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flare guns go off in my head saying not to call you this late

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One.

Aoyama is used to making an impression. After all, he is the shining hero. It's kind of his job to sparkle and dazzle and glow. He had gotten used to people staring at him. He embraces it wholeheartedly, choosing to follow the age-old rule of any press is good press.

And yet, here he is, praying to every deity he has ever heard of that no one looks at him. He absolutely does not want attention right now. At this moment, he envies Hagakure and wishes he shared her quirk because he completely and utterly wants to disappear.

It's been a long day of classes and training and he may have overexerted himself in that last exercise. His stomach is churning and he really wants to make it to his room before he starts to projectile vomit all over the gym. He's too far gone now to stop it, so he weakly tries to hide the fact that he's two seconds away from throwing up as he shuffles over to Aizawa, preparing to ask to be excused.

Suddenly an arm drops around his shoulders, light and warm. He stops, looking over in confusion as Midoriya throws a sheepish grin towards their forever unamused teacher.

"I think I might have sprained my ankle, sensei. Is it okay is Aoyama helps me to Recovery Girl?" Midoriya asks.

Aizawa sighs and glares at the green-haired boy, though it lacks any bite. "You'll never stop being a problem child, will you? Go on. Get it checked out. Aoyama, stay with him for the rest of the period. Make sure he doesn't break himself."

"Yes, sensei," Aoyama replies, shoving away another round of nausea.

Midoriya tosses Aizawa another blinding smile and hops away on one foot, tugging Aoyama with him. The blond keeps up easily since Midoriya is not leaning on him at all, instead using his shoulder as a source of balance when needed. When they reach the hallway, the door shutting behind them, the green-haired boy turns to him with a concerned look.

"Now that we're through with that, what do you need? You overused your quirk, right?" Midoriya asks, his voice full of worry.

Aoyama blinks at him. "You don't need me to help you to Recovery Girl for your ankle?"

"Of course not. That was a lie. I just needed an excuse to get you out of the classroom without drawing too much attention. I noticed you were looking a little green."

Aoyama thinks Midoriya might be some sort of evil genius. It's a good thing he's on their side. Any other thoughts in his head are abruptly shoved aside when he remembers the nausea steadily rising in his chest. He barely manages to rush towards a nearby trashcan when the urge to vomit hits him full force. He wraps his hands around the metal bin and heaves until his stomach is empty and his throat is on fire.

He vaguely recognizes that Midoriya has dropped down beside him and is rubbing his back with one hand and holding his hair back with the other.

"Did that help?" Midoriya asks, still tracing soothing patterns on his back.

Aoyama nods, feeling overheated and exhausted. But the nausea is mostly gone, so that's something at least.

"Can you walk? We should get you to your room. That was our last class anyway."

"Oui, mon ami. I always feel a lot better after throwing up. Thank you for helping me," Aoyama says, accepting Midoriya's hand to pull him back into a standing position.

Sure enough, he feels like he can breathe again and moving isn't horrifying. He glances down and feels his lips curl into a frown.

"Why is your ankle purple?” Aoyama asks as he bends down slightly, eyes widening at the sight of his friend’s swollen foot. “I thought you said you were lying, Midoriya!"

Midoriya winces and offers him an awkward smile. "Yeah, about needing help to Recovery Girl. I really did hurt my ankle though."

"How did you manage that? You have way more mobility than Kirishima."

The green-haired boy looks guilty for a second and then glances away quickly. "Uh, well, you see—"

"Midoriya," Aoyama interrupts sternly, glaring at him. "Did you sprain your ankle on purpose in order to help me?"

Midoriya huffs and crosses his arms over his chest. "Well, I had to sell it, Aoyama. It was a necessary sacrifice. Think of it as collateral damage."

Aoyama sighs, somehow both surprised and unsurprised, and mutters a few choice words in French under his breath as he hooks an arm around Midoriya's waist. He's starting to think that Aizawa may be onto something with the whole problem child thing.

 

Two.

Mina knows that she isn't the smartest person at U.A. She knows that she isn't the strongest either. Usually, that doesn't bother her. She can brush it off with a grin and ignore any of the doubts in her mind.

Today, however, is a different story. It starts with a pop quiz that she is wholly underprepared for and ends with a training session straight from hell, one that gives her a twisted wrist and puts her in a bad mood.

The thing is, she's trying. She really is. She's just never been very good at school and this is an entirely different ballgame than middle school and it's hard. She's still adjusting and she knows that she's not doing as well as she can. She knows that. But damn it, she's trying.

She pinches the bridge of her nose as Iida stands in front of her, lecturing her about the importance of always being prepared in both an academic and physical sense. She sighs and tries to reign in her temper, well aware that screaming at the class president will do more harm than good.

It's not until Mineta asks her if she ever gets tired of being the dumb one that she feels herself snapping.

And then there's a blur of green and she is tossed over someone's shoulder as they run down the hall in the opposite direction. She can hear several voices shouting at Mineta as she tries to figure out why she’s upside down all of the sudden.

"Sorry, guys! I need to borrow Mina," Midoriya yells to the crowd in the common room as he continues to carry her away.

Mina is shocked out of her anger and merely waits for the boy to tell her what's happening because she has absolutely no clue why she's being manhandled. But she's curious, so she can afford to be a little patient. Besides, Midoriya wouldn’t hurt a fly, so she isn’t particularly worried.  

Eventually she hears a door open and then she is placed lightly on a firm bed. A blanket is draped over her shoulders and a warm mug is shoved into her hands. Something is wrapped around her wrist, a brace that helps the ache fade. She blinks in confusion, but isn't quite sure what to ask, so she stays silent and watches her friend move around the room instead.

Midoriya eventually crouches in front of her with a smile, setting a laptop on the mattress next to her. "Hey."

And the look he's giving her is so soft and warm and kind that it makes her want to cry and laugh at the same time. "Hey, Mido."

"You're smart. You're strong. You're capable. You are going to be an amazing hero and I am so glad that I get to call you a friend. When you get famous, I'm going to buy a t-shirt with your face on it and wear it proudly. Don't listen to Mineta. Or anyone for that matter. I believe in you, and you should too," Midoriya says, his voice filled with honesty.

Well, he just made the choice between crying and laughing for her because now there are tears sliding down her cheeks and what did she do to deserve someone like Midoriya Izuku in her life?

She can't find words to reply, but he just keeps smiling at her and gently wipes the tears off her cheeks with his thumbs.

"I have a bunch of movies downloaded on my computer. Watch whatever you want. Hide in here until you feel better. You can stay as long as you want. And don't worry. No one will bother you. I have to go find Kacchan now, but text me if you need anything, okay? And remember, I'm proud of you, Mina." He leans forward to press his lips against her forehead and then leaves her alone in the room.

Mina lifts the hot chocolate to her lips and chokes out a half-laugh half-sob when she sees the cinnamon sprinkles and whipped cream. Her favorite.

Yes, she doesn't deserve Midoriya Izuku in her life. But she's really glad she has him all the same.

 

Three.

Tsuyu has never liked being away from her family for long. She loves her siblings and she really just enjoys being around them. After all, she practically raised them. So, while moving into the dorms is a great experience and she truly does have fun, she also gets homesick every once in a while.

It's not until her little sister's birthday comes and goes that she realizes how upset she really is at not being there. She curls up in the corner of her closet and hugs an old stuffed animal that Satsuki gave her for Christmas a few years prior, wishing that she was at home.

There's a knock on her door and she hesitantly tells the person to come in. She can see a familiar pair of red sneakers through the slits in the closet door a few seconds later and then Midoriya is slipping in beside her and sitting next to her, stretching his legs out in front of him as much as he can in the cramped space.

"I noticed you weren't at breakfast or lunch, so I thought I would come check on you," he whispers.

She's thankful for the quiet and even more thankful that he doesn't ask if she's okay. Nevertheless, she finds herself volunteering the answer because this is Midoriya and she can still picture him reaching out to save her during the USJ fiasco, even though it was clear he was terrified.

"I'm homesick, kero."

He nods. "I understand that feeling. I'm sorry."

She's completely out of tears, but she can still feel the ache of sadness in her chest, the emptiness. "I miss my siblings."

"Well, tell me about them," Midoriya says, bumping her shoulder with his own.

And so, she does. She tells him about Satsuki's obsession with Present Mic and how Samidare is terrified of scorpions and all about that time they had a water balloon fight in the house. She tells him about everything and Midoriya stays next to her and listens, occasionally asking a question or making an observation.

It's not until Tsuyu sees him reach down to massage what she assumes is a leg cramp that she notices how long he's been sitting with her in a tiny closet. She glances at her watch and feels her eyes widen as she realizes it's been four hours. Four hours of discomfort just to help her.

She leans over and presses her face to his shoulder, smiling as he reaches up to pat her on the head. "You're a good friend, Midoriya."

He stutters through a response, cheeks red, and she laughs for the first time that day.

It's not until a few days later that she realizes how severely she has underestimated how good of a friend Midoriya actually is.

She's sitting in her room, chemistry textbook on her lap as she studies, when there's a frantic knock on her door. She figures it's just Uraraka or Mina and gets up to answer it when she finds Midoriya standing in front of her with a cheerful grin, practically bouncing with excitement. 

"Did you need something?" She tilts her head at him, her tongue darting between her lips.

"Yeah! I need you to come with me. It's nothing bad, I promise," Midoriya says, holding out his hands innocently.

"I trust you, Midoriya. I know you wouldn't do anything bad. You're too pure for that, kero." She rolls her eyes, but follows after her friend with a smile.

They walk until they're outside and then continue down the road. Midoriya stops after a few minutes and turns to face her, placing his hands on her shoulders with a grin.

"Are you ready?" he asks.

She nods, even though she has no idea what is going on. She wasn't lying earlier. She does trust Midoriya, but she's still cautious. After all, Kaminari might have convinced the green-haired ball of innocence to take part in a prank. She quickly dismisses the idea after Midoriya's eyes light up with genuine excitement.

His grin widens and he reaches down for her hand, then drags her around the corner.

"Surprise!" There are dozens of people on the field—the entire class 1-A, all the teachers, and others she doesn't recognize.

And then Tsuyu sees two familiar faces and she wants to cry.

"Satsuki? Samidare?" She feels her heart pounding in her chest and there's a surge of delirious happiness running through her and yeah, she's going to cry.

And then she's running, arms outstretched, and her siblings leap at her and it's the best hug she's ever had. Her parents are a few feet away talking to Uraraka's mom and dad and everything is perfect.

She sees a flash of green and spins back around, pointing an accusing finger at Midoriya. "What did you do? How did you do this?"

Midoriya smiles and it's bashful and shy and absolutely adorable and this boy is going to be the death of her. "I just know how much you missed your family, so I talked to Aizawa to see if we could have a family day or something. Luckily, he agreed and here we are! There's food and water balloons and games too!"

"You are something else, kero. Thank you," she says and then a water balloon hits her in the back of the head and Tokoyami is avoiding eye contact and oh, this means war.

Hours later, when her siblings are draped over her lap fast asleep and everyone has settled onto the grass to stargaze, she thinks about how Midoriya convinced Aizawa to host this event on such short notice.

She tries to locate her friend, mildly concerned he's found some way to injure himself in the chaos of the water balloon wars. After all, his mom had gone home an hour ago, citing an early shift as the reason, so he was left to his own, clumsy devices. Eventually, she notices a familiar head of green hair and smiles at the sight of the boy curled up against Aizawa's shoulder, sleeping peacefully. The teacher wraps his scarf around his student and looks at him fondly.

Tsuyu chuckles to herself. She has a feeling it wasn't too hard to convince Aizawa considering who was asking.

 

Four.

Being the younger brother of Ingenium was a hard enough burden to bear. Taking his brother's place as the new Ingenium is even harder. Iida may have overestimated his own mental strength because for the first time in his life, he wants to crawl under a rock and cry until everything just goes away.

He knows that it's pointless to think about what-ifs. There's no use because this is how things are. It just is and he has to learn to deal with it. But there's this pressure on his shoulders, heavy and immovable, and he feels like it's dragging him down. 

Class this morning consisted of races and he lost to Bakugou of all people. Of course, the explosive blond had the gall to smirk at him afterwards and Iida is not ashamed to admit that he found great pleasure in watching Bakugou get scolded on sportsmanship by Midoriya. But still, the loss tastes bitter on his tongue.  

And that's how he finds himself sprinting around the track after class ends, even though his legs are screaming in pain.

Logically, he knows he's pushing himself too hard. But for some reason, he can't bring himself to care. He just needs to be faster, stronger, better. He needs to be Ingenium.

Eventually, his engines give out, sputtering helplessly, and he collapses against a nearby tree, chest heaving.

Still not fast enough, he thinks.

He's about to push himself up when he hears a familiar voice calling his name. He turns to find Midoriya running towards him and raises a hand to wave.

"Hey, Iida! I brought you a water bottle," the green-haired boy says, handing him the drink with a smile.

"Hello, Midoriya. I appreciate it. What are you up to?"

Midoriya rubs the back of his neck nervously. "Actually, I came to ask you a favor. "

"How can I be of assistance?"

"Well, I'm supposed to be working on mobility, so I was hoping you would time me while I run since you're already sitting here anyway. All you would have to do is mark each lap on my phone when I pass you."

Iida wants to say no. He wants to keep working in order to get faster, but Midoriya is looking at him with earnest eyes and a hopeful grin and he finds himself nodding. "Of course."

"Great! Thank you so much, Iida. Okay, ready, set, go," Midoriya shouts and then he's gone in a blur of green electricity.

Iida dutifully clicks the button on Midoriya's phone every time the green blur passes him. Eventually, he watches his friend start to get slower and more sluggish until Midoriya isn't even using his quirk anymore. Iida can see the redness in his face from his spot and it makes him frown. It's not until Midoriya starts to trip over his own feet, still with that determined expression, that Iida stands up and grabs his friend by the arm.

"I think it would be wise for you to take a break, Midoriya. You have trained enough for today," he says, holding the other boy steady.

Midoriya shakes his head. "I can't. I have to keep training. People are depending on me."

Iida gives him a stern look. "You can barely stand. If you push yourself too hard, it will do more harm than good."

"But I need to be stronger," the green-haired boy argues, even as his knees shake.

"Midoriya, stop that. You can't get better in a day. You have to be aware of your own limits."

"I just don't want to disappoint All Might," Midoriya says, his lower lip wobbling slightly.

Iida feels like his heart is going to break. He decides it is his duty as class president to cheer up his sad friend. "Midoriya, that is ridiculous. You know All Might sees you as a son. I'm sure he's immensely proud of you for your efforts. He would be upset to see you overworking yourself so much. It is your job as a hero to take care of yourself. Working hard is important, but so is understanding when to take a well-deserved break."

Midoriya shoots up straight then, a feral grin curling his lips. "That's interesting, Iida. Don't you think you should take your own advice?"

It is at that moment that Iida realizes he just got played.

"You—" Iida sputters, hands dropping away from Midoriya's shoulders to flail around in shock.

