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Way Before My Time

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"Izuku, All Might is dead."

Izuku's hand shook in horror and pain. The voice on the other side of the phone was getting harder to hear through the waves crashing through his mind. First it was denial. ", this is a joke. A cruel joke. He can't be…"

Then came the anger. "How?! He was getting better, Katsuki! He can't just be dead!" He had been numb the entire ride to the hospital and now, as the doctors refused him access to his mentor's hospital room, his burning rage turned to the person who had given him the terrible news.

"He stopped breathing last night after the surgery." Katsuki's voice was dangerously quiet. It held the same tone as that night when he fought after the Kamino Ward incident. Izuku was too angry to notice.

"The surgery was for his legs! His stupid, broken legs! How did he stop breathing when…" Izuku was close to panic now, the tears stubbornly running down his face. "There should've been doctors there. Where were the doctors?" His anger sizzled and turned back to denial.

It got worse during the funeral. He refused to talk during the event. All Might wasn't in that dark casket. Those flowers weren't for him. It was a joke. Everyone who got up, wasted their time writing a speech, was a joke. Each of his classmates were there. Mirio and Eri were too, although neither really knew him. Not like him and his mother.

It made no sense. The world made no sense. How could the world exist without All might? He had changed it, reformed it. How could he die when all he had done was still so fragile. When the world still needed their Symbol of Peace?

There hadn't been a viewing, and All Might never mentioned a will, so everything he owned was donated or sold. All, except for the few boxes All Might had given to them before going into the hospital. Once the funeral was over, Izuku and his mother went back home to open their boxes. Once they did, the denial turned into depression.

All Might left him journals, drawings, comics and a few overly cheesy suit designs, a few he recognized from his days at UA. His mentor, his father, had given him the very foundation that All Might was built upon. He wanted to be a hero because of the comics he read. He started to draw because of the comics he read and he wrote because he would achieve his dream. He has achieved it.

His mother got his American movie collection -which took up most of the box- and a few pictures of him through his years. The first was of him and who he had told Izuku was his master. His mother. They smiled next to a grumpy Gran Torino, who was now old and far grumpier. Too grumpy to attend his student's funeral, apparently, or perhaps the old man had died as well. No one would know.

His mother cried when she saw the more recent pictures. Of them, as a family. Izuku recognized a picture he had taken only a few weeks ago, of All Might in his tracksuit and Izuku running with him in his own. Both had the worlds 'Plus Ultra' on them, but All Might's had the words 'Deku' on the back. He cried when he first saw it. Mom had demanded she get one after seeing it.

"He was so happy, Izuku." She sniffed, still in her black dress and shawl. "Smiling in every single one of these. Look!" She showed him one, though her hand shook too much for him to really see what the picture was of. "Isn't that the scientist you met a few summers ago? David Shields?"

The reminder made Izuku stop. Professor Shields was All Might's best friend, even now, but he wasn't at the funeral. He'd just gotten off of house arrest a month before All Might went to the hospital. He visited and they showed Melissa all of Musutafu. That was the last time either had seen him.

His mother's hand wiped the tears he wasn't aware were falling from his face. She gave him a shaky smile and stood up slowly, sighing. "I should fame these. Hang them up on our family wall. What do you say?" when he didn't respond, she walked back to her room and began measuring each and every picture. Most of them were too small to be hung up, so they'd go into the scrap book.

Turning back to his own box, he slowly picked up the comic books, each magazine page worn with use and a few tapped together in several places. His sketchbook held mostly drawings of heroes, both from his comics and from his time. The last ten pages were devoted to Gran Torino and his mother. He drew her like he did any other comic hero. It fit her so well. The very last page was of himself, wearing his third year hero suit from UA, smiling with a faded woman behind him. His master had died the summer before he went to his third year.

All Might died in the middle of Izuku's third year.

A tear landed on the thin paper, smearing the graphite lines and Izuku panicked. He tried to rub it away, but the led followed, ruining the picture. He tried to erase the extra marks, but the paper ripped, leaving an ugly hole were All Might's fist had been.

Izuku cried for the rest of the day and halfway through the night. He had ruined All Might's picture, one that he had drawn in his time of grief. One that showed both his pain and power. One that no one else would see. He had ruined it. He had ruined All Might.

He never touched the sketch book again. Izuku couldn't handle looking at his mistake. The comics became too fragile to read, having endured both All Might and Izuku's full use. They just couldn't hold out any longer, like All might.

Izuku read through the journals on the day he graduated from UA. He had pretended to be happy fairly well. He smiled and ate with his friends, even went out with them after the graduation. He celebrated and partied, up until All Might came back into mind. With a lie of being tired, he went back home.

All Might had been so similar to Izuku during his childhood. His mother had left after finding out he was quirkless. What good was a quirkless boy to a pro-quirk activist? His father tried to support him, but he gave up once All Might decided to go down the path of heroism. He drank away his sorrows until All Might couldn't legally stay with him. When he was drunk more often than sober.

His master had trained him for longer then All Might had trained Izuku. She set him up with a plan, similar to Izuku's, but there was no dirty beach to clean. He wrestled with her more than All Might had with him, but that didn't matter. If his first year finals was anything to go by, it might have killed him.

What made Izuku cry was when All Might wrote about the way he felt when training. The way he talked about his master as if she were an angel. She gave him what he needed to achieve his goals, his dreams. She supported him and loved him through every trial and hardship. She chose to keep him when All For One killed her family and she sent away her son. He admired every part of her, just like Izuku admired him.

But even years into his hero career, saving people left and right, working to become what All Might wanted him to be, he still couldn't fully accept that his father was gone. He cried for his mentor often, nearly every day. He thought of the one person he couldn't save when he protected those he could.

As Izuku lived, he asked one question. When will he learn to be happy again?

And one night, meeting a panicked older woman with a time manipulation quirk, he found out that answer.