The box on his desk looks innocent, but Izuku knows better.
Although made of plain cardboard, there’s a shimmering green ribbon tied around it, disguising it as a gift. Izuku crouches by his desk so that he’s eye level with the top, so he can squint and examine the box from the best angle possible. He feels a bit like some kind of detective, trying to pull as much information as he can just from the visuals of the evidence in front of him.
Unfortunately, there’s not much. The most notable detail is that there’s no name on the gift. Only the words “For Midoriya” written on the top, and nothing more. No clues as to who left it.
Izuku gives the box a particularly distrustful glare, “Who sent you?” He whispers harshly, as if holding an interrogation.
“Deku, will you shut the hell up?” Bakugou snaps, giving Izuku’s side a rough shove with the heel of his boot. “Just sit down already and stop freaking out over nothing like an idiot.”
Izuku, unbalanced, tips sideways and falls over before he can catch himself, “It’s not nothing!” He protests from the floor, trying to cross his arms to show how serious he is, but having trouble fitting his right arm over the bulky cast on his left. “There could be anything in there, maybe even a bomb.”
“You’re already talking to a walking explosion, so if it is a bomb, at least you know how to deal with it.” Shinsou says dryly from behind him.
“HAH? What’d you say Dead-Eyes?”
Izuku tilts his head backwards to look at the purple haired boy. Upside down and with the desk in the way, he can barely see Shinsou’s face, but it isn’t hard to tell from his tone that he’s watching the shenanigans in front of him with a clear lack of interest. Izuku won’t be finding any sympathy with him, then. Darn. And Shinsou is the person he thought would most understand why Izuku is being cautious of this mysterious gift.
He glances around for his other friends, looking desperately for allies, all while still laying on the floor. Uraraka and Iida are across the room, engaged in conversation with Yaoyorozu, Todoroki hasn’t arrived to class yet, and Tsuyu seems to be asleep in her seat, likely tired out by the early coldfront they’d been hit with this morning.
Izuku’s on his own for this, it seems.
He shoves himself up awkwardly while Bakugou cackles at him. Then, he steels himself, and faces the box again.
“Alright, I’m goin’ in.”
“You’re so brave.” Shinsou deadpans.
Izuku resists the urge to stick his tongue out at Shinsou. They’ve only just recently become friends. Or, well, something more than strangers. He doesn’t think sticking his tongue out in such a familiar way would go over well.
So he turns his attention back to the box.
Delicately, Izuku pulls on the ribbon, letting it shift free inch by painfully slow inch, as if he really is diffusing a bomb. He tugs it apart at that snail's pace until the ribbon falls away to lay on the desk. Thankfully, the box isn’t taped shut, making it easy to get into for Izuku and his one working arm. All Izuku has to do now is open the top flaps and look inside.
That’s all he has to do.
Just, open the flaps, and look inside.
Once, shortly after starting middle school, he’d gotten a box on his desk, just like this. It hadn’t had a ribbon though, and had been much more beat up, the cardboard discolored from wear, with odd wet stains at its corners that Izuku hadn’t wanted to think about.
But he’d been so excited. So hopeful. He was sure middle school was going to be different than elementary, and this was the first gift he had ever gotten from someone other than his mom on his birthday.
So he’d ignored all the questionable things about the box, had ignored all the glaring red signs flashing in his face trying desperately to warn him, and he’d opened it right there in front of everyone in class.
The laughter that rang out when Izuku’s face fell at the sight of a small pile of rank, mushy trash still features as a background track of his nightmares sometimes.
“Maybe get this done sometime this year, Midoriya?” Shinsou comments, a note of impatience in his voice, “Or at least before Aizawa-sensei arrives?”
Izuku shakes himself from the distant memories, pulling himself from that dark place and returning himself to the present. This isn’t the same. “R-right, right.”
He reaches out, takes the edge of the closest cardboard flap between his fingers, squeezes his eyes shut, and then in one quick motion he opens the box.
“Is it a bomb?” Izuku asks after a beat of anticlimactic silence.
“It’s not a goddamn bomb, shit nerd.” Bakugou grumbles. Izuku wonders if he’s just imagining that Kacchan’s voice sounds a little softer - dialed ever so slightly down from it’s usual high level of abrasiveness. “You’re so damn dramatic for no reason. Just fucking look.”
Izuku gives in to his own curiosity, and opens his eyes.
There, nestled lovingly in a cozy nest lined with bubble wrap and tissue, is a small lucky cat statue.