"I know. It was a dirty trick. But it got you to think, didn't it? Your brother knows how amazing you are. He wouldn't have trusted you with his name if he didn't know how capable you are. You're already strong, Iida. And you're only going to get stronger and faster as you keep practicing. But you know that pushing yourself is only going to hurt you. You need to be realistic and accept your own limits. Besides, you shouldn't worry. You're going to be an amazing hero," Midoriya says firmly.

“I—”

Midoriya continues before Iida can really say anything. “You should talk to your brother. I know it’ll mean more coming from him,” he says, then breaks off to cough into his elbow.

Iida frowns, not liking the way his friend's chest is heaving. "Was it really necessary to push yourself so far in order to teach me a lesson?"

"It got my point across, didn't it? Now, I need another favor."

"I don't trust you very much at this current moment."

Midoriya waves off his feelings of betrayal and rolls his eyes. "Come on, Iida. What kind of class president would you be if you ignored a student in need?" he says, then blinks at him innocently.

Iida's frown deepens. "I suppose that's true. What favor?"

"Catch." And then Midoriya's eyes close and he drops without warning, completely unconscious.

Iida manages to grab him and sighs as he hoists his friend into his arms and starts to walk towards the dorms. The green-haired boy curls against his chest instinctively and Iida can't help the fond smile that crosses his lips.

He wonders if Midoriya understands the kind of power he has.

 

Five.

Uraraka wants to be a hero for the cash. She knows it's selfish and not at all honorable, but her parents need money and this is the way she can give it to them.

But she's still a kid in high school, meaning she can't help them as much as she would like to. Heroes-in-training don't really have time to get part-time jobs at coffee shops, so she tries to avoid asking her parents for anything. They send her money when they can, so she can buy food and clothes, but she tries her best to save it and not waste it.

She knows it's not very smart, but she's taken to skipping breakfast. After all, it saves her a few bucks every day and that adds up quickly. She can save up enough to buy new uniforms and clothes when hers get burned or ripped because of training or villain attacks.

It works perfectly fine until the class times get switched around and academics get moved to the afternoon while physical classes get put into the morning slots. She really doesn't think it's going to be a problem until she almost passes out in the middle of sparring with Iida and whoops, maybe it's a problem.

She brushes off the questions and says she merely forgot to eat that morning, but Midoriya narrows his eyes at her and she'd be lying if she said she wasn't the tiniest bit scared. After all, she's seen what he's capable of when he's worried. She grins at him and sends an enthusiastic wave his way, hoping it dissuades him from doing anything drastic.

The next few days pass by quickly and she finds herself slipping up more and more in class. First, she trips in the middle of a mobility test and falls flat on her face in front of half the class. Then, she gets too lightheaded to dodge Yaoyorozu's punch and ends up sprawled across the gym with a nice new bruise on her cheek. She groans as she stands up and waves off Aizawa's offer to excuse her.

"I'm fine," she says. "Sorry. I must have gotten distracted."

The next day, she wakes up to a knock on her door. She squints in confusion at the sight of Midoriya standing in front of her.

"Hey, Deku. What's up?"

He grins at her and shoves a plate into her hands. "I made too many pancakes this morning and I thought you might like some."

She thanks him and he disappears down the hallway, shouting over his shoulder that he'll see her later.

The pancakes are good and for the first time in a while, she doesn't get dizzy when they start training.

It becomes a pattern. Midoriya knocks on her door, makes up some excuse, and presses food into her palms. Waffles, bacon, an entire box of cereal, oatmeal, fruit, etc.

Now, Uraraka is not stupid. She knows Midoriya is doing it on purpose. She lets him because she knows he's concerned and she wants to make him happy. She figures there's no harm in it.

It's not until she wanders down to the kitchen early one morning that she realizes Midoriya is not making extra food. He is flat out giving her his own. She watches him make two waffles, then frowns as he puts the supplies away. She walks into the room and he turns to grin at her.

"Hey, Uraraka. I was just coming to find you. Here," Midoriya says, slipping a plate in front of her when she sits at the table.

"Where's yours?"

He hands her a glass of milk and squeezes her shoulder. "Oh, I already ate. I have to go meet Kacchan now, but enjoy your food! I'll see you in class."

Uraraka stares after him, frowning.

She watches him during training that day and studies his movements and expressions. It's barely noticeable, but she's looking for it, so she sees the way his legs shake slightly. He's paler than usual and gets tired more easily. She bites her lip and wonders what she can do.

It's only then that she remembers that she's not the only one with a poor family. After all, it's just Midoriya and his mom, so they already only have one income. Uraraka feels a pang of guilt settle in her chest because what kind of friend forgets something like that? She feels horrible, but she has no idea how to help him without creating a scene and upsetting her friend.

Fortunately, Midoriya is an evil genius, as several individuals have pointed out in the past, and the problem resolves itself the next day.

Aizawa shows up in the common room during movie night and stands in front of the television until the comedy is paused and the room is silent. "It has come to my attention that food is necessary for survival. The school will be supplying the class with a meal budget from here forward. Please do not waste it. I am going back to sleep now. Do not bother me unless you are actively dying. Midoriya, explain the rules to them since this was your bright idea," he says in his familiar monotone.

Midoriya blushes, but stands up anyway as the teacher leaves. "Thank you, sensei. Well, he kind of summed it up. The budget gets replaced weekly, so we'll have to assign people to do grocery trips. Aizawa said he was willing to drive people every Sunday so we can avoid the train. The cafeteria is always open, but classes start pretty early and end pretty late, so it's easier if we just make food here. It will also help us bond as a class."

Iida walks over to stand beside the green-haired boy, clapping a firm hand on his shoulder. "That's a marvelous idea! This way, we can ensure that everyone is well fed before training. Good thinking, Midoriya!"

Someone pulls out a notebook and the rest of the class starts discussing cooking and recipes and schedules, but Uraraka is too in shock to speak.

She meets Midoriya's eyes and he gives her a far too innocent smile that makes her chuckle. She's not surprised that he has somehow managed to wrap the entire UA administration around his pinky finger.

She watches as Bakugou drapes his arms around Midoriya with a look of exasperated fondness and pride and doesn't bother trying to fight the grin spreading across her face. There is not a doubt in her mind that Midoriya Izuku is going to change the world just by being in it.

 

Six.

Ojiro has always been strong. After all, his quirk essentially gives him a heavy weapon. Wielding it requires a certain amount of finesse.

However, it’s easy to get self-conscious about his appearance sometimes. There are a few others in the class that have mutant quirks, like Tokoyami and Tsuyu, but he can’t help the twinges of doubt and worry that hit him when he’s having a particularly bad day.

He settles on the couch in the common room for their weekly movie night, glancing bitterly as his tail takes up practically an entire cushion. Just as he’s about to get up and find a spot on the floor, Midoriya appears in front of him with a shy expression.

Ojiro smiles, even as something acidic tugs at his chest. “I was just about to move, Midoriya. You can have this spot.”

Midoriya’s eyes widen. “What? No, that’s not what I wanted at all. I was wondering if I could borrow your tail.” He pauses and winces. “Wait, that came out wrong. Kacchan is sleeping and it’s really cold and your tail is really warm, so I was hoping I could sit with you. Oh, that wasn’t any better, was it? I’m sorry. Forget I said anything.”

Ojiro reaches out to grab his wrist before he can leave, shaking his head. “No, it’s fine. You just surprised me. You’re more than welcome to sit here.”

“Are you sure?” Midoriya asks, twisting his fingers together nervously.

“Of course.”

Midoriya beams at him, eyes shining, and Ojiro feels a bit of his bitterness fade away. The green-haired boy sits down next to him and Ojiro lets his tail curl around Midoriya’s back, settling on the smaller boy’s lap.

With a delighted laugh, Midoriya runs his fingers along the fur. “It’s so soft and warm,” he breathes out.

Ojiro feels a spark of pride. “Yeah, I guess.”

Midoriya turns to him, grinning, and settles against his side, pressing his cheek to the blond’s shoulder. He continues to trace patterns on Ojiro’s tail, fascinated by it.

“Hey, Ojiro?”

The blond hums in acknowledgement.

“Your tail is really pretty. Did you know that?”

Ojiro freezes.

Midoriya doesn’t look at him, just leans against him a little bit more. “I mean it. Your quirk is so cool and you use it in so many versatile ways. It’s awesome to see how strong you’ve gotten. And your tail really is beautiful. I’ve noticed that you get self-conscious sometimes. So, I just wanted to tell you that you don’t have to be. I don’t have a physical quirk, so I can’t fully understand it, but I do know what it’s like to be different.”

Ojiro watches his friend, noting the way Midoriya’s hands shake slightly.  

“My quirk didn’t manifest until my last year of middle school. Everybody thought I was quirkless before that. It was hard—growing up, I mean. A lot of people treated me like I was less than them, like I didn’t matter just because I didn’t have a quirk,” Midoriya reaches down, absentmindedly tracing the scar that curls around his thigh, disappearing under his shorts.

“They hurt you,” Ojiro says, horrified.

Midoriya offers him a sad smile and shrugs. “It’s okay. That’s not the point. What I’m trying to say is, I get it. Being different is hard. But something I’ve learned since coming to UA is that it’s not the same here. People genuinely care. Being different isn’t seen as a weakness or a joke. No one here thinks that you’re less, Ojiro. We all love you. Tail and all.”

“Damn it, Midoriya. You’re gonna make me cry.”

The green-haired boy just grins and nudges his shoulder. “That’s okay. Even heroes need to cry sometimes.”

The blond smiles, ignoring the pinpricks of tears behind his eyes. “You would know.”

“I resent that accusation,” Midoriya says, but he’s still grinning.

“You weren’t really cold, were you?”

Midoriya blinks innocently, but his eyes light up with something akin to mischief. “Whatever do you mean? Are you implying that I would lie to a classmate?” He gasps in faux shock, clutching his chest dramatically.

Ojiro sighs. “I think I understand why sensei calls you problem child now.”

“I’ve learned to embrace it,” Midoriya says. “But I did mean it when I said you’re comfortable. Like a teddy bear.”

Ojiro isn’t sure whether to be offended or not. He settles for amused. “Uh, thank you?”

“Do you want me to move? I can if you want. It’s no problem.”

The blond looks down at his friend, then shakes his head. “Nah, you’re good.”

Midoriya grins—wide and open—and leans back against Ojiro’s shoulder, curling into his side and hugging his tail. Ojiro rolls his eyes in amusement, but wraps an arm around the smaller boy’s back.

“Hey, Midoriya?”

The green-haired boy looks at him curiously. “Hmm?”

“Thanks.”

Midoriya just pats his tail and turns to face the television. “You have nothing to thank me for.”

 

Seven.

He knows it's stupid. He knows that. It's why he's worked so hard to keep it a secret. After all, Kaminari can control electricity. It makes no sense that he would be afraid of lightning.

But he is. Absolutely terrified of it.

It makes no sense. If anything, he should feel at home during storms; the lightning should energize him or something, right? Except it doesn't. Instead, it sucks the life out of him until he's curled up on his bathroom floor, fingers trembling.

It's been happening since he was a kid. He can handle rain and dark clouds, but as soon as lightning starts to crack across the sky, leaving electric lines in its wake, he's helpless and completely out of commission.

Luckily, he hasn't had to deal with a storm since he came to UA, something that makes it easy to hide his fear.

Of course, his luck runs out eventually and, of course, it happens at the worst possible moment.

The entire class is gathered in the common room and some romantic comedy is playing on the television. It's Friday, which means weekly movie night is in session and unfortunately, it's Aoyama's turn to pick what they watch. The movie is overly dramatic and makes several people roll their eyes, but at least it isn't in French this time.

Small blessings, Kaminari thinks.

Halfway through the film, they have to turn the volume up to drown out the sound of rain falling on the roof. The noise is loud and continues to get louder and soon an uncomfortable feeling is settling in his stomach

He knows what's coming next, so he stands up, untangles himself from Kirishima, makes an excuse about homework, and practically sprints to his dorm.

Before he has a chance to freak out at the impending storm, there's a knock on his door—soft and tentative.

Kaminari sighs, wondering if he can ignore it and pretend he's not here. Ultimately, he decides to answer it. It's probably just Kirishima or Mina. He'll see what they want, then politely get rid of them.

That plan goes completely out the window when he opens the door and finds Midoriya staring at him with a determined look. He's seen that look. He knows that look. That's the look that convinced Aizawa to buy the entire class milkshakes after finals. That's the look that made Present Mic stay up all night watching musicals with them on a school day. That's the look that led to a schoolwide rule that the cafeteria will always serve katsudon on Thursday nights. That look is dangerous and Kaminari is terrified that he is somehow on the receiving end of it.

"Uh, hey, Midoriya," he says, valiantly trying to hide the fear in his voice.

Midoriya pushes past him and plops onto the bed, crossing his legs and watching the blond carefully. "Hello."

"Did you need something?"

"Well, you said you had some English homework to do and I know you struggle in that class, so I thought I would come help you. The tenses can be a bit tricky," Midoriya says and his smile is warm and infectious.

Kaminari blinks, confused, and then remembers his hasty excuse. Fuck. Well, he can't exactly say no. That would be rude. After all, Midoriya just wants to help him. But he can hear the rain and every drop sounds like a bomb going off and it's only a matter of time before the lightning starts.

He's about to reply when the sky cracks and he can't help the violent flinch that overtakes him as he drops to the ground, clutching his knees to his chest. This is what he was afraid of. He closes his eyes, waiting for the sound of laughter and the door slamming shut. But it never comes.

Instead, a firm hand wraps around his wrist and then warm arms surround him and he's pressed against a solid chest. He recognizes the smell of spearmint and cedar that he's always associated with Midoriya and immediately feels himself relax slightly because Midoriya is safe and strong and good.

He knows he's shaking, his body twitching from sharp tremors, but the green-haired boy just hugs him tighter until Kaminari is basically on his lap.

The lights flicker and then go out and Kaminari wants to cry because of course there would be a power outage and of course it would happen now.

"It's okay to be scared, you know," Midoriya whispers into the darkness. "It doesn't make you weak. It doesn't make you less. You're still one of the strongest people I know, Kaminari. Fear is not a weakness. It's something human. Everyone is scared of something."

"Most people aren't scared of something they can create," Kaminari replies bitterly, his fingers wrapping around his friend's shirt desperately.

Midoriya is quiet for a long moment, his thumb rubbing soothing circles on the back of the blond's neck. "I don't think that's true. Your electricity isn't the same as lightning. Your quirk is yours. You can control it and harness it and stop it. Lightning is irrational. It doesn't have an off switch and it's threatening. It makes sense to be scared of it since it's uncontrollable."

"You're really smart, Midoriya. Did you know that?" Kaminari asks because for the first time in his life, he doesn’t feel completely ashamed of his fear. He feels validated. But most importantly, he doesn't feel weak and that makes all the difference.

Midoriya chuckles and it's so familiar that Kaminari can feel the tension leaving his shoulders. "Are you okay?"

"No," Kaminari says honestly. "But you being here helps."

"Good, cause I'm not going anywhere."

"Don't you need to find Bakugou? He's probably looking for you."

Midoriya shakes his head, his hair brushing against the blond's forehead as his arms tighten slightly around his friend. "He knows where I am. Don't worry. I didn't tell him anything. But he knows I'm safe, so he'll be fine."

