let me go
and i will end this nightmare
"Stupid, fuckin' Deku!"
It was stupid. It was so, so stupid.
He couldn't help it. Every time he met those crimson eyes, every time he found his spiky blonde hair, he remembered. Every scorch he left on his skin, on his clothes. Every hurtful word, every yell of "stupid, quirkless little Deku", every jeer, every taunt. Every scar on his body seemed to set ablaze every time he heard his voice, his body thrumming with blistering heat, with 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴, 𝘲𝘶𝘪𝘳𝘬𝘭𝘦𝘴𝘴 haunting his every waking moment like a slave brand seared into his very being.
It was too much.
It hurt t̸̫̳͙̻̰̟̦̹̂͗̈̌o̸̧̠̳̼̳̜̦̓͆̏̀̈́̅̐̓̕o̶̟͍̔ ̶̖͉͑̋m̷͉͇̭̪̜̿̄͋̌̿̂̈́͜u̸̡̦͉̜̼̖̹̺͛͂̿̆c̴͆̀̇̔͘ḩ̶̡͙̹̟̤͚͗̎
It hurt it hurt it hurt ithurtithurtitachedandpulsedandburned—
But it couldn't hurt. He was a hero. H̶e̶ w̶a̶s̶n̶'t̶ a̶l̶l̶o̶w̶e̶d̶ t̶o̶ h̶u̶r̶t̶.
Come on, Izuku, He told himself. You're fine. It's fine.
Kacchan wasn't even that bad anymore. He was still rough around the edges, but he'd already learned how not to beat up everyone who questions his capability. He was nicer. This was a stupid reason for him to cry because really, everything was fine. Better, even! He has friends now. He'd become the successor of the most beloved hero, inheriting the quirk that has been passed down from generation to generation, saving lives and dreams from the very moment it manifested. He was settling in wonderfully at his new home, the warmth of the welcoming smiles and open arms of Class 1-A almost dulling the sense of emptiness left behind by his late mother—no, no, he was fine about that.
It's not like anyone knew, anyway, so he wasn't reminded of her at every twist and turn
even if he saw her in every bowl of katsudon he forced down his throat, in every glance at the forest-green suit he wore, in every thump of the bright red sneakers she had given him to treasure. He didn't bring any pictures of her, not that there were many. Even if there had been, they were probably reduced to ashes now, along with the only person he'd ever been able to call home.
He shook his head vehemently, forcing the intrusive thoughts and memories back, ignoring the way it felt like holding back a wave of seawater with a flimsy chunk of fence. One way to shut himself up was to just not think about it—and he could do that. He'd practiced so often, after all, putting so much effort into clearing his mind in a strangled attempt to forget the searing bursts of sparking agony that lit up at the touch of smooth, cruel hands, then allowing normal thoughts in to hyper-focus on when he walked home, distracting himself once more as his skin remembered phantom flames and ill-intent.
He knew he'd eventually have to face it, but—
The very idea made him swallow in a poor attempt to deny reality. Stop thinking like that, he chided himself, and even in his mind, the thoughts soundes lifeless and half-hearted. Get it together.
It was already after class, and he was walking back to the dorms, crumpled paper full of scribbled notes and diagrams stuffed into his pocket for later inspection. Uraraka and Iida had already went on ahead since Izuku had left the paper behind, and after a good while of convincing them he'd be fine to go back on his own, he finally marched back to the doorway of the classroom to retrieve it.
He was entertaining idle thoughts in his own mind, gazing off into the distance as he mentally debated with himself, dissecting the aspects of a few quirks that had piqued his interest when he spots an abandoned ballpoint pen that had presumably been stepped on, judging by the crimson ink that was spilling out of the tube. The brightly colored liquid caught his attention, a brilliant contrast against the dull grey of the concrete and pinking skies, and something about the shock of color made him freeze to the spot, like a thief caught in the act. His breath was caught in his throat, his hands suddenly numb and clammy by his sides and for the life of him, he could not avert his gaze.
Red, his mind whispers, like an echo of the past, a passing breeze on a cloudy day.