Izuku lets out a quiet gasp, and carefully scoops the statue up into his hand. It’s black, with a red collar and gold detailing. Its little eyes are squinted happily, and the curl of its mouth looks content.
“Someone must want to keep you safe.” Shinsou says, while Izuku rubs his thumb over the raised characters on the cat’s coin. “Black lucky cat statues are meant to keep away evil and keep people healthy- wait, Midoriya, are you crying?”
Izuku sniffles loudly. He hasn't started crying yet, but it's a near thing. “This is just- this is so sweet! It’s so cute. I’ve never gotten a gift like this before, and I don’t even know who sent it!”
Shinsou looks almost horrified at how emotional Izuku is getting. He’s frozen in place, eyes wide like an animal caught in car headlights. “Midoriya…”
Not wanting to make Shinsou uncomfortable, Izuku quickly scrubs away the wetness from his eyes. Then, he looks again at the little cat statue in his hand, nods once, and announces, “I’m naming her Daichan.”
“Like ‘daijoubu!’” Izuku grins.
“You’re still shitty with nicknames.” Bakugou gripes, although he’s turned around and pretending not to pay attention.
“I do wonder why it's the type of lucky cat that’s supposed to ward off evil, though.” Izuku says, holding the cat closer so he can get a better look at some of the smaller painted details, “It’s not like I have terrible luck.”
“You literally broke your arm yesterday just training in class.”
Izuku turns to Shinsou, open-mouthed and affronted, angling his cast-covered arm away as if he can hide it, “It isn’t broken! Just a little fractured.”
“‘Just a little fractured,’” Shinsou mocks, “Yeah, because that’s better.”
Yaoyorozu, returning to her seat behind Shinsou before class can start, adds, “Midoriya, I think you’ve gotten more injuries than the rest of the class combined, and we’re not even finished with our first year.”
Sero, beside Izuku, decides to chime in now as well, “It really is kinda wild how easily you get hurt.”
“I think your luck is worse than mine.” Todoroki says flatly from the back row. Izuku hadn’t even seen him arrive.
“I’m starting to feel very attacked.” Izuku mutters, and he clutches the lucky cat close, “At least I know I have Daichan on my side.”
There’s a faint click, and then-
Everything freezes, and Izuku can feel the blood draining from his face as the cutesy meow echoes through the classroom.
Frantically, he flips Daichan over and finds, taped to her back, a small noise button.
He’s been betrayed.
“Please tell me Aizawa-sensei didn’t hear that.” Izuku says, but he knows how close to the start of class they were. He knows Aizawa is likely standing behind him right this very moment.
“It was nice knowing you, Midoriya.” Shinsou replies.
“I wasn’t aware,” Comes Aizawa’s voice immediately after, ice cold against Izuku’s back, “That I was allowing toys in my heroics classroom.”
Izuku spins, an apology and explanation already falling from his lips. He’s hindered by the fact that he can’t move his hands - one being in a cast and the other still holding Daichan - and he probably looks a bit ridiculous, but he does his very best.
Only by promising to throw away the noise button and keep the statue inside his bag until the end of the day does he escape having it confiscated. He’s sure this is an isolated incident, yes Aizawa-sensei, no more odd gifts are going to show up and disrupt class.
“Maybe my mysterious gifter actually gave me more bad luck.” Izuku mumbles to himself, completely seriously, as Aizawa finally lets him go and heads to the front of the room to call roll. “Maybe this cat is cursed.”
Behind him, Shinsou makes an odd choking sound, though Izuku has no idea why.
It turns out that when Izuku told Aizawa a mysterious gift showing up out of nowhere for him was an isolated incident, he’d accidentally lied.
When he gets back to his dorm room from class, Daichan immediately receives a spot of honor on his desk, amidst the lineup of his collectable All Might figures. He then proceeds to not think at all about lucky cats or elusive gifters for the next two days.
Then, they strike again.
“Deku!” Ochako calls to him from across the common room, from where she’s standing among a small cluster of their classmates, as Izuku walks in still sweating and breathing heavily from his run. He glances over to her, midway through wiping some sweat from his brow with his now-healed arm, “Some of us are going to go to the mall in a little bit, do you want to come too?”
Even though Izuku tries not to think about it, phantom fingers wrap around his throat before he can stop them. “The mall?”
Ochako must see his trepidation in his eyes, because her eager expression softens, “Midnight-sensei is coming with us.” She reassures, “And we were all going to stay in one big group this time.”
Some of Izuku’s anxiety eases away. That does sound safer, and he hasn’t been to the mall since that disastrous time with Shigaraki… maybe, just this once, everything will go smoothly and he can have fun. “Okay.”
