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"I'll just have to be the first."

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For five years, Inko Midoriya had allowed herself to wear heavily tinted rose-colored glasses. She didn’t allow herself to question the excuses Izuku gave when he came home bruised and bloodied. Of course, her baby boy was inevitably going to fall down a few times while playing with his friends. As long as she didn’t think too hard, there was nothing to be worried about.

The rose-tinted glasses had to come off eventually.

Inko hears the front door open then close, followed immediately by Izuku calling out, “I’m home!”

“Welcome home, Izuku!” Inko calls back, smiling softly as she waits for Izuku’s usual reply of the events of his day. When it doesn’t come, she frowns a bit and sets down the plate she was washing. After pulling off the rubber gloves, Inko heads into the hallway to check on her son. 

Izuku is sitting down, pulling his shoes off. “Izuku, honey, is everything okay?” she asks. 

No response. 

Inko takes a step forward only to stop when Izuku stands up and turns around to see her. He blinks, holding his arms out slightly like he’s dizzy and needs to regain his balance, and then smiles at her, but Inko can’t find it in herself to smile back. In all honesty, she’s in shock. 

Izuku’s ears and the skin near them, reaching just beyond the top of his cheekbones, are red and blistering. The scars themselves seem to be shaped almost like the action bubbles in graphic novels, different length spikes jutting outwards from the center point each of his ears acts as. The hair around his ears is brittle and host to seemingly endless split ends from whatever happened. There are little trails of blood coming out of Izuku’s ears, staining the shoulders of his shirt. On his arms are dark bruises in the shape of hands like he’d been held down and had struggled to be let up. Despite all of this, Izuku still smiles at her. Inko wonders if he’s just that strong or if a combination of shock and adrenaline are protecting him from the pain. 

“Mom? What’s wrong?” Izuku asks, looking worried when she still doesn’t smile at him. 

Inko tears up and quickly wipes them away. She needs to be strong right now. “Put your shoes back on Izuku. We’re going to the hospital,” she tells him. 

She sees the moment Izuku realizes something is wrong. The way his face scrunches slightly in confusion before his eyes widen with fear. “M-mom? I-I didn’t hear what you said,” he tells her, his breathing starting to pick up a bit. 

Inko immediately falls to her knees in front of him, holding him gently by the arms. “Deep breaths, honey,” she says. She takes an exaggerated breath, symbolizing the action by taking one of her hands and raising it from her navel to her chest. Then she does an equally exaggerated exhale, moving her hand downwards from chest to navel. 

After a few seconds, Izuku understands what she wants. He grabs her hand, gripping it tightly as he breathes deeply with her. Once he’s calm, Inko points to Izuku, then to the spot on the floor, and then holds a finger up as she says, “Stay here for a moment. I’ll be right back.”

She waits for Izuku to nod before smiling reassuringly and getting up. Inko heads into Izuku’s room and grabs a spare backpack. It’s All Might themed and beat up from years of use. She packs a few notebooks, some changes of clothes, and two plush heroes (All Might and Present Mic) before zipping the bag up. 

Once that’s packed, Inko grabs a few snacks from the kitchen. She doesn’t know how long they’ll be at the hospital and she doesn’t want Izuku to get hungry. Her purse is the final thing and then she’s back in the entryway with Izuku.

While she was gone, Izuku had pulled his shoes back on. He’s staring down the hall, obviously waiting for her if the way he lights up is any indication whatsoever. Inko forces herself to smile for his sake. She crouches in front of Izuku, pulls out a notebook and a pen, and writes, Izuku, honey, I think your ears must be hurting a lot, so we’re going to go to the doctor to get them checked.

Izuku reads over the message she shows him twice before slowly nodding. “Okay, mom,” he says, looking up at her. He blinks and frowns, crossing his eyes to look down at his mouth. Izuku raises a hand to his lips and once again says, “Okay, mom.”

