It didn't take long for the teachers to wrap the lesson up and release the students.
Midoriya yawned, trudging back to the parking lots behind Aizawa, Kota and Shinsou walking beside him.
"Is he okay?" Yamada asked, "I've never seen him so tired before. Besides from that time he nearly fell off a building-"
"He what!?" Shinsou and Kota screeched, turning to face Midoriya, who was jolted to attention.
"What? What are we talking about?"
"You almost fell off a building!?"
"That was one time! And it was an accident! I was tired!" Midoriya protested, as Yamada started the engine. Aizawa climbed into the seat beside Yamada, and ordered the kids to get into the backseat.
Kota climbed in first, followed by Midoriya, then Shinsou, both children berating Midoriya for not sleeping well and putting himself into needless danger.
"Sleep!" Shinsou ordered, though all of them could tell that Midoriya was swaying tiredly in the backseat, leaning into the chair.
"Yeah.. yeah… okay…" Midoriya mumbled, but every time the car moved, or a horn rang out, Midoriya would be jolted awake.
It had taken them some time to drive back. They had passed a mall on the way home, and while Aizawa did feel tempted to just buy something back for dinner, he wasn't sure if any of the food was suitable for Midoriya's sensitive stomach.
He just decided to cook some soup and noodles. It didn't take much effort, didn't take too long to cook, and he could just throw some vegetables into the mix.
Yamada threw the door open, and Aizawa dumped his capture weapon on the table, before he tied his hair into a messy bun and proceeded to head to the kitchen.
"Hitoshi, Izuku, maybe show Kota the room? Dinner should be ready in about half an hour." He called out.
"Okay! Kota, let's go!" He heard Shinsou reply, but there was no sound made from Midoriya at all.
He peeked his head out of the kitchen in concern, hearing Kota and Shinsou excitedly talking about something or the other, and found Midoriya lying face first on the sofa, snoring gently, not even taking off his uniform jacket or changing into something more comfortable.
He just sighed, and went back to cooking.
Thank goodness it was Saturday tomorrow. He's going to force him to sleep in.
"Dinner." Aizawa sighed as he took the plates into the dining room. Yamada was watching the news, and Midoriya was still sleeping on the sofa. Shinsou and Kota were sitting near Midoriya's legs, on the ground, watching as Nishiya nabbed another purse snatcher.
"Hey, Zuku, wake up!" Yamada nudged the boy gently, and Midoriya grumbled, before turning over and pulling a pillow over his face. Shinsou laughed, and jumped off the sofa, tugging at the pillow to remove it from Midoriya's grasp. Kota joined him a few seconds later, and together, they managed to dislodge the pillow from his grip, but they all knew that Midoriya wasn't really trying.
"Come on, you can sleep later!" Yamada whined, nudging Midoriya again, and Midoriya groggily opened his eyes. Yamada looked back at him, "Come on, you lazy butt."
"Rude. I like to see you try to live on nothing but soup." Midoriya chuckled dryly, and Yamada pulled the tired boy up into a sitting position. Midoriya scratched his neck, yawned, and stood up, plonking himself at his usual seat at the dining table, before he folded his arms and lay his head down.
"Izuku I just woke you up!"
"Five more minutes…"
Aizawa just sighed, as the two kids joined them at the dining table, laughing at the pro hero who was acting like a five year old as he pouted at the half asleep Midoriya.
"Izuku, just, eat faster. Then bathe, we'll change the bandages, and then you can sleep, okay?"
Midoriya mumbled out something incoherent, raising his head and reaching for the spoon as Yamada pushed a bowl of soup with carrots and radishes in them. He yawned again, before he started on his soup.
"So, Shouta ended up jumping, and we found him hanging from the ceiling by his capture weapon!" Yamada grinned, as he entertained Shinsou and Kota by telling them silly stories of Aizawa.
"Excuse me, you screeched as well." Aizawa hissed, "And I was napping at the time when you did so. I had to use my quirk on you so you wouldn't deafen everyone a second time."
"It was horrible! Admit it!"
"Zashi, it was literally just a mosquito."
"Hey, you can get dengue from mosquitoes!"
Shinsou and Kota watched the friendly banter, before Midoriya placed his spoon down, and yawned.
"I'll go take a shower now, Sensei."
"Alright." Aizawa replied, as Midoriya headed to his room. "I'll help you with the bandages."