Kaminari can only nod in response, tucking his head under Midoriya's chin.

Light cracks across the sky again and he flinches, curling further into the green-haired boy.

"Did you know that Kacchan is scared of goats?"

Kaminari chokes, laughter getting caught in his throat between gasping breaths. "What?"

"Mhm," Midoriya continues, dragging his fingers through yellow hair softly. "He thinks they're too strange to be anything but evil. In his words, 'they clearly have malicious intentions, Deku! What kind of animal makes noises like that?' It's really quite amusing."

"I—yeah, I can see that. Goats are weird."

"Like I said, everyone is scared of something."

Kaminari yawns, his body spent from coiled nerves and tense shoulders. He always gets tired after lightning. The fear tends to run him raw, anxious energy bleeding through his pores until he passes out from exhaustion, usually curled up on the floor with his eyes squeezed shut.

Midoriya moves away and Kaminari reaches out, panic flooding his chest, but the green-haired boy just slides an arm under his legs and lifts him, pulling his friend with him when he stands. He walks them both to the bed and lifts the covers, slipping the blond on top of the sheets and pulling the comforter over him.

"Do you want me to stay?" Midoriya asks.

Kaminari nods as another flash lights up the sky through the window. He curls in on himself, hiding his face in his arms, and feels the bed dip as Midoriya wraps around him again.

"I'm sorry," Kaminari whispers, even as he's burying his face in the other's chest and clutching the hem of Midoriya's shirt between his trembling fingers.

Midoriya hums and drags his hand up and down Kaminari's spine. "You have nothing to be sorry for."

It is silent for a long time, the seconds stretching into minutes, every strike of lightning making Kaminari flinch and press even further into Midoriya.

Eventually, the lightning fades away enough for Kaminari to breathe, but he doesn't let go of Midoriya.

"I'm not leaving until you ask me to. I promise," Midoriya says.

If it was anyone else, Kaminari would take it as an empty platitude, designed to help him relax, but this is Midoriya and Midoriya doesn't lie. He keeps his promises and takes care of his friends and destroys himself to save everyone he loves. Kaminari feels his friend shift slightly into a more comfortable position, silently agreeing to stay the night, and it makes his heart squeeze in his chest.

Midoriya is safe and honest and Kaminari so desperately wants to tell him that he loves him and that he's grateful and that he is so lucky to have him in his life, but the words get stuck in his throat and he just doesn't know how.

"What are you afraid of?" he asks instead.

"Oh," Midoriya replies, his voice hesitant. "Thunder."

Kaminari freezes. "Are you okay right now?" Because with lightning comes thunder and loud explosions have been breaking the sky in half for the better part of an hour now and Midoriya hasn't even batted an eye.

Midoriya nods against his hair. "Yeah. I'm good."

But Kaminari finally recognizes the slight tremors in his friend's limbs, finally hears the nervous undertone hidden in soft words.

Sometimes, Kaminari thinks that Midoriya is too much. He's just too good and it hurts. He isn't sure what to do with this information though, so he just squeezes his friend around the waist and closes his eyes.

"I'll beat it up for you."

Midoriya laughs. "You're going to fight thunder?"

"Mhm. It doesn't stand a chance against a good shock."

It's stupid and makes no sense, but Kaminari can feel Midoriya's smile against his forehead, so he thinks it's okay.

 

Eight.

Kirishima is used to getting distracted every once in a while.

He gets lost in his own head, thinking about villains and his friends and his quirk and the math test he has next Friday, and then he forgets where he is.

Most of the time, it isn't a big deal. He eventually finds his way back to reality and moves on with his life. But, sometimes, it happens at the worst moments.

Like now, for instance.

He vaguely remembers zoning out in the middle of his evening workout. When he comes to, his hands are red and sore, the muscles tense and aching. He mutters a few choice words under his breath and makes his way back to the dorms, then collapses on the couch of the common room. His entire body aches and he is far too exhausted to make it back to his room.

"Hey, Kiri."

The redhead looks up and smiles at Midoriya's wide grin. "Hey, bro. What's up?"

The green-haired boy plops down next to him and leans against his shoulder with a groan. "I got tired of attempting to do my algebra homework. What about you?"

"I zoned out in front of a punching bag. My hands are not happy," he says, stretching his fingers absently.

Midoriya frowns. "I'm sorry. What caused it this time?"

"The usual. Just wondering how long we have until the next villain tries to destroy the entire class," Kirishima says, rubbing his nose against Midoriya's hair as the other boy sinks further into his shoulder.

"I know that feeling."

"Well, yeah. You're their favorite target, bro."

"You're awful."

"You love me."

"You're absolutely atrocious."

Kirishima laughs and leans over to pat his friend on the knee. "Love you too, bro."

Midoriya sits up suddenly with a gasp, reaching over to pull the redhead's hand towards his face. "Kiri! Why didn't you tell me it was this bad?"

Kirishima blinks. "I did? I told you I zoned out during training."

"Yes, but you didn't tell me you practically destroyed your hands. Do they hurt?"

"Little bit, yeah."

Midoriya glares at him. "Don't lie to me, Kiri."

"Okay, fine. It hurts a decent amount." Kirishima is not at all surprised when his friend huffs and rolls his eyes.

"Can I try something?"

Kirishima wants to say no, wants to drag his friend back to his shoulder and make him sleep because he recognizes the purple stains under green eyes. But Midoriya is staring at him with that wide, hopeful expression, the one that says I just want to help my friends, so the redhead nods.

Midoriya holds Kirishima's hand between his own, then kneads into the skin of his friend's palm with gentle motions and firm fingers.

Kirishima releases a breath at the immediate relief. "Where'd you learn to do that?"

Thankfully, Midoriya doesn't let go, just continues to rub into the tender parts of the redhead's hand, using his knuckles to press harder against his palm. "When I was training for the entrance exam, it was really hard on my body. I moved a lot of heavy objects and my hands did not handle it well. My mentor taught me some exercises and techniques to help ease the pain. Afterwards, I started reading some books on sports training and first-aid. I figured if I wanted to be a hero, a good way to start would be with learning how to handle injuries."

"Well, you're really good at it. That's so manly, Midoriya!" Kirishima grins when his friend's face reddens.

"Thanks, Kiri. I'm glad I can help."

They sit in silence as Midoriya works his fingers over Kirishima's thumb, pressing firmly against the stretched muscles. By the time he switches hands, the redhead is humming in satisfaction, his head falling against the back of the couch.

The green-haired boy merely smiles and continues his ministrations, focusing his attention on a particularly deep spot of tension on the other's palm.  

"Hey, Midoriya?" Kirishima asks as a thought occurs to him.

The other boy hums curiously in response to show that he's listening.

"You get injuries all the time. And I know you usually strain your back. So how do you manage to do this to yourself when you need it?"

“Oh,” Midoriya says. “I don’t. I can’t reach, so I just take some Tylenol and try to avoid overworking that area.”

Kirishima frowns. “That doesn’t sound okay.”

“It’s fine, Kiri. Don’t worry about me. I have a pretty high pain tolerance.”

And that almost makes it worse because Kirishima does know. He’s pretty sure the entire class remembers the time Midoriya saved two kids from a building collapse, only to realize later that he had a metal pipe sticking out of his side. And it wasn’t even Midoriya himself who had pointed it out. That point went to Bakugou, who promptly panicked and set off an explosion that turned the nearest tree into ashes as Iida picked up the green-haired boy and ran to the closest hospital.

“I am aware of that, Midoriya,” Kirishima says dryly, lifting his head up to send his friend a glare. “Still, you shouldn’t have to deal with that. How about you teach me how to do this and then you can come get me next time you mess up your back?”

“You really don’t have to do that, Kiri. I can handle it.” Midoriya gives him a soft smile and then focuses on massaging the redhead’s fingers again.

Kirishima sighs. “Midoriya, I want to. Besides, if you don’t teach me, I’ll just go ask Aizawa and then he’ll ask why I want to know and then I’ll be forced to tell him because you don’t want me to lie to a teacher, do you?”

Midoriya looks at him, betrayed. “That’s mean, Kiri. You know he’ll give me the look.”

“What look?”

“The dad look,” the green-haired boy says, exasperated. “The one that reeks of disappointment. Why would you do that to me? You’ll ruin all of my hard work! Do you know how close I am to convincing him that I’m no longer a problem child?”

Kirishima blinks. “Midoriya, even if you decide to give up on being a hero and become a convenience store cashier, Aizawa will still call you his problem child. It’s your title now. You can never escape it.”

Midoriya sighs and lets his head drop against the redhead’s shoulder. “Fine. I’ll teach you.”

“And?” Kirishima asks, looking at him expectantly.

“And I’ll come to you if I need help.”    

Kirishima smiles and reaches out with his free hand to ruffle Midoriya’s hair. “That’s all I ask.”

“You don’t play fair,” Midoriya says, his lips forming a pout.

The redhead just laughs and tugs his hand away from his friend’s gentle fingers to wrap his arms around the smaller boy. “You know that you suck at taking care of yourself. I’m just helping you out.”

“I’d rather take care of my friends,” Midoriya huffs.

“I know. That’s what makes you so manly,” Kirishima says and rocks back and forth slightly, the green-haired boy still in his arms. “Now, shut up and cuddle me.”

Midoriya obliges with an eyeroll and sinks against Kirishima. “You’re ridiculous. And I take care of myself just fine.”

Kirishima grins because he’s heard that argument a thousand times over and he’s well aware that it’s completely untrue. But it doesn’t matter either way because there’s an entire school of people, teachers and students alike, ready to make sure Midoriya is okay. He’s just that important.

 

Nine.

Kouda is quiet. He doesn’t talk much and he usually likes it that way. He is content to simply observe and listen, occasionally contributing to conversations that he is particularly interested in. He can talk, but he prefers to watch or, if the situation presents itself, use sign language.

It was something he picked up as a child when his parents realized he often stuttered his way through sentences due to his extreme shyness. They quickly enrolled him in classes to teach him how to sign, a decision he is still immensely grateful for.

When he wakes up one morning, he feels off somehow, like bugs are crawling along his skin. He scrubs at his arms in the shower, hoping to chase the feeling away, but it doesn’t diminish. He walks to class, his shoulders feeling heavy and his head filled with a blurriness he doesn’t understand.

He sits at lunch, squished between Shouji and Satou and follows vaguely along with the conversation, occasionally nodding or shaking his head in response.

As the day goes on, the feeling intensifies and he finds himself drowning in his emotions. He feels like he’s suffocating, discomfort seeping along his spine. It’s not until classes end that he finally realizes what the feeling is.

Insecurity.

He inwardly kicks himself. He should have known. His shyness has always been a sore spot for him, especially when it wasn’t something people easily understood. Because he wasn’t just shy. He was practically mute; his throat too clogged to be verbal most of the time. Even though he knows he’s surrounded by friends in class, he still feels like an outsider sometimes when he watches everyone else have lively conversations.

He slumps in his seat, hating himself for being different. If he wasn’t so weak, he could talk to his classmates like a normal person.

“Kouda?”

Startled, he looks up to find Midoriya standing in front of him with a warm smile that has him smiling back before he even realizes it.

“Do you mind if we talk later?” Midoriya asks, shuffling back and forth nervously.

Kouda nods, curious, but his chest burns a little at the word talk.

Midoriya seems to notice if his flinch is any indication. “Okay. Just come by my dorm after class. I’ll see you then.” He squeezes the other boy’s shoulder gently before walking away and slipping back under Bakugou’s arm with an easy grin.

Kouda stares after him and wonders what Midoriya could possibly want to talk to him for. After all, he’s nothing special. He pushes the thought away as class starts and turns all of his attention to Aizawa’s lecture.

A few hours later, he finds himself standing in front of Midoriya’s room, hesitantly knocking twice on the wooden door. It swings open and Midoriya greets him happily and ushers him inside.

“You can sit down if you’d like,” the green-haired boy says, gesturing to the bed.

Kouda perches on the edge of the mattress and watches as Midoriya drops into the desk chair, dragging it closer.

Midoriya takes a deep breath, closing his eyes for a moment, and then holds his hands up.

Are you okay? he signs.

The movements are clumsy and a little bit awkward, but Kouda understands them perfectly, his eyes lighting up in surprise and excitement. You can sign?

Midoriya blushes. Sort of. I know that talking is hard for you and I saw you signing with Present Mic a few weeks ago, so...

Kouda’s jaw goes slack. You learned sign for me?

Of course. Midoriya beams at him. It’s the least I could do. You’re my friend and you deserve to have a way to communicate if you want to. I’m not very good, but I’ve been studying as much as I can. Kacchan has been doing it with me!

Kouda blinks at that. He can’t imagine Bakugou willingly learning sign language for anyone. But then he thinks of the soft expression the explosive blond wears whenever Midoriya curls into his side and he realizes that if Midoriya was the one asking, then of course Bakugou would do it.

You’re a good friend, he signs, sending Midoriya a smile that he knows is a little bit watery.

Midoriya shakes his head. Like I said, it’s the least I can do. And I’m sure the rest of the class would love to learn how to sign as well. We could set up weekly meetings!

Kouda chuckles as the other starts to mumble excitedly, switching between sign language and verbal communication without realizing it. The thought of being able to talk to everyone with sign warms something in his chest, but at the same time—

I don’t want to be a bother.

Midoriya tilts his head to the side and studies him for a long moment before replying. You aren’t. You’re our friend. If learning sign makes it easier for you, then that’s all there is to it. Besides, knowing sign language is a great tool for heroes to have! You never know what kind of people you’ll meet.

Staring at his friend’s bright smile, Kouda can’t hold back the tears that have been forming in his eyes since Midoriya first started signing. Thank you, he manages to say before lurching forward and wrapping his arms around Midoriya’s neck.

The green-haired boy laughs into his shoulder and hugs him back just as tightly. “Do you think you could teach me some more signs? I should probably learn some medical terms,” Midoriya says sheepishly, his hands too preoccupied to sign.

Kouda nods enthusiastically as he pulls away, wiping his eyes. Of course, he replies quickly.

Hours later, when Midoriya is struggling to remember the signs for gauze and concussion, Kouda realizes that the heavy insecurity he’s been wearing all day is completely gone.

He watches Midoriya’s forehead crease in concentration and reaches over to gently correct his hand movements. Midoriya sends him a grateful look and continues to fumble through his motions until he finally gets it right and sends Kouda a triumphant grin.

Kouda smiles back easily. What do you want to learn next?

Midoriya pauses for a moment in contemplation before his eyes burn with determination. Everything, he signs.

Rolling his eyes with unrestrained affection, Kouda wonders if Midoriya knows how many people he’s saved just by being himself. He thinks of Bakugou’s tempered fury and Todoroki’s fire and shakes his head fondly. Midoriya probably has no idea. That’s just the kind of person he is.

You’re going to be a great hero, Kouda signs, laughing when Midoriya reddens and ducks his face.

 

Ten.

Satou likes to bake. He always has.

Ever since he was little, he’s found comfort in making cupcakes and cookies and a great number of pastries. Something about beating cake batter and measuring out flour is just soothing to him.