Ochako’s eyes light up, “Okay?”
Izuku nods, smiling, “Yeah, are you guys alright with waiting for me to rinse off in the showers and grab my backpack, though?”
“Of course, bro!” Kirishima gives an enthusiastic thumbs up.
Izuku returns the thumbs up, before quickly sprinting to the stairway and up to the second floor showers. It doesn’t take him long to clean himself up and be back in his room, pulling on clothes with his curls still damp against his forehead.
Rather than jinx himself by wearing any of his “shirts that say they’re other clothes” shirts, like he did that last time at the mall, Izuku pulls on a plain mint-green sweatshirt and hopes it’ll bring him some better luck.
Ready to go, he spins around to grab his backpack, but stops with his hand still extended towards it.
There’s… a new pin?
“How long have you been here…?” Izuku mutters to himself in confusion, moving closer and carefully plucking at the pin. It’s a little four leaf clover, made of hard enamel and hiding between his more flashy collectable hero pins. Izuku had barely noticed it before the small spot of green caught his eye.
He always has his backpack with him. Always. And when he doesn’t, it’s in his room that he keeps very locked. How had someone managed to sneak past him to give him this?
Izuku doesn’t want to take the pin off, but just looking at it is making him feel a little sick. Someone had opened his backpack - they would’ve had to unzip the front pocket in order to put the back of the pin on the inside. They probably saw his notebooks, they could have taken something.
But no, no, Izuku knows his classmates here aren’t like that. They’re not like his classmates at Aldera. Whoever gave this to him - he knows they were trying to do something nice. It’s another gift, like the lucky cat, meant to bring him good luck, and he does like it. He likes it a lot, actually.
Izuku just wishes he could’ve put it on his backpack himself.
With a sigh, Izuku lets go of the pin, watching it settle against the canvas fabric.
Downstairs, everyone is still waiting for him - Uraraka, Kirishima, Ashido, Tsuyu. Only a few, like Uraraka had said, but it's a good group.
So when he approaches, worrying one of his backpack straps in his hands, he thinks it’ll be okay… if he asks. Maybe. Right?
“Hey guys, so I found something on my ba-”
“Great we’re all here!” Kirishima says loudly, accidentally interrupting. Or... not accidentally? Izuku blinks - he’s honestly unable to tell sometimes with Kirishima, whether he means to be as large a presence as he is. Whether he’s loud and boisterous just naturally or for a purpose. “Let’s get going.”
“But I…” He tries again, too hesitant to get very far this time.
“This’ll be fun, Deku.” Uraraka says, looping her arm through his, mistaking his stammering for nerves. “Don’t worry, I promise to stay by your side the entire time this time!”
She seems genuine, but her voice also sounds just a touch forced. Barely, but enough that Izuku - who learned early on in life that if he paid attention to the tones of peoples’ voices, bad situations were easier to avoid - can notice.
Did everyone know that Izuku was trying to ask about the pin? Was no one going to let him talk about it? Were they that committed to keeping the identity of the gifter a secret?
Izuku isn’t sure how to feel about that.
Pressing his lips together, Izuku offers Uraraka the best smile he can, “Thanks, Uraraka, I really appreciate that.” Then, he breaks down the door before they can stop him, “And maybe this mysterious clover pin I found on my backpack will help things go smoothly too.”
The group goes quiet for a moment, then Uraraka leans with an exaggerated motion to peer at his backpack, “Oh, it's so cute!” She says excitedly, as if she’s never seen it before in her life. Ashido quickly joins in, gushing about how the pin matches Izuku’s hair color and looks so nice on the faded yellow bag.
“First the lucky cat, now this, it seems like you’ve got a secret guardian angel trying to turn your luck around, Midoriya.” Tsuyu comments, a finger touched to her cheek.
“Or I’m being haunted.” Izuku says.
“Haunted by a ghost that wants you to have good luck!” Kirishima enthusiastically chimes in, “That’s pretty manly, I think.”
“Mm.” Izuku hums, “Would be manlier if I knew who was giving me these. So I could thank them.”
Something in Kirishima’s expression softens, “Maybe they just wanna do somethin’ nice for you, bro. You deserve nice things, Midoriya.”
Izuku blinks, taken aback at the honesty.
There’s no time to push the topic any further, as after that their little group gets on the move. Ashido enthusiastically grabs onto one of Izuku’s hands and one of Kirishima’s, and drags them along while laughing with Tsuyu and Ochako following close behind.
