushing back to him.

Rapidly he stands, gaze darting wildly. He’s back in the forest--the air hot and thick with smoke, soft dirt beneath his feet, and--

He’s running before he realizes it, legs pounding on their own accord. All he saw was Kacchan, surrounded by that same black-purple mist, and he knew he had to run, had to try--

But it’s too late. His arm reaches out in vain, but the portal closes, and Kacchan is gone.

He collapses onto the ground, utterly defeated.

--------

“Midoriya.”

Blinking, Izuku looks up. He’s met with Todoroki’s face, as solemn and serious as ever. Next to him is Tokoyami, and Shouji. And Uraraka and Tsu.

On shaking feet he stands, Todoroki reaching out to help him. He offers him a grateful smile, as much as he can manage, and his classmate nods.

“What happened?”

They all explain--they were ambushed the same way Izuku had been by the muscled villain, but they’d all been in the forest. Izuku had the advantage of still being near the base when the fires started, but they’d all been in the middle of the test of courage, and at first thought it to be part of the game.

They’re all relatively unhurt--Shouji appears to have the worst of it, but he still insists that he’s fine.

Together, they trudge back to the camp.

When they come into view, Mr Aizawa rushes over to them. There’s multiple ambulances there already, and a few students are on gurneys. Izuku blanches when he sees Jirou and Hagakure both unconscious with oxygen masks strapped to their faces.

Mr Aizawa looks them over in momentary relief, then frowns.

“Where’s--?”

“Gone,” Tokoyami bites out. “They got him.”

His teacher lets out a curse, shaking his head as his frustration visibly rises.

“The lot of you, go see the paramedics. I’m happy that you’re all okay.”

They all nod and offer a series of sad smiles to their teacher. Izuku starts to follow them, but Mr Aizawa gently presses his shoulder, holding him back.

“Your arm was a mess before. How did it get healed?”

Izuku blinks, frowning down at his limb. In the distress of losing Kacchan he’d temporarily blocked out everything that had happened with the faceless man. But now, with his adrenaline finally coming down, every gut-wrenching feeling of hurt, anger, frustration, and sadness comes rushing back to him.

He can’t help himself. He falls into his teachers arms and cries into his chest.

Faintly, Izuku feels an arm wrap around his shoulder. After a moment, Mr Aizawa rubbing gentle circles into his back, he begins guiding him over to the medical staff. With his teacher’s help he’s placed onto a cot. They insist he lay down but he shakes his head. They do a quick check, and determine that while nothing is critical he definitely needs to be brought in.

“Please,” he chokes out, grabbing at Mr Aizawa’s hand. “Please come with me.”

“I’m--I’m sorry, Midoriya,” he says, and it sounds like it’s painful for him to say it. “I’ll be there soon, but I have to check with the other students--

“Go with him. All the other ambulances have left. I’ll take care of the uninjured students.”

“.... Are you sure, Kan?”

Vlad King nods, offering Mr Aizawa a brief pat on the shoulder before walking back to the other students. The paramedics wheel him into the ambulance, Mr Aizawa clamoring in behind him.

After Izuku has been hooked up to an IV and his tears dried, he can finally meet Mr Aizawa’s eyes.

“Someone….someone told me something. They said that All Might’s been keeping something from me. Is it true? Do you know?”

His teacher frowns. “Midoriya, what happened? Who did you talk to?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he bites out, his tone more bitter than he intended. “Is All Might keeping something from me? Do you know?”

The silence between them is thick. Izuku wants to scream.

“....Yes.”

“Yes he is, or yes you do know?”

“Both.”

Izuku looks away, eyes already stinging with renewed tears. He didn’t--he didn’t want to believe it, he didn’t want to believe that this villain could turn his entire life upside down with just a few words. He takes in a heaving breath, and attempts to gather himself.

“What do you know?”

“I….I think you should talk to All Might, about that.”

Izuku shakes his head, so frustrated he almost laughs. “It was a villain, who talked to me. He told me All Might is--he told me All Might is my--”

He can’t bring himself to say it. He cuts himself off with a wracking sob.

“He said he’s your father.”

It’s not a question, but rather a statement. Izuku again looks towards Mr Aizawa, and his teacher looks absolutely wrecked.

“You knew.”

It’s quiet again, before Mr Aizawa sighs, so heavy even Izuku can feel it in his bones. “I did. I hated keeping it from you. But it wasn’t my secret to tell, so I did.”

“I understand,” Izuku says quietly. He doesn’t actually understand--his current whirlwind of emotions is preventing him from thinking rationally--but he thinks that he’ll be able to understand.

Eventually.

Mr Aizawa doesn’t say anything to that, and Izuku doesn’t continue. Instead Izuku closes his eyes, and quickly blacks out into a fitful sleep.

--------

When Shouta gets to the hospital he’s not surprised to find All Might already there.

The parents and emergency contacts of the students have all been notified--Kan took care of most of that, while Shouta was there while all the kids who needed to be were getting admitted.

But now the kids are in their rooms, with the uninjured students all seated in the waiting room.

All Might appears to have just entered the ER wing, Tsukauchi at his side. The officer looks as composed as ever, while All Might looks absolutely miserable.

“You,” he snaps, glaring down All Might. The older man blinks, meeting Shouta with wide eyes. “Come with me, we need to talk.”

Before All Might can get so much as a word in, Shouta grabs his hand and leads him down the hall. Coming across a storage room Shouta tugs the doorknob, is thankful to find it unlocked, and shoves the other man inside.

It’s dimly lit and reeks of disinfectant. Not that it matters.

All Might blinks, bewildered. He finally manages to find his words.

“Aizawa! What are you--?”

“No. Shut up. Stop talking,” Shouta cuts him off with a firm shake of his head. “You’re going to listen to me. Midoriya knows, he--he knows you’re his father. I don’t know how he knows, or who--”

“He what?” All Might’s gaunt face has gone near-white, and his hands are trembling at his side. He looks absolutely horrified--he knows All Might isn’t in his hero form right now, but it’s still an unnerving sight to see the Number One Hero look so…..scared.

“I know you heard me. And now you have a whole fucking mess to clean up.”

For a long moment, All Might says nothing. He won’t meet Shouta’s eyes. He tries to be patient, but with how frayed his nerves already are from this hellish day, he’s about to start barking at All Might to fucking say something--

“How did he--what happened?”

Shuota sighs. “I…. don’t know. When the flames started he ran off--said he knew where Mandalay’s nephew was and he went to go get him and bring him back to camp. Which he did. But when he did come back his arm was--it was a mess. He really fucked it up. But then he ran off again--”

“You let him run off while he was injured like that?”

“I made a call,” Shouta seethes. “I told him not to go, but it’s not like he fucking listens to me! It was either try to physically stop him, or bring Kouta back to safety. I chose the latter.”

“....Right. Of course,” All Might mutters, shaking his head. “I’m sorry, I’m just--”

“I know,” Shouta says. “I know. So he ran off. But when he came back, his arm was almost completely healed.”

“And you have no idea who did it?”

Shouta shakes his head.

“....Fuck,” All Might curses, runnnig a hand through his unruly hair. “I need to talk to him, I need to figure out how--”

“I know,” Shouta says again, gaining more control over the anger threatening his tone. He’s not angry at All Might, not really. He’s just….he’s so unbelievably frustrated, both with the situation and with himself. “He’s probably still unconscious, now.”

“Ah, right.”

With another heaving sigh Shouta turns and opens the door, both of them exiting the cramped room. They head back towards the lobby where Tsukauchi is still waiting for them. He raises an eyebrow slightly towards All Might, but when the hero shakes his head, he drops it.

“The nurses say Midoriya is awake,” Tsukauchi says, to Shouta’s surprise. “They said he’s willing to talk, now.”

On one hand, Shouta wants to give the kid time to rest without being questioned by the police. On the other hand, he knows how ravenous the kid will be for answers, and there’s no way he’ll be able to rest until he gets them.

After a moment’s hesitation Shouta nods, and the three of them walk down to Midoriya’s room.

When they get there, Shouta turns to All Might with a glare, almost flaring his quirk. “You. Stay out here, the two of us will go in first.”

All Might looks like he wants to protest but doesn’t, thankfully, and the two of them enter.

The kid is seated upright in his bed, staring down at his own hand. It’s bandaged but not in a cast, so that’s something.

At the sound of the door opening he turns to the both of them, and--fuck if he doesn’t look terrible. His eyes are red and puffy from crying, his hair is more of a mess than it usually is, and the expression he’s wearing causes Shouta’s chest to clench and tighten.

“Hi, Midoriya,” Tsukauchi greets him with a small smile, taking one of the plastic chairs at his bedside. “The nurses said you’re up for answering a few questions. That still okay?”

He blinks, before turning from the officer over to Shouta.

“You don’t have to right now if you don’t want to, kid,” Shouta says as gently as he can manage. Izuku shakes his head.

“No, I’m--I can talk now. Is….?”

He trails off, gathering his words. “Is All Might here?”

“Yes, he is,” Shouta states. “He’s outside the room, would you like him in here?”

Another hesitation, before he nods. “Yeah, I would.”

With a nod Shouta walks back over to the door, opening it and ushering the other man in. He enters with small footfalls, inching his way over to the bed. Midoriya won’t look at him, instead closing his eyes and leaning back into his pillow.

Tsukauchi takes out a notepad and pen. “Okay, Midoriya. Whenever you’re able to, can you tell us what happened after you brought Kouta to Aizawa?”

The kid nods minutely, still not opening his eyes. “I, well. I brought Kouta to Mr Aizawa like you said, but I knew then what the villains were there for, or at least part of the reason why. They were--they were after Kacchan,” he forces out, brow furrowing and eyelids clenching. “I knew that he was in the woods and I knew that I had to at least try and save him. So, I ran.

“I barely got anywhere when a portal opened up--it was the warp gate villain, Kurogiri. And I was taken to some sort of room, I guess. There were no windows, I have no idea where it is.”

