The world was dizzy and muted around him as Izuku slipped in and out of consciousness. It felt like he was floating on a cloud. Or maybe submerged in water would be a better analogy since his body felt heavy, groggy and he was unable to move a muscle. It was like a weight on his chest, pressing him down.
Slowly he climbed towards awareness, the world sharpening around him, and brought with it a dull pain throughout his whole body. The pain felt distant, like something blocked him from feeling it to its full extent, but it was still unpleasant. He couldn't find the energy to move, to even open his eyes. And yet … he saw something.
It was a steadily shining, bright orange light among a sea of darkness. It evoked a number of feelings in him. Warmth and comfort. Gentleness and strength. A sense of … everlasting devotion. It felt like a warm hug and his favourite meal after a long day. Somehow he knew it belonged to his mom.
The reminder of his mom brought a flood of memories to him. Memories of fire and blistering pain all over his body. Memories of fear and desperation as he tried to protect the person he loved the most in the world. And yet, even though Izuku remembered the horrors of the fire in excruciating detail his body remained unresponsive, even his feelings felt muted. He struggled against it, more violently than before.
Omg I finally got my quirk! And it somehow got me into the apartment. What more can it do? What happened after I passed out? What happened to mom? Did I save her? Izuku was beginning to panic as he began to break through the fogginess in his brain. He had actually rushed into a burning building! He could have died!
Suddenly the orange light gave of a gentle pulse, momentarily turning the darkness completely orange before it returned to its blackness. His thoughts were brought to a stop as he focused on the light. It continued to give of the same pleasant feelings, spreading its light and warmth though the darkness in his mind. Something about it made him sure that his mom was alright, almost like he could feel that she was safe. It calmed him down and pushed back the panic, making him able to think clearly again.
I … actually have a quirk. If his body hadn’t been so heavy he would have laughed.
When he calmed down the sound of muffled voices began reaching him and Izuku strained to hear them. It was like they reached him from underwater and he was unable to make out words. But there was one voice among them he would recognise everywhere; his mom’s. She was there, right beside him and she sounded alright, though somewhat worried. Izuku wanted to reassure her that everything was alright, and to be able to do that he had to open his eyes.
Inko continued to talk and another voice he recognised answered her. Kacchan’s mom was here? It sounded like she consulted his mom and he was glad there was someone there for her. Suddenly he felt soothing touch his left hand. Fingers closed around his, squeezing gently. Except for the pain it was the first sensation he had felt since he fell unconscious and it suddenly pulled his mind to the surface.
Izuku drew in a deep breath, like he indeed had been deep underwater, letting his body adjust for a second. He opened his eyes - or tried, his right eye seemed to be covered in something and wouldn’t open. The bright light in the room was blinding and he blinked rapidly against it before his left eye adjusted. As he had suspected he was lying in a hospital bed in a white, bland room. Different tubes and sensors were attached to him. There even was something that looked like a heart monitor on his right. It counted out a steady pace. Outside the windows the sun was settling.
He turned towards the voices he’d heard and to his left sat his mom, eyes red and filled with tears, Mitsuki with an arm around her shoulders and next to them a middle aged woman with bright pink hair, dressed in a white coat. Izuku squeezed his mom’s hand and her head turned towards him so fast he worried about her neck.
“Izuku, you’re awake!” Inko exclaimed and opened her arms as if to hug him only to hesitate. In the end she settled for stroking his cheek. He was a bit disappointed as he could have used one of her hugs but at the same time was he relieved, the pain in his body protesting against any movement. Tears fell on the white bedcover he was tucked beneath and his own eyes grew wet in response.
“Mom”, he cried and reached out with his left hand towards her. His right hand felt strange and was covered in so many bandages that he didn’t dare move it. She took his hand in hers. “Are you alright?”
She let out a wet laugh and rubbed at her eyes with her free hand. Mitsuki placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled down at him. He managed to smile back at her, but it felt weak. “Don’t worry about me, baby, I’m alright. How are you feeling?”
“Dizzy”, he responded. It was the understatement of the year but he didn't know how else to describe the strange feeling in his body.