He’s never been able to explain it, but he doesn’t particularly care to try. It is what it is after all. He likes baking and that’s really all that matters.

When they move into the dorms, he spends over an hour shifting around in the kitchen, labeling cabinets and drawers and organizing the pantry and making sure that everything has a place. Thankfully, his classmates are more than willing to concede the kitchen to him, declaring him the best baker in the school and requesting various desserts as time goes on.

He gets used to leaving bags of lemon squares outside Kaminari’s dorm and slipping frosted gingerbread cookies into Uraraka’s backpack and boxing up red velvet cupcakes to give to Todoroki to share with his mother when he visits the hospital every Sunday. His favorite thing, though, would have to be the birthday sweets.

Within a few hours of moving in, Midoriya had somehow managed to make a list of everyone’s birthdays and create a calendar that now hangs proudly and vibrantly in the common room. Slowly but surely, notes had been added to each entry, scribbled into the margins, that detailed what foods and sweets people enjoy, as well as favorite colors and music selections.

Satou stares at the board now, grinning at Hagakure’s page since her birthday is next. June 16. He reads the familiar handwriting that he knows belongs to a certain green-haired powerhouse and chuckles.

Likes: glitter, cozy sweaters, knee socks, caramel

Dislikes: sour things

He nods and heads towards the kitchen, already mapping out a plan in his head. Hagakure likes caramel and, lucky for her, he knows how to make an awesome caramel crunch cake. He claps his hands together in excitement and gets out the flour.

By the time he’s finishing the batter, Midoriya has stumbled into the kitchen, arms full of wrapped gifts that he quickly deposits on the table with a huff.

Satou raises an eyebrow at him and Midoriya laughs, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Mina and the girls took Hagakure to the mall, but they’ll be back soon so it’s time to start setting up for the party,” Midoriya says, arranging the presents into a pile. “Iida is working on decorations with Todoroki and Kaminari went with Kirishima to grab the food. Did you know that Hagakure likes pineapple on her pizza?”

Satou makes a face. That just sounds wrong.

Midoriya nods. “Right? It’s weird, but I suppose we’ll forgive her since it is her birthday after all. How’s the cake coming?”

“It just needs to bake and then it’s done,” he replies with a wide smile, slipping the cake pan into the oven.

Midoriya lets out a relieved breath. “Good.”

And then there’s a crash from the living room and they both wince.

Midoriya sighs. “I guarantee that had something to do with Sero.”

Explosions sound and Satou glances towards the noise, then shrugs and turns back to the stove. He has time to make some appetizers if he hurries.

“I should probably go handle that,” Midoriya says as they listen to Sero’s shrieks, quickly followed by the sound of rapid footsteps.

Satou offers him a sympathetic look. “Good luck,” he says, even though he knows Midoriya won’t need it. After all, everyone has seen how Midoriya can calm Bakugou with a simple touch.

The party goes off without a hitch and Hagakure jumps up and down, her clothes shifting as she moves. They stay up late and even Aizawa comes down to hand the invisible girl a small gift, though he masks his visit as a noise complaint. No one believes him, but they all nod and promise to keep it down anyway.

As the party dies down a few hours later, people have started to drift. As usual, they all end up sprawled across the common room, half-asleep and filled with the blurry sort of happiness that can only come from being surrounded by friends.  

Satou looks around, smiling at the sight of Hagakure curled up on Ojiro’s lap, his tail wrapped around her waist. Kirishima and Kaminari are next to them, the redhead snoring into Kaminari’s hair. Unsurprisingly, Satou finds Midoriya tucked against Bakugou’s chest, the explosive blond’s fingers running through mossy curls.

Midoriya looks up and meets his eyes, then grins.

Satou startles, eyes widening because now he thinks he understands what Kaminari meant when he said that sometimes Midoriya’s grins were scary.

He’s not entirely sure why Midoriya is smiling at him like that, but he hesitantly smiles back and tries to ignore the sense of foreboding it brings him.

After all, the entire class is well aware of Midoriya’s powers of persuasion, but he never uses them for evil. Satou thinks of meal budgets and family days and movie nights with Aizawa and thinks yeah, it’ll be fine.

...probably.

The next few days pass by quickly, but Satou finds himself staring at the calendar with some measure of sadness. His birthday is tomorrow and he’s not entirely sure what to expect. After all, he’s the baker. He’s the one who makes the birthday cakes. He’s not expecting to be remembered, but it still makes his heart twist a little bit.

He sighs and walks into the kitchen, pulling out the brown sugar. The best way to cure sadness is with cookies—at least to him.

He goes to sleep with a full stomach, but he still feels a little bit empty inside. It makes him ache, but he isn’t sure that’s fair because he’s used to fading into the background, so his birthday should be no different.

When he wakes up, it is to a knock on his door. He stands up and stretches, then opens it, his eyes widening at the sight of Midoriya standing in front of him.

“Satou! Get dressed and meet me in the common room” is all Midoriya says before disappearing down the hall.

Satou blinks, but decides to follow Midoriya’s instructions, sure that there’s a good enough reason for it. Perhaps Midoriya wants another lesson in baking. He cringes at the memory of a pouting Midoriya covered in flour and egg whites, surrounded by smoke and the smell of burnt cookies.

He gets ready, brushing his teeth and tugging on the nearest pair of jeans as he yawns. He rubs at his eyes as he makes his way to the first floor. The hallway is dark and he briefly wonders where everyone is. As he walks into the common room, the lights are flipped on and he starts slightly, eyes widening.

“Happy Birthday, Satou!”

The loud exclamations make him jump, but he can already feel a grin spreading across his face at the sight of his classmates spread across the common room. He glances around, taking in the music and decorations and the various snacks.

Shouji and Tokoyami grab him in a three-way hug and Tsuyu shoves a plate into his hands filled with his favorite candies and chips. He stumbles forward and Uraraka drops a party hat on his head, fastening the string gently under his chin.

“There!” she says with a wide smile. “Now you look the part.”

He ends up blushing when Mina and Hagakure plant kisses on his cheeks just as Kaminari snaps a photo on his phone.

After that, it all turns into a blur as he’s passed from person to person, various greeting and hugs being tossed in his direction.

Eventually, he manages to pull away enough to study the room, chuckling under his breath at the sight of Yaoyorozu setting up a karaoke machine in the corner with Jirou’s help. He’s entirely unsurprised and finds himself looking forward to another night of Kaminari butchering Spice Girl songs. It always turns out to be quite the spectacle.

He feels someone step up next to him and already knows who it is.

“You didn’t think we’d forget your birthday, did you?” Midoriya asks, nudging him with a gentle elbow.

Satou blinks at him, too stunned to speak.

Midoriya sobers, looking at him seriously. “You know we love you, don’t you? I’m sorry that you didn’t realize that. You’re always going above and beyond to make everyone’s birthdays special and somehow we let you think that you didn’t deserve the same courtesy.”

Before Satou can reply, Bakugou appears next to them, crimson eyes flashing with amusement. “Deku, it’s ready.”

Midoriya claps his hand together excitedly and vanishes around the corner.

“Happy Birthday,” Bakugou says. “Deku made those bagel things you like. They’re on the table over there. Don’t worry. I helped him.”

Satou is ashamed to admit that Bakugou’s words make him feel relieved. It’s not that Midoriya is a bad cook per se. It’s just that he’s very enthusiastic. “Thank you, Bakugou,” he says sincerely.

Bakugou looks away, cheeks heating up. “Tch. It’s nothing. It was all Deku.”

“Still. You helped,” Satou says knowingly.

The explosive blond rolls his eyes, but his lips twitch at the corners, so Satou counts it as a win.

Midoriya walks back into the room, balancing a tray in his hands. “Cake time!” he declares, setting the tray on the nearest table and beaming at Satou.

“Nerd,” Bakugou mutters fondly.

“It’s red velvet with cream cheese frosting,” Midoriya says before rubbing the back of his neck sheepishly. “I may or may not have gotten your mom’s number from Aizawa and asked her what your favorite flavor is.”

Satou is frozen in place, taking in the cake and food and the presents piled in the corner. He inhales deeply, his chest filling with warmth, and stalks forward, wrapping his arms around Midoriya’s much smaller frame.

“Thank you,” he says quietly.

Midoriya shakes his head and pats his back. “There’s nothing to thank me for.”

And Satou knows that he means it. After all, Midoriya probably doesn’t even realize how big of an impact he’s had on various members of their class.

Satou is more than thankful that he can add himself to those numbers now.

He thinks back to Midoriya’s grin and squeezes the green-haired boy a little bit tighter. He’s lucky to have a friend like Midoriya—they all are.

“There is,” he says firmly. “This never would have happened without you and you know it. You’re the one that started this tradition.”

Midoriya frowns. “Well, that’s just not true. You’re the one that spends hours cooking and baking. Don’t be ridiculous, Satou. This isn’t about me. It’s about you, so go open your presents. You should open mine first!”

Satou sighs, but lets it go, recognizing the stubborn glint in his friend’s eyes. He wanders towards the gifts and lets Mina hand him presents until the stack is gone and he is left with fond memories and a few cuts on his fingertips from tearing the wrapping paper off a bit too aggressively.

All in all, he decides it was a successful night.

He bumps his shoulder against Midoriya’s and tries to convey his gratitude, already planning for the future. Midoriya’s birthday is less than a month away after all. He wonders how many different versions of katsudon he can make before it becomes excessive.

He shakes his head. It doesn’t matter. He’ll make as many as he can either way. If all else fails, the rest of the class can deal with leftovers for a few days.

 

Eleven.

Shouji is used to being the odd one, but not in a bad way. He’s always had friends and he isn’t shunned by any means.

Well. Not anymore.

UA is different than his middle school was. Instead of taunts and insults, he finds himself surrounded by kindness and easy affection. Instead of jokes at his expense, he laughs with Kouda and Tokoyami and doesn’t have to hide the hurt afterwards.

Things are good.

But still, he remembers cruel words—what’s with the mask, freakshow—and mocking laughter. The memories still follow him around and twist inside his lungs, making him squeeze his extra limbs around himself protectively.

He exhales heavily through his nose and rolls his shoulders back as he walks into the common room, nodding a greeting to where Uraraka and Iida are doing homework at the table. He can see Jirou and Yaoyorozu reorganizing the closet and he steers clear of them, remembering the last time someone got between Yaoyorozu and her label maker. He shudders at the thought and continues towards the gym, eager to spend a few hours training. And maybe if he’s lucky someone will show up to spar with him.

By the time he’s done with weights, the door is swinging open and Shouji turns to find Midoriya walking in with a wide smile and a towel thrown over his shoulders.

“Hey, Shouji! How are you?”

Shouji lifts his head and meets Midoriya’s eyes. “I’m good. Aren’t you supposed to be resting?”

Midoriya reddens and reaches up to rub at the back of his neck. “I convinced Aizawa to let me start training again. He says that as long as I don’t overwork myself, I’m allowed to resume my normal activities.”

“I’m glad you’re feeling better.” He’s happy to see that the cast around Midoriya’s arm is gone, replaced with a compression sleeve. “You should stop running into villains,” he teases.

The green-haired boy rolls his eyes. “It’s not like I go looking for them,” he says with a pout.

Shouji laughs. “I think we’re all aware of that by now. You’re just a magnet for trouble.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard that before. If you’re not busy, do you wanna spar?”

“Is Aizawa going to yell at me later if I say yes?”

Midoriya’s eyes narrow. “Now you’re being mean. It’ll be fine. I promise I have permission. Now, come on! I’m going stir crazy.”

Shouji decides to take pity on his friend. “Alright. Let’s go.”

They circle each other for a few seconds before Midoriya darts forward, ducking under one of Shouji’s arms and dealing a sharp blow to his shoulder. Shouji regains his footing, spinning around to level a kick towards Midoriya’s stomach.

They go back and forth for the next few minutes, dodging and attacking as they move. Eventually, they come to a stop, both breathing heavily.

Midoriya leans forward, wiping a hand across his forehead and grimacing at the sweat dripping down his temple. “Did that help?”

Shouji blinks in confusion. “What?”

“You seemed upset earlier. Did sparring help?”

And the pieces fall into place, making Shouji exhale in a sort of fond exasperation that he has gotten used to feeling whenever Midoriya is around. “Did you even plan to come to the gym today?”

“I resent your accusation.”

“That’s not an answer, Midoriya,” Shouji says, but he knows that at least two of his limbs have changed into grinning mouths.

Midoriya shrugs and takes a drink from his water bottle. “Do you want to talk about it?”

Shouji’s forehead creases as he thinks it over. He’s not used to talking about his time before UA, but he can’t deny that he wants to. Besides, if anyone will understand, he’s fairly certain Midoriya is his best option.

“Is that okay?” he asks.

Midoriya offers a warm smile and sits down, leaning against the wall. He pats the space next to him and nods. “It’s more than okay. I don’t have anything to do today, so I’m yours for as long as you need me.”

Shouji sits beside him and tilts his head back until it hits the wall. He reaches up to tug at his mask, the fabric comforting against his skin. He isn’t entirely sure where to begin, so he just starts talking, knowing that Midoriya will ask questions if he needs to.

He closes his eyes briefly, then stares at the ceiling. “People weren’t very nice at my old school. I’m not exactly the most normal looking, as I’m sure you’ve noticed. No one was shy about calling me a freakshow.”

“You’re not,” Midoriya says firmly. “It doesn’t matter how many limbs you have or why you wear a mask. You’re a person and you deserve to be treated like one. You’re good, Shouji, and anyone who says differently can go to hell.”

Shouji is startled into laughter, unused to hearing Midoriya cuss, even though he knows it’s happened before.

Midoriya’s voice doesn’t waver as he continues. “You’re my friend and I’m glad that I met you. Besides, I’m grateful for your quirk. If you didn’t have extra limbs, you could have died at the training camp. Then we never would have been able to save Tokoyami and go after Kacchan.”

“I think I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop—you know, for everything to fall apart.”

Midoriya lets out a laugh that is too dark to be humorous. “Yeah, I know the feeling. My quirk didn’t come in until right before the entrance exam. For years, everyone thought I was quirkless. Including me. So I know what you mean. Kids can be downright cruel when they want to.”

Shouji thinks back to their first year and remembers the way Midoriya would flinch away from anyone who got too close and how he always looked surprised whenever someone talked to him.

He frowns, but Midoriya is talking again before he can respond.

“I know it’s hard to forget the past. You were treated badly and that’s difficult to overcome. But it’s not like that here. There aren’t any other shoes to worry about. We’re your friends and that means that we don’t care about masks or quirks or mutations. We just care about you,” Midoriya says sincerely, bumping their shoulders together.

Shouji swallows hard, his words getting caught in his throat. He knows that Midoriya is right and he’s not surprised, but it still makes something warm settle in his chest. “You’re good too, Midoriya.”

It’s not enough to convey the gratitude he feels, but he thinks that it gets the point across anyway, judging by the beaming smile that spreads across Midoriya’s face.

“Besides,” Midoriya says, green eyes lighting up with mirth. “I like your mask. It makes you seem intriguing.”

