"So you either work with me, and we help each other, or I'll just investigate and rescue the kid myself."
That was what Midoriya had said when they met on that rooftop, ten months ago.
He was a qualified pro hero. He had trained for three years in UA, passed the provisional licence exam. He had the equipment.
Most of all, he was the adult. He should be the one risking his life and fighting villains.
Izuku should be focussing on his studies, hanging out, making friends. He shouldn't be out, fighting villains, running from heroes, pushing himself to the brink of collapse and death.
Aizawa felt like he had failed both Midoriya and Shinsou so badly. He paced outside the infirmary, and Yamanda tossed him a packet of coffee that Kayama had given them before she had left the school. He swiftly caught the packet drink, and jabbed the straw in, taking a sip without even missing a beat.
"Calm down, Shou. He'll be fine. He's a tough kid. He won't go down so easily." Yamada tried to reassure the Erasure Hero, to no avail.
"Exactly. He pushes himself way too much. We don't even know how far past his limit he pushed himself before Kayama had to make him pass out." Aizawa hissed, running his hand through his unkempt black hair absentmindedly.
It was then a loud click resonated throughout the deserted hallway, echoing in the silence.
Yamada and Aizawa both turned to face Shuzenji.
"How are they?" Aizawa immediately rushed up and asked, and Yamada was seriouslu considering restraining him in case he decided to try and barge into the infirmary the five times before and was caught by Kayama, Yagi, and Snipe.
"Shinsou's fine for now, physically. A few cracked ribs, some broken bones, quite a few deep cuts. He didn't have much energy left, but he did wake up after Midnight's quirk wore off and it was enough for me to heal up to worse of the damage. He's suffering from dehydration and malnutrition mostly, and he needs a lot of rest. Depending on his mental state when he wakes up, he's probably going to need therapy."
Yamada nodded. No child should have to go through something like that.
"What about Izuku?"
"He's... alive. We're all lucky for that. Broken ribs and bones, a pierced lung, horrible lacerations, disorientation, muscles tears, and severe anemia, not to mention dehydration, malnutrition, extreme exhaustion and infections. I managed to patch him up with surgery, so he's in no danger now, but I can't heal anything else until he gets some decent rest. I'm already gave him antibiotics to flush out the infection, but once he regains his strength he'll be fine."
Shuzenji paused, and sighed, "That boy needs to take more care of himself. He has a lot of injuries, a lot of them sewn together pretty poorly, in my opinion. He already lost a lot if blood. Severe anemia can lead to heart attacks or even strokes. If Midnight hadn't practically knocked him out, I fear he might actually end up killing himself. And I have no idea how he was still stumbling around just now. He's practically running on fumes at that point, and even that doesn't fully explain the entire situation."
Aizawa and Yamada both gulped.
"Can.. we see them?" Aizawa hesitantly asked.
"Sure. Just be quiet. Shinsou apparently has insomnia. He probably won't wake up yet but just as a precaution. I'll be back in a few minutes to check on him and replace Midoriya's bandages. Feel free to stay overnight if you want. It will be good to have an extra helping hand and another pair of eyes to keep an eye on them."
Aizawa and Yamada made their way into the infirmary, careful not to bump into anything as they walked to the end of the room by the window.
Shinsou was curled up on one bed, tucking his head under the blanket. Even when asleep, Aizawa could clearly see the slight tensing of his muscles, twitching under the covers, and the furrowed brows on the small child's face.
Aizawa carefully sat down on Shinsou's bed, gently caressing the smaller boy's back. Shinsou relaxed slightly, and uncurled by the tiniest bit, and let out a small squeak which Aizawa hated to admit, sounded absolutely adorable.
Aizawa turned his attention to the green haired boy lying on to bed next to them. He was all covered in bandages, had an IV drip, and all sorts of other machines connected to him. The steady beeping of the heart rate monitor and the faint rising and falling of his bandaged chest reminded Aizawa of the fact that his problem child had almost died. Almost died trying to save and protect Shinsou.
Just what had they gone through that made Midoriya like this?
He had already seen how Shinsou was treated in his school through the cameras. Bullied, ignored, the teachers didn't like him. But even from those, he wouldn't be able to see the full extent of the mental state of the poor child. Heck, up until now, Aizawa was pretty certain that Midoriya was the only positive influence in his life up until now, and him alone.
Aizawa did do a brief check of Midoriya's records after the Sports Festival, since as the winner, and from his previous placing in the entrance exam, he was to be transfered into the Hero course.
His address was that of a post office. He had no contacts under guardians or parents. His school fees in UA were paid pure in cash. Aizawa checked Shinsou's preschool and Aldera Junior High's records as well. Both were also paid in cash. He had also questioned Bakugou for Midoriya's address, and had asked a couple of his neighbours about the green haired child. According to them, he ran errands all the time to pay off any fees he had, and that he had been taking care of the smaller child the entire time, while keeping up his grades and working.