Inko worriedly looked towards the doctor who just smiled in response. “That’s probably the painkillers. Now if you please move back a bit, Ms Midoriya, Ms Bakugou, I would like to examine Izuku.” Inko immediately made space for the doctor, she and Mitsuki stepping backwards.
“Hello, Izuku, I’m doctor Suzuki”, she smiled at him; Izuku noticed her eyes were as pink as her hair. He wondered what her quirk was and would have asked her if she hadn’t continued talking. “Except for feeling dizzy, how are you? Feeling any pain?”
He hesitated. For every second of consciousness the pain had grown a bit sharper but if he got more painkillers it was sure to bring him back under and he didn’t want that just yet. On the other hand his mom had always told him to never lie to doctors or they couldn’t help you properly. “I’m in a bit of pain but feel mostly numb.”
She hummed. “That is unfortunately to be expected. Don’t worry, I’ll give you more painkillers in a moment and you’ll feel alright again.”
“T-there’s something more”, Izuku stammered, his voice barely audible.
“What is it?” she gently coaxed him.
Izuku reached out with the hand without any bandages towards his right eye. He felt something covering it and guessed it were bandages. A glance towards his mom confirmed the thing he’d seen before hadn’t changed. “I think there's something wrong with my eye”, he whispered, voice trembling. The heart monitor picked up his rising heartbeat.
The tension in the room was so thick he could have cut through it. Doctor Suzuki broke the silence. “Do you mean that you can’t see through it? The reason for that is that it’s covered in bandages. So you don’t need to worry.”
“N-no, it’s not that. I ... I can see something with it, b-but not with my other eye.”
“What can you see?” his mom breathed and moved closer. He turned his gaze away and back to her a few times. Nothing changed.
“I … through my left eye I see the world as normal, but my right eye s-sees only darkness … and an orange light.” He faced his mom, looking into her green eyes; the same colour as his own. “It belongs to you, but I see it even when I’m not looking at you. I think it appeared sometime during the f-fire and that it’s connected with my quirk. A-and I think I can no longer s-see anything else with it.”
The tears he’d tried to keep at bay finally begun falling, burning in his eyes. Izuku wiped some away and the rest got caught by the bandages over his right eye. Inko hurried past the doctor and carefully hugged him to her chest, barely touching his bandaged back or arms. She stroked his hair. “It’s okay Izuku, we’ll manage it together. No matter what happens.“
“Yes”, she said without hesitation and looked him in the eye. The orange light that was hers shone so brightly and steadily Izuku felt something settle inside his heart. “You’re already so strong, darling and you’re my hero.”
“H-hero?” The lingering pain he’d felt ever since the doctor’s proclamation that he was quirkless evaporated into thin air. He had a quirk and for one glorious moment he forgot about his burns and potentially ruined eye. His dream of becoming a hero was one step closer.
Doctor Suzuki cleared her throat and broke the moment. “There is something else we must discuss.”
Inko gave her a glare that could instil fear in lesser people’s hearts. “I think it can wait until tomorrow. Izuku has dealt with enough as it is.”
“W-what is it?” Izuku asked with a weak voice, clinging onto his mom with his good hand. The way the doctor and his mom spoke made him scared.
Inko turned towards him and stroked his hair. He leaned into the touch. "Don't worry about it right now, it can wait until tomorrow. Are you in pain? Maybe there's time for more painkillers."
"I … yeah that's sounds like a good idea." Izuku really wanted to know what the doctor talked about but there was no way he would go against his mom’s wishes. Besides the pain had begun to really bother him and he was willing to delay getting information to sleep instead.
Inko gave the doctor another sharp gaze and she sighed, relenting. Suzuki put something in his IV line and moments later he felt the pain melting away, and with it an incredible exhaustion overwhelmed him. Izuku gripped his mom's hand, needing her support as he drifted off into sleep.
“Are you ready?” Doctor Suzuki asked, hands hovering above the first bandage - on on his arm - but not touching it yet.
Inko squeezed his hand. “It is okay if you’re not, baby, we can wait a few more hours.”