“Wait,” Shouta states, his lingering anger and frustration flaring up. “You were kidnapped? And you didn’t think to tell anyone that until now?”

“They brought me back, didn’t they?” Midoriya snaps. “I know I should’ve told you sooner but I just--I couldn’t--”

Shouta remembers how utterly distraught Midoriya had been when he’d found him, and he lets out a heaving sigh. “Right, I’m sorry. Please keep talking.”

Midoriya takes a second, but eventually does continue. “It was a windowless room with a single door. The only thing in there was a chair, a desk, and a computer. And a man. Who knew me--he knew my name, he knew my mom’s name, he--”

The kid cuts himself off with a sob that wracks through his body. All Might looks like he’s going to cry. Even Tsukauchi’s normally even face is beginning to crack.

Gingerly, Shouta sits himself on the edge of his bed. Minding the bandages, he takes the kid’s hand into his own. “It’s okay, Midoriya. Whenever you can.”

He cries for a bit more, clearly trying to stop himself. When he manages to, he takes in a shuddering breath before speaking again. “He also--he healed me. My arm. Somehow.”

“So he had a healing quirk,” Shouta says, but Midoriya shakes his head.

“I--well yes, he did. But it wasn’t his only quirk.”

Shouta frowns. “What do you mean it wasn’t his only quirk?”

“I mean it wasn’t his only quirk. He also made fire with his hands--he didn’t do anything with it, he just showed me. Wanted to prove that he did have multiple quirks. Said he wanted me to trust him.”

“What did he look like?”

Shouta blinks, realizing that it was All Might who spoke and not the officer. The expression on All Might’s face is one of absolute horror, and his words were spoken with an urgency that genuinely catches Shouta off guard.

For the first time since he entered the room, Midoriya turns to the Number One Hero.

“I--he didn’t have a face. He had a mouth, but the rest was just scar tissue.”

Shit. Okay, Midoriya. Can you tell me what else he said to you? Did he do anything else to you?”

Now Shouta is nearly livid. “Do you know who this man is?” he asks, but All Might ignores him. Midoriya’s gaze flits between Shouta and the other hero, before eventually landing on All Might.

“He told me--he told me about my quirk--”

“About One for All,” All Might states, and again the kid stares at him for a long moment, eyeing him with an unreadable expression before shaking his head.

“He mentioned that, yes, but he didn’t--he said I didn’t have that quirk. He said--”

The kid looks absolutely miserable, about having to speak these words out loud, and Shotua’s heart breaks just a little more. He’s able to gather himself after another fit of tears, squaring his shoulders as he turns back to All Might.

“He said my quirk takes power from you--that when you’re injured, I get transferred the power you lost. That’s why it’s so hard for me to control my quirk. He said that it works that way because--because you’re--”

Midoriya’s eyes snap shut, taking in another shuddering breath.

“He said that you’re my father, All Might.”

The room goes so quiet it’s almost stiff. When Midoriya opens his eyes again they’re red and wet, and focused completely on All Might.

“Is it true? Is he right?”

Midoirya knows the answer, he knows because Shouta told him. He’s not asking for information this time.

“....I. Yes. It’s true.”

The kid nods, once. He turns, staring out the window, into the blackness of the night. “Thank you for telling me,” is all he says in return.

All Might opens his mouth, then closes it before opening it again, this time while facing Shouta. “The man who kidnapped him is named All for One. He’s the one who injured me, eight years ago. And I’m positive he must be the one behind this attack, the League of Villains, and Bakugou’s kidnapping.”

As devastating as the information was to receive, Shouta is thankful for the lead. He nods, then turns to the officer. “Do you have any more questions?”

“Not right now. We should get going, I know my precinct is organizing a rescue mission with the local heroes, we should both start working on that.”

Shouta nods. As much as he wants to help them, he knows that he needs to take care of his other students, and take care of the entire horrific mess this training camp has turned into. The two men begin rising from their seats, Tsukauchi offering Midoriya another quirk of his lips.

“Thank you, Midoriya. Get some rest now, okay?”

The kid just nods, not glancing towards either of them. All Might looks like he has a billion things he wants to say to Midoriya, but after a glare from Shouta he bites his tongue, following the officer out of the room.

“I’m sure you have things you need to take care of,” Midoriya mutters, so quietly Shouta almost misses it. “But….can you stay for a few minutes? Please? They said my mom’s on her way but it’ll still be awhile before she gets here, and I--”

He wipes at his eyes, getting his bandages wet. Gently, Shouta pulls Midoriya’s hand away, plucking a tissue from the bedside table and wiping the tears away himself. Once he’s done he tosses it, scooting further into the bed as he carefully wraps an arm around Midoroya’s shoulders.

“Don’t worry, kid. I’m not gonna leave you.”

Chapter Text

When Izuku awakens, it’s to the sound of his mom snoring lightly beside him. Sunlight is streaming in through the shuttered blinds, casting odd shadows across the walls. He blinks, squinting and ducking his head from the light. He hadn’t--he hadn’t even remembered falling asleep last night. And why was his mom here? Where was--?

Like an electric jolt to his skull he remembers everything from the previous day….days? He can’t even remember what day it is now. They were at the training camp, he knows, and then there was fire--

Kouta--that villain, who almost won--

The man with no face--

“Izuku….? Izuku!”

His mother’s voice pulls him from his spiral, and he turns to see her awake and leaning over his cot with tearful eyes. Gently, she wraps him into a hug and Izuku sighs into it, physically feeling himself calm down. It’s only when All Might’s earlier words ring too heavily in his head that he pulls away. His mother sits back down, still leaning onto his bed and looking absolutely miserable.

Izuku physically flinches. It hurts him, to see her like this.

“I’m so sorry, Izuku,” she says through the tears still streaming down her cheeks. “I can’t--I can’t even imagine what you must think of me, for not telling you. I just--he was always your favorite, always. And I worried about--about you telling other students and them not believing you, and you asking about why he couldn’t visit, why he wasn’t around, and I….I just--”

“Mom, it’s okay,” Izuku says quietly, just loud enough to be heard over her sobs. She cuts herself off with a sputter, tilting her head towards him in question. He shakes his head.

“I’m not--I am mad, I know that. But I’m not….I’m not mad at you. I don’t blame you. It’s not your fault, it’s just….”

This time it’s his mom who shakes her head. “It wasn’t fair to you, Izuku. You should’ve known.”

“I should’ve known,” he mutters in agreement, more to himself than anything. “But it’s not your fault. It’s his fault. He’s the one who left me!”

He doesn’t mean to shout, but he can’t help himself. These past days, they’ve completely wrung dry his mental energy. It’s all he can manage to not break down crying right now. But he needs to hold himself together, for his mother at least.

“He didn’t--I told him to leave,” his mom says, and Izuku frowns, blinking.

“You told him to?”

She sighs, again wiping at the wetness under her eyes. “I figured he was going to leave anyway. We weren’t….we were just old friends. We weren’t dating,” she mutters, as if she’s embarrassed to admit it.

But Izuku doesn’t care. He would never shame his mom for something like that, even if his birth was the result of it. He has so many mangled emotions lodged in his chest right now, but he knows that he doesn’t blame his mother.

“It’s okay,” Izuku says, as gently as he can. His mother sniffles for a moment before she continues.

“But, yes….I suggested he leave, though I already figured he would. He was already a hero at the time--and I knew how powerful he was, Izuku. I knew his career path, and I understand why he wouldn’t want a wife and child waiting for him at home.”

That’s….yeah. He hadn’t really thought about that, he supposes. As much as Izuku thought so when he was younger, he knows now that All Might isn’t invincible. Incredibly strong, yes, but he’s still as mortal as the rest of them.

But still. For someone like that to be his dad--

He shakes his head. He understands what his mom is saying, but that still doesn’t change how he feels.

“I just….he knew. He must’ve known since he met me, right? And he never told me?”

“I’m sorry, Izuku. I didn’t want to pressure him into anything, but that’s--I should’ve talked to him, asked him to be honest with you.”

“No, Mom. It’s not your fault, it’s his--”

A knock at the door interrupts him. He frowns, looking in question to his mom who just shrugs.

Izuku clenches his jaw, before speaking. “Come in.”

He’s expecting a nurse, maybe, but he doesn’t really think a nurse would knock and wait for permission to enter. Perhaps Mr Aizawa--?

But, no. It’s neither of the former, as instead it’s All Might who quietly shuts the door behind him.

Izuku averts his gaze. He can’t--he doesn’t think he can handle this right now.

“Young Midoriya--”

Nope. No way. Absolutely not.

Throwing his blankets aside he blindly reaches for his phone on the nightstand, brushes past All Might and shuts the door behind him much less gently than the Number One Hero just had.

-------

He eventually finds himself atop the hospital roof, if just to get a bit of privacy. He wants to check in with his classmates, of course, but right now he….he just can’t.

Now looking down at his clenched hand, he realizes that he’d grabbed more than just his phone. Shoving the phone into his pocket he unfolds the paper, and finds a note written in childish scrawl.

Reading over it, he can’t help but smile with wet eyes. As shitty as things have been….he’s so damn happy and thankful that he was able to save Kouta.

Thinking of that, however, he’s only reminded of who he wasn’t able to save, and another pang adds itself to the ache in his chest.

Kacchan. Who he--who he saw get taken right as he was being brought back to the forest. Rationally, Izuku knows there was no way he would’ve been able to save Kacchan given the circumstances, but that doesn’t mean the guilt isn’t gnawing at him, even now with how mucked up his head has been from processing everything the past couple days.

He knows that he should head back--if anything, the doctor’s probably want to look him over again. Before he can, however, the roof door opens and nearly his entire class spills through.

Izuku blinks. “What--what are you guys doing here?”

Kirishima steps forward with a smile, gently patting Izuku on the shoulder. “We wanted to check up on you, man! We went to your room but it was just your mom and some guy. Wait! Is that your dad?”