Shouji laughs and swings an arm around Midoriya’s shoulders. “I’m glad you came to the gym today.”

“Me too,” Midoriya replies, grinning.

They part ways after that and Shouji spends the rest of the day with Kouda and Tokoyami, doing homework and watching old black and white films.

A few days later, he wakes up to his alarm going off, reminding him that he has class soon. He stands up and gets ready quickly, pulling on his uniform and stuffing his notebooks into his backpack. As he leaves, he nearly trips on a box outside his door.

The box is fairly light and he picks it up, taking it inside his dorm room and opening it curiously. Inside are several face masks, like his own. Each one is a different pattern and he counts them as he goes through them all. There are nearly a dozen different masks and he can tell that they’re handmade by the soft material and careful stitching.

He holds a vibrant blue one in his hands, the fabric warm against his skin, and ties it around his face, setting the old mask on his mattress.

He gently tucks the other masks in his desk, then reaches for the note at the bottom of the box.

I thought you might like to change it up sometimes. That makes it even more intriguing.

He recognizes Midoriya’s handwriting immediately and feels several of his limbs subconsciously transform into mouths that beam at the note.

And when he walks into class and meets Midoriya’s eyes, the green-haired boy’s smile makes him chuckle affectionately.

He’s not sure how he ended up with classmates like Midoriya, but he thinks it’s definitely an improvement from middle school.

 

Twelve.

“You ready, kid?”

Jirou looks up at Death Arms and inhales deeply before nodding. “I am.”

She places her hands against the wall in front of her, her ear jacks extending and digging into the plaster. Her eyes slip shut and she focuses on listening, trying to pinpoint the exact location of the villains they’ve been after for weeks.

They’re known as Cyclone and BioShock, both with quirks of an elemental nature. So far, they’ve stayed out of the limelight, focusing on underground villainy, included kidnapping and human trafficking.

Unfortunately, it’s clear that both villains are paranoid about being caught—as shown by the bodies they leave behind whenever the heroes get too close. Four dead so far.

A sound echoes and Jirou points, her eyes snapping open. “That way. The girl is over there.”

It’s all a blur after that and her head is filled with pounding footsteps and slamming doors and hysterical laughter. She stays where she is, occasionally shouting directions into her headset as Death Arms and a number of other pros chase down the villains. She can still hear the girl screaming before another hero that she doesn’t know is there, whispering comforting words.

Hours later, she collapses into a chair at the agency, rubbing her temples in an effort to ease the migraine that she can feel getting stronger.

“They escaped again,” she says as Death Arms crouches in front of her.

The hero nods, lips pressed together in a thin line. “But we found the girl. She’s alive and the doctors say she’ll pull through. Without you, we never would have found her in time. You did good, kid.”

Jirou nods and forces a smile that feels entirely too fake.  

“We’re bringing in another pro,” Death Arms says after a long moment.

“Which one?”

“Eraserhead. His underground work could be really helpful in apprehending these particular villains. He’s working with a few of your classmates this time around and the extra manpower will be helpful.”

Jirou sighs. “He’s going to break something.”

Death Arms stares at her in confusion. “Who? Eraserhead?”

She shakes her head. “No. Midoriya. He’s going to end up with at least one broken limb. I predict his leg. On the bright side though, you’ll definitely catch the villains if he’s around.”

“I don’t understand.”

She purses her lips and gives him a pitying look. “You’ve never worked with Midoriya, have you?” When he shakes his head, she lets out another sigh. “He’s a villain magnet. All you have to do is put him outside and he’ll attract any nearby criminals. It’s actually kind of impressive.”

Death Arms blinks at her as if he’s trying to process her words.

Jirou thinks for a moment, then shrugs. “On second thought, it should be fine. I think sensei finally convinced him to carry around a panic button. And Bakugou is with him since they’re together for their internship.” She nods, more confidently this time. “Yeah, he’ll be fine.”

“You lost me again,” Death Arms says.

“Midoriya and Bakugou are partners since they’re both working on stealth and quirkless combat with Aizawa. And no villain is stupid enough to go after Midoriya right in front of Bakugou. That’s practically suicide,” Jirou informs him helpfully.

Death Arms can only nod in response, his eyes wide.

Jirou admits to herself, however, that she’s glad Midoriya’s joining the case. He’s the smartest person she knows, so if anyone can figure out the location of the villains, it’s him.

Two days later, she finds herself sitting in a too hard chair lamenting her life because yes, they got the villains, but apparently these particular villains were stupid enough to go after Midoriya even with Bakugou around.

It only took three hours of Midoriya analyzing the crime scenes for a pattern to emerge, one that quickly led to a task force storming the operation. Unfortunately for everyone involved, the villains did not go down easy and managed to take Midoriya down with them when they finally did.

She hears footsteps and then Death Arms is kneeling in front of her, the position quickly becoming familiar.

“He’s going to be fine. He’ll have a nasty scar on his chest, but nothing vital was hit and they’ve already replenished the blood loss. Bakugou is back with him at the moment,” the hero says, his voice steady.

Jirou lets out a heavy breath before her brow furrows in concern. “Is he gonna get in trouble for excessive force?”  

“Who? Bakugou?”

She nods, remembering the fierce explosions that had continued even after BioShock, the villain who had thrown the knife, was unconscious.

Death Arms chuckles and shakes his head. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. All I saw was a provisional hero taking down a very uncooperative criminal.”

Jirou grins and wipes at the corners of her eyes.

“Now, come on. I’ll take you back to Midoriya’s room.”

She lets her mentor help her up and follows him through the hospital as he leads the way down various hallways. Eventually they reach Room 116 and Death Arms pushes her forward with an encouraging grin.

She steps inside, the door shutting behind her. Midoriya is lying on the bed, looking pale and tired, but he smiles warmly at her when she enters. Bakugou sits in the chair beside his boyfriend, his fingers tangled with Midoriya’s and lines of concern etched into his forehead.

The blond twists to look at her, raising an eyebrow before turning back to Midoriya. He stands up, leaning down to press his lips to the green-haired boy’s temple in an affectionate gesture that briefly surprises her. “I’m gonna grab a coffee. Take care of him, Ears.”

She nods and Bakugou smirks at her, bumping their shoulders together lightly as he exits the room.

Midoriya stares at her, then gestures to the newly vacated chair. “Come here.”

She shuffles forward and drops into the seat as the guilt that she’s been holding back settles over her like a heavy blanket. “I’m sorry.”

“Why are you apologizing?” he asks, tilting his head to the side in confusion.

“If I had been better, we would have caught the villains earlier. Then we wouldn’t have called in Eraserhead’s agency and you wouldn’t have gotten hurt.”

Midoriya frowns and pushes himself up into a sitting position with a small grimace. “That’s dumb. None of that was your fault.”

“It was,” she argues back, her gaze dropping to the gauze that she can see peeking out from under his shirt. She winces and looks away. “If my quirk was stronger, I could have found them earlier and BioShock would have been in jail and unable to stab you!”

She knows she’s getting hysterical, her voice rising and her eyes starting to water.

A warm hand settles over her shaking ones as they rest in her lap and she meets Midoriya’s eyes.

“Jirou,” he says quietly, firmly. “It’s not your fault.”

“But—”

He shakes his head, cutting her off without hesitation. “No. You did everything right. You saved a girl’s life and we got the villains in the end. All because of you. We couldn’t have done this without you, Jirou. You did good. And I got hurt, yes. But I’m fine. I’m more than fine. We won and the bad guys lost.” He squeezes her hands, his thumbs moving soothingly over her knuckles.

Jirou closes her eyes as his words sink in. “I—” she breaks off, unsure of what to say.

“And I know it probably doesn’t mean much, but for what it’s worth, I’m proud of you,” Midoriya adds, features softening.

She freezes, a manic laugh bubbling out of her chest before she bursts into tears, her vision blurring. Gentle fingers wrap around her wrists and pull her forward until she’s crawling onto the bed and collapsing against Midoriya’s shoulder, sobbing into his shirt.

“Hey,” he whispers, running a hand up and down her back. “It’s okay. Everyone is alright. We did it, Jirou. We won.”

She buries her face in his neck and finds herself smiling through her tears. “Yeah. We did.”

They stay like that for a while—until her leg starts to cramp from the position and the door swings open.

Bakugou takes one look at them and rolls his eyes. “I leave you two alone for one minute and you both turn into crybabies.”

But the way he says it lacks any malice and Jirou thinks she can detect a hint of fondness hidden in his tone, so she just beams at him as he drops into the chair and curls his fingers around Midoriya’s ankle.

Midoriya grins and his arms tighten around her as she shifts just enough to get comfortable.

“Thanks, Midoriya,” she says quietly.

His nose presses against her hair as he shakes his head. “There’s nothing to thank me for. I meant everything I said. You’re going to be a great hero.”

Jirou can tell she’s about to cry again, so she ducks her head to hide her face. She can hear Bakugou complaining about the hospital coffee and focuses on the rumbling of Midoriya’s chest under her ear as he laughs in response.

His heartbeat is steady and she feels her guilt fade away a little bit more with each beat. She smiles as the couple dissolves into an affectionate kind of bickering and decides that Midoriya is right.

Sure, things didn’t turn out exactly the way they wanted them to, but they won in the end and everyone is okay, so that’s really all that matters.

 

Thirteen.

Sero has never been good with academics. He takes notes and pays attention in class, but it always seems like he’s unable to retain the information. Not to mention, his thoughts end up drifting at least a few times every class no matter what he does.

He sighs as he stares at the test in front of him, the circled red numbers at the top of the page taunting him.

64 out of 100.

He bites his lip, then shoves the test into his backpack and focuses on Ectoplasm. The man stands at the front of the classroom, teaching them about how to find the area of a triangle.

As time goes on, his shoulders slump lower and lower, his thoughts drifting once again to the 64. He’s not stupid—he knows that—but sometimes he thinks he might be mistaken. After all, smart people don’t continuously get failing grades.

When Ectoplasm dismisses the class, he doesn’t even notice, too caught up in his head. Mina nudges him, head tilted in concern, and he forces a smile.

“Sorry,” he says, fingers tapping against his knee. “I guess I just got distracted.”

She hums, unconvinced, but drops the subject. “Silly boy. Are you coming to lunch?”

Sero frowns, glancing at his backpack, then shakes his head. “I’m gonna head to my dorm. I’m not feeling well.”

“Oh,” Mina says, pursing her lips. “Alright. Text me if you need anything.”

He nods and she pats his hand before linking arms with Hagakure and striding out of the room.

Dragging a hand down his face, he stands up and lifts his bag onto his shoulder. He manages to avoid anyone else on the way to the dorms and he’s grateful for the silence.

He steps inside his room and kicks the door shut, collapsing onto the bed with a groan. He understands that he needs to get better grades, but he isn’t quite sure what to do about it. He’s tried getting Iida and Yaoyorozu to tutor him, but everything went in one ear and right out the other. He’s spent hours poring over the textbook and he’ll be sure that he know what to do, but as soon as he puts the pen to paper, he gets jumbled and confused messes everything up. He even tried joining Bakugou’s study group, but that just resulted in a headache from all the yelling.

Reaching for his backpack, he pulls out the test and stares at the grade, his throat tightening as his eyes trail over the various corrections marked in red all over the page.

There’s a soft knock on the door and he wonders if it’s Mina coming to check on him. Knowing her though, she would have already stormed inside, so he figures it’s someone else.

He swings it open, eyes widening in surprise at the sight of Midoriya standing in front of him.

“Oh, hey. What’s up?” he says, trying to sound casual.

Judging by Midoriya’s raised eyebrow, he guesses that he wasn’t entirely successful.

“I was hoping I could ask you a question,” Midoriya says, rocking back and forth on his heels.

Sero blinks. “Uh, yeah? I guess?”

“Great!” Midoriya beams at him and steps inside, pulling out a notebook and dropping down into the desk chair. “Can you solve this for me?” He points at the equation written on the page and Sero’s heart drops to his stomach.

“I’m not very good at math,” he says, rubbing at the back of his neck as his cheeks redden.

“Sero.”

When he looks up, Midoriya is staring at him, expression firm and unwavering.

“It’s not a trick. I have a reason for this, I promise. Can you trust me?” Midoriya’s voice is steady and sure, the complete opposite of Sero’s feelings.

But the thing is, trust has never been a question for him. Not when it comes to Midoriya. He’s seen how people flock to the green-haired boy, taking comfort in his endless strength and determination.

He lets out a heavy breath of air and leans over the desk, picking up a pencil and starting the process of solving the equation that Midoriya had pointed out. It’s long and tedious and he gets turned around more than once, but eventually he finishes and circles his answer.

“Did you know that you mumble when you work? You kind of mutter numbers and what steps you’re taking,” Midoriya says, watching him carefully.

Sero shakes his head, confused.

“Well, that’s not important. The point is, I noticed you have a hard time with math, so I started listening to you when you were doing homework,” Midoriya continues. “After a while, I noticed a pattern. Have you ever heard of dyscalculia?”

“No?”

Midoriya taps his knuckles against the desk, nodding. “I figured. It’s essentially dyslexia, but with numbers. I think you might have it. When you were working, you mixed up a lot of the numbers and had a hard time starting with the correct values. I think you should get tested for it.”

Sero’s head spins as he tries to take in all of the information that Midoriya is throwing at him.

“Sorry,” Midoriya says, wincing. “I guess that was overwhelming. You don’t have to, of course. I just thought you might want to know that it was a possibility.”

“You really think I could have it?” Sero asks.

Midoriya nods. “I do.”

“Okay,” he says, exhaling deeply. “I’ll take the test.”

“Great!” Midoriya says, brightening. “Do you want me to come with you to talk to Aizawa?”

Sero thinks about that for a minute. He would be lying if he says he isn’t nervous about the idea, so he nods. “Would you?”

“Of course.”

Before he knows what’s happening, Midoriya’s fingers are wrapped around his arm and he’s being tugged out of the room.

Sero chuckles and lets himself be pulled along. Midoriya’s enthusiasm is almost contagious and he feels something warm settle in the chest at the possibility that his grades aren’t entirely his fault.

He tries his best—he knows he does—so it makes sense that they’re might be something else at play. Shaking himself out of his thoughts, he bites his lip and reminds himself not to get his hopes up. It could be nothing, after all.

When they barge into the teacher’s lounge, Sero is expecting to get yelled at, but Aizawa just looks at Midoriya and lets out a long, deep sigh.

“Problem child,” their teacher says dryly.

Midoriya grins. “Sensei.”

Sero waves awkwardly, peeking out from behind Midoriya’s shoulder.

“I think Sero might have dyscalculia and possibly ADHD. Can you set up something so he can get tested or do we need to talk to someone else?” Midoriya asks.

Aizawa blinks at them for a long, drawn-out moment before leaning back in his chair and covering his eyes with his hand as his shoulders start to shake.

At first, Sero is concerned, mentally freaking out because oh shit we made our teacher cry, but then he hears sounds coming from Aizawa’s mouth. He frowns. “Is he laughing?”

Midoriya brushes him off, rolling his eyes. “You get used to it.” He raises an eyebrow in Aizawa’s direction. “Sensei?”