L̵͓̥̳̭͌ỉ̵̡̛̠̣̮̦̓̂̆̄̍̃̑͘ͅk̷͔̲͈̺̗̭̦̯͗e̴̲̻̒͑͝ ̴̲̲͓̫͍̂͠h̵̝̰̺͓̘͔͊͗͂͑̄͘i̷̡̢̞̼̮̝̤͖̜͌͒̎͗̃̆̈́s̴̜͉̺̫̰̜̎̐̕ͅ ̴̥̠̝̠͂̎̆͋͑͐̃ȅ̶̘̘̌̿̉̀̍̀͝y̷̘̭͂̇̀͐͗̚ę̷̻̰̫̇̐̃s̵͍͎͋̉͜͠͠.̵̧̨̳͇̣̼͖̣͕͊͋̚
Memories flickered through his mind, the flashbacks repeating in his head like a broken record, whispering in his ear, almost as if to say You didn't forget us, did you? We won't let you forget us,
He couldn't tell that he was hyperventilating, that he had seized up in fear at the reminder of what had happened, who he had been, t̵̯̫̠͓͔̠̎̒̒̏͂͌ḣ̶̡͈̼̺̦͉̘͔̈́̌̊́̾̄̃͜ͅe̵͕̥̫̍͌̊͛̅ ̸̨̻̝͚̳̿̽͐̂͗̅̚p̴̝̞̥̠͍̃̐̉̂̎̄ͅȩ̷́̊̋̇ṙ̸̲́͂s̴̛̞̝̄o̷̧̲̳͖̗͉̲͙̜̤͘ņ̴͕̭̣̦̦̗̖̳͐̾̄̒̆̇̄ ̵̵̢̢̭͎̘̘͈̟̰̲̭͎̘̘͈̟̰̲̐͂̿̑̔̀̐͂̿̑̔̀ͅͅh̷̘͎̝͔͛̈̽̆ê̶̯͖͈̯̑͛͜͜͝ͅ ̷̧̡̘̬̝̬͕̰̖̠̄̒̂̆f̴͈͈͚̭̥͋̔̅̚͘͠a̴̛͕̣̜̳̋͒̄̎̄ȉ̷̛̬̞̻̩̘̙̈́̿͊̋̾̍̈́̑l̴̳͚̰̗̭͌͂͌̇͗ę̸̛̛̱͍̏̌̿͂̿͝d̵̩͍̈́͂͋ͅ ̶͍͉̯̮̝͘t̷̛̮̪̬͗̓̈́̑̍̎͊͘o̸̝̤̳͂ ̵͚̥̠͈̙̤̭͛b̸̛̼̭̋̿̑͌̇̐͋̓e̵̟̠͓͚̘͒̑̾̕͝ͅ. He could barely feel his hands shaking, his knees trembling.
Quirkless little Deku.
"You aren't quirkless anymore," he told himself shakily, even when there was no one to receive his weak-willed words.
Useless little Deku.
"I-I'm not useless—"
Are you really? Iida's arm would be functional if that was true. Kamino Ward wouldn't have happened. If you had just done something, everything would be fine. If you had just minded your own business, All Might could have chosen a better successor. He wouldn't have chosen you. A quirkless, useless loser who couldn't do anything.
"I-it was given—"
It was pity. Can't you see? He felt bad for the useless little pebble on the side of the road. He felt bad for the bird with wings that couldn't fly. He gave it to you because he felt pity. If he had given it to Mirio, everything would be fine. Sir Nighteye would be fine.
It's all because of you. It's always because of you.
Echos of hopeful queries about being a hero and the lack of a quirk and quiet confessions about wounds of the past flickered in his mind's eye.
Mind your own business, little freak.
No. Before he knew it, his feet moved. He was running, rushing for somewhere to hide, somewhere to break down. Memories of this morning flooded his mind, of scalding tears searing his cheeks and quarter-beat breaths, his body absolutely frozen and immobile as fear took ahold of him after having a nightmare about—
Don't think about it. Don't.
He had lost his cool this morning. He kicked his chair, he tore his posters from his walls in an attempt to hide from his intense gaze, all sense gone from his mind in his instinctual need to hide. He didn't want to see the disappointed blue eyes of his mentor anymore. He knocked over his figurines, he ripped his notebooks from their place on his desk, he tried to calm down calm down calmdowncalmdown—
Despite his trouble focusing, he had one coherent thought—he couldn't do this at U.A. where anyone could see him. The dorms would have to do. It was all he had.