Izuku sputters, heart hammering. “I--what? Who? My dad?”

Kirishima blinks almost warily, but his smile doesn’t falter. “Yeah, the dude with the crazy blonde hair? He’s super tall?”

Ah, right. “No, that’s….not my dad. Family friend.”

His classmates nod, and Izuku is about to ask them how they’ve all been doing when Kirishima speaks up again. “We wanted to talk about something else, though. Well I did, mostly. Not everyone agrees with me, but I think you will.”

Most of his fellow students’ expressions darken. Todoroki, he notices, looks as neutral as ever. Iida looks like he’s physically fighting himself from yelling at Kirishima, he’s face tinted red with the effort.

“I know the heroes talked about setting up some sort of rescue mission, but I don’t think we should wait for them. We have a plan to save Bakugou. We know where he is.”

“What?” Izuku says, thoughts already beginning to run and race. “You do?”

Kirishima nods. “Yeah, back at the camp Yaomomo and Awase--they put a tracker on one of those Nomu things. She has a receiver for it, that she made. We can track them down!”

Izuku barely has time to fully process the implications of what Kirishima has said when Iida jumps in, crossing his arms and shaking his head. “I tried to get Kirishima not to tell you this, because I knew you’d want to help. And as noble as that is, Midoriya, this is not something we should be getting involved in.”

The look Iida is giving him….he’s practically screaming at him to remember Hosu, to remember the mistakes that he made….

But whenever he closes his eyes, all he can see is that faceless man, and if Kacchan was taken by people who are even associated with him….

“I know how awful we all feel and how we all want to help,” Asui starts, the rest of the class turning to her. “But this isn’t the right thing to do. We were told to stay out of it--we don’t have our licenses. We should leave this to the pros.”

Mostly nods. Once face, however, isn’t in agreement.

“I was there when Bakugou was taken,” Todoroki cuts in. “I know how close we were to saving him. And if there’s anything we could do to try and save him….”

A pause in which Todoroki looks up, eyes locking onto Izuku’s own.

“....Then I think we have to try.”

Some muttered arguments break out between them, Iida the loudest of them, when the roof door opens again.

“Hey, kids,” a nurse calls out to them from the doorway. “I tried to give you all your privacy, but I really can’t let you all stay out here. C’mon now.”

Most of the class follows him out. Kirishima and Todoroki however, hang back.

“So, what do you think?” Kirishima asks, far more serious than Izuku has ever seen him. “Are you willing to help us?”

Izuku thinks. He thinks to All Might, who’s likely still talking with his mom. He thinks to Mr Aizawa, who would obviously tell him no but Izuku doesn’t even know if he’s still here. He thinks to Kacchan, who’s been taken, is likely angry as hell, and is possibly with that faceless man….

“I just….I wasn’t there!” Kirishama says in Izuku’s silence, shaking him from his thoughts. “I wasn’t there, I didn’t even have the chance to try and save him. And now that I know there’s something I can do to help? I’m not sure if I could live with myself if I didn’t.”

His words hit so close to home that they make Izuku’s heart ache. He turns to Todoroki.

“Why do you want to help?”

Todoroki meets him with an even gaze, his heterochromic eyes almost piercing. “Because it’s what you would do.”

Izuku forces himself to break the stare, unable to handle so much warmth right now. He shakes his head, and smiles.

“Yeah, I’m in. Let’s get him back.”

--------

Toshinori watches with a heavy chest as Midoriya rushes past, door slamming shut behind him.

Sullenly, he turns to Inko, who’s shaking her head with a small smile. Tears are still dripping down her face, and Toshinori aches for them to stop.

“I--I’m sorry, I didn’t mean--”

“It’s fine,” Inko says with a withering laugh. She looks up and pats the chair next to hers. Toshinori takes it.

“....Hi,” he says, and she snorts.

“Hi.”

He shakes his head, heaving a breath as he fumbles for his words. “I’m sorry, Inko. I shouldn’t have left. I should have told him. I should’ve….”

Toshinori sighs, and Inko gives him time. It’s more than he deserves.

“I should’ve done a lot of things differently.”

“Probably,” Inko says. “I should’ve done a lot of things differently, too.”

“You were there for him. That’s more than I was.”

“Toshi--no. I understand why you left, it wasn’t--”

Inko is cut off by the sound of the door once again opening. He’s half expecting Midoriya, and he nearly flinches when he sees Gran Torino and Aizawa enter instead.

“Where’s the kid?” Torino gruffs out.

“He went to go get some fresh air,” Inko says, far calmer than she looks. Turning to Gran Torino, she asks “Are you one of his teachers, or…?”

The retired pro snorts. “Something like that. And you’re his mom?”

Inko nods. “Did you need to speak to him about something?”

“Yes,” Aizawa says. “But we need to talk to All Might, first.”

Toshinori nods. He figured as much. “This is about One for All, isn’t it?”

“One for All?” Inko questions as the two other heroes nod in agreement.

“It’s….my quirk,” Toshinori says, ducking his head. “Do you, er. Do you remember in middle school, when I said I was quirkless?”

She nods, and Toshinori does his best to give her a condensed rundown on One for All. Gran Torino looks vaguely irritated that he’s telling her this, but Toshinori refuses not to. She deserves to know.

“Okay, got it,” Inko says when Toshinori finishes, although her tone isn’t very convincing. “But….if it can only be passed on willingly like that, then why was Izuku born with it?”

“Because he wasn’t,” Gran Torino says. “As similar as his quirk is I figured it wasn’t actually One for All, and now the kid has proved it.”

“I just….” Inko sniffles with renewed tears. Aizawa hands her a tissue box. “This is all going to be so much for him. It already is so much for him. And now he has to take on your quirk, too?”

Toshinori can’t bring himself to meet her eyes. “I’m sorry, Inko. I wish I could wait, I wish I didn’t have to do this now. But if All for One is in any way involved with Bakugou’s disappearance as he was with Midoriya….then this might be my last chance to use One for All before I lose it forever.”

“But that doesn’t mean Izuku has to take it,” Inko says, her voice rising as it shakes. “It’s still his choice, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Toshinori states. “Yes, it is. But it’s not as if he’s getting a whole new quirk. If anything, it should just make it easier for him to use his quirk.”

Blinking, Inko looks from Toshinori to Aizawa. “You think so, too? You all think so?”

“We can’t know for sure,” Aizawa says. “But given what we know now, I’d say it’s a safe bet.”

“And it won’t be dangerous for him?”

“It’s more dangerous for him to continue with the quirk he has. Especially if….” Aizawa cuts himself off with a shake of his head, crossing his arms before he continues. “All Might is going to lose his power soon, it’s inevitable. When he does, that power is going to get transferred to Izuku. And I fear that without this One for All quirk to help control that power, it’s going to overwhelm him. More than it already has.”

Inko nods, letting out a shaky sigh as she dabs at her eyes. “....It’s up to him, of course. But if you think that this is the best thing for him, then I trust you. All of you.”

“Thank you, Ms Midoriya,” Aizawa says with a stiff nod. He reaches in and squeezes at her shoulder. Toshinori wants to do the same, but he fears it would be unwelcome.

She smiles slightly at the touch, before her face darkens slightly as she turns to Toshinori.

“You better do right by him, Toshinori. Please.”

--------

When Izuku returns to his room, All Might is there alone.

He spots him through the window, unseen, and debates not entering. But he knows he has to face All Might eventually, and he’s probably never going to be ready.

Before he loses his nerve Izuku turns the doorknob harshly, entering the room.

To his surprise, All Might doesn’t say anything as Izuku walks over and perches himself atop the bed. The hero just watches him with the most somber expression Izuku has ever seen on him. They steep in the silence for a moment, before All Might clears his throat.

“This isn’t….this isn’t fair of me, to put on you. I know it’s not, but I have to do it anyways.”

Izuku blinks. That’s….not what he expected him to say, not really.

“What do you mean? What do you have to do?”

All Might sighs, averting his gaze. “I--it’s about your quirk. Well really, my quirk.”

Oh.

….Oh.

In the shock of everything, Izuku never even stopped to consider what meant in terms of his own quirk, for All Might to be his--for All Might to be related to him. But now he can barely stop himself from ruminating over it.

Before he can ask one of the millions of questions jumping to the forefront of his mind, All Might holds up his hands as to placate him.

“I’m sure you have a million questions, but I can’t answer them right now. It would take too long to explain, and I don’t have the time right now. But I promise, if you can trust me now, I promise that I will explain everything soon. As soon as this whole mess is over.”

Izuku considers his words--he can’t really say he trusts All Might, which is something he’d never thought he would say. He’s always idolized All Might, he would’ve absolutely trusted the hero with anything. But now?

He just can’t say the same. But he still nods, still says, “Okay, All Might,” and waits for him to continue talking.

Swallowing hard, he does. “My quirk--I wasn’t born with it. It was given to me, passed down to me.”

Izuku nods, understanding. All Might looks somewhat taken aback.

“You….believe me?”

He shrugs. “The man with no face had multiple quirks, so I’m not really sure what to believe.”

“Ah, right. That--that makes sense, then.”

All Might clears his throat before continuing. “Well, so. The quirk was passed down to me, and when I first saw your quirk during the entrance exam I thought you had my quirk. But you don’t, you just have--”

“I have the power you lost,” Izuku says, the realization just now dawning on him. He hadn’t thought of it at the time, but All Might did say he fought the faceless man eight years ago--that was when Izuku lost his--

The power that All Might lost. All that power, gone to him--

As if he stole it. He stole it, and it broke him.

And now All Might is weakened.

“I believe that’s why you have such a hard time controlling your quirk,” All Might says, jarring Izuku out of his thoughts. He wipes at his (thankfully) dry eyes, and nods.

“But….I believe I have a solution for you.”

Izuku blinks. “What?”

“The quirk I have--it’s called One for All. It was passed on to me, and I can pass it on to you. I believe if you actually have the quirk all of that raw, stockpiled energy belongs to, then you’ll be able to have much more control over your quirk.”