“I’m an idiot,” Aizawa chokes out through his laughter, clutching at his chest.

Sero’s eyes widen as his jaw drops. “Oh my god. We broke him,” he whispers in horror.

“We didn’t break him, Sero. Don’t be ridiculous. Sensei, you’re scaring Sero,” Midoriya says.

Aizawa wipes at his eyes, then pats his sternum as he regains his composure. “Ah, yes. I think you may be onto something, problem child. I’ll get everything settled.”

Midoriya beams at the man, then turns excitedly to Sero, clutching at his arm. “See? It’ll all work out. Don’t worry.”

Sero nods dumbly, unsure of how to respond to the entire situation. He manages a hasty goodbye to Midoriya and his teacher and makes his way back to his dorm, mind still in overdrive.

The rest of the week passes in a hazy sort of blur and then Aizawa is leading him to a conference room near the teacher’s lounge after class. He sits at a table with Hound Dog and answers a bunch of questions about his learning styles and study habits, then starts to complete the math worksheet handed to him, making sure to illustrate his entire process.

An hour or so later, he’s escorted back to his dorm and Aizawa promises to deliver the results as soon as they’re in.

He sits on his bed, uncertain of his own expectations. Part of him is terrified that Midoriya was wrong and that he really is just stupid. But a bigger part of him is hoping against hope that Midoriya was right. His knees knock together in an attempt to get out his excess energy, but it doesn’t really work.

There’s a knock on the door and he shoots up, glancing at the clock. He’s surprised to find that over an hour has passed and he jumps to his feet, rushing to throw the door open.

Aizawa raises an eyebrow at his frenzied appearance. “I’m here to discuss your results.”

“Okay?”

“They were conclusive. You do have dyscalculia, as well as a moderate form of ADHD. Now, you have several options. I’ve set up a meeting with Hound Dog to get you sorted.”

Sero learns a lot of things that day. He learns that there’s medication to help with his attention issues, as well as tests to help him figure out which learning style is the most effective for him. He tries a few different ones with Hound Dog and soon discovers that multisensory techniques help him understand the material better. He gets set up with a tutor three times a week and sits with Aizawa while the rest of his teachers are informed.

Once it’s all over, he walks back to his dorm, shoulders feeling lighter than they have in months. For the first time in a while, he feels like he can do it. Sure, he has it harder than a lot of other kids, but he has the tools he needs to succeeds.

He sees a flash of green out of the corner of his eyes and spins around, mouth splitting into a wide grin.

“Midoriya!”

The boy in question turns towards him curiously before breaking out into a smile. “Hey, Sero! How’d it go?”

“You were right. About everything,” Sero says, twisting his fingers together. “We set up a plan today.”

“How are you feeling? I bet it’s a little crazy, huh?” Midoriya asks sympathetically.

Sero nods. “Oh, yeah. I kind of feel like I’m in some weird dream sequence. But it’s good. It’s really good.”

“That makes sense. It’s a lot to take in at once. But I believe in you. You’re smart and you can handle anything.”

Chuckling, Sero tosses an arm around Midoriya’s shoulders and ruffles his hair. “Thanks. I never would have figured any of this out without your help. It means a lot. How’d you know anyway?”

Midoriya gives him a small smile that seems a little bit sad at the edges. “My middle school wasn’t very good at catering to the kids that weren’t normal.” He puts the last word in air quotes, features turning bitter before smoothing out again. “I didn’t fall into that category. I’ve got ADD. I had to figure it out on my own and in the process I learned a lot about other disabilities and stuff.”

“Oh. I’m sorry.” Sero squeezes Midoriya a little bit tighter, wondering not for the first time what his friend’s life was like before UA. Because some of the stuff Midoriya says makes it seem like it wasn’t that great.

“It’s not your fault. And I’m glad that it happened because it taught me what I needed to help you,” Midoriya says, grinning up at him.

Sero chuckles and shakes his head.

Sure, they’re all training to be heroes, but he thinks that Midoriya has already been one for a long time.

 

Fourteen.

It's getting dark outside, but training is still going on, the class broken into teams and scattered across the courtyard. Ever since the disaster at the training camp, everyone has been on edge, pushing past limits in an effort to become stronger.

Tokoyami is no exception. He can still feel the raw terror coursing through his veins when Dark Shadow engulfed him during camp. He was completely stuck and could only watch in horror as Shouji and Midoriya were hunted by his quirk. He quickly decided that he did not enjoy the feeling of being helpless, especially to something he is supposed to be in charge of. His quirk is a part of him, so he should be able to reign it in.

Training is hard, but it’s worth it because he needs to be able to handle Dark Shadow. The alternative is no longer an option, especially after he witnessed firsthand the kind of lethality his quirk could possess.

Tokoyami feels Dark Shadow pull away from him as night settles over them and he grits his teeth together in frustration. He can feel his control slipping away and it's terrifying and infuriating at the same time. He knows that it's not dark enough for his quirk to go completely haywire, but this fact does nothing to stop his annoyance. He's sparring with Midoriya, one of the strongest people in the class, and he would really like to avoid maiming him because he still hasn't learned to control his quirk.

Not to mention, he genuinely considers Midoriya to be a friend. Ever since the Sports Festival, he has deeply respected and admired him.

The green-haired boy is currently staring at him with an unreadable expression as they take a break in between sparring sessions and Tokoyami isn't sure what he's thinking. Midoriya has been quiet for the last few minutes and it's a bit unnerving if he's being honest. He's become accustomed to the other's constant mutterings and mumblings under his breath.

Midoriya suddenly turns to yell across the field. "Hey, Uraraka, can we switch spots? There are more objects for you to float over here and Iida will have more room to run around."

Uraraka laughs. "Thanks, Deku. Sure, we can switch."

"Of course, Midoriya! We appreciate you thinking of us. Thank you for the suggestion," Iida says earnestly, barely avoiding Uraraka's head as he waves his arms around excitedly.

Midoriya chuckles and lightly grips Tokoyami's wrist, tugging the boy after him.

Tokoyami is about to ask for his reasoning when he realizes that Uraraka and Iida's old spot is right under a light post.

Oh.

"You didn't have to do that," Tokoyami says, even as he feels a surge of gratitude.

Midoriya looks at him, eyes bright and mischievous. "Do what? I'm just trying to help my teammates improve."

And for the first time in his life, Tokoyami has to resist the urge to hug someone.

He does not succeed.

He thinks that’s the end of it, but finds himself mistaken the next morning when there’s a knock on his door. Midoriya stands there, rocking back and forth on his heels.

“Hello, Midoriya. Can I help you?” Tokoyami asks, tilting his head to the side curiously.

The other boy smiles at him in greeting. “I was hoping we could talk.”

“Oh, yes, of course. Come in.”

They both sit on the bed, cross-legged and facing each other.

Midoriya taps his fingers against the mattress and stares at him. “You don’t trust yourself anymore,” he says bluntly.

Tokoyami winces at his words, but nods uncertainly as he picks at a loose thread on his comforter. “Training camp enlightened me to things I had not previously considered.”

“You’re wrong.”

“I don’t know what—” Tokoyami starts, but is almost immediately interrupted.

Midoriya shakes his head. “You’re strong enough to control your quirk, Tokoyami. You’re powerful and intelligent. You had just never been in a situation like that before. It has nothing to do with trusting yourself. We were surrounded by villains with no warning and nobody really knew what was going on. You didn’t do anything wrong. Anyone could have lost control under the circumstances. It’s okay.”

“No, it’s not!” Tokoyami explodes, hands balled into fists. “I tried to hurt Shouji. I tried to hurt you!”

“But you didn’t,” Midoriya says softly. “You saved us and you saved Todoroki and Kacchan from that villain with the teeth. We never would have survived without you. You don’t have to be scared of yourself or your quirk. You’re strong enough to control it. You just have to trust yourself.”

Tokoyami stays silent, torn between his own insecurity and the unwavering faith in Midoriya’s voice.

“Have you tried training with Dark Shadow at night since the camp?”

He shakes his head mutely.

Midoriya offers him an understanding smile. “That’s what I thought. I have an idea that I’d like you to consider.”

Tokoyami gestures for the green-haired boy to continue.

“Kacchan and I spar every night. Aizawa gave me a key to the gym so we wouldn’t end up destroying the common room again. You’re welcome to join us. We can turn the lights off and help you practice with your quirk. And if something goes wrong, Kacchan can use his explosions to help settle Dark Shadow,” Midoriya says.

It’s a good plan, Tokoyami has to admit. But part of him is still terrified of hurting Midoriya and Bakugou. He hesitates.

As if reading his mind, Midoriya reaches forward and sets a hand on his knee, squeezing gently. “You won’t hurt us,” he says quietly.

Tokoyami swallows, then nods tentatively. “Okay. I’ll do it.”

Midoriya beams at him and Tokoyami is suddenly hit with the urge to look away.

“So bright,” he mutters under his breath, low enough that Midoriya can’t hear him.

 

Fifteen.

Todoroki frowns, his fingertips tracing over the scar that covers half of his face. He can barely feel his own touch, his nerves too damaged to really do anything, even after all these years.

He stares at his reflection, his mouth twisting into a scowl as his gaze locks on the burn. He thinks of his mother, trapped in a hospital that she doesn’t belong in—alone and still haunted by her husband’s cruel eyes and fiery hands.

His scowl deepens.

Clutching the countertop, his fingers tighten around the surface hard enough to turn his knuckles white. Before he realizes it, he’s moving and his right hand is shooting forward, covering the entire mirror in a thick layer of ice.

His chest heaves and he absently takes a step back, staring at the frozen glass in horror.

“Damn it,” he mutters to himself.

He clenches his fists and storms out of the bathroom, collapsing on his bed and burying his face in his palms as his shoulders start to shake. Angry tears gather at the corner of his eyes and he’s too overwhelmed to brush them away.

He’s training to be a hero, but what kind of hero can’t even save his own family? He thinks of his mom in a hospital bed and Fuyumi’s fragile smile and Natsuo’s cold fury and god only knows what happened to Touya.

Someone knocks on his door and he wipes at his face, forcing his emotions back as he stands up. But when he opens it, no one is there. He frowns and goes to turn back inside, but something white catches his attention out of the corner of his eyes.

It’s a folded up piece of paper, left on the floor right in front of his dorm. Leaning down, he picks it up and stares at it curiously. When he unfolds it, the only thing he finds is an address with a time and tomorrow’s date written in a familiar scrawl.

Midoriya?

He tilts his head to the side, confused, but sets an alarm, already knowing that he’ll be there. After all, it’s Midoriya—the person who broke his own bones to make a point.

Todoroki shakes his head, a fond smile crossing his lips at the memory. He stills feel guilty about the scars that run along Midoriya’s arms, but he knows that the green-haired boy doesn’t blame him in the slightest—something he’s grateful for.

He can hear his friend’s voice in his head.

You feel better now, right? So it was worth it. I don’t regret it, Todoroki. Being a hero means helping people, even if it hurts.

He falls back onto his bed, the mattress bending under his weight. His thoughts are full of memories that he’s spent years trying to forget—boiling water scalding his skin, his mother’s haunted eyes, bruised knees from being flung too hard against the training mats.

It takes him hours to fall asleep and when he wakes up the next morning, he feels a familiar exhaustion settling over his shoulders. He turns off his alarm and rubs at his eyes, the skin underneath tender to the touch.

He sighs, already knowing what he’ll find if he looks in the mirror. Dark bags under bloodshot eyes, lines crisscrossing his forehead, tension in his jaw. His suspicions are confirmed as he walks into the bathroom to brush his teeth.

Thankfully, the ice from last night is gone, though the mirror is cracked slightly from the pressure. Todoroki drops his head.

“Lovely,” he whispers, making a mental note to talk to Aizawa about a replacement—preferably one made of stronger glass.

He tugs on a pair of jeans and shoves a sweatshirt over his head, barely remembering to grab his keycard from the desk before he slips out into the hallway.  

He plugs the address from the paper into his phone and finds that it’s only about ten minutes from the campus. A quick train ride later, Todoroki is stepping onto the sidewalk and glancing around.

“Todoroki!”

Turning, he finds Midoriya running towards him. He waves a hand in greeting. “Hey.”

“I’m glad you’re here. I was worried it’d be hard to find, but it looks like it worked out,” Midoriya says, adjusting the bags in his arms.

“Speaking of here, where exactly are we?” Todoroki asks, looking at the large building in front of them.

Midoriya’s grin widens. “We’ll get to that. First, I want to talk to you.”

Todoroki cocks his head. “About what?”

“Are you okay? You’ve seemed a little bit off these past few days.”

His chest tightens, but this is Midoriya, so he lets out a bitter laugh. “Yeah, I just—I really miss my mom sometimes. The hospital is too far away for me to see her as much as I want to. And we’re a lot busier now, so...” he trails off, rubbing at the back of his neck absently.

Midoriya nods understandingly. “I may have a solution to that.”

“What?” Todoroki raises an eyebrow, staring at the green-haired boy in confusion.

“Do you know what this place is?” Midoriya asks instead of clarifying, gesturing to the building.

Todoroki looks at it and shakes his head.

“I figured. It’s an apartment complex. The one where my mom lives actually.”

“I don’t understand. Why are we here?”

Midoriya smiles. “Did you know that your mom’s favorite color is blue?”

Todoroki blinks. “I—um, no?”

“Here,” the other boy says, handing him the bags. “I’m sure she’d appreciate the help painting.”

“Midoriya,” Todoroki says, his heart in his throat. “What are you saying?”

Midoriya laughs softly. “I’m saying you should go give your mother a hug.”

Todoroki inhales sharply as he turns back to the apartment building. His mother is standing there, eyes sparkling with tears.

“Shouto,” she whispers, hand to her chest.

Todoroki sets the bags down and rushes forward, wrapping his arms around her waist and burying his face in her shoulder. “Mom.”

She hugs him back just as tightly, one hand stroking his hair. “I’ve missed you.”

“Me too,” he says, clutching the back of her sweater. She smells like home—like green tea and fresh laundry—and he breathes it in, his eyes watering at the familiarity of it all. “I’m sorry.”

“For what, Shouto?” She pulls away, cupping his cheeks and wiping the tears from his face. “You haven’t done anything wrong.”

Todoroki presses his lips together and leans into her touch. “I haven’t been visiting you as much.”

“Oh, sweetheart, it’s okay. You’re busy. I understand that. You’re training to be a hero. I’m so proud of you,” she says, warmth radiating from her expression.

“I don’t—how are you here?”

His mother smiles and nods her head towards Midoriya. “I think you should ask your friend about that.”

Todoroki’s mouth drops as she steps back and lifts the discarded bags of paint into her arms.

“I’ll be in the apartment. It’s number 203. I’ll see you when you’re finished,” she tells him. She presses a kiss to his forehead and then disappears inside the building.

He stares after her, stunned, before spinning around to face Midoriya. “What did you do?”

Midoriya laughs. “I pulled a few strings. Aizawa helped me.”

“But my father—”

“He signed the papers for her release. He’s no longer in charge of her anymore. She’s free.”

Todoroki frowns. “He would never do that willingly.”

Midoriya makes a face. “There may have been some light blackmail involved.”