He could barely feel his feet pounding on concrete as he ran towards the Heights Alliance for all he was worth, his thighs threatening to give out from beneath him because of how terribly he was shaking, because of how tightly he was clamping down on his urge to just collapse, to break, to submit. Fear was almost an afterthought, with how accustomed he was to its petrifying presence, as he had spent most of his days with the feeling sitting beneath his skin, seeping into his blood like venom and soaking him like rain. He was so close to just giving up, to curling up in a ball and just breaking, until the he looked up and found that he was almost to the doors.
As he burst through the front door, Kirishima and Kaminari's gazes fell on his shuddering form, catching him temporarily off-guard and granting him a moment's pause from his fears.
"Midoriya!" Izuku flinched, freezing in place as Kirishima called his name with a grin."Bro, where have you—"
Kirishima's grin fell as he got a good look at his classmate. His usually bright emerald eyes looked tired but fierce, almost animalistic. His green curls were much messier and unruly, as if he had attempted to tear the soft locks from his scalp. His stance was almost fearful, from his eyes darting everywhere to his trembling legs and the way he breathed in oxygen in short, erratic inhales, like a filly cornered by hounds. Kirishima raised his eyebrows in surprise, instantly concerned. "Midoriya? Are you—"
Kirishima was the last person that Midoriya would ever associate with Katsuki, what with the contrast between bright smile and haughty sneer, between cheerful guffaws and dark laughter, but the kindness and concern in his friend's eyes turned to scorn and hatred and he could practically hear the slurring, the growls, the yells, and the crackling that was always followed by p̴͖͈̱̬̻͙̟̩̓̄̓̓̓̍͗̕͘á̸̛͉̼̙̳̹̱͛̽̇͋͛͝͝i̴̡̛̦̗̝̮͒̈́͠ņ̵̞̜̳̳̼̞̩͔͚͑͂̃͋̃̏͠—
"I'm fine!" He yelped, bolting off once again.
He couldn't respond. Red. Red. All he could see was red.
Should he go to his room? No, no, despite his fit, despite him tearing down posters, it wasn't enough (you aren't enough you aren't enough) because there were eyes. All Might's eyes. Izuku knew that if he went in there, he'd feel the suffocating disappointment of his mentor, he couldn't go through that again.
Then where should he go?
Take a swan dive off the roof and pray you'll get a quirk in your next life, his mind seemed to hiss, more like a suggestion than a threat.
There weren't any stairs he could use, but that was good. That meant he could go up there and when people looked for him—
don't be silly Izuku, they wouldn't bother with the useless little brat that you are —they would conclude that he couldn't get up there without stairs.
He didn't have stairs, but he still had his quirk.
Not your quirk. Not yours, you impostor, you fraud, you pathetic little thief .
Ｎｏｂｏｄｙ ｗａｎｔｓ ｙｏｕ ｈｅｒｅ.
He didn't allow himself to break down in the middle of the hallway. What if someone found him? What would they think of him? He had already spent so much time earning their respect and building up trust and a bond and it would all come falling down once they find him sobbing and shaking pathetically in the halls. He couldn't afford it. He could not afford to lose anyone. His breath hitched.
People would whisper and his friends would leave him and they would talk behind his back and stay away from him and be afraid with him and be ashamed of him and—
Not now. He forced the panic down, just hold on. He forced himself to swallow, hearing himself make a sound too similar to a sob. Hold on.
He stumbled through a window, thinking of using his quirk—
Not yours. Was never yours.
He stumbled through a window, looking for footholds, hands finding purchase as they gripped something metal. Pipes.
He began to climb to the roof, clutching onto the metal and feet digging into any support he could find. He lunged for a little outcrop that was only good enough for one hand, before launching himself upward and landing safely on his bright red shoes as he found himself on the very high rooftop of the U.A. dorms.
Take a swan dive off the roof
and pray you'll get a quirk
in your n e x t l i f e
He was finally alone.
