- Zuku, you tossed the ball too far away!! Now we have to go look out for it before night comes.
- I'm so sorry, Toshi-nii! I'll fetch it, don't worry, I know which direction it went. I won't take long.
- Be quick, and call me if you need my help. I'll wait for you on that bench, all right?
- Okay!! I'll be right back!
And so little Izuku went searching for the red ball, which had ended up getting stuck in the middle of the forest that surrounded his house. His big brother, Hitoshi, had suggested going out to play with it after school, once he saw that his little brother was a little bit anxious that day.
Why was he anxious, you may ask? Well, it was because their parents would be coming back from their trip to Tokyo (which was made because of a secret mission, or so they said), and Izuku had been really nervous about them having trouble coming back (like missing the plane, or their passports, or their bags; basically anything that could -and would- go wrong if they were not careful).
The brothers were rarely left by themselves, and when they were it was under the careful watch of their Uncle Toshinori, but this time he was coming along in the trip, and so their only adult supervision came from the nice old lady that lived next door, who, kindly, made sure the kids were fed and safe.
Hitoshi wasn't afraid of having to take care of Izuku, not by a long shot, but he was, admittedly, a bit stressed-out by not having their parents around, which was understandable all things considered (he was still young, after all).
Izuku, thankfully, was a kind and sweet child, very well behaved for his shortage, and so he didn't put much pressure in his older brother's shoulders, a thing that only made Hitoshi love and value him even more.
That's what Hitoshi was thinking of, among other idle things, when he heard a yell coming from the direction Izuku went to retrieve the ball. A little bit worried -but not much, because his little brother had the tendency to scream for a lot of regular things- he made his way toward the sound.
He found Izuku hunched over himself, with an arm wrapped around his middle zone. He seemed to be in pain, by the way, his face was contorting, and his lips were pursed. The red ball was nowhere to be seen.
- Zuku!! What happened?! Are you feeling okay? Do you feel sick?
The little boy smiled a little, trying to adopt a more relaxed body posture (and failing miserably).
- I'm okay, Toshi-nii. I just feel a little off, that's all. I'll be okay once we get dinner, though!!
He didn't convince Hitoshi, but since he did agree on the idea of taking the little boy back home, he didn't see the point in fighting his little brother's proposition.
- All right, bud. Let's get back, then. I'm sure Dad and Papa are about to arrive from their trip too, anyway.
He put his back toward Izuku and hunched over, gesturing for the little boy to hop-on so he could give him a piggyback ride back home. The kid, grateful, got a firm grip on his big brother's neck and got comfortable against Hitoshi's warm body, which felt nice against Izuku's aching stomach.
(They forgot to look for the red ball, Hitoshi realized later that day).
They made their way back at a nice, slow pace, with Hitoshi occasionally checking in on Izuku to make sure he didn't fall asleep before having dinner.
What a great surprise it was when he got to their house and saw their fathers getting out of a taxi right at that moment. Shouta -Dad- and Hizashi -Papa- even though both looked worn out and ready to go to sleep right then and there, had their faces lighted up once they saw their boys coming their way.
- Toshi!! Zuku!! Our beautiful boys, we missed you so much!!
Said Hizashi, before hugging them -awkwardly, with Izuku still in Hitoshi's back and everything- and giving them forehead kisses (Hitoshi was kind of embarrassed, but he tried to put his love for his father before his shame).
Shouta, who had been watching patiently, got near the kids and took Izuku into his arms, hugging him close, so Hitoshi could be free to be put into a hug too.
- Missed you, problem children. How was everything while we were gone?
The family got into the house while they were chatting their hearts away (well, mostly Hizashi and a tired Izuku were talking, but still), sharing their experiences and little adventures that transcurred while they were separated.
Shouta, who still had Izuku in his arms, noted the weird behavior his youngest was expressing, though, and so got a bit concerned toward Izuku.
- Zuku, you feel kind of feverish: are you feeling okay? Does anything hurt?
The young boy shook his head, giving his father a timid smile.