So Izuku lets the issue of the mysterious pin fall from his mind for the time being, and just tries to enjoy his time with his friends.
Then it happens again.
“For this exercise, you’ll be in pairs of two!” All Might announces, once the entire class has assembled in their costumes at the entrance to Ground Beta.
“Just like the battle trial at the beginning of the year, huh?” Izuku hears Tsuyu comment from behind him.
“Can we all agree to riot if Bakugou and Midoriya have to fight each other again?”
“I can fucking hear you, idiots.” Bakugou grumbles darkly.
Izuku wisely decides to stay out of the conversation, even though it partly concerns him. There are more important things happening right now, and he needs to pay attention to the instructions All Might is giving.
Focus, Izuku, focus. He tells himself sternly, almost wishing he had the small lucky clover pin with him. He’d taken it off of his backpack to find a better place for it, somewhere where it wouldn’t be crowded out by his cluster of larger, more overwhelming pins, but then had accidentally developed a habit of fidgeting with it when anxious or needing to concentrate.
“Every team will be given a flag,” With a flourish, All Might produces a small square of cloth from… somewhere. Which is a bit baffling, because Izuku could’ve sworn none of All Might’s costumes had pockets or utility pouches. Maybe he’d had it tucked under his belt? Maybe he’d had it -
Focus! Izuku reprimands himself with a quick shake of his head.
“All of you will be let loose into Ground Beta,” All Might continues.
“There goes our chances of keeping Bakugou and Midoriya separate,” Kaminari groans quietly.
“Bastard, I’ll be goin’ for you first.” Bakugou hisses in return.
The strong killing intent coming from Bakugou causes sweat to dot the back of Izuku’s neck, but he continues to stay out of it.
“I’ll give you five minutes to find a suitable starting point, separate from all other teams.” All Might perseveres, raising his voice slightly, just doing his best to get to the end of the instructions. “Then, the exercise will start! By the end of the time limit, the team to have gotten the most flags will be the winner!”
Out of Izuku’s periphery, he sees a broad hand shoot up.
“Yes, Young Iida?”
Iida snaps his hand back down to his side, but shouts his question with the same intense energy with which he’d raised it, “Are there rules for our conduct when we fight each other? I think we should keep the safety of our classmates as a priority over retrieving the -”
All Might swiftly cuts Iida off before he can really get going, “Yes, yes, good question Young Iida! I encourage you kids to go all out, but any grievous harm to another student will result in disqualification and a formal punishment.”
Someone coughs, burying the word Bakugou into it. Bakugou lets out a strangled, violent-sounding snarl.
“Can there be a rule against Midoriya getting hurt at all?” Hagakure asks in a joking tone.
“H-hey,” Izuku whines.
Shinsou gives him a heavy pat on his shoulder, looking tired and resigned. Though, that may just be because that’s how Shinsou always looks. “Midoriya, we’ve been over this, you’re a disaster magnet.”
“Shinsou, you weren’t even in the class at the beginning of the year,” Hagakure whispers conspiratorially, like she’s telling a secret, although Izuku can tell she’s standing right in front of him, “You didn’t see how gnarly some of his injuries were. Way worse than they are now. He’d break his bones any time he used his quirk.”
“I don’t anymore though.”
All Might “Ah-HEM”s pointedly, to get their attention back.
Flushing, Izuku shrugs Shinsou’s hand off of his shoulder and directs his eyes back to his mentor.
“I’ll be calling the groups now,” All Might says, once he’s satisfied everyone has calmed down and is serious once again.
He calls their names one by one before pulling numbers from a small bowl, leaving everyone to shuffle through their little group and stand beside their partner themselves. Izuku’s happy to find himself paired with Todoroki - although he’s fought alongside Todoroki before, there’s something different about being able to work with someone in a low-stakes situation. Now, they can really learn how they work together, rather than just jumping into something dangerous and having to figure out on the fly how compatible their fighting styles are.
“Our flag is purple.” Todoroki observes flatly when All Might hands them their square of fabric and sends them off into the fake city. “I feel like this should’ve gone to Shinsou.”
Izuku holds the fabric up to the sun, squinting to see the warm glow that filters through it. “Or you could say this is a mix of red and blue - part of your hair and your costume.”
“Hm, I guess.” Todoroki says in acknowledgement. “Still, it’ll be easy to see no matter who holds it.”
Izuku pauses in how he’d been pulling lightly on the fabric to test its resistance and strength, a thought forming in his mind.
“Hey,” He asks, “Did All Might ever say anything about having to keep the flag visible?”