He feels the familiar wetness on his cheeks and the stinging in his eyes and he chokes out an empty laugh. Honestly, when would he run out of tears?
He could feel it, swelling inside him. The maelstrom of emotions—guilt, anger, fear, sadness, guilt, guilt, guilt—swirling in his mess of a mind, destroying everything in its path until nothing was left. It began to claw at his chest, desperately wanting to climb out and wrap its razor-sharp claws around Izuku's neck and squeeze—
He sank to his knees, a few rogue sobs escaping his throat as big tears rolled down his cheeks. Despite finally being alone, he was still attempting to swallow his tears. It was a lot like before U.A.
Him, alone, crying over stupid things, crying over the pain that Kacchan gave him, crying over the hurtful words, crying over the punches and slaps and kicks. He thought things have changed, but no. He was still a crybaby. He was still a worthless little Deku. He was still afraid. He was still alone.
Nothing has changed.
And for a moment, his world quiets. He can't muster up the energy to be shocked that at one of his highest points of distress brings him refuge in the form of silence.
He wanted to stay there forever, with the wind brushing through his hair like a whisper of a memory of his mother. Feeling like he was on top of the world, knowing his choice was the only thing that stood between him, life, and death, knowing that no one could find him up here. The princess seeking the dragon's lair. The cat indulging curiosity. The butterfly that could cause hurricanes on the other side of the world with a single beat of its wings, had it so wished.
He knew that this sudden equilibrium wasn't meant to last. This peace, however... maybe he could stay with it forever.
He glanced downward. Falling off would surely kill him. His foot shifted uncertainly, as if anticipating his decision.
No, no he couldn't do that. He would be putting all his mentor's work to waste. After all, he was supposed to help the world with this quirk, he wasn't supposed to be selfish, he couldn't afford to be selfish.
Do you really believe that would make a difference? You're still a screwup. You're still a mistake. What kind of Symbol of Peace would you be? You're revolting. An embarassment. No matter what kind of shitty quirk you could have gotten, it doesn't change the fact that the world would be a better place without you. Actually, you probably shouldn't jump off, knowing you and how stupid you are, you wouldn't even fucking die right. You would jump, and live to tell the tale. You would live to see their disappointed faces, their looks of caution and pity. You would break All Might's heart if you put all his work to waste, worthless fuckin' Deku that you are. No matter what you do, you'll never do it right. I bet you can't even open a door right. You can't eat right. You will always be doing something wrong, you will always be a Deku, a disappointment. Are you even breathing right?
Izuku wheezed, short pants leaving his mouth as he realized that the voice was right. He tried to slow down his breathing, tried to calm down, anything. But he couldn't do it.
You can't even fucking breathe right.
Ha! The only right way for you to breathe is not at all.
"Midoriya!" the sound of worried voices snapped him out of it. "Midoriya! Where are you?"
"Oi, Deku! Where the fuck are you, shitrag?"
"Midoriya-san? Where are you? Midoriya!"
"Young Midoriya? Where are you my boy?"
His breath caught in his throat. All Might was here. All Might was here.
Do you hear that? That's the sound of people looking for you, when they have better things to do than call out for a piece of trash like you. Honestly, you're just wasting their time, their efforts. How about you be useful for once and snap your neck? It's so simple, even a Deku like you couldn't possibly screw up. Besides, giving something as useless as you a life-altering wound to suffer from for the rest of your days isn't such a bad alternative.
Izuku could barely process his breathing thinning, shaking fingers clasping blindly onto his collarbone, clumsily sneaking upward, eyes unseeing as he felt around for the hard edge of his jaw.
Go on. You know where to place your hands, don't you? With how many times you've practiced, it'd be a miracle if you don't know.
All Might should have left you there. He should have let that slime villain swallow you right up, ridding the world of trash while he's at it. Katsuki should have burned you to a crisp when he had the chance. Honestly, you're such an inconvenience. Why do you have to make the people around you suffer by being there? Don't be selfish. You owe this to them.
His forefinger finds his pulse—quick, like that of a frightened rabbit, but he could feel himself moving, and that was a good thing, right? It meant he could still do something.
One more act. One thing he could do to spare the world the existence of one more thing to worry about. One more thing to add to his list of reasons dictating why Kacchan was going to be the best hero.