"Do we need to get Kota clothes?" Yamada asked.
"He can wear mine!" Shinsou grinned.
"Are we the same size?" Kota asked.
"If you aren't, you can wear Izu's." Shinsou cheekily replied, as Kota spluttered, "What!? I can't fit in them!"
"Sure you can!"
The two kids ended up playfully wrestling as they argued about clothes.
"Oh yeah, don't we have to move to the dorms?" Yamada asked, as he gathered the dishes, "Shou, you're moving, right?"
"I'm the homeroom teacher. I don't really have a choice." Aizawa shrugged as he wiped his hands and headed to the bathroom. "But you're the teacher for class 1-F so I guess you have to move too."
"What do the rooms look like?" Shinsou asked, stopping his wrestle with Kota.
"Is it big?" Kota asked.
"I don't know, really. Nezu asked Cementoss to build them, but we haven't really seen them yet." Yamada shrugged.
"Oh, yeah. Listener hasn't met all the staff yet. Maybe you missed him just now. He's the one that looks like a block." Yamada nodded, as Shinsou jumped off his chair and ran off, coming back a few minutes later with a notebook.
"Here. Izu made notes on everyone." He handed the notebook over to Kota, and he flipped it open looking intently at the sketches and scribbles that adorned the pages. He carefully flipped through them, recognising a few of Midoriya's classmates, as well as Yagi, Ectoplasm, and Cementoss. He remembered seeing the guy making concrete blocks for everyone.
"Don't take too long." Aizawa called out as he exited the bathroom, bandages in his hands, as he sighed and tossed them in the trash.
"How is he?" Yamada asked, as Shinsou and Kota looked up to face the troubled pro hero.
"His injuries are healing, that's for sure. If he rests properly, Recovery Girl can fix him up to a hundred percent. But he's always been a light sleeper, and he's forced himself to work with little to no rest. Given that he's susceptible to panic attacks as well, I'm just afraid that he'll end up injuring himself." Aizawa sighed, "Also, we should bring him to see Hound Dog tomorrow, maybe after Tsukauchi's done."
"Tsukki is coming?" Shinsou asked.
"Yeah, investigation stuff. We can't really help it." Aizawa shrugged, "Kota, do you mind if he asks you some questions as well? You don't have to answer anything if you don't want to. It's about the training camp… and the… kidnapping..."
Kota flinched, hitting his elbow against table as he did so. He rubbed his arm, and stammered, "I … I don't…. Can… can Izu be there too?"
"Yeah. We'll all be there unless Tsukauchi drives us out of the room. But given that most of us were there, or were involved somehow..." He eyed Yamada, who frowned back at him, "We'll probably be allowed to stay."
The click of a bathroom door rang out, and Midoriya peeked his head out, wearing shorts with his towel sitting in his mostly green fluffy hair as he tried to dry it, "Uh ... where are the bandages?"
Aizawa just made a move for his room and sighed, "Stay there."
But Shinsou and Kota had already caught sight of Midoriya. His chest was littered with scars that stood out against his pale skin, stitches and scabs filling in any skin that was unblemished. Despite eating properly for the past few weeks before the training camp, his ribs could clearly be seen.
Shinsou and Kota looked at Midoriya, full of guilt. Shinsou grabbed at the hem of his shirt, fiddling with it nervously, and Kota rubbed at his arms.
"You two okay?" Midoriya asked, waiting for Aizawa to retrieve the bandages. The pro finally emerged, antiseptic and bandages in hand, and ordered Midoriya to sit.
Aizawa gently applied the antiseptic to Midoriya's unhealed wounds, watching him carefully in case he applied too much pressure and hurt him, but Midoriya just kept his gaze on the two kids he had practically adopted.
"It's not your fault, you know. Stop blaming yourselves." Midoriya gave a tired grin, as Aizawa started wrapping bandages around his torso. "It's ... not pretty, isn't it?"
Kota looked like he wanted to puke seeing the sheer amount of injuries that Midoriya had, and Shinsou glanced at the long scar that spanned from Midoriya's shoulder to his hip as it slowly disappeared under the bandages.
Aizawa remained silent. This was something between Midoriya, Kota and Shinsou. Midoriya got these scars to save and protect them. Aizawa wasn't anywhere remotely near them when his adopted kid was tortured to near death.
He had no right to say anything, and he buried the shame he felt at being a horrible parent, even if he had only been one or two months at maximum.