“I….wait, really? So you’re giving me your quirk?”

All Might nods, solemn. “Yes. If you want it. But I won’t force you to take it.”

“No, I’ll take it.”

This time it’s All Might who blinks, looking completely taken aback. “You--you will?”

“Yes. Isn’t that the answer you wanted?”

“No, that’s not….” All Might cuts himself off, running a hand through his unruly hair. “I absolutely hate having to put this kind of pressure on you, and now at all times. But you do not have to take this. You can still become a hero without--”

“Without become your successor.”

A heavy pause between them. “....Yes.”

“And if I don’t take it?”

“Then One for All will stay with me, and likely die with me. I don’t--I don’t have enough power stocked up, to pass it on to anyone else I don’t think. But considering the power you already have, I think it just might work.”

“You mean the power I stole from you, right?”

“Oh, Midoriya,” All Might says, gently laying one of his large hands over his knee. “You didn’t steal anything from me. It was All for One who stripped me of that power, he’s the one who injured me. Not you.”

Izuku is crying now, he knows but he tries to do so silently, just letting the tears fall. He shakes his head.

“I’ll do it, I’ll take it. Please.”

With a long, silent look, All Might slowly reaches up and plucks a hair from atop his head. He then hands it over to Izuku, who takes it with a wary glance and shaking fingers.

“I’m sorry, I know it’s gross, but you have to eat it. I have to pass on some of my DNA to you.”

“Don’t I already have half your DNA?”

All Might flinches. “Ah, it...it has to be ingested.”

Right. Izuku holds the hair in his hand, just staring at it for a moment. At the sound of All Might standing, however, he looks up.

“I’m sorry, Izuku, but I have to go. I have to meet up with the other pros going out on the raid.”

Izuku looks back down to his hand. “....Okay. Good luck.”

All Might doesn’t move for a minute, and Izuku can feel how tense he is, like there’s a million things he wants to say, wants to ask. Izuku can relate.

Finally, however, All Might exits the room without another word. Once the door closes behind him, Izuku swallows the hair with a grimace.

--------

“What did you say to him?”

“Ah, Aizawa,” All Might says shakily as Shouta approaches him. The man looks absolutely wrecked, and Shouta sighs.

“Did you tell him? About your quirk?”

“Yes, I did.”

Shouta raises a brow. “And….? What happened?”

All Might sighs. “He agreed to take it, so I gave it to him.”

That’s not exactly surprising. He knew Izuku was going to take it from him, as conflicted as he might be. Because he knows doing so will make him a better hero. Midoriya knows that with better control over his quirk, he can save so many more people. And that’s always been what he’s wanted. The only thing he’s wanted.

It’s for that reason, however, that Shouta didn’t want All Might to even offer until some time has passed. Unfortunately for all of them, Shouta knows they don’t have that kind of time.

“Is he okay?” Shouta asks a bit lamely. It’s a supid question, considering everything. All Might nods slightly.

“He seems okay enough, considering. But I just….I didn’t want to leave him like that, but I had to.”

Shouta nods, understanding. He himself is about to leave for the press conference, which he is absolutely dreading. His suit is stiff, he feels awkward in it, and he knows how feral the press is going to be.

But still. He’d rather do this press conference a hundred times over than be in the position the kid is in right now. It’s just not fair.

“I’ll go check on him, before I leave,” Shouta says. “You should get to your meeting.”

“Right, right,” he says. “Good luck, Aizawa.”

“Same to you, All Might.”

--------

Shouta raps twice on the door before he hears a muffled “Come in,” from inside the room. He pushes the door open and enters.

“Hey, kid,” he says as he walks over, watching as Midoriya just continues to stare down at his own hand.

“Hi, Mr Aizawa.”

He doesn’t look up. Stifling a sigh, Shouta sits down next to him.

“So. He told you about One for All?”

Midoriya nods. “Yes. And then he gave me his quirk.”

“....How did he do that, exactly?” Shouta asks. He’d never bothered to ask the man himself.

“He, er. I had to eat a piece of his hair.”

Shouta knows he shouldn’t, but he can’t help himself. He lets out a snort, and Midoriya eyes him curiously. He, too, then chuckles, his smile small but genuine.

“Pretty weird, right?”

“Definitely,” Shouta agrees. “You do know you didn’t have to, right?”

“I know,” Midoriya says, but he doesn’t sound all that confident in his answer. This time Shouta does sigh.

“I’m sorry. I wish I could stay here with you, but I really have to go. Press conference.”

Izuku nods. “I understand. I’m getting discharged today anyways, so.”

“Right.”

Quickly, Shouta pulls the kid into a brief side-hug. Izuku presses his face into his shoulder. It lasts just over a second, before Shouta pulls away and stands.

“Don’t do anything stupid, okay kid? Does your mom know you’re being discharged?”

“She doesn’t, I’ll call her soon. And I won’t, Mr Aizawa.”

With a final, lingering glance, Shouta nods, once, before exiting the room.

--------

“Hey, Midoriya! I thought you might not show up!”

Izuku smiles, just barely, as he approaches Kirishima. Todoroki is at his side, and nods he silently to Izuku once he’s standing in front of them.

Rationally, Izuku knows that he shouldn’t do this. That they should just leave this to the pros. But with everything cluttering his head right now and dragging him further and further into a pit of anxiety, he can’t just sit at home and do nothing. He just can’t.

Even besides his own personal reasons….they took Kacchan, and he was powerless to try and save him. He knew he was in danger, he knew he was the target of the villains before anyone else did, and he still failed to protect him. So laws be damned--he has to make this right.

“Right, well. Is anyone else coming?”

“I am,” Yaoyorozu says, Izuku turning at the sound of her voice.

Izuku offers her a grin. “I’m glad to see you’re alright, Yaoyorozu, but are you sure you’re okay to come with us?”

She nods. “I need to do this. There was so little I could do that night, but this I can do. This time, I can help.”

Izuku nods. He understands.

He’s about to ask if anyone else is coming, when the hospital doors open again. This time it’s Iida who exits the building, walking towards them at a furious pace.

“I can’t believe you! All of you!” he shouts, and Izuku nearly flinches. The only time he’s seen Iida this upset was when--

“Especially the two of you,” he continues, pointing towards Izuku and Todoroki. “You were both there when--when I--”

Iida sighs harshly, shaking his head. No one says anything, just stares at him. His eyes narrow but they’re more frustrated than anything.

“You two stopped me, from doing something insanely stupid. And now you’re about to make the same mistake I did!”

“Iida, I’m sorry, but we have to help. We can’t just--”

Izuku’s words are, quite literally, ripped from him as Iida’s fist collides with his jaw. He was definitely holding back, but it still stings.

“You don’t have to, though,” Iida bites out, breath heaving. “You don’t have to, but I also know there’s no way for me to stop you. No way for me to change your minds.”

He shakes his head again, looking as if he wants to scream. Izuku gently rubs at his own cheek. “....But your determination is something I’ve always admired about you, Midoriya. And I know I can’t stop you, so I’ll come with you instead. Even if it’s just to keep all of your asses out of trouble.”

Kirishima whistles. “Wow, never thought I’d hear that kind of language from our class prez!”

“Shut up,” Iida states. “Now, what exactly is your plan?”

--------

Izuku rips off the itchy, fake goatee. Considering the situation they’re in right now, there’s no point in trying to keep up appearances.

His classmates are shaking beside him, and he too is shaking but thankfully it’s just in his legs. They all know what kind of horrible situation they’re in--essentially trapped in the alleyway due to the villains fighting just around the corner. And Kacchan, he’s still there, and the man with no face--

Just hearing his voice earlier had been enough to activate Izuku’s fight-or-flight instincts, but all he ended up doing was freezing in place, knees locked, as panic panic panic panic began to seep through him.

The man was exemplifying his power with a careless laugh, but it was then that All Might showed up and Izuku began to calm, if minutely.

Because he knows--he knows that All Might is injured, that he’s not at his full strength. And this man--he just sent All Might flying back and decimated tens of buildings with just a single punch.

For a single, agonizing moment, Izuku genuinely thought All Might wasn’t going to stand again. But he does, and the fight continues, while the five of them stay pressed against the alley wall, panting both in panic and fear.

But even with the little control he has over his fraying emotions, Izuku knows that panicking isn’t going to do them any good. They need a plan. All Might--All Might is here, he’s fighting for them, but Izuku can tell how he’s not fighting at his full strength--ven at his full strength for being injured. He can’t, because Kacchan is still there, uncontrollably in the way, and All Might can’t risk his full power at the chance of harming him.

But, if Kacchan wasn’t there, then maybe….

“Guys,” Izuku states, steeling his voice. “I think I have a plan.”

--------

Toshinori watches in equal parts confusion and amazement as he sees Bakugou take off by the power of his quirk, shooting off into the sky and latching on to Kirishima’s hand. There are three of them, it looks like, three of them who blatantly disobeyed orders and came out to Kamino Ward when they absolutely shouldn’t have.

He’s not at all surprised to see that Midoriya is one of them.

But--that’s something he can focus on later. The kids are out of the way. All for One has sent his team away, and now it’s just them.

“That was your boy up there, wasn’t it?” All for One says, as casually as one would commenting on the weather. “He’s quite strong, but I’m sure you already knew that.”

“Don’t talk about him,” Toshinori spits, blood dripping from his mouth.

“What, don’t talk about little Izuku? Don’t worry, we already had a nice chat earlier, didn’t we?”

“You kidnapped him. You stole him.”

“Well, I gave him back, didn’t I?” All for One says, tone suggesting that Toshinori is being completely unreasonable. “It’s not my fault that you insist on keeping secrets from him.”

“You have no right to say anything to him,” Toshinori shouts. He knows that All for One is just trying to get under his skin, to distract him with his typical mind games.

What’s worse, is that it’s working.

All for One laughs. “Maybe if you did a better job protecting him, this wouldn’t have happened. I did you a favor, great hero All Might. I gave him the truth.”