“You blackmailed the number one hero?”

“It was for a good cause,” Midoriya says, shrugging.

Todoroki stares at him for a long moment, then lets out a breathless laugh. “You’re something else, Midoriya.”

“I get that a lot.”

“I know it’s not enough, but thank you. Seriously, Midoriya. This means everything to me. I still have no idea how you managed it, but I’ll never be able to repay you.”

Midoriya shakes his head. “There’s nothing to thank me for. It was the right thing to do.”

Todoroki has never been a very affectionate person. But he can’t think of any words to convey his emotions, so he surges forward and wraps his arms around Midoriya’s neck. “I’m saying it anyway.”

Midoriya stands frozen, before grinning and squeezing his friend around the waist. “Okay.”

Finally, Todoroki pulls away, discretely wiping his eyes with his sleeve. “You’re a good friend.”

“Ah, I’m glad you think so,” Midoriya says, ducking his head as his face heats up. “You should go. Your mom is waiting on you.”

“Yeah, I guess she is.” He watches Midoriya walk away, completely unsurprised when he sees a familiar blond head fall into step beside his friend.

Laughing to himself, he heads into the apartment complex, a wave of happiness rushing through him as he finds Fuyumi and Natsuo already in the hallway.

Hours later, it still feels unreal—like he’ll wake up and the entire experience will have been some wishful dream. But then his mom is settling next to him on a brand new couch and pressing a mug of tea into his hands.

“Mom?”

She hums in response, draping a blanket across their laps.

“I’m really glad you’re here.”

She smiles softly at him, and curls her arm around his shoulders, bringing him closer. “Me too, sweetheart. Me too.”

Fuyumi leans her head against Natsuo’s shoulder, her eyes sparkling. “Your friend is something else, isn’t he?”

Todoroki chuckles as he remembers his own words a few hours earlier. “Yeah. He really is.”

There are paint stains on his jeans that he’s sure won’t come out in the wash and he has no idea what happened to his keycard, but he’s tucked against his mother’s side and his siblings are smiling for the first time in ages and it’s perfect.

 

Sixteen.

Hagakure bites her lip as she sits on the floor in the common room, back against the wall. She fiddles with the sleeves of her sweatshirt and watches as her classmates pass by, never noticing her.

It’s not something that surprises her—after all, she’s invisible. She’s used to being ignored by now. But it still makes her chest tighten every time it happens.

“Hey, Hagakure.”

She looks up in shock. “Midoriya?”

The green-haired boy smiles at her and drops to a crouch in front of her. “Are you okay? Why are you sitting out here all alone?”

“Oh.” She hangs her head before grinning up at him, even though she knows he can’t see it. “Yeah, I’m fine,” she says, trying to inject as much cheeriness into her voice as she can.

Midoriya frowns. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” she asks, confused.

“Smile if you don’t mean it.”

Her eyes widen. “How can you tell I’m smiling?”

Midoriya’s voice is matter-of-fact when he speaks. “You always lift your shoulders and tilt your head when you smile.”

“Oh. I can’t believe you noticed that,” she whispers.

“Ah. Is that why you’re sad?”

She feels her face heat up and looks away, teeth digging into her lip once again.

A warm hand settles on her knee and squeezes gently. “Hagakure, you’re allowed to be upset. Just because you’re invisible doesn’t mean people shouldn’t see you. You’re important, invisibility or not.”

“I just—I know it’s not their fault, but sometimes I feel so alone. Like no one cares or notices me.”

“That’s not true. We all love you. Don’t you remember your birthday?”

She smiles at the memory and thinks of the gifts sprawled across her dorm room—the glitter pens from Mina, the scrapbook from Tsuyu and Uraraka, the sweaters from Yaomomo, and the fuzzy socks from Kirishima. There’s too many to name and she laughs to herself. “That was a good day.”

“Yeah, it was. And it was all about you. We knew what kind of cake you wanted and what flavor soda because we know you. I don’t know what it’s like to be invisible, but I can imagine that it isn’t always easy.” He pauses as his eyes light up. “Wait here. I’ll be right back.”

Hagakure watches him go, unsure of what he plans to do. She giggles as she leans her head back against the wall.

A few minutes later, Midoriya rushes back into the room, something hidden behind his back.

She raises an eyebrow. “What’s that?”

“Patience,” he says, grinning.

She shakes her head fondly at his excited expression and holds her hands up placatingly. “Okay, okay!”

“Eri left these in my dorm last time she was here and I thought they might help you,” Midoriya says, pushing his open palms towards her.

In his hands are several small tubes, each one filled with a bright, colorful glitter. She picks up a vibrant purple and looks at it curiously. “I don’t understand.”

“Here. I’ll show you.” Midoriya takes a blue one and pops the cap off, revealing a roller ball at the top. He lifts her chin gently and runs the pen across her cheeks, beaming as he pulls away. “Take a look,” he says, handing her his phone.

She clicks on the camera icon and her eyes widen at the image. “I can see my cheekbones,” she whispers, her eyes watering.

Midoriya squeezes her shoulder and offers her an understanding smile. “Yeah, you can.”

She shuts her eyes tightly for a moment before looking at the green-haired boy. Her smile is shaky, but genuine when she asks, “Can you do more?”

“Of course,” he replies without hesitation. “What color?”

She hands him the purple pen and leans closer to him as he traces her jawline. They spend the next several minutes like that—Hagakure picking out colors and Midoriya running the glitter over her features.

“Can you close your eyes?” he asks.

She does and feels the coolness of the pen on her eyelids. She jumps slightly at the sensation and Midoriya pauses in his ministrations.

“Sorry,” she says. “I’m good.”

After a few seconds, he pulls back. “There. I think we’re finished.”

She exhales nervously before reaching for the phone once more. A gasp escapes her before she realizes it as she stares at the screen, the fingers of her free hand trembling as she brings them towards her face.

Lines of purple and blue outline her features—her jawline, her cheekbones, her lips, the contours of her nose, the creases in her forehead. Green and yellow color in the hollows of her cheeks and orange fills in the spaces on her chin and nose. Pink is delicately painted across her eyelids and clinging to her eyelashes. There’s red outlining her eyebrows and ears and her neck is an array of colors, mixing together. Finally, she looks at her hair—at the deep turquoise glitter that covers the strands.

It’s been years since she’s been able to see anything distinct about her features—not since she was a toddler—and looking at the old baby pictures tends to make her sad. And makeup had always seemed pointless and felt strange to wear when no one could see her.

But this—

This is something entirely different.

“Midoriya, this is...” she trails off and leaps forward, wrapping her arms around his neck as she throws herself at him. “I don’t know what to say.”

He reddens, but rests his hands against her back and drags his palms over her spine gently. “I’m glad you like it. I know it’s not the same as being completely visible, but it’s a start. Besides, glitter is a good color on you,” he teases.

She giggles into his shoulder, her tears leaving his shirt damp when she pulls away. “I got glitter on you,” she says, smiling as she pokes at the blue sparkles scattered across his cheek.

He just grins at her and holds a marker towards her. “Do you want to add some more?”

“Really?” She waits for his nod and then beams at him as she uncaps it and cups his face with one hand. “I’m thinking green for your nose.”

And as she covers Midoriya’s face in multicolored lines of glitter, she thinks, for the first time in a while, that she feels like somebody actually sees her.

 

Seventeen.

Bakugou fights against his exhaustion, forcing his shoulders straight as he sits in class. His heart beats erratically in his chest as he struggles to keep his eyes open. He pinches the crookof his elbow hard enough to hurt and bites the inside of his cheek as he focuses on Aizawa’s voice.

When class finallyends, his knees are shaking with energy he doesn’t have and he’s sure that his eyes are bloodshot.

He stifles a yawn into his palm and stands up, rolling his shoulders back and listening to the satisfying sound of his back popping. By the time everyone else is done packing up, he’s already rushing out of the classroom, eager to get back to his dorm and take a nap.

“Kacchan?”

“Hey, nerd,” he says, turning to face Midoriya.

“Are you okay?” The green-haired boy’s eyes are wide with concern, his forehead creased with worry.

Bakugou pushes away the urge to snap at him and curls his fingers around Midoriya’s hip, darting in close enough to press a chaste kiss to his lips. “I’m fine. Just fuckin’ tired.”

If anything, that only makes Midoriya’s frown deepen. “Have you been sleeping?”

“I’ve been trying to. It’s just hard.”

“Oh. Well, do you need anything?”

Bakugou chuckles and shakes his head, running his thumb across Midoriya’s hipbone. “Nah. I’ll be alright.”

Midoriya bites his lip, but nods uncertainly, leaning up to brush his lips against the blond’s cheek. “Okay. Text me if you need me, yeah?”

“Sure.” Bakugou lifts his bag higher onto his shoulders and smirks at the blush that spreads across Midoriya’s freckles.

“I love you,” Midoriya says, offering him a smile.

As hard as he tries, Bakugou can’t stop the fond grin that spreads across his face. “Love you too, babe. Now leave me alone so I can sleep.” He ruffles his boyfriend’s curls, laughing as Midoriya scowls and bats his hands away. “See you, nerd.”

Half an hour later, he’s still lying awake and staring at his ceiling.

He groans in frustration and closes his eyes, trying to count his breaths. The action only succeeds in pissing him off more.

Briefly, he considers calling Midoriya, but ultimately decides against it as he pictures the purple shadows under the other’s eyes. He’s not the only one having trouble sleeping and he’ll be damned if he interrupts Midoriya’s sleep for his own needs.

The next twenty minute are filled with tossing and turning, mind-numbing breathing exercises, and futile attempts to tame his thoughts as they run wild in his head. Eventually, he admits defeat and grabs his phone, pulling up some stupid game that Mina downloaded when she was bored one day.

He’s so distracted with matching up the colorful icons that he barely registers the knocking at first. He sighs, pausing his game, and throws the door open, his glare dying at the sight of his boyfriend standing in front of him.

Midoriya raises an eyebrow. “Really, Kacchan? Candy Crush?”

Bakugou stutters for a response before settling on, “How do you know that?”

“Mina friended me for you ages ago. I got a notification that you beat your high score. Congratulations,” Midoriya says dryly.

He reddens, but clicks his tongue against the roof of his mouth dismissively. “Whatever.”

Midoriya sighs and steps closer until they’re flush against each other. He reaches up, cupping Bakugou’s face in his hands. “What’s going on, Kacchan? Why haven’t you been sleeping?”

“You’re one to talk, nerd,” Bakugou says, scoffing. “You’ve got panda eyes.” Despite his harsh words, his fingers are gentle when they trace the dark shadows under Midoriya’s eyes.

“Kacchan,” Midoriya says warningly, stepping away.

Bakugou presses his lips together in a thin line. “I don’t know. I’ve just been too wired to sleep for the past few days.”

Midoriya stares at him for a long moment before his frown is replaced by a familiar look of determination. “Alright. Do you trust me?”

“I’m dating you, aren’t I?”

Kacchan.

Bakugou lets out a deep sigh and rubs at his forehead. “Sorry, babe. I’m just exhausted. C’mere.” He pulls the green-haired boy closer and presses an apologetic kiss to his temple. “Yes, I trust you. You know that.”

Midoriya nods, his hair tickling Bakugou’s cheek. “Alright. I think I know how to help you sleep.”

“Really?” Bakugou asks, arching an eyebrow suspiciously.

“Would you stop looking at me like that? You’re being ridiculous,” Midoriya says, rolling his eyes. He walks over to the bed and sits sideways with his back against the wall, his legs flat in front of him. He looks up at the blond and pats his lap expectantly.

Bakugou gapes at him.

“Just come here, Kacchan. This will work, I promise.”

“I doubt that,” Bakugou mutters.

Unfortunately for him, Midoriya hears and narrows his eyes before smirking in a way that reminds Bakugou eerily of himself. “Oh, really? How about we make it a competition? If I can get you to fall asleep, I win. If I can’t, I lose.”

Bakugou squints thoughtfully. “What does the winner get?”

“To request something from the other person.”

Well, that sounds promising. Bakugou grins and makes his way towards the bed. “Alright, nerd. You’ve got yourself a deal.”

Midoriya lets out an exasperated breath and gestures to his lap again. “Would you stop being difficult and just come here?”

With a groan, Bakugou reluctantly climbs onto the mattress next to Midoriya and curls up, placing his head gingerly on the other’s thigh.

“Thank you. Now, just try to relax, okay?” Midoriya’s voice is calm and level as he settles a hand on Bakugou’s head.

Bakugou closes his eyes and focuses on the feel of Midoriya’s fingers running through his hair and the nails gently scratching along his scalp.

“The other day, I was thinking about how we used to have sleepovers all the time when we were little,” Midoriya says quietly. “We would curl up on the futon at my house and stay up all night watching All Might cartoons.”

“Yeah,” Bakugou says, just as softly.

Midoriya laughs as he runs his knuckles against Bakugou’s cheek. “It was freezing in the living room, but you’ve always had an unnaturally high body temperature, so you would let me burrow into your side to stay warm.”

“Yeah, well, you’ve always been a clingy little shit.”

“Hush, Kacchan. Just listen,” Midoriya scolds lightly, trailing the pads of his fingers across Bakugou’s forehead.

Bakugou scowls, but curls closer to the other boy, pressing his face against the cotton of Midoriya’s shirt.

“I remember one time we tried to make cookies for my mom because it was her birthday. We wanted to surprise her, but we were too small to reach anything and we just made a really big mess. I don’t think she ever completely got that food coloring stain out of the counter.”

Bakugou feels the tension leave his shoulders, his muscles relaxing as he listens to Midoriya’s voice. It’s soothing in a familiar sort of way, especially with the way Midoriya’s hand is running up and down over the knobs of his spine.

The last thing he remembers before he gives into his exhaustion is Midoriya rambling about matching Christmas sweaters and crooked snowmen.

When he wakes up, the room is dark. He blinks as he looks around, the moonlight streaming in through the open blinds illuminating the furniture. Glancing at the clock on his desk, he realizes that several hours have passed.

Slowly, he comes into awareness and sits up, crimson eyes immediately landing on Midoriya’s sleeping figure. The green-haired boy is still sitting against the wall, but now his head is resting on his own shoulder in a position that can’t possibly be comfortable.

Bakugou’s lips twitch into a fond smile. “Damn nerd,” he whispers.

With easy movements, he slips his arms under Midoriya—one behind his back and one under his knees—and lifts the boy away from the wall. It is with practiced ease that he uses his foot to kick the covers back and then settle onto the mattress, Midoriya still in his arms.

He shifts them into a comfortable position and exhales in relief when Midoriya stays asleep, his breath fanning Bakugou’s collarbone.

“Thanks, Deku,” he murmurs into green curls, pressing a kiss to the top of the other’s head.

Midoriya mumbles tiredly in response, clearly still unconscious, and nuzzles closer, his cheek pressed against Bakugou’s shoulder.

Bakugou laughs, the sound rumbling low in his chest, and tightens his arm around Midoriya’s waist. He knows that Midoriya won their competition, and part of him wonders what his boyfriend will request, but the rest of him is too distracted by the warm affection settling over him to worry about it.

And, for the first time, he isn’t upset about losing.