It was the morning after he was admitted into the hospital, the morning after the fire. Another doctor had used their healing quirk at him during the night, healing him as much as they possible could. It was time to remove the bandages and determine what permanent damage he would have from his wounds. The word permanent scared him more than anything - besides the fire - had ever scared him before. Izuku would never be ready to see what the fire had done to him but knew that he didn’t have a choice.
Izuku closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “Yes.”
Suzuki begun unwrapping the bandages one after the other and he stubbornly kept his eyes closed through it all. She begun with his arms and legs and then moved towards his chest and back. When the air hit the uncovered areas his skin stung but the worst part was how his mom’s breath caught in her throat at whatever she saw. She squeezed his hand but Izuku suspected it was more for her own comfort than for his.
“I’ve left the bandage over your face and right hand for know since they were the worst injuries”, Suzuki said. “The rest of your burns have healed as well as expected but will require a bit more care. Most of them have only caused pigmentation changes and might fade a bit with time but a few burned you deep enough to create scar tissue that will need a lot of extra care to make sure they heal as they should.”
Izuku still kept his eye stubbornly closed. The orange light shone brightly at him. Only a few hours had passed since he saw it for the first time but it was already a comfort for him. It made him feel like his mom was with him even when she wasn’t - not that she had been far from him since he woke up, but the few times she had stepped out of the room the light had made her feel close anyway.
“It’s okay, Izuku, you can open your eyes” Inko said, stroking his now unbandaged left arm from his wrist to his shoulder. He could feel when she touched the scar tissue. It tickled somewhat but didn’t actually hurt.
Slowly he opened his eye and stared down at himself. He was clad only in underwear so the full extent of his burns was evident before him. The burns on his arms, legs and torso was red and glaring against his freckled skin, covering them in random lines that almost looked like fire themselves. Izuku already hated them.
Izuku forced himself to breath in and out in a slow pace, suppressing the rising panic. Tears gathered in his eyes but he blinked them away, though the ones in his covered right eye got soaked up by the bandages. If he begun crying now he wouldn’t be able to stop and he wanted to know he full extent of the damage before he lost control of himself.
But if his arms were wounded in such a horrible way he didn’t even want to think about what could have happened to his eye and hand.
“How are you feeling?” His mom asked, worry evident in the line of her eyebrows and the downturn of her lips.
“I-I’m o-okay”, he stammered and failed miserably in sounding like it. He forced his feelings even deeper down. It wasn’t healthy but in that moment he didn’t care. “B-but how come s-some of them are w-white?” He gestured towards a line of white scar tissue on his abdomen. Next to it was another scar but it was a deep read instead. They were a bit uneven; the skin tough to the touch but mostly the colour was the only evidence of the burns. Though he did have some worse scar tissue on his legs and right arm.
“Burns can cause pigmentation changes and either turns white or red depending on the damage they did to the skin.”
“Are you okay with me removing the bandages on your hand now?” Suzuki asked, her pink eyes gentle. He still hadn’t asked her about her quirk, but this wasn’t the right time either. Izuku nodded, not trusting his voice to be steady.
Suzuki begun unwrapping the bandages around his right hand and this time he forced himself to keep his eye open. Slowly the white cloth fell away and white skin came into view. The skin was white and bumpy. It didn’t look worse than other parts of his body but Izuku immediately knew something was wrong.
He could barely feel it was Suzuki removed the bandages.
“I … I think something is w-wrong”, he whispered.
“What is it?” Inko immediately asked and leaned over him to take a closer look on his hand.
“I c-can barely feel anything with my h-hand.” Izuku felt like he had been punched in the guts and gasped desperately for breath. He could hear the heart monitor picking up its speed in as his heart began to race.
“Can you feel this?” Suzuki asked and stroked a finger down the back of his hand. He felt a slight tingling in his skin but compared to the feeling in his left hand it was barely there. He told them so. “Can you move it?”
Izuku gulped. He didn’t know if he dared to. What if he couldn’t move his hand?
His mom carefully pulled him into a hug. “It is okay, Izuku, just try to move it. I’m here.”
He slowly curled and uncurled the fingers of his right hand. They felt a bit stiff and when he closed his hand into a fist he couldn’t feel the usual sensation of skin touching skin. All the while small trembles went through his hand, making some movements hard to do. But he could use it. Tears of relief sprung into his eyes. Inko’s head fell onto the mattress and he suspected she was a lot more scared than she let on.