Todoroki takes a moment, before responding slowly, “No, I don’t think he did.”
With a determined grin, Izuku nods, “Alright, then I’m going to put it in one of my pouches, if that’s okay with you? It’ll be easier to not lose that way.”
“Go ahead.” Todoroki responds, “All I have are my first aid containers, there’s really no room in them anyways.” He flicks one of the small cylinders hanging from his belt, making a faint metallic twang.
Izuku pats at the pouches of his hero costume, looking for one with enough space to put their flag into without it getting lost with other supplies, but his brow furrows when he feels a strange lump jab into his hip.
“What’s wrong, Midoriya?” Todoroki asks.
“Gimme a minute, I think there’s something…” Izuku mutters, before he unsnaps the clasp of a pouch and digs into the contents inside.
His fingers touch something soft and definitely fuzzy, and Izuku yelps.
“Midoriya?” Todoroki lurches in his direction, alarmed.
“It’s fine- It’s fine it’s fine,” Izuku babbles, “I was just startled by... this?” And although the texture is sending waves of goosebumps up and down his arms, he closes his grip around the fuzzy thing and pulls it out.
He and Todoroki stare together, wide eyed and baffled, at the rabbit’s foot keychain Izuku holds in his hand.
Izuku nods, mouth hanging open slightly. The rabbit’s foot is very green. Like someone bought a can of something that would have a radioactive warning label on it if it was in a cartoon, and then painted it all over the fur. He quickly shifts his grip on it from the foot itself to the chain, wary of the bright neon color rubbing off on the white of his gloves.
“Is this a… threat?” Izuku wonders, feeling unable to look away. The way the foot dangles limply down is almost unsettling. “Everyone in class is always saying I hop around like a bunny, so is this supposed to be my foot?” His words pick up speed as his thoughts do, “Is someone saying they’re going to cut off my foot?”
“I don’t think anyone’s saying that, Midoriya.” Todoroki says, though he looks just as bewildered. “Aren’t these meant to be good luck?”
“Are they?” Izuku asks, voice cracking. “Really? Is that something you know or are you just guessing?”
He almost forgets that they’re in the middle of a class exercise, not until Dark Shadow comes swooping around the corner, midnight black claws sharp as nails and held out to slash at them. Izuku reacts quickly, despite initially being caught off guard. He palms the rabbit foot and their flag in one fist, grabs Todoroki around the middle, and leaps them both upwards out of Dark Shadow’s reach with a single strong kick against the ground.
“Woah, close one!” Izuku says breathlessly, as he lands on the top of one of the mock buildings in Ground Beta and sets Todoroki down. “Maybe this thing really is lucky.” He adds, pulling up the rabbit’s foot to squint at it.
“Worry about that some other time, maybe?” Todoroki calls out, from where he’s standing at the edge of the roof and letting out streams of fire to ward Tokoyami and Jirou away.
“O-oh! Right!” Izuku steps back from the edge of the roof so he can’t be seen, then shoves the rabbit’s foot and the flag back into the open pouch.
“What’s the plan?” Todoroki asks when Izuku returns, though his eyes stay fixed on the sheet of ice he’s spreading down the side of the building, to prevent anyone from scaling it. Tokoyami and Dark Shadow continue to make attempts to reach them, but Jirou is no longer visible.
“Well, first, I can’t see Jirou anymore, so I think we should get off this roof.” Izuku manages to say, right before the entire structure begins to pulse and shake, undeniably heartbeat-like.
He grabs Todoroki again, and leaps.
The rest of the exercise passes in a blur after that, the rabbit’s foot forgotten as Izuku focuses on making sure he and Todoroki do well. It isn’t until the fighting has died down and class has ended that he remembers it, when he turns his pouches out to return the flags he and Todoroki had gotten, and the neon green foot comes rolling into his palm as well.
“Oh, goodness - That's quite the good luck charm you've got there, but my boy... where did you get that?” All Might asks, stupefied, as he allows Izuku to pass the flags into his large hands.
“Uh, I don’t know.” Izuku answers, quietly relieved at the confirmation that it is for good luck. He considers the foot seriously for a moment, before glancing over his shoulder at the rest of his class.
No one is paying any attention. Izuku is the last one to give his team’s flags to All Might, and everyone else is already making their way back to the locker rooms, laughing and chatting as they go.
Izuku rubs at the fuzzy texture of the rabbit’s foot again, wishing he could feel it without his gloves on. He can tell that it's soft from how it gives beneath his fingers, but he wants to know how soft. He wants to roll it in his hand and let its good luck rub off on him as he smooths the fur down.