It takes a moment for Inko to realize that Izuku must not be able to hear even himself right now. She gently grabs his hand and squeezes it before writing, I can hear you, Izuku. Put on your bag and let’s get going.

Izuku bites his lip as he nods, tearing up as he grabs his bag. Inko hates seeing him in so much pain. Once the bag is on his back, she reaches down and picks him up, something she hasn’t done in a while. Still, there’s nothing that fuels a mother's strength quite like seeing her child in pain. 

Once he’s settled, forehead pressed to her shoulder and careful to make sure his left ear doesn’t bump into her neck, Inko picks up her purse and leaves. She locks the door behind her, double-checking out of habit before getting a determined look and heading to the nearby hospital. 

Four hours. It had taken four hours for a doctor to come into the room Izuku had been placed in. Granted, nurses had seen the state of his ears and got to work disinfecting and wrapping them as best they could, but still. Four hours. 

Inko supposes she should be more understanding, given the fact that a villain with a disastrous quirk apparently attacked nearby. But what’s thirty people with broken bones when her child can’t hear

Inko forces herself to take a deep breath when Izuku tugs on her sleeve and gives her a worried look. He’s already stopped talking, too disturbed by the inability to hear his own words. She smiles gently and glances at the clock. 

Four hours is much too long to just sit around in a room. She picks up the pencil lying on top of the notebook between them. I’m going to go ask a nurse if we can take a quick walk. Just to get a stretch in.

She waits for Izuku to read and nod before getting up. Inko quickly presses a kiss to her son’s forehead before leaving the room. There’s a nurse’s station right across from it, so she heads right up to the desk and smiles politely at the man there. 

“Sorry for bothering you, but could my son and I take a quick walk? We’ve been cooped up in that hospital room for a while now and would just like to stretch,” she says. 

The nurse hums softly in thought. “Let me make sure it’s okay with the doctor. I'll let you know in a minute,” the nurse promises. The nurse then gets up, looking around for a moment. He must spot the doctor because he leaves the station and walks towards a group of people. 

Inko watches him for a moment before going back into Izuku’s room. She leaves the door open for now, just so they feel a little less trapped. She holds up a finger to Izuku, signaling that they’ll know in a moment. 

Thankfully, the nurse doesn’t disappoint. He comes to their room ten minutes later, knocking on the door lightly to pull Inko’s attention away from her phone. “The doctor said it’s fine for Izuku to walk, Ms. Midoriya. She noticed your son’s plush toys and wanted me to let you know that Present Mic is currently visiting the children’s ward if you think Izuku would like to meet him. It’s still going to be a little while before any of the doctors will be able to see him,” he explains. 

It’s certainly not the explanation Inko wanted, but she knows that meeting Present Mic will definitely make her son’s day. He needs some kind of happy memory associated with today. “Will it be okay? The nurse before said Izuku would be sensitive to loud noises,” she says. 

“I’ll come with you and speak to Present Mic and the other kids beforehand. They’re all pretty understanding about when they need to be quiet,” the nurse promises. 

Inko considers for a moment, looking down at Izuku. Her sweet boy is looking between the two, confused and obviously frustrated with his current impairment. Yeah, getting to meet a hero will definitely make him feel better. “Okay, that sounds good. Thank you,” she finally says. 

The nurse smiles brightly at them. Inko helps Izuku out of the bed, grabbing the notebook and pencil before giving him the Present Mic plush. He holds tightly onto her hand as she follows the nurse out of the room and down the hall. 

It’s clear when they’ve entered the children’s ward. Suddenly the walls are filled with color, bright paintings making the place a little less clinical for the sake of children who have to be there long-term. Inko can also hear Present Mic when they get closer. She can’t make out words just yet, but she’s heard his voice enough times during news interviews to recognize it. 

They stop outside the doors to the playroom where Present Mic and the other kids are. The nurse looks over as he places a hand on the knob. “Just a moment,” he says, waiting for Inko to nod before slipping in and making sure the door shuts behind him.