“For what?” Toshinori spits before he can stop himself. “To try and get him onto your side? Why didn’t you just keep him, then?”

“I have no use for him,” the villain shrugs. “I already have my successor. But as I said, he deserves to know what a terrible man you are, to abandon him like that.”

“You know nothing about me,” Toshinori says. His own words scratch at the back of his throat. Again, All for One laughs, shaking his head.

“I know more about you thank you realize, Yagi Toshinori. I know enough about you to see that you and Nana Shimura are both the same--stupid, weak, and unable to care for your own family.”

“Don’t talk about her,” Toshinori snaps, at the same time that he hears Gran Torino call out from behind him.

“Don’t let him get in your head, Toshinori,” his once-teacher says. “You can’t let him, you have to focus!”

He knows this--he knows. But this man--he’s taken so much from Toshinori. And here he stands before him, destroying the ward without a care and taunting him over his past mistakes.

But Gran Torino is right. He can’t let this man win with his words. Toshinori has to take him down, here and now.

He grasps at the lingering flames of One for All, coiled tight inside of him. He felt it weaken when he gave Midoriya the hair, but he still has a few last embers left.

It’s going to have to be enough. There’s no other option.

--------

Izuku watches, and it’s as if the world has come to a stop.

After All Might’s devastating blow--the world seeing him shrink down to his true form, only to muster one last finishing punch.

The man with no face doesn’t get back up. But All Might does.

The people around him watches in rapt silence as All Might stands. It’s when he throws his fist into the air that the crowd begins to erupt in triumph and giddy relief.

And they don’t stop. All Might--weak and injured, but not defeated--points his finger towards the camera, towards Izuku.

Across the globe, All Might speaks to the people, to Izuku's friends, to Izuku himself.

Now. Now, it’s your turn.”

The world cheers around him.

Izuku cries.

Chapter Text

“You really shouldn’t make a habit of lying to him.”

All Might shrugs, seemingly defeated. It’s an odd look on him. “There isn’t much else I can do--it’s more his secret now than it is mine.”

Well, that’s true. Shouta can’t fault him for that, despite how he thinks that lying to the other students (especially Bakugou) is going to cause another huge disaster.

“Besides,” All Might continues as they both slip into the car. “I think his mom knows anyway.”

Shouta raises a brow. “Really? How?”

Again he shrugs, buckling his seatbelt. “Well, I don’t know for sure if she does or not. But she was really close to Inko in middle and high school, and we were friendly enough. She might suspect something, especially now that she knows who I am now, but….”

All Might trails off, turning to look outside the window. Shouta turns to the stack of papers in his lap.

“Well, the Midoriyas are close by. Do you wanna bite the bullet now?”

He flinches, before shaking his head. “I, er. I can do that one myself Aizawa, you don’t need to--”

“Yeah. Like hell. I’m coming with you, and we’re going now.”

Before All Might can protest Shouta gives the driver their address, and he starts the car. The man beside him looks both vaguely pale, and like he has a thousand things to say to Shouta.

“All Might--”

“I think,” he cuts him off. “That you should call me Yagi from now on. Considering I’m retired, and all. Or Toshinori, if you’d prefer.”

Shouta hums. He never explicitly asked him about what the status was on his quirk--he was more concerned with his health and the man actually surviving. He did, fortunately, but with no shortage of fractured bones and bruises.

During his stay in the hospital afterward, he just looked so broken that Shouta could only guess that the man had used up the last of his strength. And it turns out that he was right.

“Yagi, then,” Shouta says, and the man smiles, frail.

Soon enough, the two of them pull up to the Midoriyas apartment block.

“Aizawa, you don’t--”

“Do not,” Shouta states, as firmly as he can without letting his frustration show. “Argue with me. Please. Let’s just….go inside.”

The man hesitates, but eventually relents and follows Shouta up the stairs to the walkup.

It’s Ms Midoriya who answers the door. Her eyes are slightly puffy, but her smile seems genuine enough. Shouta’s chest still tightens all the same.

“Aizawa. Toshinori. Come in, please.”

They remove their shoes and she gestures them into the apartment proper. She has a tea kettle on the stove, mugs already placed out on the table. Shouta expected the kid to be at the table too, but he isn’t. He doesn’t see him anywhere in the apartment.

“He’s in his room,” Ms Midoriya says as if she’s read Shouta’s mind. She reaches for the kettle and begins pouring the steaming water. “I told him you were both coming today but he hasn’t--”

She starts to sniff, but finishes serving them before setting the kettle back down. “He doesn’t really want to talk to me. Or anybody, right now. I want to talk to him, we need to, but….I don’t want to push him.”

“I understand,” Shouta says gently. “But we really do need to talk about his future at U.A.”

Ms Midoriya nods. “You’re right, I--maybe if you went to go get him, he’d be more willing?”

Shouta shifts awkwardly at her words, and he can feel Yagi’s stare on him. He pauses, then nods.

“Of course.”

When he walks over to Midoriya’s room, he can’t help but notice that the usual name placard isn’t there anymore. He sighs, then knocks twice.

“What?”

Well. That’s not his typical greeting. Shouta frowns. “Midoriya, it’s me. Can I come in, please?”

“....Is All Might with you?”
“He is, but not right now. He’s with your mom in the kitchen.”

Shouta’s frown only deepens when he doesn’t get a response from the kid, but soon enough the door swings open. He blinks down with him, and he’s greeted by a somber, bordering on blank expression

He doesn’t say anything in greeting but he does step aside to let Shouta in, shutting the door behind him. He sits down in his desk chair, and Shouta sits on the bed.

“I’m sorry we have to do this to you so soon,” Shouta starts, “but we really have to discuss this.”

“You said you knew,” Midoriay states, not meeting his eyes. “How long have you known for.”’

Shouta isn’t surprised--he expected this, and he was only trying to delay the inevitable. “I’ve known since just after the entrance exam.”

The kid blinks, as if he’s surprised by the answer. “So, not since you met me.”

“No. I barely knew All Might when I met you. We’re both heroes but we don’t exactly run in the same circles. And before you ask, no, your mom never told me anything. I’m fairly confident that she never told anyone.”

Midoriya pauses for a moment, before he nods. Some of the stiffness in his shoulders seems to lessen. “I--I know that rationally, I shouldn’t be mad at you. But I think I am? For a little bit, I was worried that you’d known all along, and that was--that was the only reason why--”

“No,” Shouta states, shaking his head. His words are firm by reflex, and he hopes they’re gentle enough. “No, of course not.”

“I know--it’s irrational, I know,” Midoriya sighs. “I know you’re not that kind of person, you don’t even like All Might!”

The kid chuckles, dry. He shakes his head.

“But I just--I still feel. Shitty. About the whole thing. And mad. And I’m just not sure how to process all of it right now.”

“That’s perfectly fine. You don’t have to, right now. But we do have to talk, all of us.”

Midoriya sighs. “Yeah. You’re right.”

With seemingly great effort the kid stands from his chair and walks over to the door, Shouta following behind him.

In the kitchen, Yagi and Ms Midoriya are seated at the table in an awkward silence. Shouta clears his throat and they turn towards the two of them, Yagi nearly jumping out of his seat.

“Hi, All Might,” Midoriya greets him, voice neutral. He sits, and Shouta sits beside him.

“I’ll start,” Shouta says, as the rest of them nervously glance around at one another. “Midoriya. Had the situation been different, you need to know that you and the majority of your classmates would’ve been expelled because of the action you took during the Kamino Ward incident.”

The kid visibly flinches, darting his gaze. Shouta sighs.

“But,” he continues, his voice much softer than before. “Because of All Might’s retirement, the state of our hero society has come into question, and we need as many talented, young heroes as we can right now. So the school has decided not to expel any of you.”

Midoriya hesitates, before nodding. He still won’t look up, but Shouta figures that’s the best response he could’ve hoped for.

“Now with that out of the way--the main reason we came here is to discuss the new living situation with you both. Principal Nedzu and the faculty have decided that in order to best protect our students, that they will start living on-campus in dormitories that are currently being built.”

Shouta looks to across the table, where Ms Midoriya is staring at him, head tilted. He meets her eyes with his own.

“I made a personal promise to you, about four years ago. I told you that I would keep your son safe. I don’t believe I’ve lived up to that promise.”

Pushing his chair away from the table he stands, and slips into a formal bow.

“I’m deeply sorry for all the pain that I’ve caused you. If you allow Midoriya to continue studying at U.A., I believe that him living in the dorms will be the safest thing for him. I’ll do everything in my power to be sure of that.”

“Mr Aizawa, none of this is your fault,” Midoriya cuts in, as predicted. Shouta uprights himself, and glares towards the kid. He doesn’t back down. “I’m the one who went to Kamino. I’m the one who went after that villain in the forest, and went after more again when you told me not to.”

“I’m still your teacher. I gave you permission to fight,” Shouta states. “It’s still my responsibility. You’re still my responsibility.”

The kid’s mouth is still hanging open, ready to rebut, but he doesn’t.

“And you’re going to be living there with them?”

It’s Ms Midoriya, who speaks up.

“Yes, I will be. Both of us will be, along with the majority of the staff.”

She turns to Yagi, who’s just been staring towards the rest of them while they spoke, silently wringing his wrists.

“You will be too?”

“Yes, I will. But I’m afraid I won’t be of much use anymore.”

“Don’t say that,” she says, almost at a whisper, shaking his head. She looks as if she wants to say more, holding onto his withering look for a moment longer before turning back to Shouta with a sigh.

“This is the only thing Izuku has ever wanted in life. He trained with you for years, struggled with his quirk, just for a shot at getting into U.A. And then he did. And even though--even though it terrifies me, the kind of stuff he might get into, has gotten into….I don’t think I could live with myself if I took this away from him. I want him to be safe, but I also want him to be happy.”

She’s crying, now, and there’s definitely some wetness in the kid’s eyes as well.