- I'm just a little tired, Dad. But I wanna spend some time with you guys before going to bed, so I promise I won't fall asleep.
- Mm, okay, but if you feel bad you will tell us, won't you?
-Yes, I swear Dad!
And so they had dinner together, sharing quality time as a family. A couple of hours later, both fathers deemed it time for their children to go to bed (they had school the next day), and so they all parted ways: kids to their shared room (which was actually only Izuku's, but since the little kid insisted on having Hitoshi sleep with him -and the older boy didn't mind- they ended up putting his bed there, too, [although Hitoshi did have his own room, for whenever he wished to spend some time alone]), and parents to the master bedroom.
Lights soon went out, and silence reigned in the happy house.
Until, at around two in the morning, Hitoshi was woken up by distressed sounds coming from his brother's bed.
-Zuku? - he asked, with a bit of drowsiness from sleep. - Hey, bud, are you okay?
- T-Toshi-nii, I'm not feeling so g-good - came the weak answer from the child's bed. Once Hitoshi got close, he could see the bad state his brother was in: he was pale as a sheet, with droplets of sweat all over his body, blue lips, and limbs trembling uncontrollably.
- Zuku! It'll be okay, all right? I'll go get Papa, just wait for a bit, I'll be right back!
And so he hurried to wake up his father, who was more than a little confused but went along anyway once he saw how distressed his eldest looked.
And with good reason, too. Izuku, logically, had been sick before. His sicknesses tended to be worse than Hitoshi's because he had a rather weak immune system from birth. But, even considering that, they had never seen him look so bad. And, because of that, Hizashi got worried to the point where he had to ask Hitoshi to wake up Shouta (which, in the rare occasions were the man had the chance to sleep at night -he worked night shifts- was something akin to a sin).
- What is it, Zashi? What happened? - asked the man, before taking a look at their youngest.
And, to the surprise of no one, he looked shocked.
- We have to take him to the hospital, right now! He can barely breathe!
And that was true: Izuku's chest was going up and down violently, making an erratic and worrisome movement. He was gasping and clinging tightly to Hizashi's hand, who had given it to him upon arriving by the child's side.
To put it short, it was a rather tiresome and stressful night. The family ended up in the emergency room of the nearest hospital, waiting for someone to tell them what had happened to the child. The answer was blood-freezing.
- We had to run a toxicological exam to check for any anomalies in his system, and we found out that he was, well, he was put under the effects of a rather dangerous drug.
A heavy silence fell upon them until Hitoshi broke it by asking what all of them were thinking.
- So, he was poisoned?
- Yes, exactly, that's what we think. The chemicals that compone the drug have to be processed in a lab, and most of them are not things you find in drugstores.
- My poor baby - said Hizashi, crying in silence. - Thank you, doctor, for telling us as soon as you found out. Do you think we'll be able to see our son soon?
- Nothing to thank me for, sir, is just my job. And you should be able to go see him in about an hour, once we make sure that there are no other complications where it comes to Izuku's health.
- Thanks, doctor. Please let us know if anything else comes up. - Said Shouta, bowing a little bit, before taking both his husband and his son into a tight hug, where everyone shed a couple of tears.
Who could have done such a thing? To Izuku, of all people, who was so kind, sweet and selfless. It clearly was a way of attacking the pro-heroes but, it was an extreme thing to do, considering that Hizashi and Shouta didn't have enemies, not really.
So, why poison their ray of sunshine?
- He will have problems with eating regular meals for a while because his body is struggling to go back to its previous state. He has a weak immune system, as you know, so his recovery will take more time than it would in a regular situation. With that said, you don't have to worry about anything else: Izuku is stable and will be free to go with you once you fill the discharging papers. Please, come back should any weird symptom come up, though. It's highly improbable, but we cannot take any risks.
Papers filled and other matters taken care of, the family made their way back home in humble silence, processing everything that had happened that day.
- Toshi, son, you don’t know who could have done this, do you?
- No, Papa, if I knew I’d have told you from the start. Izuku looked healthy most of yesterday; he only complained about a stomachache a little while before you guys got home, and that happened when he went searching for his red ball in the forest.