 

Nineteen.

Mineta is used to people overlooking him.

He’s small and round and not exactly the most personable of people.

So, yes, he’s used to being ignored. Not in the same way Hagakure is, but in the sense that if anyone happens to see him, they tend to keep walking.

He hears shuffling from behind him and turns, refocusing his attention on Yaoyorozu as she leans over in her desk to rifle around in her backpack. The sight makes his mouth water and he digs his nails into his thigh to avoid making any noises that will get him caught.

Yaoyorozu catches him staring and freezes before crossing her legs and pulling her skirt down hurriedly. She leans towards Todoroki, who sends Mineta a fierce glare as he hands her his jacket. Spreading it delicately over her lap, she presses her lips together and slides her desk slightly closer to Todoroki.

Mineta huffs as her legs disappear under the coat and reluctantly starts to turn back to the front of the room.

And then a firm hand clamps down on his shoulder and he squeaks, turning around wide-eyed to face the source.

Midoriya stares down at him, expression unreadable. “Mineta.”

“Ah, hey, Midoriya,” he stammers out, his entire body trembling at the unusual seriousness spread across Midoriya’s features.

“I think we need to have a talk.”

He yelps as he’s dragged forcefully out of the classroom, looking helplessly towards Aizawa for help. But the teacher just pretends he doesn’t see anything unusual and continues his lecture on quirk usage in public.

Mineta gasps and looks over his shoulder at his classmates, but no one will meet his eyes. In fact, he’s pretty sure Bakugou might actually be smirking at him.

He shudders and lets himself be pulled into the hallway. Midoriya’s grip is an iron vice around his arm and he’s sure that there will be bruises left behind.

That is, if he manages to survive this confrontation.

He quickly shakes the thought away as he stumbles behind Midoriya. The green-haired boy is too gentle to cause him any real damage.He once saw Midoriya sprain his wrist after trying to rescue a kitten from a tree.  

Nodding to himself, he allows himself to relax slightly.

Yeah, he’ll be fine. Midoriya couldn’t hurt a fly, even if he wanted to. The kid is basically a baby deer.

Mineta scoffs to himself, his shoulders losing tension with each step.

It’s not until they’re alone in the common room of Heights Alliance and Midoriya is whirling around to face him that Mineta realizes he may have been mistaken.

Because Midoriya’s eyes are narrowed with barely-concealed rage, his entire face tight with anger, and oh god, Midoriya may be a baby deer, but he’s definitely a rabid one at the moment.

Mineta gulps and takes a step backwards, vaguely recognizing that Midoriya is no longer holding onto his arm. “Uh, Midoriya? Are you okay?”

The taller boy pinches the bridge of his nose and exhales sharply—the movement loud in the otherwise quiet room. “I don’t know, Mineta. I just don’t know. All of us have spent the last two years training to be heroes and growing up and yet, here you are, still pulling the same shit you did our freshman year.”

Mineta starts, shocked at hearing Midoriya curse, but he doesn’t get the chance to say anything to defend himself before Midoriya is off again.

“And I hate it. I hate that you can sit there and pretend like you’re even worthy of calling yourself a hero when you constantly belittle and degrade the girls in our class. They deserve better than that,” Midoriya says firmly. “Do you even understand how you make them feel? How uncomfortable they are around you?”

Mineta’s fingers twitch nervously as he shakes his head in response. But it’s not that bad. They know that’s just the way he is, right? He would never actually hurt anyone. What he’s doing is harmless.

...right?

“Momo debated changing her hero costume because of your leering. It took Jirou and I hours to talk her out of it. Uraraka doesn’t wear skirts outside of school anymore. Mina checks her room for cameras every night. Tsuyu changes in the bathroom instead of out in the open in the locker room. Jirou wears shorts under her uniform. And Hagakure is fucking invisible, but you still somehow managed to make her feel violated,” Midoriya says, ticking off each point on his fingers.   

He frowns at Midoriya’s words, denial on the tip of his tongue.

But Midoriya just sighs and looks down at him with a disappointed expression that makes his stomach drop. “Why do you act like this, Mineta? Haven’t you seen how the girls look at you?

“Well, at least this way they’re looking,” Mineta retorts, fists clenched by his sides.  

Midoriya blinks, then raises an eyebrow, arms crossed over his chest. “Really? That’s your reasoning? Here, I’ll let you in on a secret.” He leans closer and waits for Mineta to meet his eyes before continuing. “Being noticed for the wrong things is worse than not being noticed at all. If you want people like you—if you want girls to like you—you need to treat them well. Creeping them out and trying to look up their skirts is only going to make them hate you.”

Frowning, Mineta stares at the floor. “I don’t—”

“Stop,” Midoriya interrupts, holding up a hand. “Just, let me ask you a question. Do you want to be a hero?”

Mineta nods without hesitation.

“Alright. Then start acting like it. Because right now you’re just making a lot of people uncomfortable.”

Mineta flinches at that and Midoriya softens slightly.

“You’re not a bad person, Mineta. Or, at least, you don’t have to be. Find something else to be noticed for. Something that doesn’t involve being a pervert. You’re smart. Smart enough to knowthat I’m right.”

He doesn’t say anything as Midoriya walks away, leaving him alone in the common room. He exhales, unsure of himself and lost in thought.

He closes his eyes and pictures Yaoyorozu’s look of uncertainty and Todoroki’s fierce glare. He sees Uraraka’s unease and Jirou’s insecurity. He thinks of Hagakure’s nervous shuffling and Mina’s avoidance.

“Oh,” he whispers to himself, the realization hitting him all at once.

It’s not harmless.

He isn’t entirely sure what to do with that information, so he makes his way to his dorm, shoulders drooping.

All this time, he just wanted people to notice him, to pay attention to him. But Midoriya is right. Being noticed for this—for being the pervert of the class—isn’t the way to go about it.

He straightens as a new resolve takes him. He’s done being seen as a creep.

Being a hero is his goal and until he’s worthy of that title, he’ll leave the girls alone. Maybe one day in the future, he’ll apologize and be able to make it mean something. Because right now any “sorry” from him would come across as empty.

He leans back, falling against the mattress with a renewed sense of determination.

He’s going to be a hero, no matter the cost, and if growing up is what it takes, then so be it.

 

Twenty.

Yaoyorozu picks at her food, twirling rice around with her chopsticks. She yawns, still tired from the training exercise that morning, and leans back in her chair.

“Hey, Momo!” Midoriya says as he sits down next to her, setting his own tray on the table.

She groans, dropping her head onto his shoulder. “How are you not exhausted?”

He laughs and reaches up to pat her cheek lightly. “Oh, I am. But my quirk isn’t as intensive as yours.”

She lifts her head just enough to raise an eyebrow at him.

“Don’t look at me like that,” he says, nudging her with his elbow. “I just mean that it’s different. Your quirk requires energy. Mine is based on muscle mass. So, yeah. I’m tired and I’m pretty sure that I sprained something in my knee, but it makes sense that you’d be more affected.”

“I suppose that’s true,” she muses as she thinks it over.

Midoriya nods. “You should eat. You need to replenish your fat cells.”

She groans and lets her forehead fall against his arm once more. “I can’t. Too tired. Wake me up when you’re done.”

When she blinks herself awake, the cafeteria is empty. She lifts her head and frowns at the lack of people.

Midoriya nudges her and grins brightly. “Hey there, Sleeping Beauty. Have a nice nap?”

“I should’ve known you would do something like this. How long have you been sitting there?” she asks, glaring at him.

He shrugs. “An hour or so.”

“And how long has your shoulder been asleep?” she asks pointedly.

“About an hour or so,” he mumbles.

Yaoyorozu laughs and swats at his chest. “You’re too nice, Midoriya. You should have woken me up.”

The green-haired boy shakes his head. “It really wasn’t a big deal. You were tired, so I stayed. Are you feeling better now?”

“Yes, I am. Thank you.” She frowns and pulls at her sleeve. “Can I ask you a question?”

He nods without hesitation, eyebrows furrowing in concern.

“Do you see me as a threat? Not in a villainous way, of course, but as a rival?” She’s whispering by the time she finishes speaking, her cheeks reddening as she ducks her head.

Midoriya knocks his knuckles lightly against her chin until she meets his eyes, a warm smile on his face. “Momo, I think you might be the biggest threat here.”

“Really?” She hates the insecurity in her voice, but after years of being treated like a doll, she’s learned to doubt herself.

“Really,” Midoriya says enthusiastically. “You kind of terrify me. I mean, you’re the smartest person in our class—probably the entire school, if we’re being honest—and you have an amazing quirk.”

Yaoyorozu grins, her doubts fading at the genuine sincerity in his face. “Thank you, Midoriya. That means a lot, especially coming from you.”

“Anytime. But what brought this on? You kicked everyone’s asses at training today,” he says, forehead creasing with worry.

She sighs, playing with the hem of her skirt nervously. “I’ve been looking into internships. And so far, most of my offers have been focused on modeling and sponsorships. I just want to be seen for more than my family name or my looks.”

Midoriya frowns and reaches over to grab her hand, preventing her from fidgeting. “Hey. Anyone who doesn’t acknowledge your talent isn’t worth it. You’re amazing, Momo. Your quirk itself is ridiculously strong, but you manage to make it downright deadly. And as for your internship, I have an idea.”

“You do?”

He hums in response, pulling out his phone and typing furiously. “Yeah, just give me a second.” Less than a minute passes before Midoriya’s phone is buzzing. He slides his finger across the screen, grinning as he holds it to his ear. “Hello?

She can only hear one side of his conversation, but it’s enough to confuse her.

Midoriya laughs, green eyes lighting up with amusement. “Yes. No. Yes, I’m serious. Why would I joke about that? Oh, give it a rest. That happened one time. Come on. Yeah? Good, that’s what I’m saying! Alright, I’ll let her know. You’re the best. See you tomorrow!”

“What was that about?” she asks curiously as he hangs up and sets his phone on the table.

“Well, I’m interning with Fat Gum this time around and he’s interested in working with you, too. So, if you want it, we start tomorrow.”

Yaoyorozu stares at him blankly for a few seconds before stammering out, “I don’t think I got an offer from his agency.”

Midoriya rolls his eyes, but it’s a fond motion. “That would be because he neglected to send any out. They just finished a big operation and he completely forgot about internships. I already had mine scheduled, so he didn’t figure it out until like two days ago when Tamaki asked who the other intern was.”

“And he’s willing to accept me?”

Midoriya scoffs. “Momo, he’s been trying to get you since our first year.”

“Really?” she asks, eyes widening.

Nodding, Midoriya squeezes her hand. “You both have fat-based quirks, so I’m sure you could learn a lot from him. Plus, he specializes in taking on interns that aren’t entirely sure of themselves. He’s already helped me a lot and I haven’t even officially worked with him yet.”

“You’re insecure, too?”

His features soften as he leans closer, their shoulders pressing together. “All the time.”

“But you’re so strong!” she exclaims, flushing when he sends her a pointed look.

“Says the person who singlehandedly destroyed everyone during capture the flag today.”

“It wasn’t singlehandedly,” she protests. “I had an entire team to rely on.”

Midoriya stares at her, then says flatly, “But it’s your rubber pellets that I have bruises from. And it was your flash grenades that made Kacchan fall out of a tree.”

She winces. “Sorry about that.”

“Hey,” he says sternly, shaking a finger at her. “Don’t apologize for being smart. You won. Be proud of that.” He tilts his head curiously. “So?”

She blinks in confusion.

“Are you going to join my internship?” Midoriya clarifies.

She ponders for a moment, but it isn’t a hard decision to make. “I think I would like that. It would be a great opportunity and I’ve always admired Fat Gum.”

Midoriya just smiles at her knowingly. “Good. I already told him you’d be there tomorrow.”

“Of course you did,” she says, smiling back. She feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders now that she has an internship that will focus on her skills instead of her hair.

True to Midoriya’s word, Fat Gum spends the next week and a half training them and Yaoyorozu isn’t once asked to model or dress up for advertisements. She inhales deeply as she collapses onto the agency’s couch, her chest heaving.

She’s covered in sweat and more worn out than she’s been in years, but she’s grinning, her heart pounding in the best kind of way.

Midoriya drops down beside her, bright-eyed and exhausted. “Didn’t I tell you?”

“You did,” she agrees. “Fat Gum is a wonderful mentor.”

He laughs breathlessly, his cheeks flushed. “I’m glad you think so.” He sinks further into the couch cushions and leans over until his head rests in her lap.

She automatically reaches down to card her fingers through his hair, pulling apart tangles with gentle motions. “Thank you for setting this up. I really appreciate it.”

Midoriya hums tiredly. “You deserved it.”

“Still. It means a lot,” she says softly. “Go to sleep. I’ll wake you up.”

“No, you won’t,” he mumbles back, pressing his face into her stomach.

She chuckles, tugging lightly on his ear. “Yeah, probably not.”

After that, it only takes a few seconds for Midoriya’s breathing to even out, his hand clutching the bottom of her jacket.

She hears footsteps and looks up to find Fat Gum striding towards them, lips stretched into a wide smile.  

“You guys look tired,” the hero teases, falling into a nearby chair.

Yaoyorozu nods as her nails scratch lightly against Midoriya’s scalp. “It was a long day.”

Fat Gum lets out a loud laugh before wincing as the green-haired boy makes a noise in his sleep. Lowering his voice, he says, “You both did well. I’m impressed by your stamina and determination.”

“Thank you,” she says, blushing at the praise.

“I hope you’re learning during your time here. Midoriya told me about the other offers you got. He said you weren’t very happy with them.”

She presses her lips together and sighs. “Yes. I mean, of course I’m appreciative of any hero that invites me to work with them, but the offers I received largely involved sponsorships and modeling instead of hero work. I don’t mind doing advertisements or product endorsements, but I’m not there yet. I just want to train my quirk.”

Fat Gum nods understandingly. “I can see how that would be frustrating. I’m sure Midoriya told you already, but I’ve been eager to work with you for over a year now. And not just because our quirks are similar. You’re creative and intelligent and you adapt well in difficult situations. You’re going to be a great hero, Yaoyorozu.”

“I—thank you. I hope so.”

It’s one thing to hear those kinds of compliments from Midoriya, but it’s a completely different experience to hear them from a registered hero. She feels a fresh wave of determination come over her and decides that it doesn’t matter if people focus on her wealth or her clothes. She’s training to be a hero and nothing is going to get in her way.

She’s broken out of her thoughts when Midoriya mumbles something in his sleep, rolling over on her lap and hugging her knees. She laughs at the sight and strokes his curls, brushing them away from his forehead gently.

“He’s quite the character,” Fat Gum says quietly.

Yaoyorozu nods in agreement, completely unsurprised by the fondness in the hero’s voice. Midoriya had a way of worming himself into people’s lives and hearts before they even realized it. She smiles down at the boy on her lap and shakes her head in amusement. “Our class is lucky to have him.”

She shifts slightly, just enough to let Midoriya rest against her more comfortably and continues to run her fingers through his hair. Judging by the shadows under his eyes, she’s sure he’ll be out for a while, but she doesn’t mind. It’s the least she can do, after all.