“If I let you continue going to this school, Izuku,” she continues through her sniffles, “then you have to promise me that you’ll do a better job of keeping yourself safe. Okay?”

“Okay, Mom,” he says, quiet. “I promise.”

She nods, dabbing at her eyes with the sleeve of her sweater. Yagi hands her a tissue and she accepts it gratefully.

Shouta stays quiet for a moment, giving both of them time to gather themselves. Once Ms Midoriya’s tears have mostly stopped, Shouta continues.

“We’ll have more information for you about the dorms soon, but for now just pack any essentials you’ll need for the rest of the year.”

Midoriya nods. Shouta sighs.

“There is something else we should talk about, while we’re all here. Your quirk.”

The kid blinks, looking from him and then to Yagi. Their last interaction at the hospital seems to come rushing back to him.

“Oh, yeah--it’s supposed to be different now, right? It didn’t really feel different at Kamino, but I only used my quirk for a second….”

He trails off, looking to All Might nervously. “So. I have your quirk now. Or well, I guess I did before, but not really?”

Yagi nods. “Yes, I believe so. But now that you have One for All, things should come more easily to you, in terms of controlling it.”

“And I’m your….successor, then?”

A pause before Yagi nods again, although it’s more hesitant than it was last time. “I, er. Yes, technically. But more so you’re the successor of One for All.”

“Right.”

“I know it’s a huge burden to be carrying such a secret. But….I’d love to spend more time with you. To talk about it. And to train, of course.”

Midoriya’s grin falls as his expression darkens. “You want to spend time with me because I’m your successor?”

“Well, yes.”

Silence falls thick over them. Ms Midoriya eyes between Yagi and the kid--the kid, who is now sitting up from his seat, staring down at his socks.

“If you’ll excuse me.”

Shouta watches him leave. He then turns to All Might, and smacks him upside the head.

“Ah--Aizawa!” Yagi shouts, turning towards him with a glare as he rubs at the back of his scalp. “What was--?”

“Are you stupid? You just told the kid that you want to spend time with him because he’s the successor to your quirk, not because he’s your son.

“What?” Yagi asks, confusion overtaking his previous irritation. His brow furrows. “I didn’t say….”

His eyes widen with realization.

“Oh. Fuck.”

Shouta snorts, but there’s no humor to it. “Yeah, fuck is right.”

“I should--I should go talk to him--”

“Maybe not right now,” Ms Midoriya says. Yagi turns to her, crestfallen and blinking. She offers him a sympathetic smile.

“I know you didn’t mean it like that, but maybe give him some space.”

Yagi looks as if he wants to argue but he eventually relents, nodding.

“You’re right. I should--I should probably go then.”

The three of them stand and walk over to the door. Ms Midoriya squeezes Yagi’s shoulder.

“We’ll talk soon, okay?”

“Of course,” Yagi says softly. He then turns to Shouta. “Are you coming, then?”

“....I think I’m going to stay and talk to the kid. You should head on back.”

For a moment Shouta sees heat in Yagi’s eyes, but it’s quick to fade. “Right. Okay then. I’ll….see you at school.”

He nods. Yagi closes the door behind him.

“He really didn’t mean it like that. I know he didn’t.”

Raising a brow, Shouta turns to Ms Midoriya. “I know. But that doesn’t mean he didn’t shove own foot in his mouth.”

She chuckles, before sighing. “I just….I hope it’s not too late. For them to have any sort of relationship.”

“I doubt that it is.”

Ms Midoriya hums. “Well, if you don’t mind checking up on Izuku, I can start dinner. I’m sure he’d rather speak to you than me, right now.”

Shouta frowns, and she gently smiles. It looks fragile on her face, as if it’s about to crack.

“Go talk to him.”

He does.

--------

Izuku’s first reaction to his dorm room is that it’s big.

It’s not huge or anything, but having grown up in a small apartment with his mom all his life, having a room like this just to himself is slightly overwhelming. Not to mention all the amenities of the shared spaces.

He was….nervous about leaving, and still is. He’s never lived away from home before and has only been away from his mom for no more than a few days at a time, whenever she had to travel to see family.

Well. He did live away from home once, if you count living in the hospital. But his mom was there every day to see him whenever she got off from work, so he never really felt like he was away from her.

But this room isn’t cold and sterile like the hospital. It’s empty, and it’s clean, but it still feels….homey, somehow. Maybe it’s the private balcony or the western-style bed that’s similar to his own. Either way, it’s spacious, and it’s nice.

Izuku is also just happy for the change. With how jumbled up he’s felt the past week after….well, everything, it’s nice to have this as somewhat of a fresh start.

Stifling a sigh, Izuku begins looking through the few boxes he had packed. Mostly clothes and books. A couple pieces of exercise equipment. Some snacks, his mom had forced him to take.

When he opens the last box , however, he frowns at the piece of paper folded on top--something he doesn’t remember packing. He carefully unfolds it, and snorts at what he sees.

It’s an Eraserhead poster--home-made, considering he doesn’t have any official merch. He made it in the days after Mr Aizawa had helped him. It seems like a lifetime ago, now.

The poster is crude--block letters cut out of construction paper and glued onto a poster board. There’s a silhouette of Mr Aizawa himself, again cut out of black paper, with his goggles cut out in yellow and his capture weapon in grey. It’s not bad considering he made it when he was eleven, but some of the letters are starting to peel, the cheap glue gone dry.

His mom must’ve snuck it in when he wasn’t paying attention. He knows it didn’t go past her how he took all of his All Might posters off the walls but didn’t pack them, instead rolling them up neatly and placing them into the back of his closet.

It’s not that he doesn’t like All Might as a hero anymore. It’s just….having posters of his newfound biological father on his walls is just too uncomfortable for him.

Plus, he barely knows the man. The only real interactions they’ve had have been as his teacher, other than the time All Might saved him before U.A. Hero worship is one thing, but to think of the hero as his father….

Izuku shakes his head. He’s just not ready for that, and he’s not sure that All Might is either. Rationally, he knows that All Might didn’t mean what he said the other day, he knew that even before Mr Aizawa came in to talk to him. It was a careless choice of words, Mr Aizawa had said (even if he hadn’t said so as eloquently as that) and Izuku can’t blame him for it.

Well. He can blame him a little. But he can’t blame him for not understanding how to act like a….well….

A knock at the door pulls him from his thoughts. He turns to face it.

“....Come in.”

He’s expecting one of his classmates, but it’s Mr Aizawa who enters. His teacher walks over to where he’s still seated on the floor, half unpacked boxes surrounding him.

“Hi, Mr Aizawa. Did you need something?”

He shakes his head. “No, I’m just checking in on everyone, to make sure you’re all doing okay.”

Izuku nods. He’s not--he doesn’t know if he believes him, or if he thinks it’s just an excuse for Mr Aizawa to come check up on him specifically.

Either way, he’s grateful.

“I’m doing okay right now,” he says, and it’s not really a lie. “Just….unpacking.”

“What’s this?”

Izuku blinks, eyes following to where Mr Aizawa is pointing. When he realizes what he’s asking about, his cheeks begin to burn red.

“That’s--that’s not--!”

He tries to grab it, but Mr Aizawa beats him to it. He’d completely forgotten about the poster, left unfolded atop of the box he pulled it from.

Mr Aizawa eyes over it, chuckling. His smile is genuine.

“You made this?”

Izuku hesitates, before nodding. There’s no point in pretending that he didn’t. “It was….a while ago. I think my mom packed it when I wasn’t looking.”

“Ah. So you’re not going to hang it up then?”

He takes the poster back, eyeing his teacher carefully. “....No. I’m gonna.”

Mr Aizawa doesn’t say anything, but there’s still a hint of a smile on his lips. He seats himself on the edge of his bed.

“You sure you’re okay?”

Izuku sighs. He sets the poster back down and continues going through the box. Some soap, toothpaste. A new pack of toothbrushes his mom bought him--his old one was All Might themed.

“Yeah. I will be.”

“I’m just on the first floor, you know, with the rest of the staff. If you ever need anything.”

“I know. Thank you.”

Mr Aizawa looks like he has more to say, but doesn’t. He gets up, walks over to the door, but before he can open it Izuku lifts himself off the ground, running over and near-tackles him into a hug. His teacher stiffens, taken aback, but is quick to relax, wrapping an arm around Izuku’s shoulders.

“Thank you.”

“....You’re welcome, kid.”

--------

The girls want to look at everyone’s rooms, now that they all seem to be done unpacking. Izuku doesn’t particularly want to show his room off, but a lot of them seem excited about it, so the rest of them play along. He is kind of excited to see everyone else’s rooms, though.

They start with him, his being on the second floor. It’s only when they’re about to enter that he again remembers the poster, but it’s too late to stop them.

Well. It could be worse, he supposes.

“Wow, Midoriya!” Kaminari says to him. “I was expecting at least one All Might poster, since you’re such a big fan of him.”

Izuku remembers how he’d reacted when he first saw All Might in class. “Ha ha, yeah,” he says with a smile.

“Is this a poster of Mr Aizawa?” Asui says, and the rest of them begin crowd around her. Izuku chuckles awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck.

“I, er. Yeah, it is. I made it when I was young and my mom must have--”

“It’s super cool! I like it!”

“I wish they made real merch for him. Not that this isn’t nice, though!”

“Wait, what’s this?”

Izuku turns, still smiling. When he sees what Sero is holding, however, his smile drops.

Crap. He should’ve put that in the closet.

“It’s my prosthetic arm.”

Sero blinks at it, holding it up to examine. Kirishima walks over to it, raising a brow.

“How come you never wear it?” Kirishima asks. When he sees the look Izuku is wearing, however, he blinks and slaps a hand over his mouth.

“Sorry, sorry, that was super rude of me to ask! I didn’t mean--”

“No, no,” Izuku says, waving him off. He didn’t have any ill intent with his words, his voice was cheerful and he seemed genuinely curious. “It’s….uncomfortable, and it’s not super helpful. It can help stabilize things if I need to cook, or something, but it mostly just gets in the way. Especially when I’m training.”