But for now, he shoves it back into one of his pouches without a word, and runs to catch up to his classmates.
For awhile, he thinks maybe that's it. After three gifts, the foot was the final step of escalation, and there wouldn't be any more.
Izuku continues to be wrong.
His eyes burn from how long he's been working, and the numbers swim on the page in front of him, dancing and taunting Izuku with their variables. He groans and lets his head droop down until his forehead hits the top of his desk with a soft thunk, while closing his eyes and cutting off his view of the worksheet.
When will I ever need to solve a polynomial equation while doing hero work? He thinks to himself, pressing on his aching temple with the butt of his pencil. I know how to apply physics when I need to, but I doubt a villain is going to whip out a pop quiz on me.
He tilts his head until it’s his cheek pressing into the desk, and peeks an eye open. His line of All Might figures stare at him intensely.
“Don’t look at me like that.” Izuku mumbles.
He slides his eyes to the side, and finds Daichan, with her new green rabbit foot necklace, also watching him. She doesn’t even have her eyes open and it somehow feels more judgemental than the stare of the All Mights.
“Alright, alright. I’ll get back to it.” With a sigh, Izuku pushes himself up from his desk chair and heads for his curtains, in hopes that a little sunlight will energize him and give him the strength he needs to try and tackle his math homework. He pulls them open, and then turns to go back to his desk, before doing an abrupt double-take.
“Oh, this is just getting ridiculous now!”
Outside his window, strung up on the small balcony railing, is a rainbow line of Omamori charms. They clink softly together like little wind chimes, their different characters and decorations winking brightly in the sun.
Izuku throws open his window and starts grabbing at them.
When he stomps into the common room, he doubts anyone expects him to dump a huge pile of charms out of his arms and onto the center table. He gestures to the pile with frustrated arm motions and stuttered stops and starts, before grabbing one and holding it up like he’s Perseus and has the head of Medusa in his grasp.
“Where did you guys even get all these?” Izuku asks loudly to everyone there, shaking the charm in his hand. The little bell tied to its bow rings wildly, seeming almost deafening in the sudden quiet of the room. “Did you break out of UA and rob a shrine when Aizawa-sensei wasn’t looking?”
“Oh, I was definitely looking. I went with them.” Aizawa says, as he walks into the room with Eri in his arms.
All of Izuku’s annoyance at his friends gets immediately back seated for the sight of Eri with her head tucked underneath Aizawa’s chin, “Eri!”
“Deku!” Eri calls back. She reaches for him from across the room, tiny hands making small grabbing motions as she starts squirming to get out of Aizawa’s hold. He sets her down gently to a chorus of coos of how cute she is, and she runs the rest of the way to Izuku.
“Aw Eri-chan, you’ve decided to visit us!” Ochako says, as Izuku picks Eri up. She giggles as he bounces her a bit, the sound high and squeaky, like a dented bell doing its best to still ring. Eri’s laughter always sounds a bit like that; broken, unpracticed and awkward. She isn’t used to doing it, still isn’t quite sure how to.
She’s still wary of touch from other people, but Izuku knows he’s one of the few she trusts and almost eagerly reaches out to for physical affection. Whenever Eri wants it, picking her up and showing her she’s safe and loved will always be his priority.
“She has something for Midoriya.” Aizawa says, the most gently encouraging any of his class has ever heard him.
Eri grows bashful, and she glances from Aizawa to Izuku for a few moments of quiet, them letting her take her time, before she reaches for her bag and opens it.
She pulls out a tiny little fabric plush toy, clearly hand made. It’s a goldfish, the brightest orange Izuku has ever seen, with bulging black button eyes and an already fraying tail.
“Nejire-nee told me that Ochako-nee told her everyone was giving you good luck things.” Eri whispers, voice wispy and small, “So I wanted to give you one too.”
Izuku clutches Eri closer, to hold her up better while he carefully moves his left hand to take the goldfish as gently as he can. It’s soft, so very, very soft.
“Thank you Eri,” He says, voice just as soft as the plush, “I love it.”
Eri beams at him, a shining smile as bright as the sun that she’s only just figured out. The day she learns that flashing that smile could get her anything she wants, is the day the world bows to its new ruler.
Izuku smiles back, and resists the urge to wipe the moisture from his eyes with the hand still holding the little goldfish. He’ll never forgive himself if he stains it with salty tears within the first five minutes of having it.