- You didn’t accompany him?
- I didn’t think it was necessary, he wasn’t going far away and I was paying attention should anything happen to him.
- Okay, son, we understand. Nothing else happened? Nothing suspicious?
- Well, the only thing that comes to mind is Izuku screaming out of nowhere. I never think much of it, because he tends to yell for a lot of things, but I still went to check on him after that, and I found him doubled over himself, looking kind of sick. He dismissed me, though, when I asked him if he was okay, and I could only think of taking him home if he was feeling a little under the weather, so I did just that.
- So, you didn’t notice if there was someone suspicious near there, did you?
- No, Dad, I did not. – Said Hitoshi, looking down and clenching his fists, feeling ashamed of himself - I’m sorry.
Both fathers shared a look, deciding to keep on discussing the matter when they were alone; Hitoshi was too stressed out by everything that had happened, and it would have been unfair to keep on pressing him to respond questions he did not know the answers to.
They gave their son a big hug, assuring him that they were not mad at him, that he was not the one to blame for what had happened, and also telling him that they all would have to be more careful from then on, because Hitoshi himself could be the next target, considering they could only assume that whoever poisoned Izuku was trying to get to the heroes by hurting their children.
- Izuku is going to spend the night with us, but it will only be because we need to keep an eye on his symptoms, okay? He will go back to your room once we know for sure that he is up and about again.
- Okay, Dad. Will you let me know if anything happens to him?
- Of course. I’ll be asking Nedzu for a couple of days off, so I can keep an eye on him during the day, and Hizashi will be taking care of him through the night. So, if anything comes up, we will notify us, and that includes you, son.
That left Hitoshi feeling lighter, reassured. So, after giving Izuku one final squeeze in the hand, he went to his room, grabbed his school uniform and went to one of the two bathrooms to take a shower. His fathers offered to let him stay home for the day, but the boy had an important exam in the morning, and he didn’t want to fail by not going.
He wanted to get into UA next year, after all. So, he needed great grades.
He took a quick glance at himself in the mirror the next morning and, to his utter disappointment, his eye bags were more prominent than ever. Which honestly was not surprising, considering how little sleep he got that night.
In the kitchen he found his Dad making breakfast, while his Papa was already sitting at the table, with Izuku on his lap. He was trying to coerce the child into taking a bite of the porridge he had made him, to no avail. Izuku was pale and trembling, and he clearly didn’t want to have anything to do with food at the moment.
- Come on, honey. Just one bite and I’ll take you to bed, okay? How does that sound?
He got no verbal response, but Izuku did have that one bite of porridge, for the sake of his father’s anxiety.
- All right, hand him to me, Zashi. I’ll put him to bed while you get ready for work. – Said Shouta, taking the little boy into his arms and getting him out of the room, toward the master bedroom.
- Papa? Why is Zuku still looking so bad? They got the poison out of his body, didn’t they?
- I’m asking myself the same thing, Toshi. If this keeps up, we’ll have to ask Recovery Girl to take a look at him.
- Why not do that right away?
- Because she’ll be very busy at school since UA’s physical exams take place this week. Maybe we could take Izuku to her tomorrow if she gives us the okay. I’ll ask her this afternoon.
- Sounds like a plan, then.
After that little chat, both father and son had a quick breakfast, brushed their teeth and got into the family’s car, first toward Hitoshi’s middle school to drop him off. Quite convenient for the parents to have their son going to a school that was in the way to UA, really.
- Hey, hey bud, It’s okay, you’ll be okay, try taking deep breaths.
Shouta had been repeating the same words like a mantra, all day long. Izuku had been sick more times than he cared to count, and so the trips to the bathroom had been going on non-stop.
To say that Shouta was worried would be the understanding of the century. He tried to coax his child into eating soft, bland meals, but the kid couldn’t keep them down. That afternoon, though, things got even worse, because Izuku –who had been having a restless sleep- woke up asking for water, only to end up throwing it up a couple of minutes later.