Kirishima and the rest of the class seem to nod in understanding. Sero sets the prosthetic down and the class begins to trickle out of his room, chatting amongst themselves about who’s room they’re going to see next.

Izuku is surprised at seeing how elaborate some of their rooms are. Todoroki especially--how he was able to convert his whole room in an afternoon, Izuku has no idea. But, if any of them could do it, Izuku would put his money on Todoroki, no question.

Some of the boys start saying how they should get to see the girls room, since they got to see all of theirs. Izuku frowns.

“Wait, where’s Mineta?”

It’s not like he really wanted to see Mineta’s room, but Izuku figured he of all people would’ve been rearing to show his room to the girls. He’s not surprised at all that Kacchan isn’t here with them, but Mineta….

The boys look around in question, seeming like the just noticed he wasn’t there. Yaoyorozu clears her throat.

“Mr Aizawa didn’t tell you? He left the school.”

Izuku blinks, frowning, but a few of his classmates laugh.

“You mean he was expelled,” Sero says, chuckling.

“Yeah,” Mina says with a wide grin. “After the training camp, Mr Aizawa thought it best that he didn’t return.”

Well. Considering only the girls knew about his expulsion, Izuku can imagine what exactly let to Mr Aizawa’s decision.

No one really looks too torn up over it.

As they all begin walking towards the other side of the building to where the girls rooms are, Izuku feels a tap on his shoulder. He turns to see Todoroki staring at him with a rather odd expression.

“Midoriya. Do you mind hanging back for a sec?”

They’re in the common room now, having had to walk through it on their way over to the other side of the building. Izuku frowns, a bit nervous, but nods.

“Yeah, of course. What’s up?”

Todoroki pauses, seemingly waiting for the rest of the class to disappear around the corner. They’re still talking and laughing amongst themselves and don’t seem to notice their absence. One they’re gone, Todoroki sits down on the couch. Izuku does as well.

He looks to his classmate, who’s staring down at his own hands. He seems to be lost in his own thoughts, and Izuku gives him time to formulate them, just sitting quietly at his side.

Eventually, he speaks. “When we were in the hospital after the training camp, Kirishima and I came by your room. We were going to talk to you then, but there was someone already in there with you and we didn’t want to bother you.”

Izuku swallows, hard. He remembers Kirishima mentioning this, saying how he saw a tall, lanky man with messy blonde hair and asked if it was his dad.

“....That was All Might? Wasn’t it?”

Izuku darts his gaze. He should’ve figured one of them would ask about it, after All Might’s true form was revealed to the world.

“I, yeah. It was.”

“I should apologize, then,” Todoroki says, and Izuku blinks up at him in genuine confusion.

“Apologize? For what?”

Todoroki just looks to him, face unreadable. “Before. During the Sports Festival. I….implied that I thought All Might was your dad. It was rude of me, to assume that. I was just so mad at my old man, I wasn’t thinking rationally over what your relationship with him might be.”

Izuku blinks once. Then twice.

He then bursts into a wild, uncontrollable fit of laughter. He throws his head back onto the couch, clutching his stomach as the laughs wrack his body. Blinking at Todoroki through the tears in his eyes, Izuku can see that his classmate looks somewhat bewildered by his reaction.

“Todoroki….boy, do I have some news for you.”

Chapter Text

Shouto blinks as Midoriya breaks down into a fit of laughter before him.

He ...doesn't know what’s going on. At first his chest pangs, slightly, in fear that Midoriya isn’t ready to accept his apology. But even so, he’d like to think he knows Midoriya well enough to know he wouldn’t laugh at him over something like this.

As Midoriya continues to laugh and laugh, that possibility seems more and more unlikely, and now Shouto is just….

Confused.

Eventually, thankfully, Midoriya seems to regain his composure, meeting Shouto’s eyes with an odd smile. He coughs slightly, shaking his head.

“Todoroki I’m--I’m sorry,” Midoriya says, still trying to stifle his giggles. He blinks, clears his throat and just like that, his face takes a darker turn. Shouto’s heart lurches again, this time in worry.

“Midoriya, are you okay? Did I--?”

He cuts Shouto off with a firm shake of his head. “No, no, not at all. I was just ...I was laughing at, er. At the irony of it.”

Shouto furrows his brow, frowning. “The irony of it?”

“Yeah. Because, well. It turns out, actually, that All Might. He's ...well. He’s my dad.”

Shouto’s brain clicks a few times before whirring to a stop. He blinks once, twice, before shaking his head.

“I--excuse me?”

Midoriya grins, dry. “Surprise?”

“....You’re not joking. He’s really your father? Not that it matters, of course, I--”

“Not that it matters?”

Shouto cocks his head. “I mean, not that it matters as in it doesn’t matter to me, who your parents are. But ...All Might is actually your father?”

Midoriya doesn’t reply, instead gazing at Shouto intently, but with an expression he can’t quite decipher. He starts to worry again, unsure if he should interrupt whatever thought he must be processing right now, when Midoriya shakes his head, smiling softly.

“I ...that's really nice to hear, Todoroki. Thank you.”

Shouto’s throat tightens, and he doesn’t trust himself to speak. Instead he nods, hoping it’ll be enough. Midoriya’s smile lingers a moment longer before he opens his lips again to speak.

“But, yes. He’s really my dad. And no, I didn’t know until a couple days ago.”

“Wait, what?” Shouto asks, slightly dumbstruck. When Midoriya had told him that All Might really was his dad, he assumed he’d known all this time, of course, and had just been trying to hide it from Shouto during the Festival. Which would’ve been completely understandable, as Todoroki now realizes how much of a prying question it had been.

But….

Even when he’d thought All Might may be Midoriya’s dad, he knew it was a longshot. He never felt any sort of certainty, and he understands he was mostly projecting because of his own damn father.

And now to know that All Might is Midoriya’s dad, and for Midoriya to not have known--

A sudden rage begins to prickle at Shouto, a different kind of heat than his own flames. “He never told you? Not until a few days ago?”

“....No.”

“And he knew? He knew he had a kid?”

It’s after the words left his mouth that Shouto realizes what a prying question it is, but before he can Midoriya nods, meeting him with something of a sad grin. Shouto clenches his left fist, taking in a deep, even breath. He can feel frost beginning to prickle at the nape of his neck.

Bastard.”

Blinking, Midoriya raises his brows. “What?”

“I--I’m sorry, Midoriya, but he knew he had a kid, and he didn’t tell you? He wasn’t in your life? He’s--All Might is supposed to be one of the good heroes.”

Shouto shakes his head, biting down on his tongue as he darts his gaze. “I shouldn’t talk about him like that. I know how you feel about him, and I shouldn't ...assume things.”

This time, Midoriya’s smile is a bit brighter, and his laughter sounds almost genuine. “It’s okay, Todoroki. Because….it sucks. And it hurts,” he finishes, the words heavy on his tongue and he sighs after as if they’ve been weighing on him. “I get his reasons. I do. But it still hurts, even if I don’t want it to. I want to forgive him ...but I don’t.”

“That’s okay,” Shouto says. “I ...with my mom. It took me a while to forgive her, to rebuild things with her. And I think you can do that with All Might, if you want to. But you also don’t have to.”

Again Midoriya meets his gaze, and Shouto almost gets lost in the wild green of it. Suddenly he feels a pressure on his leg and he tenses, before he sees that it’s Midoriya’s hand gently grasping at his knee. He relaxes, if only slightly, his breath still uneven.

“I--er. I’m sorry for dumping that on you, Todoroki. But thank you for listening. I haven’t told anyone yet and ...I really think I needed to.”

Shouto pauses, before blinking. “You haven’t told anyone yet?”

Midoriya shakes his head. “No, not yet. A few of the teachers know, but ...that's it. I do want to tell everyone eventually, just not yet. But I know that I can trust you.”

“....Thank you for trusting me.”

Midoriya squeezes at his knee, and Shouto feels his heart stutter against his ribs.

“Of course, Todoroki.”

--------

“Mr Aizawa?”

Shouta looks up to the emptying classroom to see three of his students standing apprehensively in front of his desk. Well, Uraraka and Iida look so, at least. Todoroki’s expression is a bit harder to decipher.

“Yes?”

Uraraka looks around, apparently checking to see that everyone else has left before speaking. “We, well. We just wanted to ask ...have you spoken to Midoriya recently?”

Shouta pauses his shuffling of papers and frowns. “I’ve spoken to him during move-in, but other than that and in class, I haven’t. Why?”

“We don’t mean to bother you, Mr Aizawa,” Iida says, head falling into a shallow bow. “But we’re worried about him. He hasn’t been himself the past few days.”

Uraraka nods furiously in agreement. “We thought he might be homesick or something, but I don’t think that’s it.”

Well. Shouta can’t say he hasn’t noticed it, either. It’s only been a few days since the students returned to their normal routine of classes but even so, Shouta has certainly noticed a lull in Midoriya’s energy.

He knows why, of course. But it’s not his place to share.

“I can check in with him, but have you tried talking to him yourself?”

They all nod. Shouta’s frown deepens.

“And what did he say?”

“That he’s fine, but we know he’s not,” Todoroki says, meeting his eyes with a careful gaze. “I think there might be ...something more going on.”

….Ah. So he told Todoroki.

“I’m sure he’ll be fine, but I’ll talk to him. Likely he’s just adjusting to the dorms.”

They nod again, and Uraraka smiles. “Thank you, Mr Aizawa. We weren’t really sure what to do, but we know that he trusts you.”

Shouta hums, trying to ignore the heat rising on the back of his neck. “Thank you for telling me. It's ...good to know that he has friends who care for him.”

Uraraka breaks into a wide grin, while the two boys smile softly behind her. “We just want to make sure he’s okay, you know?”

“....Of course. I’ll be sure to talk to him.”