His fingers flutter to grasp his chin.
Good boy. Come on. You're almost there.
He didn't hear familiar voices grow louder, more desperate, more anxious. He didn't hear the panicked yells, the emotional breakdown. All he could hear was his blood roaring in his ears. He distantly noticed that he was slipping—his legs began to dangle over the edge of the roof. Ha, maybe the world was making sure that it would finish what he started. That would be a first—the world showing him such a mercy. He'd thank whatever god was out there in the afterlife. Or hell. Or maybe something as useless as him didn't even deserve a life after death, whether he was writhing in eternal pain or not.
His other hand finds purchase. Briefly, he marvels at how easy it would be to jerk his hands sharply and be done with it, or shift his weight a bit and let gravity do its thing.
And in that moment, the noise in his ears quiets, and he hears nothing, sees nothing, feels nothing, almost as though the universe was offering a final moment of silence after so much noise, of emptiness after so long of being filled to the brim with the buzzing of anxiety, like a deer ready to gallop at the slightest growl of a wolf.
In the back of his mind, he's glad his mother is gone. There's no one to keep him from shutting himself down now. No one to cash in a warranty for a broken product. No one.
For the first time, those two words feel comforting.
"Oi—Wait. Problem child?"
Then the world comes back to him.
He hears the birds singing, like a requiem that exuded regality to contrast the gloom of death. He could feel the sun brushing just slightly against his searing skin, like the first whisper of flame to welcome him into a sea of lava. The moment had been so picture-perfect, he'd have cried if he wasn't so disconnected with his brain in that moment.
But that voice—that familiar husk, the usual bored tone replaced by some sort of disbelief he wasn't accustomed to—might have made his heart stopped beating.
Without the relieving, numbing embrace of his own mind putting a damper on his senses, he felt everything. The stinging that trailed from his collarbone, to his chin, to the top of his head, the terror that screamed in his veins and froze his muscles, the sudden urge to do something, but stay still, to jump or twist, but remain unmoving driving him to a complete standstill. He suppressed his tears to the best of his ability and took a sharp inhale of breath—the edges of his sight were darkening and his chest felt heavy—and slowly turned his head. Emerald met onyx.
A traitorous tear slipped down his pale face and he had to remind himself to breathe. "Aizawa... sensei...?"
That voice cracked. It took him a moment to realize that it was his. He souned awful.
"Midoriya..." the normally cold and standoffish voice and eyes of his teacher softened. "Stay... Stay away from the edge." the underground pro hero swallowed. "Please."
"I'm so sorry." a soft, broken voice spoke, and it took Izuku a few seconds to realize that it was him speaking. Another tear ran down his tear-stained cheek as he scrambled to sit to face Aizawa, his sense returning to him and searing his face with red-hot shame. "I'm so, so sorry Sensei—"
Aizawa took a step forward, then hesitated. Izuku repressed a flinch. That. That look in his eyes, unsureness in place of his homeroom teacher's usual certainty sparking a flicker of irritation under Izuku's flesh that he quickly stomped out. It made his skin crawl, made him want to scrunch up his face in distaste.
(Later, he would recognize it as disgust. That pitying, fearful look revolted him.)
"Can I... Am I allowed to..."
No. Stay away. Stay away.
Instead he chokes out, "Of course you are, sensei—"
"No, Midoriya," interrupted the dark-haired man. "Be honest with me, kid. Look at me."
He didn't even realize that he had looked away.
"You're going to be okay now." Aizawa told him. "I'm not going to hurt you. Breathe, Midoriya."
He didn't notice that he had stopped breathing, either. He inhaled, and exhaled. He was too afraid and paranoid to do much else.
Let me go. Let me go,̞ l̴̼̟̟̳̋̓̑̍͊e̶̛͕̪̬̱̠̭͓̥͌ţ̴̥͉̟͙̿̏̔̓̑͂͂̍̏̅ ̵̢̛̗͉͖̰̈̋͝m̷̙̿͒̊̈͋͑ę̷̙̳̤̜̚ͅ ̴̢̩̱̹͌͑̚͘ǵ̷̪̳͎͙͚̰̊͜ͅo̵͖̔̅͛̒̍̽̆̃͂͝.̶̡̨̛͉̼̠̞̥̈́̅̕ͅ—
"Now, answer me honestly." Aizawa moved so Midoriya could look at him without raising his head too much. Izuku felt overwhelmed. His teacher's eyes were so earnest, so worried. It was the most emotion he had show around him, or class 1-A as a whole. "Am I allowed to get closer?"