That’s where they were at the moment, with Shouta holding his son up while he dry-heaved into the toilet. The boy kept going at it for a while, but eventually, he passed out into his father’s arms, feverish and miserable.
Shouta, trying to convince himself that he was not overreacting, flushed the toilet and got the kid to bed, putting a wet towel against the boy’s forehead. After that, he called Hizashi, who was in the middle of getting ready to go home, gathering his belongings.
- Hey, love, how is our little boy holding up?
- Hizashi, look, I don’t know if I’m overreacting, but I’m pretty worried…
- Why? What happened?!
- He’s been throwing up all day, to the point where he even cannot keep water down. He’s running a fever, he’s unresponsive, and he cannot stop shivering. And I don’t understand why; didn’t they clean up his stomach? His entire system? He should at most be tired, but not to this extreme. Zashi, I called you because I don’t know what to do.
Hizashi took a few deep breaths, quickly taking everything he owned and speed walking through UA’s alleys, toward the infirmary.
- All right, babe, I’m on my way to the nursery, to tell Shuzenji-san we need medical advice. If she cannot come with us, we’ll take Izuku back to the hospital.
- Okay, Zashi, we’ll wait here. I sent a message to Hitoshi, so he should be here at the same time as you do, so don’t worry about that.
- That’s really good, babe. I’ll see you all in a bit, then.
- See you, love.
Hizashi quickly entered the room once he reached it, hurriedly explaining to a surprised Recovery Girl the basics of Izuku’s condition. The woman, out of the goodness of her heart, said that it was not a problem to go check on the boy, even though she –not knowing the gravity of the situation- suspected that he only had the flu.
They both made their way to the house in fifteen minutes, give or take, and hurried inside the moment they got there (which coincided with the arrival of Hitoshi, who rapidly saluted them before following them inside the house), calling out for Shouta.
- In here – came his voice from the master bedroom. He was holding Izuku against his chest, reciting soothing words to the boy, who was clinging to him fervently. Izuku had recovered conscience a little while ago, and he was so shacked up by everything that was happening that he begged his father to give him a hug (as if Shouta needed the begging).
- Hey, bud, look, it’s Recovery Girl. She’s here to take a look at you; isn’t that great?
- Y-yes. T-thank you, ma’am.
- Oh, it’s okay sweetie, don’t thank me. Now, if you could lay him flat on the bed, Shouta dear, I’ll start right away.
- Of course.
Easier said than done because Izuku didn’t want to let go of his father. Shouta had to lay beside him for the kid to calm down because he started crying when he attempted to get away from the boy, and they could not have him getting even more dehydrated.
Recovery Girl took note of all of the symptoms the boy was showing, and also took note of the ones he wasn’t. They made no sense, though, because if they were from poisoning they should have been dealt with when they took the boy to the hospital.
So, what was going on?
Testing out a theory, Recovery Girl gave the boy one of her healing kisses.
And the boy got better, she could feel it. What she could also feel, though, was that the thing making him sick did not go away; it only got dismissed for a while. The boy’s body could not eradicate it on his own.
- Oh my, oh my, we have a bit of a problem, dearies. My quirk isn’t making lasting effects, and that might mean that Izuku cannot be cured of this apparent sickness.
Three pairs of utterly worried eyes met hers, and she steeled herself for what she was in the obligation of telling them.
- I’m afraid this might be the result of a quirk messing with the boy’s body. I can’t be sure, of course, but it could explain the oddness of the situation. It may have something to do with some kind of infection that cannot be healed nor removed, because it isn’t known by nowadays science, and so it cannot be identified in his blood or some other kind of test.
- Wait, Chiyo, the doctor said it was poisoning. – Said Shouta, trying to calm the kid beside him, who looked at the woman like his world was crashing down. And it kind of was.
- I don’t doubt that Izuku was, indeed, under the effects of something like pharmacological drugs when you took him to the hospital yesterday. I believe that, whoever it was, the person who gave that to him needed to actually put a substance to poison into his body, and then they mutated the drug – using their quirk- so it no longer had its original chemical structure, making it impossible for us to detect or purge.
She let her words sink in, before giving them the –more or less- bright side of the news.