Aizawa moved on to Midoriya's arms, eyeing the fading bruises around his neck with concern. That collar that Yagi reported had clearly done some lasting damage.
Midoriya slipped on his shirt, and got off his chair. He stretched his arms open, "Come here."
Shinsou and Kota scrambled off their chairs, diving into Midoriya's hug while being careful not to aggravate anything else, and Midoriya wrapped his arms around them.
"It's fine, okay? We're all here."
It was like a switch had been flipped. The floodgates had been opened, and Shinsou and Kota were sobbing into Midoriya's chest.
"They said you were gone ... and I saw you fall…. And then….. I couldn't ..." Shinsou sniffled, wrapping his arms around Midoriya's neck.
"They…. They did that…. And…. you just…." Kota whispered, clutching at Midoriya's shirt, as if afraid that the second he let go, Midoriya would disappear.
"Don't leave… ever again… please… Izu…" Shinsou whimpered, burying his head in the crook of Midoriya's neck, trembling. Kota was quivering, his knuckles having turned white from grabbing Midoriya's shirt so tightly.
The stress of what had just transpired the past few weeks was finally getting to them. Shinsou's complete breaking down, Kota being forced to watch villains hurt the first person that he bonded with and no longer being able to trust the only people he had interacted with and took care of him, Midoriya's own recovery, panic attacks and the revelation that the quirks he had no say in receiving were actively affecting his own emotions and sense of perception, all of them were just like tightly wound up springs that would snap at any moment.
Midoriya ran his fingers through Kota and Shinsou's hair, tears forming in his own eyes as he tried to blink them away. He pulled them closer, and with his enhanced hearing, he could hear their heartbeats, beating erratically, pounding in stress and fear over everything that had transpired, and remembering what had happened, in relief, that everything was over, that they were safe, and most importantly, alive.
"I won't leave. I'll be right here, okay? I won't leave again."
His voice started cracking in the end, and Yamada pulled Aizawa away to give the children some space.
Aizawa let him do so without any resistance, his eyes glued on the three kids who were crying on the ground.
It was a really long time until the kids calmed down from sobbing their hearts out, and Yamada ushered them into the bathroom to bathe.
Midoriya was sitting on the floor outside the bathroom, holding a conversation with the kids even if they couldn't hear him very well with all the water splashing around.
They soon exited, with clean clothes, and after a few minutes of rubbing a dry towel through their hair, Midoriya found himself lying on his bed, Shinsou lying on his shoulder and Kota grabbing his other arm, as Aizawa shut the door, leaving them in darkness.
Aizawa sank to the ground outside their door, breathing heavily.
Yamada made his way to Aizawa's side, squatting down and placing his hands on his shoulders.
"Shouta, you alright? If it's about the kids -"
"Izuku's just fifteen…" Aizawa started saying, "Kota and Hitoshi are six. They've just barely started to live….. And it's just been one tragedy after another in rapid succession. At this point, I'm just wondering what kind of terrible misfortune Midoriya will have to save this fourth child, that Todoroki keeps harping about, from."
"It shouldn't have happened. We can't do anything about it now. Izuku's trying to be strong for Kota and Hitoshi, the least we can do is be there for them too."
"Can't you see a problem here? That empathic quirk is a horrible match up for Izuku." Aizawa hissed. "This entire time, Izuku has survived as a vigilante and as a student by not letting his emotions get to his head and affect how he thinks. Amplifying those emotions will make it harder for him to make decisions from now on given that it will take more effort to push them aside."
They fell silent.
"He doesn't even want the quirks. It's ironic, really." Aizawa sighed. "Izuku and Shinsou just want to be free from the prejudices that tied them down. Now, Izuku is being chained down by the very same thing that set him apart from everyone else."
They didn't know that Midoriya could hear them from inside the room.
Midoriya closed his eyes, and sighed.
Birds were free. They could fly. They went against gravity. Midoriya wanted to break free, to fly higher than everyone else even if he lacked a quirk.
He didn't want to literally be able to become a bird.
Midoriya let himself sink beneath the surface, exhaustion clouding his mind, sending him into a haze as he tried to process all his memories and thoughts. Midoriya didn't know how much time had passed until his brain finally decided that it was time to rest, and he relished in the silence his head was finally providing.
A scream tore through the air, emanating from one of the kids who was lying next to him.