Aizawa had to admire the determination and drive the green haired boy had, but one question was still lingering in his head.
Who took care of him? Why was he acting like the adult of the house, paying for school and running errands and taking care of kids when he should be hanging out with other people his own age?
Aizawa understood that being quirkless, it was a lot harder for him to hang out. Quirkless people made up twenty percent of the population, but most of them were of the older generations. Now, it was practically unheard of for people to be born quirkless. The fact that he had been bullied before, according to the rumours (after all, rumours did have to have some sort of a basis), showed just how badly he had been discriminated.
Maybe that was why Shinsou and Midoriya cared about each other so much. They both suffered discrimination. They were both hurt so much by the world around them.
And how the heck did he not make the connection sooner? How did he not realise that Midoriya was Akatani? Midoriya was absent during the USJ attack. He seemed to know a lot about the case even though he shouldn't be able to get that kind of information. The day right after the Sports Festival, a Friday, and Midoriya was absent again, on the very day the broadcasts started.
Aizawa had honestly thought that the boy was just tired and slept in or something.
Then it hit him. Midoriya spent all day for ten months gathering information, and all night patrolling as Akatani.
When the heck did he ever rest?!
Aizawa bit his lip as he gazed at Yamada, who had taken a seat in a chair beside Midoriya's bed.
"He pushed himself too far. He's gonna burn himself out." Aizawa gulped. The thought of Midoriya dying left a horrible taste in his mouth, and he felt the faint urge to throw up.
He didn't want to admit it, but he had come to enjoy the boy's presence. Midoriya's brashness, his determination, his drive and will, his alter persona's sass and cheekiness. Midoriya was unqiue, truly one of a kind. He had the drive stronger than that of most other heroes.
"I can see how you're so attached already." Yamada's voice rang out, and Aizawa blinked, realising that he had been lost in his thoughts for some time. "You practically treat them like they're your own kids."
Aizawa made no comment. He had unconsciously moved his hand to ruffle Shinsou's hair, and the smaller child seemed to like it as he relaxed further.
Neither hero said a thing, until Yamada broke the silence again.
"He's like a cat. He'll get along well with Kuro."
Aizawa shot Yamada a weird look as he compared the six year old to his cat.
"He's starved for attention, even subconsciously." Aizawa slouched over, still keeping contact with Shinsou, "You didn't see the security cameras at his preschool. He has no friends, his teachers don't like him... he got locked in a closet once for the entire day."
Yamada made a small, strangled noise.
"Izuku's doing his best, but there's only so much he can do. It's not healthy for either of them." Aizawa sighed. "Like things weren't worse enough from that. With the kidnapping, and what we saw on the broadcasts... both of them are going to need a lot of help. They're both lucky they're both safe and alive now. If either one of them didn't make it out of this... they would break. I'm not sure about Hitoshi but... Izuku will definitely break down. He's strong, but this entire time he's been wearing himself out and working himself down to the bone with his goal of saving Hitoshi in any way. If... if he never found Hitoshi..."
"Hey. Calm down. They're both here now, alive and... mostly well. They'll get better once they wake up." Yamada spoke up, "Sure, Recovery Girl said Izuku will take some time to recover, but they have the time now. They're safe here at UA. Izuku's tough, and he's gonna transfer to your class, right? So you can keep an eye on him as well. And now that Hitoshi's saved, he'll have no reason to be vigilante-ing around. I have a feeling that lull in Akatani activities that time was because of Hitoshi."
"What if they's another USJ incident? Izuku practically saved us that time. If he wasn't there that time... who knows what could have happened? We all could have died! And his vigilante persona is practically exposed to a quarter of the hero course students..."
"You always were a worrier, Shouta. You were never really that vocal about it, but Nemuri, Tensei and I could always tell, you know." Yamada sighed, carefully manoeuvring around Midoriya's bed so as to not hit any of the equipment, and moved to sit beside Aizawa, "Nezu's upped security, didn't he? Plus, if they do attack again, we can just get Izuku to hack everything again and smash the villains with cranes and earthquakes like some kind of deity god on a high. We all got a good laugh watching the security cameras of that day, you know."
Yamada was trying to joke to cheer his friend up, but it clearly wasn't working ad Aizawa slouched even further.
"He's gonna get questioned. Hitoshi as well. People are going to want to know what happened to them. Endeavor ain't gonna be happy about all this, and I'm sure the other four heroes, especially Hawks, are gonna be curious about Izuku's identity."