- The only good side of this is that we can give Izuku some medicine and treatments so he can make a normal life again. He’ll have to live taking pills and getting medical appointments, but that way we’ll make sure to be constantly fighting the lethal symptoms this unknown substance will, for sure, keep on putting upon the dearie’s body.
- What would happen if he doesn’t follow said treatments? If he were to spend a long amount of time without taking his medicine, for example? – asked Hizashi, taking the boy's hand, while his free one went to Hitoshi’s shoulder, who was on the verge of tears.
- Look at him now, Hizashi, and tell me what do you think will happen if I don’t do anything and simply let him try to fight this sickness alone. His body won’t be able to recover, I assure you. He will only get worse until his immune system ends up giving up on him, or even worse, it could end up going against the boy’s body, like when a person has allergies. I’m trying to tell you that, should my theory be correct, this is the only way that comes to my mind to help Izuku live a relatively normal life, from now on.
The silence that followed was so tense that it could be cut with scissors. The fathers and the boys were confused and frustrated because they could only hope that Recovery Girl’s theory was correct and that they wouldn’t be missing their youngest family member due to some external factors they could not fight.
- Hey, bud, hey… Don’t cry, it’s going to be okay. We’ll have you healthy again in no time, you’ll see.
- W-what she said i-is true, Dad – wailed Izuku, hugging his father with all his might.
- Are you sure? Did you by chance use your quirk on who did this to you, honey? – asked Hizashi, after understanding what the boy meant.
He received a nod from the kid.
- Then… why didn’t you say anything before? Zuku? Hey, no, please don’t cry, I’m not mad at you!
Hitoshi found himself the prey of his brother’s arms, who –between sobs- said that he couldn’t see the person, because they attacked him from behind. His quirk was one that was turned on all the time, so he naturally had sensed the unknown person’s meta ability.
He told them what had happened; how he had started feeling funny once he touched his red ball, how a person put a knife against his throat to get him to keep quiet, and then stabbed him with a syringe right in the side, putting a dark liquid into his body. He told them that it was all so fast that he barely got the chance to understand the quirk of the said person; the ability to manipulate chemical structures of any compound in existence. After that he yelled, knowing that his brother would come looking for him, and Izuku tossed the ball as far as he could, so Hitoshi wouldn´t be affected by whatever was in it. (He was even careful not to directly touch anyone before cleaning his hands, by pulling his sleeves over them).
They would have to take all that information and verify it as true with Naomasa’s help (a friend of the family who was a detective with a lie-detector quirk), but so far they didn´t have a reason to doubt Izuku’s word.
- T-they s-said that they w-would hurt you i-if I told y-you, Toshi-nii. I’m s-so sorry! I-I didn’t w-want them to hurt y-you!
And so Hitoshi’s heart was broken because everything had happened under his watch. “What a hero you’ll be”, he thought bitterly, realizing he could have protected his brother by coming along with him.
(Or they could both be in the same circumstances, to say the truth, but Hitoshi wasn’t able to see that side of the coin yet).
Recovery Girl gave both parents a lot of indications, such as prescribing a considerable amount of meds, and instructing them to find a nutritionist so they could give them a special diet that went along with the new lifestyle Izuku would have to adopt.
- I’m also going to have you come to see me once a month to check on you, all right dearie? You shouldn’t necessarily need me to heal you, but as long as I’m alive I’ll help you out by giving you one of my healing kisses when you come to your appointments. Sounds good, honey?
Izuku nodded and thanked her, all while clinging to Hizashi, who had become his new hug-victim. The family saw her out, thanking her profusely while they tried to digest the news.
That sure was life-changing, huh?
The fathers would have to take care of everything Izuku would now need, and they would also have to take Hitoshi to an appointment with his therapist because he was definitely putting himself at fault for something that was beyond him.
They spent that night’s dinner in utter silence, with only the soft sound of cutlery against dishes, and the occasional sorb from Izuku who, thanks to Chiyo’s kiss, had been feeling better for a while and could actually have his soup without any inconvenience.