“Unfortunately it seems the burn caused some nerve damage to your hand”, Suzuki said. “But it’s a good thing you haven’t lost the use of it. With some physical therapy it could be returned almost to normal, though I suspect the tremors will remain for the rest of your life. I suggest you learn how to write with our left hand as it will be a task to great for your right hand.”
“I w-will”, Izuku sniffed and dried some tears from his cheek. The bandage over his right eye felt uncomfortable, wet as it was from his tears. He almost wanted it to get off. Almost.
“Are you ready for me to remove the last bandage now?”
“Can’t it wait?” Inko protested. “He has already gone through so much. Surely we can wait at least until this evening.”
“N-no”, Izuku immediately said. “I t-think it’s better to do it all now. It’s like r-ripping of a band aid, right? It’s better to do it fast then to drag it out. S-so please do it n-now.”
“Don’t worry, it will all be over soon and then you can rest while I discuss some things with your mother.”
Izuku closed his eyes, taking a deep breath. “P-please begin.”
Suzuki begun unwrapping the bandages one after the other and he stubbornly kept his eyes closed through it all. He focused on the orange light instead, letting the warm feelings it evoked calm him. When the last of the bandages fell away he still kept his eyes stubbornly closed. Considering the damage the fire had done to his body he didn't want to know what it could have done to his eye.
His mom stroked his hair with the hand he wasn’t holding. “I’m here for you”, she said and her voice was filled with so much determination the panic in his heart settled a bit. The orange light shone steadily, lighting up the darkness.
A deep breath to ground himself before he opened his eyes.
Through his left eye he saw the world as he’d always seen it. He saw his mom, lines of worry on her pretty face that deepened when she met his eyes. He didn’t want to know what she saw. Next to her stood Suzuki, her face kept professionally calm but even in her face could he see the distress.
Their apprehension was warranted, the panic coiling in his core had been right all along. Because Izuku’s worst fears had just been confirmed. Because when he opened his right eye nothing changed. Instead for the sight his left eye beheld there was only darkness. Darkness and that lone orange light.
Izuku reached up to check that the bandage was truly gone, still in denial. His fingers felt marred skin under the eye and fluttering eyelashes. It really was opened.
Tears burned in his eyes and he wanted to keep them in, but the pain in his soul forced them out in flowing streams down his face. Sobs wrecked his scarred and mangled body, almost choking him. Gentle arms encircled him and without hesitation he buried his face against his mom’s chest.
“Izuku?” She didn’t need to say anything else; he knew what his mom asked after. He suspected she already knew and just didn’t want to believe it. The feeling was mutual. Instead of answering he just shook his head. The way her breath hitched and she pulled him closer he guessed she understood anyway.
The doctor said something and his mom answered but Izuku couldn’t hear anything else than the pounding in his ears. It felt like he was suffocating on his own tears and despair.
Warm hands cupped his face and begun wiping away the tears; a futile action since new immediately fell. Yet slowly the sobs quieted down and the tears slowed from a waterfall to a gentle stream. The world came into focus around him again. Somehow he knew he was alone in the room with his mom, though he wouldn’t be able to tell when exactly Suzuki left even if his life depended on it.
“It’s okay to cry as long as you don’t let it drown you. Keep fighting”, Inko said and Izuku drew back a bit to meet her eyes. Emerald green eyes, so similar to his own, filled with determination and bottomless strength stared back at him. Her light shone so brightly it warmed him to his core. “I gave up on you once, but never again. Face the world with pride and love your scars; they are proof that you are still alive and that you saved me. You are already a hero, Izuku, prove it.”
He wiped his tears away and used her light to smother the despair, to brighten the darkness in his mind. Warmth replaced it and Izuku smiled up at his mother. It was a bit wobbly and uncertain but it stayed put. “I will become the greatest hero of all time and save everyone.”
Inko smiled brilliantly. “I know you will.”
Burns still marred his body and his right eye and hand remained broken - and always would - but now Izuku felt that he could overcome it. He would use them as reminders to work harder at everything he did; towards his dream to become a hero.