"You don't get it, Zashi." Aizawa hissed in frustration, "They both suffered from discrimination for quirks. Hitoshi's being targetted by bullies. Both of them in particular were being targetted by whoever kidnapped them. Now, the whole world knows about them and they're gonna ask questions. Once they find out they're quirks?! They'll be victims of discrimination all over again. People don't like anomalies. They don't like what's different. Both of them are gonna suffer out there whether we all like it or not."
Aizawa sighed again, and closed his eyes, "They've already been through so much. Too much. They don't deserve any of this."
"But that's why you wanna take em in, don't ya. Cause you know how it feels to be pushed down by everyone else and you want to give them the support that wad denied to them for years."
Aizawa remained silent. Yamada had hit the mark. Aizawa's Erasure quirk was never the flashiest, and his floating hair and glowing red eyes had always put others off. He had a hard time making friends as a kid, and had poured all his efforts into training. If it weren't for Yamada, Kayama and Tensei, the first friends he had ever made, he was pretty sure things would have gone a lot more differently.
"I want to help them. But..."
"You think you're not qualified. Izuku took charge and saved you guys at the USJ. He was the one that got Hitoshi out of that hellhole, and you think you won't be able to do what he did. He's been taking care of Hitoshi for so long and you think that by trying to help, you'll end up pushing them away."
Aizawa cursed internally. Why the heck did Yamada know him so well!?
"Look. Izuku trusts us. He told Hitoshi to trust us. He let you get close, and no one else while he was disorientated. I'm pretty sure he won't push you away." Yamada pat Aizawa's back, before standing up.
"I'm going home first. You wanna stay, don't you?"
"Yeah. I'll pick some stuff up for you for breakfast. If you need anything, just send a message."
Yamada left the room, and Aizawa carefully untangled his fingers from Shinsou's hair. He watched with a hint of fondness as Shinsou gave a small whine, and stretched out under the blankets before turning around and curling up again. Aizawa stood up, standing next to Midoriya's bed, watching his chest rise and fall as he lay limply on the infirmary bed. His green hair was dirty with blood, but there was no way to clean it until he wakes up and is able to actually shower. Aizawa noticed just how bad the teenager's eye bags were. He remembered how light the kid was in his arms as he carried him to a hurry to the infirmary.
He didn't like how pale the teenager was, how much blood he had been covered in, how torn and tattered his jacket was, how dented that metal mask around his neck was and the bruises around the poor kid's neck that was probably the result of the metal being pressed or bashed against his neck for such a long time. He didn't like the blood that was starting to seep through the bandages, showing just a few of who knew how many injuries and how much he had tried to protect his little brother.
As far as he knew, Shinsou had not taken a single hit since Midoriya had been chained up next to him.
He almost jumped when the door to the infirmary opened, and Shuzenji walked in, a roll of bandages in one hand and antiseptic in the other.
"Go wash your hands, and put these on." She instructed, tossing a box of surgical gloves in his direction.
Aizawa followed her orders without any protest, and soon, he was standing next to Shuzenji with his sleeves rolled up, his capture weapon deposited on a chair in her office and his hair tied up in a bun. He could only watch, with the bandages and antiseptic, as Shuzenji carefully peeled away the bandages on Midoriya's arms.
His eyes widened as he looked at the sheer multitude of scars that donned the child's arms. Some of them were stitched up, some of them were still bleeding slightly, and he mutely passed Shuzenji the items and she went about cleaning the wounds, before wrapping the arm up with fresh bandages. They repeated the procedure on his other arm and both his legs, and Aizawa was on the brink of just storming out of the infirmary and give those villains that did this to his kid what they deserve.
Then Shuzenji carefully sliced through the bandages on Midoriya's chest, and Aizawa bit his tongue. Midoriya had a huge, jagged injury running from his right shoulder right down his left hip, with a multitude of other burns and wounds adorning his chest. They were all stitched up, of course, but Aizawa just felt sick looking at it. He couldn't tell how deep the wound was, but an injury as big as that was definitely not good.
How did he managed to move around with that kind of injury and run all over the place?!
He didn't notice any other stitches large enough for Shuzenji to operate on his lung and broken ribs, but just as he was about to ask, Shuzenji seemed to read his mind.
"That one. It's ironic. It was almost a perfectly aimed slash for me to fix his ribs and lung."
Aizawa swallowed, as Shuzenji cleaned up the stitched up wounds and re-bandaged his chest, with help from the younger pro hero, before she retreated back to her office.
Aizawa just washed his hands, trying to get the memory of Midoriya's injuries out of his head. He retrieved his sleeping bag from the closet (he always left sleeping bags everywhere), and tucked himself into the corner of the room by Midoriya and Shinsou's bag, before slumping down, eyes drooping.
They didn't deserve this.
Not Hitoshi. Not Izuku.
I need to help them.