“That’s so nice of you, Eri-chan.” Tsuyu says, coming up on Izuku’s right side, peering over his shoulder at the goldfish and Eri’s blushing face, “You did a very good job. If you want, I could teach you more about sewing, so you can make even more.”
“Really?” Eri gasps, eyes lighting up.
Tsuyu nods, “I patch up my little siblings’ toys all the time, I can give you lots of tips - kero.”
Unused to vocalizing her excitement, Eri just moves her hands in quick little motions, and her smile has turned up to 11. Izuku throws a grateful look Tsuyu's way, to which she responds with a warm pat on his shoulder with one of her large hands.
But then, a much smaller hand tugs at his shirt with the utmost hesitance, and Eri asks, “Deku, what’re those?”
Blinking, Izuku turns his attention back to Eri, to find her eyes fixed with interest on the colorful pile of omamori charms still laid out on the low table.
“Eri nooooo.” Kaminari whispers in despair in the background.
For a moment of thoughtful silence that must be terrifying for the rest of the class, Izuku stares at the pile of charms. Slowly, his eyes slide back to the goldfish gift in his hand, and then, he grins.
“They’re charms for all sorts of things, but also luck, like this goldfish you just gave me.” Izuku explains, as he sets Eri down and nudges her closer to the table, nodding that it’s alright for her to pick up any of the tags. With trembling little fingers, Eri picks out a “Happiness” omamori, and stares with a wide open, innocent fascination at the smiling cartoon bear face embroidered on it.
Izuku watches her for a moment, before Kirishima crouches on the other side of the table and asks, “Do you like that one, Eri-chan?”
Eri glances up at Kirishima sharply, and her cheeks go pink with bashfulness again. She tucks her head back down as she nods.
“You can keep it, if you want.” Izuku says softly, “And if there are any more you like, you can keep those too. That one’s for happiness.”
“It’s cute.” Eri mumbles to the charm, “I like bears… they like apples like I do.”
“They do, don’t they?” Izuku glances back to the pile of charms, “And yknow what, I bet there’s enough charms in here for everyone in the class to find one they like.” Izuku throws a look over his shoulder at his classmates who are in the common room, grinning once more. This time, without Eri to see it, the sharp edge of mischief in it is impossible to miss. “Do you want to help me give them out?”
Eri nods eagerly, and so, even while Kirishima watches from the other side of the table in dismay, Izuku scoops up a few of the charms and deposits them into Eri’s arms. “Let’s get started then!”
While Eri still isn’t used to receiving gifts, she absolutely loves to give them. The freedom of it, and the joy it brings to other people, excites her. All Izuku has to do is sit back and let her loose. He deposits himself on the couch, running his fingers idly over the goldfish’s soft fabric body to drink in the texture, while he watches Eri dash around the room and shyly give charms to anyone who walks in.
“I don’t know what this one means, but it’s pink like you!”
“This one’s got a little orange ribbon - it matches your costume, Bakugou-san.”
“There’s a little cat on this one… do you want it?”
“And Dark Shadow gets one too!”
She’s absolutely unstoppable. No one can refuse her.
A weight beside him on the couch, making the cushions dip down, diverts Izuku’s attention away from Eri. He glances over to see Aizawa sitting beside him, an eyebrow raised, “Very clever, problem child.” He says.
Izuku ducks his head down, to hide his barely held back smirk, “I just thought it’d be a nice thing to do for my friends, Aizawa-sensei. Especially after all the gifts they’ve been giving me. Plus, Eri is having fun with it.”
“This is good for Eri’s confidence.” Aizawa comments with a thoughtful hum.
Then, Eri appears in front of them, shoving a red omamori with a teal bow at Izuku and a black omamori with gold lettering at Aizawa, “For you!” She squeaks, running off again before Aizawa can get over his shock enough to say anything.
Izuku covers his mouth with a hand to smother his snickers when Aizawa glares at him, but he watches as his teacher tucks the success charm into his scarf with the utmost care.
“No, no, absolutely not.”
There’s another box on his desk today, this one bigger and with more care put into its appearance than the first. Gone is the plain cardboard and a single green ribbon, now there’s actual wrapping paper, a dark green, with a cutesy dark blue ribbon dotted by small white stars.
“I’m not opening this.” Izuku says resolutely. “The lucky cat was cute, and the clover pin was nice, I liked both of those. I’m grateful for them. But then there was the rabbit’s foot, and all those omamori charms.” He crosses his arms stubbornly, “I refuse to receive one more good luck thing. I refuse.”
“You don’t even know if it is a good luck thing.” Shinsou points out.