"I—" he sputtered and choked on his words. He could only give a tiny nod before his terror came back to life. His makeshift dam easily broke as the tears came spilling back to make up for the time they were gone. He felt warm arms wrap around him carefully as he was pulled against a chest, and Midoriya flinched. "I-I'll ruin your shirt—"
"Doesn't matter." Aizawa told him. "You are my top priority right now, Midoriya. I've been soaked in blood before, you know. Nothing a new wardrobe won't fix."
He couldn't have resisted, even if he wanted to. He would have all but thrown his arms around his homeroom teacher had he been able, but it seemed that all the life was sucked out of him and all he could do was slump forward and bury his face into his teacher's shoulder, the man keeping him close, but not suffocating him as he wept and sniffled, his emotions spilling out of him almost silently—like he didn't even have enough energy to sob—as he still continued to mumble against Aizawa's chest.
"I—I know," he blubbered. "But it was so loud, and it was inside my head but I couldn't get it out and there was only one way and I wasn't about to—"
"Shhh," Aizawa soothed, hugging him back, resting his head on top of Midoriya's, soothing his trembling voice to silence. "It's okay. It's okay now, Izuku. You're fine. We'll protect you. I'll protect you. You're safe. I won't let you go until you want me to. Unless you want me to right now? It's alright, I'll stop hugging you if it makes you uncomfortable—I mean, not that I don't want to hug you, but—"
"Aizawa-sensei?" Midoriya's soft little voice asked shyly. "You—" Another heartbreaking sniffle. "I, you—you're, um, rambling."
"Oh." A moment of silence from the man managed to earn a smile from Izuku. His awkward unsureness felt refreshing. Knowing that Izuku wasn't alone in his complete and utter confusion was a comfort he didn't even know he needed until he got it and latched onto it and didn't let go. "I suppose I am."
"N-not that I think it's weird or anything!" he yelped, face flushing as he pulled away from Aizawa in a panic. "I m-mean, it would be a little hypocritical of me to tell you that it's weird s-since I do it a lot more often and—"
"Now you're rambling," Aizawa teased fondly and Midoriya froze because Aizawa can tease? "Problem child."
"I, I—" he swallowed his saliva, his cheeks reddening. "I, um. Yes. I suppose I am."
Aizawa chuckled, before becoming serious again. "Are you... a bit better now, then?"
"I—" Izuku faltered. Was he? He placed his forehead back to Aizawa's chest, secretly relishing his teacher's warm, fatherly embrace. "I—um—well... I. Don't know."
"How are you feeling."
Izuku couldn't choke down the humourless snort that he let out. "Terrible. So many feelings." He goes quiet, before lowering his voice to a spiteful, hesitant mumble. "I hate it."
"Hmm. How bad are these feelings?"
A pause. "It's-it's like—it's um—" He bites his tongue, forcing himself to shut up, before letting up on his teeth's pressure when his teacher gives him a disapproving look. "It's. A lot. Um."
"Come on then." Aizawa rolled his eyes, the action devoid of any irritation Izuku had anticipated. "What would Hizashi say... ah. Hug me forever, then, Izuku." Aizawa tightened the hug just enough for Izuku to react. He all but buried his face into Aizawa's shirt, breathing shakily. He even felt his teacher ruffle his messy curls, sighing in what was probably relief.
Izuku seemed to deflate, his eyelids threatening to fall shut and never open again. But he had to say something now, or he never would.
"I'm lost." He confessed, his voice barely above a rasp. "I. Don't know what to do."
Silence. Then, a reassuring hand rubbed his back soothingly.
"You don't have to figure it out on your own, problem child."
Izuku could have sworn he felt Aizawa chuckle light-heartedly when he yawned, resting his head on the man's shoulder.
"We'll figure it out together."