- Okay, boys, this is what we’ll do tomorrow: Hitoshi and I will go shopping to get everything we’ll need from now on. We’ll also get you an appointment with Mrs. Otonashi, son, and don’t give me that look because we have discussed in many occasions the importance of not taking a burden that isn’t yours.
Hitoshi didn’t say anything, opting to look at his soba and only nodding his head to acknowledge Shouta.
- Then I will stay with my sunshine boy for the day, doesn’t that sound like fun, honey?
- Yes Papa!!
- It is decided, then. Let’s go to bed so we can take care of everything early in the morning.
As they had decided upon arriving from the hospital, Izuku went to sleep with their fathers, while Hitoshi went to his own room –the one he barely used- so he could clear his mind from everything.
He fell asleep a little while after getting into bed, but his sleep was interrupted when he felt something warm wrap tightly around his body. And he knew perfectly well who it was.
- Zuku, they are going to be really sulky if they wake up to find you here instead of there.
- I wanted to be with you, just for a bit. I promise I’ll go back before they wake up.
- Oh no, now you are stuck here, don’t you dare leave me after waking me up.
That got Izuku to giggle softly and wasn’t that a nice sound to hear, after the shitty day the boy had.
- Zuku. You know that I love you, don’t you?
- Yes, Toshi-nii, and I love you too, lots!
Hitoshi pulled his little brother closer, after that. He could feel Izuku’s heart beating beneath his t-shirt and the soft rise and fall of his chest. For that moment, the older boy let himself forget about everything that had happened, concentrating only on the good old brotherly love that he shared with the kid.
Nothing was better.
Izuku, true to his word, had gotten back to his fathers’ bedroom a little while after Hitoshi fell asleep. He got himself between the two adults, hugging an arm of each one, waiting for sleep to claim him.
It did not. Izuku started feeling bad again at around three in the morning but, since it was a simple stomachache, he decided to let his parents sleep for a while longer, and so he waited for them to wake up with the alarm.
(He got himself slightly scolded for not “bothering” his parents, but he also got a hug and the reassurance of them never being bothered by his needs, so it didn’t actually feel like a scold).
They did what they had decided the day before, and so Hizashi stood by Izuku’s side all day, playing with him, and comforting him when the boy’s discomfort was much too evident for the child to suppress it. While he did that (having called Nedzu to inform of the situation in the house, and so getting permission for him to skip work, and also having called Hitoshi’s school to excuse him from class that day), Shouta and Hitoshi went shopping to buy the mix of pills Izuku would have to take, made the appointment with the therapist, and also got the green-haired boy an hour with the nutritionist.
And that’s how their lives got into a totally new direction, which was a little hard to bear at the beginning (because there was a time where Izuku threw up blood, and they hadn’t been so afraid in all their lives), but that they ended up dominating, more or less. (Izuku became sick-buds with his Uncle Toshinori, which was a dark thing to say, but they got their happiness where they could, so nobody said anything to them).
All in all, life kept its course, and so did the Aizawa-Yamada family.
So, who poisoned Izuku?
Somebody who was entrusted to do so, and too afraid to refuse the job.
Said person tried (hard) to fulfill the job, but didn’t count on the boy having a quirk that told him what other people’s quirks were, so she didn’t believe her eyes when she saw him all dandy playing in the forest, with only a subtle paleness to prove that he was, indeed, under her quirk effects.
She was okay with that, though. If her boss thought the brat was dead, and nothing proved him wrong, everything would be okay. So, she decided that if life didn’t want to let the brat die, why should she insist on the matter?
She got put to jell a couple of years after that, for minor robbery. Soon she entered the system, and out of so, Naomasa was able to relate her to what had happened to Izuku, adding those charges to her final sentence. Life imprisonment (well, she had it coming).
She couldn’t help them, though, because she did not remember how she had mutated the infection in the boy’s body (she made it in a rush, right at that moment). It was more muscle memory than anything, and if she were to play around with the chemical structure of the deathly agent she could easily make things worse before they got better (she could even kill the boy, so, it was not worth a shot, really).