-------

Shouta sighs before rapping twice on Midoriya’s door.

He was hoping he wouldn’t have to seek him out in his room, rather that he would run into him at dinner and quietly pull him aside for a moment. But no such luck, considering Midoriya hadn’t come down for dinner. Instead he came in to find the rest of his classmates chatting, laughing, and making a complete mess of the kitchen.

But there was no short green hair in sight. So instead he returned once the kids were done, found a bento box on the counter with the name Midoriya scrawled on a sticky note in what can only be Todoroki’s precise kanji.

Eyeing the living room he sees most of his students surrounding the TV, still laughing and chatting and still no sight of Midoriya.

Taking the stairs as to slip past the students is how Shouta now found himself standing outside the kid’s dorm, still-warm udon noodles clutched carefully in his hand.

Shouta raises his other hand to knock again when a faint Come in can be heard from inside. Twisting the knob and finding it unlocked, Shouta enters.

The room is about the same as he remembers it, although he can’t help noticing that the Eraserhead poster is now taped to the wall above his desk.

The main difference is Midoriya, who’s lying flat on his bed, blankets slung haphazardly over his form. In his left hand he’s playing with a worn Silver-Age All Might figure.

The kid doesn’t acknowledge him any further than a quick glance his way. Stifling a sigh, Shouta pulls over the desk chair to sit beside his bed.

“Your classmates left you dinner,” Shouta says, handing the box over. Dropping the All Might figure onto his bed he takes it, smiling slightly at the note atop the container before placing it onto the floor.

“I’ll have to thank them.”

Shouta nods. “Why didn’t you come down to eat with them?”

“Wasn’t hungry.”

Shouta knows he’s lying--that kid burns so much energy training that he’s always hungry, and this week has been no exception.

So it’s either that he’s lying, or he doesn’t have his appetite due to external factors. Either way, not good.

“Your friends are worried about you, y’know. They say you’re not acting yourself.”

He shrugs the best he can while laying down, meeting Shouta’s eyes for a long minute before answering with, “I don’t really feel like myself.”

Again Shouta nods. “I’m sure you don’t. You can talk to me any time, you know that, right? And if you don’t want to talk to me, we can get you someone to talk to.”

“I ...yeah, actually. There is someone I’d like to talk to.”

The kid looks nervous, and Shouta’s chest clenches tight at the idea that Midoriya would be so distraught over the thought of talking with All Might, or even a therapist or counselor. “Of course. Who is it?”

“All for One.”

Shouta blinks, reeling for a moment as he processes exactly what the kid sad. He was fully prepared to launch into a speech about either how he doesn’t need to be nervous or afraid to talk to All Might, or embarrassed about seeing a therapist. But this….

“....All for One?”

Sighing, Midoriya sits himself upright, blankets falling off him as he meets Shouta with wide, somber eyes. “Yes. The villain who kidnapped Kacchan, who ...who told me about All Might. I want to talk to him.”

Shouta pauses for a moment, giving himself time to figure out how best to approach this. “Why exactly do you want to speak to him?”

“Because I need closure.”

….Ah. Well, that makes a lot of sense, actually. Shouta truly cannot imagine what the kid was feeling when he was kidnapped right off his feet, just to be told by a villain that his life isn’t what he thinks it is. And to simply be returned like that, with seemingly no ulterior motive….

And as much as Shouta understands that, he cannot in good conscious allow this kid to go to a maximum-security prison, even with an entourage of pro heroes. Disregarding the obvious physical danger he could possibly be put into, the emotional damage of going to a place like that and talking to a man like that, just to be added onto all the muddled and heavy emotions he must be drowning in….

But then again, Shouta thinks as he looks back to Midoriya’s near-pleading eyes, there must be something he can do to help the kid.

“I’m not going to say no,” Shouta says, the boy’s face falling slightly. “But, I am going to need to talk to some people about it. Including All Might. And your mom, of course.”

A brief, tight pause before Midoriya nods. “Of course.”

--------

“No. No, absolutely not.”

Shouta raises a brow, arms crossed as he stares at Yagi. “I don’t like the idea either. But I think we should at least consider it.”

Yagi shakes his head, turning off the stove and pulling a bowl down from the cupboard. Shouta had come straight here from Midoriya’s, after making sure that the kid would be okay for the night. Yagi had let him into his apartment, surprised, of course, but not all that much. After telling him Midoriya’s request, he’d watched as Yagi’s gaunt features became darker and harsher.

“No. I won’t consider it.”

“Y’know, this is more of a courtesy than anything. You don’t actually have any sort of custody over him.”

“I get it, Aizawa,” Yagi states, and Shouta blinks. His words are ...they're almost desperate, begging, strained. “I understand he wants that closure. But he absolutely should not talk to this man. This is what he does--he manipulates people. It’s not just his immense power that makes him such a frightening villain.

“I know, I know,” Shouta shakes his head, sitting down at Yagi’s western dining table. Without a word, Yagi serves him a bowl of miso and Shouta takes it with a small, grateful smile. “I just ...I think he needs something. And if this is it, then I don’t know what to do.”

“He can’t talk to him, Aizawa. Just, please. Don’t let him.”

Shouta huffs out a breath, running a hand through his unruly hair. He leans back into the chair, pinching at the bridge of his nose before shaking his head again, rising from his seat.

“Maybe ...maybe I can go talk to him.”

“With all due respect, Aizawa. If one of us should go talk to him, it should be me. I, honestly, I was planning on doing so at some point.”

“You just said how manipulative he is. Wouldn’t it be better for a neutral party to go instead?”

This time it’s Yagi who raises a brow. “Do you really think that you’re a neutral party?”

Shouta averts his gaze. “Not when it comes to Midoriya, but I am when it comes to this villain. At most he’ll know me as a pro hero, if that. But nothing else.”

Yagi goes silent, staring down at his untouched soup as if watching it turn cold. He sighs.

“....Alright. If you think it’s best, then you can go talk to him. I still don’t think it’s a good idea, though.”

“And you talking to him is?”

He coughs as he sits down at the table in time with Shouta, crimson dotting the crease of his elbow. “I know him. I know what he’s capable of.”

“And he knows you, he knows exactly what to say to you. Now, shut up and eat your soup, you need to eat.”

Yagi huffs out a dry, humorless laugh and picks up his spoon.

--------

“When they said a pro hero would be visiting me, I figured they’d be sending me someone more ...prestigious.”

Shouta eyes the faceless man carefully before taking a seat. The room itself is stark white, save for the silver of the various medical equipment and the scarred face of the villain.

“Sorry to disappoint,” Shouta drawls, and the villain laughs.

“Well, I’ll take the company. Eraserhead, isn’t it? I assume you’re here about Midoriya Izuku, correct?”

Shouta swallows, the feeling of it thick in his throat. “It is.”

“Ah! I figured. See, I know you’re a teacher at UA, and I heard about how that boy tried to save you when Tomura attacked the USJ. I have to say, you’re quite the fighter.”

Eyebrow twitching, Shouta says nothing. All for One smiles, all teeth.

“So I figured, of course, this was either about him or that Bakugou child. Lucky guess, then.”

“Why did you kidnap him?” Shouta states, as blunt as he can make his words. “Why did you kidnap him just to return him minutes later?”

The villain shrugs minutely. “Because he deserved to know the truth. And, to fuck with All Might.”

“Excuse me?” Shouta blurts out, beside himself. But once the words process, he finds it’s anger, rather than confusion, that begins to fester in his veins. Because Shouta had his suspicions, that this had been nothing more than mind games directed at All Might. Even with Bakugou, likely kidnapping him specifically in part due to his publicity with the Sports Festival….

That itself is enough to make Shouta’s blood boil, for him to be so cavalier about kidnapping not only one but two of his students.

But what he put Midoriya through, inflicting him with that kind of emotional trauma just to ‘fuck’ with his rival hero?

….Shouta thinks it’s the villain who should be thankful there’s glass nearly half a meter thick separating the two of them.

“You kidnapped an innocent student just to use him as a pawn against a pro hero?”

“I didn’t use him. I simply told him the truth. He deserved to know. Fucking with All Might was just a bonus.”

Shouta….he simply has no words for this man. So he says nothing, just stares past his shoulder, the ringing of the heart monitor fuzzy in his ears.

“Is that all you came here for?” All for One asks, seemingly amused. Shouta grinds his teeth before taking a deep breath. He shrugs, forcing a neutral expression onto his teeth.

“I have nothing else to say to you. You’re a villain who kills without reason. You use and manipulate people for senseless violence. You’re beyond help.”

The villain chuckles, not before his lips curl into a smile. “It’s funny, isn’t it? How all you heroes think you’re doing the right thing just because you give yourselves the title of Hero? This world is tainted, and I’m just trying to bring it justice. You’re just too blind to see it.”

Shouta stares at him a moment longer before rising from his seat. “Right. Well, I got the answer I came here for, so I think I’ll just be going.”

“I hope he’s doing well. Izuku.”

“Don’t say his given name,” Shouta snaps before he realizes he’s opened his lips. All for One laughs.

“Why shouldn’t I? I know his father very well, after all. I think that makes us familiar enough. But I hope he’s doing well. He’s going to be powerful, one day. More so than All Might ever was.”

“Whether he does or doesn’t, you won’t live to see it since you’ll be rotting in this prison.

Without a glance back Shouta turns, walking to the door. A voice makes him stop, however, just before he opens it.

“Oh, one more thing. When you see All Might, let him know that Tomura Shigaraki is Nana’s grandson, will you?”

Shouta says nothing, just exits the room as quickly as he can.

When he exits the prison gates, he gives himself time to actually process what the villain’s last words to him had been. He knows who Shigaraki is, but Nana?

….What he is certain about, is that All Might definitely knows who Nana is.

Entering into the back of the police car that had escorted him here, Shouta pulls out his phone. His fingers hover over Yagi’s contact number, before sighing and shoving the phone into the pocket of his jumpsuit.