Izuku narrows his eyes in Shinsou’s direction, and keeps his arms firmly crossed.
“If we reassure you that it’s nothing bad and won't get you in trouble, will you open it?” Uraraka asks, her eyes wide and pleading. “The whole class worked hard on this one for you, Deku.”
“I knew you were all in on it.” Izuku hisses.
“Aizawa-sensei basically outed us when he told you he went with us to buy the omamori.” Jirou says, “So that really wasn’t a hard thing to guess.”
“I genuinely didn’t know about the rabbit’s foot though.” Todoroki says with a raised hand, to get Izuku’s attention. “Was as shocked by it as you were when you pulled it out during training.”
Izuku pouts, “I really do appreciate the sentiment,” He says to everyone, “But I’ve been tense all week wondering when the next thing is going to show up. I’ll only open this if it’s the last one.”
“We promise it is!” Ashido whines, clasping her hands together, pleading with him to believe, “Kirishima wanted to carve the words good luck into your desk but we all vetoed that, and that was the last idea we had, so you don’t have to worry about anything else!”
“Ashido!” Kirishima cries out, betrayed.
“That wasn’t really the last idea.” Shinsou says thoughtfully, “There was that thing with the lady bugs we almost convinced Koda to help with, but he said no.”
Izuku is going to lose his mind. “Lady bugs?!”
“That’s not important!” Uraraka cuts in, waving her hands in front of Izuku’s face to shoo away any thoughts of carved words covering his desk like a badly made quilt and a swarm of ladybugs suffocating him. “What is important is this gift, right here. The last one.” Her final words are said through a tight smile, directed pointedly towards Ashido and Shinsou. Ashido looks appropriately chastised, but Shinsou is far too smug.
When Uraraka looks back at him, Izuku contemplates her expression; how genuine it is, how hopeful. He lets his gaze slide over the rest of the class as well, and everyone - aside from Kacchan, of course - has the same hopeful gleam in their eyes.
So, with the entire class eagerly watching, Izuku sighs, gives in, and opens the box.
The box almost overflows when Izuku finally tears away the wrapping paper and pulls up the tape, releasing the pressure. It’s full to bursting, and the small things that fill it are far too eager to escape and fly free.
Shocked, Izuku boggles at the contents. Sitting in the box in front of him is a massive pile of folded paper cranes, of all different sizes and colors. Some are made of plain paper, others with intricate traditional origami patterns on their wings. Although there seems to be an innumerable amount, Izuku thinks he has an idea of exactly how many there are.
“Guys…” He whispers. Gingerly, he reaches out, and takes a small crane into his crooked right hand. It’s one of the ones on the smaller side, with a maroon and silver geometric design on its paper. “Did you really…? How long did this take?”
"Twelve of us folded 53, and seven folded 52." Yaoyorozu supplies, “It didn’t take too long after we divided it up like that.”
“We thought you deserved a wish.” Uraraka says gently, reaching out to cup her hands around Izuku's.
Oh, his hand is shaking. He hadn't noticed, but now Uraraka is holding it steady.
“I don’t know what to wish for.” He admits in a small voice. He already has everything he had ever wanted; friends, a quirk, a place in UA on his way to being a real hero. What else could he possibly ask for? Wouldn’t asking for anything more be selfish?
Iida clears his throat, “Here is a suggestion: no more villain attacks.”
“Or you could wish for stronger bones." Todoroki says, completely serious.
"Maybe to not lose the use of your stupid shitty already useless arms." Bakugou, surprisingly, pitches in.
"It's your wish." Uraraka says firmly, giving Izuku's hand a squeeze. He looks at the little crane resting there, small in his palm and protected by his curled fingers.
Choked up now, Izuku lets out a small, watery laugh, “If I say something cheesy like ‘I already have everything I ever wanted’ would that be acceptable to you guys?”
“Absolutely not.” Uraraka says, with a small laugh of her own.
“Midoriya, are you crying again?”
Izuku shoves the heel of his free hand against an eye, “I’m trying not to.”
No one seems to be judging him for how misty-eyed he’s getting though - no, in fact, Izuku is feeling nothing but tenderness and warmth from his friends. It makes something warm swell inside of him, in return. Something light and almost overwhelming with how it fills him up and makes his heart beat faster.
Maybe... Izuku thinks, unable to take his eyes off of the 1000 paper cranes folded just for him, by his classmates who care enough about his safety to try and take fate into their own hands and turn his luck around themselves, Maybe this is what it feels like to be happy, really happy.